Mock Draft - Version 9.0

With the majority of the big-name free agents finding new homes, we rework the mock draft based largely on team needs. The ninth (and hopefully final) version of round one reflects the Vikings' trade for Jared Allen, with Kansas City taking over Minnesota's pick at No. 17.

OVERVIEW: On the eve of the draft, we present what we hope is the final version of our mock draft – we've said that before only to have a blockbuster trade at the 11th hour blow everything up. But, as it stands, these are picks we're projecting with the controversy starting at No. 2. What the Rams do will have a big impact on not only the next few picks, but the end of the first round – where we are projecting the Chargers to trade out of their spot. By Saturday night, we'll know how well our board held up, but for now we're standing by it and believe our rationale for the picks will remain sound. That said, one trade will implode the mock like an old Vegas casino.

Original Team's W-L and Strength of Schedule
No. Club
Strength of Schedule
1. Miami Dolphins
Jake Long, OT, Michigan. This pick may force itself on the Dolphins. The days of having teams line up to make offers for the first overall pick are all but over. If there is a clear No. 1 pick, the team swallows hard and makes the selection. If there isn't a clear No. 1, who wants to trade up to the top pick if the player you covet might be available three or four picks later? That is the dilemma the Dolphins face. Bill Parcells, er, ah, the Dolphins – make no mistake, the Tuna runs the show even though he isn't coach or G.M. – has a huge decision to make. To take QB Matt Ryan at this spot, he would have to commit a significant chunk of franchise money into a player who may never pan out. DE Chris Long would give the Dolphins one of the best defensive fronts in the league – and clearly the best among any team in history coming off a 1-15 season. He could take a risk on greatness with Vernon Gholston. But, with the money needed to lock down a first overall pick, the safest bet is to go with a left tackle. The Browns are thrilled with what Joe Thomas did for them with the third pick last year. The risk factor of an offensive tackle being a $30 million bust is less than any other position on the field. He can be signed to a longer deal with less risk of failure than anywhere else. With an extra second-round pick as well their own pick at No. 32 to start the round, the Dolphins could jump back into the first round later if someone they like slips. While I still like Chris Long here, I can understand the rationale of Jake.
2. St. Louis Rams
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU. This is the key pick of the entire draft. If the Rams take Dorsey, we see the next few picks falling in the order we have listed. If the Rams take DE Chris Long, the Falcons will likely pass on QB Matt Ryan and allow him to slide to Baltimore at No. 8. As a result, it would be likely that the Chiefs wouldn't reach for Derrick Harvey and instead tackle offensive lineman Branden Albert. As you can see, this pick will have much influence. The Rams really can't go wrong with Dorsey or Long and there is even talk that the Falcons may be willing to give up a decent pick to flip-flop with the Rams, take Dorsey at this spot and let Atlanta add an extra pick or two and take Long. Dorsey has been eliminating the fears about the stress fracture in his leg and the comparisons to being an impact DT like Warren Sapp are growing louder. The Rams have a brutal history of drafting DTs high, but this could be the exception to the rule and, according to people in the know in St. Louis, the claim is that they have Dorsey rated No. 1 on their board.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College. The Falcons would assuredly jump on Dorsey if he is still here and may give a lot of consideration to taking Long with this pick. But the chance to get a franchise QB doesn't come that often – Falcons fans and team brass know that all too well. After having their head coach bail out on them before the end of the season and their franchise QB doing time at Leavenworth, the Falcons need a new face of the franchise to sell jerseys and keep fans in the stands. Ryan can do that for Atlanta and, barring a flip-flop of picks with St. Louis to assure themselves a shot at Dorsey, if he's gone, the Falcons will likely have to make the big splash at QB and send the word to their fans that they won't get another year with guys like Chris Redman, Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich as their only answers at the position.
