Looking ahead: 2005 draft class looks strong April 26, 2004 By Pete Prisco SportsLine.com Senior Writer Tell Pete your opinion! The 2004 NFL Draft is barely behind us, and teams are still scooping up undrafted free agents, but that doesn't mean we can't take an early look to 2005. It's never too early for draft talk, is it? Since the draft talk always starts with the quarterback position, and with the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants both trading away first-round picks to get their quarterbacks of the future this weekend, we'll start there in looking at next year's crop. Purdue's Kyle Orton is part of a potentially strong '05 QB draft class.(Getty Images) Would the Bills, who traded their 2005 first-round pick to move up to take Tulane's J.P. Losman on Saturday, have been better off waiting until next year to get their future passing star? You decide. The best of the quarterback class for next year looks to be Arizona State's Andrew Walter, Purdue's Kyle Orton and USC's Matt Leinhart, if he comes out. Georgia's David Greene, Cal's Aaron Rogers, Chris Rix of Florida State and Dan Orlovsky of Connecticut are a handful of others who could be top-flight quarterbacks in next year's draft. On paper, it looks like a pretty good class, which means the Bills have a lot of pressure in the coming years to have Losman succeed. The receiving group should also be strong again, while the defensive linemen may be significantly better than this year's crop, especially inside at tackle. And there are some premier linebackers. All in all, 2005 shapes up like a heck of a draft. Of course, between now and next April a bunch of things will occur to change a lot of it. For now, here are our top 32 players in no particular order, but we start with the quarterbacks since we always do and believe every team should. Andrew Walter, Arizona State He's a prototype passer at 6-feet-7 with a big arm and some nice numbers in his two years as a starter. Walter considered entering this draft, but decided to come back for his senior season. That was a good move. He has a chance to be the first player taken next year. Matt Leinart, QB, USC He will be a junior in 2005, but if he has another good season, what will there be left for him to do? A lefty who has a great feel for the passing game, he could end up being the first player taken. Kyle Orton, QB, Purdue Orton is another pocket passer with a strong arm who continues to get better each year. He shared time as a sophomore, was a quality starter as a junior, and will now be an All-Big Ten player as a senior. Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn Williams considered coming out this year, but decided to stay in school and has a good chance to be a top 10 pick next year. He's elusive with outstanding speed, and could help make the running back in vogue again. T.A. McLendon, RB, North Carolina State He will be a junior next season, but he has the tools to be a high first-round pick if he stays healthy and enters the 2005 draft. He's a power back with good feet and decent speed. Cedric Benson, RB, Texas Another slashing back who has the speed teams like. He also considered coming out this year, but opted to stay in school and could end up in the top 10 with a good senior year. Mike Williams, WR, Southern California So far, he's still not getting into the NFL this year, although that can change. If he does get back in to USC, it would do him a lot of good. He could improve his speed technique and possibly be a top 10 pick. Fred Gibson, WR, Georgia The only thing holding him back so far has been injuries. He has size and speed, and if he can stay on the field, teams will love what they see. He is a big-play receiver. Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma This is the Clayton scouts were raving about this year at the receiver spot, and Michael Clayton of LSU went 15th in the first round. That's saying something. Clayton is small, but he has the speed teams love. Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan A tall receiver with a long stride, Edwards could be hurt this year by not having quarterback John Navarre back. Edwards is a big-play receiver who has put up some impressive numbers. Heath Miller, TE, Virginia Miller is a 6-5, 245-pound tight end who can get deep in the passing game. He's a junior who has had two good seasons and could be the first tight end taken. Jon Scott, T, Texas Scott is a 6-7, 305-pound left tackle who has outstanding feet. He started all 13 games at left tackle last year for the Longhorns as a sophomore after starting six as a redshirt freshman the year before. Jamal Brown, T, Oklahoma A powerful 6-6, 320-pound left tackle who