Combine, pro-day workouts caused shift in first round
Posted: Tuesday March 15, 2005 12:24PM; Updated: Tuesday March 15, 2005 12:31PM
With less than 40 days remaining until the two-day national telethon known as the NFL draft, the first-round picture is starting to come into focus.
The first two weeks of free agency have impacted almost every team's need list in one way or another. League personnel evaluators have started to either fall in love with or downgrade prospects based on what they saw at the Scouting Combine or in one of the early pro-day workouts. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sound of money being made or lost.
Thus, our second mock draft should be a bit more informed than that initial effort in mid-February. Key words? A bit. There's still time for plenty of maneuvering and adjusting on our board between now and April 23.
Mock NFL Draft #2
We're probably going to waver on Rodgers at some point in the coming, hype-filled five weeks, but for now we're sticking with the notion that the 49ers won't be able to come up with a better option than taking the local kid with a pinpoint arm.
Pre-Combine we foresaw Texas stud Cedric Benson filling the void that Ricky Williams created in Miami when he retired. But that was then, this is now. Brown's boffo showing in Indianapolis makes him No. 2 with a bullet.
We still think the Browns would prefer to trade down and take an offensive tackle such as Alex Barron or Jammal Brown in the middle of the round. But if they stick with the No. 3, Smith as the heir apparent to 2005 starter Trent Dilfer makes the most sense.
Don't let the Muhsin Muhammad signing throw you. The Bears aren't going to pass on the draft's elite receiver just because they addressed the position in free agency. Texas RB Cedric Benson appears to be their fallback option.
The Bucs don't have the cap room to make noise in the Edgerrin James trade market, and with Williams sitting there for the taking in the top five, Jon Gruden will fill that backfield need with the guy he coached in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
The Titans lost both their starting cornerbacks -- Samari Rolle and Andre Dyson -- in their late-February cap purge, so it stands to reason that either Rolle or West Virginia CB Adam "Pac Man" Jones will be the pick.
With an extra first-round pick to play with thanks to the Randy Moss trade, the Vikings can entertain taking Williams, who seemed to allay concerns about his speed by running in the 4.5s at the Combine and on his pro day.
CB Adam Jones or LB Derrick Johnson could tempt the Cardinals, but the hole at running back, combined with Dennis Green's penchant for going for offense in the first round should tip the scales in favor of the ex-Longhorn.
With Fred Smoot now in Minnesota, the Redskins' board shows the perfect confluence of need and top-10 value. Jones is a solid tackler, and as a bonus helps out on kick returns. If Tennessee takes Jones, give the Redskins Rolle.
The Lions have invested their past four No. 1s on offense, so it's time to think defense. Johnson is the draft's best linebacker, and Detroit doesn't have to reach a bit to make this athletic, ball-hawking prospect a top-10 pick.
In our first mock, we had the versatile Merriman going to the Cowboys with their No. 20 pick. But his "tweener" skills would seem a perfect fit as Dallas prepares to use a 3-4 defensive scheme at least some of the time in 2005.
The Chargers could lean toward speedy South Carolina receiver Troy Williamson in this slot, but it's more likely they'll get some help for their defensive front with Spears, who also can rush the passer from inside.
The Texans' offensive line has been their weak link since Day 1, and that's why landing the draft's best tackle is the right call for quarterback David Carr's future health. Barron is good enough to handle either side in the NFL.
Miller won't be this high on a lot of teams' boards, but the Panthers need an upgrade at tight end and he's the one sure-fire first-rounder in this draft. The way teams threw to tight ends in 2004, the position has first-round value.
Cody has proven himself in important games in a big-time college program, and he has enough athleticism and pass-rush skills to make an impact on a defense that desperately needs more impact players. DE Erasmus James is a riskier pick.
The Saints signed safety Dwight Smith in free agency, but they could still use a play-maker such as Davis, who many project to weakside linebacker in the NFL. Davis has great speed at 230 pounds and ran a 4.6 at the Combine.