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Week Eight picks

The inability of referee Scott Green to properly apply the supposedly clear rule regarding going to the ground when making a catch not only cost the Vikings a win.  It also prevented me from extending to two my streak of victories over Rosenthal.

Yes, he beat me by one game in Week Seven, and the difference was the outcome of the Vikings-Packers game.

For the week, Rosenthal got 10 right and four wrong.  I was 9-5.

For the year, Rosenthal is 69-35.  I’m 65-39.

And though it pains me to type this (in part because I’ll never hear the end of it from him), Rosenthal currently has a better showing than all of the ESPN “experts,” including the Accuscore projections and the fan-based picks. 

Maybe he should apply for a job there.  They probably need someone with a sturdy shine box.


Broncos vs. 49ers in London

Florio’s take:  When the league picked this game to be the 2010 English export, it didn’t look like a bad choice.  The 49ers were viewed as the favorite to win the NFC West, and the Broncos were regarded as a middle-of-the-road team with the potential to improve.  Seven weeks into the season, the 49ers have only one win and the Broncos have two.  The decision to thrust quarterback Troy Smith into the starting lineup smacks of the desperation coach Mike Singletary surely is feeling, and even though Denver lost to one Bay Area team by 45 in Week Seven, Week Eight likely will bring a seventh loss for the Niners.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, 49ers 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The NFL should send teams to London earlier in the season, before they show how bad they really are.  The depleted Broncos defense gets worse every week, and the 49ers defense just made Matt Moore look like, well, Matt Moore from 2009.  This is a crossroads/gut check/insert cliché game for both coaches.  I trust Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton far more than Mike Singletary and Troy Smith.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 21.

Jaguars at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  Four prior games between these two teams have been decided by seven points or less.  Continuation of that trend would help Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, even if the Jags lose.  One more 20-plus-point blowout (the Jaguars already have suffered four) could get Del Rio fired.  The return of David Garrard and the departure of Tony Romo could help, but probably not enough.  But at least the Jags will possibly lose by less than 20.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Jaguars 17.

Rosenthal’s take:  Jon Kitna versus the Jaguars secondary.  The immobile quarterback versus the force that provides no resistance.  If I was a betting man, I’d stay far away from this one because both teams are about as trustworthy as Florio’s hairpiece.  At least the Jaguars seem like they care. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cowboys 16.

Dolphins at Bengals

Florio’s take:  From 1978 through 2000, the Dolphins won nine straight games over the Bengals.  Cincinnati has won the last two, but they haven’t played since Bill Parcells put his thumbprint on the Dolphins.  More importantly, the game won’t be played in Miami, where the Fins are 0-3.  Though the Bengals found some punch on offense against the Falcons, the Dolphins are more talented, more desperate, and (after believing they got screwed against the Steelers) more feisty.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Bengals 16.

Rosenthal’s take: Chad Henne has quietly improved all season, and he should do well against a Bengals secondary without Adam Jones and possibly Johnathan Joseph.  Carson Palmer is also playing better, but it seems to take a 21-point deficit to warm him up.  The Bengals defense is providing too many chances for failed comeback attempts.

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 21.

Bills at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Some (I’m looking at you, Rosenthal) think that Bills coach Chan Gailey has something up his sleeve for his most recent former team.  Pointing to an unlikely strong showing by Buffalo’s offense against a complacent Ravens defense, Rosey thinks the Bills can give the Chiefs a run for their money.  Let’s see if Rosey puts his money where his mouth is.  Arrowhead Stadium has been a-rockin’; Gailey and his team would be wise to not go a-knockin’.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 31, Bills 14.

Rosenthal’s take:  I’m not sure people have really wrapped their mind around the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills racked up 514 yards on the Ravens.  514! The Harvard product is a joy to watch, with decisive, difficult throws often into tight windows.  He’s a great runner and seems to like contact.  And he has a red beard.  The Bills will keep losing most weeks because their defense is an embarrassment, but at least they’ll be fun to watch.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 31.

