Last week, Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland stood in front of the South Florida media and said of the first overall pick in the draft: ``This guy is going to be - you hope that he's a pillar of your defense for a long time.''
As laughter broke out, he amended the word ``defense'' to ``team,'' as did the official transcript of the event. That was later amended back to ``DEFENSE,'' in bold face.
Still, since the Dolphins continue to negotiate with Jake Long, an offensive tackle from Michigan, the questions immediately started. Had Ireland accidentally betrayed the team's true intentions, given the fact that his boss, Bill Parcells, has a history of taking pass rushers?
Had Ireland ``slipped'' on purpose to confuse opponents? Were the Dolphins truly offering contracts to a bunch of potential picks and waiting to see which one comes in the cheapest?
Who knows.
The only truth is that the mock draft season is too long.
Here is the final one ahead of Saturday's draft:
1. MIAMI. ``I have spent a lot of time with Bill, but he is not going to tell me, and he's definitely not going to tell you all,'' Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said during his media briefing. Newsome thinks the Dolphins will take Chris Long. Another GM, noting Parcells' history for trying to recreate Lawrence Taylor, agreed when the name Vernon Gholston was suggested. VERNON GHOLSTON, DE/LB Ohio State.

2. ST. LOUIS. The Rams were 3-13 last year because everyone got hurt on an offensive line that wasn't very good to start with. JAKE LONG, OT, Michigan.

3. ATLANTA. Despite their claims to independence, mock drafters all look at other mock drafters' mock drafts. Of 1,242 mock drafts surveyed, all but two had the Falcons taking GLENN DORSEY, DT, LSU. That probably means they'll take Matt Ryan, as one prominent mock drafter predicted this week. Coda: Thomas Dimitroff, the new GM, says he's getting offers for the pick, presumably for Dorsey. One potential bidder: New Orleans.

4. OAKLAND. Rumors are that Al Davis and Howie Long were never really close. That doesn't mean Al won't take Howie's son, Chris, to prolong the ``Raiduh'' tradition. CHRIS LONG, DE, Virginia.

5. KANSAS CITY. The Chiefs are in a quandary. They desperately need OL help, but other than Jake Long, the OLs are rated lower. RYAN CLADY, OT, Boise State, may be a reach, but sometimes ``reaches'' work out better than obvious picks.

6. NEW YORK JETS. In this scenario, the Jets take DARREN McFADDEN, RB, Arkansas. In other scenarios, they trade out of here - if they can.

7. NEW ENGLAND. One reason BRANDEN ALBERT, G-T, Virginia, has ``moved up'' in the last week is because word has gotten out that Bill Belichick likes him - strange, because no one is tighter with info than Billy B. Still, Albert played for Bill's old associate Al Groh in college and can upgrade an OL that got run over in the Super Bowl.

8. BALTIMORE. There is a hole at QB and differing opinions on Ryan. There are other needs and QB might be filled with a trade to the late part of the first round for Chad Henne of Michigan, probably the ``hottest'' of the three second-tier QBs. Go with MATT RYAN, QB, Boston College.

9. CINCINNATI. The Bengals make their fans happy by choosing SEDRICK ELLIS, DT, Southern California. Ellis has ``dropped'' a bit in the overanalysis of the last couple of weeks.

10. NEW ORLEANS. If KEITH RIVERS, LB, Southern California, lasts this long, the Saints have to take him, although they can use a cornerback, too. Unless, of course, they trade up for Dorsey.

11. BUFFALO. The Bills may benefit from Malcolm Kelly's bad workouts (and the whining about it by Kelly and his agent). So now Kelly, the tall wideout Buffalo craves, probably will be available now in the second round. Or the third. LEODIS McKELVIN, CB, Troy.

12. DENVER. The Broncos have a pretty mediocre recent draft record. They thought for a long time that Clady would be available. Instead, it's CHRIS WILLIAMS, OT, Vanderbilt.

