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The latest word on what the teams with the top 10 picks are considering


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The latest word on what the teams with the top 10 picks are considering

By Dan Arkush

Feb. 25, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS Now that the coin has been flipped at this year s Combine to determine the third through fifth spots in the 2008 draft, maybe the Falcons fortunes are starting to take a turn for the better. After all, the time seems right for an updated look at the draft strategies and mindsets of the teams who own this year s top 10 picks.

Here s what our sources around the league were telling us as the Combine was winding down:

1. Miami The Dolphins appear to be going out of their way not to tip their hand, but our sources remain pretty confident that the team will select Boston College QB Matt Ryan, provided they don t trade down. It s an easy decision, a source told PFW. They are pressing hard to move down now, but I don t see it happening.

2. St. Louis The word is the Rams are looking at both Michigan OLT Jake Long and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, with a higher priority apparently on the offensive line given the team s history of busting on early DT prospects. New Rams executive V.P. of player personnel Billy Devaney told PFW at the Combine that he is going to depend tremendously on the input of V.P. of player personnel Tony Softli, who suddenly is looking like he ll stick around through at least the length of his contract, which has two years remaining after the draft.

3. Atlanta In conversations with team sources, we re being told that they are looking primarily at quarterback (Ryan), left tackle (Long) and defensive tackle (Dorsey) in that order. Tackle is a desperate need, one team source said. They don't have a legitimate starting OT on the roster after cutting Wayne Gandy.

4. Oakland Raiders officials say the always-intriguing Al Davis will look to fill his team s most pressing needs first, starting at offensive tackle and defensive tackle. That s where it gets interesting, a rival team executive told PFW. Maybe (USC NT) Sedrick Ellis goes higher than he should. He s more like a top-15 pick than top-10, but Al has always loved Trojans, and the head coach (Lane Kiffin) knows Ellis. Or maybe that's where the L.A. kid (Boise State OLT Ryan Clady) goes. Al won't care about (character concerns).

5. Kansas City Chiefs officials say they are looking hard at offensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver, in that order, and will reach for an OT if they can't move down. We hear the preferred OT choice of Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards is Pittsburgh OLT Jeff Otah.

6. N.Y. Jets The consensus is that they re looking first and foremost for a running back and a hybrid DE-OLB, with Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart, Virginia DE-OLB Chris Long and Ohio State OLB Vernon Gholston as the primary suspects. The team is still exploring options in free agency, not to mention shopping Jonathan Vilma and Dewayne Robertson moves that could seriously alter their draft plans.

7. New England With Asante Samuel asking for $11 million in free agency, a figure the Pats brain trust will absolutely not pay, the team is eyeing a cornerback, but more than anything, we hear they would like to move down the same way everyone in front of them would. Said one team insider: This could be a good spot for Gholston, but their coaches are not that far into the draft yet, coming off their Super Bowl run, and they always have considerable input.

8. Baltimore We hear the Ravens would like to address the QB position but will probably be looking for a badly needed cornerback with Ryan expected to be long gone. In that case, our sources believe their choice will likely be either Virginia Tech s Brandon Flowers or Troy s Leodis McKelvin.

9. Cincinnati With Justin Smith on the way out of Cincy, we hear the Bengals are looking hard at defensive end, just as they were a year ago in the first round, when head coach Marvin Lewis loved Jarvis Moss but was scared by his background concerns. Word is Florida s Derrick Harvey, who has a cleaner character than Moss and is a more versatile player, and Clemson s Phillip Merling are two players they like a lot. It s also possible an offensive tackle such as Vanderbilt s Chris Williams could be an option, with a big run on tackles expected to occur in the top part of Round One.

10. New Orleans We hear the Saints are desperate for a corner and are not willing to enter the extreme bidding for Samuel, thus making McKelvin, South Florida s Mike Jenkins and Kansas Aqib Talib top considerations.

One more interesting development worth noting: Conspicuous by his absence in the above observations is Darren McFadden, who could be in the midst of a Randy Moss-type plunge in the first round due to character issues the Arkansas running back might not be able to shake.

How bad has it gotten for McFadden, who was widely considered to be a surefire top-five pick not too long ago? Not only has his stock fallen beneath the likes of Stewart and Illinois Rashard Mendenhall, we also hear fellow Razorbacks RB Felix Jones could now conceivably be selected before him.

Typically in recent years, it has been quarterbacks who have fallen hard. The safe landing spot for McFadden, as it was for free-falling Brady Quinn a year ago, is at No. 22, where fellow Arkansas alum and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still said to be very interested, if he does not get overexcited and package his two first-round picks to land him sooner. Carolina, who traded down a year ago, and Chicago both need runners and are prime trading candidates who could help Dallas end a McFadden free fall. Perhaps helping offset some of McFadden s character concerns is the unofficial 4.27 time he posted in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.

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I am not saying that it will happen this way but the mere fact that people are even thinking that it could go this way says a great deal about how character is viewed today.

I think alot of young men would be very wise to take a look at whats going on in the NFL and make for darn sure they stay out of trouble and on the straight and narrow.

This is very telling.

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Pro Football Weekly for many years has been a way of teams to "leak" bad info on what they are going to do to put fear (of loss) into other teams to trade up or down.

A perfect example is I believe the Falcons are putting on airs as are the Dolphins that they will take Ryan so that Baltimore will trade up to get their QB. This would be perfect for us as we could gain more picks.

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