2006 NFL Draft Preview
By Nick Ferraro
There is good news this weekend for teams needing help along the lines.Â There are elite prospects on both offense and defense and solid depth through the later rounds.Â That depth will likely mean more draft-day deals than usual as weaker teams with multiple positions to fill look to trade down in order to gain strength in the trenches.Â Line depth is also good news for the leagueâ€™s strongest teams, as they will have every opportunity to move up to snag the one player who may make the difference.Â
Things are not so rosy for teams who need help in the defensive secondary, as the talent is scarce. The pickings will also be slim at wide receiver after the first half of round one.Â On the bright side, receiver should be an area where some of the leagues established players become trade bait on draft day.Â Green Bayâ€™s Javon Walker is available for the right price, and Denverâ€™s Ashley Lelie has been given permission to work out a trade.Â There are also rumors that Donte Stallworth is on the block in New Orleans.
There will be no shortage of rumors during the last few days leading up to draft day.Â Teams will generate smoke screens in attempts to elicit the best possible offers.Â In the first six, keep your eyes on the Saints, Jets, Packers, and Niners. Each will be willing to drop down in hopes of addressing multiple positions.
In the middle of round one watch the Rams, Ravens, and Broncos.Â The Rams are in a key position given our expectation that Vernon Davis will be around for their turn, and his ridiculous work outs have just about everyone taking notice. Baltimore is in a hot spot as wide receivers Chad Jackson and Santonio Holmes, easily the two best players at the position, figure to be off the board by the 15th pick. The drop off in talent at WR means teams will look to jockey into the Ravenâ€™s spot. Denver will be looking to move Lelie and watch for RB Tatum Bell to become draft-day trade bait.Â
At 17, the Vikings will field quite a few calls with interest in DeAngelo Williams.Â Williams is clearly the draftâ€™s second best runner, and the Vikingâ€™s best move is to make him their own.Â San Diego will also be willing to move down from 19 with the elite receivers off the board.
It will be difficult to deal in the last part of round one.Â Teams who havenâ€™t made moves forward will be looking to jump out of the first round as the talent from picks 33 through 45 looks as solid as anything from 20 to 32.Â
Though draft-day trades are impossible to predict, we do know that every team will claim they got the guy they wanted and everything went according to their plan.Â The only thing more elusive on draft day than the truth is a sure thing.Â Hereâ€™s how we think things will shake out this weekend:
1. Houston TexansÂ RB – Reggie BushÂ Houstonâ€™s best play would be to trade out of the top spot.Â Bush is electric, but there are multiple holes to fill for new head coach Gary Kubiak.
2. New OrleansÂ OT â€“ Dâ€™Brickashaw FergusonÂ This is the hottest spot in the draft.Â The Saints can send legitimate signals on Ferguson, Williams, or Leinart in hopes of attracting a trade partner.
3. TennesseeÂ QB â€“ Matt LeinartÂ This is an easy choice for the rebuilding Titans.
4. New York JetsÂ DE â€“ Mario WilliamsÂ With Ferguson off the board, the Jets will be more willing to deal down.Â If they stay here, theyâ€™ll grab Williams and try to fill OT with their next pick at 29.
5. Green BayÂ DT â€“ Haloti NgataÂ Ngata will plug a porous middle for the defensively challenged Packers.
6. San FranciscoÂ LB â€“ A.J. HawkÂ Losing Andre Carter and Julian Peterson forces the Niners to think defense.
7. OaklandÂ QB â€“ Vince YoungÂ The playmaking ability of Young is too hard to pass up despite needs on defense and the offensive line.
8. BuffaloÂ OT â€“ Winston JusticeÂ With former 1st â€“ rounder Mike Williams out of the picture, OL is Buffaloâ€™s biggest need.Â
9. DetroitÂ QB â€“ Jay CutlerÂ Matt Millen hopes Cutler will help everyone forget about Joey Harrington.
10. ArizonaÂ S â€“ Michael HuffÂ The Cards will be disappointed that neither Cutler nor Young are still on the board.
11. St. LouisÂ TE â€“ Vernon DavisÂ The Rams phones will be in overdrive with Davis still on the board at 11.
12. ClevelandÂ DE/LB â€“ Manny LawsonÂ If Kellen Winslow returns, it will seem like Cleveland had two first-round picks.
13. BaltimoreÂ OT â€“ Eric WinstonÂ Winston will help revive the Ravenâ€™s running game.
14. PhiladelphiaÂ WR â€“ Chad JacksonÂ The Eagles need a playmaker at WR in the worst way.
15. DenverÂ WR â€“ Santonio HolmesÂ Holmes will make Ashley Lelie expendable and may mean more deals for Denver on draft day.
16. MiamiÂ OT â€“ Marcus McNeilÂ Miami wants Culpepperâ€™s rebuilt knee to stay out of harms way.
17. MinnesotaÂ RB â€“ DeAngelo WilliamsÂ Williams will finally stop the revolving door at RB for the Vikings.
18. DallasÂ LB â€“ Ernie SimsÂ The speedy Sims will be a perfect compliment to DeMarcus Ware.
19. San DiegoÂ C â€“ Nick MangoldÂ With the top receivers off the board, the Bolts reach a bit at a position of need.Â
20. Kansas CityÂ DT â€“ Broderick BunkleyÂ The Chiefs have to fill the middle and find a pass rush.
21. New EnglandÂ LB â€“ Chad GreenwayÂ Greenway doesnâ€™t impress physically; he just makes all the plays.
22. San FranciscoÂ CB â€“ Tye HillÂ With multiple holes to fill, the Niners take the highest remaining player on their board.
23. Tampa BayÂ G â€“ Davin JosephÂ Gruden needs people to open holes for his Cadillac.
24. CincinnatiÂ DE â€“ Mathias KiwanukaÂ Getting outplayed by Dâ€™Brickashaw Ferguson at the Senior Bowl hurt Kiwanukaâ€™s ratings.Â It shouldnâ€™t have.
25. New York GiantsÂ LB â€“ Demeco RyansÂ With Arrington and Ryans, the Giants transform a major deficiency into a strength.
26. ChicagoÂ TE â€“ Marcedes LewisÂ The Bears have to find people who can help them get points on the board.
27. CarolinaÂ RB â€“ Laurence MaroneyÂ Maroney finally gives Carolina a reliable running back 28. JacksonvilleÂ TE â€“ Leonard PopeÂ The Jags need another target in the passing game.
29. New York JetsÂ OT â€“ Daryn ColledgeÂ The Jets address their most glaring need with their second pick in round one.
30. IndianapolisÂ RB â€“ LenDale WhiteÂ Whiteâ€™s hamstring injury cost him a few million dollars.Â He will have every chance to make it back in the Coltâ€™s offense.
31. SeattleÂ LB â€“ Kamerion WimbleyÂ With Wimbley and free-agent Julian Peterson, Seattle has options in coverage and on the blitz.
32. PittsburghÂ WR â€“ Sinorice MossÂ The Steelers only need is a player who can stretch the field vertically.Â Moss is one of the draftâ€™s fastest players.