Scout NFL Team Experts Mock Draft: Part I

DE Chris Long (Kevin Cox/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft is upon us, so the time has come for the experts at Scout.com to huddle up once again for their annual intersite mock draft to see what would happen if they were in charge. Who will end up being No. 1 overall? When does QB Matt Ryan come off the board? How many offensive tackles go in the top 10? Here is the top half of Round 1 ...

No. 1: Miami Dolphins

DE Chris Long – Virginia
The Dolphins' preference remains – as it has been for a long time – to trade the pick, but the exorbitant signing bonus the No. 1 overall pick will command has made the possibility remote at best. Stuck with the pick, Miami is left to choose among a group of prospects lacking that true franchise player. Chris Long is probably the safest pick. The hope is that Long can make the conversion to outside linebacker for running downs, while lining up as a rush end in obvious passing situations. – Alain Poupart, DolphinDigest.com

No. 2: St. Louis Rams

OT Jake Long – Michigan
The Rams have problems to solve on both their lines. However, the need on the offensive side is more glaring at this point with Orlando Pace's future very much in doubt and Alex Barron continuing to rack up false starts at a historic rate. As much as they'd love to match Glenn Dorsey with Adam Carriker, the Rams have to select their next franchise offensive tackle now. Long could dominate on the right side if Pace is able to play another year or two. If he has to shore up the left side, he'll complement Scott Linehan's offense and give quarterback Marc Bulger the protection he didn't have after Pace went down for the season with a shoulder injury last September. – Doug Farrar, Seahawks.net

No. 3: Atlanta Falcons

DT Glenn Dorsey – Louisiana State
Linebacker and tight end are needs, but none of the top LBs are worth this pick. So it comes to defensive tackle, and the Falcons will pull the trigger on Dorsey – a player Scout.com's Tom Marino considers the tackle that projects best five years down the road. The Atlanta defense was awful in every way last year, and they need help at all three levels. While the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville, Mike Smith built a solid defense around two stout tackles. He'll start the process with Dorsey, who can split double teams and is virtually impossible to single block. – Matthew Postins, BucsBlitz.com

No. 4: Oakland Raiders

DE Vernon Gholston – Ohio State
While the Raiders would have loved seeing Glenn Dorsey fall to them to aid in stuffing the run, Gholston will provide a bookend to talented sack specialist Derrick Burgess. The need for a pass rusher on the opposite end of Burgess became compounded when Chris Clemons left via free agency. Gholston logged the only sack against touted Michigan tackle Jake Long last season, and the high-energy end will provide a dynamite presence to a defensive line that was lackluster in 2007. His intensity, motor and closing speed make him an instant threat to sack the quarterback as a rookie. If he can improve upon his run defense, Oakland may get the best of both worlds. – Denis Savage, SilverAndBlack.com

No. 5: Kansas City Chiefs

OL Branden Albert – Virginia
The Chiefs had little choice but to address their offensive line with the fifth pick. Even though it was a reach by most NFL Draft experts, the Chiefs selected Branden Albert from Virginia. The team felt that Albert, despite starting only two games at left tackle his senior season, was a better choice than Boise State's Ryan Clady. Kansas City feels that Albert is their long-term solution at left tackle, though the choice came with great debate. With Arkansas running back Darren McFadden still on the board, the team had him rated higher than Albert but ultimately passed on the Razorbacks star in favor of filling the team's biggest need. – Nick Athan, WarpaintIllustrated.com

No. 6: New York Jets

RB Darren McFadden – Arkansas
The Jets need a dynamic playmaker on offense in the worst way, and they get it at No. 6 with McFadden – arguably the most talented prospect in the entire draft. A two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up, the former Razorback burned up the track at 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Thomas Jones only averaged 3.6 yards per carry after being acquired from the Bears, and Leon Washington is too valuable as a return man to be a featured back. – John Crist, BearReport.com

No. 7: New England Patriots

CB Leodis McKelvin – Troy
Sitting at the seventh spot, the Patriots would normally look to trade down if the players they wanted were gone. With Gholston, McFadden and Albert all off the board, the team will address a position of need by taking the best player available – cornerback Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin adds another young talent to the defensive secondary, one with the versatility to return kicks. With three new defensive backs signed for this season, McKelvin can slowly work his way into the rotation and eventually become the starter New England so desperately needs. – Jon Scott, PatriotsInsider.com

No. 8: Baltimore Ravens

QB Matt Ryan – Boston College
With the eighth-overall selection, the Baltimore Ravens run to the podium to select Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, hopefully ending their quest for a franchise signal-caller. It's been a long history of failure for the Ravens under center, and it's time to finally address the position in the wake of Steve McNair's abrupt retirement and the Kyle Boller experiment being a failure. The Ravens will now look to address the cornerback position at No. 38 overall in the second round. – Aaron Wilson, RavensInsider.com

