By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic Magazine
Back by popular demand is The Phanatic's mock draft. I've read through the scouting reports and poured over game tape to come up with this list. The football season never ends here at The Phanatic, especially coming off one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time. With that the first pick in the draft is...
1) Miami Dolphins – Chris Long – DE - Virginia
Bill Parcells is cleaning house so that the Dolphins will be able to transition to the 3-4, and Howie’s son is the first piece of the puzzle.
2) St. Louis Rams – Glenn Dorsey – DT – L.S.U.
He may be the best defensive lineman in the draft, and he’ll fit right in with a defense that gave up 115 yards on the ground per game and totaled just 31 sacks.
3) Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan – QB – Boston College
With Michael Vick in the slammer, the Falcons have to put the past year’s disasters behind them and start fresh with a new field general.
4) Oakland Raiders – Darren McFadden – RB - Arkansas
The Raiders are getting the best player in the draft…now let’s figure out how they’re going to screw this one up. McFadden and JaMarcus Russell will make a strong team for the future…but how many coaches will they have to go through to get there?
5) Kansas City Chiefs – Jake Long – OT – Michigan
The offensive line hasn’t been the same since the loss of Will Shields and Willie Roaf, but Long will open up holes for Larry Johnson and help a team that tied the 49ers for giving up the most sacks (55) in the league.
6) New York Jets – Vernon Gholston – DE – Ohio State
The Jets can’t even lose properly. A meaningless win in Week 16 against the Chiefs dropped the Jets from the third pick to the sixth, costing them McFadden. However, the Jets are in dire need of a pass rush and Gholston will bring speed to a D-line that collected just 29 sacks.
7) New England Patriots (via trade with S.F.) – Leodis McKelvin – CB - Troy
The impending loss of Asante Samuel is going to shake up the Pats secondary. They could go after Aqib Talib but McKelvin's got the speed to help on special teams as well.
8) Baltimore Ravens – Brian Brohm – QB – Louisville
The Steve McNair experiment is over and now the Ravens need some one that can help score points for this team. Brohm’s stock dropped after his junior season, but he’s got the size and is adept at recognizing defenses.
9) Cincinnati Bengals – Keith Rivers – OLB – USC
The Bengals defense was once again awful and unless they devote this draft to bettering that unit you will continue to hear Chad Johnson make noise about wanting to leave. They need help on the line, but most of their linebackers are about to become free agents.
10) New Orleans Saints – Sedrick Ellis – DT – USC
Ellis falls this far because this is a deep draft for the defensive line. He had 8½ sacks and 12½ tackles for a loss last season. The Saints have deeper needs in the secondary but they won’t be able to pass up a player like this.
11) Buffalo Bills – DeSean Jackson – WR - California
Now that the Bills appear to have their quarterback they need someone on the other side of the field from Lee Evans to provide versatility. Jackson will need to put on some weight but he’s durable.
12) Denver Broncos – Ryan Clady – OT – Boise State
The Broncos need to protect Jay Plummer if they want to keep him on the field, and Clady can be the protection that is needed. He weighs close to 320 pounds and will eventually fit in at the all important left tackle spot.
13) Carolina Panthers – Phillip Merling – DE – Clemson
Merling had a very good junior season with seven sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. He’s got the speed to play outside and should be able to help alleviate the pressure on Julius Peppers.
14) Chicago Bears – Rashard Mendenhall – RB – Illinois
It’s surprising that a team that is two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance needs so much help. They could go offensive line or quarterback but they’ll take Mendenhall from the Fightin’ Illini. Mendenhall gets the nod over Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart because he’s got excellent hands out of the backfield and can shed tacklers better.
15) Detroit Lions – Aqib Talib – CB – Kansas
The Lions desperately need a playmaker in the secondary and Talib could fit right in. He’s got the size that coaches love in a corner at six-foot and has got the athleticism, but will he be able to improve his speed at the Combine?
16) Arizona Cardinals – Mike Jenkins – CB – South Florida
Jenkins also has the size at six-foot but is not adept at stopping the run and doesn’t have the nose for the ball. He’s never topped more than three picks in a season while at South Florida.
17) Minnesota Vikings – Derrick Harvey – DE – Florida
Harvey is going to be the end that gets into the backfield and disrupts the running game from the outside, while the Williams boys (Kevin and Pat) keep backs from pounding the ball up the middle. Harvey also can get to the QB with good speed for a big man.
