As promised, here is our first Round 2 projection for the April 26-27 NFL Draft. This round is part of our Mock Draft II and follows the first-round selections that ran Tuesday and Wednesday. The number in parentheses is the overall pick in the draft.
1. (32) Miami — Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
If you are going to pass on Matt Ryan, then you have to get a QB in camp to at least compete with John Beck if not replace him. Despite a disappointing senior season, Henne has shown good arm strength and accuracy, and his mechanics are solid. What he needs to do now is improve his poise in the pocket and his decision-making.
2. (33) St. Louis — Dan Connor, LB, Penn State
Most have Connor listed with a first-round grade, so he would be a steal here for the Rams. But his stock has been dropping recently as he was just average in workouts. However, he looked better than advertised at the Senior Bowl. He's not a workout guy; he's an out-and-out football player.
3. (34) Atlanta — Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
Here's another player who's been showing up in the first round of a lot of recent mocks but has some question marks. Scouts want to know if he's the underachiever he appeared to be his first three years in Chapel Hill or the dominant inside force he was as a senior under Butch Davis. His case hasn't been helped by poor test results in workouts. But he's a gap shooter who will take pressure off Jamaal Anderson.
4. (35) Kansas City — James Hardy, WR, Indiana
A 6'6" receiver who is a shade under 220 pounds and who ran a 4.45 at the combine, Hardy will create all kinds of problems out on the edge, especially for smaller cornerbacks. He needs to add bulk and strength if he's going to beat press coverage at the NFL level, but he is an instant red zone threat (36 TDs for the Hoosiers) and gives KC a viable threat opposite Dwayne Bowe.
5. (36) New York Jets — Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
In our mock, the running backs have slid a bit, and that's partially due to this being a fairly deep class and our belief that teams aren't convinced they need to spend a lot of money on an early-round back. But if Stewart were to really fall this far, which seems unlikely, the Jets would be hard-pressed to pass him up.
He was very productive in college and had a fantastic combine, but then had surgery on his toe. That makes his combine numbers even more impressive, but he probably won't be ready for training camp. We were working in Hempstead when Blair Thomas tried that trick, and we all know how that worked out. But with Thomas Jones in place, Stewart won't be asked to carry a big load early, and the Jets will have a versatile back who can run inside and outside and contribute as a dangerous receiver in the passing game ready to go for the future.
6. (37) Atlanta — Sam Baker, OT, Southern Cal
Now that Mike Smith has his DT to create havoc in the middle, it's time to address the O-line and account for the release of Wayne Gandy. Baker is a left tackle who won't impress you with his athleticism and doesn't necessarily look the part, but he's a fighter who's tough to beat. Keep him as an inline blocker and he can dominate with experience and coaching.
7. (38) Baltimore — Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
The Ravens need another receiver, especially with the loss of Devard Darling and with Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason coming off poor seasons, but they also need someone to get them the ball. Flacco has a strong arm that will allow the Ravens to finally stretch the field a bit and take some defenders out of the box for Willis McGahee. The QB talent will have dried up by the time the Ravens go on the clock again in Round 3.
8. (39) San Francisco — Mike Pollack, C, Arizona State
GM Scot McCloughan has said that depth on the O-line is a concern of his and that the 49ers could be looking for at least two O-linemen in this draft. Pollack can step in and play right away, which might allow current C Eric Heitmann to move back to his natural position at G and replace the departed Justin Smiley or the aging Larry Allen. Some will call for a WR here, but with the off-season acquisitions of Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce and with Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, Jason Hill and Arnaz Battle still on the roster, it's less of a priority
9. (40) New Orleans — Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
Billy Miller is gone and Eric Johnson, despite strong play when he's on the field, can't stay healthy. Keller is a mover on the board of late and will fit nicely in the Saints' passing attack as an H-back or move TE with great hands and the ability to make plays down the seam, opening things up for Marques Colston and company
10. (41) Buffalo — Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Flowers is a player who can be most successful in a Cover-2 scheme where he can come up and punish receivers. His stock has dropped because of a slow 40 time (4.5) and poor workouts, but he is durable, an intimidator on the field, and he will make plays on the ball. Buffalo needs a playmaker in the secondary, something that was missing last season without Nate Clements.
