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First-round projection updated … Just in time for the holiday weekend, the GBN projection for the opening round of the 2019 draft has been updated, particularly given the shuffling of the selection order over the course of the past couple of weeks. Note, we are projecting that Oakland is trading incumbent starting QB Derek Carr somewhere, hence the choice of Oregon QB Justin Herbert with the 3rd pick overall. Also note that we did not include Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins in this mock because we just don’t see him coming out this year. If that changes, we’ll change. Meanwhile, the other interesting aspect of this projection is just how many pretty good players were left on the board including QBs Drew Lock of Missouri, Ryan Finley of NC State and Washington State’s Gardner Minshew; all the RBs including Bryce Love and Damien Harris; offensive linemen such as OTs Dalton Risner, David Edwards and Calvin Throckmorton, and Cs Elgton Jenkins and Tyler Biadasz, TE Noah Fant, WRs JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Anthony Johnson; OLBs Bryan Burns and Devin Bush; ILB Te’von Coney, DEs Joe Jackson and Austin Bryant among other top-rated players on the current GBN Big Board. Have a great weekend everyone!
Selection order updated … Often when you get one of those much anticipated match-ups of top teams as we had in tonight’s Monday nighter, it turns out to be a dud. However, all we can about tonight’s game between Kansas City and the L. A. Rams is WOW after the Rams held off the Chiefs 54-51 in the third highest scoring game in NFL history. With the win, the Rams hold onto the NFC lead, 1/2 game ahead of New Orleans, while the Chiefs still lead the AFC, also by a half game over Pittsburgh. And with this week’s action in the books, here is the full, updated selection order for the 2019 draft were it to be held this week.
College playoff positioning heats up … Big week in college football coming up with the annual traditional Thanksgiving rivalry games on the schedule. And after another interesting week this past weekend in which just about all the teams still in contention for the 4-team CFP all held serve. Indeed, with just this week, plus next weekend’s conference championship games, it appears there are still as many as 8 or 9 teams with a shot at making the real college post-season. The three remaining unbeaten Power 5 teams – Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame – of course, control their own destinies and will make the playoff if they win out; indeed, Alabama and Clemson likely would still make it even with a loss. On the other hand, though, there is a real scramble for the 4th and final spot. Certainly the winner of Saturday’s Michigan/Ohio State battle will be staking a claim if they win the BIG TEN title game against Northwestern the following week; same for Oklahoma, which plays West Virginia in the BIG XII this week, while Washington State, which plays cross-state rival Washington in the Apple Bowl on Friday night, still has an outside shot from the far coast. Meanwhile, SEC East champion Georgia still has a path, but would have to beat #1 Alabama in the SEC title game early next month. Then there’s still unbeaten Central Florida, the top-rated non-Power 5 team in the country, which has finally sneaked into the top 10 this week, but would still need a plethora of upsets to make the playoff. And if all that just screams out the need for an expanded CFP playoff you wouldn’t be far wrong. But that is, sadly, still a ways off. In the meantime, here’s how GBN Associate Editor and resident college football guru Pigskin Paul Guillemette has the teams ranked with those 2-3 weeks to go.
Big Board; position rankings updated … While everyone waits for Monday Night’s big game between conference leaders Kansas City and the Rams in Los Angeles, the GBN Big Board and the positional rankings (see drop down menu above) have been updated and expanded. The big mover on the latest Big Board is Alabama junior DT Quinnen Williams who has rocketed up to the #2 spot behind Ohio State DE Nick Bosa. In fact, it is looking more and more like it could be the ‘Year of the DT’ at the upcoming draft with 5 in the the top 15 prospects and a total of 9 in the first 32. And given that our overall ranking attempts to reflect what NFL teams are thinking these days rather than how we rate the guys ourselves, the position that is really hard to get a read on around the NFL are the QBs. There are actually a goodly number of talented QBs in this year’s draft class, but there just doesn’t appear to be a solid consensus yet whether any of them are legit, franchise types or just good prospects. Whatever, it appears that there is still a lot of sorting out to do at the position. Stay tuned!
Race for top pick tightens up … Just when it looked like Oakland might have decided to tank the season in order to come away with the #1 pick at the 2019 draft, the Raiders rose up and knocked off Arizona on a last-second FG for their second win of the campaign. That leaves the Raiders, Cardinals and idle 49ers all tied with two wins at the bottom of the league standings. However, because the 49ers have the weakest collective schedule, by a fairly wide margin, of the three teams, they will hold the #1 pick, at least for this week, followed by Arizona and Oakland at #3, with the two New York teams rounding out the top 5 with the Jets at #4 and the suddenly hot Giants at #5. As usual, the full opening round selection order for the upcoming draft will be updated after tomorrow night’s epic showdown between league leaders Kansas City and the Rams in Los Angeles.
CFL to pick Grey Cup teams … While the NFL enters the home stretch to the regular season, the CFL is winding down to next week’s Grey Cup game in Edmonton with the league’s semi-final match-ups later this afternoon. In the East, Ottawa will host Hamilton at 1 PM ET, while the western final goes at 4:30 PM ET with Calgary hosting Winnipeg. Both games will be telecast on TSN and RDS in Canada and ESPNNEWS in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Canadian college title will be decided next Saturday afternoon when defending national champion Western plays at Laval in Quebec City in a battle of unbeaten teams. In fact, its the second straight year for Western versus Laval in the CIS final as the Mustangs knocked off the Rouge et Or 39-17 last season.
More shuffling of top of selection order to come … While most of the football world anxiously awaits tomorrow night’s titanic Monday night match-up of 9-1 teams between Kansas City and the Rams in Los Angeles, there should be some shuffling of the top of the selection order for the 2019 draft with a couple of games involving teams currently sitting on top ten picks. In fact, it may be now or never for Oakland, which is currently sitting on the #1 pick overall, and plays at Arizona, which would pick 4th were the draft held this week, in a late afternoon game. Meanwhile, the #3 Giants, who dropped out of the #1 pick as a result of their win in San Francisco last Monday, will try and win two in a row for the first time in three years, when they host 3-6 Tampa Bay, which sits 10th in the current selection order, in an early game this afternoon. At the same time, though, any shuffling of this week’s selection order will be muted by the fact that three teams among the first 6 picks – #2 San Francisco, #6 Buffalo and the Jets who would pick 5th – have their byes this week. As usual, the full opening round selection order will be updated after tomorrow night’s Monday nighter.
Jacket sparks sideline sparks between star UH DT Oliver and coach … They are still buzzing in Houston after last night’s 48-17 win over Tulane during which injured DT Ed Oliver, a potential top 5 pick at the upcoming draft, got into a heated shouting match with Cougars’ head coach Major Applewhite over a team jacket. Apparently, the jackets are only for active players and Oliver, one of the best players in the program’s history who was sitting out a fourth straight game with a bruised knee, was wearing one of the jackets. Late in the first half, Applewhite approached Oliver and literally tried to pull the jacket off of him; Oliver could then be seen yelling at Applewhite and ultimately had to be restrained by another team official. Oliver also did not return to the sidelines for the second half. No word yet though on how all this might be resolved. It is also something that pro scouts will needless to say be looking into in the pre-draft process. The whole episode was out of character for Oliver who has never been known as a selfish player, but he will obviously have some explaining to do during the pre-draft process.
College football week … With apologies to Bill Maher, it is time for some New Rules for college football. And New Rule #1 is that not now, not ever should the #1 team in college football, the defending national champions – and by that we mean you Alabama – be allowed to play a 4-5 FCS program like the Citadel. Ever! And certainly not at the end of November. Indeed, the only drama with a game like this is can Alabama break 100 points. Of course, Alabama isn’t the only offender in this insult to college football fans everywhere, but for some reason the SEC has decided its teams need a break before their traditional rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekend with 8 of them playing either an FCS team of minor FBS school from one of the non-power 5 conferences. Fortunately, the other major conferences are playing real games, although truth be told there aren’t many can’t miss match-ups on this weekend’s docket. Still, there are prospects to be watched out there and as GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette notes in his weekly college prospects preview of the players he’ll be watching with an eye toward the 2019 draft in this week’s college action.
First Senior Bowl acceptances … Following up on yesterday’s note that the Senior Bowl has sent out their first 30 or so invitations to this year’s game, Appalachian State has confirmed that RB Jalin Moore has become the first player to accept an invite to this year’s game in Mobile. Moore is an underrated back who was on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards for a 3rd straight year before an ankle injury ended his season prematurely early in October. Moore is listed at 5-10, 220 with estimated 4.55 speed; he’s currently #20 on the GBN positional ranking. Meanwhile, two other players have also indicated they have accepted their invites to the Senior Bowl in Texas DE Charles Omenihu and New Mexico State OLB Terrill Hanks. The 6-6, 275-pound Omenihu, ranked 21st on the GBN ranking of DEs, certainly looks the part, and has played that way in a breakout this year in which he leads the Longhorns with 7.5 sacks. For his part, the Aggies’ Hanks, who isn’t all that big at 6-2, 230, but has good speed in the 4.6 range, is a 4-year starter who is on pace to finish with over 100 tackles for the third straight season; he’s 14th among OLBs on the GBN positional list.
Top DT prospect Oliver remains sidelined … Houston has confirmed that star junior DT Ed Oliver, a top 5 prospect for 2019 who has already declared for the upcoming draft, will miss his 4th straight game tomorrow when the Cougars host Tulane in a key AAC West contest. Oliver bruised a knee a month ago and hasn’t played since, plus it does not appear as if there is any set timetable for his return. While the injury is not believed to be that serious and shouldn’t impact his final draft grade, there have been some whispers in the scouting community that Oliver isn’t as big as the 6-2, 290 he’s listed at and that could in fact drop his grade as it isn’t all that big for an interior defender to begin with. Stay tuned!
First star game acceptances announced … If its mid-November and the college season is quickly winding down a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of post-season all-star games. Or something like that if I remember my Tennyson correctly! While that may actually be a slight bit of hyperbole, the annual NFLPA All-star game scheduled for January 19th in the Rose Bowl has become the first of this year’s post-season all-star games to start releasing the players of players who have accepted invitations to those games. Indeed, the NFLPA announced a list of 37 players who have accepted invites to their game. And while most of the players on the NFLPA list are lesser known prospects, with many from obscure programs, there are a couple of big-time draft candidates in Stanford All-America RB Bryce Love and Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson. Of course, it is possible that either or both could end up rescinding their acceptance and going to either the Senior or East-West Shrine Bowls; it is also possible that both do play in the NFLPA game as both Stanford and Northwestern are known to have a strong union bent, although they could also play in both the NFLPA and Senior Bowl games. Speaking of the Senior Bowl, that game has reportedly sent out the first 30 invitations to the Mobile game. For the record, GBN College Football Investigative Analyst Larry Parker will be tracking all the acceptances; for updates please keep checking back to to All-star game acceptances file that is available on the 2019 Draft drop-down menu above.
Giants win vaults Raiders to top pick … It went right down to the final play, but the NY Giants scored late and then hung to defeat San Francisco 27-23 in tonight’s Monday night game. That raised the Giants record to 2-7 and allowed Oakland to move up into the #1 slot in the opening round selection order for the 2019 were it to be held this week. Meanwhile, with the loss the 49ers remain at the #2 pick, while the Giants would have the third selection with Arizona and the NY Jets rounding out the top 5. Here is the full updated opening round selection order were the draft held this week.
College playoff positioning underway … Interesting week in college football this past weekend in which all the teams still in contention for the 4-team CFP all held serve. Indeed, with just two full weeks left on the regular schedule, plus the conference championship games, it appears there are still 9 teams with a shot at making the real college post-season. The three remaining unbeaten Power 5 teams – Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame – of course, control their own destinies and will make the playoff if they win out; indeed, Alabama and Clemson likely would still make it even with a loss. On the other hand, though, there is a real scramble for the 4th and final spot. Michigan or Ohio State will be able to stake a claim if they win the BIG TEN; same for Oklahoma and West Virginia in the BIG XII, while Washington State still has an outside shot from the far coast. And Georgia still has a path, but would have to beat #1 Alabama in the SEC title game early next month. And if all that just screams out the need for an expanded CFP playoff you wouldn’t be far wrong. But that is, sadly, still a ways off. In the meantime, here’s how GBN Associate Editor and resident college football guru Pigskin Paul Guillemette has the teams ranked with those 2-3 weeks to go.
College football notebook … Michigan State RB LJ Scott, once an emerging draft prospect, has indicated he will return for a fifth season of eligibility next year by taking advantage of new NCAA redshirt rules. Scott injured an ankle in the Spartans’ second game on the season and has played sparingly since. The 6-0, 225-pound Scott is closing in on 3,000 career rushing yards, although he has yet to break 1,000 yards in any single season. At the same time, Utah junior RB Zach Moss is expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn MCL and likely will miss the rest of the season. Ironically, the knee injury reportedly occurred while Moss was getting into bed last week, but the actual condition actually stemmed from a long-standing pre-existing condition. Moss has emerged as a legitimate early to mid-round prospect for the upcoming draft as he has rushed for over 1,000 yards in nine games and was on track to break Utah’s single-season and career rushing records. Officials at Utah were fully expecting the 5-9, 215-pound Moss to enter this year’s draft and do not expect the injury to derail those plans. Meanwhile, while North Carolina State junior WR Kelvin Harmon has yet to formally announce whether he plans to enter the upcoming draft, but he did participate in the Wolfpack’s Senior Day activities with his teammates during NC State’s final home game last week. Again, while its not definitive, it is a strong sign that Harmon is strongly leaning toward entering the draft this year. The 6-2, 215-pound Harmon is on pace to exceed the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season as he emerged as star QB Ryan Finley’s go-to big-play target; he is currently ranked as the #7 WR on the GBN positional list.
Giants, others watch top QB prospect on weekend … Speaking of the NY Giants, who currently are sitting on the #1 pick at the 2019 draft, G.M. Dave Gettleman and assistant G.M. Kevin Abrams, were two of several senior NFL personnel people at the Oregon-Utah game on Saturday eveing to check out Ducks’ junior QB Justin Herbert, the consensus top prospect at the position for the upcoming draft. However, before anyone reads too much into Giants’ presence at Herbert’s game, it is important to note that Gettleman and Abrams were actually on their way to the Giants game with the 49ers on Monday night. Still, though, it is unlikely that the likes of Gettleman would be going out of their way to check out any prospect if their scouts didn’t already have a pretty good grade on the player. And certainly the Giants would appear to be in the market to find an heir to aging starter Eli Manning. Indeed, there are reports out of New York that Monday night’s game in San Francisco could be Manning’s last start, although with Alex Tanney, who doesn’t even really count as a journeyman, as the primary back-up, and 2018 4th rounder Kyle Lauletta still working primarily as the scout team QB, its hard to know exactly who would replace Eli. There are also unconfirmed reports that the Giants had a number of people at Saturday’s West Virginia-TCU game checking out WVU QB Will Grier, another potential first-round prospect. It will be almost as interesting to see what kind of personnel the Giants send to West Virginia’s big BIG XII game at Oklahoma in two weeks; same story for this week’s Duke-Clemson game in which Blue Devils junior QB Daniel Jones will get to show his stuff against #2 Clemson’s dominating defensive front. The Giants, though, were not the only team in Utah to check out Herbert. Miami VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was also there as were scouts from Dallas, Seattle Green Bay, Arizona and Tampa Bay. Of the latter teams, Tampa Bay might be the most interesting given the issues surrounding Bucs’ starting QB Jameis Winston. Stay tuned!
Top pick on line in Monday nighter … Once again the NFL schedule makers have outdone themselves managing to end up with the teams currently holding the 1st and 3rd picks overall in the 2019 opening round selection order were the draft held this week when the NY Giants play the 49ers in San Francisco in this week’s Monday night game. Needless to say, the Giants will hold onto the first pick, at least for another week, with a Monday night loss. In that scenario, Oakland would move up to the second slot, with Arizona, the NY Jets and San Francisco rounding out the top 5. On the other hand, with a win, the Giants would drop down to the third pick behind Oakland and the 49ers, with Arizona and the Jets falling at the 4th and 5th picks respectively. As usual, the full, opening round selection order will be updated after the Monday night game.
Parker projection posted … With just three weeks to go in the regular college football season, GBN Investigative College Football Analyst Larry Parker has posted his latest opening round projection for the 2019 draft.