DE, Ohio State
April 27, 2008
His workouts havebeen off the charts. He runs a 4.65 40, and his bench press of 37 reps tiedJake Long's mark for the best at the combine. Bill Parcells has been very quietabout this super pass rusher, which is his trademark when he really likes aplayer.
The Rams wouldhave been happy with either of the Longs, Jake or Chris, but fortifying theoffensive line is a greater need with veteran tackle Orlando Pace nearing theend of his career. Jake will apprentice at right tackle, with an eventual shiftto the left.
QB, Boston College
The Falcons'scouts love Glenn Dorsey, the disruptive defensive tackle from LSU; thecoaching staff would like to start the new regime with a hot young quarterbackin place. Here's a debate that will rage in the Atlanta front office right upto draft day.
Al Davis revertsto his roots and goes for the player most capable of providing the quickstrike. McFadden's 4.33 speed qualifies him, but he's got baggage and afumbling problem—23 over three college seasons, most in the nation.
T, Boise State
Offensive linehelp is a necessity for K.C.'s ravaged unit. Clady is a complete tackle and thebest on the board after Jake Long is taken. But a potential trade of sackleader Jared Allen brings the D-line's needs to the forefront. Nobody said itwas easy.
New York Jets
The Jets' runningattack was a middling 19th in the league last year, so McFadden has been anoption for weeks. If he's gone, the choice will be easy: Take the guy who'llgive you a dozen years of high-motor, high-production football.
They're a base3--4 defensive team, but Bill Belichick likes to throw in a lot of 4--3 onpressure downs. And with the dynamic, disruptive Dorsey lining up next toAll-Pro Richard Seymour, the Pats will have enough pressure to make livesmiserable.
Do you fortify analready powerful defense with the most gifted, nifty-footed linebacker on theboard, or try to trade up for Matt Ryan—or hope the BC quarterback falls to youat No. 8? If Dorsey is still there, he'd be too good to pass up as well.
Cincy hasn't seenthis kind of player on its interior defensive line since the days of TimKrumrie. Speed is Ellis's best attribute; he has a great burst off the ball.He'll make everyone better on what was a disappointing unit last year.
CB, South Florida
Could use KeithRivers, but he'll likely be gone. The top corner is available if the Saintswant him. The decision will be between the explosive Jenkins and Troy's kineticLeodis McKelvin, who coach Sean Payton says represents the safer choice.
WR, Michigan State
Surprising thatthe best wideout is still left, but it's a great fit for the Bills, who needsomeone to complement Lee Evans on the other flank. The defensive coaches couldwin the argument, though, and then the pick will be a cornerback.
Mike Shanahancollects running backs, and this rugged, 225-pound north-south slasher fits thecoach's preference for quick, decisive thrusts. Oregon's Jonathan Stewart wouldalso have been a good fit for the Broncos if not for his recent toesurgery.
The Panthers arelooking for an active pass rusher to take Mike Rucker's spot on the right sideof the line. Harvey, a 6'5" 270-pounder with 4.85 speed, would be a nicebookend to Julius Peppers. He had 8 1/2 sacks and 17 tackles for losses as ajunior last year.
Dynamic runblocker, a reincarnation of ... that's right—Jimbo Covert, another tackle outof Pittsburgh and first-round pick by Chicago, who cleared the way for a lot ofthose Walter Payton yards. At 6'6" and 340, Otah's a bit bigger thanCovert.
At 6'7", 315,he slides over to tackle, with the power and athleticism to handle the move.(Albert started two games there last season.) Harvey's a possibility if theLions decide to go defense, Mendenhall if they're looking for a runner—ifeither is available.
CB, Tennessee State
Sensationalcombine workouts and a big-time Senior Bowl, but he was strangely unproductivein some games for the 5--6 Tigers. Explanation? "He was probablybored," says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt.
A natural covercorner who rated highest at the position on a lot of boards. Brad Childress isan offensive coach, but he must shore up a defense that finished last in theNFL against the pass. And don't forget: McKelvin also gives him a fine returnman.
Houston'squarterbacks are perennially under pressure, and the Texans are finallyaddressing the problem at the ground level. Williams is the consensus No. 4tackle in the draft, a tall, smooth, athletic type with fine pass-blockinginstincts.
He's higher onPhiladelphia's board than on other teams'. A size-and-speed guy (6'1", 202and 4.44 in the 40), he plays with a kind of arrogance that makes him liked ordisliked by the scouts. There's no middle ground.
How much longercan Joey Galloway carry the receiving load for the Bucs? Hardy, with hisoutstanding size (6'5", 217) and athleticism, is a perfect complement. He'snot a burner, but that's no problem—the 36-year-old Galloway can still leave'em behind when he has to.
An unusual pickfor the Skins, who are generally attracted by the flashy athlete. Merling is anunspectacular, fundamentally sound wingman who isn't highly rated as a passrusher but will give new coach Jim Zorn an honest day's work.
Every draftnikwith a pencil is predicting Jerry Jones will turn to his alma mater, though an8.7 yards per carry leads me to believe this guy could be long gone. Dallascould also package its two picks to move up for McFadden, or take Oregon'sJonathan Stewart.
T, Boston College
O.K., it's a namethat belongs on the back of a Pittsburgh uniform. But more than that, the6'7", 315-pound Cherilus is the kind of pick the Steelers love to make—atough, hardworking, drive-blocking offensive lineman. I love this kind of picktoo.
Stewart, theOregon running back, will get a long look. "Eddie George came back from thesame toe injury [Stewart had]," Jeff Fisher says. But in the end the Titanswill go with the safer pick, the 6'4", 219 Sweed, a serious target on theshort fade to the end zone.
The Seahawkscould go a lot of different ways with their pick, including tight end, butthere's just something about the history of safeties from the U. Phillips hassolid measurables (6'1 1/2", 213; 4.43 in the 40) and good coverageskills.
DT, North Carolina
If there's onedefensive tackle left on the board, Jack Del Rio's going to grab him. Balmer'sa hard worker, but can he fill in for Marcus Stroud, who was traded in March tothe Bills in a cap move? Possibly, but not for a year or two.
If not for Marchturf-toe surgery, he'd be long gone by now. It's a gamble, but Norv Turner canafford to wait because Stewart will be used in the Michael Turner role, as abackup for LT. If Stewart regains his form, the Chargers have pulled off thesteal of the draft.
CB, Virginia Tech
And that shouldempty the cornerback storehouse. Extreme toughness is Flowers's trademark,which offsets a less-than-dynamic 40 time (4.55). But guaranteed, he'll makehis presence felt on the field, either in the base defense or in thenickel.
Mike Nolan thinksthere's quality and depth at wideout even this late in the round, and theshockingly fast (4.29) Jackson could be his home run guy. The only knockagainst him is his size (5'11", 178), which might limit Jackson to duty asa combined wideout-returner.
Here's a big guy(6'4", 219) whose unimpressive 40 time of 4.54 will cause him to drop deepinto the first round. But Kelly could be a valuable possession receiver, andwhat better gift for new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers?
I was all set tohand them Dan Connor, the Penn State LB, but Jeremy Shockey began to make noiseabout wanting a trade. I think the Giants have had it with him and are readyfor a speed-and-agility guy, though Keller might have trouble blocking NFL'backers.
OPEN THE SI VAULT
THROUGH THE YEARS
Check out classic SI stories from past NFL drafts,including cover pieces on Terry Bradshaw (above) in 1970, Jim Plunkett in 1971,Tony Mandarich in 1989 and Vince Young in 2006.
Keep an eye on these potential post--Round 1steals
CHRIS JOHNSON, RB, East Carolina
Ran a 4.24 in the 40 at the combine. Are you kiddingme? Secretariat timed out slower than that. Led the nation in all-purpose yards(227.7 per game) and set an NCAA bowl record with 408 in the Hawaii Bowl.
TREVOR LAWS, DT, Notre Dame
George Connor, Ziggy Czarobski, FrankVarrichione—great run-stopping Fighting Irish tackles of the past. O.K., soLaws is not a speed rusher, but just try to run on him.
DEXTER JACKSON, WR, Appalachian State
A little guy who flies. Averaged 30.7 yards on threereceptions in the shocking upset of Michigan. Season's average was a dazzling22.9 per catch.
JOHN SULLIVAN, C, Notre Dame
What, another Golden Domer? Why not? He was anotheranonymous lineman on a bad team until the Senior Bowl, which he turned into apersonal showcase.
TASHARD CHOICE, RB, Georgia Tech
Workhorse-type, a plugger, the scouts said. Then the6'1" 211-pounder dazzled NFL observers at the Senior Bowl, showing greatacceleration and burst.
ARMAN SHIELDS, WR, Richmond
Tall, rangy receiver who wowed 'em at the combine,with a 4.37 40, a 37 1/2-inch vertical leap and a 10'8" broad jump. Sentthe scouts back to their notebooks.
BRANDON KEITH, T, Northern Iowa
A fast-stepping 349-pounder who they say has the speedof a 320-pounder. Agile enough for Dancing with the Stars, but Jason Taylorbeat him to it.