The NFL draft's first day was full of wheeling and dealing and lots of surprises. Both elements are what have grown the Draft into such an exciting, much observed, phenomenon. With so called experts coming out of everywhere in the last few football seasons, the draft has become an entity unto itself outside of the actual game. And with each passing season, the hype grows, the speculation grows, and consequently, so does the popularity of the event.
Here is a wrap of what transpired in the first round yesterday. The numbers following the player's name are their THN position ranking, followed by their THN top 100 overall ranking.
1. 49ers- QB Alex Smith, Utah - (2/8)- The Niners surprise no one as they take the junior left hander and hand him the reigns of the struggling franchise. Smith spoke after the selection and stated several times that he was "ready to get to work", based on the team currently around him in San Francisco, he better get started now. Smith is very intelligent, talented and hard working quarterback. Now the Niners front office needs to get to work as well and give the youngster some weapons, as he will be looked at to lead this team in the fall.
Wingman`s take: The Niners had so many holes to fill and chose to start at QB, unless they add weapons around him this is like putting new tires on a car with no engine.
2. Dolphins- RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn - (1/2)- The Nick Saban era is brought in with the best running back in the draft. Forget about Ricky Williams' return, the Phins have a running back that can carry the load and catch the ball out of the backfield. The only question with him will be can be the workhorse that he will be counted on to be.
Wingman's take: Excellent pick for the new coach. The talk about "Smoke" Williams can be be put to rest, as Brown will fit the bill nicely in the new Saban offense.
3. Browns- WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan - (1/1)- The Browns grab not only the best receiver in the draft but also perhaps the best player in the draft. He will be looked at to start immediately and make an impact for the Browns in the fall. With his playing in Michigan, Cleveland will be little adjustment and remains close to home. New coach Romeo Crennel has in Edwards a franchise receiver that will anchor his receiving corps for years.
Wingman's take: Another good selection. While the Browns could have gone after Aaron Rodgers, they chose to take a player that will make an immediate impact. They can still add a quality quarterback with their second round pick (34th overall).
4. Bears- RB Cedric Benson, Texas - (2/9)- Da Bears add another running back to their stable but this one could be something special. Benson will be a good fit with the Bears as he is a smashmouth runner that will carry the ball as often as the Bears call his number. The kid feels slighted by a few teams that interviewed him before the draft so he will have that as well his desire to separate himself from fellow Longhorn alum, Ricky Williams, to serve as motivation in his drive to the NFL.
Wingman's take: Good pick for the Bears as they upgrade their backfield and can drop the "running back by committee approach" they used the past few seasons.
5. Buccaneers- RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, Auburn - (3/11)- This wasn't a real surprise as Gruden has spoken very highly of Williams since he coached him at the last Senior Bowl. Williams may have the best hands out of the backfield and has explosiveness through the line of scrimmage. Durability will remain question in as much as his size (5'10 1/2" 217lbs) as well as his splitting carries with Ronnie Brown at Auburn. That in itself could be a good thing as his legs are that much fresher.
Wingman's take: The Bucs filled a huge hole with a player which whom they have a brief history. The Bucs have a handful of picks (12) to stock the shelves again.
6. Titans- CB Adam "Pac Man" Jones, West Virginia - (1/6)- The Titans select the replacement for the departed Samari Rolle and also get a player with return capabilities as well. Jones, a player that rocketed up the draft boards, may not make people forget Rolle but rather will make a name for himself.
Wingman's take: Jones has the potential to be one of the best corners in the league. He will benefit by playing for Jeff Fisher and will help to return the Titans to prominence in the AFC.
7. Vikings- WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina - (3/13)- The Vikes look to fill the void left by Moss' departure to Oakland. Williamson isn't the big target that Moss was but he has very good speed, hands and goes after the ball aggressively. He also comes without Moss' attitude, which could make this pick the best one they will make this draft.
Wingman's take: The Vikings could have had Mike Williams at this pick but opted for speed rather than size, proving once again that perhaps size doesn't always matter. Williamson is a better pick for the offense at this point.
8. Cardinals- CB Antrel Rolle, Miami - (2/7)- The Cardinals, in desperate need of defensive help, nab a corner with a ton of talent and potential Pro Bowler. Rolle plays the corner with a linebacker mentality but also has a great awareness on the field. He will be an immediate starter for Denny Green's defense.
Wingman's take: Solid pick for the Cardinals. They addressed a huge need with a great player. Rolle will bring this already improving defensive unit to the next level.
9. Redskins- CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn - (3/16)- The Redskins addressed a need at corner by replacing Fred Smoot with perhaps a better player in Rogers. Some had him as the best in corner in the draft. Redskins' DC Gregg Williams gets a huge present from the front office. The possibilities for how Williams' can use Rogers has Redskins fans excited.
Wingman's take: A pick that makes great sense for the Redskins. They may find out later that they upgraded this spot. An already solid defense just got better.
