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Ole Miss OT Little enters draft … Mississippi junior LT Greg Little has become the latest underclassman to confirm that they will be entering the 2019 draft. Little is generally considered to be one of the 2-3 tackles in this year’s draft with the potential to go as early as the first 10-15 picks.
Raiders fire GM McKenzie … Oakland has reportedly fired G.M. Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie has been the Raiders G.M. since 2012 during which time the team has had one of the records in the NFL, including 3-10 this year. No word on a possible replacement, although the buzz around the league is that McKenzie lost a power struggle with head coach Jon Gruden. Stay tuned.
Top pick too close to call after upset specials … Maybe in fact the ‘meek shall inherit the earth’ or something like that as both San Francisco and Oakland, which went into the weekend sitting on the 1st and 2nd picks respectively in the 2019 draft selection order were it held this week, pulled off upset wins. San Francisco, for example, held off Denver 20-14, while the Raiders stunned Pittsburgh 24-21 when the Steelers missed a potential game-tying FG on the games’ final snap. Those wins tied the 49ers and Raiders with Arizona, which lost 17-3 at home to Detroit, at three wins each. Because the Raiders have a significantly strength of schedule figure than either the 49ers or Cardinals, Oakland will come out of the weekend sitting on the 3rd pick. However, the is almost no statistical difference between the SOS figures for the 49ers and Cardinals such that which of the two will have the #1 pick, at least for this week, is simply too close to call. Meanwhile, if the draft were held this week, Atlanta would have the 4th pick overall, followed by the NY Jets at #5, Buffalo at #6 and Jacksonville at #7. As usual, the full opening round selection order for this year’s draft will be updated after tomorrow night’s Monday night game.
UDub OT Adams confirms return to school in 2019 … The story got kind of underreported last week, but star Washington LT Trey Adams made his first start in more than 13 months in the Huskies win over Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. In fact, Adams played all 73 snaps in the win over Utah which earned the Huskies a spot in next month’s Rose Bowl. Adams had been considered to be a potential top 10-15 prospect for the 2019 draft even though he was coming back from a torn ACL suffered in October 2017, but he then also missed the first 10 games of this season while recovering from back surgery in August. Adams is also expected to start in the Rose Bowl, but will still be eligible next fall as he will only have appeared in four games to date.
Top 10 picks shuffling in order … Expect some shuffling among the early picks in the selection order for the opening round of the 2019 draft later today as 6 of the teams currently sitting on the top 10 picks play one another on today’s schedule. The New York Jets, for example, who would have the 3rd pick overall were the draft held this week, will be at Buffalo, which would have the 8th pick. Meanwhile, Arizona, which currently has the 4th pick, hosts #5 Detroit, while #6 Atlanta will be at #10 Green Bay. On the other hand, the two Bay area teams which currently have the 1st and 2nd picks overall, are in tough this week. San Francisco, which would have the #1 pick were the draft held this week, will be in Denver, while #2 Oakland will host Pittsburgh in a renewal of that storied old rivalry. As usual, the full opening round selection order will be updated after tomorrow night’s Monday night game.
OU QB Murray wins Heisman … In a bit of an upset, Oklahoma junior QB Kyler Murray won this year’s Heisman Trophy, edging out Alabama redshirt sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa for the award. Murray is the second straight Oklahoma QB to win the award as Baker Mayfield was the 2017 winner. Of course, Mayfield went onto to become the first player selected at last spring’s NFL draft. The fact that he won college football’s most prestigous individual award is sure to intensify speculation that Murray will be selected at some point in the 2019 NFL draft despite the fact that he has already signed a lucrative deal with MLB’s Oakland A’s after he was selected in the opening round of last year’s baseball draft. Murray is now saying he’d somehow like to try and play both sports professionally, although his agent is on record saying that the plan to play one year of college football and then commit to baseball is still the plan. Stay tuned!
WVU QB Grier latest to pass on bowl participation … Maybe the good folks that run the bowl system can continue to fool people into thinking that the non-playoff games mean something more than diddly-squat, but it appears that the players are quickly catching on. West Virginia QB Will Grier, one of the top prospects at the position for the upcoming draft, for example, became the latest player to announce that he will not be participating in his team’s bowl. For the record, the Mountaineers are set to play former Big East rival Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl on December 28th. Instead, Grier will begin to prepare for the upcoming draft immediately. In fact, Grier is the second former Mountaineer to drop out of the game, joining LT Yodny Cajuste who announced earlier this week that he would not be playing in the bowl. Grier’s decision to skip the bowl brings the number of players who have indicated that they will not play in their team’s bowl to 15. And no, the fact that these guys are skipping out on a totally meaningless game to avoid injury isn’t going to impact anybody’s final draft grade.
