RanchReport.com Mock Draft No. 2

Will the Cowboys get <i>offensive</i> with their first selection in the 2005 NFL Draft? What about their second first round pick? Will Dallas trade down? We provide a look at some of the answers in this detailed mock draft (version two)!<BR>

RanchReport.com 2005 Mock Draft Version No. 2
OVERVIEW: As free agency begins to die down, the most pressing concern the Dallas Cowboys concerns a potential trade for the Saints Darren Howard. Certainly, any pre-draft trade for the pass rushing defensive end would alter the organization's draft day strategy. However, for our second mock draft, we are still operating under the assumption that the trade will not happen.
No. Club
Win
Loss
Strength of Schedule
1. San Francisco
2
14
.488
Alex Smith, QB, Utah — The 49ers bottomed out last year when most of their offensive stars hit the road to greener pastures elsewhere. As a result, the Niners are starting over as a franchise and, as most do, getting a franchise QB is a priority. The jury is still out whether Smith is the better prospect than Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but Smith's gunslinging ability makes him a lock to go early – and perhaps at No. 1. San Francisco would be willing to move out of this spot, but without a consensus No. 1 pick, few teams will likely assume the liability of spending on a No. 1 overall pick. He's less mechanical, and may be the better true playmaker than his California counterpart- and that's why we've got him going No. 1.
2. Miami
4
12
.555
Cedric Benson, RB, Texas — Many prognosticators have leapfrogged Ronnie Brown into this position, but Benson didn't run at the Combine, which allowed him to effectively lose some ground in the battle for No. 1. Not only is Benson a perfect fit for the type of offense Nick Saban has run in the past, but he also fits into the prototype of the running back the Dolphins offense has favored over the years. While this may end up being another Edgerrin James-before-Ricky Williams type of selection, Benson still seems like a glove fit for the type of game the Dolphins have played for years and, regardless of how far some scouts have dropped him for bypassing the Combine running portion, he was still the best RB in the college game last year and should go off the board right here.
3. Cleveland
4
12
.590
Aaron Rodgers, QB, California — Rodgers could easily go No. 1 to the 49ers, but, wherever he goes, he will be seen as the next savior of the franchise. The Browns tried that once with Tim Couch — and now wish they had seen something more in Donovan McNabb or Daunte Culpepper. They went the veteran route last year with limited (if any success), so grabbing a new cornerstone for the offense is a logical direction to go. With new coach Romeo Crennel looking to bring his defensive magic over from the Patriots, this could be a wild-card pick with linebacker Derrick Johnson going off the board, but the selection of Rodgers will buy Crennel a couple of years for the team to show progress. Braylon Edwards could be a wild-card pick, but all franchises need a solid QB to provide stability and there is no guarantee of that by trading out of this spot. If Rogers makes it past this spot, he could remain on the board for awhile.
4. Chicago
5
11
.465
Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn — If Derrick Johnson is still on the board, this becomes a three-way decision — take an impact linebacker to put next to Brian Urlacher and let the Bears try to win the division like they did three years ago — with a killer defense, go for a playmaking receiver like Edwards to line up with Mushin Muhammad to help an anemic offense, or take one of the top running backs and give him a chance to knock off incumbent Thomas Jones. Brown has all the tools to be both a solid runner and receiver. His Combine performance has propelled him up in the top echelon of running backs and would give the Bears offense a jolt of production. However, a more likely scenario is that teams lower in the draft that have fallen in love with a particular player will start stepping up with trade offers. Don't be shocked to see the Bears move down and let someone in who is enamoured with a specific player, be it Brown, Johnson, Braylon Edwards or one of the top cornerbacks available. But, if the Bears keep this pick, look for it to come from an offensive skill position — RB, WR or an outside chance at one of the QBs if one is still available.
5. Tampa Bay
5
11
.477
Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn — This could be the place that teams start lining up with trade offers. With talented players on the table and the monster salaries guaranteed the Fab Four, this is where salaries begin to come down to some state of normalcy. For a team just two years and change removed from the Super Bowl title, the Bucs have a lot of holes. If the Bucs don't trade out for more picks, their choice will likely come down to Williams or Braylon Edwards. But Jon Gruden and his coaches worked closely with Cadillac during the Senior Bowl and came back with rave reviews. With a running game that was nothing short of awful last season, the Bucs need a potential game-breaker.
