Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 11:09 PM EDT
Thanks to this week’s ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Patriots face the prospect of playing the first four weeks of the season without quarterback Tom Brady.
That left them in need of a quarterback to go with Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster. They addressed that need in the third round on Friday night.
The Patriots drafted Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State with the 91st overall pick. Brissett is a big quarterback at 6’4″ and 231 pounds and had some big games against good opponents over the course of his ACC career, but there’s definitely work to be done if he’s going to be an NFL starter.
New England can afford to give him that time with Brady and Garoppolo on hand now and he could follow Garoppolo into the No. 2 job if he continues to develop.
The Patriots made their first pick of the year in the second round when they took Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones with the 60th overall pick. Jones also excelled as a returner in college. They traded the 61st pick to the Saints, receiving third- and fourth-round picks in return. They used the third rounder on offensive lineman Joe Thuney, who was a college teammate of Brissett.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 10:51 PM EDT
Ohio State set the record for the most players drafted from a school in a single year when they had 14 players selected in the 2004 draft.
They may not match that record this year, but the NFL announced that they have more players selected through the first three rounds than any school in history. There are 10 players from Columbus off the board.
When the Bills selected defensive tackle Adolphus Washington with the 80th overall pick, it meant that 10 percent of the players selected to that point were Buckeyes. The percentage swung even further in the direction of Urban Meyer’s talent pipeline when the Texans made wide receiver Braxton Miller the 85th overall pick and ninth Ohio State player selected, and then the Seahawks took tight end Nick Vannett with the 94th pick.
Five Buckeyes went on Thursday night and two more went to the Saints in the second round. New Orleans took wide receiver Michael Thomas with the 47th pick and then traded up with the Patriots to No. 61 to pick safety Vonn Bell.
With quarterback Cardale Jones, linebacker Joshua Perry and other Buckeyes still available, the number of Ohio State products is likely to grow before Saturday’s festivities come to an end.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 10:15 PM EDT
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said during the team’s minicamp this week that it was “very impressive” to see running back Jay Ajayi on the field, continuing a recent trend of confident notes about the backfield from Miami.
Early in free agency it looked like they weren’t so comfortable as they made an unsuccessful bid for C.J. Anderson as a restricted free agent and the team used a third-round pick to add another player to the mix. They selected Alabama running back Kenyan Drake at No. 73 overall on Friday night.
Drake has plenty of experience in backfield committees after sharing time with 2015 second-round pick T.J. Yeldon and 2016 second-round pick Derrick Henry at Alabama over the last two seasons. Drake, who broke his leg in 2014 and his arm in 2015, will bring speed out of the backfield and could be a pass receiving option as a complement to Ajayi.
Drake also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the NCAA title game last season and made several other big plays on special teams at Alabama, which should ensure him early playing time even if the running back rotation works out differently come September.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 9:43 PM EDT
The Raiders took Illinois defensive tackle Jihad Ward with the 44th overall pick of the draft on Friday night, adding to a defense that they’ve been building up over the last few years through free agency and the draft.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, some teams were concerned about the health of Ward’s knee and believe that he needs to have arthroscopic surgery that would keep him off the field for six weeks.
The Raiders are not one of those teams, however, and he’ll presumably be taking part in the team’s rookie minicamp before finishing out the rest of the offseason program. Ward only played two years at Illinois after starting his college career at the junior college level, but played with a lot of energy and has a build that could make him a fit at various positions across the defensive line in Oakland.
Oakland drafted Khalil Mack in the first round and added defensive tackle Justin Ellis in the fourth round of the 2014 draft before picking defensive end Mario Edwards in the second round last year. Edwards suffered a neck injury that has created some doubt about his availability in 2016.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 8:48 PM EDT
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets haven’t been able to agree on a contract for the 2016 season and the chances of the Jets upping their offer for Fitzpatrick’s services may have taken a hit in the second round of the draft.
With the 51st pick of the draft, the Jets selected Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
Hackenberg had a strong first season with Penn State under Bill O’Brien, but struggled in his two seasons with James Franklin as the head coach. Accuracy was a major problem for Hackenberg and he took a ton of sacks, but has the size and arm that makes talent evaluators swoon because he looks like an NFL quarterback.
We’ll see how quickly he gets a chance to show that he can be one. With no Fitzpatrick, the Jets have Geno Smith and Bryce Petty on the depth chart at quarterback and it’s hard to predict how things will play out if they remain the three quarterbacks into the season.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 8:18 PM EDT
Former Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse has been getting a lot of airtime as he announces the team’s second-round picks on Friday night and he returned to the podium to let everyone know that the Titans selected running back Derrick Henry with the 45th overall pick.
Henry ran for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries while helping Alabama to the National Championship during the 2015 season. He won the Heisman Trophy for his individual efforts and became the second running back selected in this year’s draft.
At 6’3″ and 247 pounds, Henry is a big back and should fit right into the “exotic smashmouth” offense that coach Mike Mularkey wants the Titans to play. He’ll join DeMarco Murray in the Tennessee backfield and Henry looks like a good fit as a banger when defenses have worn down over the course of a game.
The Titans previously added defensive end Kevin Dodd and defensive tackle Austin Johnson during the second round. They’ll be back with the first pick of the third round unless they decide to trade down.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 7:55 PM EDT
On talent alone, there’s a pretty good chance Noah Spence would have been drafted in the first round.
Spence had red flags after positive drug tests for Ecstasy while he was at Ohio State, however, and that led him to continue his career at Eastern Kentucky and led some teams to think twice about drafting him that early. His wait to find out his NFL home didn’t last long on Friday night.
The Buccaneers made Spence the 39th overall selection and he helps fill a pass rushing need that the Bucs also worked to address in free agency by signing Robert Ayers. With Ayers and Spence flanking Gerald McCoy up the middle, Tampa Bay’s pass rushing presence looks a lot better on paper than it did when the 2015 season came to an end.
Throw in first-round cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and there’s more reason to believe that the Bucs defense will be better in Dirk Koetter’s first season as the team’s head coach.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 7:46 PM EDT
The Chiefs didn’t have a pick in the first round and Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones didn’t get picked in the first round despite getting an invite to the green room, but both waits came to an end with the 37th overall pick.
Former Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson announced the pick for the Chiefs, who traded their first round pick to the 49ers on Thursday night. Jones was selected with a pick they received in return and Kansas City also has the 59th overall selection.
Jones declared for the draft after his first full year as a starter in Starkville, which saw him show a lot of potential as a pass rusher from the interior of the line. There were some knocks about his effort level, although he showed at the combine that he could keep running even when his wardrobe wasn’t cooperating.
Jones will play alongside Dontari Poe this season, but Poe is entering the fifth and final year of his contract so the partnership could be a short-lived one.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 7:31 PM EDT
Jaylon Smith isn’t expected to play a down in 2016 and there are some questions about what will happen from there, but if he does get on the field he’ll do it wearing a Cowboys uniform.
The Cowboys made Smith the third pick of the second round on Friday night, 34th overall, and the selection backs up a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN this week that there was interest in taking him before the more common predictions of the third round for the Notre Dame product.
Smith suffered a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl and there are serious concerns about nerve damage to sort out, leaving the Cowboys to take a gamble on a player that would have been gone in the first 5-10 picks if he was healthy. That’s a bet that could pay off handsomely given the kind of playmaker Smith was in South Bend, but there’s a way to go before we’ll have any idea if he’ll still be that kind of player.
Taking that risk won’t help them turn things around in 2016, however, so the defense will still need to be addressed as the draft progresses for the Cowboys.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 4:51 PM EDT
The Panthers added a defensive tackle to the roster on Thursday night when they made Vernon Butler the 30th overall pick of the draft and the position group got a little deeper on Friday.
PFT reported Friday afternoon that the Panthers claimed Robert Thomas off of waivers from the Dolphins and the team made the move official a short time later.
Thomas was waived by the Dolphins on Thursday after the conclusion of a three-day minicamp. Thomas played one game for the Dolphins last season after the team signed him off of the Patriots practice squad in early December, but wound up on injured reserve after assisting on one tackle in a Week 13 victory over the Ravens. Thomas has also spent time with the Redskins and Seahawks since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas in 2014.
The Panthers now have Butler, Thomas and Paul Soliai behind Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei. Short is set to be a free agent after next season while the team has exercised its fifth-year option on Lotulelei’s contract.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 4:36 PM EDT
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack won’t be the only player opting to watch the second night of the draft from a different location than the green room at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd will also pass on a return visit after he went undrafted in the first round. Dodd will be back in South Carolina with his family instead.
Dodd’s name was frequently included as a first round pick in mock drafts along with college teammate Shaq Lawson, who went 19th overall to the Bills, over the last few months, but NFL teams didn’t share those opinions when it came time to make their selections. It seems likely that he’ll hear his name called in the early part of the second round.
A trio of Alabama defenders – linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive tackles A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed — and Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones were the other players left in the green room when the first round concluded.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 3:52 PM EDT
The Buccaneers added cornerback Vernon Hargreaves to the roster in the first round of the draft on Thursday night and they have seven more picks before things wrap up on Saturday with a class of undrafted free agents to follow, which made Friday a day to clear out some roster space for the new arrivals.
The team announced that they have waived eight players who failed to convince the team they were worth keeping around during this week’s three-day minicamp. Wide receiver Andre Davis, linebacker Darius Eubanks, guard Antoine Everett, safety Gerod Holliman, defensive tackle Derrick Lott, safety Kimario McFadden, linebacker Jermauria Rasco and cornerback C.J. Roberts were the unlucky octet sent packing.
McFadden played three games for the Bucs last season and made two tackles. Eubanks spent a week on the active roster, but saw his only NFL regular season action in nine games with the Browns during the 2013 season. Davis, Everett, Holliman, Lott and Roberts all spent time on the practice squad last year.
The Bucs are next on the clock with the eighth pick of the second round.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 3:02 PM EDT
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.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 2:16 PM EDT
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.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 29, 2016, 12:04 PM EDT
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.