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Old 03-31-2006, 10:16 AM   #1
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Default ESPN Insider Mock Draft

Ferguson is safer pick for Saints at No. 2
By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.



Much in the NFL draft process has changed over the last month. Per usual, this year's scouting combine sent plenty of prospects shooting up and down team draft boards. Furthermore, the free-agency period finally started, and the volatile market has generated a daily fluctuation in team needs.

With that in mind, there also is much left to be determined between now and April 29. Most prospects still have an opportunity to improve their draft stock at pro days and during individual workouts. And with the free-agency period still in full swing, the top of the draft still is far from clear. Regardless, here's a look at how the 2006 NFL draft is shaping up with six weeks remaining:

+ = Underclassman


1. Houston Texans (2-14)
Top five needs: OG, OT, MLB, WR, RB
The pick: +Reggie Bush, RB, USC
The Texans would entertain legitimate trade-down offers to stockpile draft picks and address more pressing needs. However, since the Saints stole the leverage by signing QB Drew Brees in free agency, Houston is not likely to field many enticing proposals. Bush is a special talent who instantly will upgrade the Texans' rushing game, passing game and return game.


2. New Orleans Saints (3-13)
Top five needs: OLB, C, DT, OT, OG
The pick: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia
By addressing the quarterback need before the draft, the Saints have made the second overall pick the target for teams interested in trading up for the chance to draft QB Matt Leinart. Between now and draft day, the Saints will put pick No. 2 up for public auction and wait for the highest bidder. If they don't get the right price, the Saints will have a difficult decision to make between Ferguson and DE Mario Williams. In my opinion, Ferguson would be the safer pick. He could solidify the Saints' offensive line at left tackle opposite last year's top pick, ROT Jammal Brown.

3. Tennessee Titans (4-12)
Top five needs: MLB, S, OT, QB, RB
The pick: Matt Leinart, QB, USC
The Titans have several more pressing needs, but reuniting Leinart with offensive coordinator Norm Chow would be too good to pass up. If another team leapfrogs the Titans to draft Leinart at No. 2, Tennessee gladly would solidify its offensive line by drafting Ferguson here.

4. New York Jets (4-12)
Top five needs: QB, OT, RB, OG/C, CB
The pick: +Mario Williams, DE, N.C. State
The Jets are actively seeking a veteran quarterback via free agency or trade, which is an indication they aren't overly enamored with Vince Young or Jay Cutler. If the team is able to land a quarterback between now and the draft, it will be free to address another need with this pick. Ferguson would be the top choice, if available. However, there's also a strong possibility that DE John Abraham will be traded soon. If that's the case, Williams would be a perfect fit. After running the 40-yard dash in the area of 4.6-second at 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, Williams has become the most coveted defensive prospect in this class.

5. Green Bay Packers (4-12)
Top five needs: OG, OLB, C, CB, ILB
The pick: A.J. Hawk, OLB, Ohio State
The Packers have done a good job recently of addressing their needs at wide receiver (Rod Gardner), defensive tackle (Ryan Pickett) and safety (Marquand Manuel). Still missing, though, is an impact playmaker in the defensive back seven. Hawk not only fits the bill but also has the leadership qualities to turn around a Packers defense that has struggled the last few seasons.

6. San Francisco 49ers (4-12)
Top five needs: OLB, CB, TE, S, WR
The pick: +Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland
The 49ers are in a good position with the sixth overall pick. They would love to see Williams or Hawk fall to them, and they also will entertain the idea of selecting S Michael Huff from Texas. But the team needs to surround QB Alex Smith, last year's top overall pick, with more weapons, and Davis has all the makings of a game-breaking playmaker in the passing attack.

7. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Top five needs: QB, OG, DT, CB, DS
The pick: +Vince Young, QB, Texas
After dumping Kerry Collins and watching Marques Tuiasosopo struggle to develop, the Raiders are back in the market for a quarterback. Many talent evaluators are down on Young because of his collegiate system, unorthodox throwing motion and embarrassing score (officially a 15, contrary to previous reports) on the Wonderlic test -- but not Raiders' owner Al Davis. In fact, Davis would have no hesitation drafting an explosive athlete such as Young with the seventh overall pick.

