With that as a backdrop, Bernie's Insiders has learned that Boston College's William Green will announce shortly -- perhaps as early as tomorrow -- that he will leave the school and make himself available for the 2002 NFL draft.
The only obstacle in Green's path to the NFL is a meeting with offensive coordinator Dana Bibla, which is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow. Bibla will attempt to convince the 6-1, 215-pounder that he needs another season in college ball, although Green will come to the meeting armed with an NFL report that states he is a likely first-round pick.
It's highly unlikely that Bibla will be able to change Green's mind.
Green and fellow junior T.J. Duckett -- who will announce at a press conference on Thursday that he's leaving Michigan State -- are widely considered the top two RBs in the country and both are expected to be taken within the first 20 picks of the first round.
If Green can clear up some personal issues during pre-draft interviews -- he has had run-ins with the BC coaching staff, including head coach Tom O'Brien -- there is a chance that the talented runner could be a top-ten selection.
"You couldn't go wrong with either [Green or Duckett]," one scout said.
"Green had some issues with the BC staff, but nothing that would scare me away from him. Put him in a situation with a strong head coach and I think he'll be fine. As far as on the field, he might be the best pure runner in the country. His biggest problem is blitz pickup, which is something any position coach worth his salt will be able to teach."
TRICKLE-DOWN: Not only will Steve Spurrier's decision to leave the University of Florida affect the NFL on its sidelines next season, it could also have a trickle-down effect on the draft as well.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, third-year sophomore quarterback Rex Grossman will likely make himself available for the 2002 draft due to Spurrier's bolting of Gainesville. There seemed to be one person who could have prevented Grossman from leaving, and that person decided this afternoon to remain in Denver.
"Coach Shanahan was John Elway's coach for quite a while, so he must be doing something right," Maureen Grossman, Rex's mother, told the Journal-Constitution in regard to Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. "He's just trying to get as much information as he can. It's all very confusing trying to figure out what's going on."
Additionally, sources have told this space that three Florida wide receivers considering the decision to leave early -- Jabar Gaffney, Taylor Jacobs and Reche Caldwell – would also likely have returned had Shanahan bolted the Broncos.
Now, it's a very real possibility that all three will enter the draft.
Players who are either true juniors or third-year sophomores have until Friday, January 11, to file papers with the League office and petition the NFL for the upcoming draft. Obviously, the amount of quality juniors that declare for the draft will have an effect on the Browns as it will push players who would otherwise go higher in the draft down to a position where Cleveland could potentially take them.
BROWNS NOTE: Looking for a middle linebacker to help shore up the middle of the Browns' defense? Word out of New York is that the Giants may part ways with defensive leader Jessie Armstead at some point this offseason if the two sides cannot reach an agreement on a restructured contract. There have been talks on and off throughout the season between the Giants and Armstead's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but an agreement is far from being reached. Armstead, of course, is a graduate of Miami (Fla) and was recruited during Butch Davis' first stint with the Hurricanes.
NORTH-SIDE TIDBITS: While it's a must to give credit to offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey for the stunning 2001 success of Kordell Stewart, those in the know in Pittsburgh point to quarterbacks coach Tom Clements as a major factor in Stewart's resurgence. Stewart had never been under the direction of a position coach during his first six seasons with the Steelers, but head coach Bill Cowher, with a heavy dose of pressure from the front office and Mularkey, finally relented and hired the club's first QB coach since 1973. "It's not so much that he worked on Kordell's mechanics or anything," the Steelers source said, "but [Clements] brought his thinking on the field to a higher level. If Kordell's decision-making would have been at this level the past few years, we'd be sitting here talking about a future Hall of Famer." Don't be surprised if Clements' name comes up as a viable coordinator candidate once the NFL's head-coaching carousel stops spinning. ... Despite yet another sub-.500 season, the majority of the Bengals' coaching staff will be back for the 2002 season. The only definite exception is safeties coach Ray Horton, who resigned yesterday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, to pursue other opportunities. Running backs coach Jim Anderson is interviewing for the head-coachin