Scrambling gives some teams a leg up

Gaffe by Vikings allows others to reap benefits

Nfl Draft

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

There were reaches and breaches in the first round of the NFL draft yesterday, but through all the madcap scrambling, several teams came through the day better for the effort.

The New York Jets won because the Detroit Lions never wavered.

The Philadelphia Eagles won when they stole a pass-rushing defensive end from their closest division rivals, the New York Giants.

And both the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams lucked into premier players at picks 11 and 12 because of the maneuvering above them.

No one looked worse, however, than the Minnesota Vikings, whose first-round gaffe triggered a rush of picks and more than a little confusion.

For the second straight year, the Vikings were involved in a clock mishap. Believing they had a trade with the Ravens for the seventh pick, they missed their 15-minute deadline to make their pick.

The Jacksonville Jaguars (picking Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich), Carolina Panthers (choosing Utah tackle Jordan Gross) and very nearly the Ravens - got cards to the podium before Minnesota finally made its selection.

A year ago, the Vikings missed out on defensive tackle Ryan Sims when time expired on the Kansas City Chiefs, but Minnesota failed to submit its pick quickly enough.

That was the bizarre twist to the first round. The heartwarming plot came much later when the Buffalo Bills drafted Miami running back Willis McGahee at No. 23, confirming his rehabilitation from major reconstructive knee surgery.

Reaches?

After trading down, the Arizona Cardinals had back-to-back picks at 17 and 18. They took Penn State wide receiver Bryant Johnson (City College) at 17. But at 18, they took Wake Forest defensive end Calvin Pace. Though Pace's draft stock had risen in recent weeks, he was not considered a first-round pick.

In some other curious moves, the New Orleans Saints traded up to Arizona's sixth spot to take Georgia nose tackle Johnathan Sullivan, and after their clock snafu, the Vikings took defensive tackle Kevin Williams at No 9.

The insertion of Sullivan and Williams into the top 10 helped drop Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs to the Ravens, Washington State cornerback Marcus Trufant to the Seahawks and Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy to the Rams.

The anticipated run on defensive linemen started when the Jets selected Kentucky tackle Dewayne Robertson at No. 4. Nine of the first 18 picks were defensive linemen and a total of 11 went in the first round.

For the Jets, Robertson was the reward for their risky trade of two first-round picks to the Chicago Bears on Friday. The Jets wanted Robertson all along. Had he not been there, they likely would've taken Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman, who went fifth to the Dallas Cowboys.

Robertson was seemingly the draft's hottest player in the final week as several teams tried to trade into position to get him. But because Detroit wouldn't relinquish its second pick - the Lions wanted Michigan State wide receiver Charles Rogers - and the Houston Texans wanted Miami wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Jets were able to snag their player.

Robertson has been compared favorably to Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp. "He hasn't played a down in the NFL yet," Jets general manager Terry Bradway said. "Warren Sapp is a special player and Pro Bowler. ... [But] we see similar type of qualities."

The Eagles made the biggest jump within the first round, trading up from the 30th pick to the San Diego Chargers' 15th. With that choice, they took Miami defensive end Jerome McDougle.

McDougle has been compared to defensive end Hugh Douglas, whom the Eagles lost in free agency this offseason.

"It's a pretty good analogy," said Tom Heckert, the Eagles' director of player personnel. "They're similar in a lot of ways between size, speed and pass-rush abilities."

Eagles coach Andy Reid denied that the selection of McDougle indicated he was unhappy with the rehabilitation of defensive end Derrick Burgess from foot surgery.

"This has nothing to do with Derrick at all," Reid said. "This is an opportunity to throw fastballs at offenses."

Better yet for the Eagles, they took a player the Giants had designs on. McDougle acknowledged that he had talked to the Giants for a good part of the day in anticipation of being picked by them.

When the call came from the Eagles, though, McDougle said, "I was almost in tears."

The Giants, picking 25th, still managed to get another Miami player, defensive tackle William Joseph. A year ago, general manager Ernie Accorsi scored the coup of the draft when he got Miami tight end Jeremy Shockey.

"Initially, when I started looking at McDougle, this guy [Joseph] kept catching my eye, too, and it will probably make Shockey happy," Accorsi said.

Top schools

Miami and Penn State each had four players chosen in the first round yesterday.

Pos. Player Team Pick

Miami

WR Andre Johnson Houston 3

DE Jerome McDougle Philadelphia 15

RB Willis McGahee Buffalo 23

DT William Joseph N.Y. Giants 25

Penn State

DT Jimmy Kennedy St. Louis 12

DE Michael Haynes Chicago 14

WR Bryant Johnson Arizona 17

RB Larry Johnson Kansas City 27

First-round breakdown

Miami, Fla. 4

Kentucky 1

Penn State 4

Marshall 1

California 2

Michigan State 1

Georgia 2

Notre Dame 1

Southern Cal 2

Oklahoma 1

Texas A&M 2

Oklahoma State 1

Arizona State 1

Oregon State 1

Colorado 1

Stanford 1

Florida 1

Utah 1

Iowa 1

Wake Forest 1

Kansas State 1

Washington State 1

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