Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2014

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Team reporters play GM for first round

Here is Sun staffer Dave Mondt's take on how the first round will go:

1. San Francisco -- Alex Smith, QB, Utah

2. Miami -- Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn

3. Cleveland -- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal

4. Chicago -- Mike Williams, WR, Southern Cal

5. Tampa Bay -- Cadillac Williams, RB, Auburn

6. Tennessee -- Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan

7. Minnesota -- Shawne Merriman, DE, Maryland

8. Arizona -- Cedric Benson, RB, Texas

9. Washington -- Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami

10. Detroit -- Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas

11. Dallas -- Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn

12. San Diego -- Troy Williamson, WR, S. Carolina

13. Houston -- Marcus Spears, DE, LSU

14. Carolina -- Jammal Brown, OL, Oklahoma

15. Kansas City -- Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State

16. New Orleans -- Thomas Davis, LB-S, Georgia

17. Cincinnati -- Shaun Cody, DT, Southern Cal

18. Minnesota -- Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma

19. St. Louis -- PacMan Jones, CB, West Virginia

20. Dallas -- Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin

21. Jacksonville -- David Pollack, DE, Georgia

22. Baltimore -- Dan Cody, OLB/DE, Oklahoma

23. Seattle -- Demarcus Ware, OLB/DE, Troy State

24. Green Bay -- David Baas, OG, Michigan

25. Washington -- Roddy White, WR, UAB

26. Oakland -- Matt Roth, DE, Iowa

27. Atlanta -- Alex Barron, OT, Florida State

28. San Diego -- Justin Miller, CB, Clemson

29. Indianapolis -- Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin

30. Pittsburgh -- Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska

31. PHI -- Heath Miller, TE, Virginia

32. NE -- Channing Crowder, LB, Florida

Utah quarterback Alex Smith is being touted by several scouting services and NFL draft experts as the best player available in Saturday's draft, and a likely choice to be taken first overall by the San Francisco 49ers.

Or at least second by the Miami Dolphins.

And if not then, certainly third by the Cleveland Browns. Or to some team willing to trade up.

But a collection of 28 journalists chosen to play GM for the teams they cover left Alex Smith completely out of the first round.

The conclusion to be drawn from that is one of four:

To be fair to the journalists chosen to participate, this was a monthlong process, so several team needs may have been addressed through free agency after teams picking in the top half of the round had already made their choices.

And other than the occasional hiccup, which happens even in the real-life NFL draft, when teams like Buffalo (Willis McGahee), Kansas City (Larry Johnson), Oakland (Sebastian Janikowski) and the Rams (Stephen Jackson) throw everyone off the trail by choosing a player in a position not considered a "need" for their team, the selections look pretty standard.

Here's a look at who picked whom:

1. San Francisco: Not scared off by the Jeff Tedford jinx that has haunted Dilfer, Kyle Boller, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington and A.J. Feeley, Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle went with Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a lifelong West Coast boy and 49ers fan.

2. Miami: David Moulton, a radio host for WWCN in Fort Myers, Fla., ignores Nick Saban's insistence on not taking a running back and goes against the masses by taking the other guy from from Auburn, Carnell Williams.

3. Cleveland: The first of the puzzling pass-overs of Alex Smith, Carlos Holmes of the Dayton Daily News chooses to beef up the Browns' defense with Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson, which might not be such a bad pick considering new coach Romeo Crennel is a defensive-minded guy.

4. Chicago: Chicago Tribune writer David Haugh pairs newly signed Muhsin Muhammad with even bigger wideout Mike Williams, which is sure to make Rex Grossman smile.

5. Tampa Bay: Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune, takes Cadillac's backup at Auburn, running back Ronnie Brown. "He's 230 pounds and Gruden says he's got the best hands in the draft," Kaufman says.

6. Tennessee: With starting running back Chris Brown unable to stay healthy, Tennesseean writer Paul Kuharsky figures the Titans will nab productive Texas halfback Cedric Benson, but with a caveat -- "though in such a scenario they should take Braylon Edwards," he says.

7. Minnesota: Who will replace Randy Moss? The aforementioned Braylon Edwards, according to the Charley Walters of the St. Pioneer Press.

8. Arizona: Darren Urban, of the East Valley Tribune, has the Cardinals passing on Alex Smith to replace a Hurricane with a Hurricane, with cornerback Antrel Rolle pencilled in to start at Duane Starks' old spot.

9. Washington David Elfin, of The Washington Times, made the selection of West Virginia cornerback Adam Jones well before the news came out why this PacMan had the munchies so bad.

10. Detroit: Curt Sylvester, of the Detroit Free Press, says, "Can't believe Alex Smith of Utah hasn't been taken yet. Under this scenario, I'd guess the Lions would try to trade down but if I have to take somebody for the Lions at No. 10, I'd give them DE/OLB Shawne Merriman of Maryland."

