2006 NFL Mock Draft

2006 NFL Mock Draft

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NFL Mock Draft By Herbie Teope
RotoWire Staff Writer

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(Editor's Note: Here is a sneak preview from our 2006 NFL Fantasy Football Guide, slated to hit the newsstands in July) Using MockDraftCentral.com's software, a site we wholeheartedly endorse for your mock drafting needs, the magazine's staff and four special guests conducted the annual mock draft on May 2, two days after the NFL Draft. The 12 participants engaged in a 16-round serpentine draft with the following requirements: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 team defense and seven reserves.

Scoring used for the purposes of the mock was 3-points per TD pass, 6-points for a TD scored, 1-point per 10 yards rushing or receiving and 1-point for 20 yards passing. Kickers were at face value and defenses score at 1-point per sack, 2-points per safety and turnover and 6-points for a touchdown. Spotting the Early Trends –>

The Stud Running Back Strategy is Back.

Going back in time, August 2005 Average Draft Positions, or ADP, consistently reflected Manning drafted in the 1.3 - 1.6 range. Many were banking that he would come close to, or match, his magical 2004 season of 49 touchdown passes, thus making him an early first-round pick over the tradition of selecting an elite running back to anchor a team. In fact, Manning went at 1.3 in our 2005 April mock draft.

No one in the industry disputes Manning is the safest quarterback to select. However, 2005 saw him get off to a slow start finishing with just 28 touchdown passes, well of his NFL record. This could have been a factor in our drafters pursuit of running backs. Drafters not wanting to wait for a running back during the turn of the second round also could have contributed to passing on Manning early in the draft.

The first 24 picks netted 18 running backs off the board with the first 11 picks being rushers. Manning went at pick 2.1 with five wide receivers, led by Steve Smith at 1.12, to close the first two rounds.

Another trend to potentially watch leading to August drafts is best described by participant Andre' Snellings.

"One of the big trends in this draft were big-name players coming off major time missed last year (injury, suspension) that were drafted later than they would have otherwise been," Snelling said.

Examples of this point include Daunte Culpepper, Ahman Green, Terrell Owens, Javon Walker, and even Kevin Jones. Swinging for the fences based on potential rebound years and upside are themes to look for.

The Draft and Analysis

Before perusing the actual draft and analysis, please keep in mind the participants conducted the draft without the benefit of training camp and the results of numerous position battles. Moreover, the draft is done without the benefit of knowing how well some players, like Daunte Culpepper and Carson Palmer as examples, are rehabilitating leading to August preseason games. The uncertainty may have affected how the drafters perceived overall value at this stage of the offseason.

Below is a breakdown of the teams from an unbiased observer of the draft. I've provided a breakdown of players ranked in the order they were selected to offer an idea of how the drafters saw the players. –>


