1. San Francisco – QB Alex Smith, Utah
Despite the fact he may not have even gone top five last season, Smith will be the #1 overall selection this year. He is the best quarterback in this draft, San Francisco has the most anemic quarterback situation in the league, and there are few suitors for this pick. Smith has all the characteristics to be a fine quarterback in the NFL, and is a relatively safe pick in my view.
It's looking more and more likely by the day that both Miami and Cleveland will trade out of the #2 and #3 holes respectively, and I see Ronnie Brown and Braylon Edwards going in these two slots regardless of who is picking here. The jump up from #9 for Washington and #12 for San Diego may prove too costly, and I see Tampa sneaking up three spots to ensure they get Ronnie Brown at the cost of a 2nd and a 3rd in this years draft or next. Brown's size, speed, and hands are just what the doctor ordered for Gruden's west coast attack.
3. ***Minnesota – WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan
(Minnesota trades #7, #49, and a 2006 3rd round selection to Cleveland for #3 overall)
Drama should be high on Draft Day morning, as the Browns will probably not make any deals until they are actually on the clock at #3. In the end, there are too many holes for the Browns to fill, and I don't believe Savage wants to stand pat at #3 and take Braylon. Edwards is coveted by a handful of teams, and I think it will end up being Minnesota that makes the move up. Edwards will step right in and replace Randy Moss for the Vikes.
The Bears need a lot of help on offense. They have a couple young QB's already, Alex Barron is a reach at #5, and the signing of Mushin Muhammad takes some of the pressure away to add a WR. Thomas Jones had a nice season last year, but is not the type of back you can hand the ball to 30 times a game. Benson is. Benson is the safest pick in this draft, is ready to contribute right now, and is a perfect fit for the type of ball control offense the Bears want to pair with their good young defense under coach Lovie Smith.
5. ***Miami – QB Aaron Rodgers, Cal
The Dolphins are able to deal down, pick up a couple additional selections, and still get the drafts other top tier signal caller. The Dolphins have lacked a difference making quarterback since Marino retired, and A.J. Feeley and Gus Frerotte are not long term answers that can restore this franchise to greatness. Remember though, this is Nick Saban. Despite the fact everyone has Miami going either QB or RB, don't be shocked if the Dolphins go best defensive player available if they deal down.
The Titans have a big need at CB, and there are two excellent CB options still on the board for them here at #6. However, I simply cannot see them passing on a talent like Williams here at #6, especially with Derrick Mason gone, and former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow in tow. There should be plenty of options for the Titans to trade down here as well, as many teams would love to move up to #6 to snag Williams or one of the CB's.
7. ***Cleveland – LB Derrick Johnson, Texas
I've had a feeling from the beginning that Johnson is the guy Savage wants. The criticisms of his tackling ability, weight, and impact at the point of attack have been well documented … but simply put, this kid can do things no other defender in the draft can. If they do take DJ, it will ultimately be a Romeo Crennel call, because the kid does need to be coached up a bit before making an impact at the next level. Does Romeo believe he can mold this kid into a Ray Lewis type inside? Or a Lawrence Taylor clone outside? The Browns are very thin in the front seven, and Johnson is the type of player who could play inside or out. He wasn't used to rush the passer much at Texas (because of his ability to run and cover), but his freakish athletic ability could eventually be lethal off the edge, giving this defense a game changing impact player. Johnson averaged eighteen tackles per loss a season at Texas, caused nine fumbles last year, and was a four year college player for a major Division I school.
8. Arizona – CB Antrell Rolle, Miami Florida
The Cardinals situation at cornerback is a mess, and unless Benson or Brown falls, chances are likely that they will target Rolle or Pac Man here. Denny Green is one of the leagues best on Draft Day, and getting a corner of Rolle's pedigree here at #8 is a coup for the quickly improving Cardinals.
9. Washington – CB Pac Man Jones, West Virginia
With Fred Smoot now in Minnesota, the Skins resist the temptation to move up to #2 or #3 and take Braylon Edwards because they know one of the draft's top two cornerbacks should still be available here at #9. Pac Man reminds many of a young Darrell Green, with great speed, instincts, and also kick return ability.
