Long Time Coming

By Adam Caparell - April 24, 2008

NEW YORK - When Miami signed Jake Long to a $57 million contract earlier this week, the Dolphins put to bed any suspense and intrigue as to who the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft would be. And for at least one other big name expected to be among the top selections in Saturday's first round, the news of Long's pact was a bit of a disappointment.

"Every athlete wants to be the first guy," LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said.

But only one, of course, gets the honor and when Bill Parcells, Miami's new executive vice president of football operations, takes you with the first pick in the draft you know you must be pretty good. Parcells has had the chance to select first overall on several occasions during his time in the NFL. He's taken a quarterback (Drew Bledsoe) No. 1 with the Patriots and when he was with the Jets Parcells traded out of the top spot. That was 1997 when St. Louis took Orlando Pace with the No. 1 selection, the last tackle to be taken with the top pick.

So Long is quite prideful knowing how highly Parcells thinks of him.

"To know that he feels that way about me is very special," Long said.

And with Long already under contract, the Dolphins don't have to worry about a JaMarcus Russell-like holdout from their No. 1 pick. Last year's top choice by the Oakland Raiders held out throughout training camp and it really hurt his development during the season. The Dolphins, and Long, can rest assured knowing he'll be there in a few weeks for the team's first minicamps and again when training camps open in July.

"It's a huge relief," Long said. "All that is out of the way so I can just go in and play football."

But before that, he gets to live out a childhood fantasy when he hears his named called by commissioner Roger Goodell Saturday in Radio City Music Hall.

"It's going to be electric. I've watched the draft my entire life and to be able to walk onto that stage and hold up that jersey is going to be a dream come true," Long said. "I'm very excited."

Long, who spent the past two seasons anchoring the Michigan line at the left tackle position, could see himself slotted as the Dolphins right tackle. But Long spent his first two seasons with the Wolverines on the right side so he's comfortable at either position. Left side, right side, Long couldn't care less.

"It honestly doesn't matter," Long said. "I started two years on the right side and my last two years were on the left so I've made the transition before. I feel comfortable on both sides."

Much Ado About Nothing: You remember that knee injury Dorsey suffered against Alabama that caused him to miss portions of several LSU games and had him hobbled during the rest of the regular season? Well, it's completely healed now and Dorsey said that the issues with the knee have rarely been brought up when he met with teams.

"My knee is fine," Dorsey said. "The teams weren't too concerned about my knee. The media came out and started that up. I don't know if I look hurt to anybody, but no team has come out and said 'We're worried about your knee.' There's not an issue with me. I don't know where that came from."

As for where Dorsey ends up in the draft, he doesn't care. But he also wouldn't mind ending up with the Saints, the team he grew up rooting for in Louisiana.

"That would be amazing. i grew up wanting to play in the Superdome," Dorsey said. "You can't predict what's going to happen and I'll be thankful and grateful for any team that drafts me, but the Saints would be great."

For that to happen, the Saints would almost assuredly have to trade up into the top 6 to even think about landing Dorsey. The Saints own the No. 10 selection this year, but Dorsey could be off the board by pick No. 3 to the Atlanta Falcons.

'08 Predictions: Dorsey thinks the defending national champions should be the preseason No. 1 team.

"I feel like we have a great team coming back," Dorsey said. "We have a lot of young guys waiting in the wings, ready to step up and play big time football."

"Are they as good as you," NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk immediately asked Dorsey.

"Um, possibly," Dorsey joked.

There's been a lot of change with Michigan after Rich Rodriguez was hired and immediately installed his spread offense. And while Jake Long has been busy preparing for the NFL Draft, he has kept some tabs on his former team and teammates.

"I haven't talked to them much, but I think they're very excited," Long said. "I think at first it was hard to adapt to the change, but I think everyone is starting to adapt to it. They're getting very excited about what he's doing and he's going to do good things."

"He brings a different style of football to Michigan," Long said, slyly.

Vernon Gholston expects his Buckeyes to be among the nation's best, yet again.

"I think they're going to be great," Gholston said. "Obviously they lost me, but they've got guys better than me there anyway. They're going to be reloaded and they'll get back to the national championship game this year and win it."

Posted by Adam Caparell at 01:24 PM on April 24, 2008

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