Keep in mind this is super early. No one's had a star-making turn in a bowl game or blown anyone away at the combine yet.
Undoubtedly there'll be many of you who think I'm a looney...but that's cool. I probably am way off base on many of these picks. These are just some preliminary thoughts
- Miami Dolphins—Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU.
Lots of needs everywhere for this team (there’s the understatement of the year) but defense is first and foremost. Miami has a young offensive unit that can come along and learn next year. But the defense is awful—they give up nearly 28 points a game. This is where Dorsey fits in. You know why the Steelers defense is so good? Casey Hampton is a big badass who clogs the middle and lets the linebackers free to fly all over the place. Same goes for the legendary Ravens defense of 2000. It all started with Siragusa. Dorsey can provide that dominating presence in the center that will let Joey Porter rush the passer like he was brought in to do, not hang back to try and stop the runs a sadly decrepit D-line lets through.
- New England Patriots—Keith Rivers, LB, USC
I may be the only person on earth who doesn’t have the Patriots (an undefeated team picking second in the draft...thanks, 49ers) taking Darren McFadden here. I may change my mind in the future...indeed, how does a team pass up a talent like McFadden if they have a shot at him? Still, he’d be wasted on the pass happy Pats and I suspect they know it. What’s starting to hurt them, however, is their vulnerability over the middle. The softness comes mainly from their aging linebacking corps. Vrabel is still a beast, but he’s starting to age. Bruschi and especially Seau are about done. As the proprietor of Mocking the Draft has said, Rivers is a Seau clone with blinding speed and a fierce intensity. Put him back there with a healthy Colvin and a guy like Vrabel to learn from and he’ll have a legitimate shot at being Defensive Rookie of the Year next season. I could also see them trading out of this spot too. New England does clever and unpredictable things on draft day. Should be an interesting pick.
- New York Jets—Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Yeah, I know they went out and gave Thomas Jones a lot of money. Fat lot of good it’s done them. McFadden falling to #3 is a gift and the Jets are going to take it. Not much else to say...this one is a no-brainer.
- St. Louis Rams—Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Another outright gift of a guy who could be a legitimate #1 pick falling because of need and circumstance. Jake Long will be the new Orlando Pace in St. Louis. Few higher compliments can be paid an OT. He’ll live up to the billing. Bet the farm on it.
- Atlanta Falcons—Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Last week I would have told you Bobby Petrino was going to bring in his young prodigy Brohm he worked so well with in Louisville to turn the Falcons around. Funny how life works out like that. Petrino screwed the Falcons so badly, they wouldn’t take Brohm out of sheer spite. But they shouldn’t anyway...Ryan is the best QB in this draft class and it’s the Falcons biggest need. Put two and two together and in his case you get 5. The pick number. Get it? Ahem.
- Oakland Raiders—Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Full disclosure: Cut me and I bleed silver and black. Thus it’s probably naïve fanboy optimism that has me putting the Raiders outside the top 5. But I’ll hope for the best and put them at #6 for now. Everyone knows the Raiders’ greatest needs—someone to help stop the run. When you give up 150 yards to a third stringer running behind an aging O-Line (Hello Kolby Smith and Kansas City!) you have severe problems in the center. With Dorsey gone, Ellis is the best choice. He can be a solid anchor for 10 or 12 years. Warren Sapp is probably done after next year, but what a mentor for Ellis! There’s an outside chance the Raiders take Malcolm Kelly here, but I’m certainly hoping Al Davis’ eyes are open to the sheer godawfulness of his defensive line.
- Kansas City Chiefs—Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Another guy who could be a top 3 pick falls from circumstance. Certainly the Chiefs have many needs, especially on the O-Line. But this is a really good offensive line class coming out and there should still be some great picks left early in the second round for the Chiefs to snag. Pair Chris Long with Jared Allen though and my god do you have a dual threat. Also, Allen may be gone this offseason and you’ll need a beastly pass rusher to replace him. Either way, that points to Chris Long.
Prediction: If the Chiefs decide their greatest need is on the O-Line, look for them to try and trade to up to #2 and take Jake Long.
- Baltimore Ravens--Andre Woodson, Kentucky
The sun is setting on Steve McNair and Kyle Boller is, well....Kyle Boller. Woodson seems like he'd be a better fit in Baltimore than Brohm.. He's great at inspiring and leading and his game management is superb. Plus, he's simply a better quarterback than Brian Brohm.
- Cincinnati Bengals--Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Who would have thought a Marvin Lewis coached team would put together a good, solid offensive unit and such a lackluster defensive group? Cincinnati's defense lacks purpose, direction, identity....everything, really. They seem just aimless. This unit is going to take a while to rebuild, and Gholston is as solid and steady a keystone as you'll find.
- Carolina Panthers--Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
Poor Chicago Bears. They're just going to miss out on the three best QBs in the draft, which potentially means another year of Rex. But Carolina needs Brohm even more than Chicago. Testaverde is a grandfather, Matt Moore is not the guy and Delhomme is getting older and injury prone. They need a future, and that future points to Brohm.
- Chicago Bears--Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Well, if another year of Rex it must be, then they're going to have to support him with a run game. Cedric Benson's last chance was this year and he was decidedly underwhelming before going down with an injury. All signs point to him being done in Chicago. That means Chicago needs a back and that means Mendenhall.
