Final mock draft: Patriots trade up for LB

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.

</center> Where do Pat Kirwan, Vic Carucci, and Mike Mayock differ in their picks for the first round? 

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.

  • 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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