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Browns-Phins hilite race to the bottom on Sunday sked … The third Sunday of the NFL regular schedule is set to kick-off in just a few hours with what appear to be more games with draft that pure playoff implications. That includes a match-up of winless teams in Miami when the Dolphins host Cleveland in one of today’s early games. The Browns, of course, are one of the current favorites to end up with the top pick overall at the 2017 draft after an 0-2 start to the campaign. And the Browns job in Miami won’t get any easier as Cleveland will be forced to start rookie QB Cody Kessler, a 3rd round pick at this year’s draft, with both of veteran QBs Robert Griffin and Josh McCown out indefinitely with injuries. Meanwhile, Chicago , which appears to be the Browns main rival for next spring’s top pick, at least thru the first two weeks of the campaign, will also turn to a backup QB when they play in Dallas in the Sunday night game with Jay Cutler likely out with a thumb injury. At least the Bears have a veteran set to go, though, in journeyman Brian Hoyer. At the same time, there a couple of other 1 PM games today that look like they involve teams that are more pretenders than contenders when San Diego plays at Indianapolis and the LA Rams at Tampa Bay. Have a great day!!
Top two prospects gimpy after being dinged in weekend action … In what was a wild and wacky week on the college football field, NFL scouts likely ended up holding their collective breaths as both Texas A&M junior DE Myles Garrett and LSU junior RB Len Fournette, generally considered to be the top two prospects for the 2017 draft at this time, both ended up rolling around the ground with what looked like potentially serious leg injuries in their respective games yesterday. Fortunately, both were able to return to the game within a few plays, but both did look gimpy the rest of the way. In fact, its been a tough year for both so far, especially Garrett who really wasn’t all that impressive against Arkansas last night … more
‘Horns OT dinged for DWI … Texas OG Kent Perkins, a late second or third day prospect for the 2017 draft, has been charged with driving while intoxicated after he fell asleep in a restaurant drive-through and then crashed into a parking lot near campus. No word on what the supplementary will be coming from the team, but he almost certainly faces a suspension of some kind.
QB Watson under draft scope … Clemson junior QB Deshaun Watson was up to some of his old tricks last night when he lead the Tigers to convincing 26-7 road win over Georgia Tech. Watson, who had completed only 57% of his pass attempts in a sluggish start through the Tigers first two games of the year, hit on 32 of 48 pass attempts for over 300 yards and a couple of scores in the win over the Yellow Jackets. Despite Watson’s solid performance against Tech we just weren’t convinced we were watching a future NFL first round draft pick. Not that there isn’t a lot to like about Watson’s game; he’s a terrific dual-threat college QB who can escape trouble in the pocket and throws extremely well on the run. Watson also does a nice job finding the open receiver when running the spread and gets the ball out quickly and accurately on underneath routes. However, Watson also needs something of a windup to get the ball downfield and there seems to be an awful lot of air under his deeper throws which can be hit or miss when it comes to accuracy. There are also questions about Watson’s size; he’s listed at 6-2, 205 and looks more like a slight WR than a pocket passer. Watson may also have a steep learning curve when he gets to the NFL as it does not appear he’s asked to much in the way of reading defenses or going through progressions. That said, you can’t teach his natural athletic ability, instincts and intangibles so we’ll leave the final decision to pro scouts, but it certainly won’t be a surprise if Wason grades out as more of a late first or early second rounder behind bigger guys like Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and/or Brad Kaaya of Miami who have stronger arms. Stay tuned!
Top FCS prospect out for year … North Dakota State has been on quite a run lately what with a former Bison being selected with the second overall pick at the 2016 draft, followed up by this year’s upset of #13 Iowa that almost had the 5-time defending FCS champs ranked among the top 25 FBS schools, but the program took a hit this week with news that veteran MLB Nick DeLuca, the team’s top prospect for the 2017 draft, will miss the rest of the season after injuring his shoulder. DeLuca will have surgery for a torn labrum and reportedly will apply for a medical redshirt extra season. DeLuca, in fact, was one of the players profiled in this week’s GBN article on the top 10 FCS candidates for the 2017 draft.
Go South young man … There is another pretty good line-up of games on this week’s college football schedule featuring three big SEC games involving teams ranked in the top 26. And there are also plenty of prospects to watch this weekend as reported by GBN Associate Editor and Chief Scout Pigskin Paul Guillemette in this week’s profile of who to watch in this weekend’s college games.
Browns first round WR out 4-6 weeks … If the NFL’s Cleveland Browns didn’t have any bad football luck they likely wouldn’t have any luck at all. The latest in the string of misfortune that has befallen the Browns is that rookie WR Corey Coleman, the team’s leading receiver, will be out 4-6 weeks after breaking his hand in a freak injury at practice. Coleman, who has averaged almost 25 yards per on his 7 receptions thru the first two weeks of the schedule, was the Browns’ top pick this past spring when he was taken 15th overall after a series of trades.
