What Each Team Should Be Looking For

April 21, 1995|By VITO STELLINO


The expansion Panthers, drafting for the first time, have a lot of holes to fill, so the logical thing to do is take the best player on the board -- running back Ki-Jana Carter -- even though he'll have problems finding running room behind their patchwork line. They'll entertain offers for the pick, but likely will keep it. With their other first-round pick, they figure to go for an offensive lineman to block for Carter.


Expansion teams have to build an offensive line, so the Jaguars can start with USC's Tony Boselli, who's rated the second-best player in the draft. They can put him at left tackle and not worry about the position for the next decade. They may go for a quarterback of the future -- Kordell Stewart or Rob Johnson -- with their other first-round pick.

Houston (2-14)

The Oilers have to decide whether to build for the future with a quarterback or get more immediate help for their shaky defensive line, which has been ravaged by free agency and age. New GM Floyd Reese figures to look for the future with quarterback Steve McNair.

Washington (3-13)

The Redskins need a running back and would love to trade up for Carter. They are desperate for help on the defensive line, too, so Warren Sapp would be a good fit. But they're also thin at wide receiver, and Norv Turner is an offensive coach so they figure to take Michael Westbrook or trade down and take either Joey Galloway or J. J. Stokes.

Cincinnati (4-12)

The Bengals are another team that needs a running back and would like to trade up for Carter. If they can't do that, they could trade down and get Tyrone Wheatley or Rashaan Salaam. If they can't trade, they may have to take a defensive lineman, even though they selected Dan Wilkinson last year, because Kevin Carter and Warren Sapp appear to be the best players at this point.

St. Louis (4-12)

In their new home, the Rams could use help virtually everywhere but at running back, where they're set with Jerome Bettis. If Sapp falls this far, the Rams will grab him and move Sean Gilbert outside to give them the makings of a strong defensive line.

Tampa Bay (6-10)

The Bucs were 26th against the rush last year so they could use a defensive lineman to stop the run. Mike Mamula, who shot up the charts during the off-season on the basis of his workouts, could be their pick although he may be a bit of a reach this high.

Seattle (6-10)

New coach Dennis Erickson wants to improve a passing game that was 26th last year even though highly touted Rick Mirer was doing the throwing. That means he's going to take a receiver to give Mirer a first-class target. Galloway figures to be the logical choice if Westbrook is gone. This is one of the most automatic selections in the draft.

New York Jets (6-10)

Rich Kotite didn't distinguish himself in the draft in Philly, but he's in charge because GM Dick Steinberg is recovering from stomach cancer. The Jets were 21st against the rush last year so Kotite figures to go for a defensive lineman. Luther Elliss could be his choice.

Atlanta (7-9)

The Falcons swapped first-round picks with the Browns to get Eric Metcalf. They figured that Metcalf was more than worth 16 spots in the draft. In the 26th spot, they figure to go for a linebacker because Clay Matthews is 39 and can't last much longer. They'll grab Hugh Douglas if he drops that far.

Denver (7-9)

The Broncos, who gave up their first-round pick to the Falcons for Mike Pritchard, don't have a selection until the fourth round. To compensate for the lack of draft picks, the Broncos signed 10 free agents, including former Redskins guard Mark Schlereth. In Denver, it'll be the usual story. They'll go as far as John Elway's arm can carry them.

Philadelphia (7-9)

Jeff Lurie is a one-time draftnik who has real input now. As the owner of the team, he's likely to be very involved in the draft. As every draftnik knows, the Eagles need a lot of help on defense and are likely to pick the best defensive player left on the board. That's why defensive lineman Elliss would be a good fit.

New Orleans (7-9)

The Saints are in a rebuilding mold and need help on defense, but the best of the defensive prospects could be gone at this point. If they don't decide to trade down, they could strengthen their offensive line by taking Reuben Brown.

Buffalo (7-9)

The Bills need help at offensive tackle after losing Will Wohlford and Howard Ballard to free agency the last two years. That

makes Korey Stringer of Ohio State the logical pick. He's turned off some teams by putting on too much weight in the off-season, but the Bills think they can get him in top shape.

Indianapolis (8-8)

The Colts need a tight end, a defensive end, a safety, an offensive lineman and a quarterback. If you watch the draft on ESPN, you have to hope that quarterback Kerry Collins drops this far. If he does and the Colts bypass him, Mel Kiper and Bill Tobin might have another public spat. But if tight end Kyle Brady is gone, Tobin might have to grit his teeth and take a quarterback.

Arizona (8-8)

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