Gov. Christie vetoes sports betting bill in NJ

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Gov. Christie vetoes sports betting bill in NJ

HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would have paved the way for sports wagering at New Jersey's casinos and racetracks.

Christie on Friday rejected a bill that would have pushed New Jersey to circumvent a federal law banning gambling on professional and college sports in the state. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the ban.

Christie says he disagrees with the decision but feels the law is "sacrosanct."

Both chambers of the Legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill in June, days after the top court's ruling.

Assembly Democrat Ralph Caputo, a sponsor of the legislation, called Christie's decision disappointing and said the state is running out of options for raising revenue.

Christie says he is open to other approaches that comply with federal law.

Should Eagles take a top-3 WR in the first round?

Should Eagles take a top-3 WR in the first round?

As the Eagles fly to Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL combine, they'll do so with two needs that seem to outweigh all others. 

The Eagles need big-play makers and big-play stoppers. Receivers and cornerbacks.

Still well over a week away from the start of free agency, this could change some. The Eagles could hit the market and try to sign a player or two to shore up those positions. But even if they do, it's likely receiver and corner will still need to be upgraded when they're on the clock at 14 or 15 in late April. 

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock held his annual marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday afternoon, about two months from the start of the 2017 draft. The highly-respected draft analyst said this year's draft is "one of the best defensive drafts I’ve seen."

That's high praise from someone who has been doing this a long time. And he didn't stop there. Mayock continued to praise both edge rusher and, wait for it, cornerbacks. 

"I can get through four rounds of quality corners and I've never been able to say that before," he said. 

That seems like awful good news for the Eagles (see storylines).

While this draft is really deep at corner, Mayock said it's not so deep at receiver. So when asked about what his plan would be, given that the Eagles are in desperate need of both positions, Mayock said the Eagles should seriously consider a top receiver for their first round pick. 

"I think the Eagles have to figure out what their order of preference is, what kind of style they want," Mayock said. "But they've got to be looking hard at all three of those guys and know up front if one or two or all three of them are available, who they're going to take. And then I think they can drop back in a later round and it wouldn't bother me at all if they drafted a couple corners. I think they could."

This seems like a pretty solid plan. Snag one of the top receivers, then pick up value in the second round (and later rounds) by adding cornerbacks who would have gone much higher in a more ordinary year for that position. 

But last month in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman brought up a thought-provoking point about the depth of cornerbacks in this year's draft. 

"It's interesting, because last year we sat there and said defensive tackles in this draft are unreal," Roseman said in January. "You're going to get an opportunity to be there in the fourth or fifth round and there's going to be a second- or- third-round guy. And what happened was they all went. And we had looked at it before and in years where there's positions of strength, when you think you can get guys later, what typically happens is there's a run on those guys and [teams] want to get their own guys. So you just have to be careful that you're not sitting there going, 'This is a great draft at position X and we'll be sitting there in the sixth round and we'll get a great guy.' That's why just sticking to your board and not getting cute and just making sure you just get the best player for the Philadelphia Eagles."

So maybe the Eagles won't get cute. Perhaps when they pick at 14 or 15, they'll have a corner ranked high enough to say, "To heck with value, let's take our guy." Now, maybe that wouldn't create the best value overall, but if it gets the best player, it's unlikely Eagles fans will care. And they shouldn't. 

But what if one of the top three receivers is on the board and is their highest ranked player? Mayock seems to think they should pull the trigger. The top three, according to him, are Western Michigan's Corey Davis, Clemson's Mike Williams and Washington's John Ross. Mayock said he could see all three going from picks 10-20. 

While Ross has some medical concerns, Mayock seemed really intrigued about the idea of the Eagles' taking him. He compared Ross to Will Fuller, whom the Texans took at No. 21 out of Notre Dame last year. In fact, he said he expects Ross to run just as fast as Fuller (4.32), but is quicker and a better natural catcher. 

"He's probably the best vertical threat in the draft and I think that would help the rest of the Eagles underneath," he said. "They desperately need speed. So if you're talking about a guy that's going to run a 4.35, which I think he will."

Or how about Williams from Clemson? On his way to a national title, Williams impressed on the biggest stage and could become a huge target for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. 

"He's a big, physical dude," Mayock said. "I think he welcomes press coverage. He uses his physicality, he catches back shoulder. And again, if you're looking from an Eagles perspective, scoring and red-zone opportunities, he's probably the best guy at the wide receiver position in this draft in the red zone because of his catching radius and his physicality."

And then there's still Davis, whom Mayock ranks as the best receiver in the draft. Davis won’t be able to compete at the combine with an ankle injury, but is still a first-rounder. 

