MMQB (page 2)
How's this for a surprise: I say Atlanta will take Ryan even if Dorsey's on the board. Then everyone will say it was the owner's pick. Not so. With Dimitroff's background in football, I'm convinced he'd never have taken this job if he felt Blank's heavy hand on his shoulder for the first pick. It's logical to think Blank wants Ryan for the billboard-on-I-85 factor. But if this pick is Ryan, it will be because Dimitroff and Smith think it's best for the franchise.
Now for Ryan. My buddy Don "Donnie Brasco'' Banks is always telling me how gullible I am. Brasco likes baseball, and I called him a couple of years ago after seeing Juan Acevedo pitch in a spring-training game and told him, "Juan Acevedo's gonna win 15 games this year.'' He didn't come close. I admit to getting sucked in a bit by players I like. So write this down, you who keep records of how badly I screw up predictions: Matt Ryan is going to be a star in the NFL. You can feel it being around him -- he's got that I-won't-be-denied demeanor Peyton Manning had 10 years ago. He's got a plus arm, he knows how to get players around him to play better, and he loves having the ball in his hands with the game on the line.
4. Oakland. DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU. This guy is Warren Sapp Jr. If Dorsey's still on the board, I see the Saints trying hard to trade into this spot to get him. It might work. If he's not, my guess is Chris Long, who actually doesn't mind the gargantuan shadow his father will cast if Chris goes to the Raiders. One thing about the Raiders, though: They don't call the place the Black Hole for nothing. They're also the Black Hole for draft nuggets. I don't feel confident predicting anything they'd do, except I don't think they'll pick Darren McFadden, because they think Michael Bush will come back strong from his 2006 broken leg and be an every-down back, potentially this year.
5. Kansas City. T Ryan Clady, Boise State. Two things I hear here -- coach Herman Edwards likes Gholston and superscout Bill Kuharich isn't sold on any of the corners as the No. 5 overall pick. In the end, the pick is rather obvious -- a tackle who can play either side to protect a quarterback, Brodie Croyle, no one is convinced can play. But they'd like to give him a real chance.
6. New York Jets. RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas. Think of the New York offense. Anything stand out? Nope. Laveranues Coles is a decent deep threat, but not the explosive playmaker you'd like. This team has spent $94 million guaranteed on five players this offseason (Calvin Pace, Kris Jenkins, Damien Woody, Alan Faneca, Kerry Rhodes), and Jenkins, Woody and Faneca are win-now signings. McFadden's a win-now pick.
7. New England. DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State. I think the Patriots will sniff around a couple of guys this week, most notably Chris Long in the off-chance he makes it to No. 7, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade up to the Chiefs' pick if they think the Jets might be Gholston people. Remember how weak the Patriot rush was in the Super Bowl -- and fairly consistently weak at points late in the season? Richard Seymour's postseason: 12 quarters, zero quarterback pressures or sacks. New England has to address that.
The one thing that would stun me is a cornerback. Bill Belichick, in Cleveland and in New England, has had 14 first-round picks, and only once did he take a cornerback -- Antonio Langham, the just-OK DB from Alabama in 1994, picked way too high at No. 9 overall. The Patriots plucked Asante Samuel in the fourth round. They're far more likely to help their front seven if they pick at No. 7, then take a cornerback down the line.
8. Baltimore. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State. No playoff contender needs a cornerback more than the Ravens. They either sit here and pick the one they like, or trade down a few slots to choose the one they can get while adding a second- or third-round pick to move. My bet is on a trade.
9. Cincinnati. DT Sedrick Ellis, USC. Best player remaining on the board. By far.
10. New Orleans. CB Mike Jenkins, South Florida. The Saints are working hard to stack the first-round corners in the right order, which leads me to believe they'll pick one of them ... if they don't trade up, and if the really good defensive linemen are gone.
11. Buffalo. WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State. The negatives: Only a one-year starter, not always focused on the task at hand, one leg is shorter than the other. The positives: a 6-2, 4.45-ish deep threat with good hands. It might take him a year, but he should be a good pro.
12. Denver. LB Keith Rivers, USC. The Patriots could trade down into this area and be happy to get Rivers, the best playmaking linebacker in this draft --though he's slightly light for them. Denver seems to have a perennial need at this position. The Broncos like Rashard Mendenhall, but Mike Shanahan has always found running backs in later rounds.
13. Carolina. RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon. Some teams are scared off by his turf-toe surgery, and some artificial-turf teams will likely steer clear of him. He may not be ready for the start of training camp, but the Panthers think it's worth taking a mini-risk on a 235-pound back who -- with the toe throbbing -- ran a 4.45 40 two months ago.
14. Chicago. OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh. Interesting call here. I could see the Bears being tempted to take a runner, but the depth in the running-back class is sufficient to allow them to wait until Round 2 or 3. Plus, I don't think they're ready to bury Cedric Benson yet -- though they should be.
15. Detroit. DE Derrick Harvey, Florida. Not out of the question that the Leos could take a running back here, but this pick is in line with the staff's belief that the front seven has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed now.
16. Arizona. CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy. Odd. From what I read, I thought there was already a jersey in the New England Patriots Pro Shop in Foxboro with "MCKELVIN'' stitched on the back.