You don't have to look deeply into Tuesday's National Football League draft to find a consensus among scouting intelligentsia.
"Lean," said Tony Razzano, the San Francisco 49ers' director of college scouting. "It's probably as lean as any draft as I have been in and I've been in 22 of them."
Certainly, this draft is lean in suspense. Buffalo already has used the first pick in the draft to sign Virginia Tech's swift and surly defensive end, Bruce Smith, to a reported four-year, $3 million contract.
And Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar, who presented the NFL a unique problem with his plans to graduate early, ended the remaining intrigue when he was granted his wish by Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Kosar said he will bypass Tuesday's regular draft -- he would have been selected second overall, by Minnesota -- and will place himself in a special supplemental draft where he is certain to be selected No. 1 by his home-state Cleveland Browns.
This draft also is lean at the most glamorous positions of all, running back and quarterback.
In next year's draft, there will be some excellent backs: Ohio State's Keith Byars, Auburn's Bo Jackson, Texas Christian's Kenneth Davis and Washington State's Reuben Mayes, as well as such quarterbacks as Brigham Young's Robbie Bosco and Iowa's Chuck Long.
This year, the best that teams can come up with are such running backs as North Carolina's Ethan Horton and Kentucky's George Adams and such quarterbacks as Colgate's Steve Calabria and Maryland's Frank Reich.
Just as surely, however, the beef in this year's draft isn't lean at all. We're talking about some high-quality offensive and defensive linemen. Besides Virginia Tech's Smith, who is 6 feet 3 and 275 pounds, there is Texas A&M defensive end Ray Childress (6-6, 275), Southern Mississippi defensive tackle Richard Byrd (6-3, 260), Pittsburgh offensive tackle Bill Fralic (6-5, 280) and Florida offensive tackle Lomas Brown (6-4, 280), all of whom are nearly certain to be selected in the upper echelon of the first round.
There is also speed and class at wide receiver. The University of Miami's Eddie Brown, Wisconsin's Al Toon and Mississippi Valley's Jerry Rice are not only nearly certain to be first-round selections, but they might make this the finest collection of receivers in one draft since Wes Chandler, James Lofton and John Jefferson were taken in the first round of the 1978 draft.
"The first round this year is not, as they say, a 'Marquee Round,' " said George Young, the New York Giants' general manager. "Really, a marquee round means a lot of quarterbacks and running backs, names that even the myopic fans can read.
"The only thing I can say about this draft is that we have as many people graded to make it this year as we did last year. We don't feel we have as high grades in the first two rounds this year, but we do feel that, between rounds three and seven, this year is as good as last year. And we do feel that in all 12 rounds we can get a graded make-it player."
As always, there are the risk players. For example, does a team take a chance with Clemson defensive tackle William (The Refrigerator) Perry and hope that this 6-2, 355-pound wrecking ball can trim down and reach his potential?
Or does a team take a less-chronicled, yet seemingly more stable player such as Maryland center Kevin Glover, a 265-pound player noted for toughness and heart.
Mike Hickey, the New York Jets' director of personnel, for one, is high on Glover. "He's the definition of solid," Hickey says. "Glover should be a longtime football player. He's tough, balanced and he's a team leader. Is he a marquee guy? No. Will he play about 10 or 12 years? Yes."
"Each year, there is a tremendous amount of money wasted in the NFL on scouting," said Carl Peterson, general manager of the USFL's Baltimore Stars. Peterson spent seven years with the Philadelphia Eagles. "In scouting, you draft 12 players a year, of which maybe only one-third of them make your team."
There are many different systems used for NFL scouting. These rating systems range from the Dallas Cowboys' computer to the numerical procedures used by New England's respected personnel director, Dick Steinberg, to the gut feelings used in the end by Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard.
"Sometimes, you have to wonder, 'Do we outsmart ourselves or outthink ourselves by being so selective in the draft?' " Hickey said. "Basically, it boils down to being the very reason we have the draft. That's why all first-round picks don't go to the Hall of Fame. That's why some free agents make the team.
"The draft is subjective. There will be mistakes made. We live in an imperfect world."