11. Dallas: Todd Archer, of the Dallas Morning News, addresses the Cowboys' need for a pass rusher with small-school product Demarcus Ware of Troy State, who played defensive end in college but would play linebacker as Dallas moves to a 3-4 defensive alignment.

12. San Diego: With the Chargers being the closest thing Las Vegas has to a hometown team by virtue of proximity, the Sun's Dave Mondt (um, that's me) picked big and fast Troy Williamson out of South Carolina. And so should the Chargers, if he's there.

13. Houston: Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle tabs Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James as a solution for the Texans' line problems.

14. Carolina: The Panthers replaced 80 percent of their starting offensive line after winning the NFC two seasons ago. The Charlotte Observer's Pat Yasinskas noticed that drop-off in play, and takes right tackle Jammal Brown of Oklahoma to team with third-year left tackleJordan Gross for the next 10 years.

15. Kansas City: The Chiefs have addressed linebacker, defensive end and safety through free agency. Up next, cornerback, says Kansas City Star beat writer Adam Teicher, who gives his team the gift of Auburn's Carlos Rogers.

16. New Orleans: "Give the Saints Thomas Davis of Georgia. They'll play him at weakside linebacker, a real need spot for them," says Jeffrey Duncan of the Times-Picayune.

17. Cincinnati: Wide receiver isn't considered a need for the Bengals, even if Peter Warrick is never the same again. They already have Chad Johnson, re-signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh and can go three-wide with Kelley Washington. Still, Mark Curnutte of the Cincinnati Enquirer felt that the value represented by Oklahoma's Mark Clayton was too rich to pass on. (It should be noted that Chick Ludwig, of the Dayton Daily News, put in a request for Southern Cal defensive lineman Shaun Cody, but by the time his response came in, 10 more selections had been made.)

18. Minnesota: Kevin Seifert of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune makes a surprise pick with Virginia tight end Heath Miller, giving the Vikings two offensive players in the first round following an offseason dedicated to improving the defense.

19. St. Louis: The Rams have question marks all over their defense, but if quarterback Marc Bulger is going to make it through another season playing in that style of offense, St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Jim Thomas figures the Rams need to do a better job protecting him. Thus, the pick is Florida State offensive tackle Alex Barron.

20. Dallas: Too perfect to happen. Todd Archer of the Morning News snags the prototypical 3-4 defensive end in this draft, LSU's Marcus Spears.

21. Jacksonville: The Jaguars have tried everything at defensive end to get a pass rush. Bart Hubbuch of the Florida Times-Union has the answer in lightweight-but-feisty Dan Cody of Oklahoma.

22. Baltimore: Following the Ravens' pattern of turning college defensive linemen into pro linebackers (Peter Boulware, Terrell Suggs, Adalius Thomas), Brent Jones of the Baltimore Sun gives his team Georgia's David Pollack.

23. Seattle: Clare Farnsworth, of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, files a formal protest since Brent Jones took his guy. He settles for Clemson defensive back Justin Miller to try to replace departed Ken Lucas.

24. Green Bay: Four different writers were contacted, and all gave the same name -- Iowa defensive end Matt Roth. The first to respond was Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Probably the third team in the past 10 picks that could have traded down for someone else to take Alex Smith, or else picked Smith themselves to groom as a replacement for aged starters.

25. Washington: Initially, Denver Post beat writer Bill Williamson was contacted for this pick and chose Fabian Washington, but after the Redskins traded up, Elfin was gracious enough to make a second selection, going with UAB wide receiver Roddy White .

26. Oakland: New York Post writer Mark Cannizaro favored Oklahoma safety Brodney Pool, the fourth Sooner to be selected, but then the Jets traded the pick, and at the 11th hour I filled in Marlin Jackson.

27. Atlanta: Matt Winkeljohn of the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, like Chick Ludwig before him, coveted Shaun Cody. But AJ-C cohort Ken Suguira got in first, taking Justin Tuck of Notre Dame to add to the Falcons' already potent pass rush.

28. San Diego: I say Shaun Cody would fit right into the Chargers' defensive end rotation in the 3-4. So he stays in Southern California.

29. Indianapolis: Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star addresses the Colts' defense, since the Colts themselves usually don't. He takes Southern Cal defensive tackle Mike Patterson. "I will be shocked if the colts go anyother way than defense in the first round. the team's biggest need is linebacker, but from what i've seen, neither Channing Crowder nor Barrett Ruud warrants a first-round selection, so ... either Patterson or maybe Travis Johnson."

30. Pittsburgh: Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beefs up the offensive line with Marcus Johnson of Mississippi.

31. Philadelphia: Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer must figure Florida State has been pretty good to the Eagles (Tra Thomas, Corey Simon), so he goes with defensive tackle Travis Johnson.

32. New England: With Tedy Bruschi's health situation unsettled following a stroke, the Patriots need to address their linebacker situation. Jerome Solomon, of the Boston Globe, gives them Nebraska's all-time leading tackler, Barrett Ruud.

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