Marty Hurney says Panthers will not be trading next year’s first-round pick again

AP

In his previous stint as General Manager of the Carolina Panthers, Marty Hurney twice traded a first-round pick in the following year’s NFL Draft to make sizable leaps up in the draft order. Back in the G.M. seat again, Hurney swears that he will not make that mistake again.

I can tell you right now that you can consider next year’s first-round pick safe,” Hurney said, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “… We will probably be getting calls, so if you can just tweet that out.”

The Panthers traded second- and fourth-round picks in 2008 and the team’s 2009 first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in order to jump up from No. 43 overall to No. 19 overall. Hurney selected tackle Jeff Otah with the freshly acquired pick.

The very next year Hurney went back to the well, trading the team’s 2010 first-round selection to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the No. 43 overall pick and No. 111 pick in the 2009 draft. Carolina selected defensive end Everette Brown and running back Mike Goodson with their new picks.

Otah played in just 29 career games as knee injuries ended his career after only four seasons. Brown lasted just two seasons with the Panthers and started just three games over that span. He recorded six sacks combined in his two years with Carolina. Goodson lasted three years with the Panthers as a reserve running back and kick returner.

Baker Mayfield recreates iconic Brett Favre draft day photo

Twitter.com/BakerMayfield

Twenty-seven years ago, Brett Favre took the call advising him that the Falcons had made him a second-round draft pick while lounging on his bed, family surrounding him and resplendent in jorts. The night before the draft that will see Baker Mayfield picked in round one, he has recreated the photo. All the way down to the jorts.

And it’s awesome.

Mayfield posted both photos side by side on Wednesday night. Did I mention it’s awesome?

Buzz is building that the Browns may take Mayfield with the first overall pick in the draft. If they need one final piece of evidence in order to finalize the decision, the Favre photo should be it.

Take him, Browns. Do it. Do it, and trust that he’ll potentially make your team a contender for the next 15 years.

Aaron Rodgers tells Josh Rosen to “practice uncomfortable situations”

AP

As former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen prepares for the NFL, former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been advising the rookie.

“Just how to carry yourself,” Rosen told PFT Live regarding the advice he has gotten from Rodgers. “How to be the best version of yourself for your teammates, for coaches, for executives. He’s been a really big help . . . on how to approach the NFL. I mean it’s professional ball. . . . I don’t think you’re ever ready for it but you can be as ready as you possibly can be.

For a football standpoint, Rodgers has given Rosen one specific piece if advice: “Practice uncomfortable situations.”

“He’s big on in-practice creating havoc in situations where there isn’t necessarily any to be there,” Rosen said. “Take it to the next step. Mess with yourself. Throw off platform. Make it game-like. Make everything game-like and treat every rep as if you are on the final drive [in] the Super Bowl.”

It’s useful advice from Rodgers, and the fact that Rosen has that pipeline to one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history can’t hurt Rosen’s transition to life in the NFL.

Saints to leave empty chair in draft room as tribute to Tom Benson

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The Saints will hold a draft for the first time anyone can remember without owner Tom Benson in the room. Benson died in March at the age of 90.

The Saints believe he will be with them in spirit.

“We’ll have an empty chair for him, and we’ll be thinking about him for sure,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said, via Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. “We miss him.”

New Saints owner Gayle Benson is expected in the war room for at least part of the draft. Her NBA team, the Pelicans, begins the next round of the playoffs Saturday in Oakland.

“She’s been there with Tom; I’m sure she’ll be there again,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “The conflict would only be the Pelicans’ success, but she’s been at every draft that I’ve been here since ’06. She’ll have her spot, two down from me to the right, and we’ll make sure it’s ready for her.”

Leighton Vander Esch dismisses concern about neck as “somebody trying to get clicks”

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Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch lost track of the number of visits he took over the last month. He likely has enough frequently flier miles for a free flight, though, after “like 12 or 13 visits.”

“I really thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them,” Vander Esch said Wednesday during pre-draft availability at AT&T Stadium. “It was awesome. It was a great experience. It was just taking it day by day, just enjoying the moment.”