6. Tennessee
5
11
.512
Braylon Edward, WR, Michigan — The Titans have hit bottom and it doesn't look to get any better in the short-term. With all the cuts the team made to get under the salary cap and the belief that this might be Steve McNair's last year, the team is faced with a dilemma. Do you replace Derrick Mason with a gamebreaker like Edwards or go after a cornerback like Pacman Jones or Antrel Rolle to replace the departed Samari Rolle? Also add into the mix new offensive coordinator Norman Chow. Who knows Mike Williams better than the man who recruited him and coached him at USC? Another potential wild card could be if one of the top two quarterbacks slides down to them. McNair is likely done, but some aren't convinced Billy Volek is a long-term solution. This is a pick perfect for trading out of and, with the cap problems the Titans have, getting away from the guaranteed $13-15 million in signing bonus money this pick would get would help alleviate some of their crippling cap problems.
7. Minnesota (from Oakland)
5
11
.570
Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas — The general consensus around the Twin Cities has been that this is a no-brainer — the best wide receiver available, whether Edwards if he's still available or Mike Williams. But the Vikings under the Tice regime have consistently stated they take the highest-rated player on their board and the only reason Johnson would still be available is that the teams in front of them each had more pressing needs on offense. This is a pick that screams of a trade down, regardless of who is still available. If Edwards is still on the board, he could easily be the pick here, but the Vikings' greatest need is at linebacker. Linebackers like Johnson are rare and the depth of quality LBs in this year's draft is thin. There have been some whispers that if one of the top three running backs is available, the Vikings will take one of them and then start working on a draft-day trade of Michael Bennett for an additional pick or two. But, if they stay in this spot and continue taking the best-rated player available up against need, it's hard to pass up Johnson.
8. Arizona
6
10
.461
Adam Jones, CB, West Virginia — This selection comes with a caveat. If any of the top three running backs is still on the board at this pick, pencil that name in at this selection. The Cardinals tried to work out a trade for Travis Henry, but to date that has fallen through. A need at corner opened up when Duane Starks was traded to the Patriots and Pacman has wowed scouts with his natural ability and "shutdown corner" status. With no other RBs likely to go in the first round, Denny Green and his clown posse could easily wait until the second round to address their need at running back. This is also a good place to trade down to stockpile picks for a team desperate to move up. With St. Louis and Seattle both capable of beating opponents through the air, getting a shutdown corner is a necessity.
9. Washington
6
10
.477
Mike Williams, WR, USC — The Redskins have a big shift going on at wide receiver. Laveranues Coles wanted out and Rod Gardner wants to leave too. The team is trying to compensate by picking up Santana Moss and veteran David Patten, but Williams is a big receiver that would give the Redskins passing game a lot more immediate legitimacy and make Clinton Portis a very dangerous running back. If Williams is gone, the most nagging need is at defensive end, where Oklahoma's Dan Cody and Wisconsin's Erasmus James wait in the wings. With a draft nearing the end of its true blue-chippers, trades will start cooking about here as teams move into position to get the one player they don't want to risk missing out on.
10. Detroit
6
10
.496
Alex Barron, OT, Florida State — The Lions haven't used a top pick on defense for quite some time and have a lot of offensive talent to show for it. But until the offensive line gets fixed, all the talent won't be able to be fully utilized if the line can't open holes for the running game and give Joey Harrington or Jeff Garcia time to get the ball to their talented receivers. The Lions could have their choice of defensive ends if they want to go that route, but Barron cures a short-term and long-term need for a bookend tackle. If the Lions can get an offensive line that can simply do its job efficiently — not great, but just efficient — Steve Mariucci's offense could take off in a hurry and become a playoff contender.
11. Dallas *
6
10
.516
Shawne Merriman, DE/OLB, Maryland — The Cowboys have two first-round picks and used free agency to fill big holes at defensive tackle, cornerback and safety. While this may be a little high for Merriman, he is the perfect fit for what the Cowboys need, whether they stick with the 4-3 defense or move to the 3-4. The Cowboys need a player who can be a designated pass rusher in a 4-3 or a rushing linebacker in a 3-4, and no prospect fills that need like the former Maryland star.
