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

Just 6 days to go; noted draft guru muses ‘make it stop! … Thank the lord next time this week we’ll be digesting the opening round of the 2018 draft. This morning all we’ve got to digest are a bunch of pre-draft pressers at which top NFL personnel execs go to great lengths to say nothing at all. Despite the fact that he has been at this for months, for example, Cleveland G.M. John Dorsey, whose Browns have the 1st and 4th pics overall, stated that they are still open to all options, even with the #1 pick, including taking a QB, Penn State RB Saquon Barkley or trading down. In response the a question about the fact that were published reports in which a ‘friend’ of Dorsey indicated that they were leaning toward taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the #1 pick, Dorsey joked that at this time of year he has no friends! Dorsey went on to state that they have had some calls about both their opening round picks, but that he expects interest to really heat up closer to the actual draft. Dorsey, though, did say some specific things about what he is looking for in a QB that could provide some clues as to what the Browns are thinking at the position. Dorsey indicated that the things he’s looking for in a quarterback are “accuracy, strong arm, red zone throwing into tight windows, and end of game does he win?” Interesting that Dorsey’s first criteria is accuracy, which of course has not been Allen’s strong suit. Dorsey also said that hand size is important for a QB playing in Cleveland which can mean playing in inclement weather. For the record, of the 4 top QB prospects, Allen has the biggest hands at over 10-inches, while UCLA’s Josh Rosen is just a tad under 10. In contrast, both USC’s Sam Darnold (9 3/8) and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (9 1/8) have smaller hands with Mayfield at just over 9 inches. Dorsey also said he likes the idea of having the first pick on the second day of the draft, but that he wouldn’t be opposed to packaging the 33rd and 35th picks and trading back into the first round. Giants G.M. Dave Gettleman, who controls the second pick, also held his pre-draft presser yesterday – anyone wondering why they bother – it’s a league rule – and said even less than the Browns’ Dorsey. Like the Browns, Gettleman set the Giants are open to just about anything next Thursday, although he did make it pretty clear the one thing the Giants were unlikely to do was trade up. When asked, Gettleman also had nice things to say about both Barkley and Rosen; he also indicated that the primary thing he is looking for in a QB is someone who can make plays from the pocket. Finally, John Elway of Denver, who pick 5th this year, stressed at his press conference yesterday that the Broncos were open for business with the pick. In fact, there were some unconfirmed reports this week that Buffalo had pretty much given up on trying to move up into the top three picks to get a QB and instead were looking at a possible deal with the Broncos to get the 5th, although the Bills could still be out of luck in acquiring a QB if the Browns dealt the 4th pick to someone intent on selecting the final remaining top QB prospect if other QBs as expected go 1-2-3. Stay tuned!

Pigskin mocks Jets picks … As he does over the past few years, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette is posting mock drafts for particular teams up until the actual draft kicks off on April 26th. Up today are his picks for both the New York Jets, who have the 3rd pick overall this year.

One week to go!!! … Just a week to go until the 2018 draft. Hang in there guys. And the actual draft can’t come soon enough as what looked like was going to be something of a cookie cutter opening round appears to be getting muddier by the day. There is a growing chorus around the league, for example, that Wyoming QB Josh Allen will be Cleveland’s choice with the first overall pick rather than USC’s Sam Darnold who has been the consensus favorite for the pick pretty much since the draft process started. At the same time, both the Browns, as well as the camp of Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, who many project to Cleveland with the 4th pick, are denying published reports that he does not want to play there. Meanwhile, there is also a growing buzz that the NY Jets are leaning toward Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the 3rd pick. In fact, it appears that all four AFC East teams have QBs on their mind. Of course, it has long been believed that Buffalo has been working the phones as hard as anybody to move up into the top 5 to get one of this year’s top prospects at the position, especially after the Bills traded incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland earlier this year. There is also a growing sense that New England would like to move up to find an eventual successor to Tom Brady, who reportedly has still not committed to playing even this fall. The Patriots currently have the 23rd and 31st picks in this year’s opening round, but like Buffalo who moved from 21 to 12 in a deal with Cincinnati earlier this year, the Patriots would likely have to move up closer to the top 10 before having any shot to get close to this year’s top prospects. Same for Miami as GM Chris Grier and VP Mike Tannenbaum were surprisingly open about the possibility of moving up in next week’s draft in their annual pre-draft presser yesterday. The Dolphins currently pick 11th and say they are committed to incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill, but Grier in particular had high praise for this year’s QB class saying that “the thing that’s impressive about the five or six guys you’re talking about is they’re all very smart and they played for coaches that have systems that some people may say are simple, but they’re asked to do a lot of stuff. Getting to know all of these guys is, they’re all very smart kids. They all have personality and they’ve all been successful. I think they all have a chance to be good players in the league. We were fortunate to spend a lot of time with each of them. We like them.” Stay tuned

