PHILADELPHIA -- With the draft finally over, the Philadelphia Eagles begin preparing for minicamps and OTAs over the next two months.
Here is a look at the defensive side of their depth chart after a busy offseason:
The Eagles seem a little thin here, especially coming out of a draft where depth on the defensive line was considered exceptional.
The only question about Cox is whether the team will be able to complete a new megacontract with him before the season starts. After three years as a 3-4 defensive end, the Pro Bowler will get a chance to play where he feels most comfortable.
And you can bet defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will find new and exciting ways to use his best player.
Logan and Allen face similar challenges. They were drafted to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Now they will have to adjust to playing in a 4-3. That can be disorienting but it can also be freeing. In a 4-3, there is more space and more opportunity for DTs to make plays.
Hart was an Oregon player drafted by Chip Kelly. He will have an uphill battle to establish himself as a 4-3 player for Schwartz. But the impression Schwartz created is that every player will get a fair chance to find a place on his defense.
Most of these guys were outside linebackers under Chip Kelly. Some have experience as defensive ends, some don’t. A few were defensive ends trying to find homes in the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme.
There are a few interesting cases here. Marcus Smith, the underwhelming first-round pick from 2014, never established himself as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. With a fresh start and a new defense, can he remake himself as a Wide 9 defensive end?
Barwin was an effective outside linebacker with some experience playing end. Can his versatility translate as a 4-3 end? Can he be an even better pass-rusher if he’s freed from the coverage responsibilities that come with being a linebacker?
Graham and Curry were defensive ends before Kelly got here. Graham lost weight and made the transition to linebacker. Curry became a reserve end. Both have been signed to new contracts and will get a chance to rush the quarterback as defensive ends. It is what they do best.
This is perhaps the thinnest position group on the roster right now, partly because six outside linebackers migrated over to defensive end. The Eagles also parted with DeMeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso from last year’s rotation.
Linebackers play a slightly different role in Schwartz’s scheme. His front four will be aggressively trying to get upfield and disrupt things in the backfield. That means both against the run and the pass.
It will be up to the linebackers to make sure things don’t get by them. That means a lot of gap responsibility in the run game and the ability to cover backs and tight ends in the quick passing game.
Bradham was an underrated pickup this offseason. He played for Schwartz in Buffalo and understands the linebackers’ role in the defense. With Bradham on one side and Kendricks returning to a 4-3 on the other, the Eagles should be able to make the transition fairly smoothly.
With the release of Ryans, Hicks becomes the middle linebacker. It is a big job for a young player, but Hicks shows every sign of being able to handle it. Goode and seventh-round pick Joe Walker will compete for time on the inside.
This has been a problem area for the Eagles for years. With Jenkins and McLeod, they hope they have locked up two solid players for the foreseeable future. Either way, they will be the starters in 2016.
Maragos has been an effective special-teams player. He will have to fend off challenges there from 2016 draft picks Mills and Countess. Both of them will serve as understudies to Jenkins and McLeod, but will have to find playing time on special teams.
The Eagles added McKelvin, who is 30, in free agency. He joins Carroll, 29, as the two most senior members of the team’s cornerback group.
Otherwise, the Eagles are hoping a group of young players can develop into effective players. Rowe, last year’s second-round pick, showed flashes as a rookie. But everything the Eagles did in the secondary has to be viewed skeptically. The defense simply didn’t give cornerbacks much chance to thrive.
Schwartz is a big believer that a team can’t have too many cornerbacks. The question here is whether he has enough.
Rowe, Carroll and McKelvin will compete for the starting positions, including the nickel corner job.
Shepherd, who tore his ACL last summer, was showing promise in his first training camp. He will get a fresh start with fresh eyes on him this summer.
Rice made the team as an undrafted free agent last year. Grymes was signed out of the Canadian Football League and will get a chance to earn a spot.
Brooks is a contender to play in the nickel and on special teams. Watkins, going into his third year, is another young player who could blossom in Schwartz’s scheme.
Cousins said on 106.7 The Fan Monday morning that he was content playing on the franchise tag for one season, earning $19.95 million.
“If I don’t play well next season, I don’t deserve to be back,” Cousins said. “I don’t deserve a long-term deal. So I want to go out and earn it.”
Cousins said much the same thing earlier this offseason to ESPN’s Jim Trotter. And it was clear from the start that he was OK with the tag, which is one reason he signed it shortly after it was applied.
