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Old 03-28-2005, 04:47 PM   #1
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Latest espn mock

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Our scouts have been tracking the top NFL prospects since last summer, evaluating their in-season performances both on film and in person, comparing notes with NFL personnel experts, and scouting all-star games and the NFL combine. Individual scouting reports from that legwork can be found in DraftTracker.

Below is our fourth crack at mapping out the first round. We'll be scouting individual workouts, as well as zeroing in on NFL teams' ever-changing needs to make sure our projections remain accurate and realistic.

* = underclassman

2005 NFL draft, projected first round

1. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Aaron Rodgers* | QB | California
One rumor that is picking up speed has the 49ers dealing this pick in exchange for Chargers QB Philip Rivers. It might not come to fruition, but it certainly makes sense for both sides. The Chargers would then have three first-round picks and their starting quarterback of the future in Drew Brees. The 49ers, on the other hand, would get a better quarterback prospect than they could find in this draft, as Rivers grades out considerably higher than Rodgers and Alex Smith (Utah). If that potential deal fizzles, the 49ers are left with a difficult decision. In our opinion, WR Braylon Edwards is the top-overall rated player in the 2005 draft, but the Niners need a quarterback much more than they need a receiver. Personnel officials across the country seem to be split between Rodgers and Smith as this year's top-rated quarterback, but we think Rodgers gets the slight edge because of his greater arm strength and experience in a pro-style system.

2. Miami Dolphins (4-12)
Ronnie Brown | RB | Auburn
The Dolphins' best bet would be trading down in order to acquire extra picks, but that scenario is unlikely. New head coach Nick Saban and his staff have addressed needs along the offensive line and throughout the defense via free agency, which leaves the running back and quarterback positions as the most glaring weaknesses. Saban must first decide if A.J. Feeley is his quarterback in the future. If not, drafting a quarterback would be the right move. If, however, Saban can live with Feeley as his franchise quarterback, drafting one of three top running backs in this class -- Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams -- becomes the next best move because there simply isn't an offensive tackle who warrants consideration with the second overall pick. Benson might be the more powerful runner and Williams might be the most elusive, but Brown is the best overall running back in this year's draft. Brown is big, strong and fast enough to carry a heavy load in the NFL and he also possesses considerably better skills in the passing game than those of Benson and Williams.

3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Alex Smith* | QB | Utah
Like the two teams ahead of them, the Browns would ideally like to trade down, acquire extra picks and get a better value on one of three mid-to-late round offensive tackle prospects in this draft class -- Alex Barron, Jammal Brown and Khalif Barnes. Assuming, however, they get stuck at No. 3, new GM Phil Savage has to decide whether he wants to draft his quarterback of the future -- Smith or Rodgers, depending on which is available -- or go in a different direction. Judging by Savage's game-plan when he was helping control things in Baltimore, Savage would like to build the rest of the team first and then plug in the quarterback later. The problem, however, is that there just isn't an elite defensive prospect worth picking at No. 3. The Browns have most recently addressed needs along their offensive line (Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman) and at cornerback (Samari Rolle), which may signal Savage's realization that his best draft-day value will be at quarterback. Smith is one of the most intelligent and consistent quarterbacks to come out of the collegiate ranks in years and he solidified a top spot in this year's draft with a recent awe-inspiring workout on campus. He will need time to develop physically and that may be the exact reason for acquiring veteran QB Trent Dilfer.