Teams obviously have interest in him, but they also likely wanted to further check out his neck. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock revealed last week that some teams have medical concerns with Vander Esch.

“A lot of people really like Vander Esch as a potential top-20 player,” Mayock said on a conference call, via quotes distributed by NFL Media. “One of his issues is going to be medical. He wears that neck brace for a reason. He’s got a cervical issue, and teams around the league right now are having the conversation about how bad or good is it really and at what level should we draft him? But I don’t think Vander Esch has any issues regarding level of competition and how good a player he is.”

Vander Esch dismissed the concern Wednesday as “somebody trying to get clicks.”

The Cowboys, who have the 19th overall choice, have interest in Vander Esch after losing Anthony Hitchens in free agency. Vander Esch, who made 141 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks last season, made one of his visits to Dallas.

“I’m dynamic and athletic,” Vander Esch said. “I’m rangy. I can run around the field and make plays. I think I fit in very well with their defense. I think it would be awesome.”

But Vander Esch has no idea where he’s going. No one else knows either.

“It’s a tossup right now,” he said. “I have no clue to be honest with you. Anybody could snag me at this point. That’s the neat part of it. You could pretty much end up anywhere in the U.S. It’s pretty cool.”

Source: John Dorsey has told Hue Jackson who the Browns will take at No. 1

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The information has yet to be leaked by Browns coach Hue Jackson, but the information is in his possession. Per a league source, Browns G.M. Johh Dorsey has told Jackson who the Browns will take with the first overall pick in the draft.

Dorsey has been keeping the information extremely close to the vest, primarily because he can. With the Browns unable to fascinate with their on-field performance in recent years, this is one way that they can definitely captivate the football-following world. The approach also fits nicely with the NFL’s desire to make its ultimate reality show about nothing something to behold.

If Hue knows, the next question becomes whether Hue can keep it to himself, or whether he’ll leak it to one of the various people in the media who have resisted calling for a guy who has gone 1-31 in two seasons as Cleveland’s coach to be fired, and who specifically haven’t taken the position that anyone who goes 0-16 as an NFL head coach should never be an NFL head coach, ever again.

In other words, he won’t be leaking it to me.

There’s a growing belief that the first overall pick will be Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Indeed, it’s Mayfield atop the one and only PFT mock draft, with the Browns actually making the first two picks in the process.

Twenty-four hours from now, we’ll all now the answer. Those 24 hours can’t come quickly enough.

Reuben Foster’s accuser retracts claim of domestic violence

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San Francisco linebacker Reuben Foster is currently facing three felony charges in connection with a domestic violence accusation. But now the accuser has said through her lawyer that she lied to the police when she made a claim that Foster attacked her.

The lawyer, Stephanie Rickard, told the Sacramento Bee that Foster’s ex-girlfriend was actually injured in a fight with another woman and that she falsely claimed it was Foster who injured her.

“[Foster] did not strike her, injure her or threaten her,” Rickard said. “She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career.’”

Prosecutors, however, have indicated they plan to move forward with charges against Foster even if his ex-girlfriend recants her previous claim.

Even if the woman’s changing story allows Foster to beat the felony charges of domestic violence and attempting to prevent a victim from reporting the crime, Foster also faces a third felony charge for possessing an assault weapon. The NFL will also conduct its own investigation and could suspend Foster even if charges are dropped or he is acquitted.

PFT’s one and only 2018 mock draft

AP

[Editor’s note: I’ve had very little to do with this mock draft. So don’t blame me if you hate it. If you like it, I’ll take the credit. The mock draft was largely with input from people who have experience drafting players, including one person whose name would be instantly recognizable and would prompt you to say, “Maybe this isn’t a bunch of BS, after all.” Regardless, here it is.]

1. Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma.

2. Browns (from Giants): Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State.

3. Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC.

4. Giants (from Browns): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State.

5. Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame.

6. Bill (from Colts): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming.

7. Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State.

8. Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State.

9. 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia.

10. Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame.

11. Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA.

