Instead of doing what everyone else does and revising a mock draft a bunch of times, I've decided to take the approach of doing one take but waiting until the last minute. Does that mean the DudeSpin Mock Draft will be any more accurate than any other one? Hell no! There's always some team out there that's determined to thumb their noses at the mock drafters of the world (see Miami Dolphins, 2007 edition), seemingly unaware that they're also hurting their teams, and in some cases, costing people their jobs.
Be that as it may, here's one humble draft junkie's take on what may unfold later today. Note that I won't even pretend to try to forecast trades, because it's virtually impossible to do that. Just know that there will be some, and in the cases of certain teams I think will be trying harder than others to move up/down, I'll note that.
Without further ado:
1. Miami Dolphins
Who they should take: Long
The Dolphins drained some of the suspense out of the first pick of the Tuna Era by signing Long to a contract during the week. He grades out as a franchise-caliber tackle, the kind few teams have but every team longs for - no pun intended. It's a safe, logical pick, but almost requires the Fins to consider a QB in the second round, because John Beck doesn't look like the answer right now.
2. St. Louis Rams
Who they should take: Long or Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
This looks like the first of several picks that have caused disagreements among team staffs. In this case, ESPN's Todd McShay and others are reporting that coach Scott Linehan wants Dorsey and the rest of the brain trust wants Long. I hate to go against McShay, who really knows his stuff, but with Adam Carriker bulking up to DT size, I'm guessing the Rams go with Long and move Carriker inside. Or possibly they will remember their poor track record using high picks on tackles and be scared off of Dorsey.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Who they should take: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Atlanta appears to be leaning toward Brian Brohm as their QB of choice instead of Ryan. The trouble is, there's no guarantee he'll still be there when they pick again at 34. That's not an indictment of taking Dorsey, simply a warning of what happens if this move backfires and fans in the ATL have to watch new acquisition Michael Turner get five years taken off of his career running against eight-man fronts all season. Falcons, you've been warned.
4. Oakland Raiders
Who they should take: McFadden, unless Chris Long or Dorsey are still on the board
The best hope for the Raiders is that the Falcons take Ryan and allow Long or Dorsey to drop to them, because the d-line is their biggest need area. I'm assuming that won't happen, and unless they're in love with Sedrick Ellis, they will draft McFadden. That will make Al Davis happy for sure, but depress the vocal Jets fans attending the draft who are hoping McFadden falls to them. Late word is that the Raiders are listening to trade offers for this pick as well.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Who they should take: Clady, Ryan or Vernon Gholston, DE/LB, Ohio State
Could the Chiefs be thinking about Ryan? It's possible they'd bail on Brodie Croyle this soon, but not likely. They also need pass rush help after trading away Jared Allen, but they can take care of that later in the round. Offensive tackle is K.C.'s biggest need area so this pick makes sense. Some mock drafts have Branden Albert ahead of Clady, so don't be shocked if that happens.
6. New York Jets
Who they should take: Gholston or a cornerback
I think the buzz about the Jets wanting McFadden is legitimate, but I doubt they'd trade up to do it. They would be perfectly happy sitting here and taking Gholston assuming he's available. Corner is also a need area, but pass rush should be a bigger priority and Gholston offers better value than any of the top corners in any case. Watch out for the team picking behind them, the Patriots, to offer a trade to the Jets or a team above them if they have their heart set on Gholston.
7. New England Patriots
Who they should take: Does it matter? The Pats always know what they're doing on draft day
New England rarely goes for need, almost always taking the most talented player left regardless of position. So while linebacker or corner could be the pick, I have a hunch the Pats will feel Ellis is the top player on the board at this point. As always, New England is at the center of many trade rumors, even though you'd think the other NFL teams would be wary of getting fleeced again after it seems to happen every season.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Who they should take: Ryan or Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
Scouts aren't unanimously enamored with Ryan, but with Steve McNair's retirement, this pick almost makes too much sense not to happen. I should note that if the Ravens think Brohm will be better - and there's nothing to suggest they do - they should take him here. Some may blast them for doing it, but so what? There's not as much separating Ryan and Brohm as some would have you believe.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Who they should take: Someone who will stay out of jail and won't demand a trade
Everything I've read suggests the Bengals really want Ellis, and they should take him if he's still around. Since I'm working from the assumption that he'll be gone, Rivers isn't a bad Plan B. If there was a WR worth taking here, maybe they'd do it and escalate their war with Chad Johnson to the next level. There's not though, so as much fun as that would be it's just a pipe dream.
10. New Orleans Saints
Who they should take: McKelvin or Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Expect the Jeremy Shockey trade drama to overshadow anything the Saints actually do here. This is another team that seems to have a jones for Ellis, and they very well may try to trade up to get him. If they stay put, a corner makes the most sense. Flip a coin between McKelvin and Jenkins.
11. Buffalo Bills
Who they should take: A corner or a trade down if there are any offers
I know the Bills really need a receiver and that this is looking like a relatively weak class for WR prospects. But is anyone really convinced Thomas deserves to be the first wideout off the board? I'm definitely not, but it sounds like Buffalo is. This team isn't afraid to take some gambles in the first round, and they occasionally work out. Fans better hope this one does.
12. Denver Broncos
Who they should take: Williams or Branden Albert, T/G, Virginia
The mock drafters of the world are almost unanimous in their feeling that Williams will be the pick here, and the Broncos do need help at OT. McShay says there have been rumblings that Denver also is considering Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart at this spot, and while some analysts out there are sure to say that's a reach, I think that's a fine pick assuming he's healthy. Stewart is a beast whose game may suit the NFL even better than college.
13. Carolina Panthers
Who they should take: Otah, Stewart or Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
The Panthers are the first of three teams with similar needs in the backfield and along the offensive line. Mendenhall is a real possibility, but my gut tells me the Panthers will let DeAngelo Williams take a crack at the feature back role and find someone already on the roster to spell him. That makes Otah the pick, and he won't even have to change mascots going from Pitt to Carolina.
14. Chicago Bears
Who they should take: Mendenhall, Stewart or any worthy OT
Yet another pick that almost makes too much sense. Bears fans and staff look like they've soured on Cedric Benson equally quickly, and Mendenhall will be an immediate fan favorite after playing his college ball in-state. A tackle would also work if Chicago wants to give Benson one more chance behind better blocking.
15. Detroit Lions
Who I think they'll take: Stewart
Who they should take: Stewart or Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
It seems like the Lions have been looking for pass rush help forever, which is why Harvey looms large if he's still around. Ultimately though, they need to have a workhorse-type back to tote the pigskin as they move away from the Mike Martz era on offense. Stewart fits that mold perfectly as long as the Lions are convinced he's healthy.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Who I think they'll take: Jenkins
Who they should take: Jenkins or one of the backs if the previous two teams pass
Yet another team thinking about a runner to help take some of the load away from Edgerrin James, who is aging exponentially in the desert. I've even seen some mock drafts predict Felix Jones in this spot for the same reason. Secondary help is an even more pressing concern, and with several first-round caliber players still out there, Jenkins merits this pick as someone who can help immediately.
17. Kansas City Chiefs
Who I think they'll take: Harvey
Who they should take: Harvey
This is the dream scenario for the Chiefs, who need assistance on both lines. Strangely, I feel like the Vikings would have made the same pick had they not made the trade for Jared Allen, making comparisons between the two players going forward even more interesting.
18. Houston Texans
Who I think they'll take: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
Who they should take: Rodgers-Cromartie or (stop me of you've heard this) either of the backs who slips past Chicago-Detroit-Arizona
The Texans are throwing a lot of bodies at the running back position and hoping one of them works out. If Mendenhall or Stewart are still on the board, they'd at least have to stop and think. They are also cornerback-deficient, so any of the top three corners who lasts this long would be welcomed.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Who I think they'll take: Albert
Who they will take: Any OL who falls to this spot
Few things would surprise me more than if the Eagles don't use their top pick on an o-lineman. I've seen Albert go as high as five to K.C. in some mock drafts, but mine already has Clady going there. If he doesn't, just flip-flop the names and I think both teams would still be pretty happy.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who I think they'll take: DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
Who they should take: Jackson, Aquib Talib, CB, Kansas; or Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Too high for Jackson? Quite possibly, and he very well may slide into the second round. Still, Jon Gruden wants more playmakers, and Jackson qualifies on that count. The Bucs also need more options at corner, though I'm not so sure they'd want to get in on a mini-run that has two going in the previous four picks. Don't count this spot out as a dark horse landing spot for Brohm. Tampa's QB situation is still unsettled, and this team loves to stockpile signal-callers.
