Our scouts have been tracking the top NFL prospects since last summer, evaluating their in-season performances both on film and in person, comparing notes with NFL personnel experts and scouting the Senior Bowl as well as the Shrine and Las Vegas all-star games. Individual scouting reports from that legwork can be found in DraftTracker.
Below is our second crack at mapping out the first round. We'll be scouting the Indianapolis combine and various individual workouts, as well as zeroing in on NFL teams' ever-changing needs to make sure our projections remain accurate and realistic.
* = underclassman
2005 NFL draft, projected first round
1. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Aaron Rodgers* | QB | California
Like most teams drafting in the top five, the 49ers would like to trade down, stockpile picks and address more needs. The problem, however, is that the top of the 2005 NFL draft is a seller's, not a buyer's market. More than likely, the 49ers' best bet will be to stay put and draft the player they deem to be the most valuable at a high position of need. In our opinion, that player is Rodgers. Neither Tim Rattay nor Ken Dorsey is a franchise quarterback and Rodgers would be a significant upgrade over both. Some feel that Alex Smith (Utah) has the same or better NFL potential, but we don't see it. Rodgers lacks ideal height but he has terrific arm strength, good accuracy and above-average athleticism.