The way we hear it...
Don’t look now, but the way we hear it, it’s suddenly far from an automatic assumption that Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Vince Young will be the top three players selected in the 2006 draft, as has been widely predicted since the end of the 2005 season.
The hot topic among scouting types, we’re told, is the possibility that Young, whose stock skyrocketed after he outperformed both Bush and Leinart with an unbelievable performance in the Rose Bowl, could be dropping out of the elite-prospect category, and possibly even the top 10, although that isn’t likely.
What could be more likely, though, is that Young ends up dropping to the No. 7 spot and hooking up with Al Davis and the Raiders, believed to be the first team to interview him at the Combine.
Keeping in mind that the situation in the upper echelon of the first round is extremely fluid and subject to change due to a wide range of factors, what follows is PFW’s projected top seven selections heading into March:
No. 1, Texans: USC RB Reggie Bush — There was talk for a while that Houston could deal the top pick, but we hear new head coach Gary Kubiak considers the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner just too special a talent to pass up, even if he touches the ball only 15 times a game.
No. 2, Saints: USC QB Matt Leinart — Aaron Brooks has alienated the organization, and Leinart’s intelligence and leadership skills are a good match for new coach Sean Payton. But it’s worth noting that the Saints could still consider trading down.
No. 3, Titans: Virginia OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson — Tennessee coached Ferguson at the Senior Bowl, and after two losing seasons, he could make the team a lot better right away and quickly become a dominating anchor on the O-line.
No. 4, Jets: Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler — With Chad Pennington becoming too much of a medical risk, we hear the Jets are locking in on Cutler, who has Brett Favre-type potential.
No. 5, Packers: North Carolina State DE Mario Williams — Green Bay desperately needs the next Reggie White and would be lucky if “Super Mario,” a younger version of Julius Peppers, falls into its lap.
No. 6, Niners: Ohio State OLB A.J. Hawk — With Julian Peterson expected to bolt from the Bay Area, Hawk, who can play both inside and outside, would fit like a glove in the Niners’ evolving 3-4 scheme.
No. 7, Raiders: Texas QB Vince Young — Just what the doctor ordered for an offense looking for a big-time jolt. Young is considered the most physically gifted player in the draft, and Davis has been always intrigued with the type of pure talent that Young possesses.