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Seahawks Elect To Receive Seattle Seeks Top Pass-Catcher With Its First-Round Selection

John Clayton Tacoma News Tribune

As the National Football League is finding out, receivers aren’t only getting wider and taller. They are getting better and better.

The Seattle Seahawks hope to reach for the skies Saturday and snag either 6-foot-3 Michael Westbrook or 6-4 J.J. Stokes with their eighth selection in the first round of the NFL draft.

Those two are among three bona fide first-round selections at wide receiver. Approximately 10 teams have critical needs at the position, so there will be seven disappointed teams.

The only good news is that the top three receivers could easily be rated among the 10 best athletes in the draft. Westbrook, Stokes and 5-10 Joey Galloway may make any passing offense better immediately.

“I don’t want to go to a place where I’m just running and blocking,” Westbrook said. “I want to catch the ball.”

Colorado used Westbrook as the main passing threat in 1992, when he caught 76 passes for 1,060 yards. The other years, he did more blocking and decoy route running.

Galloway has had more consistent production at Ohio State, catching anywhere between 36 to 45 balls a season. His speed is incredible, but he needs to work on his elusiveness.

Stokes’ problem is speed. He just doesn’t have it. At UCLA, he dominated the secondary. Many thought he should have turned pro last season. Had he done that, he might have been a top-three selection.

“I didn’t think much about coming out in the first place,” Stokes said. He told Los Angeles reporters last spring that he was aware of the worries UCLA teammate Sean LaChappelle expressed to him. LaChappelle, considered a top-round draft choice, opted to stay for his senior year.

His stock dropped because of a bad rib injury. If the Seahawks don’t take Stokes, who had a quad injury, he might fall below the top 10.

Talking about drops, there is one school of thought that says the next receiver might not be taken until the middle of the second round. Jack Jackson is a tiny receiver from Florida who doesn’t excite many. Frank Sanders of Auburn is a big receiver with questionable speed. Lee DeRamus of Wisconsin had firstround potential until he suffered a serious knee injury the first game last season.

It’s a better year for tight ends. Kyle Brady of Penn State is as big and as physical as they come. Mark Bruener from Washington is the perfect mix of blocking and receiving, and fits into the lower part of the first round.

There could be as many as eight to 10 tight ends taken during the first three rounds.

Seahawks needs

The worst-kept secret in the NFL these days is what the Seahawks will do in the draft. They want to draft a receiver. Coach Dennis Erickson drools at what any one of these three receivers brings to his offense.

Westbrook offers the combination of size, speed and blocking ability. When the Seahawks made that failed offer sheet to tall New Orleans Saints receiver Torrance Small, they indicated they were looking for a big target for quarterback Rick Mirer.

The 6-4 Westbrook is not only a big target, but he has the deep speed to zip past most cornerbacks. His selection would be more of a safe pick because he can do so many things well. Lost in the equation is how good he is at blocking.

As good as Westbrook is, Galloway might be a better choice for the Seahawks.

First, he offers the deep speed that the Seahawks have been seeking for years. Second, he can help out as a return specialist, a position needed with the departure of Kelvin Martin.

At the end of last season, Stokes probably ranked first on the Seahawks’ board. His poor times in the 40-yard dash and seasonlong bout with quad muscle problems make him less attractive.

Still, if Galloway and Westbrook are gone, Stokes will be the guy.

The tight end problem won’t be as easily solved. Kyle Brady will be gone, and Bruener might not be around by the Seahawks’ secondround choice. The other options aren’t as sure.

Christian Fauria of Colorado is an overachiever and he might not have the speed to be a receiving threat. Lovell Pinkney of Texas doesn’t want to be a tight end, so you wouldn’t expect much blocking there. Ken Dilger of Illinois has had knee problems.

The most likely scenario if Bruener isn’t there is that the Seahawks draft a pass-rushing defensive end.

Heard on the street

Don’t expect the Carolina Panthers to trade their first pick. Instead, they are believed to be in the midst of negotiations with Penn State halfback Ki-Jana Carter… . Trade talks between the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles involving backup quarterback Mark Brunell have bogged down. He’s an unsigned player with two years of experience. The price is a second-round choice, and the Eagles are having some second thoughts. Meanwhile, the Rams are becoming interested in the former Washington Husky… . Here’s the early line on the top five selections: Carter to Carolina, tackle Tony Boselli to Jacksonville, defensive end Kevin Carter to Houston, defensive tackle Warren Sapp to Washington and running back Tyrone Wheatley to Cincinnati. The Rams might take Westbrook. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are considering Boston College defensive end Mike Mamula, leaving the Seahawks with either Galloway or Stokes.