Bonus coverage … For football starved football fans – I mean its been three days since we had a meaningful game! – there are a couple of potentially intriguing games on tonight’s telly schedule. Indeed, the NFL world is abuzz with speculation about who, if anyone, will be at QB for New England when they host resurgent Houston in a battle of AFC contenders on CBS at 8:25 PM ET. For the Patriots, Tom Brady will still be in the proverbial sin bin serving the third game of his four game suspension for doctoring footballs, while prime backup Jimmy Garoppolo is listed as a ‘doubtful’ game-time decision with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. If Garoppolo can’t go, and the belief is he won’t, the Patriots will start rookie Jacoby Brissett, a 3rd round pick at the 2016 draft. And that would make WR Juliam Edelman the backup for the Patriots for the evening. Should be interesting. Meanwhile, there is an interesting ACC match-up on the college schedule with #5 Clemson playing at Georgia Tech. Clemson, of course, is led by junior QB DeShaun Watson, one of the top 2-3 prsopects at the position for the 2017 draft. The Tigers also have a couple of the top recievers for the upcoming draft in junior WR Mike Williams, who could conceivably be the first wideout off the board in April if he checks out medically, along with veteran TE Jordan Leggett. At the same time, RB Wayne Gallman, a 3rd junior, is a quality back with at least some second-day potential. For its part, Clemson’s defense features 3 decent senior prospects in DT Carlos Watkins, OLB Ben Boulware and CB Cordrea Tankersly. Meanwhile, Tech players to watch include DTs Patrick Gamble (#91) and Francis Kallon (#92), a couple of undersized interior dfenders who could get some late-round or free-agent looks as 5T DEs, and active, but undersized LB P.J. Davis (#40). Also be advised that Pigskin Paul Guillemette’s full preview for Saturday’s college schedule should be posted within the hour or so.
In conversation with … Over the course of the next few months as we head toward the 2017 draft, we’ll be talking to other draft analysts out there to get their impressions of the latest issues impacting the draft. Today’s guest is Brian Bosarge, editor of Deep Fried Draft. Brian still isn’t a household name in draft circles, but we have heard from sources within the league that he’s one of the brighter emerging draft analysts out there. Here’s the full discussion with Brian focusing in on some of the overall strengths and weaknesses of the 2017 draft as it looks today
Pigskin’s weekly prospects review … With the first three weeks of the college season now nicely in the books, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette weighs in one which prospects caught his eye this past weekend.
FCS in draft spotlight … These are heady times for FCS football. North Dakota State just posted one of the lower levels biggest upsets of all when the Bisons knocked off 13th ranked Iowa on Saturday. As a result, ND State, the 5-time defending FCS national champions came within just a few votes of being included in the FBS Top-25 national rankings. In the end, the Bisons ended up 28th. This all comes on the heels of former North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz being taken selected second overall by Philadelphia at the 2016 draft. Of course, the fact that Wentz has led the Eagles to impressive back-to-back wins to start the season is just icing on the FCS cake! All that said, its highly unlikely that any FCS player gets selected anywhere nearly as early as Wentz did last spring; in fact, it is very possible that no FCS player is even selected within the first three rounds. Still, there are some very intriguing lower level prospects for the 2017 draft. Here’s a quick profile of some of the better FCS candidates for the upcoming draft.
Bears QB out extended period … Numerous media sources, including both NFL.com and ESPN are reporting at this hour that Chicago is preparing for QB Jay Cutler to be out ‘an extended period’ as a result of the thumb injury he suffered in last night’s loss to Philadelphia. The team and Cutler are now reportedly trying to decide whether surgery is the best course of action. With Cutler sidelined, the Bears will hand the ball to veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer.
Not so lonely at the bottom … After last night’s dismal 29-14 loss to Philadelphia in their home opener, the Chicago Bears suddenly look all the part of a serious contender to end up with the #1 pick at the 2017 draft. And it doesn’t help that Bears’ QB Jay Cutler status going forward is up in the air after he was forced to leave the game with a thumb injury, although early indications are that the injury may not be all that serious. Bears’ officials will know more after Cutler undergoes further tests later today. Whatever his status going forward this year, there is a growing consensus that this will be Cutler’s last year after an inconsistent tenure in Chicago and needless to say, that would put the Bears very much in the market for a QB with an early pick at the upcoming draft. Stay tuned. (Update: Several readers including Victor F pointed out that Cutler does not become a free agent after the upcoming season. He signed a 7 year deal in 2014 and this is the last year of guaranteed money, so there is an increasing likelihood he may not be back at his current projected 2017 salary, but he is not a free agent unless the Bears release him. thnx ed)
Fastest Duck grounded by ACL … Oregon junior WR Devin Allen will miss the rest of the season after tearing an ACL in the Ducks’ loss to Nebraska over the weekend. Despite the fact that Allen is still more a track guy playing football than a polished receiver, he was likely going to get interest from NFL teams at the 2017 or 2018 drafts as he is one of the fastest players in the country; in fact, Allen won the 110M hurdles at this summers US Olympic Trials and finished 5th in the event at the Rio games. Meanwhile, Oregon officials are hopeful that star junior RB Royce Freeman will not miss much time after he left the game with Nebraska with an apparent foot injury. Freemen is generally considered on of the top 2-3 backs likely to be available at the 2017 draft after LSU junior Len Fournette.
