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J.J. Watt: We have the Super Bowl on our minds

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Texans defensive linemen J.J. Watt had one of the best seasons that any defensive player has ever had in 2012. But it wasn’t good enough.

Watt said in an interview with Andrew Siciliano on NFL Network that the only way this season can be good enough for the Texans is if they win the Super Bowl, and that’s what he and his teammates expect.

“We won another division championship, we won one playoff game, but we’re not satisfied,” Watt said. “Around here we have much higher expectations than that and going into this season, it’s Super Bowl. We have Super Bowl on our mind around here.”

Watt says there’s nothing he would consider an acceptable result from this season other than holding the Lombardi Trophy on February 2, 2014.

“No. Every team in the league will tell you that, but that’s legitimately our expectation. We want to win a championship. We want to bring a championship to this city,” Watt said.

That’s a tall order, but Houston fans know they can count on Watt to do his part.

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Myles Jack opts not to be unpaid prop on Friday night

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The ultimate reality show’s ultimate offseason reality show will be a bit less real tonight, to the likely dismay of a Commissioner who likes how the implosion of a young man’s business interests is good for the league’s.

Adam Schefter of ESPN, one of the two networks that benefits directly from draft picks giving up one more night of unpaid services through their attendance at the draft, reports that former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack won’t return to the draft on Friday after plummeting through round one on Thursday.

Three years ago, former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smih initially wasn’t planning to return for round two after not being taken in round one. Some (including me) criticized Smith for the tentative decision, which later was rescinded.

In hindsight, it was wrong of me to criticize Smith for refusing to continue to be an unpaid prop under Big Shield’s big top. I won’t criticize Jack for stiff arming the process, and no one else should, either.

There’s a line between showing up without compensation for a positive, uplifting moment and serving as a pawn in a chess game where the player already has been pinned into checkmate. ESPN and NFL Network will focus Friday night’s coverage on Jack’s ongoing free fall, to the delight of the league. Why should Jack provide the real-time reaction shots?

To his credit, Jack carried himself well last night under significant adversity, showing no reaction as one pick after another went to a player other than him. That fact that Jack showed up at all shows that someone failed to manage his expectations properly, so he’s now doing the smart thing by staying away.

Schefter also reports that Jack has been told by Dr. James Andrews that the player doesn’t need microfracture surgery on his injured knee. Although that too-little-too-late disclosure doesn’t change the fact that Jack said that he possibly may need it in the future (and since Schefter’s report focuses only on the present, there’s a chance Dr. Andrews agrees), it’s good that someone is finally trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Still, the league’s TV show benefitted from the fact that the toothpaste was sprayed all over the place last night, and it’s to the league’s detriment that Jack won’t be there as the last few globs get squeezed out of it.

It’s not known whether the five other players who accepted invitations to the draft will be back for Friday night. Each should strongly consider staying away; after all, last night was about celebrating their future and tonight will be about rubbernecking at the wreckage.

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Cowboys taking calls about Ronald Leary trade

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 23:   Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts in the second quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

When guard Ronald Leary signed his restricted free agent tender with the Cowboys this week, we noted that having a contract in place meant the Cowboys could trade Leary during the draft.

Given Leary’s experience as a starter in Dallas before La’El Collins moved past him on the depth chart, it seemed like a realistic possibility that a team or teams would be in contact with the Cowboys. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said that was the case on Thursday night.

“We’ve had calls on him, yeah,” Jones said, via the team’s website. “If we needed to do something today, we could have.”

Jones said that Leary would “obviously” like to go somewhere that offers him a chance at a starting job, something that doesn’t exist in Dallas with Collins and Zach Martin locked into the first team, and that the Cowboys are open to making a move “if we got what we thought was fair” in return.

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Rams say they have fielded trade offers for Nick Foles

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 6: Nick Foles #5 of the St. Louis Rams is sacked in the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome on December 6, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) Getty Images

After trading up to the No. 1 overall pick to draft quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams are looking to unload quarterback Nick Foles.

Rams G.M. Les Snead told Shelley Smith of ESPN that “at least five” teams have reached out to inquire about acquiring Foles in a trade.

It’s hard to imagine those teams are offering much more than a seventh-round draft pick for Foles, but the Rams might be able to get something for Foles before draft weekend comes to an end. That would leave them with Case Keenum as the veteran competition for Goff.

Goff is expected to win the starting job, but Keenum told Snead he’s going to work hard to make the coaches at least consider keeping Keenum as the starter, which he was proclaimed to be before the Rams moved up for Goff.

