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Judgment Day
The heat is on personnel chiefs to draft college players who will have immediate impact
The Sky's the Limit
Andre Wadsworth has become the defensive player most coveted by the NFL
Drafting Moss a risk worth taking

Leaf vs. Manning

A Decade of Drafting

War Room Mock Round 1

Updated April 17, 1998

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1. Indianapolis Peyton Manning QB SR Tennessee 7.60
Manning seems to be the perfect fit here with new head coach Jim Mora & GM Bill Polian. Mora has an excellent relationship w/ Manning's father Archie and Peyton is a player that this troubled franchise can build around. He is the most prepared college QB to enter the NFL in several years, in terms of maturity, instincts and an overall feel for the game and he should be able to step in from day one as a starter and lead this team. Although it is unlikely that the Colts will make any moves with this pick, they may entertain offers all the way up until draft day. There are alot of rumors floating around, but it would be shocking if they did anything else but select Manning. GM Bill Polian will always be on the lookout for a blockbuster deal and there are several NFL teams that could make a run at this pick, but they simply would have to give up too much to get there. Look for this to be an easy decision for the Colts.
2. San Diego (from Arizona) Ryan Leaf QB JR Washington St. 7.70
Bobby Beathard paid dearly to trade up one spot to get in position to draft Leaf, but he really had no choice. The Chargers did not have a quality NFL quarterback going into the '98 season and San Diego fans are getting restless and they need a young and talented guy to build around. Many people thought the Chargers would sign QB Rob Johnson, who wound up going from Jacksonville to Buffalo. Johnson had a relationship with head coach Kevin Gilbride, but when that deal did not work out, Leaf became the best option available. Although the Chargers have been criticized for giving up next year's #1 pick, in addition to their second round pick this year and veteran players Eric Metcalfe & Patrick Sapp, the Chargers really had no choice. They had to have a QB and Leaf is their guy.
3. Arizona from (San Diego) Andre Wadsworth DE SR Florida St. 7.90
The Cardinals love Wadsworth and his ability (he is probably the best football player in this draft), but they will have alot of options available to them. There is no question that a front 4 of Wadsworth, Eric Swann, Mark Smith & Simeon Rice would be formiddable and would go a long ways towards making this defense respectable. They already have three picks in the first two rounds and they must figure out a way to fill needs at OT and DS, although a DE like Wadsworth is certainly a nice bonus. The guess here is that although the Cardinals will be offered a ton for this pick that they will stay here and draft Wadsworth. Players with his ability don't come along very often and he could easily be a Pro Bowl type player.
4. Oakland Charles Woodson DC JR Michigan 7.80
Ordinarily this would be a pick where sanity would start to rule, as it looks like Charles Woodson and the Raiders are a perfect fit at this spot. However, we are talking about the Raiders and they are likely to do some unconventional things on draft day. One thing that is already alarming is that they are saying publicly that they love Woodson and they have him penciled in as a starting DC. When an organization makes statements like that this close to the draft, it can tend to be a smokescreen. Woodson is a great Raider type player and he would fill a critical need in their aging secondary as a m/m cover guy and also a return specialist. The Raiders could do something totally different like drafting talented WR Randy Moss with this pick to give Jeff George and new head coach Jon Gruden another big time offensive weapon. Al Davis loves talented WRs and Moss would be the perfect Raider fit as a guy with unbelievable talent, but some questionable baggage. It is also possible that Woodson would go at #3 if Jacksonville or another team needing a DC can make a trade with Arizona. The Raiders would then likely take Andre Wadsworth because he is the best player on the board and he would be added to their already crowded defensive line. One thing we have learned about Al Davis, he can never have enough DL and pass rushers on his roster. Wadsworth would also be joining a group of huge underachievers and he might actually bring some production and positive attitude to this unit. This is also another pick that may be fun to watch on draft day, as the Raiders are likely to do anything.