Redskins at Lions

Florio’s take:  For the third straight year, these two franchises meet in Detroit.  In 2008, the Redskins kept the Lions winless by only eight points.  In 2009, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Skins.  Assuming Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, back after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One, won’t throw four passes to DeAngelo Hall, the rested, ready, and confident (perhaps delusional) Lions should be able to get it done.  Last week’s meltdown by the Chicago offense concealed the fact that the Washington offense isn’t dramatically better, and the Lions look to be in line for their second win of the year.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Redskins 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Signs the Lions have come a long way:  (1) they are still talking playoffs after a 1-5 start and it doesn’t seem completely insane; (2) they’ve outscored their opponents this year (thanks Rams!); (3) they are favored against a 4-3 Redskins team and I’d still give the points.

Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 24, Redskins 17.

Panthers at Rams

Florio’s take:  Like the other team that will contend for the NFC West crown, the Rams are tough at home and soft on the road.  This week, a win at home would pull the Rams to 4-4, and it would end a four-game losing streak against Carolina, a slide that began in St. Louis nearly seven years ago with a double-overtime loss to the eventual NFC Super Bowl representatives.  This time around, the Rams simply have the better team — which given the state of the Panthers isn’t really saying much.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Panthers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Rams are winless on the road, so it’s good the league loaded them up with home games before a three-game road trip after Thanksgiving.  The Panthers finally found a passing game, which could make them a dangerous spoiler the rest of the way.  Every game for the Rams is dangerous because they aren’t that talented, but they’ve responded very well to losses this year.

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 22, Panthers 20.

Packers at Jets

Florio’s take:  The Jets remain the hottest team in the NFL, with a swarming defense and a sufficiently competent offense.  Receiver Santonio Holmes had two extra weeks to hone his timing with quarterback Mark Sanchez, which should result in an even more souped-up passing attack.  The Packers aren’t remotely close to being Super Bowl ready, and without again getting a couple of gift calls on touchdown plays they can’t expect to win this one.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 27, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Packers lost another linebacker for the season, while the Jets are fully healthy after their bye.  Revis Island is ready to re-open with tougher immigration laws and there’s a sense New York hasn’t played their best despite being 5-1.  All logic points to the Jets. (I’m sure Florio is taking his beloved Jets.)  All the more reason to take the Packers, who are ready to go on a run.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 26, Jets 21.

Titans at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Vince Young likely will return for a Tennessee offense that did fairly well without him.  But the two Tennessee losses have come against teams that run a 3-4 defense, the preferred attack of the Chargers.  And the Charger

s have much more talent than their 2-5 record suggests.  Assuming that the late surge in Week Seven against the Patriots woke up the four-time defending AFC West champions, the Chargers will stay alive for at least another week.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 23, Titans 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans have a knack for frustrating opponents and forcing them into mistakes.  The Chargers have a knack for frustrating their fans and making unforced errors.  The Titans lead the league in takeaways and have scored the most points off turnovers.  The Chargers have the most giveaways in the AFC.  Add it up, and Norv Turner’s head should explode sometime in the third quarter.

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Chargers 21.

Vikings at Patriots

Florio’s take:  Vikings coach Brad Childress has been talking lately.  A lot.  His words regarding the officiating in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers got him a $35,000 fine.  His barbs directed at the Patriots and Bill Belichick could get Chilly a butt-whipping on par with the 31-7 defeat his team absorbed from Belichick and company four years ago.  Brett Favre, who won’t play only if he can’t move, will be jumping on his “broke foot” when things go well, and he’ll be walking like John Wayne with hemorrhoids when things go poorly.  Count on plenty of Rooster Cogburn on Preparation H sightings.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Vikings 13. 

Rosenthal’s take:  After the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy then lost to the Bills 31-0 to open the 2003 season, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the “Patriots hate their coach.”   Three weeks after New England traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, it’s the Vikings that seem to hate their coach.  The rest of the country hates Brett Favre, who seems to know it and wear it on his face during every depressing press conference.  This is the week Moss begins to realize how good he had it in Foxborough.  

Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 24, Vikings 14.

Buccaneers at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  Bucs coach Raheem Morris thinks he has is the best team in the NFC.  Less than two years ago, the Cardinals actually were the best team in the NFC.  Though the Cardinals have looked horrible at times, the managed to take down at home a Saints team that thumped the Bucs in their own stadium.  And that’s good enough for me.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The “best team in the NFC” isn’t favored in Arizona, where the Cardinals are 2-0 this season.  If the Bucs are to live up to Raheem Morris’ hype, this is a game they win going away.  Arizona’s passing game is a mess, while the running game isn’t much better.  It’s a miracle they are 3-3. Still, these teams are more similar than different.  And they’ll have the same record after this one.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 19, Bucs 14.

Seahawks at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Here’s the toughest call of the week.  Tony Dungy thinks the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC.  Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson thinks his team is the most talented in the entire NFL.  The Seahawks had been unable to win on the road before taking down the Bears two weeks ago.  Before a far=less-than-full stadium against a Raiders team buoyed by a 59-point uprising against the Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders likely will finish an unlikely ascension to .500 at the halfway point of the season.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 27, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Every time the Raiders win a game, they say they turned the corner.  Even though they haven’t won back-to-back games since 2008, I’m just crazy enough to believe them this time.  The Seahawks whole offensive gameplan seems to be “don’t throw interceptions” but they need a little more than that on the road.

Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 23, Seahawks 16.

Steelers at Saints

Florio’s take:  At one point in September, it looked like this game would feature a clash of the best two teams in the league.  It remains half right, with the Steelers among the best of the bunch and the Saints sliding toward irrelevance.  Though the defending champs’ backs are being pushed against the wall, that 13-point loss to the Browns means the days of dominance have ended, at least for now.  A one-dimensional offense is no match for a multi-faceted Steelers defense, and this one could turn into a rout, which would mean the ratings will only double those from Game Four of the World Series.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Saints 21.

Rosenthal’s take:  A lot of tough games to pick this week. I’ve debated this one for days, but the tiebreaker goes to the Steelers.  Even though Pittsburgh’s pass defense has looked shakier the last two weeks, New Orleans has struggled against far worse groups.  At some point, it’s worth recognizing the 2009 Saints passing attack just may not come back.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 24.

Texans at Colts

Florio’s take:  The Texans obsessed over their Week One visit from the Colts, and it paid off.  Since then, the Texans have been roughly average.  They get another crack at the Colts on Monday night, at a time when plenty of Indy players are missing.  But as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy, the Colts will be tough to beat, especially at home.  Manning realizes the importance of not being swept by the Texans — and not falling to 0-3 in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 33, Texans 27. 

Rosenthal’s take: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie will be missed, but I’m not really that worried about the Colts offense in this game. They have great depth and the Jeff George Colts could score 30 points on this awful Texans defense.  The bigger question is whether the Colts defense can snap out of their funk.  At home, in a huge division game, I’ll take my chances they make enough plays.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 38, Texans 31.

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Browns make it clear that Cody Kessler will compete for starting job

Zz1mZmJmY2JjYjExZDFjNGFhZGUxNDRmMTRmYmYyZmE3Ng== AP

When quarterback Robert Griffin III signed with the Browns, the Browns made it clear that Griffin would be handed nothing. He won’t even be handed the edge over third-round rookie quarterback Cody Kessler.

In response to a suggestion during a Saturday press conference that Kessler won’t pose a threat to Griffin, Browns executive V.P. of football operations Sashi Brown advised caution: “I beg to differ with that,” Brown said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I do think Cody is a guy that I would not want to sleep on at all if I wanted to be the starting quarterback of the Browns.

