Posted by Walter
With the draft right around the corner here is our first stab at a mock. As we know the draft can be an unpredictable affair. Nobody ever gets it all right in a mock. Still, we here at the 323 are intent on raising the bar. Therefore, not only are we going to tell you who each team WILL pick, but we'll tell you why they AREN'T going to pick the player most people think they will.
Of course that makes things much longer so we'll have to do this 5 picks at a time all the way through the top 15.
1. Miami Dolphins
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Glen Dorsey
The reason this pick won't be Glen Dorsey is quite simple. He's a defensive tackle! In the history of football there have been exactly two DT's drafted first overall (Russell Maryland and Dan Wilkinson), and neither's arrival exactly lit the NFL on fire. Now Dorsey might be the second coming of Warren Sapp as a 3-technique pass rusher, but Dorsey has major concerns about his durability, and strength holding up against the run inside. Not to mention, last time I checked the 3-4 defense, which we know new Dolphins boss Bill Parcells favors, there was no 3-technique tackle.
The pick will actually be…….Matt Ryan
In past years you may have been able to do better than Matt Ryan, but you could do a whole lot worse. In a world of bust potential first round passers, Ryan is the anomaly: a polished passer who has top notch intangibles to equal his physical ability. Think about it. Every college passer that gets invited to the combine can throw the football. What separates an NFL QB is the ability to know where to throw that football under all circumstances. Like a great golfer, an NFL QB has to be able to repeat his motion no matter what the circumstances. When the Dolphins watch Matty Ice throw a 10 yard out or a deep post on the turf of the RCA Dome during the combine, they can rest assured knowing they'll get that same performance in the 4th quarter of a close game. Ryan Leaf…..well, he sure did look great at the combine didn't he?
2. St. Louis Rams
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Chris Long
Let's be clear on one thing, Chris Long is worthy of the number 2 overall pick. The reason he won't be drafted here, however, is because he is just way too similar to Adam Carriker, the Rams' first round pick from a year ago. Long and Carriker are similar in size and stature, and they both play a game eerily similar to former Ram standout Grant Wistrom. And while very team in the NFL would love to have a pair of Grant Wistrom's anchoring their defensive front seven, I simply do not believe a team with as many holes as the Rams can afford to invest two consecutive early first round picks in defensive ends that, while solid two way players, will never be dynamic 15 sack performers.
The pick will actually be…….Jake Long
Really, the reason the Rams can get away with not picking Chris Long, is because Jake Long is available (you know what they say, two Long's don't make a right…..thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week). The city of St. Louis knows how important a dominant left tackle can be after watching Orlando Pace dominate for the past decade or so. With Pace not far from the Rams' fans' collective memories, the front office realizes that they can get away with picking Long ahead of some of the other, sexier names and still not disenfranchise the ticketholders. Moreover, the Rams shelled out huge money extending Marc Bulger's contract, then watched him go out in 2007 and nearly get killed on every drop back When you are paying your QB that type of money, you'd better have someone watching his back.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Matt Ryan
Well it's easy to say the pick won't be Ryan because he'll be long gone by the time the Falcons are on the clock. That said, if he is available the Falcons will bite quicker than [insert Mike Vick joke here……thank you, thank you, try the veal.] Truth be told, though, the Falcons are a lot further away than people may think. The talent drain from Atlanta over the past few years has been tremendous. In addition to Vick the Falcons have lost defensive stalwarts Rod Coleman and Pat Kearney, as well as pro bowl TE Alge Crumpler. Bottom line, things are going to get a lot worse in Atlanta before they get better. The Falcons have plenty of time to draft their franchise QB in Rd. 2 or 3 and let them develop. This team is old (see Brooking, Keith and Dunn, Warrick), and they are going to be terrible for a while. Taking a chance on a non-first round QB is not the worst idea for this franchise.
