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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

April 19, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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The 2008 NFL Draft is one week away, and there are a number of fascinating storylines that are in motion involving it.

At #1, there is still no clear-cut answer for the Miami Dolphins. Since word first leaked of the team having opened negotiations with Michigan OT Jake Long, it has appeared that the Dolphins have two things on their agenda: signing the #1 pick (whomever it may be) prior to the draft and signing him for less money (or at least less guaranteed cash) than JaMarcus Russell obtained from the Raiders following a long holdout after he was taken #1 in last year's draft.

Forget the "defense" slip by Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland this past Thursday in discussing what the top pick would provide -- remember, Bill Parcells calls the shots in Miami. If anything, the slip might have been an indication of Ireland's desire for the pick to be a defensive player. But, ultimately, Bill Parcells will get the player he wants, provided that he can do so for the right price.

The retirement of Steve McNair earlier this week put the Ravens in a situation where they will need to target a long-term prospect in the draft. There are few who concur with me about the Ravens taking Brian Brohm at the #8 spot, and it's entirely possible that they are correct. But Brohm is a stronger prospect than many give him credit for being, and I suspect that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will give him strong consideration. Perhaps Baltimore will go defense in round one and hope to land the likes of Joe Flacco or Chad Henne later, but I'm willing to stick with my projection of Brohm to Baltimore, at least for now.

Perhaps the most intriguing development of the past week is the indication that the Kansas City Chiefs are interested in trading troubled but talented DE Jared Allen, perhaps for a 2008 first round pick. The Chiefs are reportedly in talks with Minnesota in a deal that would likely see Kansas City acquire Minnesota's first round pick, #17 overall.

Allen, who has been hit with the franchise tag by Kansas City, is on thin ice with the NFL due to off-the-field problems. He's one strike away from a one-year ban due to multiple DUI arrests, but by the same token he lead the NFL in sacks with 15.5 in 2007. Talk about risk/reward -- Allen fits the bill well.

The Vikings need help at defensive end, particularly with DE Kenechi Udeze undergoing treatment for leukemia. Good news came recently for Udeze on that front, as he learned that his leukemia is in remission and that his brother is a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant. Hopefully Udeze will make a full recovery, but in the interim the Vikings have to do something to improve at that position. I've had them pegged on taking a defensive end for some time now, and Jared Allen would be a great (albeit risky) pickup for the team, even at the expense of a first rounder.

Because Allen could technically sign elsewhere as a non-exclusive rights franchise player (at the expense of two first round picks should Kansas City not match), he has been able to meet with Minnesota's coaching staff and ownership without violating any tampering rules. We'll find out in the next week if he ends up with the Vikings.

At the same time, for Kansas City this could be a perfect scenario... provided that either Virginia DE Chris Long or Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston are on the board at #5. With the #17 pick, the Chiefs could take an offensive tackle without having to pay top five money to get him. It's not outside the realm of possibility that the Chiefs could end up with Boise State OT Ryan Clady at #17 -- and as of now I have the Chiefs taking him at #5.

Branden Albert
Branden Albert has a good chance of being a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. (Icon SMI)

With other rumors that are out there, remember that this is the time of year where intentional disinformation is at its highest level. Short of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones telegraphing his plans (because he can), look for plenty of smokescreens and diversions to make figuring out what will happen be especially difficult.

If Miami takes Jake Long at #1, it would make sense for St. Louis to go with a defensive end at #2, given the team's need at that spot and the two outstanding prospects at that position (Chris Long and Vernon Gholston), either of which would be a wonderful addition to the team. Matt Ryan to Atlanta at #3 seems very likely, though the Falcons could always shock the world and go with LSU DT Glenn Dorsey there. That would probably be the team's backup plan if they do want Ryan but another team (such as Baltimore) leapfrogs them to the Rams' #2 spot and takes Ryan there.

The always-fun Oakland Raiders are at #4, and Arkansas RB Darren McFadden is an Al Davis kind of player: explosive, charismatic, lightning-quick, and a big name. If they don't go with McFadden, Oakland might opt to go for a defensive end to bookend with incumbent DE Derrick Burgess.

One player making a late run up draft boards is Virginia OG Branden Albert. Offensive guards rarely go in the first half of the first round, but Albert could potentially end up in that position in the right scenario. I don't see it myself, but there are enough whispers and projections pointing at that where I wanted to at least address it as a possibility.


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