Wexell: Daily 2005 NFL Draft Diary

Steel City Sports Senior Editor Jim Wexell logs in with the draft report he does daily at 7:58 a.m., 11:58 a.m. and 5:58 p.m. for Fox Sports Radio 970. <br><br> Keep up with Wexell's thoughts on this year's NFL Draft prospects and which players might interest the Steelers here at Steel City Sports.

FRIDAY, APRIL 22

Trading down HAS to be the Steelers's plan coming into this draft, but, if they can't, my prediction is they'll draft wide receiver Reggie Brown of Georgia.

He's 6-1 5/8, 196 pounds and had the best vertical jump of all receivers at the combine by two full inches. At his campus workout, Brown ran the 40 in 4.39 seconds.

Brown went to Georgia as a blue-chipper and overcame an ACL injury to have two great seasons. He's maniacal about his conditioning, running with weighted vests and ankle weights. He has a 400-pound bench press to his credit.

Brown understands intermediate routes, can high-point the deep ball and is a great downfield blocker. He'd fit in nicely with another former Bulldog, Hines Ward.

LSU's Corey Webster is my second choice, but the second round is teeming with cornerbacks.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, APRIL 21

Since football fans invented the mock draft, here's one with the football fan – or Steelers fan – in mind.

In the first fantasy round, the Steelers select Matt Jones, the king-sized sprinter we'll project to tight end.

In the second round, they'll take Jerome Mathis, the sprinter from Hampton who ran a 4.2 40 at the combine, according to Bill Parcells. If you watched Mathis play in the Gridiron Classic, you watched a blur in pads.

Now that fans are excited about offense, the Steelers stock their defense with Channing Crowder in the third and Antajj Hawthorne in the fourth. Remember, we're not worried about criminal records today.

In the fifth, let's grab 267-pound tailback Brandon Jacobs, and in the sixth we'll add Rob Petitti for depth on the O-line.

We'll get back to reality tomorrow.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20

And down go the Millers.

First, Heath Miller. The tight end visited the Steelers and didn't visit the Jets, who need a tight end for rag-armed QB Chad Pennington. The Jets' smokescreen isn't fooling anyone, so if Heath Miller's over his sports hernia, that's where he'll go at pick 26. If he's not healthy, then both the Jets and Steelers will pass.

Now, Justin Miller. The Clemson cornerback is also the best return man coming out of college, but he had some questions about his character. He also has poor timing.

Justin Miller was arrested late Saturday night for disorderly conduct and a noise violation. He hosted a party after the Clemson spring game and cops had to visit twice. The second time they sent him to jail, and also knocked him out of contention with the Steelers.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


TUESDAY, APRIL 19

The Steelers brought several second-round prospects in for visits recently, so perhaps they're looking to trade down.

Problem is, so is everybody else.

It's a draft that's richest at picks 20 through 45, so everyone's trying to trade down. That got me thinking. Maybe it's a good time to trade up.

The guy to target would be David Pollack, the Georgia defensive end who compares favorably to Patriots superstar Tedy Bruschi.

It would cost a third-round pick, or a Tommy Maddox, to move up 10 spots, but Pollack is a future anchor. He's a 265-pounder who ran a better shuttle than all but two cornerbacks at the combine. He's a pass rusher with a great motor. The only negative on Pollack is that some consider him an arrogant jerk in the Greg Lloyd mold.

Hey, get two.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


MONDAY, APRIL 18

One of the best surprises last season was outside linebacker James Harrison, who now fills half of the Steelers's second-team depth chart. On the other side is Alonzo Jackson and practice squadder Dedrick Roper. Inside, Clint Kriewaldt is the only back-up on the roster.

So the Steelers need linebackers, and because Harrison could play inside, any linebacker will do.

The guy the Steelers like in the first round is Demarcus Ware, but he'll be gone. Justin Tuck, Matt Roth and Dan Cody are better suited as 4-3 ends. So it appears the Steelers will scratch the mid rounds for outside tweener prospects such as Kansas's David McMillan (6-3, 262, 4.52) or Florida State's Eric Moore (6-4¼, 268, 4.84).

On the inside, South Carolina's Marcus Lawrence (6-2 1/8, 243, 4.64) interests the Steelers. He was injured last season, but didn't miss a game and had a great combine.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


FRIDAY, APRIL 15

The Steelers brought offensive linemen Jammal Brown and Marcus Johnson in for visits this week to further the possibility they could use their first-round pick to compete at right tackle.

But they won't get Brown in the first round. The Oklahoma right tackle will be long gone.

As for Johnson, he succeeded Keydrick Vincent at Ole Miss, and is bigger and has better feet than Vincent. Johnson also has the potential to play tackle, but is a better guard.

The one O-lineman the Steelers might draft in the first round is Washington left tackle Khalif Barnes. The 6-6, 305-pounder runs a 4.9 40, and at the Senior Bowl he stonewalled Demarcus Ware.

Even though Barnes looked like a turnstile at times in college, he finished strong. The Steelers noticed, and have Khalif Barnes on their radar screen.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, APRIL 14

Pac Man Jones has survived the Internet rumor mill. The NFL exonerated Jones this week by identifying the incoming crop of pot smokers.

Oh, what a sorry lot it is.

The following players have been caught cheating with a drug that apparently makes you run slower:
  • Bowie State strong safety Atcheson Conway, who ran a 4.9 40.
  • Clemson defensive tackle Eric Coleman, who ran a 5.1 40.
  • Wisconsin guard Jonathan Clinkscale brought it home in 5.5 seconds.
  • And the one big-name player of the group, Wisconsin defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne, ran his 40 in 5.25 seconds.

Hawthorne was considered a first-rounder after the season, but will be lucky to be picked in the first day now.

Not that smoking pot is a serious breach, but you have to wonder what these guys were thinking.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports 970.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13

With 10 days left, the assistant coaches are completing their grades and the draft boards are coming together. One name that'll surprise up high is Northwestern defensive tackle Luis Castillo.

To this point, the top defensive tackles, according to magazines and Internet scouts, have been Anttaj Hawthorne, Shaun Cody, Travis Johnson and Mike Patterson. But Castillo will wind up at the top of most boards.

As a third-year starter at Northwestern, Castillo played with a broken hand and torn ligaments in his elbow and received some All-America consideration. The 303-pounder then ran a pair of 4.8 40s at the combine, with a vertical leap of 34½ and a broad jump of 10-10.

Those are stunning numbers. They add up to an explosion-slash-power number of 77, the highest of all defensive players according to NFL.com's Pat Kirwan.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


TUESDAY, APRIL 12

What the Steelers need is another Justin Strzelczyk, the valuable O-line swing man of the '90s who was drafted in the 11th round after playing the defensive line in college.

Strzelczyk sounds like Will Svitek, a 6-7, 305-pound defensive end from Stanford. Svitek is moving to the offensive line, but the transition shouldn't be difficult, considering he and his family made the big one back in 1984.

Papa Svitek came home from work one night and told the family they were leaving Czechoslovakia -- now. They left with only the clothes on their backs and headed for Pasadena.

Dad's not only brave, he's athletic. The former member of the Czech national track team passed those genes to his son, who ran a 4.9 40, did 33 reps on the bench and will be somebody's second-day treasure.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


MONDAY, APRIL 11

Charlie Batch marvels at what Ben Roethlisberger did as a rookie. And Batch can't fathom how good Big Ben will be once he's able to visualize the called play as opposed to just pointing to a number on his wrist band.

Obviously, quarterback is a thinking man's position in the NFL, which brings us to the smartest quarterback prospect in league history: Ryan Fitzpatrick of Harvard.

Fitzpatrick aced the league's Wonderlic test, becoming only the second person to do so. The previous score of 50 was turned in by Harvard punter Pat McInally in 1975. Fitzpatrick, though, finished his test in a record nine minutes.

