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In the past few days there have been some recent developments that may have an effect on where some players get drafted. Thursday, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster admitted that he tested positive for a diluted sample at the Combine. What the diluted sample means is that the player could have been trying to make sure that he didn’t test positive. In the NFL, a diluted sample is equivalent to having a full blown positive test.

What does this mean? Once Foster signs a contract with a team, he will automatically be in the substance abuse program. This means that he will be tested up to 10 times per month for the next few years. If he tests positive again, he could face a suspension.

That fact alone could have a huge effect on where Foster gets drafted. No team wants to waste a high pick on a player who already has a strike against him. In the next week. Teams will be doing more research on Foster to make sure they know everything they can about him off the field. After having a problem at the hospital while he was at the Combine and being sent home because of it, this was the last thing Foster needed.

A few days ago he was looked at as a possible top-10 selection. I doubt that now happens and it wouldn’t shock me if he slides right out of the first round. There just have been too many red flags associated with this player in the last few months.

Another story that could have an impact on the top 10 of the draft is it has been reported that LSU running back Leonard Fournette may need ankle surgery. He has “loose” ankles which means he is prone to ankle sprains because of that looseness. During the 2016 college season, Fournette missed significant time with ankle issues, now that the reason why is known, it may or may not have an effect on where he gets drafted.

Fournette could easily have a procedure done to fix the problem, but the rehab time could cause him to miss training camp and maybe the start of the regular season. If the problem isn’t fixed, he could end up missing time during the 2017 season just like he did last year.

The medical staffs of the teams interested in Fournette will be relied upon to give accurate information. The opinions of those medical staffs can and will have an effect on his draft status. While the first club that has an interest may say they will draft him regardless and take a chance, we really won’t know for sure until next Thursday night.

My belief is that it won’t harm Fournette that much. I would bet he will still go in the top half of the first round, but he may not be the first running back selected.

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My immediate reaction after the NFL released the Bears 2017 regular season schedule was, 'wow, what exactly did they do to deserve this?'

First, my annual reminder that calculating the difficulty of any schedule in April is mere folly with the knowledge that in the NFL teams go from worst to first and vice versa as often as some folks change their underwear.

But that said, the murder’s row the schedule-makers have gifted the Bears with this September will tell us very quickly exactly what the likelihood is the Bears can be significantly improved this season.

Opening at home against the Falcons, traveling to Tampa Bay and then coming back home to face the Steelers, all at noon on Sunday, and then going to Green Bay on Thursday night, the Bears will almost certainly be a touchdown or more underdog in each of their first four games.

The Bears could be much improved and still go 0-4, effectively ending their season before it really gets going.

The good news is, the only 2016 playoff teams the Bears will see the rest of the way will be a rematch with the Pack at home November 12, and their two games against Detroit, and there is no week a team would rather have its bye than Week Nine — right smack dab in the middle of the season — and the Bears have drawn that straw this year.

The second quarter of the season is no walk in the park but does offer a lot more hope, with Week Five and Week Seven home games against Minnesota and Carolina, and Week Six and Week Eight trips to Baltimore and New Orleans.

A 4-4 start is not out of the realm of possibilities, but 1-7 or 2-6 may seem more likely.

The Bears are set up for a strong second half facing clubs with a combined 52-75-1 record last year, and their rematch with the Packers and two meetings with the Lions will offer the only ’16 opponents with winning records.

They also get a break not traveling after their 10/29 game in New Orleans for almost a month, with the home rematch with Green Bay and the first Lions game at home before they go to Philadelphia on November 26.

The following Sunday, the Bears will get a visit from the 49ers exactly 364 days after the last time they came to town, when the Bears played their best game of 2016, a 26-6 win.

The last quarter of the season will send the Bears back on the road quite a bit, as they travel to Cincinnati and Detroit, host the Browns on Christmas Eve and then finish in Minnesota for the second season in a row.

It should surprise no one after a 3-13 campaign that the Bears will work in prime time just three times – the Thursday night in Green Bay, at home on Monday night vs. the Vikings and a 3:30 Saturday start in that second Lions game.

With all that as the particulars, we can offer a best guess as to what it all means.

The only teams on the schedule worse than the Bears last year were Cleveland and San Francisco, and both appear unlikely to leapfrog the Bears this year.

I actually expect the Bears to be much improved in 2017, but with the Draft still a week off you’re going to have to give me a few months to build my defense of that claim.

Beyond that, it’s reasonable to assume the Falcons, Steelers and Packers are playoff teams again, and the Bucs and Ravens look ready to make another run.

The Panthers and Eagles look likely to be improved, while the Vikings, Saints, Lions and Bengals don’t feel all that scary.

This will change a number of times over the next four months as the Bears 13 opponents evolve along with them, but for now 7-9 seems possible.

Can you find the seven wins, or am I just swimming in Kool-Aid?

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All Times Eastern

(x-Subject to change)

WEEK 1

Thursday, Sept. 7

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

Sunday, Sept. 10

New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Atlanta at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Tampa Bay at Miami, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m. (FOX)

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

Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

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

Monday, Sept. 11

New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)

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

WEEK 2

Thursday, Sept. 14

Houston at Cincinnati, 8:25 p.m. (NFLN)

Sunday, Sept. 17

Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Buffalo at Carolina, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Arizona at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Philadelphia at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (FOX)

New England at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

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

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

Dallas at Denver, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

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

San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

Green Bay at Atlanta, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Sept. 18

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

WEEK 3

Thursday, Sept. 21

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco, 8:25 p.m. (NFLN)

Sunday, Sept. 24

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

Denver at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New Orleans at Carolina, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Atlanta at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Houston at New England, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Seattle at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

Cincinnati at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

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

Oakland at Washington, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Sept. 25

Dallas at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 4

Thursday, Sept. 28

Chicago at Green Bay, 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Oct. 1

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

Buffalo at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Pittsburgh at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Tennessee at Houston, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Detroit at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Carolina at New England, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)

San Francisco at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

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

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

Oakland at Denver, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Indianapolis at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Oct. 2

Washington at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 5

Byes: Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Washington

Thursday, Oct. 5

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

Sunday, Oct. 8

Buffalo at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New York Jets at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Carolina at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)

San Francisco at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Tennessee at Miami, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Arizona at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (CBS)

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

Baltimore at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

Green Bay at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

x-Kansas City at Houston, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Oct. 9

Minnesota at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 6

Byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle

Thursday, Oct. 12

Philadelphia at Carolina, 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Oct. 15

Miami at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Chicago at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cleveland at Houston, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Green Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Detroit at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)

New England at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)

San Francisco at Washington, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Tampa Bay at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

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

Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

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

x-New York Giants at Denver, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Oct. 16

Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 7

Byes: Detroit, Houston

Thursday, Oct. 19

Kansas City at Oakland, 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Oct. 22

Tampa Bay at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Carolina at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Tennessee at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New Orleans at Green Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Arizona vs. Los Angeles Rams at London, 1 p.m. (FOX)

New York Jets at Miami, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Baltimore at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Dallas at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

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

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

x-Atlanta at New England, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Oct. 23

Washington at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 8

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

Thursday, Oct. 26

Miami at Baltimore, 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Oct. 29

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

Oakland at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Indianapolis at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Chicago at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Atlanta at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (FOX)

San Francisco at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Carolina at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Houston at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

Dallas at Washington, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

x-Pittsburgh at Detroit, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Oct. 30

Denver at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 9

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

Thursday, Nov. 2

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

Sunday, Nov. 5

Atlanta at Carolina, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Indianapolis at Houston, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Cincinnati at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Denver at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Baltimore at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Arizona at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

Washington at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

Kansas City at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

x-Oakland at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Nov. 6

Detroit at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 10

Byes: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

Thursday, Nov. 9

Seattle at Arizona, 8:25 p.m. (NBC/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Nov. 12

New Orleans at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Green Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cleveland at Detroit, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New York Jets at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Cincinnati at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Minnesota at Washington, 1 p.m. (FOX)

