In the past four drafts, a highly regarded quarterback has dropped - shockingly in some cases - in the first round. Brady Quinn, projected to go seventh to Miami a year ago, plummeted to 22nd and Cleveland. In 2005, Aaron Rodgers was mentioned as the possible first pick in the draft but tumbled to 24 and Green Bay. In 2006, Matt Leinart was thought to be the best quarterback, only to fall to Arizona at 10. And in 2004, Ben Roethlisberger fell to Pittsburgh at 11. It could happen today with Matt Ryan, although probably not past the Ravens' pick at 8.
In four of the past five drafts, a team traded a future pick or traded up from the second round to get a quarterback. That includes the Ravens in 2003, when they gave up a future No. 1 and more for Kyle Boller. A year later, the Bills traded up to get J.P. Losman at 22. In 2005, the Redskins traded into the first round for Jason Campbell. Last year, it was the Browns who jumped up to grab Quinn. That's all relevant given the presence of Chad Henne, Joe Flacco and Brian Brohm today.
It is an anomaly that three of the draft's top four cornerbacks come from mid-major programs. That might make some teams nervous. The top corner this year is Troy's Leodis McKelvin, who also is the draft's top returner. That should make him the first to go. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of Tennessee State and Mike Jenkins of South Florida also rank high. The top corner from a major program is Aqib Talib (Kansas), who failed a drug test.
In an effort to remove some tedium from the first round, the NFL has shortened the time limit from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. While most teams don't see that as a problem, the Patriots' Bill Belichick believes it could hamper some of the trade negotiations. "There's a little more degree of difficulty in the small moving parts than what there is in some trades in the later rounds," he said. He expects most teams will have had to conduct more pre-draft negotiations than in the past to prepare for all eventualities.
It won't be surprising if at least a couple of veterans get traded during today's proceedings. The Saints and Seahawks are reportedly trying to get Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey. The Eagles are trying to unload cornerback Lito Sheppard. The Dolphins want to deal defensive end Jason Taylor, who doesn't fit in their 3-4 scheme. And then there are wide-outs Roy Williams (Detroit) and Chad Johnson (Cincinnati), who are being sought by NFC East teams.
KEN MURRAY'S MOCK DRAFT
* Projected trades
Team / What they need / What they did / Their pick
1. Dolphins Help at every position, Signed a safe pick at a position of great need. OT Jake Long, Michigan especially offensive tackle.
2. Rams More pressure on the They can get the best edge rusher (Chris Long) DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU opposing quarterback. or the best defensive tackle. 3. Falcons A thorough overhaul of the roster. They'd like to begin with Dorsey but will happily QB Matt Ryan, Boston College settle for the franchise quarterback. 4. Raiders Speed, as Al Davis always dictates. They can go for the playmaking running back DE-LB Vernon Gholston, Ohio State (Darren McFadden) or improve the pass rush. 5. Chiefs To rebuild the offensive line, Grab the second-best lineman or replace DE Chris Long, Virginia add a cornerback. DE Jared Allen. 6. Jets Add a playmaking receiver They'd love Ryan if he were still available. RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas and No. 2 cornerback.
7. * Saints Run stuffer or cornerback. They want Dorsey, but probably can't get him. DT Sedrick Ellis, USC (from Patriots) 8. Ravens Quarterback, cornerback and tackle. If Ryan is gone at 8, they trade down G-OT Branden Albert, Virginia or get their next left tackle. 9. Bengals Reinforcements on defense. They want Ellis, but should be content OLB Keith Rivers, USC with the best linebacker. 10. * Patriots Cornerbacks and linebackers. They can get the top corner or a versatile pass DE Derrick Harvey, Florida (from Saints) rusher. 11. Bills Corner or big receiver. Add the receiver and improve the pass game. WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State
13. Panthers Left tackle and pass rusher. Tap into the reservoir of blockers. OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh
14. Bears Quarterback and a tackle. Too early for a quarterback here, so they OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt should take a tackle. 15. Lions Defensive help all around. Unless there's a defensive end they like, they RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois may not be able to resist a big, fast running back. 16. Cardinals Cornerback and pass rushers. Pump up the running game. RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
Team What they need What they did Their pick 17. Chiefs Someone who can keep Go for a corner or pick from the deep class OT Gosder Cherlius, Boston College (from Vikings) QB Brodie Croyle upright. of tackles. 18. Texans Tackle or cornerback. Missing the run on tackles, they get the best corner CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy and top returner. 19. Eagles Big-play receiver or a tackle. They need to replace Lito Sheppard at corner. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State 20. Buccaneers Cornerback for departed Brian Kelly They could trade up for a corner or take a red-zone WR Limas Sweed, Texas or wide receiver. threat at wide-out. 21. Redskins Tall target for Jason Campbell or Trade down or get the pass rusher. DE Phillip Merling, Clemson a pass rusher. 22. Cowboys Corner, running back and receiver. Trade up for the player of their choice or get the CB Aqib Talib, Kansas (from Browns) corner who falls to them, even if he failed a drug test. 23. Steelers Defensive end for the 3-4 Get a guard later, go for defense here. DT-DE Kentwan Balmer, or an offensive guard. North Carolina
24. Titans They're depleted at receiver and haven't Take a runner in the first two rounds for RB Felix Jones, Arkansas solved the running back problem. the third straight year. 25. Seahawks Running back and tight end are big needs. Trade down or get the best tight end. TE Dustin Keller, Purdue
27. Chargers Depth at corner, running back, tackle. Best player available at one of those positions CB Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech
28. Cowboys Offensive playmaker. Get a runner or a speedy receiver. WR DeSean Jackson, California
29. 49ers Upgrades on the front seven. Take a flier on a receiver or get a versatile linebacker. OLB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee (from Colts) 30. Packers Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback now, and A corner would help, and almost any position on QB Joe Flacco, Delaware that may scare some in the organization. offense would work. 31. Giants Safety and outside linebacker are positions Trade out, up or pick. S Kenny Phillips, Miami of concern.
Note: There are only 31 picks because New England lost its original first-round selection as part of its penalty for last season's Spygate controversy.