I don't really do draft grades, because I don't know what teams' draft boards look like.

Everyone argues that this team should have drafted that position, but we don't know what their board were like when they were on the clock. All I can do is go back through my evaluations and see which teams ended up with players who I had positive evaluations for. It doesn't mean I'm right, but it's based on what I've seen on film.

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With that, three teams ended up with a lot of players who I liked going into the draft:

New Orleans Saints

Based on my evaluations, I think the Saints had a very good draft. With just about every pick, they chose a prospect I was high on.

The first pick was offensive tackle Andrus Peat, who I thought was the best left tackle prospect in the draft right now. With proper development Florida's D.J. Humphries could be the best left tackle in this class, but today the best prospect is Peat.

I really like their second first-round pick, Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony. I think he could be a terrific NFL player. He's very athletic. In college he played fast and was decisive in his movements. He trusted what he saw and turned it loose. He showed the ability to blitz and cover as well. He could be a really good linebacker.

In the second round they got Washington pass rusher Hau'oli Kikaha, who I really like. The third-round pick of quarterback Garrett Grayson (my No. 3 quarterback in the class) made sense. From the minute I started watching Grayson I thought he was a Sean Payton player. That's a great fit for him.

I liked Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams, a good pick as a press-cover corner who struggles with inconsistency, but that's why he was a third-rounder. I also really liked outside lineabacker Davis Tull of Tennessee-Chattanooga on film. I also liked Georgia cornerback Damian Swann, their other fifth-round pick.

I don't know what the Saints' draft board looked like or if their draft went according to plan. All I know is they ended up with a lot of players who I really liked in my pre-draft film study.

Jacksonville Jaguars

I wrote extensively here before the draft how I thought Florida outside linebacker Dante Fowler was the best defensive prospect in the draft. So of course I liked their first-round pick.

As it turns out, I had positive evaluations on each of their first six picks.

They took running back T.J. Yeldon in the second round, and I think his running style and mentality are well suited to the NFL, with his intuitive feel to attack downhill with conviction and his ability to work effectively between the tackles. I think he's a laterally quicker and more explosive inside runner than Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.

I really like A.J. Cann, a guard from South Carolina and Jacksonville's third-round pick. They got Louisville safety James Sample in the fourth, and I was surprised that Florida State receiver Rashad Greene and Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett fell to them in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. I thought there was lot to like about Bennett as a rotational defensive tackle in a four-man defensive line, and that's a good find in the sixth round. Those are great value picks.

St. Louis Rams

I liked the Rams draft more because they have a clear plan and stuck to it in the draft. 

The Rams drafted with a specific purpose in mind. They want to be a power-running football team and play great defense behind that. Their entire draft followed that plan.

They drafted running back Todd Gurley (I thought he was a top-three prospect in the draft) and match him with Tre Mason, who I thought was the best back in last year's class. So they're set there. The selection of Gurley was clearly a pick where their plan and their draft board matched up. Their pick of quarterback Sean Mannion in the third round fits their plan; I think Mannion can only play in a system where the run game is the foundation relying heavily on play action. Then four of their first seven picks were offensive linemen who were all similar.

Rob Haverstein of Wisconsin might not have been a second-round pick on every team's board, but he fits what the Rams want to do. He is a a road-grading right tackle in the run game. If that’s the style you’re going to play, then he’s your guy.

Jamon Brown, at 323 pounds, was a tackle at Louisville but he'll play guard in the NFL. Iowa tackle Andrew Donnal, a 313-pound fourth-round pick, can play guard too. In the sixth round the Rams took Fresno State guard Cody Wichmann, who is not an athlete but a 315-pound mauler. He fits what they want to do.

The Rams told you in their draft how they want to play football. That's why I don't get into the criticisms like, "There were better players on the board!" Not to the Rams there weren't; their picks fit the exact style they want to play.

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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: May 5, 2015, 7:58 pm

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes & Leave A Review

The NFL draft is now fading in the rear-view mirror, and that means we can arbitrarily assign passing and failing grades without even seeing a down of football. Here to help us do that on Grandstanding, the Yahoo Sports podcast, is the same cat who helped us preview the draft: Frank Schwab, maestro of the Yahoo Sports NFL blog Shutdown Corner.

Click the play button above to get the podcast started. We discuss:

What it was like being on the ground at the draft and in "Draft Town," and why Kevin Kaduk hopes he never covers another one;

• How Jameis Winston set the template for future No. 1 picks, and the final word on those crab legs;

• Why the Titans may have spurned an entire draft's worth of picks and players just for Marcus Mariota;

• How the "character issues" guys that fell in the draft could end up faring for their new teams;

• Whether teams like the Packers and Saints are, indeed, drafting the replacements for their current icons.

• All this and more in a complete draft-wrapup package. Trust us, it's worth every penny you paid.

Thanks for listening to the Grandstanding podcast with Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk. Hit us up on Twitter (@kevinkaduk and @jaybusbee) Facebook (Kaduk here, Busbee here) or via the hashtag #grandstanding. See you next ep!

[Music by Chris Salmon and Tobin Summerfield]

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 5, 2015, 7:15 pm

It's Cinco de Mayo and Julian Edelman and Bill Belichick are ready to party.

Edelman, the New England Patriots' receiver whose wit and humor make him a great follow on social media, tweeted his message for the May 5 holiday:

#FiestaTyme #Cincodemayo pic.twitter.com/LwBLS2txGD

— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) May 5, 2015

That's hilarious.

Edelman doesn't have teammate Rob Gronkowski beat on antics and suit choices, but anyone who is willing to crack a joke at Belichick's expense is all right.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 5, 2015, 5:13 pm

The biggest knock on Breshad Perriman in college was dropping passes. But his first foul as an NFL draft pick was a dropped phone call.

The first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens has a chance to be an impact player right away, filling the deep-threat role of Torrey Smith, who left for the San Francisco 49ers via free agency.

But Perriman needs to earn some trust first, and he got off to an inauspicious start with his new team. He had just jumped on the phone with the man who called in the pick, GM Ozzie Newsome, and then his new head coach, John Harbaugh, when Perriman suffered his first drop of his pro career.

"Hey, congratulations!" Harbaugh said to his new receiver, apparently hearing nada on the other end. "Breshad? We got hung up on."

It could have been anything, but the Ravens — and certainly Joe Flacco — wants this to be the last "bad connection" excuse with his speedy new pass catcher.

After Harbaugh gets Perriman back on the line, the coach quipped: "I don't want this to be a habit or anything."

Funny stuff.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 5, 2015, 3:32 pm

The Houston Texans landed the best player in the NFL with the 11th pick of the draft four years ago, and most of their fans absolutely hated it.

Instant draft reaction might be the most inexact science (hey, have you read Shutdown Corner's draft grades yet?) but it also might be the funniest thing to look back on with hindsight. The Texans' Facebook post when the team drafted Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt has been making a comeback on social media four years after the fact (h/t to @NYJUpdates on Twitter) and knowing what we know now, the comments are hilarious.

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We've all been wrong about a player, but look at a couple of screenshots and the comments on a player who should have been the NFL's MVP last year:

(Facebook.com/HoustonTexans)
(Facebook.com/HoustonTexans)

Not all of the comments are negative (good on you, Tonya Ellison!) but the vast majority of fans' reaction when the Texans drafted J.J. freaking Watt ranged from "ehhhhh, maybe this might be decent" to "I'm never watching football again because of this no-good pick."

There were many, many, many more comments and they ran at about the same approval rate. Here are some other comments that followed on that draft day when the Texans took a potential Hall of Famer with the 11th pick: 

"Uh Prince Amakamara?"

"really?? wtf we need a strong safety's and DB's!!! why not Prince?!?!?!"

"Not the right pick. Rick Smith needs to be fired."

"WTF!!!"

"Thanks for the helping the secondary jerks"

"Smh.."

"Boooooooooo! What a waste of a pick!!!!"

"WWWWTTTTTTFFFFFF?!?!"

"What about nick fairly. Oh prince too. Or Jimmy smith. Nah. Let's take j.j."

"Really? That's our first pick in the draft? Defense can use all the help it can get but REALLY???"

"That's why we can't win games now smh bad move"

"Never heard of the guy!!! oh well it is what it is"

"WASTE"

"I wanted prince, we need corners, not DE!!!!"

"We suck again!!!"

"This is terrible unless we make him an outside line backer"

"JJ Watts is garbage!"

"I hate our management"

"Boo! Season ticket sale lost guys. Fairley should have been the pick."

"Watt?! AND THAT'S WHY WE WON'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS...AGAIN!"

"Houston blew it as usual."

And on, and on, and on. So if the Texans fans were in charge of the draft, the team would have taken Prince Amukamara, who has become a solid starting cornerback for the New York Giants. It's worth mentioning that Watt has more pick-six interceptions from his defensive end position (one) than Amukamara has at corner (zero).

Just a reminder that even if you hate your team's pick now, you might end up being wrong. Watt's approval rating in Houston is probably a little better than it was four years ago when he was drafted.

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 5, 2015, 3:07 pm

After meeting with Baton Rouge police on Monday, La'el Collins is still not considered a suspect in the shooting of Brittany Mills, his former girlfriend.

It's also after the NFL draft has come and gone, but teams are still interested to see how the case plays out. Collins, a former LSU offensive tackle, met with homicide detectives for more than an hour on Monday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune said. BRPD spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola told the Times-Picayune that Collins is still not considered a suspect.

Mills was pregnant when she was shot and killed on April 24. Authorities wanted to question Collins. He left the draft in Chicago to go back to Louisiana. And as all of this was unfolding, Collins went from a near first-round lock to entirely undrafted.

Collins' attorney Jim Boren said Collins answered every question. Boren was asked if he thought Collins would be cleared of the charges, according to the Times-Picayune.

"Only the police can answer that question," Boren said, according to the paper. "In my mind he's been cleared from the very beginning."

Teams didn't want to take that risk in the draft. Collins can sign as an undrafted free agent with any team, but the rules limit what he can make.

OverTheCap.com pointed out that rules state Collins is locked into signing a three-year deal as an undrafted free agent, for the minimum salaries of $435,000 in 2015, $525,000 in 2016, and $615,000 in 2017. Teams get less than $100,000 total to spend on signing bonuses for all undrafted free agents each season, OverTheCap.com said. Collins would be a restricted free agent at the end of that contract. He can't reapply for the 2016 draft after not being taken in 2015. His options, even if teams start bidding on his services, are extremely limited and not good for a player who might have gone in the top 15 if the draft was about a week earlier.

This is a virtually unprecedented situation. NFL teams are certainly keeping a close watch on what happens. And if Collins is totally cleared, he'll have more than his share of teams looking to get a first-round talent at an unheard of discount.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 4, 2015, 10:16 pm

The contest to be hopelessly cursed by being on the cover of "Madden" is down to four unlucky souls.

The "Madden" cover curse didn't seem to affect last year's winner, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. He had a fine season and the Seahawks went back to the Super Bowl. But we can't ignore more than a decade of torturous tradition, from Daunte Culpepper to Peyton Hillis, when it comes to the "Madden" curse. The video game's cover boy has generally had something really bad happen after he appears on the cover.

With that in mind, here are the four semifinalists for the "Madden NFL 16" cover with our entirely made-up and meaningless odds with them:

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (10-to-1)

I like Peterson, he's a popular and good player, but he doesn't have the star power of the others. And the Cardinals' fan base won't overpower the voting like ...

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown (6-to-1)

Another great player, and he gets extra push because more than a few people voting have won a fantasy football title thanks to Brown. And you've seen how the Steelers fans travel. They're everywhere. The only issue is they might vote for anyone else to get Brown out of harm's way with the cover curse.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (2-to-1)

Now we're cooking. Gronk has the world in his hands, with crazy suits and dance parties and whatnot. What better way to cap off the Offseason of Gronk by giving him the "Madden" cover? The press events after he wins would certainly be entertaining. He and Brown can fistfight to get in the finals.

Big Fight this weekend #Week1 pic.twitter.com/NvCOPAuhz0

— Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown84) April 29, 2015

But our money is on another big favorite ...

New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (even odds)

Here it is. Beckham really seems to be the NFL's new mega-star, with his one-handed catches and ridiculous athleticism. Being in the New York media market doesn't hurt. He's still fresh and new and exciting, and who is better for a video game cover than the guy who makes catches you can only conceive of in a video game?

Happy voting. And, if you believe in the curse, hopefully your favorite player gets crushed.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 4, 2015, 6:31 pm

Many people have wondered if the St. Louis Rams are going to become (again) the Los Angeles Rams, and there has been a lot of smoke to that potential fire.

The NFL — inadvertantly, perhaps — has tossed a little gas on this chatter.

If you typed this into your browser Monday morning:

http://www.nfl.com/teams/profile?team=LA

You would have gotten this:

Los Angeles Rams on NFL.com? Yup.

Um, #awkward.

Yes, that's a legit web page, and it legitimately says "Los Angeles Rams" with the specs and stats from the current St. Louis club, in case you thought somehow there was a dead LA page of yore still living.

(UPDATE: The NFL has since taken the link down, referring it back to the NFL.com homepage. However, http://www.nfl.com/teams/St.%20Louis%20Rams/profile?team=la still points to the same page as of 5:30 p.m. ET.)

And before you assume that this is just an honest or quirky mistake, think about it: Someone on the web team had to develop this page with the "LA" suffix. For instance, when I type in "AND" for my hometown of Andover, Mass., I get nada. (Actually, it reverts back to the index page for the NFL teams.)

Hmm. You worried that Todd Gurley might be moving to the City of Angels in a year, Rams fans?

(h/t fieldofschemes.com)

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 4, 2015, 6:12 pm

NFL teams now have to declare which first-round picks they think look like busts after three seasons.

Right after welcoming in a new draft class last week, NFL teams have a deadline for picking up or passing on the fifth-year option for first-round picks from the 2012 class. If a first-round pick has played well, it's automatic. Teams err on the side of caution. The Washington Redskins picked up quarterback Robert Griffin III's fifth-year option for $16.1 million coming off two disappointing seasons. Matt Kalil, who is looking like a possible disappointment as a left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, had his option picked up too.

So if you don't get a fifth-year option picked up, it's a sign things are not going well.

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On Monday, ESPN said the Dallas Cowboys did not pick up the option on cornerback Morris Claiborne, the sixth overall pick, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't pick up the option on No. 31 pick, running back Doug Martin. Claiborne has struggled and was benched last year and briefly left the team in anger. Martin had a great rookie season and has done little since, not breaking 1,000 yards in the past two seasons combined.

That draft wasn't good to some pass rushers. According to reports, the Chicago Bears won't pick up outside linebacker Shea McClellin's option, the Houston Texans won't pick up the option on outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and the Green Bay Packers didn't pick up the option on outside linebacker Nick Perry.

The St. Louis Rams didn't pick up the option on safety and seventh overall pick Mark Barron, who they acquired in a trade with the Buccaneers (what a bad draft that was for Tampa Bay). Technically, the teams could change their minds and exercise those options later today. Other players like running back David Wilson, running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver A.J. Jenkins weren't even eligible for the option because they either aren't in football anymore or were cut by the teams that drafted them.

Most of the players who weren't picked up make sense. They haven't produced much for the team to invest another year into them right now, at least at the price it would take to exercise the option. But the most surprising player who didn't get his option picked up was Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, who has 16.5 career sacks. The Seahawks could try to lock up Irvin to a long-term deal. Irvin expressed on his Twitter feed, in colorful language not intended for a family-friendly site, that he didn't really care that the option wasn't picked up. It will be interesting to see that situation play out. According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said no official decision has been made on Irvin's option.

After the first round of this year's draft, everyone is happy and every team thinks they got a Pro Bowler with their pick. But the players who weren't picked up for a fifth-year option are a reminder that in three years, a handful or more of last Thursday's first rounders will be announced as probable busts when their options aren't exercised.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 4, 2015, 4:44 pm

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't going to have to deal with their quarterback showing up at spring training every year, keeping a baseball career in everyone's minds as a possible negotiating ploy.

Call the provision in Jameis' Winston's rookie contract the "Russell Wilson Clause."

Wilson, a former minor-league infielder, seems to show up at Texas Rangers camp every year. To Wilson, it's probably fun. To his agent, it's probably something else as the team has been slow to sign Wilson to a big extension.

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There will be none of that with Winston. The Buccaneers included a contractual clause that Winston, the first overall pick of the NFL draft last week, can't play baseball as long as he is under contract with them, according to The MMQB. Winston already has signed a four-year, $25.35 million deal.

Winston was a very good pitcher at Florida State, in addition to being a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback. In 2014 he had a a 1.08 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 33.1 innings, and might have been a better baseball prospect than Wilson, who hit .229 in the low levels of the minors. Winston had never quite closed the door on trying professional baseball. The Buccaneers didn't want to invest the first overall pick in a quarterback and then have him distracted by working on his slider in the offseason. This just eliminates a potential distraction as Winston tries to develop into a franchise quarterback.

So if we do see Winston back on a mound again, we'll know that something went really wrong in Tampa Bay.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 4, 2015, 2:53 pm

The 2015 NFL draft grades are in. Not all of them are As, we're sorry to say.

Yes, we at the Shutdown Corner have been studying up on our NFL draft nuggets for months now, and with more than 24 hours of lag time — totally ample! — to soak up what all 32 teams accomplished this past weekend, we’ve assigned iron-clad, definitive, no-questions-asked judgments on all of them. It feels good to be so decisive and unyielding.

Not buying this process? 

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A look back at last year’s draft grades reveals some cringe-worthy moments (to wit: I panned the Seattle Seahawks’ pick of Justin Britt, an 18-game rookie starter, and praised their selection of Kevin Norwood, an overaged bystander with nine catches in Year 1.)

But we got a few hard calls right, and with blinders on we trudge forward bravely.

How did your team do? Click through — then bookmark this page, revisit it a year from now and have a joyous belly laugh when I called your team’s rookie Pro Bowl player a “poor value choice.”

Oh, how we’ll miss you, Draft Season. We'll get started on 2016 in a few days. (Lies, damned lies.)

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 4, 2015, 1:59 pm

The NFL draft is (finally) over.

From the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafting Jameis Winston (and the dumb Social Media Outrage that followed the crab legs photo) to the Arizona Cardinals taking Mr. Irrelevant, it was a wild three days. What moments won the three days? Let's check it out.

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Most touching moment

This one was easy. It was Jim Kelly, whose battle against cancer was followed closely by all NFL fans, taking the stage to a great standing ovation that obviously surprised and touched him.

The moment that'll make us laugh every time we hear it

Every time the NFL Network or ESPN played a highlights montage that included commissioner Roger Goodell trying to pronounce Marcus Mariota's name, it was a classic. "Mariato"? C'mon commish, this wasn't exactly cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in the seventh round. 

Stealing the show

It's kind of fun that we have Ickey Woods back in our lives. WOOOOOO!

Most extra special moment for one player

Every player hopefully enjoyed the special moment when they were drafted, but it had to be really cool for Eddie Goldman.

Legendary Bears linebacker Dick Butkus was announcing the Chicago Bears' second-round pick when he read the card and exclaimed, "I like this," before announcing the pick was Goldman, the Florida State defensive tackle. That's a heck of a way to start a pro career. Goldman said later that Butkus is one of his father's favorite players.

"But him to say that ‘and I like this,' it's so subtle and so small but coming from him it kind of made my heart drop a little bit because he's NFL royalty right there," Goldman told the Bears' site.

Most surprising reaction from a player

When a player gets drafted, a few minutes later he has a teleconference with that team's local media. The questions are typically the same. Inevitably, the player is asked if he had any clue that team would pick him. It's usually either, yes because they met with me and I hit it off with the coach, or no because I hadn't talked to them at all.

Nobody says what New York Giants fifth-round pick, Texas safety Mykkele Thompson, said about being drafted.

"It was a surprise for me," Thompson said, according to ESPN.com. "I don't even know how to explain it right now. After the numbers I put up this year, I thought free agency was going to be the main goal, probably."

That's different.

The "awwwwww" moment

The NFL let fans at each of the 32 team sites announce picks in Rounds 4-7, because the draft needed to be a little longer I guess. It did have one fun moment, when a couple who was just married got to announce the New York Giants' pick. And wouldn't you know it? The player was the appropriately named Bobby Hart, a Florida State offensive lineman.

Most GIF-able moment

Ah yes, there was one more highlight from the fans announcing picks, when some excited Buccaneers fans gave everyone the easiest GIF of the draft.

tfw you're a Bucs fan and your team drafts Kaelin Clay: http://t.co/QJXifxPHpi pic.twitter.com/z38qIqnVbr

— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 2, 2015

Most extreme high and low

Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett had one of the biggest moments of his life on Saturday when he was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. But it followed an incredibly tough situation on Friday night when his childhood house that was hosting a draft party was significantly damaged by a fire. It's hard to imagine experiencing all those emotions in a 24-hour stretch.

 

Pick that most teams could regret not making

I'm not the biggest Brett Hundley fan, but the UCLA quarterback does have talent. And there are many teams who are pretty desperate at quarterback. If the Green Bay Packers saw the value in trading up to draft him in the fifth round, why didn't some other teams that don't have an MVP at quarterback? (And the "he couldn't develop slowly with a worse team" argument holds no water; teams have free will and can choose to develop a fifth-round pick at any rate they want.)

Pick that a team might regret

Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory is talented, and there's a reason a top-10 type talent slipped to No. 60. The Dallas Cowboys already have a pretty wild locker room, so I'm not sure of the fit here. Hopefully the issues that forced Gregory to slip so far will be behind him. A big draft drop like that can be a wake-up call. But I think, even at the value of a late second-round pick, it was risky.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 3, 2015, 7:09 pm

It's probably better to be the last pick of the NFL draft rather than the second-to-last pick. At least the last pick gets a party in his honor in California.

"Mr. Irrelevant" is a longstanding NFL draft tradition, a dubious honor for the final pick of the NFL draft. The Arizona Cardinals had pick No. 256 in the seventh round, the last pick this year. They took Gerald Christian, a tight end from Louisville.

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It's not too bad. The last pick of the draft is the guest of honor at "Irrelevant Week" in July at Newport Beach, Calif. He's also more memorable than pick No. 255.

Ryan Succop, the kicker for the Tennessee Titans, might be the most accomplished Mr. Irrelevant. Others have stuck in the NFL for a while. Christian might have a chance to make Arizona's roster too.

Christian is a 6-foot-3, 244-pound tight end who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.87 seconds at the NFL scouting combine. He started his career at Florida before transferring to Louisville, where he developed into a solid player for the Cardinals. He had 32 catches for 384 yards and five touchdowns last season. He was third-team all-ACC.

The Cardinals do need some help at tight end as well. And if Christian doesn't make it, well, at least he'll have a party in his honor.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 10:51 pm

Teams make surprising draft picks all the time. However, it's not so common that a draft pick himself is surprised to hear his name called at all.

The New York Giants took Texas safety Mykkele Thompson in the fifth round. Thompson wasn't exactly hosting a big draft party.

"It was a surprise for me," Thompson said, according to ESPN.com. "I don't even know how to explain it right now. After the numbers I put up this year, I thought free agency was going to be the main goal, probably."

The Giants have made plenty of good picks through the years, but picking someone in the fifth round who admits he was surprised to be drafted at all probably should be classified as a reach. According to ESPN.com, Thompson said he had just one pre-draft visit: to the Giants, of course.

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Thompson wasn't very productive in college, but did play better after he started using contacts to correct his vision during last season. He had just one interception, three passes defensed and 69 tackles in 13 games. At 6-foot-2, 191 pounds (his listed size in college), he's a bit undersized as a safety, though he could move to corner in the pros. He wasn't even an honorable mention all-Big 12 selection as a senior. Thompson wasn't invited to the NFL scouting combine. It's not like he went to a small school and nobody had a chance to scout him. No wonder Thompson figured he'd be trying to hook on as a free agent.

That's not to mean Thompson won't be a good player. The Giants have a good scouting staff. They obviously like him. It's just not too often you hear a player express genuine surprise over being drafted after he is.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 8:38 pm

Before Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett experienced one of the biggest moments of his life, he and his family had to deal with the pain of seeing their house destroyed in a fire.

Jarrett's family's house in Conyers, Ga., was significantly damaged by a fire on Friday night during a draft party for Jarrett. On Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons took him in the fifth round.

About 50 people were at the draft party, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Nobody was injured. Jarrett and his draft party moved to a family member's house on Saturday.

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After drafting Jarrett and hearing about the house, Falcons owner Arthur Blank ordered the staff to get Jarrett and his family some clothes, ESPN.com said. NFL Network said that all of Jarrett's trophies and football memorabilia burned in the fire. The house belonged to his mother; Jarrett's father is former Falcons linebacker Jessie Tuggle.

Yesterday: DT Grady Jarrett's possessions were destroyed in a fire.Today: He was drafted. By his dad's old team. pic.twitter.com/HFgF2AwNjt

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 2, 2015

Fox Sports said about half of the house burned. The report said the family thinks an electrical fire was the cause.

"It was an unexplainable feeling," Jarrett told Fox Sports. "It was hopelessness. It was disbelief. At that point I wasn't thinking about the draft. There's no feeling that describes watching a house burn. The important thing was everyone got out safe. We lost some things that we can't get back, but for the most part it's just material things and as a family we're just happy to be safe."

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 7:40 pm

When I first heard about Joe Cardona, the long snapper from Navy, my first thought was that he'd make the most obvious New England Patriots pick of all time.

I had no idea how prescient I'd be.

Cardona, who is considered one of the best long-snapping prospects in a few years (I have no idea how people judge that), was taken with the 166th pick in the 2015 draft.

It made perfect sense.

Patriots need a long snapper. They've tried out and used a few the past few seasons.

And Cardona is a Navy guy. Bill Belichick grew up learning football at Navy when his father was a coach and scout there. He's always had a soft spot for Midshipmen.

Now Belichick has another one. It's too easy.

Believe it or not, Cardona is not the highest-drafted long snapper ever. Ryan Pontbriand was at No. 142 overall by the Cleveland Browns back in 2003, although he was also a center. Actually, Jared Allen was also a fourth-round pick and was projected first as a long snapper, then as a pass rusher. The second skill turned out to be a hair better.

But when Belichick brings in Navy guys, they're typically undrafted. In fact, Cardona became the first from the school to be taken in 20 years — the last was sixth-round tight end Kevin Hickman (by the Detroit Lions in 1995), who never caught a pass in 13 career games.

Cardona figures to be the replacement for Tyler Ott, the only other long snapper on the Patriots' roster. That is, if Cardona is allowed to get a waiver to get out of his military commitment, which isn't always a guarantee with service academy players drafted into the NFL. If he's not allowed to play, the Patriots don't lose his rights and can stash him for a few years until he's free to play.

Now, you, couch draftnik, might call this a dumb pick; after all, the Patriots might have been able to sign him after the draft. But the Super Bowl champs have few pressing needs and limited roster spots, so why not? Plus, the team has hit on special-teams-only players such as Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner in recent seasons, so better than flushing a pick down the drain on some stiff who doesn't make the team.

Long snappers are people, too.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 2, 2015, 7:22 pm

Watching Jay Ajayi bowl his way through mostly helpless Mountain West defenders on his way to more than 2,300 yards from scrimmage last season, it was easy to ask early in Round 5 ... why is this guy still available?

The biggest reason: a knee that some NFL team doctors believe might not hold up long in the NFL. A few weeks ago, reports surfaced that his knee was essentially bone on bone despite being able to play — and play every game — the past three seasons.

Could Ajayi be the next Cadillac Williams — an energetic, feisty, powerful runner with awareness and instincts who never can stay healthy? That's what some teams feared, which precipitated his fall to the 149th pick, where the Miami Dolphins took a gamble on potential greatness.

It's not a stretch to say that Ajayi has some Marshawn Lynch-like capabilities, but it is a real projection to say that Ajayi is going to have anywhere near the longevity that Lynch has. If healthy, Ajayi could be a great power complement to Lamar Miller in the Dolphins backfield and give Ryan Tannehill an underrated receiving outlet who had 50 catches and four TDs last season.

But the fear clearly is that Ajayi's brilliance could be short. If he's the rare back who can sustain a pounding — he's not that elusive a runner — and play through what looks to be a very balky knee, the Dolphins will have hit a home run. It might have been worth the risk at this point in the draft.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 2, 2015, 6:41 pm

Well, at least Brett Hundley gets to sit and learn a while in the NFL.

Hundley, the UCLA quarterback who was thought by some to be the third-best quarterback in this draft class, is going to the Green Bay Packers.

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Really, the Packers. Who have NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who is still in his prime, at quarterback. What made it stranger is that the Packers traded up 19 spots with the New England Patriots to take Hundley in the fifth round (although reports say the Patriots made the first call to the Packers). The Packers sent the 247th pick to New England.

So, why Hundley if you're the Packers? 

The Packers made this kind of move a few times in the Ron Wolf/Brett Favre years, drafting a quarterback late when it wasn't needed. If the quarterback develops, he can be a great trade chip. The Packers flipped Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks and Mark Brunell in that era. And as the Packers found out during the 2013 season when Rodgers was hurt, it's never bad to have a high-level backup.

"You guys asked me if each draft pick has a chance to start, this one probably doesn't," Packers director of player personnel Eliot Wolf joked, according to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Rodgers is just 31, so it's reasonable to think he has at least six or seven good years left. Hundley can't feel too great about the destination, as far as playing anytime soon. It must be especially disappointing to slip so far after he passed on his senior season to enter the draft. But Hundley landed with a team that knows how to coach a high-level passing game, with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to learn from. Assuming that Rodgers wants to help him along, which Favre never really did with Rodgers. Over the long term, Hundley should be a better player as a result of going to Green Bay.

Hundley slipped down in the draft (he was the sixth quarterback taken in a weak class) because while he has plenty of physical skills, he needs a lot of coaching. He was inconsistent at UCLA, but the reason the Packers were excited about him because the raw tools are there. And if Hundley does develop into a good NFL quarterback, there will be many teams wondering why they passed on him when the Packers saw the value in taking him.

The pairing of Hundley to the Packers wasn't expected, but the Packers see something in him. But aside from preseason games, it might be a while before we get a chance to see Hundley play again.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 6:31 pm

I enjoy Rob Gronkowski and his antics. He's an all-time force at tight end for the New England Patriots, is now a Super Bowl champion, and he's living the life as only Gronk can.

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted a photo on his Facebook account of himself and some friends on their Kentucky Derby trip. Quick, pick out Gronk:

One word. Gronk. #KentuckyDerby2015 pic.twitter.com/xgqiMovbH3

— Only In Boston (@OnlyInBOS) May 2, 2015

Let's take a closer look: 

Gronk is my spirit animal pic.twitter.com/e33Wl8v4d6

— Corbin Mertz (@LawdHaveMertzy) May 2, 2015

The hat, the suit, the shoes ... and if that's not enough, he rocked the T-shirt/tie look at a Kentucky Derby party at some point this week.

