4/14 PFW mock draft
Leinart could be in for a surprise on Draft Day
By Nolan Nawrocki
April 14, 2006
With more and more interest coming from top-10 teams in this draft to trade down and no team showing any real interest in moving up, it is becoming more likely that trade activity will be at a minimum early in this draft. Houston, New Orleans, Green Bay, San Francisco and Buffalo have all expressed interest in moving down.
Editor's note: Juniors are denoted by an asterisk (*).
1. Houston Texans RB Reggie Bush, USC*
Mario Williams is gaining momentum in the eyes of the coaches. And keep in mind Gary Kubiak is coming from a team that has not drafted a runner in the first round in his NFL coaching career. If the Texans could reverse time, knowing what they do now, it's difficult for anyone in the league to argue that Julius Peppers has not meant more to Carolina than David Carr has to Houston. The Texans already have a multipurpose back in Domanick Davis and recently signed WR Eric Moulds. The Texans have added more options, but Bush is still the owner's favorite, and negotiations are likely to commence very soon.
2. New Orleans Saints DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State*
With a big void at linebacker, the Saints' top target is A.J. Hawk. However, the only way they will select him is if they can move down a couple of spots. Williams could play anywhere on the defensive line. The time-tested strategy to build a team in the NFL is to start inside. With a quarterback in place, Williams brings the most value on the other side of the ball.
3. Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young, Texas*
Owner Bud Adams, who makes his residence in Houston, and GM Floyd Reese are both waiting for the Texans to pass on their hometown hero so that he can lead the Titans to the promised land. A lot of scouts are scared by Young's talent because they have never seen anything like him enter the league before, but Reese is a bold evaluator.
4. New York Jets OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Virginia
Pete Kendall is an ideal swing backup, not a true starter, and the Jets' running game suffered mightily last year when Kevin Mawae went down and they could not compensate for an average pair of guards. Recent acquisition Trey Teague brings help inside, but the OT situation is still flat-out ugly. Without Ferguson, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is because he will be on his back by the time he hits his fifth step and sets his feet.
5. Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk, Ohio State
The next Ray Nitschke, Hawk is a perfect fit for the city of Green Bay and brings versatility to play inside or out.
6. San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis, Maryland*
After trading Brandon Lloyd and Rashaun Woods, a receiving threat is much needed to make the Niners more competitive, and Davis has more upside than any receiver in this draft.
7. Oakland Raiders DB Michael Huff, Texas
With Young and Davis both gone, Huff can make an immediate contribution at safety with Derrick Gibson having been exploited last year. Even though the Raiders drafted Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt with their first two picks a year ago, both struggled as rookies and still leave a void with Charles Woodson's departure. Huff could be groomed to play outside. His value is too great to pass.
8. Buffalo Bills DT Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State
Has the quickness to line up as a three-technique and the brute strength to stack blockers on the nose. For what new Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is beginning to implement, Bunkley is the best fit.
9. Detroit Lions QB Matt Leinart, USC
Matt Millen would have never expected this scenario to unfold the way it very well could. As a result, he went out and signed two free-agent quarterbacks to compete for the job. Detroit fans would be outraged to know, after the team drafted receivers in the first round each of the last three years, that the WR position is still a huge need for Mike Martz's new offense. More pressing needs are at defensive tackle and cornerback, but with Huff and Bunkley likely off the board at this point, why not go with another Trojan, reuniting Mike Williams and Shaun Cody their top two picks a year ago with the former Heisman Trophy winner. If nothing else, at least there is some consistency to the mad decision-making of the NFL's most unpredictable, unsound (and highest-paid) decision maker.
10. Arizona Cardinals QB Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt
This is where the Vikings could come into play. A lot of teams are looking to trade down, and the Cardinals' history of moving is not great, but with Minnesota in dire need of a quarterback and Cutler being a great fit for their new offense, our sources say Brad Childress will begin calling the Cardinals.
11. St. Louis Rams CB-S Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech
Huff is their top target, but if he is not there, they will take a chance on another big, physical cornerback and hope new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett can control him.
12. Cleveland Browns DT Haloti Ngata, Oregon*
There's a chance Ngata could be gone at this point, with Philadelphia in serious need of a two-gapper and having a history of moving up. But, if he's available, Ngata will eventually replace the 38-year-old Ted Washington and become the anchor of the Browns' defense, having a year to receive valuable tutelage from one of the game's great cloggers.
13. Baltimore Ravens LB Ernie Sims, Florida State*
Ray Lewis is getting older and has expressed his disappointment with his contract. What better way to silence him than to bring in another dynamic player. Linebacker may not be the Ravens' greatest need, and team sources think they may trade ahead of the Browns for Ngata, but Sims has the football temperament Ozzie Newsome loves.
