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Long road ahead

Warrick knows winning with Bengals won't come overnight

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Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 08:06 PM

  Peter Warrick Peter Warrick goes from one of the best college programs to one of the worst teams in the NFL. Brian Bahr/Allsport

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The slow 40-yard dash time. Cleveland's about-face in philosophy. The No. 1 overall pick slipping off his trusty fingertips.

When three months of uncertainty ended Saturday for Florida State receiver Peter Warrick, his first reaction was more relief than joy. The NFL Draft had become another trial and ended with an anticipated and somewhat disappointing outcome -- the Cincinnati Bengals took him fourth overall.

"Oh, it was a relief," Warrick readily admitted, his emphatic tone matching his words. "I'm glad it's over with, going through the process from January to today. That's all behind me. I'm ready to start playing football now."

The relief won't last long. The elusive receiver and kick returner who drews comparisons Saturday with Deion Sanders gets to play for Cincinnati's other pro team, the one that wins much, much less than the Reds.

When commissioner Paul Tagliabue called his name, Warrick went from one of the top collegaite football programs of the '90s to the NFL's worst team of the decade.

The national champion Seminoles didn't lose a game last season, going 12-0. By contrast, the Bengals lost a dozen games and haven't had a winning season since 1990.

Bengals First-Round Draft Picks
Year  Player  Pos  School 
2000  Peter Warrick  WR  Florida State 
1999  Akili Smith  QB  Oregon  
1998  Takeo Spikes  LB  Auburn 
1998  Brian Simmons  LB  North Carolina 
1997  Reinard Wilson  DE  Florida State 
1996  Willie Anderson  OT  Auburn 
1995  Ki-Jana Carter (x)  RB  Penn State 
1994  Dan Wilkinson (x)  DT  Ohio State 
1993  John Copeland  DE  Alabama 
1992  David Klingler  QB  Houston 
1992  Darryl Williams  Miami 
1991  Alfred Williams  LB  Colorado 
1990  James Francis  LB  Baylor 
1989  NO PICK       
1988  Rickey Dixon  CB  Oklahoma 
1987  Jason Buck  DE  Brigham Young 
1986  Joe Kelly  LB  Washington 
1986  Tim McGee  WR  Tennessee 
1985  Eddie Brown  WR  Miami 
1985  Emanuel King  LB  Alabama 
1984  Ricky Hunley  LB  Arizona 
1984  Pete Koch  DE  Maryland 
1984  Brian Blados  OL  North Carolina 
1983  Dave Rimington  Nebraska 
1982  Glen Collins  DE  Miss. State 
1981  David Verser  WR  Kansas 
1980  Anthony Munoz  OT  USC 
1979  Jack Thompson  QB  Washington State 
1978  Ross Browner  DE  Notre Dame 
1978  Blair Bush  Washington 
1977  Eddie Edwards  DE  Miami 
1977  Wilson Whitley  DT  Houston 
1977  Mike Cobb  TE  Michigan State 
1976  Billy Brooks  WR  Oklahoma 
1976  Archie Griffin  RB  Ohio State 
1975  Glenn Cameron  LB  Florida 
1974  Bill Kollar  DT  Montana State 
1973  Isaac Curtis  WR  San Diego State 
1972  Sherman White  DE  California 
1971  Vernon Holland  OT  Tennessee State 
1970  Mike Reid  DT  Penn State 
Since 1970
X -- No. 1 pick

Warrick hadn't followed the Bengals, hadn't seen them play, hadn't even been to Cincinnati when he was drafted. He knew they don't win much.

"I ain't never played for a team like that," he said.

And that's not going to change once he arrives, at least not immediately. He knew that, too.

"I heard that," he said. "In time, though. In time."

Six months ago, draft day was supposed to be the culmination of a joyous year for Warrick. He returned for his senior season at Florida State to win a national championship and did just that, becoming the catalyst in a 46-29 win over Virginia Tech that clinched the title.

But Warrick missed out on the Heisman Trophy because of his arrest in October. He was suspended for two games and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of petty theft - he paid $21.40 for $412.38 worth of clothing at a Dillard's department store in Tallahassee.

"He made a mistake. He owns up to it. I think he paid a tremendous price," Bengals general manager Mike Brown said. "He may have been the Heisman award winner. To lose that opportunity is a tremendous sanction in and of itself beyond what he paid otherwise.

"He's been punished. He's been straightforward about all this. He regrets it and says so. I think in the future he'll fly straight and fly high. We don't have real concerns about his character."

The Cleveland Browns singled him out as the leading candidate for the top pick in the draft, another one of Warrick's goals. They said their priority was to assemble a cast to surround quarterback Tim Couch, last year's No. 1 pick.

By early March, the Browns had changed their minds and were leaning towards defensive end Courtney Brown - whom they chose Saturday - or linebacker LaVar Arrington, who went to Washington with the second pick.

And draft analysts around the country kept bringing up the slow time Warrick had in his 40-yard dash. By Saturday, Warrick knew he'd go no better than fourth.

"I mean, after all the controversy and stuff ... " he said, his voice trailing off.

There was no controversy in the Bengals' minds. A team known for producing receivers like Isaac Curtis, Eddie Brown, Cris Collinsworth and Carl Pickens figured it had gotten another one.

Although the Bengals were willing to consider offers to move down in the draft, they didn't come close to any deal. General manager Mike Brown said the Bengals talked to the New York Jets three days earlier, but not about trading draft positions.

The Bengals are listening to offers for Pickens, a disgruntled receiver whom Warrick will replace sooner or later.

"There wasn't anything that at all enticed us," Brown said. "We like our pick. We're happy with what we get."

The concern will be getting him under contract. Last year, quarterback Akili Smith missed virtually all of training camp in a contract impasse.

Warrick has a different agent - Mike George of SFX Sports Group - but most likely will be facing the same tough-bargaining stance that Smith encountered.

Asked Saturday if he knew who Warrick's agent was, Brown looked to an assistant coach for help.

"You can tell how much we focus on the agents in the draft," Brown said, chuckling. "We just don't. Now we're going to have to. The fun will begin shortly and I'll know his name better."

Related information
Dr. Z's Mock Draft: Reshuffling the draft board
SI's King: Cleveland agrees to terms with Brown
Browns take Penn State DE Courtney Brown with first pick
SI's Peter King: 5 Things I Think I Think
Cardinals get their running back at No. 7 in first round
Steelers thrilled to nab 'playmaker' Burress at No. 8

Warrick expects his past problems to make things easier in the future. (2.27 M)
Peter Warrick says it's all about what you do on the field.
  • Start(2.01 M)
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