Sorting out the draft board
In a draft where there is no question about who will go No. 1, there is still some uncertainty at the top of the 2002 NFL Draft.The expansion Houston Texans have all but gotten Fresno State quarterback David Carr to sign on the dotted line. The next two positions seem just as solid with Carolina snatching defensive end Julius Peppers from North Carolina at No. 2, and Texas cornerback Quentin Jammer appears headed to the Motor City to fill Bryant Westbrook’s shoes for the Lions.
This is where the issue starts to get sticky. On the board at No. 4 are the Buffalo Bills. After cutting Rob Johnson’s dead weight to clear room under the salary cap, the Bills are left with Alex Van Pelt at quarterback. Buffalo seems content to go with Van Pelt, but I can’t foresee them passing on Oregon’s Joey Harrington. Unless New England would be willing to part with Drew Bledsoe for a reasonable price.
With Buffalo selecting Harrington, that allows 6-foot-8, 330-pound offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie to slide to San Diego. The Chargers go with McKinnie rather than Texas’ Mike Williams because McKinnie is the prototype left tackle and hasn’t allowed a sack in the six years he’s been playing football.
As tough as it was to decide who Buffalo would pick, at No. 6 the Cowboys are a much bigger conundrum. Quarterback is still a mess with a host of candidates vying for the spot. But after Carr and Harrington the talent at QB drops off. Dallas signed DT La’roi Glover; but can it pass up the pair of Ryan Sims and Albert Haynesworth? In the end though, I see Dallas adding safety Roy Williams of Oklahoma. A true playmaker in every sense of the word, Williams is equally adept at covering receivers or laying hits on running backs.
After spending last year’s No. 1 on DT Chris Hovan, Minnesota will select Mike Williams of Texas at No. 7. At six-foot, 5 3/4 inches and 362 pounds, Williams is a road grader, which is precisely what the Vikings need after Kory Stringer’s death last preseason.
Having addressed its wide receiver need in the off-season, Kansas City, like Dallas, will pass on talented Tennessee wideout Donte Stallworth and go with his college teammate, Haynesworth. In an effort to stop the run, massive DTs like the 6-foot-5, 323 pound Haynesworth are becoming a premium in the NFL.With his 4.28 40-speed, Stallworth won’t fall past Jacksonville at No. 9.
Rounding out the top 10 is Cincinnati as usual. But things are looking up for the Bengals. Unfortunately, the team’s most glaring need is a quality quarterback, who will be nowhere to be found at No. 10. Instead, I see the Bengals solidifying their defense with Peppers partner in crime at UNC, Sims.
But what about those starving Bucs and Dolphins fans? Well, you’ll just have to be content with new prizes Jon Gruden and Ricky Williams because the only team in Florida with first and second round picks is Jacksonville. But don’t worry, Tampa fans, pick No. 86 should be on the board in about 10 hours.
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