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Post-free agency mock draft

Clowney AP

Before free agency, we posted a mock draft.  Because when in Rome.

Now that free agency is nearly four weeks old, which has resulted in needs being filled and new needs being created, we’ve put together a new mock draft.

Because when in Rome.

So here’s how we see things, 31 days before it’ll be time to say, “When in New York City.”

1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina.

Yeah, Bortles.  Yeah, Manziel.  But the Texans lucked into J.J. Watt when a pair of teams from their own division took Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert three years ago.  That lesson should not be lost on the Texans.  Especially with Jacksonville on the clock two picks later.

2. Rams: Sammy Watkins, receiver, Clemson.

If they’re going to stick with Sam Bradford at quarterback, they need to give him another weapon.  The fact that they seem to be downplaying it serves only to make it more likely.

3. Jaguars:  Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M.

The flirtation with center Alex Mack suggests that the Jags are willing to take chances.  Manziel fits with Jedd Fisch’s creative offensive approach and, more importantly, Manziel will make the Jaguars into a marquee team.  If he’s successful.  If he’s not, they’ll get another crack at another quarterback soon enough.

4. Browns:  Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State.

Should Carr go that high?  No.  Should the Browns screw around if they think they’ve found the guy who can run Kyle Shanahan’s offense the way Shanahan wants?  Hell no.

5. Raiders: Greg Robinson, tackle, Auburn.

Yes, they signed Donald Penn to presumably play left tackle.  But they’ll find a spot for both guys as they try to open running lanes and keep Matt Schaub in one piece.

6. Falcons: Khalil Mack, linebacker, Buffalo.

The pass rush remains an area of need after free agency.  It would be a surprise if the Falcons use the No. 6 pick on any other position.

7. Buccaneers: Mike Evans, receiver Texas A&M.

Dumping Mike Williams makes receiver an obvious need.  Maybe too obvious; they could get leapfrogged for Evans.

8. Vikings: Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida.

With Matt Cassel in place for two years, Bortles gets eased in to the job, possibly becoming offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s next star pupil.

9. Bills: Jake Matthews, tackle, Texas A&M.

Regarded a year ago to be better than Luke Joeckel, he’ll help beef up an offensive line that has underperformed in recent years.

10. Lions: Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pitt.

Receiver becomes less of a need with Golden Tate in the fold.  With the Lions not exercising the fifth-year option on Nick Fairley as a motivational tool and with Ndamukong Suh still carrying a $22 million-plus cap number, they need a fresh face at the position.

11. Titans: Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville.

The Titans have done a good job of keeping their cards close to the vest regarding the need for a quarterback.  As May approaches, it’s becoming more obvious that they need to take a chance on someone, three years after they took a chance on Jake Locker.

12. Giants: Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, Florida State.

Given the departures of Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph, the Giants need to restore some bite to a defensive line that didn’t necessarily carry them to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, but helped deliver victory once they got there.

13. Rams: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama.

Keeping Rodger Saffold allows the Rams to address the last line of defense.

14. Bears: Bears:  C.J. Mosley, linebacker, Alabama.

Veteran D.J. Williams got the first chance to assume the middle linebacker mantle in Chicago.  The Bears should now turn to a rookie.

15. Steelers: Marqise Lee, receiver, USC.

With Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery all gone, the Steelers provide Antonio Brown a young partner and Big Ben another target.

16. Cowboys: Dee Ford, defensive end, Auburn.

With Anthony Spencer likely gone and DeMarcus Ware definitely gone, it’s time to stock up on pass rushers.

17. Ravens: Taylor Lewan, tackle, Michigan.

Eugene Monroe stayed, Michael Oher didn’t. They need a right tackle, and Lewan could be the guy to take over there.

18. Jets: Eric Ebron, tight end, North Carolina.

And here’s why the Jets ultimately didn’t pursue DeSean Jackson.  Ebron could become a game-changer in the slot — and he has the charisma to take over the nation’s top media market.

19. Dolphins: Xavier Su’a-Filo, guard, UCLA.

Or they could re-sign Richie Incognito.

20. Cardinals: Anthony Barr, linebacker, UCLA.

If the Cards are going to keep up with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams, the Cards need pass rushers.

21. Packers: Jason Verrett, cornerback, TCU.

The cornerback slide stops in Green Bay, where the defense needs plenty of impact players.

22. Eagles: Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State.

And it’s suddenly a run on corners, with the Eagles beefing up a potential weak spot.

23. Chiefs: Bradley Roby, cornerback, Ohio State.

Let’s make it three corners in a row, with Roby joining a team that has to deal with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

24. Bengals: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State.

Shazier ran a blazing 4.36-second 40-yard dash with a bad hamstring. Adding him would require some shuffling of the linebackers, since Shazier is suited to the weak side. Given his talents and Vontaze Burfict’s versatility, that’s a good problem to have.