No. 9: Cincinnati Bengals

DT Sedrick Ellis – Southern California
Ellis helps a defensive front in need of a quality presence in the trenches. The former Trojan had a tremendous senior season, followed by great performances at the Senior Bowl, Scouting Combine and USC Pro Day. Bengals brass will likely consider linebacker Keith Rivers with this selection, but adding a highly touted defensive tackle who plays with a high motor and makes plays in the backfield is most pressing. – Chris Steuber, Scout.com

No. 10: New Orleans Saints

CB Mike Jenkins – South Florida
While the Saints could use this pick to take USC LB Keith Rivers, Jenkins addresses another key need for the Saints – they had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season. He's solid as a man and zone defender and has great instincts around the football. Plus, scouts like his top-end speed, which keeps him from getting beat over the top by receivers. The Saints gave up 15 pass plays of 40 or more yards last year, tied for worst in the NFL with Baltimore. Taking Jenkins puts an immediate band-aid on that issue and brings the Saints a player that can step in immediately as a nickel cornerback. – Matthew Postins, SaintsInsider.com

No. 11: Buffalo Bills

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Tennessee State
If Buffalo realistically wants to compete with New England in the AFC East, DRC is the pick. Like Ron Wolf did with Green Bay in the late `90s, the Bills must proactively build a secondary equipped to shut down Randy Moss. Terrence McGee is an above-average cornerback, but there's not much beyond him. Rodgers-Cromartie gives the Bills a dynamic playmaker they lack in deep center. Yes, Buffalo needs a physical receiver to complement Lee Evans, but Devin Thomas is a bit of a reach here and Buffalo can land a solid wideout in the second round. – Tyler Dunne, BuffaloFootballReport.com

No. 12: Denver Broncos

OT Ryan Clady – Boise State
The Broncos have a huge task ahead of them trying to replace former offensive tackle Matt Lepsis, who retired earlier this year. But if available at No. 12, Ryan Clady would almost be too good to turn down. It's no secret Clady is considered to be one of the top two or three tackle prospects in this year's draft, and his experience in Boise State's zone-blocking scheme makes him a great fit for Mike Shanahan's system. – Michael John Schon, BroncosUpdate.com

No. 13: Carolina Panthers

OT Chris Williams – Vanderbilt
The Panthers will consider Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey or Illinios running back Rashard Mendenhall with this selection. However, they would be thrilled if a quality offensive lineman like Vanderbilt tackle Chris Williams is available. Williams would start immediately at left tackle, allowing Travelle Wharton to move to left guard and Jordan Gross to play right tackle, a position where he feels at home. – Brad Thomas, PantherInsider.com

No. 14: Chicago Bears

RB Rashard Mendenhall – Illinois
The Monsters of the Midway need to rebuild an aging and ineffective offensive line, so they're disappointed to see both Ryan Clady and Chris Williams off the board. Even though GM Jerry Angelo drafted Cedric Benson at No. 4 overall just three years ago, this running game is in need of a major boost. Mendenhall is a local product who starred at Niles West High School, and his presence will allow offensive coordinator Ron Turner to get back to the two-pronged ground game that was so successful in 2006 with Benson and the departed Thomas Jones. – John Crist, BearReport.com

No. 15: Detroit Lions

DE Derrick Harvey – Florida
Even if Rashard Mendenhall had been on the board at this selection, the striking availability of Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey will force Matt Millen to spend a first-round pick on (gasp!) the defense – and it apparently worked last time (Ernie Sims, 2006). While the running back position and offensive line can be addressed in later rounds, Detroit simply needs a formidable, athletic body that can start immediately opposite last year's free-agent acquisition, Dewayne White. Harvey fits the bill. The last time Millen drafted a defensive end this high (see: Kalimba Edwards, 2002) it didn't exactly pay dividends, ending unserendipitously in March. – Nate Caminata, RoarReport.com

No. 16: Arizona Cardinals

CB Aqib Talib – Kansas
The Cardinals will likely take Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib at No. 16. With former first-rounder Antrel Rolle moving to safety this season, their needs at corner should be a top priority heading into the draft. Arizona also needs a running back to support Edgerrin James in his 10th season, but with all the juniors coming out this year they can wait until Round 2 to make that selection. – Amberly Richardson, AZRedReport.com

Be on the lookout for Part II of the Scout NFL Team Experts Mock Draft on Wednesday.

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