It had all the makings of a beautiful NFL draft. The USFL, which had enough financial clout last year to dislodge 30% of the players projected for the first three rounds, decided to save money in 1985, and Doug Flutie was its only major catch. So the glamour quarterback was gone, but hold on a minute, along came Bernie Kosar, a sophomore who's really a senior, a dazzler from the University of Miami, to take his place. While the NFL owners were meeting out in Phoenix in March, Kosar was back in Ohio announcing that he wanted to be a pro. Beautiful.
But now the draft wasn't so nice. The big question at week's end was whether Kosar would enter the regular draft, scheduled for April 30, or a supplemental draft (SCORECARD, April 22). Commissioner Pete Rozelle was to make that decision during the week, and whatever his ruling, some people were likely to be hopping mad. Some were talking lawsuit. Minnesota had traded for Houston's No. 2 slot in the regular draft to have a shot at Kosar, Buffalo having already signed Bruce Smith as the No. 1 pick. Cleveland had acquired Buffalo's No. 1 pick in the supplemental draft, also with a view of getting Kosar.
For this draft preview, we'll just forget about Kosar.
1. BUFFALO—Bruce Smith, DE, Virginia Tech. Signed, sealed and delivered.
2. MINNESOTA (from Houston)—Bill Fralic, T, Pittsburgh. The Vikes like Fralic and two wide receivers, Miami's breathtakingly fast Eddie Brown and Wisconsin's Al Toon, who came on strong in all-star action.
3. HOUSTON (from Minnesota)—Ray Childress, DE, Texas A & M. The Oilers have said so all along.
4. ATLANTA—Eddie Brown, WR, Miami. The Falcons will go for Fralic if he's still there, and Toon is looking more attractive every day, but Brown means instant excitement.
5. INDIANAPOLIS—Ken Ruettgers, T-G, USC. The Colts like Brown and Fralic, and as late as the weekend they were leaning toward another WR, Jerry Rice, but then the offensive line started crying for help.
6. DETROIT—Duane Bickett, LB, USC. Everyone figured the Lions would go for running back Ethan Horton because of Billy Sims's knee injury, but they're moving to a 3-4 defense, and they want an active linebacker.
7. CLEVELAND—Al Toon, WR, Wisconsin. The Browns hope to get Kosar in the supplemental draft, thus completing the act. Owner Art Modell has a big stadium to fill.