Gronk wore a tie over a t-shirt at a Kentucky Derby gala, classic Gronk http://t.co/LouDyXDQ4t pic.twitter.com/qKpRqT0kT3

— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 2, 2015

Gronk wins. He always does.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 5:48 pm

You probably remember Josh Shaw, who was selected in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. The name probably rings a bell at least, if you pay attention to football.

Shaw's story was one of the weirdest last year in the sports world.

First Shaw, a talented USC cornerback, said he injured both of his ankles jumping off a balcony to save his drowning nephew. USC published that story on its website. Wow, what a great feel-good story! Yeah, too great.

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That story unraveled in a hurry. Shaw admitted he lied about how he suffered the injuries. USC suspended him indefinitely. The LAPD started investigating him in a domestic violence incident, and the story went that he jumped from the balcony to possibly evade police after neighbors heard a loud argument. Shaw, however, wasn't charged. USC took him back but didn't seem all too excited about it. 

Shaw explained later that he jumped out of the balcony after an argument with his girlfriend because he "thought she had somebody call authorities." He made up the story of his nephew drowning because he needed a better reason for the ankle injuries.

Just a reminder that the cover-up is worse than the crime and makes you a household name to those who enjoy kooky stories like that from the sports world.

The Bengals really don't care too much about character concerns, and Shaw is a big, fast cornerback who can probably help their defense. If he fell at all in the draft because of his tall tale of saving his nephew (probably not, because NFL teams rarely care about such things), the Bengals weren't going to let it get in the way of adding a player of his caliber.

The Bengals can probably be sure of one thing: Shaw won't be making up any hero stories going forward.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 5:28 pm

No, Bryce Petty is not the savior for this season. But the New York Jets' fourth-round pick, who is used to waiting his turn, is a name to watch for 2016.

This is the theme of the Jets' offseason: It's on you, Geno Smith.

They traded for Brandon Marshall and drafted speed ball Devin Smith. They added an offensive lineman and a running back. The defense might be one of the most talented units in the league, capable of winning 10 games with average QB play. If Smith can't make it happen now in New York, he never will.

Petty will be handled differently with the Jets than Smith was when he came in. Smith was forced into the lineup too early, still needing time to adjust from a gimmicky college offense but not adequately getting it. Petty, who first called a play in the huddle and ran snaps from under center this winter (as in, not in games), should not see the field in meaningful time this season. Geno Smith (AP)

After all, he waited 1,786 days to get his chance to start for Art Briles at Baylor and can wait, oh, 450 or so days before he's in the mix to compete for the Jets' job if Smith can't hang onto it. That's the incubation period coaches and scouts believe Petty needs to get up to NFL speed, but he has a lot of intriguing skills to work with.

Petty also has way more of a New York-type of attitude, a devil-may-care confidence with the right dose of charm, along with a strong work ethic. Those are things Smith has not had. He's not a gym rat. He's not comfortable in front of a microphone, and perhaps not in a huddle or in the locker room when it comes time to rally the troops. Still, Smith can be viewed as likeable, but he doesn't have the same easiness in those situations as Petty does. It's easy to spot when you spend time talking to him.

Will Petty be a hit? No one knows. There was a ton of debate — some loved him, others did not — in the scouting community. But he's not a bad risk at this point in the draft, with talk of him perhaps going as high as a pick in the 30s.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 2, 2015, 4:43 pm

At times we try to turn football teams into something they're not, mostly because football teams try to portray themselves as something they're not.

Teams do care about arrest records and character issues. But if we're being honest, their concern is if those issues will prevent certain players from helping on the football field. Anything said by the teams above and beyond that is just extraneous public relations. They're in the football business. That's their only priority. Let's stop fooling ourselves into thinking that's not the case.

"But suffice it to say, we would never, ever take a player that struck a female, or had a domestic dispute like that, or did anything like that," Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said in 2012, via the Seattle Times.

On Friday night, late in the second round, the Seahawks took Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, who was dimissed from the team last November after a domestic violence arrest. Charges were dropped when Clark pleaded to disorderly conduct. He spent three days in jail after the arrest.

The Seahawks said they did all their homework on Clark and hitting a woman is "still a deal-breaker for us," Schneider said according to their transcript. The Seahawks said that Clark never hit a woman. Clark says he didn't do so. According to the Detroit Free Press, based on police reports regarding the incident with his girlfriend, "witnesses told police that Clark had struck her in the face. [Girlfriend Diamond] Hurt suffered visible injuries -- a welt on the cheek, bruises on her neck and a scuff burn on her right hip." Seattle chose to believe Clark's side of it. The Seahawks never talked to the alleged victim. Not that I want to live in a world where NFL teams are calling possible domestic violence victims to gauge whether their alleged abuser is worth using a draft pick on, but Seattle didn't do it anyway (Schneider did say they "interviewed the counselors who were involved with the two of them.")

The Seahawks did a ton of other investigating, they said. And was it worth it? Here's the Seahawks' transcript from Friday night's press conference, with Schneider's answer:

(On why Clark is worth the effort for investigating the incident…)

JS: “Holy cow, this is a 272-pound man who is extremely explosive. He still has an upside, he’s an interior rusher, edge rusher, can play Sam, set the edge—they did a lot with him at the school.”

Clark can play football. He can help the Seahawks. If avoiding a player who might have hit a woman was that important to the Seahawks ("we would never, ever take a player," remember?) then they'd have passed on Clark. But Clark can play. And that's fine, it's the Seahawks' right to pick whoever they want to pick. They're in the football business, period. That doesn't make them much different than any other NFL team.

But the Seahawks put themselves in a position for some extra scrutiny by taking a hard-line stance against "never, ever" taking a player involved in a situation like Clark was accused of being in. They researched and believe Clark, and maybe Clark did nothing wrong. It's hard to know what happened in situations like this. No matter how many people the Seahawks talked to, I doubt they know for sure either. But the Seahawks talked themselves into the answer they wanted to get not because they wanted to uncover the truth, but because of "extremely explosive," "upside," "rusher," "set the edge." Holy cow, indeed.

It doesn't make the Seahawks unusual that they'd take a chance on a player like Clark. It probably would have just been better if they didn't portray themselves as something they're not. They're like most everyone else in the NFL. Possible off-field issues only matter until the talent on the other side of the scale outweighs them.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 4:22 pm

Every team has its own tolerance level for taking on character risks.

We still haven't seen the Dallas Cowboys reach their tolerance level.

Perhaps emboldened by how well things have worked out with Dez Bryant, the Cowboys collected two players this offseason who have a lot of red flags, for different reasons. Defensive end Greg Hardy, coming off a domestic violence case that cost him 15 games last season as it went through the courts, was signed as a free agent. He was then given a 10-game suspension by the NFL.

The Cowboys came back with another pass rusher the rest of the league shied away from, taking Nebraska outside linebacker/defensive end Randy Gregory with the 60th overall pick in the draft. Gregory once looked like a top-10 pick. But issues that included a failed drug test at the NFL scouting combine and some erratic behavior sent him tumbling, almost out of the second round. Talent is talent, and the Cowboys were the team that took Gregory. That shouldn't have been a surprise.

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Don't forget that Cowboys running back Joseph Randle just dodged charges stemming from a domestic dispute. Prosecutors said that there was not sufficient evidence for any charges, according to the CBS affiliate in Dallas. They also just re-signed linebacker Rolando McClain, who has had many off-field issues and was just fined four game checks for a third failed test under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. They also have defensive tackle Josh Brent, who was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and served six months in jail from a 2012 car accident that killed his teammate Jerry Brown. 

It must be quite an interesting locker room. At least the Cowboys aren't one of the most-watched NFL teams with an enormous media corps covering their every move.

Of course, the Cowboys can always point back to Bryant. Bryant's background heading into the 2010 draft was reportedly the "worst" at least one ex-scout had seen. He turned into one of the NFL's finest receivers, and the Cowboys would clearly make that same pick again.

All NFL teams have taken chances on players whose character has been questioned. It gets risky when a lot of those players end up on the same roster. Plenty is said about NFL teams valuing character and so forth. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones apparently doesn't have too many concerns about that. It has worked out for him before. The mid-1990s Cowboys teams that won Super Bowls had plenty of players who weren't choir boys either. Jones is betting that another character risk can become a productive player in Dallas. He's likely not going to make any apologies for it either.

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Day 2 of the NFL draft:

WINNERS

Tennessee Titans

Again, no NFL team is full of impeccable character. There were plenty of reasons receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, a top-10 talent, fell to the second round. Whoever drafted him would be assuming a big risk.

But the Titans might as well swing big.

The Titans might have the most talent-deficient roster in the NFL. They need players. Green-Beckham is definitely a player. He also got booted from Missouri for multiple off-field incidents. All teams have to decide risk vs. reward. The aforementioned Cowboys have taken a ton of chances, and to be fair, they were 12-4 last year. The Green-Beckham pick was worth the risk for the Titans. If he hits, he and Marcus Mariota will be a great combination for years. The Titans need to catch a break like that.

Darren McFadden? Joseph Randle or Lance Dunbar?

I can't tell you that I think it's a good idea to count on McFadden as a starting running back. The same goes for Randle, Dunbar or Ryan Williams. But with three rounds of the NFL draft done, I don't know who will be the Cowboys' replacement for NFL offensive player of the year DeMarco Murray, who left for the Philadelphia Eagles. Unless there's some late-round gem lingering for Dallas, one of those guys will fall into an incredible situation for any tailback. It was a big surprise that Dallas didn't take a running back in the first three rounds of the draft.

Jones said running back wasn't a pressing need for the Cowboys going into the draft. Apparently he was being honest. The Cowboys took offensive tackle Chaz Green in the third round instead of going with a running back, even though Dallas already had one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL.

That might be the thought process. Maybe Dallas feels one of the backs on the roster can be productive behind that fantastic line and don't need to invest in the position. Randle seems like the best bet at the moment to get that shot. Or perhaps the Cowboys have a back in mind for the fourth, fifth or seventh round (Dallas doesn't have a sixth-round pick) that could be a potential starter, though that seems like a major reach.

Someone is going to cash in as the Cowboys' starting back this season. I just have no idea who that is.

Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens

The Pittsburgh Steelers got some praise for their first-round pick of Bud Dupree in this spot yesterday, and their two biggest AFC North rivals each did very well for themselves on Day 2.

The Ravens might have my favorite draft so far, from a value standpoint. Receiver Breshad Perriman was a nice pick at No. 26 and a great fit for the offense. I know tight end wasn't top heavy or deep this year, but Minnesota's Maxx Williams was the consensus top tight end and Baltimore traded up and got him at No. 55. He's a value pick and he fills another need. The same can be said for Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis in the third round. That's three nice value picks for a team that always seems to draft well.

The Bengals typically do pretty well in the draft too, and I liked all three of their Day 2 picks. They paired their first-round pick, offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, with second-round offensive tackle Jake Fisher. They're set at tackle for a while. Tyler Kroft of Rutgers is a solid tight end who can block and catch and went late in the third round. Then to finish the third round, the Bengals drafted TCU linebacker Paul Dawson, who didn't work out well at the combine but is a good football player.

LOSERS

Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley

For a while on Thursday, a couple hours were spent with NFL insiders discussing on Twitter that Baylor quarterback Petty would a late first-round pick. That was fun.

Petty didn't get drafted in the first round, or the second or third rounds either, and neither did UCLA quarterback Hundley. Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion did go to the Rams, the fourth quarterback selected after first-rounders Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, and fellow third-rounder Garrett Grayson.

This wasn't a very good quarterback class. That's why folks spent time talking up Petty and even Hundley at various times. But now it's clear that both have a lot of work to do to establish themselves in some NFL team's long-term plans. They probably didn't expect to be undrafted going into the draft's third day.

Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West

Crowell and West were the opposite of those Dallas backs we discussed before who didn't welcome any new competition to their position group. Both Browns players showed some NFL ability as rookies. But now they're fighting for playing time with a 2015 rookie.

The Browns drafted Miami (Fla.) running back Duke Johnson in the third round. I don't want to come off as hating the Browns, after I wasn't thrilled with their first round, so I'll avoid saying that I have no idea why a team with some legitimate needs would draft a third running back when both 2014 rookies looked pretty promising.

You have to assume the Browns have big plans for Johnson, a versatile and exciting back. It's doubtful that there's enough to go around for three backs to be happy in that offense. At least one of last year's Browns rookie backs just had a lot of playing time taken away, it seems.

Patriots, but really, we should know better

Every year there's a draft pick that surprises everyone, because nobody expected to hear the name announced for a few more rounds. The Patriots made that pick this year.

New England picked Stanford safety Jordan Richards at the end of the second round. Nobody seemed to know what to say because it didn't seem that anyone figured Richards would be picked before Day 3 of the draft. It seemed like a major reach, maybe by a few rounds, for the Patriots to take him in the second. "We have yet to find an expert projecting him as a second-round pick," CSNNE's Tom Curran wrote.

All that said, it's best to just assume New England knows something nobody else does. The Patriots often make surprising picks, and many have worked out fine. Richards does seem to fit what they do well, a productive strong safety who is lauded for his football smarts. Sounds like a good fit for the Patriots. It was an odd pick at that time, but it's probably best to bet that it'll work out for New England.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 4:21 am

The New Orleans Saints could have taken quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round last year.

They discussed it, but they instead selected cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who was not very good as a rookie. Four picks later, the New England Patriots took Garoppolo.

The Saints weren't going to have the same regrets this year. When Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson, projected by many as this draft's third-best quarterback, fell to the third round on Friday, the Saints pounced. Grayson was their pick at No. 75. Grayson was the third quarterback off the board, long after Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went with the top two picks. 

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Of course, it's a bit of a bittersweet pick. This is an indication that the Saints are at least considering life after Drew Brees, as hard as that must be. It's the highest the Saints have selected a quarterback since Archie Manning in 1971. No free agent in NFL history has meant more to a franchise than Brees, a future Hall of Famer who brought a Super Bowl to New Orleans. But Brees just turned 36. He was the subject of draft rumors this offseason, whatever that means. The Saints would probably be thrilled if Brees played into his 40s at a high level. But now they're protected if he doesn't.

Grayson is an interesting prospect. He is a good athlete with skills to be an NFL quarterback. He has two things in his favor landing in New Orleans: He won't be rushed into the starting lineup, and he will be coached by offensive mastermind Sean Payton. That helps.

If he takes over for Brees, it will be extremely difficult replacing a player who is synonymous with that franchise and a legend there on and off the field. In a perfect world, the Saints won't have to worry about that for many years. But they weren't going to second-guess themselves again for passing on another quarterback.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 2:39 am

CHICAGO — The slide ended. Now the long journey toward Randy Gregory rebuilding his image has begun. 

Gregory was the final 2015 draft prospect to leave the green room, another humbling episode in what has been the biggest draft tumble this season of anyone not named La'el Collins. (Interestingly, Collins and Gregory share an agent, Deryk Gilmore, whom Gregory praised at his news conference Friday, so you can end the speculation of whether he might fire him.)

Since Gregory's camp leaked word that he failed a drug test at the NFL scouting combine, the media has started to learn what NFL teams have known for months: Gregory has problems that run deeper than a little THC in his urine.

Most of them have yet to come out in concrete form but rather in thinly veiled media reports suggesting that Gregory's mental health is a concern. More than breaking down Gregory's fascinating tape from Nebraska, NFL scouts had become investigators, information gatherers and armchair psychiatrists over everything he's done the past several years.

