This year stands to be, in my opinion, the most interesting NFL draft in years both from an NFL and fantasy perspective. There is so little certainty among the player grades that teams are likely to have a vast divergence among their overall boards. More than any year in memory, one GM’s trash is going to be another GM’s treasure. Also, with so many teams “willing” to trade their franchised players, we could potentially have some blockbuster deals leading up to and on draft weekend. Finally, from a fantasy perspective, the majority of top tier players this year are offensive players and, many of the top teams have needs that are directly applicable to fantasy situations. We should, at a minimum, have 3 rookie RBs selected that are also expected to start in 2005; and certainly the receiving corps of Mike Williams, Braylon Edwards, Mark Clayton and Troy Williamson have a chance to make an immediate impact, too.
With so much intrigue also comes uncertainty; making it nearly impossible to accurately project the draft proceedings unless you’re plugged into the war rooms of all 32 franchises. We’ve had several mock drafts in the last few weeks in the Shark Pool, and we’ve also analyzed and critiqued innumerable mocks from other sites. I’ve personally been working on this mock for weeks, and have made changes nearly ever day as the latest bits of information and speculation hit the news wires. Finally, for the sake of sanity, I’ve decided ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
So here is my final mock draft before the real day in two weeks. While I realize there are going to be picks that you don’t agree with, rest assured you’re also not likely going to get an argument from me if you voice your disagreements. I could easily see up to 3/4ths of these picks go a different direction.
My goals with this final mock were to gather up all the data from the Combine, Pro Days and individual workouts, come to my OWN PERSONAL depth chart (by position and overall), overlay that depth chart with team needs and, to whatever degree possible, a discipline as to whether teams really do have history of taking “BPA” (best available player) ignoring more obviously needs, and lastly, TO HAVE SOME FUN.
[*]There WILL be reaches
[*]There WILL be head scratching moves
[*]There WILL be guys who take meteoric rises (it only takes one GM to have a player high on their board)
[*]There WILL be picks based on need
[*]There WILL be picks based on “best player available”
[/list]So without further ado, here is my final 3-round mock draft with commentary and trade analysis.
1.01 San Francisco 49ers — QB Aaron Rodgers, California
While the 49ers certainly would’ve entertained offers to trade down, this was not the year to accomplish that goal. Luckily, both Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith showed the potential of being franchise QBs, which made San Francisco’s situation much more palatable. In any event, the 49ers opt for Aaron Rodgers, who has superior mechanics to Smith and is better suited to play in the West Coast offense out of the gate, having studied under Cal head coach/QB guru Jeff Tedford.
1.02 Miami Dolphins — RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn
Although most mock drafts have Miami selecting Brown (or trading down), few realize how close the Dolphins were to selecting Alex Smith instead. But, by draft day the Fins have come to a consensus and believe Brown offers them the cornerstone to re-build. Brown has the size (6’0”, 233 pounds) and speed (4.4) that teams covet. Unlike the other elite RB prospects this year, Brown can immediately be an every down back as he’s a polished receiver and committed blocker. Saban knows Brown well from his days at LSU and welcomes the opportunity to address a major need while also taking the best available player.
1.03 Minnesota Vikings (via Cleveland) — WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan
Trade Parameters: Minnesota trades 1.07 and 3.80 for the rights to move up to 1.03
Cleveland gladly accepts another 3rd rounder to move down while Minnesota jumps at the chance to grab the one player they covet above all others. Edwards, rated by many as the top prospect in the draft, isn’t going to replace Randy Moss but he’s got Pro Bowl caliber talent and, as importantly, appears well spoken and of high character. This move comes as a surprise to some given the Vikings acquisition of free agent WR Travis Taylor, but by adding Edwards, the Vikings believe they’re positioned with bookend 1,000 yard WRs in their early primes.
1.04 Chicago Bears — RB Cedric Benson, Texas
Bob Kemp, the long-time Sporting News reporter, had the early call that the Bears intended on taking a RB with the 4th pick versus one of the elite wide receivers as many projected. With a failed attempt to utilize the spread passing attack in the windy confines of Soldier Field and the subsequent re-hiring of Ron Turner to implement a more balanced, ball control offense, the team needed a centerpiece capable of 20-25 touches a game. Cedric Benson, the ultra-prolific RB from the University of Texas fits the bill perfectly. Benson appears relieved on draft day as his stock was allegedly on the decline during the weeks leading up to the draft.
1.05 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — RB Cadillac Williams, Auburn
Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen were faced with several intriguing options at the 5 spot, and no pick among the top 5 was as uncertain as the Bucs choice. The Bucs brain trust has been known to take risks (i.e., Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th pick in the first round) but this time few draft pundits would call their selection “risky.” Williams, the backfield running mate to Ronnie Brown, was actually more productive in college and yet comes off the board three picks later. Gruden got to know Williams firsthand at the Senior Bowl and believes he has finally added the multi-dimensional home run threat at tailback he’s been desperate for during his time in Tampa Bay. Bucs fans rejoice as the days of Garner/Pittman/Alstott are likely behind them.
1.06 Tennessee Titans — CB Antrel Rolle, Miami
The Titans have needs at almost every position, having undergone a massive salary cap purge in the offseason. With QB Steve McNair coming back for another go around, many thought the team would opt for an offensive cog to offset the loss of WR Derrick Mason. But the Titans, first and foremost, need to improve a defense that ranked 27th last season and then proceeded to lose its two starting cornerbacks. After debating the relative merits of Adam “Pac Man” Jones and Antrel Rolle, the Titans opt for Rolle who has better size and is the bigger hitter of the two. Rolle will be asked to step into the role of departed cornerback Samari Rolle (no relation) and man up against the likes of Marvin Harrison, Jimmy Smith and former teammate Andre Johnson.
1.07 Cleveland Browns — QB Alex Smith, Utah
Trade Parameters: Cleveland receives picks 1.07 and 3.80 from Minnesota in exchange for pick 1.03
Phil Savage took on an unenviable task in rebuilding a moribund Browns franchise; but has become an early candidate for Executive of the Year. After jettisoning the Browns litany of former 1st round castoffs (thanks Denver!) and bringing in affordable upgrades at key positions, he set his sights on the NFL draft and came away with the player most expected him to take PLUS another 3rd round pick. What Smith lacks in experience under center (he played in a shotgun the majority of the time) or his level of competition, he more than makes up for with his intelligence and athleticism. Smith demonstrated all the arm strength and mobility necessary to survive the early growing pains, and his ability to digest a playbook and break down film projects perfectly with what Savage wants from his franchise QB.
