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Final mock draft: Patriots trade up for LB

  • By Pat Kirwan
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There has already been some serious business this week. The first pick in the draft is locked up with Jake Long going to Miami. The Jared Allen trade to the Vikings has stirred up the first round and the Chiefs may be much more flexible about trading out of the No. 5 spot. I also believe they are getting a lot of calls about the 17th pick they received in the deal.

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Where do Pat Kirwan, Vic Carucci, and Mike Mayock differ in their picks for the first round?
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Lito Sheppard, Jeremy Shockey, Fabian Washington and a few other veterans could also stir up the selection process.

Recently, we witnessed a few players admitting to failed drug tests, another player having heart surgery and the last of the pro days reshaping the first day of the draft. As late as Thursday, teams were still flying around the country to get a final peak at candidates.

The wild card in the first round is still Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, who could go at any number of spots in the opening round. There are varying opinions on Ryan and club executives in search of a quarterback can't waste much time comparing him to quarterbacks of years past. They need to ask themselves the question: If we pass on Ryan is there any guarantee we will get a player of equal or better talent next year? If he upgrades your team, it will be very hard to pass on him this year.

Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore and at least one other team have a very serious decision to make and it isn't going to be easy. History says the quarterback debate takes center stage in the hours leading up to the draft. Banking on Brian Brohm, Chad Henne or Joe Flacco being there in the second round is risky business. Not to mention, if those clubs believe Ryan is the best prospect than how can they wait?

I get the sense that a few of the decision makers on draft day are struggling with medical and/or off-the-field issues and for good reason. There's just too much money involved to take the risk anymore. Now that Long has taken a five-year deal from Miami instead of the traditional six-year deal at the top of the first round, the climate has changed dramatically.

A safe pick is going to trump a guy with great talent who may also present a risk. One-year wonders are another concern that seem to be on the mind of personnel directors with little time left before the draft. The Jake Long pick by the Dolphins sends a big message about how clubs look at the draft these days. Be safe and get the guy who has done it over time.

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Team Pick Analysis

1. Miami Dolphins

Jake Long
OT, Michigan
Long is signed, sealed and delivered.

Previous mock pick: Jake Long

Team Pick Analysis

2. St. Louis Rams

Chris Long
DE, Virginia
The Rams know Leonard Little only feels comfortable on the left side even though he is undersized. Chris Long plays hard and that is a big concern to the Rams' front office when they compare his effort to the other defensive end prospects. Another safe pick at the top of the first round and a guy who could move over to the left side when Little retires.

Previous mock pick: Chris Long

Team Pick Analysis

3. Atlanta Falcons

Glenn Dorsey
The Falcons will solve their QB situation in the second round or by packaging some of their three second-round picks and moving back into the first round. A 'three-technique' defensive tackle here makes sense for a team with a 4-3 defense. There is a lot of public sentiment not to take Ryan in Atlanta and it may be heard by the ownership. Dorsey will make the others around him be more productive and that's just what the doctor ordered for last year's first round pick Jamaal Anderson. New general manager Thomas Dimitroff watched his mentor, Bill Belichick, take a lot of defensive linemen in the first round.

Previous mock pick: Glenn Dorsey

Team Pick Analysis

4. Oakland Raiders

Darren McFadden
RB, Arkansas
The Raiders take Darren McFadden but Vernon Gholston has rare athletic ability and would be a great pick. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan likes to play hybrid 4-3/3-4 defenses and Gholston is a key to that package but owner Al Davis makes this pick. Only if Chris Long drops will Davis change his mind. Someone told me McFadden reminds the Raider owner of Marcus Allen.

Previous mock pick: Vernon Gholston

Team Pick Analysis

5. New England Patriots
(Projected trade from Kansas City)

Vernon Gholston
DE, Ohio State
The Jets want to get to Gholston but it looks like the Patriots win the positioning battle. The Chiefs think long and hard about Matt Ryan and offensive tackles Ryan Clady and Brandon Albert but Herm Edwards told me he wants 15 picks in this draft and a move down gets them there.

Previous mock pick: Sedrick Ellis

Team Pick Analysis

6. New York Jets

Leodis McKelvin
CB, Troy
Staying at this spot, the Jets get a game-breaking returner and a solid cover corner. This may turn out to be a better pick for their needs but it wouldn't surprise me if they move down after missing out on Gholston and McFadden.

Previous mock pick: Darren McFadden

Team Pick Analysis

7. Kansas City Chiefs
(Projected trade with New England)

Matt Ryan
QB, Boston College
With all the picks the Chiefs have they can take the quarterback here and still get the tackle and corners they need later. Now that the Chiefs are able to get Ryan down a few spots, it makes perfect sense to select him. He will be welcomed with open arms. Kansas City would love Keith Rivers too, but opt to go with the quarterback. Look for the Chiefs to consider moving up from the 17th slot to get the tackle they want.

