With The First Pick in The 2006 NFL Draft…

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On April 29 and 30, 32 NFL teams will try to pick the best from thousands of college players.

In what appears to be the most talented draft class ever, there are few experts who agree on who will get picked where. USC’s Matt Leinart could have been the first pick in the 2005 draft. Vince Young earned consideration to be one of the top four picks, then scored a six (or a seven, depending who reported it) on his NFL IQ test, the Wonderlic.

Reggie Bush is clearly the most explosive player in football, and will almost certainly be the first pick this year. The question is who will pick him. The Texans would be making the biggest mistake in draft history to skip him, but their problems won’t be solved with a single player. They are likely to trade the first pick for a package of offensive lineman or defensive players.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson also could have left UVA and turned pro in 2005, but he stands to be a top five pick this year. He is extremely talented and has drawn comparisons to ten-time All-Pro Jonathan Ogden and perennial Pro-Bowler Orlando Pace.

It seemed that NC State’s Mario Williams would fall out of the top five, but then the New Orleans Saints signed quarterback Drew Brees, negating the Saints’ need for Matt Leinart. Leinart is likely to fall to the Tennessee Titans, with head coach and USC alum Jeff Fischer and USC-genius-turned-Titans-offensive-coordinator Norm Chow.

A.J. Hawk is an exceptional linebacker from The Ohio State University. He is a team leader and a force on the field. The Green Bay Packers are sitting on the fifth pick with no defense. It’s a match made in heaven. Green Bay is a mess, and there is no better place to build a team than the linebacker position. Ask the Baltimore Ravens from 1996; their first draft ever produced Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, both of whom have anchored the team through 2005.

In any other draft, Maryland’s Vernon Davis would be picked in the top five. The former Terrapin ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, faster than most running backs. Davis has only 3 percent body fat and can squat a motorcycle (675lbs). Nicknamed “The Duke” he could often be seen breaking tackles and dragging his subjects down the field. The San Francisco 49ers deserve a better pick than the sixth, but they have to play the cards they were dealt. Last year’s no.1 pick Alex Smith flopped in his first year, and a big target like Davis would massively improve this team.

Vince Young and Jay Cutler are the two top targets for the Oakland Raiders. Young was a top five prospect, but his mental sharpness and ability to stay in the pocket for more than .7 seconds is questionable. Cutler was pegged as a third round pick until he lit up the Senior Bowl. Young is a combination of Michael Vick and Michael Pittman; he can run and avoid most tackles and the rest he will plow through. Watch the 2006 Rose Bowl if you want confirmation. The Raiders need a quarterback, and will have to make a very tough decision here.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the Buffalo Bills and the eighth pick. The Bills are the only team to get to four straight Super Bowls; unfortunately, they are also the only team to lose four straight Super Bowls. Last year was a laugh-off between J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb, with the winner being he who laughed last. The Bills could use help on the offensive line and may pick USC’s Winston Justice.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the Lions still exist. Their last three first round picks were wide receivers; they could use some help inside the hash marks. If the Bills don’t pick Justice, Detroit may, or they will pick Michael Huff out of Texas at free safety.

Rounding out the top ten are the Arizona Cardinals. Their offensive line is solid, their wide receivers are two of the best young wide-outs in the game, and their running back can set the tone of the game. All they need is someone to call the plays and maybe a defense. With Kurt Warner fading fast, the Cardinals are likely to either pick Jay Cutler or trade up to get Leinart. Arizona is ready to get out of the cellar, and with a defense and some coaching adjustments, they can easily make it past the rest of the NFC West.

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