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Mock Draft, Version 1
by Brett Berliner (NFL)
Posted on March 21, 2006, 1:46 PM

ROUND ONE:

1: Houston Texans - Reggie Bush, RB, USC

Domanick Davis is the prevalant argument against this pick, as he's a good back in his own right, even behind a horrid offensive line. Thus, the best pick for the Texans is to trade down, but I like to do my early mocks without trades. As the #1 pick, you can't pass on Bush, even with the questions about his durability and size. At this point in his career, anyway, he shouldn't be touching the ball more than 20 times a game, and with his ability to avoid the big hit, Bush should be fine. He will live up to the hype - he's Barry Sanders and Gayle Sayers in one, and he'll instantly give the Texans a decent offense.

2: New Orleans Saints - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LT, Virginia

Although the Saints could really use defensive help, with the second pick, it's either Mario Williams or AJ Hawk. Williams is at a position of strength, DE, and Hawk is a bad value here, so I think they try to trade out of this spot. The Saints just paid a ton of money to Drew Brees, and although Wayne Gandy is still talented, he's getting old. The Saints have a potentially explosive offensive, and at left tackle, they should bring in Walter Jones Jr. and bookend him with Jamaal Brown, keeping their QB happy and healthy for years to come.

3: Tennessee Titans - Matt Leinart, QB, USC

Since it's almost assured that the Titans go QB at this point, Leinart is the best choice. Besides being the best available, he knows Titans OC Norm Chow intimately. He's a great fit in Tennessee, as they need a successor for McNair, and Leinart is probably the most sure thing at QB in the entire draft. While his ceiling may not be as high as Jay Cutler or Vince Young's, his floor is a lot lower, too.

4: New York Jets - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt

Although I don't like it personally, this isn't necessarily a 'what should the team do', it's a 'what will they likely do?' Although I think they lust for D'Brickashaw and will try to trade to get him, they pick a signal caller to make their fans happy, who will then turn around and throw him under the bus midway through the first training camp. While Cutler isn't worth a top 10 pick.. this is probably where he's going.

5: Green Bay Packers - AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State

Although I personally would have Mario Williams, the Pack appear set with KGB and Aaron Kampman. Williams is a Julius Peppers type, but still, Hawk is going to be a star in this league. He's easily the best LB prospect since Lavar Arrington, and he's nearly as athletic, but where he sets himself apart is instincts, toughness and intelligence. Hawk will instantly provide a boost to Green Bay's defense, and help them turn into a strong defense.

6: San Francisco 49ers - Mario Williams, DE, NC State

Williams is a great fit in a 3-4 defense at end, due to the fact that he's got nice size for a DE (around 280-285), helping him hold his own in run support, but his pass rush skills are nearly unparalleled. Super Mario should instantly have the same type of impact Peppers did on the Panthers, tying up two blockers on every play. If Williams does fall this far, he could easily be the steal of the draft.

7: Oakland Raiders - Vince Young, QB, Texas

This is great luck for the Raiders - they basically have nothing at QB, after they failed to acquire Daunte Culepper. While Young is unpolished, I can see him starting and playing decently in his first NFL season. His passing skills aren't great, but he shows good vision in checking down receivers. With the talented receiving corps that Oakland has, he can just loft bombs to Randy Moss all day while he learns the offense. It would be a nice fit.

8: Buffalo Bills - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland

With the Bills needing help at DT, there has been a lot of noise about Haloti Ngata headed there. I could see it, but it would be completely inane, in my opinion. The cutting of Sam Adams was followed by a quote by Marv Levy stating that they wanted defenders who could rush the passer, providing burst into the backfield from every angle. Ngata, at this point, is just a block eater, as his bull rush is often effective but unrefined, and he shows a lack of other pass rush moves. He can play, but he isn't a great fit in Buffalo. Davis is, however, as Buffalo's cutting of Eric Moulds leaves them weak at receiver. While they have a nice player at wideout in Lee Evans, as well as Roscoe Parrish, who is a fine slot receiver, they lack size. Davis will soon become a #1 combo WR/TE in the mold of Antonio Gates. To be a true all around player, Davis will have to develop his blocking, but his receiving skills make him a great fit in Buffalo and a great safety blanket for whichever mediocre QB they choose. If they go defense, look for Broderick Bunkley in this spot over Ngata.

9: Detroit Lions - Michael Huff, S/CB, Texas

Detroit obviously needs help at the DB position and Huff is the consensus best DB in the draft. Although I prefer him better at safety, due to his lack of blanket cover skills, even at corner he's a nice fit across from Dre Bly. If only Santonio Holmes were a little better value - he'd be a Lion for sure.

10 Arizona Cardinals - Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon

The Cards are VERY short on run stoppers, although they have a decent, developing defense. However, they could really use a big boy in the middle to help stop the run. Personally, my favorite type of defense is the "get two BIG nasties in the middle and let the other players worry about the pass rush", and if they resign Russell Davis, they'll be strong up the middle, at least on the line. They need linebacking help, but there isn't anybody of a good fit here, especially at MLB, where they're desolate. Look for them to hit that in round two.

11: St. Louis Rams - Jimmy Williams, DB, Virginia Tech

Even with the signing of Fahkir Brown, the Rams could really use help at the corners. Both Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler are solid players, but neither one is really suited to being a shut down corner. Although it's expected that new coach Scott Linehan would prefer an offensive player such as Vernon Davis, there isn't anyone that jumps out here as a great fit. Williams provides a physical presence in the second that the Rams are now missing with the loss of Adam Archuleta, and is a steal at 11. He only falls here due to character concerns, and even if the Rams are happy with Fisher and Butler at the corners, Williams may be a better fit at safety, anyway.


12: Cleveland Browns - Broderick Bunkley, DL, Florida State

Bunkley is a name that most fans won't be familiar with, but they will be within the next few seasons. Even playing inside in a 4-3, where DTs generally face a double team, he had over 20 tackles for loss and almost 10 sacks, which is fabulous. I'm sure the Browns would love to nab Haloti Ngata to solidify the NT position for the next 10 years, but Bunkley is a great player in the Richard Seymour mold, who can provide both a great pass rush and excellent run stopping from the outside. Plus, doesn't 'Broderick Bunkley' just sound like a Browns player?

13: Baltimore Ravens - D'Angelo Williams, RB, Memphis

The Ravens may be solid at running back for time being, but both Mike Anderson and Jamal Lewis are aging and on the downside of their career. While I think Lendale White would fit better into Baltimore's scheme, Williams is solid enough to be an every down back, and can even play with Anderson and Lewis, as he provides an outside, home-run threat that neither of their current backs bring. If the call was up to me, I'd take Lendale White, but the Ravens have been linked repeatedly to D'Angelo, and I think he's the pick.

14: Philadelphia Eagles - Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State

Holmes is the closest thing to a #1 WR in the draft, as he's steady, runs professional routes already and is pretty damn explosive. He reminds me, frankly, of Steve Smith, coming out of college. Although neither have prototypical height, they make up for it by playing their butts off and running perfect routes, setting up the defenders in an effort to get open. He's also played for the last two years with a mobile QB, Troy Smith, who has repeatedly lauded Santonio's unwillingness to quit on plays, making something happen. Perfect with with McNabb in Philly, as his skill will actually encourage Donovan to freelance more, making the Philly O even more explosive.

15: Atlanta Falcons - Winston Justice, OT, USC

The Falcons are suddenly a lot weaker on the line with the loss of LT Kevin Shaffer, so they've got to be ecstatic that Justice falls to them. He's a top 10 type talent at LT, who only falls because of a few questions about maturity. He'd be a great fit in Atlanta at RT, protecting Michael Vick's blindside (basically playing the LT position on the other side.) With a QB that runs as much as Vick, a versatile, quick lineman like Justice is a great fit, allowing him to feel safer in his scrambles.

16: Miami Dolphins - Tye Hill, CB, Clemson

I'm guessing that Miami is salivating over Jimmy Williams, as he's the perfect fit in their defense, but with the injury prone Will Poole their top returning corner, they need someone who can step in immediately. Hill fits the bill - he's NFL ready today. He will have some troubles in the NFL due to his small stature, but he tackles nicely for a player his size, and is overly aggressive, two things that leave Nick Saban panting.

