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  • Rams waive OG Jackson after failed physical
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, April 23, 2017

    The Los Angeles Rams waived offensive guard Tre' Jackson after he failed a physical.

    • Jackson, 24, was claimed off waivers last week after being let go by the New England Patriots.

      The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Jackson missed the entire 2016 season because of a knee injury. He started nine of 13 games played for the Patriots as a rookie after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of Florida State.

  • NFL notebook: Chiefs release DL Howard
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    The Kansas City Chiefs released defensive lineman Jaye Howard, according to multiple reports Saturday.

    • Howard, 28, spent the last four seasons with the Chiefs and was scheduled to make $3.7 million in base salary in 2017, including $2.5 million in guarantees.

      The Chiefs released Howard now in part because they want him to sign with another team in order to get some offset money and recover part of the $2.5 million guaranteed salary, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      The 6-foot-3, 301-pound Howard appeared in eight games (four starts) with the Chiefs in 2016, making 23 tackles and one sack. He suffered a hip injury in November and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 1 .

      --Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett may be the favorite for the Cleveland Browns as the No. 1 overall draft pick, but North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky is reportedly still under serious consideration.

      Sources told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that the Browns are strongly considering taking Trubisky with the top pick.

      The Browns appear to have "split opinions" on Garrett vs. Trubisky at No. 1 overall.

      Browns vice president of football operations Sashi Brown gave hints during his pre-draft press conference Wednesday that Cleveland has zeroed in on Garrett.

      But the feeling of the front office is that the Browns are ready to draft their quarterback of the future and might not want to risk losing him if they try to trade up or hope he falls to them with their second first-round pick at No. 12, sources told Cleveland.com.

      --Quarterback Brock Osweiler's future remains in limbo but the Browns said he may be with the team for the start of training camp although Cleveland is expected to continue pursuing a trade during the draft.

      "Yeah, we expect Brock to be here," Brown said when asked whether Osweiler would be on the team in training camp. "He is in (for the offseason program) and has done a good job coming in the first couple days. He is a positive young man who has some ability and talent. We look forward to him trying to establish himself here and have a chance to compete to be the starting quarterback."

      Osweiler was acquired in March in a deal that allowed the Houston Texans to send his $16 million guaranteed salary to Cleveland and permitted the Browns to add a second-round draft pick in 2018.

      --Unlike last spring when ownership saddled the personnel department with weighty expectations of adding a quarterback -- the failed Osweiler experiment -- Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith said the team is feeling no urgency to draft a quarterback in 2017.

      The Texans right now have Tom Savage as their starting quarterback with the NFL Draft kicking off in Philadelphia next Thursday.

      "I don't feel pressure (to draft a quarterback)," Smith told reporters Friday. "At some point, we're going to add a quarterback. We have two QBs on the roster and our intention is to go to camp with three QBs."

      Along with Savage, the Texans have veteran Brandon Weeden on their roster after they traded last season's starting quarterback, Osweiler, to the Browns in March.

      --Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel signed his second-round tender worth approximately $2.8 million.

      Gabriel is coming off a breakout 2016 season in which he had 35 catches for 579 yards and matched star Julio Jones with a team high-tying six touchdown receptions. The 26-year-old Gabriel also had four carries for 51 yards and a score.

      --Former NFL running back Glen Coffee is attempting a comeback, seven years removed from retiring after just one season in the league.

      Coffee, 29, was reinstated by the NFL on Friday and subsequently waived by his former team, the San Francisco 49ers.

      Selected in the third round of the 2009 draft, Coffee rushed 83 times for 226 yards and reeled in 11 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown during his lone season with San Francisco. He then retired in 2010 and initially said he would enter the ministry.

      Coffee changed gears, however, enlisting in the Army in 2013 and served as a specialist in the infantry for nearly four years.

  • Chiefs release DL Howard
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    The Kansas City Chiefs released defensive lineman Jaye Howard, according to multiple reports Saturday.

    • Howard, 28, spent the last four seasons with the Chiefs and was scheduled to make $3.7 million in base salary in 2017, including $2.5 million in guarantees.

      The Chiefs released Howard now in part because they want him to sign with another team in order to get some offset money and recover part of the $2.5 million guaranteed salary, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      The 6-foot-3, 301-pound Howard appeared in eight games (four starts) with the Chiefs in 2016, making 23 tackles and one sack. He suffered a hip injury in November and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 1 .

      Howard recorded 122 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 43 games with the Chiefs. He entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2012, playing only two games as a rookie. He was waived before his second season and picked up by the Chiefs.

      Chiefs coach Andy Reid gave an update on Howard's recovery from hip surgery as recently as Monday.

      "He's actually been rehabbing in Orlando with the surgeon that did his work there, and he's doing well," Reid told the Kansas City Star.

  • Falcons WR Gabriel signs tender
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel signed his second-round tender worth approximately $2.8 million, the team announced Saturday.

    • Gabriel is coming off a breakout 2016 season in which he had 35 catches for 579 yards and matched star Julio Jones with a team high-tying six touchdown receptions. The 26-year-old Gabriel also had four carries for 51 yards and a score.

      Gabriel was undrafted out of Abilene Christian before signing with the Cleveland Browns in 2014, totaling 64 catches for 862 yards and one touchdown in two seasons.

      The 5-foot-8 slot receiver, who said last month that he wanted to be a "Falcon forever," came to Atlanta in March 2016 on a one-year, $600,000 deal.

  • Ex-49ers RB Coffee comes out of retirement
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Former NFL running back Glen Coffee is attempting a comeback, seven years removed from retiring after just one season in the league.

    • Coffee, 29, was reinstated by the NFL on Friday and subsequently waived by his former team, the San Francisco 49ers.

      Selected in the third round of the 2009 draft, Coffee rushed 83 times for 226 yards and reeled in 11 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown during his lone season with San Francisco. He then retired in 2010 and initially said he would enter the ministry.

      Coffee changed gears, however, enlisting in the Army in 2013 and served as a specialist in the infantry for nearly four years.

  • Report: QB Trubisky still serious candidate for Browns at No. 1
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett may be the favorite for the Cleveland Browns as the No. 1 overall draft pick, but North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky is reportedly still under serious consideration.

    • Sources told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that the Browns are strongly considering taking Trubisky with the top pick.

      The Browns appear to have "split opinions" on Garrett vs. Trubisky at No. 1 overall.

      Browns vice president of football operations Sashi Brown gave hints during his pre-draft press conference Wednesday that Cleveland has zeroed in on Garrett.

      But the feeling of the front office is that the Browns are ready to draft their quarterback of the future and might not want to risk losing him if they try to trade up or hope he falls to them with their second first-round pick at No. 12, sources told Cleveland.com.

      The San Francisco 49ers also like Trubisky and might take him at No. 2, according to the report.

      If that scenario played out, the Browns would likely turn to Clemson's Deshaun Watson or Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes.

      Browns coach Hue Jackson is firmly in the Garrett camp at No. 1 and so is new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

      Earlier this week during his pre-draft press conference, Brown said the team has just about finalized its decision at No. 1.

      "We feel good about where we're going to be and who we're going to pick there (at No. 1),'' Brown said. "We've narrowed it down. We feel good about where we are.

      "We have received calls. We haven't resigned ourselves one way or the other. We feel really good about picking at one and I'll leave it at that."

      Meanwhile, quarterback Brock Osweiler's future remains in limbo but the Browns said he may be with the team for the start of training camp although Cleveland is expected to continue pursuing a trade during the draft.

      "Yeah, we expect Brock to be here," Brown said when asked whether Osweiler would be on the team in training camp. "He is in (for the offseason program) and has done a good job coming in the first couple days. He is a positive young man who has some ability and talent. We look forward to him trying to establish himself here and have a chance to compete to be the starting quarterback."

      Osweiler was acquired in March in a deal that allowed the Houston Texans to send his $16 million guaranteed salary to Cleveland and permitted the Browns to add a second-round draft pick in 2018.

  • Texans claim 'no pressure' to draft QB
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Unlike last spring when ownership saddled the personnel department with weighty expectations of adding a quarterback -- the failed Brock Osweiler experiment -- Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith said the team is feeling no urgency to draft a quarterback in 2017.

    • The Texans right now have Tom Savage as their starting quarterback with the NFL Draft kicking off in Philadelphia next Thursday.

      "I don't feel pressure (to draft a quarterback)," Smith told reporters Friday. "At some point, we're going to add a quarterback. We have two QBs on the roster and our intention is to go to camp with three QBs."

      Along with Savage, the Texans have veteran Brandon Weeden on their roster after they traded last season's starting quarterback, Osweiler, to the Cleveland Browns in March.

      Smith said he is comfortable if Savage becomes the Texans' Week 1 starter.

      "I think he's proven that he understands this offense," Smith said. "I think he's proven that he can play at a high level in the offense. He's been injured, so he hasn't had an extended amount of time to do that, but I am comfortable with that."

      The Texans have the 25th overall pick in next week's draft.

      "There's a lot of diversity in this draft," Smith said. "And it's just a matter of in a lot of respects in this draft, it's going to be beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's 'what is that vision for that player that we think he can come here and do for our football team' and that's a part of the evaluation process."

  • NFL notebook: Raiders want resolution on Lynch
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 21, 2017

    The Oakland Raiders are still waiting for running back Marshawn Lynch to officially announce he wants to resume his playing career with his hometown team.

    • Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to set a deadline by next week's NFL Draft, which gets underway Thursday in Philadelphia.

      A week ago, reports surfaced that "Beast Mode" was returning to the NFL after a one-season retirement, agreeing to a contract with the Raiders. That report turned out to be premature.

      The Seattle Seahawks own Lynch's rights, so the two sides still have to work out a deal before Lynch could become a member of the Raiders.

      The Raiders would like a resolution before the draft.

      --The Washington Redskins re-signed restricted free agent running back Chris Thompson to his tender contract.

      Friday was the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with other teams, but Thompson did not sign with anyone else since being tendered by the Redskins.

      Last season, the 26-year-old Thompson played in all 16 games for the first time in his career, posting career highs in rushing attempts (68), rushing yards (356), rushing touchdowns (three), receptions (49) and receiving yards (349) while matching his career high with two receiving touchdowns.

      --Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Shaquelle Evans, a practice-squad player last season, was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 campaign by the NFL for violating the league's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the team announced.

      Evans, 26, has not played a regular-season game for the Cowboys, and after being on the practice squad last season, Evans was signed to the Cowboys' reserve/future list in January.

      --The Indianapolis Colts signed undrafted free agent tight end Mo Alie-Cox, a former Virginia Commonwealth basketball player.

      The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Alie-Cox was a four-year standout on the VCU basketball team. He worked out for 30 of the 32 NFL teams earlier this month.

      The Colts said in their announcement that although Alie-Cox has not played football since his freshman year in high school, he possesses the athleticism to make the transition from basketball to football.

  • Cowboys WR Evans receives four-game suspension
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 21, 2017

    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Shaquelle Evans, a practice-squad player last season, was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 campaign by the NFL for violating the league's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the team announced Friday.

    • Evans, 26, has not played a regular-season game for the Cowboys, and this suspension certainly will not enhance his chances of getting on the field.

      After being on the practice squad last season, Evans was signed to the Cowboys' reserve/future list in January.

      He will be eligible to return to the Cowboys' active roster on Oct. 2 following Dallas' Oct. 1 game against the Los Angeles Rams.

      Evans was a fourth-round pick by the New York Jets in 2014.

      He spent the last three years with three teams and has not played in a regular-season NFL game.

  • Redskins retain RB Thompson
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 21, 2017

    The Washington Redskins re-signed restricted free agent running back Chris Thompson to his tender contract.

    • Friday was the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with other teams, but Thompson did not sign with anyone else since being tendered by the Redskins.

      The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Thompson has appeared in 35 career regular-season games since joining the Redskins as a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft out of Florida State.

      In his first four NFL seasons, Thompson had 106 carries for 584 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He also caught 90 passes for 616 yards and five TDs.

      Last season, the 26-year-old Thompson played in all 16 games for the first time in his career, posting career highs in rushing attempts (68), rushing yards (356), rushing touchdowns (three), receptions (49) and receiving yards (349) while matching his career high with two receiving touchdowns.

      Thompson was one of only two players in the NFL to record at least 60 carries, 40 receptions and 15 kickoff returns in 2016 (Green Bay's Ty Montgomery was the other).

  • Raiders seeking resolution with RB Lynch
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 21, 2017

    The Oakland Raiders are still waiting for running back Marshawn Lynch to officially announce he wants to resume his playing career with his hometown team.

    • Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to set a deadline by next week's NFL Draft, which gets underway Thursday in Philadelphia.

      A week ago, reports surfaced that "Beast Mode" was returning to the NFL after a one-season retirement, agreeing to a contract with the Raiders. That report turned out to be premature.

      The Seattle Seahawks own Lynch's rights, so the two sides still have to work out a deal before Lynch could become a member of the Raiders.

      The Raiders would like a resolution before the draft.

      "At some point, you'd like to know. Prior to the draft is that point," McKenzie told reporters Friday.

      Lynch hinted that he was interested in playing for the Raiders earlier this year. He is an Oakland native and played collegiately at Cal before embarking on his NFL career.

      "Every indication is he is excited to play for the Oakland Raiders," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Friday.

      The prospects sped up last week when the Seahawks granted the Raiders permission to negotiate with Lynch.

      There was an assumption that progress was being made when Lynch tweeted, "I'm Thankfull!!!! Yes Lawd!!!!"

      Lynch, who turns 31 on Saturday, retired from the NFL and Seahawks after the 2015 season. He has been on the reserve/retired list since May 2016.

      Under terms of his existing contract, Lynch would be in line for a $9 million salary and cap hit in 2017, and he would be due a base salary of $7 million in 2018 and could potentially earn an additional $3 million roster bonus, according to ESPN. The sides need to agree on new contract terms before a deal could move forward.

      Lynch racked up six 1,000-yard seasons in his career and rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns in nine seasons with the Buffalo Bills and Seahawks. He topped 1,200 yards in four consecutive seasons for Seattle from 2011-14 before being hindered by injuries in 2015. He played in only seven games and recorded 417 yards and three touchdowns in his last season.

  • Colts sign hoopster Alie-Cox
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 21, 2017

    The Indianapolis Colts on Friday signed undrafted free agent tight end Mo Alie-Cox, a former Virginia Commonwealth basketball player.

    • The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Alie-Cox was a four-year standout on the VCU basketball team. He worked out for 30 of the 32 NFL teams earlier this month.

      The Colts said in their announcement that although Alie-Cox has not played football since his freshman year in high school, he possesses the athleticism to make the transition from basketball to football similar to Indianapolis tight ends Erik Swoope and Marcus Pollard, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham.

      Alie-Cox averaged 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds last season at VCU.

  • Full 2017 NFL schedule
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    Here is the 2017 NFL schedule, with games grouped by start times and listed alphabetically by home team. All times ET. Sunday night games in Weeks 5-15 subject to change; Sunday night game for Week 17 TBD.

    • WEEK 1

      Thursday, September 7, 2017

      Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Sunday, September 10, 2017

      New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, September 11, 2017

      New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, 7:10 p.m., ESPN

      Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos, 10:20 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 2

      Thursday, September 14, 2017

      Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

      Sunday, September 17, 2017

      Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      New York Jets at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, September 18, 2017

      Detroit Lions at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 3

      Thursday, September 21, 2017

      Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

      Sunday, September 24, 2017

      Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars (London), 9:30 a.m., TBD

      Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Houston Texans at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, September 25, 2017

      Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 4

      Thursday, September 28, 2017

      Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, October 1, 2017

      New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins (London), 9:30 a.m., FOX

      Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, October 2, 2017

      Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 5

      Thursday, October 5, 2017

      New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, October 8, 2017

      Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New York Jets at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, October 9, 2017

      Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Washington

      WEEK 6

      Thursday, October 12, 2017

      Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, October 15, 2017

      Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      New England Patriots at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      New York Giants at Denver Broncos *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, October 16, 2017

      Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle

      WEEK 7

      Thursday, October 19, 2017

      Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, October 22, 2017

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (London), 1:00 p.m., FOX

      New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, October 23, 2017

      Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Detroit, Houston

      WEEK 8

      Thursday, October 26, 2017

      Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, October 29, 2017

      Minnesota Vikings at Cleveland Browns (London), 9:30 a.m., NFLN

      Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Houston Texans at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, October 30, 2017

      Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee

      WEEK 9

      Thursday, November 2, 2017

      Buffalo Bills at New York Jets, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

      Sunday, November 5, 2017

      Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, November 6, 2017

      Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

      WEEK 10

      Thursday, November 9, 2017

      Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, November 12, 2017

      New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      New England Patriots at Denver Broncos *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, November 13, 2017

      Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

      WEEK 11

      Thursday, November 16, 2017

      Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, November 19, 2017

      Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Kansas City Chiefs at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (Mexico City), 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, November 20, 2017

      Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      Byes: Carolina, Indianapolis, Miami, New York Jets, San Francisco, Tampa Bay

      WEEK 12

      Thursday, November 23, 2017

      Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m., FOX

      Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m., CBS

      New York Giants at Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Sunday, November 26, 2017

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Carolina Panthers at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, November 27, 2017

      Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 13

      Thursday, November 30, 2017

      Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, December 3, 2017

      Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      New York Giants at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, December 4, 2017

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 14

      Thursday, December 7, 2017

      New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon

      Sunday, December 10, 2017

      Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      New York Jets at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, December 11, 2017

      New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 15

      Thursday, December 14, 2017

      Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon

      Saturday, December 16, 2017

      Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 4:30 p.m., NFLN

      Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

      Sunday, December 17, 2017

      Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New York Jets at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m., FOX

      New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders *, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Monday, December 18, 2017

      Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 16

      Saturday, December 23, 2017

      Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens, 4:30 p.m., NFLN

      Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m., NBC

      Sunday, December 24, 2017

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

      New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Monday, December 25, 2017

      Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans, 4:30 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon

      Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

      WEEK 17

      Sunday, December 31, 2017

      Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      New York Jets at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Washington Redskins at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX

      Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m., CBS

      Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

      San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m., FOX

      TBD, 8:30 p.m., NBC

  • Pats face Chiefs in NFL season kickoff
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will kick off the 2017 NFL season at home Sept. 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs as the league released the regular-season schedule Thursday night.