21. Washington Redskins
Who I think they'll take: Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Who they should take: Sweed or Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
I think the Redskins may have tipped their hand a bit by offering to trade for Chad Johnson and any other receiver who may give them a boost. Washington also has an obvious need at safety but none seem to be worth taking at this spot. Sweed is my favorite receiver in a fairly average crop, and he'd be a good pick here.
22. Dallas Cowboys
Who I think they'll take: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Who they should take: Jones or any other RB or WR that suits their fancy
Corner was the Cowboys biggest need area until the Pacman Jones trade. If he's allowed to play, Dallas could use both of its first-rounders on offensive players, something they are usually loathe to do. This pick has been rumored for so long that it's being predicted by nearly everyone, and Jerry Jones' Arkansas ties make it even more likely.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Who I think they'll take: Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
Who they should take: Balmer
I'm thinking the logic here is that Balmer can play a DE spot in the Steelers' 3-4 sets. Pittsburgh also has OT and WR needs, but the value at those positions is likely to be worn out by the teams picking in front of them.
24. Tennessee Titans
Who I think they'll take: Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Who they should take: Merling, Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC or Balmer if he falls
The Titans have many holes on defense and Merling plugs one of them. I'm sure there will be the usual chorus of "Vince Young needs more targets," and a receiver is certainly possible, but the D needs more attention and should get it. Tennessee can hunt in the second round with a WR like Early Doucet or Mario Manningham.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Who I think they'll take: Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Who they should take: Kelly
I'm not sure the Seahawks can afford to bypass need with this pick. Kelly is a big target who should have extra motivation after the flap about his slow 40 times.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Who I think they'll take: Jackson
Who they should take: Jackson
This part of the draft is getting boring. This is another spot where team need and value just happen to overlap. Jackson seems to have rising stock as the draft approaches, so there's a chance he may not be here. If he's gone, safety is also a need area, but the top safeties still look like reaches at this point.
27. San Diego Chargers
Who I think they'll take: Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
Who they should take: Cherilus
Nothing wrong with this pick either, because the Bolts are looking for a tackle. I also like theories that they'd be intrigued by Felix Jones as an insurance policy for L.T. now that Michael Turner has left town, and if he slips he shouldn't make it past San Diego.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Who I think they'll take: James Hardy, WR, Indiana
Who they should take: Not Hardy!
Yes, T.O. is getting older. Yes, the Cowboys should be looking for WR help. I'm just not certain they need to add another combustible personality to a potentially volatile mix, and Hardy seems like he could be that type. Trouble is, I can't think of a better alternative. Other receivers either seem like reaches (Doucet and Jordy Nelson) or come with the same personality drawbacks (Manningham).
29. San Francisco 49ers
Who I think they'll take: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
Who they should take: Any OT already listed who makes it this far
Mayo would be good value - some draft pundits think he's better than Rivers. He'd be a good bet to make it two LB successes in a row after the team took Defensive Rookie of the Year Patrick Willis in 2007. But if there's a tackle whose name I've already typed still around, the o-line could use the upgrade.
30. Green Bay Packers
Who I think they'll take: Brohm
Who they should take: Talib
It's not that I don't like Brohm in this spot - I think he's a steal here, quite frankly. I'm just not sold that Green Bay is so good that it can afford to skip need areas in the first round, and if you're trying to create an environment where Aaron Rodgers can succeed, why risk damage to his psyche by taking another QB? It's risky put potentially exciting for Packers fans.
31. New York Giants
Who I think they'll take: Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas
Who they should take: Johnson or Talib
Losing Gibril Wilson makes this a pretty safe call for the Giants now that Johnson has bypassed Kenny Phillips as the top safety on a lot of boards. The champs could actually use help at any secondary spot.