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

Senior Bowl weigh-in notes … If there was a surprise at this morning’s weigh-in and measurement session at the Senior Bowl in Mobile it may be that there really weren’t all that many surprises. The QBs, for example, turned up pretty much as advertised, while there was some impressive size at both WR and the offensive line. Read more.

Final total of underclassmen in draft down … The NFL has released its final list of underclassmen officially eligible for the 2020 draft. The official list includes 115 juniors and redshirt sophomores who have been granted entry to this year’s draft. (For the record, that’s the same number we had on our unofficial account, but our staff is checking to make sure the two lists match.) This year’s total includes 99 players who were granted special eligibility, that is they were three years removed from high school, and another 16 who have remaining college eligibility but have already graduated. And while that’s a lot of players entering a draft in which only 255 will be selected overall, this year’s total is actually well below last year’s record of 135 early draft entrants, while the number in 2018 was 119. However, the current total is higher than earlier in the decade when the number never exceeded 100.

Dispatches from Mobile; Senior Bowl report day one … Things are starting to percolate at the Senior Bowl in Mobile as the players have been through this morning’s measurement session and are getting ready for this afternoon’s practices. And GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette weighs in with some stuff he is picking up this morning in his first dispatch from Mobile.

Senior Bowl measurement numbers … Courtesy of Scott Wright over at NFL Draft Countdown, here are the height, weight and other measurement data from the Senior Bowl weigh-in this morning.

LSU CB Fulton withdraws from Senior Bowl … Just a quick note from Mobile where the players at the Senior Bowl are preparing to go through the measurement gauntlet. LSU CB Kristian Fulton, one of the top-rated prospects expected to be in Mobile this week, has opted not to participate after playing in last week’s national championship game. No word on a replacement yet.

Bengals will consider all options at #1 … There were reports around the NFL late last week that Miami was considering trying to put together a package to entice Cincinnati to trade out of the #1 pick at the 2020 draft,but that the Bengals weren’t all that interested. Late yesterday, though, Duke Tobin, the Bengals’ director of player personnel and defacto G.M., emphatically denied that Cincinnati was locked into anything with this year’s first pick and that the notion they wouldn’t consider trading the top pick was “news “ to him. According to Tobin, who was interviewed on the team’s website, that while the Bengals really like LSU QB Joe Burrow, “no decision has been made for what we’re going to do in April. We’re early in the process. We certainly haven’t had any meetings to determine that at this point. Those will be meetings we’ll have as we go through the process.” And while conventional wisdom says a team like the Bengals should sit tight with the top pick and takes the potential elite QB, a package that included two #1s and a couple of #2 picks might be very tempting, especially if there are other teams out there that might be tempted to raise the ante. Should be a really interesting off-season. Stay tuned!

Miami gets second get of the day … Literally just hours after Miami confirmed that star dual-threat QB D’Eriq King was transferring from Houston, the Hurricanes added another elite transfer when DE/ER Quincy Roche announced that he was also headed to ‘The U’ as a grad transfer for his final year of college eligibility. Roche was third nationally in sacks last year with 14 when he was named the AA Defensive Player of the Year. And while he is a little undersized at 6-4, 235, Roche is still considered to a potential top 30 prospect for the upcoming draft.

