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Analysis : Sorry, Charlie: NFL Snubs Ward : NFL draft: Teams say Heisman Trophy winner couldn't make up his mind what sport to play, so he goes undrafted.

April 26, 1994|BILL PLASCHKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Don't you just love it? The NFL draft is complete, and everybody won.

Nobody reached. Nobody traded down when they should have traded up.

Nobody, but nobody, selected a stiff.

"Of course everybody likes all of their draft picks," said Charley Casserly, Washington Redskin general manager. "If you don't like your draft picks now, when are you going to like them?"

But we know better.

Sometime during the last two days, in some draft room around the league, somebody cursed. Somebody fell on the floor. Somebody kicked a chair.

Somebody won. And somebody lost.

There was no loser like Charlie Ward, the Florida State quarterback. By the time the draft ended Monday afternoon, he had become the first Heisman Trophy winner in 35 years not to be selected. The 1983 winner, Mike Rozier of Nebraska, wasn't drafted, but he had already signed to play in the U.S. Football League.

A linebacker named Thomas Beer from Wayne State (Mich.) was picked, but not the quarterback of the national champions.

Seven rounds, 222 picks, nearly 15 hours, and not one phone call.

In a clear voice, the NFL said it no longer has time for players who wish to leverage their sport against another sport.

In Ward's case, that other sport is basketball, where he has a future as a point guard. The NBA is now probably stuck with him.

"I would have picked Charlie in a minute if he had just made up his mind," said John Becker, director of player personnel for the Rams. "I loved his mobility and athleticism. What killed him was his inability to make a decision."

Ward, whose size, 6 feet, also worked against him, intimated that these last two days have made his decision for him.

"Now the NBA draft is coming up, and I have a chance to prove myself in that sport," he said. "The NFL has given me the first step to see what my options are."

Taking giant steps in the draft were the San Francisco 49ers. They were the biggest winners.

By trading up with the Rams in the first round while maintaining one of their original two first-round picks, they filled immediate needs with defensive tackle Bryant Young of Notre Dame and fullback William Floyd of Florida State.

Young will replace traded Ted Washington on the rebuilt defensive line, and Floyd will replace free agent Tom Rathman, who will probably not be re-signed.

But the 49ers weren't through. They might have stolen a cornerback to replace Don Griffin by taking speedy Tyronne Drakeford of Virginia Tech in the second round.

And they finally replaced struggling kicker Mike Cofer with Doug Brien of California in the third round.

"I like what the 49ers did," Becker conceded.

Other winners and losers:

Winner: Raiders.

The acquisition of free agent running back Harvey Williams from the Kansas City Chiefs could result in nothing but trouble. This is a guy who couldn't even be positively influenced by Marcus Allen.

But then Al Davis made a good move when he acknowledged that Williams might not be the answer by drafting Nebraska's Calvin Jones.

Davis filled his other need by taking three linebackers, including first-rounder Rob Fredrickson of Michigan State, who won our hearts the moment he said his idol was Ted (the Mad Stork) Hendricks.

Loser: Rams.

Football people say they made the most of their 10 picks, and that Becker might have stolen two second-round starters in receiver Isaac Bruce (Memphis State) and safety Toby Wright (Nebraska).

But we still can't forget that they had a chance to select perhaps the most talented quarterback in the draft, Trent Dilfer, and somehow let both the pick and the value for the pick slip away.

So the player they really wanted was wide receiver Alvin Harper. Would it surprise you to learn that the Eagles offered them Calvin Williams only last week, plus two No. 1 picks, for that Dilfer spot?

Winner: Jamir Miller.

In a matter of hours, the former UCLA star went from a low first-round pick to starting linebacker for Buddy Ryan's Arizona Cardinals.

Loser: Marvin Goodwin.

Despite warnings from an NFL committee that he would not be a first- or second-round pick, this former UCLA defensive back nonetheless left college after his junior season.

The result? He was the 144th player taken, in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles. It doesn't quite sound worth the price of an education.

Winner: Cleveland Browns.

The Browns might have had the best first round, stealing Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham with the ninth overall pick and then pinching themselves to discover Michigan receiver Derrick Alexander still there at 29.

Add top nose tackle Romeo Bandison of Oregon in the third round, and Bernie Kosar might actually start missing the place.

Loser: Houston Oilers.

This draft, combined with the Browns' picks, changes the balance of power in the AFC Central.

Late reports say that first-round pick Henry Ford, a defensive end from Arkansas, is an Edsel.

So the Oilers rebound in the second round by taking defensive end Jeremy Nunley of Alabama, about whom one scouting report says, "Not as good as Shane Dronett."

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