**No early entries are taken into account for this mock and the 2008 NFL Draft order is used.**
1. Miami Dolphins: ILB Rey Maualuga, USC
Analysis: The Dolphins shored up needs at quarterback, offensive tackle and defensive end in the 2008 draft. The ‘09 class is deep on offensive tackles and linebackers. The athletic Maualuga will step in immediately as a versatile defender for the Dolphins. He has the speed to play outside in the 3-4 scheme, and the strength and vision to play inside next to Channing Crowder.
2. St. Louis Rams: OT Michael Oher, Ole Miss
Analysis: The Rams are planning for the eventual retirement of future Hall of Fame tackle Orlando Pace. Alex Barron has played well at right tackle, but does not look like a starter on the left side due to many mistakes and missed assignments. Oher is a huge prospect out of the SEC. He’s a physically dominating player who will greatly improve the Rams offensive line.
3. Atlanta Falcons: CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
Analysis: Atlanta must move to replace DeAngelo Hall with a shutdown cornerback. The team did add Chevis Jackson and Wilrey Fontenot in 2008, but neither is the caliber of Jenkins. He could also play safety, but the most likely position for him would be left cornerback.
4. Oakland Raiders: OG Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
Analysis: The Raiders continue to add to the offense, grabbing JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden in the past two lotteries. The team has lacked a consistent force up front since their Super Bowl run in 2002. Robinson is among the best offensive guard prospects to come out of college, ever.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Cullen Harper, Clemson
Analysis: Brodie Croyle will need a big season in 2008 to avoid competition in ‘09. Harper is an exciting player to watch. He doesn’t make mistakes, has a good arm and is mobile enough to make plays outside the pocket.
6. New York Jets: RB James Davis, Clemson
Analysis: The Jets are banking their 2008 season on Thomas Jones and Leon Washington being a productive duo. The team could look to add a quarterback early in 2009 (Curtis Painter?), but the most likely solution is adding a stud runner like James Davis to a team on the rise.
7. San Francisco 49ers: FS William Moore, Missouri
Analysis: The 49ers have needs everywhere. The hope is that the offensive line will be built with the moves made in the 2008 draft. Getting Moore, a true centerfielder and an Ed Reed clone, will shore up the pass defense.
8. Baltimore Ravens: ILB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
Analysis: The days of Ray Lewis patrolling the middle are nearing an end in Baltimore. Laurinaitis may not be the total package that Lewis has been, but he’s a good start. The talented Buckeye brings speed, tenacity and instincts to the middle.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: DT Fili Moala, USC
Analysis: The Bengals added to their defense in ‘08 by grabbing another Trojan in linebacker Keith Rivers. The team wanted Sedrick Ellis, but missed out. As a consolation prize they can select a player many scouts felt was the best lineman on the USC team in 2007.
10. New Orleans Saints: OLB Brian Cushing, USC
Analysis: Pairing the super-athletic Cushing with Jonathan Vilma will automatically give New Orleans one of the best linebacker tandems in the NFC. Cushing is built like a body-builder, but runs like a safety. He would be a steal with the 10th pick.
11. Buffalo Bills: DE Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
Analysis: The Bills would love to add a hard-crashing pass rusher to pressure Tom Brady twice a season. Johnson may fit best in a 3-4 defense, but could be adapted to play rush end in the Cover-2 employed in Buffalo. He could also move to outside linebacker should ‘08 pick Chris Ellis lock down one defensive end spot.
12. Denver Broncos: CB Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
Analysis: Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly continue to age as Denver fails to add depth behind them. Harris is a physical corner with good instincts and speed. He flirted with the idea of declaring in 2008, but decided to return for one more season in Blacksburg.
13. Carolina Panthers: DE Tyson Jackson, LSU
Analysis: Julius Peppers had his worst season as a professional in 2007, prompting many to worry about his future. The team also lost Mike Rucker to retirement. Jackson is an accomplished end who is ready to start in the NFL today.
14. Chicago Bears: QB Curtis Painter, Purdue
Analysis: The Rex Grossman era should officially be over now in Chicago, finally. Painter gives Chicago fans a ray of hope. He has the strong arm needed to succeed in the Windy City and the poise and moxie to carry a franchise.
15. Detroit Lions: OG Jeremy Perry, Oregon State
Analysis: The Lions have begun building a team around a powerful running game and a stingy defense. Perry is among the twenty best players in college football right now and is a steal at 15. The Lions will love his road grating style and toughness.
