2004 NFL Mock Draft Version I

Here is an early -- pre-combine -- look at the 2004 NFL Draft. The early surprises will shake up the entire board...in Mock Draft Version I...

  1. San Diego Chargers- Robert Gallery- OT- Iowa

The way to build a successful team is to build around your superstars. LaDainian Tomlinson needs larger running lanes and David Boston needs more time to get open downfield. The Chargers search for a veteran quarterback shows they do not plan to groom another young hand just yet.

  1. Oakland Raiders- Eli Manning- QB- Ole Miss

The uniting bond between Al Davis and Norv Turner is their passion for using a power running game to set up a vertical passing attack. Davis brought in a coach with the scheme to do it, now all he needs is a quarterback with the arm to do it.

  1. Arizona Cardinals- Ben Roethlisberger- QB- Miami-Ohio

If Dennis Green likes Josh McCown's potential, wait until he gets a load of this kid. Green will sit him a year just like he did with Daunte Culpepper while in Minnesonta. Then next season, Roethlisberger to Boldin may be even better than even Culpepper to Moss. Maybe.

  1. New York Giants- Larry Fitzgerald- WR- Pitt

Although wide receiver is not a great need for the Giants, this is too good a value to pass up. Fitzgerald would work next to the consistent Amani Toomer, and Jeremy Shockey's presence can guarantee him single coverage. The NFL is a game of match-ups, and Larry Fitzgerald against anyone in single coverage would be a good match-up for the Giants.

  1. Washington Redskins- Sean Taylor- S- Miami

The Redskins have two shut-down corners in Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot, but their interior secondary creates a glaring weakness in their pass defense. Well, until this pick anyway.

  1. Detroit Lions- Kellen Winslow Jr.- TE- Miami

With no defensive player on the board worth taking this high, the Lions search for another weapon for franchise quarterback Joey Harrington. He and Charles Rogers would make a fearsome pass catching duo.

  1. Atlanta Falcons- Roy Williams- WR – Texas

Peerless Price lacks great size and has been most successful as a complimentary receiver facing single coverage. Roy Williams is the total package, will be a dominant number one receiver, and makes playing against Michael Vick all the more terrifying.

  1. Cleveland Browns- Shawn Andrews- OT- Arkansas

It doesn't matter if it is Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, or Joe Montana back there. If that line doesn't get some talent added to it, that offense will never move. Tim Couch will like this pick, and Lee Suggs will absolutely adore it.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Kenechi Udezi- DE- USC

As Coach Del Rio showed while in Carolina, he loves himself a good defensive line. Lining Udezi up next to John Henderson and Marcus Stroud will make playing against the Jaguars every quarterback's worst nightmare.

  1. Houston Texans- Vince Wilfork- NT- Miami

Wilfork has the size to anchor the middle of the Texans 3-4 defense. He, Gary Walker, and Seth Payne will excel at stuffing run lanes. Oh by the way, he has the quickness and strength to collapse the pocket also. This is a great pick for the Texans.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- Chris Gamble- CB- Ohio State

The Steelers want to add speed to their secondary, and they love a good athlete regardless of position. So they splurge and get both with the addition of the playmaking Chris Gamble.

  1. New York Jets- Jonathan Vilma- MLB- Miami

The Jets need speed at linebacker in a bad way. Mo Lewis is too old to man the middle in the Jets speed-oriented scheme, so the team drafts Vilma. He has the speed and versatility that Herm Edwards requires from his linebackers.

  1. Buffalo Bills- Phillip Rivers- QB- NC State

Tom Donahoe has shown as recently as last year that he will spend a first round pick on a project for the future. And with Drew Bledsoe's career in apparent decline, the future could come sooner than expected in Buffalo.

  1. Chicago Bears- Tommie Harris- DT- Oklahoma

Lovie Smith brings with him a defense dependant on a solid pass rush by the front four. Placing the quick and aggressive Harris in between Alex Brown and Michael Haynes is a good start to the rebuilding process in Chi-Town.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Steven Jackson- RB- Oregon State

John Gruden likes to run the ball more than he is given credit for. Michael Pittman lacks vision, and Thomas Jones lacks a burst through the hole. After this selection, John Gruden will lack the worry of stressing either of those problems.

  1. San Francisco 49ers- Reggie Williams- WR- Washington

Regardless of what free agents stay or go, the 49ers need more production from their wide receivers. Williams has the speed to excel in Coach Erickson's downfield passing schemes, and has the size to be a factor in the red zone as well.

