News and Notes from the NFL Draft

After all the hype that surrounded the Tennessee players in the draft, all that hype turned to questions as Jason Witten and Kelley Washington fell far beyond where they were expected to be taken. Washington already is getting expectations heaped upon him.

*Cincy expects big things of KW

New Bengal and former Vol Kelley Washington will be used as a compliment to budding star Chad Johnson. Bengals officials timed Washington at 4.35 - 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. And at 6-2, 215 he has size that will give him some advantage over smaller defenders.

But that doesn't mean even Washington will be thrust into a starting role. "I don't think we're going to say that anyone is going to be an immediate starter," offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said of Washington. "I do expect him to challenge for a starting position."

*Moore not wildly popular pick in Miami

Miami's decision to use its second-round pick on a linebacker Eddie Moore in Saturday's draft wasn't a particularly popular decision among the team's fan base that had hoped for a player that could make a more immediate impact. The Dolphins, though, were rebuffed in their efforts to make a bigger splash when unable to trade into the first round.

"We (offered) everything we could without selling the farm," Dolphins Senior Vice President Rick Spielman said. "A couple of the teams we talked to, it was ridiculous what they were asking for. It didn't work out, but we were on the phone for four hours straight trying to get something done in the first round." Since it didn't, the Dolphins seemingly drafted for the future with its first three picks.

Moore, a two-year starter at Tennessee who has played all three linebacker spots, isn't expected to compete for a starting spot but the Dolphins hope his speed will help him become a key contributor on special teams. Miami needed to find depth at linebacker with Rodgers on his way out after the recent acquisition of Junior Seau and the off-season departures of backups Twan Russell (Atlanta) and Scott Galyon (retired).

The Dolphins also were concerned that a top linebacker might not be available in the third round. Those fears were justified when linebackers were chosen by other teams in three of the next four slots.

"He was the highest rated player on the board at a position where we had a need," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He's a smart guy who can run. He fits the mold of what we like as a linebacker with a lot of athletic ability."

*Henry Upset with McGahee pick

The Buffalo Bills made headlines with the unlikely selection of injured star Miami running back Willis McGahee in the first round of the NFL draft. They also stirred up controversy in the locker room. Travis Henry, the Bills' second-round pick in 2001 who blossomed into a Pro Bowler last season with 1,438 yards and 13 touchdowns, called the pick "a slap in the face."
"I was shocked," he said. "You don't draft a running back in the first round to be a backup. Maybe they are trying to tell me something. I don't know. I'm at a loss for words." The Bills claim they weren't sending any message to Henry, who has had fumble problems in his young pro career. Taking McGahee was merely a rare chance to get a player who would've been a top five pick - perhaps even the No. 1 overall choice - had he not ripped his knee apart in the national title game Jan. 3 against Ohio State.

"There's no message sent to Travis Henry," coach Gregg Williams said. "(I'm) a fan of Travis Henry and he's done very well. (But) we've improved our football team by adding another strong character athlete and a person we feel was one of the top two or three picks in this draft. We think we've got a very good player, when he's ready to play, to help us win football games."

Henry indicated he would not have signed it had he known the Bills were thinking about taking McGahee. "I don't understand the pick," Henry said. "I know that competition makes everyone better, so it should be a lot of fun in practice. But I felt I like I proved what I could last year." Donahoe clearly isn't concerned about Henry's feelings.

"The best thing for any football team is competition," he said. "It doesn't make any difference on paper what you have. The competitive aspect is going to bring out the best in your people. Those questions always settle themselves."

*Ravens happy to get Franklin

In need of a prospect to man the nose tackle position in their 3-4 defense, the Ravens may have found one Sunday in Aubrayo Franklin.

"He's a big, strong guy, real strong in the lower-body," Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan said. "He plays some real good technique, coming from Tennessee and we really like Aubrayo Franklin. He came in for a visit and we're happy that he was available when we picked him."

Baltimore director of player personnel Phil Savage said Franklin was one of the only true nose guard prospects in this draft. Savage has long been praised for his excellence in evaluating players in later rounds. He is widely regarded as one of, if not the best in the league.

*Volunteer free agent signings:
Steven Marsh- Tennessee Titans
Omari Hand- San Diego Chargers
Leonard Scott- Pittsburgh Steelers
Will Ofenheusle- New York Jets


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