12. San Diego (from N.Y. Giants)
6
10
.516
Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin — A "risk-reward" pick much like the Chargers made when dealing for Phillip Rivers to get this pick — as Denny Green would call it a "free pick." Hopefully James will be more productive than Green's free pick (Dimitrius Underwood), but there's a few red flags and asterisks next to his name. Long-term durability has been a question that has dogged him. When healthy, he's the best DE in the draft. But, if he had been healthy most of his career, he would be a top-five pick. He could be a guy who drops on draft day over injury concerns — much like Kenechi Udeze did last season. But he's going to get someone to bite and the Chargers desperately need an outside pass rusher. If the Chargers are scared off by James' injury history, they could make any number of players the first pure defensive end off the board — including Marcus Spears, David Pollack or Dan Cody.
13. Houston
7
9
.504
Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami — This a wild card pick because, for a team that has never been considered a playoff contender, the Texans don't have many glaring weaknesses. Much like teams in the AFC West are making corner a priority with the arrival of Randy Moss, the Texans have to find a way to beat the Colts and Peyton Manning if they want a shot at a Super Bowl and that comes with shut-down corners. Rolle has a ton of ability and he's physical. Offensive tackle Alex Barron (if he is still on the board) and DE/OLB Shawne Merriman are other options, but, if you're going to fight fire with fire, this a "force pick."
14. Carolina
7
9
.508
Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina — The Panthers were crushed with injuries last year, yet clawed their way back from the dead to make a late run at a playoff spot. While the most pressing need is probably at offensive tackle — if Alex Barron remains, he'd likely go here — the offense is also going to miss Muhsin Muhammad, who left via free agency. They did use a second-round pick on Keary Colbert, who is a possession-type receiver, but a speed-burner like Williamson could do a lot of damage and give the Panthers offense a needed boost. With the return of Stephen Davis, DeShaun Foster and Steve Smith, the Panthers could suddenly have a loaded offense to go along with a solid defense — putting them back into the playoff mix in a hurry.
15. Kansas City
7
9
.551
Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn — Welcome to the new-look Moss infested AFC West. The Chiefs have been active in free agency, trying to draw in the best defensive players they can get. The signing of Kendrell Bell was huge for the Chiefs, but to stop Moss and the other deep burners of the AFC West, the Chiefs need to address their cornerbacks. Eric Warfield is their go-to guy and he would likely be a nickel corner on about half the teams in the NFL. For a team with a lot of needs, getting the player with the best chance of playing immediately is a must. Rogers is physical and plays man coverage, which is a start for a defense in need of a lot of help in a hurry. The Chiefs made it clear they wanted to upgrade at cornerback by their strong pursuit of free agent Samari Rolle, so this pick shouldn't come as a big surprise if the teams pulls the trigger.
16. New Orleans
8
8
.465
Thomas Davis, S, Georgia — The Saints arguably have more pressing needs at linebacker or offensive tackle, but like many teams, you have to first look at the best athletes available. Davis is a safety who plays like a linebacker and has no fear of laying a player out in pass coverage or run support. The Saints aren't dripping with safety talent and Davis gives them an impact player who should become an immediate starter with the ability to take over games and make the big play that snuffs a drive. A player like Jamaal Brown could fit into the mix as the top OT on the board, but Davis is a playmaker that could make a difference for a defense that has disappointed fans for the last three years.
17. Cincinnati
8
8
.543
Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State — The Bengals have somehow convinced coach Marvin Lewis to ignore defense and take offense on the first round in the two years he's been coach — and five of the last six years for the franchise. The Bengals need a lot of help up front defensively. The Bengals signed former Dolphin Bryan Robinson, but he isn't enough to cure the 26th-rated run defense from a year ago. Johnson is the best DT on the board, while the jury is out on some of the impact defensive ends available. Johnson could be gone a half-dozen picks before this, but, if he falls to the Bengals, look for Lewis to assert some influence by making his team better on the defensive side of the ball and let Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson and Chad Johnson take care of the offense.
18. Minnesota
8
8
.480
Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma — While he won't immediately make you think of Randy Moss when you see him (he's only 5-10), he has the speed to be a deep receiver and the hands to play any of the three receiver spots the Vikings run — much like Nate Burleson was when he came to the team. Clayton has faced some of the top corners the college game has to offer and has come away from it with the upper hand in most instances. The Vikings have a couple of big receivers in Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson, so Clayton's speed could be used to exploit the deep game, much like Moss did when he came into an established team with veteran wide receivers. If the Vikings look in a different direction, a versatile player like Shaun Cody of USC (a former teammate of Kenechi Udeze), who can play anywhere on the defensive line, would be another solid option.