5. Chicago Randy Moss WR JR Marshall 7.55
The Bears have alot of pressure to have a quality draft this year and they must make the right moves. It has been well documented that they are in love with DE Andre Wadsworth, but for them to flop with Arizona at #3, they would have to give up a quality pick and this is an organization that needs every player that it can get. There is an outside chance that the Cardinals would make a deal if RB Curtis Enis was the guy that they wanted. He would be available at the fifth pick and allow Chicago to move up and get Wadsworth. However, in all likelihood, the Bears may be stuck at #5, although there have been rumors that they would like to trade down and acquire additional picks. Head coach Dave Wannstedt has alot of pressure on him and he needs an impact player that will "juice up" this team. Even though there is some risk involved, WR Moss seems to be the perfect candidate for the struggling Bears. If he stays out of trouble and lives up to his potential, he is capable of injecting big plays into the Bear offense and he would team nicely with WRs Conway and Engram. Moss is the only guy left on the board that can have a huge impact as a rookie for the Bears and have a major role in winning football games. There is a possibility that they could take Georgia Tech LB Keith Brooking, who is really a hot guy, but they would probably attempt to move down a couple of spots if Brooking was their guy. There is no assurance that the conservative Bear organization will take Moss, but it certainly seems to fit and he has alot more momentum at this pick than he did a month ago. NOTE: There are some late rumors surfacing that the Bears definitely want to trade down which may adversely affect the St. Louis Rams. A strong scenario that may be likely is that whoever would trade with the Bears to move into the #5 spot would do it to draft RB Curtis Enis, which would beat the Rams to the punch. If these circumstances are true, it could alter the order the players come off the board from #5-10.
6. St. Louis Curtis Enis RB JR Penn St. 7.40
This is a tough pick to predict because the Rams are a team that could go in several directions. They are another organization that loves Andre Wadsworth and if the Cardinals are willing to deal, there is an outside chance that they could swap with Arizona and get Wadsworth, which would still allow the Cardinals to come down and get a RB such as Enis. The Rams desperately need a franchise RB, although journeyman Jerald Moore did a decent job replacing Lawrence Phillips at the end of the '97 season. Curtis Enis makes alot of sense here and might finally give the St. Louis offense the stability that it needs in the run game and would also take pressure off young QB Tony Banks. It would not be surprising at all if the Rams would bypass Enis and select Keith Brooking, who certainly merits the pick, but based on the Rams LB core, it does not look like a real serious need. St Louis desperately needs a starting OG and a DE, but nobody really fits perfectly here, unless they trade down a few spots to pick up Grant Wistrom. A long shot here could be one of the two big DTs, Vonnie Holliday or Jason Peter, which would give the Rams a more physical presence inside and improve their run defense.
7. New Orleans Kyle Turley OT SR San Diego St. 7.20
The Saints have so many needs that it is difficult to tell what direction they would go. Most of their needs are in offense and Turley has been a guy that has shot up the draft charts in the off season. He had a great Indy workout and combines AA and good overall measurables with an outstanding work ethic and toughness that is sure to appeal to Mike Ditka. He would be a perfect fit at ROT as a bookend to LOT Willie Roaf and would start to give the Saints an OL that could compete on a weekly basis. The Saints would have loved to trade up to #2 with Arizona before they made the deal with San Diego and they actually had a good offer on the table, according to inside sources, but they weren't able to pull it off. They still need a QB, but will likely settle with veteran Billy Jo Hobert for another year. With the inability to go and get the QB, don't look for the Saints to make alot of rash moves with this pick. They need alot of players and they certainly want to give up draft picks and it is even somewhat unlikely that they would trade down to pick up additional selections. If Turley isn't there guy, there is a possibility that they could nab RB Curtis Enis, if he slips by St. Louis and WR Randy Moss would certainly make alot of sense for this underachieving offense, if Ditka is comfortable with his character. Taking Turley at #7 is a little high, but he is a Mike Ditka type player that has been ascending dramatically in recent months and it is not that much of a reach.
