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SEC had 12 first-round picks, Big Ten had one

Dee Milliner,  Jeremy Gallon AP

When the Cowboys selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick in the NFL draft, the Big Ten Conference could breathe a sigh of relief: It meant that the first round wouldn’t come and go without a single Big Ten player selected.

But it was a close call, as Frederick was the only Big Ten player drafted. And for yet another reminder that the best college football talent can be found in the SEC, a whopping 12 first-round picks came from SEC schools.

Alabama had three first-round picks: Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker going back-to-back-to-back at picks 9-11. (And three first-round picks is actually a down year for Alabama.)

Three other SEC schools had two first-round picks: Florida (Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam), Georgia (Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree) and LSU (Barkevious Mingo and Eric Reid). The other SEC players drafted on Thursday night were Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson and Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson.

The 12 first-round picks for the SEC tied the record for the most first-round picks from one conference in one year. The ACC had 12 first-round picks in 2006.

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John Fox: Leonard Floyd was sick, will be fine

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Leonard Floyd #84 of the Georgia Bulldogs recovers a fumble an would return it 96 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers on October 10, 2015 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Bears rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd was carted off the field at practice on Thursday, a league source told PFT that Floyd was “woozy” early in practice and his departure was related to that rather than a torn ACL or other injury that would have him joining wide receiver Kevin White as Bears first-rounders who missed their rookie seasons.

The word from the Bears is along the same lines. Coach John Fox said after practice concluded that Floyd has been sick for the last couple of days and that he wasn’t able to do as much as anticipated during the team’s practice session.

“He was sick,” Fox said, via Peggy Kusinski of NBC Chicago. “He tried to go. He’s a tough kid, just didn’t make it through.”

Fox said that the team thinks Floyd will be fine, which should lead to a lot of exhaling in the Chicagoland area.

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Leonard Floyd injury highlights Bears’ restrictive media policy

7d304396c1d67aa2ccf42ed11751585d Getty Images

Details are scarce regarding the injury suffered by Bears first-round linebacker Leonard Floyd during the team’s first training-camp practice, and for good reason. The team utilizes an unreasonably restrictive media policy that limits the ability of reporters to disclose specific injury information — even though fans attending practice can do whatever they want.

Multiple reporters have said Floyd was carted off. None have said why or what body part seemed to be injured. Apparently, they are deferring to the prohibition on tweeting injury specifics.

And so everyone (other than fans in attendance) will have to wait for coach John Fox to provide more information about the injury. Of course, Fox isn’t required to say anything, or to tell the truth when doing so, because injury-reporting obligations apply only when the first regular-season game approaches. In 2015, for example, the Bears actively concealed for weeks true and accurate information about the stress fracture that ultimately wiped out all of receiver Kevin White’s first-round pick.

Of course, it remains impossible to choke off the information completely. As one league source told PFT, Floyd was woozy in the “stretch” line, and it appears the incident was heat related.

Hopefully, sharing that won’t cause the Bears to yank my credential. The fact that I don’t have one makes that a bit less likely.

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Browns expect to name starting QB before first preseason game

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns haven’t named their starting quarterback for the 2016 season, but it doesn’t sound like coach Hue Jackson plans to extend the competition too deep into August.

During a press conference on Thursday, Jackson said that “whoever earns the job is going to earn it on the field” and suggested that they’ll do it pretty soon.

“It’s going to show itself really quickly and it would definitely be before we play our first preseason game,” Jackson said.

Despite some reports of shaky play from reporters on the Browns beat, Robert Griffin III came out of the offseason workouts looking like he was in position to nab the starting job. That was followed by a report this week that Griffin will be taking 80 percent of the snaps with the first team in training camp.

Given the timeline that Jackson set down on Thursday, that points to Griffin being No. 1 in Cleveland and could lead to Josh McCown going on the move should the Browns feel comfortable with Cody Kessler and Austin Davis as backups.

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Browns say “grave disappointment” in Crowell, but he’s making necessary steps

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 3:  Isaiah Crowell #34 of the Cleveland Browns stiff arms Cameron Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The since-deleted Instagram post showing a police officer’s throat being slashed made by Browns running back Isaiah Crowell was the first topic of conversation at the team’s pre-camp press conference on Thursday.

The public message from Browns coach Hue Jackson and executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown was that Crowell is taking necessary steps to make up for his mistake.

“It starts with grave disappointment in the action in the first place,” Brown said. “But to his credit, [after it happened] he called both Hue and I on his own to be accountable. Obviously, it was a huge mistake but he has taken steps at least at the outset that he should.”

Crowell quickly issued a formal apology, and the Browns released a statement that said “just an apology” would not be enough. Crowell later attended the funeral of one of the police officers killed in Dallas earlier this month and pledged his first game check to the Dallas fallen officers’ fund.

