Hello, NFL fans and Sandlot readers. I had promised a live draft diary of this year's first round draft, but it looks like I'm only going to have 60-90 minutes of live blogging. Family obligations require me to leave the house later this afternoon. But at least I'll get the Rams at #2 and hopefully most of the first ten picks. Here we go...
Jake Long, OT, Michigan—The least suspenseful number one in history. At least Bill Parcells knows that a winning team must begin with a dominating left tackle. I've heard concerns about Long's pass-blocking skills, but as a run blocker, he's like a bulldozer, and since Parcells prefers a run-oriented balanced offense, and because Miami doesn't have an established, quality QB yet, there was really no other choice at the top.
#2—St. Louis Rams
Chris Long, DE, Virginia—I'm just thrilled about this pick. Chris is just freaking HUGE, and his family pedigree is impeccable. Howie Long is an NFL hall-of-famer, and Chris should bring the same intensity to the Rams defense. The defensive line in St. Louis just got faster, stronger and more intimidating. Chris is wearing his Rams cap on ESPN right now. Looks great. Outstanding pick! As a Rams fan, I'm very excited.
Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College—Another total no-brainer. Atlanta has to have a new franchise QB to replace the face of the franchise from Michael Vick to Ryan, who just looks like the young Dennis Quaid character in the movie "Everybody's All American." I bet the pre-draft interview went something like this: "Do you like animals? What about dogs? Do you own a dog? How big is your dog? Is your dog...aggressive?" Atlanta fans (cough, cough) need to be patient. Ryan will stink for two years, just like every other rookie starter (including future HOF Peyton Manning), and there are many other holes to fill in the wake of the Vick catastrophe.
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas—This is a stupid pick, in my opinion, with Glenn Dorsey still available. Did anyone watch Missouri's defense shut down McFadden in the Cotton Bowl back in January? They totally overpaid for someone who's not going to make nearly the impact that Dorsey would have playing in the middle of the Oakland defensive line. Typical Al Davis—going for style over substance. Quote me on this: McFadden will not have the same kind of rookie season as Adrian Peterson had in Minnesota. Why not? Offensive line, of course.
#5—Kansas City Chiefs
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU—Great pick for the Chiefs, the cornerstone of a rebuilding defense. He'll love playing for Herm Edwards, and Edwards will build his team around Dorsey. If he stays healthy, he'll be a perennial pro bowler on the defensive line. He would have been a good fit for any of the first four teams as well, but sometimes need trumps talent. The folks in KC should be celebrating right now.
#6—New York Jets
Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State—A monster pass rusher, the only question is whether he can play with consistent intensity throughout an entire pro game. In the Jets 3-4 defense, he'll play outside linebacker but also be heavily involved in rushing the QB. Jets head coach Eric Mangini is a defensive guy, and he knows that in order to beat the Patriots in the AFC East, you have to start with the defense. Solid pick for the J-E-T-S.
#7—New England Patriots
traded pick to New Orleans Saints...
#7—New Orleans Saints (traded from New England)
Sedric Ellis, DT, USC—Simple matter of need once again. The Saints stunk on defense last year, and just like Dorsey for KC, Ellis should be a cornerstone in the center of the Saints defense from this point on. Obviously there is a lot of quality in the top half of this year's draft. No team has done anything really stupid so far.
traded pick to Jacksonville Jaguars...
#8—Jacksonville Jaguars (traded from Baltimore)
Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida—I'm not sure why Jacksonville traded all the way up from 23 to 8 to get this pick. His draft stock had risen this week; he's tall and fast, but seems a bit undersized for a pro DE. Jacksonville took this guy for one reason, I think: to beef up their pass rush in the AFC South against Peyton Manning and Vince Young. Time will tell if this turns out to be a good pick for the Jags.
Keith Rivers, LB, USC—Cincinnati is a mess; the only real consideration here is whether this is a high-character individual. The Bengals need to winnow out the thugs and replace them with honor students, and reports indicate that this is what they're getting in Rivers.
#10—New England Patriots (traded from New Orleans)
Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee—This sends a clear signal about next year's Patriots: the key to their defense is their linebackers, and Bruschi, Vrabel and Seau are all too old to get the job done. Belicheck's going younger, and based on past success in the draft, I'm certainly not going to argue with this pick.
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy—Because someone in the AFC East has to be able to cover Randy Moss and Wes Welker. McKelvin also has the ability to return kicks, though he's also been prone to fumble.
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State—Denver needs two things on offense: pass protection for Jay Cutler and run blocking for the usually effective Denver running game. Clady is an impressive physical specimen at 6-6, 309 lbs., and he should be a good fit for a young Denver offense. As I've said before, winning is predicated by the offensive line, and the O-line starts with the left tackle, and Clady was the best one on the board.
That's it for me for live blogging...I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with the rest of the first round picks and my commentary. Thanks for joining me for an exciting NFL Draft first round!