Bengals' Warrick already points to Browns

Again, Cleveland passes on Cincinnati's top pick

Notebook

NFL Draft

April 16, 2000|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- The Cincinnati Bengals hope Akili Smith will be throwing to Peter Warrick for the next decade.

If that happens, both of them will have a lot of incentive when they play the Cleveland Browns because the Browns passed over them with the top pick the last two years.

The Browns used Smith as leverage in talks with Tim Couch last year and first indicated this year they might go for Warrick before they decided to go with defensive end Courtney Brown. Smith went third to Cincinnati last year and Warrick went fourth to the Bengals yesterday.

"I'm glad Cincinnati picked me," Warrick said. "Cleveland's got to play Cincinnati twice. Them two times, I'm going to give it to them."

Smith gloated a year ago when he led the Bengals to a victory over the Browns.

Ravens surprise Cardinals

Because Shaun Alexander didn't go until the 19th pick to Seattle, the Arizona Cardinals could have taken the New York Jets' first-round picks at the 18th and 27th spots and traded down from the seventh spot. They wanted Thomas Jones or Alexander.

But after the Ravens took Jamal Lewis at five, the Cardinals feared a run on running backs and decided to stay at No. 7 and take Jones.

"It stunned me," Arizona general manager Bob Ferguson said of the Lewis pick. "It got me real nervous [that the running backs would go if they traded down]."

Jones, one of the five players who was invited by the league to draft headquarters, was asked what he thought of the Ravens bypassing him.

"That's fine," he said. "I guess they felt Jamal Lewis was the better back for their offense.

"I'm definitely excited about going to Arizona. I just feel really blessed right now to be picked No. 7 overall. I think I'm going into a good situation in Arizona."

Giants have no doubt

Ron Dayne gained more yards (6,397) than any back in the history of college football, was the MVP in the Rose Bowl and won the Heisman Trophy.

A half-century ago, when NFL teams were drafting out of the Street and Smith football magazine, those credentials would have made him one of the top picks in the draft.

Yet in this supposedly sophisticated era of scouting, Dayne was the third running back selected and the 11th pick overall when the New York Giants grabbed him.

It was reminiscent of the way Eddie George fell to the 14th pick in 1996 after winning the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State. He went on to take Tennessee to the Super Bowl last January.

Many teams were worried about Dayne's weight and the pounding he took in college.

Those factors didn't concern Ernie Accorsi, the general manager of the Giants, who took less than two minutes to make the pick.

Although Dayne's usually listed as a power back, Accorsi said, "I really think his No. 1 attribute is his quickness and his No. 2 attribute is his vision."

Dayne said, "People still doubt me, saying I can't do this and can't do that. People have doubted me and doubted me," he said.

Dayne is the first Heisman Trophy winner ever drafted by the Giants, one of the league's oldest teams.

Sticking with Stewart

It's sometimes suggested in this era of free agency that teams don't have patience with players and don't give them time to develop.

But that can't be said about the Pittsburgh Steelers in their handling of quarterback Kordell Stewart.

They showed they're serious about sticking with Stewart for a fourth year as a starter when they bypassed Chad Pennington in the draft to take wide receiver Plaxico Burress. It's the second straight year the Steelers have taken a wide receiver in the first round. Last year, they took Troy Edwards.

"We needed a playmaker and he was the best playmaker on the board," coach Bill Cowher said.

Burress had been criticized for skipping interviews with teams, including the Steelers.

"We didn't have a good first meeting," Cowher said. "But he came up and apologized for it. We have no problem with his background."

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