The catch of the draft

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

More Robinson: Mock draft

Nearly two months ago, Mike Williams was begging for a little patience. The USC wide receiver, who was an enigma after taking a year off from football, insisted his percolating talent would "seal the deal" when it came to his NFL draft status.

"These guys have been in this business long enough to know football," Williams said of the teams studying him. "They've been in the business long enough to know a football player."

The scouting combine is over. The pro day workouts have concluded. Only a sparse few personal workouts remain. And after all the calculating, Williams was right: The deal has been sealed. He's a football player – quite possibly the most talented available in this year's draft.

While Williams started out on the fringe of our top 10 prospects (10th overall before the combine), he made steady jumps every few weeks. Now he's settled at the top of the heap, just an eyelash ahead of Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards. And although Williams won't go No. 1 overall – and may not even be selected ahead of Edwards – he's shown that he has the draft's most unique combination of measurables and intangibles.

Here is our final look at the draft's top 10 talents, based on everything they've shown since the 2004 college season ended.


1. Mike Williams, WR, Southern Cal (6-foot-5, 229 pounds)
The overall combination of size, speed and playmaking ability give Williams the final nod as the draft's top talent. While Michigan's Braylon Edwards has equally impressive stats, Williams has better size and still clocks in the mid-4.5-second range in the 40-yard dash. He also has top-notch hands, and his body control and athleticism blew teams away in workouts. Many scouts believe that had he played in 2004 he easily would have entered the combine as the No. 1 prospect in the draft, rather than having to earn his way back into the spot. His workouts and interviews all have drawn great reviews, too.

2. Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan (6-3, 211)
Really, he's neck and neck with Williams. They both deserve the tag as the draft's No. 1 talent. It was thought Edwards' superior speed would give him the edge, but he ran about 4.45 to 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash when some scouts thought he could run a sub 4.4. He also measured slightly shorter than 6-3. Still, he has huge hands and great numbers, and his focus is continuing to get better. He can outrun small, fast cornerbacks, and he is willing to fight bigger ones for the football.

3. Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn (6-foot, 233 pounds)
He made his biggest strides at the combine, where he looked superb in drills and ran his 40-yard dash in the high-4.3 to low-4.4-second range. He's got great speed and is adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. At this point, he's not LaDainian Tomlinson, but he's not far off from what Tomlinson offered coming out of TCU. He's going to have to polish his blocking skills, but he clearly has the size and skills to be successful in every phase of the game.

4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal (6-2, 223)
The throwing motion concerns never materialized after his workouts, and Rodgers showed all of the accuracy, polish and arm strength to make him worthy of the top selection in this draft. He also had better size and mobility than scouts expected. While everyone talked about the smarts of Alex Smith, Rodgers scored a 35 on the Wonderlic and apparently has been impressive in interviews. The concerns about him being a product of the "Jeff Tedford system" are still there – but those can only be squashed by what Rodgers does in the NFL.

5. Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn (5-11, 217)
Williams really upped his stock by adding 12 pounds of muscle over his playing weight from last season, then running 4.45 to 4.5 in the 40. He has looked very good in drills as well. Overall, he's seen as a tough runner who has better breakaway ability than Texas' Cedric Benson. Williams still needs to improve his pass-catching and blocking skills. He also has some health concerns.

6. Cedric Benson, RB, Texas (5-11, 222)
He's a workhorse, but breakaway speed and some past off-field problems remain issues. Benson also skipped drills at the combine, then failed to blow scouts away at his pro day, notching 40-yard dash times in the 4.6-second range. But his great college production can't be ignored – nor his well-rounded game.

7. Alex Smith, QB, Utah (6-4, 217)
Smith was thought to have had a stellar workout, but some teams are still concerned about his ability to drop into the pocket, as well as his overall arm strength. At least one team even flew in its own wide receivers on a different date to get a more accurate look at Smith's accuracy on the deep ball. He has loads of talent and great smarts (a 40 on the Wonderlic) – but needs some more positional coaching to mold his skills.

8. Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas (6-3, 243)
He's got 4.5-second speed in the 40 and the right size to fill outside linebacker in the NFL. But teams really rave about his playmaking – that he simply is the kind of guy who constantly is causing turnovers or disrupting offenses. He's been compared to Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks, but there are still those who wonder if he can take on blockers in the NFL.

9. Adam Jones, CB, West Virginia (5-10, 187)
He has the speed teams crave, showing it off at his pro day with sub-4.4-second times in the 40. Scouts also love how quickly he can get in and out of breaks, allowing him to stick with almost any receiver. Though he's a bit small, he's aggressive and willing to come up and play the run. His added dimension as a return man gives him the nod over Miami's Antrel Rolle.

10. Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami (6-1, 198)
He hushed all of the fears about his speed by running his 40 times in the 4.48- to 4.50-second range. That means he won't necessarily have to play safety, giving him a healthy spike in his stock with NFL teams. He's more physical in coverage than Jones, but with the emphasis on illegal contact, that could be a negative. However, teams think he can use it to his advantage in the first five yards of routes, and then learn to keep his hands off receivers downfield.