Thursday, February 28, 2008

2008 NFL Mock Draft

1. Miami Dolphins
Chris Long, DE/OLB, 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. Although he didn't perform the linebacker drills, Long excelled at the NFL combine and showed the requisite athleticism to be a 3-4 outside linebacker.

2. St. Louis Rams
Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Orlando Pace has been injured two years in a row and doesn't have many seasons ahead of him. 2005 first-rounder Alex Barron, while showing flashes of his potential, has mostly been a disappointment. If Pace and Barron are healthy, Long could start at guard for a season before taking over one of the tackle positions.

3. 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.

4. Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
I think defensive tackle is the smarter pick, but I just don't see Al Davis passing on a big time SEC running back like Darren McFadden. I'm sure Mr. Davis has visions of Bo Jackson dancing through his head.

5. Kansas City Chiefs
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
The Chiefs have bigger needs than defensive tackle, but last year's first-day draft picks Turk Mcbride and Tank Tyler still have a lot to prove, while Alfonso Boone is solid but not spectacular.

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. OLB Mike Vrabel will be 33, while ILBs Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau will be 35 and 39 respectively. Even heralded 2007 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
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
The Bengals have had a weakness at defensive tackle for years now. It's time for them to finally address the problem in the first round.

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 upside and could be a starter someday but is still a bit raw.

11. Buffalo Bills
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
Paul Posluszny will be back from injury to start at middle linebacker, while the strongside is all set with Angelo Crowell. But a replacement for Keith Ellison on the weakside is in order.

12. Denver Broncos
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
Brandon Marshall had a breakout season and Brandon Stokley was back to being one of the best slot receivers in the game (ranked 8th in DVOA among receivers with at least 50 passes thrown their way), but with Javon Walker on his way out, the Broncos need a number two receiver who can stretch the field and help in the return game.

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 could help bring stability and consistency to the Detroit line, allowing Jeff Backus to move to the right side where he would be a better fit.

16. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
I don't have Stewart 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
Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt
Joey Galloway is 36. Ike Hilliard turns 32 in April. Michael Clayton hasn't delivered on the promise shown his rookie season, and Maurice Stovall has caught only 17 passes in two seasons.

21. Washington Redskins
James Hardy, WR, Indiana
Washington has a couple of good receivers in Santana Moss and Antwan Randal El, but they need to add a bigger target to help young quarterback Jason Campbell, especially in the red zone and on critical third downs.

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
Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
I'm not sold on Vince Young, but if he’s going to succeed, the Titans must supply him with better weapons.

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
Branden Albert, G, Virginia
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, Albert makes sense as a guy who can backup at guard or tackle until he's ready to start in a year or two at one of those positions on the right side.

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. Recently acquired Troy Williamson was a bust in Minnesota after three seasons in the league. Short version: the Jags need lots of help at the receiver spot.

28. Dallas Cowboys
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Dallas would hope that Felix Jones' speed would be a fine complement to Marion Barber III's punishing style. Jones could also 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

37. Oakland Raiders
Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame

35. Kansas City Chiefs
Branden Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech

36. New York Jets
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College

34. Atlanta Falcons
Curtis Lofton, MLB, Oklahoma

38. Baltimore Ravens
Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida

39. San Francisco 49ers
Cliff Avril, DE/OLB, Purdue

40. New Orleans Saints
Erin Henderson, LB, Maryland

41. Buffalo Bills
Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue

42. Denver Broncos
Josh Barrett, SS, Arizona State

43. Carolina Panthers
Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC

44. Chicago Bears
Chad Henne, QB, Michigan

45. Detroit Lions
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

46. Cincinnati Bengals
Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers

47. Minnesota Vikings
Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan

48. Atlanta Falcons (from Houston Texans)
Pat Sims, DT, Auburn

49. Philadelphia Eagles
Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn

50. Arizona Cardinals
Jason Jones, DE, Eastern Michigan

51. Washington Redskins
Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

52. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeMario Pressley, DT, North Carolina State

53. Pittsburgh Steelers
Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska

54. Tennessee Titans
Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas

55. Seattle Seahawks
John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame

56. Cleveland Browns
Matt Forté, RB, Tulane

57. Miami Dolphins (from San Diego Chargers)
Brad Cottam, TE, Tennessee

58. Jacksonville Jaguars
Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn

59. Indianapolis Colts
Marcus Howard, DE, Georgia

60. Green Bay Packers
Fred Davis, TE, USC

61. Dallas Cowboys
Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California

62. New York Giants
Charles Godfrey, CB, Iowa

63. New England Patriots
Jonathan Goff, ILB, Vanderbilt

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