NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Draft

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
5:30
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.


  • It wasn’t a good day for the receivers, who dropped four passes during 11-on-11 work – including one in the end zone by Mike Brown. That came on perhaps Blake Bortles’ best throw of camp. He zipped a pass between two defensive backs and hit Brown in the chest, but Brown couldn’t hold on to the ball. Bortles had another good throw down the left sideline that he dropped in over the cornerback that Kerry Taylor dropped. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson also dropped passes, though cornerback Dwayne Gratz was hanging onto Robinson when he dropped the pass. Tight end Marcedes Lewis also had a pass bounce off his hands, but it would have been a fantastic catch had he hauled it in because Bortles’ pass was behind him.
  • Wednesday was the first day in full pads and we finally got to see some good one-on-one battles between the offensive and defensive linemen. Left tackle Luke Joeckel had a pretty good day. Defensive end Chris Clemons beat him with an inside spin move on their first matchup but Joeckel came right back and locked Clemons down in their next matchup. Joeckel also had the most impressive block during the drills, pancaking rookie defensive end Chris Smith. Another rookie, guard Brandon Linder, drew the unfortunate task of taking on defensive end Red Bryant. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant pushed the 6-5, 311-pound Linder back, but Linder never let Bryant disengage or get by. A couple other matchups of note: defensive tackle Jordan Miller beat center Mike Brewster with an inside move but Brewster held the block on their rematch; defensive tackle Abry Jones beat center/guard Jacques McClendon twice.
  • The Jaguars were the worst team in the NFL in the red zone in 2013, scoring touchdowns only 43.9 percent of their possessions and scoring points on only 75.6 percent of their possessions. They’ve done red zone work in camp but coach Gus Bradley said the Jaguars may do more of it going forward. “I know we got better the last six or seven games of the season in the red zone, but it was an area of emphasis for us [in OTAs, minicamp and training camp],” Bradley said. “So you might see more and more red zone opportunities for us to at least practice and work.” The Jaguars’ first-team offense had some success on Wednesday. Chad Henne hit Robinson in the end zone for a touchdown. Henne also hooked up with rookie Marqise Lee on a short pass near the goal line and Lee fought into the end zone.
  • Linebacker John Lotulelei practiced for the first time on Wednesday after he passed a physical. He had been on the active/non-football injury list after reporting to camp with a hamstring injury. … Tight end D.J. Tialavea (quad) also returned to practice. … Bradley said cornerback Alan Ball, who is on the PUP list with an ankle injury, may return within the next few days. … Attendance was 1,504.

 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There was a lot of scrambling on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice fields on Saturday afternoon – most of it by team officials to accommodate one of the biggest crowds in team history.

A steady flow of fans packed the practice field for the second day of the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp. They showed up about an hour before the 1 p.m. workout started, lining up into the parking lot in front of EverBank Field.

And they kept coming and coming and coming …

The final count: 6,214 fans, the most to ever watch a Jaguars rookie minicamp and nearly 2,000 more to attend a training camp session.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
Rob Foldy/Getty ImagesBlake Bortles is part of a Jaguars rookie class that has captured the intrigue of the team's fanbase.
"This feels like it felt like it did in 1996 because of the enthusiasm that something better is on the way," said Brian Sexton, the team’s play-by-play radio announcer for the franchise’s first 19 seasons.

There’s certainly reason for the optimism. The Jaguars’ draft class has been lauded by draft analysts and experts across the country as one of the best in the league. General manager David Caldwell took former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick and followed that with a pair of receivers in the second round: USC’s Marqise Lee, whom many regarded as a first-round talent, and Penn State’s Allen Robinson.

Bortles looked a little better on Saturday than he did on Friday. He completed 12 of 18 passes and was the victim of two drops. Robinson stood out by digging out a low throw and making a diving catch on a deep ball thrown by undrafted free-agent quarterback Stephen Morris.

For fans starved for offense – the Jaguars averaged a league-low 15.4 points per game and scored a league-low 23 touchdowns in 2013 – the first three picks were answered prayers. That’s a big reason why 2,054 attended Friday’s practice and more than three times that many were out there on a sunny, breezy afternoon.

Both sets of 500-seat bleachers were packed by the time the team finished stretching. The overflow section behind the first practice field filled up pretty quickly after that. So many kept arriving that team officials had to shut the gates and only allowed fans to enter when some left. Some fans even watched the practice through the bottom of the fence surrounding the fields.

Jaguars officials quickly cleared additional space behind north end zones of the second and third practice fields and re-opened the gates. When the Jaguars worked exclusively on the first practice field for the final few periods, security allowed fans on the middle practice field so they could get a closer look.

"How about the fans?" Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "I look and they’re all lined up underneath [the tarps on the fences]. I don’t know how many people were there, but what a credit to [owner] Shad [Khan], what a vision. When I go around and talk to people, they feel so confident in his vision. I think it’s a credit to him and the organization and it feels good, I do know that.

"And our fans, we talk about ‘connect with the following’ and try to help them go along this journey with us. We get excited, they get excited. When we have tough times, they have tough times. We are going to do this thing together and to be able to come out and see a group of people that are that passionate for good football and to watch passionate players is something."

Tight end Reggie Jordan, one of 27 rookies that were given a tryout, said he has played in front of smaller crowds at Missouri Western State in St. Joseph, Missouri.

"Some days you’ll have, like, 4,000 or 5,000,” Jordan said. "Some days you’ll have, like, 10-12 [thousand]. It was pretty small.

"It just depends on who we played. We knew that when we had a lesser opponent it wasn’t going to be very good."

There hasn’t been this many fans watching a rookie minicamp practice since 2,378 attended a session in 2003, which was quarterback Byron Leftwich’s rookie season. According to the Jaguars, the largest crowd to ever watch a training camp practice was 4,500, which happened several times.

Former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli, the team’s first inductee into its ring of honor (Pride of the Jaguars), said the atmosphere was similar to the franchise’s early years, especially for the team’s first training camp in Jacksonville in 1996. The Jaguars had camped in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in their inaugural season.

"It’s always hard to compare because we didn’t have open practices this time of year. Everything was closed," Boselli said. "But it reminds you a little bit of that ’96 training camp with all the buzz. … I think people are really hopeful that this thing is on the right track.

"I think it’s infectious and I think people are pleased so far with what they’ve seen, what Dave’s been able to do, so I think there’s a lot of hope right now. And you draft a quarterback first; everyone gets excited about a quarterback."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Even though the guy isn't supposed to play this season, Jacksonville Jaguars fans have quickly embraced quarterback Blake Bortles.

That was evident by the 2,054 fans who piled onto the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field for the first day of the team’s two-day minicamp Friday afternoon. And by the noise they made when Bortles jogged through the blocked-off walkway onto the field.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
Phil Sears/USA TODAY SportsBlake Bortles is surrounded by fans aiming to get his autograph during the Jaguars' rookie minicamp.
"It was awesome," Bortles said. "The fans were unbelievable. I’ve never seen so many people at practice before."

There haven’t been the past several seasons, not even in 2011 when the Jaguars took quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick, because the team didn't have a rookie minicamp thanks to the lockout. Not when the team hasn’t had a winning record since 2007 and hasn’t won more than five games since 2010.

But the fans were out there on a sunny, windy, 80-degree Friday. Sprinkled among the teal and black was a lot of UCF gold. Members of the school's sports information department made the trip from Orlando, as did several television stations. The sideline was littered with photographers and photojournalists, too.

The scene would be considered a normal open minicamp in Denver, New York, New England and Chicago. But it was five times as many as usual for one of the NFL's smallest markets.

It was all to get a look at the player who is supposed to turn the franchise around.

"How about this atmosphere?" Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said.

Although the players were only in helmets, Bortles didn’t disappoint. He completed 11 of 14 passes in 11-on-11 drills. One of the incompletions was a drop by receiver Greg Childs. Another was knocked out of tight end D.J. Tialavea’s hands by defensive back Chris Pickett. The third was an overthrow on a deep ball to receiver Marqise Lee, who also caught Bortles’ first pass of the day.

"I thought he did a nice job," Bradley said. "He got a lot of reps. I think it was going to be 50-something reps compared to 14 for Stephen [Morris], trying to get him in a rhythm. As he went through it, I’m sure he did some things that were good and some things that he needs to improve on. But we just want him to capture it and grow from it."

Bortles was just happy to be on the field for the first time since the Jaguars took him with the No. 3 pick on May 8. Since then, he came to Jacksonville for his introductory news conference, returned to Orlando for a few days and drove back to Jacksonville on Monday. He and the rest of the rookies had physicals and have gone through orientation and meetings before finally practicing for the first time Friday.

He said he wasn’t nervous at all for his first NFL workout and is looking forward to No. 2 on Saturday afternoon.
PITTSBURGH -- Of the many things to like about the Pittsburgh Steelers picking Ryan Shazier in the first round of the NFL draft, here is another one: to peg him as just an inside linebacker is shortsighted.

[+] EnlargeRyan Shazier
Elsa/Getty ImagesThe Steelers selected Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier with the 15th overall pick in the first round.
"Ultimately, you're in sub packages so much that you really need to have guys that can match up, and that's what Shazier brings, and he brings pass-rushing ability," ESPN analyst Todd McShay said during a post-draft conference call. "I think they [the Steelers] get faster and more athletic with that pick alone."

Yes, they do.

"When we took Ryan, we talked about a defensive playmaker over anything else," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "He fit the bill in that regard."

The speedy Shazier is also the kind of player defenses need in order to counter offenses that spread out and increasingly force defenses out of their base set.

"What's happening today is there are multiple receiver personnel groupings, like 60 to 65 percent of the time," Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said. "[Shazier] fits the part of the game that is starting to put faster people on the field."

Shazier ran a sub-4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Ohio State's pro day, and he is so fast that Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake asked Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby during a pre-draft visit if Shazier could play safety.

And he wasn't joking.

"There is no reason why he couldn't play safety," said Lake, the former Steelers standout who played safety and cornerback during his 13-year NFL career. "This guy is big and fast and aggressive. If for some reason Keith Butler doesn't like him, I'll take him."

That's not going to happen.

But Shazier is going to line up at different spots because of his speed, versatility and ability to play in space.

"He has the athleticism to drop back into coverage and match up," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "He has speed. He's going to get on people quicker than they know because he's very fast."

Shazier is not even the fastest player in the Steelers' draft class -- third-round pick Dri Archer takes that honor -- which shows how much of a premium Pittsburgh put on adding speed through the draft.

"I think you covet speed, but it's football, not a track meet," Tomlin said. "If you get a capable football player who happens to be fast, it's an asset. Speed players that we were able to acquire in this draft fit that bill: football players first who happen to be extremely fast."
One of the lingering questions involving the New York Jets is whether they adequately addressed their wide-receiver need in the draft.

Amid the endless pre-draft hype, they were linked to big-name prospects such as Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee. They went hard after receivers on the third day, selecting three wideouts, but it's never a sure thing when you're relying on middle- and late-round picks. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay agrees, claiming the Jets' draft strategy underscores their belief that Eric Decker -- the No. 2 receiver with the Denver Broncos -- will be their top dog for the foreseeable future.

"Outside of (the three picks), I don’t think they were really able to solve their problem at wide receiver," McShay said Monday on a media conference call. "You have to believe Eric Decker is your No. 1 if you’re going to spend that money" -- meaning the five-year, $36.25 million contract.

Amaro
The Jets drafted Jalen Saunders (fourth round), Shaq Evans (fourth) and Quincy Enunwa (sixth), but their key draft pick is tight end Jace Amaro (second). McShay described Amaro as a "big wide receiver" who needs to make an immediate impact. To me, he's the key to the draft.

"Ultimately, you need Amaro to come in and contribute, and you need more from Stephen Hill and you need Eric Decker to play the way he was paid," McShay said. "Hopefully, between Saunders, Evans and Enunwa, if you hit on one of those guys, you'll fill out the depth a little bit."

McShay believes the Jets got good value with their first two picks, safety Calvin Pryor and Amaro, but he wonders if they reached for need in the third round, taking cornerback Dex McDougle. No matter how team officials try to spin it, this was a "need" draft for the Jets. It's the kind of strategy that results in reaches, which end up being bad picks.

"Could they have gone wide receiver there? Yeah, sure, there were some better players at wide receiver available (in the third round), but they’re still trying to fill in that secondary and get the right guys there," McShay said.

Pryor
McShay offered a few other takeaways on the Jets' draft. He sees Pryor as a great fit in Rex Ryan's defense, but he wonders if he'll have to dial back his aggressive ways to conform to the new safety rules.

"I know some Jets fans were frustrated they went with (him) at 18, but he was just a really good value and he fits what they want," McShay said. "They want a guy who’s going to set a tone physically, who’s tough. He's got enough range to cover the deep third and the deep middle of the field. He’s never going to be a matchup safety, but he can cover in zone, he’s capable of playing in the box and he’s going to fill the alley hard. I mean, he knocked some guys out. He’s probably going to wind up with some fines in the league, and he may have to adjust his mentality a little bit, but he’s a perfect Rex Ryan-type football player."

The criticism of Amaro is he's a below average blocker. Doesn't matter, according to McShay.

"He can block a little bit, but ultimately all they did was draft a big wide receiver they can flex out and put in the slot, even split out wide at times and try to create some mismatches," he said. "I really like that pick for the Jets."

McShay's take on the next three picks:

McDougle: "I like his tape. He has durability issues, but I thought he was one of the under-rated players in this draft. When you studied what he did in 2012 and his first couple of games this season, he’s got a lot of potential. They obviously love drafting defensive backs."

Saunders: "He’s quick. He’s a good slot receiver, he makes plays and he create after the catch."

Evans: "We had him in that fourth/fifth-round range. He doesn’t have explosive burst. He’s not going to stretch the field much vertically, but he has good hands and I thought he had a really good performance at the Senior Bowl. He’s got a chance to stick maybe as the No. 4 or No. 5."
Nobody could catch De'Anthony Thomas from behind with the ball in his hand when he played at Oregon. He's not planning for it to happen in the NFL, either.

"Not at all," said Thomas, the fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. "Once I get out of the gates, I feel like I'm going to score that touchdown."

[+] EnlargeThomas
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsThe Chiefs selected Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas with the 124th overall pick in the fourth round.
Thomas is fast enough to back up that claim. He is world-class fast and for that reason, Thomas could wind up having the biggest immediate impact among any of the six players the Chiefs drafted this year.

The Chiefs would be smart to unleash Thomas immediately as their kickoff and punt-return specialist. He returned four kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns in his three seasons at Oregon. He'll be coached on special teams by Dave Toub, who has had a nice touch working with skilled return specialists before.

"Let's don't underestimate what (Toub has) been able to do in his career with unique talents at returner," Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard said. "He did it in Chicago, I was with him. I watched him take four guys and all were very good players and then he came in here and what he did with Dexter McCluster and our kickoff returners. So we've got some unique staff here to take advantage of his unique skill set."

On offense, Thomas played a lot of running back at Oregon. The Chiefs' backfield is already crowded with Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, so he may not get much work there in Kansas City.

But the Chiefs are looking for a slot receiver to replace McCluster and Thomas immediately becomes the most intriguing candidate for that job. At 5-9 and 174, he is of similar size to McCluster. His skills are similar as well, though Thomas is faster.

"He offers a lot of the same traits in terms of being both a very good receiver out of the backfield and as a runner," said Trey Koziol, the Chiefs' west coast scout. "I think you see similar traits in the open field, guys who can make people miss, guys who are a threat to take it to the house.

"I think when you've got a guy that's got kind of a Swiss Army Knifetype versatility, you can move him all over the place. Just look for the best mismatch. I'll leave that up to coach and the offensive staff. But from the scouting perspective, I think that he has all the physical tools you could look for in the receiving game as well. He's a guy that catches the ball very, very well for them there and has had a lot of production in the pass game for Oregon."

Chiefs coaches and officials said many of the same things over the years about McCluster. Though McCluster had decent numbers in terms of catches and yards, he delivered few big plays on offense.

While the speed and ability are there for Thomas, the Chiefs need to find a way to get more from him. If the Chiefs can just get from Thomas what they got from McCluster, he is worth the pick. And if they can get Thomas to achieve his full potential, he is worth so much more.
Before a pick had been made in this year’s NFL draft, John Elway knew that it was going to be a tough sell to get some of the better undrafted players who remained on the team's draft board to sign with the Denver Broncos.

