National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    NFL notebook: Sam says he's not only gay NFL player
    By The Sports Xchange

    Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, said he is not alone as a gay player in the league.

    • According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sam declined to estimate how many gay athletes play in the NFL, but he said several players contacted him after the St. Louis Rams made him a seventh-round draft pick last year.

      "I am not the only gay person in the NFL," Sam said during a speech in Dallas on Thursday. "I'm just saying there is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.

      "Was it a risky move? Yes. But at that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn't going to be a big deal. Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there (are) gay NFL players. There's gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.

      "The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot. But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are (on). I'm just saying there's some famous people, and I'm not the only one."

      --- The Carolina Panthers claimed offensive tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers and also signed wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to a one-year contract.

      Martin was released Thursday by the San Francisco 49ers, one year after the 49ers traded for Martin in the aftermath of a bullying incident in Miami.

      The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin played in 15 games and started nine last season for the 49ers, who acquired him from the Dolphins last March for a 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

      In Miami, Martin was the subject of alleged bullying from former teammate Richie Incognito and had left the team after starting in 23 games over two seasons.

      Boykin, 25, played his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. In 2013, he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns. But, in 2014, he took a backseat to rookie Davante Adams and caught just three passes for 23 yards in 13 games.

      ---The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran cornerback Terence Newman to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

      Newman, 36, reunites with coach Mike Zimmer for the third time. Newman also drew interest from the New England Patriots.

      In his 12-year career, Newman has started 172 of 174 games played and recorded 786 tackles and 37 interceptions.

      Newman, the fifth overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, played in Zimmer's defenses in Dallas (2002-2006) and Cincinnati (2012-2013).

      ---The Wilf family will contribute an additional $19.5 million toward upgrades to the Vikings' ongoing $1.06 billion stadium project.

      The family contribution, according to owner Mark Wilf, will be nearly $551 million, with the $498 million difference falling to the public, which voted in favor of the stadium to replace antiquated downtown Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Minnesota Twins had been co-tenants of the stadium until constructing their own outdoor venue downtown, Target Field.

      ---The Chicago Bears signed cornerback Alan Ball to a one-year contract.

      The 6-foot-2, 197-pound University of Illinois product has appeared in 93 NFL games, with 44 starts, over eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

      In 2014, Ball started seven games for the Jaguars, recording 22 tackles and one interception. He missed the final nine games due to a biceps injury.

      ---The Tennessee Titans re-signed cornerback Brandon Harris to a one-year contract.

      A second-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2011, Harris played three seasons with Houston before signing with the Titans last year. He made 11 tackles in 11 games as a reserve in 2014.

      ---The San Francisco 49ers waived cornerback Cameron Fuller.

      The 49ers signed the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Fuller to the practice squad on Dec. 16. He was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 26 and was active for the team's final game against the Arizona Cardinals but did not play.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Titans re-sign CB Harris
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tennessee Titans re-signed cornerback Brandon Harris to a one-year contract Friday.

    • A second-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2011, Harris played three seasons with Houston before signing with the Titans last year. He made

      11 tackles in 11 games as a reserve in 2014.

      The 25-year-old is expected to compete for a backup spot behind Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Panthers claim OT Martin off waivers
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Carolina Panthers claimed offensive tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers on Friday.

    • Martin was released Thursday by the San Francisco 49ers, one year after the 49ers traded for Martin in the aftermath of a bullying incident in Miami.

      The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin played in 15 games and started nine last season for the 49ers, who acquired him from the Dolphins last March for a 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

      In Miami, Martin was the subject of alleged bullying from former teammate Richie Incognito and had left the team after starting in 23 games over two seasons.

      Incognito was out of the NFL last season after he was suspended in November 2013 by the Dolphins for his part in the bullying incidents but signed with the Buffalo Bills last month.

      The 25-year-old Martin was drafted in the second round by the Dolphins in 2012 out of Stanford, where he played under former Cardinal and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Panthers sign WR Boykin
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Carolina Panthers signed wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to a one-year contract Friday.

    • Boykin, 25, played his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. In 2013, he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns. But, in 2014, he took a backseat to rookie Davante Adams and caught just three passes for 23 yards in 13 games.

      Boykin played high school football in Charlotte, N.C., where the Panthers are based.

      "It means a lot being from the area and having the opportunity to come back and get a chance to play for the Panthers," Boykin told the team's website. "But at the end of the day, it still boils down to how I go about my business on the field. I have to prove myself all over again."

      The Panthers' receiving corps is fairly light behind 2014 first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin and veteran Jerricho Cotchery.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    49ers waive CB Fuller
    By The Sports Xchange

    The San Francisco 49ers waived cornerback Cameron Fuller on Friday.

    • The 49ers originally signed the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Fuller to the team's practice squad on Dec. 16. He was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 26 and was active for the team's final game against the Arizona Cardinals but did not play.

      Fuller, 24, played collegiately at New Mexico State.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Bears sign CB Ball
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Chicago Bears signed cornerback Alan Ball to a one-year contract Friday.

    • The 6-foot-2, 197-pound University of Illinois product has appeared in 93 NFL games with 44 starts over eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013-14), collecting 178 tackles, six interceptions, 34 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He has added 38 special teams tackles during his NFL career.

      In 2014, Ball started seven games for the Jaguars, recording 22 tackles, one interception, three pass break-ups and one tackle for a loss. He missed the final nine games last season due to a biceps injury.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Wilfs throw in another $20M for Vikings stadium
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Wilf family will contribute an additional $19.5 million toward upgrades to the Minnesota Vikings ongoing $1.06 billion stadium project.

    • The family contribution, according to owner Mark Wilf, will be nearly $551 million with the $498 million difference falling to the public, which voted in favor of the stadium to replace antiquated downtown Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Minnesota Twins had been co-tenants of the stadium until constructing their own outdoor venue downtown, Target Field.

      Target Field has hosted the MLB All-Star game and the new Vikings' stadium has been awarded a Super Bowl in 2018.

      The Wilf family's latest financial contribution goes toward enhancements in the plaza, food service equipment, entertainment areas in the stadium, upgrades to retractable seating and a deck overlooking downtown Minneapolis.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Sam says 'I am not the only gay person in NFL'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, said he is not alone as a gay player in the league.

    • According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sam declined to estimate how many gay athletes play in the NFL, but he said several players contacted him after the St. Louis Rams made him a seventh-round draft pick last year.

      "I am not the only gay person in the NFL," Sam said during a speech and question and answer session in Dallas on Thursday. "I'm just saying there is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.

      "Was it a risky move? Yes. But at that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn't going to be a big deal. Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there's gay NFL players. There's gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.

      "The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot. But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are (on). I'm just saying there's some famous people, and I'm not the only one."

      Sam spoke at the 2015 Dallas Holocaust Museum Upstander Speaker series. According to the Star-Telegram, he gave an 11-minute prepared speech, which he said his publicist helped write, before a 35-minute Q&A.

      After being drafted by the Rams last May, Sam was waived in the final roster cutdown to 53 players and subsequently signed to the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad. He was released on Oct. 21 and didn't get a tryout with another team for the rest of the season.

      Sam, the former SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, was one of 105 participants in the league's first veteran combine in Phoenix, where he ran the 40 in 4.99 seconds.

      "Hopefully I'm not being discriminated (against) because I'm gay," Sam said Thursday. "I don't believe that I'm being discriminated (against) because I'm gay. I just want to know if I'm truly not in the NFL, it's because of talent. Let it be because of my talents. But you've got to prove that I can't play this game. If you look at the film, clearly I can. So, I'll leave it at that."

      Sam, 25, has been competing on this year's "Dancing with the Stars." He cited his NFL unemployment as a possible reason other players haven't come out.

      "Dancing with the Stars is my employer," Sam said. "That's my main source of income. ... I'm unemployed, and I don't believe I'm out of the NFL because I'm gay. But if it was a reason, it can hurt their livelihood, and you don't want to take that chance."

