Well, it's that time of year again- break out the draft boards and hope your team does well. A few teams in this mock draft get some real bargains by NFL-2008_NFL_Draft_Top_1-10_Players_Analyzed-080408">my draft board, notably Denver and Houston. As the High Holy Day of the NFL offseason approaches, only one thing is certain- your team's GM is losing sleep.
1. Miami Dolphins - Chris Long, DE, Virginia. Question: How do you rebuild an old, ineffective defense? Answer: Have an elite, high-motor defensive end to build around, that's how.
2. St. Louis Rams - Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisiana State. The Rams need an identity on the defensive side of the ball. Now they have Dorsey AND Carriker? They could put ME in at linebacker and I'd be ok.
3. Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College. The Falcons are in rebuilding mode. They should be, after their QB debacle the last offseason. Normally, I'd say that Jake Long should be their pick. Why, then, do I have them picking Ryan? They need a new face for the franchise. They can get a lineman in round 2.
4. Oakland Raiders - Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern California. Opposing teams averaged 5 yards per carry running straight into the middle of the Raiders' defense. That is unacceptable. With Dorsey off the board, Ellis is the clear pick... the Raiders can't even afford to risk trading down, IMO.
5. Kansas City Chiefs - Jake Long, OT, Michigan. No, Raider fans, the Chiefs will not take McFadden either. Their offensive line blows, and with the top blocker still on the board, it's a no-brainer.
6. New York Jets - Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. The Jets will not let McFadden past them. They got little production out of the backfield, though a large portion of that was a result of a weak offensive line. McFadden can't play all five OL positions and run the ball, but having him in the backfield will go a long way toward helping their running game.7. New England Patriots (from San Francisco 49ers)Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State. Talk about the right guy at the right time. New England's linebackersare all aging and there aren't any good young linebackers on this roster. They need to watch out for a trade-up from Cincinnati, who could really use Gholston as well.
8. Baltimore Ravens - Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State. With the great Jonathan Ogden nearing retirement and players with marginal athleticism in the wings, Clady is the clear pick for the Ravens, despite a few other needs. As a Ravens fan, I have written an in-depth analysis of the Ravens' overall draft needs as well, shown here.
9. Cincinatti Bengals - Keith Rivers, OLB, Southern California. With Chris Long, Jake Long, Vernon Gholston, and Ryan Clady all off the board, Cincinnati will want to trade down- no one that they need is still on the board with this kind of value. But if they get stuck here, Rivers is their man- they lack too much at outside linebacker for them to justify any other pick.
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida. The Saints need a top-quality corner, and while Jenkins may not be elite, he'd certainly help, even if they moved him to safety. I think the only way they don't land Jenkins is if Cincinatti trades up for Gholston, in which case the Patriots might reach for Jenkins because of his versatility.
11. Buffalo Bills - Dan Connor, ILB, Penn State. While the Bills would prefer Rivers because he's a natural outside linebacker, Connor makes a lot of sense because he played with Posluzny at Penn State, mostly at outside linebacker until his senior season, at which point he moved back to ILB because... Posluzny had graduated. The Bills do need help at OLB. A No. 2 WR next to Lee Evans would also make sense, but they need a strong receiver rather than a fast one, so DeSean Jackson doesn't fit.
12. Denver Broncos - DeSean Jackson, WR, California. Dan Connor is the Broncos' man- they need an ILB so they can move D.J. Williams back to the outside. However, he went to the Bills, and Jackson would pair with Brandon Marshall to form a frightening WR tandem. Cutler would look much better with that kind of talent around him.
13. Carolina Panthers - Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami. With no Jackson to inspire argument, the only player Carolina needs that also is an elite pick is Phillips. His instincts leave a bit to be desired, but in terms of his physical tools, he draws comparisons to the Ravens' Ed Reed (a very good thing for any safety).
14. Chicago Bears - Branden Albert, OG, Virginia. With no top-flight QB available to work with Grossman, the best offensive lineman on the board is Albert. This one is pretty much a lock; no one else needs Albert ahead of the Bears- they need offensive tackles.
15. Detriot Lions - Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona. While Cason doesn't have great speed, he doesn't need it in Detroit's Tampa-2 defensive scheme. He's one of the better players left on the board, and is a great playmaker for a group that allowed the highest completion percentage of any defensive unit in the league.
