Quarterbacks Get the Signal Late in Game : NFL draft: USC’s Johnson is the first player picked on final day; BYU’s Walsh No. 213--by Bengals.
The NFL draft found a place for nearly everyone Sunday, from a USC quarterback to a French-Canadian defensive back to a postal worker.
By the time Boston College cornerback Michael Reed was made the 249th and final pick of the draft by the Carolina Panthers, there had been some winners, some losers, but mostly a lot of survivors. Like Mark Montreuil, a cornerback from Concordia University in Montreal.
Bobby Beathard, the San Diego Chargers’ innovative general manager, outdid himself using his seventh and final-round selection on Montreuil, a player who can nonetheless come to camp bragging that he was a first-rounder. . . . in the Canadian Football League.
Or like Herb Coleman, defensive end from Trinity College in Illinois.
While his football colleagues were honing their skills several years ago, Coleman was working for the U.S. Postal Service. Now, with any luck, he could be working for the San Francisco 49ers after they made him their seventh-round selection.
Then there was USC quarterback Rob Johnson. After enduring what he called “the worst day of my life” during Saturday’s marathon party to celebrate a draft call that never came, he waited less than five minutes this time.
Johnson awoke at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, moments before he was speaking on the phone with Michael Huyghue, Jacksonville vice president. The Jaguars had made him the first pick of the fourth round and the second-day session.
That book he had read for inspiration just a few hours earlier, the one by Bill Walsh, apparently worked.
“I’m just glad to feel wanted,” said Johnson. “I still don’t know what happened.”
Neither do some of the eight quarterbacks who were picked after him Sunday.
Didn’t this used to be the glamour position? Then why were Chad May of Kansas State, Dave Barr of California and Steve Stenstrom of Stanford also not picked until Sunday’s fourth round?
And after three mediocre talents were taken in rounds five and six--Jay Barker of Alabama, Jerry Colquitt of Tennessee and Craig Whelihan of Pacific--how come Brigham Young’s John Walsh was not taken until the last round?
In a draft filled with surprises, that Walsh was not selected until the Cincinnati Bengals rescued him with their 213th overall pick was the biggest.
Last fall, at least two national draft experts said Walsh would be the No. 1 pick overall. This is why he left school one year early, a decision he now regrets.
“Obviously, you can’t listen to those people,” said Walsh, who was affected by poor speed and agility workouts.
The Bengals, of course, believe that they got a steal. The league is agreed that if nothing else, the brash Walsh can be another Jim McMahon.
“Sometimes you go through all those height-weight-speed things, it hurts you,” said Ken Anderson, the Bengals’ quarterback coach. “But you go beyond that sometimes, and it’s like, either you’re a football player or you’re not.”
And either you had a good weekend, or you didn’t.
Winners and losers from the 60th annual NFL draft:
WINNER: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Using future draft picks, they finally auired their quarterback of the future, Tampa Bay’s Craig Erickson, who should sign by Wednesday’s deadline.
They also strengthened the one area that prevented them from beating the Miami Dolphins and making the playoffs last year--the defensive line--with Florida’s Ellis Johnson as the 15th overall pick.
And remember when Al Davis refused to allow the Raider staff to coach one of the Senior Bowl squads in January because he was preparing to disband that staff? The Colts’ staff replaced the Raiders and, once there, discovered sleeper fullback Zack Crockett of Florida State, whom they took in the third round.
The Colts will make the playoffs this season. This weekend is why.
LOSER: MEL KIPER JR.
This ESPN draft “expert,” one year after publicly sparring with Colt boss Bill Tobin over his selections, fawned over Tobin and the Colts’ picks throughout the weekend.
“Oh no,” one Colt official said, “that means we’re in trouble.”
WINNER: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Their first-round steal of receiver J.J. Stokes was the draft’s defining moment. The next time somebody complains that the defending world champions are doing it with salary-cap voodoo, direct them to Saturday morning. And the first day of the draft last year. And the year before.
The 49ers continue to win the old-fashioned way.
LOSER: DALLAS COWBOYS
Where Jimmy Johnson once attacked these weekends, the current Cowboy braintrust flees from them.
Jerry Jones traded his first pick in the draft not once, but twice. He wound up with such household names as Eric Bjornson, Alundis Brice, Linc Hardin and Oscar Sturgis.
Six Trojans were selected.
On Saturday, tackle Tony Boselli was chosen by Jacksonville in the first round, and linebacker Brian Williams was picked by Green Bay in the third round.
On Sunday, after Johnson, receiver Edward Hervey was taken by Dallas in the fifth round, linebacker Jeff Kopp was taken by Miami in the sixth round, and kicker Cole Ford was taken by Pittsburgh in the seventh round.
Two Bruins were selected.
After Stokes was taken in the first round by San Francisco, and defensive back Carl Greenwood was taken in the fifth round by the New York Jets.
WINNER: MIKE WHITE
This is already the longest honeymoon in Raider history. Not only does Davis agree to subtly alter his offense to fit his new head coach, he drafts prototype Mike White-type players.
Those who think that first-round selection Napoleon Kaufman was the perfect guy for Davis must be forgetting that White was ordering passes out of the backfield when Berkeley was still run by hippies.
Barret Robbins, TCU center taken in the second round, is not considered a great athlete but represents exactly what White likes in an offensive lineman--he’s quick, smart enough to pick up stunts and agile enough to stay on his feet.
Somehow, we think Davis will forgive White for opening remarks at a draft news conference Saturday when he referred to his first-round pick as Napoleon McCallum .
LOSER: BUDDY RYAN
The Arizona coach traded his first-round draft pick and dependable back Ron Moore to the New York Jets for workman-like receiver Rob Moore.
Then he used his second-round pick on a wide receiver, Auburn’s Frank Sanders, who may not even be as good as departed Randal Hill. After probably wasting his third-round pick on a brainy quarterback named Stoney Case of New Mexico, he spent the rest of the draft on defensive backups.
TWO WINNERS: CAROLINA PANTHERS AND JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Who says expansion teams can’t win more than five games?
Thanks to their top front-office talent, both teams drafted well enough to avoid embarrassment next fall.
Each of Carolina’s top four picks--quarterback Kerry Collins, defensive back Tyrone Poole, tackle Blake Brockermeyer and defensive end Shawn King--can play now.
Each of Jacksonville’s top three picks--Boselli, running back James Stewart and tackle Brian DeMarco--are on the same schedule.
* RAIDERS: They gamble with final pick. C9