    • The game between the Chiefs and Patriots is the NFL's annual season kickoff game on a Thursday night.

      Commissioner Roger Goodell announced at the league's owners meeting last month that he plans to attend the season opener. His appearance at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., would be his first since the Deflategate situation and the league's battle to uphold a four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady.

      The Patriots also will host the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch in a nationally televised night game Sunday, Oct. 22.

      The Falcons open the season on the road against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 10. They will play their first game at new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 2, when they host the Green Bay Packers in a nationally televised night game on Sunday, Sept. 17. Atlanta beat Green Bay in last season's NFC Championship Game.

      The Packers open their season at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 10. The nationally televised game that night will feature the New York Giants against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

      The newly relocated Los Angeles Chargers' first home game at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., will be on Sept. 10 against the Indianapolis Colts.

      Two games will be played Monday, Sept. 11, with the New Orleans Saints playing on the road against the Minnesota Vikings, followed by the relocated Chargers playing at Denver against the Broncos.

      Later in the season, the Patriots will play the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City on Sunday, Nov. 19. The Raiders will play five prime-time games this year.

      Four NFL games will be played in London during the 2017 season. The first one pits the Baltimore Ravens against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 24. The following week, the Miami Dolphins face the Saints. The Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals play their London game Oct. 22, and the Cleveland Browns face the Vikings on Sunday, Oct. 29, in England.

      The Rams-Cardinals game will be a rare division contest played overseas.

      The Raiders, who plan to move to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020, play their home opener in Week 2 against the New York Jets on Sept. 17. Oakland closes the season with a road game against the Chargers on Dec. 31, a game at which the Raiders might have more fan support than the home team.

      The Eagles visit the Rams on Dec. 10 in a showdown between the top two overall picks in the 2016 NFL Draft: Los Angeles' Jared Goff (No. 1) and Philadelphia's Carson Wentz (No. 2).

      New Orleans plays at Green Bay on Oct. 22. The last time Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Saints quarterback Drew Brees met, they combined for 729 passing yards and four TD passes in a 44-23 New Orleans win in 2014. Two years earlier, they had a combined 765 passing yards and seven TDs passes in a 28-27 Green Bay victory.

  • Will Smith's killer sentenced to 40 years in prison
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    Cardell Hayes, who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith during a traffic dispute 12 months ago, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for manslaughter on Thursday.

    • Hayes, 29, also received a 15-year sentence for attempted manslaughter in the shooting of Racquel Smith, wife of the former defensive end.

      Prosecutors argued that Hayes should serve 60 years for the two convictions, and Racquel Smith was disappointed that Criminal District Judge Camille Buras went with a combined total of 40 years.

      "My family and I are extremely disappointed with today's sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant," Smith said in a statement. "While we know nothing will ever bring Will back, we were hopeful that Judge Buras would have issued a stronger sentence to more justly reflect both the nature of the crimes and the tremendous loss and pain that my family has suffered as a result of Mr. Hayes' violent actions on the night of April 9, 2016," she said.

      "This ordeal has been a nightmare for me and my family. There are no winners here today. Today's sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child to grow up without a father. I pray for the other families of New Orleans that are dealing with the same tragedy that comes with the loss of life at the hands of senseless violence.

      "Will loved this city and we must do better together to enact serious change so that Will's unnecessary murder is not in vain."

      The shooting of Will Smith occurred after a minor traffic incident on April 9, 2016, on the streets of New Orleans.

      According to the police report, Hayes' vehicle hit Smith's SUV from behind and an argument ensued. Smith, 34, was struck by eight bullets, including seven in the back, and died at the scene. His wife was shot twice in a leg.

      Hayes was convicted of the crimes in December.

      Will Smith played nine seasons with the Saints (2004-12) and recorded 67.5 career sacks.

  • NFL notebook: Giants' Manning denies wrongdoing in memorabilia controversy
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning denied accusations Thursday that he knowingly provided fake game-used memorabilia to collectors.

    • "I've done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide," Manning said.

      The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback turned over a potentially incriminating email earlier this month in connection with a lawsuit that claims Manning, the Giants and a team equipment manager knowingly provided memorabilia that was not worn in games.

      Manning claims that the emails were "taken out of context" and that he's "more angry than anything" that his character is being called into question. The 36-year-old then said that because of pending litigation that he would not be able to answer questions or get into specific details about the lawsuit.

      The lawsuit alleges an elaborate scheme to produce, pass off and sell memorabilia as game-used that was not.

      --The death of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was officially ruled a suicide, and his brain will be donated to Boston University for study in accordance with his family's wishes.

      The Worcester County District Attorney's Office in Massachusetts announced that Hernandez took his own life after conducting an investigation.

      Chief medical examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields made the conclusion that "manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging," according to a news release.

      Three handwritten notes were found in the cell but the contents weren't immediately released. There was no indication of foul play, according to authorities.

      --The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will kick off the 2017 NFL season at home on Sept. 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, ESPN reported, citing multiple sources.

      The league officially will release the entire schedule at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.

      The game between the Chiefs and Patriots is the league's annual season kickoff game.

      Commissioner Roger Goodell announced at the league's owners meeting last month that he plans to attend the season opener. His appearance at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., would be his first since the Deflategate situation and the league's battle to uphold a four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady.

      New England is slated to play the Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl LI rematch this season, but the NFL is expected to hold that game for a Sunday night in October, ESPN reported.

      --Cardell Hayes, who killed former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith during a traffic dispute 12 months ago, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for manslaughter.

      Hayes, 29, also received a 15-year sentence for attempted manslaughter in the shooting of Racquel Smith, wife of the former defensive end.

      Prosecutors argued that Hayes should serve 60 years for the two convictions, and Racquel Smith was disappointed that Criminal District Judge Camille Buras went with a combined total of 40 years.

      --New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James were among seven sports figures named to Time Magazine's annual list of the world's most influential people, which was announced Thursday.

      While Brady and James have ample championships on their resume, polarizing NFL free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick also appeared on the list that included pioneers, artists and leaders.

      Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein, 2016 Olympic gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles, UFC light heavyweight champion Conor McGregor and Barcelona superstar forward Neymar were also included on the list.

  • Hernandez's death officially ruled suicide
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    The death of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was officially ruled a suicide on Thursday, and his brain will be donated to Boston University for study in accordance with his family's wishes.

    • The Worcester County District Attorney's Office in Massachusetts announced that Hernandez took his own life after conducting an investigation.

      Guards discovered the 27-year-old Hernandez in his single cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital about an hour later.

      Chief medical examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields made the conclusion that "manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging," according to a news release.

      Three handwritten notes were found in the cell but the contents weren't immediately released. There was no indication of foul play, according to authorities.

      "There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging," the district attorney's office said in the statement.

      With the cause of death determined, the medical examiner cleared the way for Hernandez's brain to be released to Boston University to undergo testing as part of the university's concussion research.

      Earlier Thursday, Hernandez lawyer Jose Baez sharply criticized the medical examiner's office for "illegally" holding the brain.

      The medical examiner released Hernandez's body to a funeral home on Thursday but didn't initially include the brain.

      "It is our position that they are holding Aaron Hernandez's brain illegally," Baez told reporters. "There is a fixing procedure to prepare these specimens. It is their position that they are going to be the ones to do the fixing procedure. The family does not have confidence in the medical examiner's office."

      Baez said the family decided on giving the brain to Boston University to see if there are signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Hernandez's brain. CTE is the debilitating brain disease that researchers say is caused in part by concussions while playing football and other head trauma.

      "The family of Aaron Hernandez has decided to donate Aaron's brain to the study so we can possibly help other young men who play football ... further the cause, and possibly shed light and provide more evidence on this case," Baez said.

      Hernandez's suicide occurred just five days after he was acquitted on double-murder charges. The timing of his death -- prison officials say he hung himself -- has perplexed people.

      "There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible," Baez said. "Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death."

      Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a sentence delivered in April 2015.

      The former University of Florida and NFL star was in a maximum security state prison not far from the Patriots' home, which is in Foxborough, Mass.

      Corrections officers said Hernandez hung himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window.

      Hernandez was emotional Friday as the jury read a not guilty verdict acquitting Hernandez of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston.

      A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Hernandez signed a seven-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots prior to the 2012 season. That deal included a $12.5 million signing bonus and $15.9 million guaranteed.

      Hernandez's death occurred on the same day the Patriots visited the White House to mark their Super Bowl LI comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.

  • Patriots to open NFL season against Chiefs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will kick off the 2017 NFL season at home on Sept. 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, ESPN reported on Thursday, citing multiple sources.

    • The league officially will release the entire schedule at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.

      The game between the Chiefs and Patriots is the league's annual season kickoff game.

