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Sport Projections: 2008 NFL Blogger Mock Draft

I was asked about two weeks ago to take part in Chris Fry's Sport Projections Blogger Mock Draft.. Below you'll find the results. Keep in mind, this was before the Bucs signed Wilson to help sure up any questions we had at Cornerback, plus I couldnt believe the guy I picked slipped so far.. If I did the Mock Draft Today my pick would probably be a little different... Never the less, here it is:
1 Miami Chris Long DE Virginia
My feelings on this will probably change weekly, especially once free agency starts. But right now, assuming the Dolphins can't trade the pick, Chris Long is probably the selection. The new regime in Miami wants to build this team from the inside out and Long is a Parcells kind of guy. He's also the safest bet in terms of investing $30+ million in guarantees that the top pick will command.
2 St. Louis Glenn Dorsey DT LSU
I'd prefer the Rams trade down from this spot (especially if Jerry Jones comes calling), but assuming they keep the pick, it's nearly a no-brainer. Dorsey may be the most NFL-ready, impact rookie in the draft and, along with Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan, will give the Rams a formidable young trio of defensive linemen. A lot of people will be pushing for the Rams to take Jake Long, but with a stable of healthy linemen returning and the chance to build a legitimate defense for the first time since '99, the Rams can't pass up on Dorsey. As an added bonus, he'll give the Rams the flexibility to move Carriker around on the line, and given James Hall's play last year, that has to have Jim Haslett salivating.
3 Atlanta Sedrick Ellis DT USC
The waiving of Rod Coleman creates another hole on a Falcon team that resembles swiss cheese more than an NFL team. Ellis will start right away, provide pressure to opposing QB's while taking the heat off unimpressive Jamaal Anderson.
4 Oakland Jake Long OT Michigan
IF the Raiders select third, which they may when the coin is flipped with Atlanta on February 20th, they will select Sedrick Ellis. If Ellis, Dorsey and Chris Long are gone, then they'd be more than happy to select Jake Long. Jake is a very versatile and powerful OT that would solidify the Raider offensive line for years to come. The oldest and least effective player on the Raider line is, OT Barry Sims. Jake Long would be a VERY big upgrade for an improved O-Line
5 Kansas City Darren McFadden (trading pick) RB Arkansas
The first four picks in this mock draft represent probably the worst scenario for the Kansas City Chiefs. Two of the team's biggest needs -- offensive line and defensive line -- are already gone with Ellis and Long off the board. The Chiefs would definitely look to trade out of this situation by sending the pick to a team desirous of Darren McFadden. The Chiefs won't reach for Ryan Clady, the no. 2 offensive linemen in the draft, and no other available defensive player is worth the no. 5 overall pick.
6 NY Jets Vernon Gholston DE/LB Ohio State
The Jets ranked 25th in the league overall when it came to sacks, registering 29 sacks on the season. Their two starting outside linebackers (Bryan Thomas and Victor Hobson) combined for just 4.5 sacks total. In last year's draft, the Jets selected two defensive players that made a significant impact in their rookie seasons in Darrelle Revis and David Harris. The team lacked the pass rushing skills and they need to be severely upgraded. I firmly believe that Eric Mangini will go defense once again and select Vernon Gholston at this point in time. It could all change come free agency, though. However, if the Jets don't select Gholston, they could be regretting it for years as the Patriots could select him just one pick later.
7 New England (From S.F.) Leodis McKelvin CB Troy
I believe the Patriots will trade down, as under Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli they do not like to pay unproven talent. In looking at where the Patriots need help the most versus what they usually take, the Pats usually require help at ILB and OLB, but like taking OL or DL in the first round. The Patriots' OL did not hold up under pressure in the Super Bowl, but there is a lot of OL talent deep in this draft. Ryan Clady would have been at OL pick at 7th.
The Patriots are young and talented at DL and have everyone under contract for a little while. Derrick Harvey would be a good DE/OLB remaining at 7. Belichick likes his ILB and OLB old boys, but needs to get younger. Eric Alexander and Pierre Woods have not developed they way fans have hoped. So although there is a need the Pats will look to find a dominant LB in the later rounds to be groomed by the veterans. Keith Rivers would be my first choice at number 7.

