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04-20-2009, 01:43 PM


NFL Mock Draft for the Ages
By Thomas Neumann
ESPN.com's Page 2

Updated: April 20, 2009

So many different spins have been put on the NFL draft. Who were the biggest busts? Who were the most memorable steals? What were the greatest drafts by team? What was the best draft class? Which positions pay the most dividends? Etc.

In short, it's difficult to break new ground in discussion of the draft, which has mushroomed into one of the biggest preoccupations of the entire sports calendar for fans. Nevertheless, we reach deep into our imaginations to come up with a fresh, delightfully preposterous spin:

What if we could hop in a time machine and bring back all the best prospects in history for this year's draft? Of course, professional accomplishments don't count. This exercise is based strictly on the scouting reports at the conclusion of college careers. Our big board is an amalgam of only the most ballyhooed prospects. With a few exceptions, these are players who were drafted in the top five overall. Players such as Joe Montana and Tom Brady, who were seen as too physically limited by many evaluators, need not apply.

So suspend your disbelief, and let's get this party started … based on this year's draft order and team needs.

1. Lions: John Elway, QB, Stanford

Team needs: quarterback, offensive line

In hopes of landing Detroit's first franchise quarterback since Bobby Layne more than 50 years ago, the Lions reach for arguably the best college prospect ever with the opening selection. Elway boasts a truly extraordinary combination of arm strength, accuracy and mobility. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder passed for 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns, completing 62.1 percent of his attempts. Too bad he didn't play on special teams. Wait … this just in: Elway's representatives are saying the Stanford star, who played two seasons of college baseball, refuses to play for Detroit and demands his rights be traded. Meantime, he reportedly is negotiating a 10-year deal with the New York Yankees and is willing to pursue a baseball career if the Lions don't comply. Stay tuned.

NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert: Luckily, Detroit grabbed the Stanford quarterback before the Colts had a chance. Surely, Elway will have no problem playing for a Lions team that just missed winning (all) 16 games last season.

2. Rams: Orlando Pace, OT, Ohio State

Team needs: offensive tackle, linebacker, wide receiver

In need of a left tackle to replace recently released Orlando Pace, the Rams select … Orlando Pace, the 6-foot-7, 334-pound Ohio State standout who popularized the term "pancake" in the football lexicon. Pace won the Outland Trophy as a junior and is the only two-time winner of the Vince Lombardi Award. He didn't allow a sack in his final two seasons with the Buckeyes, and he was a unanimous All-America selection both years. Said Ohio State strength and conditioning coach Dave Kennedy: "I've never seen anyone like Orlando. The way he runs the 40, especially for a man his size. Let me put it this way: He could fit in well with the tight ends. … He's agile enough to be a defensive lineman." Indeed. Pace has been timed at 4.85 in the 40-yard dash, same as the Heisman winner from his final college season, Danny Wuerffel.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando: The Rams wanted a physical presence for their offensive line. Although Tony Mandarich appealed to unnamed members within the organization, general manager Billy Devaney ultimately couldn't resist Pace's stunning athleticism.

3. Chiefs: Bubba Smith, DE, Michigan State

Team needs: defensive line, offensive tackle

At 6-foot-8, 280 pounds, Smith fills a significant need and provides an intimidating complement to Glenn Dorsey. Smith was routinely double- and triple-teamed by opponents in college, and he anchored a Spartans defense that ranked No. 1 nationally against the run in 1965. Most impressive is that he's the only guy we know of who grabbed the whole backfield, then threw guys out until he found the one with the ball. Further, Smith's presence as an authority figure can't hurt in the locker room.

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson: This pick is a brilliant start to the Scott Pioli era in Kansas City. The Chiefs were the most faceless, least intimidating defense in the NFL last season. Bubba changes that in a hurry.

4. Seahawks: O.J. Simpson, RB, USC

Team needs: offensive tackle, cornerback, running back

Simpson boasts an extremely rare combination of power, agility and speed, even if he doesn't have 307 cubic inches of standard V-8 engine. After scoring 54 touchdowns in two seasons at City College of San Francisco, he rushed for 3,187 yards and scored 34 touchdowns in two seasons at USC. "He's not only a wonderful football player, but he's a wonderful young man," said former USC president Norman Topping. Ultimately, Seattle opts to select Simpson instead of entertaining overtures from the Broncos to trade the pick.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando: General manager Tim Ruskell has built his reputation in Seattle by drawing a hard line against high-risk prospects who have demonstrated a pattern of nefarious off-field behavior. The 21-year-old Simpson checks out favorably on all fronts after his former USC teammate and Bay Area prep rival, Mike Holmgren, offers a glowing recommendation.

