Vic Carucci - April 10, 2004 -- In light of the April 9 trade that saw the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals swap first-round draft picks, here's an updated early look at how the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft could unfold:
1. San Diego: Eli Manning, quarterback, Mississippi Analysis: Although there are all sorts of rumblings about the Chargers trading out of this pick, it continues to be theirs and it continues to look as if Manning is their choice for long-term quarterback stability. Analysts who have studied videotape of Manning's pre-draft workouts weren't as overwhelmed as one would expect for a projected top overall pick. The Chargers shouldn't fear they might be getting another Ryan Leaf, but there doesn't seem to be much of a talent gap between Manning and the next two highly rated quarterbacks in the draft, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.
2. Oakland: Robert Gallery, offensive tackle, Iowa Analysis: Gallery has all the makings of a dominant tackle for many years to come, which is the best possible way for the Raiders to address a crying need. They might be tempted to select Ben Roethlisberger or Larry Fitzgerald, but Gallery is capable of enhancing the passing game even if it consists mostly of aging skill players.
3. Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Analysis: This pick places Dennis Green's unmistakable stamp on the second "turnaround program" -- he never uses the term "rebuilding" -- of his coaching career. He is determined to put together another high-powered offense like the one he had in Minnesota, and Fitzgerald, whom he has known since the former Pitt standout hung out at the Vikings' training facilities as a youngster while his father covered the team for a Minnesota weekly newspaper, represents an ideal main ingredient.
4. New York Giants: Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Miami (Ohio) Analysis: The Giants would love to select Gallery, but it doesn't seem possible as long as they stay in this spot. With Kerry Collins probably headed for free agency next year, the Giants need to begin grooming a quarterback of the future. Roethlisberger seems to possess all of the primary qualities Tom Coughlin considers vital for the position -- smarts, discipline, poise and leadership.
5. Washington: Tommie Harris, defensive tackle, Oklahoma Analysis: The Redskins could always go with offense here and select Miami tight end Kellen Winslow. Still, Harris seems to nicely fill a glaring need up front. He has good upper-body strength and overall power, although his most lasting impact will result from exceptional quickness and penetration in pass-rushing situations.
6. Detroit: Kellen Winslow Jr., tight end, Miami (Fla.) Analysis: The Lions need a running back, but there doesn't appear to be one worthy of selection this high. They also could be thinking defense, but Steve Mariucci's greater concern is getting more production from Joey Harrington and the rest of his passing game. Winslow is capable of making that kind of a difference.
7. Cleveland: Sean Taylor, safety, Miami (Fla.) Analysis: The Browns could go in a variety of directions, offensively and defensively. But it's hard to see Butch Davis passing up a chance to select one of the best pure defensive players of the draft and someone he influenced to attend Miami when Davis coached the Hurricanes. Taylor's unimpressive Pro Day workout shouldn't overshadow his immense talent and big-hitting style that Davis craves for his defense.
8. Atlanta: Mike Williams, wide receiver, USC Analysis: For now, Williams is eligible for the draft, so on that basis he would be the best available choice to give Michael Vick a much-needed game-breaking alternative to Peerless Price. If an appeals court ruling ends up knocking Williams out of the draft, which is entirely possible, the Falcons still would probably go with a receiver (such as Roy Williams) rather than seek the defensive help they also need.
9. Jacksonville: Kenechi Udeze, defensive end, USC Analysis: The Jaguars have said goodbye to Tony Brackens and weren't thrilled with the production of Hugh Douglas last season. They need a top-notch, pass-rushing end, and Udeze is the best one on the board.
10. Houston: DeAngelo Hall, cornerback, Virginia Tech Analysis: The Texans could end up in a position to choose between the two best cornerbacks in the draft -- Hall or Dunta Robinson of South Carolina. Both showed incredible speed at the combine, running 4.35 and 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, respectively. Hall looks to have the edge in man-to-man coverage, a must for a cornerback in Dom Capers' aggressive, blitz-happy scheme.
11. Pittsburgh: Philip Rivers, quarterback, North Carolina State Analysis: The Steelers will be tempted to take one of the two standout cornerbacks who should still be available, but they want to land their quarterback of the future, and all indications are that they hold Rivers in high regard.
12. New York Jets: Dunta Robinson, cornerback, South Carolina Analysis: He has the blazing speed that Herman Edwards desires on defense. He also is tough and physical enough to effectively jam receivers at the line, a good quality considering that officials will likely be throwing more flags for contact beyond five yards. The Jets will give consideration to a linebacker here, making Miami's D.J. Williams a distinct possibility as well.
13. Buffalo Bills: Will Smith, defensive end, Ohio State Analysis: The Bills must put more teeth into their pass rush, and it seems unlikely they will resist a chance to land one of two exceptional pass-rushing ends that should be available -- Kenechi Udeze or Smith. Of course, the Bills do need a quarterback of the future, and if Rivers is here, he will merit strong consideration. They also need a big-time receiver, and they will probably take a long look at Roy Williams, Mike Williams (if he is eligible and falls this far) or any of the other talented wideouts on the board.
14. Chicago: Vince Wilfork, defensive tackle, Miami (Fla.) Analysis: Big, strong, quick. Wilfork has everything Lovie Smith could want in an anchor for the middle of his defense, including effectiveness as an inside pass rusher.
15. Tampa Bay: Roy Williams, wide receiver, Texas Analysis: The Buccaneers could easily go with a running back here, but if Williams slips this far down, Jon Gruden just might be inclined to grab him with his first first-round pick since arriving in Tampa Bay. Williams possesses the size, strength and athleticism that make him ideal for the Bucs' horizontal passing game. At some point, he could be catching passes from former Texas teammate Chris Simms.
16. San Francisco: Reggie Williams, wide receiver, Washington Analysis: The 49ers' need for a receiver is glaring, to say the least. Filling the gaping holes left by Terrell Owens and Tai Streets won't be easy, but Williams' soft hands and excellent playmaking are a pretty good start.
17. Denver: Steven Jackson, running back, Oregon State Analysis: The Broncos would like to add another running back to the mix of possible replacements for Clinton Portis. By moving up from 24th to 17th, they should be able to get the best in the draft, something Jackson re-affirmed with an impressive pro day.
18. New Orleans: Jonathan Vilma, linebacker, Miami (Fla.) Analysis: Although he doesn't have great size for an inside linebacker, Vilma more than makes up for it with instincts and intelligence. Another possibility here is one of Vilma's former Hurricane teammates, outside linebacker D.J. Williams.
19. Minnesota: Vernon Carey, offensive guard, Miami Analysis: With little chance of grabbing one of the two elite defensive ends of the draft, the Vikings will be happy for the chance to select the draft's best interior offensive lineman who has the size, strength and knowledge beyond his years to start as a rookie.
20. Miami: Shawn Andrews, offensive tackle, Arkansas Analysis: At 6-foot-6 and 365 pounds, Andrews has the strength to be a major force as a run blocker, yet he also has the footwork to upgrade the Dolphins' pass protection.
21. New England: Kevin Jones, running back, Virginia Tech Analysis: The Patriots need a running back, and before the Denver-Cincinnati trade, they might have had a shot at Steven Jackson here. With Jackson likely gone to the Broncos, the Pats will be happy to get Jones, a superb outside runner. Another consideration is Michigan's Chris Perry, who is far more physical and a much better inside runner than Jones.
22. Dallas: Chris Perry, running back, Michigan Analysis: Presuming the Patriots go with Kevin Jones, Perry looks like a good fit with Bill Parcells, who likes tough, inside runners.
23. Seattle: Marcus Tubbs, defensive tackle, Texas Analysis: After John Randle's retirement, the Seahawks need to address their interior defensive line. They could very well go with Randy Starks of Maryland, but seem to be leaning toward the former Longhorn. Tubbs eats up plenty of space in the middle, allowing him to be a solid run-stuffer. He has good quickness, although he doesn't rush the passer as well as he should.
24. Cincinnati: Randy Starks, defensive tackle, Maryland Analysis: Now that they've acquired Deltha O'Neal from Denver, the Bengals no longer have to draft a cornerback, which seemed likely when they owned the 17th pick. In this spot, the Bengals should be able to address another pressing need by selecting Starks, who is mainly a run-stuffer but also has some athleticism to provide some inside pass rush.
25. Green Bay: J.P. Losman, quarterback, Tulane Analysis: Finding Brett Favre's eventual replacement is a priority. The Packers would love Rivers to fall all the way down to them here, but that doesn't seem likely. Losman would make a pretty good choice, despite his lack of size. He has a strong, though not terribly accurate, arm and good athleticism. If the Packers ever do work out a trade with Cleveland for Tim Couch, they will obviously look to another position, such as receiver, with this pick.
26. St. Louis: Antwan Odom, defensive end, Alabama Analysis: Having lost Grant Wistrom in free agency, the Rams have to find a replacement at defensive end. Odom is as good as any this late in the first round.
27. Tennessee: Justin Smiley, offensive guard, Alabama Analysis: The Titans certainly could use a defensive end to replace Jevon Kearse, but they aren't likely to find one they truly consider a first-rounder at this point. On the other hand, they could make a great value pick in Smiley, whose stock has been soaring, and address another need.
28. Philadelphia: Karlos Dansby, linebacker, Auburn Analysis: Kearse instantly improves the Eagles' pass rush. Dansby can make it even better as a solid replacement at outside linebacker for Carlos Emmons.
29. Indianapolis: Derrick Strait, cornerback, Oklahoma Analysis: The Colts have a crying need at cornerback, and Strait's size, speed and toughness would make him a nice addition to their secondary.
30. Kansas City: Michael Clayton, wide receiver, LSU Analysis: Clayton could be the big, strong, athletic target the Chiefs need to upgrade their receiving corps.
31. Carolina: Ben Troupe, tight end, Florida Analysis: Troupe's ability to catch passes over the middle should help draw some coverage away from Steve Smith and make Jake Delhomme more productive.
32. New England: Chris Snee, offensive guard, Boston College Analysis: The Patriots are turning to another former Boston College Eagle to fill an interior line spot, which makes sense given the success they've had with current center Dan Koppen and former guard Damien Woody.