The Latest: Browns pick Ohio State cornerback Ward 4th

The Latest on the NFL draft (all times local):

7:39 p.m.

The Browns surprised the experts again, picking Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward No 4 overall.

After passing over more classic quarterbacks to take Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield with the top pick, Cleveland skipped over North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, the top pass rusher in the draft, to grab the top cornerback.


7:30 p.m.

The New York Jets, another of the NFL teams desperate for a franchise quarterback, chose Sam Darnold with the third pick Thursday night.

The Jets had traded up from sixth overall with Indianapolis with the expressed mission of finding that quarterback. Southern California’s Darnold, who had a superb 2016 season and was not quite so productive last year, was the choice.

Darnold might sit a while and learn behind veteran Josh McCown.

“There’s nothing better than being on this state,” Darnold said. “I think whatever the coaches what me to do, if they want me to sit, want me to play, I’ll do my role. That’s what I’ve done my whole life, not going to do any different.”


7:23 p.m.

The New York Giants selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

The All-American with speed, power, shiftiness and excellent hands is considered this year’s best player. New York has had one of the NFL’s worst running games in recent years, and Barkley is expected to boost an offense that has a veteran quarterback in Eli Manning and star receiver in Odell Beckham Jr.

Barkley also is a sensational kick returner.

“It’s unreal, two of the biggest moments in my life in the same week,” said Barkley, whose girlfriend gave birth to a girl earlier in the week.

Not surprisingly in the Cowboys’ home, the pick generally was booed.


7:20 p.m.

Baker Mayfield, until the past few days considered an outsider to be chosen at the top of the NFL draft, has been taken by the Cleveland Browns to begin Thursday night’s selections.

The first Heisman Trophy winner taken No. 1 overall in the following draft since Cam Newton went to Carolina in 2010, Mayfield joins a team that went 0-16 in 2017.

The Browns were sold on his leadership skills and creativity inside the pocket and outside.

Most prognosticators pegged another quarterback, perhaps Josh Allen, Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen, for the Browns.

Instead, it’s the Oklahoma star —the Sooners went 34-6 with him— who overwhelmingly won the Heisman Trophy last season. He is the eighth winner of the award selected first in the NFL draft following that season since 1970.


5:45 p.m.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be accompanied by two Hall of Fame quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowl titles with the Dallas Cowboys, when he takes the stage to open the NFL draft.

Quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, and tight end Jason Witten are all former winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award that recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field.

The fans still booed Goodell loudly and all the players threw footballs into the crowd.

Staubach led the Cowboys to Super Bowl titles during the 1971 and 1977 seasons. Aikman was the quarterback when Dallas won three Super Bowl titles in a span four seasons in the first half of the 1990s.

This is the first time the NFL draft is being held in a stadium.

Staubach and Aikman played their home games with the Cowboys at Texas Stadium in Irving, the team’s previous home that no longer stands. The Cowboys moved into $1.3 billion AT&T Stadium in Arlington nine years ago.


5:45 p.m.

For one Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, the QB to concentrate on in this draft is Baker Mayfield.

That’s hardly a surprise when the speaker is Roger Staubach, the 1963 trophy winner who won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame .

After all, his nickname was “Roger the Dodger.”

“There’s something about Mayfield that’s interesting,” Staubach says. “He does some funky things, seems to be a leader, and they like him. He can move around and find people who come open. In the NFL, you have to do that.”

As Staubach did in one of the more storied careers. After playing for Navy, he spent four years in active duty, including a tour in Vietnam. After spending two weeks at the Cowboys’ training camp in California the year before getting out of the service, he was told by coach Tom Landry that the team was eager to have him back the next season.

From there, Staubach led the Cowboys to the top of pro football in an 11-year career in which he went 85-29 as a starter.

Speaking Thursday to current and former military members at a draft event held by USAA, the official military appreciation sponsor of the NFL, Staubach offered some advice to the audience — and to the players headed to the NFL.

“The qualities you need to succeed in the military are the same as you need to succeed in sports, in the NFL,” he says.

“Integrity, hard work, teamwork. Those are all the attributes companies are looking for. Take advantage of the qualities you have.

“You must work hard at it. Of course, for the NFL you must have the talent. But if you have the talent and don’t work at it, someone with less talent will go past you.

“The service taught me and all of us to learn about teamwork and hard work. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results.”


5 p.m.

The NFL has renewed an exclusive partnership with Amazon Prime Video for digital streaming of Thursday night games during 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Amazon will stream the 11 Thursday night games broadcast by FOX this season. Those games are also simulcast on NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes.

Through the streaming deal with Amazon, the broadcasts will be available to more than 100 million Amazon Prime members worldwide in more than 200 countries and territories.

