The five other highly touted players who had accompanied Rodgers to New York for the pre-draft publicity circuit were introduced at the podium by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue within the first eight picks.
The Miami Dolphins, still not certain if Ricky Williams will return after a year away from the game, selected Auburn running back Ronnie Brown with the second overall choice. Like the 49ers, they listened to trade offers before selecting a player who split playing time with Carnell Williams, taken by Tampa Bay with the fifth overall selection.
The San Francisco 49ers select Utah quarterback Alex Smith with the first overall pick in the NFL draft, the fifth straight year a quarterback has been chosen No. 1.
(Julie Jacobson - AP)
_____ NFL Draft _____ • The 49ers make Utah quarterback Alex Smith, pictured, the first overall selection.
• The Chargers end the wait of the Terps' Shawne Merriman, selecting the linebacker with the 12th overall pick.
• The Rams grab Howard cornerback Ronald Bartell in the second round.
• The Steelers snap up Virginia's top-ranked tight end, Heath Miller.
• Ravens hold their breath, then take wideout Mark Clayton.
• The Bronocs pull a late third-round surprise by taking Maurice Clarett.
_____ Live Online _____ • The Post's Mark Maske will analyze the NFL draft at noon EDT Monday.
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_____ By the Numbers _____ • 2: Players named Alex Smith selected. The 49ers took the quarterback No. 1 overall, and the Buccaneers took the tight end in the third round.
• 5: Players picked in the first round who weigh more than 300 pounds.
• 5: Players picked in the first round who weigh less than 200 pounds.
• 5:47: Duration of the first round in hours and minutes, beating the previous record for longest first round by seven minutes.
• 7: Quarterbacks selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the past eight drafts.
• 10: Underclassmen selected in the first round.
_____ On Our Site _____ • Picks, by round
• Picks, by team
• How the early entries fared
• All-time No. 1 picks
• Look back at The Post's instant analysis in the NFL Draft Journal.
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Brown said he would not be concerned if Williams returned to the Dolphins under first-year coach Nick Saban.
"Not at all," he said. "I'm going to go down there with an open mind and establish a position on the team. If that happens, then we'll have to deal with that situation when it gets here."
Three running backs were taken in the first five picks, with the Chicago Bears using the fourth overall to pick Texas's Cedric Benson, who gained more than 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons with the Longhorns, including 1,834 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. Benson said he was not a big fan of the draft process, and that he didn't appreciate often being compared to Williams, who also went to Texas.
"The terminology was, 'We want to bring you in and get to know you,' " he said. "It was more just bring me in and pick me apart, or to tell me that I'm like someone else and what-not. I just thought it was silly. My process has been different from most people's process because I went to Texas, wore [dreadlocks], I'm African American and played running back, and was successful at it."
Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who had 97 receptions as a senior and was considered by many to be the most physically gifted player in the draft, went to the Cleveland Browns with the third overall selection.
Edwards said he was looking forward to playing with another gifted receiver, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who missed the 2004 season with a broken leg. Winslow was the Browns' first-round pick last year.
"It's phenomenal," he said. "He's one of those guys who makes noise. He makes noise and causes mismatches for the lines. Being with a guy like that, a guy who wants the ball and wants to win, it keeps you wanting to strive to be hungry. When you have a guy like that driving on your team, it makes you settle for nothing but greatness."