A new crop of fantasy players will enter the NFL this April via the NFL Draft, and many sites around the web already are throwing out mock drafts for the affair. I wanted to hold off until the Super Bowl ended, but I caught the mock draft fever.
The NFL Draft always is one of the most highly anticipated events for football fans after the conclusion of the Super Bowl. And do not lie to us, we know you do not highly or even moderately anticipate the Pro Bowl. Other than the start of the regular season, the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl and maybe the start of free agency (depends on the year), the draft is as exciting as it gets for NFL fans.
It might be a little to early for our complete first-round mock, but I think we can tackle the top 10 picks as of right now. Haze contributor Marc Budyach joined me for this mock, and he had the first pick:
1. Miami Dolphins: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
MB: If I were the coach (whoever that ends up becoming), I would trade down in order to pick up some extra players. But if that is not an option Dorsey is the best player available. The Miami defense is aging quickly and Dorsey in the middle would free up Jason Taylor and Joey Porter in pass rush situations. Highly-hyped Arkansas’ runningback Darren McFadden is not necessary with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams already in the backfield.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Long, OT, Michigan
MM: The potent Rams’ offensive attack was under heavy fire in 2007 and it is hard to keep the blitzes away with an injured, under-performing offensive line. All-World tackle Orlando Pace missed most of the season for the second time in as many years. The Rams need to bolster the O-line and the best way to do that these days is through the draft (see: Joe Thomas). If the Rams go with Long, he would be a starter from day one.
3. Atlanta Falcons: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
MB: Warrick Dunn is getting old and I am not sure Jerious Norwood is anything more than a third-down back with big time speed. As shown this season for Arkansas, McFadden can do it all: play runningback, quarterback and
occasionally wide receiver. He could be the new superstar to replace Michael Vick.
4. Oakland Raiders: Chris Long, DE, Virginia
MM: The Raiders defense took a step back in 2007 and may lose more talent via age (Warren Sapp) and free agency (Nnamdi Asomugha) this offseason. Enter Chris Long, a talented pass-rushing defensive end who can fit into any system and is ready to start in the NFL today. Long would be a step in the right direction for the Oakland defense.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
MB: Matt Ryan made an average Boston College team good in 2007. He led them to a No. 2 national ranking this year and a bowl win against Michigan State. Ryan has an NFL arm and a big heart. His greatest attribute is his leadership ability. Brodie Croyle likely is not the answer for the Chiefs, but Matt Ryan may be.
6. New York Jets: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
MM: Gholston would be a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in Eric Mangini’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Gholston is a freak-of-nature type athlete making the jump from college to the NFL as a junior. Although his draft stock shot up dramatically with a three-sack effort against Michigan in Ohio State’s 2007 regular season finale, he will need to play with more consistency in the pros.
7. New England Patriots: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
MB: Jenkins is considered to be the best cornerback in the draft. With Asante Samuel likely gone in free agency, Bill “Beli-cheat” needs to find a replacement. Jenkins also has the ability to move to safety which could help since Rodney Harrison is not getting any younger. This could be a reach by the Pats, but Jenkins is the best available player in the secondary which probably is New England’s weakest area.
8. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
MM: Surprised? I doubt it. I really think the Ravens will pass on Brohm or any other quarterback available here when the time comes, but that all depends on who becomes the coach. Troy Smith played well enough in his limited action this year to give him a look at quarterback this summer, which could be just enough motivation for the Ravens’ to bypass a quarterback with this pick.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
MB: When was the last time a Miami safety has come into the NFL and not become a star. Phillips has been said to possess the same abilities as Ed Reed. He is a ball-hawking safety that just knows how to play the position. This might be high for him right now, but after the combine and tryouts people will not be saying that about him. Look for Phillips to come to Cincinnati and push to start right away.
10. New Orleans Saints: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
MM: Assuming the Saints address the secondary in free agency (which I think they must), Sean Payton and Co. should continue to improve the defense starting with the big boys up front. Hollis Thomas and Brian Young are not getting any younger nor can they stay healthy, which makes Ellis a great fit here. Ellis, rated as the No. 2 defensive tackle coming into the draft behind LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, will infuse some much-needed youth and energy to the Saints’ defensive line.