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

Playoff losses leaves Jags with 29th pick, Vikes at #30 … As a result of today’s playoff losses in their respective conference championship games, Jacksonville will have the 29th pick in each round of the 2018 draft, while Minnesota will select 30th in every round. The final two picks will go to the winner and loser of the Super Bowl. Here is the updated selection order for this year’s opening round.

Big Ugly Shrine review … One of the recurring themes of the all-star game regime is that NFL teams put considerably more stock in what they see during the week;s practice sessions than what happens in the actual game. In fact, scouts are as rare as hen’s teeth at the actual game. That said, there is still stuff to be learned from game tapes. One of the major things we learned from yesterday’s East-West Shrine game was that overall, the offensive lines in St. Petersburg really struggled at times. Still there were some big uglies that helped themselves at the Shrine game. Here’s our review of the offensive line play in the East-West game.

Pigskin picks All-Practice Shrine team … With the players at this week’s East-West Shrine all-star game resting up for tomorrow’s actual game, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette weighs in with his picks for the Shriners’ All-Practice team. Remember that for the most part NFL teams put a whole lot more stock in what players do during the week’s practice sessions than they do in how they perform during the actual game.

NFL announces record number of underclassmen in draft … The NFL announced this afternoon that a total of 106 college underclassmen have been granted special eligibility for the 2018 draft. That sets a new record for early entrants, breaking the mark of 98 set in 2014. The past two seasons, there were 95 and 96 in 2017 and 2016, respectively. In 2015, there were just 74. Here is the final list of juniors and redshirt sophomores who have been granted eligibility to enter this year’s draft.

Dispatches from St Pete, Part III … Practices at the East-West Shrine in St. Petersburg were largely walk-throughs earlier today. However, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette, who is on the ground in St. Pete, sends this report on yesterday’s practice sessions, the final full sessions for both teams prior to Saturday’s actual game.

QB Rudolph out of Senior Bowl … Next week’s Senior Bowl took a bit of a hit with news that star Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph will not be able to participate in on-field activities because of a sprained foot. Rudolph will be replaced on the roster by Nebraska QB Tanner Lee. Rudolph, a prolific passer at Oklahoma State, isn’t currently viewed as an elite top-tier prospect for the upcoming draft because of sometimes erratic accuracy and decision-making, but was hoping to use the Senior Bowl to move closer to the top 4 group of passer’s in this year’s draft. While Rudolph won’t be able to participate in Senior Bowl practices, pro personnel people are still excited to see Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen of Wyoming, two of those big 4 QBs working out in Mobile.

Window closing for declared underclassmen … The 72-hour window of opportunity for any underclassmen who applied to the NFL for early entry to this year’s draft if they have not signed with an agent or otherwise received any inappropriate benefits closes at midnight tonight. Once the grace period ends, the NFL will announce the final list of underclassmen eligible for the upcoming draft.

Underclassman deadline passes; no love for draft … The deadline for underclassmen wishing to enter the 2018 draft to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible to be selected this coming April passed at midnight last night with no major new announcements. Our unofficial list has 117 juniors and redshirt sophomores who have indicated in one way or another that they have applied for eligibility to this year’s draft. The one big surprise in terms of not entering the draft at the end was Stanford RB Bryce Love, who had been expected to enter, but has decided to stick around for his final year of college eligibility. Meanwhile, those underclassmen who did apply to the league for early entry to this year’s draft have a 72-hour window to withdraw their applications if they have not signed with an agent or otherwise received any inappropriate benefits. Once that grace period ends, the NFL will announce the final list of underclassmen eligible for the upcoming draft. Stay tuned!

Clemson DT Wilkins opts to stick with school … Clemson junior DT Christian Wilkins, a potential top 10-15 prospect had he entered the draft, has indicated that he will be returning to school for his senior season.

UGA LB Smith into draft … With today’s deadline looming, Georgia junior LB Roquan Smith has announced that he will be entering the 2018 draft where he figures to be a mid-to-late opening round selection.

Major star game sched set to start … The pre-draft process kicks into a higher gear this week with two the three major all-star games set to get underway tomorrow with the East-West Shrine Classic and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl both set to open practice sessions. The Shrine game is back in St. Petersburg with a solid roster of prospects including QBs J.T. Barrett of Ohio State, Riley Ferguson of Memphis and South Florida’s Quinton Flowers; RBs Justin Jackson of Northwestern and Troy’s Jordan Chunn; Washington State OG Cody O’Connell; Central Michigan DE Joe Ostman; and LBs Joel Lanning of Iowa State, Tegray Scales of Indiana, and Ja’von Rolland-Jones of Arkansas State. The Shrine game also includes a number of intriguing smaller school candidates headed by Fordham RB Chase Edmonds and South Dakota State WR Jake Weineke, while the two Canadian players are OT Mark Korte of Alberta and Montreal WR Regis Cibasu. Here are the full Shrine East and West rosters. The East-West Shrine game kicks off on Saturday at 3 PM ET with coverage on the NFL Network. And we’ll be there as GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be prowling the sidelines all week and reporting in his observations of who is helping themselves and who isn’t. Across the country, the NFLPA game is moving to the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, but their line-up of prospects is still somewhat behind that of the Shrine and Senior Bowl games. Still, the NFLPA game has plenty of quality prospects including QBs Kenny Hill of TCU, Logan Whiteside of Toledo, Arkansas’ Austin Allen and John O’Korn of Michigan, alog with OG David Bright and OLB Peter Kalambayi of Stanford, Ohio State TE Marcus Baugh and UCLA DB Jaleel Wadood. Here is the full list of players scheduled to participate in the NFLPA game which kicks off Saturday at 4 PM ET on FS1.

