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Old 01-26-2005   #17
STEEL BLUE TEXANS
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Default Scouts Inc. Mock Draft

2005 NFL draft, projected first round

1. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Aaron Rodgers* | QB | California
Neither Rodgers nor Alex Smith is a good value at the No. 1 overall spot. With so many needs, the 49ers would be best served to trade down in return for some extra Day One picks. If, however, they get stuck picking at No. 1 and if the new coaching staff decides that Tim Rattay is not the future, the organization will have another tough decision to make between Rodgers and Smith. As it stands right now, Rodgers grades out slightly ahead of Smith. Rodgers lacks ideal height, but he has terrific arm strength, good accuracy and above-average athleticism.

2. Miami Dolphins (4-12)
Alex Smith* | QB | Utah
The Dolphins have several needs, including running back, defensive end and offensive line. Coach Nick Saban must first decide if A.J. Feeley is his quarterback of the future. If not, drafting Smith (or Rodgers depending on which QB the 49ers pass on) would be the most likely move. If, however, Saban can live with Feeley as his franchise quarterback for the future, drafting one of three top running backs in this class Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams becomes the next best move.

3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Adam Jones* | DC | West Virginia
The Browns ideally would like one of the top quarterbacks to fall to them here. If not, they could entertain the idea of trading down in order to package extra picks and get a better value on one of only two legitimate offensive tackle prospects in this draft class Alex Barron and Jammal Brown. If all else fails, upgrading their secondary becomes a priority and Jones would be the best fit. Not only does Jones have the cover skills, speed and toughness to develop into a "shutdown" cornerback, he also has loads of upside as an NFL return specialist. The Browns could really use a playmaker like Jones on defense and special teams.

4. Chicago Bears (5-11)
Braylon Edwards | WR | Michigan
The Bears desperately need a wide receiver who can stretch the field vertically, and Edwards is the best this class has to offer. Some think the Bears will shy away from using another top pick on a Michigan wide receiver, but that theory is ridiculous. For starters, the current regime wasn't in place when the Bears drafted David Terrell. Secondly, Edwards is bigger and faster than Terrell and made far more big plays at the collegiate level than Terrell did. In our opinion, Edwards is the best receiver in this year's draft and has elite NFL potential.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Ronnie Brown | RB | Auburn
The Buccaneers could go in several different directions with this pick, including running back, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end and defensive back. With so much talent at the running back position, the Bucs will get their best value with the fifth overall pick. While Benson is a better fit for an offense looking for a load-carrying power runner, Brown is a better fit for Jon Gruden's version of the West Coast offense. Brown is big, strong and fast enough to carry a heavy load in the NFL, and he's also one of the best receivers and blockers at the running back position in this year's class. In short, Brown's versatility makes him a perfect fit for Gruden and the Bucs.

6. Tennessee Titans (5-11)
Alex Barron | OT | Florida State
The Titans could go after a cornerback here if Andre Dyson departs via free agency. For now, however, the team's biggest need remains offensive tackle with so many questions about the future of aging OTs Fred Miller and Brad Hopkins. There isn't a "can't-miss" tackle in this year's class, but Barron is the closest thing to it. Barron has the size, strength and feet to develop into a starting left tackle in the NFL, but he needs to become more physical.

7. Oakland Raiders (5-11)
Cedric Benson | RB | Texas
The Raiders would be elated if Benson fell to them at No. 7. Coach Norv Turner's offensive philosophy is to pound it out on the ground with a big, bruising back who can wear the opponent down and eventually open up some vertical opportunities with a play-action pass. The Raiders have a strong enough arm at quarterback with Kerry Collins, the speed at wide receiver and the bruising offensive line to execute that scheme, but what's missing is the "bell-cow" at running back. Benson doesn't have great speed or elusiveness, but he's a north-south runner with great vision, size and power making him a perfect fit for Turner and the Raiders.

8. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)
Carnell Williams | RB | Auburn
The Cardinals still have several needs to address in the upcoming draft. After passing on Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger in last year's draft and coming to the realization that Josh McCown is not the future of the franchise's quarterback position, the Cardinals would love to see either Rodgers or Smith fall to them here. Assuming both are gone by the time the team selects at No. 8, the Cardinals then will shift their focus to running back, defensive line and cornerback. Of those positions, the best value is Williams, who immediately could provide the Cardinals with an upgrade over Emmitt Smith. Williams doesn't have the size of Benson or the versatility of Brown, but he might be the toughest pound-for-pound back in this draft. He also has enough receiving and blocking skills to develop into an every-down back in the NFL.