The pick will actually be…….Glen Dorsey
After everything that has happened to the Falcons, Glen Dorsey would be just what the doctor ordered. As I said, the talent drain in Atlanta has been tremendous, especially on the defensive side of the football, and it is only going to get worse. Keith Brooking is getting old, and he won't be around much longer. Jamaal Anderson, last year's first round pick, has talent but played uninspired football in 2007. Dorsey is the type of dynamic playmaker who will not only be a perennial pro bowler and leader for the Falcons defense, but will command double teams and make more room for Anderson to work. Perhaps more important than anything Dorsey will do on the field, though, is the fact that he will be a good citizen off of it. Arthur Blank is a nice man who is trying to do right by his fan base. He's been burned twice recently by Vick and Bobby Petrino. Dorsey is the type of high class individual this team desperately needs to build around for the future.
4. Oakland Raiders
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Darren McFadden
I'm still not quite clear on this one, so let me see if I've got this straight. Several years ago the Raiders draft promising rookie Justin Fargas out of USC in the 2nd round. Injuries keep him from ever putting together a consistent season, much to the chagrin and frustration of Raider Nation which always believes he is capable of far more. In 2007, finally healthy and all but forgotten behind free agents Dominic Rhodes and Lamont Jordan, Fargas breaks out and seizes the starting RB gig with a 1,000 yard season. Then, immediately following the season the team gives him a contract extension, only to pay big money to his replacement that they take 4th overall? Yeah, it don't make sense to me either. As much as Al Davis loves making a splash in the media, there is simply no way he can defend taking McFadden, and shelling out the money necessary to do so…..especially after paying Jamarcus Russell big money as the top pick last year. McFadden may be the top talent in the draft, and an absolute stud in the making, but face it Raider Nation, it just ain't gonna happen.
The pick will actually be…….Chris Long
Remember when I said that Al Davis loves to make a splash in the media……well what could possibly be a bigger splash than selecting the son of one of the all-time great Raiders? Not only is Long a steal a four, but watching him suit up in the Black and Silver will conjure up memories of Papa Howie and the Raider glory days. The Raider offense is a work in progress, no doubt, but they actually have some skill position pieces in place (Russell, Fargas, Zach Miller) and there is a ton of unrequited talent on that O-Line (don't forget former #2 overall pick Robert Gallery who played MUCH better in the 2nd half of last season). The defense, however, is another story. Already one of the toughest, youngest, and most underrated units in the league, the Raider defense would be downright scary with the addition of Long. The Raider defense could grow into something truly special, which would take a lot of pressure of Jamarcus Russell and let him grow at his own pace. By 2010 this would be one of the best team in the league.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Jake Long
No need to mince words here, if Jake Long were available I think the Chiefs would take about 10 seconds to make this pick. But the chances of him dropping to five are very unlikely, especially with all four teams drafting ahead of them in need of a left tackle. Of course, since those teams are drafting 1-4 they obviously have other needs, but its pure wishful thinking to believe not one of them would snap up the best left tackle prospect on the board. What has happened to KC is really amazing, and serves as a valuable lesson for the rest of the league. Two seasons ago everyone knew that Willie Roaf and Wil Shields wouldn't be around forever, but for some reason the Chiefs buried their heads in the sand rather than planning for the future. I guess you could say that their management lost sight of the forest through the trees, but I just say they were downright stupid.
The pick will actually be…….Ryan Clady
Is Clady the 5th best player in the draft? No freakin way. But then again neither was Levi Brown last year. And therein lies the most recent trend in NFL drafts. Teams reaching, and I mean reaching, in the first round to grab potential left tackles. Consider the following list of tackles all drafted in the first round, and all drafted higher than they graded out at: Levi Brown (5), Joe Staley (28), Jamaal Brown (13), Alex Barron (19), George Foster (20), Kwame Harris (26). And that is just in the last 5 years. Well add Clady to the list. Only a Junior, Clady actually has a ton of potential. He has great size and has outstanding feet (some, not me, say better than Long). Still, it will be a huge reach at #5 for the Chiefs, but one they might just be willing to make a la the Cardinals last year.