THE BIG TEN
| 1) Seattle
||With all the maneuvering that was taking place before the draft
to grab a shot at Ohio State's man-child, Orlando Pace, the
Seahawks wisely opted to stay out of the bidding. The result,
instead of getting the best player in the draft they got two of
the best five players in the draft. CB Shawn Springs and
OT Walter Jones will both step immediately into the starting
lineup and will likely develop into pro-bowl caliber players.
| 2) Tampa Bay
|| The Bucs went one better than the Seahawks, grabbing three
potential starters in RB Warrick Dunn, WR Reidel Anthony, and OT
Jerry Wunsch. Of the three, Wunsch might actually be the best
bargain, having slipped all the way to the 37th pick overall.
The selection of Dunn may well serve as a warning to Errict
Rhett, play or pack.
| 3) St. Louis
|| The big winner in the draft of '97 might turn out to be Lawrence
Phillips, who gets to exploit those big holes massive OT Orlando
Pace promises to open in opposing defenses for the next ten years.
New Head Coach Dick Vermeil finally got some measure of revenge
against the Raiders for the Superbowl XV pasting they visited upon
his Eagles, outfoxing them as he did by moving up to the number
1 spot to grab Pace.
| 4) Detroit
|| The new coaching regime in Detroit made no bones about their goal
in this draft: Beef up the secondary. After failing in their efforts
to move up to number 2 for Springs, the Lions will have to make do
with CB Bryant Westbrook, whom many have compared to Ronnie Lott.
They also snapped up OL Juan Roque and DB Kevin Abrams to round out
a very solid draft.
| 5) NY Jets
|| Bill Parcells said all winter that the Jets needed more than one
player to make them competetive, and danged if he wasn't joking!
The Jets dealt away the top pick, moving down in the draft and
beefing up their defense with LB James Farrior and DT Rick Terry,
whom some have compared favorably with Darrell Russell.
| 6) Miami
|| Jimmy Johnson backed up the truck and loaded up, tapping a
league-high 14 players in this year's draft, including six in the
first three rounds. The players will come in handy as Johnson tries
to fill out a thin roster. The player who figures to be of most
immediate help will be WR Yatil Green, while the best pick might
well have been DB Sam Madison in the second round.
| 7) Jacksonville
|| Tom Coughlin went defense-happy as all of his first four picks
went to the defense. DT Reynaldo Wynn was a steal with the 21st
pick while DB Mike Logan and LB James Hamilton could pay dividends
down the road.
| 8) Baltimore
|| Like their AFC Central counterparts, the Ravens also addressed
their glaring defensive shortcomings. Peter Boulware looks to be
an impact player wherever he starts, whether Devensive End or
Linebacker. The same can be said of LB James Sharper, who may
take a bit longer to develop.
| 9) NY Giants
|| The Giants' added a much needed weapon to their offense when they
snagged WR Ike Hilliard, who looks more like Sterling Sharpe than
Sterling Sharpe ever did. The quest to replace Dave Meggett
continues with RB Tiki Barber, who won't exactly shred defenses,
but will annoy the hell out of them.
| 10) Atlanta
|| The Falcons joined in on the DB feeding frenzy by snapping up
CB Michael Booker. They then made a move to shore up their
defensive line by adding DE Nathan Davis. Then they made their
best pick of the draft, RB Byron Hanspard, who will push Craig
Heyward out of Atlanta altogether and could eat into Jamal
Anderson's playing time.
THE BIG SO-SO's
| 11) Oakland
|| For any other team, DE Darrell Russell would have rated a Big Ten
ranking, but for a team that already had Chester McGlockton and
Russell Maryland, well... Unless Russell can switch to OT and
protect QB Jeff George's blind side the Raiders did not get out
of this draft what they came for.
| 12) Carolina
|| The rich just got richer. There is no way possible that Rae Carruth
should have made it to the Panthers with the 26th pick. The Panthers
also got some nice devensive projects in DB Mike Minter and LB
| 13) Indianapolis
|| Colts came to the draft looking for protection for QB Jim Harbuagh.