“[Kessler is] going to come in serious ready to work. Robert has four years of NFL experience, is tremendously athletic and serious about becoming a starting quarterback in this league. There’s no reason he can’t, but this is going to be a competition.”

Even if Griffin has the edge, it’s smart for the Browns to create the impression that Griffin will have to compete. He arrived in Washington with the presumption that he’d be “the guy.” Now, he’s just “a guy” — and he needs to regard himself that way.

“We truly believe in competition here,” Brown said. “We’re realistic about where our roster is at that slot and we want to find a long-term answer. It’s as critical for everything we’re going to do here. We’ll give them an opportunity to compete and the best quarterback is going to start for us period. We’ll roll the ball out and see who’s the best at throwing it.”

The candidates for the starting job are Griffin, Kessler, Josh McCown, and Connor Shaw. Which means that part of the competition will consist of determining which of the four won’t be on the team come September.

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Steelers add 10 undrafted free agents

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07:  A Pittsburgh Steelers helmet sits on the field prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 7, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The completion of the draft sparks the commencement of the land rush for undrafted free agents, with teams aggressively pursuing players who weren’t among those on whom the 32 teams squatted in the seven rounds of the selection process. The Steelers are among the first to announce the signing of a group of undrafted free agents for 2016.

Joining the Steelers are Mars Hill defensive lineman Jonny Maxey, Miami (Fla.) linebacker Tyriq McCord, Duke punter Will Monday, Florida State defensive lineman Giorgio Newberry, Colorado running back Christian Powell, Georgia tight end Jay Rome, N.C. State offensive lineman Quinton Schooley, Virginia receiver Canaan Severin, and Jacksonville State defensive lineman Devaunte Sigler.

All teams can have up to 90 players on the roster during the offseason, through training camp, and into the preseason.

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Lions’ G.M. disputes Vernon Butler’s claim that he was told he was going to Detroit

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Vernon Butler of Louisiana Tech shakes hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #30 overall by the Carolina Panthers during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vernon Butler was glad to be the Panthers’ first-round draft pick on Thursday night, but he was also disappointed to go 30th. Butler claims he was told by the Lions that they were going to take him with the 16th overall pick.

Butler was quoted before the draft as saying that the Lions had promised him that if he was still on the board at No. 16, he was going to Detroit. As it turned out, the Lions passed on Butler and chose Taylor Decker instead.

Asked after becoming a Panther about the Lions telling him they’d pick him, Butler said, “That’s what they said, but they say a lot of things.”

But Lions General Manager Bob Quinn says the Lions told Butler no such thing.

“No one from my staff, or the coaching staff, have ever promised a player that we were going to take them at any position,” Quinn said.

Perhaps the Lions told Butler they wanted him on the team, and Butler interpreted that as meaning they were definitely going to draft him. There was clearly a misunderstanding between the two sides, and it’s easy to see why Butler is disappointed: The difference between going 16th and going 30th is more than $2.5 million.

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Chargers draft a punter, release Mike Scifres

Jacksonville Jaguars v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The best punter in the history of the Chargers franchise is out of a job.

Mike Scifres, who has punted in San Diego since the Chargers drafted him in 2003, will be released after the team drafted punter Drew Kaser today.

“He’s a true pro,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said of Scifres today. “When people ask what it means to be a Charger, I’ll point to Mike Scifres. Thank you, Mike. We’re going to miss you.”

But while the Chargers will miss Scifres, who was chosen as the punter on the franchise’s 50th Anniversary Team, the decision to let him go wasn’t difficult. The 35-year-old Scifres did not punt well last year and was set to cost $4.2 million against the Chargers’ salary cap this year.

It was time for the Chargers to move on to someone younger and cheaper, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

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Browns well suited for the 2017 NFL draft

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 27:  Owner of the Cleveland Browns Jimmy Haslam looks on prior to the game against the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s way too early to start thinking about which players are available in next year’s NFL draft. But it’s not too late to declare that the Browns will be in good shape next year.

