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Tazz’s Mock NFL Draft

1.01 San Francisco 49’ers: Aaron Rodgers, QB, California

Aaron is a quarterback that this former dynasty can rebuild around. Aaron benefited greatly from being coached by offensive mastermind Jeff Tedford, who has been known to build prolific, high scoring teams. Rodgers is a very accurate passer, completing 67% of his passes. His touchdown to interception ratio is an impressive three to one. In fact, all of his mechanics are almost perfect, although he lacks the size of more successful quarterbacks.

Though the Niners have Rattay, I can’t see him leading any team to the promised land and he will find his way back to the bench as a solid backup. Although many think the 49ers will trade this pick away, I really don’t think that they will. They are rebuilding and a franchise quarterback is the most important piece of the puzzle.

1.02 Miami Dolphins: Cedric Benson, RB, Texas

Cedric is a great running back and in my mind, the best in this draft by a long shot. He’s got everything you want: power, speed, vision. He’s got work horse ability and has rushed for over 1000 yards in all of his years in college. This year, in twelve games he rushed for 1834 yards and 19 touchdowns on the way to leading his team to a Rose Bowl.

The ironic thing is that Benson plays like (and idolized) the former Dolphins running back, and Texas star Ricky Williams. I do believe that the Dolphins will have more success once they rediscover the running game. They’ve got a strong but ageing defense which will be solid if they don’t have to spend extended amounts of time on the field, like they did last year. They’ve got some solid wideouts and should have some success next season with a running game.

1.03 Cleveland Browns: Alex Barron, OT, Florida State

The Browns have been looking for a strong left tackle for a long time and this guy is as pure as they come. He’s very big, quick, strong and has long arms. He’s got great feet and balance and is excellent in pass protection. He does need to gain weight and improve as a run blocker but he’s still got great upside and will be a great O-lineman in the league.

The Browns do have many holes to fill so it is hard to find a position that they will draft into for sure. D’Brickashaw Ferguson would have been the for sure pick here but he didn’t enter the draft. Other options include Alex Smith at quarterback or some D help from Antrel Rolle or Derrick Johnson. They also may take a wide receiver such as Braylon Edwards or Mike Williams.

1.04 Chicago Bears: Mike Williams, WR, USC

The Bears defense is one of the best and youngest in the league and has looked very impressive, even with the injuries to leaders like Urlacher and Brown. Some of this success may be because of the Bears traded Booker to the Dolphins for Ogunleye, filling a hole, but creating another. Also, their O was struggling because of injuries to their starting quarterback.

This pick will more than fill the hole left by Booker. Williams is the best all around receiver in the draft this year. He’s got great speed, hands, agility and size. However, he hasn’t played this year, so he may be a bit rusty, however by the time the season rolls around, he will have polished off the rust. Mike will give the Bears the big play threat that they need to get over the hump and be a contender in the NFC.

1.05 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, RB, Auburn

The Bucs have both Garner and Pittman at running back, and though Pittman had a good year, both are getting older and a replacement should be brought in. Cadillac will be that guy. He’ll be the change of pace back, splitting carries with Pittman before taking over full time duties. This leaves Garner on the outside looking in.

Though he is a bit smaller than your average running back, he is very hard to tackle. He’s got great agility and good speed. Injuries may be a concern because he has missed some time early in his college career, and split carries with Ronnie Brown. Splitting carries to ease Cadillac into the NFL and decrease wear on his body is encouraged, but once he gets into the flow of things, he’ll be a good running back. This season, he rushed for 1104 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games while splitting carries with Ronnie Brown in the great Auburn rushing attack.

1.06 Tennessee Titans: Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin

The Titans would have loved to unload one of their high priced, low performance offensive tackles, but since Barron was taken, there is no player at the tackle position worth a selection at this spot. Instead they will focus on filling the big hole left in the defensive line when Kearse joined the Eagles.