has outstanding feet for a man his size. His play last year was a big reason the Sooners offensive line showed big improvement from the year before. Winston Justice, T, USC He has some off-field trouble with the law pending, but if that is resolved and he is back on the USC team, he has first-round talent. Justice has been starting since his freshman season, which is big-time ability in the Pac-10. Mike Munoz, T, Tennessee The son of Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz, Mike Munoz is a powerful left tackle who has battled some injuries in his career. When healthy, he's certainly a top 20 pick. Eric Winston, T, Miami Winston is the reason the Hurricanes moved Vernon Carey from tackle to guard. A former tight end, he has the athleticism teams love. Get ready for another Miami first-round pick. Marcus Spears, DE, LSU A pure power defensive end who started all 14 games as a junior last season. At 6-4, 297 pounds, he had six sacks last year playing on a good LSU defense. David Pollack, DE, Georgia This is an effort pass rusher who nearly entered this draft. The one concern with Pollack is that he isn't big, but he plays hard all the time and he has speed off the corner. Kwakou Robinson, DE, Virginia At 6-4, 327 pounds, he is a power defensive end who could go inside to tackle. Has good quickness for a man his size. He's another junior who should give strong consideration to coming out. Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin This 6-3, 313-pound player had 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage last year, showing off his ability to penetrate. A top recruit coming out of high school, he has lived up to the billing. Mike Patterson, DT, USC When teams watched tape of USC defensive end Kenechi Udeze this year, they kept talking up No. 99. That's Mike Patterson. He's a wide load with quickness who can penetrate and get pressure. His height is a concern at 6-0. Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon He is huge at 6-5, 345 pounds and has the quickness and power teams love. He will be a junior in 2004, so if he is in the draft he will have to give up his senior year. A better player than teammate Junior Siavi, a second-round pick by Kansas City this year. Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas A tall 6-6 linebacker who can run, Johnson has coveted tools. But he doesn't play as tough as some teams would like. Lance Mitchell, ILB, Oklahoma A knee injury last year prevented him from possibly entering this draft, but he returned to the field for spring practice and looked as good as he did before the injury. Might actually be a better player than teammate Teddy Lehman, who went to the Lions in the second round. Darryl Blackstock, OLB, Virginia He will only be a junior, but he has so much talent as an outside rusher that his value will be top 15. He is explosive, and at 6-4, 230, he has the size scouts love. Kevin Burnett, OLB, Tennessee After tearing up his knee at the start of 2002, Burnett returned last season to rank fourth on the team in tackles while starting 11 games. Now that he's two years removed from the surgery, he should be even better. Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami Along with Winston, Rolle is a player who should keep alive the streak of Miami players going in the first round. He's a solid cover player who also will benefit from having stayed in school. Corey Webster, CB, LSU He's a converted receiver who excelled as a starter at corner last year, earning All-SEC honors. Has good size at 6-0, 201 pounds. Should get even better this year, which could make him a top 15 pick. Chijioke Onyenegecha, CB, Oklahoma Remember this name. He is a 6-3 corner who did not play last season after transferring from junior college. But he is said to have amazing cover skills for a man his size. Watch him soar this year. Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan He spent 2003 playing safety, although he is more of a corner. The fact he can play both spots should help his value, but corners are worth more than safeties. Donte Nicholson, S, Oklahoma This is a player scouts love. He has a chance to be the first defensive back off the board next year. He's big and physical and has range. Thomas Davis, S, Georgia This is a kid who has played both safety and linebacker, but is projected at safety in the NFL. He is big for the position at 6-1, 220 pounds and has good speed. He could be special. Others to watch: Ben Wilkerson, C, LSU; Shaun Cody, DE, USC; Anthony Davis, RB, Wisconsin; Wesley Britt, T, Alabama; Alex Smith, TE, Stanford; Cedric Houston, RB, Tennessee; Elton Brown, G, Virginia; Vince Carter, C, Oklahoma; Jamaal Brimmer, S, UNLV.