1.08 San Diego Chargers (via Arizona) — WR Mike Williams, USC
Trade Parameters: San Diego receives pick 1.08 in exchange for pick 1.12 and a conditional 2006 3rd round selection (which can be a 2nd rounder if incentives are met)
San Diego had been looking into moving up for Mike Williams for some time, but was rebuked at every step. The Chargers brass hadn’t been in discussions with Denny Green and Arizona as they hadn’t figured Williams would be available at the 8th pick. But once Williams is on the board at 8, San Diego reaches out to the Arizona war room and a deal is consummated. Green, having already acquired a RB in Travis Henry (via trade with Buffalo for L.J. Shelton) sees three or four players on his board that should almost certainly be available at the 12th spot, and the chance to add another 2nd or 3rd rounder makes too much sense to pass up. Chargers fans are elated as San Diego grabs a playmaking WR in Williams (from the West Coast no less) AND doesn’t have to part ways with its other 2005 1st round selection in the process.
1.09 Washington Redskins — DE Shawne Merriman, Maryland
The Redskins defense was dominant last year while the offense harkened back more to the Richie Petitbon era than Gibbs’ first go around. Nevertheless, the team adds Merriman with the 9th pick to add pass rushing ability from the edge. The Redskins managed 40 sacks in 2004 despite no player having more than 4.5 (LB Marcus Washington). Merriman, a local product, is a physical marvel who should give the Redskins a more consistent pass rush from the front 4. While some Skins fans would’ve rather seen Washington go with a cornerback at this spot, the Redskins believe CB is deep enough to find a contributor in later rounds, whereas no one remaining comes close to matching Merriman’s grade on their big board.
1.10 Detroit Lions — OT Alex Barron, Florida State
After focusing heavily on skill position players the last few years, Millen goes with an offensive tackle to shore up the line. The Lions allowed 37 sacks a year ago and proceeded to lose OT Stockar McDougle in free agency. After signing OG Rick DeMulling for the interior, the Lions add the mammoth Barron to potentially cement a young, dominant line to maximize the opportunities for Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Kevin Jones. There was little consensus on Alex Barron, as his inconsistency led some teams to downgrade him, but his measurables and marquee performances hint at elite level ability.
1.11 Dallas Cowboys — LB Derrick Johnson, Texas
The Cowboys need playmakers on defense and Bill Parcells wants someone that can create havoc at the LB position in the way his best teams in NY did with Lawrence Taylor. Although Johnson doesn’t project to have that kind of impact, he’s a versatile linebacker who is both a sure tackler and fluid in coverage. Johnson’s only potential downside is difficulty shedding blockers, but the Cowboys brass are confident he can get past that with proper technique.
1.12 Arizona Cardinals — CB Adam “Pac Man” Jones, West Virginia
Trade Parameters: San Diego receives pick 1.08 in exchange for pick 1.12 and a conditional 2006 3rd round selection (which can be a 2nd rounder if incentives are met)
When Denny traded down to 1.12, it was because he had several players that he would’ve happily drafted and knew at least one would fall. Ironically, the one atop his list was Pac Man Jones, but Green figured he might be gone and would’ve instead grabbed Carlos Rogers. Regardless, the Cardinals bring aboard Jones, a shut down cover corner who also moonlights as an electric return man. Some teams had downgraded Jones because of perceived off-the-field issues, but Green has history with such players (read: Randy Moss) and is confident Jones will tow the line.
1.13 Houston Texans — DE Marcus Spears, LSU
The Texans need to bolster both lines, and with Alex Barron off the board they select the best available defensive end. Spears, capable of playing end or tackle, is the perfect fit for the Texans 3-4 scheme. He was highly productive for a championship caliber defense at LSU and should provide Dom Capers and the Texans staff with a two-way player at a critical position of need.
1.14 Carolina Panthers — WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina
The Panthers would’ve liked Alex Barron at this pick, and were willing to discuss moving up to select him. But once that failed, the team took the “BPA” in WR Troy Williamson. Panthers brass had the speedy Williamson rated a top 10 overall prospect and happily add him to the roster despite having an intriguing WR tandem in Keary Colbert and Steve Smith. Williamson adds both size and speed to the mix, giving the Panthers an added dimension and hopefully making up for the loss of Muhsin Muhammad.
1.15 Kansas City Chiefs — DE DeMarcus Ware, Troy
Had the Chiefs not acquired CB Patrick Surtain from the Dolphins in a pre-draft trade, Kansas City likely would’ve turned their attention to one of the highly regarded CB prospects still on the board. But with the CB issue solved, the Chiefs look to bolster the defensive line/pass rush with the addition of Ware. Ware, a bit undersized to play end (251 pounds), had a meteoric rise up the draft charts with a fine showing at the Senior Bowl and then followed that up with an eye opening Combine where he participated in both end and linebacker drills. With the success of undersize rush ends in recent years, NFL teams aren’t scared off by Ware’s lack of bulk. For a team desperate to win now, the Chiefs can’t afford to pass up on a potential difference maker at rush end. This pick, like many of Dick Vermeil’s draft selections, raises plenty of eyebrows (particularly with DE David Pollack available), but only time will tell if this was a reach or prescient.
1.16 New Orleans Saints — S/LB Thomas Davis, Georgia
The Saints are desperate for defensive help, finishing last season 27th in yards allowed. Two major areas of need are linebacker and safety, and Davis could fill either. Some teams project Davis as an outside LB, while others see him as a hard-hitting safety (which was his collegiate position). In any event, Davis (who led the Georgia Bulldogs in tackles each of the last two seasons) is adequate in coverage but dominant inside the box, exactly the kind of player the Saints woeful rush defense (31st worst, 4.6 yards per rush allowed in 2004) needs to right the ship.
1.17 Cincinnati Bengals — DT Travis Johnson, Florida State
The Bengals were a difficult team to get a read on, but they address a clear need with the selection of Johnson, arguably the top rated defensive tackle on the board. The selection of Johnson is a case of gambling on greatness. Johnson was one of the highest recruited defensive linemen coming out of high school but had relatively modest success at Florida State until 2004 when he established himself as a dominant interior lineman. Johnson was acquitted of rape charges in 2003 and gave a lackluster effort at the Combine, which caused many to drop him from their boards entirely. HC Marvin Lewis and the Bengals brass apparently feel the rewards outweigh the risks and add Johnson a bit earlier than many pundits expected.
1.18 Minnesota Vikings — DE David Pollack, Georgia
No team has undergone as dramatic a makeover as the Vikings this offseason, and David Pollack is another piece to the defensive puzzle. Pollack, a classic 4-3 defensive end, will line up alongside Kenichi Udeze, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams to form one of the best front fours in the NFC. Not only was Pollack the highest rated player on the Vikings board, he also happens to fill one of the remaining glaring needs (having already added help at S, CB, DT and WR in free agency).
