Mock draft: Deals could shape opening round

With the draft just over a month away, it appears there could be quite a bit of movement in the first round.

A number of teams are looking for a limited amount of talent at a few key positions. With that in mind, I've decided to incorporate trades in my first mock draft.

Carucci's mock draft

Where does Pat Kirwan and Vic Carucci differ in their picks for the first round? Click here for
Carucci's complete mock draft ...

More mock drafts:
»'s 2008 mock draft
» Charles Davis' top-10 picks

An elite pass rusher like Ohio State's Vernon Gholston or an interior presence such as USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis could be good enough for a team to jump forward a few spots to acquire the player.

Considering there is no true franchise quarterback in a Peyton Manning mold, it might be difficult for the Dolphins to move out of the top spot. If there are going to be any deals, things should start to heat up after the top three selections.

As for the Dolphins, I might be pushing for a pre-draft contract with my selection because at least three of the top six players would also meet their pressing needs.

In this version, there will not be a center, fullback, or even a true guard taken in the first round. Depth at corner, offensive tackle and defensive end will make for a run at those positions.

Team Pick Analysis

1. Miami Dolphins

Chris Long
DE, Virginia
The Dolphins could select either Chris or Jake Long and not be wrong. I would make sure my selection was under contract before the draft. Chris Long would be my choice because of the versatility he possesses as a defensive end or linebacker and his production. In 37 starts at Virginia he had 22 sacks and 43 tackles for loss. Some believe Jake Long is headed to the right tackle spot in the mold of Jon Runyan, and that breaks the tie between the two players.

Team Pick Analysis

2. St. Louis Rams

Jake Long
OT, Michigan
Long helps build a better pass-protection unit right away, establishes a point of attack for the running game and will be in line to replace Orlando Pace when he hangs up the cleats. Long will play for a long time, and that makes him a good choice for new personnel chief Bill Devaney.

Team Pick Analysis

3. Atlanta Falcons

Glenn Dorsey
The Falcons will struggle with this selection considering the fact that Matt Ryan is still on the board. Owner Arthur Blank will see Ryan as the right guy to repair the team image, and he can play. Dorsey brings the three-technique tackle the team desperately needs. It's a quarterback-driven league and a favorable, late private workout for the Falcons could change this pick in Ryan's favor.

Team Pick Analysis

4. New York Jets
(Projected trade with Oakland)

Vernon Gholston
DE, Ohio State
The Jets have to figure the Patriots will try to move up for Gholston, so they have to do the same. They could also stay put at No. 6 and hope Darren McFadden falls or take the best corner on the board.

Team Pick Analysis

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Matt Ryan
QB, Boston College
The Chiefs would probably like to move down and take an offensive tackle like Ryan Clady or Jeff Otah. If they stay put and Ryan is still on the board, the Chiefs should take him. There's no way Kansas City can hand the team to Brodie Croyle without real competition. If the Falcons take Ryan than a short move down for the Chiefs is possible.

Team Pick Analysis

6. Oakland Raiders
(Projected trade with New York Jets)

Darren McFadden
RB, Arkansas
Oakland could have stayed at No. 4 and taken McFadden, but they need to slow down the spending, and an extra pick later on can help in other areas of need, like offensive tackle.

Team Pick Analysis

7. New Orleans Saints
(Projected trade with New England from San Francisco)

Sedrick Ellis
The Saints trade up and get the piece to their defense that has been missing since Jonathan Sullivan turned out to be a bust. New Orleans hired Ed Orgeron to coach the defensive line and he was a part of the USC staff that recruited Ellis.

Team Pick Analysis

8. Baltimore Ravens

Ryan Clady
OT, Boise State
The Ravens need a left tackle to replace Jonathan Ogden and a corner. In this draft, it's much harder to get the left tackle, so Baltimore grabs the best one on the board and looks for a corner in the second round.

Team Pick Analysis

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Derrick Harvey
DE, Florida
The Bengals really need one of the two elite defensive tackles, but waiting for either Dorsey or Ellis to fall to them is risky at best. The Bengals replaced Justin Smith in free agency with Antwan Odom and they like Robert Geathers. However, the one thing the Giants taught everyone in the Super Bowl was you never have enough pass rushers. Harvey only started 18 games but had 20½ sacks and 31 tackles for loss.

Team Pick Analysis

10. New England Patriots
(Projected trade with New Orleans)

Leodis McKelvin
CB, Troy
If the Patriots miss out on Chris Long and Vernon Gholston, moving down makes sense to select a corner or a tackle like Clady. The Ravens will take one of them but that would leave the Patriots with the other. While McKelvin is now at the top of most corner boards, there are other corners I like just as much. Don't be surprised if the Pats go down even lower and still get the guy they want. McKelvin had eight touchdowns on returns in college. Can you imagine New England's defense forcing punts with McKelvin back there?

Team Pick Analysis

11. Buffalo Bills

Malcolm Kelly
WR, Oklahoma
The Bills told me they need to get more weapons for young quarterback Trent Edwards. Buffalo could seriously look at a tight end like Fred Davis or any of the big wide receivers. Lee Evans stretches the field as well as anyone in the league, but the rest of Buffalo's receivers are really slot guys. Kelly is a high character prospect, which will appeal to Dick Jauron in a big way.

Team Pick Analysis

12. Denver Broncos

Dan Connor
LB, Penn State
Time to move D.J. Williams back to the outside and no one in this draft is more ready than Connor to take over the middle of a defense. Connor will have a similar impact to the Broncos that Lofa Tatupu had when he stepped on the field as a rookie for the Seahawks. Mike Shanahan will not reach for the third defensive tackle or the fourth defensive end at this point. He might like the big tackle from Pittsburgh, Jeff Otah.

Team Pick Analysis

13. Carolina Panthers

Jeff Otah
OT, Pittsburgh
The Panthers are not going to like the remaining defensive linemen. A safety like Kenny Phillips or a running back might be an option, but taking Otah means they can slide Travelle Wharton to guard and put Jordan Gross at left tackle to reestablish the offensive line.

Team Pick Analysis

14. Chicago Bears

Rashard Mendenhall
RB, Illinois
It might be time to admit running back is an issue, and Mendenhall has a high grade. The Lions would love to see him fall to them one pick later, so the Bears have a choice to play with him or see him twice a year in the NFC North. Not only did Mendenhall rush for 2,539 yards in just 14 starts for the Ilini, but he also caught 59 passes. Pete Carroll of USC told me he was the best back the Trojans faced last season.

Team Pick Analysis

15. Detroit Lions

Branden Albert
OL, Virginia
Although the Lions want to run the ball more, they have to protect the quarterback better or the offense will suffer. I have done a lot of research on Albert and he is emerging as a left tackle candidate who can play guard or right tackle. George Foster is not the answer. The Lions will find a solid back in the second round.

Team Pick Analysis

16. Arizona Cardinals

Aqib Talib
CB, Kansas
The Cardinals will have a number of corners to select from as well as a speed running back. Talib is a solid player who will fit into Ken Whisenhunt's team-oriented structure.

Team Pick Analysis

17. Philadelphia Eagles
(Projected trade with Minnesota)

Kenny Phillips
S, Miami
Brian Dawkins is getting older and this is the best safety on the board. The NFC East has matchup issues at tight end with Jeremy Shockey, Chris Cooley and Jason Whitten, so Phillips is the right player.

Team Pick Analysis

18. Houston Texans

Chris Williams
OT, Vanderbilt
The right side of the Texans offensive line is in good shape. Even though Houston had a number of good linemen finish the year on injured reserve, it's time to find a left tackle. This pick could easily change by next week and a corner or running back could be the call.

Team Pick Analysis

19. Minnesota Vikings
(Projected trade with Philadelphia)

Phillip Merling
DE, Clemson
Derrick Harvey would have been a great fit for the Vikings but his stock is rising and is off the board. The Eagles' and the Vikings' staffs have a relationship and trades are always easier in those scenarios. The Vikings can move down, still get Merling, and the Eagles can ensure they get safety Kenny Phillips. The addition of safety Madieu Williams allows the Vikings to make the move. If Vikings miss on Merling, there's always a guy like Auburn's Quentin Groves, who had 26 sacks in college.

Team Pick Analysis

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

James Hardy
WR, Indiana
Tampa has done a great job in free agency and still holds the rights to Jake Plummer for three years, so they could go in a few directions here. The starting receivers are older and Hardy gives the team a big target with tremendous college production. He caught 191 passes at Indiana with 36 touchdowns. Instantly, the Bucs will be better in the red zone.

Team Pick Analysis

21. Washington Redskins

Quentin Groves
DE, Auburn
A receiver or a safety makes sense, but the Redskins only have one pass rusher on the team. Andre Carter needs a pressure player on the opposite side in third-down situations. Groves might be a better fit in a 3-4 scheme, but he gets up the field as well as anyone left on the board. He started 38 games and had 62 plays behind the line of scrimmage (sacks and tackles for a loss), plus he forced eight fumbles.