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    CB Newman rejoins Zimmer, signs with Vikings
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran cornerback Terence Newman to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

    • Newman, 36, reunites with coach Mike Zimmer for the third time. Newman also drew interest from the New England Patriots.

      In his 12-year career, Newman has started 172 of 174 games played and recorded 786 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 37 INTs, 169 passes defensed and forced eight fumbles, recovering 11. Newman's 37 INTs rank third among active players.

      Newman, the fifth overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, played in Zimmer's defenses in Dallas (2002-2006) and Cincinnati (2012-2013).

      Last season in Cincinnati, he recorded 72 tackles, 14 passes defensed and one interception.

      Newman will join a Minnesota secondary that includes Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    NFL notebook: Patriots LB Hightower out 6-7 months
    By The Sports Xchange

    New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower reportedly will be out six to seven months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right labrum.

    • Hightower had surgery Feb. 10, according to the Boston Globe.

      The injury kept Hightower out in Week 14 against the San Diego Chargers, but he returned to play the rest of the season -- other than an insignificant Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills.

      Hightower had 33 tackles and 1.5 sacks while playing with the injury, according to the Globe.

      Hightower is the fourth Patriot to undergo surgery this offseason. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer also had a torn labrum repaired, right guard Ryan Wendell underwent shoulder surgery as well, and defensive tackle Chris Jones had a torn calf muscle fixed.

      ---Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano reportedly turned down a one-year contract extension and will finish the final year of his deal in 2015.

      The Colts offered Pagano a one-year extension with a small salary increase, which he declined, according to a report Thursday by Dianna Marie Russini of NBC's Washington affiliate.

      Ian Rapoport of NFL Media initially reported Thursday that Pagano would not receive an extension before the 2015 season.

      Pagano signed a four-year contract in 2012, and the Colts have won 11 games and reached the playoffs in each of Pagano's three years. He missed most of his first season while battling leukemia.

      ---Nebraska junior pass rusher Randy Gregory tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in February.

      Gregory is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 overall prospect in the draft.

      "I blame myself," Gregory told NFL.com's Kimberly Jones. "And I know it sounds cliché, but there's really no one else I can blame."

      Gregory's past drug use was a concern in league circles before the failed test, dating back to high school and his time at junior college. NFL scouts often point out that marijuana testing at the NFL combine is more of an "idiot test" because every prospect and agent knows about it well ahead of time.

      ---One year after the San Francisco 49ers traded for offensive tackle Jonathan Martin in the aftermath of a bullying incident in Miami, the team released him on Thursday.

      The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin played in 15 games and started nine last season for the 49ers, who acquired him from the Dolphins last March for a 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

      If none of the 31 other NFL teams claim Martin off waivers, he would become an unrestricted free agent.

      In Miami, Martin was the subject of alleged bullying from former teammate Richie Incognito and had left the team after starting 23 games over two seasons.

      ---The Minnesota Vikings signed Babatunde Aiyegbusi, a 6-foot-9, 351-pound offensive lineman from Poland, on Thursday.

      Aiyegbusi, 27, has played in Europe the past two years -- helping the Wroclaw Giants win the championship in the Polish American Football League and the Dresden Monarchs advance to the semifinals of the German Football League in 2014. He did not play college football.

      The Vikings also waived linebacker Justin Anderson and guard Jordan McCray on Thursday.

      ---Defensive tackle Pat Sims, who spent the last two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, returned to the Cincinnati Bengals.

      A third-round pick by the Bengals in 2008, Sims played his first five seasons in Cincinnati before signing with the Raiders in 2013. He signed another one-year deal with Oakland last year.

      The Bengals did not release terms of his contract, but the Cincinnati Enquirer reported it is a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $870,000.

      In 92 games, including 41 starts, Sims has 264 tackles, seven sacks and one interception.

      ---Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers for one year.

      Heyward-Bey caught three passes in 16 games with the Steelers last season and is likely to be the team's fourth or fifth wide receiver, contributing mostly to special teams.

      Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in 2009, has played six seasons with the Raiders, Colts and Steelers.

      ---New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz won't be rushed back from a torn patellar tendon and subsequent surgery last October.

      Coach Tom Coughlin said the timetable with Cruz is highly conservative, and the team is going to count on him only after seeing him back on the field.

      While Cruz is running straight ahead at the team facility as part of his rehab and Coughlin said he looks "good and light," the Giants are not sure he will be on the field for the season opener in September, 11 months after he was hurt.

      ---The murder trial of Aaron Hernandez was interrupted by a bomb threat at the Bristol Superior Court courthouse in Fall River, Mass., on Thursday afternoon.

      The threat was called in at about noon, and people were evacuated from the building and positioned on the other side of the street.

      The trial resumed after 2 p.m. following a search of the area.

      Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Odin Lloyd.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Patriots LB Hightower out 6-7 months
    By The Sports Xchange

    New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower reportedly will be out six to seven months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right labrum.

    • Hightower had surgery Feb. 10, according to the Boston Globe.

      The injury kept Hightower out in Week 14 against the San Diego Chargers, but he returned to play the rest of the season -- other than an insignificant Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills.

      Hightower had 33 tackles and 1.5 sacks while playing with the injury, according to the Globe.

      Hightower is the fourth Patriot to undergo surgery this offseason. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer also had a torn labrum repaired, right guard Ryan Wendell underwent shoulder surgery as well, and defensive tackle Chris Jones had a torn calf muscle fixed.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Vikings sign 6-9 Polish lineman
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Vikings signed Babatunde Aiyegbusi, a 6-foot-9, 351-pound offensive lineman from Poland, on Thursday.

    • Aiyegbusi, 27, has played in Europe the past two years -- helping the Wroclaw Giants win the championship in the Polish American Football League and the Dresden Monarchs advance to the semifinals of the German Football League in 2014. He did not play college football.

      The native of Olesnica, Poland, would be the fifth Polish-born player to play in the NFL. The others: kicker Rich Szaro (1975-79), kicker Chester Marcol (1972-80), defensive tackle Jason Maniecki (1996-98) and kicker Sebastian Janikowski (2000-present).

      Aiyegbusi participated in a pro day at the University of Texas-San Antonio on Monday and tried out for the Vikings on Wednesday.

      The Vikings also waived linebacker Justin Anderson and guard Jordan McCray on Thursday.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    49ers release OT Martin
    By The Sports Xchange

    One year after the San Francisco 49ers traded for offensive tackle Jonathan Martin in the aftermath of a bullying incident in Miami, the team released him on Thursday.

    • The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin played in 15 games and started nine last season for the 49ers, who acquired him from the Dolphins last March for a 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

      If none of the other 31 teams in the NFL claim Martin off waivers, he would become an unrestricted free agent.

      In Miami, Martin was the subject of alleged bullying from former teammate Richie Incognito and had left the team after starting in 23 games over two seasons.

      Incognito was out of the NFL last season after he was suspended in November 2013 by the Dolphins for his part in the bullying incidents but signed with the Buffalo Bills last month.

      The 25-year-old Martin was drafted in the second round by the Dolphins in 2012 out of Stanford, where he played under former Cardinal and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Report: Colts' Pagano turns down one-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano reportedly turned down a one-year contract extension and will finish the final year of his deal in 2015.

    • The Colts offered Pagano a one-year extension with a small salary increase, which he declined, according to a report Thursday by Dianna Marie Russini of NBC's Washington affiliate.

      Ian Rapoport of NFL Media initially reported Thursday that Pagano would not receive an extension before the 2015 season.

      Pagano signed a four-year contract in 2012, and the Colts have won 11 games and reached the playoffs in each of Pagano's three years. He missed most of his first season while battling leukemia. Bruce Arians took over, earned Coach of the Year honors and was hired by the Arizona Cardinals.

      General manager Ryan Grigson, who hired Pagano, also is entering the final year of his contract (the team has an option for 2016).

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    DT Sims returns to Bengals
    By The Sports Xchange

    Defensive tackle Pat Sims, who spent the last two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, returned to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

    • A third-round pick by the Bengals in 2008, Sims played his first five seasons in Cincinnati before signing with the Raiders in 2013. He signed another one-year deal with Oakland last year.