4. Oakland Raiders
Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State. This could be cause for cries of "Sacrilege!" among Raiders fans if Oakland passes on Chris Long (Howie's son) and takes Gholston. If Dorsey is still on the board here, I am convinced the Raiders will take him, because Oakland's run defense was dismal last year and got even more suspect with the retirement of Warren Sapp. With Dorsey projected to be gone before this pick, the choice comes down to the best pure playmaker in the draft – Gholston on the defensive side or running back Darren McFadden on the offensive side. The Raiders can't go wrong with either one of them, but considering that they signed LaMont Jordan in 2006 to a free-agent deal, signed Dominic Rhodes last year, extended Justin Fargas this year and like second-year back Michael Bush, adding yet another RB to that stable seems like overkill and a waste of money. Considering how much has already been invested in salary and signing bonuses to the other three, adding the kind of monster deal the No. 4 pick will command, it seems like far too much to invest in a position where only one of those guys is on the field at any given time. Gholston is a rare athlete that some believe will develop into one of the top pass rushers in the game – whether as a defensive end or a stand-up outside linebacker/pass-rush specialist. The Raiders could go with the conventional wisdom of some of the draft talking heads that says Al Davis loves offensive difference-makers, but if your defense has you behind by two touchdowns in every game, having Jim Brown and Walter Payton in the same backfield wouldn't make a difference.
5. Kansas City Chiefs 4 12 .516
Chris Long, DE, Virginia. If the draft lands this way, the Chiefs will be ecstatic because Long is the closest thing to Jared Allen in this draft and to land him with the fifth pick would be a coup. If the Rams and Falcons cut a deal where Atlanta moves to No. 2 and takes Glenn Dorsey and the Rams get an extra pick and Long at No. 3, it becomes much more dicey. It would be a pretty significant reach to go after Derrick Harvey here and they don't have a need for Darren McFadden considering how much has been invested in Larry Johnson. It seems pretty simple – if Long or Gholston are still on the board, they come off here. Otherwise, look for an offensive linemen to get taken in this spot, most likely someone like Branden Albert of Virginia. There were some thoughts that the Chiefs would wait until draft day to pull the trigger on an Allen deal because of just this concern. But if it works out this way and the Chiefs can land Long with the fifth pick, it will take a lot of the sting out of losing their franchise player.
6. New Yorks Jets 4 12 .523
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. Perhaps no team has addressed its most pressing needs in the offseason better than the Jets. They needed a defensive tackle and they got Kris Jenkins. They needed a linebacker and they signed Calvin Pace. They needed a right tackle and they signed Damien Woody. They needed a left guard and they signed Alan Faneca. Few teams have eliminated front-burner needs better than the Jets and, while they still have issues at linebacker and defensive end, they have given themselves the ability to swing for the fences on an Adrian Peterson-type pick in hopes of greatness. With veteran Thomas Jones already in the fold, McFadden won't be asked to take on too great a role initially, but like A.D., McFadden may find himself pushing the coaching staff to give him more opportunities based on his game-breaking ability. He could end up being the S.O.D. – Steal of the Draft – even at a premium pick.
7. New England Patriots (from 49ers) 5 11
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. The Patriots would be giddy if Gholston remains on the board and slides his way into their waiting arms, because the need for a hybrid pass rusher and outside linebacker like Willie McGinest in his prime is a front-burner priority. It would be just what the doctor ordered for a team that won 18 straight games a year ago and doesn't deserve too many breaks. But if Gholston is out of play and the Pats can't trade down from this spot, they need to address the areas of most concern. The primary area that would match need and draft talent would be cornerback, where the Patriots are trying to replace Asante Samuel, who bailed during free agency. The team has brought in a lot of underachievers and over-aged players for their secondary like Eugene Wilson, Fernando Bryant, Tank Williams and Jason Webster. Those guys were allowed to leave their former teams because they had little to no interest in keeping them. That should tell you something. The Patriots have held a hard line on free agency and, for the most part, have been able to get players to buy into the concept of playing for less with a very good chance of being part of NFL history and, as a result, having a better shot at becoming a Hall of Famer. Other members of the Patriots secondary like Ty Law were allowed to leave rather than pay out huge money and the Pats have survived with guys they picked up off the street and wide receiver Troy Brown playing in the secondary. But Samuel was typically assigned to shut down the main receiver for an opponent and, with him gone, the Patriots look much more vulnerable in the secondary. McKelvin has been bad-mouthed by some scouts for not facing top competition, but considering that Troy has produced defensive stars DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora in recent years, that fear has been greatly reduced. McKelvin could step in from Day One and keep the Patriots secondary from being a weak link.
