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NFL Draft '99

CNN/SI's Pat Kirwan Analysis: Round 1

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Posted: Sunday April 18, 1999 10:52 AM


Pat Kirwan has spent many a draft in the war room as an NFL scout and assistant personnel director. Check back throughout the day as he provides us pick-by-pick analysis.

1. Cleveland Browns | Tim Couch | QB | Kentucky
The Browns did very much like Akili Smith as much, and that gave them great leverage in the contract negotiations. I spoke with coach Chris Palmer, and he said the workout last Sunday was very impressive. Couch answered a lot of questions about being able to throw the deep ball. Another big factor: Couch can report to the Browns as soon as May 16 (after graduation), but Smith not until June 16.
2. Philadelphia Eagles | Donovan Mcnabb | QB | Syracuse
Philadelphia people told me the Senior Bowl really turned everything around for McNabb. That's where he showed he's much more than an option QB and showed he can learn an offense very quickly. They said they couldn't pass on a possible franchise quarterback even with Ricky Williams there, and they chose McNabb over Akili Smith because he's the full package of maturity and experience. The plan is to groom him - he will NOT start opening day.
3. Cincinnati Bengals | Akili Smith | QB | Oregon
The Bengals showed how much they love Akili, because New Orleans called this morning in a last-ditch effort to get Ricky Williams and offered its entire draft -- six picks -- plus its first-rounder in 2000 and 2001, but the Bengals stayed.
4. Indianapolis Colts | Edgerrin James | RB | Miami
Surprise, surprise. No one heard anything about this beforehand, but this shows they wanted Edgerrin all along. Lots of factors go into choosing one guy over another -- in this case, likely Ricky Williams' weight, workout and signability. They obviously talked to the agent and didn't like what they heard.
5. New Orleans Saints (from Wash.) | Ricky Williams | RB | Texas
I usually applaud anyone who, when they want someone, you go get it, but the Saints have other needs - replacing a receiver, replacing a safety -- they're not a playoff team, and now they have no picks left. They have to wait for free agent cuts June 1. The Redskins want very much to get a cornerback, and they're hoping one of four defensive players -- Champ Bailey, Chris McCallister, Jevon Kearse or Chris Claiborne -- will be available if they can't trade up from No. 12.
6. St. Louis Rams | Torry Holt | WR | N.C. State
They traded away a good receiver earlier in Eddie Kennison who needed to be replaced. A lot of people thought they would take a look at a defensive back, and Holt and Chris McAllister were the two guys they wanted most. Both were there for them and they went for the guy they wanted most.
7. Washington Redskins (from Chi.) | Champ Bailey | CB | Georgia
To make a trade down and then up is very, very hard to do. GM Charlie Casserly deserves a lot of credit for orchestrating that. Champ Bailey was the guy they wanted all along, and they were able to get him and some extra picks as well. For the Bears, we already knew they didn't need a running back because of Curtis Enis, so when Williams and James both went above them, that insulated their pick a little bit so they could afford to trade down and know someone they want -- Cade McNown? -- should still be there at No. 12.
8. Arizona Cardinals | David Boston | WR | Ohio State
They wanted a reciever at that pick because they think the tackle list is deep enough to get one later. Drafting Boston gives them the chance to take on a Minnesota package -- three receivers. This is exactly how Randy Moss broke into the league. Playing in the slot behind Rob Moore and Frank Sanders will put a lot less pressure on him.
9. Detroit Lions | Chris Claiborne | LB | USC
This was a no-brainer for the Lions, who need defensive help. They wanted Claiborne all along, and they made it known to everyone they wanted him. He's the best linebacker in the draft. He can play outside, he can play inside. He's a big, physical player who can rush the passer on third down.
10. Baltimore Ravens | Chris McAlister | CB | Arizona
Good cover corners are impossible to find. McAlister is a James Hasty-type cover corner, he's big and physical, likes to dominante the receiver physically, whereas Champ Bailey is more finesse like a Deion Sanders or Charles Woodson. With McAlister at corner you can move Rod Woodson to safety.
11. Minnesota Vikings | Daunte Culpepper | QB | Central Florida
Going into last season this guy was most GMs' top-rated prospect. You factor in the small-school rep and that's why he falls below the other three. This is the future for Minnesota, you're talking Culpepper to Randy Moss for many years to come. He starts out at No. 3, but the problem with No. 3 quarterbacks is they don't get any reps in practice. So you're looking at a situation where, if Culpepper progresses sufficiently by August, they'll be looking to trade Jeff George. It seems unlikely, but the money factor comes into the equation. The only reason we're not talking about him as a "franchise" quarterback right off the bat is because three got taken before him.