The bottom line on this one is that Cousins’ side would like approximately $20 million per season while the Redskins remain in the $16 million-a-year range. The only way to get a deal done is for Washington to meet Cousins’ price. There’s no reason at this point for him to come down if this is what he considers the market for himself. If he fails to prove himself, his price tag will decrease.
The Redskins have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. The Redskins will have enough cap space next year to absorb a big deal, even with corner Josh Norman counting $20 million against the cap, thanks in part to Chris Culliver being released on Monday.
“The optimism is great,” Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said. “I want him on the team for a long time, a long-term deal. It’s a two-sided part, with the agent and with us. To a man, players and coaches we want him here on a long-term deal. But you can’t force it. They have to agree.
“But he’s our leader on offense, he’s our quarterback. We won the NFC East last year. That’s pretty cool. That’s what we need, we need those types of guys. But you can’t go crazy because it’s about 53 players, not one. That’s what we keep preaching.”
That’s the same message McCloughan delivered at the Senior Bowl and it’s one he’s maintained throughout the offseason. The Redskins want to do a smart deal for them and remain reluctant to pay him $20 million a year. They want to see more and they’ll be unable to do so until the season begins. And Cousins still wants to maximize his market. Really, it’s tough to blame either side, especially when it’s only early May. Yes, both sides want a long-term deal, but until one side alters their position nothing will change.
IRVING, Texas – If you need any more convincing that Jerry Jones believes the Dallas Cowboys will be contenders in 2016 then the draft gives you more proof.
The Cowboys had more pressing needs than to take running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round with the fourth overall pick. The Cowboys had more pressing needs than to take a linebacker in the second round with the 34th overall pick.
And then there’s the move the Cowboys didn’t make that speaks more to the future than the present. Jerry Jones badly wanted to trade back into the first round to take quarterback Paxton Lynch and they would have hoped he didn’t see the field for two or three seasons.
In free agency the Cowboys’ biggest signing was defensive tackle Cedric Thornton at four years, $17 million. They added defensive end Benson Mayowa in restricted free agency on a modest deal and re-signed a slew of their own, such as Rolando McClain, Morris Claiborne, James Hanna and Jack Crawford.
If Jones felt as if he were presiding over a team in need of a quick makeover – or even a rebuild project – he could have done more.
“To the extent that we can interpret the picks that we made, as to how I felt when I said we are closer to the year we had [in 2014] than last year then you can interpret it that way,” Jones said.
The way Jones looks at it no team will have a bigger boost in talent than the Cowboys with a fully healthy Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick. Romo played in two full games last year. Bryant played in nine games and was never at full strength, entering the year with a hamstring strain before breaking his right foot. Scandrick missed the entire season with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
Without question Elliott can help the Cowboys win now, but the Cowboys had Darren McFadden rush for 1,089 yards and signed Alfred Morris as a free agent. They could have gotten buy without Elliott and been fine with the running game.
But if it’s clear Jones feels the Cowboys are not a 4-12 team then it’s clear they want to recapture what they had in 2014. They want to feature Elliott as the centerpiece the way they featured DeMarco Murray, who ran for 1,845 yards.
“We feel it gives us a chance to help our defense. We don’t necessarily subscribe to the fact that this is a pure offensive pick,” Jones said. “We think this could add 10-12 plays to the game each week on the offensive side of the ball. That was one of the things that impressed me about the player.”
It can help the defense stay fresh, but it doesn’t help them rush the passer, unless you count fresh middling pass rushers as better than talented pass rushers. But there should be a word of caution about a successful running game. If it doesn’t lead to points, it does not matter. In 2014, the Cowboys scored more than 30 points nine times. In their last four games they scored at least 38 points each time.
Playing with a lead led more to the Cowboys defense finishing second in the league in takeaways in 2014 than any sort of inordinate playmakers.
“Last year at times they played a little keep-away against us and we couldn’t get the stop when we had a chance to win the game,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “I think that is everything. Once you get a lead on offense, you take away their teams running game by points. Then I think you can pin your ears back and affect the quarterback.”
That was the formula that worked so well for the Cowboys two years ago. It’s the one they want to emulate in 2016. And it’s why Jones has approached the entire offseason like he has.
“We are back in the two years ago business,” Jones said. “We are back in the expectations, leaving last year into this year.”
