2005 Draft Special Edition April 19, 2005 Many of you have asked about my draft website, and where it might be found this year. Unfortunately, because I changed servers earlier this year, I was unable to get the site completed in time for the draft. However, I have done my normal draft research, and have completed my 7-round mock draft, including trades in the first 3 rounds. I adhere to the policy that teams will take the best player available in most situations, although they will be inclined to take a player at a position of need over one who is not if they are equally rated. Of course, this type of mock is highly subjective, and including trades only makes it moreso. So if you would like to discuss the picks, please feel free to do so. But don't waste everyone's time with responses like "there's no way that guy will drop that far" or "that's way too high to take him", as such things cannot possibly be foreseen...by us or any of the so-called experts. After all, if they could tell those things, they'd be getting paid a lot more than they currently are to do so for an NFL team. So, without further ado, here is the Wulf Mock for day 1 of this year's draft. The mock for day 2 will be posted tomorrow. Enjoy! WULFMAN’S 2005 MOCK DRAFT First round 1 San Francisco QB Aaron Rodgers California The 49ers have made no secret of the fact that they have whittled down their possibilities for the first overall pick to four players: QBs Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith, WR Braylon Edwards, and CB Antrel Rolle. What should be even more obvious is that, barring an offer that they simply cannot refuse to trade down, they will take one of the two QBs with this pick. While many teams are split on who is the best choice with this pick, the 49ers need someone who can immediately start and revitalize their fanbase. Despite the potential upside in Utah’s Smith, Rodgers has played in a pro style system and is the most ready to start right away. Add in that he is a local product, and this choice should be a solid one for everyone involved. 2 Miami RB Ronnie Brown Auburn Miami would dearly love to trade down from this pick and acquire additional picks, but they need a trading partner for that, and it’s unlikely teams will want to pay the price to move up this far considering the lack of sure-fire blue chip prospects in this year’s draft class. The Dolphins were left at the altar by RB Ricky Williams a year ago, and their offensive output reflected the significance of the loss. He is now making overtures about returning to Miami, and they are at least saying that they’ll consider it. I find his return unlikely, however, as it would likely cause a great deal of trouble in the locker room. Of the two backs in this year’s draft who fit the hard-hitting, between-the-tackles style of RB new Head Coach Nick Saban wants, the most impressive has been Auburn’s Ronnie Brown. He has the power for the inside and the speed for the outside, and will start from day one. A recent story out of Miami has them interested in QB Alex Smith, and they have indeed had him in for an interview and workout. But I think this is posturing to try to entice teams interested in Smith to trade up to this position, as I don’t think they will bring in a future franchise QB when A. J. Feeley—he who cost them a second round pick in this year’s draft—hasn’t had a legitimate shot at the starting job with any level of offensive talent around him. Indeed, Tampa Bay has reportedly already talked to the Dolphins, presumably to take Smith for themselves. This whole thing looks and smells like a smokescreen to me, and I fully expect them to take Brown…but anything’s possible. 3 Minnesota (from Cleveland) WR Braylon Edwards Michigan **Projected Trade** The Browns have needs across the board, and could sit still and make a solid choice. But because they have so many needs, they will be looking to move down a little, acquire an additional pick or two, and still get one of their top-rated players. As for the Vikings, they pull off this trade because the top two players at their position of greatest need—WR—will likely be gone by the time they are on the clock at #7. With Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee all in the market for a WR, the possibility of either Braylon Edwards or Mike Williams getting thru is very slim. Teams are split on which of these two WRs is the top in the class, but the Vikings go with the guy who can help them replace the downfield threat that Randy Moss possesses. While Williams is a threat in the redzone, Edwards is a threat from anywhere on the field. Will likely beat out free agent WR Travis Taylor for the starting job as Moss’ replacement, leaving him to battle with Marcus Robinson for the other starting position. 