We haven't heard the ominous name of Lawrence Phillips in some time, yet a sliver of NFL fans seem to believe this draft contains a similarly troubled incarnation.
Readers were split this week on quarterback Adrian McPherson, who is looking for a second chance after theft and gambling charges bounced him from college football. While some appear ready to offer McPherson another opportunity, we had a few emails, including one from a Nebraskan, compare his misdeeds to that of Phillips, a former Cornhuskers running back and NFL transient who had a career marred by arrests and emotional outbursts.
On other subjects, the entire state of Arkansas – and probably most of the states that include college teams in the Southeastern Conference – wrote in to extol the talent of Arkansas quarterback (and soon to be wide receiver or tight end) Matt Jones. Apparently, it was the rest of the world sleeping on the kid, not anyone who had ever actually seen him play. We're guessing the NFL scouts who went to his games (and didn't see his super workouts coming) don't count.
We're looking forward to hearing readers' thoughts on what their teams do in the draft this weekend, so keep the emails rolling in. As usual, if you want your responses to be featured in the weekly mailbag, be sure to include your first and last name as well as your city and state. We received hundreds of emails that had incomplete information this week.
To the mail …
ADRIAN MCPHERSON ("The top QB prospect," April 14, 2005)
I promised myself I wouldn't read your articles on the draft but I cheated and did. You still amaze me. Adrian McPherson will be the next Lawrence Philips. Come on. You're a joke.
Here's another punch line for you: Comparing McPherson's misdeeds, especially at 18 years old, to that of Phillips is totally absurd. For one, McPherson has had no other problems in his life. As you might know from living in Lincoln, Phillips entered the draft with a heinous rap sheet that included assault and domestic violence – something far worse than anything McPherson was ever accused of doing. Allegations of theft and gambling are a black mark, but allegations of beating your former girlfriend and dragging her down a flight of stairs is another. Lumping the two together is ridiculous. A joke, as you might say.
I hope you are right about Adrian McPherson. But my better sense tells me that if he is drafted and given new life, and newly found fame, that it will prove, together with millions in his pocket, to be a sure formula for disaster. Adrian reformed? I thought Lawrence Phillips was, too. Now I'm smarter. I really don't think so.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Adrian McPherson deserves that second chance. These days with the hype and money surrounding college football, we forget all too soon that these athletes are not much more than kids. Many are away from home for the first time. At some point we've all made mistakes and we've all had at least one second chance.
Which team do you think could benefit the most by drafting McPherson? I couldn't help but think that the Baltimore Ravens might be ideal – on and off the field. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I hope that Baltimore doesn't try it.
St. Albans, W.Va.
See the next email.
Adrian McPherson is an amazing talent, but don't you think teams like the Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Rams, Indianapolis Colts or Minnesota Vikings – teams that have a dominant starter and could mold his future – would draft him?
St. Louis, Mo.
Many personnel people think McPherson's best scenario is landing third on a depth chart somewhere, behind two veterans who can teach him for two to three years before he gets a shot at the starting job. He needs a lot of coaching and film study for a few years.
Drafting Adrian McPherson instead of another wideout with their first-round pick would help the Ravens immensely. Although Kyle Boller has a great arm, in my opinion he is too big and too slow and does not read defenses well. I think if you let the two fight it out in camp, McPherson would win the job hands down.
I haven't spoken to anyone in the league who thinks McPherson can be a starter as a rookie.
I am sure you will take plenty of guff for your article proclaiming Adrian McPherson as the top quarterback prospect in this draft, but I must add to it. Any comparisons between him and probable high-character Hall of Famers such as Brett Favre and Tom Brady are laughable. The possibility that he might be the best quarterback in this draft hints to the weakness of the draft, not McPherson's talent.
I'm a huge Green Bay Packers fan, needless to say a huge Brett Favre fan as well. I think the Packers would be foolish to pass on a guy like McPherson, who I see as having a huge impact for a team within the next two years. I see him as having the same raw talent Favre did before becoming a superstar.