10. Detroit – OT Alex Barron, Florida St.
Here at #10, Millen and Mariucci will most likely be looking at either taking
the draft's best OL or best available defender off the board. In the end,
taking Barron to help protect all of their young offensive investments of the
last three years may be too tempting. The Lions are solid inside up front with
DeMulling, Backus, and Woody … but have just Jeff Backus and last years 6th
round pick Kelly Butler at tackle.
11. Dallas – DE Marcus Spears, LSU
Always looking to move down, Parcells could very well so that here at #11. For this, my final projection, I will keep them here, and have them going with Marcus Spears over guys like Merriman and Ware. Spears is a man's man at DE, and has the physical attributes to become a great player. With bust Marcellus Wiley now shipped out of town, defensive end is the Cowboy's biggest need.
12. ***Philadelphia – WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina
(Philadelphia trades #31 and #35 to San Diego for #12 overall)
Philly loves to trade up, and with 13 selections this year, it is almost a given that they will work their way into the upper half of the 1st round. I have them dealing #31 and #35 overall to San Diego for this selection, where they will snag Troy Williamson, who has freakish speed, and will give opponents nightmares lining up across the field from Terrell Owens.
13. Houston – OLB DeMarcus Ware, Troy
DeMarcus Ware has shot up draft boards since his impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, and is being hailed as an ideal OLB for a 304 scheme, which the Texans employ. Ware will team with last years #1 Jason Babin to man the edges of the Houston defense, allowing them to move Kailee Wong back inside and solidify a beleaguered unit from a year ago.
14. Carolina – RB Carnell Williams, Auburn
John Fox thanks his lucky stars and gets the first gift of the draft. Thanks to late risers Troy Williamson and Demarcus Ware, one of the draft's elite running backs falls into the Panthers laps at #14. Stephen Davis is on his last leg, DeShaun Foster has had injury problems, and the Panthers love to run the football … especially with Mushin Muhammad in Chicago.
With Troy Williamson gone, the Chiefs have to be looking best defensive player available here at #15, and it appears Merriman is that guy at this juncture of the draft. Adding Merriman to a defense that has also signed Kendrell Bell, Carlos Hall, and Sammy Knight should be a big shot in the arm to a Chief defense that has been downright terrible these last two years.
16. New Orleans – CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn
Every season the Saints go best defensive player available, yet their defense never improves. Expect more of the same here, although I do like Rogers a lot as a player. The Saints secondary is a mess of castoffs and underachievers, and Rogers would instantly step in as one of their top DB's.
Every year the pundits project Marvin Lewis to go defense, and I think he will fool everyone one more year by taking Miller off the board here at #17. The Bengals may go defense with every remaining pick, but getting a player like Miller for the teams' most important investment (Carson Palmer) will simply be too tempting.
Adding a player as talented as James to Kenechi Udeze, Pat Williams, and Kevin Williams up front would be a coup for the Vikings here at #18. If James can stay healthy, he will become one of the draft's elite players, and possibly begin to harken days of the Purple People Eaters. I don't see the Vikings being willing to deal this pick in addition to #7 to move up, and you can see why with the wealth of talented players still on the board here at #18.
19. St. Louis – OT Khalif Barnes, Washington
The Rams OL is an absolute mess, and it's the main reason their offense bears no resemblance to the Greatest Show On Turf offense of 3-4 years ago. They have had a rotation of inept right tackles ever since Turley went down, and I expect them to address that gaping hole here in round one.
This just seems like a Parcells pick, and the Cowboys could use another weapon for new QB Drew Bledsoe. Keyshawn and Terry Glenn are getting long in the tooth, and there is little behind them besides our old friend Quincy Morgan.
The Jags have one of the best DT tandems (Henderson and Stroud) in the league, and love using high picks on talented defensive linemen. All they have at defensive are free agent signings Marcellus Wiley and Reggie Hayward, who have both been inconsistent … and there is little depth behind them. Pollack will continue to improve this young, talented defense which is quickly evolving into one of the league's best.
