The phenomenon of 330 college players eager to be put in affluent bondage for the remainder of their careers will key activity today and Friday at the National Football League draft on the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
The Los Angeles Rams were expected to keep trying to trade their 19th pick in the first round for a higher one right up until the 10 a.m. start of the selections.
It is believed that the Rams would like to draft All-America quarterback Jack Thompson of Washington State. Buffalo is coached and general-managed by Chuck Knox, formerly of the Rams, and he has the first and fifth choices in the first round.
The consensus of personnel chiefs is that Buffalo will choose with the first pick of the draft linebacker Tom Cousineau of Ohio State.
If there are no trades affecting the first seven selections, here is how they are expected to be made:
1. Buffalo - Cousineau.
2. Kansas City - defensive tackle Mike Bell, Colorado State.
3. Cincinnati - tight end Kellen Winslow, Missouri.
4. Chicago - linebacker Barry Krauss, Alabama.
5. Buffalo - wide receiver Jerry Butler, Clemson.
6. Baltimore - linebacker Jerry Robinson, UCLA.
7. New York Giants - Thompson, Washington State.
Cincinnati has a second choice in the first round, the 12th. Los Angeles also has a second choice in that round, the 26th, and has indicated that veterans John Cappelletti, Charles Young, Isiah Robertson and Mike Fanning would be available in a trade. Chicago has a second selection in the first round, the ninth.
One personnel expert insists that the best player on the first round, wide receiver Kirk Gibson of Michigan State, because he signed a contract as a baseball outfielder with the Detroit Tigers.
He suffered a leg injury in spring training and has been assigned to Evansville of the American Association. An NFL club may draft him after the first or second round and take a chance of signing him if he leaves baseball.
Most scouts regard Cousineau as the best available player, "better than Randy Gradishar of the Denver Broncos was coming out of Ohio State," as one personnel man said.
Quarterback Thompson, "the throwin' Samoan," is the highest rated quarterback, and Charles Alexander of Louisiana State the best running back. Heisman trophy winner Billy Sims of Oklahoma is not eligible to be drafted because he is a junior, with a year to play.