      The Bengals did not release terms of his contract, but the Cincinnati Enquirer reported it is a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $870,000.

      In 92 games, including 41 starts, Sims has 264 tackles, seven sacks and one interception.

      "Pat was a good player for us here and we think he can fill a role for us this year," Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes said. "He lends a physical dimension. He's a very aggressive run player, and we're happy to have him back."

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Hernandez trial paused after bomb threat
    By The Sports Xchange

    The murder trial of Aaron Hernandez was interrupted by a bomb threat at the Bristol Superior Court courthouse in Fall River, Mass., on Thursday afternoon.

    • The threat was called in at about noon, and people were evacuated from the building and positioned on the other side of the street.

      The trial resumed after 2 p.m. following a search of the area.

      Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Odin Lloyd at an industrial park near his home.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Steelers bring back WR Heyward-Bey
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, signing a one-year deal on Thursday.

    • Heyward-Bey caught three passes in 16 games with the Steelers last season and is likely to be the team's fourth or fifth wide receiver, contributing mostly to special teams.

      Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in 2009, has played six seasons with the Raiders, Colts and Steelers.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Giants unsure Cruz will return Week 1
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz won't be rushed back from a torn patellar tendon and subsequent surgery last October.

    • Head coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday the timetable with Cruz is highly conservative, and the team is going to count on him only after seeing him back on the field.

      While Cruz is running straight ahead at the team facility as part of his rehab and Coughlin said he looks "good and light," the Giants are not sure he will be on the field for the regular-season opener in September, 11 months after he was hurt.

      "I think he'll be the player he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said. "As far as when, I would be careful. Hopefully, it's the first (regular-season) game. But if it isn't, we've done that before. We just went through it."

      General manager Jerry Reese said last month that Cruz is considered a bonus entering 2015. The Giants view Odell Beckham Jr., the 12th overall pick in 2014 and Offensive Rookie of the Year, as the No. 1 receiver in Ben McAdoo's offense. Rueben Randle would start opposite Beckham if Cruz is not back.

      Cruz's primary asset as a slot receiver was explosive speed and change-of-direction agility. If he doesn't prove the same type of explosion in offseason workouts, the Giants will not be surprised. The team is tempering expectations and not ruling out a return after the start of the regular season.

      "You're not just going to throw him to the wind," Coughlin said.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Gruden lukewarm on Griffin; Grayson an option?
    By The Sports Xchange

    Robert Griffin III enters the 2015 offseason as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Beyond that, head coach Jay Gruden and general manager Scot McCloughan are making no assurances.

    • That includes the commitment to pick up Griffin's fifth-year option. McLoughan said recently the Redskins are undecided on whether to activate the 2016 contract year as part of Griffin's rookie deal.

      Gruden said he would like Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012 who has been benched late in each of the past two seasons, to grab hold of the starting gig and not let go.

      "He's got the starting job right now," Gruden said. "Hopefully he takes the job and runs with it."

      But that could come after the Redskins draft a quarterback.

      Washington has the fifth overall pick and after a few dry drafts, a byproduct of the bounty paid to acquire the draft pick from the Rams to select Griffin, could consider Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota if he's available. Jameis Winston, NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked passer, is expected to be off the board with the first pick.

      "If we think it's worth the risk to hit the reset button, if he's that good of a football player, if we decide in the building that he's that good of a football player that we think we should do that, then we should do that," Gruden said.

      Gruden was frank about Griffin's average performance last season, when his leadership was openly questioned and reports of a locker-room schism between Griffin and other team leaders percolated.

      Gruden and McCloughan could be trying to drum up interest in the pick, but any movement could come earlier in the draft. Given recent experience, moving down to accumulate picks and perhaps a new quarterback is a realistic option.

      Gruden helped develop Andy Dalton, a second-round pick, in Cincinnati and McCloughan was with the Seahawks as third-rounder Russell Wilson pushed Seattle to the Super Bowl.

      One potential target is Garrett Grayson of Colorado State, a player Jon Gruden said could be a second-round pick or higher. Jon Gruden compared Grayson to Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2014.

      The Redskins have three quarterbacks on the roster. Kurt Cousins and Colt McCoy, who re-signed earlier this month, are also in contract years.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Nebraska DE Gregory failed combine drug test
    By The Sports Xchange

    Nebraska junior pass rusher Randy Gregory tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in February.

    • Gregory is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 overall prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft.

      "I blame myself," Gregory told NFL.com's Kimberly Jones. "And I know it sounds cliché, but there's really no one else I can blame."

      Gregory's past drug use was a concern in league circles before the failed test, dating back to high school and his time at junior college. NFL scouts often point out that marijuana testing at the NFL combine is more of an "idiot test" because every prospect and agent knows about it well ahead of time.

      Gregory, who opened eyes in Indianapolis when he weighed at a relatively light 235 pounds, said he hasn't smoked since December, but it adds another red flag to his already polarizing pro projection.

      "Am I worried? Yeah, I'm worried," he said when asked about his draft stock. "At the same time, I'm confident. I know I'm going to be all right in the end."

      How will this affect his draft stock?

      This failed test will be viewed differently by teams as some are more tolerant than others. Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston was thought to be a possible late first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but after a failed drug test, he slipped to the third round and the No. 70 pick overall. Marijuana hasn't been an issue for him since entering the league and he has developed into one of the best third-round steals in recent memory.

      On the flip side, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, a second-rounder in the 2012 supplemental draft, looked to be a bargain after leading the league in receiving in 2013. But his constant issues with substance abuse have derailed his career and it's anyone's guess when he'll find the field again, but it won't be until 2016 at the earliest.

      Gregory has top-10 talent, but with concerns about his growth potential and overall reliability because of his past drug use, it wouldn't be a shock to see him fall past the initial 10 picks.

      However, it's hard to see him falling too far down draft boards and a team picking in the mid-to-late first round might land the Huskers pass rusher at a reduced price.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    2015 NFL Draft: Defensive backs tall and talented
    By The Sports Xchange

    Based on offensive trends in the pass-happy National Football League, finding effective defensive backs is a tall order.

    • So it is that the top four cornerbacks in this year's draft, and seven of the first 11, are at least six feet tall -- the better to cope with receivers that are getting bigger every season.

      And those first four, six-foot defenders could all be taken in the opening round when the draft begins April 30, with as many as ten worthy of being selected in the first two rounds, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com.

      Heading this class of big cornerbacks are Michigan State speedster Trae Williams and Wake Forest's underweight but gifted Kevin Johnson. But, based on sheer physical ability, former Washington cornerback Marcus Peters could become the star of this group if he shows enough emotional maturity to handle the NFL better than he did college.

      Alabama's Landon Collins (6-0, 223), who entered college as the No. 1 rated prep safety, goes into the draft still the best at either strong or free safety and is expected to be selected in the top 20.

      At free safety, Mississippi's 6-2, 208-pound Cody Prewitt fits the need for big pass defenders and is expected to be selected before the second round is done.

      Here is a closer look at the top defensive backs in the NFL's 2015 draft (position rating/overall rating. Player, college, height, weight, 40-yard time, projected round. *=underclassman):

      CORNERBACKS

      1/12. *Trae Waynes, Michigan State, 6-0, 186, 4.31, 1

      --Bred for speed: The son of track-star parents -- Ron and Erin Waynes -- Trae was born to be fast, which became obvious at Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wis. He had the fastest time in 40 yards (4.37 seconds) at the 2010 Midwest Ultimate 100 Camp. Now he is faster and more experienced at cornerback, where he played three years for Michigan State and figures to be the first taken in the 2015 draft. His instincts and length make him the boss in most one-on-one situations. Waynes looks comfortable and menacing in press and cover-two assignments and should be an asset against the NFL's tall and talented receivers, although he is a bit lanky himself.

