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"Because it's never too early to be wrong."
Welcome to another edition of the Early Mock, an NFL mock draft created ridiculously early that will likely be completely irrelevant come draft time. Begun nearly a half year ahead of schedule, The Early Mock will keep up to date until the big day finally arrives with a fresh new mock draft every week, week-and-a-half, two weeks, or whenever I feel like it.
The official order, pending a coin flip or two, is in. I flipped a coin to determine picks 3, 4, and 5, but I don't see the teams involved picking differentyl if they were in a different order anyway.
And without further ado...
1 Miami: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU: Dorsey is one of the best players in the draft and, though not an “ideal” pick for the Dolphins, he should be one of their playmakers for years to come.
2 St. Louis: Chris Long, DE, Virginia: With Long and Adam Carriker on the defensive line, this team’s pass rush, run stopping, and entire defense gets a huge boost.
3 Atlanta: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College: Brohm bows out of the Senior Bowl on a “knee injury,” just like someone last year. Ryan’s stock goes up with a team that needs a QB.
5 Kansas City: Jake Long, OT, Michigan: The Chiefs begin rebuilding their line with one of the best offensive tackles I have ever seen play.
6 New York Jets: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC: The Jets have no stability in the middle and Ellis should give them that strength again.
7 New England (from San Francisco): Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State: The Patriots finally get a chance at a young playmaker at linebacker.
8 Baltimore: Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville: The Ravens aren’t going to rely on Troy Smith to lead the team, so this is a pretty clear pick.
9 Cincinnati: Keith Rivers, OLB, USC: Rivers is a talented prospect who should bring back some fire to this somewhat lacking defense.
10 New Orleans: Mike Jenkins, CB, USF: The Saints desperately need a shutdown corner to give their pass defense even a fighting chance; Jenkins is low in measurables but plays tough and works hard.
11 Buffalo: Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida: Harvey plays tough and is a hard worker who should fit well in Buffalo’s defense.
12 Denver: Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami: The Broncos need a lot of help on defense, but Phillips is a playmaker who should help lead their defensive backfield.
13 Carolina: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State: Clady is a great prospect at offensive tackle and should give the Panthers a boost on their struggling offensive line.
14 Chicago: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois: Mendenhall’s early declaration gives the Bears a chance to pick up a playmaker at runningback to aid the floundering Cedric Benson.
15 Detroit: Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona: Cason’s consistent play through his college career keeps him at the top of my – and more importantly, at the top of Detroit’s – list.
16 Arizona: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon: Signs are that Edgerrin James is on his way out, and Stewart is a good choice to replace him at runningback.
17 Minnesota: DeSean Jackson, WR, California: The Vikings don’t see a quarterback they want here and instead give him the best target in the draft at WR.
18 Houston: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas: Many experts are arguing that Jones is the steal of the draft, but I’ll wait until the Combine and Senior Bowl to pass judgment on that. Still, Jones fills a need in Houston and should be a reliable runningback for years to come.
19 Philadelphia: Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma: Kelly is a great WR and should give McNabb (or whoever is playing in Philly in 2008) a solid #1 or #2 target.
20 Tampa Bay: Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh: The Bucs take a little bit of a risk with Otah, who will need time to develop but could become one of the best linemen to ever play the game.
21 Washington: Calais Campbell, DE, Miam: The Redskins select a defensive end to play alongside Andre Carter and give them a feared pass rush.
23 Pittsburgh: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas: Talib loses a little momentum and needs to gain it back in the Senior Bowl. This was a tossup between Talib and Baker, but Talib got the pick for his higher upside.
24 Tennessee: Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan: Manningham is the best deep-ball prospect in the draft and the Titans need another target for Vince Young.
25 Seattle: Sam Baker, OT, USC: Baker was a highly rated prospect of mine last year and should be a good fit in Seattle.
26 Jacksonville: Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn: Groves gets sent to a team that is already strong one the defensive line but needs a pass rusher. Groves should excel in this role.
27 San Diego: Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College: I stick with this pick. The Chargers can’t block on the right and Cherilus can improve this.
28 Dallas: Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma: The Cowboys address a need for depth and youth in their secondary.
29 San Francisco (from Indianapolis): James Hardy, WR, Indiana: The 49ers have a lot of needs but without a playmaker at WR, they can’t get their offense moving.
30 Green Bay: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy: McKelvin is a small-school prospect with big-school upside, which is perfect for a team that needs depth and youth, not an immediate starter. Don’t be too surprised if McKelvin, still relatively unknown, is even higher on the draft board next time.
31 New York Giants: Ali Highsmith, LB, LSU: It seems ironic that the Giants are making a defensive pick here but Highsmith could be the key cog that keeps their defensive play rolling all they way through next year.