Draft Day is almost upon us. The Texans are on the clock starting at 12:00 pm tomorrow. Will their pick indeed be Reggie Bush and will they have him signed before hand? Where will Matt Leinart land and just how much money will he have lost off of his rookie contract from his return to college? Will any top prospect fall far out of the first round? To find out you will have to wait until tomorrow, but in the meantime take a gander at my predictions and enjoy.
1st Pick: Houston Texans
Reggie Bush [RB | USC | Junior | 5-10 7/8 | 201 | 4.33]
The Texans have been sending out smokescreens that they might consider Mario Williams at this spot in an attempt to lower Reggie Bush’s asking price. Make no mistake, Bush is their choice, though I question the move. Some believe Bush to be the next Barry Sanders or Gale Sayers. To me he just seems to be Brian Westbrook of the Eagles sans injuries. A nice player, but first overall to a team with a solid young running back already in Domanick Davis and many, many other needs?
If I was making this pick it would be D’Brickashaw Ferguson to give David Carr that protection he has needed for four years or see if a team was willing to pull a Ricky Williams and trade their entire draft for Reggie Bush. Yet for some reason I am not the general manager of the Texans and they will choose Bush.
Other Options: Not Mario Williams
2nd Pick: New Orleans Saints
D’Brickashaw Ferguson [OT | Virginia | Senior | 6-6 | 305 | 5.07]
For some reason they have been sending signals that they might still consider Leinart at this spot despite the millions just doled out to Drew Brees. Consider this another smokescreen meant to increase interest in trading up to this spot to team teams that long for Leinart. Instead the decision will come down to Mario Williams or D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Considering they already have two solid young defensive ends in Will Smith and Charles Grant, and the need to protect their investment in Brees, Ferguson will be the choice.
Other Options: Mario Williams, trade to a Vince Young or Matt Leinart hungry team
3rd Pick: Tennessee Titans
Vince Young [QB | Texas | Junior | 6-5 | 229 | 4.57]
The choice of Matt Leinart or Vince Young with this pick will send a few signals. The first, this will depend on the ongoing process to restructure Steve McNair’s contract. If that process is not going will, Leinart could well be the choice, for he would be far more apt to step in immediately and start for basically the offense he used in college. However, if McNair’s contract situation is looking fine, then the team can select Young with the knowledge that he could sit for a year or two and learn from his friend McNair.
There are also some organizational lines being drawn base on this pick, Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow obviously prefers Leinart having coached him college previously. Head Coach Jeff Fisher has thrown his support behind Chow. On the other hand team owner Bud Adams and General Manager Floyd Reese favor Young. If Young is indeed the choice, not only will it look good for McNair to return, but it also casts a doubt on Chow’s and possibly even Jeff Fisher’s future with the team. Especially since the rebuilding process may take longer than previously thought with Young needing time to mature.
Other Options: Matt Leinart
4th Pick: New York Jets
Mario Williams [DE | North Carolina St. | Junior | 6-7 | 295 | 4.66]
If D’Brickashaw Ferguson is still on the board the Jets may consider the franchise left tackle. In fact, there is a good chance that if Ferguson is still on the board it is because New Orleans choose Williams with the second overall pick. This pick will basically come down to whichever one of those two is still available.
There may also be some last minute consideration of which ever quarterbacks remain on the board, however the Jets are not thrilled with any of them and are intrigued by the prospects of some of the later round quarterbacks, such as Charlie Whitehurst, Omar Jacobs, Brodie Croyle, or Kellen Clemens. New Jets’ Head Coach, Eric Mangini is of the Bill Belichick, find your quarterbacks later in the daft, school of thought. The Jets still have former first rounders Chad Pennington and his back up Patrick Ramsey on roster.
Instead, if available, the Jets will go with Mario Williams, the most exciting defensive end prospect since Julius Peppers. He is large enough to fit in perfectly as a 3-4 end opposite Shaun Ellis, and can even move inside in a 4-3 on passing downs. His versatility, speed and size makes a Williams are great selection to anchor the Jets new defense.
Other Options: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Leinart, A.J. Hawk, trade down and select Vernon Davis, Jay Cutler, or Haloti Ngata
5th Pick: Green Bay Packers
A.J. Hawk [OLB | Ohio St. | Senior | 6-1 | 248 | 4.59]
A.J. Hawk will be an easy choice for the Packers to bring some athleticism and attitude to their much maligned defense. Many scouts consider him the safest choice in the draft, though he would be the first linebacker to be drafted this high since Lavar Arrington went second overall to the Redskins in 2000.
Other Options: Vernon Davis, D’Brickashaw Ferguson
6th Pick – San Francisco 49’ers
Vernon Davis [TE | Maryland | Junior | 6-3 ¾ | 263 | 4.38]
Another easy selection. None of the other non-quarterback prospects rate as high as Davis, who should provide for Alex Smith what Antonio Gates provided Drew Brees. If Leinart is still available, the idea of just restarting at quarterback has got to at least briefly pass through Mike Nolan’s mind with how terrible Smith performed last year.
Other Options: A.J. Hawk, trade up for D’Brickashaw Ferguson
7th Pick: Oakland Raiders
Michael Huff [Safety | Texas | Senior | 6-0 | 204 | 4.34]
If the Titans take Leinart and Young is still available, then Young is their man. Otherwise, Oakland is in dire need of secondary help and Huff is rated higher than all other safeties and cornerbacks. He should bring a dominating, ball-hawking, style of play to the Raiders much like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu brought to the Ravens and Steelers respectively. Jay Cutler may be considered as well, but Oakland is just not that sold on his ability to win.
Other Options: Vince Young, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Williams
8th Pick: Buffalo Bills
Haloti Ngata [DT | Oregon | Junior | 6-4 1/8 | 338 | 5.12]
The past few off-seasons the Bill have lost bulk from their defensive line when Pat Williams and now Sam Adams have left in free agency. The 338 pound Ngata should help bring back that bulk. The Bills might consider Winston Justice to make up for the recently release Mike Williams, however Justice would be a reach at this high in the draft. If the new regime is not sold on J.P Losman, then whichever of the big three quarterbacks that remain will be considered, for free agent addition Craig Nall is not the answer and Kelly Holcomb is nothing more than a short-term solution.
Other Options: Winston Justice, any of the remaining quarterbacks
9th Pick: Detroit Lions
Matt Leinart [QB | USC | Senior | 6-4 7/8 | 225 | 4.80]
Matt Millen will look really hard at the highest rated wide receivers in the draft, but instead decide that if he ever wants to perhaps pick a bit lower in the draft, then maybe he needs someone to throw the ball to his three former first round receivers. Leinart, if somehow he did fall this far would be a godsend to the Lions, he could either start right away and save the team from the errors of Jon Kitna, or sit for a while learning from Kitna what not to do as an NFL quarterback. Drafting Leinart will also help the team get over the folly that was Joey Harrington.
Other Options: Michael Huff, Jimmy Williams
10th Pick: Arizona Cardinals
Jay Cutler [QB | Vanderbilt | Senior | 6-3 ¼ | 226 | 4.77]
With Cutler sitting on the board during their selection, the Cardinals would be in almost the same situation as the Lions, with three former high-round receivers and a veteran quarterback past his prime. Well, at least Kurt Warner had a prime, not sure if Kitna ever really did. Anyway, if Cutler is on the board, then it just makes sense to take the potential franchise quarterback since the team is loaded with weapons in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson and now Edgerrin James, while Warner is not getting any younger, more mobile or better.
Other Options: Jimmy Williams, Winston Justice, Kamerion Wimbley
11th Pick: St. Louis Rams
Jimmy Williams [CB | Virginia Tech | Senior | 6-2 3/8 | 213 | 4.41]
Like always, the Rams are in need of defensive help, especially in the secondary. Currently their strategy has been quantity over quality, but with the selection of Jimmy Williams the quality should improve. Williams has the potential to play any of the secondary positions, and should initially be tried at corner and moved to safety only if his coverage skills are founding lacking.
Other Options: Ernie Sims, Donte Whitner, Jason Allen, Jay Cutler
12th Pick: Cleveland Browns
Kamerion Wimbley [OLB | Florida St. | Senior | 6-3 7/8 | 248 | 4.61]
The Browns have already added Willie McGinest in free agency, however he is up there in years, and can provide some great mentoring. Wimbley entered college at only 210 pounds and can still even add more bulk to truly fit into the outside linebacker spot in the Brown’s 3-4 defense.
Other Options: Manny Lawson, Donte Whitner
13th Pick: Baltimore Ravens
Donte Whitner [Safety | Ohio St. | Junior | 5-10 1/8 | 204 | 4.40]
The Ravens lost safety Will Demps to the Giants in free agency, and could fill his spot next to Ed Reed with Whitner who has demonstrated excellent speed and quickness. Imagine two athletic, ball-hawking safeties patrolling the secondary of the Baltimore defense. Scary. The Ravens are in need of a defensive tackle to protect Ray Lewis, and if Ngata is on the board will seriously consider him. Brodrick Bunkley on the other hand is not in the mold of wide-bodied run-stuffers that the Ravens desire, and will be passed by.
Other Options: Haloti Ngata, Kamerion Wimbley
14th Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
Brodrick Bunkley [DT | Florida St. | Senior | 6-2 ¾ | 306 | 4.94]
Bunkley should fill the gap that Corey Simon left when he moved onto Indianapolis and that Darwin Walker’s recent ineffectiveness has created. Bunkley is the active defensive tackle type, and can provide an inside pass rush and pressure. Andy Reid loves concentrating on the trenches in the first round and if a defensive tackle is not available he will consider Winston Justice to groom to replace Tra Thomas.
Other Options: Winston Justice, Ernie Sims
15th Pick: Denver Broncos (via Atlanta Falcons)
Chad Jackson [WR | Florida | Junior | 6-0 7/8 | 213 | 4.32]
Ashlie Lelie has not provided the consistent playmaking threat the Bronco’s desire and Rod Smith is entering NFL AARP territory. Chad Jackson combine workout and size might push him ahead of the smaller Santonio Holmes in the Bronco’s evaluation. The Bronco’s offense relies on the ability of their receivers to dominate in run blocking to clear outside lanes for their running backs. Jackson’s size should help him in this function, while Holmes would have trouble blocking against larger defensive backs.
Other Options: Nick Mangold, Santonio Holmes, Leonard Pope, defensive backs
16th Pick: Miami Dolphins
Santonio Holmes [WR | Ohio St. | Junior | 5-10 5/8 | 179 | 4.34]
The Dolphins already have size at wide receiver in Chris Chambers, and would not hesitate to select Holmes to provide secondary stretching, and playmaking ability opposite Chambers. The Miami offensive line is in constant need of attention and Winston Justice may hear his name called here, or they may consider upgrading their linebacker corps or secondary as well.
Other Options: Winston Justice, Ernie Sims, Bobby Carpenter, Jason Allen, Tye Hill
17th Pick: Minnesota Vikings
Ernie Sims [OLB | Florida St. | Senior | 5-11 1/8 | 231 | 4.50]
Sims has been compared to another former Seminole, Derrick Brooks, in his speed and athleticism. Sims should bring aggression to the Viking’s defense, that features larger and slower linebackers in E.J. Henderson, Keith Newman and Dontarrious Thomas. If somehow Cutler would fall this far, the Vikings would draft him to eventually replace Brad Johnson.
Other Options: Jay Cutler, Chad Greenway
18th Pick: Dallas Cowboys
Jason Allen [Safety | Tennessee | Senior | 6-0 7/8 | 209 | 4.39]
Roy Williams has regressed in his coverage, and there is more or less a hole in the safety spot next to him. Marcus Coleman is at best a temporary solution. Jason Allen would allow Roy Williams to do what he does best, hit hard and provide run support, while Allen can patrol the deep field with his blazing speed. The Cowboys could also look linebacker, concentrating especially hard on versatile Bobby Carpenter.
Other Options: Bobby Carpenter, Donte Whitner, Jason Allen
19th Pick: San Diego Chargers
Winston Justice [OT | USC | Junior | 6-6 1/8 | 319 | 5.15]
The Chargers would be elated if Justice fell to them, it is always nice to upgrade the offensive line, especially with a new young quarterback in Phillip Rivers. Providing him with as much time in his decisions and reeds is key. Keenan McCardell is getting up in age and his replacement needs to be found, however Marty Shottenheimer has always been reluctant to invest first round picks in wide receivers.
Other Options: Chad Jackson, Santonio Holmes, Sinorice Moss, any of the many defensive backs
20th Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Antonio Cromartie [CB | Florida St. | Junior | 6-2 1/8 | 208 | 4.41]
The Chiefs still need help on their defense and despite the addition of Patrick Surtain last year, the secondary is still in need of addition. If Cromartie cannot handle corner he has the versatility and size to transition to safety and provide the coverage that Sam Knight lacks.
Other Options: any of the many defensive backs
21st Pick: New England Patriots
Bobby Carpenter [OLB | Ohio St. | Senior | 6-2 ½ | 256 | 4.66]
Versatility has always been the cornerstone of the Patriots’ draft plans. Carpenter, former teammate of A.J. Hawk, has the ability to play outside linebacker in the 4-3, 3-4 or put his hand down and attack the quarterback as an edge rusher. Carpenter could help to ease the loss of McGinest. Bill Belichick has been reluctant to draft linebackers this high before, but he may just make an exception for Carpenter.
The Patriots secondary woes have been well documented the past few years, and that is a deep position at this part of the draft. The Patriots could also look at running back here, as Corey Dillon has lost some of his effectiveness and has reached the age where running backs decline.
Other Options: DeAngelo Williams, Laurence Maroney, Jason Allen, Tye Hill, Jonathan Joseph
22nd Pick: San Francisco 49’ers (via Washington by way of Denver)
Manny Lawson [DE/OLB | North Carolina St. | Senior | 6-5 3/8 | 241 | 4.43]
The 49’ers lost both of their outside linebackers in Julian Peterson and Andre Carter. If their first draft selection does not net A.J. Hawk, look for them to concentrate on that position. Lawson is a prototypical outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme of Mike Nolan, and would fit in perfectly with what the team needs.
Other Options: Jonathan Joseph, Tye Hill, Chad Greenway
23rd Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marcus McNeill [OT | Auburn | Senior | 6-7 5/8 | 336 | 5.07]
Despite having one of the great offensive line coaches in Bill Muir as offensive coordinator, the Buccaneers lines is annually maligned. This may cause them to reach for McNeill who comes with medical worries focused on his back and spine. If he remains healthy, he could be a steal at this spot for his physical presence, long arms, wide base, and intimidating style, but that is a big if.
Other options: Tye Hill, Jonathan Joseph, Eric Winston
24th Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
Tye Hill [CB | Clemson | Senior | 5-9 5/8 | 185 | 4.30]
The Bengals have needs mainly at tight end and secondary. Tight end does not hold value from this draft position, however there are plenty of corners and safeties rated this high. Tye Hill is actually rated by some as the best corner, and is easily the best cover corner in the draft.
Other Options: Jonathan Joseph, Leonard Pope, Marcedes Lewis
25th Pick: New York Giants
Jonathan Joseph [CB | South Carolina | Junior | 5-11 | 193 | 4.31]
The Giants had needs at linebacker and corner, and have signed Lavar Arrington and Sam Maddison to help some of that need. However, adding a young player in those positions is still a priority. Joseph should eventually succeed Maddison at corner opposite Corey Webster to give the Giants a dynamic pair of young corners. If for some reason Jackson or Holmes fell, the Giants would jump on the chance to draft the speedsters. They may also look at running backs as they are dangerously thin in their depth at that position, with little behind Tiki Barber.
Other Options: Chad Greenway, DeAngelo Williams, Lendale White
26th Pick: Chicago Bears
Leonard Pope [TE | Georgia | Junior | 6-7 ¾ | 258 | 4.62]
The Bears return all 22 of their starters from last season, and have all defensive starters but Lance Briggs under their control through 2007. They will look to gather more picks for depth by trading down from here, but if they do remain at 26, tight end or corner will be priorities. The run on defensive backs have left less value at that position, and Pope’s combination of size and speed is tempting.
Other Options: Jonathan Joseph, Marcedes Lewis, Ashton Youboty
27th Pick: Carolina Panthers
Lendale White [RB | USC | Junior | 6-0 3/8 | 238 | 4.50]
White is the perfect big back for the Panthers system and he should function to insure against a DeShaun Foster injury or ineffectiveness.
Other Options: DeAngelo Williams, Laurence Maroney, Darnell Bing
28th Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars
Tamba Hali [DE | Penn St. | Senior | 6-3 | 275 | 4.86]
The Jaguars are in need of pass rush from their ends, and Hali, despite his poor forty times, has the size and push to provide that rush. The Jaguars could also look to find Fred Taylor’s successor or a potential starting linebacker.
Other Options: DeAngelo Williams, Laurence Maroney, Chad Greenway, Eric Winston
29th Pick: New York Jets (via Denver by way of Atlanta)
Nick Mangold [Center | Ohio St. | Senior | 6-3 5/8 | 300 | 5.05]
Pete Kendall is not an optimal center and would be far more effective as left guard, where the Jets conveniently are also lacking a starter. Mangold could step right in and start from day one. He has similar athleticism to the Jets’ former center Kevin Mawae and has been compared favorably to LeCharles Bentley. If the Jets select Ferguson with their first pick, their might be reluctant to invest another first rounder on the offensive line and would look running back or safety here.
Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, Darnell Bing, LenDale White
30th Pick: Indianapolis Colts
Laurence Maroney [RB | Minnesota | Junior | 5-11 7/8 | 215 | 4.47]
The last time Peyton Manning was forced to play an extended period time without Edgerrin James he threw 23 interceptions and had the lowest quarterback rating of his career outside of his rookie season. As much as the Colts offense focuses on the pass, for it to be truly effective it requires the balance of a running game. Maroney has similar size and running style to James and should fit right in as if nothing changed.
Other Options: DeAngelo Williams, Richard Marshall, Kelly Jennings, Gabe Watson
31st Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Davin Joseph [OG | Oklahoma | Senior | 6-2 5/8 | 311 | 5.09]
Lose Steve Hutchinson to the Vikings with a poison pill contract, replace him with Davin Joseph. Not exactly, but Joseph is better than any left guard currently on the Seahawks’ roster, and should not result in too much of a loss in production. This pick is not sexy, but is need and value. The Seahawks are also in need of help at corner as their last two signings in Bobby Taylor and Andre Dyson were busts and have been released.
Other Options: Jason Allen, Richard Marshall, Kelly Jennings
32nd Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
Chad Greenway [OLB | Iowa | Senior | 6-2 ½ | 242 | 4.75]
Greenway has fallen out of favor after posting slow times in the forty, however the Steelers have a tendency of finding value in linebackers and plays with question marks. Greenway should fit right into the Steelers 3-4 defense. This is not a need pick at all, but the Steelers also tend away from drafting for need. Many mock drafts have Sinorice Moss going to the Steelers as a replacement for Antwaan Randle El. Moss, may have the speed over his older brother Santana, but he lacks the college production and at this time is all potential.
Other Options: Darnell Bing, LenDale White, Sinorice Moss, Nick Mangold
33rd Pick: Houston Texans
Eric Winston [OT | Miami (FL) | Senior | 6-6 5/8 | 310 | 4.94]
Texans finally find that body guard for David Carr, a bit too late, if you ask him.
Other Options: Davin Joseph, Mathias Kiwanuku, Sinorice Moss
34th Pick: New Orleans Saints
Darnell Bing [Safety | USC | Junior | 6-2 | 227 | 4.53]
The Saints are always in need of athletes and playmakers on the defense. Bing is a larger safety, a bit slower, but packing a punch on contact and with a good nose for the ball.
Other Options: Daniel Bullocks, Richard Marshall, Gabe Watson
35th Pick: New York Jets
DeAngelo Williams [RB | Memphis | Senior | 5-9 | 207 | 4.44]
After many teams consider, but pass on Williams, often citing his small size and questionable durability as reasons, the Jets are ecstatic to find Curtis Martin’s heir apparent. Williams actually has very similar size and running style to Martin which allows the Jets to worry less about his potential for injury and durability.
Other Options: Gabe Watson, Joseph Addai, Mathias Kiwanuku, Daniel Bullocks, Charlie Whitehurst
36th Pick: Green Bay Packers
Daniel Bullocks [Safety | Nebraska | Senior | 6-0 ½ | 212 | 4.38]
In Daniel Bullocks, the Packers find the replacement to Darren Sharper, though over a year after they released him. The Packers could look at interior lineman here, either offensive or defensive.
Other Options: Gabe Watson, Claude Wroten, Greg Eslinger, Davin Joseph, Max Jean-Gilles, Charles Spencer
37th Pick: Denver Broncos ( via San Francisco 49’ers)
Mathias Kiwanuku [DE/OLB | Boston College | Senior | 6-5 ¾ | 256 | 4.75]
The Broncos were interested in acquiring John Abraham for his pass rush. Instead they will settle for Kiwanuku, grandson of Uganda’s first prime minister, who displays natural pass rushing abilities despite his slow forty time.
Other Options: Maurice Drew, Joseph Addai
38th Pick: Oakland Raiders
Sinorice Moss [WR | Miami (FL) | Senior | 5-8 | 185 | 4.38]
Al Davis loves speed, Moss has speed. Little more need be explained, other than the this could potentially allow for a Moss and Moss receiving tandem, Randy Moss having no relation to Sinorice.
Other Options: Charlie Whitehurst, Maurice Drew, Richard Marshall, Derek Hagan
39th Pick: Tennessee Titans
Maurice Drew [RB | UCLA | Junior | 5-6 ¾ | 207 | 4.39]
Despite his small stature, and he “plays larger” than he is, Drew would function has a good complement back to Chris Brown, and could even be split out to create mismatches with bulky slower linebackers.
Other Options: Derek Hagan, Josheph Addai, Richard Marshall, D’Qwell Jackson, Thomas Howard
40th Pick: Detroit Lions
Richard Marshall [CB | Fresno St. | Junior | 5-11 1/8 | 189 | 4.42]
The Lions are in need of secondary depth, and Marshall provides a good blend of size and speed with good cover potential. They could look at almost any defensive position, as they have needs throughout.
Other Options: Gabe Watson, Roger McIntosh, Thomas Howard, John McCargo
Sometime after the draft look for my review of each and every team. I had every intention of writing a Newsvine live draft journal however, I will not be at a computer for any length of time for I will be attending the May Day Music Festival. Perhaps next year I will grace Newsvine with the presence of such a journal.