In the end ...
The good, bad and curious of the draft weekendPosted: Monday April 22, 2002 4:10 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- It takes at least two years to determine whether a team's draft was successful.
Who knew two years ago that a sixth-round pick by New England named Tom Brady would quarterback the team to a Super Bowl title in his sophomore season?
Still, after two days and 261 picks, a few things stood out at the NFL draft:
In the eight years since Jimmy Johnson left, Dallas' drafts have been run by owner Jerry Jones. They consistently have been among the NFL's worst, a major reason why Dallas slipped from the top to the bottom in that period.
Jones might have reversed that trend this weekend.
He narrowly beat the clock on a first-round deal with Kansas City and still got the player he wanted -- safety Roy Williams. With the extra pick from that trade, he picked highly regarded cornerback Derek Ross.
With two second-round picks, Jones chose guard Andre Gurode of Colorado and wide receiver Antonio Bryant of Pitt, both thought of as possible first-rounders.
"We've done as much to help our team in this draft as anytime since I've been a part of the process," said Jones, who wasn't being excessively optimistic. He was last year, when he predicted his team would go 10-6 and it finished 5-11.
The Bills basically got two first-rounders: Mike Williams, the 370-pound offensive tackle from Texas, and quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the first overall pick in 1993, who was acquired from New England for next year's No. 1.
So in Buffalo, the talk already is about making the playoffs after a 3-13 season.
"I've been around this franchise for many, many years, and this trade is probably as exciting as any we've ever made," said octogenarian owner Ralph Wilson.
Williams and second-rounder Josh Reed, a wideout from LSU, should help immediately. Bledsoe, of course, is a big upgrade over Alex Van Pelt, a career backup who looked decent as a starter at the end of last season.
There were 24 tight ends taken; the previous record for a seven-round draft was 16. Three went in the first round, the most in 30 years.
It all started with Miami's Jeremy Shockey, who was taken by the Giants.
New York, sensing that interest in Shockey had increased, tried to go up from 15th to 10th, where Cincinnati picked. But the Bengals wouldn't deal, didn't get an extra pick and took offensive tackle Levi Jones of Arizona State, who almost surely would have been available at 15.
Tennessee, at 14, then called the Giants and said another team had asked them about trading to get Shockey. So New York gave up a fourth-rounder to move up one spot and get him. Ironically, the Giants had lost a coin flip with the Titans for the 14th pick because they tied for that spot -- if the Giants had won that flip, they would have saved the pick they traded.
"My feeling is that's the player we wanted and I'm not going to worry about a fourth-round draft choice," general manager Ernie Accorsi said. "I'm not concerned about how it comes out on the scoreboard and those people who say we gave too much. We wanted Jeremy Shockey."
Tight ends II
Seattle also wanted a tight end, presumably Colorado's Daniel Graham. But with Graham available at No. 20, the Seahawks traded down to 28. New England traded up to 21 and got Graham, leading Seattle to take Jerramy Stevens of Washington.
Many scouts thought Stevens had as much ability as any tight end in the draft, including Shockey. But he had an erratic on-field career and a series of brushes with the law, the most recent last May when he was arrested for running his truck into a retirement center and fleeing the scene.
Seahawks head coach and GM Mike Holmgren acknowledged he wavered between Graham and Stevens, knowing Shockey was gone.
"I was just talking to his folks and I was talking to my family and I asked them 'Why is he still on our board?'" said Holmgren, who rarely takes players with troubled pasts. "Part of it was we met and spent a good portion of a day together."
Said Stevens: "I definitely realize the perceived risk that he is taking on me. I think he is confident and I am definitely confident that it is going to work out."
St. Louis startled a few people by using a seventh-round draft pick on Chris Massey, a long-snapper who plays no other position.
"We've got what we call a red tag on him, which means we feels he's very high quality," Rams head coach Mike Martz said.
The 6-foot, 235-pound Massey walked on at Marshall as a linebacker in 1997. But he quickly figured out he had no future at that position, so he gave snapping a shot.
The Rams probably could have signed Massey after the draft as a free agent, but didn't want to risk losing him to another team. They also might use him as a backup fullback.
"The trouble with a guy like this is if you get into free agency with him and he's highly sought-after, it gets expensive and competitive with four or five other clubs," Martz said. "So you're better off really just taking him."
Before the draft, there was speculation that half of Cleveland's draft picks would be players from national champion Miami, coached until last season by Browns head coach Butch Davis. In the end, the Browns got just one of the 11 Hurricanes picked -- offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez, in the seventh round.
Wide receiver-kick returner Daryl Jones was taken by the Giants just one pick ahead of the Browns.
"We just felt we didn't want to get involved in a bidding war after the draft," Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said. "We thought we would lose him to Cleveland because of his former coach -- if not in the draft, then certainly in free agency. We had information that they probably had interest."