I didnt see this posted if it was I apologize this may take a few posts... The NFL draft is a year-round event for our staff. We began studying these players a year ago, before their final college seasons, and by now we have a pretty good idea of who can play and who can't. But what makes this year's draft so unusual is the hierarchical structure. The absence of an elite class combined with a strong middle class has generated one of the biggest buyer's market scenarios in NFL draft history. Teams at the top understandably want to bail out, but good luck finding a trading partner. Furthermore, with so many prospects carrying similar grades throughout the first two rounds, there is no clear-cut order to be seen at this point. That's why nearly every mock draft you see will be different. By now, we've mocked out the entire seven-round process by trying to balance team needs with player value. But in a talent pool this wide open, it's hard to account for the individual preferences of all 32 personnel decision makers. Nevertheless, here is our final crack at mapping out the 2005 NFL draft, including other possible scenarios for each team. Rounds 1-3 | Rounds 4-7 * = underclassman Round 1 1. San Francisco 49ers (2-14) Alex Smith* | QB | Utah There isn't a lot that separates Aaron Rodgers from Smith. There are concerns about the schemes in which both prospects played at the college level. Rodgers has the better arm, but Smith has the bigger frame. What it all comes down to, though, is that new head coach Mike Nolan seems to have fallen in love with Smith's intelligence, charisma and overall intangibles – and who can blame him. The 49ers haven't made a final decision yet, but we are getting the strong sense that Smith will be their final choice. They will work hard to have a deal in place by Saturday, but contrary to popular belief, we're hearing the team will consider drafting him even if he's unsigned. Stay tuned. Other scenarios: • The 49ers are still trying to get a deal done for Smith, but his agent, Tom Condon, who also did the deal last year for Eli Manning (Giants), is understandably not budging. He wants the deal for Smith to follow traditional slotting procedure, which means he's looking for at least a small percentage more than what Manning got from the Giants. Due to the 49ers' concern that they won't get a deal done for Smith, they've also contacted several teams about a trade-down possibility. The most likely scenario is with the Buccaneers at No. 5. That would allow them to acquire extra picks and still get a future starting QB in Rodgers with the fifth selection. • If they can't get a deal done with Smith and can't trade down, Rodgers or WR Braylon Edwards become possibilities. 2. Miami Dolphins (4-12) Ronnie Brown | RB | Auburn New head coach Nick Saban and his staff have addressed needs along the offensive line and throughout the defense via free agency. The team also has decided QB A.J. Feeley is the starter for at least one year, in which he will be evaluated within the new scheme. That leaves running back as the top need, and Brown as the most deserving candidate. Cedric Benson (Texas) might be the more powerful runner, and Carnell Williams (Auburn) might be the most elusive, but Brown is the best overall running back in this year's draft. Brown is big, strong and fast enough to carry a heavy load in the NFL, and he also possesses considerably better skills in the passing game – blocker and receiver – than those of Benson and Williams. Other scenarios: • Trade down with Buccaneers and still get a running back such as Auburn's Williams. • Trade down with Vikings and address the defense – OLB Derrick Johnson (Texas) and DC Antrel Rolle are leading candidates. • Draft QB Alex Smith if he doesn't go to the 49ers at No. 1. 3. Cleveland Browns (4-12) Braylon Edwards | WR | Michigan The top prospect on the Browns' board evidently is Edwards. Even though they have greater needs at offensive tackle and quarterback, new general manager Phil Savage isn't going to stray from his draft philosophy of selecting the best available player, regardless of position. Edwards has an outstanding combination of size and speed, and he's a flat-out playmaker when the ball is up for grabs. His ability to stretch defenses could make up for a lot of other sins along the offensive line and at the quarterback position. Other scenarios: • The Browns' draft board starts with Smith and Edwards. • If both are gone by No. 3, the Browns will desperately try to trade down. • If they do trade down, the team is rumored to have heavy interest in Texas OLB Derrick Johnson and Georgia DE David Pollack. Reportedly, new head coach Romeo Crennel is pushing for Johnson at No. 3, but Savage thinks that's too high. • If Smith and Edwards are gone and the Browns can't get a deal done to move down, Johnson is the odds-on favorite to be the pick. • If the Browns trade down and Johnson is off the board, Pollack becomes the odds-on favorite. • If the Browns trade down and Johnson and Pollack both are off the board, Florida State OT Alex Barron would have to become the priority. 