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NFL Mock Draft
Rounds 1 & 2

Round 1

1. Dolphins – Jake Long, OT, Michigan

Jake Long signed a multi-year contract with the Dolphins Tuesday, assuring him as the first pick of the 2008 draft. He’s got a big, thick frame, is a field leader with excellent awareness and instincts, and is technically sound in just about every aspect. The guy makes all the blocks and plays with a mean streak. Bill Parcells has stayed away from drafting offensive lineman early in the past, but he and new head coach Tony Sparano must have seen something in Long that made them sure he’s the right guy.

2. Rams – Chris Long, DE, Virginia

Chris Long has dominated at every level and possesses all the skills necessary to make the jump to the NFL. He excelled at the NFL Combine and while he’s not the fastest defensive end in his draft class, the ones who are faster aren’t 6-3, 272-pound behemoths. He’s got excellent football instincts, sheds blockers with ease and can make all the plays. With Jake Long gone, the Rams should jump on the opportunity to grab Chris Long and add more beef to their pass rush.

3. Falcons – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

While it’s entirely possible the Falcons trade this pick and go for a QB, there are just too many different possibilities with that scenario to bank on one in particular – and waste the opportunity to grab Dorsey, a great player in his own right. He won every award college had to offer last season, including the Nagurski Award, Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Lott Award. The only thing that makes him a question mark is the tibia stress fracture, an injury that he acknowledged dates back to the summer of ’06.It didn’t impede him last year, so there’s no reason to believe it will be much of an issue in the NFL. At his Pro Day workout at LSU, Dorsey (6-2, 297) ran the 40 in 5.13 and 5.12, had a 25.5-inch vertical jump, 8-foot-4-inch long jump, 4.80 short shuttle, and 7.52 cone drill. During position drills, Dorsey apparently looked very good. Even if the Falcons draft Matt Ryan (which I don’t think they will) Dorsey will be a top ten pick.

4. Raiders – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

Some mock drafts have the Raiders trading this pick to the Cowboys, and some even have it going to the Jets. Unless the Raiders can add a second round pick this year (#36) or next year (undetermined) from the Jets for dropping two spots, or get a future second and the Cowboys’ first pick this season, there’s just no way Al Davis will pass up on snagging an athlete like McFadden with the fourth overall selection. He’s run into a few problems on the way to draft day, but he could have an Adrian Peterson-like effect on the Raiders offense.

5. Chiefs – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

The word a few months ago was that the Chiefs were happy with the progress Brodie Croyle, and that they wouldn’t go for Matt Ryan. As tempting as it would be for me to put Ryan Clady here – since the offensive line has still not recovered from the loss of Willie Roaf – it makes sense to draft a guy who by all accounts is the real deal. Ryan could still get snagged by the Falcons or drop down to the Ravens or Panthers, but he’s a big name and when it’s all said and done he could be the difference in turning around this franchise.

6. Jets – Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State

If McFadden doesn’t go to the Raiders, he’ll slip to the Jets. But I’m banking that Al Davis likes the prospect of improving the offense before the defense – which isn’t terrible to begin with. The Jets on the other hand, need Gholston. The OSU product is a man-child who shredded his competition at the combine, posting a 4.67 in the 40 and a ridiculous 37 reps – 6 more than his closest competitor, Derrick Harvey. Boasting a 35.5-inch vertical, 10.5 foot broad jump and has an exceptional character, he could still go anywhere in the 2-10 pick range.

7. Patriots (from 49ers) – Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy

With so many great DBs in the draft, it’s very possible that the Pats trade this pick for a few slots down and future considerations. The defense took major hits this offseason, losing both Asante Samuel and Randall Gay to free agency. McKelvin has drawn comparisons to R.W. McQuarters, and will fit in well on this team.

8. Ravens – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State

Its possible Clady goes to the Chiefs, but he shouldn’t go past this slot. If Ryan is still available, it’s conceivable they take him here. But taking a bookend left tackle like Clady is the right move for the Ravens, since they’ve most likely seen the last of Jonathan Ogden’s glory. Clady’s a future Pro-Bowler who can start right away and help the team – something no first-round QB is going to do. There’s been some talk of the Ravens trading this pick or going for Sedrick Ellis, but since DT isn’t a real team need, I think that move would be counterproductive – unless they’re just trying to block their division rivals from snagging him.

9. Bengals – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC

This selection is from the no-brainer department of draft picks, unless, of course, Ellis gets taken sooner. Then, I think, the Bengals would be wise to add either a top RB or a top offensive lineman. Ellis, however, is big, tough and just the kind of combination run/pass stuffer the Bengals need to anchor their weak defensive line. He’s got great footwork and balance and can immediately jump in as a starter for Cincy. With a couple of years under his belt, he’ll have Pro Bowl potential.

10. Saints – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DB, Tennessee State

I still like the Saints taking a DB here, unless one of the top DTs falls to the 10th pick – a possibility if the Falcons or Bengals take somebody other than Dorsey and /or Ellis. There are just so many good corners to choose from. The Saints might snag Jenkins, if he’s still available, but now my feeling is that it’ll be Rodgers-Cromartie at this spot. Antonio’s cousin blew up at the combine – impressing everybody with his speed and athleticism. He’s 6’1” and has room to develop into a solid NFL safety.

