NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

Media outlets wishing to interview Colin Lindsay or Pigskin Paul Guillemette about the draft or other football topics should email the editor or call 613-692-1088

No mock today!!! … We have had several queries over the past few days about why our latest mock is a seriously outdated one going way back to December 5th. The simple answer is we haven’t done one since. The reason we haven’t done one since is that we simply have no clue at this time how the QB situation is going to play out in the early going of this year’s draft. And until we get a little better feel whether guys like Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray and maybe even Drew Lock go top 5, or maybe top 10 or later anyone trying to mock this draft is just throwing spaghetti at a dart board and hoping something sticks. Plus, the situation will be even more complicated if one or more of this year’s top QBs end up being top 5 worthy – and it is looking more and more likely that that is going to happen – because the teams likely to be looking at the QBs with their top 2019 selections are all currently picking outside the top 5 picks and if history is any guide will need to move up – maybe even way up – in order to get one of the top guys at the position. And trying to figure out which teams are likely to move up – and how far – is like herding cats, although it was helpful that Denver likely may have taken itself out of that trade mart by trading for Joe Flacco yesterday. Anybody who tries right now is simply guessing and we’d venture that none of the mocks currently out there these days are worth the paper they are printed on! That’s without taking into account where Nick Foles ultimately ends up in a trade or free agency as he is yet another veteran mock wild card which may take another team out of the draft trade scenario. We could update our mock, but all we’d really be doing is throwing out some click bait which we are simply not comfortable doing. What we are hoping to do over the next few days is come up with a format which will allow us to address some of these issues so please bear with us.

Rising DE Ferguson out of combine … Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson, the NCAA’s all-time leading sacker, was supposed to have been one of the most intriguing prospects at the scouting combine later this month. Instead, teams will have to wait after a background check turned up an off-field issue that made Ferguson ineligible to attend the combine under the league’s new personal conduct policy. Ferguson, who had 45 career sacks including 17.5 this past season, was convicted of simple battery during his freshman year at Louisiana Tech following a fight at a local McDonald’s outlets. Personally, it actually sounds pretty lame, but a new league policy states that players who have been convicted of a crime involving violence will not be allowed to attend the combine. And rules is rules! However, NFL teams don’t seem all that concerned with a number reportedly already reaching out to schedule visits after the combine. The whole business should also make Louisiana Tech’s pro day a popular stop next month.

Updating Broncos-Ravens trade for vet QB Flacco … Just a quick update on that trade in which Denver has reportedly agreed to a trade in principle with Baltimore to acquire veteran QB Joe Flacco. Sources are reporting that the compensation will be a 4th round draft pick; however, the Broncos actually have two 4th rounders – their own, plus Houston’s acquired in last years’s deal involving WR Demaryius Thomas – and it is still to be determined which of the two the Ravens will receive. In fact, we likely won’t know for sure until the new NFL league year begins March 13th. While the Broncos may still look to add a young QB in the 2019 draft as Flacco is 34, it is now more likely that it won’t come with the 10th pick overall. The deal would also likely seem to eliminate the likelihood of the Broncos trading up from the 10th pick. Given that Flacco has a huge cap hit of over $26M it is also likely that Denver will look to trade or release incumbent starter Case Keenum. Stay tuned!

Top 10 DT Simmons tears ACL … As first reported by ESPN earlier today, former Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons, a potential top ten prospect for the 2019 draft, suffered what is believed to be a torn ACL during training for the draft. A fina diagnosis is still needed to confirm the full severity of the injury, but if it is indeed a torn ACL Simmons will certainly miss the combine and his pro day. He’s also at iffy for the start of the season and likely won’t be fully 100% until later in the upcoming season. In the past, though, NFL teams have taken injured players with relatively early picks and used their rookie seasons as almost redshirt years so it is possible that Simmons could still be at least an early to mid-second day pick.

It IS on! OU QB Murray commits to football … Just four days before he was scheduled to report to the Oakland A’s spring training facility, Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray has tweeted earlier today that he is in fact committed to playing football going forward and will heading to this month’s scouting combine in Indianapolis rather than the diamond. If nothing else, Murray should be one of the most interesting prospects to come along in a long while. No question that Murray is a wondrously talented athlete who came from nowhere to win this year’s Heisman Trophy, but there are real questions how well his game will translate to the NFL as he’s only in the 5-10, 195 pound which isn’t anywhere near prototype for NFL QB measurables. The sense one gets at this time is that the NFL regards him as a first round prospect, but otherwise just don’t really know what to make of his skill set collectively as there just isn’t a realistic comp in the game today. Needless to say the combine will be a first stepping stone for Murray both on the field and off where among other things he will have to convince NFL teams that pro football isn’t some passing fancy. Stay tuned!

QB Gubrud wins appeal; gets 6th year at WSU … Washington State got an early Valentine’s Day gift from the NCAA when the otherwise grinch-like organizations confirmed that former Eastern Washington QB Gage Gubrud had won his appeal and will be granted a medical redshirt year that will make him eligible to play for the Cougars next fall as a grad transfer. The 6-1, 205-pound Gubrud, an FCS All-American and two-time Walter Payton Award finalist at Eastern Washington, is expected to replace Gardner Minshew running the Cougars’ high-octane offense which should be an easy adjustment for him after throwing for almost 10,000 yards, while running for another 1,000-plus on the ground in three years at Eastern Washington. The sidebar to the story is the speed at which the NCAA came to its decision. In the past, these issues could take months to resolve with no one ever being exactly sure what the criteria were; however, the Gubrud decision came down just a week after his initial request was denied which will allow him to participate in spring practice which gets underway in a couple of weeks. In fact, the NCAA has been in a very forgiving mood these day. Literally hours before the Gubrud decision came down, the NCAA had announced that former Georgia QB Justin Fields had been granted a waiver transfer that will make him eligible immediately at Ohio State where he is expected to replace Dwayne Haskins who is off to the NFL. Fields was one of the top recruits in the country last fall, but wasn’t going to beat out incumbent UGA starter Jake Fromm for at least another season. In fact, it has been like the wild west out there when it comes to QB transfers this year. Jalen Hurts, who once led Alabama to a national championship, but has moved to Oklahoma where the senior will try and replace the last two Heisman Trophy winners, is probably the biggest name QB to change addresses the winter, but he is just the tip of the iceberg in what at times looks a game of musical QB chairs. Indeed, with the arrival of Hurts at OU, junior Austin Kendall, who looked to be the heir apparent for the Sooners transferred to West Virginia where he will replace Will Grier. At the same time, other QBs who moved on this off-season include senior Shane Buechele, who just announced that he is leaving Texas for SMU; Brandon Wimbush moves from Notre Dame to Central Florida for his senior season; senior Ben Hicks moved from SMU to Arkansas; senior Riley Neal goes from Ball State to Vanderbilt; and senior Tom Stewart goes from Harvard to Rice. Two others veteran QBs: Virginia Tech junior Josh Jackson and California senior Ross Bowers will also transfer but have yet to settle on a destination. They will also be eligible for the 2020 draft. Meanwhile, with the arrival of Fields at Ohio State, former Buckeye redshirt sophomore Tate Martell announced he was moving to Miami, although his eligibility for 2019 is still to be decided. GBN Investigative College Football Reporter Larry Parker contibuted mightily to this report.

Vols’ OT Richmond to transfer … Tennessee has confirmed that veteran RT Drew Richmond has entered the transfer portal and will almost assuredly be playing elsewhere next fall. Richmond, a 5th year senior this coming fall, had seriously considered entering the 2019 draft where he had been considered at one point to be a possible top ten prospect at the position.

Wyoming DE Granderson charged with sex assault … Wyoming DE Carl Granderson, a solid second-tier prospect for the 2019 draft, has been charged with third-degree sexual assault and sexual battery stemming from an off-campus incident that occurred after the season. The 6-4, 225-pound Granderson who is the 10th rated DE on the GBN positional ranking, is scheduled to be in Indianapolis for the scouting combine later this month after participating in the Senior Bowl last month. It remains to be seen, though, whether Granderson’s combine is revoked or not as the incident is in violation of the event’s personal conduct code.

Star game disappointments … One of the cliches regarding the all-star games is that players can’t hurt their grades if they show up, but play poorly. Nice sentiment, but it is just not the way it works. Of course, if a player struggles at the Senior Bowl or other star game then NFL teams are going to take notice and if nothing else will go back to their college tapes to see if they have missed anything. With that in mind, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has posted some thoughts on players who had poor outings at their respective all-star games.

Guess who’s not coming to dinner … As noted in the earlier report on the fact that the NFL has released the list of 338 players that will be attending the scouting combine which gets underway in Indianapolis on February 26th, who actually gets invited to the combine is important as it is an indicator, albeit imperfect, of which prospects NFL teams want to see. And in general they want to see players on whom they already have a pretty good grade. The other side of the coin, of course, is which players didn’t get invites to Indianapolis this year. Perhaps the most surprising omission is Georgia State RB/WR/KR Penny Hart who was one of the stars of Senior Bowl week last month. Same story for CBs Iman Marshall of USC and Jimmie Moreland of James Madison who also had strong Senior Bow week. Meanwhile, other generally highly regarded players who were not invited to the combine include QBs Eric Dungey of Syracuse and Oklahoma State’s Taylor Cornelius; Florida State RB Jacque Patrick; Hawaii WR John Ursua; 6-8 Stetson TE Donald Parham; OTs A.T. Hall of Stanford and Texas’ Calvin Anderson; OGs Bunchy Stallings of Kentucky, Alabama’s Lester Cotton, B.J. Autry of Jacksonville State, and Damien Prince of Maryland; Stanford C Jesse Burkett; BYU DE Corbin Kaufusi; DTs Marquise Copeland of Cincinnati, LSU’s Ed Alexander, Ricky Walker of Virginia Tech and Wisconsin’s Olive Sagapolu; ILBs Joe Dineen of Kansas and Buffalo’s Khalil Hodge; CB Clifton Duck of Appalachian State; and safeties Chris Johnson of North Alabama, Jalen Young of Florida Atlantic and Washington’s JoJo McIntosh. At the same time, star Mississippi State DT Jeffrey Simmons, who is garnering some legit top ten buzz, along with Colorado State WR Preston Williams also won’t be in Indianapolis later this month as they ran afoul of the combine’s personal conduct rules.

Combine participants list released … The NFL has just released the list of 338 players that will be attending the scouting combine which gets underway in Indianapolis on February 6th. And included on the list is Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray who still has not formerly declared whether he is going to pursue a career in baseball or football. Time is running out for Murray, though, as the Oakland A’s, the MLB team that drafted him in the opening round of their draft last spring, head to training on February 15th and he’s got to go to one or the other. In fact, who is on the combine participation list in itself is important. While being invited to the combine is no guarantee of ultimately being drafted, the players that are invited to Indianapolis are those that the NFL wants to see there and is a pretty good indication which players are carrying draftable grades on NFL boards.

