First-round Analysis

Nfl Draft

April 25, 2004|By KEN MURRAY | KEN MURRAY,SUN STAFF

The University of Miami and the 2004 class of wide receivers set records in the NFL draft yesterday. The Hurricanes had six first-round selections, breaking the record of five they had in 2002 and shared with Southern California (1968).

There were seven wide receivers taken in the first round, topping the previous high of five set in 1988 and matched in 2001. Altogether there were 19 offensive picks in the first round, most in the past 15 years.

1. CHARGERS* Philip Rivers, QB, North Carolina State The Chargers wanted to trade back all along and take Rivers. When they did not receive an acceptable offer to move down, they called Eli Manning's bluff and took him No. 1. But the Giants' selection of Rivers at the fourth spot led to a swap of the two quarterbacks, and each team got the man it wanted.

2. RAIDERS

Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa

A year ago, the Raiders' offensive line was a sieve, and the team lost two quarterbacks to injury. This was a major step toward restoring order up front. Gallery should move ahead of Barry Sims at left tackle quickly and make an immediate impact.

3. CARDINALS

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pittsburgh

The selection of Fitzgerald not only gives the Cardinals a second top-flight receiver, along with Anquan Boldin, it's also a vote of confidence for incumbent quarterback Josh McCown. Dennis Green knows Fitzgerald well and knows exactly what he's getting.

4. GIANTS*

Eli Manning, QB, Mississippi

Unable to strike a pre-draft trade for Manning, the Giants knew the Chargers really wanted Rivers. So they took Rivers at No. 4 - they rated Ben Roethlisberger higher - and reopened trade talks with the Chargers. It cost a third-round pick this year, and first- and fifth-rounders next to get the quarterback they wanted most.

5. REDSKINS

Sean Taylor, FS, Miami

The debate was Taylor vs. Kellen Winslow II, and the Redskins ultimately went with their greater need. Joe Gibbs knows you need defense to win, especially in a division where he has to play against Terrell Owens and Jeremy Shockey.

6. BROWNS (from Lions)

Kellen Winslow II, TE, Miami

The Browns targeted three players - Gallery, Taylor and Winslow. When the Redskins chose Taylor, it opened the door to move up and take Winslow. The Browns gave up a lot (a second-round pick, the 37th overall) to move up one spot.

7. LIONS (from Browns)

Roy Williams, WR, Texas

Knowing they wanted Williams, they extracted a high second-round pick from the Browns to slide back one spot. That was a good move for team president Matt Millen, who has taken wide receivers with his top pick in the past two drafts.

8. FALCONS

DeAngelo Hall, CB, Virginia Tech

New coach Jim Mora, a former defensive coordinator, needs to retool his defense and Hall was a good place to start. The flashy cornerback will return punts, too.

9. JAGUARS

Reggie Williams, WR, Washington

Wanting to upgrade their passing game for Byron Leftwich, the Jaguars tried to trade up for Roy Williams. Failing that, they grabbed the third-rated receiver.

10. TEXANS

Dunta Robinson, CB, South Carolina

Coach Dom Capers has a lot of work to do on his defense and wanted to revamp the secondary. This allows him to bump Marcus Coleman to safety.

11. STEELERS

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Miami of Ohio

The Steelers were sweating out a Houston trade at 10 that could have cost them Roethlisberger. Although he's the least experienced of the top three quarterbacks, Roethlisberger has tremendous potential.

12. JETS

Jonathan Vilma, LB, Miami

The Jets are making big changes on defense, where former Ravens assistant Donnie Henderson is the new coordinator. They released linebackers Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones in March. The selection of Vilma vastly improves the middle of the defense.

13. BILLS

Lee Evans, WR, Wisconsin

Although they need a defensive lineman, the Bills felt a stronger pull to improve Drew Bledsoe's passing game, which slumped badly a year ago.

14. BEARS

Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma

Lovie Smith, the new Bears coach, craves quick players for his attack defense. Harris fits the mold as a fast tackle who is excellent in pursuit.

15. BUCS

Michael Clayton, WR, LSU

The Bucs have some glaring holes but probably no bigger need than a playmaking receiver. The team fell apart after dropping Keyshawn Johnson last season.

16. EAGLES (from 49ers)

Shawn Andrews, OT, Arkansas

With guard John Welbourn asking to be traded, the Eagles traded up for a tackle with the idea of making him a guard.

17. BRONCOS

D.J. Williams, LB, Miami

Everyone expected the Broncos to grab running back Steven Jackson here after trading away Clinton Portis. But they decided to help an injury-depleted linebacking corps by getting Williams, an explosive hitter.

18. SAINTS

Will Smith, DE, Ohio State

The Saints needed a cornerback or a wide receiver, but they couldn't resist a sliding Smith.

19. DOLPHINS (from Vikings)

Vernon Carey, G, Miami

Andrews was the guy the Dolphins hoped to get. When he went off the board, they decided to trade up to get Carey, who played guard and tackle for the Hurricanes.

20. VIKINGS (from Dolphins)

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