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Looking ahead

It may be a little early to start talking about next year's draft, but as scouts and draftniks know it is never too early to start looking at the talent that will be available. With that in mind, the 2003 Playboy Preseason All-America team was recently released.

Each year Playboy puts together its list of players that are expected to shine when fall rolls around. Recent members of the team have included this year's number two overall selection, Detroit wide receiver Charles Rogers, as well as four of the top five picks in last year's draft. Before that, six of the first seven picks in 2000, and 14 first rounders in all from that draft class were members of the team.

For a local connection, Patriots 2003 second-round pick Eugene Wilson, a cornerback from Illinois, was a member of last year's team. With that said the team is a good place to start looking for the names that will be hot commodities come next spring. And with the Patriots already holding multiple first-round picks and a total of eight picks in the first four rounds of next April's draft, there is certainly a chance one of the members of this year's team could be a future Patriot.

Offensively Playboy's team leads off with Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning and Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones. The receiving corps includes Texas' Roy Williams, Washington's Reggie Williams and USC's Mike Williams, along with Miami tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. The projected elite linemen includes the likes of Arkansas' Shawn Andrews, Iowa's Robert Gallery, Kansas State's Nick Leckey, Tennessee's Michael Munoz and Alabama's Justin Smiley.

On the defensive side of the ball early projections tab Western Michigan's Jason Babin, North Texas' Brandon Kennedy and Ohio State's Will Smith as the top lineman. Auburn's Karlos Dansby, Southern Miss' Rod Davis, Texas' Derrick Johnson and Oklahoma's Teddy Lehman are the linebackers, while Ohio State's Chris Gamble, Michigan's Marlin Jackson, Purdue's Stuart Schweigert and Miami's Sean Taylor fill out the defensive backfield.

Right now this list may carry little value in terms of name recognition, but chances are less that a year from now they will be filling out mock drafts all over the Internet.

Information found on NFL.com was used in this report

Notes

Melissa Stark, who is expecting her first child this September, will not return to ABC's "Monday Night Football" for a fourth season as a sideline reporter this fall. The network has not announced a replacement. … The annual NFL Spring Meeting will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday in Philadelphia. One of the major issues to be addressed at the meeting is the proposal by the Patriots and Chiefs to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams. The proposal had been tabled from the NFL Meeting held in late March. Other issues that will be addressed include the status of the NFL Network, Super Bowl planning, NFL Europe, the league's workplace diversity initiatives and its stadium financing program. … Former Patriots cornerback J'Juan Cherry, the brother of current Patriots special teams player Je'Rod Cherry, has been allocated to the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe.

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