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Niners choose QB Smith with the top pick

NEW YORK (April 23, 2005) -- Alex Smith was the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, who couldn't find a team willing to trade for the top choice when there was no clear-cut No. 1 player.

The 49ers had narrowed their choices to Smith, California quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, but chose the Utah passer despite not being able to sign him before the draft.

New coach Mike Nolan had also looked to trade and stockpile picks, but was unable to find a willing partner.

Even Smith was uncertain his name would be called first.

"I had a real good feeling," the 20-year-old said. "Coach Nolan called my table about five minutes before the selection."

The 6-foot-4 Smith led Utah to an unbeaten season as a junior, passing for 2,952 yards and 32 touchdowns with only four interceptions.

The Miami Dolphins, under new coach Nick Saban, picked Ronnie Brown with the No. 2 pick, the first of two Auburn running backs expected to be taken early. Brown's teammate, Carnell Williams, figured to go soon after.

Brown backed up Williams most of his college career, but won his draft-day bet with the elusive tailback nicknamed Cadillac, who is now on the hook for dinner.

"Does anyone know any expensive places?" Brown kidded.

Brown and Williams are the third running back teammates to be selected in the first round of the same draft, and first since 1987 when Texas A&M's Rod Bernstine went 24th to San Diego and Roger Vick went 21st to the New York Jets.

Edwards went No. 3 to the Cleveland Browns, who are also starting over with a new coach, Romeo Crennel, and general manager, Phil Savage. The Browns have the worst record in the NFL since re-entering the league in 1999.

Edwards caught 97 passes for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.

The Chicago Bears selected Texas running back Cedric Benson fourth, trying again to find the star runner they've lacked for most of the years since Walter Payton retired in 1987.

Benson was a model of consistency with the Longhorns, topping 1,000 yards rushing in each of his four seasons.

Smith follows Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, David Carr and Michael Vick as top selections since 2001. He's also the seventh quarterback taken No. 1 in the past eight years.

The 49ers, who won five Super Bowls with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young at quarterback in the 1980s and '90s, went 2-14 last season and picked first overall for the first time since 1964, when wide receiver Dave Parks of Texas Tech was the top pick.

With Smith going first, Utah is set up to become the first school with the No. 1 pick in both the NFL and NBA drafts. Utes center Andrew Bogut is one of the top college prospects heading into the NBA draft.

Tennessee took cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones from West Virginia with the sixth selection as a replacement for Samari Rolle, who was cut in the Titans' salary cap purge.

The Minnesota Vikings used the pick they acquired from the Oakland Raiders for wide receiver Randy Moss to take his replacement, picking Troy Williamson of South Carolina seventh overall.

The pick drew boos from draft party in Minnesota, where Vikings fans apparently wanted their team to pick Southern California's Mike Williams, a bigger target who didn't play last year after being denied entry into the NFL draft by a court ruling.

Williams didn't have to wait much longer.

The Detroit Lions surprisingly took the 6-foot-5 receiver with the 10th pick. The Lions seemed destined to bolster a shaky defense, but instead took a wide receiver for the third straight season.

In 2003, Detroit picked Charles Rogers first and last year they selected Roy Williams. Rogers' seasons have both been cut short by injuries.

Mike Williams was forced to sit out last season after the original decision in Maurice Clarett's case against the NFL was overturned and the league was allowed to keep players from entering the draft until they were three years removed from high school.

Then Williams was not allowed to return to USC because the NCAA wouldn't restore his eligibility.

The Arizona Cardinals nabbed Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle with the eighth pick. The Hurricanes have had at least one player taken in the first round every year since 1999. Last year, Miami set a record with six players taken in round one.

Washington made it three corners and three Auburn Tigers in the first nine picks, taking Carlos Rogers.

The Redskins, coming off a 6-10 season in Joe Gibbs' return to coaching, also had the 25th pick of the first round, which they acquired in a trade`with Denver.

Dallas took defensive end DeMarcus Ware of Troy at 11; followed by linebacker Shawne Merriman of Maryland to San Diego; offensive tackle Jammal Brown of Oklahoma to New Orleans; linebacker Derrick Johnson of Texas to Kansas City; defensive tackle Travis Johnson of Florida State to Houston; defensive end David Pollack of Georgia to Cincinnati; defensive end Erasmus James of Wisconsin to Minnesota; offensive tackle Alex Barron of Florida State to St. Louis, and defensive end Marcus Spears of LSU to Dallas to complete the top 20.

After a week of trade rumors and intrigue, the only drama in this NFL draft was the long wait for Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers, the Cal quarterback who the 49ers had considered at No. 1, fell most of the way through the first round until he was taken 24th overall by Green Bay to the cheers of fans at the draft. He will be groomed to succeed Brett Favre, who will turn 36 in October.

"I had already prepared myself for things not going my way," said Rodgers, who had been invited to the draft on the assumption he would be taken much earlier. "Things get a little screwy on draft day. We all know that."

The last pick of the first round was by New England, which chose little known guard Logan Mankins of Fresno State. Given the Patriots' past success, he could end up a Pro Bowler.

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