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QUESTION ISN'T IF, BUT WHEN WALSH WILL BE PICKED

Six months ago, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper said BYU's junior quarterback John Walsh would likely be a top-five selection - and possibly even the No. 1 pick overall by the expansion Carolina Panthers - if he chose to forego his senior season for the NFL draft.

Three months later, Walsh - after finishing the season with a bang by shredding the Oklahoma defense in the Copper Bowl - chose to make himself eligible for the draft.Today, Walsh will be at home, watching ESPN to see what NFL team selects him. Walsh now knows he won't be the first pick overall or in the top five. He's not even expected to be chosen in the first round.

Mock drafts by Dave Goldberg of the Associated Press, Paul Domowitch of Knight-Ridder Newspapers and Gordon Forbes of USA Today don't include Walsh in their first rounds. The Atlanta Journal Constitution had a list of the 50 top players in the draft and Walsh's name was conspicuously absent. Alcorn State's Steve McNair and Penn State's Kerry Collins are considered the top two QB's in the draft, with Walsh anywhere from third to seventh.

So Walsh is expected to be chosen in the second round, third round or even later. In fact, Walsh may not even be the first player from BYU taken.

What happened in the past few months to have Walsh's stock drop so much?

It's a valid question, but the fact of the matter may be that other NFL scouts and analysts were never as high on Walsh as Kiper was. Walsh's speed and mobility, or lack thereof, have been questioned. Even Kiper has now taken a different view of the ex-Cougar. He now says Walsh is on the first-round bubble.

Kiper listed Walsh as the 27th best draft prospect in the May issue of Inside Sports, calling him "an excellent short to medium-range passer" with "the arm strength and size (6-foot-3, 214 pounds) for the NFL, but mobility is the big question."

Walsh ran the 40 in 5.3 seconds - which is an offensive lineman-like time - for scouts.

He has also been timed at 5.1 and 4.91, which aren't great times, but are in the vicinity of some other quarterbacks in the draft like Collins (4.85), USC's Rob Johnson (4.90), Stanford's Steve Stenstrom (5.08) and Kansas State's Chad May (4.85).

Now it's just a waiting game for Walsh - and several of his college teammates. Offensive lineman Evan Pilgrim, listed in USA Today as the draft's fifth-rated guard, could go as high as the second round, but is probably more likely to go in the third or fourth. Running back Jamal Willis is expected to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds, while defensive end Travis Hall may be a late pick in the seven-round draft.

A Cougar who won't be drafted, but could have been, has been receiving national attention this week. Eli Herring was the subject of a story in Wednesday's USA Today because he is not interested in being drafted because he doesn't want to play football on Sunday due to his religious beliefs. Bill Baker, a scout for the New Orleans Saints, said the 6-6, 330-pound Herring could likely have been a third-round pick.