Ryan Watson

Bills Giving Air Force WR Jalen Robinette Tryout

Jalen Robinette looked like a player set to be at worst a Day 3 pick entering draft week, but after a Department of Defense 11th-hour ruling, the standout Air Force wide receiver went undrafted. The reversal of a policy that allowed Navy’s Keenan Reynolds a path toward the Ravens’ roster as a rookie meant Robinette and fellow military academy-developed prospects could not be drafted.

But the Bills are taking a look at the yards-per-catch dynamo as part of their rookie camp, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. One of 25 rookies the Bills are examining this weekend, Robinette may well have to wait until the 2019 season if this Buffalo setup ends up working out.

The Eagles also invited Air Force safety Weston Steelhammer to their rookie camp, and the Cardinals extended the same opportunity to linebacker Ryan Watson, per Jhabvala. Both of those rookie camps are also unfolding this weekend.

The new policy, similar to the one that required former Air Force (and current Falcons) lineman Ben Garland to serve two years before joining the 2012 Broncos, would force these talents to serve for 24 months before being eligible to pursue a professional sports career. Garland signed with the 2010 Broncos as a UDFA and was placed on the team’s reserve/military list before returning two years later.

However, Jhabvala reports that Robinette’s agent, David Lisko, is attempting to get the receiver and the rest of this class of military academy athletes grandfathered in under the old D.O.D. policy, since that’s the one the athletes were operating under this offseason. These athletes would need to have a professional contract to be eligible for the Ready Reserve program, which allows for the delay of service time. Teams at the most keep a few rookie-tryout players out of the dozens generally invited, so the trio has an uphill battle this weekend.

That said, someone like Robinette could be appealing since he was a projected draft pick. The 6-foot-3 target averaged 27.4 yards per catch — en route to 959 yards and six receiving touchdowns — last season.

Draft Rumors: Spence, J. Smith, Rankins, Vikes

Eastern Kentucky edge defender Noah Spence, who had multiple positive drug tests during his time at Ohio State, sent each of the NFL’s 32 teams the results of the 20 drug tests he has taken since last May, league sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. According to Schefter, Spence had Eastern Kentucky conduct five drug tests from May through December, then submitted to 15 more – one per week – since January.

In terms of pure on-field talent, Spence is viewed as one of the top pass rushers in this year’s draft class, but his off-field question marks may cause him to slip a little further than he’d like. Still, he continues to be viewed as a first-round pick, and receiving evidence that he has been clean for the last year may make some teams a little more inclined to roll the dice on him.

Here are a few more of today’s pre-draft rumors and updates:

  • Despite his significant knee injury, which is expected to sideline him for the entire 2016 season, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is still viewed as a potential day-one or day-two pick, according to Adam Schefter (Twitter links). Schefter hears that Smith is likely to be selected before the end of round three, and one NFL head coach even believes the linebacker could come off the board late in the first round.
  • The buzz surrounding Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins has intensified today. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) both have heard that Rankins will be considered as early as No. 4 by the Cowboys, with La Canfora predicting that he’ll end up as a top-10 pick. Tony Pauline at WalterFootball.com has heard that the draft stocks for both Rankins and Mississippi State DT Chris Jones have risen, with teams seeking interior pass rushers.
  • Several NFL teams think Ohio State wideout Michael Thomas is being undervalued, and will transition well to the NFL, according to Tony Pauline, who says the Chargers and Bengals are among the teams with interest in Thomas. Pauline adds within the same article that the Vikings aren’t a lock to draft a receiver in round one, and will consider Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche if he’s available.
  • With Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley being mentioned in the same conversations as Laremy Tunsil recently, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk looks into whether or not the Tunsil/Stanley debate is real.
  • The NFL is considering Philadelphia and Los Angeles to host the 2017 NFL draft, with Philly emerging as the favorite, tweets Adam Schefter. As Schefter points out, neither of those cities’ teams has a first-round pick in 2017.
  • Purdue defensive tackle Ryan Watson has visited, worked out for, or received inquiries from eight teams since his pro day, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Updates: Dolphins, Jets, Texans, Eagles

Having already worked out for the Giants, Jets, Texans, and Dolphins, Texas Tech receiver Jakeem Grant will take a pre-draft meeting with Miami on Monday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Grant, who ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, is expected to serve as a return man in the NFL.

Here’s the latest news on draft prospects and their visits and workouts around the league…

  • The receivers most connected with the Jets during the pre-draft process have been Corey Coleman and Will Fuller, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. La Canfora reports the Jets, who pick at No. 20, have done “extensive work” on both the Baylor and Notre Dame wideouts, respectively.
  • North Carolina State offensive lineman Joe Thuney had a private meeting with the Texans, per Wilson. Thuney, who started all along the offensive line in college, is expected to play on the interior in the NFL, but clubs are excited about his versatility, says Wilson.
  • Punters are people too: Texas Southern Cory Carter punter took part in the Texans’ local pro day and is expected to generate interest around the league, writes Wilson. Carter tells Wilson he drew rave reviews from Houston based on his hangtime and directional punting.
  • Two prospects — Penn State corner Trevor Williams and Purdue defensive tackle Ryan Watson — have been invited to Washington‘s local pro day, according to Wilson (Twitter links).
  • Kolby Listenbee will visit the Eagles on Monday after recently meeting with the 49ers, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The TCU wide receiver. The 6-foot-1 target who blazed to a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the Horned Frogs’ pro day amassed more than 1,300 receiving yards and nine TDs the past two seasons. Listenbee underwent sports hernia surgery, per Caplan (on Twitter), after the ailment kept him from participating in the Combine.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report