Two big guys, Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace and Southern Cal
defensive tackle Darrell Russell, plus a small one, Ohio State
cornerback Shawn Springs, will be the first three picks in this
weekend's NFL draft, but nobody can quite figure out in what
order they'll be chosen and which teams will be there to take
them. Several trades have already shuffled the draft order, and
a frenzy of last-minute deals could be in the works.
The New York Jets, at No. 1, want to trade down to collect extra
choices and maybe a veteran or two. Same goes for the Oakland
Raiders, who have already moved from 10th to the second spot in
a deal with the New Orleans Saints. The Seattle Seahawks,
another team that moved up early, from 11th to third in a trade
with the Atlanta Falcons, will stay put and take whichever of
the top three players falls to them.
But Seattle still has another first-round pick, at No. 12, and
here's where it gets interesting: Look for the Jets to move down
to the St. Louis Rams' spot at No. 6, then trade that choice to
the Seahawks, who will want to move up from 12th to get a
first-rate cornerback if Springs isn't available at No. 3.
Here's how Paul Zimmerman thinks the first round will play out.
(Asterisk indicates a projected trade.)
1. RAMS* (FROM JETS) Orlando Pace T, Ohio State
It'll cost St. Louis a lot, maybe even its No. 1 next year, but
the Pancake Man is a rare talent; the Rams need help up front
2. LIONS* (FROM RAIDERS) Shawn Springs CB, Ohio State
Detroit will make the trade after the first pick only if
Springs, a gifted cover man, is still on the board.
3. SEAHAWKS (FROM FALCONS) Darrell Russell DT, Southern Cal
The 322-pound Russell, who runs the 40 in 4.85, will replace
Cortez Kennedy, who will be shipped to the Jets in a later move.
4. RAVENS Peter Boulware DE-LB, Florida State
Baltimore eyes him as a linebacker, but the Giants covet this
spot for a shot at Florida State tackle Walter Jones.
5. RAIDERS* (FROM LIONS) Walter Jones T, Florida State
With its double move, Oakland gets higher picks in the first two
rounds plus a terrific blocker at little cost.
6. SEAHAWKS* (FROM JETS) Bryant Westbrook CB, Texas
Cornerback is a priority, and Seattle gets a hard hitter and a
cover guy almost as good as Springs.
7. GIANTS Rae Carruth WR, Colorado
Rookie coach Jim Fassel gets some say in the action, and he likes
Carruth's sub-4.40 speed in the 40.
8. BUCCANEERS Yatil Green WR, Miami
His 4.38 was the fastest 40 at the scouting combine, and he has
good size too (6'2", 205 pounds).
9. CARDINALS James Farrior LB, Virginia
Seth Joyner is getting old, Jamir Miller is a rush linebacker;
Farrior brings versatility to an outside spot.
10. SAINTS (FROM RAIDERS) Dwayne Rudd LB, Alabama
Houston running back Antowain Smith is enticing, but the Saints
take a step toward the days when they had four All-Pro
11. FALCONS (FROM BEARS VIA SEAHAWKS) Tony Gonzalez TE, California
Athleticism vaults him from the bottom of the first round.
Atlanta might trade down and take Virginia Tech quarterback Jim
12. JETS* (FROM SEAHAWKS VIA RAMS) Reinard Wilson DE, Florida State
Wherever they pick, the Jets will go defense, and this gifted
pass rusher has had dynamic workouts.
13. OILERS Michael Booker CB, Nebraska
Houston could move down and still get this 6'1", 205-pounder; in
a division loaded with tall wideouts, the Oilers need a big guy.
14. BENGALS Tom Knight CB, Iowa
A neat pairing with All-Pro Ashley Ambrose, but Cincinnati will
go for a linebacker if it can't sign free agent Wayne Simmons.
15. CHARGERS* (FROM DOLPHINS) Antowain Smith RB, Houston
San Diego will deal up from the second round if Smith, rated by
some as the best running back, is available.
16. BUCCANEERS (FROM CHARGERS) Warrick Dunn RB, Florida State
He's tiny (5'8", 177 pounds) but phenomenally gifted--and the
personal favorite of Tony Dungy.
17. REDSKINS Jamie Sharper LB, Virginia
Defense is a priority; some think Sharper, coming off an
outstanding Carquest Bowl, is on par with teammate Farrior.
18. CHIEFS Reidel Anthony WR, Florida
Marty Schottenheimer got glowing reports on Anthony and teammate
Ike Hilliard from son Brian, the Gators' backup quarterback.
19. COLTS Jerry Wunsch T, Wisconsin
Strongside power blocker; quarterback Jim Harbaugh is headed for
intensive care if the offensive line isn't upgraded pronto.
20. VIKINGS Ike Hilliard WR, Florida
Dennis Green sees it this way: a three-wideout set with Hilliard
and Jake Reed on the flanks, and Cris Carter in the slot.
21. JAGUARS Renaldo Wynn DE-DT, Notre Dame
A sturdy 288-pounder who can play inside or out, but
Jacksonville might go for a tight end instead.
22. EAGLES Marcellus Wiley DE, Columbia
Most dominating Lions lineman since Al Ginepra in the 1950s;
Philly wouldn't mind trading down.
23. BILLS Tarik Glenn T, California
This 337-pounder goes on the right side, and Glenn Parker moves
to guard; if lucky, Buffalo will also get Michigan center Rod
24. STEELERS Chad Scott CB, Maryland
Pittsburgh has lost two cornerbacks to free agency, and they're
nervous about the health of Rod Woodson; a pick based strictly
25. COWBOYS David LaFleur TE, LSU
With injured Jay Novacek unlikely to return, LaFleur gives Troy
Aikman a 6'7", 280-pound target.
26. 49ERS Pat Barnes QB, California
San Francisco says this is too high to pick him, but the Niners
never draft whom they say they will.
27. PANTHERS Jayson Taylor DE-LB, Akron
Slender (6'6", 245 pounds) pass rusher who really came on in the
postseason all-star games.
28. BRONCOS Jamie Nails T, Florida A&M
Denver gets a 6'6", 387-pound monster. I saw one scouting report
on him that began, "Good size...." Honest.
29. PATRIOTS Chris Canty CB, Kansas State
The knock on him is he's too short (5'91/2"), but New England
loves him as a pure man-to-man cover guy.
30. PACKERS Ross Verba T, Iowa
"We'll take what falls to us," says G.M. Ron Wolf, and what
falls is a versatile lineman who can handle any of the three
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT ROGERSBoulware (left) might be moved to linebacker, while LaFleur (47) provides a big target at tight end. [Peter Boulware in game]
COLOR PHOTO: ANDY LYONS/ALLSPORT [See caption above--David LaFleur in game]