First-round projection

Mel Kiper Jr. predicts Houston will take North Carolina DE Julius Peppers with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Updated: February 4, 2002, 12:57 PM ET
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Jan. 14
In my initial first-round projection of the 2002 NFL draft, North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers will be the first-ever selection for the Houston Texans.

However, I envision trade possibilities for the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Because the Panthers already have a quarterback in Chris Weinke, I can see them trying to move up to get Peppers, who would be an ideal fit, thus allowing the Texans to still land Oregon's Joey Harrington as their franchise quarterback.

The Lions, meanwhile, already have young offensive linemen like Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola, whom they drafted last season. They could trade down, making a deal with another team that is eager to move up and get Miami's Bryant McKinnie as their left tackle.

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