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

Dallas at Atlanta, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

New York Giants at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

x-New England at Denver, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Nov. 13

Miami at Carolina, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 11

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

Thursday, Nov. 16

Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 8:25 p.m. (NBC/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Nov. 19

Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Baltimore at Green Bay, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Arizona at Houston, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Washington at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Kansas City at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (CBS)

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

Cincinnati at Denver, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

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

x-Philadelphia at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Nov. 20

Atlanta at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 12

Thursday, Nov. 23

Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (FOX)

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

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

Sunday, Nov. 26

Tampa Bay at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Tennessee at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Buffalo at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Miami at New England, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Carolina at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Chicago at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (FOX)

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

Seattle at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Denver at Oakland, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

x-Green Bay at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Nov. 27

Houston at Baltimore, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 13

Thursday, Nov. 30

Washington at Dallas, 8:25 p.m. (NBC/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Dec. 3

Minnesota at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Detroit at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (FOX)

New England at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

San Francisco at Chicago, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Tampa Bay at Green Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Denver at Miami, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Kansas City at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Houston at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

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

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

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

x-Philadelphia at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Dec. 4

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 14

Thursday, Dec. 7

New Orleans at Atlanta, 8:25 p.m. (NBC/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday, Dec. 10

Indianapolis at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Minnesota at Carolina, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Chicago at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Green Bay at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (FOX)

San Francisco at Houston, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Seattle at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oakland at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Detroit at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Tennessee at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

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

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

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

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

x-Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Dec. 11

New England at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 15

Thursday, Dec. 14

Denver at Indianapolis, 8:25 p.m. (NBC/NFLN/Amazon)

Saturday, Dec. 16

Chicago at Detroit, 4:30 p.m. (NFLN)

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

Sunday, Dec. 17

Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Green Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Baltimore at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Houston at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Cincinnati at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New York Jets at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Philadelphia at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Arizona at Washington, 1 p.m. (FOX)

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

New England at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Tennessee at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

x-Dallas at Oakland, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Dec. 18

Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 16

Saturday, Dec. 23

Indianapolis at Baltimore, 4:30 p.m. (NFLN)

Minnesota at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

Sunday, Dec. 24

Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cleveland at Chicago, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Detroit at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Miami at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Atlanta at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Denver at Washington, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Jacksonville at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

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

Seattle at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

Monday, Dec. 25

Pittsburgh at Houston, 4:30 p.m. (NBC/NFLN/Amazon)

Oakland at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 17

Sunday, Dec. 31

Carolina at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cincinnati at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Buffalo at Miami, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)

New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Dallas at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (CBS)

New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jacksonville at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

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

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

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In 2016, 38 players were selected in the NFL Draft even though they weren't invited to the Scouting Combine. In the last week before the draft, PFW is introducing fans to "late risers," prospects who didn't go to the Combine but impressed at a Pro Day and are getting attention from NFL teams at the right time.

Previous stories: Northwestern LB Joe Jones, Western State (Co.) RB Austin Ekeler, Old Dominion DT Rashaad Coward

For anyone walking around Midland, Mich. this week, keep an eye out for a future NFL offensive lineman.

That’s the home of Andrew Wylie, who is up at 5 a.m. every morning, at the gym by 7 and then spends the rest of his day helping out around his family farm.

“I’m just a helping hand right now,” said Wylie. “I’m an extra set of hands around the house.”

Those hands will transition from working on Christmas trees on the family farm to fighting with opposing defensive linemen to protect a quarterback at the next level. If he gets there, Wylie would be the second player ever from Midland High School to make the NFL, joining Howard Mudd.

“I walk out of the gym, I walk into the grocery store or get gas and someone knows you,” he said. “That’s a fantastic part of being from a small town. It’s all positive feedback. That just helps fuel the drive because I do it for the people of my hometown, too.”

NFL Draft fans may not know the 6-foot-6 Wylie as well as the residents of Midland. After wrapping up a successful career at Eastern Michigan, the only school to hold its offer for Wylie after he had a thyroid issue in high school, he earned third-team All-MAC honors this past season. Wylie didn’t get invited to the Combine, but had a sensational Pro Day.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I was pretty surprised I didn’t get a Combine invite,” he said. “I did know it was going to be a long shot, being an offensive lineman from the MAC. I really wanted that Combine invite because my numbers, I would have been first place in a lot of different categories for offensive linemen. I thought that would help me out. But still got overlooked a little bit.”

His numbers are impressive. Wylie’s 34-inch vertical would have ranked first for O-linemen at the Combine by two full inches. His 9-foot-7-inch broad jump would have tied for first. His 4.5-second 20-yard shuttle would have ranked second, along with a 7.3-second three-cone time.

Suffice to say, Wylie enjoyed his Pro Day experience.

“I was rolling,” he said. “I was having the best time of my life.”

Wylie was a key contributor for an Eastern Michigan team that reached its first bowl game in 29 years. He wanted to help “turn the program around,” but individually, he knew right away that a path to the NFL was possible.

“I knew when I came in that my work ethic was already there,” he said. “I was already out-working upperclassmen when I came in as a true freshman and I played all 12 games that true freshman year. After that I knew this is what i wanted to make a career out of. Because I was out there, 18 years old, going against guys like Khalil Mack and Dante Fowler in those big out-of-conference games. I was holding my own against those guys. That’s when I knew I could make a job out of this.”

Wylie started all 12 games at left tackle as a freshman. As a senior, he started all 12 games at right tackle and finished his career with 44 starts, ranking fourth all-time at EMU. He said teams see him at left guard or right tackle, and his speed and agility are standing out to teams that still see him at tackle despite shorter arms.

Wylie did watch the Combine. He said he does every year so he could see future competition. This year, he wanted to compare himself to the players “looked at as the best at what they do.” In his drills, he proved that the measureables are there, and Wylie believes he has the work ethic, too, to make an NFL roster.

“I’ve always been that guy from the small school. … Just been hardworking ever since,” he said. “It’s always been an uphill battle. I’ve always embraced that. It hasn’t stopped. I’ve been doing it for so long, why stop now? I know it’s going to be hard, but I think I’m more prepared because of it.”

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The Bears' former director of college scouting, Greg Gabriel has over 30 years of experience in NFL scouting. You can follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

Going into the Combine, it looked as of the corner class in this year’s draft would be the strongest in years. At one time it looked as if seven or eight corners could possibly be drafted in the first round. Since then there have been some injuries and other concerns that will drop some players, but I still believe that as many as six corners could go in the opening round.

Before the Combine, Florida corner Teez Tabor looked as if he would be a lock first-rounder. Then he ran the 40 and the perception of his ability changed. Looking at tape, it was thought that Tabor would run 4.50 or maybe even a little faster because he has such great quickness and suddenness. Then he ran a pedestrian 4.65. The original thought was that maybe he just had a bad day and he would run much better at the Florida Pro Day. That didn’t happen, as he ran much slower. Many scouts had him in the 4.74 range.

At that speed, he is now a tough sell to take in a premium round. Many of the press-coverage teams won’t be interested at all while some predominately zone teams may take a chance in the third round. I’d be shocked if he went any higher than the third. Corner is a stopwatch-driven position and what a player times has a lot to do with where he gets drafted.

Washington’s Sidney Jones looked like a lock top-three corner until his last drill at the Washington Pro Day. During that drill, he had the misfortune of tearing his Achilles tendon and now his draft status is up in the air.

After surgery, Jones swore that he would be ready to go by training camp. While athletes always give a positive prognosis, history tells us something different. An Achilles tear can be very difficult to come back from. Yes, many do, but many others don’t. No one is certain that Jones will come back to the same form he showed before the injury.

During meetings leading up to the draft, clubs will rely on their medical staff to give them the answers. It goes without saying that all 32 clubs will not have the same opinion and where Jones gets drafted is a bit of a wild card.

UCLA’s Fabian Moreau was a steady riser prior to his Pro Day. His tape was outstanding and then he had one of the better corner workouts at Indy. He ran 4.35 40, had a 38-inch vertical jump and an outstanding 11’4” standing long jump. He was a player that was worthy of being drafted in the 20-to-30 range of the first round.

At his Pro Day, Moreau suffered a torn pectoral muscle and had surgery shortly after. While that injury is not difficult to come back from, he will still miss time. Recovery time can be in the 5-6-month range depending on the player. Still, that means he will miss all of the offseason program and OTAs. It is also probable that he will miss at least the first few weeks of training camp and perhaps the start of the regular season.

Because of that lost time, he will most likely not get drafted in the first round. If the medical people are satisfied with his surgery recovery to date, he could still get selected in the second round.

While these three instances have hurt the top part of the draft at that position, it is still as deep a positon as there is in the draft. What changes is the order the players come off the board. There could be as many as six corners drafted in the opening round. This players are Marshon Lattimore from Ohio State, Marlon Humphrey from Alabama, Quincy Wilson from Florida, Gareon Conley from Ohio State, Kevin King from Washington and perhaps Adoree' Jackson from USC.

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In 2016, 38 players were selected in the NFL Draft even though they weren't invited to the Scouting Combine. In the last week before the draft, PFW is introducing fans to "late risers," prospects who didn't go to the Combine but impressed at a Pro Day and are getting attention from NFL teams at the right time.

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On this episode of the Pro Football Weekly podcast, our draft expert Greg Gabriel joins host Arthur Arkush once again, sharing the biggest takeaways from his mock draft. Then Greg breaks down the cornerbacks and wideouts, including DBs Adoree' Jackson, Gareon Conley and Kevin King, and WRs Corey Davis, Zay Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The guys also discuss the importance of fit and having a plan for prospects, including Jackson and Curtis Samuel.

Our podcast is sponsored by Lootcrate. Get great gamer/geek gear and more, and save $3 on your first box by using our promo code 'shaw' at  www.lootcrate.com/shaw.

Like what you hear?  Subscribe to us here in iTunes . Leave a review, it helps others discover the show.

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In 2016, 38 players were selected in the NFL Draft even though they weren't invited to the Scouting Combine. In the last week before the draft, PFW is introducing fans to "late risers," prospects who didn't go to the Combine but impressed at a Pro Day and are getting attention from NFL teams at the right time.

Austin Ekeler never thought a vertical jump would mean so much.

A Division II running back from Western State (Co.), Ekeler went to Boulder for his Pro Day, but the NFL scouts in attendance had already done Colorado State’s Pro Day earlier and we’re on their way to Wyoming the next day.

Ekeler was one of 15 non-CU players waiting for the Colorado players to wrap up. Once they did, the scouts said they only had time for two workouts, and Ekeler was one.

“It was definitely intimidating,” Ekeler said this week. “They cut a bunch of people that they were going to see somewhere else. It’s not what you expect. I always thought it’d be more of a relaxed kind of thing. The feel of the room is tense. Everyone’s quiet. It’s all on you. Everyone’s looking at you. It was intense. But I enjoyed it.”

Ekeler started with his vertical. Standing 5-foot-8 and 5/8, Ekeler jumped 40.5 inches. That would have been the best at the Combine among running backs.

“[The scouts] wanted to see if they wanted to stick around,” Ekeler said. “I jumped 40 [inches] and they said, ‘Oh, OK, maybe we should stay around so we don’t miss this.’”

Ekeler then ran a 4.43 40, which would rank fourth at the Combine at his position. His 10-foot-8-inch broad jump would have ranked third among backs, along with his 6.85-second three-cone drill.

This D-II running back is squarely on the NFL radar.

Ekeler went to a small Colorado high school and despite 2,300 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns as a senior, he received no interest from the FBS Colorado schools. Of the Division II schools that were interested, only Western State wanted Ekeler to play running back.

“I thought I was under recruited,” Ekeler said. “I had a fire in me. It had pissed me off. I wanted to prove to the world that I could play at the highest level.”

He believes that fire will help him make an NFL roster.