Jackson said he understands Crowell may deal with more backlash from fans as camp opens — “rightfully so,” Jackson said — but said Crowell will continue to work “at making it right” and showing remorse.

“I truly believe this is not who Isaiah Crowell is,” Jackson said.

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Washington could be in the veteran RB market later

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Matt Jones #31 of the Washington Redskins runs in the 3rd quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 24-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Teams will use the early days of training camp to take a look at the kids they’ve collected. But as time wears on, some of them will realize they need to find some experience.

That could be the case in Washington, as coach Jay Gruden admitted they could be in the market for a veteran runner at some point, as they don’t have many proven commodities behind Matt Jones.

We could [look at free agents],” Gruden said, via Joon Lee of the Washington Post. “There are some guys who looked pretty good during minicamp. Chris Thompson is coming back and looked good. Obviously, Mack Brown was on the practice squad last year. Robert Kelley is the rookie free agent we picked up. Keith Marshall we’re excited about. We have some guys that we’re going to look out for.”

While you look up that list of names — and recall that Jones is coming off hip surgery and a year of fumbling problems — it’s worth pointing out that they let Alfred Morris walk this offseason and didn’t do anything to backfill there.

Once Arian Foster signed with the Dolphins, the market thinned quickly, with guys such as Bernard Pierce finding jobs.

If one of Gruden’s young backs doesn’t emerge during camp, they could be left to pick through the scraps later, as teams begin making cuts.

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Report: Lawrence Timmons, Steelers “not close” on extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12:  Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes part in pre-game warm ups before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons is entering the final year of his contract with the Steelers and, thanks to his $15.1 million cap number, he looked like a possible candidate for an extension when the offseason opened.

The months went by without any change in Timmons’ status, however, and it doesn’t look like any change is imminent either. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the two sides are “not close” to a new deal and that the Steelers’ aversion to in-season negotiations would leave him on track for free agency if that remains the case.

Timmons told the team’s website that he is “willing to do whatever” to remain with the Steelers. With any desire to add cap space lessened at this point of the offseason, it seems part of what he’ll have to do is show the team that he has something left to give them over the course of the 2016 season.

Timmons was the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2007 and has been a fixture in the starting lineup since the 2009 season.

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Two years ago, Jaworski saw clear gap between Nick Foles and Russell Wilson

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 13: Posters of quarterback Nick Foles #5 of the St. Louis Rams are seen in a trash cart outside of the St. Louis Rams locker room  prior to a football game against the Detroit Lions at the Edward Jones Dome on December 13, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) Getty Images

Three years ago, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski cooked up one of the hottest takes of all time, taking the position that quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Jaworski’s opinion somehow became news for his employer, feeding the four-letter network’s engine for several days in August 2013.

A year later, Jaworski offered up an even hotter — but far less memorable — take regarding quarterbacks Nick Foles and Russell Wilson. Given a choice between the two, which would he pick?

“I’m taking Foles,” Jaworski said. “Not even close. Russell Wilson is just . . . because of that system he is in. Russell Wilson plays with that defense, the best in football. He just managed the game very well. I think Russell Wilson has played terrific, a great maturity, but I’m going to take Nick Foles.”

Two years ago, plenty of you agreed with Jaworski. More than 22,000 responded to the poll question, and more than 43 percent picked Foles over Wilson. That number would be far closer to 4.3 percent now. Possibly even closer to .043 percent.

Wilson remains entrenched, and highly compensated, as a franchise quarterback in Seattle. Meanwhile, Foles is scouring depth charts for a place where he could be a camp arm at worst, the primary backup come September at best.

The fact that people with ties to Foles, like former Eagles coaches Andy Reid and Chip Kelly, aren’t clamoring to sign him suggests that things aren’t going to come as easily for Foles as they did the day he threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions against the Raiders.

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Leonard Floyd leaves Bears practice on a cart

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21: Leonard Floyd #84 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after tackling Matt Breida #36 of the Georgia Southern Eagles for a loss during the second half at Sanford Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Training camp practices are underway, which means reports of injuries suffered during training camp practices are also starting to buzz across social media.

One of the first is likely to have people in Bears country crossing their fingers. Multiple reporters at Bears practice on Thursday have shared the news that linebacker Leonard Floyd left practice on a cart.

There’s no word on what injury Floyd suffered or his condition. Coach John Fox will speak to the media after practice and the first-round pick’s status is sure to be a hot topic.

Floyd, the ninth overall pick, is slated for an outside linebacker spot on the Bears defense this season. He had 17 sacks during his career at Georgia and his pass rushing ability helped convince the Bears to trade up two spots to get him in April.

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No Nick Foles for Broncos, Bills reportedly not interested

Lamarr Houston, Will Sutton, Nick Foles AP

Broncos General Manager John Elway called the team’s starting quarterback competition wide open on Wednesday, but it isn’t so wide open that they are looking to add other players to the mix.

