Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, the Notre Dame flanker and kick returner regarded as the top prize in Sunday's NFL draft, would wind up with the Dallas Cowboys in a trade reportedly in the works that would top any pre-draft deal ever made.
According to Boston newspapers, the New England Patriots are discussing a trade that would send their three top draft choices - the first, 28th and 56th - to Dallas for four of the Cowboys draft choices - 12th and 14th in the first round, a second-round pick, a choice in the 1992 draft, and a player.The Cowboys would use the Patriots' first pick to select Ismail, The Boston Globe said.
The proposal is the work of Patriots president Sam Jankovich and Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson, who have remained close friends since Jankovich, as athletic director at the University of Miami, hired Johnson as head coach.
"I talked Tuesday to Sam and I talked with Joe today," Johnson said Wednesday of conversations with his former college boss and Patriots player personnel director Joe Mendes. "We looked at the situations and have had some discussions.
"We are interested in the first pick. We think Rocket is a great football player. He does a lot more than just catch the ball. He'll make an impact on every game he's in. And getting him would certainly make (quarterback) Troy Aikman happy."
On Wednesday, Jankovich said that if they didn't trade the rights to Ismail, they will draft him even if he is unsigned.
"I guess there's really no guarantees anywhere in life, but if there's any way that we can get him signed by Sunday (day of the draft), we will," Jankovich said. "But right now we're saying if we don't, more than likely we might draft him."
Mendes said the team got what he described as "a pretty interesting proposal" from a team other than Atlanta for the first overall pick in the draft and the rights to Ismail.
The Falcons, who have the third choice in the Sunday's NFL draft, were thought to be the most likely to trade for the pick because they also hold the 13th overall choice. Mendes said the new team involved had a choice in the top half of the first round.
"I don't think the Falcons will question this one in the least," Mendes, said of the new interest.