A few notes from my first first-round projection for April's NFL draft:
• The Miami Dolphins need help on defense and Bill Parcells is a defensive-minded coach, so DT Glenn Dorsey would be the logical pick. And while the Dolphins could listen to trade offers for the top pick, there has not been a lot of movement in the top 10 in recent drafts. Why did Adrian Peterson slip to No. 7 last year? Because teams weren't willing to trade up knowing they would have to part with draft picks and pay more money for the higher pick. Also for Miami, QB Matt Ryan has to be in the discussion because the Dolphins may not be sold on John Beck (a second-round pick last year). Miami needs quarterback help and Ryan is going to be a top-five pick. Ryan might be too good to pass up, and he's a better prospect than Beck was when he came out of BYU last year. (Ryan is the only QB I am projecting will go in the first round).
• St. Louis will likely go with Long -- either Chris or Jake. Although the Rams drafted defensive tackle Adam Carriker last year, I could see them taking Virginia defensive end Chris Long. He's similar to Dorsey in that he plays with tremendous intensity and makes everyone around him better. If the Rams don't go with Chris Long, then Michigan left tackle Jake Long should be the pick since they could use help on the offensive line.
• The Atlanta Falcons should be in a good spot to upgrade at either running back or quarterback, so Darren McFadden or Matt Ryan could be the choice. I like Ryan here because this is a franchise that is in desperate need of a quarterback after going from Michael Vick to Joey Harrington to Byron Leftwich before finishing the season with Chris Redman.
• If Atlanta doesn't take McFadden, then Oakland will. (Remember, Oakland and Atlanta have a coin toss to determine who picks third overall.) After drafting first overall in 2007, Oakland could be looking at getting the best player in the draft if McFadden is available.
Also, there are only 31 selections in the first round this year because the New England Patriots had to forfeit their pick after illegally videotaping signals during their Week 1 game against the New York Jets.
The draft projections below are not based on ratings, but on information I have gathered and where I think teams will go based on needs. The first-round projections will be updated Jan. 31 following evaluations from the Senior Bowl.