      Commissioner Roger Goodell announced at the league's owners meeting last month that he plans to attend the season opener. His appearance at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., would be his first since the Deflategate situation and the league's battle to uphold a four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady.

      New England is slated to play the Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl LI rematch this season, but the NFL is expected to hold that game for a Sunday night in October, ESPN reported.

  • Giants QB Manning denies fake-memorabilia claims
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning denied accusations Thursday that he knowingly provided fake game-used memorabilia to collectors.

    • "I've done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide," Manning said.

      The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback turned over a potentially incriminating email earlier this month in connection with a lawsuit that claims Manning, the Giants and a team equipment manager knowingly provided memorabilia that was not worn in games.

      Manning claims that the emails were "taken out of context" and that he's "more angry than anything" that his character is being called into question. The 36-year-old then said that because of pending litigation that he would not be able to answer questions or get into specific details about the lawsuit.

      "I will say that I've never done what I've been accused of doing," Manning said. "I have no reason, nor have I ever had any reason, to do anything of that nature. ... And I know that when this is all done, everybody will see it the same way."

      The email in question was included in a court filing in Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court by the plaintiffs -- collectors Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown -- who first filed a lawsuit three years ago. The trial has been scheduled for Sept. 25.

      The email, obtained this week by the New York Post, shows an April 27, 2010 exchange between Manning and Giants head equipment manager Joe Skiba. Manning has a contract with memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports and his marketing agent had requested two game-used helmets as part of the agreement.

      "2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli," Manning wrote to Skiba, according to the documents.

      The lawsuit alleges an elaborate scheme to produce, pass off and sell memorabilia as game-used that was not. The suit also alleges that the Giants were complicit by deleting the email from their accounts.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: AFC South On the Clock
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    Houston Texans at No. 25

    • When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Houston Texans have the No. 25. pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Quarterback: This remains the top need for a struggling offense that unloaded an ineffective Brock Osweiler and his $72 million contract in a trade to the Browns. The Texans are expected to draft a quarterback especially after the decision by Tony Romo to retire. For now, their top option under center is Tom Savage.

      --2. Defensive back: The Texans lost starters A.J. Bouye and Quintin Demps during free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, respectively. Bouye emerged as a shutdown corner last season. Demps led all safeties with six interceptions. Replacing them will likely involve cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph getting healthier and likely drafting a few defensive backs.

      --3. Tackle: The offensive line, especially right tackle, is a vulnerable area. It's dangerously thin with Derek Newton not expected back this season after tearing both patellar tendons last season. Chris Clark was not good as his replacement. The Texans are evaluating several college tackles, including Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson and are likely to draft a tackle at some point. They could also use help at guard. Neither Xavier Su'a-Filo or Jeff Allen was particularly stout last season.

      --4. Running back: Lamar Miller wore down at the end of a productive season. There really isn't a quality backup capable of spelling him for long on the roster currently, including Alfred Blue. The Texans have been looking at running backs, including Pitt's James Conner visiting.

      --5. Defensive tackle: Although D.J. Reader shapes up as a sure-fire replacement for Vince Wilfork, they still need depth at the position. They have been evaluating several defensive linemen, including North Carolina's Nazair Jones.

      Best fit

      --QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: The Texans have a glaring need at quarterback after trading away Brock Osweiler to the Browns and Tony Romo opting to go to CBS as an analyst rather than play for them. They currently have Tom Savage, who is prone to injuries, atop the depth chart. They need to identify a quarterback for the future and Mahomes fits the bill. He has a strong arm and is instinctive, but needs polish and time to develop.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Getting rid of the colossal Osweiler contract was a relief in itself, but unless a veteran replacement is found, quarterback is now the top priority again in Houston. Watson's ability to deliver in the clutch intrigues scouts, but he also threw an FBS-worst 30 interceptions over the past two seasons, making him a polarizing player in the scouting community. At this point in the draft, however, general manager Rick Smith might see him as simply too talented to pass up.

      --Dane Brugler: Ryan Ramcyzk, OT, Wisconsin. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Texans need to invest in offensive line help to have any hope at a passing game. Ramczyk should continue the long, successful pipeline of Wisconsin blockers to the NFL.

      --Jim Miller: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech. As an ex-quarterback, Miller's explanation on this key pick should be interesting, so check out the accompanying video.

      (Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Quarterback is the obvious need. Although there is a lot of negativity about this class, there are a dozen teams that list the position as a top-three need. So if one goes earlier than expected, you can count on nervous teams making a run on the position. If that means Jim Miller's pick, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, is gone, I believe the Texans may have a shot at one of the more overlooked talents in the draft -- Cal quarterback Davis Webb. He can throw the ball as well as anybody in the draft and most of the starters in the NFL. He is still developing as a passer, but has the knack to fit the ball where it belongs.

      Indianapolis Colts on at No. 15

      When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Indianapolis Colts have the No. 15 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Rush outside linebacker: Despite all the Colts' free agency moves to infuse more talent on defense this offseason, finding an athletic, young, play-making outside rush linebacker remains the top priority for the Indianapolis front office during the draft. If the Colts could find two rookie rush outside linebackers in this draft, so much the better.

      --2. Cornerback: Indianapolis needs to find depth at cornerback in this draft. Indianapolis could come up with a potential long-term starter at the position, which would really help Ballard's defensive remodeling. The Colts need more playmakers in the secondary.

      --3. Running back: With Frank Gore on the back end of his NFL career, don't be surprised if the Colts try to find a long-term replacement at running back. Veteran Robert Turbin was re-signed this offseason, but he's not expected to be the eventual replacement for Gore in the Indianapolis offense. Finding the right young running back who can pass block as well as be a dependable receiver out of the backfield is just as important as their running skills.

      --4. Inside linebacker: Indianapolis was active in the veteran free agency market this offseason and added several pieces to the team's inside linebacking group. But coming up with a couple rookie inside linebackers who are athletic and skilled enough to push the veterans would be nice.

      --5. Defensive line: Again, the Colts have been busy this offseason in the veteran free agency market as they have tried to improve the overall depth and skills along the defensive line. Indianapolis, though, wants to get younger and more athletic in the trenches. Playmakers are needed.

      Best fit

      --OLB Derek Barnett, Tennessee: The Colts need immediate help at rush outside linebacker. While trying to add help through free agency to the rest of the defense during this offseason, Indianapolis is in dire need of a young, athletic outside pass rusher who can also handle the responsibilities in pass coverage. The Colts pick 15th overall in the first round and Barnett is expected to still be available at that point of the draft.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. The Colts have needs all over the defense and could see the versatile and explosive Reddick as immediate help at a number of positions. Reddick recorded 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks as an edge rusher for the Owls in 2016 before wowing first at the Senior Bowl as a more traditional linebacker at the Senior Bowl and then at the Combine, recording a ridiculous 4.52 second time in the 40-yard dash and 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump at 6-foot-1, 234 pounds.

      --Dane Brugler: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. Coming from Kansas City, new Colts general manager Chris Ballard understands the impact of speed on defense and that is exactly what Reddick offers. He can line up inside or outside and give position flexibility to drop in coverage or blitz.

      --Jim Miller: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. No surprise here from a former quarterback who is always looking for more time to pass the bal.

      (Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: If the Colts' top need is a pass rusher, versatile linebacker Haason Reddick, Temple, is an intriguing prospect. He arrived as a 185-pound walk-on and as he became bigger and tougher he was guilty of aggravated assault -- literally (off-campus fight, 2015) -- which opponents witnessed last season when he collected 22.5 tackles for a loss, including 10.5 sacks.

      Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 4

      When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 4 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Defensive end: The team's top two players at strong-side end last season, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu, have both departed. Odrick was released and the Jaguars chose not to re-sign Alualu, who later signed with Pittsburgh. Likely to get the starting call for the 2017 opener is newly signed free agent Calais Campbell who the Jaguars beat out Denver for the former Arizona Cardinals veteran. But that's not to say Campbell will solve all the team needs at this spot. The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran only has a couple good years at most left in his tank. The Jaguars would like to have someone that can learn under Campbell, will provide adequate depth and will be ready to replace Campbell in time. If Alabama's Jonathan Allen is still available with the fourth overall pick, look for the Jaguars to jump on him despite Allen's woeful showing at the Combine and the growing concern over his surgically-repaired shoulders. If the latter is too much of a concern, the Jaguars might opt instead for Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.

      --2. Running back: If Allen and Thomas are both gone when the Jaguars make their pick, they very well may opt for LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars have two talented running backs on the roster in Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. But neither player had a good year in 2016 as injuries limited their playing time with neither player able to reach the 500-yard rushing mark for the season. Both could bounce back with solid showings this year, but Fournette looks like he could be a standout in the league for the next decade. Dalvin Cook of Florida State is the next best option, but he may not be worthy of the fourth overall pick. He would be an ideal choice if the Jaguars traded down in the first round, received several other draft picks and were able to land Cook.