Gregory's life has been a fishbowl to NFL security people. And they tended not to like what they saw.

But the Dallas Cowboys provided Gregory draft salvation, selecting him with the 60th overall pick on Friday, some 50 selections after many speculated he'd go as recent as two months ago. Gregory said the process — the long, drawn-out fall — humbled him. Angered him, too, he admitted.

"I'm not showing it, probably," Gregory said Friday night at the Auditorium Theatre. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit [bitter].

"Obviously, everyone wants to be picked high, but at the same time I understood why I wasn't picked high. I know I put myself in that situation."

The Cowboys suddenly have the most fascinating locker room in the NFL with the additions of Greg Hardy and now Gregory, not to mention Dez Bryant and a cast of other assorted colorful characters. Gregory's handling will be serious business. He needs a strong guidance force on the team, and when asked if he'd be open to some Bryant-like mentoring/handling/sponsorship like the wideout had earlier in his career, Gregory said he is open to the idea. In fact, he and Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones already talked about it when they met.

"Just sitting there for, like, 40 minutes with Jerry Jones, he's probably the perfect guy for that and I think he feels that way and we actually talked about that, me and him, specifically together," Gregory said. 

Teams found out that Gregory had major troubles at Nebraska and constantly had to be monitored by the staff there after multiple indiscretions and head-butting with coaches. After the positive drug test, teams dug further, and there were reports he missed and was late for team meetings with NFL clubs seeking to get answers about Gregory's considerable concerns.

And that killed Gregory's chances of going in Round 1 on top of everything else.

"Oh, I know it did, it really did," he said. "I know for a fact it hurt me with a few teams."

On the field, Gregory can be an electric rusher, but his lack of size is a major concern, with his weight fluctuating between 215 and 240 pounds since the start of his final season with the Huskers. Can he rush the edge in a four-man, Tampa-style defense? That will be interesting to watch.

But more intriguing is how Gregory will handle himself as a pro on a team that will have to find ways to guide him. Some teams — especially those lacking a strong coaching staff and locker room — considered Gregory too much to deal with and they worried about his mental and spiritual health after meeting with him when we spoke to them during the pre-draft process.

"Hopefully just this whole ride, being in the NFL will be fun enough and so I won't have to go down that road and there won't be anxiety," Gregory said.

Watching the way the Cowboys have monitored Bryant gives us a possible blueprint for how Gregory might be handled, and you can bet they will try to find as many defensive leaders — not Hardy — to mentor him as well.

This is the most Cowboys pick ever. We'll find out if it was worth the risk.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 2, 2015, 1:39 am

The NFL brings out a former great from each team to announce second-round picks. It's a cool tradition. Usually the player gets a nice bit of applause.

But Jim Kelly came out to announce the Buffalo Bills' pick on Friday night and Chicago's Auditorium Theatre erupted.

Kelly was far from Buffalo but that didn't matter. All NFL fans followed the Hall of Fame quarterback's battle with cancer, which spread from his jaw to his sinus, and rooted for him to beat it. And he did. As fans chanted his name and stood and gave him a long and warm ovation, it looked like Kelly was having a tough time holding his emotions together. The same can be said for his wife Jill and daughter Erin, who were just off stage.

It was the best moment of the NFL draft.

"Wow," Kelly told NFL Network after he announced the Bills' second-round pick of defensive back Ronald Darby. "I never thought that was going to happen. Total surprise."

When Kelly was at the lectern, he thanked everyone for their support. The outpouring from the NFL community was tremendous during his battle. He told NFL Network that he feels "great." Tests last year showed Kelly was cancer-free.

"I just want people to know out there, that, they talk about me being an inspiration to them," Kelly told the NFL Network. "I want them to know how much of an inspiration they’ve been for me. It keeps me fighting and want to come back and make a difference for other people."

Who would have thought that one of the members of the famed Class of 1983 would have stolen the show in 2015?

HERE WE GO! #KellyTough #BillsDraft pic.twitter.com/tg7KuKowHX

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) May 2, 2015

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 1:08 am

It just seems like this Tennessee Titans draft will be the one they talk about for years or the one they spend years trying to forget, with no in-between.

Second overall pick Marcus Mariota is a great talent but not without risk. Many wonder how the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback will transition to the NFL game from Oregon. And the Titans doubled down on high upside by picking one of the biggest wild cards in the draft, receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, in the second round on Friday. The Titans did so after trading down from the 33rd pick in the draft, getting a couple extra picks (a fourth and a seventh) from the New York Giants to move down to No. 40. The Giants took safety Landon Collins at No. 33.

Green-Beckham's talent is obvious. Physically, he's unbelievable. He's 237 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds. NFL Films' Greg Cosell, in his pre-draft analysis, said a physical comparison to Calvin Johnson isn't outlandish. That's saying something. If Green-Beckham has matured, the Titans basically added two top-10 picks in this draft while picking up additional picks to get one of them..

But that's the rub. Green-Beckham has plenty of red flags, and the biggest was an incident in which he allegedly forced his way into an apartment looking for his girlfriend and pushed another female down some stairs. That led to his dismissal at Missouri. He also had marijuana issues in college and sat out all of 2014 while redshirting at Oklahoma. This is not a safe pick.

But it is a pick that has plenty of potential. The Titans don't have that great outside threat. Justin Hunter has shown flashes but hasn't put it all together. Kendall Wright is a nice slot receiver. But Green-Beckham adds an entirely different dimension. He could end up being Mariota's No. 1 target for many years, a thought that should get Titans fans excited.

That is, however, if Green-Beckham has no more off-field issues and has dedicated himself to being a great player. Nobody knows yet if that's the case. But Tennessee was willing to invest a second-round pick to find out.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 2, 2015, 12:02 am

This running back class was considered to be pretty strong, but the opinions seem split on T.J. Yeldon.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, however, had a clear opinion on Yeldon: They really liked him. They took Yeldon with the fourth pick of the second round, 36th overalll on Friday night. He went ahead of backs like Boise State's Jay Ajayi and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah.

And with that, Jacksonville has another piece for a growing offense that added quarterback Blake Bortles and rookie receivers Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns last year. The Jaguars signed Toby Gerhart last year, and he wasn't the answer. Denard Robinson played well, but it doesn't appear the Jaguars view him as a true No. 1 back.

Make no mistake, Yeldon has a fantastic opportunity to be Jacksonville's starting running back from Day 1, just like San Diego's Melvin Gordon and St. Louis' Todd Gurley (when he's healthy).

One big question with Yeldon was his top-end speed, but he ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the combine. He has good size (226 pounds) and was productive at Alabama. So was Trent Richardson though, so that's no guarantee of NFL success. The Jaguars are hoping Yeldon is more Eddie Lacy than Richardson.

There weren't a ton of truly surprising picks in the first round. Yeldon wasn't a total shock either, but it was a little surprising that he was the third running back selected. Obviously the Jaguars think very highly of him. He'll get every chance to be a 1,000-yard back for them right away.

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 11:36 pm

Defensive end Leonard Williams won't just be getting a playbook from the New York Jets over the next couple of days. He also will be getting a driver's manual in the not too distant future.

The sixth player taken in the first round of the NFL draft, Williams is many things. He's a freakish athlete with incredible length and a tremendous motor. He was an all-conference selection and team MVP last year at USC. He was also coveted by the Jets, despite the fact they already have two star defensive ends in Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.

One thing he isn't, however, is a licensed driver.

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It's a bit surprising he landed a multi-million dollar job before he could drive, but somehow it happened.

I don’t have a driver’s license because USC’s campus is really small. Like I said, I was able to get away from a lot of the distractions of L.A., because I’m not involved in the club scene,” Williams said on Friday. “I had a house close to the USC campus so I didn’t really need a car, campus is really small, and I just kind of long boarded around. A lot of people were asking me if I’m looking forward to getting a car and I was saying I’m looking forward to getting a license and a car.

They were saying that people don’t really drive in New York so I might not need one.”

In all likelihood, Williams will need to get a vehicle. While it is true that many residents of New York City don't own a car, he probably won't be living in in the city unless he wants a long commute to the team's facility in the western suburbs of north New Jersey. The daily train ride doesn't make much sense either; the trip from New York Penn Station to the nearest stop by the team's training facility takes a little more than hour.

So a car makes sense for Williams. An SUV, given his size, makes far more sense.

At the NFL scouting combine, Williams was measured at 6-foot-5 and weighed in at 302 pounds. He will not be driving a Toyota Prius.

Williams has always been big. He remembers being 13 years old and weighing 200 pounds, meaning that he was well over the weight limit to play Pop Warner football.

I remember that day in detail. I just remember there was a really long line going up to the tent where you have to sign in and I was so excited when it was finally my turn to sign in,” Williams said. “They told me to weigh in and I was like 20 pounds above the weight limit and I was really sad because they sent me home and I couldn’t play anymore. It was kind of a turning point, I felt like it pushed me even harder to be the best that I could be when I finally got to play.”

And now he can afford a pretty sweet ride for being bigger and better than most people his age.

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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: May 1, 2015, 11:23 pm

Want to see tomorrow's stars experience their first big moment in the NFL? Join us Saturday at noon ET for rounds 4-7.

As you watch, make sure to follow along with our Twitter tracker which will bring you the best analysis from the Yahoo Sports stable of NFL writers.

Want to see the full list of which players have been selected? Check it out here on Yahoo Sports.

 

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: May 1, 2015, 11:08 pm

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Tom Brady made waves in 2000 when the pale-skinned, skinny-legged sixth-round pick approached New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and made a bold proclamation.

"I'm the best decision this organization has ever made," Brady said, which shocked Kraft at the time.

Turns out, Brady was right. Others have since boldly gone where Brady went and failed. But what about Patriots first-rounder Malcom Brown? The Texas defensive tackle did his best Brady impression and made a bold guarantee when asked what Pats fans should expect from him.

"Y'all about to get the best player y'all have ever drafted so just be ready for when I touch the field," Brown said, per CSNNE.com.

If they weren't ready before, they are now.

This is hilarious bravado for any 32nd overall pick (as in, almost second round) going to any team, but being drafted by the Patriots takes it to a whole other level. Not just surpassing Brady, as his promise would appear to suggest, but he has a long way to go before he even can be considered the franchise's best defensive player.

You have to love the kid's confidence. But, um, Mr. Brown, can you play a few games first? What worked for Brady hasn't always worked for others.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 1, 2015, 6:33 pm

The first round of the NFL draft is completed, but teams are just getting started.

There is plenty of talent to be found in the second and third days of the draft, of course. Here are some players who, in my film study leading up to the draft, jumped out to me as some possible late-round gems. Here they are, in no particular order:

Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington

Kikaha is a perfect example of the players I put on this list. He’s a guy I knew nothing about when I started watching film on him. Now, I think he might be the most natural pass rusher in the draft.

He’s not an explosive athlete the way some guys who went high in the draft are. But he’s a player who sacks the quarterback. He’s a fanatical effort player. He’s a lunatic – in a good way.

Kikaha can also drop into coverage or set the edge in the run game. He showed refined and polished hand usage for a college player, great body flexibility, and that allowed him to win quickly and use his closing burst to get to the quarterback.

Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson

Jarrett is a good athlete for his stout body type. He has an excellent combination of initial quickness off the ball, and secondary quickness to make plays. He played with good leverage, light feet and competitive effort.

Jarrett’s explosive quickness leads me to believe he can be more than a rotational defensive tackle in the NFL. He has the needed skill set to develop into a quality pass rusher, and if he can do that he could become a similar player to Geno Atkins. Jarrett may be one of my favorite prospects at any position in this draft class.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

Diggs will likely began his NFL career as a slot receiver, but he has the movement and route quickness to develop into an outside receiver. He is a multi-dimensional receiver who can align anywhere in the formation; he can be a movement receiver in an NFL offense.

He catches the ball easily, exploded out of his cuts with easy acceleration, showed a nice feel for route running and has excellent run-after-catch quickness with some natural wiggle and elusiveness – he has a little Percy Harvin-type movement.

Can Diggs develop into an Antonio Brown-type of receiver with experience and coaching? Don’t forget, Brown was a sixth-round pick.

Matt Jones, RB, Florida

Jones has excellent size at more than 6-2 and 230 pounds, and he has a strong lower body. He’s not a shifty and elusive runner, but a hard downhill runner who attacks the point of attack with velocity.

He ran with urgency and kept his feet moving through contact. He will not make defenders miss in space but by no means a plodding straight-line stiff runner. Jones may be the toughest inside runner in this draft class with natural power and tremendous determination. Jones will not be for everybody, but teams that feature the run game as their offensive foundation will see tremendous value in him. There’s always room for a sustaining, move-the-chains back in the NFL.

Darius Philon, DT, Arkansas

Philon is light on experience, with just 18 college starts, but on film he showed disruptive traits with his combination of hand and foot quickness. There’s a lot to work with when it comes to his skill set.

The more I watched the more I saw the kind of quickness and short-area burst off the ball that transitions well to the NFL. He flashed the ability to get skinny off the ball and defeat angle blocks with excellent short-area quickness. He is not yet the inside pass rusher his athletic ability and movement suggests he can become. That might be due to lack of experience.

Philon is arguably one of the best “3 technique” prospects in this draft class and could become a very good NFL player.

Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers

Kroft has the speed and movement to be effective as a receiver from the slot, and even split wide outside the numbers. At the same time, he is a very willing and effective line-of-scrimmage blocker in the run game. He’s competitive and a finisher. His tenacity and ability to block defensive ends one-on-one will translate well to the NFL.

In Kroft I saw a potential big-time tight end talent. He had some movement similarities to Zach Ertz but is a much better and more competitive blocker.

Terrence Magee, RB, LSU

Magee is another downhill power runner. He is not overly shifty or elusive but flashed a darting style that at times made defenders miss in the open field. Magee ran with a lot of energy and velocity. I liked his competitiveness and inside toughness.

I think Magee has chance to be a very good complementary back in the NFL with his powerful running style and receiving ability.

Rob Havenstein, OT, Wisconsin

The massive prospect fits the profile of a Wisconsin tackle: Fundamentally sound with consistent execution, with an overall efficiency to his play that showed snap after snap.

He’s a physical, efficient drive blocker in the run game. He also was used as a puller at times in the run game, with the ability to move and strike. He also had good balance and body control in pass protection.

There is a desirable combination of size, length, feet, balance and body control; the attributes you look for in an NFL right tackle. He has the look of an NFL right tackle who will start early in his career, play for 10 years and have a successful career as a fixture at right tackle.

Tony Lippett, WR, Michigan State

Lippett is a big, fluid receiver with a refined sense of route running from the “X” position. He showed a good feel for how to run routes and set up corners, especially at the intermediate level.

He is not an explosive mover, but effective and consistent. Route quickness is one of the strengths of his game; he’s very deceptive with movement and his ability to win at the top of his routes. He also showed the consistent ability to snatch the ball away from his body, with strong hands and a wide catching radius.

He had some similarities to Brandon LaFell in terms of size and movement. He can be a quality possession-type receiver.

JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas

Shepherd made the switch from receiver to corner before his sophomore season, so he doesn’t have a lot of experience. But he is a very comfortable press-man corner, and played with patience and control, staying balanced with excellent body control.

Shepherd has quick feet in his back pedal in press man with fluid hips to turn and transition efficiently. He showed natural awareness on when to look back for the ball on vertical routes out of press man coverage, and had an excellent feel for the timing of vertical routes. The question with him is vertical speed and if he can run with the NFL’s faster receivers.