MOCK DRAFT
Aaron SchatzAndre SnellingsMike BellerJason PlimlJeff EricksonMichael Blunda
1Larry Johnson (RB)Shaun Alexander (RB)Ladainian Tomlinson (RB)Tiki Barber (RB)Clinton Portis (RB)Edgerrin James (RB)
2Brian Westbrook (RB)Torry Holt (WR)Julius Jones (RB)Marvin Harrison (WR)Reuben Droughns (RB)Chad Johnson (WR)
3Larry Fitzgerald (WR)Antonio Gates (TE)Randy Moss (WR)Corey Dillon (RB)Anquan Boldin (WR)Thomas Jones (RB)
4Matt Hasselbeck (QB)Jamal Lewis (RB)Javon Walker (WR)Jeremy Shockey (TE)Donald Driver (WR)Tatum Bell (RB)
5Frank Gore (RB)Deuce McAllister (RB)Roy Williams (WR)Fred Taylor (RB)Deion Branch (WR)Joey Galloway (WR)
6Chris Cooley (TE)Marc Bulger (QB)Curtis Martin (RB)Rod Smith (WR)Laurence Maroney (RB)Carson Palmer (QB)
7Eddie Kennison (WR)T.J. Houshmandzadeh (WR)Mike Anderson (RB)Jimmy Smith (WR)Alge Crumpler (TE)Joe Horn (WR)
8Adam Vinatieri (K)Drew Bledsoe (QB)Daunte Culpepper (QB)Marion Barber (RB)Cedric Benson (RB)Randy McMichael (TE)
9Koren Robinson (WR)Chicago Bears (DEF)Brandon Lloyd (WR)Keyshawn Johnson (WR)Ron Dayne (RB)Ben Roethlisberger (QB)
10Michael Vick (QB)Chris Perry (RB)Dallas Clark (TE)Byron Leftwich (QB)Braylon Edwards (WR)T.J. Duckett (RB)
11Ryan Moats (RB)Kevin Curtis (WR)Pittsburgh Steelers (DEF)Indianapolis Colts (DEF)Drew Brees (QB)Isaac Bruce (WR)
12Michael. Jenkins (WR)Michael Clayton (WR)Chad Jackson (WR)Brad Johnson (QB)David Carr (QB)Keenan McCardell (WR)
13Duce Staley (RB)Charles Rogers (WR)Philip Rivers (QB)Mike Vanderjagt (K)Jon Kitna (QB)Michael Pittman (RB)
14Mark Brunell (QB)Sinorice Moss (WR)Shayne Graham (K)Jerramy Stevens (TE)Samie Parker (WR)L.J. Smith (TE)
15Seattle Seahawks (DEF)Nate Kaeding (K)Mark Bradley (WR)Anthony Thomas (RB)David Akers (K)Jay Feely (K)
16Antwaan Randle El (WR)Chris Henry (WR)Lee Suggs (RB)Marcus Robinson (WR)Cincinnati Bengals (DEF)Baltimore Ravens (DEF)
Chris LissMichael DoriaBrandon FunstonDerek Van RiperMike SalfinoJason Thornbury
1Carnell Williams (RB)Rudi Johnson (RB)Ronnie Brown (RB)Steven Jackson (RB)Lamont Jordan (RB)Steve Smith (WR)
2Reggie Bush (RB)Domanick Davis (RB)Terrell Owens (WR)Willis McGahee (RB)Kevin Jones (RB)Peyton Manning (QB)
3Willie Parker (RB)Hines Ward (WR)Chester Taylor (RB)Chris Chambers (WR)Darrell Jackson (WR)Dominic Rhodes (RB)
4Santana Moss (WR)Ahman Green (RB)Warrick Dunn (RB)Reggie Wayne (WR)Joseph Addai (RB)DeShaun Foster (RB)
5Plaxico Burress (WR)Andre Johnson (WR)Tom Brady (QB)DeAngelo Williams (RB)Lee Evans (WR)Tony Gonzalez (TE)
6Eli Manning (QB)Trent Green (QB)Nate Burleson (WR)Donovan McNabb (QB)Reggie Brown (WR)Chris Brown (RB)
7Vernon Davis (TE)David Givens (WR)Derrick Mason (WR)Terry Glenn (WR)Kurt Warner (QB)Drew Bennett (WR)
8Laveranues Coles (WR)Jason Witten (TE)Todd Heap (TE)Priest Holmes (RB)Jake Delhomme (QB)Donte Stallworth (WR)
9Samkon Gado (RB)Jerry Porter (WR)New York Giants (DEF)Heath Miller (TE)Muhsin Muhammad (WR)Mewelde Moore (RB)
10Mark Clayton (WR)Kevan Barlow (RB)Greg Jones (RB)Eric Moulds (WR)Antonio Bryant (WR)LenDale White (RB)
11Mike Williams (WR)Brett Favre (QB)Jake Plummer (QB)Santonio Holmes (WR)Maurice Drew (RB)Travis Henry (RB)
12Aaron Brooks (QB)Brian Calhoun (RB)Matt Jones (WR)Michael Turner (RB)Kellen Winslow (TE)Joe Jurevicius (WR)
13Neil Rackers (K)Jason Elam (K)Josh Brown (K)Steve McNair (QB)Brandon Jacobs (RB)Chris Simms (QB)
14Dallas Cowboys (DEF)Carolina Panthers (DEF)Ben Watson (TE)Philadelphia Eagles (DEF)Troy Williamson (WR)Ashley Lelie (WR)
15Ben Troupe (TE)Marcedes Lewis (TE)Verron Haynes (RB)Jeff Wilkins (K)Ryan Longwell (K)Jeff Reed (K)
16Vince Young (QB)Justin McCareins (WR)Amani Toomer (WR)Leonard Pope (TE)Washington Redskins (DEF)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DEF)

1 "With the first pick of the 2006 RotoWire Mock Draft..." Aaron Schatz of FootballOutsiders.com selected Larry Johnson, a likely consensus No. 1 overall pick. In a running back heavy draft, like this one, Schatz knew he needed a sure thing and that's what he got in Johnson. Even if Priest Holmes, yet to be medically cleared to practice, returns, his presence shouldn't cut too much into Johnson's playing time as new coach Herm Edwards already named Johnson the starter. With just nine starts in 2005, Johnson led many to a league championship with nine straight 100-yard games, to include two 200-yard efforts in that same span, and 17 total touchdowns (16 rushing). He finished the season with 1,750 yards and 21 total touchdowns (20 rushing).

