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Saturday, February 12, 2005

My Mom Always Taught Me......

...that when you have nothing to say, just steal it from someone else.

First-Round Projection Feb. 8


The Senior Bowl and Super Bowl have both come and gone, which means it's time to update my projections for the first round of the NFL draft.


Utah quarterback Alex Smith still looks like the No. 1 pick, but there are some new entries on the list. Washington offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, Troy outside linebacker Demarcus Ware and Georgia wide receiver Reggie Brown have all worked their way into the first round while LSU defensive end Marcus Spears makes his debut all the way up at No. 10.


In all, there are 11 underclassmen among my first 32 picks, including a pair of third-year sophomores. Auburn and Oklahoma each have three players on the list -- including two of the top 10 for the Tigers -- while Texas, USC, Florida State and Wisconsin all have two players on my firsr-round board.


Here's how they fall into order:


1. San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith (jr.), QB, Utah

A smart player who will pick up an NFL system quickly, Smith has good size, is mobile enough to hurt teams with his running ability and is also an efficient passer who can make all the necessary throws.

2. Miami Dolphins: Cedric Benson, RB, Texas

A strong, tough runner with good speed for his size, Benson would help fill the void left by the retirement of Ricky Williams. But there is speculation the Dolphins will attempt to fill their running back need through trade, perhaps for Buffalo's Travis Henry, so stay tuned.

3. Cleveland Browns: Aaron Rodgers (jr.), QB, California

Rodgers is a smart, accurate passer with a quick release. His arm strength is adequate and he is a better prospect at this point in his career than former Cal QB Kyle Boller, now the starter for the Baltimore Ravens.

4. Chicago Bears: Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan

Edwards has the size, speed and athleticism to take over games, and he did that several times in 2004. He also significantly cut down on dropped passes and concentration lapses this past season, pushing his stock even higher.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn

A creative, deceptive runner with tremendous natural skills. Williams can get tough yards inside despite lacking ideal size, a point illustrated by his 29 rushing TDs over the last two years. Was also coached by Tampa head coach Jon Gruden in the Senior Bowl.

6. Tennessee Titans: Adam Jones, CB, West Virginia

A good cover man who will also contribute as a kick returner, Jones has very good closing speed and is a willing tackler in run support. That may be his most important quality with the NFL hurting pass defenses by focusing on downfield infractions by defensive backs.

7. Oakland Raiders: Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma

A fiery, intense player who always goes all-out, Cody is similar to former NFL standout Kevin Greene in his ability to play on his feet as an outside linebacker, or in a three-point stance as a defensive end.

8. Arizona Cardinals: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn

Perhaps the most complete back in the draft, Brown can carry or catch the ball with equal skill. He has size, instincts and quickness that allowed him to put up excellent numbers at the college level.

9. Washington Redskins: Mike Williams (jr.), WR, USC

Williams did not play in 2004 but dominated the college game for two seasons while at USC. His 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame gives him a big advantage over defensive backs, and he has excellent hands. Would be a great help in the development of quarterback Patrick Ramsey and help take some pressure off Clinton Portis in the running game.

10. Detroit Lions: Marcus Spears, DE, LSU

Spears boosted his stock immensely with an outstanding performance at the Senior Bowl. He showcased his speed, strength and athleticism against some of the best offensive linemen in the nation, and his size would make him a welcome addition for a team that needs to boost its pass rush.

11. Dallas Cowboys: Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State

Spends a lot of time in opposing backfields after collapsing the pocket or gaining penetration against the run. Came on strong and raised his stock significantly during his senior year.

12. San Diego Chargers (from NYG): Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas

Has the speed and strength to chase ballcarriers from sideline to sideline and make things happen when he gets to the ball.

13. Houston Texans: Troy Williamson (jr.), WR, South Carolina

Perhaps the fastest wideout in the draft, Williamson would be a nice complement to budding superstar and physical wideout Andre Johnson.

14. Carolina Panthers: Alex Barron, OT, Florida State

With light feet for a player his size, Barron is a consistent blocker who is equally adept in both the pass and run games.

15. Kansas City Chiefs: Shawne Merriman (jr.), DE/OLB, Maryland

A workout warrior who would help shore up a defensive line that had trouble pressuring the quarterback last season. Expect Kansas City to commit nearly its entire draft to the defensive side of the ball.

16. New Orleans Saints: Brodney Pool (jr.), S, Oklahoma

A complete safety who excels in coverage and is more than adequate in run support, Pool has excellent size, covers a lot of ground and shows good anticipation in diagnosing plays.

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Roddy White, WR, UAB

A big-play wideout who averaged 20.0 yards per catch last season, White's combination of size and speed is in the elite category.

18. Minnesota Vikings: Shaun Cody, DL, USC

A versatile lineman who can play end or tackle, and was a leader on the nation's best rush defense..

19. St. Louis Rams: Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin

Has to answer questions about his durability, but when healthy, James was a force along the line who commanded double-team blocks on a regular basis.

20. Dallas Cowboys (from BUF): Antrell Rolle, CB, Miami

A good cover man who did not see a lot of balls thrown his way in 2004, Rolle was still a force in run support and is adept at blitzing off the corner.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington

Another player who raised his stock at the Senior Bowl, where he answered questions about a wrist injury that sidelined him for the final six games of 2004. Excellent in both run and pass blocking and earned the respect of Iowa DE Matt Roth at the Senior Bowl, with Roth calling Barnes the best tackle he faced all season.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma

Has excellent speed and is one of the best in years at running after the catch, making Clayton a big-play threat who would give young QB Kyle Boller another option on the outside.

23. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Roth, DE, Iowa

A tremendous natural pass rusher who has fire and intensity, Roth's outstanding consistency this season helped raise his stock.

24. Green Bay Packers: Thomas Davis (jr.), OLB, Georgia

A punishing tackler who played safety in college, Davis has the size and speed to become a force in the front seven at the pro level.

25. Denver Broncos: Demarcus Ware, OLB, Troy

Needs to add a little bulk to his frame, but his quickness would give a boost to a Denver pass rush that was lackluster in 2004.

26. New York Jets: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn

A physical player who is an asset in run support and also has the speed to be an outstanding cover man. Rogers was the best player on a very good Auburn defense thanks to his consistency and durability.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Browner (so.), CB, Oregon State

With his good size and speed, Browner is a consistent cover man who would be a nice complement to last year's top pick, fellow CB D'Angelo Hall.

28. San Diego Chargers: Roscoe Parrish (jr.), WR, Miami

A speedy guy who would round out a receiving corps bolstered this season by the addition of Keenan McCardell and the emergence of TE Antonio Gates. Parrish would also be an asset in the return game.

29. Indianapolis Colts: Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin

His combination of size, strength and athleticism make Hawthorne an ideal 4-3 defensive tackle. He knows how to handle double-team blocks and can create lost-yardage plays.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Heath Miller (jr.), TE, Virginia

A tremendous pass receiver and a willing blocker along the line, Miller would give young quarterback Ben Roethlisberger another weapon to complement his wide receivers and also be a help to the Pittsburgh running game.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Reggie Brown, WR, Georgia

Has excellent size and hands and gained plenty of attention with a good Senior Bowl showing. Would be a nice addition to a receiving corps led by Terrell Owens.

32. New England Patriots: Channing Crowder (so.), MLB, Florida

Crowder immediately became one of the best linebackers in college after setting foot on campus. He has all the skills and instincts to be a tremendous middle linebacker at the next level.


Borderline first-rounders



The players below are on the very fringe of the first round and depending on how things shake down some, all or none of them could ultimately end up being taken off the board in the first 31 selections:


  • Darryl Blackstock, OLB, Virginia

  • Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma

  • Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn

  • Charlie Frye, QB, Akron

  • Bryant McFadden, CB, Florida State

  • David Pollack, DE, Georgia

  • Justin Tuck (jr.), DE, Notre Dame



  • * * *

  • Jerry Crasnick goes over his top ten bargains of the off-season. The Mets stop in at #2 with Miguel Cairo for $900,000. The top spot was owned by Juan Gonzalez for $600,000 and Ricky Bottalico checked in at #8.

    I still think the Mets should have inked Bottalico if it cost less than a million dollars.

  • The Soxaholix had this link in their last post. Let me warn you, it is bizarre. I'm talking Puppy Bowl 2005 bizarre. For those of you who did find the Puppy Bowl last Sunday during your channel surfing, it was three hours of puppies. No commercials, just puppies on a small football field doing puppy things. If they pooped or peed, some guy came out, blew a whistle, threw a flag, and cleaned it up. They even had a slow motion replay hump. It was weird. It's almost as if they gave up trying to compete with the Super Bowl pre-game show and said screw it. Let's just put puppies and TV. Anyway, this Korean cartoon rivals it. I have no idea what it says, but it's funny and weird. The David Ortiz/Shrek character, the Johnny Damon/Jesus character, and the Pedro Martinez/Alien character. If anyone knows what the hell it actually says, let us know.

  • If the young players want to learn how to snort coke and beat hookers, they are in luck. Daryl Strawberry is coming on as a development instructor for the a few days during spring training.

  • Mr. Intangibles is at it again. If it cannot be quantified, Derek does it the best. THE BEST! There is no doubt he's a heads up player, but enough already. I cannot wait until he's in the HoF for his intangibles. Why don't they start putting people in for their good looks and style too.

  • Jeffy Wilpon speaks....

    "The big question for everyone is middle relief," Jeff Wilpon acknowledged. "But Omar and Jim [general manager Minaya and senior vice president Duquette] are very confident they'll be able to fill that need. Either somebody is going to step up, or they'll be able to fill that need.

    "The ultimate goal is to win, and the ultimate goal is to do it the right way," Wilpon said. "It's great to get free agents. We want to build the farm system ... You have to be able to have the David Wrights and Jose Reyeses to win. You can't fill every spot by going out and getting a free agent."


    Any farm building is just going to have to wait until the 2006 draft with only one early pick this draft.

  • Add Joe Cubas to the list of slimy agents (cough..David..cough...Sloane...cough).

    Miami-based agent Joe Cubas has been suspended by the union because the MLBPA concluded he withheld immigration papers that would allow Soler to complete the visa process and enter the United States, an executive said

    He DEFINITELY needs to get to work with the Mets. They gave him a Major League contract and by him not showing up to spring training on time would only further delay his arrival and just waste money. Are agents really necessary?

  • Oh, the good memories.

  • "The allegations in this book are absolutely false," Giambi said in a release put out by SFX, the agency that represents the troubled slugger. "When that ball bounced off Jose's head and into the stands not only was it a home run but it apparently knocked out the ability to distinguish fact from fiction.

    "When the facts come out it will be proven this book is full of errors and, if anything, it will end up on the best-selling fiction list."
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