5. Browns: Lee Roy Selmon, DL, Oklahoma

Team needs: defensive end, linebacker, defensive back

Cleveland identifies arguably the most promising defensive line prospect ever. In addition to the skills that garnered him the Outland Trophy and Vince Lombardi Award in 1975, Selmon is an academic All-American with tremendous leadership qualities. He was considered such a sure thing coming out of college that the Steelers supposedly were willing to trade all 21 of their 1976 draft picks for his rights. The only question is what the Browns should serve at Selmon's introductory news conference.

AFC North blogger James Walker: The Browns made the first surprise pick of the draft in taking Selmon. Cleveland primarily needed linebacker help for its 3-4 defense. Many draft experts felt hybrid defender Lawrence Taylor would be a better fit to help the Browns' atrocious pass rush, but time will tell.

6. Bengals: Tony Mandarich, OT, Michigan State

Team needs: defensive end, offensive tackle, linebacker

Many pundits consider Mandarich to be the most promising offensive lineman ever produced by the collegiate ranks. His massive build, Herculean strength and ability to pound opponents into submission make him an appealing choice for a team with a relatively stationary quarterback. He was named to the All-Madden team while still at Michigan State. Skeptics insist Mandarich's abilities -- the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder benches nearly 550 pounds and runs a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash -- are enhanced by steroids. Still, he never failed a drug test in college. Come on, does this look like someone who isn't doing it naturally?

AFC North blogger James Walker: The Bengals, who traditionally do not scout well, have emphatically deemed offensive tackle Mandarich a "can't-miss prospect." Cincinnati franchise quarterback Carson Palmer has had two season-ending injuries (knee, elbow) the past four seasons and desperately needs Mandarich to prolong his career. The Bengals are banking on it.

7. Raiders: Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn

Team needs: wide receiver, offensive tackle, center

Oakland already has multitalented tailback Darren McFadden in the fold, but general partner Al Davis apparently is smitten with the idea of teaming Jackson and McFadden in the same backfield. Jackson's athletic versatility is second to none. He's a two-time Alabama prep decathlon champion who also starred in baseball at Auburn. We also should mention that 6-foot-1, 227-pound Jackson ran a 4.12 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Seriously. Jackson rushed for 4,303 yards and 43 touchdowns at Auburn, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He also receives high marks from scouts for vision, instincts and cutting ability. Said former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt: "He will be an immediate star in this league."

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson: Jackson will find a crowded backfield in Oakland. The Raiders don't know what to do with the running backs they already have. But Bo is a perfect Raiders back.

8. Jaguars: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech

Team needs: cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle

The Jaguars get arguably the most physically gifted wide receiver in college history by reaching for Georgia Tech's career leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Check out these measurables: 4.35 seconds in the 40, 42½-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot, 7-inch standing broad jump. This pick should give Jacksonville the elusive star receiver the team has sought by using first-round picks on R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones since 2000. Johnson admitted in pre-draft interviews with teams that he has smoked marijuana, but he passed drug screening at the NFL combine.

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky: Jacksonville believes it will end a long, bad stretch of receiver selections with big, athletic Johnson, who is viewed as a can't-miss talent coming out of Georgia Tech, where he averaged 16.4 yards a catch and scored 28 touchdowns in three seasons. The biggest other temptation was cornerback Charles Woodson.

9. Packers: Lawrence Taylor, DE/LB, North Carolina

Team needs: defensive end, linebacker, offensive tackle

Taylor is the prototype for a speed-rushing outside linebacker, a 6-foot-3, 242-pound package of quickness, power, footwork and aggression. Taylor had 16 sacks in 12 games as a senior and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds.

A sampling of observations on Taylor:

''As good as any I've seen. He may even have an 'S' emblazoned on his chest.''
-- Mike Hickey, former director of player personnel for the Jets

"As a freshman playing on special teams, he'd jump a good six or seven feet in the air to block a punt, then land on the back of his neck."
-- former Tar Heels assistant coach Bobby Cale

"Taylor is a horse, a real horse. He's big and strong and fast and he goes all out on every play. How can you ask for more?" -- longtime NFL general manager Bobby Beathard

Taylor could command a steep salary, however, and agent Mike Trope describes the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who hold Taylor's CFL rights, as a "viable alternative" to the NFL. Stay tuned.

NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert: Can you think of a better playmaker for a 3-4 defense? Green Bay might not offer the night life of, say, New York. But it sure beats a night spent "Dancing With the Stars."

