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Chat Reel: Thomas Hepler

The biggest surprise: no trades in round one

Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 07:26 PM

  Sebastian Janikowski Oakland selected Sebastian Janikowski in spite of documented off-the-field incidents in the past. Scott Halleran/Allsport

Thomas Helpler of Ourlads Scouting Service chatted with CNNSI.com users during the first round of the NFL Draft. A transcript of the chat follows:

CNNSI Host: We're here with Thomas Hepler of Ourlads Scouting Service. He's going to be giving us he thoughts on today's draft. Thanks for joining us Thomas.
Thomas Hepler: You're welcome.

CNNSI Host: What have been some of the surprises you've seen in today's draft?
Thomas Hepler: No trades, the biggest surprise. The second would be the selection of a place kicker in round one. I fail to understand how you can fit a place kicker into your salary cap with round-one money. I don't know how you can do it. That was Oakland's pick of Janikowski. Otherwise, I'm surprised that Chris Hovan is still waiting to be picked, and I suspect he'll go soon. They're taking most of the picks right off the board. The other surprise maybe would be Jamal Lewis being selected ahead of Thomas Jones. He missed a whole 1998 season with an injury, and he had a good '99, but not a great one. I'm wondering if they're just drafting him off of his 1997 stats. He's a good pick, but I thought the injury might have been a factor.

From Guest: How effectively do you think the Jets have used their first three picks and what do you think they'll do with the fourth?
Thomas Hepler: Well, there's some speculation they'll trade the fourth, but you can't quarrel with their selections so far. I thought it was time to pull the trigger on a QB, so that was an excellent choice. The Shaun Ellis pick was a good one. The Deltha O'Neal pick was also a surprise. I didn't think he was a good enough cover corner to be a first-round pick. That was a slight reach.

From Guest: Do you think Peter Warrick's off-field troubles hurt him or did even have any affect at all?
Thomas Hepler: Zero effect, as far as I'm concerned. We had the top four figured exactly that way in our mock draft, and he went where he should have gone. The guys ahead of him were just better value picks for their teams. Not a knock on him at all... the problems hurt him not one iota.

From Guest: Which team has done the best job filling their holes?
Thomas Hepler: Of course, right now, the Jets with three picks. Cleveland and Washington did well. I don't think there was a team that didn't hit a need, with fairly good value, except I'm a little concerned that Deltha O'Neal was a bit early. Everyone picked value. If you ask that question at the end of the third round, we'll have a better answer for that.

From Guest: What do you think will be the big story of the second round?
Thomas Hepler: Teams will start to reach a little more for need as opposed to value. There's a tendency to start to reach a little in the second round. I think you'll see more trades. I just can't believe that there have been no trades yet. I don't mean to imply that teams are going to go off the board, crazy reaching, but I think it'll be a little beyond what the value might be.

From Guest: What do you think of Carolina's pick of Rashard Anderson?
Thomas Hepler: Rashard Anderson was a superb pick for Carolina. He'll do well for them.

CNNSI Host: Speaking of Janikowski, any idea how he could have jumped so far ahead of the "experts'" predictions? Most "experts" didn't have him higher than 31.
Thomas Hepler: Most people knew that he was a first round talent at his position. Most people think he's too big a risk because of the salary cap. It's almost unheard of. The last place kicker I remember in the first round was Erxlaben in 1979 by New Orleans, I believe, and he was a disaster.

From Guest: What about the concerns of him being able to stay in the country?
Thomas Hepler: I think the deportation concerns are not going to be a problem. I think he'll sign the contract quickly because it's often difficult for the U.S. Government to deport someone gainfully employed, so there'll be an incentive for him to sign quick. He could always kick in NFL Europe, right? *Laughs*

From Guest: What can we expect with 49ers' pick?
Thomas Hepler: I think the 49ers will probably look at Chris Hovan or Ahmed Plummer. They're hurting for defense, but it's hard to tell.

From Guest: What can we expect with 49ers' pick?
Thomas Hepler: I think those guys would be high on the list of people they're looking at.

From Guest: You think they should have taken a QB?
Thomas Hepler: The speculation was that they were going to take Chad Pennington. That surprised me. I don't know if they thought they could sneak through and end up with him at this pick. I think maybe in the second round, they might want to consider a QB from West Virginia, Marc Bulger.

From Guest: What's your reaction to the San Fran pick?
Thomas Hepler: I think that the pick of Ahmed Plummer was a good one. They went for defense. A LB and a CB...

From Guest: There are a few of other teams looking to make their first picks of the day - Buffalo, Minnesota and Indianapolis. What can we expect from them?
Thomas Hepler: Buffalo, I would consider John St. Clair would be a good pick... Keith Bulluck would be good and so would Chris Hovan. Hovan is one of the DTs that could play in their 3-4 defense. Indy would probably pick up a middle LB... Rob Morris would probably be a consideration, unless they take an outside LB, like Marcus Washington from Auburn. I think that'll be a consideration for them at this stage. Minnesota could look for a CB... they need one very, very much. There's still one on the board that's worthy... the kid from Va. Tech, Ike Charlton. There's another DE, Darren Howard, though he doesn't always play to his potential. He could be a consideration in the second round. Deon Grant, a free safety from Tennessee, is going to go soon, might fit Minnesota. He'd fit a couple of teams.

From Guest: What do you think of the Eagles' pick of Corey Simon? Do you think he will have a impact with the Eagles?
Thomas Hepler: Yes! I think he'll have an impact. The choice was almost a no-brainer. He's the best defensive tackle in this draft and this was a team in need of help there. It's a big-time, double-A-plus, with all sorts of stars. They knew they wouldn't get the defensive tackle later on, but they knew they could get a WR later on. Probably someone like R. Jay Soward.

From Chief Fan17: Who are the best players that are surprisingly not yet taken?
Thomas Hepler: Chris Hovan, DT, B.C. Marvel Smith, tackle, Ariz. State. Dez White, WR, Ga. Tech. Ron Dugans, WR, Fla. State. John St. Clair, C, Va. Chris Hovan was just selected... Minnesota needs help with defense, so I like Chris Hovan. He's really an inside guy. He can't play defensive end in the NFL, but he's much more effective inside.

From Guest: What do you think the Chiefs need to do for a running game? A go-to guy?
Thomas Hepler: Well, I they've got a WR, so in the second round, if they could sneak Doug Chapman from Marshall into the mix. Or a J.R. Redmond. There's a couple of RBs still on the board.

CNNSI Host: From Guest: Do you think that Ahmed Plummer is ready to start in this league as a corner for the Niners?
Thomas Hepler: Yes, absolutely.

CNNSI Host: Thank you for joining us - we look forward to chatting again with you sometime during the season.
Thomas Hepler: Take care, and I'll see you next year!


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