Authored by Carl Setterlund - 29th April, 2006 - 3:33 pm
It?s the morning of the NFL Draft and news came recently that Mario Williams has signed with the Houston Texans making him the top overall selection. As I said in a prior article, this changes everything. The top 10 is reshaped by this blunder by the Texans. Watch at noon as madness ensues. RealGM will tweak their mock draft accordingly in a last ditch effort to get it right.
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1. Houston Texans - Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State
After Reggie Bush?s contract demands got too rich, Houston turned instead to Mario Williams, the impact defensive end out of NC State. Reportedly Bush wanted $30 million guaranteed money while Williams took $26.5 million guaranteed (6 years, $54 million overall). I doubt in the end that Houston ?got their guy? and even if the Bush party seemed unreasonable in negotiations, there was no way Charley Casserly should have let Bush slip through his hands. This is a monumental choke job by the Texans who could have instead picked up a defensive end in the second round like Mathias Kiwanuka or Tamba Hali.
2. New Orleans Saints - Reggie Bush, RB, USC
I questioned from the beginning why the Saints weren?t more active about trading out of number two. This is the first and last time I?ll say this but the Saints turned out to be much wiser than I. In Bush the Saints have the opportunity to plug in a true game changing player. His presence in the city will not only raise ticket and merchandise sales, but give the franchise a buzz around the country. Alas, early word is that Bush will not play for the Saints (a la Eli Manning with the Chargers). Even so, the value of the number two pick is the highest it?s been yet.
3. Tennessee Titans - Vince Young, QB, Texas
In this battle of the Tennessee brass it appears that general manager Floyd Reese has won out. Reese likes the fact that Young?s upside is much greater than Leinart?s. I think that that is undeniable but it?s debatable in the least whether Young will realize that potential. While I think he can play fine from under center, I question whether Young can learn the playbook. Obviously Norm Chow fills out a vote for Leinart, as does Jeff Fisher who wants his quarterback NFL ready as soon as possible. For better or worse, I think the Titans go with the pride of Houston at number three.
4. New York Jets ? Matt Leinart, QB, USC
Should New York stand pat and not trade up, I think they?re ecstatic about their options here. D?Brickashaw Ferguson is a definite possibility, as should be AJ Hawk. In the end, Matt Leinart at reasonable money is just too much to pass up. You?d question taking Leinart at number one or number two because the financial commitment is so great and Chad Pennington still sits on the bench with his bloated deal. Leinart is going to bring a buzz back to the Jets franchise. Curtis Martin, who was as close to a household name as anyone on the Jets in the last 10 years is on his way towards retirement very soon. Bringing in Leinart eases the blow because he is also a recognizable figure. Not only that, he?s a great quarterback as well.
5. Green Bay Packers - D?Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia
Green Bay was in a position here at number five where they weren?t quite sure which direction to go in. Do they take AJ Hawk who could help their defense get back to respectability? Do they take Vernon Davis who will give Favre another big target? The choice has been taken away from them now that Ferguson is available. Arguably D?Brickashaw is the best player out of this draft and should become a franchise offensive tackle for years. This is perfect because an infusion of talent on the offensive line is just what Favre and company desperately needed. Ferguson had been projected as high as number two to the Saints so Green Bay has to be happy.
6. San Francisco 49ers ? AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State
When Vince Young?s stock was at his lowest, he was going well after the 49ers pick. This meant one more talented player was off the board before San Francisco picked. Not anymore though. The Niners could end up trading up for Reggie Bush, but should the stand pat, they?re in a great position as well. Hawk is just the kind of franchise defensive player that San Francisco is looking for. He?s all over the field. This makes for a much smarter choice in this position. Later, at number twenty-two is going to turn out to be a much better spot to address the offense.
7. Oakland Raiders? Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland
Again, the Raiders are going to make exactly the wrong decision on draft day. There is a smart choice here and then there?s the Raiders choice. Michael Huff is a good fit in a weak Oakland secondary. He doesn?t blow assignments but also has a knack for the big play. Most importantly, he hits hard. Alas, the Raiders are the Raiders at the end of the day. I can read Al Davis? 95-year-old mind like a book. He has to be so enamored with Vernon Davis who admittedly is the most impressive physical specimen I?ve seen in years. While I?m sure about his physical capabilities, I?m not convinced he?s enough of a ?football player? to become a franchise tight end like Tony Gonzalez. At such a high draft position, anything less than a Gonzalez clone is a disappointment. Davis should create options galore for Aaron Brooks, but with Randy Moss and Jerry Porter already in the offensive huddle, I think there are much more pressing needs.
8. Buffalo Bills ? Michael Huff, S, Texas
Huff is the only elite safety in this draft. With Brady, Culpepper and potentially Leinart in their division Buffalo has to buy the best secondary they can afford. We know already that they value having a top secondary more than anything else. Could Buffalo wait until the second round and potentially pick up somebody like Daniel Bullocks? I think they probably could, and I like Bullocks a lot. Just can?t see Buffalo passing up on a guy like Huff though. This pick makes to much sense not to happen.
9. Detroit Lions ? Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State
Count me among those on the Ernie Sims to Detroit bandwagon. I think coach Rod Marinelli holds the cards at least in the first round. Sims reminds everyone of a young Derrick Brooks and I can?t say I disagree wholeheartedly. Marinelli who coached in Tampa Bay knows Brooks? game very well and if he sees a bit of his old linebacker in Sims, then I say go for it. The defense is what needs the work in the end. I tried to slot in Haloti Ngata here earlier just on talent, but really he isn?t a great fit in Detroit, which is why I?d go for Sims.
10. Arizona Cardinals - Winston Justice, OT, USC
Believe me when I tell you that Dennis Green wants to win now. All indications are the Arizona isn?t overly impressed with Jay Cutler. Were he a can?t miss franchise quarterback then I think the Cardinals bite, but otherwise I don?t think Green is all too interested in grooming a quarterback. Justice doesn?t have great technique but with hard work that?s something that can be fixed. The fact is that he?s a physical monstrosity at 6-6 and 320 lbs with very nimble feet and this only helps matters. All the physical tools are there and even though some point out character issues, I don?t see a head case here. After investing big money in Edgerrin James and Kurt Warner in the offseason, I think the Cardinals give their guys a little protection by drafting Justice.
11. St. Louis Rams - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt
Marc Bulger is injury prone and the honest-to-god truth is that even when he?s healthy, he isn?t the type of quarterback that brings you to a Superbowl. I?m not convinced Cutler is the guy either, but he?s good enough that the Rams give him a shot. Cutler has an absolute cannon for an arm and would work great with Torry Holt. He isn?t nearly ready to start in the NFL but everything is there for it to come together down the line. Brett Favre clone? Not quite, but I see a good NFL starter. Maybe even a good enough starter to bring a team to a Superbowl.
12. Cleveland Browns - Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon
I see Ngata as an absolute specimen who is going to be a stellar nose tackle down the line. Like many in this draft, he was only a junior, so he?s not coming out as a polished, NFL-ready player. He?s going to be learning from Ted Washington, the definition of a guy who fills up space. A year or so down the line, Ngata will take over Washington?s role and as said, fill up space. I can?t tell you how nice this is going to be for the Cleveland linebackers to have a guy like Ngata up front. He saw constant double teams at Oregon and we don?t even know yet how good this guy is going to be when he only has to take on one opposing player.
13. Baltimore Ravens - Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State
This situation would be ideal for the Ravens. Defensive tackle is one of their most pressing needs and here for taking is arguable the best tackle in the draft. We know Ozzie Newsome likes to stockpile the defense, and it needs it after all the blows they?ve suffered through free agency, the salary cap and aging. We also know that Brian Billick is stubborn sometimes and that he would still go with Kyle Boller at quarterback. With the likelihood that Steve McNair becomes available I think the Ravens go D over taking the last high rated quarterback on the board.
14. Philadelphia Eagles ? Chad Jackson, WR, Florida
I?ve heard arguments the Reggie Brown is coming on so strong that you don?t want to mess up his development by bringing in another first round receiver. Let me tell you something, when your receiving core behind Brown is named Pinkston, Lewis and Gaffney, you take another first round receiver. Jackson is a physical freak who is still a bit raw, but the Eagles can afford to develop him. McNabb has show he produces when given the weapons (Owens), now it?s time to give him some more legit targets.
15. Denver Broncos (via Atlanta) ? Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State
Denver hates Ashley Lelie and Ashley Lelie hates Denver, at least as of now. Rod Smith is 35 years old and 36 in under a month. With several other first round picks to address other needs, and likely no other good receiver available at #37, it?s easy to read the minds of the Denver brass. Holmes is just as good a player as Jackson and even produced far more on the field. This pick fits.
16. Miami Dolphins ? Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa
Everyone looks at the Miami roster and sees the weakness at safety. I personally think the Dolphins are going to give very strong consideration to guys like Donte Whitner and Jason Allen. The problem, if you can call it that, is that Greenway is still available. While the measurables aren?t all ideal (speed most notably), Greenway was one of college football?s top performers. This is too good a value pick for Nick Saban to pass up. No offense to Sedrick Hodge (brought in from Jacksonville) but I don?t see him as one of the better linebackers around and certainly that position can be upgraded. Greenway is an infusion of youth on a Miami defense that is at last beginning to succumb to old age.