IRVING, Texas – If Jerry Jones were a fisherman, he would love telling stories about the one that got away.
"I really have added it up, and you all don't need philosophy here but ... when I look back on my life I've overpaid for my big successes every time, and when I've tried to get a bargain or get a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it or missing [it]," Jones said.
"I probably should have overpaid here."
And shouldn’t that make second-round pick Jaylon Smith and third-round pick Maliek Collins happy. Jones was willing to give up the Cowboys’ selections in those two rounds to take Lynch, whom the Cowboys hoped wouldn’t see the field for at least two seasons with Tony Romo as the starter.
Smith won’t see the field in 2016 either as he recovers from a serious knee injury. Collins could be a starter early in the season if the club decides to move Tyrone Crawford to defensive end during the absences of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence.
By taking Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, the Cowboys showed they want to get back to the formula that worked so well in 2014. By wistfully wondering about Lynch, Jones is harkening back to another 2014 moment.
He could not get over the fact the Cowboys passed on Johnny Manziel with the 16th pick in the draft. The talk got so ridiculous that a picture of Stephen Jones literally diving across the draft table to intercept the draft card was painted. Two problems: The Cowboys don’t actually write draft cards at Valley Ranch, and the omnipresent draft-room camera never caught this scene.
In the days, weeks and months that followed Jones sounded disappointed in not landing Manziel. He loved everything about Manziel. The brashness. The Heisman Trophy. The marketing opportunities.
Manziel busted with the Cleveland Browns and, from the outside, his life appears to be spiraling out of control. Last week Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on a misdemeanor charge stemming from a domestic violence complaint by his ex-girlfriend.
Meanwhile the player the Cowboys drafted 16th overall in the first round, guard Zack Martin, has played in the Pro Bowl his first two seasons and generally is considered one of the best at his position in the NFL.
But many believe the Cowboys will take a chance on Manziel at some point. Jones’ affinity for Manziel is that strong even if the quarterback’s on-field performance was, to be kind, spotty.
Multiple times Jones has been asked about Manziel this offseason, including over the weekend.
“I don’t have any sense of how I feel right now other than I just really like him and know him and like him,” Jones said. “I really appreciate all the positive things he’s done while at A&M, what he did as a Heisman Trophy winner and what he is about [in] football. We have that in common. Consequently it really makes me dwell on him getting things in better shape for him so he can do not just football but anything. That’s because I have an appreciation for what he did do. You can’t take that away from him. He really did something special for A&M, football and for all of us. We’ll worry about the future later.”
The Denver Broncos landed Lynch in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. He could be their starter this year if he proves better than Mark Sanchez. The Cowboys thought Lynch needed the most time of the top quarterbacks to develop before getting on the field.
With Lynch, they felt he would have been worth the time.
But now he’s a member of the Broncos the way Manziel was a member of the Browns.
Jones needs to let it go.
So has coach Jason Garrett.
That's why the Cowboys made Mississippi State's Dak Prescott just the third quarterback the club has drafted since 2001 and the first since 2009.
Hip, hip hooray. Pour some champagne. Light a stogey.
Just understand, you shouldn't view Prescott as Romo's eventual successor. Since 2000, only six of the 118 quarterbacks drafted in the fourth round and beyond have started at least 25 games
If Prescott becomes a valuable backup -- the kind of player who can go 2-2 if he has to play for a month -- and earns a second contract then he'll have been a terrific pick. If he eventually becomes the Cowboys' starter, then it's phenomenal pick.
“A great leader, positively impacted everybody there, has played big in big games and has done a lot of really good things on the field,” Garrett said of Prescott. “Physically, he is big. He is strong. He can throw it. He can run. He is a very experienced player.
“Again, he is developmental from the standpoint that he is young and he has to learn how we want to do things, but there are a lot of tools there and a lot of great character qualities that you love.”
For most franchises, drafting a quarterback doesn't warrant a celebration because they do it fairly frequently.
Not the Cowboys.
They've ignored the position for so long they had no choice but to aggressively pursue a quarterback in the draft. In true Jerry Jones fashion, once he made up his mind to take a quarterback he was willing to sacrifice the heart of this draft to do it.
The Cowboys offered Seattle its picks in the second (No. 34 overall) and third round (No. 67) for the No. 26 pick. But Denver offered Seattle a swap of first-round picks, plus a third-round pick (No. 94).
