The Daily Briefing Wednesday, April 11, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
Steve Gardiner of USA TODAY on the future of the NFL’s Color Rush uniforms in a FOX-dominated Thursday night landscape.
Love ’em or hate ’em, the NFL’s polarizing Color Rush uniforms aren’t going away.
The Thursday Night Football staple may not be seen every week next season, but teams will have them as an option under an amended uniform policy that will be considered at the next NFL owners meetings in May, a person with direct knowledge of the issue told USA TODAY Sports. The person chose to remain anonymous because league owners have not yet approved the new policy.
With Fox Sports taking over the Thursday night games in 2018, network executive Bill Wanger said on a radio interview on Tuesday the alternate uniforms wouldn’t be used. However, NFL owners will have the final say.
The league began using the monochromatic jerseys in 2015 as part of its sponsorship deal with Nike. For the past two seasons, the uniforms have been a constant on Thursday nights and have played to mixed reviews.
Some of the combinations proved too difficult for colorblind viewers to tell apart.
And last season, Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson complained the all-orange uniform made him look like a “pumpkin.”
So it seems the clock hasn’t yet struck midnight on the Color Rush jerseys. They just might not be showing up as often.
More from Mike Florio:
Via Jason Barrett of Barrett Sports Media, FOX Sports Executive Vice President of Programming, Research and Content Strategy Bill Wanger said Tuesday at the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas that Color Rush uniforms will no longer be used on Thursday nights. Wanger explained that hardcore fans don’t need gimmicks to watch.
Wanger also said that the game schedule for Thursday night will be stronger than it’s been in the past. That may be news to CBS and NBC, which could see their Sunday slates become less potent if the NFL pushes “better” games to Thursday nights.
Many have complained about and/or lampooned the Color Rush concept, which was subtly downplayed last year with the league quietly allowing teams like Washington (which had a garish yellow-on-yellow getup) to not go through with it.
This won’t stop teams from embracing the Color Rush concept on their own. Last week, the Titans unveiled an array of uniforms that includes the light-blue-on-light-blue Smurf look, specifically dubbed the team’s “Color Rush” uniforms.
So while Color Rush may be dead as a mandatory, across-the-board program, it possibly still exists as a voluntary, periodic, alternate uniform program. And if Thursday night is going to become even more special, maybe that’s when teams will choose on their own to wear them.
The Seahawks need reinforcements, but they are only scheduled to get one player in the first three rounds at the moement. Mel Kiper, Jr. from his three-round Mock Draft:
Round 1 (18): Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Just one pick for Seattle, which used its No. 2 pick to acquire Sheldon Richardson (whoops) and No. 3 pick in the deal for Duane Brown. I thought about offensive tackle here because the right side isn’t settled, but cornerback is just as big of a need. Richard Sherman is gone to the 49ers, and the Legion of Boom is in peril. Shaquill Griffin had a solid rookie season, but the other spot is up for grabs.
Alexander is undersized at 5-10, 196, but he could help outside or in the slot. I also think he could be the Seahawks’ primary punt returner.
Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com on GM Ozzie Newsome as he approaches his final draft as Ravens GM:
As Ozzie Newsome nears his final draft as Baltimore Ravens general manager, he knows he has to nail these picks to put the franchise back on the championship path before he steps down at the end of the season.
Newsome just won’t let his emotions enter the draft room, a defining part of his legacy as one of the best decision-makers in NFL history.
“It’s all about the preparation,” Newsome said, “and it’s all about who is that first player that we’re going to take with that first-round pick –- if we pick in the first round.”
This marks more than an end to an era. This is the finale for the most important person in franchise history. The Ravens have had two owners, three head coaches and countless star players. For 22 years of existence, the Ravens have only had one general manager and Newsome has been a masterful architect, relying on his calm demeanor, keen eye for talent, unwavering patience and desire for inclusiveness.
Newsome’s commitment makes him one of the easiest people to find in the Ravens facility. He’s either watching practice (because no one should know his players better than him), exercising on the treadmill (where he does his best thinking) or breaking down tape in his office (so he can do his own scouting of college players).
Anywhere he goes, he’s typically the most qualified football person in the room. He’s just a leader who doesn’t need to constantly prove he’s one. A Hall of Fame tight end as well as a former scout and assistant coach, Newsome often sits back in meetings to take in every opinion instead of trying to talk others into accepting his way of thinking.
Newsome, 62, is widely known as the best listener in the Ravens’ building. Some suggest he’s the best listener you’ll ever know. Former Ravens coach Brian Billick compared Newsome to John Nash, the Nobel laureate in economics who was the subject of “A Beautiful Mind.” He absorbs the information and weighs it against his life experience to formulate a decision.
Newsome’s success has become the standard for decision-makers around the NFL. He is the only general manager to win a Super Bowl, totally rebuild the roster and hoist up another Lombardi Trophy more than a decade later.
His drafts have produced 18 Pro Bowl players, including the selection of first-ballot Hall of Fame ones — offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis — with his first two picks. The 22 players he’s chosen in the first round — from Ogden to Ray Lewis to Jamal Lewis to Ed Reed to Terrell Suggs to Haloti Ngata to Joe Flacco — have earned 60 combined Pro Bowl invitations and have been named Super Bowl MVP, NFL defensive player of the year, NFL offensive player of the year and NFL defensive rookie of the year.
“I would make the argument that if he wasn’t in the Hall of Fame as a player, he would be in as a general manager,” said Bill Polian, an ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame inductee. “That’s maybe the rarest of occurrences.”
The unwritten rule with Newsome is you’ll always be heard. You just might not get your way, and that includes those who have the ultimate authority. Newsome has twice decided not to select the preferred pick of a Ravens owner, and in each case he chose players who became among the best to ever suit up at their position.
Newsome’s front-office career was shaped by his first selection. In the 1996 draft, he insisted on taking Ogden with the No. 4 overall pick even though owner Art Modell wanted running back Lawrence Phillips. Newsome convinced Modell by telling him that Ogden had a decent shot at going to the Hall of Fame. “What a Babe Ruth call that was,” Modell said afterward.
Six years later, Newsome faced a similar situation with the No. 24 pick, where owner Steve Bisciotti wanted to select Lito Sheppard over Ed Reed because cornerback is a more important position than safety. Why did Newsome end up taking Reed? “Because I am true to my board,” he said. Sheppard went to two Pro Bowls in his 10-year career, and Reed is expected to be voted into the Hall of Fame next year.
“Ozzie’s great success in player personnel is a tribute to his commitment, hard work and knowledge of the game,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who put Newsome on his staff following his retirement from playing. “It is a credit to Ozzie’s character that having played the game at an elite level was a help to his development as a scout and not a hindrance. To have a Hall of Fame playing career and then go on to such sustained success as a general manager has to put Ozzie on a very short and distinguished list in 100 years of the NFL.”
– – –
Kevin Byrne, the Ravens vice president of public relations who has known Newsome for nearly four decades, has never heard Newsome brag about any of his accomplishments beyond one instance six years ago.
On the day that Modell died, Newsome was invited to visit. Modell was in and out of consciousness, and Newsome wanted to make sure he knew he was there.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Newsome held Modell’s left hand with both of his. “Art, this is Ozzie. I just wanted you to know what good hands feel like,” Newsome said.
Byrne remembers seeing a smile appear on Modell’s face.
– – –
One of Newsome’s best decisions ranks among his most difficult. In the 1999 draft, the Atlanta Falcons offered their first-round pick in 2000 for Baltimore’s second-rounder in 1999.
The Ravens’ scouts didn’t want this trade because the team had already used three picks in the 1999 draft to acquire players. The coaches didn’t endorse the move, either, because they wanted players who could help them that season.
Newsome made the deal anyway, and Billick and director of college scouting Phil Savage walked out in disgust. It was the only time Newsome went to a news conference alone.
How did it work out? The Ravens used the Falcons’ pick (which turned out to be the No. 5 overall in 2000) on running back Jamal Lewis, who carried Baltimore’s offense in the franchise’s first Super Bowl run.
– – –
Newsome’s time as general manager is ending at a period when his selections rank among his most disappointing.
In his first 13 drafts, he chose 16 players who would become Pro Bowl players for the Ravens. In his past nine, only two draft picks (linebacker C.J. Mosley and fullback Kyle Juszczyk) have become Pro Bowl players for Baltimore.
The regrettable choices include first-round busts Matt Elam, a safety who is out of the league after missing too many tackles, and wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who was benched after dropping too many passes. These misses have resulted in a three-year playoff drought in which Baltimore has gone 22-26 (.458).
“When we were having success, we were getting all the credit,” Newsome said. “When we’re not having success, we take all the blame. It falls right on me.”
Under Newsome, the Ravens went from a fledgling relocated team to a Super Bowl champion in four years. Newsome helped construct one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history.
After a massive salary-cap purge, Newsome once again put together a championship team. This time, Baltimore captured the Lombardi Trophy on the strength of Flacco and one of the best postseason runs by a quarterback.
Those who have worked with Newsome believe it’s important for him to build the Ravens into a playoff team in his final season as general manager. The only time the Ravens failed to reach the postseason in four straight seasons came immediately after the Ravens had relocated from Cleveland.
“We have to do a better job of bringing in players,” Newsome said. “Whether that’s through the draft, through free agency or through trade, we have to do better, and that will help them to do better. Hopefully when we’re sitting here in game 16, hopefully we’re already in the playoffs and not trying to play to get in the playoffs.”
Does the recent stretch of frustrating drafts tarnish Newsome’s impressive track record?
