Top receivers, linemen abound for Draft

Apr 16, 2001 4:24 AM

With the middle of April upon us, the NBA and NHL have finally reached their respective post-seasons, and baseball is kicking into high gear, but our attention turns to football, or the NFL Draft, to be more exact.

This year’s draft is loaded at two positions, wide receiver and on the defensive line, but there are a few terrific players at every position for the 31 teams to choose from.

The Chargers will start the festivities by taking Michael Vick with the first overall pick. There is a slim possibility that they may trade down, but any prospective suitor would have to send San Diego at least four impact players or draft picks, probably too steep a price.

The Cardinals are on the clock after the Chargers, and they will use the pick on defensive linemen, or possibly highly-rated offensive linemen Leonard Davis, who impressed the team during his workout. They may also trade down, because they have holes throughout the roster.

The Browns make the third pick, and they have needs on the offensive side of the ball, at running back or wide receiver. With this pick they will have their choice of the best player at either of those positions.

The Bengals are hoping Davis slides down to them at the fourth pick, but they will be happy to take the best defensive linemen available if he is gone.

The Falcons have the fifth pick and, while they have needs all over the field, their most pressing concern is on the defensive line. They would love to be able to trade up to the top spot to take Vick, but they probably don’t have enough to entice the Chargers.

The Patriots are hoping that Robert Edwards, who has missed the last two seasons with a knee injury, can come back and be the answer at running back. New England has a huge void in the backfield, but they could also use this pick to bring in another wide receiver to provide Drew Bledsoe with three dangerous targets to throw to. Adding to the offensive line is also a possibility for the Pats.

The Seahawks have done a lot to improve themselves over this off-season, including acquiring quarterback Matt Hasselback, as well as a number of quality defensive veterans. They will likely take a wide receiver with this pick. They also have the 17th pick, and that is the one they will probably use for defensive depth or offensive line help.

The Bears pick eighth, and could go a couple of different ways, with running back and the defensive line their top two priorities.

The 49ers were one of the top offensive teams in the league last season, but they lost 1,000-yard rusher Charlie Garner to the Raiders. They may take a running back with this pick, but it would be more logical for them to take an offensive or defensive linemen, to help improve their toughness.

The Packers are another team that could use help on the defensive line, although a trade up to get a big time receiver like David Terrell is something the team has talked about.

The Panthers look to be rebuilding after cutting Steve Beurlein. They could take a running back with this pick, but a linebacker like Dan Morgan may be a good fit also.

The Chiefs need to get some help on the offensive side of the ball, and they will be thrilled if they could get one of the top three running backs with this pick. They may also still use this pick to deal for Trent Green from the Rams.

The Jaguars look to add an impact defensive end to play opposite of Tony Brackens, and they need help on the offensive line as well.

The Bills will use their pick to add some size on either the offensive or defensive line. On defense, they lost Marcellus Wiley and Ted Washington this off-season.

The Redskins most clear-cut need is at wide receiver, although they are very old at cornerback, aside from Champ Bailey, and could go that way.

The Steelers need to improve their talent level on the defensive line also, although they could take a quarterback with this pick.

The Lions would love Morgan to fall to them, but if that doesn’t happen, they could take a defensive back, or Todd Heap, the draft’s top tight end.

With the 19th pick, the Jets will take either a wide receiver or defensive linemen. The Rams own the 20th and 29th picks, and will take defensive players, or trade one or both of the picks to add veteran defenders.

Tampa Bay is a better team than they were when the season ended because they signed Brad Johnson to quarterback their squad. With their first round pick the Bucs will probably take an offensive lineman to protect the brittle Johnson.

The Colts could use some depth at wide receiver, but they are more desperate for defensive help.

The Saints had a great season last year, and they have two of the top lines in the game, but the loss of Mark Fields could force them to take a linebacker, while cornerback and wide receiver are also positions of need.

The Broncos have two of the best receivers in the game, but not much depth behind them. Look for them to add a pass catcher with their top pick.

The Eagles will do the same, giving Donovan McNabb a much-needed big play threat.

The Dolphins may add a defensive end to replace Trace Armstrong, but they also need a wide receiver, or a quarterback may intrigue them, especially if Drew Brees is still around.

The Vikings desperately need defensive help, but the retirement of Robert Smith may force them to take a running back, especially if one of the top three is somehow still around.

The Raiders could use some depth in the defensive backfield, although Heap may be their pick if the Lions don’t take him.

The Giants, with the second to last pick of the first round, could use a cornerback to play alongside Jason Sehorn.

And finally, the Ravens, with no clear weaknesses, should take the best player available; no matter what position he plays.