      --Measuring up: Waynes had the second-smallest hands at the combine (8 1/4 inches) but he still grabbed a high draft spot with a great display of running and jumping, including the second best 40-yard dash of 4.31 seconds (10 yards in 1.51; 20 in 2.55). He added a 37-inch vertical, a 10-foot-2 inch broad jump and benched 225 pounds 19 times. At his March 18 Pro Day, Waynes improved his 20-yard shuttle, timed in 4.19 seconds (4.39 at the Combine) and in the 60-yard shuttle (11.24).

      --Notable quote: "I think I could've run a little faster, too, even though my 40-yard dash was faster than I expected. I was hoping 4.3 seconds and got 4.31. Other than that, I think I showed a smooth backpedal, efficient footwork. Hopefully, coaches think my movement and footwork is smooth." -- Waynes, in his blog, reflecting on combine workouts.

      --Frankly: Draft him, feed him, play him. Although a bit scrawny, Waynes has the speed and length to run with the NFL's big dogs.

      2/26. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest, 6-0, 188, 4.52, 1-2

      --The Skinny: Despite displaying excellent durability throughout his high school and college career, Johnson's thin frame was a concern for NFL scouts. Otherwise, Johnson showed top-tier abilities at cornerback as a smooth-moving athlete with excellent technique, instinct and ball skills. He added value as a coverage man on special teams. Scouts still recall Johnson entered college weighing only 154 pounds, but they should remember that was after rushing 137 times for 1,220 yards, 15 touchdowns and no injuries as a senior running back at River Hill High School (Clarksville, Md.). Then the only missed time at Wake Forest was the 2011 season due to academic ineligibility. Otherwise, Johnson started 41 games, including all 36 in his final three seasons as he evolved into a respected, vocal team leader.

      --Measuring up: Johnson made a needed statement at the Combine just by weighing in at 188 pounds, about 10-to-15 more than expected. His 40-yard dash of 4.52 seconds was average, but he showed explosion and lateral agility otherwise, with a 41.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-10 inch broad jump; 6.79 seconds in 3-cone drill and 3.89 in the short shuttle. Scouts still question Johnson's strength after he passed on bench press at Combine and March 2 Pro Day.

      --Notable quote: "I'm the best cornerback in the draft. I think I'm a lockdown cornerback. ... I have excellent feet, hips, ball skills, I'm a competitor, a student of the game and I'm a playmaker." -- Johnson at the Combine, showing pre-requisite self-confidence for a cornerback.

      --Frankly: Watching games, Johnson's skinny frame is indeed as notable as his consistently excellent play. Maybe it is time to realize that those NFL rule changes to make life safer for wide receivers might also change the physical requirements for cornerbacks.

      3/29. *Marcus Peters, Washington, 6-0, 197, 4.53, 1-2

      --Boom or Bust: Before evaluating Peters' significant ability on the field, it is imperative to understand the status of his personal maturity and accountability. He grew up in the game, with a father who is now the head coach at Oakland's McClymonds High School. But after three suspensions and ultimate dismissal from Washington last November, Peters apparently didn't grow up personally. He cites the departure of Washington coach Steve Sarkasian as the catalyst for issues that included arguing with new coaches. On the field, in 2013 his coverage and play-making skills were worthy of a first-round draft pick, but his sloppy play in 2014 seemed to reflect his personal issues. Peters, obviously prepped to do so, now says all the right things and claims a newborn son, Carson, helped him mature. Maybe, maybe not.

      --Measuring up: At Combine, exact height was 5-feet-11 5/8ths with smaller than average hands (8 3/4 inches) and arms (31.5 inches). But he showed decent athletic ability. Peters' 40 yard dash was just OK in 4.53 seconds (10 in 1.59; 20 in 2.66), but he showed explosion with vertical jump of 37.5 inches and broad jump of 10-feet-1 inch. Peters benched 225 pounds 17 times. He has permission to take part in Washington's Pro Day on April 2.

      --Notable quote: "Yes, a whole lot. It humbled me a real lot. And what really has humbled me is me having a child. Me bringing a child into this world has really humbled me a whole lot because now I have to be able to provide for someone other than myself. I have someone that is looking up to me a lot so I have to be 100 percent mature." -- Peters at Combine, when asked if being dismissed humbled him.

      --Frankly: Peters may be worth the risk if drafted onto a team with a strong, veteran locker room. It is hard to weigh value of recent proclamations that reflect personal coaching, including input from Seattle Seahawks controversial running back and family friend Marshawn Lynch.

      4/37. *P.J. Williams, Florida State, 6-0, 194, 4.57, 1-2

      --Hands-on style: Williams plays with a feisty flair, talks the talk then backs it up. He can be an outstanding coverage corner if he keeps his hands to himself downfield in the flag-happy NFL. His big moment was in the 2014 BCS National Championship game with seven tackles, an interception and the Defensive MVP award. His low moment was a controversial car accident last November, resulting in citations for leaving scene and driving on suspended license. Williams can help immediately on special teams, both in coverage and as a returner, a skill he showed way back as a sophomore at Ocala's Vangard High School when he averaged 33.8 yards per runback with four touchdowns.

      --Measuring up: Williams said he was impacted by illness at Combine, where his workouts were mixed. A 40-yard time of 4.57 is slower than expected and he was less than impressive in position and agility drills. He showed excellent explosion with a 40-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot broad jump, but vowed to improve everything at his March 31 Pro Day.

      --Notable quote: "Because of my physicality and the cornerback position, and being athletic enough to run with wide receivers and with me having the ability to make a lot of tackles." -- Williams at Combine, when asked why a team should take him in the first round.

      --Frankly: This is an example of when not to let a single bad workout trump excellent play in numerous games. Williams has the athleticism and attitude to play this tough position and could be as good as any cornerback in this draft.

      5/44. Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH), 5-11, 195, 4.57, 2

      --Two-timing thief: A football and basketball star out of Wilmington High School in Ohio, Rollins arrived at Miami on a basketball scholarship and in four years compiled 214 steals, second most in school history. Absent a real NBA future as a 5-foot-11 inch guard, Rollins tried out for football as a senior and went from zero to hero in that one season. Named MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Rollins finished with 72 tackles and a conference high seven interceptions, third in the nation. Using many skills that transfer from basketball, Rollins shows instincts, awareness and reaction worthy of a four-year football letterman. But he is still early in the learning curve overall and must improve his technique backpedaling and knowing when to flip and run.

      --Measuring up: His Combine workouts were acceptable, with a 40-yard time of 4.57 seconds that included a decent 10-yard split of 1.61 seconds. Predictably, he jumped well going 36.5 inches in the vertical and 10-feet-2 inches in the broad jump. Basketball players often lack strength, but Rollins had 14 reps on the bench (225 pounds), decent for a 195-pounder.

      --Notable quote: "I just have a knack for the ball - a natural knack for the ball. I've always had that since I was a kid. Love getting steals, love getting interceptions. I was fortunate enough to be an offensive player in high school so that's where I get my ball skills from. It all translates." -- Rollins at Combine, when asked about his knack as a thief.

      --Frankly: There is precedent for Rollins' move to football. Recent history features basketball power forwards converting to pass-catching tight ends (Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates). In 1962, Dallas Cowboys personnel chief Gil Brandt, a mere pup at 29 years old, followed a tip on a Utah State basketball star who never played a down of football. Brandt agreed that the kid showed defensive skills on the hardcourt that could convert to cornerback. That kid, Cornell Green, became a five-time All-Pro and one of the many stories still told by Brandt, now a (very) senior analyst for NFL.com and SiriusXM NFL Radio. Rollins has the ability, but will need time and tutoring.

      6/54. *Jalen Collins, Louisiana State, 6-1, 203, 4.48, 2

      --Promises, promises: Despite playing well when given a chance, Collins remains an unfulfilled promise compared to high expectations early in his career. And now scouts must weigh the impact of foot surgery he underwent March 19. Early reports indicate it was minor and he will be ready for minicamp, but nothing is guaranteed. A dynamic high-school star from Olive Branch, Miss., Collins earned the "Most Improved" award in the spring of 2012 at LSU and was penciled in to fill the void left when fabled/infamous (pick one) Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed in August. Although he intercepted Johnny Manziel to set up a touchdown in an upset win over Texas A&M that year, Collins never became a regular first stringer. Issues reportedly included minor run-ins with coaches and inconsistency retaining specific responsibilities. So, he enters the draft with only 10 starts. Still, his natural, unbridled talent is easy to see. He is aggressive, fearless and athletic, but very inconsistent. Collins entered draft despite NFL Advisory committee's report indicating he should stay in school.

