The Draft Doctor
Dr. Z's position-by-position look at the NFL Draft
Posted: Tue April 14, 1998 at 6:00 PM ET
Dr.'s orders: Zimmerman says NFL cornerbacks will give Marshall's Moss tons of problems off the line of scrimmage
Paul Zimmerman, Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z, takes a look at the top five players at every position in this year's NFL Draft.
1. Peyton Manning, Tennessee and Ryan Leaf, Washington State. A paired entry, since they'll go one-two in the draft. Manning, poised, professional, heady, offers the quick fix for now. Leaf, with the bigger stature and bigger gun, shows greater untapped potential -- which, as we know, doesn't always pan out.
3. Brian Griese, Michigan. What's not to like? Fine leader who elevates his game in the crunch situations. Arm not strong enough? They said that about his father, too, and he's in the Hall of Fame.
4. John Dutton, Nevada-Reno. A size-and-speed developmental type who can light up the board when he gets hot.
5. Jonathan Quinn, Middle Tennessee State. Bet you don't know MTSU's nickname. Me, neither, but I know they have one. Quinn ran a 4.57 at the combine workouts. He has a gun. Intriguing prospect.
1. Curtis Enis, Penn State. A gathering force at 242 pounds, and they'll all be knocking themselves out to trade up for him. But I'm not in love with the idea that he missed the biggest game of the year, the Citrus Bowl, because he'd signed with an agent.
2. Fred Taylor, Florida. A slashing 226-pounder with 4.46 speed who ran for 234 yards vs. Penn State, minus Enis, in the Citrus Bowl.
3. John Avery, Mississippi. Fastest time at the combine (4.37). Terrific cutting ability and burst. Reminds me of Dalton Hilliard at LSU.
4. Robert Holcombe, Illinois. Honest, dedicated runner who gained 1,253 for the 0-11 Illini.
5. Robert Edwards, Georgia. Hampered by foot and ankle problems. Productive when healthy. Can catch the ball, too.
1. Kevin Dyson, Utah. Big (6-foot-1, 199 pounds) and speedy (4.46), and showed good, disciplined route-running ability in his seven-catch Senior Bowl game.
2. Jacquez Green, Florida. A little guy, but all he does is make big plays.
3. Germane Crowell, Virginia. Impressive size (6'3", 210), untapped potential. A developmental project.
4. Marcus Nash, Tennessee. Peyton Manning's go-to guy. Fine hands, excellent athletic ability.
5. Joe Jurevicius, Penn State. Huge (6-foot-5, 231 pounds) wideout who might go inside in the NFL. No blazer (4.62), but interesting because of his size.
Note: If you're looking for Marshall's all-world Randy Moss, you won't find him in this list, even if it went 20 deep. Will get downfield in a hurry if they give him room, but he'll get buried by NFL-style bump and run.
1. Stephen Alexander, Oklahoma. Athletic receiver who can run (4.62) and jump. Works hard on his catching. More of an h-back type than an in-line blocker.
2. Cam Cleeland, Washington. Massive at 273 pounds. Possession receiver, decent blocker.
3. Alonzo Mayes, Oklahoma State. Another run (4.71) and catch guy. Only negative: coming off shoulder surgery.
4. Blake Spence, University of Oregon. Tough competitor. Good productivity.
5. Chris Fontenot, McNeese State. Undersized at 237 pounds, but his speed (4.78) and leaping ability make him interesting.
Auburn's Riley (68) isn't as highly touted as former Tiger lineman Willie Anderson, but his stock is rising heading into the draft
1. Kyle Turley, T, San Diego State. Dedicated worker, strong and tenacious. Ran a 4.93 at the combine. At 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds, considered undersized in this era of 350-pound monsters. But, hey, Denver did it with shrimps.
2. Tra Thomas, T, Florida State. No such problems here, unless you consider 6-foot-7 1/2, 349 small. Athletic for his size. Will get an immediate baptism by the NFL team that drafts him, probably in the Top 10 of the first round.
3. Victor Riley, T, Auburn. Stock has gone way up in the weeks before the draft. A 338-pounder with good quickness.
4. Mo Collins, T, Florida. Had a big game against Florida State's Andre Wadsworth, had so-so games at other times, but he's 337 pounds and his star has also risen recently.
