At the top this draft is better than last year's. Two players, Michigan State offensive tackle Tony Mandarich and Florida State cornerback Deion Sanders, may be the best at their positions ever to come out of college. Five others—wideout Andre Rison of Michigan State, quarterback Troy Aikman of UCLA, running back Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State and the linebacking Thomases, Derrick of Alabama and Broderick of Nebraska—are better than anyone at their positions in the '88 draft.
Kansas City, which picks fourth, would like to make a trade with Dallas to get Aikman. It could happen, because the Cowboys haven't committed to Aikman. Chicago would love to strike a deal with Green Bay to get Mandarich with the second pick, but you don't give away a guy like him.
THE FIRST ROUND: WHO'LL PICK WHOM
1 COWBOYS, Troy Aikman, QB, UCLA
Mandarich is tempting. Jimmy Johnson must decide if Aikman's the savior.
2 PACKERS, Tony Mandarich, T, MICHIGAN STATE
He'll fortify the Packers' running game—or anybody else's.
3 LIONS, Barry Sanders, RB, OKLAHOMA STATE
For the "run" in Mouse Davis's run 'n' shoot offense.
4 CHIEFS, Derrick Thomas, LB, ALABAMA
K.C. has looked at Broderick Thomas too. It needs run-stoppers.
5 FALCONS, Deion Sanders, CB, FLORIDA STATE
If they fear Deion's asking price, they'll take RB Tim Worley.
6 BUCS, Broderick Thomas, LB, NEBRASKA
Could use WR Andre Rison, but Tampa Bay had NFC's fewest sacks in '88.
7 STEELERS, Tim Worley, RB, GEORGIA
Again, Rison gets a look, but Worley is a 221-pounder who runs a 4.35.
8 CHARGERS, Burt Grossman, DE, PITTSBURGH
San Diego could switch and pick LB Eric Hill for defense against the run.
9 DOLPHINS, Eric Hill, LB, LSU
Don Shula's former defensive assistant, Bill Arnsparger, coached him.
10 CARDINALS, Sammie Smith, RB, FLORIDA STATE
Smith's explosive; Cards hope to get CB Donnell Woolford with next pick.
11 BEARS (from Raiders), Donnell Woolford, CB, CLEMSON
Sorry, Cardinals. Bears need a CB as badly as you do.
12 BEARS (from Washington), Andy Heck, T, NOTRE DAME
Almost as fast as Mandarich. Chicago loves Domers.
13 BRONCOS, Louis Oliver, s, FLORIDA
A big guy—225 pounds—who can fly. Defensive help a must.
14 JETS, Andre Rison, WR, MICHIGAN STATE
They can't believe he's still available. We can't either.
15 SEAHAWKS (from Indianapolis), Brian Williams, c, MINNESOTA
Seattle lost two centers in the recent free-agency period.
16 PATRIOTS, Hart Lee Dykes, WR, OKLAHOMA STATE
Or RB Eric Metcalf if Dykes—Stanley Morgan's successor—is gone.
17 CARDINALS (from Seattle), Eric Metcalf, RB, TEXAS
Phoenix wanted defense, but this guy's too exciting to pass up.
18 GIANTS, Cleveland Gary, FB, MIAMI
New York worried that Denver would get Gary, a great backfield receiver.
19 SAINTS, Joe Wolf, G, BOSTON COLLEGE
Solid and sturdy. Coach Jim Mora's type.
20 BROWNS, Derek Hill, WR, ARIZONA
Could switch to Lawyer Tillman, the big receiver from Auburn.
21 RAMS, Trace Armstrong, DE, FLORIDA
L.A. has the shorts when it comes to defensive linemen.
22 COLTS (from Philadelphia), Lawyer Tillman, WR-TE, AUBURN
Indy might try to trade up for Rison or Dykes.
23 OILERS, Keith DeLong, LB, TENNESSEE
Unless Brian Williams is still around, but Houston wants defense, too.