“When I look back on my life, I overpaid for my big successes every time,” Jerry said. “And when I tried to get a bargain, get it a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it. Or missing it.
“And I probably should have overpaid here.”
The Cowboys tried to move up in the fourth round and acquire Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, but Oakland swapped fourth-round picks and gave the Browns a fifth-round pick, something the Cowboys didn’t have.
So the Cowboys settled on Prescott, a player they met with individually at least three times.
Romo has been so good for so long that the Cowboys haven't needed a young quarterback to compete with him. They've relied on veteran backups because they wanted players capable of winning important games at the end of the season, if necessary.
But their three quarterbacks not named Romo went 1-11 last season. Combine that with Romo's age and the Cowboys felt compelled to draft a quarterback.
They did all the research, working out most of the top quarterbacks before deciding Lynch, Cook and Prescott were the players they coveted at the game's most important position since Jared Goff and Carson Wentz weren't available. They were taken at No. 1 and No. 2 in the draft to Los Angeles and Philadelphia, respectively.
Prescott has all the physical tools you want in a quarterback and at 6-foot-2 and 225 he's thick enough to take the physical pounding.
He spent five years on Mississippi State's campus and threw 1,169 passes, so he's seen a lot of coverages.
At Mississippi State, he passed for 9,376 yards with 70 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
One criticism is that he needs to improve his accuracy because the throwing windows are considerably smaller in the NFL than in college.
The Cowboys also hope working with Romo and seeing how he attacks the job daily will make Prescott a better player.
“I’m not saying Romo is going to be having midnight sessions with [Prescott],” said Jerry, “but I think [Aaron] Rodgers benefitted from being around [Brett] Favre.
“He saw things in Favre’s game that could complement his game, and this is what motivated me to go ahead and get somebody on campus. He can learn a lot from Romo through osmosis.”
Romo has four years left on his contract, but he broke his collarbone twice last year and he's had two back surgeries in the past three years.
At this point of his career, you can't expect him to play 16 games. With Prescott on the roster, maybe, it won't be a disaster if Romo can't play.
And they held the fourth pick in the draft.
That’s how good a healthy Smith is. Or was.
And in Smith’s mind, how good he will be.
Smith, recovering from torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, plus the damage to the peroneal nerve, called this the best time of his life even if it would seem otherwise.
“Because I’m going to be fine,” Smith said. “I’ll be able to play again. It’s just timing. Timing is everything and for Dallas to draft me, they’re going to get a great player. I’m looking forward to playing for a great team.”
The Cowboys’ first rounder, Ezekiel Elliott, might be one of the early favorites for rookie of the year, but Smith holds the key to the Cowboys’ draft. If, or when, the nerve regenerates, then the Cowboys believe they have a cornerstone player for their defense for years to come. It just won’t happen in 2016, no matter the optimism Smith has or owner and general manager Jerry Jones have.
Jones said he is “ready to take the pain for the gain on Smith because the upside is so big.”
“He jumps off when you watch him,” Jones said. “I don’t care who you are evaluating at Notre Dame, he just jumps off the tape. He is a very impactful player. There is no reason to think that he can’t do it at the pro level. The other thing is that the nature of the question mark here is not uncommon. So, you have every reason to think it can have a positive conclusion and he can continue with a long career relative to this injury, as opposed to a possible limited career.”
Jones is the only general manager secure enough to take a risk like Smith because he also carries ‘owner’ on his business cards. A general manager coming off a 4-12 season truly never would have made the decision Jones made. While other teams would not have taken the same chance on Smith, Jones sees risk in every pick.
For a history lesson, remember Jacob Rogers.
In 2004, the Cowboys drafted Rogers, an offensive tackle, in the second round. He never played an offensive down before he was cut following the 2005 season.
The risk of the unknown with Rogers, to Jones, was the same as the risk of selecting Smith.
“Elliott is a now deal,” Jones said. “And it’ll work for us now. Then you turn around with Smith. He has got some future to it. Both of them give us a chance to get a player that in our mind is in the top four or five in the whole draft. But more importantly really, really foundational players.
“By the way, you say you’ve got that ‘if’ in front of it. Well, realistically you’ve got to put ‘if’ in front of everybody’s first two picks.”
The Cowboys open their rookie mini-camp this week. Smith will be in the meetings but he won’t be on the field. He will be watching and working on his rehab. He will be waiting for the nerve to re-fire fully. So will the Cowboys.
“My experience has been in a lot of cases you want to bet on someone’s ability to come back from injury based on who they are and what they’re all about, how important football is and their work ethic, all of their other character qualities and this guy is off the charts in that area,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You put the tape on he’s one of the best college linebackers I have seen in a long, long time. We put all that together, we valued him very high, we had a lot of honest discussions about what his availability was going to be and it was a really good pick for us at that time.”
If, or when, the nerve re-fires, the Cowboys’ draft looks completely different.
“They’re getting a heck of a player,” Smith said. “A guy who knows his football IQ, very intelligent, but also a playmaker. That’s something that I’ll be able to compliment, be able to pass rush, both sideline to sideline.”
IRVING, Texas -- Anthony Brown waited as long as he could for his name to be called Saturday before he had to drive his girlfriend, Treyvia, to the Tampa airport. She is in the Army and had a flight to Fort Hood to catch.
As Brown, a cornerback from Purdue, pulled up to the terminal, the Dallas Cowboys called.
They had just picked him in the sixth round of the draft.
"It was a Dallas, Texas, number, so I already knew once the call said, because there's only one team in Dallas. But sometimes coaches will call from a different area code," Brown said. "I just had a feeling it was going to be Dallas because I saw through the whole draft that they didn't pick a corner, and I know they needed a corner. And before the draft I had a good feeling."
Brown watched the second and third rounds on Friday, hoping his name would be called. He planted himself in front of the television again on Saturday. He thought he would have gone much earlier than the sixth round.
The Cowboys actually had a fourth-round grade on him.
"I was watching all the picks and more and more I kept falling," Brown said. "My girl had to go to the airport, so I just said I would take her to take my mind off it for a little while. … Someone else could've given her a ride, but I just chose to just give her a ride so I could stop thinking about the draft."
That the Cowboys chose Brown, who had four interceptions last season, seemed almost pre-destined to him. They spoke with him at the East-West Shrine Game as well as at the combine. Secondary coach Joe Baker kept in touch with him as well.
But it goes deeper than that. His mother was a Cowboys fan, so he was a Cowboys fan. He knows all about the secondary from the re-signing of Morris Claiborne to Brandon Carr to the injury Orlando Scandrick suffered last year.
His mother had him watch all the games growing up.
"She'd been a Cowboys fan before I was born," Brown said. "When I was a baby, she has a picture of me in an Emmitt Smith shirt. So that's kind of cool too."
IRVING, Texas -- In the summer between his sophomore and junior year in high school, Charles Tapper was given a choice: Play football or get a job.
His mother, Rhonda, made the demand because she did not want him sitting around the house.
On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys selected Tapper, a defensive end from Oklahoma, in the fourth round.
“I was a basketball player,” Tapper said. “Being from Baltimore, we love basketball. Basketball in our city is huge. It’s like being a rapper or something.”
Tapper was hoping to get cut from football. He initially played wide receiver and he said he purposely ran the wrong routes or dropped passes. He wanted to get back to the basketball court.
Then he was introduced to Cory Robinson, co-founder of Next Level Nation, a Maryland-based company designed to help athletes on the field and off. Robinson asked Tapper a simple question.
“He asked me if I wanted to drive a Honda or a Lamborghini,” Tapper said.
If he stuck with basketball, he could drive a Honda. If he moved to football, he could drive a Lamborghini. Not long after meeting Robinson, Tapper attended the Army All-American Combine in San Antonio in 2011.
He dominated the competition. When he got home, he received a call from Oklahoma assistant Bobby Jack Wright, who offered him a scholarship. He initially thought it was a basketball offer.
“I performed pretty well, ran well and won a couple of one-on-ones,” Tapper said. “At the time I didn’t have any football film.”
On Saturday, Tapper said he is still raw. He had 15.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss at Oklahoma. He started 38 of his final 39 games and forced four fumbles in 2015, recovering one.
“High motor, raw, passionate,” Tapper said. “I play every play going out like it’s my last. Whatever my coach tells me what to do I’ll do at 110 mph.”
Lamborghinis move fast.
