NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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Lions go to top of board, picks 2-3-4 still to be decided… After Jacksonville ended its 20-game losing streak in dramatic fashion in London earlier today, Detroit left nothing to chance in a rather dismal home loss to Cincinnati leaving the Lions as the NFL’s only remaining winless team and guarantees that they will be sitting on the #1 pick in the opening round selection order for the 2022 draft for at least this week. The rest of the top 5 piks, though, won’t be decided on until after Monday night’s game between Buffalo and Tennessee. Not that either the Bills or Titans are going to be picking anywhere near the top ten come next April, but the three teams in the mash-up in the 2-3-4 range play in either the AFC East or South and their final SOS number, at least for this week, won’t be determined until the Bills and Titans wrap up the week tomorrow night. What we can say with some certainty is that the NY Giants will move up to #5 for this week, but note that while the Jets are technically #6 after not playing this weekend because of their bye, if the Jets were to lose their ‘game in hand’ they would actually move up to the second pick whatever happens between the Bills and Titans. What we can say with absolute certainty is that the full selection order for the 2022 draft were it to be held this week will be updated after the Monday nighter.

Top of selection order to be shuffled … There will almost certainly be some major changes to the early selection order for the 2022 draft as it stands this week, with not one, but two games involving teams currently sitting on top 6 picks. In fact, tomorrow’s early game London between 0-5 Jacksonville and 1-4 Miami could be the Jags’ best chance to finally end that 20-game losing streak. For the record, Jacksonville would have had the #1 pick overall if the 2022 draft were held last week, while Miami’s pick which actually belongs to Philadelphia, would have been in the mash-up for picks 3-4-5. Meanwhile, Houston which would also have been in the 3-4-5 mix, will be at Indianapolis, which would have had the 6th pick entering the week. Of course, Philadelphia will also be keeping an eye on that game as the Eagles could also end up with the Colts’ pick in QB Carson Wentz plays 75% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps. On the other hand, the NY Jets, the third team in the 3-4-5 mix, has a bye this week, while Detroit, which is one of the NFL’s two remaining winless teams along with Jacksonville and would have the second pick, will be home to Cincinnati on Sunday.

UGA DB Smith out for year … A tough season reportedly got worse for Georgia junior safety Tykee Smith as the school has confirmed that he tore an ACL in practice this week which will end his season. Smith, a former West Virginia All-American who transferred to Georgia this past off-season, had been considered to be a possible early-to-mid round prospect for the upcoming draft, but he has barely played this year as he missed the Dawgs’ first five games of the season because of a foot injury suffered in training camp.

Cards get Eagles TE Ertz for vet CB; pick … Arizona continues to load up for what they hope will be a serious run at the Super Bowl. Earlier today, the Cardinals got veteran TE Zach Ertz from Philadelphia in exchange for veteran CB Tay Gowin and a 5th-round pick in the 2022 draft. Meanwhile, the Eagles appear to be loading up for the 2022 draft. In acquiring another 5th rounder, the Eagles by our unofficial count now have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, the most of any team in the league.

Eclectic viewing on tap on college sked … College football have been spoiled so far this fall with one great weekend slate of games after another. Not so much this weekend though. And you know its sort of an off week when Kentucky is playing in what is arguably the most attractive game of the weekend and basketball practice doesn’t even start for another week. For the record, the 11th ranked Wildcats will be at new #1 Georgia (3:30 PM ET; CBS) in the week’s match-up of highest ranked opponents. And make no mistake about it, Kentucky is full value for its 6-0 record including back-to-back wins over Florida and LSU, although they will clearly be challenged by Georgia. Interesting individual match-up to watch in this game will feature emerging Kentucky LT Darian Kinnard (#70, 6-5, 335), a second-day prospect for the upcoming draft, battling Georgia DT Jordan Davis (#99, 6-5, 340) and ER Adam Anderson (#19, 6-5, 230), both of whom are solid mid-first-round candidates. Also keep an eye on UK RB Chris Rodriquez (#24, 5-10, 225), an underrated bowling ball type who is currently 5th in rushing in all of college football.

Elsewhere around college football this weekend:

  • Pro scouts, especially those with early picks this year, will certainly be checking in tonight (10:30 PM ET; ESPN) when Oregon hosts California. No one really expects the Ducks to have too many problems with the 1-4 Bears, but scouts are hoping that Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (#5, 6-5, 260), arguably the consensus top prospect for this year’s draft, will finally be healthy again. Thibodeaux turned an ankle early in the Ducks’ season opener, missed several weeks and then played but sparingly in Oregon’s last couple of games. The Ducks are coming off a bye week so Thibodeaux has had some time to get fully 100%; in fact, he’ll have a little extra time as he won’t play until after halftime because of a targeting suspension from his last game.
  • The Auburn Arkansas game, a rare Noon KO for CBS’s SEC coverage could feature one of the week’s better one-on-one matchups with Hogs’ WR Treylon Burks (#16, 6-2, 225) going against Tigers’ rising CB Roger McCreary (#23, 6-0, 190), both of whom are first-round prospects for the upcoming draft.
  • Folks will get another chance to check out Purdue DE George Karlaftis (#5, 6-5, 270) and WR David Bell (#3, 6-1, 205) when the Boilermakers get back on national TV against #2 rated Iowa (3:30 PM ET; ABC).
  • Pro teams looking for an upgrade at OT will definitely have people on-site when UCLA plays at Washington (8:30 PM ET; ESPN) as both teams have a tackle with at least some first round potential in Sean Rhyan (#74, 6-5, 320) and the Huskies’Jaxson Kirkland (#51, 6-6, 310)

