- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ahmad Brooks knows his NFL career will start today when he is chosen in the league’s supplemental draft. He also hopes a 14-year streak ends.

Not since 1992 — when the New York Giants chose Duke quarterback Dave Brown — has a team sacrificed its first-round pick in the following year’s draft to use it in the supplemental draft, which is made up of players who have lost their college eligibility since mid-January.

Brooks, a former Virginia linebacker who grew up in Woodbridge, Va., and is the son of former Washington Redskins defensive tackle Perry Brooks, is expected to be chosen in the opening rounds. San Francisco and Cleveland have expressed the most interest in Brooks, who opted for the NFL when he was dismissed by Virginia coach Al Groh in late March.

Brooks spent nearly two months working out at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta and has trained the last two weeks in Chatham, Va., with Hargrave Military Academy coach Robert Prunty. Following a star career at Hylton High School, Brooks played one season at Hargrave.

The supplemental draft is often unpredictable because most of the players entered have red flags on their resumes. Only one player — Southern California’s Manuel Wright, in the fifth round by Miami — was chosen last year. No players were selected in 2004.

A year ago, following two stellar seasons at Virginia, Brooks was being projected as a top-10 pick. He had 117 tackles and four sacks as a freshman and 90 tackles and eight sacks as a sophomore.

Brooks’ junior season was a disaster. Knee surgery that later included a procedure to remove a cyst from behind his knee cap kept him out of the Cavaliers’ first three games. He also sustained ankle, hamstring and back injuries. Brooks played only six games and had only 27 tackles.

In January, Brooks said he was staying at Virginia for his senior season. Two months later, Groh kicked him off the team. Rumors about a failed drug test were widespread.

Brooks’ agent, Greg Williams, said the Brooks camp has been in full disclosure mode with interested NFL teams.

“That’s always the best way to go,” Williams said. “He’s made some mistakes in the past but he’s put those behind him and he’s matured from those. He’s not hiding from what he did. He can’t change the mistakes he’s made.”

Brooks declined an interview request, but he told the Roanoke (Va.) Times on Monday: “[The dismissal] was definitely a wake-up call. I didn’t want to be one of those ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ guys. It was time for me to look myself in the mirror.”

Immediately after Brooks hired Williams, the agent sent the player to Atlanta to train with Chip Smith at Competitive Edge Sports.

Since he began training, the 6-foot-3 Brooks has dropped from 285 to 260 pounds. He played defensive end at Virginia last year, but most NFL teams see Brooks as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

“Our goal for him is to be between 245 and 250 pounds going into training camp and be ready to play as a rookie,” Williams said. “He was ready to get things together. He went through a period last year when he was hurt and he gained weight. There was a brief period of frustration from last year when he first started in Atlanta, but he’s worked hard to get back to where he needs to be.”

At a workout last month in Charlottesville, a reported 31 teams — all but Minnesota — attended, including San Francisco coach Mike Nolan and Miami general manager Randy Mueller. Brooks later made visits to the 49ers and Cleveland.

San Francisco drafted Manny Lawson in the first round but the 49ers’ starter at right outside linebacker is the underwhelming Corey Smith. The Browns drafted Kamerion Wimbley in the first round and signed veteran Willie McGinest in free agency.

When he gets drafted, Brooks will have to catch up — he didn’t have the luxury of attending a team’s offseason workouts and minicamps.

“He’s up to that challenge,” Williams said. “He’s been doing a lot of extra physical work to make sure that he’s prepared going into training camp. He’ll certainly be behind in terms of learning the system but we don’t think he’ll be behind physically. He’s made sure he’ll be training camp ready.

“Whatever team that picks him is going to be proud of the decision. His passion for the game has returned, his work ethic has improved immensely and he’s rededicated himself to football. With the improved work ethic, the sky’s the limit.”

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