After all, the Broncos were a Super Bowl team last season with fairly young players on the depth chart. Denver also was one of the league's most active teams in free agency, making for limited spots to keep the team’s undrafted player streak alive.

The Broncos were able to convince 15 undrafted players to agree to terms Saturday night. And for the past 10 seasons at least one undrafted rookie has made the team’s cut to 53 players before the season opener. Last year it was running back C.J. Anderson who made the roster.

[+] EnlargeKapri Bibbs
AP Photo/Eric DraperColorado State celebrated touchdowns by Kapri Bibbs on a regular basis in 2013.
“It got much harder last year, and I’m sure it’ll be harder this year once the draft is over and we do start calling the college free agents," Elway said last week. “But there’s no question, it makes it more difficult when you have a real good football team, because those kids are looking for opportunities and trying to go to the places where they’re best going to be able to make a roster. So it makes it more difficult for us … it’s a good problem to have."

This year’s road figures to be bumpy for those undrafteds because the Broncos simply don’t have much room for any of them on the roster. But there are some possibilities.

There are three players who were invited to the scouting combine this past February in the group – Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs, Fresno State wide receiver/returner Isaiah Burse and Michigan State wide receiver Bennie Fowler.

The Broncos are a little thin at running back, so there is some room for Bibbs to make a push. Bibbs entered the draft as a redshirt sophomore after a 1,741-yard, 31-touchdown season. In a quirky bit of production Bibbs, who had 603 yards rushing combined in back-to-back games last season, had more games with fewer than 100 yards rushing last season (eight) than he did with more than 100 yards rushing (six).

But the Broncos are on the hunt for another back in the rotation, so Bibbs has a shot as does another undrafted player signed Saturday -- Duke’s Juwan Thompson. Thompson played for David Cutcliffe at Duke -- Cutcliffe was Peyton Manning’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee -- and he came with a quality recommendation from Cutcliffe to the Broncos.

Manning and the Broncos pass-catchers were at Duke for some workouts earlier in the offseason. At 5-foot-10 inches tall and 226 pounds, Thompson is a big back well versed in the passing game. He ran a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day.

He’ll be a player to keep an eye on in training camp. Duke had six players carry the ball at least 62 times last season and none of the players had more than 113 carries. Thompson finished the season with 64 carries for 355 yards to go with seven receptions.

Burse, too, will have a quality chance because of his ability as a returner. At 5-10 3/8, 188 pounds, Burse was an undersized receiver in a draft class filled with tall, big and fast wideouts. But Burse was one of the better punt returners on the board, averaging 12.5 yards on punt returns with two touchdowns this past season.

“Obviously with Burse he’s a good slot, productive receiver,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said. “[Return work] obviously helps his chance, but his skill set is something we were impressed with.’’

For Fowler's part, he ran 4.35 (hand-timed) at his pro day to go with an attention-grabbing 17.3 yards per catch last season, but he has suffered fractures in both feet during his career.

Colorado State linebacker Shaquil Barrett was the Mountain West’s Defensive Player of the Year last season and set the conference’s record for tackles for loss (20.5). His play speed is far better than his workout numbers, so he could find a way on the roster if he makes a quick impact on special teams.

The Broncos did take two linebackers in the draft -- LSU’s Lamin Barrow and Oklahoma’s Corey Nelson -- so it will be an uphill trek, but there is a slim opportunity available.

Also, Mister Cobble, a 333-pound defensive tackle from Kentucky, shows quick feet for a player his size in his game video. Cobble missed time in the 2012 season with an infection, had shoulder surgery in 2011 to repair a torn labrum and missed most of the 2010 season with academic issues.

But the Broncos like that kind of bulk in the middle of the defensive line, so Cobble will get a long look.
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on Sunday with nine undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:

RB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

DT Brandon Dunn, Louisville

OG Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

OG James Dunbar, Texas Christian

LB Tana Patrick, Alabama

LB Christian Jones, Florida State

DT Lee Pegues, East Carolina

OT Cody Booth, Temple

LB Devekeyan Lattimore, South Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars had an exceptional draft.

That's according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who had the Jaguars as one of five teams that earned an "A" for their work from Thursday-SaturdayInsider. San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Houston and St. Louis were the other teams.

Kiper based his grades on three criteria:

How much overall talent did a team add based on board position?

How effectively did they address key personnel needs?

