NFL Draft 2008 - nfl.com, nfl mock draft, nfl draft

NFL Draft

In one of the greatest runs on trench players in the history of the NFL draft, eight offensive and seven defensive linemen were taken in the first round yesterday, nearly half of the 31 players selected.

The demand for big-bodied players, who face each other across the line of scrimmage, began with the signing of tackle Jake Long of Michigan by the No. 1-picking Dolphins last week and continued with five more taken among the next seven selections.

It was a swift-moving draft that came off without a hitch as teams, now limited to just 10 minutes between picks in the opening round, finished in just more than 3 hours and 30 minutes -- an average of about seven minutes per pick.

There were a lot more trades (eight in the first round) than surprises as none of the most highly rated players slipped out of the top 10. In fact, all six players invited by the NFL to be present in New York, where the draft was conducted, were chosen with the first six picks.

Defensive end Chris Long of Virginia was taken No. 2 by St. Louis, quarterback Matt Ryan of Boston College at No. 3 by Atlanta, running back Darren McFadden of Arkansas at No. 4 by Oakland, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey of Louisiana State at No. 5 by Kansas City and defensive end Vernon Gholston of Ohio State at No. 6 by the New York Jets.

For the first time since 1990, no wide receiver was taken in the first round. No inside linebackers, centers, punters or kickers were taken in the opening round, either.

It appeared to be a particularly distinctive draft for Kansas City and New Orleans, two teams that had poor seasons in 2007, as they used trades to score coveted college talent and additional draft picks.

The Chiefs were fortunate to have Dorsey fall to them. Many had him claimed by the third pick to Atlanta, which decided instead to anoint Ryan as the successor to the failed Michael Vick, who is in prison.

Kansas City, which had also acquired the No. 17 pick in a trade last week with Minnesota for defensive end Jared Allen, used that pick and others to move up two spots in the first round and grab guard Branden Albert of Virginia, who is badly needed on a decimated offensive line.

The Saints were desperate to draft defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis of Southern California and swapped their No. 10 spot plus a third-round pick to New England to sweep ahead of No. 9 Cincinnati and get their man.

But it may not turn out to be a great draft, overall, for Jacksonville, which gave up a great deal to move from No. 26 to No. 8 and pick Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey. The Jaguars exchanged first-round picks with Baltimore and tossed in two thirds and a fourth.

Super Bowl runner-up New England strengthened its linebacker unit by drafting Jerod Mayo of Tennessee. The Patriots have linebacker starters returning, but most are over 30.

Several years will pass before we really know the winners and losers of the 2008 NFL draft's first two rounds. Does that make us hesitate from offering snap judgments just hours after the picks, trades and more picks?

Heck no!

At No. 2, the Rams landed the "best player in the draft" in defensive end Chris Long, says SN's Vinnie Iyer. But SN's Clifton Brown wonders why the Falcons gambled with quarterback Matt Ryan with the No. 3 pick: "If Ryan does not become a Pro Bowl quarterback, the Falcons goofed. They have just made a huge investment in a young quarterback, and they have put Ryan in a difficult situation."

SN's Dennis Dillon says the Cowboys sought instant impact with their pair of first-rounders: running back Felix Jones and cornerback Mike Jenkins.

The biggest winner? Clifton Brown hails the Chiefs, who landed stud defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey at No. 5 and the "top guard in the draft, Branden Albert" at No. 15.

SN member Xcheck echoes Brown's opinion: "There shouldn't be any messes in Radio City Music Hall, because the Kansas City Chiefs cleaned up today!"

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