Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NBA Playoffs Are Here! Hey, NBA Tickets Mean Something Now!

It's the greatest time of year! The NBA reaches it's second season. You heard it here first: The San Antonio Spurs will not -- I repeat, not -- win it all this year.

You can get tickets with a click here!

NL Scouting's Bill Chachkes' NFL Mock Draft

Billy C, my friend from the 2005 NFL Draft and whom I've featured in my coverage of last year's event, has sent his Mock Draft. Here it is:

The 2006 NFL draft-Who picks whom? And why
(AKA My Mock draft of 2006)

Now that I’ve been watching the draft for so long, I have been getting the feeling that some teams want to keep secret what there are doing from everyone else so bad thatthey go out of their way to fabricate elaborate media spins. With that in mind, why would any teams’ GM tell the truth in those media conferences. I know I wouldn’t.

1) Houston Texans-Reggie Bush-RB, USC
I don't care how many of the Texans staff went to see Vince Young's
Workout. Bush will be a Texan. Dubbed “the Ankle Breaker” by ESPN's
Chris Fowler at the Heisman Award ceremony, Bush is the Prototypical Tailback Houston needs to assist in David Carr's continued development.

2) New Orleans Saints-Mario Williams-DE-North Carolina St.
Some prognosticators have Williams dropping down to the Jets.
I seem to get the vibe that the Saints want to improve their pass rush,
even if they'd be better off taking an OT, like Virginia's D'Brickashaw Ferguson
unless Gm Mickey Loomis trades down.

3) Tennessee Titans- Matt Leinart-QB-USC
Doesn't matter that Titans QB Steve McNair is a big supporter of Vince Young, Leinart is the choice here because of Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow's Connection with USC and the Offensive scheme.

4) New York Jets-D'Brickashaw Ferguson-OT-Virginia
I See the Jets feeling the need to take a defensive star, But one of the Problems
they have had recently is protecting the QB. Weather it's the free agent newcomer
Ramsey, Or the incumbent Pennington, you need beef upfront, and the Jets have trouble keeping healthy Offensive Lineman available.

5) Green Bay Packers-A.J. Hawk-OLB-Ohio State
Some people still think one of the QB's is the right choice here, but with Brett Farve still undecided about his career, and Aaron Rodgers already in waiting, it would be foolish and wasteful to not acquire a true defensive star.

6) San Francisco 49ers- Vernon Davis-TE-Maryland
The Niners really need Defensive secondary help, But Davis is just too good to pass up, and there will be plenty of quality DB's in the second round, plus this coaching staff really wants to rebuild the passing offense.

7) Oakland Raiders-Vince Young-QB-Texas
No surprise here. Even with Aaron Brooks signed to a short term deal,
the Raiders brain trust would be making a mistake to let Young slip any farther
down. While other QB's can get the ball to good WR's, Vince can get the ball deeper.
8) Buffalo Bills-Winston Justice-OT-USC
Some might consider this a reach, but this kid can deliver the goods, and his stock has been rising of late. The Bills need to improve the O-Line, and after Ferguson, Justice is the next best Tackle on the board.

9) Detroit Lions-Michael Huff-DB-Texas
Huff is a solid fit here, as the new coach will be running a cover 2 defense that will need playmakers. Very good skills, and good explosive power off the snap, but can have trouble holding onto the ball.

10) Arizona Cardinals-Brodrick Bunkley-DT-Fla. St.
Bunkley is a dominator on the inside. The word is that the Browns were interested in him two picks later at #12, But I'll be surprised if he falls out of the top 10, as the Cards have a visit with him this week.

11) St. Louis Rams-Jay Cutler-QB-Vanderbilt
People will come to the realization that While Cutler has skills, he just didn't
Win that many games at Vandy, where he was a quality player surrounded by average talent. Once the Jets pass on him at #4, this will be his last chance at being picked in the top half of the round.

12) Cleveland Browns-Ernie Simms-LB-Fla. St.
The Browns might be blowing a lot of smoke about Simms' teammate Brodrick
Bunkley, but Simms is really the player they want in their defensive scheme. A bit
On the small side at 6'1”, Simms makes up for it with his mobility.

13) Baltimore Ravens-Haloti Ngata-DT-Oregon
I just love the way this guy fills holes, and he would look great in front of Ray Lewis, allowing him to roam free once more. Billick and Fassel would love to
get a QB here, but the top 3 will be gone.

14) Philadelphia Eagles-Chad Jackson-WR-Florida
The Birds may want some “D” But WR Jabar Gaffney is a short-term fix at best.
Give Andy Reid some credit here. He knows without T.O. he needs to draft help for McNabb to realize any success in this league before he needs a walker to go collect his paychecks.

15) Denver Broncos (from Atlanta)-DeAngelo Williams-RB-Memphis
Who are the Broncos without a stable of Runners to anchor their Offense?
A short stocky back at 5'8” & 210 pounds, Williams has a low center of gravity that makes it difficult to tackle him. There is the concern of a prior injury, but Denver may be able to afford for him to sit while he continues to recover.

16) Miami Dolphins-Antonio Cromartie-CB-Fla. St.
The Dolphins had a busy off-season, acquiring Will Allen from the Giants after losing Sam Madison to NY. Cromartie is the pick here because of his size (6'2”-205 Lbs) and good cover skills.

17) Minnesota Vikings-Laurence Maroney-RB-Minnesota
A consensus choice-Maroney probably is the third best back in the draft. The Vikings front office staff has been homing in on him for quite some time, as he plays in their home state. An underclassman that would benefit from one more year at the college level.

18) Dallas Cowboys-Donte Whitner-S-Ohio State
A Safety who hits like a Linebacker and has the foot speed to cover Fullbacks and even some slower Tight Ends, Whitner had a decent college career, but is coming out early. Would be a better fit then Jason Allen from Tennessee because of Allen's injuries.

19) San Diego Chargers-Santonio Holmes-WR-Ohio State
A “Bolts” fan might argue that a DB or RB would be a better selection here, but let's get your young QB a chance to succeed. Besides, the next best RB on the draft board is LenDale White, who didn't impress at his pro day.

20) Kansas City Chiefs- Tye Hill- CB-Clemson
A quality cover corner, he makes up for his lack of height by being a good jumper. Could be a nickel back right away, and push for a starting spot later on.
Has remained healthy through most of his career thus far.

21) New England Patriots-Manny Lawson-DE/OLB-N.C. State
Looking for a replacement for Willie McGinest, the pats like his size and ability to play both the line and outside linebacker. Although somewhat of a reach at #21,
he might prove to be more coachable then others still on the draft board.

22) Denver Broncos (from Washington)-Kamerion Wimbley-DE- Fla. St.
Having selected a back earlier, it's time to add some defensive line help.
This young man has some good passrushing skills, and is just the right size at
6'3” and 245 pounds. Only needs to learn a good stunt move or two.

23) Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Tamba Hali-DE-Penn State
You have to believe that the Bucs are looking for the “Best” player available.
Maybe an Offensive lineman would also fill a need, but Hali gives Tampa
a quality player at a position where he is sorely needed. While he weighs nearly 270 pounds, he is a bit short for an end, at 6'1”

24) Cincinnati Bengals-Leonard Pope-TE- Georgia
Next best TE on the board after Maryland's Davis, but Pope is 5 inches taller at 6'7” and has a better reach. Reminds me of Don Hasselbeck size wise, but was a better player in college. Also a deep draft for the position, if he has another good
workout his stock could rise even further.

25) New York Giants-Chad Greenway-LB-Iowa
Giants scouting staff seem to be zeroed in on Greenway, whose 240+ pounds make him an attractive fit to the Giants defense. Remember what I said at the top of this piece though. Giants GM Ernie Accorsi is one of the NFL's smartest front office men. He's also a Smokescreen guy.

