- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

A first round that could have been as full of surprises as any NFL Draft became predictable when the Detroit Lions took quarterback Joey Harrington with the third pick yesterday. The Lions, 2-14 in their first season under coach Marty Mornhinweg and general manager Matt Millen, bypassed top cornerback Quentin Jammer in the hope that Harrington can become their first top passer since Hall of Famer Bobby Layne in the 1950s.
After Harrington who could have gone eighth to Kansas City, 10th to Cincinnati or to Washington in a trade up from the 18th spot became a Lion, the draft for hours pretty much followed form. The expansion Houston Texans took strong-armed Fresno State quarterback David Carr first, and Carolina grabbed speedy North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers second.
Carr was the fourth quarterback to be the first choice in the past five years following Peyton Manning (1998), Tim Couch (1999) and Michael Vick (2001). Carr and Oregon's Harrington were the third pair of passers to be chosen in the top three during that half-decade, following Manning and Ryan Leaf and Couch and Donovan McNabb. Peppers was the first Tar Heel to go in the top five since Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1981.
Despite the lack of a trade for Harrington, there were six deals in what was the longest first round ever at six hours.
Oakland and Washington made two trades apiece, including one with each other.
After Harrington went to Detroit, Buffalo opted for mammoth offensive tackle Mike Williams of Texas. San Diego and new coach Marty Schottenheimer who had coveted Williams then were thrilled to select the physical Jammer, Williams' Longhorns teammate.
Dallas next took advantage of the Chiefs' desire for top-rated defensive tackle Ryan Sims of North Carolina by trading down two spots. Kansas City, knowing that Minnesota wanted Sims at No.7, gave up its third-rounder as well as a sixth-rounder in 2003 to beat the Vikings to him.
The move almost backfired when it appeared that the deal wasn't made until after the Cowboys' 15 minutes had expired. However, NFL officials told Minnesota that the Chiefs still got their card to the podium before the Vikings did the same with Sims.
Minnesota then chose the offensive player it most wanted, Miami left tackle Bryant McKinnie, to fill the void caused by Korey Stringer's death during training camp last August. As expected, the Cowboys picked Oklahoma's Roy Williams, the most dominant college safety in years. Jacksonville opted for John Henderson over fellow Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and another player at the position, Wisconsin's Wendell Bryant.
Then came the draft's first real curveball courtesy of Cincinnati, which has missed the playoffs for an NFL-high 11 straight seasons. The Bengals rejected offers to trade down from No.10 and chose Arizona State offensive tackle Levi Jones, generally regarded as a late first-rounder. Not only could the Bengals likely have nabbed Jones much lower, they already have proven starting tackles Willie Anderson and Richmond Webb.
Indianapolis then figured to take Miami cornerback Phillip Buchanon or Bryant at No.11 but instead went for the best pass rusher, undersized Syracuse end Dwight Freeney. Bryant then went to Arizona before New Orleans took the No.1 receiver, Tennessee's Donte Stallworth, and the New York Giants traded up one spot to grab the top tight end, Miami's Jeremy Shockey. The Tennessee Titans, who moved down in the deal, followed with Haynesworth, the sixth defensive lineman among the top 15 picks.
Choosing 16th, Cleveland made Boston College's swift William Green the first running back taken (and the latest so selected in 18 drafts). That left burly T.J. Duckett of Michigan State two picks later for Atlanta. The Falcons swapped choices with Oakland, which earlier had jumped up three spots in a trade with Washington. With the Falcons having signed free agent scatback Warrick Dunn last month, the selection of Duckett likely means the end in Atlanta for oft-injured runner Jamal Anderson, the hero of the Falcons' surprise 1998 NFC champions.
The Raiders had gotten a bargain in Buchanon at No.18. Denver did the expected by selecting the top receiver on the board, Hawaii's Ashley Lelie, before Green Bay with moody receiver Antonio Freeman likely on the way out traded up eight spots with Seattle to take Florida State wideout Javon Walker.
The Seahawks gambled and lost that Colorado tight end Daniel Graham would still be there at No.28 when Super Bowl champion New England traded the last choice of the round to the Redskins to move to No.21 and take Graham despite having signed free agent tight ends Cam Cleeland and Christian Fauria this spring.
The Jets then angered their fans attending the draft in New York by taking Alabama-Birmingham end Bryan Thomas while passing up Miami defensive backs Edward Reed or Mike Rumph to fill holes in a secondary minus three starters from 2001.
The Raiders next made Northwestern's Napoleon Harris the first linebacker drafted (and at No.23, the latest so anointed since 1973). That left Baltimore, which had also lost three secondary starters this offseason, free to take safety Reed. San Francisco followed with corner Rumph, the fifth player chosen from the national champion Hurricanes in the first round, equaling Southern Cal's record from 1968.
The surprise first-rounders were Walker, Thomas, University of Washington tight end Jerramy Stevens, who went 28th to Seattle, and the last three: Auburn guard Kendall Simmons (Pittsburgh), UCLA linebacker Robert Thomas (St. Louis) and Tulane quarterback Patrick Ramsey (Washington). Those who slipped out of first-round projections included receivers Jabar Gaffney of Florida and Antonio Bryant of Pitt and guards Andre Gurode of Colorado and Toniu Fonoti of Nebraska.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide