As D-Day Draws Near, Rumors Are Swirling


The Dolphins aren't done.

A day after Miami signed Michigan OT Jake Long, making him the top pick in the draft, word around the league is that the 'Fins are trying to find their way back into the first round via a trade. While this move mirrors that of the Cleveland Browns a year ago when they selected Joe Thomas third and then traded back into the bottom of Round 1 to pick up QB Brady Quinn, the move is classic Bill Parcells, who loves to maneuver his way up and down the board on draft weekend.

The object of Parcells' attention appears to be Long's former college QB, Chad Henne. This, too, shouldn't be very surprising. While signalcallers Matt Ryan and Brian Brohm may have better overall grades on most boards, Parcells likes a smart guy at the helm with a bazooka attached to his shoulder. Henne's arm strength is his strong suit, he impressed scouts with his accuracy at the Senior Bowl, and he has played against top competition throughout his career. The issues with his vision and mechanics in the pocket can be addressed with coaching.

Miami's first pick in the second round is No. 32. If they make a deal similar to the Browns, who traded their 2007 No. 2 and this year's No. 1 for Quinn, that 32nd pick could get Miami back into the top 20, which is where we have Brohm rated in our latest mock draft. Though the Dolphins could risk waiting to select Henne at the top of Round 2, it's risky business with his stock rising by the day.

With the Long deal done, the pressure has now fallen squarely on the shoulders of the Rams brass in St. Louis. The problem is there are reportedly factions within the organization that cannot agree upon who the pick should be. This may seem like a big deal but it's not. It happens all the time. Our sources tell us the coaching staff is highest on Chris Long, while the personnel department likes Vernon Gholston and Glenn Dorsey.

At the end of the day (or the Rams' 10 minutes), this could make a trade down the most reasonable solution. All reports are that the Saints are aggressively working to get to the Rams' pick in an effort to snag Dorsey before Atlanta can do so at No. 3. Kansas City and Baltimore, each of which is in need of a signalcaller and believes the Falcons are in the QB business with the third pick, are also trying to get to No. 2.

Of course, you are all saying, "What about the Bears?" That's because you remember that we had Brohm going to Chicago at No. 14 in last week's mock here on Well, the Bears are in fact trying to put together a package that could get them up to the No. 2 spot and in the Matt Ryan discussion.

Could one of the team's disgruntled LBs be in the mix here? Stay tuned. The Bears will undoubtedly have to give up a lot to get that high in this draft and, with Miami reportedly targeting Henne, could be smart to stay where they are and take Brohm, who is just as polished as Ryan.

So with Long signed, and some combination of Dorsey and Ryan likely occupying selections two and three, that means the Jets will get their shot at one of the remaining elite players in Chris Long, Darren McFadden or Vernon Gholston and could be fielding several offers for that No. 6 pick as their time on the clock draws closer.

There is some other noise swirling regarding the first round as well. Though the Cowboys don't seem likely to use their two first-round picks to trade up for anyone but a sliding McFadden, one thing is clear: Look for them to find someone with the ability to bolster the return game. It's a point of emphasis in their war room this week.

Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Stewart are two other RBs who are expected to go in the first round and could be available to Dallas at 22 or 28. And while players like Felix Jones of Arkansas and Jamaal Charles of Texas are considered late-first-/early-second-round picks, look for East Carolina's Chris Johnson, who averaged 227 total yards per game last season, and Central Florida's Kevin Smith to be factors on day one as well.

Johnson is the fastest back in the draft (4.24 in the 40) and a dangerous return man (keep your eye on Dallas in Round 2 if the Pokes go corner-receiver with their first-rounders), while Smith is a house at 6'1", 217 and is a powerful back who can withstand the physical pounding of the NFL.

Tight end is another position with players on the move. Notre Dame's John Carlson appears to be the most polished all-around player, but some teams are enamored of Purdue's Dustin Keller, who has the speed to threaten on the deep seam and could excel as a move TE or H-back. Texas A & M's Martellus Bennett is an outstanding athlete with great upside, while Southern Cal's Fred Davis is an outstanding receiving TE who has been hurt by poor showings in postseason workouts.

Finally, don't be surprised to see some of the OTs drop in Round 1. Chris Williams, once thought to be a top-10 prospect, has garnered the "soft" tag in some circles, while Jeff Otah's lack of polish could hurt his stock. BC's Gosder Cherilus is a G-T tweener and SC's Sam Baker is now being seen by some scouts as more of an inside player, possibly even at C despite playing his entire career at LT for the Trojans.

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