“You look at the big picture, he’s one of the most successful general managers of all time,” Polian said. “Keeping that team competitive over a long, long period of time — that’s the hardest thing for a general manager, and he’s done it.”
– – –
Newsome is stepping down as general manager. He isn’t stepping away from the team.
When assistant general manager Eric DeCosta takes over, Newsome will stay in a yet-to-be-named position.
“Ozzie isn’t going anywhere,” team president Dick Cass said. “He’s going to have an important role with the team. Eric will have the decision-making authority, but he will lean on Ozzie for advice.”
This transition is the culmination of a plan that dates back five years ago when Bisciotti wanted a definitive timetable for DeCosta. Bisciotti felt the time was right after DeCosta declined to interview for general manager positions elsewhere and remained a loyal second-in-command.
Newsome insists his focus is on the upcoming draft and not his job description in 2019.
“What’s going to occur a year from now is not in my thought process,” Newsome said. “It’s just making this the best draft we can this year.”
Just like Newsome welcomed opinions from DeCosta and others throughout the years, DeCosta wants to be as inclusive with Newsome going forward.
“I would love to have Ozzie here as much as he wants to be here next year in whatever capacity he wants to be in,” DeCosta said. “There’s value, there’s wisdom. He’s a great evaluator, he’s a wonderful leader, he’s a great person. All those qualities make him, in my mind, a legend.”
Mike Florio says S ERIC REID’s status as an anthem protestor has come up in his discussions about a new contract with the Bengals:
Over the years, the Bengals have looked the other way on a variety of actual and alleged criminal activities when signing, drafting, and/or keeping players. When it comes to one specific type of conduct that is neither illegal nor a violation of any applicable rule or provision of the relationship between the NFL and its players, that could be where Bengals owner Mike Brown draws the line.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Brown personally met with Reid when Reid visited the Bengals on Monday. Brown, according to the source, initiated discussion regarding the issue of kneeling during the anthem. The conversation almost exclusively centered on the topic, with Brown explaining that he intends to prohibit it — and with Brown at one point asking Reid for his response.
Reid, caught off guard by the line of questioning, wasn’t willing to make a commitment on the spot. Last month, Reid said he’s currently not planning to kneel or otherwise demonstrate during the anthem. But Reid, who is considering other options for bringing attention to societal issues he considers to be important, hasn’t made any final decisions, and he wasn’t willing to do so at the direct request and behest of Brown.
After the meeting with Brown, Reid took a physical and spent time reviewing film with members of the coaching staff. He developed a clear sense that the coaches (specifically, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin) were interested in signing Reid and weren’t concerned about whether he’d kneel or otherwise demonstrate during the anthem or at any other time. Late in the visit, however, coach Marvin Lewis asked Reid if he wants to clarify anything that Reid told ownership regarding the anthem. Reid said that he had no clarifications or changes to make to what he had said, and the visit ended not long after that without an offer being made to Reid.
Reached for comment by PFT regarding the alleged interactions between Brown and Reid, the Bengals provided the following statement: “The Club conducts many interviews with players throughout the year. The Club views these interviews as confidential and does not comment on them.”
This is the draft haul that Mel Kiper, Jr. sees for the Browns in his three-round Mock:
Round 1 (1): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Round 1 (4): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Round 2 (33): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Round 2 (35): Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
Round 2 (64): Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
This is my top-ranked quarterback, running back and 3-technique defensive tackle with the Browns’ first three picks. General manager John Dorsey is in a great spot with two picks in the top five, and it would be tough to pass on NC State’s Bradley Chubb at No. 4. Could you imagine him getting after quarterbacks on the other side of Myles Garrett? I went with Barkley, though, who will help make better the quarterback that Cleveland takes at No. 1.
Christian would be in the mix to replace longtime left tackle Joe Thomas, and Hubbard is one of the top true 4-3 defensive ends in this class. This class is going to hinge on the quarterback. The Browns have added some weapons in the offseason, and Allen wouldn’t have to start right away with Tyrod Taylor on the roster.
The Bills have lots of picks, and this is what they might get per Mel Kiper, Jr’s three-round Mock Draft:
Round 1 (12): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Round 1 (22): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Round 2 (53): Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Round 2 (56): Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State
Round 3 (65): Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Round 3 (96): Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
So let’s assume Buffalo keeps all of these six of these, which I don’t think is likely. (Remember: No trades in the “Grade: A” mock!) The Bills have the picks to move up for a quarterback if they want, but they also have the picks to plug holes on a flawed roster.
In this scenario, the Bills get two of the draft’s best athletes with their first two picks. Edmunds and Jackson are both raw, but they have the upside to be Pro Bowl players. And with AJ McCarron on the roster, Jackson wouldn’t have to start in Week 1. Miller and Price could step in and play immediately. Buffalo added Vontae Davis on a one-year deal but needs another corner opposite Tre’Davious White. Fountain is an under-the-radar big-play threat who had 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2017.
