`D' linemen valuable in first-round swap meet

Record 11 are selected in round

six trades involving top picks made

NFL Draft

April 27, 2003|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Jockeying for impact players and defensive tackles, NFL teams traded places at a brisk pace in yesterday's first round of the draft.

The New Orleans Saints jumped up 11 spots to get a coveted nose tackle, the Philadelphia Eagles climbed 15 to get a pass-rushing end, and the New England Patriots moved up one to secure a defensive tackle and an additional pick.

When the maneuvering was done, there were six trades involving first-round picks either Friday or yesterday, and a total of 11 picks changed hands.

What's more, there was an NFL-record 11 defensive linemen taken in the first round, topping the previous high of nine achieved in 2001 and 1994. At one point in the draft, nine of 15 picks were spent on defensive tackles.

Here's how the first round unfolded.

1. Cincinnati: QB Carson Palmer, Southern California. Give Marvin Lewis credit; he's bold enough to tread where the Bengals traditionally stumble into big mistakes - at quarterback. Now the Bengals must ensure that Palmer doesn't become another Akili Smith or David Klingler.

2. Detroit: WR Charles Rogers, Michigan State. Resisting the chance to trade down with Dallas or New England, the Lions grabbed a potential Pro Bowl receiver and local hero from Saginaw, Mich. QB Joey Harrington is the real beneficiary, acquiring a legitimate deep threat.

3. Houston: WR Andre Johnson, Miami. The Texans wanted a playmaker for QB David Carr and preferred Johnson over Rogers at receiver. Loaded with picks, the Texans were so infatuated with the 6-foot-2, 230-pound receiver that they never got close to trading out of the third spot.

4. N.Y. Jets (from Chicago): DT Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky. The Jets made a bold - and dangerous - move to get into position to possibly get Robertson. The gamble paid off. Compared most often to Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp, Robertson has a chance to become a dominant inside player both as a run-stuffer and pass rusher.

5. Dallas: CB Terence Newman, Kansas State. Even though the Cowboys had one of the worst offenses in the NFL last season, the Bill Parcells era started with a shut-down corner who is versatile. Newman scored touchdowns on pass receptions and punt returns last season. The Cowboys were also interested in Robertson.

6. New Orleans (from Arizona): DT Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia. The Saints placed a priority at defensive tackle and traded up to get a player with experience on the nose. As desperate as the Cardinals are for a pass rusher, they opted for quantity over quality.

7. Jacksonville: QB Byron Leftwich, Marshall. When the clock ran out on Minnesota with the seventh pick, the Jaguars jumped in and claimed Leftwich. Whether he can make that smooth of a transition to the West Coast offense is another, more problematic, matter.

8. Carolina: OT Jordan Gross, Utah. The Panthers also beat the Vikings to the podium with their pick, one of the safest in the first round. Gross should be an offensive-line anchor for years.

9. Minnesota: DT Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State. The Vikings tried to trade down from the seventh pick to take Williams, but fumbled the phone exchange trying to get extra picks. They are a picture of confusion.

10. Ravens: DE Terrell Suggs, Arizona State. The Ravens were thinking defensive lineman and quarterback, and got the best pass rusher in the draft, thanks to Arizona's trade down. Suggs will play linebacker for the Ravens.

11. Seattle: CB Marcus Trufant, Washington State. The Seahawks had targeted the defensive line and were surprised when Trufant fell to them. Veteran Shawn Springs is in the final year of his contract, which makes the Trufant pick timely.

12. St. Louis: DT Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State. Once thought to be the best defensive tackle in the draft, Kennedy was the fourth taken, a scenario even the Rams didn't expect.

13. New England (from Chicago): DT Ty Warren, Texas A&M. Failing to trade up high for Robertson, the Patriots moved up one spot for Warren, who will play the nose. Warren comes with some risks, but should improve the Patriots' porous run defense.

14. Chicago (from New England): DE Michael Haynes, Penn State. After trading down twice, the Bears got a pass rusher who slipped with subpar offseason workouts.

15. Philadelphia (from San Diego): DE Jerome McDougle, Miami. The slumbering Eagles finally woke up in the offseason to make a good trade up and fill a huge void. This pick lessens - but doesn't negate - the loss of Hugh Douglas.

16. Pittsburgh (from Kansas City): S Troy Polamalu, Southern California. Following the Eagles' lead, the Steelers traded up to get a position of need and a player who fits their punishing defense.

17. Arizona (from New Orleans): WR Bryant Johnson, Penn State. The Cardinals' offense needs receivers as much as the defense needs a pass rusher. Arizona gets the third-rated receiver, from City College.

18. Arizona (from New Orleans): DE Calvin Pace, Wake Forest. After passing on Suggs, the Cardinals reached to get their pass rusher. Pace was a second-round value at best.

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