1. Miami Dolphins – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Bill Parcells has options – and plenty of needs to fill. With the 2008 draft deeper at quarterback and offensive tackle, Howie’s kid is the shrewdest move.
2. St. Louis Rams – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
It seems like overkill to draft another left tackle this early, especially when Orlando Pace isn’t dead yet and tackles will be available in Round Two. Plus, Dorsey can be a dominant force who allows last year’s top pick, Adam Carriker, to move to end.
3. Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
With not only the talent but also the intangibles to be an elite quarterback, Ryan can provide Arthur Blank with the “face of the franchise” he so desperately needs.
4. Oakland Raiders – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
It doesn’t make a ton of sense, especially with Justin Fargas just inking a big deal, but since when have we expected Al Davis to make sense? McFadden could be a home run pick, and Davis loves swinging for the fences.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
This would be a dream scenario for the Chiefs, filling their most glaring need with the top offensive tackle in the draft.
6. New York Jets – Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
A double bonus for Eric Mangini: he gets an elite pass rusher to plug into his defense, and he prevents Bill Belichick from doing the same.
7. New England Patriots (from 49ers) – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
The Patriots don’t draft for need, but after Keith Rivers’ pro day at USC they may rethink that plan and switch directions with this pick. Clady, who could start immediately and give Tom Brady another layer of protection, is hardly a consolation prize. A corner such as Leodis McKelvin is also an option.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
The Ravens would love to see Matt Ryan fall here, but it’s unlikely they’ll use this pick to reach for Brian Brohm. McKelvin could be groomed under Chris McAlister as he steps in for Samari Rolle.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Few things have gone right for the Bengals, but having Ellis slide to them would certainly have to qualify. In fact, it’s not difficult to see Marvin Lewis employing a “best defensive player available” strategy in every round of the draft.
10. New Orleans Saints – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
The Saints weren’t successful at trying to outscore everyone last season; a little help in the secondary would make that task dramatically easier for Drew Brees & Co.
11. Buffalo Bills – Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
The Bills need a big receiver opposite Lee Evans, and if Kelly’s health checks out at his Pro Day he’s the best big receiver on the board.
12. Denver Broncos – Keith Rivers, LB, USC
The Broncos would love to see Sedrick Ellis still on the board, but with that an unlikely scenario more upgrades to their linebacking corps - especially on the heels of Rivers' strong Pro Day showing - would be the logical move. An offensive lineman is also an option, but Denver historically waits to fill that position; with more teams coveting the quick-footed zone-blocking types, however, they may no longer have that luxury.
13. Carolina Panthers – Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (FL)
This isn’t a particularly strong safety class, and the Panthers may be comfortable waiting to fill this need in a later round. If that’s the case, both defensive ends (like Derrick Harvey) and running backs (like Jonathan Stewart) could come into play here.
14. Chicago Bears – Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Trading Thomas Jones was a bad choice; so, evidently, was making Cedric Benson a top-five pick. The options in Chicago are augmenting and/or replacing Benson with Mendenhall or upgrading the blockers in front of Benson and finding another runner in a later round.
15. Detroit Lions – Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
The Lions dearly need a running back and someone to block for him; that’s why we don’t expect Matt Millen to draft either in the first round. At least with Jenkins Rod Marinelli gets some help for his secondary.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
The Cardinals didn’t get the same Edgerrin James Indy had, but at least his presence will allow Arizona to ease Stewart and his surgically repaired toe into the lineup.
17. Minnesota Vikings – Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Failure to land Justin Smith or Antwan Odom in free agency has backed the Vikings into a corner. Merling is coming off a sports hernia, which may be enough for Minnesota to opt for Florida’s Derrick Harvey instead.
18. Houston Texans – Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
The Texans’ offensive line has been a liability since Day One, and Williams sliding to them provides an opportunity to right that wrong. The stock of Virginia’s Branden Alberts is rising quickly, and his versatility may prompt Houston to call his name instead.
19. Philadelphia Eagles – Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (FL)
The ginormous Campbell has tons of upside, and if he plays in about half the games he’ll be a more than adequate replacement for Jevon Kearse.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
The Bucs’ defense has lost a little bit of its bite, but adding an athletic pass rusher like Harvey would help restore the roar. The alternative would be help in the secondary, but Cover-2 corners are generally available later in the draft.
21. Washington Redskins – Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Talib is a flat-out playmaker in the secondary; the Redskins could use him to replace Shawn Springs or possibly move him to safety and fill that void.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Browns) – Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
If the Cowboys don’t trade for Chad Johnson they’ll use at least one of their two first-rounders to improve Tony Romo’s arsenal. Sweed is a big target whose stock has fallen a bit because of a wrist injury; if his health checks out, he’s a very nice value this late in round one.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s offensive line wasn’t particularly formidable last year even with Alan Faneca still around, so an upgrade this offseason is a necessity. Again, the fast-rising Branden Albert could be slotted here instead of Otah, who was slowed at the combine by an ankle injury.
24. Tennessee Titans – Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
Vince Young needs help, and one way the Titans can give him that assistance is by providing some talented targets. Thomas has seen his stock rise and also has a frame that VY will find difficult to overthrow.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Sam Baker, OT, USC
The Seahawks’ offensive line has never really recovered from the loss of Steve Hutchinson, and the selection of Baker actually fills two needs: as an eventual heir to All-World tackle Walter Jones, and as an immediate upgrade at one of the guard spots.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars – Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn
Jacksonville’s defensive line, once a strength, could stand a bit of spackle – especially on the outside. Groves would at minimum replace the pass-rushing presence that left town with the free agency departure of Bobby McCray.
27. San Diego Chargers – Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
The Bolts have a couple of directions they could go, but help up front to protect their investments in LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers is never a bad call.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
While Jerry Jones would dearly love for Darren McFadden to wind up in Big D, adding fellow Razorback Felix as a complement to Marion Barber is a solid consolation prize.
29. San Francisco 49ers (from Colts) – Early Doucet, WR, LSU
It’s possible that Mike Martz’s contract stipulates that the Niners draft a wide receiver in the first round, as San Fran’s current corps won’t make anyone forget the Greatest Show on Turf.
30. Green Bay Packers – Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
The Pack lacks any glaring needs, and there’s no clamor to surround Aaron Rodgers with more firepower, so they can use the “best player available” card. Green Bay is also famous for trading down and out of the first round, picking up a couple mid-round selections in the process.
31. New York Giants – Dan Connor, LB, Penn State
The Super Bowl champs wrap up the first round by helping their defense. If they think a linebacker can be had later and see secondary help they like (such as corner Justin King or safety Thomas DeCoud), they may go that route instead.