Saturday, April 29, 2006

The day has come. I've been a bit busy these past two days and the weekend has snuck up on me pretty fast. It is approximately T-minus two hours until the commissioner officially makes Mario Williams the first overall pick (the Texans announced last night that they had signed him) and the draft gets underway. As a result of my time constraints I will knock out the last twelve teams in quick succession.

21. New England Patriots: Laurence Maroney, RB University of Minnesota
The future replacement for Cory Dillon arrives in Foxborough.

22. San Francisco 49ers: Ernie Sims, OLB Florida State
With their second pick in the first round, the niners go for speed on D.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Winston, OT Miami (Fla.)
He is a bit of a reach here, but he fills a need and has great athleticism.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcedes Lewis, TE UCLA
Gives Carson Palmer yet another explosive target.

25. New York Giants: Tye Hill, CB Clemson
He is a stellar athlete who might go higher, but the Giants will love to see him here.

26. Chicago Bears: Jason Allen, DB Tennessee
A versatile playmaker, Allen will add depth at corner and safety.

27. Carolina Panthers: LenDale White, RB USC
He is a power runningback who fit John Fox's style, but can he overcome hi off field issues?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars: Manny Lawson, DE/OLB North Carolina State
He gives the Jags the elite pass rush threat they have lacked the past few years.

29. New York Jets: Nick Mangold, C Ohio State
He is the smart but nasty center the Jets need to replace departed Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae.

30. Indianapolis Colts: Bobby Carpenter, LB Ohio State
He is a versatile defender who will solidify the Colts linebacking corps.

31. Seattle Seahawks: Ashton Youboty, CB Ohio State
Back-to-back-to-back Buckeyes at the end of round one; this one solidifies the 'Hawks' pass defense.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sinorice Moss, WR Miami (Fla)
Moss is lightning fast and can be the deep threat with the departure of Antwaan Randle El.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

16. Miami Dolphins: Jimmy Williams, DB Virginia Tech
Miami has plenty of option to fill their myriad needs at this spot. They need a corner and Williams is one of the top corners in the draft, and he can also play safety. They may also look at fast rising corner Antonio Cromartie from Florida State, his teammate OLB Ernie Sims, or Ohio State wideout Santoinio Holmes. Jimmy Williams provides the 'Phins with a big (6'2 205), physical defensive back who has the versatility to fill many holes in their depleted secondary. Jimmy has the size to be effective in run support and the quickness to break on receivers. Miami may continue to look for DBs later in the draft. A safety like Purdue's Bernard Pollard or FSU's Pat Watkins would be good picks in the third round or later. Also they need offensive line help.

17. Minnesota Vikings: DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis
The second Williams drafted in a row will be a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. He is a better player than his draft position indicated, and the Vikes will be ecstatic to see him fall this far. DeAngelo was a very productive player in college, and is the undersized (5'8 208) back that the Vikings like to run behind thier massive offensive line. Williams has breakaway speed and running skills to overcome his size. He fills one of the Vikings needs as well, with the departure of Micheal Bennett and the suspension of Onterrio Smith on drug charges. DeAngelo has good quickness on screens and decent receiving skills. A linebacker like Thomas Howard from Texas- El Paso would be a good fit in the second round, and depth at safety would be valuable in the later rounds.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Donte Whitner, S Ohio State
The Cowboys would love to get an offensive tackle here, but there is not good value for the remaining tackles at this point. Dallas will have to settle for a running mate for Pro Bowler Roy Williams. Whitner has the athleticism to play center field allowing Williams to move up in the box where he is most comfortable. Whitner is a solid all around safety who can play against the run, pass, and tackles well in the open field. The 'Boys will look at an offensive tackle or guard in the second round like Andrew Whitworth from LSU or Max Jean-Gilles from Georgia. They may look for Keyshawn Johnson's replacement at wide receiver in the later rounds.

