Saturday, April 12, 2003
Updated: April 14, 9:48 AM ET
NFL invites seven players to draft
By Len Pasquarelli
If the draft stocks of Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich and Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs have slipped a bit, as some scouts have lately suggested, the concerns clearly haven't reached the league offices.The two players are among seven prospects invited by the NFL to travel to New York for the April 26 draft and be on-hand when their names are called in the first round. All seven players have confirmed they will attend with family members, friends and agents. In addition to Suggs and Leftwich, the players who will be present at Madison Square Garden include Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer, the likely No. 1 choice overall, wide receiver Charles Rogers of Michigan State, Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman and defensive tackles Dewayne Robertson of Kentucky and Jimmy Kennedy of Penn State. Suggs had an NCAA-record 24 sacks in 2002 but ran subpar 40-yard times at a March 26 campus workout. He will audition again next Friday for NFL scouts. Leftwich, who broke his left leg twice in the last two seasons, held his first workout of the offseason on Monday and his performance was deemed as solid but not spectacular. Those workouts aside, Leftwich and Suggs are still rated a likely top 10 choices, and all seven players are expected to go off the board by the middle of the first round. League officials are very sensitive to the possibility of having a player come to New York for the draft, and then have him be embarrassed by not being selected early in the first round, as has occurred at times with the NBA draft. The NFL surveys individual teams, personnel directors and even the media to determine possible invitees. Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.