With the first overall pick in this year's NFL draft...

. Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Here are picks 1-31 of the Between the Lines mock draft. All picks were made under the premise that no trades had taken place, though some undoubtedly will.

Editor's note: The New England had to forfeit its pick as punishment for video taping the New York Jets coaching staff during a game.

#1/Miami takes Chris Long, DE-Virginia (6-4, 280) - While it's premature to say that he's going to be as good as his former Raider father, Long's speed and ability to stop the run makes him a perfect fit for the Dolphins' 3-4 defense. Bill Parcells thinks he's good enough to replace Jason Taylor.

#2/St. Louis takes Jake Long, OT-Michigan (6-7, 315) - Losing Orlando Pace last season made the Rams realize how valuable a strong and agile offensive lineman can be. It won't be long before Long starts regularly freeing Steven Jackson for runs up the middle or catches in the flat.

#3/Atlanta takes Matt Ryan, QB-Boston College (6-5, 220) - Rebuilding projects that figure to take as long as the Falcons' will typically start with quarterback and Ryan is head and shoulders above his draft-eligible peers. His nonexistent rapsheet also helps. The only way he'd be a better fit is if he became a card-carrying member of the ASPCA.

#4/Oakland takes Darren McFadden, RB-Arkansas (6-2, 205) - While the Raiders have a ton of needs with running back being fourth or fifth on the list, Al Davis won't be able to resist the allure of drafting the man who could be the next great running back.

#5/Kansas City takes Ryan Clady, OT-Boise State (6-6, 317) - The Chiefs desperately need someone to open up lanes for Larry Johnson and with Jake Long off the board, Clady is their best bet. He'll start right away and should keep his job for years to come.

#6/New York Jets take Vernon Gholston, DE-Ohio State (6-4, 264) - If Chris Long is the top defensive end in this year's draft, Gholston is one heck of a consolation prize. He'll waste little time improving a Jets pass-rush that was 25th in sacks last season.

#7/New England (from San Francisco) takes Aquib Talib, CB-Kansas (6-2, 205) - Why would the Patriots scour free agency and the trading block for a corner to replace Asante Samuel when they can get Talib on the cheap? His size and athleticism give him versatility, something Bill Belichick highly values.

#8/Baltimore takes Leodis McKelvin, CB-Troy (6-3, 233) - If the Ravens want to get their defense closer to what it once was, they need to add a talented young corner to the rotation. McKelvin gives them that and makes Samari Rolle, 31, and Chris McAllister, 30, expendable.

#9/ Cincinnati takes Glenn Dorsey, DT-LSU (6-2, 303) - An unhealthy history is to blame for him dropping this far, but he'll fall no further. The Bengals have holes all over their defense so why not start by filling the one front and center. Cinci would be ecstatic if Dorsey lands in its lap.

#10/ New Orleans takes Sedrick Ellis, DT-Southern Cal (6-2, 305) - The Saints can have all the offensive firepower in the world, but they won't get anywhere if they again finish 30th pass defense and 25th in total yards allowed. Ellis isn't the ultimate solution, but he'll go a long way to helping improve those rankings.

#11/ Buffalo takes Phillip Merling, DE-Clemson (6-5, 280) - Though he provides more strength than speed, lining up next to newly-acquired Pro Bowl tackle Marcus Stroud will ensure that he gets a lot of one-on-ones. What he does with them remains to be seen.

#12/ Denver takes Keith Rivers, OLB-Southern Cal (6-3, 235) - The Broncos might be reaching here, but they are in desperate need to add some youth to its aged linebacking corps. Not only is Rivers quick in pursuit of the ball, he's effective blitzing off the edge.

#13/ Carolina takes Jonathan Stewart, RB-Oregon (5-11, 230) - Don't mistake Deshaun Foster's dismissal as a vote of confidence for D'Angelo Williams. Unlike Williams, Stewart is as big of a receiving threat as he is a rushing one. His route running underneath will give Steve Smith more space over the top.

#14/ Chicago takes Rashard Mendenhall, RB-Illinois (5-11, 224) - The Bears are really wishing they had kept Thomas Jones. Cedric Benson will be given a chance to redeem himself, but if he fails again, Chicago will at least have the home-town kid waiting in the wings.

#15/ Detroit takes Chris Williams, OT-Vanderbuilt (6-6, 320) - After taking flashy wideouts in Round 1 each of the last four years, it's time the Lions take a player at the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Jon Kitna needs time to get those receivers the ball and Williams will give him that. It won't be long before he works his way out of the rotation an in to regular playing time.