Previous mock pick: Branden Albert

Team Pick Analysis

8. New Orleans Saints
(Projected trade with Baltimore)

Sedrick Ellis
The Saints tried to jump up for Dorsey but the price is too big. This move puts them ahead of the Bengals to get Ellis, who some feel is every bit the player Dorsey is and the Saints can still get a solid corner in the next round.

Previous mock pick: Matt Ryan

Team Pick Analysis

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Keith Rivers
The Bengals need to move up for Ellis but they decide to stay put and take the best defensive player. Rivers is a solid player and the kind of guy the team needs to draft. Ellis would have helped more but Rivers contributes right away. Chad Johnson isn't going anywhere unless the Bengals get a first- and second-round pick in this draft. They should make Johnson pay back $3 million of the bonus Marvin Lewis went into the front office and helped him get a year before the team needed to give it to him.

Previous mock pick: Leodis McKelvin

Team Pick Analysis

10. Balimtore Ravens
(Projected trade with New Orleans)

Branden Albert
G, Virginia
The Ravens miss out on Ryan by not moving up but they need a left tackle. Albert or Clady is the choice here. A corner is also a solid option but Jonathan Ogden is retired and this is a must pick. Albert grew up near the Ravens and has a world of potential.

Previous mock pick: Keith Rivers

Team Pick Analysis

11. Detroit Lions
(Projected trade with Buffalo)

Derrick Harvey
DE, Florida
Rod Marinelli always says "feed the front" whenever you can and a short move up puts a very quick pass rushing end on his front four. If the Lions wait until the 15th slot, Detroit may lose Harvey to the Broncos or Panthers. The word I hear is the Lions don't want to take a running back in the first round.

Previous mock pick: Dominique Rogers-Cromartie

Team Pick Analysis

12. Denver Broncos

Ryan Clady
OT, Boise State
The Broncos need a left tackle and Clady is still on the board because Albert pushed ahead of him, which fills a need for Denver.

Previous mock pick: Ryan Clady

Team Pick Analysis

13. Carolina Panthers

Chris Williams
OT, Vanderbilt
The Panthers need a tackle, running back and a defensive end on the first day. Taking Williams means Jordan Gross can stay on the right side and that sets up the Panther running game.

Previous mock pick: Rashard Mendenhall

Team Pick Analysis

14. Chicago Bears

Jeff Otah
OT, Pittsburgh
The Bears have issues on the offensive line and Otah can line up at right tackle from opening day. He will need tight end help in his pass protection early in his career but the future looks bright for this young tackle.

Previous mock pick: Jeff Otah

Team Pick Analysis

15. Buffalo Bills
(Projected trade with Detroit)

Devin Thomas
WR, Michigan State
The Bills move down and still get the playmaker they need to make their offense come alive. They may take a corner like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but picking a player with one kidney is a risk. Thomas takes the pressure off Lee Evans.

Previous mock pick: Derrick Harvey

Team Pick Analysis

16. Arizona Cardinals

Dominique Rogers-Cromartie
CB, Tennessee State
The Cardinals need a corner and Cromartie is just too good to pass up. He has return skills as well and should have little trouble lining up against the NFC West receivers his rookie season.

Previous mock pick: Michael Jenkins

Team Pick Analysis

17. Kansas City Chiefs
(From Minnesota)

Michael Jenkins
CB, South Florida
The run on offensive tackles leaves the Chiefs looking at their next pressing need, corner. Kansas City has the fire power to move up and they may just do that to get Williams, but Jenkins is a solid pick right here.

Previous mock pick: Philip Merling

Team Pick Analysis

18. Houston Texans

Jonathan Stewart
RB, Oregon
The Texans have taken Chris Williams in every mock draft I have posted, but he's gone this time. The signing of Chris Brown does not influence this selection and Houston gets a guy who is powerful and a 1,000-yard back as a rookie.

Previous mock pick: Chris Williams

Team Pick Analysis

19. Philadelphia Eagles

James Hardy
WR, Indiana
While the Eagles need a receiver, the board suggests the grades lean toward running back Rashard Mendenhall or a corner like Antoine Cason. Andy Reid told me he will take the highest graded player no matter what position. However, more teams have told me they have Hardy in the first round than I was led to believe a month ago. I could make a case for Kenny Phillips here but the 36 touchdowns and the speed Hardy demonstrated at the combine puts him in Philly. Is he the next Harold Carmichael at 6-foot-6?

Previous mock pick: Limas Sweed

Team Pick Analysis

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antoine Cason
CB, Arizona
The Bucs are going to be very tempted to take a wide receiver at this spot. But the talent pool at corner is running out, so they make the safe pick. Limas Sweed would look good in a Buc uniform. If Tampa Bay gets Lito Sheppard in a trade, then Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden turn their attention to the best receiver on the board.

Previous mock pick: Antoine Cason

Team Pick Analysis

21. Washington Redskins

Kenny Phillips
S, Miami
Phillip Merling didn't run at his pro day even though Daniel Snyder was present. There is some concern that Calais Campbell may not disengage from blockers with his 5.0 speed at 6'8. Kenny Phillips is a matchup safety to replace the deceased Sean Taylor. The NFC East is loaded with matchup tight end problems and safety is more important in this division than any other.

