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PFT’s Week Seven picks

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Down three games with three disagreements last week, I envisioned forging a tie with MDS in the PFT picks contest.

And of course he swept me.

Now down six — six! — through six weeks, I’ve got a chance to cut the margin to four (or see it grow to eight) based on two disagreements this week.

MDS went 11-4 for the week; I was a mere 8-7.  He’s now 63-29 for the year, and I’m 57-35.

Read on for this week’s prognostications.

Seahawks at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Seahawks on the road are always a precarious pick, and I’m tempted to choose Arizona in an upset. But Carson Palmer is just throwing too many bad passes for an opportunistic Seattle secondary not to give him trouble. The Seahawks’ defense will lead the way in this one.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 14.

Florio’s take:  Somebody in the league office hates the Cardinals.  In a four-day span, they will have played both the 49ers and the Seahawks.  Arizona held its own against the Niners, and Arizona will do the same against the Seahawks.  But two moral victories in less than a week won’t do much to propel a team toward the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, Cardinals 14.

Buccaneers at Falcons

MDS’s take: A year after earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, Atlanta is all but out of the playoff race already this season. But a bad Tampa Bay team coming to town should be just the thing to get the Falcons their second win of a disappointing season.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 20, Buccaneers 10.

Florio’s take:  The game that many thought would help determine first place (for now) in the NFC South will determine last place in the division (for now, and possibly for longer).  The Falcons had an extra week to get ready, the Buccaneers continue to be in disarray, and the home team still has enough talent to pull out the win.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.

Rams at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Rams are coming off a dominant win over the Texans and are, at 3-3, a lot better than most people thought they’d be. But Carolina is playing excellent defense, and St. Louis is playing mediocre offense, and so I like the Panthers to win a low-scoring game at home.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Rams 9.

Florio’s take:  Here’s a game that likely will be underrated but could produce a potential wild-card contender in the NFC.  Both teams have been inconsistent, and both teams won in Week Six over franchises currently in a funk.  Edge goes to the home team, as long as the Panthers can get the upper hand early.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Rams 21.

Bengals at Lions

MDS’s take: Overall the Bengals are a more talented team than the Lions, and a good Cincinnati secondary is going to make things tough for Detroit’s offense. But the Lions have played well at home and the Bengals have been shaky on the road, and so I’m going to take the Lions.

MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Bengals 17.

Florio’s take:  Usually, the Bengals play up and down to the level of the competition.  This week, the competition level is roughly equivalent.  And the Lions won in Cleveland, where the Bengals lost handily.  Oh, and Calvin Johnson appears to be getting healthy.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Bengals 20.

Chargers at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Despite major injury issues, San Diego is a better team than just about anyone expected. Playing in the same division as the only two undefeated teams in the NFL makes it unlikely that the Chargers will make the playoffs, but they will get over .500 with an easy win in Jacksonville.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  Yes, I’m tempted to pick the upset here.  The Chargers have beaten three teams that are supposedly better than San Diego, and they’ve lost to three teams that are supposedly worse.  Plus, they’re traveling across the country on a short week to play a team that gave the Broncos more of a game than anyone would have imagined.  Then I’m reminded of the overall quality of the Jacksonville roster.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 28, Jaguars 10.

Texans at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The Texans totally melted down on Sunday, and now they’re traveling to play a Kansas City team that’s playing defense as well as anyone in the league. This could get ugly.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Texans 7.

Florio’s take:  The Chiefs are what the Texans were supposed to be.   Swarming defense, competent offense, and undefeated through six weeks.  This could be Correction Sunday for the Chiefs, but not at the place that cranked up 137.5 decibels last weekend — and not against a team that could be dialing up Case Keenum at quarterback.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Texans 17.

Bills at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Bills’ pass rush could provide real problems for Ryan Tannehill, and if EJ Manuel were healthy I’d like the Bills to go to Miami and pull an upset. But with Thad Lewis as the starting quarterback, I don’t think the Bills will put many points on the board in Miami.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Bills 13.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins have had two weeks to prepare for Thad Lewis and company.  While Lewis looked good against the Bengals, he’s and several teammates are a little banged up.  Maybe Miami coach Joe Philbin ultimately will get a shot at his former pupil in Green Bay — you know, the one-hit wonder in whom Philbin had zero interest.  Which should have told Seattle and Oakland everything they needed to know.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 27, Bills 20.

Patriots at Jets

MDS’s take: The Patriots have been dealing with injuries all year, and Jerod Mayo is their most significant injury yet. New England is ripe for an upset. Unfortunately, the Jets looked absolutely terrible on Sunday against the Steelers, and they just don’t look like they have the weapons on offense to pull the upset.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 17, Jets 7.

Florio’s take:  The Jets almost beat the Patriots in Foxborough in Week Two.  Since then, New England has lost Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo for the season.  Aqib Talib could miss the game, and even if Rob Gronkowski plays how much can be expected after a nine-month layoff.  Some will call this an upset.  Under these precise circumstances, it really isn’t.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 20, Patriots 17.

Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: In the battle for first place in the NFC East, I like Nick Foles to keep the Eagles’ offense running smoothly and create a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. The suspect Dallas defense is going to have a tough time keeping up with Philadelphia’s big-play offense.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Cowboys 28.

Florio’s take:  Whether Nick Foles or Mike Vick or Matt Barkley, Chip Kelly’s offense is poised to run rings around a more-porous-than-expected Dallas defense.  And Philly’s defense quietly has improved to the point where it can keep the Cowboys in check, especially with DeMarco Murray missing this one.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 31, Cowboys 21.

Bears at Redskins

MDS’s take: Chicago has been beating bad teams all season, with wins over the Vikings, Steelers and Giants. That trend will continue for another week in Washington.

MDS’s pick: Bears 21, Redskins 20.

Florio’s takeRobert Griffin III is getting better, but he’s still not close to the guy he was last year.  Ditto for the team.  In 2012, Washington dug out of a 3-6 hole.  This year’s start could be even worse.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 26, Redskins 17.

49ers at Titans

MDS’s take: With Jake Locker out and Ryan Fitzpatrick in, the Titans are just not going to beat a good team like the 49ers. San Francisco is over its early-season hiccup and is now beginning its long march toward challenging Seattle for NFC West supremacy.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 34, Titans 17.

Florio’s take:  The Titans perform well at home against teams from the NFC, and they played well on the road last Sunday in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL.  But the 49ers have hit their stride in recent weeks, with a balanced offense and a defense that still has punch, even without Aldon Smith.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 24, Titans 17.

Browns at Packers

MDS’s take: I don’t think Brandon Weeden is as terrible as some people make him out to be, and I don’t think Brian Hoyer was ever going to be Cleveland’s long-term answer at quarterback. Still, the Browns have looked like a team that finds ways to win with Hoyer at quarterback, and a team that finds ways to lose with Weeden at quarterback. That will continue on Sunday, when an injury-riddled Packers team will capitalize on some Cleveland mistakes.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Browns 24.

Florio’s take:  That three-game winning streak will quickly be forgotten when the losing streak reaches two.  Despite the injuries, the Packers continue to deliver on both sides of the ball.  The turnaround from a 1-2 start continues.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Browns 24.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one a few times, but in the end I think Baltimore’s defensive front is too much for the injury-depleted Steelers offensive line. The Ravens win a close, hard-fought, defensive struggle.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 16.

Florio’s take:  The defending champs visit Pittsburgh for the first time since hoisting the latest Lombardi.  If the Steelers can run like the Packers did against Baltimore and throw the ball smartly and quickly, the home team in this tarnished (for now) rivalry can hold serve.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Ravens 10.

Broncos at Colts

MDS’s take: In one of the marquee games of the season, Peyton Manning will remind the Colts that they cut one of the best players in NFL history a year and a half ago. Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense will score plenty of points against a mediocre Denver defense, but Manning and Co. will score even more.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 48, Colts 38.

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning’s homecoming acquired some extra levels of intrigue this week, thanks to Colts owner Jim Irsay.  While some think Irsay took a shot at Peyton to get inside his head and other thinks Irsay was simply being Irsay, the man some call the best regular-season quarterback in NFL history will further cement his legacy.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 49, Colts 24.

Vikings at Giants

MDS’s take: One of the worst Monday night games in recent years will be memorable for Josh Freeman’s first start with the Vikings, and for the Giants’ first win of the season.

MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Vikings 13.

Florio’s take:  Eleven days to get ready.  Home game.  National audience.  Bad defense.  Quarterback rushed to the field for his first start with the team.  If the Giants can’t win this one, they may not win any.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 35, Vikings 27.

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Dolphins cancel Laremy Tunsil’s media appearance, citing allergic reaction

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

Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was the story of the first round of the NFL draft, as he dropped to the 13th overall pick while someone hacked his social media accounts and posted embarrassing videos and text messages. Tunsil then raised more eyebrows when speaking to the media after he was drafted by seeming to acknowledge he had broken NCAA rules while at Ole Miss.

So everyone was interested in hearing what Tunsil would say today at his first media appearance in Miami. Unfortunately, that appearance didn’t take place. Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum said Tunsil was dealing with an allergic reaction.

“Unfortunately, Laremy had an allergic reaction this afternoon, so right now he’s with our medical staff and hopefully it’s just a quick, short-term thing,” Tannenbaum said at the Dolphins’ press conference, adding that it wasn’t clear what caused the allergic reaction.

Character questions swirled around Tunsil even before the video of him wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong surfaced, but Tannenbaum said the Cubs feel good about Tunsil.

“Our area scout felt good about his character. Obviously there are some mistakes he made in his past, but we were comfortable with that. All the research we had done, we were very comfortable with his character. The decision was made by the entire organization, including Steve Ross our owner, and we are very comfortable with Laremy the player and the person,” Tannenbaum said.

Eventually, Dolphins fans may feel great about Tunsil. But for now, they’re not getting to hear from him.

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Myles Jack opts not to be unpaid prop on Friday night


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


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”

Zz1iZThmY2YwNzdkNjQyMjdhZTczNDg2MDE1ZTE1MmMzMQ==-1 AP

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 “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 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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