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Peter King
May 08, 1995
The college draft, free-agent signings and the addition of two expansion teams have changed pro football's balance of power
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May 08, 1995

Nfl Plus

The college draft, free-agent signings and the addition of two expansion teams have changed pro football's balance of power

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Gentlemen, Start Your Lineups

Three months ago the expansion Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars didn't have a single player on their rosters. Now, after a dispersal draft, free agency and the college draft, both teams have a combination of youth and experience to build upon. Here's a look at whom they figure to start when they open the preseason on July 29 in the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.

CAROLINA

JACKSONVILLE

OFFENSE

Pos.

Player

Age

Starts

Pos.

Player

Age

Starts

WR

Don Beebe

30

43

WR

Desmond Howard

25

21

LT

Derrick Graham

28

16

LT

Tony Boselli*

23

0

LG

Emerson Martin

25

0

LG

Shawn Bouwens

27

33

C

Frank Garcia*

23

0

C

Dave Widell

30

50

RG

Harry Boatswain

26

6

RG

Eugene Chung

26

30

RT

B. Brockermeyer*

22

0

RT

Brian DeMarco*

23

0

TE

Lawyer Tillman

29

10

TE

Derek Brown

25

7

WR

Willie Green

29

34

WR

Jimmy Smith

26

0

QB

Frank Reich

33

8

QB

Steve Beuerlein

30

40

RB

Tony Smith

25

6

RB

James Stewart*

23

0

FB

Howard Griffith

27

10

FB

Dexter McNabb

26

0

DEFENSE

Pos.

Player

Age

Starts

Pos.

Player

Age

Starts

DE

Shawn King*

23

0

DE

Joel Smeenge

27

4

NT

Gerald Williams

31

92

DT

Kelvin Pritchett

25

35

DE

Mike Fox

27

41

DT

Don Davey

27

6

OLB

Lamar Lathon

27

44

DE

Jeff Lageman

28

81

ILB

Sam Mills

36

125

OLB

James Williams

26

20

ILB

Frank Stams

30

31

MLB

Keith Goganious

26

8

OLB

Darion Conner

27

59

OLB

Mark Williams

24

0

CB

James Williams

28

35

CB

Vinnie Clark

26

39

CB

Tyrone Poole*

23

0

CB

Mickey Washington

27

26

FS

Rod Smith

25

17

FS

Darren Carrington

28

35

SS

Bubba McDowell

28

82

SS

Harry Colon

26

25

SPECIALISTS

Pos.

Player

Age

Games

Pos.

Player

Age

Games

P

Tommy Barnhardt

32

100

P

Bryan Barker

31

71

K

John Kasay

25

64

K

Scott Sisson

24

13

KR

Randy Baldwin

27

49

KR

Desmond Howard

25

48

PR

Vernon Turner

28

48

PR

Chris Hudson*

23

0

*Selected in '95 draft. Ages as of July 29.

NFC West

49ers: With wideout John Taylor likely to be dealt or waived before training camp and Jerry Rice entering his 11th season, San Francisco wanted to replace greatness with quality and not with some free-agent retread. Mission accomplished.

Evoking memories of 1985, when the 49ers moved up 12 spots to get Rice in the first round, they traded up 20 slots in this year's draft to take UCLA's J.J. Stokes, a 6'5", 220-pound receiver who will get plenty of playing time.

Rice and Stokes were both plagued in predraft scouting reports by 40-yard-dash times in the poky 4.6-second range. But when the 49ers watched film on Rice in 1985, they kept seeing him run away from defensive backs. Ditto Stokes, who is extremely elusive after the catch and holds the UCLA record, with 28 touchdown receptions.

"You can find substitutes and depth in today's football, but it's hard to find stars," says longtime San Francisco front-office staple John McVay. Unless, of course, you're the 49ers. Funny how they always seem to be able to do things that other teams can't.

Falcons: A month before the draft Atlanta held the 10th pick in the first round. The Falcons traded it to Cleveland for offensive threat Eric Metcalf and the 26th pick, using the latter for Florida State safety Devin Bush, who should start opening day. So Atlanta may have gotten two producers with the No. 10 pick this year. The Falcons are a long way from making the playoffs, though, because they still don't scare anyone on defense.

Panthers: On Carolina's draft board Kerry Collins was the top-rated quarterback, Tyrone Poole the top-rated defensive back, Blake Brockermeyer the second-rated offensive lineman and Shawn King the fourth-rated defensive lineman. The Panthers got them all, which is why coach Dom Capers said, "I wouldn't have written a different script for the draft."

The most compelling question is how long can Frank Reich and Jack Trudeau hold top-pick Collins out of the starting lineup. It shouldn't be long, because Collins will be playing the same type of ball-control, mistake-free offense he played at Penn State.

Rams: St. Louis could have used Warren Sapp because star defensive tackle Sean Gilbert may have to be moved to end to protect a bad shoulder. Instead, new coach Rich Brooks and his staff drafted Florida defensive end Kevin Carter, who got mixed reviews after being outplayed at times last season. The offensive line should be improved with New York Jet free-agent Dwayne White and rookie linemen Zach Weigert and Jesse James, both taken in round 2 of the draft.

Saints: New Orleans has had a strange off-season, but the Saints' draft was good. New Orleans lost out on linebacker Corey Miller of the New York Giants and all the free-agent receivers, but they did get the best pure linebacker in the draft, Washington State's Mark Fields, and the most Bettis-like running back to come along since Jerome himself, 5'11", 233-pound Ray Zellars of Notre Dame. He'll fit right in with that smashmouth Saint offense.

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