With their two biggest needs at DT and CB, Kentucky DT Dewayne Robertson and Kansas St. CB Terence Newman sit at top of their draft board. Several team sources indicate that club's brass is intrigued with the possibility of having the athletic Newman in their defensive backfield along with veteran S Darren Woodson, standout second-year S Darren Woodson, and second-year CB Derek Ross. If they go with Newman, they can move CB Mario Edwards to take over the nickel role and underrated CB Pete Hunter can play in dime. New head coach Bill Parcells covets a big-space eating DT and Robertson would fill the bill and then some. However, there are several inside the organization who feel Newman would be more beneficial for the club at this point. It will be interesting to see what would happen if Robertson and Newman were on the board at #5.
Just six days left before the draft and the club can go a variety of ways in the first and second rounds. Team sources have indicated that their first preference continues to be trading down where they believe Rutgers TE L.J. Smith would be a good value (likely middle of the second round). However, there is a growing feeling that Smith could go earlier than first thought and privately the club is worried they'll have some competition for his services. Though the Eagles aren't expected to have anyone at Miami RB Willis McGahee's workout on Tuesday, sources indicate the club continues to have an interest in him should he slide to #30 where they pick in the first. In fact, the club met with McGahee at the NFL Combine and isn't concerned that he'd likely not make much of a contribution in 2003 should they wind up selecting him. A point made by one source today makes sense. According to the source, just because a club doesn't attend a workout, doesn't indicate they aren't interested in a player. All workout numbers are available to each NFL team and some important workouts are taped. All this being said, McGahee is not a priority of the club. They just view him more of a great value at #30 than anything else if certain things happen on draft day. Their positional draft board is shaping up like (no particular order): TE, DE, depth at LB (maybe two), S (maybe two), depth at OL (maybe two). Interestingly, defensive end is not as high of a priority as previously thought according to team sources because the club is convinced second-year DE Derrick Burrgess will be ready for training camp if not before. This is consistent with what we were told early last month. As we stated in the last report, Memphis OL Wade Smith continues to be high on their draftboard and he could come in as a rookie and be their top backup should they go in his direction. The club continues to look at moving backup QB A.J. Feeley. If a club offers high as a fourth even for a future season, look for Feeley to be moved. We'll have more on this in Friday night's update.
Team sources indicate the Bears will not select Arizona St. DE Terrell Suggs and are very pleased with second-year DE Alex Brown who is slated to start opposite veteran DE Phillip Daniels.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Interestingly, according to a team source, the club is intrigued with Rutgers TE L.J. Smith and would select him if he dropped to them at #64. They're looking for an athletic tight end that can get down field. Considering they still want to bring back veteran TE Rickey Dudley, we can see why they like Smith. Veteran TE Ken Dilger is seen more as a blocker than anything else at this point in his career.
Even if the Cardinals wind up signing free agent WR Marcus Robinson (works out for them on Tuesday) before the draft, look for them to draft a receiver in the second round and finish with selecting two before the end of the second day.
New York Jets
Don't buy the public proclamations of GM Terry Bradway saying it's unlikely the club will try to move up in to the top-ten. If they can find a way to keep one of their two first-round picks after making a deal, they'll do it. Miami WR Andre Johnson would be the player they would target and that hasn't changed from day one.
As we reported in the last update, Marshall QB Byron Leftwich will be their pick at #10 if he's there. Not that head coach Brian Billick or offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh endorses the pick. They covet California QB Kyle Boller who has the better arm of the two according to several league sources. As we reported in the last update, GM Ozzie Newsome makes the final calls on all personnel decisions and the buck stops with him so to speak and he covets Leftwich. If Leftwich is gone, look for the club to move down, even way down to the late teens. Why? No team from 11-20ish needs a starting quarterback and several have good backups. The feeling is that they should be able to get Boller later. The only problem with that is some teams would then try to move up should he slide.
With the unlikelihood that the club will sign a free agent safety (Sammy Knight) before the draft, it's a safe bet that they'll draft a safety on the first day and likely no later than round two.