4. Chicago Bears (5-11) Cedric Benson | RB | Texas The Bears have enough young talent on defense, but they desperately need more playmakers on offense. If they wind up keeping this pick, they'll likely have a difficult decision to make between Benson, RB Carnell Williams and WR Mike Williams. Mike Williams fits the value, but he might not give the Bears the vertical presence they're looking for opposite free-agent acquisition Muhsin Muhammad. While Carnell Williams ranks higher on most draft boards, Benson is the better fit for new offensive coordinator Ron Turner's power running scheme. The team brought in Thomas Jones a year ago when Terry Shea was implementing more of a Rams- and Chiefs-like scheme, which emphasized versatility at the running back position. Now that the focus has shifted, Benson becomes a much better fit than Jones as a 25-30 carry-per-game "bell cow" at the running back position. Other scenarios: • If Auburn RB Ronnie Brown fell to No. 4, he most likely would be the pick. • We're told the team rates Benson over Carnell Williams and Mike Williams over Edwards. • If Benson and Mike Williams are both on the board, the Bears would have a tough decision, but we think they are leaning toward Benson. • The team also will consider moving down, but the deal would have to be sweet. No matter where they wind up, drafting a playmaker at running back, wide receiver or tight end is a high priority. 5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) Carnell Williams | RB | Auburn The Buccaneers could go in several directions with this pick, including RB, OT, OG, QB, WR, DT or DB. If Rodgers is available here, the decision will be much harder. Williams still needs to improve as a blocker, but he's the shiftiest and most elusive of the big three RBs (Brown and Benson), and he has the hands to become a legitimate weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. It also won't hurt Williams' chances that Gruden fell in love with him while coaching him at the Senior Bowl. Other scenarios: • Get a reasonable deal done in order to secure QB Smith. At this point, it seems it would require trading up to the No. 1 spot, and that is a highly unlikely scenario. • Trade up to the No. 2 overall pick and select RB Brown. • Stay at No. 5 and take the best available running back in the following order: Brown, Williams or Benson. • Stay at No. 5 and take the best available wide receiver: Edwards or Williams. • Stay at No. 5 and draft QB Rodgers. • Trade down, acquire even more picks and take the best available RB or WR. • Stay at No. 5 and draft a defensive player – OLB Johnson and DC Rolle are leading candidates. 6. Tennessee Titans (5-11) Aaron Rodgers* | QB | California This one obviously comes as a surprise, but don't rule it out. If our information is correct and Smith becomes the top overall choice, Rodgers could experience a slide. The Bucs are a possibility at No. 5, but we hear they have their hearts set on the Cadillac Williams if Smith is out of the picture. The Titans obviously are set at QB for 2005 with Steve McNair as their starter, and they also have depth with Billy Volek as his backup. But if Rodgers slips to them at No. 6, don't be shocked if they pull the trigger. McNair's longevity is in question, and Rodgers eventually could provide an upgrade over Volek. For a team clearly in rebuilding mode, drafting the best available player is the smartest route to take. Other scenarios: • Select WR Mike Williams. • Select DC Antrel Rolle. • Select DC Adam Jones. • Trade down, continue to stockpile draft picks and consider the best prospects at WR (Troy Williamson and Mark Clayton), CB (Carlos Rogers and Marlin Jackson) and OT (Alex Barron and Jammal Brown). 7. Minnesota Vikings (from Raiders) (8-8) Troy Williamson* | WR | South Carolina The Vikings have few needs to address, and thanks to the Randy Moss trade can really focus in on them with two first-round picks. This projected pick might come as a surprise with Mike Williams still on the board, but the Vikings are looking for a vertical threat, and Williamson gives them more deep speed than Williams. Williamson is a player on the rise after running in the 4.3s at the combine. He has the size, long arms, hands and explosive speed to quickly develop into a deep threat in the NFL, and he could eventually team up with Nate Burleson and Travis Taylor to form an impressive young trio of wide receivers. Other scenarios: • RB Ronnie Brown is rated ahead of Williamson and Mike Williams, so in the unlikely scenario that he fell, the Vikings would draft Brown, despite their log-jam at running back. • If they get a reasonable deal, they could move into the top five and select WR Edwards, who they rate as the No. 1 WR in this class. • Stay at No. 7 and select WR Mike Williams. 8. Arizona Cardinals (6-10) Derrick Johnson | OLB | Texas We still contend the Cardinals and Bills will get a trade done with Buffalo, dealing OT L.J. Shelton for RB Travis Henry, before or on draft day. Bills general manager Tom Donahoe's request to flip-flop second round picks (Nos. 44 and 55) in addition should be matched. For the Cardinals, the thought process is to address one of their biggest needs with Henry taking over as the starting running back, while also giving them the freedom to draft the best available defensive player at pick No. 8. While cornerback is clearly their biggest defensive need, don't be shocked if Johnson is the pick. The depth at the cornerback class is much greater than at linebacker, and the team could use an elite player in the linebacker corps after making Ronald McKinnon, LeVar Woods and Ray Thompson salary-cap casualties in the offseason. Johnson still needs to become more physical and learn to take on blocks, but he has Derrick Brooks-like potential and immediately would upgrade the athleticism and playmaking skills of the Cardinals' defense. Other scenarios: • If the Cardinals get a deal done for Henry, they have the luxury of drafting Johnson because they can still draft a quality prospect from a deep cornerback position in the second round. • If they get Henry and wind up drafting Rolle at No. 8, the team would continue to address the defense in the second round. • If they don't get a deal done for a running