Rumors Swirl As Draft Approaches; The Top Five

The San Diego Chargers are extremely busy as the clock ticks towards the 2004 NFL Draft. Believing the team could best be served by dealing out of the first-pick in the draft, San Diego has attempted to generate significant interest in the pick they hold.

While moderate interest has been expressed by the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, and Arizona Cardinals, a deal is far from complete. Indications are the Chargers are leaning towards selecting quarterback Eli Manning, if a deal cannot be reached with another team despite Manning's claim he will not play for them.

In Oakland, the Raiders have done an exceptional job at keeping teams at bay regarding their draft plans. With questions along the offensive line, defensively, and at the quarterback and wide receiver positions, the Raiders are in an enviable position. Cleveland, Washington, and Jacksonville all have had discussions with the Raiders, but Oakland is asking for significant compensation to move from the second pick in the draft, for which the Browns and Redskins maintain an interest. The latest news coming from the Bay is the Raiders will likely maintain their selection, the second selection in the draft and select either offensive tackle Robert Gallery from Iowa or wide receiver Roy Williams from Texas.

The Arizona Cardinals could be a wild-card in this draft. The team has openly expressed a desire to get into position to select wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but the team may have another card to pull from its sleeve. The Insiders has learned the Cardinals have privately discussed University of Miami talents, safety Sean Taylor and tight-end Kellen Winslow Jr. If the Cardinals ultimate desire is to land Fitzgerald, they have discussed trading up to the number-one spot to secure his services, as the organization is of the belief Oakland has targeted the wide receiver from Pittsburgh as a top candidate on their draft board. If Fitzgerald is on the board, which he should be, the Cardinals will have their man.

Under the direction of new head coach Tom Coughlin, the New York Giants are on a mission to prove the 2003 season was a fluke. While talks continue with the Chargers about moving up to the first selection in the draft are ongoing, the Giants are not feeling any pressure to move up. Simply, the Giants are looking for obtain a quarterback, at this time the Giants have Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger rated very closely and should come out of this draft with one of them. A wildcard in the mix is Gallery, the Giants are impressed with his ability and Coughlin has indicated his desire to add an anchor along the offensive line.

The Washington Redskins have suddenly become quiet as the draft approaches. Rebuffed in their efforts to trade up to the second-selection recently, the Redskins have debated the potential to trade down in the first round to secure additional draft selections. Washington is holding their cards closely and indications are they are focusing on tight-end Kellen Winslow Jr. or safety Sean Taylor, both players from the University of Miami.

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