Donahue's draft takes

<P>In a recent conversation, Niners general manager Terry Donahue discussed issues regarding the team's approach to the NFL draft....</P>

 On the team's mindset entering the 2002 draft: "I think over the course of the years we really improved and tweaked our draft system, if you will. And what is markedly different (now) is (in recent years) almost everyone that we were talking about we were projecting as a starter. Now we've got so many starters back on our team that now the questions are much more directed to, 'How can this guy help our team?' The whole mindset of the draft is a great deal different than the last two years."

 On how his football background helps in draft preparation: "That is my background and that's been my life - football players and coaches and dealing with coaches and athletes. But when you make a decision in pro football, you have more data available than in college. You have to project in pro football some, but when you're in college football, you project even more. In college, you don't get to work guys out and give them mental tests and that kind of stuff. There's a whole lot more projecting that goes on at the collegiate level. That's a curse and a blessing. The curse is you are projecting more and you don't have more of a life raft to hold onto. At the pro level, you have so much data and you have to weigh it."

 On the pressure to succeed in this year's draft: "There's always pressure. All of us, we want to pick players that can help us and last a long time in the organization. There's always the pressure to do that. We've been preparing for this draft since last July. We're going to have a good draft. We're going to hit the target. It's worked in the past and it's going to work again."

 On the possibility of picking another defensive end: "If we pick a defense end in this draft, he's going to be going against Sean Moran, John Engelberger, Chike Okeafor, Andre Carter and Menson Holloway just to make the team. But we could pick another one. When we picked Engelberger two years ago, he didn't have those guys in front of him. The reality is, this team is going to be tougher to make."

 On comparisons to the 1999 draft, his first with the team: "This draft reminds of the first draft I participated in, in that we didn't have a third-round pick. It makes it a challenge. Not having a third-round pick is frustrating. When we're in our meetings right now, there's a number of players that fall between our second pick and fourth pick. (Trading for a third-round pick) is something that we're talking about, how to get into that pool."

 On him having the final say in this year's draft: "A lot's been made over the last several years about final say and who ultimately pulls the trigger. And there's no question that, previous to this draft, ultimately Bill (Walsh) had the authority of the final say. But the reality of it is Bill didn't tell us who to draft. There were certainly situations that he felt stronger about players than anyone in the room. But the truth is the drafts, in the years that I've been here, they have been a collective effort by everybody. We get to a final end and we ultimately get to a decision. Now, at the end of the day, if there's a tremendous disagreement, I make that call. But I don't think that the last three years that they've not been my drafts and this year is my draft."

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