“I showed everything I could to show I could play in the next level again,” he said. “I’m planning on getting another chance, like a redo, at a bigger level, a more competitive level. Throughout college, that same fire stayed with me that I had coming out of high school. It’s still with me now, to say 'Hey, I can actually do this.'

“… We’re small-town kids. I had to work even harder even to get a look. I had to have four great years in college. In a D-1 level, if you have one great year, you can get one good look. Shoot, for D-2, that’s not even close. I understand that.”

It was after Ekeler’s freshman year that he realized he had what it took to play at the next level. He wound up starting nine games as a true freshman, rushed for 1,049 yards and was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year.

As a sophomore, Ekeler set Western’s single-season records with 1,676 rushing yards and 2,903 all-purpose yards. He led all of Division II in 2015, averaging 203.9 all-purpose yards a game. Last season, he was the regular-season rushing champ with 1,495 rushing yards.

Leading up to the draft, Ekeler is training with a group that includes Christian McCaffrey, a player at Ekeler’s same position but with much different fanfare. McCaffrey has the famous bloodlines, played at Stanford, was a Heisman finalist and is expected to be a first-round pick.

Ekeler is scouring NFL teams’ depth charts to see where could be a good fit if he has a choice as an undrafted free agent. He said he’ll watch the draft and pay close attention to which backs go where.

Last summer, Ekeler interned at Noble Energy, where he could have received an offer, but his supervisor there — a big football fan — said, “Pursue your dreams and you can come back to work later.”

Ekeler’s college accomplishments include a 344-yard game … against Western New Mexico, and a 316-yard game with five touchdowns … against Colorado Mines. The level of competition Ekeler faced will be considered his weakness, but he’s not fazed.

“Sure, some teams weren’t as great as the others, but I was consistently putting up numbers, I was consistently showing I could catch the ball out of the backfield, read the right block, outrun people,” Ekeler said. “Just consistency in my game. I think that’s the thing I can lean on the most. For four years, I’ve been at the top. … I’ve been playing at a high level. Maybe the competition isn’t high, but I’ve been playing at a high level for four years. Over the span of four years, that’s given me respect.”

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In 2015, the NFL broke from tradition and held its annual Draft in Chicago, and no one would argue that it wasn’t a huge success. In 2016 the Draft was again held in Chicago, and again it was a huge success.

Next week, the Draft will be held in Philadelphia, and I’m sure the City of Brotherly Love will put on a fantastic event. To date, there has not been an announcement as to where the 2018 NFL Draft will be held, but it has been reported on various occasions that the favorite city is Dallas.

Other cities in contention are reported to be Kansas City and Denver. It has also been reported that Los Angeles will get to hold a Draft in the near future because of the amount of money that has been spent on the Rams new Stadium and offices.

Let me say that I am against any city that has the capability of holding a Super Bowl being allowed to host a NFL Draft. Why? Because the Super Bowl is obviously an opportunity to show off that city and bring in millions of dollars from people who will travel to that destination for the supreme event in sport.

I am of the belief that smaller NFL cities — cities that will never be able to hold a Super Bowl — should have a chance to host the Draft. My thinking is very simple, it’s only fair!

Northern NFL cities with Dome Stadiums have had opportunities to host Super Bowls, including Detroit, Minneapolis and Indianapolis. Add to that the fact Indianapolis hosts the Scouting Combine every year, so they should be excluded.

The cities I would love to see host a Draft include Cincinnati, Buffalo, Kansas City, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle. These are fine cities that have the infrastructure to handle a big event. Buffalo hosted both the NHL Scouting Combine and the NHL Draft, and there wasn’t a single negative review. So why shouldn't they host a Draft?

Cincinnati and Kansas City have outstanding downtown areas that could easily help put on an outstanding event. The same holds true for Denver.

If the NFL was smart, they would see the advantages of holding the Draft in these fine places. The fans of these fine franchises would come out in droves to attend the event. You don’t think Lambeau Field would be packed if the Draft was held in Green Bay?

The league's decision-makers in New York should see the advantages of holding the Draft in these smaller NFL cities. It would make a great event that much better.

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