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PFT Draft Prop No. 3: Marcus Mariota’s draft position: 2.5

Marcus Mariota AP

Leading up to Thursday’s NFL draft, we’ll put on our oddsmaking hats, Ace Rothstein glasses and Terry Benedict suits and set one proposition “bet” per day for PFT Planet to ponder. At the conclusion of the draft, we’ll see how PFT Planet did on the wagers, which are for entertainment purposes only.

PFT Draft Prop No. 3: Over-Under on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota’s draft position: 2.5.

As our draft props go, this is the most straight-forward of them all. It’s this simple: Do you see Mariota being taken No. 1 or No. 2 overall, or do you see him sliding beyond those first two picks?

The uncertainty of how the Titans will proceed with the second overall selection adds to the intrigue regarding Mariota. If the Titans want to move the pick to a club seeking a quarterback, they can surely trade down for an attractive package of picks and/or players.

So let’s get right to it. Let us know when you believe Mariota hears his name called via the poll and in the comments.

Previous draft props

PFT Draft Prop No. 1: Over-Under on first-round RBs: 2.5.

PFT Draft Prop No. 2: Amari Cooper’s draft position: 4.5.

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Report: Jets believed to “have an affinity for” Andrus Peat

Foster Farms Bowl - Maryland v Stanford Getty Images

With a new head coach (Todd Bowles) and General Manager (Mike Maccagnan) in the fold, and with a host of roster needs, the Jets could go numerous ways with the No. 6 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.

However, a few other clubs reportedly think they have an inkling of a prospect New York especially likes.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, “several” NFL personnel directors suspect the Jets are fond of Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat.

Offensive line would be a logical area for the Jets to address early in the draft. Three of their starters are at least 31 years old, and right tackle Breno Giacomini turns 30 in November. Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who enters his 10th season as a starter, will turn 32 in December.

As the Daily News notes, Peat took a pre-draft visit to the Jets, who have six draft selections in 2015. Given their lack of picks, the Jets would seem a logical trade-down candidate.

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Unnamed personnel executive: Class of 2015 has “no draftable kickers”

Reese's Senior Bowl Getty Images

There have been multiple kickers selected in each of the last three drafts.

However, there’s some feeling that not a single kicker merits being selected in the upcoming draft, which starts Thursday in Chicago.

In a story published Sunday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an unnamed personnel executive panned the kickers in the Class of 2015.

“There’s no draftable kickers,” the executive said, according to the Journal Sentinel‘s Bob McGinn. “The combine was probably the worst display of kicking talent I’ve ever seen. It was, like, ‘Are you kidding me? You can’t develop a kicker?’ ”

In his 2015 NFL Draft Preview, personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki gave six kickers draftable grades, with Louisiana-Monroe’s Justin Manton getting the highest mark. However, only Manton received a grade equating to a “fair chance to earn a roster spot,” with the other five kickers graded as “capable of battling for a roster spot.”

It’s uncommon to have a draft without a kicker selected. The last was in 2010, which snapped an 11-year streak of at least one kicker drafted per spring.

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PFT Draft Prop No. 2: Amari Cooper’s draft position: 4.5

Amari Cooper AP

Leading up to Thursday’s NFL draft, we’ll put on our oddsmaking hats and Ace Rothstein glasses and set one proposition “bet” per day for PFT Planet to ponder. At the conclusion of the draft, we’ll see how PFT Planet did on the wagers, which are for entertainment purposes only.

Here’s the second in our series of five draft-related props:

PFT Draft Prop No. 2: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper’s draft position in Round One: 4.5.

Cooper is certain to be one of the top receivers taken on Thursday. Though quite unlikely to be the No. 1 overall pick, Cooper could seemingly appeal to a variety of other clubs selecting early, including Tennessee at No. 2 or Oakland at No. 4. In fact, Rotoworld draft expert Josh Norris has the Raiders taking Cooper in his latest mock.

However, Cooper could also fit with teams after Oakland in the draft order, with Washington (No. 5), the Jets (No. 6) and Bears (No. 7) all logical landing spots.

So where does Amari Cooper land in Round One? The poll is open, as are the comments.

Previous draft props

PFT Draft Prop No. 1: Over-Under on first-round RBs: 2.5

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PFT Draft Prop No. 1: Over-Under on first-round RBs: 2.5

Melvin Gordon AP

After two consecutive years without a running back being selected in Round One, it’s likely the 2015 NFL Draft will have at least one first-round tailback, with Georgia’s Todd Gurley seemingly the favorite to be the first back off the board some time Thursday.

The question is, what other backs will be selected in Round One? Will Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon hear his name called among the first 32 picks? Rotoworld draft expert Josh Norris sees Gurley, then Gordon, getting picked in the first round next week.

