Tomorrow the NFL Draft hits NYC, and with it the eyes of the football world will turn to who will be the next superstars in the sport. It should be a very interesting day to say the least, as there are always some surprises, (Ted Ginn Jr. anyone?) and teams that will pick players they were not expected to. While we know we’ll be just about as off as anyone, here’s my Mock Draft for the big day tomorrow. Proceed with caution:
1. Miami – OT Jake Long, Michigan – Not much to say here, he will be a cornerstone to the Dolphins future, which can’t get much worse than it is right now.
2. St.Louis – DE Chris Long, Virginia – The Rams have to get more pressure on the QB, and Long could be the guy to help that trend a great deal.
3. Atlanta – DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU – A game-changing player on defense, Dorsey is always at full-speed, and will be a big help the Falcons struggling defense.
4. Oakland – DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State – I still think they could take RB Darren McFadden, but they already have upgraded Rob Ryan’s defense, and with Gholston that trend will continue.
5. Kansas City – QB Matt Ryan, Boston College – My first stretch, but the Chiefs have a later pick with the Jared Allen deal, and they realize that they had better get a QB in there, and Ryan’s the pick of the litter.
6. NY Jets – RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas – I think the best talent on the board, this game-breaking back will have a huge following with the Jets, and by mid-season will make Thomas Jones and Leon Washington afterthoughts in the running game.
7. New England – OT Ryan Clady, Bosie State – If there is a deal in the first round, it’s here. If not, the Pats will look to add some muscle to the O-line, a spot that gave them issues down the stretch last season with Clady.
8. Baltimore – G Branden Albert, Virginia – The Ravens O-line has been breaking down over the past few seasons, and Albert will show the teams desire to change that. With questions at QB, they need protection and an ability to help out the running game, so Albert makes sense.
9. Cincinnati – DT Sedrick Ellis, USC – Cincy’s defense has been its weak spot over Marvin Lewis’ tenure, and Ellis is a for-sure pick here to try and upgrade and to try and start to reverse that trend.
10. New Orleans – DE Derrick Harvey, Florida – The Saints need help on defense as well, and while some have them taking a LB or CB, I think D-line is also an area of need, and Harvey is a good fit for them at 10.
11. Buffalo – WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State – The #1 wide out in the draft, Thomas will have an impact for the Bills in his rookie year. Buffalo needs playmakers, and Thomas at 6-2 can make life tough on opposing corners.
12. Denver – OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt – The Broncos struggled rushing the football last season, which is something you don’t normally see, and with Williams added to the mix, they will try to get back to smash mouth football. Plus he fills a need with Matt Lepsis retiring.
13. Carolina – OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh – The Bears would like him at 14, but the Panthers also need help on the O-line, and Otah will fill that need. A smart and physical player that has been steady in workouts.
14. Chicago – RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois – Time for the Bears to admit the mistake of letting Thomas Jones go and giving the ball to Cedric Benson full-time. They will do that with the investment pick of Mendenhall, who is quick and has good size and bulk to carry the load for the Bears.
15. Detroit – OLB Keith Rivers, USC – Rivers is a tough player and one that can bring some much needed attitude to the Lions defense. With great speed and burst, Rivers is a player that can step right in and make an impact for the Lions on defense.
16. Arizona – CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy – The Cardinals do have needs elsewhere, but they could use a solid shutdown corner, and McKelvin fills that need. He’s the top corner and also can return kicks if the Cards want to use him in that role.
17. Kansas City – DE Phillip Merling, Clemson – With moving Jared Allen earlier in the week to the Vikings, the Chiefs rebuild that area with Merling, who has great quickness and is a natural pass rusher, which the Chiefs now need.
18. Houston – CB Mike Jenkins, South Florida – The Texans need a corner to help their front seven, and Jenkins is just the guy for them at 18. Has good cover skills, but not great in run support.
19. Philadelphia – CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee St. – The run on corners continues here with the Eagles, as they nab this special talent to help a secondary that wants to help out free agent stud Asante Samuel.
20. Tampa Bay – WR DeSean Jackson, Cal – The Bucs need some playmakers on offense, and while Jackson isn’t size-wise the biggest wide out in the draft, he can make plays with his speed and stretch the field for Jeff Garcia and company.
21. Washington – WR Limas Sweed, Texas – Jim Zorn wants to run 3 and 4 wide out sets, and Sweed would fit the mold. Sweed didn’t show elite speed at the combines, but makes up for it with excellent size and long arms.
22. Dallas – CB Aquib Talib, Kansas – The Cowboys would love to have a wide out here, but don’t want to spend that high of a pick on one. They will go with Talib, who will start as a reserve and eventually take over a starting spot in 2009.
23. Pittsburgh – OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College – Pittsburgh gave the farm to QB Ben Roethlisberger this offseaeson, now they need to give him some studs up front to block for him and to open holes for back Willie Parker. Cherilus fills that role nicely.
24. Tennessee – WR Malcom Kelly, Oklahoma – While the Titans haven’t had a playmaking wide out forever, Kelly will give them a young option that can make plays at 6-3, 224. Not the fastest wide out in the draft, but does have long arms to help out Vince Young’s off the target throws.
25. Seattle – RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon – With the Hawks dumping Shaun Alexander this week, the team needs to start looking at options to help out Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett at RB, and Stewart fits the mold. They will also look long and hard at tight ends at this spot.
26. Jacksonville – DT Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina – The Jags need defensive ends and tackles, and with Marcus Stroud gone to Buffalo, Balmer will fit nicely here for the Jags. He’s the #3 DT on the board, and had a great senior season to put him in this spot for a team that he can thrive on.
27. San Diego – CB Brandon Flowers, Virgina Tech – Corner is an area that the Chargers can use an upgrade in, and Flowers is a good player that can fill that. He is a big hitter and is aggressive, and while sometimes inconsistent, he will get plenty of time to learn in the Chargers system.
28. Dallas – RB Felix Jones, Arkansas – Jones isn’t the back from Arkansas that the Boys want, but they will take him here. The Cowboys need depth at RB and Jones will be a good backup for Marion Barber.
29. San Francisco – LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee – A sure tackler, Mayo will upgrade a Niners defense that needs more players like last years stud Patrick Willis. Mayo is a bit undersized, but makes up for it with his quick and physical play.
30. Green Bay – CB Antonie Cason, Arizona – The Pack could use some depth at the corner spot, and Cason could fall to them here at 30. He’s the Jim Thorpe award winner, and while he has just average speed, he’s got good instincts and is productive when he has a shot.
31. New York Giants – WR Mario Manningham, Michigan – A big play threat that can help the Giants stretch the field. Manningham can eventually take over for Amani Toomer, and can be a solid #2 receiver opposite Plaxico Burress.