 

Pigskin’s week four prospects review ... As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting a weekly review of prospects who caught his eye in the previous weekend’s college football action. Needless to say, he had plenty to chew on after another weekend of terrific games. Here’s Paul’s column for this week.

Sooners’ QB soap opera continues … It was probably the worst kept secret in college football, but Oklahoma has confirmed that redshirt freshman Caleb Williams will take over the Sooners’ offense when they host TCU on Saturday. That means that Spencer Rattler, who entered the season as arguably the top-rated QB prospect for the 2022 draft, is now a back-up. Through his father, Rattler indicated that he’ll remain at Oklahoma for the rest of the season, but would be considering his options once the campaign is done. And the question for the Rattler family will be whether he enters the upcoming draft coming off a very inconsistent season or does he elect to transfer and try and reestablish himself as a potential elite prospect at the position. Stay tuned!

More trouble for LSU as DE Gaye to miss rest of year … Things just keep going from bad to worse at LSU where the Tigers have struggled to a disappointing 3-3 start. And the injuries keep piling up in Baton Rouge. LSU, which was already without star CB Derek Stingley, a top 5 candidate for the 2022 draft who is out indefinitely with a foot injury, announced earlier in the week that both WR Kayshon Boutte and CB Eli Rooks, a pair of rising sophomores who figured to be top prospects in 2023, would miss the rest of the year with knee and shoulder injuries respectively. Then today, the Tigers confirmed that DE Ali Gaye, a second-day prospect for the upcoming draft will require season-ending surgery to repair what sounds like a shoulder injury which had hampered him all season and wasn’t getting any better.

Tide OT; Ole Miss QB top two picks in quarter pole projection .., With the college season at the mid-way point and the NFL having just passed the quarter pole, it seemed like as ad time to update the GBN opening round projection for the 2022 draft. And with the first two picks we had Jacksonville taking Alabama OT Evan Neal at #2, while Detroit took Mississippi QB at #2. Again, as we have noted in the past, the point of a mock at this time of year is not to try and predict which team is going to pick which particular player, but to get some idea where players are likely to be coming off the board. Also note that we have Philadelphia making Indianapolis’ pick at #6. The Colts still technically control that pick, but it goes to the Eagles if QB Carson Wentz, whom Philadelphia traded to Indianapolis in the off-season plays 75% of the team’s snaps this season and he’s already at around 30%.

Initial selection order posted … Wow! Just another crazy finish in tonight’s Monday night game that wrapped up a week full of wild and crazy finishes. For that missed it, Baltimore rallied from down 19 late in the 3rd quarter to defeat Indianapolis 31-25 in overtime. And with week 5 in the books we have posted our initial opening round selection order for the 2022 draft were it to be held this week. Also please remember that the strength of schedule numbers are for a team’s full 17-game schedule and not just the teams played to date.

 

Gruden out as Raiders head coach … After a wild weekend when some old emails were leaked in which he used a racial trope to describe NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Jon Gruden has resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Gruden might have been able to survive the Smith insult, which was from ten years ago, but there are articles this day in both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times detailing other memos sent by Gruden which included several racist, homophobic and misogynistic references. Assistant head coach/special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is expected to take over on an interim basis for the 3-2 Raiders who would be in the playoffs if the post-season started this week.

Jags, Lions still 1-2 … With most of the smoke cleared from this weekend’s action, there hasn’t been much change in the top few picks in the proverbial ‘if the draft were held today’ selection order for the opening round of the 2022 draft. After being blasted at home by Tennessee, Jacksonville will continue to sit on the first pick overall for at least another week. The Jags are one of two remaining winless teams along with Detroit, but the Lions have a much better SOS figure, so they’ll stay at #2. At least for the moment, Miami has the worst SOS of the one-win teams around the league so Philadelphia, which has the Dolphins’ first rounder this year, would have the third pick, followed by the NY Jets at #4. Meanwhile, the Monday night game between Indianapolis and Baltimore will have an impact on the current selection order as the Colts would likely be picking 5th if they lose to the Ravens tomorrow night, followed by Houston at #6 and the Giants at #7. However, a Colts win would push them down the board with Texans and Giants moving up one spot. Note, though, that that there isn’t a whole lot of difference in the SOS figures for Miami, the Jets, Houston and Indianapolis which means none of those teams are locked into those spots. Also just a reminder that we’ll be posting an initial first-round selection order after the Monday nighter.

