Rising Stocks and Two-Round Mocks...

"Fortunately for the ‘Hawks, this year's Draft is stocked with RB talent. Texas' Cedric Benson and Auburn's duo of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown are almost certain to be off the board in Round 1, but that doesn't mean Seattle won't have a shot at one in Round 2."

There are a few questions this week, so we’ll get right to ‘em.

Who are the top 10 centers in the Draft, not including Juniors? - John

Because they’re usually not taken very high in the Draft, I usually don’t spend too much time on Centers. The big two this year are LSU’s Ben Wilkerson and Oklahoma’s Vince Carter. Both are very solid players, but I like Wilkerson a bit more because he has a bit more size and has played in a better conference. However, Wilkerson was injured late this season and it will certainly affect his Draft status. If he can show that he’s completely healed and can be ready by training camp, Wilkerson could go in Round 2, otherwise expect him to go in Round 3. Carter will have trouble with bigger DT’s and NT’s in the NFL, and must gain weight (only 280 pounds) and strength. Expect him to be taken late in Round 3 or on Day 2.

Others to keep your eye on . . .

Jason Brown, North Carolina. Brown is making noise and could be a surprise pick this year.

Chris Spencer, Ole Miss. Probably a Round 4 guy right now, but the potential to go higher.

What are the chances Seattle will pick a running back in Round 1 if Shaun Alexander leaves or is traded? Who will Seattle look at? -
Will, Medical Lake, WA

Without a GM firmly in place, things are definitely up in the air. However, if Alexander isn’t back in ‘05 I don’t see Seattle taking a RB in Round 1 simply because I believe they’ll make a big effort to add playmakers to their defense. While some fans don’t believe backup RB Mo Morris can carry the load for an entire season, he may not have to. If Seattle’s without a talented RB like Alexander, expect Mike Holmgren to put the ball in the air and give Maurice Morris 10-15 carries a game. Team officials are also high on #3 RB Kerry Carter, who has a ton of potential and has the size to get a ton of carries. It may just be a RB by committee approach if Seattle’s unable to bring in a veteran RB that can carry the load.

Fortunately for the ‘Hawks, this year’s Draft is stocked with RB talent. Texas’ Cedric Benson and Auburn’s duo of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown are almost certain to be off the board in Round 1, but that doesn’t mean Seattle wont have a shot at one in Round 2. Two of my favorites are Florida’s Ciatrick Fason and Oklahoma State’s Vernand Morency. Both have outstanding speed, can catch the ball out of the backfield and can block. In Round 3, RB’s like Louisville’s Lional Gates and Syracuse’s Walter Reyes will also get looks.

Mike Holmgren hinted that he may add more WR talent if things the drops continue. Who’s out there? -
Gabe, Seattle, WA

Good question. Drops by Seattle’s receivers have been absolutely horrendous the past two years and little has been done to remedy the situation. Because of Darrell Jackson’s newly signed contract, there’s no way Seattle moves him because the salary cap hit will be too much to handle. And, as much as some fans wont admit it, Jackson’s still our best WR. Koren Robinson’s in the last year of his rookie contract and also wont be moved because of salary cap implications. Besides, Holmgren apparently has some kind of soft-spot for him and probably wouldn’t move him anyway. I think it’s safe to say that despite their often case of “the dropsies”, both Jackson and Robinson will be back.

The ‘Hawks will have trouble enough re-signing their own Free Agents this year, so don’t expect them to make pitches at Oakland’s Jerry Porter or Carolina’s Mushin Muhammad. The Draft may be their only option, but pickings this year are very slim. Michigan’s Braylon Edwards, USC’s Mike Williams and South Carolina’s Troy Williamson will almost certainly be gone by the time Seattle’s picking in Round 1.

It’s doubtful they’d draft a receiver anyway for reasons already mentioned, but Round 2 or 3 may be a possibility. Oklahoma’s Mark Clayton or Miami’s Roscoe Parrish would be very intriguing because of their return skills and run-after-catch ability. If Seattle’s looking for some size, Georgia’s Fred Gibson or West Virginia’s Chris Henry are both 6'4" and at times look like legit #1 receivers. Both, however, have issues. Henry’s known as an immature kid (Koren Robinson, anyone?) and Gibson’s hears footsteps over the middle. I doubt the ‘Hawks would target either of these two, but I’ve been wrong before, so you never know.

