Nfl Draft Analysis

April 22, 1996|By VITO STELLINO

AFC East

Buffalo

Pick to watch: WR Eric Moulds -- They hope he's the next Andre Reed.

Analysis: They faced a tough decision on the first round, when they bypassed Leeland McElroy, who could have been the next Thurman Thomas, for Moulds, because they think Thomas has a couple of years left. It was a need choice, even though McElroy was in the top 10 on the board. How Moulds plays will make or break this draft. They went for defense on the next four picks.

Grade: B-

Indianapolis

Pick to watch: WR Marvin Harrison -- He can help Jim Harbaugh's passing game.

Analysis: Bill Tobin didn't do anything to start a verbal battle with Mel Kiper Jr. He was fortunate that Harrison lasted until the 19th pick. Harrison was a logical pick for a team that needs another receiver. Tobin then went for a defensive back on his second pick, before switching to offense for his next two.

Grade: B

Miami

Pick to watch: DT Daryl Gardener -- a classic boom-or-bust player.

Analysis: Jimmy Johnson was open for business. He did his usual wheeling and dealing with a dizzying array of trades, but he may have lost a battle with his ego when he picked Gardener, an underachiever in college, with his first choice. Johnson figures he's a great motivator, but it's difficult to turn around a player who didn't live up to his potential in college.

Grade: C

New England

Pick to watch: WR Terry Glenn -- Will have to overcome the fact that the coach didn't want him.

Analysis: There was a silent coup in New England, as owner Bob Kraft took the final say in the draft away from coach Bill Parcells and gave it to personnel director Bobby Grier, then backed him when he took Glenn over a defensive player. Glenn appeared to be a good choice, but Parcells is furious, and there's now an internal rift in the organization that could be slow to heal.

Grade: D

New York Jets

Pick to watch: WR Alex Van Dyke -- Wants to prove the Jets fans who booed him at the draft were wrong.

Analysis: They made the chalk move by drafting Keyshawn Johnson with the first pick, but then they came up with a puzzling move by taking another wide receiver, Van Dyke, with the first pick in the second round, even though Leeland McElroy was on the board. But then it wouldn't be a Rich Kotite draft if he didn't do something puzzling.

Grade: C

AFC Central

Baltimore

Pick to watch: CB DeRon Jenkins -- He has to justify trading three picks for him.

Analysis: The Ravens can thank Arizona for bypassing Jonathan Ogden. That made their draft, because they were able to avoid Lawrence Phillips, who likely would have been a headache in the future. The Ravens may have gotten three future starters in the first 55 picks with Ogden, linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Jenkins. The only negative is that they didn't fill their need at running back.

Grade: A-

Cincinnati

Pick to watch: OT Ken Blackman -- If he makes it, the Bengals will have found two offensive tackles in this draft.

Analysis: With Ki-Jana Carter coming back from knee surgery, the Bengals wanted to get more blocking for him and selected a pair of tackles, Willie Anderson and Blackman, with their first three picks, along with tight end Marco Battaglia on the second round. The Bengals could have the makings of a good running game to complement Jeff Blake's arm.

Grade: B

Houston

Pick to watch: OT Jon Runyan -- Projected much higher, he was a good value on the fourth round.

Analysis: The Oilers made one of the best maneuvers on the first round, trading down and then back up again while getting the player they wanted, running back Eddie George, and picking up second- and fourth-round picks for Glenn Montgomery. They wound up with three of the first 48 picks and got a tackle on the fourth round, Runyan, who was expected to go higher.

Grade: A

Jacksonville

Pick to watch: DE Tony Brackens -- Projected as a first-rounder, he could be a second-round bonus.

Analysis: Tom Coughlin's bluff didn't work, as he failed to trade the second pick, but he still got two players who should improve his defense immediately, Kevin Hardy and Brackens. They can step right into his defensive line. Coughlin also got the best center in the draft, Michael Cheever. Coughlin may be better at drafting than bluffing.

Grade: A-

Pittsburgh

Pick to watch: FB Jon Wittman -- They need running backs and hope he's a find on the third round.

Analysis: The key to this draft for the Steelers was the trade for Jerome Bettis, who flopped with the Rams after a good rookie year. If Bettis recovers his old form and becomes the big back the Steelers need because of Bam Morris' uncertain future, this will be a good draft. If not, the Steelers will have lost their gamble. They went for defense late, selecting defensive ends on the fifth and sixth rounds and a linebacker on the seventh round.

Grade: C

AFC West

Denver

Pick to watch: QB Jeff Lewis -- A fourth-round choice who'll be groomed to replace John Elway.

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