James is an extremely fast player from the end, and knows how to use his speed, constantly beating tackles in college. He’s a big guy and very solid against the run, usually in the backfield a few moments after the snap. He’s fairly developed and still has a lot of upside. He does have some injury concerns and missed the 2003 season because of an injury, and has ankle problems through college. He is a great end though and should have a very successful career, and fill the hold left by Kearse.

1.07 Oakland Raiders: Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas

The Raiders need a lot of help, in about every position, so the best player available strategy will be the one they use. The Raiders need a lot of help at linebacker, and currently don’t have a pure outside linebacker starting. They could use a wide receiver, quarterback or running back also.

Johnson is an outstanding athlete who plays sideline to sideline. He’s got great speed and instincts and almost never misses a tackle. He’s a smart player and can play the 4-3 defense or the 3-4, which is what the Raiders run. He’s electric, a hard hitter, forces turnovers and a great team leader, much like Ray Lewis. He could still add some weight but he will come into the NFL and make a nice addition to this weak defense.

1.08 Arizona Cardinals: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn

This pick shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve seen the Arizona backfield. They’ve got a weak and unproven running back in Shipp, and Smith retiring. Therefore, the Cardinals get a new running back to go with their new look. They’ve got two young and good wide outs, a young quarterback and an average defense.

Brown is an all around running back, who can out run you, run through you, block you and beat you with his receiving ability. He’s a bigger than average running back, who can run up the gut, or break it to the sideline for a big gain. He can catch and block better than most running backs in college, which makes him a better running back than his Auburn teammate. However, like Cadillac, injuries may be a concern, because he did split carries through college.

1.09 Washington Redskins: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami (FL)

When the Redskins wanted to get their star running back, they had to part ways with one of the best shutdown corners in the game. Now, Smoot, another good corner is likely leaving via free agency, and the ‘skins will need to fill his spot. Washington’s defense was impressive this year, but if Smoot leaves, this will be a huge hole, and one other teams will capitalize on. However, if Smoot stays, there is a good chance the ‘skins will reach for an offensive tackle, to replace eighteen year veteran, Ray Brown.

Rolle is a very physical corner, who can help out in run support and blitz. He is a big corner, at 6’1 and 202 pounds; but he also has the ability to make big plays. He gets good jumps on the ball once it leaves the quarterbacks hands, but can still hit hard to separate wide receivers from balls he can’t tip. The only minor concern with Rolle is his lack of speed, and his ability to keep up with the faster wide outs in the league. However, he is rarely out of position and his physical play will make up for it.

1.10 Detroit Lions: Thomas Davis, SS, Georgia

The Lions have spent most of their recent draft picks on their offence, so now they turn to their defense. They have a solid line, pretty good and young linebackers and a Pro-bowl cornerback. They could use a second corner, but their biggest weakness is at strong safety, where they have 11 year veteran, Bracy Walker.

Thomas Davis is a hitting machine who has the body of a linebacker and the speed of a safety. He’s a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball and is a team leader. Davis has got average coverage skills, but he hits hard enough that it doesn’t matter. He’s always all over the field and seems to be near the ball every time it is snapped, and is great against the run. He’s got the persona to intimidate wide outs and reminds me a lot of Roy Williams. He should make an immediate impact to the Lions 20th ranked pass defense. 

1.11 Dallas Cowboys: Alex Smith, QB, Utah

So next year, the Cowboys will have the 18 year veteran, Vinny Testaverde starting, and the former baseball player, Drew Henson, backing him up. Oh, wait, look who just dropped into their lap, a quarterback who is young, and plays football! Bill Parcells has no faith in Henson, and, though he loves Vinny, he’s not stupid enough to think he can start forever. If Smith drops this far, the Cowboys would be crazy to not give this kid the starting job.

Smith led his college team to an undefeated season. He’s a very smart player, who rarely makes mistakes with the football. He’s got good height and is an excellent passer. He completes 67% of his passes, have a QB rating of 176.5, near 3000 yards, 32 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. He still has a lot of upside, but many believe he doesn’t have the arm strength to be effective in the National Football League.

