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EA Sports Predicts Picks in Upcoming NFL Draft

Column by Bo Light and Brian Petersen
Sports Columnists

After five grueling hours of marathon watching on Monday, we could barely drag ourselves out of bed to write this column. However, our devotion to our loyal readers prevailed, and so we bring you our much-anticipated NFL draft preview.

Read on and enjoy.

The Draft

As everyone knows, the NFL draft is based on the reverse order of finish during the regular season, barring any trades. No sissy lotteries in this league, no sir; you finish dead last, you get the first pick, no questions asked.

Did we say first? We meant third. This year, two expansion teams will take the first two picks, leaving the hapless Houston Oilers with the third selection.

Trying to predict the results of the draft is not easy; we pored over pages of statistics, ran countless computer simulations, and, in some cases, called the front offices of the respective teams and asked who they would pick. Now, without further ado, we proudly present the EA Sports Draft.

The Top Ten

1. Carolina Panthers. Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State. We wanted to see Warren Sapp of Miami go here, but that whole marijuana thing dropped his stock just a bit. Besides, Carolina needs everything, and a running back with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash and an average of 7.8 yards per carry is a perfect place to start. There have been rumors of a trade for this pick, but none of the teams interested in Carter (Washington in particular) have anything to offer.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars. Tony Boselli, T, Southern Cal. As any Detroit fan will be happy to tell you, no team can go far without an offensive lineman, and Boselli is the best around. While the Jaguars also need just about everything, their biggest hole is on the offensive line, where they don't have a single player who has started an NFL game. There have been no rumors of a trade for this pick, so look for Boselli, who has drawn comparisons to future Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz, to become the highest O-line pick since Tony Mandarich in 1989.

3. Houston Oilers. Steve McNair, QB, Alcorn State. While seriously lacking at several positions, the Oilers couldn't possibly pass up McNair, the NCAA's all-time leader in total offense, and the top available quarterback. While he will need a year to make the transition from I-AA to the NFL, Air McNair is definitely a future franchise player.

4. Washington Redskins. Warren Sapp, DL, Miami (Fla.). If a trade is made for the first pick, the 'skins will grab Carter, leaving Carolina free to pick up Sapp here. Despite a lack of height, Sapp's strength, quickness, and sense of the field make him an ideal choice to improve Washington's weak pass rush.

5. Cincinnati Bengals. Reuben Brown, T, Pittsburgh. This one is fairly iffy. A trade with Minnesota for the 11th and 24th picks has been mentioned, and the Vikings would snap up defensive end Kevin Carter of Florida.

However, we would like to think the Vikes would be smarter than to give up two picks in a draft this deep, which makes Brown the second offensive lineman to go in the first five picks.

6. St. Louis Rams. Kevin Carter, DE, Florida. That is, if he's still around. And yes, you read it right, the Rams are moving to St. Louis. If Carter is gone, look for the Rams to go with Derrick Alexander, Ellis Johnson, or Mike Mamula to bolster a sagging defensive line.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Derrick Alexander, DE, Florida State. The talent pool is deep this year for defensive players, which is a boon for a lot of the lower teams.

Even if Carter isn't available, the Bucs should still have a great selection of players who can make an immediate impact on defense.

8. Seattle Seahawks. Michael Westbrook, WR, Colorado. Rick Mirer needs someone to throw to, and the 6'3", 215 lb. Westbrook is the best receiver in the college ranks. His speed and height make him a better prospect than J.J. Stokes (who lacks speed) and Joey Galloway (who is only 5'10" tall).

9. New York Jets. Mike Mamula, DE, Boston College. Mamula's stock has risen dramatically since he first declared himself eligible for the draft. The 6'4", 250 lb. defensive end is not only the fastest defensive lineman available, his aggressiveness will be highly prized by the sometimes lackluster Jets.

10. Cleveland Browns. Luther Elliss, DL, Utah. The Browns got this pick from Atlanta in the Eric Metcalf deal, and they will use it to continue to improve their defense. Elliss, an overpowering lineman who rarely misses tackles, will be an excellent replacement for the departed Michael Dean Perry.

The Rest of the Draft

11. Minnesota (from Denver) - Ellis Johnson, DL, Florida

12. Philadelphia - Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State

13. New Orleans - Shawn King, DL, Northeast Louisiana

14. Buffalo - Korey Stringer, OT, Ohio State

15. Indianapolis - Kyle Brady, TE, Penn State

16. Arizona - J.J. Stokes, WR, UCLA

17. New York Giants - Matt O'Dwyer, OG, Northwestern

18. Los Angeles Raiders - Blake Brockenmeyer, OT, Texas

19. Kansas City - Chad May, QB, Kansas State

20. Detroit - Bobby Taylor, DB, Notre Dame

21. Chicago - Tyrone Wheatley, RB, Michigan

22. Green Bay - Joey Galloway, WR, Ohio State

23. New England - Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado

24. Minnesota - Rob Johnson, QB, Southern Cal

25. Miami - Brian DeMarco, OT, Michigan State

26. Atlanta (from Cleveland) - Anthony Cook, DT, South Carolina State

27. Pittsburgh - Christian Fauria, TE, Colorado

28. Dallas - Sherman Williams, RB, Alabama

29. San Diego - Lorenzo Styles, LB, Ohio State

30. San Francisco - James Stewart, RB, Tennessee

31. Jacksonville - Derrick Brooks, LB, Florida State

32. Carolina - Cory Raymer, Center, Wisconsin

We think that the Eagles, despite needing defensive help, will choose Collins to provide a much needed back-up for Randall Cunningham. Collins, the 1994 NCAA passing champion, has been working out with Bill Walsh over the past two months to improve his mobility and passing delivery and is now the number two quarterback prospect behind McNair.

The Colts should select Collins' former college teammate Brady, who is a strong blocker, has good size (6'6", 260 lb.), and is a tremendous receiver. Now that Joe Montana has retired, the Chiefs will be looking for a quarterback to back up Steve Bono, and Chad May is the best choice. If given the opportunity, the Packers will select Galloway, who has 4.3 speed in the 40, to help replace Sterling Sharpe.

Trivia

Who was the last running back to be the number one selection in the NFL draft and for extra credit what year was it? Send answers and comments to: easports@the-tech.mit.edu.

Answer to last week's question: UNLV's Larry Johnson was the last college senior to be the top selection in the NBA draft. Correct answers were sent in by Sang Chin G and Aaron Day '95. Congratulations to all the winners.

And finally. . .

On Tuesday, Joe Montana officially announced his retirement from professional football, thus closing out a tremendous 16-year career. Along with winning four Super Bowl rings, the former Notre Dame star was one of only five quarterbacks to throw for over 40,000 yards in a career. Joe, you were the greatest player of all-time, and you will be greatly missed.