KFFL's NFL DRAFT NOTEBOOK - 04/12
by Ryan R. Bonini
Editor: William Del Pilar
The draft mood in San Diego will be somber this year, as general manager John Butler lost his battle with cancer on April 11, 2003. While his time in San Diego was far shorter than anyone ever imagined, Butler has made a large mark on the NFL over the years.
Butler joined the Buffalo Bills as the team's personnel director in 1987, after first serving as a scout for the Chargers in 1985. He went on to become Buffalo's general manager in 1993 and was in the team's front office for their record four straight trips to the Super Bowl (1991-1994). While the Bills lost all four of the games, nobody questioned his knack for talent evaluating.
During his short time with the Chargers, he's responsible for helping the start to the Chargers' turn-around and for bringing in QB Drew Brees, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and this year's off-season signing of WR David Boston.
While Butler will not be in the Chargers' war room this year, his mark on the NFL will not be forgotten.
DRAFT PROSPECT NEWS AND NOTES
LEFTWICH FINALLY WORKS OUT
After much anticipation, the workout for Marshall QB Byron Leftwich (ankle) finally took place. Leftwich worked out for several coaches and GMs on Monday. He did well on the mobility phase of the workout, which may set aside some doubts after he suffered a second broken ankle. Leftwich recorded a 4.85 40-yard dash, 4.50 in the short shuttle, and 7.71 in the 3-cone drill. He weighed in at 236 pounds down from last seasons 249. Leftwich measured 6'5" tall. He threw 70 passes on the day, all of which were from under center.
While the workout was solid, it probably wasn't good enough to over-take QB Carson Palmer (USC) as the No. 1 quarterback in this year's NFL Draft, which no one really expected to happen anyway. The Cincinnati Bengals, led by head coach Marvin Lewis, were in full-force at the workout. However, recent reports still have them leaning towards going with Palmer with the first-overall selection in this year's NFL Draft.
What Leftwich likely accomplished was securing the No. 2 role amongst this year's rookie QB crops, keeping him ahead of California's Kyle Boller, who has climbed the charts since the NFL Combine.
DRAFT PROSPECT TIDBITS
Miami (Fla.) RB Willis McGahee (knee) vowed he will be ready to play in 2003. "I know what I can do and I know how hard I'm working to get back," McGahee said. "I will play in 2003...period," in an interview on ESPN.
Oregon State CB/S Calvin Carlyle recently weighed in at 193 pounds, up five pounds from his Pro Day workout.
Florida State WR Talman Gardner was arrested Monday in Tallahassee, Florida on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession and a felony count of possession of a concealed and loaded handgun. Officials would not immediately say whether or not he had to post bond. Obviously not good timing for a player hopeful of being drafted later this month, especially with teams putting more and more weight on player's off-field behavior these days.
Kansas State LB Terry Pierce worked out on Saturday for the Kansas City Chiefs. He weighed in at 246 pounds. Pierce ran 4.77, 4.79 and 4.80 40-yard dash. He looked very sharp in position drills.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
ATLANTA FALCONS (No First Round Pick)
Defensive back continues to look like an area the Falcons will go at some point early in the draft. They've recently had pre-draft visits with CB Donald Strickland (Colorado), S/CB Colin Branch (Stanford) and S Todd Johnson (Florida). The recent re-signing of S Keion Carpenter (neck) could impact that need, but his neck problems from last year could force their hand on the issue ... WR Arnaz Battle (Notre Dame) has also had a pre-draft workout with the squad, but seeing the Falcons snag a receiver early would come as a surprise as they re-signed Brian Finneran and added WRs Peerless Price (via trade) and MarTay Jenkins (via free agency) during the off-season.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (No. 10 First Round Selection)
The Ravens have been busy looking at players from all ends of the spectrum. They were in full-force with head coach Brian Billick on hand at Marshall QB Byron Leftwich's workout earlier this month and it's no secret the Ravens would like to land a quarterback in the NFL Draft. Whether or not Leftwich or California's Kyle Boller is still on hand at that point won't be known until draft day ... In other visits, the team has had pre-draft visits with DT Aubrayo Franklin (Tennessee), DE Antwan Peek (Cincinnati), RB Rashard Lee (Middle Tennessee State), OG Montrae Holland (Florida State) and WR David Kircus (Grand Valley State).