Fitzpatrick can play, too. He was the best quarterback at the Hula Bowl. He's 6-2½, with a strong arm and nifty feet. He'd be an ideal back-up candidate in, say, the fifth round.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


FRIDAY, APRIL 8

He's considered the best Division II prospect by DraftDaddy.com. His name is LeRon McCoy of nearby IUP.

McCoy is a 6-1½, 213-pound wide receiver out of Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt, the same high school that produced former NFL runner Ricky Watters.

McCoy was invited to the combine, where he ran a 4.55 40 and had a vertical jump of 37 inches. At IUP, McCoy finished third on the school's all-time list with 25 touchdown catches. He was a deep threat who caught 36 passes as a senior for an average of 19.5 yards per catch.

He's considered an excellent natural athlete, but figures to be a late pick because of past trouble both on and off the field. One service calls McCoy "an immature player" who "needs to be constantly monitored and motivated."

But he'll get a chance.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, APRIL 7

The big loser in this poke-and-prod season could be Texas running back Cedric Benson.

He didn't work out at the combine and flopped at his pro day workout. Benson ran a pair of 4.6 40s and a 4.4 shuttle. The times are worse than the combine times posted by Brandon Jacobs, who weighs 45 pounds more than Benson.

Kevin Jones ran similar 40 times at his workouts last year. It knocked the star runner to pick 30, but Jones rebounded to have an outstanding rookie season.

Will teams ever learn that production - like Benson's 4,487 yards and 52 touchdowns - means more than 40 times? With Benson, teams must also consider his character risks.

It doesn't add up to a pretty picture for Benson, but it's difficult to see this blue-chipper slip past the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 8.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6

Quarterback Alex Smith had such a good pro day workout, he reportedly inspired a standing ovation from scouts.

A standing O?

"We were standing because we had no chairs," explained one scout.

Yes, a tad overstated. But nothing was overstated about Matt Jones's workout, the best of the post-combine season.

The 6-6¼, 242-pound Jones ran a 4.37 40 at his pro day. He also had a vertical jump of 39½ inches.

As writer Peter King points out, Jones is faster than Braylon Edwards, jumps higher than Mike Williams and is bigger than any tight end. Jones also showed soft hands as a quarterback-turned-receiver.

On numbers alone, Arkansas Jones figures to go late in the first round. But is he another Mike Mamula, the famed workout warrior/bust? Or is he a rich man's Antwaan Randle El?

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

TUESDAY, APRIL 5

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Remember last Christmas? When Ben Roethlisberger slipped to pick 11? He was a blue chipper, but few top-10 teams needed a quarterback.

The same dynamic is taking shape this year with Virginia tight end Heath Miller.

At 6-5, 256, Miller is the rare tight end who can block, run and make the acrobatic catch down the seam. He caught 70 passes in 2003, but struggled with a sports hernia last year and caught only 41 passes.

Miller underwent surgery in January and missed the combine and his campus workout. Meanwhile, teams with the need, like Detroit and Denver, have signed free agents.

Could Miller slip all the way to pick number 30? He'd help. The Steelers don't put much stock in workouts anyway, and Ben could use a big target.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

MONDAY, APRIL 4

Terrence Murphy has a visit scheduled with the Steelers. The Texas A&M wide receiver is another from the large pool of second-rounders with big-school experience, a productive past and great workout numbers.

A 6-1, 202-pounder, Murphy is A&M's all-time leading receiver, even though he played the last two years with scattershot quarterback Reggie McNeal. Murphy caught 100 passes in those two years, and also returned kickoffs as a junior and averaged 27.2 yards per.

At the combine, Murphy ran a 4.45 40. At his pro day, Murphy ran a 3.9 shuttle and had a great vertical jump of 41½ inches. Those numbers only support the production the Steelers see on film. And with a quality quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, Murphy figures to have an upside that can't be measured with a stopwatch and tape measure.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


FRIDAY, APRIL 1

The Steelers scheduled a private workout with Stanley Wilson, and if the name sounds familiar it should. He's the son of the former Cincinnati Bengal.

THAT Stanley Wilson missed the Super Bowl in 1989 because of cocaine. He's now serving the sixth year of a 22-year prison sentence for a third-strike burglary.

His son turned out pretty well, though. Five at the time of dad's infamous coke binge, the younger Wilson has started at cornerback for three years at Stanford. He's a fraction under 6-feet tall, 185 pounds and his official combine 40 time was 4.4 flat. His other stats are impressive: He had a 38-inch vertical jump and a score of 31 on his Wonderlic test.

The physical Wilson is considered a mid second-rounder, meaning the Steelers would have to trade down a bit to maximize his value.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, MARCH 31

The best linebacker prospect will make a final attempt to improve his 40 time today, but Channing Crowder can't do anything about his other records, medical or criminal.

The son of Penn Stater and former NFL vet Randy Crowder, Channing is a 6-2, 245-pounder out of Florida who ran a 4.7 at a previous pro day. He's had two knee surgeries, but is considered an athletic leader with a brainy Wonderlic score of 30.

Bill Belichick was interested enough to have conducted a long, personal interview. They probably talked about a rap sheet that Crowder can't escape.

"There's this reputation that I'm a monster," Crowder said. "If you do a Google search with my name, some of the stuff … puts your character in question."

Like the phrases "beating a student unconscious" and "refused to be handcuffed."

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30

NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan doesn't believe any workout number can define a football player, but the former New York Jets speed trainer thinks the short shuttle comes closest.

Kirwan says a shuttle time should come within five-tenths of a second of a player's 40 time, and that the equation can unearth value in the draft.

Take David Pollack. The defensive end from Georgia ran a 4.75 40, but his 3.9 shuttle time better reflects his playing speed.

This formula might also get Jason White drafted. The weak-armed former Heisman winner ran a 5.0 40, but a 4.2 shuttle better reflects his pocket niftiness.

Similar value might also be found in massive offensive lineman Marcus Johnson of Ole Miss and tight end Joel Dreessen of Colorado State. Keep those two players in mind on draft day.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.



TUESDAY MARCH 29

The free agency season came to close for the Steelers, who don't have any one great need. However, they do have some holes on the depth chart.

They don't have a second tight end. They lack depth on the offensive line. They need a back-up linebacker or two. There's also an opening at receiver.

The needs at cornerback and running back aren't pressing, but injury, age and contract concerns keep the positions on our list.

So from this list of needs, what, based on players expected to be available at pick 30, can we eliminate from first-round consideration?
  • Offensive linemen.
  • Running backs.
  • Physical corners.
  • Inside linebackers.

That leaves this group: tight end Heath Miller, cornerback Justin Miller, edge rushers Justin Tuck, Darryl Blackstock and DeMarcus Ware and several receivers.

We're getting there.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970



MONDAY, MARCH 28

When Michigan cornerback Marlin Jackson slipped and fell on his wrist during a pro day drill, reports circulated that it was broken and he'd be out of action for 4 to 6 weeks.

However, X-rays were negative. The wrist is only sprained and shouldn't cause the Sharon native any draft status. That means he'll probably be staring the Steelers in the face at pick No. 30.

He's 6-0 5/8, 198 pounds and his pedestrian 4.6 40 was offset by an outstanding 3.96 short shuttle. That's the agility number, the one the scouts judge corners by.

Many are still not convinced. After an outstanding sophomore season at Michigan, Jackson bounced back and forth between corner and safety. He's something of a tweener, and in this new finesse era of quick feet and ball skills, that's a dangerous sign.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


FRIDAY, MARCH 25

We targeted the draft range for the tackle yesterday. Now let's throw out some names.

