Greetings Bengals’ Nation! In my inaugural post (many, many more to come) I will be providing a bit of insight into our upcoming draft. To start, I’m going to give my top 9 Mock Draft to explain all the possible ways we will blow this pick. I’m only going to #9 ‘cause that’s where we pick, until Marvin decides to trade that pick for a ham sandwich—which may actually bolster our D-line better than any of the players he’s chosen thus far.
#1 Dolphins – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Most draft “gurus” out there think this will be Glen Dorsey. No way. I will seriously bet any of the five readers out there that Dorsey will not be the first pick. A quick look at Bill Parcells’ entire draft history in round 1 (seriously, I looked) shows that he has never, in 20 years as head coach, selected a DT 1st round.
Chris Long is a perfect fit because he’s not only the son of NFL icon Howie Long, he’s also a great player and a safe bet. Think Justin Smith…except with talent (side note: can you believe “Bustin” 2.5-sack-Smith was #4 overall!) Parcells could surprise and go with Matt Ryan, QB from BC, but I think it’s between those two. Remember this: football is a business, and the Dolphins were one shitty Ravens team away from going 0-16!!! You can bet that owner Wayne Huizenga wants to fill some seats, and you do that with flash (normally DE is not flashy, but he’s Howie’s kid. Poor guy.)
#2 Rams – Jake Long, OT,
In all seriousness, the Rams could make the playoffs next year. Granted, their division matches up with the NFC East, but I still think they can win the NFC West. Even the Bengals were not as injury-prone as these clowns last year. Orlando Pace is getting rickety, and they need to stabilize the O-line. I know the prevailing wisdom is that they want to pair a D-lineman with last year’s 1st Rounder Adam Carikker, but I don’t think they will. Why? They have freaking Steven Jackson!
The key to winning games in St. Louis in the modern era has and will continue to be through the offense. Bulger is overrated (or at least he was), but he’s a solid, mid-tier QB, and Jackson—when healthy—is all-world. This should be a no-brainer. If the Dolphins surprise and take Jake Long at #1, this pick is either Glenn Dorsey or Chris Long—but I have a feeling both Long’s are going #1-2.
#3 Falcons – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Come on. Really? You don’t see this? Ever heard of Michael Vick? Ryan is the antithesis of Vick—he’s a pocket passer, a pure (Carson-esque) QB, and he doesn’t murder dogs. In the four plays I’ve seen of him on continuous loop on the NFL network , he completed all 4 passes—not only that, three were for TDs! That’s a QB rating of 158.3! Seriously though, he’s the total package for Atlanta—squeaky clean and sells tickets for a franchise that desperately needs both.
#4 Raiders – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
I’m going with the flow on this one. Al Davis is crazy, but since he just picked up JaMarcus Russell last year, it would seem somewhat logical to pair Russell with a playmaker. I see McFadden becoming the next Reggie Bush—a guy who might ring up some big plays, but will never be the type of every-down back you want on your team. The bottom line is that when you watch the tape, McFadden is amazing at getting through holes and making guys miss. But those holes close quickly in the NFL, and he is not very impressive after contact.
Glenn Dorsey would be an option here—and the more sensible Lane Kiffen might opt for him—but this is still Al Davis’ show. I think consensus is right on this one and McFadden will be the pick unless Jerry Jones does something stupid and trades up (much more likely to happen here than at #1, which would cost a team the ridiculous sum of $30 Million in guaranteed money).
#5 Chiefs – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
It should be noted here that picks 3, 4, 5 have yet to be decided by a series of coin flips between the Falcons, Raiders, and Chiefs. However, I don’t think it will impact the choices much given the needs of the three teams and the players left on the board. If Jake Long is around he definitely makes sense since the Chiefs once high-powered running game is about as good as the Bengals’ gimpy running game these days. Ryan Clady, OT from Boise St. is also a definite possibility.
However, Herm Edwards is a defensive-minded coach, and although the QB situation is still shaky, the run D needs some help (particularly if they lose sack leader Jared Allen to FA, which is unlikely since he will almost certain get the franchise tag). I think Dorsey falls to them here, and they can’t pass up on his value.
#6 Jets – Sedrick Ellis, DE, USC
And now it gets tough for the Bengals. Sedrick Ellis is probably my favorite player in this draft. I watched every practice and snap of the Senior Bowl, and he was an absolute stud the entire time. More than that, in his interviews you can tell this guy just wants to play football. Some of the highlights floating around out there for this kid are ridiculous—it should be illegal for a man of his size to be so athletic. The early thinking was that he might be too small to play nose in a 3-4, but after weighing in at 308 lbs. at the Senior Bowl, you can bet he’s got people thinking he can play 3-technique.
The Jets finished 29th in total rush defensive last year and 25th in team sacks, so Ellis would certainly fill a need on both fronts. DE and OT also make sense here, so Vernon Gholston and Ryan Clady are options, but Ellis is too good a value to pass up.
#7 – Cheaters (Patriots), Keith Rivers, LB, USC
This is a tough one, because the Patriots could go in a couple directions largely based on who leaves in the next couple months. Asante Samuel is gone via FA, that seems obvious. Belichick just doesn’t pay a lot for DB’s—he’s gotten by on guys like Hank Poteat and Ashley Ambrose for crying out loud! Belichick, unlike Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown, understands that defensive scheme and guys that play well in that scheme are more important than having high-priced athletes. NFL WRs are going to get open eventually, so it starts upfront with pressuring the QB.
That said, Vernon Gholston is a serious consideration here, but has less of a proven resume than Rivers. Both Seau and Bruschi could potentially retire (I’m not sure either will), but even so the Pats need a little youth at LB, and Rivers is a proven player who worked in an NFL-type system at USC, so he’s the guy.
#8 – Ravens, Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
I think Ogden will retire this year. I know there are reports that he will return, but it’s just a gut feeling. Clady will not be as good as Ogden (few ever were), but he’s massive and can give the Ravens more stability as they try to revamp the offense. Brian Brohm, QB from Louisville, is a definite possibility here—in fact, I almost want to pick him—but to me he seems similar to what they already have in Kyle Boller (seriously, when Boller came out of college, who would you pick between these two?) This is a boring but safe pick for a new head coach, so we’ll see what he does. Regardless, I don’t think the Ravens will pick D given the sad state of the offense. My money is on OT or QB.
#9 Bengals, Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio St.
Replacement for/upgrade over Justin Smith. Now we get to the details. It looks like Odell will be back, but it’s tough to tell what that means. Pollack is done—I don’t care if he decides he’s coming back, he will not last (I love the guy, but a neck fracture is far too serious to fool around with). Gholston gives the Bengals a few options—he’s a prototypical 4-3 rush end, but if they do decide to go to a 3-4, he could definitely move back to OLB along with Geathers. However, this begs the question of who would play the line?
Peko is the obvious choice for nose, unless they draft someone for that position (Red Bryant?) Fanene has prototypical size for a 3-4 end, and he would probably be paired with Robinson or Frostee Rucker. That would leave Thurman and Brooks in the middle, Geathers and Gholston on the outside, with help from (probably) Dhani Jones, Eric Handerson, and maybe Landon Johnson. Personally I think Landon will be snatched up in FA, which is a shame.
But all of this is moot until the draft. The other options here could be Derrick Harvey or Phillip Merling, both DE’s, Harvey a better fit for a 4-3 and Merling a better fit for a 3-4. If Ellis, Dorsey, Chris Long, Jake Long, Rivers, and Gholston are all gone, don’t be surprised if Marvin goes after an OT like Clady.
Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami
Calais Campbell,DE, Miami
Kentwan Balmer, DT, UNC
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Seriously, I wouldn’t put it past this crew to select a RB. Phillips is contingent on Madieu leaving via FA, and Campbell and Balmer are boom-or-bust prospects. The last option, of course, is that we trade down. I could see Marvin doing this and targeting a LB, DE/DT, and a TE. In a dream scenario, we get either Ellis or Dorsey, but it seems very unlikely.
So, to recap, in my opinion there will be six players off the board when we pick:
Chris Long, DE
Jake Long, OT
Glenn Dorsey, DT
Sedrick Ellis, DT
Darren McFadden, RB
Keith Rivers, OLB or Vernon Gholston (one or the other)
We are in a prime position for a boom-or-bust pick. My bet is it will be either Vernon Gholston or Keith Rivers. We’ll see how it plays out. More to come following the NFL Scouting Combine.