Friday, April 28, 2006

Still committed to 2002 No. 1 overall pick David Carr at quarterback, Houston will take either Southern Cal running back Reggie Bush or N.C. State defensive end Mario Williams with the first pick of tomorrow’s draft. New Orleans, having signed top free agent quarterback Drew Brees, will pass on national championship passers Matt Leinart and Vince Young at No. 2 and pick Williams or Virginia offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. That will leave Tennessee with a pleasant dilemma at No. 3.

The Titans, with the departure of longtime starter Steve McNair likely, will choose a quarterback. But which one?

Bush’s Southern Cal teammate, Leinart, is the obvious choice. After all, Leinart won the Heisman Trophy and led USC to the national title in 2004 while playing for Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow. And Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher is a former Trojan, too.

“Matt doesn’t have to convince me, but we all have to get it done,” Chow said. “I’m sure the general manager and the head coach will make a good decision.”

Texas’ Young, who out-dueled Leinart for last season’s national championship, reminds many observers of the athletically gifted McNair, who led the Titans to the playoffs four times and to the Super Bowl once from 1999 to 2003.

“Right now, we have to call it a draw,” Titans GM Floyd Reese said after the on-campus workouts of Leinart and Young.

The Titans also could be tempted to take the hometown hero, Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler, who some believe eventually will be the best of the three quarterbacks. Tennessee is contemplating trading down a couple of spots to acquire an extra pick and still grab Cutler, but the New York Jets might select him at No. 4. Cutler likely won’t fall past Arizona (No. 10) while Young shouldn’t last past Oakland (No. 7).

It says here that Leinart will be Tennessee’s guy.

“I hope we get a guy who can be our leader for about 10 years,” Titans owner Bud Adams said. “It’s time for that, I think.”

Nice problem, don’t you think?

Packers in the QB mix? — Even though Brett Favre is returning for a 15th and final season as Green Bay’s quarterback and the Packers used last year’s first-round pick on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, GM Ted Thompson couldn’t contain his excitement after Young’s on-campus workout.

“Man, what a performance,” Thompson said. “What impressed me the most was his velocity on all his throws. He’s got a big arm, but he’s just so smooth in everything he does. He threw some great deep balls going right and left.”

Thompson likely will choose Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk with the fifth choice, but the GM used an NBA analogy to hint at taking Young.

“If you have a chance to get Michael Jordan, you take Michael Jordan,” Thompson said.

Savagely honest — Unlike so many of his colleagues who don’t like to comment on possible draft picks, Cleveland GM Phil Savage was remarkably candid in evaluating Young and Bush.

“[Young has] operated in a shotgun offense with pretty vanilla reads and if those reads weren’t there, he could take off and run with it,” Savage said. “If he came on your team you’d almost have to have two different offenses. You’d have to be really convinced if that’s what you want to do.”

As for Bush, Savage doesn’t think he could handle a full-time workload at 200 pounds.

“At his size when you’re carrying it 20 or 25 times a game for 16 games, that’s almost an impossibility for somebody to do that the way the game is played right now,” Savage said.

Born for stardom? — Forget Bush, Leinart, Young and the rest of the surefire first-rounders. The prospective member of the class of 2006 who’s spent his whole life in the celebrity swirl is Morehouse (Ga.) running back John David Washington. His father is two-time Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington. As a sophomore in 2003, the younger Washington broke the school rushing record with 241 yards in a game, and he made first-team all-conference in 2005.

Maybe Tennessee, which signed the late Walter Payton’s son, Jarrett Payton, as a rookie free agent back in 2005 will see fit to add another running back son of a celebrity. After all, Washington’s father did star in “Remember The Titans.”

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