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Draft Analysis: Round 1


 
Pat Kirwan has spent many a draft in the war room as an NFL scout and assistant personnel director. Here is his pick-by-pick analysis for the first and second rounds of the 2001 NFL Draft:

Round 2 Analysis

31: Baltimore Ravens | Todd Heap | TE | Arizona St. Sun Devils
It's amazing to me that a player of this caliber falls all the way to 31 and the Super Bowl champions. It's a classic example of a very good team getting better. Brian Billick knows exactly how to use Todd Heap. Last year in the Super Bowl, in their two-tight end sets, Ben Coates caught three critical passes. This guy will catch those same three passes and create more damage with his running. At 252 pounds, he runs 4.65. It will be hard to defend a team with Shannon Sharpe, Todd Heap and any two of their wide receivers on the field at the same time. NFL teams don't like to draft tight ends in the first round and that worked to Baltimore's benefit.
30: Indianapolis Colts | Reggie Wayne | WR | Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Probably the most polished receiver in the draft who understands route running better than most of the receivers taken before him and has excellent hands. To think that he is going to be on the field with Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James and an accurate passer in Peyton Manning, he could lead rookie receivers in receptions this season.
29: St. Louis Rams | Ryan Pickett | DT | Ohio St. Buckeyes
Was a late riser into the first round. Two weeks ago he was clearly a second-round pick but his athleticism and his size have made him an intriguing prospect. One coach told me he's young and doesn't play hard all the time but thought he could get his game up to the next level. He now lines up next to Damione Lewis, whose motor never shuts down and Pickett will quickly learn to pick up the pace. He will be the nose tackle in all likelihood and Lewis will be the stunting 3-technique. At 6-3, 294 pounds, he ran 4.98 in the 40, and more importantly ran 4.48 in the short shuttle, which tells me he has the suddenness and the change of direction to be disruptive.
28: Oakland Raiders | Derrick Gibson | S | Florida St. Seminoles
It was no secret the Raiders were in search of a safety early in this draft. They may have liked Adam Archuleta more but would not move up to pick him. Gibson will take care of the problems the Raiders had in the AFC Championship Game when a safety missed a key tackle. Gibson gets mixed reviews, but the people that like him really like him. He's big and athletic enough to play some man coverage against wideouts.
27: Minnesota Vikings | Michael Bennett | HB | Wisconsin Badgers
Was ranked as the third running back all along and that's where he went. He has a reputation for world-class speed but he's also lacking some vision when to cut back or help create a hole. As one RB coach described him to me, if the hole is there, he's gone. If not, he doesn't know how to create yet. Minnesota needed a replacement for Robert Smith and he was the best available.
26: Miami Dolphins | Jamar Fletcher | CB | Wisconsin Badgers
An interesting pick by the Dolphins. In the AFC East, there's always room for a short, sudden player. The Jets have Aaron Glenn, the Bills have Antoine Winfield -- both in the same mold. The slot receivers in the AFC are short, explosive players like Terry Glenn, Santana Moss, Dedric Ward and Marvin Harrison. Since you must win your division first, you must have players who can mirror those receivers. Fletcher can do that. Miami plays excellent defense and forces most of their opponents to a larger number of passing down situations which in turn drives the Dolphins into nickel and dime defenses, so Fletcher will play more.
25: Philadelphia Eagles | Freddie Mitchell | WR | UCLA Bruins
At one point was considered a second-round pick but a 4.4 40 got him in the first round. The Eagles really liked him and would've been disappointed if he were taken prior to 25. He was their guy and will do a tremendous job. He's polished and has the capability to make a big play after catching the ball. He has shown great body control working the sidelines.
24: Denver Broncos | Willie Middlebrooks | CB | Minnesota Golden Gophers
A big corner that started out the offseason as a second-round pick and moved up quickly in his personal workouts on campus. Some people have some questions about him medically, others say he's fine. He has speed and at 6-1, 200 pounds, his 4.4 40 made him a "best available athlete" type pick.
23: New Orleans Saints | Deuce McAllister | HB | Ole Miss Rebels
Clearly the best player left on every board. A wise choice by the Saints with Ricky Williams acting like he doesn't want to be there. This is a versatile, big back that can line up in a one-back set as a power runner -- he can bounce outside and change gears like Eric Dickerson. He can line up as a wide receiver and look for a mismatch. He doesn't have to leave the field for any down-and-distance situation. Williams is going to have to grow up, but he sure doesn't have to show up.
22: New York Giants | Will Allen | CB | Syracuse Orangemen
He has been the cornerback the Giants wanted all along. They were afraid there would be a run on corners, which is why they traded up. I was told they were not going to take a tight end in the first round, but they had been trying to move up to about where they picked. He has ability as a returner and is probably the fastest corner in the draft. His critics call him a workout warrior, but I think he will do real good things in John Fox's defense. At 192 pounds and with great speed, Fox will blitz Allen off the edge on the short side. Dave Thomas was not as bad as everyone thought last year, and Allen could be brought along slowly as the nickel back rather than throwing him to the wolves. He's not the tallest corner, but he's tall enough and his 3.90 short shuttle tells me he can change direction and open his hips. A nice addition to a Super Bowl team.
21: Buffalo Bills | Nate Clements | CB | Ohio St. Buckeyes
In January there were two first-round corners - Jamar Fletcher and Fred Smoot. Fletcher is small and Smoot is known for his pass coverage only. As the evaluation process went on, Nate emerged on every board as the top prospect. He's big and physical probably Donahoe selected the best available player at this time. Nate should start the run on corners. With Clements on the roster, he automatically becomes the nickel back and will line up on the outside receiver and given Antoine Winfield the assignment on the slot receiver - Winfield on Santana Moss and Terry Glenn. It's a nice place for Nate to come and not get exposed early like a lot of young cornerbacks do.
