Mock Draft, Round 2 - Version 4.0

After six versions of the first round of our mock draft, we revealed our (somewhat) educated stabs at the nearly unpredictable second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Now, we come up with our third revision to round two.

SECOND-ROUND OVERVIEW: Most of the focus on draft weekend is typically reserved for the first round, but with the Vikings out of the round thanks to the Jared Allen trade, much more focus will be put on the second round. The Vikings will have just one pick on the first day and the team likely will have to wait between five and six hours from the start of the draft before they are finally on the clock. This is something new for the Vikings, who haven't been without a first-round pick since the Herschel Walker trade debacle that finally came to an end in 1992, when the last of those selections came off the board. While there has been a lot of discussion that the 2008 draft is largely devoid of premium talent, there are a lot of second-round type players that will be available and a lot of future NFL starters will come out of this group. For those teams that ignored need to take the best athlete in the first round, this round will be much more in the nuts-and-bolts variety – teams taking players to fill immediate needs that were not adequately addressed in free agency. Once again, we are projecting a trade in the second round that could have a big impact on the draft, so there may be some changes that will affect who will be available when the Vikings finally are on the clock.

No. Club
1. Miami Dolphins
Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware. The Dolphins have addressed a lot of needs in free agency and already have first overall pick Jake Long locked down. Just because Matt Ryan didn't receive any serious consideration with the first overall pick doesn't mean that the Dolphins are going to ignore this position. The Dolphins have had a revolving door at quarterback since Dan Marino retired and nothing has seemingly changed in that regard. The team used a second-round pick in 2007 to take John Beck, but he was a Bill Parcells selection. Flacco has incredible arm strength and can be groomed for a year and make a run at competing for the starting job in 2009. Parcells has already molded this team in his own image and his history has always been to start a rebuilding process by bringing in a QB he likes. Flacco may well be that guy and a value pick in the second round that won't cost an arm and a leg.
2. St. Louis Rams
James Hardy, WR, Indiana. There are probably some wide receivers that may be rated higher and there is some talk that this position will get downgraded because of the number of decent wide receivers that are in this draft. If the first round sees a drop in wideouts, the second round could be loaded with selections here. Hardy is a big receiver who can create mismatches anywhere on the field. The Rams weren't happy with the production they got from Drew Bennett last year and Isaac Bruce was released. Hardy could be a great fit here because most of the pressure from defenses will be geared toward Torry Holt and could create a lot of one-on-one mismatches for Hardy.
3. Atlanta Falcons (from Oakland)
Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech. I've never been a fan of using a pick obtained to replace a star player with another player at the same position, but the Falcons have two of the next four picks and won't want to risk leaving behind a playmaking cornerback that can make an immediate impact. This is a solid cornerback class and a couple have slipped out of the first round that could easily end up being taken. If the Falcons could lock down a franchise QB and a stud replacement for departed DeAngelo Hall, the image makeover the team is the middle of could also correspond with a talent makeover.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma. Having addressed Jared Allen's replacement and offensive line problems in the first round, the Chiefs go after their most pressing defensive need. Ty Law slowed considerably last year and was released following the season and Patrick Surtain looks to be heading in the same direction. Smith could come in as a nickel back, but with his experience and playing for a big-time program in which he faced some of the top wide receivers in the college game, his transition to the starting lineup could be relatively smooth and seamless.
5. New York Jets
Dan Connor, LB, Penn State. Connor's calling card is his versatility. With the Jets trading away Jonathan Vilma for defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, they have a need for an inside linebacker that is a better fit in their 3-4 defense, where bulk strength isn't as much of a top priority. Connor's experience playing both inside and outside is a huge plus for a Jets defense that needs to recapture some of its glory from 2006 and not the performance that made them a draft lottery team this year. With the addition of Darren McFadden to give the team some explosion to the offense, getting a solid tackler with a passion for the game like Connor can fill the void left by the Vilma trade.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Sam Baker, OT, USC. Having already landed a quarterback and cover cornerback to replace Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall, respectively, the Falcons fill yet another need that killed them in 2007. Starters Todd Weiner and Wayne Gandy are both beyond their prime and have injury concerns. With neither of them locks to hold up for a full season, Baker could push early for a starting job and end up starting whether it's the initial preseason plan or not.