“Having over 100 million Amazon Prime members provides a massive platform to distribute Thursday Night Football digitally, not only to our fans in the United States but also around the world,” said Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL.

With 10 Thursday night games and one on Christmas last year, Amazon built on the audience Twitter had in 2016 in the first year of streaming on Thursday nights. The average per-minute audience for the 11 games hit 310,000, a 17 percent increase from Twitter’s numbers.


2:45 p.m.

Bradley Chubb jokes that he’s changed positions for this draft and is now a quarterback.

In reality, the North Carolina State standout is probably the best defensive prospect in this draft. When you get past all the hype for QBs, much of the first round will be devoted to guys on that side of the ball.

“Yeah, don’t forget about us,” he says with a smile.

Chubb can do it all — stop the run, pass rush, shoot gaps, block passes and kicks. Some believe he is a better player than Myles Garrett, who was the top overall pick last year by Cleveland.

Chubb could wind up with the Browns, bookending the D-line with Garrett. Cleveland owns the fourth overall spot and after taking its quarterback at the top, could go his way.

“That would be awesome,” Chubb said. “I don’t know Myles, but I do know he’s a great player.”

As for sending some love the defenders’ way, Chubb reasons it will be coming.

“I feel like I got a spotlight now,” he says as reporters gather around for his views on the proceedings. “There are so many great players who can go into an organization and change it. I hope to be one.”


1 p.m.

Don’t look for many wide receivers to be selected high in this draft.

Indeed, only Alabama’s Calvin Ridley seems sure to go in the first round, and he comes from a run-oriented offense.

Recent history shows that wideouts are not particularly wise choices until deeper into the proceedings.

Consider that in the past three years, the likes of Phillip Dorsett, Breshad Perriman, Kevin White, Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, Mike Williams, Corey Davis and John Ross have gone in the opening round. Anybody seen or heard much from any of them so far in their NFL careers?

After evaluating the receivers on his roster, Browns general manager John Dorsey said: “Then you have to let the other young guys fight out for their roster spot. Who’s to say? We may get a receiver or two in this draft.”

Guaranteed it won’t be with the first and fourth overall spots Cleveland owns.


12:20 p.m.

Former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen has apologized for a series of offensive tweets he sent while in high school.

The potential No. 1 NFL draft pick apologized for the now-deleted tweets to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith less than 24 hours before the draft.

Yahoo! Sports reported Allen sent the tweets in 2012 and 2013 and they contained racially insensitive language and offensive statements.

Allen told Smith he was parroting rap lyrics and catchphrases from TV and pop culture. In his apology, Allen told Smith he was “young and dumb” at the time.

According to ESPN, the tweets were removed from Allen’s account when it was vetted in January.

Wyoming coach Craig Bohl says Allen had “great relationships with his teammates and our fan base.” The coach adds in his statement that while at Wyoming Allen “embraced diversity.” Says Bohl: “We wish him all the best on his big night.”


12 p.m.

This isn’t just the year of the quarterback in the NFL draft. It’s the century of the QB.

The previous time a quarterback wasn’t selected in the first round of the NFL draft was 1996, when 41 other players were chosen before the Rams selected Michigan State’s Tony Banks at No. 42.

Banks went 35-43 in eight seasons as a journeyman with the Rams, Ravens, Redskins and Texans.

He was by far the most accomplished of the six quarterbacks selected, two of whom never played in the league and another who never started in the NFL.

Third-rounder Bobby Hoying of Ohio State went 3-9-1 in five seasons for Philadelphia and Oakland.

The Broncos chose Jeff Lewis of Northern Arizona with the 100th overall pick, but this was during the Elway Era and Lewis made zero career starts in two seasons in Denver and two in Carolina.

Another fourth-rounder was Florida State’s Danny Kanell, who would post a 10-13-1 career mark over six seasons with the Giants, Falcons and Broncos.

In the seventh round, the Ravens took John Stark of Trinity International and the Packers selected USC’s Kyle Wachholtz, neither of whom ever played in the pros.

So, that was a total of 48-65-2 for the inglorious QB class of 1996.

There have been 56 quarterbacks selected in the first round since then, including five in 1999. That mark is expected to be matched or maybe broken tonight in Dallas.

— AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.


11:00 a.m.

The most inspirational story in this NFL draft, bar none, is Shaquem Griffin of UCF.

A standout linebacker for the undefeated Knights, Griffin achieved all of his success despite having no left hand. He wears a prosthetic, yet Griffin stunned onlookers by bench-pressing 225 pounds a staggering 20 times at the combine, then ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds.

Griffin is fast, hits hard and never stops coming. Will that make him a first-rounder? Probably not, given NFL teams’ concerns with any sort of physical issues for a prospect.

But Griffin, whose brother Shaquill was selected in the third round last year by Seattle, insists there are no drawbacks about him as a pro prospect.

