Sunday, April 20, 2008

2008 NFL Mock Draft

Only one round this time, but I'm including something I don't usually do: a couple of projected trades.

1. Miami Dolphins
Jake Long, OT, Michigan
I still think Chris Long should be the pick here for the Dolphins, but it's harder to find an All-Pro left tackle than an All-Pro pass rusher, so if Parcells & co. think Jake can be an All-Pro, then they should take him. As for the other popular option here: Anyone who has looked at my position rankings over the past few months can guess that I think taking Vernon Gholston would be a mistake.

2. St. Louis Rams
Chris Long, DE/OLB, Virginia
Chris is the safest pick in this draft. I can't see him being anything less than a solid contributer, and more likely he'll play in a handful of Pro Bowls. His versatility will be a great asset in defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's scheme.

3. Atlanta Falcons
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
With one pick, the Falcons take a giant stride toward rebuilding their defensive line.

4. Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
I think Sedrick Ellis would be the smarter pick, and Vernon Gholston is a real possibility, 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
Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio St.
It doesn't appear that Jared Allen will be a Chief very much longer. With Jake Long off the board, they can look to replacing Allen right away.

6. New York Jets
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
I have to believe this would be a nightmare scenario for the Jets. Either Matt Ryan or Rashard Mendenhall going here wouldn't shock me, nor would either of the top two cornerbacks. But the Jets could use another LB to team inside with 2007 second-rounder David Harris, so if they can't trade down (or even if they can) Rivers or Jerod Mayo could hold the most value.

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
Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Steve McNair's retirement makes this even more of a no-brainer, but then again I would have thought Brady Quinn a no-brainer for Miami once he fell to them last year.

9. Cincinnati Bengals
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis is the best remaining player on the board and he fills a need for the Bengals. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will love seeing a disruptive tackle like Ellis added to his new defense.

10. New Orleans Saints
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Even though the Saints added Randall Gay, their other new CB addition Aaron Glenn will soon be 36. Mike McKenzie is 32 and coming off an injury. Jason David isn't going to get better. And 2007 third-rounder Usama Young is a work in progress.

11. Buffalo Bills
Branden Albert, G/OT, Virginia
Wide receiver and a pass rushing defensive end may be Buffalo's biggest needs, but the value at this point in the draft will be in offensive linemen, running backs, and DRC. Without a glaring need on the line and having just selected Marshawn Lynch in round one last year, it would make sense for the Bills go the DRC route. But I think they either trade the pick, dropping down to grab a WR like Devin Thomas, or if they can't find a deal, then they stay put and bolster their o-line even further.

12. Denver Broncos
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
I'm not nearly as high on Clady as most draftniks are, but he could be a good fit in Denver's zone-blocking scheme.

13. Carolina Panthers
Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
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
With the top offensive linemen off the board, the Bears nab an elite running back prospect and look forward to the post-Cedric Benson ear. 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 forcing eight in the box.

15. Detroit Lions
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
If I were in Matt Millen's place I would opt for Vanderbilt tackle, Chris Williams. The Lions are reportedly considering Jerod Mayo, and if they could trade down and pick him up that would be some solid draft maneuvering on Millen's part. Unfortunately, if the Lions can't move, I think they take Stewart.

16. Arizona Cardinals
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
With Antrel Rolle expected to move to safety and Eric Green inconsistent at best, the Cardinals add a much needed starter to their secondary. ILB Jerod Mayo should also get strong consideration here.

PROJECTED TRADE: Minnesota trades the 17th pick to Kansas City for Jared Allen.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (from Minnesota Vikings)
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
The Chiefs pickup their left tackle of the future after all.

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 I'm skeptical of the conventional wisdom that has the Texans selecting an offensive tackle here. Coming off his knee injury, Dunta Robinson could miss significant time in 2008. If the Texans want to compete, they have to shore up their secondary with more than just the likes of Jacques Reeves.

19. Philadelphia Eagles
Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
So maybe McNabb does get the big-play receiver he's looking for.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
I want to put Aqib Talib here, but I'm not sure a Tampa-two team should be using their first-round pick on a cornerback. They definitely can use some new blood at wide receiver (don't count on Antonio Bryant, anything he gives the Bucs, assuming it's not grief, should be considered a bonus), as well as another pass rusher to team with 2007 first-rounder Gaines Adams. But the Bucs are thin at defensive tackle and could use an infusion of young talent there, too.

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.

PROJECTED TRADE: Dallas trades the 22nd pick to Detroit for Roy Williams.
22. Detroit Lions (from Cleveland Browns via Dallas Cowboys)
Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
Word is that the Cowboys want to use the 28th pick for any potential players deals and hold onto the 22nd pick. But if they're going to deal with Detroit, it's probably going to be so the Lions can pickup a guy they covet a bunch, such as Mayo. In that case, waiting till pick 28 probably would mean losing their guy.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
With Albert long gone and Mayo just off the board, the Steelers look for a young replacement for Deshea Townsend, since Bryant McFadden doesn't seem to be that guy.

24. Tennessee Titans
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
A speedy target for Vince Young, the Titans will be hoping Jackson can stretch the field as a receiver and shorten it as a punt returner.

25. Seattle Seahawks
Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame
Seattle GM Tim Ruskell doesn't shy away from taking a player ahead of his projection if that's the guy he wants and he knows the guy won't be there a full round later. Laws and his non-stop motor will surely please Seattle fans everywhere (they're not just in the Pacific Northwest anymore).

26. San Diego Chargers
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
In San Diego, Cherilus would have a chance to compete for the starting right tackle job.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Merling's tumble stops at 27 with a Jaguars team looking to makeover their defensive line a bit.

28. Dallas Cowboys
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Felix Jones' quicks and ability to bounce the play outside and break off a long run would be a fine complement to Marion Barber III's punishing style. Jones would also help settle a kick return game that was inconsistent last year.

29. Green Bay Packers
Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Charles Woodson and Al Harris are both on the wrong side of 30 and Green Bay's young CBs did not fare well at all last year.

30. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis Colts)
Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Auburn
2006 first-rounder Manny Lawson hasn't contributed to the pass rush as expected (partly due to injuries). By selecting Groves, the 49ers might be able to move Lawson, who has shown more all-around game than pure pass rushing ability, inside next to last year's first-rounder Patrick Willis.

31. New York Giants
Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
Miami's streak of first-round picks continues, but just barely. The Giants signed 32-year-old safety Sammy Knight, but they need a long-term replacement for Gibril Wilson and an immediate upgrade over James Butler/Michael Johnson.

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