NFL DRAFT: Crowder Plans To Go Fishing On Saturday

Channing Crowder won't be spending his Saturday glued to the television waiting to hear his name called in the National Football League Draft. He knows that at some point he'll get the call that he's been drafted, but he's not really worried about where he's going.

"It's all out of my hands," said Channing Crowder in a telephone conversation Tuesday evening. "I know someone's going to take me but where I'm going, I can't say. I'm not going to worry about it."

Instead of biting nails and taking an anxiety trip to nowhere, Crowder's going to spend his Saturday fishing for bass with his brother.

"I'm going to enjoy the day with my brother," he said. "If something happens that's good, I'll have my cell phone with me and I'll get a call."

While Mel Kiper Jr. says that Crowder may slip as far as the fourth round because of concerns about his knees and some off the field issues. Crowder's been checked out by the renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham. The character issues may scare off some teams, but not most. One of the west coast teams that worked Crowder out basically told him as long as he hasn't done anything that would put him in prison (he hasn't) and as long as he's not wasted on drugs (he isn't) and can play football (he can), then that's all that they will worry about.

Crowder is being projected by some in Boston as the last pick of the first round by the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Crowder has spent a lot of time with the Patriots since February and he's developed a good relationship with Coach Bill Bellichek. With so much uncertainty regarding the career of insider linebacker Teddy Bruschi, who suffered a mini-stroke in the offseason, Patriots followers believe that Crowder would be an ideal fit. Crowder is 6-2, 245, with excellent speed and instincts to pursue the ball.

Crowder's from Atlanta and last week the Falcons had him up for a two-day workout. The Indianapolis Colts have also shown a lot of interest. Early on, the Green Bay Packers spent a lot of time with Crowder and they even brought him up to Green Bay for some personal workouts. The defensive coordinator for the Packers is former UF defensive coordinator Jim Bates, father of James Bates, the Gators middle linebacker in the 1996 championship season.

The two teams to watch closely are the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots. Ever since the Packers showed the early interest in Crowder, they've kept pretty quiet on the surface but they've maintained contact with Channing and the vibes are pretty positive. The Patriots were considering bundling a couple of reserves to move down to get Crowder, but if Green Bay doesn't take Channing at number 24, then he should be available with the last pick of the first round.

If the Patriots and Packers pass, a good bet would probably be the defense starved Colts in the second round. As for Crowder, he doesn't care where he is selected or by whom. He just wants a chance to play.

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When Ciatrick Fason announced he was going to forego his senior year at Florida for the NFL Draft, he was projected as a possible first rounder but a sure second-rounder. Now most experts are figuring early third to early fourth.

There are a ton of reasons being offered as to why Fason's stock has dropped. The most prevalent is that he was a one-season wonder but the folks who offer that argument must not have seen him the second half of 2003. Once Fason got his hands on the ball regularly, he made things happen.

I think there are a couple of reasons Fason isn't considered first round material. The first reason is that there are a lot of good running backs available and unless the back is a surefire starter as a rookie, there's no need to waste a first round choice on a running back.

Secondly, I don't think that Fason is a great workout guy. I know he's not a great practice player and having seen his pro day workout at UF, I am convinced he's not a very good player unless it's a real game. There are a lot of players like that over the years who just didn't do well in practice or in workouts, but once the lights were on and everything counted, they were suddenly very good. Jim Brown was a terrible practice player but he's probably the best or at least the second best running back in the history of the NFL. And some of the great workout warriors turn out to be horrible in the league. A name that comes to mine at a position other than running back is Kelly Stouffer, a quarterback out of Colorado State who wowed them at the combine a few years back. Stouffer could wow them in practice, too, but when the game counted, he was horrible.

I'm expecting C4 to go in the third round. If he's in the right circumstance and they judge him by what he does in real games instead of practice, someone's going to get a steal here.

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The only other Gator with a chance to be selected will be offensive guard Mo Mitchell. If he is selected it will be in the sixth or seventh round by some team convinced that it can motivate the big guy to shed the tonnage.

Mitchell was told in January that if he showed up at pro day under 350 that he could expect to be selected no worse than the fourth round. At that time, Mo was a svelte 360. He had two months to drop 10 pounds, but when pro day arrived he was well over 370. If he manages to get drafted, he will have to show that he is willing to get serious about his weight or else he will last about two weeks in training camp and then see his pro career ended quite unceremoniously.

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We're hearing that Matt Walsh will definitely be back at Florida next year. We were hearing that before Friday's announcement that Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams from North Carolina would bolt for the NBA. An already crowded draft board became downright cluttered when those three announced. The other thing that happened with that announcement is NCAA champ North Carolina went from top tier in the ACC to a team that will be fortunate to make the NIT. Carolina returns one player who even started a game from the championship team.

Walsh has been working out and learning a lot about his game. He's got some positive direction about what he needs to do to become draftable next season. He'll have a chance to prove that he's a go-to guy as a scorer for the Gators next season and he'll have to be consistent now that David Lee and Anthony Roberson won't be around to share the scoring load.

If Corey Brewer develops an offensive game over the summer, he and Walsh could be a dynamite duo. Spiderman has serious hops and he's got the quick first step that will allow him to get to the hoop. Toward the end of the season he started showing some consistency with his jump shot. If the jumper comes around in the summer, he could be a good one next year.

Nothing out of the Keith Brumbaugh camp right now that indicates what he is going to do. He keeps saying that he's got an interest in Southern Cal and Florida as his college choices, but he has yet to publicly rule out the NBA Draft. There is nothing positive about the 6-9 forward from DeLand in NBA circles at the moment.

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