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Let the game begin

My first crack at projecting the NFL draft's first round

Posted: Thursday January 24, 2008 11:46AM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 2:55PM
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With the Senior Bowl workouts underway this week, and all but two of the NFL's 32 teams having begun their offseasons, it's time for our first (of many) attempts to mock out the opening round of the NFL draft. A record 53 underclassmen declared for the April 26-27 draft, and in the next three months, free agency will do plenty to change the needs of most teams. But here's how we see things shaping up. (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com)

Mock NFL Draft No. 1
Pick Team Pos. Player College Class Ht. Wt.
1 DT Glenn Dorsey LSU Sr. 6-1 310
I'm not convinced that new Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells will allow himself to assign No. 1 overall value to an interior defensive lineman, so don't overlook Miami taking defensive end Chris Long of Virginia if, as expected, it gets no offers to trade out of the slot. There's also the issue of whether Dorsey's disruptive style of play would best be used in the 3-4 formation, should the Dolphins switch to it with Parcells on board. But with Miami in need of defensive help, Dorsey is No. 1 for now.
2 DE Chris Long Virginia Sr. 6-3 266
The Rams' choice will likely boil down to someone named Long, either Chris or Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long (no relation). But we're giving them Howie Long's impressive son, because he's such a solid bet to quickly turn into an impact pro. Long would team nicely with last year's No. 1, defensive tackle Adam Carriker.
3 QB Matt Ryan Boston College Sr. 6-5 221
Given the Falcons' fiasco at quarterback in 2007 -- from Michael Vick to Joey Harrington to Byron Leftwich to Chris Redman -- being in position to turn their card in for Ryan seems like the first break Atlanta has gotten in almost a year. What about Brian Brohm? I don't think Arthur Blank is of the mind to take a chance on anyone else from Louisville for a while.
4 RB Darren McFadden Arkansas Jr. 6-2 212
My gut tells me the cash-poor Raiders don't really want to be paying a top-five contract again this year, so look for them to shop this pick to some team hot for this year's version of Adrian Peterson. Folks are keeping an eye on Dallas in that regard, because of Jerry Jones' Arkansas ties. If McFadden makes it beyond No. 4, he could tumble past a number of teams who are already set at running back.
5 OT Jake Long Michigan Sr. 6-7 309
After years of excellence, the Chiefs offensive line reached disaster-area status last season. Long would be an immediate upgrade at either tackle, and help get Kansas City's Larry Johnson-led running game back on track.
6 DE Quentin Groves Auburn Sr. 6-3 249
This is higher than most have Groves going at this point, but he's expected to elevate himself in the round once he works out at both the Combine and at his pro day. Groves has a great burst off the edge, and his top-end speed will likely set him apart in scout's eyes once the memory of his injury-plagued senior season fades.
7 CB Mike Jenkins South Florida Sr. 6-0 200
With the probable free-agent departure of No. 1 cornerback Asante Samuel this spring, the Patriots will need a cover man. Jenkins is considered the cleanest name in a cornerback crop that lacks depth and impact potential.
*From San Francisco
8 QB Brian Brohm Louisville Sr. 6-3 225
Until the Ravens get their long-standing quarterback issues settled, all other needs will continue to seem secondary. Baltimore can't afford to pass on a prospect who has played and starred in a pro-style offense.
9 DT Sedrick Ellis USC Sr. 6-1 308
Ellis has turned heads this week in his Senior Bowl practices, and he's the kind of explosive and athletic play-making presence that the Bengals desperately need in their interior defensive line. He's a force to be reckoned with and rarely gets handled by just one blocker.
10 CB Aqib Talib Kansas Jr. 6-2 201
The Saints didn't upgrade their pass defense enough last offseason (Jason David?) and they paid for it in 2007. Talib is an elite athlete who has NFL size and coverage skills, and his versatility extends to him having played some on offense for the Jayhawks.

Mock Draft Continued