By Thoden K. Janes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Try to forget all of the NFL draft previews, predictions, projections and outlooks that you may have seen in newspapers and magazines over the past couple of weeks.

They don't mean a thing.

At least that is how Arizona's Rob Waldrop, Chuck Levy and Rod Lewis feel about all the pre-draft hubbub. Each of the soon-to-be ex-Arizona football players has been told by coaches that he is the departing athlete most likely to be drafted on Sunday.

"Everybody has got a different opinion," said Waldrop, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound All-American defensive tackle. Waldrop is rated in the USA Today NFL draft preview as only the 10th-best available defensive lineman.

"Some guys have got me second, some say fourth, some say 10th, some say second, I mean, nobody knows what the hell they're talking about," Waldrop said. "I think they're all clueless."

Scouts, however, ought to have plenty of clues concerning Waldrop's talent. The Phoenix native dominated opposing offenses last season, making 53 tackles, 14 for losses impressive, considering he was consistently double-teamed and sometimes triple- teamed by opposing offensive lines.

In the 1994 Arizona football Fiesta Bowl guide, Stanford coach Bill Walsh states, "(Waldrop) is the best defensive lineman in America. Period."

Waldrop said he has been gaining weight and working out as he patiently awaits Sunday's draft, and doesn't care what team he goes to. At least, not really. the weather is nice," he said.

•••

Chuck Levy is just ready to start working out with a team again.

Since declaring his early entry into the draft after the Fiesta Bowl, the first-team All-Pacific 10 Conference all-purpose player has had to rely on self-motivation to keep himself physically fit.

Twice per day, Levy undergoes rigorous workouts that basically revolve around running and losing weight.

"I have all the same goals, but now I don't have the rest of the team around me so it's just different now," said Levy, whose 129.0 yards-per-game average was second in the Pac-10. "It is a little bit harder to keep focused on what you're trying to do without a whole team pushing you."

One of the best things going for Levy is his astounding speed. According to USA Today's draft preview, only three running backs Marshall Faulk of San Diego State, Greg Hill of Texas A&M and Arizona State's Mario Bates were listed with faster 40-yard-dash times.

The 22-year-old Levy was also fast when it came to chasing after school records. He made it to No. 6 on the Arizona career all-purpose yardage list (3,614), and don't forget, he did that in just three seasons.

Like Waldrop and Lewis, Levy was left out of Sports Illustrated's first-round projections, and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. excluded him from his look at available offensive players.

"You never know," Levy said, "A person of my talent, at this point in time, you never know where you are going to end up."

•••

Keper did mention tight end Rod Lewis, however, in his analysis that aired during last night's SportsCenter.

"(Lewis) is third-rounder, at best," Kiper said on the show. "Roderick Lewis has all of the tools needed to be a star at his position, but he needs to upgrade his pass-receiving skills and become a more consistent blocker."

A 6-5, 255-pound Dallas, Texas, native, Lewis earned honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors as a senior at the UA, more so for his blocking than anything else.

Professional scouts also have said that they like his physical stature and his speed, which USA Today ranks first among tight ends nationwide (his 40 time is 4.69).

Lewis has had to answer countless questions about his pass-receiving ability, which was relatively untested in the Wildcats' run-oriented offense.

"Well, you've got to think about it, you see?" Lewis said. "The Arizona offense, it is not focused as a passing game. It was not focused around me being a passer as much as it was focused around me being a blocker a lot. of blocking, and I think we were successful without being a team that revolved around passing."

Lewis caught six passes for 74 yards during the 1993 season, this coming just one year after being converted from linebacker to tight end.

Read Next Article