20: St. Louis Rams | Adam Archuleta | S | Arizona St. Sun Devils
Many defensive coordinators told me he was the best defensive prospect in this draft. He will have no trouble in the transition from outside linebacker to safety, he looked very natural at the Senior Bowl. He has great measurables, and one highly respected coordinator told me he has a shot at the Pro bowl this year or the year after. Some might think that he was chosen early, but in the last four days I started to think he might go as high as 15. This Rams defense got so much better with the last two picks. With another one still to go, they could be completely fixed today.
19: Pittsburgh Steelers | Casey Hampton | DT | Texas Longhorns
Hampton was considered the second-best tackle at Texas behind Shaun Rogers all along. Rogers had the label of a bit of an underachiever. Hampton was a leader, big-effort guy. Bill Cowher has to love a player like Hampton, who plays in the mold of Russell Maryland. In the Pittsburgh 3-4 defense, he will start at nose tackle right away and is stout enough to hold the point and force some double teams. After the last two first-round picks at wide receiver, this is more of the kind of pick the Steelers were known for.
18: Detroit Lions | Jeff Backus | OT | Michigan Wolverines
Backus is an interesting pick for Detroit. Third-best left tackle in the draft. But because Detroit has two offensive tackles, don't be surprised if he moves inside to guard. The Redskins were keen on Backus as a guard, so it won't be surprising if he moves over. He's a short-armed guy and struggles in space a little. Playing left guard for a year or two will help him. With the loss of Jeff Hartings, even though they signed Brendan Stai, this is a safe, solid first pick in Matt Millen's career.
17: Seattle Seahawks | Steve Hutchinson | OG | Michigan Wolverines
Many compare him to Steve Wisniewski of the Raiders. He's by far the best guard in the draft and could be a great left tackle. He's not built like a guard, he's built like a tackle at 6-foot-5. Hutchinson is one of the safest picks in this draft and is an automatic 10-year starter. Watch him in front of a screen pass, watch him pull, watch him maul an inside linebacker. This guy is a treat for the real football fans.
16: New York Jets | Santana Moss | WR | Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Two special teams coaches told me he was the finest return prospect in this draft. He is a threat to go all the way when he has the ball in his hands. He is the same player who will catch the short passes in the slot. The Jets have just become a very dangerous football team in the three-WR offenses. When you take a player in the first round, don't worry about the fact he's 5-foot-9. Between the punts, kickoffs and receiving, he has a chance to touch the ball 15 times a game. The Jets said they wanted him and they even moved up to get him. They had to think Detroit was going to take him, which was why they traded up.
15: Washington Redskins | Rod Gardner | WR | Clemson Tigers
He emerged as the third-best receiver on most boards. He's a big athletic wideout who will team with Michael Westbrook to give the Redskins a good receiver corps. They needed to draft a receiver after losing Albert Connell and James Thrash to free agency and Andre Reed and Irving Fryar to retirement. There was a sentiment that they would take one of the Michigan linemen, so in some sense it was a surprise at this point in the draft. Gardner has the speed and the range to be a very good weapon with strong-armed Jeff George throwing. Watch him on the deep balls.
14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Kenyatta Walker | OT | Florida Gators
He is the first player to fall slightly in this draft. Tampa Bay had to be shocked that he would be available to them if they moved to 14. Many feel he is the best tackle prospect in this draft. He's a tremendous athlete -- he ran 4.60 in the short shuttle, which shows his ability to change direction against great pass rushers and the ability to pull and become a trapping tackle or lead a sweep. He is going to move from right tackle to left tackle which is a concern of mine, but with his athletic ability, he can do it.
13: Jacksonville Jaguars | Marcus Stroud | DT | Georgia Bulldogs
Another tough Georgia defensive player with rare size. While at the Combine, I was most impressed with his lateral movement and his ability to make plays on tape was based on those movement skills. There were a number of clubs that liked him as a football player as much as college teammate Richard Seymour. An interesting pick for the Jaguars and did not appear to be one of their top-three needs, but I'm sure he was their best available player on their board when they went. Stroud is now the ninth player of the first 13 drafted that plays with his hand on the ground. Big is in.
12: St. Louis Rams | Damione Lewis | DT | Miami (FL) Hurricanes
This is a stunt tackle. He will be on the move and is most effective moving on the snap of the ball. He has great quickness and will be disruptive in the backfield. D'Marco Farr had a similar style when he first played with the Rams. He's not stout enough to play the 2-gap during the game. Some criticized his 31-inch arms, but in my tape review, I thought he was an outstanding prospect as a 3-technique for a stunt front. Clearly St. Louis has to rebuild its defense and this is an exceptional start.
11: Carolina Panthers | Dan Morgan | ILB | Miami (FL) Hurricanes
At the Combine, every defensive coach I spoke with told me how impressed they were with him. He was and is the kind of football player every coach looks to coach. He's talented, he's smart and he's a leader. He should do for the Panthers immediately what Brian Urlacher did for the Bears. Some worry about how he takes on blockers and that he occasionally plays too high, but his speed and his relentlessness will overcome that. He should be a Pro Bowl player within a very few years. In the Carolina 4-3 defense, he should play the will linebacker where he can feature his football speed and aggressiveness. He could be a bigger version of Derrick Brooks and could be a 100 tackle-a-season player. As the will linebacker, he will play behind the defensive tackle and protect him from immediate blockers. It is also a premium position to be a blitzer.
