Now that Michigan's Jake Long is signed, sealed and delivered to the Dolphins, what's the domino effect to the rest of the NFL draft's top 10? Here's our up to the moment reading of the tea leaves:
2. St. Louis -- There's a fairly raging debate within the Rams office. There's a faction in favor of LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and a group in the corner of Virginia defensive end Chris Long. But we're giving Dorsey the nod, based on him likely carrying the higher draft grade, and that he would allow the Rams to move last year's first-round pick, Adam Carriker, back outside to defensive end from the tackle slot.
While the Rams still might listen to trade inquiries from teams interested in either Dorsey (the Saints) or Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, St. Louis will likely stay put and take the impact tackle who has been this draft's highest-rated defensive talent for some time. If you're wondering about Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston, the Rams are said to be unimpressed.
3. Atlanta -- With Dorsey off the board, the Falcons' debate over him and Ryan gets settled by default. Atlanta gets a franchise quarterback to build around, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank gets to sell the new hope that only a fresh-faced, rookie quarterback can bring. Strike up the band.
4. Oakland -- The Raiders remain a mystery of sorts, but we're now fairly sure (ha!) they're not taking Arkansas running back Darren McFadden or Virginia's Long. Too many running backs, and too much bad blood with Howie Long, Chris's father, are the short-hand reasons. That pushes us in the direction of Gholston, because the Raiders' top need is an impact pass rusher. Oakland likely will also try to solicit offers for the pick, believing that someone might try to move up for either McFadden or USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis.
5. Kansas City -- The Chiefs are said to be enamored with Gholston, but we've got him going just above them to Oakland. With Ryan gone too, that puts Kansas City back where it started in this pre-draft season, shopping for the best available offensive tackle. Told by some that I have over-estimated the climbing power of Virginia guard-tackle Branden Albert, I'll go back to Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady as the pick.
One confession: I have no idea how the Chiefs feel about Chris Long, but if they do trade franchise pass-rusher Jared Allen before the draft, Long would certainly seem to be a logical successor.
6. New York Jets -- There's still some belief that the Jets will either take McFadden or wait to see if anyone comes after their No. 6 pick with him in mind. There is some thought that New York might hesitate to take McFadden because of character concerns and the possible exacerbation of those issues by playing under the bright lights of the nation's largest media market. In that context, we're giving the Jets Chris Long, whose tumble from potential No. 1 ends at No. 6.
7. New England -- The Patriots will be motivated to deal out of their slot. Again, their likely trade partners will be anyone trying to get McFadden, or as previously detailed, the No. 9 Bengals and No. 10 Saints, who both would like a shot at Ellis. For the sake of this exercise, we have the Patriots sticking at No. 7 and taking Southern Cal linebacker Keith Rivers.
8. Baltimore -- I know two things about the Ravens thinking: They would have jumped at the chance to select Matt Ryan, and they by no means are hesitant to select McFadden and team him in their backfield with starting running back Willis McGahee. New Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is said to be intrigued with the possibilities of McFadden's talents. If the Ravens get tricky, they could try to swing a deal with the No. 10 Saints, who would like to jump ahead of the Bengals and land Ellis. Neither the Bengals or Saints are likely in the market for McFadden.
9. Cincinnati -- The Bengals might have to sweat it out, but getting Ellis in this slot, without having to give up anything to move up, will make Marvin Lewis very happy.
10. New Orleans -- If the Saints are denied any shot at Dorsey, Ellis or Rivers, their consolation prize will be to take their top-rated cornerback, a position of real need in New Orleans. That will be either Troy's Leodis McKelvin or South Florida's Mike Jenkins. We're going with Jenkins, by the slightest of margins.