Reading the QB tea leaves … Given that QBs generally make up an inordinate share of players selected early in the draft, 2019 should be interesting in that a) each of the teams holding top 5 draft picks this year all appear to be relatively well set at the position everything else being equal; while b) there are a number of teams right behind the top 5 that do have QB issues. That list includes both the Giants and Jacksonville, who pick 6th and 7th respectively in the opening round, but it could also include a number of other teams including Denver at #10, Cincinnati at #11, Miami at #13 and Washington at #15 among others. Just how open those teams are about trying to find a QB in the upcoming draft, which probably means have to trade up to get their guy, though, is still to be determined. At Denver, for example, incumbent starter Case Kenum was quoted this week as saying that he was “really excited about the direction of the program” and looking for a “fresh start” after meeting with new Broncos’ head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. However, Broncos’ G.M. John Elway was a little more uncertain describing Keenum as “probably a short-term fix.” Ouch! Meanwhile, QB Ryan Tannehill appears to be on the outs in Miami as Dolphins’ G.M. Chris Grier praised said he definitely would consider selecting a quarterback in this year’s draft. Grier added that no final decision on Tannehill’s status won’t be made until new head coach Brian Flores, who just arrived in Miami from Super Bowl champion New England, has had a chance to evaluate their roster, but the writing appears to be on the wall. On the other hand, there were rumors out of Cincinnati pretty much all season that QB Andy Dalton was on thin ice as the Bengals stumbled to a disappointing last place finish in the AFC North with a 6-10 record. However, new Cincy head coach Zac Taylor described Dalton as ‘a great fit’ for the Bengals during his introductory press conference this week.

Key NFL dates, deadlines looming … As noted in the piece on Philadelphia QB Nick Foles earlier today, the Eagles are now expected to place a franchise tag on him now that he has voided his contract option. The Eagles, though, can’t actually apply the franchise tag to Foles for another couple of weeks or as teams can only begin applying franchise or transition tags on February 19th. That’s just one of the key dates on the NFL’s off-season schedule heading toward the start of the new football year on March 13th when all teams have to be under the salary cap and when free agency and the league’s trading period begin. Here’s a quick summary of the key dates on the NFL’s 2019 calendar.

That didn’t take long; QB Foles voids contract option … Barely hours after he was notified by Philadelphia that they will be exercising the $20M option on his contract for the 2019 season, QB Nick Foles in turn has told the Eagles that he will void that option by paying a $2M buy-out provision. That would technically make Foles a free agent for now, however, the Eagles are now expected to place a franchise tag on him and then look to trade him. According to sources, the Eagles would be looking for  a 3rd round pick in exchange for Foles who led them to last year’s Super Bowl title and then back to the playoffs this past season after coming in to replace an injured Carson Wentz in both campaigns. In fact, the Eagles would likely also get something in the area of a 3rd round pick as compensation if they lost him in free agency. However, by going the tag-and-trade route, the Eagles would control to a certain extent where Foles ends up as there have been rumors about for several weeks that they do not want him signing with either of division rivals Washington or the Giants. Indeed, the most likely landing spot for Foles appears to be Jacksonville which is planning to move on from Blake Bortles and just hired former Eagles’ offensive co-ordinator John DeFilippo for the same position with the Jags, although Miami, Denver and Cincinnati among others could also be interested. And where Foles ends up in a trade or as a free agent could impact the 2019 draft especially if he ultimately goes a team like the Giants or Jags with early picks this coming April. In particular, the team that gets Foles will by definition be out of the QB market with their top pick, whereas those that don’t get him may feel a little extra pressure to go after one of this year’s top QB prospects such as Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray. Stay tuned!

EWU QB transfer to WSU on hold … Sources out of the northwest are reporting that the NCAA has denied former Eastern Washington QB Gage Gubrud’s appeal for a 6th year of eligibility. Gubrud had intended to transfer to Washington State where he would have replaced Gardner Minshew running the high-octane Cougars’ offense. Gubrud, though, will reportdly appeal the NCAA’s decision, although the timeline for an appeal is unclear. Gubrud missed much of the 2018 season as a result of a toe-injury, but because EWU advanced to the FCS national championship game, Gubrud played in just enough games for him to miss qualifying for the additional year of eligibility. Its not clear if Gubrud will still be eligible for the 2019 NFL draft if the appeal is denied or whether he might have to apply to this summer’s supplemental if the appeal isn’t completed by the end of April. The fact that he likely won’t be able to put in a year at Washington State is too bad because Gubrud could have really posted some amazing numbers in Mike Leach’s offense. In his one fully healthy year at Eastern Washington, for example, Gubrud threw for over 5,000 and 48 TDs as he completed 68% of his pass attempts, while also running for another 600 yards. Obviously, if he does end up in one of the 2019 draft, NFL teams will take a long look, although Gubrud is a little undersized at 6-1, 205 and there are some questions about his overall arm strength.

