Bullz-Eye.com's Final 2008 NFL Mock Draft
Let the question barrage begin.
Vernon Gholston or Chris Long?
Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis?
Is Matt Ryan an elite quarterback prospect?
Is Jake Long worthy of the first overall pick?
Which analyst is more annoying, Mel Kiper Jr. or Mike Mayock?
The draft has always been the ultimate crapshoot, but this year seems more unpredictable than ever. One reason for that could be that outside of Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, there just isn't much elite talent at the skill positions. But despite what some prognosticators will have you believe, that doesn’t mean there is less talent in this draft than in year’s past.
Dorsey, Gholston and both Longs are fantastic prospects and all four of them could wind up being starters as rookies. Throw in the explosive McFadden and a quarterback like Ryan with tremendous intangibles, and there’s plenty of talented players in this year’s class. And as always, it’s interesting to see which prospects will freefall, ala Brady Quinn in 2007 and Aaron Rodgers in 2005.
Below is a complete mock of this year’s first round. As usual, Bullz-Eye.com is always right and you should expect the first round to unfold exactly as we have it below. If for some reason teams decide to veer from our projections, expect those teams to crash and burn to a 1-15 season.
1. Miami Dolphins
Team Needs: OT, CB, DE, OLB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Hey, one for one so far on the projections. Long signed a five-year, $57 million contract and he'll be the starter at left tackle next season while Vernon Carey moves to the right side. This wasn’t a flashy pick for the Dolphins, but offensive linemen tend to be a safer choice among top 10 picks, so it turned out to be a no-brainer for Bill Parcells and company.
Devil’s Advocate: No devil’s advocate for this pick: Jake Long is the pick. One thing to note, however, is what the Dolphins will plan to do with defensive end Jason Taylor on draft day. They’ve made it apparent that they want to trade him for a first rounder, but when push comes to shove, they might be willing to accept less to stockpile more picks.
2. St. Louis Rams
Team Needs: DE, WR, OL
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Speculation is running rampant around this pick. At first, it appeared the Rams were high on Chris Long, but latest rumors say they’re now smitten with Glenn Dorsey. Their infatuation with Dorsey seems like a smokescreen, however. Both Atlanta and New Orleans are reportedly in love with Dorsey, so if the Rams make it known that he might be their pick at No. 2, they could possibly trade with one of those teams and pick up another second rounder in the process. But if their bluff is called and no team wants to trade up, I’m sticking with Long as their pick because the selection of Dorsey would mean 2006 first round pick Adam Carriker would have to switch positions again (not a huge deal, but it would be a transition nonetheless).
Devil’s Advocate: If they don’t trade out of this pick, the choice seems down to three prospects: Long, Dorsey and Vernon Gholston. If they pass on Long, Dorsey will likely be the choice and Carriker will move back to the end position he played in college.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Team Needs: OT, QB, DT, CB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
If Dorsey is available, this really seems like a slam-dunk pick and it’s a little surprising to see so many draft pundits completely sold on the idea of the Falcons taking quarterback Matt Ryan. Atlanta has three second-round picks to play with, so they could trade back into the first round and take a signal caller like Brian Brohm or wait and nab someone like Joe Flacco. Dorsey fills a major need and quite frankly, he’s arguably the best defensive prospect in the entire draft.
Devil’s Advocate: There are rumors that the Saints are willing to part with left tackle Jammal Brown in order to trade up to No. 2 and steal Dorsey before the Falcons get a chance. If that happens, Atlanta might look to trade down and grab one of the offensive tackles or stand pat and get their franchise quarterback in Ryan. Don't be shocked if the Falcons reach for defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis with this pick, either.
4. Oakland Raiders
Team Needs: DL, OT, WR
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
One thing is for sure when you’re dealing with Al Davis: throw all conventional wisdom out the window. With LaMont Jordan, Justin Fargas, Dominic Rhodes and Michael Bush currently on the roster, one would think Oakland wouldn’t look at a running back. However, McFadden is a flashy pick and certainly has the speed and star power Davis covets. McFadden definitely doesn’t fill a need, but he looks every bit as promising as 2007 OROY Adrian Peterson.
