NFC Pre-Draft Notes

The NFL Draft is set to begin Saturday and attempts to show readers what most NFC teams are most likely to do based on visits and other information.

Arizona Cardinals - Last year at this time first reported the team was going to select CB Antrel Rolle. A team source indicates that the team has LB Ernie Sims as the top choice followed by TE Vernon Davis and S/CB Michael Huff.

The thinking on Sims is that he would replace veteran WLB Orlando Huff who is playing out of position. Head coach Dennis Green indicated this week that Sims only suffered two concussions in his playing career while sources indicate that the number if about six.

Davis would fill a big need as four out of the five tight ends currently on the roster were signed as undrafted free agents and the other, Andy Stokes, was the last pick in the 2005 draft by New England.

Huff could see time in back of veteran S Robert Griffith this season and challenge for the nickel job and then replace the aging Griffith in 2007.

If QB Vince Young fell to them, it's not out of the question that they selected him and let him sit behind veteran QB Kurt Warner for two seasons.

Atlanta Falcons – A league source told this week that the team is looking at selecting a running back, offensive lineman, or cornerback with their first selection in the draft (#47 overall).

The team is looking for the eventual replacement for veteran RB Warrick Dunn and they don't seem to believe it's fifth-year RB T.J. Duckett who is more of a straight line runner.

Carolina Panthers – A league source believes team will select either a running back or weak side linebacker with their first-round draft choice.

It's believed the running backs that the team will consider are LenDale White and Joseph Addai.

It's believed the team will strongly consider OLB DeMeco Ryans should he still be on the board.

Chicago Bears – Most team observers note that the club will select a tight end with their first round selection. It's believed that they have Marcedes Lewis ranked higher than Leonard Pope on their draft board.

Another possibility is to select a safety who would be seen as an upgrade over second-year FS Chris Harris who didn't play well, according to a league source, during their playoff game against Carolina.

Dallas Cowboys - According to a league source, the club has their eyes on OL Charles Spencer with their second-round pick (#49). Spencer is expected to be off the board in the early to mid portion of that round. Spencer is projected to play guard at the next level though he played left tackle last season. Spencer is seen as the eventual replacement for veteran G Marco Rivera.

With their first round selection, it's believed they're looking at picking an outside linebacker.

Detroit Lions – While many fans and draft experts believe the team will select CB-S Michael Huff with their first-round selection, a league source indicated a possible selection could be LB Ernie Sims who is a great fit for head coach Rod Marinelli's defensive scheme. However, Sims has been taken off of many teams draft boards due to repeated concussion issues suffered in his collegiate career.

Another possibility is DT Brodrick Bunkley who could fill a need with veteran DT Dan Wilkinson's' career up in the air. However, the team seems confident that second-year DT Shaun Cody will be able to take over the job.

Green Bay Packers – Various league sources believe the team will do one of two things in the first round—select TE Vernon Davis or LB A.J. Hawk or trade down for as many extra selections as possible.

The team is looking for more offensive weapons and Davis is viewed as an immediate impact player who is more of a moving "chess piece" according to a league source.

Hawk would be an immediate starter (likely on the weak side).

Minnesota Vikings – As noted several weeks ago, the team is still very interested in selecting QB Jay Cutler with their first-round selection. Cutler is seen as a perfect fit for head coach Brad Childress's West Coast offense. Should the team lose out on Cutler, a quarterback thought to be under consideration later on is Kellen Clemens who has been rising on most draft boards after performing well in private workouts.

Other players thought to be under consideration with their first-round selection are LB Ernie Sims, CB Antonio Cromartie, CB-S Jason Allen, and LB Chad Greenway. All of those players except Sims visited with the team.

Later in the draft, the club may have their eye on TE Owen Daniels who is seen as a very good fit for the Viking offense. Owens, who visited the team earlier this month, has been rising on draft boards after good post-season workouts. He's seen as a fourth-round selection by many teams.

New Orleans Saints – A league source told this week that the team has no interest in selecting a quarterback and Matt Leinart's visit was just to make one the teams behind them believe they were looking at selecting a quarterback.

The source also indicated the team is leaning toward selecting OT D'Brickshaw Ferguson over DE Mario Williams barring a chance of heart. Selecting Ferguson would mean the team threw a smoke screen out at their first minicamp when they had second-year RT Jammal Brown move over to left tackle.

