Posted: Friday February 17, 2006 1:54PM; Updated: Friday February 17, 2006 3:48PM
Mock NFL Draft No. 2
What in the world are the Pats doing picking in the 20s? Isn't it a league rule they have to choose 32nd? With Corey Dillon's drop in production in 2005, New England at least has to be thinking about taking a future No. 1 back. Safety is another area of need with Rodney Harrison's age and injury situation.
The Broncos' defense needs somebody who can rush the passer and create a little havoc in the opposing backfield. Kiwanuka's skills in that department aren't as well developed as some would like, but he's a first-round talent with great value in this slot. Arizona State receiver Derek Hagan could be Plan B for the first of Denver's two No. 1s.
The Bucs could use a legitimate No. 1 receiver to take over for Joey Galloway in the near future, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them jump on Arizona State's Derek Hagan. But with Anthony Davis and the disappointing Kenyatta Walker at offensive tackle, McNeil, perhaps the draft's best run blocker, is a solid bet. And he's already blocked for Cadillac Williams before, at Auburn.
This one isn't exactly brain surgery. The Bengals need to upgrade on run defense if they're to take a step up from playoff qualifier to playoff winner. John Thornton and Bryan Robinson are just so-so in the middle of the Cincy D-line. Bunkley or LSU defensive tackle Claude Wroten are the likely prospects.
After watching their linebackers get wiped out by injury late in the season, the Giants have a lot of decent options in this slot. The linebacking trio of Howard, Florida State's Ernie Sims and Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter all could be available, as could an intriguing cornerback prospect -- Florida State's Antonio Cromartie -- who would fill another need.
Every early indicator points to the Bears thinking tight end with this pick, because we know their defense doesn't need any first-round attention this year. But which tight end will it be, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Pope, who can catch and block, or one of the two prospects from the Pac-10, USC's Dominique Byrd or UCLA's Marcedes Lewis?
Like the Bears, the Panthers need a pass-catching tight end to help ease the load on all-world receiver Steve Smith. Marcedes Lewis and Notre Dame's Anthony Fasano are two other tight end options. But Carolina also could be thinking running back (Minnesota's Laurence Maroney), defensive tackle (LSU's Claude Wroten) or offensive tackle (Miami's Eric Winston).
If the surgically repaired knee that caused him to miss the entire 2005 season checks out healthy at the Scouting Combine, Cromartie could shoot up on a few teams' boards as the draft nears. The Jaguars have Kenny Wright and Terry Cousin opposite CB Rashean Mathis, and that's not enough. Clemson CB Tye Hill or a speed rusher to pair with DE Reggie Hayward also are options.
If the Broncos don't wind up signing Terrell Owens, selecting the NFL's latest receiver named Moss could help take up the slack. Even though Denver liked what it saw of Gerard Warren and Michael Myers inside in 2005, getting more help at defensive tackle (LSU's Claude Wroten or Michigan's Gabe Wilson) is another option.
In a perfect world, the Colts find a running back with a first-round grade sitting there waiting for them, thereby replacing the going, going, gone Edgerrin James. But once Bush, Williams, White and Maroney are taken, running back may no longer hold first-round value. Thus, Sims fills another need for the Colts.
Some teams may be scared off by the legacy of Gators receivers in the NFL, but things have worked out just fine for Seattle with Darrell Jackson. Defensive end and linebacker are two other positions of need for the defending NFC champions.
The Steelers could be thinking receiver if they lose Antwaan Randle El in free agency, as expected. But if not, they love to stockpile those versatile linebackers who can handle both inside and outside duty in their 3-4 defensive formation.