RICHARDS: Filling in the first-round draft gaps

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Darryl Richards

There is a price to pay for having a talented and successful college football team. The best players often move on to the NFL. If your team is lucky, you merely reload and dip into a talent pool of players who spent a few seasons waiting for a chance. However, some teams have to rebuild. The colleges that recover fastest are usually in the running for a spot in the Bowl Championship Series. And it's not hard to figure out which programs struggled to replace their stars. Florida State lost nine players in last year's draft and there was a notable difference in the play of the defense. The Seminoles had 45 sacks in 2000 when it played Oklahoma for the national title and just 14 last season. The Big Ten title was up for grabs after Michigan lost five players in the first two rounds and quarterback Drew Henson quit to play pro baseball. The Wolverines weren't able to replace the loss of three starting linemen and running back Anthony Thomas and saw their offense drop from 11th to 70th last season. Michigan finished second in the Big Ten behind Illinois. Miami lost four players in the first round of last year's draft but it's fair to say the Hurricanes did just fine. There were several questions about who would replace Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne at wide receiver but Andre Johnson and tight end Jeremy Shockey picked up the slack. Johnson was the star of the Rose Bowl last season and Shockey was the 14th pick overall in the draft. The Hurricanes have to address a more complex situation this season. Miami lost five players in the first round of the draft and had a national best of 11 players selected overall. They must replace their entire secondary with safety Ed Reed and cornerbacks Phillip Buchanon and Mike Rumph all going in the first round. Tennessee also has a challenge after losing three players in the first round and 10 total (Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and Virginia Tech each had eight players drafted). The Vols have a more than adequate replacement for Donte Stallworth at wide receiver with sophomore Kelley Washington certain to emerge as the featured receiver. But Tennessee will have a hard time restocking its defensive front after losing tackles John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth in the first round. Defensive end Will Overstreet went in the third round. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer felt the pinch this spring. "Our pass rush is not what it needs to be right now," Fulmer said after spring practice. "We can blitz and bring extra people, but there are times we've got to rush only four and be able to push the pocket and get some pressure." Miami and Tennessee are not the only teams facing massive overhauls. North Carolina lost its best two players, defensive end Julius Peppers and defensive tackle Ryan Sims, by the sixth pick of the draft. Hawaii lost its premier receiver with Ashley Lelie going to Denver in the first round but June Jones has to find replacements for four other starting receivers. Alabama-Birmingham has to rebuild a defense that lost defensive end Bryan Thomas and tackle Eddie Freeman in the first two rounds of the draft. The Blazers led the nation in rushing defense, holding opponents to 57.3 yards a game. UAB has to replace nine starters from that defense.
Replacement players
Pick Pos. Player School Replacement
1. QB David Carr Fresno St. Junior Jeff Grady looked like the leader going into the spring, but redshirt freshman Paul Pinegar has been sharp and got the Bulldogs into the end zone during the most recent scrimmage.
2. DE Julius Peppers North Carolina Junior Issac Mooring had 21 tackles and two sacks as Peppers' backup last season. Mooring recorded one of his sacks against Florida State.
3. QB Joey Harrington Oregon Junior Jason Fife went into spring as the leading candidate to replace Captain Comeback and is being pushed by freshman Kellen Clemens. Fife played in three games last season and completed six passes.
4. OT Mike Williams Texas The Longhorns are looking at redshirt freshmen here with Jonathan Scott and William Winston. Scott won the spot in spring drills. Regardless of who plays, Texas will have another massive player in the position. Scott and Winston are both 6-7.
5. CB Quentin Jammer Texas Junior Nathan Vasher moves over after starting at strong safety last year. Vasher is more of a natural corner than a safety.
6. DT Ryan Sims North Carolina Senior Will Chapman will be the featured defensive tackle now that Sims is gone. Chapman had 29 tackles last season. Senior Eric Davis has the edge among players in line to replace Sims at his position. Davis had 11 tackles last season
7. OT Bryant McKinnie Miami Miami coach Larry Coker joked that he is tempted to let Carlos Joseph give up a sack on the first passing play of the season just to take the pressure off Joseph. McKinnie did not give up a sack in his collegiate career.
8. S Roy Williams Oklahoma Redshirt freshman Eric Bassey isn't as physical as Williams but he is faster. Bassey was the fastest player on the team among players who tested. Michael Thompson, who missed last season because of a car accident, is another possibility.
9. DT John Henderson Tennessee Rashad Moore has lettered three times but he will have a hard time matching Henderson's productivity. Demetrin Veal moved from defensive end to provide some depth at tackle.
