Scout.com's NFL insider Adam Caplan takes his annual look at the first round of the draft just hours…
NFL Draft Live Blog
Early Notes: We continue to hear the Green Bay Packers will be looking to select a quarterback in the first two rounds. We're told Green Bay spent a lot of time gathering more background information on Joe Flacco, Brian Brohm, and Chad Henne this week. It's also believed the team isn't going to sign QB Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension in the near future. It could be the team wants to see how he does in training camp and then early into the regular season before getting him signed long-term. A league source here at the draft said he expects Matt Ryan ultimately to go off the board at No. 3 to the Atlanta Falcons which comes to a small surprise as it was expected they would select Glenn Dorsey should he and Ryan be on the board. Owner Arthur Blank had been pushing for Ryan to new general manager Tom Dimitroff for several weeks as he saw Ryan as the new face of the franchise. First Round 1) Miami Dolphins: Jake Long/OT/Michigan Instant Analysis: The new front office wants to rebuild the offensive line as soon as they can and they're getting started immediately with Long. It will be interesting to see how he handles playing left tackle at the pro level. He'll face plenty of speed rushers. 2) St. Louis Rams: Chris Long/DE/St. Louis Rams Instant Analysis: The addition of Long adds an instant, young pass rusher to their front-four. He's the kind of edge rusher that the defense has lacked for many years. They'll be able to use veteran DE James Hall as a situational pass rusher which is probably the best role for him at this point in his career. And with Long in the fold, Adam Carriker will stay inside. 3) Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan/QB/Atlanta Falcons Instant Analysis: Not only will Ryan become the face of the franchise instantly, he could come in and compete for the starting job right away. Ryan has all the poise that signal caller must be able to handle at such a high pressure position and he'll make Falcon fans forget about Michael Vick. He also has the demeanor of a true leader. It will be up to him to get signed on time so he can start the maturation process right away. 4) Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden/RB/Arkansas Instant Analysis: Despite having depth at the position, the team lacks having an explosive back on their roster who is capable of taking any carry for long distance. Look for Michael Bush to handle the power running for the team with McFadden handling the speed role. Both backs could form a great combination. Where Justin Fargas fits in, who signed a new deal recently, remains to be seen. 5) Kansas City Chiefs: Glenn Dorsey/DT/LSU Instant Analysis: The Chiefs got a nice value here as it was expected that Dorsey wouldn't drop any further than Atlanta (No. 3). Dorsey will provide an immediate impact for a mediocre defensive line that lacks quality playmakers. He's terrific in a short area and can be very disruptive force against the run or pass. Look for the team to address their offensive line with their next selection in the first round. 6) New York Jets: Vernon Gholston/OLB/Ohio St. Instant Analysis: There's a saying in the NFL which is you can't ever have enough quality pass rushers. The Jet pass rush will be strengthened in a big way with the additions of Calvin Pace and Gholston to go along with Bryan Thomas. The trio of outside pass rushers could post 30-35 sacks as a group in 2008. New York may address cornerback or wide receiver with their next selection. 7) New Orleans Saints from New England Patriots (via San Francisco 49ers): Sedrick Ellis/DT/USC Instant Analysis: With both of their starting two defensive tackles into their 30's, the team had to get younger in the interior of their defense and they've done that with Ellis. He's got a faster first step than Glenn Dorsey and he can be just as disruptive--he's just not as wide. Ellis will provide an immediate impact for a defense that is in dire need of help for the interior of their front four. 8) Jacksonville Jaguars (from Baltimore Ravens): Derrick Harvey/DE/Florida Instant Analysis: Jacksonville was obviously desperate for pass rush help and they chose quite possibly the best pure edge rusher in the draft in Harvey. He'll come in and almost start right away or be no worse than their third end. While needs to refine some parts of his game and pass rush moves, he'll still be able to help Jacksonville's defense right away. 9) Cincinnati Bengals: Keith Rivers/LB/USC Instant Analysis: The multi-talented linebacker will likely line up at WLB replacing Landon Johnson who signed with the Carolina Panthers. Rivers not only is a good tackler but he can be moved around the defense to create havoc on opposing offenses. If Cincinnati can get MLB Ahmad Brooks back healthy, they could start to build a really nice group of young linebackers. 10) New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints): Jarrod Mayo/ILB/Tennessee Instant Analysis: As Scout.com noted in recent weeks, there were teams that had Mayo ahead of Keith Rivers as the top linebacker. Mayo plays with good intelligence which is why New England felt they could take him off the board here. Mayo is a good run defender who will improve in coverage the more he gets to be on the field. 11) Buffalo Bills: Leodis McKelvin/CB/Troy St. Instant Analysis: Buffalo seriously considered Devin Thomas with this pick but once McKelvin dropped down to them, the choice became rather easy. McKelvin was higher on their draft board and he could start as a rookie opposite veteran CB Terrence McGee. He'll also upgrade their special teams return game. 12) Denver Broncos: Ryan Clady/OT/Boise St. Instant Analysis: The long-armed offensive lineman will be expected to start as a rookie replacing veteran LT Matt Lepsis who has decided to retire. Clady has really good feet and is the kind of player that fits the profile a Denver lineman-long and athletic. 13) Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Stewart/RB/Oregon Instant Analysis: It wasn't a secret that Carolina was looking to draft a back early that would fit with their revamped power rushing game. Stewart should be recovered from his toe surgery well before training camp. Former first-round pick DeAngelo Williams and Stewart will form a solid combination of power and speed at the position. 