4. Chicago Bears (5-11)
Braylon Edwards | WR | Michigan
Don't be shocked if the Bears use this pick on a wide receiver, even after signing Muhsin Muhammad to a long-term deal. The Bears have enough young talent on defense, but they desperately need more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. The team might draft one of the top three running backs, but Edwards is the best available prospect at a position with similar need. Adding Muhammad and Edwards in one offseason could be just what QB Rex Grossman and RB Thomas Jones need. Finally, some think that the Bears will shy away from using another top pick on a Michigan wide receiver, but that theory is ridiculous. For starters, the current regime wasn't in place when the Bears drafted David Terrell. Secondly, Edwards is bigger and faster than Terrell and he made far more big plays at the collegiate level than Terrell did. Edwards is the best receiver in this year's draft and he has elite NFL potential.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Carnell Williams | RB | Auburn
The Buccaneers could go in several different directions with this pick, including RB, OT, OG, QB, WR, DT or DB. Looking at the probabilities regarding how the top of the draft board will unfold, RB is likely to be the position that the Bucs will get their best value with the fifth overall pick. While Benson is a better fit for an offense looking for a load-carrying power runner, Williams is a better fit for Jon Gruden's version of the West Coast offense. Williams still needs to improve as a blocker, but he's the shiftiest and most elusive of the top three backs (Brown and Benson) and has the hands to become a legitimate weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. It also won't hurt Williams' chances that Gruden fell in love with him while coaching him at the Senior Bowl.

6. Tennessee Titans (5-11)
Adam Jones* | DC | West Virginia
The needs keep piling up thanks to another free agency mass exodus. Considering both of last year's starting cornerbacks (Rolle and Andre Dyson) are gone, the rebuilding Titans could really use a playmaker like Jones on defense and special teams. Not only does Jones have the cover skills, speed and toughness to develop into a shutdown cornerback in the NFL, he also has loads of upside as an NFL return specialist.

7. Minnesota Vikings (from Raiders) (8-8)
Mike Williams* | WR | USC
The Vikings have few needs to address and can really focus in on the ones they do have with two first-round picks thanks to the Randy Moss (Raiders) deal. The team did sign Travis Taylor in free agency, but it plans on using him in the slot. Nate Burleson is entrenched as a starter but Marcus Robinson is aging and inconsistent. In all reality, the Vikings have great depth at the position, but they lack a premier No. 1 now that Moss is gone. Williams might not possess Moss' freakish talents, but he's a dynamic weapon in his own right. Running in the 4.5s at the combine really solidified Williams as a top-10 selection and the corps of Williams, Burleson, Robinson and Taylor could make the transition a lot easier than expected for QB Daunte Culpepper.

8. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)
Cedric Benson | RB | Texas
If the board unraveled as such, Dennis Green and company would have a difficult decision to make between Benson, and Miami DC Antrel Rolle. Running backs have a tendency to slip on draft day, but Benson is one of three outstanding prospects in this year's class and Green is notorious for drafting offense ahead of defense. Benson doesn't have great speed or elusiveness, but he's a north-south runner with great vision, size and power. He would instantly solidify one of the team's most glaring weaknesses after Emmitt Smith's retirement.

9. Washington Redskins (6-10)
Antrel Rolle | DC | Miami-Fla.
Rolle has the size, instincts, toughness and athletic ability to quickly become a solid starter in the NFL. His biggest obstacle in solidifying a potential spot in the top-10 was proving that he was fast enough to turn and run with NFL receivers. His recent 4.49 in the 40-yard dash should ease those worries. With DC Fred Smoot's departure, Rolle would be the best match for the Redskins at No. 9.

10. Detroit Lions (6-10)
Alex Barron | OT | Florida State
The Lions could use a playmaker at defensive end, but finding a replacement for the departed Stockar McDougle at right tackle is more glaring. Barron needs to become more physical, but he has the size, strength and feet to develop into a starting right or left tackle in the NFL.

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Derrick Johnson | OLB | Texas
The Cowboys have been busy in free agency, addressing needs at defensive tackle (Jason Ferguson), quarterback (Drew Bledsoe) and cornerback (Anthony Henry). However, they are still in pursuit of upgrades at wide receiver, offensive tackle (ROT) and OLB/DE. Linebackers have a tendency to slip on draft day, but Johnson is too athletic to slip very far. He still needs to become more physical and learn to take on blocks, but Johnson has Derrick Brooks-like potential and would give Bill Parcells a lot of versatility as the Cowboys make the conversion to more 3-4 looks on defense.

