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The calm before the storm

Prospects' stocks shifting on precipice of draft season

Posted: Thursday February 14, 2008 12:14PM; Updated: Sunday February 17, 2008 12:42PM
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With the scouting combine less than a week away from cranking to life in Indianapolis, the start of the NFL's full-blown draft season is almost at hand. Here's our second attempt to mock out the April 26 first round, replete with an early change at the top, where Virginia defensive end Chris Long is now projected as Miami's No. 1 overall pick, ahead of LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. But keep an eye on Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, who may still find himself headed for the Dolphins before all is said and done. (Feel free to send comments to siwriters@simail.com.)

Mock NFL Draft No. 2
Pick Team Pos. Player College Class Ht. Wt.
1 DE Chris Long Virginia Sr. 6-3 266
For the time being at least, I've talked myself out of the notion that Bill Parcells will invest No. 1 overall money in a defensive tackle who may not be a great fit for the 3-4 defense that Miami eventually wants to transition to. So LSU's Glenn Dorsey is out of my top spot and Long is in. Howie Long's boy is the kind of high-intensity player Parcells loves, and you can at least defend the pick in terms of dollars, since pass rushers get paid the big bucks in the NFL. The Dolphins will obviously entertain trade offers for the No. 1 slot -- if there are any -- and Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan is the other viable candidate if Miami isn't sold on second-year QB John Beck.
2 OT Jake Long Michigan Sr. 6-7 309
The Rams took a defensive tackle in Adam Carriker with their first rounder last year, so they likely won't take Dorsey. They re-signed Marc Bulger to a long-term deal, so they can't take Ryan. They have Steven Jackson in the backfield, so running back Darren McFadden makes no sense. That means either shop the pick or take the other Long, who would immediately upgrade the Rams' offensive line, which was a source of constant concern in their disappointing 2007 season.
3 QB Matt Ryan Boston College Sr. 6-5 221
Ryan is on the rise in these, the pre-NFL Combine days, and come draft weekend the Falcons may feel fortunate if he's still hanging around when their pick arrives. If he is, he's a no-brainer for a franchise that had little hope at the game's most pivotal position last season. Should Ryan be gone, Dorsey, Jake Long or McFadden all would fill a need. In other words, the Falcons, if they win that coin flip with Oakland for the No. 3 spot, have at least four quality options to choose from.
4 DT Glenn Dorsey LSU Sr. 6-1 310
The Raiders could go a lot of different ways, including trying to shop the No. 4 pick to anyone interested in McFadden (Dallas, we're looking in your direction), taking McFadden themselves or filling the void at defensive tackle created by Warren Sapp's retirement. If they go for the latter option, it should come down to whether they like Dorsey more than they like USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, who had a strong week at the Senior Bowl and has risen to a top-five grade in the eyes of many scouts.
5 OT Ryan Clady Boise St. Jr. 6-6 317
This is strictly a need pick for the Chiefs, whose glaring inefficiency at offensive line last season was apparent from Week 1 on. We had them taking Michigan tackle Jake Long in our first mock, but he's off our board this time. This is actually too high to take Clady, the second-best tackle in the draft, so Kansas City would be wise to trade down into the No. 8-12 range and try to get him there. Anyone coveting McFadden would be the Chiefs' natural trade partner.
6 RB Darren McFadden Arkansas Jr. 6-2 212
With Thomas Jones on hand, New York isn't really in need of a No. 1 rusher, but McFadden may be too tempting to pass up given that some believe he's the closest thing to Adrian Peterson in this year's draft. USC's Ellis and Ohio State defensive end-outside linebacker Vernon Gholston are two other sensible options for the Jets.
7 DE Vernon Gholston Ohio St. Jr. 6-4 255
Conventional wisdom says the Patriots use this pick to find Asante Samuel's replacement once their No. 1 cornerback leaves via free agency. But New England might see restricted free agent Randall Gay as Samuel's successor, and thus could use this pick to select Gholston, a pass-rushing talent who projects to an outside rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The Patriots need inside linebackers more than outside linebackers, but Mike Vrabel could always move back inside to make room for Gholston, and there also a chance that outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin won't return.
* From San Francisco
8 CB Leodis McKelvin Troy Sr. 5-11 186
With No. 8 now considered too high for Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm, the Ravens could address their need at cornerback, where Samari Rolle and Chris McAllister aren't what they once were. McKelvin is the top-ranked corner, but Baltimore could also find Boise State offensive left tackle Ryan Clady to be a fit if the No. 5 Chiefs pass him up.
9 DT Sedrick Ellis USC Sr. 6-1 308
The Bengals' top need would dovetail perfectly with the best available talent remaining on the board if Ellis is still around. Ellis is the kind of explosive and athletic play-making presence that the Bengals desperately need in their interior defensive line. His good work at the Senior Bowl shot him up into top-four territory on some draft boards, but for the time being we still have him rated below Dorsey among defensive tackles.
10 CB Mike Jenkins South Florida Sr. 6-0 200
With Jason David proving to be more of a nickelback than a starter, and Mike McKenzie suffering a late-season ACL injury, the Saints are desperate for help at cornerback in this draft. Jenkins gets a solid first-round grade, as does Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib. Both should be there for the choosing at No. 10 for the Saints.

Mock Draft Continued