#1 Houston Texans--------Reggie Bush RB USC
Needs: OL, DL, DE, DT, LB, CB, S, TE
With needs seemingly at every position, the Texans could probably help their team more by trading the #1 pick and taking someone other than Reggie Bush. Dominic Davis is a good, young running back. Nonetheless, the Texans will likely take the first “can’t miss” running back since Barry Sanders. He’ll be good and maybe great. That’s not so bad. Either way, the Texans win.
#2 New Orleans Saints---D'Brickashaw Ferguson OT Virginia
Needs: OL, TE, DE, DT, LB, CB, S
The Saints removed themselves from this year’s quarterback circus by signing Drew Brees. That allows them to avoid the roulette game that is drafting a quarterback in the first round and turn their attention to a position of immediate need. Ferguson is the best tackle in the draft. Just a few years ago, the San Diego Chargers were an abysmal team. They handed the starting quarterback job to Drew Brees, and then traded for Ladanian Tomlinson. The Chargers immediately became one of the top offenses in the league. The addition of Brees and Ferguson should make the Saints a top-tier offense immediately considering the weapons the Saints have at running back and wide receiver. The Saints could very well become Chargers-East.
#3 Tennessee Titans-----Matt Leinart QB USC
Needs: QB, DE, S, OL, LB, CB
It’s unfortunate that the Titans even have to consider taking a quarterback in this year’s draft. Just a few short years ago, Steve McNair was the best player in the NFL. Now, he’s a beat-up veteran who isn’t even allowed to workout at his team’s facilities. The Titans know that McNair is nowhere near healthy enough to be counted on past this season. Thus, they will take the best quarterback available in their mind. Leinart fits the bill.
#4 New York Jets--------Mario Williams DE NC State
Needs: QB, RB, WR, OL, DE, CB, S
Mario Williams is one of those guys that make NFL fans extremely nervous. The combination of a relative no-namer, who flew up the draft boards without ever really dominating for an extended period of time in college is often bad news for NFL teams. Think Mike Mamula or Justin Smith. Williams has all the physical tools. The Jets need a pass-rushing presence on defense. Williams is the consensus number one defensive end. The Jets will take him under a chorus of boos from their faithful.
#5 Green Bay Packers---A.J. Hawk LB Ohio St.
Needs: OL, LB, DE, DT, CB, S
Brett Favre said he would come back if the Packers were serious about winning. If they are to prove to Favre that they are serious, they would do themselves well by taking a linebacker that is poised to become the next Brian Urlacher. The Packers have been terrible on defense and have done virtually nothing to address the problem. Hawk is as close to a can’t-miss player as the draft will yield.
#6 San Francisco 49ers---Vernon Davis TE Maryland
Needs: WR, TE, DT, LB, CB, S
Nothing makes a young quarterback feel more comfortable than an all-pro, game-changing tight end. Trent Green’s career has been made almost entirely on the presence of Tony Gonzalez in Kansas City. Vernon Davis could use his speed and superior athletic ability to do the same for Alex Smith. The 49ers have needs on defense but the draft is a puzzle in which needs have to be weighed against the “best overall player.” In this instance, Davis is just too good to pass up for a defensive player.
#7 Oakland Raiders-------Vince Young QB Texas
Needs: QB, TE, OL, DE, DT, LB, CB, S
Like the 49ers, the Raiders have needs that have to be addressed on the defensive side of the ball. And like the 49ers, they will probably pick an offensive player instead. Judging from his physical tools and college production, Vince Young looks like a good pick at #7 overall. Al Davis likes taking players that are controversial. Kerry Collins and Aaron Brooks are a temporary fix, if that. Young would look good in a Raider uniform with the luxury of throwing to Randy Moss.
#8 Buffalo Bills---------Haloti Ngata DT Oregon
Needs: QB, TE, OL, DE, DT, CB, S
The Bills will have the option of taking an excellent defensive player at the number eight position. The Bills could go with Texas’ Michael Huff, or Va. Tech’s Jimmy Williams if they want to draft a DB. However, the Bills have a big need on the defensive line and Haloti Ngata is the best DT prospect in the draft. Don’t be surprised if Ngata falls past Buffalo though. The Bills have a lot of options.
