With Free Agency starting in a week, I thought I’d break down the first three rounds of the draft.
Team needs, best available athlete and possible connection of NFL teams to college programs were all taken into consideration.
Please post your thoughts or email me directly at Canes612@comcast.net
1. Miami Dolphins: Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Hard working player who played for a former Parcells associate, Al Groh, and has a Hall of Fame Dad in Howie Long. All of that adds up to a Bill Parcells type player.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Long, OT, Michigan
No team was decimated more with offensive line injuries than the Rams last year and its obvious Orlando Pace can’t play forever. Long will be the future leader of this group and should have a Pro Bowl career.
3. Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Time to turn the page for this franchise and get a new identity. Ryan may not start from day one, but is the type of guy to lead this team back to respectability. Granted some questionable hires so far haven’t instilled great confidence so far.
4. Oakland Raiders: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
The perfect replacement for Warren Sapp. Dorsey gives them the player to build their defense around as they continue to try to become respectable again (they may want to get a new owner too).
5. Kansas City: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Chiefs need to upgrade talent on the offensive line if they hope to get any kind of return on the Larry Johnson extension. Clady should be an instant starter.
6. NY Jets: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Mangini continues to tinker with the defense and needs a disruptive force up the middle for teams to think twice about when trying to pound the ball down their throats.
Ellis should create that force for them, having started on a great USC defense, and become a perennial Pro Bowler for many years for the Jets.
7. New England Patriots: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
With Samuel and Gay being free agents and no LB warranting this pick, it makes it very easy for Bill to add this young talent to the secondary.
Jenkins should be a starter by no later than mid-season.
8. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
Time to give up on the Steve McNair and Kyle Boller years and start to groom someone to become a real QB for this team.
Brohm is a smart QB who can make all the throws.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Cincinnati knows they need to bring the heat and Gholston has only started to scratch his potential.
Should be a great student for Marvin Lewis (hopefully Lewis will be in Cincinnati for more than the 2008 season).
10. New Orleans Saints: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Saints need to improve secondary and McKelvin is the next great thing coming from the University of Troy (see DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora).
McKelvin played well at the Senior Bowl and excels in special teams too.
11. Buffalo Bills: Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
The perfect fit for the Bills. Kelly is that big target they desperately need to balance out Parrish, Reed, and Evans. Should have a huge impact on the offense early this season.
12. Denver Broncos: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Broncos need an upgrade to the offensive line to, so Jay Cutler can have a fighting chance. Adding Williams to the line will improve both the passing and running game.
13. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
With Mike Rucker's career winding down (at least in Carolina) and Julius Peppers a major question mark, the Panthers can add a guy like Harvey to rebuild the defense around for the future.
14. Chicago Bears: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
If D-Mac starts to slide this far a certain owner in TX may be burning up the phones. Assuming they stay here the Bears can add two-time Heisman runner up to the offense and move Cedric Benson back to the role as #2 tailback.
15. Detroit Lions: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
With the constant quest in the NFL for shut down corners the Lions would be wise to snatch up one of the hottest players of this offseason.
DRC performed well at the Senior Bowl and looks poised to jump into the first round.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Suddenly Edgerrin James has been looking old and JJ Arrington hasn't distinguished himself enough to be trusted.
Stewart played in the spread offense at Oregon and can certainly be a dual threat and great addition to the offense.
17. Minnesota Vikings: DeSean Jackson, WR, California
Explosive player who will give them an outside threat for their offense and go great with ROY Adrian Peterson.
18. Houston Texans: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Need a home run threat behind Schaub and since Ahman Green couldn’t stay healthy, landing Rashard at this spot is a steal and should help the offense significantly.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
Philly is a hard team to predict, but with the tackles getting older, adding a bodyguard for McNabb and Westbrook would be a nice addition.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: James Hardy, WR, Indiana
Checkered past might scare some teams, but not Gruden. Hardy is a freak of talent and will bring an added dimension to the offense.
21. Washington Redskins: Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (Fla.)
Skins will be looking for a big wideout but a talent like Campbell is hard to pass up. He will alter the passing game without even getting near the QB because of his long arms.
He’s a basketball player playing football.
22. Dallas Cowboys: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Jerry gets to make this call and jumps to add another Arkansas player to the roster. Perfect No. 2 to go with Barber and can help with the struggling special teams.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas
Steelers offensive line needs some new talent with Fancea and Starks likely leaving.
Collins showed what he could do this season as he helped Kansas have their best season in several decades.
24. Tennessee Titans: Early Doucet, WR, LSU
To fairly grade Vince Young you need to give him some real weapons.
Doucet is the kind of guy that will be making the phrase “Vince Young has really stepped this season improving his accuracy” heard repeatedly next seaon on TV.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Sam Baker, OT, USC
The running game has struggled and the Seahawks need to improve the talent in front of the backs as much as they need a new back.
Baker is a West Coast guy who got outstanding coaching in college and contrary to some “experts,” I think will be a starter early.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Still need consistent pressure for the end and Merling is under the radar a little and should make an early appearance in the starting line up in Jacksonville.
27. San Diego Chargers: Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
SD could really go a lot of ways with this pick but getting a guy like Balmer to rotate with the rest of the line will make running against SD that much tougher. Remember UNC coach Butch Davis and Norv Turner were on the Cowboys staff together.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
Terrance Newman will be a free agent next year and Dallas is losing depth behind him this offseason. Cason is a special talent who should make an immediate impact on the defense and special teams.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
Mike Martz needs wide receivers and Caldwell showed what he’s about at the Senior Bowl. He would be a steal at this point and a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
30. Green Bay Packers: Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami (Fla.)
GB needs to improve the secondary especially safety position and Phillips has shown all characteristics necessary to be a great QB for the defense.
31. NY Giants: Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
With Mitchell and Torbor entering the free agent market the G-Men will need to add some talent to the LB core.
Rivers is a boom or bust player that the Giants can roll the dice with and if he plays close to his potential, may be the steal of the first round.