Draft Notebook, Vol. 1

Swerb kicks off his look at the draft with this week's notebook...

Just as I have the past couple of seasons, I will continuing on with my Draft Notebook as we lead up to draft day.  This first volume of the 2004 edition contains my first attempt at a mock draft, which I will be sure to tinker with and change probably about twenty times between now and Saturday, April the 24th.  In addition, I will try and provide game tape analysis of some of the all-star games like the Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.

The main question being asked by Browns fans off the heels of their most impressive defeat of the Bengals this past Sunday is whether or not that victory cost them their opportunity to land the franchise offensive tackle the team has been lacking for so long.  While at first I was convinced that it did, closer inspection shows that the chances of them still being able to acquire Robert Gallery…or even Shawn Andrews appears pretty solid.

Without further adieu, here is Volume One of my draft notebook:

  1. Arizona Cardinals (trade with San Diego):  QB Eli Manning, Mississippi-Eli, like his brother Peyton, appears to be a very safe investment with a low probability of being the next Ryan Leaf based on genetics alone.  Some feel Eli is the more naturally talented of the Manning brothers, and I think he goes #1 overall either to San Diego, or someone who trades up with them to get this pick.
  2. Oakland Raiders:  QB Ben Roethlisberger, Miami OH-Big and strong with an accurate arm, Roethlisberger just has that Raider look to him.  It will be interesting to see if the Raiders go after their QB of the future here, or pass that torch to Marques Tuiasasopo and go after Larry Fitzgerald or Roy Williams.
  3. San Diego Chargers:  WR Larry Fitzgerald, Pitt-Assuming Larry Fitz is allowed to enter the draft, which I think he will, he is assured of being a top ten selection.  Added to LaDanian Tomlinson, he would give the Chargers two of the most talented young offensive players in all of football.  The Chargers could also look to Sean Taylor to help out their league worst pass defense, but remember, they used their first three selections on defensive backs a year ago.
  4. New York Giants:  S Sean Taylor, Miami Fla.-The impact that Roy Williams and Ed Reed have had combined with the Giants woes in the secondary make Taylor the pick here for the Giants over the two highest rated offensive linemen.  Taylor can immediately be plugged in as a starter and be counted on to be a top safety in this league.
  5. Washington Redskins:  DT Vince Wilfork, Miami Fla.-Wilfork is an absolute beast that clogs the middle and can also get to the passer.  He would make everyone else in the Washington front seven better defensive players.  I feel the Redskins will hope for Taylor to slip here, but if not, will take Wilfork.
  6. Detroit Lions:  RB Steven Jackson, Oregon St-The Lions running game has been one of the leagues most pathetic since Barry Sanders retired.  In Jackson, they get an ideal back for the west coast offense, as he has great hands out of the backfield in addition to being a powerful slasher as a runner.
  7. Cleveland Browns:  OT Robert Gallery, Iowa-The Browns win the coin flip with Atlanta again, and finally land the franchise left tackle we have been looking for since Tony Jones was in his prime in the early nineties.  Gallery will team with Jeff Faine and Ryan Tucker to form the nucleus of what will hopefully be a vastly improved Browns offensive line in 2004.
  8. Atlanta Falcons:  OT Shawn Andrews, Arkansas-Knowing Cleveland will target Gallery, Atlanta isn't all that upset about losing the coin flip and going with Shawn Andrews, the massive right tackle that will protect lefty QB Michael Vick's blindside and also make Duckett, Dunn, Griffith, and Vick more productive in the running game.
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars:  WR Roy Williams, Texas-Jacksonville gets another gift when Roy Williams slips to them at #9 just a year after Byron Leftwich fell to them at #7.  In other years, Williams may have been the top pick of the draft…but the presence of Larry Fitzgerald and the needs of the teams ahead of them make this possible.  Leftwich and Williams will be one of the funnest QB/WR combos to watch play for many years to come.
  10. Houston Texans:  DT Tommie Harris, Oklahoma-Sitting at #10, the Texans know that one of the four big linemen (Gallery, Andrews, Wilfork, Harris) should be available to them here.  They gladly will take Harris off the board here.  He is versatile enough to play the nose or the end position in the Dom Capers 3-4 defense.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers:  DE Will Smith, Ohio St-The selection of Smith, the premiere DE in the draft, assures the Steeler front seven will remain strong.  Kimo Von Oelhoefen is not getting any younger, and the line is a position the Steelers do not have a lot of depth at.  The Steelers have needs offensively and in the secondary as well, but always go after whom they view as the best available player.
  12. New York Jets:  WR Reggie Williams, Washington-The Jets are woefully thin at WR with the undersized but productive Santana Moss as their only true option.  Williams is 6'4 and 220 lbs and is the complete package at wideout.
  13. Buffalo Bills:  TE Kellen Winslow Jr., Miami Fla.-Buffalo's offense completely fell apart this season and the Bills will take the best offensive player available off the board here at #13.  In Winslow, they get a lethal weapon at TE whose raw talent outshines the fact that he is a crybaby that does not care for blocking all that much.  Winslow will team with fellow Cane alum Willis McGahee to lead the Bill offense into the next century.
