2003 NFL Mock Draft (version 2.0)

Last Updated April 23, 2003

1. Cincinnati Bengals - Carson Palmer, QB, USC

The Bengals are talking with both QB Byron Leftwich and CB Terence Newman, but don't look for them to make any serious offers to either player. The Bengals want Palmer, and I firmly expect them to reach an agreement with the former USC signal-caller before Saturday arrives. Look for Palmer to be given a year to learn the pro game under incumbent QB Jon Kitna. But if the Bengals get off to a slow start in 2003... Palmer might be in sooner than later.

2. Detroit Lions - Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State

The Lions have major issues with their secondary, particularly at the cornerback position. And while Terence Newman might be tempting, it's seems more likely that the Lions would pass on taking him at the #2 overall spot (especially with the team's acquision of former Rams CB Dre' Bly). Look for the Lions to take WR Charles Rogers at this spot. His questionable drug test results from the combine notwithstanding, Rogers is an elite talent and makes sense for the Lions on a number of levels. Rogers is a tremendous athlete and could light up the scoreboard for several years with QB Joey Harrington.

3. Houston Texans - Andre Johnson, WR, Miami

The talk out of Houston is that the Texans will keep this pick and take Johnson. The team has some serious offensive tackle issues, but the recent improvements shown by injury-plagued OT Tony Boselli should give the Texans enough confidence to snag Johnson in this spot. He'll be a nice weapon to add to the arsenal for second-year quarterback David Carr. The Texans can still land an OT in round two or three, and use this Top 5 pick on a speedy receiving threat who could create trouble for defenses in use with Jabar Gaffney.

4. Chicago Bears - Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State

The Chicago pick will be a turning point in the draft. They have a number of strong options here, from QB Byron Leftwich to DTs Jimmy Kennedy and Dewayne Robertson to CB Terence Newman. But Suggs is a special talent, and despite posting slow 40 times in off-season workouts I look for the Bears to take Suggs in this spot.

Do I agree with that decision? No. I expect Bears fans to spend the next decade regretting that their team passed on Leftwich. But Suggs is an explosive pass-rushing threat, and if the Bears' DTs can be healthy (as they were in 2001), then their D-line has the potential to be among the best in the NFL with the addition of Suggs.

5. Dallas Cowboys - Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State

This would sure be an interesting situation, with both Newman and Marshall QB Byron Leftwich on the board. But in this case, I can't see the Cowboys passing on Newman. Dallas needed cornerback help going into the off-season, and then third-year CB Dwayne Goodrich became involved in an off-season auto incident that left him facing multiple felony charges.

Look for Dallas and new coach Bill Parcells to select Newman if he's on the board here. Newman is far and away the most highly regarded corner in the draft, and teaming him with fellow former Big XII standout safety Roy Williams will give the Cowboys some much-needed help in containment in the secondary. Even with reports surfacing about Newman's shoulder not being 100%, I think the Cowboys wouldn't hesitate to add him to their secondary.

6. Arizona Cardinals - Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall

What a bargain -- Leftwich on the board at the #6 spot. There was a time where I thought the Cardinals might trade up to land either Leftwich or Palmer, but it seems to me that they can stand pat and either get one of those two QBs or select from the likes of Terrell Suggs, Terence Newman, etc. The #6 position is a nice one to have in this draft.

That's not to say that the Cardinals wouldn't consider trading up with Houston at #3 if the situation was right -- Houston could still get OT Jordan Gross at this spot. But the Cardinals, short of having their heart set on one player, would be best served to stick here and pick from the talent that will fall to them here.

It's my opinion that Leftwich is the best player in the draft, bar none. Let him learn from QB Jeff Blake and then step in and become the team's franchise QB in a year or two. He's a big, strong player with a rifle arm and a team-first attitude. He proved his fortitude by playing with a broken fibula for Marshall last season. This would be the steal of the draft.

7. Minnesota Vikings - Jimmy Kennedy, DT, Penn State

The Vikings should have Jimmy Kennedy on the board here at this spot, unless Chicago decided to snag him at the #4 spot. But even if that happens, this is a DT deep draft, and Dewayne Robertson could be an option here, even if Kennedy is still on the board.

Last year the Vikings nearly landed Ryan Sims (in a moment of draft day craziness where the Chiefs nearly got leapfrogged). In a division with Ahman Green and Anthony Thomas, stopping the run is important. Kennedy can do that, along with providing excellent pass-rushing. Look for him to make an immediate impact for Minnesota.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars - Marcus Trufant, CB, Oklahoma

The Jaguars have a number of needs, not the least of which involves their secondary. Trufant's stock is on the rise, and he could land at this spot with the Jaguars. Jacksonville also needs help at receiver, so should either Charles Rogers or Andre Johnson still be on the board here, they would likely be taken ahead of Trufant. But short of that happening, expect to see Trufant suiting up for the Jaguars this fall.

