We are mere hours away from the Ravens making their first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. For the past few months, everybody around the nation has given an opinion on who's coming to Baltimore – and every other team for that matter.
There are countless mock drafts out there (which BR.com rounded up in its Mock Draft Monitor series), so I decided to get in on the fun. After watching these players in games last year, speaking with them at the NFL Combine, analyzing many of the offseason moves in trades and free agency, and even speaking to some of my counterparts across the league, I've put together my first and only BR.com Mock Draft.
Keep in mind, the following picks are based on the assumption that there will be no trades in the first round, which we all know will happen on or before draft day.
*Note: This in no way reflects the opinion of the Ravens' personnel or coaching teams. I have never been in the Draft Room, nor laid my eyes on Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta's rankings on the Draft Board. This is just what I think could happen. *
*And you know what? With all the secrecy here around draft time, I think if I even walked down the hall towards the scouting offices, there is a strong possibility of a taser hitting my chest. Perhaps a trip wire. As nice as Ozzie is, it's a different story around draft week. (I'm just joking… mostly.) *
So, without further ado, here goes…
1. Miami Dolphins
Jake Long, OT, Michigan – This one was easy. But to go further, I agree with the pick. Think about it. Long is going to be a player that will anchor your line for the next 10-plus years, whereas you just don't know about some of the other picks. Considering the $30 million guaranteed Long gets now, how much would a player of lesser status get in free agency in two years? Looks like it could be a bargain.
2. St. Louis Rams
Chris Long, DE, Virginia – Some have Glenn Dorsey here, but I think it would be a mistake to move 2007 first-rounder Adam Carriker back to end after having him put on weight and basically become a nose guard last year. Long is a polished, can't-miss prospect that will give the Rams a serious pass rush. I think this comes down to the other Long or Vernon Gholston, and I'm going with Howie's son.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU – While this would be a prime spot to pick Matt Ryan and rebuild the Falcons franchise, Dorsey is too enticing. Besides, Atlanta has three (THREE!) second-round selections, which they could use to trade back into the first to take one from the Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco or Chad Henne trio. The best way to rebuild is through the lines.
4. Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas – Justin Fargas, LaMont Jordan, Dominique Rhodes and Michael Bush will cringe when they see the explosive McFadden sitting on the board, ripe for Al Davis' picking. Although Gholston would be a great fit in Rob Ryan's promising defense, has Davis ever *not *taken the biggest, fastest or strongest?
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State – With Jake Long off the board, the Chiefs will turn to the second-best tackle out there. Clady is an athlete with the long arms and quick feet that can handle rushers off the edge. He'll help solidify a line that needs to stop the rush if Brodie Croyle is ever going to develop.
6. New York Jets
Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State – Even though they signed Calvin Pace in the offseason, the Jets could use another pass rusher, especially a freakish athlete like Gholston. Getting McFadden here would be a coup, but Gholston can fit well in Eric Mangini's 3-4 base defense.
7. New England Patriots (from San Francisco)
Keith Rivers, LB, USC – Bill Belichick could really exploit the versatile abilities of Rivers, who tops most linebacking lists. If history repeats itself, the Patriots are likely to trade back to get more picks. If that happens, a cornerback such as Aqib Talib or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be a stellar replacement for Asante Samuel and Randall Gay.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College – I repeat: *I have no additional knowledge of who the Ravens are looking at. I have never been in the Draft Room, nor seen any part of the Draft Board. Nor am I taking trades into account with this mock. *That being said, John Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have said that they'd like to add another signal-caller in the draft, and if the guy many consider the best drops, why not grab him?
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC – Antwan Odom was signed to replace pass rusher Justin Smith, so to further strengthen Marvin Lewis' defense, Ellis makes perfect sense. Of course, this is a perfect storm pick. The Saints are said to have interest in a defensive tackle and could leapfrog some teams for Dorsey or this fireplug from USC.
10. New Orleans Saints
Leodis McKelvin, CB/KR, Troy – If they don't go after one of the defensive tackles, the Saints could continue their trend of bolstering the secondary after signing Jason David, Aaron Glenn and Randall Gay in the past two years. This also depends on how New Orleans has the four top corners stacked, but I'm thinking McKelvin's electrifying return abilities puts him over the edge.
11. Buffalo Bills
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State – Although Devin Thomas would be a perfect wideout opposite Lee Evans, DRC is too good to pass up here. He is one of the fastest risers in the draft, and many are calling him the best corner prospect. Look for the Bills to add a receiver in the second round.
12. Denver Broncos
Branden Albert, G, Virginia – Albert played guard in college, but many analysts are projecting for him to move to tackle. He has long arms and the explosiveness that translates well to the position. Denver is going to be hurting if they don't try to replace the retired Matt Lepsis, although they did draft Ryan Harris in the third round last year.
13. Carolina Panthers
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois – DeShaun Foster is gone, leaving the cat-quick DeAngelo Williams as the lone playmaker in the backfield. Mendenhall is a bruiser that can be a great complement to Williams, and with only one year starting at Illinois, he doesn't have the wear and tear on his body other backs at the top of the draft do.
