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

Browns’ vet OT Thomas talks about challenges faced by rook LT … With a number of NFL teams with top 15 picks reportedly looking to upgrade at OT in this year’s draft, former Cleveland star LT Joe Thomas talked about some of the challenges faced by rookie LTs in the league and which of this year’s top prospects at the position might be the best fits for different scheme in an interview in the Plain Dealer.

NFL teams get war room options … Earlier today the NFL circulated to all teams the potential options for their draft day operations. Based on communications between the league’s management council and team IT departments, the NFL informed all clubs that their are two scenarios currently being considered by the NFL. One would allow teams to operate out of their facilities or an alternative off-site location, but with limitations on the number of team personnel permitted. The second option would be for team officials to operate from home with a clear prohibition on the number of club personnel permitted at any one residence. Which is pretty much what most of us are doing these days. What the memo didn’t mention was how the league would handle the centralized operation of the draft. Presumably it would be out of New York where NFL HQ is located, although last we heard was that New York was pretty much shut down these days as it is at the very epicenter of the pandemic. Otherwise good plan!!

Tua gets sanctioned medical recheck … Alabama junior QB Tua Tagovailoa had a medical follow-up earlier today. The examination was conducted by an independent doctor selected by NFL physicians and it was similar to what players usually get if there are any questions remaining after their original physical. The results were distributed to all teams and, at least according to the player’s reps were “overwhelmingly positive.” Tagovailoa, a potential top 5 prospect for the 2020 draft, underwent surgery to repair a serious hip injury back in November and has just recently started to work out again. Tagovailoa has also been telling anyone would listen of late that he’s 100% again and will be able to play this fall. The problem for Tagovailoa, though, isn’t really whether he’s 100% now, its his long-term durability and whether he’ll be able to stand the rigors of an NFL season. And unfortunately, today’s exam isn’t likely to answer that question in any meaningful way. Indeed, as noted yesterday, there are reports that more than one team has taken Tagovailoa off their board because of the health issues. While Tagovailoa’s status is in question, there is a bit of a buzz that teams are taking another look at Oregon QB Justin Herbert as a potential top 5 pick. Herbert has always had elite physical tools, but had been downgraded because of questions about his leadership and pocket presence intangibles. On the other hand, while Herbert’s grade may be rising, one gets the impression that that of Utah State QB Jordan Love may be slipping. Like Herbert, Love has all the arm talent in the world, but is coming off a very inconsistent year for the Aggies. There had been reports that he had been flirting with a top grade until recently, but appears to have perhaps slipped in to the middle to latter part of the opening round.

Draft 3 weeks away and counting; Big Board tweaked, extended … For those keeping track of these sorts of things, everything else being equal, the 2020 draft will get underway three weeks today to the hour. And with the clock ticking, the GBN Big Board has been updated and expanded to include the top 250 prospects for the upcoming draft. Hang in there guys!

Pigskin previews Colts draft … As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette walks us through the upcoming draft options for every NFL team and he gets this year’s series going with a preview of the Indianapolis Colts.

Tua off several boards around the NFL … There are unconfirmed reports that more than one team around the NFL has taken Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa off their board because of his concerns about his long-term durability. If healthy, Tagovailoa would be a lock to be selected with one of the top 2-3 picks at this month’s draft; however, his draft status has been clouded by the fact that he had season ending surgery to repair a serious hip injury back in November. Tagovailoa has been cleared to work out and is telling anyone who will listen that he’s 100% and will be ready to go when training camps open, hopefully this summer. However, because of the travel restrictions surrounding COVID-19, Tagovailoa will not be available for a final medical evaluation by team doctors of clubs interested in selecting him. And the problem isn’t necessarily that any team doubts that Tagovailoa is currently fit; it’s that teams are worried about his longer term viability in what is a brutal sport. Stay tuned!

Pigskin previews Browns draft … As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette walks us through the upcoming draft options for every NFL team and he gets this year’s series going with a preview of the always interesting Cleveland Browns.

Dolphins to mount late push for top pick … The story had kind of gone quiet for several weeks, but there are reports out of Miami that the Dolphins are in the process of making a late push to try and acquire the #1 pick in this month’s draft from Cincinnati. The Dolphins target, not surprisingly would be LSU QB Joe Burrow, who has never made much of a secret of the fact that he doesn’t really want to play for the Bengals. It isn’t clear whether Cincinnati would have any intention of even listening to offers for the top pick; however, if any team could put together a package to tweak the Bengals interest its the Dolphins who have three opening round picks this year including the 5th selection overall, as well as two more #1s in 2021. For good measure, Miami’ also has an extra second rounder in each of the next two drafts. In the meantime, there are also unconfirmed reports that Washington is again letting it be known around the league that the 2nd pick overall could be available for the right price. That’s a little surprising given that by staying at #2, the Redskins would almost assuredly get Ohio State DE Chase Young, the consensus top non-QB prospect for the upcoming draft. However, the Redskins already have a pretty good defensive front and might like to add extra picks to revitalize a moribund offense. Stay tuned! Just 22 days to go.