17. Minnesota Vikings ? Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State
Fred Smoot struggled just a smidge last season. To be safe I think the Vikings start the run on cornerbacks and take Antonio Cromartie out of Florida State in this position. Now Cromartie has physical gifts unmatched by everyone else at his position in this draft, but he also missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Cromartie has almost no college experience, yet is ranked right around the top 15 on a lot of teams? boards. Why you ask? Despite his size (6-2, 208 lbs.), Cromartie boasts a 4.40 forty time. This rare combination of size and athleticism gives him the potential to be one of the few who can cover the Terrell Owens-type players of the world. He still need plenty of development time so Smoot?s job wouldn?t be in danger in the short term, but in the least Cromartie is someone who will motivate Smoot to perform better (or lose his job).
18. Dallas Cowboys ? Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State
Dallas is looking for that elusive, man of mystery to team with Roy Williams in the secondary. Bill Parcells simply can?t allow a repeat of last year?s secondary to occur. Last year brought a good pull and added a little something to the line (Marcus Spears) and linebacker core (Demarcus Ware). Now is the time to add something to the secondary. Whitner is an athlete, he works hard, he?s a playmaker, he?s everything in a safety. Like Roy Williams he shows that quality of relentless pursuit. Dallas could just as easily go cornerback here, but frankly I see Whitner as their guy.
19. San Diego Chargers ? Kamerion Wimbley, OLB/DE, Florida State
With physical specimen Antonio Cromartie off the board I think the Chargers opt for the value pick at number 19. Wimbley one of these new age, hybrid-types that plays the linebacker position but can also move down to defensive end for a couple snaps. Linebacker isn?t the most urgent need for the Chargers but forgive me when I say I think they would easily accept an upgrade over Steve Foley. After the success that met Shawne Merriman I don?t think there?s any reason for AJ Smith to think twice about taking Wimbley.
20. Kansas City Chiefs ? Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech
Kansas City is also in the hunt for a cornerback to go along with Patrick Surtain. After so many years of having a weak defense, the Chiefs have recommitted themselves to that side of the ball. There aren?t any wide receivers here to tempt them away from their objective, which is to finally complete that secondary. The only question is who they take. Williams is an example of how the mighty have fallen. Everyone had him at a top 10 pick before the last season and even recently many still had him hovering in that area. He can lack discipline sometimes despite his great gifts. With Herm Edwards in town now and several other leaders in that secondary this seems like the right situation for Williams to succeed. I think Kansas City is confident enough in their guys to agree with me.
21. New England Patriots ? Manny Lawson, OLB/DE, North Carolina State
Upon reconsidering, I think New England goes defense in the first round, even though DeAngelo Williams is an exceptional value pick. While he doesn?t have much gas left in the tank, I think Corey Dillon has a couple gallons, meaning he can make it through this season. Kevin Faulk provides that receiving threat out of the backfield that Dillon lacks. Simply, the need for a running back isn?t so great that I think New England commits to one in the early going. I really like Manny Lawson, the freak defensive end out of North Carolina State. This guy is big but he?s also athletic and fast. He runs a sub-4.50 forty and I think he has a lot of potential as a linebacker-defensive end hybrid. With Willie McGinest departed, there isn?t anyone to fill that role as the flexible pass rush threat. After all the press that top pick Mario Williams has received, many look over Lawson who is an immense talent in his own right. If Belichick, Pioli and the rest of the New England brass think his head is screwed on straight, this pick makes a ton of sense.
22. San Francisco ? DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
After addressing the defense with their first pick I think the 49ers should go offense at number twenty-two. I?m on boat that the defense still needs a ton of help but so does the offense. Somehow pressure needs to be taken off of Alex Smith so that he can develop. DeAngelo Williams is a patient, experienced running back who should work well with Larry Allen and the offensive line group. He is also pass receiving threat which only helps Smith. At only 5-9 some question whether DeAngelo Williams is going to be able to stay healthy but this guy is sturdy. To make an NBA comparison, I liken him to the Jameer Nelson of this draft. If the draft works out this way for San Francisco, they are the clear winners in my mind.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ? Daniel Bullocks S, Nebraska
Bullocks would be a surprise pick in the first round, but I think a lot of the safety from Nebraska. He?s even more talented than his twin brother Josh who plays for the Saints. Charles Woodson is off the market so Tampa needs to find a safety at some point in this draft. Bullocks is really a prototype safety and has both the physical skills and the intangibles going for him. He has experience, a high football IQ, good instincts, leadership skills, I just don?t see what there is to not like. With Jason Allen as somewhat of an injury concern this is a safer and smarter pick on Tampa Bay?s part.
24. Cincinnati Bengals ? Tye Hill, CB, Clemson
Let?s get one thing straight, the Bengals don?t need any work on offense. An upgrade on the offense line? Maybe, but nobody make sense here. Logically I think the Bengals go with a cornerback here, but the question is who? Scouts inc. from ESPN likes Jonathan Joseph over Hill, but Kiper and NFL Draft Countdown have Hill rated higher. I tend to agree with the majority if only because Joseph is rawer, riskier (missed 2004 with a broken foot) and even older I believe. Hill doesn?t have ideal height but is a playmaker and has everything else going for him. This is going to be Marvin Lewis? guy.
