Friday, April 28, 2006

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.

14. Philadelphia: Chad Jackson, WR, Florida. The Eagles really like Oregon’s Ngata and USC’s Justice. Since they’ll be gone, the Eagles begin addressing a big need with Jackson.

15. Denver: Kamerion Wimbley, DE, Florida State. If the Broncos can find a taker for their two first-round picks, they would like to jump up and grab Maryland’s Davis. Wimbley has the makings of a fine pass rusher.

16. Miami: Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech. Like Texas’ Huff, a safety-turned-corner, Williams is physical in coverage and gets the nod over Florida State’s Antonio Cromartie and South Carolina’s Johnathan Joseph.

17. Minnesota: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota. If Cutler or Jimmy Williams is still available, they will consider them. Maroney will replace the disappointing and departed Michael Bennett.

18. Dallas: Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State. The Cowboys make this pick with an eye toward the future — Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens are both north of age 30.

19. San Diego: Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State. He flew into the first round despite missing last season with a knee injury. Cromartie can also return kicks and is considered by some as one of the draft’s top five athletes.

20. Kansas City: Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina. The run on corners-who-can-start-right-away continues with Joseph. And they’ll remain a player to sign free agent Ty Law.

21. New England: Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State. The Patriots parted ways with Willie McGinest. The Patriots have to fill needs at outside and inside backer. Carpenter can start right away.

22. San Francisco: Tye Hill, CB, Clemson. The 49ers acquire their second immediate starter of the day with Hill, who ran well at the Combine to move into the first round.

23. Tampa Bay: Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State. The Bucs need an offensive tackle but none after Ferguson and Justice are worthy of a first round choice. Sims eventually will take over for Derrick Brooks.

24. Cincinnati: Manny Lawson, DE/OLB, N.C. State. Overshadowed by Mario Williams in Raleigh, Lawson has shot up teams’ draft boards this spring. Virginia Tech’s Darryl Tapp would be a better option, though.

25. New York Giants: Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan. The G-Men filled their need at outside linebacker with the LaVar Arrington signing. Watson was deemed an underachiever in college so this is a reach.

26. Chicago: Jason Allen, S, Tennessee. The Bears traded veteran safety Mike Green to Seattle earlier in the week. Allen was banged up last year, and gets the nod over a cornerback.

27. Carolina: LenDale White, RB, USC. A torn hamstring prevented White from working out before the draft, but his bruising style will complement DeShaun Foster. And if Foster goes down, White can carry the load.

28. Jacksonville: DeMeco Ryans, OLB, Alabama. The Jags tried to sign Arrington so they go with Ryans, who had a solid college career and drew some interest from the Redskins.

29. New York Jets: Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State. Two picks, two new starters along the offensive line. Mangold is the best center in a weak class and the Jets might be candidates to trade down and still get him.

30. Indianapolis: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis. The Colts lost James to the Cardinals so they waste no time addressing that void. Williams had nearly 1,000 carries in college and likely will begin as a third-down back.

31. Seattle: Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State. It’s a good day to be a corner. He probably doesn’t have a first-round grade by most teams, but the Seahawks need help at this position.

32. Pittsburgh: Joseph Addai, RB, LSU. The Steelers might opt for receiver Sinorice Moss here, but Addai fills a bigger need. Jerome Bettis has retired and Duce Staley can’t stay healthy, leaving Willie Parker as the only reliable back.

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