I analogize the combine to a player's Super Bowl performance; it's the big game and all eyes are on you. Players are nervous and anxious to be crowned victors. Yes, it's important to gauge how a player will perform under pressure, but you can't make it to the big game without one heck of a season. Thus, performing under familiar circumstances with one's own team (i.e. pro days), is what I analogize to regular season play. This is the most critical component.
With this being said, expect this mock to change yet again after pro day workouts are complete. *Note*I added this commentary primarily to support players, like Matt Ryan who opted not to participate in combine workouts. Team familiarity and cohesiveness are key...look at Romo and Witten, Brady and Moss, Strahan and Umenyiora.]
**After the mock, posted below, please find a list of recent free agent signing**
Rhonnie's 2008 NFL Mock Draft - Second Edition
Miami - Chris Long, pro day 3/18/08, (DE); Prior to free agency I debated between Dorsey and C. Long, although neither option is worth the money (actually no player is.) I originally decided to pick Dorsey, he is a phenomenal athlete, tibia injury and all. However, Miami acquired DT (Randy Starks) and are negotiating with the Cowboys to obtain (DT) Jason Ferguson. So I moved to C. Long as Miami's selection. Until I read that Miami inked LB/DE Calvin Pace. These free agent acquisitions made me start thinking Matt Ryan, but Miami pulled another one and acquired Josh McCown. What does all of this mean? First, selecting another DT would be ridiculous. Secondly, McCown's signing means John Beck will get another season to prove his worth. Lastly, Pace's signing means nothing...he is no C. Long. *Note* Long received the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the year award. **Double Note** In 2007, Glenn Dorsey was awarded the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Outland Trophy, the Lott Trophy and the Lombardi Award, becoming the only player to have won all four awards.**
St. Louis - Vernon Gholston, pro day 3/7/08, (DE); I'm going to take a gamble here. St. Louis needs a DE, so I'm calling it...it's between Chris Long and Vernon Gholston. Due simply to his pedigree Long will go first. Both players are phenomenal, and despite the stats I'm not convinced that Long is hands down better than Gholston. Gholston had a stellar college career. On Nov. 13, Gholston sacked Wisconsin's QB a whooping four times, tying the OSU record for most sacks in a game. Also, Gholston broke Mike Vrabel's record for the most sacks in a season by recording 14 sacks in 13 games. This past season, Gholston also dominated Jake Long's Wolverines by making 3 sacks (two against J. Long.) In 2007, Gholston recorded 37 tackles, 151/2 for a loss. *Note*I spoke with Vernon about my mock draft. Naturally, he thinks I'm a bit misguided! According to him, he is the best DE in the draft... I certainly look forward to Gholston proving me wrong. **Double Note** St. Louis also needs a replacement for Orlando Pace (OT). Pace is aging and St. Louis's offense was decimated when Pace was missing. Bulger needs protection, STL cannot have a repeat of last season.**
Atlanta - Matt Ryan, pro day 3/18/08, (QB); anyone or anything that Atlanta drafts will be an upgrade. Atlanta is on the brink of a meltdown. So, we must ask...does Atlanta have the time to wait an additional year for their first round draft pick to mature? Atlanta needs an instant playmaker to gain the fans back and to sell some tickets. So, is QB M. Ryan the best option; or should ATL choose a guaranteed instant playmaker like D. McFadden? The bottom line is, "if ATL doesn't take a strong QB now, then when?" There are no decent QB's still available in free agency, so drafting a QB now is the smartest option. The argument can be made for taking McFadden now and selecting Henne, Woodson, or Flacco in the second round but are they worth the gamble? I think not. Several teams are looking for depth at the QB position, so why risk missing a top rated QB. *Note* McFadden has DOUBLE baby momma drama. Atlanta is still suffering from the negative publicity created by Mike Vick...the double paternity suit may be a precursor to future issues. I know this is a bit harsh, but ATL has no time for additional confusion. **Double Note** After reading several ATL fan blogs, it's apparent that the fans want McFadden. ***Triple Note*** Atlanta just inked RB Michael Turner.***
Oakland - Jake Long, pro day 3/15/08, (OT); Oakland will use good business judgment (first time for everything) and forgo on Darren McFadden. Last year the Raiders drafted JaMarcus Russell at an OBNOXIOUS contract price. Financially speaking, it doesn't make sense to draft yea another costly powerhouse such as McFadden. Most importantly, Oakland doesn't need McFadden (Oakland resigned Justin Fargas.) Also, Oakland resigned DT, Tommy Kelly and they cut OT Barry Sims (got to get protection for last year's number 1 pick, J. Russell.) I can almost guarantee that Oakland will make a move for Jake Long...provided St. Louis doesn't rain on their parade.
Kansas City - Ryan Clady, pro day 3/18/08, (OT); K.C. needs serious assistance here and there is no QB worth the money associated with a number five pick. I have my doubt's placing Clady this high, but as I said the need is immediate. Clady is 6'6 weighing 317 pounds...he's a big boy who still manages to impress with his athleticism and footwork.
New York Jets - Darren McFadden, pro day 3/25/08, (RB); First, let's agree that the Jet's week 17 victory was pointless. The Jet's need a DE/LB, Vernon Gholston would be the ideal selection, but I don't foresee him lasting this long. However, if St. Louis opts for Jake Long then expect everything to change. For now the Jet's are my catchall team, whoever is still available they will take. If McFadden is available then he will be a Jet, if not and Gholston is available then he will be a Jet and if neither is available then Ellis will be a Jet. I cannot determine the most pressing need; Vilma is gone so a replacement is needed. But, Thomas Jones isn't getting any younger or better, so I've decided to just give them the best player available. I'm not sure Keith River's is worth the pick. Additionally, the Jets will not mimic Arizona's blunder last season. The Cards passed on 2007's most touted RB, Adrian Peterson, and opted instead for Levi Brown (OT). Peterson almost singlehandedly carried his team to the post season...and what did the Card's fifth pick Levi Brown do? Exactly!
New England - Leodis McKelvin, pro day 3/4/08 and 3/11/08, (CB); Asante Samuels is officially an Eagle so a replacement is necessary. This team could also use a quality LB. While Bruschi just resigned a multiyear deal, he is still on the decline, Seau was born in the 60's and undergoing shoulder surgery, and Varbrel isn't getting any younger either, so finding a young LB is must. Keith Rivers or Dan Conner could go here...but a top ten pick is a bit generous for these two. *Note* bloggers are predicting that New England will trade down for the Cowboys two picks thus enabling the Cowboys to acquire McFadden. While, this is a novel ideal, especially since New England has two pressing needs, I don't predict this happening. I expect McFadden to come off the board before New England picks, thus rendering this trade moot.
Baltimore - Mike Jenkins, pro day 3/7/08, (CB); no other QB is worth a number 8 pick. I stick with my original prediction....Troy Smith, stand up!
Cincinnati - Glenn Dorsey, pro day 3/4/08, (DT); I know, this is awful low for Dorsey, but crap happens.
New Orleans - Sedrick Ellis, pro day 4/2/08, (DT); N.O. desperately needs to improve at the CB position, but they also need a solid DT to rush the pass. If Ellis is still on the board, he would be a steal. *Note* N.O. signed C.B. Randall Gray today, they can acquire another CB later in the draft.*
Buffalo - DeSean Jackson, pro day 3/11/08, (WR); Lee Evans could use additional help to split the load. I read that Buffalo is also looking for a top tight end. However, when doing a cost benefit analysis a receiver makes more sense. A decent tight end can be picked up later. Jackson is an All American WR and decent return specialist. In his senior year Jackson recorded 60 receptions for 1,075 yards and 15 TD's.