MEMO: These sidebars appeared with story: Upper hands Sizing up the top receivers available in Saturday’s National Football League draft, including school, height and weight: Wide receivers Michael Westbrook, Colo., 6-3 3/8, 215 Joey Galloway, Ohio St., 5-10 3/8, 183 J.J. Stokes, UCLA, 6-4 1/2, 217 Jack Jackson, Florida, 5-8 3/8, 171 Frank Sanders, Auburn, 6-1 5/8, 202 Lee DeRamus, Wisconsin, 6-0, 191 Chris T. Jones, Miami, 6-3 5/8, 210 Chris Sanders, Ohio St., 6-0 1/8, 184 Eddie Goines, N.C. St., 5-11 7/8, 183 Tamarick Vanover, Fla. St., 5-11, 210 Tight ends Kyle Brady, Penn St., 6-6 3/8, 258 Mark Bruener, Wash., 6-4 1/2, 249 Christian Fauria, Colorado, 6-4, 238 Lovell Pinkney, Texas, 6-4 3/8, 248 Jamie Asher, Louisville, 6-3 7/8, 243 Ken Dilger, Illinois, 6-4 7/8, 252 Pete Mitchell, Boston College, 6-1 David Sloan, New Mexico, 6-6, 254 -Tacoma News Tribune Draft profiles List includes player, school, size, 40-yard dash time Quarterback 1. Steve McNair, Alcorn State, 6-foot-1 1/2, 224, 4.59 Using video tapes, Houston Oilers coaches recently tested his ability to read defenses. His first reads were correct each time. So what’s the problem? “Air McNair II” his older brother Fred is Air I - passed for 14,496 yards and 152 touchdowns in four seasons after major colleges told him he’s better suited for defensive back. 2. Kerry Collins, Penn State 6-4 1/2, 240, 4.85 Scouts compare him to Jim Kelly because of his competitiveness. Critics say he completed 66.7 percent of his passes last season because he was surrounded by first-rounders Kyle Brady, Ki-Jana Carter and others. 3. Rob Johnson, Southern Cal, 6-3, 223, 4.82 Was Steve Stenstrom’s wide receiver in high school and allowed the Stanford quarterback to perform better than he did in the Pac-10 senior season. His yardage totals dropped from 3,630 to 2,499 as a senior and his touchdown passes almost fell in half (29 to 15). Running back 1. Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State, 5-10, 227, 4.41 His mom, Kathy, named him Ki-Jana from a character she enjoyed in the movie “Shaft in Africa.” He’s the class player of this draft. Rushed for 1,695 yards last year and has the potential to give the Carolina Panthers a 1,000-yard rusher for their first season. 2. Tyrone Wheatley, Michigan, 6-0, 232, 4.46 Wheatley gained 4,186 yards in four seasons at Michigan. He scored 54 touchdowns, many on long runs. Some teams, though, think that he tends to run away from contact. He’s a top 10 pick. 3. Rashaan Salaam,Colorado, 6-0 7/8, 228, 4.42 Salaam played eight-man football in high school and proved to be unstoppable while winning the Heisman Trophy. Like Wheatley, Rashaan tends to run a little too upright and needs to work on his elusiveness. 4. Napoleon Kaufman, Washington, 5-8 1/2, 182, 4.43 Were Napoleon three inches taller, he’d be a sure firstrounder. Because of his speed and elusiveness, he won’t fall too far from the first round. He’s a tough little back who could make more of an impact than Dave Meggett did with the New York Giants. Fullback 1. James Stewart, Miami, 6-2 1/8, 245, 4.5 The New York Times incorrectly reported he tested positive for marijuana at the February combine. What can’t be taken away is that he’s the best fullback in the draft. 2. Zack Crockett, Florida State, 6-1 1/2, 244, 4.62 He signed a letter of intent with Florida, had grade troubles, went to Central Florida for a day and then to Hinds Junior College in Mississippi. Went to Florida State in 1991 and backed up William Floyd. Strong Senior Bowl proved he was a big-time pro prospect. 3. Ray Zellars, Notre Dame, 5-11, 236, 4.57 His nickname is Roboback because he runs like a halfback and blocks like a fullback. Injuries prevented him from being the next Jerome Bettis, but at times, he gave Irish fans some pleasant memories. Wide receiver 1. Michael Westbrook, Colorado, 6-3 3/8, 215, 4.49 He has that rare combination of speed, size and power. He took up martial arts in order to make him a better receiver in man-to-man situations. Though his hands might be registered as lethal weapons, they occasionally turn to stone when footballs touch them. 2. Joey Galloway, Ohio State, 5-10 3/8, 183, 4.29 No, Galloway isn’t the big receiver everyone is seeking these days. But name another back who can bench press like an offensive lineman and run like an Olympic sprinter. Plus, he has great hands. 3. J.J. Stokes, UCLA, 6-4 1/2, 217, 4.67 Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson isn’t concerned that he runs a 4.67 second 40-yard dash. Other coaches are. As many times as he has tried to improve his speed, Stokes can’t break a 4.6 40, which is considered good linebacker and bad receiver speed. Same knock went to Jerry Rice when he came out in 1985. Tight end 1. Kyle Brady, Penn State, 6-6 3/8, 258, 4.74 The next Mark Bavaro? Maybe. In fact, he could be better. His blocking is as good as many offensive linemen in this draft. 2. Mark Bruener, Washington, 6-4 1/2, 249, 4.79 The Pittsburgh Steelers are eyeing the former Husky as their replacement for Eric Green. He doesn’t have the mass or the elusiveness of Brady, but he can slip into any zone defense for sure catches. Offensive tackle 1. Tony Boselli, Southern Cal, 6-6 7/8, 323, 5.13 The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to make him the second choice in the draft because he might be the next Anthony Munoz. They plan to line him up at left tackle for the next 10 years and feel that their quarterbacks will always be safe. 2. Reuben Brown, Pittsburgh, 6-3 1/8, 304, 5.36 Brown is a better pure blocker than Boselli, but he has two flaws. At 6-3, he might not fit the prototype for tackles. On- and off-campus skirmishes make scouts wonder about his character. No one, repeat no one, doubts his ability to block. Guard 1. Brendan Stai, Nebraska, 6-4 1/8, 305, 5.06 His workout at the scouting combines gave him a vertical leap to the top of the guard class. He pumped 225-pound weights 37 times and had a 29 1/2 vertical jump. Of the top three Nebraska offensive-line prospects, he’s probably the first to be selected. 2. Matt O’Dwyer, Northwestern, 6-4 3/8, 298, 5.08 Teams could switch their ratings and make him a tackle, but he’ll be expected to play at guard in the pros. He bench presses 500 pounds, showing his strength. Center 1. Cory Raymer, Wisconsin, 6-2 7/8, 293, 5.12 As a 10-pounder at birth, Raymer was projected to have the shoulders of an offensive lineman by his doctor. Cory must have listened. In second grade, he wrote a paper about how he wanted to play football on the moon. He’ll have to settle for the NFL. Defensive end 1. Kevin Carter, Florida, 6-5 5/8, 274, 4.82 Let’s revisit the Michael Jordan story. Jordan was cut by his junior high team. Carter was cut by his junior varsity team in high school. The weird part is that this top-notch pass rusher was considered an underachiever for most of his college career. 2. Mike Mamula, Boston College, 6-4 5/8, 248, 4.56 You’ve got to wonder about Tom Coughlan’s ability to judge NFL talent. Coughlan, the Jacksonville coach, told Mamula it was a mistake to skip his senior season. Mamula didn’t listen and now is considered a better prospect than Willie McGinest, who was the third choice in last year’s draft. Defensive tackle 1. Warren Sapp, Miami, 6-1, 281, 4.75 A positive marijuana test shouldn’t knock him out of the top five selections. In fact, the Washington Redskins are looking at him with the fourth selection in the first round. A good work ethic and quick inside moves make him a valuable prospect for any defense. 2. Luther Elliss, Utah, 6-4 7/8, 291, 4.83 Grew up in a Utah town that had only 800 people. “We had two paved roads and two gas stations,” Elliss said. Considered another Howie Long. Was double- and triple-teamed most of his college career. Linebacker 1. Mark Fields, Washington State, 6-1 7/8, 244, 4.5 He’s the hottest name in the draft. The New Orleans Saints coaches are trying to convince scouts to make him the 12th choice in the draft. His speed and ability to avoid blockers makes him a sure first-round choice in a bad year for linebackers. Cornerback 1. Bobby Taylor, Notre Dame, 6-3 208, 4.45 In a bad year for defensive backs, Taylor is the best, but some teams aren’t sure why. He isn’t fast enough to be a great coverage cornerback and he lacks the toughness to be a safety. But big cornerbacks have great value in this league. Safety 1. Devin Bush, Florida State, 5-11 3/8, 208, 4.57 Workouts recently enabled him to have a lot of teams improving his stock. In many ways, though, the safeties aren’t better than third-round values in this draft. -Tacoma News Tribune

These sidebars appeared with story: Upper hands Sizing up the top receivers available in Saturday’s National Football League draft, including school, height and weight: Wide receivers Michael Westbrook, Colo., 6-3 3/8, 215 Joey Galloway, Ohio St., 5-10 3/8, 183 J.J. Stokes, UCLA, 6-4 1/2, 217 Jack Jackson, Florida, 5-8 3/8, 171 Frank Sanders, Auburn, 6-1 5/8, 202 Lee DeRamus, Wisconsin, 6-0, 191 Chris T. Jones, Miami, 6-3 5/8, 210 Chris Sanders, Ohio St., 6-0 1/8, 184 Eddie Goines, N.C. St., 5-11 7/8, 183 Tamarick Vanover, Fla. St., 5-11, 210 Tight ends Kyle Brady, Penn St., 6-6 3/8, 258 Mark Bruener, Wash., 6-4 1/2, 249 Christian Fauria, Colorado, 6-4, 238 Lovell Pinkney, Texas, 6-4 3/8, 248 Jamie Asher, Louisville, 6-3 7/8, 243 Ken Dilger, Illinois, 6-4 7/8, 252 Pete Mitchell, Boston College, 6-1 David Sloan, New Mexico, 6-6, 254 -Tacoma News Tribune Draft profiles List includes player, school, size, 40-yard dash time Quarterback 1. Steve McNair, Alcorn State, 6-foot-1 1/2, 224, 4.59 Using video tapes, Houston Oilers coaches recently tested his ability to read defenses. His first reads were correct each time. So what’s the problem? “Air McNair II” his older brother Fred is Air I - passed for 14,496 yards and 152 touchdowns in four seasons after major colleges told him he’s better suited for defensive back. 2. Kerry Collins, Penn State 6-4 1/2, 240, 4.85 Scouts compare him to Jim Kelly because of his competitiveness. Critics say he completed 66.7 percent of his passes last season because he was surrounded by first-rounders Kyle Brady, Ki-Jana Carter and others. 3. Rob Johnson, Southern Cal, 6-3, 223, 4.82 Was Steve Stenstrom’s wide receiver in high school and allowed the Stanford quarterback to perform better than he did in the Pac-10 senior season. His yardage totals dropped from 3,630 to 2,499 as a senior and his touchdown passes almost fell in half (29 to 15). Running back 1. Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State, 5-10, 227, 4.41 His mom, Kathy, named him Ki-Jana from a character she enjoyed in the movie “Shaft in Africa.” He’s the class player of this draft. Rushed for 1,695 yards last year and has the potential to give the Carolina Panthers a 1,000-yard rusher for their first season. 2. Tyrone Wheatley, Michigan, 6-0, 232, 4.46 Wheatley gained 4,186 yards in four seasons at Michigan. He scored 54 touchdowns, many on long runs. Some teams, though, think that he tends to run away from contact. He’s a top 10 pick. 3. Rashaan Salaam,Colorado, 6-0 7/8, 228, 4.42 Salaam played eight-man football in high school and proved to be unstoppable while winning the Heisman Trophy. Like Wheatley, Rashaan tends to run a little too upright and needs to work on his elusiveness. 4. Napoleon Kaufman, Washington, 5-8 1/2, 182, 4.43 Were Napoleon three inches taller, he’d be a sure firstrounder. Because of his speed and elusiveness, he won’t fall too far from the first round. He’s a tough little back who could make more of an impact than Dave Meggett did with the New York Giants. Fullback 1. James Stewart, Miami, 6-2 1/8, 245, 4.5 The New York Times incorrectly reported he tested positive for marijuana at the February combine. What can’t be taken away is that he’s the best fullback in the draft. 2. Zack Crockett, Florida State, 6-1 1/2, 244, 4.62 He signed a letter of intent with Florida, had grade troubles, went to Central Florida for a day and then to Hinds Junior College in Mississippi. Went to Florida State in 1991 and backed up William Floyd. Strong Senior Bowl proved he was a big-time pro prospect. 3. Ray Zellars, Notre Dame, 5-11, 236, 4.57 His nickname is Roboback because he runs like a halfback and blocks like a fullback. Injuries prevented him from being the next Jerome Bettis, but at times, he gave Irish fans some pleasant memories. Wide receiver 1. Michael Westbrook, Colorado, 6-3 3/8, 215, 4.49 He has that rare combination of speed, size and power. He took up martial arts in order to make him a better receiver in man-to-man situations. Though his hands might be registered as lethal weapons, they occasionally turn to stone when footballs touch them. 2. Joey Galloway, Ohio State, 5-10 3/8, 183, 4.29 No, Galloway isn’t the big receiver everyone is seeking these days. But name another back who can bench press like an offensive lineman and run like an Olympic sprinter. Plus, he has great hands. 