Jets-Falcons underway in London … Just a reminder that today’s NFL schedule gets underway early with Atlanta playing the NY Jets in London. And with both teams at 1-3, the game will have some impact on the early selection order for the 2022 draft; indeed, the Jets would have had the 3rd pick overall had the draft been held this week, while Atlanta was 7th.

IT! IS! ON! … An already pretty intense race to college football’s national championship suddenly looks to be wide-open after Texas A&M stunned top-ranked and defensing national title-holders Alabama 41-38 on a walk-off FG as time expired. The Tide had actually trailed by as much as 2 TDs throughout much of the contest against the twice-beaten Aggies, but finally took the lead 38-31 with less than ten minutes to play. However, the Aggies were able to drive for a tying score, forced a three-and-out before completing that final drive for the game-winning FG. Of course, Alabama still has a path to the CFP playoffs: win out and win the SEC Championship game, but the Tide doesn’t have any room for error left. With Alabama losing, Georgia, which thumped Auburn 34-10 on the road, will almost assuredly take over the top spot in the rankings, followed by Iowa which came from behind to beat Penn State 23-20, although the main factor in that one appears to be have been the fact that the Lions, who were up two scores at the time, lost QB Sean Clifford midway thru the second quarter. Meanwhile, a team to watch is Oklahoma. While still unbeaten, the Sooners have kind of sputtered through the first half of the season,but looked like a different team in yesterday’s comeback win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry game after star freshman Caleb Williams replaced an inconsistent Spencer Rattler at QB.

Rattler benched in Sooners big comeback win … Fascinating game in Dallas earlier today as 6th ranked Oklahoma rallied from 18 points down in the 4th quarter to knock off Texas 55-48 in the Red River Shootout. And Sooners’ QB Spencer Rattler, who not that long ago was being touted as a potential top 5 candidate for the 2022 draft, had a great seat for the finish after he was pulled in favor of star freshman QB Caleb Williams, who led the rally. The question now in Oklahoma is does Rattler ever get the job back again. Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley was quoted after the game saying that he hadn’t decided on who would start next week against TCU, but its just hard to imagine that he goes back to Rattler who has struggled much of the season. And if in fact Rattler doesn’t get the job back, does he still enter the upcoming draft coming off a down year or does he opt to stay in college, but transfer. Stay tuned

Couple of big AFC games hilite NFL sked; some early draft order reshuffling coming … There are a couple of really good games on tap in the AFC this weekend with Cleveland playing the Chargers in Los Angeles in a late game tomorrow and then Buffalo going to Kansas City on Sunday night.  There will also be some reshuffling at the top of the early selection order for the 2022 draft as there are several games in which teams currently sitting on top 10 picks play each other. It starts early Sunday when the Jets play Atlanta in London at 9:30 AM ET tomorrow morning. Both teams are 1-3 and if the draft had been held this week, the Jets would have had the 3rd pick, while the Falcons would have been at #7. Meanwhile, its sort of unusual territory for New England, but the Patriots game with Houston tomorrow afternoon will be a match-up of teams currently holding the 5th and 6th picks respectively. Meanwhile, Detroit, one of two remaining winless teams presumably at least has a chance when the Lions play the 1-3 Vikings in Minneapolis. If the draft had been held this week, Detroit would have had the 2nd pick overall, while Minnesota would have selected 11th. For the record, Jacksonville, the other remaining winless team, will be home to Tennessee. Also, for the record, we will be posting the first updated selection order after the Monday night game.

Ducks’ RB Verdell done for year … Oregon RB C J Verdell, a solid third day type prospect for the 2022 draft, will miss the remainder of the season, after suffering what is being described as a ‘lower-leg’ injury in the second half of the Ducks’ upset Oregon’s loss at Stanford last Saturday. Verdell, who has almost 3,000 career rushing yards, leads the Ducks this fall with just over 400 yards through 5 games; he has also scored 6 TDs. While he is technically a 5th year senior this fall, Verdell has apparently not ruled out returning to school for another year next fall.

Weekly prospects preview … There is a really interesting weekend coming up on the college football schedule. We get the third and fourth ranked teams in the country going head-to-head in a classic Big Ten match-up and we’ve got both SEC superpowers Alabama and Georgi, the two top-ranked teams in the country are on the road facing potentially pesky conference opponents. Not surprisingly, all three of those games feature some of the leading prospects for the 2022 draft, plus there are a number of other games with players worth checking out for the upcoming draft. Here’s our quick preview of who to watch in this weekend’s big college games with an eye toward the upcoming draft.

Pigskin’s week four prospects review ... As he does every year, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting a weekly review of prospects who caught his eye in the previous weekend’s college football action. Needless to say, he had plenty to chew on after another weekend of terrific games. Here’s Paul’s column for this week.

Top 5 CB Stingley out indefinitely … LSU has announced that All-America junior CB Derek Stingley, a top 5 prospect for the 2022 draft, underwent surgery to address a foot problem earlier today and will be out indefinitely. Stingley originally injured the foot in training camp, but played through it early in the season. He did play in the Tigers’ first three games, but missed the last two and right now there is no timetable for his return. And with the Tigers struggling a bit this fall – they’re 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference – its possible that Stingley does not play again this fall.

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