A sneak peek at players expected to go in first round
Posted: Friday January 27, 2006 12:15PM; Updated: Friday January 27, 2006 12:37PM
I know what you're thinking. The thought process goes something like this: The Senior Bowl hasn't even been played yet. We're almost a month away from the Scouting Combine, and more than three months shy of the April 29-30 draft. Shoot, the order of the first round hasn't even been completely set yet, because Oakland and San Francisco still need to have a coin flip for No. 6 and 7, and No. 31 Pittsburgh and No. 32 Seattle could still swap places depending on who wins a certain game in Detroit.
And then there's free agency in March, which could just change everyone's draft needs.
So, a mock draft in late January? Sure, why not? Who knows, it may not be all that much less accurate than the one I'll do the Friday before the picking actually starts. On to my first guesses:
Mock NFL Draft No. 1
We've got weeks and weeks to let all the Bush versus Vince Young speculation swirl, but it still seems sensible for the Texans to stick with David Carr at quarterback and add the huge, play-making upgrade at running back.
He may not be the next Carson Palmer, but the USC quarterback would allow the Saints to end the Aaron Brooks era and give new head coach Sean Payton a chance to start his program with a guy well-steeped in a pro-style passing game.
Don't just assume that the Titans will nab Young because he and Steve McNair are old friends from Houston. Young would be a logical heir apparent in Tennessee, but I could see the Titans trying desperately to trade down for a package of picks to address more than one need.
If somehow either Leinart or Young linger, the Jets couldn't pass on a passer given Chad Pennington's shaky health status. But otherwise, Ferguson is the chalk pick for a need that emerged last year after the defection of Kareem McKenzie in free agency.
The Packers need to generate more pass rush, and this kid has the whole package that you look for in a difference-making defensive end.
With Oakland currently head coach-less, all we really know about its draft intention is that the crying need is on defense. Ryans or Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk are the names to know, but the Raiders would do handstands if Mario Williams slipped past No. 5 Green Bay.
With all their needs and another high first-round pick, the 49ers could aggressively attempt to trade down to plug as many holes as possible. If they don't, defense should get their attention. Hawk is a ball-hawk and looks ready to step into almost anyone's lineup.
Buffalo struggled stopping the run after the loss of veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams in free agency. The 6-foot-5, 335-pound Ngata could fill that critical void for Dick Jauron's nowhere-to-go-but-up Bills.
New Lions head coach Rod Marinelli hasn't indicated yet if he believes Joey Harrington is salvageable. If not, the Lions can hope that taking the third-highest rated passer works out as well for them as it did in 2004 for Pittsburgh, which landed some guy named Ben Roethlisberger. Southern Cal OT Winston Justice is another possibility.
With Cardinals head coach Dennis Green needing to win in 2006 to protect his job, taking a young QB makes no sense. The Cardinals were last in the NFL in rushing, so it'll come down to a choice between Williams and USC's LenDale White. Williams is more elusive and fits Green's backfield preferences.