25. New York Giants ? Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami
I really wanted to say that the Giants would clean up the rest of the elite cornerback talent, but I think they?d rather boost the offense one step further. Amani Toomer isn?t getting younger and while Plaxico Burress is a Randy Moss type talent, he also Randy?s indifference when the game is on the line. Steve Smith?s hugely successful season last year is what I think gives the Giants the confidence to take the 5-9 Moss here. While most positions are deep this year, most of the receivers after him are large, lumbering types as opposed to Moss who is a true burner.
26. Chicago Bears ? Marcedes Lewis, TE, UCLA
Looking again, the cornerback position is serviceable at worst with Ricky Manning Jr. in the fold. In my expert opinion, it is the offense that is the most pressing need. Behind Muhsin Muhammad and Mark Bradley there is nothing. Either a third wide receiver or a tight end needs to be brought in. Sinorice Moss would have been a great fit but with him off the board it is tight end that Chicago turns to. A guy like Leonard Pope may have a higher ceiling but I see the Bears going with Marcedes Lewis out of UCLA. Although Vernon Davis has all-pro potential, I think that Marcedes Lewis is the best receiving tight end right now. Also, Lewis? blocking skills are underrated. This guy is a first round talent, and the Bears need a first round tight end. Any problem I?m not seeing here?
27. Carolina Panthers ? DeMeco Ryans, LB, Alabama
Will Witherspoon was so much more important to this Panthers squad than a lot of people realize and the hole he left needs to be filled somehow. Ryans doesn?t have ideal size or speed but he plays football. He?s everywhere on the field and has a knack for making plays. He?s a great leader who was the catalyst on a stifling Alabama defense last year. Seems like the right guy for the job in Carolina.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars ? Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State
Jacksonville?s trademark has become their defense and they can?t afford to let that change. The proper investments have been made in the offense and they need to address linebacker. Losing Akin Ayodele was a huge blow to the defense. I think the Jaguars wish they could upgrade defensive end here with a guy like Tamba Hali, but they just can?t go in that direction here. Carpenter was overshadowed by fellow linebacker AJ Hawk at Ohio State but he does everything right on the field. He may have been helped by all the talent around him but Jacksonville is equally as talented. And make no mistake, Carpenter is going to be a great player in the NFL for a long time.
29. New York Jets - LenDale White, RB, USC
It?s time to roll the dice in New York City. Curtis Martin has finally surrendered to age and is well out of his prime. The Jets are going to need a premier running back to take the pressure of the passing game and they?re going to need it soon. I could see Matt Leinart giving New York a rave review of this guy putting the character concerns to rest. White shouldn?t be fully healthy by the start of the season, but Martin should be able to fill in during that time. Were he 100%, White is a top 15 pick. I think the game tape puts this controversy to rest, and LenDale is going to end up being a steal.
30. Indianapolis Colts - Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota
The Colts are getting seriously bailed out by the teams in front of them. Maroney probably shouldn?t be available when Indianapolis picks but in all likelihood he will be. This couldn?t be worse for the rest of the league as they hand Bill Polian his new running back. Maroney is an intriguing prospect here and has the vision and cut-back ability that makes guys so elusive. In my heart I believe fully that the Colts will take the best available running back no matter who it turns out to be. This is going to be a dream scenario for Peyton Manning and the gang because I?m almost certain they were ready to take Joseph Addai.
31. Seattle Seahawks ? Jonathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina
This is a shock to some because Joseph has graded out as a mid-rounder for at least the past month. Joseph has great physical skills but doesn?t have the playing experience on the field. A 4.32 forty time makes him one of the fastest players in the draft, and as well he is a fluid athlete. I don?t see Joseph as being at the same level as Cromartie and I think the lack of playing time is going to really hurt his stock. Seattle can afford to develop somebody, but losing Andre Dyson hurt and as a result they need to address the secondary.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers ? Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State
Pittsburgh values its running game above all else. Not only do you need a running back in this equation but you need a talented offensive line as well. Jeff Hartings, while one of the better centers in the league, is 33 and you know what that means in NFL terms. Mangold is one of the best center prospects in years and ensures that the offensive line stays strong after the Hartings era. Underwhelming pick? Yes. Smart pick? Undoubtedly.
The clock is ticking, ten minutes and counting until the beginning of the 2006 NFL draft. Just know RealGMers that his article was finished at 11:50 AM on the morning of the draft. Hold me to these picks. We?ll see whether RealGM?s draft experts truly do know what they?re talking about.