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  • Cowboys DE Gregory reportedly fails seventh drug test
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    Defensive end Randy Gregory of the Dallas Cowboys, already on suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, tested positive for the seventh time, according to media reports.

    • Gregory was tested on Feb. 21 and on March 2 and was reportedly informed that he had tested positive for marijuana. He has since been uncooperative with NFL officials trying to discuss the situation.

      "This is a disappointment," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said when Gregory was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.

      "We have been clear with Randy about what his responsibilities are and what is expected of him. This is something that he is going to have to work through and correct."

      However, Gregory was suspended for 10 more games last September, and in January was suspended for at least a year following additional positive tests.

      Gregory, 24, was considered one of the best players in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Nebraska but was not selected until the 60th pick because of off-the-field concerns and he was hampered by injuries as a rookie.

      Now the speculation is that his career is over before it ever really began.

  • 49ers get RB Bibbs from Broncos
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    The San Francisco 49ers acquired running back Kapri Bibbs from the Denver Broncos on Saturday for a 2018 draft pick.

    • The 49ers received Bibbs and Denver's 2017 fifth-round (177th overall) draft choice for San Francisco's fourth-round draft choice next year.

      The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Bibbs signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in May 2014.

      After spending the majority of his rookie season on the Broncos' practice squad, Bibbs appeared in 13 games over the last two seasons, recording 29 rushes for 129 yards with two receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown.

      The 49ers added the 24-year-old Bibbs to a backfield headlined by Carlos Hyde and newly signed veteran backup Tim Hightower.

      Bibbs attended Colorado State, where he played in 14 games and rushed for 1,741 yards and 31 touchdowns in his only season with the school in 2013.

      In addition, the 49ers traded up in the fourth round on Saturday to draft Utah running back Joe Williams.

  • Dizzy day nets Seahawks six players
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    After trading out of the first round on Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks added six total players to their roster during a frenzied day two of the NFL Draft.

    • Seattle drafted four defensive players and two offensive pieces during the second and third rounds of the draft. The class is headlined by Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who Seattle selected with the 35th overall pick of the draft.

      "He's too unique," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said of the decision to draft McDowell. "We've been looking for a pass rushing 3-technique since we've been here together."

      Added head coach Pete Carroll: "He's so young (20 years old) that we can develop the things that aren't quite right yet. We think we can mold him into a really good role player for us and fit him into a number of different spots."

      McDowell's consistency and his effort was a question during his time at Michigan State. He would occasionally throttle down on certain plays and show a less than ideal motor. However, Schneider said that was one of the areas they addressed during his visit to the team's headquarters.

      "He knows he needs to keep going and those are part of the discussions we had with him when he visited," Schneider said.

      The Seahawks traded down twice on Thursday to move out of the first round and once more on Friday before making McDowell their first pick. It was the fourth time in five seasons that the Seahawks have not made a first-round selection. In fact, Seattle hasn't made a selection with its original first-round pick since selecting James Carpenter in 2011.

      McDowell appears to be the player they were targeting all along, but Schneider noted they had a cluster of players they would have been comfortable taking each time they elected to trade further back.

      The three trades netted Seattle additional third-, fourth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks to bring their total allotment of selections to 11 after beginning the draft with just seven. Ultimately, by moving down just nine total spots, the Seahawks added four total picks to their slate.

      The rest of Seattle's day was kept stationary as the Seahawks added five more picks before the night was complete.

      LSU offensive lineman Ethan Pocic was selected with the 58th overall pick in the second round. While Pocic was a center in college, he has also played guard and tackle. The Seahawks saw him as the most versatile lineman in the class.

      "He was the one guy that, quite frankly, we were really sweating out because we felt like you're drafting maybe two-and-a-half players with one guy," Schneider said. "We debated whether to go up and get him or just wait and sweat it out."

      In the third round, Seattle added Central Florida cornerback Shaquill Griffin (90th), Michigan safety Delano Hill (95th), North Carolina defensive tackle Nazair Jones (102nd) and Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh (106th).

      While none of Seattle's picks can be penciled in as probable starters from day one, all of them have a chance to contribute significantly on a rotational basis this season.

      The Seahawks have five picks remaining on Saturday with a fourth-round pick -- the fourth selection of the day -- two sixth-round picks and two seventh-round picks.

  • Texans add value picks on draft's second day
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans addressed both sides of the football during the second day of the NFL draft.

    • They drafted Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham in the second round and University of Texas running back D'Onta Foreman.

      "We feel like we added two good players," general manager Rick Smith said. "It was a productive night. Zach is athletic and rangy with cover skills. Very productive in a big conference. A good character guy and highly decorated. Foreman adds balance to the offense. A powerful runner who has good feet, vision and quickness."

      Foreman won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back, declaring early for the NFL draft.

      "He came to our local pro day and worked out," Smith said. "A lot of times, some of the higher-projected prospects shy away from the local workout. He wanted to compete, got into the drills and showed us he was ready, willing and excited to be a Texan."

      Texans head coach Bill O'Brien likes to run the ball. Only Seattle has more rushing attempts than the Texans in O'Brien's first three seasons.

      "He was a very productive inside runner that broke a lot of tackles," O'Brien said of Foreman. "He ran to the perimeter, too. He was a productive runner on first and second down, tackle to tackle runner. That was impressive.

      "He was the guy we had ranked the highest at that point. Rick made the decision to do it, and I was all for it."

      The Texans have a 1,000-yard runner in Lamar Miller.

      "Being able to spell Lamar when Lamar needs that," O'Brien said about the role he envisions for Foreman. "All running backs need a little rest every now and then."

      O'Brien was impressed with Cunningham's versatility and the way he led the Southeastern Conference in tackles. Cunningham was an All-America. He could play inside or outside linebacker.

      "He's a versatile guy who can do both," O'Brien said. "Versatility is key for us. Zach was a very productive tackler at Vanderbilt. He can help us in a number of different ways. Starting out, I know he can help us on special teams.

      "He can play in our base defense. He can play on third down. He's a versatile player and a tough kid. He's got to get bigger and stronger. He's a rangy guy that's athletic."

  • Patriots finally active on draft's second day
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Despite holding two of the seemingly more enticing trade chips heading into the draft in the form of budding backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler, the New England Patriots stood pat and essentially sat out what was an otherwise active-packed first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

    • The Patriots had previously shipped their first-round selection, No. 32 overall, as part of a March trade with the Saints for speedy young wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, the Browns reportedly once again inquired about dealing for Garoppolo who impressed in a pair of starts to open last season.

      Set to finally pick at No. 72 overall in the third round - New England used its second-round pick in a deal with the Panthers for defensive end Kony Ealy – head coach Bill Belichick made fans wait even longer by dealing down with the Titans.

      But, the defending Super Bowl champions finally actually turned in a pick card at No. 83 overall, laying claim to Youngstown State defensive end/outside linebacker Derek Rivers. The 6-foot-4, 248-pounder fits the mold of a New England edge player with a 4.6 40. Rivers had 36 sacks over the last three years.

      A pass rusher was considered New England's biggest need in the draft, with Rivers joining a defensive end group that includes aging, fading veteran Rob Ninkovich, third-year rising star Trey Flowers, Ealy and little else.

      Two spots after making their first pick of the weekend with Rivers, the Patriots actually traded back up to No. 85 to take Troy tackle Antonio Garcia. The 6-foot-6, 302-pounder is a lean, athletic left tackle who plays with a mean streak. Like Rivers, he'll be making a big jump in competition at the NFL level and will have to adjust after spending much of his college career in a two-point stance, but offers insurance for New England with veteran left tackle Nate Solder heading into the final year of his contract in 2017.

      But the late, somewhat developmental third-round picks certainly won't make or break the 2017 season in New England.

      "Obviously, we've been watching a lot of picks go by, but I feel like overall our opportunity in this draft started a couple of months ago," Belichick said when he addressed the media at the end of the third round. "The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft process. Hopefully we've been able to improve our team, become more competitive. That's the ultimate goal."

      That's not to say Belichick doesn't have high hopes for his two newest players, with the Patriots set to add three more young players in the final four rounds of the draft.

      "Today we were able to move around a little bit. We ended up taking two players, one on each side of the ball," Belichick noted. "We took Antonio Garcia here in the last pick, a tackle from Troy. He was here last week. (We) had a good visit with him. We'll see how that goes, but I think he'll be competitive. He's done a good job for them down there.

      "Derek Rivers - who we took a couple of picks before that - a defensive end. (He) played competitively in the all-star games and in a good program there with coach (Bo) Pelini who we know very well. Bo does a great job with his players and his team. Derek's been in a good system, has been well-coached. Even though he's from a smaller school we'll see what he can do for himself here, as well, when all is said and done."

      Both players said they were "super excited" to join the Super Bowl champions and emphasize that they were willing to do whatever their new coaches asked of them. Now, they'll fall in line with one of the most talented teams in football.

      Beyond talking about his picks, Belichick concluded the second night of the draft in his usual defensive mode with the media. Garoppolo and Butler remained in New England and the coach had little to say about it.

      "I'm happy to talk about the guys we picked. I'm not going to get into any of that," Belichick concluded regarding the trade possibilities and rumors. "We're going to go forward with the team that we have. We've added two players today. We'll add some more tomorrow. However many it is, however it goes, and we'll go out there and compete and put the best team we can on the field."

      After an aggressive offseason and a relatively quiet draft, that team is not only the defending champion but clearly one of if not the most talented squad heading into yet another Super Bowl-hopeful season in New England.

  • Rams see fit for TE Everett in McVay offense
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- It was never a secret the Los Angeles Rams were open for business if someone wanted to lure them out of the 37th pick in the NFL Draft - their first selection overall - with a tempting offer.

    • So it was no shock when the Rams happily moved back seven slots to pick No. 44 while picking up an extra third-round pick in the process. All courtesy of the Buffalo Bills, who had their eye on East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones who, incidentally, the Rams were routinely tied to leading up to the draft.

      What is a surprise is who the Rams ultimately chose when their turn finally came around, although doing some sleuth work into the background of new head coach Sean McVay maybe it isn't any big surprise at all.

      The Rams decided on South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett, who projects as a move-around weapon that McVay can utilize in his tight end-centric West Coast passing attack.

      Green was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award presented to the top tight end in college football and was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection after finishing with 49 catches for 717 yards.

      The 6-foot-4, 239-pounder only played one season of high school football - as a senior - before playing two years in junior college. He played one season at Alabama-Birmingham, but when the Jaguars canceled their football program he ended up at South Alabama.

      And blossomed.

      The Rams obviously noticed, inviting him to Los Angeles as one of the 30 players teams are allowed to bring to their facility.

      And while their primary need coming into the draft was wide receiver, in Green they get a weapon that projects as an ideal fit in McVay's offense.

      McVay spent the last three years as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator and helped groom Jordan Reed into a Pro Bowl tight end. Over the last three years, Reed has 203 catches for 2,103 yards and 17 touchdowns.

      Everett is hopeful he can help deliver that kind of production.

      And then some.

      "I think I bring the complete package of a tight end," he said. "Definitely a vertical threat first, but also being a willing blocker in the run game - just being able to create that mismatch at any point of time in the game."

      He is looking forward to making the move west.

      I'm happy, I'm excited right now. I just can't wait to get out to Los Angeles," he said. "And help the Rams win games and do whatever is asked of me to do - whether it be special teams, or receiver, or tight end, it doesn't matter. I just want to contribute to the organization and help them win games."

      The Rams added another piece to McVay's offense early in the third round by selecting highly productive Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who finished his college career with 428 catches for 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns.

      "I've played against some very good football players and I have played against some very good teams, as well, and I've been able to produce in both situations," Kupp said. "I believe I prepared to be the best when I step on the field and that's not going to change moving up to the NFL. I pride myself on that preparation and what it takes to be great. If people want to question that, that's fine. I'm just going to go and do what I do and I believe that that opinion will change soon."

      The Rams concluded their first day by selecting Boston College safety John Johnson.

  • Vikings confident in RB Cook
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Trader Rick Spielman, who entered this draft with 16 draft-day trades in five years as Minnesota Vikings general manager, sat patiently for as long as he could before swinging a deal with Cincinnati to go after free-falling Florida State running back Dalvin Cook with the ninth pick of the second round.

    • "We started making calls (Thursday night) once we knew he was going to slide to the second day," said Spielman, who traded one of his two fourth-round picks (128th overall) to the Bengals to move up seven spots to take Cook 41st overall. "As he kept coming down the board, we felt we had to get aggressive because he wasn't going to last, and was too talented of a player not to take a swing on. We got great value where we got him."

      The Vikings went into the draft without a first-round pick because of last year's Sam Bradford trade. They needed a right guard and, of course, another running back after releasing 32-year-old Adrian Peterson and allowing Matt Asiata to leave via free agency. The Vikings signed former Raider Latavius Murray in free agency, but wanted another playmaker to share the load and take over as the lead back in a few years.

      With his backfield set, Spielman turned his attention to the offensive line in the third round. He traded a fifth-round pick to the Jets to move from 79th overall to 70th. He passed on Indiana guard Dan Feeney, considered a possibility for the Vikings in the second round, to take Ohio State center Pat Elflein. Elflein won the Rimington Award as the nation's best center last season, but played more games at guard in his career as a Buckeye.

      Elflein will either join the wide-open competition at right guard, where his top competition would be Jeremiah Sirles, or stay at center as versatile veteran Joe Berger moves to right guard.

      Later in the third round, Spielman traded down from the 86th pick, getting Kansas City's compensatory third-round pick (104th) and picks in the fourth and seventh rounds. Then he traded out of the third round, getting a fourth-rounder (109) and a seventh-rounder from San Francisco.

      The Cook pick also improved the offensive line, which was injury-riddled and awful last season as the Vikings finished last in the league in average yards rushing per game (75.3) and per carry (3.17). He's a three-down back who compiled 4,464 yards rushing, a 6.5-yard average and 46 touchdowns in three years at Florida State.

      He was a consensus first-round pick who tumbled mainly because of concerns about the group of friends he associates with off the field in South Florida. Cook reportedly assured teams that he won't be running with the questionable crowd now that he's in the NFL.

      The Vikings vetted Cook thoroughly during the draft process. Friday, just to be sure, Spielman said he spoke with Cook for another 45 minutes on the phone before the second round began.

      "I think this kid has really, really matured over the last couple of years, and we have no concerns at all about him being a Minnesota Viking," Spielman said.

      Asked how the Vikings could be convinced that Cook will leave all those bad influences behind him as he heads for Minnesota, Spielman said, "He told me, and I believed him. I think he has probably woken up a little bit about how important football is, and I truly believe that he is on a mission coming up here and is going to be a great football player for us. And I do believe, honestly, that we do trust him and that he will do all the right things as well."

  • Trade back still gets Packers player they wanted
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    GREEN BAY -- The Green Bay Packers took an additional 20 hours to make their first selection in this year's NFL Draft, but the shared sentiment in the Lambeau Field draft room Friday night was the long wait was worth it.

    • Green Bay's decision-makers still landed the player they coveted, taking Washington cornerback Kevin King to start the second day of the draft with an eye on fixing an atrocious pass defense.

      "He was the guy that we really like," said Eliot Wolf, the team's director of football operations.

      So much that general manager Ted Thompson kept the first choice in Round 2 (No. 33 overall) after taking several inquiries from other teams about trading back one more time. Toward the end of the first round late Thursday night, the Packers moved out of the 29th spot in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.

      Green Bay acquired Cleveland's leadoff spot in the second round and also a fourth-round selection.

      "No one really came and gave us (in a trade offer) what we felt was good value, and it might have cost us a player," Wolf said. "And, Kevin was the guy that we didn't want to lose."

      The addition of the 6-foot-3, 200-pound King, whom the team considered picking at No. 29, was more than just taking the best player available. The Packers addressed what many considered to be their biggest offseason need, doubling up in the process later in the second round with hybrid defensive back Josh Jones from North Carolina State.

      "There's high expectations for these two guys, no doubt about it," said Brian Gutekunst, Green Bay's director of player personnel.

      King is expected to start right away on a Green Bay defense that ranked second from the bottom in the league against the pass in 2016. After allowing more than 4,600 passing yards in the regular season, the Packers imploded one last time by giving up 392 yards and four touchdowns to quarterback Matt Ryan in the Atlanta Falcons' 44-21 NFC Championship rout three months ago.

      All-Pro receiver Julio Jones' domination of a helpless group of defensive backs with nine receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns in that game surely played a part in the Packers' preference for King.

      As the tallest cornerback among a deep cast of top prospects at the position in this year's draft, King already is looking forward to matching up with the 6-foot-3 Jones when the Packers return to Atlanta in Week 2 next season.

      "I'm definitely up to it," King said.

      His uncanny combination of size, length (32-inch arms), speed (4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine) and playmaking exploits (five interceptions and 23 pass breakups the last two seasons after moving from safety) could make King the Packers' top shutdown corner from the get-go.

      They are unsettled at the top of the depth chart after releasing oft-injured No. 1 cornerback Sam Shields in February, allowing the versatile Micah Hyde to sign with the Buffalo Bills in free agency and still waiting on the development of a young group of returnees. Among those are Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, the team's underachieving first- and second-round draft picks in 2015.

      The re-signing of Davon House, a part-time starter in Green Bay from 2011-14 before he moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars the last two seasons, had been the team's only notable acquisition for the secondary.

      That all changed in less than three hours Friday night with the alluring additions of King and Jones, who was taken at No. 61. The latter is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound safety with as much quickness (4.41 seconds in the 40) as the former.

      "Definitely taller ... and maybe a little faster," Gutekunst said about the upgrades made to the back end of the defense.

      "I think you're always trying to get faster," Thompson echoed. "I don't think it's a negative thing. Football is about explosiveness, speed, athletic ability. This is not our grandfathers' football that we're playing at this day and age. Everybody's fast, everybody's explosive, and I think that's what we're trying to get at."

      A productive and no-less-confident Jones just might make Packers fans easily forget about Hyde, who was defensive coordinator Dom Capers' designated rover for much of the last four seasons.

      "I'm very versatile," Jones said. "I have great size to play in the box, great speed to play back deep."

      Jones had eight interceptions in three years with North Carolina State and led the Wolfpack with 109 tackles last season.

      The double-up in the second round as well as the selection of Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams in the third round (No. 93) after sitting out the first night was just the start Thompson wanted for Green Bay's draft.

      "We had talked about it (Thursday), we wanted to add a little meat to shoring up the roster and that sort of thing," said Thompson, explaining what went into the decision to part with the first-round pick. "We felt like it was important to get a little more oomph out of it."

      Thompson traded out of the first round for only the second time in his 13 years of leading the Green Bay draft room. The swap with the Browns came with little drop-off and an additional pick.

      "The (draft) board held up pretty strong, so, yeah, we felt pretty good about it," Thompson said.

      Green Bay merely had to move back four spots to No. 33, where King was waiting to be taken while still on site at the draft in Philadelphia on Friday.

      The Packers also picked up the Browns' fourth-round spot at No. 108, which incidentally will be the first selection of the draft Saturday. Green Bay is slated to have six picks on the final day.

      The only other time the Packers dropped out of the first round on Thompson's watch came in 2008. They moved back six spots from No. 30 and selected wide receiver Jordy Nelson early in the second round in a trade with the New York Jets.

      "I think it's very good strategy wise," Thompson said Thursday about moving into a coveted position at the outset of Round 2 this year. "We know where we're at and what we're going to do."

  • Bengals roll dice on RB Mixon
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon waited 47 picks in the 2017 draft before the Cincinnati Bengals called to offer him a fulltime job.

    • Mixon was the 48th overall pick in the draft, a spot that doesn't match his talent.

      But drafting Mixon is much more than a football decision.

      Mixon punched a female student at Oklahoma and knocked her unconscious, breaking bones in her face. The incident was captured on video and released publicly.

      Because of off-field transgressions, including the physical assault and berating a parking meter employee in Norman, Okla., Mixon was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

      Mixon, who was second in the FBS in yards from scrimmage per game in 2016 with 193, could be groomed to replace Jeremy Hill. The Bengals' current starting running back was drafted out of LSU despite off-field concerns. Hill is a free agent after the 2017 season.

      Mixon was impressive at his pro day and settled out of court with the victim in the video, Amelia Molitor, an Oklahoma student.

      Molitor had accused Mixon of intentional infliction of emotional stress.

      "I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end. Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives," Molitor's statement read. "From our private discussions, I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work toward helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances.

      "I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did."

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Browns get their QB on Day 2
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    Thirty-three picks into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers finally made their first selection, tapping Washington cornerback Kevin King on Friday night in Philadelphia.

    • At No. 52, the Cleveland Browns ended the long wait for Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer. A gifted athlete with the size and arm to be special, Kizer's consistency was an issue and one anonymous scout labeled him a "pure millennial" in the days before the draft. The Browns are planning an open competition at quarterback involving Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Brock Osweiler.

      Joining Kizer in Cleveland: Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, the first pick of the third round (65).

      Jacksonville traded up one spot to select Alabama junior offensive tackle Cam Robinson 34th, followed by the Seattle Seahawks making Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell their initial pick in this draft. Seattle moved down twice in the first round Thursday and stockpiled six total picks in the second and third rounds.

      With the 41st overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings found a potential replacement for Adrian Peterson in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Cook faced scrutiny for his medical (shoulder, hamstring) and character issues. But the three-down back had 4,464 rushing yards for the Seminoles and draws comparisons to former Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James. Minnesota previously signed Latavius Murray in free agency to offset Peterson's loss.

      Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, downgraded because of a video showing him knocking out a female student and breaking bones in her face, was picked 48th by the Cincinnati Bengals. Mixon set a school record with 2,331 all-purpose yards in 2016.

      King's secondary teammate with the Huskies, safety Budda Baker, joined Packers division rival Arizona. The Cardinals traded with the Chicago Bears to acquire the 36th pick to ensure landing the speedy Baker, who some have compared to Ronde Barber because of his flexibility as a cornerback/safety/nickelback option. Injured UW cornerback Sidney Jones, recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, was selected 43rd by the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones, a junior, started 27 games the past two seasons but was injured at his pro day workout.

      Florida safety Marcus Maye, a physical safety who ran 4.51 at his pro day, gave the New York Jets a pair of missiles on the back end of their defense. The Jets drafted LSU's Jamal Adams sixth overall on Thursday. Maye's teammate with the Gators, Quincy Wilson, was the 46th pick, joining the Indianapolis Colts.

      Carolina doubled down on playmakers in the second round following the selection of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (eighth overall). Ohio State wide receiver-running back Curtis Samuel (40th overall) ran a 4.31 40-yard dash and has dynamic playmaking skills. The Panthers ended the second round adding offensive tackle Taylor Moton (64th) from Western Michigan.

      Offensive guard Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky), who had 51 career starts, went to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 38 one pick after wide receiver Zay Jones (East Carolina) was selected by the Buffalo Bills.

      Continuing a defensive overhaul, Utah safety Marcus Williams (11 career interceptions) could start instantly for the New Orleans Saints.

      South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett (44th, Los Angeles Rams) and Ashland tight end Adam Shaheen (Bears) were selected in succession. Shaheen had 16 touchdowns, a Division II record for tight ends, in 2016 and is an impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 278 pounds, earning the nickname "Baby Gronk," an homage to Patriots All-Pro Rob Gronkowski.

      Super Bowl champion New England made its first selection at No. 83, adding Youngstown State pass rusher Derek Rivers, who set the school record with 41 career sacks. The Patriots moved up in a deal with the Lions and with the 85th pick selected Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia.

      The New York Giants, who attempted to move up to select Patrick Mahomes II in the first round, waited until the third round to snag Cal quarterback Davis Webb (87th overall), who transferred from Lubbock after losing the Texas Tech job to Mahomes.

      Four Michigan players, including cornerback Jourdan Lewis, were drafted Friday. Lewis went to the Cowboys 92nd and Wolverines safety Delano Hill was chosen by the Seahawks 95th to establish a new record for total defensive backs drafted in the first three rounds. Seattle took cornerback Shaquill Griffin (UCF) 90th.

  • Packers take CB King with first selection of second round
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    Thirty-three picks into the 2017 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers finally made their first selection, tapping Washington cornerback Kevin King on Friday night in Philadelphia.

    • The only player remaining in the draft green room, King said, "I came here to walk the stage, get my hat, have my mom and dad with me on the red carpet."

      King is a massive cornerback at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.3 range at the scouting combine.

      Green Bay was 31st in pass defense last season and received high interest in the No. 33 pick. General manager Ted Thompson opted to stay put this time and add King to a depth-deprived secondary.

      The Packers received the first pick of the second round in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, who moved up to No. 29 to select Miami (Fla.) tight end David Njoku on Thursday.

  • NFL notebook: Goodell says marijuana addictive, unsafe for players
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may be willing to consider allowing players to use marijuana for medical reasons, but he remains strongly against the banned drug for recreational use.

    • Goodell said Friday morning on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" radio show that he continues to believe marijuana has an "addictive nature" and likely won't be cleared by the NFL anytime soon as a pain-relief alternative.

      "I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say.

      "It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road."

      Goodell acknowledged the league will continue to evaluate whether marijuana can be used at some point for medical reasons.

      --The New England Patriots turned down another inquiry from the Cleveland Browns about a trade involving backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

      The Browns inquired Thursday night during the NFL Draft about acquiring the 25-year-old Garoppolo and were told once again the Patriots were not interested, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      As the opening of draft night wore on, the Browns watched three top quarterback prospects go off the board in the first 12 picks as three teams traded up for a quarterback in the first round.

      The Chicago Bears (No. 2, Mitch Trubisky), Kansas City Chiefs (No. 10, Patrick Mahomes II) and Houston Texans (No. 12, Deshaun Watson) took quarterbacks, leaving the Browns still searching for one.

      --Tight end Gary Barnidge was informed by the Browns he will be released.

      Barnidge, 31, signed a three-year extension worth more than $12 million prior to last season but became expendable Thursday when the Browns landed Miami (Fla.) tight end David Njoku.

      "I want to thank the Cleveland Browns for giving me my opportunity and looking forward to seeing the change. Time for the next step," Barnidge said via Twitter.

      Njoku was the 29th pick in the first round on Thursday. Barnidge had a 1,000-yard season with nine touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2015.

      -- From one NFL star to another, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is asking Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown to treat his little brother, first-round pick T.J. Watt, like any other rookie.

      T.J. Watt, an outside linebacker out of Wisconsin, was taken by the Steelers with the 30th overall pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft, joining older brothers J.J. and Derek in the NFL.

      The 22-year-old Watt is the first Wisconsin defender selected in the first round since J.J. went 11th overall to Houston in 2011.

      The Texans' All-Pro defensive end said he texted Brown -- they were teammates at Central Michigan before Watt transferred to Wisconsin -- and offered some ideas.

      --The Bears pulled off the most stunning move of Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft by trading up for Trubisky.

      Apparently, the plan to target the North Carolina quarterback was news to coach John Fox as well.

      According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Bears general manager Ryan Pace kept his intentions to himself and didn't notify Fox until shortly before the draft began.

      Pace put forth a different spin when meeting with reporters shortly after the Bears traded two 2017 picks (a third and a fourth) and a 2018 third-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers to move up just one spot.

      "John and I are arm-and-arm in all these decisions. So we talked about this thoroughly, and we're connected on this," Pace told reporters. "John is just as excited as I am. So when you have an opportunity to get a quarterback of this caliber, you can't pass on it. So we're good."

  • Fox reportedly unaware of Bears' plan to draft Trubisky
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    The Chicago Bears pulled off the most stunning move of Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft by trading up for the No. 2 overall pick to select Mitchell Trubisky.

    • Apparently, the plan to target the North Carolina quarterback was news to coach John Fox as well.

      According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Bears general manager Ryan Pace kept his intentions to himself and didn't notify Fox until shortly before the draft began.

      Pace put forth a different spin when meeting with reporters shortly after the Bears traded two 2017 picks (a third and a fourth) and a 2018 third-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers to move up just one spot.

      "John and I are arm-and-arm in all these decisions. So we talked about this thoroughly, and we're connected on this," Pace told reporters. "John is just as excited as I am. So when you have an opportunity to get a quarterback of this caliber, you can't pass on it. So we're good."

      In fact, Trubisky also had no clue the Bears were interested in his services. He said he met with the team at the NFL Combine and again at North Carolina's Pro Day. Otherwise, there was no contact.

      "It was just pretty much silence," Trubisky said. "That's why I'm surprised to hear my name called because we didn't have a lot of contact. I just think they ... were impressed with me at the combine and my workout.

      "But yeah, I haven't had a whole lot of contact with them so that makes it so much more exciting."

      Trubisky started just one season at North Carolina but set school single-season records for passing yardage (3,748) and touchdown passes (30) last season. He also completed 68 percent of his passes and was intercepted just six times.

      Still, the Bears didn't seem to be a possible landing spot after free agent Mike Glennon received a three-year, $45 million deal to replace Jay Cutler as the franchise's quarterback.

      Pace's view was that adding a talent like Trubisky was too good to pass up.

      "If we want to be great, you just can't sit on your hands," Pace said. "There are times when you've got to be aggressive, and when you have conviction on a guy, you can't sit on your hands.

      "I just don't want to be average around here -- I want to be great. And these are the moves you have to make."