Schatz paired Johnson with Brian Westbrook, who returns from a foot injury, and both are a strong one-two punch at running back provided Westbrook, a major producer for reception leagues, stays healthy. With an injury prone back, it's imperative to have a strong No. 3 or No. 4 option. Frank Gore is an interesting prospect in 2006, and should see significant time despite the presence of Kevan Barlow in San Francisco. Duce Staley is also intriguing given Jerome Bettis' retirement, but Staley will compete with Willie Parker and must prove to coach Bill Cowher he can remain healthy. If Johnson or Westbrook go down, depending on running backs in potential committees for their parent team may come back to bite Schatz.

Matt Hasselbeck and Michael Vick, who was drafted in Round 10, give Schatz a weekly option especially if Vick continues to improve in Atlanta.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with grabbing Larry Fitzgerald as a No. 1 receiver, but this team lacks wideout punch after the third-year pro. Eddie Kennison, entering his 11th season, is coming off a second consecutive 1,000-yard campaign, but it took him nine years to have his first. At 33, it's hard to imagine him remaining a consistent performer. Koren Robinson made the Pro Bowl last year, but that was as a punt returner. There is potential with Robinson given Nate Burleson's signing with the Seahawks, however.

A questionable pick occurred in Round 8 with Adam Vinatieri. While Vinatieri, one of the league's best clutch kickers, now plays for the high-octane Colts and will play home games indoors, Round 8 is much too early for a kicker. If you need reassurance to wait until the last few rounds to grab a kicker, look no further than the 2005 season when Jay Feely and Neil Rackers finished second and third, respectively, in the league in scoring. Both either went undrafted or were grabbed off the waiver wires as the season progressed.

As participant Mike Salfino offered in his post-draft thoughts, it's best to wait.

"Don't even think about kicker and defense until the last two rounds," Salfino said.

2 Andre' Snellings, Bengals beat writer, used the second overall pick on reigning NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, fresh off 1,880 yards rushing and a league-record 28 total touchdowns. A few participants complimented Snelling's team in their individual post-draft analysis and for good reason when you look at the foundation consisting of Alexander, Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Antonio Gates.

An argument can be made for Alexander, the role model of consistency with five straight seasons of 15 or more touchdowns, being the top pick. Still, two main issues must be addressed heading into 2006, specifically if his MVP season had anything to do with a contract year. Moreover, the loss of All Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson will likely adversely affect the amount of plays coach Mike Holmgren calls to the left side, long a Seahawks' bread and butter play. Projected replacement Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack is capable, but he's been a backup offensive lineman for a reason.

Outside of Alexander, Snellings gambled that Jamal Lewis will rebound from his horrible 2005 campaign where he failed to rush for 1,000-yards for the first time in his career. Lewis could give way to Mike Anderson, signed this offseason from Denver, in short-yardage and goal line situations. Deuce McAllister is returning from an ACL injury and will compete with Reggie Bush for touches. It's difficult to count on McAllister given those two factors, but Snellings may strike gold if Lewis regains form.

This team is strong at quarterback with Bulger and Drew Bledsoe, provided Bulger is fully recovered from a 2005 shoulder injury to his throwing arm. Bledsoe's stock went up when the Cowboys signed game-breaker Terrell Owens.

Like Aaron Schatz, Snellings lacks quality depth at receiver. T.J. Houshmandzadeh had 78 catches for 956 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but that was with Carson Palmer, who is attempting to come back after shredding his left knee in the first round of the playoffs. Of Snellings' group of receivers, Michael Clayton is the wildcard. The third-year pro suffered a horrible sophomore slump in 2005 with just 32 catches for 372 yards and no touchdowns after posting 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns in his 2004 rookie campaign. Clayton, selected in Round 12, could prove to be an excellent value choice if he rebounds.

Snellings reached by taking the Bears in Round 9. While the Bears are an elite defense, anything before Round 10 or 11 is too early to address this position. Much like kicker, there is high turnover at the top each year.

3 Michael Beller, Lions beat writer, selected last year's consensus No. 1 overall pick, LaDanian Tomlinson, with the third overall pick. Tomlinson faded down the stretch last year, but he's still an elite running back. Expect the Chargers to get him touches early and often to take the pressure off Phillip Rivers, who steps into the starting job after the departure of Drew Brees.

Beller is in trouble at quarterback if Daunte Culpepper is unable to return from ACL, MCL and PCL injuries. Prudence dictates if you draft a quarterback coming off a major injury like Culpepper, there's a proven option behind him. Rivers could have his moments in 2006, but it's hard to envision him being a consistent option in his first year as a full-time starter.

Julius Jones and Tomlinson should provide this team with production. Still, Jones will have to prove to coach Bill Parcells he can stay healthy. There's also Marion Barber, a player Parcells is high on, to be concerned about. After Tomlinson and Jones, there's not much upside with Curtis Martin and Mike Anderson. Both will be 33 entering the season and are beyond their prime.

The strength of this team is where Randy Moss and Javon Walker anchor the wide receiver position. Moss, one of the game's elite game breakers, should rebound from an injury-plagued 2005 campaign where he produced 60 catches for 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns. Expect the Raiders and new coach Art Shell to make a concerted effort to get the ball in Moss' hands early and often. Walker, returning from an ACL injury, gets a fresh start in Denver. If he's able to regain his 2004 Pro Bowl form, Beller hit a home run. Having the ultra-talented Roy Williams as a third receiver behind Moss and Walker provides quality depth if Williams overcomes durability concerns, an issue that has dogged the former Longhorns star. Brandon Lloyd won't be expected to do much in Washington with Santana Moss around, but he's a viable option as a fourth receiver. Rookie Chad Jackson and second-year pro Mark Bradley round out the position.

4 Jason Pliml, owner of MockDraftCentral.com, selected Tiki Barber with the fourth overall pick. Barber, coming off a season where he produced 2,390 total yards (1,860 yards rushing) and 11 total touchdowns (nine rushing), finally receives long-deserved respect with this high pick. However, Pliml's roster is aging and lacks upside outside a pair of Giants in Barber and Jeremy Shockey.

Corey Dillon turns 32 in October, and is coming off a disappointing and injury marred 2005 season where he appeared in just 12 games producing 733 yards rushing. His 12 touchdowns were solid, but consider he produced 1,635 yards rushing in 2004. Additionally, the Patriots used a first-round pick on Laurence Maroney, who will compete for playing time and touches. It wouldn't surprise to see Maroney eventually supplant Dillon as the starter at some point during the season. Fred Taylor, 30, is also coming off an injury plagued 2005 campaign, and may not be in Jacksonville when the season opens. Marion Barber represents upside if he assumes a major role in Dallas should Julius Jones go down with an injury.

At wide receiver, Marvin Harrison leads a group of aging veterans, including Rod Smith, Jimmy Smith, Keyshawn Johnson and Marcus Robinson. Harrison remains a viable No. 1 receiver, but the others are beyond their prime and viewed as possession receivers for their respective teams.

Pliml opted to fill out his roster with skill players before addressing quarterback in Round 10 and 12. Byron Leftwich and Brad Johnson are safe choices as late round picks, but expecting elite production from either is a stretch.

This team could be competitive with Barber and Shockey. However, the overall potential to disappoint equals, or is greater than, the potential to exceed expectations.

5 Jeff Erickson, RotoWire Senior Editor and Ravens beat writer, used the fifth overall pick on Clinton Portis, who produced his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season with 1,516 yards and 11 touchdowns. Showing versatility, Portis also threw two touchdown passes. Portis is a slam dunk after the Big 3 running backs (Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson) are off the board. While the Redskins were already a run-oriented team, new offensive coordinator Al Saunders' system made Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson elite running back options in Kansas City the last 4-5 years. Expect Portis to be very productive.

Reuben Droughns is a questionable pick at 2.8, but Erickson compensated with high upside choices in Laurence Maroney, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne during the middle rounds. An unhappy Thomas Jones, who stopped reporting to Chicago voluntary offseason workouts amid pre-NFL Draft rumors, could open the door for Benson. Moreover, Dayne is viewed as the early favorite to emerge from Denver's training camp as the starter over Tatum Bell. While this battle has yet to be determined, getting Dayne in Round 9, five rounds after Bell went off the board in Round 4, represents exceptional value especially if Dayne is starting.

Erickson has a strong set of receivers led by Anquan Boldin, who produced 102 catches for 1,402 yards and seven touchdowns last seasons, and Donald Driver, who will see plenty of touches with Javon Walker now in Denver. Deion Branch and Braylon Edwards offer potential to produce, especially the talented Edwards. While he's returning from an ACL injury and could experience growing pains with second-year pro Charlie Frye under center, the 2005 third overall pick will see plenty of opportunities now that Antonio Bryant is in San Francisco.

Drew Brees is returning from offseason shoulder surgery, but having Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth around should alleviate major concerns. David Carr could finally put it together if he's able to stand upright in the pocket. The Texans gave Carr a proven veteran receiving option in Eric Moulds to pair with Andre Johnson. Additionally, new Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who worked with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young and John Elway, has high confidence in Carr.

Erickson's team, perhaps my favorite, is deep and full of potential. There's not much to be overly uncomfortable with.

6Michael Blunda, Bears beat writer, picked sixth and took Edgerrin James. Most question if James, who rushed for 9,226 yards and 64 touchdowns in seven seasons with the Colts can be be productive in Arizona given the current state of the team's offensive line. Still, the versatile James, also an exceptional blocker, will be very involved under coach Dennis Green. Opposing defenses must deal with James and his 356 career receptions for 2,839 yards out of the backfield. Safeties will find it difficult to cheat towards the line of scrimmage with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin running routes.

If the Bears keep him happy, then Thomas Jones, coming off 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns, is a strong No. 2 behind James. However, if Cedric Benson emerges in Chicago, Blunda could face problems at the key running back position. Tatum Bell is not a sure thing without the benefit of Denver's training camp as coach Mike Shanahan likely won't name the starter until late August. If you draft Bell in the early rounds banking on upside, it is imperative to draft Ron Dayne later as insurance.

Chad Johnson remains a top-5 receiver, and he's supported by a group of aging veterans in Joey Galloway, Joe Horn, Isaac Bruce and Keenan McCardell. They are a safe group of veterans, but the potential for upside is limited at this stage of their careers. Granted, Galloway didn't play like a 34-year-old receiver last season – he turned 35 in November 2005 – en route to 83 catches for 1,287 yards and 10 touchdowns. Expecting the same production is a gamble, however.

Concern surrounds Carson Palmer's shredded knee, but having Ben Roesthlisberger is a strong fall-back plan. Big Ben continues to improve and could finish the season with top 10 production at the quarterback position despite the Steelers being a run-first team.

7 Chris Liss, RotoWire Managing Editor and Giants beat writer, used the seventh overall pick on second-year pro Carnell Williams. Liss' theme was apparent when the draft concluded. He went with the exuberance of youth and the upside it normally brings over playing it safe with veterans.

Williams at the seventh overall pick is justified by the flashes of brilliance the former Auburn star displayed last season en route to 1,178 yards rushing and an NFL rookie record 434 yards in his first three starts. Unfortunately, an amazing 88 carries, including a 37-carry effort against the Packers in Week 3, during that stretch likely contributed to foot and hamstring injuries that hampered him the rest of the year. Expect coach Jon Gruden to find a balance for Williams in 2006 to maximize his time on the field.

Liss' selection of Reggie Bush in Round 2 raised questions, but Bush's potential clearly outweighs the downside of taking him this early. Consider that Deuce McAllister is returning from an ACL injury and the Saints play their home games on the friendly turf of the Superdome. New Saints coach Sean Payton will find ways to get Bush plenty of touches and opportunities, and the electrifying rookie is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Getting another high-upside choice in Willie Parker as a third running back solidified the position.

The choice of third-year pro Eli Manning further represented Liss' youth strategy. No doubt Peyton's younger brother made strides early last year, but he faded down the stretch. However, the maturation process continues, making Manning a viable option as a No. 1 quarterback. Aaron Brooks has a new start in Oakland, and having Randy Moss and Jerry Porter as receivers should make life easier for Brooks. Liss used his last pick on Vince Young, but he won't need him with Manning and Brooks on the roster. Besides, never depend on a rookie quarterback regardless of upside.

The receivers are strong with Santana Moss, Plaxico Burress and Laveranues Coles. Moss, who broke out in a tremendous way last season with 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns, will be active in offensive coordinator Al Saunders' offense. Burress' production depends on Manning's ability to sustain, and Burress, who posted 76 catches for 1,214 yards and seven touchdowns last year, also needs to remain mentally involved by refraining from becoming openly agitated when the ball isn't coming his way. Mark Clayton, a second-year receiver the Ravens are high on, could emerge in 2006 as a consistent producer.

Vernon Davis in Round 7 represents a strong choice and Davis may ultimately prove to be one of the best tight ends of this mock draft. The rookie will have an immediate impact serving as Alex Smith's safety valve.

If you like to draft young, banking on potential over safety with veterans, Liss' strategy is the model to follow.