4 Chicago RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams Auburn Chicago may be sitting in the most enviable position in the draft. They have their choice of the best remaining WR (and perhaps the best at the position) in Williams, two of the top three RBs in Carnell Williams and Cedric Benson, one of the top two QBs (again arguably the best at his position) in Alex Smith, and the best defensive prospect in the draft in LB Derrick Johnson. With so many prime players available at so many positions of need, they will undoubtedly have a lot of offers to trade down. Unfortunately for them, it’s doubtful that any of the teams with severe need at these positions will be in a position to trade up…or desire to give up what is necessary to do so. So the Bears stay put and take the highest rated player on their board at a position of need. They could certainly use Mike Williams, but the signing of Muhsin Muhammad makes it a luxury. But Thomas Jones’ back-up from a year ago, Anthony Thomas, is gone, so they need someone to groom for the future and back-up Jones this year. Cadillac fits the system that Lovie Smith brought with him from St. Louis better than Benson, so he’s the best choice. 5 Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams USC The Buccaneers have watched the draft come to them, knowing that, with three top RBs and two top WRs, one of them would fall to them at #5 no matter what other teams did. If given their choice, however, they would certainly have taken either RB Carnell Williams or WR Mike Williams. The staff coached Cadillac at the Senior Bowl and were very impressed with him. They have also made no secret of their appreciation for Mike Williams’ playmaking ability. So, in essence, Chicago made this pick easy for the Bucs, and they take the former Trojan WR. With the re-signing of Joey Galloway, and the emergence of last year’s rookie WR Michael Clayton, Williams won’t have to come in and start right away…but don’t be surprised if he does. At the very least, he’ll cut into Galloway’s playing time a lot by mid-season. 6 Tennessee CB Antrel Rolle Miami The Titans have more needs than they can possibly fill in the draft, even if they trade down with every pick. To make matters worse, there are far more teams looking to trade down than to trade up, so you have to be in the right place and the right time to find a trading partner this year. As much as the Titans would love to drop a few spots, I just don’t see it happening unless they take less than proper value for the pick. I don’t think they’re that desperate, and they can get a player at a need position here that is also near the top of their draft board. Rolle is arguably the best CB in the draft, along with West Virginia’s Adam “Pac-Man” Jones, and the decision may be made by whether or not the Titans also need want this player to be a return man. I think they’ll address that later with a WR, and they’ll take the best physical cover corner with this pick. 7 Cleveland (from Oakland thru Minnesota) QB Alex Smith Utah **Projected Trade** This could not have worked out better for the Browns and their new front office. They acquired the Vikings’ 2nd and 5th round picks this year along with a 3rd rounder next year to drop back 4 spots, and still are able to take the future of the franchise. With their acquisition of QB Trent Dilfer, they have a seasoned veteran who can start and serve as a mentor for Smith while he picks up the pro game. And, like their Ohio counterparts in Cincinnati, expect them to start their rookie acquisition next season, no matter how Dilfer performs this year. This is an excellent start to the Romeo Crennel regime. 8 Arizona CB Adam “Pac-Man” Jones West Virginia This pick is going to surprise a lot of people who think the Cardinals will take RB Cedric Benson here, particularly with the retirement of Emmitt Smith. But I expect the Cards to complete the long-anticipated trade with Buffalo to acquire RB Travis Henry, sending OT O. J. Shelton to the Bills along with their 5th round pick in this year’s draft (#168 overall, formerly belonging to New England), thus giving them the premiere RB they need. Add in the return of Marcell Shipp and the re-signing of RBs Damien Anderson and Troy Hambrick, and there’s no immediate need for a RB. The need at CB, however, is extreme. In fact, the need was severe before the trade of Duane Starks to the Patriots. Jones will be able to step in and start immediately, and will likely not be the last corner taken by Arizona in this draft. 