IRVING, Texas -- On March 13, Dak Prescott was arrested on a DUI charge in Starkville, Mississippi, so when he arrived for a visit to the Dallas Cowboys a little more than a month later he knew what was coming.
"It was the elephant in the room," Prescott said. "It's something in the past. It's something that I can guarantee everyone won't happened again. It was a mistake, but it's going to make me a better person and it already has."
The Cowboys researched the situation and clearly felt comfortable in selecting the Mississippi State quarterback in the fourth round on Saturday.
In fact, what drew the Cowboys to Prescott most was his character.
"We all know that we make mistakes," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "Well, you can mitigate those things quicky in your mind because that's where his strength is, in that area of character and judgment and those things. We do feel that it easily let us get by those issues. It's certainly something you should look at with the quarterback spot, but when you really look at it what is impressive is that from everybody around him, the recommendations he got from everybody and the time spent with him, we don't think there's character issues here."
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles selected several players whose draft status was affected by questions about their character. That’s because the team became comfortable with the answers to those questions.
“These guys are college kids and things happen,” Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said. “We were comfortable enough with the circumstances that were described to give (them) a second chance here.”
In the fifth round, the Eagles drafted West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, who was arrested two years ago for intimidating a witness in a murder investigation. No charges were ever filed. More recently, Smallwood’s Twitter account became the focus of post-draft attention because of several inflammatory and immature tweets. Smallwood deleted the account Saturday afternoon.
In the seventh round, the Eagles drafted LSU cornerback Jalen Mills, who had a much higher grade on him from several teams. Mills might have dropped because of an arrest for battery. The charges in that case were dropped.
Later in the seventh round, the Eagles selected Florida defensive end Alex McCalister, who left the team in December under mysterious circumstances.
The Eagles have long avoided drafting players with red flags on their resumes. Roseman said the team drafted these players for two reasons: First, the Eagles were satisfied with the players’ explanations for the events and second, they felt it was worth taking whatever risk there was in the late rounds.
If the players dropped because of the off-the-field concerns, the Eagles could wind up getting better players with late-round picks.
“We didn’t have as many picks earlier in the draft,” Roseman said. “We felt like, later in the draft, taking shots on guys on guys in the seventh round was a priority for us.”
As for the players, their mistakes wound up costing them draft position and the money that comes with it.
“There’s no question that players are going to have to look at their actions to see why they didn’t go where they felt like they should have in the draft,” Roseman said. “It’s very clear that teams are looking at that.
“If you make questionable decisions in your life, it’s affecting you going forward. It’s costing these guys a lot of money. What we hope is that they’re good people and they just made mistakes, like we all do.”
Smallwood admitted that he fell in with a bad crowd back at home in Wilmington, Delaware. One of his friends was accused of murder. Police brought Smallwood in and said he threatened a witness. The friend later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
“I was young, hanging out with the wrong people,” Smallwood said. “I wasn’t involved with whatever happened. There was no evidence, no witness against me. I just learned from the situation and tried to move forward and be a better man.”
The Eagles were aware of Smallwood’s Twitter account before drafting him.
“As part of our research on all our draft picks, we look at social media,” Roseman said. “We are aware of the statements that he made. They were in 2011. A lot has changed between now and then.
“We don’t condone anything he said. We spent a lot of time with him. We feel that this is a good kid.”
Smallwood said he had forgotten about some of the tweets and didn’t expect them to resurface after he was drafted.
“I’m sorry about it if I offended anybody,” Smallwood said. “That’s not how I feel. That’s not the kind of person I am. Hopefully, I can show that. I was embarrassed about how it blew up. I ended up taking it down. I don’t think I’m going to be on it again.”
The Eagles talked to Mills at the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine.
“When we talked to him, he gave us his version of the events,” Roseman said. “We investigated it like we do everything. He’s got to prove himself as he gets here. We were satisfied with the investigation that was done there in Baton Rouge and with the university. We think we know what kind of kid this is.”
Some reports said that McCalister was dismissed from the Florida team late in the season. At the very least, it appears he decided to leave the team after deciding to enter the draft after his junior season.
“Without getting into specifics,” Roseman said, “it was a different circumstance than the other ones. It wasn’t legal. He’s a kid who needed to grow up a little bit. But he’s not a bad person, not a bad kid.”
Ultimately, that’s the tipping point. The Eagles did their research and came away feeling that each of these three draft picks were worth whatever risk there might be.