Pigskin’s final prospect review … With the college season now in the books, save for bowls, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette weighs in with his final weekly prospects review column highlighting the players that caught his eye in last weekend’s conference finals.
CSU WR Williams enters draft … After a breakout year in which he was one of the top receivers in all college football, registering 96 catches for almost 1,350 yards and 14 TDs, Colorado State junior WR Preston Williams has opted to enter the upcoming draft. The 6-3, 210-pound Williams was orginally a big-time recruit at Tennessee, but transferred to CSU after a couple of rather pedestrian seasons with the Vols. He’s a big, physical receiver with good hands; he’s also a good athlete who was a triple jumper on the CSU track squad, but pro scouts would still like to see his 40 time at the combine before finalizing his grade.
Agent throws cold water on rumors star OU QB Murray could rethink baseball decision … There have been several media reports in recent days that star Oklahoma junior QB Kyler Murray, who will be in New York this weekend as one of the three finalists for this year’s Heisman Trophy presentation, is rethinking his plan to give up his football career at the end of the season rather than fulfill his contract with MLB’s Oakland A’s. Murray was drafted 9th overall by the A’s at this year’s MLB amateur draft and signed a multi-million dollar contract with the team. However, Scott Boras, Murray’s agent threw cold water on the whole concept earlier today saying in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that Murray will fulfill his commitment to Oakland despite the speculation. According to Boras: “Kyler has every intention of fulfilling his agreement with the A’s and he’s grateful he has had the chance to pursue his college goals. He will be in spring training with the A’s.” So there!
Laval DE Betts heads CFL winter draft rankings … Laval DE Mathieu Betts is the new #1 prospect on winter rankings for the 2019 CFL draft. The 6-3, 250-pound Betts is a three-time lineman of the year in Canadian college football; he is also reportedly one of the two players from Canadian universities who has been invited to next month’s East-West Shrine all-star game in St. Petersburg. Players from U.S. schools round out the top 5 CFL prospects list including Oklahoma State RT Shane Richards at #2, 6-6 Arkansas State WR Justin McInnis at #3, Tennessee DE Jonathan Kongbo, who had been the #1 prospect on the previous list, but dropped after tearing an ACL this fall, is at #4, with Kansas C Alex Fontana. Here is the full list of top prospects for the next CFL draft.
UCLA TE Latest to enter draft … It has been a relatively quiet day so far in terms of underclassmen announcing their intention to enter the 2019 draft. Indeed, UCLA junior TE Caleb Wilson is the only junior or redshirt freshman to have indicated today that they would be making themselves available for the upcoming draft. Wilson, a former high school QB who actually originally walked on across town at USC, is more H-back sized at 6-3, 235, but he’s been the top receiving TE in college football the past couple of seasons including this year when he led FBS TEs with 60 receptions and 965 receiving yards. Wilson is currently considered to be a mid-to-late second day prospect for the upcoming draft.
GBN projection updated … With the college season all but done save for the bowls and the NFL at the three-quarter pole it seems like as good a time as any to update the 2019 GBN mock, which also for the record has been expanded to two rounds. Also note that neither of QBs Justin Herbert of Oregon and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins were included because the rumblings we are picking suggest that both are leaning toward returning to school.
Spartan RB Scott shifts gears; will enter draft … Michigan State junior RB L.J. Scott has formally announced that he will in fact be entering the 2019 draft. Scott, who only played in 4 games this past season, had originally indicated he would return for a 5th year of eligibility, but ultimately decided that the threat of another injury was too great and will turn pro this year. Scott injured an ankle in September that limited him to four games this fall. Prior to the injury, the 6-1, 225-pound Scott had led the Spartans in rushing for three straight years, although he never got over 1,000 yards in any one season. At the same time, Florida Atlantic junior WR Jovon Durante has also indicated that he will be entering the the upcoming draft. Durante actually played at West Virginia the first two years of his career before transferring to FAU; he’s not all that big at 6-0, 165, but he quick and athletic and should draw some late-round consideration in April. This past season, Durante led the Owls with 65 receptions for 875 yards and 5 scores. Meanwhile, Texas State TE Keenen Brown has also indicated that he will not use a 6th season of eligibility and will also enter the upcoming draft. Brown originally attended Oklahoma State, but played sparingly with the Cowboys before catching 51 passes as a grad transfer at Texas State this past season. He would have been eligible for another season of college eligibility because he missed a couple of years at OSU with injuries.