Denver - Kentwan Balmer, pro day 3/4/08 and 4/1/08, (DT); In my first draft I predict that Denver would select a SS to eventually replace the aging John Lynch, however I neglected to pay adequate attention to the retirement of Matt Lepsis. So, I then selected an OT for this team. However, as you can see, the top two OT's are off the board, so acting strategically Denver must address another concern, DT. Balmer is one of the draft's most underrated players. Balmer stands 6'5, weighs 295 and ran a 5.05. Additionally, Carolina is known for taking N.C. natives (Balmer is a UNC alum, like myself.) **Double Note** During the summer before Kentwan's first semester, I was his pre-college counselor...so you Denver fans can thank me later for molding this future NFL star. **
Carolina - Rasard Mendenhall, pro day 3/12/08, (RB); Carolina has a lot of holes to fill this off-season. With Deshaun Foster (RB) gone there is a need at this position and with the trade of Kris Jenkins (DT) there is also a need here. So, this pick can arguably go either way. However, to best maximize this pick, Carolina would be wise to take Mendenhall. * Note* Carolina looks to be extremely active during free agency... however, they might not be in the best position in terms of salary cap...so acquiring a first round RB might be a bit sticky.*
Bears - Brian Brohm, pro day 3/18/08, (QB); I stick by this....Rex isn't the long term solution; he will help train young Brohm....because I said so folks!
Detroit - Jeff Otah, pro day 3/24/08, (OT)
Arizona - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, pro day 3/21/08, (CB); I am hesitant to talk about this pick for fear that I may jinx it. I originally had Antoine Cason going to AZ, but I now think 16 is a bit high for Cason. DRC amazed scouts and fans with his pure athleticism. His Senior Bowl performance, vertical jump, and 40 were all ridiculous. AZ released Terrence Holt and moved Antrel Rolle to S. This leaves Eric Green and Rod Hood at the CB position. Needless to say AZ does not have the best secondary. Arizona's offense is finally meshing; all we need now is a defensive boost. Adding a shut it down CB will bring a competitive spark to the current CB corps. Realistically speaking, Hood is a total loss, fbut Green recently extended his rookie contract. So, the added competition might finally bring Green's talents to light. Admittedly, a DE might go here, but DRC will be well worth the price tag. *Note* adding a RB in the first round is ridiculous. EJ is aging but he isn't done yet...and signing a RB in the first round wouldn't be wise. Jamaal Charles or Chris Johnson might be available in the second round...either player would have time to mature under the tutelage of EJ...our offense is straight but our defense is not. Enough said*
Vikings - Phillip Merling, pro day 4/3/08, (DE); Minnesota needs any and everything on defense possible, especially a good pass rusher. Minn. ranked worse in the NFL in pass rush. *Note* Minn. acquired Mandieu Williams (S) in free agency, so this need is now moot.* **Double Note** Merling and Chris Long both ran a 4.75 40, the only DE to run faster is Vernon Gholston**
Houston - Jonathan Stewart, pro days 3/13/08 and 3/20/08, (RB); at this point Houston is going to have to sit back and analyze who is the best player left. I agree with bloggers who believe Houston will greatly benefit from a top CB, but the CB's left don't amount to Stewart.
Philadelphia - Mario Manningham, pro day 3/25/08, (WR); The Eagle's just acquired CB Asante Samuel. This acquisition has a lot of mocks out of sync...this time the early bird doesn't get the worm. I purposefully postponed posting my mock to await the first day of free agency (lie, I couldn't decide the order of the first five picks J.) Anyway, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that Philly no longer needs a CB and must now address the WR issue. Manniningham is a spectacular athlete. In 2007, Manningham recorded 72 receptions for 1,174 yards and 12 touchdowns. *Note* On October 10th 2006, Manningham underwent arthroscopic knee surgery...ouch*
Tampa Bay - Derrick Harvey, pro day 3/18/08, (DE); because of his inconsistency I've decided to place Harvey behind Merling.
