Sport Illustrated - Mock Draft

April 18, 2002
by Sports Illustrated senior writer Paul Zimmerman

This is what is known as a mock draft. I draft, everyone else mocks. The problem is that I had to write mine, my original one, for the magazine last Friday, eight days prior to the actual event. Lots of things can happen in the interim. So I bite my nails for a week, hoping that whatever happens doesn't occur near the top of the board because then the whole progression goes out of whack. You will find perhaps one or two changes between this one and the one that's now on the newsstand. Additional information. Paralysis by analysis. Most of the time the original one is better. 

I have, for instance, Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington projected to Kansas City in the eighth spot. There has been a strange silence regarding this guy who, a few months ago, was a tossup with David Carr for the top spot. Harrington seems to have dropped. But I just know in my heart that the team or teams that really want him are playing it close to the vest and getting a package together for a move upward and a chance to grab him. I just don't know which team it is. It's maddening. 

Enough whining. Time for some drafting.

Dr. Z's NFL Mock Draft 
1 Houston Texans
David Carr, QB, Fresno State
Charley Casserly made it very easy for us poor draftniks by announcing his choice early on. 
2 Carolina Panthers
Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina
For a while the race was between Peppers and cornerback Quentin Jammer. There was also a little talk about moving down because so much help was needed, particularly on defense. John Fox, the new coach, wanted the pass rusher, though. Peppers has the incredible size-speed numbers but he's an outside rusher who still has to perfect his moves. Last year Jamal Reynolds was the same type of player, although smaller, and he didn't do much until the end of the season for the Packers. "Peppers is going to have trouble," said one personnel man who didn't want his name used in case he proves to be spectacularly wrong. "He's a wide rusher and those NFL tackles will overset him and take away his best stuff." Overset means to swing out wide and defy the guy to go inside. We'll see. He's explosive -- and expensive.
3 Detroit Lions
Quentin Jammer, CB, Texas
Here's where the trade-up action might take place. Detroit likes Jammer, a big, physical corner, but the Lions don't love him. Marty Mornhinweg was kind of intrigued by Harrington, but the personnel people aren't not so sure he's better than the guy they have, Mike McMahon. The Lions don't want to move down much lower than No. 6 (for a while Dallas talked to them about trading up from that spot for Jammer, but now the Cowboys seem to have found the guy they want). Detroit could pull a double drop, trade down twice and pick up a lot of people, or maybe even somehow end up with Oakland's two No. 1 choices. Or maybe none of the above.
4 Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams, T, Texas
In March, people were giving Harrington to Buffalo, slam dunk. The only problem was that the Bills didn't like his arm strength. Then Buffalo picked up former Denver tackle Trey Teague. That takes care of one side of the line. But the Bills are worried about left tackle John Fina, whose body is finally starting to wear down, and they've never wavered from their strong feelings about Williams, a powerhouse but slightly overweight at 375. With a strict diet and a serious workout regimen they feel they can get him down to 372. 
5 San Diego Chargers
Donte Stallworth, WR, Tennessee
A 4.27 burner who is projected a little farther down on other people's boards. For most of the week I had either cornerback Phillip Buchanon or tackle Bryant McKinnie penciled in at this spot. The only question was which way the Chargers would go. Then out of the blue a very solid informant told me the guy was Stallworth. "They want speed," he said. "LaDainian Tomlinson, Donte Stallworth, blue and gold down the field and away we go." Doesn't seem to make sense to me, but who am I to argue?
6 Dallas Cowboys
Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma
At first it was Jammer on a trade-up. Then it was defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Then it was a tossup between Haynesworth and Buchanon. Last word I had out of the Cowboys camp was the safetyman, an unusual choice for this high up, but the study they did on him blew their minds. "The best athlete in the whole draft," said their scouting director, Larry Lacewell.
7 Minnesota Vikings
Bryant McKinnie, DT, Miami
The knock is that this 6-foot-8, 343-pound giant plays a bit soft. The plus is that his potential is unlimited. New coach Mike Tice is simply nuts about defensive tackle Ryan Sims, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this will actually be the pick. So why have I selected McKinnie? Beats me. Too much analysis. Too much study. Not enough instinct.