7. Baltimore Ravens
San Diego Chargers (from Baltimore) – Kenny Phillips, S, Miami. The Chargers moved out of their first-round spot (in our projection, anyway) to get a couple of picks in the fourth round because they didn't have a pick scheduled until the fifth round heading into draft weekend. The team doesn't have a lot of screaming needs and there is the possibility that they could go for an offensive tackle like Sam Baker if he is still on the board or for a running back to replace Michael Turner. But the one weakness of the Chargers defense in recent years has been at safety. The team traded away a bunch of picks to move up in the second round last year to take Eric Weddle. By taking Phillips, they will have a pair of young, talented safeties that will help out star corners Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer to turn what was viewed as a weakness just a year ago potentially into a strength. The need here increased with the release of Marlon McCree after the season and he was never adequately replaced.
8. San Francisco 49ers
Quentin Groves, OLB/DE, Auburn. The Niners struck gold last year with Patrick Willis, who was Defensive Rookie of the Year as an inside linebacker. With the signing of Dontarrious Thomas, they have solidified the inside LB position and now turn their attention to the outside. Groves was viewed as mid-first round prospect heading into last year, but injuries limited his production and he has dropped on some lists. But that doesn't take away his ability as a very fast and productive pass rusher. He primarily played defensive end in college, but is a glove fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense like the 49ers run. He has been given the tag as being a boom-or-bust prospect, but his upside is considerable and he could be one of the draft steals this year. If he should slide down to the Vikings, don't be surprised to see Minnesota make him their only Day One pick.
9. New Orleans Saints
Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State. Trade talks between the Saints and Giants have been heating up about the G-Men moving Jeremy Shockey, who has always been a volatile player who has had more than his share of ups and downs with management. His injury history and big contract are concerns and, combined with him being salty about how he was portrayed when the Giants made their Super Bowl run without him, he has become a prime candidate to be one of the veterans moved on draft day. He has been linked with the Saints for the last several weeks and this could be a win-win for both teams. Johnson has been a fast-rising prospect after a tremendous showing at the Combine and, paired with first-round pick Jerod Mayo, would give an immediate boost to the Giants defense. The free-agent loss of Gibril Wilson was not addressed in free agency and this could help keep the Giants strong in the secondary in a division where the ball flies around a lot and having strong secondary is a must.
10. Buffalo Bills
Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona. The Bills have lost Antoine Winfield and Nate Clements over the last three years and haven't done enough to turn that weakness back into a strength. The trio of Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer are average, Ashton Youboty hasn't done much to establish himself, the team cut Kiwaukee Thomas and Jason Webster left as a free agent. This is a position that has been an Achilles Heel for awhile and one that needs addressing immediately.
11. Denver Broncos
Marcus Harrison, DT, Arkansas. It seems like every year the Broncos have done something to shake up the defensive interior of the team, yet have never found the right combination. If Sedrick Ellis could have fallen to them in the first round, you can bet Denver would have snapped him up. Alvin McKinley and Marcus Thomas are serviceable, but not the kind of interior linemen that can change games. In a class that is pretty weak at the DT spot, if the Broncos don't act now, they may not have another chance to get a player here that can make an impact either now or down the line. Harrison may take some time, but his production against the run is needed in a division that boasts LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and possibly Darren McFadden after draft weekend.
12. Carolina Panthers
Chad Henne, QB, Michigan. The Panthers got by last year with injury-prone Jake Delhomme, 94-year-old Vinny Testaverde, Uberbust David Carr and undrafted rookie Matt Moore. Delhomme remains an injury risk and both Vinny and Carr are gone. Henne is a four-year starter in a pro-style offense that won't have a huge learning curve to make the next step if Delhomme snaps like a dry twig again this year and Henne gets the call. Just as there will be potential movement in front of the Panthers in the first round by a team that covets Derrick Harvey, the same could happen to the Panthers here, as teams looking at a young project quarterback may want to move into Buffalo's or Denver's spot to snag him. Henne likely isn't going to be a great NFL quarterback, but you can't buy the type of experience he has (a four-year starter at Michigan) and he could be a nice insurance policy for Delhomme that the Panthers didn't have last year.
