NFL Scouts, Inc. Mock One (1/24/05)
NFL Scouts, Inc. MOCK ONE
Monday, January 24, 2005
Updated: January 25, 12:14 PM ET
QB Rodgers projects as No. 1 pick
Our scouts have been tracking the top NFL prospects since last summer, evaluating their in-season performances both on film and in person, comparing notes with NFL personnel experts and scouting the Shrine and Las Vegas all-star games. Individual scouting reports from that legwork can be found in DraftTracker.
Now that the draft pool has stabilized and the draft order has been established, here's our first crack at mapping out the first round. We'll be scouting the Senior Bowl, the Indianapolis combine and various individual workouts, as well as zeroing in on NFL teams' ever-changing needs to make sure our projections remain accurate and realistic.
* = underclassman
2005 NFL draft, projected first round
1. San Francisco ***** (2-14)
Aaron Rodgers* | QB | California
Neither Rodgers nor Alex Smith is a good value at the No. 1 overall spot. With so many needs, the ***** would be best served to trade down in return for some extra Day One picks. If, however, they get stuck picking at No. 1 and if the new coaching staff decides that Tim Rattay is not the future, the organization will have another tough decision to make between Rodgers and Smith. As it stands right now, Rodgers grades out slightly ahead of Smith. Rodgers lacks ideal height, but he has terrific arm strength, good accuracy and above-average athleticism.
2. Miami Dolphins (4-12)
Alex Smith* | QB | Utah
The Dolphins have several needs, including running back, defensive end and offensive line. Coach Nick Saban must first decide if A.J. Feeley is his quarterback of the future. If not, drafting Smith (or Rodgers depending on which QB the ***** pass on) would be the most likely move. If, however, Saban can live with Feeley as his franchise quarterback for the future, drafting one of three top running backs in this class – Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams – becomes the next best move.
3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Adam Jones* | DC | West Virginia
The Browns ideally would like one of the top quarterbacks to fall to them here. If not, they could entertain the idea of trading down in order to package extra picks and get a better value on one of only two legitimate offensive tackle prospects in this draft class – Alex Barron and Jammal Brown. If all else fails, upgrading their secondary becomes a priority and Jones would be the best fit. Not only does Jones have the cover skills, speed and toughness to develop into a "shutdown" cornerback, he also has loads of upside as an NFL return specialist. The Browns could really use a playmaker like Jones on defense and special teams.
4. Chicago Bears (5-11)
Braylon Edwards | WR | Michigan
The Bears desperately need a wide receiver who can stretch the field vertically, and Edwards is the best this class has to offer. Some think the Bears will shy away from using another top pick on a Michigan wide receiver, but that theory is ridiculous. For starters, the current regime wasn't in place when the Bears drafted David Terrell. Secondly, Edwards is bigger and faster than Terrell and made far more big plays at the collegiate level than Terrell did. In our opinion, Edwards is the best receiver in this year's draft and has elite NFL potential.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Ronnie Brown | RB | Auburn
The Buccaneers could go in several different directions with this pick, including running back, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end and defensive back. With so much talent at the running back position, the Bucs will get their best value with the fifth overall pick. While Benson is a better fit for an offense looking for a load-carrying power runner, Brown is a better fit for Jon Gruden's version of the West Coast offense. Brown is big, strong and fast enough to carry a heavy load in the NFL, and he's also one of the best receivers and blockers at the running back position in this year's class. In short, Brown's versatility makes him a perfect fit for Gruden and the Bucs.
6. Tennessee Titans (5-11)
Alex Barron | OT | Florida State
The Titans could go after a cornerback here if Andre Dyson departs via free agency. For now, however, the team's biggest need remains offensive tackle with so many questions about the future of aging OTs Fred Miller and Brad Hopkins. There isn't a "can't-miss" tackle in this year's class, but Barron is the closest thing to it. Barron has the size, strength and feet to develop into a starting left tackle in the NFL, but he needs to become more physical.