Devil’s Advocate: If the Raiders actually wanted to fill needs, either Vernon Gholston or Chris Long make sense. A sleeper pick might be offensive tackle Ryan Clady, although that seems like a long shot.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Team Needs: OT, CB, WR
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State
The Chiefs traded Jared Allen to the Vikings early this week creating a huge hole at defensive end. Gholston is the type of big, athletic defender head coach Herm Edwards covets and he’s versatile enough to play outside linebacker in special packages. He’s very raw so the bust factor is high, but so is his ceiling.
Devil’s Advocate: The Allen trade opens up a wealth of possibilities for the Chiefs. They could go with an offensive tackle like Branden Albert or Ryan Clady, or one of the top cornerbacks in Leodis McKelvin or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Another possibility is for KC to trade this pick or take Chris Long (if he falls) or defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis.
6. New York Jets
Team Needs: CB, WR, S
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
The Jets quarterback situation isn’t in dire straits by any means, but it’s hard to fathom them passing on Ryan. Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens haven’t blown anyone away and unless the Falcons or Chiefs take him, or the Ravens leapfrog into the top five, the Jets might wind up with a franchise quarterback.
Devil’s Advocate: If Vernon Gholston falls past the Chiefs, I could easily see the Jets plugging him into their 3-4 defensive front. If either falls, Chris Long and Darren McFadden are also big possibilities at this pick.
7. New England Patriots (from San Francisco)
Team Needs: CB, LB, OT
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Derrick Harvey, LB, Florida
The Patriots are always a mystery on draft day, but if they stay with this pick, Harvey gives them a versatile weapon to add to their already solid defensive front seven. He’s got good size, athleticism and he works hard. What more does Bill Belichick need in a defender?
Devil’s Advocate: Once again, nobody is quite sure what the Pats are going to do on draft day, so they could trade up, down or stick with this pick and land Vernon Gholston, Keith Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Leodis McKelvin or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. It appears, however, that they’ll focus on defense if they stay in the top 10.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Team Needs: QB, CB, DL
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy State
If the Ravens miss out on drafting their quarterback of the future in Matt Ryan, cornerback appears to be the next likely scenario. Chris McAlister has battled injuries over the years and Samari Rolle is starting to show his age. McKelvin is incredibly athletic, runs a sub-4.4 and is a sure tackler. He might not be the Ravens first choice, but he's solid nonetheless.
Devil’s Advocate: Obviously if Ryan is available, he seems to be the favorite. If the Ravens are in fact infatuated with the former Boston College product, then they could attempt to trade up to No. 2 or No. 3 ahead of the Chiefs and Jets to land him. If they wind up missing on Ryan and don’t go cornerback, filling holes on the defensive line is also a possibility.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Team Needs: DT, OLB, WR
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis had a fantastic week at the Senior Bowl, so many figured he had leapfrogged Glenn Dorsey as the best defensive tackle in the draft. But as the draft edges closer, reality has set in and while Ellis is still a top-10 worthy pick, he’s probably not going to be selected before Dorsey. The Bengals have a desperate need for pass-rushers and given his speed and athleticism, Ellis could help fill that void.
Devil’s Advocate: There's a great chance Ellis is gone by this pick. Outside linebacker is also a huge priority, so the speedy Keith Rivers is an option. Offensive tackle Ryan Clady and even running back Rashard Mendenhall have gotten mention at this pick.
10. New Orleans Saints
Team Needs: OLB, DT, C
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
This might be a little high for Rivers, but he’s arguably the best outside linebacker prospect in the draft and he fills a big need for the Saints. Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle are steady, but what New Orleans really needs is a fast, athletic linebacker to complement newly acquired middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Rivers is quick, agile and explosive on contact. If the Saints do make him their selection, they stand to vastly upgrade their linebacker corps this offseason.
Devil’s Advocate: If Sedrick Ellis falls, New Orleans would probably run up to the podium to turn in his name on their draft card. The Saints are always in need of defensive back help too, so keep an eye on cornerbacks.
11. Buffalo Bills
Team Needs: WR, TE, CB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
The Bills are in great need of a wide receiver who can not only stretch the field, but also give quarterback Trent Edwards a big target. At nearly 6-2, 216 pounds, Thomas fits both needs. He’s a bit of a project and has major boom or bust potential, but he’s arguably the best receiver prospect in the draft and has a ton of upside. His stock really went up with Malcolm Kelly’s poor pre-draft workouts.