8. Dallas Grant Wistrom DE SR Nebraska 7.35
Dallas is a team with a lot of needs and they could go several directions here. Jerry Jones loves to wheel and deal and he may try to be a "player" on draft day. They don't have a lot of give away, and they are suddenly a team that has so many needs, they may have to keep all of their picks. They are probably fairly confident at this stage that a good player will drop to them at the #8 spot. If Wistrom, Brooking, and even Randy Moss are all available, it could be a difficult decision, but Wistrom fills a tremendous need at DE for the Cowboys, and he will give them the outside pass rush intensity and work ethic that would really improve this defense. However, Brooking may be a guy that is rated a little higher on NFL draft boards, and certainly Moss would be a great complement to aging Cowboy WR Michael Irvin, yet the Cowboys aren't comfortable with his character. With strong salary cap, the Cowboys may have to rebuild this team through the draft because of their inability to be major players in free agency, so every pick needs to be a good one.
9. Jacksonville (from Buffalo) Fred Taylor RB SR Florida 6.50
This is somewhat of a tough pick to predict because Jacksonville has the ability to move up if they want to because of their multiple picks (#9 and #25). However, they are a very stable and confident organization, and the guess here is that they will stay at #9 and let a good player come to them, although the Bears at #5 will certainly entice them to trade up. Fred Taylor is a guy that has shot up the draft charts with a bullet in recent days, and he is a perfect fit as a big power-type RB to replace Natrone Means, who has moved on to San Diego. He is a guy that can give the Jaguars a ball control offense, and can move the chains, and would complement their passing game well. Although publicly the Jaguars seem to be expressing some faith in young RB James Stewart, Taylor may be too good to pass up here, although it is probably a little high to pick him. They also have strong needs at DE and DC and Wistrom could certainly be a consideration if he happened to fall to them, but the value at DC probably does not match the need. The Jaguars are a very smart personnel dept. and they will likely to very prepared for a variety of scenarios, and they will pick good football players that will improve an already strong team.
10. Baltimore Kevin Dyson WR SR Utah 6.80
The Ravens need more offensive weapons for new QB Jim Harbaugh and Dyson has really moved up the draft charts in the post season, coming off an excellent Senior Bowl. He is a big play guy with deep speed and has the ability to stretch a defense, which the Ravens sorely need. He has the potential to be an impact player. There are some pre-draft rumors that the Ravens would like to trade down and acquire extra picks and if they can find somebody to deal with, it would probably make alot of sense. They could get a guy like Dyson a few spots lower, which would match need and value a little better. It may be difficult, however, for them to get somebody to trade up because there don't appear to be any franchise type players at #10. The Ravens could also opt for either one of the big DTs, Vonnie Holliday or Jason Peter, which would improve their front 4 and give them some inside pass rush.
11. Philadelphia Tra Thomas OT SR Florida St. 7.13
The Eagles are another team with alot of glaring needs and although Thomas makes alot of sense and fills a huge need, projecting the Eagles to take another OT is really a gamble. They have had more bad luck at this position than any other in their draft history. Former first round picks, such as Antoine Davis, Bernard Williams, Lester Holmes and more recently, Jermaine Mayberry have really struggled and their lack of success has really held back this franchise. Thomas is the most talented OL in this draft and he would fit in nicely at LOT, which would allow the Eagles to move Mayberry to OG where he might be able to contribute. Young QB Bobby Hoying got beat up in '97 and he would certainly welcome a LOT that would protect his backside. If the Eagles do not go OT here, there are alot of other directions that make sense. They could grab a guy like WR Dyson if he drops, which would certainly give aging Irvin Fryar some help in the passing game as the Eagles desperately need more offensive weapons. They could also opt for one of the big DTs, such as Vonnie Holliday or Jason Peter. Although unlikely, they could even grab an RB even though they appear to be comfortable with Garner and Staley. It is unlikely that Enis would fall to them and the other RBs such as Fred Taylor and Robert Edwards do not merit a selection this high. The Eagles are a team that may try to trade down to accumulate addtional picks, especially with the influence of former Cleveland Browns GM Mike Lombardi in this draft. Lombardi and VP Joe Banner will look for ways to add extra players to this roster. If the Eagles are stuck at #11, they will get a quality player which will fill a need.
