PROVO — BYU's football program has been steadily proficient at getting players on NFL rosters, but this weekend's draft holds no guarantees for the Cougars.

BYU players most likely to be drafted include fullback Fahu Tahi, wide receiver Todd Watkins and defensive tackle Manaia Brown. If they are not picked, all expect to accept bids from clubs as free agents.

"My agent told me the best way to approach it is to expect little, not to get all excited about draft day and then whatever happens won't be a letdown," Tahi said. "I'm trying to just prepare myself for whatever happens, but I'm anxious to get on with my life and know one way or another what's going to happen and what I am going to be doing."

Tahi, who ran a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash last June, posted a 4.9 at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. The time at the combine shouldn't hurt Tahi's chances because he ran with a sore, swollen knee that bothered him through the Las Vegas Bowl. At 255 pounds, he could help a team as a blocker, runner and pass catcher.

"My knee is fine now, and I haven't had any problem at all," Tahi said this week.

Tahi did impress scouts with his strength at the combine, hoisting the 220-pound bench press 35 times.

To date, Tahi and his agent, Max Hannean of Honolulu, have fielded calls from Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago and the New York Giants.

Tahi's value may rise because of his size, speed and strength in a draft and game lacking blocking fullbacks. If so, Tahi could be taken on the first day as a second- or third-rounder. Rich Garven of the Telegram.com in Boston listed Tahi as a sleeper at running back, a possibility for the Patriots as a mid-round pick.

"It would be nice to be drafted," Tahi said. "It will be nice when it's all over. Since February at the combine, it seems like the draft gets pushed back. I'm a little nervous but excited at the same time."

This weekend, Tahi will be in California with some relatives in San Mateo, where he will tune into the draft on TV.

Watkins plans on heading home to San Diego today, where he'll monitor the draft. His approach is the same as Tahi's.

"My mind-set is basically just don't get too anxious or excited because if my expectations are set high and aren't reached, it could be a real letdown," Watkins said. "I plan on just going with the flow."

Watkins ran a 4.41 at the combine, slower than his 4.28 clocking at a Nike Camp before coming to BYU. But Watkins has put on nearly 15 pounds since he came to BYU in an attempt to be more physical.

Watkins' agent has received calls from Tampa Bay, Oakland, Tennessee, Miami and Philadelphia. He has not worked out for a team in recent weeks.

"That could be a positive thing because it may mean they already know what I can do," he said.

Watkins is considered a wild-card receiver, a player floating under the radar on some NFL boards. Dennis Georgatos of the San Jose Mercury News lists Watkins as a possible target for the 49ers if Watkins is available in the third round when the 49ers pick No. 84. Tom Casale of the Patriot Football Weekly mentions Watkins as a possible mid-round pick, categorized with Oregon's Demetrius Williams and New Mexico's Hank Baskett.

Brown, who played at Nebraska before transferring to BYU, is a possible sleeper in a draft deep in defensive tackles. Scout.com has Brown listed with a group who could be taken in the bottom portion of the draft.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com