NFL Draft

Bills Among 2002 Draft Elite



Some teams did exactly what everyone expected; others did exactly the opposite. Some spent their time wheeling and dealing to make the most out of their opportunities, while others just bided their time hoping the right guy would fall to them.

Drafting for need, drafting for speed, or simply taking the best player available, each team took its own approach toward the NFL Entry Draft.

Now that the dust has settled and all of the picks are in, analysts across the country are feverishly diagnosing each franchise's performance. And while it may not be apparent which organizations helped themselves the most until a few years from now, it's pretty obvious who can be expected to get the best mileage from their picks.



Big Winners



Arizona Cardinals

Two years after it became a bleeding necessity, the Cardinals finally addressed the ineptitude of their defensive line. First-round pick Wendell Bryant of Wisconsin will make a stout gap player in the middle, and third-round compensatory selection Dennis Johnson of Kentucky gives them another rush end to pair with Kyle Vanden Bosch. Defensive tackle Nate Dwyer of Kansas was an excellent pick in the fourth round. He can play over the nose and allow Bryant to rush the passer in certain situations.



New Orleans Saints

Tennessee wide-out Donte Stallworth takes his 4.26 second "40" speed into the Big Easy where he'll join Joe Horn and Jerome Pathon as targets for youngster Aaron Brooks. Charles Grant, the 25th overall selection, figures to start at right defensive end in place of the departed Joe Johnson, and getting Nebraska cover man Keyou Craver in the fourth round was a real blessing, as he can easily be the team's third corner.



Buffalo Bills

Consider everything they accomplished last weekend: finally picking up a dominator on their offensive line in Texas monster Mike Williams; adding LSU's Josh Reed, college football's most productive receiver; replacing retired defensive end Phil Hansen with carbon-copy Ryan Denney of BYU; and solidifying the strong safety position with Stanford's Coy Wire, an ex-linebacker. Although it wasn't really a draft pick, throw in the much-anticipated addition of Drew Bledsoe, and all of a sudden people are talking about this team.



Big Losers



Seattle Seahawks

Rule number one of trading down: Make sure you can still get your guy. Mike Holmgren and company learned this the hard way when they dropped eight spots to number 28, only to see New England trade up to 21 and steal tight Daniel Graham of Colorado out from under their collective nose. They then had to settle for Washington's Jerramy Stevens at 28, who will be an excellent pro . if he can stay out of rehab for alcoholism.



What Were They Doing?



Atlanta Falcons

They selected running back T.J. Duckett of Michigan State at No. 18, as if Jamal Anderson and $24 million free agent Warrick Dunn weren't enough. They made no moves to get a starting right tackle or an impact wide receiver, definitely their two weakest spots. What kind of message does that send to 21-year-old, $62 million quarterback Michael Vick?



Green Bay Packers

For a team that boasted about how much they coveted receivers Josh Reed and Andre Davis, giving up a second-round pick to move up eight spots and get Florida State speedster Jevon Walker made absolutely no sense. They could have had him right where they were or taken either one of the aforementioned guys that they supposedly loved.



Some Things Never Change



Minnesota Vikings

Every year it's entirely obvious to everyone but them that they need to draft defense, yet every year we hear offense-rich first-round names like Dante Culpepper, Randy Moss or Michael Bennett. This year's pick: Miami offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. Not that he isn't an amazing football player, but what are the chances McKinnie will lead the team in sacks or interceptions? Their defense has been ranked in the bottom fifth of the league for the past four years, and it looks like that will be the case for a while.