17: Minnesota Vikings - Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State

Sims is a name that has been rising up the draft board a lot in recent weeks with good reason. He's an explosive, hard-nosed athlete in the mold of Ray Lewis, providing the strength and gusto to play inside but the speed to play outside. Minnesota could utilize him either place, although I like him more at the Will. He's got the speed to cover RBs and is a demon in the pass rush, but Sims will fit wherever the Vikes put him - even at safety if necessary.

18: Dallas Cowboys - Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Greenway, however, I see what he brings to the table. He's a big player with a lot of toughness, that just lacks the range of an elite prospect. Greenway would fit best in a 3-4 type defense, where he could provide 2 downs of good run support between the tackles, and then on 3rd down he can utilize his versatility to slide outside and either cover TEs and fullbacks, or rush the passer. He's also a Bill Parcells type of player, hard nosed and a hard worker. He just lacks the elite physical skills to be taken any higher than this.

19: San Diego Chargers - Chad Jackson, WR, Florida

Although SD's offense isn't hurting, they really could use a young, talented, WR with some size. Jackson's only 6'1", but their current corps is either short or slight, so he'll fit in nicely. He can make some moves after the catch, and although I don't see him as ever being a #1 WR, with Antonio Gates there, he'll never have to be. He should step in instantly as the #2 in San Diego and provide them with yet another threat on offense to help wean Philip Rivers.

20: Kansas City Chiefs - Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State

Youboty probably came out a year early, as he has the speed and height to be a top 10 pick, but injuries affected his play negatively last year for the Buckeyes, dropping him down the board. He's a smart player who excels one on one (he played Braylon Edwards tougher than any other DB in college), and Laurence Maroney will be happy to tell you how strong he is in run support. The Chiefs are getting a real steal, as after a year of bulking up and learning the D, Youboty should develop into a potential Pro Bowl type player.

21: New England Patriots - Lendale White, RB, USC

The Patriots have to be licking their lips at this scenario. Although Corey Dillon can still play, he's getting older, and they could use a back to eventually replace him. Although White is currently overrated, I believe he'll fall back down to the mid teens to early 20's area where he belongs. He has a nose for the end zone and good speed for his size, but I question his heart and dedication. Still, no denying he's a talent, and a good fit, at least on the field, in New England. If Belicheck can't turn him into the force he should be, nobody can.

22: Denver Broncos - Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State

A lot of people have Hali going to the Browns at 12, which I don't like. He's stated he doesn't want to play LB in the 3-4, and he's probably a bit slow to do so, anyway. I like Hali as a situational rusher for his first season or season and a half as he adds bulk to handle the run. He's got the strength and aggressiveness already to do so, but he will wear down as NFL lineman pound on him all game, so he needs another 10-15 pounds. After that, he's a potential All-Pro. Great fit in Denver, but I don't know if they'll want him, since he's never played for the Cleveland Browns.

23: Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DeMeco Ryans, LB, Alabama

Ryans was once projected a top 10 pick, but he proved at the Senior Bowl he's a bit light to play anything but Will right now. He's also a bit slow to be anything but a run stopper from that position right now. He plays much faster than his listed speed of 4.7, and is hardnosed and contagious. He'll be a nice fit in Tampa Bay, across from Derrick Brooks, helping the Bucs regain a dominant D.

24: Cincinnati Bengals - Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan

This is a guy I can't stand, personally. Watson has great speed and physical skills for a guy his size, and more importantly, he's intelligent. But he's also out of shape, lazy and gives only effort when necessary. He looked absolutely great at the Senior Bowl and in workouts, knowing it would affect his draft status. I don't think he'll be a huge bust, but I don't like the pick this early because of questions about his attitude. Marvin Lewis, however, has shown a willingness to go after players like this, as long as they can be worked with, and Gabe can be worked with. He'd instantly improve the interior defense of the Bengals line, too, which is big to them.

25: New York Giants - Ko Simpson, DB, South Carolina

Simpson is a bit of a risk, because he is so raw, but his athletic skills are so good that he could play corner or safety and excel. I see him starting as a dime back in NY, before eventually moving to starting corner, across from Corey Webster. He needs to improve his recognition skills as well as his ball skills, but he's got the speed and aptitude to make it. The fact that Simpson is so good, even in the SEC, while being so raw, means he has a good shot at playing in the NFL for a long time after he develops.

