GBN projection updated … With all teams now having had their byes – not to mention the fact that its a holiday weekend with plenty of football on the menu – it seems like an appropriate time to update the GBN’s projection for the opening round of the 2016 draft. And as we usually note at this time of year, while we always enjoy hearing people’s comments on the various picks, it is still a little early to be getting the ‘what are you guys smoking up there? … the Buckaroos will never EVER take a …. ‘ type comments. What in fact what one is trying to do at this time of year is make an educated guess based on the latest intel as to what kind of players are going to be available at different stages of this year’s opening round.
Iowa DE applies for extra year of eligibility … Iowa DE Drew Ott, a mid-round draft prospect who played little this fall because of knee and elbow surgeries, has submitted paperwork for an extra year of collegiate eligibility, although he doesn’t necessarily meet all the NCAA’s criteria for a medical hardship waiver. Ott dislocated his elbow in the first quarter of the Hawkeyes’ season opener, although he did play sparingly over the next couple of weeks, but then was lost for the season when he tore his ACL in 6th game. As a result, Ott did not play in the second half of the season, one of the NCAA’s criteria for getting an extra year, but did technically play in more than 40% of the team’s games this fall, the other primary requirement. And given the NCAA’s grinch-like stand on these sorts of issues, the odds are probably against Ott ever suiting up again for the Hawkeyes; however, because he will not be able to workout prior to the draft while he rehabs from the ACL surgery, Ott does have the luxury to be able to wait on the NCAA decision.
LSU WR out 3-4 months after hammy surgery … LSU junior WR Travin Dural, who is considered to be a sedcond day prospect for the 2016 draft, will be sidelined for the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn hamstring suffered in the Tigers’ loss to Ole Miss on Saturday. It is not clear yet whether the injury will impact Dural’s decision to enter the draft, but if the time period plays out as projected he could possibly be ready for the combine in February, although he would be more likely wait for a pro day type workout closer to the draft.
More names on East-West Shrine game on roster … In addition to the names of the latest players accepting invites to this year’s Senior Bowl all-star game in Mobile reported below, intrepid GBN college investigative reporter Larry P reports that the following players have been added to the list of players who have accepted invitations to this year’s East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg: Ole Miss WR Cody Core; TEs Darion Griswold of Arkansas State and Penn State’s Kyle Carter; OTs John Theus of Georgia, Fahn Cooper of Mississippi and Joe Haeg of North Dakota State; DE James Cowser of Southern Utah; DT Gerald Dixon of South Carolina; LBs James Burgess of Louisville and Utah’s Gionni Paul; CBs Ken Crawley of Colorado, Juston Burris of NC State, V’angelo Bentley of Illinois and LeShaun Sims of Southern Utah; and safety Jamal Golden of Georgia Tech
Back to bench for ‘Johnny Football’ … Cleveland QB Johnny Manziel has been demoted to3rd string after video surfaced of him partying over the weekend in Austin during the Browns bye. All this happened barely a week after Manziel was named starter for the final six games of the season, and after head coach Mike Pettine gave him a stern warning to behave off the field during the five days off for the bye weekend. Manziel wil be replaced by Josh McCown, with Austin Davis moving into the back up role. All this could put Cleveland in a bit of a bind come the 2016 draft. The Browns, who are currently sitting on the #1 pick overall, could have a dilemma on their hands if they do end up with the top pick this coming April as they likely would have the choice between Ohio State DE Joey Bosa, a local hero, or the top-rated QB in this year’s draft in a year in which it isn’t clear if any passer is actually worth the #1 selection. Whatever it certainly appears that Manziel’s days in Cleveland are likely numbered.
‘Other’ SC WR to enter draft … According to his father, South Carolina junior WR Pharaoh Cooper has decided to enter the 2016 draft because he does not want to risk potential injury by returning for his senior season. The 5-11, 210-pound Cooper, the Gamecocks leading receiver this season with 62 catches for 887 yards and seven touchdowns after catching 69 passes for over 1,100 yards last fall, is considered to be a late-second or early third day prospect for the upcoming draft. Cooper is the 3rd junior to indicate in one way or another that he will be entering the 2016 draft, joining Ohio State RB Zeke Elliott and UCLA LB Myles Jack.
