Chargers' Beathard Stays True to His Small Schools in Draft

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Chicago Bears landed Darnell Autry and the New Orleans Saints picked up Danny Wuerffel, the Heisman Trophy winner, while California quarterback Pat Barnes went to Kansas City and Colorado quarterback Koy Detmer joined his brother, Ty, in Philadelphia.

Day Two of the NFL draft, and while some well-known athletes were still available for the taking, if you were pleased to see Tampa Bay take Al Harris, a safety from Texas A&M; Kingsville, you need a life.

In San Diego, meanwhile, if you are a fervent follower of the Chargers, you must have blind faith in General Manager Bobby Beathard.

If eligible this year, the Chargers will be clear favorites to walk off with the NCAA Division I-AA title, but as far as competing in the AFC West Division, only if Beathard knows what he's doing.

After giving his No. 1 pick to Tampa Bay last year, Beathard made the Chargers' first choice in Round 2 Saturday and took an ex-high school cheerleader in Freddie Jones, who also reportedly played tight end for North Carolina.

After that he took a linebacker from North Carolina A&T;, a tackle from South Carolina State, a running back from South Carolina State, a defensive back from Portland State, a linebacker from North Carolina A&T;, a quarterback from Sacramento State and a tackle from Air Force who didn't play football last year and must sit out this year to fulfill his military obligation.

Why Air Force and not Carolina Something?

"I was born in Anderson, S.C.," said Air Force's Dan Palmer, who might be flying the Charger team plane before playing in a uniform.

Beathard has helped take the Dolphins, the Redskins and the Chargers to the Super Bowl, but on days like this, one wonders if he hasn't been plunked on the head while surfing.

He traded away next year's No. 3 and 4 picks Sunday to make his raid on the Carolinas. South Carolina State finished 4-6 and North Carolina A&T; 8-3 last year and presumably Beathard now has all their good players.

As for Palmer, he will use 30 days of leave to participate in the Chargers' training camp before returning to the Air Force for another year of duty. He hasn't played in a football game since the Copper Bowl following the 1995 season, and has been working as an assistant football coach at the Air Force Prep School.

"With the Falcons, he was a backup throughout the majority of his stay, missing most of the '94 season with a shoulder injury," according to Mel Kiper's 1997 Draft Report.

But according to Beathard, "Palmer is really a great prospect; he's probably the most athletic of the linemen in the draft and a guy who can play tackle or guard. He's a very gifted athlete."

Not so gifted, of course, that 30 teams, including the Chargers, didn't pass on him for the first five rounds of the draft.

Further details on the other Charger draft picks would be offered here, but in the more than 200 biographies provided by the NFL in anticipation of players being selected, most of Beathard's selections were not included.

"Just means our scouts do a better job than the NFL's," said a Beathard disciple in keeping the faith.

As for everyone else, before a down has been played, a draft assessment from top to bottom:

1. MIAMI: Picking players is what these two days are all about, so how come Jimmy Johnson is the only one who understands that? Fourteen more picks gives Johnson 26 in two years, allowing him to manage his salary cap, conduct a competitive training camp and replace most of Shula's cronies. He did the same thing in Dallas, only Jerry Jones took the credit.

Selections: 1. Yatil Green, wr, Miami (15); 2. Sam Madison, db, Louisville (44); 3. Jason Taylor, de, Akron (73); 3. Derrick Rodgers, lb, Arizona State (92); 3. Ronnie Ward, lb, Kansas (93); 3. Brent Smith, t, Mississippi State (96); 4. Jerome Daniels, t, Northeastern (121); 5. Barron Tanner, dt, Oklahoma (149); 5. Nicholas Lopez, de, Texas Southern (157); 6. John Fiala, lb, Washington (166); 6. Brian Manning, wr, Stanford (170); 6. Mike Crawford, lb, Nevada (173); 6. Ed Perry, te, James Madison (177); 7. Hudhaifa Ismaeli, db, Northwestern (203).