Two guys I really like are Texas A&M’s Terrance Murphy and Florida State’s Craphonso Thorpe. Both have legit 4.4 speed and can stretch the field. Thorpe was injured last year, but is finally coming on strong and is a Day 1 pick. Both are looking like Round 2 guys right now.

Others to keep an eye on . . .

Reggie Brown, Georgia Round 3
Steve Savoy, Utah Round 3
Charles Frederick, Washington Round 4
Geoff McArthur, Cal Round 4
Larry Brackins, Pearl River (Miss) Round 4

Thanks for writing in, everyone. Any other questions can be sent to rlrigmaiden@hotmail.com


Throughout the offseason, players will move up and down Draft boards depending on how they do in All Star games, the NFL Combine and each player’s private workout, usually held at their respective campuses. Here’s a list of players that are rising and falling.

Shawn Merriman, OLB/DE Maryland.

Stock- Rising

NFL Comparison- Joey Porter, OLB Pittsburgh

Hybrid prospect is one of the best pure pass rushers in the Draft. Merriman played DE in ‘04, but saw time at OLB in previous years. Merriman’s similar to John Abraham and Julian Peterson when they left school. He’d be a perfect fit as a 3-4 OLB, but could be a solid speed rusher as a DE in a 4-3 defense.

Brandon Browner, CB Oregon State

Stock- Rising

NFL Comparison- Chris Gamble, Carolina

Huge DB (6'4" 200) has unlimited potential. Unlike most bigger CB’s, Browner is just as agile as average-sized CB’s. He breaks on the ball well and has solid hands. If Browner has solid workouts, as expected, look for him to be the 3rd CB taken this year.

Kyle Orton, QB Purdue

Stock- Falling

NFL Comparison- Drew Brees, San Diego

Like Brees, questions surround Orton as he leaves Purdue. Playing in an offense that sometime throws fifty times a game tends to inflate QB numbers, raising questions about how effective he may be in a more traditional offense. Added to which, Orton didn’t look very good at the East West Shrine game, showing uncertainty behind center (he played in a shotgun offense at Purdue) and showing poor mechanics on delivery. Orton still has time to move back up boards, but right now he’s getting Round 3 grades.

Donte Nicholson, S Oklahoma

Stock- Falling

NFL Comparison- Bracey Walker, Detroit

After USC, and particularly QB Matt Leinhart, picked apart Oklahoma’s defense in the Orange Bowl, many of OU’s supposedly standout defenders took a hit. Nicholson is right in that bunch. Though he has talent, Nicholson is way too inconsistent to get a Round 1 grade at this time. But he’s still a talented kid and will have a few months to increase his stock.

Other players expected to shoot up boards due to their pure athleticism and workout numbers:

Adam “Pac Man” Jones, CB West Virginia
Troy Williamson, WR South Carolina
Thomas Davis, S/OLB Georgia
Elton Brown, G Virginia
Robert McCune, ILB Louisville
Kevin Burnett, OLB Tennessee
Antonio Perkins, CB Oklahoma
Michael Boley, OLB Souther Miss
DeMarcus Ware, DE Troy State

Mock Draft

1. San Francisco- Aaron Rogers, QB Cal

With their entire franchise in turmoil, the Niners will look to add a franchise QB to turn things around. However, with so many holes along their roster, look for San Francisco to try and trade down.

2. Miami- Cedric Benson, RB Texas

No team loses more by USC QB Matt Leinhart staying in school than the Dolphins, who would’ve had the opportunity of taking one of the top-2 QB’s (Leinhart and Rogers) with the 2nd overall pick. Expect the Dolphins to take a long look at Benson, this year’s best overall RB. Unless they become enamored with Utah QB Alex Smith or get a very good trade down offer, Benson should be the pick here.

3. Cleveland- Derrick Johnson, OLB Texas

The Browns have a serious lack of talent along their LB unit. Johnson, who’s one of the best all-around LB’s to come out in a decade, is an immediate upgrade and will provide the Browns with a legitimate Pro Bowl player for an underachieving defense.