Florida State's Alex Barron will be long gone. So will Oklahoma's Jammal Brown. Washington left tackle Khalif Barnes was great in the Senior Bowl, but inconsistent last season. He could fall to pick 30, but the first round is too early for the Steelers.

They could trade down and pick off 320-pounder Marcus Johnson of Ole Miss or 6-foot-8 Adam Terry of Syracuse in the middle of the second round. I'd wait until the bottom of the second, or even the third, for a handful of interesting prospects. Chris Colmer of N.C. State is one. Guards Justin Geisinger of Vandy, Logan Mankins of Fresno State and Evan Mathis of Alabama can also play tackle. That would give the Steelers depth at both spots.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, MARCH 24

The Steelers came close to signing free-agent Stockar McDougle last week, but he slipped their midst and signed a curious one-year deal with Miami.

An ex-Lion, McDougle would've been the ideal replacement for Oliver Ross at right tackle, but the Steelers will instead turn to Max Starks.

Yes, Starks showed potential as a rookie, but now that the Steelers must fly without a safety net, Starks needs to show more than just potential.

The Steelers did re-sign Barrett Brooks, and the good news is he once played for the Lions! The bad news is Starks is still flying without a safety net, or anyone to push him for that matter.

The Steelers must draft a tackle early. The plan to draft a project in the middle rounds has been expanded up into the second or third round.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23


Here's how the Steelers can nab one of those special Auburn running backs: Wait for the second day.

That's right. Brandon Jacobs played at Auburn in 2003. He rushed for 446 yards at a clip of 6.2 per carry, but transferred to Southern Illinois. There, in his only season as a full-time back, Jacobs averaged 6.6 per carry and scored 19 touchdowns.

Jacobs is a truck load. He stands 6-4¼ and at the combine weighed in at 267 pounds.

He lacks wiggle, and scouts are always wary of the personalities of transfers. However, Jacobs impressed them with not only his skill set on the field but his attitude in interviews.

Really, no one had to ask Jacobs why he transferred out of Auburn. The top-10 draft status of Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams answers that question.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


TUESDAY, MARCH 22

Last week we sorted through the reports coming out of West Virginia's pro day, but had nothing on my favorite Mountaineer, Kay-Jay Harris.

Harris is a 6-foot, 243-pound running back who can run inside and outside. He ran a 4.56 40 at the combine.

The knock on Harris is that after spending four years in minor-league baseball, he'll be a 26-year-old rookie. He also struggled with a hamstring injury last season, his only season as WVU's full-time starter.

Before the injury, Harris rushed for 337 yards against East Carolina. After he healed, Harris rushed for 134 yards against Florida State in the Gator Bowl.

Harris has size, speed, can block and catch. He's the complete package, just a little bit older than you'd like. What a steal he'd be at the end of the third round.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

MONDAY, MARCH 21

Holy Craphonso, Cowher! While you're watching the next Alonzo Jackson, a receiver's tearing up the track.

Yes, Bill Cowher attended the Florida State pro day. It's becoming tradition for Cowher, who, two years ago, scouted and drafted Jackson, the unproductive Steelers linebacker.

Last week, Cowher spent time talking with FSU defensive end Eric Moore. Uh, oh.

Jackson and Moore are both 6-4, 268. Both ran 4.8 40s at their combines. Both dominated their Hula Bowls. While Jackson had 13 sacks his senior year, Moore had only 2.5. So Moore is a poor man's Alonzo Jackson. Ugh.

Meanwhile, Craphonso Thorpe stole the show. The 6-1 receiver with the unfortunate first name ran a 4.39 40, showing he's over the leg injury that plagued his senior season.

Just hope that Cowher watched the Crap who plays offense this time around.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

FRIDAY, MARCH 18

Steelers personnel boss Kevin Colbert hates the Internet, and perhaps with good reason.

After West Virginia's pro day last Friday, one of the more reckless sites reported Colbert was rooting for Pac Man Jones to run a poor 40 so that Jones would fall to the Steelers. Jones ran a 4.3.

Another site reported Bill Cowher showed interest in receiver Chris Henry, but that can't be right. As one scout told the New York Post, the twice-suspended Henry is "a miserable person."

The report I believe came from a fan, who posted that Cowher spent most of his interview time with Rasheed Marshall.

Now this makes sense. The 5-11½ former quarterback ran a 4.5 40 that day with a 41-inch vertical leap. Marshall would be an ideal second-day pick to fill the Steelers's open fifth receiver spot.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, MARCH 17

Dick LeBeau had his pick of pro days yesterday. He could've watched Kevin Burnett at Tennessee or Shawne Merriman at Maryland, but LeBeau went to Notre Dame to see Justin Tuck.

Pitt fans remember Tuck's 3.5 sacks in the 2003 game. Tuck set a Notre Dame sacks record that year, but tore his ACL in the finale and struggled last season.

Tuck sat out the Insight Bowl and, as a junior, had to miss the Senior Bowl. He didn't run at the combine, thus the Steelers's interest yesterday.

A high-motor pass rusher, Tuck is 6-5, 268. He prefers defensive end, but played linebacker in some Irish packages.

"Either way," a healthy Tuck said of his pro position, "I'm going to be a steal in the draft."

So happy St. Paddy's Day Steelers fans. Justin Tuck is a candidate.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16

At a combine full of speed, the fastest official time was turned in by Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington. He matched Deion Sanders's old record of 4.25, and that's great news for the Steelers.

Washington is a third-round talent who turned in a first-round time. Another junior, Batman Carroll, did the same thing last year. The Packers couldn't resist his speed and made Carroll the 25th pick.

The 30th pick last year was Kevin Jones, he of the poor 40 time and electric rookie season. Carroll, by the way, had a miserable rookie season and I doubt everyone learned the lesson.

The Steelers hope someone sees Washington in the same light and overpays for that speed. It just might push a real cornerback, say a Carlos Rogers or a Justin Miller, right down to pick No. 30.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


TUESDAY, MARCH 15

Pitt will hold its pro day today and it figures to be a brief session. The lack of senior talent is further evidence that Walt Harris did a great job last season.

Pitt has only one first-day draft prospect, and it's becoming apparent that Rob Petitti is making even that a longshot.

Petitti showed up at the Senior Bowl weighing a sloppy 361 pounds. To his credit, the 6-6 left tackle worked off 14 pounds for the combine, but couldn't work out there because of injury.

Petitti needs to show today that he's continued to work on that flabby body, otherwise he'll be overtaken on his school's prospect list by Vince Crochunis (cro-SHU-nis).

Now there's a player. The undersized nose tackle might not be drafted, but he symbolized all that went right for Harris last year.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


MONDAY, MARCH 14


If Daven Holly isn't drafted, he said he'll use his college degree to go into pharmaceutical sales. He wouldn't be the first young man from Clairton to choose that career path.

Yes, Holly, the Cincinnati cornerback, is from nearby Clairton. And, no, I couldn't resist the cheap shot. But unlike many from his hometown, Holly has a chance.

At the combine, the 5-10½, 192-pounder ran a 4.4 40 and benched 15 times. Good speed, good strength, but very raw.

Holly went to Cincinnati as a receiver. He moved to corner and in 2003 led the Bearcats with six picks. Last year Holly was named second team all-conference.

Holly ran a 4.3 40 at his pro day last week, so while he's a project, he's a project with speed. And with two 7th-round picks, the Steelers might want to consider bringing him home.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

FRIDAY, MARCH 11

Since we're doing that wide receiver thang, let's finish the roll.

With such a deep crop, quality will also be available at the bottom of the second round and here are some of the candidates:

  • Mark Bradley, the other Oklahoma receiver, was called the best athlete on the team by his coach, Bob Stoops. Bradley's 6-1½, 201 and ran a 4.4 last week. His father Danny was a former Sooner quarterback.