And if Gordon goes second, who will be the third back off the board? Could a back like Boise State’s Jay Ajayi be a late first-rounder? How about Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah or Indiana’s Tevin Coleman? Will some team trade back into Round One to secure the runner of its choice before Thursday ends, a la Detroit five years ago for Jahvid Best?

The first-round running back question, then, is a perfect way to start PFT’s Draft Props series. Here’s the idea: We set a number and the odds on each side of the props, and we put it to PFT Planet to vote on which side they would prefer. Each vote will count as one unit of measure. When the draft ends, we’ll tally the results.

With this in mind, here is our Over-Under on first-round tailbacks: 2.5.

And here are the odds we’ve set:

PFT Draft Prop No. 1: How many running backs will be selected in Round One of the 2015 NFL Draft?

OVER 2.5 running backs — +200

UNDER 2.5 running backs — -240

As always, go ahead and give us your take in the comments and via the poll below.

UPDATE: After 131 of the first 138 votes were for UNDER, we’ve adjusted the odds to OVER +150 and UNDER -170. We’ll score the first votes under the old odds (+125/-145) accordingly.

UPDATE No. 2: With 1,229-of-1,323 votes for UNDER, we’ll move to +200/-240.

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Unnamed scout on Kevin White: “He’s like Larry Fitzgerald”

TCU West Virginia Football AP

West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White is just about a lock to hear his name called in the first round of next week’s draft, with all but the matter of whether he’ll be the first player at his position to be taken to be decided.

In his latest mock draft, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris projected the Mountaineers star to come off the board at No. 7 to Chicago, calling White one of “a handful of foundation pieces in this draft.”

As a senior at West Virginia, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound White hauled in 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. He then proceeded to run an impressive 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

White also received some high praise in Nolan Nawrocki’s 2015 NFL Draft Preview. In White’s scouting report, Nawrocki quoted an unnamed scout who called the West Virginia receiver “the top player in the East hands down.”

Said the unnamed scout: “He is the reason they are in every game. He’s like Larry Fitzgerald.”

On PFT Live in March, White said Fitzgerald, the Cardinals’ star receiver, had given him good advice about competing in the NFL.

“He’s kind of like my mentor, somebody that I look up to that’s in the NFL,” White said.

The No. 3 overall pick 11 years ago, Fitzgerald has had a stellar career, one that figures to garner him serious Hall of Fame consideration. If White is in the same ballpark as Fitzgerald in terms of impact, some club is going to be very happy to have turned in a card with his name on it next Thursday in Chicago.

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Report: Montana DE-OLB Zack Wagenmann breaks foot in pre-draft workout

2015 NFL Scouting Combine Getty Images

A defensive end/outside linebacker prospect who’s thought to have a shot at being selected in the later rounds of the draft has reportedly suffered a broken foot in a workout with an NFL club.

Montana’s Zack Wagenmann is expected to miss eight weeks or more with the injury but is likely to be ready for training camp, ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported Thursday. It wasn’t immediately known with which club Wagenmann was working when he suffered the injury.

Wagenmann (6-3, 247) notched 37.5 sacks in four seasons with Montana, including 17.5 as a senior. His 37.5-inch vertical jump was third among defensive ends at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

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Report: Nike reaches deals with Mariota, Winston, three other top prospects

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If it’s draft season, then it’s time for apparel companies to strike deals with some of the top incoming NFL prospects.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Nike has signed Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon to endorsement contracts.

News of the Nike deal with Winston comes as he faces a civil lawsuit regarding a sexual assault allegation levied by a Florida State student in 2012. Winston was never charged criminally in connection with the allegation.

“Jameis has stated his innocence regarding serious charges made against him. We’ll continue to monitor the situation,” a Nike spokesperson told ESPN.com.

Winston, Mariota, Gurley and Cooper played for schools that sported Nike-branded uniforms. Gordon, meanwhile, wore an Adidas-branded uniform at Wisconsin.

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Jaelen Strong visiting Steelers

Jaelen Strong AP

The Steelers are hosting one of the well-regarded wide receivers in the Class of 2015.

Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong is visiting Pittsburgh on Friday, Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest reported.

As a redshirt junior in 2014, Strong (6-2, 217) hauled in 82 passes for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Sun Devils.

The Steelers select 21st in Round One. With Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant already in the fold, wide receiver is not a pressing need for Pittsburgh. That said, the Steelers’ offense could stand to upgrade its fourth WR spot, and Strong would certainly help in that regard.

Strong was slated to be at the Combine medical re-evaluation this weekend in Indianapolis because of a wrist injury suffered in 2014, but he will not be attending due to a schedule conflict. However, he has shared updated medical information with teams. Strong has indicated he does not need surgery for the injury.