      --Measuring up: Collins, at exactly 6-foot-1 1/2 inches and 203 pounds, certainly looks the part. His Combine numbers are also respectable, especially if he managed them on a foot that needed surgery. His results including a 40-yard run in 4.48 seconds, a 36-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-4 inch broad jump. He will miss his pro day March 27.

      --Notable quote: "Try to take my game to another level. Become a game of the student. I mean a student of the game. Put extra time in in the film room, learn everything I can from the other guys and work hard like I've been doing." -- Collins at Combine, when asked what he needs to become NFL ready.

      --Frankly: First Collins must be 100 percent after the foot surgery. Then, he must focus to maximize his raw ability, something he did not do consistently in college. Before drafting Collins, a team should determine if he can grasp the necessary demands of their specific defense.

      7/55. Byron Jones, Connecticut, 6-1, 199, 4.49, 2

      --One giant leap for mankind: Jones was a lightly-regarded defensive back prospect before the Combine, when he literally jumped up the draft boards with an epic workout, including a world record broad jump of 12-feet-3 inches. He leap-frogged the previous record of Norwegian Arne Tvervaag, whose 12-2 stood as the world record since 1968. After revisiting game tapes, scouts had a renewed appreciation for Jones. A well-respected, well-built team captain at Connecticut, his senior season and college career ended last October when he needed surgery to repair a bothersome left shoulder. His seven-game totals included 24 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions, one he returned 70 yards for a touchdown. Jones was a physical, savvy team leader who could play safety or cornerback. He started 37 games, six as a freshman safety, in a career that totaled eight interceptions, 18 passes defended and 223 tackles.

      --Measuring up: Almost overlooked in the commotion caused by his world record broad jump was the fact that Jones didn't run the 40-yard dash because he was only six weeks into serious rehab. But while waiting for that at his March 31 Pro Day, it is notable that he also soared 44.5 inches in the vertical jump, sixth best Combine leap this century according to NFLDraftScout.com, and was impressive in the 3-cone drill (6.78 seconds) and short shuttle (3.94 seconds).

      --Notable quote: "I feel it may have boosted it up a little bit, but at the end of the day the film is what is most important. You've got to have good film, so I'm relying on that." -- Jones, putting in perspective the value of his world record broad jump.

      --Frankly: In November, after Jones' surgery, NFLDraftScout.com rated Jones No. 106 overall, the 13th best cornerback and a third- or fourth-round prospect. When he was unable to play in the Senior Bowl, Jones dropped into late-round, free-agent territory. Upon further review, this is where he seems to fit for now. Hey, nobody said this was an exact science.

      8/66. *Ronald Darby, Florida State, 5-11, 193, 4.38, 2-3

      --Speed indeed: Darby established his reputation at Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland, as one of the fastest preps in the country, both in track and football, where he played six different positions on offense, defense, and special teams. He was a member of the gold medal-winning USA medley relay at the 2011 World Youth Championships in France and not surprisingly won the 100-yard and 200-yard dashes to help Potomac High School win the state 3A track championship in Maryland. He also keyed a defense that had four shutouts. He earned ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors as a true freshman at FSU and began to make a statement that he brought some physicality with his speed. In 2014 he had a career-high 43 tackles and two interceptions. Off the field, he faced charges of sexual intimidation in a case that initially involved two other players, including quarterback Jameis Winston. But a disciplinary board opted not to dismiss or expel any of the players.

      --Measuring up: Darby's 40-yard time of 4.38 seconds was third fastest among defensive backs at the combine and his vertical jump of 41 1/2 inches was tied for best in the group. Add a broad jump of 10-feet-9 inches testify to his elite explosiveness.

      --Notable quote: "We pushed each other a lot. That's also like one of my closest friends other than Jameis (Winston). Like every day, if he makes a pass break-up, I want to make a pass break-up. If he makes a big hit or big tackle, I want to make a big hit or big tackle. And if I do the same, he wants to do it. We just pushed each other." -- Darby at combine, when asked about playing in same backfield with P. J. Williams, rated the No. 4 cornerback in this draft and projected as a first or second round pick.

      --Frankly: Darby brings more to the game than his extraordinary speed. He harnesses that speed to his natural athletic ability and a willingness to be physical. Although he is not as tall as teams want their cornerbacks and he is still refining his skills, Darby's range and jumping ability will compensate for shortcomings as he improves.

      9/72. D'Joun (DJ) Smith, Florida Atlantic, 5-10, 187, 4.45, 2-3

      --Miami Nice: With so many high-school stars in Miami, the big school college recruiters focused elsewhere when Smith was suspended four games for the latest in too many illegal hits as a junior. Florida Atlantic stayed by him and --although benched part of his junior year at FAU for what he says were poor practices -- Smith matured and returned the favor last year. He passed on the draft to play his senior season as team captain. After a bruised shoulder in the season opener, his 2014 season wasn't as impressive as 2013. That's when he grabbed the attention of pro scouts. He was among the NCAA leaders with 20 passes defensed and seven interceptions. Smith is quicker than fast and has intriguing man coverage skills. Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com's senior analyst, was impressed by Smith's footwork and physicality in Senior Bowl practices.

      --Measuring up: Exactly 5-foot-10 inches tall, Smith had the smallest hands at the Combine (8 1/8 inches), perhaps explaining why he didn't use his ball skills as a receiver. He had an excellent 40-yard time of 4.45 seconds, and a vertical jump of 36 inches. For his overall size, 18 reps on the bench (225 pounds) is pretty good. Smith's Pro Day is April 2.

      --Notable quote: "I can take out the best player in man-to-man. In the NFL, they play press and play man-to-man defense so there's a lot of trust. A lot of responsibility. I like that. I want to try and take out the top receiver." -- Smith describing his play and his goal.

      --Frankly: Smith must be more consistent overall and keep his speed under control so it doesn't run him out of plays, but he does have the athleticism to play on the NFL level.

      10/76. *Alex Carter, Stanford, 6-0, 196, 4.51, 2-3

      --Let's get physical: Although his father, Tom Carter, was a 1993 first-round pick (Washington Redskins) out of Notre Dame, Alex has not wowed NFL scouts and their opinions differ widely. His physicality was obvious from the start when he caused three fumbles as a freshman and finished his career with 146 tackles, 106 solo. Carter is still refining footwork in tight man cover, but is disciplined and especially effective in zone and off-man coverage where he can read the quarterback and jump routes. But, despite explosive quickness and jumping ability, he managed only two interceptions in 40 games. Carter suffered a torn labrum late in 2013 season and missed spring practice last year with a hip problem. He said he played at about 80 to 85 percent efficiency for much of the last two seasons.

      --Measuring up: Carter has good length at 1/8th inch over six feet tall with an impressive wing span of 79 5/8th inches and a 40-inch vertical jump. All that increases his area of influence as a pass defender. His electronic 40-yard time at the combine was 4.51 seconds and his hand-held time of 4.45 at Stanford's March 18 Pro Day is, realistically, pretty much the same.

      --Notable quote: "Coach Akina came in and really taught us how to play, how to see everything. That's helped me a lot. I know what to look for. I know how to study. I know the game of football better. That makes me feel better going forward." -- Carter, referring to former Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina, who actually suggested Carter would benefit from another year in college.

      --Frankly: Carter has good size, instincts and range to go with his aggressive style of play. He could help as a safety who has coverage ability to help man up against three-wide receiver sets.