  • Terrence Murphy, the 6-1 burner from Texas A&M, had a down year with only 56 receptions, but scattershot QB Reggie McNeal didn't help him in that regard.

  • Courtney Roby of Indiana had a great week at the Senior Bowl and ran a 4.33 at the combine. He's 6-foot and 189.

Other candidates are Utah's Steven Savoy, Georgia's Fred Gibson and Miami speedball Roscoe Parrish.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, MARCH 10

Please, stop the e-mails. It's obvious no one likes my wide receivers. Again, my first draft included Roddy White, Reggie Brown and Vincent Jackson.

Yes, I'm aware of Mark Clayton and Troy Williamson. But Clayton ran a 4.43 40 at the combine. He'll be gone. Williamson ran a 4.38. He'll be long gone, and probably moved ahead of USC's Mike Williams and into the top 10.

Speaking of Mike Williams, Vincent Jackson is an eighth of an inch taller (6-4¾), 12 pounds heavier and a half-step faster.

Reggie Brown is 6-1 5/8, 196, 4.49 and starred at Georgia.

Sharod "Roddy" White is 6-1¼, 207, didn't run at the combine, but one scout said White has "the best down-the-field ball skills of any receiver in the draft." He averaged 21 yards per catch and scored 14 touchdowns at UAB.

So please, stop the e-mails. My guys are big, fast and can play.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9

Wide receivers tore up the track at the combine last week. The fastest was Jerome Mathis of Division 1-AA Hampton. His electronic times were 4.31 and 4.32, and an amazed Bill Parcells later said he hand-clocked Mathis at 4.25.

Anyone who saw Mathis play in the Gridiron Classic knows he can carry his pads. Mathis scorched a Florida State DB for a 26-yard TD pass, crossed the field to return a kickoff 35 yards and, after taking a handoff on a reverse, cut back through the field for a 38-yard touchdown - a double reverse unto himself, if you will.

Mathis was measured at 5-11¼, 181 at the combine, which is bigger than the typical small-school speedball. He averaged 36 yards per punt return and 30 yards per catch at Hampton, and is someone to consider in the first round.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


TUESDAY, MARCH 8

It seems every other mock draft I read has the Steelers taking a defensive end in the first round.

It won't happen.

Steelers D-linemen are field oxen, born to let others make plays. It's their job description. So on top of the big buck they're paying Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton, they're supposed to add another? Why?

These experts want to shove Kimo von Oelhoffen out the door, but Kimo has plenty left, and the back-ups - Travis Kirschke, Brett Keisel and Chris Hoke - are solid. In fact, they're more than solid enough to do what's asked of Steelers D-Linemen.

Predicting a first-round pick is a matter of crossing names and positions off your list and whittling it down. So cross off the D-linemen now. Shaun Cody would be nice, but he'd only be overkill with the Steelers.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


MONDAY, MARCH 7
If Jerome Bettis comes back, there won't be room to draft another running back. But if he retires, the Steelers would be left with three tailbacks and a fullback.

They'd need a tailback, but one who could bide time as Dan Kreider's back-up, and here's the perfect fit: Nehemiah Broughton of The Citadel.

Nicknamed "Nemo-sapien" by local media because of his combination of power and speed, Broughton ran between the tackles for 793 yards last season, including a respectable 73 against the vaunted Auburn defense.

The scouts like him. He was invited to both the Senior Bowl and the combine, where he ran a 4.55 40. He measured in at a Bettis-like 5 feet 11½ inches and a sculpted 250 pounds.

He doesn't have Bettis's feet, but Broughton would fit the Steelers's offense perfectly and would be an ideal sixth-round sleeper.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Yesterday, we tabbed wide receiver as the Steelers' top draft priority. At this time, we'll place the position ahead of cornerback since the latter's job description appears easier to fill.

Because of last year's rule change, receivers are now running free through secondaries as cover corners only hope to keep up. The days of the physical corner such as Chris McAllister appear to be long gone.

Look at the Super Bowl. The once-great Ty Law was replaced by undrafted and unheralded rookie Randall Gay. And look at the Steelers: Willie Williams was far more effective than the more physical Chad Scott.

The Steelers should be able to find a quality cover corner in the second or third round this April, so the guess here is they'll be looking to take the offensive. Again, the preference is a big deep threat, someone like Roddy White, Reggie Brown or Vincent Jackson.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Let's set the odds right now on whom the Steelers might draft with pick no. 30. An impossible task, perhaps, but there's no better time than right here, right now.

And as we like to say before the flurry that is free agency, we cannot be held accountable for the Steelers' changing needs.

Dropping to 30 to 1 after sitting out the combine with a sports hernia is Virginia tight end Heath Miller. We'll rank him alongside Stanford tight end Alex Smith.

At 25 to 1 is Joey Porter-clone DeMarcus Ware of Troy.

At 20-1 are the cornerbacks: Justin Miller of Clemson and Corey Webster of LSU. The 15-1 favorites are wide receivers: Roddy White of UAB, Reggie Brown of Georgia and Vincent Jackson of Northern Colorado.

Longshots, all of them, but we'll bring this pick into focus in due time.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


WEDNESDAY, March 2
Every dog has his day in the NFL, right? I mean, that's what the draft is for, right? Well, not for this dog this year.

After a 2-14 season, the 49ers have the first pick, but do they even want it? Does anybody?

Do you pay one-year wonder Aaron Rodgers? How about Utah's Alex Smith? Nice quarterbacks, but we're talking $20 mil here.

The more deserving pick might be Braylon Edwards, but the receiver crop is so deep, there's better value at the top of round 2.

How about a running back? Cedric Benson scares scouts in a Ricky Williams kinda way. Cadillac Williams is 15 pounds lighter and a half-step slower than his teammate, Ronnie Brown.

How about Brown? Yeah, there's my guy. A back-up in college for the first pick of the draft. Now there's a dog for a day.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nFRIDAY, APRIL 22\r\n

\r\nTrading down HAS to be the Steelers's plan coming into this draft, but, if they can't, my prediction is they'll draft wide receiver Reggie Brown of Georgia.\r\n

\r\nHe's 6-1 5/8, 196 pounds and had the best vertical jump of all receivers at the combine by two full inches. At his campus workout, Brown ran the 40 in 4.39 seconds.\r\n

\r\nBrown went to Georgia as a blue-chipper and overcame an ACL injury to have two great seasons. He's maniacal about his conditioning, running with weighted vests and ankle weights. He has a 400-pound bench press to his credit.\r\n

\r\nBrown understands intermediate routes, can high-point the deep ball and is a great downfield blocker. He'd fit in nicely with another former Bulldog, Hines Ward.\r\n

\r\nLSU's Corey Webster is my second choice, but the second round is teeming with cornerbacks.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

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\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTHURSDAY, APRIL 21\r\n

\r\nSince football fans invented the mock draft, here's one with the football fan – or Steelers fan – in mind.\r\n

\r\nIn the first fantasy round, the Steelers select Matt Jones, the king-sized sprinter we'll project to tight end.\r\n

\r\nIn the second round, they'll take Jerome Mathis, the sprinter from Hampton who ran a 4.2 40 at the combine, according to Bill Parcells. If you watched Mathis play in the Gridiron Classic, you watched a blur in pads.\r\n

\r\nNow that fans are excited about offense, the Steelers stock their defense with Channing Crowder in the third and Antajj Hawthorne in the fourth. Remember, we're not worried about criminal records today.\r\n

\r\nIn the fifth, let's grab 267-pound tailback Brandon Jacobs, and in the sixth we'll add Rob Petitti for depth on the O-line. \r\n

\r\nWe'll get back to reality tomorrow.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

