These things are so tough to do in mid-February, before the free agent signing period begins.
But my e-mail per column ratio suggests that people love mock drafts. And I am a man of the people.
The fact that this team has been so poor in the six years since their return to the NFL also factors heavily. We as Browns fans look to the draft each season as a beacon of hope for things to come. Let's all hope the day comes soon where we are picking low enough to subside our yearlong cravings for any and all information related to the NFL Draft.
Once again, Bernie's Insiders will be holding a Draft Day Bash at Bunkers Bar & Grille in Medina, OH on Saturday, April 23rd. We had over 100 fans attend last year, and are looking to double that up this year. Details are available in the Watercooler, at the link below, and look for a front page column to provide further details in the near future.
Without question, this is a draft that is weaker at the top than previous versions. In my view, this year's scouting combines in Indianapolis and the on-campus workouts will have a bigger impact than ever before. Who the top fifteen prospects in this draft exactly are is still very foggy right now, and the chances are very good that the mock draft below will be amusingly inaccurate in hindsight once draft day passes and the real selections are logged. Never before have I felt as uncomfortable with my prognostications in mid-February, despite the fact that I saw more of these guys in action, and have done more homework than in any of the previous four years I've been doing this.
With those disclaimers out of the way, let me hit on the Browns selection real quick. Preference number one for me right now, as it is with most fans, is a trade down. This is much easier said than done, and is contingent upon a team falling in love with either whatever QB San Francisco doesn't take, or Derrick Johnson.
The team's biggest need is still the offensive line. Yet there is no lineman in this draft worthy of the #3 pick. However, there are several intriguing offensive line prospects that should be available for them at the top of round two.
This is the deepest draft for running backs in years, and knowing that, I
think taking a running back this high with Suggs and Green already here would
foolish. I am also principally opposed to using this pick on a quarterback. I
think both Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith will both be fine quarterbacks three to
four years down the road, but see neither as being the type of prospects that
Manning, Rivers, and Roethlisberger were last season.
What I am left with is the following opinion …
If the Browns stay at #3, as things stand right now, they have three options, which I have listed in my present order of preference.
- Select LB Derrick Johnson, Texas
- Select either CB Antrel Rolle, Miami Fla. or CB Pac-Man Jones, West Virginia
- Select WR Mike Williams, USC
1. San Francisco-QB Aaron Rodgers, Cal
We hear all the talk about how cheap the Niners are, and how they would like to trade down. Don't count on it. San Fran will stay put and select either Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith. Rodgers grew up a Niners fan, was tutored by Jeff Tedford, has remarkable mechanics and accuracy, and will make for a fine NFL quarterback one day.
2. Miami-RB Cedric Benson, Texas
If you can put aside the fact that Benson is a Texas running back with dreadlocks (that he recently chopped off) that openly said the Heisman was more important to him than beating Oklahoma … there is no question in my mind that he is the safest pick on the board and a lock to be a top tier RB at this level. Miami desperately needs a back, and Benson is the top back available.
3. Cleveland-LB Derrick Johnson, Texas
Being afraid to take a player because he is 15-20 pounds lighter than lighter than the "ideal playing weight" for his position is buffoonery to me, and is representative of the flawed front office views we've been forced to endure in this town for the last six years.
Derrick Johnson is a great football player. He's the best outside linebacker prospect since LaVar Arrington, and one of the best college linebackers of this generation. And the Browns have a huge need at linebacker, especially given Romeo's desire to switch to a 3-4 defense. He's a playmaker, a virtual lock to be a Pro Bowl player, and it's scary to think what a couple years of weight training and tutelage under Crennel will lead to.
Johnson is 6'4, 230 and runs faster than most wide receivers. I simply do
not buy into the fact that there is only one way to play the 3-4, and that your
outside backers must be 260 pounds just because New England's were last year. I
seem to remember another great 3-4 defense from the eighties in New York. They
took some kid named Taylor to play OLB out of North Carolina. His size? 6'3
and 225 lbs.