4. Chicago- Braylon Edwards, WR Michigan

Perhaps no team needs receiver help more than the Bears, who busted on former Round 1 pick David Terrell and traded their best receiver, Marty Booker, to the Dolphins last year. If the Bears are ever going to execute the kind of explosive passing game they want to, Edwards must be the pick here. He’s big, fast, physical and will be Chicago’s best receiver from the moment he’s drafted.

5. Tampa Bay- Alex Barron, OT Florida State

Passing up on a franchise OT will be too hard for head coach Jon Gruden, especially after the constant shuffling his O-line’s done the past two years. Barron, who’s been earning Round 1 grades for the past two years, is the best offensive lineman in the class and has the talent to start immediately, at left or right tackle.

6. Tennessee- Antrel Rolle, CB Miami

Another Rolle for the Titans’ secondary? Maybe. Rolle’s stats have dropped as a Senior because teams have been throwing away from him all year. With solid size, speed and superior instincts, Rolle should play a significant role in a secondary that’s struggled with injuries and inconsistency. CB Andre Dyson’s free agent status also makes this an attractive pick.

7. Oakland- Cadillac Williams, RB Auburn

The Raiders have plenty of holes, but adding a premier talent to run the ball is at the top of the list. Williams, who is as shifty as they come, has had a very solid career at Auburn and is the best RB on the board. While he’s had nagging injuries throughout his career, he stayed relatively healthy as a Senior and is one of the most athletic players in this Draft.

8. Arizona- Alex Smith, QB Utah

For the most part, consider the Josh McCown project over at QB for the Cardinals. Head coach Dennis Green benched McCown twice in favor of washed up veterans and even a 6th Round draft pick last year. Obviously in search of a QB, Green could pull the trigger on Smith, who’s lead one of the most prolific college offenses to greatness the past two years. While Smith has good intangibles, his intelligence and leadership are what have scouts talking.

9. Washington- Erasmus James, DE Wisconsin

James came on strong this year after an injury-plagued Junior season last year. James has the size (6'4" 265) and speed to get consistent pressure on the QB, but is also a force against the run. Expect the Redskins to address their anemic pass rush in later rounds as well.

10. Detroit- Thomas Davis, S Georgia

This may be a bit of a reach for Davis, but the long-term potential for this kid is just too good to pass up. Davis is a solid 6'1" 220 and has speed to make plays all over the field. He’s still a bit raw, but his pure athleticism will help him overcome some of his mental mistakes.

11. Dallas- Mike Williams, WR USC

The Cowboys have bigger needs than WR, but Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn are over 30 and aren’t the players they once were. If young QB Drew Henson’s every going to mature, he’s going to need some talent around him. Enter Williams, who’s 6'5" 225 size and sticky hands will make him one of the best targets in the NFL.

12. San Diego (from New York Giants)- Dan Cody, DE Oklahoma

This year’s Cinderella story played above and beyond any expectations anyone had for them this year and due to last year’s Draft day trade with the Giants, the Chargers should only be better next year with an additional Round 1 pick. Cody, who can play as a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB, is a great fit for SD’s defense because of his added flexibility and pass rushing ability.

13. Houston- Shawne Merriman, OLB Maryland

Finishing last in sacks is never a positive thing, so despite the fact that Houston took a pass rusher in Round 1 last year (Jason Babin), adding Merriman is a nice move. If Merriman works out as well as some scouts think he will, Merriman could be gone by this pick. However, if he’s on the board, look for the Texans to call his name from the podium.

14. Carolina- Heath Miller, TE Virginia

TE definitely isn’t the biggest need for the Panthers, but they’re not about to reach on an O-lineman with this pick. Miller’s easily the best TE in the class, being equally adept at blocking as making plays downfield. He doesn’t have the speed of recent Round 1 TE’s, but he’s definitely the most well-rounded and will improve Carolina’s flexibility on offense.

15. Kansas City- Adam “Pac Man” Jones, CB West Virginia

As good as KC’s offense is at putting points on the board, their defense is equally good at letting opposing teams do the same. This is a defense in need of major improvement across the board and we can expect them to select the best player available. Jones isn’t the biggest CB on the board (5'10"), but he’s extremely quick, has impressive agility and is probably the best pure cover CB in the class.