1.19 St. Louis Rams — OT Khalif Barnes, Washington
This is a team that needs offensive lineman, and the team hopes Barnes is suited to play right tackle for the next decade in St. Louis. Barnes, a 4-year starter at Washington, recovered nicely from a broken wrist his senior year to put on a display at the Senior Bowl. Barnes has been one of the most sought after players in terms of private workout requests, and there’s little doubt that he’ll be gone by the end of the 1st round at the latest. While some question his consistency, no other tackle has his experience combined with solid two-way technique.
1.20 New York Jets (via Dallas) — CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn
Trade Parameters: New York receives 1.20 from Dallas in exchange for 1.26, a 5th rounder and a conditional 2006 late round selection
The Jets approach the Cowboys about moving up as Carlos Rogers, a player some felt had top 10 potential, falls to the 20th spot. New York doesn’t believe Rogers will last until their original pick at 1.26, and Dallas is more than happy to make this move in exchange for an additional handful of picks, particularly because the Cowboys see no one on the board that shouldn’t be available for them in six selections. Rogers, a fluid corner with good size, easily slots as one of the Jets two best corners, and fills one of the few major needs on a young, effective defense.
1.21 Jacksonville Jaguars — CB Fabian Washington, Nebraska
Fabian Washington made himself A LOT of money by running a blazing 40-time at the NFL Combine. Considered a 3rd rounder on most boards prior to the Combine, his stock rocketed as teams cannot seem to pass up ungodly measureables even when the level of play doesn’t necessarily match. The Jaguars, who addressed their defensive line needs in free agency, have a gaping hole at cornerback (parting ways with D. Washington and J. Bolden) and Washington fills that need potentially. Washington is among a handful of corners that could project to this spot, but the Jaguars opt for his size/speed combination probably as a backlash from having corners that were a step too slow the year before.
1.22 Baltimore Ravens — WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma
The Wizard of Oz has earned his reputation as the league’s top personnel executive despite mediocre acquisitions on offense. Yet, after signing WR D. Mason in free agency and now selecting Mark Clayton, the team has a compelling arsenal for QB Kyle Boller. Newsome really didn’t hesitate to make this selection, as Clayton shouldn’t have fallen this far. Highly productive for one of the best offenses in college, Clayton is everything you look for in an NFL WR; save for his size (5’10”, 193 pounds). But as Marvin Harrison, Laveranues Coles and Derrick Mason have shown, size isn’t a gating factor when you have great hands, a strong work ethic and run precise routes — as Clayton does. Ravens faithful begin their Super Bowl chants in elation.
1.23 Seattle Seahawks — LB Darryl Blackstock, Virginia
Despite signing Jamie Sharper to a lucrative contract just two weeks before the draft, the Seahawks select Blackstock; their top rated remaining LB in a generally weak class. Some feel Blackstock is a reach at this point, particularly because he appears better suited as a situational pass rusher than an every down linebacker. That said, given the character issues of other top rated linebackers (Crowder, Thurman), and a fervent need for playmakers at the position, new GM Tim Ruskell brings aboard Blackstock in a bid for greatness.
1.24 Green Bay Packers — DE Erasmus James, Wisconsin
The painful fall has stopped for Erasmus James, one of the few remaining players in the Green Room at the Javits Center. James, who put together a truly dominant 1st half of 2004, is arguably the prototypical 4-3 2-way defensive end, and the most gifted pass rusher in the class. But a lackluster 2nd half and an inability to work out for teams after a minor injury caused his stock to fall. The Packers, convinced that his injury issues (particularly his 2003 hip injury) aren’t recurring, opt for James as the true “value” pick and put their more pressing needs on hold.
1.25 Denver Broncos — CB Justin Miller, Clemson
One never knows what Mike Shanahan will do on draft day, but the selection of Justin Miller receives kudos from draft analysts the world over. Miller, a potential shut down corner, is also one of the best return men in the draft; an area of great need for the Broncos. After losing Kelly Herndon to free agency, and with Lenny Walls inconsistent at best, Shanahan brings aboard someone who can learn to play on an island from Champ Bailey, one of the best in the business.
1.26 Dallas Cowboys (via New York Jets) — OT Jamaal Brown, Oklahoma
Trade Parameters: New York receives 1.20 from Dallas in exchange for 1.26, a 5th rounder and a conditional 2006 late round selection
The Cowboys are putting on a clinic in the 1st round, having landed their top rated defensive player by staying patient at 1.11 and then grabbing a potential perfect fit for the RT spot by trading down. Jamaal Brown, a true right tackle, would’ve been higher had he projected as a LT, but instead the Cowboys grab him to fill a need as last year’s draft pick Jacob Rodgers, appears ready for retirement due to injury. Brown should have little trouble cracking the lineup as Torrin Tucker currently is penciled in at RT.
1.27 Atlanta Falcons — DE Matt Roth, Iowa
With Dan Cody and Shaun Cody still on the board, this pick is a head scratcher for some but the Falcons brass confidently opt for the player atop their draft board. Roth, a bit stiff, reminds Falcons brass of DE Patrick Kerney and would rather draft someone with intensity and a high motor than someone who has all the talent but somehow falls short of harnessing that talent on the field. In any event, Mel Kiper and the ESPN crew just can’t believe the Falcons selected Roth while Dan Cody is still on the board.
1.28 San Diego Chargers — DT Shaun Cody, USC
Shaun Cody was the most productive player on the best defensive line in college over the last few years at USC. Although he played tackle at USC, Cody participated in end and tackle drills at the Combine in hopes of proving his versatility. Unfortunately for Cody, his size (293 lbs.) had many believing he was too small to play tackle in the NFL. But with the Chargers using a lot of 3-4 fronts, Cody is potentially a perfect fit. Hard to argue against landing an ultra-productive player from a premier team who also is, by all accounts, a vocal leader and presence in the locker room.
1.29 Philadelphia Eagles (via Indy) — DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern
Trade Parameters: Philadelphia receivers 1.29 from Indianapolis in exchange for 2.35 and 3.77
Many question why the Eagles would part with a 3rd rounder to move up just six spots but Andy Reid has never been one to doubt his own instincts. The Eagles have coveted Castillo, and Reid didn’t want to risk losing out on a player he sees as a potential impact tackle in the 4-3 defense for the sake of an extra pick. With the Eagles having 13 selections and very few roster spots available; this trade made sense for both sides. Castillo is a high character guy with above average intelligence, skills that the Eagles value given the complexity of DC Jim Johnson’s defense.
1.30 Pittsburgh Steelers — CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan
The Steelers are coming off a 15-1 season despite playing a rookie QB; they are in the position of drafting the best available player versus need. That player is CB Marlin Jackson, who were it not for a very deep CB class might’ve been off the board in the first 15 picks in a normal year. Jackson is the kind of physical corner that Cowher and DC LeBeau appreciate; and he’s someone they had rated higher than either Fabian Washington or Justin Miller; who are already off the board.