2. BUFFALO: The Bills, directed by one of the game's better talent scouts in General Manager John Butler, took an Eddie George-like back in Houston's Antowain Smith to pressure Thurman Thomas, and then still came up with sure-fire starters on the offensive and defensive lines.

Selections: 1. Antowain Smith, rb, Houston (23); 2. Marcellus Wiley, de, Columbia (52); 4. Jamie Nails, t, Florida A&M; (120); 5. Sean Woodson, db, Jackson State (153); 6. Marcus Spriggs, t, Houston (185); 7. Pat Fitzgerald, te, Texas (226).

3. NEW YORK JETS: The Jets spent $80 million in free agency to improve overnight last year and ended up turning out the lights on Rich Kotite. The Jets lost four picks to get Parcells, but he turned the team's remaining six picks into 10 selections through trades, including defensive tackle Rick Terry to compensate for passing on Darrell Russell.

Selections: 1. James Farrior, lb, Virginia (8); 2. Rick Terry, dt, North Carolina (31); 3. Dedric Ward, wr, Northern Iowa (88); 4. Terry Day, de, Mississippi State (102); 4. Leon Johnson, rb, North Carolina (104); 5. Lamont Burns, g, E. Carolina (131); 5. Raymond Austin, db, Tennessee (145); 6. Tim Scharf, lb, Northwestern (164); 6. Chuck Clements, qb, Houston (191); 7. Steve Rosga, db, Colorado (202); 7. Jason Ferguson, dt, Georgia (229).

4. TAMPA BAY: They locked onto an explosive running back, a wide receiver who scores touchdowns, one of the best available tackles and a guard, which will all go to waste unless quarterback Trent Dilfer, who has 37 interceptions in the past two years, makes a dramatic turnaround.

Selections: 1. Warrick Dunn, rb, Florida State (12); 1. Reidel Anthony, wr, Florida (16); 2. Jerry Wunsch, t, Wisconsin (37); 3. Frank Middleton, g, Arizona (63); 3. Ronde Barber, db, Virginia (66); 4. Alshermond Singleton, lb, Temple (128); 5. Patrick Hape, te, Alabama (137); 6. Al Harris, db, Texas A&M; Kingsville (169); 6. Nigea Carter, wr, Michigan State (197); 7. Anthony DeGrate, dt, Stephen F. Austin (209).

5. SEATTLE: Turned selections 11 and 12 in the first round into picks Nos. 3 and 6 and waltzed off with two of the best players available, two sure-fire starters and possibly two future Pro Bowlers.

Selections: 1. Shawn Springs, cb, Ohio State (3); 1. Walter Jones, t, Florida State (6); 5. Eric Stokes, db, Nebraska (142); 6. Itula Mili, te, BYU (174); 7. Carlos Jones, db, Miami (211).

6. CAROLINA: A solid example of filling needs with a little luck and lots of homework. The Panthers needed a deep threat to stretch the defense, and should have had no chance to nab such speed at No. 27, but Colorado's Rae Carruth fell their way. They replaced classy safety Brett Maxie with a similar sort in Nebraska safety Mike Minter.

Selections: 1. Rae Carruth, wr, Colorado (27); 2. Mike Minter, db, Nebraska (56); Kinnon Tatum, lb, Notre Dame (87); 4. Tarek Saleh, lb, Wisconsin (122); 6. Matt Finkes, de, Ohio State (189); 7. Kris Mangum, te, Mississippi (228).

7. NEW ORLEANS: The first pick was not only dull and a reach, but there's something admirable about a man of conviction. Mike Ditka's going to do it his way as evidenced by the fourth-round selection of Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who some thought might not get drafted. The Saints may be no better, but Ditka will have his guys.

Selections: 1. Chris Naeole, g, Colorado (10); 2. Rob Kelly, db, Ohio State (33); 2. Jared Tomich, de, Nebraska (39); 3. Troy Davis, rb, Iowa State (62); 4. Danny Wuerffel, qb, Florida (99); 4. Keith Poole, wr, Arizona State (116); 6, Nicky Savoie, te, LSU (165).

