Early 2003 Draft Risers / Sinkers-Defense

The Chicago Bears have their quarterback, but the NFL Draft is little more than one month away so it's time to take a look at players climbing the boards and those heading in the other direction. After a week of work at the Senior Bowl followed by combine workouts, prospects are now being tested on college campuses, as the scouting process quickly comes to an end for 2003.

Defensive Linemen
The play of the front four prospects the past two months has teams smiling. Several top players performed brilliantly and are hot commodities as April approaches.

No lineman has improved his stock the way Kevin Williams has. A one-man wrecking crew at the Senior Bowl, Williams had scouts shaking their heads as they watched the Oklahoma State prospect destroy the opposition. In fact, one prominent general manager referred to him as "an animal" after the all-important Wednesday practice in Mobile. The ability to play tackle or end, or the versatility to be used in a two-gap system, has Williams moving toward the top ten.

Underclassman Johnathan Sullivan answered the call during the combine after initially stating he would not workout, and now looks to be a good value in the middle of round one. Clemson's Nick Eason has done much the same after solid showings at both the Senior Bowl and combine.

Miami pass rusher Jerome McDougle increased his draft stock at the combine after an inconsistent Senior Bowl, and has solidified himself as a first round choice.

McDougle's college teammate William Joseph is heading in the other direction. Considered a top five pick coming into the season, Joseph did not test well athletically during the 'Canes Pro-Day, and now questions are arising about his character.

Like his older brother four years ago, Boss Bailey is establishing himself as one of the best athletes in the draft. The outside linebacker did not run for scouts at the combine but had an outstanding showing during individual workouts, and will mostly likely be the first linebacker selected this April.

A pair of small school prospects have stood out. West Texas A&M star Chaun Thompson was seamless working out alongside bigger name prospects, displaying outstanding all-around skills. Khalid Abdullah of Mars Hills also showed the talent to play against the big boys on Sundays.

Surprisingly, several undersized pass rushers who project to outside linebacker looked good recently. Antwan Peek, Bryant McNeal, and one of the draft's sleepers, Shurron Pierson of South Florida, lined up in three-point stances during their college days but all now appear to have what it takes to play off the line of scrimmage, and each is headed into the middle frames.

LaMarcus McDonald, a tackling machine in college, weighed only 209 pounds at the Senior Bowl then showed up at the combine 20 pounds heavier with a 40 time of 5.00. At one time McDonald was considered a third round pick but he's heading south now.

Defensive Backs
A pair of corners from the Pac Ten have stood out in the post season and, as a result, will make a lot of money for themselves. Marcus Trufant of Washington State capped his stellar college career by turning in perhaps the best week of practice at the Senior Bowl, which moved him into the initial twelve picks of round one.

Likewise, Dennis Weathersby, although considered a "slow cornerback" at first, impacted the Oregon State program since he was a freshman and scorched the surface at the combine, racing to a 4.35 clocking in the forty. This performance improved his draft ranking by as many as fifteen slots.

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