#9 Detroit Lions-------Michael Huff S Texas
Needs: QB, TE, OL, LB, CB, S
Assuming the Bills take Ngata, the Lions will likely jump on Michael Huff within the first minute of their allotted time. Huff is just the difference-making defensive back that the Lions have been coveting for years. Huff has cornerback speed with a safety’s hitting capacity. In the first mock draft that I conducted back in February, I had the Lions taking Huff as well. Huff has been the pick all along. The only thing that could ruin the Lions’ plans is if Buffalo takes Huff instead. That would leave the Lions in the unenviable position of taking Ngata despite having glaring weaknesses elsewhere.
#10 Arizona Cardinals----Brodrick Bunkley DT Florida St.
Needs: QB, TE, OL, DT, LB, CB
Bunkley is another workout warrior that did more in the few months following his college career than he did in his entire career at Florida St. That’s not to say that Bunkley isn’t a good player. He surely hasn’t received the same media attention as some of the other big names in the draft. Arizona is soft on the defensive line. This draft is deep at the DT position so Arizona could wait until the later rounds but many teams have Ngata and Bunkley as the consensus top two DT’s in the draft. Arizona might look at another position but the pick will most likely be on the defensive side of the ball.
#11 St. Louis Rams-------Jimmy Williams DB Va. Tech
Needs: TE, OL, DE, DT, LB, CB S
Williams’ draft stock has been a roller coaster since the college football season ended. First he was considered the top DB in the draft due to his position versatility. Then, he started getting placed at the latter ends of the first round in various mock drafts. Now, his stock is back up again. The Rams have been terrible on defense with the defensive backfield being a notable deficiency. Williams will give the Rams the option of playing him at safety or corner back. That combination, along with Williams’ undeniable talent makes this pick a no-brainer for St. Louis.
#12 Cleveland Browns---Tye Hill CB Clemson
Needs: OL, DE, LB, CB, S
The Browns had a surprisingly good defense last year. However, Romeo Crennel must have done it with smoke and mirrors because the Browns have zero standouts on defense. With Lee Suggs and Reuben Droughns in the backfield and Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. catching passes, the Browns probably don’t need to use the #12 pick on a skill position. The pick here should be either an offensive lineman or a defensive back. Crennel is a defensive guy who would obviously covet a fast, athletic cornerback. Despite being known by few people, Hill will be off the board early.
#13 Baltimore Ravens-----Jay Cutler QB Vanderbilt
Needs: QB, OL, DT
I’m surprised that Brian Billick a). is still going with the Kyle Boller experiment and b). is still the coach of the Ravens. Billick is a good coach. Ravens fans certainly can’t complain about the Super Bowl he brought to Baltimore. However, Boller has been a disaster. Cutler might be the most overrated quarterback in the history of the NFL Draft. After winning nothing and accomplishing close to nothing at Vanderbilt, Cutler at one point became the top quarterback ahead of Matt Leinart and Vince Young on many draft boards. Billick knows that his fate will be sealed with the success his quarterback has this season. Billick would be crazy to put his future solely in the hands of Boller. Cutler might be too enticing to pass up at #13.
#14 Philadelphia Eagles---Santonio Holmes WR Ohio St.
Needs: WR, TE, DE, LB, CB, S
There’s no mystery as to why the Eagles need to draft a wide receiver in the draft. Before T.O., the Eagles had a big hole at the receiver position. Things are even worse after T.O. For this team to reclaim its NFC dominance, Donovan McNabb will need weapons. Holmes is an excellent all-around receiver. He’s fast. He runs perfect routes. He has great hands. Most importantly, he’s not T.O. Unlike recent years, the WR crop is not deep. The Eagles will have to take one at #14 or risk going with their current group for the 2006 season.
#15 Denver Broncos------DeAngelo Williams RB Memphis
Needs: RB, OL, WR, TE, S
Denver is weird. They value running backs far less than any team in the NFL. Yet, they consistently have one of the best running games in the league. It’s almost like the old adage that the best way to get a girl to like you is to ignore her. The Broncos ignore the running game and have unparalleled success. Go figure. Williams was a consensus top ten pick just a few months ago. In fact, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he will go in the top ten. Mike Shanahan knows a good running back when he sees one. He could very well take Williams with the intention of trading Tatum Bell for a top-notch defender. Crazier things have happened. On a side note, why didn’t Denver sign T.O. and Lavar Arrington? If any team can afford to do that, it’s Denver.
