Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro declares for draft

Getty Images

University of Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro announced on social media he will forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the 2018 draft.

“I will not be returning for my senior year and will be declaring early for the 2018 NFL draft,” Pineiro wrote. “Thank you Gator nation and the University of Florida for a great 2 years from me and my family!”

In two seasons with the Gators, Pineiro set the school record by making 88.4 percent of his field goals. He went 38-for-43 and twice had stretches where he made at least 13 consecutive field goals.

He finished this season with 16 consecutive makes, earning third-team All-America honors after going 17-for-18.

Pineiro joins UF teammates Taven Bryan, a defensive lineman, and Antonio Callaway, a receiver, in announcing his intentions to leave school early.

Josh Rosen tweets he has not made a decision about the 2018 draft

Getty Images

It will come as a great surprise if UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen doesn’t skip his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, but Rosen isn’t ready to make that announcement yet.

So Rosen took to Twitter on Thursday after a report surfaced he had made his decision.

Rosen tweeted he has not ready to announce anything: “Please stop reporting false news. I have not made any significant decisions and do not plan on it any time soon. All you guys are doing is making me answer calls and texts from concerned friends and family members.”

Rosen is expected to be a top pick in the 2018 draft if/when he declares.

In three seasons with the Bruins, he completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 9,301 yards with 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst declares for draft but will play in bowl game

Getty Images

South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst announced he would skip his final season and enter the NFL Draft. Hurst, though, plans to play in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against Michigan, via Josh Kendall of The State.

Hurst, 24, announced his decision Thursday on social media.

“I have been searching for the right way to announce my decision without being a distraction to my team during the season, but after many questions I wanted the announcement to come from me personally,” Hurst wrote. “After sitting down with my family and coach [Will] Muschamp I have decided to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft after this season.”

Hurst, one of only three tight ends in school history with more than 1,000 career yards, earned first-team All-SEC honors this season.

FSU safety Derwin James declares for NFL Draft

Getty Images

Florida State safety Derwin James announced Tuesday he will forgo his final season and declare for the NFL Draft. He will not play in the Seminoles’ Independence Bowl game against Southern Miss on Dec. 27.

“After a lot of prayer and plenty of conversations with my coaches and especially my teammates, I’m ready to begin preparing for my next chapter: Becoming the next great Florida State DB in the NFL,” James wrote on The Players’ Tribune. “I feel extremely grateful that every person I spoke to supported my decision to begin my training immediately. They all know how much this program means to me, and they saw firsthand how much it killed me to be away from the field when I injured my knee last year. It’s hard to really believe I’ll never wear that garnet and gold uniform again, but everyone I’ve reached out to has agreed that this is the best decision for me and my family.

“But that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.”

James made 84 tackles, two interceptions and 11 pass breakups this season.

Three University of Texas players — cornerback Holton Hill, safety DeShon Elliott and left tackle Connor Williams — have opted to skip their team’s bowl game and enter the draft.

Holton Hill becomes third University of Texas player to declare for draft

Getty Images

University of Texas junior cornerback Holton Hill will forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. He joins safety DeShon Elliott and left tackle Connor Williams in skipping the team’s bowl game after deciding to leave.

Texas plays Missouri at the Texas Bowl in Houston on December 27.

“The past three years at Texas have been a great learning experience for me,” Hill said in a statement, via the Dallas Morning News. “I appreciate everyone who has helped me throughout my college career, especially Coach [Tom] Herman, Coach [James] Washington, Coach [Todd] Orlando and Coach [Charlie] Strong.”

Hill missed the team’s past three games, serving a suspension for violating team rules. He made 51 tackles, intercepted two passes and scored three total touchdowns this season.

The 2018 NFL Draft begins April 27 in Arlington, Texas.

Texans hope moving training camp results in next step

Getty Images

Texans owner Bob McNair committed $4 million to move training camp from Houston to The Greenbrier Sports and Performance Center in West Virginia. He hopes the cooler weather pays off on the field during the season.

It’s a beautiful place,” McNair said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “The facilities are great. We had a productive practice for 2½ hours. I don’t think we could quite do that in 100-degree weather, so it’s been very productive.”

The Texans have yet to reach the AFC Championship Game. That is the team’s next step. However, though they return the nucleus from the league’s top-rated defense last season, they seem no closer with Tom Savage expected to start at quarterback and Deshaun Watson waiting in the wings.

“I guess the most exciting thing is to see the improvement in our offense that I think we’ll see,” McNair said. “I think it’s just going to be a little more productive. I think that our run game is so important to us, and I think that we’ve got multiple running backs that can do well. I think that our passing game’s going to be better. We’ve got some good, young receivers. I think they’re going to be able to put more points on the board. It’s a chance for [Savage] to get out there and show what he can do, and I think he’s talented. It’s a good group.

