OVERVIEW: As expected, picks started changing hands in the hours before the draft, as the Chargers shipped off the No. 1 pick in the draft potential bust Michael Vick and his $11 million signing bonus to Atlanta and the Chiefs finally caved in to the Rams giving St. Louis five picks in the first two rounds barring a trade for Aeneas Williams that will again make doing a mock draft a futile effort.
The key to the trade of Vick to Atlanta is that it affects both the draft stock of David Terrell and Justin Smith both of whom were considered at the top of Atlantas list, but not necessarily at the top of San Diegos. That switch in itself changed a lot of picks, as did the K.C. trade, which, barring future moves today, could land Michael Bennett at Minnesota with the 27th pick.
If no further trades are made by RB-starved teams K.C. dropped off that list by acquiring Priest Holmes Friday it looks as though Dennis Green will get his Robert Smith replacement. However, that will be one of many picks we see changing hands because of this deal.
This is our FINAL mock draft
update deal with it.
1. ATLANTA FALCONS (from San Diego)
Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech — San Diego couldn't pull the trigger so the Falcons did — trading three picks Friday to get the iffiest No. 1 pick in the draft since Ki-Jana Carter. Vick could be the next Donovan McNabb or the next Andre Ware — it could go either way. Vick has a world of talent, but as the No. 1 choice and the money that comes with it, he's a heck of gamble for a team trading three draft picks and giving up $20 million or more over four years for potentially getting just two years of quality starting action out of him.
2. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Gerard Warren, DT, Florida The Cardinals need help up front in the worst way and with only Mao Tosi and Russell Davis a pair of young marginal players at best as players with experience at this point, Warren is the logical selection. There may be a temptation to take DE Justin Smith because the team has also lost Simeon Rice, but the holes in the middle of the defensive front are one of the primary reasons the Cards are picking at No. 2 and Warren can help plug some of those problem areas.
3. CLEVELAND BROWNS
LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, Texas Christian This pick could still be a trouble spot, since it could be OT Leonard Davis, DE Justin Smith, WR David Terrell or Warren if the Cards didn't take him at No. 2. We originally had the Browns taking Terrell, but he could be the victim of many teams thinking the same thing — wide receiver runs as deep this year as it perhaps ever has and, if a team bypasses a WR in the first round, there will still be solid talent available in the second and even the third rounds. Tomlinson, however, is a player who won't be available when the Browns come back around and for a good reason. He reminds a lot of scouts of Emmitt Smith and that's a pretty good endorsement. Look for the Browns to address a big receiver in the second round and grab Tomlinson.
4. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Leonard Davis, OT, Texas — This has been a problem pick for us for the last month. The area of biggest need for the Bengals is at defensive end, where Justin Smith would be much more of a natural selection. But, with decent defensive ends available on the second round and no dominant tackle in the same area, Davis teamed with Willie Anderson will provide the cornerstones for the offensive line that the Bengals need.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (from Atlanta)
Kenyatta Walker, OT, Florida — The Chargers were praying that LaDanian Tomlinson was still on the board, but, with him gone, they're not going to take a chance on the health of Deuce McAllister and take the sure thing with the first of three picks they received simply not to take Michael Vick. Some draft experts think Walker is as good or better than Leonard Davis and, seeing as offensive tackles go high in the draft every year, Walker is going to get stolen away from New England and start San Diego's rebuilding process.
6. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
David Terrell, WR, Michigan — The Pats were ready to take an offensive tackle, but, thanks to the Vick trade, both Davis and Walker were snapped up in front of them and, with Tomlinson gone, their options became pretty simple — take the best gamebreaker on the board and that's Terrell. The Pats wanted an OT to protect Drew Bledsoe, but really felt the only value picks in the first couple of rounds would be the top two and, with them gone, it's time to try to build an offense — starting with a home run threat opposite Terry Glenn.
7. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (from Dallas)
Justin Smith, DE, Missouri — The Seahawks have invested heavily in defense over the offseason, but the chance to get Smith, the highest jumping player on many draft boards throughout the league, with the seventh pick is a gift the Seahawks weren't expecting and one that can help them again avoid taking a wide receiver in the early rounds of the draft — hoping to once again glean someone on the third or fourth round that can help make up for the loss of Joey Galloway, while still adding quality players to the roster.
8. CHICAGO BEARS
Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State If the Browns passed on Tomlinson, he will be the players the Bears take. They are in love with him much more than they are interested in Deuce McAllister. If Tomlinson is gone, the Bears will revert to their original strategy — build up the defense from the ground up. Reynolds can give Chicago the pass rusher it needs badly and there is no questioning the need. When we did our first mock draft, we had the Bears going defensive line, but, when we found out how in love with Tomlinson they were, we switched it. Now that we project Tomlinson to be gone, the Bears go back to form and take the guy they think can help the defense the most.
9. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Deuce McAllister, RB, Mississippi The Niners need a running back to replace Charlie Garner and keep the offense hitting on all cylinders and, while defense is the main concern, the chance to get a franchise running back is always a premium — especially at this point in the draft. McAllister has some injury concerns that have scared some scouts, but he has the most pure talent of any back in the draft and could help the 49ers keep their offense humming while they try to patch a leaky defense.
10. GREEN BAY PACKERS (from Seattle)
Koren Robinson, WR, North Carolina State — The Packers are looking to get help up front with the defense, but having Robinson still available is a little too tempting for them to pass on. With Ahman Green and Dorsey Levens signed in the backfield, young TE Bubba Franks expected to step up this year and Antonio Freeman needing some help, Robinson provides Brett Favre the deep threat he hasn't had since Robert Brooks was healthy. Robinson can flat out fly and he will test the deep arm of Favre and bring the bomb back to the Packer offense.
11. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Don Morgan, LB, Miami There will be the persuasive argument to take RB Michael Bennett, but, if the Niners take McAllister, the Panthers will likely shy away from taking the troubled Wisconsin RB. Morgan is a glove fit for the Panther defense and, while the team is not 100 percent sold on Tshimanga Biakabutuka, this may be too early to take a chance on Bennett — at least from Carolina's perspective. Morgan can fill a void the team has now and give them a viable chance to return to respectability in the NFC West.
12. ST. LOUIS RAMS (from Kansas City)
Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia — The Rams are going to have a big day, grabbing several defensive players, and Stroud is the first of numerous times NFL fans will be talking about the Rams and how they're looking to return to title glory. It may not seem like it now, but in the hours after this pick, St. Louis is going to make believers as they add player after player to help their defense and even find a chance to solidify the offense in the later stages of the second round.
13. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Richard Seymour, DL, Georgia — The Jags were hoping that someone like Kenyatta Walker might slip all the way down to them or they may even reach a bit to grab guard Steve Hutchinson, but the Jags will likely address offensive tackle on the second round and get a playmaker for the defensive line. Seymour's ability to play inside or outside is key here and puts him ahead of one-dimensional linemen who either too small to play inside or too slow to be pass rushers. The Jags can pencil him in at more than one spot and begin the rebuilding process on the fly.
14. BUFFALO BILLS
Damione Lewis, DT, Miami — The Bills are switching to a 4-3 defense and need a lot of help up front, especially in the middle. Lewis give the Bills a dominating player up the gut and helps put at least one live body at a position that one was needed. There may be a slight inkling to grab RB Michael Bennett as a potential gamebreaker on offense, but the Bills need more help on the defensive front if they want to remain competitive.
15. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Santana Moss, WR, Miami Sure, Marty Schottenheimer has never taken a wide receiver on the first round, but Moss is a game breaker the team desperately needs and, having him on the board at the 15th pick is a gift for the biggest underachievers of 2000. Moss can provide them with a breakaway wideout who can take over the punt return duties from Deion Sanders and make the Redskins a multidimensional offense/defense/special teams that they should have been last season.
16. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Andre Carter, DE, California The trademark of the Steelers defense has always been strong, speedy defenders who look like oversized linebackers or undersized linemen. Carter is a pure pass rusher who can help the Steeler defense turn up the heat on opponents and fits in with the mindset of players coach Bill Cowher loves. There has been a lot of talk about the Steelers grabbing QB Drew Brees here, but Cowher continues to stand behind Kordell Stewart and, by not taking Brees, may seal his fate as the Steelers coach if Stewart continues to play hot and cold.
17. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (from Green Bay)
Steve Hutchinson, G, Michigan The Seahawks could go for a wide receiver here, but the value pick is to grab Hutchinson, the best guard of the Class of 2001. He can give assistance to Job One on offense — protecting Matt Hasselbeck from defenders and giving him time to pass. The Seahawks will have made the conscious decision to again abandon wide receiver on the early rounds to build themselves up elsewhere and ‘Hawks fans won't bitch about making a pick like Hutchinson to get that job done.
18. DETROIT LIONS
Nate Clements, CB, Ohio State — Originally, we had Fred Smoot in this spot, but the combination of added height to take on the big receivers of the NFC Central like Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Marcus Robinson, Keyshawn Johnson and Antonio Freeman makes this pick more sensible. Adding to that the marijuana charge — albeit thrown out of court — doesn't help a player when a team is talking a seven-figure signing bonus — both of which are reasons we now see Clements being the first corner off the board, as the Lions prepare for a backup plan in the event Bryant Westbrook isn't 100 percent recovered from surgery.
19. NEW YORK JETS
Chad Johnson, WR, Oregon State Can you see the headline writers in New York drooling over the potential of the Jets getting Keyshawn's cousin? Just Give Me the Damn Ball II is in the wings. Johnson isn't the most polished receiver, but he has as much upside as anyone in the draft and, if brought along right with the help of Vinny Testaverde and Wayne Chrebet, he could become a star who badmouths Chrebet in his own book a year or two from now.
20. ST. LOUIS RAMS
Fred Smoot, CB, Mississippi State — In recent days the Rams have been bad-mouthing Smoot, but that could have been in anticipation of having this many picks and potentially acquiring a model CB like Aeneas Williams to tutor the trash-talking youngster. Although shorter than most CB's in the draft, Smoot has all the ability to be the best of the crop and will give the Rams another playmaker — a trend that will continue throughout the first couple of rounds.
21. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Jeff Backus, OT, Michigan This pick would be made moot if the team stepped up to try to land former Vikings left tackle Todd Steussie. Jerry Wunsch was a weak link on the line last year and the team is looking for an immediate replacement. Backus, while not as talented as Steussie, would come in at a more cap-friendly number. However, the Bucs arent locked into him by any means. They could go after a cornerback, a position Tony Dungy played as a pro and one where he has always wanted dominating players, but, if Ronde Barber is re-signed, that point could be moot. Another player being mentioned is tight end Todd Heap. The Bucs have added a lot of firepower to their offense and a playmaking tight end some say hes the best TE coming out of college since Tony Gonzalez could be the missing piece to the puzzle that makes Tampa Bay the most complete offense and defense in the NFL.
22. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin As impressive as the Big Three Colts are on offense, defense remains the thing that has prevented them from advancing in the playoffs. They made an effort in the draft last year to get that done, but Fletcher provides the Colts with a big-play corner who has faced some of the top wide receivers in college football and provides the speed and size to help make up for some of the deficiencies up front for Indy. He is going to be asked to step in immediately, but, if he performs, Jim Mora may actually taste what it's like to win a postseason game.
23. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Will Allen, CB, Syracuse — There has been some sentiment that, despite grabbing Albert Connell and Joe Horn in free agency, that the Saints should use this pick to take a wide receiver. However, the secondary is too important in a division that has some pass-happy offenses and the run on corners is at the early stage and, by the time the Saints pick again, too many quality CB's will be gone — making waiting a moot point. Allen is a big-time player that can step in immediately and give the Saints a solid chance to repeat as NFC West champs.
24. DENVER BRONCOS
Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA The Broncos were looking at cornerback before the mini-run started and realize that, by the time they pick again, as many as seven or eight more wide receivers will be off the board. While some might question taking a wide receiver when the team had two 100-receptions guys last year, depth is nonexistent and neither Ed McCaffrey or Rod Smith can last forever. Mike Shanahan knows that an is willing to use a top pick to address that area before it becomes a source of trouble. This is the year to jump on wide receivers and, for a team picking this late in every round, the time is now.
25. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Rod Gardner, WR, Clemson The Eagles arent used to drafting this late and, unfortunately for them, a lot of wide receiver have been picked from the tree. The biggest downside for the Eagles last year was not having a steady receiver corps to help in Donovon McNabbs progression as a quarterback. A player like Gardner will give him a steady target to team with Charles Johnson as the Eagles try to prove that 2000 was no fluke.
26. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Drew Brees, QB, Purdue In December, who would have thought Brees would be around this long in the draft? The Dolphins had to wait out the Dan Marino retirement with a collection of sub-par quarterbacks that look to be battling it out this year. Jay Fiedler doesnt send the fear of God into opposing defensive coordinators. Brees would likely be given one year to adjust to the pro game and then be let loose on the NFL as the official "next Dan Marino."
27. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Michael Bennett, RB, Wisconsin — When Kansas City signed Priest Holmes Friday, the writing was on the wall. Bennett could have easily been a top 10-12 pick, but, with so many teams locked and loaded at running back in the last 15 picks, he fell to Minnesota. The Vikings have always relied on taking the best athlete on their board in the first round — regardless of need — and Bennett is that player this year and the Vikings find their replacement for Robert Smith earlier than many thought possible.
28. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Derrick Gibson, S, Florida State The Raiders have the luxury of not being completely ugly at any position and, while some would speculate they will take a wide receiver as an eventual replacement for their over-30 wide receiver corps, getting the best safety in the draft is always a plus and, if the Raiders have proved anything with high draft picks, they aren't shy about taking the best player at any position — remember that last year they jumped on Sebastian Janikowski much earlier than anyone anticipated. There is a strong sentiment to take a tight end like Todd Heap or Alge Crumpler, but the Raiders want to stay at the top of their game and getting a top-notch safety can be a feather in the cap of an improved defense that could well keep the Raiders in Super Bowl contention.
29. ST. LOUIS RAMS (from Tennessee)
Adam Archuleta, S, Arizona State — The rehabbing of the Rams defense continues as the latest in an impressive line of A-State linebackers-cum-NFL safeties enters the league. Archuleta will give the Rams another young defensive stud that has the rest of the conference shaking — and for Rams fans, the fun will continue in the second round.
30. NEW YORK GIANTS
Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota The Giants never had a decent complement for Jason Sehorn at cornerback and Middlebrooks has the experience of playing against some of the top wide receivers in the country over the past three years. He may be a bit of a reach here, since many see him projected an early- to mid-second round pick, but the G-Men need help here. They may also look at outside linebacker or offensive line, but Middlebrooks would be a good value pick at this selection.
31. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Dominic Raiola, C, Nebraska In our first mock draft, we had Raiola going to the Ravens, but, when there was some question at safety with Kim Herring gone and Rod Woodson unsigned, we went with Gibson. However, with Gibson off our board now, the Ravens go back to what we originally had them doing — avoiding the problem of shuffling personnel on the front line. Raiola can step right in to replace Jeff Mitchell without disrupting the rest of the line and make the Ravens once again a favorite to repeat as champions of the division, the AFC and the NFL.