19. St. Louis
8
8
.488
Jamaal Brown, OT, Oklahoma — The Rams finally broke the bank to make sure Orlando Pace remained at left tackle, but it's almost a guarantee that right tackle Kyle Turley will be gone — since he made coach Mike Martz nearly fill his pants following a postseason confrontation that required security at the Rams practice facility to be called in. Brown is a dominating college right tackle who could likely step right into Turley's spot and not miss a beat — at least you don't expect a rookie to kill the coach. With Martz you can never be sure what direction the team will go in — let's not forget Trung Canidate as a first-round selection a few years back. But, if good sense dictates, it will come down to Brown or a pass-rushing DE missing from the Rams since Grant Wistrom headed west to find gold (or at least more green). Seeing as the window of Super Bowl opportunity is closing around its current cast, getting a solid offensive tackle could have the most immediate impact — which is what the Rams need.
20. Dallas (from Buffalo)
9
7
.512
Roddy White, WR, UAB — The Cowboys have several directions in which to go with this pick, but wide receiver is clearly the most pressing need. With an aging unit led by Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn (who was injured last year), Dallas has to find another weapon for new quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the first round. Thus, if our mock plays itself out, Dallas will have already picked up DE/OLB Shawne Merriman, and the organization will then likely look to help their offense with their second first-rounder. White, a 6-2 wide receiver out of Alabama-Birmingham, has been catching the eyes of scouts around the league this offseason, and the Cowboys have already shown strong interest during their in-person evaluations.
21. Jacksonville
9
7
.527
Marcus Spears, DE, LSU — The Jags already have a tremendous pair of defensive tackles and adding a pass rusher like Spears would make an already good unit even better. While there is a sentiment to grab an offensive tackle with this pick, the Jags are a team that has quietly built itself a solid defense and may only be a player or two away from having one of the AFC's top defenses — a must if the Jags intend to catch the Colts in our lifetime. Cornerback is also an option, but, as we have the draft falling, defensive end is the one position that will get pushed back. However, starting with the Cowboys at the previous pick, the annual positional run is on. Last year, it was wide receiver, where teams overshot (including the Jags) to make sure they secured one of the top ones. The same could play itself out among DEs this time around with the Jags again in the middle of it.
22. Baltimore
9
7
.551
Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma — With the Ravens moving to a 4-3 alignment this year, they need to stock up on defensive line help wherever they can — both in the form of starters and players to provide depth. Cody's stock has taken a dive with some teams concerned about his bouts with clinical depression that has resulted in Cody being on medication. Recent examples of such players include Dimitrius Underwood and Barrett Robbins. This isn't to say that Cody fits in their bipolar category, but it is a red flag that has some scouts dropping him all the way into the second round. Yet, his talent is such that he would have been a top-15 pick otherwise and shouldn't be too much to scare off the Ravens, who are undergoing a defensive overhaul that could make them even more dangerous on the defensive side of the ball.
23. Seattle
9
7
.445
David Pollack, DE, Georgia — The team lost starter Chike Okeafor and injuries to Grant Wistrom make this pick a must for the Seahawks. While we have this as the fourth straight defensive end to go off the board, Pollack is far from a consolation prize. He is a bit undersized, but brings a lot of the same qualities that Wistrom brings to the table — relentless pursuit and speed to break up plays or force ill-advised passes. With the Seahawks still relatively set on offense after making sure Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones didn't get away, taking care of the defense is priority No. 1 on draft day and Pollack will be an excellent start in revamping a unit that got exploited regularly after a hot start last season.
24. Green Bay
10
6
.457
Brodney Poole, S, Oklahoma — The need for safety arose when Darren Sharper refused to take a pay cut, was released and signed on with the Vikings. Although no longer a dominant force, Sharper had savvy and a nose for the ball. Poole will have to pick and choose his way around. The Packers also have open holes on the offensive line that need addressing, but Poole is viewed by many scouts as the total package you look for in a safety — many positives and no glaring negatives. He's a player that could step in and be an immediate starter, which would be an upgrade from last year's team. With the loss of both starting guards, Virginia's Elton Brown could be an option here. With a priority being placed on protecting the returning Brett Favre, Brown could get some long and serious consideration.
