The expansion Panthers, drafting for the first time, have a lot of holes to fill, so the logical thing to do is take the best player on the board -- running back Ki-Jana Carter -- even though he'll have problems finding running room behind their patchwork line. They'll entertain offers for the pick, but likely will keep it. With their other first-round pick, they figure to go for an offensive lineman to block for Carter.


Expansion teams have to build an offensive line, so the Jaguars can start with USC's Tony Boselli, who's rated the second-best player in the draft. They can put him at left tackle and not worry about the position for the next decade. They may go for a quarterback of the future -- Kordell Stewart or Rob Johnson -- with their other first-round pick.

Houston (2-14)

The Oilers have to decide whether to build for the future with a quarterback or get more immediate help for their shaky defensive line, which has been ravaged by free agency and age. New GM Floyd Reese figures to look for the future with quarterback Steve McNair.

Washington (3-13)

The Redskins need a running back and would love to trade up for Carter. They are desperate for help on the defensive line, too, so Warren Sapp would be a good fit. But they're also thin at wide receiver, and Norv Turner is an offensive coach so they figure to take Michael Westbrook or trade down and take either Joey Galloway or J. J. Stokes.

Cincinnati (4-12)

The Bengals are another team that needs a running back and would like to trade up for Carter. If they can't do that, they could trade down and get Tyrone Wheatley or Rashaan Salaam. If they can't trade, they may have to take a defensive lineman, even though they selected Dan Wilkinson last year, because Kevin Carter and Warren Sapp appear to be the best players at this point.

St. Louis (4-12)

In their new home, the Rams could use help virtually everywhere but at running back, where they're set with Jerome Bettis. If Sapp falls this far, the Rams will grab him and move Sean Gilbert outside to give them the makings of a strong defensive line.

Tampa Bay (6-10)

The Bucs were 26th against the rush last year so they could use a defensive lineman to stop the run. Mike Mamula, who shot up the charts during the off-season on the basis of his workouts, could be their pick although he may be a bit of a reach this high.

Seattle (6-10)

New coach Dennis Erickson wants to improve a passing game that was 26th last year even though highly touted Rick Mirer was doing the throwing. That means he's going to take a receiver to give Mirer a first-class target. Galloway figures to be the logical choice if Westbrook is gone. This is one of the most automatic selections in the draft.

New York Jets (6-10)

Rich Kotite didn't distinguish himself in the draft in Philly, but he's in charge because GM Dick Steinberg is recovering from stomach cancer. The Jets were 21st against the rush last year so Kotite figures to go for a defensive lineman. Luther Elliss could be his choice.

Atlanta (7-9)

The Falcons swapped first-round picks with the Browns to get Eric Metcalf. They figured that Metcalf was more than worth 16 spots in the draft. In the 26th spot, they figure to go for a linebacker because Clay Matthews is 39 and can't last much longer. They'll grab Hugh Douglas if he drops that far.

Denver (7-9)

The Broncos, who gave up their first-round pick to the Falcons for Mike Pritchard, don't have a selection until the fourth round. To compensate for the lack of draft picks, the Broncos signed 10 free agents, including former Redskins guard Mark Schlereth. In Denver, it'll be the usual story. They'll go as far as John Elway's arm can carry them.

Philadelphia (7-9)

Jeff Lurie is a one-time draftnik who has real input now. As the owner of the team, he's likely to be very involved in the draft. As every draftnik knows, the Eagles need a lot of help on defense and are likely to pick the best defensive player left on the board. That's why defensive lineman Elliss would be a good fit.

New Orleans (7-9)

The Saints are in a rebuilding mold and need help on defense, but the best of the defensive prospects could be gone at this point. If they don't decide to trade down, they could strengthen their offensive line by taking Reuben Brown.

Buffalo (7-9)

The Bills need help at offensive tackle after losing Will Wohlford and Howard Ballard to free agency the last two years. That

makes Korey Stringer of Ohio State the logical pick. He's turned off some teams by putting on too much weight in the off-season, but the Bills think they can get him in top shape.

Indianapolis (8-8)

The Colts need a tight end, a defensive end, a safety, an offensive lineman and a quarterback. If you watch the draft on ESPN, you have to hope that quarterback Kerry Collins drops this far. If he does and the Colts bypass him, Mel Kiper and Bill Tobin might have another public spat. But if tight end Kyle Brady is gone, Tobin might have to grit his teeth and take a quarterback.