13. Chicago Bears
Early Doucet, WR, LSU. Ideally, the Bears would like to see one of the three Tier 2 quarterbacks – Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco or Chad Henne – make it to this spot, but in lieu of that, the team needs to address its other problems on offense. The team tried to make an 11th-hour run to re-sign Bernard Berrian, but that didn't work out and he went to the rival Vikings. Muhsin Muhammad wouldn't take a pay cut and was released, leaving an already thin receiver corps looking downright dismal. Some scouts believe Doucet is one of the top wide receivers available in this year's draft and could step in immediately and be a starter for the Bears. One of the reasons we have him lasting so long is that he comes from an offense that used multiple receivers and he was never asked to be the go-to guy. But, beggars can't be choosers. The Bears have a glaring need and Doucet would be a nice fit in addressing that problem.
14. Detroit Lions
Curtis Lofton, LB, Oklahoma. The Lions defense was almost devoid of playmakers last year, which led to their monumental second-half collapse after starting the season 6-2. Lofton is an athlete first that can find a spot in the lineup. The current plan for the Lions defense is to move Paris Lenon outside and seek out a true middle linebacker to play over the center. But Lofton's ability to make plays and chase down plays from sideline to sideline could be an ideal match with the Tampa-2 defense the Lions now use. Some scouts believe he can be an inside linebacker, but teamed with Lenon and 2006 first-rounder Ernie Sims, the Lions could improve their defense from the middle out. That being said, just about every position on the Lions defense could use some form of upgrade.
15. Cincinnati Bengals
Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida. This wasn't a need area at the end of the 2007 season, but with the release of Chris Henry and the acrimony between the Bengals organization and Chad Johnson – we're still not 100 percent convinced that the Bengals won't blink and accept a pretty sweet offer from the Redskins to trade him – help is now needed desperately here. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but with Henry and the likelihood that Johnson won't be around either could be enough to force the hand of the Bengals. In the past few years, their primary strength has been on offense. Keeping that aspect of their game strong, especially in an improving AFC North, they need playmakers. Caldwell will never be as dynamic a receiver as Johnson, but if Johnson makes good on his threat not to play for the Bengals, they will have to replace him somehow.
16. Minnesota Vikings
Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech. The Vikings would love to see an impact linebacker like Jerod Mayo or Quentin Groves fall to this spot or even one of the playmaking receivers or a safety like Kenny Phillips. But, having already taken strides to fill their most glaring needs in the offseason (defensive end, wide receiver and safety), the Vikings can use their only pick in the first three rounds to go after a player that can be a long-term need-filler. There are a lot of questions about the future of Matt Birk at center and what the team will do with right tackle Ryan Cook. While some believe Cook is too tall to play center in the NFL, he could be moved back to his college position, which would create an opening at right tackle. Brown has the ideal measurables for a right tackle (6-4¼, 315) and has tremendous athleticism, which he showed off nicely at the East-West Shrine Game. He played right tackle as a sophomore and junior and was moved to left tackle as a senior, so his versatility could come into play if the Vikings are forced to be without Bryant McKinnie for an extended period – he has been the subject of potential league-mandated suspension rumors since his arrest last month in a bar fight in Florida. While not as big a name as some of the other OT prospects, Brown is consistently graded as one of the better prospects and could develop into a solid pro if coached properly and brought along at the right pace.
17. Atlanta Falcons (from Houston)
Beau Bell, LB, UNLV. With two picks already in this round, the Falcons have been able to address some of their pressing concerns by addressing quarterback, cornerback and offensive tackle. With this pick, obtained in the Matt Schaub trade last year, they can go to "making things right" for the Falcons defense. For the last two years, Keith Brooking has played out of position at middle linebacker. Bell is non-stop pursuer who plays angry and some scouts believe is the best inside linebacker in this year's draft. If he can come anywhere close to those expectations, Brooking can be moved back to weakside and, along with emerging SLB Michael Boley, the Falcons' linebacker corps could go from being just decent to being very good.
18. Philadelphia Eagles
DaJuan Morgan, S, North Carolina State. This is an area of need because starter Brian Dawkins is 35 and has shown the signs of age and injuries in recent years, and Sean Considine is often picked on by quarterbacks because he can look awful at times. Morgan is one of the top free safeties available in this year's draft and could be groomed to be Dawkins' replacement, because the end of the line looks a lot closer for Dawkins heading into this season than it may have a year or two ago.
19. Arizona Cardinals
Chris Ellis, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech. Ellis is a perfect match for the hybrid defense of the Cardinals, where he be can used as a defensive end in 4-3 formations and as a pass-rushing linebacker in the 3-4 base set. His value to other teams might be diminished somewhat because he's viewed as a ‘tweener in many 4-3 schemes, but he is a glove fit with the Cardinals, who lost LBs Calvin Pace and Darryl Blackstock in free agency.
20. Washington Redskins
Jordy Nelson, WR, Kansas State. Nelson is an ideal fit in the Redskins system because he is big (6-2¾, 217) and is fearless going over the middle. The Redskins' primary receivers – Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El – are undersized players who are dangerous in the open field but offer little in the red zone and don't create mismatches in close quarters when defensive backs jam them at the line. Nelson had very good showings at the Senior Bowl and Combine and solidified himself as a second-round pick. For a team that has made its living on getting big plays from small receivers, finally having a big man to complement them could be as valuable as any pick the Redskins make in this year's draft.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers. There are some serious concerns about whether Cadillac Williams will ever return, making the running back position much more of an issue heading into the future. The team has cobbled together a backfield that includes aging speedsters Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett to complement between-the-tackles rusher Earnest Graham. Rice may be undersized, but has many of the same types of intangibles that made Charlie Garner a star with the Raiders in the Jon Gruden era. He averaged more than five yards a carry in each of his three seasons and has rushed for 40 touchdowns the last two seasons. He would be the type of player that could demand more opportunities as the year goes on and he works his way up the depth chart.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC. Jackson has an ideal combination of skills for the type of 3-4 defense the Steelers run, as well as the ability to be a 4-3 defensive end if Mike Tomlin eventually incorporates his own Cover-2 style of defense. Of all the defensive ends available at this point, Jackson has the ideal frame to add weight and bulk to be a five-technique DE in a 3-4 set and could pay immediate dividends. The team has an excellent nose tackle in Casey Hampton and a solid left end in Aaron Smith. Right end is a problem area, with Brett Keisel, Ryan McBean and free agent castoff Travis Kirschke not looking like ideal solutions to improving that situation. Jackson could be worked into the lineup as his development progresses and he could end up being a full-time starter by season's end.
23. Tennessee Titans
Chilo Rachal, G, USC. Veteran Benji Olson decided to retire and free-agent signee Jake Scott doesn't look like a long-term answer. Rachal has been solid in a big-time program and shouldn't take too long to develop into a viable NFL starter. With a priority being put on trying to give Vince Young more weapons, it all starts by protecting him up front. The Titans seem to be set at tackle with Michael Roos and David Stewart, and Kevin Mawae is strong at center. Rachal could have been a first-rounder had he stayed for his senior season, but if groomed properly could be a nice pick at this draft position for a team in need of upgrading at guard.
24. Seattle Seahawks
Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue. The Seahawks have tried to get production from the tight end spot for some time with spotty results at best. Tight ends have been a first-round regularity in recent years, but this year's crop likely won't go that high – which is good news for the Seahawks. Mike Holmgren has always stressed stretching the middle of the field with the tight end in his model of the West Coast Offense. Keller, who caught 124 passes over the last two seasons, fits the M.O. of what Holmgren is searching for in a tight end. To get him this late would be a blessing, since some think the team might even pull the trigger on a TE (probably Keller) in the first round. Clearly, we don't share that high opinion of the tight end class of 2008.
25. Green Bay Packers (from Cleveland)
Erin Henderson, LB, Maryland. There is talk around Green Bay that current guards Jason Spitz and Darryn Colledge will be moving to center and tackle respectively, which could make guard a distinct possibility here, especially if there is someone they like a lot still on the board. But teams become Super Bowl contenders by being dominant at specific positions. The Packers already have two top-end young linebackers in A.J. Hawk on the outside and Nick Barnett in the middle. The addition of a tackler like Henderson could give the Packers a trio of solid linebackers for the foreseeable future – which could make the 11th-ranked defense in the NFL even stronger.
26. Miami Dolphins (from San Diego)
Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn. Using a pick received from the Chargers in the Chris Chambers trade, the Dolphins need to attack one of their most vulnerable positions. Will Allen is not the answer, free-agent signee Nathan Jones was a Bill Parcells' favorite in Dallas, but is viewed by most as a nickel back. On the other side, neither Michael Lehan nor Travis Daniels brings much to the table. Miami has done a tremendous job at improving themselves in free agency and through the draft at multiple positions – defensive tackle, offensive tackle, guard, linebacker and quarterback – but, as of yet, have done almost nothing to make their cornerback position stronger. Lee is the type of physical corner that would fit in well with the defense the Dolphins are bringing in and could be an excellent value pick at this point of the draft, as Miami continues to overhaul its franchise on the fly.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pat Sims, DT, Auburn. The Jaguars have depth issues at defensive tackle alongside John Henderson. The team was willing to give Jimmy Kennedy a one-year option to re-claim his career, but the Jags are known for running a defensive line rotation that requires three or four tackles and ends to interchange. Having addressed the need at defensive end in the first round, Sims provides a chance to improve the tackle position as well with Marcus Stroud out of the picture. While the Jags could look in other directions here, Sims is a solid value pick that will help keep the hallmark of Jacksonville teams – a strong defense that brings a lot of heat from the defensive line – intact.
28. Indianapolis Colts
Kevin Smith, RB, Central Florida. This is the Colts' first pick and there will be a sentiment to go with defense on the first pick. But Indy has won double-digit games each of the last several seasons because it has been able to keep the shelves stocked for Peyton Manning and their blue-ribbon offense. Two years ago they found Joseph Addai at the end of the first round and last year they snagged WR Anthony Gonzalez. The team may have more pressing needs, but the toll of not having a complementary runner to offset Addai was painfully evident last year. Kenton Keith did a solid job in relief, but Smith is a between-the-tackles bruiser that is an ideal complement to Addai's slashing style. The Colts have learned they don't have to air out the ball constantly to win. Smith can be an ideal change-of-pace back that can help pick up tough yards and work the clock as the Colts look to return to the Super Bowl this year.
29. Green Bay Packers
Fred Davis, TE, USC. With their second pick of the second round, the Packers can look to add a weapon on offense after using their top two picks on defense. Aaron Rodgers is sure to face a lot of heat from opposing defenses and finding a player like Davis, who is adept at finding the soft spot in zones and a quick release to react to blitzes, will be a big bonus. With the release of Bubba Franks, there is little in the way of depth behind starter Donald Lee and Davis would be a nice addition to a team that is set at most positions.
30. Dallas Cowboys
Jeremy Zuttah, G/C, Rutgers. The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but the weakest link is at left guard, where Kyle Kosier is a marginal talent. Depth is thin at both guard and center, with Joe Berger as the top backup at both guard spots and Corey Proctor as the backup center. Zuttah brings the flexibility to be an immediate upgrade at backup to both positions and could push Kosier for his starting job if he has a strong preseason. As if the Cowboys needed any more help in this year's draft, Zuttah could help provide depth at two positions right away and potentially push for a starting job out of the gate.
31. New England Patriots
Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana. You don't lose Asante Samuel without feeling the sting. The Patriots have tried to address the loss, but the additions of Plan B types Fernando Bryant, Jason Webster and Lewis Sanders don't address the core issue. Few players worked as hard at the Senior Bowl as he did and he turned a lot of heads. The Patriots have been famous for getting the most of players that don't have the measurables that leap off the page and, while he isn't viewed as a top-end, shutdown corner, he has all the ability to make a lot of good things happen.
32. New York Giants
Xavier Adibi, LB, Virginia Tech. The Giants lost both Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor in the offseason – not to mention having strongside starter Mathias Kiwanuka coming off a broken leg suffered last year. There are very few glaring deficiencies on the Giants team, but linebacker depth has to be a concern. While they may prefer to see someone like Dan Connor fall to them, Adibi has drawn comparisons to Lance Briggs, and if he can come anywhere close to that kind of production the once-vaunted Giants LB corps would get a much-needed shot in the arm. First Round Mock Draft

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