Scout First-Round Mock Draft

Jake Long (Scout.com/Miller Safrit)

With the NFL's focus solely on the NFL Draft at this point in the offseason, the draft forecast is becoming clearer as we progress towards April. Scout.com's NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber updates his first round projections with a few changes throughout.

With free agency dwindling down, the NFL Draft takes center stage. Prospects are conducting their Pro Days and trying to position themselves better as we make our way into April. Compared to my last mock draft, there have been some changes, but as a whole it has a similar feel.

One of the players I had projected in the top-ten has fallen a bit, but will still be selected in the top-20. I'm still projecting a trade to occur late in the first round for one of the Dallas Cowboys first round picks. The team trading up has changed, but the player selected remains the same.

My current mock draft features 14 underclassmen being selected in the first round. There are 31 picks in the first round this year due to the Patriots forfeiting their own selection in light of the Spygate scandal. My first round mock draft also features 15 defensive players versus 16 offensive players being selected.

I project the most popular position in the first round to be defensive end. Scout.com subscribers can view my updated second-round mock draft by clicking here. If you have any questions about my mock draft, email me by clicking on this link.

No.
Team
Pos.
Name
College
Class
Ht.
Wt.

1

DE

Chris Long

Virginia

Sr.

6-3

272

The Dolphins acquired two defensive tackles this offseason — Randy Starks and Jason Ferguson — to add stability up front. But with the talk of Miami and DE Jason Taylor going their separate ways, the addition of a young DE makes sense. If Miami doesn't trade out of the top spot, look for them to select Chris Long as their defensive playmaker.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

2

DE

Vernon Gholston

Ohio State

Jr.

6-3

266

The Rams have had a quiet offseason and haven't made much noise. The only interesting development was the release of last year's free agent pickup DE James Hall. St. Louis has to upgrade their O-Line, and the signing of Jacob Bell and the return of Orlando Pace will help. With Jake Long available, he will be enticing, but Vernon Gholston gives the Rams the explosive defender they need to apply pressure on the QB.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

3

OT

Jake Long

Michigan

Sr.

6-7

315

The signing of Michael Turner in Atlanta guarantees that the Falcons won't draft Darren McFadden. If the Falcons don't select McFadden, they will look at adding a quarterback with Matt Ryan on the board. Sedrick Ellis and Glenn Dorsey are also options to help their defensive line. But adding an offensive tackle like Jake Long, who can start for the next 12 to 15 years, is too much to pass up for the Falcons.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Matt Ryan

4

RB

Darren McFadden

Arkansas

Jr.

6-1

211

The retirement of Warren Sapp leaves the door open for the Raiders to select Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis. The Raiders may select Dorsey and give JaMarcus Russell a familiar face in the locker room, but Ellis has out-shined Dorsey this offseason. With that said, the intrigue of drafting a game-breaker like Darren McFadden is too much for Oakland to pass up. And even though they don't necessarily need a RB, they will select McFadden for his explosiveness.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Jake Long

5

QB

Matt Ryan

Boston College

Sr.

6-4

228

The Chiefs are in a tough spot. They have to decide between adding a cornerback like Leodis McKelvin or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a defensive tackle in Glenn Dorsey, or reaching for an offensive tackle like Ryan Clady or Chris Williams. But with value on the board in Matt Ryan, the Chiefs give Brodie Croyle some competition in camp and make him earn a starting job.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Sedrick Ellis

6

DT

Sedrick Ellis

USC

Sr.

6-0

309

The Jets have been busy in free agency and have added speed and strength to their defense. The Jets traded for Kris Jenkins this offseason and are looking to trade Dewayne Robertson before the draft. But with Jenkins' injury history, the Jets may look to add a young DT. USC's Sedrick Ellis is a player they can build their D-Line around for years to come.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Darren McFadden

7


from 49ers

CB

Leodis McKelvin

Troy

Sr.

5-10

186

Losing Asante Samuel and Randall Gay this offseason makes cornerback the No. 1 priority for the Patriots. Troy's Leodis McKelvin plays a similar style to Samuel and also provides New England with a quality return man on special teams.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

8

CB

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Tennessee State

Sr.

6-1

180

The Ravens have to identify a franchise quarterback and add some stability behind center, but adding a playmaker in the secondary is exactly what the Ravens need. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has seen his stock skyrocket over the last month and will ultimately land in the top-ten with the Ravens.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Aqib Talib

9

DT

Glenn Dorsey

LSU

Sr.