19. San Diego Chargers: Santonio Holmes, WR Ohio State
The Chargers can not believe this explosive playmaker is still on the board, and they will not be able to get their pick in fast enough. With young quarterback Philip Rivers taking the reigns next season, the Bolts will need to take pressure off superstars RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates. Holmes is a deep threat and will overcome his small stature (5'10 185) with his savvy and experience. He is lightning quick and very fast which allows him to get off the line against press coverage and be a deep threat down field. He has great hands and good concentration. He is also a dangerous punt returner who can help in the field position battle. San Diego will look for offensive line help and secondary depth in the later rounds.

20. Kansas City Cheifs: Antonio Cromartie, CB FSU
Thus begins the cornerback frenzy. Many experts have predicted there to be a run of cornerbacks towards the end of the first round, and I believe it begins here. Cromartie is a fast rising prospect and the Chiefs will be excited to see him here. He is a bit of a mystery because he missed all of last season with a serious knee injury, but put up a sub 4.4 40 and a sub four flat three cone drill along with a 44in. vertical leap. Those a crazy numbers, so it appears he is fully healed. He can become a shut down corner and is a good tackler, something the Chiefs' defense needed desperately last season. They will also look for an explosive wide receiver to complete their already excellent offense.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

11. St. Louis Rams: Chad Greenway, OLB University of Iowa
The Rams have to improve on the defensive side of the football. They will be tempted to look at Florida State's defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley or who ever they have as the top cornerback on the board, whether it is Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams or Clemson's Tye Hill or one of the other top DBs. That being said Chad Greenway is the man here. The defense run in St. Louis is constituted on fast, athletic linebackers who are smart and can make plays sideline-to-sideline. Greenway is all of the above, he is a very tough player with good size (6'2 243) and speed (4.55 40). He will be asked to replace the aging Dexter Coakley on the outside. Later in the draft, the Rams will look for impact players at cornerback and defensive tackle.

12. Cleveland Browns: Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB Florida State
The Browns would love to see Oregon's DT Haloti Ngata fall to them here to plug up the center of their 3-4 scheme, but they will settle for the top rush linebacker in this draft. They signed Willie McGinest from the Patriots to play this position, but he is getting older and would be the perfect mentor for Wimbley as he make the switch from defensive end in college to a stand-up outside linebacker in the NFL. If they could get nose tackle Gabe Watson, who was plagued by inconsistency issues at Michigan, high in the second round, they would be happy to let him study under veteran Ted Washington for a year and then potentially dominate. In the final rounds they could look for a big DE and depth accross the offensive line.

13. Baltimore Ravens: Brodrick Bunkley, DT Florda State
Consecutive Spartans taken here in the first round, and the Ravens will be excited to see it happen. Bunkley is considered a top ten or even top five talent, but the lack of need for a three technique tackle will cause his slide. Brod is a difference maker on the line in the mold of a young Warren Sapp or the Bear's Tommy Harris. He is an explosive one gap penetrator who can stop the run and collapse the pocket in the passing game. The Ravens may look for USC's offensive tackle Winston Justice here, but the temptation of a DT who can anchor their 4-3 defense will be too great. The will look for offensive line help, playmakers at safety, and depth at linebacker in the later rounds.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Winston Justice, OT USC
Philadelphia needs to get Donovan McNabb some options at reciever and thus may look at Ohio State wide out Santonio Holmes, but head coach Andy Reid understands the the offensive line is the heart of the team. Winston is widely regarded as the second best tackle in this draft behind Virginia's D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Veteran starters Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan are still very good but are entering their ninth and eleventh seasons respectively, plus Thomas is coming off back surgery. Justice is too good a prospect to pass up if he falls to them at this point. He has had some character concerns in the past, but he wowed scouts at USC's Pro Day with his speed and athleticism. The Eagles will look for an outside linebacker and some wide receivers on the rest of the first day.

