New deals, new worries for Colts and old-timers in a rage

On June 1 a year ago, there were only two of 255 picks signed from the entire 2006 draft class, Houston defensive end Mario Williams, the top overall choice, and Pittsburgh fourth-round offensive lineman Willie Colon. As of Thursday night, however, slightly more than 10 percent of the players chosen in this year's lottery, 26 of 255 prospects, either had signed their rookie contracts or agreed to terms on deals.

Even though most of the accords were with middle- and late-round choices -- there are only five deals done with first-day selections, all in the third round, and the highest-drafted player to have signed is Dolphins' tailback Lorenzo Booker, the 71st player taken -- the quick start is a promising one.

It doesn't mean that high-round choices will be signed any sooner. Most teams and agents prefer to wait until there is some "slotting" in the higher rounds, so they can work off of the contracts already negotiated. But by completing the contracts that are basically no-brainers for players taken in the middle and late rounds, maybe there will be more time to devote to the earlier deals instead of waiting until the last minute and operating under the NFL's widespread deadline mentality.