Contains first 33 picks. Look for a two-rounder right before the draft.
For all intents and purposes there are no trades.
1. Miami Dolphins- Jake Long, OT, Michigan
To me, this pick just makes sense. The Miami Dolphins get a consensus top 3 pick at what is widely considered to be their greatest area of need. Here is a player who can be entrenched along the OL for the next 10 seasons, health providing, and restore some consistency to a Dolphins offence that has been anything but. Fiscally, it makes sense, too, as even top Pro Bowlers aren’t signed to as large a contract as Chris Long would purport to be.
2. St. Louis Rams- Chris Long, DE, Virginia
The Rams find exactly what they’re looking for. Great against the pass, great against the run, and a motor that never stops running. This is a big step toward solidifying a defense that looks to have corrected some of its run-stopping difficulties through the selection of Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan, and can now concentrate on rushing the passer, allowing third year corner Tye Hill and standout FS Oshimogho Atogwe to come into their own in the secondary.
3. Atlanta Falcons- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Dorsey is probably the DBPA at this point, and whilst obvious consideration goes to Matt Ryan, they come away with a mainstay- and perhaps most importantly- a disruptive force in the middle, equipping John Abraham and co. to do what they do best.
4. Oakland Raiders- Vernon Gholston, DE, OSU
Fine physical specimen that Al Davis will just love. The best pure pass rusher in this class, Gholston is also a bit of a “boom or bust” gamble, but he should provide some immediate assistance to one of the NFL’s worst defences. Pro Bowl corner Namadia Asoughma and former first rounder Fabian Washington should be increasingly productive. Darren McFadden is not the pick due to the emergence and re-signing of Justin Fargas (who did wonders for my fantasy team last season).
5. Kansas City Chiefs- Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
I think that right here, a trade is potentially likely if a team so happens to be enamoured with Darren McFadden. At this point, it’s a toss up between best player available Matt Ryan, or greatest need Ryan Clady (I’ve excluded McFadden due to the Larry Johnson factor). We saw a reach at pick 5 for an OT with Levi Brown last year, and I’m predicting we see another one right here.
6. New York Jets- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Possesses rare speed and agility, possibly the best player in the entire draft, and is the consensus pick if he lasts this long. Should also warrant serious consideration at picks 3 and 4. McFadden is a decisive runner in the Adrian Peterson mould, and should start immediately. Provides Kellen Clemens/ Chad Pennington with another dimension as a receiver, and takes the pressure off of the short passing game.
7. New England Patriots- Keith Rivers, LB, USC
I predict a trade here. I’ve not included it in my mock, but here’s what I feel will go down. New Orleans will trade up (throwing in their third and a future third or fourth) to select Sedrick Ellis, thus filling their most dire need, whilst allowing the Pats to select Rivers, who should be untouched at picks 8 and will likely slip by Cincinnati in favour of a DE or CB.
However, as there are no trades in this mock, the Pats stay put, and they select the best LB in the draft. All of the Pats starters are approaching or beyond thirty, and rivers has the ability to play inside or outside in a 3-4 system. Looks like the type of player who knows how to win, and should be a leader on and off the field for years to come. (If Laurinits came out, he’d be the pick here).
8. Baltimore Ravens- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Joy! The Ravens get the franchise signal caller they desire, and Ryan lands in a city wherein he can learn from former great Steve McNair and from their failures of former first rounder Kyle Boller. Baltimore hopes he’ll be the QB, the leader, and the playmaker they’ve been coveting since before the days of Trent Dilfer.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Perfect fit, though I think Ellis will go higher pending a trade. Amicable character should be just what franchise in turmoil Cincinnati is looking for. Of course, if something does perpetuate in the way of a Chad Johnson trade, WR could be the pick (though it would be a slight reach).
10. New Orleans Saints- Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
The Saints require help in the secondary. Jason David was crap. Randall Gay, I’m predicting, will be crap outside of the New England scheme that made him a superbowl winner. Let’s remember that even Troy Brown was successful as a corner in that scheme. McKelvin’s stock has soared after an excellent post-season. I believe Mike Jenkins will be the better player, but based off of current stock and projections, McKelvin gets the nod here.
11. Buffalo Bills- Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan St
Josh Reed? Please. Thomas has the size and speed teams covet, and should be an excellent addition for up-and-comer Trent Edwards opposite Lee Evans. I gave OL and CB consideration, but I believe those positions can be filled later in the draft due to a deep class.
12. Denver Broncos- Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Hasn’t his stock just soared? Williams has had an excellent few workouts, and has improved his status from an early-second to a mid-first round pick. His history with QB Jay Cutler makes him the choice here over the versatile Brandon Albert.
13. Carolina Panthers- Brandon Albert, OT, Virginia
Though Wharton and Gross were both re-signed, there remains a need at OG, or OT depending on the movements of the former. Albert is versatile enough to fill both holes, and that accounts for his escalating stock. Should be an excellent player in Carolina, whoever the quarterback is.
14. Chicago Bears- Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
A new starting lineman, potentially the best run-blocker in the class, makes Cedric Benson a happy boy. Moreover, it makes Rex Grossman a happy boy…for the time being. I still believe that if Brian Brohm lasts this far in round two, Grossman is as good as gone. This selection should improve an OL that dissipated mid-season through injury and age, becoming one of the league’s poorer units.
15. Detroit Lions- Godser Cherilus, OT, Boston College
Hey, hold up. Before I’m pelted with rotten fruit, at least let me explain. I see another trade here. Seeing how far Derrick Harvey has fallen is enough to get the Minnesota Vikings very excited. As the Lions are a divisional rival, they send their first, third, and a future third or fourth to allow them to land a pass-rusher, and allow the Lions to have their pick between Mendenhall (who may go to Arizona) and Cherilus.
As things stand, the Lions rushing offence was one of the worst last season. The George Foster experiment proved to be just that, as he was negated to a backup role after nine games, having Damien Woody shift over to the tackle position. This selection improves the running game as Cherilus is probably the second best pure RT in this class, allowing him to start on the right side opposite Backus and letting Woody slide back in to guard. I think that a RB needs not be found in the first round at all, as many teams have proven that success can be had with later round picks. Perhaps the 08 edition of Ryan Grant lies further on down the draft board.
16. Arizona Cardinals- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
Again, hold the “applause”… Wisenhunt has been insisting that the Cardinals use elements of both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes. They did not find success at all through the pass-rush last season, and with the departure of probably their best outside threat (not to take anything away from Bertrand Berry), Calvin Pace, the time seems right for a player who is versatile enough to play the down position or rush standing up. Mendenhall also warrants serious consideration, but he hardly sees the filed if the defense isn’t able to get off of it. Harvey is excellent value here as a top 10-15 talent.
17. Minnesota Vikings- Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
After seeing Derrick Harvey come so close…and yet fall so far, the Vikings pick up the consolation prise in Phillip Merling. Mind you, he’s not a bad consolation prise, either. The Vikings have significant needs (still) at DE, due to poor play and the unfortunate battle of Kenichi Udeze with Leukemia. I think Merling was probably outplayed by Quentin Groves in the Tigers/Tigers bowl game, but excellent workouts make him the pick.
18. Houston Texans- Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Sigh… there’s still not an OT for the Texans. Mendenhall is probably the best player available right now, and it only makes sense to add him to a woeful cohort that currently includes Green Bay rejects Samkon Gado and Ahman Green and proof that speed, or a lack thereof does indeed kill (your NFL career) Ron Dayne.
19. Philadelphia Eagles- Mike Jenkins, CB, SFU
Ideally, the Eagles would be taking home a prize pony such as Chris Williams to start along the OL pending the retirement of their current batch of soon-to-be NFL analysts. But alas. Lito Sheppard is more than likely on the trading block, and as things stand there’s little in the way of depth behind Sheldon Brown and the very rich Asante Samuel. WR also warrants strong consideration, but for the time being, Reggie Brown, LJ Smith and Kevin Curtis will suffice.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee St.
Tampa jumps at the chance to select the corner with the most upside in the draft. Ronde Barber is no spring chicken, and with little else in the secondary, this move only makes sense. Again, wide receiver is neglected due to needs elsewhere, but if the pick isn’t spend on a CB, look for it to be made in that area.