Seahawks lose pick for OTA vioaltion … Seattle has been forced to give up its 5th round pick in 2017 for a violation of the NFL’s policy prohibiting excessive contact in offseason workings. The team was also fined $400,000 and will lose a week of OTAs next season, along with losing the draft pick, while Seattle head coach Pete Carroll was fined $200,000. The penalties are heavy because this is the second violation for the Seahawks who were also cited in 2014.
Browns down another QB as McCown likely out ‘awhile’ … The season continues to unravel in Cleveland where it appears that QB Josh McCown could be out ‘awhile’ after injuring his shoulder in yesterday’s loss to Baltimore. Browns’ officials will only know for sure later today after McCown undergoes an MRI, but they are already scrambling to find another veteran alternative as rookie 3rd round pick Cody Kessler is the only QB left on the Browns’ roster as of this morning. McCown, of course, had replaced Robert Griffin as the Browns’ starter after the latter broke a collarbone in the team’s season opener; Griffin is expected to miss as 10-12 weeks. Even before losing its two veteran QBs, Cleveland was considered to be the odds-on-favorite to end up with the #1 pick at the 2017 draft. Stay tuned!
Browns start strong; still end up woe-and-2 … Through the first 10 minutes of today’s game with Baltimore, Cleveland did look at all like a team favored to end up with the first pick at the 2017. In fact, the Browns scored three times in those 10 minutes to take a 20-0 lead over the Ravens in their home opener, but then reality set in. The Ravens blocked the Browns’ PAT try on their 3rd TD and ran it back for a safety and then outscored Cleveland 23-0 the rest of the way to drop the Browns to 0-2. If there is any solace for the Browns its that they are not alone at 0-2 as Buffalo, Miami, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Washington are also all winless through the first two weeks of the schedule. And Chicago could make it 8 winless teams if they lose to Philadelphia in the Monday nighter tomorrow evening. For the record, Cleveland gets another chance to get off the 0-2 schneid next week when they play at the equally 0-2 Miami.
Browns QB Griffin out longer than first thought … There are multiple reports out that Cleveland QB Robert Griffin is now expected to be out at least 10-12 weeks as a result of the broken collarbone he suffered in last weekend’s season opener against Philadelphia. Griffin was placed on recallable IR and there were hopes in Cleveland that he would be able to return once the 8-week waiting period was over. In his place, the Browns have turned the QB reins over to veteran journeyman Josh McCown. However, whomever Cleveland goes with at QB, they are expected to be looking at the position with their early round picks at the 2017 draft, although this is the Browns and one can never be sure. Stay tuned!!
Second Sunday set to kick-off … The second full Sunday on the NFL regular schedule is set to kick-off in just a few hours with much of the interest focused on a couple of key early season divisional games. AFC North favorites Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, for example, will play at 1 PM ET this afternoon in a key game in that division, while later tonight Green Bay will be at Minnesota in an NFC North dual on the NBC Sunday night game (8:30 PM ET). And while its still a little early to handicap the chase for the early picks at the 2017 draft, Cleveland, which looks to be the early favorite to end up with the #1 pick at next year’s draft, will be at home to Baltimore in another early game this afternoon. With Robert Griffin on the shelf for at least the first half of the campaign with a broken collarbone, the Browns will turn to veteran journeyman Josh McCown at QB. When the dust settles at the end of the weekend, there will be at least three teams with 0-2 records to start the season. Buffalo got the jump on the rest of the league by dropping to 0-2 with that loss to the New York Jets on Thursday night, but the Bills will have some company as there are two other games this afternoon between 0-1 teams with Dallas playing at Washington and Jacksonville at San Diego later today. Of course, there are other 0-1 teams playing 1-0 teams so it could get crowded at the bottom.
Vols’ CB out for ‘extended’ period … Tennessee CB Cameron Sutton, a second-day prospect for the 2017 draft, will reportedly be out what is being described as an ‘extended’ period after suffering an ankle injury in today’s ugly 28-19 win over Ohio. The team will no more after Sutton undergoes more tests in the next day or so. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for the Vols who play division-rivals Florida and Georgia in the next two weeks. Tennessee, though, did get a little better news on CB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, another Vols’ top prospects who left today’s game early, but he’s not expected to miss any further game time with a shoulder injury.