“We don’t feel like we brought bad people in here,” Roseman said.
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones did not get much sleep after the first round of the draft.
He couldn't get Paxton Lynch out of his head.
The Cowboys attempted to trade back into the first round to select Lynch, working through a number of trades only to see their final attempt with Seattle fall through when the Seahawks agreed to a deal with the Denver Broncos.
"I got to bed about 3 thinking about the Lynch thing, got up at 6 and before the morning was over had talked to six people about how I messed it up," Jones said Saturday. "I was still mad about it the next morning."
The Cowboys offered Seattle their second- and third-round picks, but the Seahawks took the Broncos' first- and third-round selections.
Jones' regret was not sweetening the offer.
"I really have added it up, and you all don't need philosophy here but ... when I look back on my life I've overpaid for my big successes every time, and when I've tried to get a bargain or get a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it or missing [it]," Jones said.
"I probably should have overpaid here."
But as Jones looks back on not making the deal, he sees what the Cowboys gained in taking linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive tackle Maliek Collins with the second- and third-rounders the Seahawks rejected -- especially Smith, who will not play in 2016 as he recovers from a significant knee injury.
"I'm ready to take the pain for the gain on Smith because the upside is so big," Jones said.
The Cowboys attempted to move to the very top of the fourth round Saturday to take Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, but couldn't. The Oakland Raiders moved up in a deal with the Cleveland Browns and took Cook.
"The fact that we didn't get him there, don't interpret that as much with as hard as we worked on Lynch," Jones said. "Those were different intensities, different stakes."
Jones's third swing at a quarterback came through when the Cowboys selected Dak Prescott with their second fourth-round pick. He said the grade on Cook was not much different than the grade on Prescott.
"I liked what we got," Jones said.
ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins entered the draft hoping to add picks and continue finding good players -- even if they didn’t fill an immediate need. They did add picks (next year) and the other half of the equation will be answered in the future.
"We didn't have a lot of glaring needs like, 'Oh my gosh, we're totally incompetent at this position,' " Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "I feel really good about the depth on our football team already. Now the draft is about adding good football players that love to play and are tough and I think we did that. It's a great luxury to have is when you go by the board and Scot [McCloughan] preaches it all the time."
A wrap-up of the draft.
Best move: Going with the best-available-player theory. The Redskins had some other needs and in a deep defensive line draft they would have been applauded for taking one early. But they didn't force it and stuck to their board. That's how they ended up with receiver Josh Doctson in the first round and a guy who could be a big help in the second, linebacker/safety Su'a Cravens. Also, though this draft was considered deep with defensive linemen, and though the Redskins wanted to add picks, it was clear that they wanted them in the future and not this year. Washington picked up three draft choices in 2017 -- in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds -- to give it nine next season at a time when they have some big contracts due. This would enable the Redskins to perhaps add younger, cheaper depth.
Riskiest move: Drafting Kendall Fuller in the third round. It's not really about his ability, but it is about his durability. Fuller is coming off microfracture surgery last season, which is always a tough surgery for an athlete. That doesn't mean he can't come back, but it does make it tougher. The Redskins expect him back by training camp at the latest, and Fuller said he's doing defensive back movements already. This choice, though, could be more about getting a guy who, in 2017, is ready to take on a bigger role. The Redskins could have more of a pressing need for corners at that time, depending on how Chris Culliver recovers from his torn ACL. That doesn't mean Fuller can't help this year if healthy. Really, he's a solid pick but if you have to label one as the most risky? It's him.
Most surprising move: Taking a receiver in the first round. That's not to say it was a bad one because the Redskins really liked Doctson and they did not expect him to fall to where they were picking at No. 21. (They then traded back to No. 22.) So the Redskins themselves didn't think this is where they would go. It's not an immediate need, either. However, there is value in what they did. The Redskins could use what Doctson adds: A taller receiver at 6-foot-2 with great leaping ability. If nothing else, he can help in certain situations -- and he gives the Redskins the ability to use four-receiver sets. And with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both free agents after this season, it's good to have a talented young receiver in place who projects to a starter.
File it away: Seventh-round linebacker Steven Daniels will be a lower-round pick to watch in the future; he’s a good run defender. But perhaps one player who could come out of nowhere to help now is seventh-round running back Keith Marshall because of his blazing speed. It's real hard to see him as a starter, but his impact would be in a role where he's a backup who is capable of long gains.