26) Chicago Bears-Sinorice Moss-WR-Miami
Da Bears need some pairs of hands for the QB to throw to, weather it's Grossman doing the throwing or not. Enter Santana's little brother. The younger Moss has most of the same traits as his older brother, and the benefit of having played in the U Of Miami scheme. He could only help an aging and depleted group of wide outs.

27) Carolina Panthers-LenDale White-RB-USC
White didn't impress at his pro day, but he's still a quality back. If he's not gone by this point, Carolina will have a hard time passing up on him, with DeShawn Foster's health always a question these days. Not a strong class of backs to begin
with, so White is the last of the top few backs.

28) Jacksonville Jaguars-Davin Joseph-OG-Oklahoma
The Jags really need more then one OL out of this draft, but Joseph is a start.
A squat 6'2” 304 pounder, Joseph can really lay out his opponents. The best natural inside lineman in this draft, all he needs to do is improve his pass blocking skills.

29) New York Jets (From Denver) Nick Mangold-OC-Ohio State
Even though they already took an OL at the top of the round, the Jets really
need to improve their Line, and would not be above taking another lineman, if Mangold is still available. This would also allow Pete Kendall to move back to his more natural position at OG.

30) Indianapolis Colts-D'Qwell Jackson-LB-Maryland
The Colts front office might be reaching a bit with “D Q” here, as he is a bit small at 6'0”(if that) and just over 225. He is extremely fast however, and tackles like he weighs more then he does. No stranger to the weight room, he could bulk up a few pounds by the season.

31) Seattle Seahawks-Mathias Kiwanuka-DE-Boston College
Explosive off the snap, Kiwanuka would benefit from learning a few extra
moves. Has good potential because of his size and strength. Could become a DT if he bulked up some.

32) Pittsburg Steelers-Bobby Carpenter-LB-Ohio State
The only issue here is his injury. If the Steelers feel he will recover, Carpenter would be a boost to the Black & Gold's defense. A little heavy at 260, he might want to do a few push-aways from the buffet table. Worth the last pick of the round.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock's Press Conference Today

Mike Mayock's pre-NFL Draft press conference was held today via phone with the national media, including me representing SBS NFL Business Blog. In all, I like Mike's straight-forward take on the players, even if I disagree on his view of Vince Young. Also, Mike needs to slow down a bit, as he misses the names of players at times. For example, he said the Phili Eagles gave up on Andy Hall, when he was referring to Quarterback A.J. Feeley, whom they sent to the San Diego Chargers.

Here's Mike!


THE MODERATOR: Mike is a former draftpick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and played for the New York Giants for a couple of years and has
made a career as a broadcaster for CBS, ESPN and now NFL Network the past three years. We bill him as our draft guru, he’s covered the Combine for us and Senior Bowl and has been on college football his entire career with us. So without further ado, Mike, I'll turn it over to you.

MIKE MAYOCK: Thanks. I'm going to throw it open to you in a second. Really, I have
not done a formal mock draft. I reveal that next week, seven, eight, nine teams, four nights in a row on our Total Access show at 7 PM ET. I'd be happy to talk about any player in the country you'd like to talk about. I'd be happy to talk about any
teams you'd like to talk about. Really, the floor is yours, go ahead.

Q. I don't know if you just heard there was a trade where the 49ers acquired a second
first round pick, so they have 6 and 22 right now. What would you anticipate a trade ard between 20 and 30.

Q. Would you anticipate that they could use those two picks to move up into the top three or four?

MIKE MAYOCK: I think what they are trying to do is not package them and move up.
The reality is, I think trying to move up from 6 to pick a player at 3 or 4, you're going to have to give up that other first round pick and maybe a little bit
more. I think they have got multiple needs that have to be addressed and if they were able to come away with Vernon Davis at No. 6 and a top corner at 22, I think they would be real happy.

Q (SBS NFL Business Blog). In the context of the spread option offense, do you see a number of teams actually
incorporating part of that offense in the NFL? Part of the conversation was that is team that innovation is moving up from the high school and college ranks to the NFL; whereas, 15 years ago, it was the opposite.

MIKE MAYOCK: I really don't see that as happening. With Vince Young, I think a team is probably going to try to take advantage of what he does athletically, but that spread option offense isan incredibly simple offense. And from a defensive
perspective in the NFL, I think the last thing you want -- and I could give you the names of 31 defensive coordinators that would love Vince Young to run the ball 15 or 20 times a game.

Q. You're rating of Cutler as the No. 1 QB has drawn some controversy. What is it
about him that you rate him or what did you see at the Combine or Senior Bowl to back
your rating?

MIKE MAYOCK: I got a phone call back in September from a guy who is a good friend of
mine, a high ranking scout in the NFL, and he said, "You'd better throw some Vanderbilt tape on." This is back in September. He said, "Tell me if I'm
seeing this right or if I'm off base but I think this kid would be special."
I threw on a couple of September tapes and I could not believe the arm strength, the release, the toughness.

What really stood out to me and this is all the way back in September now, the fact that he stood in there, got smacked in the face and consistently delivered the football.

My perception on this kid is biggest arm in the draft, quickest release in the draft, he's a three-time captain, he's a smart kid, he's a tough kid. Does he have some technical issues that he's got to clean up? Absolutely. But I have watched
every one of his game tapes. Senior Bowl to me reinforced the arm strength and the difference between him and everybody else. And he's more athletic than people think. So I don't take anything away from Leinart or Vince Young, who are very
special in different ways. But I think four years from now, you're going to look back and see that this kid is the best of the three.

Q. This is a bit of a risk by you, but are you concerned that if this doesn't pan out the way you see it that it could affect your credibility going forward or are you that comfortable with your analysis?

MIKE MAYOCK: I'm not concerned in the least. I'm the guy that last year thought that Aaron Rodgers was going to fall to 24 and I got laughed at pretty heavily the week before the draft. And Aaron Rodgers fell to 24.

So to me, compared to that, this is nothing. What I'm telling people is what I truly believe. And he might not be the first quarterback to go, I'm not trying to say he's the first one off the board. What I am tying to say is that I think he's going to be the best pro.

Q. Do you think that Vince Young's choice of representation has hurt him at all or
will hurt him at all?

MIKE MAYOCK: I don't know if it will hurt him at all. Major Adams has some -- inaudible -- of feeling. I know he's got one of the Philadelphia Eagles -- I believe Sheldon Brown --

MIKE MAYOCK: Michael Lewis, I apologize. My question about representation has
been that I didn't understand what he was doing in that ESPN Made For Television Skills Contest. To me that was a situation where he had absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose. I thought he showed poorly in that skills competition. Yet, p this year, there's a lot of numbers being thrown around, especially from Bush's camp on how much of a signing bonus he may be due, and if the Saints hold onto their No. 2 pick, what kind of money are they looking at?

MIKE MAYOCK: If we are talking salary caps and bonuses, I'm going to defer on this one.

Q. Can you tell me what your opinion is on Marcus Vick, obviously as an athlete and
what he can do, and also with the baggage that he brings into the draft and where do you think he might fall to?

MIKE MAYOCK: That was well said. I believe that as far as an athlete and a football
player, he's not as good an athlete as his older brother. He's not as dangerous a runner as his older brother, but he's got a little bit better innate feel for the pass game than his brother had at this time in his career. Having said that, the term "baggage" you used is a good one. I think there's a trend in the NFL away from bad character guys, especially because the teams that are winning a lot of games
like New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina, are typically character teams.
So I think teams are shying away from those kind of guys. So I think Vick is going to be a guy that if he had perfect character off the field, you'd be talking about a late first day kind of prospect. But given where he is, I think you're talking about six, seventh, round, at best, and maybe a priority free agent.

Q. What sort of players do you see available for the Browns? They may take a 12.

MIKE MAYOCK: I played for Romeo years ago. He was a special teams coach for the Giants, and he's got that 3-4, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells philosophy. Despite the fact that they have got McGinest in free agency, they are both old. I think
you are looking at either an outside linebacker like Kamerion Wimbley from Florida State, I call a poor man's DeMarcus Weir (ph) or perhaps a nose tackle like a Haloti Ngata from Oregon. I think those are the type of players that Romeo will be
looking for, he and Phil Savage, at No. 12 in the first round.

Q. There's some thought maybe the Cowboys might draft a quarterback even
though they have Tony Romo and Drew Henson. What are your thoughts on the
quarterbacks after the Top 3, and the viabilityof the Cowboys taking any of those guys, and if you could also hit on what you think of this class of wide receivers coming in, as well.

MIKE MAYOCK: I'll do that backwards.

The wide receiver class I've been expecting a little bit of an attrition given the fact that last year there were six, and the year before there were seven
that went in the first round. This is the payback year with an awful lot of those under classmen coming out, especially at the top end. I see two wide receivers, Holmes and Chad Jackson as definite first rounders, with Sinorice Moss a
possibility; I've got him on the cusp of the first and second round. In a normal year, I wouldn't have him in the first round. I think there's some pretty
good second and third round values at the wide receiver position.

Regarding the Cowboys and the quarterback situation, you know, given the
commitment to Henson and what Parcells thinks about Romo, would they get a developmental guy -- I'll tell you a guy that's moving up charts a
little bit is Kellen Clemens from Oregon. Got hurt, missed a lot of his senior year.
He's thrown the ball extremely well on his pro day. A guy like
Campbell or Tarvaris Jackson from Alabama State who is kind of raw; I think they are two logical guys, and Clemens is a third or fourth rounder in my opinion. Tarvaris Jackson a fourth or fifth rounder. Clemens could step in earlier. Tarvaris
Jackson is a developmental guy.

Q. Did you say that you rate Jay Cutler as the guy going to be the best pro of the
quarterbacks in draft?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I've been on the record since September saying that he's the best
quarterback ultimately out of this draft class. Every tape I've watched -- I've watched too much tape of these three quarterbacks, and nothing's changed
my opinion throughout the whole Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day.

I'll tell you how bad it is, guys. I was watching Pro Day workout tape this morning, and just to see if I'm missing anything. The bottom line to me is Cutler, he's going to be the best pro.

Vince Young I have reservations on, not because he's a great athlete and a great kid, and I could care less about the wuderlick. But I do have a concern about whether or not he'll ever get to the next level as a sophisticated NFL quarterback. And in 40 Super Bowls, there's never been a scrambling quarterback that's won a Super Bowl.
Matt Leinart, I have a ton of respect for, given the fact that he understands when and where to throw the football. As a former defensive back, those guys always scared me. He's got average arm strength, great leadership, great touch and accuracy. But for a Top-10 pick, I want my Top-10 quarterback to have a better arm than

So in kind of a quick snapshot, that's my overview of the three quarterbacks.

Q. One more question about these quarterback I'd like to say that Roger Staubach
was a bit of a scrambler and he won the Super Bowl.

MIKE MAYOCK: I would say that he developed into a throwing quarterback and a
passing quarterback over time. But you're right because that was his nickname, Roger the Dodger.

Q. So back to Vince. I still have issues trying to understand how Cutler is going to
outdo Vince in coming a quarterback because it reminded me of some of the argument with some of the quarterbacks, got so much hype and never pan out. Can you give me
something with a little more meat on why Vince isn't going to pan out compared to Cutler?

MIKE MAYOCK: Sure, I'd be happy to. I've watched every coach's tape of all three
quarterbacks --

Q. In college --

MIKE MAYOCK: I'm trying to project it for you into the NFL. I don't have any other tape that I can watch other than their college tape. I watched Vince Young, what I see is a very simplified offense, that right option offense. He's got one, maybe two reads; if it's not there, he tucks the ball and he goes. Now, when that internal clock of his goes off and he's in the pocket, whether that pocket has broken down or not, he's out the gate. And I can put some Ohio State tape on for you and I can show you where the pocket is perfect, but he will not look for a secondary or third
receiver, because that clock has gone off in his head and he says, it's time to get out of here.

When a defense forces him to pull the ball down and not scramble for big yardage, his
efficiency goes way down. So in my opinion and this is really the crux of it, if you've got a Top-5 quarterback, or just Top-5 pick in the Draft at any position, if you miss with that pick, you set your franchise back three or four years, given the salary cap structure. It's even more so at the quarterback position. So you can't afford to miss. When I look at Vince Young if I'm a general manager, I'm not telling you that I don't think -- he probably will go 3 to Tennessee. But my point is if I'm the general manager, I'm not pushing all my chips out to the middle of the table
and betting my franchise on this kid turning into an advanced throwing quarterback in the NFL. I could be wrong, but that's my opinion.

Q (SBS NFL Business Blog). Are you saying, then, that the NFL does not want to teach a quarterback; they want to bring in someone they can just plug in
right away?

MIKE MAYOCK: No, I'm not saying that at all. I think that hopefully you get the best tutelage in the world in the NFL, especially the quarterback position and especially with a high draft pick. What I'm saying is that some players are not able to make the transition from runner to thrower, okay. Some players are. Steve McNair has become a
great NFL quarterback who I respect as much as any player in the game. Steve Young went from a scrambler to a passing quarterback late in his career and that's when they won Super Bowls. So guys can develop.

I just look at Vince Young, and my personal opinion is, if I had, again, to bet my
franchise on him, I'd be uncomfortable doing that. And I think some teams will look at a Matt Leinart and say, I feel a lot more comfortable there because he comes out of a pro-style attack.

There's no fear of the unknown. He's been coached by Pete Carroll, it's a pro-style attack, he knows where and when to throw the ball, he can look off a free safety, he can dunk to a third receiver. So these are all factors going through those coaches and general managers' minds that have Top-10 picks. You've got three potential
franchise quarterbacks who all should go in that Top-10.

Q. You mentioned Sinorice Moss on the cusp of the first round; who at the
University of Miami who is most likely to be a first rounder, and who projects the best pro career in your opinion?

MIKE MAYOCK: Out of the University of Miami, the kids that I really like, I like Rocky McIntosh a lot, the linebacker. He's had some durability issues. He's another kid that's on the cusp of that first, second round. I think if he stays healthy, he's got an opportunity to be to be one of those typical Miami linebackers,
sideline-to-sideline, make plays. Eric Winston is a guy that I have criticized
this year with the caveat that I thought he was a tremendous tackle before he got hurt and that knee operation. And typically I believe it takes you
two years to come back fully from that. So this year was the first year.

I had him projected as a first round left tackle prior to the injury. I've got him
as a second round right tackle right now. Now, he's the kind of kid with his athletic ability that could end up an all-pro. I thought he struggled with speed this year. He's got 32-inch arms which is not good for a left tackle; that's three or four
inches shorter than what they would like. But he's a kid that I think has tremendous upside because he's a former tight end with great athletic ability.

We talked about Sinorice Moss, very similar to his brother, doesn't have as much
production coming out of Miami as I'd like to see. And Orien Harris is another kid that not many people talk about, defensive tackle, could be a 3-4 defensive end. I see him as a second round pick also, and maybe third round pick just because of
his return. Devon Hester is another kid with tremendous potential. I don't know what the heck position they are going to put him at but you know somebody is going to draft him because of his capability as a return guy. So he's another second
or third rounder and that's kinds of an overview of the Hurricanes draft picks early on.

Q. What the Ravens might do at 13, will they trade that or will somebody be there that they just can't refuse?

MIKE MAYOCK: The Ravens at No. 13, a lot of people are trying to talk about Winston
Justice. I don't see them being interested in Winston Justice. I think a defensive tackle like Haloti Ngata could slide to them and I think he would be a guy given the fact that they lost Cablioto (ph), I think he's a guy if he would be a guy if he was sitting there at 13 they would be all over him.

Outside of that, there's a lot of talk about whether a quarterback will slide, and if the quarterback, one of those three quarterbacks slid like a Leinart or a Cutler, what would they do at that point. I know or I believe that they are also preparing for that eventuality.

Q. What do you think about the special teams players, kickers and do you think any
will go on the second day or all be free agents?

MIKE MAYOCK: I always tease that I don't really think they are even athletes so I don't even evaluate them. I've got about three really good friends that are special teams coaches in the league, and to be really honest with you, I'm scheduled to talk to them next week. I'd be lying if I told you I knew anything about the punters or the kickers.

Q. Could you talk about Ernie Simms and maybe the linebacker group in general?

MIKE MAYOCK: Absolutely. I really believe that Ernie Simms is the most explosive,
through-the-hips athlete in this draft. As far as an outside linebacker is concerned, everybody has got A.J. Hawk penciled in. I think Simms has the most upside of any linebacker in the draft. Do I think he's going to be exposed occasionally as a
rookie? Yes, he'll over pursue, get fooled on play-action. But when he gets there, he's an explosive hitter, he's going to make plays and I
think he can have the kind of impact early in his career that a Derrick Brooks or a Jonathan Vilma did.

So I'm a big Ernie Simms guy with the caveat that he passes his medical because he's
got a history of concussions. The other for sure first day outside linebacker is Chad Greenway from Iowa. He can run, but didn't run as well as people expected at the Combine but he's athletic, 6-2, 243, he's got tremendous upside. I don't see
him getting past Minnesota at 17. Then the three outside linebackers that I
have on the cusp of 1 and 2 are Rocky McIntosh from Miami, DeMeco Ryans from Alabama and -- inaudible.

Q. Do you believe that the New Orleans Saints are going to draft Matt Leinart even
though they agreed to terms with Drew Brees?

MIKE MAYOCK: I think they are doing a good job for keeping everything which they would love to do. If they stay at No. 2, I don't believe it will be a quarterback. I believe it will either be Mario Williams or D'Brickashaw Ferguson. My belief on Williams, even though they already have two good defensive ends. I do believe that's a good chance that Cutler could slide to No. 10. I don't think he'd get past Arizona at No. 10, though.

Q. The Eagles are at 14 in the first round and 45 in the second. Who do you think
might be there and how would you describe the players you think might be there?

MIKE MAYOCK: I might tell you one thing but Andy Read is going to tell you another. He's an inside-out believer, and at 14, with Jon Runyan's age, with Tra Thomas's history of durability concerns, I think if Winston Justice is there, he's real logical. I think a defensive tackle is logical, Ngata or Bunkley. My guess is Bunkley
is gone in the Top 10. Ngata probably doesn't get past Baltimore at 13, so they would have to trade up. I would like to see them look at Santonio Holmes. I think they need a playmaker on offense, but I don't think they are willing to do that. Defensively, I'd love to see them look at an Ernie Simms or a linebacker, but again that's not
the Eagles' way. So I think they are going to focus on Winston Justice or a defensive tackle. But they are the general needs, whether it's at 14 or 45, that they have got to take care of, and you might see them go with a running back a little
further down, I believe they three fourth round picks. Gerald Riggs is an interesting guy who was hurt most of his senior year, bigger back and might satisfy a need in the fourth round for the Eagles.

Q. Justice has come out and said that he's every bit as good as Ferguson, but do you
believe that's true or there's not much that separates them?

MIKE MAYOCK: With all due respect to Winston Justice, he didn't prove it on a
snap-by-snap basis throughout his career. So my reaction is he's every bit as talented physically as D'Brickashaw Ferguson, but he's inconsistent and has a certain immaturity about him right now. So for him to thrive, he needs to get an offensive
line coach that sits on his butt daily and demands perfection, because he's a talented, talented kid, but has not shown it on a consistent basis.

Q. Are there generalities you can draw about the kind of guy Herm Edwards like to
have from his draft with the Jets, maybe athletes or over guys with size and strength, that kind of thing?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I think you can draw some conclusions from Herm. You know,
Herm is a pretty tough guy, and Herm believes in mental and physical toughness. Being a former defensive back, he drafted a lot of defensive backs in New York, and he did very well with the defensive backs that he drafted in New York. So I
think that's a trend you're going to see continue in Kansas City.

I think they have got to start to play some defense out there if they ever want to get to the Championship Game. So they need an edge rusher, they need a couple defensive backs and they can continue to beef up that linebacker core.

Q. If you were to rank the first round core as 1, 2, 3, as far as readiness to play, how would you rank them? You mentioned some second and third round receivers you thought were going to be there and be good values at that point in the draft, could you elaborate on those guys?

MIKE MAYOCK: Sure. As far as corners are concerned, I've got 7 potential first rounders, realistically five of them will go. I think Michael Huff who can play free safety also is at the top of most people's boards. I think Jonathan Joseph, the junior from South Carolina has a love/hate relationship. You either think he's going to be the best corner in the draft or you can't stand him. Tye
Hill from Clemson had a tremendous Senior Bowl, track guy, real quick feet. He could step in and be that nickel corner that a lot of teams covet right away.

Antonio Cromartie from in Florida State, he's starting to move up charts. Here is a guy that started one game in three years, missed all of last season with an ACL, but he's almost 6-3, 208 pounds ran a 2:4 :40 and they are making him sound like he's the best DB to come out of there since Deion Sanders. He's a guy that's going to go
somewhere between 20 and 25 and only has one start in his career. Williams is an enigma, another guy that either is a boom-or-bust candidate, either All-Pro or a washout.

Jennings from Miami who I may have neglected to mention earlier from the Miami
discussions, he's a first or second rounder with quick feet, can step in and play that nickel defender position, as can Richard Marshall from Fresno. So that's a quick overview of the six or seven corners but I think Michael Huff will be the
guy to get on the field immediately.

Q. What about those wide receivers?

MIKE MAYOCK: I think a guy that not a lot of people talk about is Greg Jennings from
Western Michigan, high production, real quick, canseparate. I think he's a tremendous second round value, nobody is talking a whole lot about him. Demetrius Williams at Oregon, tall, thin, can separate another second round player. Maurice Stovall had a huge senior year at Notre Dame, played for Charlie Weis this year, just became a
different kind of player dropping 15 pounds. I think he's kind of a late second round, early third round guy, 6-5, tremendous red zone asset. And then
Brandon Williams and Brandon Marshall, Brandon Williams is at Wisconsin, great punt return guy, and Brandon Marshall is the guy that some scouts are teasingly calling baby T.O. out of central Florida. Lit up the whole Senior Bowl and ran about a 4:55 :40 so he's a big West Coast type of receiver. I think they are the type of guys that a guy at Oregon State might ask, they are the guys that are pretty good values that can get on the field and get some immediate production.

Q. What do you think of Jason Avant?

MIKE MAYOCK: I love him on tape. He's taken a beating lately because he ran so poorly in his Pro Day. He ran between 4-6 and 4-8 and he had a cast on one hand because he apparently broke it during the drill. I think he's a disciplined runner with great hands but there are not a whole lot of 4-7, 4-8 wide receivers getting drafted high in this league.

Q. What about the safety coming out of southern California, Darnell Bing, 6-2, almost
230, what about him?

MIKE MAYOCK: There's some mixed opinion on him. I don't believe he's a first round
pick. Some people have him as second round, some people have him in the third round. The reason they don't have him as high as Huff (ph) is because he has some coverage issues; he's 225 or 230. I almost think he would be better suited for
weak outside linebacker position, but I think he's good enough that he can make a living as an in-the-box, strong safety. He's a tough guy, but he is a little bit limited on the coverage side. So I think you're going to see him go kind of mid to late second round with the possibility of sliding into the

Q. Talking about wide receivers and a lot of wide receivers in the first round have not really panned out recently. Is there a reason behind that, that they are not quite living up to their billing?

MIKE MAYOCK: I would tell you that you could pick a couple of names each year that don't pan out. But I would say the majority of them the last few years have done okay. There were six taken last year, seven the year before, I would say
that Reggie Williams has not panned out. I would say that Rashaun Woods has not panned out. Besides that, you know, there have not been that many busts.

But what I would also say is that I believe, for the most part, it takes a wide receiver a good two years to get comfortable an NFL offense. There's so much more reading; that the defenses, are so much more complicated. If you're not on
your same page with your quarterback, it doesn't matter how fast you run and how great your hands are. So you've got to give them a little type.
Michael Williams is another guy who I did not like coming out of USC, and he struggled a little bit. So I would say that -- it really takes two or three years
for these guys.

Q. Any receives coming out this year that might make an immediate impact?

MIKE MAYOCK: Santonio Holmes has ability because of his quickness and the run after
his catch ability to make the difference. That's the key in the NFL. At the wide receiver position, who can run after the catch, and I think Santonio Holmes is one of those guys that you can put in the slot, try to simplify it for him, and let him get
open, get the football, let him break a tackle and go.

Q. What kind of impact can Vernon Davis make right away?

MIKE MAYOCK: Special. I'm a big believer that if you can get a tight end that can
stretch a defense vertically and give you some blocking on top of it, you can change your whole offense. Look at Kansas City and look at San
Diego. They have no wide receivers to speak of that are perennial all-pros, yet they continue to lead the league in total offense because they have got great tight ends and great tailbacks. I look at Vernon Davis and say here is a guy that's
ridiculous, 254 pounds, he's willing to block people. That's why I think San Francisco is going to take him at six because they have got average wide
receivers and he can help with young quarterbacks and he can be a difference maker in the NFL.

Q. The Redskins might be in the market or a weak side linebacker, you mentioned some
of the round two guys, anybody you think can step in and play right away for Greg Williams?

MIKE MAYOCK: You're right, they have one pick, I think of the first 152 picks or so. I think a guy like Jon Alston from Stanford is the kind of guy that could play in some Nickel in this case he will situations for them and help them on special
teams. But beyond that, I don't think they are going to get a whole lot of help.

Q. What about the Falcons?

MIKE MAYOCK: Atlanta did well last year with some of those type of players. Michael Bollio (ph) came in on special teams and then got to play as a linebacker. Chauncey Davis, another guy like that. So they have done pretty well with their mid to late round guys to help them on special teams. You know, I look at the safety position,
they picked up Lawyer Malloy and Chris Crocker. Are they going to try to get a young safety -- and this is a pretty good year for second and third round safeties. I think a guy like Daniel Bollock (ph) would help them immensely on special teams and down the road as a starter.

Q. What about D’Quwell Jackson, University of Maryland, any talks about what
teams are interested in him?

MIKE MAYOCK: Well, I'll tell you what, when I put tape on of him, I think he's a first round pick. I really like him a lot. Got to see him up close at Senior Bowl. His stock has fallen a little bit because he did not run that well. And I get
frustrated sometimes because to me he just looks like a football player and I don't really care that he ran a 4:07:5. I don't really care at all. I just see a
football player. I think he could slide into the second round and the nice thing about him is he's athletic enough as an inside linebacker and could
even stay on the field in nickel situations. He's the kind of guy that I think could come in and play real well early on for an NFL team.

Q. Do you see any late round quarterback that might go and have an impact in the league in a few years?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, a couple of interesting guys are Charlie Whitehurst from Clemson. There's a medical issue on him with his shoulder but he's a big, good-looking prototype drop-back passer that can throw the heck out of the ball with you he's been inconsistent. Croyle from Alabama is a guy who can be a solid backup in a certain type of offense, can be a starter down the road. I already mentioned Clemens and
Tarvaris Jackson, both of whom I like a lot. Then a couple of interesting kids to keep your eye on is Darnell Hackney from UAB, reminds me a lot of the backup down in Jacksonville, David Garrard (ph). And then there's Bruce Eugene from Grambling. If he doesn't make it at quarterback he may make it at guard because he's six feet, 262.

Q. You had mentioned that you have known Mel Kiper for about a dozen years.
What do you think of the job he does and how his visibility opens doors for guys like you?

MIKE MAYOCK: I think Mel does a fantastic job, because it doesn't matter whether it's
the first pick in the Draft or the 247th pick in the draft, he knows the kid's bio off the top of his head, and I give him a ton of credit for that. He's well-prepared and he's been living it, breathing it, sleeping it since he was a high school kid. So I respect him and my hat is off to him. The beauty in what I'm doing right now and
one of the reasons I'm doing it, and I thought of it a little bit, I wanted to be a playbook analyst and X&O analyst when I came to this network and they said, you don't have a big enough name. You only played in the NFL a couple years and nobody ever
heard of you. When he would like you to do some college stuff and personnel evaluations. My dad is a coach, I've been watching tape since I was ten years old and the beauty of what I'm doing now, courtesy of Mel Kiper, there are not a whole lot of
coaches and players retiring who want to be in player personnel. So I've got a little job security here.

Q. Could this be the year the Eagles look at some of the quarterbacks?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I think it's time to start thinking about that, I agree. They got rid of Andy Hall, the kid from Delaware they bought into for a couple of years. I think now is the time or next year is the time, depending on whether or not
a kid catches their eye they have to start to groom somebody for a couple of years down the road as a No. 3, a degree.

Q. Do you have an opinion on Eric Henderson, defensive end out of Georgia Tech
and where he may land or play in the NFL?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, he is a defensive end that has some pass rushing playability and
could play some outside linebacker. Most of the teams I've talked to have got him in the fourth or fifth round and I think that's probably where he's
going to end up.

Q. Has Vince Young's representatives hurt his position or is more of that made than
what it is? And are there any guys like DeMarcus Ware any guys would could
jump up high this year?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, the DeMarcus comparison is good, I loved him last year. This
year there is a guy who is white hot right now who I gave a third round grade to and everybody is telling me he's going to go between 12 and 20 and
that's Manny Lawson from North Carolina state, the other end besides Mario Williams. I'm not buying into the fact yet that that's what he is, but he's a 4-3 defensive end that lit it up at the Combine at 241 pounds. He ran a 4:40, he's a work-out warrior.

To me, DeMarcus showed me at Senior Bowl a year ago he was a first round big.
Manny Lawson did not show me that. So it looks like he's going to be a first round pick. I'm not buying into it yet.

The other guy that will be a first round pick, and I believe a good football player is Kamerion Wimbley from Florida State, hands-down, 4-3 defensive end who will be a 3-4 outside linebacker. I think he could go as early as number 12 to

Q. As far as Vince Young's representatives, there's been a lot of talk about him being inexperienced, have they hurt --

MIKE MAYOCK: I answered this earlier, but to give you the quick overview I thought they made some poor decisions early. I don't know why he went on that ESPN Skills Competition because he had nothing to gain and everything to lose. But
the reality -- why he would do that and not the Combine, I thought was inconsistent at best. The reality is, he threw the ball well at his Pro Day. I think he's going to be fine as far as Draft day. But a lot of people in the league right now they he's
going to be 3 to Tennessee.

Q. What about Tamba Hali?

MIKE MAYOCK: I think there was more media frenzy about Tamba Hali than 100% pure
substance. He's a really good football player that's a 4-3 defensive end. He's got tweener size. He's only about 261, 262. He probably can't stand up and play outside linebacker. He's got a tremendous first step, he's got a tremendous
motor, but I think he's probably going to be an early second round pick. I like him a lot. It's just that he's kind of an outside speed rusher that isn't as big as people would like.