10. 49ers: Troy Aikman, QB, UCLA

Team needs: offensive tackle, wide receiver, quarterback

Aikman possesses a strong arm, intelligence, ability to throw effectively on the run, confidence under pressure and sub-4.7 speed. The knock on him is that he started only two seasons in college, and that was in a Bruins offense that didn't necessarily develop his NFL skill set. "Aikman played [only] two [seasons], and in an offense that wasn't pro-style," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. "But he's got all the physical tools, and he's a bright kid. In time, he'll be able to master the position, but it's going to take him a while." Aikman threw for 5,298 yards with 41 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions at UCLA. He completed 64.8 percent of his passes and led the Bruins to a 20-4 record. He might not want to wear his political leanings on his sleeve in San Francisco, however.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando: Coach Mike Singletary, eager to fill the Ted linebacker spot next to Patrick Willis, made a strong case for drafting himself. In the end, team president Jed York and general manager Scot McCloughan made a stronger case for selecting the most complete college passer in recent memory.

11. Bills: Bruce Smith, DL, Virginia Tech

Team needs: defensive end, offensive line, linebacker

Smith offers a tremendous combination of speed, strength and dexterity. He played up and down the defensive line at Virginia Tech to confuse opponents, and he projects as a dominant defensive end. He set a Virginia Tech record with 22 sacks as a junior and was the Outland Trophy winner as a senior. Smith ended his collegiate career with 46 sacks. Buffalo's selection of Smith likely will mean bad things for AFC East foes as he applies pressure from the edge.

AFC East blogger Tim Graham: The Bills hoped to land one of the defensive end Smiths and came away with Bruce Smith, who left Virginia Tech with 71 tackles for losses. Either Bruce or Bubba Smith would have filled a glaring need for a team that has struggled to mount any semblance of a pass rush in recent years.

12. Broncos: Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia

Team needs: defensive end, linebacker

It seems as if the Broncos, who used seven tailbacks in 2008 because of injuries, can never have enough backfield depth. So although they need help on defense, it's difficult to pass on Walker, who rushed for 5,259 yards and scored 52 touchdowns in just three seasons at Georgia. He was a consensus All-America selection each season, won a national championship as a freshman in 1980, and was a two-time All-American in track and field. Walker maintains an unorthodox training regimen, preferring a daily regimen of thousands of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and dips to lifting weights. He also makes a great first impression.

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson: The Broncos have missed that special tailback since Terrell Davis was injured nearly a decade ago. Walker, another Georgia product, will be the next great tailback in Denver.

13. Redskins: Aundray Bruce, LB, Auburn

Team needs: offensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker

Washington can't resist the size and quickness of the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder, who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. While at Auburn, Bruce showed the ability to take over games but sometimes lacked the motivation NFL teams usually expect from a franchise cornerstone. "We never knew which Aundray would show up," Auburn teammate Kurt Crain told Sports Illustrated. "That's his one drawback. I often had to tell him during games, 'C'mon, we need you.'" Nevertheless, the Redskins seem convinced a taskmaster such as Jim Zorn can light a fire under Bruce.

NFC East blogger Matt Mosley: Owner Dan Snyder and exec Vinny Cerrato offered all four of their picks to trade up for Tony Mandarich, but the Bengals want to build around the Michigan State phenom. The Redskins are settling for Bruce because they envision him doubling as a tight end by his fourth year.

14. Saints: Charles Woodson, CB, Michigan

Team needs: defensive back, linebacker, defensive tackle

The selection of Woodson, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder with 4.43 speed, will bolster a vulnerable defensive backfield and could create a dangerous special teams tandem with Reggie Bush. Woodson provides blanket coverage and seems to make his biggest impact in significant games. He recorded eight interceptions and scored four touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving, one punt return) as a junior. Woodson was a starter for all but two games of his three seasons at Michigan and has the ability to make plays others would look silly attempting.

NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas: The Saints spent the free-agency period quietly overhauling their defense. Now, they have a marquee name to top it off. Woodson is a defensive player with a Heisman Trophy. New coordinator Gregg Williams can build around him. Heck, with Woodson's return skills, Bush could be sent packing.

15. Texans: Earl Campbell, RB, Texas

Team needs: safety, defensive tackle, running back

Running back isn't an urgent need for the Texans, but how can they pass on a homegrown human wrecking ball who commands total attention from opposing defenses? Campbell doesn't possess blinding speed -- he runs a 4.6 in the 40 -- but his 5-foot-11, 244-pound build and 36-inch thighs allow him to plow over opponents. He will provide a bullish counterpart to the elusive Steve Slaton. Campbell rushed for 4,443 yards and 40 touchdowns at Texas. Said Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer: "Earl Campbell is the greatest player that ever suited up. He's the greatest football player I've ever seen. Billy Sims is human. Campbell isn't."

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky: Despite all their defensive needs, this amounts to a no-brainer -- a Texas Longhorn transforming into a Houston Texan. With Campbell's power and Slaton's speed, Houston could have an all-time backfield. It wasn't hard to pass on Dan Wilkinson, Russell Maryland and Buck Buchanan. There was no safety on the big board to consider, and the linebacker talent will be good enough later.

16. Chargers: Jim Thorpe, RB/DB, Carlisle

Team needs: offensive line, safety, running back

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith has a knack for drafting gifted athletes other teams have passed on, such as Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie. Thorpe will fortify San Diego's defensive backfield and provide depth at tailback alongside LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. He also can kick and punt if needed. Thorpe possesses arguably the most inherent talent of any player in this draft. He famously won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon, then followed up those feats by scoring 25 touchdowns his final season at Carlisle. How did the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder slip this far? Other clubs believe agent Drew Rosenhaus when he says his client is willing to play baseball full time if the NFL doesn't present a rich enough offer.

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson: A perfect eventual replacement for Tomlinson: Jim Thorpe, All-American. The Chargers' Super Bowl window is far from closed with this addition.

17. Jets: Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech

Team needs: quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end

No doubt this is a risky pick, considering Peyton Manning and Terry Bradshaw are still on the board. On one hand, Vick offers a tantalizing combination of athleticism -- a 4.33 time in the 40 and a 40½-inch vertical leap -- and upside. It's not unreasonable to project him as the greatest running quarterback in NFL history. However, his inexperience is a significant question mark. He played only two seasons after redshirting his first year at Virginia Tech, and the 6-foot, 214-pound lefty completed only 56.3 of his passes. "I think if he was 6-3 or 6-4, people would be saying he's the next John Elway," former NFL general manager Randy Mueller told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He has great poise in the pocket, especially when things break down. There's no panic." Regardless, once the Jets saw this workout footage, their minds were made up.

AFC East blogger Tim Graham: Everybody wondered who would take the chance on the wildly talented Virginia Tech star. Now the Jets have to figure out what to do with him. With classic pocket passers such as Bradshaw and Manning available, the Jets went with a scrambler who will make offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer scrap his playbook.

18. Broncos: John Matuszak, DE, Tampa

Team needs: defensive end, linebacker

Some pundits question Matuszak's character, but his 6-foot-9, 280-pound frame is more than enough to make many talent evaluators overlook the red flags. He was kicked off the team at Missouri after beating up a serviceman at a fraternity party as a sophomore. Later, he punched a Tampa teammate during a pickup basketball game, crushing his cheekbone and eye socket. He also was arrested for possession of marijuana while at Tampa. Under coach Earle Bruce, Matuszak and quarterback Freddie Solomon led Tampa to its best season, 10-2 with a Tangerine Bowl victory, in 1972. The Broncos might be wise to keep him out of LoDo, however, where he might be tempted to party like a rock Starr.

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson: Where's the party? Apparently, it's in Denver. The Broncos parlay the Jay Cutler trade into getting Matuszak. One of the great all-time gridiron party animals now is in charge of reinventing the "Orange Crush" defense.

19. Buccaneers: Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee

Team needs: quarterback, defensive line, wide receiver

Manning has the pedigree and intelligence to virtually guarantee he can succeed in the NFL. Yet some scouts openly wonder whether he's much closer to his ceiling than some of the other quarterbacks available. Nevertheless, there's much to be said for his level of maturity. He's an academic All-American who graduated with a 3.61 GPA. Manning's arm strength has been nitpicked by some, but that criticism is unfounded. While the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder will never be called elusive, his 4.9 speed should be enough to keep him out of trouble. Manning might be considered a safe pick by some, but at least you know he will never embarrass the franchise.

NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas: In his first season, coach Raheem Morris has the chance to get the franchise quarterback Jon Gruden never could. Manning sure has the résumé coming out of Tennessee. But you have to worry about why he fell all the way to No. 19. Maybe the Bucs got a sleeper, or maybe he's destined to badly misfire … until he puts on another uniform -- like Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer.