Coach Gary Kubiak was asked during an interview on 104.3 The Fan if the team had any interest in bringing Nick Foles into a group that also includes Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch.

“No, I think we go to work with our guys,” Kubiak said. “Obviously I got respect for Nick, he’s played very well in this league. But we’ve been set, we know which direction we’re heading and it’s time to go compete.”

Unsettled though the position may be, it’s an unsurprising answer. The Broncos have already spent a lot of time working with the three quarterbacks on hand and they need to start honing in on who will be No. 1 come September rather than trying to get a new player caught up.

Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports that the Bills are also not interested in bringing Foles on board. EJ Manuel and rookie Cardale Jones are behind Tyrod Taylor on their depth chart.

Foles has experience with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who currently has Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray and fifth-round pick Kevin Hogan behind Alex Smith, and 49ers coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers are expected to have Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick compete for the starting job this summer. The Cowboys, with Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott, are a team that may be interested in adding to their backup options before the start of the season.

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Darron Lee gets fully guaranteed contract, with no special protections for the Jets

ld1-e1466964791325 AP

One of the three deadline deals done by the Jets in recent days was signed by first-round rookie Darron Lee. The former Ohio State linebacker, who left his college coach hanging not once but twice on a failed high five attempt after being selected, had left his team hanging because the Jets weren’t willing to fully guarantee the four-year deal.

Ultimately, they did. Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Lee will make $10.22 million over four years, fully and completely guaranteed. It wasn’t easy to get a full guarantee; in 2014 and 2015, the fully-guaranteed rookie deals ended at pick No. 19. Lee, by waiting, pulled the full guarantee down to pick No. 20.

In return, the Jets got nothing more than what every team gets under first-round rookie contracts: Standard language that voids the remaining guarantees in the event of certain types of conduct. Someone seems to be pushing to the media the idea that the Jets actually obtained a term that isn’t standard, with at least one report suggesting that CAA agents Todd France and Brian Ayrault had never previously agreed to this type of term in a first-round contract.

That’s simply not accurate. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, CAA (and every other agency) has agreed to language potentially voiding guarantees in all first-round deals since the language became a standard part of guarantee clauses in rookie deals.

The language in the Lee deal is no different than the language in all other first-round contracts and all other relevant Jets rookie and Jets veteran contracts, including players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Darrelle Revis. So while the Jets apparently are trying to create the impression that they someone finagled a win in return fully guaranteeing all four years of the contract, they didn’t. They got what they always get in contracts containing guaranteed money.

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Poll finds Nevada residents don’t want a taxpayer-funded stadium


A proposed deal to move the Raiders to Las Vegas will only happen if the Nevada state legislature approves public funding to build a stadium. And a new poll suggests that the legislators’ constituents may not be on board with that.

A KTNV-Rasmussen Reports poll asked likely voters, “Do you favor or oppose the use of up to $500 million in state taxpayer money to help finance a stadium that would bring the NFL’s Raiders franchise to Las Vegas?”

The result was that 60 percent of Nevada voters opposed the idea, and only 28 percent supported it. The stadium proposal did better among residents of Clark County, where Las Vegas is, but only a little better: 55 percent opposed the plan, while 35 percent supported it.

It’s important to note, however, that the wording of the poll could have had an effect on the results: The question didn’t make clear that the proposal is for a tax on hotel rooms to finance the stadium, which means the money would largely be coming from people outside the state.

“The survey question leaves out critical information,” said Las Vegas Sands executive Andy Abboud, one of the proponents of the stadium. “Specifically, the public funding would come from an increase in the hotel tax, which is predominantly paid by those visiting Clark County, not its residents.”

Nonetheless, hotel tax dollars that go toward a stadium are still tax dollars that go toward a stadium. And most Nevada residents are skeptical of that.

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Multiple suspensions expose Cowboys, Steelers to major fines

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  A man takes money from a cash machine at a branch of Lloyds Bank on July 28, 2016 in London, England. The part state-owned banking group today announced it will cut 3,000 jobs and close 200 more branches despite reporting a doubling of pre-tax profits.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) Getty Images

Nearly a decade ago, the NFL crafted a policy aimed at promoting good player behavior by requiring teams to surrender a portion of a suspended player’s lost salary as a fine, if multiple players are suspended in a given year.

In 2013, the then-five-year-old policy likely cost the Seahawks more than $60,000 for a trio of suspensions to offensive lineman Allen Barbre, safety Winston Guy, and cornerback Brandon Browner. The Rams likely faced a similar problem in 2013, due to multiple player suspensions.