14. Chicago Bears
Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh – It looks like the Bears are sticking with Cedric Benson and Rex Grossman, so they have to shore up the offensive line to take care of them. Otah only has five years of football experience, but possesses tremendous athleticism as a former basketball player.
15. Detroit Lions
Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida – The Lions are in severe need of a defensive upgrade, and that starts up front. Harvey can provide more pass-rushing muscle. In his last two years at Florida, Harvey was a terror, notching 15.5 sacks. Detroit's best pass rusher only logged 6.5 last season.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida –The Cardinals have to act on a guy that can help their floundering secondary. Jenkins has the speed and power to immediately contribute. Getting some running back help as Edgerrin James turns 30 would be nice, but there is depth at that position in later rounds.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (from Minnesota)
Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson – Merling has great size for a defensive end and could step right in to replace Jared Allen. The Chiefs absolutely must fortify the NFL's 28th-ranked run defense, while attempting to fill in for the loss of Allen's NFL-leading 15.5 sacks from a year ago.
18. Houston Texans
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt – The Texans added Chris Brown to join Ahman Green and Matt Shaub on offense, and now they need to address a position of need they've had for years. Williams is a prototypical left tackle that the Texans' would be happy to nab here. If not, they could go for cornerback depth.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State – Donovan McNabb needs more playmakers on offense, and in Thomas, he's got a game-breaker with great size. But, if Lito Sheppard ends up getting traded, this pick could turn into a cornerback because the Eagles will need to add depth in the secondary.
20. Tampa Bay Bucanneers
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas – Brian Kelly's loss means the Bucs need another corner, no matter how much they might want to grab a wideout. With Talib, they get a guy that can step in opposite Ronde Barber and even contribute on offense. As a receiver, he caught eight passes - four for touchdowns - last year.
21. Washington Redskins
Calais Campbell, DE, Miami – Campbell would be a massive infusion of talent for the Redskins to bookend with Andre Carter and improve their pass rush. He has rare size (6-foot-8, 290) and speed. Some say that UNC's Kentwan Balmer is rated ahead of Campbell, but Campbell's college coach, John Palermo, is now on new head coach Jim Zorn's staff. Expect some lobbying.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland)
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas – Dallas needs a corner to develop, even after trading for Pacman Jones, who still must be reinstated. But, Felix Jones is too good of a talent at this spot to pass up. Not to mention that Julius Jones is no longer with the team, and the former Razorback's shifty playmaking ability is a great complement to the powerful Marion Barber. On top of that, owner Jerry Jones is an Arkansas alum.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College – Without perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca, the Steelers need an infusion of talent on the line. Without Branden Albert around, Cherilus is a reliable prospect that is tough and physical - just how they play in Pittsburgh.
24. Tennessee Titans
DeSean Jackson, WR, California – The Titans desperately need a receiver for Vince Young, and even though he's slight, Jackson is a big downfield threat. Plus, he can add to the return game, which is a plus considering the loss of Pacman Jones.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina – Balmer can step in for departed tackle Chuck Darby and be a force on the defensive line. The former Tar Heel really blossomed during his final season in Chapel Hill, but that has caused some to question his work ethic. Still, he is very promising if Seattle's coaching staff can motivate him.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC – With Marcus Stroud's departure to the Bills, the Jags would be disappointed if they can't get Balmer here. But, Jackson is a solid consolation prize. The four-year starter at USC is a proven pass rusher, and with Jack Del Rio's added influence in the draft room, it's likely Jacksonville goes defense.
27. San Diego Chargers
Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia – Despite the big quarter of corners in the draft, some are saying that Flowers is the top cover man. The Chargers don't see many needs and have the luxury of going with the top player on their board. This hard-hitting Hokie could fill in for departed nickel Drayton Florence.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma – He's taken some heat lately for blasting Oklahoma and some of his former coaches for a lackluster Pro Day, but not many receivers have his combination of size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) and hands. Opposing secondaries would have fits facing Kelly and T.O. on the edges.
29. San Francisco (from Indianapolis)
Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee – The 49ers could really use help along the offensive line, but teaming the versatile Mayo with tackling machine Patrick Willis is a huge boost to their defense. Mayo can play both inside and outside, and did so in Knoxville. He and Willis would fight for the stops, as Mayo racked up 140 last year.
30. Green Bay Packers
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville – The Aaron Rodgers era has begun, so now it's time to find him a backup. Brohm would have been a top-five pick last year. Now, he could follow the Rodgers plan, sitting on the bench to learn for a few years. That is unless Rodgers falters. Then the Packers throw the reins to the former Cardinal.
31. New England Patriots (forfeited)
32. New York Giants
Kenny Phillips, S, Miami – This is somewhat of a no-brainer. After losing Gibril Wilson to free agency, Phillips is a great fit. He is next in a long line of great Miami safeties. The Giants could also go with a receiver or cornerback here, but the top safety in the draft is hard to pass up.