1. Miami Dolphins
Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Playing for Al Groh at Virginia as well as he did, and being the son of a Hall-of-Famer, makes Chris Long a "Parcells guy" by association. The only question is if he's as big as listed, and hence, if has the size to hold up in the two-gap defensive scheme the Dolphins will be installing. If that's not the case, then the question becomes does he have the athleticism to be a 3-4 linebacker, or is he purely a 4-3 end at the next level.
2. St. Louis Rams
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
La'Roi Glover will turn 34 in July. And 2006 third-rounder Claude Wroten hasn't yet shown that he can step in and be a quality starter. Dorsey would immediately improve the Rams front four and possibly allow 2007 first-rounder Adam Carriker to move to left defensive end.
3. Oakland Raiders
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
The Raiders must get better along the defensive line, especially at tackle. Warren Sapp's retirement leaves Oakland with Terdell Sands, who couldn't keep his starting job last year, and the ever inconsistent Gerard Warren. Tyler Brayton is a free agent coming off of his poorest season. And the best of the bunch, Tommy Kelly, is a free agent coming off of an ACL injury.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
The Falcons best quarterback in 2007 was Chris Redman, who happens to be a free agent. Byron Leftwich was recently released (good move), and Joey Harrington is a $2.5 million backup. Yes, the Falcons have many needs, but perhaps none bigger than the most important position in the game.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Jake Long, OT, Michigan
The Kansas City offensive line needs serious help. If this is the way the board falls, then this pick should be a no-brainer. Long should be able to step in and play left tackle the way Cleveland's 2007 first-rounder Joe Thomas did and San Diego's 2006 second-round Marcus McNeil did. That would allow Damion McIntosh to move to either right tackle or guard where he would be better suited.
6. New York Jets
Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio St.
The Jets re-signed pass rusher Bryan Thomas after a career-year in 2006; the result: a lackluster performance similar to his first four seasons. They need to get more pressure and adding Gholston will help accomplish that.
7. New England Patriots (from San Francisco 49ers)
Derrick Harvey, DE/OLB, Florida
By the time next season gets rolling along, the Pats linebacking corps will be really old. OLBs Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin will be 33 and 31 respectively. ILBs Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau will be 35 and 39! Even heralded free-agent signing Adalius Thomas will be 31. Since the Pats defense looked better with Thomas at ILB, acquiring an OLB should probably be the higher priority.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
Either Steve McNair or Kyle Boller will be back next year, but probably not both. Troy Smith's future with the Ravens is almost certainly as a backup.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
With the top defensive line prospects off the board, the Bengals select the best defensive player available. The Bengals linebackers played woefully last year, though a lot of that can be attributed to losing their starters (as well as a couple of backups) to injuries.
10. New Orleans Saints
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Mike McKenzie is coming off an injury. Jason David was an awful free agency signing, looking a lot like Fred Thomas in 2006 only somehow playing even worse. 2007 third-rounder Usama Young has some upside and could be a starter, but with the top front-7 guys off the board, the Saints have to get a potential starter.
11. Buffalo Bills
Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
The Bills simply aren't going to compete in the AFC by scoring—as they did in 2007—15.8 points per game. They must add more weapons to the offense.
12. Denver Broncos
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Although selecting a running back this high might be uncharacteristic of the Broncos, McFadden is too big of a talent to pass up. Denver's one-cut system would be a perfect fit for him, and McFadden wouldn't squawk at sharing some of the load with Selvin Young.
13. Carolina Panthers
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
The Panthers need to rebuild their offensive line to help keep Jake Delhomme healthy and Matt Moore on the sidelines for another season or two, where he can be brought along slowly the way Tony Romo was in Dallas.
14. Chicago Bears
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
It's time to admit that Cedric Benson was a bust and move on. As much as the Bears need improvement at QB, Mendenhall is the kind of elite runner who is actually worth a first-round pick: the kind of back whose presence can help the passing game by making the defense play eight in the box.
15. Detroit Lions
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Williams would allow the Lions to finally move Jeff Backus to the right side where he would be a better fit.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Stewart is another prospect I don't have rated as high as many others do. Still, I can't help imaging Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt imaging Stewart bringing a power running game to Arizona the way Jerome Bettis brought it in Pittsburgh.
17. Minnesota Vikings
Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
The Vikings pass rush improved last year from a 4.6% adjusted sack rate in 2006 (ranked 31st) all the way up to a 5.5% adjusted sack rate (ranked 28th). Yeah, that's not going to cut it. I'm still tempted to sneak Jason Jones in here as I did in my first mock of the year (and a few subsequent ones), but conventional wisdom still says that's too big of a reach.
18. Houston Texans
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
New offensive line coach Alex Gibbs prefers to select lower round linemen and coach them up, so it seems highly unlikely the Texans will use their first round choice on a left tackle. Instead, they should turn to the other side of the ball. Coming off his knee injury, Dunta Robinson could miss significant time in 2008. If the Texans want to compete, they will have to select someone who can help their secondary immediately.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
Both starting tackles, Jon Runyan and Tre Thomas, are hitting their mid-thirites and entering the last year of their respective contracts. 2006 second rounder Winston Justice hasn't performed well when given the chance.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
Joey Galloway is 36. It's time the Bucs brought in a young WR who can stretch the field.