12. Colts (from Bills): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech.

13. Washington: Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive back, Alabama.

14. Packers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland.

15. Cardinals: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville.

16. Ravens: James Daniels, C, Iowa.

17. Chargers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville.

18. Seahawks: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama.

19. Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington.

20. Lions: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA.

21. Bengals: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA.

22. Colts (from Bills): Taven Bryan, DT, Florida.

23. Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama.

24. Panthers: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida.

25. Titans: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama.

26. Falcons: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina.

27. Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State.

28. Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State.

29. Jaguars: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama.

30. Vikings: Isiah Oliver, CB, Colorado.

31. Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State.

32. Eagles: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia.

Eli Manning: “Thirty-seven is not old”

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Several times already, new Giants coach Pat Shurmur has noted Eli Manning‘s age. In quarterback years, 37 might seem old to some, but not to Manning.

Thirty-seven is not old,” Manning said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “I think 37 is young, so it’s all perspective.”

The Giants named Manning the starter for 2018, but how much longer does he have?

The Giants own the second overall pick and have to start thinking about the future at some point. With three of the top four quarterbacks still on the board when they draft, the Giants might find now is as good a time as any.

Manning previously has said he has not talked to the team about his future, and he reiterated Wednesday his understanding that it’s a year-to-year business.

“Obviously I have to prove that and do that every day and get on the field and make sure I’m making the right decisions, protecting the ball, making good throws and learning this offense quickly,” Manning said. “I think we’re off to a good start.”

Shurmur got to work with Manning for the first time Tuesday. He called Manning the fittest 37 year old he has seen, a backhanded compliment the quarterback reluctantly accepted.

“This guy’s a pro,” Shurmur said. “What you noticed about him is you only have to run a play or two, and he gets the drill calibrated and he gets his feet right and he makes the throw. I quickly, after being with him one day on the field, see why he’s been so successful for so long. He’s a pro.”

NFL concludes Derrius Guice case with no finding of impropriety

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On multiple past occasions, NFL teams have asked grossly inappropriate questions to incoming players. In the most recent example of the phenomenon, the NFL concluded it didn’t happen.

The NFL has now officially concluded the investigation launched after former LSU running back Derrius Guice said during a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview that he was asked during Scouting Combine interviews whether he likes men.

The league has issued the following statement: “Following reports concerning the interviews of Derrius Guice at the Scouting Combine, the League conducted a thorough investigation which included a formal review and report from every club that interviewed Mr. Guice during the Combine, as well as discussions with Mr. Guice, his agent and others.  The investigation did not confirm that any club made the reported inquiries.  Nonetheless, we used this opportunity to reaffirm our workplace standards and emphasize the importance of fully complying with all requirements of federal and state law.  The NFL and each of its member clubs remain fully committed to fair and non-discriminatory employment practices.”

PFT reported on April 6 that the NFL was expected to reach this conclusion. The league, we explained at the time, had found inconsistencies in Guice’s version of the events, and the league had been unable to corroborate his claims or to identify the team(s) that asked the questions.

The NFL also was concerned about publicly branding Guice a liar, which explains the ultra-vanilla language of the key portion of the release: “The investigation did not confirm that any club made the reported inquiries.”

Last week, Guice confirmed that he had multiple conversations with NFL Security regarding the situation.

Report: Gabe Martin ruptures Achilles during offseason workouts

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Cardinals linebacker Gabe Martin ruptured his Achilles during offseason workouts, Mike Jurecki reports.

Martin, 25, played 45 snaps on special teams and none on defense last season, appearing in three games.

He played in eight games in 2016 before landing on injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury.

Martin originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green in 2015. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad.

Martin was with the Saints part of last season before the Cardinals signed him off New Orleans’ practice squad November 28.

Gronk is feeling “super, super pliable”

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Alex Guerrero has won another battle in his broader Bill Belichick war.

The trainer who has been working closely with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and who has been essentially frozen out of the Patriots organization by Belichick, has found another discipline in Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. A day after Gronkowski told Belichick that the best tight end in football (possibly the best tight end ever) will be back for 2018, Gronk shot a video in his car explaining that he’s currently feeling “super, super pliable.” Added Gronkowski: “It’s huge. It’s a difference maker.”

