April 24, 2008
NFL Beat Writers' Mock Draft (cont.)
11 WR Devin Thomas Michigan State Jr. 6-2 217
Mark Gaughan is the Bills beat writer for the Buffalo News. For more coverage of Buffalo's draft, click here.

The Bills' two biggest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback. The top cornerback (McKelvin) is gone. The top wideout is Thomas. Last season Buffalo ranked 30th on offense and 30th in passing yards. Their offense has been mostly painful to watch this entire decade. They have no one right now to start on the outside opposite Lee Evans. Thomas is a big threat who fills a glaring need.

FANNATION COMMENT: Mike Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the only picks that make sense here for Buffalo. They can focus on the Offensive side of the football rounds 2-4, where we have 4 picks. -- Goodell ... CB
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12 OT Chris Williams Vanderbilt Sr. 6-5 318
Mike Klis is the Broncos beat writer for the Denver Post. For more coverage of Denver's draft, click here.

B-o-o-o-r-r-i-n-g! Before making this pick, the Goodmans -- dad Jim and son Jeff, who are assuming right-hand command of the Broncos' draft following the ouster of GM Ted Sundquist -- put in calls to Detroit at No. 15, Houston at No. 18 and Dallas at No. 22 in hopes of trading down. The Broncos like Williams, but don't necessarily believe he's worthy of No. 12 money. Taking Williams was a tough call over Branden Albert, the left tackle/offensive guard from Virginia whose stock supposedly had risen in recent weeks. But reuniting Williams on the blindside of former college teammate Jay Cutler was irresistible. The Broncos also bypass coveted Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, bringing relief to Travis Henry and The Henry-ettes.

FANNATION COMMENT: The Broncos don't need to make a big splash unless they can legitimately move up and get Sedrick Ellis, otherwise staying put and picking williams or moving backwards is the right thing to do. -- eeseydo
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13 DE Derrick Harvey Florida Jr. 6-4 271
Stan Olson is the Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer. For more coverage of Carolina's draft, click here.

The Panthers are faced with an embarrassment of riches at this point. For all the talk that they will take an OT, my guess is they go for a rush end after offering a defensive front that had no one with more than 3.5 sacks last season. And the best DE available is Florida's Harvey, who seems good enough to step into the hole left with the retirement of Mike Rucker. Carolina needs someone to jumpstart a front four that has been fading in recent years, and the 6-4, 271-pound Harvey is the bet here. Don't rule out an RB at this spot, with Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall still available. DeAngelo Williams will need some help. If they were to pick an OL, they like Jeff Otah and Branden Albert.

FANNATION COMMENT: Having watched Harvey do damage throughout the SEC, he is exactly what the Panthers need on the defensive line. Maybe he will wake up Julius Peppers. -- John317
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14 OT/LB Jeff Otah Pittsburgh Sr. 6-6 339
Bob Legere is the Bears beat writer for the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald. For more coverage of Chicago's draft, click here.

Coach Lovie Smith was ridiculed much of last season for insisting the Bears get off the bus running the football, especially when they finished No. 32 in average gain per rush and No. 30 in rushing yards. They would like hometown favorite RB Rashard Mendenhall from Illinois, but they must improve an o-line that was poor last season and has since lost two starters (RT Fred Miller, who was released and LG Ruben Brown, who was not offered a contract). Albert might receive some consideration, but Otah is more of the smash-mouth type player they want for the running game, and he has great upside. They're confident he can start at RT right now and believe he can eventually handle the left tackle spot.

FANNATION COMMENT: The Bears need a tackle like Jeff Otah. He is big and mean and could start at right tackle immediately and hopefully move to left tackle later on in the season and move John Tait back to his original position at right. -- FatBearsSuperFan
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15 LB Jerod Mayo Tennessee Jr. 6-2 230
Mike O'Hara is the Lions beat writer for the Detroit News. For more coverage of Detroit's draft, click here.

You could hear hearts crack in the Lions' draft compound when the Panthers took Harvey. That's whom the Lions' targeted at No. 15. They want to look to defense, but consider other options. They've had nine first-round draft picks since 2000 and eight have been used on offense -- one quarterback, one running back, two tackles and four wide receivers. The exception was 2006, when Rod Marinelli took linebacker Ernie Sims in his first year as head coach. Sims is the only first-round pick starting on the Lions' defense. Marinelli wants fresh legs and more talent on defense. With Harvey off the board, the choices are a running back, trading down or staying put and going for defense. The Lions like Mayo. He can play inside or outside.

