Sunday, February 15, 2004

A quick chat with ... Jerry Jones

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Retired Mariemont pharmacist Jerry Jones is in his 27th year of publishing The Drugstore List NFL draft guide.

The little gold book, updated and published three times in a yearly cycle, is one of the most succinct and respected in a crowded market.

Jones, 68, left the snow of Greater Cincinnati in 1994 for the warmth of St. Simons Island, Ga.

Q: How did The List start?

A: It was a gentleman's bet with a friend, Tom Hunter, in 1972. Who could predict the first round? Then it grew to two rounds, then four. It was all hand-written lists. Then we went to all 17 rounds. I wore him out.

Q: How is this your 27th list?

A: I was featured in a New York Times story by Bill Wallace in 1978 with two other draftniks. That's when we first published a book.

Q: You've been in the Bengals' draft room, right?

A: The crowning glory was being invited into the draft room in April 1989, the year after the Super Bowl. When Paul Brown invites you in, that's as high as the privilege gets. After a few years, I couldn't go in because I was media.

Q: You sat next to Paul Brown that first time. What was that like?

A: Like being the parish priest meeting the Pope.

Q: Your shining moments?

A: I had Cris Collinsworth and Corey Dillon both slotted as first-round picks. They both went in the second round and made me look smart. Then there were the two Davises. I had Terrell going in the fourth; he went in the sixth to Denver. And Stephen ... I had him in the second. He went in the fourth to Washington.

Q: What is your expert opinion of Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?

A: It depends on what team is looking at him. The level of competition is the only thing against him. In the Big Ten and SEC, three of the four defensive backs are really good. In the Mid-American Conference, it's maybe one of four.

I'd say (Mississippi's) Eli Manning by a hair as the first quarterback. Manning is more skilled at reading defenses and has been doing it nearly his whole life. His genes aren't going to hurt.

Q: Where do you think Maurice Clarett will be in the fall?

A: In Columbus, I hope. If he actually enters the draft, I see him late two, early three. He is quick with good vision and has natural instinct to see the hole. The dark side is he's not the fastest guy in the world. He is an "improving" running back, not a "developed" one. And there are questions about his durability and off-field stuff.

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