7. Oakland Raiders (5-11)
Cedric Benson | RB | Texas
The Raiders would be elated if Benson fell to them at No. 7. Coach Norv Turner's offensive philosophy is to pound it out on the ground with a big, bruising back who can wear the opponent down and eventually open up some vertical opportunities with a play-action pass. The Raiders have a strong enough arm at quarterback with Kerry Collins, the speed at wide receiver and the bruising offensive line to execute that scheme, but what's missing is the "bell-cow" at running back. Benson doesn't have great speed or elusiveness, but he's a north-south runner with great vision, size and power – making him a perfect fit for Turner and the Raiders.
8. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)
Carnell Williams | RB | Auburn
The Cardinals still have several needs to address in the upcoming draft. After passing on Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger in last year's draft and coming to the realization that Josh McCown is not the future of the franchise's quarterback position, the Cardinals would love to see either Rodgers or Smith fall to them here. Assuming both are gone by the time the team selects at No. 8, the Cardinals then will shift their focus to running back, defensive line and cornerback. Of those positions, the best value is Williams, who immediately could provide the Cardinals with an upgrade over Emmitt Smith. Williams doesn't have the size of Benson or the versatility of Brown, but he might be the toughest pound-for-pound back in this draft. He also has enough receiving and blocking skills to develop into an every-down back in the NFL.
9. Washington Redskins (6-10)
Erasmus James | DE | Wisconsin
The Redskins could use an upgrade at center, some added speed at wide receiver and more of an impact player at H-back, but their biggest need is a pass-rushing defensive end. The team was forced to blitz entirely too much in order to generate a rush, which often left them vulnerable in coverage. By adding an impact edge rusher with this pick, the Redskins could significantly upgrade what already is a solid defensive unit. James is a risk-reward type prospect because of his injury history. But he's the best pure pass rusher in this class and worth the risk.
10. Detroit Lions (6-10)
Heath Miller* | TE | Virginia
The Lions could use playmakers at defensive end and in the secondary, but upgrading the tight end position ranks higher on the wish list. Miller is the only sure-fire first-round prospect this class has to offer. He lacks Todd Heap and Tony Gonzalez-type speed, but he's just a notch below the elite in terms of playmaking ability. Miller has very good size, is a smooth athlete, has a terrific feel for the passing game and might have the best hands of any skill-position player in this draft.
11. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Antrel Rolle | DC | Miami-FL
The Cowboys badly underestimated their need at cornerback last season, and it resulted in a major trickle-down effect for the entire defensive unit. In a scheme that relies so heavily on its cornerbacks to hold up in man-to-man coverage in order to get more aggressive with safeties and linebackers, it would be shocking if the Cowboys allowed this need to go unaddressed again this offseason. With so many solid first-round cornerback prospects to choose from, the team will likely have options. Rolle needs to run well in his postseason workouts to prove that he's capable of holding up on an island at the next level. Assuming he does, Rolle has the size, instincts, toughness and athletic ability to quickly become a solid starter.
12. San Diego Chargers (12-4)
Mike Williams | WR | USC
Despite their impressive turnaround in 2004, the Chargers still have several positions of need to address. With two picks in the first round (12 and 28 ), the team can either elect to package the two to move up or stay put and add two quality first-round youngsters. If it's the latter, drafting a dynamic wide receiver like Williams here would be awfully tempting. Williams doesn't have great speed and has been out of football for a year, but he is big enough and athletic enough to develop into a vertical threat. Adding a playmaker like Williams to go along with TE Antonio Gates and RB LaDainian Tomlinson would make the Chargers' offense frightening to match up against no matter the signal-caller.
13. Houston Texans (7-9)
Derrick Johnson | OLB | Texas
The Texans need to get younger along the defensive line and also could use another receiver to help complement Andre Johnson, but passing up on Johnson here would be a mistake. Johnson could slip because of the position he plays, but in our opinion he's the best defensive player in this class. The Texans used a top pick on a pass-rushing OLB in Justin Babin last season but could use a more traditional linebacker to help improve their run defense and pass coverage. Johnson, who has experience inside and outside, is versatile enough to play different roles in the team's 3-4 scheme, and he's athletic and instinctive enough to upgrade the unit in both of the aforementioned areas.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Troy Williamson* | WR | South Carolina
If the Panthers get Steve Smith back healthy and are able to re-sign Muhsin Muhammad before he becomes a free agent, wide receiver will no longer be a pressing need. However, if the team loses Muhammad, which is a likely scenario, drafting a big-play, vertical threat like Williamson would be a great value. Williamson is an underrated prospect right now because people haven't evaluated the underclassmen as much to this point. Once the 6-2, 205-pound playmaker runs a 4.4 during postseason workouts, his draft stock will skyrocket.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Dan Cody | DE | Oklahoma
The Chiefs could use a vertical threat like Williamson if he drops. Otherwise, it's defense, defense, defense. They could use a pass-rushing defensive end, a corner who can hold up in man-to-man coverage and an athletic linebacker. In this scenario, the Chiefs would have a tough choice to make between Cody, DC Brandon Browner and DT Travis Johnson, but Cody is the best value at the position they need most.
16. New Orleans Saints (8-8 )
Brandon Browner* | DC | Oregon State
The Saints could use an athletic upgrade at linebacker, but there isn't one worth drafting at this point. The next biggest need is at cornerback, where the team is aging and desperately needs an influx of youth and speed. Browner will be considered somewhat of an enigma until he works out for scouts and gets an official 40-time in the books. However, if the 6-3, 202-pound cornerback runs in the 4.4's as expected, he could easily move into the top-half of the first round. Browner is a physical corner with great experience in bump-and-run coverage, something the Saints are missing.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8 )
Travis Johnson | DT | Florida State
The Bengals need to use this draft to upgrade the middle of their defense. If Johnson falls to them at No. 17, the Bengals would be elated. After struggling through some off-the-field issues that affected his play early in his career at FSU, Johnson had a breakout season as a full-time starter in 2004. In our opinion, he's the best defensive tackle in this year's draft class and has a chance to make a huge impact early in his NFL career as a one-gap, penetrating DT.
18. Minnesota Vikings (8-8 )
Thomas Davis | DS | Georgia
The Vikings might be looking for a wide receiver if they do indeed part ways with Randy Moss. If not, upgrading their defensive tackle position and secondary become the primary goals in the '05 draft. If Johnson is off the board, there isn't a great value available to replace Chris Hovan at DT, but Davis would be a good fit and value if he slips to No. 18. Davis still has room to improve in terms of his range in coverage, but he hits like a truck and is a playmaker in all facets of the game, which is exactly what the Vikings' secondary could use.
19. St. Louis Rams (8-8 )
David Pollack | DE | Georgia
The Rams could use upgrades at offensive guard, inside linebacker and free safety, but none of those needs are as pressing as defensive end, particularly if Leonard Little isn't able to return. The Rams missed Grant Wistrom's motor last year, and the only player from this draft who can provide a similar presence is Pollack. He might lack ideal size and top-end speed, but Pollack has the quickness, power and playmaking instincts to immediately contribute in the NFL. One thing is certain: Nobody in this class works harder.
20. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Shawne Merriman* | OLB/DE | Maryland
After addressing their need at cornerback with the 11th overall pick, the Cowboys could easily turn their attention to finding a pass rusher. Merriman is a "tweener" DE/OLB who might need time before settling in as a full-time starter at one position in the NFL, but he has the speed, athleticism and pass-rushing skills to immediately upgrade the Cowboys' defense in that department.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
Jammal Brown | OT | Oklahoma
The Jaguars could go after a perimeter pass rusher or cornerback with this pick, but solidifying the left tackle position (Byron Leftwich's blindside) is the No. 1 priority. Brown needs to become more physical, but he has the size and feet to develop into a solid starter.
22. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
Mark Clayton | WR | Oklahoma
The Ravens are desperate for a wide receiver who can separate and stretch a defense vertically. They would like for one of the top-three receivers (Edwards, Williams and Williamson) to fall, but that's unlikely. Roddy White is a possibility if he works out well at the Senior Bowl and runs well at the combine. However, as it stands right now, Clayton is the next best talent at wide receiver. His lack of size is a concern, but he has very good speed and is a threat after the catch.
23. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
Matt Roth | DE | Iowa
Grant Wistrom was an upgrade when healthy, but he's aging and can't be counted on anymore as an every-down player. The Seahawks could use a young pass-rushing presence at the defensive end position, and Roth provides some versatility in that he can play defensive end and even move back to a rush-linebacker role when the team is in its nickel and dime package.
24. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Channing Crowder* | ILB | Florida
The Packers need to find another pass-rushing presence opposite Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, and they also need an upgrade at linebacker. If they draft an inside linebacker, Nick Barnett can move outside. If they draft an outside linebacker, Barnett can stay home at his MLB position. Crowder, who is a "tweener" OLB/ILB prospect, would be a good fit because the team could try him at both positions and see which one fits best. Crowder is still raw, but he's a good athlete with a mean streak, two qualities the Packers' linebacker corps currently lacks.
25. Denver Broncos (10-6)
Shaun Cody | DE | USC
This would be a good fit, as Cody is a "tweener" DE/DT who could play both roles for the Broncos. On first and second downs, Cody could spend time as a power-end in order to better rest pass-rushing specialist Reggie Howard. On obvious passing downs, Cody could move inside to upgrade the Broncos' interior pass rush.
26. New York Jets (10-6)
Carlos Rogers | DC | Auburn
The Jets' most glaring weakness on either side of the ball is at cornerback. Luckily for them, this year's draft class is loaded with top candidates at that position. Rogers is a good-size, physical man-to-man cover corner with the speed to turn and run with NFL receivers. He would be a great fit and value for the Jets at No. 26.
27. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Justin Miller* | DC | Clemson
If an offensive lineman emerges as a legitimate late first-round candidate between now and April's draft, that's probably the direction the team would go. If not, taking advantage of the strong cornerback class would be awfully tempting. Adding a speedster like Miller would give the Falcons potentially one of the best young cornerback tandems (DeAngelo Hall) in the league. Miller also could provide an immediate upgrade in the kickoff return game.
28. San Diego Chargers (12-4)
Daryl Blackstock* | OLB | Virginia
Blackstock was a dominant pass-rushing OLB in Virginia's 3-4 defense and could serve a similar purpose within the Chargers' identical scheme.
29. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Corey Webster | DC | LSU
The Colts have a lot of young talent in their secondary, but they are still without a playmaker at the cornerback position. Webster struggled through an injury-plagued senior season, but he had 14 interceptions between his sophomore and junior seasons (2002-03).
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (15-1)
Marlin Jackson | DC | Michigan
The Steelers could use this selection on an additional pass rusher at the rush-linebacker position, but cornerback is their biggest need. Jackson's draft stock has plummeted due to some off-the-field issues, injuries and a lack of big plays, but he's still supremely talented and might be worth taking a chance on late in the first round.
31. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
Marcus Spears | DE | LSU
The Eagles have a lot of bodies along the defensive line but have been hindered by injuries and a lack of production from recent draft picks, such as Jerome McDougle and Jamaal Green. Bringing in a versatile 295-pound defensive lineman like Spears would improve the depth and help protect the future of an aging unit.
32. New England Patriots (14-2)
Odell Thurman | LB |Georgia
This might be a bit of a reach, but the Patriots need to get younger at linebacker, especially inside. Thurman missed time early as a senior and was just hitting his stride as the season ended. He is a good athlete with the size, toughness and instincts to eventually develop into a starter opposite Tedy Bruschi.
Re: NFL Scouts, Inc. Mock One (1/24/05)
It's that size thing again. We need big and fast and alot of push!!!!!