Full Mock Draft review write ups below:
Alright, no mocking around! All I have here is what I expect will happen on one of the best weekends in sports. I actually do expect a trade or two that could wow your wits, but since trades into the top 10 rarely happen, and are almost impossible to predict, I just went on ahead with a mock draft hat goes as planned, trades be damned. This is my 2nd episode, and I do hope you enjoy. I hate that this draft looks a lot like others, but the first few picks just seem too reasonable right now. This is my last Mock p re-free agency.
- Miami Dolphins (1-15)
Needs: MLB, OT, G, DT, CB, QB, LB
Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
I’m sure that the Dolphins wish they could trade out of this pick and get fair compensation in return. From the looks of it, that just doesn’t seem like a possibility. There was a rumor that the Dolphins would be taking picks and players from the Cowboys for the chance for Jerry Jones and his Cowboys to select Darren McFadden, but with the running back’s stock slipping a bit, Dallas would be better off waiting and making that move, if indeed that rumor has any validity. I imagine it doesn’t. Anyhow, the Dolphins were easily the worst team in the league last season, and that leaves them with the number one overall selection that they’ll have to deal with. If I were the Dolphins, I would take Dorsey or one of the unrelated Long linemen. I think taking a quarterback #1 overall can be a tough hole to put your franchise in. With Ryan, I think they are fairly safe, but there is still a chance that he turns out mediocre or even sub-par, like Alex Smith has been. If that is the case, then you have a quarterback dilemma every game, do you start the million-dollar baby, or do you put the best guy behind center? Look at the Niners with Smith and Shaun Hill. See the Cardinals with Leinart and Kurt Warner. I have to think the smartest move here is to take a disruptive line force that is all but guaranteed to do good things at this level. QBs are iffy, but guys like Dorsey, and the Longs are as sure as sure gets. Anyway, I think the Dolphins will feel a little pressure to pick Ryan as he is the best quarterback prospect and they are a team with nobody at that key position. The urge to get their franchise guy will be too much to pass up, and they’ll take Ryan.
- St. Louis Rams (3-13)
Needs: CB, DE, G, OT, OLB
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
The Rams will luck out and get their pick between 3 top-rated guys that can make a huge difference in their team’s makeup. I think they’ll go for Dorsey because he is a beast on the defensive line with a superb on-the-field motor, and an athleticism you rarely see from a big man in the middle. Dorsey will instantly take some pressure off the Rams mediocre secondary while demanding a double team and alleviating pressure off the linebackers as well. Chris Long seems like a great defensive end prospect, and Jake Long could definitely find room on the Rams mediocre offensive line, but Dorsey is the guy that I like the most, and I expect him to go here.
- Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
Needs: QB, OT, DT, RB, S
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
With Matt Ryan off the board, the Falcons luck out and realize that they don’t really have a choice but to choose the draft’s most dynamic player. I know they think they need a quarterback, and that could force them into either making a bad draft pick trade to pick up Brian Brohm later in the 1st round, or even more pathetically, taking the Louisville product here, but over the next couple months they’ll have to realize that passing up on a team cash cow like Darren McFadden, an elite prospect at a position of need that is well-known by anyone who knows football, is even more absurd than giving an absent minded 50% passing quarterback that owns a dog-fighting ring, a 100 million dollar contract. Yes, Atlanta has become known for their mistakes, if it was their Vick troubles or their Patrino hiring – the team is struggling. McFadden won’t line up under center like he did in college, but he will do big things for the team and the city, and he’ll probably have a better career passing percentage than Mike. This pick is a no-brainer in my opinion, even though I think Rashard Mendenhall is, at the very least, just as good of a running back as McFadden – the money making facet of the game has to put the Razorback in Atlanta.
- Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Needs: OT, DT, WR, DE, RB
Chris Long, DE, Virginia
With Darren McFadden out of the Raiders’ dreams (Al Davis sheds a tear down his leathery and disturbingly wrinkled cheeks) they’ll have to resort to making a good team decision. Yikes. Chris Long is going to be a good professional that will make his entire team better and he’s the son of former Raider, Howie Long. He’s got the name, the bloodlines, and the style of play that is almost too perfect to be a Raider. However, he’s the best guy left on the board for Oakland, because I don’t see any way that they’ll take a hot prospect offensive tackle from the Big 10. Al maybe senile, but he remembers the last time he did that, I can guarantee you. He has to pay that guy to play mediocre at guard every single week. If Darren is here, he’s a Raider, if he’s not, it’s the best defensive player. Al wants Lane Kiffen gone, so it will be interesting to see how the coaching dilemma works out, but if McFadden is off the board he’ll help Ryan’s defense with this pick.
- Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)
Needs: OT, DE, C, WR, CB
Jake Long, OT, Michigan
And Larry Johnson is heard rejoicing at the local Karaoke bar in downtown Kansas City. After LJ’s entire offensive line retired, the destroying runner from Penn State found open lanes tough to come by before he ended his season short with a foot injury. If all works out like he plans, he’ll get himself a Pro-Bowl left tackle out of the Draft in April. Jake Long not only is a perfect prospect in a position of need, but he’s a good character, and a guy that would instantly help a running game that needs to excel for the Chiefs to succeed, and help protect a quarterback that is hardly the beacon of calmness in the pocket. Jake is the perfect fit for Kansas City, which makes me wonder if he really has a chance of dropping to them, can they be this lucky?
- New York Jets (4-12)
Needs: WR, NT, ILB, G, OLB
Vernon Gholston, DE, OSU
Luckily for the Jets, they have a chance to take a guy in Vernon Gholston who will help their pass rush immensely and improve the team’s attempt to become a solid 3-4 unit. What makes this pick even better? It takes the only player left on the board that makes sense for the Patriots to select this high in the draft. Yes, the team that instigated this entire spy-gate media-circus is picking ahead of the team they tattled on. Not only that, but the Jets head coach, Eric Mangini, has only Bill Belichick to thank for his current position in New York. These are the Days of Our Lives. It’s crazy how it works out, but the guy who is seemingly perfect for the Jets at 6 is the only guy that makes really good sense for the Patriots at 7. Tough break, Pats. The question is, what will they do now?
- New England Patriots (16-0) via San Francisco
Needs: LB, CB/S depth,
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
There’s no question that the Patriots will need a cornerback with Asante Samuel moving to GREENER pastures, but I don’t see them taking one here. Why? Well, they don’t want to pay Asante, a pro-bowl corner that was a lock down guy during their amazing run, a ton of money, so why would they want to pay some young kid rookie a ton of money to gradually grow into the spot? I admit, I thought they would go corner here, but after thinking about it, it just doesn’t make sense. They need a corner, yeah, but they have never liked to pay big bucks for their secondary, what makes everyone think they’ll start in this draft? The only guy I can see the Pats taking here is defensive line force, Sedrick Ellis. Why? Because the Patriots pay big bucks for guys like Ellis, and even though he’s probably not the perfect fit, he’s a good enough athlete to mold, and he’s dominant enough to play right away. Ideally, the Patriots will trade down and turn two later picks into Super Bowl cogs that will propel them to the next level. Ideals don’t work too well here, as they are in a mock situation and forced to make a pick. Ellis is the guy if they can’t find a trade. What they should try to do is trade up and get Jake Long – after their offensive line was used in the Super Bowl, they might have to upgrade.
- Baltimore Ravens (5-11)
Needs: CB, QB, OLB, DE, OT
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
The Ravens vaunted defense gave up the deep ball more than any team in the NFL last season. Considering both of their top corners are growing long in the tooth, I’m guessing they take a chance on Leodis becoming everything Leodis, himself, thinks he can be. With an attitude that matches his game-breaking ability, I just don’t see him lasting much longer than the first 10 picks. I know the Ravens don’t have an immediate need at corner, but the numbers speak for themselves, and McKelvin will, at the very least, help get more coverage players on the field so they don’t give up that long ball as much. The Ravens could go with Brian Brohm if they want to reach a bit, and if their new staff believes he could be the guy. They could also go with Phillip Merling or Derek Harvey, a solid end or a pass rushing super freak of an athlete. There are lots of directions for the Ravens to turn, but upgrading a secondary that got picked a part too often in 2007 seems like the right answer.
- Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)
Needs: DT, LB, OT, DE, TE, discipline
Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
The Bengals biggest asset is their quarterback, Carson Palmer. Last season, the poor kid got thrown around a little more than usual, so why not go out and get one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the draft? They should probably take Clady here, because the pick has good value. However, they certainly need defensive help more, and a guy like Sedrick Ellis would make their defense a lot more ferocious. However, he’s not available, so that leaves them possibly reaching for North Carolina’s very good defensive tackle, Kentwan Balmer. I say reaching because I know Balmer isn’t rated this high, but he certainly is good enough to go here. On a defense that wasn’t stacked with playmakers, Balmer still put in work and caused problems for offenses in the ACC. If the Bengals don’t see resigning Justin Smith as an option, picking up a player like Phillip Merling here could be the better decision. Merling is jumping up draft boards, and was all around solid against the run and pass at Clemson. Lord knows, this team needs a parole officer as much as anything else, but defense should be the direction Cinci goes on draft day. If they skip the idea of picking defense, I think Rashard Mendenhall needs to be selected here – him or Jonathan Stewart. Both backs would instantly become every down studs in the Bengals’ offense. Both can run fast and carry some weight while also owning great hands. But please, Cincinnati, go defense.
- New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Needs: CB, DT, MLB, TE, OLB (Defense)
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
It is that obvious? If the Saints pick an offensive player with this pick, I’m going to mock their silly asses for the rest of eternity. Maybe they should reach for Manningham (this year’s Robert Meachem) and see how that works out. There are two corners left with a strong first round grade, and I think the Saints will pick their favorite and rely on him to upgrade one of the worst pass defenses in the entire league. The Saints are brutal on defense, and could probably go a lot of different ways here. If Balmer is still available, he’d be a nice selection for a team that has no real attitude in the middle of their defensive line. They could also reach for the best outside linebacker in the draft, Keith Rivers, but I definitely think this is too high for the USC product to go, and they could get a similar prospect in the 2nd round. New Orleans was a disappointment last season, and while their offense was a little more turnover happy, their pathetic defense was the reason for their demise. Expect most of the Saints’ picks to be defensive in nature. I like Jenkins and think he will be a fine NFL corner.
- Buffalo Bills (7-9)
Needs: CB, TE, WR, LB, DT
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Will the Bills make it 3 cornerbacks in the last 4 picks? I’m guessing that it won’t happen like this, but hey, that’s the way it looks in this mock draft. I don’t think much room separates Jenkins, Talib, and McKelvin, and all look like first round locks heading into the combine. Talib is one of my favorites. He’s a big corner with the smarts to sit tight in zone coverages, the speed to play man to man against fast receivers, and the size to muscle up and hold his own against bigger receivers in the league. That’s important for the Bills. They lost their star cornerback last year when Nate Clements hit the free-agent market. The result; a poor pass defense and a couple losses that were a direct result of their inability to close out series on passing downs. Talib is an elite prospect and he would immediately help a Bills team looking for secondary starters.
- Denver Broncos (7-9)
Needs: OT, DT, S, MLB, G
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Big, super-athletic tackle with the ability to block at the second level and use his football smarts to get his man – sounds like a perfect guy for Shanny to mold into a franchise offensive tackle to me. The Broncos would like to get an elite player at the tackle position to protect their franchise quarterback, Jay Cutler. Clady is that guy. Not only is he an athletic freak of nature, a giant of a man with the agility to fit right in to the Broncos blocking scheme, but Clady is just a damn good football player. I originally had him slipping, but I expect him to get picked right around here.
- Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Needs: QB, WR, DE, OLB, OT
Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Merling doesn’t come out with as much hype as his former teammate, Gaines Adams, but he might very well be a better all around defensive end. With the ability to hold up against the run and put plenty of pressure on the passer, Merling might be just the guy Carolina needs to light a fire under Peppers’ toosh and get this defense back on solid ground. The Panthers could snag Brian Brohm with this pick, but Jake Delhomme is expected back, and they’ll get better value later in the draft at that spot. Maybe Flacco or Henne. Right now, they need help on defense, because if they can’t put pressure on the quarterback and hold their own against the run, they’re not going to beat anyone next season, not even in a weak NFC South.
