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Rooks to the fore in week one … With the first full week of NFL per-season games now in the books, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette takes a look at some of the top performances by members of the 2018 rookie class.
And then there were none; final pick signs … Chicago LB Roquan Smith was at practice earlier today after finally coming to terms with the Bears. Smith, the 10th pick overall at the 2018 draft, was the last unsigned draft pick from this year’s draft. In the end, his holdout last 29 days.
Manziel better in second CFL start but still 0-2 … Making his second CFL start last night, Montreal QB Johnny Manziel looked a whole lot more like ‘Johnny Football’ than he did in his first start, but his Alouettes still came up on the short end of a 24-17 scoreline in Ottawa. After throwing four first-half interceptions last week in his Montreal debut, Manziel completed 16 of 26 attempts for 168 yards without an interception in the loss in Ottawa and had at least three nice deep throws dropped by his receivers. Manziel also ran three times for 36 yards, but took a hard hit to the head/neck area that had doctors checking him out on the sidelines. Meanwhile, the CFL is all abuzz after Saskatchewan abruptly released enigmatic all-star WR Duron Carter over the weekend. Carter, the son of former NFL Hall-of-Fame WR Cris Carter who had 73 receptions for over 1,000 yards last fall, has reportedly been chafing in Sask this season as he had been playing CB – and even a few snaps at LB – this season for the offensively challenged Roughriders. He had moved back to receiver for last weekend’s game and caught a 41-yard TD pass, but was mostly ignored in the Riders’ loss in Edmonton. So far, there has been no comment from the Riders as to the reason, although there might be some clarification when head coach Chris Jones meets with the local media in a regularly scheduled presser later this morning. With the release of Carter, there has been some speculation that he might end up back in Montreal where he played three seasons, before being released and signing with Saskatchewan. Stay tuned!
Trojans’ LB likely to miss opener with knee … Southern California OLB Porter Gustin, a mid-to-late round prospect for the 2019 draft, is expected to miss up to 4-5 weeks after suffering what has been described as a relatively minor torn MCL. Given the recovery time frame, Gustin is expected to miss the Trojans’ season opener on September 1st, but hopes to be available the following week when USC plays Stanford in a huge early season Pac-12 game. The injury is a disappointing setback for Gustin, who missed all but 4 games of the 2017 season because of a toe injury.
Colts’ rookie WR tears ACL … Indianapolis rookie WR Deon Cain, a 6th round pick at the 2018 draft, is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s preseason opener against Seattle.
Skins’ #2 pick out for year … Updating last night’s story on Washington rookie RB Derrius Guice, the Redskins’ second round pick at the 2018 draft, who left tonight’s pre-season game with New England with a potentially severe knee injury, an MRI earlier today confirmed that Guice indeed tore his ACL and will miss the upcoming season.
Browns get 7th rounder for disappointing WR Coleman … Updating last evening’s report that Cleveland has traded 3rd year WR Corey Coleman to Buffalo, the Browns will reportedly receive a 7th round pick in exchange as initially reported by ESPN. The Browns had selected Coelman with the 15th pick overall at the 2016 draft after trading down twice from the 2nd pick overall where they had passed on the chance to take Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz.
UL Cards’ WR Smith out after emergency appendectomy … Louisville WR Jaylen Smith, a top receiver prospect for the 2019 draft, is out indefinitely after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Friday morning. While he operation was reportedly a success, there is currently no timetable for his return. The 6-3, 225-pound Smith was a first-team All-ACC WR last fall when he had 60 receptions for 980 yards and 7 TDs; for his career he has averaged almost 17 yards per reception.
Perchance back to the drawing board … Updated: It may have been the most anticipated debut in league history, but Johnny Manziel’s first CFL start tonight in Montreal last night was a disaster as Manziel had four interceptions, including on both his first two pass attempts picked off. Indeed, for the better part of the first quarter, Manziel had more tackles than completions or yards. Manziel actually had a few ‘Johnny Football’ moments before being replaced in the third quarter as he finished with 11 completions on 20 throws for just over 100 yards as Montreal dropped to 1-6 on the year with a 50-11 loss to Hamilton. And it certainly didn’t help Manziel’s cause that the rest of the Montreal team has been absolutely dreadful. Montreal’s next game is a week Saturday in Ottawa.
Undrafted rooks to watch … Make no mistake about it, most of this season’s most impactful rookies in the NFL are going to come from the early rounds of the draft. However, each year a handful of guys who somehow managed to get overlooked as one of the top 250 or so college prospects emerge as quality pros and this year likely isn’t going to be an exception. With that in mind, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette looks at some of this year’s top undrafted rookies with a chance to be major contributors early in their pro careers.
Manziel to make CFL debut … For those that missed the original announcement earlier in the week, former Texas A&M and Cleveland QB Johnny Manziel will start for Montreal later tonight when they host Hamilton whom the Als had acquired Manziel in a trade two weeks ago with Hamilton. Manziel dressed for four games with Hamilton and was listed as the back-up for the 1-5 Alouettes in last week’s loss. Kick-off time is 7:30 PM ET with coverage in Canada on TSN and on ESPN2 in the U.S. Meanwhile, another somewhat unconventional former Heisman Trophy winner had a somewhat scattered start in his NFL debut last night. Baltimore rookie QB Lamar Jackson, who won the Heisman in 2016 with Louisville and was selected by the Ravens with the 32nd and final pick in this year’s opening round, completed just 4 of 10 passes for 33 yards as he wrapped up last night’s 17-16 win over Chicago in last night’s Hall-of-Fame game. Jackson did have a TD pass, but was also picked off and was sacked three times, while he ran for 25 yards on 8 carries.
Buckeye head coach on paid leave … Just days before teams across the country hit the field for the start of fall training camp, the college football world was turned upside down earlier today when perennial national title contender Ohio State announced that head coach Urban Meyer had been placed on paid administrative leave by the school which reported that it is investigating whether he was aware of allegations of domestic violence against former Buckeyes’ assistant coach Zach Smith, who was fired late last month. In Meyer’s absence, offensive coordinator Ryan Day will be the team’s acting head coach. Ohio State’s first practice is scheduled for Friday. Stay tuned!
Hawkeye S heads to FCS … Iowa has announced that starting FS Brandon Snyder has transferred to FCS South Dakota State where he will be eligible immediately for his senior season. A former walk-on, the 6-1, 215-pound Snyder emerged as a mid-to-late round prospect as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, but played in only one game last fall after he suffered torn ACLs in both April and then again in November. Worse, Snyder, who has always been considered to be a character player, ended up pleading guilty to an OWI charge last fall. Given the injury and off-field history, Snyder’s best route to the NFL may be as a free agent, but when focused is a big hitter with good instincts and football awareness.
Star Vols’ OT Smith cleared to play this fall … Emerging Tennessee sophomore G/T Trey Smith, who if healthy has top 5 draft potential in 2020 or beyond, has been cleared to play this fall after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs last February. However, whether Smith ever gets to the NFL is still somewhat problematic as it appears that there may be some chronic elements to the health issue; indeed, there were some concerns that the problem could be career-ending. In fact, Smith spent the past 6 months on a rigorous regime of anticoagulants and was sidelined from spring practice and likely won’t be fully cleared for contact until later in training camp. If healthy, though, Smith has all the look of a really special player. The 6-5, 330-pounder was the #1 recruit out of high school two years ago and was both a Freshman All-American and SEC second teamer last fall after he started all 12 UT games at 4 different positions including several at LT where he was the first true freshman at Tennessee to start at LT. Stay tuned.
Supp draft RB seriously injured in weekend shooting … Former Grand Valley State star RB Marty Carter, who was available in this summer’s supplemental draft, was left in critical condition after being shot at a gas station in his hometown of East Chicago on Saturday. Carter, GVSU’s all-time leading rusher, entered the supplemental draft when he was declared academically ineligible for the upcoming season, but was not selected. Carter had recently worked out with Kansas City, but had yet to sign.
Jets sign #3 pick Darnold; one rook holdout left … Earlier today, the New York Jets signed former USC QB Sam Darnold to a 4-year deal worth $30M with a 5th year club option. The deal came early enough in the day that Darnold, the 3rd player selected at the 2018 draft, was able to make the Jets’ practice session this afternoon, in effect ending a 3-day holdout. With Darnold now signed, the only remaining unsigned player from this year’s draft is Chicago LB Roquan Smith.
CFL QB Manziel sits again with new team … Fans hoping to see former Cleveland QB Johnny Manziel make his CFL debut with Montreal in last night’s game with Edmonton came away disappointed as the former Heisman Trophy winner sat again with his new team. Manziel had been traded from Hamilton, where he didn’t play at all through the first month of the season, to Montreal, the Canadian league’s worst team, earlier this week and there had been speculation that he might play last night despite having only a handful of practices with his new team. Instead, former Eastern Washington and Oregon QB Vernon Adams went all the way for the Alouettes who dropped to 1-5 with a 44-23 loss to Edmonton. Montreal’s next game is next Friday evening, ironically against Hamilton, Manziel’s old team.
Giants rook CB Beal could be lost for year … There are unconfirmed reports that Giants rookie CB Sam Beal, whom the team selected with a 3rd round pick at this month’s supplemental draft, could be out for the year after he re-aggravated a pre-existing shoulder injury at a practice session earlier this week. Beal is believed to require surgery that would keep him out for the season.
Then there were three … The number of unsigned picks selected at the 2018 draft is now done o just three after a couple of more rookie draftees signed within the past 24 hours. Just hours after signing QB Baker Mayfield, the #1 pock overall this year, for example, Cleveland also came to terms with former Ohio State CB Denzell Ward whom the Browns selected with the 4th pick. Meanwhile, Buffalo has signed QB Josh Allen whom the Bills moved up to take with the 7th pick overall, while Pittsburgh has signed safety Terrell Edmunds, their first round selection. That leaves 3 unsigned picks from this year’s draft including first rounders QB Sam Darnold, whom the Jets selected with the 3rd pick, and ILB Roquan Smith, picked 10th overall by Chicago, along with WR Dante Pettis, a second round pick by San Francisco, although there are rumors that the latter is close and could be under contract sometime this evening or tomorrow.
Browns bag Baker; sign top pick overall … Cleveland has reportedly signed former Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, the #1 pick overall at the 2018 draft just in time to avoid a holdout. Mayfield signed a 4-year rookie contract worth almost $33 million guaranteed with a 5th year club option. The Browns report for training camp later this morning with their first practice set to get underway tomorrow.