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The long journey for many NFL Draft Prospects is just about over. Just a few weeks remain before the NFL Draft kicks off and all of the player's hard work either pays off or leaves them disappointed on draft day.
With just a few weeks remaining, players continue to have steady visits with teams. Teams continue to feel players out and evaluate them further during these meetings; many times going through game tapes to have a better understanding of what the players already know and to gauge how quickly they'll be able to be worked into their game plan.
Let's see how everything is playing out around the league entering the final few weeks of make-or-break time for prospects.
NFL DRAFT PROSPECT NEWS AND NOTES
Miami RB Willis McGahee (knee) believes he'll be at 100 percent come the start of the regular season this year, but his camp has been saying that all along. As we've mentioned numerous times, seeing that happen is quite unlikely because severe knee injuries like the one he had usually takes a full two-years - not nine months - to fully recover in football terms. As well ahead of schedule as everyone kept saying Edgerrin James was, it turned out he was a shadow of himself in 2003. Don't believe the rhetoric and not because McGahee can't do it but merely because history tells us otherwise.
While McGahee remains a big question mark because of his injury, teams are going to be looking at him quite closely. He recently had his first workout with the New England Patriots but continues to take it slowly with his recovery. He hasn't started cutting yet in order to give his knee the time it needs to heal. "My knee is doing great," McGahee said on Thursday, April 3. "Most likely I'll be ready by the start of the [NFL] season."
During his workout with the Patriots, he said he spent a lot of time looking at game tape and then caught some passes. However, what may be the most important news is that McGahee states he plans to stick with whatever team drafts him. Then again, that could just be him saying the right things at this time.
Speaking of the Patriots, this is a team that one needs to keep a close eye on when it comes to McGahee. With two first-round draft choices, they have the flexibility to take a gamble on McGahee early -- possibly as early as the first-round. The team hasn't made it a secret that RB Antowain Smith is not the answer long-term, but Smith is solid enough to be their feature back again in 2003 while they allow McGahee to recover at his own speed and to slowly come back within the two year framework that it normally takes to heal.
NFL DRAFT PROSPECT TIDBITS
Marshall QB Byron Leftwich (ankle) will have his first workout at Marshall next week. With Leftwich not being able to work out so far, his draft status for later this month is starting to become a big question. While he'll be selected, his high-first round grade is no longer a lock.
According to reports, Tennessee WR Kelley Washington's stock is on the rise after continued strong performances, including running a 4.42 and 4.41 40-yard dash. Washington will be part of a group of draft prospects who return to Indianapolis in April to be re-examined by doctors to check their progress. Washington, as noted numerous times, is recovering from neck surgery.
Arizona State DE Terrell Suggs plans to cooperate with police in their investigation of a fight. Suggs said he planned to meet with Phoenix police detectives. Gary Wichard, Suggs' agent, said the case is nothing more than self defense. This is just further problems for Suggs, who recently had a very sub-par workout for NFL teams. A poor workout, drop in weight plus an altercation that needed the police to be involved? You got it; it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math on this one. Suggs value on draft day likely just took another drop.
Stanford S Colin Branch is being looked at as both a first day cornerback and safety during the upcoming NFL Draft due to his previous times in the 40-yard dash and shuttle runs. During a workout at Stanford on Wednesday, April 2, Branch was clocked at 3.86 in the short shuttle and 6.60 in the three-cone drill.
Penn State RB Larry Johnson improved his draft stock by running a 4.4 40-yard dash. However, whether or not this will be able to lock up a first-round selection for him remains to be seen. Keep in mind that this is a very weak year for rookie RBs and Penn State doesn't have a rich history of successful NFL RBs. Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis to name a few. Through no fault of his own he has some hurdles to overcome.
Washington State DT Rien Long was clocked at 5.1 in the 40-yard dash, 7.09 in the three-cone drill, 4.47 in the short shuttle, 9-foot-0 1/2 broad jump and had a 29" vertical jump. He measured in at 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds.
Temple G Dave Yovanovits measured in at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds during a recent workout at Temple. He attracted attention from at least 12 teams and was clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.84 seconds.
University of Minnesota OL Jake Kuppe has lost over 20 pounds since his bowl game. He weighed in at 339 pounds on Wednesday, April 2.
Virginia Tech OL Anthony Davis measured in at 6-foot-4 1/4 and 318 pounds. He was clocked at 5.0 in the 40-yard dash, had a 4.7 short-shuttle, 8-foot-7 broad jump and a 28" vertical jump.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
ARIZONA CARDINALS (No. 6 Overall Selection)
The Cardinals had Arizona State DE Terrell Suggs in for a visit at the end of March. Suggs has gone to both college and high school in Arizona, so a marriage between the two teams could be likely. "I love Arizona," Suggs said. "I don't really want to leave and I think I'd fit perfect in the Cardinals organization." The Cardinals definitely need help on the defensive line and Suggs, due to poor workouts, is now very likely to be available when the Cardinals No. 6 selection comes up.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (No. 10 Overall Selection)
The Ravens have set up pre-draft visits with QB Kyle Boller (California), QB Curt Anes (Grand Valley State) and WR David Kircus (Grand Valley State). The team is reportedly quite interested in Boller, but with recent strong showings he may not be available to them at No. 10 overall.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (No. 9 Overall Selection)
The Panthers have had pre-draft visits with RB Chad Brinker (Ohio University) and OL Anthony Davis (Virginia Tech).
CHICAGO BEARS (No. 4 Overall Selection)
The Bears have had pre-draft visits set up with QB Kyle Boller (California), QB Curt Anes (Grand Valley State), WR David Kircus (Grand Valley State) and OT Dennis Wendel (Bowling Green).
CINCINNATI BENGALS (No. 1 Overall Selection)
The Bengals are having pre-draft visits with G Noah Swartz (Toledo) and C Dustin McQuivey (Utah).
CLEVELAND BROWNS (No. 21 Overall Selection)
Head coach Butch Davis wasn't happy with all the free agent players the team brought in on defense last year, which is part of the reason the Browns gutted their linebackers during the off-season. Now, Davis plans to build through the NFL Draft. Thus, seeing the Browns focus on defense heavily in the first-day would not be out of the question.
DALLAS COWBOYS (No. 5 Overall Selection)
According to reports, Dallas is looking to land a top-flight cornerback in the upcoming draft. However, Terence Newman (Kansas State) will more than likely be gone by their fifth-overall selection so the Cowboys are keeping tabs on Marcus Trufant (Washington State). The team isn't against trading down from the No. 5 spot, either, but they probably will not drop out of the top-ten in the draft.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (No. 29 Overall Selection)
The Packers will have a pre-draft visit with LB Kawika Mitchell (University of South Florida) and DE Tyler Brayton (Colorado).
HOUSTON TEXANS (No. 3 Overall Selection)
The Texans are looking for help at the receiver position, but whether or not they'll take one early in the first-round is anyone's guess at this point. Charles Rogers (Michigan State) isn't likely to be available when they draft, so they could look towards other options. One of them may be Tennessee WR Kelley Washington, who is going to have a pre-draft visit with the team.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (No. 16 Overall Selection)
The Chiefs want to upgrade their defensive line position and they may look that direction early in the draft. DEs Kevin Williams (Oklahoma State), Chris Kelsey (Nebraska) and Tyler Brayton (Colorado) have all visited with the team already. They've also expressed an interest in CB Andre Woolfork (Oklahoma), who should be available for them in the first-round.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (No First Round Selection)
The Dolphins will have a pre-draft visit with BYU OT Isaac Herring.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (No. 14 and 19 Overall Selections)
The Patriots, as mentioned previously, had a pre-draft visit with RB Willis McGahee (Miami). Seeing the Patriots gamble with him early in the draft would not come as a surprise, as the team would not need to rely on him this year. If he's ready to play at some point, that's a major bonus ... Georgia LB Boss Bailey said he'd be very interested in landing in New England.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (No. 17 and 18 Overall Selections)
The Saints are interested in landing CB Marcus Trufant (Washington State), but the team would have to figure out a way to trade up if they want to land him. With two picks in the first-round, the team has the ammunition necessary to move around on draft day if they find another team willing to move.
NEW YORK JETS (No. 13 and 22 Overall Selections)
The Jets, owners of two picks in the first round, would like to wheel and deal to move up if they can. According to recent reports, the team now has a strong interest in WR Andre Johnson (Miami) ... The Jets will have a pre-draft visit with CB Rhett Nelson (Colorado), OT Scott Kooistra (North Carolina State) and OL Anthony Davis (Virginia Tech).
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (No. 30 Overall Selection)
The Eagles are having a pre-draft visit with DE Tyler Brayton (Colorado), who could still be available for them near the end of the first-round of the draft. The team is in need of upgrading their defensive line - especially at defensive end - after losing DE Hugh Douglas to free agency earlier this year.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (No. 27 Overall Selection)
The Steelers worked out QB Rex Grossman (Florida) during a pre-draft visit at the beginning of the month. The team is looking for a rookie QB that can be brought aboard and groomed for future success.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (No. 26 Overall Selection)
The 49ers are about to give WR J.J. Stokes his walking papers, already giving him the ability to seek out a trade with another team. If that doesn't come about, he'll be released by the team later this summer. Thus, the 49ers are in need of depth at receiver. Both WRs Terrell Owens and Tai Streets are eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring, so building some depth at the receiver position should be a major priority for the team right now ... In other draft related news, the team will have DE Tyler Brayton (Colorado) in town for a pre-draft visit.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (No First Round Selection)
The Redskins seem to be interested in upgrading their special teams through the draft. P Andy Groom (Ohio State) worked out for the team recently and they've showed an ongoing interest in him the last few months. They also had P Brooks Barnard (Maryland) in for a workout recently ... Also on the special teams front, LS Ernie Andria, from the University of California in Pennsylvania, recently had a pre-draft visit with the Redskins ... There remains a chance that KR/RB Chad Morton (Jets) could wind up in Washington despite the Jets matching the offer sheet to him. It appears that the Jets did not match all of the specific terms of the offer-sheet, so the NFL continues to review the situation. If they decide against the Jets, Morton would wind up joining the Redskins after all.