Keenum stays at home, signs with Texans

Case Keenum's NFL career will begin in the same city where his college career ended – Houston.

Keenum signed as an undrafted free agent with the Texans, says Fox 26.

Keenum set all sorts of school and NCAA records at the University of Houston, but did not hear his name called through any of the seven rounds of the NFL Draft.

But he is happy to have a chance with the hometown Texans, who needed a third quarterback after releasing Matt Leinart. The Texans have Matt Schaub as their starter and T.J. Yates, who finished last year as a rookie starter when Schaub and Leinart were hurt.

“It means a lot,” Keenum said. “It was a pretty crazy day.

“If you would've told me this is where I would be at the end of today yesterday or last week, I would be with the Texans, I couldn't have been happier. I'm absolutely thrilled, not only to stay in Houston. There's so many things that mean a lot to me and it's just one of those things where God just makes the right place for so many reasons.”

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Hadnot signs with Chargers

The San Diego Chargers have signed veteran offensive lineman Rex Hadnot to a one-year deal, the team announced on Monday.

Hadnot, a ninth-year pro, has played for the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals previously in his career. He was a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2004.

Hadnot is versatile, having played both center and guard in his career.

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Nine best 'bang for the buck' draft picks

Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in Dan Pompei’s “Sunday Blitz.”

There are great picks, and then there are great value picks. These are my best value picks, or picks that represented the most bang for the buck.

Courtney Upshaw by the Ravens, 35th overall. Leave it to Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta to trade down, acquire an extra pick and then draft a pass rusher who at one point was considered one of the best in the draft. Upshaw has produced against top competition over time. Smart move.

Jerel Worthy by the Packers, 51st overall. The thing you have to like about getting Worthy so late is he has as much upside as any player like him in the draft. Trader Ted Thompson got the job done with this guy, who easily could have been picked a round earlier.

Courtney UpshawICONRavens general manager Ozzie Newsome took advantage of Courtney Upshaw's slide.

Devon Still by the Bengals, 53rd overall. At one point in time not long ago Still was considered the best DT in the draft and a player who was likely to be a high first round pick. And it’s not like Still did anything to hurt his stock.

Chris Givens by the Rams, 96th overall. Givens was a rated a second round talent by a number of teams. He fell because of concerns about his knees and concerns about off field conduct.

Keenan Robinson by the Redskins, 119th overall. A fourth round pick was a cheap price to pay for a linebacker with Robinson’s versatility, production and measurables. He should be an NFL starter.

Nick Toon by the Saints, 122nd overall. If Toon had entered the draft one year ago as had been speculated, he likely would have been a first round pick. Mickey Loomis and the Saints finally had a little luck go their way when Toon fell to them in the fourth.

Josh Norman by the Panthers, 143rd overall. Norman is a second round talent. He went in the fifth because of character concerns.

George Iloka by the Bengals, 167th overall. Based on my conversations with scouts I had him as the third ranked safety in the draft, and figured he would be a second round pick based on the lack of talent at the position. Between the first and fifth rounds, only one safety, Brandon Taylor was taken. That left Iloka for the Bengals in the fifth.

Juron Criner by the Raiders, 168th overall. He was a third round talent that went two rounds later. But Criner comes with some risk because of some character concerns. Nice move by Reggie McKenzie in his first draft.

Alfonzo Dennard by the Patriots, 224th overall. I was not particularly high on Dennard. He was my 12th-ranked cornerback. He ended up being the 31st cornerback selected. Dennard was considered second round worthy going into the season. He had a down year but still was worth of a fourth round pick. He went in the seventh. Score one for Bill Belichick.

Follow me on Twitter: @danpompei

A look at the NFC East drafts

Yesterday I wrote the AFC East; today I will take a look at the NFC East — in my opinion, always one of the best divisions in football.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles wanted to upgrade their defensive line and did an outstanding job doing it. First pick Fletcher Cox was perhaps the best defensive lineman in this draft. He has outstanding size to go along with being a very good athlete with strength and explosion. Cox improved with every game. He is a force versus both the run and pass and at 21 years old will keep getting better. He has the talent to be an eventual Pro Bowl player. In the second round Philly got Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry. Curry is the perfect complement to Cox. He is an athletic outside pass rusher with a very quick first step, he has strength at the point and does a good job stopping the run. Kendricks might be a little short (5111) but this is one good football player. He is strong and explosive with excellent instincts. With 4.46 speed he is the fastest linebacker in this draft. He is a big time playmaker and has the tools to play either Mike or Will linebacker. Many teams have over drafted quarterbacks the last couple of years. Philly got Nick Foles where he should have been taken…in the third round. Foles isn’t a finished product and still needs to develop but he has the tools to be a good pro. Georgia corner Brandon Boykin is similar to Kendricks in that he is a bit undersized but is an instinctive playmaker. He will be a nice replacement for Asante Samuel. The late pick that I liked the most is receiver Marvin McNutt from Iowa. McNutt is a former quarterback who is a very good route runner with soft hands. He ran faster than many thought he would clocking 4.49 at the Combine.

