The 1991 draft looks like a three-man parlay: Raghib (Rocket) Ismail, the Notre Dame wideout and return terror; Todd Lyght, the dazzling Irish cornerback; and Mike Croel, the gifted linebacker from Nebraska, command all the action. They should go in that order, but to whom? Teams may well trade up to get them.
The Ismail financial package-he wants a five-year, $15 million deal-is scaring people, and it'll take a team with deep pockets and a need to sell tickets to draft him. New England, which has the first pick, qualifies only on the latter point, so if someone offers the Pats serious offensive-line help, they'll listen. Atlanta, which has the third and 13th choices, wants Lyght but not Ismail. Trading up to the No. 2 spot to get a cornerback to pair up with Deion Sanders would make a lot of sense for the Falcons, who likely would have to give up both of their first-round selections. The Browns, who have the second pick, would then grab Croel and an offensive lineman, probably USC tackle Pat Harlow, with the 13th choice.
1 PATRIOTS (or a trade), Raghib Ismail, WR-KR-PR, NOTRE DAME
It'll take a Pro Bowl offensive lineman plus a first-round pick, maybe more, to get this spot from the Pats.
2 BROWNS (or Falcons in a trade), Todd Lyght, CB, NOTRE DAME
Nagging injuries limited his productivity last season, but everyone who scouted him loves him.
April 21, 1991
3 FALCONS (or Browns in a trade), Mike Croel, LB, NEBRASKA
He ran a 4.56 40 at the combine workouts and had a vertical jump of 36½ inches—at 231 pounds.
4 BRONCOS, Alfred Williams, LB, COLORADO
Offensive board is wide open, but Denver says it wants a defensive player.
5 RAMS, Russell Maryland, DT-DE, MIAMI
Tennessee tackle Antone Davis is enticing but John Robinson must rebuild his defense.
6 CARDINALS, Antone Davis, T, TENNESSEE
He's narrowly the pick over the Vols' other tackle, Charles McRae; Joe Bugel is an old line coach.
7 BUCCANEERS, Charles McRae, T, TENNESSEE
If Tampa Bay goes for defense instead, it might take Michigan State tackle Bobby Wilson.
8 PACKERS, Nick Bell, RB, IOWA
They wanted a Tennessee tackle; instead they'll get a 252-pound rusher who runs the 40 in the 4.5 range.
9 CHARGERS, Bruce Pickens, CB, NEBRASKA
This choice would allow San Diego to shore up a weakness by moving corner Gill Byrd to safety.
10 LIONS, Ted Washington, DE, LOUISVILLE
When motivated, he's the best "anchor" lineman in the draft—he's impossible to move out.
11 COWBOYS from Vikings, Dan McGwire, QB, SAN DIEGO STATE
Troy Aikman was hurt last year and Dallas was stuck; Jimmy Johnson has nightmares about it.
12 COWBOYS, Huey Richardson, DE-LB, FLORIDA
He's a pass-rush specialist who can play up or down; Dallas doesn't have anyone like that.
13 FALCONS (or Browns in a trade) from Colts, Brett Favre, QB, SOUTHERN MISS
Atlanta swears it won't draft a quarterback; don't believe it. Cleveland would take Pat Harlow.
14 COWBOYS from Saints, Eric Turner, S, UCLA
They could trade down for more choices, but Turner's a big guy who runs a 4.49 40.
15 STEELERS, Reggie Barrett, WR, TEXAS-EL PASO
This is where the great wideout stampede will start; no one can agree on which one is the best.
16 SEAHAWKS, Randal Hill, WR, MIAMI
Tennessee's Alvin Harper and Virginia's Herman Moore are enticing, but Hill (4.34) is the burner.
17 OILERS, Stanley Richard, S, TEXAS
He has terrific numbers—200 pounds, with a 4.48 40 and a 37-inch vertical leap—and he plays hard.
18 BENGALS, Herman Moore, WR, VIRGINIA
Cincy needs defensive-line help (perhaps Mississippi's Kelvin Pritchett), but Sam Wyche loves Moore.
19 EAGLES, Pat Harlow, T, USC
He would be sure to go higher except for recent back surgery; still rated third-best tackle.
20 REDSKINS, Kelvin Pritchett, DE, MISSISSIPPI
Washington needs an outside rusher to take some of the pressure off Charles Mann.
21 CHIEFS, Alvin Harper, WR, TENNESSEE
Many scouts consider him the best wideout on the board; Kansas City likes Randal Hill, too.
22 BEARS, Chris Zorich, DT, NOTRE DAME
Most scouts think he'll go much later, but Mike Ditka sees him as another Steve McMichael.
23 DOLPHINS, Wesley Carroll, WR, MIAMI
Yes, they do have a history of taking local guys; could pick Herman Moore if he's available.
24 RAIDERS, Keith Traylor, MLB, CENTRAL STATE (OKLA.)
The scouting department likes LSU halfback Harvey Williams, but Al Davis favors the serious hitters.
25 49ERS, Leonard Russell, RB, ARIZONA STATE
He's a big guy (6'1½", 237 pounds) who can address the Niners' pressing need: a running game.
26 BILLS, Bobby Wilson, NG, MICHIGAN STATE
They love DE Eric Swann of the semipro Bay State Titans, but he's a year away; Wilson can do it now.
27 GIANTS, Eric Swann, DE, NO COLLEGE
He's just 20 years old, but the numbers (6'3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬®", 311 and 4.89 40) are too good to pass up.
Note: There are only 27 first-round selections because the Jets, who would have drafted eighth, took wideout Rob Moore of Syracuse in last year's supplemental draft.