By Don Banks
April 25, 2008
Mock Draft 7.0 (cont.)
21 DE Phillip Merling Clemson Jr. 6-4 275
The Redskins' bid to trade for Chad Johnson indicates they could talk themselves into taking a big receiver like Hardy or Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly. But Merling is probably the best value. The Redskins are in dire need of a disruptive defensive end who can turn the corner in the pass rush.
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22 RB Felix Jones Arkansas Jr. 6-0 200
We're not budging off of Arkansas' Felix Jones, who almost everybody has as the Cowboys' first choice to replace Julius Jones in their Marion Barber-led backfield tandem. Even with Pacman Jones' acquisition, Dallas will likely be looking cornerback with their second first-round choice, at No. 28.
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23 OT Gosder Cherilus Boston College Sr. 6-6 315
The Steelers offensive line requires attention, and Cherilus is the only consensus first-round lineman remaining. The Steelers would love to have Virginia's Albert drop to them, but that's wishful thinking.
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24 WR Limas Sweed Texas Sr. 6-4 215
There are rumblings that the Titans could go running back with this pick if Felix Jones or Jonathan Stewart falls to them, but there aren't any first-round runners left on our board. So Sweed, who would be the third consecutive ex-Longhorn taken in the first round by the Titans (Vince Young, Michael Griffin), makes the most sense to us.
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25 DT Kentwan Balmer North Carolina Sr. 6-4 308
This seems to be around the slot Balmer is expected to go, and with the Seahawks having lost veteran tackles Chuck Darby and Ellis Wyms this offseason, Seattle has an obvious need. Balmer had an inconsistent collegiate career, but he's the consensus third-ranked DT behind Glenn Dorsey and Sedrick Ellis. Purdue tight end Dustin Keller is another strong first-round option for Seattle.
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26 DE Lawrence Jackson USC Sr. 6-4 261
Some have the Jaguars rolling the dice on Miami junior Calais Campbell, who wasn't all that impressive for the Hurricanes in 2007. But Jackson was a proven pass-rusher for the Trojans and while his upside may not be as high as Campbell's, his downside isn't as steep either.
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27 CB Brandon Flowers Virginia Tech Sr. 5-11 192
The Chargers are fortunate in that three potential first-round cornerbacks are still available: Flowers, Jenkins and Talib. Though Flowers isn't the fastest corner, his coverage skills are strong and he plays a physical-style. San Diego likes that he's a high-character guy as well.
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28 CB Mike Jenkins South Florida Sr. 6-0 200
The Cowboys had targeted Flowers for this pick, but the Chargers just ruined that plan. Despite trading for Pacman Jones, Dallas can use another cornerback and Jenkens' kickoff return skills are an added bonus. The Cowboys will shop for a receiver in later rounds.
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29 LB Dan Connor Penn State Jr. 6-2 233
The 49ers will look at receiving options with this pick, but they're not likely to have anyone rated higher overall than Connor, who could play at inside linebacker in their 3-4, right next to 2007 defensive rookie of the year Patrick Willis. James Hardy and Malcolm Kelly are the best available receivers.
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30 CB Aqib Talib Kansas Jr. 6-2 193
This is a lot later than I've had Talib going for most of the predraft season, but he ends the first round's five-cornerback run. Talib gives Green Bay a youthful option at a position where veterans Al Harris and Charles Woodson are starting to age. The Packers could go for an offensive tackle, with USC's Sam Baker making them younger at another position where they're starting to get old.
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31 Pick forfeited -- -- -- -- --
The Patriots lost this pick as their penalty for the Week 1 Spygate episode
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32 S Tyrell Johnson Arkansas State Sr. 6-0 207
With Mayo and Connor gone, the Giants can shift their focus to safety, where finding options to replace the departed Gibril Wilson is a Day One draft priority. Johnson has been making a late bid to crack the first round, and seemingly has vaulted over University of Miami's Kenny Phillips as the draft's top-rated safety.

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