Defensive end Harvey draws attention before draft
By JOHN MCCLAIN
Adam "Pacman" Jones is taking his case to the masses in the Metroplex.
Jones, the Titans' suspended cornerback, has said twice in his hometown of Atlanta that he wants to play for the Cowboys.
On Monday, Jones is doing two sports talk shows on Dallas' ESPN affiliate. Perhaps he thinks going public in Big D will convince Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to pull the trigger on a trade with the Titans.
Jones' agent, Manny Arora, said last week that the Cowboys, Patriots and Lions were interested in Jones. The Titans want to trade him for a draft choice, and having multiple teams interested could mean a higher pick.
Jones, of course, comes with a buyer-beware-tag. Anybody making a deal should negotiate a new contract in which the deal is almost all performance-based. For instance, for every game he's on the roster, he gets a certain amount of money.
The idea would be to keep Jones out of trouble. The team that acquires him will lose him for another season the next time he gets into trouble.
Jones is a multitalented cornerback and exceptional return man. He's not a distraction in the dressing room. He's popular with his teammates and coaches when he's with them. The problem is that once Jones leaves the practice facility and his teammates, he can't control himself.
Whether it's the Cowboys or Patriots — or any team, for that matter — Jones will be an exciting player who'll bring the crowd to its feet with some take-your-breath-away plays.
At some point, though, the telephone will ring, and the police will be on the other line explaining that Pacman is in trouble again. And everyone, especially his new team, will blame everyone but Jones, but that shouldn't keep him from feeling the wrath of commissioner Roger Goodell again.
The stock of Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey continues to soar. He's 6-4 1/2 , 279 and coming off a great pro day. Teams playing a 3-4 believe he can excel at outside linebacker. Harvey should be the second defensive end drafted after Ohio State's Vernon Gholston (6-2 1/2 , 263) who, after impressing everyone at the combine with his speed, quickness and athleticism, ran in the 4.5s at the Buckeyes' pro day.
Like Harvey, 3-4 teams are looking at Gholston at outside linebacker. The Patriots could take one of them with the pick they acquired from the 49ers last year.
On the rise
Before the combine, the big question about Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib (6-1, 197) was his speed. He ran 4.46 and 4.53 at Indianapolis. At his pro day, Talib ran 4.42 and 4.44. He should be among the top three players drafted at his position.
Late in the season, just about everyone talked of Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson going in the first round. Now, it looks as if he won't go on the first day (two rounds). After Boston College's Matt Ryan, this is shaping up as a bad draft for quarterbacks. The worst since 2000 was 2002, when David Carr, Joey Harrington and Patrick Ramsey were first-round picks.
Keep an eye on ...
They're not sleepers, but three prospects flying under the radar who could be drafted higher than you think are Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge, Tulane running back Matt Forte and Nebraska cornerback Zack Bowman. Ainge (6-5 1/2 , 225) eventually could be better in the NFL than he was at Tennessee, where he was wildly inconsistent. Insiders believe that if he gets in the right system and has good coaching, he could become a starter and excel.
Forte (6-1 1/2 , 221) continues to impress the scouts. The draft is loaded with talented backs, but he could go in the second round rather than the third or fourth, which had been predicted.
Bowman (6-0, 194) overcame two major knee operations to start every game last season. He ran the 40 in the 4.4s at the combine and did it again at the Cornhuskers' pro day.
Size does matter
Scouts are really concerned about California receiver DeSean Jackson, 5-10, 167. He's an outstanding player who runs as well as many backs and is a dangerous return man, but as scouts point out, nobody successful in the NFL shares his weight range. Chargers running back Darren Sproles is only 5-6, but he weighs 185.
Jackson will be drafted high because of his talent and speed, but he'll have to be used the right way to be effective.
Attention, Red Raiders
He's not eligible for the draft, and it's against the rules for anybody to comment on him, but privately, just about every scout asked says Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree is better than any receiver available. They say Crabtree, who'll probably stay at Tech for one more season, is an extraordinary receiver who should be a big-time prospect whenever he's eligible for the draft — assuming he stays healthy, of course. They say that if Crabtree were eligible for this draft, he'd be the first receiver selected and could go in the top 10 overall.
After bombing out last season with 581 yards rushing, 417 yards receiving and scoring six touchdowns, Saints running back Reggie Bush is staying in New Orleans to work out in the offseason rather than returning to Southern California, as he did last year. Last season, Bush played on a losing team for the first time since he began playing football. He missed four games because of a knee injury. When Deuce McAllister suffered a knee injury in the third game, Bush showed he wasn't capable of carrying the load.
"I've had plenty of time to reflect," Bush said. "I missed the last four games. That really hurt me because I never really had to miss any games before. I had a lot of time to think and just go through what approach I want to take this year and how I want to go about this year and getting to that elite level of athletes.
"I definitely feel like there's a lot that I want to accomplish this year. I'm a competitor, and I'm just trying to do everything I can and get every little edge to compete and to make myself better."
What does it mean?
The Chiefs had more executives at Boston College's pro day than any team in the league.
General manager Carl Peterson, coach Herm Edwards and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey watched quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Chiefs have the fifth pick. Brodie Croyle, a third-round pick two years ago, is their starter.
"It just means we're looking at everybody," Edwards told the Kansas City Star. "I'm going to LSU next week. They've got a defensive tackle down there, some wide receivers, some defensive backs. I went to Cal last week. They've got seven guys there. I was on the news there, too. I was the only head coach there.
"You'll never know who we're going to draft. Maybe we're playing poker here. That's what's great about it."
A big problem
Although he hasn't admitted it publicly, those close to Bengals receiver Chad Johnson say his discontent is over money and that he's trying to talk his way out of Cincinnati to get a new deal. Kind of like cornerback DeAngelo Hall did in Atlanta. After mouthing off for most of the season and offseason, Hall was traded to the worst franchise in the league and was given a new deal with $24 million guaranteed.
Johnson says he won't attend the Bengals' offseason program, which will cost him a $250,000 workout bonus. He's been a regular participant in the program for every offseason since he came into the league.
The Bengals continue to insist they won't trade Johnson, but a player trying to be as big a distraction as Johnson is nothing but trouble. It's difficult to imagine them bringing him back when Marvin Lewis' job is supposed to be on the line.
Mathis' second chance
Brazoria County authorities last week dropped the charges against former Texan Jerome Mathis.
The receiver wasn't tendered an offer by the Texans; he had been accused by his then-girlfriend of throwing her down and choking her. After his arrest, she asked the charges be dropped.
If Mathis didn't get injured every season, some teams would be all over him. Eventually, some team will sign him because he's so fast and has so much talent.
Odds and ends
Titans left tackle Michael Roos, a third-year restricted free agent, has told management that if he's not signed to a long-term deal before the season, he won't negotiate during the season and will get unrestricted status in 2009. Jacksonville is hoping to sign coach Jack Del Rio to an extension. He has one year left on his contract. Unless Junior Seau changes his mind and returns for a 19th season, Cleveland's Willie McGinist will be the oldest starting linebacker in the league. He's 36 and just took a pay cut to make $900,000. Browns cornerback Gary Baxter is trying to become the first NFL player to make a successful return from two patella tendon injuries. The Vikings are still desperate for a backup quarterback. They offered the Texans a third-round pick for Sage Rosenfels. Now they're looking at Gus Frerotte, among others. John McClain covers the Texans and the NFL for the Chronicle. He can be heard on 610 AM at 7:30 a.m. Monday, 10 a.m. Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. Friday.