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Recalling the fascinating 2000 NFL Draft

Sebastian Janikowski AP

It was the draft where collegiate teammates were selected first and second overall, the draft where the first kicker was taken before the first quarterback.

The draft where the best player was taken in Round Six.

Yes, it was the 2000 NFL Draft, which kicked off 15 years ago Wednesday in New York.

Here are some of memorable occurrences from this dial-up era draft:

  • The top two picks — defensive Courtney Brown (Cleveland) and linebacker LaVar Arrington (Washington) — played together on the same defense at Penn State. However, injuries limited both players from having long careers. Arrington had the better NFL run, making three Pro Bowls, but he was gone from the game by 2007.
  • Past trades left a few clubs sitting pretty in Round One. Here are three examples. One, Washington selected Arrington with a pick New Orleans dealt for Ricky Williams in 1998. Two, the Ravens took tailback Jamal Lewis at No. 5 — a pick that Atlanta dealt the previous in the previous draft for a second-round choice. Finally, the Jets took edge rusher John Abraham at No. 13 — a selection that once belonged to San Diego. However, the Chargers traded the pick for a second-round selection in 1998.
  • It’s here we pause to say that trading a future No. 1 pick for a current No. 2 pick is generally not advisable.
  • Washington held the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks. After taking Arrington, Washington selected left tackle Chris Samuels, who made six Pro Bowls and spent his entire 10-season career with the club. Washington acquired the No. 3 pick by trading picks Nos. 12 and 24 to San Francisco.
  • The Jets had four No. 1 picks — and did well with all of them, selecting defensive lineman Shaun Ellis 12th, Abraham 13th, quarterback Chad Pennington 18th and tight end Anthony Becht 27th.
  • Pennington was the first quarterback off the board and the only passer selected in the first two rounds. He was taken one spot after the Raiders selected placekicker Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders also took the first punter (Shane Lechler, Round Five). Both specialists are still in the league.
  • The 16th pick belonged to the Patriots, but it went to the Jets as compensation to sign Bill Belichick. The Jets ultimately traded the selection to the 49ers to move up for Ellis (No. 12). At No. 16, the Niners took outside linebacker Julian Peterson, a five-time Pro Bowler.
  • Fun fact: the Saints gave up a seventh-round pick to hire then-Kansas City assistant Ron Zook as their special teams coach.
  • How’s this for old school? Five tailbacks were selected in Round One, including three in the first 11 picks: Lewis, Thomas Jones (Arizona, No. 7), Ron Dayne (N.Y. Giants, No. 11). The others were Shaun Alexander (No. 19, Seattle) and Trung Candiate (No. 31, St. Louis).
  • How’s this for new school? At No. 9, the Bears selected linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose rare speed and athleticism made him ideally suited for the 21st-century game.
  • Ultimately, though, the 2000 draft will be remembered for quarterback Tom Brady lasting until pick No. 199. He was the seventh of 10 Patriots draft picks and the second of the club’s choices in Round Six. Twelve selections before taking Brady, the Patriots took reserve defensive back Antwan Harris, who played in 52 regular season games and was a key contributor in New England’s Super Bowl XXXVI run, including when he scored on a blocked field goal in the AFC title game.
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USC’s Leonard Williams among 26 prospects slated to attend draft

2015 NFL Scouting Combine Getty Images

Southern Cal defensive end Leonard Williams, regarded as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2015, is one of 26 prospects expected to be in Chicago for the NFL draft, the league announced Tuesday.

Williams could be the first non-quarterback selected in Round One. The top two quarterbacks — Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota — are not slated to attend the draft, but their absences have been expected.

Round One of the draft begins on Thursday, April 30.

Here is the list of attendees:

Oregon DL Arik Armstead.

Clemson LB Vic Beasley.

LSU OT La’el Collins.

Alabama S Landon Collins.

Kentucky LB Bud Dupree.

Florida State C Cameron Erving.

Florida OLB Dante Fowler, Jr.

Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon.

Nebraska OLB Randy Gregory.

Georgia RB Todd Gurley.

Florida OT D.J. Humphries.

Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson.

Connecticut CB Byron Jones.

Mississippi State LB Benardrick McKinney.

Louisville WR DeVante Parker.

Stanford OT Andrus Peat.

Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman.

Missouri DE Shane Ray.

Iowa OL Brandon Scherff.

Washington DT Danny Shelton.

Ohio State WR Devin Smith.

Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong.

Duke OG Laken Tomlinson.

Michigan State CB Trae Waynes.

West Virginia WR Kevin White.

USC DE Leonard Williams.

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John Harbaugh on Sarah Thomas: “She’s a good ref”

Sarah Thomas AP

The NFL officially announced Wednesday it had hired Sarah Thomas as a line judge, thus making her the first full-time female official in league history.

Thomas has previous NFL experience in preseason games as well as in practices, and she has made a positive impression one of the NFL’s longer-tenured head coaches.

At the Ravens’ pre-draft press conference Wednesday, head coach John Harbaugh praised the hiring of Thomas. His response came to a question on how the head coach might deal with any disagreement with Thomas.

“We’ve seen you get upset at officials before,” a male reporter asked Harbaugh. “Might your approach differ?”

“Oh, no,” Harbaugh said. “You know, we had her in the preseason last year, and she did a good job.”

Harbaugh continued: “She might be one of the better ones we had, so it’s about time.”

The Ravens’ head coach smiled a little as he finished that mark, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome, seated next to Harbaugh, had a laugh.

“Get these guys straightened out a little bit, get some gals in there,” Harbaugh went on.

Turning more serious, Harbaugh said: “No, she’s a good ref, so it was a good choice.”

Thomas and the other new officials will work at NFL organized team activities next month.

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Marcus Peters, Dorial Green-Beckham have visited Ravens

Dorial Green-Beckham AP

A pair of well-regarded prospects dismissed from college teams have taken pre-draft visits to Baltimore.

The Ravens have met with former Washington cornerback Marcus Peters and ex-Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, General Manager Ozzie Newsome said at the club’s pre-draft press conference Wednesday.

The Ravens select 26th in Round One, and Peters and Green-Beckham are both regarded as first-round talents.

However, both come with off-field concerns.

At Missouri, Green-Beckham was twice cited on marijuana charges, and he was kicked out of the program after an incident in which he is alleged to have pushed a woman, causing her to fall down some stairs. Charges were never filed in the case, with witnesses reportedly declining to pursue the matter against Green-Beckham.

Green-Beckham later transferred to Oklahoma, but he never played for the Sooners before declaring for the draft.

Peters, meanwhile, was said to clash with coaches before his dismissal from Washington.

Pre-draft visits do not necessarily signal a club’s interest in a prospect. They do, however, allow a team to better learn about the player. In the cases of Peters and Green-Beckham, gathering more information seems prudent — and particularly so in the case of Green-Beckham, considering the aftermath of the Ray Rice incident in Baltimore.

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Jared Lorenzen: Jameis Winston doesn’t look that big

Jameis Winston AP

Jameis Winston’s pro day workout brought another round of discussion about how much weight Winston is carrying around his midsection and whether that’s a bad sign for his future as an NFL quarterback.

One of the heftier quarterbacks to play in the league has weighed in with his opinion and the man known as the Hefty Lefty doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about. Jared Lorenzen says that he Winston “doesn’t look that big” and that he thinks comparisons to JaMarcus Russell based on the way Winston looked this week are as much of a stretch as predicting he’ll be the next Tom Brady because Brady looked a bit doughy before he was drafted.

Beyond that, Lorenzen thinks that a little extra baggage might help Winston hold up to the grind of an NFL season.

“You’re not outrunning people,” Lorenzen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “You still got to have your quick feet. You still got to have your mobility, quick arm release, all that. But I don’t think being big at the quarterback position is a bad thing. I was talking to some people earlier: Name me the last big quarterback that got hurt. You look around the league, all these skinny guys that can run around — RG3 — all these guys are always hurt. The big guys are used to it. We can take the pounding. We can take what it’s like to play 16 to 20 games a season.”

There are a few more weeks left to debate whether Winston’s fitness, on-field production and off-field issues add up to a player worthy of the first overall pick, although none of those debates mean a thing as long as the Bucs have decided that he’s their guy.

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Report: Bryce Petty to visit Packers

Bryce Petty AP

Aaron Rodgers turns 32 in December, which should leave him with plenty of years as the starting quarterback in Green Bay.

That means it is a bit early for the team to start thinking about a quarterback to groom as Rodgers’s eventual replacement at the helm of their offense. It’s not too early for them to think about adding a younger prospect at a lower rung of their depth chart, however.

The team is expected to bring Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty in for one of their 30 visits with players eligible for the 2015 draft, which was first reported by Scout.com. Petty is near the top of the list of quarterbacks not named Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota and has been widely projected to be picked as early as the second round this year.

That would be early for the Packers to take a player who wouldn’t see the field under the best of circumstances, but adding a young backup to go with Scott Tolzien would make some sense after Green Bay had to scramble to line up replacements for Rogers when he was hurt during the 2013 season.

B.J. Coleman, a 2012 seventh-rounder, was the last quarterback drafted by the Packers and the only one they’ve taken in the last six years.

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