8. Buffalo Bills (5-11)
Top five needs: OT, DT, C, CB, S
The pick: +Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon
This seems like the perfect marriage. The Bills upgraded their defensive line with the free-agency addition of DT Larry Tripplett, but they are still in search for a massive two-gap defender to play alongside him. Ngata has some weaknesses, including an inconsistent motor, but the presence of Tripplett and Tim Anderson would allow him to ease into a starting role.

9. Detroit Lions (5-11)
Top five needs: LB, S, DE, OG, CB
The pick: Michael Huff, DB, Texas
New head coach Rod Marinelli comes from a hard-nosed, defensive-minded background, and he'll want to set the tone by selecting an impact playmaker on that side of the ball with this pick. Some think Huff can play cornerback in the NFL, while others think he'll be limited to safety. I think he can play both, which would give the Lions much-needed versatility in their secondary.

10. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Top five needs: S, TE, WLB, OT, QB
The pick: Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech
It has become a popular theory that the Cardinals will draft a quarterback with this pick. However, Dennis Green does not plan on being around long enough to groom a rookie at that position. The team extended QB Kurt Warner's contract and made a huge splash with the free-agency signing of RB Edgerrin James. In order to balance things out, look for the team to draft the best available defensive player with this pick. Williams' stock has slipped due to his inconsistent play as a senior and his abrasive attitude at the combine, but he still is the most gifted cover corner in this class. A combination of Williams and Antrel Rolle would give the Cardinals one of the best young cornerback tandems in the NFL.

11. St. Louis Rams (6-10)
Top five needs: CB, OG, TE, LB, S
The pick: Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt
The Rams are fully capable of making this surprise pick. The team has other more pressing needs, but drafting a quarterback of the future will be too big a temptation to pass up. New head coach Scott Linehan is an offensive guru, and it is rumored that he likes Cutler as a fit for his system. Furthermore, Marc Bulger is brittle, and the team needs a better contingency plan than QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

12. Cleveland Browns (6-10)
Top five needs: DE, LB, OT, WR, CB
The pick: +Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State
The Browns have been one of the most active teams in free agency, but they still have a number of holes to fill. After spending two of the team's three first-day picks on the offensive side of the ball last year, GM Phil Savage knows he needs to give more attention to Romeo Crennel's defense. Even though the team brought in Willie McGinest via free agency, he is 34 years old and will not be around for long. Sims is a terrific athlete who would provide a lot of versatility because of his ability to pursue the run, blitz the quarterback and drop into coverage.

13. Baltimore Ravens (6-10)
Top five needs: S, QB, ROT, ROG, OLB
The pick: Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State
The Ravens would consider Cutler if he slipped to them here, but they are more likely to draft a quarterback in the second or third round. There is a more pressing need for offensive line help, but supply does not match their demand. Bunkley is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the 2006 class right now, and he could easily come off the board within the top 15 picks. His impressive combination of size, quickness and power would help the Ravens as they continue to transition to a 4-3 defensive scheme.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)
Top five needs: OT, WR, RB, OLB, DT
The pick: +LenDale White, RB, USC
Drafting a bigger back to take some of the load off Brian Westbrook's shoulders is critical. White is a bruising, 238-pound back who could complement Westbrook perfectly, much as he did Bush during their days at USC.

15. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
Top five needs: S, OT, CB, OG, DE
The pick: +Winston Justice, OT, USC
After losing Kevin Shaffer in free agency, the Falcons have a hole at left tackle. Justice could slip on draft day due to character issues -- he sat out the 2004 season after being suspended twice by the USC student affairs department -- but he's an impressive talent with the size and athleticism to quickly develop into a solid starter in the NFL, assuming he continues to mature and keep his nose clean.