      11/87. Josh Shaw, Southern Cal, 6-0, 201, 4.44, 3

      --Storied prospect: Shaw was impressive on and off the field until one ill-advised decision became big news, then bigger news when he admitted he lied. Shaw was known as a guy who, for example, went on a mission to Haiti in 2012 to help rebuilt houses. But last August he jumped from his second-floor balcony and injured both ankles. He first said it was to help a young relative struggling in the pool, then admitted he really jumped when he saw police arriving after he argued with his girlfriend. Between a suspension and the injury, Shaw played only three games last season. Scouts who already thought was a decent cornerback or safety prospect with good character, were left to juggle the balcony drama. The former Palmdale (Calif.) High prep star first went to Florida before returning west due help issues within his family. He is long, well-muscled and plays better in zones than in man. He looked good in both the East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl workouts.

      --Measuring up: At 6 feet- 1/2 inch, 201 pounds, Shaw ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, tied for the third-fastest among the 29 defensive backs at the combine. His 26 reps on the bench with 225 pounds was the most for a defensive back. His explosion is reflected by a 37 1/2 inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-10 inch broad jump.

      Notable quote: "I thought I could find an easy way out of something, but that doesn't work - I have made a mistake, and I have paid for it. And whether I do play or don't play again, I'll be forever grateful for USC for giving me a chance." -- Shaw in an interview with Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times.

      --Frankly: On balance, Shaw appears to be a basically good person who made a stupid mistake and fessed up, although a bit late. He isn't perfect as a defensive back, either, but should get a shot to show who he really is on and off the field.

      12/89. Doran Grant, Ohio State, 5-10, 200, 4.44, 3

      --All in the family: Grant has lengthy family bloodlines -- father Ted Jones (MSU wide receiver 1980-82), cousin Beanie Wells (OSU running back, 2009 first round pick, Arizona) and cousin Kevin White (W. Virginia wide receiver, projected first round draftee this year). Grant established reputation as a speed burner at St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) where he won state hurdles titles (110 meters outdoor, 60 meters indoor) with speed that helped him star as a receiver, defensive back and returner. He played in 54 games at Ohio State, starting 30 and taking over leadership role in 2014. Grant is well-muscled for press coverage and looks fast and fluid flipping and running.

      --Measuring up: Although cousin Devin White's 40 yard time (4.35 seconds) was better than Grant's (4.44), the Buckeye speedster had the quickest 10-yard time among all defensive backs (1.52). Grant also has weapons of destruction with large hands (9 3/8 inches) and strength to bench 225 pounds 21 times. For a guy with the fastest 10-yard time, Grant's explosion in jumps were disappointing -- 33 inches in the vertical and 9-feet-8 inches in the broad jump.

      -- Notable quote: "Coverage skills and being able to come up in run support as a physical corner and a fast one who can cover. Being able to be a great leader. I know NFL teams want leadership, they want grown men on their team, and I think I can provide that also." -- Grant at combine when asked to describe his strengths.

      --Frankly: Tough, fast and a natural leader on a national championship team, Grant might be a steal in the third round.

      13/104. Steven Nelson, Oregon State, 5-10, 197, 4.49, 2-3

      --The full Nelson: Feisty, fast and a force against the run, Nelson is a no-nonsense cornerback with an excellent feel for all aspects of playing cornerback. Nelson starred in track and football at Northside High School in Warner Robbins, Ga., where he returned seven punts for touchdowns as a senior. After two productive years at northern California's College of Sequoias (71 tackles, 19 pass breakups, six interceptions), he was an instant hit for Oregon State with four interceptions in his first four games and finished 2013 with six interceptions, including a game-deciding pick six against San Diego State. In 2014, passers didn't test Nelson as often, but he still had two interceptions and helped end first-round wide receiver prospect Jaelen Strong's streak of touchdown games at five in a win over Arizona State. Nelson ended his college playing career as a standout in Senior Bowl workouts.

      --Measuring up: A muscular 5-foot-10 1/8th inch (not counting a headful of dreadlocks), 197 pounds, Nelson should be called compact rather than small. His excellent 40-yard time of 4.49 seconds (10 in 1.57; 20 in 2.63) shows up in games, as does the strength reflected by 19 reps on the bench (225 pounds), fourth best among defensive backs at the Combine. Unlike most players with good Combine numbers, Nelson took part in his March 13 Pro Day, which included hand-held 40-yard times as low as 4.38 seconds and returned a few punts.

      --Notable quote: "A lot of the scouts are telling me they like the way I play, physical, and I'm out there just trying to win and stuff like that. So they like that tenacity." -- Nelson after a full workout at his March 13 Pro Day.

      --Frankly: Nelson looks and plays like the real deal and may be as NFL ready as any cornerback in this draft. Fast, physical, hard-working and a responsible father to son Steven Nelson III. A lot to like here.

      Also:

      14/114. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, 5-09, 192, 4.52, 3-4

      15/118. Eric Rowe, Utah, 6-1, 205, 4.45, 3-4

      16/127. Senquez Golson, Mississippi, 5-09, 176, 4.46, 4

      17/132. *Jacoby Glenn, Central Florida, 6-0, 179, 4.64, 4

      18/138. Kevin White, Texas Christian, 5-09, 183, 4.63, 4

      19/148. Charles Gaines, Louisville, 5-10, 180, 4.44, 4-5

      20/155. Justin Cox, Mississippi State, 6-1, 191, 4.36, 4-5

      21/159. *Lorenzo Doss, Tulane, 5-10, 182, 4.50, 4-5

      22/169. JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas, 5-11, 199, 4.54, 5

      23/177. Nick Marshall, Auburn, 6-1, 207, 4.54, 5

      24/182. Ladarius Gunter, Miami (FL), 6-1, 202, 4.69, 5-6

      25/189. Quandre Diggs, Texas, 5-09, 196, 4.56, 5-6

      26/211. Deshazor Everett, Texas AM, 5-11, 188, 4.49, 6

      27/215. Craig Mager, Texas State, 5-11, 201, 4.44, 6

      28/229. Damian Swann, Georgia, 6-0, 189, 4.50, 6-7

      29/235. Cam Thomas, Western Kentucky, 6-0, 195, 4.53, 6-7

      30/244. Bobby McCain, Memphis, 5-09, 195, 4.51, 7

      31/256. Justin Coleman, Tennessee, 5-11, 185, 4.53, 7

      32/265. Imoan Claiborne, Northwestern State, 5-10, 189, 4.53, 7-FA

      33/270. Bernard Blake, Colorado State, 5-11, 177, 4.52, 7-FA

      34/301. Bryce Callahan, Rice, 5-09, 184, 4.49, 7-FA

      35/312. Troy Hill, Oregon, 5-10, 182, 4.55, 7-FA

      36/321. Curtis Riley, Fresno State, 6-0, 190, 4.52, 7-FA

      37/335. Jonathon Mincy, Auburn, 5-10, 191, 4.55, 7-FA

      38/346. Julian Wilson, Oklahoma, 6-2, 205, 4.58, 7-FA

      39/357. Cody Riggs, Notre Dame, 5-09, 186, 4.56,

      40/372. SaQwan Edwards, New Mexico, 6-0, 200, 4.52,

      41/383. DeAnte Saunders, Tennessee State, 5-09, 185, 4.50,

      42/394. Randall Evans, Kansas State, 6-0, 190, 4.57,

      SAFETIES

      1 (SS)/17. *Landon Collins, Alabama, 6-0, 228, 4.53, 1

      --Still on top: Collins was the No. 1 rated safety coming out of high school and is the top rated safety in this draft, which is unusual considering he is basically a strong safety. Collins played both strong and free in college, but is much more effective using his aggression as an attacker than he is in coverage. Collins is long and strong enough to deal with tight ends and battle them for the ball, but not fluid or fast enough to handle clever little slot receivers. His aggressive nature works against him when he overreacts to play-action or is looked off by a quarterback.

      --Measuring up: A big man at 228 pounds with big, strong hands (9 3/8-inches), excellent explosion (35-inch vertical jump; 10-foot broad jump) and decent speed (40 yards in 4.53 seconds; 10 yards in 1.57). He stood on those combine stats at his March 13 pro day.

