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March 3, 2003
Storm Surge
by Warren DeLuca

No college football program produces as many highly-coveted players as does the University of Miami. In the 2001 Draft, NFL teams selected seven Hurricanes, including four in the first round. In the 2002 Draft, they picked 11 Miami players, including five first-rounders and rookie-of-the-year RB Clinton Portis, who lasted until the second round. Is it any wonder that the Hurricanes have lost a total of two games in the last three years?

We asked Omar Kelly of the Florida Sun-Sentinel to give us his thoughts on the latest batch of future pros to come from the Miami campus, as well as to take a peek at next year’s group.

HPF: Andre Johnson is generally considered the second best wide receiver prospect in the draft. What are Johnson’s strengths and weaknesses?

Kelly: Johnson has speed (in the 4.3 range), size (6-foot-2) and he’s strong. He also has a good set of hands. His weakness is possibly his run after the catch ability. He isn’t going to be juking too many defensive backs of their shoes. Also, he used his strength to get separation in college a lot and I’m not sure how effective that will be in the pros.

HPF: What NFL receiver would you compare Johnson to in terms of style of play?

Kelly: I’d say he’s a Terrell Owens, David Boston type.

HPF: Do you think Johnson will be an impact player/difference maker at the NFL level? In other words, is he worthy of a top-five pick?

Kelly: I think he’s worth the fifth pick if receiver is a critical need. He’s a possession receiver who can do almost everything on the field. He’s good for a 50 catch season and he’s very level headed and durable. I think he’s worth a first round pick, and a top 10 pick if he fits a teams primary need.

HPF: The latest reports have RB Willis McGahee’s rehab going well. If you were an NFL general manager, knowing what you know about McGahee, where in the draft would you take him?

Kelly: He’s going to be a steal for a team that already has a talented aging back. His worth ethic is the best I’ve ever seen in any sport and trust me he’ll be back. If he’s there in the fourth round and Houston’s filled all their needs in the first two picking him would be a good gamble as long as they are willing to wait a year to reap the benefits.

Until he starts running and cutting the knee could be as pretty as a button, but how it works is the important thing, especially for a running back. I don’t believe he will play this season, and if a team rushes him into playing this season they are making a bad decision.

All of the talk that is coming out of the combine is just hype. It happens to elevate a guy’s standing, and right now it’s worked in Willis’ favor making him a hot commodity again. However, if I were a GM I wouldn’t use anything I couldn’t afford to lose on Willis. That means the earliest I would draft him is the late third round, and that’s only if I REALLY wanted him badly. As for competition, this field of running backs is so bad I probably would take a gamble on him rather than drafting someone else in the fourth round.

HPF: William Joseph lost ground in the 2002 season, going from being generally considered the number one or two defensive tackle on the board to perhaps as low as fifth at the position. What happened to him?

Everyone was expecting William Joseph to progress throughout his career and he never made significant improvements from his sophomore season. Everyone of his performances was just good but not great, and he should have been doing more considering he rarely faced double teams, wasn’t overworked, and had excellent defensive ends to open up the rushing lanes for him. Yet, he did little but clog up the middle in most games.

If I were interested in a DT I’d select him, but no higher than a late first round. Personally, I don’t think the drive and work ethic to get better is there. Very little motivates this guy.

HPF: What about Jerome McDougle? How do you think he would do in a 3-4 defense?

Kelly: They had so many quality defensive ends at Miami they split the reps evenly. That bogged down his productively, along with his lack of motivation. To be honest, the guys on the defensive line just didn’t have the same hunger they had last year. But put some money on the table and watch them go. If I were a GM I’d pick McDougle, Jamaal Green, Andrew Williams and Cornelius Green before I take a gamble on other defensive ends because the one thing you know for sure is they are not a project. I think the one who will likely be the sleeper of the draft is Cornelius Green. Despite being a backup, he was having the best year before tearing his ACL. He likely won’t get drafted but should be one heck of a free agent once he’s fully healed.

I think [McDougle] wouldn’t be very successful in a 3-4 defense because he’s not as big as advertised. He’s the kind of DE that uses his moves to become effective. That means he needs to know who is going to be blocking him and that’s hard to grasp in a 3-4 right away.

HPF: How would you rate the pro potential of QB Ken Dorsey, C Brett Romberg, DT Matt Walters, DE Jamaal Green, and DE Andrew Williams?

Kelly: First of all, I would never bet against Ken Dorsey. Never. He’s not spectacular but he’s proven so much throughout his career, and he’s got most of the tools it would take to be as successful as a Brian Griese coming out of college. Romberg will hang around the league for a while because of his character, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a starter. Walters will impress people with his work ethic and knowledge of the game but I’d say he’s better suited to play DE. As for Green and Williams, they will all be in the league for the next couple of years but I don’t think any of them will be standout.

HPF: As if that wasn’t enough, are there any other draft-eligible Miami players that you think have a strong shot at the NFL?

Kelly: Ethenic Sands might make a club as a free agent WR, and I think Todd Sievers and Freddie Capshaw have the potential to be NFL kickers.

HPF: Just to put the old saying "it’s never too early to look ahead to next year" to the test, should TE Kellen Winslow and DT Vincent Wilfork top the list of ‘Canes to watch for the 2004 draft?

Kelly: Winslow and Wilfork, along S Sean Taylor and RB Frank Gore (if he’s healthy) will top the list of college players throughout the nation to watch. Those four have the talent to be first round picks right now and will likely be high selections in 2004 along with DT Santonio Thomas, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams.

HPF: It was often reported that Gore was ahead of McGahee on the depth chart before Gore injured his knee, but McGahee hadn’t shown the kind of ability in previous years that he did in 2002. How good is Gore?

Kelly: Lets put it this way, if Gore was healthy last season you would have never heard of McGahee because he would have been UM’s fullback. At least that’s what I’m told by the coaches and the players.

Omar Kelly has been with the Florida Sun-Sentinel for four years and has covered the Miami Hurricanes for the last two seasons. Previously, he covered the NBA’s Miami Heat and has also covered Florida State for other Florida papers. We thank him for his time and his insight. Andre Johnson Andre Johnson Home Return to Houston Pro Football