10. OT Levi Jones Arizona Regis Crawford was the starting right guard all of last season and has moved over to left tackle. Crawford is the only returning starter on the line.
11. DT Dwight Freeney Syracuse Julian Pollard is an up-and-comer for the Orangemen. He enrolled in Jan. 2001 so he could participate in spring football and saw time in five games. Pollard was one of two true freshmen to play for Syracuse last season.
12. DT Wendell Bryant Wisconsin The Badgers will fill Bryant's spot by committee more than anything else because Bryant played both inside and outside last season.
13. WR Donte' Stallworth Tennessee Kelley Washington will be the main receiver for the Vols but senior Leonard Scott will officially replace Stallworth. Scott had six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
14. TE Jeremy Shockey Miami Sophomore Kellen Winslow should fill in nicely for Shockey. Winslow was one of four true freshmen to play last season and had an impact on special teams. He also had two receptions for 34 yards.
15. DT Albert Haynesworth Tennessee Senior Aubrayo Franklin won the job in the spring but Edward Kendrick isn't far behind.
16. RB William Green Boston College Junior Derrick Knight is the leading candidate here. He rushed for 78 yards in BC's near upset of Miami last season and recently had 97 yards rushing in a scrimmage. Junior Horace Dodd, a transfer from Penn State, is trying to work his way into the mix.
17. CB Phillip Buchanon Miami Alfonso Marshall had the same number of tackles (27) as Buchanon but has to develop into a big playmaker to compensate for Buchanon's loss.
18. RB T.J. Duckett Michigan St. Dawan Moss played fullback last season but is doing what it takes to be the top running back for the Spartans. He lost 22 pounds and will be just as punishing a rusher at 236 pounds.
19. WR Ashley Lelie Hawaii The Warriors have some major rebuilding to do after losing four of their top receivers from last season. Look for senior Justin Colbert to be the guy. He had 55 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns last season.
20. WR Javon Walker Florida St. Robert Morgan and Anquan Boldin, who both missed last season with injuries, and Talman Gardner will move around and play split end and flanker. Gardner had 11 touchdown receptions last season.
21. TE Daniel Graham Colorado Graham emerged as a primary receiver last season because of injuries. But junior Quinn Sypniewski and senior Beau Williams both filled in when the Buffs went to a two tight end look.
22. DE Bryan Thomas Alabama-Birmingham Senior Hassan McKeithan has seen a lot of time the last two seasons but should emerge this season. He played in all 11 games last year and had 25 tackles and three sacks. UAB lost its entire starting front from last season.
23. LB Napoleon Harris Northwestern The Wildcats have switched around their defense to a 4-3. Harris played defensive end last year. The most likely choice will be senior Onaje Grimes, who has the most experience but is out this spring because of an injury. Redshirt freshmen DeMaris Wilson and David Thompson also are possibilities.
24. S Ed Reed Miami Sean Taylor played as a freshman last season and showed an ability to make tackles. He had 26 tackles, including 20 unassisted stops. Taylor had four tackles against Florida State last season.
25. DE Charles Grant Georgia Sophomore Robert Geathers showed some ability to at least get to the quarterback with two quarterback hurries. He also intercepted a pass last season.
26. CB Lito Sheppard Florida Junior Keiwan Ratliff saw considerable time last season in Florida's defensive backfield rotation and had two interceptions.
27. CB Mike Rumph Miami The Hurricanes will be inexperienced at cornerback regardless of who earns the starting spot. Sophomore Antrel Rolle received playing experience last season and was one of four true freshmen to step on the field. Rolle played a lot in nickel situations and finished with nine tackles and an interception. Kelly Jennings redshirted last season.
28. TE Jerramy Stevens Washington Kevin Ware started eight games for the Huskies last season when Stevens was out with an injury and caught just seven passes. Washington is very high on redshirt freshman Joe Toledo, who probably would have seen time last season if he hadn't broken his foot in preseason practice.
29. OT Kendall Simmons Auburn Mark Pera saw considerable time on the right side of the line and may move over to fill Simmons' spot. Sophomore Ryan Broome is an intriguing prospect with a lot of room to grow. Broome lived in Barbados until moving to Marietta, Ga., for his senior season in high school.
30. OT Marc Colombo Boston College Jim Connor, Rudy Dipietro and Frank Wilpert are in the hunt to replace Colombo.
31. LB Robert Thomas UCLA Senior Marcus Reese has excellent athletic ability and was the backup for Thomas and weakside linebacker Ryan Nece last season. He finished with 34 tackles and two sacks.
32. QB Patrick Ramsey Tulane Junior J.P. Losman had only one start last season but he showed he was capable of putting up good numbers. Losman threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against Army last season.
Tagged: Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College, Syracuse, Miami (FL), Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern, Marshall, Washington, UCLA, Oregon, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, Hawaii, Fresno State, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Tulane, Army, UAB, New Mexico, Bryant McKinnie, William Green, Ryan Sims, Robert Thomas, David Carr

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