The New Orleans Saints, as expected, made Heisman Trophy-winning running back George Rogers the first pick in the National Football League draft yesterday. Unexpectedly, two highly publicized collegians, line-backer Hugh Green of Pitt and quarterback Neil Lomax of Portland State, lasted longer than anticipated.
Despite a brief power failure that dimmed the lights early in the afternoon, six rounds were completed in the NFL's commodities futures market in football players. The draft began at 10 a.m. in the ballroom of the New York Sheraton Hotel and lasted until 9 p.m., when trading was suspended until this morning, when six more rounds will be completed.
According to the scouts, this was an excellent year for linebackers, defensive backs, running backs and offensive linemen, and certainly the first round bore out that assessment. Four of the first nine selected were line-backers, with Lawrence Taylor of North Carolina taken second by the N.Y. Giants.
Green, runner-up in the Heisman voting and expected to be among the first four players selected, was the third linebacker chosen, behind Taylor and E.J. Junior of Alabama. Junior went fifth in the draft, taken by St. Louis. Green's name was removed from the board minutes later by Tampa Bay, with the seventh pick.
California's Rich Campbell was the only quarterback taken in the first round. Green Bay, drafting sixth, took him. Lomax, the record-setting passer, remained available until the fifth turn in the second round, when the Cardinals took him to eventually replace veteran Jim Hart.
Six defensive backs, six running backs and five offensive linemen were selected in the first round, with offensive tackle Mark May of Pittsburgh, the Outland Trophy winner, selected by the Redskins with the 20th pick in the round.
The Redskins also made three trades, first sending a second-round draft choice to the Baltimore Colts for veteran running back Joe Washington. Later, in the middle of the third round, they sent their No. 1 choice in the 1982 draft to Los Angeles in exchange for a third-round pick and two fifth-round choices in this draft. They used the third-round choice to take May's Pittsburgh teammate, center Russ Grimm. The Redskins also got a second-round choice in 1982.
Early in the fourth round, they traded places with Green Bay, using the seventh choice in the round to select Tom Flick, a quarterback from Washington. The Packers got the 22nd pick in the fourth round and the Redskins' fifth-round choice.
In other trades, Los Angeles sent disgruntled linebacker Bob Brudzinski to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for second- and third-round picks yesterday and a second-round choice in 1982.
The Baltimore Colts managed two first-round selections, one their own, the other acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. The Colts used their own 12th pick in the draft to take Randy McMillan, a fullback from Pittsburgh. They later traded two second-round choices and fifth to the Vikings in exchange for the 18th choice, which they used to land North Carolina's Donnell Thompson, a defensive end.
Later in the first round, the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders exchanged positions. Oakland then took offensive tackle Curt Marsh of Washington and Buffalo, with the 28th and last choice in that round, picked Penn State Running back Booker Moore. The Bills also got a third-round pick in the deal.
After Rogers and Taylor were taken, the New York Jets drew applause from draft groupies in the ballroom when they took UCLA running back Freeman McNeil. Seattle, which had been expected to draft Green, instead chose safety Ken Easley of UCLA and Chesapeake, Va. Seahawk Coach Jack Patera said of Easley, "I can't remember (a player who) . . . has as much presence on the football field."
David Verser of Kansas was the first wide receiver selected, by Cincinnati, as the 10th player in the first round. The Bengals used their secondround choice on another wide receiver, Cris Collinsworth of Florida. The Jets also beefed up at running back by taking Marion Barber of Minnesota on the second round, a move that was not particularly appreciated by the Sheraton crowd.
Some spectators shouted "defense, defense" before the club took Barber. The next chant was "goodbye Walt," referring to Jet Coach Walt Michaels, whose job clearly will be on the line this season.
Offensive tackle Brian Holloway of Stanford, who played high school football at Churchill in Potomac, was the 19th man selected in the first round, by New England.
Maryland defensive back Lloyd Burruss was the first Terrapin selected when Kansas City, with a pick obtained from Los Angeles, chose him as the 23rd player in the third round. Teammate Eric Sievers, a tight end from Washington-Lee High School, went on the fourth round, to San Diego. The last Terp picked on the first day was defensive back Sam Johnson, selected by Detroit in the sixth round.
The Redskins' main rivals in the NFC East also got quality players in the first round. The Dallas Cowboys took Missouri tackle Howard Richards and the Philadelphia Eagles took a chance on defensive end Leonard Mitchell of Houston, who was passed over until the 27th pick mostly because of a so-called "attitude problem."
Rogers' selection had been anticipated, though there had been the usual predraft talk that the Saints might deal him away to stockpile a number of players. "We had some tempting offers," Coach Bum Phillips said. "We thought he'd do more for the ballclub than a trade."
"I don't think I'm an Earl Campbell," Rogers said. "I want to receive the ball rather than run it all the time. I can't turn it around by myself. I'm not a one-man team. It has to be the team that will do it."
Saints owner John Mecom, whose team finished 1-15 last year, said he forsees no problems in signing Rogers to a contract. "He won't be in Canada, he'll be in New Orleans," Mecom said.
Taylor, the Giants' first choice, said he was looking forward to becoming rich. "There ain't nothing in this world I can't afford," he said.
E. J. Junior also was looking forward to playing in the NFL. "The only transition I'm going to have to make from college to professional football is in the tax bracket," he said. First Round of NFL Draft 1. New Orleans: George Rogers, Running Back, S. Carolina 2. N.Y. Giants: Lawrence Taylor, Linebacvker, N. Carolina 3. N.Y. Jets: Freeman McNeil, Running Back, UCLA 4. Seattle: Kenny Easley, Def. Back, UCLA 5. St. Louis: E. J. Junior, Linebacker, Alabama 6. Green Bay: Rich Campbell, Quarterback, California 7.Tampa Bay: Hugh Green, Linebacker, Pittsburgh 8. San Fransicso: Ronnie Loff, Def. Back, Southern Cal 9. Los Angeles: Mel Owens, Linebacker, Michigan 10. Cincinnati: David Verser, Wide Received, Kansas 11. Chicago: Keith Van Horne, Off. Tackle, Southern Cal 12. Baltimore: Randy McMillan, Running Back, Pittsburgh 13. Miami: David Overstreet, Running Back, Oklahoma 14. Kansas City: Willie Scott, Tight End, S. Carolina 15. Denver: Dennis Smith, Def. Back, Southern Cal 16. Detroit: Mark Nichols, Wide Receiver, San Jose St. 17. Pittsburgh: Keith Garry, Def. End, Oklahoma 18. Baltimore: Donnell Thompson, Def. Tackle, N. Carolina 19. New England: Brian Holloway, Off. Tackle, Stanford 20. Washington: Mark May, Off. Tackle, Pittsburgh 21. Oakland: Ted Watts, Def. Back, Texas Tech 22. Cleveland: Hanford Dixon, Def. Back, S. Mississippi 23. Oakland: Curt Marsh, Off. Tackle, Washington 24. San Diego: James Brooks, Running Back, Auburn 25. Atlanta: Bobby Butler, Def. Back, Florida State 26. Dallas: Howard Richards, Off. Tackle, Missouri 27. Philadelphia: Leonard Mitchell, Def. End, Houston 28. Buffalo: Booker Moore, Running Back, Penn State