- Philadelphia Eagles--Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
With McNabb about to be shown the door in Philadelphia and the Kevin Kolb Era set to begin, he's going to need someone to throw to. The Eagles' options at wideout are decidedly vanilla. They're going to need a playmaker for Kolb to throw to and Malcolm Kelly defines the term.
- Washington Redskins--Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
Pretty simple here--the Redskins are aging up front on defense and Campbell is just the young monster they need.
- Detroit Lions--Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
The Lions' self-destruction has been painful to watch. Jon Kitna is a decent quarterback, but not the guy to singlehandedly win the game. Why has he needed to do so? No running game. Why? Well, Kevin Jones is a decent back....but he's got no one to block for him. Otah can take care of that problem.
- Denver Broncos--James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
Denver is going to need a lot of rebuilding and it needs to start on defense. Laurinaitis can anchor that defense for years to come.
- Houston Texans--Johnathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Ahman Green was a good idea, but turned out to be made of glass. Ron Dayne....good to spell your top guy for a play or two, but not the one you want carrying your team. Joe Echemandu isn't good enough to carry a team. They need a franchise runner and Stewart can be that.
- Arizona Cardinals--Dan Connor, LB, Penn State
Edgerrin is getting old, but I don't know if you can justify taking any of the other running backs in this draft quite this high. However, a boost in the linebacking corps in Arizona would help shore up a mediocre defense and Connor is decidedly one of the better options available at this point.
- New Orleans Saints--Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
Well, the Saints have all kinds of troubles on defense, but that secondary is just embarrassing. Antoine Cason can come in and make an immediate impact next year.
- Buffalo Bills--Martin Rucker, TE, Missouri
He's the best tight end in the draft and would be an awesome weapon for Trent Edwards and a great extra blocker for Marshawn Lynch. With Rucker on the offense and if that defense can stay healthy next year, look for Buffalo to make some serious noise in the playoffs.
- Tennessee Titans--Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
The Titans really screwed the pooch last year by not getting Vince Young any real new weapons on offense. The fact that they'll just miss the playoffs this year shows it. They'll remedy that this time by taking Sweed, the best receiver on the board with Kelly gone.
- Minnesota Vikings--Early Doucet, WR, LSU
Well it looks like Tarvaris Jackson finally woke up and joined the NFL. He needs someone other than Sidney Rice to throw to, though. Say hello to Early Doucet, Twin Cities!
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers--DeSean Jackson, WR, California
I debated whether or not to put this in here, given Jackson's uncertain intentions so far. If Jackson doesn't declare, you can safely slot Mario Manningham in here. Either way, the Bucs need a downfield threat and Jackson fits that fill perfectly. He's the kind of player Jon Gruden will fall in love with if he has a good combine. Consider Malcolm Jenkins or Aqib Talib a possibility too. Ronde Barber ain't no spring chicken.
- Dallas Cowboys--Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Thanks to Cleveland and their (as it happened) unnecessary trading up to draft Brady Quinn, the Cowboys--a team with very few holes--get two first rounders. Getting a player of Jenkins' caliber here is an absolute steal and would help shore up the weakest part of Big D's "D".
- New York Giants--Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn
Osi Umenyiora is a beast, but Michael Strahan is about done. Fortunately, the Giants can draft a guy in Groves who has the potential to develop into another Strahan. In any case, Umenyiora and Groves coming off the ends will be a lethal combo for opposing offensive linemen.
- Pittsburgh Steelers--Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
I love to watch this guy play and watching the Steelers' secondary getting torched by New England and Jacksonville on consecutive weeks shows the sore need for his presence. Talib can develop into a true shutdown corner.
- San Diego Chargers--Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
Chargers could use a bigtime safety to complement Antonio Cromartie. Phillips fits that bill nicely.
- Seattle Seahawks--Frank Okam, DT, Texas
Put this 6'5, 320 pound monster on the line with Patrick Kerney, Rocky Bernard and Darryl Tapp and stand back in awe at the sheer terror of Seattle's front four.
- Jacksonville Jaguars--Vince Hall, LB, Virginia Tech
The Jags are a great team, but they have a somewhat lackluster linebacking corps. Hall can fix that in a hurry. He has great north/south and east/west movement, he tackles like a maniac and he's super aggressive and nasty. In other words, a perfect fit for Jack Del Rio's defense.
- Green Bay Packers--Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Most people will say this is too high, but I just love this kid's ability. I think he's only started to develop. Green Bay will do like they did with Justin Harrell last year--take a guy who's already pretty damn good, but has oodles of untapped potential and bring him along to grow up in their system. He'll be a force in this league someday sooner rather than later.
- San Francisco 49ers--Sam Baker, OT, USC
So it's safe to say the 49ers offense sucks yes? Yes it does. It all starts with protection and Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer have had none. Frank Gore is awesome, but he can't run if the holes aren't there. This all points to the best O-Lineman available and that means Sam Baker will leave his heart in San Francisco.
- Dallas Cowboys--Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Total cop-out here as I simply couldn't decide who or what the Cowboys will use this pick on, so I decided to copy Matt Miller's. Sue me. (actually, please don't)
- New England Patriots--Forfeited
The less said about this, the better.