16. Arizona Cardinals: RB Arian Foster, Tennessee
Analysis: Edgerrin James is on his last legs, with little depth waiting in the wings. The team had hopes of adding a back in the ‘08 draft, but missed out. The Cardinals must add a powerful runner to complete their change to a Steelers-style offense.
17. Minnesota Vikings: TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin
Analysis: The Vikings, under Brad Childress, would love to include the tight end more, but the team has not had the talent at the position to do so. Beckum is a versatile tight end who can run routes like a receiver and catches the ball extremely well. He should not be expected to do much as a blocker.
18. Houston Texans: WR Demetrius Byrd, LSU
Analysis: The Texans have one Pro Bowler in Andre Johnson, but even he is struggling with knee injuries. The team loves the potential of Jacoby Jones as well. Byrd is the best receiver who no one knows about, yet.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: OT/C Max Unger, Oregon
Analysis: Unger started his career at left tackle and then moved to center as a junior. There are some questions about his technique, but we’ve heard he’s having an amazing spring and could be the most dominant lineman in the Pac-10 this year.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: FS Nic Harris, Oklahoma
Analysis: Adding Aqib Talib in ‘08 will help a secondary that was getting long in the tooth. Harris is a free-ranging playmaker designed for the Tampa-2 defense. He’ll make plays and support the run with ease.
21. Washington Redskins: OT Alex Boone, Ohio State
Analysis: Washington must look to the future with this pick. Jon Jansen is nearing the end of a brilliant career. Boone could step in opposite Chris Samuels at right tackle and give Washington a duo of bookend tackles.
22. Cleveland Browns: RB Marlon Lucky, Nebraska
Analysis: How many carries does Jamal Lewis have left? The Browns should look to compliment the talented Lewis with a young back. Lucky is a talented runner, receiver and blocker. He could easily transition to a starting role.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma
Analysis: The offensive line could be better than most expect in 2008, but the team must deal with age on the front five. Loadholt will likely shoot up the boards this year, as he is too good to keep out of the top 10.
24. Tennessee Titans: CB Mike Mickens, Cincinnati
Analysis: The Titans will be looking to replace Pacman Jones now that he is in Dallas. Mickens will be a hot name as we get closer to the draft. He’s a lockdown corner with the size to match up against bigger receivers.
25. Seattle Seahawks: WR Brian Robiskie, Ohio State
Analysis: Seattle likes their duo of Deion Branch and Bobby Engram, but both are aging quickly. Robiskie will bring a disciplined work ethic and route running to the Northwest. He could fill a slot role as the team moves him into a starting role.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Terrance Taylor, Michigan
Analysis: The Jaguars may miss Marcus Stroud, even with Rob Meier capable of filling in for him. The team is looking for depth at tackle after adding two new defensive ends in the 2008 draft. Taylor is a wide-body who would fill in nicely as a nose tackle.
27. San Diego Chargers: ILB Darry Beckwith, LSU
Analysis: The Chargers hope to improve in 2008 and finally make a Super Bowl run. To do so, they will need more consistency from their inside linebackers. Beckwith would be a dream pick for the team next year. He’s a very good athlete and relentless in pursuit.
28. Dallas Cowboys: OG Herman Johnson, LSU
Analysis: The Cowboys have few legitimate needs as we get close to training camp. Adding depth on the offensive line, and possibly a starter depending on how the season goes, is a safe and solid pick. Johnson is a huge guard with potential to man up against the bigger defensive tackles in the NFL.
29. Indianapolis Colts: TE Chase Coffman, Missouri
Analysis: Another threat for Peyton Manning. Coffman can line up on or off the line of scrimmage. He’s a very good route runner with great height and speed. This pick would be terrifying for the Colts’ AFC South opponents.
30. Green Bay Packers: CB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
Analysis: The Packers have two very good starting corners, but the pair is aging. Patrick Lee, the 60th pick in the ‘08 draft, has the potential to be a starter, but adding the talented Smith opposite him solidifies the future at cornerback.
31. New England Patriots: SS Patrick Chung, Oregon
Analysis: The Patriots will be aiming to replace Rodney Harrison after the 2008 season. The aging star will leave a gap in run defense and for his underrated ability in coverage. Chung is a dual threat, able to step in and fill the hole left by Harrison.
32. New York Giants: DT Jeff Owens, Georgia
Analysis: The Giants have few needs entering the 2008 season. The team will likely need to fill holes created with injuries and free agency. A position of some need is defensive tackle. Owens is a run stopper with the mobility to crash the pocket. He’d fit right in on the Giants’ active defensive line.