NFL teams keeping quiet about Maurice DrewBy Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Cox News Service
With the NFL draft a little less than two weeks away, we're starting to hear more about prospects and which teams could have a possible interest. Up until now, the one player that teams may have fallen asleep on is UCLA RB Maurice Drew, or maybe some have just been tight-lipped about the do-it-all running back.
All the talk of late among the backs entering the draft has been centered on Reggie Bush, of course, LenDale White, for all the wrong reasons, DeAngelo Williams and Laurence Maroney, as potential first-round prospects. Even LSU RB Joseph Addai has gained a lot of attention from the press. However, some of that attention is now starting to shift in the direction of Drew. Word is that Drew is creeping up some draft boards like a thief in the night and could possibly steal the thunder of those who are rated higher. There are at least five teams, Denver, Carolina, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, picking in the bottom half of the first round, that could have their eyes on Drew.
The Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers are believed to be showing the most interest.
The Broncos own the No. 15 and 22 overall picks and could very well pull the trigger using the 22nd pick to take the versatile back. The organization has a direct pipeline where Drew is concerned. UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell served three years as the Broncos' wide receivers coach before moving on to the college ranks, and because of that close relationship the Broncos have kept a watchful eye on Drew and have expressed serious interest in him.
If you ask me the interest makes perfect sense. Drew would be a better fit in the West Coast offense than say DeAngelo Williams or Laurence Maroney. He's a more determined runner between the tackles than Williams and is a better receiver out of the backfield than both Williams and Maroney. Not to mention he possesses bank-robber speed and outstanding lower body strength.
The Steelers are picking No. 32 and have no glaring need to fill at any one position, but do have a need for a kick/punt-return specialist after losing WR Antwaan Randle El to free agency. Drew led the nation in punt returns with an NCAA-record 28.5 average and finished his career as UCLA's season and career leader in all-purpose yards. Drew would probably be the best value for the Steelers at No. 32 should he be available.
Despite his lack of size Drew has made an impression on teams.
I can recall a conversation I had with one Jaguars' scout at the Senior Bowl about the backs in this year's class. At the time, we were watching DeAngelo Williams during practice and I was going on about how good he looked running the ball. The scout then turned, looked me straight in the eyes, and said "If you think Williams is something special wait until you see the kid from UCLA, he's an exceptional back." He was talking about Drew, of course. The scout called him a knot and feels that he can endure the physicality of the NFL, which some have questioned due to his lack of ideal size (5-7, 208).
I think Minnesota Vikings running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, who coached Drew the past three years as the Bruins' running backs coach, said it best. "If teams look at the player and not his size, then Maurice stacks up to this group of running backs very well. He's a difference-maker."
I'll say. Drew's workout numbers were comparable if not better than his counterparts. The one thing you can't measure is a player's heart and Drew has never been one to shy away from competition.
In all likelihood Drew could end up being a first-round draft day surprise.