12. San Diego Chargers (12-4)
Shawn Merriman* | OLB/DE | Maryland
The Chargers were tied for the third-fewest sacks in the league (29) in 2004 and they need to use this selection to improve that area. Merriman has the speed, athleticism and pass-rushing skills to immediately upgrade the Chargers' defense in that department, and he is a "tweener" DE/OLB prospect who would fit perfectly as a rush linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.

13. Houston Texans (7-9)
David Pollack | DE | Georgia
If Barron is already taken, the Texans' focus will likely shift to the OLB position in their 3-4 defensive scheme. The team used a first-round pick on Jason Babin in 2004 and, while he did make strides late last season, the team still needs a legitimate pass rusher and playmaker opposite him. Pollack might lack ideal size and top-end speed, but he has the quickness, power and playmaking instincts to immediately contribute in the NFL. Furthermore, his best fit might be as a 3-4 rush linebacker.

14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Troy Williamson* | WR | South Carolina
The Panthers have a No. 1 in Steve Smith and a No. 3 in Keary Colbert, but they could really use another receiver with the size and speed to draw attention on the opposite side of Smith. In our opinion, Williams would be the perfect fit. Williams is finally beginning to get the credit that he deserves after running in the 4.3s at the combine. He has the size, long arms, hands and explosive speed to quickly develop into a deep threat in the NFL.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Marcus Spears | DE | LSU
A DE would help most, followed by a corner who can hold up in man-to-man coverage and then some speed/youth at the WR position. The Chiefs have a decent starting combo at DE in Jared Allen and Eric Hicks, but they really are missing depth and size at the position. Spears would be a good fit, as he is a "tweener" DE/DT who could really make an impact as an interior pass rusher and play in a rotation that would give Allen and Hicks a breather while beefing up the line on first and second downs. Spears is currently rehabilitating an ACL injury he suffered while training for the combine, but he is expected to make a full recovery by early April. If he can run well (in the 4.8 range), Spears should land in the 10-20 range of the first round.

16. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Travis Johnson | DT | Florida State
The Saints would really like to address their glaring lack of athleticism at linebacker with this selection, but the value isn't there. Instead of reaching, the Saints can get a great value at a position that unfortunately is still a weakness, despite drafting Johnathan Sullivan in the first round just two years ago. After struggling through some off-the-field issues that affected his play early in his career at FSU, Johnson had a breakout season as a full-time starter in 2004. In our opinion, he's the best defensive tackle in this year's draft class and has a chance to make a huge impact early in his NFL career as a one-gap penetrating DT with enough bulk and strength to hold the point of attack.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)
Erasmus James | DE | Wisconsin
The Bengals lessened the need at defensive tackle with the addition of Bryan Robinson, but if Johnson is still available he should be the team's pick. The other big area of need that the Bengals could address here is defensive end, where a pass rusher opposite Justin Smith is desperately needed. If James slips to 17, he'd be just as appealing as Johnson. James' less-than-impressive workout at the combine and his history of injuries might have some teams concerned about his NFL playmaking ability. However, he's the best pure pass-rushing DE in this class and is worth taking a chance on in the middle of the first round.

18. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
Dan Cody | DE | Oklahoma
After using their first selection (No. 7) on a wide receiver to help overcome the loss of Moss, the Vikings will have some more options with this pick. The team has been moving and shaking in free agency, addressing needs all over its defense with the additions of DT Pat Williams, LBs Napoleon Harris and Sam Cowart, DC Fred Smoot and DS Darren Sharper. The only position left on that side of the ball needing an upgrade is defensive end, and drafting a pass rusher like Cody would help to solidify things in a hurry. Cody has the athleticism, speed and instincts to step in as a rookie and immediately make an impact.

19. St. Louis Rams (8-8)
Jammal Brown | OT | Oklahoma
The Rams could use upgrades at defensive end and right tackle but, now that it is clear that Kyle Turley will not return, neither of those needs is as pressing as the one at right tackle. Brown needs to become more physical, but he has the size and feet to develop into a solid starter in the NFL.

20. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Shaun Cody | DE | USC
After addressing their need at OLB with the 11th overall pick, the Cowboys should turn their attention to finding either a vertical threat at wide receiver or a defensive lineman who can make an immediate impact. The team is slowly moving to a 3-4, but it still needs depth at the DT/DE position, as DE Greg Ellis fits more as a rush linebacker than he does a 3-4 end. Cody is a "tweener" DE/DT who would be a perfect fit as a one-gap penetrating DT next to La'Roi Glover and could also play the DE position when the team is in its 3-4 look.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
Khalif Barnes | OT | Washington
The Jaguars addressed their most glaring need (DE) with the free-agency addition of Reggie Hayward. Finding an upgrade over Mike Pearson at LOT is the next objective. Barnes has had a huge postseason, as he has wowed NFL brass at both the Senior Bowl and combine. He clearly has the athleticism and size to develop into an above-average starter at the next level. All he needs is good coaching and motivation. He's certainly worth the risk late in the first round.

22. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
Roddy White | WR | Alabama-Birmingham
By adding WR Derrick Mason and DC Samari Rolle via free agency, the Ravens have given themselves a lot of draft-day flexibility. However, with Travis Taylor gone, the team still needs WR depth. White left the Senior Bowl earl with a hamstring injury, but he proved during the first couple days of practice that he has the speed and playmaking capability to make a difference in the vertical passing game at the next level. He doesn't have elite size, but White has the speed to draw attention away from Mason, which is something the Ravens lack on their roster right now.

23. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
Carlos Rogers | DC | Auburn
Rogers has good size and speed. Most importantly, he is a physical cover corner with the athletic ability and confidence to play both man-to-man and zone coverage in the NFL. The trio of Antoine Winfield, Rogers and Brian Williams would finally give the Vikings the playmakers and depth at cornerback that this organization has been void of for years.

24. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Thomas Davis* | S | Georgia
The Packers need help at linebacker and a replacement for Darren Sharper at safety. Davis can't do both, but he should be able to solve one of those problems. Davis played OLB early in his collegiate career but moved to safety and became an absolute terror as a sideline-to-sideline run stopper. Davis might not have the range and cover skills to develop into a safety in the NFL, but he has bulked up to 230 pounds and ran a 4.6 at the combine. In our opinion, Davis has a chance to develop into an athletic OLB in the NFL or an "in-the-box" SS type. Either way, Davis would provide an upgrade for the Packers' defense.

25. Denver Broncos (10-6)
Demarcus Ware | DE | Troy
After losing Reggie Hayward (Jaguars) via free agency, the Broncos need a young perimeter pass-rushing presence and Ware could be just the answer. He's a "tweener" DE/OLB who fits perfectly as a rush linebacker in the team's new 3-4 scheme.

26. New York Jets (10-6)
Heath Miller* | TE | Virginia
The Jets' most glaring weakness on either side of the ball is at cornerback, but their second-biggest need is at tight end after Anthony Becht fled to Tampa Bay. Furthermore, Miller is a much better value than any cornerback the Jets could get with this pick. Miller lacks Todd Heap- and Tony Gonzalez-type speed, but he's just a notch below the elite in terms of playmaking ability. He has very good size, is a smooth athlete, has a terrific feel for the passing game and might have the best hands of any skill position player in this draft. There are some concerns right now about a lingering sports hernia injury that kept him from working out at the combine.

27. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Fabian Washington | DC | Nebraska
The Falcons have bigger needs. They could entertain the idea of drafting Oklahoma's Brodney Pool, the best true free safety prospect in this year's class, but they picked up Ronnie Heard and Rich Coady via free agency. The next biggest need is at defensive tackle, but there isn't a player close to matching this value at the position. Finally, they also could pounce on one of the top three offensive tackles -- Barron, Brown and Barnes -- if one is still around at No. 27. So, if the draft board plays out like this, drafting another young potential star cornerback to play opposite DeAngelo Hall wouldn't be a bad idea, especially if Jason Webster is your No. 2 CB at this point. No player improved his stock at the combine more than Washington, who ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash times (4.25) in the history of the event.