How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?

Kiper wasn't thrilled with the value of quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3, but he did like the Jaguars addressing their need at receiver with Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round. Even if Bortles doesn't play in 2014 -- which is the plan, according to GM David Caldwell -- those two players will help an offense that averaged just 15.4 points per game last season.

Kiper also likes Telvin Smith, an undersized linebacker whom he compares to Tampa Bay's Lavonte David, and the selection of cornerback Aaron Colvin, a second-round talent who dropped to the fourth because he tore his right ACL during Senior Bowl practices.
The Denver Broncos were picking late in this year’s NFL draft – 31st in each round – and after all was said and done, with a trade here and a trade there, they turned their original seven picks into six selections.

They filled some needs with some athleticism, stuck to their board, but upon further review ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. tought their efforts were slightly above averageInsider.

While their first four picks each project to earn at least some playing time as rookies in the coming season, the immediate starters, because of the construction of the Broncos' current depth chart, could come from the middle rounds.

Tackle Michael Schofield, a witty young man who answered repeated questions about his inability to keep weight on his 6-foot-6 frame with “I make 300 [pounds] look good,’’ will get every opportunity to earn the starting job on the right side of the line.

It will be an interesting training camp since the Broncos have often leaned toward veterans in the offensive front with the current coaching staff. Orlando Franklin started at right tackle as a rookie in 2011, but has now been moved for a test drive at left guard in offseason workouts. But in the three previous drafts of the John Elway/John Fox regime the Broncos selected three offensive linemen, one in each of those draft classes. Of the three only Franklin played as a rookie and one – center Philip Blake – was cut last season.

But Schofield has the size and skill set to break through. He was a right tackle at Michigan but was athletic enough that he was told by the Wolverines’ coaching staff he would have been moved to left tackle had Taylor Lewan – a first-round pick in this year’s draft – not returned for his senior season in 2013.

And the other potential starter, at least if he can progress quickly, is fifth-round pick Lamin Barrow. Barrow, who can play the weakside spot as well as middle linebacker in the Broncos’ scheme, will at least get a look there during offseason work.

The Broncos like what Nate Irving has done already in this offseason, but the Broncos continue to want more speed and athleticism in the formation and Irving is seen as a two-down player. Lamin is seen as a potential three-down player in the Broncos' scheme, but he has a lot of ground to make up to make that happen.

Houston Texans draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
10:46
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NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

HOUSTON -- A wrap-up of the Houston Texans' draft. Click here for a full list of Texans draftees.

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe Texans selected who they consider the best athlete in this year's draft in Jadeveon Clowney.
Best move: The Texans' selection of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was a no-brainer. Contrary to pre-draft rumblings, they didn't give Clowney advance warning they would be selecting him first overall. He even got nervous as the minutes ticked down while the Texans were on the clock. They waited until three minutes remained in their time to call him and tell him the news. Clowney's ability, both physically and mentally, made him the right pick for the Texans. They'll make him an outside linebacker, which will be a transition, but will use him in a lot of different ways. They needed outside pass-rush help, and, regardless of need, Clowney was the best player they could have taken.

Riskiest move: The Texans didn't take many risks. They stuck to their board, almost stubbornly so, and stayed with players who fit the description of what they've sought. They didn't take any players with character risks. They did take two players whose injury histories might have impacted where they were drafted in Alfred Blue and Jeoffrey Pagan, so I suppose those constitute the biggest risks. Blue tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in 2012 after starting the season as LSU's starting running back ahead of Jeremy Hill, who was drafted in the second round. Pagan had shoulder surgery, which prevented him from being able to work out at the combine. His combine experience was more about the medical evaluation, but he feels he could have raised his stock by showing what he could do athletically.

Most surprising move: It was a bit of a surprise the Texans waited until the fourth round to take a quarterback. General manager Rick Smith acknowledged at the end of Friday's Rounds 1 and 2 that there was still another need they hadn't addressed. Three quarterbacks went in the first round -- Blake Bortles third to Jacksonville, Johnny Manziel 22nd to Cleveland and Teddy Bridgewater 32nd to Minnesota. Two more, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo, went in the second round, and none went in the third round. The Texans had Tom Savage graded in the fourth round and took him there.