  • Browns turned out by Patriots in pursuit of Garoppolo
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    The New England Patriots turned down another inquiry from the Cleveland Browns about a trade involving backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

    • The Browns inquired Thursday night during the NFL Draft about acquiring the 25-year-old Garoppolo and were told once again the Patriots were not interested, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      As the opening of draft night wore on, the Browns watched three top quarterback prospects go off the board in the first 12 picks as three teams traded up for a quarterback in the first round.

      The Chicago Bears (No. 2, Mitch Trubisky), Kansas City Chiefs (No. 10, Patrick Mahomes II) and Houston Texans (No. 12, Deshaun Watson) took quarterbacks, leaving the Browns still searching for one.

      "Obviously, it didn't happen (Thursday), but it's not like we didn't try, I can guarantee you that," Browns coach Hue Jackson said Thursday night.

      The Browns will get another chance to draft one of the remaining quarterback prospects at No. 52 on Friday night.

      Garoppolo started the Patriots' first two games of 2016 as Tom Brady served a four-game suspension as part of the Deflategate penalties.

      In those two games, Garoppolo completed over 71 percent of his passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He injured his right throwing shoulder late in the second quarter of his second start, and then missed the team's next two games before returning to his backup role for the rest of the season.

      Garoppolo, a 2014 second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois, is entering the final year of his rookie contract with a base salary of $820,077.

      Cody Kessler, a 2016 third-round pick out of USC, is currently projected as the Browns' starting quarterback.

      In March, the Browns acquired Brock Osweiler in a surprise trade with the Houston Texans, but the quarterback's status with the team remains in limbo.

      The Browns acquired Osweiler and draft picks by taking Osweiler's $16 million guaranteed contract off the Texans' books. Houston signed Osweiler to a four-year contract worth $72 million with $37 million guaranteed last year.

      After the trade, all signs indicated Osweiler would either be traded again or released before the 2017 season.

  • J.J. Watt encourages Brown to haze his little brother
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    From one NFL star to another, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is asking Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown to treat his little brother, first-round pick T.J. Watt, like any other rookie.

    • T.J. Watt, an outside linebacker out of Wisconsin, was taken by the Steelers with the 30th overall pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft, joining older brothers J.J. and Derek in the NFL.

      The 22-year-old Watt is the first Wisconsin defender selected in the first round since J.J. went 11th overall to Houston in 2011.

      The Texans' All-Pro defensive end said he texted Brown -- they were teammates at Central Michigan before Watt transferred to Wisconsin -- and offered some ideas.

      "Look over my brother, make sure to haze him a little extra for me," Watt told ESPN on Friday about his exchange with Brown.

      In his first full season as a defensive starter, T.J. Watt recorded 15.5 tackles for loss, including 11.5 sacks, in 2016 for the Badgers and earned second-team All-American honors.

      The Texans will host the Steelers on Christmas Day, which will provide the brothers a chance to play in the same game for the first time.

      "I played with him in the backyard a bunch, I've seen him play a bunch, we've never been on the same field in full uniforms competitively before," T.J. Watt said of J.J. on Thursday night on a conference call with Pittsburgh media. "I think that will be really cool and a weird day for me.

      "He has such good instincts, such a good nose for the ball -- he's a natural playmaker. He's always been a natural athlete. He's always been a little bit more smooth (an athlete) than I was. He can make some moves and has natural abilities that didn't necessarily come as easily as it comes to me. But I don't want to say natural because I've seen the work. He plays the game with so much joy and it's fun to watch."

      After the younger brother was taken by the Steelers, J.J. Watt tweeted about the Dec. 25 game: "Christmas Day is gonna be fun @_TJWatt!"

      The Watt brothers have a close relationship, 28-year-old J.J. said.

      "We realize we can use it to each other's advantage, appreciate the competition and the fun that we bring in each other's lives," J.J. Watt said. "It's a blast to watch each other grow."

      Derek Watt, a 24-year-old fullback, appeared in all 16 games last season with the San Diego Chargers.

      "Congrats @_TJWatt!!! #ProudOlderBrother," Derek Watt tweeted Thursday night.

  • Browns to release TE Barnidge
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    Tight end Gary Barnidge was informed by the Cleveland Browns he will be released.

    • Barnidge, 31, signed a three-year extension worth more than $12 million prior to last season but became expendable Thursday when the Browns landed Miami (Fla.) tight end David Njoku.

      "I want to thank the Cleveland Browns for giving me my opportunity and looking forward to seeing the change. Time for the next step," Barnidge said via Twitter.

      Njoku was the 29th pick in the first round on Thursday.

      Barnidge had a 1,000-yard season with nine touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2015.

      A fifth-round pick in 2008, Barnidge was drafted by the Carolina Panthers and joined the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in March 2013.

      Barnidge has 178 career receptions with 13 touchdowns.

  • Bills acquire picks and cornerback they targeted
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A franchise that has become known for doing things on draft day that leave its fans befuddled finally made a move Thursday in the first round that made a whole lot of sense.

    • Knowing this was a draft deep at cornerback, the Buffalo Bills leveraged their No. 10 overall pick in a trade down with Kansas City, swapping places with the Chiefs at No. 27, and still landed LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White, a four-year starter who should be able to come right in and compete for a starting position.

      Just as important, the Bills acquired the Chiefs' third-round pick in this draft, No. 91 overall, and their first-round pick in 2018, the plum nugget of the deal.

      "We really felt the value we were looking at, very rarely can you do that when you can cash that in with a 2018 first-round pick and get a third-rounder on top of that, it was a very unique situation for us," head coach Sean McDermott said of the trade. "We felt good about that, and we felt good about the pick with Tre'Davious White. Solid person, solid football player, we felt like if we could get him it would be a good pick for us and there he was at 27."

      The 5-foot-11, 193-pound White isn't considered a very physical player, but he is said to be a strong cover corner and he played at a school that is known for producing quality defensive backs. Last season, he was a first-team Walter Camp All-America and All-SEC selection when he made 34 tackles, two interceptions, and a team-high 14 pass breakups, which was eighth-best in the FBS.

      "He's not flashy, he's not sexy, but he's solid," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

      One of the reasons the Bills liked White is he can play both outside and in the slot. The team lost starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore and nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman in free agency, so there was a gaping hole in the secondary. It wouldn't be surprising if the Bills pick another corner at some point in this draft.

      "He's versatile, plays inside, outside, and he's also a returner so there's special teams value, so we feel good about it," McDermott said of White.

      Owner Terry Pegula made it a point when he addressed the media last week after he fired Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma, his general manager and coach of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, that character and discipline were going to become buzz words around both organizations. White, who was the valedictorian of his high school class and has already earned his degree in sports administration from LSU, is a player who apparently checked those boxes in all the background checks and in the face-to-face meeting he had with team executives at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in March.

      "We want to know what we're getting," said McDermott. "There's a lot of unknowns in the draft and life in general, so you try to close that gap as much as you can. Certainly, with the character that Tre'Davious White has, we felt good about the person off the field.

      "I feel good about it, but not satisfied. Every waking hour, our coaches and personnel (staff), Terry and Kim (Pegula), this is what we live and breathe. Every minute we're up at that board, I'm looking at what we can do next to get better. I feel like our homework and research has paid off. You feel good when your hard work pays off. I'll be able to sleep pretty well tonight."

  • Falcons land pass rusher McKinley to play opposite Beasley
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    FLOWERY BRANCH -- For the 20th time since Thomas Dimitroff became the Atlanta Falcons general manager, the team made a trade in the draft to land a targeted player.

    • This time, the Falcons moved up five spots via a trade with Seattle, in order to select UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley with the 26th overall pick on Thursday.

