The New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns, the NFL teams holding the No. 1 and 2 draft picks, are among 11 teams invited to send scouts to watch Raghib ``Rocket' Ismail run through his speedy paces today.
``We tried to target teams we thought would have a serious interest in him and be able to do something about it,' agent Louis Duvernay said Wednesday from the Oakland, Calif., offices of Morcom Sports Enterprises.Ismail could earn as much as $25 million from a variety of sources, including an NFL contract, bonuses, and endorsements, says a source who will be close to any negotiations.
Also invited to watch Ismail were the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Phoenix Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.
The invitations were not meant to exclude other teams, Duvernay said. ``I would hope that even more would show.'
The junior flanker and return specialist from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., gave up his final season of eligibility to enter the draft a year early. He did not attend the NFL scouting combine held earlier this month in Indianapolis, citing a scheduling conflict.
Ismail, a two-time All-American and runner-up for the 1990 Heisman Trophy, was not attempting to enhance his mystique by avoiding the combine, his agent said.
``He's not showing off,' Duvernay said. ``The teams expressed an interest in working him out, and Rocket wants to cooperate.'
The Patriots, who finished 1-15 last season, haven't talked about whether the team would keep the top pick or trade. Chief executive officer Sam Jankovich expressed interest when Ismail entered the draft but cautioned it was ``far too early' to decide.
Jankovich was unavailable for comment Wednesday and the Patriots' public relations office did not return phone calls.
``They're just playing it close to the vest at this point,' Duvernay said. Asked whether teams had approached the Patriots about a trade, or whether the team was interested, he said, ``I haven't the slightest idea.'
The scouts will watch the 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster run the 40-yard dash and pass patterns. His speed helped him return five kickoffs for touchdowns at Notre Dame, gain 4,187 all-purpose yards and score a total of 15 touchdowns in three seasons.
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