Four top prospects in line to attend NFL draft next month

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn and Southern California offensive tackle Tyron Smith have confirmed that they will attend next month's NFL draft in New York.

Also, Patrick Peterson has received an invitation and plans to attend, according to his agent, Patrick Lawlor, who said Wednesday it has been "a lifelong dream" for the LSU cornerback and his family to be there.

Jones told Sirius NFL Radio's Adam Schein on Tuesday that standing on stage at Radio City Music Hall would be "a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

"I talked to my family and everything, so it's just, you know, just to have this opportunity to go there and just have this experience," Jones said. "We decided that we'd love to go there."

Clayborn announced Tuesday via Twitter that he also will be in attendance.

Smith informed NFL Network of his intentions Wednesday at USC's pro day. The draft is scheduled for April 28-30.

League sources told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that 20 players have been invited to attend the draft. Among the prospects to receive invitations are Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and running back Mark Ingram, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley and Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara.

Miller, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and could be a top-five pick, is a plaintiff in the antitrust lawsuit that 10 players filed against the league March 11.

Washington quarterback Jake Locker said Wednesday at his pro day that he received an invitation but instead will watch the draft with his family at their home.

"I appreciate the invite, but for me, I want to be with the people that have been with me my whole life and helped me get to this point, and I want to share that experience for them," Locker said. "Not all of them would be able to come to New York with me."

The NFL Players Association is scheduling alternate draft-week events that aren't intended to compete with the draft itself. Some agents have told La Canfora that they are advising their clients not to attend the festivities at Radio City Music Hall since players are being locked out.

The league hasn't yet confirmed who has been invited or who already has accepted invites to the draft, out of respect for these rookies who find themselves in an awkward position given the lockout and the sentiment expressed by some that they shouldn't partake in a league event and shake hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a time when players are locked out.


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However, league sources have told La Canfora that several players in addition to Jones and Clayborn already have accepted invitations.

For years, the league had approximately five to seven players on-site at the draft, but last year's move to primetime, combined with the special nature of the celebration of the 75th NFL Draft, had the league welcome a record 17 players to New York.

The lawsuit takes aim at the draft as an unfair labor practice and lists this year's draft class as a protected class in the suit, which is why Miller agreed to be included as a plaintiff.

Miller's agent, Joby Branion, works for Athletes First, a representation company in Irvine, Calif., where one of the agents is Andrew Kessler, the son of Jeffrey Kessler. The elder Kessler has been an outside counsel for the NFL Players Association for years and was directly involved in the players seeking the injunction to block the lockout.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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