Annually, the NFL Draft marks a team’s final opportunity to put the finishing touches on a roster capable of Super Bowl glory. This season the Houston Texans have “won” the right to arguably the best pro prospect in decades, Reggie Bush. Also, the Philadelphia Eagles still have holes that need to be filled in order to rebound from a dismal 6-10 season. Here is Craig Gould’s prediction of how the draft will play out. Houston Texans: Reggie Bush, RB, USC. By opting to extend David Carr’s contract, there’s no way they’re passing up Bush for a quarterback. While the Texans are intrigued by possibly drafting Vince Young, there are just too many questions regarding his ability to control an offense and his shaky Wonderlic Test Scores.
New Orleans Saints: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia. If they stand pat, Ferguson will be the pick, but look for the Saints to trade down, possibly to number four or five since this spot would likely go to Leinart or Young
Tennessee Titans: Matt Leinart, QB, USC. Young has impressed the Titans in the combine with his athleticism, but offensive coordinator Norm Chow knows how good Leinart is and can be. Look for the Titans to take more of the sure thing with Leinart.
New York Jets: Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State. Williams is a defensive freak of nature and has been compared to Julius Peppers. Don’t rule out the Jets trading down a few spots for the right deal. After trading defensive end John Abraham to the Falcons, Williams seems like the sensible pick.
Green Bay Packers: A.J. Hawk, OLB, Ohio State. Look for the Packers to go defensive here. The defensive backfield could use some help, so look for them to take Hawk, the draft’s highest rated linebacker with this pick.
San Francisco 49ers: Michael Huff, CB/S, Texas. The 49ers will probably be looking to gather multiple picks and will probably trade down into the first round for additional picks. If they opt not to, the defense needs major upgrades and Huff is the highest ranked defensive player remaining.
Oakland Raiders: Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland. Oakland could use another weapon on offense to free up Randy Moss and Vernon Davis is a high impact player, similar to Antonio Gates. The Raiders would have extremely tough match-ups for their opponents with Moss and Jerry Porter on opposites sides and Davis stretching the middle of the field.
Buffalo Bills: Winston Justice, OT, USC. After a great workout, scouts love Justice’s athleticism for a lineman and need to free up some more time for incumbent quarterback J.P. Losman. Buffalo could trade down, as most teams would love to trade up and select Vince Young with this pick.
Detroit Lions: Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech. With the Lions signing former Cincinnati quarterback Jon Kitna and Cardinals’ backup Josh McCown, the Lions seem unlikely to select Young. The Lions would love to get Huff here, but will settle for the cover corner from Virginia Tech. Williams has been known as somewhat of a hothead and has attitude problems as well.
Arizona Cardinals: Vince Young, QB, Texas. Finally, someone selects Young. The Cardinals have the perfect situation for Young to fall in to; they have signed Kurt Warner for three more seasons and have the best young wide receiver tandem in football with Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Also, head coach Denny Green has worked with mobile quarterbacks before with Daunte Culpepper and Randall Cunningham.
St. Louis Rams: Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt. Cutler is your typical combine workout stud: great athleticism and arm strength. The Rams don’t necessarily need a quarterback, but this is a value pick. Bulger has been getting dinged up in recent seasons and Cutler could use a year or two of grooming.
Cleveland Browns: Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State. Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense is looking for a tackle to plug up the middle. Bunkley fits that mold.
Baltimore Ravens: Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State. With talk of moving Ray Lewis and some holes in their once impregnable defense, Sims seems like a likely pick here. His athleticism and quickness to get to sideline to sideline fits well in the 3-4 structure.
Philadelphia Eagles: Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon. The Eagles need some defensive line help and Ngata looks very nice next to Mike Patterson in the middle for the next decade. A wide out or linebacker could also be used here, but the Eagles start with the line on both sides of the ball. With no offensive line options here, Ngata seems likely.
Denver Broncos (from Atlanta): Chad Jackson, WR, Florida. With the Broncos missing out on Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson, Chad Jackson looks like a good fit here.
Miami Dolphins: Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina. After Sam Madison signed with the Giants, the Dophins will be looking for some secondary help, most notably at the corner. After some success in the SEC, look for Joseph to continue hawking wide outs in the AFC East.
Minnesota Vikings: Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State. After the Vikings signed Chester Taylor from Baltimore, running back is no longer a big a need. Defense is the pick here. New head coach Brad Childress would love to see Cutler fall to this spot, but that’s highly unlikely.
Dallas Cowboys: Jason Allen, FS, Tennessee. Allen is a big question mark due to a hip injury he sustained in college, but has huge upside. Paired up with Roy Williams, this tandem could be a great one. If the Cowboys feel he’s relatively risk-free, he could be the immediate starter at free safety.
San Diego Chargers: Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State. Holmes has electric speed and could be extremely useful for new starting quarterback, Philip Rivers.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tye Hill, CB, Clemson. The Chiefs are still going defense to match their explosive offense. Secondary is still a big need, especially after Eric Warfield has left for New England
New England Patriots: LenDale White, RB, USC. With Corey Dillion breaking down last season, the Patriots could use another solid running option. White or Deangelo Williams could be the pick here.
Denver Broncos (from Washington): Manny Lawson, DE/OLB, N.C. State. After selecting wide receiver Chad Jackson, the Broncos are forces to take some defense with this pick. With superstar corner Champ Bailey and a solid linebacking core, the line is the way to go here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State. With Simeon Rice aging and becoming a salary cap nightmare, Hali could be selected to be groomed into his replacement.
Cincinnati Bengals: Leonard Pope, TE, Georgia. The Bengals already have explosive wide receiver Chad Johnson on the outside. Pope could be used to stretch the middle of the field and give Carson Palmer another weapon to use.
New York Giants- Chad Greenway, OLB, Iowa. Unless the G-Men can sign Lavar Arrington, Greenway is the pick. Greenway has been ranked as high as 10-12th picks, but his stock has dropped from some poor showings at the combine. The Giants could use his speed to improve their lackluster linebackers
Chicago Bears: Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami. The Bears could definitely use another playmaker along side Muhsin Muhammad. The Bears have a crew of young receivers but none as electrifying as Moss. He just adds that big-play dimension. Moss has also proved to be extremely dangerous as a return man.
Carolina Panthers: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis. After the release of Stephen Davis and the injury risk shown by DeShaun Foster, Williams could be a high reward pick here at No. 27.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Kamerion Wimbley, OLB/DE, Florida State. Wimbley will be a nice addition to the Jaguars improving defense. He can play both end and outside linebacker. He’ll add an outside pass rush to the edge for the Jags.
New York Jets (from Denver): Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State. After the release of Kevin M
awae, The Jets have a huge hole in the center of their line. Mangold is versatile enough to play guard or center and would definitely help the Jets run and pass protection.
Indianapolis Colts: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota. With Edgerrin James leaving town, the Colts cannot rely on Dominic Rhodes. Maroney is recovering from a hamstring injury but it isn’t considered serious.
Seattle Seahawks: Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State. The Seahawks could use another offensive lineman here after losing Steve Hutchinson, but none too highly ranked here. Look for them to select one in the second round and take the best overall player here.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State. The Steelers and their 3-4 defense always value linebackers very high and could use another one here.