9. Washington Redskins (6-10)
Erasmus James | DE | Wisconsin
The Redskins could use an upgrade at center, some added speed at wide receiver and more of an impact player at H-back, but their biggest need is a pass-rushing defensive end. The team was forced to blitz entirely too much in order to generate a rush, which often left them vulnerable in coverage. By adding an impact edge rusher with this pick, the Redskins could significantly upgrade what already is a solid defensive unit. James is a risk-reward type prospect because of his injury history. But he's the best pure pass rusher in this class and worth the risk.

10. Detroit Lions (6-10)
Heath Miller* | TE | Virginia
The Lions could use playmakers at defensive end and in the secondary, but upgrading the tight end position ranks higher on the wish list. Miller is the only sure-fire first-round prospect this class has to offer. He lacks Todd Heap and Tony Gonzalez-type speed, but he's just a notch below the elite in terms of playmaking ability. Miller has very good size, is a smooth athlete, has a terrific feel for the passing game and might have the best hands of any skill-position player in this draft.

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Antrel Rolle | DC | Miami-FL
The Cowboys badly underestimated their need at cornerback last season, and it resulted in a major trickle-down effect for the entire defensive unit. In a scheme that relies so heavily on its cornerbacks to hold up in man-to-man coverage in order to get more aggressive with safeties and linebackers, it would be shocking if the Cowboys allowed this need to go unaddressed again this offseason. With so many solid first-round cornerback prospects to choose from, the team will likely have options. Rolle needs to run well in his postseason workouts to prove that he's capable of holding up on an island at the next level. Assuming he does, Rolle has the size, instincts, toughness and athletic ability to quickly become a solid starter.

12. San Diego Chargers (12-4)
Mike Williams | WR | USC
Despite their impressive turnaround in 2004, the Chargers still have several positions of need to address. With two picks in the first round (12 and 28), the team can either elect to package the two to move up or stay put and add two quality first-round youngsters. If it's the latter, drafting a dynamic wide receiver like Williams here would be awfully tempting. Williams doesn't have great speed and has been out of football for a year, but he is big enough and athletic enough to develop into a vertical threat. Adding a playmaker like Williams to go along with TE Antonio Gates and RB LaDainian Tomlinson would make the Chargers' offense frightening to match up against no matter the signal-caller.

13. Houston Texans (7-9)
Derrick Johnson | OLB | Texas
The Texans need to get younger along the defensive line and also could use another receiver to help complement Andre Johnson, but passing up on Johnson here would be a mistake. Johnson could slip because of the position he plays, but in our opinion he's the best defensive player in this class. The Texans used a top pick on a pass-rushing OLB in Justin Babin last season but could use a more traditional linebacker to help improve their run defense and pass coverage. Johnson, who has experience inside and outside, is versatile enough to play different roles in the team's 3-4 scheme, and he's athletic and instinctive enough to upgrade the unit in both of the aforementioned areas.

14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Troy Williamson* | WR | South Carolina
If the Panthers get Steve Smith back healthy and are able to re-sign Muhsin Muhammad before he becomes a free agent, wide receiver will no longer be a pressing need. However, if the team loses Muhammad, which is a likely scenario, drafting a big-play, vertical threat like Williamson would be a great value. Williamson is an underrated prospect right now because people haven't evaluated the underclassmen as much to this point. Once the 6-2, 205-pound playmaker runs a 4.4 during postseason workouts, his draft stock will skyrocket.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Dan Cody | DE | Oklahoma
The Chiefs could use a vertical threat like Williamson if he drops. Otherwise, it's defense, defense, defense. They could use a pass-rushing defensive end, a corner who can hold up in man-to-man coverage and an athletic linebacker. In this scenario, the Chiefs would have a tough choice to make between Cody, DC Brandon Browner and DT Travis Johnson, but Cody is the best value at the position they need most.

16. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Brandon Browner* | DC | Oregon State
The Saints could use an athletic upgrade at linebacker, but there isn't one worth drafting at this point. The next biggest need is at cornerback, where the team is aging and desperately needs an influx of youth and speed. Browner will be considered somewhat of an enigma until he works out for scouts and gets an official 40-time in the books. However, if the 6-3, 202-pound cornerback runs in the 4.4's as expected, he could easily move into the top-half of the first round. Browner is a physical corner with great experience in bump-and-run coverage, something the Saints are missing.
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