New York Giants

David WilsonICONDavid Wilson gives the Giants the fastest and most explosive back they have had in years.

Jerry Reese is “old school” in that he will always take the best available athlete. During the draft, the best available just happened to also fill a need. The Giants needed to get a replacement for Brandon Jacobs and in David Wilson they got the fastest and most explosive back they have had in years. There were reports that the Giants had Rueben Randle as a first round talent. I’m sure they did as did many other clubs. Randle is a speed receiver who should do well replacing Mario Manningham. He actually is bigger and faster than Manningham was. Jayron Hosley is a quick and athletic corner who fits in nicely with what the Giants do on defense. Why Cincinnati didn’t use Adrien Robinson much in their passing game is beyond me. His workout numbers were off the charts. This is a 6040, 263-pound tight end who ran 4.56, had a vertical of 39.5, an 11’3 long jump and a 7.10 3 cone. I don’t know if there is a tight end in the league with numbers that good! Brandon Mosley is an athletic offensive tackle who is still developing but has a lot of upside.

Washington Redskins

If the only person they drafted was RGIII they would have had a successful draft. Griffin III still needs to learn to play from under center, but he has all the tools to become a great pro. His deep ball accuracy is as good as I’ve seen in the last few years. Josh LeRibeus is a tough try hard guy who should be able to play guard or center. He is very strong with limited area quickness. The ‘Skins drafting Kirk Cousins was a surprise to me after already getting RGIII. I don’t see Cousins as having eventual starter type traits but I feel he can be a very good NFL backup. Tackle Tom Compton from South Dakota is a big strong left tackle who will probably have to move to the right side in the NFL. He should be a quality backup with a chance to start down the road.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys drafted the best corner and one of the top players in the draft in LSU corner Mo Claiborne. He will start immediately and be an upgrade. Tyrone Crawford is a high motor tough 5 technique with better than average pass rush skills. Kyle Wilbur is another high motor, good athlete 3-4 OLB. He has good instincts but still needs to develop his strength. He is a down the road starter for Dallas. Matt Johnson from Washington State may have been a bit of a reach at this point of the draft but he has the skills to develop. Will be a backup and special teams performer to start out. Danny Coale is a sure handed possession receiver. While he ran 4.45 at the Combine he doesn’t play to that speed. James Hanna from Oklahoma has excellent speed to go along with good hands. He will play the role of a move tight end as he is not much of a blocker.

Rising from the ashes

It’s powerful to witness the raw emotion that takes hold in the moment a football player transforms from draft prospect into first round selection. Tears, smiles and bear hugs are unleashed upon anyone within striking distance, as what was once a dream has now become a reality.

At the other end of the spectrum lie the players who didn’t hear their names called during the seven-round NFL draft. Their dreams have just been crushed, their respective worlds sent into a tailspin of doubt. The tears, smiles and bear hugs are still present, but the tears are ones of sadness and despair, not joy. The smiles are forced in an effort to exude confidence to those around them, even if none is actually present within. The bear hugs are received instead of given.

Kellen MooreICONJust because he went undrafted this weekend doesn't mean that Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore won't make it in the NFL.

Whether we want to believe it or not, a player’s draft status is something that will stick with him for the duration of his NFL career. Never mind the fact that Matt Leinart is currently a man without a team. Everyone remembers that the former USC standout was a top-ten selection. And forget for a moment about the three Super Bowls that Tom Brady has won, because there are those who still look at the Patriots quarterback and see a guy who didn’t hear his named called until the sixth round.

But amongst the dejection and heartbreak that comes with going undrafted also lies opportunity.

I’d venture to guess that, if given the choice, just about every NFL prospect would opt to be selected during the seventh round instead of going undrafted. That’s the ego and the wallet talking. It may appear to be a better situation that offers a higher probability of catching on in the NFL, but often times that isn’t the case.