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\r\nWEDNESDAY, APRIL 20\r\n

\r\nAnd down go the Millers.\r\n

\r\nFirst, Heath Miller. The tight end visited the Steelers and didn't visit the Jets, who need a tight end for rag-armed QB Chad Pennington. The Jets' smokescreen isn't fooling anyone, so if Heath Miller's over his sports hernia, that's where he'll go at pick 26. If he's not healthy, then both the Jets and Steelers will pass.\r\n

\r\nNow, Justin Miller. The Clemson cornerback is also the best return man coming out of college, but he had some questions about his character. He also has poor timing. \r\n

\r\nJustin Miller was arrested late Saturday night for disorderly conduct and a noise violation. He hosted a party after the Clemson spring game and cops had to visit twice. The second time they sent him to jail, and also knocked him out of contention with the Steelers.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

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\r\n\r\n\r\nTUESDAY, APRIL 19\r\n

\r\nThe Steelers brought several second-round prospects in for visits recently, so perhaps they're looking to trade down.\r\n

\r\nProblem is, so is everybody else.\r\n

\r\nIt's a draft that's richest at picks 20 through 45, so everyone's trying to trade down. That got me thinking. Maybe it's a good time to trade up. \r\n

\r\nThe guy to target would be David Pollack, the Georgia defensive end who compares favorably to Patriots superstar Tedy Bruschi.\r\n

\r\nIt would cost a third-round pick, or a Tommy Maddox, to move up 10 spots, but Pollack is a future anchor. He's a 265-pounder who ran a better shuttle than all but two cornerbacks at the combine. He's a pass rusher with a great motor. The only negative on Pollack is that some consider him an arrogant jerk in the Greg Lloyd mold.\r\n

\r\nHey, get two.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

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\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMONDAY, APRIL 18\r\n

\r\nOne of the best surprises last season was outside linebacker James Harrison, who now fills half of the Steelers's second-team depth chart. On the other side is Alonzo Jackson and practice squadder Dedrick Roper. Inside, Clint Kriewaldt is the only back-up on the roster. \r\n

\r\nSo the Steelers need linebackers, and because Harrison could play inside, any linebacker will do.\r\n

\r\nThe guy the Steelers like in the first round is Demarcus Ware, but he'll be gone. Justin Tuck, Matt Roth and Dan Cody are better suited as 4-3 ends. So it appears the Steelers will scratch the mid rounds for outside tweener prospects such as Kansas's David McMillan (6-3, 262, 4.52) or Florida State's Eric Moore (6-4¼, 268, 4.84).\r\n

\r\nOn the inside, South Carolina's Marcus Lawrence (6-2 1/8, 243, 4.64) interests the Steelers. He was injured last season, but didn't miss a game and had a great combine.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

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\r\nFRIDAY, APRIL 15\r\n

\r\nThe Steelers brought offensive linemen Jammal Brown and Marcus Johnson in for visits this week to further the possibility they could use their first-round pick to compete at right tackle.\r\n

\r\nBut they won't get Brown in the first round. The Oklahoma right tackle will be long gone.\r\n

\r\nAs for Johnson, he succeeded Keydrick Vincent at Ole Miss, and is bigger and has better feet than Vincent. Johnson also has the potential to play tackle, but is a better guard.\r\n

\r\nThe one O-lineman the Steelers might draft in the first round is Washington left tackle Khalif Barnes. The 6-6, 305-pounder runs a 4.9 40, and at the Senior Bowl he stonewalled Demarcus Ware.\r\n

\r\nEven though Barnes looked like a turnstile at times in college, he finished strong. The Steelers noticed, and have Khalif Barnes on their radar screen.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

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\r\n\r\n\r\nTHURSDAY, APRIL 14\r\n

\r\nPac Man Jones has survived the Internet rumor mill. The NFL exonerated Jones this week by identifying the incoming crop of pot smokers.\r\n

\r\nOh, what a sorry lot it is.\r\n

\r\nThe following players have been caught cheating with a drug that apparently makes you run slower:\r\n\r\n

\r\nHawthorne was considered a first-rounder after the season, but will be lucky to be picked in the first day now.\r\n

\r\nNot that smoking pot is a serious breach, but you have to wonder what these guys were thinking.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports 970. \r\n

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\r\nWEDNESDAY, APRIL 13\r\n\r\n

\r\nWith 10 days left, the assistant coaches are completing their grades and the draft boards are coming together. One name that'll surprise up high is Northwestern defensive tackle Luis Castillo.\r\n

\r\nTo this point, the top defensive tackles, according to magazines and Internet scouts, have been Anttaj Hawthorne, Shaun Cody, Travis Johnson and Mike Patterson. But Castillo will wind up at the top of most boards.\r\n

\r\nAs a third-year starter at Northwestern, Castillo played with a broken hand and torn ligaments in his elbow and received some All-America consideration. The 303-pounder then ran a pair of 4.8 40s at the combine, with a vertical leap of 34½ and a broad jump of 10-10. \r\n

Those are stunning numbers. They add up to an explosion-slash-power number of 77, the highest of all defensive players according to NFL.com's Pat Kirwan. \r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n\r\n

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\r\n\r\nTUESDAY, APRIL 12\r\n

\r\nWhat the Steelers need is another Justin Strzelczyk, the valuable O-line swing man of the '90s who was drafted in the 11th round after playing the defensive line in college. \r\n

\r\nStrzelczyk sounds like Will Svitek, a 6-7, 305-pound defensive end from Stanford. Svitek is moving to the offensive line, but the transition shouldn't be difficult, considering he and his family made the big one back in 1984. \r\n

\r\nPapa Svitek came home from work one night and told the family they were leaving Czechoslovakia -- now. They left with only the clothes on their backs and headed for Pasadena.\r\n

\r\nDad's not only brave, he's athletic. The former member of the Czech national track team passed those genes to his son, who ran a 4.9 40, did 33 reps on the bench and will be somebody's second-day treasure.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nMONDAY, APRIL 11

\r\n\r\nCharlie Batch marvels at what Ben Roethlisberger did as a rookie. And Batch can't fathom how good Big Ben will be once he's able to visualize the called play as opposed to just pointing to a number on his wrist band.

\r\n\r\nObviously, quarterback is a thinking man's position in the NFL, which brings us to the smartest quarterback prospect in league history: Ryan Fitzpatrick of Harvard.

\r\n\r\nFitzpatrick aced the league's Wonderlic test, becoming only the second person to do so. The previous score of 50 was turned in by Harvard punter Pat McInally in 1975. Fitzpatrick, though, finished his test in a record nine minutes.

\r\nFitzpatrick can play, too. He was the best quarterback at the Hula Bowl. He's 6-2½, with a strong arm and nifty feet. He'd be an ideal back-up candidate in, say, the fifth round.

\r\n\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.
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\r\n\r\n\r\nFRIDAY, APRIL 8

\r\n\r\nHe's considered the best Division II prospect by DraftDaddy.com. His name is LeRon McCoy of nearby IUP.

\r\n\r\nMcCoy is a 6-1½, 213-pound wide receiver out of Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt, the same high school that produced former NFL runner Ricky Watters.

\r\n\r\nMcCoy was invited to the combine, where he ran a 4.55 40 and had a vertical jump of 37 inches. At IUP, McCoy finished third on the school's all-time list with 25 touchdown catches. He was a deep threat who caught 36 passes as a senior for an average of 19.5 yards per catch.

\r\n\r\nHe's considered an excellent natural athlete, but figures to be a late pick because of past trouble both on and off the field. One service calls McCoy \"an immature player\" who \"needs to be constantly monitored and motivated.\"

\r\n\r\nBut he'll get a chance.

