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Old 03-15-2007, 12:37 PM    (permalink
TheMadLionsFan
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Default Interesting article on NFL.com

Nothing as it seems at top of the draft


By Adam Schefter
NFL Analyst





(March 14, 2007) -- These days -- and in all the days leading up to the draft April 28-29, really -- intrigue is a one and a two and a three.

As in Oakland at No. 1, Detroit at No. 2 and Cleveland at No. 3.


Adam Schefter looks at the decisions facing the teams with the top three draft picks.

Video: 56k | 300k

Other teams aside from the Oakland Raiders already are calling to schedule private interviews in their cities with LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Teams that have expressed an interest in meeting and speaking with Russell include the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. Others interested in interviewing him include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.

If any of those teams or any other is enamored enough with Russell -- and Browns general manager Phil Savage could be, as he has known the LSU quarterback for years now -- it could put together a blockbuster package of picks to trade to Oakland for the right to draft No. 1 and Russell.

The Raiders also are enamored with Russell -- they met with him Tuesday night and came away impresed -- but are trapped at No. 1. They cannot risk trading out of No. 1 and still expect to land a franchise quarterback in this draft. It no longer looks as if it will happen.


JaMarcus Russell likely will have to ponder what team he will end up with right up to draft day.
Closely monitoring all the behind-the-scenes talks are the Detroit Lions, holder of the No. 2 pick. Fact: The Lions already have had extensive trade discussions with multiple teams about trading out of their draft slot. Those are only going to continue, all the way up to the draft or until a trade is consummated.

One Lions official confirmed Wednesday that the team is willing to listen to offers, and that is receiving many more calls than it is making. At least two of those calls have been from teams in the top 10, trying to trade up and position itself for either Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn or Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Many speculated that Detroit was sold on Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas with the No. 2 pick, but the Lions' actions tell an entirely different story. They are hardly wedded to Thomas; they only are committed to getting the best possible value for the No. 2 selection, even if it comes via trade.

This all leaves the Cleveland Browns in a precarious position. Multiple NFL sources said Browns upper management is urging the team to draft a quarterback, with Russell being the top choice, and Quinn being a logical second.

Some within the Browns organization do not want the teams to hold the No. 3 pick and not come away with a potential franchise quarterback.

The Lions know this and it is one reason they are engaged in as many discussions as they are. To ensure themselves a quarterback, the Browns will have to trade up to No. 1 or No. 2 to get him.

As one general manager with a top-10 pick emailed Wednesday: "Cleveland's owner told (the Browns) to draft a QB. The Lions want it known that they have the pick for Quinn. Minnesota and Houston will have to react. All this Quinn dropping talk is from people who have no clue about the draft."

Until recently, the consensus had been that Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson would be the surefire No. 3 pick. But the Browns are concerned about some of his running habits, his durability and the value of picking a running back at No. 3 when a quarterback is within their grasp.

So the question then becomes, if Quinn goes in the top three, where does Peterson go? And as great as some NFL personnel people think Peterson has the potential to be, it's possible that he could slide to Atlanta at No. 10 or Buffalo at 12.

Nobody would be any happier about that scenario than the Bills, who traded Willis McGahee to Baltimore and left a huge void at running back. Buffalo now has a big question mark at the position, just like all the talk surrounding the teams with the top three picks in this draft.

Bottom line is this: As free agency cools down, draft talk is heating up. And it is going to stay hot for another six weeks.
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