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Archive for Monday, April 23, 2001

St. Louis stacks defense early

April 23, 2001

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— Even the Super Bowl champions have holes to fill. A look at how the Ravens and everyone else did in the NFL draft:

Job well done

With three picks in the first round and five of the first 83, the 1999 NFL champion Rams could hardly miss strengthening their porous defense. In DT Damione Lewis and safety Adam Archuleta (a college linebacker), they got two first-rounders who should help right away. But DL Ryan Pickett was a first-round reach. Linebackers Tommy Polley and Brian Allen make five straight defensive choices.

Defending champion Baltimore wanted a tight end and a safety. They got the best receiving TE in Todd Heap and a possible starting safety in Gary Baxter. Third-rounder Casey Rabach might fill an opening at center.

Buffalo addressed problems in its secondary (Nate Clements), DL (Aaron Schobel and Ron Edwards) and backfield (Travis Henry).

Chicago got a player for each spot where it is weak, with playmaker WR David Terrell and powerful RB Anthony Thomas teammates at Michigan most notable.

In GM Ron Wolf's last draft, the Packers flourished by getting pass rusher Jamal Reynolds, wideout Robert Ferguson, DB Bhawoh Jue and LB Torrance Marshall, all nice picks.

Minnesota lost Robert Smith to retirement and found a good but raw replacement in Michael Bennett. DE Willie Howard and DB Eric Kelly should step in at needy areas.

For those who question why New Orleans would take RB Deuce McAllister, it was to deliver a message to Ricky Williams. And to provide the receiving threat Williams does not. Third-round LB Sedrick Hodge could start soon.

Santana Moss will fill the needs of deep threat and kick returner for the Jets, who also got an RB, LaMont Jordan, to spell Curtis Martin, and a solid OT prospect, Kareem McKenzie.

Tampa's biggest needs were OT and the secondary. GM Rich McKay grabbed premier blocker Kenyatta Walker and DBs Dwight Smith and John Howell. Walker should start right away.

What were they thinking?

Justin Smith is a nice first-round addition at DE for Cincinnati, but not many other picks adequately fit needs.

Jerry Jones played the trade-down, trade-up game, but didn't do a lot with the extra choices. Dallas' first selection was QB Quincy Carter at 53rd overall, a project coming off a bad junior season at Georgia.

New Detroit boss Matt Millen ignored his secondary throughout in paying attention to an offense that was not so lacking. DT Shaun Rogers had injury issues.

It's difficult to doubt Colts GM Bill Polian, but first pick WR Reggie Wayne wasn't as needed as defensive help. He did take four DBs, but forgot about the DL.

Kansas City did most of its work before the draft, which is good, considering some of the reaches the Chiefs made this weekend.

Miami's strongest position might be cornerback, yet Jamar Fletcher was its first pick. And second-round WR Chris Chambers drops too many balls.

New England needed a running back, a reliable wideout and a defensive lineman. While taking DT Richard Seymour sixth overall, the Pats ignored other needs.

Tennessee kept things in the family with DB Andre Dyson, whose brother Kevin is a Titans wideout. The No. 1 pick went to St. Louis in a trade for DE Kevin Carter, who underachieved last season.

Mixed bag

Arizona desperately needed DL help, but went for massive OT Leonard Davis second overall. The team did address the DL three times, including end Kyle Vanden Bosch, later on.

Atlanta didn't get impact an offensive lineman or receiver, although draft had plenty of them. They did trade for Michael Vick, though he might not be a factor for two years.

Carolina got an instant starter in LB Dan Morgan, but generally ignored RB woes. Chris Weinke, taken in the fourth round, could work considering QB situation.

After filling many holes in free agency, Denver went after most others with DB Willie Middlebrooks, DEs Paul Toviessi and Reggie Howard. But the OL got little help.

The Jaguars needed LBs and could have done better than they did. However, taking OT Maurice Williams 43rd overall was wise.

Oakland went for the safety it needed in Derrick Gibson, but not for another wideout. QB Marques Tuiasosopo was a reach at 59.

Pittsburgh needed a DL, a linebacker and a center and got all of them. But the Steelers probably needed an end, but took DT Casey Hampton.

Passing on Vick might come back to haunt San Diego, but it did get the top runner, LaDainian Tomlinson, and the second-best QB, Drew Brees. Fourth-round LB Carlos Polk might be a steal.

Defense was Seattle's biggest need this offseason, but Mike Holmgren addressed many holes in free agency. He could have used another DL, but did well with WR Koren Robinson (if Robinson matures quickly), guard Steve Hutchinson, CB Ken Lucas and FB Heath Evans.

Washington got trash-talking CB Fred Smoot to replace trash-talking CB Deion Sanders, and a breakaway threat in WR Rod Gardner. But the rest of the draft was ordinary.

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