“Our defense was outstanding last year. I think we’re going to have a big improvement in our offense this year, and the defense is going to step it up a little, also. We ought to be well-balanced. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Eighty years ago Tuesday, the NFL instituted a rookie draft

Getty Images

Imagine an NFL without this.

Or this.

Or this.

Yes, the NFL would be a little less interesting without a draft.

On this day in 1935, NFL owners changed the way rookies were selected into the league, installing a draft for 1936. The idea was that of then-Commissioner Bert Bell.

The other major American sports eventually added their own drafts, too. The NBA, with its lottery to determine the first 14 picks and its snappy two-round format, knows how to put on a good selection meeting of its own.

But there is nothing quite like the focus on the NFL’s draft. The relatively long lead-up to the event helps. Draft coverage begins in earnest in late-January at the Senior Bowl and really starts to ramp up in late-February with the NFL Scouting Combine. There are reams and reams and reams of mock drafts.

Then, there is the event itself.

And when that is over, there are the early look-ahead mock drafts for next spring.

Saints sign first-round pick Stephone Anthony

Getty Images

As is becoming customary around the NFL, another club has quickly wrapped up a contract with a first-round pick.

The Saints have signed Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony, the No. 31 overall selection, to a four-year contract, the team said Tuesday. The Saints hold also hold an option on Anthony for 2019.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Anthony was a first-team all-ACC performer in 2014, recording 90 tackles. He likely fits at inside linebacker in the Saints’ 3-4 defense.

“There are a handful of linebackers, really, that we felt that could play inside and potentially outside, all of which we feel like are real good players,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said after the selection of Anthony, according to a transcript from the club. “But we like the makeup, his size, his flexibility, position flexibility, I think he can play either inside position. I think he is probably most suited to play ‘Mike,’ so he has that body type.

The Saints now have struck deals with 8-of-9 draft choices. Only Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat, the No. 13 overall pick, remains unsigned. The club has its rookie minicamp over the weekend.

Jets sign WR Devin Smith


The Jets have reached a deal with their second-round pick.

Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith, the No. 37 overall selection in the 2015 draft, has signed his contract with the Jets, the team said Friday evening.

The 6-foot, 196-pound Smith was a big-play threat throughout his collegiate career, hauling in 121 passes for 2,503 yards and 30 touchdowns, including 33-931-12 for the national-champion Buckeyes in 2014.

Smith joins a Jets receiving corps that already had a solid 1-2 punch in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Smith, then, could be a complementary part of the offense in Year One, with his downfield speed a potential asset to an attack that hasn’t exactly scared defenses in recent seasons.

With Smith in the fold, first-round pick Leonard Williams, a standout defensive end from USC, is the Jets’ lone unsigned draft choice.

Seahawks sign six draft picks

Getty Images

Like numerous NFL clubs, the Seahawks are wrapping up deals with rookies at a quick pace.

Seattle has signed six draft picks, the club said Friday. Among those signing were San Diego State offensive guard Terry Poole (Round Four), West Virginia offensive guard Mark Glowinski (Round Four), Oregon State defensive end Obum Gwacham (Round Six) and Oregon State safety Ryan Murphy (Round Seven).

The team also announced the signings of Towson cornerback Tye Smith (Round Five) and Buffalo center Kristjan Sokoli (Round Six). Their pacts with the club had been reported Thursday.

The Seahawks will give Poole and Glowinski reps at guard, tackle and center to see where they fit, offensive line coach Tom Cable said after the draft, according to the club’s website.

Gwacham (6-5, 246) is a former wide receiver who was clocked at 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. If he doesn’t make the roster, it’s possible the Seahawks could stash him on the practice squad to allow him to develop. Murphy (6-3, 214) has the size the Seahawks like in their defensive backs.

Finally, the Seahawks announced the addition of 10 undrafted free agents: Texas long snapper Nate Boyer, Idaho offensive tackle Jesse Davis, Norfolk State defensive back Keenan Lambert, Louisiana State defensive back Ronald Martin, Georgia Tech linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, Central Michigan tailback Thomas Rawls, Montana State linebacker Alex Singleton, West Georgia defensive end Tory Slater, Ohio State tailback Rod Smith, Texas-San Antonio defensive back Triston Wade.

Ex-Michigan defensive end Frank Clark (Round Two) and Kansas State returner/wide receiver Tyler Lockett (Round Three) are the Seahawks’ lone unsigned rookies.

Rams sign 15 undrafted free agents

Getty Images

A key defensive line cog for a program known for producing NFL talent has signed a free agent deal with the Rams.

Iowa defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat, who notched 69 tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Hawkeyes in 2014, is the long Big Ten product among the 15 undrafted free agents reaching deals with St. Louis, the club said Friday.