6-1

297

The Bengals desperately need help on defense, especially at linebacker and defensive tackle. Cincinnati lost Justin Smith during free agency, but they added former Titans DE Antwan Odom. With Glenn Dorsey on the board, this is an easy pick for Cincy.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

10

LB

Keith Rivers

USC

Sr.

6-2

241

The Saints added help in the secondary with the addition of Randall Gay and added a solid linebacker in Jonathan Vilma. There are a few options on the board for New Orleans, but with USC's Keith Rivers available, he adds experience and solid play to the Saints defense.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

11

WR

Malcolm Kelly

Oklahoma

Jr.

6-4

224

The Bills have to find a big wideout to compliment Lee Evans. Evans constantly gets double-teamed, so having another option on the other side will benefit the offense. Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly makes the most sense and gives Trent Edwards another option on offense.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

12

OT

Ryan Clady

Boise State

Jr.

6-6

320

The Broncos have done a good job with Jay Cutler’s development, but giving him a quality tackle to grow with makes sense. Ryan Clady may move up in the draft as we make our way towards April, but I still believe he will be available for Denver.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

13

DE

Derrick Harvey

Florida

Jr.

6-4

271

The Panthers will look to upgrade the offensive and defensive line in the first round. Carolina added depth on the D-Line in free agency, but the Panthers have to add a pure pass rusher to help Julius Peppers rebound from a difficult year. Florida's Derrick Harvey fits Carolina's need.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

14

RB

Rashard Mendenhall

Illinois

Jr.

5-10

225

After losing Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad this offseason, the Bears turned to one of their former players, Marty Booker, and also added Brandon Lloyd to help the offense. The Bears have to address another area on offense, and that's their woeful rushing attack. With concerns surrounding Cedric Benson, drafting local product Rashard Mendenhall will give Chicago a boost.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

15

OT

Chris Williams

Vanderbilt

Sr.

6-6

317

The Lions have done a good job of revamping their secondary in free agency and will concentrate on another area in the draft. It's almost certain they won't draft a wide receiver, but they should look to address an area on offense. Adding a quality OT will go a long way in helping the offense be more efficient, and Vanderbilt’s Chris Williams is exactly what they need.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

16

CB

Aqib Talib

Kansas

Jr.

6-1

205

The Cardinals didn't make much of an impact this offseason since they were handcuffed by Larry Fitzgerald's contract. But they've recently worked out a longterm deal with the WR. Arizona signed Travis LaBoy away from Tennessee and will look to upgrade their secondary in the first round. The Cardinals are happy to see playmaking Aqib Talib fall into their lap.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

17


DE

Phillip Merling

Clemson

Jr.

6-4

270

The Vikings were able to sign Bernard Berrian this offseason to help the progression of Tarvaris Jackson, so adding a WR with this selection isn't necessary. But the most glaring need resides at defensive end. Clemson's Phillip Merling is one of the best all around DEs in the draft and is a perfect fit for the Vikings.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

18

OT

Jeff Otah

Pittsburgh

Sr.

6-6

339

The Texans will consider Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart with this pick, but after his toe surgery, Houston will wait to add a RB in the second round and bolster their offensive line. With Pitt's Jeff Otah still on the board, the Texans act quickly and select the massive lineman.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Jonathan Stewart

19

WR

DeSean Jackson

California

Jr.

5-9

169

The Eagles signed one of the top free agents on the market this offseason in Asante Samuel. But adding a safety in the draft like Kenny Phillips is a possibility. The Eagles have been unable to find the playmaker Donovan McNabb has been asking for and they still haven't addressed their need for a return man. Cal's DeSean Jackson answers both of those questions and gives the Eagles instant offense on two levels.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Kenny Phillips

20

WR

Devin Thomas

Michigan State

Jr.

6-2

215

The Buccaneers have to address the receiver position with this pick, and it's possible that they’ll look to add a cornerback. With DeSean Jackson off the board, the pick will be between Limas Sweed and Devin Thomas. Thomas is rising quickly, and the Bucs add a big-play threat who can stretch the field.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: DeSean Jackson

21

WR

Limas Sweed

Texas

Sr.

6-4

215

The Redskins could use a safety, especially with the loss of Sean Taylor. But they decide to pass on Kenny Phillips to address their need for a receiver. Texas' Limas Sweed is a big target who will compliment Santana Moss perfectly.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

22

from Browns

CB

Mike Jenkins

South Florida

Sr.

5-11

200

The Cowboys lost two cornerbacks in free agency, Jacques Reeves and Nathan Jones, so adding depth in the secondary is a must. South Florida's Mike Jenkins provides Dallas with a quality cover corner that they can build their secondary around.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Brian Brohm (Projected trade with Miami)

23

OG

Branden Albert

Virginia

Jr.

6-6

309

Losing Alan Faneca is a tough pill to swallow, but the Steelers will have to move on and find depth on the O-Line. The Steelers were hoping for one of the top tackles to fall to them, but they will turn to the best guard in the draft, Virginia's Branden Albert.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Jeff Otah

24

DE

Quentin Groves

Auburn

Sr.

6-3

259

The Titans have to find a wide receiver who can help Vince Young develop as a QB. But after losing Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy, depth at DE is a must. The Titans signed Jevon Kearse to help the pass rush, but he's not what he used to be. So adding a young pass rusher like Quentin Groves gives the Titans a future star.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

25

TE

Dustin Keller

Purdue

Sr.

6-2

242

The Seahawks haven't drafted a tight end since 2002, and that was used on Jerramy Stevens in the first round. Stevens was a major disappointment and never lived up to his potential. USC's Fred Davis is a possibility and is considered the best TE in the draft, but Purdue's Dustin Keller showed scouts his skills and athleticism at the Combine and has been the most consistent tight end in college football over the last two seasons.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Kentwan Balmer

26

DE

Calais Campbell

Miami

Jr.

6-8

290

The loss of Bobby McCray and Marcus Stroud are huge losses on defense and will force the Jaguars to upgrade in the draft. There are a couple of possibilities for Jacksonville at this spot — Miami's Calais Campbell and USC's Lawrence Jackson. Campbell's potential wins out over the steady Jackson.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

27

RB

Jonathan Stewart

Oregon

Jr.

5-10

235

The Chargers are in a situation to draft the best available player, and they can go in many directions. But the one direction they should go in is adding a running back. LaDainian Tomlinson is still the best in the business, but how many more years will he play at a top level? Michael Turner signed with Atlanta, and the Chargers can't rely on Darren Sproles to be their backup running back. Oregon's Jonathan Stewart falls to the Chargers due to his recent toe surgery.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Mike Jenkins

28

from Cowboys

QB

Brian Brohm

Louisville

Sr.

6-3

230

****PROJECTED TRADE WITH DALLAS****

The Falcons passed on Matt Ryan with their first pick and decided to take Jake Long to add stability on the O-Line. In my previous mock draft, I projected the Dolphins to trade up with the Cowboys at the 22nd overall selection, but now I foresee the Falcons trading up with the Cowboys at this pick to grab Brian Brohm. Atlanta gives up one of their second-round selections (48th overall) and third-round selection (68th overall) in the trade. The Falcons copy the Browns’ plan from last year and get a franchise OT and QB in the first round.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Jamaal Charles

29

from Colts

OT

Gosder Cherilus

Boston College

Sr.

6-7

314

The Niners have been one of the more active teams in free agency and added some nice veterans — RB DeShaun Foster, WRs Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson and DE Justin Smith. Adding another receiver isn't as much of a priority at this point, but protecting Alex Smith is a must. Selecting Joe Staley last year was huge, but adding Gosder Cherilus this season gives the Niners two young bookends to build around.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: James Hardy

30

CB

Antoine Cason

Arizona

Sr.

6-0

191

The Packers are another team that can draft the best player available. They have a solid nucleus all around, but adding help in the secondary makes sense. Charles Woodson and Al Harris are getting older, so drafting a young CB will be beneficial down the road. Arizona's Antoine Cason is a polished corner with excellent skills and will have the opportunity to learn from two of the best.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Same

PATRIOTS SELECTION FORFEITED - (16 - 0)

 

31

FS

Kenny Phillips

Miami

Jr.

6-2

212

The Giants desperately need to add depth at linebacker and in the secondary. Adding Penn State LB Dan Connor is a possibility as is Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, but with Miami's Kenny Phillips still available, he replaces the recently departed Gibril Wilson.

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Dan Connor



A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.


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