22. Baltimore – CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan
No need for analysis here when we can go back in time to one of my favorite takes, from fellow BI columnist Doc Gonzo:
"BALTIMORE: I hate this team, town, the state of Maryland, flesh-eating birds, the color purple and crabs. The apocalypse would be worth it just to wipe out this city and its useless, mentally deficient citizens. Sodom and Gomorrah are Avon Lake and Bay Village compared to this seething nest of perverts, criminals, thugs, drug addicts, radicals, corruption, vice and sin. The football team is little more than a collection of egos, starting with its glib, effete toad of a head coach, and centered around a pair of former or soon-to-be convicts, Ray Lewis and Jamal "8 Ball" Lewis. There's a special place in the low-rent section of hell reserved for these grotesque, disgraceful creatures. There will be no peace and justice until this team is disbanded and wiped from the record books, its players jailed, its stadium razed, the land salted and the people sold into bondage in some distant galaxy. To complete its absolution, Baltimore must burn the corpse of Art Modell on a pyre of garbage along its dump of a waterfront."
Castillo admitted to using steroids recently, but was up front about it, and only did so (allegedly) to rehab an injury. This kid is a tough as nails DT, that ran a 4.8 forty at the combine. I don't see a slip here, and the Seahawks are very weak up front defensively and have forever struggled to stop the run.
24. Green Bay – S Thomas Davis, Georgia
Most mocks have Charlie Frye going here, but who the QB is next year will be irrelevant if the Pack cannot do something about their miserable secondary, which gets them knocked out of the playoffs every year. Darren Sharper has moved on, and the Pack needs a new QB for this defense … forget the offense. Davis projects to be a great pro, and will hope to follow in the footsteps of LeRoy Butler and Darren Sharper as great Packer safeties.
25. Washington – QB Jason Campbell, Auburn
The Redskins acquired this pick knowing they could use it either on a QB, or to help move up into the top three. In the end, they use it on Campbell, their favorite of the second tier QB's. Brunell is old, and the jury is still out on Ramsey.
This is the pick the Raiders just acquired from the Jets, and the chances appear likely that they will use it on a CB to replace the recently traded Phillip Buchanon. Washington has been a late riser since running an eye-popping forty at the combine, and the Raiders have always been enamored with speed guys under Al Davis.
27. Atlanta – DT Travis Johnson, Florida St.
The Falcons could use some help inside up front, and Johnson is one of the draft's elite defensive tackles, and probably deserves to go higher than this. Johnson will team with last year's pleasant surprise Rod Coleman to continue to improve the Falcon defense under Jim Mora Jr.
28. San Diego – LB Daryl Blackstock, Virginia
Blackstock is a 3-4 OLB through and through, and the Chargers won't hesitate to add him to help bolster their 3-4 defense. They need a WR, but still have several picks coming up, allowing them to go best player available here.
29. Indianapolis – CB Corey Webster, LSU
The Colts are very weak at cornerback, and I'd be very surprised if they didn't take one off the board here at #29. Webster is very athletic, very gifted, and is one of my favorite guys in this draft, a guy I'd love to still see on the board when the Browns are up at the top of round #2.
Here at #30, the Steelers will likely look to add a CB or a WR, though you can never discount them drafting for depth on the offensive line. Roddy White is another kid whose game I love, he has all the tools to become a great wide receiver in this league. He and Matt Jones are the top WR's left on the board here, and there's a good chance the Steelers nab one of them here.
31. San Diego – DT Shaun Cody, USC
With Jason Fisk now in Cleveland, the Chargers need a DT that can rotate with Jamal Williams up front, and Cody is great value for them here at #31. Adding Cody and Blackstock to a defense that was very good last season should make AFC opponents sleep uneasy.
32. New England – LB Odell Thurman, Georgia
The Pats suddenly have a real hole at ILB with Teddy Bruschi's troubles and Ted Johnson's age. Thurman is a smart player, a great tackler, and has good strength. He appears to be cut from the Patriot cloth, and would make for a fine selection for them here to finish up round one.
