How top teams will kick off selection Saturday

In a tribute to Lawrence Welk, here's the NFL mock draft version of "a one, and a two, and a three."

1. Miami Dolphins: Negotiations for Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long kicked off two weeks ago – and have not commenced with anyone else, not Virginia defensive end Chris Long, not Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, not LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, not Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston. The next player on the Dolphins draft board would be Gholston and Miami would face the same problem with him that it has with Jake Long; Gholston and Long are represented by the same agency, Tom Condon and CAA Football. So it almost has to be Long, whom Browns general manager Phil Savage called "a lock to be a Pro Bowler at right tackle."

Miami's football poobah, Bill Parcells, has gone straight at Long as if no other prospects mattered. Parcells wants Long to be his No. 1 pick, and Long would like to go to Miami. Now the two sides must produce an agreement on which they have made some progress. But a deal, as of Monday, was not exactly close. Parcells wants Long to give the Dolphins a discount over the six-year, $61 million deal that last year's No. 1 pick, JaMarcus Russell, signed with Oakland. Long is unwilling to sign for less. But there are creative ways that each side is looking into to get an agreement done before Saturday's draft.

Even if there is no agreement, Parcells has made it clear for two weeks that Long is his guy; it is not a ruse nor a smokescreen. The Dolphins, to steal part of an expression from Miami general manager Jeff Ireland, have found "a pillar" for their offense.
Pick:Jake Long.

2. St. Louis Rams No. 2 is an ideal resting spot for the Rams. They'd be happy with Jake Long, happy with Dorsey and happy with Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, who one source said is the top-rated player on St. Louis' draft board. The other option would be to deal the pick to New Orleans. The Saints have made preliminary inquiries about what it would take to get up to St. Louis' spot at No. 2. The short answer is, a lot. Probably too much. But some Saints officials are making the 45-minute drive this week to the LSU campus to meet with Dorsey one more time to investigate how much he might be worth to them. St. Louis knows how much Dorsey or any other top prospect means to them. St. Louis also has toyed with the idea of drafting McFadden because Rams running back Steven Jackson is headed into the last year of his contract. But the Rams simply have too many other needs to go running back. If Jake Long does indeed go No. 1., then Dorsey likely goes No. 2.
Pick: Dorsey.

3. Atlanta FalconsJake Long would be a tremendous pickup for Atlanta. And there's a widespread feeling that the Falcons would love to see Dorsey drop to their spot at No. 3. But if Jake Long goes No. 1, and Dorsey goes in the top two, as now is expected, then Atlanta's choice becomes a simple one. It goes Ryan, the quarterback to build its franchise around. Atanta has invested plenty of time in Ryan, meeting with him and working him out. And the Falcons would be happy to anoint him as the new face of the franchise.
Pick: Ryan.

Should the draft unfold this way –- and some around the league believe it will -– it would leave Oakland choosing from a group that would include Gholston and McFadden.

But Raiders owner Al Davis believes that pass rushers are more valuable than good rushers, and the likely pick would be Gholston -- despite the multiple mock drafts that have McFadden slated to go No. 4.

Deal or no deal

A rough offseason for Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson looks as if it is about to get rougher.

Despite Johnson's pleas to be traded, the Bengals continue to insist that they are unwilling to deal their disgruntled Pro Bowl wide receiver.

No matter the offer. No matter the circumstances.

No deal.

Should draft weekend come and go without a trade -- and the Bengals absolutely believe it will -- Johnson is going to be an even unhappier camper than he is now.

More likely is a deal between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings, who have been discussing a trade for Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen.

Kansas City is asking for a first- and second-round pick in return for the defensive end that led the NFL in sacks. Minnesota is offering its first-round pick, the 17th overall selection, and the higher of its two third-round picks, the 74th overall selection that it acquired last year from Denver.

In essence, based on the NFL's antiquated draft point value chart, the Vikings are offering 1170 points for Allen. But Kansas City drives a hard bargain -– just think back to last year, when the Chiefs and Dolphins discussed a deal for quarterback Trent Green for weeks, if not months, before it finally was completed.

If and when the Chiefs and Vikings agree to a deal –- and the popular thinking is, it will be on draft day -– Minnesota and Allen are not expected to have any problems coming to an agreement on a new contract.

The two sides spent much of the weekend together, and Allen was very much impressed with the organization and Minnesota head coach Brad Childress. The parameters for a deal are in place, so much so that Allen now is balking on taking a trip to Tampa. For now, Allen is pushing back the trip, if it even occurs.

Minnesota, for now, is the place he wants to play.

Looming labor battle

Fans want to hear about risers, sleepers, players –- not a looming labor battle that threatens to affect this year's rookie class. But it will.

Teams and agents are gearing up for the idea that owners will opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in November, which will impact the top rookie deals this summer.

Pressure points are kicking in three years in advance. Agents will be trying to squeeze as much guaranteed money into the first three years of the contract, before the potential work stoppage takes hold in year four, 2011, making deals that much more difficult to finalize.

As difficult as it will be to do some of the top 10 deals this spring, it will be even more difficult next summer, when the guaranteed money will have to be squeezed into the two years remaining before the potential work stoppage in 2011.

There already is increasing chatter about the factor that could contribute to more holdouts than previous years. But the holdouts could skyrocket next summer.

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