Movement in top picks continues as draft approaches
Posted: Thursday April 20, 2006 11:58AM; Updated: Thursday April 20, 2006 4:13PM
We must be closing in on the NFL draft, because the misinformation campaign is in full swing within league circles. Houston wavering on Reggie Bush in favor of Mario Williams? The Saints still considering Matt Leinart? Tennessee having moved off both Leinart and Jay Cutler in favor of Vince Young?
It's a question of whom do you believe? And at this time of year, with the first round set to commence in nine days or so, trust should be a rare commodity. Here's our fifth -- but not final -- attempt to divine the way the first round will go down.
Mock NFL Draft No. 5
Our gut tells us all this we-might-take-Mario-Williams talk is largely smoke and mirrors designed to get Bush's price tag down in pre-draft contract negotiations. Not true, say the Texans, because Williams could be better than Julius Peppers. Well, Bush could be better than Marshall Faulk. So there.
Ideally the Saints would still like to trade out of this slot and down to No. 4, where they could still get Ferguson, and at a better bargain. But if they must stick at No. 2, the Saints' choice of Ferguson over defensive end Mario Williams comes down to the team's needing a blue-chip blocker more than it needs a third end.
OK, it's official. At one point or another in this mock-draft process, I've given the Titans all three of the top-rated quarterbacks: First Jay Cutler, then Matt Leinart and now Young. It appears Titans GM Floyd Reese is thinking Leinart is as good as he's going to get, but Young just might be special in the right offense.
If the Jets think they can sit tight and still get Williams, the draft's preeminent pass-rushing prospect, I don't know why they would give up picks to move up two notches into the Saints' No. 2 slot. Williams, Ferguson or a choice between Leinart or Cutler is not a bad spot to be in if you're New York.
The Packers need help in their defensive front seven, and Hawk is the cleanest player on the board who fits the bill. But WWBFD? Translation: What would Brett Favre do? Will taking Hawk help convince Favre to return for another season? Or would the Packers' case be better made by giving somebody a shot to take tight end Vernon Davis, or one of the quarterbacks, in exchange for another pick or two?
In this year's top 10, Davis looks like the surest bet to make an early rookie-season impact. To see how much a game-breaking tight end can elevate an offense, the 49ers only have to pop in tape of either San Diego or Kansas City. Looks like that coin flip with the Raiders for the No. 6 pick is going to wind up being huge for San Francisco.
C'mon, the idea of teaming the Raiders up with a big, left-handed quarterback with a knack for throwing the touch pass has to be almost irresistible to Al Davis, who loved everything about the Ken Stabler era. The Raiders also like Texas S-CB Michael Huff, who would be a playmaker for the secondary. But our hunch is the No. 3 Titans and No. 7 Raiders take Young and Leinart in some order.
The Bills wouldn't surprise anyone if they went after a space eater like Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata or Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. But Justice has climbed into top 10 territory on a lot of boards, and he's just too tempting to pass on. The hope is that he'll make everyone forget the Mike Williams error, and quickly.
I'd really like to make a home in Detroit for Cutler, but I can't pull the trigger. Not with the Lions signing both Jon Kitna and Josh McCown this offseason and still hoping to get something in trade for the demoted Joey Harrington. Huff gives new coach Rod Marinelli the kind of ball-hawking safety currently all the rage in the NFL.
The Cardinals can't count on either Huff or Justice lasting until their turn comes up, and try as we might, it's getting harder to envision Arizona head coach Dennis Green taking any quarterback other than Young in this slot. Cornerback Jimmy Williams carries too much risk, so that leaves us with Sims, who has sideline-to-sideline pursuit skills.