By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2001
BEST FIRST-ROUND PICK: Texas Christian running back LaDainian Tomlinson, drafted by San Diego at No. 5 overall -- but only because Purdue quarterback Drew Brees fell into the Chargers' lap with the first pick of the second round. San Diego's luck must be turning around, as the franchise filled two gaping needs.
WORST FIRST-ROUND PICK: Miami wide receiver Reggie Wayne, drafted by Indianapolis 30th. Wayne would be a great pick -- anywhere else. The Colts' mediocre defense needs help after giving up 209 rushing yards to Miami running back Lamar Smith in last season's 23-17 overtime playoff loss. Was the Indianapolis brain trust channel-surfing when Baltimore won Super Bowl XXXV?
BEST FIRST-ROUND NEED PICK: Florida tackle Kenyatta Walker, taken at No. 14 when Tampa Bay traded up for Buffalo's pick. The Bucs eliminated their biggest weakness and protected QB Brad Johnson's backside with perhaps the top tackle in the draft. But Tampa Bay loves mid-round picks; trading that second-rounder is a tad desperate.
WORST FIRST-ROUND NEED PICK: Clemson receiver Rod Gardner, to Washington at No. 15. The Redskins replaced Albert Connell, but needed offensive lineman more after letting guards Tre Johnson and Keith Sims and tackle Andy Heck go. So why did Marty Schottenheimer pass up the top guard, Michigan's Steve Hutchinson?
BEST PICK OF THE DRAFT: Walker to the Bucs.
WORST PICK OF THE DRAFT: R. Jay Soward has a playmate. Jacksonville lost tackle Leon Searcy to Baltimore, but when Walker fell to their spot at the No. 13 pick -- the Jaguars drafted inconsistent Georgia defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. "That is a shocking first-round pick as far as I'm concerned," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said. Walker will haunt this team.
FASTEST RISER: Zephyrhills High School's Ryan Pickett, the junior defensive tackle who left Ohio State early. Pickett wasn't on any top 10 list, but was the fifth defensive tackle selected, taken by St. Louis 29th overall. Said his father, Rubin: "We don't listen to that Mel Kiper junk."
FASTEST SLIDER: Mississippi State cornerback Fred Smoot. The trash-talker must have been speechless as he plummeted into the second round, 45th overall, to Washington.
BEST DRAFT: St. Louis general manager Charley Armey did his best Rich McKay impersonation. To bolster a defense that surrendered 29 points a game last season, St. Louis traded second- and fourth-round picks to Arizona for Pro Bowl cornerback Aeneas Williams; traded quarterback Trent Green to Kansas City for the No. 12 pick, which it used on Miami defensive tackle Damione Lewis, and took Arizona State linebacker/safety Adam Archuleta 20th and Pickett 29th.
WORST DRAFT: Dallas owner Jerry Jones had three low-round picks, but ignored a host of needs to draft Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter with his first pick, 53rd overall. Carter isn't accurate, can't see the field, was a better sophomore than a junior and coveted by no one else. The world's most expensive -- and inept -- fantasy football team needs a real general manager.
MOST ADDRESSED NEED: Defense. Of 31 first-round picks, nine were defensive lineman.
MOST UNADDRESSED NEED: No kickers or punters were taken in the first three rounds.
THANKS, DAD: Former University of Miami and Denver Broncos nose tackle Rubin Carter schooled son Andre in the family business at an early age. It paid off when the California defensive end was drafted No. 7 overall by San Francisco. "His dad has been teaching him defensive line techniques since he was 5 years old," 49ers general manager Bill Walsh said.
I MISS: Enraged Jets' fans booing draft picks.
WORD I NEVER WANT TO HEAR AGAIN: Tinactin.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I'd like to be the last guy in the blue room.