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Milanovich, Copeland Highlight Xtreme Draft

By David Curtis, LA Xtreme Team Reporter

1 November 2000 – The most intriguing selections made by the Los Angeles Xtreme during the XFL’s inaugural player draft were those of hard-luck quarterback Scott Milanovich — the first pick overall — and receiving phenom Jeremaine Copeland.

Milanovich, once an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was chosen over the likes of Kurt Warner in the ’99 Cleveland Browns’ expansion draft. After Cleveland released him later in the year, he returned to the Bucs as a familiar insurance policy. Tampa then allocated him to the Europe League’s Berlin Thunder in 2000. Despite a gutsy and efficient performance “over there” (55.8% completions, 12 TDs, 7 Ints) he failed to win a roster spot upon his return — a disappointment that resulted from bad timing more than anything else. His absence during the offseason left him behind the curve when learning the team’s new system under coordinator Les Steckel, and lingering injuries from the Berlin campaign only made things worse, limiting his reps in camp.

This kid (he’s only 27 years old) resembles former Raider Jim Plunkett in style, temperament, and looks. Like Plunkett, he seems to stumble around and heave the ball awkwardly. And like Plunkett, he always seems in the end to get the ball where it needs to be, often for big plays when they’re most needed. You’ll never mistake him for a scrambler, but when he takes his helmet off, you’ll wonder if human clones are still science fiction. So will Al Luginbill be L.A.’s next Tom Flores…?

Copeland, signed by the St. Louis Rams after going undrafted in ’99, was released prior to the regular season and eventually wound up with NFL Europe’s Barcelona Dragons, notching professional football’s all-time record for receptions in a single game (19). His feat has been commemorated in Canton’s Hall of Fame.

He could be labeled as the ultimate possession receiver, but that would be selling his talent short. There’s enough speed here to sneak deep now and again, plus the lateral movement skills to do serious damage after the catch. As Robin Roberts says of Randy Moss (with whom Copeland admittedly doesn’t compare), there aren’t enough ohs in “smooth” to describe him. Yet he couldn’t manage to stick with a bonafide NFL club this year, and lasted until the 23rd round of the XFL draft, which suggests more than a few questions about his commitment.

“LUGIES”

Coaches almost invariably bring in personnel from their previous teams to set an example. Luginbill is no exception. Xtreme players spit out from his old regime in Amsterdam, which we’ll affectionately call “Lugies,” include the following:

OG Rick Austin
DL Geno Bell
RB Frank Leatherwood
TE Maurice Little
WR James Kidd
DT Jon Kirksey
WR Jason Shelley
LB Shawn Stuckey

Shelley is an angular, fluid athlete who works well out of the slot, Kidd a classic Smurf with 4.3 speed, and Kirksey a poor man’s Gilbert Brown….

SLEEPER

Offensive tackle Willie Jones was on the Rams’ regular-season roster (albeit inactive) for much of their Superbowl run. He most recently served as a fill-in starter for Richmond Webb during the Miami Dolphins’ training camp before again being let go. Jones has the size (about 6-7, 365) and upper body strength to dominate as a drive blocker and the feet to mirror most pure defensive ends. He should be all-league on the right side of the line, and could successfully return to the NFL in a year or two.

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