24 VIKINGS, Matt Brock, DE, OREGON
Minnesota is worried Doug Martin won't be the same after knee surgery.
25 BEARS, Wayne Martin, DE, ARKANSAS
Chicago needs someone to replace Al Harris, who's now in Philly.
26 RAMS (from Buffalo), Steve Wisniewski, G, PENN STATE
He'll plug right into L.A.'s running game.
27 BENGALS, Jeff Graham, QB, LONG BEACH STATE
Boomer has a sore arm. Graham is a sleeper and a deep flinger.
28 49ERS, Walter Reeves, TE, AUBURN
Niner TE John Frank might go to medical school full-time.
BIGGEST BUSTS OF '88
1 TED GREGORY, NT Broncos
This No. 1 choice was traded away.
2 TONY JEFFERY, RB Cardinals
Eight yards rushing—total.
3 NEIL SMITH, DE Chiefs
Second pick in draft, 2½ sacks.
4 DAVE CADIGAN,T Jets
Got overrun and then injured his foot.
5 GASTON GREEN, RB Rams
Only 117 yards rushing but may come on.
6 CLIFFORD CHARLTON, LB Browns
Didn't develop as a run-stopper.
TOP THREE BY POSITION
Dr. Z tells us who's best
1 Troy Aikman, UCLA
2 Timm Rosenbach,* WASH. STATE
3 Steve Walsh,* MIAMI
1 Barry Sanders, OKLAHOMA STATE
2 Tim Worley, GEORGIA
3 (tie) Cleveland Gary, MIAMI Sammie Smith, FLORIDA STATE
1 Andre Rison, MICHIGAN STATE
2 Hart Lee Dykes, OKLAHOMA STATE
3 Derek Hill, ARIZONA
1 Lawyer Tillman,** AUBURN
2 Walter Reeves, AUBURN
3 Marv Cook, IOWA
1 Tony Mandarich, MICHIGAN STATE
2 Steve Wisniewski, PENN STATE
3 (tie) Brian Williams, MINNESOTA
Joe Wolf, BOSTON COLLEGE
1 Burt Grossman, PITTSBURGH
2 Trace Armstrong, FLORIDA
3 Matt Brock, OREGON
1 Derrick Thomas, ALABAMA
2 Broderick Thomas, NEBRASKA
3 Eric Hill, LSU
1 Deion Sanders, FLORIDA STATE
2 Donnell Woolford, CLEMSON
3 Louis Oliver, FLORIDA
1 Pete Stoyanovich, INDIANA
2 Chris Jacke, UTEP
3 Kendall Trainor, ARKANSAS
1 Chris Mohr, ALABAMA
2 Mike Schuh, ARIZONA STATE
3 Keith English, COLORADO
* Rosenbach and Walsh, who each had a year of college eligibility left, applied too late to be included in the regular draft and will be selected in July's supplemental draft.
** Will probably be an H-back in a one-back system.
1 LaSalle Harper, LB, ARKANSAS
Best player on the field at the Cotton Bowl.
2 Lewis Tillman, RB, JACKSON STATE
As tough as Walter Payton but not as fast.
3 Steve Wisniewski, G, PENN STATE
In the Mike Munchak-Sean Farrell mold.
4 Frank Stams, LB, NOTRE DAME
Excellent pass rusher. Coverage needs work.
5 Terrence Jones, QB, TULANE
Great—but raw—physical skills.
6 Scott Kozak, LB, OREGON
Tough, smart and very productive.
7 Courtney Hall, C, RICE
Fine technician. Size (260 pounds) a minus.
8 Dave Meggett, RB-WR, TOWSON STATE
Terrific little guy in the Eric Metcalf mold.
9 Doug Lloyd, RB, NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Has size and speed but Div. II background.
10 Steve Hendrickson, LB, CALIFORNIA
Caught scouts' eyes in Blue-Gray game.
11 Mark Green, RB, NOTRE DAME
No great numbers but gritty.
12 Jeff Query, WR, MILLIKIN UNIVERSITY
Was a track star but has had bad ankle.