8. BALTIMORE: The Ravens were in a fix. They have no money, but they are trying to sell personal seat licenses for their new stadium to open next year, and they had the No. 30 defense. Maybe it was an accident, but they picked up two of the draft's top defenders, and then later added the best available inside linebacker.

Selections: 1. Peter Boulware, de, Florida State (4); 2. Jamie Sharper, lb, Virginia (34); 2. Kim Herring, db, Penn State (58); 3. Jay Graham, rb, Tennessee (64); 4. Tyrus McCloud, lb, Louisville (118); 5. Jeff Mitchell, c, Florida (134); 6. Steve Lee, rb, Indiana (167); 6. Cornell Brown, lb, Virginia Tech (194); 7. Chris Ward, de, Kentucky (205); 7. Wally Richardson, qb, Penn State (234); 7. Ralph Staten, db, Alabama (236); 7. Leland Taylor, dt, Louisville (238).

9. KANSAS CITY: In an innovative move sure to shock Middle America, the Chiefs have decided to score. Kansas City has given quarterback Elvis Grbac a pass-catching tight end and possession receiver. And if Grbac turns out to be Steve Bono, the Chiefs will turn their West Coast offense over to Cal quarterback Pat Barnes.

Selections: Tony Gonzalez, te, California (13); 2. Kevin Lockett, wr, Kansas State (47); 4. Pat Barnes, qb, California (110); 5. June Henley, rb, Kansas (163); 6. Isaac Byrd, wr, Kansas (195); 7, Nathan Parks, t, Stanford (214).

10. SAN FRANCISCO: The 49ers' success for so long has revolved around their quarterback, and if they strike it rich with Virginia Tech's Jim Druckenmiller, like Miami did with Dan Marino in 1983, they can point to 25 teams who passed on him.

Selections: 1., Jim Druckenmiller, qb, Virginia Tech (26); 2. Marc Edwards, fb, Notre Dame (55); 3. Greg Clark, te, Stanford (77).

11. JACKSONVILLE: When you have Mark Brunell rocking the scoreboard, go get some defense, which is what the Jaguars did with their initial four picks. Fifth-round pick, tight end Damon Jones, makes Brunell that much more dangerous.

Selections: 1. Renaldo Wynn, dt, Notre Dame (21); 2. Mike Logan, db, West Virginia (50); 3. James Hamilton, lb, North Carolina (79); 4. Seth Payne, dt, Cornell (114); 5. Damon Jones, te, Southern Illinois (147); 6. Daimon Shelton, rb, CS Sacramento (184); 7. Jon Hesse, lb, Nebraska (221).

12. DALLAS: You make Troy Aikman happy, you have a chance to win. The Cowboys gave Aikman LSU tight end David LeFleur, and then Dallas went after a Jimmy Johnson-like linebacker in Appalachian State's Dexter Coakley.

Selections: 1. David LaFleur, te, LSU (22); 3. Dexter Coakley, lb, Appalachian State (65); 3. Steve Scifres, t, Wyoming (83); 3. Kenny Wheaton, db, Oregon (94); 4. Antonio Anderson, dt, Syracuse (101); 4. Macey Brooks, wr, James Madison (127); 4. Nicky Sualua, rb, Ohio State (129); 6. Lee Vaughn, db, Wyoming (187); 7. Omar Stoutmire, db, Fresno State (224).

13. GREEN BAY: The Packers needed a defensive end and a linebacker, so they took a tackle, safety and kicker. You can do that when you win a Super Bowl, and besides, the tackle, safety and kicker are all stand-out performers in their own right.