12. Chicago Bears | Cade McNown | QB | UCLA
McNown is more ready to play now than Culpepper. The Bears wanted him all along but didn't want to take him at No. 7. So they get a lot of credit for finding a situation where they could get extra picks and still draft the quarterback they need for the rebuilding of the franchise.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers | Troy Edwards | WR | Louisiana Tech
There are need picks and picks where you take the best guy available. You could tell this was a need pick. John Tait is a much-better rated player and the Steelers could use a tackle, but they decided they needed a receiver that bad after losing Charles Johnson to free agency. Edwards is a guy that's not on everyone's first-round board, but with David Boston gone, they decided to make that reach.
14. Kansas City Chiefs | John Tait | T | BYU
The good news for Kansas City is that they needed a left tackle, and they got the best tackle in the draft Quite possibly, Tait is the best guy still available on the whole board. One name they passed up that's still hanging around is Jevon Kearse. Tennessee and Oakland would both love to see him there at their picks.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Anthony McFarland | DT | LSU
McFarland is a former tight end who's turned into a great defensive prospect. He's a great penetrator, and now lined up alongside Warren Sapp, they'll look a lot like the Vikings used to when John Randle would line up next to Henry Thomas, now with the Patriots. I spoke to one NFC Central coach about the Sapp-McFarland possibility who said, "Oh no, how on earth are we gonna line up against that?"
16. Tennessee Oilers | Jevon Kearse | DE | Florida
At his last workout, Kearse was 262 pounds and ran a 4.4 40, so most scouts took him off their "tweener" list. He's a defensive end now, not a 245-pound edge rusher. They'll have to scheme him a little bit to protect him at first, but Jeff Fisher, as a former defensive coordinator, is great at that. Tennessee did NOT think this guy would be there for him, he was a projected Top 7 to 10 pick, but you throw in the need picks like the two quarterbacks (Culpepper and McNown) and Troy Edwards and that's how he falls.
17. New England Patriots (from Sea.) | Damien Woody | C | Boston College
This is a great move for the Patriots because they needed a center and Woody is the only first-round center on the board (and first one since 1993). They addressed one of their two needs, and it wasn't the right place to address the other, running back. Anyone there would be a reach. They're a team that's had multiple picks for the last several year's so it's not so bad to give up a third and sixth-rounder to move up when you think Seattle or the Giants might grab Woody. Now they'll either address running back at No. 28 or trade out of it and wait until the second round.
18. Oakland Raiders | Matt Stinchcomb | T | Georgia
He's one of the guys in that pack of tackles that most teams had rated behind Lonnie Shelton and Aaron Gibson, but Gibson is a right tackle. So it comes down to Stinchcomb and Shelton, and they felt he was a more versatile guy than Shelton and had played at a big-time level at Georgia rather than Eastern Michigan. Also, Shelton gained a little weight in the last month and may have slipped on some boards.
19. New York Giants | Luke Petigout | T | Notre Dame
This was a big, big surprise. I talked to four four offensive line coaches before the draft and none of them had this guy in the first round. He had an OK week at the Senior Bowl but didn't play in the game. It may have come down to overall maturity and the fact that he played at Notre Dame. We're in the middle of a run on offensive linemen -- four of the last six picks -- and expect another in the next couple picks. A lot of teams will be ecstatic if Shelton and Gibson are still there.
20. Dallas Cowboys (from Sea. Via N. Eng.) | Ebenezer Ekuban | DE | North Carolina
There's no question why they took Ekuban. The Leon Lett situation, albeit unfortunate, happened in time for them to address it in the draft. They have a need for a pass rusher and Ekuban fills that role. The only question about Ekuban is his size -- what does he do when there's two tight ends? The real question is, did they really have to move up two spots to get him? On face value, Seattle and Arizona -- the teams ahead of them -- already have solid D-lines. One possibility is they heard someone like Denver, who does need a pass rusher, was trying to trade into that spot.
21. Arizona Cardinals | L.J. Shelton | T | Eastern Michigan