25. Chargers: Brandin Cooks, receiver, Oregon State.

He says he’s better than DeSean Jackson.  The weapons-challenged Philip Rivers will settle for just as good.

26. Browns (from Colts): Trai Turner, guard, LSU.

A surprisingly meat-and-potatoes offseason continues for a team that has lost guard Shawn Lauvao and could lose center Alex Mack, this year or maybe next year.

27. Saints: Odell Beckham, receiver, LSU.

The stable of weapons gets replenished, partially. Jimmy Graham still needs an explanation.  And a contract.

28. Panthers: Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State.

They can get competent receivers later, in rounds where top-shelf corners aren’t likely lurking.

29. Patriots: Zack Martin, tackle, Notre Dame.

It’s not a glaring area of need but it’s good value for the slot.  Plus, it never hurts to have enough guys to keep Tom Brady healthy in the final years of his career.

30. 49ers: Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Virginia Tech.

The lone area of weakness on the team gets addressed.  As it should.

31. Broncos: Cyrus Kouandjio, tackle, Alabama.

All those additions on defense won’t help Peyton Manning score more than eight points if he faces the Seahawks again in the Super Bowl.

32. Seahawks: Kony Ealy, defensive end, Missouri.

With Chris Clemons and Red Bryant gone and Jared Allen picking the Bears, the Seahawks need to feed the unit that was critical to the team’s success in 2013.

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Rams waive Austin Pettis

Bryan Mattison,  Austin Pettis,  Lionel Smith AP

Austin Pettis’s days in St. Louis are done.

The Rams waived Pettis, a wide receiver and 2011 third-round draft pick, today. Pettis was surprisingly left inactive on Sunday after having played in all five previous games this season.

The 6-foot-3, 203-pound Pettis is a good athlete who showed promise at times but never quite lived up to what the Rams thought they were getting when they drafted him. This year Pettis has 12 catches for 118 yards and one touchdown.

Pettis has contributed enough, both on offense and on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner, that it wouldn’t be surprising to see some other team claim him on waivers tomorrow. But in St. Louis, he’s finished.

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Evan Mathis cleared to practice

Jacksonville Jaguars v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The Eagles have been without their preferred starting offensive line the entire season, but they are getting closer to having everyone healthy and available at the same time.

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly reports that Mathis has been cleared to return to practice as he makes his way back from an injured MCL and that he will do so on Wednesday. That’s the first day that Mathis is eligible to practice after being placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. He won’t be eligible to play until Week 10 and plans to ramp things up accordingly.

“I won’t jump back into it full speed. There’s no rushing into it,” Mathis said. “I have three weeks of practice before I have to play.”

With right tackle Lane Johnson back from suspension, center Jason Kelce is the other missing starter. Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday that Kelce hasn’t been cleared for full practice yet, but has been on track for a Week 10 return as well since having sports hernia surgery.

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Reggie Wayne, Trent Richardson having MRIs after Sunday injuries

Reggie Wayne, Terence Newman AP

The Colts didn’t have much stress during their shutout of the Bengals on Sunday, but they’ll have a bit of worrying to do as a few of their players head for MRIs after getting dinged on Sunday.

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, running back Trent Richardson and linebacker Jerrell Freeman are all headed to the tube to have their injuries evaluated.

Wayne injured his elbow during the contest, but was able to play through it. He wound up with four catches for 15 yards, giving him eight for 50 yards over two weeks that have had him looking like he’s a 35-year-old wideout returning from a torn ACL.

Richardson shrugged off his hamstring injury as nothing serious after the game, which was one of his best as a member of the Colts. Richardson gained 77 yards on 14 carries and added 41 more yards as a receiver. Freeman hurt his hip during the game, but returned to action.

Wednesday should bring updates on all three as the Colts start preparing for their trip to Pittsburgh.

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NFL and other sports leagues file suit to stop New Jersey betting

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With New Jersey planning to launch sports wagering this weekend, the NFL and others have filed a lawsuit hoping to block the expansion of gambling in a state that two pro football franchises technically call home.

Via ESPN.com, the NFL, NCAA, and other sports leagues initiated a legal action on Monday.  On Tuesday, a request will be made to block sports wagering while the case proceeds.

The NFL contends that the latest effort to legalize sports wagering in New Jersey attempts to circumvent federal law.  The NFL previously defeated under applicable federal law an effort by New Jersey to permit wagering on sports.

If New Jersey prevails, it’s unlikely that another Super Bowl would be hosted at MetLife Stadium.  Depending on how strongly the NFL feels about the issue, it’s also possible that the next Jets/Giants stadium would be built somewhere in New York.

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Jon Beason going to see a foot specialist again

Jon Beason AP

A frustrating season has continued for Giants linebacker Jon Beason.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters that Beason was going to see foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson after leaving yesterday’s game against the Cowboys.

Beason’s been bothered by a toe problem all season, and may have aggravated it yesterday. He’s missed three games, and hasn’t been able to stay well this season.

If anything, there’s familiarity there, as Anderson knows Beason’s (growing thicker) medical file well since he’s the Panthers’ team doctor as well.

When Beason’s on the field, he’s a difference-maker for the Giants defense. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to this season.

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Ravens sign a new long snapper after Morgan Cox tears ACL

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

It’s good that a player the caliber of Haloti Ngata is versatile, but the Ravens didn’t want to make him their full-time long-snapper.

So they found a new one today.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are signing veteran long snapper Kevin McDermott, after Morgan Cox tore his ACL in yesterday’s win over the Falcons.

McDermott has played with the 49ers and Broncos in the past.

When Cox left yesterday’s game, Ngata came in to snap for a late extra point. There seemed to be some confusion on the Ravens sideline about going for two given the injury to the snapper, but the veteran defensive tackle did the job capably.

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Kyle Fuller doesn’t need surgery on broken hand

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Bears are trying to combat reports of a broken locker room after frustrations spilled over after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, something that a win next week would surely help.

Their chances of getting that win would be improved if cornerback Kyle Fuller is able to play when they take on the Patriots, but he has a break of his own to contend with this week. Coach Marc Trestman confirmed Monday that Fuller broke his right hand during the game.

Fuller’s injury might not keep him out of the game, however. Trestman said that Fuller doesn’t need to have surgery to repair the injury and could play this week, although the condition of the hip pointer he also picked up on Sunday will have a lot to do with his chances of playing.

“He went out of the game because of his hip more than his hand,” Trestman said, via CBS Chicago. “So we’ll see where he’s at. He said he felt good today. He’ll be day-to-day. I don’t know that the hand will deter him. Up to this point today, I’ve heard it to be a non-surgical issue.”

Fuller, who was the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for September, is tied for the league lead with three interceptions and three forced fumbles. Sherrick McManis replaced him against Miami.

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Dr. Marvin Lewis says Vontaze Burfict is “fine”

Ahmad Bradshaw, Vontaze Burfict AP

A week ago, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was asked about linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s string of concussions, and he effectively blamed the media for making them linger.

So maybe we shouldn’t jump to too many conclusions about his latest diagnosis.

According to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com, Lewis said Burfict was “fine” after leaving yesterday’s game with a cervical strain.

While the problems may not be connected, Burfict clearly has issues with leading with his head. It’s caused fines in the past, but sticking the crown of his helmet into Andrew Luck left him with that sore neck.

Between the concussions and lingering effects, Burfict has finished exactly one game this season, and that’s the Panthers game in which he was fined for twisting legs.

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Josh McCown returns to practice

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

The Buccaneers held a workout on Monday to get back in the swing of things after their bye week and one player returned to work after a much longer absence.

Quarterback Josh McCown practiced for the first time since injuring his right thumb in Week Three. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that McCown wore a wrap on his thumb, but didn’t seem to have any problem making throws during the part of practice open to the media.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith has resisted making any pronouncements about who will start at quarterback over the rest of the season since McCown has been out, but has moved closer to shifting Mike Glennon from the quarterback of the future to the quarterback of the present based on his performances over the last three games.

Smith won’t have anything to say about the plans for this week’s game against the Vikings until Wednesday, but Glennon has played better than McCown and his youth gives him the potential for greater growth than the veteran McCown provides. That should matter to a 1-5 team, although we’ll see how Tampa decides to play things.

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Kirk Cousins benched, Colt McCoy will start until RG3 is cleared

grudenmccoy AP

The Kirk Cousins era is over in Washington.

Coach Jay Gruden announced today that Colt McCoy is his new starting quarterback until Robert Griffin III is cleared to return from his ankle injury. Gruden said he doesn’t know when Griffin will be cleared, but if he’s not cleared for next Monday night’s game against Dallas, then McCoy will start.

On one level, that doesn’t come as a big surprise: Cousins has been lousy, and McCoy provided the team with a spark when he came in after Cousins was benched on Sunday. It only makes sense to keep McCoy on the job.

But on another level, it’s a stunner: As recently as a couple weeks ago there was talk that Cousins was the best fit for Gruden’s offense and might keep the job over Griffin. Instead, Cousins is now Washington’s third-string quarterback.

Washington is going nowhere this season, and the most important priority is to get Griffin healthy and see if he can flourish in Gruden’s offense. All Cousins has done is show that not only is he not a threat to unseat Griffin as the No. 1 quarterback, but he’s not even good enough to be a No. 2 quarterback.

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Marc Trestman: Bears are “a very close football team”

trestman AP

Bears coach Marc Trestman says there are no rifts within his team, despite reports of screaming matches in the locker room after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.

