NEW YORK-Shortly after NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced Courtney Brown as Cleveland's selection with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Tim Couch, last year's top choice, joined the former Penn State defensive end on stage and said some words to his newest teammate. The Cleveland Browns found a franchise quarterback in Couch; now they hope to have found the same on the other side of the ball in Brown, a unanimous All-American.
"I always thought about being in the NFL, but [to be the] No. 1 [pick], that didn't start until a few months ago," Brown said. "Tim said he can't wait to get me up there. Everybody's ready to go."
Usually regarded as a soft-spoken giant who is shy with the media, Brown spoke more freely following the selection about topics ranging from his major to the influence of Penn State coach Joe Paterno to his feelings about the draft process.
Fellow Nittany Lion LaVar Arrington went to Washington with the second overall choice.
Known for his devastating pass rush and phenomenal athletic ability, Arrington held up a No. 56 Redskins jersey on stage, the same number as former New York Giant and Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, to whom many have compared Arrington.
Later, Arrington said the number on his jersey was not an accident.
"I asked for it, I requested it," he said. "I'm going to try" to match Taylor's accomplishments.
In drafting Arrington and Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels with the second and third picks of the draft, Washington added to a team which won the NFC East last season and has made significant free-agent gains during the off-season. Still, Arrington doesn't assume that the new personnel will guarantee success.
"On paper, the Redskins look very, very good - very good," Arrington said. " I think it's a great situation I'm stepping into."
After speculation raged about which Penn State defender Cleveland would choose, Brown agreed to a six-year contract with the Browns a few hours before the draft began to seal the deal.
"We discussed it this morning and came to an agreement," Brown said. "I didn't tell [my family about it]. I wanted to surprise them."
While Brown and his family rejoiced in his membership in the elite fraternity of top overall picks, Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick expressed some frustration at Cleveland's choice. Arguably the most talented player in the draft, Warrick was chosen fourth by the Cincinnati Bengals.
"They picked who they thought was the best guy for them, but Cleveland plays Cincinnati twice and those two times, I'm gonna give it to them," Warrick said.
Tennessee running back Jamal Lewis went to Baltimore with the fifth pick before the Philadelphia Eagles selected Florida State defensive tackle Corey Simon with the sixth selection.
Arizona chose Virginia running back Thomas Jones seventh, while Pittsburgh picked wideout Plaxico Burress of Michigan State with the eighth choice. New Mexico linebacker Brian Urlacher and Florida wideout Travis Taylor went to the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens, respectively, to round out the top 10.
Surprises remained few and far between in the first round. The order of selection roughly followed the prognostication of NFL Draft gurus until the New York Jets selected South Carolina linebacker John Abraham with the 13th overall pick, a choice that provoked loud boos from the rowdy contingent of Jets fans present.