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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Could Thomas fall?



   Some leftover observations from the NFL scouting combine.

   COULD JOE THOMAS FALL?: Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas came to Indianapolis as the highest-rated offensive lineman and did nothing but enhance that perception. Thomas ran a 4.92 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times.

   But don't assume he will go No. 2 overall to the Detroit Lions. Jeff Backus is a left tackle and the Lions have no intentions of moving him. Thomas could play right tackle, but that would be a projection and right tackles rarely command the kind of salary Thomas would receive.

   The other factor is coach Rod Marinelli. He will continue to build the defense. The Lions franchised Lions defensive tackle Cory Redding. What he now covets is an outside pass rusher and Gaines Adams is a player Marinelli loves.

   If Thomas slips by the Lions, the Cleveland Browns would have a tough decision between Thomas and Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson. Amazingly, it wouldn't be a shock if Thomas and Calvin Johnson were still available when the Bucs pick fourth overall.

   Remember, there's a lot of time before the draft and it's rare that at least one defensive linemen doesn't move into the top five.

   ALMOST PERFECT: The player with the fewest holes is Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson. The guy borrows a pair of shoes and runs a 4.35 at 6-5, 239 pounds. Are you kidding me?

   What's more, his tape is phenominal. Talk about mismatches. This is a receiver who would have an impact on every position on offense. And one general manager told me Johnson is simply the cleanest player in the draft with no off-field issues on the horizon.

   GARCIA LOOKING: With the combine over, the attention turns to free agency. Quarterback Jeff Garcia might not have as many options as once thought. The Eagles never made him an offer and decided to sign A.J. Feeley to a three-year contract extension. Philadelphia also probably wanted to avoid the debate at quarterback with Donovan McNabb.

   The Bucs have made a run at Garcia in each of the past three years. But Tampa Bay isn't likely to offer much money for the 37-year-old quarterback. More and more, it's looking like the Bucs will bank on Chris Simms and find a steady veteran backup. But Garcia might be running out of options and more affordable to Tampa Bay.

   Speaking of free agency, defensive end Dewayne White figures to make a lot of money. It helps that almost every big-name free agent pass rusher was franchised like Dwight Freeney, Justin Smith and Charles Grant. At the end of the day, expect White to go elsewhere and the Bucs to bank on a comeback season from Simeon Rice.




[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:43pm]


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