28. San Diego Chargers (12-4)
Mark Clayton | WR | Oklahoma
If the Chargers improve their pass rush with the 12th overall selection, their attention should turn to the other side of the ball with pick No. 28. Roddy White would make sense if he slips, but Clayton is just as good of a value -- if not better. Clayton's lack of size is somewhat concerning, but he has very good speed, exceptional hands and is a threat after the catch.

29. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Channing Crowder* | ILB | Florida
The Colts made the right decision parting ways with former starting MLB Rob Morris because he just didn't fit. He will be a good run-plugger in a different uniform, but he didn't have the speed or cover skills that are necessary to play in the cover-2. Crowder is still raw, but he's a good athlete with a mean streak. His range and agility make him a much better fit for Tony Dungy's scheme.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers (15-1)
Marlin Jackson | DC | Michigan
The Steelers have other needs at right tackle, defensive end, wide receiver, tight end and free safety, but none of them are pressing. The Steelers say they are content with their cornerback position, but if that's the truth they are missing something. Ricardo Colclough should emerge as a solid starter next season and Deshea Townsend is decent at the other corner, but Chad Scott was a cap casualty and Willie Williams is 34-years old. By drafting Jackson, the Steelers could solidify this position for the future. Townsend could eventually move inside to the slot position, where he fits best, and the Steelers would have an excellent young tandem of Colclough and Jackson on the perimeter.

31. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
Matt Roth | DE | Iowa
After re-signing DT Corey Simon and MLB Jeremiah Trotter, the Eagles' only needs in the draft are for depth purposes. Look for them to add a guard/tackle, wide receiver, running back, defensive lineman, linebacker and safety if they keep all five of their day-one picks. Roth has the athleticism, quickness, instincts and tenacity to provide quality reps as a rookie. With Derrick Burgess leaving town and Jerome McDougle failing to stay healthy, this also is the safest pick.

32. New England Patriots (14-2)
Odell Thurman* | ILB | Georgia
The Patriots have needs at cornerback and along their offensive line, but inside linebacker is the most pressing now that the team is fairly confident that Tedy Bruschi (heart) is gone for at least one season. However, he has the physical tools of a late-first-round pick and was a vacuum when on the field during his two-year stint at Georgia.


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Old 03-28-2005, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: Latest espn mock

First time I've seen a reputable mock with us taking Rolle.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:13 PM   #3
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Re: Latest espn mock

This is almost the worst case scenario, but I think it works out fine for us with getting Rolle. The actual worst case scenario, IMO, involves the Cardinals taking Rolle instead of Benson. If they did that, the top 2 WRs and the top 2 CBs would be off the board when we pick. That would leave Shawne Merriman and Derrick Johnson as the only possible picks, IMO. We would definitely get some good trade down offers for those two and Benson, so maybe we could move down to a spot between 11 and 15 and get Carlos Rogers along with a 2nd rounder. Or we could just go ahead and take Merriman or DJ. Merriman could become a Peppers-type DE for us, or DJ could take over at OLB and we could move Washington inside. I think I would rank those 3 options in this order:

1. Trade down, get Rogers, then pray that we can get either Chris Henry or Roddy White with our newly acquired 2nd rounder, although it is unlikely at best that either would be there, especially White. Maybe Matt Jones?

2. Take Merriman. He could bring some pretty good heat right away from the DE spot, and we could let Wynn rotate with him on running downs so that they couldn't expose Merriman's lack of size. He has incredible upside, so that's why I would advocate taking him.