“I’m going to make it a difficult decision for you,” Keenum said, according to Snead.

Foles won’t get that opportunity in Los Angeles, and will likely go elsewhere as a backup.

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Report: Ravens not expected to cut Eugene Monroe

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 17:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens passes as Eugene Monroe #60 blocks Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Ravens 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the offseason opened, there was some talk about the Ravens parting ways with left tackle Eugene Monroe, but owner Steve Bisciotti said in March that Monroe would remain in place.

Some might wonder if that position will shift now that the team has drafted Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick of the draft. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team is not expected to release Monroe, who is still recovering after ending the year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

On Thursday night, coach John Harbaugh was asked if Stanley could start his career at guard and said that the makeup of the line “will pan out the way it pans out” through competition.

“There’s a good chance we could do it that way or another way,” Harbaugh said. “It’s kind of too early to say. We’re always going to try to put the best five linemen on the field. There’s no question about it, he’s got a chance to be in our starting lineup.”

There’s a lot of time for things to work out differently. Monroe has missed 16 games over the last two seasons, which may make him a riskier piece of the lineup than the Ravens would like if Stanley shows he’s up to starting at left tackle right away.

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Roger Goodell sure likes the way Laremy Tunsil spiced up his TV show

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #13 overall by the Miami Dolphins 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

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not tolerate his employees publicly revealing the already publicly revealed names on his secret card, and possibly spoiling his super-important television show.

But if you want to be humiliated and possibly extorted, accused of something illegal which subjects you to possible future sanctions, and lose millions of dollars in the process, then just know that he is totally OK with that because it works out better for him that way.

The world’s highest-paid piñata — who exists to shield his bosses from bad and uncomfortable news in exchange for north of $30 million a year — said during an interview with an outlet which helps pay that freight that Tunsil’s slide last night made for good television.

I think it’s all part of what makes the draft so exciting,” Goodell said during an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike when asked about Tunsil’s fall. “Clubs make decisions. Sometimes they take risks. Sometimes they do the right things. Sometimes they don’t, and we’ll see.

“Hopefully he is going to turn out to be a great young player.”

Gosh, thanks Roger, I’m sure Tunsil is relieved that you have such high hopes for him, after he was opened up to ridicule and persecution if not prosecution last night.

In case you missed it, about 15 minutes before the draft started, a video of Tunsil smoking out of a gas mask bong was put on his Twitter account by someone presumably not him. Then came Instagram messages from his account which suggest he was getting paid under the table at Ole Miss. Maybe it came from his stepfather who’s suing him for assault and maybe it didn’t, but either way, the kid was hauled out there for public shaming while his draft stock plummeted on live television.

The 13th pick will eventually sign a deal worth around $12.5 million. The third pick will make about $25.9 million. Even if you assume Tunsil might have gone sixth to the Ravens (who took the safer Ronnie Stanley instead), he lost at least $8 million in hypothetical dollars last night.

But let’s focus on what’s important here. The drama was gripping, and the ratings were probably through the roof.

Now go out there and give it your best Laremy, knowing the Commissioner has your best interests at heart. But make sure you put this officially licensed hat on first, so fans will know which one they’re supposed to buy.

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PFT’s second-round mock draft

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 08:  Linebacker Myles Jack #30 of the UCLA Bruins defends against the Washington Huskies on November 8, 2014 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

A second-round mock draft. Because everybody has one.

The draft resumes Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The Browns currently hold the first pick of the second round, at No. 32 overall, but we project a trade. We project a few trades, actually.

These are just projections, and they’re open to scorn, questions and possibly even praise. Stranger things have happened, right? Here goes…

32. Jaguars* (projected trade): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

33. Titans: Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor

34. Cowboys: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

35. Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

36. Bills* (projected trade): Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

37. Chiefs: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

38. Browns* (projected trade): Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State

39. Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

40. Giants: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

41: Bears: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

42. Dolphins: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

43. Titans: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

44. Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

45. Titans: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

46. Lions: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

47. Saints: Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida

48. Colts: Kamalei Correa, OLB/DE, Boise State

49. Ravens* (projected trade): Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky

50. Falcons: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

51. Jets: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech

52. Texans: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

53. Redskins: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State

54: Vikings: Nick Martin, OL, Notre Dame

55: Bengals: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt

56. Seahawks: Su’a Cravens, LB, USC

57. Cowboys* (projected trade): Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

58. Steelers: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State

59. Chiefs: Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA

60. Patriots: Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State

61. Patriots: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech

62. Panthers: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

63. Broncos: Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

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Texans wanted Karl Joseph, badly

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The Texans surely are happy with receiver Will Fuller; they specifically traded up a spot to get him. But the Texans had another guy they really wanted.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Texans badly wanted former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.

The Texans never got a chance to get him, because the Raiders surprisingly made Joseph the 14th overall selection — despite a torn ACL he suffered last year at practice. Joseph’s stock had been murky until recently, when it became clear that he was destined to be taken in round one.

The PFT simulated draft had Joseph going to the Steelers at No. 25. Unless they were ready to trade up, they never would have had a chance at him.

No one, in the end, had a chance to get him because the Raiders pounced when they had the chance to do so. If Joseph turns out as well as the team’s recent high-round picks have developed, the Raiders could soon be competing not just for a spot in the playoffs but for a spot in the Super Bowl.

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“Unhappy” Nick Saban in green room last night

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The man who once said he wasn’t going to be the Alabama coach perhaps wished for a little while last night that he wasn’t the Alabama coach.

Nick Saban, who attended the draft at the invitation of the league, waited multiple hours as only one of his former players was picked. As one source who was present in the green room told PFT, Saban looked “unhappy” with the situation.

In his defense, Saban pretty much always looks “unhappy,” with his excellence coming in large part from the extent to which so he’s driven to achieve it that he rarely (if ever) enjoys it. (There’s a compliment in there somewhere.)

Excellence wasn’t achieved on Thursday night, with as many as five Alabama players expected to go in round one but ultimately only one making the cut. The one who was picked, center Ryan Kelly, didn’t attend the draft. Three players (linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, and defensive lineman Jarran Reed) sat through all 31 picks.

While it means nothing to Alabama’s on-field performance, it’s easier to recruit when the pipeline to the NFL is clear and full. This year, it’s not — and Saban got the privilege of witnessing it last night.

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Browns fielding calls for 32nd pick

the-gang-intimidates-the-switchboard-operator-in-a-scene-from-the-picture-id3170861-2 Getty Images

It’s unknown whether the Browns will use or trade the No. 32 pick in the draft. But it is known that they are at least discussing the possibility.

Per a league source, the Browns are and have been fielding calls regarding a possible trade that would result in yet another trade down — and yet more extra draft picks for a team that is stockpiling building materials for its rebuilding effort.

That’s the benefit of having the first pick in round two. The Browns have all day to explore possible trade offers, and ultimately either to pull the trigger or not pull the trigger on a deal that would knock them down a few spots, or more.

At some point, the Browns have to use their draft picks in order to get players who will help the team win games. For now, though, they may keep amassing more lottery tickets to be scratched off at a later date, or to be swapped for more lottery tickets.

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Jimmy Smith having screws removed from foot

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens reportedly wanted to trade up to the fourth pick in the draft on Thursday night so they could draft cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but their attempt was unsuccessful and Ramsey wound up being drafted fifth by the Jaguars.

There’s not much need to explain why Baltimore would be interested in Ramsey, who is the top defensive back in the draft and some feel he’s the best overall player in the class. It likely didn’t hurt Baltimore’s interest that their top current cornerback is having surgery on his foot.

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith missed eight games in the 2014 season because of a Lisfranc injury that required him to have screws surgically installed in his foot. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that Smith, who didn’t look all the way back to form in 2015 while starting every game, will be having another procedure to get the screws removed and that he’s hopeful to get back to work in four-to-six weeks.

There was a good chance the Ravens would take a cornerback regardless of Smith’s status for the rest of offseason workouts, but they’ll have to settle for someone further down the list than Ramsey.

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Goodell claims union wants to “eliminate discipline”

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As the NFL continues to bask in the glow of a narrow, 2-1 appeals court victory in the #Deflategate imbroglio, Commissioner Roger Goodell is now defending his handling of quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension by attacking the NFL Players Association.

“I understand when there is a defense of any violation . . . that is part of the game, we all understand that nobody wants to discipline,” Goodell told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, via Dan Werly of TheWhiteBronco.com. “I understand the union’s position. The union’s position is to eliminate discipline. That is what they do, we are going to protect the player, right or wrong. And I get that, that is understandable, go at it. My job is to protect the game. We are not going to relent on that, we are not going to compromise at all.”

That’s an incredibly cynical view of the union’s role, and an apparent attempt to counter NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith’s recent explanation on PFT Live about the union’s commitment to fighting for its players. But the union isn’t trying to ensure that players suffer no consequence for wrongdoing. The union wants any consequences to be fair and consistent and within the confines of the labor deal. The union also wants the process that determines those consequences to be fair.

