By the time my head hit the pillow last night I was regretting some of the changes I made at the top of the draft. Putting some picks back the way I had them and tweaking other picks one last time . . .
1. Miami Dolphins
Jake Long, OT, Michigan
I guess I changed the pick to Jake Long just in time.
2. St. Louis Rams
Chris Long, DE, Virginia
I still say Chris Long is the best prospect in the draft, and definitely the safest pick for a team shelling out top-five dollars.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
I don't buy the talk about the Falcons being more interested, now, in Matt Ryan than in Glenn Dorsey.
4. Oakland Raiders
Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio St.
McFadden has to be awfully tempting for Al Davis, but the Oakland roster is sorely lacking in defensive ends. I also believe the Raider coaches loved coaching Sedrick Ellis at the Senior Bowl, so I wouldn't be surprised if they selected him. But, again, they really need an end more than a tackle.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Branden Albert, G/OT, Virginia
The Chiefs only have one defensive end on the roster, but with Chris Long and Gholston off the board, the Chiefs try desperately to trade down. If they can't, or even if they can, Albert holds the most value at a position of great need for KC.
6. New York Jets
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Run DMC returns to New York City.
7. New England Patriots (from San Francisco 49ers)
Derrick Harvey, DE/OLB, Florida
I've had Harvey as a top-seven pick since mid-January, can't bail on it now.
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
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
They should move up to ensure they get Sedrick Ellis, but the stolid Bengals won't dare do anything as adventurous as that, so they lose out on the best fit for their team.
10. New Orleans Saints
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
The Saints will find a way to leap frog the Bengals—whether it means trading with the Chiefs or the Patriots—and snatch Ellis from them.
11. Buffalo Bills
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Wide receiver and a pass rushing defensive end may be Buffalo's biggest needs, but the value at this point in this draft is in offensive linemen, running backs, and cornerback.
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
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
With Mendenhall off the board, the Bears select the second-best left tackle in this year's draft.
15. Detroit Lions
Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
With the top offensive linemen all off the board, the Lions make the smart choice: running backs such as Jonathan Stewart can be acquired through various means, but middle linebackers with the athleticism to excel in the Tampa Two defense are few and far between.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Roderick Hood may be underrated, but 2005 first-rounder Antrel Rolle has been a bit of a bust at corner and will be moving to free safety. The other starter, Eric Green, has played inconsistently as well. Jonathan Stewart, having slipped past the Lions, would get strong consideration here as well.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (from Minnesota Vikings)
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
As I said before, the Chiefs only have one true defensive end on their roster, so Philip Merling would make a lot of sense here. But it would be tough for the Chiefs to pass over a top-ten rated player like Rivers.
18. Houston Texans
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
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. If the board falls similar to this, expect the selection to be Stewart, DRC, or Keith Rivers.
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
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Talib is most suited to being a zone corner. While this might be a tad high to be taking a corner for a cover two team, Talib also brings value in the return game and could eventually contribute as a receiver as once upon a time Deon Sanders did.
21. Washington Redskins
Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Beyond Andre Carter and Phillip Daniels, the Redskins have a whole lot of nothing at defensive end.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland Browns)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
Someone has to fall, and this time it's DRC. Some how I doubt this will actually happen. I'm sure if there were another day left before the draft it would be somebody else sliding a dozen or more picks from where they've been expected to go.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
Balmer fits the prototype for a 3-4 end, and the Steelers need an infusion of young talent at that position.
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
James Hardy, WR, Indiana
I wouldn't be surprised if Seattle GM Tim Ruskell went out and "reached" for a defensive tackle like Trevor Laws or an offensive lineman like Sam Baker: guys who are rated lower than their production warrants purely because of measurables.
26. San Diego Chargers
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
In San Diego, Cherilus will immediately get a chance to compete for the starting right tackle job.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State
While it's true that Jaguars just used a first=round pick for a safety last year (Reggie Nelson), Gerald Sensabaugh is currently pencilled in as the starter at strong safety, and there's only one other safety on the roster. Tyrell Johnson would be a better complement to Nelson than would Kenny Phillips.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Jones's quickness and ability to bounce the play outside for a big gain would be a fine complement to Marion Barber's punishing style. Jones would also help settle a kick return game that was terribly inconsistent last year.
29. Green Bay Packers
Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
The Packers have few needs, but an upgrade at tight end is perhaps their biggest.
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
The University of Miami's streak of first-round picks continues, but just barely. The Giants signed 32-year-old free-agent safety Sammy Knight, but they need a long-term replacement for Gibril Wilson and an immediate upgrade over James Butler/Michael Johnson.