3. Take DJ and move Washington inside. DJ is a great player, but he just doesn't fit with the Redskins. We already have two highly athletic OLBs, and no need for another. Still, that would be an amazing LB corps and probably the best in the league.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:23 PM   #4
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Re: Latest espn mock

Not sure about Rogers in the 11-15 range. Isn't he considered a little bit lower of a prospect? I do like trading down in the situation described though.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:27 PM   #5
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I like the idea of trading down and taking either Troy Williamson or David Pollack. But I'd prefer Pollack, he just seems like a Gibbs' type guy and someone you know will be successful because of his work ethic.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:32 PM   #6
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Re: Latest espn mock

If Rolle and Jones were still on the board at 9, who would you guys take and why?
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:36 PM   #7
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Re: Latest espn mock

I would take Rolle, as he is the bigger, more physical CB of the two. We need that to counter-act TO, and now Burress, even Keyshawn to a lesser extent. Jones is fast, but small. It seems like he would match up great against our WR's but not other team's. Rolle also ran a better than expected 40 time, I think 4.45, not positive. I know that his speed is not considered as much of a concern anymore... Also, as a more physical player, he's going to fit in better in Gregg Williams' schemes.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:42 PM   #8
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Re: Latest espn mock

Quote:
Not sure about Rogers in the 11-15 range. Isn't he considered a little bit lower of a prospect? I do like trading down in the situation described though.
Let's not forget Rogers beat both Rolle and Pac-Man out to get the best DB in the league award last year. In my opinion, Rogers may be the best of the three. PacMan is quick, sacrifices his body, and a good tackler, Rolle is big, kinda slow (lets not trust the combine), good fundamentals. Rogers has a mix of the size and speed and fundamentals. I think he's all around the best one. He can match up with a TO/Moss type, but then also take a Holt type. If we're stuck at 9 without a real playmaker there I bet we'll get some calls to trade down.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:45 PM   #9
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Re: Latest espn mock

So is the consensus that we definitely need to go DB with our first pick? I was thinking more of the line...which in turn would make things easier on our secondary. We haven't had a dominant pass rusher in what, ten years?
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:47 PM   #10
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Last one was Charles Mann? And I don't think anyone would have classified him as one of the best in the league at the time, but he was a pretty good force for our D. He the last better than average DE we've had. Lang was ok, but he played a heck of a lot better for Philly than he did for us...
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:52 PM   #11
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Re: Latest espn mock

Based on the very popular, pick for talent not position, strategy. Wouldnt we assume that at the 9th pick there is no de? You could argue that maybe a lb and convert, but at the 9th pick? Thats risky. So throw defensive ends out. And I ask this.

If Antrelle Rolle, and Mike Williams are on the board at 9. Who does the Gibb's racing team go with?

My opinion is Rolle. Less of a risk.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:53 PM   #12
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Erasmus James? I have seen things about him. But isnt it generally agreed upon that Rolle should go well before him. So if Rolle is available.....
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Old 03-28-2005, 06:13 PM   #13
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Re: Latest espn mock

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monksdown
If Antrelle Rolle, and Mike Williams are on the board at 9. Who does the Gibb's racing team go with?

My opinion is Rolle. Less of a risk.
That is a tough one. I say go with Williams because of the poor offensive performance last year and the way the D seemed to plug anyone in and they did just as well if not better than the starter....but Smoot was out there with Springs virtually the entire year and CB is not a position where you can just stick in the 2nd teamer and have little or no dropoff.

But either guy you just hope he fills the role that needs to be filled and they need both filled!!
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Old 03-28-2005, 06:28 PM   #14
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Re: Latest espn mock

I say we trade down a bit hopefully with the Chiefs, and take either Rolle, Jones, or Roger's whoever is avail. I like Rolle myself, but I think Williams will make an all pro out of any one of the 3, then we take WR V. Jackson in the 2nd, that I believe will be a big time draft for us, I sure hope Dan, Joe, and Vinney are paying attention to this site!

Roddy will be gone in the 1st rd, Chris Henry will probably be avail. as late as the 3rd. I say we use the same strategy we used to get Cooley last year to get V. Jackson this year, even if we have to overpay a bit to ensure we get him early in the second we should do it.
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Old 03-28-2005, 06:32 PM   #15
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Re: Latest espn mock

Between a big time CB and Mike Williams at 9 - gotta take Mike. I think he'll be a good receiver and with his hands and not relying on speed to beat DBs, I feel he'll be able to play some as a rookie and be somewhat successfull.
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