Previous mock pick: Calais Campbell

Team Pick Analysis

22. Dallas Cowboys
(From Cleveland)

Rashard Mendenhall
RB, Illinois
Dallas is excited Mendenhall is still on the board. He is an upgrade from Julius Jones and leverages the Cowboys if Marion Barber takes off after this season. Barber didn't like the sound of a $30 million dollar deal recently offered and that would concern me. Mendenhall can catch the ball, has a great burst and will have an immediate impact. The Cowboys come back for a receiver or a corner at No. 28.

Previous mock pick: Devin Thomas

Team Pick Analysis

23. Pittsburgh Steelers

Gosder Cherilus
OT, Boston College
Cherilus plays the game the way the Steelers like to play football. He isn't perfect, but he plays physical and to the whistle. He wins the right tackle spot in camp and never looks back for the next ten years. There could be conversation about a wide receiver like Limas Sweed.

Previous mock pick: Gosder Cherilus

Team Pick Analysis

24. Tennessee Titans

Limas Sweed
WR, Texas
The most polished receiver in the draft and a former teammate of Vince Young. If Merling was able to run, the Titans may have taken him here because they need a left defensive end. Sweed makes very good adjustments to poorly thrown balls and that is a plus in this situation.

Previous mock pick: Jerod Mayo

Team Pick Analysis

25. Seattle Seahawks

Kentwan Balmer
DT, North Carolina
The Seahawks have a need at defensive tackle and Balmer is still on the board. Even though he looks like a better fit for a 3-4 scheme, the Seahawks like his size and strength. One NFL defensive line coach described Balmer to me as a dancing bear a lot like Freddie Robbins of the Giants. He fits next to Brandon Mebane and keeps blockers off Lofa Tatupu.

Previous mock pick: Kentwan Balmer

Team Pick Analysis

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Philip Merling
DE, Clemson
Merling's stock dropped when he didn't run at his pro day this week, which was a good thing for the Jaguars as he didn't project this far down a month ago. Merling isn't a big flash player but he is solid and has the size Jack Del Rio likes up front.

Previous mock pick: Quentin Groves

Team Pick Analysis

27. San Diego Chargers

Felix Jones
RB, Arkansas
The worries over Michael Turner's departure and the wear and tear on LaDainian Tomlinson are less of a cocern when the Chargers select Jones. He compliments Tomlinson and over the next few years gets more and more work as LT hits his 30th birthday.

Previous mock pick: Jonathan Stewart

Team Pick Analysis

28. Dallas Cowboys

Aqib Talib
CB, Kansas
Trading for Pacman Jones, who may not even play this season, is not a reason to pass on a corner. The Cowboys need a receiver but the second round will provide an opportunity to get one. Dallas is not afraid to take a chance on a guy with off-the-field issues and Talib's got a very good grade with some issues. A perfect Cowboy.

Previous mock pick: Felix Jones

Team Pick Analysis

29. San Francisco 49ers
(From Indianapolis)

Jerod Mayo
LB, Tennessee
Mayo has been on the rise for two months. He is an attacking downhill linebacker and that sets up well for the Niners and their sideline-to-sideline linebacker Patrick Willis. Between the two of them there should be 225 tackles in 2008.

Previous mock pick: Dan Connor

Team Pick Analysis

30. Green Bay Packers

Brandon Flowers
CB, Virginia Tech
The Packers are thinking of signing Daunte Culpepper or they might take a young quarterback later in the draft. I had Flowers in the middle of the second round, but two teams told me this week he was in their first round. He starts off as a nickel corner with solid tackling techniques. He plays faster than he runs in shorts and is a fine tackler.

Previous mock pick: Brian Brohm

Team Pick Analysis

31. New York Giants

Tyrell Johnson
S, Arkansas State
The Giants see a few good players fall to them at the bottom of the draft and have already told me they are very happy to stay right where they are. They will consider Dan Connor at this spot, but Johnson is flying up draft boards and the Giants were one of the stops on his NFL tour. Johnson told me a number of teams worked him out at corner and pointed to a game against Texas to see what he has to offer. Johnson had 10 tackles, an interception and excelled on special teams. He has the football intelligence to fit right into Steve Spagnuolo's fire zone scheme. He reminds me of a young Brian Dawkins.

Previous mock pick: Kenny Phillips

* The Colts first pick is late in the second round and they could do one of two things. If they see a player still on their board with a solid first-round grade as the second round starts, they could trade next year's first round pick to get him. They did it last year with offensive tackle Tony Ugoh and they got a first-round player for second-round money.

For example, if they graded defensive tackle Trevor Laws from Notre Dame with his 224 tackles as a fit for their scheme and his grade fit that philosophy, then why not go get him? Indy's first-round pick in 2009 shouldn't be much better than that and they save a bunch of money.



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