While creating a mock draft is a pretty futile exercise, especially before free agency has even started, I had time and so I went for it. I tried to take into consideration free agency moves that I see as likely to happen, and explained when I did so. It's only one round; I thought about doing a second, but it would be a lot more guesswork, since about halfway through round two I'd be running into people I haven't done much research on.
I'm sure you'll disagree plenty, so when you do, feel free to tell me how you'd fix it:
1. Miami Dolphins- DE Chris Long, Virginia
Parcells can’t pass up the pedigree or potential of a player who’s performed well at every pre-draft event.
2. St. Louis Rams- OT Jake Long, Michigan
Heir apparent to Orlando Pace, a stud tackle to protect their investments in both Bulger and Jackson.
3. Atlanta Falcons- RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas
It is well-documented the Falcons need a QB, but with the hope that they can nab Flacco in round 2, they can’t pass up on the athleticism of McFadden.
4. Oakland Raiders- DT Sedric Ellis, USC
The Raiders need a DT, and while injury concerns and non-participation cloud Dorsey, Ellis’s stock keeps rising.
5. Kansas City Chiefs- DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU
Despite injury concerns he stays in the top 5 with a good Pro Day, and bolsters the Chief’s lackluster defensive line.
6. New York Jets- DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
Not a huge need, but a huge talent who’s stock is on the rise. What they need is offensive play makers, but with McFadden gone and no highly rated WR’s, Gholston’s the best available player and they take him.
7. New England Patriots- CB Leodus McKelvin, Troy State
While they need youth at LB, Belichick knows he can find LB’s to fit into his system, and the Patriots don’t use first-round picks on LB. They take the top-rated CB as a replacement to Samuel.
8. Baltimore Ravens- QB Matt Ryan, Boston College
At this point the Ravens get a good value for a much-needed improvement at the QB position.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- RB, Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
With Mendenhall’s stock rapidly on the rise, the Bengals use the opportunity to pick a replacement to the rapidly-aging Rudi Johnson.
10. New Orleans Saints- FS Kenny Phillips, Miami
The Saints defensive backfield needs help in a big way, and while they try to nab a CB in free agency, they snag the top-rated safety in the draft.
11. Buffalo Bills- WR Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma
The Bills need help in a lot of places, but pulling the top WR in the draft is too tempting to help out young QB Trent Edwards, and spread the field for young RB Marshawn Lynch.
12. Denver Broncos- OT Ryan Clady, Boise State
A great value for the Broncos to fill in for retiring Matt Lepsis
13. Carolina Panthers- RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
After cutting Foster they need more help in the offensive backfield. With Muhammad likely coming in free agency, they won’t look for a WR here, but may look at a DT instead.
14. Chicago Bears- OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt
A good value for the Bears and fills a need. No RB or QB is on the board at this value, so they take the chance to inject some youth in their offensive line.
15. Detroit Lions- CB Mike Jenkins, South Florida
Their sorry defensive backfield gets some help with the quick, solid Jenkins, the #2 CB in the draft.
16. Arizona Cardinals- DE Derrick Harvey, Florida
A versatile DE who could play OLB in a 3-4 system, Arizona looks to inject some youth and power to their pass rush.
17. Minnesota Vikings- WR DeSean Jackson, California
Minnesota picks up a speedy, versatile WR to compliment big deep-threat Sidney Rice and help out project QB Tavaris Jackson
18. Houston Texans- CB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Tennessee State
With a stellar Senior Bowl and a phenomenal combine, Rogers-Cromartie becomes the #3 CB in the draft and easily takes Robinson’s starting spot.
19. Philadelphia Eagles- WR Limas Sweed, Texas
The Eagles listen to McNabb and get him a big, 6’5 WR to throw to.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh
With the top three receivers off the board, the Bucs instead get a good value with the physical Otah, a project with all the right physical tools to be a quality OT for years to come.
21. Washington Redskins- DE Phillip Merling, Clemson
While a tall WR would be nice, the Redskins go for the rising stock of all-around DE Merling.
22. Dallas Cowboys- RB Felix Jones, Arkansas
Fear that the Seahawks will nab Jones with pick # 25 will drive alum Jerry Jones to snag the quick back to compliment Barber in the backfield.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers- OT Sam Baker, USC
Though injury concerns have cause him to fall from the formerly-projected top-10, the Steelers will pick him over Gosder Cherilus, who may be only a RT in the NFL, for his solid fundamentals, versatility, and ability to make an immediate impact.
24. Tennessee Titans- WR James Hardy, Indiana
With a great 40 for his size, and a 6’5 frame, the next step in Vince Young’s development is a red zone target.
25. Seattle Seahawks- TE Dustin Keller, Purdue
Need a RB here, but with the top 4 gone, it would be too much of a reach to go for Jamaal Charles or Chris Johnson, so they decide to grab the TE who vaulted himself into first position with a monster combine.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE Calais Campbell, Miami
The tall (6’8) physical back injects some strength into Jacksonville’s front four. Needs some work to be an NFL back, but has the frame to take a big work load.
27. San Diego Chargers- DT Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina
SD needs a little more umph at RT, and Balmer’s the guy for it. His stock has slipped this month, but he’s a good value for them at 27.
28. Dallas Cowboys- CB Aqib Talib, Kansas
With a solid combine and an outstanding Orange Bowl, Aqib moves in to deepen the shallow Dallas defensive backfield.
29. San Francisco 49ers- WR Early Doucet, LSU
I’m going out on a limb and saying Briggs ends up in San Francisco, so they can focus on getting a valuable WR for the Mike Martz pass-happy offense.
30. Green Bay Packers- CB Antoine Cason, Arizona
The youngest team in the NFL doesn’t have a ton of need this off-season, but its veteran corners are aging rapidly, and they could use depth in this position.
31. New York Giants- OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
Helps protect Manning and clear the way for Jacobs. Could also go CB here (Flowers, Virginia Tech) but I think they’ll want to reinforce their line first.