#16 Miami Dolphins------Chad Jackson WR Florida
Needs: WR, OL, DT, CB, S
Speaking of signing T.O., the Dolphins missed out big time on the T.O. sweepstakes. Miami hasn’t had a great wide receiver in decades. Although, I doubt Daunte Culpepper is complaining too much since he’s well versed in dealing with vocal wide receivers. Not signing T.O. might have been the best move for locker room harmony, but it wasn’t the best move for the win column. The Dolphins brass likely got a good look at Jackson while he was lighting up the scoreboard at Florida. Jackson has blazing speed and would give Culpepper a nice collection of receivers to throw to including Chris Chambers and Marty Booker.
#17 Minnesota Vikings----Chad Greenway LB Iowa
Needs: QB, WR, LB, CB, S
Ask five NFL General Mangers who the second best linebacker in the draft is and you might get five different answers. For some time, Mel Kiper listed DeMeco Ryans as a top ten pick. Ernie Sims has been projected anywhere from a top 15 pick to a second rounder. However, Greenway has consistently been considered a mid-first round pick. His speed and instincts are coveted by the NFL. The only knock on Greenway has been his strength relative to the average NFL linebacker. The Vikings need help on defense. Greenway will provide that.
#18 Dallas Cowboys-----Winston Justice OL USC
The Cowboys offensive line finally reached rock bottom last season. Larry Allen is no longer on the team. Julius Jones had a disappointing season running the ball. When Bill Parcells put this team together, he envisioned a strong running game and a dominating defense. He’s won multiple Super Bowls with that combination. However, the strong running game never materialized. The Cowboys need to address the offensive line. Justice is the best bet to go here if he lasts that long.
#19 San Diego Chargers----Kamerion Wimbley DE Florida St.
Needs: WR, OL, DE, DT, CB, S
Wimbley, like Bunkley and Mario Williams, has achieved more fame in the last few months than he ever did at Florida St. I have a hard time believing that all three of those cats will live up to their pre-draft billing. The good news for the Chargers is that they aren’t wasting a top ten pick on someone who may or may not pan out. At #19, they can take a chance on a guy whose potential could be through the roof. The only needs the Chargers have on offensive are at WR and OL. There isn’t anybody on the board at this point that’s worth the 19th pick at either of those positions. So, SD will address the defense and likely take a pass rusher.
#20 Kansas City Chiefs----Antonio Cromartie CB Florida St.
Needs: QB, WR, OL, DE, DT, CB, S
Kansas City needs to address their wide receiver issues. It would be a stretch to take a wide receiver at #20 considering Holmes and Jackson would already be off the board. But, they can’t live on smoke and mirrors forever. The more realistic option at this point in the draft is to bolster their weak and aging secondary. Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight hardly made a difference to a defense that has been perennially bad. I would not be surprised to see Cromartie go to Dallas at #18.
#21 New England Patriots---Manny Lawson DE NC State
Needs: WR, OL, DE, CB
The Patriots are one of the smartest drafting teams in the NFL. They usually employ the strategy of drafting the best player available rather than simply drafting by needs. Granted, they can afford to do that since they’ve been so good. At this point, Lawson is the best defensive player still on the board. The Patriots took a step back last season on the defensive side of the ball. The loss of Willie McGinest opens up a hole that needs to be filled. Lawson would be a perfect fit in New England.
#22 San Francisco 49ers---Donte Whitner DB Ohio St.
Needs: WR, TE, DT, LB, CB, S
I was surprised to see just how high Whitner has been rated by some of the draft gurus. I watched his entire career at Ohio St. I was never overwhelmed by Whitner’s ability but Ohio St. never had issues on defense. He may have been overshadowed by some of the other stars on the Buckeyes stout defenses. The 49ers would love to grab Cromartie at this spot but I doubt he makes it past Dallas and Kansas City.
#23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers---Marcus McNeil OT Auburn
Needs: OL, CB, S, LB
Jon Gruden likes to the run the football. He has two top-notch running backs in Michael Pittman and Cadillac Williams. The Bucs would love to improve the running game and provide protection for Chris Simms at the same time. McNeil would allow them to accomplish both. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs go defense instead since that unit isn’t getting any younger. If that happens, look for Jason Allen, Mathias Kiwanuka, or Ernie Sims to go here.
#24 Cincinnati Bengals----Mathias Kiwanuka DE Boston College
Needs: TE, OL, DE, DT, CB S
Kiwanuka was unanimously considered a top ten pick throughout the 2005 college football season. In fact, he was projected to go to the Lions in a number of mock drafts. Since then, Kiwanuka’s stock has fallen off a bit. His underwhelming performances after his college football career ended have made teams take a step back. However, the Bengals would gladly add a pass rusher of his talents at #24. Kiwanuka could end up being the best value pick of the first round.
#25 New York Giants-------Ernie Sims LB Florida St.
Needs: WR, LB, S
The Giants shouldn’t even bother looking at offensive players for this pick. The biggest weakness on the Giants is a sad linebacker corps. Being in the same division as Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells, the Giants must be able to stop a power running game. Ernie Sims is a first-round talent that would immediately bolster the Giants primary deficiency.
#26 Chicago Bears--------Leonard Pope TE Georgia
Needs: TE, WR, LB, CB, S
Even while the Bears were in the midst of the 2005 season, speculation was that they would use their first round pick in the 2006 draft on a tight end. In most years, the 26th pick is not guaranteed to yield a game-changing tight end. Fortunately for the Bears, this is the deepest tight end class in years. Pope is a 6’7 behemoth with wheels. He’ll open up the passing game for Brian Griese. The Bears are only going to get better on offense which is a scary proposition for teams that saw their defense up close last season.
#27 Carolina Panthers-----Eric Winston OT Miami (FL)
Needs: OL, DT, LB
The Panthers are one of the rare teams in the NFL that have few weaknesses. That translates into the luxury of drafting the best player available at a position that isn’t necessarily a weakness but could be improved. Winston fits the bill.
#28 Jacksonville Jaguars----Johnathan Joseph CB S. Carolina
Needs: DE, LB, TE, OL, CB
According to Mel Kiper, there could be as many as eight defensive backs selected in the first round. If I were an NFL team with a first round pick, I wouldn’t take any of them with the exception of Huff, Williams and Cromartie. The rest are unproven talents that would be better served as second round selections or later. However, I defer to the experts and Joseph seems to be getting some nice pre-draft buzz. The Jags need to improve on offense but Joseph might fit their needs the best at this point in the draft.
#29 NY Jets-----------------Laurence Maroney RB Minnesota
Needs: QB, RB, WR, OL, CB, S
In my humble opinion, Maroney is the second best running back in the draft. If I was running a team with a top 15 pick, I would definitely give serious consideration to Maroney. He’s a big, fast, strong running back. Those are the players that end up dominating in the NFL. The Jets would relish the opportunity to take Maroney at #29. I would be shocked if he made it this far but Maroney hasn’t received nearly the attention he deserves.
#30 Indianapolis Colts-----Max-Jean Gilles OG Georgia
Needs: RB, OL, DT
After Manning ho’d out his offensive line following the Colts’ post-season loss to the Steelers, look for the Colts to bolster that position. Gilles is considered the top guard in the draft. The Colts would love to take Maroney but I highly doubt he makes it past the Jets at #29. If the Colts were wise, they would trade up to the low 20’s to steal Maroney before he gets to the Jets. If the Colts stay put, Gilles could be the pick.
#31 Seattle Seahawks------Jason Allen DB Tennessee
Needs: C, OG, DE, DT, CB, S
Of all the teams with a first round pick, Seattle provides the biggest mystery as to who they are going to pick. Seattle really could take any of the next ten players in this mock draft. I originally penciled in Nick Mangold as the pick here but I think it is a bit of a stretch to take a center in the first round. The Seahawks could definitely use Mangold but they are in a position where they can take the best player available. DeMeco Ryans would’ve been an excellent pick but the Seahawks brought in Julian Peterson. Jonathan Scott would be an excellent value but Walter Jones and Floyd Womack already anchor the tackle positions. Sinorice Moss would be a good fit but the Seahawks went out and spent money on Nate Burleson. After weighing all of the options, the Seahawks might spend this pick on a defensive back and take Jason Allen
#32 Pittsburgh Steelers------LenDale White RB USC
Needs: WR, OT, DE, CB, S
White’s hamstring tear could be just what the Steelers were hoping for. Most NFL teams will likely be scared off by White’s injury and weight. However, if there’s a team that doesn’t care about a running back that more accurately resembles a bus, it’s the Steelers. Pittsburgh would jump at the chance to bring White into the fold. Once White’s hamstring heals, he’ll get himself back to his USC playing weight and shock people with his ability to run between the tackles and take it outside.
