Thursday, April 24, 2008

NFL Draft Top 10 Projection

Just like last year, Joe & Joe Sports is happy to bring you our projections for how the top ten picks in the first round of the NFL draft will play out. Unlike last year, however, we'll be posting this information right here on the blog, rather than in one of our radio shows. It was a confluence of events that made this happen, including unexpectedly long baseball shows, my move from Pennsylvania to Maryland, poor planning, and tax season. But you, the fans, will still enjoy the benefit of our analysis (and wit).

So, without further ado (haha), our top ten picks for the 2008 NFL draft.

#1 Miami Dolphins - Jake Long, OT, Michigan. The Dolphins made this one easy for us, signing Long days before they actually went onto the clock. I think this is the right move; when you've got a team with a lot of holes, you either trade down for more picks (which is more difficult than we often give it credit for) or draft the best lineman available. Long is that lineman in this draft, and he should be an asset for Miami for years to come.

#2 St. Louis Rams - Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State. How funny would it be if players from Michigan and Ohio State went back to back as the first and second picks? Well, I guess not that funny really, but I'm sure there'd be some comments about Michigan finally beating Ohio State at something. Gholston is considered by many to be the best bet for becoming a future superstar in the entire draft, and with as poor as the Rams' pass rush was last year, he makes good sense for St. Louis.

#3 Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College. The consensus number one quarterback in the draft is Ryan, and I project him to go third to the Falcons. While I don't think Ryan is really the best player available at this point (or even the best fit for the Falcons), I think it's important for the Falcons to take a quarterback high in this draft to distance themselves mentally from the Michael Vick era. Ryan can be a solid quarterback, not a special quarterback, but he can give the Atlanta fans a new face to represent their franchise.

#4 Oakland Raiders - Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisiana State. It'd be something a coup for Dorsey to fall this far in the draft, as he's widely considered the only legitimate #1 overall pick, with regards to talent. But if he does, you can be sure that the Raiders will stop the dropping right there. Dorsey would be a perfect heir to their retiring franchise defensive tackle, Warren Sapp, and he'd be able to step in immediately and have a positive impact on that defensive front. Oakland has got lots of problems, and nobody they draft here could turn them into a playoff team, but Dorsey puts them on the right path.

#5 Kansas City Chiefs - Chris Long, DE, Virginia. The other Long in this draft is the son of former Raider great Howie Long, and while it might take a couple of preseason games for Chiefs fans to warm up to him, his talent will go a long way towards forgetting that fact. Chris Long isn't necessarily a transcendent talent, but he's got great character and seems to be a smart player. He dominated at Virginia, and while he probably won't reach a Michael Strahan or Charles Haley level, most players don't. Long can be a valuable producer and a starter in this league for 12-15 years.

#6 New York Jets - Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. Let me start by saying this: McFadden is not Adrian Peterson. Peterson dominated every caliber of competition he faced in college; McFadden seemed to have trouble with the better defenses in the SEC. That being said, Larry Johnson had trouble with the better defenses in the Big Ten, and he's turned out pretty well. McFadden would give the Jets three legitimate starting caliber running backs along with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. A two-headed monster of Washington and McFadden for the next three years sounds very appealing to me.

#7 New England Patriots - Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. The Patriots haven't had a pick this high in the draft for a while, which I think explains why they've tended to not "go after" top tier talent at cornerback. But this is an opportunity that New England won't squander, and they'll take advantage and grab the top defensive back in the draft. Their position of greatest need is probably linebacker, but at this point the best linebacker looks more likely to fall into the 15-20 pick range, and one thing you can count on the Patriots avoiding is wasting the value of this high pick. McKelvin gives them another option to replace Pro-Bowler Asante Samuel.

#8 Baltimore Ravens - Branden Albert, OG, Virginia. There's talk of Albert jumping up the draft board and going as high as fifth to the Chiefs, but this seems to be a more likely value spot. The Ravens would like to see Matt Ryan fall to this point, but if he's not available, you can never have too many offensive linemen. Albert gives them depth, and could give whatever new quarterback ends up starting in Baltimore an extra second or two to deliver the ball to their solid receiving corps. With Steve McNair retired and Kyle Boller having lost his favor with Ravens fans, quarterback is absolutely a position they'll need to address. But Baltimore historically has been too smart with their picks to reach for Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco, who both figure to be second round picks.

#9 Cincinnati Bengals - Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. The Bengals' draft plans would change mightily if they acquire another first round pick by trading Chad Johnson before the draft, but assuming no trades take place, I see the Bengals going after Harvey here. While he's been playing defensive end, he's got the speed to switch to linebacker, giving Cincinnati the opportunity to evaluate him as a general talent and find a way to get him on the field at different positions for crucial plays. Sedrick Ellis is another player the Bengals are rumored to like, and I really have no reason to say why Ellis or Harvey is a better fit than the other. Basically just flipping a coin.

#10 New Orleans Saints - Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern California. The trouble with creating mock drafts is that someone always slips through the cracks and falls way later than you'd expect them to go. Ellis is one of those players, a guy that a lot of different teams like enough to take, but who seem to have more evident holes to fill. Ellis could go as high as fourth to the Raiders, but I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that he could also fall to this pick, though certainly not beyond. There's been talk of the Saints trading up to acquire Ellis, so if he falls into their laps, I'd be shocked if they didn't take him. He's a great pass and run defender who has played in big games at USC. Against Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, and whoever the Falcons run out there at QB, he could be a real disruption and a fantastic piece to help the Saints get back into the playoff picture.

Now, if you want to talk about accuracy, remember that last year each of us Joe's got three picks correct out of our first ten. So when you think about bashing us after we miss half the picks, just remember that the bar was set relatively low. And then feel free to bash us, either in the comments here on the blog (you can comment anonymously if you so choose) or via e-mail at joe.joe.sports@gmail.com.

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