8Mike Doria, NFL Editor and Patriots beat writer, selected Rudi Johnson with the eighth pick. Johnson has consecutive 1,400-yard seasons under his belt, and while he won't be considered a flashy runner, all Johnson does is produce every week. What makes Johnson even more attractive this season is the uncertainty surrounding Carson Palmer's knee. If Palmer isn't 100 percent when the season starts, it makes perfect sense for coach Marvin Lewis to put the ball in the hands of his workhorse back.

Doria followed his selection of Johnson with Domanick Davis in Round 2. There are durability concerns with Davis, who has missed six games the last two seasons, but the Texans proved their commitment to him by foregoing Reggie Bush in April's draft. Look for Davis to be very productive under new coach Gary Kubiak, who knows how to incorporate running backs from his days as the Broncos offensive coordinator. Ahman Green, yet another running back coming off an injury plagued 2005 campaign, and Kevan Barlow offer this team depth. Doria is banking that Brian Calhoun, a speedy rookie, could see time in Detroit if Kevin Jones misses time.

Veterans Trent Green and Brett Favre are proven options, but are at the twilight of their respective careers. Favre is also returning from a career-worst 29 interceptions. Still, both warrant weekly consideration and an owner will do well playing matchups.

The receivers on this roster are led by Hines Ward, who had his string of four straight seasons of 1,000-yards receiving snapped last season with 975 yards. Still, Ward, show scored 11 touchdowns in 2005, is dependable and will be expected to do more in Pittsburgh with Antwaan Randle El now in Washington. Andre Johnson could finally emerge to be the force many predicted he would be with Eric Moulds lining up alongside him. Doria has depth with David Givens, Jerry Porter and Justin McCareins, but neither receiver should be confused as consistent producers at this stage.

Jason Witten, who had 66 catches for 757 yards, experienced a decline from 2004's breakout year of 87 catches for 980 yards, will benefit underneath in the short game with Terrell Owens commanding so much attention on the outside.

9 Brandon Funston of Yahoo! Sports took advantage of Ricky Williams' one-year suspension by selecting Ronnie Brown with the ninth pick. Barring coach Nick Saban bringing in another running back and the uncertainty surrounding Daunte Culpepper's surgically repaired knee, Brown, who split carries with Williams last year, will have plenty of opportunities to build upon his rookie campaign of 907 yards rushing and five total touchdowns (four rushing).

Funston didn't allow Terrell Owens' 2005 suspension in Philadelphia to deter his decision from tagging him as the second wide receiver off the board in Round 2. There's no doubting what Owens, the football player, brings to the playing field. What you get is an elite receiver capable of taking over a game. However, taking Owens this early knowing he is playing in a run-first offense could be questionable, especially over other consistent producers like Torry Holt or Marvin Harrison. Outside of Owens, Funston is banking on Nate Burleson re-emerging in Seattle. Burleson, who had 1,006 yards receiving with the Vikings in 2004, came crashing to earth last season with just 30 catches for 328 yards while battling an assortment of injuries.

Tom Brady and Jake Plummer represent a formidable combination. Despite Plummer laying an egg in the AFC Championship Game, his stock went up when the Broncos acquired Javon Walker. Brady, who passed for a career-high 4,110 yards in 2005, is averaging 3,796 yards passing and 26 touchdowns the last four seasons making him one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league.

Readers may feel Funston reached with Chester Taylor as his No. 2 running back, but the Vikings signed Taylor from the Ravens during free agency to be their starter after allowing Michael Bennett to sign with the Saints. They further cleared the way by releasing Onterrio Smith. Taylor's main competition is Mewelde Moore, who likely won't concede easily. Warrick Dunn behind Taylor gives this roster insurance and a running back capable of producing No. 2 numbers.

Like Andre Snellings, Funston took a defense early with his selection of the Giants in Round 9, which in this writer's opinion is too early.

10Derek Van Riper, Eagles and Falcons beat writer, picked tenth and went with Steven Jackson, a powerful and versatile back coming off a 1,046 yard rushing and 10 total touchdown (eight rushing) 2005 season. His new cocah, offensive minded Scott Linehan, needs to remain committed to the run more than his predecessor Mike Martz in order for Jackson to reach his full potential.

Van Riper immediately addressed his second running back by taking Willis McGahee in Round 2. While McGahee rushed for 1,247 yards, five touchdowns didn't get it done last year. The Bills still have quarterback and offensive line issues, and don't appear improved on offense this season. Those factors will likely contribute to another long year for the former Hurricane star. Rookie DeAngelo Williams, selected in Round 5, is a viable choice as a No. 3 running back with potential to produce this season. Williams should see plenty of action if and when Carolina starter DeShaun Foster suffers his annual season-ending injury.

