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2004 Draft: The Early Returns

Lane Adkins looks at the top ten choices from last year's draft, including Kellen Winslow, Jr, (pictured) and offers the scoop on how they are performing to date. Bernie's Insiders <i>never</i> stops talking Browns! Grab a <A HREF="">Total Access Pass</A> and join us today!

After a slow beginning to passing camp with the Chargers, Rivers has begun to impress the San Diego brass with his leadership and significant ability to pick-up on the scheme and speed of the NFL game, in practice situations. Rivers almost sidearm throwing motion has not been an issue in camp and has surprised the San Diego brass with his arm strength and recognition of defensive schemes. Presently, the Chargers and representatives for the player have not started serious contract negotiations, but both parties have dabbled in the waters.

Quote of Note: "For being a young quarterback, he (Rivers) has shown some characteristics of players that played and were successful in this league for a long time," San Diego head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

This rookie offensive tackle has been impressive in his short time with the Raiders. The Oakland coaching staff continuously talks about the agility and strength of Gallery, as well as openly willing to discuss the tremendous upside and immediate impact the rookie from Iowa should have on the 2004 Raiders. Contract parameters have not been discussed, but it is believed from both sides that a deal will be struck to have the top offensive prospect coming from the draft in training camp on-time.

Quote of Note: "This kid (Gallery) has all the tools to be one of the very best in the game in a short period of time. All he needs is experience," Oakland head coach Norv Turner.

Fitzgerald is the player Cardinals' head coach Dennis Green wanted and the selection may ultimately be a wise one. The rookie wide receiver arguably is the most talented of a group which includes 2003 rookies Anquin Boldin and Bryant Johnson. In Fitzgerald, the Cardinals envision a player that will start immediately and become an impact player in his first season. In early passing camp sessions, Fitzgerald has dazzled. Contract talks are progressing and Fitzgerald is fully expected to be in training camp, on-time.

Quote of Note: "You really don't realize how fast he (Fitzgerald) is because of his effortless stride, and he has a tremendous pair of hands," Arizona head coach Dennis Green.

Under the watchful eye of new Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Manning has shown glimpses of why the Giants dealt with the San Diego Chargers to obtain the services of Peyton's younger brother. Overall, a new offensive philosophy has slowed the Giants in passing camp sessions, as well as New York bringing in veteran signal-called Kurt Warner to keep the quarterback seat warm until Manning is ready to take over the team. Somewhat sporadic and inconsistent thus far, Manning hasn't disappointed, but is far from starting quality in this his initial rookie camp. Contract talks have been slow, neither side has serious started the process.

Quote of Note: "I wouldn't discount anything regarding Eli Manning starting this season. He (Manning) is a tremendous talent and will certainly be the quarterback of the future for the New York Giants," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.

5. Washington - SEAN TAYLOR, S, MIAMI (FLA.)
Lining up for mainly with the second-team defense, Taylor is finding that talent alone will not make him a star in the NFL. The Washington coaching staff simply loves the athletic ability of the former Miami Hurricanes standout safety, and has made point to Taylor that he needs to work on the mental preparation and focus of the game to be the high-caliber defensive back the team expects to have selected with the fifth-selection in the 2004 draft. The Redskins are not disappointed with the progress of the rookie, but some within the organization believe he needs to mature and become focused on every play, in every situation. Brief contract discussions have taken place, with no deal appearing on the horizon.

Quote of Note: "This kid (Taylor) has all the athletic ability you look for in a defensive back. He's has the speed to stay with receivers in the league and strong enough to be special against the run," Washington head coach Joe Gibbs.

Trading up to the sixth-position in the draft speaks measures as to the Browns' thoughts of Winslow, as well as the need for difference makers on the offensive side of the ball. Through early passing camp sessions, Winslow has been every bit the high-caliber player the team was seeking and much more. A better blocker than advertised, showing exceptional quickness and receiving skills, Winslow has been impressive. Initial negotiations, the feeling out process has begun. There is talk of Winslow and his representatives seeking first-pick money for the tight-end are a reality and the team is expected to offer Winslow a deal which far exceeds the dollar value any player chosen with picks four-through-six received in 2003. Both parties state they expect this talented offensive weapon in camp on-time, but this is one that has the appearance of holdout.

Quote of Note: "In this game you can never have enough guys to make plays. He (Winslow) is a dynamic presence that can be contagious to this team," Cleveland head coach Butch Davis.

Needing to improve the overall speed of the offense, as well as adding a viable threat in the receiving game, Detroit couldn't be happier with their first-round draft selection, Roy Williams. Williams has the Lions coaching seething due to the explosive ability he has displayed thus far. Teaming with 2003 first-round draft selection Charles Rogers, the Lions believe they have their receiving duo for years to come. Contract discussions have started, no details are available at this time.

Quote of Note: "He's quicker and better getting off the line of scrimmage than we originally thought. Without a doubt, we are a much better team on the outside today, than we were when the season ended," Detroit head coach Steve Mariucci.

While upgrading wasn't viewed as the Falcons most pressing off-season need, Atlanta locked in on Virginia Tech's DeAngelo Hall early on as a player which could help the team. The Falcons, seeking to improve their team speed, along with possessing a dynamic presence in the return game, Hall has excited the troops in Atlanta and namely new head coach Jim Mora Jr. In adding the speedy and shifty Hall, the Atlanta coaching staff has raved about the ability and presence Hall has been in early camp practices. According to one member of the Falcons coaching staff, Hall could be an opening day starter at corner, as well as the team's kick return specialist. The Falcons and representatives for Hall are expected to enter into serious negotiations in the next two weeks.

Quote of Note: "Hall may be the quickest and most agile player we had the opportunity to bring into Atlanta. The kid (Hall) has a great attitude and is serious about what he is doing," Atlanta head coach Jim Mora.

Most observers were surprised when the Jaguars selected Reggie Williams on draft day, but those close to the team expected the bold move. Williams, neither the fastest or quickest receiver in the draft is exactly what head coach Jack Del Rio was seeking, a big wide-out that has the ability to body-up a defensive back, while possessing the ability to achieve separation, adding potentially significant yardage after contact. The Jacksonville coaching staff has been pleasantly surprised with the progress has made in the brief time he has been with the Jaguars. Getting off the line of scrimmage was one concern of many scouts prior to draft-day, but the Jaguars coaching staff has worked with the former Washington Huskies receiver to improve his technique. No details on contract negotiations are available at this time.

Quote of Note: "Not everyone knew who Reggie Williams was before the draft and not everyone knows who I am now, that's o.k., because I intend on working hard and becoming a productive player in this league. I owe that not only to myself, but to my teammates and the entire Jaguars organization for having the faith in my ability," Reggie Williams, rookie wide receiver.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson and DeAngelo Hall were rated very closely on the Texans draft board, coming away with Robinson was a major coup for the upstart team in Houston. Looking for additional help on the defensive side of the ball, adding Robinson provided the Texans an opportunity to move Marcus Coleman to safety. Through passing camp practices, Robinson is establishing himself as a starter quality cornerback in his rookie season. Representatives for Robinson and the Texans are in serious contract negotiations and a deal could be reached within the next week.

Quote of Note: "Robinson is as solid of a cornerback that has entered the league through the draft a few years. He is not the biggest player, nor is he the fastest player, but he has great instincts and a tremendous ability to close and anticipate. He is being counted on this season," Houston head coach Dom Capers.

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