Devil’s Advocate: It appears that the Bills are set on drafting either a receiver or corner. If Thomas isn’t the pick, Kelly or Limas Sweed could also fill their wide out needs. If they fall, Buffalo could also take a look at corners Leodis McKelvin or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
12. Denver Broncos
Team Needs: DT, OT, S
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Branden Albert , OT/OG, Virginia
With the retirement of Matt Lepsis, Albert could push Ryan Harris for the starting left tackle job. Albert is quick on his feet and agile for a big man, two things that are musts when playing in the Broncos’ zone-blocking scheme. Albert has absolutely shot up mock boards due to his versatility.
Devil’s Advocate: There seems to be an overwhelming notion that the Broncos will trade up in front of Cincinnati in order to snag defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, which makes a lot of sense because Ellis would be a good fit on the interior of Denver’s defensive line. Offensive tackles Chris Williams, Ryan Clady and Jeff Otah are also possibilities if Albert is gone.
13. Carolina Panthers
Team Needs: OT, S, QB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton received new contracts in the offseason, but Wharton is set to move to guard, which means left tackle now becomes a huge priority. Clady seems like the ultimate sleeper pick (if you can even consider a first rounder a “sleeper”) in that he could eventually turn out to be the best tackle in the draft just based on raw talent alone, yet he won't be the first OT selected. He has outstanding size, but he’s also light on his feet, which suits the Panthers’ zone-blocking scheme.
Devil’s Advocate: The Panthers are always moving on draft day, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see them trade down and try to fill their offensive tackle needs later. Another option could have them trading into the top 10 to try and snag Matt Ryan before Baltimore does, but that seems farfetched at this point.
14. Chicago Bears
Team Needs: OL, QB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
Da Bears have to go offensive line here, don’t they? Don’t they?! They completely failed to address the need in the offseason and if a player like Otah is still available here, Chicago would be wise to jump on him. Even though he’s raw and a bit of a project, Otah has tremendous upside and fits the Bears’ desire for physical, aggressive linemen.
Devil’s Advocate: We have a hard time believing the Bears would go anything but offensive line, but they’ve surprised before in the first round. Quarterback is also a need, but not at No. 14. They could stand to add depth along the defensive line, too, but the offensive line has to be addressed first doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?!
15. Detroit Lions
Team Needs: OT, MLB, RB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee
Mayo wasn’t even considered a first-round prospect a few weeks ago (at least in terms of the mock draft world), but his stock has risen of late. One would think that, with Matt Millen at the helm, the Lions would go with a skill position like running back. That’s why a lot of mocks have Rashard Mendenhall going here. But word out of Detroit is that head coach Rod Marinelli is in control of this draft and if that’s true, it’s hard to believe he would stray from his defensive roots. Detroit has been in desperate need of a middle linebacker for years and Mayo is arguably the best in this class.
Devil’s Advocate: Mendenhall is definitely a logical possibility after Kevin Jones was released in the offseason. The Lions always have needs along the offensive line, so if one of the better tackles slips, Marinelli might be tempted to go that route.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Team Needs: CB, DE, RB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
It’s crazy to think that Cardinals would try to address the running back position after inking Edgerrin James to a huge contract just two years ago. But don’t forget, head coach Ken Whisenhunt has no allegiance to James (Edge was signed during Denny Green’s final year) and he and his coaching staff want a power running game. Mendenhall is a bruiser, but has plenty of speed to also be an outside runner. Could this be the surprise pick of the first round?
Devil’s Advocate: There’s a very good chance Mendenhall doesn’t make it past Detroit and if that happens, the Cardinals would likely address either their defensive end or cornerback needs. Defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Phillip Merling, as well as cornerbacks Mike Jenkins, Antoine Cason and Aqib Talib, are all options.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (from Minnesota)
Team Needs: DE, OT, S
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
The Chiefs acquired this pick when they traded defensive end Jared Allen to the Chiefs. Assuming KC fills their defensive end needs with the No. 5 pick, turning their attention to the secondary is likely. Rodgers-Cromartie might not fall this far, but it would be huge for the Chiefs if he did. The small school product could replace Ty Law and work across from aging vet Patrick Surtain.
