The draft got underway with an opening round that required more than six hours to complete and saw a record-equaling five players chosen from the Miami Hurricanes.
Seven defensive linemen were taken in the first round, six defensive backs and six offensive linemen. The Big East Conference led the way with eight players selected and six were chosen from the Southeastern Conference. But four of the first six came from either Texas or North Carolina.
Carr and Harrington were considered to be neck-and-neck in the draft derby last month, but the Texans made no secret as to their preference and officially coronated the Fresno State quarterback as the first pick.
"This is what you dream about," Carr said. "Although it was expected, it's still exciting. Not many people believed a quarterback from Fresno State could be the No. 1 pick in the draft but that just shows you what hard work can do for you."
In an unprecedented move, Houston general manager Charley Casserly announced two weeks ago that Carr would be the Texans' top choice and started negotiations with Carr's agent Mike Sullivan.
Carr, 22, has reached an agreement with Houston on a seven-year contract that is similar to the one structured by Sullivan for Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons. Carr will receive a signing bonus of more than $10 million and a guaranteed payout of $16.25 million in the first three years of the deal. Vick got a guaranteed $15.3 million in the first three seasons of his contract.
In total, Carr's deal is worth at least $46 million with escalator clauses that could raise it to $60 million.
Carr led the nation in passing yards (4,839) and touchdowns (46), top become only the sixth quarterback in history to throw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a season. He threw for 10 300-yard games as a senior, topping it off with a 531-yard, four touchdown performance against Michigan State in the Silicon Valley Bowl.
At 6-3, Carr has the ideal size, a strong arm and a quick release. However, his delivery is sort of sidearm, drawing comparisons to Brett Favre.
Carr became the fourth quarterback in the last five years to be selected No. 1 overall, following Peyton Manning (1998), Tim Couch (1999) and Vick.
While Carr has already moved his wife and son to Houston, Harrington had no clue where he was headed and did not even attend Saturday's draft festivities.
But after the Carolina Panthers selected hometown favorite Julius Peppers of North Carolina second overall, the Lions jumped on Harrington.
It was somewhat surprising since Lions Coach Marty Mornhinweg and president Matt Millen did not indicate they would take Harrington. The 6-4 Harrington appears to be an ideal fit in Mornhinweg's West Coast offense. He does not have a strong arm, but sets up quickly and is accurate on the intermediate throws.
Carolina had just 26 sacks last season and its defense ranked last in the NFL in defense.
The 6-6, 283-pound Peppers has prototype size and speed with a huge wingspan. He had 9 1/2 sacks, 19 tackles for losses and three interceptions last season for North Carolina. But the rap on him is that he does not play consistently hard on every down.
"I'm not worried about that," Peppers said. "I know I can play at this level and I'm going to prove it."
The top five selections were rounded out by Buffalo taking offensive tackle Mike Williams of Texas and San Diego choosing another Texas player, cornerback Quentin Jammer.
The remainder of the top 10 were defensive tackle Ryan Sims of North Carolina (to Kansas City), offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie of Miami (to Minnesota), safety Roy Williams of Oklahoma (to Dallas), defensive tackle John Henderson of Tennessee (to Jacksonville) and offensive tackle Levi Jones of Arizona State (to Cincinnati).
It was no surprise that Dallas Cowboys owner and president Jerry Jones consummated the first trade of the day. Continuing his trend of trading down, Jones moved from sixth to eighth in the first round and received a third-round pick this year and a sixth-rounder in 2003 from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil identified North Carolina's Ryan Sims as the best defensive tackle in the draft and made sure he got him with the sixth pick. Minnesota had been prepared to take Sims with the No. 7 selection.
The Cowboys were able to extract extra picks and selected the player they wanted all along -- Williams.
The Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only teams without a first-round pick. The Dolphins sent the 25th overall selection to the New Orleans Saints in a trade for running back Ricky Williams.
The Buccaneers paid a far heavier price to lure Coach Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders, parting with first- and second-round picks this year, a No. 1 in 2003 and a second-rounder in 2004 along with $8 million.
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