1.31 Philadelphia Eagles — TE Heath Miller, Virginia
Hernia surgery completely derailed Heath Miller’s draft positioning as he was physically unable to show off the pass-catching skills that made his decision to declare early a no-brainer. In a league where the TE position has enjoyed a renaissance, it’s hard to believe the first TE didn’t come off the board until the 31st pick. Not perceived as a huge need for the Eagles, having L.J. Smith on board, the team quietly viewed the TE position as an important target in the draft thanks to the expected retirement of Chad Lewis. By all accounts, Miller’s injury will be a non event by the time training camp begins, and thus the Eagles have managed to fill a need and stay true to their “best player available” doctrine in one fell swoop.
1.32 New England Patriots — DE Dan Cody, Oklahoma
You’re not supposed to be able to land playmakers year in, year out when you pick at the tail end of the first round but somehow the Patriots find a way. Last year’s selection of Vince Wilfork looks brilliant in retrospect and this year’s selection of Dan Cody will likely do the same. Cody, rated as high as a top 10 prospect on some early boards, suffered from a lack of buzz while other defensive end prospects (Merriman, Ware) zoomed past him. Yet few defensive ends have enjoyed as productive a career as Cody.
2.33 San Francisco 49ers — WR Reggie Brown, Georgia
The 49ers continue to revamp their team with the selection of Brown, a 6’2, 195 pound senior from Georgia. Much faster than some feared (4.45 40 at his Pro Day), Brown is sure handed and adept at making yards after the catch; in other words, the prototypical WCO wide receiver. While some feel the 49ers have more pressing needs, the fact the 49ers were seriously considering Braylon Edwards with the top overall choice and the flirtation with David Boston despite his baggage show that the 49ers new brain trust view WR as a major need.
2.34 Cleveland Browns — LB Kevin Burnett, Tennessee
The Browns address a major need at OLB with Kevin Burnett, a tackling machine from the University of Tennessee. Burnett has a major weakness, pass coverage, but with Romeo Crennel running the show, the Browns are confident they can put Burnett in the position to flourish (i.e., rushing the passer and flowing to the ball.)
2.35 Indianapolis (via Philadelphia) — OG/OT Marcus Johnson, Mississippi
Trade Parameters: Philadelphia receives 1.29 from Indianapolis in exchange for 2.35 and 3.77
Indianapolis has needs along the offensive line, particularly with the loss of OG Rick DeMulling. Marcus Johnson goes from protecting Eli Manning in college to protecting Peyton Manning in the Pros. Johnson, who played both tackle and guard at Ole Miss, is projected as a guard by most scouts and will initially play inside for the Colts. Johnson (6’7”, 321 lbs.) is an athletic, technically sound lineman with a mean streak.
2.36 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — S Brodney Pool, Oklahoma
With D. Smith departing for free agency (a year after the release of John Lynch), the team lacks the proven, playmaking safety that has been the hallmark of their dominant years running the Cover-2. Brodney Pool is a potential fit. Pool, the QB of the Sooners defense, is excellent in coverage, and shows rare ability to recognize play action and ball fakes; a critical component to playing FS in the Tampa defense.
2.37 Tennessee Titans — OT Adam Terry, Syracuse
Terry fills a need at tackle, thus justifying the perceived “reach” at this point in the 2nd round. While the scouts aren’t projecting him as a franchise tackle, he has the physical tools (6’8”, 330 lbs.) to dominate, particularly as a right tackle.
2.38 Oakland Raiders — LB Channing Crowder, Florida
Based on talent and potential alone, Channing Crowder is probably a top 20 overall player. But thanks to a confluence of issues (attitude, injury, inconsistency), Crowder’s stock has been on the decline and has, by some accounts, been removed from the draft board by several teams entirely. In any event, the Raiders have never met a “bad boy” they didn’t like and Al Davis gets a potentially dominant physical presence at inside linebacker provided Crowder can stay healthy and keep his head on straight.
2.39 Chicago Bears — WR Roddy White, UAB
The guy Mel Kiper “guaranteed” would be a 1st round selection has finally been put out of his misery by the offense-starved Chicago Bears. The Bears, who added Muhsin Muhammad in free agency, needed another WR to start opposite him and opt for the Conference USA standout. White isn’t the complete receiver that Muhammad is, but provides a sure handed vertical threat who can make plays with the ball in his hand. White must prove he can break free of press coverage, and is a liability as a blocker, but as a pure pass catcher gives the Bears a dynamic option for QB Rex Grossman’s new offensive arsenal.
2.40 New Orleans Saints — LB Barrett Ruud, Nebraska
The Saints continue their defensive makeover with the addition of Barrett Ruud, a tackling machine out of Nebraska. Ruud hurt himself at the Senior Bowl where his lack of athleticism stood out amid the other defensive prospects. However, much in the same vein as Zach Thomas (MLB, Miami), Ruud has natural football instincts and finds ways to make plays despite not being the fastest or strongest player. HC Jim Haslett lobbies for Ruud, someone reminiscent of his own playing style back in the day.
2.41 Detroit Lions — WR Matt Jones, Arkansas
The most hyped player of the season, Matt Jones finally comes off the board with the 41st pick. Jones, a physical marvel (6’6”, 250 lbs, 4.4-40), raced up the draft board once he committed to playing receiver (he was a collegiate QB). Although Jones is raw as a receiver, his outlandish physical measurables combined with the success of other QB-turned-WR (e.g., Hines Ward, A. Randel El) make him too enticing to pass up at this juncture. With the pieces already in place for an explosive offense, Millen roles the dice on someone that could become an elite playmaker over time.
2.42 Dallas Cowboys — WR Terrence Murphy, Texas A&M
Murphy (6’1”, 202 lbs, 4.39 40) has the size and speed NFL personnel executives covet but is admittedly much less polished than the other WRs already off the board. Murphy doesn’t run precise routes and has a tendency to catch balls with his body on occasion, but has shown enough production in a run-first offense that scouts believe he could someday develop into a reliable NFL starter. In the meantime, Murphy is one of the country’s best kick returners; something the Cowboys desperately need.
2.43 New York Giants — DT Mike Patterson, USC
Three or four inches are all that separated Mike Patterson from first round riches and his current position as a mid 2nd rounder. At only 6’0”, some scouts shied away from Patterson despite his high level of productivity playing for one of the best teams in the country. Patterson is a true interior tackle, yet has rare pass rush ability from the inside (13 sacks in the last two seasons); which makes him an ideal fit for the New York Giants who have a void to fill at tackle and need complementary pass rushers to help take pressure off of Michael Strahan.
2.44 Buffalo (via Arizona) — DE Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
Trade Parameters: As part of the Travis Henry for L.J. Shelton trade, the Bills received the Cardinals 2.44 in exchange for 2.55.