Devil’s Advocate: The Chiefs could wind up trading this selection and stockpiling more picks, or if they don’t go defensive end at No. 5, they could wind up with a prospect like Phillip Merling. Offensive line is also a huge need and if they don’t select Ryan Clady or Branden Albert with their first pick, someone like Chris Williams or Jeff Otah are also huge possibilities here.
18. Houston Texans
Team Needs: OT, OLB, S
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
The Texans continue their annual search for quality offensive tackles and maybe they’ll find one in Cherilus. At 6-6 and 314-pounds, Cherilus is massive and he definitely has the potential to be an above average run blocker. While he might have trouble with faster edge rushers in the NFL, his strength and power should make his transition into the pros a little easier.
Devil’s Advocate: The Texans could go a variety of ways, including safety. While there aren't a ton of quality safeties in this year’s draft, Miami’s Kenny Phillips is arguably at the head of the class. Houston could go with any position along the offensive line, too.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Team Needs: WR, OL, LB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
It was tempting to go with Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed here, but it’s just hard to fathom that the Eagles will ever take a wide out in the first round as long as Andy Reid has a say on draft day. Phillips is coming off a down junior year, but he was once regarded as the top safety in the nation and with classy veteran Brain Dawkins there to take Phillips under his wing, the Miami product could wind up being a first-round steal.
Devil’s Advocate: With Jon Runyan and William Thomas both aging, the Eagles could go with an offensive tackle depending on which one falls. As previously noted, Philly could also look at a wide receiver and, at least in this mock, there will be plenty of quality wide outs still available.
20. Tampa Bay Bucs
Team Needs: DT, WR, CB, DE
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Given that the Bucs just took Gaines Adams in the first round a year ago, it might be a stretch to think they’ll go with another defensive end this year. But then again, the strength of the Bucs has always been their speed on defense. Merling isn’t exactly a speed rusher, but he’s got a great motor, is solid against the run and if he puts on more weight, he might even be able to play defensive tackle.
Devil’s Advocate: Tampa could go in a variety of ways, including taking a wide receiver like DeSean Jackson or Limas Sweed. They could also stand to upgrade the offensive tackle position, as well as cornerback.
21. Washington Redskins
Team Needs: DE, WR, CB, S
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Before he got hurt, Sweed was widely regarded as the best wide receiver prospect in the nation. He might still be, but after his senior year was cut short by a lingering wrist injury, he might fall in the draft. Take this for what it’s worth, but Skins’ owner Daniel Synder has already publicly stated that he wants to make receiver a top priority.
Devil’s Advocate: If the Skins decide to pass on a wide out, defensive end, cornerback and defensive tackle could all be addressed. Cornerbacks Mike Jenkins, Antonie Cason and Aqib Talib are all possibilities here.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland)
Team Needs: CB, WR, RB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
The Cowboys need depth at the corner position and eventually someone that can be groomed as a starter. Jenkins was inconsistent in college, but he’s a great athlete and has excellent speed. He could be eased into a nickel back role at first and eventually transition into a starter once he gets more experience.
Devil’s Advocate: Recent reports have come out that the ‘Boys and running back Marion Barber are far apart on a contract extension. With that said, Dallas could take a long look at a running back and Felix Jones of Arkansas might be a target.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Team Needs: OL, WR
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Williams has dropped in most mock projections, but that doesn't mean he's a likely bust. He's athletic, has great size and has a big frame. If the Steelers can get him motivated, he would provide excellent depth and eventually could become a starter at either tackle position.
Devil’s Advocate: Pittsburgh seems likely to take the best available offensive lineman when their pick rolls around. At one point, it appeared that Branden Albert might be available here, but those days seem to be long gone. It wouldn't be like them, but the Steelers could look at a wide receiver here, too.
24. Tennessee Titans
Team Needs: WR, DE, DT
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
This might be too high of a projection for Campbell, but the Titans have a major need at defensive end with Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy leaving via free agency. Yes, Tennessee re-signed Javon Kearse, but who knows what they’ll get out of the aging vet and Bryce Fisher is average at best. Campbell might be a reach, but he definitely fills a need.