  14. Chicago Bears:  TE Ben Troupe, Florida-With the two top lineman off the board, the Bears will pass on Maurice Clarett and Kevin Jones here in favor of Troupe, who is likely a better overall prospect than Lieutenant Winslow Jr.  Troupe is very familiar with Rex Grossman, the Bears QB of the future and will add a nice weapon to the Bear attack.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  RB Maurice Clarett, Ohio St-Right or wrong, I don't see a court of law denying Clarett and Fitzgerald their right to earn a living, and I see both being available in the 2004 Draft.  There has been a lot of speculation as to where Clarett would go…and personally I do not see him slipping much farther than this.  As an eighteen year old, he dominated against some of the toughest competition at the college level and his combination of vision and power should make him a premier back at the next level and provide the Bucs with exactly what they've been missing since James Wilder retired.
  16. San Francisco 49ers:  WR Michael Clayton, LSU-With Terrell Owens on his way out the door, the Niners will look wideout here in round one.  Clayton, like Reggie Williams, is 6'4 and over 200 lbs, has great hands and also the ability to take you to the house.  Bill Walsh has had a pretty good track record of drafting WR's (sans J.J. Stokes) and hopes that that streak continues here with Clayton.
  17. Cincinnati Bengals:  CB DeAngelo Hall, Virginia Tech:  Head coach Marvin Lewis will no doubt look to improve the Bengal defense here at #17, which was a disappointment this year to him and proved to be the teams downfall.  Hall has the athletic tools to be a shut down corner, as well as a top-flight return man on special teams.
  18. New Orleans Saints:  CB Derrick Strait, Oklahoma:  The Saints never ending quest to improve their defense continues here with the selection of Strait, most likely the best true cover guy on the board.
  19. Minnesota Vikings:  OLB D.J. Williams, Miami Fla.-Death, taxes, and the Vikings defense sucking are about the only things you can count on in life, and there is no doubt that they will go defense here at #19.  Chris Hovan and Kevin Williams are a lethal tandem at DT…but the Vikes desperately lack speed at the DE and LB positions.  Williams is a very athletic and incredibly talented kid that should be able to step in right away and upgrade the Viking defense.
  20. Miami Dolphins:  DT Randy Starks, Maryland-I wouldn't be surprised to see the Dolphins try and trade up to snag Gallery or Andrews to help out their aging OL…but at #20 going OL may be a reach.  Instead, they will go after the best DT on the board in Starks.  Tim Bowens is going on ten years in the league and the Dolphins have little else in the way of talent at the DT position.
  21. New England Patriots:  RB Kevin Jones, Virginia Tech-The Pats get their RB of the future with the pick they acquired from Baltimore last year.  Jones combination of size and speed should supplant the Patriot offense with the only real thing they are missing, making them an even scarier team in 2004.
  22. Dallas Cowboys:  DE David Pollack, Georgia-With no QB or RB on the board that jumps out at them, the Cowboys will look to replenish what is really the only weak spot on their impressive young defense by nabbing Pollack to chase down opposing quarterbacks off the edge for them.
  23. Seattle Seahawks:  DT Darnell Dockett, Florida St.-John Randle has to be pushing 40, and the Seahawks will go after a DT this year after passing on Jimmy Kennedy last year to nab Marcus Trufaunt.  Seattle's defense started the season strong, but they faded as the season went on…and Dockett can immediately be plugged into the rotation at DT.
  24. Indianapolis Colts:  CB Chris Gamble, Ohio St.-The Colts defense never really took the step forward Dungy was hoping it would this season, and it's likely that he will use their first pick this season on a cornerback or a run stopping DT or MLB.  Based on talent and physical skills alone, Gamble would likely be too tough to pass on here.  He would join former teammate Michael Doss in the Colt secondary.
  25. Green Bay Packers:  QB Phillip Rivers, NC St.-The last two seasons, many mock drafts had Green Bay taking the successor to Brett Favre…and they instead selected Javon Walker and Nick Barnett.  This should be the year that the Packers pull the string on a quarterback with a high pick and the two most likely candidates here are Rivers and J.P. Losman.
  26. Carolina Panthers:  WR Lee Evans, Wisconsin-The Panthers need help at WR and in the secondary, and they should have some appealing options to choose from here at either spot.  In the end, Evans 4.3 speed may be too tough for them to pass on here despite the fact he is a bit undersized.
  27. Denver Broncos:  CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan-Chances are high that the Broncos will use this pick to address either the CB position or the defensive line.  There is also a pretty good chance that either Marlin Jackson or Chris Gamble will be here for them, and both players would make sense for Denver.
  28. Tennessee Titans:  OLB Derrick Johnson, Texas-This big, fast, hard hitting linebacker from Texas would team with Keith Bulluck to give the Titans a pair of incredibly athletic playmakers at the linebacker spot and help address a position the Titans lack depth at.
  29. St. Louis Rams:  OG Vernon Carey, Miami Fla.-Generally thought of at the third best lineman on the board, Carey will step in and take the place of Adam Timmerman, who will likely leave via free agency.  Carey has the size and tools to play tackle as well, but the Rams are set there with Turley and Pace.
  30. Kansas City Chiefs:  CB Will Poole, USC-Another pick that should be best defensive player available.  The Chiefs offense is dominant, but their defense is still likely not strong enough to get them over the hump.  The secondary is a particular area of need after passing on it for Larry Johnson last year, and they should have several decent options available to them here this season.
  31. New England Patriots:  ILB Jonathon Vilma, Miami Fla.-Keeping with a yearly tradition, Vilma becomes the fifth Hurricane to fly off the board in the first round.  Belichick consistently uses seven LB's every game in his 3-4 scheme, and Vilma is athletic enough to play any of those four linebacker spots.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles:  OLB Karlos Dansby, Auburn-Despite a great season, the Eagles have struggled to stop the run this season and this pick here will likely be used to upgrade their front seven on defense.  Dansby has good size, speed, and footwork and could likely be plugged right in and replace Ike Reese on the strong side.

Second Round

  1. San Diego-DT Chad Lavalais, LSU
  2. Houston-Used to select RB Tony Hollings in the supplemental draft
  3. Arizona-OLB Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma
  4. NY Giants-OT Tony Pape, Michigan
  5. Washington-RB Carnell Williams, Auburn
  6. Detroit-S Stuart Schweigert, Purdue
  7. Atlanta-CB Kewain Ratliff, Florida
  8. CLEVELAND-DE Antwan Odom, Alabama
  9. Jacksonville-DE Kenechi Udeze, USC
  10. Houston-OT Jacob Rogers, USC
  11. Pittsburgh-RB Chris Perry, Michigan
  12. NY Jets-CB Nathan Vasher, Texas
  13. Buffalo-QB J.P. Losman, Tulane
  14. Chicago-OT Michael Munoz, Tennessee
  15. Oakland-WR Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma St.
  16. San Francisco-DT Donnell Washington, Clemson
  17. Cincinnati-RB Cedric Benson, Texas
  18. New Orleans-DT Marcus Tubbs, Texas
  19. Minnesota-DE Chris Canty, Virginia
  20. New England-S Bob Sanders, Iowa
  21. Baltimore-WR Michael Jenkins, Ohio St.
  22. Dallas-RB Greg Jones, Florida St.
  23. Seattle-OLB Michael Boulware, Florida St.
  24. Indianapolis-OLB Dontarrious Thomas, Auburn
  25. Green Bay-DT DeMarco Neil, Auburn
  26. Carolina-S Brandon Everage, Oklahoma
  27. Denver-DE Dave Ball, UCLA
  28. Tennessee-OG Stephen Peterman, LSU
  29. New Orleans-S Jammal Brimmer, UNLV
  30. Kansas City-S Will Allen, Ohio St.
  31. New England-DE Marquise Hill, LSU
  32. Philadelphia-CB Richard Colclough, Tusculum

As always, I enjoy hearing your feedback and talking draft.

Rich Swerbinsky

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