10. Lions- WR Mike Williams, USC - (2/5)- The Lions wasted no time in bringing the big wide receiver home. He joins an already talented receiving corps with Roy Williams and Charles Rogers. This will increase the pressure on Joey Harrington as now a pass should never hit the turf with those receivers running routes.
Wingman's take: With the troubles that the Lions have defensively, this pick may have been better suited for a defensive pick, but its hard to fault them for adding a player like Williams.
11. Cowboys- DE DeMarcus Ware, Troy - (7/28)- The Cowboys were expected to take a defensive player in an attempt to rebuild that once powerful defensive unit and they did just that in the form of Ware. Ware offers the Cowboys several options in either the 3-4 or 4-3 defenses.
Wingman's take: Ware's selection may be a bit higher than most thought but that could be because Bill Parcells' keen eye for talent. Ware's play will show whether this pick was too high. Either way, the Cowboys need defensive help.
12. Chargers- DE/LB Shawne Merriman, Maryland - (1/4)- Th Chargers add the best defensive lineman in the draft in Merriman. He is a relentless defender who has great speed and will make plays all over the field. Schottenheimer has himself a very talented player that has a ton of potential.
Wingman's take: The Chargers net the best of the "tweeners". Merriman moves this defensive unit to the next level.
TRADE AT 13. Saints trade 16th and a third round pick in 2006 for the 13th pick)
13. Saints (from Texans)- OT Jammal Brown, Oklahoma- (3/26)- The Saints jumped up to grab the first offensive lineman in Brown. They did that for good reason as the Panthers at 14 were looking to take him. The Saints grabbed the big offensive lineman to begin to rebuild the porous offensive line.
Wingman's take: The Saints obliviously addressed a need with the pick so it is difficult to fault that. And while the pick may not be sexy, neither is watching your quarterback get ear-holed.
14. Panthers- S/OLB Thomas Davis, Georgia - (1/30)- The Panthers add a stud defender that can play at either safety or outside linebacker. Davis makes the secondary very formidable but due to being thin at linebacker, a move to that spot may be necessitated.
Wingman's take: The Panthers added a hammer to their secondary which will make receivers think twice about going over the middle. The transition to LB could be interesting.
15. Chiefs- LB Derrick Johnson, Texas - (1/10)- The Chiefs, who had the 31st worst defense last season, add an impact player in Johnson. As bad as this defensive unit is, any defensive player would be an improvement. Johnson dominated games in college but had times where he seemed to lose focus. That may change with maturity and some NFL seasoning.
Wingman's take: Adding defense had to be a priority and it has been. They obtained Patrick Surtain to address their secondary and Johnson helps out the linebacker corps. This unit STILL needs help.
16. Texans (from Saints)- DT Travis Johnson, Florida State - (1/15)- The Texans add a solid defensive lineman as they select the best defensive tackle in the draft in Johnson. He will potentially anchor a defensive line that is in need of his youthfulness, strength and quickness.
Wingman's take: The Texans needed some depth on the defensive line sport they also needed some protection for their franchise, QB David Carr, who has been sacked more often than groceries at the local market. With both Khalif Barnes and Alex Barron still on the board, perhaps this pick should have gone for an offensive lineman.
17. Bengals- DE David Pollack, Georgia- (3/18)- The Bengals may have the steal of the draft. The rub on Pollack has been his size, physical size that is, because the size of his heart and determination should never be questioned. The fact that he will be teamed with Marvin Lewis only makes him that much better.
Wingman's take: The Bengals needed to add some punch on the defensive line and the certainly did that with one of the "tweeners". Pollack will be a huge fan favorite in Cincinnati.
18. Vikings- DE Erasmus James, Wisconsin - (2/14)- The Vikings use their second pick to address the defensive side of the ball and they get a solid player in James. While his durability remains a question, James should make an impact on the defense immediately.
Wingman's take: The Vikings have taken two starters wit their two first round picks, which should pay immediate dividends on both sides of the ball. James' durability questions make this a bit of a risky pick but the upside is worth the risk.
19. Rams- OT Alex Barron, Florida State - (1/12)- The Rams add depth to a line that lost Kyle Turley due to injury and his return is doubtful. Barron could bookend the line with Orlando Pace but will need to get more aggressive to reach the level of play that will be demanded from him. Fortunately, he will be able to learn from one of the best in Pace.
Wingman's take: This is a good pick if they can get Barron to become aggressive. He has at times, played smaller than he is and that just cant happen in the NFL.
20. Cowboys- DE Marcus Spears, LSU - (4/20)- The Cowboys get another big player as they transform their defense into a 3-4 defense. Spears could be a dominant force inside, allowing the newly drafted DeMarcus Ware to dominate the outside.
Wingman's take: The Cowboys have to be happy which makes the rest of the NFC East nauseous. Parcells has in two players changed the entire look of the Cowboys defense.
21. Jaguars- WR Matt Jones, Arkansas - (7/36)- The Jaguars seemingly shocked the NFL world based on the initial reaction after the selection was made. But the Jaguars may have grabbed the most diverse player in the draft. He can play wide receiver, tight end or quarterback, the position he played in college.
Wingman's take: The Jags now hold the steal of the draft. Jones really brings a new dimension to the Jaguar offense and you have to believe that Byron Leftwich is very happy.
22. Ravens- WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma - (4/19)- The Ravens add another weapon for QB Kyle Boller as well as a return man. Adding Clayton to the mix with Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap and Derrick Mason gives the Ravens a semblance of a balanced offensive attack. Clayton could be a steal going this late in the round.
Wingman's take: The Ravens have been looking for help at wide receiver and they get a good one with Clayton. He has the potential to become a very good receiver, especially within the Raven offense.
TRADE AT 23. Raiders from 26th pick to 23rd from the Seahawks. The Seahawks also get Raiders 4th round pick (105th overall).
23. Raiders- CB Fabian Washington, Nebraska- (6/34)- The Raiders find their replacement for the recently traded Ray Buchanan as they grab the ultra-fast Washington. The only concerns expressed after the selection was Washington's ability to play the run.
Wingman's take: Solid pick to fill a need. Washington has tons of speed and will make an impact immediately, as he should fill Buchanan's spot.
24. Packers- QB Aaron Rodgers, California - (1/3)- Rodgers loss is the Packers gain as they end his day of mugging for the camera by choosing him as the heir apparent to Brett Favre. The longer that Favre plays, the better it will be for Rodgers, as he will continue to learn from the Hall of Famer.
Wingman's take: This is the steal of the draft. To have Rodgers fall to them can not be described as anything other than a steal. The Packers have to feel good about their future after Favre.
25. Redskins- QB Jason Campbell, Auburn - (4/44)- The Redskins use their second pick of the first round to select a quarterback despite their having three already under contract. Gibbs has said that he wanted to hand pick his quarterback. It was thought he did that with Brunell. Campbell is talented, that much is clear. How he fits into the Redskins plans is not.
Wingman's take: Why? With three quarterbacks on the roster and a young veteran quarterback leading the team for a coach that doesn't like inexperienced quarterbacks, why would they add a rookie quarterback? And when you need receivers and help with the offensive line, why use the 25th overall pick on that same quarterback? Well, maybe they can sign Leinart next season as well.
26. Seahawks- C Chris Spencer, Mississippi - (2/63)- The Seahawks use their pick to address a need and in turn get a player that can play both center and guard. Spencer is a solid player that could be a very good player with some seasoning.
Wingman's take: It isn't a sexy pick but it is a pick made to address a need. The Seahawks have the luxury at this pick to make this selection based on a need rather than filling a hole. This pick could have been better suited being used on a defensive player.
27. Atlanta- WR Roddy White, UAB- (6/33) - The Falcons get some weapons for Mike Vick as they get the talented wide receiver. With Atlanta's leading receiver last season being their tight end, Alge Crumpler, White will certainly help open up the offense.
Wingman's take: The Falcons need help at the wide receiver position so this pick makes sense as they get the best wide receiver remaining.
28. Chargers- DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern - (3/32)- The Chargers use their second pick of the round to further strengthen their defensive line. Castillo, who testing positive for andro at the combine, may have been taken higher than he was expected but Castillo is a solid player and the Chargers had the luxury of having two first round picks.
Wingman's take: Great addition in Castillo for the Chargers. Good to see that his decision to use the banned substance to heal up wasn't held against him and rather his honesty in the matter prevailed.
29. Colts- CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan - (5/29)- The Colts continue to strengthen seemingly the only weakness on the team, their defense. While it seems thy have been strengthening that unit for the past couple years, Jackson will fill a corner spot nicely.
Wingman's take: The Colts need defense and they made a good selection with Michigan's Jackson.
30. Steelers- TE Heath Miller, Virginia - (1/17)- For the second year in a row, the Steelers get "Steeler players" in the first round. Last it was Big Ben that the Steeler fans embraced because of his blue-collar mentality and now its Miller Time. Miller is a throwback player for a throwback team playing in a throwback town in front of throwback fans. Steeler fan, you're going to love this kid.
Wingman's take: Excellent pick. After Matt Jones was taken, the Steelers had to hope that Miller might slide to them. Fortunately for them, he did. Just what Big Ben needs, another weapon.
31. Eagles- DT Mike Patterson, USC - (5/48)- The Eagles stick to their head coach, Andy Reid's M.O. and they take a lineman with their first round pick. This pick, Patterson, is one that may pay immediate rewards next season, as the Eagles were thin on the defensive line last season.
Wingman's take: The Eagles added a player that can step in and play at a position that they have struggled to keep players healthy.
32. Patriots- OG Logan Mankins, Fresno State - (5/87)- The Patriots use the last pick of the first round to add a blue-collar player on the offensive line. Mankins may have been taken a bit high but he was hand picked by Belichik and at this point, why question him or the organization?
Wingman's take: The Patriots, with this pick, show why they are as good as they are and how they have built their team through the draft. Why more teams don't learn from them and the Eagles is baffling.