Why not? Yes, most mock drafts conducted this early are rendered utterly useless by free agency, but let's get serious: would y'all rather talk about the Pro Bowl? (We'll do that tomorrow... ahh, the off-season.)
I know that many of you are very much into the NFL Draft, so in the midst of all of our free agent talk, we'll take a break on a Saturday night to roll out the first Buffalo Rumblings mock draft of 2008. I've written a little blurb for each pick (and a little more for the Bills' pick); I encourage you to yell at me in regards to picks you don't agree with. I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say.
1. Miami Dolphins: Chris Long, DE, Virginia
- Parcells is going line, and he's going defense - that's just what he does. Long has an NFL pedigree, which Parcells also has historically favored.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Long, OT, Michigan
- Scott Linehan needs to save his job. He can do that by giving Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson a line, so that they may utilize their talents.
3. Atlanta Falcons: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
- Yes, they need a quarterback. But GM Tom Dimitroff was part of an organization (NE) that has three first-rounders on their line. Head Coach Mike Smith had two first-round tackles in Jacksonville in Henderson/Stroud. You see the trends.
4. Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
- Easy. Al Davis is a sucker for big-time talent and speed. McFadden has both.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
- A pretty major reach at this point, but the Chiefs need to keep Larry Johnson happy and Brodie Croyle upright. Gholston will be considered if Jared Allen leaves as a free agent.
6. New York Jets: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
- Ellis can play either nose or end in a 3-4, and would give the Jets everything Dewayne Robertson hasn't. Scary two picks for AFC East foes...
7. New England Patriots: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
- ... and the trifecta from hell is complete. New England has a huge track record for converting ends to linebackers, and their linebackers are getting old. If Gholston is there, he's absolutely the pick at this point. Awful, awful trade by the 49ers.
8. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
- This is a no-brainer if he gets this far. Ryan is the consensus top quarterback, and the Ravens have needed a quarterback since, well, they were the Ravens.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
- Cincy's linebackers are pretty bad, but Harvey represents a better value at this point. Plus, Justin Smith's future is in question. Harvey could stick if the team transitions to a 3-4 as well.
10. New Orleans Saints: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
- The Saints have terrible luck defending the pass. They need an upgrade over Jason David in a bad way. McKelvin will be the top corner prospect, if he isn't already.
11. Buffalo Bills: Keith Rivers, LB, USC
- OK. Barring a trade (and there aren't any in this mock), the Bills will take the best player available at #11 from any of the following positions: DT, LB, or CB. South Florida's Mike Jenkins was a consideration; North Carolina's Kentwan Balmer even more so. But Rivers is not only the best prospect of that trio, he may be the best prospect available period. He is one of only two to three linebackers who could start over Keith Ellison right away - and the Bills absolutely need to make that happen. In this scenario, Rivers is by far the best pick for this team.
12. Denver Broncos: Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
- The Broncos' defensive line is still a mess. They've got some young speed rushers on the edge; Merline is a very well-rounded complement that would instantly upgrade their run defense.
13. Carolina Panthers: Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
- Both of the Panthers' starting tackles will be free agents, so it's safe to say they'll need at least one replacement. Otah may eventually end up being ranked ahead of Clady, and could start immediately.
14. Chicago Bears: Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
- The Bears don't have to take a quarterback, which is why they'll consider bolstering the lines or potentially replacing Lance Briggs. But when a blue-chip quarterback falls to #14, you have to take him.
15. Detroit Lions: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
- Detroit's got a few problems, most of them defensively. They're close to a playoff berth, so getting a cornerback that can match up with Green Bay's great receivers could give Detroit a boost in the NFC North.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
- The Cardinals, like the Lions, need a sturdier defense to win consistently. Talib would bring leadership and playmaking ability to their average secondary.
17. Minnesota Vikings: DeSean Jackson, WR, California
- The quest for a competent passing game continues in Minnesota, where they're doing anything to take some pressure off of their terrific run game. Jackson is a deep threat with outstanding skills in the return game.
18. Houston Texans: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
- Ahman Green is over the hill, Ron Dayne is a specialist, and in reality, the Texans have a non-existent rushing attack. Stewart is a potential All-Pro that would bring some physicality to their offense.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
- Philly does not have a receiver that can make plays over the middle; they do have some nice threats in Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis. Kelly complements them well.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
- Balmer is a solid fit in a Cover-2 scheme due to his penetration skills, and the Bucs will likely continue to upgrade a young, solid defense.
21. Washington Redskins: Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
- The Redskins desperately need more size in their receiving corps, and they need to continue to surround Jason Campbell with talent. Sweed helps out in both areas.
22. Dallas Cowboys: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
- Clearly, the Cowboys need to work on their secondary. Jacques Reeves is a free agent and Anthony Henry may shift to safety. Rodgers-Cromartie is rising up charts and could see time immediately in Big D.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Branden Albert, OG, Virginia
- Pittsburgh will almost certainly be upgrading their line with this pick. Chris Williams could have easily gone here as well, but Alan Faneca could be on his way out, and Albert has versatility between guard and tackle.
24. Tennessee Titans: Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (FL)
- Tennessee's defensive line is in shambles, as they have four major free agents this year. The line will need to be addressed, most likely at end. Campbell can play both outside and in.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
- Shaun Alexander sure aged quickly. Mike Holmgren really, really needs to find a running game before his final Seahawk season begins.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
- Jags fans would probably cringe at another wideout pick, but Manningham would give the Jags a deep threat element that they haven't had since the days of Jimmy Smith. He'd complement the likes of Reggie Williams and Dennis Northcutt very well.
27. San Diego Chargers: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (FL)
- If Phillips lasts this long, the Chargers would have the card up to the podium in about 14 seconds. They're still looking for an elite safety, and Phillips could very well be that player.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
- Running back isn't a giant priority in Dallas, but Jones would help them out immensely. He complements Marion Barber III very well, and he's also an explosive return man - something Dallas hasn't had in quite a while.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Early Doucet, WR, LSU
- Darrell Jackson didn't solve the 49ers' wideout problems last season, as Arnaz Battle was still their top option. That needs to change; Doucet is a smooth receiver who would help the Niners move the chains consistently.
30. Green Bay Packers: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
- Williams is the best player available, and the Packers have a propensity for pulling out surprise picks. Both of their tackles are on the wrong side of 30, so Williams would be an outstanding future addition for the team - and he can play inside right away if need be.
31. New York Giants: Reggie Smith, S, Oklahoma
- After shutting down the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Steve Spagnuolo deserves to play with new toys next season. Smith is a great athlete and a versatile defensive back; he'd help Spags out at safety immediately.
Anybody interested in a second round?