Q. (SBS NFL Business Blog) Do you think Matt Leinart fired Lee Steinberg, is that going to have any impact -- on his draft position?

MIKE MAYOCK: I kind of laugh when I hear those things about the agent and impacting
his draft status. No, I don't think it will have any impact whatsoever. People are evaluating based on his tape, his personal interviews and his

Q. You mentioned the Redskins not having a lot of picks -- inaudible -- have you
seen a team that doesn't help their depth at all?

MIKE MAYOCK: It's kind of like the old days with George Allen. I agree with you and I'll take it a step further. As active as they were in this off-season and with the amount of money they spent and I believe overspent on some of those players, down the road, two, three, four years, there's going to be hell to pay with the salary cap.

Q. Two questions about Florida State players, Willie Reed, Leon Washington (ph)
both had injury problems. Your assessment of where they may end up?

MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, both of them are on the rise. Both worked out well at the Combine,
had a good on campus work out. Willie Reed I think because of his ability to separate in short areas probably goes in the fourth round, and that's, without a lot of college production. And Leon Washington, the tailback, was highly rated going
into the season, a little heavy coming into it, didn't have as good of a year as he should have. I think he's probably going to climb back into the first day and I have him in my third round right now.

Suri Cruise Is Born! - Tom Cruise's Kid's Here

BEIJING, April 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Tom Cruise's fiancee Katie Holmes gave birth to a baby girl last night, expanding the Cruise family to three.

In a statement issued through Cruise's publicist, the couple said that they "joyously welcomed" the baby.

A publicist for the celebrity couple revealed that the baby is to be called Suri, a name her parents found in a book of baby names, meaning "princess" in Hebrew and "red rose" in Farsi. But it could also mean "pickpocket" in Japanese.

The new arrival has also aquired a nickname from the American media as the TomKitten.

Cruise and Holmes were given the nickname of TomKat by the media when their whirlwind courtship caught their attention.

Cruise, 43, was married to Nicole Kidman for ten years and had two adopted children with her.

Right before the birth of Suri, Tom Cruise caused stir by boasting about eating the baby's placenta.

Cruise appears to be an overly protective father.He assigned everyone in his staff and family different responsibilities in taking care of his beloved daughter.

He said. "I don't think this kid's going to be able to walk until they're about 15! Feet aren't going to touch the ground!" Enditem


Editor: Yang Li

Aaron Rogers On NFL Network

NFL Network's Rich Eisen just interviewed Green Bay Packers and former Cal QB Aaron Rogers. Here's some highlights:

On being selected 24th in the 2005 NFL Draft: "Being the last of six in the Green Room is definetely a test of character. I don't wish it on anyone." Rogers said that as he was siting there, the janitors were cleaning the area around him.

On Brett Farve and his possible return to Green Bay. "I know he's deserved all this time to decide what he's going to do....I don't know what he's going to do. ...I am going to put myself in the best position to be ready. ..It's been a good off season. We've got about 50 guys in camp. With (new head) coach (Mike) McCarthy, we've got a new attitude."

On the possibility that they would take a quarterback with the fifth pick in the NFL Draft: "I hope not. I hope I've shown them that I've got a big upside. If they do pick a quarterback, then my days are numbered here."

San Francisco 49ers Have Two First Round Picks - Get Denver Broncos' 22nd Selection In First Round

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. ESPN News Services -- The San Francisco 49ers now have two first-round picks in this month's NFL draft.

The Niners acquired the 22nd overall selection in the draft from the Denver Broncos on Wednesday for picks in the second round and third round.
The Broncos will receive the 37th and 68th overall picks in the deal.

The Niners own the sixth overall pick in the draft as well as No. 22 in the first round.

49ers coach Mike Nolan was delighted about his trade with the Broncos on Wednesday. With picks No. 6 and No. 22 in the first round, the 49ers should easily come up with at least two starters.

"At No. 6, you have a better idea of what you are going to get," Nolan told "In the middle or later half of the first round, we are pretty confident we are going to get a good player.

"We need starters. We're not just trying to build depth. We've lost some players this offseason, but I think our trade with the Redskins for Brandon Lloyd gave us an extra third round pick. We maintained our fourth round pick. We're dealing from a better position of power."

The New York Jets are the only other team with two first-round picks in the April 29 draft.

The Broncos now own seven picks in the first four rounds. They have the 15th overall selection after moving up from 29th in a deal with Atlanta.

Denver had acquired the 22nd overall pick from Washington in a trade last April.

Information from SportsTicker and senior writer John Clayton was used in this report.

Seattle Seahawks Plan To Take "Best Athlete Available" - Seattle P.I.

Seahawks feel cornered heading into NFL draft
'Best available athlete' may not fill need at DB


KIRKLAND -- This just in: With the 31st pick in the 2006 NFL draft, the Seahawks will select ... the best available athlete.

The obvious became official -- again -- with this recent declaration by coach Mike Holmgren:

"We're all committed to take the best guy up there (on the draft board)."

This BAA approach delivered promising center Chris Spencer (last year), All-Pro running back Shaun Alexander (2000) and recently departed All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson (2001) when none of those positions was a glaring need for the Seahawks.

Rather than pass on the higher-rated player to fill a roster hole, the Seahawks were guided by the rankings on their draft board.

"It has worked for us, I think," Holmgren said.

It's a philosophy shared by club president Tim Ruskell, who joined the organization just 14 months ago.

But in sticking with their proven and preferred M.O., Ruskell and Holmgren can't lose track of the fact they need to emerge from next weekend with at least two and probably three defensive backs -- each capable of contributing immediately to the defending NFC champions, as well as insuring the Seahawks remain a playoff-caliber team for seasons to the come.

Ruskell's presence will help, because he is as good at evaluating young defensive players as Holmgren is at finding talent with the necessary skills to succeed in his hybrid of the West Coast offense.

Look at last year's draft, when the Seahawks got two starting linebackers -- Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill -- in the second and third rounds. Go back to Ruskell's one draft in Atlanta, when the Falcons selected cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the first round. Examine his tenure in Tampa, especially 1995 when the Buccaneers got defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks.
This year's draft matches the Seahawks' needs, regardless of when they address them.

"It's one of the deeper cornerback classes I've ever seen," is the way one scout sized up the position.

With that in mind, here is a look at some cornerbacks in this draft that could interest -- and help -- the Seahawks with their picks in the first two rounds (they surrendered their third-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings as compensation for signing wide receiver Nate Burleson, a restricted free agent):

Ashton Youboty, Ohio State -- The pedigree alone would be difficult to pass on in the first round. Consider the Buckeyes corners who have made the leap to the next level look as easy as jumping over a candlestick: Shawn Springs, Nate Clemens, Antoine Winfield, Ahmed Plummer and Chris Gamble.

Youboty was born in Liberia, moved to Philadelphia with his family when he was 4 and went to high school in Texas. He played behind Gamble in 2003 before moving into the starting lineup the past two seasons.

There's also the character issue that was emphasized even more after Ruskell arrived.

Asked at the scouting combine what he would bring to the NFL, Youboty said, "I think on the field I bring a complete corner.

"Off the field, I don't think you'll see me get in any trouble -- go to practice, go home, get some food, get some sleep, go back to practice."

A pair of Jennings -- There's Kelly, from Miami; and Tim, from Georgia.

Kelly could be a consideration in the first round, if the pass-rushing defensive end the Seahawks have been longing for eludes them once again. Tim could quench the need for a corner in the second round if a pass-rusher like Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka somehow slides to them in the first round.

Kelly put up impressive numbers (4.39 seconds for 40 yards and a 40-inch vertical jump) at the combine and then showed he can play a physical game in the Senior Bowl. He graduated in December 2004 and was working on a second degree last season.

Tim is short (a shade under 5-8), but one scout compared him to former Seahawks corner Willie Williams -- which is a complement. He has good measurables (4.32 in the 40; 37 1/2-inch vertical), but was suspended for two games in 2003 after being arrested for marijuana possession.

Alan Zemaitis -- The Penn State corner is another possibility in the second round.

He doesn't run (4.51 in the 40) like either Kelly or Tim Jennings, and isn't a lock-down coverage corner. But Zemaitis has size (6-1, 194 pounds) and was a tough, productive competitor for the Nittany Lions despite needing to wear a special helmet to protect facial injuries from a 2003 auto accident.

"I really feel like 40's and all that mean a lot to get you in the door," he said. "But what's inside will really carry you through your career."


A summary of the position heading into the April 29-30 NFL draft:

Best of the bunch

Pos Player, school Ht Wt Projection
SS Michael Huff, Texas 6-1 198 Possible top 10 pick
FS Jason Allen, Tennessee 6-2 200 Probable top 20 pick
CB Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech 6-2 216 Mid-first round
CB Tye Hill, Clemson 5-9 183 Mid-first round
CB Johnathan Joseph, So. Carolina 5-11 187 Mid-first round

(Rankings by Rob Rang,

THE WORD: This is a good year to be in the market for a defensive back, especially a cornerback. While the '06 class lacks that difference-maker corner who will be a no-brainer top 10 pick, the depth makes up for it. As many as 15 corners could be selected in the first three rounds, with a half-dozen going between the 25th spot in the first round and the middle of the second round. "Whenever you have one position taking up 20 percent of the picks, that's definitely unusual," one scout said. At safety, there is the highly coveted Huff and depth. As many as eight should go in the first three rounds, and eventual starters could be available on the second day.

SLEEPER: Danieal Manning. He's an early entry from a smaller school (Abilene Christian) who's not as polished as a lot of the defensive backs available. But Manning is an intriguing prospect because of his size (almost 5 foot 11 and 202 pounds) and versatility (he returned a kickoff, a punt and an interception for touchdowns last season). He hasn't played against top competition, but Manning stood out at the East-West Shrine game and could develop into a starter while helping on special teams.

WHAT ABOUT: Ko Simpson. One mock draft has the free safety from South Carolina going to the Seahawks with the 31st pick overall. But Simpson has drawn red flags after not interviewing well at the NFL scouting combine in February and because he's still maturing as a person and player -- he decided to leave school after only two seasons. Simpson made a lot of tackles (103 last season) and is an instinctive athlete.

SEAHAWKS NEEDS: Off the chart -- and right at the top of their draft board under the "need" category. The Seahawks must upgrade the quality and depth in their secondary after losing free safety Marquand Manuel in free agency (Packers) and releasing cornerback Andre Dyson (signed with the Jets). They can use a corner or two -- one capable of challenging to be the starter opposite Marcus Trufant. They also need a safety because it's not a given that Ken Hamlin can return from the severe head injuries he received in an altercation outside a Seattle nightclub last October. If one of the rookies is proficient at returning punts and kickoffs, all the better. The club continues to talk with the agents for veteran free agents Ty Law and Lance Schulters, but signing them would not address the long-term situation.

-- Clare Farnsworth

P-I reporter Clare Farnsworth can be reached at 206-448-8016 or

Vince Young, Matt Leinart, and Michael Huff To Visit The Oakland Raiders - Tribune

Top pair of Horns to visit Raiders
Vince Young, DB Huff likely to be in town before NFL Draft

By Jerry McDonald, STAFF WRITER

With an eye toward the future, the Oakland Raiders are expected to visit with quarterbacks Vince Young and Matt Leinart within the next few days.

With an eye toward the present, they'll bring in defensive back Michael Huff.

Young, who led Texas to an NCAA championship, is scheduled to visit with the Raiders today, agent Major Adams told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. Leinart, in an on-line diary on, wrote that he will arrive in Oakland on Thursday night.
Huff, a likely top 10 selection from Texas who can play cornerback or safety, told reporters during a visit with Dallas he would be in Oakland today.

The Raiders, as a matter of policy, do not confirm visits of potential draftees in advance. A team official said, however, it was fair to assume all three men would be in Alameda before the draft on April 28-29.

Having signed Aaron Brooks and drafted Andrew Walter in the third round last season to go along with the presence of erstwhile backup Marques Tuiasosopo, the Raiders would seem to have more immediate needs than adding another quarterback.

Only Raiders owner Al Davis knows whether Young's stunning physical gifts or Leinart's reputation as a winner with USC would be worth using the No.7 pick in the first round should either man be available.

At the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, coach Art Shell said his philosophy was to keep a young quarterback on the bench when there is a capable veteran on the roster.

"I think what Cincinnati did with Carson Palmer was excellent. I think what Tennessee did with Steve McNair, when they sat him down, was excellent," Shell said. "It gives those guys a chance to see what is going on, and to learn. If you bring in a young guy and throw him to the wolves, that's hard. Some guys can be broken that way."

Huff, at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, said in interviews with NFL Network and USA Today he modeled his game after Charles Woodson. Huff is excellent in run support and is considered one of the top three defensive players in the draft along with North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams and Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk.

At the NFL scouting combine, Huff ran 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash. While opinion is split on whether Huff will be a cornerback or safety, the Raiders — with Fabian Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha as returning starters — would seem to be looking for a safety to play alongside Stuart Schweigert.

Texans Apparenly Using Mario Williams As Bait To Lower Reggie Bush' Contract Demands

I'm certain the problem is that "Team Bush" is asking for quarterback-level dollars -- something like a $50 million signing bonus and $70 million contract -- and the Texans aren't going to pay that. So, enter Mario Williams. For draft first-timers, it's not the first time a defensive player would be picked number one. The Dallas Cowboys did it with Russell Maryland.

April 18, 2006, 11:28PM

Flirtations before draft make Houston spin city

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

The Texans insist there's no guarantee they will use the first pick in the draft on running back Reggie Bush.

The Texans swear that those of us who believe Bush's name will be the first called by commissioner Paul Tagliabue on April 29 could end up being terribly wrong.

When team executives talk so glowingly about defensive end Mario Williams, they do so almost in unison, as if they're reading from a script.

You point out to them that they invited Williams to visit them one day after Bush and agent Joel Segal left town. You mention that even though both sides insist money was never brought up while Bush and Segal were in town, rumors are circulating that the agent mentioned figures so preposterous that they called Williams the next day.

Merely coincidences, the Texans claim. They say they really are as enamored of Williams as they are of Bush. They say they think both will be superstars. They insist that coming down the stretch, Williams has closed the gap with Bush, and it's a dead heat.

They also know hardly anyone believes them. And they're right.

Most of us can accept taking Bush over Vince Young. Bush has impeccable credentials. He's instant excitement. He has take-your-breath-away speed and quickness, and every time he touches the ball he's capable of scoring. And Bush has the fear factor in his favor. When the huddle breaks, the defense has to account for him all over the field.

Big and speedy

The Texans agree, but they counter that Williams (6-7, 295) runs a 4.70 40-yard dash, bench-presses 18-wheelers and has other impeccable credentials. When the ball's snapped, he's instant excitement, too. Just imagine him bearing down on Peyton Manning. Just imagine the kind of rush Williams will provide.
Yeah, but Williams doesn't score touchdowns. Bush will score a lot more than Williams prevents.

Still, during peak smoke-
screen season, when we know team executives around the league are lying because their lips are moving — what if the Texans are telling the truth?

What if coach Gary Kubiak really does believe Williams is the best prospect in the draft? Not the best defensive prospect, which everyone agrees on, but the best prospect overall. Perhaps even one of the best ever.

Kubiak loves to watch tape of players. When he hits the pause button, perhaps he leans back and thinks, "Would I rather use my first draft choice as a head coach on the next Reggie White or the next Barry Sanders?"

After leaving Philadelphia, White helped turn around a franchise and won a Super Bowl ring with Green Bay.

