- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

What Washington will do with the sixth pick in tomorrow’s NFL Draft is the subject of much speculation. But what about its NFC East rivals?

Division champion Philadelphia lost backup defensive backs Michael Lewis and Roderick Hood to free agency. With free safety Brian Dawkins nearing 34 years old, the Eagles must address that position. Miami’s Brandon Meriweather and Texas’ Michael Griffin could be on the board at No. 26. So could cornerbacks Chris Houston of Arkansas and Aaron Ross of Texas. At 6-foot-1, Ross has the size the Eagles would like behind 5-10 starters Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown.

Dallas, a wild card team in 2006, needs an heir apparent to 30-something receivers Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn. But owner Jerry Jones hasn’t selected an offensive player in the first round since 1997. So, Dallas could land a defensive back such as Ross or Florida safety Reggie Nelson at No. 22.

While the Cowboys have a new coach in Wade Phillips, the New York Giants, also a wild card, have a new general manager. Jerry Reese was promoted from director of player personnel upon Ernie Accorsi’s retirement.

Reese said he likes the value at No. 20 but wouldn’t say if he plans to address the Giants’ biggest concern with an outside linebacker like Penn State’s Paul Posluszny or Florida State’s Lawrence Timmons.

“You can’t just leave a guy [like Mathias Kiwanuka on the board],” Reese told reporters, referring to the 2006 first-round defensive end. “I said, ‘I know we don’t need him at this point, but at some point he’s going to be a good player for us.’ But you just don’t say that we are going to pick the best player. You’re conscious of your needs.”

Pacman protests — It’s no surprise Adam “Pacman” Jones didn’t agree with his year-long suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. But someone needs to tell the troubled Tennessee cornerback there’s a difference between being charged and being convicted.

“It was a little bit harsh,” Jones said on ESPN. “I expected the suspension, but a whole year for a guy that hasn’t been charged with nothing, I really didn’t agree with it.”

The Titans signed cornerback Nick Harper away from Indianapolis in anticipation of losing Jones for a significant period, but No. 2 corner remains a weak spot with either Reynaldo Hill or Cortland Finnegan. The latter figures to replace Jones as the punt returner with receiver Courtney Roby the top candidate to return kickoffs.

“It’s unfortunate that [Jones’] decisions are probably going to end up costing us games in the long run,” Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said bluntly on Sirius NFL Radio.

Blacksburg on their minds — Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, the NFL’s most prominent Virginia Tech product, donated $10,000 to help the families of the victims of the April 16 massacre.

Cleveland safety Justin Hamilton, a Virginia Tech student as recently as last spring, was especially shaken by the tragedy.

“I had class my sophomore year and my junior year [in Norris Hall where 30 of the murders took place],” Hamilton told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I had class in the building right next to it, too. If I’d have been there, what would I have done? I’ve really been struggling with what decided those people’s fates and why it wasn’t me.”

Williams waits — Ricky Williams was eligible for reinstatement Wednesday, but the Miami running back — suspended for a year after failing a fourth drug test — is waiting on Goodell’s review of his case. The commissioner has until June 24 to make a decision.

Williams’ agent, Leigh Steinberg, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that his client has been passing all his drug tests. Williams and starter Ronnie Brown combined for 1,650 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Dolphins went 9-7 in 2005. Brown and Sammy Morris, who has left for New England, teamed for 1,408 yards and six touchdowns as Miami slipped to 6-10 in 2006. Third back Travis Minor also departed via free agency, making the position a need for the Dolphins, especially with Williams’ future uncertain. Williams will turn 30 in May.

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