26: Chicago Bears - Leonard Pope, TE, Georgia

Pope is another risk. He will likely turn into an elite pass catching tight end in the mold of Ben Coates, but he's a bit slight for a TE, with only 250 lbs on his 6'7" frame. He might never be more than a situational pass catcher, but he will be very solid, and his height gives him a great advantage as a red zone player, which is one place the Bears need help. As long as he's not counted on to revolutionize the run game, he'll be fine. He's a nice fit in Chicago, and has the potential to be as good as any of the TEs in this draft, even Vernon Davis.

27: Carolina Panthers - Manny Lawson, LB, NC State

Lawson is a great fit here, partially because he's a hometown boy, but definitely more because Carolina needs help at LB. They do have Thomas Davis and Dan Morgan, but with the loss of Will Witherspoon, this is the weak spot on their D. I could see them taking Laurence Maroney, but it's a better deal for them to wait for one of the backs in round two. Lawson will provide instant pass rush help, and since they don't have a problem with bigger linebackers, he'll fit in nicely in Carolina. With the DL they have, keeping blockers off of their linebackers, the explosive corps they have could take Carolina back to the Super Bowl. Lawson could be good for 10 sacks in his first season in Carolina and Defensive Rookie of the Year consideration.

28: Jacksonville Jaguars - Mathias Kiawanuka, DE, Boston College

Kiawanuka was originally looked at as a top 10 pick, mainly because of his size, athleticism and determination. He's a hard worker with a great frame, but teams were disappointed when he had trouble adding weight and couldn't produce on a consistent basis against top competition. Much of the debate on 'Kiwi' stems from his pass rush moves, which just aren't there. He gets sacks due to his pure speed and relentlessness, but he doesn't have the ability yet to beat better NFL tackles. Kiwi can be coached to an all-pro level, but he does need a lot of work. However, with John Henderson and Marcus Stroud at the center of their line, he'll face constant single teams, allowing him to affect the game by getting eight or so sacks a year simply on pure determination.

29: Denver Broncos - Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami

I'm not a Sinorice Moss fan, personally. I think for a guy his size, he actually doesn't get separation so well - I've seen him compared to Steve Smith, and I see Az Hakim. He certainly has speed and moves, but he can't be a #1, and only maybe a #2. Still, in Denver, with that run game and next to Ashley Lelie, Moss is a fine fit, just a round too early.

30: Indianapolis Colts - Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota

This would probably be the best fit in the entire draft. See below for comments.

31: Seattle Seahawks - Donte Whitner, DB, Ohio State

Some think it's ludicrous for Whitner to be considered so high, but safeties like Bob Sanders are the rage right now in the NFL. Whitner is in the same mold - can cover like a CB but tackles like a SS. his weakness is covering tight ends, but he'll instantly be a strong SS in the NFL. He's shown the ability to get off blocks and snuff screens - as a Buckeye, he basically shut that down, killing the team's bubble screens and sweeps. He will struggle with the larger blockers in the NFL, but he's shown a killer stutter step to get away from big guys, and it should continue in the NFL.

32: Pittsburgh Steelers - Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State

This is pretty much set in stone, I'd think. The Steelers have been in aggressive heat towards Mangold, who they expect to center their offensive line. He'll be a great replacement for Jeff Hartings, and the team won't miss a beat. In fact, with Mangold's ability to pull, they should be a bit of a different team. He can get out in front of the back, he's proven, and they may look for a different type of RB in the future.

ROUND TWO:

