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Sunshine statement

By PETE YOUNG, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001


It figures to be another banner NFL draft for Sunshine State powerhouses Miami, Florida State and Florida.

It figures to be another banner NFL draft for Sunshine State powerhouses Miami, Florida State and Florida.

The Gators, while expecting just a few players to be drafted, might have the highest pair of draftees in school history.

Defensive tackle Gerard Warren and offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker are projected in the top 10, possibly the top 5. Florida's highest pair same-year selections are Kevin Carter (No. 6, Rams) and Ellis Johnson (No. 15, Colts) in 1995.

If Warren and Walker go in the first round, as seems virtually certain, they will be the fifth pair of Gators chosen in the first round in the past seven years. The others are Ike Hilliard (No. 7, Giants) and Reidel Anthony (No. 16, Bucs) in 1997; Fred Taylor (No. 9, Jaguars) and Mo Collins (No. 23, Raiders) in 1998; and Jevon Kearse (No. 16, Titans) and Reggie McGrew (No. 24, 49ers) in 1999.

The Seminoles will have a mother lode of draftees, in all likelihood the most in the country. Twelve FSU players appear certain to be chosen, and four others are possibilities, which might be expected from a school that has appeared in the national championship game three years in a row.

Defensive end Jamal Reynolds (first round), linebacker Tommy Polley and safety Derrick Gibson (early second) are expected to be the first three Seminoles off the board. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Chris Weinke is expected to go between Rounds 2 and 4.

The Hurricanes are competing with Michigan and Texas for most first-round picks. Almost all projections have linebacker Dan Morgan, receiver Santana Moss and defensive tackle Damione Lewis going in the first round. Receiver Reggie Wayne is a first-round possibility.

THE ORIGINAL: Mel Kiper Jr. is far from the original draft geek. Joe Sullivan parlayed his interest into a career as a pro football executive. He started compiling a list of prospects, along with brother Jack, in 1946 as an avocation and wound up becoming general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

While still technically a draftnik, Joe helped coax the Green Bay Packers into selecting Bart Starr, ran the draft one year for the hapless New York Titans of the old American Football League and influenced the Chicago Bears' decision to select future Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.

Sullivan, who turned 77 Friday, retired in 1982.

DON'T FORGET US: South Florida expects to have its first draftees, and three Bulls should be chosen. Offensive tackle Kenyatta Jones has drawn much attention lately, including a story in Wednesday's USA Today. Many think he will be gone by the end of the third round. Defensive back Anthony Henry and kicker Bill Gramatica also expect to be drafted.

MOVING UP?: Tampa Bay has a history of staying pat in the first round. Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, however, thinks the Bucs will move up from the No. 21 slot. Zimmerman is forecasting a deal that would yield San Francisco's No. 9 selection, and the Bucs then would select Michigan guard Steve Hutchinson, whom Zimmerman said would be groomed to play tackle.

Zimmerman said Bucs coach Tony Dungy said "if he winds up with his guy, he'll buy me a cigar."

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