The Browns have two first-round picks and two second-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft, thanks to trades with the Eagles and Titans. Cleveland is also expected to get multiple compensatory picks next year, so the Browns should get a big haul of talent a year from now.

Despite trading away their second-round pick, the Titans are also in good shape for 2017, thanks to having the Rams’ first- and third-round picks. And the Vikings, who acquired the Dolphins’ third- and fourth-round picks, also have to like how the 2017 draft looks.

Here’s the full list of 2017 NFL draft picks that have already changed hands:

Round 1
Cleveland has Philadelphia’s pick.

Tennessee has L.A.’s pick.

Round 2
Cleveland has Tennessee’s pick.

Round 3
Tennessee has L.A.’s pick.

Minnesota has Miami’s pick.

Round 4
Chicago has Buffalo’s pick.

Minnesota has Miami’s pick.

Washington has the New York Jets’ pick.

New England has Seattle’s pick.

New England forfeited its pick as punishment for Deflategate.

Philadelphia will receive a fourth-round compensatory pick from Cleveland, unless Cleveland doesn’t get one, in which case Philadelphia will get Cleveland’s fifth-round pick.

Round 5
Buffalo has Dallas’s pick.

San Francisco has Washington’s pick.

Washington has New Orleans’ pick.

Round 6
Houston has Chicago’s pick.

San Francisco has Denver’s pick.

Washington has Houston’s pick.

Denver has Tennessee’s pick.

Kansas City forfeited its pick as punishment for tampering.

Round 7
Dallas has Buffalo’s pick.

Seattle has Carolina’s pick.

San Francisco has Cleveland’s pick.

Los Angeles has Tennessee’s pick.

Philadelphia has Denver’s pick.

Cleveland has Indianapolis’s pick.

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Bears sign veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Brian Hoyer #7 of the Houston Texans looks on before the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

With a number of quarterback destinations going away via draft picks, the remaining veterans are going to be scrambling for a chair.

Brian Hoyer found his, signing with the Bears, according to multiple reports.

Hoyer had visited the Broncos (who never seemed all that interested) and the Jets (who seem destined to bring Ryan Fitzpatrick back at some point).

Both took quarterbacks, with the Broncos getting Paxton Lynch in the first and the Jets taking Christian Hackenberg in the second.

Hoyer now gives the Bears a veteran option behind Jay Cutler, since they apparently weren’t thrilled with the idea of going into a season with David Fales or Matt Blanchard in the number two job.

The Bears didn’t draft one, so Hoyer moved quickly to find a home.

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30 early entries go undrafted

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Jalin Marshall #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes a catch over Jarrick Williams #20 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

There were 107 players who gave up remaining college football eligiblity to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

Thirty of them went undrafted.

Among the notable players who went undrafted as early entries are Oklahoma’s Dominique Alexander, Auburn’s Peyton Barber, Tennessee’s Marquez North, Indiana’s Darius Latham, Bowling Green’s Roger Lewis and Ohio State’s Tyvis Powell and Jalin Marshall.

Ohio State had 12 players drafted after 11 of them went in the first 102 picks. Ohio State fell short of its own record of 14 players selected in single draft set in 2004.

NFL teams start working to sign undrafted players before the draft ends. Some will reach deals — or already have — soon, though some teams don’t announce such signings until Sunday or well into next week.

Marshall told Cleveland.com he heard from “half the league” but plans to sign with the Jets. Lewis tweeted that he’s headed to the Giants.

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Four punters and a long snapper were drafted Saturday

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 30:  A general view prior to the start of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 2016 NFL Draft had a little bit of everything.

It even included four punters and a long snapper.

Drew Kaser was the first punter to be drafted, early in the sixth round by the Chargers. Three more punters were drafted from there, most notably Riley Dixon by the Broncos. Veteran Broncos punter Britton Colquitt is due to make $3.25 million in 2016, so a potential camp battle that might be decided by more than just performance looms.

