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Mock Madness

Posted: 3:45 p.m.

It's finally happened.

The NFL mock drafts have now merged with the NCAA basketball pools.

So you may be asking yourself what happens if USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis is there with a ninth seed in the Midwest bracket, and the No. 5 seed Chiefs trade out of the East with No. 12 George Mason to take the Boise State tackle in a 10:40 p.m. start in Anaheim and the Ravens throw in Derrick Mason...?

But in the second version of the '08 Mock Media Draft, there are no sleepers. Everyone knows a certain running back from Arkansas.

1. MIAMI: LT Jake Long, Michigan; Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. (Previous pick DE Chris Long).

The Dolphins will try to ratchet up the buzz to stir a trade for Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and there is some momentum involving Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston. But with Chris Long maybe not having the ideal dimensions for a 4-3 end, the safer pick appears to be an offensive line anchor they haven't had since early in the decade with Richmond Webb.

2. ST. LOUIS: DE Chris Long, Virginia; Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Previous pick LT Jake Long).

If he's there. If not, then Gholston would also fit the Rams' need for a pass rusher out of a 4-3 base. Their defensive ends had just 5.5 sacks last season and they like the two defensive tackles they got out of last year's draft in first-rounder Adam Carriker and fifth-rounder Clifton Ryan.

3. ATLANTA: DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU; Steve Wyche, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Previous pick Dorsey)

Dorsey and Castro are running neck-and-neck with the health rumors. And in some mocks Castro is going ahead of Dorsey. Probably because the scouts think he dominates out on an island.

But apparently the Falcons are convinced Dorsey's legs are healthy and that he fills a valuable need. Plus, with Keith Brooking going back to middle linebacker, they need a big presence to keep people off him. You can put the Falcons, Bengals and about 25 other teams in that category.

But not the Browns.

4. OAKLAND: DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State; Jarrett Bell, USA Today. (Previous pick RB Darren McFadden)

It shows you how Gholston has the league buzzing, and some actually believe he has more upside than Chris Long.

"Pass rushers are at a premium," Bell says. "This is a guy who looks like the kind of player that is just going to get better as he goes through the combine and private workouts. He looks like he's a 4-3 guy and he's got the potential to be a Dwight Freeney, Jason Taylor-type and those guys are so rare."

5. KANSAS CITY: DT Sedrick Ellis, USC; Adam Teicher, Kansas City Star. (Previous pick LT Ryan Clady)

Even though GM Carl Peterson and head coach Herm Edwards were the most visible and highest ranking front office combo at Ryan's workout Tuesday, some believe the Chiefs have too many holes to fill to take a quarterback here. And while they need desperate help on the offensive line, they may now be thinking that the best value at No. 5 is the D-tackle and they can get a good enough offensive lineman early in the second round.

6. JETS: CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy; Michael Smith, (Previous pick Vernon Gholston)

Smith is going through Jets head coach Eric Mangini's head if he sees this nightmarish scenario:

"Obviously I'm trying to trade out of this. All those defensive linemen that can play in my (3-4) defense are gone and I don't need a running back with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington."

(And they just signed Jesse Chatman.)

A corner with great return skills like McKelvin isn't even a great draw because they traded up in the first round to get Darrelle Revis to do that last year. At this point, McKelvin looks to be the best value pick. But they no doubt call Dallas at No. 22 and No. 28 to find out how much they covet said Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.

If Jerry Jones hasn't called already.

7. NEW ENGLAND: OLB Derrick Harvey, Florida; Mike Reiss, The Boston Globe. (Previous pick DT Sedrick Ellis)

If the Jets don't call Dallas, the Pats certainly will. With no defensive linemen available, they want nothing to do with this spot. With Asante Samuel gone, some think they're going for a corner but Harvey would quicken up an aging backer corps. They apparently feel like he can make the transition from D-end to 3-4 outside backer, and Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli have ties to the folks in Gainesville.

8. BALTIMORE: QB Matt Ryan, Boston College; Don Banks, (Previous pick CB Leodis McKelvin)

Yeah, Ryan threw those 19 picks this past season. But all those who have watched a Bengals-Ravens game recently know how desperately Baltimore needs a quarterback and offensive leader, and Ryan showed off his cool intangibles at his workout in front of a media horde rivaling the Fenway Park opener in a couple of weeks.

9. CINCINNATI: ??????????????

Hard to believe that a 6-2, 210-pound fast and powerful prolific bell cow like Arkansas running back Darren McFadden would be there, so it's a 99.9 percent chance that he won't be. There are very few that believe McFadden is getting past the Jets, and The Newark Star-Ledger reported McFadden met with club officials Tuesday.

Plus, the Bengals have done so well off the field lately that bringing in McFadden's baggage on the carousel would have to be a red flag. Reports have him involved in two nightclub altercations and that he has hired a lawyer to handle paternity matters.

And there is his style. McFadden does most of his damage on the perimeter and a Bengals running back does work between the tackles.

The Bengals figure to be in the hunt for a trade as well at this point (they could get a running back AND wide receiver with Dallas' picks), but McFadden being there for them at No. 9, as well as Chris Long, Dorsey, Ellis and Gholston also seems to be fantasy.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has the Bengals taking Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling, but he's in the minority. The highest anyone else seems to have Merling going is No. 11 to Buffalo in The Pro Football Weekly Mock. ESPN's Todd McShay has Merling ticketed to Minnesota at No. 17 and The Sporting News draft magazine puts him at No. 21 to Washington. Scouts Inc., has Merling ranked as the fourth best D-end and the 17th-best player on the board.

But like the brackets, this will all change.

We had some different procrastinators (no one wants to see the Mock Draft season end) compared to the first Media Mock, but the representatives for the Chiefs and Ravens were the same and they changed their first choices. No one really knows what Oakland will do, but the Raiders choice matches the buzz that Gholston is rising up the charts.

Who knows? In another month, Dick Vitale may be at the commissioner's podium.

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