Draft Notes and Rumors

With the college player draft a mere week away, the process of burning up the telephone phone lines has begun. While the regular season in the National Football League garners the attention of the common fan, it is the off-season and the draft which may be the most exciting and enticing time to be a football fan.

Due to the importance placed on the college player draft when plotting the future of an NFL team, the big-business aspect of the game results in all organizations bunkering down in a sincere effort to ensure their plan is not disclosed. As the clock ticks towards draft day, the posturing process begins and signals provided to the representatives are mixed to keep the guesswork in tact, leaving room for speculation and further discussion.

Welcome to the final days leading up to the college player draft from the perspective of those in and around the National Football League, along with some much-appreciated assistance of those representatives which live to keep their clients in the spotlight.

At this time it does not appear the San Francisco 49ers will have a partner in dealing the first overall selection in the draft. The quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers (California) and Alex Smith (Utah) appear to be the priority in discussions regarding the 49ers and the first selection. While wide receiver Braylon Edwards (Michigan) has been mentioned in the mix on the San Francisco draft board, the ultimate decisions appear to be focusing on the two young signal-callers.

League sources have told Scout.com the negotiation process is underway with Rodgers and Smith and early indications are representatives for Rodgers are confident a deal will be completed to ensure the University of California quarterback would be the first player selected in the draft.

The Miami Dolphins have had some on-again, off-again discussions with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second overall selection in the draft. While the feel is Miami will jump on Auburn running back Ronnie Brown, betting the farm on this at number two may be questionable. The Dolphins have expressed an interest in dropping down a few positions, if this move would leave them in line to select one of the top running backs or the potential exists for Miami to hold tight and select Alex Smith with the second selection. The Dolphins desperately need to improve their poor rushing attack, but running back Lamar Gordon will return from injury and the organization isn't ready to give up on the 2004 acquisition from the St. Louis Rams. Looking to add talent and youth to the roster, head coach Nick Saban is open to dealing if it results in adding early draft selections.

The Buccaneers, thought to be locked in on Auburn running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams have entertained the notion of positioning themselves to make a run at USC wide receiver Mike Williams or Utah quarterback Alex Smith. Tampa Bay has been in contact with the Cleveland Browns regarding the third pick in the draft. If Smith is available at number three, the Buccaneers and Browns could climax a deal which would involve Tampa Bay's first-round draft selection, the fifth overall and second-year quarterback Chris Simms for the Browns' pick and the third overall in the first round.

Cleveland is in an interesting position. Holding the third pick in the draft, the Browns are known to be in the market to deal down in the draft. Looking to obtain additional selections to revamp a questionable roster, Cleveland has talked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, and San Diego Chargers in recent days. If the Browns are unable to secure a trade on draft day, with the third selection Smith and Braylon Edwards appear to be the most logical choices. If trading down, the Browns are believed to have a serious interest in wide receiver Troy Williamson, defensive end/outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, and offensive tackle Alex Barron.

Just a few weeks back, the Minnesota Vikings were believed to have locked in on wide receiver Mike Williams. While the Vikings remain seriously interested in the standout from USC, indications are Minnesota could pull a surprise on draft day and select wide receiver Troy Williamson from South Carolina with the seventh selection in the draft, even if Williams is available. Looking to solidify the wide receiver position after dealing Randy Moss to Oakland, the Vikings are enamored with Williamson's explosiveness, much like that of Moss, without the attitude and baggage, according to a team source, though passing on Williams may be too great a risk for the Vikings.

The Arizona Cardinals have quietly been working the phones in anticipation of the draft. Head coach Dennis Green is far from enamored and much less confident in his running game, defensive backfield and future at the quarterback position. For the past two months, the Cardinals and Buffalo Bills have danced around a deal which would send running back Travis Henry to Arizona for offensive tackle L.J. Shelton. If a deal is completed for Henry, the Cardinals have been testing the waters to see if they could move up in the draft to select quarterback Alex Smith or stand pat and elect to improve their questionable cornerback situation. With the eight selection in the draft, the Cardinals could make a move on Antrel Rolle from Miami or Adam "Pac-Man" Jones from West Virginia, but in recent days we are hearing Arizona has expressed an interest in outside linebacker Derrick Johnson from Texas.

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