Texans hope moving training camp results in next step

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Agents: Seahawks reach deals with fifth-round, sixth-round pick


The Seahawks have reportedly signed a pair of draft picks.

According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Seattle has struck a four-year deal with Towson cornerback Tye Smith, agent Sean Stellato told the media outlet. Smith was the Seahawks’ fifth-round pick.

Also, Buffalo defensive tackle Kristjan Sokoli, a sixth-round selection, has signed his deal with Seattle, agent Brett Tessler announced on Twitter.

Sokoli (6-5, 300) will be converted to center in Seattle and will compete for a backup job. Likewise, Smith (6-0, 195) will try to capture a reserve role in a star-studded Seahawks secondary. He intercepted six passes in four seasons at Towson.

Smith and Sokoli are the first Seahawks draft picks to reach deals. Seattle has six unsigned selections.

Vikings get entire rookie class under contract


One week after the start of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Vikings have all 10 drafted rookies under contract, the club announced Thursday night.

The Vikings’ drafted rookie class is as follows: cornerback Trae Waynes (Round One), linebacker Eric Kendricks (Round Two), defensive end Danielle Hunter (Round Three), offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings (Round Four), tight end MyCole Pruitt (Round Five), wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Round Five), offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson (Round Six), defensive lineman B.J. Dubose (Round Six), offensive lineman Austin Shepherd (Round Seven), linebacker Edmond Robinson (Round Seven). Deals with Waynes, Kendricks, Dubose and Thompson had previously been mentioned here.

Waynes, a former Michigan State standout, could push for a starting role in his first season, as could Kendricks, a UCLA product. Clemmings, who played collegiately at Pitt, might be ticketed to be the third tackle this season. Hunter, meanwhile, produced just 4.5 sacks at LSU but is thought to have considerable raw talent.

The Vikings’ rookie minicamp begins Friday.

Dolphins reach deal with first-round pick DeVante Parker

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The Dolphins wasted little time getting a deal done with their first-round pick.

Miami has signed wide receiver DeVante Parker to a four-year, $10.9 million contract with $6.2 million guaranteed, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports and Sirius NFL Radio reports. The entire contract is guaranteed, Marvez reports.

Multiple published reports earlier Thursday had the Dolphins closing in on a contract with Parker, the No. 14 overall selection.

A Louisville product, Parker (6-3, 209) will compete to start in a revamped Dolphins receiving corps. He hauled in 43 passes for 855 yards and five touchdowns in just six games for the Cardinals in 2014 after missing time with a broken foot.

Browns sign second-round pick Nate Orchard


The Browns’ second-round pick is under contract.

Outside linebacker Nate Orchard, the No. 51 overall pick in last week’s draft, has signed his deal with Cleveland, the team said Thursday.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Orchard looks likely to get reps behind starting outside linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger in Cleveland’s 3-4 scheme. Like Kruger, the 22-year-old Orchard is a Utah product.

Orchard had an exceptional senior season for the Utes, notching 18.5 sacks and winning the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in college football.

Earlier Thursday, the Browns announced the signing of tight end Randall Telfer, a sixth-round pick. The Browns have 10 more draft selections still to sign.

Jets sign LB Lorenzo Mauldin, DT Deon Simon


The Jets are making headway when it comes to signing their drafted rookies.

New York announced deals with three draft picks on Thursday, including outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (third-round selection) and defensive tackle Deon Simon (seventh-round selection). The club also reached a deal with its third-round pick, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty.

Mauldin (6-4, 259) had 16 sacks over his last two seasons at Louisville. At the least, he should provide depth behind veterans Quentin Coples and Calvin Pace.

Simon (6-4, 332) played collegiately at Northwestern State (La.). He’ll vie for a reserve role.

Four of the Jets’ six draft picks have reached deals, with only defensive end Leonard Williams (first-round pick) and wide receiver Devin Smith (second-round choice) unsigned.