Here is my take on what players teams will take in the 2008 NFL draft. I’m basing this on team needs and selecting the best player available. Look for an updated list after the combines.
Jacob provides the fantasy impact on each of these picks (in italics) after each choice.
1. Miami Dolphins — Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Let’s face it, the Dolphins are bad. They could use pretty much a guy at any position. They do have a young quarterback in John Beck who I think will be pretty good, and of course, they have Ronnie Brown. QB and RB aren’t high priorities.
Dorsey is a beast and can disrupt an entire offensive line. I think it is a crapshoot between him and DE Chris Long as the most talented players in the draft. Miami could trade out of this pick because of their many needs, but if they stay, look for Dorsey’s name to be called.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Miami tries to get rid of this pick on the market, we all know they still want Dorsey first. His defensive presence will make it hard for RBs to make their line look like Swiss cheese like they did in 2007. Miami allowed 150+ yards to opposing RBs in 2007–worst in the NFL in case you didn’t know. With this pick and a few other defensive improvements, look for Miami’s defense to start a progression towards being good again but still not be worth taking a chance on in the 2008 fantasy draft.
2. St. Louis Rams — Chris Long, DE, Virginia
I’m a little biased on Chris Long as he was a member of my college fantasy team and was the main reason I didn’t lose every game. This guy is just an athletic freak. He will find a way to get by the linemen and to the ball.
The Rams had a crazy season last year in which their best players didn’t play so hot. I think with some changes and a kick in the butt, they could look to contend next year. They could go O-line with this pick, but I look for them to take Long. Orlando Pace will be back, so they could do without a first-round lineman. I fully expect Long to start next year and have a better career than his dad Howie.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Rams defense caused many fantasy owners to jump up and down with glee during their horrible stretch of the season. They finished 2007 allowing 115+ yards per game–not horrible but below average–and also let teams pass all over them.
Long will add a star athletic presence on defense that will take away opposing QBs time to throw and force RBs to run the other way. If St. Louis can get their star players back to their original form, Long could help make more opposing teams go 3-and-out and give the ball back to The Greatest Show on Turf. Don’t expect to draft the Rams defense next year, but they might be a good bye week filler later in the season when Long adjusts to the NFL speed.
NOTE: The next 3 teams will have their order determined by coin flip, so this will probably be changed.
3. Atlanta Falcons — Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
The Falcons need a quarterback in the worst kind of way. Joey Harrington has been given at least 17 chances in this league to play QB and has sucked in 18 of them. He is just bad.
Enter Matt Ryan. I believe this guy is the most NFL-ready QB out of this class. Watching him this season, he showed great poise and rarely helped his team lose. I believe he is worthy of building a franchise around, which is what the Falcons will be doing. They need a new image, and Matt Ryan could help immensely.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Poor Harrington and poor Leftwich. Harrington never had a chance, and Leftwich seemed slower than he did at Jacksonville.
I am not sure that the Falcons take a QB here. Chris Redman, showed some poise and a nice arm. He might have argued his way into a nice backup role somewhere if not Atlanta and possibly a starting gig if Atlanta was daring enough to put off a QB in this draft and take a top WR to compliment Roddy White or a top RB like McFadden. McFadden might fit well in a committee with Jerious Norwood, and Atlanta could finally put Warrick Dunn out to pasture. Matt Ryan is not playing in the Senior Bowl under the advice of his agent who gave the same advice to Brady Quinn, so there is potential that he could fall in the draft.
If they do take Matt Ryan, he will definitely bring some stability to the offense. I see him starting right away and having a shaky but good rookie year. Look for Roddy White’s numbers to improve and possibly some better RB numbers from Atlanta if they finally had a decent, consistent arm under center. Ryan might be worth a look as a second QB for your fantasy team.
4. Oakland Raiders — Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
This could be an interesting pick. The Raiders could really, really use someone like OT Jake Long, and that would be a great pick right here. This pick would be the classic “take the best player available” pick.
Everyone knows McFadden, but here is the real question: Who are the running backs for the Raiders? Answer: LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. Doesn’t exactly strike fear into hearts like the dreaded Tecmo Bowl pair of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen. Jordan and Fargas combined for 7 rushing touchdowns last year. I believe McFadden could come in and score more than that in his rookie year. The Raiders will select him if he is here at this point, and they couldn’t be happier.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seriously, how many RBs does Oakland like to sit on? This year, they took Dominic Rhodes just to sit him on the bench until both Fargas and Jordan were injured or completely ineffective, but don’t forget that they also have star prospect Michael Bush who broke his leg early in 2007. The sad fact is that they will probably take McFadden, let Fargas go in free agency and address what to do with McFadden/Bush/Jordan/Rhodes after the fact.