8. Baltimore Ravens 5 11 .516
Branden Albert, T/G, Virginia. Albert has been the fastest-rising offensive lineman on draft boards in recent weeks because of his versatility and ability to play multiple positions well. The Ravens remain a run-first offense that needs to have the horses up front to compete and, without Steve McNair at quarterback, keeping the running game as strong as possible has to be a priority. The Ravens could be in the market to trade down out of this pick to allow a team to move up to No. 8 and grab DT Sedrick Ellis before the Bengals can get their hooks in him and, considering that Baltimore and Cincinnati are division rivals, anything that could hurt the Bengals more than they are already hurting themselves with in-fighting and grousing would be a huge help. Jonathan Ogden is showing the signs of age and the toll of injury, but he will be back for another season. This is ideal for Albert, who can spend his rookie year catching up to the speed of the NFL game and learning from one of the best at his position – all the while preparing to eventually replace him in the starting lineup as soon as he hangs up his cleats or goes down with another injury.
9. Cincinnati Bengals 7 9 .461
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC. The Bengals need help at both the tackle and end positions, but the signing of Antwan Odom probably drops the immediate need for a first-round selection at defensive end a bit to the back burner. Teams were able to move the ball consistently against the Bengals and they didn't generate a surge up the middle all season – allowing teams to double-up on Justin Smith, who left via free agency. With the multiple needs the Bengals have, it wouldn't be out of the question to see them trade down out of this spot, but the needs on defense, especially with a defensive-minded head coach like Marvin Lewis, has to start up front and, in this case, up the middle as well. The Bengals' attempts to make deals for Shaun Rogers and Dewayne Robertson shows an organizational willingness to concede a need at defensive tackle. Having failed in both those attempts, getting Ellis will be the charm on the third attempt. The team was happy with the performance of fourth-round rookie Domata Peko last year, but getting a wide-body like Ellis next to him could infuse enough talent into the D-line that it might no longer be such a huge liability as it has been in recent years. With the Chad Johnson situation reaching stalemate levels and the release of Chris Henry, it seems clear that wide receiver will need to be addressed, but not this early if a talent like Ellis is still on the board.
10. New Orleans Saints 7 9 .480
Keith Rivers, LB, USC. The Saints defense was hideous last year and steps have been taken to make improvements to it, such as the trade for middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and the signing of oft-injured Dan Morgan. While cornerback remains a distinct possibility here, the signing of Randall Gay from the Patriots to line up opposite Mike McKenzie likely diminishes the pressing need for a corner with the pick and opens the team up to take the best athlete that can fill a need. In a down year for linebackers in the draft, Rivers is the one standout and his value increases as a result. He's going to be a player teams in need will target, which could allow the Saints to move down if they choose. While the Saints have some good alternatives at cornerback in this spot, they may opt to wait a bit to fill that need and add a playmaker to the linebacker corps that can turn a 2007 weakness into a 2008 strength.
11. Buffalo Bills 7 9 .516
Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State. This is quite possibly going to be one of the most interesting draft spots in the first round. If a team is convinced a player they covet will go in the next few picks, they may jump up with a trade offer the Bills can't refuse. Picks out of the top 10 is where value can begin to be had by moving up. The Bills' war room phone may be ringing off the hook and, of all places for a trade down, this looks like one of the most logical spots. The Bills clearly want a wide receiver to line up opposite Lee Evans, as well as a chance to prevent eight-in-the-box defenses against Marshawn Lynch. In a year that is deep in wide receiver talent, why be the first to take a wide receiver when you can drop down a few slots and likely still get the player you have targeted? Until Malcolm Kelly threw his coaching and medical staff at Oklahoma under the bus, we had him pegged at this spot. Considering that Willis McGahee did the same thing to Buffalo and its fans so recently, it would make sense that organizational hard feelings would exist to players who spout such venom. While Thomas is far from a sure thing, his athleticism at a minimum will prevent Evans from being constantly double-teamed. If we ran the Bills, we would move down and stockpile an extra pick or two. But, if they stay here, Thomas gets the nod because the wound over McGahee hasn't scabbed over and the Bills might be wary of Kelly.