As noted by Adam Schefter of, the policy that was first applied to the Cowboys in 2008 will be applied to them again, given the suspensions of Randy Gregory, Demarcus Lawrence, and Rolando McClain. The policy as currently written requires in the event of three suspensions the payment of 25 percent of the collective forfeited base salary to the league, with a maximum payment of $250,000.

With Gregory due to make $608,406 in 2016, Lawrence on the books this year for $920,604, and McClain owed $1.25 million, the Cowboys easily got to the $250,000 ceiling. (Absent the limit, they would have owed 25 percent of $1.095 million, or $273,750.) If another player is suspended, the Cowboys will be required to cough up a full third of the lost wages for each suspended player.

The Steelers could be facing a similar problem, with the full-season suspension of Martavis Bryant and the looming suspension of running back Le’Veon Bell. The policy requires the forfeiture of 15 percent of the lost salary when two players are suspended. With Bryant due to make $600,000 this year (he’ll lose all of it) and Bell slated to earn $966,900 (he’ll lose $235,294 if the suspension is upheld), 15 percent of the lost salary equates to $125,294.

“It’s obviously so important to us in drafting guys with the right character but sometimes things happen that are unforeseen,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said earlier this year. “Right now, I totally get that it may not look like it in terms of the mishaps we’ve had here, but it’s certainly very important to us and something we’ll continue to evaluate and try to be better.”

Ultimately, giving up a chunk of the salary that otherwise won’t be paid won’t deter teams from taking risks on players who may be predisposed to engaging in behavior that could get them suspended or provide an even stronger incentive to keep troubled players out of trouble. To get the attention of teams, they must face the potential loss of draft picks.

Previously, the possibility has been considered in connection with multiple violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. That idea never went anywhere. If the league truly wants to reduce suspensions under all policies, that’s the best (and perhaps only) way to do it.

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Jack Del Rio: I don’t spend any time on hype

Jack Del Rio AP

It’s been hard to miss the optimistic buzz that’s built around the Raiders this offseason as there’s been no shortage of people predicting a winning season in Oakland for the first time since 2002.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio has heard that chatter, but says he isn’t letting it seep into his thinking. Del Rio told Albert Breer of that he has “seen potential come and go” so he is focused on more tangible things as the team continues its preparations for the 2016 season.

“That goes into all the noise, that has nothing to do with executing on third-and-8,” Del Rio said. “All those words mean nothing, so I don’t spend any time on it. What matters is doing the work.”

Del Rio is still emphasizing chopping the wood — in spirit if not action this time around — but he recognizes the reasons why people are bullish about his team. They’ve added a slew of free agents to players acquired through the draft like quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Khalil Mack to build a roster that Del Rio said “all fit together” over the course of their work in the spring.

That doesn’t guarantee anything in the fall, however, and that’s why Del Rio will be working to keep the team focused on the tasks at hand and leaving the projections to those outside the organization.

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Bills and Tyrod Taylor talking about extension, possibly before season

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills acknowledges the crowd after the Bills beat the New York Jets 22-17 at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills haven’t made any progress on a long-term contract for cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but they apparently have when it comes to an extension for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

According to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, the possibility of a deal for Taylor before the start of the season is real.

A source said the team and Taylor’s reps were talking “relatively frequently,” as they pursue a contract.

What makes the efforts interesting is the short time Taylor has produced as a starter (14 games), and the hot seat all his bosses seem to be sitting on. With many thinking Bills coach Rex Ryan is out if they don’t make the playoffs, a long-term commitment to a skill player with a distinctly Ryan style is a bit of a risk.

But all Taylor has to point to is the sight-unseen $18 million-a-year deal Brock Osweiler got in Houston for half as many starts to justify a deal.

And it sounds like there’s at least a chance that gets done.

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Ryan Pace on Alshon Jeffery: He knows he has to stay healthy

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 08:  Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on August 8, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 34-28.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery didn’t come to agreement on a multi-year deal this offseason, which leaves Jeffery playing out this year for the franchise tender of $14.6 million and on track for free agency after he season.

That situation has created some discomfort between teams and players in the past, but General Manager Ryan Pace is confident that it isn’t “going to affect him at all.” Jeffery signed his tender early in the process, so he’ll be at camp and Pace believes that the negotiating process didn’t leave any scars that will preclude the two sides from coming together after the season.

Pace also noted that Jeffery’s ability to stay healthy — the wideout missed seven games in 2015 — this season will impact any future talks.

“Those negotiations were friendly the whole time,” Pace said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t think it’s uncommon when you’re negotiating off the franchise tag to sometimes not come to an agreement. But that doesn’t mean there’s any ill will. We can revisit it after the season. But I’m optimistic. He’s a talented player. He knows he has to stay healthy. And we’ll see going forward.”

Jeffery produced well when he was on the field last season, just as he did while playing in every game during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. If he can do that again in 2016, one big obstacle to a long-term deal will be a little smaller in next year’s contract talks.

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