“This is a very close football team,” Trestman said. “A lot of things can go on because people handle winning and losing differently, and we’re not judgmental about players expressing themselves.”

Asked specifically about receiver Brandon Marshall calling out quarterback Jay Cutler, Trestman said there’s “brotherly love” between Marshall and Cutler and that the two of them are fine, as are the rest of the guys in the locker room.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who I think are very close and like each other,” Trestman said.

Trestman said he’s fine with different players expressing themselves differently and that he welcomes passionate players.

“We have to always be accepting of how people express themselves after the game because they’re coming down from a week of working hard and building their emotions and passions for the game,” he said. “We have to be accepting and not judgmental, and let it pass.”

Ultimately, what the Bears really need to do to avoid players screaming at each other after a loss is to quit losing. With the next two games at New England and at Green Bay, that won’t be easy.

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Falcons place Peter Konz on injured reserve

Atlanta Falcons v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Falcons can’t stop losing offensive linemen to injuries.

The team announced Monday that center Peter Konz has been placed on season-ending injured reserve. He’s the second center to hit IR since the start of the regular season, joining Joe Hawley, and the fourth offensive lineman overall. Tackles Sam Baker and Lamar Holmes were also lost since the start of Week One and offensive lineman Mike Johnson went on injured reserve before the season got underway.

Konz injured his knee during Sunday’s loss to the Ravens and was replaced by James Stone, who figures to remain in the role when the Falcons face the Lions in London in Week Eight. Throwing an undrafted free agent into the middle of the line probably isn’t going to be the answer to the team’s issues with the unit, but they’ll have to make it work if they are going to turn around a season that has gone sour fast for the 2-5 team.

The Falcons also announced that they have signed tackle Jonathan Scott to take Konz’s place on the roster. Scott has played for the Lions, Bills, Steelers and Bears, but hasn’t seen regular season action since the 2012 season.

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Harvin says Jets have told him to be himself

Harvin AP

Jets receiver Percy Harvin met the New York media for the first time on Monday.  And while he wasn’t pressed as aggressively as the New York media’s reputation would suggest, Harvin elaborated much more on his circumstances than when he faced a strong of slo-pitch softballs from the media operation owned by the Jets.

Harvin opted not to delve into the events that resulted in the stunning trade that sent him from Seattle to New York.  “All I am is I’m moving forward,” Harvin said.  “I’m leaving what’s in the past in the past.”

On whether he’s a good teammate, Harvin said, “All I can say is judge me off of what you see.”

So what will we see?  Harvin said that management “told me to just come here and be myself.”  (Which reminds me of Bill Cosby’s take on cocaine.)

“I’m definitely not a perfect person,” Harvin said.  “I have a lot of things I wish I would have done a little differently.  I’m moving forward.  I’m learning from those lessons.”

He hopes to put the lessons to use for more than the next nine games.  “It’s definitely a place I want to be for a long time,” Harvin said.

“I just feel good here.  I feel welcome.  I’m ready to go.”

He’s ready to play for coach Rex Ryan.  “I love him,” Harvin said.  “Love him, love him.”

That’s good news for Rex.  Because Harvin reportedly has had multiple confrontations with coaches he didn’t love, love.

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Raiders veterans not sure how to get team moving in the right direction

Tony Sparano AP

The Raiders lost again on Sunday, running their record to 0-6 for the first time in 52 years and continuing a 12-game losing streak that extends into last season.

Among the many things to dislike about the outcome was the fact that the Raiders failed to build on the previous week’s gains on offense while the defense struggled to get off the field after spending the previous week concentrating on improving their play on third down. The Cardinals converted 60 percent of their third down tries, which was even worse than the NFL-worst 51 percent that the defense had given up coming into Week Seven.

“I don’t know how to take that … not being able to get it done,” safety Charles Woodson said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m not sure where to go with it at this point.”

Woodson’s veteran teammates share his confusion about how to move forward at this point in the season. Defensive tackle Antonio Smith said the team tries to fix things every week, only to be left “wondering why it ain’t working” on gameday. It’s the kind of thing that can make a team want to close up shop, but cornerback Carlos Rogers vowed to keep fighting and keep his teammates fighting in the weeks to come.

Even with that fight, though, he knows that better days aren’t guaranteed for a team that hasn’t won in a very long time.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Rogers said.

The Raiders will be in Cleveland next weekend for their next shot at finding a formula that works.

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Lions add Kellen Davis

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Kellen Davis will continue his NFL career in London.  Technically.

As the Lions prepare to face the Falcons at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Detroit has added the veteran tight end to the roster.

A pair of tight ends missed Sunday’s win over the Saints.  Joseph Fauria has an ankle injury, and rookie Eric Ebron has a hamstring problem.

Davis spent five years with the Bears, joining the Seahawks for 2013.  He was cut by the Giants before the start of the 2014 regular season.

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