Here is the first of two parts coming your way today. Picks 1 – 20 of our second-annual mock draft are in the books with the final eleven selections still up in the air.
To make up for my very poor math skills, all eleven of the remaining picks will be posted sometime today. We still are trying to finish up the bottom of the first round, so bear with us today as we try to get things finished.
The Washington Redskins are on the clock after the jump.
The Washington Redskins [Justin Vogt] select Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson.
The Redskins experienced a season that won’t soon be forgotten in 2008. Coming out of the gate 4-2, dropping to 5-7, then winning four straight including an emotional win over Dallas got them into the playoffs. Add to that the tragic loss of Superstar Sean Taylor and retirement of Joe Gibbs and Redskins’ fans were emotionally worn out at the end of 2007.
There is optimism with what can happen this year but also a lot of questions. With legendary coach Joe Gibbs no longer coaching the team, new coach Jim Zorn has a lot possibilities in the first round. There are plenty of needs: a true #1 threat WR, replacements in the secondary, help on the aging OL, and a DL that underperformed to say the least.
With a sharp drop-off in OL after what has already been taken the Skins won’t go there. They want a WR and Malcom Kelly could be amazing. With a former quarterback coach now at the helm the pick of Kelly will be tempting, but without dominating speed he may lack game-breaking ability. Looking at the secondary this draft is deep in talent at CB, leading the Redskins to wait a round before fixing that need.
That leaves the final major void in the Redskins team, the defensive line. The Redskins were okay, at best, against the run last year but horrible in rushing the passer. Help on the edge getting to the passer can make a good team, great. Seeing the NFL is a league of copycats, the Redskins see what the Giants used to win it all last year and will take a dominating defensive end. The options are DE Phillip Merling from Clemson or DE/LB Quentin Groves of Auburn. Merling is simply a physical marvel and will be too much to pass up.
The Dallas Cowboys [MWC Football] select Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas.
This is the first of two picks that the Dallas Cowboys have in round one. The 22nd pick comes from last year’s trade with Cleveland.
The Cowboys have two positions they will be looking at with these picks. One will be to look for some more secondary help which is an obvious weakness. The players they have can not cover or tackle well, even though they have made pro bowl appearances with Roy Williams and Terence Newman.
The other position is to look for a good complementary back for Marion Barber since Julius Jones left town to sign with Seattle.
Looking at the greater need and also the teams that pick after the Cowboys, the Dallas Cowboys will select Cornerback Aqib Talib from Kansas to help improve the secondary that was suspect all of last year. Talib should be able to step in right away and play significant minutes and possibly could see some starting time near the end of the season. Talib has failed three drug tests and this is why he will fall to this point in the draft, but Jerry Jones usually does not care about players’ off-the-field issues. Talib also looks to be the last player at CB to be considered first-round talent, and fills a big need for Dallas.
The Pittsburgh Steelers [NFL NewsBreak] select Kenny Phillips, S, Miami.
The Steelers have one of the best set of offensive skill players in the league. What they need is help with the offensive line but with so many offensive linemen gone already and there being depth in this year’s draft, I think the Steelers take a player maker on defense.
The Steelers got beat deep all year long and with Troy Polamalu playing up in the box they could use another strong hitting safety. Kenny Phillips is a rare defensive back; he has the speed and instinct to cover any receiver and the strength and power to deal with running backs and tight ends. He made many plays against top-ranked competition while at Miami.
At 6-2 and 210 pounds, Phillips has great size and will not need to work on anything from a physical standpoint to be a big contributor in the NFL. He is extremely aggressive and quick and will use those skills in pass coverage and covering the run.
In this day and age of big hitting safeties, Phillips certainly takes the cake, but he did have seven interceptions during his three year career in Miami and his coverage ability is often overlooked in favor of his big hits. Of all the defensive players on this draft, Phillips is the one that projects as a regular Pro Bowler. He is in the same class of the late Sean Taylor. A true difference maker on what is an already scary defense.
The Tennessee Titans [[The Microcosm] select Limas Sweed, WR, Texas.
The Titans realize, finally, that for Vince Young to succeed and thrive he will need a great wide receiver so that he can become versatile again. Limas Sweed of the Texas Longhorns will be the perfect match. Not only has he played with Vince before, but he’s tall, strong and smooth. He isn’t as fast as some of the other wideouts around, but as we have come to learn in the NFL, being the fastest rarely means being the best. It’s the package that matters. T.O. would agree. He is an excellent jumper, can catch in the rough stuff in the middle of the field and is totally a clutch player (like his game winning catch against Ohio State the year the Longhorns won the championship). Chemistry matters and this could be huge for both Sweed and the Titans.
The Seattle Seahawks [The Seahakws Blog] select Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon.
The Seahawks could go a few different ways with this pick. They have a massive need for depth on the offensive and defensive lines, and a receiving TE that will be so vital to their west coast offense. However, all the linemen with first round grades have already been selected, and there is not a single TE in this draft with a definitive first round grade.
In the end, this scenario is a dream come true for every Seahawks’ fan who has been drooling over Jonathan Stewart for the last two years, myself included. Even with the signings of TJ Duckett and Julius Jones crowding the backfield, Stewart is simply too good of a talent to pass up. He is a bulldozer with 4.45 speed, a great receiver out of the backfield, and is even a local Washington product. It’s almost too perfect. With the Shaun Alexander era officially over, it’s time to start a new page in the history book.
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