12. Denver Broncos 7 9 .516
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State. The Broncos' bread and butter has been running the ball during the entire Mike Shanahan era as the head coach. Last year, expectations were high when the team finally went outside the organization to bring in a running back that fit their system. But the result was that Travis Henry and the entire Broncos running game suffered and accomplished almost nothing on the ground. With Matt Lepsis retiring, it has created a vacancy that needs immediate filling. The Broncos aren't used to not making the playoffs, but it has become something of a trend. With two offensive tackles already off the board, if the Broncos don't act here, there could be a handful more gone by the time they get to the second round – making this pick a bigger must than any other positional pick. The trade for Dewayne Robertson likely takes defensive tackle off the top of the Denver wish list, but the team could still throw a curve ball. There is said to be a lot of interest in RB Jonathan Stewart, but the Broncos have never had a history of drafting running backs in the first round. Stewart could be available later in the round, so this could be an ideal place for the Broncos to trade down a few spots with a team looking for a defensive end that wants Derrick Harvey before the Panthers take him off the board at No. 13.
13. Carolina Panthers 7 9 .523
Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. A month ago, the biggest concern was at offensive tackle, where there were concerns about how Jordan Gross would respond to being franchised, and Travelle Wharton was set to become an unrestricted free agent. A month later, both have been signed to long-term deals, taking offensive tackle out of the equation. Now the biggest area of long-term need would be at defensive end or quarterback. If Brian Brohm makes it past Baltimore at No. 8, he could make this pick very interesting. Some have compared his skill level and commitment to that of Peyton Manning when he was coming out of Tennessee. While this is clearly hyperbole, the chance to get a franchise-type QB that can get a year to learn behind Jake Delhomme and compete for a starting spot when he's ready (not forced into action) would be huge for the franchise. But, for a team that has been predicated on defense, having just 23 sacks last year was unacceptable. Mike Rucker retired and Julius Peppers hasn't been able to stay healthy for a full season for a long time. Harvey would be able to step in early as a designated pass rusher on third downs and work his way into the starting lineup, because if history has taught us anything, it's that Rucker or Peppers or both will miss at least some time during the 2008 season.
14. Chicago Bears 7 9 .543
Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh. Everyone seems to think the Bears are going to take a quarterback, but their offense is predicated on running the ball, and strengthening the O-line will have to come first. While the Bears might be tempted to take Brian Brohm, their bread and butter has been being able to control the clock with a strong running game and making plays on defense. Running back could also be a possibility here because the faith the Bears had in Cedric Benson after trading Thomas Jones doesn't seem nearly as strong a year later. The Bears are only a year removed from a Super Bowl trip and blame much of their demise in 2007 to injuries. While that may just be an excuse, the one thing that clearly changed last season after years of consistency was the decline in the running game. That needs to get straightened out first if the Bears want to return to contention.
15. Detroit Lions
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois. The Lions have never addressed the rape trade made by the Broncos in which Detroit sent Dre Bly and received RB Tatum Bell and OT George Foster. Both were unqualified busts, but perhaps for no reason other than G.M. Matt Millen trying to retain what little remains of his dignity, both were re-signed to one-year deals. The Lions are playing the Tampa-2 card pretty hard this offseason, signing Brian Kelly to replace Fernando Bryant as the top corner on the roster and acquiring Leigh Bodden in a trade to help shore up a woefully weak cornerback position.. But the release of Kevin Jones has forced their hand to go with a new direction in the running game. Bell is not the answer and the Lions will get themselves a pair of fresh legs that can make their new offensive scheme in the post-Mike Martz era work for them. If one of the top offensive tackles should fall to them, that remains a legitimate option. But the only thing we can count on is that Millen won't take yet another wide receiver on the first round. While the Lions have pressing needs at defensive end and middle linebacker, Mendenhall can add too much to the offense immediately to pass him up at the 15th pick.
16. Arizona Cardinals 8 8 .434
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State. The Cardinals could easily look at running back with this pick because, despite spending a ton of cash to get Edgerrin James, they have learned the hard way that he moves the chains, but doesn't move the scoreboard like he used to. However, their investment in him is still in the early, painful stages, so addressing the most glaring needs are what is of primary importance. That means getting a cornerback that can line up against the other team's No. 1 receiver. Rod Hood and Eric Green are serviceable, but not top-end talents. Rodger-Cromartie could push for a starting job immediately and, while running back might be viewed as a first-round need, unless the secondary of the Cardinals improves, they will continue to be on the outside looking in at playoff time.