Tide S cleared in old assault case … With the scouting combine looming, Alabama FS Deionte Thompson, the consensus top prospect at the position for the 2019 draft, got some good news as an aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident in 2017  safety was dismissed earlier today. Thompson was arrested in April, 2017 and later indicted on one count of felony aggravated assault after he was accused of kicking another man in the head during a spring break brawl in Texas that spring. Thompson has maintained since that he wasn’t involved in the fight, although NFL teams may still have some questions during combine interviews later this month.

FSU QB story takes yet another twist … The on-going saga of former, or maybe still Florida State QB Deondre Francois took yet another turn twist earlier today when family members of the ex-girlfriend who had accused him of domestic abuse, but had supposedly recanted her story and apologized, claimed that her social media account had been hacked and that the recantation and apology were faked. Investigators reportedly are looking for Russians! For those that missed the earlier chapters, Florida State had dismissed Francois, their one-time starting quarterback after a video surfaced involving a supposed fight between Francois and the girlfriend, although it was actually more audio than video. Francois, who had seriously considered transferring at the end of the season, but ultimately opted to stay in Tallahasse for what would have been his senior season, then put his name into the transfer portal. Its not clear at this time whether the school will now reconsider the original dismissal, although one would think that maybe a fresh start would likely be the best option for everyone involved, especially since Francois, who had looked like a rising star back in 2016, but has seen his career go sideways since, would not have gone to training camp as the Seminoles’ starter next fall.

First three rounds set; Raiders with most early picks … With the Super Bowl now in the books, we in fact now know the full selection order for the first three rounds of the 2019 draft, with the exception of the compensatory picks which are expected to be announced later this month at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Of course, much can – and likely will change with trades – but for now Oakland looks to be the busiest team in the first two days of the upcoming draft with 5 picks in the first three rounds including extra picks in the opening round acquired from Chicago (#24) and Dallas (#27) to go along with their #1 pick, the 4th overall. Other teams that will be busy on April 25th and 26th include Cleveland, Kansas City, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville amd Indianapolis, each of which has four picks in the first three rounds. On the other hand, New Orleans, Chicago and the LA Rams currently have just one premium pick in this year’s draft. While the Raiders have the most top 100 picks so far, three other AFC teams including Buffalo, Cleveland and Denver, along with Green Bay currently have the most overall picks at the upcoming draft according to our unofficial count with 10 each. Meanwhile, Oakland is in the next group with 9 along with Detroit and the NY Giants. Again, at the other end of the spectrum, Chicago and the Rams have the fewest total picks to date with just 4 each, while Dallas, Minnesota, New Orleans, Seattle and Washington have 5 each. Here is the full list of picks by team with certain provisos. First, picks in rounds 4-7 are only by round; again the actual picks will only be determined once the comp picks are announced. Also note that this is an unofficial list based on our own tracking of trades involving 2019 picks. We are pretty confident of who has what through the first 6 rounds, but a number of conditional trades are yet to be confirmed. Needless to say if anyone is aware of any updates that need to be made please let us know.

Pigskin’s Senior Bowl risers list … While just about everybody in the official and non-official NFL scouting community has turned their attention toward Indianapolis where the combine gets underway in just three weeks, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette can’t get his mind off Mobile and the Senior Bowl. He weighs in with some thoughts on a set of a number of players generally considered to be second-tier type prospects who really helped their status with solid weeks in Mobile. Read more.

Patriots win again; first round selection order set … What’s old is new as the New England Patriots win another Super Bowl to wrap the 2018 season. As a result, the final two spots in the opening round selection order for the 2019 draft has been set with the Patriots to have the 32nd and final regular pick in each round, while the Los Angeles Rams will have the 31st pick in every round. Here is the updated opening round selection order.

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