The Bengals, without a winning season since '90, have done more damage to young quarterbacks than any dozen defensive linemen. They're hoping a new coaching staff, and a little time playing behind Jon Kitna, will help Southern California's Carson Palmer do what David Klingler and Akili Smith couldn't do. Win in Cincinnati.
He played only two seasons at Michigan State, but Rogers has all the tools -- hands, speed, all that -- that could make him one of the most explosive wideouts in the league. He'll team with Detroit's top pick last year, quarterback Joey Harrington, to try to spark an offense that was 28th in the league in '02 and averaged barely 187 passing yards a game.
No one was worse throwing the ball last season than the expansion Texans (139.1 yards a game). Part of it was QB David Carr getting crunched all the time, which is why some called for some OL help for Houston. Instead, the Texans will give Carr a top-flight WR in Miami's Johnson, a solid combination of speed and size that averaged 21 yards a catch last season.
A 300-pounder with good leverage and a burst off the line, Robertson is the first of what is expected to be a run on defensive linemen in the first round. The Jets traded up to get in position to get the Kentucky tackle, who should help plug up the middle for a Jets team that gave up more than 123 rushing yards a game.
The Bengals toyed with the idea of Newman at No. 1, but a shoulder injury scared them away. The best cover corner on the board, he also is a punt return threat and a very good special teams player to boot. Kansas State's Newman is an all-around threat who could help new coach Bill Parcells in a lot of ways. And Parcells' Cowboys need help in a lot of ways.
The Saints traded up with the Cardinals to get Georgia's Sullivan in the first big surprise of the draft. The Saints needed a CB, and Washington State's Marcus Trufant was available, but they needed a D lineman, too, even talking about trading up earlier in the week to get Robertson. They get their second choice. He's a hole plugger for a team that gave up awhopping 4.5 yards a carry.
After the Vikings passed -- more on that later -- the Jaguars grabbed the franchise's QB of the future, Leftwich, with the draft's seventh pick. The Jags should be able to let the big, strong-armed kid sit for a while behind Mark Brunell. Leftwich is in the mold of Daunte Culpepper, in that he's big and hard to tackle.
Carolina also beat the Vikings to the platform, where the Panthers picked the top offensive tackle in the draft, a 6-foot-4 guy who may be the guy they can build a line around. The Panthers were 31st in the league in offense last season, averaging only 267.5 yards a game. Gross may not be another Anthony Munoz, but he's a start.
The Vikes, after a failed attempt at a trade with Baltimore to move down and get some extra picks, still landed a guy that coach Mike Tice said the team has had its eyes on for two weeks. Williams may be a little small in the middle, and he can get pushed around, but he has some speed, too, and could be one of those guys who switches to end on occasion.
Many figured Suggs would go to Arizona with the sixth pick, but when the Cards traded with New Orleans, Suggs fell to the 10th pick and Baltimore -- and what a pick the Ravens got. The Arizona State sackmaster brings passion to the Ravens and should fit in well on a defense that still has lots of talent. Suggs, an All-American, had an NCAA record 24 sacks and is one of the quickest guys off the edge on any level. Can he play the run? Does it matter?
In one of the quickest tops of a first round in draft history, the Seahawks found themselves snagging Trufant, a solid all-around corner who is known for his great character and relentless work ethic. Seattle was looking at defensive lineman, like everyone, but after Trufant, there weren't a lot of first-round CBs around. The Seahawks, in a pass-happy division, were all too happy to grab him at No. 11.
DLs are going fast and furious, as many expected. The Rams were pretty decent against the run last season, but Kennedy was just too good to pass up. The Rams took care of some offensive needs in trades and free agency, so they figured, what the heck, grab the best available. Excessive weight for the run-stopper may be a problem.
The Pats moved up a spot in a trade with the Bears to grab another big guy in the middle of the defensive line. Warren is fast enough to play end, too. New England was awful against the run in '02, 31st in the league by letting up 137.4 rushing yards a game. That came out to a scary 4.7 yards a carry.
The Bears originally had the No. 4 pick in the draft, traded down with the Jets to get a couple picks, then ended up with swapping picks with New England to drop to No. 14 overall. The Bears, too, went with a defensive lineman -- that's seven in the first round if you're counting. Haynes is not particularly fast, but he can aid Chicago, a team that was in the bottom third of the league in defense last season.
The Chargers had this pick, but Philly wanted a defensive lineman and wasn't going to wait around while everyone else grabbed one. The Eagles have lost several defensive players this offseason, so they needed to replenish. Miami's McDougle is not as long or tall as some ends, but he comes from a winning program and could be a steal this far down in the draft.
The top-rated safety in the draft, Polamalu supports the run as well as anyone in the nation. He's smallish, but he's hard-nosed and energetic and will plug in where Lee Flowers left off. The Steelers traded with Kansas City to get this pick, eyeing Polamalu the whole way. The safety's pick breaks a string of four straight defensive linemen taken in the first round.
The Cards could have had Suggs but instead traded around to get back-to-back picks lower in the first round. A team with this many holes could have gone either offense or defense. Which way do they go? Well, they were 29th in the league in passing in '02, and then they lost WRs David Boston, MarTay Jenkins and Frank Sanders. A no-brainer, really. Jeff Blake now has someone to throw to.
A lot of folks may figure this is too high for Pace, but the Cards need the pass rusher -- they had an NFL-low 21 sacks in '02 -- and this is a player with huge upside, as they say. Though he's not blindingly fast, he has a lot of tools that have piqued interest around the league. This first round is more than halfway through and there have been two quarterbacks taken and no running backs. Zero.
Ah, there you go. The Ravens traded with the Patriots to move up and get the third QB in the draft. Boller was way up on their board. He's got a huge arm, good size and will learn under Brian Billick and Matt Cavanugh, two pretty good offensive minds. Suggs and Boller in the first round: The Ravens are looking real good so far.
A big guy who will protect new QB Jake Plummer, Foster has had some problems with injuries, but he's solid in pass protection and can play either side of the line. You can argue that the Broncos could have been better served on the defensive side. But Foster could be a staple of the Broncos' line for years to come.
There's a lot of uncertainty for the Browns. Tim Couch or Kelly Holcomb at QB? Faine is someone they plan on sticking in front of … whoever … for years to come. He's technically good, strong and may be able to play some guard. Dave Wohlabaugh went to the Rams, too, so the Browns needed the center. A good, though not particularly sexy, pick.
The Bears were ranked 29th in the league in offense in '02, so they went out and got Kordell Stewart this offseason -- and now grab Grossman, who led the nation in total offense in 2001. Stewart, clearly, is the placeholder here. If Grossman shows the smarts and ability he showed as a sophomore in '01, he may be taking his place sooner rather than later.
It's a gamble, no doubt. Gutsy. Some may say stupid. After all, the Bills need help now. Instead, they spend the 23rd pick on a guy who won't even play this season. McGahee has speed, power and all the moves. But he's rehabbing from knee surgery after a horrific blown-out knee in January's Fiesta Bowl. The Bills have Travis Henry and Olandis Gary for this season. So should the Bills have used this pick on something else? For this season?
The Colts grab the first tight end of the draft to give Peyton Manning someone in the middle to throw to, someone to take the heat off Marvin Harrison. Clark is a guy who has good hands, can stretch a defense and is a decent blocker as well.
The 10th defensive lineman taken, Joseph is just the kind of guy the Giants need. Joseph is a guy who can clog the middle, first. He had 10 sacks as a junior and only five as a senior, which raises some questions. But defensive tackle isn't about sacks. It's about controlling the line and the running game, and at this part of the draft, this is as good as it gets.
The Niners' offense is all about timing, and keeping speed rushers away is a key part of it. So the Niners grab Harris, a tall and talented guy who could plug in right away. The Niners are thin there, anyway, so this is a solid pick that ensures that injuries won't devastate what is still one of the league's best offenses.
How hurt is Priest Holmes? Worse than the Chiefs have let on, evidently. That's undoubtedly why K.C. took Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher with the Nittany Lions. Johnson is a grueling back, a guy who can control the tempo of the game by eating up the clock and one who can catch it out of the backfield, as well. How hurt is Holmes? So bad, evidently, that the Chiefs picked a running back in the first round instead of trying to address what was the worst defense in the league in '02 -- 390.5 yards a game allowed.
Cornerback Donald Mitchell went to the Cowboys in free agency, so the Titans reloaded by getting a decent cornerback, especially this low in the first round. The Titans had other needs -- who doesn't? -- and Woolfolk is not the most polished CB, considering he was a wide receiver at one time. But he has talent, and with a little coaching he could turn into a solid defensive back for defense that's already Top 10.
Where, you have to ask at this point, is Georgia's Boss Bailey? The Packers went defense, but they went with another linebacker. Barnett is not particularly big, but everyone likes his energy and his smarts, and he'll fit in well in the Green Bay scheme. Linebacker was the No. 1 need for the Packers. It's very possible they could go for a LB next round, too. We're almost sure Bailey won't be around then.
We'll ignore that we just heard Chris Berman and his ESPN cohorts singing "Candy Man." Davis, not a junior, is slightly undersized, but he can hit and will provide some good depth. This is the part of the draft where, if you want a defensive back, you better get one. The good ones are going quickly. Hey, he's no DB, but where is Boss Bailey again?
The Raiders went defense, defense with the last two picks of the first round, starting with a big cornerback/safety. Cal's Asomugha is a big hitter, too, just the kind the Raiders like. Oakland had the top offense in the league last season, and they gave up a lot of points in the Super Bowl, so The Boss clearly decided defense was the way to go.
Brayton helps the Raiders up front, a guy who is big though not necessarily bulky. He's got a huge wingspan and, with coaching, could provide plenty of rush off the edge. At this point, with back-to-back picks, the Raiders have to like what they ended up with.