Rice Lake, Wis.
MATT JONES ("Workout wonder," April 15, 2005)
With all the hype about Matt Jones converting from college quarterback to wide receiver, does he have the athleticism to convert to other positions? Like running back or maybe cornerback?
No. Football isn't like LEGOs. Just because he is big and fast doesn't mean he fits any position on the field.
Matt Jones made a point during pro day at Fayetteville when a reporter asked him about playing tight end. He said something to the extent of "Why would you ask me to put on 20 pounds, lose a step or two, and play tight end?" Why do people even consider playing a sub-4.4 athlete at tight end?
Because nobody has ever had a 6-foot-6 player run or show the athleticism of Jones. Indeed, many teams aren't sure how to use him – only that he's too good to not find a position that suits his talents.
Matt Jones should be given a shot at quarterback in the NFL. At either wide receiver or quarterback, he is a project, so why not play him at the one position he has the most experience?
He doesn't have NFL passing skills. As good as Jones is, he is not a good enough quarterback to play in the league. Arkansas fans have to come to grips with that.
If I'm a general manager, I save myself some cap room with Matt Jones and draft him to be a wide receiver and my third-string quarterback.
The reason Matt Jones was projected as a fourth- or fifth-rounder a few months ago is that very few people outside the state of Arkansas or the SEC realized how fast he was.
Why didn't you written anything about Matt Jones earlier? People that follow SEC football – which is arguably the toughest league in college football – know what kind of talent he has, in any sport really!
Any sport? Wow. It's almost like he's the messiah. Kentucky fans have seen Jones. Anyone in the Blue Grass State think he can jockey a horse to the Triple Crown?
I have spent the last four years in Arkansas, and in the past couple of seasons I watched almost all the Razorbacks' SEC games. Jones may be laid back, but his effort on the field is amazing. He single handedly carried his team through many games that shouldn't have even been close.
Little Rock, Ark.
I decided to help Mike Tice and the Minnesota Vikings out and make this simple. Draft linebacker Derrick Johnson with the seventh pick and wide receiver Troy Williamson with the 18th pick.
Elk Grove, Calif.
That would be a heck of a haul for the Vikings. Too bad Williamson will be gone by the 18th pick.
The Vikings had better select a blasted wide receiver in the first round to replace the gaping hole left by Randy Moss. If Mike Williams and Braylon Edwards are not there, then Troy Williamson is the obvious answer.
I understand that Phil Savage is the one who makes the final call in the draft room for the Cleveland Browns, but it is good to see Romeo Crennel finally getting his chance to prove how special he is. Has Savage always been this secretive, or do you think Crennel has influenced this at all?
South Burlington, Vt.
No, it's Savage's show. But Crennel is no dummy. He's seen Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells play the role of draft miser for years. He's not letting anything slip, either.
You know, USC won the national championship. Why aren't people like linebacker Matt Grootegoed going high? Or linebacker Lofa Tatupu or even defensive tackle Shaun Cody?
Los Angeles, Calif.
Grootegoed is switching to safety in the NFL, and he's a tad slow for that position. Tatupu is too small and not as agile as some teams would like. And Cody is a bit slower than some had hoped and lacks a definitive position of either defensive end or tackle. In truth, the most coveted players at USC are still in school.
You're an idiot. It's butts like you that make standouts like Derrick Johnson slide down draft boards.
That's a very flattering accusation, but NFL teams don't come to me for draft information. It's the other way around.
How can you say Braylon Edwards doesn't have the frame of Mike Williams? No doubt Williams is sick, but Braylon is as big as Williams. He is a monster! If they play on comparable teams, Braylon will have the bigger impact.
Williams is just bigger and more muscular right now. It's just a simple observation.
What I can't understand is how players like Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams can be considered great college players if they had to split time in college. Neither of them showed anything that great to me by doing that. It is easier to put up great yards per carry numbers while splitting carries.
On the surface, it's a good theory. But both got enough carries to judge their impact as full-time tailbacks.