The Lions took long snapper Jimmy Landes in the sixth round, at pick No. 210. Landes went to Baylor to play baseball, but after hitting .048 he took up long snapping. He was the only long snapper invited to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

A long snapper getting drafted is rare, but the Lions picking Landes means it’s happened in back to back years. The Patriots picked Joe Cardona in the fifth round last year.

The only kicker selected was Roberto Aguayo, who went to the Buccaneers after they traded two picks to get him in the second round at No. 59.

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Eagles not concerned about Smallwood’s history

Zz02OTkyYTExMDg5Zjk4ZjhjNzBjY2JiM2ZjODcyNjcyMg== AP

The Eagles have devoted a fifth-round pick to a running back who brings plenty of baggage to the NFL.

As explained by Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, the Eagles aren’t concerned.

Wendell Smallwood, a former West Virginia tailback, faced an allegation of witness intimidation in a second-degree murder case two years ago. His friend pleaded guilty, and the charge that Smallwood tried to convince a witness to change testimony was dropped.

Smallwood also has a history of posting social-media messages containing racial and homophobic slurs.

I don’t believe anything I said. I’ve grown,” Smallwood told reporters after his selection, via Josh Paunil of PhillyMag.com. “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

“We are aware of the social media statements Smallwood made. We don’t condone them,” Eagles executive V.P. of football operations Howie Roseman said, per Shorr-Parks. “We have no doubt or concern about what kind of person Smallwood is.”

Roseman explained that the team’s research led to the conclusion that there would be no issues in the future with Smallwood. If there are, somebody is going to be saying, “I told you so.” Here’s hoping no one ever has a reason to say that about Smallwood.

 

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Colts “progressing well” on “complicated contract” for Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass in the first half an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

Colts owner Jim Irsay said late last month that he’d like to have a new contract for quarterback Andrew Luck wrapped up before the fireworks went off to celebrate July 4, but he’s backing off that date as a milestone to watch in talks for a new deal.

Irsay discussed the status of contract talks while talking to the media on the final day of the draft and said that there’s been progress toward an agreement. Irsay expects the deal to get done, but said that he’d be happy getting it done during camp or the preseason if that’s how long it takes.

“Talks are progressing well. We have made progress,” Irsay said, via ESPN.com. “I mentioned Fourth of July before. I don’t think that marker is something that needs to be watched as an indicator. We should be able to come to a deal. Until you do, we still have ground to cover. There’s no question about that. It’s a complicated contract. It’s one that has to work both ways to make sure we’re able to field a great football team. … There are times when you get to camp, you’re into the preseason, you can still get something done.”

Luck is in the final year of his rookie contract and has a $16.155 million salary. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco currently has the highest annual average for quarterbacks at a bit more than $22 million and one of the complications is surely where Luck will rank on that front as well as in guaranteed money in relation to his peers.

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Cowboys draft basketball player Rico Gathers

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Rico Gathers #2 of the Baylor Bears cheers on his team during a game against the Texas Longhorns in the second half during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. Baylor won 75-61. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) Getty Images

No college football experience? No problem for the Cowboys on Day 3 of the draft.

In the sixth round, the Cowboys pulled the trigger on a high-risk, high-reward prospect: Rico Gathers of Baylor, who didn’t play college football but played on Baylor’s basketball team. The 6-foot-8, 275-pound Gathers wasn’t viewed as an NBA prospect, but he has the kind of natural athleticism NFL teams look for in tight ends, and he says he’s committed to putting in the hard work necessary to make the transition to football. In Dallas, he’ll learn from one of the best in the business in Jason Witten.

Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones hasn’t been afraid to take chances in this year’s draft. He used the fourth overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott, a very good running back who plays a position that some people think just doesn’t carry Top 5 value in today’s NFL. He then used his second-round pick on Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who was a phenomenal college player but is recovering from a very serious knee injury. And now he’s taken Gathers with a late pick.

