NFL draft: Much faster first round than in past

NEW YORK - Forget the intrigue at the top of the draft. The NFL invited a half-dozen players to the draft Saturday, and they went in the first six picks.

Then things went a bit crazy.

From Michigan tackle Jake Long, who already had signed with the Miami Dolphins, to defensive end/linebacker Vernon Gholston going sixth to the New York Jets, there was an air of predictability to the proceedings. Unlike last year, when Notre Dame's Brady Quinn had to wait hours to be chosen, the players on-hand hit the Radio City Music Hall stage quickly.

'It's great to see the green room empty,' said Virginia defensive end Chris Long, who went second to St. Louis.

'It's a blessing to be here, they only ask six guys to come,' Gholston added. 'Funny how it worked out, teams made good selections.'

After St. Louis took the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long, Matt Ryan of Boston College, who could solve the quarterback problems in Atlanta, went to the Falcons.

Following a long-standing tradition, Oakland went for the gamebreaker in Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, prompting the fans to boo loudly. Many wanted the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up to fall to the New York Jets at No. 6.

All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey of national champion LSU was taken fifth overall by the Chiefs. Dorsey patted his heart as he held up a No. 1 Chiefs red jersey that was so small he, frankly, could never fit into it.

The Jets wound up with Gholston of Ohio State, who must now learn to play in the 3-4 alignment the team prefers.

'I'm looking forward to going up against Jake Long twice a year,' he said of what will be a revival of their Big Ten rivalry.

At the seventh overall spot, the bartering began. Eight of the next 15 picks were involved in trades.

New Orleans moved up to No. 7 to get defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis of Southern California, who was recruited to the school by the Saints' new defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron. New Orleans gave up the No. 10 overall spot to New England, and its third-round slot, and got a fifth-rounder along with the chance to take Ellis.

Then Jacksonville moved up from 26th overall to eighth, where it grabbed Florida DE Derrick Harvey. The Jaguars gave the Ravens four picks to get to that spot.

Everything moved at a good pace after the NFL cut the first round from 15 minutes per pick to 10. The first round took 3 hours, 30 minutes, a significant improvement over the five-hour marathons of previous years.

The Dolphins used only a few seconds to hand in their card. The Rams and Falcons didn't take much longer, but the Raiders used almost their entire time, as did Kansas City.

Jake Long became the first top overall pick from Michigan since Tom Harmon in 1941. He was accompanied by several family members onstage as he donned a Dolphins hat.

SideBar: Top picks

The top 10 selections in the 2008 NFL draft:

1. Miami, Jake Long, OT, Michigan

2. St. Louis, Chris Long, DE, Virginia

3. Atlanta, Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

4. Oakland, Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

5. Kansas City, Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

6. New York Jets, Vernon Gholston, LB, Ohio State

7. New Orleans (from San Francisco though New England), Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern California

8. Jacksonville (from Baltimore), Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

9. Cincinnati, Keith Rivers, LB, Southern California

10. New England (from New Orleans), Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee