WITH THE NFL draft approaching, Eagles star running back Brian Westbrook would like everyone to know about an unknown gem who needs only a little polishing.

Byron Westbrook, a 5-10 1/2, 195-pound cornerback out of Salisbury (Md.) University, would be a steal, according to his brother.

At this point, opinions vary on whether Byron Westbrook will get drafted. Byron said he has heard from a number of teams, including the Eagles.

"I've had a couple workouts for them. I know the scouts pretty well," Byron said. "It all depends on the numbers game."

Brian says his brother's biggest obstacle is overcoming the stigma that Division III

players lack the skills to play at the NFL level. Byron had 18 interceptions in his career at

Salisbury and also returned kicks. Salisbury has never produced an NFL player.

"He's a bigger cornerback," Brian said. "He's a physical guy. He does punt returns, kickoff returns. He's definitely athletic. He's one of those guys that [physically] matured a little bit later. With the proper coaching, he can definitely be an NFL player."

Brian was an award-winning college player and a third-round pick out of Division I-AA

Villanova. It was his skills as a kick returner that opened NFL eyes, he said.

If there is a guy Byron Westbrook can use for inspiration, it's Roderick Hood, who joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2003. After 4 years here as an efficient backup, Hood signed a 5-year contract with Arizona last month that, with incentives, could be worth up to $23 million.

"That gives me hope that with hard work and determination the same things could happen to me," Byron said.

Feel the draft

Regardless of what others may think, the NFL draft is fun . . . and fun is good. *

- Ed Barkowitz