Ryan O’Halloran of The Washington Times sketches out the first round of the NFL Draft, which starts tomorrow.
1. Houston: Reggie Bush, RB, USC. Mario Williams is intriguing, but Bush — because he could re-define the “Slash” role — became the best option when the Texans retained quarterback David Carr.
2. New Orleans: Mario Williams, DE, N.C. State. One of the best athletes in the draft, Williams will give the Saints a defensive boost. Had they not signed Drew Brees, Matt Leinart would have been a lock here.
3. Tennessee: Matt Leinart, QB, USC. The Titans are torn ; GM Floyd Reese wants Vince Young, the coaching staff wants Leinart. In the end, Leinart is the safer pick and will be of immediate help.
4. New York Jets: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia. The best lineman available and second only to Bush in draft value, Ferguson will be a starter the first day of training camp.
5. Green Bay: A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State. Even the most bizarre mock draft has the Packers selecting Hawk. Linebackers don’t traditionally go this high but the Packers need defensive help that much.
6. San Francisco: Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland. A stellar combine performance (4.38 seconds in the 40) vaulted Davis into the top 10. The only hiccup is if Williams goes No. 1 and the 49ers trade up to take Bush.
7. Oakland: Vince Young, QB, Texas. Slid to this spot based completely on teams drafting for need. A unique athlete, he will use this year to watch Aaron Brooks and then take over.
8. Buffalo: Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon. The Bills could go in many different directions but opt for the best space-eater in the draft. Ngata will make up for the loss last year of Pat Williams.
9. Detroit: Michael Huff, CB/S, Texas. The Lions will take a look at Jay Cutler, but ultimately will decide on Huff because they desperately need a play maker in the secondary.
10. Arizona: Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt. Cutler will watch Kurt Warner for a season and then be handed the keys to an offense that has Edgerrin James, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.
11. St. Louis: Broderick Bunkley, DT, Florida State. Anybody who saw the Redskins run through the Rams’ defense last year knows where they need help.
12. Cleveland: Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa. Some drafts have the Browns opting for Manny Lawson of N.C. State, but they won’t pass up Greenway’s athleticism and instincts.
13. Baltimore: Winston Justice, OT, USC. The Ravens would love to add one of the big three quarterbacks (specifically Young). Justice, though, would be a solid pick and would join a line with young talent.