‘Who caught Pigskins eye’ in college football this week … Every week, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette reviews the college prospects that caught his eye this past weekend; here’s the link to his report from the latest week on the college football schedule.
La Tech heads latest list of Senior Bowl players … The Senior Bowl has released the names of a second group of 17 players that have accepted invitations to this year’s game in Mobile. The latest group includes three players from Louisiana Tech including QB Jeff Driskel, RB Kenneth Dixon and DT Vernon Butler. Other players including in the latest additions include RB Jonathan Williams of Arkansas; Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard; OTs Jason Spriggs of Indiana and Wisconsin’s Joe Dahl; OGs Christian Westerman of Arizona Styate, Seb Tretola of Arkansas and Missouri’s Connor McGovern; LBs Kentrell Brothers of Missouri and Wisconsin’s Joe Schobert; CBs Will Jackson of Houston, Minnesota’s Eric Murray and Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana; and safeties Darian Thompson of Boise State, Kevin Byard of Middle Tennessee and Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana. The latest additions bring the total number of players committed to this year’s Senior Bowl to 36. The senior Bowl is scheduled for January 30th in Mobile.
Updated weekly selection order now available … With week XI of the NFL schedule in the books, here is the latest updated weekly selection order for the first round of the 2016 draft. Note that New England forfeited its #1 pick for deflating footballs; also note that the opponents’ W-L % indicating strength of schedule includes all 16 opponents for each team.
Hokie DE to sit first half of rivalry game … Virginia Tech DE Dadi Nicolas has been suspended from the first half of the Hokies’ in-state derby game with Virginia this coming weekend after he make contact with an official in their overtime loss to North Carolina last weekend. Nicolas, a mid-round prospect for the 2016 draft, generally apologetic after the game for the incident which he described as ‘incidental’; as such, it is not expected to have much, if any, impact on his final draft grade.
RU DT to return … Rutgers’ DT Darius Hamilton, one of the more disruptive interior defenders in college football, has pretty much confirmed that he will return to the Scarlet Knights next fall no matter how the school’s coaching situation plays out. Hamilton had hinted earlier in the year that he might only return if embattled RU head coach Kyle Flood also returned. Hamilton, the son of former Giants’ DT Keith Hamilton who had 6 sacks in 2014, suffered an undisclosed off-season knee injury in training camp that sidelined him until the third game of the year. He then tried to play in Rutgers’ loss to Penn State that week, but officially shut it down the next week. Hamilton still has to apply to the NCAA for a medical waiver, but should be a lock to get one as he has yet to use a redshirt year.
Latest GBN Top 25; CFP rankings announced … With just this weekend’s rivalry games and the conference championship games the following week to go on the schedule, its down to crunch time for teams seeking a bid into this year’s 4-team CFP playoff. And right now it looks like the powers that be have another potential controversial on their hands. Of course, there is always the possibility of upsets along the way that could really upset the applecart, but right now it appears there are going to be five teams – the conference champions from the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big XII, along with Notre Dame – all in position to claim one of the 4 playoff spots. And the last time we did the math 4 into 5 just doesn’t go. Here’s our take, though, on how that tie should be broken in the very unofficial GBN ranking of the Top 25 teams to date this year per GBN Associate Editor and resident college football guru Pigskin Paul Guillemette.
Browns ‘extend’ #1 lead; 2-3 picks still at play … Cleveland will hold onto the #1 pick in the current selection order for the opening round of the 2016 draft, for at least another week. The Browns were on their bye this week so stay at 2-8, but picked up a little ground at the top of the board in terms of strength of schedule versus those of Tennessee and San Diego, the league’s other two-win teams. How 2-3 picks play out, at least for this week between the Titans and Chargers, though, is still to be determined based on the outcome of the final two games on this week’s schedule as there is currently almost no statistical difference in the SOS of the two teams. On the other hand, the next few picks appear to be set – again at least for this week – with Baltimore at #4, Detrot at #5, San Francisco at #6 an Dallas at 7th. As usual, the full updated selection order for this year’s opening round as it stands this week will be updated after the Monday night game.