5. Alan Faneca, G, Louisiana State. A compact boomer who really knocks 'em off the line. Reminds me of the ex-L.A. Ram Tom Newberry. Even wears the same number, 66.
Note.: Personal favorite who probably won't go high in the draft -- John Wade, C, Marshall. Precise, crisp, drive-blocker. A perfect fit for Denver.
1. Andre Wadsworth, E, Florida State. They're calling him another Bruce Smith. I'd hold off on that one for a while, but at the college level he had it all: size (6-foot-3 1/2, 278), speed (4.65), technique and burst coming off the corner.
2. Grant Wistrom, E, Nebraska. Relentless worker. Pass rush built on hustle and desire.
3. Vonnie Holliday, T, North Carolina. Fine initial quickness and has the technique to play two-gap in a 4-3 defense.
4. Greg Ellis, E, North Carolina. Athletic hustler who has the scouts all predicting mid-first round. Frankly, I liked a few of his teammates better than he in the one look I had at the Tar Heels did, but maybe I caught him on an off day. I just didn't see him making enough plays.
5. Eric Ogbogu, E, Maryland. Pumped up 245-pounder who now goes 270. A head-scratcher for the scouts, but I love his desire. Will scratch, claw, do anything to get to the passer.
Georgia Tech's Brooking has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, and is likely to be among the top 10 picks on Saturday
1. Keith Brooking, Georgia Tech. A do-it-all guy who's sturdy at the point and can run and cover. Big enough (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) to play inside.
2. Brian Simmons, North Carolina. Projects as a weak-side 'backer, based on 4.60 speed and coverage ability. At 238, should be big enough to take on blockers.
3. Takeo Spikes, Auburn. Smallish inside LB, at 6-foot-1/2 and 236 pounds, but hustles and makes plays all over the field, a la Baltimore's Ray Lewis.
4. Anthony Simmons, Clemson. Looks like the weak-side, or open side, position was made for him. Small at 6-foot 231 pounds and blitzed so much that his coverage ability is basically unknown, but he's got the speed (4.55) and tenacity to make it work.
5. Ron Rogers, Georgia Tech, and Kivuusama Mays, North Carolina. Paired entry because they're both the same type. Won't get drafted high because they're not especially speedy, hence they project to two-down, inside players who'll come out on the nickel. But all they do is make plays. They're always around the ball.
1. Charles Woodson, Michigan. Reminds me of Deion in that he'll cat-and-mouse a receiver, bait him by letting him catch a few shorties, then jump on the next one for an interception that turns the game around. Plays with the same athletic arrogance.
2. Duane Starks, Miami. Small at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, and possibly a bit frail, but he runs a 4.38 and can cover anything with a heartbeat.
3. Brian Kelly, Southern Cal. Tenacious and tough with the size (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) to cover bigger receivers. The only thing holding him back is less-than-blazing speed (4.54).
4. Terry Fair, Tennessee. It's weird the way the size things works. At 5-foot-9 1/2" he's only an inch and a half shorter than Kelly, but teams in divisions with big wideouts say he'll have a problem against their competition. No problem with his speed (4.38) or coverage instincts.
5. Corey Chavous, Vanderbilt. Sturdy, compact, 5-foot-11 1/2", 204-pounder who does everything well except run fast (4.54).
With great speed and size, UCLA's Williams (32) has turned himself into a possible early pick
1. Shaun Williams, UCLA. Prediction: He'll go a lot higher than anyone expects, like early first round. At 6-foot-1 1/2", 211, he's big enough to play strong, and his 4.44 speed projects him to corner, if needed. Plus, he hits like a linebacker. Could be one of the great picks of the '98 draft.
2. Tebucky Jones, Syracuse. Terrific performance in the combine workouts -- 4.40 and high marks in the jumps and agility drills -- project this gifted athlete to possible first-round consideration.
3. Donovan Darius, Syracuse. Played strong safety for the Orangemen. Solid 211-pounder who makes a lot of tackles.
4. Tony Parrish, Washington. A free safety who was big enough, at 206, to come up and play near the line. Good run-hit ratio.
5. Scott Frost, Nebraska. Ran for 1,096 yards and 19 TDs as Nebraska's quarterback, but in the Hula Bowl they gave him a taste of strong safety and he looked at home. And did you catch him running downfield on special teams? At 6-foot-2 1/2", 219, with 4.59 speed, he becomes a most interesting projection.