Roy Williams, Horns Poised For NFL Draft

Meet WR <B>Roy Williams</B>, America's newest millionaire. NFL scouts have salivated over the ridiculously gifted wideout for years and, now that his stock has risen even higher following last month's Pro Timing Day at UT, Williams is projected to be a Top Five pick when the NFL holds its annual Draft Saturday.

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"Roy has emerged as one of the top players in the Draft," head coach Mack Brown said. "We feel like he'll be a real early first pick. He's by far the best receiver that we've ever coached, but he may be the best player in the country. We saw that on a day-to-day basis; other people are starting to see it now that didn't see us play a lot."

ESPN.com lists Williams as the No. 3 prospect overall, second only to Pitt WR Larry Fitzgerald and Mississippi QB Eli Manning. San Diego has the first pick in the Draft, followed by Oakland, Arizona, New York Giants and Washington (as a Cowboy fan, I am screaming, 'Any place but Washington').

Williams absolutely blew away NFL personnel on hand for Pro Timing Day. They not only see Williams as a prototypical WR with all the tools to become an impact player, but also as a personable, mature young man with a coachable demeanor. (Then again, those who got to spend time talking with Roy the past few seasons already knew that. The only thing that rings hollow is that during the next couple of years, Orangebloods should consistently see in Williams what we teasingly saw in at Texas: a devastatingly dominant wideout that could dictate the flow of the game.)

DT Marcus Tubbs' stock may be rising and will likely supplant CB Nathan Vasher as the first Longhorn defensive player taken off the board. Despite his 26.1 percent body fat figure (the highest of any of the DTs tested at the NFL Combine in February), the perception is that Tubbs moves well for his size (6-4, 321) and that NFL coaches are far more likely to get Tubbs into playing shape that Jeff (Mad Dog) Madden ever could. Defensively, there is nothing sexier to a NFL scout than a DT with size and speed. The word is that Tubbs definitely has the size and possesses deceptive speed and will likely be an early- to mid-Second Round pick.

"Any time you've got a 300 (plus) pound defensive lineman who can run a 4.9 or better," Brown said, "that makes it really special."

Scouts may decide that Vasher lacks the size (5-10) and durability to go any higher than the early Third Round. Yet the 2003 Thorpe Award semifinalist is a multi-faceted talent after tying the school's career interception record and breaking Texas' all-time punt return mark. Vasher also has a knack for proving doubters wrong. When Roy Williams saw Vasher for the first time as a freshman, Williams said he couldn't believe Texas had offered him a scholarship. ("He was very sorry," Williams recalled, remembering how Vasher fell down during one-on-one drills.) Williams has since hailed Vasher as the best college cornerback in the nation.

The most intriguing scenario, from a Longhorn perspective, is the draft status of FL B.J. Johnson. The 5-11 flanker, who probably would have been an All-American had he gone to a Florida school, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left tibia in February. As such, he missed out on the NFL testing due to the injury. There was also a Houston Chronicle report last month that said Johnson rankled some NFL brass when he allegedly kept "whining" about the injury at Pro Timing Day.

If scouts deem him healthy, Johnson should go in the mid-to-late rounds.

What might have been for DE Kalen Thornton? I recently went back and watched my videotape of the 2000 Texas-Texas A&M game (spring training ended just three weeks ago and I've already got football withdrawals) and he absolutely dominated the line in that Longhorn rout. But Thornton never consistently regained the explosiveness he possessed early in his career following successive knee injuries. How concerned are NFL scouts about those knees? Consider this: Thornton did not receive a Combine invite.

Thornton, like WR Sloan Thomas, are (at best) late picks. Otherwise, they become some of the more intriguing free agent prospects. This is also the case for safety Dakarai Pearson, another one of those undersized Texas DBs (5-10) who earned a starting nod as a freshman but was sidelined with a shoulder injury midway through his senior season.

"I think we've got some good players like Dakarai Pearson, guys that got hurt, that people don't know as much about that may make teams because they used to have 12 rounds in the Draft and now they have seven," Brown said. "If a guy's not drafted, he'll have a chance to be able to make a team."

Little used TE Brock Edwards has the size (6-4, 250) and the nasty attitude to probably land somewhere as someone's undrafted free agent. LB Reed Boyd, a finance major, should make a fine financial analyst some day, but he also may get a free agent look.

The NFL Draft will be televised live on ESPN/ESPN2 starting Saturday morning.


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