There have been years where I started doing these things in March and ended up doing five or six different mock drafts. So, I did used to be stupid. Now, I'm less stupid. I know better.
This my mock draft. It is the first. It is the only. It is my "final answer". It has no chance of being right.
Drop some comments or send me an e-mail if you'd like to discuss any of the picks, the needs of the individual teams involved. I'll be watching with you on Saturday as the draft begins, because I'm just as riveted by names rolling across the bottom of the TV screen as you could possibly imagine someone being.
1. Houston - Reggie Bush, RB, USC. Duh. Don't buy the hype. Bush is the most talented player in this draft, and he has the potential to be a true difference-maker in the league if he can show the ability to handle the punishment of being a #1 running back.
2. New Orleans - Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State. I don't buy the idea that the Saints will take a QB. They spent too much money on Drew Brees to have him in and out for one season. The Saints are probably the top candidate for a trade-down, but they need to find the right offer or they will stay put and bolster their defense with Williams, an outstanding playmaker with tremendous upside.
3. Tennessee - Matt Leinart, QB, USC. Much like the talk of the Saints drafting a QB, I'm having trouble buying the idea that the Titans will draft Vince Young. Leinart is a better fit for the Titans' need, being that he can probably start immediately if Tennessee doesn't work things out with Steve McNair. Yes, Young could learn a lot from McNair, but who will he learn from if McNair departs, as is probably going to happen? Is Billy Volek going to do the teaching?
4. New York Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia. First off, I'm not going to tell any "D'Brickashaw" jokes. He'd kill me. And I think it's a great name for a lineman. Ferguson will anchor the Jets' offensive line for a decade or more, or at least that's what the Jets will hope.
5. Green Bay - A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State. Hawk starts immediately on this defense, and with the signings of Ryan Pickett, Marquand Manuel, and Charles Woodson, the Packers defense will be vastly improved.
6. San Francisco - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland. Finally, the 49ers get a tight end who can stretch the field. Davis will help young QB Alex Smith a great deal as Smith continues to develop.
7. Oakland - Vince Young, QB, Texas. It's not a great need for the Raiders, but Young is too talented to pass up here, and the Raiders know they have a situation where Young can develop and prepare for a year before he takes over.
8. Buffalo - Winston Justice, OT, USC. He may be a bit of a reach here because of character concerns, but the Bills need a tackle, and Justice is a great talent who should start immediately.
9. Detroit - Michael Huff, DB, Texas. Instead of drafting another wide receiver, Matt Millen does something smart, giving new head coach Rod Marinelli the kind of physical difference-maker he wants on defense. Huff might be a better fit at safety, but he can also play corner because of his exceptional speed and instincts.
10. Arizona - Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State. Pairing Sims with Karlos Dansby would give Denny Green a dangerous group of linebackers, and the Cardinals know they have the offense put together well enough for the time being.
11. St. Louis - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt. The Rams might not need a quarterback right now, but with the issues Marc Bulger has had staying healthy, they'd be wise to draft Cutler here. He'd be a perfect fit for Scott Linehan's offense.
12. Cleveland - Broderick Bunkley, DT, Florida State. The Browns need to beef up the middle of their defense, and Bunkley is a nice prospect who, despite concerns about his work ethic and character, has been a riser on most draft boards as of late.
13. Baltimore - Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon. Inexplicably, Ngata has been downgraded by some teams as of late. He's a much more NFL-ready prospect than Bunkley, and he's a great get here for the Ravens, who would love to get a big body for the DT position so Ray Lewis can be quiet and focus on the upcoming season.
14. Philadelphia - Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa. The Eagles have some needs on both lines, but there aren't any players available with this pick that fit those needs. Instead, the Eagles will fill another hole on defense by getting Greenway, an athletic linebacker who can hit with the best of them.
15. Denver - Chad Jackson, WR, Florida. This is heavenly for Denver. The Broncos don't have faith in Ashley Lelie, and they want to get a future #1 receiver out of this draft. Jackson is one of only a handful of quality prospects at the position.