11. (42) Denver — Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
Don't expect the Broncos to overreact to the Brandon Marshall injury here. He will be ready for the start of the season, they signed veterans Keary Colbert and Edell Sheppard, and there is still plenty of WR talent at the position in this draft. Defensive tackle is a glaring need with Marcus Thomas' legal trouble, and Denver needs to do something to protect its LBs and shore up an awful run defense. Sims is tough (he played with a broken hand for most of 2007), quick and an explosive gap shooter who can blow up plays in the backfield.
12. (43) Carolina — Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Jones has been moving up boards as well despite playing his college ball in the shadow of Darren McFadden. Some think he's as good as Rashard Mendenhall. In Carolina, he can spell DeAngelo Williams, who has never carried the load, either. Jones is too good a value to pass up here.
13. (44) Chicago — Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas
They are screaming for a WR in Chi-town, but the WRs in this draft are falling and there will be a decent player available in the third round, where the Bears have two selections. The O-line is ancient and an obvious weakness. Collins is raw and lacks experience, and though he'll start out on the right side and get plenty of help in the Bears' many two-TE sets, he played the left side in college and could eventually move to LT and be the cornerstone for the Bears line.
14. (45) Detroit — Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas
We're not sold on handing the job to Tatum Bell, who hasn't held a starting gig in his career, and Charles is a great value here. He's an excellent outside runner with outstanding speed and can work as a change-of-pace back, spelling Bell and helping ignite a stagnant run game that will now mirror the zone scheme of Denver and Houston.
15. (46) Cincinnati — Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech
The questionable health status of OTs Levi Jones and Willie Anderson makes this a priority in this draft for the Cats. Brown is a former TE who is athletic and physical despite a lack of experience. But he's a grinder in the run game, and that's where the Bengals are looking to improve their offense.
16. (47) Minnesota — Reggie Smith, CB/S, Oklahoma
The Vikings did a nice job addressing the safety position, signing Madieu Williams to pair with Darren Sharper, but both are aging. Smith has played every position in the secondary and is maybe the most versatile and most coachable player at his position in this draft. He can contribute right away in sub packages and gives the Vikes valuable depth at any position in the secondary.
17. (48) Atlanta — Curtis Lofton, ILB, Oklahoma
The Falcons would like to get Keith Brooking out of the middle and back to his natural position on the weak side. Lofton will allow them to do that. Though he was very good playing on the strong side, he moved to MLB for his final four games last year and dominated. He has tremendous speed from the inside, takes great angles and has a nose for the ball (157 tackles in 2007 — the most by a Sooner since 1979). If the Falcons can protect him with their DTs, he has comparable skills to DeMeco Ryans.
18. (49) Philadelphia — Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
Though he has had some durability issues and he is not the most complete receiver on the board, he is the fastest and is at his best as a straight-line runner who can stretch the field vertically, something the Eagles offense has been lacking in recent seasons. He needs to improve his strength, route-running and technique, but in the meantime he has the big-strike ability the Eagles are looking for.
19. (50) Arizona — Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina
An explosive player with 4.2 speed and wicked ups (10'10" broad jump and 35" vertical). Some compare Johnson to Brian Westbrook, but Westbrook doesn't have this kid's second gear. He lacks ideal size but plays much stronger than he appears. He can run inside while following blockers, like the Cards do in their two-back sets, he's a receiving threat who can split out wide, and he can be a dangerous weapon in the return game. Coach Whiz will find a way to get him on the field right away and still groom him for the eventual end to Edgerrin James' run.
20. (51) Washington — Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
Anyone at another position of need for the 'Skins would be a reach at this point, and despite the signing of Jerome Mathis, Washington's receiving corps is hardly intact. Brandon Lloyd is gone, Antwan Randle El is limited and Santana Moss hasn't met his big-play potential with Jason Campbell at the helm. Manningham has some off-the-field issues that the Redskins will have to examine carefully, but there was a time when his play alone had scouts considering him a sure-fire first-round pick.
21. (52) Tampa Bay — Justin King, CB, Penn State
This is a high-character guy who earned a degree in three years. Oh, yeah, and he also has been timed as fast as 4.26 in the 40 and recorded a vertical jump near 38". He tackles well and gets a good jump on the ball, but he plays with too much cushion and struggled against some top competition in 2007, which is why he has dropped. Still, he might be the best pure athlete in the draft. Coach Kiffin will coach him up right, and Coach Gruden will find a way to use that speed on special teams and even offense.