      --Notable quote: "My physical play coming downhill from that safety position or being in the box. If I could compare myself (to someone), Kam Chancellor (Seattle Seahawks). But I always idolized myself after Sean Taylor. That's my model. His physical presence and passion for the game. You could see it every time he touched the field." -- Collins at combine, asked about his greatest strength and a player to whom he compares himself.

      --Frankly: A hard-working, well-built, powerful athlete with quick feet, great attitude and the ability to step in and help an NFL defense immediately. With all that, he has even more upside. Great investment.

      2 (FS)/64. Cody Prewitt, Mississippi, 6-2, 208, 4.60, 2

      --Tall and talented: Here is a tall safety who might be able to help against the proliferation of productive tight ends. After playing some strong safety his freshman year at Mississippi, Prewitt found a home at free safety where he started all 13 games as a sophomore and was second on the team with 80 tackles and defensed six passes. As a junior, he garnered All-America honors in 2013 with 71 tackles, 13 passes defensed and a SEC-best six interceptions. Last season, he totaled 64 tackles, five passes defensed and three interceptions and was a first-team All-SEC selection for the second straight year. Prewitt is an aggressive and reliable tackler with enough instinct to snag a dozen interceptions in his career.

      --Measuring up: Long -- exactly 6-feet2 inches tall with 32 5/8th inch arms, 9 1/8th inch hands and a 79 1/8th wing span. Prewitt's speed was disappointing at the Combine (40 yards in 4.60 seconds on electronic timer) but he was clocked in 4.47 seconds by hand held watches at March 13 pro day. He showed above average explosion at combine (35 inch vertical jump; 10-foot-5 inch broad jump) but benched 225 pounds only 11 times, possibly because of a lingering shoulder problem.

      --Notable quote: "Nose for the ball with opportunistic ball skills to track and attack (12 career interceptions). Emotional leader and not afraid to get into the face of his teammates to praise or coach up. Productive starting experience (41 career starts) as a two-time First Team All-SEC member and 2013 All-American." -- NFLDraftscout.com senior analyst Rob Rang, on Prewitt.

      --Frankly: Although his instincts helped steal 12 passes, his aggressiveness often gets him in trouble. Prewitt has the length NFL teams are seeking in defensive backs and if he just plays under control he should be an asset against NFL receivers who are getting taller each year.

      ALSO: Strong Safeties:

      2/73. Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern, 5-11, 208, 4.59, 2-3

      3/92. Jaquiski Tartt, Samford, 6-1, 221, 4.53, 3

      4/123. *James Sample, Louisville, 6-2, 209, 4.56, 3-4

      5/143. Clayton Geathers, Central Florida, 6-2, 218, 4.55, 4-5

      6/175. Jordan Richards, Stanford, 5-11, 211, 4.65, 5

      7/193. Erick Dargan, Oregon, 5-11, 217, 4.62, 5-6

      8/210. Anthony Jefferson, UCLA, 6-1, 198, 4.72, 6

      9/241. Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech, 5-10, 200, 4.57, 7

      10/263. Sam Carter, Texas Christian, 6-0, 216, 4.63, 7-FA

      11/289. Brian Blechen, Utah, 6-2, 216, 4.70, 7-FA

      12/305. Damian Parms, Florida Atlantic, 6-1, 206, 4.59, 7-FA

      13/325. Isaiah Johnson, Georgia Tech, 6-1, 213, 4.56, 7-FA

      14/342. Ronald Martin, LSU, 6-1, 217, 4.59, 7-FA

      ALSO: Free Safeties:

      2/75. Damarious Randall, Arizona State, 5-11, 196, 4.46, 2-3

      3/94. Derron Smith, Fresno State, 5-10, 200, 4.52, 3

      4/110. *Gerod Holliman, Louisville, 6-0, 218, 4.54, 3-4

      5/141. *Durrell Eskridge, Syracuse, 6-3, 208, 4.63, 4

      6/150. Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State, 6-1, 208, 4.65, 4-5

      7/183. Adrian Amos, Penn State, 6-0, 218, 4.56, 5-6

      8/208. Anthony Harris, Virginia, 6-1, 183, 4.56, 6

      9/233. *Chris Hackett, Texas Christian, 6-0, 195, 4.81, 6-7

      10/251. Tevin McDonald, Eastern Washington, 5-11, 195, 4.63, 7

      11/286. Detrick Bonner, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 207, 4.56, 7-FA

      12/304. Dean Marlowe, James Madison, 6-1, 203, 4.58, 7-FA

      13/322. Nick Perry, Alabama, 6-0, 205, 4.63, 7-FA

      14/339. Dechane Durante, Northern Illinois, 6-2, 194, 4.56, 7-FA

      15/350. TraMayne Bondurant, Arizona, 5-10, 212, 4.54, 7-FA

      --Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his 50th year covering football and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    Report: Browns, Falcons will get 'severe' sanctions
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons are set to receive "severe" punishments for violation of NFL rules, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    • The league informed the two teams at this week's owners meetings in Phoenix what the penalties will be, and the sanctions likely will be announced next week, Schefter reported.

      Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer confessed to texting in games, which is not permitted under the NFL's electronic-device policy. Reportedly, Farmer texted sideline personnel regarding game strategy.

      The Falcons admitted that they pumped fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome during games to cause difficulties for the visiting team. The practice went on for the past two years, team owner Arthur Blank said.

      Both Browns and Falcons officials said since news of the transgressions broke that they are prepared to accept the consequences.

      Possible penalties could include the loss of draft picks and/or fines.

      The timetable for the resolution of another investigation into alleged in-game wrongdoing, the New England Patriots' reported use of underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game, remains unknown.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    NFL notebook: Vikings don't plan to trade Peterson, Zimmer says
    By The Sports Xchange

    Running back Adrian Peterson is not long for the Minnesota Vikings, if you ask his agent, Ben Dogra. Coach Mike Zimmer told another story Wednesday on the final day of NFL owners meetings.

    • "I'm not going to speculate on what he wants or doesn't want," Zimmer said. "Adrian is under contract with us for three more years. That's why you sign those contracts. Why you get this big bonuses, you know. But yeah, we are planning on him being here."

      Dogra has said in no uncertain terms that Peterson is ready to move on. This week, he told USA Today., "We want out of Minnesota."

      Peterson hasn't played since September and at 30 is owed $45 million on the final years of his contract with the Vikings. The Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys are the teams most frequently tied to Peterson trade rumors. Zimmer said such talks are just that.

      "We have no plans to trade Adrian, no," Zimmer said.

      ---Four weeks before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are officially on the clock in the NFL draft on April 30, coach Lovie Smith does not deny Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the leader to be the No. 1 pick.

      "No, I wouldn't say it's an erroneous assumption," Smith said in response to a query about the Bucs taking Winston over Oregon's Marcus Mariota first overall. "I would say when people make that assumption, we haven't had the pro workout (for Winston) yet. But we've done a lot of research, have watched a lot of video and had both of them in and talked with them individually and had them on the board. But the process, the game isn't over yet. I think you can have a leader, but you have to let the game play out and we're doing that.

      "We're excited about this final stage almost to decide exactly which direction to go."

      ---No one in the NFL is more unpredictable than Chip Kelly, but the Philadelphia Eagles' coach appears resolute in his message that he will not mortgage the team's future to move up to select Mariota.

      "Philosophically, I want to build through the draft," Kelly said at the NFL owners meetings. "So if you gut yourself for one year and one guy, philosophically I don't think that's the right thing to do."

      Kelly acknowledged that there are exceptions to every philosophy, but he does not envision any scenario in which the price tag would not be far more than he is willing to pay to move up and snag his former protege.

      "More players are better than one player. Philosophically," Kelly said. "Just look at the history of the game. Study all the trades. What set the Cowboys going forward? They traded one player (running back Herschel Walker) for multiple players. The draft isn't an exact science. You've got a better chance of hitting if you have more draft picks than if you have less draft picks."

      ---The NFL appears poised to make a major change when it comes to the almost-automatic point after touchdown.