Senior Bowl week set to get underway … Folks are gathering in Mobile as we speak for this week’s Senior Bowl which gets underway tomorrow and runs through Saturday. The players from both teams will be measured and weighed Tuesday morning, followed by light practice in shells tomorrow afternoon. There will then be full workouts in pads on Wednesday and Thursday, with the actual game set to KO at 2:30 PM ET Saturday afternoon. And while most of the leading prospects for this year’s draft won’t be in Mobile this week, there will still be plenty of talent on the field this week. The most scrutinized player in Mobile this week will undoubtably be Oregon QB Justin Herbert, generally considered to be the #3 QB in this year’s draft class behind Joe Burrow of LSU and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. No question that Herbert has top 5 talent, but he didn’t always play that way at Oregon and needs a strong week to re-establish his cred as a top 10 prospect. Herbert will be joined in Mobile by fellow QBs Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma, Utah State’s Jordan Love, Anthony Gordon of Washington State, Michigan’s Shea Patterson and Steven Montez of Colorado. Meanwhile, other players to watch include Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin; WRs Michael Pittman of USC, Collin Johnson of Texas, Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State, Liberty’ Antonio Gandy-Golden, and Florida’s Van Jefferson; TEs Harrison Bryant of Florida Atlantic and Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins; OTs Trey Adams of Washington, Josh Jones of Houston and Prince Tega Wanogho of Auburn; Clemson OG John Simpson; Cs Nick Harris of Washington and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry; DE/ERs Marlon Davidson of Auburn, Jon Greenard of Florida, Utah’s Brad Anae, Josh Uche of Michigan and Kenny Willekes of Michigan State; DTs Javon Kinlaw of South Carolina, Raekwon Davis of Alabama, Utah’s Leki Fotu, and Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore; LBs Evan Weaver of California, Zack Baun of Wisconsin and Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings of Alabama; and LSU CB Kristan Fulton. Here are the full rosters for both the North and South teams.

The ‘U’ gets QB King in transfer … Miami has confirmed that former Houston QB D’eriq King, one of the more electric dual-threat QBs in the country, will be a Hurricane for his senior season next fall. The 5-11, 195-pounder was considered to be a legit dark-horse Heisman candidate late fall after he accounted for 50 TDs in 2018 when he threw for almost 3,000 yards and ran for another 700. However, King ended up opting to redshirt this past season after Houston stumbled to a 1-3 start. Meanwhile, former Florida QB Felipe Franks has reportedly settled on Arkansas as his transfer destination.

Withdrawal deadline for draft underclassmen looming … The 3-day window of opportunity for underclassmen who applied for early entry to the 2020 draft to withdraw their applications if they have not yet signed with an agent or otherwise accepted inappropriate benefits closes later today. The NFL will then release the final list of underclassmen eligible to be selected this coming April tomorrow. According to our unofficially tally, 115 juniors and redshirt sophomores have applied to the league for early draft which means it could be another record year for underclassmen in the draft, although we will wait for the NFL’s final list as underclassmen can fall into several categories some of which do not require the player to formally apply to the league.

Conference final loss has Pack picking 30th … As a result of this evening’s 37-20 loss to San Francisco in the NFC championship game, Green Bay will have the 30th pick in each round of the 2020 draft. The 31st pick will go to the loser of next month’s Super Bowl between Kansas City and the 49ers, while the winner will have the 32nd selection.

Conference final loss has Titans picking 29th … As a result of this afternoon’s 35-24 loss to Kansas City in the AFC championship game, Tennessee will have the 29th pick in each round of the 2020 draft. The 30th pick will go to the loser of tonight’s NFC title game between Green Bay and San Francisco.

Burrow to skip Senior Bowl; Simmons rising … There are unconfirmed reports that LSU QB Joe Burrow will not be in mobile for next week’s Senior Bowl. Burrow had reportedly been considering playing in the Senior Bowl, especially with the coaching staff at Cincinnati, the team just about everyone expects to select him with the first pick overall at this coming April’s draft, handling one of the two teams. However, after playing through this week’s national championship game with what was described as a bruised rib, Burrow has apparently decided on the ‘discretion is the better part of valor’ thing and will rest instead in preparation for the pre-draft process ahead. No doubt some folks are going to interpret the move as a bit of a slap in the face of the Bengals, especially with some reports that Burrow isn’t exactly enamored with the possibility of playing in Cincinnati. Of course, if he isn’t all that thrilled with the idea of playing for the Bengals, even though his family lives in Ohio and he actually started his college career at Ohio State, Burrow isn’t going to have much, if any, leverage. Still, it is something to watch over the course of the next few months. One other bit of buzz that we are picking up is that Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, who finally did confirm that he will in fact be entering this year’s draft earlier this evening, may be inching closer to Ohio State DE Chase Young as the highest rated positional prospect on a lot of boards around the league. The athletic Simmons, who is expected to blow up next month’s combine, is simply the most versatile player in college football as he took snaps this year at ILB, OLB, FS, SS, and nickel corner and even on occasion lined up as an outside corner. Stay tuned!