So where is the greatest weakness? - The secondary. Bringing in coach Don Capers will help develop safety talent like Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders, but there is little time left for Asante Samuel (FA), Randall Gay (FA), Eugene Wilson (FA) and Rodney Harrison (last year in 2008).

Cornerbacks Mike Jenkins, Leodis McKelvin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Aqib Talib are all talented players and the Patriots will take McKelvin as they lose Asante Samuel and still have too many question marks at cornerback.

McKelvin is the best man coverage corner in the draft and aggressive at the line of scrimmage versus WRs and will come up to stop the run.
8 Baltimore Michael Jenkins CB South Florida
Matt Ryan is sloppy under pressure, and regardless QB is not Baltimore's most pressing need. If you disagree, I hope you enjoyed those Ravens highlights on SportsCenter because clearly you haven't watched full games. Billick's genius was more to blame than suspect play under center.
Michael Jenkins was recruited by the big boys but chose to play at South Florida because he wanted to be part of a program on the rise. He's hungry. He's also nasty at a position where the Ravens are falling apart at the seams. C-Mac still has it but Samari Rolle does not, and currently the backups are better suited for special teams than the spotlight.
9 Cincinnati Derrick Harvey DE Florida
With Justin Smith headed out of town (thankfully with his 2 sacks and 8 million cap hit), Cincinnati will be looking for an upgraded pass rusher at DE. With the expected move from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense, Harvey will be counted on early in the DL rotation to occupy the TE and tackles and get to the quarterback.
10 New Orleans Aqib Talib CB Kansas
New Orleans is in desperate need of an upgrade at the cornerback position and Talib has the athleticism to make an immediate impact with the Saints. The knock on the All-American coming out of the combine is that he doesn't have great technique in his coverage skills. My feeling is that Talib will be playing under a quality coaching staff in New Orleans and he will see a dramatic improvement in his technical skills once he gets into camp. At 6'2, 205 Talib has the ideal size to succeed at the NFL level and would fill a huge hole in the Saints defensive backfield.
11 Buffalo Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB Tennessee State
If the top ten were to shake out like this, the Bills would almost certainly try to trade down. The team has plugged its glaring holes at DT (Marcus Stroud, Spencer Johnson), LB (Kawika Mitchell) and potentially WR (Bryant Johnson). That leaves the team with needs at TE, reserve OL, reserve DE and CB. No TE or OL is worth a pick this high given the circumstances, and the top ends and corners are off the board. If they're forced to pick, however, I like Rodgers-Cromartie over Texas WR Limas Sweed, Clemson DE Phillip Merling and Miami (FL) S Kenny Phillips.
The Cover-2 defense that the Bills employ is only successful when a team can create turnovers, and the Bills did not do that consistently enough in 2007. Rodgers-Cromartie has perhaps the highest ceiling of the top four cornerbacks available this year, as he possesses outstanding speed and recovery skills, along with top-notch ball skills. He's not a perfect fit in the Cover-2, as his tackling needs refinement, and his learning curve in the NFL may be steep after coming from Division II. But the Bills aren't in need of an immediate starter at the position (Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer can hold down the fort), giving Rodgers-Cromartie time to grow into his role. He could be a dominant player in any NFL scheme, he just needs time to prove it.
12 Denver Keith Rivers LB USC
For Denver, this pick is 100% about not reaching for the first time in the last 4 years (since our last LB, DJ Williams). Like Williams, Rivers is a rare combination of speed and athleticism, and he is best suited to the WILL position. Unlike Williams, Rivers has a red flag: inadequate lower body strength.
Think pinball when he gets caught in trash around the line. This is such a severe factor that he could possibly be THE bust of the draft. But if he pans out, he will be DJ Part Two.

This pick does not take into consideration recent developments in free agency which indicate a return to the WILL for DJ Williams. While Rivers can play any of the three spots, he would be out of place at SAM and probably unprepared for an NFL MIKE position.