They feel they more than filled their need with OTs Tarik Glenn,
who needs to control his weight, and Adam Meadows.
| 14) Minnesota
|| Another team that profited from other team's oversights. The
Vikings were not exactly looking for a Linebacker, but when Dwayne
Rudd was still standing around with no hat at the 20th pick,
| 15) Arizona
|| The Cardinals pulled a PR coup by keeping local hero QB Jake Plummer
in the state of Arizona. If the Cards are smart, they'll bring
Plummer along slowly and let Kent Graham take his lumps while they
continue to build the rest of the team. DB Tom Knight is a fine
addition to the secondary.
| 16) Buffalo
|| The Bills feel they have found the heir apparent to Thurman Thomas
in RB Antowain Smith. It's about time. DE Marcellus Wiley,
projected by many as a first rounder, was a welcome find in the
| 17) Cincinnati
|| DE Reinard Wilson was the first pick, but it was RB Corey Dillon
who raised eyebrows when his name was called out. His selection
means that incumbent Ki-Jana Carter will be pushed for the starting
job in training camp.
| 18) Pittsburgh
|| The Steelers are accepting applications to fill the huge shoes
left behind by Rod Woodson. The first to interview will be CB
Chad Scott, who faces a steep learning curve in the NFL.
| 19) Dallas
|| The only player of note added by the Cowboys was a big one,
280-pound tight end David Lafleur, whom the Cowboys hope can
replace Jay Novacek. After Lafleur, the Cowboys next best bet
will be LB Dexter Coakly, who will provide depth to a free-agency
riddled linebacking corp.
| 20) Kansas City
|| The Chiefs wheeled-and-dealed to move up and grab TE Tony Gonzalez
before the Niners could get him. The move may well have been
ill-advised, as many in the draft rated Lafleur as high or higher
than the Cal star who will continue to play basketball for his alma
mater when the season ends for the Chiefs, probably in December.
WR Keith Lockett was a nice pick up.
THE BIG LOSERS
| 21) Washington
|| The Redskins passed on many quality players before settling on
DE Kenard Lang, otherwise their draft would have been rated
higher. LB Greg Jones is a project player at best. Of course,
the 'Skins do have time for projects.
| 22) Green Bay
|| For picking with the last selection in each round, the Packers
managed to pull a late jewel out the pile in OT Ross Verba. What
can you say about a team that is so deep they can afford to take
a Place Kicker in the third round (Brett Conway of Penn State.)
How about, "Look for them to be picking last again next year?"
| 23) San Francisco
|| Steve Mariucci blew his first-ever NFL draft selection by forcing
QB Jim Druckenmiller into the first round. There is no doubt
Druckenmiller was the best QB in the draft, but he was not worth
a first rounder. The Niners would have been better-advised to
snag Rae Carruth with their top pick and grab Pat Barnes or Jake
Plummer later on. Either would be a better fit for the Niner's
| 24) Houston
|| The Oilers pulled a fast one on Kansas City, trading down five
spots and still managing to come away with the player they had
targeted, DE Kenny Holmes.
| 24) Philadelphia
|| The Eagles picked up a long-term project in DE Jon Harris and
were happy to get him. He may not replace the departed William
Fuller this season, but eventually should make Ray Rhodes look
like a genius. Other than that, the Eagles will have to rely on
the free agent market to fill needs.
| 26) Chicago
|| The Bears traded their first rounder (11th overall) to Seattle
for Rick Mirer, who was the second choice overall just four years
ago. Not a bad deal, when one considers the paucity of NFL-caliber
QB's today. Still, the Bears managed to pull TE John Allred and
RB Darnell Autry out of the 2nd and 4th rounds, respectively.
Both will probably need a year or two to develop, but could pay
dividends in the long run.
| 27) New England
|| The Patriots didn't come away with much to brag about from this
year's draft, settling for DB Chris Canty, DT Brandon Mitchell,
and RB Sedrick Shaw. All are longshots to make any sort of impact
in the near future, though each could contribute off the bench,
and given time, could blossom into steady ballplayers.
| 28) New Orleans
|| One wonders if new Head Coach Mike Ditka even watched football
during his hiatus. Chris Naeole was scarcely projected as a first
rounder, let alone the 10th pick. Ditka passed on several more
highly-regarded tackles such as Tarik Glenn and Jerry Wunsch.
Troy Davis was a nice pick-up in the 3rd, though, and all eyes
will be on Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, taken in the
fourth. Beyond that, this draft was a bust.
| 29) San Diego
|| Bobby Beathard did his homework again, bagging TE Freddie Jones
in the second round. Since the Chargers had no firstrounder,
thanks to las-il- year's deal to draft Bryan Still, that was about
all the noise the Chargers made this year. Hardly what one expects
| 30) Denver
|| The Broncos once again have taken steps to beef up their defensive
line, this time by signing DE Neil Smith and drafting DT Trevor
Pryce. Chances are, this time next season the Broncos will again
be looking to beef up their defensive line.