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 all-star games and the NFL combine. Individual scouting reports from that legwork can be found in DraftTracker.
Below is our fourth crack at mapping out the first round. We'll be scouting 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
One rumor that is picking up speed has the 49ers dealing this pick in exchange for Chargers QB Philip Rivers. OK, so it's only a rumor, one of many that make the rounds at this time of the year. Both teams have denied it, and it might not come to fruition, but it's an interesting thought. If they don't make a trade, the 49ers are left with a difficult decision. In our opinion, WR Braylon Edwards is the top-overall rated player in the 2005 draft, but the Niners need a quarterback much more than they need a receiver. Personnel officials across the country seem to be split between Rodgers and Utah's Alex Smith as this year's top-rated quarterback, but we think Rodgers gets the slight edge because of his greater arm strength and experience in a pro-style system.