12. Atlanta Keith Brooking MLB SR Georgia Tech 7.40
The Falcons are another team with a lot of needs, and now that they are out of the QB sweepstakes ( at least at the top of the draft), they will likely go with the best player available, which could be Brooking. The Falcons should be ecstatic if he drops this far, and he would appear to be a fairly easy choice. His versatility really can add to the Falcon defense as he can play MLB and eventually replace an aging Jesse Tuggle, or he could start his career at OLB and upgrade a Falcon LB corp. in drastic need of some young talent. If the Falcons would happen to go another direction here, options are DT Vonnie Holliday, who is a big inside run stuffer, and would upgrade an already productive DL that lacks some inside size. Or they could possibly reach a little bit for MLB Takeo Spikes, if they have him rated higher than Brooking on their board. It is also possible that they could take a long look at WR Kevin Dyson, who has moved up on their draft board in recent days, especially with the loss of WR Bert Emanuel to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is likely to be a fairly conservative and safe pick, and it would be surprising if the Falcons make a lot of big moves on draft day. They are an organization that will build slowly and let the draft come to them.
13. Cincinnati Flozell Adams OT SR Michigan St. 7.05
The Bengals have huge needs on defense as their new 34 blitz attack struggled most of '97 due to lack of speed and athleticism at the LB position. The also have tremendous needs in the OL and if the other two OTs (Turley & Thomas are gone), Flozell Adams could be a nice fit here. He is a big physical guy with adequate movement and can step in immediately and upgrade this OL. If the Bengals decide against taking one of the big three OTs, they could certainly opt for defense and hope that a guy like Brooking would drop (which is unlikely) or they could reach a little bit for LB Takeo Spikes or even Anthony Simmons or Brian Simmons. This has been an underachieving defense and they must upgrade at the LB position to be successful.
14. Carolina Takeo Spikes MLB JR Auburn 7.00
Most of their needs are on defense as they have gotten old and they need to replace many of their front 7 players. DL and LB are huge needs here and will it require multiple acquisitions to get the problem solved. There are several players that would fit in nicely in this spot. The Panthers would love Georgia Tech's Keith Brooking, but he will be long gone by this pick. DTs, Vonnie Holliday or Jason Peter would certainly upgrade the inside run defense that the Panthers are looking for and Spikes would step in nicely for the departed Andre Royal at ILB. Anthony Simmons could be a long shot here and could play MLB or OLB. Obviously, if the Panthers obtain Gilbert, they will no longer have this pick and their needs will change at least on the DL. The one sure thing here is that Carolina will probably concentrate on defense early in this draft.
15. Seattle Anthony Simmons OLB JR Clemson 6.70
The Seahawks are somewhat unique, in the fact that they are a middle of the road NFL team with not alot of major needs or weaknesses. It is difficult to predict which direction they will go as they are a team that doesn't have a strong identity. Anthony Simmons would make some sense here because he has an outstanding AA and could easily move from MLB to OLB and replace veteran Winston Moss and give the Seattle defense more speed and athleticism. They could also opt for a WR to compliment Joey Galloway and if a guy like Kevin Dyson dropped, it might be very tempting for the Seahawk brass. This is a young team that is almost in a position to take the best athlete available and they will likely let the draft come to them and take the top graded player on their board, regardless of position. This will likely be a Seahawk draft that will not see alot of dramatic moves.
16. Tennessee Corey Chavous DC SR Vanderbilt 6.55
The Oilers had two major needs going into the off season, WR & DC. They went a long ways to solving their WR problems with the aquisition of Yancey Thigpen from Pittsburgh, but they still desperately need an outstanding DC. Chavous is a hot guy that is an ascending playing on most draft boards. He has had excellent spring workouts and he has the ability to play DC or DS. He is a highly desired commodity in today's NFL because he is big enough and physical enough DC to match up well with the big WRs in today's game and he can compete in the red zone. The Oilers must improve their cover skills in the secondary and Chavous would give them that plus additional athleticism and versatility, especially in nickel situations. It is unlikely that they would go to another position with this pick unless they are in love with one of their WRs or DTs. If WR Dyson is available or DT Holliday is still on the board, those are possibilities, but DC seems to be a perfect fit here and Chavous will provide value for a need.
