Top-Notch Linemen Dominate ’08 NFL Draft

Alex Whitaker

With the highly-anticipated NFL Draft taking place in New York City on Saurday, the picture at the top is finally coming into focus. Here is my take on who the first eight teams should pick and who they will probably end up taking during the first round.

1. Miami Dolphins – Should Pick: DE Chris Long, UVA. Will Pick: Jake Long, Michigan. It’s a good year for the Long clan. I believe that Chris Long is the best prospect in this draft (besides RB Darren McFadden, who will not be taken in the top three because of established running back depth for these teams). However, the Tuna has already signed Jake Long (no relation) to a five-year, $57.75 million dollar contract, because the team believed he would be the least likely to hold out and cause a ruckus. With everything that Oakland went through last season to sign last year’s first overall pick and QB JaMarcus Russell, this might be a good move by the Fins.

2. St. Louis Rams – Should Pick: DE Chris Long, UVA. Will Pick: DE Chris Long, UVA. Yes, I have a slight mancrush on Chris Long. Maybe it’s because his dad has the best flattop ever, or maybe it’s just because he is just a stud, but the man deserves to be picked in the top two. St. Louis will go bezerk when C-Long falls into their lap and teams up with Leonard Little and Adam Carriker to create a monster defensive line.

3. Atlanta Falcons – Should Pick: DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU. Will Pick: QB Matt Ryan, BC. I like Glenn Dorsey almost as much as I like Chris Long, and I feel that he would be a great pick here for the Falcons. Dorsey is big, strong and durable. All signs pointed to him being done for the season after a scary-looking knee injury this past year at LSU. Instead, he came back the next game with just a brace on. However, in the wake of the Michael Vick disaster, Atlanta will jump at their first chance to land a solid quarterback, and Ryan is the highest-ranked gunslinger in the draft.

4. Oakland Raiders – Should Pick: DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU. Will Pick: RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas. Dorsey would fit well with the Raiders too, as the team could then keep Tommy Kelly at defensive end and pair Dorsey with Gerard Warren in the interior of the line. However, Al Davis is a nutjob and will take the highest player left on the board regardless of team needs. McFadden will join a crowded Oakland backfield alongside Justin Fargas, LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes, but will emerge as the starter by the end of the season.

5. Kansas City Chiefs – Should Pick: DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU. Will Pick: DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU. Finally! Dorsey will drop to Kansas City at fifth and be the best value pick of the first round. In fact, I bet that five years down the road, both Atlanta and Oakland will regret passing over the LSU standout. The Chiefs will look long and hard at offensive tackles Ryan Clady and Brandon Albert to block for franchise RB Larry Johnson, but they will take the safe pick and go with Dorsey.

6. New York Jets – Should Pick: DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State. Will Pick: DE Vernon Gholston. Despite signing RB Thomas Jones two offseasons ago, most Jets fans are obsessed with the possibility of picking Darren McFadden. While I won’t rule out the possibility of New York trading up for the former Razorback, Buckeye pass-rusher extraordinaire Vernon Gholston is a better fit for Gang Green, who need to get more pressure on the quarterback to pull even with their NFC city-mates. Gholston could be asked to play linebacker or defensive end, depending on where the Jets need him, and this versatility will make him extremely hard to pass over.

7. New England Patriots – Should Pick: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee St. Will Pick: LB Keith Rivers, USC. First of all, New England possessing the seventh overall pick is just unfair. Why couldn’t the league have stripped the team of this pick instead of the 31st for Spygate? However, the Patriots should use the pick to upgrade their secondary after the loss of star CB Asante Samuel. Rodgers-Cromartie is a feel-good story, excelling at a DI-FCS school and shooting up draft boards after a spectacular performance at the Senior Bowl. However, the Pats will most likely use their pick on Rivers to infuse some much-needed youth into an aging starting linebacker corps whose average age is 31.

8. Baltimore Ravens – Should Pick: WR Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma. Will Pick: DT Sedrick Ellis, USC. Baltimore has about as much offensive firepower as baseball’s San Francisco Giants (translation: almost zero), and needs an upgrade at wide receiver to open the field up for RB Willis McGahee. Kelly is a big, strong, natural football player, reminding many scouts of Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin. Yet the Ravens have an obsession with building up their defense and ignoring their offensive struggles. Thus, look for them to go with Ellis, who is by all means a great player in his own right.