      The Falcons gave up this year's third- (95th overall) and seventh-round (249th overall) picks.

      McKinley is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end/linebacker.

      "We're excited about having him on board," Dimitroff said.

      The Falcons hope to use him opposite outside linebacker Vic Beasley, who led the league with 15.5 sacks last season.

      "We're excited to add another guy to our defense who has the run and hit factor in full effect," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. "He has the initial quickness that we look for. He had one of our highest (competitive toughness) grades. We're thrilled to add a defensive player of this caliber to our defensive front."

      There is some concern over a recent shoulder surgery. He suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder and a torn socket. At the Combine, McKinley said the recovery was four to six months. He had surgery in early March.

      However, the Falcons felt comfortable about the surgery, but didn't want to put a firm timetable on his return.

      "We didn't have a problem with that," Dimitroff said. "We knew that he was healing well. He's in a good situation. Our (doctors) are good with it. I understand that anytime you have a situation like that, you need to take care of it. His choice was, along with his representation was that he was going to take care of it.

      "Hopefully, he's ready to go much sooner rather than later. We have a really good program here and we're hoping that he's going to be up and ready to go soon."

      McKinley gave an emotional speech at the draft. He was emotional about being selected and let loose with a couple of expletives on live television.

      He promised his ailing grandmother that he would make it to the NFL and shortly after that she died.

      Myrtle Collins, his grandmother, had raised him as her own son. She used to gather recyclable cans to help pay the rent. She kept McKinley from getting involved in the gangs and drugs in a tough northern California neighborhood. They'd watch wrestling matches together, and her favorite wrestler was Booker T.

      "It means everything," McKinley said. "This is my grandma Myrtle Collins (points to her picture). I made a promise to her before she passed away which was that I was going to get out of ... Richmond, California, go Division I and live my dream which is to play in the NFL. About 30 seconds later, she closed her eyes and passed away."

      The promise has stayed with McKinley.

      "That promise means everything to me," McKinley said. "Without that promise I probably wouldn't be talking to you guys right now. That's the honest truth. Where I come from, a lot of guys don't make it this far. A lot of guys don't make it through middle school without getting killed or going to jail or getting into that gang life.

      "For me, my grandmother, was the reason why I'd stay out of that."

      Instead of running the streets, McKinley stayed inside the house.

      "We'd watch wrestling all day," McKinley said. "Booker T was her favorite wrestler. He actually hit me up on Twitter and just told me to 'Make your grandma proud. Good luck with everything. Keep doing it for her.' Him doing that meant a lot because he meant a lot to me and her. That's the reason why I never got in trouble."

      McKinley was the third-rated edge rusher in the draft behind Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett by Dane Brugler's 2017 NFL draft guide. Garrett went No. 1 to Cleveland, and Barnett was selected 14th by the Eagles.

      McKinley played in 34 games for the Bruins and made 23 starts. He finished his career with 17 sacks. He had 10 sacks last season while playing for former Falcons head coach Jim Mora.

      Also, Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich helped to recruit McKinley to UCLA.

      "He had a chance to help coach him for one season," Quinn said. "He spoke of his intensity, and for his passion for playing ... He is somebody that we've watched for a long time."

  • Run on offense sends pass rusher to Eagles
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    PHILADELPHIA -- Despite entering the draft with a ton of defensive needs, including cornerback, edge rusher and linebacker, the suspicion was that the Philadelphia Eagles would add one more offensive chess piece around their young quarterback, Carson Wentz, in Thursday night's first round before turning their attention to coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense.

    • But the early run on offensive players, particularly the top three wide receivers going among the first three picks, and the selection of running back Christian McCaffrey by the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 pretty much ended that.

      So, the Eagles wound up going defense and taking Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. It wasn't a sexy pick, but it was a necessary one. The pass rush is the key to Schwartz's wide-nine defensive scheme, and the Eagles' wasn't good enough last season.

      Six games into the season, they were first in sacks per pass play and third in total sacks (20). But they ended up finishing in the middle of the pack in both categories. They had just 14 sacks in their final 10 games, seven of which they lost.

      Barnett should help. He isn't an athletic freak like defensive end Myles Garrett, who was the first pick in the draft. He's more of an effort guy. But he broke Reggie White's all-time sack record at Tennessee.

      "It's easy to watch Derek (on tape) and picture what he'd do in (Schwartz's) scheme," executive vice-president of football operations Howie Roseman said.

      Vice-president of player personnel Joe Douglas, who spent 16 years as a scout with the Baltimore Ravens, sees a lot of Terrell Suggs in Barnett.

      "Neither tested outrageously at the Combine or Pro Day," Douglas said. "But both are highly productive players, high toughness, great people. Again, his production is unmatched, breaking a Hall of Fame player's record at Tennessee."

      Barnett will compete for playing time with the Eagles' other edge rushers - Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and 32-year-old Chris Long, who signed with the Eagles last month. Schwartz likes to rotate eight players up front.

      "What Derek is highly proficient at is at the top of his rush," Douglas said. "So when he gets to the top, he has excellent ankle flexion, excellent ability to bend at the top and finish.

      "He can really close. And he uses a variety of moves. He uses a speed rush. He uses power. He can go speed to power on people. So, you're getting a guy that knows how to finish when he gets to the top of the rush."

  • Goodell: Marijuana addictive, unsafe for players
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may be willing to consider allowing players to use marijuana for medical reasons, but he remains strongly against the banned drug for recreational use.

    • Goodell said Friday morning on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" radio show that he continues to believe marijuana has an "addictive nature" and likely won't be cleared by the NFL anytime soon as a pain-relief alternative.

      "I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say.

      "It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road."

      Goodell acknowledged the league will continue to evaluate whether marijuana can be used at some point for medical reasons.

      "We look at it from a medical standpoint," Goodell said on ESPN Radio. "So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that. But we've been studying that through our advisers.

      "To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that."

      A total of 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and seven states allow the substance for recreational use.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Bold predictions for Day 2
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft produced plenty of surprises, including eight of the first 12 picks being spent on skill-position players -- more than in any year since the turn of the century.

    • Predicting that would occur entering the first round would have been bold, indeed, given that the class of 2017 has been universally lauded as loaded with top prospects on defense, not offense.

      What big storylines should you anticipate on Friday? Here are five bold predictions:

      5. Buckeyes' Curtis Samuel next receiver off the board

      Perhaps the biggest surprise of the first day was the fact that three receivers -- each coming off significant injuries -- were among the first nine players drafted. The Buckeyes' 5-foot-11, 196-pound Samuel is as dynamic an athlete as any of them and is not likely to be unclaimed for long. The knock on Samuel -- much like arch-nemesis Jabrill Peppers from Michigan (and now a member of the Cleveland Browns) -- was that he might be a player without a true position in the NFL, as he bounced back and forth between wide receiver and running back with the Buckeyes. While not as polished as East Carolina's Zay Jones, as big as Southern California's JuJu Smith-Schuster or as polished as Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp, Samuel possesses agility and mercurial speed (4.31 at the Indianapolis Combine) that make him a mismatch nightmare.

      4. First-round talents left on the board won't last long

      Off-field or medical questions pushed running backs Dalvin Cook (Florida State) and Joe Mixon (Oklahoma), defensive tackle Malik McDowell (Michigan State), offensive tackle Cam Robinson (Alabama) and quarterback DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame) down the board, but each is among the prospects still available who clearly have first-round talent. Do not expect these players to last long on Friday. Either back would appear to be an intriguing fit in Green Bay's green and gold, especially given that the Packers allowed former second-round runner Eddie Lacy to leave in free agency. The Packers currently have the rights to the first pick, 33rd overall, on Friday.