      During the final day of the league meetings Wednesday, no vote was taken on the proposal to move the line of scrimmage for an extra-point kick to the 15-yard line. However, according to competition committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, there was a 30- to 40-minute discussion, with numerous ideas suggested.

      Most notably, McKay said, the sentiment in the league was that "it's time to make this a football play." That could also lead to the defense being able to score one or two points on an attempt whether by a blocked kick or interception/fumble return. "There is a movement to make a change and make it this year," McKay added.

      In other votes Wednesday:

      --The adjustment for eligible/ineligible receivers was approved, mandating that a normally eligible receiver who reports as ineligible must line up within the tackle box. St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the competition committee, said last week that "there was a concern on behalf of a number of clubs and number of coaches and coach (John) Madden's subcommittee that unless we had some guidelines in place this thing may get out of hand."

      --An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty or taunting foul at the end of the first half will carry over to the second half.

      --Linebackers will be permitted to wear uniform numbers 40-49.

      --Teams with retractable roofs that have the roofs closed at the start of the game can open the roofs at halftime.

      ---Citing a database error, the NFL revised compensatory draft picks for three teams Wednesday.

      The Carolina Panthers had a sixth-round pick bumped to the fifth round, giving the Panthers two fifth-round comp picks.

      The Pittsburgh Steelers had a seventh-round pick turned into a sixth -- their lone comp pick -- and the Denver Broncos had a sixth turned into a seventh. The Broncos now have three picks in a row at the end of the seventh round.

      The Broncos remain one of four teams with the maximum four comp picks, along with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs.

      ---The Seattle Seahawks announced the hires of three assistant coaches.

      Dwaine Board will be the assistant defensive line coach, Chris Cash will coach cornerbacks and Andre Curtis will coach safeties.

      Board spent 2003-08 as the defensive line coach under Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks ranked second in the NFL with 136 sacks from 2005 to 2007 and led the NFL with 50 sacks in 2005, when they played in Super Bowl XL.

      Cash played in the same USC secondary as Kris Richard under Pete Carroll in 2000-01. Both defensive backs were drafted in 2002, and Richard had been Seattle's secondary coach until being promoted this offseason to defensive coordinator to replace Dan Quinn, who was hired as the Atlanta Falcons' coach.

      Curtis most recently was assistant secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints. He also was a defensive quality control coach for the New York Giants (2006-08) and safeties coach for the St. Louis Rams (2009-11).

      ---The Chicago Bears signed linebacker Mason Foster to a one-year contract.

      A third-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011, Foster started 54 games for the Bucs and tallied 341 tackles, six sacks and five interceptions. He returned two of the five interceptions for touchdowns.

      Foster is the third defensive player to join the Bears in the past two days. They also agreed to one-year deals with defensive linemen Ray McDonald defensive end Jarvis Jenkins.

      ---The Arizona Cardinals signed tight end Ifeanyi Momah to a one-year contract after he participated in the NFL Veteran Combine during the weekend in Tempe, Ariz.

      Momah is the second player to land with the Cardinals from the Veteran Combine. On Monday, the team agreed to terms with wide receiver/kick returner Nathan Slaughter, who was the fastest player among the 105 at the combine, running a 4.45 40-yard dash.

      The Cardinals did not disclose terms of Momah's deal.

      ---The Green Bay Packers signed defensive back Kyle Sebetic.

      The 6-foot, 197-pound Sebetic originally signed last June with the New York Giants but was released on Aug. 26. He returned to spend a week on the Giants' practice squad in November.

      Sebetic is a Wisconsin native who played college football at the University of Dayton.

      ---The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived linebacker Brandon Magee, who will report to spring training with the Boston Red Sox.

      Magee played in nine games for Tampa Bay in 2014, tallying one tackle on defense and six on special teams.

      Magee first joined the Bucs just before last year's training camp. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State in 2013, signing with the Dallas Cowboys.

      Magee participated in spring training with the Red Sox in 2014. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.

      The Red Sox confirmed Wednesday that Magee is reporting to the team's minor league complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

      ---Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not worried star wide receiver Dez Bryant remains unsigned.

      Bryant has yet to sign his franchise tag, guaranteeing him $12.7 million in 2015, but Jones said he is confident Bryant will be under contract before the season starts.

      "I'm not worried about that at all, and it's because of how much he loves the game, how much he knows that preparation, practice, all of that improves him," Jones said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "He's at a time in his career where he's physically still very much improving, can get better.

      "The biggest reason I want a long-term agreement with Dez is so we'll have a deal with him for a long term -- but not as far as impacting what we're doing this year in terms of what Dez's performance will be or what we are as a team. We've got that in place with the franchise. So I'm not worried. I know how much he loves to play football, I know how much he loves his teammates, I know how much he loves his team and I know how much money he's getting. With all of that, you play."

      ---Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still received good news.

      His 4-year-old daughter Leah's cancer is in remission, he said in a post on Instagram. She was diagnosed last June and had undergone months of treatment that included chemotherapy while drawing widespread support from around the country and raising awareness for pediatric cancer.

      "June 2, 2014, and March 25, 2015, are days I will remember for the rest of my life," Devon Still wrote. "As everyone probably knows, June 2nd was the day doctors walked into the waiting room to tell me my daughter had cancer. It was the most devastating day of my life. March 25th, however, is feeling like the best day of my life."

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    Bengals' Still announces daughter's cancer in remission
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still received good news on Wednesday.

    • His 4-year-old daughter Leah's cancer is in remission, he said in a post on Instragram. She was diagnosed last June and had undergone months of treatment that included chemotherapy while drawing widespread support from around the country and raising awareness for pediatric cancer.

      "June 2, 2014 and March 25, 2015 are days I will remember for the rest of my life," Devon Still wrote. "As everyone probably knows, June 2nd was the day doctors walked into the waiting room to tell me my daughter had cancer. It was the most devastating day of my life. March 25th, however, is feeling like the best day of my life.

      "Today we received news from Leah's oncologist that her cancer, stage four neuroblastoma, is officially in REMISSION! After 296 days of day dreaming about what it would feel like to hear the doctors say my daughter is in remission, I finally know the feeling.

      "Funny thing is, there is really no way of describing it because I never knew this feeling existed. When I look at my daughter, all I can do is smile and hug her. It was not easy, but every day, and every treatment Leah fought like hell and kicked cancers butt! I'm so proud and blessed to call her my daughter. She has made an impact on me and on the world, at the age of four, that I can only wish to make in a lifetime.

      "Thank you to my family and friends for the support through all those tough days. Thank you to everyone who has sent a letter to give Leah and our family motivation to keep fighting, a toy that helped Leah get through her days in the hospital, and more importantly a prayer that helped God hear our cries for healing.

      "Thank you to the doctors at CHOP for putting together the best plan of action for my daughter. Thank you to Child Life members Sarah, Laura, and Lindsey for really turning what could be a scary place into a place where Leah would enjoy going because she knew she would have fun with you guys. Thank you to the Bengals for taking on my situation and standing by me and my family and for helping to raise money to fight pediatric cancer.

      "To every media outlet and persons that helped raise much needed awareness, thank you. Leah is not done with treatments yet. She still needs more to make sure the cancer cells do not return and to build back up her immune system and other damage from the chemo but I know my little warrior will get through it!"

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    Bucs waive LB Magee
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived linebacker Brandon Magee on Wednesday.

    • Magee played in nine games for Tampa Bay in 2014, tallying one tackle on defense and six on special teams.

      Magee first joined the Bucs just before last year's training camp. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State in 2013, signing with the Dallas Cowboys.

      Magee was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns and appeared in eight games as a rookie, playing primarily on special teams. The Browns waived him in July.

      Magee has also pursued a baseball career and participated in spring training with the Boston Red Sox in 2014. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.

      The Red Sox confirmed Wednesday that Magee is reporting to the team's minor league complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

      "I'm grateful for the opportunity they gave me at the time. Right now, I'm focused on spring training," Magee told the Tampa Bay Times.