13, CAROLINA: Jordan Gross is probably in his last season with the Panthers and OTs are disappearing quickly. JEFF OTAH, OT, Pitt.

14. CHICAGO: It's time for the Bears to get help for Cedric Benson - or someone to send him to the bench. RBs are plentiful in the second and third rounds, but RASHARD MENDENHALL, RB, Illinois, is a local kid who was recruited to college by Ron Turner, Chicago's offensive coordinator.

15. DETROIT. The Lions can get a running back later. DL takes priority with another guy who might go higher, DERRICK HARVEY, DE, Florida.

16. ARIZONA. Antrell Rolle is moving to safety. DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE, CB, Tennessee State, is the cousin of last year's NFL interception leader.

17. MINNESOTA. If the Vikings can land Jared Allen from Kansas City before the draft, they either won't have this pick or will use it on PHILIP MERLING, DE, Clemson.

18. HOUSTON. One reason David Carr is now on his third team is that the OL allowed him to get battered during his years as the Texans' QB. So Matt Schaub gets battered while the Texans take MICHAEL JENKINS, CB, South Florida.

19. PHILADELPHIA. Donovan McNabb keeps asking for a gamebreaking receiver. LIMAS SWEED, WR Texas, isn't as fast as he is big.

20. TAMPA BAY. It would not be a shock for the Bucs to trade down for a QB, especially Brian Brohm, who would be the best fit for Jon Gruden's West Coast offense. If they stay here, AQUIB TALIB, CB, Kansas, fits the ``Tampa Two'' zone.

21. WASHINGTON. The Redskins need a pass rusher. CALAIS CAMPBELL, DE, Miami, could have used another year in school, but they seem pretty set on him.

22. DALLAS. Jerry Jones wants an Arkansas running back. FELIX JONES, RB, Arkansas, isn't Darren McFadden but can give the Cowboys what Julius Jones did and perhaps more.

23. PITTSBURGH. The Steelers like to build from the inside out - offensive line to the backfield. GOSDER CHERILUS, OT, Boston College, is about as good a bet as you can get - offensive linemen from BC almost always make it.

24. TENNESSEE. Jeff Fisher made the playoffs last season with defense. DeSEAN JACKSON, WR, California, gives him a certified gamebreaker.

25. SEATTLE. The Seahawks need push in the middle, especially after losing two DTs in free agency. KENTWAN BALMER, DT, North Carolina.

26. JACKSONVILLE. Are Troy Williamson and Jerry Porter really sure things at receiver after problems in Minnesota and Oakland? JAMES HARDY, WR, Indiana, who's almost as tall as Matt Jones but is a real receiver, not a converted QB.

27. SAN DIEGO. Michael Turner is gone to Atlanta and LaDainian Tomlinson is getting battered. JONATHAN STEWART, RB, Oregon, is a premier back with an injury history, which is why he's still here. Also could trade down if someone will give enough to take a second-tier QB.

28. DALLAS. Terence Newman or Anthony Henry always seems to be hurt, which is why guys such as Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers burned the Cowboys at times last year. BRANDON FLOWERS, CB, Virginia Tech.

29. SAN FRANCISCO. The 49ers would be picking seventh but traded their pick to take Joe Staley last year. This is Indianapolis' pick and they use it for JEROD MAYO, LB, Tennessee.

30. GREEN BAY. Maybe it's too late because Brett Favre, who loved to throw to tight ends, isn't around. But it's the same offense for Aaron Rodgers. DUSTIN KELLER, TE, Purdue, although he could be obtained later if they trade down a bit with a team seeking a QB such as Brohm, Michigan's Chad Henne or Delaware's Joe Flacco. Or take a QB themselves.

31. NEW YORK GIANTS. Same situation as the Packers and Chargers: they'll trade down quickly if they can. They seem to like TYRELL JOHNSON, S, Arkansas State, even though Kenny Phillips of Miami is considered the highest-rated safety. Maybe it's the difference in schools. Johnson can probably be had a little later.

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