Thumbs up: The Redskins did not necessarily find any impact day one starters, but they did add players who will help right away in Doctson and Cravens -- and some who will help down the road, such as Daniels. The Redskins stuck by their board and even acquired three picks for next season. A solid three days.
A wrap-up of the Dallas Cowboys' draft:
Best move: If the fourth overall pick in the draft isn’t the best move, then something has gone wrong. The Cowboys believe Ezekiel Elliott can not only help the offense return to the form it had in 2014 when DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing with 1,845 yards, but also help the defense mostly by keeping that unit off the field. Though the Cowboys have a 1,000-yard rusher in Darren McFadden returning from 2015, Elliott will be given the chance to be the lead back in 2016. With the returns to health of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, plus that offensive line, it would not be a shock to see Elliott as a leading contender for rookie of the year.
Riskiest move: If Jaylon Smith turns into one of the best linebackers in the game, then the Cowboys will be praised endlessly for their willingness to take this chance. A healthy Smith could have been the Cowboys’ selection with the fourth overall pick, not Elliott. The Cowboys were able to feel good enough about the condition of Smith’s surgically repaired knee now and what it will be in the future. If he is unable to return, the Cowboys will have wasted a premium pick. Because of Jerry Jones' dual role as owner and general manager, the Cowboys felt secure in making the pick. A GM without a guaranteed job might not have been so willing to do so.
Most surprising move: If it can’t be Smith, then the fact that the Cowboys did not make a trade has to be it. They nearly moved from No. 4 to No. 6 in the first round. They attempted to trade back up into the first round to pick Paxton Lynch and were thwarted. They talked about moving down in the second round, but held firm. They talked about moving up in the fourth round as well for Connor Cook. In the past three seasons, the Cowboys have been relatively conservative on the trade front. It is the second time in Jason Garrett's tenure that they did not make a deal. The first came in 2011.
File it away: Defensive end Charles Tapper, their pick at No. 101, will have a chance most fourth-rounders don’t have. Because of the suspension of Randy Gregory and the looming penalty of DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys will have to count on Tapper to be potentially more than just a rotational player along their defensive front.
Thumbs up: Giving this a thumbs-up is solely about the future and Jaylon Smith. When you can get two athletes who are among the top five players -- Elliott, Smith -- on your draft board, that has to be viewed successfully, but this carries a huge question. There is no guarantee Smith will regain the form he had at Notre Dame because of a serious knee injury. After the 2017 season, however, this draft might look transcendent if Elliott is among the best runners and Smith among the best linebackers. This is a great reminder that a draft isn’t only about present-year production, but the future. And that’s where Dak Prescott fits in as a potential developmental quarterback behind Romo. The Cowboys, however, need present-day production from Maliek Collins and Tapper to help a defensive line that will rely on depth if not top-end ability, especially in the first four games of the season.
ASHBURN, Virginia -- The Washington Redskins needed another running back as Matt Jones and Chris Thompson are the only ones on the roster with NFL experience. They will still consider re-signing Pierre Thomas now that the draft is over.
My take: Marshall provides the Redskins with something unique: speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in a combine-best 4.31 seconds. “There’s no substitute for speed,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Very explosive.” Marshall said: “They said they’re looking for a fast, explosive player and I can fit that role for them. I believe I’m an every down running back.”
Knee issues: Marshall entered Georgia as a highly recruited running back and split time with Todd Gurley as a freshman. But Marshall tore his right ACL and that cost him a season and a half. By the time he returned Marshall had fallen on the depth chart and never recovered. It’s why he finished with just 253 carries in four years. But Marshall said his knee is fine -- his 40-time is proof.
My take: The Redskins continue to add players who were either captains or considered leaders, which is what Daniels was for Boston College’s defense last season. Daniels gives them a player who could be fun watching develop over the next couple years; he’s already considered a strong run defender and big-time hitter. If nothing else, he can provide help on special teams -- similar to what they hoped from last year’s sixth-round linebacker Martrell Spaight.
Pass coverage: Daniels was well aware of the knock on his game, which is why he focused hard on improving in pass coverage this offseason. "I had tight hips before," he said. "I knew I needed to work on it. Drilling that, working on pass coverages, changing directions and getting those things together. Once I know I have weaknesses, I have to change that."