The two starting receivers, Chris Chambers and Reggie Wayne, are legitimate top 15 players. Chambers finally had his breakout season in 2005 with 82 catches for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns in his fifth season. If Daunte Culpepper is able to start the season, Chambers' value is unlimited given Culpepper's big arm and ability to deliver the ball downfield. Van Riper built depth by adding safe veterans Terry Glenn, who, like Jason Witten, should benefit from Terrell Owens' presence, and Eric Moulds.

Donovan McNabb, returning from a sports hernia injury, in the sixth round is about the right place to target him. Forget that Terrell Owens is no longer in Philadelphia; rather remember that McNabb was productive before Owens' arrival in 2004. Steve McNair may not be with Tennessee this summer, but he has value if he signs with the Ravens as expected. McNair would potentially be reunited with receiver Derrick Mason in Baltimore. McNair's presence would also boost Todd Heap's value, as McNair effectively used his tight ends in Tennessee.

11Mike Salfino of RotoAction.com selected eleventh and took LaMont Jordan with his first pick. Raiders owner Al Davis preached about the team's inability to establish a consistent running game last year, and new coach Art Shell was likely listening to his boss. Expect Jordan, who sometimes lashed out publicly about his lack of involvement last season, to receive plenty of touches.

Salfino's selection of Kevin Jones will raise eyebrows, but this pick makes sense despite Jones' disappointing 2005 season. Lions general manager Matt Millen thinks highly of the third-year back, referring to Jones as a special player late last year. The Lions brass probably sent marching orders to the new coaching staff, specifically offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who is widely regarded as an offensive guru, to get Jones involved. Likely sensing the run on running backs, Salfino used three of his first four picks on the position and selected Colts rookie Joseph Addai in Round 4. Addai will have to beat out Dominic Rhodes for the starting job, but one can see the rookie's potential in the Colts' offense.

Darrell Jackson's production in Seattle's offense is a virtual certainty provided he can remain healthy, but the intriguing player on this roster is Lee Evans. Entering his third-year, Evans is the undisputed No. 1 option for Buffalo with Eric Moulds now in Houston. The speedy receiver's production hinges on coach Marv Levy settling on a quarterback, and the ceiling is high considering Evan's big-play abilities.

Kurt Warner, selected in Round 7, may have rookie Matt Leinart to groom for the future, but he'll have Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and rookie tight end Leonard Pope as weapons for the present. Still, given Warner's durability concerns in recent seasons, it may be wise to save a roster spot for Leinart, who should also be successful throwing to Fitzgerald and Boldin. The selection of Jake Delhomme, who threw for 24 touchdowns last season, in Round 8 further reinforces a strategy to wait on quarterbacks.

Salfino may have struck gold with his selection of Kellen Winslow Jr. in Round 12. While Winslow sat out the 2005 season after a horrific motorcycle accident resulted in a blown out knee, he could end up being the steal of the draft considering his draft position.

12Jason Thornbury, RotoWire Content Editor and Seahawks beat writer, broke the run on running backs with consecutive picks to end Round 1 with Steve Smith followed by Peyton Manning to start Round 2. Thornbury obviously used the Value Based Draft, or VBD, in Rounds 1 and 2, but this strategy may have cost him viable running back options, as he took Dominic Rhodes in Round 3 and the oft-injured DeShaun Foster in Round 4 as his starters. While Rhodes has a 1,000-yard season on his resume from filling in for an injured Edgerrin James in 2001, he still has to hold off rookie Joseph Addai in training camp. Conversely, Foster, expected to be the starter in Carolina, faces competition from rookie DeAngelo Williams.

Because Thornbury was almost compelled to draft Rhodes and Foster based on Round 1 and 2, he missed out on the major wide receiver run in Rounds 2-4, therefore settling on Drew Bennett as his No. 2 receiver. The Titans may be going with either Billy Volek or rookie Vince Young under center if they release Steve McNair, and Bennett may not be consistent enough to produce numbers expected of a No. 2 fantasy receiver.

Thornbury recovered from early running back woes by securing the entire Titans backfield. LenDale White, selected in Round 10, could eventually emerge over injury prone starter Chris Brown, selected in Round 6, and backup Travis Henry, selected in Round 11. At the very least, White, listed at 237 pounds, will be involved in short-yardage and perhaps even goal line situations. Securing all three running backs affords Thornbury the luxury of choice and patience.