The Bills have more pressing needs, but Tom Donahoe won’t pass up on the promising Justin Tuck, who projected as a first rounder on the Bills draft board. Tuck (6’5”, 265 lbs.) is Notre Dame’s all-time leader in sacks and has acquitted himself as a run defender at times. The Bills consider themselves lucky to have added Tuck at this stage of the draft (in fact, it wouldn’t have shocked anyone had Tuck gone MUCH earlier).
2.45 Carolina Panthers — OG Elton Brown, Virginia
Considered by some to be the best interior lineman in the draft, the Panthers solidify their offensive line further (they added Mike Wahle in free agency) after adding an offensive playmaker in the first round. Brown (6’5”, 329) is a dominant pass defender and “excellent” trap blocker according to scouts. The only reason Brown lasted until the 2nd round was a propensity for injury (Brown pulled a hamstring at his Pro Day and didn’t work out at the Combine due to a minor knee injury), but if healthy, projects as an above average interior lineman.
2.46 Kansas City Chiefs — S Josh Bullocks, Nebraska
The Chiefs add someone to play center field in their revamped defense. Bullocks, 2nd on the Huskers all-time INT list, is a classic pass defender and a critical addition to a team that ranked dead last in passing yards allowed a year ago. Bullocks isn’t going to be effective in the box as a run defender, but the Chiefs addressed that issue with other offseason moves (i.e., Sammy Knight and Kendrell Bell).
2.47 Houston Texans — LB Odell Thurman, Georgia
A tackling machine and highly productive manning the middle for an elite collegiate defense, Thurman would be a higher on most draft boards were it not for some disconcerting off-the-field issues. Nevertheless, his production level is too enticing for some team not to take a chance in the 2nd or 3rd round, and the Texans make the leap driven in part by desperation to replace the departed Jamie Sharper.
2.48 Cincinnati Bengals — C David Baas, Michigan
David Baas is another in a long line of productive offensive lineman to hail from the University of Michigan. Having started for much of his career at guard, Baas moved to center and flourished. In a league where the center position has gained in stature of late, Baas is the best of a talented bunch in the 2005 draft class.
2.49 Minnesota Vikings — PK Mike Nugent, Ohio State
The Vikings have struggled to find a reliable place kicker during the Mike Tice era so they turn their attention to Nugent, one of the better PK prospects in recent memory.
2.50 St. Louis Rams — CB Corey Webster, LSU
The unpredictable Rams strike again, this time grabbing CB Corey Webster. Webster probably would’ve been a higher pick last year, had he chosen to come out early but the combination of a strong class of CBs and a lackluster effort at the Senior Bowl hurt Webster’s draft stock. One of the most physically gifted CBs in the country; he exited LSU 2nd in career INTs. What some perceive as a lack of effort may in fact simply be indicative of someone who’s so talented it almost looks too easy. That said, Webster is prone to biting on play action and double moves, and doesn’t have ideal technique, but this work in progress is almost certainly an immediate upgrade for the Rams beleaguered secondary.
2.51 Green Bay Packers — QB Charlie Frye, Akron
Finally the 3rd QB is off the board and it’s Frye, the latest MAC QB to make his presence felt in the NFL (following in the footsteps of Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich and Big Ben Roethlisberger). The Packers are eyeing the future and Brett Favre’s eventual replacement, and apparently saw enough from Frye that it warranted spending a 2nd rounder on him despite glaring needs at other critical positions. Word trickles out later that Brett Favre had a hand in this selection, believing Frye is someone he can tutor for the next year or two and leave the Packers in good hands.
2.52 Jacksonville Jaguars — WR Jerome Mathis, Hampton
Many folks watching at home had never heard of Jerome Mathis before Commissioner Tagliabue called his name; but chances are they will get to know his name very quickly. Mathis was unbelievably productive (TD per 4.4 receptions) at D1-AA Hampton and quietly rose up the draft boards once teams got a look at him in workouts and at the Combine. Mathis ran one of the fastest times in Combine history (4.28) but also showed well in the positional drills. The only mark on him is his level of competition, but with the success of other small school players (first and foremost Jerry Rice), it’s a risk worth taking for the Jaguars at this point.
2.53 Baltimore Ravens — DT Anttaj Hawthorne, Wisconsin
Hawthorne (6’3”, 330 lbs.) hurt his draft stock with a subpar effort at the Combine but redeemed himself at his March Pro Day to a degree. Hawthorne is a conventional run stopper who will plug the gaps but isn’t suited to generate an interior pass rush. The Ravens, who attempted to acquire DT Corey Simon from the Eagles, felt the need to bolster their interior line and will initially use Hawthorne as part of the tackle rotation.
2.54 Seattle Seahawks — CB Stanley Wilson, Stanford
Despite adding Kelly Herndon in free agency, the Seahawks add another CB in Wilson. Opinions were mixed on Wilson following a Senior Bowl performance that saw him shine (in practice early in the week) and then falter (later in the week). Wilson shuns contact and isn’t a sure tackler, but when in position can stay with any receiver. The key will be not to put Wilson out on an island against physical receivers; easier said than done.
2.55 Arizona Cardinals (via Buffalo) — C/OG Chris Spencer, Mississippi
Trade Parameters: As part of the Travis Henry for L.J. Shelton trade, the Bills received the Cardinals 2.44 in exchange for 2.55.
The Cardinals add one of the better interior prospects in the draft with the versatile Spencer. Able to play both center and guard, Spencer will either slot at LG (replacing Reggie Wells) or will man the center position while Alex Stepanovich moves to guard.
2.56 Denver Broncos — WR Craphonso Thorpe, Florida State
Craphonso Thorpe entered his senior season as one of the top rated WR prospects, but a lackluster final season tarnished his reputation a bit. Despite that, Thorpe did enough at the Senior Bowl and on his Pro Day to ensure that some team would see him for the Pro Bowl potential and not for the disappointing reality. Thorpe is a burner who is one of the better jump ball receivers in college. While Thorpe will be relegated to backup duty for the Broncos initially; he should contribute on special teams and eventually slot as Rod Smith’s replacement.
2.57 New York Jets — TE Alex Smith, Stanford
Smith benefits from a weak TE class as he probably wouldn’t have been a first day selection in the last few drafts. In any event, Smith (6’4”, 258 lbs.) isn’t a burner (4.9 40) in the mold of today’s pass-catching TE machines, but is sure handed and runs precise routes. The Jets hope he solves the team's need for a pass catcher to work the middle of the field; while Jets fans just hope he’s not the latest in a long line of TE busts (Jeff Mitchell, Kyle Brady, Anthony Becht).
2.58 Green Bay Packers — S O.J. Atogwe, Stanford
The 3rd Cardinal drafted in the last five picks, Atogwe may turn out to be the best pro of the bunch. He was the Cardinals’ leading tackler each of the last 3 seasons, and has the classic in-the-box style the Packers are missing in their secondary currently. Yet, he’s also not a liability in coverage; making him a potential starter from day one.
2.59 Atlanta Falcons — OG Evan Mathis, Alabama
Evan Mathis (6’5”, 304) didn’t stand out from the pack in college, but has wowed scouts with his athleticism and technique in workouts. Once considered a 4th-5th rounder, he worked his way into the 2nd round and the Falcons grab him to shore up their offensive line. While some pundits believe the Falcons will wait until the later rounds because of Alex Gibbs’ presence, the team doesn’t want to find itself without a capable backup or two given their readiness to compete for an NFC title.
2.60 Indianapolis Colts — DT Jon Babineaux, Iowa
Babineaux was Iowa’s defensive MVP (not Matt Roth), providing 11 sacks from the interior defensive line. Clearly undersized for a traditional tackle (6’2”, 286 lbs.), Babineaux worked end and linebacker drills at the Combine in an effort to show his versatility. The Colts, having success with another undersized ‘tweener (Dwight Freeney), focus on his on field production and worry less about his less-than-ideal girth.
2.61 San Diego Chargers — LB Matt McCoy, San Diego State
The home town product comes aboard amid gasps of “Reach!” by the unlearned, yet McCoy’s stock has taken a meteoric rise in the last month leading up to the draft. McCoy was a highly productive outside ‘backer who didn’t register on many teams’ radar initially thanks to a broken wrist in the final weeks of his 2004 season and subsequently declaring early. Yet, McCoy has put on a clinic in private and Pro Day workouts and is among the most requested players for private one-on-one workouts. One scout suggested that “if you let your weakside linebacker roam free and make plays there is not a better seek-and-destroy linebacker available after Derrick Johnson.” In any event, the Eagles and several other clubs are dismayed to see the Chargers move this quickly on their local product.
2.62 Pittsburgh Steelers — OG Logan Mankins, Fresno State
Mankins is one of the soundest technicians in the OL draft class of 2005, and should flourish under AHC Russ Grimm’s tutelage. Mankins will provide critical depth in 2005, a need that’s arisen with the departure of Keydrick Vincent and Oliver Ross in free agency.
2.63 Philadelphia Eagles — RB J.J. Arrington, California
There is no consensus among NFL GMs regarding the 4th best RB in the 2005 draft class, and the Eagles internally debated the relative merits of Fason, Brandon Jacobs, Kay-Jay Harris and J.J. Arrington. Ultimately it was Arrington’s off-the-charts productivity (2,018 rushing yards, 7.0 yards per carry, 100+ yards in every game) in a West Coast offense that lead the Eagles to choose him. While the team has a dynamic playmaker in Brian Westbrook, and also re-signed Correll Buckhalter; this pick was made with 2006 and beyond in mind. Westbrook and the Eagles are far apart in terms of a long-term contract, and this pick provides insurance against Westbrook’s departure in 2006 and/or an injury.
2.64 New England Patriots — QB Jason Campbell, Auburn
The Patriots are never predictable and this pick wasn’t seen coming by anyone getting a paycheck to pontificate about the draft. But, with backup QB Rohan Davey likely leaving in free agency next year, Bill Belichick wants to groom his replacement before it’s necessary to actually use him as Tom Brady’s backup. Campbell, like Davey, was a productive multi-dimensional SEC QB, who improved by leaps and bounds as a passer in 2004. Campbell ended up grading out as the 3rd best QB on many boards, and Belichick believes he could be a starter long-term.
3.65 San Francisco 49ers — CB Eric Green, Virginia Tech
The 49ers address a need and benefit from an exceptionally deep class of defensive backs with the addition of Green, a well rounded CB who isn’t exceptional at any aspect of the game, but is solid across the board.
3.66 St. Louis Rams — WR Mark Bradley, Oklahoma
While Mark Clayton is a household name, as many as four Oklahoma wideouts are going to be drafted this year. Bradley, a transfer to Oklahoma, only started four games with the Sooners but his measurables (6’1”, 201 lbs, 4.3 40 at his Pro Day, 10” vertical leap) and work as a special teamer likely secured him a first day grade. The Rams need a potential replacement for Isaac Bruce, and it’s more than likely not Shaun McDonald or Kevin Curtis.
3.67 Cleveland Browns — DE Eric Moore, Florida State
Everything Eric Moore’s done since declaring for the draft has been indicative of a solid first day defensive end prospect. From dominating during the Hula Bowl to impressing scouts from every NFL team at the Florida State Pro Day. However, a look back at Moore’s on-field accomplishments leaves much to be desired. Just 80 tackles in 39 games played (21 as a starter) leaves a lot to be desired. However, teams are willing to pay a hefty price tag for pass rush potential and Moore is the best defensive end prospect remaining according to Phil Savage’s draft board.
3.68 Tennessee Titans — WR Roscoe Parrish, Miami
Roscoe Parrish is one of the smallest players in the draft pool (5’9”, 175 lbs.) but was an explosive home-run threat at times in Miami. Some thought Parrish would creep into the 1st round despite his diminutive build because of blazing speed, but good-not-great 40 times (4.37-4.45) knocked him down a few rounds. In any event, the Titans believe Parrish offers an explosive dynamic to the receiving corps and also provides a weapon in the return game.
3.69 Oakland Raiders — DE Jim Davis, Virginia Tech
Davis is another ‘tweener who projects at end or tackle, and is particularly well suited to a team using 3-4 fronts on occasion. Davis is someone that was all over the map in terms of productivity during his college days. But, in the biggest games (for example, versus Miami), he produced some of his best results, giving him the label of “gamer” which while hard to quantify carries weight among many NFL talent evaluators. At 6’4, 273 lbs but with 5.1 40 speed, Davis projects more as a run stopper at end than a pass rushing specialist.
3.70 Miami Dolphins — OT Chris Colmer, NC State
Colmer enjoyed six years of collegiate eligibility after being diagnosed with a rare disorder in 2003 which caused numbness and pain in his shoulder. He rebounded in 2004 and was again one of the better tackles in the collegiate ranks. Colmer’s medical condition (which is under control but incurable) likely dropped him off some boards, but he’s been given a clean bill of health by doctors at the Combine and answered any questions about weakness in his shoulders by benching 29 reps at 225 (one of the best at the Combine). Colmer is a tackle with a mean streak, and has above average drive and upper body strength. A perfect piece to the puzzle as Nick Saban rebuilds the Dolphins woeful line.
3.71 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — LB Alfred Fincher, Connecticut
A tackling machine with good lateral instincts, Fincher impressed at the Senior Bowl. Although he’s not a household name, the lack of quality linebacker prospects this year (and the character issues inherent in the top options) has driven Fincher into a likely 2nd-3rd round selection. More than a dozen teams have requested one-on-one workouts with him, and the Bucs are happy to add him to compete with Jeff Gooch and Ryan Nece on the outside with an eye toward Fincher possibly replacing Brooks in the middle in a few years.