Undrafted free agents have a very powerful weapon at their disposal that seventh round picks do not: choice. Once the draft reaches its conclusion, teams begin the process of burning up cell phone minutes in an effort to sign as many quality undrafted players as possible. Several players will hear from multiple teams, giving them the opportunity to sign with the organization that offers the best chance for success.

Seventh round picks do not have this choice. If they don’t catch on with the team that drafted them, they’ll be sent packing and in search of another place to sign. And that could very well mean landing in a city and walking into a competition with an undrafted free agent who choose to sign with the same organization four months prior and is already very familiar with the team’s playbook.

Guess who has the leg up now?

I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating now that we’re just two days removed from the conclusion of the 2012 NFL draft.

In 2005 I was working as an agent for fellow NFP contributor Jack Bechta at JB Sports in San Diego. One of Bechta’s rookie clients was a talented linebacker out of San Diego State named Heath Farwell.

Heath FarwellAfter going undrafted in 2005, Farwell earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2009.

Heath was prepared for the very real possibility that he would go undrafted, but like anyone in his situation, that didn’t stop him from hoping for the best. And after watching fellow Aztec linebackers Matt McCoy (second round) and Kirk Morrison (third round) find new homes early in the draft process, Heath began to think that getting selected was more likely to happen than not.

Making matters worse was the fact that a team in need of a linebacker called us during the sixth round and gave the impression that Heath was their guy. Hopes were raised again, until the team pulled the trigger on a linebacker not named Farwell.

Shortly after that, the draft ended. Heath wasn’t selected and subsequently stormed out of Bechta’s house visibly upset. I felt terrible for the guy and I was just some dumb law student who needed to get home to study for final exams that I was in no way prepared to pass.

Heath returned a short while later to find out that at least four teams had called about signing him, but that didn’t bring any happiness. Heath had gone undrafted. His ego and confidence were shot. His dreams had been crushed.

After a twenty-minute discussion, everyone involved in the process decided that the Minnesota Vikings gave Heath his best chance to succeed in the NFL. The depth chart at the linebacker position was far from imposing and if Heath could make a name for himself on special teams, he stood a very real chance of landing on the Week 1 roster.

Seven years have passed since that day and Heath no longer plays for the Vikings. That’s because after five solid seasons in Minnesota, Farwell signed a free agent contract to play with the Seattle Seahawks. The former San Diego State linebacker—who was devastated after going undrafted in 2005—will enter his seventh NFL season this year and even boasts a resume that includes one trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

Going undrafted may be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s not the end of the world. In some instances, it’s just the beginning of a career that could far exceed the expectations of simply hearing your name called during the seventh round of the NFL draft.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Patriots expected to re-sign Warren

The New England Patriots are expected to re-sign veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren, ComcastSports New England reported.

Warren has played in 28 games in a reserve role for the past two seasons in New England and should help lend a veteran presence to the Patriots defensive line.

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Ohio State's Brewster among Jags' 17 UDFAs

The Jacksonville Jaguars have announced the addition of 17 undrafted free agents, including Ohio State center Mike Brewster, a player who was regarded as one of the better centers available by many analysts.

In addition to Brewster, the Jaguars signed DE Kendrick Adams (LSU), RB Joe Banyard (Texas-El Paso),

OT Lee Barbiasz (Northern Colorado), CB Antwon Blake (Texas-El Paso), WR Jarrett Boykin (Virginia Tech), DE Ryan Davis (Bethune-Cookman), CB Antonio Dennard (Langston), WR Kevin Elliott (Florida A&M), G D.J. Hall, Jr. (Texas State), CB Dontrel Johnson (Murray State), DT Drew Nowak (Western Michigan), WR Nelson Rosario (UCLA), LB J.K. Schaffer (Cincinnati), LB Julian Stanford (Wagner), DE Frank Trotter (Memphis) and TE Matt Veldman (North Dakota).

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Oregon has a good 'problem' on its hands

Marcus Mariota may not have won Oregon's starting quarterback job quite yet, but the redshirt freshman certainly looks like a veteran ready to lead one of the nation's most high-powered offenses.

The Ducks concluded spring drills with their annual spring game Saturday in front of 44,129 fans at Autzen Stadium in Eugene (shown on, and fans were finally able to get a glimpse of the competition that has been the focus of the team's spring practice season — a duel that was kept under wraps by coy head coach Chip Kelly.