- San Francisco – DE Matt Roth, Iowa
- Cleveland – QB Charlie Frye, Akron
- San Diego – WR Matt Jones, Arkansas
- Tampa Bay – DE Dan Cody, Oklahoma
- Tennessee – OT Jamaal Brown, Oklahoma
- Oakland – LB Channing Crowder, Florida
- Chicago – OG David Baas, Michigan
- New Orleans – LB Kevin Burnett, Tennessee
- Detroit – DE Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
- Dallas – FS Brodney Pool, Oklahoma
- NY Giants – CB Brandon Browner, Oregon St.
- Arizona – RB J.J. Arrington, Cal
- Carolina – OG Elton Brown, Virginia
- Kansas City – CB Justin Miller, Clemson
- NY Jets – OG Marcus Johnson, Ole Miss (pick acquired in Jolley deal with Raiders)
- Cincinnati – DT Anttaj Hawthorne, Wisconsin
- Cleveland – DE Chris Canty, Virginia
- St. Louis – SS Ernest Shazor, Michigan
- Green Bay – CB Bryant McFadden, Florida St.
- Jacksonville – RB Ciatrick Faison, Florida
- Baltimore – WR Reggie Brown, Georgia
- Seattle – LB Barrett Rudd, Nebraska
- Buffalo – OT Adam Terry, Syracuse
- Denver – WR Terrance Murphy, Texas A&M
- NY Jets – TE Alex Smith, Stanford
- Green Bay – DT Jonathon Babineaux, Iowa
- Atlanta – CB Eric Green, Virginia Tech
- Indianapolis – DT Mike Patterson, USC
- San Diego – CB Stanford Routt, Houston
- Pittsburgh – OT Chris Colmer, North Carolina St.
- Philadelphia – C Richie Incognito, Nebraska
- New England – OG Evan Mathis, Alabama
- San Francisco – CB Stanley Wilson, Stanford
- St. Louis – LB Adam Seward, UNLV
- Cleveland – DT C.J. Mosley, Missouri
- Tennessee – K Mike Nugent, Ohio St.
- Oakland – CB Dominique Foxworth, Maryland
- Miami – OT Adam Snyder, Oregon
- Tampa Bay – RB Ryan Moats, Louisiana Tech
- Detroit – FS Josh Bullocks, Nebraska
- Houston – WR Mark Bradley, Oklahoma
- NY Giants – OG Logan Mankins, Fresno St.
- Arizona – DT Atiyyah Ellison, Wisconsin
- Denver – QB Andrew Walter, Arizona St.
- Philadelphia – QB Adrian McPherson, Florida St.
- Houston – RB Marion Barber III, Minnesota
- Carolina – WR Chris Henry, West Virginia
- Minnesota – OG Chris Kemoeatu, Utah
- St. Louis – DE Jovan Haye, Vanderbilt
- New Orleans – LB Lance Mitchell, Oklahoma
- Cincinnati – DE Bill Swancutt, Oregon St.
- Baltimore – C Chris Spencer, Ole Miss
- Seattle – DE Eric Moore, Florida St.
- Buffalo – DT Lorenzo Alexander, Cal
- Jacksonville – LB Robert McCune, Louisville
- NY Jets – RB Eric Shelton, Louisville
- Green Bay – QB David Greene, Georgia
- Atlanta – WR Vincent Jackson, Northern Colorado
- Tampa Bay – SS Donte Nicholson, Oklahoma
- Indianapolis – LB Alfred Fincher, UConn
- Pittsburgh – CB Scott Starks, Wisconsin
- Philadelphia – WR Craphonso Thorpe, Florida St.
- Arizona – OG Dan Buenning, Wisconsin
- Tennessee – LB Michael Boley, Southern Mississippi
- Denver – DT Anthony Bryant, Alabama
- Seattle – OT Michael Munoz, Tennessee
- Kansas City – WR Craig Bragg, UCLA
- New England – WR Courtney Roby, Indiana
- Denver – RB Vernand Morency, Oklahoma St.
BROWNS REMAINING SELECTIONS
Round 5, pick #139: OT Ray Willis, Florida St.
Round 6, pick #176: WR J.R. Russell, Louisville
Round 7, pick #217: CB Nick Collins, Bethune-Cookman