FANNATION COMMENT: Mayo is projected as an early 2nd round pick, but when you've got a guy you like, you don't gamble and the Lions are high on Mayo. Mayo and Sims make a great start to the new "Detroit Duece" (formerly the Tampa 2). They will use their 2nd round pick to fill the spot in the backfield. -- jrefenes
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16 RB Rashard Mendenhall Illinois Jr. 5-11 225
Scott Bordow covers the Cardinals for the East Valley Tribune. For more coverage of Arizona's draft, click here.

With the move of Antrel Rolle to free safety, Arizona needs a cornerback and will be tempted by Kansas' Aqib Talib and Tennessee State corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But the Cardinals desperately need some gamebreakers on offense. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are not protypical deep threats, and running back Edgerrin James can't turn a 6-yard gain into a 60-yard touchdown. Mendenhall would give the Cardinals a potential home-run hitter and possibly lead to the club trading James or releasing him before training camp.

FANNATION COMMENT: If Mike Jenkins is still on board Arizona has to take him. He is the best cure for a horrible secondary. -- note
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17 DE Phillip Merling Clemson Jr. 6-4 275
Adam Teicher is the Chiefs beat writer for the Kansas City Star. For more coverage on Kansas City's draft, click here.

The Chiefs gambled a quality defensive end would be available here and it paid off. Merling might not pick up right where Jared Allen left off, but it's a good start. Kansas City leaves the first round with two players -- Clady and Merling -- who should start from day one.

FANNATION COMMENT: I think the Chiefs should flip-flop and take a defensive end at No. 5 and then come back and draft an offensive lineman at No. 17. Makes more sense. -- ArrowHead11
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18 OT Branden Albert Virginia Jr. 6-7 317
Megan Manfull is the Texans beat writer for the Houston Chronicle. For more coverage of Houston's draft, click here.

The Texans have had problems at left tackle since they drafted Tony Boselli with the No. 1 overall pick in the expansion draft. They thought they drafted their "future" at left tackle two years ago when they selected Charles Spencer in the third round. He suffered a serious knee injury two starts into his career and is still trying to make a comeback. If Albert is available here, it would be hard for the Texans to look anywhere else. They are determined to finally solve their offensive line woes and each of those tackles fit well into the zone blocking system Alex Gibbs is implementing.

FANNATION COMMENT: The Texans shouldn't plan on Albert slipping to them. But if he does, great pick! -- Corpus B
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19 CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Tennessee State Sr. 6-2 181
Reuben Frank is the Eagles beat writer for Calkins Media and a contributor to SI.com. For more coverage of Philadelphia's draft, click here.

As desperate as the Eagles are for a wide receiver for the present and an offensive tackle for the future, it's just not their nature to reach at a position of need. The Eagles consider nickel corner a 12th starting position, and with the anticipated departure of Lito Sheppard, Rodgers-Cromartie provides speed and playmaking alongside veteran corners Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel. Rodgers-Cromartie also injects immediate hope into a lifeless return game that was among the NFL's worst in 2007. He gets the nod over Mike Jenkins on a character tiebreaker.

FANNATION COMMENT: The Eagles already have too many corners....so they draft another one? -- The Ram
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20 CB Mike Jenkins South Florida Sr. 6-0 200
Rick Stroud and Steve Holder are the Bucs beat writers for the St. Petersburg Times. For more coverage of Tampa Bay's draft, click here.

This will look like a homer move, but this isn't about taking the hometown kid. Jenkins' body of work at USF is what the Bucs want at cornerback -- a player who is equally proficient playing man-to-man or zone coverage. With Brian Kelly now in Detroit and Ronde Barber having recently turned 33, they could become very thin very quickly at cornerback. The Bucs are in dire need of help in the return game, which is something Jenkins offers. The Bucs need help at receiver, too, but there will be options available in the second round as well.

FANNATION COMMENT: Tampa Bay needs a wide receiver because Joey Galloway's age will eventually catch up to him. They also could go after a cornerback where they need some youth eventually. -- C Note
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