Last early mock draft update

With April approaching and free agency slowing to a trickle, the NFL offseason is about to enter into its next lull period. That, of course, will end near the latter days of April when the NFL Draft coverage kicks into high gear.

We started these early mock drafts back in January and this now is the third edition. And the final edition. We want to give our readers enough time to digest this information but enough of a gap to prepare for The Hazean’s second-annual mock draft, which will being on April 7 behind closed doors. After all the picks are in the books, the first-round mock will be posted the week preceding the NFL Draft to get everyone geeked for the event. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, hit the jump to enjoy the first part of our last early mock draft with the top-10 picks. Hopefully we got it right this time.

1. Miami Dolphins: Chris Long, DE, Virginia

MM: If the Dolphins do not trade out of this pick, Long is the best player for the Bill Parcells’ regime. He is a versatile, hard-working defensive end with a tireless motor. He would fit well in a 3-4 defensive scheme, which the Dolphins figure to employ.

2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Long, OT, Michigan [previous: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC]

MM: The Rams may need more help on the offensive line than the defensive line. Long can be an immediate starter in the NFL and makes sense for the Rams.

3. Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

MM: Rumors are circulating that Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank is enamored with Ryan. In addition to his affinity, Blank also is looking for the next face-of-the-franchise player after losing Michael Vick last year.

4. Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

MM: First, I thought about putting McFadden at No. 6 to the Jets. Then he ran at the combine. The Raiders will not be able to ignore his speed and the potential that he could be the next great runningback. There are greater needs on the defensive line, but McFadden does fill a need on the offensive side of the ball.

5. Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State [previous: Jake Long, OT, Michigan]

MM: Clady is another guy who can start as a rookie in the NFL, especially on the Kansas City offensive line. While it may not pay off immediately, adding Clady to the line is a step in the right direction.

6. New York Jets: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State

MM: Gholston would be a good fit as a hybrid (defensive end/outside linebacker) in Eric Mangini’s 3-4 defensive scheme. He 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, Gholston will need to play with more consistency in the pros.

7. New England Patriots: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida [previous: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami]

MM: The Patriots lost Asante Samuel and Randall Gay in free agency, leaving Ellis Hobbs as the team’s top cornerback. Jenkins is regarded by many as the top cornerback in this draft and should be able to compete for a starting job opposite Hobbs.

8. Baltimore Ravens: Keith Rivers, LB, USC [previous: Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville]

MM: Why not a linebacker? The Ravens seem set on giving the reigns back to Steve McNair on offense and appear comfortable with Kyle Boller and Troy Smith as his back-up quarterbacks. That means the team could go for Rivers, the best outside linebacker in this draft, to join the likes of Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs. Talk about a fierce-some four-some.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

MM: Despite the concerns about Dorsey’s injuries, the Bengals would be delighted to grab the talented, tough defensive tackle here. The Bengals’ defense was atrocious on the field in 2007 and the team’s off-the-field transgressions have been well documented. As well as being one of the better talents in this draft, Dorsey is a high-quality character guy.

10. New Orleans Saints: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy [previous: Keith Rivers, LB, USC]

MM: The Saints bulked up at linebacker with the additions of Jonathan Vilma and Dan Morgan this offseason, which could signal disinterest in taking a linebacker in the first round of this year’s draft. Although New Orleans did add cornerback Randall Gay via free agency, need still exists in the defensive backfield.

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