3. J.J. Stokes, UCLA, 6-4 1/2, 217, 4.67 Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson isn’t concerned that he runs a 4.67 second 40-yard dash. Other coaches are. As many times as he has tried to improve his speed, Stokes can’t break a 4.6 40, which is considered good linebacker and bad receiver speed. Same knock went to Jerry Rice when he came out in 1985. Tight end 1. Kyle Brady, Penn State, 6-6 3/8, 258, 4.74 The next Mark Bavaro? Maybe. In fact, he could be better. His blocking is as good as many offensive linemen in this draft. 2. Mark Bruener, Washington, 6-4 1/2, 249, 4.79 The Pittsburgh Steelers are eyeing the former Husky as their replacement for Eric Green. He doesn’t have the mass or the elusiveness of Brady, but he can slip into any zone defense for sure catches. Offensive tackle 1. Tony Boselli, Southern Cal, 6-6 7/8, 323, 5.13 The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to make him the second choice in the draft because he might be the next Anthony Munoz. They plan to line him up at left tackle for the next 10 years and feel that their quarterbacks will always be safe. 2. Reuben Brown, Pittsburgh, 6-3 1/8, 304, 5.36 Brown is a better pure blocker than Boselli, but he has two flaws. At 6-3, he might not fit the prototype for tackles. On- and off-campus skirmishes make scouts wonder about his character. No one, repeat no one, doubts his ability to block. Guard 1. Brendan Stai, Nebraska, 6-4 1/8, 305, 5.06 His workout at the scouting combines gave him a vertical leap to the top of the guard class. He pumped 225-pound weights 37 times and had a 29 1/2 vertical jump. Of the top three Nebraska offensive-line prospects, he’s probably the first to be selected. 2. Matt O’Dwyer, Northwestern, 6-4 3/8, 298, 5.08 Teams could switch their ratings and make him a tackle, but he’ll be expected to play at guard in the pros. He bench presses 500 pounds, showing his strength. Center 1. Cory Raymer, Wisconsin, 6-2 7/8, 293, 5.12 As a 10-pounder at birth, Raymer was projected to have the shoulders of an offensive lineman by his doctor. Cory must have listened. In second grade, he wrote a paper about how he wanted to play football on the moon. He’ll have to settle for the NFL. Defensive end 1. Kevin Carter, Florida, 6-5 5/8, 274, 4.82 Let’s revisit the Michael Jordan story. Jordan was cut by his junior high team. Carter was cut by his junior varsity team in high school. The weird part is that this top-notch pass rusher was considered an underachiever for most of his college career. 2. Mike Mamula, Boston College, 6-4 5/8, 248, 4.56 You’ve got to wonder about Tom Coughlan’s ability to judge NFL talent. Coughlan, the Jacksonville coach, told Mamula it was a mistake to skip his senior season. Mamula didn’t listen and now is considered a better prospect than Willie McGinest, who was the third choice in last year’s draft. Defensive tackle 1. Warren Sapp, Miami, 6-1, 281, 4.75 A positive marijuana test shouldn’t knock him out of the top five selections. In fact, the Washington Redskins are looking at him with the fourth selection in the first round. A good work ethic and quick inside moves make him a valuable prospect for any defense. 2. Luther Elliss, Utah, 6-4 7/8, 291, 4.83 Grew up in a Utah town that had only 800 people. “We had two paved roads and two gas stations,” Elliss said. Considered another Howie Long. Was double- and triple-teamed most of his college career. Linebacker 1. Mark Fields, Washington State, 6-1 7/8, 244, 4.5 He’s the hottest name in the draft. The New Orleans Saints coaches are trying to convince scouts to make him the 12th choice in the draft. His speed and ability to avoid blockers makes him a sure first-round choice in a bad year for linebackers. Cornerback 1. Bobby Taylor, Notre Dame, 6-3 208, 4.45 In a bad year for defensive backs, Taylor is the best, but some teams aren’t sure why. He isn’t fast enough to be a great coverage cornerback and he lacks the toughness to be a safety. But big cornerbacks have great value in this league. Safety 1. Devin Bush, Florida State, 5-11 3/8, 208, 4.57 Workouts recently enabled him to have a lot of teams improving his stock. In many ways, though, the safeties aren’t better than third-round values in this draft. -Tacoma News Tribune

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