- Chicago Bears (7-9)
Needs: QB, OT, DT, G, RB
Brian Brohm, QB, Lousiville
I have to think that the Bears will reach for Brohm with this pick. I think Brohm is just a hair behind Matt Ryan, and actually, I imagine the Louisville product will be better at managing the game right off the bat, and his accuracy will be a huge plus in the NFL and especially on a team like Chicago that really only needs their quarterback to hit the open guy and take very few chances. Brohm will have to work on that, as he was the king of taking chances in college, but his arm is strong enough, he’s a good leader, he’s a fighter, and he’s perfect for the Bears at this spot. Chicago could use a lot of things, one of the top rated runners left on the board, a stud offensive lineman, or help at the tackle position, but they’ll be lucky to see Brohm at 14, and they’ll roll the dice. They may have resigned Grossman, and Orton’s still in the mix, but the Bears have to have realized by now that there’s not an answer at quarterback currently on their roster. Get your answers right now.
- Detroit Lions (7-9)
Needs: OT, G, CB, S, DE
Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
There are higher rated defensive ends still on the board, but I think Campbell does all the little things that Rod Marineli needs from his ends. Campbell is an all around stud at D-end, and while he’s not a sexy pass rushing type (Harvey for example) he will put his solid technique and strength up against the run, and create pressure against the pass. The Lions need a lot here, and could definitely opt to go in any direction on Draft Day. I like Campbell as a player, and think he’s also a very good fit for the defensively confused Lions. With Shaun Rogers all but gone, this team will need even more help along the defensive line.
- Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Needs: OLB, CB, TE, RB, DE
Keith Rivers, LB, USC
The Cardinals are struggling with Larry Fitzgerald as the young star wants to get paid even more money than the Cardinals are offering, and they’re offering to make him the highest paid receiver in football. Sounds like a case of the stupids if you ask me. Larry wants all the money in the world, and what he doesn’t realize is that he’ll continue to be part of the “Real Cardinals” if he doesn’t be reasonable and accept the best receiver salary in football. The Cardinals are dumb for doing a deal that could pay a receiver 15-17 million a year in the first place, but who can blame them, they’re the Cardinals. That brings us to the draft where the Cardinals might feel like they have to take the best linebacker on the board. They’re losing at least one pass rushing, solid linebacker in Daryl Blackstock because the Cards can’t re-sign him because of Larry’s salary cap complications. Keith Rivers is the best backer on the board, and that makes this a great pick in my opinion.
- Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
Needs: DE, WR, S, QB, TE
Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
I think Kenny Phillips is a great safety prospect that is also an asset in pass coverage. He may have had some ups and downs this season, but his ability shouldn’t be questioned. Phillips was the best player on the Hurricane’s defense, and is a guarantee for the first round. He’s the best safety on the board by a long-shot, and it always seems like Minnesota is trying to get better there. The Vikings definitely need help on defense, and I can almost guarantee they’ll go that direction with their 1st round pick. The only way they go another direction is if they’re sold on some receiver as being the next Randy Moss without the public mooning or in game frustrations. I don’t think there’s that kind of receiver in this class, so the best safety and a great all around help in the secondary seems like a great choice to me.
- Houston Texans (8-8)
Needs: CB, G, WR, S, OT
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
This kid is a beast of a running back. Think Ron Dayne but with the ability to hit the hole, run fast, and catch the ball like a receiver. So, basically, think Ron Dayne, but completely different and way more effective. Think Dayne’s size with a touch of Brian Westbrook. Think, hell, I don’t know who to compare him to, but let me tell you this; Stewart is a freak of nature. He’s a huge back with better hands than most receivers. He’s unbelievably patient, which should make him a perfect fit for the Houston Texans zone blocking scheme. Stewart might not be the super-dynamic runner that McFadden is, because he never looks like he’s exploding through the hole – but that doesn’t mean he can’t be just as, or more productive than the Arkansas back. He’s got a rare combination of size, speed, and hands that make him usable on every down. The Texans could finally get a running back to take pressure off their quarterback, something they’ve rarely had since their inception into the league.