CAROLINA PANTHERS (No. 9 First Round Selection)
According to reports, the Panthers will consider trading down if they can acquire additional picks through out the draft. Head coach John Fox said he's heard from many teams that are interested in moving up into the Panthers' first-round pick.
CHICAGO BEARS (No. 4 First Round Selection)
The Bears need a quarterback of the future. Heck, unless you're a big Kordell Stewart fan you'll probably argue they need a quarterback of the present. They've been busy looking at quarterback prospects, having representatives on hand at the workouts for QB Carson Palmer (USC), Byron Leftwich (Marshall) and Kyle Boller (California). If Leftwich is still available when the Bears pick in the first-round, as it currently appears he will be if they do not trade down, he could draw a lot of interest from Chicago ... The team has been impressed with DT Dewayne Robertson (Kentucky) and GM Jerry Angelo is excited about the possibility of adding him, noting that he's very explosive and can rush the passer from the inside.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (No. 1 Overall Selection)
The Bengals finally got their wish, as they were able to see quarterback Byron Leftwich (Marshall) workout. While he was solid in the workout, he wasn't spectacular. Thus, the team is reportedly ready to move on QB Carson Palmer (USC) as their top choice in this year's draft. The Bengals were well represented at Leftwich's workout, as head coach Marvin Lewis was on hand and Leftwich was throwing to Bengals WRs Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans during the drills.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (No. 21 Overall Selection)
The Browns had a pre-draft visit with West Virginia OT Lance Nimmo.
DALLAS COWBOYS (No. 5 Overall Selection)
The Cowboys do not appear to have interest in snagging a quarterback early in the draft despite the team having question marks in Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter. While the team could snag a quarterback after round one, they do not appear interested in Texas QB Chris Simms.
DETROIT LIONS (No. 2 Overall Selection)
The Lions appear to have a strong interest in WR David Kircus, of Grand Valley State. He arrived for a pre-draft visit in Detroit late in the week and everything went so well head coach Steve Mariucci asked him to stick around longer for additional private workouts. The Lions, in need of receiver help, still appear to have their heart set on Michigan State WR Charles Rogers at No. 2 overall. However, adding additional depth to the position would be a major plus during the NFL Draft ... The Lions are also looking at other prospects, having Kansas State CB Terence Newman and Penn State DT Jimmy Kennedy in town for pre-draft visits ... Linebacker is still somewhat of a need for the team, as they still need help at OLB. On the inside, they do appear set with recent free agent signings of Earl Holmes (Browns) and Wali Rainer (Jaguars).
GREEN BAY PACKERS (No. 29 Overall Selection)
In continued need of help at linebacker, the Packers worked out Kansas State LB Terry Pierce.
HOUSTON TEXANS (No. 3 First Round Selection)
The Texans need at running back has been slightly off-set with the recent addition of Stacey Mack, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Thus, the team probably will not focus on the position early in the draft. However, they have looked at Miami (Fl.) RB Willis McGahee (knee), as he had a pre-draft visit with the team on April 10 ... McGahee hasn't been the only big name player in town, as the Texans have looked at both WRs Charles Rogers (Michigan State) and Andre Johnson (Miami (Fl.)) recently. The Texans would like to upgrade their receiver position and one of these two former college standouts should be available for them when their turn at the podium comes up ... It doesn't stop there, as this team has plenty of areas they could use improvement at ... Kansas State CB Terence Newman, Arizona State DE Terrell Suggs, Utah OT Jordan Gross and Mt. Union CB Chris Kearn all visited with the team.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (No. 24 First Round Selection)
The Colts have had pre-draft visits with WR Arnaz Battle (Notre Dame), CB Tory Cox (Pittsburgh), CB Donald Strickland (Colorado) and DE/LB Robert Mathis (Alabama A&M).