\r\n\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

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\r\nTHURSDAY, APRIL 7\r\n

\r\nThe big loser in this poke-and-prod season could be Texas running back Cedric Benson.\r\n

\r\nHe didn't work out at the combine and flopped at his pro day workout. Benson ran a pair of 4.6 40s and a 4.4 shuttle. The times are worse than the combine times posted by Brandon Jacobs, who weighs 45 pounds more than Benson.\r\n

\r\nKevin Jones ran similar 40 times at his workouts last year. It knocked the star runner to pick 30, but Jones rebounded to have an outstanding rookie season. \r\n

\r\nWill teams ever learn that production - like Benson's 4,487 yards and 52 touchdowns - means more than 40 times? With Benson, teams must also consider his character risks.

\r\n\r\nIt doesn't add up to a pretty picture for Benson, but it's difficult to see this blue-chipper slip past the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 8.

\r\n\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n\r\n

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\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWEDNESDAY, APRIL 6\r\n

\r\nQuarterback Alex Smith had such a good pro day workout, he reportedly inspired a standing ovation from scouts.\r\n

\r\nA standing O?\r\n

\r\n\"We were standing because we had no chairs,\" explained one scout.\r\n

\r\nYes, a tad overstated. But nothing was overstated about Matt Jones's workout, the best of the post-combine season.\r\n

\r\nThe 6-6¼, 242-pound Jones ran a 4.37 40 at his pro day. He also had a vertical jump of 39½ inches.\r\n

\r\nAs writer Peter King points out, Jones is faster than Braylon Edwards, jumps higher than Mike Williams and is bigger than any tight end. Jones also showed soft hands as a quarterback-turned-receiver.\r\n

\r\nOn numbers alone, Arkansas Jones figures to go late in the first round. But is he another Mike Mamula, the famed workout warrior/bust? Or is he a rich man's Antwaan Randle El?\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
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\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nTUESDAY, APRIL 5\r\n

\r\nIt's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.\r\n

\r\nRemember last Christmas? When Ben Roethlisberger slipped to pick 11? He was a blue chipper, but few top-10 teams needed a quarterback.\r\n

\r\nThe same dynamic is taking shape this year with Virginia tight end Heath Miller.\r\n

\r\nAt 6-5, 256, Miller is the rare tight end who can block, run and make the acrobatic catch down the seam. He caught 70 passes in 2003, but struggled with a sports hernia last year and caught only 41 passes.\r\n

\r\nMiller underwent surgery in January and missed the combine and his campus workout. Meanwhile, teams with the need, like Detroit and Denver, have signed free agents. \r\n

\r\nCould Miller slip all the way to pick number 30? He'd help. The Steelers don't put much stock in workouts anyway, and Ben could use a big target. \r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
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\r\n \r\nMONDAY, APRIL 4\r\n

\r\nTerrence Murphy has a visit scheduled with the Steelers. The Texas A&M wide receiver is another from the large pool of second-rounders with big-school experience, a productive past and great workout numbers.\r\n

\r\nA 6-1, 202-pounder, Murphy is A&M's all-time leading receiver, even though he played the last two years with scattershot quarterback Reggie McNeal. Murphy caught 100 passes in those two years, and also returned kickoffs as a junior and averaged 27.2 yards per.\r\n

\r\nAt the combine, Murphy ran a 4.45 40. At his pro day, Murphy ran a 3.9 shuttle and had a great vertical jump of 41½ inches. Those numbers only support the production the Steelers see on film. And with a quality quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, Murphy figures to have an upside that can't be measured with a stopwatch and tape measure.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n\r\n
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\r\n\r\nFRIDAY, APRIL 1\r\n

\r\nThe Steelers scheduled a private workout with Stanley Wilson, and if the name sounds familiar it should. He's the son of the former Cincinnati Bengal.\r\n

\r\nTHAT Stanley Wilson missed the Super Bowl in 1989 because of cocaine. He's now serving the sixth year of a 22-year prison sentence for a third-strike burglary.\r\n

\r\nHis son turned out pretty well, though. Five at the time of dad's infamous coke binge, the younger Wilson has started at cornerback for three years at Stanford. He's a fraction under 6-feet tall, 185 pounds and his official combine 40 time was 4.4 flat. His other stats are impressive: He had a 38-inch vertical jump and a score of 31 on his Wonderlic test.\r\n

\r\nThe physical Wilson is considered a mid second-rounder, meaning the Steelers would have to trade down a bit to maximize his value.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.
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\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTHURSDAY, MARCH 31\r\n

\r\nThe best linebacker prospect will make a final attempt to improve his 40 time today, but Channing Crowder can't do anything about his other records, medical or criminal.\r\n

\r\nThe son of Penn Stater and former NFL vet Randy Crowder, Channing is a 6-2, 245-pounder out of Florida who ran a 4.7 at a previous pro day. He's had two knee surgeries, but is considered an athletic leader with a brainy Wonderlic score of 30.\r\n

\r\nBill Belichick was interested enough to have conducted a long, personal interview. They probably talked about a rap sheet that Crowder can't escape.\r\n

\r\n\"There's this reputation that I'm a monster,\" Crowder said. \"If you do a Google search with my name, some of the stuff … puts your character in question.\"

\r\n\r\nLike the phrases \"beating a student unconscious\" and \"refused to be handcuffed.\"
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\r\nWEDNESDAY, MARCH 30\r\n

\r\nNFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan doesn't believe any workout number can define a football player, but the former New York Jets speed trainer thinks the short shuttle comes closest.\r\n

Kirwan says a shuttle time should come within five-tenths of a second of a player's 40 time, and that the equation can unearth value in the draft.\r\n

Take David Pollack. The defensive end from Georgia ran a 4.75 40, but his 3.9 shuttle time better reflects his playing speed.\r\n

This formula might also get Jason White drafted. The weak-armed former Heisman winner ran a 5.0 40, but a 4.2 shuttle better reflects his pocket niftiness.\r\n

Similar value might also be found in massive offensive lineman Marcus Johnson of Ole Miss and tight end Joel Dreessen of Colorado State. Keep those two players in mind on draft day.\r\n

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

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\r\nTUESDAY MARCH 29\r\n

\r\nThe free agency season came to close for the Steelers, who don't have any one great need. However, they do have some holes on the depth chart. \r\n

They don't have a second tight end. They lack depth on the offensive line. They need a back-up linebacker or two. There's also an opening at receiver.\r\n

The needs at cornerback and running back aren't pressing, but injury, age and contract concerns keep the positions on our list.\r\n

So from this list of needs, what, based on players expected to be available at pick 30, can we eliminate from first-round consideration?\r\n\r\n

That leaves this group: tight end Heath Miller, cornerback Justin Miller, edge rushers Justin Tuck, Darryl Blackstock and DeMarcus Ware and several receivers.\r\n

We're getting there.\r\n

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970

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\r\nMONDAY, MARCH 28\r\n

\r\n\r\nWhen Michigan cornerback Marlin Jackson slipped and fell on his wrist during a pro day drill, reports circulated that it was broken and he'd be out of action for 4 to 6 weeks.

\r\nHowever, X-rays were negative. The wrist is only sprained and shouldn't cause the Sharon native any draft status. That means he'll probably be staring the Steelers in the face at pick No. 30.

\r\nHe's 6-0 5/8, 198 pounds and his pedestrian 4.6 40 was offset by an outstanding 3.96 short shuttle. That's the agility number, the one the scouts judge corners by.

\r\nMany are still not convinced. After an outstanding sophomore season at Michigan, Jackson bounced back and forth between corner and safety. He's something of a tweener, and in this new finesse era of quick feet and ball skills, that's a dangerous sign.

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.
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\r\n\r\nFRIDAY, MARCH 25\r\n

\r\nWe targeted the draft range for the tackle yesterday. Now let's throw out some names.

\r\nFlorida State's Alex Barron will be long gone. So will Oklahoma's Jammal Brown. Washington left tackle Khalif Barnes was great in the Senior Bowl, but inconsistent last season. He could fall to pick 30, but the first round is too early for the Steelers.