Pigskin picks and pokes bowl standouts; Part Deux … With the regular college bowls in the books, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has documented a number of players who stood out during the latter bowl games with an eye toward the 2018 draft.

Three more juniors declare … While the NFL was deciding its conference finalists, three more juniors declared their intention to enter the 2018 draft including Marshall QB Chase Litton, Western Kentucky OLB Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Purdue DT Eddy Wilson. Litton is 6-6, 232-pound picket passer who could figure something of a sleeper at the upcoming draft; Litton threw for over 3,000 yards and 25 TDs this past season when he completed 60% of his pass attempts with 14 picks. WKU’s Iyiegbuniwe is an emerging tackling machine who had 117 tackles this past season when he was named to the CUSA first team all-conference squad; he goes 6-1, 230. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers’ Wilson is a 6-3, 295-pound run stuffer who figures to be a late rounder or free agent prospect. On the other hand, Washington junior RB Myles Gaskin has announced he will be heading back to school next fall.

Four more draft spots allotted … As a result of today’s heart-stopping playoff games, the 25th thru the 28th picks in the opening round of this year’s have been confirmed. Tennessee will have the 25th pick, Atlanta will go 26th, New Orleans will pick 27th and Pittsburgh will have the 28th selection. The 29th and 30th picks will go to the losers of next weekend’s conference championship games, while the Super Bowl winner will get the 32nd selection and the Super Bowl loser the 31st. Here is the updated opening round selection order for this year’s draft.

Titans wrap 25th pick with playoff loss … As a result of last night’s 35-14 playoff loss in New England, Tennessee will have the 25th pick in the opening round of the 2018 draft. The 26th thru 28th picks will be decided as a result of today’s two conference semi-finals.

Emerging DE enters draft; two others stay … The 2018 draft was never going to be particularly strong at DE and it just got significantly weaker with news that both of Clemson junior DEs Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell will return for the senior seasons. Both had been considered to be late first or early second round possibilities. In fact, Clemson got word that a total of 4 outstanding defenders will be back next year as ILB Kendall Joseph and CB Mark Fields also said they will return for their senior campaigns. The NFL, though, is still waiting to hear from star Clemson DT Christian Wilkins, a potential top 10-15 pick this coming April. On the other hand, the upcoming draft got a boost at DE with the announcement that Southern California DE Rasheem Green will be entering the draft. Green, who is listed at 6-4, 275 with a burst, had 10 sacks for the Trojans and could fill some of the late first, early second round void created by the Clemson announcements. At the same time, Washington State junior WR Tavares Martin has indicated he will be entering the upcoming draft. Martin was the Cougars’ leading receiver this past season with 70 catches, but he had a tenuous relationship with QB Luke Falk and head coach Mike Leach. Martin was suspended during the season and then either quit or was kicked off the team late in the year and had been expected to transfer, but will try his hand with the NFL although because of the off-field stuff may not be selected. Underclassmen have until the end of business tomorrow to file paperwork with the league in order to be eligible for this year’s draft.

Four more juniors enter draft … With less than 48 hours for underclassmen to submit paperwork to the NFL in order to be eligible for the 2018 draft, three more juniors have indicated they will be turning pro this winter including Georgia DT Trent Thompson, RB Nyheim Hines and OT Will Richardson of North Carolina State, and Louisiana-Monroe CB J.J. Dallas. Meanwhile, Florida safety Marcell Harris has indicated that he will also be entering the upcoming draft rather than apply for a 6th year of eligibility from the NCAA.

Texans name Gaine G.M.; extend HC O’Brien … Houston has hired Brian Gaine as their new general manager to replace Rick Smith. Gaine, who had been Buffalo’s vice president of player personnel the past few years, gets a five-year contract. Meanwhile, the Texans have extended the contract of head coach Bill O’Brien by four years.

Pair of Bucks; Card WR staying in school … With the clock ticking for underclassmen thinking of applying to the NFL for early entry to the 2018 draft, Ohio State got some good news today as both junior WR Parris Campbell and redshirt sophomore DT Dre’mont Jones announced that they will be staying in school for the upcoming season. Same story for rangy Louisville junior WR Jaylen Smith who will be back with the Cardinals next fall.

Top Bama prospect enters draft … Alabama junior CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, the national champion’s top prospect for the 2018, confirmed at a presser with local media earlier this afternoon, that he will in fact be entering the 2018 draft where he is projected to be a top 5-10 pick. At the same time, LSU junior C Will Clapp has also reportedly opted to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the upcoming draft where he figures to be a second-day option. Underclassmen have until the end of business on Monday to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible for this year’s draft.

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