Full-Court Press

By Paul Arnett

Friday, April 16, 1999

Draft analysis can give
you brain paralysis

WHAT I know about drafting, scouting and analyzing college football players wouldn't stretch the limits of a one-light town.

How well Ricky Williams negotiates a row of orange cones doesn't interest me. Watching film of quarterbacks Akili Smith, Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb deep into the night is duller than CSPAN. And having to listen to the hourly predictions of tomorrow's NFL Draft by Mel Kiper Jr. and Peter King put me to sleep faster than two Excedrin PMs.

Since Shakespeare is so popular these days, perhaps Romeo can do the commentary for me. "These are gentlemen who love to hear themselves talk.'' Tell it Romeo. "And will speak more in a minute than we can stand for in a month.'' Right on, my man.

If you're a sports fan, it's hard to escape the hype of the draft. Everybody has an opinion -- from CNNSI to ESPN to Fox Sports. Newspapers and magazines across America that put together their own mock draft selections should pay $197 million to any writer who gets all 31 first-round selections right.

And let's not forget about on-line chat rooms or talk radio. These two avenues let the average fan voice his opinion.

"We've got a caller from Cut-and-Shoot, Texas, on the line. Shouldn't that be run-and-shoot?''

"Uhhh, am I on the air?''

"I don't know, are you?''

"Well, I think the Houston Oilers ought to draft Ricky Williams.''

"Last time I checked, the Oilers were the Titans and they're in Tennessee. News travels slow down there in Cut-and-Shoot. And anyway, Tennessee has the 16th pick in the first round. Little Ricky will be long gone by then.''

"Are you sure?''

"About what? That Houston is now in Tennessee or you're a moron? Let's go to Columbus, Ohio.''

USUALLY, that's when I slip in a CD. Too many minutes of those brain-damaged conversations might convince me to make my own selections. After all, it doesn't have to be that complicated.

The Cleveland Browns have gone back and forth so often between Couch and Smith you wonder if general manager Dwight Clark will be remembered for making The Catch or for blowing the new franchise's first pick.

Perhaps we should put together a quick poll of what Hawaii fans think about the draft. Many were fortunate to see two of the top four projected picks in person -- Smith in the Aloha Bowl and Williams in the Hula Bowl.

They also saw UCLA's Cade McNown play in the Aloha Bowl three years ago and watched other projected first-round choices Daunte Culpepper of Central Florida, John Tait of BYU, Chris McAlister of Arizona, Aaron Gibson of Wisconsin, Damien Woody of Boston College and Jon Jansen of Michigan help beat the living color out of the Rainbows.

SPEAKING of Hawaii, who better than June Jones to rate a draft, right? Especially quarterbacks. But Jones would have none of it. This is one man who doesn't have time to pick his own top 31.

"I haven't analyzed it enough to have an opinion,'' Jones said. "Heck, I wouldn't even want to guess.''

Well, I guess that means it's up to me to step out on the ledge of predictions. Remember, I haven't been studying this since last summer. And even if I had, I'd probably pick the same top five. They are, Couch, Smith, McNabb, Williams and Champ Bailey of Georgia.

Of course, as Dennis Miller would say, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong.''

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.

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