21. Washington Redskins- Calias Campbell, DE, Miami
I’m sure it would shock none of you to learn that in the football world, Dan Snyder is about as useful as a pair of wet socks. The man is a football buffoon. And that’s why he vetoes everyone else in the organisation to select Campbell, who might last to his pick in round 2 anyway. In all seriousness, the Skins do have needs along the DL, and though Campbell may have had a poor junior campaign, he does have excellent physical capabilities, and I think Snyder will consider that worth the gamble.
22. Dallas Cowboys- Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Not wanting Jones to slip into the arms of Seattle, Jacksonville or San Diego, the Cowboys take Felix Jones here to be the Speedy to Marion Barber’s Gonzales. The loss of Julius Jones, and Garret’s prior success with a two back system makes the agile Jones the pick.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers- Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Ouch. Steelers’ fans are really in a poor position here. I believe a lot was riding on the possibility that one of the top OT/G’s would be available at this point. But they aren’t. Do I envision a trade-down? You bet I do. Where? I’ve really very little idea. Perhaps a good fit is the New York Giants, who could be looking to add a Dan Conner or Jerod Mayo (who has fallen rather dramatically). Otherwise, it could be a team like St. Louis, coveting Sweed, Kenny Phillips or DeSean Jackson, or San Francisco chasing a WR.
Right now, though, Ben Roethlisberger’s campaign for a Big WR to play alongside the small (and ageing) Hines Ward, and the pocket rocket Santonio Holmes is halted with the selection of Sweed, who has an apt combination of size and speed that should be very well suited to the Steelers offence.
24. Tennessee Titans- DeSean Jackson, WR, California
As disappointed as Vince Young is not to see his former Longhorn team-mate Sweed on the way to Tennessee, DeSean Jackson might end up being the better player. WR is a need, though I like Reggie Williams a lot, and Jackson has fantastic big-play capabilities, as well as terrific speed.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
Ken Hamlin left, Michael Boulware is average, and Phillips purports to be the next best thing coming out of the school that produced Ed Reed, Sean Taylor and Brandon Merriweather. Jonathan Stewart is the other considered player, but they can find apt value later in a Mike Hart or Ray Rice.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars- Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn
The Jags need a defensive end to reach the passer more quickly, and the speedy Groves out of Auburn fits the bill very nicely. WR could also be considered, due to the failure of the Matt Jones Experience.
27. San Diego Chargers- Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
The Bolts have the luxury of selecting the best player available in Mayo, who should be long gone by now. He can come in and play immediately inside, and should be a leader on that defense.
28. Dallas Cowboys- Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
I don’t think Wade Phillips or Jerry Jones takes a chance on another player with significant “Character concerns” so a guy like Aquib Talib is out of the picture. Terrell Owens is enough of a headache for the franchise. Flowers doesn’t have good footspeed, but is one of the most physical corners to come out in the last 5 years. The cowboys need a nickel corner to become a future starter, and Flowers could be the guy…Just don’t line him up across from Kevin Curtis.
29. San Francisco *****- Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
Wide receiver is also very likely here, but I’m taken by the thought of the Niners having two stellar players side by side for the next ten years. Conners is the next big thing coming out of Linebacker U, and for those not convinced, have a look at the way Paul Pozluszny played for the Bills this past season. Mike Martz has been able to make his offence work with guys like Mike Furrey as top targets, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a no-name have a 70 catch year this year. The addition of Isaac Bruce also helps address this position significantly.
30. Green Bay Packers- Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
There’s little depth beyond Al Harris and Charles Woodson, who are erring on the wrong side of thirty, so Cason seems like a great fit. Again, it’s not Talib due to poor character (Three failed drug tests? Relly, Aquib, you’re a pro-athlete). He should become a key piece of a dominant Green Bay puzzle.
31. New York Giants- Justin King, CB, Penn St.
With the very last pick of round one, the Giants grab a cornerback. There’s still great value down here, and King has all the tools to be successful. Sam Madison is ageing, but Corey Webster really came on down the Superbowl stretch. Depth is at least necessary, but King should be starting in a year or two.
32. Miami Dolphins- Who cares? (It'll probably be a LB or a WR, so let's say Curtis Lofton from Oklahoma?)
33. St. Louis Rams- James Hardy, WR, Indianna.