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Q&A:'s Pat Kirwan

AFC teams stock up on receivers in early stages

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Posted: Monday April 17, 2000 01:54 AM


CNN/Sports Illustrated's Bob Fiscella talked with football analyst Pat Kirwan about his thoughts on the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

Bob Fiscella: I'm with our draft expert Pat Kirwan who did enough of these during his days in the NFL. Pat, as always, an unpredictable first round. What to you kind of stands out the most or sort of catches your eye?

Pat Kirwan: The one thing that caught my eye right away is that the AFC teams went out and got wide receivers. Four were taken in the first 21 picks and the AFC teams really like the players that have been injected into their conference to help score touchdowns.

One of my favorites, obviously, is Peter Warrick who went to Cincinnati. Bruce Coslet was ecstatic to get him. He's a big-play maker. You are going to see him catching touchdowns, running reverses for touchdowns, punt and kick returns -- the guy has it all.

After him, Plaxico Burress out of Michigan State is an exceptionally large player and an excellent talent. He's going to be a big scorer in the AFC. So expect this trend to keep going. I love the players that have been brought to the AFC at the wide receiver position.

Fiscella: A lot of first-round surprises. Jamal Lewis was taken fifth overall by Baltimore. Was that in your mind the biggest surprise in the first round?

Kirwan: Bob, absolutely not. The biggest surprise was kicker Sebastian Janikowski, the kicker that the Raiders took. This guy -- first off I love that they broke the mold of where you should take kickers. They took a guy who can win games.

It's Better to Receive graphic Click image for a larger view.  

Jon Gruden and I spoke, and Jon understands that this is an 8-8 league. If you have a kicker, you have a chance to be 10-6. If you don't have a kicker, you are going to be 6-10. Jon has given himself that competitive edge. He also has a guy that is going to break the National Football League record for field goals over 50 yards and the longest field goal. You also have to look at these hashmarks -- they are in closer than the college hashmarks, so he's going to be more accurate than he was, and he was a great kicker anyway.

He's taken the kickoff return out of the arsenal of the opponents. And the key to what he's going to bring is that he's going to change Jon Gruden's playcalling, because he has a weapon on the sidelines now that he understand is an opportunity to do something different.

Fiscella: He's just the fifth placekicker ever taken in the first round. The Jets became the first team to ever have four first-round picks. We expected a trade, but it never happened. How did they do?

Kirwan: They addressed many of their needs here. They went and got Anthony Becht, who is the tight end that I knew they were interested in all along. I'm very happy they took him late in the first round.

I know Anthony, I spent some time with him this spring. Bill Parcells has always been successful when he's had a great tight end -- Mark Bavaro with the Giants and Ben Coates with the Patriots. This kid right here is a lot like Mark Bavaro. He's going to give them weapon in the red zone, and be a scoring threat just like Mark Bavaro did for the Giants. He'll do a great job.

Fiscella: Shaun Ellis?

Kirwan: I love Shaun. Shaun is a guy that can stay on the field the whole game. He's got great pass-rush skills already and he can really help you with the running game. Whether it's the 4-3 or the 3-4, he's their man.

Pat Kirwan, who spent 12 years in the NFL as a coach, scout and personnel administrator, is an NFL analyst for CNN/Sports Illustrated. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer.

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