16. Miami Dolphins (9-7)
Top five needs: CB, S, OG/OC, WR, OLB
The pick: +Chad Jackson, WR, Florida
Jackson's exceptional combine workout could help him leapfrog Santonio Holmes as the top receiver taken in this year's draft. The Dolphins have other more pressing needs, but Jackson would give new QB Daunte Culpepper the type of explosive vertical weapon he needs opposite No. 1 WR Chris Chambers.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: ESPN Insider Mock Draft

17. Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
Top five needs: QB, MLB, S, CB, DE
The pick: Tye Hill, CB, Clemson
If Cutler or Young were to free-fall this far, the Vikings likely would pull the trigger. Otherwise, the team is expected to draft for defense with this pick. Hill is the best value at this point, and he would help solidify a secondary that boasts talented starting cornerbacks in Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot, but lacks depth after losing free agent Brian Williams (Jaguars).

18. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
Top five needs: OT, WR, FS, ILB, OG
The pick: +Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State
Coach Bill Parcells doesn't like to draft wide receivers in the first round, but the last time one of his teams used a top pick on an Ohio State wide receiver (Terry Glenn, Patriots) it worked out well. If the team signs free agent Terrell Owens, this projection likely would change. However, if the Cowboys are unable to get a deal done with Owens, Holmes would be the best fit here.

19. San Diego Chargers (9-7)
Top five needs: WR, S, OT, OG, CB
The pick: +Jonathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina
The Chargers would like to draft a playmaking wide receiver with this pick, but they won't reach for Sinorice Moss if Jackson and Holmes are off the board. Despite spending three high draft picks in recent years on CBs Quentin Jammer, Sammy Davis and Drayton Florence, the team's pass defense remains a major issue. Joseph is an excellent athlete with the speed and natural man-to-man cover skills to help upgrade this unit.

20. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Top five needs: WR, CB, DT, DE, QB
The pick: +Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State
Much like the Chargers, the Chiefs want a wide receiver with this pick, but the supply does not match the demand. Instead, expect the Chiefs to take advantage of a deep crop of young cornerbacks by taking the best available at pick No. 20. Youboty gambles too much and needs some polishing, but he has the natural physical tools of a top-10 pick. He could help right away as a sub-package cover corner and eventually could take over at the spot opposite Patrick Surtain.

21. New England Patriots (10-6)
Top five needs: OLB, WR, CB, RB, OT
The pick: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
The Patriots have several needs on defense, especially at outside linebacker and cornerback. To that end, OLB Chad Greenway would be a great fit, especially since he played under former Bill Belichick prot?g? Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. However, if Williams slips this far, the Patriots won't hesitate to draft him. Corey Dillon was unable to stay healthy last season and has a lot of mileage on his legs, which is why drafting a premier running back prospect is wise for both the future and the present.

22. Denver Broncos (10-6)
Pick acquired from Redskins
Top five needs: WR, DE, TE, RB, DT
The pick: +Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota
With the other three elite running back talents from this year's class already off the board, the Broncos would be hard-pressed to pass on Maroney with this pick. Making Maroney even more enticing is his experience playing in a similar zone-blocking scheme at Minnesota.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
Top five needs: OT, WR, DE, LB, CB
The pick: Marcus McNeill, OT, Auburn
This might be a bit of a reach for McNeill. However, the Buccaneers are in dire straits at the offensive tackle position, and the lack of offensive line depth in this year's class could force the team's hand. McNeill does not possess elite physical tools, but he is a massive right tackle prospect who always seems to execute his blocking assignment.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
Top five needs: DT, TE, DE, CB, QB
The pick: Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan
The Bengals will continue to target defense early in this year's draft. There are concerns regarding Watson's inconsistent motor while at Michigan, but if anyone can get the most out of him, it is head coach Marvin Lewis. Watson has the size and strength to help beef up an undersized defensive front that got pushed around entirely too much last season.

25. New York Giants (11-5)
Top five needs: WR, OLB, DT, CB, OT
The pick: Chad Greenway, OLB, Iowa
Even if the Giants land free agent OLB LaVar Arrington, they still will be in the market for a linebacker in the first few rounds of the draft. Greenway could slip due to his less-than-impressive showing at the combine, but he is an instinctive football player who will make an impact immediately for the team that takes a chance on him in the second half of the first round.