10: Green Bay Packers | Jamal Reynolds | DE | Florida St. Seminoles
There were those who felt Jamal was as good or better than Justin Smith or Andre Carter during the season. This year, Carter said he kept an eye on Reynolds' sack totals. He has put on weight but he has to make sure not to lose his quickness. Ed Donatell knows how to play an undersized right defensive end. He has had Jeff Lageman with the Jets at 265 pounds and Alfred Williams with the Broncos at 255 pounds. The Green Bay defensive line has needed to be rebuilt since Reggie White retired. This is the first solid step in doing it. I thought they were going to trade up, but sitting still and getting Reynolds is good for the Packers' defense. He plays well with his hands and when he disengages from blockers, he has a second gear to close on the quarterback. Reynolds could become as productive as a Robert Porcher in a year or two.
9: Seattle Seahawks | Koren Robinson | WR | North Carolina St. Wolfpack
A tremendous young talent that was ranked ahead of David Terrell on a number of boards. Not for what he's done but what he's capable of doing in the future. Seattle, among others, was not concerned about his 4.6 40 time. They know he's faster than that. They believe that trying to run the 40 with a sore hamstring as a sign of toughness. He catches the ball away from his body with his hands, and will be extremely dangerous in the open field. Look for him to catch the quick slant and take off like Jerry Rice did when he was younger. Seattle rebuilt its defense in free agency and, with multiple first-round picks and extra picks gained in the move down with San Francisco, can really change this football team this year.
8: Chicago Bears | David Terrell | WR | Michigan Wolverines
The Bears decided they needed to give Cade McNown more weapons. Terrell will do that for them. Instantly, they have a big red-zone threat on the fade route. He is a faster Keyshawn Johnson. He brings firepower to a weak offense and will open up the running game. I know the Bears thought long and hard about Andre Carter and San Francisco's move ahead made the decision easy. There was no concern on the Bears' part about Terrell's less than spectacular campus workout. He has a controversial foot injury that he has already played with. At some point it may have to get addressed but at this time he was healthy enough to go this high in the draft.
7: San Francisco 49ers | Andre Carter | DE | California Golden Bears
I felt he was the best defensive end in the draft all along. He has 34 -inch arms and great leverage. His 30 sacks in college speak for itself. The son of a former NFL defensive lineman, he has a motor that never stops. This is Bill Walsh's last draft and like I said, I expect Bill to go out with a bang. Steve Mariucci recruited him out of college to go to Cal and then left him to go to the NFL. I'm sure he's glad to be reunited with him. The Niners moved up because the Bears thought they were going to take him.
6: New England Patriots | Richard Seymour | DT | Georgia Bulldogs
He has rare size. In a four-man front, he could be the left defensive end on first and second down. But in the 3-4 defense, he'll be the strong side tackle/end. He's stout enough to play the run and has enough agility and quickness to be a legit pass rush threat on early downs. What's interesting to me is that Bill Belichick built a fine Jets defense using low-salary players like Rick Lyle and Ernie Logan. It's a little different here, but as I've said all day, teams are thinking big. There are only a few athletes of this size who can move like Seymour. Some have questioned Seymour's toughness, but I think he's an excellent fit for the Patriots. The Patriots know they can come back in the second round to get a quality left tackle or big receiver.
5: San Diego Chargers | LaDainian Tomlinson | HB | TCU Horned Frogs
He played in an option offense in college and started as a second-round candidate in November because of it. He had great college production and went to a bowl game where he showed he could run between the tackles with speed, power and vision. At his personal workout, he showed he could catch. And during his personal interview, he showed what a great kid he is. He's a faster Emmitt Smith, and John Butler has built a great offense around a running back of the same size who wasn't as fast in Thurman Thomas. Tomlinson was No. 1 on their draft board. Criticizing the Chargers' pre-draft trade is easy, but when it was all said and done, they got the guy they wanted who would produce now and that's all they care about.
4: Cincinnati Bengals | Justin Smith | DE | Missouri Tigers
A coach's dream. He will be on the field for every passing situation as a rookie and with 10 more pounds, could stay on the field for all downs. Some teams are concerned about his lower body bulk but his motor and his technique should overcome that. The Cincinnati Bengals wanted a guy with high character and a big-time motor and they got one in Justin Smith. There is some concern about his short arms, like there was with Patrick Kearney, who Atlanta took in the first round a couple of years ago. He will be at least a Chad Bratzke and maybe more. His 4.58 40 is rare for a defensive end and he puts that to good use every snap.
3: Cleveland Browns | Gerard Warren | DT | Florida Gators
The people I've spoken to over the last month said he was the best defensive tackle in this draft. Once again, in a draft with a lot of people with similar grades, think big, and the next team did the same. The Cleveland Browns need offensive weapons but were also last against the run last season. Warren will help, he can play in a 2-gap scheme because of his quickness or a 1-gap scheme because he's 323 pounds. He can rush the passer and collapse the pocket. Some say he's not Warren Sapp but it doesn't matter. For the Browns, he could be everything Corey Simon was for the Eagles. Last year, the Eagles needed a receiver and they took a defensive tackle in the first round. This year, Warren will have more sacks inside than last year's defensive tackle starters combined. The Baltimore Ravens have popularized two big defensive tackles inside if you want a very good defense. Cleveland is on its way.

