San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith, QB, Utah
For months, this mock draft has disregarded the possibility of San Francisco drafting a quarterback, based on the fact that the 49ers are very stingy
with their money. Another reason was San Francisco wanted Matt Leinart, who decided to stay in school.
Things have changed. Talks between the 49ers and Aaron Rodgers' agent have been going smoothly, while head coach Mike Nolan has his eyes set on
drafting Alex Smith. If San Francisco can agree to terms with Smith prior to this weekend's draft, they will select the quarterback out of Utah.
However, Smith wants more money than Eli Manning was paid last year, while the 49ers organization is stingier with cash than George Costanza. A
deal will probably not be completed, meaning Nolan will have to settle with Rodgers, who is willing to take less money to stay in the Bay Area.
Saturday Update: Sources have reported that the 49ers will indeed draft Alex Smith, but they will try to trade him to the team that drafts Aaron
Rodgers for the California quarterback and a few draft picks. Tampa Bay wants Smith, so they may draft Rodgers and orchestrate a trade with San
Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
A trade is nearly complete between the Dolphins and the Buccaneers, which would have the two teams swap first-round picks, and give Miami one of the
Buccaneers' two second-round selections. Tampa Bay would move into the second slot to draft Alex Smith. However, if the trade falls through, the
Dolphins will probably choose Ronnie Brown because they burnt a second-round pick on A.J. Feeley last year. Feeley deserves a shot with a
legitimate running game.
On a side note, couldn't you see Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga's head explode if Nick Saban drafts Cedric Benson? I'm sure Huizenga wants to deal with
another Texas running back with dreadlocks.
Cleveland Browns: Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
Unless Alex Smith falls, Cleveland will draft Braylon Edwards, who will instantly become the best receiver on the Browns. Cleveland's primary needs
are at the quarterback and wide receiver positions, and Smith and Edwards are the top two players on their board. However, there is also a chance the
Browns draft Aaron Rodgers to construct a deal with San Francisco.
Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
Chicago has made it known that upgrading their offense is a priority this off-season, as indicated by the acquisitions of wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad
and offensive linemen Fred Miller and Roberto Garza. Lovie Smith can continue a masterful off-season by drafting Cedric Benson, which would give
Chicago a stud running back to take some pressure off of Rex Grossman.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aaron Rodgers, QB, California
It is well known that starting receiver Michael Clayton is lobbying for Mike Williams. Gruden struck gold by drafting Clayton in 2004 but Tampa Bay has
absolutely nothing around him at the receiver position, so why not draft Williams to create arguably the best, young receiving duo in the NFL? However,
the Buccaneers really want Alex Smith, meaning they could draft Aaron Rodgers (best quarterback in this draft) to deal him to the 49ers with some draft picks in exchange for Smith.
Tennessee Titans: Pac-Man Jones, CB, West Virginia
The Titans may be challenging the 49ers for having the biggest off-season mess to deal with. Tennessee was $27 million over the cap in February, which
led to many cap casualties. Samari Rolle has already been a cap casualty and Andre Dyson will be testing free agency. If Dyson leaves, the
Titans will have absolutely nothing at cornerback. Tennessee is rumored to prefer Pac-Man Jones over Antrel Rolle.
Minnesota Vikings: Mike Williams, WR, USC
Minnesota figures to replace Randy Moss with Nate Burleson, who shined in Moss' absence. The Vikings also acquired Travis Taylor this off-season, and
they still have Marcus Robinson and Kelly Campbell at wide receiver. However, the Vikings need to a legitimate number-two option to support
Burleson. In my opinion, Mike Williams is the best player in the draft.
Arizona Cardinals: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami
Arizona needs a running back, but they seem set on settling on J.J. Arrington in the second round. Instead, Dennis Green will add one of the best
defensive players in the draft in an effort to improve a very porous secondary. If the Cardinals want to win the NFC West, they will have to stop
the Seahawks and the Rams, two of the better offensive teams in the NFL.