Consider this a Best Talent Available pick, and let the chips fall where they may.
13 Carolina Chris Williams OT Vanderbilt
If Derrick Harvey was here it would be easy to select him to replace Mike Rucker. With Harvey gone I have to go with the Panthers biggest need, left tackle. Williams is a ‘can’t miss’ left tackle who should be the starter game one in 2008. He looked good all season, at the Senior Bowl and at the combine where he ran a 5.07 40 yard dash. He has the size, speed and long arms needed to be a dominate left or right tackle for years to come. Some might wonder why I passed on Ryan Clady? He’s from a mid-major school who by-passed the combine which always makes me leery. Williams is the safer pick who also survived four years at high-intellect Vanderbilt playing against top-notched SEC competition.
14 Chicago Rashard Mendenhall RB Illinois
With the 14th pick in this year's player pot luck, the Chicago Bears select Rashard Mendenhall from the University of Illinois.
The Bears plate is seriously empty of a few courses. The easiest and possibly best thing the Bears could do is slice off a nice chunk of meatloaf and draft an offensive linemen. The Bears line held opposing defenses about as long a scoop of chili on one of those cheap
styrofoam plates. They could also go for the rack of lamb with some
nice mint sauce and draft Brian Brohm, but I think we all know we are
not in the habit of serving up lamb here at Soldier Field. Besides
who wants a linemen or QB to be called out on draft day? One is
boring and the other is too big a risk.

What the Bears will do is serve up the old reliable hamburger, but a little different this time. See we already have the old school burger with lettuce, tomatoes and ketchup. That meat is starting to turn and that cheese is starting smell a wee bit rancid. We are looking to
spice it up a little. Let's add a little kick with with some Heinz 57
and maybe toss a few jalapenos on there? That is where Mendenhall
comes in. He isn't your typical power back who just bum rushes the
prescribed hole and push his way 3 yards and then falls down. No,
Mendenhall has some pep in his step, a little paprika on his deviled
egg if you will. He has some speed. He has some outside moves and he
can and will blow up some oncoming safeties.

So while the lamb smells and tastes great now, it always unsettles your stomach later and as much as we love the meatloaf it just doesn't leave you feeling satisfied. Chicago needs something to grab with two hands. Chicago needs something that along with a cold beer, a few
burps and a nice nap leaves you feeling that the cooking is being
taken care of, so sit back and enjoy dinner is about to be served.
15 Detroit Ryan Clady OT Boise State
The Lions have quite a few needs that will have to be addressed via the NFL Draft, but as April nears, the focus of what positions need help the most luckily is starting to become clearer. Before last week, I would have said that cornerback was the biggest need for Detroit. Since then, though, the Lions have signed Dwight Smith and have traded for Leigh Bodden. Cornerback is by no means set just yet, but I do not feel a first-round draft pick should be spent on one, especially when the top players at that position have already been selected.
The other needs the Lions have includes middle linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive line, and maybe even running back. Out of all of those positions, it isn't easy to pinpoint which needs a top talent the most, but with the current scenario in this mock draft, I would say the best option is to start rebuilding the o-line. Detroit has committed to running the ball this year, and in order to do that they will need a somewhat decent offensive line, which is something that doesn't exist right now.