4. Chicago-WR Mike Williams, USC
There are few sure things in life, but one of them is that the Bears will take an offensive skill position guy here at #4. While Braylon Edwards in the top WR on most boards right now, expect that to change after the combines, when Williams reminds the world exactly what type of specimen he is.
5. Tampa Bay-RB Cadillac Williams, Auburn
It's been some time since the Buccaneers have had a top rushing attack, and Garner and Pittman are getting long in the tooth by NFL RB standards. Gruden coached The Cadillac at the Senior Bowl, and got a long hard look at the guy that every scout known out there is declaring as a slam dunk bona fide NFL runner.
6. Tennessee-CB Antrel Rolle, Miami Fla.
Andre Dyson is an unrestricted free agent, and Samari Rolle (no relation to Antrel) has struggled with injuries and has a huge cap number for 2005. The Titans had one of the worst pass defenses in all of football last season, and are set at the skill positions offensively. This likely is a best defensive player available pick here, and Rolle is the prototypical NFL corner with great size and speed.
7. Oakland-WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan
My gut tells me that the Raiders will finally use this draft to acquire some new blood at the offensive skill positions. For years I've been predicting this and have been wrong. With Jerry Porter now dead set on testing free agency, the Raiders have a gaping hole left at wide receiver. Either Edwards or Mike Williams will be available here, and I expect the Raiders to go in that direction and address their defense in free agency.
8. Arizona-RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn
Like last year, when they passed on Rivers and Roethlisberger, the Cardinals will once again have the option to go quarterback here with Alex Smith still on the board. I expect them to once again pass, and gobble up Ronnie Brown, who in my opinion will end up being the best back from this draft in the long term. Denny Green has been a mastermind on draft day both in Minnesota and here, and last year's superb effort went along way towards improving the team. Brown should end up being another fine selection.
9. Washington-QB Alex Smith, Utah
The Skins receive a gift as Alex Smith falls into their lap at #9. Mark Brunell is finished, and Patrick Ramsey's inconsistency has been maddening. Gibbs is back in this for the long term, and will feel this will be his last chance to pick high enough to land a potential franchise signal caller.
10. Detroit-S Thomas Jones, Georgia
After going offense the last three years in the first round, the Lions will turn to the defensive side of the ball with this year's selection. They are very weak at safety, and Jones is the latest in a line of great safeties we've seen come out of college in the last five years. Jones played OLB at Georgia up until this season, and he could still project there in the pros … and that's another area the Lions need help at.
11. Dallas-CB Pac-Man Jones, West Virginia
Pac-Man is shooting up draft boards a la Dunta Robinson last season, and many view the two as similar players. Robinson was dominant as a rookie last season for the Texans, who took him at #10 overall. Despite lacking ideal size, Jones is a complete player, a physical kid with great technique. The Cowboy pass defense went from the best in the league to one of the worst last season as they let Mario Edwards leave via free agency, and Terence Newman's level of play fell off greatly.
12. San Diego-DE Dan Cody, Oklahoma
Cody is a high-energy guy, and was incredibly productive at Oklahoma. He projects to be a guy that could play OLB in the 3-4, a defensive set run by the Chargers. You can never have enough depth in your front seven when playing the 3-4, and I fully expect the Chargers to use this initial first round pick, acquired from the Giants in the Eli Manning trade last year, on the best available defensive player.
13. Houston-DE Marcus Spears. LSU
The Texans are another 3-4 team, and Spears appears to be an ideal 3-4 DE. He has great size and athletic ability, and blew people away at the Senior Bowl. The Texans were the only NFL team that played a 3-4 that struggled against the run, and they clearly need an upgrade up front defensively.
14. Carolina-OT Alex Barron, Florida
The Panthers season was derailed last year when injuries crippled them up front offensively. John Fox prefers to run a ball control, run oriented offense and has not been afraid to use high picks on linemen. If Barron, the top OL in this years draft, is still on the board here at #14 … expect the Panthers to jump all over him.