Irish CB out 6-8 weeks … Notre Dame CB KeiVarae Russell, a potential second-day prospect for the 2016 draft, will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks as he recovers from surgery for a broken tibia which occurred during the Irish’s so-called Shamrock Series victory over Boston College yesterday. What it all means is that Russell is out of next week’s big game against Stanford, but could conceivably return if the Irish make the national championship game in January. The once-beaten Irish look to be a lock to make the 4-team playoff if they can take care of business at Stanford this weekend. Russell also should be fully healed by the time the combine and other pre-draft workouts roll round this winter.
Ravens lose QB for year … Baltimore, which will come out of the week with either the 3rd or 4th picks overall in the 2016 draft selection order, will have to play the rest of the year without starting QB Joe Flacco, who tore his ACL late in today’s dramatic win over St. Louis and is done for the season. Flacco was injured on the final series, but remained on the field and led the Ravens to a game-winning drive capped by a FG on the games’ final play. For now, veteran Matt Schaub is the only other QB on the Ravens’ roster.
Buck stars leaving … In the wake of today’s shocking last-play loss to Michigan State, star Ohio State junior RB Ezekiel Elliott reportedly told reporters this had been his last game “in the ‘Shoe.” Elliott’s comments pretty much confirm that he plans to apply for the 2016 draft, although it probably was not the way he wanted go out after gaining just 33 yards on 12 carries, which ended his nation’s-longest 15-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing. Elliott, though, may not have been at full speed as he reportedly played despite a cyst on his right leg that had him in the hospital fighting a 103-degree fever earlier in the week. Elliott is projected to be the first RB off the board this coming April, possibly as early as within the top 20-25 picks in the opening round. Meanwhile, it also appears that QB Cardale Jones will be headed elsewhere near year after he tweeted after today’s game that it was the “last time walking down them steps and into The Shoe, wish the results were different.” What isn’t as clear regarding Jones is whether this means he will also be declaring for the 2016 draft, or whether he will transfer to another school where he won’t be playing behind T.J. Barrett. Stay tuned!
Sparty shocks Bucks … Wow; that’s why we love college football as the national playoff picture got turned on its head as Michigan State, which had to play without injured QB Connor Cook, stunned Ohio State with last-play FG for a 17-14 upset win. What it means is that the Spartans now control their own destiny in the BIG TEN. Beat Penn State at home next week and the Spartans will be off the conference final against unbeaten Iowa. On the other hand, for defending national champion OSU to get to the conference final, the Buckeyes will have to win at Michigan next week and hope for a PSU upset in East Lansing. At the same time, though, nobody should be surprised if Ohio State ultimately gets backs stays in the mix for a berth in the national playoff even if they don’t make the conference final, depending on how other teams fare, and of course if they defeat Michigan next week. Stay tuned!
Weekly college football picks and prospects!! … Its getting to be crunch time in college with just 2-3 weeks left on the regular schedule for most teams with all four national playoff spots still very much up for grabs. And that set’s up a terrific weekend of college games including what amounts to a pair of de facto conference semi-finals in the Big XII previewed by GBN Editor Grumpy Lindsay, while GBN Associate Editor and all-around college football guru Pigskin Paul Guillemette posts his picks and prospects for the rest of this weekend’s key games including the big Michigan State-Ohio State dust-up in the BIG TEN.
Top senior RB to miss rest of fall season … The father of Utah RB Devontae Booker, arguably the best senior prospect at the position for the upcoming draft, is reporting that the player has been scheduled to undergo what is being described as “minor meniscus surgery’ and will miss the Utes’ final two regular season games, as well as the Pac-12 conference championship game if they qualify, although the hope is that he will be able to return for a bowl game. Booker, a Doak Walker Award semifinalist who is currently 11th in the country with almost 1,300 rushing yards rushing, is considered to be a second day prospect for the upcoming draft and the injury should not impact his final grade in any significant way..
Comp picks could be trade available … NFL.com is reporting that teams could be permitted to trade compensatory draft choices for the first time. The league’s Competition Committee has recommended that compensatory picks be tradeable. The suggestion is expected to be voted on by NFL teams on December 2nd. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lost more unrestricted veteran free agents than they signed the previous off-season and come at the end of each round.