For the full first round mock at a glance:
1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Team Needs: where do you start? How much time do you have? From a needs standpoint, Glenn Dorsey would fill a huge hole at defensive tackle on a team that had a horrible time stopping the run in 2007. They gave up an NFL-worst 153.5 rushing yards per game, and that includes the natural disaster in Pittsburgh where the Steelers only managed 84 yards on the ground because they played in a field that resembled Yodaâ€™s home planet.
Bill Parcells coming to the Dolphins as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations, major changes have already begun and this a crucial decision that he will have tremendous influence on. So begins the Parcells regime.Â
In the BCS championship game, Dorsey became a household name with a sack, five tackles, and a forced fumble even though the Buckeye offensive line keyed on him all night. He got through many of the double teams, showing why his explosiveness will translate well on the next level. On a night with award winners and All-Americans everywhere, the Lombardi and Nagurski award winning Dorsey stood out the most.Â Dorsey would be able to start immediately and have an instant impact in the middle. He is an elite player who overcame back and knee injuries, showing the moxie to remain on the field for LSU down the stretch.
–Paul M. Banks
2. St. Louis Rams — Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Chris Long is a DE that looks to be the â€œsafe pickâ€ at this spot.Â His pass rush and run-stuffing skills are good enough to make him look as dependable as you can ask for.Â With a defensive lineman/end, you could get a Franchise Player, or you could get someone that turns out to be like all of the Florida State defensive lineman drafted near the turn of the century (i.e. Jamal Reynolds) You need to be pretty good to put up big numbers as a young defensive end, and Long has this potential.Â He is a guy that can change the game-plan of an opposing team, making everyone around him better.Â But that is something that wonâ€™t show up in the stat sheets. The Rams need a lot of things, but having Long and Leonard Little on the line will make teams have to focus on the edges much more than they did in 2007.Â Long will benefit playing with Little, so his numbers could be better than originally expected, which is saying a lot.Â Unless you watch a lot of Rams games, you may not hear much about him right away, but I would expect him to be a huge part of the Ramsâ€™ future.
3.Â Atlanta Falcons â€“ Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Michael Vick left the Falcons in an awful position last off-season.Â The Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, Chris Redman trio was hardly the answer in the A-T-L.Â This franchise needs a facelift and it should start at quarterback.Â However, if Darren McFadden is available when Atlanta is on the clock, do not be surprised if the Falcons jump at the chance to take him.Â He has the most potential to be a franchise-changing player.
4. Oakland Raiders Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Letâ€™s be honest, Darren McFadden is a straight stud. He was the best college running back in the nation over the last two seasons and it wasnâ€™t by accident. His size and speed dominated his opponents on a regular basis, racking up 3400 rushing yards in 2006 & 2007 (in a great football conference mind you). The NFL took notice last season of what can happen when a big talented running back bursts onto the scene (see Adrian Peterson) and it isnâ€™t out of line to think that McFadden could have the same effect in 2008.Â
Oakland isnâ€™t exactly addressing a need with this pick as they do have Justin Fargas (who is coming off a 1,000 yard season) and Lamont Jordan already in the backfield. However, as the Vikings proved last season you arenâ€™t exactly hurting your team by drafting a solid running back. While the Raiders would prefer to select a big wide receiver prospect to pair with JaMarcus Russell or possibly an outside linebacker to solidify the boundary-to-boundary defense, a pick for either of those needs at this slot would be nothing but a reach. After six combined wins over the last two seasons, Iâ€™m sure the last thing Raider owner/GM Al Davis wants to do with the #3 pick is reach. I would imagine that the Raiders office would be flooded with phone calls to see if this pick is available, namely from the Jets.
5. Kansas City Chiefsâ€“ Jake Long, OT, Michigan
The Chiefs offense was such a mess in 2007 that they fired four of their offensive assistants.Â Kansas City ranked second to last in the NFL in total yards and points, last in the league in rushing yards and sacks allowed.Â A season ending injury to Larry Johnson surely did not help the running game, but neither did a sieve of an offensive line.Â It should start up front for KC on draft day, but if Long does not slip and the Chiefs decide another o-lineman (like Boise Stateâ€™s Ryan Clady) is a reach, they could go after one of the top quarterbacks or a defensive end to possibly replace free agent Jared Allen.
6. New York JetsÂ Vernon Gholston, DE-
Lots of teams must improve their pass rush, and he is just the blue chip prospect to do it. Often, personalities in the media will be described with the same exact word ALL THE TIME. With Barack Obama, you always hear the word â€œchange.â€ For Gholston, youâ€™ll hear â€œexplosive.â€ Heâ€™s fast, quick, agile, and big. Gholston is a guy with the measurables youâ€™d expect, upon seeing him in person. He also plays like youâ€™d anticipate. He didnâ€™t have the best night in the title game, but he is just as athletic and dominant as he physically appears. The combine will serve him well and the â€˜Mangeniusâ€™ will drool over the chance to make this pick.
–Paul M. Banks
7. New England Patriots (from 49ers) Dan Connor, LB, Penn State
There are mixed opinions out there on Connor, and some might say his stock is falling. This would be the high end of the pick range to see Connor go. Now that Zach Thomas rejected the Pats offer to sign with Dallas, New England is more likely to look at the draft to help fill the ILB need that will linger this off-season. Corner is another consideration with Asante Samuel a lock to be gone via free agency, but I predict that the Pats will consider that in later rounds and/or free agency. Of course, with the whole Spygate controversy worsening by the day, the Patriots could find themselves with a whole new host of problems much worse than LB depth.
–Paul M. Banks
8. Baltimore Ravens – Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
With the Ravens having so much difficulty getting anything done on offense, a new coach coming in to replace Brian Billick, and Steve McNair way past his prime, a quarterback is the natural way to go here. When Egdar Allen Poe quoted the Raven â€œnever more,â€ he was likely speaking about his thoughts of watching this offense perform again next season. (Well, ok not really) butâ€¦why Brohm instead of Woodson, Flacco, Henne etc.? Woodson was not helped by his recent workouts. Also, there seems to be a consensus that Brohm is the most NFL ready of all the QB prospects. That includes Matt Ryan if you talk to the right people. Brohm could have been a first rounder had he come out last year. Troy Smith is not a long term answer, but his presence could influence the development of whichever quarterbacks are brought into Baltimore.
–Paul M. Banks
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis is what any team is looking for in a defensive lineman.Â He has size and speed, and I think he has very good hands.Â He can use the big paws to fight off blocks and get in the backfield.Â He also has the legs to disrupt the passing game.Â And it doesnâ€™t hurt that he played against such tough PAC-10 competition as well.
10. New Orleans Saints â€“ Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
There seems to be some major disparity as to who is the best cornerback available in the draft. Aqib Talib is in a dead heat with Mike Jenkins (South Florida) and Leodis McKelvin (Troy) but Talib has a slight edge due to his speed and hands. Prior to the 2007 season, Talib was one of the Jayhawksâ€™ few known commodities after being named to the All-Big 12 First team following his sophomore season. His size (6â€™1â€ 205 lbs.) coupled with his ability has him already drawing comparisons to Charles Woodson. He will surely be looked to as a shutdown corner as soon as he steps onto the NFL field.
The Saints need defense. Period. No one expected the New Orleans defense to shut anybody down this year, but the defensive deficiencies were made more obvious by the fact that the offense couldnâ€™t score points at will against better opponents and the defense couldnâ€™t come up with a big stop against anyone. Sean Paytonâ€™s defense has holes at all three levels and will use the 10th pick to take the best available defender, no matter the position. A corner like Talib could definitely turn into a defensive cornerstone over the next few seasons.
— Peter Christian