Gathers was an excellent rebounder at Baylor, and now the Cowboys are hoping he can go up and get some footballs, too.

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Dolphins trade cornerback Jamar Taylor to Browns

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 29:  Devin Smith #19 of the New York Jets catches a touchdown pass against Jamar Taylor #22 of the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 29, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

We have our first trade involving a veteran player in this year’s draft.

Cornerback Jamar Taylor has been traded from the Dolphins to the Browns, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. The deal was for an exchange of seventh-round picks, with the Dolphins moving up in the last round.

There had been no previous reports that the Dolphins were looking to move Taylor or that the Browns were looking to acquire him, but apparently the Cleveland regime thinks there’s a place for him on the Browns’ defense, and the Dolphins weren’t sure he’d make their roster this year.

Taylor was a second-round pick of the Dolphins in the 2013 NFL draft who played in 12 games for the Dolphins last year, starting six.

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Derek Watt drafted by Chargers, could face big brother J.J. this season

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: Derek Watt #34 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the football during the second half against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Camp Randall Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 2016 draft is rolling toward its conclusion and one of the names to come off the board in the sixth round carries with it the prospect of an interfamily collision in Week 12.

That’s when the Texans host the Chargers and we could see the Watt brothers butt heads during the game. You’re likely familiar with the work of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and he was been joined as an NFL draft pick by his brother Derek on Saturday afternoon.

The Chargers took Derek Watt with the 198th overall pick. He followed his brother to Wisconsin, but landed on the other side of the ball as a fullback that lined up as a tight end/H-back at times as well. Watt caught 15 passes during the 2015 season and also saw a lot of time on special teams.

He’ll probably need to keep doing that to stick around the NFL long enough to set up the chance to block his brother while trying to open running room for former college teammate Melvin Gordon.

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Bills sixth-rounder Kolby Listenbee calls himself NFL’s fastest man

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 3: Kolby Listenbee #7 of the TCU Horned Frogs carries the ball against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the game on September 3, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

New Bills rookie Kolby Listenbee isn’t lacking for speed. Or confidence.

Listenbee, a wide receiver from TCU whom the Bills chose in the sixth round of the NFL draft, declared in his first talk with Buffalo media that he believes he’s the fastest player in the NFL.

That might be a bit of an overstatement. Listenbee ran well at the Combine, clocking a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, but that was tied for the eighth-fastest this year, certainly not the fastest time of any current NFL player.

Listenbee, however, says he was running at the Combine while recovering from a sports hernia. And he was a good runner on the TCU track team, so he certainly has the speed to back up his confidence.

As a senior last year, Listenbee caught 30 passes for 597 yards, an outstanding 19.9-yard average, and scored five touchdowns. He also saw occasional action as a kickoff returner. The Bills hope he’ll keep using that speed in the NFL.

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Lions draft first QB since taking Stafford first overall in 2009

during the college football game at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Getty Images

The Lions have drafted a quarterback for the first time since taking Matthew Stafford first overall in 2009 and they didn’t have to look far to find him.

Detroit ended the longest current drought without picking a quarterback by selecting Jake Rudock with the 191st pick in the draft. Rudock played a few miles down I-94 from the Lions in 2015 while quarterbacking Jim Harbaugh’s first Michigan team to a 9-3 regular season record and a 41-7 Citrus Bowl romp over Florida.

Rudock was mentioned as a possible target for the Lions in the pre-draft process when General Manager Bob Quinn talked about it being “good football business” to bring in a young quarterback. That’s a deviation from recent years in Detroit, where Dan Orlovsky is back for another year behind Stafford.

Rudock only spent one year in Ann Arbor, but gained a lot of experience in the Big 10 during two years as a starter at Iowa. He showed steady improvement during his year under Harbaugh and the Lions will hope that a dose of Jim Bob Cooter can keep the needle moving in the right direction.

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