20. Lions: Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State

Team needs: offensive line

Offensive line is the listed need, but Detroit has a bit of a history of deviating from conventional wisdom. This pick was acquired from Dallas in the Roy Williams trade, so why not consider reaching for a wideout to replace him -- especially a Michigan native. While he's closer to 6-foot-2 than the 6-4 he was listed at in college, the 205-pound Rogers has enough speed -- 4.4 in the 40 -- to make plays. However, concentration and work ethic aren't strong points. He passed Kirk Gibson as Michigan State's career leader in touchdown catches in 2002, finishing with 27. The previous season, Rogers shared Spartans MVP honors with the timekeeper.

NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert: The Lions go for the sure thing. Yes, they need an offensive lineman, but the big guys are so hard to project. Detroit is where receivers go to flourish.

21. Eagles: Red Grange, RB, Illinois

Team needs: offensive tackle, running back, wide receiver

The "Galloping Ghost" is undersized at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, but his gridiron instincts are unmistakable. His speed and agility are apparent on film, and he has the ability to turn broken plays into big gains. He also punted for the Illini. Grange's stock began to soar in a legendary performance against Michigan as a junior. After returning the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, he scored on rushes of 67, 56 and 44 yards in the first quarter, personally equaling the number of touchdowns the Wolverines had allowed the two previous seasons. He finished with 212 rushing yards on 21 carries and added a passing touchdown and a fourth rushing touchdown. Grange rushed for 31 touchdowns and threw for six more in 20 career games for the Illini.

NFC East blogger Matt Mosley: Grange pops off the screen with his cutback ability and vision, but the grainy footage is often misleading, despite the Ted Turner colorization process. Unbelievable numbers, but concussion concerns due to leather helmet.

22. Vikings: Terry Bradshaw, QB, Louisiana Tech

Team needs: quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver

Bradshaw is a hard-nosed, 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, and scouts rave about his arm strength, mobility, poise and competitive mindset. He has faced scrutiny for not playing against elite opposition, but his stock soared after his MVP performance in the Senior Bowl. Bradshaw led NCAA Division II with 2,890 yards of total offense as a junior in 1968. He threw 42 touchdown passes at Louisiana Tech despite not becoming a full-time starter until his junior season. Bradshaw's Southern upbringing and respectful demeanor seem to greatly reduce the possibility of his taking unnecessary risks off the field.

NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert: Finally, the Vikings address their pressing need for a backup to rising star Tarvaris Jackson. Bradshaw isn't fancy and doesn't project as a starter, but he should prove to be a competent short-term replacement should Jackson suffer an injury.

23. Patriots: Bronko Nagurski, DT/OT/RB, Minnesota

Team needs: linebacker, defensive back, offensive tackle

Extremely tough and versatile, Nagurski is a prototypical Bill Belichick player. He played tackle on both sides of the ball and fullback in college, but the 6-foot-2, 226-pounder projects as a linebacker in the NFL. Nagurski's offensive skill also bodes well for him as an eligible-receiver replacement for the traded Mike Vrabel in goal-line situations. A throwback such as Nagurski probably serves as his own agent, too, which could bode well for the Pats in contract negotiations. How valuable was Nagurski as a college player? He led Minnesota to a Big Ten title … although he never won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top defensive player.

AFC East blogger Tim Graham: The Patriots made a head-scratcher of a move by drafting Nagurski, a versatile athlete who excelled as an offensive tackle at Minnesota but might project best as a fullback. The Patriots could use him at linebacker, but they passed on Dick Butkus. If they wanted an offensive tackle, they could've taken Anthony Muñoz.

24. Falcons: Ed "Too Tall" Jones, DE, Tennessee State

Team needs: defensive tackle, linebacker, offensive tackle

Jones doesn't strictly fit the Falcons' need for a defensive tackle, but how do you pass up the opportunity to select a 6-foot-9 pass-rusher with an 88-inch wingspan? Perhaps Jamaal Anderson could move inside, or Jones could play tackle. Either way, you don't leave this guy on the board. Although Jones played at a small college and is somewhat underweight for a man his size, his upside is downright tantalizing to scouts. Jones anchored the defense of the 1973 black college national champions, and his voice commands respect in the locker room. Take a listen.

NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas: Atlanta coach Mike Smith was stunned when Jones fell to No. 24, saying, "He was the No. 1 player on our board." This one's a gift for the Falcons, who drafted quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008. But you have to wonder whether Jones, who played against some suspect competition with Tennessee State, will be able to immediately work his way into the lineup ahead of Anderson.

25. Dolphins: Chuck Bednarik, LB/C, Penn

Team needs: wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker

"Concrete Charlie" perfectly fits the mold of a Bill Parcells player. He's older and more mature than most draft-eligible players, having already served in the Air Force. After flying 30 wartime combat missions, we suspect he will be able to handle the pressures of pro football. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Bednarik is a durable and devastating tackler. Penn went 24-7-1 in his four seasons there and was ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation during his junior year. However, the Dolphins' strength and conditioning coach might want to have a word or two with Bednarik when he arrives in Miami.