15. Denver Broncos: Chad Jackson, WR University of Florida
The Broncos have been struggling in the past years to find a complement for verteran pass catcherRod Smith. There were rumors that they were courting free agent wide out Terrell Owens, and they drafted disappointing receiver Ashley Lelie out of Hawaii in 2002. Since neither of those attack plan worked out, Jackson is the man in Mile High. He has good size (6'1 205), good body control, and mind melting speed. His size and explosiveness give him the edge over Santonio Holmes as the top wide out taken in the draft. The Broncos will look for an athletic center like Minnesota's Greg Eslinger later in the draft.

Monday, April 24, 2006

8. Buffalo Bills: Haloti Ngata, DT Oregon
The Bills are entering a new era for their football team. They have hired Marv Levy to serve as GM and defensive minded Dick Jauron as their new head coach. Many people have the Bills taking Florida State DT Brodrick Bunkley here to complement their free agent acquisition Larry Tripplett from the Colts, but Dick Jauron has a history of starting massive two gap tackles to occupy blockers for his linebackers. He found relative success with this system in Chicago with man mountains Ted Washington and Keith Traylor. At 6'4 340lbs. Ngata fits the bill. Tripplett is undersized at 6'2 295lbs but is an over achiever and a solid pass rusher. Ngata has the size, power, and athleticism to occupy blockers and make plays collapsing the pocket and in the running game. The space he takes up in the middle of the line will free up line backers Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher to flow freely sideline-to-sideline. Early in the second round Buffalo will look for a cornerback like Miami's Kelly Jennings who excells in man coverage for Jauron's cover two scheme. They could look for a center in the thrid round, and perhaps a developmental quarterback in the later rounds.

9. Detroit Lions: Michael Huff, DB Texas
Detroit is a young team and has a need a quarterback, and they might look at Vanderbilt signal caller Jay Cutler. They did address the position by bringing in solid verteran Jon Kitna and promising youngster Josh McCown. I am not convinced that either of these players are the long term answer, but they should be able to be the care taker for long enough for the Lions to wait to develop a prospect or draft a starter next year. With this pick the Lions will address their secondary which gave up nearly 200ypg through the air. Huff is a very versatile player with plenty of big game experience. He can play either cornerback or safety. He is fast and tough and play strong against the run and the pass.He has less than ideal size for a safety at 6' 198lbs, but plays strong and can fly around playing center field. His size is more condusive for a cornerback, and he had the speed and quick hips to make that transition. Either way, Huff is the smart and experienced defensive back the Lions need to solidify their young defense. In round two Detroit would love to see a big name tackle like Miami's Eric Winston or Auburn's Marcus McNeil fall to them. They will probably hunt down a quarterback prospect in the third round and then, most likely, defensive depth the rest of the way.

10. Arizona Cardinals: Jay Cutler, QB Vanderbilt
Arizona lost one of their young quarterback prospects Josh McCown to the Lions and starter Kurt Warner, far removed from his MVP days, is not getting any younger or healthier. Jay Cutler is an experienced passer from the SEC whose gun slinging style and fearlessness reminds many of Brett Favre. It will be tempting to take the drafts top cornerback Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech and pair him with last years number one pick Antrel Rolle to create one of the finest young CB tandems in the league, but head coach Denny Green needs his future quarterback in the worst way. Cutler is a smart signal caller with good leadership skills and there has been talk about him being the top QB in the draft. He has only decent arm strength which may detrimental with his tendency to take risks. Vanderbilt is far from a college football superpower and Cutler would do well to study under Warner for a season or two, but he will be the Cards' starter by year three. 'Zona will look to upgrade at runningback as soon as possible, and they would love to see the embattled USC tailback LenDale White to fall that far. He has definite first round talent but has an injury to his hamstring and has no 40 time on record. If he fails to drop, Wisconsin's Brian Calhoun or LSU's Joseph Addai would be good picks at this spot. Both of these players are athletic and good blockers. They will most likely look for help in the defensive backfield in the later rounds.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

