By Jim Thomas
Thursday, Apr. 26 2007

In their first 11 drafts since the move to St. Louis, the Rams didnít take a
single cornerback in the first round. Now, thereís a chance they may take one
in back-to-back drafts.

A year ago, the club took Clemson corner Tye Hill in the first round, at No. 15
overall. This year, if defensive linemen Amobi Okoye of Louisville and Adam
Carriker of Nebraska are gone by the time the Rams pick Saturday at No. 13
overall, thereís a chance the Rams could go corner again.

Under that scenario, cornerbacks Leon Hall of Michigan and Darrelle Revis of
Pittsburgh might be the teamís best options. Particularly since itís unclear
how highly the team rates Arkansasí talented but raw defensive end Jamaal

Hall could be a top 10 pick, so itís more likely that only Revis will be
available at No. 13. Revis, the Thorpe Award winner last season as college
footballís top defensive back, has some familiarity with the Rams.

His uncle is Sean Gilbert, a first-round draft pick by the Rams in 1992, who
played one season in St. Louis. Revis says he talks to Uncle Sean all the time.

"Before games, after games, heís one of those guys who keeps me motivated,
keeps me confident in my game, and tells me what I might need to do better as a
player," Revis said.

Revis is also a distant cousin of defensive back Josh Lay, a former Pitt
Panther who is on the Ramsí current offseason roster. Revis and Lay didnít even
know they were related until they attended a funeral in the fall of 2005.

At 5-11 1/2, 204 pounds, Revis has good size for the corner position. He has
very good speed (4.41 in the 40), and displayed good coverage skills and ball
skills at college. Heís also an excellent punt returner, with two returns for
touchdowns during his time at Pitt. When asked how often he was beaten in
coverage, Revis had an interesting reply:

"Iím not a cocky guy," he said. "Iím just confident in my game. When people
look at Darrelle Revis, I want them to look at how many categories in which he
never gets beat."

Expert advice

In the months leading up to the draft, Arkansas corner Chris Houston has been
getting tips from one of the NFLís best ó and most flamboyant ó corners of the
modern era. Yes, Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders.

"Heís my mentor," Houston said. "Heís part owner of the (Arena Football League)
Austin Wranglers, so he comes to Austin and I live in Austin. He has a condo
down there and Iíll go talk to him, hang out, eat together."

The speedy Houston, who projects as a late first-round pick, has great coverage
potential but needs technique work. Does he pattern himself after Sanders?

"Of course, Houston said. "Everybodyís got a little Prime Time in him,
especially since I watched him when I was younger."

Brawl ball

Unfortunately for Miami (Fla.) safety Brandon Meriweather, heís known as much
for his actions during the Hurricanesí infamous brawl against Florida
International as his play on the football field last season.

Meriweather was suspended for one game for stomping on several Florida
International players. He wrote a letter of apology after the brawl.

"To be honest, I kind of lost my mind a little bit with the emotions of the
game," said Meriweather, who paid a pre-draft visit to the Rams earlier this
month. "I just fell into a trap."

He could squeeze into the first round, but given the emphasis on personal
conduct by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Meriweather realizes his draft stock
could take a tumble.

"I was a leader, and I should have known better," Meriweather said. "I should
have done a little more to prevent it from happening. Will it hurt me on draft
day? Weíll find out more on draft day."

Mr. Versatile

For openers, Utahís Eric Weddle was the Mountain West defensive player of the
year for both the 2005 and í06 seasons. Although primarily a safety and
cornerback, Weddle also played quarterback, running back, punted, returned
punts, and was a holder for the Utes.

Last season alone, Weddle returned two of his seven interceptions for
touchdowns, returned one of his two fumble recoveries for a TD, ran for five
TDs on offense, and also threw a TD pass.

Weddle, who should be a second- or third-round pick, describes himself as,
"just a guy who loves football and who'll do anything for the team. I'll go out
there and play special teams like I've done in my career. I'll play offense or
defense, or whatever the team needs."

But Weddle will earn his living in the NFL as a defensive back. As such, his
signature game in college was the 2005 Emerald Bowl, in which he limited
Georgia Techís Calvin Johnson to just two catches for 19 yards. Johnson is
considered by many to be the top player available in this weekendís draft
regardless of position.

"I had four weeks to prepare for a player of his caliber," Weddle said. "You
have to bring youíre A+ game. If you Ďfilm studyí you can eliminate stuff. . .
.So half the game I knew what he was doing to do before he did it, and I was
just breaking on the routes."

Wilson and Campbell

The father of Maryland cornerback-kick returner Josh Wilson was Tim Wilson ó
once the blocking back for the great Earl Campbell with the Houston Oilers.

Tim Wilson died of a heart attack in 1996. Wilson carries his fatherís football
card with him in his wallet. He also has a version of the card tattooed on his
chest, with the inscription: "Forever in my heart."

"The big reason I got the tattoo is because I wanted a way to carry it with me
all the time," Wilson said. "If someone stole my wallet Iíd be pretty upset,
not because thereís a lot of money in it. . .itís because I have more valuable
things in there than money."

Over the years, Wilson has maintained a relationship with Campbell. Wilson
shapes up as a second-round pick and Campbell apparently is excited for him.

"(Campbell) said, ĎIíve known you for so long. . .I never thought that Iíd have
this chance to see you grow up and be the player that you are,í " Wilson said.
"So it makes me proud for a guy of his status saying something like that to me."

A real workout warrior

Texas CB Aaron Ross is an almost certain first-round pick and has sub-4.5 speed
in the 40. But he freely admits that his girlfriend is the better athlete. He
is dating Sanya Richards, a 4x400-meter gold medalist at the Athens Olympics
who is now training for the Beijing games in 2008.

Ross remembers his first workout with Richards all too well. After what Ross
felt was an extensive workout, he and Richards started stretching.

"I was like, ĎAll right, are we done?í " Ross said. "She was like, ĎNah, the
workout is just now beginning.í "

Turns out, the pre-stretching work was just Richardsí warmup routine.

The long wait

The father of Virginia Tech safety Aaron Rouse did not see his son play for the
Hokies in person. Itís probably not going to happen any time soon.

"Man, youíre talking about 56 years, hard time," Rouse said. "Probation in
probably 15 or 16 years."

Rouseís father is serving time for a 1999 murder.

"This past year is the first time Iíve seen my father in about eight years,"
Rouse said. "I actually went to the penitentiary to visit him to get some
things off my chest this past year before the season started. Itís not
difficult anymore. Itís kind of awkward, but not difficult."

Draft potpourri

ē California corner Daymeion Hughes is an art major and a painter. "I paint
sports stuff, football stuff," Hughes says. "I paint pictures of myself. I try
to incorporate different backgrounds and different mediums."

ē Oregon safety J.D. Nelson is the son of former Minnesota Vikings RB Darrin
Nelson, whoís now an assistant athletic director at Stanford.

ē Tennessee cornerback Jonathan Wade was part of an Evangel Christian High
team in Shreveport, La., that won 54 consecutive games.