Arizona (8-8)

Buddy Ryan,who works in strange and mysterious ways, dumped his passing game last year. He gave away quarterback Steve Beuerlein in the expansion draft and got rid of his three top receivers -- Randal Hill, Ricky Proehl and Gary Clark. That means he needs a quarterback and some receivers. If Collins doesn't fall this far, Stokes would be the logical pick despite his slow time in the 40.

New York Giants (9-7)

The Giants always seem to need a speed receiver, but the best ones are likely to be gone. They also could use a running back, despite the addition of Herschel Walker, because Rodney Hampton is taking a pounding and David Meggett is gone. If both Wheatley and Salaam fall this far, they have to decide whether to gamble that Wheatley can stay healthy.

Los Angeles Raiders (9-7)

The Raiders need to bolster their offensive line and could use a big running back. If Salaam falls this far, the Raiders figure to take him. After all, Al Davis likes to collect Heisman Trophy winners.

Kansas City (9-7)

The Chiefs could use another Joe Montana, but a Montana comes along only once every decade or so. They'll have to do with Steve Bono and look for linemen on both sides of the ball. Derrick Alexander could be the best one left at this point.

Detroit (9-7)

The Lions have to upgrade their defense after being last in the league on stopping teams on third down last year and 24th overall on defense. Teams found out the best way to stop Barry Sanders was to keep him off the field. The Lions can use the best defensive player left on the board. He could be cornerback Bobby Taylor.

Chicago (9-7)

The Bears have a lot of holes for a team that made the playoffs last year. After finishing 23rd on offense last year, they need a running back who can control the ball. They're intrigued by Terrell Fletcher of Wisconsin, who seems a reach at this point, but they might gamble on him.

Green Bay (9-7)

The Packers, who have lost nine free agents and haven't signed any, appear to be going backward. They need a wide receiver to replace Sterling Sharpe, but the best ones will be gone. Their next priority is a dependable running back and they could decide to take James Stewart of Tennessee.

New England (10-6)

Even with the addition of David Meggett, coach Bill Parcells still would like to add an every-down running back who can catch Drew Bledsoe's passes out of the backfield. But if the best ones are gone, he could switch to linebacker Mark Fields. Parcells is still a defensive coach at heart.

Minnesota (10-6)

The Vikings figure to have a big draft because they're the only team besides the expansion clubs with two first-round draft picks. They have this pick and they got the 11th pick in the draft, which originally belonged to Denver, from Atlanta. With their first choice, they figure to go for a defensive lineman after losing Henry Thomas in free agency. With their own pick, they're likely to go for a quarterback of the future because Warren Moon is 38.

Miami (10-6)

The Dolphins always can use help in the offensive line to keep Dan Marino healthy. Since it's a deep position, they're likely to take the best offensive lineman left on the board.

Cleveland (11-5)

The Browns couldn't afford Eric Metcalf's salary and virtually gave him away to Atlanta when they swapped first-round picks with the Falcons. That gave them the 10th pick and since they need a tight end, they may grab Kyle Brady. They also need a quarterback because Vinny Testaverde isn't the answer and could take Kerry Collins.

Pittsburgh (12-4)

The Steelers' top need is a tight end to replace Eric Green, who went to Miami as a free agent, and it just happens this is a good year for tight ends. Their obvious choice, if he lasts this far, is Mark Bruener although teams this low in the round often don't make the obvious choice.

Dallas (12-4)

The big question for the Cowboys is whether Barry Switzer will be yawning again in the draft room. Owner Jerry Jones, who never met a camera he didn't like, always lets the ESPN cameras into his draft room so he can play the role of the busy executive, but Switzer didn't act too interested last year. This year, Jones says he wants to trade out of the first round to save money. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are starting to be hurt by free agency and could use depth in the secondary, offensive line, receiver and running back.

San Diego (11-5)

It's no surprise it took Bobby Beathard just five years to build a Super Bowl team. He's a draft maestro. Noted for trading down, he could trade up this year as he looks for help on defense after the 49ers shredded the Chargers in the Super Bowl. Beathard always keeps the draft interesting.

San Francisco (13-3)

The Super Bowl champions could use a pass rusher and a running back. They were the big winners on draft day last year -- selecting two key starters (Bryant Young and William Floyd) on the first round. They don't have two first-rounders this year, but -- could try to trade up.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad