Decision time nears

Ahmad Brooks likely would have been a top-10 draft pick, but he has unfinished business in Charlottesville.

Originally Published: January 10, 2005
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
There are still five days before eligible underclassmen must make their 2005 NFL draft intentions final on Jan. 15. The list already has reached 29 and seems to be growing rapidly. Of the underclassmen still on the fence, USC QB Matt Leinart's decision is the most highly anticipated. From what we've been told from those close to the situation, Leinart is taking this time with his family to mull over all the information that he has received from the NFL's special advisory committee, various NFL coaches and scouts, and his existing coaches at USC.

Rumors of the 49ers' interest in Pete Carroll as their next head coach could play a big factor in the outcome, as Leinart has a close relationship with his head coach. All indications point toward Carroll's return to USC, but the potential of Carroll changing his mind could factor into Leinart's decision. As much as Leinart is enjoying his experience at USC and his potential to do what no other quarterback has done before by winning at least a share of three national championships at the collegiate level, when he looks at the money that will be on the table as a potential top-10 selection in the upcoming draft, it will be awfully difficult to pass up.

Another highly anticipated decision was that of Virginia ILB Ahmad Brooks, who reportedly has decided to stay in school. Brooks likely would have been a top-10 draft pick, but it seems that his business in Charlottesville is not done. TE Heath Miller still is expected to make the leap to the NFL, but Brooks, OLB Darryl Blackstock and OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson are all planning on returning, making head coach Al Groh a happy man and the Cavaliers a potential preseason top-10 program.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer