NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

Second top QB to throw at combine … Memphis junior QB Paxton Lynch has confirmed that he will throw at the NFL scouting combine which gets underway in Indianapolis in just over two weeks. Lynch becomes the second top QB prospect for the 2016 draft to indicate they will be a full participant in the on-field activities at the combine after California junior Jared Goff made the same statement last week. Lynch and Goff are considered to be 2 of the top 3 prospects at the position for the upcoming draft along with emerging North Dakota State senior Carson Wentz who has yet to reveal his plans for the combine. The combine gets underway on February 23rd with the QBs scheduled to their on-field workout on Saturday the 27th.

Injuries end promising Duck RB career … Oregon sophomore RB Thomas Tyner, who looked like a future top pick when he was originally recruited, has decided to give up football because of injuries. Tyner, who was a 5-star recruit at Oregon and would have been eligible for the 2017 draft, ran for over 1,200 yards in the season and a hlf that he played, but he missed the entire 2015 with a shoulder injury that required surgery and decided there were other things in life. According to a report in the local media, Tyner is also interested in art and design.

Senior Bowl game report: LBs and DBs … Because of the Senior Bowl rules limiting what defenses can and can’t do in the game itself, there isn’t a whole lot that one is going to learn from Saturday’s game tape about the LBs and DBs. However, one can always have observations so here goes with some passing thoughts on the defensive back 7 from Mobile as documented by GBN Editor Grumpy Lindsay in his post-game overview of the defensive back 7 players at this year’s Senior Bowl game…

Senior Bowl game skill position review … College all-star games are usually tough venues for the offensive skill position players. As a general rule, they don’t get many reps and for the most part are playing in unfamiliar systems. So what made this year’s Senior Bowl game somewhat unusual is that NFL personnel people saw pretty much what they were expecting to see – both the good and the bad – from the QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs in Mobile this year as there were really few surprises at these positions as documented by GBN Editor Grumpy Lindsay in his post-game overview of the offensive skill position players at this year’s Senior Bowl game.

College football ‘draft day’ underway … Today is national signing day in college football, the first day that high school seniors can actually sign their letters of commitment. And while many have stated earlier where they intended to go to school there is some drama today as DT Rashawn Gray of Paramus, New Jersey, the consensus top recruit in the country, will be announcing his decision – believed to be between Michigan and Clemson – at around 1 PM ET later today. Of course, unlike the NFL draft where worst shall be first, college football recruits are all technically free agents and can sign wherever they want meaning in college football ‘the rich get richer generally prevails’ in that for the most part football factories like defending national champion Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State get the majority of the top recruits, although there are exceptions. This year for example, the emerging program at Ole Miss got two top 5 recruits in QB Shea Patterson and OT Greg Little, while non-Power 5 (but should be) Houston got its top recruit ever by keeping DT Ed Oliver at home. And yes the Nick Bosa, a top 5 recruit from Florida, that shockingly signed with Ohio State is the brother of the Buckeyes’ Joey Bosa who is projected to be one of the first players off the board at the 2016 NFL draft in April.

Senior Bowl offensive line game review … While the top story line out of last week’s Senior Bowl revolved around the number of defensive linemen, and especially the defensive tackles, who have emerged as legitimate first and second day prospects for the 2016 draft, in part as a result of their solid performances in both the practices and game in Mobile, the story for their counterparts along the offensive line wasn’t as positive. However, there was some good with the bad for the Big Uglies in Mobile as documented by GBN Editor Grumpy Lindsay in his post-game overview of the offensive line in this year’s Senior Bowl game.

Pigskin Senior Bowl wrap … After a grueling two weeks at first the East-West Shrine week in St. Petersburg and then the Senior Bowl last week, GBN Associate Editor and Chief Scout Pigskin Paul Guillemette is back home and sends along this final report from Mobile documenting some final observations as well as his game all-star team.

Senior Bowl DL review … Arguably, the top storyline to emerge at this year’s Senior Bowl, and maybe for the whole 2016 draft overall has been the emergence of the defensive line, and especially the defensive tackles, as one of, if not the best unit in this year’s draft class. And that group didn’t disappoint in Saturday’s actual game with several dominating performances as reported by GBN Editor Grumpy Lindsay in his post-game overview of the defensive line in this year’s Senior Bowl game.

On to Indy!!! … With the college all-star games now in the books, its on to Indianapolis and the annual scouting combine for NFL personnel people. The scouting combine gets underway on February 24th and runs the 29th. In fact, though, most teams gives their scouts and other senior personnel execs a few days off after the hectic bowl season to rest and relax and reconnect with their families before the stretch run to the draft. Most teams then gather in their respective war rooms and put together their preliminary draft boards prior to the combine.

Pigskins All-practice team ‘announced’ … With the Senior Bowl game set to kick-off within the hour, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has reviewed his noted and made his choices for his annual All-practice Team.

Game day at Senior Bowl … Its game day at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. And while most NFL personnel people cleared out at the end of live practice sessions on Thursday, there is still a lot of stake for the 110 players or so that will be involved in today’s actual game as all 32 teams get a game tape and will have scouts pouring over it over the next week or so. Kick-off tomorrow is scheduled for 2:30 PM ET later this afternoon with national TV coverage on the NFL Network. That’s not the only coverage available, though, and our own Pigskin Paul Guillemette, who has been on the ground all week in Mobile, will be doing color commentary on WNSP Sports Radio in Mobile. Folks can listen in live by clicking on the listen live icon on the top right side of the page there. Pigskin will also be participating in the station’s pre-game show live at 1 PM ET. In the meantime, any other media outlets interested in hearing Pigskin’s thoughts on what went down in Mobile this week please contact the editor.

Day three dispatch from Mobile … Practice sessions are now over at this week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile after both teams went at it again in full pads for the second straight day yesterday which made for plenty of interesting football with lots to talk about. Here is GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette’s observations from yesterday’s second set of full practices.

Top Senior Bowl DT out of game (updated) Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins, the consensus best player at this week’s Senior Bowl practices, has been forced to withdraw from Saturday’s game because of a strained knee. No word yet on how long Rankins could be sidelined. Rankins came to Mobile rated as a solid late third round type prospect, but has started to generate some serious first-round buzz after dominating practice sessions this week in which ‘unblockable’ was the operative descriptive word. Rankins, in fact, is one of four players who will miss the game with injuries as Missouri OG Connor McGovern and WRs Leonte Carroo of Rutgers and UMass’ Tajae Sharpe also suffered minor dings this week, although none is expected to miss any extended workout time. Meanwhile, the Senior Bowl announced that Illinois WR Geronimo Allison and South Carolina State DT Javon Hargrave, two of the better prospects at last week’s East-West Shrine game, have been added to the roster for Saturday’s game, along with the somewhat less heralded WR Ed Eagen of Northwestern State. The Senior Bowl game is slated to kick-off at 2:30 PM ET on Saturday om the NFL Network.

Browns hire new top personnel guy … Cleveland has reportedly hired former Indianapolis pro scouting coordinator Andrew Berry as the Browns’ new Vice President of Player Personnel, who becomes the team’s top talent evaluator. The 28-year-old Harvard grad just completed his seventh season with the Colts overall and his 4th as the team’s pro scouting coordinator. Berry will partner with new Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta running the football show in Cleveland. in fact, all three are Harvard grads. For the record, Berry was a four-year starting CB at Harvard where he made a couple of D1AA All-America teams; he also graduated in four years with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in computer science and is expected to bring a new analytical element to the Browns’ roster development starting with the 2nd pick overall at the 2016 draft.