Shelton was my second-best left tackle in the draft, and at one point the best. He was clearly the best offensive lineman during practice at the Senior Bowl, just superb in the one-on-one drills, and that got rid of any fears about him coming out of Eastern Michigan. Arizona told me yesterday they were going to take a tackle at this pick, but Shelton was not on the list because they didn't think he'd be there. It's turning out to be another great draft for Bob Ferguson. They gambled letting Lomas Brown go but were able to fix that here.
22. Seattle Seahawks (from Dal.) | Lamar King | DE | Saginaw Valley
The reason King's stock was so high because, at 290 pounds, he's one of the only defensive ends in the draft that can play every down. He's not a "tweener." We thought for sure they'd be going for a tackle in Gibson here, but it's hard to pass up King when this draft is so short on every-down defensive linemen.
23. Buffalo Bills | Antoine Winfield | CB | Ohio State
Your first goal should always be to win your division, and Buffalo plays in a division filled with dangerous slot receivers -- Wayne Chrebet in New York, Marvin Harrision in Indianapolis, O.J. McDuffie in Miami. Winfield can match up with those guys, he'll give you Aaron Glenn-type coverage. He has also shown he's a good tackler who can blitz. But he will have problems with the deep ball and will need help on the outside with those big receivers.
24. San Francisco 49ers (from Mia.) | Reggie McGrew | DT | Florida
They took McGrew because of the loss of Dana Stubblefield the year before and the very serious injury to Bryant Young. But this is a kid who some teams didn't have going in the first round and some D-line coaches I talked to aren't very high on him. Just like Dallas did with Ekuban, the 49ers traded up because they were afraid of some of the teams at the bottom -- Atlanta, Denver, Minnesota -- who are looking for defensive linemen.
25. Green Bay Packers | Antwan Edwards | CB | Clemson
Edwards is one of those safeties that has the speed and athleticism to be a cornerback too. There's so many short corners after Bailey and McAlister that you have to look at one of those safeties if you want a big corner. But he's also a guy who can play for them at safety right away.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars | Fernando Bryant | CB | Alabama
They had bigger defensive needs than cornerback, like a good pass rusher, but there was a run on defensive corners and they decided to fill this spot. Bryant is a good cover corner who will match up well in the Jags' division. When you take a first-round corner like that, you hope to eventually turn him into your top match-up corner who faces the opponent's top receiver every game. But at first he'll play left or right corner exclusively.
27. Detroit Lions (from Miami via SF) | Aaron Gibson | T | Wisconsin
I know he's the top tackle on a lot of teams' boards. He's got 36 inch arms, the largest arms of anyone coming out of the draft and that's something everyone looks at when assessing tackles. He'll be able to get movement on defensive linemen. Your one worry is that this guy might play his entire career pushing 400 pounds, and a lot of people think that will shorten his career. But if you can get him playing at around 370, he's a fine tackle with Jonathan Ogden potential.
28. New England Patriots | Andy Katzenmoyer | LB | Ohio State
Curtis Martin, Edgerrin James - watch out! The Patriots will stop the run next year. They're going to put Katzenmoyer at "Will" (weak side) linebacker, Ted Johnson will play middle linebacker and Chris Slade at "Sam" (strong side), arguably the best linebacking corps in the league. Katzenmoyer has all the ingredients of a classic weak-side linebacker. They'll put him behind the defensive tackle and let him catch people from behind.
29. Minnesota Vikings | Dimitrius Underwood | DE | Michigan State
Once again, there are few defensive linemen with the size to play every down. Underwood is 6-foot-6, 285 pounds with 33" arms. A lot of D-line coaches were really interested in this guy but were afraid to pull the trigger because he didn't play last year.
30. Atlanta Falcons | Patrick Kearney | DE | Virginia
One GM told me his small arms (31") are a negative, but the upside is he plays to the whistle on every down. Scouts like the fact that he's a shorter guy and plays with the kind of leverage that Howie Long used to play with.
31. Denver Broncos | Al Wilson | LB | Tennessee
Believe it or not, he fits into the Broncos' scheme. He's a tackling machine, but most people say he has to play "Will" linebacker because he can't disengage from blocks. That works because coordinator Greg Robinson's defense essentially uses two Wills. He'll challenge for Glen Cadrez for the startin spot alongside John Mobley.

Related information
Pat Kirwan Analysis: Round 2
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