Trinca-Pasat (6-3, 290) will aim to garner a reserve role behind Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Nick Fairley in the Rams’ defensive tackle rotation.

The Rams also reached deals with these rookie free agents: Texas tailback Malcolm Brown, Northwestern State defensive back Imoan Claiborne, Arkansas Pine-Bluff wide receiver Isiah Ferguson, Texas State tailback Terrence Franks, South Alabama defensive back Montell Garner, Liberty defensive back Jacob Hagen, Mississippi State defensive back Jay Hughes, Georgia Tech fullback Zach Laskey, Northwestern Missouri State defensive lineman Matt Longacre, Syracuse linebacker Cameron Lynch, Bacone linebacker Keshaun Malone, Texas Tech wide receiver Bradley Marquez, New Mexico Highlands wide receiver Tyler Slavin and South Florida offensive lineman Darrell Williams.

Dolphins add 14 undrafted free agents


Alabama’s third-leading receiver in 2014 is among the 14 undrafted free agent signees announced by the Dolphins on Friday.

Christion Jones, who hauled in 19 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown last season for the Crimson Tide, will vie to make the Dolphins as a backup wide receiver. Jones’s special teams ability could be key to his chances; as a senior, he returned 37 kickoffs for 851 yards and 19 punts for 152 yards.

The Dolphins also added a pair of rookie specialists: Tennessee punter Matt Darr and RPI placekicker Andrew Franks. As a senior in 2014, Darr averaged 42.2 gross yards on 80 punts, with 30 punts inside the 20 and 30 fair catches forced. Franks kicked off and punted in 2014, connecting on 16-of-25 field goals and forcing 33 touchbacks in 57 kickoffs.

Here are Miami’s other rookie free agents: Arizona offensive lineman Mickey Baucus, Georgia defensive end Ray Drew, Penn State linebacker Mike Hull, Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones, Kansas wide receiver Nigel King, Illinois State offensive lineman Michael Liedtke, Cincinnati linebacker Jeff Luc, UCLA defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, Bowling Green defensive end Kendall Montgomery, Oklahoma offensive lineman Dionte Savage, Utah State linebacker Zach Vigil, USC offensive lineman Aundrey Walker.

Bears complete draftee signings, reach deal with Hroniss Grasu

Getty Images

The Bears’ lone unsigned draft selection has completed his deal.

Chicago has signed third-round pick Hroniss Grasu, a center from Oregon, the club said Friday. The Bears previously reached deals with West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White (Round One), Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (Round Two), Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford (Round Four), Penn State safety Adrian Amos (Round Five) and TCU offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje (Round Six).

A 53-game starter at Oregon, the 6-foot-3, 297-pound Grasu will vie with veteran Will Montgomery for reps at center. If he does not win the starting job, Grasu would compete to be one of the active reserve offensive linemen on Chicago’s gameday roster.

Lions sign 5-of-7 draft picks

Getty Images

At this rate, all the rookie deals around the NFL might be done by the time the horses load in the gate for the Preakness next Saturday in Baltimore.

The Lions have finalized contracts with five of their seven draft picks, the club said Thursday night on its website. Cornerback Alex Carter (third round), defensive tackle Gabe Wright (fourth round), fullback Michael Burton (fifth round), cornerback Quandre Diggs (sixth round) and offensive tackle Corey Robinson (seventh round) have all signed their deals with Detroit.

Carter, who played collegiately at Stanford, seems likely to compete for time as a reserve at corner. The same goes for Diggs, a Texas product. Wright, who played at Auburn, will try to crack the defensive tackle rotation. Burton of Rutgers, meanwhile, will compete at fullback with Emil Igwenagu. Thompson (6-7, 324) was a three-season starter at left tackle at South Carolina.

The Lions’ first-round pick, Duke offensive guard Laken Tomlinson, has yet to sign, as has second-round selection Ameer Abdullah, a tailback from Nebraska.

Dolphins sign entire rookie class


Yet another club has signed all of its draft picks.

The Dolphins have their entire rookie class under contract, the club announced Thursday night.

A deal for first-round pick DeVante Parker, a wide receiver from Louisville, had already been reported. And now, the Dolphins have finished deals with the other draftees: defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (Round Two), offensive guard Jamil Douglas (Round Four), cornerback Bobby McCain (Round Five), tailback Jay Ajayi (Round Five), safety Cedric Thompson (Round Five) and cornerback Tony Lippett (Round Five).

The seven drafted rookies could all stick on Miami’s Week One roster; all were added at positions where the Dolphins needed some depth and competition. For instance, the 6-foot-5, 329-pound Phillips, an Oklahoma product, could get some backup reps behind Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell at defensive tackle. Ajayi, the former Boise State running back, will vie for time in a backfield where Lamar Miller has top billing entering 2015.