17. Cincinnati (from Washington) Brian Simmons OLB SR North Carolina 7.10
The Bengals got a huge lift in the first round with the trade of underachiever DT Dan Wilkinson to Washington. They need help on both sides of the ball and they should be able to fill their needs with these two picks. If they don't take an LB at #13, they will likely fill that need with this pick and if he is still available, Brian Simmons is a very nice selection. He was a guy that was projected as a potential top five pick during the '97 season. He has cooled off a little bit on some draft boards, but is still a very solid football player. As mentioned earlier, the Bengals desperately need help in their 34 blitz attack at OLB and although Simmons is not really a blitzer, he may be one of the better all round OLBs in this draft. He does everything well and although he's not spectacular or flashy, he is a very solid football player. If for some reason the Bengals pass on Simmons, they could easily look at an Anthony Simmons if he drops and move him to a OLB rush position. Another possibility here for the Bengals is a DC, which is also a huge need. They could jump on a guy like Chavous if he was available or easily take a guy like Brian Kelly or Duane Starks. The Bengals should dramatically upgrade their roster with their two first round picks.
18. New England (from NY Jets) Vonnie Holliday DT SR N. Carolina 7.25
New England is in the enviable position of being able to pick the best athlete available, and they are a football team that does not have a lot of glaring needs. This is a little bit of a surprise if Holliday drops this far, but he would certainly fit in nicely as the Patriots could "beef up" their interior DL and Holliday is the perfect fit as a big inside run stuffer that has some penetration skills. He would give the Patriots more of a physical presence and take some pressure off the back 7. He is not a real exciting guy, but he is a very solid football player, and will probably play a long time. The Patriots could also use this pick to take an RB, like Robert Edwards, if they are afraid that he won't be there at #22, and they could even opt for a WR, if a guy like Dyson would drop (which is unlikely). They do seem to like young RB Sedric Shaw, so they may wait until their next pick to pick up an RB.
19. Miami Greg Ellis DE SR North Carolina 6.66
Although there has been alot of publicity about the Dolphins being in love with Florida's RB Fred Taylor, it may not be very likely that Miami would take a RB at this spot even though Jimmy Johnson has changed the Dolphin offense to a more run oriented philosophy. They have a load of RBs on their roster, including Lawrence Phillips, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and FB Stanley Pritchett, and although none of the three make Johnson giddy, there is enough talent there for the Dolphins to concentrate on other needs. DE is a definite possibility here and the Dolphins would love to have an edge rusher to compliment young DE Jason Taylor. Greg Ellis has been a great college producer in terms of sacks, although he is not a real flashy guy and is not real hot in this draft. He would be a nice value at this spot and would upgrade the Dolphin defense. Miami could also opt for a DS like Shaun Williams and they could even look at the OL, although there does not appear to be a candidate to merit the value at this spot. Jimmy Johnson and Bob Ackles have done such a good job drafting in the last two years that this is a very young team that does not have alot of glaring needs. They simply need more experience. That is why this is a little bit of a difficult pick to predict. However, some things are a given... Jimmy Johnson will select players who are great athletes, players who can run and players with intelligence. As we all know, Johnson is the orginal "wheeler & dealer" on draft day and he is total of making moves up or down. It is likely that he could make some moves that would help him acquire some additonal middle round picks which he loves.
20. Detroit Jason Peter DT SR Nebraska 7.30
The Lions lost DT Mike Wells in FA and replaced him with Atlanta's Dan Owens, but they are still looking for a big wide body run stuffer to compliment talented DT Luther Ellis. Peter would fit perfectly in this role and would give the Lion defense a more physical and aggressive look. OLB was a huge need going into this draft, but the recent acquisition of OLB Rob Fredrickson from the Raiders and the FA signing of Denver's Allen Aldridge (who will move to OLB) strengthens this group considerably, in the absence of Reggie Brown who had a tragic career ending injury at the end of the season. Although it is likely that the Lions will concentrate on defense early in this draft, they do have a huge need at ROT and they could certainly add a #3 WR to compliment Moore and Morton. However, there does not appear to be candidates at those positions that merit this pick at this time. It is unlikely that Bobby Ross will make any moves on draft day. This is a very conservative organization and they are very organized when it comes to draft day and they will likely let this draft come to them and use their picks wisely.
21. Minnesota Duane Starks DC SR Miami 6.75
There is no question that the Vikings must address the secondary early in this draft. They made several attempts in free agency to upgrade at the DC position, but couldn't get the right deal. They cannot line up and play in '98 without adding at least one, and possibly two, starters in this group. Chavous is the guy that the Vikings would love to have because of his size and versatility, but he may be gone at this stage. Another DC considerations could be Kelly (has not run great times this spring). The only other likely position that the Vikings could divert to would be DT, if Holliday or Peter dropped. It is unlikely that they will leave the DC group on their draft board for this first pick. Their problem will be getting the right guy that they like. The Vikings put a premium on draft picks and they do a great job in the middle rounds, but this is a football team that has a couple of missing parts and their is alot of pressure on Denny Green and his staff to make astute selections in the first two rounds. NOTE: McQuarters is really cooling off and may be projective too high here- will update before draft.
22. New England Robert Edwards RB SR Georgia 6.92
The Patriots will probably be very happy if they wait until this pick to select their RB, and Edwards is available. He is an outstanding football player that gives them a big back type look with also breakaway skills. Edwards appears to be over his durability problems that he suffered earlier in his college career, and he is a talented guy that could team well with last year's pick Cedric Shaw. Edwards would give the Patriots another big play dimension to their offense. Because they are a team that does not have a lot of glaring needs, they can still draft with the "best athlete available" philosophy at this point. They could wait and pick a DT here, or add a WR, or even look at one of the OLB's. There are some rumors coming out of New England that they may even wait until Rd. 2 to pick an RB. A wild card here could also be DS Shaun Williams, who would add depth to an already quality group.
23. Tampa Bay Brian Kelly DC SR USC 6.85
The Bucs are another young team that are very talented and need experience, but they don't have alot of glaring needs. They could use some upgrading in the secondary and a DC or DS is a likely direction that they could go in the first round. Although last year's #3 selection, Barber showed enough flash at the end of the season to give the Bucs a little more secure feeling at that position. Kelly is a big DC, but has good AA and although he lacks world class speed, he is a very versatile guy that can matchup well on the big WRs in the NFC Central and he should be very effective in the red zone. He also has DS type skills and can certainly fit in nicely in nickel situations. If the Bucs like any of the available receivers at this spot (that may be a reach at this spot), they could go that direction, but it is unlikely. TE is also a need with the departure of Jackie Harris and with Alonzo Mayes dropping, the best available guy would be Oklahoma's Stephen Alexander. He has a huge upside but seems to be a bit of a reach at this point, although it wouldn't be surprising to see him go in the first round. Personnel director Jerry Angelo and head coach Tony Dungy are building this team very effectively through the draft and the Bucs no longer make ill advised picks, as they did early in their history.
24. NY Giants Stephen Alexander TE SR Oklahoma 6.09
Although it may sound like the War Room is contradicting itself by the fact that Alexander is a reach in the first round, TE is a huge need for the Giants and although he is somewhat raw, he has enough AA and speed and upside to give Jim Fassel a nice offensive weapon to build on in his offense. The Giants have been looking for a complete TE for years and they are down to veteran Howard Cross (blocker) and San Diego transplant Alfred Pupunnu (receiver). The Giants also have needs at OC, as veteran Brian Williams may be finished because of an eye injury, although he has indicated he would like to come back. There are some outstanding young OCs in this draft, but none seem to merit this high a pick. As we know, the Giants are not a team that makes moves on draft day. In a perfect world scenario, they might trade down lower in the first round or at the top of the second round and get a starting OC, but that is unlikely. They could also go with a WR here to team with rookie Ike Hilliard, who was injured all year, but most of the WRs left seem to be second round type guys. A WR would give them more speed and big play capabilities on defense, but they may get that out of Alexander, if he is their pick. With GM George Young moving on to the NFL front office after a long and successful run with the Giants, this is Ernie Accorsi's draft, along with head coach Jim Fassel and it will be fun to watch the Giants to see if their philosophy changes or if they remain the same.
