Some teams took advantage of NFL draft

May 08, 2001 9:24 AM
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Some say the NFL Draft is the most hyped event in the sports world, but for NFL bettors, taking note of which teams cleaned up during the two days in New York is one of many keys to handicapping the upcoming season.

Of course, at this point it is hard to tell which players will pan out and which will be looking for work during the pre-season, but some teams did distinguish themselves with a number of strong selections.

The San Diego Chargers held the top pick, until they dealt it to the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta then took Michael Vick, who probably won’t help them much this season, but should be a franchise quarterback in the next couple of years.

The Chargers moved down to fifth, and got the player they felt was the best on the board all along, running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Their good fortune continued into the top of the second round, when Drew Brees fell past the Dolphins to San Diego. Tomlinson will make an impact this season, and, along with Doug Flutie, should rejuvenate the Chargers’ offense. Brees will be able to sit behind Flutie and learn the offense, and he will also have the benefit of Norv Turner, a much better offensive coordinator than head coach, to teach him the ropes.

One of the Chargers AFC West rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, also had a great draft. All of Seattle’s top four picks could be starting for the club this season. Their top pick was wide receiver Koren Robinson, who has the size and speed to be an All-Pro for a long time.

Then they took Steve Hutchinson, an offensive lineman from Michigan who many thought was the best at his position in this year’s draft.

With their third pick, the Seahawks added corner back Ken Lucas, who was considered one of the top cover corners in the nation last season at Ole Miss.

Fullback Heath Evans, from Auburn is a tough blocker and pass receiver who should fit in perfectly in Mike Holmgren’s West Coast Offense.

Holmgren’s old team, the Green Bay Packers, also had one of the best, and deepest draft classes. Jamal Reynolds, a defensive end out of Florida State, will start from day one, but where the Packers really made out was in the later rounds.

Their second round pick, Robert Ferguson, a wide receiver, is big, fast and raw. He may struggle initially, but he could be a major impact player by mid-season.

In the sixth round, Green Bay took David Martin, a wide receiver who may be better suited to be a tight end, from Tennessee. Martin can catch the ball, and if he is moved to H-back or tight end, could be a nice find.

On the defensive side of the ball, with their third pick, the Packers took Bhawoh Jue, a big, fast cornerback out of Penn State, and with their fourth pick, took Orange Bowl MVP Torrance Marshall, a speedy linebacker who could start for Green Bay.

The New York Jets were in need of a wide receiver, and got Santana Moss in the first round.

Moss isn’t big, but fast, and may have been the most explosive player in the draft. He will help the Jets in a number of ways. Last season, New York scored just six touchdowns of more than 20 yards, and with Moss’ speed and leaping ability, it figures to improve on that number this season.

Also, New York has had one of the worst kick return games in the league over the last few seasons.

Moss will return punts, and could score each time he touches the ball. His height won’t be a limitation, because the Jets signed big wide out Matthew Hatchette from the Vikings, and expect improved contributions from tight end Anthony Becht, as well as the continued performances of fullback Richie Anderson and, of course, Wayne Chrebet. With their second pick, the Jets took LaMont Jordan to provide

the team with a quality backup for Curtis Martin.

Offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie was a disappointment in college last season, but was thought of as a possible first round pick heading into last year and cornerback Jamie Henderson will help the team in the secondary because of his good size and speed.

The Detroit Lions came into this draft with a new front office, coach and team president, and they left with a number of tough, quality players. Their top two picks came on the offensive line, where they drafted Jeff Backus from Michigan and Dominic Raiola from Nebraska. Both could be starters this season.

With its third pick, Detroit took a chance with Texas defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. It was clear that Rogers had first round ability, but injuries dropped him in the draft. He may not be ready to go when the season starts, but when he does get healthy, the Lions will have added a good, and possibly an impact type, of player.

Scotty Anderson is a little-known wide out from Grambling who the Lions got with their fourth pick, but he has great speed, and is tall, at 6-foot-2. With their next pick, Detroit grabbed quarterback Mike McMahon, out of Rutgers. McMahon has a strong arm, and could be a solid backup or average starter at some point.

Other teams also did well, but some, like the Cowboys, did nothing to improve themselves.

The Rams added a number of defenders in this draft, including a trade for veteran corner Aeneas Williams, but they may have reached for Ryan Pickett in the first round and Tommy Polley in the second. The Redskins only drafted a few players, but wide receiver Rod Gardner and cornerback Fred Smoot could both be starters this season.