– – –
G RICHIE INCOGNITO says he is retiring. Vic Carrucci of the Buffalo News:
Buffalo Bills offensive guard Richie Incognito told The Buffalo News on Tuesday that he’s retiring from the NFL and said health issues were the primary reason.
He said he informed the Bills of his decision – which he said came “in the last couple days” – Tuesday morning and has spoken to team owner Terry Pegula, General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott.
“I’m done, I’m done, that’s it,” Incognito, 34, said by phone from his offseason home in Arizona. “It’s been a long career. My liver and kidneys are shutting down. Nothing I can’t restore with some balance, but the stress is killing me.
“I went to a doctor’s appointment the other day and they said, ‘Listen, the stress is killing you, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Listen, I’m just doing what I love and that’s playing football.’ So that’s why I’m done.”
Asked if there was any chance he’d change his mind and return for a 12th NFL season, Incognito said, “Absolutely not.”
He said he thinks the Bills’ hierarchy with whom he spoke thought he was “trying to negotiate with them,” but insisted that wasn’t the case. “That’s it, man,” Incognito said. “I’m just done.” Incognito said he planned to contact the NFL Players Association to “formalize” his retirement.
In a separate phone conversation with The News, Incognito addressed his health further by saying: “I don’t have major health problems, but I went and saw some specialists down here and they’re like, ‘Listen, from your diet — your high-carbohydrate, high-protein diet — your kidney’s not functioning very well, your liver’s not functioning very well. The medical people (said), ‘We can fix all this. This is all within order, but if you keep going, you’re just going to keep stressing your system out.’ PR and agents and everybody, they all want me to do one thing, and I just wanted to do was best for me and that was to retire.”
Incognito added, “I’m very strict on my diet and I’ve come to understand that it was throwing off some things in my stomach. My stomach was just constantly upset through these last two years — constipation, basic, little (stuff), right? It’s nothing major. And when I got here to Arizona, they were scanning things and the doctors were going through things and (they said), ‘Yeah, your kidney’s pretty stressed out, your liver’s pretty stressed out.’ And it’s not debilitating, but it’s something where I had to change my diet and hire a chef and start asking myself, ‘Hey, do I really want to go back and tax the whole system again.”
Earlier, Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that Incognito told him that he might return for one last season at the right price and has until Sunday to change his mind about retiring. King reported Incognito and the Bills are talking about his contract.
Incognito stressed to The News that walking away from the game was not about money. “This is all about me. This is all about the decision that was best for me.”
The Bills have not responded to requests for a comment.
A month ago, Incognito accepted a pay cut from the Bills. It trimmed his salary by a reported $1.75 million to $4.7 million, which included a base salary of $3.65 million, roster bonus and $100,000 workout bonus.
“It pisses me the (bleep) off,” Incognito said of the pay cut. “The contract and all that pissed me the (bleep) off and all that, but (the decision to retire) has nothing to do with that. You know what it is. It’s just about doing what’s right. And that’s it.
“I just want to be in the Hall of Fame. I think I’m there.”
At the time of the pay cut, which the Bills announced minus the financial details, Incognito tweeted: “BUFFALO! I’m thrilled to be returning this season and fired up to get back to work with my #BuffaloBills brothers. I truly believe in the vision and the path we are on. We have all that we need to finish what we started #honored #letsdothis”
He said he still felt that way. However, he said, “It’s just I was very unhappy with the pay cut. There’s more to that story, there’s many layers, but I don’t want to get into that right now. I just want to go out with the proper tone and say, ‘Listen, enough’s enough. I’m done with football, I am retiring. My body is telling me it’s time.’ Nothing major is happening (physically). I can probably still play three more years, but enough’s enough.”
Earlier Tuesday, Incognito tweeted to the NFL Players Association and the NFLPA’s assistant executive director George Atallah, “I’m done.”
His retirement, along with that of center Eric Wood as the result of a neck injury, suddenly takes away considerable experience from the Bills’ offensive line. Wood played every offensive snap last season and Incognito played 99 percent of the snaps.
Mel Kiper, Jr. thinks the Patriots will wait until the third round to take a QB:
New England Patriots
Round 1 (23): Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Round 1 (31): Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Round 2 (43): Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt
Round 2 (63): Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Round 3 (95): Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
No way Bill Belichick keeps all these, right? Just check out his history with two first-round picks. If I’m in his shoes (and I can’t trade up or out), I’m grabbing the versatile Vander Esch at No. 23 and finding out his best fit later. I like him as an inside linebacker in a 3-4, but he could also play on the edge.
Hughes fills a need as the Patriots lost Malcolm Butler in free agency. Same with O’Neill, who is raw, but could compete for the left tackle spot vacated by Nate Solder. Ballage is a big, athletic back who had 64 catches over the past two seasons, so he fits what New England likes.
But you want to know about Lauletta, right? He’s my seventh-ranked signal-caller and the Spiders’ all-time leader in passing yards (10,465), passing TDs (73) and total offense (10, 651). He’s a project, for sure, but New England has Tom Brady for now and needs a young passer to groom.
NEW YORK JETS
This is what Mel Kiper, Jr. thinks, in his three-round Mock, the Jets could get in two weeks:
Round 1 (6): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Round 2 (36): Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
Round 2 (37): Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Round 2 (49): Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Round 3 (67): Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
I really like this Colts class. They added the Jets’ two second-round picks, and they have to get starters there. Their roster is depleted from several poor drafts, but GM Chris Ballard has a chance to get back in shape.
You should know all about Chubb at this point — he’s the best pass-rusher in this class. Jones is a big-play threat with questions about his receiving skills. He has the athletic profile of Alvin Kamara. Williams could be a right tackle or guard for the Colts. Phillips is one of the strongest prospects in this class (he bench-pressed 225 pounds 42 times at the combine) and could play nose tackle. Okoronkwo is likely a situational pass-rusher as he doesn’t have ideal size (6-2, 253), but he has a relentless motor.
THIS AND THAT
Now, it is Colin Kaepernick’s turn to answer questions. Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com catches us up to date on the grievance battle to date:
After weeks of sitting for depositions in the Colin Kaepernick collusion complaint, the NFL’s powerbrokers will finally get some of their own questions answered as the league’s lawyers are set to depose the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback on Tuesday in New York.
It’s the first witness the NFL has deposed in Kaepernick’s complaint, marking a significant moment in the proceedings. It’s unknown what information the league will be seeking, although a league source familiar with the complaint said the NFL is likely to concentrate on Kaepernick’s mental outlook once he entered free agency in March of 2017, and whether he corrupted his free-agent market through a series of factors relating to football skills, contract expectations and motivation to play.
Among the inquiries that are believed to be on the agenda for NFL lawyers in some form or fashion:
• Whether Kaepernick expected to be signed as a starter once he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
• What salary demands he or his representation had in mind early in free agency.
• Whether Kaepernick’s capacity to play diminished due to past injuries.
• How Kaepernick related to coaches or teammates while playing for the 49ers.
• Whether Kaepernick expressed a willingness to continue his professional football career anywhere outside of the NFL.
• Perhaps most pressing (and obvious), whether Kaepernick has ever discovered or been presented with tangible proof that NFL teams or executives sought to eliminate him from playing in the league again.
The deposition is expected to last several hours, and could dive into instances where Kaepernick appeared to make negative proclamations about law enforcement on social media or during practices, such as his wearing of the now infamous pigs in police hats socks during training camp in 2016. Essentially, the league’s lawyers are expected to walk Kaepernick down a path suggesting how he (and not NFL employees or owners) tangibly tainted his value across the league as a quarterback and/or teammate.
While his appearance before the league’s lawyers is a significant marker in the collusion case, a source familiar with the proceedings said it doesn’t signal that an end is near. Indeed, a multitude of league executives, owners and team personnel remain on a deposition list that could stretch far into the summer or beyond, making it conceivable that the collusion complaint could drag into 2019.
MEL KIPER’s MOCK
This is how Mel Kiper, Jr. would make the first 100 picks of the draft, if he were the GM. It’s not what he thinks the 32 teams are going to do (Kiper loves JOSH ALLEN for example). He also has comments on each of the teams, some of which we included above by the respective club:
PICK TEAM PLAYER POS SCHOOL
1 Cleveland Josh Allen QB Wyoming
2 NY Giants Sam Darnold QB USC
3 NY Jets (from IND) Josh Rosen QB UCLA
4 Cleveland (from HOU) Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
5 Denver Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
6 Indianapolis (from NYJ) Bradley Chubb DE NC State
7 Tampa Bay Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama
8 Chicago Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
9 San Francisco Roquan Smith LB Georgia
10 Oakland Denzel Ward CB Ohio St.
11 Miami Derwin James S Florida St.
12 Buffalo (from CIN) Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
13 Washington Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama
14 Green Bay Marcus Davenport DE Texas San Antonio
15 Arizona Kolton Miller OT UCLA
16 Baltimore Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
17 LA Chargers Vita Vea DT Washington
18 Seattle Jaire Alexander CB Louisville
19 Dallas Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
20 Detroit Taven Bryan DT Florida
21 Cincinnati (from BUF) Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame
22 Buffalo (from KC) Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
23 New Eng (from LAR) Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise St.
24 Carolina Justin Reid S Stanford
25 Tennessee Dallas Goedert TE South Dakota State
26 Atlanta D.JMoore WR Maryland
27 New Orleans Hayden Hurst TE South Carolina
28 Pittsburgh Harold Landry OLB Boston College
29 Jacksonville Mason Rudolph QB Oklahoma State
30 Minnesota Josh Jackson CB Iowa
31 New England Mike Hughes CB Central Florida
32 Philadelphia Derrius Guice RB LSU
33 Cleveland Maurice Hurst DT Michigan
34 NY Giants Isaiah Wynn OG Georgia
35 Cleveland (from HOU) Geron Christian OT Louisville
36 Indianapolis Ronald Jones II RB USC
37 Indianapolis (from NYJ) Connor Williams OT Texas
38 Tampa Bay Will Hernandez OG UTEP
39 Chicago Lorenzo Carter OLB Georgia
40 Denver Donte Jackson CB LSU
41 Oakland Christian Kirk WR Texas A&M
42 Miami James Washington WR Oklahoma State
43 New England (from SF) Brian O’Neill OT Pitt
44 Washington Sony Michel RB Georgia
45 Green Bay D.J. Chark WR LSU
46 Cincinnati B.J. Hill DT NC State
47 Arizona Courtland Sutton WR SMU
48 LA Chargers Jessie Bates S Wake Forest
49 Ind (from NYJ via SEA) Harrison Phillips DT Stanford
50 Dallas Mike Gesicki TE Penn State
51 Pittsburgh Nick Chubb RB Georgia
52 Baltimore Mark Andrews TE Oklahoma
53 Buffalo Anthony Miller WR Memphis
54 Kansas City Ronnie Harrison S Alabama
55 Carolina Tyquan Lewis DE Ohio State
56 Buffalo (from LAR) Billy Price C/G Ohio State
57 Tennessee Austin Corbett C/G Nevada
58 Atlanta Rasheem Green DL USC
59 SF (from NO) Isaiah Oliver CB Colorado
60 NY Giants Rashaad Penny RB San Diego State
61 Jacksonville Uchenna Nwosu DE/OLB USC
62 Minnesota Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma
63 New England Kyle Lauletta QB Richmond
64 Cleveland (from PHI) Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State
65 Buffalo (from CLE) Carlton Davis CB Auburn
66 San Francisco Nyheim Hines RB NC State
67 Indianapolis Ogbonnia Okoronkwo OLB Oklahoma
68 Houston Anthony Averett CB Alabama
69 NY Giants (from TB) Da’Shawn Hand DL Alabama
70 San Francisco (from CHI) Dante Pettis WR Washington
71 Denver Braden Smith OG Auburn
72 NY Jets R.J. McIntosh DT Miami (Fla)
73 Miami Jerome Baker OLB Ohio State
74 New England Kerryon Johnson RB Auburn
75 Oakland Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt
76 Green Bay Duke Dawson CB Florida
77 Cincinnati DaeSean Hamilton WR Penn State
78 Kansas City (from WAS) Martinas Rankin OT Mississippi State
79 Arizona Luke Falk QB Washington State
80 Houston (from SEA) Desmond Harrison OT West Georgia
81 Dallas Nathan Shepherd DT Fort Hays State
82 Detroit Breeland Speaks DL Mississippi
83 Baltimore Frank Ragnow C Arkansas
84 LA Chargers Brandon Parker OT North Carolina A&T
85 Carolina (from BUF) Jordan Lasley WR UCLA
86 Kansas City Tim Settle DT Virginia Tech
87 LA Rams Andrew Brown DL Virginia
88 Carolina Jaylen Samuels HB NC State
89 Tennessee Michael Gallup WR Colorado State
90 Atlanta Jordan Akins TE Central Florida
91 New Orleans Mike White QB Western Kentucky
92 Pittsburgh Christian Campbell CB Penn State
93 Jacksonville Tre’Quan Smith WR Central Florida
94 Minnesota Colby Gossett OG Appalachian State
95 New England Kalen Ballage RB Arizona State
96 Buffalo (from PHI) Daurice Fountain WR No. Iowa
97 Arizona* Shaquem Griffin OLB Central Florida
98 Houston* P.J. Hall DL Sam Houston State
99 Denver* Dorian O’Daniel OLB Clemson
100 Cincinnati* Genard Avery ILB Memphis
Whether his sentiment will go over well with the media or not, UCLA QB JOSH ROSEN is not shy about his perception of his ability. He does a long Q&A with Sam Alipour of ESPN.com. The full thing is , excerpts below
“That’s just not me,” Josh Rosen says of the designer labels on offer for his recent photo shoot for this story. Nah, the ex-UCLA signal-caller and projected first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft is perfectly fine, thank you very much, with his standard wardrobe of tee, jeans and maltreated Chucks. “I’m just a regular dude,” Rosen says several times at an LA studio, seemingly forgetting (or remembering all too well?) that roughly half of draft-loving America feels he’s a future franchise QB, while the other half fears he’s a crap-stirring, system-disrupting locker room poison pill.
After the shoot wraps, Rosen and I commandeer the studio’s kitchen table and begin a conversation that will veer wildly from his tangents du jour — interplanetary colonization, climate change, the existence of God — to the only slightly more pressing matter of his volatile draft stock. He’s always spoken his mind, and on the brink of the biggest day of his career, he’s not changing now.