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Needs: OT, S, WR, LB, TE
Malcom Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
6’4″, great deep speed, great hands. Hmm… Sounds like an option for a pass-happy Eagles team that didn’t have guys getting open last year. I’m not saying that Kelly is Randy Moss or, in the Eagles recent memory – TO, but I am saying that he’s a damn good prospect for a team looking to improve at the wide receiver position. Kelly didn’t kill it at the combine, but he is still killing it on draft boards everywhere. This kid has the ability to go up and get the ball, run past you, and even puts his body on the line in traffic. He needs to add some bulk, but right off the bat, he’d give the Eagles something they don’t have a fast, gamebreaker at receiver. I know Philly’s not in to spending high picks on anything but defensive and offensive linemen, and maybe Free-Agency will lock them up a solid receiver, but all I can think about is how good this team looked with talented receivers, and how mediocre they looked last season with the guys they had catching passes.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Needs: OT, WR, OLB, CB, QB
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
The Bucs will take Joey Galloway #2 and hope for the best. Tampa Bay was brought to tears when Michael Clayton decided to morph into a bust after producing like a perennial All-Pro his rookie season. Now, the Bucs are subject to using Joey Galloway more than his little body can handle, and that can only last so much longer because Joey is racking up the years at a Brett Favre pace. Tampa needs help on the offensive line, as usual, but with so many top prospects at OT, they can easily wait until round 2 and still walk away with a possible starter in 2008. I’m not sold on Jackson’s polish, but I am a buyer of his speed and game-changing illusiveness. I’ve seen him disappear in the college game, but I’ve also seen him confuse many a tackler with his speed and the angles that must be taken. The Bucs, as much as any team, know what that kind of speed can do as a receiver, even if Joey is approaching 40.
- Washington Redskins (9-7)
Needs: WR, DE, S, OT, CB
Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
The Redskins could use an elite pass-rushing prospect, and even though they seem to be gung-ho on adding a nice sized receiver (Limas Sweed, James Hardy are both options here) I think their need for a pass rush is even more important. This team is pretty good right now, but they do need help on the defensive line. I’m not sure that Harvey is ready to be an every down player, but he is physical freak of nature and I expect he’ll be a pass-rushing presence from Day 1. Washington has the ability to just wait and take the best defensive player with this pick, and if they don’t really love any of the guys left at 21, it’s not too early to take a chance on a top receiver. Of course, this is Washington, they could very possibly give up this pick for some over-priced veteran.
- Dallas Cowboys (13-3) (from 10-6 Cleveland)
Needs: CB, WR, OT, ILB, RB
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Jones didn’t impress all that much at the combine. The back known for his yards per carry and crazy speed, ran in the mid 4.4s and was one-upped by more than a handful of backs – don’t get me wrong, he’s still fast as hell. He’s also a little bit small, which will have more than a few teams questioning if he could ever be an every-down back, something you usually want from a 1st round pick. Fortunately for the Cowboys, Felix is the perfect player for the Cowboys to pick, and if he’s still there, I just don’t see how they could pass Felix Jones up. Jerry Jones is a huge Arkansas homer, and Jones is expected to go right near the end of the 1st round. He’d give Dallas a perfect back to team with Marion Barber as an absolutely destructive thunder and lightning duo in the Big D. Despite Jones not topping the running back charts in his 40 time, it’s hard to ignore his production. He’s improved his yards per carry every single year of his career, ballooning up to 8.7 yards per tote in his Junior tilt. That’s nuts. He hasn’t proven to be a great receiver, which could knock his value down a bit, but I just see too good a fit in Dallas for them to pass up on him with one of their two first round picks.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Needs: OT, C, DE, G, RB, CB
Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
I don’t know if you watched any Steelers’ games late in the year, but Big Ben was skipping around like a scared chipmunk trying to escape oncoming rushers. Otah is a monster of a man that has the upside of a lockdown tackle if he can get his feet quickness up. Right off the bat he’d improve a rushing game that struggled more and more as the season went on. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that the Steelers’ coaching staff has realized that they aren’t at their best when Ben has to throw the ball most of the time. In fact, he’s at his best when the defense is focusing on a tough rushing attack. Otah’s stock didn’t pick up any speed when he lost to my grandpa in a foot race at the combine, but many people need to remember that offensive linemen probably don’t run the 40 too often, and probably don’t produce very good times in the 40 when they’re not 100% healed from a high ankle sprain. In fact, in my book, the big kid moved up his stock because he came out and competed despite not being 100% – that’s a great asset to possess as an NFL lineman. None of those guys are 100% after Week 1.
