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Posted: Thursday April 17, 2008 11:57AM; Updated: Thursday April 17, 2008 11:57AM
Don Banks Don Banks >
INSIDE THE NFL
Mock Draft 6.0 cont.
 
21 DE Phillip Merling Clemson Jr. 6-4 275
The pendulum seems to be swinging back toward Merling, whose recent surgery for a sport hernia made some teams think twice about him. The Redskins need a defensive end who can create some havoc, and his track record is solid on that front. If the Redskins go receiver, Hardy is likely the best remaining choice.

22 RB Felix Jones Arkansas Jr. 6-0 200
We're not budging off of Jones, the "other" Razorback rusher in the first round. Cornerback and receiver are the Cowboys' other needs, but Dallas will address one of those with its No. 28 pick.
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23 OT Gosder Cherilus Boston College Sr. 6-6 315
The Steelers offensive line requires attention, and Cherilus is the only first-round lineman remaining. Pittsburgh would have loved to see Virginia's Albert linger long enough to reach them, but if that ever had a chance of happening, it's long gone now.
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24 LB Jerod Mayo Tennessee Jr. 6-2 230
With Thomas and Sweed both gone, I don't think the Titans are going to like their receiving choices (Jackson or Hardy) at No. 24. So we're giving them Mayo, the ex-Vol who can fill a need for Tennessee at outside linebacker.
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25 DT Kentwan Balmer North Carolina Sr. 6-4 308
This seems to be around the slot Balmer is expected to go, and with the Seahawks having lost veteran tackles Chuck Darby and Ellis Wyms this offseason, Seattle has an obvious need. Balmer had an inconsistent collegiate career, but he's the consensus third-ranked DT behind Dorsey and Ellis. Purdue tight end Dustin Keller is another strong first-round option for Seattle.
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26 DE Lawrence Jackson Southern Cal Sr. 6-4 261
Some have the Jaguars rolling the dice on Miami junior Calais Campbell, who wasn't all that impressive for the Hurricanes in 2007. But Jackson was a proven pass-rusher for the Trojans and while his upside may not be as high as Campbell's, his downside isn't as steep either.

27 RB Jonathan Stewart Oregon Jr. 5-10 235
Stewart would provide San Diego a replacement for the departed Michael Turner, and given the health issues that starter LaDainian Tomlinson had in the playoffs, the Chargers are wise to be cognizant of their need in the backfield. But it speaks to how stacked San Diego is that it can devote a first-round pick to the backup running back position.
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28 WR DeSean Jackson California Jr. 6-0 169
Having gotten their running back in Felix Jones at No. 22, the Cowboys land their impact receiver in Jackson at No. 28. Though he's slight of build, the 169-pound ex-Cal star has game-changing speed as both a slot receiver and in the return game. His punt return skills will have even more value if the Cowboys can't land Pacman Jones via trade.
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29 LB Dan Connor Penn State Jr. 6-2 233
The 49ers will look at receiving options with this pick, but they're not likely to have anyone rated higher overall than Connor, who could play at inside linebacker in their 3-4, right next to 2007 defensive rookie of the year Patrick Willis. Indiana's Hardy and Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly are the best available receivers.
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30 CB Brandon Flowers Virginia Tech Sr. 5-11 192
Flowers gives them a youthful option at a position where veterans Al Harris and Charles Woodson remain productive, but are starting to age. The Packers could address their need for youth at offensive tackle by taking USC's Sam Baker, but most have him graded as a second-round choice.
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31 Pick forfeited -- -- -- -- --
The Patriots lost this pick as their penalty for the Week 1 Spygate episode
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32 S Kenny Phillips Miami Jr. 6-2 211
With Mayo and Connor gone, the Giants can shift their focus to safety, where finding options to replace the departed Gibril Wilson is a day-one draft priority. Phillips is this year's highest-rated safety, and he's got good cover skills and athleticism.
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