The Washington Redskins made the predictable trade for the predictable players; the Cleveland Browns tried to clone tight end Ozzie Newsome and the first eight picks were just about what everyone thought they'd be.
Except for Louis Oliver, Andre Rison, Cleveland Gary, Tracy Rocker and Rodney Peete, highly rated players who were not quite so highly rated when the day ended, Sunday's five rounds of the NFL draft were highly predictable.Or, as Broderick Thomas, the linebacker from Nebraska, said after he was taken just as forecast by Tampa Bay with the sixth pick:
"Right on time."
The first pick was, of course, Troy Aikman, the UCLA quarterback who last week signed an $11.2 million, six-year deal with Dallas.
Then came Tony Mandarich, the Michigan State offensive tackle who went to Green Bay and Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, the running back who was taken by the Detroit Lions. Then came linebacker Derrick Thomas of Alabama, who went to Kansas City; cornerback Deion Sanders of Florida State to Atlanta; Broderick Thomas; running back Tim Worley of Georgia to Kansas City and defensive end Burt Grossman of Pitt to San Diego.
But just as predictable were the trades that brought Washington two heavy-duty running backs with some wear and tear on them, Gerald Riggs from Atlanta and Earnest Byner from Cleveland, and the manuevering that got them yet another young quarterback, Jeff Graham of Long Beach State - after he had been taken on the fourth round by Green Bay.
Byner came for another running back, Mike Oliphant, who was Washington's second pick last season. But Riggs came the more traditional way - for draft picks, including Washington's No. 1 next year, the 17th first-rounder they'll be without in 20 years.
Graham, another developmental quarterback to go with Mark Rypien and Stan Humphries, came for fifth- and eighth-round picks and wide receiver Erik Affholter, who had been taken minutes earlier on the fourth round.
"This fits in with the way we've always dealt in the past," said coach Joe Gibbs, whose running game was a major disappointment last season as Washington slipped from an NFL championship to a 7-9 record.
"We don't like trading players. We'd prefer to do it with draft choices." But other than Cleveland, which gave its 1990 top pick to Green Bay so it could take Newsome-like oversized wide receiver Lawyer Tillman of Auburn, the other teams preferred to do it with draft choices, notably large draft choices.
For example, 19 of the 72 players taken in the first three rounds were offensive linemen, six on the first round, starting with Mandarich, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound tackle considered the best pure player in the draft.
The New York Giants, heeding general manager George Young's adage "when you get big bodies who can play, grab them," used their first two picks on Big Ten offensive linemen for the second straight year. Their first-round choice was center-guard Brian Williams of Minnesota; their second, on the third round, guard Bob Kretch of Iowa.
Seattle did likewise - choosing offensive tackle Andy Heck of Notre Dame on the first round and center Joe Tofflemyer of Arizona on the second.
Cleveland engaged in its own brand of saturation, taking speed to replace the ponderous backfield of Kevin Mack and Byner.
First, the Browns traded up from 20th to 13th in the first round and snared Eric Metcalf, the speedy Texas running back who can also be used at wide receiver. Then they gave next year's first-rounder, plus running back Herman Fontenot, to Green Bay to move up in the second-round to take Tillman, a 6-4, 225-pounder whom the Browns see as a tight end in the mold of Newsome, himself a wide receiver at Alabama.
Cleveland also admitted a major mistake when it traded linebacker Mike Junkin, the fifth choice overall in the 1987 draft to Kansas City for a fifth-round pick.