26. Chicago Bears (11-5)
Top five needs: CB, TE, S, OLB, PK
The pick: +Leonard Pope, TE, Georgia
There were four tight ends in the NFL last season who caught 70 or more passes. In comparison, Bears TE Desmond Clark has just 48 catches in the last two seasons. Simply put, the Bears are in need of a difference-maker at tight end. In what is a strong group of prospects at this position, Pope is the second-best behind Davis.

27. Carolina Panthers (11-5)
Top five needs: SS/OLB, WR, TE, OG, RB
The pick: Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB, Florida State
Wimbley is building steam at just the right time. He built on a strong senior campaign by turning in an impressive combine workout. At just 248 pounds, Wimbley could emerge as a future starter at outside linebacker for the Panthers. In the meantime, he is ready to contribute immediately as a situational pass-rusher.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (12-4)
Top five needs: OLB, TE, DE, OT, CB
The pick: Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State
The Jaguars have needs at outside linebacker and tight end, but they have shown they will draft the best available player, regardless of position. In this scenario, Hali would be a great value late in the first round, and he also could improve the depth of the Jaguars' defensive end position by playing in a rotation with Reggie Hayward, Paul Spicer and Marcellus Wiley.

29. Denver Broncos (13-3)
Top five needs: WR, DE, TE, RB, DT
The pick: Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami
After snagging Maroney with their initial pick in the first round, the Broncos will be in the market for the best available wide receiver, tight end or defensive end. In this case, Moss would have to be the choice. His lack of size will scare some teams, but his explosive speed and quickness will make him an immediate threat as a slot receiver in the NFL.

30. Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
Top five needs: RB, OLB, OG, ILB, PK
The pick: Demeco Ryans, OLB, Alabama
The Colts want desperately for one of the aforementioned top-four running backs to fall to them at pick No. 30. If that doesn't happen, though, do not expect GM Bill Polian to reach for a second-round prospect such as Joseph Addai or Brian Calhoun. One option would be to trade out of the first round to stockpile picks and get a better value at the running back position later on. A second option would be to package picks to move up for Williams or Maroney. A final option would be to sit tight and draft the best available linebacker or offensive lineman. In this case, Ryans would be a great value and potentially could take over right away for departed OLB David Thornton.

31. Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
Top five needs: OG, DS, WR, CB, OLB
The pick: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College
The Seahawks will have bigger needs at offensive guard if they don't match the Vikings' offer sheet for transition free agent Steve Hutchinson, as well as at safety and wide receiver. However, the team also needs to improve its depth at defensive end, and Kiwanuka would be a steal this late in the first round. He is a developmental prospect who could serve as a situational pass-rusher while attempting to improve his bulk, strength and technique versus the run.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
Top five needs: WR, FS, DE, C/OG, OLB
The pick: Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State
The Super Bowl champs are obviously void of many pressing positional needs. That's why they have the luxury of drafting the best available prospect with the final pick of the first round. Mangold, the clear-cut No. 1 center prospect in this year's class, would make a lot of sense as the heir apparent to aging starter Jeff Hartings. Other options could include OLB Bobby Carpenter, DT Rodrique Wright, DS Ko Simpson, OLB Thomas Howard and CB Alan Zemaitis.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.
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Old 03-31-2006, 12:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: ESPN Insider Mock Draft

these ****ers don't understand that nick mangold will not be drafted by the steelers, they need to do more research before they start acting like they no shit. i hope we get wright cause he'll be 10x better than kesiel and it would look good having two longhorns up front.
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Old 03-31-2006, 04:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: ESPN Insider Mock Draft

The first part of this draft was one of the more competent I've seen, but it started to fall apart in the middle. Just a few random thoughts.

If the Raiders plan on starting Young, they'll ruin him.

If the Cards don't pick a QB, they will ruin their own momentum.

If the Baltirats don't draft a QB they will be 3-13 for the next 3 years.

By #18, the dynamic has changed enough with Dallas signing TO (Anyone notice the deafening silence out of Tuna on this one? He's clearly not pleased) that the rest of the draft is way off.

I'll be interested to see what the next revision looks like...you know, the draft is only a few weeks away now...
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Old 04-03-2006, 05:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: ESPN Insider Mock Draft

Most of these picks will never happen.
They just do not make sense.
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