Whispers from around the NFL

• According to team observers, Lions president Matt Millen has told acquaintances that DE Mario Williams is the kind of player the team wants to build around. Williams, though, is expected to be long gone by the time the Lions pick ninth overall. However, Millen might consider moving up in the draft should Williams drop a few spots.

• Another indication the Giants are leaning toward drafting a linebacker early: Vice president of player evaluation Chris Mara has been at the pro days of four schools with first-round caliber OLBs -- Alabama (DeMeco Ryans), Miami (Fla.) (Rocky McIntosh), Iowa (Chad Greenway) and Florida State (Ernie Sims and Kamerion Wimbley).

• We hear the Niners really have their fingers crossed that C Jeremy Newberry will be able to start alongside newly acquired OLG Larry Allen on the offensive line, but the odds that Newberry's surgically repaired right knee will allow him to do so remain 50-50 at best.