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Prospects NFL status unclear after shooting

Weathersby expected to have speedy recovery

Dennis Weathersby is expected to recover fully from a gunshot wound he suffered this week, his agent says, but the incident is likely to affect the former Oregon State cornerback's prospects this weekend in the NFL draft.

Weathersby was being treated at Santa Teresita Hospital in his hometown of Duarte, Calif., after he was shot in an apparently gang-related drive-by shooting Sunday evening, only six days before the NFL Draft.

Rated as perhaps the third-best cornerback in the draft, the 22-year-old Weathersby was expected to go in the first or second round.

'Dennis was only hit by one bullet, and there was no surgery involved,' says Steve Caric, a spokesman for Premier Management Group. 'He should have a speedy recovery without any long-term effects.'

Authorities say Weathersby was shot in the back while getting into a car in an area of Los Angeles County that has seen gang-related shootings in the past two years. A friend, Joe Lopez, told the Pasadena Star-News that Weathersby did not belong to a gang.

Weathersby was projected to be the third cornerback chosen Ñ behind Terence Newman, a projected top-five pick, and Washington State star Marcus Trufant. ESPN's Mel Kiper and other analysts pegged Weathersby as a first-round pick, maybe going to Indianapolis at No. 24.

Weathersby performed well in the NFL combine. He measured 6-0 5Ú8 and 204 pounds, bigger than Newman and Trufant. His 40-yard dash time (4.40) was better, his 38-inch vertical jump and shuttle run comparable.

Many teams like to draft bigger cornerbacks, especially if they have speed. Weathersby bumps-and-runs as well as any corner, but scouts question his strength and lack of aggressiveness in coverage.

Several other players with Oregon connections might go in the first three rounds of Saturday's NFL draft, and several more hope to be selected by Sunday's seventh and final round. Oregon running back Onterrio Smith and safety Troy Polamalu, who grew up outside Roseburg, are projected first- or second-round picks. There's an outside chance that OSU linebacker Nick Barnett will get taken early.

UO tight end George Wrighster, Duck receiver Keenan Howry, OSU defensive tackle James Lee and Portland State quarterback Juston Wood are more likely to go as fourth- to seventh-round picks on Sunday.

Long shots who may have to go the free-agent route include UO linebacker David Moretti, OSU defensive tackle Eric Manning and OSU cornerback Terrell Roberts.

Polamalu starred at USC, twice earning first-team All-American honors. Kiper calls him 'one of the top 10 to 15 true football players in this draft.' But because NFL teams draft on need in the early rounds, Polamalu might slip to the Oakland Raiders, who have the final two picks of the first round.

Smith could slide to the second round. Draft experts have Larry Johnson rated higher than Smith, who has battled off-field issues and had knee surgery last December. Kiper says Smith will go to Tampa Bay with the last pick of the second round.

Some teams might take their chances with Miami's Willis McGahee before Smith, even though McGahee blew out his knee in the Fiesta Bowl.