16. New Orleans- Travis Johnson, DT Florida State

If Johnson’s anything like fellow FSU DT and 2004 Round 3 Draft pick, Darnell Dockett, the Saints will be very happy. Like Dockett, Johnson’s a penetrating DT that creates havoc in backfields by using pure speed and agility. The only knock on Johnson is his lack of elite size, but he’s plenty big enough to contribute, especially considering the Saints’ lack of talent at the position.

17. Cincinnati- David Pollack, DE Georgia

One of the best players in college football the past two years, Pollack put on a clinic again this year, racking up sacks and making plays behind the line-of-scrimmage on a weekly basis. He’s a pure football player that won't amaze anyone with dazzling 40 times or bench presses, but somehow will get it done. The Bengals have been searching for a compliment to DE Justin Smith and now may have found him.

18. Minnesota- Marlin Jackson, CB Michigan

For all the defensive talent the Vikings have brought in recently, they sure aren’t getting the kind of results they’d hoped for. Jackson’s played CB and S for the Wolverines, but is better suited for CB duty in the NFL. He’s got size (6'0" 195) and enough speed to be a starter in the NFL. If Jackson can be more consistent, he could give the Vikes a very solid CB duo for the next five years.

19. St. Louis- Jammal Brown, OT Oklahoma

Their offensive line has been a shaky unit the past year because of RT Kyle Turley’s neck injury and inconsistencies at other positions. Turley is rumored to be almost 50 pounds underweight because he hasn’t been able to work out, creating the need for some new blood. Brown has the size, footwork and ability to keep pass rushers at a distance with his impressive wingspan. He’s not the best run blocker in the Draft, but because he’s so good in pass protection, expect the Rams to take a long look at him.

20. Dallas (from Buffalo)- Brandon Browner, CB Oregon State

Huge CB (6'4" 200) may have been a top-5 pick if he’d stayed in school for another year, but Dallas isn’t complaining. After going through a rash of injuries in the secondary last year, don’t expect owner Jerry Jones to go through that again. Browner has elite potential and should see a significant time as a rookie. With impressive workouts, Browner may even go in the top-15.

21. Jacksonville- Matt Roth, DE Iowa

Another high-motor DE that gets results from determination and hustle, Roth has been a force this year at Iowa. He’s a solid upfield pass rusher that has a nice first step and is relentless from snap-to-whistle. Expect the Jags to pursue a veteran pass rusher in Free Agency as well.

22. Baltimore- Troy Williamson, WR South Carolina

Extremely fast and quick, Williamson also has 6'2" 200 size. He has solid hands, can return punts and fills a position of need for the Ravens, who might lack more talent at WR than any other team in the league.

23. Seattle- Channing Crowder, ILB Florida

Improving the front seven is a major priority for the ‘Hawks this year. After enduring a plethora of injuries across their LB unit and having a revolving door at MLB for the past few years, Crowder could help solve both. Possessing NFL size and speed, Crowder looks the part. He’s been nicked up this year, but Crowder has the talent to be a force in the NFL.

24. Green Bay- Rodrique Wright, DT Texas

The Packer defense needs a serious influx in talent or they’re not going to be able to stop anybody. DT Grady Jackson is a force, but he’s constantly injured and isn’t the youngest guy on the field. Wright, who has 335 pounds to clog the middle with, should be able to be a factor in the running game.

25. Denver- Marcus Spears, DE LSU

In desperate need for a pass rush, the Broncos may look to Spears, who’s one of the most impressive 295 pound DE’s I’ve ever seen. Spears dominated opponents at LSU, using his surprising quickness and solid strength to make plays vs. the run and pass. Spears wont every be a 12-sack guy, but he can play every position along the D-line and is a nice pick this late in the first frame.

26. New York Jets- Carlos Rogers, CB Auburn

The Jets are still looking for help at CB and Rogers, 2004's Thorpe Award winner may be their guy. Rogers is a solid 5'11" 195 and has legit 4.4 speed. He is equally good at man and zone coverage and is capable of starting as a rookie.