AFC East blogger Tim Graham: Dolphins football operations boss Parcells has been googly-eyed since he noticed the two-way roughneck might fall to him with the 25th pick. Bednarik is a decorated World War II aerial gunner with a Penn education. The Dolphins needed a center to anchor their line and a hard-hitting inside linebacker. With one pick, they filled both needs.

26. Ravens: Dick Butkus, LB, Illinois

Team needs: wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker

Can you imagine Butkus playing alongside Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs? "Dick was so strong and agile and possessed great quickness," said Pete Elliott, who coached Butkus at Illinois. "His biggest attributes, however, were his instincts and his desire. … He is the finest football player I have ever coached." Butkus made 374 tackles in 26 career college games and was a two-time consensus pick as a first-team All-American. In his junior season, he made 145 tackles and forced 10 fumbles as the Illini (8-1-1) captured the Big Ten title and won the Rose Bowl. Butkus also played center at Illinois. To be on the safe side, the Ravens might want to insist on contract language to keep Butkus from playing water polo.

AFC North blogger James Walker: The Ravens have bigger needs (wide receiver), but grabbing a tremendous value pick in linebacker Butkus was too good to pass up. With the loss of Bart Scott in free agency, Butkus should fit in extremely well next to future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who will teach the rookie how to play the position in hopes that Butkus carries on the strong linebacker tradition in Baltimore.

27. Colts: Barry Sanders, RB, Oklahoma State

Team needs: defensive tackle, wide receiver, running back

Sanders boasts the sort of eye-popping measurables scouts crave: 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 41½-inch vertical leap and 10 feet, 11 inches in the standing broad jump. As a junior, he rushed for a Division I-A record 2,628 yards, produced 3,249 all-purpose yards and scored 39 touchdowns. The downside is Sanders' slight build (5-foot-8, 195 pounds) and relative inexperience (he started only as a junior after backing up Thurman Thomas for two seasons). However, good luck getting a square hit on him. Sanders is one of the most elusive and agile tailbacks ever to grace the ranks of college football.

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky: Their needs at wide receiver, linebacker and defensive tackle might have been bigger, but the only real temptation at any of those spots was Irving Fryar. Sanders is a major upgrade over Joseph Addai and helps the Colts balance their offense. Sanders won't be dangerous only on handoffs. He can also be a quality target on short stuff.

28. Bills: Anthony Muñoz, OT, USC

Team needs: offensive line, linebacker

The Bills received this pick in the Jason Peters trade and immediately move to replace the two-time Pro Bowl left tackle. In spite of injury concerns about Muñoz, Buffalo takes the 6-foot-6, 292-pounder who runs a 5.0 in the 40. He's as fundamentally sound as any offensive line prospect ever, but he has undergone three major surgeries in four years to repair torn ligaments in both knees -- raising major questions about his durability. He played just one injury-free season at USC, as a sophomore, and just one game in its entirety his senior year. Still, his quickness, strength and technique are so impressive many scouts are calling Muñoz a can't-miss prospect. "He's potentially the most outstanding offensive lineman I ever saw anywhere," said former USC coach John Robinson. Agent Mike Trope, who also represents Lawrence Taylor, has threatened to steer Munñoz to a pitching career in baseball if contract negotiations aren't to their liking.

AFC East blogger Tim Graham: A few years ago, the Bills drafted Willis McGahee 23rd overall even though he was coming off reconstructive knee surgery. They made another risky pick this year, passing up Alabama quarterback Joe Namath to select Munñoz.

29. Giants: Don Hutson, WR, Alabama

Team needs: wide receiver, linebacker

After cutting ties with troubled wideout Plaxico Burress, the Giants waste no time in reaching for another No. 1 receiver. Hutson is a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder with a legendary work ethic. He has above-average speed and perhaps the best hands of any receiving prospect. He's also elusive, with a gift for shifting speeds. Although his 40 time is unavailable, the former track star has been clocked at 9.8 seconds over 100 yards -- and isn't that a more indicative football distance, anyway? Hutson arrived at Alabama on a partial baseball scholarship and went out for the football team as a walk-on. Two All-America selections later, the "Alabama Antelope" capped his collegiate career by catching two long touchdown passes in a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford, as the Crimson Tide finished the 1934 season 10-0. Hutson has experience in the business world and might opt to represent himself in contract negotiations. He operated a campus dry-cleaning service with Alabama teammate Paul "Bear" Bryant.

