Buccaneers: Tampa Bay's Sam Wyche is a player's coach, and he proved that again in this year's draft. As the Bucs prepared to make the 12th pick overall, Wyche got on the phone with sinking-like-a-stone Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp. "Tell me, man to man, is this going to be a problem?" he asked Sapp, who had dropped from the top five because of reports that he had repeatedly tested positive in drug screenings. Sapp assured him it wouldn't be.
"We all aren't perfect humans," general manager Rich McKay says. "We think the reward outweighs the risk."
The Bucs improved their offense by luring free-agent wideout Alvin Harper from Dallas, but they traded their quarterback security blanket, Craig Erickson, to Indianapolis, meaning Trent Differ will go it alone behind center.
Bears: Going into the draft, Chicago coach Dave Wannstedt was fond of 5'7" Wisconsin running back Terrell Fletcher and hoped he could snag him in the second round. But when Rashaan Salaam was still available on the 21st pick, he became an automatic selection.
Second-round-pick defensive tackle Pat Riley of Miami should have a better NFL career than his NBA namesake, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Kentucky in 1967 but never suited up. This Pat Riley, a 6'4", 286-pound two-year starter, could line up next to Chris Zorich and be a penetrating rusher/run-stuffer.
Lions: Detroit's best off-season move was to lure assistant coach John Teerlinck from Minnesota to shore up the Lion pass rush, because Teerlinck immediately recruited an ex-Viking, free-agent defensive tackle Henry Thomas. The bad news is that Detroit has no idea which Scott Mitchell will show up at quarterback—the terrific prospect who played so well for Miami in 1993 or the disappointing, scatter-armed guy who was outplayed by Dave Krieg last year. Another unknown is whether top-pick Luther Elliss of Utah can shut up his critics and make an immediate impact at defensive end.
Packers: "The great thing about Mike Holmgren," says Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf, "is he does such a wonderful job of putting the bad things behind him and focusing on the now." Wolf should know, because the Packers sure put Holmgren to the test this winter.
Green Bay finished a close second to Cleveland in the race for free-agent receiver Andre Rison, this after the Packers cut Sterling Sharpe rather than pay him $3.2 million while he recovers from a career-threatening neck injury. Green Bay also tried in vain to get Rob Moore from the New York Jets, had a trade of quarterback Mark Brunch for the 63rd and 147th draft picks fall apart because the Philadelphia Eagles couldn't sign him, and watched the Bears choose Salaam one pick ahead of them in the draft. Some decades it doesn't pay to get out of bed.
Vikings: Minnesota lost the best front-seven player in the 1995 free-agent pool when Thomas signed with the Lions, and it entered the draft wanting a running back and some defensive playmakers. The Vikes offered Carolina the 11th pick, a second-round pick and running back Terry Allen for the top pick in the draft but were turned down in their bid to get KiJana Carter. Now they have to hope that wideouts Cris Carter and Jake Reed can help offset a mediocre running game.