First round turns into a swap meet

Defensive linemen, receivers dominate after wheeling, dealing is done

NFL Draft

April 22, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

The first round of the NFL draft turned into a trading mart yesterday, when picks and players changed direction at a dizzying pace.

The dealing actually started Friday, when the Atlanta Falcons traded up to the first pick to get quarterback Michael Vick, and the Kansas City Chiefs traded out of the 12th to get quarterback Trent Green. Once the draft began, there were four more trades involving first-round picks as the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and New York Giants all moved up to corral a coveted player.

Altogether, counting trades made last season, 14 of the 31 first-round picks changed hands at least once. The seventh pick, for instance, went from the Dallas Cowboys through the Seattle Seahawks to the 49ers, who selected defensive end Andre Carter.

In the end, 16 of the 31 went for defensive picks, including nine for defensive linemen. Six defensive tackles were selected in the opening round, and six wide receivers went, tying an NFL record in the 1988 draft.

Here's how the round unfolded:

1. Atlanta - QB Michael Vick, Virginia Tech. The Falcons are gambling that Vick will be a quick learner, that he will be able to make big plays in the pocket, and that his competitiveness will make the difference. But the good thing is, they can give him the time he needs.

2. Arizona - OT Leonard Davis, Texas. The Cardinals made the safe, sure pick on a player they'll move short-term to guard. They missed out on a chance to upgrade their depleted defensive line, a decision that will haunt them.

3. Cleveland - DT Gerard Warren, Florida. After talking about the skill positions on offense, and about his former college linebacker, Dan Morgan, new coach Butch Davis went with the smart pick and shored up the Browns' run defense.

4. Cincinnati - DE Justin Smith, Missouri. Passing on offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker at a need position, the Bengals filled another big need and improved their pass rush, which generated the second-fewest sacks last year. Smith is a solid pick at No. 4.

5. San Diego - RB LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU. The Chargers were banking that Tomlinson would slide past the Browns, and he did. They not only solved their biggest problem on offense, they figure to help themselves elsewhere with the additional picks.

6. New England - DT Richard Seymour, Georgia. The Patriots passed on the top wide receivers to improve their run defense with one of the best tackles. Seymour will play DE in coach Bill Belichick's 3-4 scheme.

7. San Francisco - DE Andre Carter, California. The 49ers talked about trading down, but moved up two picks to Seattle's spot to claim a premier speed pass rusher who should make an immediate impact.

8. Chicago - WR David Terrell, Michigan. With Tomlinson gone, the Bears went for a playmaker on offense, and they got good value in a receiver used to playing in the cold.

9. Seattle - WR Koren Robinson, N.C. State. Coach Mike Holmgren went against his philosophy to take a receiver with his first pick, but the reward might be an exceptional playmaker.

10. Green Bay - DE Jamal Rey- nolds, Florida State. The Packers were going to be tempted by the promise of Robinson if he was available, but settled on a much-needed pass rusher.

11. Carolina - LB Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.). After improving their offensive line in free agency, the Panthers toughened up their run defense with a linebacker who can play inside or out.

12. St. Louis - DT Damione Lewis, Miami (Fla.). The Rams essentially traded backup quarterback Trent Green for this pick, which belonged to Kansas City. Lewis is a key addition in overhauling a porous defense.

13. Jacksonville - DT Marcus Stroud, Georgia. Ascribing to the theory they need big defensive tackles to compete in the AFC Central, the Jaguars missed a chance to fill a gaping hole in the offensive line with the falling Kenyatta Walker.

14. Tampa Bay - OT Kenyatta Walker, Florida. The Buccaneers had been hoping for Jeff Backus, but when Walker fell, they traded up seven picks to take a player who could start right away.

15. Washington - WR Rod Gardner, Clemson. Desperate for receivers, the Redskins skipped over 5-foot-9 Santana Moss to get the 6-2 Gardner, who was graded the third-best WR on some boards. Coach Marty Schottenheimer resisted the urge to take an offensive lineman.

16. New York Jets - WR Santana Moss, Miami (Fla.). With the top defensive tackles gone, the Jets traded up three spots to get one of the better playmakers in the draft and a quality punt returner.

17. Seattle - OG Steve Hutchinson, Michigan. The top guard in the draft, Hutchinson will replace veteran Pete Kendall, who left in free agency. The alternative for the Seahawks was to get a cornerback.

18. Detroit - OT Jeff Backus, Michigan. The Lions considered taking the top tight end, Todd Heap, but decided on a need pick in the offensive line.

19. Pittsburgh - DT Casey Hampton, Texas. The Steelers dropped down to get the next defensive tackle on the board, but could have gotten Hampton at a later spot.

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