The hits just keep on coming for USC. I wondered earlier this week if Vince was going to be the QB to slide in Saturday's NFL draft. I stumbled upon this from ProFootballTalk.com indicating it may be Matt Leinart who must endure a long wait.
At a time when former USC tailback Reggie Bush is dealing with an unwelcome distraction that could disrupt his plan to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, his teammate who could have been the first pick in 2004 could now be facing a slide conjuring memories of the Aaron Rodgers plunge in 2005.
A source close to the Leinart camp tells us that Matt's handlers have accepted the reality that the Titans won't be drafting their guy at No. 3, barring a dramatic reversal of the current intention to acquire Texas quarterback Vince Young. Per the source, new Leinart agent Tom Condon has attempted to get some kind of an assurance from each of the teams drafting in the top five -- but has gotten nothing.
At No. 4, the Jets are not expected to draft a quarterback. Word is that they are looking to land Alabama's Brodie Croyle later in the day.
At No. 5, the Packers can't afford to spend another first-rounder on a guy who'll do nothing for them in 2006, especially since Lord Favre is coming back for one more year.
At No. 6, the 49ers have their quarterback in Alex Smith.
We'd initially presumed that the Raiders would take Leinart at No. 7, but we're now hearing from multiple sources that they won't.
The Bills won't touch Leinart at No. 8, unless G.M. Marv Levy is even nuttier than we currently believe.
At No. 9, there's no way the Lions pounce on Leinart.
Then we come to the Cardinals at No. 10. Will Denny Green be able to resist drafting a guy who falls into his lap, just like Randy Moss did eight years ago? We've got the Cardinals taking offensive tackle Winston Justice, given the importance of beefing up the group of guys who are going to be charged with keeping those big-money skill-position players alive.
At No. 11, quarterback is one of the few positions that the Rams have covered.
At No. 12, we can't see the Browns taking Leinart.
Then come the Ravens at No. 13. In our current mock draft, we've got them taking Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. Though we're feeling a little wishy-washy about whether Brian the Brain will stake his future on another first-round signal-caller, it might be hard for the supposed offensive guru to not take Leinart, if he falls into the team's lap.
And we think that the lowest Leinart would go, if he gets past Baltimore, is Minnesota at No. 17.
So the 2004 Heisman winner won't fall as dramatically as Rodgers did a year ago, when the Jeff Tedford prodigy plunged from potentially being the No. 1 pick all the way to No. 24. But given that Leinart was the presumptive No. 1 choice in 2005, and that he most likely would have been taken by the 49ers with the first pick, the possibility of sliding to No. 10 or lower translates into millions and millions of dollars of money that will never come back.
Maybe Matt could spend his extra time backstage contemplating who the best team in the country was last season.