The hat-and-hug routine with the NFL commissioner that has become a rite of passage for many college football stars on draft night is not for everybody.

The waiting is the hardest part, even for players good enough to be invited to the draft, and some prefer to do it away from the ever-present eyes of a national TV audience.

"I know that the draft is really a great event and a great thing to go to," said Pitt offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings, a potential first-round pick who declined an invitation to attend next week's draft.

"It also can be pretty stressful. Nobody knows where they're going to go. But the wait, I'd rather have that wait with my friends and family here at home in New Jersey."

There will be several noticeable absences when the three-day draft starts Thursday. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper all plan to skip the spotlight.

Either Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback could be the first overall selection, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers holding the top pick and in need of a passer. The last time the No. 1 pick did not attend the draft was 1994, when Cincinnati selected Ohio State defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson.

But this year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might have to wait until pick No. 3 or even 4 — Cooper could go in the top three, too — to pose for a picture with a just-drafted player, his new team's jersey in hand.

Not to worry. Goodell won't be lonely. Twenty-eight players are scheduled to attend.

From 2000-09, an average of six prospects attended the draft, and even then some declined the invitation. Former Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas went fishing the day he was drafted No. 3 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2007.

"I applaud their decision, being home in a comfortable environment," said Matt Leinart, a 2006 draftee. "For Mariota, he's a shy person. That's not his deal. Jameis Winston is probably avoiding it for other reasons. To stay out of the media."

Return to Los Angeles

Roger Goodell says the two stadium projects in the Los Angeles area look promising enough to lead to the return of the NFL to the nation's second-largest city.

The NFL commissioner tells the Associated Press Sports Editors group Friday that he thinks the projects in Englewood and Carson are "viable," and have a "great deal of potential to be successful."

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is involved in the Englewood project, while the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have combined to work on the Carson proposal.

Meanwhile, leaders of the effort to build a new NFL stadium in St. Louis said Friday they remain optimistic about a plan they say would retain a team and help redevelop a blighted part of the city.

Members of the St. Louis stadium task force made their case directly to league officials in New York on Wednesday.

The St. Louis group showed NFL officials revised renderings and video of plans for a stadium along the Mississippi River that would cost around $1 billion.

Titans sign Nicks

The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with veteran wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. The Titans announced the deal Friday without disclosing financial details.

Nicks, 27, caught 38 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns with the Colts last year after playing five seasons with the New York Giants. Nicks, a former first-round draft pick, has 349 career receptions for 5,027 yards and 31 touchdowns.