27. Atlanta- Elton Brown, G Virginia

Guard isn’t the biggest position of need for the Falcons, but Brown may be the talented player on the board. He has amazing size 6'4" 335, but what’s most amazing about him is his agility and ability to pull and reach the 2nd tier in the defense. There’s no better offensive lineman in the Draft that can get downfield faster than Brown.

28. San Diego- Mark Clayton, WR Oklahoma

Clayton has slipped a bit due to his lack of elite size (5'11" 200), but his playmaking skills, hands and ability to make people miss are first rate. Despite the acquisition of WR Keenan McCardell, San Diego still needs more playmakers at WR. Getting Clayton here wouldn’t be a bad idea.

29. Indianapolis- Shaun Cody, DT USC

Indy’s defense is getting better, but they’re still not capable of shutting opponents down when they have to. Cody’s been a very solid DT for the Trojans, displaying the strength and quickness necessary to be a starter at the next level. Expect him to see time immediately.

30. Pittsburgh- Corey Webster, CB LSU

If this kid’s still on the board at this pick, the Steelers may be the luckiest team in the league. Webster’s had an off year because he’s played with injury, but don’t let his performance fool you. At 6'0" 200 and with solid speed, Webster’s one of the best CB’s in this class. He can play man, zone and is a solid tackler. Adding Webster to young standouts S Troy Polamalu and CB Ricardo Coclough would be a very nice move.

31. Philadelphia- Ronnie Brown, RB Auburn

I’m guaranteeing that Brown will not be on the board when the 31st pick comes along, but I just can’t find a spot for him before now. However, some team will trade up for him and they’ll be very happy they did. Brown’s my #1 RB on the board because he does everything well. He’s big, fast enough and can catch the ball out of the backfield and pick up the blitz in pass protection. Philly’s RB’s are constantly battling injuries and would love a ‘back like Brown.

32. New England- Justin Miller, CB Clemson

When you’re converting solid WR’s into nickel CB’s, you know you’re in trouble. The Patriots suffered a mess of injuries this year and you can expect them to remedy that situation. Miller’s a solid young CB that would be an immediate injection of youth and talent on a team that desperately needs it.

Round 2

33. San Francisco- Craphonso Thorpe, WR Florida State
34. Philadelphia (from Miami)- Antajj Hawthorne, DT Wisconsin
35. Cleveland- Jamaal Brimmer, S UNLV
36. Chicago- Odell Thurman, LB Georgia
37. Tampa Bay- Ciatrick Fason, RB Florida
38. Tennessee- Adam Terry, OT Syracuse
39. Oakland- Daryl Blackstock, OLB Virginia
40. Arizona- Bryant McFadden, CB Florida State
41. Washington- Chris Henry, WR West Virginia
42. Detroit- Brodney Poole, S Oklahoma
43. Dallas- Chris Canty, DE Virginia
44. New York Giants- Roddy White, WR UAB
45. Houston- David Baas, G/C Michigan
46. Carolina- Chris Colmer, OT N.C. State
47. Kansas City- Kevin Burnett, OLB Tennessee
48. New Orleans- Jason Allen, S Tennessee
49. Cincinnati- Mike Patterson, DT USC
50. Minnesota- Marcus Johnson, G/T Ole Miss
51. St. Louis- Antonio Perkins, CB Oklahoma
52. Buffalo- Barrett Ruud, ILB Nebraska
53. Jacksonville- Ernest Shazor, S/OLB Michigan
54. Baltimore- Fred Gibson, WR Georgia
55. Seattle- Vernand Morency, RB Oklahoma State
56. Green Bay- Charlie Frye, QB Akron
57. Denver- Alex Smith, TE Stanford
58. New York Jets- Donte Nicholson, S Oklahoma
59. Atlanta- Fabian Washington, CB Nebraska
60. San Diego- DeMarcus Ware, OLB/DE Troy State
61. Indianapolis- Michael Boley, OLB Southern Miss
62. Pittsburgh- Joel Dreesen, TE Colorado State
63. Philadelphia- Andrew Walter, QB ASU
64. New England- Vincent Fuller, CB/S Virginia Tech

Any question or comments can be sent to rlrigmaiden@hotmail.com. Thanks for taking the time to write in.


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