Selections: 1. Ross Verba, t, Iowa (30); 2. Darren Sharper, db, William & Mary (60); 3. Brett Conway, pk, Penn State (90); 4. Jermaine Smith, dt, Georgia (126); 5. Anthony Hicks, lb, Arkansas (160); 7. Chris Miller, wr, USC (213); 7. Jerald Sowell, rb, Tulane (231); 7. Ronnie McAda, qb, Army (240).

14. ARIZONA: The Cardinals improved by taking a pair of cornerbacks to fill a need, but they will sell tickets because they took Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer, who will sit on the bench.

Selections: 1. Tom Knight, db, Iowa (9); 2. Jake Plummer, qb, Arizona State (42); 3. Ty Howard, db, Ohio State (84); 4. Chris Dishman, g, Nebraska (106); 5. Chad Carpenter, wr, Washington State (139); 6. Rod Brown, rb, North Carolina State (175); 6. Tony McCombs, lb, Eastern Kentucky (188); 7. Mark Smith, de, Auburn (212).

15. OAKLAND: The Raiders might have boxed themselves in, forcing the pick of Darrell Russell, but they recovered with a pair of offensive tackles and then traded up for a pounding running back.

Selections: 1. Darrell Russell, dt, USC (2); 3. Adam Treu, g, Nebraska (72); 3. Tim Kohn, t, Iowa State (85); 4. Chad Levitt, rb, Cornell (123); 6. Calvin Brach, rb, Colorado State (172); 6. Grady Jackson, de, Knoxville (193).

16. INDIANAPOLIS: The Colts go as quarterback Jim Harbaugh goes, so the priority is to keep him healthy, thus the first two picks of giant blockers.

Selections: 1. Tarik Glenn, t, California (19); 2. Adam Meadows, t, Georgia (48); 3. Bert Berry, lb, Notre Dame (86); 4. Delmonico Montgomery, db, Houston (117); 5. Nate Jacquet, wr, San Diego State (150); 5. Carl Powell, de, Louisville (156); 6. Scott Von Der Ahe, lb, Arizona State (182); 7. Clarence Thompson, db, Knoxville (219).

17. NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots needed a cornerback, so they took a cornerback. Don't know why they took a tight end and a running back so early, but they needed a guard and started second-day proceedings with a guard.

Selections: 1. Chris Canty, db, Kansas State (29); 2. Brandon Mitchell, dt, Texas A&M; (59); 3. Sedrick Shaw, rb, Iowa (61); 3. Chris Carter, db, Texas (89); 4. Damon Denson, g, Michigan (97); 4. Ed Ellis, t, Buffalo (125); 5. Vernon Crawford, lb, Florida State (159); 6. Tony Gaiter, wr, Miami (192); 7. Scott Rehberg, t, Central Michigan (230).

18. WASHINGTON: The Redskins were nothing more than a welcome mat on defense last season, so they beefed up their front with a defensive end and a pair of linebackers. They might also want to sign Sean Gilbert and Darrell Green.

Selections: 1. Kenard Lang, de, Miami (17); 2. Greg Jones, lb, Colorado (51); 3. Derek Smith, lb, Arizona State (80); 4. Albert Connell, wr, Texas A&M; (115); 5. Jamel Williams, db, Nebraska (132); 5. Keith Thibodeaux, db, NW Louisiana (140); 5. Twan Russell, lb, Miami (148); 5. Brad Badger, g, Stanford (162).

19. HOUSTON: Lots of bodies, but no reason for locals to keep the team from moving to Nashville. First-round maneuvering cost them a better player, and Tennessee wide receiver Joey Kent does not figure to be Steve McNair's prime target.

Selections: 1. Kenny Holmes, de, Miami (18); 2. Joey Kent, wr, Tennessee (46); 3. Denard Walker, db, LSU (75); 3. Scott Sanderson, t, Washington State (81); 4. Derrick Mason, wr, Michigan State (98); 4. Pratt Lyons, de, Troy State (107); 5. George McCullough, db, Baylor (143); 6. Dennis Stallings, lb, Illinois (181); 7. Armon Williams, db, Arizona (216).

