http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=2032581&num=0The buzz is that, despite opening negotiations on four fronts with players who they are considering for the top spot in the draft, Utah quarterback Alex Smith is the man with whom San Francisco officials and coaches are most enamored. That doesn't mean that Smith will be the top choice, at least not yet, and the 49ers will entertain in coming days California quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards and Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle. But if all the financial ramifications are removed from the equation -- which, of course, they are not -- Smith currently tops the wish list.
With the second overall choice, there are strong indications now that all the rhetoric about the Miami Dolphins choosing Auburn tailback Ronnie Brown is pretty much the stuff of smokescreens. It's no secret that Dolphins first-year coach Nick Saban would prefer to trade down from the No. 2 spot and amass additional choices. But if he is forced to exercise the choice at No. 2, a strong likelihood since it doesn't appear any team is desperate to provide the Dolphins a parachute, no one should be shocked if Miami takes a quarterback in that slot.
http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/Commentary/Spins/2005/spins040805.htmThe 49ers have loved Alex Smith from Day One. Their issue with the Utah quarterback, more of a dilemma, is that they believe he's not ready for NFL duty immediately. The same could be true of Cal QB Aaron Rodgers, but Smith, who is 6-4 but very thin, needs time to fill out and build a body that could handle the rigors of the league. There is no question vice president of personnel Scot McLoughan would prefer a quarterback. He was weaned in Green Bay and Seattle on the importance of stability at that position. But this is head coach Mike Nolan's decision to make. And Nolan, who did have a stint in Denver during John Elway's tenure, has experienced great defenses with the Giants and Ravens, both of which were able to win without spending heavily at quarterback.
Many teams have moved Michigan WR Braylon Edwards to No. 1 or No. 2 on their board. Edwards makes sense for the 49ers and represents less of a risk than either of the quarterbacks based on the investment involved. The production will come from Edwards, and he might even give his new team instant gratification depending on who is throwing him the ball. There is talk the 49ers might deal for Tommy Maddox or another veteran and then try to draft Auburn QB Jason Campbell or another quarterback in the second or third round.
Rolle only makes sense if San Francisco beats the odds and baits a team into trading for the top pick. While Rolle can be a fine player, he's not a top overall pick talent. A bigger corner with above-average speed, Rolle would upgrade the secondary and fortify what might be a surprisingly potent defense. But the 49ers realize Rolle is not the missing piece. Smith, Rodgers or Edwards just might be.