9 Washington DE Shawne Merriman Maryland The Redskins had a much improved defensive unit last year, but they have some significant holes to fill. Fred Smoot was their best cover corner, and both Walt Harris and Shawn Springs are getting up there in years. They also lost LB Antonio Pierce in free agency, and free agent signee Brian Allen (Carolina) is unlikely to be able to fill that void. Add in the injury-filled season by LaVar Arrington and his recent comments, and you could certainly make a case for taking LB Derrick Johnson. But the biggest need is for a pass-rush playmaker in the defensive front seven, and Merriman fits the bill, whether he stays at 280 and plays DE or drops some weight to play at OLB. He is a local product, so they know him well, and drafting him serves two key purposes: it fills an immediate need and keeps Merriman away from the division rival Cowboys, who are very interested in him. 10 Detroit OT Alex Barron Florida State Just about every mock I’ve seen has the Lions nabbing LB Derrick Johnson here, and that’s certainly a possibility. But their biggest need areas are elsewhere—specifically the offensive and defensive lines. So, as good of a value as Johnson might be here, he loses out to a player that is likely rated nearly as high on the Lions’ draft Board, and who can solidify the spot vacated by the free agent departure of OT Stockar McDougle. Barron will develop into a starting caliber LT in time, and will likely compete for a starting position on one side or the other this year. Expect him to win job as McDougle’s replacement, and to help make RB Kevin Jones’ second year even better than his first. He should also enable QB Joey Harrington to find those playmakers he has on the offensive side of the ball, assuming both Roy Williams and Charles Rogers can stay healthy. 11 New Orleans (from Dallas) LB Derrick Johnson Texas **Projected Trade** This is another of those key spots in the draft, where the way previous players have fallen has played right into the Cowboys’ hands. Ideally, Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells want to trade down a few spots, pick up additional picks—preferably on the first day—and still get a player they want. The player that is likely to be in highest demand here is LB Derrick Johnson, who is coveted by several teams in the next ten picks. But with RB Cedric Benson sliding this far, he could also be in demand, as could CB Carlos Rogers—the last of the surefire first round talents at CB. And, with at least three first-round DEs, the top-rated DT, and two first round WRs still available, the Cowboys can drop at least to #17 and still get a desired player. Instead, they use the leverage to complete the trade that has been discussed for the last couple of months. New Orleans’ biggest need is LB, and they love Johnson. As for the Cowboys, they acquire the pass-rush DE they need to start opposite Greg Ellis, and still have two first round picks to fill other needs or trade down further. Value-wise, this is the equivalent of trading a high third round pick for Howard, which is less than the Saints wanted, but all the Cowboys are likely to offer. 12 San Diego (from NY Giants) DE Marcus Spears LSU This is a tough call. The Chargers could use a WR with the ability to challenge for the starting position opposite Keenan McCardell—and eventually serve as his replacement. South Carolina’s Troy Williamson would be a nice fit in that instance. But as badly as they need that WR, especially with the free agent departure of Tim Dwight (New England) and with Reche Caldwell returning from a significant injury, they need a DE just as badly. With the 3-4 defense they are running, they choose to go with Spears rather than Georgia’s David Pollack, even though I have Pollack rated higher on my draft board. Spears will compete for the starting job and should win it, barring injury. He also has the size and ability to potentially play inside on some packages, making him a very solid addition. 13 Houston RB Cedric Benson Texas It is very unlikely that the Texans envisioned a scenario where they could take one of the premiere RBs without trading up. But Gm Charley Casserly is a patient and very talented draft man, and this one came right to him. Benson will not be far from his college stomping grounds, meaning he should add considerably to the fanbase. He is very gifted, and should compete with Domanick Davis for the starting job. Whoever comes out as the starter, however, expect them to form a devastating two-man attack, with Davis cutting outside and Benson plowing through the middle. It will also make opposing defenses play even more to stop the run, allowing David Carr an extra second to find his targets downfield. 