Rivers, D.J. Williams jump up in mock draft
By Pat Kirwan
NFL.com Senior Analyst
(April 16, 2004) -- With nine days to go to the annual NFL draft, lots of things can and will happen. I will post my final mock draft two days before the draft, but here's my midterm look at the draft. There are changes from my April 4 opening draft.
There have been free-agent signings since the first week of April, so some team needs have changed. I will not factor in trade rumors in this version.
1. SAN DIEGO -- ELI MANNING, QB. It's the Chargers' responsibility to see what the value of the first pick is no matter what they want to do. They would be wise to not ask for the sky from the Giants to move up because New York has options at the fourth spot to include Roethlisberger, Rivers and maybe even Gallery. But I still look for the Chargers to trade out of this spot. Manning is still the top choice in this draft.
2. OAKLAND -- ROBERT GALLERY, LT. It might not be Oakland but it sure looks like Gallery in the second spot. The guy should be a 10-year starter from Day 1, and that makes him a very smart and safe pick. Washington and Cleveland are not the only teams that want Gallery. I expect another team to make a late push for the spot.
3. ARIZONA -- LARRY FITZGERALD, WR. The Cardinals have lots of needs but Dennis Green will utilize the three-receiver package with Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson, which will make them very dangerous. The Cards could move down a few spots and still get a great receiver. There is talk out of Oakland they will take a wide receiver at No. 2. I don't believe that will happen but if it did, Arizona would have lots of phone calls for Gallery.
4. N.Y. GIANTS -- BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB. If I were the Giants, I would stay right here and take Big Ben. I would still have my second-round pick to use for a left tackle, Roethlisberger would cost a few million less than Manning and I would be able to keep Kerry Collins around for another year until Ben was ready.
5. WASHINGTON -- KELLEN WINSLOW, TE. The Redskins have more serious needs on the defensive line and they have very few draft picks. With players like Vince Wilfork, Sean Taylor and Tommie Harris still available, I would drop down a few spots and at least pick up a third-round pick. But if they stay here they will not make a bad selection.
6. DETROIT -- STEVEN JACKSON, RB. There are plenty of people who think it's too early to take Jackson but not many of them have been starved for a quality running back as long as Detroit. Moving down a few spots makes some sense but I wouldn't go down too far with New England sitting in the first round with two picks and a need at running back. Jackson could touch the ball 30 times a game, and there aren't many players in this draft you can say that about.
7. CLEVELAND -- DEANGELO HALL, CB. Let's say the Browns don't move up for Gallery, Kellen Winslow is gone and they can't get someone to move down with, then Hall is a great fit. Cornerback is their second need in this draft. Hall is the top corner and an excellent return man. He can replace Dennis Northcutt as the returner and instantly make the secondary better.
8. ATLANTA -- MIKE WILLIAMS, WR. There should be serious conversations about moving down in this draft for every team interested in a wide receiver. I could make a case for Sean Taylor at this spot for Atlanta but Rich McKay has known Mike Williams for a very long time, and the idea of Michael Vick dropping back with Peerless Price and Williams running down the field is too tempting.
9. JACKSONVILLE -- ROY WILLIAMS, WR. Apparently the Jaguars have talked about putting a package together to go up for Larry Fitzgerald. Why? Roy Williams or any other receiver named Williams will be a tremendous addition. The other possible choice here is DE Kenechi Udeze.
10. HOUSTON -- SEAN TAYLOR. Hard to believe Taylor could last this long, but it is possible because he is a safety. GM Charley Casserly knows there are teams interested in his spot for a shot at QB Philip Rivers and will entertain all trade talks. He has pulled the trigger to move many times in the past and could move down three spots and still get a top need met.
11. PITTSBURGH -- PHILIP RIVERS, QB. The Steelers might have to swap spots with the Texans when Houston is on the clock to make sure they get Rivers. Maddox can stay for one more year like Kitna did in Cincinnati. If they decide to roll the dice instead and miss, then CB Dunta Robinson is still on the board.
12. N.Y. JETS -- D.J. WILLIAMS, LB. This is a lean year for outside linebackers. Williams made a good impression when he visited the Jets. His teammate, Jonathan Vilma, is a candidate for this spot, as is CB Robinson. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Jets try and move down a few spots.
13. BUFFALO -- KENECHI UDEZE, DE. I do think the Bills will try and get QB Rivers, but if the price is too high and they think they can get a quality receiver in the second round, then Kenechi is a great value at this point and answers a long-standing problem with rushing the passer.
14. CHICAGO -- VINCE WILFORK, DT. Here's a team that didn't have to move at all to get a tremendous player at their No. 1 need. Wilfork has slipped past Tommie Harris in the opinion of a number of defensive coaches' minds. Also keep in mind Lovie Smith knows better than anyone how important it is to have a Warren Sapp-type tackle in his defensive package. Vince's nickname is "Little Sapp."
15. TAMPA BAY -- WILL SMITH, DE. The Bucs would have liked Mike Williams or Roy Williams to fall to them. They need a tall linebacker like Karlos Dansby and they might move down in an attempt to pick up an extra first-day pick. They lost their second-round pick in the Gruden deal. If they stay, Smith will replace Greg Spires and start from Day 1. With Rice getting double-teamed and McFarland being disruptive inside, Smith could have a big rookie year.