17. Kansas City (from Minnesota) 8 8 .504
Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt. Having addressed their greatest immediate need with replacing Jared Allen at pick No. 5, the Chiefs use the first of the three draft picks they received from the Vikings to address their next pressing need. The Chiefs offense has been predicated on running the ball since Priest Holmes came over from the Ravens in a trade several years ago. The offensive line was always one of the best of the league, but age, free agency and attrition have taken their toll and the line is in need of an overhaul. Williams would likely be a starter from Day One and give the Chiefs two players that can stand up in the trenches and help them improve on both sides of the ball. If, however, the Chiefs weren't able to get a defensive end with the fifth pick and had to go O-line at No. 5, expect to see DE addressed here – either with the selection of Phillip Merling from Clemson or Calais Campbell of Miami. We are projecting more of a run on offensive linemen early than a lot of draft analysts, but the talent level drops quickly, making those teams in need of O-line help feel they have to act quickly or they could miss the boat completely.
18. Houston Texans 8 8 .516
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon. This pick could be one of the big wild cards of the first round. The Texans quietly had one of their best seasons with an 8-8 record, but were 1-5 in the AFC South and finished last in the division while the other three all made the playoffs. One of the reasons was inconsistent play in the secondary. Cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a severe knee injury that may linger into the 2008 season, making cornerback a front-burner priority. With a chance to grab an offensive playmaker like wide receiver DeSean Jackson of Cal to line up opposite Andre Johnson, the Texans offense could become much more explosive, making wide receiver a consideration. A difference-maker like Miami safety Kenny Phillips could improve the middle of the weak Texans secondary. But in the final analysis, the decision to invest millions in Ahman Green was a huge mistake. His durability is all but shot, and without a running game the Texans were dead in the water in many games. The signing of Chris Brown is by no means a long-term fix because, like Green, he has a long injury history. If the Texans are to succeed, they need a running game they can count on. Stewart is a slashing back that can be worked into the lineup early to spell Green, but, when the inevitable happens and Green goes down to nagging injuries, the Texans offense won't automatically become one-dimensional like it did last year, settling for field goals and punts instead of touchdowns.
19. Philadelphia Eagles 8 8 .563
Limas Sweed, WR, Texas. If one of the top-rated offensive linemen in the draft should fall beyond where we have them going, this could very well be the direction the Eagles go in. The team has a history of using high picks on linemen and waiting until later rounds to address other areas of need. But the team has sent clear signals this offseason that it is in need of an upgrade at wide receiver – starting talks that got the Patriots off Square One in giving Randy Moss a new deal and being rumored to have an interest in both Larry Fitzgerald and Chad Johnson when they got to complaining about their current contract status. The Eagles tackles are both over 30 and, while nothing is imminent about their demise, the handwriting is on the wall that the end may be coming sooner than later. But, if the top O-tackles are off the board, they no longer become a value pick. Some believe Sweed will slip deep into the second round because of his injury past, but he is a talent that could step in immediately and give the Eagles an offensive upgrade that has been missing since Terrell Owens was run out of town.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 7 .469
Malcolm Kelly WR, Oklahoma. If either Stewart or Mendenhall makes it to this point, they will get strong consideration because there are some serious questions as to whether Cadillac Williams will ever return to his old form, and Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett are merely short-term answers to that problem. But the biggest need for the Bucs in their quest to repeat as division champions is at wide receiver. Joey Galloway has been productive, but he is getting old and fellow starter Ike Hilliard has lost a step and is entering the twilight of his career. Kelly was our top-rated receiver until he threw his entire coaching and medical staff under the bus and blamed everyone but himself for his poor 40 times at his OU workout. When given a chance to run later on a faster surface, the numbers didn't improve much. But in the Jon Gruden offense, blazing speed is not a requirement. He got a ton of production for years out of Jerry Rice and Tim Brown when both were well beyond their prime. The Tampa Bay offense is predicated on running precise routes and catching everything thrown at you. Kelly fits that bill nicely. He is not going to burn past defenders, but he is a very solid choice at this spot and has all the ability he needs to step in as an immediate contributor and be groomed as Galloway's eventual replacement as the go-to guy in the Bucs' passing offense.
