Rogers remains confident of lofty place in NFL draft

Saturday, April 19, 2003

DETROIT -- Charles Rogers is used to clearing obstacles.

So the record-breaking wide receiver from Michigan State figures there's no reason he won't get past the latest -- a drug test at the NFL combine that raised questions.

His urine sample was diluted, and excess water is regarded as a masking agent under the league's drug policy.

"I've been through tough times," Rogers said, "but I'm still standing."

When he fathered two children while at Saginaw High School, he wasn't afraid to talk about it publicly.

When his final season and Heisman Trophy hopes at Michigan State crumbled after quarterback Jeff Smoker announced he had a substance-abuse problem and coach Bobby Williams was fired, Rogers stayed positive.

"Ever since Smoker went down, people have been trying to bring me down," Rogers said. "This week, I'm seeing the cutthroat business part of the NFL.

"It will only make me cherish my dream even more when I get to the top."

Confidence not shaken

Despite what the 21-year-old Rogers calls his latest "speed bump," he says he is confident he'll be one of the first players selected in the April 26-27 draft.

"I'm in the same situation as I was last week; I will go no lower than two," Rogers said. "I think there's a possibility Houston will move up to No. 1 to get me, and if they don't, Detroit will.

"I can't go wrong. Both teams have quality, young quarterbacks that I'll be able to grow with."

Rogers, who caught a school-record 68 passes for 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Spartans last season, decided to skip his senior season to enter the draft. He set NCAA records by catching TD passes in 13 straight regular-season games and 14 consecutive games overall. Rogers also set records with 27 TDs and 12 100-yard receiving games and finished second with 2,821 receiving yards.

Before representatives from almost every NFL team last month at Michigan State, the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder was timed in the 40-yard dash between 4.26 and 4.33 seconds, had a vertical leap of 37 inches and cleared more than 10 feet in the broad jump.

Gil Brandt, who was director of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys for 30 years, doesn't think Rogers' drug test will alter his draft status.

"I don't know if Charles had a problem, or didn't have a problem, but I've come to know him quite well," said Brandt, an NFL.com analyst. "I think he's a good person and a smart guy, so I don't think he would be dumb enough to jeopardize his career by doing something that was wrong.

"If I didn't think he was a quality person, I would not have recommended that the NFL invite him to the draft in New York. And in the 10 years we've been doing this, he's the first player that is bringing a bus full of people from his hometown to attend the draft."

Detroit Lions president Matt Millen refused to address whether the diluted urine sample changes what the team thinks of Rogers. But Millen said they had a good conversation Monday during the player's visit to the team's headquarters.

"We've heard nothing but 'good' on him," Millen said. "He's a kid who has great skills, obviously, and a personality to match. I think it would be a great fit here."

Results released to media

Millen was angry that Rogers' drug test became a public issue. The league makes all test results at the NFL combine available to teams but not the media.

Rogers' agent, Kevin Poston, said the test results shouldn't affect Rogers' position in the draft.

"It would be something if we were talking about a positive test for cocaine or marijuana or something like that, but we're not. We're talking about having too much water in his urine," Poston said. "This will not alter his draft status because teams do a lot of homework on these guys, and Charles has nothing to hide because he hasn't had problems and he doesn't have a record."

Rogers said nothing will be able to wipe the ever-present smile off his face permanently.

"I'm looking forward to enjoy draft day along with my whole family in New York City," he said. "It's going to be a great day for me, my family and the whole city of Saginaw."

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