The NFL draft is supposed to help the have-nots more than it helps the haves.
It hasn't always worked that way in the past and it certainly won't this year. What we have for the first round is Raghib Ismail and 26 guys named Antone and Eric and Todd.In fact, the name of the draft is "question mark" - because so many underclassmen came out last year, most of the top 10 guys this year wouldn't have made last year's top 15.
So if, like New England, you're 1-15 and leaking everywhere, do you want a guy who'll return punts and kickoffs but may not be durable enough to play offense full time? No, you trade the pick to Dallas for draft picks in value plus players.
What does Dallas do?
"Anything is possible with the Cowboys," says coach Jimmy Johnson.
Others see the same thing.
"There are a lot of guys who are all about the same," says Bill Polian, general manager of the Bills, who draft 26th in the first round. "So it's probably a good year to draft where we do. Someone will trickle down."
But someone has to draft first.
So . . . away we go.
1, DALLAS - As noted above, if you're 1-15 and leak everywhere, do you want a kick returner? If you're Jerry Jones and want people in the seats, you take RAGHIB ISMAIL, kr-wr, Notre Dame.
2, CLEVELAND - Bill Belichick learned a lot from Bill Parcells, who would never go for offense when anyone who could play defense was around. With the offensive line problems, Charles McCrae or Antone Davis of Tennessee are temptations but Belichick emulates his mentor and takes TODD LYGHT, cb, Notre Dame.
3, ATLANTA - Jerry Glanville has cornerback problems and wants Lyght. But if Lyght's in Cleveland, he'll take the kind of hitter he likes, MIKE CROEL, lb, Nebraska to try and do what Aundray Bruce hasn't done.
4, DENVER - Does Dan Reeves, who usually picks 27th, know what to do up here? Semi-pro Eric Swann is a temptation. But . . . "You can't have any questions about a player picking this high," says Reeves, who shocks the world by going for need, BRUCE PICKENS, cb, Nebraska.
5, LOS ANGELES RAMS - The Rams brought in Jeff Fisher, a Buddy Ryan disciple, to install an attack defense. RUSSELL MARYLAND, dt, Miami, attacks, although he's a little small (265 pounds) to go this high in most years.
6, PHOENIX - When the Cards aren't taking mediocre linebackers No. 1 (Anthony Bell), they're taking good ones (Eric Hill, Ken Harvey). It would be tempting to take another one, Alfred Williams. But ALVIN HARPER, wr, Tennessee, is the speed they need.
7, TAMPA BAY - How come these guys pick so high, then lose 10 games and pick so high again? Now that they've had their fill of linebackers who don't start (Keith McCants and Broderick Thomas), they need a safety, ERIC TURNER, UCLA.
8, GREEN BAY - Is Don Majkowski's shoulder sound or should Lindy Infante take Brett Favre of Southern Mississippi, who's a lot like him? Let's assume Infante goes with Majkowski-Mike Tomczak-Anthony Dilweg and throws in CHARLES McCRAE, t, Tennessee, to beef up a shaky offensive line.
9, SAN DIEGO - Another question: If Billy Joe Tolliver is out of favor, BRETT FAVRE, qb, Southern Missisippi is in favre. Except that his name is prounounced "Farve."
10, DETROIT - Another team that keeps spinning its wheels and ending up at the top of the draft. HERMAN MOORE, wr, Virginia, the tall pass receiver Wayne Fontes wants for his run-and-shoot.
11, NEW ENGLAND - With the first post-Rocket pick, they take DAN McGWIRE, qb, San Diego State.
12, DALLAS - The Cowboys forestall a trade between Atlanta and Miami by taking HUEY RICHARDSON, lb-de, Florida.
13, ATLANTA - Speaking of falling through the cracks. ANTONE DAVIS, t, Tennessee.
14, DALLAS - ERIC SWANN, ot, tackle, Bay State Titans, the first player without college experience to be drafted since Emil "Six-Yard" Sitko was chosen by the Rams in 1946. Sitko chose Notre Dame first, perhaps on the theory that the Irish were better than any NFL team of those years.
15, PITTSBURGH - Dan Rooney, Dick Haley and Chuck Noll have done quite well the last two years but haven't found the speed to complement Louis Lipps. They do now . . . RANDAL HILL, wr, Miami.
16, SEATTLE - They might have taken McGwire. Now they go for ALFRED WILLIAMS, lb, Colorado, via the trickle-down theory.
17, NEW ENGLAND (from Houston) - The only running back of note is John Stephens. NICK BELL, rb, Iowa is dropping, but he can't go much farther than this and he's useful here.
18, CINCINNATI - The Bengals need defense. They like TED WASHINGTON, dt Louisville, a run stuffer of the first magnitude.
19, PHILADELPHIA - Buddy Ryan thought offense was an unnecessary annoyance, which is why he passed up Rodney Hampton last year to take Ben Smith. Rich Kotite opts to patch up his offensive line PAT HARLOW, ot, Southern California. 20, WASHINGTON - Isn't it written into the NFL by-laws that the Redskins aren't supposed to get a first-round draft choice? This one (if they don't trade it) is their first since they took Darrell Green in 1983. They use it for another defensive back, STANLEY RICHARD, s, Texas.
21, KANSAS CITY - The strength here is the secondary. But the secondary isn't getting any younger, leaving JESSE CAMPBELL, s, North Carolina State as the pick.
22, CHICAGO - The league changed its rules because the Bears signed Mark Carrier last year before they drafted him. He turned out to be defensive rookie of the year. Will BOBBY WILSON, DT, Michigan State win that honor in 1991?
23, MIAMI - A team that needs to get tougher - its five losses last season were all to physical teams. But Marc Duper and Mark Clayton are past 30, so they stay at home with WESLEY CARROLL, wr, Miami.
24, LOS ANGELES RAIDERS - From nowhere comes TODD MARINOVICH, qb, Southern California, the prototype Raider. His father has ties to Al Davis and his off-field troubles have driven other teams away.
25, SAN FRANCISCO - These guys were 14-2 last year, but they were also a bruised pinky on the offensive line away from disaster. With Bubba Paris outgrowing his welcome, they take STAN THOMAS, t, Texas.
26, BUFFALO - Anyone who watched the Super Bowl knows the biggest problem here. It's not Scott Norwood, it's stopping the run. KELVIN PRITCHETT, de, Mississippi.
27, NEW YORK GIANTS - George Young overruled Bill Parcells last year when Parcells wanted to take Darion Conner over Rodney Hampton. The receivers they want will be there on the second round so Pacells gets Conner II, KIRK TRAYLOR, lb, Central (Okla.) State. That makes Pepper Johnson the next Lawrence Taylor and Traylor the next Johnson.