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (No. 8 First Round Selection)
Jacksonville would love to land a quarterback to be their future leader and one player to keep an eye on is Marshall QB Byron Leftwich should he fall to the team in the first-round. The Jaguars had head coach Jack Del Rio on hand at Leftwich's recent workout ... The Jaguars have had pre-draft visits with WR Anquan Boldin (Florida State) and DE/LB Robert Mathis (Alabama A&M).
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (No. 16 First Round Selection)
Kansas City may need to look for a running back earlier in the draft than they had previously planned to. RB Priest Holmes (hip) is still battling through last year's hip injury and isn't delighted with his contract - a situation that could become very ugly as time goes along. With Mike Cloud, who backed up Holmes last year, an unrestricted free agent and out the first four games of the 2003 season due to a league suspension, the team may be forced to take a backup RB during the first few rounds ... In other news, the team has had a pre-draft visit with Nebraska WR Wilson Thomas.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (No First Round Selection)
Since the Dolphins do not have a first-round pick this year, they are once again focusing on smaller players that may be available to them later in the NFL Draft ... The Dolphins are reportedly close to landing LB Junior Seau, who is currently under contract with the San Diego Chargers. Such a move would likely cost them at least one pick in this year's NFL Draft.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (No. 7 First Round Selection)
The Vikings are still deciding whether or not to bring in NFL Draft prospects for pre-draft visits before the NFL Draft. With the team's brass now focused on the draft, the Vikings are expected to make that decision sometime in the upcoming week.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (No. 14 and 19 First Round Selections)
The Patriots are having fun scrounging through this year's weak running back class. As mentioned in this space last week, the team looked at Miami (Fl.) RB Willis McGahee (knee) and recently had Georgia RB Musa Smith in town for a pre-draft visit ... After the running back position, the Patriots are bouncing all around in their attempt to study upcoming rookies. They've looked at OT Reese Hicks (Georgetown College (KY)), WR Brandon Lloyd (Illinois), C Jeff Fain (Notre Dame) and LB Terry Pierce (Kansas State) ... Georgia DT Johnathan Sullivan is expected to meet with the team on the 14th of April.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (No. 17 and 18 First Round Selections)
The Saints are still busy trying to work out a trade with the Patriots for S Tebucky Jones. While it originally looked like they'd have to part ways with one of their first round picks, that no longer appears to be the case as the two sides are discussing mid-round picks for Jones. Such a move would open up the Saints' draft board, giving them a lot more flexibility come draft day ... On pre-draft visits, the team has met with OT George Foster (Georgia), DB Rashean Mathis (Bethune-Cookman) and DB Drayton Florence (Tuskegee) ... Holding onto their two first-round picks could help the Saints make a draft day move, as they're reportedly quite interested in Kentucky DT Dewayne Robertson and would be willing to trade up to land him.