Fairness of the process continues to be the primary problem, since it provides no real protection against the NFL running amok. Although the NFL has (reluctantly) yielded Goodell’s judge-jury-executioner status on matters like on-field discipline, substance abuse, and PEDs to neutral arbitration, Goodell refuses to relent in his position that the league should have full control over the disciplinary decisions and the appeals arising from violations of the Personal Conduct Policy and the rules regarding conduct detrimental to the league.

“I am not going to hand off the integrity of the NFL to somebody who doesn’t understand our business,” Goodell said. “ESPN doesn’t do that. When somebody gets disciplined at ESPN it’s made by ESPN, they don’t hand it off to somebody who doesn’t have an interest in ESPN and the NFL is not going to do that either.”

Without knowing the intricacies of ESPN’s employment structure and relationships, there’s a very good chance that ESPN has a workforce that is partially unionized and a workforce that partially isn’t. As to the union employees, a Collective Bargaining Agreement sets forth the procedures for resolving disputes arising from the imposition of discipline by ESPN. As to non-union employees, the language of any individually-negotiated contract controls. For some employees, there may be an arbitration clause. Others may be able to go to court.

Regardless, it’s likely that ESPN doesn’t reserve the right to serve as the arbitrator in any of its own employment disputes, for union or non-union employees. That’s the difference between the NFL and ESPN, and that’s the ongoing nature of the problem for the NFL. The obsession with controlling the outcome of any dispute keeps the outcome of every dispute from being regarded as fair and just.

As to anyone who would wag a finger at the union for not insisting during the last labor negotiations that Goodell surrender to arbitration his power over the Personal Conduct Policy and conduct detrimental to the game, Goodell’s comments underscore just how hard it would have been to get him to give those rights up. Indeed, and as PFT previously has explained, Goodell and the league flatly refused to agree to neutral arbitration under these policies the last time a new CBA was finalized.

Even if the NFL was willing to inject true fairness into the process by letting someone with no connection to the case resolve it, the league apparently would want plenty of stuff in return from the players. The players at some point would need to ask themselves whether they’re willing to make concessions that would apply broadly to all of them in order to obtain a protection that, as a practical matter, applies to a small handful each year.

The best defense that Goodell ever can muster for not allowing a truly neutral party to resolve any disputes over player discipline imposed by the league arises from the unreasonably stubborn notion that he doesn’t want “somebody who doesn’t understand our business” to make decisions about whether punishments imposed by the league will be upheld. Here’s the reality, however: Thousands of business routinely submit disputes to third parties for a fair and neutral resolution. Likewise, hundreds of judges and arbitrators are smart enough to understand the issues and make reasonable, fair decisions in cases involving industries far more complex and nuanced than grown men playing a kid’s game.

This isn’t about the union wanting to discipline no one. This is about the NFL wanting to be able, when it so chooses, to discipline anyone and everyone, without having to face serious questions or challenges regarding whether the punishment is consistent and fair with past cases, whether the league even has the power to impose the discipline, whether fair and proper procedures were employed to allow the player to prepare and present his defense, and ultimately whether the league was motivated by some unrelated business interest, with the player becoming a pawn in a much broader P.R. or political (internal or external) agenda.

Using third parties to resolves disputes strips away the possibility that, for example, the Commissioner threw the book at the Saints in the bounty case to create the impression that the league cared about player health and safety during the early days of the concussion lawsuits or that the Patriots faced significant sanctions for #Deflategate because the owners who supervise and compensate Goodell were clamoring for a tough punishment due to the perception that the Spygate penalties were too light.

Any adversarial process benefits from the use of an independent party to resolve the dispute. The integrity of the game and public confidence in the sport actually  would be maximized if the league were to fully embrace that reality.

But that would keep the league from doing what it wants, when it wants, how it wants. In the Brady case, the federal courts have (to date) sanctioned that practice. The court of public opinion, however, should continue to reject Goodell’s position and demand true fairness and objectivity for all players, through an arbitration process carefully designed to ensure that properly educated and accomplished individuals will be charged with sorting out the facts and applying the relevant law to the unique (not really) employment and business challenges faced by a business premised on paying folks to run, block, tackle, throw, catch, and kick.

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John Elway: No regrets about how QB search played out

attend the 29th Annual Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images

After a couple of months of uncertainty about what the Broncos would do at quarterback for the 2016 season, things got a lot clearer on Thursday night.

The Broncos traded up five spots in the first round in order to select Paxton Lynch, bringing an end to an extended search process that started when Brock Osweiler left for Houston and included investigations into trades for Colin Kaepernick and Sam Bradford. Elway told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that he was “surprised” the Kaepernick trade talks didn’t come to fruition, but that he’d choose Lynch over the other possibilities if he’d had his choice of outcomes when the process started.

“Do I have any regrets about this whole thing?” Elway said. “No. We’re thrilled to have ended up where we are, with Paxton. If you had said to me, ‘Here are your four options,’ and you named the four we just went through, this is the one we’d take. We think Paxton, long-term, is a perfect fit for our offense.”

Elway said he’s comfortable with Mark Sanchez opening the season as the starter while Lynch makes the transition to the professional ranks, but said “never say never” when asked if that’s how things will play out when the time comes for the Broncos to start defending their Super Bowl title.

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Seahawks only have one quarterback on roster at moment

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It’s a good thing the Seahawks were able to find a pass protector with the 31st pick last night.

Because they only have one quarterback on the roster, so they need to keep him safe.

The Seahawks waived backup Phillip Sims yesterday, clearing the decks and leaving starter Russell Wilson as the only passer on the roster.

Of course, they’ll add some more. Tarvaris Jackson is just sitting there waiting to be signed, and they have an entire draft in front of them. Also, it’s April, so maybe it’s a little soon to panic.

The Seahawks used the final pick of the first round on tackle Germain Ifedi, adding to an offensive line that badly needed reinforcements. Especially if they go with the unconventional one-quarterback roster.

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Jay Gruden sees some of A.J. Green in Josh Doctson

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Josh Doctson of TCU  holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #22 overall by the Washington Redskins 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

Before he became the head coach of the Redskins, Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator of the Bengals.

In that job, Gruden got to deploy A.J. Green at wide receiver and he feels like the team added a similar player to their offense in the first round on Thursday night. The Redskins dropped down one spot, adding a 2017 pick in the process, and then took wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick. After the selection, Gruden said Doctson reminded him of his former Cincinnati charge.

“I think [Doctson’s] the most polished receiver of the group, personally,” Gruden said, via the Washington Post. “I think he can do a lot of different things across the middle. When the ball is in the air, he’s got the jumping ability. He’s got great hands. I think he’s got the best hands in the draft also. He’s a great pure route-runner. I graded him out very, very high. Our scouts had him graded out very high. [General Manager] Scot [McCloughan] loved him. We all loved him, obviously, based on his production. The game is not too big for him. He’s just a solid, all-around football player. Great body control, which you can’t coach that. The ball is in the air, he can twist all kind of different ways. It reminds me a lot of A.J. Green a couple years ago in Cincinnati.”

We’ll save Green comparisons until Doctson has some NFL experience under his belt, but he gives the offense a bigger receiver than they had coming into the draft and that should help the offense even if he doesn’t make the same kind of splash in his rookie season. His presence also increases the team’s options at receiver moving forward with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both entering the final year of their contracts.

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Giants say they didn’t reach for Eli Apple

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Eli Apple of Ohio State reacts after being picked #10 overall by the New York Giants 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

In the days leading up to the draft, there was buzz about the Giants having interest in drafting linebacker Leonard Floyd or the best offensive tackle available with the No. 10 pick.

When Thursday night rolled around, they saw the Titans trade up to take tackle Jack Conklin at No. 8 and then watched the Bears leap over them to snag Floyd with the ninth pick. The Giants could have taken tackle Laremy Tunsil or linebacker Myles Jack (whose knee issues were a red flag), but opted to take cornerback Eli Apple.

Some thought that the take-out king of Columbus, Ohio was a reach at that spot, but General Manager Jerry Reese said they followed their board and that Apple was rated higher than “the guys who had some issues” like Tunsil and Jack. Scouting director Marc Ross also defended the way the Giants played things on Thursday night.

“We’ve heard it before,” Ross said, via the New York Post. “We’ve taken other players that [were called] a reach. Nobody knows. If you get a dime for every expert, I could retire. Come on. Experts? People analyze. People have opinions. What’s it based on? Nobody has seen the tape. Nobody goes to practice. Nobody puts in the work like the scouts do. It’s easy to second-guess and pick and say get everybody’s pick right and tell them what they should do, but you’ve just got to put in the work and trust what you do.”

Ross is correct about the Giants hearing a lot of criticism about their recent drafts and co-owner John Mara has been one of the critics. Mara said this draft is more important than usual, which would make the way the Apple selection works out crucial for the futures of both Reese and Ross in the organization.

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