Bills get into QB queue … Buffalo G.M. Doug Whaley didn’t flinch when asked at yesterday’s Senior Bowl practice whether the Bill will consider selecting a quarterback in the early rounds of the 2016 draft. “If it presents itself, it makes sense and it’s a guy we like, and we believe in, absolutely” said Whaley who has to decide at the same time whether Tyrod Taylor has shown enough to be considered Buffalo’s QB of the future. And even though Buffalo only has the 19th pick in this year’s opening round, the Bills could still get a chance to select one of this year’s top QB prospects such as Michigan State’s Connor Cook. Whaley also agreed with what appears to be growing consensus in the NFL that the 2016 draft is relatively deep with second-tier development type QBs who will be available on the second day of this year’s draft. At the same time, though, the Bills could also be looking for a quality edge rusher as DE Mario Williams appears to be headed toward free agency. On the other hand, Dallas owner/GM Jerry Jones downplayed the likelihood of the QBs taking a QB with the 4th pick this year saying that Tony Romo still has 4-5 good years left. It will be interesting to see if Jones continues to sing the same song if former North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz has a strong week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile where his North team is being coached by Jason Garrett and the rest of the Dallas staff.

Senior Bowl weigh-in data posted … Courtesy of Steelers Depot, here are the key numbers from today’s weigh-in and measurement sessions from the Senior Bowl in Mobile for those who have not seen thme yet.

Senior Bowl gets underway … The final big post-season all-star game gets underway later this morning when the 100-plus 2016 draft prospects at the Senior Bowl in Mobile are weighed and measured. Both teams will then have light practices this afternoon with the real work to begin on Wednesday with the first of two days of full-pad workouts. The actual Senior Bowl game is set for Saturday with kick-off set for 2:30 PM ET on the NFL Network. Unfortunately, though, while the NFL Network provided extensive live coverage of the practice sessions in the past, it appears that all we’ll get on NFN this year is an hour-long hi-lite show at 8 PM ET each evening. The better news is that after a decade long absence, ESPN will televise practices of both the North and South teams on Wednesday and Thursday on ESPNU. Certainly, this year’s Senior Bowl doesn’t lack for storylines. In particular, the hottest guy in this year’s draft – North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz – will be in Mobile this week with a chance to establish himself as a potential top 5-10 prospect this coming April. And what makes the story that much more interesting is that Wentz is part of the North team in Mobile which is being coached by Jason Garrett and the Dallas staff. The Cowboys, which have the 4th pick this year, have made no secret about the fact that they would like to find a future successor to Tony Romo and Wentz is likely to be at least in the team’s discussions. In fact, there are a number of rising prospects for this year’s draft in Mobile this week including Utah State DE Kyler Fackrell, Southern Utah SS Miles Killebrew and DTs Austin Johnson of Penn State and Louisiana Tech’s Vernon Butler among other. For now here is the current roster of Senior Bowl players

Gator DB injured in Shrine … Florida DB Brian Poole had an eventful day at last weekend’s Shrine game as he returned an interception 98 yards for a TD, but then suffered a collarbone injury that forced him out of the sidelines. Poole, a combo safety/corner who could get some looks from teams looking for a nickle back at the next level, had his arm in a sling in the second half and is projected to miss about a month which would put him on the cusp of being ready for the combine if in fact he is invited to Indianapolis next month.

Pats, Cards picks set … After losing their respective conference championship games earlier today, New England will have the 29th regular pick in each round of the 2016 draft, while Arizona will have the 30th pick in each round. Of course, the Patriots won’t be making that first pick as New England forfeited that selection as punishment for the deflated balls issue last year. As a result, the Patriots initial pick this year will only be the 60th pick late in the second round, while they will have the 92nd selection in the third round. The final two picks will be decided by the Super Bowl. Here is the selection order for the first three rounds of the 2016 draft as it stands at this hour. The picks by team file has also been updated to reflect these changes in the first three rounds. The final 4 rounds will be updated once the compensatory picks are announced in late March or early April.

Another Shrine game report … Here’s GBN’s Pigskin Paul Guillemette with another perspective on the winners and losers from yesterday’s East-West Shrine game.

Great Blue North News Archives –>