Clemson LB Simmons finally confirms draft entry … It took a little longer than usual, but star Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, a top 5 prospect for the 2020 draft, did confirm via twitter late this afternoon that he would indeed be entering the upcoming draft.

Shrine, NFLPA star games set to KO … The post-season college all-star schedule hits high gear later today with with both the East-West Shrine and NFLPA games set to KO. The Shrine game kick-off is set 3 PM ET this afternoon on the NFL Network, while the NFLPA game will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena with KO set for just after 7 PM ET again with coverage on the NFL Network. And while most of the big-name prospects are going to the Senior Bowl next week, both of these games do have players that the NFL wants to check out, especially for the later rounds of the upcoming draft.

The Shrine rosters, for example, feature QBs Kelly Bryant of Missouri, Utah’s Tyler Huntley, Mason Fine of North Texas and Kevin Davidson of Princeton; along with Notre Dame RB Tony Jones; Oregon WR Juwan Johnson; OTs Calvin Throckmorton of Oregon, Charlie Heck of North Carolina, Matt Womack of Alabama and Michigan’s Jon Runyan; Arizona State C Cohl Cabral; DEs Alex Highsmith of Charlotte and Joe Gaziano of Northwestern; Miami LBs Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney; Michigan CB Lavert Hill and Alabama safety Shyheim Carter. NFP types also are looking forward to watching record-setting Navy QB Malcolm Perry work out as a WR. As usual, the Shrine game also has a couple of players from Canadian universities including Alberta OT Carter O’Donnell and safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy from Montreal. Here are the current Shrine rosters for the East and West teams. Meanwhile, familiar names at the NFLPA game include QBs Brian Lewerke of Michigan State and Ohio’s Nathan Rourke; Southern California DE Christian Rector and Texas DT Malcolm Roach. Here is the full NFLPA star game lineup.

A little more on ‘missing’ Clemson LB Simmons … We are still trying to track down the latest on the draft status of star Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, the only prominent prospect for the 2020 draft who has yet to make a formal announcement. According to Grace Raynor, a local football writer who covers Clemson, Simmons told the Tigers’ coaches early in the year that he was planning on leaving at the end of the current season, so like DT Ed Oliver last January, hasn’t said anything formally. At the same time, though, it appears a lot of people following the Clemson program are just as up in the air about this as we are. Stay tuned!

Clemson CB Terrell announces; nothing from LB Simmons … The deadline for underclassmen to apply to the NFL for early entry to the 2020 draft passed last evening with one more player formally announcing their intention to turn pro this winter. That was Clemson junior CB A.J. Terrell, who figures to be a second day pick. At the same time, as far as we can tell there has been no formal declaration from the Tigers’ star junior LB Isaiah Simmons either way. Simmons is a legit top 5 candidate for the upcoming draft. As we have noted, players who want to enter the enter the draft just have to apply to the league office; they don’t have to make a formal declaration but almost everybody does whether they are coming or going. Stay tuned!

URI WR enters draft … It actually happened a couple of weeks ago, but there are reports that Rhode Island junior WR Isaiah Coulter filed paperwork in order to be entered in the 2020 draft. Coulter is an underrated prospect who had 72 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 8 scores and could go as high as the middle rounds this coming April.

Clemson RB Etienne back to school; LSU TE into draft … A couple of late surprises from the who’s in, who’s out file for the 2020 draft. On the one hand, Clemson junior RB Travis Etienne, one of the top backs in the country, surprisingly has announced that he will be returning to school for his senior season. On the other hand, LSU junior TE Thaddeus Moss has become the 9th underclassman from the program to confirm that they will be entering the upcoming draft.

LSU OLB Chaisson enters draft … LSU lost another underclassman to the NFL with news that redshirt sophomore OLB K’lavon Chaisson, a potential late first or early second round prospect, will be entering the 2020 draft. Chaisson is the 8th LSU underclassman to announce that they will be turning pro this winter.

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