Now that the Senior Bowl is over with, I’ve decided to do my first mock draft for 2008. My mock drafts are partially what I think teams will actually do, blended with what I think teams should do. I’ll do another mock after the combine, and then a three-round mock sometime right before the draft.
So here’s my first, first-round mock of the 2008 NFL Draft:
1 Miami Chris Long/DE Virginia Most think the Dolphins will take DT Glenn Dorsey out of LSU, but Dorsey doesn’t fit a Parcells 3-4 defense. It can be argued that Long is an even better prospect, and is capable of playing End in either type of defensive system. If the Dolphins can’t trade down, Long is the best pick for them.
2 St. Louis Jake Long/OT Michigan The Rams offense died after the offensive line suffered serious injuries, including one to top Left Tackle Orlando Pace. With Pace near retirement, the Rams need a guy like Long who can step in and anchor the line for the next decade.
3 Atlanta Darren McFadden/RB Arkansas The Falcons need a QB, but with decent second and third round QB’s available in this draft, McFadden is just simply too good to pass up. Atlanta gets the best player in the draft, at a need position.
4 Oakland Glenn Dorsey/DT LSU The Raiders get to replace Warren Sapp with the player that many believe should go number one overall. Dorsey would be great in the Raiders system, and should be a force on their line for the next 10 years.
5 Kansas City Sedrick Ellis/DT USC The Chiefs should try to move down to get an offensive lineman, and they could go for a QB if they’re not sold on Brodie Croyle, but they’ve been searching for help at DT for ages, and after a strong Senior Bowl, Ellis showed he’s worthy of a top-5 pick.
6 N.Y. Jets Matt Ryan/QB Boston College If I’m the Jets, I’m on the phone with the Bears, dangling Matt Ryan at this point. If they stay though, I think they’ll take him. They weren’t happy with Clemmons last year, and Ryan’s the top QB in this class.
7 New England Desean Jackson/WR Cal Surprise pick! Jackson would be perfect for the Pats. Great return game, and everything Donte Stallworth isn’t. He’s still raw, but the Pats can afford the luxury pick. I think they trade out, but if they stay, don’t be surprised if they take a gamble on Jackson.
8 Baltimore Brian Brohm/QB Louisville OT Ryan Clady is a possibility here too, but they’re grooming Marshall Yanda at OT, so the Ravens take the second best QB in the class and fill their biggest need.
9 Cincinatti Vernon Gholston/DE Ohio State Gholston seems versatile enough to play for the Bengals, and they need defensive help badly. The best scenario for them is to trade down a few spots and draft Keith Rivers. If they stay put though, they simply draft the best defensive player available. They need help almost everywhere on that side of the ball.
10 New Orleans Kenny Phillips/S Miami Phillips is the best secondary player available at this juncture, and though the Saints need a Corner really bad, Phillips will make things happen in ways that nobody in the Saints secondary is currently capable of. Phillips will upgrade the entire secondary and will be a great pick at 10.
11 Buffalo Kentwan Balmer/DT North Carolina The Bills need a big man in the middle and Balmer appears to be a guy who can be a devastating run-stuffer at the next level. He can play in either system, but seems best suited to go to a 4-3, which the Bills use. This may be a little high for Balmer, but I believe it’s a great fit.
12 Denver Ryan Clady/OT Boise State The Broncos would’ve liked to see one of the top three DT’s fall to them, but they’ll happily take the second best OT in the draft. Denver needs help on their O-Line, and Clady looks like he could be a good one. He’d be a great value pick for Mike Shanahan if he falls this far.
13 Carolina Samuel Baker/OT USC Want to know how to stifle the production of two good RB’s? Don’t open holes for them. The Panthers O-Line is really bad, and Baker could improve it almost immediately. He needs to bulk up, but his technique should allow him to contribute immediately and his potential is sky high.
14 Chicago Marcus Kelly/WR Oklahoma Kelly isn’t a sure thing by any means, and the Bears have a lot of needs, but Muhsin Muhammad isn’t near the WR he used to be, and Bernard Berrian appears to be pretty one-dimensional. Kelly is a big guy who could start on day one. Andre Woodson is a possibility here, as is Mike Jenkins, but I think the Bears will take the ultra talented Kelly.
15 Detroit Mike Jenkins/CB South Florida This is an ideal situation for the Lions. If Jenkins falls this far, they’d be crazy not to take him. Detroit’s defense was terrible last year, and there wasn’t a single corner who stepped up to take the place of the departed Dre Bly. Jenkins is a great cover guy who will start right away.
16 Arizona Keith Rivers/OLB USC Arizona has a lot of needs, especially on defense, so it makes sense for them to take the best remaining player on that side of the ball. Rivers can start immediately and is the best LB prospect in this year’s draft.
17 Minnesota Derrick Harvey/DE Florida Unbelievably, the Vikings still need a pass-rushing DE. Harvey is a little undersized, but is quick and could develop into a Dwight Freeney style pass-rusher for a Minnesota defense that badly needs one.
18 Houston Aqib Talib/CB Kansas The Texans need a corner opposite Dunta Robinson, and Aqib Talib seems to be the kind of player who can provide that consistency on the other side of the field. The Texans need help on the O-Line, but there really isn’t value there at this point, and the RB class is too deep this year to pass up a talent like Talib.
19 Philadelphia Limas Sweed/WR Texas Philly will be entertaining offers from teams that want to move ahead of Tampa Bay to get Andre Woodson, but if they stay at 19, Sweed would be the best option. Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown are both number 2 receivers, and Philly needs a number one. Sweed could be that guy.
20 Tampa Bay Andre Woodson/QB Kentucky Woodson has a live arm, and Jon Gruden likely will know how to use it. WR is a possibility here as well, with Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard aging. If that’s the case, then the pick could be…
21 Washington Mario Manningham/WR Michigan I’m not sold on Manningham yet, but he certainly seems worthy of a first round pick, based on potential. The Redskins need a WR, and Manningham has shown more than the other available players, including Early Doucet. Other possibilities include Pat Simms, Leodis McKelvin, and Reggie Smith, as help in the secondary and along the DL is needed.
22 Dallas Jeff Otah/OT Pittsburgh Flozell Adams isn’t getting any younger, and may leave via free agency. Otah has the potential to be a very good starter in this league, and Dallas needs to think about the long-term protection of their golden boy, Tony Romo. They could go WR here, or even take one of the talented RB’s, but I think they do the conservative thing and take the next best OL in the draft.
23 Pittsburgh Felix Jones/RB Arkansas Nothing against Willie Parker, but can you imagine the ultra-talented duo of Parker and Felix Jones in the Steeler backfield? The Steelers would benefit greatly by a RBBC approach, and Jones would be a great compliment to Parker. He’s explosive, but also has what it takes to run hard between the tackles.
24 Tennessee Early Doucet/WR LSU No team needs a WR more than the Titans. Period. Doucet may not be any kind of sure thing, but he’s got the potential to be a Hall of Famer in the NFL. The Titans should view the risk/reward and decide to grab him in this back-end of the first.
25 Seattle Jonathan Stewart/RB Oregon Stewart is fast, powerful, and explosive. Shaun Alexander is beat up and out of gas. Maurice Morris is best suited in a third down role. This couldn’t be a better fit, and the Seahawks will gladly take Stewart if he falls this far down the draft board.
26 Jacksonville Calais Campbell/DE Miami The Jaguars can afford to take the best available player. In my eyes, that’s Campbell and Rashard Mendenhall. With Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield, Campbell is the pick. Campbell is tall and powerful and he will be an instant role player. He’ll keep the rotation fresh, and apply a consistent pass-rush.
27 San Diego Pat Simms/DT Auburn The Chargers need some depth on the interior of their very stout DL. Simms will help keep the rotation fresh and will develop into a very solid starter. San Diego could also go with a receiver, a corner, or a middle linebacker, but Simms seems to be the best value here.
28 Dallas Rashard Mendenhall/RB Illinois Dallas will be thrilled to see Mendenhall fall this far. They could be thinking secondary help or receiver, but with Julius Jones likely to leave as a free agent this off-season, the Cowboys will be happy to let Mendenhall pair up with Marion Barber to make an even more formidable duo.
29 San Francisco James Hardy/WR Indiana Hardy is certainly not a sure thing, but the 49ers’ biggest needs are WR, DL, and OL, and Hardy is the best available of those positions, and a good value pick here. New Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz will no doubt want to upgrade the WR corps, and Hardy will be able to contribute right away in multiple receiver sets, maybe even earning a starting job as a rookie.
30 Green Bay Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/CB Tennessee State Cromartie had an outstanding Senior Bowl, he’s got great size, he’s a ball hawk, and he’s aggressive. He seems like a perfect fit to succeed Al Harris in a couple of years. Green Bay would be wise to draft a corner to groom behind their aging veterans, and Cromartie could become scary good as he develops into a complete player.
31 N.Y. Giants Dan Connor/OLB Penn State Connor is a little undersized, but he’s a playmaker and he’s from Linebacker University. The Giants have been looking for a solid OLB for quite sometime, and with Connor’s quick decisions and intelligent reads, he could be that guy for quite some time if he falls this far.