Friday April 25th, 2008

Mock Draft 7.0
This could be fun. Saturday's first round is starting to shape up as a wheeling, dealing kind of draft, with some mystery and the potential for movement in almost every slot from 2 through 31. I'll be surprised if there's not at least one top 10 trade, and it sounds as if there could be three or four deals done before the round is over.

Look for the No. 7 Patriots and No. 10 Saints to be on the move, and there's a good chance that both Kansas City (Nos. 5 and 17) and Atlanta (No. 3) will pull the trigger on trades that change their first-round situations. Players moving up significantly in my final mock include Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo and Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, all of whom I have cracking the top 10.

At long last, let the picking begin. (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com.)
 
1OTJake LongMichiganSr.6-7309
In a draft that may well be remembered for its lack of clarity at the top, the Dolphins get their franchise left tackle, making former offensive line coach Tony Sparano very happy. Turns out Bill Parcells didn't look at Vernon Gholston and see the next DeMarcus Ware as much as he looked at Jake Long and saw the next Jumbo Elliott.
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2DEChris LongVirginiaSr.6-3266
The deciding factor in favor of Long is that the Rams believe their pass rush will be better with Long outside and Adam Carriker inside at tackle, rather than Glenn Dorsey inside and Carriker outside. While the Rams may listen to trade offers from the Saints and others, no one's going to be willing to pay their price.
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3DTGlenn DorseyLSUSr.6-1310
Who knows, maybe the Falcons will settle their inter-organizational Dorsey vs. Matt Ryan debate with a last-minute quarter flip. That's how Atlanta earned the No. 3 slot anyway, beating out the Raiders by the toss of a coin at the scouting combine. In the end, taking Dorsey and trading back into the bottom of the first round for a quarterback like Brian Brohm or Chad Henne is the route they'll take.
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4RBDarren McFaddenArkansasJr.6-2212
Al Davis has always had a weakness for home-run threats, and that's the title McFadden carries. Even though their running back depth chart goes four deep, the Raiders can't resist. The thinking in Oakland is apparently to get first-time starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell someone to help carry the offensive burden.
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5DE/LBVernon GholstonOhio StateJr.6-4255
It wouldn't shock me if the Chiefs went for Ryan. But Herm Edwards is enamored with Gholston's impact potential and now that Jared Allen has been traded to the Vikings, Kansas City will take the pass-rusher and wait to select an offensive tackle with its No. 17 pick.
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6QBMatt RyanBoston CollegeSr.6-5221
With Chris Long, McFadden and Gholston all gone, who else could the Jets pick? Plus, they get the added bonus of ensuring that the No. 7 Patriots can't realize a bonanza by putting Ryan's slot up for auction. The Jets might try and get the No. 8 Ravens interested in trading up for Ryan, but our sense is Baltimore won't bite.
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7*DESedrick EllisUSCSr.6-0308
*PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE PATRIOTS* As we've said before, both the Bengals and Saints covet Ellis and the Patriots are more than willing to vacate this slot. New Orleans will offer New England more than Cincinnati does, and thereby land the draft's second-best defensive tackle. If the Saints wind up staying at No. 10, with Ellis going to No. 9 Cincinnati, they like South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins.
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8CBDominique Rodgers-CromartieTennessee StateSr.6-2181
The Ravens would have been thrilled with either McFadden or Ryan falling to them, but it's not Ozzie Newsome's MO to take a gamble on trading up with the No. 6 Jets to get the Boston College quarterback. The Ravens believe Cromartie could be special, and will even turn into a hitter once he's in the huddle with Ray Lewis. The Ravens will try and maneuver to get their quarterback (Chad Henne?) later in the first round.
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9RBJonathan StewartOregonJr.5-10235
The Bengals losing out on Ellis hurts them from a need standpoint, but we're predicting they'll react by taking the fast-rising Stewart in a top 10 surprise. Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey is a name to watch for in this spot, too, but we're giving the nod to Stewart, whose stock has fully recovered after it dropped in the wake of post-combine toe surgery.
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10*LBJerod MayoTennesseeJr.6-2230
*PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE SAINTS*While USC's Keith Rivers has been a popular match for the Patriots' first-round pick, we believe they're higher on Mayo. He has much more experience playing inside linebacker than Rivers, and he'd allow New England to shift Adalius Thomas back outside, where his playmaking impact has been greatest.
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