File it away: The Texans got bigger on defense. At 6-foot-5, 266 pounds, Clowney is bigger than any outside linebacker currently on their roster. Louis Nix III, the Notre Dame nose tackle the Texans traded up to get, is 6-foot-2, 331 pounds, making him one of the heaviest players on defense. Pagan is 6-foot-3, 310 pounds. Safety Lonnie Ballentine, "Mr. Irrelevant," is the tallest safety the Texans have at 6-foot-3. The Texans staff will be molding some of these guys' bodies to what they're looking for, but they have a good starting point with most of them. Smith said after the draft the Texans got bigger and tougher. It was a goal of theirs, and it's something to monitor as the offseason melds into the season. How will that added size and toughness translate onto the field?
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Undrafted former Northern Illinois quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch has agreed to sign a rookie free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears, according to his agent Cliff Brady.

Lynch, a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School, started two years for the Huskies and led the school to a 24-4 overall record. He finished his college career with 6,209 passing yards, 51 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Lynch also rushed for 4,343 yards and 48 touchdowns.

He worked at multiple positions in front of scouts at the NFL combine.

The Bears decline to confirm stories about undrafted free agents until their contracts are officially signed.

Buffalo Bills draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
8:15
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A wrap-up of the Buffalo Bills' draft. Click here for a full list of Bills' draftees.

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
AP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtThe Buffalo Bills landed a potential star wide receiver in Sammy Watkins in the draft's first round.
Best move: The cost of the trade notwithstanding, the Bills moving up to acquire Sammy Watkins will far and away have the greatest impact. It's hardly news at this point, but Watkins is a difference-maker. He immediately becomes the Bills' top receiver and will draw the attention of opposing defensive coordinators each week. The Bills' passing game was dismal at points last season -- it ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category -- and having Watkins should change that. He will make EJ Manuel better. With that said, the Bills still have a potential bottleneck at quarterback. Despite having Larry Fitzgerald, one of the game's most explosive receivers, the Arizona Cardinals haven't been able to get over the hump because they haven't had the right quarterback. The Bills will look to avoid a similar fate.

Riskiest move: Giving up a first-round pick for Watkins was the greatest "risk" the Bills took in this draft. However, in terms of players, selecting Cyrus Kouandjio in the second round deserves some consideration. Kouandjio was red-flagged medically by some teams because, according to an NFL Network report, he had an arthritic condition in his knee. The Bills doctors apparently didn't share those same concerns. The Bills view Kouandjio as a potential long-term starter at right tackle, and if he can't stay healthy, then, naturally, those plans might not come to fruition. Is that reason enough not to draft him in the second round? Probably not. But from a medical standpoint, Kouandjio is a riskier pick than another top tackle who remained on the board at the time, Virginia's Morgan Moses.

Most surprising move: The Bills' first four picks were all pre-draft visitors and players already on the radar, so not too much was surprising about the team's draft. However, selecting Louisville linebacker Preston Brown with the ninth choice in the third round was curious. Ourlads, a reputable NFL scouting service that has produced a draft guide for 33 years, projected Brown as a sixth- or seventh-round choice. That doesn't mean NFL teams agreed with the ranking; perhaps some teams had him much higher on their board. He makes sense as a potential replacement at "Mike" linebacker if Brandon Spikes departs via free agency next season. Still, you have to wonder if the Bills could have waited until the fourth or fifth round to take him off the board. Brown doesn't have the athleticism that would make him a good fit in the Bills' sub packages, so his main contributions as a rookie might come on special teams.

File it away: With their final pick -- No. 237 in the seventh round -- the Bills took massive Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson. At 6-foot-7, 331 pounds, Henderson is one of the draft's biggest linemen and would have gone much higher in the draft had it not been for his questionable judgment. Henderson was suspended three times at Miami for marijuana use and, after explaining those incidents to teams at the NFL combine in February, tested positive for marijuana at the combine. Bills GM Doug Whaley said Henderson "knows he has one shot," so the team will apparently have a minimal tolerance level for Henderson. After drafting him in the seventh round, the Bills likely won't think twice about cutting ties with Henderson should he run into trouble again.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


INDIANAPOLIS -- A wrap-up of the Indianapolis Colts' draft. Click here for a full list of the Colts' draftees.