8 Kansas City Chiefs 
Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon
Before he dies, Lamar Hunt wants to say that he saw the Chiefs draft a really good QB. This has never happened. I guess the closest might be Todd Blackledge, for a while a terrific prospect. (Don't forget that Len Dawson originally was drafted by the Steelers.) Reason No. 2 is that I think they're ready to give up on Trent Green. Just in case there's a switch, though, I'll throw another couple of names at you: Stallworth, if he's still there, and defensive tackle John Henderson.
9 Jacksonville Jaguars
Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee
When I talked to Tom Coughlin he said he wanted a DT to cover for the loss of both of last year's starters because of cap dollars. I informed him that at least two of them would be gone. He started crying. Now I find that none of them are gone. A happy fella is Tom, getting pick of the litter. Now watch him go take a wideout or something.
10 Cincinnati Bengals
Phillip Buchanon, CB, Miami
A lot of people are giving them Harrington. Actually, the Bengals are not sure about him, but they know that if they don't pick him, it could come back to haunt them. They mentioned a few other names, none with much conviction. But Buchanon, a terrific deep cover guy, is a very comfortable pick for the Bengals. The only problem is that his arrogance in his workouts (or non-workouts) for the scouts has turned off a lot of people. "I wouldn't take him in any round," said one personnel director.
11 Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Sims, DT, North Carolina
Never figured to last this long and he probably won't. Tony Dungy wants a defensive tackle and this guy, dedicated, talented, hard-working, is almost too good to be true.
12 Arizona Cardinals
John Henderson, DT, Tennessee
Here they come, folks. This is what the late George Young once called "the dance of the elephants." DTs are dropping like boulders. Henderson is actually Dave McGinnis' favorite of the bunch, but he'll take either of the other blue-chippers I've named.
13 New Orleans Saints
Charles Grant, DE, Georgia
Jim Haslett said that his first pick would be a defensive lineman and that his remaining first-round choice would be a wideout. Everyone else has it the other way around, possibly because the Saints picked up Grady Jackson in free agency. But they still need an end to cover the loss of Joe Johnson and Grant is tops on their board at this point. Haslett loves Henderson, though, and he could go against logic and take the tackle if he's still there.
14 Tennessee Titans
Wendell Bryant, DT-DE, Wisconsin
The last member of the Big Four defensive tackles. The snapper is that he could be converted to an outside guy, and that's what Tennessee wants.
15 New York Giants
Jeremy Shockey, TE, Miami
It's no secret that New York is after this gifted receiver. The only question is if he'll be there. It's a tossup. Fallback position is offensive tackle Levi Jones. And if he's gone, then it's a grab bag. Wideout, I'd guess.
16 Cleveland Browns
T.J. Duckett, RB, Michigan State
Everyone's pick for Cleveland. Weighs 254, runs in the 4.5's. Has moved ahead of Boston College's William Green as the No. 1 back. Cleveland finished last in the NFL in rushing in 2001.
17 Atlanta Falcons
Ashley Lelie, WR, Hawaii
Yes, he's a terrific receiver. Yes, he ran under 4.3 in his fast-track workouts, and he'll run away from people on the Falcons' artificial turf. But first he has to learn to get off a jam. He's a bit on the wispy side. "A guy like Dale Carter will put a hole in his chest," one scout said. Speed always goes fast in the draft, though (did I really write that?), and Lelie could be gone. Next candidate? Wideout Jabar Gaffney.
18 Washington Redskins
Andre Gurode, G, Colorado
Oops, red light. I've pulled a switch. In the magazine, I gave them Toniu Fonoti, the guard from Nebraska. At least I kept the position the same. Here's the story. Joe Mendes and his scouts are trying to talk Dan Snyder into taking the best guard on their board, Fonoti at first but now Gurode. Snyder -- and I didn't actually hear him say this but it was reported to me by a very honorable gentleman -- said he wants a "sexy pick, a guy who excites you." Who's more exciting than a quarterback? Step up, please, Patrick Ramsey of Tulane. But wait a minute, Steve Spurrier's homeboy is Danny Wuerffel. Does the owner want to get his new coach mad at him, too? Well, wideouts are also exciting. How about Gaffney? I can't tell you who's going to win this star wars thing, but it's interesting, isn't it?
19 Denver Broncos
Levi Jones, WR, Arizona State
Generally conceded to be the third best tackle in the draft. The Broncos lost their left tackle, Teague. "Don't forget that we signed Ephraim Salaam from Atlanta," Mike Shanahan said. Sorry, I forgot it already. He mentioned wideouts. Three of them. Lelie, Gaffney, Antonio Bryant. I'm doing a dumb thing, neglecting solid information to go with the guy I think they should draft. This has killed me in the past and it will continue to do so.
20 Seattle Seahawks
Daniel Graham, TE, Colorado
Mike Holmgren doesn't mess around. He wants a tight end and likes Graham after Shockey. If they're gone, and the good DTs are, too, he says he'll try to put a package together and move up to get one.
21 Oakland Raiders (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Napoleon Harris, LB, Northwestern
One thing you must learn about the Raiders: Anyone they mention by name, well, that's a guy they won't take. They didn't mention Harris, except with a snort. "You might as well join the party. Everyone else is giving him to us, too," my Raiders, uh, informant said.
22 New York Jets
Mike Rumph, CB, Miami
They're still looking for a big wideout to take the place of Keyshawn. They also need a corner, since right now they've got only one, Ray Mickens. He's a little guy and usually they match up small corner vs. small receiver, big guy vs. big guy. Rumph, at 6-2, 205, seems like a natural fit here. At least he was one of the people I mentioned to Herm Edwards in whom he seemed rather interested. This is the Reed part of the draft, when the names of wideout Josh and safety Ed come up. Edwards didn't seem too excited about either one.
23 Oakland Raiders
Jabar Gaffney, WR, Florida
You're never right about the Raiders, anyway, so I have to admit I got a little silly here in assigning them their remaining first rounder. Josh Reed, WR, LSU. The Fred Biletnikoff Award winner. Even wore Freddy's old number, 25. Pure poetry, I reasoned. But wait a minute. An Oakland guy was the one who told me about Reed. He mentioned him by name. Goodbye Josh.
24 Baltimore Ravens
William Green, RB, Boston College
I talked to their player personnel director, Ozzie Newsome. He mentioned Shockey and Levi Jones and a few DTs he knew would be gone. Then I dropped Green's name on him. "You're kidding," Newsome said. "He's still gonna be there?" Well, he probably won't, but his slow workout times turned people off, and you never know. Besides, the Ravens might figure out a way to trade up for him. My theory is that when a team really likes somebody, make the club happy and give him to it.
25 New Orleans Saints (from Miami Dolphins)
Antonio Bryant, WR, Pitt
This is Haslett's wideout pick. Bryant is a talented, feisty guy with an attitude. Just the same as Haslett when he was a player. "Immature" is the euphemism the NFL uses for someone who's kind of a jerk, but that doesn't seem to make much difference here.
26 Philadelphia Eagles
Marc Colombo, T, Boston College
The Eagles say that at this position, they're picking for down-the-road help. They're looking for projects, rather than trying to fill a need. Both Reeds are impatiently waiting their turn, and so is DeShaun Foster, the flashy UCLA running back, but Andy Reid mentioned Colombo as a rough nugget who could be a top-notch lineman some day.
27 San Francisco 49ers
Lito Sheppard, CB, Florida
His stock is rising. Third best corner in the draft, people are saying. The Niners like him. Foster would be an interesting pick here, too. There are Reeds out there. OK, we're guessing, but I like the guess.
28 Green Bay Packers
Anthony Weaver, DT, Notre Dame
This is where a Reed, probably the defensive variety, has been projected. When the Packers guy I talked to mentioned Weaver, I reminded him that 10 d-linemen all saw service last year in Green Bay. "This guy is special," he said. But, in fairness, he also mentioned that all the voting wasn't in yet and either Reed might be attractive.
29 Chicago Bears
Dwight Freeney, DE, Syracuse
Everyone has the same thing to say about the collegiate sack leader: Intriguing. He's a pure edge rusher and Chicago has one -- Rosevelt Colvin -- but not two. This is a pick so logical that I just know it won't happen.
30 Pittsburgh Steelers
Kalimba Edwards, DE-LB, South Carolina
When I brought up his name, Billy Cowher laughed at me. "Yeah, sure, he'll be there," he said. Well, I just can't find a spot for the player who some people have tabbed as the No. 2 DE on the board. "Edwards would be a great pick for us," Cowher said. "Bring him in as a situation rusher, to give Gildon and Porter a break. Keep the pressure on. Keep hitting them with rushers. Oh, man."
31 St. Louis Rams
Javon Walker, WR, Florida State
Josh Reed. Ed Reed. There, I've said it for the last time. Another logical home for either one. But look at Walker. Time in the high 4.3's. Inconsistent, yes, but Mike Martz has a way with inconsistent receivers. Plus, and here's the clincher, he likes the guy.
32 New England Patriots
Clinton Portis, RB, Miami
The Patriots like bigger, pounding backs. Portis isn't that big, but he's a relentless type of runner. Plus, he's one of the few guys I mentioned about whom GM Scott Pioli didn't say, "Not in this spot." What he said was, "Interesting." At No. 32, that's all you need to hear.