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DRAFT COULD TAKE MANY TWISTS AND TURNS

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / April 16, 1998

April is often called the time for renewal. Young animals are making theirappearance, birds are migrating back north and flowers are in bloom.

It is an appropriate time for the NFL to hold its annual draft, giving its teams a chance at rebirth for the upcoming season. Teams at the bottomrung of the ladder get a chance to rebuild while the winning franchises get a chance to fill in holes with a younger crop of players.

The draft is an opportunity for teams to prepare for the future.

Unfortunately, the futures of the the players chosen is not always so bright. For every Emmit Smith chosen, there is a Blair Thomas. For everyTroy Aikman, there is a Tommy Maddox. Gambles will be made and likeevery thing associated with luck, there are always winners and losers.

Trying to predict what players teams will select is as chancy as the selections themselves. There is always a team that throws everyone for aloop, always a trade that changes the pattern of the draft.

With that disclaimer, here is my 1998 mock draft (believed to be called that because afterwards people get to mock your selections).

And with the first pick of the 1998 draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee. During his career with the Volunteers, itwasn’t so much if Manning would be the first overall pick but when.

No. 2, San Diego Chargers. Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State. They didn’ttrade up with the Cardinals to choose a defensive player. Leaf will try todo with the Chargers what another product from the state of Washington, Drew Bledsoe, did with the Patriots.

No. 3, Arizona Cardinals. Andre Wadsworth, DE, Florida State. Along withEric Swann, Wadsworth could give the Cardinals the best defensive stand in the desert since the Persian Gulf War.

No. 4, Oakland Raiders. Charles Woodson, DB, Michigan. Woodson fits theRaiders’ persona. Just watch out for the Heisman jinx.No. 5, Chicago Bears. Keith Brooking, LB, Georgia Tech. The Bears need helpin many areas, especially on defense. Brooking could remind fans in theWindy City of Mike Singletary in a few years.

No. 6, St. Louis Rams. Curtis Enis, RB, Penn State. With Lawrence Philips inMiami, the Rams need someone to carry the ball. But do they want anotherrunning back who has questions about his past? No. 7, New Orleans Saints. Kyle Turley, OT, San Diego State. This pick couldvery well be traded, but the Saints desperately need help on an offensive line that allowed over 50 sacks last year.

No. 8, Dallas Cowboys. Randy Moss, WR, Marshall. The Cowboys have beenlooking for a complement to Michael Irvin since Alvin Harper left and Moss fits right in.

No. 9, Jacksonville Jaguars, Greg Ellis, DE, North Carolina. The Jaguarsneed to fill holes on the defensive line if they want to return to the AFC Championship game.

No. 10, Baltimore Ravens. Vonnie Holloway, DT, North Carolina. Tarheels goback to back. Want to rebuild a team? Try the defensive side first.No. 11, Philadelphia Eagles. Takeo Spikes, LB, Auburn. The defensive runcontinues with this playmaker.

No. 12, Atlanta Falcons. Tra Thomas, OT, Florida State. Another team inneed of offensive line help. Questions about his past cause Thomas to slideout of the top 10.

No. 13, Cincinnati Bengals. Grant Wistrom, DE, Nebraska. The Bengals needsomeone to fill Dan Wilkinson’s spot on the line.

No. 14, Carolina Panthers. Flozell Adams, OT, Michigan State. The Panthersneed to improve the line in front of quarterback Kerry Collins.

No. 15, Seattle Seahawks. Kevin Dyson, WR, Utah. A complement to JoeyGalloway and another weapon for Warren Moon to use.

No. 16, Tennessee Oilers. Duane Starks, DB, Miami. A team with theoffensive firepower of Eddie George and Steve McNair needs to be able to stop somebody on defense as well.

No. 17, Cincinnati Bengals. Brian Simmons, LB, North Carolina. The Bengalsstay on the defensive side of the ball with their second pick of the first round.

No. 18, New England Patriots. Fred Taylor, RB, Florida. A strong runner whofits the bill of replacing Curtis Martin in the Patriots’ backfield.

No. 19, Miami Dolphins. Shaun Williams, S, UCLA. A hard-nose safety – justthe kind of player Jimmy Johnson looks at.

No. 20, Detroit Lions. Victor Riley, OT, Auburn. Another big body for BarrySanders to run behind.

No. 21, Minnesota Vikings. Jeremy Staat, DT, Arizona State. The Vikingsneed to rebuild their defense after free agent defections.

No. 22, New England Patriots. Leon Bender, DT, Washington. After gettingsomeone to run the ball on offense, the Patriots need someone to stuff it on defense.

No. 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Alan Faneca, G, LSU. The Buccaneers add toan already strong offensive line.

No. 24, New York Giants. Jacquez Green, WR, Florida. The Giants need aplaymaker on offense.

No. 25, Jacksonville Jaguars. Robert Edwards, RB, Georgia. The Jaguars gettheir replacement for Natrone Means.

No. 26, Pittsburgh Steelers. Alonzo Mayes, TE, Oklahoma State. Fits in wellin Bill Cowher’s system.

No. 27, Kansas City Chiefs. Jason Peter, DT, Nebraska. Neil Smith is goneand Derrick Thomas is not getting any younger.

No. 28, San Francisco 49ers. Mike Goff, G, Iowa. The 49ers need to upgradetheir offensive line if they want to stay perennial contenders.

No. 29, Green Bay Packers. Greg Spires, DE, Florida State. A reach, butafter what Terrell Davis did to them in the Super Bowl, the Packers need to improve their defense up front.

No. 30, Denver Broncos. Anthony Simmons, LB, Clemson. Will be makingtackles for years to come for the defending Super Bowl champions.

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