- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Starting Monday in The Washington Times: Our week-long series previewing the April 28-29 NFL Draft. But beginning today and continuing for the rest of the week, I’ll address different areas of the draft that have drawn my interest.

Today: Teams that will be major players on the draft’s first day.

The Redskins will be a player … in the draft’s first 90 minutes. They have the sixth pick and all indications are they won’t be able to get a deal that has enough value for them to trade down while acquiring an additional pick or two. This draft simply isn’t full of top-end talents that have teams drooling and desperate to move into the top 10. Following their sixth overall pick, the Redskins aren’t scheduled to select again until No. 143.

In between, six teams will play major roles in what happens with the opening 3-4 rounds.

1. Atlanta (three of the first 44 picks — Nos. 8, 39 and 44)

The Falcons picked up a second-rounder from Houston in the Matt Schaub trade. Coach Bobby Petrino reportedly covets his former Louisville player, DT Amobi Okoye, although it’s not a glaring need. This could help the Redskins if they’re willing to move two spots down for, say, the 39th pick. The Falcons also need receiver help.

2. NY Jets (four of the first 89 picks — Nos. 25, 59, 63 and 89)

The Jets have two second-round picks and like a lot of teams, need help at defensive end. Don’t rule out the Jets packaging Nos. 25 and 59 to move up into the late teens to grab Georgia’s Charles Johnson, Nebraska’s Adam Carriker and Florida’s Jarvis Moss.

3. Oakland (five of the first 100 picks — Nos. 1, 33, 65, 99 and 100)

In addition to the first pick in each round, the Raiders have a compensatory selection. The Raiders are in great position. They hold the first overall pick and teams have no clue what they’re going to do. An Internet rumor yesterday had Tampa Bay offering four picks — Nos. 4, 35, 64 and 68 — for the top pick. The Raiders should make that deal, which would give them an astonishing eight of the top 100 picks. That would also mean Oakland expects Daunte Culpepper to be released by Miami. Then again, the Raiders could stand pat at No. 1 and draft JaMarcus Russell or Calvin Johnson.

4. San Diego (four of the first 96 — Nos. 30, 62, 93 and 96)

The Chargers have drafted well the last five years, selecting 10 starters and 11 back-ups. San Diego is the rare team that is only a few players away AND has some picks to work with. Don’t rule out the Chargers dealing Nos. 30 and 62 to move up into the 20s to draft Miami S Brandon Meriweather or a receiver.

5. San Francisco (eight of the first 135 — Nos. 11, 42, 76, 97, 104, 110, 124 and 135)

The 49ers have four of the first 97 picks after adding CB Nate Clements, S Michael Lewis, LB Tully Banta-Cain and WR Ashley Lelie, the second-worst starting receiver in the league last year after the Redskins’ Brandon Lloyd. Texas CB Aaron Ross would be a great pick at No. 11 to play opposite Clements. After that, the 49ers are in prime position to slide up several spots in rounds 2-4 because of their myraid picks.

6. Tampa Bay (four of the first 68 — Nos. 4, 35, 64 and 68)

The Buccaneers want Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson like the Washington Nationals want some warm weather. Desperately. I mentioned the reported offer to Oakland to move into the first spot. Oakland is the fly in the Bucs’ ointment — they know Detroit, Cleveland and Arizona probably won’t take Johnson, but they can’t take the gamble of merely moving up one or two spots because Johnson may go first to the Raiders.

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