Dr. Z: Offense Is In

April 24, 1988

It's an offense draft. Nobody can recall a better or deeper selection of wide receivers. At least six of them will go in the first round, including Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown of Notre Dame.

Running back is another loaded position. The first to be chosen could be Pittsburgh's Craig (Ironhead) Heyward, who weighs anywhere between 250 and 280 pounds. Though he has a year of college eligibility left, Heyward was allowed to enter the draft by the NFL, which was obviously influenced by his intention to sue if he were denied. Heyward is one of perhaps eight runners who will be taken in the first round; that would mean that almost half of the top round would be spent on players at just two positions.

At least three teams—Green Bay, Houston and the Giants—might trade away first-round picks for extra choices in the later going. But the most interesting deal could involve quarterback Kelly Stouffer. The Cardinals drafted him No. 1 last year, but couldn't sign him. Now they may prefer to trade him for a high draft choice rather than wind up empty-handed if he's declared a free agent.

MOST UNDERRATED

1. Jamie Morris, RB, MICHIGAN
The Troy Stradford of '88. A gem.

2. Paul Frase, DE, SYRACUSE
Relentless. The motor's always going.

3. Darrell Reed, OLB, OKLAHOMA
Technically sound against run or pass.

4. Stan Humphries, QB, NE LOUISIANA
A raw talent in a thin position.

5. John Driscoll, T, NEW HAMPSHIRE
A tough guy who can also move.

6. Brett Perriman, WR, MIAMI
The third top-notch Hurricane WR.

7. Sam Martin, RB-WR, LSU
A little guy who makes things happen.

8. Greg Coauette, CB-S, USC
Slow, but great instincts and hitting ability.

MOST OVERRATED

1. Scott Davis, DE, ILLINOIS
His play has been up and down.

2. Daniel Stubbs, DE-DT, MIAMI
Good pass rusher but needs more strength.

THE FIRST ROUND: HOW THEY'LL PICK 'EM

1. ATLANTA, Aundray Bruce, LB, AUBURN
A big-league sacker, to be sure, but a strangely inconsistent performer.

2. DETROIT, Bennie Blades, S, MIAMI
Close call for desperate Lions among Blades and WRs Brown and Sharpe.

3. KANSAS CITY, Neil Smith, DE, NEBRASKA
The WRs look inviting, but defense-poor Chiefs have to replace Art Still.

4. TAMPA BAY, Sterling Sharpe, WR, SOUTH CAROLINA
A two-way pick: superb receiver for Vinny Testaverde and a fine return man.

5. CINCINNATI, Rickey Dixon, CB, OKLAHOMA
Bengals figure they can pick up WRs and RBs in later rounds.

6. L.A. RAIDERS, Tim Brown, WR, NOTRE DAME
Would have liked Dixon or Blades, but, surprise, look who's still available.

7. L.A. RAMS, Craig Heyward, RB, PITTSBURGH
(projected trade with Green Bay)
Coach John Robinson's weight-control program will be 25 carries a game.

8. N.Y. JETS, Paul Gruber, T, WISCONSIN
1987 Jets gave up 66 sacks. Gruber the best offensive lineman around.

9. HOUSTON (from L.A. Rams), Gaston Green, RB, UCLA
Or the Oilers could trade down for a second-round LB.

10. MINNESOTA, Dave Cadigan, T, USC
(projected trade with N.Y. Giants)
He'll move to guard, Vikes' weak spot. Giants get their man lower down.

11. DALLAS, Michael Irvin, WR, MIAMI
Many holes to fill, but a big-play receiver is a must.

12. PHOENIX, Brad Muster, RB, STANFORD
Can play halfback, fullback or the up-back in two-tight-end set.

13. PHILADELPHIA, Keith Jackson, TE, OKLAHOMA
Buddy Ryan's instincts say DB, but Jackson is too good to pass up.

14. GREEN BAY, Anthony Miller, WR, TENNESSEE
(projected trade with L.A. Rams)
Pack wants defense but can't land its top three hopes.

15. SAN DIEGO, Eric Moore, T, INDIANA
Still a lot left in the WR ranks, but this big guy is irresistible.

16. MIAMI, Clifford Charlton, LB, FLORIDA
Dolphins, with a paltry 21 sacks in 1987, again draft for defense.

17. NEW ENGLAND, Lorenzo White, HB, MICHIGAN STATE
LB help needed, but Pats always go for the best player on the board.

18. PITTSBURGH, John Stephens, FB, NORTHWESTERN STATE (LA.)
RBs still abound. Steelers will go for this bruiser who runs a 4.4 40.

19. N.Y. GIANTS, John Elliott, T, MICHIGAN
(projected trade with Minnesota)
Offensive line injuries hurt last year, so the Giants take this 300-pounder.

20. L.A. RAMS (from Indianapolis), Wendell Davis, WR, LSU
RB Thurman Thomas very attractive, but L.A. has already taken Ironhead.

21. HOUSTON, Ken Harvey, LB, CALIFORNIA
Or will trade spot for a second-round shot at Ohio State LB Chris Spielman.

22. CLEVELAND, Michael Dean Perry, NG-DE, CLEMSON
Browns plan to make the short (6'2") Perry into a new-wave DE.

23. CHICAGO, Aaron Cox, WR, ARIZONA STATE
Won't take an OLB because feels Ron Rivera can replace Wilber Marshall.

24. NEW ORLEANS, Thurman Thomas, RB, OKLAHOMA STATE
With Rueben Mayes hurting, Saints will go for the best RB remaining.

25. SAN FRANCISCO, Scott Davis, DE, ILLINOIS
If he can be fired up, 49ers will have a big, sturdy player for the base 3-4.

26. DENVER, Terry McDaniel, CB, TENNESSEE
By an eyelash over Arizona State's Eric Allen. Broncs worried about their D.

27. CHICAGO BEARS (from Washington), Randall McDaniel, G, ARIZ. STATE
Another Reggie McKenzie. Not a Hog type. Active and athletic.

BIGGEST BUSTS OF '87

First and second rounds

1. Kelly Stouffer, QB, ST. LOUIS
Talented, yes, but still not signed.

2. Shawn Knight, MG, NEW ORLEANS
Couldn't stick on the roster.

3. Reggie Rogers, DE, DETROIT
Six tackles, five assists, zero sacks.

4. Brent Fullwood, RB, GREEN BAY
First RB chosen, should have done more.

5. Donald Evans, DE-FB, L.A. RAMS
Where to play him was the question.

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PHOTORICHARD MACKSONMorris will help any team shrewd enough to pick him. PHOTOJOHN BIEVERFullwood ran for only 274 yards. PHOTORICHARD MACKSONThe pros think Dixon (29) can handle NFL offenses in the same way he handled Nebraska's.

TOP THREE BY POSITION

Rated on the Dr. Z 10-point system

QUARTERBACKS

Grade

1. Chris Chandler, WASHINGTON

7.48

2. Mike Perez, SAN JOSE ST.

7.31

3. (tie) Stan Humphries, NE LOUISIANA
Scott Secules, VIRGINIA

7.28

RUNNING BACKS

1. Brad Muster, STANFORD

8.56

2. Gaston Green, UCLA

8.55

3. (tie) Craig Heyward, PITTSBURGH
Lorenzo White, MICHIGAN ST.

8.25

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Tim Brown, NOTRE DAME

9.05

2. Sterling Sharpe, SOUTH CAROLINA

9.03

3. Michael Irvin, MIAMI

9.00

TIGHT ENDS

1. Keith Jackson, OKLAHOMA

8.38

2. Ferrell Edmunds, MARYLAND

7.15

3. Pat Carter, FLORIDA ST.

7.08

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

1. Paul Gruber, WISCONSIN

8.48

2. Dave Cadigan, USC

8.40

3. (tie) John Elliott, MICHIGAN
Randall McDaniel, ARIZONA ST.

7.95

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

1. Neil Smith, NEBRASKA

8.58

2. Michael Dean Perry, CLEMSON

8.43

3. Paul Frase, SYRACUSE

7.55

LINEBACKERS

1. Aundray Bruce, AUBURN

8.45

2. Ken Harvey, CALIFORNIA

7.89

3. Darrell Reed, OKLAHOMA

7.58

DEFENSIVE BACKS

1. Bennie Blades, MIAMI

9.04

2. Rickey Dixon, OKLAHOMA

9.02

3. Terry McDaniel, TENNESSEE

7.81

KICKERS

1. Chip Lohmiller, MINNESOTA

6.85

2. Marty Zendejas, NEVADA-RENO

6.71

3. Teddy Garcia, NE LOUISIANA

6.68

PUNTERS

1. Greg Montgomery, MICHIGAN ST.

6.91

2. Barry Helton, COLORADO

6.88

3. Tom Tupa, OHIO ST.

6.86

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)