11. Bills – Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

While the Bills have glaring needs at DT and LB, I think taking a player like Jenkins makes the most sense, although he’s been exposed as an occasionally poor tackler on film. Many have the Bills going WR here, but I think the top CBs are just too strong to ignore this early in the game. There will also be a glut of receivers available in round 2, if the Bills choose to even go that direction.

12. Broncos – Keith Rivers, LB, USC

Rivers is considered by many to be the best in the draft, although Shanahan could take a RB. While the Broncos have other needs (OL, WR) I think it’s imperative they select a linebacker here – all the good ones will be gone by their next selection at Round 2, with the exception of possibly Maryland LB Erin Henderson or Xavier Adibi from Virginia Tech – who could go somewhere in Round 2 or early Round 3. If that’s their thinking, they’ll take Vanderbilt tackle Chris Williams and opt for Henderson or Adibi in Round 2 if they’re still available.

13. Panthers – Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt

This team needs a big tackle that can protect Jake Delhomme’s blind side, and Williams is just the guy to do it. He’s a rangy 6-6, 315 with solid pass-blocking skills, although he’s far from the strongest offensive tackle in the draft. The other standout tackle who could be selected here is Jeff Otah (see below, pick 15).

14. Bears – Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Mendenhall is a hometown product from nearby Skokie that will go a long way toward forgetting Cedric Benson, who’s just not developing into the player the Bears had envisioned when they selected him with the fourth pick overall in 2005. The Illini back is a physical inside runner with quickness and superb balance – and many have said he’s as good as McFadden, maybe even better. The Bears need a solid running back, and it’s probably going to be him or Jonathan Stewart.

15. Lions – Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh

Otah, with his huge frame (6-6, 332), great instincts and raw talent, could prove to be the best offensive lineman in the draft, although he’ll have to tighten up his physique and improve his speed and strength if he wants to dominate at the next level. I think the Lions need a solid offensive lineman before they start worrying about the skill positions, but they could also opt for a RB like Stewart here and take a tackle in Round 2.

16. Cardinals – Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

Turf toe injuries this early in a career are always a concern, but you just can’t ignore what Stewart did at Oregon – even while playing in pain. He’s a complete back with few weaknesses, and has even drawn comparisons to LaDainian Tomlinson. It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals – who need a back with a little more punch than the aging Edgerrin James – letting Stewart fall past their hands.

17. Chiefs (from Vikings) – Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

With the exception of Gholston, no defensive end turned more heads at the combine than Harvey, whose massive 6-4, 271-pound frame and superior athleticism remind many of Jevon Kearse. He has the required speed to be a dominant edge rusher, and could even switch to OLB with the right personnel and scheme. Since the Vikes traded the pick to the Chiefs, along with two Round 3 picks, for DE Jared Allen, I’m assuming the Chiefs will take the opportunity to grab Harvey, if he’s still available, or a another top DE like Philip Merling or Calais Campbell. Sure, they’ll will be lucky to have Harvey drop this far, but I think it could happen, given some of the previous teams glaring needs at other positions.

18. Texans – Agib Talib, CB, Kansas

The Texans biggest needs are at RB and CB. If the big-name running backs are gone, you can bet the Texans will be selecting a top corner. There will still be several to choose from. Depending on your view of a corner’s best assets, Talib could be a boon or a bust. He’s not that tough, has solid – but not exceptional – speed, is very athletic with a 38-inch vertical leap, and can broad jump almost 11 feet. He’s also a bit of a gambler and he loves smoking pot, but he hasn’t reached his full potential and everybody smokes pot in the NFL – so I think he’ll be a first-rounder.

19. Eagles – Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

The Eagles could also go a variety of ways with this pick, filling needs at WR, DE and even LB. But Phillips – easily the best safety prospect in the draft, is a banger with solid coverage skills in the mold of Sean Taylor and Brian Dawkins. If they wait until Round 2, he’ll be gone, so they’ll have to grab him now and take a DE or WR they can live with in Round 2.

20. Buccaneers – DeSean Jackson, WR, California

Jackson, who was considered the third-best all-around athlete in the Major League Baseball draft prospect pool in 2005 by Baseball America, is a rare specimen with impressive speed, agility and intensity. While the Bucs could go for another receiver like Limas Sweed or Devin Thomas, take a QB, opt for a top linebacker, or take of the many solid defensive backs that remain, I think they’ll draft Jackson based simply on his intangibles – a la Ted “Family Matters” Ginn.

21. Redskins – Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

Limas Sweed might be the best value of any first-round player. With his prototypical size (6-4, 216), speed and athleticism (and ultra-cool sounding name), the guy’s poised for greatness at the next level, something the Redskins need at the WR position.