16. Miami - Kamerion Wimbley, LB/DE, Florida State. The Dolphins could pick just about anyone here. They've done a good job in free agency, and Wimbley would be a dream pick for the Fish if he were available here. The Dolphins have enough talent on defense to allow Wimbley to develop.
17. Minnesota - Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina. This is another team that has done a pretty good job in free agency, but the Vikings have holes. Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot are the only proven cornerbacks on the roster, and Smoot is coming off a rough first season in Minnesota where he lost his starting job to Brian Williams. Joseph has the upside to eventually become a starter, and he can play immediately as the Vikings' nickel corner.
18. Dallas - Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State. I think Dallas will draft a defensive player, and Whitner would give the Cowboys a potentially great player paired with Roy Williams. They could also get a rush linebacker to play opposite DeMarcus Ware in the 3-4 defense that coach Bill Parcells has done a magnificent job building in the past year.
19. San Diego - Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State. While the Chargers still have the pre-eminent pass-catching tight end in the game in Antonio Gates, they are still lacking a big-play threat on the outside. Holmes isn't an ideal prospect, but he has the upside that suggests he could be a very good pro. With Phil Rivers now at QB, I expect the Chargers to try to get him some more help.
20. Kansas City - Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State. For a guy who missed all of 2005 with a knee injury, Cromartie is a quick riser on the board. He has ideal height, quickness, and ball skills, and he's apparently shown scouts he is going to be ready to play as a rookie after his lost season last year.
21. New England - D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Maryland. I have Jackson rated as a second-rounder, and many boards I've looked at appear similar. But the Patriots need a linebacker, and they are good at going outside the box to find their starters. Jackson was extremely productive in college, and he's a smart player who should be a great fit in the Patriots' system.
22. San Francisco - Manny Lawson, DE, North Carolina State. With a second first-round pick, the 49ers have a chance to bolster their pass rush. Lawson could play as a rush outside linebacker in Mike Nolan's 3-4.
23. Tampa Bay - Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech. There are character and effort concerns with Williams, but he has top ten talent and can't fall forever. He has great talent, and it's not likely that he'll get away with poor effort while playing for Jon Gruden.
24. Cincinnati - Tye Hill, CB, Clemson. The Bengals would like to get someone to help the middle of their defensive front seven, which still needs some work. But the Bengals also need an upgrade at the cornerback position. Hill has fallen a bit because of the upside of Cromartie and the question marks surrounding Williams, but Hill is a solid first-rounder.
25. N.Y. Giants - Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State. Carpenter, the son of a former Giant, is the best LB on the board here, and even with the presence of LaVar Arrington, the Giants know they have to get better. They could decide to go with an offensive player to help Eli Manning out, but there aren't any great fits available here.
26. Chicago - Jason Allen, S, Tennessee. The Bears signed Ricky Manning to help out at corner, and Manning's character issues aside, they don't need another body at that position. They do, however, need help at safety, and Allen can play safety as well as corner in the NFL.
27. Carolina - Mercedes Lewis, TE, UCLA. Lewis would be a great fit in the Panthers' offense. He takes a lot of pressure off of Steve Smith to produce in the passing game, and he gives QB Jake Delhomme a big target in the unlikely event that someone can actually cover Smith.
28. Jacksonville - Thomas Howard, LB, UTEP. The Jaguars could aim for a tight end or a defensive lineman here, but Howard is the pick.
29. N.Y. Jets - DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis. A replacement for Curtis Martin should come out of this draft, and Williams is certainly a solid prospect. In a different year (read: a year where teams actually need running backs), Williams goes in the top 15.
30. Indianapolis - Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota. The Colts would be delighted to see Maroney "fall" this far after they lost Edgerrin James in free agency.
31. Seattle - Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State. The defending NFC champions don't have many gaping holes, but they do need to upgrade their depth at defensive back. Youboty could contribute immediately for most NFL defenses.
32. Pittsburgh - Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami (FL). Moss could step into an Antwaan Randle-El role in the Steelers' offense, and wide receiver is the closest thing the Steelers have to a pressing need right now.