The Mag: Soon you’ll be an NFL quarterback. How does that sound?
JOSH ROSEN: It’s a dream. Always has been. It’s a loaded term: NFL quarterback. Face of the franchise. What does it mean?
Ready for that responsibility?
I’m excited for it. I don’t think I’m ready for it, but I’m as ready as I can be. A lot of it is trial by fire. And what happened to me in college, which people may call “knocks,” has prepared me for the NFL fire.
As a passer, you’ve been compared to Aaron Rodgers. You were once pegged as the first or second pick. For those off-field knocks, some now see you as a mid-first-rounder and the next Jay Cutler. You hear that one?
Yeah, it’s as frustrating as Baker Mayfield hearing the Johnny Manziel comparisons. I just don’t think it’s true. But it’s up to me to prove them wrong. If it persists, it’s my fault for not silencing it.
Seemingly every year, one draftee helps shine a light on the volatility of the draft evaluation process — specifically, the analysis of the unquantifiable. Rodgers was that guy when he fell to 24th. You might be that guy this year. What’s it like being inside that wormhole?
It’s been hectic. I think if teams went back to that draft, they’d rethink some of their critiques of Rodgers. If he’s the best pure passer in the draft, the best QB, with no legitimate off-field issues, that should be your answer — that’s your QB. I think a lot of people try to add fluff on the edge to, I don’t know, justify their jobs? I can’t say that, but people make it more complicated than it needs to be.
Who’s the best QB in this draft?
I’m the best QB in the draft. A lot of guys are flashier, but I think I’m the most efficient, monotonously consistent QB in this draft. Rodgers has some flair, but if you watch Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, there’s nothing that’s explosive or Johnny Manziel — like. It’s just quarterbacking.
But as you said, it’s so much more.
I have no issues with a team doing due diligence and forming opinions. But this is my opportunity to answer these questions on a national stage and set the record right with teams so there’s no more third-party misinformation. Up to that point, it’s just noise.
What culpability do you have in creating that noise?
[Pauses] Starting off, I was pretty arrogant. They handed an 18-year-old the keys to a D1 FBS-contending university. I blew up a little bit, said some things I didn’t mean, and that follows you. You get one chance to make a first impression. I made the wrong one.
Let’s dig into your perceived character flaws: You’re a cocky, jerkish, overly opinionated rich kid who’s too smart and has too many outside interests for his own good. Did I get it all?
Yeah, but let’s go one by one. What was the first one?
You’re a rich kid who — extrapolating here — doesn’t need, or love, the game of football.
OK, my family isn’t, like, stupid-wealthy. But I’m coming from a place where if football doesn’t work out, I don’t have to work at McDonald’s. Other NFL players had the same opportunities. I just haven’t tried to hide it or fool teams into thinking I’m someone I’m not. My passion for this game lies in the game, not my need to play it. Tons of players needed this game, needed the money, played it out of obligation and burned out. I don’t need it and still I give everything to it.
Your parents are Ivy League — educated. Your dad, Charles, an orthopedic surgeon, was on Obama’s short list to be surgeon general. Your mom, Liz, is the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Wharton of Penn’s Wharton business school.
I’ll put it this way: These connections were discovered because I shared them. That’s my naïveté in thinking, “I’m going to tell people who I am because that’s who I am.” At 18, I wasn’t aware it was something to hide.
Is it something to hide?
I think so, because I’m catching flak for it. I could’ve avoided it if I’d just shut my mouth. But that’s not the person I want to be.
What are your football goals?
I want to be great — in everything I do. As far as football, I always looked up to Kellen Moore of Boise State. I thought it was the coolest thing that he was the winningest QB of all time. I thought that was a cool word: winningest. So I want to be the winningest QB in NFL history. I want to win the most games and most championships. I’d say six titles, but if Tom Brady gets six, I’ll say seven.
That’s a perfect transition to: You’re cocky. Egotistical.
You have to be. But you have to know where it plays and where it doesn’t. If you’re talking to reporters, pull your foot off the pedal. In a game, if the window’s closing on your receiver, sometimes you need to dial it up and say f— that, I’m going to get the ball in there. I’m supremely confident in my abilities as a quarterback.
A related knock, and it’s a biggie: You’re a jerk. How does it feel to know that when you Google “Jerk Josh Rosen,” you get thousands of results?
It’s a blessing in disguise. If you get ID’d as a jerk, you try really hard not to be one. Maybe a little bit of me was a jerk in the past. I’m trying to wipe it away.
What’s the most jerkish thing you’ve done?
[Pauses] The social media post about Under Armour was pretty sh—y, and the hot tub.
What was the mistake with the tub? Having an inflatable tub in your room, hosting a woman in the tub or allowing a photo to hit Instagram?