5. Green Bay Packers: A.J. Hawk, OLB Ohio State University
The Pack have plenty of needs going into this draft after struggling through a 4-12 season in 2005. They are aging at almost all offensive positions, and Brett Favre is threatening to retire if the Packers do not make an effort to improve, especially at running back, receiver, and offensive line. Despite these holes, Green Bay will likely try and nab the best available defensive player with the fifth pick. They need to find a playmaker at every level of the D, so Mario Williams, A.J. Hawk, and Texas safety Michael Huff could all be possibilities, but in this scenario Hawk is the right choice. A.J. has been one of the Big Ten's most dominant defenders over the past four seasons at OSU. He has been rated as one of the "can't miss" prospects of this draft. Hawk is poised to become the next in a long line of great Ohio State linebackers. Hawk's good speed, combined with his blitzing and recognition skills, makes him the playmaker the Pack is looking for to bolster their defense which allowed opponents 125.6 rushing yards and 21.5 points per game. In later rounds Green Bay will look to find help in the secondary and across the offensive line. A run stuffing safety like USC's Darnell Bing or Florida State's Pat Watkins could have good value in the second or third round, and versatile interior linemen like USC guard Fred Matua, New Mexico center Ryan Cook, or Bloomsburg G/T Jahri Evans could be good developmental prospects on the late first or early second day of the draft.

6. San Francisco 49ers: Vernon Davis, TE Maryland
As one of the youngest teams in the NFL, the 49ers have no shortage of needs going into this draft. They have gaping holes on the defensive side of the ball which were augmented by the departure of Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson to the division rival Seahawks. That being said, San Francisco will look to surround last year's first round pick Alex Smith with some talent at offensive skill position. They signed wide reciever Antonio Bryant in the offseason, and they will solidify their tight end position by drafting Davis. Vernon is a freakish athlete who was highly productive in college. He does not have the prototypical size for an in-line, drive blocking tight end at 6'2 250lbs, but after running a sub-4.4 in the 40 yard dash at the combine, he has shown that he has the explosiveness to be a young quarterback's best friend. He can stretch the seam against a linebacker's coverage and has the explosiveness to line up outside as a wide receiver. He is the ultimate outlet option for Alex Smith in this West Coast offense. For the rest of the draft the 49ers will look to find the best available player at any position. This is a team that needs to rebuild from the ground up. A defensive end like Penn State's Tamba Hali will look good early in the second round, while they may look for offensive line help in the later rounds.

7. Oakland Raiders: Vince Young, QB University of Texas
Oakland will be overjoyed to find a player of this caliber at this point, but questions about his unorthodox throwing motion, intelligence, and less than blinding speed combined with the lack of need for earlier picks will scare some teams off, but the Raiders will overlook their defensive needs to take their QB of the future. Oakland signed inconsistent veteran Aaron Brooks from the New Orleans Saints. Brooks is a mobile, strong armed, and solid starter who can take the reigns until Young is ready. Vince is a monster of a playmaker who made the Rose Bowl his personal highlight reel in his career at Texas. He has a strong arm, good speed, and is patient to wait for the right moment before he runs. If he develops his passing and overcomes questions about his release, Young could be the NFL's next big playmaking quarterback and the Raider's best since Kenny Stabler. In the later rounds of the draft Oakland will need to fill their holes in the defensive secondary. They also could look for a sleeper at running back on the second day like Tennessee's Gerald Riggs Jr. or Virginia's Wali Lundy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

3. Tennessee Titans: Matt Leinart, QB USC
There has been much deliberation and speculation surrounding the Titans' first round selection ever since the New Orleans Saints acquired QB Drew Brees from the Chargers. Before this blockbuster pick up, the Saints had been expected to take Leinart leaving the Titans to select Texas QB Vince Young. And while the superb athlete Young is still on the radar, reuniting Leinart with his former offensive coordinator Norm Chow will be to tempting to pass up. Leinart won two national championships and a Heisman Trophy with Chow as his offensive coordinator at USC, and the Titans will hope for similar results in Nashville. What Leinart lacks in pure arm strength he makes up for with savvy and experience. He started for three seasons at one of college football's most storied programs. He is the vocal leader and quality character that the Titans need to replace the popular Steve McNair who appears to be on his way out of Tennessee. In the second round, the Titans may look at Iowa's Abdul Hodge to fill their whole at middle linebacker, and then address their offensive line needs on the second daywith a prospect like gaurd Kevin Boothe from Cornell or tackle Ryan O'Callaghan from Cal.