25. Jacksonville Terry Fair DC SR Tennessee 6.08
As already mentioned in this mock 1st Rd., this is a tentative spot for the Jaguars, as it is possible they could move around pick #9 and #25. If Jacksonville stays in this spot, a DC could be a perfect fit here. Fair is a guy that has been hot in recent days and is sneaking into the 1st Rd. on many draft boards at the last minute. He did not have a great senior year and seemed to be buried in the 2nd or 3rd Rd., but a combination of good spring workouts and many NFL teams having DC as a serious need could vault him into this position. Other DC's could get consideration if they dropped to Jacksonville, such as Dwayne Starks and Corey Chavous, or even Brian Kelly, but all 3 may be gone. The Jaguars could also pick a DE if a guy like Greg Ellis dropped to them, and if they didn't fill that need at the #8 pick. They could also opt for a RB at this spot with the loss of Natrone Means, and a guy like Robert Edwards, Robert Holcombe, Skip Hicks, or even a Fred Taylor (if he drops) would all be a nice fit and would upgrade the Jaguar run game. A long shot here could even possibly be a WR, if the Jaguars think one of those candidates merits this pick. They are another young team with not a lot of glaring needs, so they could go several directions and almost adopt the "best athlete available" approach.
26. Pittsburgh Leonard Little DE/OL SR Tennessee 6.67
This is almost too good to be true. Little is the perfect rush OLB candidate that the Steelers require in the 34 defense. He is everything they are looking for and he would be a natural to replace Greg Lloyd, who appears to be near the end of his career. Although Little played MLB in his senior year in Tennessee, he is a pass rusher by nature and he plays with great aggressiveness and AA. With the resigning of Jason Gildon, Little would be a nice upgrade on this defense and is crtical for the Steeler's blitz package. They could also continue to upgrade their secondary if one of the DCs dropped that they liked and they could even opt for a DE, although there doesn't seem to be a strong candidate that fits this spot. The Steelers do a very nice job in the draft and although they are somewhat conservative, they will pick a guythat fits their needs and Little certainly seems to be a natural.
27. Kansas City Robert Holcombe RB SR Illinois 6.45
The Chiefs did a great job of adding veterans to their football team in 1997, but they have not faired quite as well in the draft. They have major needs at OT and could use upgrading at both tackle spots. They also need a big inside banger in their DL along with more speed and athleticism at receiver and in the secondary. However, picking an RB here, like Robert Holcombe, may not be as far fetched as it sounds. The Chiefs have several RBs on their roster, but they do not have a big physical guy that can give them a power run game and control the clock. As well as the Kansas City defense played in 1997, they need an offense that can shorten the game to move the ball so they don't have as many "3 and outs". Holcombe would give them the big back that could fill that role. There will be no more West Coast offense in Kansas City, and they will return to Marty Schottenheimer "smash mouth" football. Holcombe is the best "bang for your buck" back in this draft, and although he is not flashy, he is an absolute warrior that plays hard on every down. Other possibilities here could be UCLA's Skip Hicks, or a Robert Edwards, if he dropped. With as many needs as they have, the Chiefs could go other directions in this portion of the 1st Rd.
28. San Francisco Shaun Williams DS SR UCLA 6.95
With the retirement of ROT Kurt Scrafford, the 49ers are desperate to fill his spot, and they do not want to move LOT Derrick Deese to ROT unless they have to. The acquisition this week or ROT Jamie Brown from Denver (it will cost the 49ers a 2nd Rd. pick in 1999) will partially solve that problem, but may still look at an OT at this spot, although it does not appear to be a guy that merits this pick at this stage. However, as we all know, at the end of the 1st Rd. there are always several OL's and DL's that have 2nd Rd. grades, but are pulled into the 1st Rd. Part of the problem here may be that the 49ers would like to trade down into the 2nd Rd. to better match the value for the pick, but there aren't very many teams at the top of the 2nd Rd. that may want to move up. As a result, Shaun Williams may be a nice selection, if he lasts this late. He is certainly the most complete DS in this draft, and although he is not a very flashy player, he would certainly upgrade the interior of a secondary that is starting to show his age and could use some speed and athleticism. Williams will give them more AA and versatility in the secondary, and he can play a lot of roles as he eases into the line-up. There are other needs that could be filled at this spot. An OLB, like Sam Cowart, or even a guy like OLB Anthony Simmons, if he dropped, could be possibilities. The 49ers are going through some major transitions in the front office, but changes may not be reflected in this draft, and, as always, they will work the draft as well as any team in the NFL. Look for them to trade down if they can and acquire multiple picks and get into position to get good players that actually deserve the pick. If they take an OL, Mo Collins could be their guy.
