NFL draft proves just predictable breeze Bledsoe with Pats first non-surprise

April 26, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- If they ever bring back the TV show "I've Got a Secret," Bill Parcells will never qualify as a contestant.

Parcells kicked off the NFL's annual collegiate draft yesterday by finally revealing his secret choice as the No. 1 pick and it was about as predictable as a rainbow following a rainstorm -- he selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe for the New England Patriots over Rick Mirer.

"I think in the end, we thought Bledsoe had a little more ability to throw the ball effectively," Parcells said, explaining why he chose the Washington State junior over the Notre Dame senior, whom the Seattle Seahawks made the second pick.

Parcells had said his decision on the first pick was so secret that even his wife didn't know which way he was leaning, but in the end, he went with the conventional wisdom of the majority of the scouts that Bledsoe has the better arm.

A no-nonsense type who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants featuring a running game and defense, Parcells wasn't about to fawn over Bledsoe and call him a "franchise" quarterback.

"I don't think that kind of label is a proper one to put on a young guy coming out of college. I know the media will refer to him as a franchise quarterback, but I don't view it that way," he said.

When Bledsoe was asked what he needed to get along with Parcells and offensive coordinator Ray Perkins, Bledsoe brought down the house by saying the advice from Giants quarterback Phil Simms was simple: "Thick skin."

"I can deal with Coach Parcells," Bledsoe said. "His players all love him. He's very intense. I'm not worried about that."

Parcells, noted for playing veterans, won't rush Bledsoe. "I've never been a guy to throw anybody to the wolves. He'll play when he's ready," Parcells said.

With Bledsoe and Mirer going 1-2, it was the first time quarterbacks have led off the draft since Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning and Dan Pastorini went 1-2-3 in 1971.

This was the third time in the past four years that a junior was the first player selected. Bledsoe followed in the footsteps of quarterback Jeff George in 1990 and defensive lineman Steve Emtman last year.

Parcells' anti-climactic selection of Bledsoe set the tone for this draft. It may have been the most predictable draft in NFL history, a sign that most of the scouts had the players rated the same way.

The first 13 players came off the board the way most scouts had predicted. The only change was that the Phoenix Cardinals shipped running back Johnny Johnson to the New York Jets to move up to the third selection to take Georgia running back Garrison Hearst. The Jets then dropped down to the fourth slot to take Florida State linebacker Marvin Jones.

The next nine selections -- starting with Alabama defensive linemen John Copeland and Eric Curry, who went to the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- went as expected.

The only changes were that the New Orleans Saints gave the Detroit Lions veteran linebacker Pat Swilling for the eighth selection to take offensive lineman Willie Roaf, who was expected to go in that slot.

The Denver Broncos gave the Cleveland Browns a third-round pick to move up to the 11th slot to take defensive lineman Dan Williams, who was expected to go at that point.

The first real surprise came in the 14th slot, where the Browns, who were expected to trade down to take cornerback Tom Carter, decided to take offensive lineman Steve Everitt. That meant the Washington Redskins, who failed to trade up to get Clemson linebacker Wayne Simmons, were able to select Carter.

Although there were no surprises among the first 13 picks, it took the teams almost three hours to make those selections and 4:54 for the entire first round.

The problem is that the teams were talking trades even though many of them didn't get done.

"You might as well sit there and see if somebody offers you a deal you can't refuse," said Washington general manager Charley Casserly.

This was the first draft conducted since the new free agency system was put in place, and it was obvious that many teams were reacting to it.

Several teams drafted players at positions where they were hit by losses in the free-agent market.

For example, the Atlanta Falcons, who lost two starting offensive linemen, took offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy, and the Los Angeles Raiders, who lost veteran safety Ronnie Lott, took safety Patrick Bates.

The Swilling trade was another maneuver made with free agency in mind. The Saints not only unloaded a big salary to help them cope with next year's salary cap, they made room for a young player, Renaldo Turnbull, who'll replace Swilling. Turnbull will be a free agent after this season and would have left if the Saints hadn't given him a chance to play.

A twist to this deal is that the Lions had to pay Swilling $1.4 million to waive a no-trade clause in his contract. The clause was put there by the Lions a year ago when they made Swilling an offer sheet that the Saints matched to keep him.

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