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NFL Draft '99

Browns played Couch deal perfectly

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Posted: Saturday April 17, 1999 11:24 AM


Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King, covering his 16th NFL Draft, will check in throughout the day with reports on the '99 version of the draft.

ASHBURN, Va. (CNN/SI) -- An hour before the last draft of the century, here are five things I think I think:

1.) I think the Browns played the Tim Couch negotiations perfectly. By getting a tentative deal with Akili Smith's agent, Leigh Steinberg, late Friday night, the Browns could go into talks with Couch's agent, Tom Condon, around midnight knowing that they had a bird in the hand. That forced Condon into a still-respectable deal -- seven years and $48 million -- which compares favorably with Condon's deal with Peyton Manning a year ago.

2.) I think, after talking to Saints general manager Bill Kuharich within the last hour, that it's a virtual impossibility for Mike Ditka and New Orleans to get their man, running back Ricky Williams. "I called [Colts GM] Bill Polian about 45 minutes ago, " Kuharich told me, "and he hasn't called me back. That's not a good sign."

3.) I think that the most unfortunate thing for Akili Smith is that he could disappear into the nether lands that is the Cincinnati franchise. You'd almost be better off, as a player, getting picked lower if you could avoid going to a place that, since Boomer Esiason, has been an absolute graveyard for quarterbacks. And most other players, for that matter.

4.) I think New England holds the keys to any intrigue the top of the first round has left. The Patriots want to get up somewhere between picks 5 and 8 to get Miami running back Edgerrin James.

5.) I think in three or four hours the Bears are going to be a very happy team. I think they will draft Cade McNown, the UCLA quarterback, and within three years, half of the general managers in this league will be asking themselves: How'd we pass on that guy?

Related information
Early Draft Day: Browns will make Couch No. 1
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