1.12 San Diego Chargers (NYG): Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan

The Chargers are in the best position to improve their already playoff team with two first round draft picks. Their defense was solid, and their offense was also good with the emergence of Gates and Brees, and the best running back in the league. However, they could really use another big explosive offensive threat to go along with Tomlinson, Gates and McCardell. They could also use this pick to improve at linebacker or defensive line, but I think there will be plenty left by their next pick.

Braylon is a big playmaker and very explosive. He’s fast, has great leaping ability and pretty good size. Some people think he is better than Mike Williams, but I don’t buy it. Mike is bigger, they have about equal speed but Williams has better hands. Braylon occasionally loses his concentration and drops ball that he should be catching, Williams doesn’t have this problem, which is why Williams goes before Edwards.

1.13 Houston Texans: Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma

The Texans have an incredibly solid young offense so they use this pick to improve their defense. They could use this pick on about any position, but with Cody they get a defensive end, who can play linebacker. That way they kill two birds with one stone.

Cody is extremely quick off the ball. He’s a tough, competitive athlete who will always give you his best play. He’s equally as good against the run as he is getting after the quarterback. If he wants to go the National Football League as an end, he needs to put on some weight, but I think he could make an impact as a middle linebacker in the Texans 3-4 defense.

1.14 Carolina Panthers: Heath Miller, TE, Virginia

The Panthers likely won’t be able to afford what Moose wants, so they likely won’t be able to resign him. This means that they’ll have a hole in their passing offense. Though they had a large number of injuries this year, to their running backs and wide receivers they still came close to the playoffs. They have a top defense and a great rushing attack, but their tight end slot could be improved.

Heath is a huge upgrade over Magnum, who is mainly a blocking tight end. Miller is a great blocker, every bit as good as Magnum. However Miller also has very soft hands, which makes him a receiving threat also. He’s got great speed for his size, and is an above average route runner. He could still put on some weight before the season starts, but he should make a nice addition to the Panthers game plan.

1.15 Kansas City Chiefs: Pac-Man Jones, CB, West Virginia

Despite having one of the worst defensive units the Chiefs didn’t address their sorry excuse for a defense. A cornerback should help their weak pass defense, but they could go any defensive player here. In my opinion, the Chiefs should spend their whole draft on defense, but I doubt it will happen.

Pack-man has a great speed, agility and athletic ability, but can also play physical and hit hard. He’s a corner who likes to be around the ball, and likes to make the big tackle for his team. He isn’t as big as most would like their corners at the next level and definitely needs to add some weight before next season. He occasionally takes large risks to make a big play, instead of going for the sure tackle. The thing that separates Jones from other corners in the draft is his great kick return skills, which should help the Chiefs.

1.16 New Orleans Saints: Travis Johnson, DT, Florida St.

The Saints have the 22nd ranked pass defense and 30th ranked run defense, and should also be spending the whole draft on defense. They could use a corner, or linebacker also, however I think that the defensive tackle position can help their pass and rush defense. They can use the tackle to plug the holes on the run, and rush the quarterback on the pass.

Johnson has a great burst of speed once the ball is snapped. He’s big, strong and quick. He’s usually in the backfield just seconds after the ball is snapped. Up to his senior year, he was very inconsistent, but pulled it together in his senior season, to become a force for Florida State. There have been some concerns with his personality and his shoulder, but he seems to have matured and his shoulder didn’t bother him in his senior year.

1.17 Cincinnati Bengals: Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin

The Bengals have a pretty solid defense, who really stepped it up for the second half of the season and a good young offense. The position I feel they really have a big need to improve on is a right defensive tackle. Hawthorne will fill that hole and give them a very strong defensive line. The Bengals have tried for years to lock up a solid, young corner and with plenty of talent still left, they could go down that road also.