14) Chicago Bears: Chris Williams/OT/Vanderbilt Instant Analysis: They went for the highest rated offensive tackle left on their board and selected the smart and athletic Williams. Because he's a little raw, it's not out of the question that he lines up at RT but he'll eventually be expected to start at LT down the road. That means John Tait could be moved to RT. 15) Kansas City Chiefs (from Detroit Lions): Branden Albert/OL/Virginia Instant Analysis: We actually thought they might have considered Albert at No. 5 had Dorsey not still be on the board. Albert is capable of lining up at a variety of offensive line positions but early on he projects to play either RT or RG. Eventually he could be the long-term answer at LT. 16) Arizona Cardinals: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/CB/Tennessee St. Instant Analysis: Arizona was going to select either a running back or cornerback with this selection. With the team moving Antrel Rolle to safety, cornerback became a major need for the defense. Rodgers-Cromartie has a ton of upside but is also a bit raw while still being very athletic. 17) Detroit Lions (from Kansas City Chiefs via Minnesota Vikings): Gosder Cherilus/OL/Boston College Instant Analysis: Detroit had a big need for a young offensive lineman that is capable of playing different positions. Cherilus could start out at right tackle but he's more than capable of moving to any guard spot if needed. 18) Baltimore Ravens (Houston Texans): Joe Flacco/QB/Delaware Instant Analysis: We've said for months that Flacco was easily the second best signal caller in the draft based on film study and watching him play in person and now it's been proven by Baltimore's trade up for him. Make no question about it, Flacco has the strongest arm in the draft and probably has the most upside. But it can be argued that he has the biggest learning curve of the top-five quarterbacks since he only started two years and played mostly out of shotgun formation. As first reported by Scout.com, Flacco was put through a private workout by Baltimore last month. It that workout it's believed he was so impressive with the variety of throws he was asked to make, that the coaches and scouts were validated in what they saw on film from him. 19) Carolina Panthers (from Philadelphia Eagles): Jeff Otah/OT/Pittsburgh Instant Analysis: We've said for some time that Carolina wanted to go back to their power running game and they'll get help doing that with the selection of Otah. The tough-minded offensive lineman was projected by many to play on the right side but he could be moved to the left side. If Otah plays on the left side, Jordan Gross would move over to the right side where he might be better off playing. 20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aqib Talib/CB/Kansas Instant Analysis: The team apparently decided against trading for veteran CB Lito Sheppard and went with the younger and perhaps even more talented Talib. While Talib had been red flagged by some teams, Tampa Bay was comfortable enough with the information they received in order to select him. While Talib doesn't run as well as the cornerbacks selected ahead of him, he's a bit more physical. He'll likely compete right away against veteran CB Philip Buchanon. 21) Atlanta Falcons (from Washington Redskins): Sam Baker/OT/USC Instant Analysis: The AFL commissioner's son will get a chance to play right away with Atlanta. Their goal was to start rebuilding their shaky offensive line with a young tackle. While Baker doesn't have the athleticism of the other tackles selected ahead of him, he's a power blocker who is good fit for the power rushing scheme that offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will be installing. 22) Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland Browns): Felix Jones/RB/Arkansas Instant Analysis: This pick wasn't a surprise as the coaches were looking for a back with better speed than Marion Barber. Jones could start right away with Barber handling the short-yardage and third down roles. Both backs together should form a really solid combination or power and speed. 23) Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashard Mendendall/RB/Illinois Instant Analysis: Pittsburgh was looking for a power back who could handle a lot of work in their power rushing attach. The combination of Mendenhall's power and Willie Parker's speed will be hard to stop and they could instantly become one of the best one-two running back duos in the league. 24) Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson/RB/East Carolina Instant Analysis: This isn't a surprise as we predicted they would look to select him--but probably in the second round. We've chronicled for some time that the team wasn't happy with RB Chris Henry and that they were going to select a speedy back likely in the first two rounds. Johnson not only is looked at as the fastest back in the draft, he's about as close to Brian Westbrook as there is in this draft. 25) Dallas Cowboys (from Seattle Seahawks): Mike Jenkins/CB/South Florida Instant Analysis: Dallas might have selected Antoine Cason or Brandon Flowers here had Jenkins not slipped this far. Dallas gets one of the better values of the first round. The feeling is veteran CB Anthony Henry could be moved to safety down the line and Jenkins could at least compete for the nickel job this season. 26) Houston Texans (from Baltimore Ravens via Jacksonville Jaguars): Duane Brown/OL/Virginia Tech Instant Analysis: Houston has been looking for a left tackle for some time and Brown will likely compete against veteran OT Ephraim Salaam right away for that job. Brown is also capable of moving inside to guard if needed. 27) San Diego Chargers: Antoine Cason/CB/Arizona Instant Analysis: San Diego was looking for depth at cornerback and the intelligent Cason will compete against Paul Oliver for the nickel job right away. San Diego will look for backup help at running back as early as round two. 28) Seattle Seahawks (from Dallas Cowboys): Lawrence Jackson/DE/USC Instant Analysis: Seattle was likely either going to select a defensive tackle or end here for depth purposes. The hope here is that Jackson can develop into a role as their third end rather quickly. 29) San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis Colts): Kentwan Balmer/DT/North Carolina Instant Analysis: Balmer is a decent value here and he'll likely line up at end in their 3-4 defensive scheme. He may be a little too small to play NT. He'll also give them some pass rushing help from their front three. 30) New York Jets (from Green Bay Packers): Dustin Keller/TE/Purdue Instant Analysis: The Jets have been looking for a pass catching tight end for a while and they've found one with Keller who could push veteran TE Chris Baker for playing time right away. 31) New England Patriots (selection forfeited) 32) New York Giants: Kenny Phillips/S/New York Giants Instant Analysis: No surprise here as the Giants have had issues at safety for a while. Phillips is smart player who can push for playing time right away.
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