33. Houston Texans - Marcus McNeill, OT, Auburn
34. New Orleans Saints - D'Qwell Jackson, MLB, Maryland
35. New York Jets - Joseph Addai, RB, LSU
36. Green Bay Packers - Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina
37. San Francisco 49ers - Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State
38. Oakland Raiders - Rodrique Wright, DT, Texas
39. Tennessee Titans - Max Jean Gilles, G, Georgia
40. Detroit Lions - Marcedes Lewis, TE, UCLA
41. Arizona Cardinals - Abdul Hodge, MLB, Iowa
42. Buffalo Bills - Greg Eslinger, C, Minnesota
43. Cleveland Browns - Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State
44. Baltimore Ravens - Cedric Griffin, CB, Texas
45. Philadelphia Eagles - Davin Joseph, G, Oklahoma
46. St Louis Rams - Anthony Fasano, TE, Notre Dame
47. Atlanta Falcons - Kamerion Wimbley, DE/LB, Florida State
48. Minnesota Vikings - Darnell Bing, S, USC
49. Dallas Cowboys - Richard Marshall, CB, Fresno State
50. San Diego Chargers - Eric Winston, OT, Miami
51. Miami Dolphins - Thomas Howard, OLB, UTEP
52. New England Patriots - Jason Allen, DB, Tennesse
53. Washington Redskins - Andrew Whitworth, T, LSU
54. Kansas City Chiefs - Orien Harris, DT, Miami
55. Cincinnati Bengals - Omar Jacobs, QB, Bowling Green
56. New York Giants - Daryn Colledge, T, Boise State
57. Chicago Bears - Alan Zemaitas, CB, Penn State
58. Carolina Panthers - Brian Calhoun, RB, Wisconsin
59. Tampa Bay Bucs - Deuce Lutui, OG, USC
60. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dominque Byrd, TE, USC
61. Denver Broncos - Maurice Drew, RB, UCLA
62. Indianapolis Colts - Jon Scott, OT, Texas
63. Seattle Seahawks - Darryl Tapp, DE, Virginia Tech
64. Pittsburgh Steelers - Pat Watkins, FS, Florida State

Big Risers: Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan and Chad Jackson, WR, Florida. Watson is gaining for no reason, other than he looked incredibly athletic for a guy his size. He's a big guy who can help if he's motivated, but rarely is. I wouldn't touch him before the first day is over, but he'll go in the first round because of an excellent Senior Bowl campaign. He's the type of guy that will usually rise on draft day, and then will not live up to expectations, but he can certainly help the interior of the Bengals line. Jackson is a guy who's been rising since the season was over. He's a Florida WR with injury concerns, which scares me, but he can play if he's healthy. He could end up the #1 WR in the draft if someone falls in love with him, since Santonio Holmes is lacking in height.

Big Fallers: DeMeco Ryans, LB, Alabama and Manny Lawson, LB, NC State. Ryans had issues at the Senior Bowl disengaging blocks, and just generally looked slow. For a guy who once was projected as high as 5 to the Packers or 6 to the 49ers, he's fallen quite a bit. I still believe Ryans will make a great player in the NFL, but guys with less than ideal measurables like he has aren't super in demand. He's a player. Lawson is a victim of draft circumstance. There could be a team in the mid teens to late twenties that's dying for him, but he doesn't fit a lot of places. His ideal position is linebacker, likely in the 3-4, but most of the 3-4 teams aren't picking in the area where his value meets his talent level, around 18 - 25. He very well may not last long, but both he and Bobby Carpenter are victims of cirumstance and will fall later than they should in a very good linebacker class. Mathis Kiawanuka is also a big faller, but he's been low for quite some time.

Worst Pick: Jay Cutler, QB, New York Jets. Cutler has a couple of things I really like in a QB - arm strength and a gunslinger's mentality. He also lacks a few things I really like in a QB - mainly decision making. Although he is a smart and dedicated kid, he played on a poorly coached team with poor talent, and ended up developing quite a few bad habits. When the Commodores got down early, Cutler let his disappointment show through his body language, and wasn't as much of a leader as he was when they surprised teams. He's got all the physical talent in the world, but needs to be going mid to late first, so he can develop and not feel rushed, but if he goes top 10, like he probably will, it could be disasturous.

If the Jets don't throw him to the wolves, he can become something good. The problem is, if they take him, they are going to want to play him too early. If they treat him like they did Chad Pennington, he can become a star in the league, but if they rush him, he'll bust.

Best Pick: Laurence Maroney, RB, Indianapolis Colts. Maroney is a questioned back, with little reason. He can run inside and out, and he'll be a great fit in Indianapolis. Minnesota didn't throw to him a ton, but he can catch the ball and make some moves. He's not quite Edgerrin James physically, but he runs just as hard and is just as hard to take down. The Colts should be thanking their lucky stars if he's available.

That wraps it up for my first mock. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions, concerns or comments.

-Brett



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