9. Carolina Panthers - Jordan Gross, OT, Utah

The Panthers signed RB Stephen Davis from Washington in the off-season; now they need someone to open some holes for him. Enter Gross, who's the highest rated offensive tackle prospect in this draft. Gross is a 6'6, 300+ pound blocking machine who would be a good fit for a Panthers squad needing an O-Line upgrade.

10. Baltimore Ravens - Dewayne Robertson, DT, Kentucky

In a bit of a surprise, Robertson falls to the Ravens at pick #10. Forget Kyle Boller here; look instead for Baltimore to look back to what helped it win the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, the interior defensive line. With Robertson projected by some to go as high as #4 overall, he would be a real bargain if he in fact fell to this spot.

11. Seattle Seahawks - Jerome McDougle, DE, Miami

The Seahawks need some defensive line help. McDougle is a speedy pass-rushing threat that could help the Seahawks put some much-needed pressure on opposing QB's. Look for Seattle to scoop up McDougle if he's still available here, which he should be.

12. St. Louis Rams - Boss Bailey, LB, Georgia

The Rams face a bit of a quandry in this draft. They have serious needs at both LB and CB, but only one pick until the third round (thanks to trading their second rounder for OT Kyle Turley).

You might see St. Louis trade down to land an extra pick or two. But if that doesn't happen, and if CBs Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant are gone, look for the Rams to pick up Bailey at this position. Maryland LB E.J. Henderson is also a consideration for this spot.

13. New York Jets (via Washington Redskins) - Johnathan Sullivan, DT, Georgia

The signing of WR Curtis Conway took away the pressure for the Jets to use one of its first rounders on a WR to replace Laverneus Coles. Instead, look for the run on defensive linemen to continue, with the Jets landing Sullivan here.

14. New England Patriots (via Buffalo Bills) - Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State

The Patriots may trade up to get their pick of the DTs and DEs in the draft. But if not, they'll still have quality available here. Kevin Williams may not have the size to play DT, but his speed and pursuit abilities makes him an option at the defensive end position as well.

15. San Diego Chargers - William Joseph, DT, Miami

The Chargers made the best free agent acquision of the off-season, signing unrestricted free agent WR David Boston (without having to give any compensation to the Cardinals). With Brees, Tomlinson and Boston, the Chargers have a young trio of talent that will make them a force to be reckoned with in the AFC West.

That signing also allows the Chargers to dip into the DT pool. Joseph has the ability to quickly shoot the gaps and fight through double-teams. The Chargers should be very happy with landing Joseph at this spot.

16. Kansas City Chiefs - Sammy Davis, CB, Texas A&M

It's no secret that the Chiefs need secondary help. Some people think the Chiefs will take DE Chris Kelsay here, and he would be a good pick. But this is one case where the Chiefs desperately need help at corner, and Davis has the tools to fill the spot for them. The two-time all Big XII talent is noted for his ability to stay with receivers stride-for-stride in the open field, and I think the Chiefs will take him and worry about a pass rusher in a later round.

17. New Orleans Saints - E.J. Henderson, LB, Maryland

The Saints would fill a defensive need at LB with Henderson, whose leadership skills will produce a boost for a Saints defense that's faded down the stretch the past two years. Henderson may be a bit overagressive at times, but he has the speed to cover tight ends and receivers and strong recognition skills.

18. New Orleans Saints (via Miami Dolphins) - Troy Polamalu, S, USC

There was a time when I could've seen the Saints taking a chance on CB Dennis Weathersby with this pick. But then the former Oregon State standout was shot in an incident in California. He's expected to recover, but the uncertainty of his situation removes him from consideration for this spot.

Polamalu and recently acquired safety Tebucky Jones would make an interesting combination at free safety and strong safety, respectively. Polamalu is noted for his strength and his ability to support against the run, and he would be a welcomed presence in the Saints secondary.

19. New England Patriots - Eric Steinbach, OG/OT, Iowa

With this pick look for New England to fill an offensive line need. Steinbach is a talented lineman who can play both guard and tackle (he's a converted tight end). Kwame Harris could also be a consideration here.

20. Denver Broncos - Chris Kelsay, DE, Nebraska

The Broncos' signing of QB Jake Plummer put them in a position to fill another need via the draft: defensive end. Kelsay is very athletic, faster than average and uses excellent technique. He has above-average speed, but not enough quickness to put him in a Terrell Suggs type level on blitzes (which is why he's going at #20 instead of in the top 5).

21. Cleveland Browns - Kwame Harris, OT, Stanford

Harris may also be considered by the Broncos, which could have the Browns looking to trade up with the Saints to the #18 spot. Harris is regarded by many as the second-best tackle in the draft (behind Gross). The Browns need him to open some holes for last year's first rounder, RB William Green.

22. New York Jets - Andre Woolfolk, CB, Oklahoma

Jets fans in the NYC likely won't approve of this pick, which some might regard as a bit of a stretch. But the Jets need help in their secondary, and with both Bailey and Henderson off the board I look for the Jets to bring in Woolfolk (I suspect that they will hope for Polamalu to fall, then be disappointed when he goes to the Saints). While the Jets' secondary came together as last season went on, their CB trio of Donnie Abraham, Aaron Beasley and Ray Mickens will all be 30 or older by mid-season.

23. Buffalo Bills (via Atlanta Falcons) - Michael Haynes, DE, Penn State

The Bills' signing of DT Sam Adams in the off-season helped the team improve its run defense. It also allows them the opportunity to take a defensive end with their first round pick. Haynes excels at backside pursuit on plays run away from him. If Adams can stay healthy, this should allow Haynes to avoid frequent double-teams and find opportunities to make big plays throughout the season.

24. Indianapolis Colts - Rashean Mathis, CB, Bethune-Cookman

Look for the Colts to address their GLARING cornerback need with this pick. Mathis is a small-school player, but he has amazing potential and the capacity to play both cornerback and safety. The Colts may go with a defensive tackle here, depending on who's on the board. But they need to come away with the draft with a corner who can start, and short of trading with Washington to acquire CB Fred Smoot (who the Colts stupidly passed on twice in the 2001 Draft), Mathis is their best bet at this position.

25. New York Giants - Kenny Peterson, DT, Ohio State

The Giants have major issues with their defensive line. They'd probably prefer to go with a DE at this spot, but with the top prospects from there gone I see them taking Peterson. Lack of bulk is a concern, but that can be added in the next year or two. If the Giants can help him with his reads, he could be a real sleeper for them.

26. San Francisco 49ers - Jeff Faine, C, Notre Dame

The 49ers need line help on both sides of the ball. But the elite defensive lineman will be gone by here, and Faine is an exceptionally talented center with star potential (about as much as you'll find at the center position). Gross, Steinbach and Harris are all offensive linemen who would be a better fit, but they'll likely be gone by this point.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kyle Boller, QB, California

The Steelers will ignore their secondary needs if Boller is on the board here. His physical skills are very impressive, and he could be molded into the QB of the future for Pittsburgh. They missed the boat by passing on Chad Pennington two years ago when he slipped in the draft; this time around I believe they'll strike gold with Boller.

28. Tennessee Titans - Taylor Jacobs, WR, Florida

Tennessee needs a running back of the future, but they can find that in round 2. They also have secondary concerns, but they'd be really stretching to take a CB here. Instead, look for them to fill a huge hole at WR with Jacobs. He has gamebreaking speed, discipline in running his routes, and an opportunity to play right away for the Titans alongside Derrick Mason.

29. Green Bay Packers - Rex Grossman, QB, Florida

Mel Kiper loves Grossman, and Packers consultant Ron Wolfe has spoken favorably about Grossman in public. Perhaps that means nothing, but I think the Pack would take Grossman here. I suspect that if Kyle Boller really slips to #26, the Packers will trade up to snag him (since the 49ers could draft Faine here just as easy). But if that doesn't happen, the Packers could take Grossman and be satisfied. They have to groom a QB for the future; Brett Favre is a future Hall of Famer, but he only has so many years left in him. Green Bay could roll the dice and hope a QB falls to them in round 2, but that's an awfully big risk to take.

30. Philadelphia Eagles - Jason Whitten, TE, Tennessee

There are almost as many different mock drafts out there as they are thoughts on what the Eagles will do with this pick. I think Whitten is the best tight end in the draft; he can catch the ball extremely well, he can block and he has the speed to get downfield in a hurry. As if QB Donovan McNabb wasn't frustrating enough before to opposing defenses, just imagine him with a safety valve target with the size and speed that Whitten possesses.

31. Oakland Raiders - Kelley Washington, WR, Tennessee

Tim Brown and Jerry Rice are another year older, and while the Raiders have Jerry Porter on their roster, they'll need more than just him for on down the line. Washington is a physically gifted receiver who should fit in well with the Raiders' plans. And imagine this set: Rich Gannon at QB, Charlie Garner as the single setback, and lined up at receiver Rice, Brown, Porter and Washington. Try drawing up a defense to stop that.

32. Oakland Raiders - Rien Long, DT, Washington State

Yes, I know Willis McGahee had a great workout this week. I realize that. But I also know how difficult it's been for almost all RBs who tore an ACL to come back to 100%. For every Jamal Lewis, there's several Ki-Jana Carter examples. But despite that, I expect McGahee him to go to Detroit in Round 2, be the starter by no later than the 2004 season opener, and have a strong career for the Lions.

It's been a very popular prediction for the Raiders to take McGahee here. But I look for them instead to take Long, a player who won the Outland Trophy as a junior but then struggled in off-season workouts.

The Raiders lost Regan Upshaw and Sam Adams from the DT position in the off-season. And while they'll have Rod Coleman, Dana Stubblefield and John Parrella on the roster, that only serves as a plus for Long, who will be given time to learn.

Lou Pickney: This was the mock draft that inspired me to create Draft King in 2003. I made this one just for fun, but then I saw a huge spike in website traffic and the wheels started spinning in my head. The timing of the launch of Google AdSense in 2003 was remarkable, as I saw it as a possibility to create a small side business. Little did I know what it would eventually become...