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Sunday, April 22, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hawks To Take Kennedy? Trade Reportedly With Pats

Defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy of Miami may become a Seattle Seahawk today when the third selection is announced in the first round of the NFL draft.

The New England Patriots and Seahawks reached agreement on a swap of picks in the National Football League draft, according to a published report.

The Patriots traded their first- and second-round choices, which would be No. 3 and No. 29 overall, for the Seahawks' eighth and 10th selections, according to the Boston Globe, quoting an unidentified Seattle source.

A trade with the Patriots would move the Seahawks into position to take Kennedy, considered the only top-drawer prospect in a lean year for defensive linemen.

The Globe said the swap would give the Patriots a chance at two talented players instead of one. It was not clear if there was any swap for succeeding rounds. Seattle presumably would yield its two first-round selections, eighth and 10th overall, to make the deal.

The Seattle source said the deal depends on the New York Jets not taking Kennedy at the No. 2 draft spot. If they do, the deal is off, according to the Globe.

A Jets source said the team has ranked Penn State running back Blair Thomas as their second choice behind Illinois quarterback Jeff George, the Globe said. Thomas signed a six-year, $15 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts Friday.

The agreement followed two days of talks between New England and Seattle. The Seahawks have been trying to maneuver to draft Kennedy, who might not be available at the No. 8 place.

If everything falls into place, the deal will not be confirmed by the teams until it is time for New England's selection, at about 9:15 a.m.

Seahawk executives remained mum on trade talk or any other topic yesterday as they finished preparations for the draft.

The Patriots also talked with officials of the Dallas and San Francisco 49ers teams, according to the Globe.

Joe Mendes, who replaced Dick Steinberg as New England's personnel director, commented only that talks between teams are in strict confidence. Several teams, including Chicago and Green Bay, have shown strong interest in trading up to acquire Kennedy.

The Patriots choices with the eighth and 10th spots will likely be Arizona outside linebacker Chris Singleton and Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware, the Globe said.

Exact details of the possible deal are not known, but it is believed the Seahawks and Patriots also would swap second- and third-round choices. Seattle thus would move up five places in each round. New England has the 29th choice in the second round, Seattle the 34th.

Although the price may appear steep for Seattle, the alternative is to miss out once more on landing a quality defensive lineman. The only other lineman rated as a possible top 10 draftee, Ray Agnew of North Carolina State, probably will be picked sixth by the Chicago Bears.

An ideal draft for Seattle would be to land Kennedy and linebacker James Francis of Baylor with its first-round selections. But Kennedy will go in the top five and Francis probably will be taken by Detroit, picking seventh, unless Chicago picks him rather than Agnew.

Barring a trade, the Seahawks likely would spend their first-round choices on such players as linebackers Chris Singleton of Arizona and Darion Conner of Jackson State and cornerback James Williams of Fresno State.

Because there is a surplus of defensive backs, Seattle likely could land a quality safety in the second round.

If New England nixes all trade proposals and exercises the third choice, the Patriots will take linebacker Junior Seau of Southern Cal.

By dropping down, the Patriots would hope to draft Francis or Singleton along with quarterback Andre Ware of Houston. The Patriots are in dire need of quarterbacking but do not regard Ware as worthy of becoming the third choice.

The possible Seahawk-Patriot deal and questions about linebacker Keith McCants of Alabama make the top of the draft more than a little confusing.

Once regarded as the No. 1 choice, McCants fell out of favorbecause of poor testing at the combine camp, coupled with a knee problem that surfaced at the same time.

Because most teams apparently consider McCants a medical risk, he could drop far down in the first round unless Tampa Bay makes him the No. 4 pick. Buccaneer Coach Ray Perkins ``is not concerned'' about McCants' knee, a Tampa Bay source said, and probably will take McCants, whom he recruited at Alabama, even if Kennedy is available.

Drafting McCants would be a particularly gutsy gamble for Seattle, considering what has happened to Brian Bosworth, whose career may be finished because of physical problems.

Indianapolis already has signed quarterback Jeff George of Illinois, the top choice, to a $15 million contract. The New York Jets, picking second, are expected to take running back Blair Thomas of Penn State.

If Seattle makes its trade and takes Kennedy and Tampa Bay chooses McCants, Seau would drop to San Diego in the fifth spot. That would delight Charger General Manager Bobby Beathard. Otherwise, the Chargers would take offensive tackle Richmond Webb of Texas A&M.

As many as eight linebackers and seven or eight juniors are likely to be first-round choices.

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HAWK PICKS

Seattle choices in today's NFL draft:

Round 1: Eighth and 10th choice (from Indianapolis as part of Fredd Young trade).

Round 2: Ninth choice (34th overall).

Round 3: 10th choice (63rd).

Round 4: Ninth choice (90th).

Round 5: 10th choice (119th).

Round 6: Ninth choice (146th).

Round 7: 10th choice (175th).

Round 8: Ninth choice (202nd).

Round 9: Choice traded to Dallas in 1989 for OT Daryle Smith.

Round 10: Ninth choice (258th).

Round 11: 10th choice (287th).

Round 12: Ninth choice (314th).

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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