Sanders was one of the greatest and most exciting runners in history, but the closest he got to the Super Bowl was a big-screen television.

Still, White wouldn't have won a Super Bowl without Brett Favre. Perhaps Sanders would be wearing a Super Bowl ring if he had played with White or Favre.

Good predicament

The Texans say they're torn right now. And they say it with a straight face. When they say it, their fingers aren't crossed. Their toes aren't, either.
Perhaps owner Bob McNair really was serious last week when he said the Texans believe Williams can make the same kind of impact on defense that Bush can make on offense.

Williams plays the position that's ticketed for Anthony Weaver, the most expensive free agent signed this offseason.

But Williams is so good he can play the right side. In passing situations, imagine a scenario where Williams would move to left end when Weaver moved inside. Antwan Peek would come off the bench.

Bush, of course, could line up in the I-formation or one- and two-back sets. He also could line up at wide receiver or in the slot.

He can also return kickoffs and punts, which Williams can't do. At least, we don't think he can.

So this is what we've come to: Bush vs. Williams instead of Bush vs. Young.

Decisions, decisions.

No matter how much the Texans insist they've fallen in love with Williams and that it's not just a spring fling, here's something we can't get beyond: that the Texans' interest in Williams will disappear if Segal calls and says something like, "I really would like to get this deal done before the draft so Reggie and I can parade around Manhattan next week like a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

John McClain covers the Texans and the NFL for the Chronicle.

Bush' Press Secretary Scott McClellan Gives Up - Washington Post

These actions don't just happen without reason. Scott became the whipping boy for President Bush and it's certain the resultant stress took its toll. His meetings with the press became battles, and it seemed clear he was not able to separate business from personal response. He will no go down as the best press secretary, but certainly the most combative.

McClellan Out as White House Press Secretary
Karl Rove Gives Up Policy Oversight to Focus on 2006 Elections

By Fred Barbash and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 19, 2006; 10:21 AM

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced his resignation this morning and President's Bush's longtime adviser Karl Rove is scaling back his responsibilities.

It was the third major change at the White House in the past few weeks and perhaps the most visible to the public, as McClellan is the most televised face of the administration through his often-combative daily briefings.

McClellan's resignation was not unexpected.

Rove, who was named a deputy chief of staff for policy after Bush's second election, will leave that post to spend more time on politics as the mid-term elections approach. He is expected to be replaced by Joel Kaplan, who now serves as deputy White House budget director.

Appearing with Bush on the White House South Lawn just before the president left for a trip to Alabama, McClellan told Bush: "I have given it my all sir and I have given you my all sir, and I will continue to do so as we transition to a new press secretary."

Bush thanked McClellan for "a job well done."

"I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity," Bush said. "It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days."

Earlier today, Bush, concerned about a dangerous "vacuum" in Iraq, once again prodded Iraq's political leadership to put a "government in place" soon.

"We fully recognize that the Iraqis must step up and form a unity government, so that those who went to the polls to vote recognize that a government will be in place to respond to their needs. . . .

"We also recognize that vacuums in the political process create opportunity for malfeasance and harm," he said.

Bush commented after meeting with four governors who recently returned from a trip to Iraq. The governors included Jeb Bush, Republican of Florida and the president's brother; Tom Vilsack, Democrat of Iowa; Mitch Daniels, Republican of Indiana and former director of the White House budget office; and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia.

Four months of haggling among Iraqi politicians have now passed since the country went to the polls to choose elected representatives, who were, in turn, supposed to choose a government.

The 275-member assembly had been scheduled to meet Monday but agreed to a delay so that Shiites could resolve the continuing dispute over who will be prime minister.

Staff writer Bill Brubaker contributed to this story .

Duke Lacrosse Scandal - First Arrests Made

The Prosecutor seeks 3rd suspect in Duke rape case
Two lacrosse players charged with rape, kidnapping

Wednesday, April 19, 2006; Posted: 1:38 a.m. EDT (05:38 GMT)

DURHAM, North Carolina (CNN) -- Two Duke University lacrosse team members were charged Tuesday in the rape of a woman hired to dance at a team party, and the district attorney is trying to determine the identity of a third suspect.

Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, both sophomores, are charged with first-degree forcible rape, first-degree sexual offense and kidnapping, officials said.

District Attorney Mike Nifong said authorities were trying to gather sufficient evidence to identity a third suspect. (Two Duke students surrender -- 2:10)

"It had been my hope to be able to charge all three of the assailants at the same time, but the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that," Nifong said.

"It is important that we not only bring the assailants to justice but also that we lift the cloud of suspicion from those team members who were not involved in the assault."

Kirk Osborn, one of Seligmann's attorneys, said lawyers arranged the surrender of the two men early Tuesday.

"It's hard to put in words the unfairness and injustice," Osborn said. "We look forward [to] showing he is absolutely innocent as soon as we can." (Watch as CNN's Jeffrey Toobin explains what will happen to the two students -- 2:15)

Another defense attorney, Bill Thomas, called the indictments "absolutely outrageous."

"The two that they indicted had no contact with this woman whatsoever," he said. "We are shocked, absolutely shocked. We always thought she would pick out someone who at least had a conversation with her."

Sources close to the investigation said Tuesday that the defense will present evidence -- including ATM receipts -- that neither Seligmann, 20, nor Finnerty, 19, were at the team party at the time the alleged rape took place.

A cab driver allegedly carried one of the young men to an ATM, where a security camera captured his picture, the sources said, and the other man was reportedly at a restaurant.

Deputies brought the two men to Durham County jail before 5 a.m. ET Tuesday, and they were fingerprinted and photographed.

Seligmann waived his right to appear in court and was represented by his attorneys. Finnerty made a brief court appearance. Both men posted $400,000 bail. Their next court date is May 15.

Upon leaving jail, Seligmann ran with another man to a Ford Explorer with New Jersey license plates, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported. The vehicle then ran a red light, according to the paper.

The newspaper identified Seligmann's hometown as Essex Fells, New Jersey, and Finnerty's as Garden City, New York.

In November, Finnerty was arrested on assault charges in Washington, according to the paper. Citing his attorney, the paper said Finnerty had been ordered to perform community service and the charges would be dropped if he performs the service and avoids new arrests.

A grand jury in North Carolina returned sealed indictments Monday against Seligmann and Finnerty.

A 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University told police three men raped and beat her March 13 at an off-campus party thrown by Duke lacrosse players.

She and another woman were hired to perform as dancers there. The case has inflamed racial and economic divisions in Durham, which is home to both the accuser's historically black public university and the elite Duke. She is African-American; the accused are white.

On Tuesday, the woman's cousin said the indictments brought some degree of vindication. "We just want to let her know we're there for her, because she's been afraid to talk to so many people for so long," said Jackie, whose last name was withheld to protect the accuser's identity.

"She's a very sweet girl. She's very humble. She's the youngest of three, very quiet," the cousin said.

"She's your average 27-year-old trying to take care of her family," she added, referring to the woman's two children.

Court documents filed in the case have said a medical examination of the accuser showed signs consistent with sexual assault. DNA samples from the players failed to match material collected by investigators, defense attorneys hired by some of the players said last week.

The defense lawyers also said photos taken at the party show the woman was injured before she arrived.

The allegations have resulted in the cancellation of the lacrosse season, the resignation of the team's coach, Mike Pressler, and public scrutiny of what Duke President Richard Brodhead called the "history of boorish behavior and underage drinking" among players.

Duke's athletics director, Joe Alleva, had warned Pressler to get his team "in line" following a high-level review of disciplinary records last year, The (Durham) Herald-Sun quoted Alleva as saying Monday.

The paper also quoted the dean of students, Sue Wasiolek, as saying her office had compiled a "disproportionate" number of violations and that about half the team had been cited for alcohol violations and disruptive conduct.