11. Pittsburgh - BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB, MIAMI (OHIO)
The Steelers simply love the athleticism and huge arm quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has shown in drills during pre-training camp practice sessions. According to a member of the Pittsburgh organization, Roethlisberger is everything they expected upon selecting him with the eleventh selection in the first-round of the 2003 draft. Noting Roethlisberger has shown the ability to consistently make all the throws required of an NFL quarterback, he has also shown serious progress in recognizing and reacting to different defensive looks. Through early camp, Roethlisberger hasn't appeared to be overwhelmed by the professional experience, which should bode well for continued improvement. Discussions have recently begun regarding a contract for the Steelers quarterback of the future and within the walls of the Pittsburgh organization, the future may be sooner than they originally expected.
12. NY Jets - JONATHAN VILMA, ILB, MIAMI (FLA.)
Speed is one aspect the Jets sought following a 2003 season where this New York team appeared one-step behind the opposition. In Vilma, the Jets believe they have the player which will provide the team with improved speed, quickness, and athleticism that the team has been lacking for the past few seasons. Vilma has shown his athletic ability in practice sessions, but isn't completely up to speed in regards to his responsibilities and defensive terminology. According to one member of the Jets coaching staff, Vilma is still thinking a little too much, rather than reacting to the play. Additionally, the team is taking the progress in stride and expects Vilma to be a solid contributor in his rookie season. Some sporadic contract talks have taken place, but nothing substantial has progressed at this time.
13. Buffalo - LEE EVANS, WR, WISCONSIN
A deep-ball threat, a playmaker is the type of player the Buffalo Bills sought heading into the off-season. Never seemingly able to recover from the trade which sent wide receiver Peerless Price to the Atlanta Falcons prior to the 2003 season, the Bills struggled offensively. Lee Evans, fully recovered from knee injuries suffered at Wisconsin has been to this date a great addition for the Bills. Showing great speed and a tremendous burst off the ball, Evans has been simply a standout player and legitimate threat in passing camp. Thus far in practice and workout sessions, the Bills staff has modified some of the workout habits and strength/conditioning exercises of Evans. The change is expected to further develop the splendid athletic ability of the fleet of foot receiver. Initial contract talks have started with no progress to report at this time. If anything, Evans stock has soared with his very unordinary performances.
14. Chicago - TOMMIE HARRIS, DT, OKLAHOMA
New Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith preaches athleticism at every position on the roster, which includes at the often physical defensive tackle position. Tommie Harris from Oklahoma fits the bill of being a quick interior defensive lineman, in very good physical condition. Relatively lacking depth at the position, the Bears are counting on Harris to emerge as a force in the middle of the Chicago defense. Presently, some discussion on contract parameters have been tossed about, but there appears to be a significant amount of ground to be made up between the two parties. Right now, the smart money is on Harris not making it to training camp on time with his Bears' teammates.
15. Tampa Bay - MICHAEL CLAYTON, WR, LSU
Most teams did not rate this wide receiver from LSU nearly as highly as Jon Gruden has in Tampa. Not to disappoint, Clayton has done very well in practice sessions, even impressing the often-critical Gruden with his ability to body a defensive back. Using his hands and body to position himself for the reception, Clayton has shown the ability to separate from a defensive back better than expected and much quicker than the team anticipated with professional camp experience. During pre-draft timing drills, Clayton was basically a 4.55 guy, but with modified training and workout regiments, Clayton is believed to have knocked almost a full tenth off his time and has become quicker coming out of his breaks. Contract talks have been initialized, at this time there is no progress to report.
Rookies Entering Training Camp 11-15
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