Tony Boselli will serve as the cornerstone for a second expansion franchise as the Houston Texans built their nucleus around eight high-priced players in Monday's NFL expansion draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens viewed the draft as a salary cap dumping ground and the Texans were more than willing to take advantage of the situation.
A five-time Pro Bowl left tackle, Boselli was the first-ever pick of the Jaguars in 1995.
On Monday, the Texans made him the No. 1 pick in the expansion draft.
"Tony Boselli is a Hall of Famer," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said. "No one can argue with making your first pick a player that has been to five Pro Bowls.
"He's a high character individual and a great football player."
The Texans also plucked starting defensive tackles Gary Walker and Seth Payne from the Jaguars, who were nearly $23 million US over the salary cap, and right tackle Ryan Young and starting cornerbacks Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman from the New York Jets, who were more than $16 million US over the cap.
Houston selected outside linebacker Jamie Sharper and two-time Pro Bowl returner Jermaine Lewis from the Ravens, who are more than $20 million US over the salary cap.
After spending close to $36 million US on the 2002 salary cap for their first eight picks -- all from Jacksonville, the Jets and Baltimore -- the Texans used less than $5 million US for their next 11 picks.
"We treated this draft like this was our free agent crop," said Texans head coach Dom Capers, who coached the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995.
"I know there wasn't the calibre of players that we selected with the first eight picks available in my last expansion draft."
Boselli, who turns 30 on April 17, underwent surgery last October to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and has a salary cap number of $6.88 million US for the 2002 season.
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver admitted that exposing Boselli in the draft was the "most agonizing and distasteful move" he ever had to make.
Yet given the state of Jacksonville's cap situation, Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin called the move "unavoidable."
Ironically, the Texans and Jaguars will be division rivals in the AFC South.
"At Jacksonville, I was with a franchise from the ground up and we built a winning team and it was a lot of fun," Boselli said. "I know here we want to be the best we can as soon as possible."
A dominant run blocker at 6-7, 322 pounds, Boselli allowed just 14 1/2 sacks in his seven-year career at left tackle with the Jaguars.
Houston will count on Boselli to provide a running game and protect the quarterback, perhaps Fresno State's David Carr -- the possible first pick in the April draft.
After being selected with the second overall pick in the 1995 draft, Boselli made the Pro Bowl five consecutive years from 1996-2000 and was named to the NFL All-Decade second team.
Capers was a former defensive coordinator with the Jaguars in 1999 and 2000 so it was no surprise when the Texans selected Walker, who played in his first Pro Bowl earlier in the month, with the fourth pick and Payne with the eighth pick.
Walker turns 29 on February 28 and carries a salary cap charge of $5.25 million US in 2002, $6.3 million US in 2003 and $6.49 million US in 2004.
He was named to his first Pro Bowl this past season after recording 7 1/2 sacks.
The 6-2, 305-pound Walker started his seven-year NFL career with the Houston Oilers in 1995 before the franchise relocated to Tennessee.
Payne, who turned 27 last week, will make $2.775 million US in 2002.
A five-year veteran, Payne had a career-high five sacks along with 40 tackles last season.
After taking Boselli with the first pick, the Texans selected Young with the second overall selection to provide them with bookend tackles.
Young, who turns 26 in June, was perhaps the most curious player left available in the expansion draft since he started the last 40 games at right tackle for the New York Jets and will make just $563,000 US in 2002.
"I'm excited to be mentioned along with a player like Tony Boselli," Young said. "I was surprised to be available (in the draft), but I just want to play here a long time."
With Glenn and Coleman both from the Texas area, Houston could not pass up the chance to take New York's cornerback tandem.
The Texans took Glenn, a two-time Pro Bowler in 1997 and 1998, with the third overall selection and Coleman seventh overall.
"I don't know what they (the Jets) were thinking, but it's a fantastic opportunity for me and Marcus to come back home," Glenn said.
A native of Humboldt, Texas, who turns 30 in July, Glenn will make $8 million US in 2002.
He has started 120 of 121 regular season games in his eight years with the Jets.
A club can pull back a player from its unprotected list each time one of its players is selected, but the Jets did not exercise that option and the Texans took Coleman as well.
Coleman, who played at Texas Tech and turns 28 in May, has a salary cap figure of $5.48 million US in 2002.
He has been a starter at right cornerback for the last two seasons for the Jets and led the team with 14 passes defensed in 2001.
"We're delighted to get two 300-pounders to play the defensive line and two starting cornerbacks from a winning team," Capers said.
Sharper, a starter at outside linebacker with the Ravens since his 1997 rookie season, was selected fifth overall and will be an integral part of Houston's 3-4 defensive scheme under Capers.
"I'm looking forward to bringing a hard-nosed defense to Houston," Sharper said. "I played on a great one in Baltimore and I'm looking forward to doing the same things in Houston."
Sharper, 27, is entering the second year of a five-year, $22.5 million US contract and carries a salary cap figure of $2.875 million US in 2002.
The 6-3, 240-pound Sharper was second on the Ravens with 135 tackles last season and had a career-high 5 1/2 sacks.
The Ravens also lost Lewis, who has a salary cap figure of $4.29 million US in 2002.
Known as a prolific returner, the 27-year-old Lewis will get more of an opportunity as a receiver with Houston.
He finished third in the AFC with a 12.4-yard punt return average and second in the conference with a 24.7-yard kick return average last season.
In the divisional playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Lewis returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown.
Danny Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, was the only quarterback selected by the Texans.
With high-priced quarterbacks such as Rob Johnson, Chris Chandler, Charlie Batch and Jeff Blake available, the Texans took Wuerffel from the Chicago Bears with the 17th overall pick.
Wuerffel will make just $556,000 US in 2002.
Wuerffel, who turns 28 in May, led the Rhein Fire to the World Bowl championship in 2000.
He won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year at Florida and threw for a Southeastern Conference record 114 touchdowns.
The Texans took five offensive linemen, selecting guards Matt Campbell from the Washington Redskins, Jeremy McKinney from the Cleveland Browns and Ryan Schau from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Houston also selected reserve safety Matt Stevens from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, linebacker Brian Allen from the NFC champion St. Louis Rams, returner Charlie Rogers from the Seattle Seahawks, defensive end Jabari Issa from the Arizona Cardinals, receiver Avion Black from the Buffalo Bills, tight end/long snapper Sean McDermott from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fullback/tight end Johnny Huggins from the Dallas Cowboys.
Along with passing on the high-priced quarterbacks, the Texans also did not select five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jessie Armstead of the New York Giants and receiver Keenan McCardell of the Jaguars.
But that was not surprising since Casserly said he would not take players that were over 30 years of age.
Both Armstead and McCardell are 32.
Houston had the option of selecting 30 players or between 12 and 24 players as long as the salaries totaled at least 38 percent of the $72 million US salary cap.