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Monday Morning QB (cont.)

Posted: Monday April 18, 2005 9:38AM; Updated: Tuesday April 19, 2005 1:59PM
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2. Tampa Bay (from Miami): We all know Saban wants to move down more than Jimmy Johnson wants a Heineken. And whether you think it's valid, Jon Gruden has no desire to go with Brian Griese or Chris Simms as his longterm quarterback, and Gruden is making the call. The most logical thing is for Saban to go down three slots to No. 5 and pick up the second-round pick he lost in the ill-fated A.J. Feeley deal last year. The pick: Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I have  to be up front here. Floridians who know tell me the quarterback Gruden wants is Smith, and Miami may not be able to wrangle some picks from Tampa Bay because the Bucs might feel they don't have to trade up for a QB. Maybe the Bucs stay where they are, do the safe thing and take a really good back or WR Mike Williams. Right now only Gruden knows how desperate he is to get better at quarterback, and whether Rodgers is the guy he wants. But the smoke signals tell me he's going to come out of this draft with a quarterback, and Rodgers is the second-best one on his board. If they do move up for a quarterback, it won't be the end of the action for Gruden and Bucs GM Bruce Allen. They'll look to pick up the disgruntled Travis Henry from Buffalo (or maybe a surprisingly available Vikings back, which you'll hear about in a second), and they could try to trade Simms somewhere (to any team that will give Gruden a third-round draft pick). For Simms, it will be blessed relief. It's hard to imagine now how he could ever have the feeling that he's wanted in Tampa. If Simms goes anywhere this week, I'd guess it'd be to a team that likes to throw downfield and has a good teaching staff. That team will not be the Browns.

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3. Cleveland: I just have a feeling that Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell is in the Browns' future. It makes too much sense. They need a long-term quarterback, they like what they've seen out of the kid, whose talents in the dropback and running game were hidden by the great crop of rushers at Auburn. Campbell should go right around the 34th overall selection, which is where the Browns pick in the second round. And he would be a steal, by the way. That doesn't help me much here. I'm sure Romeo Crennel would like to start rebuilding his defense, but any defensive player would be a reach here (unless Crennel's in love with either Antrel Rolle or Adam "Pac Man" Jones at cornerback, which I don't think he is.) Cleveland is threatless at receiver, so that's where I'm going, giving the Browns the best player on several teams' overall draft boards. The pick: Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

4. Chicago: The agent community believes this is Cedric Benson's spot. Not a bad pick. Big back, powerful back, lots of pelts on the wall from a long career at Texas. Safe choice. I'm going with it. The pick: Texas running back Cedric Benson.

5. Minnesota (from Miami): Saban is begging: PLEASE, PLEASE, COME AND GET THIS PICK! I WANT TO TRADE DOWN AGAIN! And so it comes down to this for Saban: Does he want a mid-second-round pick to go down two spots in this round -- and does he want to pass on a great player such as Ronnie Brown, a 233-pound inside-outside guy who can run a 4.37 40? Tough call, but not that tough to me. In the end, Saban would bite on a Vikings' offer. What is Minnesota doing? Good question. Minnesota is not happy with its running-back situation. Mike Tice loves Mewelde Moore, but he's more of a role player and not a prime-time speedster. Michael Bennett isn't the power guy to break tackles, and Onterrio Smith is one positive test from a long suspension. I've been surprised how many people around the league in the last week have talked about Minnesota drafting a running back, like it's some fait accompli. And I'm buying it. The pick: Auburn running back Ronnie Brown.

6. Tennessee: Meat and potatoes draft for Tennessee. Nothing exciting, nothing outlandish. The Titans need nuts and bolts players to rebuild, and Jeff Fisher addresses a position of crying need. The pick: Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle -- who, by the way, is no relation to the departed Samari even though they both went to Florida schools, both played the same position and both have the same not-very-common last name. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz just has to have a corner to stop the power arms of the AFC South (Peyton Manning, David Carr, Byron Leftwich) from strafing his D into total haplessness.

7. Miami: I'm thinking back a month, to a March chat overlooking the Pacific with Saban. For five minutes he pined over his team's draft status. He wanted more picks -- badly. "We've just got to value our draft choices a little better," he said. What he meant was, we can't be trading second- and third-round picks for A.J. Feeley and Lamar Gordon anymore. If the Dolphins are lucky enough to fall into two second-round picks for moving five sports down to a lesser cap number but not necessarily a lesser player, I officially will love how Miami stands here. In a draft exceedingly solid from picks 20 through 50, the Dolphins would keep their ability to get one of the premier players; the difference between two and seven, if you ask anyone in this league, is the difference between mint chocolate chip and Rocky Road. Beauty's in the eye of the ice-cream eater and the beholder. So if the Dolphins go down five spots and get the 35th and 49th spots in return, and they still get a pretty good man here, they'd be aces. I'm giving them a runner who is terrific bursting through holes and beating defenses to the corner. The pick: Auburn running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams.