The 2006 NFL Draft takes place about 12 hours from now at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. There is lots of excitement, and even an expected amount of surprises. The mock drafts have been refined over and over, and now it's time to see who was the closest in there predictions.
Some of the players out there you can easily tell where they're going, or at least have a general idea. For others though, it's completely up in the air. Not only is it where the players are going, but also who the teams will select. I'm sure you have a player that you want your team to draft, but that doesn't always happen. I'm a Lions fan, just ask. After taking a wide receiver for three straight years in the first round of the draft, Lions' fans have had their fair share of disappointment. Another group of fans that always are entertaining to see the reaction of on draft day are the New York Jets. The amount of Jets fans at the draft is very large since it is in NYC. Through all of the picks, either the reaction will be a loud crowd of boos and mumbles of "What were they thinking?" or the biggest cheers in the world.
The Detroit Lions hold the number nine pick of this year's draft, barring any trades. This is a very important pick for not only the team, but also Lions fans. As I stated earlier, the Lions have drafted a wide receiver in the last three first rounds of the draft. Fans cringe at the thought of it, this year should be different. There's no way Detroit will select a receiver as there's no need for one, and if it happened, Matt Millen wouldn't even be living within fifteen minutes of the pick. Even more disappointing then the fact that they selected those three receivers is the fact that they haven't even been very good players. Charles Rogers suffered season-ending injuries in his first two seasons, and then was suspended for a few games in 2005 for violating the NFL's drug policy. Roy Williams is about the best of the trio, becoming a play-maker last season, but he's no superstar yet. Mike Williams hasn't done anything yet either. Mind-you he's only been in the pros for one season, but I think he didn't reach everyone's expectations.
So, what direction do the Lions go in for the 2006 NFL Draft? The secondary needs help, but so does the group of linebackers. The needs at quarterback were sort of taken care of in the offseason with the signing of three new QB's (Shaun King, Jon Kitna, Josh McCown). With the departure of Joey Harrington imminent, there still is a void with an inexperienced QB and a very old QB on the tail-end of his career.
First off, which players will be left on the board for the Lions' pick? Various mock drafts surfacing in the last day or so have had Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, falling all the way down to the number ten pick. That would mean he would be around for Detroit, but would the Lions select him? Let's go through this pick-by-pick in front of Detroit to see what options there will be.
1. Houston Texans
Already official is the signing of Mario Williams to the Houston Texans, making him the #1 pick of the 2006 NFL Draft. Earlier today when I was actually working on this article I had a quote from ESPN.com's John Clayton stating that negotiations had heated up between Houston and Mario Williams, and I guess they did. The unexpected deal did cause me to go back to the drawing boards on this entire article, but it provides a lot of excitement.
Official Pick: Mario Williams
2. New Orleans Saints
Now that my original choice for the Saints has been selected, Mario Williams, it's time to go to plan B, which for the Saints is even better than plan A. Really the Saints are in the best position possible. There are so many options for the Saints that a million different things could happen tomorrow.
The first and possibly most reasonable move the Saints could make tomorrow is to trade the pick to another team. This is the most logical as the Saints have been trying to get a trade to happen even before Bush slid down the draft order. Now, with the original number one pick available, there's no doubt teams are going to be willing to give up what the Saints wanted to get a trade to go through. If a trade happens, then which team is going to make it? Well, whichever team wants a running back that can also receive passes and return punts.
Since there's no way to predict a possible trade that could happen tomorrow, I will just go with the pick that would happen without a trade. That is selecting Reggie Bush. The Saints have said that if he was still there for their pick, that they would draft him, or trade him if the offer was good enough. There's no way you can let an explosive player like that just go by, so the Saints will draft Reggie Bush.
My Pick: Reggie Bush
3. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have it narrowed down to two players to draft, Matt Leinart or Vince Young. With Steve McNair appearing to be done in Tennessee, the need for a quarterback is very high. Leinart has ties to the offensive coordinator of the Titans, Norm Chow, who was the OC for Leinart at USC for the first few years of his career. Vince Young is the other quarterback in the running for the second overall pick of the draft. Young has the speed to run through a defense and also has a good passing game to go with it. Scouts frown on his throwing motion though, as it's a sidearm fashion. That could lead to many passes being batted down at the line, but with the ability to run past the line, that could easily be prevented. It appears that the front office wants Vince Young, but the coaching staff Matt Leinart. Who will be selected? This is a key pick in the draft. The player drafted can greatly change the outcome of the first round of the draft. If Young isn't drafted, then his next best chance of being drafted would be with the Raiders at the number 7 spot. Matt Leinart's draft status has been slipping, and I think that is due to the recent-high interest in Vince Young from the Titans. If Leinart isn't taken by the Titans, then he could end up dropping to the number ten pick, going to the Cardinals. My pick for the Titans is Matt Leinart, he can fit right into the system because of playing under Norm Chow at USC, and then put that out on the field with the Titans. Norm Chow and the other coaches are looking for a quarterback with the experience and skill to lead their team into the playoffs, and the front office will hear that and make the decision to take Leinart, making it two USC players in a row.
My pick: Matt Leinart
4. New York Jets
The New York Jets, always the root of pain and heartache to the fans attending the draft have a couple of options here in the fourth pick of the NFL Draft. The one that fans would hope for is to trade up and take Matt Leinart. That won't happen if Leinart is taken by the Titans, so the Jets would have to move up to the number two spot to get him. But, if you're already there, then why not take Reggie Bush? If the Jets do decide to trade, then things will really get interesting.
I don't think a trade is likely to happen now. The Jets will probably go with D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the highly-touted offensive tackle out of Virginia. The Jets do need some players at offensive tackle, and drafting Ferguson would be a great start to addressing that issue.
My Pick: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
5. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have Brett Favre coming back for another season, which is the best news they could've heard around draft time. Coming off of one of the worst seasons every in franchise history, the Packers will have a high draft pick to get a great player. With lots of talent still in the field, the Packers can easily get the player they need.
Green Bay needs a solid linebacker to shape their defense around, and A.J. Hawk is the man for that. Coming out of Ohio State, Hawk is the best linebacker in the draft, and showed that off with a great career at OSU. Green Bay will be moving forward by drafting Hawk, who immediately can start at Green Bay.
My Pick: A.J. Hawk
6. San Francisco 49ers Last season, with the number one overall pick of the draft, the 49ers selected quarterback Alex Smith. Smith struggled last year when he actually got playing time. In this draft, with the sixth pick, the 49ers can give Smith a great target to throw his passes to.
Vernon Davis, a tight end out of Maryland, and possibly the most athletic player in the draft, will be selected by San Francisco. The 49ers have to give Alex Smith a player to throw to that has the ability and athletic skill to go up and get those passes. Smith doesn't have that strong of an arm, so a mid-range target like Davis would be perfect for Smith to progress and become a better NFL quarterback.
My Pick: Vernon Davis
7. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders did not resign Kerry Collins this offseason, so they will be shopping for a quarterback. They could always pick up one before the season in the free agent pool, but why not just bring one in that will put butts in the seats as well. Vince Young will still be available, and that is the best pick for the Raiders. Oakland could use a player like Vince Young to not only run around the defense, but to also get the ball into the hands of Randy Moss. By providing a player like Young to Moss, the two could have an explosive season, and create a very successful connection in the air or on the ground.
If, for some reason, the Raiders don't go in this direction, then look for them to select Michael Huff. Huff is a great safety out of Texas, just as Young, and would fill the needs of a weak defensive backfield with the departure of Charles Woodson. If the Raiders do select Michael Huff, then the Lions would greatly be affected. More on that in a couple of picks.
My Pick: Vince Young
8. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are eyeing out many different options at the number eight pick. They are thinking of trading the pick if a deal were good enough, taking a quarterback, taking an offensive lineman, and taking a defensive lineman. The most realistic choice in this is to select a defensive lineman, that being Brodrick Bunkley out of Florida State. The Bills could take Jay Cutler if they wanted, but they have J.P. Lossman as their quarterback right now, and don't want to give up on him. Look for this to be the pick for Buffalo to fill up their d-line with some very good players.
My Pick: Brodrick Bunkley
9. Detroit Lions
Now the pick you've all been waiting for, the Detroit Lions selection. The Lions' pick really depends on the players drafted in the one through eight picks. So many different scenarios could play out here, leaving lots of question marks to what Detroit will do. First, let's go with what I think will happen. I think Detroit will take Michael Huff (assuming he's available), Huff is a great defensive player, and can play both safety and cornerback. The defensive back out of Texas is an explosive play maker that will definitely fill a void in the defensive backfield that Detroit has. Huff is a great player, and is who I think will be headed to Motown.
Now we'll get into some of the other options the Lions have. The Titans will take either Matt Leinart or Vince Young, the player of those two that isn't selected by Tennessee will drop down a few picks. The next real spot for that leftover player to be taken is at number seven, by the Oakland Raiders. If something were to happen where the Raiders selected Michael Huff, then the Lions would have a chance at getting either Leinart or Young. If one of those two are left on the board when Detroit's on the clock, then the Lions better take that player. Leinart has the skill level and mechanics to make sure a great receiving corps gets the ball. Then Vince Young has the ability and speed to turn into a Mike Vick, but with a better pass some say. Also, both would put lots of fans in the seats of Ford Field because both are primetime players. The two quarterbacks that played in the national championship game earlier this year in January could wind up punching a ticket to Detroit if this scenario played out. Let's just say, I'm hoping this happens as it would start a new era of Lions football.
If the Lions are approached by a team looking to trade, then if the specifics were good enough it could happen. The Lions are also interested in Winston Justice, an offensive tackle out of USC; and linebacker Ernie Sims out of Florida State. Both are expected to be taken in the mid-first round, so the best bet would be to trade down if the Lions were seriously considering taking one of these players.
Overall, there can't be any mistakes made with this first pick. Matt Millen is already feeling the pressure from fans to make the right move after blowing the first picks in the last few years. If another bad pick is made, then look for the fans to be so angry that something could happen. Detroit is on the verge of something big in the 2006 draft, with so much talent out there, we should be coming off of the pick with a smile on our faces.
My Pick: Michael Huff
This concludes my predictions for the 2006 NFL Draft as I just wanted you to see my thoughts on who will be taken before Detroit's pick as that is what the main point of this article is. The draft is going to be great, and I can't wait. Let's hope it's one to remember.