Draft rumblings from around the league … With just about everything shut down around the world, its not that surprising that there hasn’t been much buzz of late regarding the 2020 NFL draft. However, with the draft now just over three week away there are some whispers starting to appear. In no particular order, the following are the gist of some of the items we are starting to pick up. although as usual they come with the proviso that this is still the season of smoke and mirrors so buyer beware. Read more

Pigskin previews Bucs draft … As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette walks us through the upcoming draft options for every NFL team and he gets this year’s series going with a preview of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pigskin previews Falcons draft … As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette walks us through the upcoming draft options for every NFL team and he gets this year’s series going with a preview of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL reconfirms draft remains a go … The NFL sent out a group memo yesterday confirming that the 2020 draft will go on as scheduled beginning April 23rd despite the worldwide epidemic which has shut down just about all non-essential businesses including the NFL. In the memo signed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league also warned those around the league not to criticize publicly the the NFL’s stance. It was reported earlier this week, that by a large margin, the team’s around the league would prefer to postpone the draft until things calm down so they can complete their due draft diligence. The big issue for the teams is the lack of medical follow-ups on prospects such as Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, a potential top 5 pick who wasn’t able to workout at the combine after undergoing season ending surgery on a serious hip injury last fall. And its not clear why the NFL is so adamant about forging ahead with the draft, other than the fact it is about the only sports related event that is still on-going and they will have the field all to themselves on the weekend of the 23rd. The NFL did  acknowledge, though, that there would have to be significant changes and told teams to prepare to conduct the draft outside team facilities and with a limited number of people. Of course, the top prospects and their families will also not be present at the draft.

Pigskin previews Steelers draft … As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette walks us through the upcoming draft options for every NFL team and he gets this year’s series going with a preview of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Giant pre-draft interview … The 2020 draft, which is shaping up to be one of the most important in NY Giants history, is now less than a month away. Needless to say with the Giants sitting on the 4th pick overall, we’ve had a bunch of emails from fellow fans since the start of the new football year with draft questions and concerns. And rather than try and answer them all individually, we thought it would be easier to compile them into an interview format. Read more

Redskins’ Rivera appears to commit to Haskins … One of the storylines regarding the 2020 draft that just wasn’t going away was that a certain segment of the Washington organization was not enamored with QB Dwayne Haskins, the Redskins’ top pick at last year’s draft, and was pushing for the team to consider taking Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with the 2nd pick overall rather than Ohio State DE Chase Young. On Tuesday, though, Redskins’ coach Ron Rivera came out with a pretty strong statement in support of Haskins. In an interview with a Charlotte radio station, Rivera said that the Redskins had passed on signing former Panthers’ star QB Cam Newton when he was released earlier this week because the Redskins had a “commitment to a young guy” in Haskins. Rivera went on to add that the Redskins were “a young team with a young quarterback in position. We have the chance to set and establish a thing so that’s the way we’re looking at it. Going forward, you never know what’s going to happen, but where we are right now, we made a commitment to a young guy  to find out who we have as a football team.” Indeed, rather than signing Newton, the Redskins signed Kyle Allen, his former backup with the Panthers. Rivera did leave himself some wiggle room, but it certainly implied that Haskins was their guy, at least for the foreseeable future. Of course, the Redskins could also elect to trade out of the 2nd pick, but it would likely take a major package of picks to entice them to trade down, and right now it appears unlikely that any other team is going to be willing to pay that price to trade up for a guy (Tagovailoa) with a questionable long-term health status.

All NFL team facilities to close; is draft decision next … As of 6 PM ET later today, all NFL teams must have closed their team facilities to all but essential personnel. In fact, a number of teams have already closed their headquarter operations, but by this evening the league will have effectively shut down. The NFL will then reassess the situation on April 8th following advice from medical experts and public health authorities. What isn’t included in the league’s order is any mention of the 2020 draft which is slated to being in 29 days. However, during a conference call late yesterday, numerous G.M.s from across the league indicated they wanted to delay the draft because in the current environment, with offseason activities canceled and some teams’ facilities closed, there won’t be enough time for player physicals, gathering psychological testing, getting further verified information about the players and some teams having to conduct the draft from home. Indeed, it is just hard to imagine that the league would be able to conduct the draft without some congregating of personnel both at NFL HQ in New York and at individual team war rooms. Presumably, though, the league will wait until their April 8 deliberations before making any final decisions. Stay tuned!

Hopkins trade finalized … It took awhile, but that trade last week in which Arizona acquired star WR DeAndre Hopkins from Houston in exchange for veteran RB David Johnson, the 40th pick overall in next month’s draft, and a 4th round pick in 2021, has been approved by the league. To complete the deal, Houston is also sending a 4th rounder in this year’s draft which we have been able to confirm is pick #131.

Tua workout video making rounds … For those that have not seen it yet, Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa has sent a short video of him working out to all NFL teams prior to the draft. Clearly, Tagovailoa is moving without hint of the hip injury that ended his season last October. However, it also highlights the problem for Tagovailoa and teams considering selecting him at next month’s draft. Because of the restrictions the league has imposed on travel by both teams and prospects because of the COVID-19 virus, its unlikely any team will be able to work out Tagovailoa before the draft. Even more importantly perhaps, it is not clear whether individual teams will be able to have their medical staff check out Tua before the draft.  Which means they’ll be going in partially blind and if there is one thing NFL teams don’t like to do is go into a draft blind where they may be asked to take a player with a top 5-10 pick.

Pigskin previews Chiefs draft … As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette walks us through the upcoming draft options for every NFL and he gets this year’s series going with a preview of the world champion Kansas City Chiefs.

To QB or not to QB … With the spate of trades last week as the NFL football year got underway, we started to update our latest three-round projection, but didn’t get far because there are just too many fluid variables at this time. In particular, there are still a number of teams with early picks at next month’s draft looking for QBs, while there are a number of other teams that appear to be willing to trade down to one of those QB-needy teams if the price was right. However, all QB-needy aren’t created alike making it very difficult to even begin to predict what exactly is going to happen in the first ten picks or so on April 23rd. The attached is a quick run down of what we are hearing about where those QB needy teams are currently in their pre-draft thinking. Read more

 

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