21. Washington Redskins
Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
Redskins look to improve their pass rush and get younger on the defensive line. Campbell has the size to be a perfect complement to undersized right end Andre Carter.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland Browns)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
If Dallas head coach Wade Phillips had time to watch his old team the Chargers last year, he probably found himself wishing he had cornerback Antonio Cromartie with him in Big D. Well, he can't have Antonio, but if the board falls this way he can have Antonio's cousin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, destined to be known simply as DRC.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kentwan Balmer, DT/DE, North Carolina
Although the offensive line might be their biggest area of need, the Steelers also need to get younger on the defensive line. Balmer checked in at 6'4.5" and 308 lbs.—prototypical size for a 3-4 DE.
24. Tennessee Titans
Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
I'm not sold on Vince Young, but if he’s going to succeed, the Titans must surround him with more weapons. Although given to lapses in concentration, Manningham is arguably the “playmakingest” receiver in this year's draft.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Sam Baker, OT/G, USC
Running back would have to be a strong consideration here as well, but the offensive line didn't play very well last year and is going to require a major infusion of talent this off season, meaning a free agent or two, in addition to a couple of draft picks. At the Senior Bowl, Baker's arms measured shorter than is hoped for by NFL scouts, but he performed well all week. Seattle general manager Tim Ruskell won't shy away from picking a player because of measurables, e.g. 2005 fifth-rounder Lofa Tatupu, who many thought was a huge reach and blunder. With all of the top tackles off the board, Virginia guard Branden Albert could also be a possibility.
26. San Diego Chargers
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
With the improvement of WR Vincent Jackson, the arrival of Chris Chambers (who played better than he had in years), and the emergence of All-Pro CB Antonio Cromartie, the Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the league. It's a good thing, too, because they don't have many draft picks. Ideally, they would trade down to help build depth, but if they can't do that, Cherilus would make sense as a guy to be groomed as the eventual starting right tackle.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
2004 first-rounder Reggie Williams had his best season, and proved to be a red zone weapon, as he put up 10 TDs, but he's still not a number one receiver. Ernest Wilford is a solid possession receiver, but he's a free agent and not likely to return. 2005 first-rounder Matt Jones does little more than catch jump balls. Dennis Northcutt is neither a number one nor number two receiver, and is questionable as a three. Short version: the Jags need lots of help at the receiver spot.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Felix Jones' speed would be a fine complement to Marion Barber III's crash-and-romp running style. In addition, Jones could help improve the consistency of the kick returns.
29. Green Bay Packers
Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana
Arguably the best pure man-to-man cover guy in the draft, Porter would be a perfect fit for the Packer defense. He could step in and immediately challenge to be the nickel back. After a year or two in the NFL, he should be able to step up and replace Al Harris or Charles Woodson.
30. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis Colts)
Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
Darrell Jackson looked worse in San Fran than he did in Seattle, and given all of the struggles had had in the Emerald City, that's a far cry from a good thing. Arnaz Battle is little more than steady, while Ashley Lelie barely resembles a pro wide out anymore.
31. New York Giants
Dan Connor, OLB, Penn State
Kawika Mitchell played better as the season wore on, but he will be a free agent. 2006 third-rounder Gerris Wilkinson showed flashes in relief of Mitchell, but is not to be counted on as a starter. Mathias Kiwanuka's conversion from defensive end had its moments, but he should be returned to the rotation along the line. All of which points to the Giants needing a linebacker with their first pick.
32. Miami Dolphins
Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
33. St. Louis Rams
Xavier Adibi, OLB, Virginia Tech
34. Atlanta Falcons
Curtis Lofton, MLB, Oklahoma
35. Kansas City Chiefs
Branden Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
36. New York Jets
Branden Albert, G, Virginia
37. Oakland Raiders
Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California
38. Baltimore Ravens
Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt
39. San Francisco 49ers
Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
40. New Orleans Saints
John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame
41. Buffalo Bills
Erin Henderson, LB, Maryland
42. Denver Broncos
Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
43. Carolina Panthers
Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
44. Chicago Bears
Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
45. Detroit Lions
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
46. Cincinnati Bengals
Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas
47. Minnesota Vikings
James Hardy, WR, Indiana
48. Atlanta Falcons (from Houston Texans)
Early Doucet, WR, LSU
49. Philadelphia Eagles
Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State
50. Arizona Cardinals
Jason Jones, DE, Eastern Michigan
51. Washington Redskins
Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn
52. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeMario Pressley, DT, North Carolina State
53. Pittsburgh Steelers
Cliff Avril, DE/OLB, Purdue
54. Tennessee Titans
Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
55. Seattle Seahawks
Fred Davis, TE, USC
56. Cleveland Browns
Matt Forté, RB, Tulane
57. Miami Dolphins (from San Diego Chargers)
Phillip Wheeler, LB, Georgia Tech
58. Jacksonville Jaguars
Reggie Smith, DB, Oklahoma
59. Indianapolis Colts
Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas
60. Green Bay Packers
Kellen Davis, TE, Michigan State
61. Dallas Cowboys
Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech
62. New York Giants
Charles Godfrey, CB, Iowa
63. New England Patriots
Jonathan Goff, ILB, Vanderbilt