29. Green Bay Sam Cowart OLB SR Florida St. 6.60
The Packers have glaring needs on defense, especially at DE and LB. With the loss of Gabe Wilkins and the impending retirement of Reggie White, they could use 2 DE's to upgrade their pass rush. They are starting to show their age on the DL and watching the Denver Bronco's physically wear down the Packer front 7 in the Super Bowl should be somewhat alarming and is something the Packers needs to address in this draft. However, there do not appear to be any candidates at DE that merit this pick, and much like the 49ers ahead of them, it will be difficult for the Packers to trade out of this spot down into the 2nd Rd. Cowart is an excellent football player at OLB and although he has a serious knee injury in his past, he appears to be fully recovered and would certainly upgrade a front 7 that needs more play making and athleticism at the LB position. However, Green Bay could opt for a DS at this spot, even though they did pick up Pat Terrell from Carolina, or they could pick an OG like Alan Faneca to replace Aaron Taylor, who left for San Diego in free agency. By picking Faneca, they would allow Ross Verba to stay at LOT and force last years #1 pick, John Michaels, to remain as a back-up, which is where he should be. The Packers have had a tough off-season, and as we are learning, it is very difficult to keep a dynasty together. In the era of a salary cap, there is just not enough money to go around and 1998 may be the first signs of this proud team actually having holes in the roster that are not filled. Head Coach Mike Holmgren and GM Ron Wolf are arguably the best in the business and they can be counted on to put together a solid draft.
30. Denver Tebucky Jones DS SR Syracuse 6.13
The Broncos will likely concentrate on defense in this draft and they could use a DS to replace an aging, but still effective Steve Atwater. Jones is a fascinating player that has skyrocketed up the draft charts to possibly sneak into the bottom of the 1st Rd. He has only 1 year of experience at DS after playing RB most of his career. However, he is a great athlete with tremendous movement and range skills, and his upside has a lot of scouts and coaches very excited. He would add athleticism and versatility to the Bronco defense and certainly seems to be a pick that makes some sense, although a possibility here is his Syracuse teammate Donovan Darius, who is a little less athletic, but a little more physical, and reminds many people of Atwater. The Broncos could also address their defensive line at this spot, and if a good DT is available this pick they would not hesitate to get a guy that could make them more physical and stronger vs. the inside run. This is a team that has a lot of veterans and age, and they only have a 2-3 year window left before they start dismantling and rebuilding this squad. This will be a tough line-up for a rookie to crack, but the Broncos will have a chance to get a nice player at this spot.
31 Oakland (Comp for McGlockton Alan Faneca OG JR LSU 6.47
This is a pick that has a lot of NFL teams very upset....the Raiders made a deal with Kansas City for DT Chester McGlockton, and not only picked up the Chiefs 2nd Rd. pick, but were awarded a compensatory pick by the NFL league office within 48 hours of this draft. Depending on what the Raiders do here, it could obviously affect some other team's picks. It is difficult to know what direction the Raiders will go, but Faneca is an excellent football player that will certainly fill a need, especially at ROG, where last year's started Lester Holmes has moved on to Arizona. The Raiders were woeful in the OL in 1997, and need a lot of retooling, and Faneca brings a toughness and aggressiveness that the Raiders will like. However, they have tremendous needs on defense, especially in the secondary and at OLB, and they could opt for a guy like DS Tebucky Jones, or even one of the OLB's, if they happen to drop. This will be a controversial pick, no matter what direction the Raiders will go.

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