Hawthorne is a special player, who really steps it up when the games matter most. He’s got great speed for his size, and has great strength in his upper body. He often demands the double team, which will free up Smith and Clemons to get after the quarterback. He can shed blockers quickly, in time to tackle the running back, or get to the quarterback. Sometimes he takes plays off and needs to improve his stamina. He could also improve strength in his legs before starting his pro career.

1.18 Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Spears, DE, LSU

The Vikings have a great offense, and a defense that could use some improvement, but could be solid with some nice picks. They’ve got a good player at every level on defense. They’ve got Winfield and Chavous in the backfield, Claiborne and Henderson at linebacker, and Hovan, Williams and Udeze on the line. This pick will give the Vikings one of the best young lines in football.

Spears is a better prospect than Pollack because of his size. He’s bigger than Pollack but with similar speed. He’s amazing against the run, but also has the speed to turn the corner on opposing tackles. He is very versatile; he rarely misses tackles, and can even drop back into coverage and intercept balls if needed. He needs to play lower to the ground to be effective at the next level, but he has the work ethic and will to improve.

1.19 St. Louis Rams: Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Rams are unfortunately making it into the playoffs, which mean they are doing just good enough to keep around an idiot coach, but not enough to win a Super Bowl. Martz has a very rocky relationship with starting offensive tackle Kyle Turley, and because they keep making the playoffs, Martz wins the battle and Turley won’t be with the Rams long.

Brown is a great offensive tackle who great at blocking the run and the pass. He is the best lineman on one of the best lines in the nation. He doesn’t have the upside Barron has, but he will improve over time. He needs to show better work ethic and work on finishing blocks, but he should improve into a solid offensive lineman in the league.

1.20 Dallas Cowboys (BUF): Shawne Marriman, OLB/ DE, Maryland

The Cowboys used their first pick to fix their quarterback situation with Alex Smith, now they turn their attention to the defense. Marcus Wiley didn’t pan out to what they expected and they occasionally run a 3-4 defense so Marriman fits perfectly with their defensive scheme. They also have a hole at cornerback, but there is still a lot of talent left, and they have a high second rounder, so they will wait to fill that hole.
Marriman is a productive player, who can play defensive end, or outside linebacker at the next level. He’s got great speed and strength and will be a terror for opposing quarterbacks, standing or in the three point stance. He’s very good at dropping into coverage, and can bat down balls at the line with his 41 inch vertical. He is just a bit undersized to play line, and needs to bulk up before he can be successful in the NFL.

1.21 Jacksonville Jaguars: David Pollack, DE, Georgia

Though Jacksonville has two of the top young defensive tackles in the game, they released both starting ends last year. This pick will fill this hole as Pollack is just one of the many good young ends in this year’s draft. The Jags could also go for a cornerback, because they don’t really have a stud corner to anchor the pass defense.

Pollack is a guy whose motor never stops, and he is always working and giving his all. He’s quick and has great feet, however he is a bit undersized, which is why he doesn’t go earlier in my mock. He rarely misses tackles and is fairly strong against the run, but he needs to bulk up before he becomes an above average end in the league. He does have a great attitude and work habits, which push his stock higher than his physical tools do.

1.22 Baltimore Ravens: Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma

The Ravens have a Super Bowl quality defense, a great running back, and a good tight end, what’s missing? How about a big play wide receiver to help out Kyle Boller. The Ravens have tried to get a get wide out for many years, in 2000, they spent a first round draft pick on Travis Taylor. Then their plans to acquire Terrell Owens from the 49er’s fell through, when he refused a trade to Baltimore.

Clayton has excellent speed and can make guys miss. He’s a big play receiver, and is an exciting player to watch. He’s a great route runner, has good hands, and never loses his concentration. He has great leaping ability and not only catches balls he should; he catches the ones he shouldn’t. He doesn’t have ideal size, he actually is smaller than most people look for in a first round wide out, but he can fly, and has great hands.