14. Philadelphia Eagles OT Winston Justice, USC
Jon Runyan does not have many years left in the tank, and Joe Banner tends to plan his cap situation three years out. To repair a roster that many league insiders think is becoming depleted, Reid could infuse some youth into both lines. The Eagles selected Mike Patterson in the first round a year ago, and our sources say they could go that route again this year and trade up for Ngata.
15. Denver Broncos WR Chad Jackson, Florida*
With the Broncos actively shopping Ashley Lelie, receiver is a priority they must address. Jackson fits their offense like a glove.
16. Miami Dolphins WR Santonio Holmes, Ohio State*
If Winston Justice is available, the Dolphins could take a chance on the young left tackle the same way they did with Manuel Wright in the supplemental draft last summer. However, there's a good chance Justice won't be there, and Saban needs more help at receiver. Holmes has some character questions, but Saban generally has done a good job controlling players and will not see it as that big of a risk given the scarcity of talent at the WR position.
17. Minnesota Vikings LB Chad Greenway, Iowa
Almost every team in the top 10 is hoping two quarterbacks get drafted early and it forces another good player down to them, but the Vikings are hoping for the exact opposite and hoping the QBs fall far enough that they don't have to trade away too much to position themselves to get one. The Vikings have discussed trade scenarios to land one of the top throwers, but if they stay put, an athletic linebacker like Greenway would be dynamite in Mike Tomlin's penetrating attack.
18. Dallas Cowboys OLB Manny Lawson, North Carolina State
A safety is needed more, but Lawson could help the defense even more by upgrading the pass rush and giving opposing quarterbacks less time to throw. He is very smart, has the frame to get a lot bigger and would complete the Cowboys' front seven.
19. San Diego Chargers DB Jason Allen, Tennessee
The Chargers' secondary needed some help before trading away Sammy Davis, and Allen's size and versatility exceed concerns about injuries and his personality.
20. Kansas City Chiefs CB Antonio Cromartie, Florida State*
Cromartie recently visited with the Chiefs and has the size, pure speed and ball skills that Herm Edwards covets. Teams will discount his ability because he is coming off a knee injury and only has one career start, but Edwards and GM Carl Peterson are confident in what they see.
21. New England Patriots OLB Kamerion Wimbley, Florida State
The top rush LB prospect in the draft, Wimbley could contribute immediately in place of the departed Willie McGinest.
22. Denver Broncos RB DeAngelo Williams, Memphis
Williams improved his stock in postseason workouts and could reinvigorate the Broncos' offense exactly what they are seeking to accomplish after falling short in the playoffs last year with a lack of firepower.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Eric Winston, Miami (Fla.)
The Bucs have a history of drafting local talent, and for good reason, with the amount of it in their backyard. A No. 3 corner or an offensive tackle is needed most, and Kelly Jennings could fit here just as easily. But the offensive line is a bigger area of need and could force the Bucs' hand.
24. Cincinnati Bengals C Nick Mangold, Ohio State
Local Big Ten product fits well for a team high on Big Ten talent.
25. New York Giants LB Bobby Carpenter, Ohio State
Carpenter's outstanding pro-day workout has propelled his draft stock. He is big, fast, can play inside or outside, rush the passer and cover, not to mention having NFL bloodlines. Although his intangibles are not exceptional, Tom Coughlin's tough-hearted approach could be just what Carpenter needs.
26. Chicago Bears CB Tye Hill, Clemson
Dontι Whitner would be a much better pick, but the Bears crave speed, and Hill was the fastest player at the Combine.
27. Carolina Panthers TE Marcedes Lewis, UCLA
An improving blocker and fine pass catcher, Lewis could pair with WRs Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson to give opposing defenses fits.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars LB DeMeco Ryans, Alabama
After losing Akin Ayodele, the Jaguars have a glaring hole on the strong side, and Ryans could fill it immediately and should be much more consistent than Ayodele was a year ago.
29. New York Jets CB Kelly Jennings, Miami (Fla.)
Can step in and contribute right away after the Jets cut Ty Law in the offseason.
30. Indianapolis Colts RB Laurence Maroney, Minnesota*
A big, fast zone runner, Maroney could get a chance to replace Edgerrin James, although don't rule out the Jets, who also are in need of a runner, taking Maroney.
31. Seattle Seahawks CB Johnathan Joseph, South Carolina*
Could ideally contribute as a No. 3 corner and eventually develop into a solid starter. Has a ton of physical ability.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers RB LenDale White, USC*
The Steelers remain one of the luckiest teams in the draft, finding their bell-cow back at this spot, although many scouts are not sure how lucky they should feel, given White's background. Nevertheless, he fills a need position with Jerome Bettis having retired.