Bucky Brooks
Monday April 14th, 2008

Four questions to ponder as the NFL draft nears:

If Darren McFadden and Vernon Gholston are still on the board at No. 4, which one is the best fit for the Raiders?

Despite the Raiders' obvious need for a complementary pass rusher, the team would benefit more by drafting McFadden. The two-time SEC rushing leader is a dynamic playmaker with the speed and burst to score from anywhere on the field. He could team with Justin Fargas to strengthen the rushing attack and alleviate some of the pressure unproven QB JaMarcus Russell is sure to feel in the pocket.

Though some question McFadden's ability to handle the entire load, the fact that he carried the ball 609 times in the past two seasons in the SEC shouldn't be ignored. And even though Gholston had an impressive individual workout, expect the Raiders to ignore an obvious need and take the talented McFadden.

Should the Dolphins take Chris Long or Jake Long at No. 1?

Miami has plenty of holes to fill, but the addition of Virginia's Chris Long makes the most sense. As a high-motor, all-effort player, he fits the profile that Bill Parcells has established in remaking the franchise.

Long can play defensive end or outside linebacker, which would give defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni the flexibility to experiment with more four-man fronts in the Dolphins 3-4 game plan. Plus, Long's experience growing up in a football family (he's the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long) makes him the ideal candidate to deal with the expectations that come with being the No. 1-overall pick.

Who is the top quarterback prospect after Matt Ryan?

Though my colleague Peter King makes a strong case for Brian Brohm, I think Chad Henne is the best available prospect. The four-year starter at Michigan has all the physical tools to develop into a solid pro starter, but he has been downgraded by some scouts because of concerns about his accuracy and decision making.

Brohm, on the other hand, completed more than 65 percent of his passes with 30 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions as a senior, but he's regarded as a "system quarterback" with durability concerns.

Joe Flacco, who transferred to Delaware after spending two seasons at Pittsburgh, possesses exceptional size and arm strength, but scouts question his production against a lower level of competition and have concerns about his leadership skills (He wasn't a team captain during his two years at Delaware).

Henne's combination of starting experience (47 games), arm strength and leadership skills give him the clear nod over the other two prospects in my book.

• Can Rashard Mendenhall sneak into the top 10?

Yes. The talented runner from Illinois has steadily climbed up draft boards since the end of the season as scouts have tabbed him the most complete running back prospect in the draft. Mendenhall, who rushed for 1,648 yards as a junior, is one of the few running backs capable of being an every down player in a wide-open offense. He has good receiving skills and is stout enough to be a solid blocker in pass protection.

Although some scouts chide Mendenhall for inconsistently finishing his runs, his overall package of skills makes him a coveted prospect by teams hoping to incorporate their backs into a balanced offense. Don't be surprised if he comes off the board early, possibly to the Bengals at No. 9.

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