      3. Seahawks will be busy

      Seattle entered the draft with four Day 2 picks, and they acquired two more Thursday after a pair of trade-downs took them out of the first round. Their six selections are double that of any other team, providing general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll an awful lot of flexibility to address a notoriously problematic offensive line and aging secondary while also having the luxury of gambling on potential difference-makers at other positions, should they choose to do so. Seattle's first pick is currently second overall on Friday, and they have their original second-round selection, No. 58 overall. The Seahawks have four picks in the third round (Nos. 90, 95, 102 and 106).

      2. Kizer to the Cardinals?

      Both Arizona general manager Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians spoke during the offseason about their interest in adding a young quarterback to groom behind veteran Carson Palmer. The strong-armed Kizer would seem like the perfect protege. With an immediate impact defender in former Temple star Haason Reddick already in fold after the first round, the Cardinals may feel that they can afford to gamble on a "luxury" pick at No. 45 overall.

      1. PSA: A run on defensive backs is in the forecast

      With all due respect to edge rushers and tight ends, many believe the most talented position in the 2017 draft is defensive back. That certainly is reflected on NFLDraftScout.com's best available, which currently lists six defensive backs among the 15 best available prospects, leading off with Washington's duo of cornerback Kevin King and safety Budda Baker (with injured Huskies cornerback Sidney Jones not far behind). Florida's talented trio -- Quincy Wilson, Marcus Maye and Teez Tabor -- also is expected to come off the board in Rounds 2 and 3.

      --Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed in partnership with The Sports Xchange and CBSSports.com.

  • Texans covet QB Watson's intangibles
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    HOUSTON -- Deshaun Watson has maintained a firm grip on the crucial moment for years, mastering the art of dead-eyed poise and concentration no matter what chaos unfolded around him at the line of scrimmage.

    • Watson has always wanted the football in his hands at pivotal times, displaying rare leadership and intangibles to go along with his skills and athleticism.

      Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney likened Watson's clutch nature and talents to NBA legend Michael Jordan.

      "I feel like I'm a confident player," Watson said after joining the Houston Texans with the 12th overall pick. "I feel like I can do things that a lot of people can't do. I have that leadership and confidence to spread throughout the team. I can get the job done whenever it's needed, especially in those pressure situations."

      The Texans coveted Watson's attributes enough that they mortgaged a lot to land the Clemson star quarterback in the first round, pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Browns as they swapped their 25th overall pick and next year's first-round selection.

      Watson is coming back to Houston, a few weeks after his official visit with the defending AFC South champions.

      "It was surreal, man," Watson said during a conference call. "I just started crying and bawling out. It was amazing."

      Watson will undoubtedly be supremely motivated. Despite his accomplishments at the collegiate level -- defeating Alabama for the Tigers' first national championship in three decades, winning the Johnny Unitas and Manning awards while piling up 9,201 career passing yards, 83 touchdowns and just 29 interceptions with 1,744 rushing yards and 21 scores -- he was the third quarterback drafted overall.

      Watson was far more decorated than the quarterbacks who preceded him Thursday night: Chicago Bears second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky, a one-year starter for North Carolina, and Kansas City Chiefs 10th overall selection Patrick Mahomes, who played in a spread offense at Texas Tech. If Watson was fazed by going after Trubisky and Mahomes, he didn't let it show.

      "My emotions were good," Watson said. "I was having fun with the family, laughing and giggling."

      Now, Watson has the opportunity to prove whether his game will translate adeptly to the NFL and head coach Bill O'Brien's system. Watson will sign a fully guaranteed four-year, $13.9 million rookie contract that will include an $8.26 million signing bonus and a standard fifth-year team option.

      Watson's visit with the Texans went extremely well, drawing praise from O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith for his leadership skills and ability to quickly absorb information about a complex playbook.

      "I thought it was a big possibility," Watson said. "I knew they were very interested; but, with the draft having so much uncertainty, I didn't know what they were doing, if they were going offensive tackle or defense or quarterback."

      Watson engineered a dramatic national championship victory over the Crimson Tide, connecting with wide receiver Hunter Renfrow with a quick, decisive spiral for the winning touchdown pass in the final moments.

      Watson rose to the occasion once again, passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for an additional 43 yards and one score against Alabama. In consecutive national title games against Alabama, Watson combined for 825 passing yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.

      "He's got that winning gene," Smith said. "That leadership, it's infectious."

      However, Watson will have some adjustments to make at the NFL level.

      He operated primarily out of the shotgun formation at Clemson. He wasn't in a classic pro-style attack and had several predetermined reads and the advantages of a lot of talent around him, including big wide receiver Mike Williams.

      Watson threw 17 interceptions last season, frequently failing to recognize shifts in defensive schemes designed specifically to confuse him.

      "Just watch the film," Watson said of any doubters. "The film doesn't lie. The arm strength -- that speaks for itself. The Texans know the type of player and quarterback that I am."

      Tom Savage is the projected starter and Watson will be groomed behind him. The Texans also have veteran Brandon Weeden as a backup.

      "All I need to do is put my head down, don't say anything, learn from all the veterans, learn from Tom Savage, learn from Brandon Weeden and just play my role," Watson said. "Whatever my role is help the team win."

  • Run on offense helps Lions land Davis
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn watched anxiously as one offensive player after another went off the board in the first 10 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

    • Mitchell Trubisky. Leonard Fournette. Corey Davis.

      The Lions hoped to find defensive help at the top of the draft; and, as the offensive selections started piling up, Quinn knew he would be able to do just that.

      The Lions took Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 21st pick, filling arguably their biggest need on the roster.

      "Linebacker is a position that you normally don't have a large number of them on your draftable board just because in college football a lot of linebackers are undersized," Quinn said. "They're playing at 215, 220 pounds. So to get NFL-size linebackers with the speed and athleticism and all the stuff that goes into evaluating linebackers, he stood out."

      Davis should compete for a starting job immediately on a Lions defense that ranked 18th in the NFL last year and struggled to force turnovers with any regularity.

      He can play weak-side or middle linebacker and should eventually take over as play caller on a unit that also includes Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow and Antwione Williams.

      The Lions took Davis over Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster in part because of leadership and other intangible traits they liked.

      At Florida, Davis was a two-year starter who amassed 158 tackles the last two seasons despite missing four games because of a high ankle sprain.

      That injury kept him out of the combine, but he ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.60-second range and jumped 38.5 inches on his vertical at his March pro day. Had Davis taken part in the combine, his vertical jump would have ranked first among linebackers.

      Quinn said he was attracted to "the whole package" of Davis as a football player and said Davis' high football character helped to "kind of minimize risk" that's inherently part of the NFL draft.

      "He's a passionate football player," Quinn said. "He's got very good playing speed, very good tackler. Good blitzer. Good coverage player. This guy's a really well-rounded linebacker. As a freshman, he was the special teams player of the year for Florida when he was a backup linebacker, so he's got four-down value. I think he's a really well-rounded guy that has position versatility."

  • Redskins stunned to land local product Allen
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    The distance between Stone Bridge High School and Redskins Park is only four miles, but for Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen the journey to bridge that gap seemed endless.

    • The Washington Redskins watched dumbfounded Thursday night as Allen dropped down the draft board -- first out of the top five and then the top 10 and finally inching closer to them at pick No. 17. A run on quarterbacks and wide receivers and a sketchy medical evaluation of his surgically repaired shoulders pushed Allen much further down than anyone expected.