21. Washington Redskins 9 7 .555
Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson. This pick could still end up in the hands of the Bengals if they have a change of heart in taking a hard stance with Chad Johnson. It is clear that the relationship between the Bengals and Ocho Cinco has reached critical mass. The Bengals have said they won't listen to offers. Johnson has said he will never play for them again. Under ordinary circumstances, that would mean that the team would have little in the way of leverage, but the fact the Redskins are offering a first- and third-round pick that could become another first-rounder if Johnson catches 95 passes in 2008 may be too much to pass up when the offer is extended again. But, regardless of whether the Redskins or Bengals end up with the pick, each would likely use it on Merling – viewed as the last of the true blue-chip defensive ends in the draft. After this, the DEs on the board have flaws that will have some saying they're projects or boom-bust types. Merling is a solid run-stopping DE with some pass-rush skills and, with the aging DEs (Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter) the Redskins are currently trotting out, an infusion of young talent in desperately needed.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Browns) 10 6 .430
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas. With the recent trade for Pacman Jones eliminating the need to add another cornerback early, the Cowboys might try to roll the dice if Darren McFadden falls out of the top five and offer up both first-round picks (22 and 28) to the Jets or Patriots to get the dynamic running back. But, if they don't, they have the option of going with a running back or a wide receiver here. It would seem the likelihood of Dallas missing out on Jones with their second pick makes it more likely they will use this pick on running back and their next pick on wide receiver. Either way, Dallas is going to come away from the first round with some additional offensive weapons – either a big splash by trading up to get McFadden or using two picks to get an explosive running back to team up with Marion Barber and a wide receiver to groom as an eventual replacement for Terrell Owens and/or Terry Glenn.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers 10 6 .414
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College. The Steelers have a ton of questions on the offensive line and would be ecstatic if somehow G/T combo Branden Albert fell to them in this spot. But we have him long since gone and the problems on the O-line for the Steelers continue. Marvel Smith is adequate at best at left tackle and neither Willie Colon nor Max Starks are viewed as positives on the right side. That, combined with the free agent loss of Alan Faneca, could have the Steelers looking at the offensive line with more than one of its top three or four picks this weekend. Cherilus is 6-foot-6 and 314 pounds and most scouts believe he could step in as a starting right tackle from Day One and be groomed to eventually take over at left tackle. With the money the team invested in Ben Roethlisberger in the offseason, the top priority now has to be protecting him and keeping him healthy. Cherilus is a big first step in that process. The Steelers could throw a curveball and go after a running back if one they like is still on the board to serve as a complement to speedy Willie Parker or go after a run-stuffing 3-4 defensive tackle prospect like Kentwan Balmer. This pick is by no means a lock.
24. Tennessee Titans 10 6 .453
DeSean Jackson, WR, California. Jackson could be the wild card of the first round and could go much earlier than this for a team that envisions a Devin Hester-type of difference-maker or last into the second round because of his rail-thin build that some believe won't hold up under the strain of the NFL. There has been a lot of discussion that the Titans will go defensive end after Antwan Odom signed away with the Bengals, but if the Titans are to succeed long-term, they need to give Vince Young more targets than they have to date. Jackson is one of the true explosive playmakers available on draft day and his return ability makes him doubly important. With Pacman Jones traded to Dallas, there may be a push to take one of the top remaining cornerbacks with this pick. But, until Young gets playmakers at the receiver position that can make a difference – Roydell Williams isn't a legitimate No. 1 receiver – getting someone who can make big plays every time he touches the ball becomes essential.
25. Seattle Seahawks 10 6 .500
Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina. A month ago, defensive tackle wasn't the primary need, but like the Jets in the AFC, the Seahawks have spent the offseason addressing their major deficiencies in the free agent market. The team spent to re-sign Sean Locklear at right tackle, signed veteran guard Mike Wahle to fill the void vacated by Steve Hutchinson, added both Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett to make Shaun Alexander expendable and even addressed TE with a mid-level signing of Jeb Putzier. The defensive front has been vulnerable in the middle the last couple of years and Balmer would go a long way to helping the Seahawks remain the top dog in the NFC West. Few teams have attacked their weaknesses this offseason better than the Seahawks, and Balmer would be the cherry on top of the sundae.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars 10 6 .516
Calais Campbell, DE, Miami. The Jaguars have never been shy about drafting players that are viewed as freaks of nature. They have taken running backs that are too small, converted quarterbacks as wide receivers and a lot of players from small schools that haven't faced top competition. Campbell would likely fit into that mold. A massive 6-7 DE that has a lot of the same tools Chris Doleman brought to the league when he came out in the draft, Campbell has been viewed as an underachiever who has never lived up to his hype. That is enough to scare away a lot of teams, but not the Jaguars. They seem to thrive on that type of player and, considering their number of playoff appearances in recent years, it's hard to argue with their way of thinking. Wide receiver remains an option, but the veteran additions of Jerry Porter and former Viking laughingstock Troy Williamson likely will push that need to the back burner and allow Campbell to get his chance to make an impact.
27. San Diego Chargers 11 5 .500
Baltimore Ravens (from San Diego) – Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville. The Chargers have just one pick before the fifth round and this would allow the Ravens to move up from the eighth pick of the second round – moving ahead of Miami and Kansas City and protecting themselves from having another team like Carolina trying to trade up in front of them. For their trouble, the Chargers would add a pair of fourth-round picks to go with the Ravens' pick at No. 8 in the second round and give them a reason to remain interested draft weekend. Brohm has been a prospect that has seen his stock fall since he played his last game – it has nothing to do with his skill or ability. He has the potential to be a good NFL quarterback, something that can't be said about Kyle Boller – who has been given more than enough opportunities and failed at every turn. It could be a win-win for both teams – giving the Ravens a QB to groom under former QB coach John Harbaugh and the Chargers a couple of extra picks to tweak some of their own need areas.
28. Dallas Cowboys 11
Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan. Manningham is seen as something of a bad boy, but that would appear to fit in perfectly with the Cowboys, who have become this generation's version of the Raiders. A cocky player with very good hands and route-running ability, he is not a blazer, but has toughness and makes all the tough catches, especially at the biggest time of games. With all the attention being paid to Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn, Manningham won't be asked to be the go-to receiver immediately. He can be used as a third receiver that is being single-covered by a safety or nickel back. He and Tony Romo will be given time to build a rapport together and, when the time comes that Glenn and/or T.O. leaves Big D, Manningham will be ready to step in and take over.
29. San Francisco 49ers (from Colts)
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida. The conventional wisdom is that the Niners will go with a wide receiver here, but the value that Jenkins can provide should outweigh that possibility. He is a good athlete who, matched up with Nate Clements, could give the 49ers one of the best one-two punches at cornerback in the league. Wide receiver remains a distinct possibility, but if the Niners are looking at a value pick, Jenkins is the guy who best suits that need.
30. Green Bay Packers 13 3 .496
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas. The Packers are going to be a team in transition next year with Brett Favre out of the picture. But, for a team that was hosting the NFC Championship Game in January, it was clear they are doing a lot of things right. While help may be more pressing along the offensive line, the Packers have to look more long-term with their only pick in the first 55 selections – the team has the 56th and 60th picks near the end of the second round.. The team has a pair of strong corners in Al Harris and Charles Woodson, but Harris will be 34 and Woodson will be 32 – ages where even the top corners seem to hit a wall and lose a step. Being able to learn under two of the masters of the secondary will help Jenkins immeasurably as the Packers prepare for the transition at the position. It was clear Favre still had gas in the tank when the team took Aaron Rodgers three years ago, so the same line of thinking may well be in place as it pertains to the cornerback position. The Packers are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, but not here, so getting an infusion of young talent like Talib can push Woodson and Harris to ramp up their games a notch and give the Packers some valuable insurance if either of them goes down to injury. Talib's admission to testing positive for marijuana at the Combine doesn't help his case, but if the Packers are convinced he is repentant and won't be a repeat offender, he could be a great value pick here.
31. New York Giants 13 3 .516
Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee. The Giants defense has always been based on strong linebacker play and, despite winning the Super Bowl last year, that wasn't the case. The linebackers for the Giants have been a revolving door in recent years as veterans are brought in with the hope of recapturing former glory that never seems to happen. Mayo is a fast-riser we had slated for the Vikings in the second round not too long ago, but his positive buzz should have him off the board here with the last pick in the first round.
Patriots lost their original pick for illegally using sideline videotape. Second Round Mock Draft

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