25. Denver
10
6
.484
Matt Roth, DE, Iowa — Mike Shanahan never tips his hand about his draft picks, which some see as a sign of arrogance and/or paranoia. Another team contemplating a move to a 3-4 base set, the team signed DT Gerard Warren late of the Browns to be an inside presence. The Broncos made a serious bid at free agent Reggie Hayward of the Jags, but lost out — showing the team's willingness to spend big money for a DE and a clear indication of the need for the position from inside the organization. If anything, that was a "tell" for Shanahan and an indication that, if Roth is still is still in the board, he trades in his black and yellow for blue and orange. Fortunately for Roth, this is the NFL and not the fashion police, so it all works out.
26. NY Jets
10
6
.523
Heath Miller, TE, Virginia — The Jets survived a blood purge of players and coaches prior to last year and are confident that can get a little more mileage out of Curtis Martin. All that was missing from the offense last year was a playmaking tight end. Until just the last three or four years, tight end wasn't a position routinely addressed in the first round. But that has changed. With guys like Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., Dallas Clark, Jeramy Stevens and Ben Watson going in the first round over the last three drafts, a precedent has been set. Besides, the Jets have a history of taking a TE in the first round (free agent Anthony Becht) and Miller would be much more than a goal-line blocker and receiver like Becht has become. Having a tried and failed to steal restricted free agent TE Jeb Putzier away from the Broncos — only to have Denver match the offer — it's clear the Jets want a playmaking tight end and Miller is the best available in this year's crop.
27. Atlanta
11
5
.434
Channing Crowder, LB, Florida — Many credited the Falcons offense with getting them to the NFC title game, but it actually underachieved in many games. The unsung Falcons defense more than carried its share of the load and Crowder, lined up next to Keith Brooking, could give the Falcons more of the look of the Ravens than the NFC would like to deal with. The team could use help on the O-line and a big-time wide receiver wouldn't hurt, but Crowder meets a pressing need with a perfect complement. He's only a sophomore, but looks to have the ability to make the jump.
28. San Diego
12
4
.477
Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington — The Chargers, too, have a need at defensive end, but with the run on DEs that characterized the last 10 picks, it's time to move in a different direction. It's clear that LaDainian Tomlinson is the centerpiece of the Chargers offense and left tackle Roman Oben isn't getting any younger. Barnes could be a player that steps in immediately and pushes for a starting job and, in the worst case scenario, he learns for a year as the team prepares to move forward with Phillip Rivers and Tomlinson as the faces of the franchise.
29. Indianapolis
12
4
.500
Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin — Another year, another chance for the Colts to draft players on defense. He's an ideal fit in the 4-3 defense Tony Dungy espouses and could help take some heat off of the constant double teams Dwight Freeney gets. Dungy knows his D-linemen and, while a player like Channing Crowder would be tempting if still available, getting a physical, quick tackle could be the missing ingredient in the Colts being a two-way team that can finally win the title so many have thought they could and would have by now.
30. Pittsburgh
15
1
.484
Marlin Jackson, CB, Mich — The Steelers have several needs, but cornerback may be the one position that needs immediate addressing. Jackson has good size, decent speed, and would offer the Steelers security in the secondary for years to come.
31. Philadelphia
13
3
.453
Reggie Brown, WR, Georgia — Despite the arrival of Terrell Owens, the Eagles still have a need at wide receiver. If Freddie Mitchell isn't run out of town (and he should be), there is still little depth. The Eagles don't have that many screaming needs and, with the level of talent at wide receiver again this year, it's time to jump on board. He has a good combination of size and speed and the Eagles need to have other viable options at in the receiver corps.
32. New England
14
2
.492
Justin Miller, CB, Clemson — The Patriots somehow managed to repeat as Super Bowl champions with slugs like Earthwind Moreland and Hank Poteat — both signed off the street late in the season — and wide receiver Troy Brown manning the CB spots. The team traded with the Cardinals to get Duane Starks, but that alone isn't enough. It needs depth and with Ty Law also expected to be gone, they also need playmakers in the defensive secondary. Miller is a physical corner with ample speed who also provides help in the return game.

* Dallas Cowboys select before NY Giants due to division tiebreaker (Giants led in head-to-head).


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