With that in mind, I have the Lions taking Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady. I have seen him scattered all over top 15 picks in various mock drafts, and some even have him going in the top 5. He may not be well-known just yet as he is coming from a smaller school and didn't make it to Indy for the Combine, but his name just isn't going away. Drafting an offensive tackle fills a need and gives the Lions something to build the rest of their offense around.
16 Arizona Jonathan Stewart RB Oregon
While the Cardinals did make significant strides last season, this team still has some glaring deficiencies. The Cards would love to take a top tier CB such as McKelvin, Talib, or Jenkins, but with all three gone off of the board the Cards will look to address there future needs at tailback with Stewart. Edgerrin James was more productive last year, but he is a possession RB and not a true threat to score everytime he touches the ball. James has great vision, cuts better than anyone in the league and can grind out the physical yardage, but he has never been a home run threat. The team was still near the bottom of the league in Rushing offense in 2007, relying mostly on their passing attack to win games. Stewart is a big, bruising runner with breakaway speed that can give the Cardinals the true versatility of a two back system. And having a more consistent and effective running game will also ease the pressure off of Cards QB Matt Leinart, who will be returning to the starting lineup after a season ending injury. This is the kind of pick that Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt will be very happy to make.
17 Minnesota Matt Ryan QB Boston College
With the 17th pick in the 2008 NFL Mock Draft, the Minnesota Vikings. . .unbelievably. . .select Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College.
The Vikings are hoping that a DE falls to them here, but the Big 3 DEs are off the board, and there's nobody left worth reaching for at #17. Wide receiver would be the next biggest spot of need, but with all of them sliding down the board like this, there will be plenty of solid receivers available in the second and third rounds. While I'm a supporter of Tarvaris Jackson and a believer in his talents, if Matt Ryan were to actually fall to the Vikings' spot in the draft, I'm not sure if there would be any way the Vikings could pass him up. Ryan is being talked about as a potential Top 5 selection, and possibly even the first overall pick. He's head and shoulders above the rest of the quarterbacks in this year's class, and he represents the best value available at this point in this draft by a wide margin. With this pick, the Vikings set them up to have a passing game that will really be able to keep defenses honest and allow Adrian Peterson to run wild in that special way that only Adrian Peterson can.
18 Houston Jeff Otah OT Pittsburgh
With the top corners (McKelvin, Jenkins, Talib, Cromartie) and running backs (McFadden, Mendenhall, Stewart) off the board, I decided to address the offensive line. In the real draft, the Texans will probably pick another defensive lineman, but I digress.
The Unknown Man

It's hard to believe this man can go unrecognized at 6?6?, 340 pounds, but Otah was not recruited coming out of high school in 2004 and attended Valley Forge Military Academy. Born in Nigeria, he came to the U.S. as a basketball player, and his first year of football came during his senior year.

In 2006, he enrolled at Pittsburgh and started all 12 games at left tackle. In 2007, he started all 12 games and was an All-Big East first team selection.

His background as a basketball player will benefit him in the NFL, where he will have to compete with some of the best athletes in the nation. His lateral quickness will be key if he is to protect the quarterback's blindside from the left tackle position against the speed rushers. Simply put, he is a mauler that has the potential, with coaching, to become great.

With the 18th pick, a franchise left tackle would be a great value.
19 Philadelphia Malcolm Kelly WR Oklahoma
The Eagles filled some needs though free agency, by acquiring CB Asante Samuel and DE Chris Clemons. Andy Reid has admitted that the team tried to pursue receiver Randy Moss, and I think that has tipped their hat as to what they might be looking for this draft. If Kelly were to fall this far, he would be tough to pass up. He is a big receiver with enough speed to be a vertical threat. You should also look for offensive line help here, because the Eagles tend to draft lineman in round one.
20 Tampa Bay Antoine Cason CB Arizona
With the 20th Pick in Sport Projections Mock Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select CB Antoine Cason from the University of Arizona. With the Bucs losing out on CB's Asante Samuel, Drayton Florence, and
Randall Gay via Free Agency, Monte Kiffin will ask his guys to Draft a
Defensive Player in the 1st Round for the third year in a row. Cason
is a big, physical cornerback who can keep pace with vertical threats
and big possession guys. Closes on opponents extremely fast and has
good hands to make plays. Supports well against the run and is a good
tackler for a cornerback. When you look at the big board, Cason is
clearly at the top. He's bigger than the prototypical Cover 2 CB, but
his ability outweighs any potential for him not fitting into Kiffin's