Team Pick Analysis

22. Dallas Cowboys
(From Cleveland)


CB, Tennessee St.
There's always speculation the Cowboys are packaging their picks to move up for Darren McFadden. They can stay right where they are and satisfy two big needs, corner and wide receiver. The run on either spot earlier in the draft will determine which area they address first. Rodgers-Cromartie would be an excellent compliment to Terence Newman, but he might have to start his career as the nickel back. A 4.33-second 40-yard dash and size make him a steal at this spot.

Team Pick Analysis

23. Pittsburgh Steelers

Gosder Cherilus
OT, Boston College
I interviewed Cherilus recently and after a half hour of talking with him my conclusion was he's a Steeler. Cherilus is still learning the game after moving to the United States from Haiti his sophomore year in high school, but he's tough, nasty and loves the physical part of the game.

Team Pick Analysis

24. Tennessee Titans

Limas Sweed
WR, Texas
This pick would reunite Vince Young with one of his Texas receivers. The Titans re-signed Justin Gage and brought back Justin McCareins, but they need more receiver help. Limas is a big target with polished skills, and it looks like his wrist injury will not be a problem.

Team Pick Analysis

25. Seattle Seahawks

Kentwan Balmer
DT, North Carolina
Seattle let Chartric Darby and Ellis Wyms both go in free agency and the Bears proved last year that lost depth at defensive tackle is a dangerous situation. Balmer is getting mixed reviews around the league. Some personnel people feel he plays like Ryan Sims. Others see him as a solid space eater with good feet like Fred Robbins of the Giants.

Team Pick Analysis

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Calais Campbell
DE, Miami
We all know Jack Del Rio loves big defensive linemen and Campbell fits the bill. He measured at close to 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds at the combine and ran a 5.01 40-yard dash at his pro day. His strength has to be an issue with just 16 reps on the bench press when the average for defensive ends at the combine was 25. Long arms or not, he has to get stronger. Calais started 25 games and finished with 39 tackles for a loss, 19½ sacks and six forced fumbles. He is a hard worker and it's hard to believe there will be a player like him when Jacksonville goes on the clock in Round 2.

Team Pick Analysis

27. San Diego Chargers

Antoine Cason
CB, Arizona
The Chargers need to replace nickel cornerback Drayton Florence, who left in free agency. In recent years, San Diego has played in the lead a lot and that means they use their nickel and dime defense more than an average team. Cason should go higher in this draft and will be a steal for the Chargers at this slot. San Diego may look at other corners like Brandon Flowers and Justin King.

Team Pick Analysis

28. Dallas Cowboys

DeSean Jackson
WR, California
Jerry Jones and Co. take the receiver/returner who can replace Terry Glenn and help open up the offense. Jackson's size and some injury history should make him available at this point in the draft.

Team Pick Analysis

29. San Francisco 49ers
(From Indianapolis)

Keith Rivers
Rivers was coached for four years by former 49er Ken Norton Jr. He can play inside or outside linebacker in the 49ers scheme. Rivers would make an excellent weak-side linebacker next to Patrick Willis. The two of them would be in on nearly every tackle. >

Team Pick Analysis

30. Green Bay Packers

Brian Brohm
QB, Louisville
The Packers could take a corner for the future at this point or even tight end Fred Davis. However, if you're thinking future, Brohm hedges the bet on Aaron Rodgers to replace Brett Favre. Green Bay has a very good team and has already bolstered their linebackers in free agency. A move down would not be out of the question.

Team Pick Analysis

31. New York Giants

Jerod Mayo
LB, Tennessee
The world champions need a linebacker, safety and another defensive tackle among other things. With Connor and Rivers off the board and mixed reviews on North Carolina State safety DaJuan Morgan, linebacker might be the way to go. While Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor are gone, signing Danny Clark does help the depth at linebacker. Mayo is versatile enough to play inside and outside. He had 223 tackles over the last two seasons and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds at 242 pounds.

There will be an updated first-round mock draft every week leading up to the April 26-27 selection process. There could be some radical changes as I speak with people around the league and factor in the late pro days.

Players currently outside of the first round who might break in next week include Devin Thomas, Michigan wide receiver Mario Manningham, Felix Jones, Jonathan Stewart, Early Doucet, Sam Baker.