Manning, Gallery at top of first round, but to which teams?
Posted: Friday April 23, 2004 12:29PM; Updated: Wednesday April 28, 2004 4:49PM
The Chargers may pick Eli Manning even though he said he doesn't want to play in San Diego.
Chris Stanford/Getty Images
OAKLAND -- I have figured out why the NFL Draft is so magnetic.
Sitting in a hotel room here, watching the sun come up one day before the draft begins, I don't know who will make the first pick. I don't know who will make the second. I have a good feeling that Eli Manning and Robert Gallery will go 1-2, but to whom?
That's why this is the kind of reality TV matched only by a playoff weekend in the NFL. Be honest. Do any of us really know anything solid about the top of the draft, other than the fact that Arizona is going to pick Larry Fitzgerald, and Mel Kiper won't have a strand of his bouffant out of place all weekend? That's why the draft is so much fun. We like surprises. "You find out what's going on at No. 1, let us know," Raiders coach Norv Turner told me last night.
I will try my best. Until early this morning, I thought that since the Chargers have such high regard for North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers and consider him a close peer to Eli Manning, they'd eventually come to their senses and trade their pick with the Giants, who hold the No. 4 selection. Now I'm wavering. I'm skeptical that a deal will get done. I got a phone call this morning that made me waver and think that San Diego is going to pick Manning -- consequences be damned. The caller, a plugged-in football fellow who is rarely wrong, said the Chargers decided more than a week ago to pick Manning. They feel that even now with his reticence to play there, the Manning family isn't militant and eventually he'll come in, play well, and all will be forgotten.
We'll see. By the way, don't look for Paul Tagliabue to broker a settlement to send Manning to the Giants. I've heard that theory expressed, but someone I trust shot it down Friday morning.
That leaves the Raiders at No. 2. Everyone's saying they'll trade down and take Texas wideout Roy Williams wherever they pick. But I think Al Davis would love to trade down, but he'd want a ransom for Gallery. I don't expect anyone to pay a ransom. And so I anticipate that the Raiders will pick Gallery. That, by the way, would make Gallery himself very happy.
Then Fitzgerald goes to the Cards, and the Giants are on the board. My guess for New York is Ben Roethlisberger. The Redskins will take Kellen Winslow with the fifth pick and then ... well, check out Dr. Z's mock draft. He knows this better than I do.
This much I so know: There should be some player trades, and New England will be a factor Saturday morning. Larry Allen and Tim Couch both could move. Dallas wants a third-round pick, and Oakland is where Allen wants to play, but the Raiders have offered only fourth- and sixth-rounders ... in 2005. Detroit has a fourth-rounder this year on the table. I expect Dallas to deal with the Lions. Couch needs to be convinced that being a backup to Brett Favre for two years is a good thing. If his peeps advise him correctly, he'll be a Packer by the end of the weekend.
Regarding the Patriots: I could see them moving up a few spots, from No. 21, in the unlikely event they get Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma. I could also see them moving down. They could deal for a first-round pick in 2005 -- something they'd really like to do. Last year, during the draft, they dealt the 19th overall pick to Baltimore for the Ravens' second-round pick and their first in 2004. That's why they have the 21st overall pick right now. The flexibility of having that pick made it easy for the Pats when Bengals owner Mike Brown stood firm and told them: If you want Corey Dillon, you'll have to give up your first of two second-round picks, the 56th overall.
The other movers and shakers as of this morning: The Browns really want to move up. They think Gallery's a one-man draft haul, which is why I expect Butch Davis to continue his frequent conversations with Al Davis to get to No. 2. Their fallback is Virginia Tech cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
The 49ers want to move down. Look for San Francisco to maybe take less than the book value of the 16th overall pick to move down. San Francisco has been calling teams with picks in the 20s and trying to deal down. The reason is simple. The Niners want a wide receiver, maybe two, and they know the difference between, say, Reggie Williams of Washington at 16 and Lee Evans of Wisconsin at 26 is negligible. The extra pick would allow them to pad their draft with a low two or high three, maybe enabling them to get a bigger possession receiver --which they're lacking -- like 6-foot-3 P.K. Sam of Florida State.
The Eagles won't go crazy trying, but they want to move up. Philly's dilemma: Standing pat at 28 and maybe falling into a good player, or moving up and getting a better running back or cornerback.
The Cowboys want to move down. Dallas isn't in love with anyone. Chris Perry might fumble too much for BillParcells' taste, and Dallas wants more picks.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL beat for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com. Monday Morning Quarterback appears in this space every week.