22. Cowboys (from Browns) – Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State

They could easily go CB here, but if the top dogs are gone, they should wait until round 2. Like I’ve said before, Terry Glenn is moments away from being euthanized, and T.O. isn’t necessarily of sound mind. Dallas needs a guy with a dependable future, and Thomas could be the one. He’s not great yet, but he’ll offer a nice complement to Owens in ’08 and could be the #2 WR in Bid D for years to come. Originally, I had them drafting Thomas at #28, but with a few of the top WRs dropping down boards, Thomas will be a hot commodity late in Round #1 and could even go a lot sooner as he’s moved up the draft boards quite a bit in the past few weeks.

23. Steelers – Branden Albert, G, Virginia

Albert’s the biggest (6-6, 309), quickest guard in the draft, so it makes sense the Steelers select him to fill the shoes of Alan Faneca, who signed on March 1 with the Jets. He may go a lot earlier than #23, but if he falls this far, the Steelers won’t pass him up. And I’m sure Albert, who’s from Rochester, NY, will enjoy being close to home and playing for his favorite team. And if the Steelers don’t opt for a top CB or stud WR here – and they really don’t need to – then Branden’s their guy.

24. Titans – Philip Merling, DE, Clemson

I honestly can’t see this guy going much later than this or the Jags pick at #26. Calais Campell is another option if Merling and Harvey are already gone, but Merling’s value diminished following an extremely limited showing (just 17 reps on the bench press) at the combine that failed to give scouts a true idea of his speed and strength. His uncle and former position coach at Clemson, Chris Rumph, informed the media that Merling had recent surgery to repair a sports hernia. While he needs to work on his technique before he’ll succeed as a pro, he’s still a hot commodity than should escape a first-round selection.

25. Seahawks – Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue

Just about every mock draft I’ve encountered lists Dustin Keller as the Seahawks first-round selection, and after tossing about 10 different names of DLs, OTs and WRs in this slot and adjusting the second round ramifications accordingly, it just didn’t make any sense. Keller could be the blocker/possession receiver that Matt Hasselbeck – and the rest of this unit – needs to open up the offense and allow their talented skill starters to flourish once again. See also: Fred Davis, TE,USC – a raw talent and former high school running back with good athleticism and hands, but needs technique work and additional development to be an every-down TE.

26. Jaguars – Calais Campbell, DE, Miami

Campbell wasn’t as good as expected at the U, but he’s still got the requisite size and speed to be a disruptive pass rusher. His stock has gone down some, but he’s still a great NFL prospect that the Jaguars could use to bolster their pass rush. He’s been touted highly on many mock drafts, but I think there are some concerns about his durability, so he could fall to the Jags.

27. Chargers – Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College

Cherilus isn’t among the elite tackles in this year’s draft, mainly because he’s not a great pass-blocker and was penalized quite a bit at BC, when he switched to left tackle for his senior season. But he’ll make a good fit as the right tackle for the Chargers, who already have Marcus McNeill – a Pro Bowl alternate in 2007 as a rookie. There are some areas where the Chargers need some improvement, but Cherilus is a perfect fit and the selection that makes the most sense – if he falls this far.

28. Cowboys – Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas

As a Cowboy fan, it would be nice to think they might trade up for McFadden,but with so many highly touted backs available in the first two rounds, why bother? Jerry Jones loves Arkansas running backs, and if he can’t have their best, how about the other half of the devastating backfield duo? Fayetteville Felix is a relatively unknown commodity,but he could be as productive at the next level as McFadden-especially with his propensity for big plays and electrifying kick returns. This Jones could definitely be the Yin to Marion Barber’s Yang in the Dallas backfield – and provide a boost they just didn’t get with Julius Teaser. I originally had the Cowboys drafting him at #22, but he should still be available at #28.

29. 49ers (from Colts) – Dan Connor, LB, Penn State

Connor has drawn comparisons to fellow Penn State product Paul Posluszny and would be a nice fit on this improving defense. Connor might not fall this far, but I think some teams will pass on him because of obvious needs in other areas and draft value quandaries. And I think the 49ers won’t like the value of the remaining lineman at this early point. They could trade up or down for a standout tackle, but if they stay here, Connor will be the best they can do.

30. Packers – Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

Like I said before, you can never have too many good corners. Cason has got great football instincts and can make all the plays to be a shutdown corner at the next level. With the Packers, he’ll have an opportunity to develop at a normal pace and eventually be a ProBowl- type player.

31. Giants – Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee

The Giants could really use a top-notch offensive lineman, but they’ll be lucky to get a versatile linebacker like Mayo with this pick. There are flashier linebackers with bigger upsides out there, including Quentin Groves, but Groves is a pass-rushing tweener – and the Giants are stacked with edge rushers. Mayo was effective as an OLB – and on the inside last season at Tennessee, so he could eventually be moved back to the outside in the Giants 4-3. Wherever this fast, instinctive tackler ends up, he’ll have an impact. Other options for this pick include Penn State LB Dan Connor and Maryland’s Erin Henderson. Tavares Gooden, an ILB out of Miami, has been mentioned a lot lately, but he’s really a serious reach in Round 1 and only a marginal Round 2 selection.

Next: Round 2