14 Carolina WR Troy Williamson South Carolina With Muhsin Muhammad gone to the Bears, and Steve Smith coming off a serious injury, the Panthers have to add another long-term solution to the passing game. Williamson has game-breaking speed, and the size to get separation from opposing defenders. He will also be playing not too far from where he played his college ball, and should add to the fans’ excitement over this choice. He likely will not start immediately, but don’t be surprised if he is challenging for that spot by midseason, at the latest. 15 Kansas City CB Carlos Rogers Auburn Like several teams ahead of them, the Chiefs feel lucky to have a quality player at a position of great need fall into their laps. Rogers is perhaps the best pure cover corner in the draft, and has the ability to contribute immediately. They could potentially go with a DE here, but this value is just too much to resist. 16 Dallas (from New Orleans) DE/OLB David Pollack Georgia ** Projected Trade** This may seem to be a redundant pick, considering they have already acquired a starting DE from New Orleans in Darren Howard. But Pollack is a high-quality, high-motor, high-character guy that has excelled everywhere he’s played regardless of position (he played no less than 3 positions for the Bulldogs). He is the quintessential “Parcells guy”. I feel confident that a part of his recent visit with the Cowboys was to discuss his role with the team, should he be taken by them in the draft. He has played at weights ranging from 245 to 290, so he has the ability to compete for a pack-up, pass-rush position at DE in the 4-3 defense, or to push veteran Al Singleton at SLB and play as a stand-up pass-rusher in 3-4 alignments. With Ogbogu already working as a pass-rush specialist at DE, I expect Pollack to drop down to the 250-260 range and play at OLB. Don’t be surprised if he cuts into Singleton’s playing time or even beats him out, despite having to learn a new position. His motor runs that high. 17 Cincinnati TE Heath Miller Virginia The Bengals could very easily take a defensive end here to help with Marvin Lewis’ pass rush. But what they seem to need even more is a legitimate receiving threat across the middle of the field. Lewis had a chance to see for himself the impact that Todd Heap had in Baltimore, and Miller is cut from the same cloth. He is, by far, the best TE in the draft, and will start immediately. He has the talent to challenge for offensive rookie of the year honors, as well as push Heap, Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez, and San Diego’s Antonio Gates for a Pro Bowl spot. Another very solid pick for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. 18 Minnesota DE Erasmus James Wisconsin Minnesota has been filling their most obvious needs in free agency, having signed QB Brad Johnson to replace the departed Gus Frerotte, DT Pat Williams to replace Chris Hovan, and S Darren Sharper to replace Brian Russell. They also received LB Napolean Harris in the trade with the Raiders, and he’ll replace the departed Chris Claiborne. In addition, they upgraded by signing CB Fred Smoot, who will start opposite Antione Winfield to form a very dynamic starting combination at the position. Having taken Edwards earlier to help fill the void left by Randy Moss, they can afford to take the best player available, regardless of position. Fortunately for them, James also happens to play at a position of need. Pairing him with last year’s draft pick, DE Kenechi Udeze, will give the Vikings one of the most formidable front four in all of football. 19 St. Louis OT Jammal Brown Oklahoma The Rams finally signed premiere LT Orlando Pace to a long-term contract, solidifying that side of the offensive line. Unfortunately for them, RT Kyle Turley, who was acquired from the Saints to be the bookend on the other side, is likely out of football due to injury. Veteran Grant Williams has had multiple opportunities to win the starting position there, and he simply doesn’t have what it takes week in and week out. Brown is a legitimate RT, and should step into the starting line-up from day one. 20 Atlanta (from Buffalo via Dallas) DT Travis Johnson Florida State **Projected Trade** In what seems to be a recurring theme, the Cowboys trade down again, this time gaining the Falcons’ picks in the first (#27), third (#90), and sixth round (#163) picks. This may seem to be a lot, but the Falcons get the best DT in what is a very shallow talent pool, and they do have a sixth round pick from Denver to use. They need help at both DE and DT, but the likelihood of one worthy of a first round pick making it to them at #27 is small, at best. Johnson will help fill the holes caused by the departure of DTs Ed Jasper and Travis Hall, and should start immediately.