16. Arizona Cardinals - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State. Antrel Rolle never panned out at the CB position- he was too slow. However, Rodgers-Cromartie is not. He's a real risk coming out of a small program, but has tremendous talents and might be the one to shore up the secondary.
17. Minnesota Vikings - Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson. The Vikings need a pass-rusher, so Derrick Harvey would also warrant consideration, but Merling's all-around ability makes him a better fit for the Vikings.
18. Houston Texans - Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois. Ahman Green is getting old... the Texans need some young blood at the RB position. While Chris Williams and Jeff Otah warrant consideration, the Texans' line is good enough to justify taking a quality running back instead. Plus, Mendenhall is a top-10 quality player in the draft.
19. Philadelphia Eagles - Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. The signing of Asante Samuel helps... a lot. But the Eagles still need another quality defensive back more than anything else. With no safeties on the board, they'll take the best corner that fits them... and also happens to be a return specialist that they desperately need. If you're an Eagles fan and disagree with me, I do think Sheppard and Samuel will be a good tandem... but Sheppard hasn't played a full season since 2003.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt. While the Bucs have other needs, their O-Line allowed 36 sacks with opposing defenses trying to catch the relatively nimble Jeff Garcia. They have to get better in pass protection, and Williams is a good man to start with.
21. Washington Redskins - Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. They need a defensive end, and Harvey is the last top-tier DE left on the board as a pass rusher. In terms of run defense, he leaves something to be desired, but he can improve... and since 2003 the Redskins haven't had a true bust. Of course, they've had less of a chance to find busts because they trade so many picks...
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland Browns) - Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas. If they stay here, and don't trade up for McFadden, this is the pick they'll make. He's the ideal complementary back for Marion Barber- fast and elusive. Compare that to "Marion the Barbarian" who seeks out contact, and the two will be able to keep defenses on their heels.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh. If anyone needs offensive linemen, it's the Steelers. The last really good one is Jeff Otah from down the road... not a difficult decision. The Steelers gave up 47 sacks last year and adding Otah would go a long way toward solving, or at least minimizing, that problem.
24. Tennessee Titans - Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State. Vince Young needs targets. He's got a solid running back in LenDale White and a relatively good offensive line, but right now he has no one to throw to. Some have him ranked above DeSean Jackson, but I just don't see it, so he'll fall to the Titans at No. 24.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Fred Davis, TE, Southern California. What they really need is a running back, but the guy that best fits them right now is the top tight end on the board. They'll take Fred Davis after watching the aging Marcus Pollard have age catch up to him in a hurry last year. Not a difficult pick given who's available.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars - Calais Campbell, DE, Miami. They'll have to reach for their guy. All of the elite DEs are already off the board, and that's their absolute top need that they can't afford to wait and address. It's not out of the question for them to trade up- they need a pass rusher that badly.
27. San Diego Chargers - Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina. Jamal Williams is still the man, but they need depth at this position because of his age and the toll of injuries. Balmer is the man to provide it. Rookie DTs rarely make an impact anyway, and Balmer would be learning from one of the best.
28. Dallas Cowboys - Limas Sweed, WR, Texas. They need a WR to back up their pair of 34-year-old WRs. While Owens and Glenn are solid, having another horse in the stable certainly wouldn't hurt. Sweed is big, strong, and physical, though he lacks elite speed. He is a potentially dominant red zone option... and if you're the Cowboys trying to win a Super Bowl, he's an obvious pick.
29. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis Colts) - Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma. The 49ers need a receiver that isn't Arnaz Battle to be their No. 1 (Battle is considered a No. 3 caliber WR). Kelly is the best one left on the board, despite his lack of great speed, and is the obvious choice because... he's not replacing anyone.
30. Green Bay Packers - Aquib Talib, CB, Kansas. The Packers need a cornerback... and they're in luck, because Talib is considered by many a very good, even elite, CB. He's been burned by speedier but otherwise lesser athletes in college, so he may lack top-end speed. But he's still the best one available.
31. New England Patriots- TAKEN AWAY as punishment for SpyGate.
32. New York Giants - Reggie Smith, DB, Oklahoma. Smith is more of a safety than a corner, but he's done both and the Giants need both. This is not an especially difficult call... the Giants' secondary is OK, but looked better because of a monstrously formidable pass rush. This is their pick.
That's all folks, hope you enjoyed it. I'm always happy to hear feedback.