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NFL Draft '99

Dr. Z's Draft Report Card

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Posted: Tuesday April 20, 1999 05:15 PM

By Paul Zimmerman

Sports Illustrated

Vikings coach Dennis Green called it the best draft he's had in eight seasons in Minnesota. Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said the draft "changed the whole personality of our team." The Saints assured themselves of a playoff spot, according to their lone draftee, Ricky Williams. Well, not every team can be great, but here are six of my favorite drafts, plus a couple of clunkers.

Cardinals: David Boston is a speedy wideout for Jake Plummer. L.J. Shelton, rated by some as the best offensive lineman on the board, will replace the departed Lomas Brown at left tackle. Defensive end Thomas Burke is a relentless outside pass rusher. Fullback Joel Makovicka offers the big bang. Guard Yusuf Scott and cornerback Jacoby Rhinehart were quality lower picks.

Bills: Speed is the keynote. Antoine Winfield is a terrific cover cornerback. Peerless Price will be a deep receiving threat. Shawn Bryson, a 235-pound fullback, runs a 4.45. The sleeper is Bobby Collins, a 250-pound tight end with 4.57 speed.

Redskins: They made their picks count, choosing big-name performers such as versatile corner Champ Bailey; Jon Jansen, a tough and durable tackle; inside linebacker Nate Stimson, a 261-pound physical specimen who runs in the low 4.4s; and technically impressive tackle Derek Smith.

Lions: Linebacker Chris Claiborne will give the defense an instant jolt. Jared DeVries is a hardworking defensive lineman who can play end or tackle. Detroit hasn't had a quality runner to spell Barry Sanders, but Sedrick Irvin qualifies. And how about Sanders's running behind 386-pound wall Aaron Gibson?

Colts: If Edgerrin James turns out to be a better runner than Ricky Williams, the Colts will look like geniuses. That's the key to their draft, but I like the toughness and productivity of outside linebacker Mike Peterson, guard Brandon Burlsworth and defensive end Brad Scioli. Cornerback Paul Miranda's workout numbers were out of sight, including a 4.37 40 and a 401/2-inch vertical jump.

Rams: Can we count former Colts running back Marshall Faulk as part of the draft? Why not? Assuming they sign Faulk to an extension, the Rams really helped themselves when you add Torry Holt, the best wideout in the draft; Dre' Bly and Rich Coady, two standout defensive backs; Cameron Spikes, a serious drive-blocking guard; and Joe Germaine, who could be the sleeper among the flashy 1999 quarterback crop.

Panthers: They didn't have a first-round pick, and none of the five players they selected excite me. Top choice Chris Terry, a tackle taken in the second round, is raw and untested.

Chargers: Their first pick came at No. 60, and I'm sorry, Bobby Beathard, but 268-pound fullback Jermaine Fazande isn't going to turn things around.

Head Scratcher
Saints: The best thing about their draft was the sight of Mike Ditka in a dreadlock wig. The worst? You know the argument: This is the kind of deal you make if you're one player from the Super Bowl, which the Saints ain't. But if Williams winds up in the Hall of Fame, then yours truly, plus about a million other draftniks, will be wrong.

Issue date: April 26, 1999

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