Kyle Rota's final 2006 mock draft

First-year Draft columnist Kyle Rota weighs in with his selections for the first two rounds of this weekend's NFL draft. Who will fall to the Hawks? Kyle's selection may surprise some of you...

Round 1

1. Houston - Reggie Bush, RB, USC

Really? Bush is being considered for the #1 pick? You don't say! Well, if Houston stays here they've already made it clear Bush is their guy. But I expect a trade.

2. New Orleans - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia

The player most likely to be a star, Ferguson is an outstanding pass-protector who is promising against the run. I fully expect New Orleans to trade out of this situation as AJ Hawk fills a monstrous need at OLB.

3. Tennessee - Matt Leinart, QB, USC

In case you hadn't been paying attention to the Titans, QB Steve McNair has been barred from working out with the Titans and isn't happy about it. Lienart might be thrown into the fire immediately and he has experience running Norm Chow's system.

4. New York Jets - A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State

I think Hawk is wasted in a 3-4, I really do. But if the draft unfolds this way, the only other play who fits is Haloti Ngata and that'd be too much of a reach.

5. Green Bay - Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State

He compares favorably to Julius Peppers, though without the publicity he deserves. Would instantly be among the best players on defense for Green Bay.

6. San Francisco - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland

A tremendous athlete, running as faster at 6'3 than many 5'10 WRs, he is also a fine football player and might be the most athletic Tight End to enter the league.

7. Oakland Haloti Ngata, NT, Oregon

He's a big dude. A really big dude. "Freakishly Athletic" is the best word to describe him. Doesn't that alone sound like an Al Davis guy? But get this! There is rumor that he isn't the most mentally balanced and fit person out there. Now you know he's a Raider.

8. Buffalo - Michael Huff, S, Texas

The release of S Lawyer Milloy has left a big, gaping hole at safety for the Bills. Huff dispelled some concerns about his speed after burning a 4.34 forty at the combine, and his big-play style could invigorate a defense that looked tired last year.

9. Detroit - Winston Justice, OT, USC\

Shocking the world, the Lions don't take a Wide Receiver in the first round. Justice has helped his stock after an amazing pro-day workout and is skyrocketing up the draft boards.

10. Arizona Cardinals: Vince Young, QB, Texas

I am not the biggest Vince Young supporter out there. Nor do I like Jay Cutler. But I think that Green would go towards Young over Cutler because he must honestly think that Warner can give Young a year to learn how to play Quarterback.

11. St. Louis - Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State

Bunkley combines excellent strength with an explosive burst and a relentless motor. It should worry Seahawk fans that the Rams now acknowledge the defensive portion of football.

12. Cleveland - Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech Williams was considered a top ten lock going into the "draft season" but after a lackluster showing at his pro-day concerns about his ability to play corner have surfaced.

13. Baltimore - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt

This would be a shock for Cutler. The Ravens have a decent offensive line and decent receiving corps. On the other hand, they do have a tendency to perform poorly on offense, just like Vanderbilt. Boller isn't the answer and the Ravens figured that out only a year after everyone else did.

14. Philadelphia - Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State Aggressive and fast, Sims is a perfect fit in Philadelphia. Linebacker isn't a particularly strong position either so Sims has a good chance of starting for the Eagles at some point this season.

15. Denver - Chad Jackson, WR, Florida

Rod Smith will eventually get old and either become useless or retire. And Ashley Lelie is little more than a glorified "go deep" man. Jackson could battle for the slot spot this year and next year he could slide into the starting lineup.

16. Miami - Kamerion Wimbley, DE, Florida State

Combining Wimbley with Jason Taylor would be nightmarish for offensive coordinators all over the NFL. Wimbley could also handle defensive end for the Dolphins in a 4-3 defense, which they do shift to regularly.

17. Minnesota - Bobby Carpenter, OLB, Ohio State

Minnesota won't contend for anything more than 8-8 this year unless they improve their LB squad. While it could be argued UDFAs would present an upgrade, Carpenter could anchor the linebacker spot for years.

18. Dallas - Jason Allen, S/CB, Tennessee

If he hadn't gotten injured he'd have been one of the top defensive backs taken. While many teams are worried about the hip, only one team needs their medical doctors to give them the OK before they rush to the podium to pick Allen.

19. San Diego - Tye Hill, CB, Clemson Too much sense not to make the pick. Hill is arguably the best cornerback in the draft and could start immediately for a Chargers team hoping to keep chugging along with QB Phillip Rivers at the helm. Giving Rivers some offensive weapons can be addressed later.

20. Kansas City - Jonathon Joseph, CB, South Carolina Kansas City REALLY needs cornerbacks. And while you should never draft for need… The Chiefs could start stealing guys from practice squads across the NFL if they don't get a corner. Joseph has the speed to run with any wideout and isn't afraid to support against the run.

21. New England - Manny Lawson, DE, North Carolina State While New England doesn't draft for need, my editor requires I pretend like I can accurately pick who the Patriots are after. The LB position was a question mark even with Willie McGinist, now it's a gaping hole that Lawson could fill. He also has a good reputation and hustles, which make him more appealing to the Patriots.

22. San Francisco - Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State

Man, for a program that underachieved this year, Florida State is sending quite a few players to the first round. Cromartie has the athleticism that the 49ers love, and is looking like he'll recover quickly and completely from the ACL that sidelined him in '05.

23. Tampa Bay - Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State

Joey Galloway was simply amazing for the Buccaneers last year, however he is older and will eventually lose a step. Holmes could immediately find a spot in the slot (where he would shred nickel corners) and step into the starters spot in a year or two.

24. Cincinnati - Chad Greenway, OLB, Iowa

While the linebackers have performed well for the Bengals, they need to bring some quality depth behind the aging Simmons... Chad Greenway is a fantastic value at this pick, and the team can still address their major needs (TE, backup QB) in the later rounds of the draft.

25. New York Giants - Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State

With OLB LaVar Arrington signing with the Giants earlier, they can shift to cornerback where Youboty could step in and start immediately for the Giants. Don't be surprised if they look at a running back with this pick, for depth and an heir to Tiki Barber.

26. Chicago - Kelly Jennings, CB, Miami

After getting carved up by Steve Smith in the playoffs, first and foremost for the Bears secondary needs is someone who can cover. Jennings has good pure speed and started 40 games for the Hurricanes. He is slightly built but the Bears should be able to shield him from having to help out much in run support.

27. Carolina - DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis

While the running back duo last year of Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster performed admirably last year, neither of them is a sure bet to be healthy. Williams is comfortable running inside for such a small guy and would be a big help for the Panthers when someone goes down.

28. Jacksonville - Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota

Fred Taylor just looked dead last year. I haven't seen anyone give the Jaguars a running back in the first but if Maroney or Williams falls this war, I can see them taking someone to back up "Fragile Freddy" and provide competition.

29. New York - Donte Whitner, SS, Ohio State

I didn't feel that we had taken enough Ohio State players, so I decided to add one more just to be safe. Whitner would secure a strong safety position that has been a hole for years now.

30. Indianapolis - Joseph Addai, RB, LSU

While he is a bit of a reach here, he has above-average speed, vision, and toughness. Indianapolis always finds a way to draft where they need help, so seeing Addai go this early shouldn't shock anyone. He is also a severely underrated receiver who can replace the receiving yardage of James easily.

31. Seattle - Richard Marshall, CB, Fresno State

The Hawks get a guy I really like with this pick. Marshall is a corner with good speed, agility, instincts, and he isn't afraid to help out in run support. Could challenge for the starting job (and in my opinion win) immediately and has quite a bit of untapped potential.

32. Pittsburg - LenDale White, RB, Pittsburgh

While I am a huge Deuce Staley fan, he can't stay healthy. Reports on White are mixed. Many teams are put off by him, others are willing to gamble on potential. The potential is enormous if taskmaster Bill Cowher can whip White into shape.




Round 2:

33. Houston - Marcus McNeil, OT, Auburn
34. New Orleans - D'Qwell Jackson, ILB, Maryland
35. New York Jets – Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State
36. Green Bay – DeMeco Ryans, OLB, Alabama
37. Denver – Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College
38. Oakland – Gabe Watson, NT, Michigan
39. Tennessee – Eric Winston, OT, Miami
40. Detroit – Abdul Hodge, ILB, Iowa
41. Arizona – Max Jean Gilles, OG, Georgia
42. Buffalo – Claude Wroten, DT, LSU
43. Cleveland – Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami
44. Baltimore – Daryn Colledge, OL, Boise State
45. Philadelphia – Thomas Howard, LB, UTEP
46. St. Louis – Darnell Bing, S, USC
47. Atlanta – Ko Simpson, S, South Carolina
48. Minnesota – Mercedes Lewis, TE, UCLA
49. Dallas – Taitusi Latui, OG, USC
50. San Deigo – Demetrius Williams, WR, Oregon
51. Minnesota – Daniel Bullocks, S, Nebraska
52. New England – Alan Zemaitis, CB, Penn State
53. Washington – Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State
54. Kansas City – Jeremy Trueblood, OT, Boston College
55. Cincinnati - Leonard Pope, TE, Georgia
56. New York Giants – Maurice Drew, RB, UCLA
57. Chicago – Maurice Stovall, WR, Notre Dame
58. Carolina – Babatunde Oshinowo, DT, Stanford
59. Tampa Bay – Tim Jennings, CB, Georgia
60. Jacksonville - Joe Klopfenstein, TE, Colorado
61. Denver – Dominique Byrd, TE, USC
62. Indianapolis – John McCargo, DT, North Carolina State
63. Seattle – Mark Anderson, DE, Alabama
64. Pittsburgh – Devin Aromashodu, WR, Auburn

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