3.72 Detroit Lions — LB Rian Wallace, Temple
One of three teams to actively scout Wallace, the Lions add the player dubbed as “the best player on the worst team in America” by one NFL scout. Capable of playing any LB position, he’s probably best suited for the strong side in the NFL. Wallace isn’t solid in coverage, but is a sure tackler and a demon in pursuit. Scouts are divided as to whether his collegiate statistics were a byproduct of a lack of supporting talent (i.e., he HAD to make tackles), but the Lions have seen enough to add him to their LB mix.
3.73 Houston Texans — OT Michael Roos, Eastern Washington
Roos flew under the radar playing for D1-AA Eastern Washington, but opened eyes with a dominant week of practice at the Senior Bowl. With the offensive tackle position being of paramount importance, Roos all but cemented his status as no worse than a 3rd/4th round pick that week; but has likely further increased his draft status in individual workouts. Roos, 6’7” and 320 pounds, is susceptible to a bull rush on occasion (his height works against him in that regard) but his technique belies the level of coaching he received at a D-1AA school. The Texans, desperate to protect David Carr, hope they’ve found a 3rd round gem.
3.74 New York Giants — CB Bryant McFadden, Florida State
With the long-term future of CBs Will Allen and Will Peterson up in the air, and the enigmatic play of nickel back Frank Walker, the Giants view cornerback as a priority. McFadden comes from a tradition rich program when it comes to defensive backs, and that helps offset some of the inadequacies found in breaking down game film on Bryant. McFadden doesn’t have natural ball hawk instincts, and some wonder if he’s equipped to play man-to-man coverage at the NFL level, but has shown enough to warrant a first day selection and probably is no worse than the dime DB for the Giants in 2005.
3.75 Arizona Cardinals — QB Adrian McPherson
Despite signing Kurt Warner in the offseason and having Josh McCown on the roster already, Denny Green grabs McPherson as he believes Adrian could eventually be a Pro Bowl caliber starting QB in the league. McPherson, known more for his legal issues than on-field production at Florida State, resurrected his career by putting up huge numbers in the Arena League and then displaying on- and off-the-field maturity during the Combine/Workout process. Physically, McPherson is as gifted as any signal caller in this draft, but his lack of experience demands a year or two of learning from the sidelines.
3.76 Washington Redskins — LB Robert McCune, Louisville
With the free agent departure of LB Antonio Pierce, and the uncertain status of Lavar Arrington, LB is a priority for the Redskins if they’ve any hope of maintaining the elite level of play displayed in 2004. McCune is a solid linebacking prospect who projects more as a classic gap defender, he’s not going to provide much pass rush or wow anyone in coverage, but he’ll know his assignments and make the necessary tackles.
3.77 Indianapolis Colts (via Philadelphia) — RB Ciatrick Fason, Florida
Trade Parameters: This is the second pick PHI gave to IND in order to trade up in the first round and select Castillo.
Whether this selection signals the possible trading of Edgerrin James after the draft or not, it’s a savvy move by Bill Polian. At worst, the team upgraded their backup RB position in grabbing a player who, on many boards, was the 4th best runner in the draft. At best, the team unlocks value with James and also adds another South Florida product that can step into the lineup and immediately provide 20+ carries and short yardage production.
3.78 Houston Texans — WR Courtney Roby, Indiana
Charlie Casserly can’t let Roby fall any farther, and opts to add the speedy receiver even though WR depth is hardly the Texans biggest need. Roby, a 4-year starter at Indiana, has experience at both split end and flanker, runs a 4.4 40, and is fearless over the middle.
3.79 Carolina Panthers — RB Kay-Jay Harris, West Virginia
Although Harris never amassed 1,000 yards rushing in a season at WVU, he’s earned his way into the 1st day of the draft thanks to an impressive combination of mass (6’0, 243 lbs.) and pass catching ability to go along with decent speed (4.55). Harris is enigmatic to be sure, but can be a 3-down back and take the pounding necessary to play in the Panthers offensive system. Opinions on Harris vary widely from team to team (I personally would’ve drafted Brandon Jacobs here), but it’s a sensible pick for the Panthers given the injury issues with Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster.
3.80 Cleveland Browns — CB Darent Williams, Oklahoma State
Trade Parameters: This is part of the Minnesota trade which allowed MIN to move up to 1.03.
Small (5’9”, 175 lbs.) and loathe to provide run support, Williams compensates with ideal man-to-man technique. Williams has been called “a glove” by one notable scout and was also a ball hawk during his collegiate tenure. Off-the-field issues and a broken arm hurt his stock this year, but the body of work and his rare ability to play man coverage against larger receivers makes him worth the risk in the 3rd round.
3.81 St. Louis Rams — DE Jovan Haye, Vanderbilt
Rams officials breathed a sigh of relief when DE Leonard Little was acquitted of drunk driving charges. But the departure of Bryce Fisher from an already paper-thin defensive end rotation makes this choice a must. Haye is a pure pass rusher who frustrates some scouts because he’s got the size (6’2”, 284 lbs.) to be an effective two-way DE.
3.82 New Orleans Saints — WR Roydell Williams, Tulane
Considered a bit of a reach by some, Williams is a player quietly on the rise. Playing for a troubled Tulane team, Williams wasn’t in the national spotlight much but benefited from a late invite to the Senior Bowl (created by the absence of Terrence Murphy) and has leveraged that into a 1st day selection. Williams enjoyed a 1,000 yard season in 2003, but minor injuries (and lack of surrounding talent) hampered his production in 2004.
3.83 Cincinnati Bengals — TE Adam Bergen, Lehigh
Every now and then a pick surprises everyone, and this certainly fits the bill. Bergen, an athletic pass catching tight end out of 1-AA Lehigh, was considered an undrafted free agent until he put on a show at the Combine and subsequently followed that up with a strong Pro Day. At 6’4”, 259 pounds, the Bengals believe Bergen can provide immediate returns opening up the middle of the field for what should be a dynamic passing attack.
3.84 Baltimore Ravens — CB/S Brandon Browner, Oregon State
The Ravens look toward the future with Browner, who projects as a nickel defensive back (the potential long-term replacement for Deion Sanders and Dale Carter) playing behind Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle. Browner, an underclassman, was projected as a first rounder until he ran a 4.65-4.70 40-time. Given his size (6’4”, 220 lbs.), the Ravens think he’s a perfect fit and someone that can match up against the league’s bigger receivers in the red zone.
3.85 Seattle Seahawks — DE Bill Swancutt, Oregon State
Swancutt’s measurables don’t wow NFL scouts (4.9 40, 270 lbs., 6’4”) but his work ethic and production suggest he’s likely to have a place in the league for a long time. Swancutt finished his career at Oregon State as the all-time leader in tackles for loss (60), sacks (37, including 11 as a senior), and was named the Pac 10’s top defense lineman. A solid addition who engenders good will from fans in the Pacific Northwest.
