The Hawks must also re-up with Robbie Tobeck (Kilgore) because good centers are hard to find even if this one is 35 years old.
Kansas City added some defense to its portfolio with the signing of ILB Kendrell Bell.
Injuries have hampered the ex-Middle Georgia ace recently and the Steelers gave up on him, but there is plenty of blitzing left on his 6-1, 257 frame. The Chiefs will love his speed and QB-chasing ability.
Demorrio Williams (Kilgore) is ready to take over as starting OLB with the Atlanta Falcons. Williams showed what he could do playing for Nebraska and has improved in his two pro seasons. Betcha the Carolina Panthers can hardly wait for Steve Smith to get back on the playing field. The former Santa Monica Corsair was becoming one of the NFL's elite receivers last season when he went down with a broken leg. With Muhsin Muhammad gone the Panthers need Smith at his best.
Wow, did T.J. Houshmandzadeh's (Cerritos) stock ever go sky high after his fine 2004 season. Every team that had even a slight need for a WR was interested in signing the lanky lad from Southern California. Fortunately for the Bengals, T.J. is back, having resigned for a big and well-earned raise. He makes a great running mate for another ex-JC, Chad Johnson, who played at Santa Monica. (The corsairs have 3 former players in the pros and all are wide receivers. That would be Smith, Johnson and the ageless Isaac Bruce).
Doug Gabriel (Miss. Gulf Coast) had a breakout year with the Oakland Raiders, catching passes and returning kicks. The Bengals got another major commitment from Butler's Rudi Johnson, who inked a new 5-year pact and is certainly one of the top running backs in the NFL.
Here is hoping the New York Giants go back to throwing the ball to Jeremy Shockey (Northeastern Oklahoma). The big tight end, aside from real blocking skills, can run routes and catch the ball like a wide-receiver. The chiefs are toying with the idea of moving William Bartee (Butler) from CB to safety.
Seattle has a couple of former JC stars that just have not had a real chance to prove themselves on the pro level. That would be Maurice Morris, (Fresno) at RB behind Shaun Alexander and QB Seneca Wallace (Sacramento) jammed up behind Hasselbeck. Last I heard Taco Wallace, a fine WR with Mt. San Antonio a couple of years ago, is waiting in the wings as well.
New head coach Romeo Crennel is thinking about switching Orpheus Roye (N.W. Miss.) from tackle to end in the 3-4 defense for the Browns. Fred Smoot (Hinds), one of the better young CBs in the NFL, should be invaluable to Mike Tice after signing with the Minnesota Vikings. He did well with the Redskins, but it seemed obvious that he would relish a change. Ex-CCSF safety Gibril Wilson proved to be a speedy playmaker for the Giants in his rookie year and should soon be on the Pro Bowl squad.
New England's Super Bowl MVP was none other than ex-Jones County JC star Deion Branch, who grabbed 11 catches for 133 yards. Branch proved you don't have to be tall to make it in the pros. He's just 5-9, but weighs a solid 193 and is very quick. Of course Corey Dillon (Dixie and Garden City) showed what he could do with the football given a solid blocking Patriot front line.
Javon Walker (Jones County) has become one of the league's premier wide-receivers and is Brett Favre's go-to guy on the Packers.
Reuben Droughns (Merced) has been traded from the Denver Broncos to the Cleveland Browns for DE Ebennezer Ekuban nd DT Michael Myers. Droughns had a great season rushing for 1,240 yards and catching 32 passes for 241, but was facing a crowded backfield situation if Mike Anderson (Mt. San Jacinto) recovered from injuries.
Cornerback Juran Bolden (Miss. Delta) will be playing for his sixth NFL team since entering the league in 1996 after signing with Tampa Bay. Juran has been beset with injuries most of his career, but is known as a fierce tackler. Hello Arizona. Look for Palomar alum Chris Cash to handle starting chores for the Lions this year. He missed most of '03 with an injury, but came back strong last season. Lance Schulters (Nassau) should make a giant comeback from injuries and be a huge help in the Titans secondary this year.
The Lions have big plans for former Morrisville LB Alex Lewis and Pittsburgh likewise with Richard Colclough (Trinity Valley) who came over to play DB from little Tuculum College after his two years at TVC.
The NFL Draft is being held on April 22nd and 23rd, and as usual a number of JC alums will get picked. Here are some names to look out for come draft day:
QB Aaron Rodgers, California/Butte College – May be the #1 pick overall.
QB Walter Washington, Temple/Dodge City CC
QB Ben Dougherty, Florida A&M/North Iowa Area College
WR Larry Brackins, Pearl River CC – Bypassing college (Fla. State) for the draft.
WR Chauncey Stovall, Fla. State/Hinds
TE Kevin Everett, Miami/Kilgore
TE Garrett Cross, California/Butte College
TE Victor Sesay, Missouri/Ventura College
TE Tony Curtis, Portland State/Fresno CC
TE Greg Estandia, UNLV/Moorpark College
OL Cory Lekkerkerker, Cal-Davis/Chaffey College
OL Michael Watson, West Virginia/Pasadena CC
OL Joe Vaughn, Kansas/NE Oklahoma A&M
RB JJ Arrington, California/College of the Canyons – Should go in the first 3 rounds.
RB Brandon Jacobs, S. Illinois/Coffeyville CC – Signed with Auburn then transferred to SIU.
RB Kay-Jay Harris, West Virginia/Garden City CC
RB Damien Nash, Missouri/Coffeyville CC
RB Marty Johnson, Utah/Butte College
RB Earl Charles, Marshall/Fresno CC
FB Justin Green, Montana/San Diego Mesa College
DT Atiyyah Ellison, Missouri/Coffeyville CC
DT Darrell Shropshire, S. Carolina/Coffeyville CC
DT A.J. Lindsay, Temple/Joliet JC
DE Chauncey Davis, Fla. State/Jones County CC
DE Ryan Riddle, California/El Camino
LB Lance Mitchell, Oklahoma/CCSF
LB Marcus Lawrence, S. Carolina/Butler CC
CB Cedrick Williams, Kansas St./Garden City CC
CB Chris McKenzie, Arizona St./Glendale CC
S Donte Nicholson, Oklahoma/Mt. San Antonio College
S Jermaine Harris, S. Carolina/Georgia Military College
PK Rhys Lloyd, Minnesota/Rochester CTC
Watch JCFootball.com for a post-draft story in mid- to late-May.