NEW YORK GIANTS (No. 25 First Round Selection)
The Giants are reportedly most interested in landing defensive line help, as well as coming out of the draft with at least one offensive lineman, a cornerback and possibly a running back ... The recent addition of RB Dorsey Levens opens the door for the team to trade Ron Dayne. However, seeing that Dayne hasn't accomplished much since he's been in the NFL it's unlikely the Giants would land much more than a conditional pick for him.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (No. 31 First Round Selection)
The Raiders are interested in adding depth to their defensive backfield. With injury problems and age being an Achilles' heel for the squad at this area last year, it would come as no surprise to see Oakland acquire at least one or two defensive backs during the first day of the draft. They've had pre-draft workouts with CB Ade Jimoh (Utah State) and will be visiting with CB/S Calvin Carlyle (Oregon State) on April 15 ... The Raiders have also had a pre-draft workout with BYU OT Isaac Herring.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (No. 30 First Round Selection)
The Eagles have been interested in bettering their draft position by dealing backup QB A.J. Feeley. However, other teams aren't showing an interest in acquiring him thus far so the Eagles' plan to add additional picks - or simply move up - may not materialize ... The Eagles, who took Freddie Mitchell in the first round just two years ago, could be looking to use one of their two second round picks on a receiver this year ... The Eagles also remain very interested in landing a tight end, and could use their first round or one of their second round picks on one. TEs L.J. Smith (Rutgers) and Bennie Joppru (Michigan) remain the top options the team is interested in according to reports.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (No. 27 First Round Selection)
The Steelers have a Bus that's starting to be considered an antique. Thus, the team isn't against looking towards running backs in this year's NFL Draft. The team has shown interest in Penn State RB Larry Johnson. However, they may need to invest their first or second round pick in a quarterback of the future, which could limit their ability in landing Johnson, who is likely to go either late in the first-round or early in the second-round.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (No. 15 First Round Selection)
The Chargers had a pre-draft workout with WR David Kircus (Grand Valley State), DE/LB Robert Mathis (Alabama A&M) and plan to have CB/S Calvin Carlyle (Oregon State) in for a workout on April 17.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (No. 26 First Round Selection)
The 49ers may be starting to think long-term at the quarterback position. While QB Jeff Garcia has a few good years left in him, the team really is not sold on their backups as of yet. The team has representatives at Marshall QB Byron Leftwich's recent workout, but chances of him falling to San Francisco - barring them trading up to make a play for him - is unlikely ... The team had CB Tory Cox (Pittsburgh) in town for a pre-draft visit.
ST. LOUIS RAMS (No. 12 First Round Selection)
With their corners being depleted through free agency and age, the Rams had a pre-draft workout with Kansas State CB Terence Newman. Newman would be a very welcomed addition to the St. Louis secondary, but it's unlikely that he'll be available for the Rams at their current draft slot ... The Rams have had pre-draft visits with RB Onterrio Smith (Oregon), CB Chris Kern (Mt. Union), FB Jeremi Johnson (Western Kentucky), QB Josh Chapman (Missouri Southern) and DB Gary Anthony (Missouri).
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (No. 11 First Round Selection)
The Seahawks are expected to go defensive line - primarily defensive tackle - in the first-round. Additional defensive help, especially at defensive end, could be quite possible ... The Seahawks are also in need of a place kicker. They've been working players out left and right lately and appear to be settling in on former Charger kicker Wade Richey. If they don't land "Wide Right", they could be forced to look towards the draft to help fill that hole on the squad.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (No First Round Selection)
The Buccaneers had a pre-draft visit with LB Kawika Mitchell (South Florida) recently. However, with the recent signing of OLB Dwayne Rudd, formerly of the Browns, the Buccaneers need for linebacker help are no longer as significant.
TENNESSEE TITANS (No. 28 First Round Selection)
The Titans are showing an interest in DB Rashean Mathis (Bethune-Cookman), CB Dennis Weathersby (Oregon State), CB Eugene Wilson (Illinois), C Jeff Faine (Notre Dame), C Bruce Nelson (Iowa), OT Seth Wand (Northwest Missouri), WR Kevin Curtis (Utah State), WR Willie Ponder (Southeast Missouri), CB Sammy Davis (Texas A&M) and CB Andrew Woolfolk (Oklahoma).
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (No First Round Selection)
The Redskins lost another draft pick to the New York Jets, as they finally landed RB/KR Chad Morton after a long, drawn out saga. This time around, they've given up their fifth-round pick. Previously, the Redskins lost their first-round pick to the Jets as compensation for signing restricted free agent WR Laveranues Coles ... On the draft front, the Redskins were impressed with P Brooks Barnard (Maryland) and they've also worked out P Andy Groom (Ohio State) ... They've also looked at LS Ernie Andria (University of California in Pennsylvania).