NFC East blogger Matt Mosley: With Burress in the rearview mirror, the Giants go with the best receiver on the board. General manager Jerry Reese praised Hutson for the way he complemented the Crimson Tide's other wideout, Bryant.

30. Titans: Steve Emtman, DT, Washington

Team needs: wide receiver, quarterback, defensive tackle

Tennessee tabs a 6-foot-4, 290-pound weightlifting disciple who was the defensive cornerstone of Washington's 1991 national championship team. Behind Emtman, a physical, intense run-stuffer, the Huskies allowed a mere 9.2 points and 67.1 rushing yards per game that season. Although not an outstanding pass-rusher, he is a dominant inside presence with an exemplary work ethic who occupies multiple blockers and frees up teammates to make plays. Emtman was a consensus first-team All-America selection and captured the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as a junior.

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky: Emtman, who left college a year early, anchored a tremendous defense at Washington. The Titans believe they can play him inside or out and get excellent pass-rushing and run-stuffing. But Tennessee's line is still a very good unit despite losing Albert Haynesworth. The Titans would have been better served drafting their quarterback of the future (Carson Palmer) or a big-play wide receiver (Irving Fryar).

31. Cardinals: Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU

Team needs: running back, linebacker, offensive line

Dickerson is a hybrid in the best sense of the word. At 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, scouts like that he has the strength of a fullback. Yet he boasts halfback speed -- 4.45 in the 40. He's a refined runner with an upright style and an uncanny ability to shed tacklers. Dickerson ran roughshod over Southwest Conference opponents for SMU, which outbid Texas A&M for his services successfully recruited him with the promise of excellent academic opportunities. He broke Earl Campbell's SWC career rushing mark with 4,450 yards in just three seasons and while sharing carries with Pony Express backfield mate Craig James. We just hope Dickerson complies with NFL uniform guidelines. Get the checkbook ready Cardinals, Dickerson has already turned down an offer of more than $1 million from the USFL.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando: Anquan Boldin was still on the board, but team president Michael Bidwill and general manager Rod Graves sense they'll have an easier time negotiating with Dickerson's agent, Leigh Steinberg, than with Boldin's man, Drew Rosenhaus. A chance to arm Kurt Warner with a potential Hall of Fame running back proves irresistible.

32. Steelers: Ron Yary, OT, USC

Team needs: offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback

Obviously, there's no need to start from scratch in the wake of a Super Bowl championship. Nevertheless, the Steelers did allow Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked nine times in a loss to the Eagles last season. Considering the investment Pittsburgh has made in its quarterback, adding a franchise tackle makes perfect sense. As a sophomore, Yary was the Pac-8 defensive lineman of the year. Moving to offensive tackle as a junior, he received consensus All-America honors. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder was a unanimous All-America selection and Outland Trophy winner as a senior, opening lanes for O.J. Simpson.

AFC North blogger James Walker: The defending champions got lucky with this pick. The Steelers were able to fill their biggest need and take the best player on their board in Yary. Pittsburgh already announced Yary will be roommates in training camp with fellow USC alum Troy Polamalu, who will share college stories and teach Yary the "Steeler way."

Teams without a first-round pick

49. Bears: Keyshawn Johnson, WR, USC

Team needs: wide receiver, safety, offensive tackle

The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder isn't a flat-out burner -- he runs a 4.47 to a 4.55 in the 40, depending on whom you believe -- but he does have legitimate playmaking ability and terrific hands. Naysayers point to Johnson's ego and its potential to derail a team's focus. He was forced to sit out a season at West Los Angeles College because of attitude problems, although he returned to enjoy an impressive sophomore season and later became close friends with the coach. Conversely, Johnson also has been lauded for his intensity, work ethic and leadership. Johnson caught 168 passes for 2,796 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons at USC. He famously ran out of the stadium and up a hill overlooking the Pacific and paused to enjoy the view after a 91-yard touchdown catch in a junior college game at Santa Barbara.

NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert:Johnson gives new quarterback Jay Cutler the big target he needs. The best thing about Johnson is that he doesn't care whether you throw him the ball or not. He just wants to win.

51. Cowboys: Brian Bosworth, LB, Oklahoma

Team needs: safety, wide receiver, cornerback

The buck stops with Jerry Jones in the Cowboys' draft room, and it appears as if longtime friend Barry Switzer convinced him to select the ballyhooed Sooners star. Bosworth is a 6-foot-1½, 245-pounder who runs a 4.6 in the 40, but his baggage has been well-publicized. Some scouts see him as insubordinate for attempting to maneuver around the draft process into a major media market, and he was suspended from the 1987 Orange Bowl after testing positive for steroids. What few people know is that Bosworth was an academic All-American at Oklahoma, posting a 3.28 GPA in management information. Ultimately, Bosworth is considered a franchise player in spite of his questionable decisions. He should be a solid fit with the Cowboys.

