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Waiting for the call: Weddle planning to have fun on NFL Draft day

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Eric Weddle plans to get up early Saturday morning. Hours before the NFL Draft gets under way, the former Utah All-American and his father intend to play some golf.

Afterward, they'll return to the Weddle family home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where family and friends will gather to chill, play some pool, relax and wait for Eric's name to be called in the draft.

"I'm just ready to get working and become part of a team again," said Weddle, a defensive back who is projected to be taken in the second or third round.

"Now it's a waiting game," he said. "I'm hoping for the best and prepared for the worst."

Weddle, for obvious reasons, is hoping to be a first-day pick. Rounds 1-3 are Saturday, while the last four are Sunday. Weddle said reports from his agent indicate that teams have given him second-round grades.

"But you never know," he said.

Friends in the NFL have advised Weddle to just have fun and not worry about it, explaining that, "You're going to go where you're going to go and leave it at that."

Weddle said he's had contact with a majority of the NFL's 32 teams but insists none has shown more interest than any other.

"It doesn't matter," Weddle said when asked if he had a preference. "San Diego would be best just because of family and stuff, but you just can't worry about that."

Ken Vierra, a former Utah quarterback who is now an attorney and sports agent, agrees with the predictions that have Weddle going in the second or third round. He also expects two other Utes to get drafted — defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Kelly Talavou, one of his clients.

Vierra projects Soliai to go in the third or fourth round, and Talavou in the sixth or seventh.

"Kelly's been getting a lot of interest lately," said Vierra. "He didn't go to the combine, but people are starting to realize he's a draftable guy."

The draft-day forecast for the Utes, he added, is pretty solid.

"For Utah it's fairly strong — an average to slightly above average draft," said Vierra, who noted that 2005 was super with Alex Smith going No. 1 overall and four others (Sione Pouha, Chris Kemoeatu, Paris Warren and Jonathan Fanene) picked, and 2006 was below average with just two seventh-round selections (Spencer Toone and Quinton Ganther to Tennessee).

As is the case each year, several Utes will be considered in the late rounds or via free agency. Vierra said this year's top prospects to do so include quarterback Brett Ratliff and cornerback Shaun Harper. Offensive lineman Tavo Tupola is also in the mix. Safety Casey Evans, defensive end Soli Lefiti and cornerback Eric Shyne are other possibilities.

Ratliff, who quarterbacked Utah to a pair of bowl victories, said he has a "good feeling" about his football future. He recently had a good workout for the Miami Dolphins and noted that other teams have expressed interest.

Like many potential late draftees, Ratliff plans to watch the proceedings on television and be near the phone on Sunday.

"I'm ready for it to be here," he said.

E-mail: dirk@desnews.coms