15. Kansas City-DE Shawne Merriman, Maryland
Maybe the only bigger lock than the Bears going offense at #4 is the Chiefs using this pick on defense. Of course, I said the same thing two years ago when they passed on Troy Polamalu to select Larry Johnson. Merriman is a physical specimen, a terror off the edge, and his performance last year in a late season game versus Wake Forest was hands down one of the most amazing individual efforts I have ever witnessed by a college defender.
16. New Orleans-DT Travis Johnson, Florida St.
It seems as if every year the Saints use high picks on defense, yet their defense never improves. Expect more of the same this year. In an era that has seen the top ten picks of the draft littered with defensive tackles, Johnson is this year's top DT prospect, and should go around this portion of the draft. Only Miami and Cleveland were worse against the run last year, and that's only because teams spent the entire second halves of games trying to erode the clock and protect leads.
17. Cincinnati-DE Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
Tuck is a kid that has been quickly rising up draft boards, much like Dwight Freeney did a couple years ago. Tuck has gotten a lot of Freeney comparisons from those that have seen him live and the Bengals need a desperate makeover up front on defense.
18. Minnesota-WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma
Randy Moss has worn out his welcome in Minnesota, and will be dealt. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for them to use this selection on his replacement. Clayton blew people away at the Senior Bowl, wowing scouts with his amazing hands, route running and blocking ability, and electricity after the catch.
19. St. Louis-CB Brandon Browner, Oregon St.
The Rams defense was a mess last season, as they allowed 25 points per game and got torched by the Falcons in the playoffs. While their biggest need is linebacker, it will be tough for the Rams to pass on a kid like Browner, who has great size and speed for a corner. Despite leaving the Beavers after his sophomore season (was redshirted), it's also likely he could be long gone by the time the Rams pick here.
20. Dallas-DE David Pollack, Georgia
With Pac-Man already in the fold, Parcells will continue to work on his defense here at #20. Pollack is a Parcells type guy, and was incredibly productive at Georgia. This mock draft, while early and likely to be inaccurate, shows why Browns fans are foolish to hold their breath for a trade of the #3 pick that would net us the two Dallas selections. Dallas will be able to get two very quality players by just staying put.
21. Jacksonville-DE Erasmus James, Wisconsin
James is a boom or bust pick, and his talent is deserving of a top ten selection. He has battled injuries throughout his career, but had an eye-popping senior season where he stayed healthy until years end. The Jags have a huge need at DE, and adding a talent like James to the league's best pair of defensive tackles (Stroud and Henderson) will simply be too enticing if he's still on the board.
22. Baltimore-WR Roddy White, UAB
Wide receiver is a hole the Ravens have been trying to fill for some time now, first being spurned by TO last year, then passing on Keary Colbert in round two. This year, a solid receiver will be there for them at #22. Mark Clayton's Senior Bowl performance likely killed the chances of him being here, but White is a great wide receiver I am extremely familiar with as he has been one of the centerpieces of my college fantasy football team (I know, I am a sick) for the last two seasons.
23. Seattle-LB Channing Crowder, Florida
Seattle still needs help on the defensive side of the ball, especially at middle linebacker, where Orlando Huff and Niko Koutouvides combined to man the middle of a defense that allowed 4.5 yards per rush. Crowder is another one of these redshirt sophomore guys that has immense upside.
24. Green Bay-CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan
The Packer pass defense has been abysmal since LeRoy Butler retired, and needs a significant upgrade. Jackson is talented enough to step right in, and can play corner or free safety, allowing the Pack to get their best four DB's out on the field at the same time in standard defensive sets.
25. Denver-TE Heath Miller, Virginia
The Broncos have long been known for utilizing the TE as well and as often as any team in the league, and are elated when Miller, the draft's top TE, falls into their lap here at #25. Miller is talented enough to justify a top ten pick. He will step in immediately and replace Jeb Putzier, who in addition to being marginal, is French.