- Tennessee Titans (10-6)
Needs: WR, CB, TE, OL
Fred Davis, TE, USC
I think Davis is a solid pass catching tight end out of the back field, and definitely gives the Titans more of a threat than the two-man combination of Bo Scathe and Ben Troupe did last year. A pass catching TE that could stretch the field and open up lanes for the Titans pass catchers could be a great thing for Vince Young’s growth as a TE. Heimerdinger has always utilized his tight-ends, and seeing as though he really doesn’t have any, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see the Titans reach a little and grab the draft’s best prospect with the 24th pick. The Titans could go with one of the drafts’ top receivers, as both Limas Sweed and James Hardy did well at the combine, proving they weren’t going to have a problem with speed (both ran in the 4.5 range). Vince Young could surely use a big tall game breaker on the edge, but with the depth and uncertainty of the receivers in this class, I almost think they’d be better off waiting until Round 2. I know Davis won’t be available by then. I’m not 100% sold on Davis, but everyone else seems to be. That’s why I think he goes here.
- Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Needs: OT, DT, RB, TE, G
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
As far as I’m concerned, the Seahawks will be lucky, lucky, lucky to have Mendenhall fall to them with the 25th pick. However, knowing the Hawks, they’ll probably draft some undersized corner or trade out of this spot. Criminal. To pass on a guy like Mendenhall when you’ve forced your fans to watch a guy like Shaunna Alexander over the past 2 years is just criminal behavior. Honestly, I don’t know how Rashard slips this far – but as a guy who is forced to watch more than his fair share of Hawks games, I hope he does. I don’t see how a passing team without an elite rusher passes Mendenhall by. He has great hands, great size, and a major-league burst that is very impressive to witness. Cinci, Chicago, Carolina – they could all use this guy, and he’d immediately be their number one. Now, they might have bigger needs, and that’s the only reason I can foresee Rashard dropping this far. We’ll see what happens, the Hawks could go for the Draft’s best guard, knowing they need a great one to make Shaunna successful, but I think they’d be better off cutting ties with the former MVP and just rolling with the bulky speedster out of Illinois.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5)
Needs: WR, DE, SS, CB
Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC
If Jackson is still on the board this late, the Jaguars will have to take the versatile USC end. He’s everything this team needs from the defensive end spot. He does things right. He makes plays with his feet, and he has the ability to hold up at the line of scrimmage against the run. I’ve watched him do it over and over again. Jackson had a great final season, and the promise and improvement he showed should get him into the first round. Another option here would be Quentin Groves, a super talented prospect that struggled during his final season because of injuries. I was close to taking Groves with my pick here, but Jackson seems to be the safer option of the two. Groves has more upside, more speed, and that freak of nature athleticism, but Jackson can do it all, and sometimes safe is the way to go. For the Jags, a team that could win it all as soon as next season, I think safe is the best kind of answer.
- San Diego Chargers (11-5)
Needs: G, OT, NT, FB, RB
Chilio Rachal, OG, USC
There’s a few people that think guards are one of the most important positions in a rushing attack’s success. There are some people that think Chilio Rachal is the best guard in the draft. I just happen to be both of those people put into one. Now, Chilio hasn’t gone in any 1st rounds of mock drafts that I’ve seen, but I have a feeling he’ll do okay and up his stock moving forward, plus I just think the kid is legit. The Chargers need help on the line, for the sake of LT in all his glory, this needs to be a team that can impose itself on opposing defensive lines and that wasn’t always the case last year. In fact, it was rarely the case.
- Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
Needs: CB, WR, OT, ILB, RB
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
After using their first pick on locking away their lightening to Marion Barber’s thunder, this pick will go to helping both of the young backs run in wide open spaces. Williams isn’t the prototypical destroying force of a muscle bound monster at offensive tackle, but his feet are perfect, and he knows how to get the job done by using leverage, quickness, and want-to. I’ll take that in a lineman any day of the week. The Cowboys might go after a receiver here, but it looks very likely that they’ll go after one in free agency or via a trade. Offensive line is the smart and safe pick, especially with a guy like Williams on the board, and even more importantly when you’re losing long time linemen that have set the stage for your running game forever.
- San Francisco 49ers (5-11) (via 13-3 Colts)
Needs: WR, OT, OLB, DE, QB
Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
I’m not a huge fan of Mario, I think he’s overrated, and Luigi is the best of the block crushing, mushroom eating, fire throwing Italian plumbers. As far as Mr. Manningham is concerned, I’m not a huge fan of his either. He sure did finish the season with a flurry, though, and his ability to slice past defenders has him trying to locate a team in the 1st round to take a chance one him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mike Martz looks at some film and ends up telling his bosses that Manningham would be the #1 from the get go, because the guys they have either don’t catch the ball when it gets to them (D-Jack), or can’t get open downfield at all (Battle). Now, Mario’s stock slipped a lot during the combine, as he just barely ran past Otah in the 40. However, Martz has done well with guys like Furrey, and could get the most out of the Michigan product. I didn’t like him prior to the combine, and I don’t like him all that much after either, but he’s still up there on important peoples lists, and since this draft isn’t all about who I think is great (I’d easily pick 5 WRs over this guy, Hardy, Sweed, Dexter Jackson, Devin Thomas, Caldwell) I have Manningham getting plucked off the board right here. I still think the Niners would be better off building their sub-par defense, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.
- Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Needs: OT, S, CB, TE
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
The Packers are very good drafters, and thus will probably surprise “draft experts” with the second to last pick in the draft. Gosder is a monster of a tackle, measuring over 6’6″. He’s athletic and though not extremely heavy, still provides the “man strength” needed to be a great player at this level. Cherilus was relied upon to protect Matt Ryan all season long, and he did a hell of a job. I know I’m not as good at evaluating talent as Ted Thompson is, but I see big things in Cherilus’s future, and maybe, just maybe, the Packers brass agrees with me. Another option might be the young TE from Purdue, he killed the combine with his top-speed, however, I don’t see Thompson grabbing a workout warrior just for the sake of a 40 and some lifts – but Keller might be better than many originally thought.
- New York Giants (10-6)
Needs: OLB, CB, S, OT, DT
Dan Conner, LB, Penn State
Best defensive player available, and despite the Giants’ success in stopping the run and winning games with defense late in the year, a young linebacker that wins plays with his mind as well as his body will be a blessing in disguise for the team picking last in the 1st round. Conner has plenty of skills to excel at this level, but does he have the playmaking ability that teams want at this spot? I’m not sure, but I know he’ll make very few mistakes. That’s something that teams covet, especially good teams that need reliable play from their rookies. I like Highsmith a lot, he’s a great playmaker, but his speed (or lack there of) hurt his draft stock too much. They say that the combine can only move you a little either way, but that’s not the case in this extreme situation. Highsmith, a legit playmaker on one of the best defenses in the nation, ran just under a 5 second 40 yard dash. I was 285 in high school, and I ran a 5.0 dash. As you can imagine, that slow time hurts Ali. I still think he’ll get drafted and become a good player, but he has a lot of work to do on draft day. Conner seems like the best fit here, but being Super Bowl Champs allows you to go in a lot of different directions – New York could do anything with this pick. One thing I’m pretty certain about, I don’t expect them to go with any offensive skill position here. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that they don’t even consider the offensive side of the ball unless they think there’s an offensive tackle out there that is ready to be a cornerstone from the get-go.
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