Teams stick to script with picks to fill needs; Analysis: Jets try desperately to make a trade but fail, while perhaps the Browns would have been better off dealing their No. 1 selection.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When the NFL draft finally began yesterday, the posturing -- and the trading -- finally stopped.

All those rumored draft-day deals? Vanished with the pre-draft rhetoric.

The team that tried the hardest -- and had the most ammunition -- failed to get an elite pick. In the last two days, the New York Jets made runs at the Cincinnati Bengals, Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, teams that held picks 4 through 8.

Rebuffed, the Jets filled their needs as best they could. They got a pass-rushing defensive end in Shaun Ellis at No. 12, an outside linebacker in John Abraham at No. 13, a quarterback in Chad Pennington at No. 18 and a tight end in Anthony Becht at No. 27.

Conspicuous by its absence was a wide receiver to replace departed wide-out Keyshawn Johnson. The players the Jets coveted most were defensive tackle Corey Simon and wide receiver Plaxico Burress.

In a first round that fell remarkably to form, only a few teams -- notably the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans -- went away from need.

In the end, 16 offensive players, 14 defensive players and one kicker went in the opening round. The most targeted position was linebacker with six picks. The defensive line, running back and wide receiver all produced five picks.

Roll call for the first round:

1. Cleveland, DE Courtney Brown, Penn State.

The Browns reached terms with Brown's agent before the draft started, then waited 13 minutes before announcing the pick. Did they want the TV time? Or did they shop the pick? As good as Brown is -- and he'll be a great pro -- he will not single-handedly turn Cleveland around. The Browns missed the boat by not trading down to fill a lengthy list of need positions.

2. Washington, LB LaVar Arrington, Penn State.

The easiest pick in the draft. After Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson, the Redskins finally have a force who can cure their ailing defense. Offensive coordinators will have to game-plan against Arrington's unique skills. He is a gifted pass rusher with the ability to drop into coverage, and he makes everybody else on defense better.

3. Washington, OT Chris Samuels, Alabama.

Samuels solves a lingering problem at left tackle for the Redskins. But remember, quarterback Brad Johnson made 18 starts last season with Andy Heck at left tackle. Will they regret not taking Peter Warrick?

4. Cincinnati, WR Peter Warrick, Florida State.

The Bengals gave quarterback Akili Smith a big-play weapon after resisting overtures from the New York Jets, who would've liked Warrick to offset the loss of Keyshawn Johnson. With Warrick and Darnay Scott, the Bengals have a first-rate receiving tandem.

5. Ravens, RB Jamal Lewis, Tennessee.

The risk factor notwithstanding, the Ravens giddily rolled the dice with Lewis, a junior who had injuries his last two years at Tennessee. The Ravens fielded just one trade-down call while on the clock -- from Green Bay -- and easily passed on the offer. Their priority, once defensive tackle Sam Adams agreed to terms, was a running back who can pound his way through the red zone. If Lewis stays healthy, it was a good risk.

6. Philadelphia, DT Corey Simon, Florida State.

After sending out signals Friday that they preferred wide-out Travis Taylor, the Eagles went for the chalk pick and help on defense. Because coach Andy Reid and Ravens coach Brian Billick are friends, the Eagles were promised the chance to match any offer the Ravens got at No. 5 and snare Simon.

7. Arizona, RB Thomas Jones, Virginia.

The Ravens had concern the Cardinals might choose Lewis over Jones, who has been linked to Arizona for weeks. The Cardinals did their best to keep their objective secret: they didn't bring any of the top running backs in for a pre-draft visit. Then they went for Jones, the consensus choice as the best back available this year.

8. Pittsburgh, WR Plaxico Burress, Michigan State.

Instead of picking a quarterback (Chad Pennington) to replace Kordell Stewart, they got Stewart a bigger target to throw to. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Burress had started to slide on numerous draft boards because of perceived immaturity. But not on the Steelers' board. They brought him in twice for visits this month, and never seriously considered Pennington.

9. Chicago, LB Brian Urlacher, New Mexico.

The Bears made a pre-draft offer for the Ravens' fifth pick -- possibly for Burress -- then selected the versatile Urlacher, a safety in college. With a rare combination of size (6-3, 250) and speed (4.6), he will play strong-side backer for the Bears.

10. Ravens, WR Travis Taylor, Florida.

The Ravens' calculated gamble that Taylor would last till the 10th pick was a bold stroke. Rated as the second-best receiver on most draft boards, Taylor offers size, speed and polish from a passing program. Billick liked his run-after-the-catch ability. Billick's offense is revitalized.

11. New York Giants, RB Ron Dayne, Wisconsin.

The Giants didn't disguise their interest in Dayne. A week ago, coach Jim Fassel talked glowingly of the 5-10, 250-pounder. Dayne is a good fit for the Giants, who prefer power to finesse. He will give them a tackle-to-tackle runner, especially in December when Giants Stadium is a wind tunnel.

12. New York Jets, DE Shaun Ellis, Tennessee.

Armed with four first-round picks, the Jets spent the morning on the phone trying to move up. They made a run at the Ravens' fifth pick, offering Nos. 18 and 27. In the end, they kept the picks and tried to fill needs, starting with Ellis.

13. New York Jets, LB John Abraham, South Carolina.

A linebacker in college, Abraham was projected by most teams as a pass-rushing end because of his speed. Whether he can play the run at this level is the bigger issue. A seeming reach.

14. Green Bay, TE Bubba Franks, Miami.

The legal troubles of veteran Mark Chmura made this the prudent pick, although the Packers originally wanted to go for defense. The Packers' offer of first-, second- and fifth-round picks for the Ravens' fifth spot wasn't enough.

15. Denver, CB Deltha O'Neal, California.

The Broncos stole the cornerback the 49ers coveted with the first of two picks they got from the Ravens. This was a need pick. Dale Carter will miss the 2000 season with a substance-abuse violation and had to be replaced.

16. San Francisco, OLB Julian Peterson, Michigan State.

Pennington had been targeted for the 49ers, but defensive need took priority. Depleted at linebacker -- they have just three under contract -- the 49ers moved to replace outside backer Lee Woodall, a cap casualty.

17. Oakland, K Sebastian Janikowski, Florida State.

Michael Husted and Joe Nedney were brutal as kickers a year ago. But it's an awfully high pick to spend on a kicker, especially one who might be deported.

18. New York Jets, QB Chad Pennington, Marshall.

With a surplus of picks, the Jets had the luxury of tapping Vinny Testaverde's successor.

19. Seattle, RB Shaun Alexander, Alabama.

Initially, the Seahawks wanted to find a replacement for departed receiver Joey Galloway, but couldn't resist the sliding Alexander, who should supplant Ricky Watters.

20. Detroit, OT Stockar McDougle, Oklahoma.

With the top four running backs gone, the Lions went for the second-best tackle instead.

21. Kansas City, WR Sylvester Morris, Jackson State.

Failing to pry running back Corey Dillon loose from Cincinnati after prolonged negotiations, the Chiefs went for the promise of the 6-3 Morris.

22. Seattle, OT Chris McIntosh, Wisconsin.

The Seahawks lost offensive linemen Kevin Glover, Brian Habib and Grant Williams in the off-season, setting up a need pick.

23. Carolina, CB Rashard Anderson, Jackson State.

The Panthers figure to replace Doug Evans at the corner with Anderson's 4.4 speed. The question is how quickly Anderson can make the leap from Jackson State.

24. San Francisco, CB Ahmed Plummer, Ohio State.

The 49ers' haggard secondary surrendered 36 touchdown passes and the most passing yards in the league a year ago. Plummer becomes an automatic starter.

25. Minnesota, DT Chris Hovan, Boston College.

Desperate for secondary help, the Vikings missed out on the top three corners. Hovan solves a need in run defense.

26. Buffalo, DE Erik Flowers, Arizona State.

Flowers made a dramatic rise up the draft board, going from third-round pick to the first after a sparkling private workout. With Bruce Smith gone, the Bills were looking for a pass rusher.

27. New York Jets, TE Anthony Becht, West Virginia.

The Jets twice passed on Bubba Franks, but hope Becht can deliver what veteran Eric Green couldn't.

28. Indianapolis, MLB Rob Morris, BYU.

The Colts wanted Hovan to plug the middle of the defensive line, but settled for Morris to fill a critical need at linebacker. Run defense is a Colts priority in this draft and Morris is a playmaker.

29. Jacksonville, WR R. Jay Soward, USC.

Despite a greater need in the offensive line, the Jaguars went for Soward's 4.4 speed as a successor to third receiver Reggie Barlow. Soward is a big-play threat who was inconsistent in college.

30. Tennessee, OLB Keith Bulluck, Syracuse.

The Titans grabbed a big-play linebacker for their big-play defense, despite greater need in the secondary.

31. St. Louis, RB Trung Canidate, Arizona.

On an offense built around speed, the Rams added more of the same. Canidate's 4.4 speed will give quarterback Kurt Warner another big-play target out of the backfield. Canidate is a perfect complement to Marshall Faulk.

In demand

Linebackers, wide receivers and runnings backs accounted for more than half the first-round picks in the NFL draft yesterday. The first round by position:

Linebackers 6 Off. tackles 3

Receivers 5 Def. tackles 2

Run. backs 5 Tight ends 2

Def. ends 3 Quarterbacks 1

Def. backs 3 Kickers 1

Draft today

What: Rounds 4 through 7

Where: Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York

When: 11 a.m.-approximately 5 p.m.

TV: ESPN, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; ESPN2, 1 p.m.-conclusion

Time limit per team: 5 minutes

Ravens' picks today:

Round 5 -- No. 148

Round 6 -- No. 186, No. 191

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