“Pliable” is shorthand for the TB12 method, crafted by Guerrero and Brady — and loathed by Belichick. It’s one of the most overt public slaps yet by Gronkowski at Belichick.

Gronkowski also complained about media coverage of his status over the past two months.

“There’s been fake news left and right, no doubt about that,” Gronkowski said. “There’s been some real news but I would say way more fake news.”

OK, Gronk. What was fake? Was it fake when you declined to commit to playing immediately after the Super Bowl? Was it fake when more than 11 weeks passed without any indication as to whether you’ll play?

Since “fake news” has become code for “things people are saying about me that I’d prefer they didn’t,” don’t play the #fakenews card without explaining what’s fake.

Until Tuesday, a mystery existed of Gronk’s own making. He set the tone for reports, rumors, and speculation about his future. If he’s now claiming generally that most of the news that has filled the vacuum he created was fake, he need to say what was and wasn’t true.

Here’s one thing that is true: Gronkowski said he’s on his way to the Bahamas for Shark Week. It’s surely just a glimpse of the Gronk-being-Gronk reality that will unfold during the decades that will pass between the time Gronk stops running with the pigskins and starts sleeping with the fishes.

Report: Teddy Bridgewater not guaranteed a roster spot

AP

In just over 24 hours from now, the Jets likely have a new franchise quarterback. So what does that mean for the four quarterbacks currently on the team’s roster?

Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty become trade/release candidates, Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports. But Teddy Bridgewater isn’t guaranteed a roster spot “at least until he shows he’s healthy” despite signing a one-year deal that included $500,000 guaranteed with the Jets last month.

Bridgewater, 25, has played only nine snaps the past two seasons.

He missed the 2016 season after a non-contact knee injury. Bridgewater returned last season and served as the backup part of last season. He went 0-for-2 with an interception.

Bridgewater showed promise his first two seasons, going 17-11 with a Pro Bowl appearance in 2015.

Josh McCown returns to the Jets after going 5-8 as their starter last season. He could begin the 2018 season as the starter, giving a rookie quarterback some time to develop.

Wednesday’s #PFTPM has Minkah Fitzpatrick and much more

#PFTPM

A day before the draft, the ProFootballTalk.com/PFT Live/#PFTPM/@PFTPMPosse mock draft is coming. The first pick in the mock draft is disclosed during Wednesday’s edition of the #PFTPM podcast.

The episode also includes a full explanation of the manner in which the mock draft was created (I had little to do with it, so I’ll take none of the blame but all of the credit) and a discussion of the reasons for the one-and-only-one edition of the mock draft.

You’ll also hear an interview with Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, along with answers to a bunch of questions submitted by the #PFTPMPosse.

Give it a listen. By the time it ends, there’s a good chance the ProFootballTalk.com/PFT Live/#PFTPM/@PFTPMPosse mock draft will be posted.

Ryan Grigson admits lack of communication as Colts G.M.

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Ryan Grigson admits mistakes during his five seasons as the Colts General Manager, including a relationship with head coach Chuck Pagano that turned so toxic that owner Jim Irsay hired counselors.

“What I really think that I wasn’t able to ever do in that time I was there was really get to be a human at times,” Grigson said on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. “I hunkered down and just was laser-focused. I probably should have pressed pause and took some time to breathe for a second and communicate better to let people in more. I was only like that with my inner circle.”

Indianapolis went 52-34 with Grigson at the helm, but ultimately bad personnel decisions cost him his job. Grigson used first-round picks on Bjoern Werner and Phillip Dorsett; he signed Andre Johnson and Trent Cole as free agents; and he traded a first-round pick to Cleveland for Trent Richardson.

The Colts fired Grigson in January 2017.

Now that Grigson has done the job, he believes his on-the-job training will serve him well if he ever gets a second chance to call the shots for a team.

“I had to really learn that dynamic on the fly from those around me that had been with the prior regime,” Grigson said. “It was just kind of foreign to me even from the get-go. There were so many things to learn. A lot of that was done through trial and error.”