This will be presented in the form of a mock draft, but is not meant to be predictive. Rather, with each team we'll take a look at their needs, and who is likely to be available that they might covet. Not being an insider, all that I know is that Miami will pick Jake Long, since they have negotiated a contract with him already.
|Jake Long already
knows he's #1
1. Miami - Jake Long, OT, Michigan
- Jake Long is a very good prospect. He's more skilled as a run-blocker than a pass-blocker, and is probably not as good as Joe Thomas, Cleveland's outstanding rookie LT, but is at least in that neighborhood. He has outstanding work ethic and character, marking him as an extremely safe pick.
2. St. Louis (needs: WR, defensive line, LB, CB)
- Chris Long, DE/OLB, Virginia
- A number of teams, including St. Louis, are moving to what you might call a 3-4 hybrid defense, with one of the OLB's being essentially a smaller, faster DE - the Patriots did that for years with Willie McGinest as a pass-rushing OLB. There are also a number of potential 1st round picks who will be able to fill that role - Long, Quentin Groves from Auburn, Vernon Gholston. Chris Long is also capable of fitting into a traditional 4-3, making him one of the most versatile players in this draft. St. Louis might also consider Vernon Gholston or Glen Dorsey.
3. Atlanta (needs: Everything but RB)
- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
- If it weren't for some knee trouble as a senior, Dorsey would almost certainly be the top pick in this draft. He's clearly the best prospect in this class, but just as clearly brings some degree of medical risk. Defensive tackles have a fairly high flame-out rate: Steve Entman and Courtney Brown come to mind. Still, if the doctors and trainers can keep him at 100%, Dorsey could be the best player in this draft. Dorsey making it past Atlanta would be a major shock, but if St. Louis were to pick Dorsey, Atlanta might look long and hard at Matt Ryan, Sedrick Ellis, or Vernon Gholston.
4. Oakland (needs: WR, offensive line, defensive line)
- Vernon Gholston, OLB, Ohio State
- Gholston is a very impressive looking pass-rusher, but doesn't bring much else to the table. Like Dorsey, he's something of a high-risk pick, but for different reasons: On most Saturdays, Gholston, despite his awesome physical gifts, was not the best defensive player on the field. That doesn't mean he can't be good on Sundays, but Oakland doesn't seem like the best destination for a high risk pick. Darren McFadden might make more sense for Oakland; their #1 pick last year was a QB, and it would be wise to provide Russell with some support. I think Oakland would also like to trade out of this pick, but it doesn't seem likely to me that they will be able to.
5. Kansas City (needs: offensive line, CB)
- Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
- The Chiefs are probably the first team in a good position to trade down. There are a number of teams who will covet Sedrick Ellis, Matt Ryan, or Darren McFadden, and KC can still trade down and get a good OL prospect. If KC keeps the pick, they will probably use it on Clady, an early entrant from Boise State. He looks like the ideal left tackle, but is thought to be something of a project, probably because he played in the WAC instead of the Pac 10. The Chiefs might also consider Matt Ryan here.
|Will McFadden Fall
out of the Top 10?
6. NY Jets (needs - offensive line, DB)
- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
- Like Miami and Oakland, the Jets have signed a lot of players in the offseason. Like Kansas City, the Jets are in a good position to trade down should they want to. McFadden, you probably know about - he had a tremendous college career, finishing 2nd in the Heisman Trophy voting twice, and is compared to Adrian Peterson without the injury issues. He should be one of the best RBs in the league eventually, if not as a rookie.
7. New England (needs - CB, LB)
- Branden Albert, OL, Virginia
- New England is hard to read, but their two best CBs signed free agent contracts with other teams, leaving that particular cupboard bare. Its pretty unusual for a rookie CB to make much of an impact, and all of the top CBs in this class seem unlikely to go against that trend. New England's current management has a history of valuing linemen, both offensive and defensive, more highly than just about any other position, and the offensive line fell apart in the Super Bowl. Albert was on the field in the ACC as a true freshman, unusual for an offensive lineman, and is versatile enough to play anywhere on the offensive line, including left tackle. Trading down is a strong possibility here, as well, and they certainly might pick a CB.
8. Baltimore (needs - CB, QB, WR, OT, OLB)
- Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy State
- The Ravens can't be too confident with Kyle Boller and Troy Smith at QB, but this organization's strength has been defense, a unit which desperately needs an infusion of youth. Matt Ryan is the best QB in this class, but not by a lot, and the Ravens may be able to get Chad Henne or Joe Flacco in the second round, or even somebody like Andre Woodson or J.D. Booty on the second day. McKelvin is smallish and raw at corner, but is a tremendous kick returner, so this would be a good situation for him: He could ease into the lineup as a nickelback, and make his impact returning kicks.
9. Cincinnati (needs - defense, WR)
- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
- Like Dorsey, Ellis is a tremendous athlete who has had some leg injuries, but for some reason is not considered as risky a pick. After Ellis, there's a big drop off at DT, so there could be some teams trying to move up to get him. Cincinnati needs help all over the defense, but especially on the defensive line. The Chad Johnson saga could obviously impact what Cincinnati does on draft day, so keep an eye on that situation.
10. New Orleans (needs - defense, offensive line, WR)
- Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
- New Orleans LBs were awful last year, so Rivers should be able to play right away. He's fast and athletic, and could play any one of the three LB positions, but is probably best suited to weak-side. Rivers will probably be able to make an immediate impact. The Saints offensive line was very inconsistent last year, so they may consider somebody like Jeff Otah as well.
Tomorrow we will look at picks 10-20.