1.23 Seattle Seahawks: Channing Crowder, ILB, Florida

Last year, the Seahawks wanted to address defense tackle, strong safety and linebacker, and they filled in two of the three with solid picks. If Alexander bolts, they hawks could reach for a running back, but I don’t think that is likely. Their linebackers have had issues with injuries and bring in a tough linebacker should be a great boost for this defense. If they can stay healthy, they should be Super bowl contenders again.

Crowder is a smart, tough linebacker, who has great instincts. He doesn’t have his tackling mechanics perfect but he never misses the tackle. He plays all over the field and still has a huge upside, as he has only played 2 years of college football. He isn’t exactly a strong coverage man, in zone or man. He has had injury trouble with his knees and foot and needs to get larger and more aggressive.

1.24 Green Bay Packers: Charlie Frye, QB, Arkon

The Green Bay Packers have a few holes but the biggest is quarterback. With Farve constantly flirting with the idea of retirement, they need to bring in his replacement, sooner rather than later. They may also wait on a quarterback, and draft a cornerback but the Pack really need to get a replacement for Farve, because their back-ups aren’t starting material.

Frye is a quarterback with great size, and athleticism. He can actually scramble and thrown accurately on the run, even though he has a large frame. He’s got a great arm and did a lot with no talent at Arkon. He went to a small school so we don’t know how he will compete against top teams. Frye also was sacked often, however he had a horrible offensive line, and I believe if you give him a solid line, he will perform well.

1.25 Denver Broncos: Shaun Cody, DT, USC

The Broncos have the best offensive line in the league, a quarterback who set franchise records, a young and strong running back, and a linebacker core with two guys with 100 tackles and 2 pro bowlers in their defensive backfield. But the inside of their defensive line is weak.

Cody can play defensive end, but is most comfortable at the tackle position. He is great as a pass rusher, but isn’t great against the run. He’s got good size and speed, and is always around the football. He needs to baulk up and play lower to the ground so he won’t get pushed around by the larger offensive lineman in the league. He also needs to work harder on improving against the run to be an elite defensive tackle in the league.

1.26 New York Jets: Corey Webster, CB, LSU

The Jets have locked up three of their key players who were about to be free agents. They still have the standout defensive end John Abraham who has an upcoming contract. The Jets will likely franchise Abraham which will mean that they keep the core of players that got them into the second round of the playoffs. They have a good defensive line, and a great linebacker core. Here they will improve the backfield and draft a cornerback to start alongside Donnie Abraham and use David Barrett as the third cornerback.

Webster has the ideal size to speed ratio for a cornerback in the NFL. He has excellent ball hawking skills and is very good at making plays on the ball while it’s in the air. He likes to jam wide outs on the line and if very physical. He is best when in man coverage, but with some work, could improve his zone coverage and become a better all round corner. He needs to work on his physical ness after the 5 yard line, as he will get burned in the NFL, if he focuses on man handling the wide out instead of running with him.

1.27 Atlanta Falcons: Adam Terry, OT, Syracuse

The Falcons boast one of the top defensive units in the league, and one of the top rushing games in the league. They’ve got a speed running back, and a power running back, along with the most exciting player in the league, Michael Vick. But as last season showed, they’re team crumbles without their star quarterback, so they invest this first round pick into protecting Vick.

Terry is a physical wonder, standing 6’9” and 324 pounds, he still has the frame to add weight if needed. He has tons of experience and hasn’t had a history of injuries. He knows that his height is a bit of a disadvantage, but is smart enough to play low to the ground. He’s intense and works very hard, so when asked to improve his run blocking, he’ll accept the challenge. I believe the Falcons could have a major steel if Terry drops this far, but because of his size, he may go much earlier.

1.28 San Diego Chargers: Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan

The Chargers step up to the plate for their second pick of the first round, and are surprised to see how many great cornerbacks are left. They have an average corner in Sammy Davis opposite Jammer, but he is better suited to be a third cornerback. They may also draft a Safety, such as Brodney Pool, but Jackson is a much better prospect, so they stock up on the Michigan talent in the first round. Jackson, paired with Jammer will give the Chargers one of the top young defensive backfields in the league.

Jackson is a shut down corner, who plays gritty, but also with finesse. He played safety in his junior year, but found his true position at cornerback. He steps up his game when facing a top wide out and often quarterbacks won’t throw to any receivers he is covering for fear he’ll make a game changing play. He needs to work on playing less physical, because he will get penalties called on him if he roughs up the receiver as much as he did in college.

1.29 Indianapolis Colts: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn

The Colts have the best offense in the league and one of the best defensive lines, anchored by Dwight Freeney. Even their linebackers are decent, but the Colts really get hurt by the passing game, despite trying to improve with picks like Bob Sanders and Mike Doss. The Colts should spend the whole draft on defense, because they will never win the Super bowl with their current pass defense.

Rogers has the size of most wide outs, but he can really fly. He’s got the speed to keep up with any wide receiver in this league. He occasionally has minor injuries, but they never affect him, and he’ll play through almost anything. He takes great angles to balls, can change from a back pedal to running forward quickly and has great hands. He is also good in run support and wraps up beautifully. He’s not a finished product, but could develop into an elite cornerback in the NFL.

1.30 Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Miller, CB, Clemson

The Steelers returned to competitive form, by getting back to their roots: smash mouth, tough football, on offense and defense. They’ve got their powerful running backs, tough and fast wide outs and a rookie wonder for a quarterback. On defense, they’ve got maybe the best linebacker core in the league, and a solid defensive line, with a standout young strong safety. Their only weakness is cornerback, and they will use this pick to give them depth and Miller should start opposite Townsend.

Miller fits the “Blitzburgh” game plan perfectly. He like most of the Steelers is very physical and loves to lay a big hit on his opponents. He’s good at blitzing and is pretty good with helping out his line and linebackers with the run. He has a pretty good frame and solid technique, but he needs to work on sticking with his man, and not focusing on the running back as much. Also, if Burress leaves, they may use Miller’s kick return skills, to put less wear on Randle El’s body.

1.31 Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Henry, WR, West Virginia

The Eagles have two wide receivers in Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell that have worn out their welcome in Philadelphia. Mitchell needs to shut up, and Pinkston needs to stop avoiding the ball. I would be surprised if the Eagles didn’t drop at least one of these wide receivers and draft their number two with this pick. They could look to improve their ageing linebackers, or gain depth at cornerback, but I believe a wide out is their most pressing need.

Henry has been great in his last few years of college. He’s always ready to make a big play, and knows how to gain yards after he’s made the catch. He’s a natural athlete, who has great speed, but is a little undersized. He has good hands and can go up and get balls that are over thrown. He still is a work in progress and needs to work on his route running, and he may have some character issues. He needs to get bigger and stronger before he can be a force beside Owens and give McNabb the second wide receiver that he would love to have.

1.32 New England Patriots: Ernest Shazor, S, Michigan

The Patriots have everything they need, but with all of the injuries to their cornerbacks they’ll want to improve their depth at that position. The cornerbacks left aren’t first round talents, but they do have Eugene Wilson, who came into the NFL as a cornerback, starting at free safety. So they draft Shazor which allows Wilson to move over to cornerback and gives them a ton of depth when healthy.

Shazor has NFL size and ability. If he gets beaten with a move he has the speed to recover. He’s an explosive player, great energy and he hits very hard. He supports the run and is an excellent tackler. He hasn’t reached his full potential and is still a work in progress, but he has great natural ability and should develop into a strong free safety in the league. I wouldn’t want to go over the middle with Harrison and Shazor sitting back there.

Thanks for reading my first mock draft of this off season. I will likely be writing others as free agency shakes out, but I would like your input on my opinions. Please feel free to send me a personal message or post on the “Articles Discussion” board.

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