The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Superlative Salt Lake City

Somehow, Salt Lake City may have chanced upon the best player in the nation-twice.

According to NFL and NBA scouts, Alex Smith and Andrew Bogut represent the cream of their respective crops in 2005. The early buzz around both drafts has the two Utes both going first overall.

Mel Kiper Jr. (of $39.99/year ESPN Insider fame) finally came out of hibernation on Tuesday and held his first of many “mock drafts,” in which NFL draft results are projected long before anybody actually knows what teams are thinking.

If he spends as much time watching college football as he spends greasing his hair, we suppose, he must know a lot about college football.

Anyway, the seasoned draft guru’s long-awaited first mock draft tags Smith as the No. 1 overall pick for the beleaguered San Francisco 49ers.

This may come as a surprise to some, considering some of the obvious doubts about Smith’s raw ability. The popular argument holds that Urban Meyer’s system accounted for the greatest portion of Smith’s success.

Even so, there is little or no doubt that Smith is a very intelligent quarterback. What with Matt Leinart staying at USC, San Francisco will get death threats from its fans if Ken Dorsey is still slinging 30-yard “deep” balls in 2005.

They will likely see Smith as the safer alternative to their most glaring need. Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have a stronger arm, but scouts see Smith as a Chad Pennington-type of player-he won’t blow you away with his arm strength, but he will intelligently run the offense and make excellent reads.

Smith is faster than Pennington, but the 49ers won’t want their investment running around, not with his slim legs representing the hopes of the franchise. And then there’s the whole “not NFL speed” clich-which only makes sense to ex-Foot-ball players and you can’t possibly understand unless you’ve played the game of NFL Foot-ball, and been hit helmet-to-helmet at least 1,000 times.

Despite the doubts, Smith is a possible No. 1 pick unless the 49ers make it their intention to rebuild, and another team trades up to pick a player at another position.

Andrew Bogut’s draft status is slightly more uncertain. He conveniently jumped from 6-feet-11 inches to 7-foot height in the offseason. In more ways than one, he’s on the same path as Tim Duncan-a mildly athletic big man with a basketball mind and a knack for being in the right place at the right time under the basket.

Like Duncan, Bogut would likely play power forward in the pros, as he would be undersized at center. Unfortunately, a change to center could expose his lack of speed and explosiveness when he tries to guard more athletic forwards.

Nevertheless, he has a great desire to improve and scouts say that they love his competitiveness. He has been projected to be drafted anywhere from first to 10th. Mockers seem to think that if he doesn’t go as the No. 1 pick (New Orleans?), Utah or Denver will pick him up, because he clearly doesn’t like to travel. Being from Australia and all…

Bogut going first would be the final validation for former U coach Rick Majerus, who always found talent in obscure places.

There are many big men available, and many people think that North Carolina’s sixth man, freshman Marvin Williams, will go first. Bogut’s future will depend upon how much NBA general managers value “upside.”

They’ll probably pick players who will still be able to dunk if the NBA follows my mom’s advice and raises the rims by two feet. They are apparently aware of her initiative and this is their contingency plan.

If being good in college miraculously accounts for something, then Bogut has an excellent shot at the top pick.

It’s hard to imagine the mild-mannered tall guy seen walking around the dorms being in the NBA, never mind the first pick.

It’s even harder to imagine a guy who I was once mistaken for being the first pick in the NFL draft (he’s still four inches taller than me, too).

Nevertheless, it’s true, and the national spotlight remains on the U’s athletics department. It’s hard to imagine we’d top Keith Van Horn and Jordan Gross in the same year, but it appears to have happened-in the mock world.

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