2009, 2010, 2011
Missouri DT Hood, Melton and Fitzgerald cowboys visit, enjoy joe
Missouri defensive tackle doesnít care where he lands
By CHAREAN WILLIAMS
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Evander "Ziggy" Hood grew up in Amarillo a fan of the Broncos. His mother loved the Redskins, and his siblings rooted for the Cowboys.
Chances are, Hood and his family will have a new favorite team Saturday.
The Missouri defensive tackle has been one of the fastest risers on draft boards. He is expected to be drafted in the first round, and mock drafts have him going to the Colts, Lions or Falcons.
He visited the Patriots, Lions, Vikings, Chargers and Rams during his pre-draft trips.
"Iím just concentrating on doing my best and not too busy believing the hype," Hood said in a telephone interview. "Iím just trying to control anything thatís within my reach, do everything I can do correctly, and not worry about anything I canít control."
Hood considered declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season when the NFL College Advisory Committee advised him he might be selected as early as the third round. But he stayed in school to get his degree, which he did in 3 1/2 years, and to improve his draft stock.
He earned All-Big 12 honors last season after making 62 tackles, five sacks and seven stops for loss, and he then had one of the best combines of any defensive tackle. Hood weighed 300 pounds, ran a 4.83 in the 40, did 34 reps in the 225-pound bench press and had a 33-inch vertical jump.
He is the third-rated defensive tackle behind Boston Collegeís B.J. Raji and Mississippiís Peria Jerry.
"Itís a guessing game, just waiting at this point," Hood said. "Teams are looking for different things. Maybe they find somebody better, or they may be looking for you. I really donít care. I just hope Iím chosen by a good team."
Melton is popular
A converted running back, Texasí Henry Melton has played defensive end only two seasons. He might have to switch positions again when he gets to the NFL. Some 3-4 teams are looking at the former Denton Ryan product at outside linebacker. He worked out for the Cowboys there last week.
"I havenít played a lot of linebacker since high school," Melton said in a telephone interview. "Iím a pretty athletic guy, good in space, so thatís what a lot of teams are looking at."
Besides the Cowboys, Melton has visited with the Colts, Bears, Vikings, Buccaneers, Packers and 49ers. He is projected as a sixth-round choice.
Patriots defensive end Ty Warren hadnít been injured much before last year when he missed three games with a left groin injury and played in four others at less than 100 percent.
In the off-season, Warren had double groin surgery, had a sports hernia surgically repaired and had a scope on his right knee. Warren, who has started doing some light running, is confident he will be ready for training camp in July.
"It was unfortunate I was injured the way I was last year," the former Texas A&M star said in a telephone interview. "At the same time, I was fortunate up until now not to have the injuries and the surgeries that Iíve had this year. The way I look at it is as a tune-up. I got everything else cut on, the abs, the groin and all that stuff, and the knee has been needing to be cleaned out for sometime now, so I said, 'Letís go ahead and get everything done.í "
Eagles want RB
The Eagles have had most of the top running backs in for visits, including Georgiaís Knowshon Moreno and Connecticutís Donald Brown. They did not invite Ohio Stateís Chris "Beanie" Wells, whom they donít think fits their scheme.
The Eagles are desperate for running back help and are expected to use a high pick on one.
Philadelphia hasnít drafted a running back in the first round since selecting Keith Byars in 1986. They havenít used a second-round choice on a back since 1992 when they took Alabamaís Siran Stacy. (Stacy played one NFL season and never touched the ball.)
But Brian Westbrook turns 30 in September and has a degenerative knee that required a cleanup in January. He no longer can handle the 287 touches he had last year or the 378 of the year before.
Westbrookís backup, Correll Buckhalter, is in Denver, leaving Lorenzo Booker as the only other running back on the roster. Booker has 48 career carries.
UNT WR wants to play
North Texas receiver Casey Fitzgerald caught a Sun Belt record 229 passes in his career, with 224 coming in the past two years. But it wasnít enough to get him invited to the combine, and it likely wonít get him drafted.
But Fitzgerald reminds UNT coach Todd Dodge of Wes Welker, another player who wasnít invited to the combine and went undrafted only to become a star in New England. Fitzgerald ran only a 4.65 at his Pro Day, but thatís fast enough to play in the slot.
"Heís such a tremendously versatile receiver," Dodge said in a telephone interview. "I look forward to him getting an opportunity, because I do believe that heís a guy that given the opportunity, with his work ethic, his make-up, his skill level and his character, that he has a lot to offer."
Fitzgerald visited the Cowboys last week on Dallas Day.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760