Green Bay's NFC North brethren had a hand in Saturday's hijinks. The Bears, who had already traded down from No. 4 to the Jets' 13 and 22nd spots, swapped again. Chicago switched with New England at No. 14 and finally took DE Michael Haynes of Penn State. New England used their boost to select DT Ty Warren of Texas A&M.
Then they entered the QB derby just as predicted with their lesser pick. With the 22nd selection, they grabbed Florida's Rex Grossman.
As we mentioned, Minnesota caused quite a stir by passing on their No. 7 pick. They were still working the phones as time expired, which set off a rush to the podium for the next few teams.
"If you have the seventh pick, you have to know seven players you'd take. You have to know. You can't pass," said ESPN commentator and former Vikings coach Dennis Green.
Minnesota wasn't going to take Bryon Leftwich, so when Jacksonville jumped to the podium to get the Marshall QB, it was no big deal. Carolina beat the Vikes to the mic next, and selected tackle Jordan Gross. Baltimore tried to sprint past the Vikings next, but Minnesota won the foot race. Minnesota maintains that they got the player they wanted anyway DT Kevin Williams of Oklahoma State, and the spots they missed back that up. But if that's case, why not pick him with the original slot and elimiate the risk (and nerves) Or if you are going to drop back a few slots, why not make a trade and pick up a late-round pick, ala the Bears? Some theories included the difference in expected salary or even just confusion, but the Vikings aren't telling. Baltimore, who was originally trying to leverage with Minnesota to get Leftwich, ended up with DE Terrell Suggs and QB Kyle Boller in place of Leftwich, so they lost the footrace but may have won the marathon.
Let's go way off the board for some excitement late in the first round:
Miami's Willis McGahee was the first running back chosen in the 2003 draft -- that statement could have been made with or without McGahee's devastating injury. Due to his knee injury and ensuing surgery and rehab, the RB pick came at No. 23 from the Buffalo Bills, using their "gift" pick received from Atlanta for Peerless Price. The unexpected first-round news was met with a rush of emotion from the McGahee compound, and mixed reviews from pundits who felt Buffalo needed to address other needs. Probably the best player in the draft before his injury, McGahee probably won't play in '03 and finds himself in an organization that has the fortitude and personnel to bring him along.
None of the draft experts on TV or radio Saturday thought McGahee would go in the first round, especially not to a team with a single pick. Ironically, Buffalo seemed to have brushed off any consideration of McGahee and chose not to attend his individual workouts:
"Someone is going to take a chance with him. I'd speculate that way. Probably a team with a double pick (in the first round)," said Bills assistant GM Tom Modrak a couple weeks before the draft.
The Jets' selection of Kentucky DT DeWayne Robertson in their newly-acquired No. 4 spot made quite a splash. The last time a DT was selected in the first round was 2000, but this year saw five go in the first 13 picks.... Robertson was the first Kentucky player selected in the first round since 1978.