back, the team would draft its highest-rated prospect at the running back and cornerback positions – RB Brown, DC Rolle, RB Benson, RB Carnell Williams, DC Carlos Rogers and DC Jones. • If that's the case, the team would use its second-round pick on the position that it didn't address in the first round. • If QB Rodgers slips to the Cardinals at No. 8, they would debate all possible options but would likely pass on him in favor of a defensive player or running back. 9. Washington Redskins (6-10) Mike Williams* | WR | USC Everyone is talking about DC and DL for the Redskins, but we're starting to hear otherwise. The 'Skins are looking for playmakers on offense, and Williams could be the perfect fit as a big, physical receiver opposite the diminutive Santana Moss. Williams doesn't have elite speed, but he's faster than Keyshawn Johnson, and he projects as much more of a vertical weapon than Johnson has been in the NFL. Other scenarios: • It seems likely the Redskins will trade their newly acquired pick at No. 25 for a veteran defensive back. If that's the case, the team likely will use this selection on a wide receiver. Williamson is another viable option if he's available and Williams is gone. • If no trade is in place, the team could draft the best available cornerback with this pick, in this order: Rolle, Jones or Rogers. • Depending on the draft board and the potential trade for a veteran player, an impact pass rusher also is a possibility. Maryland's Shawne Merriman, Troy's Demarcus Ware, Wisconsin's Erasmus James and Georgia's David Pollack are the top candidates. 10. Detroit Lions (6-10) Antrel Rolle | DC | Miami-Fla. The Lions are in a great position with this pick. They certainly have bigger needs at right tackle and defensive end, but if a value like Rolle slips to them at No. 10 they'd be crazy not to capitalize. After all, Dre Bly and Fernando Bryant are both undersized cornerbacks in their late 20's. Adding a big, physical, young cornerback would give the unit great depth now and eventually would allow Bly or Ferguson to move inside to the slot, where both seem better suited. Rolle has the instincts, toughness and athletic ability to quickly become a solid starter in the NFL. His biggest obstacle in solidifying a potential spot in the top-10 was proving he was fast enough to turn and run with NFL receivers. His 4.49 40 at his pro-timing day eased those worries. Other scenarios: ·• The Lions can simply sit tight at No. 10 and draft the best available prospect. • Select OLB Johnson. • Select OT Barron. • Select a top pass rushing DE. From what we are hearing, it would be in this order: James, Merriman and Ware. 11. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) Demarcus Ware | DE | Troy The Cowboys have been busy in free agency, addressing needs at defensive tackle (Jason Ferguson), quarterback (Drew Bledsoe) and cornerback (Anthony Henry). However, they still are in pursuit of upgrades at WR, offensive line (ROT) and OLB/DE. Ware's draft stock is skyrocketing after his impressive showing at the combine, and we think he's exactly the type of player coach Bill Parcells is looking for as the defense transitions from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Ware is a hybrid DE/OLB with explosive speed and loads of pass-rushing potential. Other scenarios: • Select DE/OLB Merriman. • Select DE James. • Select WR Williamson if he falls and if the pass rusher the team covets most is off the board. 12. San Diego Chargers (12-4) Marcus Spears | DE | LSU The Chargers were tied for the third-fewest sacks in the league (29) in 2004, which helps explain why they need to use one of their two first-round picks on a pass rusher. A rush linebacker is a possibility, but Spears is a better fit, as he is a 'tweener DE/DT who could really provide an upgrade over starter Jacques Cesaire at the LDE position opposite last year's second-round pick, Igor Olshansky. Other scenarios: • Select WR Williams or Williamson, if one should happen to fall. • Select the best available perimeter pass rusher: Merriman, James, Ware and Pollack. 13. Houston Texans (7-9) Shawne Merriman* | OLB/DE | Maryland The Texans drafted Jason Babin in the first round last year, but they need to find a legitimate pass rusher opposite him in their 3-4 scheme. Merriman has the speed, athleticism and instincts to immediately upgrade the Texans in that facet, which would allow them to move Kailee Wong to his natural position at inside linebacker. Other scenarios: • Select WR Troy Williamson if he falls. • Choose between the best available perimeter pass rushers if Merriman is off the board: Ware, Pollack and James. • If the right perimeter pass rusher isn't available, DE Spears (if he is available). • Select OT Barron, if necessary. 14. Carolina Panthers (7-9) Alex Barron | OT | Florida State Barron could experience a bit of a slide on draft day because of his inconsistent effort and poor technique. But it would be difficult to imagine him slipping past the Panther's at No. 14. Barron needs to become more physical, but he is clearly the most naturally gifted offensive lineman in this draft. Barron has the size, strength and feet to develop into a starting right or left tackle in the NFL. If the Panthers were fortunate enough for Barron to fall to them here, he would solidify their offensive line. Mike Wahle could move back inside to his natural guard position, and Jordan Gross could remain at left tackle. Other scenarios: • OLB Johnson, if he falls. • WR Troy Williamson, if he falls. • RB's Benson or Carnell Williams, if one of the two falls. • QB Rodgers, if he falls. • If all else fails, Oklahoma OT Jammal Brown would be the pick.