[+] EnlargeDonte Moncrief
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesThe Colts are banking on Donte Moncrief to evolve into a standout wide receiver for seasons to come.
Best move: The Colts started to prepare for life after receiver Reggie Wayne when they selected Donte Moncrief out of Mississippi in the third round. He's an all-around receiver who isn't afraid to throw a block if necessary. Moncrief left school early and is still a raw player, but he's not expected to come right in and contribute. It's all about the future with him. The Colts are set at the top three receiver spots with Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks. But Wayne and Nicks will be free agents in 2015. Wayne is closer to retirement than playing another five or six years. There are not many receivers better in the league whom Moncrief can learn from than Wayne.

Riskiest move: The Colts went into the draft with question marks at safety. They left the draft with the same question marks. The Colts are looking for a starter to play alongside LaRon Landry after Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco in March. It hurt the Colts that they did not have a first-round pick, because Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward was selected by the 49ers at the end of the opening round. Mel Kiper Jr. said Ward was the best cover safety in the draft. Now the Colts are left with Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson as in-house candidates to start at safety -- unless they sign a free agent at that position.

Most surprising move: Linebacker Andrew Jackson in the sixth round. Jackson played at Western Kentucky, where he didn't even make first-team All-Sun Belt Conference. Jackson made the second team after recording 95 tackles last season. The Colts had more pressing needs -- safety -- than adding another linebacker to the roster. The Seattle Seahawks selected free safety Eric Pinkins five picks after the Colts in the sixth round. Who knows if Pinkins will pan out, but the Colts could have selected him to see if he has what it takes to play safety in the league. Now the Colts could end up going with guys currently on their roster to compete for the starting job.

File it away: Selecting Moncrief means the race for one of the final receiver spots will be competitive between Griff Whalen, Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill. The Colts could end up releasing at least two of them depending on how many receivers they want to keep on the roster next season. The Colts selected Brazill in the sixth round in 2012. Whalen has bounced around on and off the practice squad. Rogers likely has the inside track on making the roster over Brazill and Whalen. The Colts have high hopes for him because of his speed and size at receiver. His biggest issue is avoiding trouble off the field.

Denver Broncos draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
7:50
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A wrap-up of the Denver Broncos' draft. Click here for a full list of Broncos draftees.

[+] EnlargeCody Latimer
AP Photo/Alan PetersimeThe Broncos made an aggressive trade for Indiana receiver Cody Latimer.
Best move: It cost three draft picks for the Broncos to move up seven slots to Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, and given the most commonly used draft charts, the Broncos surrendered too much value to do it, especially if the fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft is not at the bottom of the round. But if Latimer develops as you would expect a big, fast, physical wide receiver to develop in the Broncos offense, it won’t matter all that much. If Latimer rolls up his sleeves and gets to work, he should find a way into the team’s rotation as a rookie and develop into a starter.

Riskiest move: The Broncos saw a top-15 player in cornerback Bradley Roby on the board at No. 31 when they made their first-round pick, and they believed that presented the right risk-reward ratio with concerns about Roby’s maturity. The Broncos did their homework on Roby and believe he is ready to grow up and be a pro. So when all was said and done Saturday, the only hole that remained for the Broncos was improving the return game. The Broncos would rather not use wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the return game given the expectations for him in the offense but might have to make the risky move.

Most surprising move: The Broncos weren’t thrilled with this class of running backs, so it isn’t a shock they elected to pass on taking one. Though there were more big backs available than in years past, the Broncos did not use any of their picks on a back. Montee Ball is the clear starter, and the Broncos believe Ronnie Hillman can still offer some big-play ability in what is likely a make-or-break season for the 2012 second-rounder, but they are still a little thin at the position.

File it away: It might have been the move that got the least amount of attention, but it provided a big glimpse into how the Broncos go about the draft these days. John Elway has preached patience as things unfold, and when the Broncos traded out of the fourth round Saturday, it was, in large part, because they did not have a player still on the board with a grade worthy of that pick. It was a prudent move that got the team an extra pick in 2015 and kept it from reaching on a player. The good teams take the time to set the board right and stick to the board during the draft weekend. Don’t reach, don’t draft solely for need and things will go better. It was draft discipline that will serve them well if they maintain it moving forward.

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