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

Pigskin mocks Bengals draft … With the draft less than 24 hours away, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette continues his annual series of individual team mocks with a preview of the draft options of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Latest intrigue with top pick … If its Wednesday, it means the draft is just a day away and all the madness will spot. If it’s Wednesday, though – and it is – then there must be a new plan for what Cleveland intends to do with the #1 pick overall at tomorrow’s draft. Indeed, Browns’ beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot, who is one of the best in the business, is reporting this morning that there is a growing buzz around the organization that Cleveland has cooled on USC QB Sam Darnold and that the team’s choice for tomorrow’s #1 pick has been narrowed down to QBs Josh Allen of Wyoming and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield with the latter with a lot of reported momentum.  Included in Cabot’s sources is one of the Browns’ in-house broadcast team who one would figure is reasonably well connected. Of course, all this comes barely 24 hours after reports circulated that Darnold would in fact be the Browns pick and has actually been locked in for weeks. Bottom line is we won’t know for sure until about 8:15 PM ET tomorrow evening as it is simply impossible to figure out what’s actually going on there. In particular, there is almost nothing to be gained by the Browns by waffling, although it is possible that if in fact they have cooled on Darnold then maybe they would like to entice either the Giants or Jets to move up from the 2nd or 3rd picks if they thought Darnold was available; meanwhile the Browns could still get Allen or Mayfield as long as they stayed in the top three, although all that is too cute by half. Otherwise, all the waffling does is make the organization look like – well wafflers – which is not a good thing to be in the NFL. On the other hand, we can see why the Browns might be waffling on Darnold. No question he makes wow plays that you just can’t teach, but his mechanics literally need to be rebuilt from the bottom up, plus we just don’t see the intensity, instincts and football acumen that you see in Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. and, of course, if the Browns were to pass on Darnold it might set off a chain reaction in the subsequent picks. On the other hand it is entirely possible that G.M. John Dorsey and the Browns have settled on Darnold for weeks and are just pulling our chains with nothing better to do with just over 30 hours to go until the actual draft. Hang in there!

IR posts final mock … As an editorial note, both GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette and myself are dithering as to whether the post a final mock draft before tomorrow’s actual picks start to come off the board. However, Investigative College Football Reporter Larry Parker is a braver man than we are and he has gone ahead and put together his picks for this year’s picks and he has in fact some interesting outside the box selections.

Pigskin posts top 100 … With the 2018 draft now coming down the track like a runaway train, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has posted his final personal picks for the top 100 for the upcoming draft.

Mayfield back in mix at #1 … We were going to start this morning’s report off with rumors about two QBs who seem to be getting hotter with the draft just two days away. One of those is Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield who has kind of been the top 4 QBs poor cousin, the guy who somebody would settle on once the other three were off the board. Of late, there have been multiple reports that the NY Jets are seriously considering Mayfield with the third pick. Then this morning we wake up to another spate of rumors that Mayfield is very much in the mix to be taken first overall by Cleveland. Those reports, of course, come just a day after reports that the Browns had finally pretty much settled on USC QB Sam Darnold to be the #1 pick. Hard to know what’s going on there. It’s possible that Browns’ G.M. John Dorsey, or someone else either in Cleveland or elsewhere is just messing with us with nothing much better to do. At the same time, though, this is not the first time that Matfield’s name has been floated as a serious contender to be the #1 pick as he reportedly does have supporters in the Browns’ organization including personnel consultant Scot McCloughan. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, the other QB reportedly getting renewed attention is Lousiville’s Lamar Jackson. With the top 4 QBs likely to be off the board within the first 5-6 picks, Jackson the clear next best option at the position has become a very popular guy with as many as a half dozen other teams looking to upgrade at the position including Miami, Buffalo, and Arizona who pick 11th, 12th and 15th respectively barring any trades. It won’t be a surprise if any of those teams pulls the trigger on Jackson at those spots. One other team that supposedly is intrigued by Jackson is New England which has the 23rd and 31st picks and is reportedly seriously thinking of trying to move up to acquire Tom Brady’s eventual successor.

Pigskin mocks Saints, Falcons drafts … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette continues his annual series of individual team mocks with another two-fer, this time in the tough NFC South, with previews of the draft options of the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

It’s draft week!! … Depending on who is counting, just three days to go until the picks actually start coming off the board at the 2018 draft. And while there may be a lot of stuff going on just under the radar there really isn’t much buzz out there. Which is kind of surprising, because it is generally thought that there are as many as a half dozen teams reportedly interested in trading up in this week’s draft to get themselves a QB, but there are no concrete rumblings about any particular moves. There are also at least a couple of teams in Denver and Indianapolis, who pick 5th and 6th respectively, who appear to be very interested in moving down and acquiring additional picks. But again nothing much concrete. There does seem to be a growing buzz that in the end Cleveland will select USC QB Sam Darnold with the first pick overall, after the Browns reportedly flirted with the idea of selecting Wyoming’s Josh Allen at that spot. The physically gifted Allen has as much upside as any player in this draft, but he’s far from a finished product and the Browns have swung and missed so many times with their QB choices that the safer Darnold seems, well just safer. At the same time, we noted when putting the final touches on the final GBN Big Board ranking the top overall prospects for the 2018, just how stable the top 15 or so prospects have remained the past few weeks. There also hasn’t been all that much movement farther on down the top 50-100 prospects, but several players do have appeared to make moves including Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch, who could very well go in the first 15-20 picks. Meanwhile, Cs James Daniels of Iowa and Frank Ragnow of Arkansas also appear to be hot, as is Florida DT Taven Bryan. And one late riser we keep hearing about along the offensive line is Louisville OT Geron Christian. We’ll find out for sure though later this week.

Pigskin mocks Da Bears, Vikes … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette continues his annual series of individual team mocks with an NFC North two-fer this fine Monday morning with previews of the draft options of both the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings.

Steelers draft preview … Pittsburgh fan Mark Gregg has put together a pretty comprehensive preview of the Steelers draft options for later in this week which he has passed along. It looks like a potentially useful document for Steelers’ fans and its free.

Final GBN Big Board; positional rankings posted … With the draft now less than 5 days away both the GBN positional rankings (see drop down menu above) and the final GBN Big Board ranking the top overall prospects for the 2018 draft has been released. Note that our rankings are based on our best estimate of where NFL teams have players ranked rather than our own grades.

Pigskin mocks Browns picks … New Cleveland G.M. John Dorsey continues to say that the Browns still have not settled on the player that they will be selecting with the first pick overall at Thursday’s draft. If indeed the Browns are still undecided GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has some advice in his latest team mock draft for the Cleveland Browns.

Giants get Broncos P for future pick … The NY Giants have reportedly acquired P Riley Dixon from Denver for what is being reported as a conditional 7th round pick in 2019. Dixon became expendable in Denver when the Broncos signed Marquette King who had been released by Oakland.

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.

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