Washington Redskins: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
Carlos Rogers' stock has risen to top ten status, and the Redskins are in search of a replacement for Fred Smoot, who signed with the Minnesota
Vikings. Washington acquired Denver's first-round pick Tuesday, meaning they will address their offense with a quarterback or wide receiver with the
25th overall selection. If the top three cornerbacks--Rogers, Antrel Rolle and Pac-Man Jones--are all taken, the Redskins will probably draft Troy
Detroit Lions: Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas
Matt Millen will be tempted to draft Heath Miller, giving Joey Harrington another option. However, he cannot pass up on a defender like Derrick Johnson,
who is capable of taking Detroit's mediocre defense into the NFL's top ten.
Dallas Cowboys: Shawne Merriman, DE/OLB, Maryland
The Cowboys need to address their woeful defensive line and the outside linebacker position. Marcellus Wiley was a huge disappointment in 2004, meaning
Jerry Jones will be in search of a stud pass rusher this off-season. Shawne Merriman, who is widely considered the best defensive player in the draft,
can play both the defensive end and outside linebacker positions.
San Diego Chargers: DeMarcus Ware, DE/OLB, Troy State
One of the reasons why the Chargers fell to the New York Jets was because they could not pressure Chad Pennington. San Diego only accumulated 29 sacks
in 2004. They will probably draft DeMarcus Ware, who could play defensive end or outside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 defense.
Houston Texans: Cadillac Williams, RB, Auburn
Houston already has Domanick
Davis, a very talented running back, but if the Texans wish to compete with Indianapolis and Jacksonville, they need to acquire a running back who could
deflect a lot of attention off of David Carr. If Williams is not available at this juncture, the Texans probably will draft Alex Barron or Troy Williamson.
Carolina Panthers: Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma
It's difficult to assess what the Panthers need because of the numerous injuries they incurred in 2004. However, one thing is certain: the
loss of many of their offensive linemen to free agency and retirement was a catalyst to their catastrophic 1-7 start. Carolina is rumored to prefer
Jammal Brown over Alex Barron.
Kansas City Chiefs: David Pollack, DE, Georgia
Pick a position, any position. Kansas City needs upgrades at nearly every position on the defensive side of the ball, excluding cornerback, because they
traded for Patrick Surtain on Friday. Kansas City will take the best defensive player available. Only one Chiefs defender registered more than 4� sacks
in 2004. That needs to change if the Chiefs desire to stop opposing aerial attacks.
New Orleans: Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State
New Orleans was ranked 27th against the run in 2004 for a reason: their defensive tackles are terrible. Travis Johnson is one of the better defensive
players in this draft and his presence could be the key to improving the Saints' rush defense to at least the middle-of-the-pack.
Cincinnati Bengals: Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina
The Bengals need help at defensive tackle, defensive end, outside linebacker and safety, but Marvin Lewis has made it clear that he wants to address
his offensive with his first-round pick. The best available offensive talent at this juncture is Troy Williamson and Heath Miller. The wide receiver
from South Carolina is graded slightly ahead of Miller, and Cincinnati could use a third receiver in their offense. Williamson's draft stock has
sky-rocketed thanks to a 4.38 40 and a very positive attitude.
Marcus Spears, DE, LSU
Minnesota has easily upgraded their team the most this off-season, thanks to great acquisitions like linebacker Napoleon Harris, defensive tackle Pat
Williams, cornerback Fred Smoot and safety Darren Sharper. The one dire position in need of an upgrade Minnesota failed to improve is defensive end.
St. Louis Rams: Alex Barron, OT, Florida State
The Rams could not protect Marc Bulger from Atlanta's defenders, which resulted in a blowout loss in the playoffs. Kyle Turley and Mike Martz are not
best friends after their war of words, which will prompt Martz to upgrade his offensive line.
Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma
Drew Bledsoe will not be effective as a pocket passer if the Cowboys do not improve their wide receiving corps, which currently is comprised of Keyshawn
Johnson, who has more career complaints than catches, and the oft-injured Terry Glenn.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska
Jacksonville has a great defense, but they currently possess gaping holes at the defensive end and cornerback positions. Fabian Washington is high on
the Jaguars' board. Once considered a third-round prospect, Fabian Washington had a stellar combine to bounce into the first round.
Baltimore Ravens: Matt Jones, WR/TE/QB, Arkansas
Even though the Ravens signed Derrick Mason in early March, Brian Billick will not hesitate to acquire another weapon for Kyle Boller, who looks like
he needs all the offensive weapons he can get. Matt Jones, who is a freak of nature. Jones is 6-6, and runs a 4.4 40 with great hands. ESPN.com called
him the best player in the draft. His stock has risen to mid-first round status, and could eventually go even higher as draft day approaches.
Seattle Seahawks: Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma
Seattle has taken care of their need for a middle linebacker by signing Jamie Sharper, meaning they will focus on upgrading either the defensive end
or wide receiver position. With the top receivers gone, the Seahawks will draft Dan Cody to give them a legitimate pass rushing threat across from
Grant Wistrom, which is something they currently lack.
Green Bay Packers: Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan
Contrary to their NFC North foes, the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay has had the worst off-season in the league, excluding the Tennessee Titans. Green
Bay has tons of holes on their roster, none bigger than the cornerback position. Without Pro Bowl cornerback Mike McKenzie, Green Bay was brutal against
opposing aerial attacks.
Washington Redskins: Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn
Patrick Ramsey played better than Mark Brunell in 2004, but that isn't saying much. Ramsey is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Daniel
Snyder will want to groom a young quarterback, so he will probably draft Jason Campbell, who could very well be the best quarterback in this mediocre
Oakland Raiders: Justin Miller, CB, Clemson
The Raiders moved into this spot by trading their second-round pick and tight end Doug Jolley. Oakland seems to be targeting a cornerback to replace
Phillip Buchanon, who was traded Tuesday. They have expressed interest in Justin Miller. If he isn't available, they will look at Marlin Jackson and
Atlanta Falcons: Shaun Cody, DT/DE, USC
Atlanta is shifting back to the 4-3 defense. The Falcons have such a shortage of talent at defensive tackle, Chad Lavalais is currently penciled in
as a starter. If the Falcons do not draft a defensive tackle, they will draft a wide receiver like Jerome Mathis.
San Diego Chargers: Thomas Davis, S/OLB, Georgia
San Diego will consider Jerome Mathis and Ray Willis, but Thomas Davis is the best player available at this juncture. The Chargers need an upgrade
at free safety, and could use some depth at outside linebacker. Davis, a safety-linebacker hybrid, could step in and help San Diego immediately.
Indianapolis Colts: Barrett Ruud, MLB, Nebraska
Indianapolis needs help at every defensive position, much like the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts have not resigned middle linebacker Rob Morris, and they
have expressed interest in Barrett Ruud.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Heath Miller, TE, Virginia
Pittsburgh needs lots of help at defensive back, but they cannot pass up a player like Heath Miller. Ben Roethlisberger thrived with Hines Ward, Plaxico
Burress and the other weapons he had around him last year. However, Roethlisberger did not have a solid tight end to throw to. Drafting Miller would
fix that problem.
Philadelphia Eagles: Roddy White, WR, UAB
Terrell Owens is complaining, Freddie Mitchell is yapping, Owens is crying, Mitchell won't shut up, Owens is calling out Donovan McNabb. It never ends.
If Philadelphia does not trade up, they will draft Roddy White, a speedy receiver from UAB. However, trading up is an annual event for the
Eagles. Andy Reid will probably move up in order to draft Matt Jones or Shaun Cody.
New England Patriots: Odell Thurman, MLB, Georgia
Cornerback is an area of concern for New England, but the Patriots will probably take a middle linebacker because Tedy Bruschi could be out for the
year. Linebackers Barrett Ruud, Odell Thurman and cornerback Justin Miller would all make great selections at this point.