Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
20. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
DEMECO RYANS OLB | Alabama | Scouting Report
You would have a hard time finding a franchise that has done a better job of building through the draft in recent years than San Diego. In fact, right now they have 15 players that they drafted starting for them, and that doesn't include Antonio Gates and Kris Dielman who they signed as undrafted free agents. For those who are counting that's 17 home grown starters, which is pretty amazing no matter how you cut it! Lately the teams focus on draft day has been on the defensive side of the ball, but this year they could really go either way. Starting inside linebacker Randall Godfrey has said he plans to retire following the '05 season and if that is the case they will need to find a replacement. DeMeco Ryans has been very productive throughout his career and is a playmaker from the linebacker position who is seemingly always around the ball. In fact, grabbing him here would qualify as an excellent value pick because he could easily go much higher. Another major consideration would be the offensive line where they are solid at the starting spots but in great need of quality depth, especially at left tackle behind the aging Roman Oben. Safety is also an area that could stand to be upgraded as well, but at the end of the day Ryans is the best fit in terms of need and value at this point.
21. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
CHARLES GORDON CB | Kansas | Scouting Report
Everyone knows about Rashean Mathis, who is one of the better young cornerbacks in the league, but how many of you can name the other corners on the Jags roster? Give up? Well if the names Kenny Wright and Terry Cousin don't ring a bell you need not worry, they are journeymen at best and fans in Jacksonville probably wouldn't recognize them on the street. Needless to say it is imperative for the Jaguars to bring in a top young cornerback to round out what is one of the more impressive groups of young defensive talent in the league. Gordon is still raw after having played wide receiver early in his career, but he has certainly been impressive since the switch and could have a Chris Gamble-like progression at the next level. Another area the team could address is the defensive line where, despite having the best set of defensive tackles in the league, they are lacking outside opposite of Reggie Hayward where the duo of Paul Spicer and Marcellus Wiley leave a lot to be desired. As long as there is any type of value left at the cornerback position that would by all accounts be the obvious direction for them to go as it is easily their most glaring need.
22. CHICAGO BEARS
VERNON DAVIS TE | Maryland | Scouting Report
Sometimes it is hard to determine which side of the ball a team will address with their first round pick, but that isn't the case here. There is little doubt that the Bears defense ranks right up there with the best in the league, however the offense is on the other end of the spectrum and still needs some work. Right now their basic philosophy is to run the ball and let the defense take them home, but in order to allow the offense the opportunity to hold up their end of the bargain more playmakers are needed. Last offseason the team did a nice job of adding Muhsin Muhammad, Mark Bradley and Cedric Benson, not to mention Kyle Orton and upgrading the offensive line, but the work is far from done. One thing that can really help an offense, especially one with a young signal caller, is to bring in a tight end who can be a weapon in the passing game. Only a junior, if you looked up the term workout warrior in the dictionary you'd likely see a photo of Vernon Davis, who is as athletic and fast of a tight end as we have seen come along in a while. There is an outside chance they could bring in some youth along the offensive line as well but at the end of the day this team needs guys who can help move the chains and put points on the board.
23. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
JOE THOMAS OT | Wisconsin | Scouting Report
If the names Anthony Davis and Kenyatta Walker don't sound too familiar to you don't worry, they don't strike much fear into the hearts of opposing defensive ends either. Those two are actually the Buccaneers starting offensive tackles, Davis a former undrafted free agent on the left side and Walker a former first round pick and frequent resident of Jon Gruden's doghouse on the right side. Needless to say this is a team in desperate need of a stud blocker on the outside and if Thomas were to come out the Bucs would be very fortunate to land him here. A former tight end, Thomas is still learning the position and needs to develop as a pass blocker but he has all the physical tools to be a top left tackle at the pro level. In fact, if he goes back to school for his senior campaign he could very well be a Top 5-10 overall pick in 2007. Another direction Tampa could go here is quarterback, but unless some underclassmen come out there likely won't be much value at that position at this point in the first round. Gruden is known as an offensive coach and he realizes there is work to be done on that side of the ball so I fully expect offense to once again be the focus early on in the draft like it has been the last couple of years.
