Caught up in a draft

Set your clocks, the NFL Draft kicks off at 3 p.m. tomorrow on the four-letter. Want a head start? I hear there’s a pre-draft show at high noon.

I thought that’s what we’ve been doing for the past six weeks or so.

I did a mock draft last year, and the results were sort of mixed. So instead of learning the error of my ways and leaving the prognostication to Mel Kiper and his world famous hair, I’m going to try again to correctly peg the top 10 picks.

No, it probably won’t be right. But that’s part of the fun.

1. Miami: Jake Long, OL, Michigan – The Dolphins sucked all the suspense out of this pick, having already signed the former Wolverine to a five-year contract earlier this week. The Fins will try him at left tackle, but scouts say he’s more likely to end up on the right. With John Beck taking the snaps this fall, will it matter much?

2. St. Louis: Chris Long, DE, Virginia – Here’s where it gets tricky. Most experts agree that the Rams will take a defensive lineman. Nobody’s quite sure if it will be Long, the son of Hall of Fame Raider and Fox analyst Howie Long, or LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. The Rams drafted a couple of interior linemen last year, so I’m thinking they’ll try to upgrade at end.

3. Atlanta: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU – The Falcons have a number of need positions, and I’m sure some fans will be clamoring for Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan in this slot. Dorsey is a better fit. With his ability to clog the middle and get after the passer, he’s the kind of guy you can build a defense around.

4. Oakland: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas – The Raiders would be much better off taking an offensive lineman or trading down for some more pickage. Instead, Al Davis will take a running back in the first round in more than a decade (Napoleon Kaufman, 1995).

5. Kansas City: Vernon Gohlston, DE, Ohio State – Here’s where it gets tricky. The Chiefs could take an offensive lineman. They could trade the pick to New Orleans or Baltimore. Or they could try to start healing a self-inflicted wound (they traded all-pro defensive end Jared Allen this week) by drafting Gohlston. Some say the former Buckeye will be the steal of the draft. Others suggest he’s the next Mike Mamula. I’m leaning towards the latter.

6. New York Jets: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC – The Jets are hoping that McFadden or Gholston falls this far, but Ellis isn’t a bad fit in the Meadowlands. Like Dorsey, he can shore up a run defense right away and he could later develop into a solid pro.

7. New England: Keith Rivers, LB, USC – It must be nice to go 18-1 last year and still have a top-10 pick after fleecing San Francisco in a deal last year. The Patriots are getting a little long in the tooth on defense, and Rivers will be a shot in the arm for an already-good linebacking corps.

8. Baltimore: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College – ESPN’s Todd McShay loves him, giving him the second highest rating he’s handed out to a quarterback in the last five years behind only Ben Roethlisberger. I’m a little hung up on his 19 interceptions last season. He was also ranked 61st in passer rating during his senior campaign. The Ravens need a quarterback after the recent retirement of Steve McNair, but I’m not sold on Ryan.

9. Cincinnati: Ryan Clady, OL, Boise State – I doubt the Bengals went in thinking about a lineman, but if Clady slips down this far, they’ll nab him. Some scouts like him better than Long as a potential left tackle.

10. New Orleans: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida – Jenkins is neck-and-neck with Troy’s Leodis McKelvin as the best cornerback on the board, but the former Golden Bull made the most of his senior season and had a strong workout at the NFL Combine. The Saints could use some help in the secondary, and Jenkins offers that assistance.

Other players that could go early: McKelvin, Phillip Merling (DL, Clemson), Derrick Harvey (DE, Florida), Branden Albert (G, Virginia) and Chris Williams (OL, Vanderbilt) 


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