\r\nThey could trade down and pick off 320-pounder Marcus Johnson of Ole Miss or 6-foot-8 Adam Terry of Syracuse in the middle of the second round.\r\nI'd wait until the bottom of the second, or even the third, for a handful of interesting prospects. Chris Colmer of N.C. State is one. Guards Justin Geisinger of Vandy, Logan Mankins of Fresno State and Evan Mathis of Alabama can also play tackle. That would give the Steelers depth at both spots.

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970. \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
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\r\nTHURSDAY, MARCH 24

\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Steelers came close to signing free-agent Stockar McDougle last week, but he slipped their midst and signed a curious one-year deal with Miami.\r\n

An ex-Lion, McDougle would've been the ideal replacement for Oliver Ross at right tackle, but the Steelers will instead turn to Max Starks.\r\n

Yes, Starks showed potential as a rookie, but now that the Steelers must fly without a safety net, Starks needs to show more than just potential.\r\n

The Steelers did re-sign Barrett Brooks, and the good news is he once played for the Lions! The bad news is Starks is still flying without a safety net, or anyone to push him for that matter.\r\n

The Steelers must draft a tackle early. The plan to draft a project in the middle rounds has been expanded up into the second or third round.\r\n

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23
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\r\nHere's how the Steelers can nab one of those special Auburn running backs: Wait for the second day.\r\n

\r\nThat's right. Brandon Jacobs played at Auburn in 2003. He rushed for 446 yards at a clip of 6.2 per carry, but transferred to Southern Illinois. There, in his only season as a full-time back, Jacobs averaged 6.6 per carry and scored 19 touchdowns.\r\n

\r\nJacobs is a truck load. He stands 6-4¼ and at the combine weighed in at 267 pounds. \r\n

\r\nHe lacks wiggle, and scouts are always wary of the personalities of transfers. However, Jacobs impressed them with not only his skill set on the field but his attitude in interviews.\r\n

\r\nReally, no one had to ask Jacobs why he transferred out of Auburn. The top-10 draft status of Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams answers that question. \r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
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\r\n\r\nTUESDAY, MARCH 22\r\n

\r\nLast week we sorted through the reports coming out of West Virginia's pro day, but had nothing on my favorite Mountaineer, Kay-Jay Harris.\r\n

\r\nHarris is a 6-foot, 243-pound running back who can run inside and outside. He ran a 4.56 40 at the combine.\r\n

\r\nThe knock on Harris is that after spending four years in minor-league baseball, he'll be a 26-year-old rookie. He also struggled with a hamstring injury last season, his only season as WVU's full-time starter.\r\n

\r\nBefore the injury, Harris rushed for 337 yards against East Carolina. After he healed, Harris rushed for 134 yards against Florida State in the Gator Bowl.\r\n

\r\nHarris has size, speed, can block and catch. He's the complete package, just a little bit older than you'd like. What a steal he'd be at the end of the third round.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970. \r\n
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\r\n\r\nMONDAY, MARCH 21\r\n

\r\nHoly Craphonso, Cowher! While you're watching the next Alonzo Jackson, a receiver's tearing up the track.\r\n

\r\nYes, Bill Cowher attended the Florida State pro day. It's becoming tradition for Cowher, who, two years ago, scouted and drafted Jackson, the unproductive Steelers linebacker. \r\n

\r\nLast week, Cowher spent time talking with FSU defensive end Eric Moore. Uh, oh.\r\n

\r\nJackson and Moore are both 6-4, 268. Both ran 4.8 40s at their combines. Both dominated their Hula Bowls. While Jackson had 13 sacks his senior year, Moore had only 2.5. So Moore is a poor man's Alonzo Jackson. Ugh.\r\n

\r\nMeanwhile, Craphonso Thorpe stole the show. The 6-1 receiver with the unfortunate first name ran a 4.39 40, showing he's over the leg injury that plagued his senior season. \r\n

\r\nJust hope that Cowher watched the Crap who plays offense this time around.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
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FRIDAY, MARCH 18\r\n

\r\nSteelers personnel boss Kevin Colbert hates the Internet, and perhaps with good reason. \r\n

\r\nAfter West Virginia's pro day last Friday, one of the more reckless sites reported Colbert was rooting for Pac Man Jones to run a poor 40 so that Jones would fall to the Steelers. Jones ran a 4.3. \r\n

\r\nAnother site reported Bill Cowher showed interest in receiver Chris Henry, but that can't be right. As one scout told the New York Post, the twice-suspended Henry is \"a miserable person.\"\r\n

\r\nThe report I believe came from a fan, who posted that Cowher spent most of his interview time with Rasheed Marshall. \r\n

\r\nNow this makes sense. The 5-11½ former quarterback ran a 4.5 40 that day with a 41-inch vertical leap. Marshall would be an ideal second-day pick to fill the Steelers's open fifth receiver spot.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
\r\n


\r\n\r\n

THURSDAY, MARCH 17\r\n

\r\n\r\nDick LeBeau had his pick of pro days yesterday. He could've watched Kevin Burnett at Tennessee or Shawne Merriman at Maryland, but LeBeau went to Notre Dame to see Justin Tuck. \r\n

\r\nPitt fans remember Tuck's 3.5 sacks in the 2003 game. Tuck set a Notre Dame sacks record that year, but tore his ACL in the finale and struggled last season. \r\n

\r\nTuck sat out the Insight Bowl and, as a junior, had to miss the Senior Bowl. He didn't run at the combine, thus the Steelers's interest yesterday.\r\n

\r\nA high-motor pass rusher, Tuck is 6-5, 268. He prefers defensive end, but played linebacker in some Irish packages.\r\n

\r\n\"Either way,\" a healthy Tuck said of his pro position, \"I'm going to be a steal in the draft.\"\r\n

\r\nSo happy St. Paddy's Day Steelers fans. Justin Tuck is a candidate.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970. \r\n \r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n


\r\n\r\n

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16\r\n

\r\nAt a combine full of speed, the fastest official time was turned in by Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington. He matched Deion Sanders's old record of 4.25, and that's great news for the Steelers.\r\n

\r\nWashington is a third-round talent who turned in a first-round time. Another junior, Batman Carroll, did the same thing last year. The Packers couldn't resist his speed and made Carroll the 25th pick. \r\n

\r\nThe 30th pick last year was Kevin Jones, he of the poor 40 time and electric rookie season. Carroll, by the way, had a miserable rookie season and I doubt everyone learned the lesson. \r\n

\r\nThe Steelers hope someone sees Washington in the same light and overpays for that speed. It just might push a real cornerback, say a Carlos Rogers or a Justin Miller, right down to pick No. 30.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n


\r\n\r\n

TUESDAY, MARCH 15\r\n

\r\nPitt will hold its pro day today and it figures to be a brief session. The lack of senior talent is further evidence that Walt Harris did a great job last season.\r\n

\r\nPitt has only one first-day draft prospect, and it's becoming apparent that Rob Petitti is making even that a longshot.\r\n

\r\nPetitti showed up at the Senior Bowl weighing a sloppy 361 pounds. To his credit, the 6-6 left tackle worked off 14 pounds for the combine, but couldn't work out there because of injury.\r\n

\r\nPetitti needs to show today that he's continued to work on that flabby body, otherwise he'll be overtaken on his school's prospect list by Vince Crochunis (cro-SHU-nis).\r\n

\r\nNow there's a player. The undersized nose tackle might not be drafted, but he symbolized all that went right for Harris last year.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n
\r\nMONDAY, MARCH 14
\r\n

\r\nIf Daven Holly isn't drafted, he said he'll use his college degree to go into pharmaceutical sales. He wouldn't be the first young man from Clairton to choose that career path.\r\n