Peeking down the road; an early look at possible top prospects for 2019 … NFL teams really don’t draft that way, but it’s always fun to take a look down the road and see what’s coming in future years if one wants to do a little strategic drafting. Of course, much is going to change between now and April 2019, but GBN College Football Investigative Reporter Larry Parker has put together a very preliminary list of the top 60 prospects for next year’s draft. And again, this is very preliminary and much is going to change, however, the early returns suggest that the 2019 draft could be a good one, but not necessarily a great one. The other thing that kind of jumps out of the preliminary list is that there really aren’t many individuals positions that look like they will be a particular strength next year. The top position could actually be at DT where most early lists have Dexter Lawrence of Clemson and Ed Oliver of Houston rated as the top two overall prospects, while Michigan’s Rashan Gary has top ten potential. It should also be an improved year at OT with a number of quality first round prospects including Jonah Williams of Alabama, Trey Adams of Washington, Greg Little of Ole Miss and Wisconsin’s David Edwards likely to figure in the top 20.  On the other hand, there could be a drop-off at QB next year. Shea Patterson of Michigan and Missouri’s Drew Lock have some top ten potential, but neither looks to be in the class of this year’s top prospects at the position. It also doesn’t appear that next year’s QB class eon’t have the same kind of depth. Meanwhile, there are moderate numbers at most of the other impact positions such as DE, WR and CB.

Pigskin mocks Steelers picks … As he does over the past few years, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette is posting mock drafts for particular teams up until the actual draft kicks off on April 26th. Up today ware his picks for both the Pittsburgh Steelers.

To BPA or not to BPA … One of the intriguing elements of the 2018 draft is that while QBs are expected to go 1-2-3 – if not 1-2-3-4 – when the actual picking gets underway on the 26th, many analysts consider non-QB prospects like Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, NC State DE Bradley and Notre Dame OF Quenton Nelson as the top overall prospects. So what happened to BPA. Truth is that, at least when it comes to the early picks in the draft, the concept probably never really existed. That kind of showed when we looked at the first three picks in each past ten drafts. That’s 30 players overall and given that there are roughly 10 positional groups – QB, RB, WR, OT, G/C, DE, DT, LB, CB, and S – one would expect that if only the best players came off the board in those picks they would be distributed randomly and that there would have been roughly 3 players taken from each group. Instead the data show that of the 30 players taken with those first three picks in the past decade, 12 – four times the expected number – were QBs, while there were 7 DEs and 5 OTs. In contrast, there has only been 1 RB taken with a top three pick since 2008, while there were no WRs, no corners, no safeties and no interior offensive linemen. Why? Because potentially elite QBs, pass-rushing DEs and OTs are just hard to find later in the draft, even later in the opening round, and if you need one you best not dither!

Interestingly, the distribution evens out considerably when players taken with a top ten pick, although the same positions tend to dominate. Of the 100 players (which should work out to 10 per position if they were selected randomly) selected with a top 10 pick since 2008, 17 were QBs, while there were 16 each at DE and OT. WRs (13) and LBs (11) were also over-represented among top ten picks, while CBs (7), RBs (7), DTs (6), safeties (4) and interior offensive linemen (3) were under-represented. Interestingly, while QBs made up 12 of the 30 players taken with top three picks, they actually made up only 5 of 70 selected between the 4th and 10th picks.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passes … Barbara Bush, wife of former President George H.W. Bush and the mother of former President George W. Bush, passed away earlier this evening.  Mrs. Bush was 92. Normally we wouldn’t note such a non-football event, however, Mrs. Bush is the only former First Lady, and the only mother of a former U.S. President, to have ever attended a pro day after she and her husband attended the pro day of Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M a few years back. May she rest in peace.