4. New York Jets: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT University of Virginia
This pick from the New York Jets is far from sexy and the ever fickle fans in the Big Apple would much rather see their beloved Jets choose the quarterback of the future with this high a pick, but it is the smart pick. Despite acquiring veterans Trey Teague and Anthony Clement to solidify their porous O-line, Ferguson could be a star for ten years. He has remarkably quick feet, and was very impressive pass blocking at the Senior Bowl. He has long arms and is a student of tae kwon do giving him excellent balance. He is slightly lighter than the prototypical NFL tackle, hovering between 290-305 pounds. He is not a dominating run blocker, but his ability to protect the passer is invaluable for a team who will be relying on either the young Patrick Ramsey or the oft-injured Chad Pennington to call the signals for them. In the second round, they may look to get a running back to replace the aging Curtis Martin. A player like Joseph Addai from LSU is versitile enough as a reciever, runner, and blocker to have good value at the top of the second round. They may look to draft a cornerback later in the draft.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hello everyone and welcome to Trevor's NFL Draft blog. I have switched format from having no rhyme or reason for anything I do to this because it is something I enjoy and know something about. Many football fans start to feel the excitement and fanfare from this annual event about this time every year. All our favorite college players take the step up to the next level and helmet haired gurus speculate at the crap shoot that is the NFL Draft. Each day I will do my fair share of speculation as I project the needs and selections of each team in the NFL, two at a time.

1. Houston Texans: Reggie Bush, RB USC
The league's youngest franchise has plenty of needs in the upcoming draft especially on defense and across the offensive line. They traded for former Bills wide receiver Eric Moulds to line up opposite budding super star wide out Andre Johnson. Johnson is expected to return healthy from an injury that sidelined him for most of the 2005 season. Domanick Davis has been a solid tailback for the Texans over the last three seasons, and quarterback David Carr has shown a strong arm and a fearless pocket presence despite being the most sacked player in the NFL in recent years. With the first overall pick in the draft, Houston is in a unique situation. They can take any player in this talented crop of players. In my opinion they are obligated to take the most talented player in this draft which is USC's explosive tailback Reggie Bush. He embarassed defenses in college at Tailback U, and despite his smallish stature, should continue to do so at the next level. He posted a face-melting 4.33 40 yard dash at USC's pro day. He offers Houston a dangerous weapon as a runner, receiver, and return specialist. In the later rounds of the draft Houston should look to get some offensive line help and find a play maker in the defensive back field at linebacker and secondary.

New Orleans Saints: Mario Williams, DE North Carolina State
The Saints were expected to take a franchise quarterback with this pick early in the draft process, but their acqusition of fromer Charger QB Drew Brees puts that need by the wayside. As a result the Saints may trade the pick to a team down in the draft who needs a passer like USC's Matt Leinart. However, for argument's sake, if they keep the pick I believe they will take Mario Williams. A monstrous defensive end prospect, he reminds many of Carolina Panther's defensive end Julius Peppers. He stands 6'6 1/8 and weighs 283 pounds, and even though the Saints have drafted defensive ends in two of the last three drafts (Will Smith in '04 and Charles Grant in '02) Williams's upside might be to large to pass him by. If not, they might look at Virginia's stud left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson to replace the departed Wayne Gandy. Later in the draft the Saints should look to find a play making tight end and prehaps help across the defensive front seven especially at DT or OLB. They may also addess depth at quarter back sometime on the second day.