Based on the evaluations given by Mayock on Monday, it seems like any three of these receivers could come in and make an immediate impact with the Eagles on Day 1. That isn’t always the case with receivers. 

In January, Roseman talked about how the great receiver draft of 2014 had really altered expectations for rookies, saying in the past receiver hasn't been a "plug and play" position. Some ran with those comments and took them to mean that the Eagles would try to fill the receiver hole through free agency. 

And, besides, the Eagles were burnt by a first-round receiver not too long ago, when they took Nelson Agholor with the 20th pick in the 2015 draft. In his two seasons, Agholor has largely been a disappointment in the NFL. 

Still, that miss wouldn't make Mayock hesitate this year. If Davis, Williams or Ross are there, one of them could be the Eagles' pick. 

"I struggle thinking that the three of them (top receivers) will struggle like Nelson Agholor did, who was also a first-round pick," he said. "I think they're going to be fine."

10 prospects with something to prove at 2017 NFL Scouting Combine

10 prospects with something to prove at 2017 NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- There are exactly 330 players invited to the NFL combine this year and a lot will ride on their performances. 

In addition to the on-field tests, teams will spend hours and hours interviewing and meeting with the prospects from various schools across the country. 

There's plenty on the line this week. Here are 10 players with something to prove: 

WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
Kupp is the wideout who recently worked out with Carson Wentz. The two share agents, which is why Kupp was spotted wearing one of Wentz's AO1 shirts at the Senior Bowl weigh-ins last month. Kupp, at that point, hadn't yet met Wentz, but he was looking forward to meeting him. Kupp had a great college career, but his athleticism can be questioned. Last month, he said he was hoping to run a 4.4 in the 40 at the combine. We'll see if he can do it. 

WR Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Taylor was probably the biggest standout during Senior Bowl week, but he's from a small school and might not be very well known yet. A favorite of NBC Sports' Josh Norris, Taylor has a chance to impress this week. Under 6-foot and under 200 pounds, Taylor will still probably test very well this week. 

WR/RB Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Like a few guys on this list, Samuel is stuck between positions. He'll work out with receivers this week, but he's more of a running back/receiver hybrid. (Josh Huff ring any bells?) But if a player has two positions, do they really have one? That's the problem Samuel might face. But he'll get a chance to show his stuff and hopefully he'll end up on a team that can utilize his talents. We'll just call him an offensive weapon for now. 

CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
An injury kept Awuzie out of the Senior Bowl. That was a shame because a lot of people wanted to see him. It's a super crowded field at the corner position this year, but Awuzie could end up being great value around the third round if he lasts that long. This will be his chance to show that he belongs with the top CBs on the board. 

CB Teez Tabor, Florida
Some think Tabor is the top cornerback in the draft, while others aren't so sure he's the top cornerback coming out of Florida. So, yeah, Tabor has plenty to prove. He’s an intriguing guy with the Eagles in mind because of his aggressive nature, but NFL.com's Lance Zierlein brings up a possibility that Tabor "fears deep speed." We'll need to pay attention to his 40. 

DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
So far, so good for the 6-7, 280-pound specimen, whom Eagles personnel head Joe Douglas called "a body beautiful as it gets." There's no question Kpassagnon is a physical freak, and he looked good against high-quality competition in the Senior Bowl. But he's still pretty raw and a good showing this week could ease the fears of some front office executives. 

LB Haason Reddick, Temple 
The Temple defensive player is switching positions, but has looked fine in the process. In fact, many have him ranked as the second-best linebacker in the draft, after Alabama's Reuben Foster. But any time a player switches positions, teams are going to want to see as much on-field work as possible. This week could help Reddick become a first-round pick. 

OL Dion Dawkins, Temple
Dawkins played tackle in college, but was a guard last month at the Senior Bowl and likely projects there as a pro. He was open to the switch, saying he'll play wherever teams want him to. Because of the switch from tackle to guard, there's a really good chance he'll test very well this week. As an athletic interior lineman, he could help his status a lot. 

S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
The Michigan standout might be the most interesting player in Indy because he was so good in college, but no one really knows how to project him to the NFL. It's clear he's a first-round talent, but is he a linebacker? A safety? It's clear he's somewhat of a tweener, but if he has a good week, he should still be a first-round pick. Like Samuel above, it's all about making sure he goes to the right team. 

RB Jamaal Williams, BYU
While we'll be watching several 40 times closely, perhaps this is the one we should all care about the most. At 6-0, 211, Williams has the size to be a workhorse back, but does he have the speed to separate from NFL players? We'll find out.