NFC East blogger Matt Mosley: In a locker room that just lost its most compelling player in Terrell Owens, this is a nice fit. Showed tremendous range on the field and in OU's drama program. The rare player who could lead a goal-line stand against Bo Jackson.

59. Panthers: Joe Namath, QB, Alabama

Team needs: defensive line, quarterback, wide receiver

Most pundits agree Namath is an absolute steal at this spot. Some scouts rate him as an absolute sure thing, equal to or even better than John Elway as a quarterback prospect. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Namath has a prototypically powerful arm, but he did suffer a significant knee injury as a senior. Additionally, there are concerns that Namath's personality could adversely affect an entire team. He partied into the wee hours several nights during Senior Bowl week, even as scouts were watching his every move. Namath earned his degree from Alabama in 2007, a mere four decades after his graduating class. Ultimately, though, scouts drool over Namath because he's a winner. He led the Crimson Tide to the 1964 national championship and a 27-4 mark as a starter. Elway, by contrast, was 20-23 as a college starter. Legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant called Namath the greatest athlete he ever coached, yet Bryant suspended Namath for the 1963 regular-season finale and the 1964 Sugar Bowl for missing curfew.

NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas: Carolina coach John Fox has always been against drafting quarterbacks early. But he broke that policy after a conversation with Namath's college coach, Bryant. "Namath is what he is," Bryant told Fox, who instantly was sold. Jake Delhomme is out the door in favor of "Tryon Street Joe."

04-20-2009, 02:17 PM
The greatest players in college history are available and the Bengals still draft Tony Mandarich. That's just too f**king funny.

Now, I know that he was great in college, but, how much do the football Gods have to hate you for an alltime mock draft still come up empty for your team?



04-20-2009, 02:25 PM
WTF? no Johnny Unitas!?!?!

04-20-2009, 02:42 PM
WTF? no Johnny Unitas!?!?!

The author stated: "Of course, professional accomplishments don't count. This exercise is based strictly on the scouting reports at the conclusion of college careers. Our big board is an amalgam of only the most ballyhooed prospects. With a few exceptions, these are players who were drafted in the top five overall. Players such as Joe Montana and Tom Brady, who were seen as too physically limited by many evaluators, need not apply."

Since the Steelers drafted Unitas in the 9th round and then cut him, he fits the Montana and Brady criteria...guys that were not ballyhooed prospects coming out of college but turned themselves into elite players in the NFL.

04-20-2009, 03:31 PM
Hard to argue with a Hall of Fame OT, but I think that a strong argument could be made for Joe Greene.

04-20-2009, 03:44 PM
Hard to argue with a Hall of Fame OT, but I think that a strong argument could be made for Joe Greene.

That draft pick would clinch the move back to the 4-3 after LeBeau retires! :lol: :stirpot

stlrz d
04-20-2009, 06:17 PM
I saw one using only current NFL players and they had us taking Julius Peppers at 1.32. I think it was supposed to be humorous because why would we take a guy (with every player available to us other than the 31 taken ahead of us) who had never played OLB in the 3-4???

Btw, Yary's size makes him more of an H-Back or undersized TE in today's game. :lol:

04-20-2009, 06:47 PM
I saw one using only current NFL players and they had us taking Julius Peppers at 1.32. I think it was supposed to be humorous because why would we take a guy (with every player available to us other than the 31 taken ahead of us) who had never played OLB in the 3-4???

Btw, Yary's size makes him more of an H-Back or undersized TE in today's game. :lol:

Even scarier than that...Jack Lambert is the same size as Limas Sweed (both listed as 6'4" 220 lbs.)


Discipline of Steel
04-20-2009, 07:06 PM
I saw one using only current NFL players and they had us taking Julius Peppers at 1.32. I think it was supposed to be humorous because why would we take a guy (with every player available to us other than the 31 taken ahead of us) who had never played OLB in the 3-4???

Btw, Yary's size makes him more of an H-Back or undersized TE in today's game. :lol:

Even scarier than that...Jack Lambert is the same size as Limas Sweed (both listed as 6'4" 220 lbs.)


Then Sweed should have no problem continuing to deal out Lambert-like blows to the other teams defenders. Look at Lambert with a cast and a balled fist. Sweed has the balled fists too. I think hes gettin it.