\r\nYes, Holly, the Cincinnati cornerback, is from nearby Clairton. And, no, I couldn't resist the cheap shot. But unlike many from his hometown, Holly has a chance.\r\n

\r\nAt the combine, the 5-10½, 192-pounder ran a 4.4 40 and benched 15 times. Good speed, good strength, but very raw. \r\n

\r\nHolly went to Cincinnati as a receiver. He moved to corner and in 2003 led the Bearcats with six picks. Last year Holly was named second team all-conference.\r\n

\r\nHolly ran a 4.3 40 at his pro day last week, so while he's a project, he's a project with speed. And with two 7th-round picks, the Steelers might want to consider bringing him home.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970. \r\n

\r\n

FRIDAY, MARCH 11\r\n

\r\nSince we're doing that wide receiver thang, let's finish the roll.\r\n

\r\nWith such a deep crop, quality will also be available at the bottom of the second round and here are some of the candidates:\r\n

\r\n

\r\nOther candidates are Utah's Steven Savoy, Georgia's Fred Gibson and Miami speedball Roscoe Parrish.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970. \r\n \r\n

\r\n
\r\n

THURSDAY, MARCH 10\r\n

\r\nPlease, stop the e-mails. It's obvious no one likes my wide receivers. Again, my first draft included Roddy White, Reggie Brown and Vincent Jackson.\r\n

\r\nYes, I'm aware of Mark Clayton and Troy Williamson. But Clayton ran a 4.43 40 at the combine. He'll be gone. Williamson ran a 4.38. He'll be long gone, and probably moved ahead of USC's Mike Williams and into the top 10.\r\n

\r\nSpeaking of Mike Williams, Vincent Jackson is an eighth of an inch taller (6-4¾), 12 pounds heavier and a half-step faster.\r\n

\r\nReggie Brown is 6-1 5/8, 196, 4.49 and starred at Georgia.\r\n

\r\nSharod \"Roddy\" White is 6-1¼, 207, didn't run at the combine, but one scout said White has \"the best down-the-field ball skills of any receiver in the draft.\" He averaged 21 yards per catch and scored 14 touchdowns at UAB.\r\n

\r\nSo please, stop the e-mails. My guys are big, fast and can play.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

\r\n
\r\n

\r\nWEDNESDAY, MARCH 9\r\n

\r\nWide receivers tore up the track at the combine last week. The fastest was Jerome Mathis of Division 1-AA Hampton. His electronic times were 4.31 and 4.32, and an amazed Bill Parcells later said he hand-clocked Mathis at 4.25.\r\n

\r\nAnyone who saw Mathis play in the Gridiron Classic knows he can carry his pads. \r\nMathis scorched a Florida State DB for a 26-yard TD pass, crossed the field to return a kickoff 35 yards and, after taking a handoff on a reverse, cut back through the field for a 38-yard touchdown - a double reverse unto himself, if you will.\r\n

\r\nMathis was measured at 5-11¼, 181 at the combine, which is bigger than the typical small-school speedball. He averaged 36 yards per punt return and 30 yards per catch at Hampton, and is someone to consider in the first round.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

\r\n
\r\n

\r\n\r\nTUESDAY, MARCH 8\r\n

\r\nIt seems every other mock draft I read has the Steelers taking a defensive end in the first round.\r\n

\r\nIt won't happen.\r\n

\r\nSteelers D-linemen are field oxen, born to let others make plays. It's their job description. So on top of the big buck they're paying Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton, they're supposed to add another? Why? \r\n

\r\nThese experts want to shove Kimo von Oelhoffen out the door, but Kimo has plenty left, and the back-ups - Travis Kirschke, Brett Keisel and Chris Hoke - are solid. In fact, they're more than solid enough to do what's asked of Steelers D-Linemen.\r\n

\r\nPredicting a first-round pick is a matter of crossing names and positions off your list and whittling it down. So cross off the D-linemen now. Shaun Cody would be nice, but he'd only be overkill with the Steelers.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

\r\n
\r\nMONDAY, MARCH 7
If Jerome Bettis comes back, there won't be room to draft another running back. \r\nBut if he retires, the Steelers would be left with three tailbacks and a fullback.\r\n

\r\nThey'd need a tailback, but one who could bide time as Dan Kreider's back-up, and here's the perfect fit: Nehemiah Broughton of The Citadel.\r\n

\r\nNicknamed \"Nemo-sapien\" by local media because of his combination of power and speed, Broughton ran between the tackles for 793 yards last season, including a respectable 73 against the vaunted Auburn defense.\r\n

\r\nThe scouts like him. He was invited to both the Senior Bowl and the combine, where he ran a 4.55 40. He measured in at a Bettis-like 5 feet 11½ inches and a sculpted 250 pounds.\r\n

\r\nHe doesn't have Bettis's feet, but Broughton would fit the Steelers's offense perfectly and would be an ideal sixth-round sleeper.\r\n

\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n \r\n
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n\r\nFRIDAY, MARCH 4
\r\n
\r\nYesterday, we tabbed wide receiver as the Steelers' top draft priority. \r\nAt this time, we'll place the position ahead of cornerback since the latter's job description appears easier to fill.

\r\nBecause of last year's rule change, receivers are now running free through secondaries as cover corners only hope to keep up. The days of the physical corner such as Chris McAllister appear to be long gone.

\r\nLook at the Super Bowl. The once-great Ty Law was replaced by undrafted and unheralded rookie Randall Gay. And look at the Steelers: Willie Williams was far more effective than the more physical Chad Scott.

\r\nThe Steelers should be able to find a quality cover corner in the second or third round this April, so the guess here is they'll be looking to take the offensive. Again, the preference is a big deep threat, someone like Roddy White, Reggie Brown or Vincent Jackson.

\r\n\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.

\r\n\r\n
\r\n

\r\n\r\nTHURSDAY, MARCH 3
\r\nLet's set the odds right now on whom the Steelers might draft with pick no. 30. An impossible task, perhaps, but there's no better time than right here, right now.

\r\nAnd as we like to say before the flurry that is free agency, we cannot be held accountable for the Steelers' changing needs.

\r\nDropping to 30 to 1 after sitting out the combine with a sports hernia is Virginia tight end Heath Miller. We'll rank him alongside Stanford tight end Alex Smith.

\r\nAt 25 to 1 is Joey Porter-clone DeMarcus Ware of Troy.

\r\nAt 20-1 are the cornerbacks: Justin Miller of Clemson and Corey Webster of LSU. The 15-1 favorites are wide receivers: Roddy White of UAB, Reggie Brown of Georgia and Vincent Jackson of Northern Colorado.

\r\nLongshots, all of them, but we'll bring this pick into focus in due time.

With your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n

\r\n
\r\n

WEDNESDAY, March 2\r\n
\r\nEvery dog has his day in the NFL, right? I mean, that's what the draft is for, right? Well, not for this dog this year.

\r\nAfter a 2-14 season, the 49ers have the first pick, but do they even want it? Does anybody?

\r\nDo you pay one-year wonder Aaron Rodgers? How about Utah's Alex Smith? Nice quarterbacks, but we're talking $20 mil here.

\r\nThe more deserving pick might be Braylon Edwards, but the receiver crop is so deep, there's better value at the top of round 2.

\r\nHow about a running back? Cedric Benson scares scouts in a Ricky Williams kinda way. Cadillac Williams is 15 pounds lighter and a half-step slower than his teammate, Ronnie Brown.

\r\nHow about Brown? Yeah, there's my guy. A back-up in college for the first pick of the draft. Now there's a dog for a day.

\r\n\r\nWith your NFL Draft Report, I'm Jim Wexell for Fox Sports Radio 970.\r\n\r\n
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