#16/ Arizona takes Mike Jenkins, CB-Southern Florida (5-10, 197) - Though he's smaller than Talib and McKelvin, Jenkins is considered by many to be the most athletic and complete cover corner in this year's draft. He's exact what the Cardinals need after finishing 28th in pass defense in 2007.

#17/ Minnesota takes Malcolm Kelly, WR-Oklahoma (6-4, 217) - After watching Baltimore, Carolina and Chicago all pass on him, Kelly finally finds a home with the Vikings. He's physical, quick, has good hands and will be the first player chosen from a deep receiver class. Don't be surprised to see him starting in the slot on opening day.

#18/ Houston takes Dan Connor, ILB-Penn State (6-3, 233) - Yes, DeMeco Ryans has perennial Pro Bowler written all over him, but Connor would be a good complimentary player when the Texans use the 3-4. His work ethic should be enough to make him a mainstay on the team.

#19/ Philadelphia takes Calais Campbell, DE-Miami (6-8, 280) - With Jevon Kearse no longer in the mix, the Eagles will want to get a freak and Campbell fits the bill. He has all the necessary attributes of a good defensive lineman in the body of offensive guard. His one-and-done at the combine is the biggest reason why he's still available this late.

#20/ Tampa Bay takes Devin Thomas, WR-Michigan State (6-2, 215) - Joey Galloway isn't going to be around forever and Michael Clayton hasn't established himself as any kind of a predecessor. Thomas had an outstanding junior year and had arguably the best showing at the combine.

#21/ Washington takes Derrick Harvey, DE-Florida (6-2, 262) - The Redskins are still satisfied playing the waiting game with Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis and an offensive lineman might be a bit of a reach here. Harvey will help them bolster their pass rush, making an already strong defense even better.

#22/ Dallas (from Cleveland) takes Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB-Tennessee State (6-1, 181) - While the Cowboys tied for sixth in the league with 20 interceptions, only 11 of those came from their cornerbacks. Starters Anthony Henry and Terence Newman have average speed, something that Rodgers-Cromartie has plenty of.

#23/ Pittsburgh takes Limas Sweed, WR-Texas (6-5, 219) - Ben Rothlisberger had a great season last year, but he misses having a big body to throw the ball to. Sweed can out-jump most DBs in the league and also has the ability to stretch the field with his speed.

#24/ Tennessee takes DeSean Jackson, WR-California (6-0, 166) - Vince Young likes throwing bombs deep and Jackson likes out-running everyone to catch them. He is the fastest of the top-flight wideouts in this years class and has a good first step. He has the potential to be a very disruptive slot receiver early.

#25/ Seattle takes Kentwan Balmer, DT-North Carolina (6-5, 295) - Seattle has a good line, but could use some help in the middle. Balmer might not start right away, but he'll be heavily involved in the rotation. His height in the middle is something not many tackles possess.

#26/ Jacksonville takes Lawrence Jackson, DE-Southern Cal (6-5, 265) - The Jaguars don't have a lot of needs so they can afford to draft based on potential and Jackson fits the bill. He was a consensus top-10 pick heading into the 2007 season, but a slow start and the emergence of line-mate Sedrick Ellis dropped his stock a bit. He could be a steal at 26.

#27/ San Diego takes Kenny Phillips, FS-Miami (6-2, 210) - In every draft, there are steals and then there are highway robberies. No one is questioning the Chargers talented trio of cornerbacks that led the league in interceptions last season, but how nice would it be to have a corps. of safeties to match it?

#28/ Dallas takes Felix Jones, RB-Arkansas (6-0, 207) - This pick is by no means a knock on the Cowboys current back, Marion Barber, but with Julius Jones leaving town, the Cowboys need a dependable second back. Felix isn't going to get many carries, but he will return kicks, something he did well last year, averaging 29.6 yards.

#29/ San Francisco (from Indianapolis) takes Jeff Otah, OT-Pittsburg (6-6, 332) - No goal should be more paramount for the Niners than keeping franchise quarterback Alex Smith on the field. While Otah didn't play organized football until his senior year of high school, many think that he has more upside most of his first-round contemporaries.

#30/ Green Bay takes Reggie Smith, CB-Oklahoma (6-0, 196) - Smith can play both the safety and cornerback positions with above-average results making him the most versatile defensive back in this year's draft class. The Packers could definitely use him to spell aging corners Charles Woodson and Al Harris.

#31/ The New York Giants take Chilo Rachal, OG-Southern Cal (6-5, 315) - The Giants really don't have a whole lot of needs. Some think Rachal didn't show enough individual ability over a long enough period of time, but the Giants can afford to gamble on a guy others project to develop into a Pro Bowler.