18) Houston Texans – Jonathan Stewart – RB – Oregon
Signing Ahman Green was a mistake and the Texans will look to add Stewart as a compliment to Ron Dayne. Stewart has excellent speed and will run away from defenders as long as he can shake off the first tackler. I don’t think he’ll be as good as his 2007 numbers with Oregon.
19) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – Malcom Kelly – WR – Oklahoma
The Eagles need a threat at wideout, and Kelly may be the best receiver in the draft and the one most likely to have an immediate impact in 2008. His 6-4, 220-pound frame make him a threat on the outside or in the middle of the field.
20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mario Manningham – WR – Michigan
Manningham has a lot of hype behind him for being a very good receiver against stiff Big Ten competition, but his size (six-foot, 178-pounds) is a big concern. He’s got a knack for getting in the end zone (12 TDs in 2007) and can stretch the field. The Bucs need an infusion of youth in their receiving corps, as Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard are their top two threats.
21) Washington Redskins – Calais Campbell – DE – Miami (Fla.)
Campbell took a step back at Miami in his junior season, but at 6-8 and just under 300 pounds Campbell has the attributes that could make him a star in the NFL. He’s going to need some great workouts to reclaim some of the luster that was lost after a season that saw him record only 50 tackles and six sacks. He could be the sleeper of the first round.
22) Dallas Cowboys (via trade with Cleveland) – Jeff Otah – OT - Pittsburgh
The Cowboys have a monstrous offensive line, but Flozell Adams is 32 and America’s Team has a trio of o-linemen that are on the verge of turning 30. Otah has only been playing football for five years, but already the scouting reports say that the 6-6, 340-pounder has good footwork and is still improving.
23) Pittsburgh Steelers – Branden Albert – OG – Virginia
The Steelers are going to have to rebuild their offensive line with the loss of Alan Faneca, who was practically begging for a trade before last season. Albert can play inside or outside on the line, but his speed leaves something to be desired.
24) Tennessee Titans – Limas Sweed – WR – Texas
Vince Young is familiar with Sweed from their playing days at Texas. He’s got the size to be an excellent receiver (6-4, 212-pounds), but he needs to prove that he’s healed from a wrist injury that ended his senior season.
25) Seattle Seahawks – Felix Jones – RB – Arkansas
Jones was a very good complimentary back to McFadden at Arkansas and now he’ll be groomed to take over for Shaun Alexander as he is coming to the end of his career. Jones has decent hands out of the backfield, but can he truly be a top running back? He’s also great as a returner.
26) Jacksonville Jaguars – Kenny Phillips – S – Miami (Fla.)
He’s coming off a subpar season, but the Jags will look to team him up with last year’s first-round pick, Reggie Nelson, to form a dangerous tandem in the secondary. At 6-2, 210-pounds, Phillips has closeout speed and can put a wallop on unsuspecting receivers.
27) San Diego Chargers – Early Doucet – WR – L.S.U.
Doucet missed some time last year due to injury and that is why he won’t get taken until the end of the first round. The Chargers will take a chance on Doucet here. He’ll never have the necessary speed so he’ll have to become a better router-runner.
28) Dallas Cowboys – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – CB – Tennessee State
Cromartie is tall, fast and has the jumping ability to stop guys like Plaxico Burress. This will also open the door for the Cowboys to move Anthony Henry from corner to safety.
29) San Francisco (via trade with Indianapolis) – Kentwan Balmer – DT – North Carolina
Balmer had a great senior season and will help the 49ers get to the quarterback more. San Fran is on the verge of giving up on Alex Smith so offensive weapons would be a smart choice, but if the defense can’t keep them in games then Mike Nolan will be looking for a job next year. He is another D-lineman that can play inside or out, but he’ll need to put on size from his 295-pound frame.
30) Green Bay Packers – Chris Williams – OT – Vanderbilt
Williams is a good choice here because he can give the O-line some rest with his play at tackle or guard. The Packers will give him time to grow since he won’t be counted on to start right away. He’s durable and will someday be a very good left tackle.
31) New York Giants – Dan Connor – OLB – Penn State
Kawika Mitchell had an outstanding postseason and the Giants will need to bring him back, but Reggie Torbor will probably be gone, opening the door for Jerry Reese to draft Connor out of “Linebacker U”. He is a physical, aggressive, and can deliver a huge hit. He’s a good tackler and has sideline-to-sideline speed.