NFL draft

April 19, 1999|By The NFL draft analysis was compiled by Sun staff writer Vito Stellino

AFC East

Buffalo

Pick to watch: Price. A good second-round value, he can have an immediate impact on the passing game.

Analysis: John Butler, the Bills' personnel chief, has a good reputation and he did well for a team drafting late, The Bills hit on their first two picks. Both filled needs because they've been hurting on the corner since Jeff Burris left a year ago and they needed another receiver to go with Eric Moulds now that Andre Reed is 35.

Grade: B

Indianapolis

Pick to watch: James. He has to prove he's as good as Ricky Williams.

Analysis: Bill Polian is a man with the courage of his convictions. If he took Williams and Williams was a bust, nobody would have blamed him. But now that he has taken James, he's on the hot seat. If James doesn't make it big, the move will be remembered as one of the biggest draft gaffes ever.

Grade: C

Miami

Pick to watch: Collins. His off-the-field problems make him a major gamble even as a fifth-rounder.

Analysis: Jimmy Johnson, who likes to wheel and deal, came up with a nifty move while drafting a new backfield in the second round. Since there were no running backs worth taking with the 24th slot in the first round, he traded down 15 picks to get the runner he wanted, Johnson. He then added Konrad as his fullback. On top of that, he gambled on Collins.

Grade: A

New England

Pick to watch: Faulk. He has to show he's big enough to replace Robert Edwards.

Analysis: The Patriots were stymied in their bid to trade up for a running back, but then made a strange move by giving up two picks to trade up for Woody, who probably would have been on the board three picks later. They got their running back in the second round in Faulk, but he's probably not big enough to carry the load. They probably lost ground in the division to Miami and Buffalo despite having two first-round picks.

Grade: D

New York Jets

Pick to watch: Thomas. The Jets' first pick was 57th overall.

Analysis: Bill Parcells got himself with his first-round pick because that selection went to the Patriots as the final piece of the package the Jets sent to New England to get the coach. That meant 56 picks were off the board before he selected Thomas to fill a need. Parcells, though, was worth the first-round pick.

Grade: C

AFC Central

Cincinnati

Pick to watch: Smith. How long will it take him to beat out Jeff Blake?

Analysis: Cornerback was their top need, but they bypassed Champ Bailey and waited until the second round to take Fisher. In the first round, they felt they couldn't pass on Smith, even though he had just one big year. Smith's play will determine the fate of this draft. The Bengals hope he's not another Jack Thompson or David Klingler. They added another quarterback, Covington, in the seventh round.

Grade: C+

Cleveland Pick to watch: Couch. The future of the franchise is on his shoulders.

Analysis: It's hard to not have a good draft with all the extra picks the Browns had. They may have gotten starters with their first four picks, but they didn't manage to get a running back until the final round. Couch, though, will make or break this draft.

Grade: B+

Jacksonville

Pick to watch: Smith. He has to upgrade the defensive line.

Analysis: There's no doubt the Jaguars have to improve their defense to take some of the burden off quarterback Mark Brunell's shoulders, so he doesn't have to outscore opposing teams all the time. That's why the Jaguars went strictly with need choices in the first two rounds, taking a defensive back and a defensive tackle and wound up going for defense with seven of their eight picks.

Grade: B-

Pittsburgh

Pick to watch: Edwards. He has to help Kordell Stewart get back on track.

Analysis: It was no surprise the Steelers selected the best available wide receiver. Edwards was the third receiver taken in the first 13 picks, but they had to get one and bypassed defensive end Jevon Kearse to take him. They also went with need with their next three picks until they made Zereoue their second third-round pick. That seemed to be one position where the Steelers were set.

Grade: B-

Tennessee

Pick to watch: Kearse. He needs to give the Titans a better pass rush.

Analysis: The Titans' top priority was to get a pass rusher, and they tried to trade up to get Kearse. They failed, and he still fell to them at No. 16. The question is whether he can play full time on running downs. They traded down in the second round and got more defensive help in Thornton.

Grade: B-

AFC West

Denver

Pick to watch: Wilson. He can push middle linebacker Glenn Cadrez.

Analysis: The Broncos had a solid draft, selecting five players in the first three rounds and 12 overall. The problem is that it'll be tough for many of the draftees to make the team. The Broncos might have been better off packaging some of them to move up in the first round, but they failed in an attempt to do that.

Grade: B

Kansas City

Pick to watch: Cloud. He needs to combine with Bam Morris to give the Chiefs a running game.

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