24. NEW YORK GIANTS
GABE WATSON DT | Michigan | Scouting Report
The Giants have one of the better defensive end duos in the league with Michael Strahan and Osi Umeyiora, but the interior is a different story. William Joseph was beginning to look like a first round bust before starting to come on a little this year, but beyond him there is very little else with Kendrick Clancy and Fred Robbins being mediocre at best. Gabe Watson has had a very up and down season and was even benched at one point but he has come on as of late and probably pushed his way back into round one. Physically Watson has it all, with tremendous size (6-4, 331), quickness and athleticism, but he doesn't always play up to that ability. At this point in round one though he is well worth the risk and if Tom Coughlin can get the best out of him on a consistent basis he will be a major steal for the G-Men. New York could also be looking for a wide receiver since Amani Toomer is getting up there in years and the depth behind he and Plaxico Burress is very shaky at best. A few years ago the team took a shot on Joseph when he fell into their laps and this time around Watson could very well be in a similar situation, which they might once again be willing to take advantage of.
25. ATLANTA FALCONS
TAMBA HALI DE | Penn St. | Scouting Report
Before ultimately selecting wide receiver Roddy White in the first round of last years draft the word was that Atlanta was taking a close look at defensive line prospects. Well they did address the defensive tackle position by selecting Jonathan Babineaux in round two but there is still an issue outside at end, where Brady Smith is getting older and there isn't much behind him and Patrick Kerney when it comes to depth. Tamba Hali is just beginning to receive the national attention he deserves thanks to a fantastic senior season and is a player on the move. After playing out of position at defensive tackle earlier in his career Hali has found a home outside at end and has emerged as one of the premier sack artists in the country. For years now the Falcons have gone through journeyman after journeyman at the safety position, with Keion Carpenter and Ronnie Heard being the latest stopgaps, so that is a viable option for them as well. Finally, even though they aren't known for using high picks on the offensive line that is an area that could stand to be upgraded and there should be some solid value in this portion of the draft if they chose to go in that direction.
26. DALLAS COWBOYS
LARON LANDRY S | L.S.U. | Scouting Report
Ask any Cowboys fan and they will probably tell you that offensive tackle is the teams biggest need. With Flozelle Adams out with injury and Torrin Tucker and Rob Petitti leaving a lot to be desired as professional starters, it would be hard to argue. That may well be the case, but with a lack of quality value at the position on the board at this point the team needs to look in a different direction and address what is arguably just as critical of a weakness. Roy Williams is one of the premier safeties in the league but coverage never has been or will be his strong suit, so to bring in a guy like Landry who can be a ballhawk in centerfield would be a tremendous addition. Also, keep in mind that Bill Parcells is and always will be a defensive minded coach and you can bet the image of his secondary getting torched by Washington for two late touchdowns in an early season loss will still be prominent in his mind come draft day. If a top offensive tackle prospect were still on the board that could very well be the direction they go, but with that not being the case look for the Tuna to revert back to his old ways and continue to upgrade his defense and the free safety position is begging to be addressed.
27. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
A.J. NICHOLSON OLB | Florida St. | Scouting Report
Last year the Seahawks defied convention and chose Lofa Tatupu a couple of rounds earlier than most thought he would go. In hindsight that was a tremendous pick as he is starting for them and a contender for Rookie of the Year. Linebacker is still a concern however and both starters outside could stand to be upgraded so Seattle takes advantage of the depth at the position in this years draft to do just that. Nicholson has really come into his own as a senior and moved way up draft boards thanks to his speed, athleticism and playmaking ability both against the run and dropping back into coverage. They might also want to bring in a defensive end with the loss of Chike Okeafor as a free agent, Bryce Fisher being nothing to write home about and with very little depth at the position. Depending on Ken Hamlin's long-term recovery prognosis from injuries he suffered in a fight the team might also need to seriously look into brining in another safety to team with Michael Boulware. What it all boils down to though is that Nicholson is by far the best fit from both a value and need standpoint which would make him an excellent choice for the Seahawks this late in the first round.
28. CAROLINA PANTHERS
DARNELL BING S | Southern Cal | Scouting Report
In round one of the 2005 NFL Draft Carolina chose safety Thomas Davis, but the early returns on his performance in the secondary have not been good and it looks like he is destined to be a linebacker at the pro level. With that being the case safety is a position that must be addressed, even if only for the sake of depth. Bing is probably the best draft-eligible player on the Trojans defense and a safety who can both be a force against the run as well as get the job done in coverage. Adding him to an already stout defense will only help ensure that it will remain a strength of the team for years to come. When healthy the Panthers have arguably the best defensive tackle in the game but the fact is Kris Jenkins has been injured for two straight years now and with Brentson Buckner getting up there in years as well it is time to bring in some quality depth and insurance. If a top defensive tackle fell to them here he would likely garner serious consideration, as would an offensive lineman since they are playing converted guard Travelle Wharton outside at the critical left tackle spot. Don't rule out a big wide receiver either since Rod Gardner hasn't really stepped up after being brought in to replace Muhsin Muhammad.