26. NY Jets-CB Justin Miller, Clemson
This is a draft strong on cornerbacks, and despite having top twenty talent, a guy like Miller may slide to the end of the first or beginning of the second round due to the fact that he is only the 5th or 6th most talented corner coming out this year. Herm Edwards is a great coach, good on draft day, and knows you can't have enough good corners. Miller is a smart pick for a defensive oriented team without any major holes.
27. Atlanta-OT Adam Terry, Syracuse
Jim Mora Jr. gives Michael Vick and OL guru Alex Gibbs a gift here as they pluck the talented 6'7 left tackle prospect out of Syracuse off the board here at #27. Kevin Shaffer is shaky at LT, and Terry has the mechanics and makeup to come in and potentially start there immediately.
28. San Diego-OT Jamaal Brown, Oklahoma
Having already taken Dan Cody off the board, the Chargers take another Sooner in Brown, widely perceived as the draft's second best offensive lineman. The Charger line improved dramatically last season, but could still use an upgrade.
29. Indianapolis-DT Shawn Cody, USC
After surprising many by taking Dallas Clark over William Joseph in the 2003 Draft, the Colts will finally address the interior of their defense with a 1st round selection this year with the acquisition of Shawn Cody. Cody is one of those interior linemen with a real ability to get to the QB, and putting him up front with Freeney and Robert Mathis would be another big step towards building the Colt defense to Super Bowl quality.
30. Pittsburgh-CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn
With the strength of the CB position, and the fact that the Steelers have few needs outside of the secondary, the chances appear pretty good that the Steelers will take the top remaining CB off the board here at #30. Rogers has great size, won the Thorpe Award as the nations top DB, and is another guy that would be a surefire top twenty pick in other years.
31. Philadelphia-RB Ciatrick Fason, Florida
With their dominant secondary secure, Corey Simon franchised, and Trotter willing to return … it seems likely that the Eagles will use this selection on an offensive skill position player. Fason has the most upside of any of the remaining backs, and will be afforded a chance to ease into the commemorative Dorsey Levens role in this offense as he learns behind Westbrook.
32. New England-DE Matt Roth, Iowa
Every year you have players that are identified as ideal "tweeners" for the 3-4 defense and Roth is one of those guys. Also, he reeks of Patriot like qualities such as a good football IQ, hustle, and intensity.
33. San Francisco-DT Antajj Hawthorne, Wisconsin
34. Cleveland-OG Elton Brown, Virginia
35. Philadelphia-LB Odell Thurman, Georgia
36. Tampa Bay-OG David Baas, Michigan
37. Tennessee-OT Khalif Barnes, Washington
38. Oakland-RB Marion Barber III, Minnesota
39. Chicago-TE Alex Smith, Stanford
40. New Orleans-QB Charlie Frye, Akron
41. Detroit-OT Michael Munoz, Tennessee
42. Dallas-WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina
43. NY Giants-LB Kevin Burnett, Tennessee
44. Arizona-QB Andrew Walter, Arizona St
45. Carolina-RB J.J. Arrington, California
46. Kansas City-CB Bryant McFadden, Florida St.
47. Houston-S Earnest Shazor, Michigan
48. Cincinnati-DE Bill Swancutt, Oregon St.
49. Minnesota-DT C.J. Mosely, Missouri
50. St. Louis-OT Adam Snyder, Oregon
51. Green Bay-QB Jason Campbell, Auburn
52. Jacksonville-RB Maurice Clarett, Ohio St.
53. Baltimore-OG Chris Kemoeatu, Utah
54. Seattle-RB Vernand Morency, Oklahoma St.
55. Buffalo-DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern
56. Denver-S Brodney Pool, Oklahoma
57. NY Jets-K Mike Nugent, Ohio St.
58. Green Bay-DE DeMarcus Ware, Troy
59. Atlanta-WR Chris Henry, West Virginia
60. Indianapolis-RB Eric Shelton, Louisville
61. San Diego-LB Lance Mitchell, Oklahoma
62. Pittsburgh-QB/WR Matt Jones, Arkansas
63. Philadelphia-WR Fred Gibson, Georgia
64. New England-OG Marcus Johnson, Mississippi