Devil’s Advocate: With the addition of tight end Alge Crumpler during the offseason, the Titans might look to add another big receiving option for quarterback Vince Young. If Limas Sweed is still available, he would probably make more sense than the smaller DeSean Jackson.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Team Needs: TE, OL, WR
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Fred Davis, TE, USC
Davis hasn’t looked overly impressive in pre-draft workouts and has dropped in some mock projections, but after failing to lure free agent tight end Alge Crumpler in free agency, the Seahawks could reach a bit and fill a big need. Davis, blessed with great hands and excellent athleticism, has the potential to be a great fit in Mike Holmgren’s West Coast Offense. With his blend of size and athleticism, he’s arugably the best tight end prospect in the draft.
Devil’s Advocate: Seattle could use this pick to address any position on the offensive line, especially at guard, although given the quality of guards after Branden Albert, they might wait until the second or third round to fill that need.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Team Needs: DT, DE, S
Bullz-Eye’s Pick:Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
After trading Marcus Stroud to the Jets in the offseason, the Jaguars have a major hole to fill on their defensive line next to John Henderson. Balmer has a questionable work ethic, but given the veteran presence on Jacksonville’s defense, he could be pushed to fulfill his potential. He’s very athletic and could wind up being a solid pass rusher.
Devil’s Advocate: Jacksonville also needs help at defensive end and at safety, so Kenny Phillips could be an option or possibly Calais Campbell if either prospect falls.
27. San Diego Chargers
Team Needs: OT, S, DL
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Sam Baker, OT, USC
This might be a bit of a reach, but the Chargers don’t have a ton of needs and therefore can focus on filling needs. San Diego needs more depth along the offensive line and Baker could be a prospect that develops after some seasoning. He’s going to be a bit of a project, but once again, the Chargers won’t have a rush to get him on the field right away.
Devil’s Advocate: If SD could address the safety position here, they probably would. If Miami’s Kenny Phillips falls this far, the Chargers might jump at the chance to select him. If offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus is still available, he would probably go ahead of Baker.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Team Needs: CB, WR, RB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
As previously mentioned at pick No. 22, word is the Cowboys are having trouble inking Marion Barber to a long-term deal. That doesn’t mean that they won’t, but given the success the team has had over the years with a dual-running back system, drafting Jones makes sense. Dallas could pair the bruiser Barber with the explosive Jones.
Devil’s Advocate: Running back Jonathan Stewart is another option here, or possibly a wide receiver such as DeSean Jackson if he falls. If the Cowboys don’t take a corner with their first pick, they could look for one here.
29. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis)
Team Needs: OLB, OL, WR
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: DeSean Jackson, WR, California
It’s hard to fathom that a talented player like Jackson would fall this far, but it’s a possibility given his small size. Jackson could definitely add another dimension to the Niners’ offense and another weapon in the return game. He’s so fast and talented that he would be hard to cover in the slot and it would give quarterback Alex Smith a much needed weapon.
Devil’s Advocate: If Jackson isn’t available, Mario Manningham is another possibility to fill the Niners need for a receiver. San Fran also needs help along their offensive line and at outside linebacker.
30. Green Bay Packers
Team Needs: CB, S, OT
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Pundits run hot and cold on Talib. Some believe he’s the most talented corner in the draft, but others think he’s got major bust potential because he relies too much on natural talent and instinct. Al Harris and Charles Woodson are an excellent duo, but the Packers lack depth at the position and if Talib does fall to them here, he could be a solid nickel back. He’s also blessed with great size and playmaking ability.
Devil’s Advocate: If safety Kenny Phillips falls, the Packers could go with him or add depth along the offensive line. If Talib isn’t available, Antoine Cason is also another solid cornerback choice.
31. New England Patriots (forfeited pick)
32. New York Giants
Team Needs: S, OLB, CB
Bullz-Eye’s Pick: Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
The Giants could stand to upgrade their safety position after Gibril Wilson signed with Oakland this offseason, but there just aren’t that many quality safeties in this year’s draft. Aaron Ross was outstanding as a rookie last year and if Cason develops, the defending champs could eventually have one of the best young cornerback combos in the league.
Devil’s Advocate: If somehow safety Kenny Phillips falls, the Giants might jump at the chance to fill their void at free safety. Linebacker is also a possibility, but they could probably wait until the second or third round to address that need.