29. CINCINNATI BENGALS
JESSE MAHELONA DT | Tennessee | Scouting Report
After years of being a league wide laughing stock Marvin Lewis finally has this franchise turned around and on the right path. While the offense is in great shape Lewis still has some work to do on the other side of the ball so that is the direction they go here. John Thornton and Bryan Robinson are solid players but provide little in the way of penetration so they need to bring in someone who can get after the quarterback from the interior. Mahelona burst onto the scene in 2004 after transferring from a junior college and hit the ground running, quickly becoming one of the premier defensive tackles in college football. Adding a pass rush presence like Mahelona up front will help out everyone else on the defense and give them a dimension they are currently lacking. Another option would be the secondary where they could really use a top safety to team with Madieu Williams, however with there not being much value left there at this point it doesn't make sense to reach for a lesser talent. Mahelona is still a little underrated right now but the pros are always looking for guys who can rush the passer and when it comes to that Mahelona may very well grade out on top among the defensive tackles in that department so he is the pick.
30. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
MAX JEAN-GILLES OG | Georgia | Scouting Report
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know where the Steelers bread is buttered so any choice used to bolster the running game can hardly be criticized. With guys like Alan Faneca, Jeff Hartings and Marvel Smith the left side of the offensive line is in great shape, but the right side is another matter. Kendall Simmons is a former first round pick but his career has been somewhat derailed by injuries and illness, while Max Starks is a first year starter who is serviceable but nothing to write home about. Max Jean-Gilles is a mammoth presence who can be dominant in the running game and his selection would, at the very least, provide tremendous depth and possibly even a starter at either right guard or right tackle. He almost came out early a year ago but went back to school and that was probably wise decision as he will likely go much higher this time around. Overall this is a team with very little in terms of glaring needs so you can never rule out them opting for the best player available, in which case a linebacker or defensive back would be the most likely options. Jean-Gilles would appear to be an ideal fit though and his style of play would mesh seamlessly with what the Steelers love to do, which is run, run, run the ball.
31. DENVER BRONCOS
CHAD JACKSON WR | Florida | Scouting Report
It seems like Rod Smith is ageless but he isn't getting any younger and while Ashley Lelie is a solid #2 he isn't going to be able to fill Smith's shoes all by himself. Darius Watts has been a bust who is moving down the depth chart and the team even resorted to bringing in Jerry Rice and David Terrell to patch up their passing game, but to no avail. Chad Jackson was a premier recruit coming out of high school who didn't play like it until this year when he emerged as one of the best receivers in the country. He is explosive and a major deep threat who would solidify the position for the present as well as the future. With an excellent combination of size, speed and athleticism, Jackson has everything you look for in a #1 wideout and could potentially come off the board much higher than this when all is said and done. The Broncos could also look to the defensive line (Defensive End), offensive line (Offensive Tackle) or secondary (Safety) here depending on what happens with their earlier pick. What is boils down to though is that Jackson has just too much upside to pass on this late in the first round and he could very well end up being a steal if he were to fall this far.
32. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
THOMAS HOWARD OLB | U.T.E.P. | Scouting Report
After years of being a team known for having a great offense and terrible defense it appears that Tony Dungy's influence as well as some smart personnel moves have finally begun to pay dividends. As of now the Colts will likely keep their attention on the defense for at least one more year when it comes to the draft, although that plan could change depending on what happens with upcoming free agents Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne. A Dungy signature and a principle the team has tried to adhere to is speed on defense and when it comes to that you would have a hard time finding a faster, more athletic linebacker than Thomas Howard. A former safety who walked on with the Miners early in his career, Thomas has been timed as fast as 4.45 in the forty and would provide the type of playmaking ability that is ideal for the Indy defensive scheme. David Thornton and Cato June have done good jobs since taking over starting roles but there is next to nothing in terms of depth and a little competition never hurt anyone. A running back or wide receiver could still be possibilities if they lose James or Wayne, but as of now there is still some work to be done on the other side of the ball and Howard provides the best fit in terms of both value and need.