Tony Gonzalez is still playing a high level, as evidenced by his 78 catches for 905 yards last season, but just two touchdowns was highly alarming. Moreover, Gonazalez, 30, enters his 10th season and could begin experiencing a decline in overall production. Consider his touchdown receptions have gone from 10 in 2003, seven in 2004 to the aforementioned two scores last season. Given those factors, Round 5 may have been too early.

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How they ranked by postion according to order drafted

QuarterbackRunning BackWide ReceiverTight EndKickerDefense
1Peyton ManningLarry JohnsonSteve SmithAntonio GatesAdam VinatieriChicago Bears
2Matt HasselbeckShaun AlexanderTerrell OwensJeremy ShockeyMike VanderjagtNew York Giants
3Tom BradyLaDainian TomlinsonChad JohnsonTony GonzalezNeil RackersPittsburgh Steelers
4Donovan NcNabbTiki BarberMarvin HarrisonChris CooleyJason ElamIndianapolis Colts
5Trent GreenClinton PortisTorry HoltAlge CrumplerJosh BrownPhiladelphia Eagles
6Eli ManningEdgerrin JamesLarry FitzgeraldVernon DavisShayne GrahamCarolina Panthers
7Carson PalmerCarnell WilliamsRanday MossTodd HeapNate KeadingDallas Cowboys
8Marc BulgerRudi JohnsonAnquan BoldinJason WittenDavid AkersSeattle Seahawks
9Kurt WarnerRonnie BrownHines WardRandy McMichaelJay FeelyTampa Bay Bucs
10Jake DelhommeSteven JacksonChris ChambersHeath MillerJeff WilkinsWashington Redskins
11Daunte CulpepperLaMont JordanDarrell JacksonDallas ClarkRyan LongwellBaltimore Ravens
12Drew BledsoeKevin JonesReggie WayneKellen WinslowJeff ReedCincinnati Bengals
13Ben RoethlisbergerWillis McGaheeSantana MossBen Watson
14Byron LeeftwichDomanick DavisDonald DriverL.J. Smith
15Michael VickReggie BushJavon WalkerJerramy Stevens
16Drew BreesReuben DroughnsRoy WilliamsBen Troupe
17Brett FavreJulius JonesDeion BranchMarcedes Lewis
18Jake PlummerBrian WestbrookJoey GallowayLeonard Pope
19Aaron BrooksCorey DillonPlaxico Burress
20David CarrThomas JonesAndre Johnson
21Brad JohnsonWillie ParkerLee Evans
22Phillip RiversChester TaylorReggie Brown
23Jon KitnaDominic RhodesNate Burleson
24Steve McNairDeShaun FosterRod Smith
25Chris SimmsJoseph AddaiEddie Kennison
26Mark BrunellWarrick DunnT.J. Houshmandzadeh
27Vince YoungAhman GreenJimmy Smith
28 Tatum BellJoe Horn
29Jamal LewisDavid Givens
30Frank GoreDerrick Mason
31Deuce McAllisterTerry Glenn
32Fred TaylorDrew Bennett
33DeAngelo WilliamsDonte Stallworth
34Chris BrownLaveranues Coles
35Laurence MaroneyKoren Robinson
36Curtis MartinBrandon Lloyd
37Mike AndersonKeyshawn Johnson
38Priest HolmesJerry Porter
39Cedric BensonMushin Muhammad
40Marion BarberAntonio Bryant
41Ron DayneEric Moulds
42Samkon GadoMark Clayton
43Mewelde MooreBraylon Edwards
44LenDale WhiteKevin Curtis
45Greg JonesIssac Bruce
46Kevan BarlowMike Williams
47T.J. DuckettSantonio Holmes
48Chris PerryJoe Jurevicius
49Ryan MoatsMatt Jones
50Maurice DrewKeenan McCardell
51Tavis HenryChad Jackson
52Michael TurnerMichael Clayton
53Brian CalhounMichael Jenkins
54Duce StaleyCharles Rogers
55Michael PittmanAshley Lelie
56Bradon JacobsTroy Williamson
57Anthony ThomasSammie Parker
58Verron HayesSinorice Moss
59Lee SuggsMark Bradley
60Amani Toomer
61Justin McCareins
62Marcus Robinson
63Chris Henry
64Antwaan Randle El

The drafters weigh in

Best Team: Snellings (2), Beller (2), Blunda (2), Liss (2)

Best Value: Donovan McNabb (2), LenDale White (2), Jerry Porter (2), numerous players receiving one vote each.

Worst Value: Adam Vinatieri (2), numerous players receiving one vote each.

Article first appeared 05/10/06

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Herbie Teope
Herbie Teope writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire
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