      The Redskins happily scooped the local product from Ashburn, Va., when their turn came to pick. Hundreds of people from Stone Bridge, including Allen's coach, are expected to welcome him home at FedEx Field on Saturday afternoon during a team draft party.

      "Really, never in a million years did we think (Allen) would be there at 17, but we're happy as heck he was," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "There was not a lot of debate in there. We put the card in and took a heck of a football player and a great person."

      Allen, who is 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, returned to Alabama for his senior season despite 12 sacks as a junior. He wasn't happy that scouts saw him as a second- or third-round pick, and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said he thought Allen could become a better run defender.

      That happened after a senior year in which Allen had 10.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He was unblockable at times, even against SEC opponents.

      The Redskins believe he can play 3-technique, 5-technique and even nose tackle -- versatility that gives them plenty of options. He improved his run-stopping ability at Alabama, but he is a big body who can get to the quarterback, too. Those players aren't easy to find, and Washington certainly doesn't have one on the roster right now.

      Allen insists his shoulders are fine. He has had surgery on both and doctors have told him arthritis will be an issue later in life. But on the football field, for now, Allen says he isn't hampered at all. The surgeries went well. Dr. James Andrews even gave his blessing. In the end, that's what allowed Allen to go home.

      "It's only something you read about in books," Allen said. "It doesn't even seem real. For me to be going back home to Washington, it's honestly just the biggest blessing I could have ever received."

  • 2017 NFL Draft: 10 takeaways from first round
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    If the first round is any indication, there will be plenty of surprises in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are NFLDraftScout's top 10 takeaways from the first 32 selections.

    • 10. Who needs defense or linemen?

      The skill position players dominated the first half of the draft. Perhaps sparked by the Chicago Bears' aggressive trade up one pick to land top-rated quarterback Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina, eight of the top 12 picks were spent on quarterbacks (three), wide receivers (three) or running backs (two). Before Thursday, the most skill-position players chosen among top 12 since 2000 was seven back in 2005. No QBs, wide receivers or running backs were selected over the final 20 picks of this year's first round.

      9. Speaking of those Bears and Trubisky ...

      The Bears paid a ransom to San Francisco to secure the rights to Trubisky, giving up selections third- and fourth-round picks this year as well as a third-rounder in the 2018 draft to select the gifted but inexperienced quarterback, especially given that the Bears signed veteran Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million deal just a couple of months ago. While Glennon's deal does have an opt-out after just one year, his contract includes $18.5 guaranteed. Between the guaranteed dollars and the draft capital given up, general manager Ryan Pace is essentially all in (or may be all out) based on how well Trubisky performs over the next year or two on a club with few weapons.

      8. Chiefs, Texans give up two first-round picks apiece for young QBs

      It did not take long for Kansas City and Houston to follow Chicago's lead and boldly trade up for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, respectively. The Chiefs had to give up two first-round picks (No. 27 overall this year and their top pick in 2018), as well as this year's third-round selection to move up 17 picks and land the strong-armed Mahomes. The Texas Tech product is a true gunslinger with a dramatically different style than incumbent starter Alex Smith. Meanwhile, the Texans surrendered their top pick this year (No. 25) and next year's first-round selection to move up 13 spots for Watson. The Clemson quarterback's dual-threat talents and knack for performing at his best under the brightest lights obviously appealed to Houston, a franchise with track record at quarterback that is spotty, at best.

      7. Three receivers in top nine?

      With all due respect to the quarterbacks, it was the three receivers getting selected among the first nine picks that was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. Many anticipated that the Tennessee Titans would add a pass-catcher with one of their two first-round selections, but selecting Corey Davis at No. 5 overall was a shocker, especially given that he had not been able to complete a full workout prior to the draft after undergoing postseason ankle surgery. Mike Williams has the body control and huge catch radius to quickly become a favorite for Philip Rivers, but No. 7 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers also seems rich. Finally, there were a number of teams contacted prior to the draft who felt that John Ross would slip out of the first round entirely, so his pick at No. 9 overall by Cincinnati caught many off guard, even if he is an ideal big-play complement to A.J. Green on offense and immediately improves the Bengals' return game.

      6. Special teams no longer an afterthought

      Everyone knows that many rookies will have to make their marks on special teams just to make an NFL roster, but that could be where several first-round picks succeed in 2017. Ross adds instant juice to Cincinnati's return game. Christian McCaffrey (No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers) and Adoree Jackson (the Titans' second selection of the first round at No. 18 overall) also figure to see action as return men.

      5. Raiders take another risk at cornerback with Gareon Conley

      Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie certainly does not lack for guts, especially when it comes to drafting cornerbacks. Four years after using the first pick of his tenure on DJ Hayden -- a talented cornerback with spooky medical concerns -- McKenzie used the No. 24 overall pick on Conley, who just a few days ago appeared destined for a dramatic draft day (and possible legal ramifications) due to disturbing sexual-assault allegations. It should be noted that Conley has not been charged with anything at this point, and he was voted a team captain as a junior at Ohio State. However, for a club already in danger of losing fans due to its plans to relocate to Las Vegas, adding Conley was a risky public relations move, even if he is quite talented.

      4. Alabama absent over top 15

      The Crimson Tide was on ebb throughout nearly the entire first half of the first round with cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Baltimore Ravens, No. 16 overall) surprisingly being selected over more highly touted former teammates Jonathan Allen (Washington Redskins, No. 17), O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay, No. 19) and Reuben Foster (San Francisco, No. 31). Durability concerns likely played a significant role in Allen and Foster slipping. Some clubs believe that Foster may need a second surgery on his right shoulder.

      3. Browns look like big winners ... at least on paper

      No one was more active (or potentially successful) on Day 1 than the Cleveland Browns, selecting consensus top-rated prospect Myles Garrett of Texas A&M as expected at No. 1 overall, former Michigan standout Jabrill Peppers at No. 25 and even jumping back into the first round to nab speedy tight end David Njoku of Miami (Fla.) at No. 29. The trio certainly looks impressive on paper, with Garrett expected to be an instant superstar off the edge in Gregg Williams highly aggressive defense, Peppers well-suited as the rover linebacker/safety so en vogue against today's diverse offensive alignments (think Deone Bucannon and Mark Barron), and Njoku offering a legitimate seam threat. Of course, if the Browns still need to address the quarterback position ...

      2. Quarter of the first round spent on pass rushers

      Quarterbacks, of course, play the most important position in football, but the rushers capable of striking fear into opposing passers rank a close second, a fact that was clearly demonstrated with a full 25 percent of the 32 picks invested Thursday going to rushers. Garrett is undeniably the most gifted of the bunch, but Charles Harris (Miami Dolphins, No. 22 overall), Takkarist McKinley (Atlanta Falcons, No. 26), Taco Charlton (Dallas Cowboys, No. 28) and T.J. Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 30) are each good fits, as well. They are very athletic, and they join clubs with enough talent already in place to allow the rookies to be complementary players initially as they grow into starring roles.

      1. Plenty of talent still on the board

      Scouts equate first-round picks with baseball sluggers swinging away for home runs; there are going to be some mammoth moonshots, and there are going to be ugly strikeouts as clubs gamble on elite athletes. Day 2 is where the draft really gets interesting as clubs like to fill needs with the many good players who perhaps lack elite traits but are perhaps more consistent. Expect the deepest positions in the draft -- edge rusher, defensive back (both cornerback and safety), tight end and running back -- to be well represented on Friday.

      --Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed in partnership with The Sports Xchange and CBSSports.com.