22. (53) Pittsburgh — Roy Schuening, G, Oregon State
This is a Pittsburgh kind of guy. Tough and physically strong, Schuening is also smart and versatile with a team-first attitude (he moved to tackle last season when injuries hit the Beavers hard). He needs technique work, but he's very good in short areas and is a grinder in the run game. The Steelers have solidified the future of their O-line with their first two picks and can address needs in the secondary and at DE later in the draft.
23. (54) Tennessee — Xavier Adibi, LB, Virginia Tech
None of the D-linemen available are good value here, but Adibi is. Jeff Fisher loves aggressive defensive players and Adibi has the quickness and range to cover a lot of ground. He played inside in college and has the smarts to do so in the NFL, but he needs to add strength and bulk and do a better job of locating the ball. However, he is athletic enough to get into his drops and run to the football.
24. (55) Seattle — Fred Davis, TE, Southern Cal
Though Martellus Bennett is probably the more well-rounded and complete TE, Mike Holmgren has been aching for a receiving TE in his West Coast offense. Davis has sure hands and big-play ability and can test the deep secondary despite what the watches said at his workouts.
25. (56) Green Bay — Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
The Pack WILL take the "complete" guy. Bennett is a dominating inline blocker and has the speed and hands to be a midrange receiving threat. Donald Lee is the only viable TE on the roster and has the speed to attack the deep zones.
26. (57) Miami — Cliff Avril, OLB, Purdue
Avril showed well in the Senior Bowl as a pass-rushing DE, but he is better-suited to be a standup OLB in a 3-4 scheme like the one the Dolphins will eventually switch to. Much like other former Boilermakers like Shaun Phillips and Anthony Spencer (who played for Bill Parcells in Dallas), Avril has a chance to shine in this system under this coaching staff.
27. (58) Jacksonville — Early Doucet, WR, Louisiana State
The Jags still have Dennis Northcutt, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones on the roster, but none averaged even three catches per game last season. The additions of Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson bring competition to the mix but do little to upgrade the position. Injuries have led Doucet to poor showings on the field in 2007 and in postseason workouts, but he is a polished receiver who runs good routes and can beat press coverage. He can be a good option in the slot in the Jags' spread formations.
28. (59) Indianapolis — Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
You can't continue to run 4.6s in the 40 and hope to be drafted very high. Kelly would be fortunate to get picked up in the second round, the way things have gone for him this month. But with Marvin Harrison battling age and injury, Kelly could be a good third in the Colts attack and give Peyton Manning a big target (6'4", 224) in the middle of the field working out of the slot due to his lack of speed.
29. (60) Green Bay — Dre Moore, DT, Maryland
A late bloomer who struggled early in his college career, he began to play with better awareness as a senior and led Maryland with six sacks, the most by a Terrapin since Shawne Merriman. An avid weightlifter, Moore has the strength and bull-rush moves to pressure the pocket and the athletic ability to be a dominant run stuffer if coached well. With the loss of Corey Williams in the off-season, the Pack can use Moore in rotation with Justin Harrell and Ryan Pickett.
30. (61) Dallas — Jerome Simpson, WR, Coastal Carolina
An unbelievable athlete with 4.4 speed and a 41" vertical leap! He is rising up boards and impressing scouts with his smooth route-running skills and solid hands. He needs to bulk up and be more consistent, but he has tremendous upside and will be ready when TO or Terry Glenn passes the baton.
31. (62) New England — DaJuan Morgan, S, North Carolina State
Morgan is a great athlete and has played both strong and free safety. He lacks starting experience and good techniques, but with the coaching he'll get in New England, he'll be groomed to take over at FS.
32. (63) New York Giants — Tyrell Johnson, SS, Arkansas State
Johnson impressed at the Hula Bowl and the combine. He is a bit of a tweener who lacks ideal size to play SS. He doesn't have the cover skills to play FS but is comfortable playing in Cover-3, covering a deep third of the field, and will help a Giants secondary that lost Gibril Wilson.