16. SAN FRANCISCO -- REGGIE WILLIAMS, WR. The 49ers have lost Terrell Owens and Tai Streets and must get help at WR early in this draft. Dennis Erickson has watched Reggie Williams for his whole college career.
17. DENVER -- TOMMIE HARRIS, DT. Denver moved up in a trade with Cincinnati and might want to move up again but RB Jackson is already gone. Staying put and taking a very athletic defensive tackle is a good idea. They have signed some older veteran defensive linemen, but Harris can help long term. OLB Dansby would be a nice fit but Harris is too good to pass up.
18. NEW ORLEANS -- JONATHAN VILMA, LB. If CB Robinson is still on the board there would be some very serious discussions. MLB and CB are the Saints' top two needs. Saints head coach Jim Haslett is a former NFL linebacker and knows he needs Vilma.
19. MINNESOTA -- VERNON CAREY, OG. The Vikings would like to take a defensive end here but the best two are gone. Carey will help for a long time. Don't forget: Mike Tice is a former line coach. The Vikings are money conscious and might try to move down from this spot to save some money.
20. MIAMI -- SHAWN ANDREWS, OT. I haven't come off this pick from my first mock draft but I have heard grumbling about Andrews as a first-round pick from a number of coaches and personnel people. Offensive line is the Dolphins' biggest need. Miami can probably move down and still get Andrews. The question is: Does anyone want to move up to this spot? The answer might be a team that wants to jump ahead of New England and Dallas to grab a running back. Or maybe it's Dallas to just get ahead of the Pats.
Marcus Tubbs, right, is one of three prospects who have barreled into this updated mock draft.
21. NEW ENGLAND -- MARCUS TUBBS, DT. The Pats have two picks in this round. Even though they signed Keith Traylor to replace Ted Washington at nose tackle, Tubbs gives them a 6-4, 320-pound guy who can run a 40 in 5.05 and lets them go from a 3-4 to a 4-3 anytime they want to. Tubbs has moved ahead of Harris on some draft boards at DT.
22. DALLAS -- KEVIN JONES, RB. Dallas was correct to sit and wait for a running back. The Cowboys will get their choice here, and Kevin Jones can do many of the things Curtis Martin did for Parcells when he was playing for the Patriots and Jets. The Cowboys could look long and hard here at OG Justin Smiley, who would be a great replacement for Larry Allen and is Parcells' kind of player.
23. SEATTLE -- RANDY STARKS, DT. Seattle needs a defensive tackle in the worst way. There might be some discussion about Donnell Washington but Starks should win the battle in the war room.
24. CINCINNATI -- DUNTA ROBINSON, CB. The Bengals did a pre-draft deal and acquired Deltha O'Neil and a fourth-round pick to move from 17 to 24. They might still get a chance for a quality corner like Robinson if the Jets pass. If not, they will grab Chris Gamble, which will make the "Gamble" of moving down worth it.
25. GREEN BAY -- MICHAEL CLAYTON, WR. My first mock draft had QB Philip Rivers headed to Green Bay, but he's long gone now. From what I hear, the Packers are not crazy about J.P. Losman. Clayton or Lee Evans is a good value pick at this point. Their biggest need is defensive end, and they might want to move down for someone like DE Antwan Odom.
26. ST. LOUIS -- CHRIS GAMBLE, CB. Will Poole ran better at his April 16 workout and weighed nine pounds more than he did a month ago. His 40 time ranged from 4.53 to 4.61, according to scouts at the workout. There will be a case made for Poole. The Rams would rather not reach for Poole or DE Odom at this point. With a week to go, things could change for Gamble and Poole.
27. TENNESSEE -- DARNELL DOCKETT, DT. The Titans lost two starting defensive linemen in free agency and must replace them. Talk of them moving up in the draft might be unrealistic with their salary-cap woes. Dockett is a start at repairing their personnel issues.
28. PHILADELPHIA -- JUSTIN SMILEY, OG/OT. The Eagles could consider an OLB like Dansby, who could line up over the tight end. CB Derrick Strait is another possibility, but in the end Smiley is a good choice for this team. He is considered the second-best offensive lineman by many teams.
29. INDIANAPOLIS -- KARLOS DANSBY, LB. The Colts could consider CBs Strait or Ahmed Carroll here, or look to help the defensive line. But Dansby would be the highest-rated player on their board and would be a great replacement for Marcus Washington.
30. KANSAS CITY -- LEE EVANS, WR. The Chiefs would have preferred WR Clayton at this spot but he's gone. Evans is the next-best receiver on the board, and he can really run. There could be some sentiment for a corner here, but that will have to wait. Unfortunately, by the time they pick late in the second round there might be little left to pick from.
31. CAROLINA -- BEN TROUPE, TE. The Panthers need secondary help. Carroll and Strait are still on the board, but Troupe is too good to resist if he's still on the board. In the second round, the Panthers will have to move up to get a quality corner to replace Reggie Howard, who was lost in free agency.
32. NEW ENGLAND -- CHRIS PERRY, RB. The Patriots were wise to wait until their second first-round pick for a running back. Now they can choose between Perry and Greg Jones. They will answer their offensive line issues with their two second-round picks.
Others who will get first-round consideration are C Jake Grove, OG Chris Snee, RB Greg Jones, CB Ahmed Carroll, DE Jason Babin, CB Derrick Strait, QB J.P. Losman, DE Antwan Odom, CB Will Poole.
For a link to this mock, click here: Kirwan Mock 4/17/04