#33 Houston Texans Jonathan Scott OT Texas
#34 New Orleans Saints Gabe Watson DT Michigan
#35 NY Jets Nick Mangold C Ohio St.
#36 Green Bay Packers Tamba Hali DE Penn St.
#37 Denver Broncos Sinorice Moss WR Miami (Fl)
#38 Oakland Raiders DeMeco Ryans LB Alabama
#39 Tennessee Titans Darnell Bing S USC
#40 Detroit Lions Bobby Carpenter LB Ohio St.
#41 Arizona Cardinals Mercedes Lewis TE UCLA
#42 Buffalo Bills Daryn Colledge OT Boise St.
#43 Cleveland Browns Ko Simpson S S. Carolina
#44 Baltimore Ravens Davin Joseph OG Oklahoma
#45 Philadelphia Eagles Jesse Mahelona DT Tennessee
#46 St. Louis Rams Andrew Whitworth OT LSU
#47 Atlanta Falcons Taitusi Latui OG USC
#48 Minnesota Vikings Richard Marshall CB Fresno St.
#49 Dallas Cowboys D'Qwell Jackson LB Maryland
#50 San Diego Chargers Claude Wroten DT LSU
#51 Minnesota Vikings Joseph Addai RB LSU
#52 New England Patriots Martin Nance WR Miami (OH)
#53 Washington Redskins Rodrique Wright DT Texas
#54 Kansas City Chiefs Charles Spencer OG Pittsburgh
#55 Cincinnati Bengals Charles Gordon CB Kansas
#56 New York Giants Daniel Bullocks S Nebraska
#57 Chicago Bears Abdul Hodge LB Iowa
#58 Carolina Panthers Rocky McIntosh LB Miami (FL)
#59 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thomas Howard LB UTEP
#60 Jacksonville Jaguars Dominique Byrd TE USC
#61 Denver Broncos Anthony Fasano TE Notre Dame
#62 Indianapolis Colts Babatunde Oshinowo DT Stanford
#63 Seattle Seahawks Orien Harris DT Miami (FL)
#64 Pittsburgh Steelers Kelly Jennings CB Miami (FL)
#65 Houston Texans Greg Eslinger C Minnesota
#66 Houston Texans Kai Parham LB Virginia
#67 Green Bay Packers Ryan O'Callaghan OT California
#68 Denver Broncos Ashton Youboty CB Ohio St.
#69 Oakland Raiders Kyle Williams DT LSU
#70 Buffalo Bills Brodie Croyle QB Alabama
#71 NY Jets Derek Hagan WR Arizona St.
#72 Arizona Cardinals Cedric Griffin CB Texas
#73 Buffalo Bills Bernard Pollard S Purdue
#74 Detroit Lions Jeremy Trueblood OT Boston College
#75 New England Patriots Maurice Drew RB UCLA
#76 Philadelphia Eagles Ray Edwards DE Purdue
#77 St. Louis Rams Johnathan Lewis DT Va. Tech
#78 Cleveland Browns Darryl Tapp DE Va. Tech
#79 Atlanta Falcons Danieal Manning CB Abiline Christian
#80 Dallas Cowboys Roman Harper S Alabama
#81 San Diego Chargers Gerris Wilkinson LB Ga. Tech
#82 Miami Dolphins John McCargo DT NC State
#83 Minnesota Vikings Charlie Whitehurst QB Clemson
#84 San Francisco 49ers DeMario Minter CB Georgia
#85 Kansas City Chiefs Will Blackmon CB/WR B. College
#86 New England Patriots Devin Hester CB/WR Miami (FL)
#87 New York Giants Maurice Stovall WR Notre Dame
#88 Chicago Bears Pat Watkins S Florida St.
#89 Carolina Panthers Dee Webb CB Florida
#90 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Anthony Smith S Syracuse
#91 Cincinnati Bengals Tim Day TE Oregon
#92 Jacksonville Jaguars Spencer Havner LB UCLA
#93 Denver Broncos Hank Baskett WR New Mexico
#94 Indianapolis Colts Brian Calhoun RB Wisconsin
#95 Minnesota Vikings Elvis Dumervil DE Louisville
#96 Pittsburgh Steelers Greg Lee WR Pittsburgh
#97 NY Jets Omar Jacobs QB Bowling Green