Pigskins’ picks Chiefs, Cowboys in mock two-fer … As he does over the past few years, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette is posting mock drafts for particular teams up until the actual draft kicks off on April 26th. And there are two for the price of one today with his picks for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys.

And then there were four … Apparently, Cleveland is still figuring out this draft thing. The trick is to narrow your list of choices until you get down to the guy you want to take. However, the Browns appear to be going in the other direction. Indeed, it wasn’t all that long ago that it appeared that USC QB Sam Darnold was a lock to be the first player picked when the Browns got on the clock to start this year’s draft. But then some rumblings that maybe wasn’t a done deal afterall as there was some sentiment within the Browns’ organization that maybe Wyoming’s Josh Allen was still in the picture. And then this week there have been rumors that Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma just might be creeping back in to the picture to be the Browns pick. Today, Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson completed the circle when he was quoted as saying that all four of the top quarterbacks now also including UCLA’s Josh Rosen are still in play at #1 or wherever the Browns take their QB. We don’t like to deal in conspiracy theories, but this kind of fits into our theory we have been talking about the past few days that the Browns still plan to take Darnold, but may be trying to influence the Giants – who have the second pick and we believe are targeting Rosen – to flip the 1st and 2nd picks. By bringing Rosen back into the picture, the Giants now might have to worry that the Browns would take him for themselves at #1; it also brings into play the possibility that the Browns just might be able to trade the #1 pick to a QB needy team like the Jets or Bills and wait until the 4th pick to take their QB if in fact they have similar grades on the top 4 guys. we may find out a little more when Browns’ GM John Dorsey holds his pre-draft presser. Only 9 days to go!! Stay tuned!

Draft buzz; Monday April 16 … There are just ten days to go until the 2018 draft gets underway and for the most part it remains very quiet out there, although some speculative rumors about a possible three-way deal between the Browns, Bills and Giants re-surfaced in the past 24 hours. Read more

Pigskins’ Pack picks … As he does over the past few years, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for particular teams up until the actual draft kicks off on April 26th. His picks today are for the Green Bay Packers.

Dez done in Big D … In something of a stunner, Dallas has released long-time star WR Dez Bryant who was set to count something like $16.5M against the Cowboys’ cap this year. The Cowboys were already looking at adding a WR sometime during the 2018 draft, but the release of Bryant no doubt increases the urgency.

No Barkley, Chubb visits with Browns … Interesting story out of Cleveland where the Browns, who have the 1st and 4th picks in this month’s draft, reportedly will not have either Penn State RB Saquon Barkley nor NC State DE Bradley Chubb in among their 30 allotted pre-draft visits. Its odd because the two are widely considered to be the most likely players the Browns select with the 4th pick. In fact, the Browns haven’t had much to do with either during the pre-draft process. They also have not held private workouts with either and didn’t even interview Barkley at the combine. The attention the Browns have paid to the pair also pales in comparison to what they have been doing with the top QB prospects whom they have been all over the past few weeks. It could simply be that the Browns feel they already have enough information on the two players, although the general tendency is for NFL teams to want more information than less, particularly in the case of Barkley whom Cleveland has had under consideration for the #1 pick overall. It has also led to speculation that the Browns already have an agreement in place to deal out of the 4th pick and move farther down the draft where players like Barkley and Chubb would be out of reach, although Washington DT Vita Vea, who figures to go around the 10th pick, is the only other first round prospect other than the QBs that the Browns have reportedly had in for a pre-draft visit. In fact, Barkley may go down as one of the most ignored potential #1 picks ever. Recall that no senior execs or NFL head coaches – heck there weren’t even any RB coaches – attended his pro day; he has had no private workouts with any team; and he’s had only one reported pre-draft visit, that with the Giants. Odd to say the least, although  heis a very clean prospect. Meanwhile, Chubb has at least had visits with the Giants, Bears and Tampa Bay. Stay tuned!

Two weeks to go until the draft; hang in there guys … Not a whole of breaking of breaking news about the draft this morning with now just two weeks to go until the picks start coming off the board, which is probably a good thing because we have really entered the silly season part of the draft process when there are rumors that just about everybody is trading down if they aren’t trading up! However, there are a number of more general pieces out there this morning including a nice overview of the strengths and weaknesses in the 2018 draft class over at Cleveland.com. Same concept as NFL Network analysts Dan Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks talk some of the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s draft here. And another interesting article from NJ.com examines how NFL teams gather and use intel about what other teams are thinking and planning. Meanwhile, Albert Breer of SI.com has a little more on the Browns’ dilemma – Darnold or Allen – with what to do with the #1 pick overall.

Is QB Allen really in play for top pick … With just over two weeks to go until the start of the 2018 draft, one just can’t get away from rumblings that Cleveland is increasingly leaning toward selecting Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the first overall pick rather than USC’s Sam Darnold who has been the presumptive favorite to go #1 literally since the start of the draft process. That and several other themes are highlighted in the latest installment of the draft buzz file.

Pigskins’ Giants mock … As he does over the past few years, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for particular teams up until the actual draft kicks off on April 26th. He started with the Denver Broncos yesterday and moved onto the Giants today.

Pigskins’ Broncos mock … Back by popular demand, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for particular teams starting today with the Denver Broncos.

No buzz today … The start of the 2018 draft is literally two weeks away and normally at this time of the year the NFL community is awash in rumors about potential trades and who’s hot and who’s not on draft boards around the league. For whatever reason, though, it’s dead this year, although there are whispers that more than one team is trying to move up in the opening round. Read more

With Rams-Pats trade GBN projection updated … In the aftermath of last week’s trade in which the LA Rams acquired veteran WR Brandin Cooks from New England for the 23rd pick in the opening round of the 2018 draft, the GBN’s three-round projection has been updated. As usual, we also add a note that we generally aren’t big fans of mock drafts. Not that they aren’t fun to do and, analyzed correctly, can provide some useful information. However, most fans tend to read them as ‘mini-drafts’ and focus only on the picks assigned to their respective team and ultimately miss the point of the exercise which is not to identify which particular player a particular team is going to pick at a particular spot in the draft, but to give some idea what players are likely to be available at different spots in the draft. It’s not a bad bet that QBs will go 1-2-3 in some order at the top of this year’s draft and that the real drama of this year’s opening round could come when Cleveland gets on the clock with the 4th pick. The Browns are expected to take a QB with the #1 pick overall meaning they should get their choice of the top-rated non-QB prospects. The Browns, though, are also expected to get plenty of calls about a potential trade for the pick. Buffalo, in particular, is believed to be almost desperate to get up into the top 5 to get one of those QBs. According to reports out of Cleveland, the Browns are leaning toward keeping the 4th pick and going for quality over quantity. However, we would not be surprised if Buffalo ultimately doesn’t make an offer the Browns simply can’t refuse so we have projected that trade in this mock, although, of course, we won’t know for sure until the 26th. Hang in there!

Sad day in Canadian sports … We don’t veer off the beaten track very often, especially with the draft less than three weeks away, but every so often we are reminded that sports are just that. Yesterday afternoon, a bus carrying a Junior A hockey team in Saskatchewan to a playoff game collided with a tracker trailer. So far, there have been 14 fatalities, essentially half the team. It hits home because I am originally from Saskatchewan. It also hits home because my grandson is a hockey player and the one thing that keeps one awake at night is all the travel as they put in thousands of miles every year, much of it on back roads in less than ideal weather conditions. Meanwhile, it was announced in Ottawa yesterday that Jonathan Pitre had passed away. He was a 17-year-old kid who had lived his entire with a rare skin condition. However, while every moment of Jonathan’s life was spent in pain he had an indomitable spirit and a love of life, especially sports. In the past few years he had become very close to the Ottawa Senators and wanted to be a scout. Our prayers go out to all the families involved.

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