Awakening from a nightmare to take one more shot at Round 1
I have a persistent nightmare around draft time. I will burn out my youth by working round the clock, bringing my mock draft absolutely up to tip top shape, file it to the magazine editors, watch the Sports Illustrated on Sunday deadline go sailing by and then ... and then... get trapped in the announcement a day later that the first team drafting has locked up its man and it ain't the one my Mock Draft sez it's going to draft.
With the deadline passed, I am powerless to move. Thus the announcement earlier this week that Miami is drafting Jake Long at No. 1, rather than, sob, Vernon Gholston, who never really had a chance, has turned your faithful narrator into a clown.
Worst of all, the mood of my loyal readers is not anger, as it should be. It's sorrow. A fine mind burned out at the still productive age of 93. A lifetime's work wasted.
Here's what happened. Bill Parcells told me the talks between himself and ex-Chief guard Tom Condon, Long's agent, were progressing. Gholston? Not a word about him. Aha, sez the crafty Z. A set-up that I knew well. Setting the world up with Long while Parcells snatches Gholston from under the noses of many who crave him.
I place another call to Condon. "We've been talking," he says. Right, and you'll be talking while he drafts the other guy. Ah, Fra Diavolo, do I know this vicious game or don't I? I am the man who will nail this ruse while others fall into the trap. I'm the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. I am LeCarre's Smiley and Fleming's Bond rolled into one package. How can my readers get so lucky?
Then Parcells agreed to a deal to draft Long. My suicide attempt was foiled when the Redhead snatched away the soup spoon I was trying to swallow. I give you now my, sob, amended top of the draft, since quite a few lives have been affected by this unforeseen change in fortunes:
1) Dolphins -- Jake Long, T, Michigan
Miami needs a ... sorry, I just can't go through with it. See above.
2) Rams -- Chris Long, DE, Virginia
"We'll take whichever Long falls to us," Scott Linehan told me at the League meetings. Jake would have been preferred. Howie's kid will give them a dozen years of maximum effort.
3) Falcons -- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
The scouts love Glenn Dorsey, the disruptive defensive tackle from LSU. The coaching staff would like to start the new regime with a hot young quarterback in place. This is a debate that will rage right up until draft day.
4) Raiders -- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Al Davis reverts to his roots and goes for the player most capable of producing the deep strike. McFadden's 4.33 qualifies, but it could be a strikeout if the baggage he carries (two night club tiffs) becomes excess baggage.
5) Chiefs -- Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Trading Jared Allen to the Vikings now moves DE to the forefront on the need list, and an offensive lineman will come later. Gholston's workouts have been off the charts. He runs a 4.65 40, and his bench press of 37 reps tied Jake Long's mark for best at the Combine. Dorsey's name has arisen, for those who equate DT with DE. Ryan Clady's name is in the mix, if KC wants to go O-line now and save the defense for their 17th pick. Brett Favre is a name not to be overlooked, if they feel they can somehow find him and lure him out of retirement, and the name of Felidia has arisen, for those who like fine Italian food.
6) Jets -- Ryan Clady, T, Boise State
Damn! Gholston's gone and we oh so wanted him. Dorsey? Hmmm, would be dynamic in the middle, no question, and if we draft him, then New England couldn't -- those are the rules -- but Clady's a terrific O-lineman, a complete tackle, one of the Boys from Boise. Why not?
7) Patriots Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
They're a base 3-4 defensive team, but Bill Belichick likes to throw in a lot of 4-3 on pressure downs. And with the dynamic, disruptive Dorsey lining up next to All-Pro Richard Seymour, the Pats will have enough pressure to make lives miserable.
8) Ravens -- Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Do you fortify an already powerful defense with the most gifted, nifty-footed linebacker on the board, or try to trade up for Matt Ryan -- or hope the BC quarterback falls to you at No. 8? If Dorsey is still there, he'd be too good to pass up as well.
9) Bengals -- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Cincy hasn't seen this kind of player on its interior defensive line since the days of Tim Krumrie. Speed is Ellis's best attribute; he has a great burst off the ball. He'll make everyone better on what was a disappointing unit last year.
10) Saints -- Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Could use Keith Rivers, but he'll likely be gone. The top corner is available if the Saints want him. The decision will be between the explosive Jenkins and Troy's kinetic Leodis McKelvin, who coach Sean Payton says represents the safer choice.