How did the draft play out? The Bengals and the 49ers came up with the most blue-chippers. The Rams spurned a chance to get a keynote quarterback to trade down for a mob of picks, which was just fine with the Buccaneers, who pinched themselves when that quarterback. Trent Dilfer, fell into their laps. The Packers went for quality over quantity. The Chiefs were the most successful in filling specific needs. The Cowboys had a draft that was a reach. Buddy Ryan's first selection as the Cardinals' new coach was a guy with a two-time arrest record. And the Giants produced the annual "Who he?" pick in the first round.
You've got to love the guys Cincinnati took: Ohio State defensive tackle Big Daddy Wilkinson, the first pick overall; San Diego State wideout Darnay Scott, a second-rounder who should have gone in the first; and solid selections in Ohio State fullback Jeff Cothran, Northwestern linebacker Steve Shine and Florida State cornerback Corey Sawyer. But the Niners' draft was my favorite. San Francisco got a solid swing defensive lineman in Bryant Young of Notre Dame; the best fullback, William Floyd of Florida State; an intriguing middle-linebacker prospect in Syracuse's cat-quick Kevin Mitchell; and a kicker, Doug Brien, who made 3.1 of 36 field goal attempts for Cal over the last two seasons.
The Rams had seven picks in the first three rounds, but after you plug in the first, Auburn's Wayne Gandy, at left tackle, their draft is a question mark. The brass wanted Dilfer, but coach Chuck Knox wanted the picks. As for Tampa Bay, it has an instant quarterback controversy: Dilfer versus Craig Erickson.
The Packers did well, grabbing Notre Dame's Aaron Taylor, who might have been the best offensive lineman in the draft, and LeShon Johnson of Northern Illinois, who could put some spice in their running attack. And the Chiefs gave Joe Montana help, taking two running backs and two wideouts with their first four picks. The Patriots, who on Monday acquired fullback Marion Butts from San Diego, got more instant help by landing super pass rusher Willie McGinest of USC with the fourth pick of the draft.
That broke the hearts of the Cowboys, who thought they could trade into position for McGinest. What Dallas wound up with instead was a maybe in skinny rush end Shante Carver of Arizona State, who was effective in all-star competition; a raw offensive lineman named Larry Allen from Sonoma State, where the chardonnays and cabernets live; and a 360-pound earthquake of a tackle named George Hegamin from N.C. State.
The arrest record of UCLA linebacker Jamir Miller—for receiving stolen property and for carrying a weapon—scared off a lot of people. Not Ryan, who declared that the rush-linebacker position was Miller's to lose now that Ken Harvey is a Redskin. Finally, there was the Giants' top choice, Indiana wideout Thomas Lewis, who wasn't highly rated by many draftniks. Still, the word is that he could be this year's sleeper: a big, physical Jerry Rice-type whose stock soared in the days before the draft.