“I don’t see it as a handicap and I have never looked at it that way,” Griffin says. “I hope I am an inspiration for people, to see I can do whatever I want. I haven’t seen anything I couldn’t do. I’m never going to let someone put a label on me.”

NFL personnel people praise Griffin to the sky for his talent, work ethic and fortitude. What they don’t say is how highly they will consider him on their draft board.

Griffin doesn’t like hearing that, though his cheerful demeanor allows him to laugh when told he could be sitting at this draft until Saturday before being selected.

“I don’t have a chip on my shoulder,” Griffin says. “I have chips. I have a bag of chips. Everyone else can have a chip. I need more than that.”


10:40 a.m.

The Houston Texans will be bystanders deep into this draft; their first pick is in the third round, 68th overall.

That doesn’t mean they won’t be paying attention Thursday night and during the second round Friday. Plus, the man in charge of personnel moves believes the Texans already have achieved a lot in the offseason.

“Part of the process in this player evaluation is mixing the pro scouting element with the college draft process,” says new general manager Brian Gaine.

“As it relates to how we’re going to solve some of the issues on our roster with personnel, we feel like some of the things we did in free agency are going to put us in position in the draft where you’re not going to get forced to have to draft a player based on need.

“The players that we acquired both on the offensive line and in the secondary give us position flexibility within the group, so at least now we feel like we’re in position that if we draft players now, we’re hopefully drafting the best available player in that regard. The best combination of a pick is when you take the best available player that also meets a team need.”

Among Houston’s needs are the offensive line and tight end. Barring an unexpected run on tackles or tight ends, the Texans should find value when they finally get going.

“There are certainly challenges involved with that in terms of getting blue chip talent and blue chip prospects,” Gaines says, “but the focus that I have had and our staff has had here has been we are going to get a chance to get four players in the top 103 in this draft.

“So, if things were standard and we had a first- and second-round pick, a third- and fourth-round pick, that would still give us four players in the top 103.

“Now, although they might not be player 50 or 60, we’re still going to get four players, we believe, in the top 103. So, we’re very positive that we’ll be able to get contributing players at any one of those picks in the third and the fourth round.”

Meanwhile, barring a trade, the Texans will watch.


9:50 a.m.

This year’s deep draft at quarterback lacks just one thing: a consensus top pick.

None of the mock drafts heading into Thursday’s actual NFL draft in Dallas seems to even put them in the same order.

So, let’s see what the quarterbacks themselves think.

All of them say they’re the best of the bunch except for USC’s Sam Darnold, who suggests: “That’s for other people to decide.”

Hogwash, say Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

They all unabashedly tout themselves as the best option at QB in this draft.

“I think I’m the best quarterback here,” Rosen has said. “I think every person in this draft should have the exact same answer.”

Allen has said every quarterback has to believe he’s the best because that confidence is the cornerstone of a successful pro career.

“We’re all different, we all have our pluses, our minuses,” Allen says. “But if you don’t have the mindset that you’re the best quarterback in this draft, you’re not going to fare well in this league.”

Mayfield has concurred, saying, “If you don’t have that mindset then something’s wrong.”

When it comes to ranking the quarterbacks, most people have Jackson well behind the so-called “Big Four,” going somewhere in the middle of the first round.

Jackson has just as much confidence as the others, suggesting he’s better than all of them.

“But I don’t really care about what order we’re in,” Jackson has said. “They’re all great quarterbacks, as well. So, I know they feel the same way.”

— AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.


9:35 a.m.

As the traveling road show that the NFL draft has become settles in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the league has added a new fan touch: the Inner Circle.

More than 1,600 fans — at least 50 from every franchise — will be in AT&T Stadium for the selections, and the festivities that go with them.

Each team selected its “draft ambassadors,” and the list of attendees ranges from locals who just happen to root for, say, the Eagles or Bills or Jets, to fans who will travel to North Texas (Falcons, Ravens). Many are season ticket holders.

The Inner Circle will feature team rivalry zones and chances for fans to celebrate the club’s selections with NFL players and former team standouts.

On Thursday night, some of these fans will be visited by their newest team members after they are selected on stage.


Dave Gettleman has learned many lessons as an NFL executive. The new general manager of the New York Giants has one mantra in the draft room.

He says teams must “stay with the value.” They “can’t get too cute” or hope for a player to be around in a later round.

The Giants pick second Thursday night after the Cleveland Browns. The New York Jets go third, followed by the Browns and Denver Broncos.

Plenty of top quarterbacks are available: USC’s Sam Darnold, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. There’s also Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.

Analyst and former NFL general manager Phil Savage says the Giants are in the “catbird seat” and can go in many directions, but he encourages them to consider Barkley.


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