The Fan base will be clamoring for a Wide Receiver with this pick and some may even hope for a pass-catching Tight End, but if the Bucs Free
Agency targets are any indication, Cornerback is clearly a position
they are trying to upgrade this off-season, sorry Phillip Buchanon.
The Bucs could go a number of directions with this pick however and
may even attempt to move up and Draft CB Mike Jenkins from South
Florida. Other sleepers: CB Tracy Porter (Indiana), TE Martin Rucker
(Missouri), and WR Limas Sweed (Texas).
21 Washington Calais Campbell DE Miami(FL)
With CB Aqib Talib and DE Vernon Gholston off the board, and with the glaring need along the defensive line, the Redskins should be looking at DE Calais Campbell from Miami. He's a tall, big defensive end that would be a perfect fit opposite Andre Carter. Given his size and athleticism (and the arrival of Mario Williams in Houston as a big time player) it will be hard for the Redskins to pass on this guy.
They have other needs and could be looking at a WR here (such as UT's Limus Sweed) or a CB, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Carlos Rogers and his injury and the uncertainty of Shawn Springs' future with the team. DE Philip Merling from Clemson is a possibility, as are some other offensive and defensive linemen (DT Kentwan Balmer and OG's Bendon Albert and Chilo Rachal come to mind.) But with the top CB's gone, the pick should be Campbell.
22 Dallas (from Cleveland) Felix Jones RB Arkansas
With the departure of Julius Jones for greener pastures, this is a win-win for the Cowboys. It fills a need and it adds a "wow" factor to an already potent offense. Adding Desean Jackson is a tempting move but Felix Jones has been in a running back by committee offense before. And despite the emergence of Marion Barber, the Cowboys are still pushing that philosophy. He adds the home-run threat to Barber's bulldozer approach. And Felix is from Arkansas, just like Jerry!
23 Pittsburgh Branden Albert OG Virginia
This is a tough call for the Steelers. Their most likely pick, offensive tackle Jeff Otah, is off the board, as are the top cornerbacks. That leaves them a decision between the best remaining tackle (Sam Baker) or the top guard in the draft (Branden Albert). Baker plays the left side, where the Steelers have a solid starter in Marvel Smith. There's a big need for depth, but there's no way this team is drafting for depth at left tackle in the first round when that's the only remotely solid position in the entire group.
That leaves Albert, who would battle with Chris Kemoeatu for the now-vacant left guard spot vacated by Alan Faneca. Albert is big and versatile, having lined up at left tackle for a game in 2007, but a little slow if asked to pull. He's only a borderline first-round prospect, though, so there's a chance the Steelers could take the best player available at this point and try to grab USC guard Chilo Rachal in the second round instead.
24 Tennessee Limas Sweed WR Texas
Heading into the offseason, the Titans' biggest need was finding a playmaker at the wide receiver position.Almost two weeks into free agency, the team has yet to sign a free agent WR.
Limas Sweed would provide a combination of size and speed and would give the Titans a homerun threat at WR. Sweed already has a rapport with Titan quarterback and ex-college teammate Vince Young.

Drafting Sweed would satisfy the need for WR speed in Nashville.
25 Seattle Phillip Merling DE Clemson
With the 25th Pick, The Seahawks are kind of in a pinch. The way the draft has worked out to this point has done them no favors. They would have taken a RB, but the top 4 are gone. They would have taken a tackle or corner too, but the top 4-5 from both of those positions are gone. Therefore the Hawks would be LOVE to give up their pick to one of the many teams who passed on Matt Ryan and now want to move back into the first for a QB. The Hawks want a DT or TE and none present a good value at this point. For the mock sake, we can assume no trade is worked out.
In that case, the Seahawks select DE Phillip Merling from Clemson. He is the 11 best player as ranked by NFL Draft Scout. He is 6'4" and can get to the QB. The Hawks have little depth at DE and considering that their defense revolves around pressure, that is risky. Following the Giants success, the Hawks take another Pass Rusher, because you can never have too many.
26 Jacksonville Lawrence Jackson DE USC
In this scenario, Jacksonville would likely package their first-rounder and one of their two third-rounders to trade up several spots if Phillip Merling makes it past the 20th pick. However, the Jaguars will settle on Lawrence Jackson out of USC. This might be a bit of a reach, but Jacksonville is desperate for defensive end help, and Jackson will come in right away and contribute.
Last season, Jacksonville was one good pass-rusher away from beating the Patriots in the AFC playoffs. Tom Brady went 26 of 28 against the Jags, and then the next week he threw more interceptions (3) against the Chargers, than he did incompletions against the Jaguars. If Jacksonville had a player to apply more pressure, they likely beat the Pats and move on, but that wasn't the case. Jackson is a solid blend of size (275 lbs) and speed (4.8-4.7 40-yard dash) and has all the tools to be effective immediately. He has experience for a big program and could help push Jacksonville over the top. The Jaguars might try to trade out of the pick because they would likely be reaching for a DE at the 26th pick, and if Merling did fall, the Jags would likely make a play to trade up in the draft. However, the Jaguars are fine landing Jackson and will hope he can bolster their pass-rush.
27 San Diego DeSean Jackson WR Cal
The Chargers are so loaded that they can take the best player available at just about any position. Sure they have needs and would certainly be looking for depth on the offensive and defensive lines, but the Chargers currently have precious few draft picks and need to maximize their value. Chargers GM AJ Smith has stated he is looking at all positions except Tight End, Quarterback, and Kicker/Punter. So if at pick 27 wide receiver Desean Jackson was still on the board, he could easily hear his name called by the San Diego Chargers.
Jackson is arguably one of the best 15 prospects in this draft class regardless of position and would present tremendous value if he were available at the bottom of the first round. While the Chargers may not need many more pass catchers on the team, there is no denying that Desean Jackson is an absolute terror with the ball in his hands and could immediately contribute in the return game. Coach Norv Turner would also love to have Jackson's speed on the field because his system is a down-field passing attack which places a premium on guys who can fly.

The Chargers are trying to capitalize on their window of opportunity to win a championship and need guys who can help them win games right now. With the way this mock draft played out, Desean Jackson is an easy pick to make.
28 Dallas Mario Manningham WR Michigan
Mario Manningham fills a want and a need with aging receivers (T.O. and Terry Glenn) at the top of the Cowboys roster. It's all about the goods and Manningham has them. He will go and get the ball; he's got speed and the ability to separate. If it weren't for Appalachian State's blocked field goal, we'd still be talking about Manningham's amazing 46-yard catch to set up the game-winning field goal. His combine times were slow but his game film and Pro Day times weren't (one scout clocked him at 4.38). Dallas really wanted to pickup one of the top corners on the board in the first round, but the corners with first-round grades were all gone by their initial pick at #22. Devin Thomas was also a consideration here but he's only done it for one year while Manningham has proved his worth over his career at Michigan.
29 San Francisco (From Indy) Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College
The 49ers offensive line was one of several areas they needed to improve this offseason. Defensive line and wide receiver remain issues that could be addressed with this pick, but I believe one of them can be handled in the second round. A big guy like Cherilus would not reach the 49ers in the second round and needs to be grabbed here. Cherilus played left tackle his senior year, but spent his first three years of college at right tackle, which appears to be his natural position. Offseason discussion has centered on moving second year standout Joe Staley to the blind side and after losing Justin Smiley to free agency and Larry Allen to likely retirement, depth is thin on the line in general. Drafting Cherilus would allow the Staley move and add some depth to a 2007 weakness.
30 Green Bay Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina  
The Packers would prefer to address an aging secondary but with Balmer on the board, they go with the best player available. Balmer has top 15 talent but has slid in the draft because of bigger fish to fry for most teams picking ahead of the Packers. Balmer is big, strong and can play in a 4-3 or 3-4.
I expect teams to be trying to move into this spot to get Balmer, don't be surprised if someone else makes this pick. Either way, Balmer goes here if the draft falls this way.
31 New England Forfeit pick     
32 NY Giants Kenny Phillips S Miami
If the draft really does break this way, it would be a dream for the Giants. They would get to choose between Phillips, a safety who can probably help them right away, and linebackers Dan Connor (Penn State) and Jerod Mayor (Tennessee), since they need help at both spots.
My choice here is Phillips. The Giants have only veteran Sammy Knight, adequate at best James Butler, and the still developing Michael Johnson at safety. They need a big-time playmaking safety, and Phillips is the best one in this draft.

Phillips comes a school with a reputation for producing outstanding safeties -- see Bennie Blades, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor and Brandon Meriweather. He should be the next in line, and is a perfect fit for what the Giants need.