Trades make for busy draft

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 26, 2004

NEW YORK - Right from the beginning, it was one of the busiest NFL drafts.

A record number of trades, from Eli Manning for Philip Rivers at the top to one involving the 226th pick near the bottom, signified just how strong a crop was available this year. Such college stars as John Navarre and Quincy Wilson went in the seventh round. All-America linebacker Grant Wiley wasn't even drafted.

After 10 trades in the first round and 18 on the first day, NFL executives didn't slow down much Sunday. In between selecting obscure defensive tackles from Delta State and tight ends from Nebraska-Omaha, they made 10 more deals for a total of 28, breaking the record of 26 set in 1999.

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Even veterans were involved in the bartering.

The Chiefs sent Philadelphia their fifth-round pick this year and fourth-round choice in 2005 for John Welbourn, a five-year veteran guard/tackle who probably will replace John Tait at right tackle. Tait signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent.

Welbourn recently criticized the Eagles' front office and wanted a new contract.

The Jaguars dealt receiver Kevin Johnson to Baltimore for the Ravens' fourth-round pick Sunday. Jacksonville used it to take receiver Ernest Wilford of Virginia Tech.

The Jaguars also went for Delta State defensive tackle Anthony Maddox with another fourth-rounder. Maddox missed three seasons after being arrested in 1999 for possession of marijuana, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. He was arrested again in 2000 for driving without a license and speeding.

''He's been pretty clean the last few years at Delta State,'' Jaguars personnel director James Harris said. ''We're satisfied he can come in and exist within our team. … If we eliminate every player who had an incident, we probably wouldn't have a draft.''

There was a 255-pick draft this weekend, leading off with Mississippi quarterback Manning being chosen by San Diego against his wishes. An hour later Saturday, he was traded to the Giants in the first - and most massive - of the deals.

Sunday's action didn't feature any blockbuster transactions or many headline-grabbing players. Among the more notable choices were Southern California cornerback Will Poole, once projected as a late first-rounder, who didn't go until 102nd overall to Miami. Poor postseason workouts dropped his stock.

''I feel like I have something to prove,'' said Poole, who was suspended for stealing while at Boston College in 2001 and eventually wound up at Southern Cal. ''It was surprising, I was disappointed, but it was something that was out of my control. Things happen that I can't take back. I always prepare for the best and prepare for the worst at the same time.

''So I'm all right now that I'm a Dolphin. I'm excited and ready to get to work.''

Ohio State had 14 players chosen, tying the seven-round record set by Miami two years ago. But more impressive was the mark the Hurricanes established in this year's first round with six draftees.

That gave them 19 first-rounders in the last four drafts.

''Miami has a very strong tradition of putting out players that end up playing very well in the NFL,'' Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman said. ''That's a credit to that university and the coaches there that recruit the kids. Nine times out of 10 I would say most of those players are going to be very productive players in the NFL.''

Shockingly, no more Hurricanes were chosen until the New York Jets picked linebacker Darrell McClover midway in the seventh round.