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  1. #1
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    Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL

    Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL
    dslater@dailypress.com 247-4641
    April 9, 2006

    Some 15 months ago, Ahmad Brooks had a chance to make a decision that could've earned him millions of dollars. Brooks had just finished his sophomore season at Virginia. He wowed college football observers, making 90 tackles to lead the Cavaliers for the second consecutive year.

    He was a first-team all-ACC selection, a Sporting News first-team All-American, a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker. He was 20 years old, with loads of potential at his disposal and, many figured, a bright NFL future.

    Brooks could've decided in January 2005 to leave school early for the NFL.

    He was out of high school for the NFL-required three years, because he attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham after graduating from C.D. Hylton High in Woodbridge. But he chose to stay at U.Va.

    Now, as Brooks prepares to start his pro career, he faces a much more uncertain path than he did 15 months ago. There are doubts about his commitment level and physical condition. Brooks, who would've been a senior for the Cavaliers this fall, was one of three players kicked off the team for unspecified reasons by coach Al Groh before spring practices.

    Though Brooks has two years of eligibility remaining (he has not redshirted), an NFL source with knowledge of the situation said Brooks likely would apply for the NFL's supplemental draft, usually held in July or August. Brooks could not be reached for comment. His parents, Perry and Vergie Brooks, have not returned multiple telephone messages.

    The supplemental draft is a route sometimes taken by players in situations such as Brooks'. The deadline was Jan. 15 for underclassmen to apply for the regular draft, held April 29-30. Brooks announced Jan. 14 that he'd return to U.Va.

    "There's still a lot of interest (by NFL teams) on Ahmad's part due to his natural athleticism," said the NFL source, who expects some team to take a "risk" on Brooks. "The only question NFL teams would have is on his character, his work ethic and his passion for the game. ... He has a very, very long road ahead of him."

    At his best, Brooks possesses an impressive mix of size and speed. He was listed last season at 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds. He has said he's run the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. Once one of the nation's fastest linebackers, he returned two kickoffs - one for 40 yards - in 2004.

    At his worst, Brooks gave Groh enough reasons to live without his talent. "No one would just dismiss a player from a team for just one incident," the NFL source said. "For coach Groh to make such a harsh decision, it had to come from a lot of different events.

    "There's gonna be a lot of background checks on him."

    Groh, a linebackers coach by trade, was excited about Brooks, even before his debut in fall 2003. During an April '03 spring practice, Brooks made several outstanding tackles. "A lot of people wanted to find out about this Brooks guy," Groh said then, "and I think he gave them a pretty good preview to what his future's going to look like."

    In June 2003, Brooks was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. He received six months probation, and the charge was later dropped. Groh said in August '03 that he handled the matter internally, refusing to elaborate.

    In August '04, Brooks missed two practices to deal with "personal issues," as Groh called them. Brooks spent the '04 preseason and the first game that season as a backup to Rich Bedesem, a less talented player, for reasons Groh refused to disclose. One former U.Va. defensive starter said Brooks always seemed to be dealing with a personal issue, but Groh kept the issues private.

    Late in February '05, Brooks felt discomfort in his right knee. The source of his discomfort was a cyst behind his knee. The cyst was surgically removed last March. He missed last season's first three games while recovering. In his first game back, he sprained his left ankle and missed the next game. After returning for five games, he missed the regular-season finale and the Music City Bowl because of a sore back.

    When Groh announced Brooks' dismissal, he cited "focus, commitment and dependability" as things vital to building a team, indicating that the dismissed players - the others were safety Tony Franklin and defensive end Vince Redd - lacked those qualities.

    Asked specifically about Brooks, Groh said: "It's a partnership with what you do with every player. ... When it doesn't turn out the way you want with any particular player, it's a little bit disappointing."

    Said the NFL source: "The NFL front-office personnel is gonna ask themselves, 'If he can't comply with a stringent, professional, rigorous schedule that Al Groh has for his team, then how do we expect him to comply with our rules that we have at this level?' "

    Brooks raises a red flag because he couldn't fulfill his potential in a linebacker-friendly system, the source said. Brooks' physical condition also is an issue. He played just six games last season and participated in just three weeks of U.Va.'s offseason workouts, according to a current player. "So he can't be in shape," the source said.

    Brooks' first step toward the NFL involves filing an application for the supplemental draft. The NFL also must receive a letter from Virginia, stating why Brooks was dismissed. If Brooks' application is denied by the league, he must enter the regular draft in 2007 and can't play in the NFL until that season. The league won't plan the supplemental draft until after this month's regular draft. The supplemental draft has the same drafting order as the regular draft. But teams don't have to make selections in the supplemental. If a team picks Brooks in, say, the fifth round of the supplemental, it must surrender a fifth-round pick in the '07 regular draft. And supplemental draft picks don't get hefty signing bonuses like regular draft selections.

    Before the supplemental draft, Brooks would work out for NFL scouts and try to make himself "presentable," physically and otherwise, the NFL source said.

    "A lot of proving left to do," the source said. "Reliability, consistency, work ethic. If he's in shape, if he can keep up."

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  2. #2
    rampete Guest

    Re: Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL

    saw the bowl game in 2004 in which virginia played fresno state...

    brooks looked slow and lethargic then...parham had a better game than brooks...

    he reminds me errily of clarett...a naturally gifted athlete who thinks he's entitled and doesn't have much of a drive...

  3. #3
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL

    So is he in the draft or not? And if he isn't able to or he signed up to late would it be a bidding war after the draft for him as a Undrafted Free Agent?

  4. #4
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL

    According to the article, he'll likely enter the supplemental draft, which is not the same as this April's draft.
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  5. #5
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL

    Do we have picks in that draft?

  6. #6
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Brooks faces uncertain path to NFL

    Everyone does.

    Using the previous year's draft order, the league would go down the list of teams, offering each team the chance to make a selection of a player who has declared for the supplemental draft (usually only a few). Teams don't have to make selections, and sometimes no one in the supp. draft is selected depending on the year.

    When a team decides to make its selection, they forfeit that pick in next spring's bigger draft. So let's say the Rams wanted to take Ahmad Brooks in this year's supplemental draft, and took him in the third round. That means we'd have no third rounder in 2007.

    So every team has picks in this draft because they're wagering next year's picks. I think the Texans and Dolphins were the last teams to take someone in the supp. draft - Texans took a RB in the second and the Dolphins took a defensive lineman in the fifth.
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