      --3. Left guard: The Jaguars had five different starters at this position a year ago and never grew comfortable with any. All five players suffered some type of injury, some of which were season-enders, and by midway of the final game of the year against Indianapolis, they were using their sixth different player at that spot. Most of the six players used at that position last year will return in 2017, but none have shown the capability of becoming a solid, full-time starter there. It's a need that must be addressed. It was a mild surprise that the Jaguars did not address this need in free agency as there were several players available who would have provided an immediate upgrade. That being the case, look for the Jaguars to pick a lineman within the first two days of the draft.

      --4. Tight end: The Jaguars' roster currently lists four tight ends including incumbent Marcedes Lewis. But the 10-year veteran has missed at least five games in each of three of the last four seasons and has not caught more than 25 passes in any of those years. The three backups behind Lewis have potential, but none have demonstrated the skill set to be ready to step in and replace Lewis or the departed Julius Thomas as a pass-catching tight end. Should the Jaguars trade down with their No. 4 overall pick, Alabama's O.J. Howard becomes a popular choice to be the team's first-round pick.

      --5. Quarterback: If Jacksonville doesn't make a trade with the No. 4 overall pick and thus only has one pick in each of the first four rounds, taking a quarterback in the fifth round will probably not happen unless they like someone so much and he's fallen this far in the draft. They basically did that a year ago when they liked Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen enough that they selected him with a sixth-round pick. While Allen didn't appear in any games in his rookie season, the Jaguars feel he's still a project in the works. The Jaguars would like to have a quarterback in camp that could push Blake Bortles. Veteran backup Chad Henne is not that guy, nor does it appear that Allen is ready to do so. Bringing in someone young with talent may be the only way to go to push Bortles.

      Best fit

      --Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: Thomas has outstanding athleticism with both power and quickness. At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, he could add another 10 pounds to make it even tougher for opposing linemen to block. He is relentless when it comes to run or pass and has the skillset to fight off blockers. He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and could be a standout for the next decade. Some say the downside is that his size makes him a "tweener" where he might struggle to keep weight on to play inside and that at 6-foot-3 he doesn't have the length to hold his own on the outside. But the arrow appears to be decisively pointing up for Thomas and how his skills would fit in with the Jaguars' 4-3 scheme. Jonathan Allen might be the better overall player, but there are concerns about his past with injuries. Thomas thus gets the nod over Allen if the Jaguars have their choice of the two defensive standouts.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Splashy signings in free agency suggest the Jaguars are looking for an immediate difference-maker with this pick. The Cowboys went from last to first in the NFC during the regular season a year ago in large part because of the stellar play of 2016 No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott and the Jaguars could see a similar bounce with Fournette taking the pressure off young Blake Bortles and the passing game. Fournette was not as impressive in workouts as expected, but he is a freakish talent, boasting the most exciting combination of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.

      --Dane Brugler: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU. The Jaguars added Barry Church in free agency, but that shouldn't stop them from adding a player like Adams, who would give Jacksonville another potential Pro Bowler on defense.

      --Pat Kirwan: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. If a runner is the want, this one has the talent to be one of the best in a decade.

      (Kirwan, Jim Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Depending on who is available, my preferences at this spot would be running back Leonard Fournette, LSU, or defensive end Solomon Thomas, Stanford -- in that order.

      Tennessee Titans Nos. 5, 18

      When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Tennessee Titans have the No. 5 and No. 18 picks in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Cornerback: The Titans addressed this in free agency with Logan Ryan, but they recently released veteran Jason McCourty. The Titans were going to add at least one cornerback in this draft whether McCourty stayed or not, and general manager Jon Robinson's brief history when a position needs to be addressed is to remake it both in free agency and the draft.

      --2. Wide receiver: The Titans are pleased with Rishard Matthews and they still have high hopes for Tajae Sharpe after he showed flashes as a rookie. But Kendall Wright is gone, and veteran Harry Douglas is in the twilight of his career. From a sheer numbers standpoint, the Titans will probably add two more wide receivers from a class that is fairly deep, but might not have a true can't-miss superstar.

      --3. Tight end: The loss of Anthony Fasano in free agency is an underrated issue for the Titans, who can either hand Phillip Supernaw a bigger role in the offense as the second tight end or they can draft to fill this need. Delanie Walker is still playing at a high level, but is 32, and Jace Amaro needs to improve his blocking before the Titans trust him with a bigger role.

      --4. Inside linebacker: The Titans re-signed Wesley Woodyard, and did not go as hard after Dont'a Hightower in free agency as many expected. Still, depth at inside linebacker is a concern, as there are no proven players behind Woodyard and Avery Williamson. The Titans re-signed Nate Palmer, who could fill in in a pinch, but his value is more as a special teams player rather than a having to fill in as a starter.

      --5. Safety: The Titans addressed this with the free-agent signing of Johnathan Cyprien, but still might add some depth here. Kevin Byard impressed as a rookie, but Da'Norris Searcy's starting role (and perhaps his roster spot) could be in jeopardy, depending upon what is found in the draft. Also, the Titans did not re-sign Rashad Johnson and Daimion Stafford in free agency, meaning that from the standpoint of needing players to compete, adding one more safety seems a reasonable possibility.

      Best fits

      --No. 5: CB Marshawn Lattimore, Ohio State: The Titans are armed with two first-round picks, thanks to last year's trade of the first overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams. Having just released Jason McCourty and his $7 million base salary, the Titans have a need in the secondary, even after adding Logan Ryan in free agency. Lattimore is regarded as the best cornerback available in this draft. The biggest question about him has been injuries. The talent, however, seems to be in abundance. The Titans, however, might try and trade down a few slots if there is a pool of players to be chosen from that they like and no consensus at No. 5.

      --No. 18: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama: Rankings for Howard have been all up and down the first round, depending on which mock draft you look at. It is possible that Howard might be a Titans target, even if they have to move down from No. 5 or up from No. 18. He has the type of size and athletic skills that are becoming a weapon in the NFL, and Tennessee having lost Anthony Fasano in free agency needs a second tight end to pair with Delanie Walker, and to eventually be the heir apparent to the 32-year-old Pro Bowler.

      The picks will be ...

      --Rob Rang: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The addition of veterans Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien help, but only the most optimistic of Titans fans believe they can turn a secondary that ranked 31st a year ago against the pass into an elite unit. Now if a talent like Lattimore was added to the mix, on the other hand, optimism would be much higher. Lattimore struggled with hamstring injuries early in his career at Ohio State, but he was dominant last season, showing the easy agility, acceleration and instincts to project as a future Pro Bowler.

      --No. 18: John Ross, WR, Washington. With Marcus Mariota's speed and the two-headed monster of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield, Tennessee clearly has a run-first strategy on offense. That said, Ross' incredible straight-line speed would force opposing defensive coordinators to think twice before crowding the box. Furthermore, Ross would add juice to a special teams unit that ranked 20th a season ago in punt return average (7.9) and 26th on kickoffs (19.1).

      --Dane Brugler: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. Cornerback isn't the top need on the roster, but the Titans are in position to take best available with this pick and Lattimore would give Tennessee valuable depth at a critical position.

      -No. 18: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.). Assuming the Titans go with a defensive stud with the fifth pick, the selection here is a good bet to be an offensive playmaker. Njoku, who is still only 20 years old, has arguably the highest ceiling of any offensive skill player in this draft class.

      --Jim Miller: No. 5 pick is traded and the Cincinnati Bengals step in here to take Jonathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama. Miller can explain the details and reason in corresponding video here.

      --Pat Kirwan: No. 18: This spot is traded to the Denver Broncos, who take Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky.

      (Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: At No. 5, Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, looks like a good fit. At No. 18, tight end O.J. Howard, Alabama, is the best at the position in this draft and would be welcomed by QB Marcus Mariota.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Tennessee Titans on the clock at Nos. 5, 18
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

    • When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Tennessee Titans have the No. 5 and No. 18 picks in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Cornerback: The Titans addressed this in free agency with Logan Ryan, but they recently released veteran Jason McCourty. The Titans were going to add at least one cornerback in this draft whether McCourty stayed or not, and general manager Jon Robinson's brief history when a position needs to be addressed is to remake it both in free agency and the draft.

      --2. Wide receiver: The Titans are pleased with Rishard Matthews and they still have high hopes for Tajae Sharpe after he showed flashes as a rookie. But Kendall Wright is gone, and veteran Harry Douglas is in the twilight of his career. From a sheer numbers standpoint, the Titans will probably add two more wide receivers from a class that is fairly deep, but might not have a true can't-miss superstar.

      --3. Tight end: The loss of Anthony Fasano in free agency is an underrated issue for the Titans, who can either hand Phillip Supernaw a bigger role in the offense as the second tight end or they can draft to fill this need. Delanie Walker is still playing at a high level, but is 32, and Jace Amaro needs to improve his blocking before the Titans trust him with a bigger role.

      --4. Inside linebacker: The Titans re-signed Wesley Woodyard, and did not go as hard after Dont'a Hightower in free agency as many expected. Still, depth at inside linebacker is a concern, as there are no proven players behind Woodyard and Avery Williamson. The Titans re-signed Nate Palmer, who could fill in in a pinch, but his value is more as a special teams player rather than a having to fill in as a starter.

      --5. Safety: The Titans addressed this with the free-agent signing of Johnathan Cyprien, but still might add some depth here. Kevin Byard impressed as a rookie, but Da'Norris Searcy's starting role (and perhaps his roster spot) could be in jeopardy, depending upon what is found in the draft. Also, the Titans did not re-sign Rashad Johnson and Daimion Stafford in free agency, meaning that from the standpoint of needing players to compete, adding one more safety seems a reasonable possibility.

      Best fits

      --No. 5: CB Marshawn Lattimore, Ohio State: The Titans are armed with two first-round picks, thanks to last year's trade of the first overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams. Having just released Jason McCourty and his $7 million base salary, the Titans have a need in the secondary, even after adding Logan Ryan in free agency. Lattimore is regarded as potentially the best cornerback available in this draft. The biggest question about him has been injuries. The talent, however, seems to be in abundance. The Titans, however, might try and trade down a few slots if there is a pool of players to be chosen from that they like and no consensus at No. 5.

      --No. 18: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama: Rankings for Howard have been all up and down the first round, depending on which mock draft you look at. It is possible that Howard might be a Titans target, even if they have to move down from No. 5 or up from No. 18. He has the type of size and athletic skills that are becoming a weapon in the NFL, and Tennessee having lost Anthony Fasano in free agency needs a second tight end to pair with Delanie Walker, and to eventually be the heir apparent to the 32-year-old Pro Bowler.

      The picks will be ...

      --Rob Rang: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The addition of veterans Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien help, but only the most optimistic of Titans fans believe they can turn a secondary that ranked 31st a year ago against the pass into an elite unit. Now if a talent like Lattimore was added to the mix, on the other hand, optimism would be much higher. Lattimore struggled with hamstring injuries early in his career at Ohio State, but he was dominant last season, showing the easy agility, acceleration and instincts to project as a future Pro Bowler.

      --No. 18: John Ross, WR, Washington. With Marcus Mariota's speed and the two-headed monster of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield, Tennessee clearly has a run-first strategy on offense. That said, Ross' incredible straight-line speed would force opposing defensive coordinators to think twice before crowding the box. Furthermore, Ross would add juice to a special teams unit that ranked 20th a season ago in punt return average (7.9) and 26th on kickoffs (19.1).

      --Dane Brugler: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. Cornerback isn't the top need on the roster, but the Titans are in position to take best available with this pick and Lattimore would give Tennessee valuable depth at a critical position.

      -No. 18: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.). Assuming the Titans go with a defensive stud with the fifth pick, the selection here is a good bet to be an offensive playmaker. Njoku, who is still only 20 years old, has arguably the highest ceiling of any offensive skill player in this draft class.

      --Jim Miller: No. 5 pick is traded and the Cincinnati Bengals step in here to take Jonathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama. Miller can explain the details and reason in corresponding video here.

      --Pat Kirwan: No. 18: This spot is traded to the Denver Broncos, who take Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky.

      (Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: At No. 5, Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, looks like a good fit. At No. 18, tight end O.J. Howard, Alabama, is the best at the position in this draft and would be welcomed by QB Marcus Mariota.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars on the clock at No. 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

    • When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 4 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Defensive end: The team's top two players at strong-side end last season, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu, have both departed. Odrick was released and the Jaguars chose not to re-sign Alualu, who later signed with Pittsburgh. Likely to get the starting call for the 2017 opener is newly signed free agent Calais Campbell who the Jaguars beat out Denver for the former Arizona Cardinals veteran. But that's not to say Campbell will solve all the team needs at this spot. The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran only has a couple good years at most left in his tank. The Jaguars would like to have someone that can learn under Campbell, will provide adequate depth and will be ready to replace Campbell in time. If Alabama's Jonathan Allen is still available with the fourth overall pick, look for the Jaguars to jump on him despite Allen's woeful showing at the Combine and the growing concern over his surgically-repaired shoulders. If the latter is too much of a concern, the Jaguars might opt instead for Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.

      --2. Running back: If Allen and Thomas are both gone when the Jaguars make their pick, they very well may opt for LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars have two talented running backs on the roster in Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. But neither player had a good year in 2016 as injuries limited their playing time with neither player able to reach the 500-yard rushing mark for the season. Both could bounce back with solid showings this year, but Fournette looks like he could be a standout in the league for the next decade. Dalvin Cook of Florida State is the next best option, but he may not be worthy of the fourth overall pick. He would be an ideal choice if the Jaguars traded down in the first round, received several other draft picks and were able to land Cook.

      --3. Left guard: The Jaguars had five different starters at this position a year ago and never grew comfortable with any. All five players suffered some type of injury, some of which were season-enders, and by midway of the final game of the year against Indianapolis, they were using their sixth different player at that spot. Most of the six players used at that position last year will return in 2017, but none have shown the capability of becoming a solid, full-time starter there. It's a need that must be addressed. It was a mild surprise that the Jaguars did not address this need in free agency as there were several players available who would have provided an immediate upgrade. That being the case, look for the Jaguars to pick a lineman within the first two days of the draft.

      --4. Tight end: The Jaguars' roster currently lists four tight ends including incumbent Marcedes Lewis. But the 10-year veteran has missed at least five games in each of three of the last four seasons and has not caught more than 25 passes in any of those years. The three backups behind Lewis have potential, but none have demonstrated the skill set to be ready to step in and replace Lewis or the departed Julius Thomas as a pass-catching tight end. Should the Jaguars trade down with their No. 4 overall pick, Alabama's O.J. Howard becomes a popular choice to be the team's first-round pick.

      --5. Quarterback: If Jacksonville doesn't make a trade with the No. 4 overall pick and thus only has one pick in each of the first four rounds, taking a quarterback in the fifth round will probably not happen unless they like someone so much and he's fallen this far in the draft. They basically did that a year ago when they liked Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen enough that they selected him with a sixth-round pick. While Allen didn't appear in any games in his rookie season, the Jaguars feel he's still a project in the works. The Jaguars would like to have a quarterback in camp that could push Blake Bortles. Veteran backup Chad Henne is not that guy, nor does it appear that Allen is ready to do so. Bringing in someone young with talent may be the only way to go to push Bortles.

      Best fit

      --Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: Thomas has outstanding athleticism with both power and quickness. At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, he could add another 10 pounds to make it even tougher for opposing linemen to block. He is relentless when it comes to run or pass and has the skillset to fight off blockers. He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and could be a standout for the next decade. Some say the downside is that his size makes him a "tweener" where he might struggle to keep weight on to play inside and that at 6-foot-3 he doesn't have the length to hold his own on the outside. But the arrow appears to be decisively pointing up for Thomas and how his skills would fit in with the Jaguars' 4-3 scheme. Jonathan Allen might be the better overall player, but there are concerns about his past with injuries. Thomas thus gets the nod over Allen if the Jaguars have their choice of the two defensive standouts.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Splashy signings in free agency suggest the Jaguars are looking for an immediate difference-maker with this pick. The Cowboys went from last to first in the NFC during the regular season a year ago in large part because of the stellar play of 2016 No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott and the Jaguars could see a similar bounce with Fournette taking the pressure off young Blake Bortles and the passing game. Fournette was not as impressive in workouts as expected, but he is a freakish talent, boasting the most exciting combination of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.

      --Dane Brugler: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU. The Jaguars added Barry Church in free agency, but that shouldn't stop them from adding a player like Adams, who would give Jacksonville another potential Pro Bowler on defense.

      --Pat Kirwan: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. If a runner is the want, this one has the talent to be one of the best in a decade.

      (Kirwan, Jim Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Depending on who is available, my preferences at this spot would be running back Leonard Fournette, LSU, or defensive end Solomon Thomas, Stanford -- in that order.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Indianapolis Colts on the clock at No. 15
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

    • When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Indianapolis Colts have the No. 15 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Rush outside linebacker: Despite all the Colts' free agency moves to infuse more talent on defense this offseason, finding an athletic, young, play-making outside rush linebacker remains the top priority for the Indianapolis front office during the draft. If the Colts could find two rookie rush outside linebackers in this draft, so much the better.

      --2. Cornerback: Indianapolis needs to find depth at cornerback in this draft. Indianapolis could come up with a potential long-term starter at the position, which would really help Ballard's defensive remodeling. The Colts need more playmakers in the secondary.

      --3. Running back: With Frank Gore on the back end of his NFL career, don't be surprised if the Colts try to find a long-term replacement at running back. Veteran Robert Turbin was re-signed this offseason, but he's not expected to be the eventual replacement for Gore in the Indianapolis offense. Finding the right young running back who can pass block as well as be a dependable receiver out of the backfield is just as important as their running skills.

      --4. Inside linebacker: Indianapolis was active in the veteran free agency market this offseason and added several pieces to the team's inside linebacking group. But coming up with a couple rookie inside linebackers who are athletic and skilled enough to push the veterans would be nice.

      --5. Defensive line: Again, the Colts have been busy this offseason in the veteran free agency market as they have tried to improve the overall depth and skills along the defensive line. Indianapolis, though, wants to get younger and more athletic in the trenches. Playmakers are needed.

      Best fit

      --OLB Derek Barnett, Tennessee: The Colts need immediate help at rush outside linebacker. While trying to add help through free agency to the rest of the defense during this offseason, Indianapolis is in dire need of a young, athletic outside pass rusher who can also handle the responsibilities in pass coverage. The Colts pick 15th overall in the first round and Barnett is expected to still be available at that point of the draft.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. The Colts have needs all over the defense and could see the versatile and explosive Reddick as immediate help at a number of positions. Reddick recorded 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks as an edge rusher for the Owls in 2016 before wowing first at the Senior Bowl as a more traditional linebacker at the Senior Bowl and then at the Combine, recording a ridiculous 4.52 second time in the 40-yard dash and 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump at 6-foot-1, 234 pounds.

      --Dane Brugler: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. Coming from Kansas City, new Colts general manager Chris Ballard understands the impact of speed on defense and that is exactly what Reddick offers. He can line up inside or outside and give position flexibility to drop in coverage or blitz.

      --Jim Miller: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. No surprise here from a former quarterback who is always looking for more time to pass the bal.

      (Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: If the Colts' top need is a pass rusher, versatile linebacker Haason Reddick, Temple, is an intriguing prospect. He arrived as a 185-pound walk-on and as he became bigger and tougher he was guilty of aggravated assault -- literally (off-campus fight, 2015) -- which opponents witnessed last season when he collected 22.5 tackles for a loss, including 10.5 sacks.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Houston Texans on the clock at No. 25
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

    • When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Houston Texans have the No. 25. pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Quarterback: This remains the top need for a struggling offense that unloaded an ineffective Brock Osweiler and his $72 million contract in a trade to the Browns. The Texans are expected to draft a quarterback especially after the decision by Tony Romo to retire. For now, their top option under center is Tom Savage.

      --2. Defensive back: The Texans lost starters A.J. Bouye and Quintin Demps during free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, respectively. Bouye emerged as a shutdown corner last season. Demps led all safeties with six interceptions. Replacing them will likely involve cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph getting healthier and likely drafting a few defensive backs.

      --3. Tackle: The offensive line, especially right tackle, is a vulnerable area. It's dangerously thin with Derek Newton not expected back this season after tearing both patellar tendons last season. Chris Clark was not good as his replacement. The Texans are evaluating several college tackles, including Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson and are likely to draft a tackle at some point. They could also use help at guard. Neither Xavier Su'a-Filo or Jeff Allen was particularly stout last season.

      --4. Running back: Lamar Miller wore down at the end of a productive season. There really isn't a quality backup capable of spelling him for long on the roster currently, including Alfred Blue. The Texans have been looking at running backs, including Pitt's James Conner visiting.

      --5. Defensive tackle: Although D.J. Reader shapes up as a sure-fire replacement for Vince Wilfork, they still need depth at the position. They have been evaluating several defensive linemen, including North Carolina's Nazair Jones.

      Best fit

      --QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: The Texans have a glaring need at quarterback after trading away Brock Osweiler to the Browns and Tony Romo opting to go to CBS as an analyst rather than play for them. They currently have Tom Savage, who is prone to injuries, atop the depth chart. They need to identify a quarterback for the future and Mahomes fits the bill. He has a strong arm and is instinctive, but needs polish and time to develop.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Getting rid of the colossal Osweiler contract was a relief in itself, but unless a veteran replacement is found, quarterback is now the top priority again in Houston. Watson's ability to deliver in the clutch intrigues scouts, but he also threw an FBS-worst 30 interceptions over the past two seasons, making him a polarizing player in the scouting community. At this point in the draft, however, general manager Rick Smith might see him as simply too talented to pass up.

      --Dane Brugler: Ryan Ramcyzk, OT, Wisconsin. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Texans need to invest in offensive line help to have any hope at a passing game. Ramczyk should continue the long, successful pipeline of Wisconsin blockers to the NFL.

      --Jim Miller: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech. As an ex-quarterback, Miller's explanation on this key pick should be interesting, so check out the accompanying video.

      (Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Quarterback is the obvious need. Although there is a lot of negativity about this class, there are a dozen teams that list the position as a top-three need. So if one goes earlier than expected, you can count on nervous teams making a run on the position. If that means Jim Miller's pick, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, is gone, I believe the Texans may have a shot at one of the more overlooked talents in the draft -- Cal quarterback Davis Webb. He can throw the ball as well as anybody in the draft and most of the starters in the NFL. He is still developing as a passer, but has the knack to fit the ball where it belongs.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons on the clock at No. 31
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 20, 2017

    This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

    • When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Atlanta Falcons have the No. 31 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Defensive end: The Falcons are looking for a traditional base 4-3 defensive end who has some pass-rush ability. They'd like to play him opposite of Vic Beasley in passing situations. The team has worked out Tennessee's Derek Barnett and UCLA's Takkarist McKinley. They could also address this need later in the draft, which is considered to be deep. Defensive line coach Bryant Young worked out Ohio University's Tarell Basham.

      --2. Right guard: The Falcons have heavily scouted Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp with an eye toward converting him to guard. With the retirement of Chris Chester, the Falcons are in need of interior offensive line help. Also, center Alex Mack is 31 and left guard Andy Levitre is 30. The Falcons could select Lamp or Dan Feeney in the first round of the draft if they are available. Protecting quarterback Matt Ryan is the franchise's No. 1 goal as he enters what should be the prime of his career.

      --3. Tight end: The position is key to the Falcons' passing attack and they've scouted Mississippi tight end Evan Engram. The Falcons drafted Austin Hooper last season and re-signed Levine Toilolo. They elected not to re-sign Jacob Tamme. Joshua Perkins, who played for new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian at Washington, showed some promise in a limited role last season.

      --4. Free safety: Michigan's versatile Jabrill Peppers could be an intriguing prospect for the Falcons to take early. The draft is deep in defensive back talent. Converted free safety Ricardo Allen has been steady, but not spectacular.

      --5. Kicker: Matt Bryant is on the other side of 40 and will not kick forever. In the later rounds, the Falcons could make a move in order to find his replacement.

      See NFLDraftScout.com research on 2016 stats, record, key personnel moves, previous picks.

      Reset; Going Deep

      Best fit

      --T.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: The younger brother of NFL players J.J. Watt (three-time defensive player of the year) and Derek Watt (Chargers' fullback) will be available when the Falcons select with the 31st overall pick in the draft. At first glance Watt, a converted tight end, appears to be a first-round reach. He thrived for one season in Wisconsin's 3-4 defense when he finished with 63 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles last season. Watt, who is 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds, needs to get stronger and has an injury history the Falcons must investigate. He has the frame to add the weight and a huge upside as a potentially sturdy and versatile pass rusher.

      He went to Wisconsin from suburban Milwaukee in 2013 and red-shirted as a tight end. In 2014, he missed the season with a right knee injury. He then injured the left knee in the spring of 2015. In the summer of 2015, he was moved to outside linebacker and gradually became comfortable at his new position. While some scouts believe that Watt would have benefited from returning to school for another year, others like his upside as a potential game-wrecking pass rusher.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Budda Baker, FS, Washington. After surrendering a Super Bowl record 466 passing yards to Tom Brady, no one should be surprised if the Falcons opt to reinforce the secondary. At just 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Baker does not possess ideal size but Dan Quinn has previously been willing to overlook that at free safety with the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Ricardo Allen currently starting in Atlanta and previously working with Earl Thomas (5-foot-10, 202) in Seattle. Baker has more range and quickness than Allen, projecting as a traditional centerfielder who can drop down to help at nickel, as well.

      --Dane Brugler: Tyus Bowser, DE, Houston. Misused in Houston's defensive scheme, Bowser has tweener size, but his athleticism, power and juice off the edge are the type of traits that NFL coaches want to develop.

      --Jim Miller: Taco Charlton, DE Michigan.

      (Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Agree with Miller. Vidauntae "Taco" Charlton can fill a need. He was only a one-year starter because he was lost on a talented roster and his talents fit the four-man line Michigan switched to last season. Plenty of untapped talent gives him upside to count on.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

      2017 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers on the clock at No. 8

      This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

      By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com

      When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Carolina Panthers have the No. 8 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Running back: With the Panthers planning to wean quarterback Cam Newton out of the run game, they need more than just the 30-year-old Jonathan Stewart in their backfield.

      2. Tackle: Even after giving left tackle Matt Kalil big money, the Panthers' tackle situation isn't ideal. Michael Oher will slide to the right side, as long as he's cleared from a concussion that cost him 13 games in 2016.

      --3. Defensive end: If this were 2012, pairing Julius Peppers with Charles Johnson would be a great start. But it's 2017, and the Panthers need to plan for their future pass rush.

      --4. Safety: The Panthers are so frustrated with 2015 fourth-round pick Tre Boston, they added 14-year veteran Mike Adams in a move that will likely squeeze Boston out of a starting spot.

      --5. Quarterback: The last quarterback the Panthers drafted was Cam Newton in 2011. He's obviously their present and future, but Carolina should start planning for better backup options than Derek Anderson and Joe Webb.

      See NFLDraftScout.com research on 2016 stats, record, key personnel moves, previous picks.

      Reset; Going Deep

      Best Fit

      --RB Leonard Fournette, Louisiana State: The Panthers, who head into the draft with eight choices, have made it no secret they'll be coming out of the weekend with a running back or two. They've been in love with Fournette's power and potential the entire pre-draft process and the big back is their ideal choice at No. 8. The thought of Fournette in the same backfield as quarterback Cam Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart makes Carolina coaches salivate and would make opposing coaches very nervous.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford. Though he is far from the only one to blame for Carolina's woes on offense, the Panthers' slip last season in running the ball puts the spotlight once again on Jonathan Stewart's struggles with durability. The 13th overall pick of the 2008 draft has only played in 16 regular-season games three times over his nine-year career and not since 2011. Pairing him with a dynamic runner, receiver and returner like McCaffrey could be the perfect fit - and one made easier with Carolina hiring assistant coach Lance Murphy, who spent the past three coaching McCaffrey at Stanford.

      --Dane Brugler: Leonard Fournette, RB, Louisiana State. Veteran Jonathan Stewart averaged only 3.8 yards per rush and reached the 100-yard mark in only one game last season, his ninth in the NFL. Fournette is a freak talent who would instantly add juice to the Panthers' offense.

      --Pat Kirwan: Carolina trades this pick to Buffalo, which takes Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

      (Kirwan, Jim Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Whether Cam Newton is being shafted by officials that won't call penalties when he is unnecessarily pounded is semantics. He is being blasted too much as a quarterback and as a runner. So let's get a young running back to carry the rock. There are some good ones worthy of a top-10 pick in this draft, so take the BRA (Best Runner available). Louisiana State's Leonard Fournette will demand seven in the box on defense and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey brings a lot of versatility as a runner, receiver and returner.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

      2017 NFL Draft: Saints on the clock at Nos. 11, 32

      This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

      By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com

      When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the New Orleans Saints have the No. 11 and No. 32 picks in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Defensive end: The Saints, who had just 30 sacks last season, re-signed Darryl Tapp and brought in Alex Okafor, but may still want to add a young, speedy pass rusher to pair with steady two-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan.

      --2. Cornerback: If the Saints cannot swing a deal to acquire a veteran corner before the draft, they're likely to go for one with the 11th or 32nd pick. They could also wait until the second round to pluck one from a deep talent pool.

      --3. Running back: With Mark Ingram having another good season, the Saints feel somewhat better about this position. Yet, they need a second one to replace Tim Hightower and spell Ingram, who has had injury problems in the past.

      --4. Quarterback: While Drew Brees has shown no signs of slowing down, he's 38 and is entering the final year of his contract. The Saints could very well feel the need to pull the trigger and find his successor if the right one is there.

      --5. Tackle: Zach Strief, who has started on the right side since 2011, is entering his 12th season. Andrus Peat was drafted in the first round in 2015 to replace Strief one day, but may keep him at left guard after making strides last year.

      See NFLDraftScout.com research on 2016 stats, record, key personnel moves, previous picks.

      Reset; Going Deep

      Best fits

      --No. 11: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee: With only 30 sacks last season, the Saints desperately need some power and speed on the edge to line up opposite Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan. The 6-foot-3, 259-pound Barnett would fill the bill. Barnett is the next-best defensive end on the draft board behind Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas and his 33 sacks and 52 tackles for loss in just three seasons at Tennessee have to make him an attractive target for the Saints.

      --No. 32: CB Tre'Davious White, LSU: In head coach Sean Payton's first 11 drafts, the Saints have taken only one player (Al Woods in 2010) from right up the road in Baton Rouge. But if they stay in the 32nd spot, they may not be able to resist grabbing him. White is a sturdy, physical 5-foot-11, 192-pounder who can cover with his 4.47 speed. He's played mostly outside during his four-year career, but also got some experience as the nickel back this past season.

      The picks will be ...

      --Rob Rang: No. 11: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan. The Saints ranked 27th in the NFL a year ago with just 30 sacks, a real concern given the quarterback talent in the NFC South. Help is on the way with former Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Alex Okafor, but he signed only a one-year deal. It took a while for the light to come on for Charlton at Michigan, but he led the Big Ten in sacks a year ago in his first season as a full-time starter. Boasting a terrific combination of burst, bend and length, Charlton has Pro Bowl potential.

      --No. 32: Adoree Jackson, CB, Southern Cal. The Saints ranked dead last in pass defense in 2016 and may opt to trade this or another pick for New England Patriots star cornerback Malcolm Butler in an attempt to fix the issue. Until that occurs, adding talent in the secondary is likely New Orleans' top priority. The reigning Thorpe Award winner is raw, but is a natural playmaker with the speed and ball skills New Orleans is currently lacking in the secondary and in the return game.

      --Dane Brugler: No. 11: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama. Projecting as either a MIKE or WILL linebacker in the NFL, Foster hits anything that moves with the closing burst and aggressive mindset to create violent collisions at contact. His Combine incident has teams scrambling for more information, but the tape shows a player worthy of this selection.

      --No. 32: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame. At 38 years old, Drew Brees, who is entering a contract year, is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, but how long will that last? And do the Saints wish to find out? Kizer needs time to sit and learn, but he has the highest ceiling of any of this year's quarterback prospects.

      --Jim Miller: No. 11: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee.

      --Pat Kirwan: No. 32: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado.

      (Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Drew Brees needs help. He can't keep running up video game numbers to outscore opponents. Let's get some defense. At No. 11, Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan, should help the Saints' pathetic pass rush and, at No. 32, Chidobe Awuzie of Colorado is one of several excellent cornerbacks who should be available.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

      2017 NFL Draft: Tampa Bay Bucs on the clock at No. 19

      This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

      By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com

      When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the No. 9 pick in the first round.

      Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

      Who would you pick and why?

      Top five needs

      --1. Defensive back: The Bucs used their first-round pick last season on Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Could they double up? Sure. Veteran Brent Grimes will be 34 in July, and even though the Bucs think he has a lot in the tank after tying for the team lead with four interceptions last season, his eventual replacement isn't on the roster. The Bucs also have a need at safety despite signing Cowboys free agent J.J. Wilcox and bringing back Chris Conte.

      --2. Running back: Doug Martin will miss the first three games. He is 28 and has been injured three of his five seasons. The Bucs re-signed Jacquizz Rodgers and both Charles Sims and Peyton Barber return. But the Bucs won't commit to Martin for 2017 and his contract is no longer guaranteed. With a deep draft at running back, it would not be surprising if the Bucs used an early-round pick on one such as Dalvin Cook.

      --3. Safety: The Bucs re-signed veteran Chris Conte and signed Cowboys free agent J.J. Wilcox. But those aren't long-term solutions. Neither has the kind of range in the passing game coordinator Mike Smith needs in his defense. A safety with speed who can make plays on the ball is needed.

      --4. Defensive end: The Bucs still are looking for an outside pass rusher to complement defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Noah Spence, the team's second-round pick a year ago, showed promise with 5.5 sacks as a rookie despite playing with a separated shoulder. The Bucs re-signed defensive end William Gholston, but he is a run stopper with only three sacks a year ago. A bookend pass rusher opposite Spence would fit the need.

      --5. Wide receiver: This might not seem as big of a need with the signing of DeSean Jackson. However, the Bucs lost one of their wideouts when Russell Shepard signed with Carolina. Adam Humphries is strictly a slot receiver. At some point, they have to develop somebody to play opposite Mike Evans.

      See NFLDraftScout.com research on 2016 stats, record, key personnel moves, previous picks.

      Reset; Going Deep

      Best fit

      --RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: The Bucs refuse to commit to Doug Martin, who will miss the first three games of 2017 serving a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs. His salary is no longer guaranteed. The team also re-signed Jacquizz Rodgers. But Cook would guarantee a needed component for the Bucs and quarterback Jameis Winston, his former Seminoles teammate. Cook is a three-down running back, a bell cow the Bucs really lack with explosive speed, power and the ability to make plays in the passing game. Kicker Roberto Aguayo may have been a miss in the second round a year ago, but Winston will lobby hard for Cook.

      The pick will be ...

      --Rob Rang: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State. With Doug Martin facing a three-game suspension for PED use and coming off his third injury-shortened season, the Bucs understandably could be looking for help at running back. Reuniting Cook with former Florida State teammate Jameis Winston could be the perfect solution. Cook has off-field and durability concerns of his own, but he is an ideal fit in this offense as a slashing runner with terrific hands.

      --Dane Brugler: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut. Tampa Bay has shown plenty of interest in Melifonwu, a player who can wear several hats in the secondary. His tape wasn't nearly as impressive as his testing numbers, but teams can't teach his athletic skill-set.

      --Jim Miller: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan. Check video for explanation.

      (Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

      --Frank Cooney, IMO: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut. This guy is fascinating, with rare athletic ability that can help overcome all those exotic mismatches that offenses attempt.

      Your chance to go on the record

      OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.