Washington - Malcolm Kelly, pro day 3/11/08, (WR); Washington would like to acquire a big bodied WR through free agency, but I don't that will occur...Javon Walker isn't worth it. Instead, I predict Washington will select big bodied possession receiver Malcolm Kelly. This kid stands 6-4, weighs 219 pounds and still managed to run a 4.45 40 (yes he is a bit thin...but weight is adjustable, height isn't.)
Cowboys - Chris Johnson, pro day 3/5/08, (RB); I don't know what Jerry Jones and Co. have up their sleeves BUT I suggest they sit back and relax. The Cowboys are going to eventually need a receiver and thy currently need a replaced for Jones...so Johnson would be the perfect option. Johnson has amazing speed and has the potential to develop into either a good running back or wide receiver. Johnson lacks the bulk that many running backs possess however he can still get the job done. He reminds me a lot of Willie Parker.
Pittsburgh - Brandon Albert, pro day 3/18/08, (OG); Faneca's out, Albert's in.
Titans - Limas Sweed, pro day 3/19/08, (WR); a former teammate of Vince Young, so why not. Some mocks have Mario Manningham going here but recent reports mention that Mario has a questionable attitude. Needless to say, the Titans need any additional hot heads or anyone with an attitude that might ignite a hot head. Haynesworth and Young are volatile enough.
Seattle- Fred Davis, pro day 4/2/08, (TE)
Jacksonville - Quentin Groves, pro day 3/10/08, (DE); with the recent signing of Jerry Porter, I am pretty darn confidant J-Ville will not select a WR in the first round. With this need addressed I look toward the DE position. This might be a bit too high for Groves but he is a decent player. He recorded 23 career sacks (2nd in Auburn history.)
San Diego - Kenny Phillips, pro day 2/29/08, (S)
Cowboys - Aqib Talib, pro day 3/11/08, (CB)
San Francisco - Early Doucet, pro days 3/26/08, (WR); 49ner's coach Mike Nolan analogized Doucet to Arizona's Anquan Boldin. Nolan's interest is certainly peaked by Doucet who unfortunately left the Senior Bowl early due to injury. In his collegiate career Doucet made two game winning touchdowns and amassed 1,400 yrds. QB Alex Smith, who signed a contract extension until 2010, could use another talented target.
Green Bay - Antoine Cason, pro day 3/8/07, (CB); I like this kid. This Thrope winner is going to make his mark on the NFL and if my Cards can't have him, then I suppose Farve and Friends can. Cason's speed was a concern going into the combine but he managed to run a 4.4 40...so I think he silenced some of the critics. *Notes* this kid has already started his non-profit work, he established Cason Cares in honor of his Grandfather who passed from a form of leukemia on Feb. 6th. Cason's efforts have helped raise funds for the American Cancer Society*
Giants - Keith Rivers, pro day 4/2/08, (OLB)
Free Agent Updates
- Jonathan Vilma (LB) signed the Saints
- Asante Samuel (CB) signed with the Eagles
- Jerry Porter (WR) signed with the Jacksonville
- Alan Fanaca (OG) signed with the Jets
- Mandieu Williams (S) signed with the Vikings
- Derek Anderson (QB) resigned with the Browns
- Kris Jenkins (DT) signed with the Jets
- Javon Walker (WR) was released by the Broncos (scheduled to visit the Cowboys)
- Josh McC own (QB) signed with the Dolphins
- Tommy Kelly (DT) resigned with the Raiders
- Shaun Rodgers (DT) signed with the Browns
- Justin Smith (DE) signed with the 49ners
- Calvin Pace (LB/DE) signed with the Dolphins
- Bernard Berrian (WR) signed with the Vikings
- Donte Stallworth (WR) signed with the Browns
- Issac Bruce (WR) signed with the 49ners
- Allan Rossum (KR/CB) signed with the 49ners
- Chris Clemmons (DE) signed with the Jets
- Drayton Florence (CB) signed with the Jaguars
- Michael Turner (RB) signed with the Falcons