If Jordan, Rhodes or Fargas stay, they will probably just be benched reserves. There is potential for a Bush/McFadden tandem that could kill opposing defenses, especially once McFadden gets his legs under him the NFL.
Oakland isn’t really improving it’s greatest weakness with this pick–improving the defense or snatching an additional deep threat for Russell wouldn’t be a bad call–but look for McFadden to make a huge rookie impact on whatever team takes him. He could definitely take the strain off Jamarcus Russell in his first year under center and give Oakland a very explosive offense next season in the run department. Someone in every fantasy league will take McFadden expecting him to be huge in 2008, and I wouldn’t call that a bad decision unless a committee forms around him. He is very likely to be the Adrian Peterson (MIN) of 2008 especially with the strong running offensive line of Oakland.
Just fair warning: If McFadden DOESN’T go to Oakland, don’t forget about the potential of Michael Bush in 2008!
5. Kansas City Chiefs — Jake Long, OL, Michigan
Kansas City needs linemen. Well, almost every team needs linemen, but Kansas City needs linemen. Jake Long is going to be the prototypical great NFL linemen. With the young quarterback situation in KC, Long will give Croyle the extra time he needs to read the D and find the WR. This is a no brainer pick.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Brodie Croyle loves this pick. He wants to be able to throw the ball, and Long will make that possible. Larry Johnson would appreciate some open running room as well. Look for both Croyle and Johnson to have better seasons next year if Long comes to KC.
6. New York Jets — Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
The Jets could go after a DE such as Vernon Gholston, but Sedrick Ellis is a more consistent player than Gholston. He is a big body up front and is very disruptive. He is a poor mans Dorsey, and he will get the job done for the Jets.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Jets need a better defense than they had this year. With a rookie QB and Thomas Jones at RB, they don’t put a lot of points on the board. They would love someone like McFadden here, but they’ll take Ellis and look to snag a RB to develop later in the draft.
With a better defense, the Jets could improve their offensive problems with either with Clemens or Pennington at QB and return to being a contender like they were in 2006. More time on the field means more carries for Jones and maybe more scores for this offense.
7. New England Patriots — Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Is this really fair? The best team of the year drafting 7th. Well, that’s the Patriots voodoo working. CB Asante Samuel will be more than likely leaving the team after the season, as he was franchised last year, so NE will need a corner to replace him. Mike Jenkins is a great corner and can play all over the field.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Expect more of the same from the Belichick’s crew. If Asante leaves, it would hurt them to not replace him with a quick CB who can fill those shoes. Jenkins can take on that roll. While the Patriots may have a weaker secondary next season until he gets a feel for the NFL game, the crafty, veteran linemen and linebackers can make up for any weaknesses in the secondary, and we all know the Patriots can overcome teams in a scoring contest. The Patriots defense is almost always worth taking as a mid-level defense unless you don’t like them playing nice in the fourth quarter and letting opposing teams score back some dignity.
8. Baltimore Ravens — Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky
The Ravens need a young QB, and I think Woodson should be that guy. He played consistently well in the toughest conference in football and has the size and power to be an NFL QB. I’m not entirely sold on Brohm right here, as I think Woodson better fits the Raven’s mold. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brohm went here, but if I’m the Ravens, I’m taking Woodson.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I wonder what Ray Lewis would say about this pick. Whether it’s Woodson or Brohm here, it’s definitely a QB. New head coach John Harbaugh will want to start the season off building up that offense and rejuvenating it with some new blood.
Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason didn’t live up to their positions consistently in 2007, but they could in 2008 with a better QB and consistent timing. Kyle Boller and Troy Smith both showed potential, but they need to show a lot more in camp to land a starting role.
2008 will be a rebuilding year for the Baltimore offense, but with such a great defense keeping games close, an improved quarterback could give them a decent offense that can put some points on your board. Whatever QB starts in Baltimore might be worth a look as a backup QB for fantasy or a bye-week fill.
Check out the next 8 picks in the Part 2 later this week.