Overall he is one of the most natural and comfortable press man corners in the draft, with a lot of room to improve given his lack of corner experience. He will only get better and could end up being one of the best corners to emerge from this draft class.

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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: May 1, 2015, 4:22 pm

You just knew the Angry Twitter Mob was going to overreact to Jameis Winston's crab legs photo on Thursday night.

It was funny, but who cares because there was something to overreact about on social media. Everyone knows the origin: Winston got caught walking out of a Publix supermarket with crab legs. He later said that an employee promised to hook him up with free food. Publix denied that's the case. It's not the best look for Winston, though it's also not an issue worth months of outrage either. 

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So on Thursday night, from his draft party, he posted a photo that has since been taken down after there was negative reaction. But of course, everything lives forever on the Internet.

Jameis Winston celebrates NFL Draft with crab legs. Of course he does. http://t.co/f2jf9yipCj pic.twitter.com/VGUOpY14VG

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) May 1, 2015

Why this has become a deal is strange, but even stranger when you hear the explanation from Yahoo Sports' Shaun King. King explained the backstory behind the photo in a series of tweets.

I was seated at the table right next to jameis at the mike alstott charity auction, when captain keith asked jameis to help him auction off

— shaun king (@realshaunking) May 1, 2015

This huge king crab he had flown in for the event. Captain keith is from the deadliest catch show. I wasnt sure how jameis was gonna

— shaun king (@realshaunking) May 1, 2015

Handle the request, but it didnt faze the young man at all he simply said ok sure, we r here to help the alstott foundation right.

— shaun king (@realshaunking) May 1, 2015

That same captain keith in a gesture of thanks sent jameis and his family 25lbs of king crabs legs for his draft event last night.

— shaun king (@realshaunking) May 1, 2015

So there you go. It's not really worth getting worked up about.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 3:17 pm

It's pretty clear that Adrian Peterson is going to play for the Minnesota Vikings or sit on his couch this fall. Peterson's agent knows it too.

The first round of the NFL draft came and went without Peterson being dealt, which wasn't a major surprise. Unless the Vikings sell low when they don't have to or someone gets really creative, the Peterson trade talk speculation is over. He'll be a Viking in 2015.

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Ben Dogra, who has made a bit of a spectacle of himself as the Peterson saga has played out this offseason, now is very impressed that the Vikings didn't trade Peterson (huh?) and just wants a new contract from the Vikings (ohhhhhh).

"One of the things that I appreciate with the Vikings is their resolve to say 'we're not trading him,'" Dogra told Tom Pelissero of USA Today. "That tells me they value him not only as a football player, but what he's done for the organization.

"I actually, as an agent, not only appreciate it — I accept it. But actions speak louder than words. If that's going to happen, and you want to keep him, then show him a commitment to make him retire as a Viking. And I haven't had that solution."

I'm not an NFL player or an NFL agent, but I assume a certain NFL team would figure that cutting checks for Peterson to make a $12.75 million base salary this season is a pretty decent commitment. Why they'd need to tack on extra years to their 30-year-old running back to placate him seems odd. They gave Peterson an $86 million deal in 2011. They've shown a ton of commitment that way.

Peterson's agent seems to be searching for something to bring to Peterson to claim victory, but he still hasn't generated much leverage. All Peterson can do is sit out, and it's really hard to believe he'd pass up that paycheck at age 30.

Peterson will be playing with the Vikings this year, it appears. One would assume he'll be doing so with the same great contract he already had. There doesn't seem to be a good reason for any of that to change.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 2:56 pm

When you have Andrew Luck, you buy him all the toys he wants.

The Indianapolis Colts are going to keep Luck happy. He now has what is likely the deepest receiving corps in the NFL after the Colts took electric receiver Phillip Dorsett from Miami in the first round.

The Colts have other needs. The defensive line needs work. Their safety position is thin. Running back still isn’t all that good. Dorsett, who is a very explosive receiver, was a luxury pick. But giving Luck the best set of targets in the league isn’t a bad idea. The Carolina Panthers, who have severely underserved Cam Newton through his career, could take a hint.

Dorsett landing in Indianapolis was the last first-round piece of what looks like another great class of receivers. It’ll be hard to top last year’s group, but many of this year’s first-round receivers landed in great spots for instant success.

Dorsett got with the NFL’s best young quarterback.

Breshad Perriman, who has sub-4.3 40 speed, was picked by the Baltimore Ravens and will catch strong-armed Joe Flacco’s deep throws (what a fun fit that is). 

Nelson Agholor should play a lot from Day 1 in the Philadelphia Eagles’ up-tempo offense.

DeVante Parker gets to play with the Miami Dolphins. The steady development of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, given all the quarterback problems in the NFL, has been severely ignored. That’s a great landing spot for the 14th pick.

And of course, fourth pick Amari Cooper will be Derek Carr’s No. 1 target for years to come with the Oakland Raiders and lightning-fast Kevin White matches up with one thing Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler does well, which is throw deep.

All six receivers drafted in the first round landed in pretty advantageous spots. Any of them have a chance to gain 1,000 yards as a rookie, unless someone like Dorsett gets overshadowed fighting T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief for targets. And there are other talented receivers like Ohio State’s Devin Smith and former Missouri standout Dorial Green-Beckham who could be great second-round values on Friday.

It looks like another great year for rookie receivers is coming. And Luck is a very, very happy man.

Here are the other winners and some losers from the first round of the NFL draft:

WINNERS

Jay Cutler

Cutler keeps getting chances. Good ones, too.

ESPN had a report before the draft that the Bears were trying to get the second pick from Tennessee, presumably to draft quarterback Marcus Mariota. The report said the Titans didn’t want Cutler. There was no trade.

So not only did Cutler stick with the Bears, but he got a huge upgrade to his receiving corps when the Bears took White with the seventh pick. The Bears could have gone in many directions with that pick, especially with new defensive-minded coach John Fox. But instead of going in that direction, the Bears again made a move to get Cutler over a hump that he’s been unable to get over for his first nine NFL seasons.

If Cutler continues to be mediocre with the Bears, he can’t say it’s because they didn’t do enough to help him.

Dallas Cowboys and their restraint

Last year the flashy first-round pick for the Cowboys would have been Johnny Manziel. They took guard Zack Martin. That boring pick became an All-Pro as a rookie.

The headline-grabbing pick this year would have been a running back. Any running back. Someone to replace DeMarco Murray. There’s really nobody on the roster now who is all too enticing for that role. But the Cowboys didn’t reach. They took cornerback Byron Jones of Connecticut, a very athletic player who fills another big need that’s tougher to fill.

The Cowboys get made fun of for making impulse buys. But that didn’t happen on Thursday. They’ll get a running back at some point. They just didn’t reach for one in the first round.

Minnesota Vikings

They could move to the losers category tomorrow, especially if they trade Adrian Peterson on the cheap after the first round has passed. But the Vikings never seemed to want to trade Peterson and didn’t give in to pressure to do so. They’re a better team in 2015 because of it – and they might be pretty good.

The Vikings have to worry about Peterson being happy, but it’s not like the star running back has any leverage. He’s not sitting out another year and passing up more than $12 million in salary. He’ll play. The Vikings are better off for it. That’s a win for them.

Bud Dupree and the Pittsburgh Steelers

Of all 32 picks made on Thursday night, I thought that the Steelers might have made the best one when value and need are factored in.

The Steelers needed an outside linebacker to replace the retired Jason Worilds. And Dupree fell in their laps.

“We didn’t expect Bud Dupree to be there,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said, according to the team's website. “That was a very easy selection. As we say all of the time we are never going to lock ourselves into any position. We want good football players and Bud Dupree certainly fits that category. 

“This is a gift for us to be able to get this guy at 22.”

Every coach and GM say some version of that after the first round, but I believe Colbert is being sincere. Not many players like Dupree, who ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 42 inches at 269 pounds, last until the 22nd pick. Dupree isn’t just a workout warrior; he was a player who did everything Kentucky asked, and the Wildcats asked him to do a lot. The Steelers have many options with him. And Dupree gets to start his career with a great organization that knows a few things about defensive football. He’ll be part of an outstanding linebacking corps.

The Steelers were a very good team by the end of last year. They somehow added an instant impact player with the 22nd pick.

LOSERS

Tennessee Titans

If Marcus Mariota is a Pro Bowl-level quarterback for the Titans, then that’s all that matters. That’s the most important position and it’s not easy to find. The Titans will ultimately be winners.

But the Titans passed up a lot to take Mariota.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Eagles offered two first-round picks, a third-round pick, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, cornerback Brandon Boykin and “more” to the Titans. That is a lot. Like … an insane amount. Cox, Kendricks and Boykin are all young defenders who would either start right away or contribute plenty. (A few reports on Friday, including The MMQB's Peter King and Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane, said players were never involved in the offer but the Eagles would have had to offer more than three first-round picks to move up.) And the Titans did have a young quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, who showed some good things as a rookie last year. Tennessee could have justified taking the mega-offer and rolling with Mettenberger for one more year. 

Again, if Mariota turns out to be an elite quarterback, then it doesn’t matter. The Titans won’t have any regrets. But it’ll be hard for the Titans to forget what they passed up if he doesn’t.

Zac Stacy

Stacy rushed for 973 yards as a Rams rookie in 2013, a pretty promising start to his career. Then the Rams drafted Tre Mason, who took his starting spot. And then after the Rams drafted Todd Gurley, Stacy sent out the sad panda tweet of the night, sending out a simple "Yikes" right after Gurley was drafted. He deleted the tweet shortly after sending it.

Stacy is like many players around the league. Mike Glennon's shot at ever starting for Tampa Bay is over now that the Buccaneers officially drafted Jameis Winston. The same goes for Mettenberger. Branden Oliver had a nice rookie season at running back for the Chargers but now Melvin Gordon is in town. Many others effectively lost their jobs on Thursday. That's the flip side to all the excitement from the NFL's newest first-round picks.

Cleveland Browns

I should be excited about the Browns, who made two first-round picks. And they probably ended up with two good players, as they should. But it still feels a bit underwhelming.

They reportedly were after the No. 2 pick and quarterback Marcus Mariota, and that didn’t happen. They were reportedly going for quarterback Sam Bradford, and that didn’t happen (truthfully though, that might be for the best). Nose tackle Danny Shelton was a fine value pick, and should help stop the run. Picking Florida State center Cameron Erving pick wasn’t too splashy, to say the least.

The Browns are apparently prepared to lose center Alex Mack, who has been one of their best players. He’s coming off a broken leg, but a year ago the Browns thought it wise to match the Jacksonville Jaguars’ five-year, $42 million offer sheet to Mack. He can opt out of that after this season. It’s hard to be too excited when you used the 19th pick to essentially replace one of your best players because you think he’s going to leave. A much-needed young receiver would have been pretty nice instead, for example.

Erving might be a fine player. But he will just replace Mack in a year, it appears. It’s hard to get too excited about that scenario.

Shane Ray jokes

Oh, Twitter sure had jokes when Shane Ray was drafted by the Denver Broncos. You see, Ray was cited for marijuana possession earlier this week. Marijuana is legal in Colorado. You see where this is going. Guffaw, guffaw.

Marijuana use is not legal in the NFL, so it’s not like it really matters to Ray where he went. But it is a curious pick by the Broncos. Ray has a toe injury that he described as being a variation of turf toe "on the serious side." That could hinder him as a rookie. The Broncos are in extreme must-win mode with the clock ticking on Peyton Manning. Ray was a good value at No. 23 (the Broncos traded up to get him) but he also doesn’t appear to be a player who will make a huge impact in 2015, especially with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware at outside linebacker. The player is good but the fit seems a bit odd.

La’el Collins and NFL teams who had to guess on him

LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins hasn’t been named a suspect in the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Mills, who was pregnant when she was killed. Authorities in Louisiana are questioning him. None of us know if he’s innocent or guilty.

If he has nothing to do with that tragic incident, then he just lost a lot of money and had what should have been a highlight day in his life ruined.

Collins asked to be put into the supplemental draft so he could have time to clear his name, which seemed like an easy solution for everyone involved, but that was denied. After that, it wasn’t a surprise at all he fell out of the first round. There’s too much uncertainty. Who knows when he might get drafted. 

With every team that took a tackle in the middle of the first round, you had to wonder if Collins would have been the pick if not for this issue. There were seven offensive linemen taken in the first round. Would he have been the Bengals pick at No. 21? The Cardinals at No. 24? Would he have been picked by a team that went in another direction because Collins was untouchable? Perhaps.

If Collins is found guilty of being involved in the slightest in the tragic shooting, then clearly nobody should or will feel sorry for his draft stock falling. That’s obvious. But what if he wasn’t?

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 4:57 am

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 30: Laken Tomlinson of the Duke Blue Devils holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #28 overall by the Detroit Lions during the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)The first night of the 2015 NFL draft lacked for drama and high-profile trades, so it fell to a Duke medical student to provide one of the night's better moments.

Laken Tomlinson, an offensive lineman from Duke, is now a member of the Lions after Detroit traded down from the 23rd to the 28th pick. A first-team All-American this past year, Tomlinson is expected to help shore up an offensive line that desperately needs to protect quarterback Matt Stafford.

But Tomlinson's position isn't the best part of his story; how he got to this point is. He arrived in America from Jamaica at age 10, and grew 7 inches and 80 pounds in his first year here. He would take multiple buses and trains in Chicago to get to high school, traveling the same roads he followed on Thursday to arrive at the NFL's draft central. Once at Duke, he dove into the medical field, shadowing neurosurgeons at Duke University Hospital even as he practiced football.

"Obviously, with concussions and concussion research, there's a lot going on right now," Tomlinson told The Associated Press. "Having the knowledge I have right now, I'm still in love with the game."

Tomlinson earned what he has, but he's driven to do more. He lost his grandfather, an inspiration, when he was in 10th grade, and Tomlinson never got over the fact that his grandfather might not have died had he had more access to better medical care. So while football is going to be a profitable, if not necessarily pleasant, distraction for Tomlinson, his real work still lies ahead.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 1, 2015, 4:38 am

CHICAGO — For Kevin White, he kept coming back in his mind to the Chicago Bears.

Was it coincidence that White shared an agent with Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery, who kept telling the West Virginia wideout his team was trying to draft him?

Was there some cosmic weirdness in the air when former Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, who was shipped out of town this offseason to the New York Jets for nickels on the dollar, befriended White last season?

Whatever was in the air, it all came together in his new professional city when the Bears selected White No. 7 overall. White said he felt all along that was the place he'd end up being taken.

"I'm glad my intuition was right on that," he said.

Coming out of high school, White was unwanted by Division I schools. After a stint at Lackawanna Junior College, he had to beg colleges to take a look at him, sending more than 250 emails to schools, even if they hadn't shown any interest. The schools showing the most interest then: Hawaii, Bowling Green, Texas Tech and WVU.

The Mountaineers were the choice, as much for geography as anything, and he struggled through a 4-8 season in 2013 in which White showed potential with a few big plays but largely was unknown on the college football circuit.

Then 2014 happened. He exploded out of the gates with eight straight 100-yard games and attracted the attention of Larry Fitzgerald on Twitter and Marshall, who somehow got White's cell number ("I have no idea how," he said Thursday) and said, "It's your boy, B-Marsh." They became fast friends.

So, any awkwardness for White considering he's essentially replacing Marshall opposite Jeffery in the Bears' new offense?

"Well, it might be a little weird," White said. "But I am sure he's happy for me. I am just happy to be here and [I'm] not trying to replace anyone. I am just trying to be myself."

Bears fans who filled the stands of the Auditorim Theatre for Thursday's first round flooded White with love after the pick was made, mobbing him for congratulations and begging him for autographs. He was having a hard time getting anywhere in the packed building or communicating with his crew of 50 or more family and friends. 

But White made sure to point out that the fame that comes with being the seventh pick in the draft will not make the humble, charismatic and affable White, who said he took pride in having to work extra hard for everything he's earned as a football player, any different of a person.

"I don't care how many girls will want me now," White said, "I am going to be the same guy."

And if the same guy we saw on the field comes to Chicago, the Bears will have a great passing attack with Jeffery and White, plus Eddie Royal in the slot, Matt Forte out of the backfield and Marquess Wilson as the No. 4 wideout.

“I want to prove a lot of people wrong,” White said. “High school coaches, people that didn’t give me a fair shot. I love this. It’s a dream come true.”

Even Marshall couldn't hide his excitement on Twitter.

Man look how things work out baby bro. #Chicago you have a MONSTER. Follow my baby boy.. . Great… https://t.co/Fb5sLSLlyZ

— Machine Marshall (@BMarshall) May 1, 2015

Strange symmetry for a player in White whose football career to date has been anything but linear.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 1, 2015, 4:36 am

 

 

CHICAGO — The days of the NFL draft solely consisting of 32 team tables, Mel Kiper’s set and a few thousand fans sitting inside New York’s Radio City Music Hall are dead.

Well, maybe not officially, but you certainly got the feeling a eulogy was in order after strolling down Michigan Avenue on Thursday afternoon to see thousands of football fans waiting to enter a mammoth football party in Grant Park called “Draft Town.”

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Once inside the free event, fans were greeted by a scene that was part-streetfest, part-rock concert, and part-tradeshow. That the first-round picks were being called across the street inside Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre seemed only incidental to the entire scene.

Which, of course, is exactly how the NFL likely wanted it. When the league uprooted its selection show from New York for the first time in 50 years and moved it to Chicago this weekend, part of the reason was that it could stage a big expo in its own name and extend its brand past the fans crazy, silly and/or stupid enough to sit in a theater to watch names being announced for hours at a time.

And stage that expo they did in a scene that could be replicated in other cities in future springs. Los Angeles has been mentioned as a likely second stop on this tour and it’s not hard to imagine Super Bowl-style bidding if the first few versions prove as popular as the debut in Chicago seemed. The NFL, after all, has never passed up an opportunity to cram as much spectacle into its product as possible. Why confine itself to a Big Apple theater in a city where the draft is just one of the many interesting things going on?

So what was in this “Draft Town?”

There was “Selection Square,” a temporary amphitheatre of sorts that housed the picks table for every team and served as the spot where commissioner Roger Goodell announced Jameis Winston as the top pick. (Proving they were up to the challenge, Chicagoans loudly booed Goodell from both the park and inside the theater.)

There was a skills exhibition where fans could kick field goals, measure their broad jump and race against a life-sized video of draft prospects in the 40-yard dash. A skydiving “Sweetness” simulator advertised the ability to know what it was like to be Walter Payton sailing over a pile of tacklers at the goal line.

There were tents for all 32 teams where a crowd that sported a surprisingly wide array of jerseys could view memorabilia and other items of interest. Grouped by division, the popularity of the Cowboys area dwarfed that of the nearby Giants, Redskins and Eagles.

Finally — and this is probably not surprising — there were plenty of places to spend money. The line for the NFL shop was the longest in the park. The queue for $7 beers and $6 Billy Goat double cheeseburgers was sizable as well.

In the middle of it all stood a cigar-chomping Mike Ditka impersonator named Ray Hart who posed for pictures wearing the familiar Bears sweater vest, sport coat and sunglasses.

“You’d be surprised at how many people think I’m the real thing until I take off the glasses or break character,” Hart said. “Especially when I go to [Ditka’s] restaurant dressed like this.”

It wouldn't be a draft in Chicago without a Ditka impersonator. pic.twitter.com/FocqyDYByS

— Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk) April 30, 2015

For this first-time draft attendee, the atmosphere and traffic outside was preferable to the scene inside the Auditorium Theatre at the actual draft. While Chicago fans got sufficiently amped for the Bears’ selection of West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White with the seventh selection, the rest of the night was mostly quiet with most fans coming to the sobering realization they were attending a TV event with no access to a TV (not unlike an actual NFL game itself).

The absence of the night’s two biggest stars — quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — didn’t help matters either. But build this entire event big enough while providing fans an excuse to come together and talk football in the spring and the rest won’t matter as much. If not all NFL fans are enamored with watching the drafting of relatively anonymous college players, then the league will attract fans by celebrating the game and the draft themselves.

It’s a simple concept and one that worked pretty well in the Windy City on Thursday. It was enough to make the days of the relatively small gatherings in New York seem like a thing of the past.

Author: Kevin Kaduk
Posted: May 1, 2015, 4:18 am

Introducing the first alternate uniform in team history. #49ersRGBhttp://t.co/LqWbZcA2Mm pic.twitter.com/sSfLHO3DFN

— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) May 1, 2015

For the first time in their storied history, the San Francisco 49ers will run out alternate uniforms: all-black with red numbers and gold helmets. We can quibble about the fashion merits of the uniforms (the black-as-tough trend seems about 15 years out of date, but whatever), but what's a bit peculiar is that the 49ers announced the change smack-dab in the middle of perhaps the busiest non-game day of the entire year.

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As the opening picks of the first round of the NFL draft played out, the 49ers posted the above image and a hype video to Twitter. Were the uniforms starting to leak, or were the 49ers trying to grab a little extra juice? Whichever, the secret is out now. 

So, thoughts? Cool unis or no?

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 1, 2015, 4:11 am

CHICAGO — With a strange and unpredictable Round 1 in the books, there's plenty to talk about with Thursday's NFL draft selections — many of them off the wall. But it's never too early to gaze forward to what should be an interesting Day 2 that is still rife with quality players available ... and why they're still available.

Taking LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins and his unusual situation out of the mix of this consideration, most of the top talent available appears to be on the defensive side of the ball. Even with Jameis Winston, Marcus Peters and Shane Ray going in the first 23 picks, it's clear that teams valued character seriously on Thursday.

Our top 10 best-remaining players include a few players who were taken off teams' boards — either for Round 1 consideration or altogether — with serious red flags for their off-field indiscretions. Here's our list: 

Nebraska DE-OLB Randy Gregory — Electric edge rusher who has had trouble keeping on weight and likely projects best to a 3-4 defense. He could be special if he keeps out of trouble and proves to his next team that's he's accountable and trustworthy.

Virginia DE-OLB Eli Harold — Thin-legged edge rusher with good burst off the ball and a frame that could handle more bulk in time. He brings energy to the field and would be an ideal 3-4 outside rusher.

Alabama FS Landon Collins — Athletically gifted, bulked up safety who can't play in space as well as he can up near the line of scrimmage. Those limitations likely are the reason he slid out of Round 1, but he could be a good player if used correctly.

Florida State DT Eddie Goldman — Bull-strong nose tackle or 1-technique who can play with force and leverage and should fit into most schemes. Goldman never will be a big sack producer, but he can block out the sun with his mass and be a factor stopping the run.

Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong — Linear "X" receiver with strong hands and good route-running and high-point ability. Similar to Jordan Matthews a year ago, Strong could end up being a Day 1 starter in the NFL and productive in the right system.

LSU CB Jalen Collins — Long-armed, super athletic press corner with some character concerns and limited experience (10 college starts).

UCLA LB Eric Kendricks — Excitable, playmaking linebacker who overcomes his size deficiencies with high effort and outstanding instincts. But Kendricks must be covered up and can't shed blocks against powerful offensive linemen that well.

Mississippi CB Senquez Golson — Undersized playmaker who has great ball skills and terrific confidence. A true game-changer if he can play in a scheme where he's not asked to match up, one on one, against massive receivers.

ex-Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham — Athletically blessed, mercurial, unreliable receiver with rare gifts and top-10 ability. His short, occasionally brilliant and often frustrating career at Mizzou showed both his potential as a receiver and his need to mature greatly.

Indiana RB Tevin Coleman — Straight-line home-run hitter who has great toughness and workhorse traits and can thrive in the right system. Behind a bad offensive line and with few playmakers around him, Coleman was a weekly wonder for the Hoosiers.

Gregory (positive drug test prior to the scouting combine), Jalen Collins (multiple failed drug tests in college) and Green-Beckham (kicked out of Mizzou following domestic abuse allegations) all had first-round physical traits and rare measurables for their respective positions. But their character issues knocked them down into a range where teams are more comfortable rolling the dice on players.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 1, 2015, 3:56 am

Jameis Winston crab legs (via Instagram)
Jameis Winston was the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft, and he accepted the honor with humility and a recognition of the difficulties he's had in his past.

Kidding! He posted a photo on Instagram of himself celebrating with Tampa Bay Bucs gear and, yes, crab legs. The same seafood that got him into so much trouble a few months back when he may or may not have swiped said crab legs from a Tallahassee Publix grocery store.

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Winston may or may not be a successful pro quarterback; he's got plenty of knocks against him both on and off the field. But in the category of Trolling The Haters, Winston is already elite.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 1, 2015, 3:53 am

Not only was there one running back selected in the first round of the NFL draft, there were two to go in the top 15.

And the San Diego Chargers obviously don't buy that the running back position is being devalued, because they gave up a fourth-round pick this season and a fifth-round pick in 2016 to trade up from 17 to 15 to get Gordon. The Houston Texans had the 16th pick and obviously the Chargers were worried that Gordon, who almost broke Barry Sanders' single-season rushing record at Wisconsin last season, wouldn't be there after the Texans picked. Gordon had 2,587 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns last season.

The Chargers have a lot more certainty at running back now. Ryan Mathews signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but even though he is very talented he couldn't stay healthy. Branden Oliver played well last season when Mathews was hurt, but he doesn't have the pedigree of Gordon, a Heisman Trophy finalist.

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Having a productive running back will help the Chargers offense, and Philip Rivers in particular. He won't be asked to do it all himself, because presumably the Chargers really like Gordon if they were willing to give up two picks to go get him. He'll get plenty of carries, and has to be considered one of the early favorites to win NFL offensive rookie of the year, considering that fellow running back Todd Gurley (who was the 10th pick to the St. Louis Rams) will be returning from knee surgery.

No running back was taken in the first round in 2013 or 2014. The Chargers obviously don't feel that it's a bad idea to invest in a running back in this era, because they paid a decent price to make sure they got the back they coveted.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 1:56 am

Coming into the NFL draft, much of the early talk surrounded the decisions of Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper to skip the festivities and, with them, the opportunity to meet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell onstage.

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When the Cleveland Browns took Washington DT Danny Shelton at No. 12, Shelton, dressed in traditional Samoan garb and couldn't contain his enthusiasm. He grabbed Goodell in a bear hug and lifted him off the ground, exulting in the moment.

No, Shelton didn't plant the commish into the stage. But he did get flagged for unnecessary roughness. Kidding. Maybe. (And the commish has to elude defenses better than that. Head on a swivel, Roger.)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 1, 2015, 1:53 am

The running back draft streak is over. And maybe a little sooner than expected. Definitely to a team nobody expected.

The St. Louis Rams, with the 10th pick of the draft, selected Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Gurley is the first running back to go in the first round since 2012. It was a bit of a surprise because it wasn’t a need for the Rams.

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The Rams drafted Tre Mason last season to replace 2013 Zac Stacy, who had a promising rookie season. Mason had a promising rookie season as well. But apparently the Rams thought Gurley was the best player on the board and was too good to pass up. It says something about Gurley's talent that he didn't fall out of the first round even though he tore his ACL in November.

"It has been a long journey," Gurley said to ESPN, choking up as he spoke.

Gurley should be productive as soon as he's healthy. Stacy was as a rookie. Mason was as a rookie. And Gurley is clearly more talented than either. He might be the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. NFL Films' Greg Cosell said Gurley was arguably the best prospect in the entire draft. Obviously the Rams were very high on him, to select him even though it wasn't a position of need.

Stacy seemed to understand, right after the Gurley pick was made, that he had just dropped another spot on the depth chart.

Yikes

— Zac Stacy (@ZSTACY_) May 1, 2015

Gurley was the obvious bet to break the drought of running backs not being taken in the first round. Before 2013, the last time a running back wasn’t taken in the first round of the NFL draft was 1963. Then 2013 and 2014 came and went and no backs were taken in the first round. But neither of those draft classes had a player of Gurley's talent level.

Gurley doesn’t come without any risk. Although many backs come back from ACL injuries with no problem, it's no guarantee. While Gurley has been positive about how quickly he can come back, the Miami Herald wrote he will likely miss the first month of the season. That might even be smart, because rushing him back could affect him over the long term.

The Rams have the depth to let Gurley come back slowly. But having drafted him so early, obviously the Rams plan to feature him as the foundation of their offense as soon as he's ready for it.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 1:23 am

You had one job, sir.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has had a bit of a rough year, entered the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago with a card holding the Tennessee Titans' pick in his hand. It wasn't like the name on that card was a surprise; we'd been hearing about Marcus Mariota as a top NFL prospect for months.

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And yet, and yet ... when Goodell announced the pick, it was "Marcus Mariato."

So either he flubbed the name or some dude somewhere named Marcus Mariato just got pressed into quarterback service. (Which would be just great.)

Ah, well. If this is the worst thing that happens to Goodell THIS year, we're sure he'll take it.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 1, 2015, 12:49 am

CHICAGO — Chip Kelly might have a few awkward conversations lined up.

With rumors circulating that Kelly was ready to ship half of eastern Pennsylvania to the Tennessee Titans for the right to move up to No. 2 and ostensibly pick Marcus Mariota, no deal was struck. The Titans stood pat and took Mariota themselves.

And these were not just draft picks the Eagles were reportedly offering. They let several players twist in the wind Thursday night:

What package are #Eagles talking about to go to No. 1 or No. 2? Two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, Fletcher Cox, Boykin, Kendricks, more. Wow.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2015

And that "more" might have included Sam Bradford, the quarterback Kelly acquired several weeks ago but has been held ransom by the fact that the Eagles have shown little effort to extend his contract and have yet to sell his jersey in the team's pro shop.

In lieu of "Bradford" jerseys, the team should sell ones that read: "Not Mariota." They might sell.

That's what Thursday's disappointment felt like for the Eagles, who tried like heck to land Kelly's former pupil at Oregon. But was not landing Mariota a good thing?

Trading three key defenders, three high picks and — maybe — a starting type of quarterback in Bradford, all for the right to land a college spread passer who is far from a sure thing, even if he had landed in the spot that felt most natural for him to thrive, under Kelly's guidance ... it just felt reckless.

They say no price is too high for a great QB. If he works out, it's worth it, right?

For the Eagles, they likely won't find out, as trading Mariota's rights to Philadelphia doesn't appear to be any type of likelihood now. 

Of course, Kelly denied that any Eagles players were involved; he said their offer to the Titans was only for draft picks. Whether or not that's true, Kelly might be depressed. But in the long run, the Eagles' misfire might end up being a smart move. After all, they still have a defense.

Can Bradford thrive there? Is he part of some other Kelly-hatched maneuver? Anything that happens now might be a letdown, but sometimes the best trades are the ones teams don't make. Just ask the 2012 Washington Redskins and their choice of RGIII.

The night in Philly was more about not getting Mariota than it was about taking USC's Nelson Agholor, who is a fantastic prospect and might be a great replacement for Jeremy Maclin. But it sure doesn't feel like anyone's celebrating that possibility now.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: May 1, 2015, 12:45 am

The Oakland Raiders have a tough history this century at the NFL draft.

The list of picks made after the Raiders' first-round pick is incredible, including Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson. And their 2015 pick will be questioned as well.

When the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted outside linebacker Dante Fowler with the third pick, right after quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went with the first two selections, USC defensive end Leonard Williams fell to the Raiders at No. 4. Many consider him the best prospect in the draft (including himself). Instead, the Raiders went with Alabama receiver Amari Cooper. Williams' slide continued when the Washington Redskins took Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff with the fifth pick. Williams finally went sixth to the New York Jets.

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Cooper (who was the third player in the first four picks who did not attend the draft in Chicago), fills a big need as the Raiders build around promising quarterback Derek Carr. Getting Carr some big-time targets is a must, and Cooper was one of the safest picks in the draft, a very productive and polished prospect out of Alabama. It's hard to say the Raiders made a bad pick. And Cooper should be productive right away, assuming Carr continues to build off what he showed as a rookie last season.

But like with previous picks, everyone will keep an eye on what Williams does in his career. If he becomes the dominant defensive force that many think he'll be, there might be some regret in Oakland. Then again, if Cooper helps Carr become the franchise quarterback the Raiders clearly hope he is, that'll be just fine too.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 12:41 am

Of all the crazy scenarios that seemed to be in play for Marcus Mariota and the second pick of the NFL draft, the craziest seemed to be that nothing outlandish would happen.

After all that speculation, the second pick stayed put with the Tennessee Titans.

And for all the talk of where Mariota would land, and the endless rumors about the Philadelphia Eagles selling off the entire franchise to get him, he ended up going with the second pick, right behind Jameis Winston.

The Titans now have a star to build around, something the team sorely lacked. They also lack talent on the roster, so Mariota is going into a tough situation, especially with the big learning curve he faces. The Titans were 2-14 last season. And the Titans will be second-guessed for what they didn’t do with the pick. They drafted Zach Mettenberger last year in the sixth round, and he had a promising rookie season. They could have traded the pick for a lot of pieces or drafted someone like USC defensive end Leonard Williams and tried to see if Mettenberger would develop. They took the Mariota route instead. It was just too hard to pass up the chance to draft a potential franchise quarterback.

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There were rumors for months about where Mariota might land. The Eagles were the most popular rumor due to Chip Kelly’s ties with Mariota dating back to the University of Oregon. The Cleveland Browns were said to have offered two first-round picks to move up to No. 2 to get Mariota. Other teams like the San Diego Chargers were said to be interested in moving up to get Mariota. ESPN reported just before the draft started that the Chicago Bears made a late push to trade for the second selection.

The Eagles were rumored to offer multiple picks and multiple starting-caliber players to the Titans to move up to No. 2 right before the pick. Eagles fans didn't hide their desire before the draft:

Fans changing "Do the deal" at Chip #Eagles https://t.co/y7NZRHDaDD

— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) April 30, 2015

In the end, the pairing of Kelly and Mariota wasn't meant to be.

Mariota is an interesting NFL projection. He comes from a spread offense at Oregon that really doesn’t resemble what he’ll be doing in the NFL. He has a strong arm, is a great athlete and was incredibly productive in college. Those attributes placed him high on draft boards.

And he's going to the team that few expected him to land with, the team that held the second pick all along.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 12:21 am

In the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, three of their quarterbacks have a combined three Pro Bowl appearances: one each for Brad Johnson, Jeff Garcia and Trent Dilfer. Exciting list.

That’s 39 seasons of mostly below average to flat-out terrible quarterback play. How bad is it? Josh Freeman is third all-time in passing yardage in team history. Johnson, by most statistical measures and for being the starting quarterback on a Super Bowl champion, probably has to be considered the greatest Buccaneers quarterback. (The best quarterback to ever play for Tampa Bay was Steve Young, but Young was never good for the Buccaneers in large part because of a terrible supporting cast.)

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The Buccaneers hope their quarterback history started to change on Thursday night, when they made Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the top pick of the 2015 NFL draft.

A lot more has been said about Winston the person rather than Winston the player, and there will be plenty of eyes on Winston to see if any of his off-field red flags hinder his NFL career. But there’s a reason the Buccaneers selected Winston, and that’s to become the greatest quarterback in franchise history, no matter how low that bar has been set over nearly four decades of Bucs football.

Winston gives the Buccaneers hope for the future, and a good reason to be optimistic about the present as well. Tampa Bay had plenty of problems last season despite a talented roster, and not the least of their problems was a really bad season by journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. Winston comes ready to start right out of the box, as a Heisman Trophy winner and national champion who showed plenty of pocket skills. Winston was a big reason the Seminoles were 27-0 with him as a starter before they lost Winston’s final game.

On the flip side, Winston is also seen by some as a possible Jay Cutler-esque player, too prone to mistakes and turnovers to truly unlock his physical potential. He’s not a sure thing like Andrew Luck a few years ago, though in fairness, few prospects are. He’ll be playing behind a bad offensive line. But there was never much doubt Winston would be Tampa Bay’s pick, and for good reason.

Tampa Bay could move up the NFC South in a hurry, considering last year the South was the second division ever to have a champion with a losing record. Tampa Bay has some very good players, especially at wideout, where Winston can throw to giants Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. There’s a chance Tampa Bay could get much better right away. A lot of that will depend on how well Winston plays as a rookie. He’s one of two freshmen in history to win the Heisman, so there’s a track record of instant success.

There was no other real option with the first pick for Tampa Bay, especially once the Bucs said they were comfortable with him off the field. Winston has a tremendous ceiling and he’s less of a project than Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. The Buccaneers, who have never had a quarterback make multiple Pro Bowls for them and have had one Pro Bowl appearance from a quarterback they drafted (Dilfer), are hoping that Winston was a historic pick. With even a little luck, he’ll be the greatest quarterback the franchise has ever had, for what it’s worth.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 1, 2015, 12:12 am

Jameis Winston wanted to have a full NFL draft experience but wanted to spend his big day with his family and friends at home. So, he combined the two.

Every No. 1 overall draft pick since Ohio State defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in 1994 had attended the draft in person. So it's not like there was much of a blueprint on how Winston (the top pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) should handle his hometown draft experience. So the Florida State quarterback started out the festivities by rolling out the red carpet. Literally.

Warchant.com covered the party, held at the house of a family friend in Bessemer, Ala., as did other outlets who took note of the red carpet set up for the day. 

@melissaykim: At Jameis Winston's Draft Day party - posing on the red carpet #JameisDraft2015 pic.twitter.com/hBCbPJ1fwf” // #FamousJameis

— AQ Beckham, Jr. (@Allen_Quincy) April 30, 2015

Jameis posing with little brother Jonah on the red carpet. #JameisDraft2015 @wiat42 pic.twitter.com/ox2KpOPscd

— Melissa Y. Kim (@melissaykim) April 30, 2015

People are likely to get mad about this because it's 2015 and people get mad about everything. But it's pretty cool, Winston doing up draft night on a smaller scale with his family and friends. He wasn't at the draft in Chicago, but it's a huge day in his life and he brought some of the spectacle home to Alabama. Good for him.

"As long as the people are enjoying it, I'm good," Winston's father Antonor told Warchant.com. "That's why Jameis stayed home. For his family and for his friends."

The main reason Winston said he wanted to have a draft party at home was to be with his grandmother Myrtle, who has diabetes and can't travel. She was there with him on Thursday.

In hours before NFL draft, Jameis Winston enjoys down-home party with close friends, family. https://t.co/j2lKBFhOn8 pic.twitter.com/D3xWOlOvCb

— Warchant.com (@Warchant) April 30, 2015

Warchant.com said there were about 100 family members at friends at the gathering. Fried fish, hamburgers and hot dogs, French fries, baked beans and coleslaw were served, Warchant said. It was a casual affair it seemed, red carpet excluded.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 30, 2015, 10:56 pm

The NFL rejected a request from LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins to be removed from the draft and considered for the supplemental draft, ESPN's Adam Scheffter reported on Thursday.

NFL rejected La'el Collins' request to be removed from draft until police complete murder investigation, per source. No supp draft for him.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 30, 2015

Collins' agent reportedly sought to have his client reclassified to remove him from the 2015 NFL draft as authorities in Louisiana want to question him about the shooting death of a pregnant woman who has been connected to Collins.

Fox's Jay Glazer broke the news.

Scoopage: Agent for LSU's La'el Collins trying to pull him from this draft allowing him time to clear his name then enter Supplemental Draft

— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 30, 2015

Collins arrived in Chicago on Tuesday poised to be a first-round pick and had been taking part in pre-draft festivities and charity events. But after reports surfaced that Collins was sought by investigators into the murder of the woman believed to be Collins' former girlfriend — she was shot in the head at her house — Collins left the draft reportedly to assist in the investigation.

Authorities have not named Collins a suspect in the case, but they say he can help assist them in solving her death. 

This is a smart move by Gilmore and the Collins camp as NFL teams have scrambled the past 48-72 hours to collect as much information as they can on the highly touted prospect and what his connection to this case might be. NFL security officials, Shutdown Corner has learned, have been contacted by multiple teams — at least five — for the latest news they have gathered on whether Collins might have been involved with the homicide.

That has caused some teams to remove Collins from consideration until they hear otherwise. Although he was projected to be a first-round pick, it would be hard to imagine hearing Collins' name called in the draft on Thursday unless that team felt it had iron-clad reason to rule out any possibility of Collins being connected.

A reclassification into the supplemental draft could've been a bit of a slippery slope, according to PFT, as the CBA is written.

If the NFL granted Collins' reported wish, the league could've avoided one of its teams potentially having to guess a draft prospect's innocence or guilt.

The Aaron Hernandez murder cases have cast a dark shadow over the NFL for the past few years, but especially his recent trial and conviction in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, with a sentencing and another trial for a double homicide still awating the former New England Patriots tight end.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: April 30, 2015, 9:05 pm

You apparently can erase the idea of Philip Rivers playing for a new team in 2015.

The San Diego Chargers, per ESPN's Chris Mortensen, have informed the agent for Rivers that the team has no plans to trade their quarterback, who is set to hit free agency after the upcoming season. Word had leaked out that Rivers was unhappy with his situation and perhaps had no interest in extending his contract, but recent reports suggest that some discussion has taken place about a new deal.

But the Chargers trading Rivers to the Tennessee Titans will have to go down in the Draft Rumor Graveyard as one that got away. For weeks it had legs, with neither side really denying the possibility of Rivers going to the Titans for the No. 2 pick — presumably for Marcus Mariota to the Chargers — but it has come to an end for now, and likely forever.

Now the Titans are left to consider other options with that second pick. And the Chargers don't yet know whether Rivers wants to remain with the only franchise in the NFL that he has known.

It's draft season! Basically, everyone's just guessing. And we love it.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: April 30, 2015, 8:02 pm

Not many men know what Jameis Winston has and will go through as intimately as Cam Newton does.

Newton was a national championship and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, full of controversy off the field, and drafted No. 1 overall to an NFC South team that hoped he would carry the franchise to new heights. Unless the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a really shocking change of heart, Winston will be in the exact same situation when the Buccaneers take him first overall in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

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Newton has done just fine, helping the Carolina Panthers to two playoff berths while putting up some fantastic numbers with a less-than-stellar supporting cast on offense. But it wasn't easy, and that's his biggest bit of advice for Winston, given during on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger"  interview.

“First, he’s a very bright young man. I don’t think that gets portrayed enough … For him coming into this league, one thing that he’s gonna always have to remind himself is … What’s my carrot?" Newton told Bensinger. "And with talking to him, he said some of the same things that I heard in myself: ‘I’m trying to be the best. I want to win Super Bowls ...’

"Understand that it’s a celebration when you get drafted No. 1 overall, but the realization is – and I say this to be real – you’re getting drafted to the league’s worst team. So it’s a process that goes with that." 

That's worthwhile advice, especially since Newton and Winston both won big and often in college. Winston didn't experience his first loss until his final college game, finishing 27-1 at Florida State. Newton, in his one season at Auburn, went 14-0 and won a national title. He also won a national championship at Blinn Junior College and was a backup on Florida's 2008 national title team. Neither of them was used to losing at all coming to the NFL.

The best bet is it won't be easy for Winston at Tampa Bay, which was 2-14 last season. Newton knows.

"Especially when I came in the league, I was so young and like a raging lion coming into like a meat house," Newton told Bensinger. "I just wanted to win. It was just like, ‘Yeah it don’t matter what team I’m going on, I’m gonna win.’ Because for so long, throughout that three-year span [winning collegiate championships], that’s how it felt.”

There's a huge transition going into the pros, and it's not just the mammoth task of learning NFL defenses and a whole new offense. Winston is charismatic and seems to have some leadership abilities, but it will be a whole new world for him early in his NFL career.

"When I came to the NFL, that was a problem because here I am, I have the likeness of 35-year-olds, 28-year-olds, 25, and I’m 22 trying to be a leader of men," Newton told Bensinger. "Not only that, they gonna get paid regardless, whether they give up a sack, whether they get sacks, whether they work hard, whether they gain weight, whether they lose weight – doesn’t matter. So it’s hard for me to transition and then on top of that, lose."

As Winston dives into the next phase of his football career, there will be a lot to deal with. Newton has been through it. It would probably be wise if Winston listened to his advice.

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 30, 2015, 6:01 pm

The biggest variable in the NFL draft might not be a prospect, but a coach who has either been out-smarting the league with controversial moves or paving his path back to college, depending on what you believe.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly seems capable of anything. Kelly, who owns the 20th pick of the draft, didn't make the playoffs last season and hadn't made any draft-day trades (yet) was trending on Twitter on Thursday morning. That's how intrigued people are with what he might do.

If you had to guess right now, will Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota end up with the Eagles? Kelly said earlier this offseason it was a crazy notion, but the rumors won't die. The MMQB's Peter King got the ball rolling on Thursday by writing that sources told him the Cleveland Browns believe they can acquire quarterback Sam Bradford from the Eagles. Well, that doesn't happen unless the Eagles have another option at quarterback lined up ... though maybe not, with Kelly pushing the buttons. Anything seems possible with him.

The most common rumors have had the Eagles shipping Bradford to the Browns, using the first-round pick they'd get in that deal (the most shocking part of any of this is that in one offseason two different NFL teams would trade valuable picks for Bradford, he of the two torn ACLs and the 79.3 career rating), and then send picks and players to the Tennessee Titans for the second pick. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and linebacker Mychal Kendricks have been speculated as trade chips. The final price tag would be enormous, mortgaging the franchise of the future as some might say, but nobody seems willing to say that possible trade is dead.

And it would be very interesting to see Mariota land with the one team that would make his NFL transition fairly easy. He knows Kelly's offense from Oregon. He ran that offense to tremendous success in college, even after Kelly left to the NFL, including a Heisman Trophy last season.

The Eagles, however, aren't the only team involved. There was a report Wednesday, which was refuted, that the Browns offered first-round picks Nos. 12 and 19 for the second overall pick and would take Mariota. Even though the teams wanted to squash that rumor, it would be surprising if that type of trade hadn't been discussed between the teams. Other teams could make calls to the Titans on Thursday, San Diego perhaps. Or the Titans could stay at No. 2 and pick Mariota. Or stay at No. 2 and not pick Mariota. There's a lot in play.

But everyone is waiting for the Kelly domino to fall. The biggest surprise of the entire draft might end up being if wheeling-and-dealing Kelly didn't make a huge splash this week.

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 30, 2015, 4:49 pm

The NFL draft has become a destination on the sports calendar. As such, it gets year-round coverage.

Shutdown Corner has been tracking all the teams and prospects, with rankings and stories leading up to the 2015 NFL draft. Here's your guide to Shutdown Corner's 2015 NFL pre-draft coverage:

Shutdown Top 50

Nos. 41-50

Nos. 31-40

Nos. 21-30

Nos. 11-20

Nos. 1-10

The final mock drafts
Eric Edholm, Shaun King and Frank Schwab did their final mock drafts before the NFL draft kicks off

Position-by-position breakdown and rankings

Quarterbacks

Running backs

Receivers

Tight ends

Offensive tackles

Interior offensive line

Edge rushers

Interior defenders

Safeties

Cornerbacks

Team needs

Team-by-team NFC needs

Team-by-team AFC needs

Greg Cosell's draft previews
The NFL Films producer analyzed game film from all the top college prospects and provided these in-depth breakdowns:

Todd Gurley (AP)The pros and cons of Jameis Winston

Marcus Mariota's NFL transition

Are there any starting QBs outside of the top two?

Todd Gurley might be the top prospect in the draft

Examining the other top RBs in what is a great RB class

Amari Cooper or Kevin White? Or Breshad Perriman?

Dorial Green-Beckham, and the other top WRs in the draft

Dante Fowler is the draft's best defensive prospect (and other edge players)

There are some good interior defensive prospects

Looking at Leonard Williams' talent, and the questions about him

Eric Edholm's mock drafts

Mock draft 1.0 (Dec. 4, 2014)

Post-combine (Feb. 24)

Resetting after free agency (March 24)

Two-round mock (April 16)

Throwback Thursdays

Looking back on the 1995 NFL draft

Looking back on the 2005 NFL draft

Jameis Winston coverage
As the presumptive No. 1 pick, and one with a controversial past, Winston has received plenty of coverage in the lead-up to the draft

Jameis Winston (AP)Mariota and Winston prepare for combine by working out with each other

Lovie Smith has no issue making Jameis Winston the face of Bucs franchise

Confident Jameis Winston says he can be face of a franchise

Jameis Winston met with Roger Goodell

Jameis Winston's appearance at pro day weigh-in gets attention

Jameis Winston explains why he might not be in Chicago for draft

Jameis Winston's attorney said he's not ready off the field

Jameis Winston sued by accuser in sexual assault incident

Michael Irvin not pleased Winston and Mariota won't be at draft

Bucs reportedly didn't talk to Jameis Winston's rape accuser

Draft news and features

Top three needs for every non-playoff team (pre-free agency)

Ranking the 2015 underclassmen

Washington's Danny Shelton wants to be big man in the middle

Small-school standout Ali Marpet putting tiny Hobart College on NFL radars

Players who helped or hurt themselves at the Senior Bowl

USC's Leonard Williams not resting on laurels

WR Kevin White made noise at the NFL combine

WR Dorial Green-Beckham addresses off-field concerns

RB Todd Gurley talks about his knee injury and a very lofty goal

Outside the top two, can any QB in this draft class succeed?

Green-Beckham is the wild card in another great receiver class

Running backs hoping to buck a trend and become first-round picks

Georgia WR Chris Conley was 2015 combine workout warrior

NFL combine winners and losers

CB Byron Jones beats broad-jump record at combine

Needs that teams should pass in Round 1

Injured running backs' status complicates evaluation

Marcus Mariota (Getty Images)Chip Kelly says he won't move up for Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota's pro day fails to impress

What does failed drug test mean for Randy Gregory's draft stock?

These eight teams could shape Round 1

Melvin Gordon says, 'I want to be the best back'

Dante Fowler would be stunned if Jaguars passed on him at No. 3

OLB Shane Ray might need surgery

Q&A with Marcus Mariota

Melvin Gordon says he's better than Todd Gurley

OLB Shane Ray arrested for marijuana possession

LSU OT La'el Collins leaves draft to cooperate with authorities in shooting

Podcast
Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk talked to Shutdown Corner's Frank Schwab for a draft preview "Grandstanding" podcast

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 30, 2015, 2:39 pm

This NFL draft feels like one of the most unpredictable in recent memory.

In the final Shudown Corner mock drafts of Eric Edholm, Shaun King and Frank Schwab, there is a consensus at No. 1: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And that's the last pick of the first round in which all three mock drafts agree, which is an indication of how volatile this draft might be.

So here's the final mock drafts from Shutdown Corner, before we see what NFL teams actually do when the draft's first round unfolds on Thursday night:

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)

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Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 29, 2015, 11:05 pm

It's no secret that commissioner Roger Goodell always has an eye on making the NFL as profitable as it can possibly be, and that part of this plan involves globalization.

So no matter how bad the idea of moving a team to London is, it's on his mind. Goodell, on the eve of the NFL draft, had a question-and-answer session with students and faculty at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, and according to tweets transcribing the affair (found at the hashtag #GoodellAtMedill), he was asked if the NFL was more likely to move first to London or Los Angeles.

"There is going to be a heck of lot more football in the U.K."- Goodell. London or LA first? "We'd like to be in both markets someday"

— Kalyn Kahler (@kalynkahler) April 29, 2015

I'll still believe Los Angeles when I see it, because the NFL has been running this bluff for 20 years and I need to see them show a hand at some point. But London? I don't think it makes sense, I don't think it serves the great fans who have turned the NFL into the most popular sport in American sports history and I don't think it works on a practical competitive level. But Goodell wants it so I'm not sure there's much point in pointing out the flaws in the plan.

The NFL has slowly expanded its regular-season London presence, and will have three games there this year even though the only benefit to its core fans is the early start time on Sundays and it significantly messes with the competitive balance of the schedule. The could be more soon.

Goodell says he's considering five regular season games in the UK in the future. #GoodellatMedill

— Ava Wallace (@AvaRWallace) April 29, 2015

The question of where the NFL would find teams to put in Los Angeles and London remains a mystery, because the league hasn't shown any signs that it wants to expand again. But it's pretty clearly a priority to have a team in England someday.

The folks at Medill asked Goodell about other subjects, including the controversy over the Washington Redskins nickname that Goodell hasn't said too much about. He said he didn't see the name as a racial slur and it wasn't his place to make the team change it anyway.

"It's the name of a football team. I grew up a Washington fan and that was something we were proud of." @nflcommish #GoodellAtMedill

— Joe Musso (@MOOSE_6) April 29, 2015

Goodell says the name Washington Redskins is not a racial slur b/c in that context it is just the name of a football team. #GoodellAtMedill

— Tyler Pager (@tylerpager) April 29, 2015

"Ultimately it's a decision that the team has to make." Goodell references "strong tradition" w/ Washington Redskins name #GoodellatMedill

— Lauren Caruba (@LaurenCaruba) April 29, 2015

Goodell, not surprisingly, also took questions regarding domestic violence and the league's stance on it after the Ray Rice controversy last year. He said all 27 prospects who are attending the draft, and their families, had domestic violence and sexual assault training in Chicago.

"I think we're doing things other organizations aren't doing." - Goodell on NFL taking lead against domestic violence #GoodellAtMedill

— Shannon Lane (@plain_lane) April 29, 2015

#NFL has "just begun" to make a difference says @nflcommish. Called on society to do more. #GoodellAtMedill

— Jesse Kirsch (@JesseRKirsch) April 29, 2015

“Everywhere I go, I learn something new about the issues society has to deal with." #GoodellAtMedill

— Jasper Scherer (@jaspscherer) April 29, 2015

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 29, 2015, 10:27 pm

A few months ago Aaron Maybin, a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft, was a passenger in his own vehicle, driving through downtown Baltimore. His cousin was behind the wheel and the two young men were on their way to Maybin’s home, not far from the downtown area the scene of riots that have gripped this nation over the past week.

It was there in his hometown that Maybin, who is black, claims he was profiled by members of the Baltimore Police Department.

He tells the story calmly and with detail, a chronology that began a few months back on an innocent trip back to his house. Maybin’s Cadillac Escalade was stopped at a red light when there was a knock on their window from two police officers, who had the truck flanked.

Maybin said they were stopped them for no reason, no probable cause and no traffic violation. Maybin and his cousin were forced to get out of their car, Maybin said, stripped of their cell phones and licenses. Maybin’s plates were run by the police but nothing came up on him or his cousin, he said.

Their licenses were eventually returned and both men went to put them in their wallets. As they did so, Maybin said the police went as if for their guns, not knowing why the two men were reaching into their pockets.

“At that point, we got nervous. These are the situations that end up in men getting killed,” Maybin told Yahoo Sports. “They told us to keep our hands up where they could see them. At the end of the day, we complied with what they said.

“We had no choice.”

Then Maybin and his cousin were taken out of their vehicle and sat on the curb. Maybin said his trunk was damaged during the subsequent search – the trunk area works on a remote control and the police forced it open and then jammed it shut, causing parts of the back console to break. Maybin said he had to bring it in for repairs a few days later.

Nothing was found in the vehicle and the police did not apologize for the stop, according to Maybin.

“Literally they had no reason for doing what they were doing, no cause, nothing,” Maybin said.

Despite how upsetting the story is for Maybin to tell, his heart still very much beats for the city of Baltimore and the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray just 10 days ago. Since then, the city has seen a full range of emotions from tears and pain to peaceful protests to vandalism and looting and riots. Now retired from the NFL, the former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets linebacker has seen  and experienced first-hand a city reeling in pain.

Maybin is now a full-time artist with a downtown studio in Baltimore that is just a few blocks from the spot of the most visible and violent protests over the past few weeks. And he lives just 10 minutes via car from the city’s Western District where so many of the protests have been initiated.

He paints and shoot photographs and video, hoping to create images to inspire people. But this week, his lens has been turned on a city in chaos and confusion.

He first went down with his Canon Eos 70D last Wednesday and he’s been back every day since. He has taken roughly a thousand photos over the past few weeks, many of which can be seen on his Instagram account.

“At the end of the day, I understand the issues for what they are, from the grassroots before the national attention and media cameras got here. I grew up with some of the same persecution kids are rioting over. I understand. Getting a little bit older now, I’m 27 and a father. And I have the responsibility of raising a young man in this city and this point of time. They more so more than anyone else in the community knew Freddy, they grew up with him,” Maybin said.

“They’ve faced a lot of hardships and then education system that doesn’t give them a lot of the tools they need to be successful in today’s society. They’re screaming out for hope, they’re screaming out for love. They’re screaming out for attention for a cause that the world doesn’t really know about. It is a heartbreaking situation. You see the images of the looting and the burning of their own community, their property. But the images I’m trying to show are the positives ones, of people being unbroken.”

He talks about being in the forefront of the community and having a platform, a former first-round pick and a college football star at Penn State who now can help a city that is at odds with itself. He sees hope for Baltimore, he sees a place that can be reborn despite what he has seen and what he has experienced.

  

Armed with his camera and his quick-to-flash smile, Maybin wants to show the world not just his artistic side but a city clouded with smoke and its own uncertainty. As he puts it, “To see all the images, the good and the bad.”

“Me being an artist, me being a photographer, one of my really big ideals that I’ve always preached to the artists that I mentor is that everybody, whether you’re an entertainer, an athlete or a celebrity – everybody has an obligation, a moral obligation and responsibility to use your platform as a catalyst for social and political change in a positive direction,” Maybin said.

Last Monday, he witnessed high school students, let out of school early and without access to mass transportation, congregating in one place. He watched as the police descended in full riot gear.

“It was heartbreaking,” Maybin said.

- - - - - - -

Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: April 29, 2015, 6:22 pm

Marcus Mariota likely won't be selected first overall on Thursday, barring one of the biggest surprises in NFL draft history, but he's certainly the most interesting player in this draft.

On the eve of the draft, we're no closer to knowing who will be the No. 2 pick, which team will be taking the No. 2 pick or if Heisman Trophy winner Mariota will be involved in that second pick. But a report has set the price to beat to secure that No. 2 overall pick from the Tennessee Titans.

Pat McManamon of ESPN reported that the Browns have officially offered their two first-round picks, Nos. 12 and 19, to the Titans for No. 2. The Browns would take Mariota there. That's no huge surprise, because that trade has been speculated for many weeks (it's worth noting that fellow ESPN writer Paul Kuharsky said a Titans source told him no offer was made). But it kicks into high gear what will be a very interesting period for the Titans.

The Titans have shown public interest in Mariota, and even if that's to protect leverage in a potential trade, there's no reason they shouldn't have interest in Mariota. The Oregon quarterback would give them a potential star to build around, something the franchise sorely lacks. But, USC defensive end Leonard Williams and Florida outside linebacker Dante Fowler could be that star player too, and they have to be options for the Titans at No. 2.

Of course, there are many teams desperate for a franchise quarterback and the Titans could cash in by trading the second pick. If McManamon's report is correct, they could at least get two top 19 picks for trading out. The Philadelphia Eagles are a popular speculated destination for Mariota because of the tie between the quarterback and his former college coach, Chip Kelly, who is with the Eagles now. The San Diego Chargers have shown interest in Mariota but most recent reports deny that they'd be interested in trading quarterback Philip Rivers. The Washington Redskins, New York Jets and Chicago Bears have top-10 picks and less-than-desirable quarterback situations, and it would be odd if those teams haven't at least considered talking trade with Tennessee. If the Titans do make the second pick themselves, it's safe to assume they'll be passing up plenty of good offers to do so.

Of course, if the Browns land Mariota that makes for an interesting story. Cleveland has had a torturous history at quarterback since re-entering the NFL in 1999, would be admitting defeat on 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel after just two NFL starts and Mariota would be fighting a lot of recent history to try to become a star with one of the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises.

This NFL draft really does begin with the second pick. Now the Titans just have to figure out their best move.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 29, 2015, 5:34 pm

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The La'el Collins story has likely sent NFL teams scrambling this week, trying to figure out what is going on with the LSU offensive tackle.

Collins, widely expected to be a first-round pick, was sought for questioning in the shooting of Brittany Mills, who police believe is a former girlfriend of Collins. Mills was pregnant, and was shot and killed last week. Collins is not considered a suspect in the case. Mills was found shot to death in her apartment last Friday, and authorities rushed her to the hospital where her child was delivered, ESPN said.

Wednesday's news that Collins has decided to leave the draft in Chicago to cooperate with authorities in Louisiana and clear his name shouldn't be too surprising. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said that Collins had planned to submit to paternity tests on Monday after the draft, but it's "clear the situation requires urgent attention," Rapoport wrote. ESPN's Adam Schefter clarified that Collins voluntarily left Chicago to go back to Louisiana.

There are two angles to this story, and the first is clearly the most important: Officials in Louisiana are working on a homicide investigation, and NFL teams are working with an incomplete story when it comes to Collins. There's no reason to believe at the moment that Collins has any involvement in the shooting, yet it also could make teams anxious to invest a first-round pick in a player who authorities want to question in a very serious case like this.

Collins' attorney said that Collins was nowhere near Mills' apartment at the time of the shooting.

"We have identified where La'el was the day the lady was murdered to establish he was nowhere around," attorney Jim Boren told ESPN. "We have offered to give names, witnesses who can vouch for his whereabouts that day until after the woman's body was discovered. We believe that when [police] have verified that information, that they will rule him out as a suspect in the homicide, just as I believe he should be."

Again, the tragic crime is by far the most important part of the story, but the draft side of it likely isn't unimportant to Collins or the NFL teams who are trying to get as many facts as they can before drafting one of this class' most talented players.

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: April 29, 2015, 5:08 pm

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