  1. Cincinatti Bengals- Will Smith- DE- Ohio State

After signing Tory James and drafting Dennis Weathersby last season, Marvin Lewis is more likely to blame his team's poor pass defense on the Bengals lack of a pass rush than on poor play by their corners. Lining Will Smith up opposite Justin Smith should remedy that problem in a hurry.

  1. New Orleans Saints- DeAngelo Hall- CB- Virginia Tech

The Saints demand speed from their secondary players, and like good athletes on the field in hopes their physical prowess will allow them to take over games. Hall is a versatile speedster with the size to match-up with the increasing large receivers in today's game.

  1. Minnesota Vikings- Will Poole- CB- USC

After years of terrible play from their corners, the Vikings are simplifying their demands. They want somebody, anybody, who can stick with their man and go get the ball once and a while. Will Poole would seem more than capable of handling that job.

  1. Miami Dolphins- Michael Clayton- WR- LSU

The Dolphins do not have the patience to groom a young passer on this veteran team, so they go the receiver route in their attempt to liven up their passing game. Clayton's run after the catch ability is a perfect compliment to Chris Chambers vertical style of play.

  1. New England Patriots- Kevin Jones- Running Back- Virginia Tech

Kevin Jones is fast, explosive, and has a nose for the end zone. He is everything that Antowain Smith was not, and is exactly what the Patriots need to provide balance to their offense.

   22. Dallas Cowboys- Antwan Odom- DE- Alabama

The Cowboys main problem on offense was a lack of veterans at key positions, so look for them to use the draft to keep their defense among the league's elite. The Cowboys kept yards to a minimum last season, but did not produce enough game altering plays. Odom will provide the pressure off of the edge that will provide more quarterback sacks, and more rushed throws tossed in direction of either Terrance Newman or Roy Williams.  

23. Seatle Seahawks- Randy Starks- DT- Maryland

Chad Eaton and John Randle are too old, and Norman Hand's prime has gone by the wayside. Putting Randy Starks in a rotation with young players Rashad Moore and Rocky Bernard is a good foundation to lay for a traditionally weak line.

   24. Denver Broncos- DJ Williams- SLB- Miami

With the Broncos already over the salary cap limit for this season, the chances of keeping Al Wilson or Ian Gold appear slim. Bringing in DJ Williams to line up next to last year's second round selection Terry Pierce helps soften that blow considerably.

   25. Green Bay Packers- Darnell Dockett- DT- Florida State

The Packers need to improve the pass rush produced by their defensive line. Dockett's pass rush ability and pure quickness are a great compliment to run-stuffers Grady Jackson and Gilbert Brown, and would help take the pressure off sack-master KGB.

   26. Saint Louis Rams- JP Losman- QB- Tulane

Mike Martz said before last year's draft that the way to groom a quarterback is to take one in the first round and bring him along slowly until he is ready. Marc Bulger's propensity for untimely turnovers combined with the constant nagging of Mr. and Mrs. Warner might compel Mad Mike to start grooming one right now.

   27. Tennessee Titans- Vernon Carey- OT- Miami

This would be a great pick for the Titans, who lack youth at tackle and athleticism at guard. Carey could start at right guard for Benji Olsen as a rookie, and eventually be moved out to right tackle to replace the aging Fred Miller.

   28. Philadelphia Eagles- Karlos Dansby- SLB- Auburn

The Eagles glaring need is at wide receiver. However, their need here is so great that they will not wait until the twenty-eighth selection of the NFL draft to address it. So they draft Dansby to replace the departing Carlos Emmons. Dansby will make plays sideline to sideline, and will improve the Eagle's weak run defense from a season ago.

   29. Indianapolis Colts- Derrick Strait- CB- Oklahoma

Tony Dungy's defense has the speed, pass rush, and hustle he works so diligently to instill. However, he must be wondering, where are the interceptions his corners used to pile up for him while he was back in Tampa Bay? So he brings in a ball-hawk like Strait, and can afford to start him as a rookie because of the help provided to corners whom play in the cover-two scheme.

   30. Kansas City Chiefs- David Ball- DE- UCLA

David Ball's hustle reminds Coach Vermeil of what Grant Winstrom is like. His pressure off of the edge will remind Chiefs fans of what defense played with a pass rush is like.

   31. Carolina Panthers- Ben Troupe- TE- Florida

Now that Jake Delhomme has shown he can be an elite quarterback, the Panthers must assist him in staying in such a stratosphere. With the Panthers' receivers stepping up big last season, it is time the Panthers add a solid target from a different position.

   32. New England Patriots- Daryl Smith- ILB- Georgia Tech.

Smith is a smart player who can shut down the run. He will cut his teeth on special teams as a rookie and provide excellent depth for the defending Superbowl Champions.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at BenLeber51@yahoo.com

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