3.86 Buffalo Bills — C Jason Brown, North Carolina
Brown is one of the top rated true centers in the draft. Unlike players like David Baas and Chris Spencer, Brown projects exclusively as a center. He’s intelligent and can make all the line calls, and has decent size (6’3”, 313 lbs) but isn’t overly athletic. A great fit as either a backup to Trey Teague or potentially his replacement if the Bills move Teague to another OL position as rumored.
3.87 Jacksonville Jaguars — RB Marion Barber III, Minnesota
Some Jaguars fans probably thought the team found Fred Taylor’s heir apparent last season in Greg Jones. But they learned what many of us already knew, Jones is too limited as a blocker and receiver to be anything more than a short yardage/backup option. The Jaguars pull the trigger on Barber, a more complete RB who should excel as a cutback runner in the NFL. Barber has a compact build (5’11”, 221 lbs.) and gives the Jags the added option of utilizing his talents in the return game for a year or two until Fred Taylor is out of the picture.
3.88 New York Jets — DT Atiyyah Ellison, Missouri
Ellison was one of the best defensive tackles in the Big 12 last year, and is an ideal fit for the Jets as a replacement for DT Jason Ferguson. With playmakers at every other position on the DL (Abraham, Ellis, Robertson), the Jets simply want a disciplined player who will maintain his gap assignments and keep linemen from getting their hands on Jon Vilma and the rest of the linebacking corps. Ellison fits that bill to a T.
3.89 Green Bay Packers — CB Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma
Perkins was a forgotten man among one of the best collegiate defenses in recent years, but many scouts feel his lack of eye-popping production was more a case of the strength of his supporting cast than a lack of playmaking ability. Technically sound, and well coached, the Packers hope they’ve found a contributor in a deep CB class.
3.90 Atlanta Falcons — RB Ryan Moats, Louisiana Tech
Moats (5’8”, 208 lbs.) provides a dual role to the Falcons. Initially he’ll serve as a kick returner but eventually projects a replacement for Warrick Dunn and an ideal “Thunder and Lightning” complement to T.J. Duckett. Although Moats was labeled the best RB beyond the Big 3 by Mel Kiper, his lack of inside running prowess and propensity to fumble dropped his stock a bit.
3.91 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — OG Chris Kemoeatu, Utah
The Bucs need an infusion of youth on the offensive line and Kemoeatu fits the bill. At 6’4”, 344 lbs, he’s one of the largest linemen in the draft and also one of the strongest (34 reps at 225).
3.92 Indianapolis Colts — CB Ronald Bartell, Howard
At 6’1”, 211 pounds with a 4.37 40 to his name, one has to wonder why Ronald Bartell lasted until the end of Round 3. But in a very deep CB class coming from a small school, teams just aren’t sure whether his measurables compensate for a lack of film against top level competition. Bartell played free safety, strong safety and cornerback in college and his versatility is well served for a Colts team that has needs aplenty in its secondary.
3.93 Pittsburgh Steelers — WR Chris Henry, West Virginia
Pittsburgh was one of three teams that have spent considerable time interviewing and working out Henry intently. Henry has all the on-field ability to have gone much higher but his maturity has been openly questioned by opponents and coaches alike. HC Bill Cowher is convinced that Henry can be coached and has the confidence in his veteran team and his coaching staff to keep the volatile Henry in check. At 6’4, 197 lbs. with a 4.45 40, and only the 2nd 1,000 yard season in West Virginia history, Henry could easily project as a starter opposite Hines Ward in a year or two if his attitude doesn’t get in the way.
3.94 Philadelphia Eagles — WR Vincent Jackson, North Colorado
Another year, another set of questions in the Eagles receiving corps. TO wants more money, Freddie Mitchell is playing out his final year, Todd Pinkston is likely keeping a spot warm. And neither Bill McMullen nor Greg Lewis project as NFL starters. So the Eagles grab Jackson, a 6’5, 241 pound receiving machine. He needs some polishing as a route runner and blocker, but is as likely as anyone else on the Eagles roster to develop into a long-term starter opposite T.O.
3.95 Arizona Cardinals — TE Kevin Everett, Miami
Dennis Green mistakes Kevin Everett for another in the long-line of exceptional Miami TEs. Unlike Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, Everett is a more traditional TE whose receiving skills are a work in progress. But in a weak TE class, Denny thinks he’s found a gem.
3.96 Tennessee Titans — OT Nick Kaczur, Toledo
A 4-year starter at left tackle, Kaczur is a bit undersized (6’3”, 300 lbs) to play LT in the NFL. But his versatility as a fill in for guard and tackle makes him attractive at this point in the draft.
3.97 Denver Broncos — OG Scott Young, BYU
Young is an intense, athletic guard prospect that fits with the Broncos needs and propensity to focus on intelligence and athleticism more than size when drafting offensive linemen.
3.98 Seattle Seahawks — RB Brandon Jacobs, Southern Illinois
Only die hard collegiate football fans realize that Auburn actually had 3 future NFL RBs on its roster. While Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams are household names, Brandon Jacobs was once part of the same backfield before transferring to Southern Illinois in a bid for more playing time. Jacobs is built more like an NFL defensive end (6’4”, 267 lbs.) than a running back, but runs well (4.55) and offers a bruising, move-the-chains style. Jacobs is an unproven receiver, although he acquitted himself well in drills. Importantly, Jacobs has been described as a “devastating blocker” opening the door for his use as a FB at times.
3.99 Kansas City Chiefs — WR Fred Gibson, Georgia
Every year there are players who inexplicably fall on draft weekend for no obvious reason and the Chiefs believe Gibson’s loss is their gain. Gibson teamed with Reggie Brown to form one of the most prolific tandems in the SEC. Unfortunately for Gibson, a bout of the “dropsies” at the Combine and pedestrian workouts combined with the rising star of some other receivers led to his plummet. In any event, this may prove beneficial for the former Bulldog as he steps into an offense that could immediately benefit from his services.
3.100 New England Patriots — LB Lance Mitchell, Oklahoma
The Patriots continue to value production over metrics. Mitchell isn’t the biggest or most explosive linebacker, but he was the field general for one of the nation’s top collegiate defenses; exactly the kind of player Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli covet.
3.101 Denver Broncos — S James Butler, Georgia Tech
One of the more productive safeties in the ACC over the last two seasons (a semi-finalist for the Thorpe award in 2003 and 2004), Butler is a solid open field tackler with fantastic athleticism (44” vertical leap!). He isn’t known as a ball hawk nor is he someone that’s going to be a devastating “in the box” defender; but he’ll give the Broncos solid and mistake free play at free safety, a clear need.