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Our Four Fanatics in a Bar

Houston GM Charley Casserly and his lip-locked Texan comrades have finally indicated they will select either DE Mario Williams or RB Reggie Bush, but it's pretty clear who the right choice is. Bush in '06. 

Those relentless Texans love their Bush's and Casserly won't be able to show his mug in public if he turns down the nation's most prized draftee.  Is the Houston Brass simply putting the mock in "mock draft?"  The old switcheroo. Teasing mock draft writers who spend wasted hours hunched over keyboards and surfing the net all in hopes of a Miss Cleo-esque prediction of something in which they, ironically, have no say in.  That being said, it's time to eavesdrop in on the true experts of sports reporting; you know him as Joe at the local bar.  That is, Joe, along with his drinking buddies, Hank, Murph and Trish, at their favorite bar, The Local Dive.

"What goes better with first-round banter than a first round of fine bourbon?" asks Hank as he downs his first swig in Joe's direction. 

"When will those spineless hot-shot reporters say it," demands Murph.  "Hell, I'll say it! The kid from USC's - God-bless'em - completely overrated!"

"You said it buddy…" mutters Joe, who is in the midst of his annual "final stretch" anxiety stage.  Come April 1st, Joe starts feeling the pressure of his beloved Green and White's pre-season, just five months away. 

Trish, wincing down her first taste of the evening snaps, "You two are always right, those kids stink, huh?  Bush and Leinart combined for 1.5 million touchdowns over the last four years, but it was all some lucky phase, right?  Bush is a no doubter! First pick overall, period!"

Trish isn't too far off.  The dynamic duo from LA have stocked touchdowns in bulk, Leinart reaching the end zone 108 times (99 passing), while Bush tallied 43 career TDs in just three years (on top of his 25 rushing, he had one passing, one kickoff return, three punt returns and 13 receiving).

"Leinart played under Norm Chow at USC," Murph adds.  "Those Trojans stick together.  Leinart is a lock for the number three pick.  Especially since the Saints picked up Brees this year.  That means they don't need a QB, they need someone to protect one.  Obviously they're going to grab D'Brickashaw to keep Brees safe down there in the Big Easy."

The Jets fourth overall selection is quickly guzzled away with a round of unforeseen agreements and Miller Lites.  According to the fans at least, it seems that Mario Williams, the DE from NC State, would be a nice fit in the Jets new look defense, especially after the departure of John Abraham. 

"He can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3.  He and Vilma will drive the other team bonkers!"  says Hank.   

This rare in-depth, accurate knowledge causes Joe to choke up his sip. 

"Seeing the success from Mangini's time spent with his former Patriots, I guess that defense alignment means 3-4 Super Bowl rings in 4-3 years!"

The next few picks in the draft not only have no significance to this ingenious group, they are completely forgotten.  While Trish was grabbing the next round, she was able to jot down the remaining picks from a draft preview show on a Heineken coaster. 

"Green Bay! We forgot the cheese heads!" Trish informs as she rushes back to the table, pitcher in hand.  "Speaking of which, is Favre hanging 'em up or what?"

"He might as well.  His 4,000 interceptions last year may have proved that age will outshine his heart," added Murph.  "The Packers can pass on Young or Cutler, because they're banking on Aaron Rodgers to lead the way in the future.  Favre announced that he is staying anyway.  I say they get A.J. Hawk from Ohio State. His long hair will keep him warm up there at Lambeau Field."

Hawk's successful Buckeye career might have something to do with a potential high selection as well.  Last season he led the Buckeyes in sacks, tackles and tackles for losses.  In the finale of that 10-2 season, Hawk was phenomenal, recording two sacks in a 34-20 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.  Hawk could fit in nicely on a Green Bay defense that allowed over 2,000 rushing yards last season. 

While the group turns its focus to the acoustic act's rendition of "Glory Days," big Joe, the unofficial leader of the group decides to speed up the process and grabs the coaster, firing away his picks while the crew sings along.  He starts off by giving the 49ersQB Alex Smith a huge target in Vernon Davis.  The young TE could be next coming of Antonio Gates.  Picking up Vince Youngfinally, is the Raiders.  Although they struggled mightily last season on both sides of the ball, Joe knows Al Davis loves the big name players.  Oregon's Haloti Ngata seems perfectly suitable for Billscoach Dick Jauron – a defensive mastermind. Although he can't pronounce it, Joe chooses Ngata for the Bills eighth pick. 

Detroit's ninth choice stumps big Joe, which is not an easy thing to do.  He can't decide whether they want to build their franchise around a guy like Cutler, improve the struggling defense with a defensive end like BC's Mathias Kiwanuka, or grab a reliable secondary player like Texas DB Michael Huff. 

The soothing riff of "Atlantic City" keeps Joe's focus at bay, his only distraction is his glass is near-empty.  Next pick for him is in easy one.  Because the Cardinals picked up Edgerrin James from the Colts, they're now going to need some young blocking, so Joe adds USC's Winston Justice as the 10th pick.  Joe quickly decides on Brodrick Bunkley to spearhead the St. Louis defense

"That behemoth bench pressed 225 over 40 times at the Combine," he recalls to the bottom of his empty glass.

As the band takes five, Joe beats the rush to the bar, picking up the next round.  The crew begins its transformation from Simon Cowell to Mel Kiper, Jr. and gets back to business.  Hank settles in to Joe's seat and picks up with the Ravens' 13th pick. 

"Baltimore has two options if you ask me. One, light a fire in Boller's kitchen with some competition, or just flat-out, show him the door. I say trade the bum and turn to Vandy's Jay Cutler." 

He looks up and realized he was talking to himself once again (something that happens frequently) as his cronies made a beeline to the back of the bar.

The group, now fresh with tall Budweisers upon Joe's return, bets the next two rounds on a two-on-two Golden Tee skins game.  Trish, unhappy with her short game, slips away shamefully and jots down her thoughts on drafts 14-28.  Eagles find a TO replacement: Chad Jackson, WR, FloridaDenver: Wanted Jackson, but settles for OSU's Santonio HolmesErnie Sims, OLB from FSU, doesn't travel far asMiami uses him to add zest to an aging defense.  The Vikingsadd on Buckeye OLB Bobby Carpenter, whileDallas picks up another big name on defense for the second year in a row, going to Manny Lawson, LB, NC StateSan Diego opts for the versatile CB/S Jimmy Williams from Virginia Tech. 

With the Chiefs on the clock, Trish briefly loses her concentration, because Murph – in his best Scottish accent – lets the crowd know how "useful" his approach shot on the par five eighth was by riding an imaginary horse around the bar.  Back in her mental war room, Trish feels that Kansas City's new offensive coordinator Mike Solari will not be welcoming in a first rounder to his side of the ball.  Antonio Cromartie, CB, becomes the third Seminolechosen in the draft thus far.  New Englandgoes with CB Richard Marshall from Fresno State, while the49ers follow with DeAngelo Williams, RB from Memphis.  The Niners weren't in the cards for a RB upgrade; however Mike Nolan was extremely impressed with Williams' work in the senior bowl.  Tampa Bay picks up a young CB in South Carolina's Jonathan Joseph to assist a productive aging pair in Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly.  The Bengalsproblem is not offense; however it wouldn't hurt to have the best center in the draft protecting their injured QB Carson Palmer.  Nick Mangold from Ohio State is a godsend for the Bengals who stuck it rich with this future All-Pro. 

The group wraps up their skins match just in time for the Giants to pick.  They just picked up LaVar Arrington, which fills a huge gap in their defense.  Joe reclaims his throne as the barroom commissioner, "So where are we?"

"We're about to chose an offensive weapon for those stinkin' Giants!" barks Hank.  "Now that Lavar is in town, they could probably be able to grab a wideout to help out Plaxico and Amani.  Thing is, there aren't many reliable playmakers in this year's draft.  It's a gamble, but I think they grab Sinorice Moss from Miami."

The group agrees to tag the Bears, the Panthers, and the Jags with CB Tye Hill, RB Laurence Maroney and LB Thomas Howard respectively.  For all they care, Bon Jovi could be chosen in any of these picks, but it's way too close to the Jets' second pick for them to notice.  Joe waits patiently for the table to end arguments regarding this selection.  Hank notices the sincerity in his eyes as he sips away at his Blackberry Brandy. 

"Gentlemen.  Trish.  I hate to say it," admits Joe.  "It's time we think about life after Curtis.  We pick up LenDale White from USC and the rest is history.  To be honest, he's a steal at this stage in the draft.  Our man Curtis shows the kid the ropes and walks into the sunset upon season's end…"

A moment of silence is abruptly broken by the band's resurrection of more classic Springsteen tunes.  The final three picks of the first round are made.  The Colts, to replace James heading off to the desert, pick up LSU's Joseph Addai.  The NFC championSeahawks add OT Marcus McNeill for some protection up front, and the Super Bowl Champion Steelers take in Brian Calhoun fromWisconsin to fill in for the retired Jerome Bettis. 

Last call brings the four back to reality.  They suck down the last warm sip of beer and head towards the alley.  Although much of the night will be forgotten, they make it a point to make plans for the following night.  This year, the first round is just the beginning.  Everyone knows that the Green and White have seven more picks, and it's up to the local experts to decide.

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