But when the curtain was lifted, the 6-4, 196-pound Mariota certainly outplayed sophomore Bryan Bennett, leading his squad to a 41-14 win over Bennett’s team. While Kelly said the game wouldn’t carry more weight than the 14 previous spring practices or the drills in the fall, Mariota played an exceptional scrimmage that will certainly make the QB decision even more difficult for Kelly and the offensive staff as the season draws closer.

Marcus MariotaICONQB Marcus Mariota had an impressive performance in Oregon's spring game this past weekend.

The athletic signal-caller and native Hawaiian completed 18 of 26 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown against one interception, and he rushed for 99 yards on five carries and a score. The most impressive play of the day may have been his 82-yard touchdown sprint, where he was able to show off his dynamic playmaking ability after finding his hole immediately. He was also sacked just once and looked very comfortable on rollout passes. He had good touch on his throws, which included a beautiful 35-yard touchdown toss to Daryle Hawkins down the middle of the field. He looked confident in the huddle and in control while running the Ducks' high-octane, up-tempo attack. He admitted that he forced the throw that was intercepted by cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, but he had ownership of this offense. And he exudes the confidence necessary to lead a Pac-12 power.

Meanwhile, Bennett didn't have a bad game, but he certainly wasn't at his best. The equally athletic signal-caller completed 19 of 32 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. Troubling was the fact that he never seemed to get going on the ground, recording 57 yards on 18 carries. He was also sacked three times for 30 lost yards, so he only netted 27 yards on the ground. But he did display some nice moves on a few runs, and he could have had more yards but quarterbacks were not allowed to get tackled. He also had a nice command of Kelly's spread-option offense, although he became flustered a few times when his first option closed up, and he made bad reads on his two interceptions. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said that Bennett “didn’t have his best day” but is confident that improvement and adjustments will be made moving forward.

Certainly, this battle for the starting job won't be settled until deep into August, when the return to norm under Kelly will call for closed practices. While Mariota has the momentum heading into summer, perhaps Bennett let nerves affect him a little Saturday.

Of course, Bennett has game experience in his back pocket, filling in nicely for last year's starter, Darron Thomas, when Thomas was shelved. He threw six touchdown passes with no interceptions and rushed for 200 yards on just 23 carries last fall. His completion percentage of 54.3 won't be good enough for this offense, though, and he looked a little hesitant throwing the ball this weekend. He also was the victim of a few dropped passes by receivers. Mariota looked like the more polished passer, and that may ultimately help him win the job when coupled with his elite running skills.

The major plus for the Ducks is the fact that they can now be known for having very good talent and depth at the quarterback position. For all of the talk about the corps of running backs in the Kelly era, quarterback play has always been slightly overlooked.

That is now changing in Eugene with Mariota and Bennett locked in a tight battle for the right to start the opener against Arkansas State.

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Virginia lands former Alabama quarterback

Mike London continues to elevate the Virginia program following a standout 2011 campaign, as the third-year Cavaliers head coach has landed former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims, according to's Joe Schad.

Sims, a Class of 2010 recruit who was offered by such powers as Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State and Clemson, redshirted as a freshman but played in eight games for the Crimson Tide last season. He completed 64 percent of his passes on just 28 attempts with no touchdowns against two interceptions. AJ McCarron beat him out for the starting job last fall.

On Friday, Alabama granted Sims permission to transfer, and Schad reported Monday that the Crimson Tide would allow him to transfer to Virginia.

Sims is a Chesapeake, Va., native and said he wanted to be closer to home. It will be interesting to see if he tries to become eligible to play immediately via an NCAA appeal. If he is granted a hardship waiver, he likely would immediately challenge incumbent Michael Rocco for the starting gig in Charlottesville. Of course, the Hoos also landed Class of 2012 signal-caller Greyson Lambert, who enrolled early after choosing Virginia over offers from Alabama and Georgia.

Certainly, London has made huge strides on the recruiting trail in his short time as Cavs head coach. The addition of Sims is yet another feather in his cap.

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Raiders to take a look at Sorgi

Matt Leinart isn't the only potential backup quarterback on the Oakland Raiders list.

The Raiders will also work out former Indianapolis Colts backup Jim Sorgi, according to Adam Caplan.

Sorgi, who last played in an NFL game in 2009, spent six years as a backup to Peyton Manning in Indy, and then signed with the New York Giants in 2010, but was placed on injured reserve.

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