New York Giants – With veteran LB LaVar Arrington added to the mix, selecting a linebacker is no longer a priority for the team making a cornerback the strongest possibility in round one. If the team decided to trade down later in the round or to the second round, then selecting a defensive tackle is a possibility.

The other possibility in round one is selecting a running back who would be viewed as the eventual successor to Tiki Barber. A team source indicates that the team has RB Laurence Maroney higher on their draft board than DeAngelo Williams.

Should one of the top two receivers fall to them, don't be surprised if they take the player as they have a need for a young developmental receiver.

Philadelphia Eagles – A league source believes the team most likely will trade their selection in the first round and select C Nick Mangold.

However, if they stay at #14, LB Chad Greenway is a strong possibility. Greenway would be the seen as the eventual replacement for veteran SLB Dhani Jones who struggled last season.

While the team visited extensively with OT Winston Justice, questions remain whether the team is really comfortable with his off the field issues. However, publicly, the team seems to be satisfied with him according to the LA Daily News.

"People told me he was shooting people and I'm going, `That's not a good thing,' " Eagles coach Andy Reid said after meeting with Justice. "So I talked to the kid. He says, `I had rubber bullets and we were playing,' which is what my kids do, they shoot each other with little air guns and rubber bullets. That's different than blowing someone's head off.

"I came out with a different perception than I went in with. You come out of there, and the people we talked to, (with the impression) that he's a pretty good kid."

Should the team select Justice, he would project to take over the starting left tackle job eventually for the aging Tra Thomas.

While there have been reports of the team trading up for DT Haloti Ngata, a league source told this week that DT Brodrick Bunkley is a much better fit for defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's scheme. Johnson likes quick, athletic defenders that can get a rush up field and Bunkley fits that bill rather well.

A sleeper selection with their first-round pick is WR Chad Jackson who impressed the club with his combine workout and they are said to be very impressed with his speed.

Second-round possibilities are WR Maurice Stovall and OL Charles Spencer who impressed offensive line coach Juan Castillo during Senior Bowl week practices, game tape, and private workouts.

As was first to report, the club worked out (quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur) Yale QB Jeff Mroz on Tuesday who is seen as a A.J. Feeley type of player. That means he's a player who was overlooked by scouts and was a late round selection but has a strong arm and ability. The Eagles took a chance on Feeley in the fifth round of the 2001 draft and developed him well enough that he was able to yield a second-round pick from Miami in a trade in 2004. Mroz is seen as a seventh-round selection by most NFL talent evaluators.

San Francisco 49ers – While many fans and the media continue to speculate that the team will select TE Vernon Davis with their first-round pick, a league source indicates that the team would select LB A.J. Hawk if Green Bay passes him up.

The team certainly wants to help second-year QB Alex Smith as much as they can by adding talent around him but they think they can close games if the defense improves. Hawk is capable of playing inside or outside but currently the team has two seldom-used linebackers running with the first team defense outside.

Should OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson surprisingly fall to them, he would be selected, as he's higher on their draft board according to a league source.

It's expected the team will look at a cornerback or linebacker with their other selection in the first round.

Seattle Seahawks – A team source indicated this week that Seattle is likely to select either a cornerback or defensive end with their first round selection. While cornerback is a bigger need, they really only have two solid ends on the roster and little quality depth at the position. The team also is still interested in signing UFA CB Ty Law.

In the second or third round, look for the team to select a guard as they have next to no depth at either spot.

St. Louis Rams – A league source told this week that the team is strongly considering selecting LB Chad Greenway with their first-round selection.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is very high on him and Greenway could be the eventually replacement for aging WLB Dexter Coakley.

The player that makes the most sense for them is DT Brodrick Bunkley but it's expected that he won't be there when they select.

Rumors are rampant that the team is considering selecting QB Jay Cutler but most league sources believe that the Rams are trying to get the Vikings to think they want him to create more value for the selection. However, a league source told this week that the Vikings aren't likely to trade up that far, if at all for Cutler.

The team could also trade down to select a cornerback which is a position they're looking to upgrade.

Washington Redskins – A league source told this week that though the team spent a lot of time last week with University of Connecticut TE Ed Nelson at his workout, he likely won't drafted or signed by the Redskins.

Draft wise, head coach Joe Gibbs indicated earlier this week that the cost of moving up in to the first round might be too high and they're more likely to stay where they are (#53). The team really doesn't have any glaring needs but quality depth is an issue at defensive end (pass rusher), weak side linebacker (upgrade possibly), and cornerback (younger nickel back).

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