If you are concerned about offensive firepower, this is the right draft to wait until the second and third round. With a pick at 33 and 65, they will address both of those needs.

2: Arizona Cardinals | Leonard Davis | OT | Texas Longhorns
Like I've said many times before, when the draft has a number of players packed in with the same grade, think big. The Arizona Cardinals did with a surprise selection of Leonard Davis from the University of Texas. L.J. Shelton can move inside and Leonard will be plugged in at tackle for the next 10-15 years. The critics say he's not Jonathan Ogden, but who is. But over time he can get close to him. He's already a dominant run blocker and a better than average pass blocker. He's remarkably light on his feet and has shown to have a great "punch" and is able to knock defenders off their feet. The Arizona running game should improve dramatically and Jake Plummer should get more time to throw. This is a good move. And I know this was very disappointing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
1: Atlanta Falcons | Michael Vick | QB | Virginia Tech Hokies
He's a rare athlete, probably the best prospect in this draft. I was surprised San Diego decided not to draft him. The contract framework with Atlanta showed it might've not been that hard to sign Vick. He got $3 million to sign, $15 million guaranteed in the first three years and a six-year deal in total. There are those who felt Norv Turner wasn't convinced he was a franchise quarterback. Time will tell. In the new era of NFL offenses, quarterbacks with movement are a premium. Years ago they harnessed these athletes and kept them in the pocket. Atlanta will build an offense to let him feature his skills. Nobody was happier about this trade than AFC West defensive coordinators. My fear is that he will have to play too soon and the potential for a Cade McNown/Akili Smith experience is real.

 

   
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