QBs Grier, Stidham latest bunch of Senior Bowl roster adds … Star QBs Will Grier of West Virginia and Auburn junior Jarrett Stidham headline a list of 32 more players whom the Senior Bowl confirmed have accepted roster invitations today. Being in Mobile will be a big opportunity for both players. Grier, for example, would love to follow the same path as former Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who used his Senior Bowl week to vault himself into the top 5-10 debate for the 2019 draft; meanwhile, for Stidham it will be an opportunity to show that he deserves some opening round consideration after an inconsistent year this past fall. Grier and Stidham will join fellow QBs Ryan Finley of North Carolina State, Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Gardner Minshew of Washington State and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson in Mobile in January. Grier will also be joined by WR David Sills, his favorite target at West Virginia, while other prominent players added to the Senior Bowl roster include Georgia LB D’Andre Walker, Michigan edge-rusher Chase Winovich, South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel and RB Myles Gaskin and OT Kaleb McGary of Washington. With these additions the Senior Bowl roster now stands at 84.
College football notes: one prospect in; one out, one moving … More moves on a busy day on the college football transaction wire. Alabama junior MLB Mack Wilson, who had been considered to be a late first round prospect had he opted to enter this year’s draft, has announced that he’ll be returning to school for his senior season next fall. On the other hand, another sleeper WR with some intriguing physical skills (see UNC WR Anthony Ratliff-Willams earlier today) has declared with the announcement that Northwestern State junior WR Jazz Ferguson will be entering the upcoming draft. Ferguson, a big, physical receiver listed at 6-5, 225, was originally an LSU recruit who didn’t play much with in two years with the SEC Tigers, but had a breakout season this fall when he hauled in 66 receptions for over 1,100 yards and 13 scores. For the record, Ferguson is also the brother of Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson who led all FBS edge rushers with 15 sacks this past season. Meanwhile, former Oklahoma State DT Darrion Daniels, who was rated the 22nd prospect at the position by the GBN, will take a redshirt and transfer to Nebraska as a graduate rather than enter the 2019 draft; Daniels is eligible to transfer because he only played in four games this fall because of an injury.
UNC WR declares for draft … North Carolina junior WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams has announced that he will be entering the 2019 draft. Ratliff-Williams isn’t all that highly rated as a prospect as he did not make the jump in productivity this season as he had only 42 receptions for less than 700 yards and just two scores, although the fact that the Tar Heels didn’t throw the ball all that well this year. However, Ratliff-Williams did show some big-play ability as he averaged over 16 yards per reception this year; he also had a couple of return TDs on KOs last fall. Ratliff-Williams is also an excellent athlete who should show well at the combine or his pro day. It is also important to note that Ratliff-Williams was a star option QB in high school and has only been player WR for three years.
GBN All-America and college award picks … No big here, but Alabama redshirt sophomore Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma junior Kyler Murray were the consensus choices for QB when the senior GBN staff sat down and made their picks for this year’s All-America team. The staff did split a bit, though, with GBN Editor and Publisher Grumpy Lindsay and Senior Investigative Analyst Larry Parker tabbing Tagovailoa as their choice for the Heisman, while Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette went with the Sooners’ Murray for the top player in college football this fall. At the same time, though, the staff was unanimous in selecting Kentucky OLB Josh Allen as the defensive player of the year. The staff was also unanimous in identifying electric Purdue WR Rondale Moore as freshman of the year. Here are the staff picks for the 2018 All-America team, as well as the major awards.
Pigskin posts final rankings … With just the bowls left in the college football season, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has posted his final college rankings.
Former Tiger QB Bryant still a Tiger … Former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant announced earlier today that he will be transferring to Missouri where he will be eligible immediately for the 2019 season as a grad transfer. Bryant led Clemson to 16 wins in 18 starts, but lost his starting job to freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence earlier this season. With Missouri, Bryant is expected to replace senior Drew Lock who will be off to the NFL next fall.