20. PITTSBURGH: Two of their top five picks hail from San Diego State, which suggests the Steelers' scouts were more interested in spending their winters out west.

Selections: 1. Chad Scott, db, Maryland (24); 2. Will Blackwell, wr, San Diego State (53); 3. Paul Wiggins, t, Oregon (82); 3. Mike Vrabel, de, Ohio State (91); 5. George Jones, rb, San Diego State (154); 6. Daryl Porter, db, Boston College (186); 6. Rod Manuel, de, Oklahoma (199); 7. Michael Adams, wr, Texas (223).

21. DENVER: The Broncos appeared disinterested in the draft after expending themselves in free agency. Clemson defensive end Trevor Pryce had fallen on most draft boards and Denver is already overloaded there. And when you start drafting slow safeties in the fourth round, it's time to join John Elway golfing.

1. Trevor Pryce, dt, Clemson (28); 3. Dan Neil, c, Texas (67); 4. Corey Gilliard, db, Ball State (124).

22. ATLANTA: The Falcons are used to losing games, but are now losing fans and did nothing to recapture their interest, moving down from the third pick in Round 1 to No. 11 and taking a Nebraska cornerback. Texas Tech running back Byron Hanspard has sizzle, but the way Dan Reeves reins in an offense, he might go unnoticed.

Selections: 1. Michael Booker, db, Nebraska (11); 2. Nathan Davis, de, Indiana (32); 2. Byron Hanspard, rb, Texas Tech (41); 3. O.J. Santiago, te, Kent (70); 4. Henri Crockett, lb, Florida State (100); 5. Marcus Wimberly, db, Miami (133); 6. Calvin Collins, c, Texas A&M; (180); 7. Tony Graziani, qb, Oregon (204); 7. Chris Bayne, db, Fresno State (222).

23. ST. LOUIS: The Rams traded three picks to get a roommate for Lawrence Phillips, TCU center Ryan Tucker, who faces 20 years in jail if convicted on an assault charge with a deadly weapon after being involved in a fight. Coach Dick Vermeil: "He won the fight, and that's the positive."

Selections: 1. Orlando Pace, t, Ohio State (1); 2. Dexter McCleon, db, Clemson (40); 4. Ryan Tucker, c, TCU (112); 5. Taje Allen, db, Texas (158); 6. Muadianvita Kazadi, lb, Tulsa (179); 7, Cedric White, de, North Carolina A&T; (215).

24. MINNESOTA: Alabama linebacker Dwayne Rudd, projected to go earlier, begged the Vikings to take him at No. 20. Minnesota continued to react like a team hell-bent on helping wretched souls, improving its chances for success with more defensive selections despite needing a receiver to help budding quarterback Brad Johnson.

Selections: 1. Dwayne Rudd, lb, Alabama (20); 2. Torrian Gray, db, Virginia Tech (49); 3. Stalin Colinet, de, Boston College (78); 4. Antonio Banks, db, Virginia Tech (113); 5. Tony Williams, dt, Memphis (151); 6. Robert Tate, wr, Cincinnati (183); 7. Artie Ulmer, lb, Valdosta State (220); 7. Matthew Hatchette, wr, Langston (235).

25. CHICAGO: The Cubs and Sox are losers, the Bulls fall to the Knicks and the Bears have no first-round pick following a 7-9 campaign. USC tight end John Allred might find a full-time job here, but the selection of Darnell Autry is most intriguing.

2. John Allred, te, USC (38); 3. Bob Sapp, g, Washington (69); 4. Darnell Autry, rb, Northwestern (105); 4. Marcus Robinson, wr, South Carolina (108); 5. Van Hiles, db, Kentucky (141); 6. Shawn Swayda, de, Arizona State (196); 6. Richard Hogans, lb, Memphis (200); 6. Ricky Parker, db, San Diego State (201); 7. Mike Miano, dt, Southwest Missouri State (210); 7, Marvin Thomas, de, Memphis (233).

26. DETROIT: Bobby Ross left San Diego because he wanted to play general manager at this time of year. So instead of being aggressive and moving up for Shawn Springs, he stays planted and takes Bryant Westbrook, then fails to fill the team's most pressing need at linebacker until the fourth round.

Selections: 1. Bryant Westbrook, db, Texas (5); 2. Juan Roque, g, Arizona State (35); 2. Kevin Abrams, db, Syracuse (54); 4. Matt Russell, lb, Colorado (130); 5. Pete Chryplewicz, te, Notre Dame (135); 5. Duane Ashman, de, Virginia (161); 6. Tony Ramirez, t, Northern Colorado (168); 7. Terry Battle, rb, Arizona State (206); 7. Marcus Harris, wr, Wyoming (232); 7. Richard Jordan, lb, Missouri Southern (239).

27. PHILADELPHIA: They had to admit they were open to criticism with their first-round pick, and then to demonstrate it was no fluke, they goofed in Round 2 with a 6-foot inside linebacker who won't be able to see over the head of their 6-foot-7 first-round pick.

Selections: 1. Jon Harris, de, Virginia (25); 2. James Darling, lb, Washington State (57); 3. Duce Staley, rb, South Carolina (71); 4. Damien Robinson, db, Iowa (119); 5. Ndukwe Kalu, de, Rice (152); 5. Luther Broughton, te, Furman (155); 6, Antwuan Wyatt, wr, Bethune-Cookman (190); 6. Edward Jasper, dt, Texas A&M; (198); 7. Koy Detmer, qb, Colorado (207); 7. Byron Capers, db, Florida State (225); 7. Deauntae Brown, db, Central State, Ohio (227).

28. NEW YORK GIANTS: Based on track record, they guessed wrong once again with their choice of wide receivers, and why take a small, slow running back so high to support Tyrone Wheatley and Rodney Hampton? To cover themselves they took a punter in the third round.

Selections: 1. Ike Hilliard, wr, Florida (7); 2. Tiki Barber, rb, Virginia (36); 3. Ryan Phillips, lb, Idaho (68); 3. Brad Maynard, p, Ball State (95); 4. Pete Monty, lb, Wisconsin (103); 5. Sam Garnes, db, Cincinnati (136); 6. Mike Cherry, qb, Murray State (171); 7. Matt Keneley, dt, USC (208).

29. CINCINNATI: Running back Corey Dillon had a series of juvenile problems detailed by a Washington newspaper and safety Tremain Mack has had several alcohol-related incidents. Coach Bruce Coslet: "Character is just another factor to consider."

Selections: 1. Reinard Wilson, lb, Florida State (14); 2. Corey Dillon, rb, Washington (43); 3. Rod Payne, c, Michigan (76); 4. Tremain Mack, db, Miami (111); 5. Andre Purvis, dt, North Carolina (144); 6. Canute Curtis, lb, West Virginia (176); 7. William Carr, dt, Michigan (217).

30. SAN DIEGO: Are Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan off-limits to the Chargers? Is there some kind of Division I-AA award given to the general manager who spends the most time in their member institutions? Beathard's only lament: He had his sights set on a running back who went to Jacksonville in Round 6--you guessed it--Sacramento State's Daimon Shelton. "He looks to us like one of the real outstanding backs in this whole draft," said Beathard, and try as he might, it's just impossible to get every small-school hero.

Selections: 2. Freddie Jones, te, North Carolina (45); 3. Michael Hamilton, lb, North Carolina A&T; (74); 4. Raleigh Roundtree, t, South Carolina State (109); 5. Kenny Bynum, rb, South Carolina St. (138); 5. Paul Bradford, db, Portland St. (146); 6. Daniel Palmer, c, Air Force (178); 7. Toran James, lb, North Carolina A&T; (218); 7. Tony Corbin, qb, CS Sacramento (237).

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