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Five Things I Think I Think

First impressions after Niners make Smith No. 1 pick

Posted: Saturday April 23, 2005 12:56PM; Updated: Saturday April 23, 2005 5:07PM
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Simeon Rice
Is Simeon Rice headed to Dallas? That's one of the hot rumors on draft day.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

SAN DIEGO -- Here are five things I think early in the first round of the NFL Draft:

1. I think the 49ers tried everything they could to generate interest in their pick. "We're gonna take all the time we can,'' coach Mike Nolan told me at 11:40 a.m. "When you're 2-14, you want all the good publicity you can get.'' In the end, they picked the man they were most comfortable with. And the best thing about this, for the 49ers, is that Alex Smith is a perfect face-of-the-franchise guy for a team that desperately needs a good person and player to lead it out of the abyss. "Alex Smith is what we want this football team to look like,'' Nolan told Sal Paolantonio on ESPN a few minutes after the pick. Believe me, that was a huge factor in this decision.

2. I think the Titans could confound everyone and take a running back at No. 6. Jeff Fisher doesn't believe Chris Brown will stay healthy, and the pickings might be too good to pass up if one of the three really good backs is there after the top five.

3. I think this is the hot trade rumor of the first round: Tampa Bay dumps Simeon Rice on Dallas and walks away with the No. 20 pick. For the sake of the Cowboys, I hope it doesn't happen. Rice seems to leave enemies in his wake when he leaves a place. I'd rather see Dallas go with a younger, fresher player, either on the front seven or at receiver.

4. I think the Cardinals will make a huge mistake if they pass on Aaron Rodgers -- unless they have some magical way of knowing they can get Jason Campbell of Auburn with the 44th overall pick.

5. I think Nick Saban has had a nice start to his first Miami draft. He acquired a second-round pick from Kansas City for a cornerback, Patrick Surtain, who will be 29 in June. And he got the best runner in a rich running-back draft, Ronnie Brown, with the second overall pick. No question he wanted to trade this pick. None whatsoever. But at the end, he did the right thing -- he picked a potential great back for an offense desperate for the next Ricky Williams. On top of that, Brown is faster than Ricky and has better hands.