Thursday, April 24, 2008

The FTC 2008 First-Round Mock Draft

We here at FTC love the NFL Draft. We have ever since we were but young, eager, ambitious student journalists. But this year, we've spent so much time planning the menu of beers, scotches and fine, grilled meats that will take our draft party to new heights of gluttonous excess, we totally forgot to put together a first-round mock. Well, here's our attempt at rectifying that as hastily as humanly possible. Lights please, Amerigo.

Thank you.

1. Miami Dolphins -- Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Our one guaranteed direct hit.

2. St. Louis Rams -- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Either the Rams will take Dorsey because Scott Linehan is crazy and doesn't realize they need a defensive end much more, or they'll trade this pick to a team that will use it to take Dorsey.

3. Atlanta Falcons -- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Dorsey is widely considered to be one of the best defensive prospects to come into the league this decade, and the Falcons need help on the line, as well as everywhere else. If the Rams take Dorsey, Atlanta is going to scramble to trade out of this slot, and if they can't, they'll probably just swallow it and take Matt Ryan. But drafting a quarterback in the first round -- especially in the top ten or fifteen -- requires committing to him for a great deal of money over a period of years like you don't have to commit to any other player at any other position. If he stinks up the joint, it can set your franchise back years, as opposed to virtually any other position, where a savvy late-round pick or free agent pickup can wind up saving your ass from mistakes like Jamain Stephens. Not that Matt Ryan necessarily sucks or anything, but if you're the Falcons, do you really want the next four or five years of your already disastrous team so heavily staked on an ACC quarterback panning out? Regardless, Dorsey is the pick here if the Rams can lay off him.

4. Oakland Raiders -- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Running back doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the Raiders, but what about the Raiders' draft strategies has ever made a whole lot of sense? Do we even know who is in charge of making this pick? McFadden is unquestionably the highest-regarded talent in the draft, which will make his gradual and certain decline in black and silver side of the Bay Area that much more interesting to watch. In a related story, this guy is one post-draft party and nine months away from shattering Travis Henry's record for fathering children -- regardless of how his career pans out, he's a mortal lock to one day appear in a terrible Bill Simmons column as part of the inaugural class of inductees to the Shawn Kemp Hall of Fame. Chris Long is also an option here.

5. Kansas City Chiefs -- Chris Long, DE, Virginia
The Jared Allen trade would make a lot more sense if the Chiefs see themselves getting Long or Gholston here. Branden Albert is another possibility, as is a trade down.

6. New York Jets -- Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Gholston has "last-minute free-fall" written all over him. With several teams involved in last-minute scrambling in attempts to land certain players -- like Dorsey, Long or McFadden -- Gholston might get lost in the shuffle. If the Raiders pass on McFadden, he'll likely fall to the Jets, who will definitely take him. If Long falls to this spot and McFadden's gone, he becomes the likely pick. But with the order as-is, Vernon should go off the board about here.

7. New England Patroits -- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis is likely to go here whether the Pats decide to keep this pick or not, and there's even a good chance

8. Baltimore Ravens -- Branden Albert, OG, Virginia
Not sure Albert's numbers really qualify him as a workout warrior, but for some reason, this guy went from totally off the first-round radar six week ago to the consensus Steelers pick at No. 23 a month ago, and there's no way he's falling out of the top ten. If the Falcons wind up not selecting Matt Ryan -- which happens if they're able to land Glenn Dorsey -- Ryan will fall to the Ravens here, who would like to take him because they love drafting overrated quarterbacks.

9. Cincinnati Bengals -- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
The Bengals need all kinds of defensive help, and there's no way in hell Sedrick Ellis falls this far. Odell Thurman was recently re-instated to active duty, lessening the need for a linebacker and making LB Keith Rivers a less-likely selection here. Rivers would be a better pick if the Bengals were actively trying to rehabilitate their image, but they don't really seem so concerned with that. Whatever.

10. New Orleans Saints -- Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
The Saints are a good bet to trade up from here, aiming at landing either Glenn Dorsey or Chris Long, which would require them to move up into No. 5 or No. 2. If they don't, McKelvin is a great option here, mainly because Jason David is so bad at football.

11. Buffalo Bills -- Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan St.
A reach, but when was the last time the Bills made a sound personnel decision

12. Denver Broncos -- Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
The Broncos thrive off a steady diet of o-linemen and running backs, and right now, they've got a glaring hole at left tackle with the retirement of Matt Lepsis. Ryan Clady is a possibility, but Williams is a much smarter player and figures to fit much better into Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme.

13. Carolina Panthers -- Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
Carolina needs a lot of help. Everywhere. Mike Rucker's retirement leaves a hole on the defensive line, and Dan Morgan, who's been concussed so many times he can no longer spell his own name, was released in February, leaving a fairly big hole in the linebacking corps. But the offensive line has several players slotted out of position, and can be rectified with the addition of a solid left tackle. Clady is a project, but a great value at this slot.

14. Chicago Bears -- Jeff Otah, OT, Pitt
Otah has all the makings of a dominant right tackle, and the Bears are going to need that if the two-headed monster of Cedric Benson and Adrian "The Other Adrian Peterson" Peterson are going to combine for 100 rushing yards a game. Otah should fill out their line nicely, but they're going to want to give some thought to drafting a quarterback soon, because Rex Grossman sucks at football.

15. Detroit Lions -- Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
With the end of the Kevin Jones Era, the Mendenhall Epoch begins. Jon Kitna has been praying for this no fewer than seven hours a day this offseason.

16. Arizona Cardinals -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee St.
With Mendenhall off the board, the Cards are likely to look for a corner here, then go after a running back in the second round, rather than reach. But Jonathan Stewart is also a possibility.

17. Kansas City Chiefs -- Jeff Otah, OT, Pitt
The Chiefs will want to go o-line here after drafting defense at the front of the round.

18. Houston Texans -- Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Jenkins is probably the most polished of the first-round corners, and Houston badly needs a d-back who is ready to contribute right away.

19. Philadelphia Eagles -- Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Like everyone else, they probably just want an offensive lineman. And because the worthy first-round offensive linemen will all be gone by 17, and nobody really wants to draft Gosder Cherilus higher than 44th overall, the Eagles will take a corner so they can trade Lito Sheppard.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
Possibly a bit of a reach, but a stellar fit for Gruden's offense. Tampa Bay really can't lose, regardless of what they do here. Unless they decide to burn a pick on someone who would normally go undrafted. That'd be a bad move.

21. Washington Redskins -- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
This guy is a perfect example of either a) what is wrong with this year's draft, or b) why doing your research well in advance is very important. Harvey is a talented athlete and very good at playing football, we're told. But he could be drafted anywhere from the seventh pick, right down to the bottom of the first round. Who the hell knows anymore? This doesn't seem any less plausible than anything Mel Kiper wrote this year -- in fact, it's more realistic. Mel's got Chris Long going No. 2, even though everyone and their mother knows that Glenn Dorsey is going at two, regardless of who ends up making the pick.

22. Dallas Cowboys -- Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
They're not fooling anybody here.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
The one team whose off-season I've followed with a great deal of interest, and I still don't know what the hell they're looking to do, besides trade down. They'd love to get an offensive lineman, but you can't really be sold on Gosder Cherilus this early in the round. They need a defensive end, and Phillip Merling might be available, but there are no guarantees. The Steelers haven't selected a running back in the first round in 19 years, and the last time they did, it was a disaster. That said, taking Jonathan Stewart here wouldn't be a typical Steeler move, but it's ballsier than sitting back and drafting Cherilus in this spot. Stewart is the best option. Or Merling. Or a receiver. Or a trade down. Really, anything or anyone but Gosder Cherilus. But this is why we watch the draft with scotch on hand.

24. Tennessee Titans -- Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Roydell Williams is not a viable fantasy option.

25. Seattle Seahawks -- Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Shaun Alexander sucks real bad. Because of this, he is out of a job. Seattle will draft a running back at some point, just not here.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
In the interest of actually finishing this mock before the actual draft starts, I'm not even going to justify these last few. Just accept them as the unquestionable word of law that they are.

27. San Diego Chargers -- Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
28. Dallas Cowboys -- James Hardy, WR, Indiana
29. San Francisco 49ers -- Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
30. Green Bay Packers -- Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware - Aaron Rogers sucks. Or, if someone wants to trade up to take Flacco, this would be a great place to do it.
31. New England Patroits -- Forfeited. Okay, two direct hits.
32. New York Giants -- Kenny Phillips, S, The U - The only player the Steelers should want less than Gosder Cherilus.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Pretension Unlike Any Other

I love the Masters. It's a great event of American semi-sports. Lots of great stories, terrific competition, and beautiful Georgia scenery. Seriously, I watch it every year, and I'm not overly wild about golf.

That said, it far surpasses any other televised event in the category of most times I yell "Oh shut up" at the soft-talking announcers (side note to Mike Tirico et al.: No one can hear you. You don't need to whisper; you're like a. There is nothing that glorifies rich (mostly white) men as much as the ceremony and self-importance of this tournament.

Some amateur just called a penalty stroke on himself. By "just" I mean about an hour ago, but no one has shut up about it since. "How wonderful, how noble, what a tremendous statement on the game of golf, and you have to understand that it's just so wonderful because every golfer out there would have done the same thing, and that's really why everyone who has anything to do with golf is just wonderful."

I got it. He follows rules. What a guy. I bet it was really hard growing up in country clubs, deciding which Mercedes to drive to his prep school, and then deciding which college to attend where he can major in golf. It's a good thing he persevered through all that adversity, so now he can call penalties on himself in the Masters. I'm inspired. Seriously, Mike Tirico, shut the fuck up.