Hosting a woman in the tub. Again, it’s about tailoring the message — I don’t want to get political, but the thing I regret the most about the Trump thing is using the F-word. I’m a role model for kids. I regret the F-word.
Now the hot tub: I accidentally shipped it to my mom’s house. My mom thought it was hilarious and drove it up for me. I thought it was hilarious because she did. But I shouldn’t have had a woman in there. I enjoy making people laugh, but what I find funny and put online, others might misconstrue and find jerkish. I need to refine my message but not lose who I am.
Next one: You have an issue with teammates.
Just ask my teammates. They love … I don’t even want to say that. It’d be jerkish to say “I’m f—ing sick and my teammates would reaffirm me because I’m dope!” Talk to my teammates. I’m confident they recognize how much I care for them.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m not rah-rah. I want to develop individual relationships to understand how certain people react. Does he respond to a kick in the butt, or does he need encouragement because he’s self-critical? I take the time and effort to get the best out of every individual, not out of fear but out of love.
Former UCLA coach Jim Mora swears by you, but in SI, he called you “a challenge — but he’s a fun challenge, a great challenge and an interesting challenge.” What do you think he meant by that?
I think if you can take radioactive material and concentrate it, you can get something real special out of it.
You’re that material?
Yeah. People go, “He’s radioactive!” But that’s pretty powerful if you know how to point it in the right direction.
We’re almost done with your flaws.
You’re enjoying this?
You’re too smart.
There are NFL guys who are mathematicians. I’m not that smart. I don’t have the raw IQ that others do. I’m just curious. I like reading and learning, and because I value authenticity, I’ll talk about it.
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Your high school coach said you’re also curious about religion, and while you’re Jewish, you attended Mass every Sunday.
That’s right. I went to a Catholic school, and it was cool to learn. You have to have an open mind. It’d be naive to think you’re just born into the right religion that will get you into heaven. My opinion will evolve and grow. Where do you sit on it?
I’m Muslim by heritage, and I used to attend Mass too, but it was partly to impress a Catholic girlfriend. Now I’m agnostic.
[Laughs] Same. But agnostic and atheist are loaded words — people get scared, like, “Whoa!” Look, I don’t know, and I don’t think it’s possible to know. Don’t tell me how to live my life, but I’d love to hear about how you live yours.
What else are you curious about presently?
Film. I’m a big documentary guy. I just saw Icarus. That was pretty good. And I love every Christopher Nolan movie. Especially Interstellar. I’m a big Neil deGrasse Tyson fan. I’ve read all his books — now I’m on Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. I watched the whole Cosmos series. And I’m a huge fan of Elon Musk. I think he’s getting ready to nuke the poles, spark some global warming over there —
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As a pro, will you continue to speak up, or will you shut up and throw?
Both. I think I need to shut up and throw when I get there. I do want to get involved in my community immediately. But the main thing is the main thing. J.J. Watt is a guy I admire, the way he balances the two. Athletes have a platform. It’d be selfish to shut up and throw, get paid, go to the Bahamas. It’s selfless to be J.J. Watt.
To which causes will you lend your voice as a pro?
I think it’ll evolve, but one cause I’ll champion is the environment. It touches everything. I mean, the war in Syria started because of the drought and famine that destabilized the country and led the population to revolt against the government. I know global warming is a partisan issue for some stupid reason, but it touches everything.
Keep in mind, the NFL isn’t the NBA, where marquee names regularly critique the occupant of the White House, for example. Clearly, you lean liberal. Are you going to stay out of politics as a pro?
My dad voted for Donald Trump and contributed to his campaign. [Laughs] My mom is a strong feminist liberal. That’s how I’m learning compromise. I’m not going to be political; I’m just going to do what I believe is right, and if that happens to fall on the political spectrum, so be it. But there’s a time and a place for it. You might not want to speak against the president in the playoffs or before you have a starting job on a team and actually have a voice.
Will you continue to advocate on behalf of student-athletes as a pro?
Yeah. I don’t know how, but it’s something I’ll continue to fight for. I just hope people understand it comes from a good place. I’m not trying to mess up a system; I just care for other people.
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Well, you’ll need a functioning brain for that. Are you worried about damaging it playing this game?
Absolutely. I haven’t run into any issues, but I’m acutely aware of them. It’s scary, but we all accept that, playing this game. Football is football. I don’t know enough to make a judgment on it. I’m not going to say anything about CTE and concussions until I know all the facts.
Since we’re getting all deep and everything, what do you want out of life, Josh?
I want to be happy, but happiness is a weird thing. You can’t be happy all the time. You have to fluctuate. I want to find purpose. One of the reasons I left school early is I felt like I was chasing a bunch of different things: trying to get A’s in class, being good on the field, networking professionally. Right now, I want to be the best QB that I possibly f—ing can be. When the NFL decides I suck, I want to be the absolute best at the next thing in my life.