Positional rankings updated … For the record, the GBN positional rankings for the upcoming draft have been updated as per the drop-down menu above. Again, we point out that these rankings are meant to reflect as best as we can, not necessarily our own grades for the different players, but where we hear that NFL teams have them ranked. And it is interesting that there have been some rather significant changes at certain positions, while several others the situation, as best we can tell, is rather static. Here is a quick summary of the positions experiencing the most fluidity.
- Quarterback: On the one hand, it certainly appears that 2024 still looks to be very much the ‘Year of the QB’, at least when it comes to the upcoming draft. And USC’s Caleb Williams is still very much the consensus favorite to be the first player selected next April with North Carolina’s Drake Maye not that far behind. After that, though, it gets very interesting with very little consensus at this time as to the actual order of the next dozen or so QBs, although it does appear that Quinn Ewers of Texas may have re-emerged as the #3 guy on the list, but that’s hardly a majority opinion. Indeed, we’ve heard the case made for Shedeur Sanders of Colorado, who has continued to play at a high level despite the team’s losses in the last two games, Washington’s Michael Penix, who leads the country with almost 400 passing yards per game, Michigan’s ultra-efficient JJ McCarthy, Riley Leonard of Duke, Bo Nix of Oregon, Cameron Ward of Washington State, Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke and Spencer Rattler of South Carolina to be included in the mid-to-late first round discussion by one team or another, with Tulane’s Michael something of a dark-horse wild-card. Read more
Bears own top two picks; rest of top ten for week set… With apologies to Charles Dickens it may have been both the worst of times, but also the best of times in Chicago for the Bears who looked like they finally had a win in the bag pretty much all Sunday afternoon against Denver. Alas, though, it was not to be as the Bears blew a three-touchdown lead at halftime, gave up the tying TD on a fumble return with less than 7 minutes to play, and failed on a 4th down gamble from inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line with less than 2 minutes to play. As a result, the Bears will be sitting on the first pick overall for the 2024 for at least another week. In fact, the Bears will be sitting on the top two picks as they also own Carolina’s selection as a result the Panthers trade for the right to select QB Bryce Young this past April. The Panthers also led early yesterday but ultimately lost to Minnesota and so remain as the NFL’s only other remaining winless team giving the Bears the 2nd pick, again for at least this week.
Update: We can now add also that with week 4 in the books, Las Vegas would have the 3rd pick, with Denver at #4, Minnesota at #5, and the NY Jets (6), New England (7), Cincinnati (8), Arizona (9) and the Giants (10) rounding out the top ten. For the record, we will be posting an initial full updated selection order for the opening round of the 2024 draft next week.
Update on Duke QB Leonard good news … Team officials at Duke were fearing the worst after star QB Riley Leonard left last night’s heart-breaking loss to Notre Dame on crutches. However, the school announced earlier this evening that Leonard, who has started to generate some first-round buzz for the 2024 draft, suffered only a high-ankle sprain, not a knee injury. Leonard will miss some time, but the injury is not season-ending. And it helps just a little bit that the 4-1 Blue Devils have their bye this coming weekend.
Vols WR injured in college action … Tennessee WR Bru McCoy suffered what appeared to be a pretty serious leg injury during the Vols’ 41-20 conference win over South Carolina. McCoy, an interesting second-tier prospect at the position, was taken almost immediately to a local hospital for further evaluation. And in the Big Ten, Iowa QB Cade McNamara also suffered a lower-leg injury in the Hawkeyes’ win over Michigan State
Winless team battles ‘lowlite’ Sunday NFL sked … How’s this for genius NFL scheduling: the league’s four remaining winless teams play each other this week. It will be #1 versus #2 Sunday afternoon when Chicago, which would have had the first pick overall were the 2024 held this past week, hosts Denver, which would pick second, in one of this week’s early games. In another, 0-3 Minnesota, which would pick 3rd will play at Carolina, the NFL’s other remaining winless team in another early game. In fact, we should see something of a major shakeup of the 2024 draft’s current selection order as Las Vegas will play at the LA Chargers in a late afternoon in a battle of teams that would have the 5th and 6th picks this week. Of note in that game, the Raiders will be without QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who is still in concussion protocol; he’ll be replaced either by veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer, who hasn’t started a game since 2016 or rookie Aiden O’Connell, a 4th round pick at the 2023 draft who is yet to play.
Happy Birthday Austin!! … A very happy 13th birthday to 2nd grandson Austin, the roughest, toughest 102-pound TE out there!!
QB dual hilites weekend college sked … This week’s college football schedule lacks the outright sizzle of last weekend’s terrific slate. However, there are are several games worth at least a look. And it starts with a match-up between two of the top QB prospects – Caleb Williams and Shedeur Sanders -when Southern Cal plays at Colorado on Saturday afternoon with KO set for Noon ET on Fox. Here’s who we’ll be watching with an eye to the 2024 draft in this weekend’s big games.
Bears, Broncos at top of early draft order … We are still a couple of weeks away from an official posting of the selection order for the 2024 draft; however, we can report that with the third week of the regular schedule we can confirm that Chicago would have the first pick if the draft were held this week, followed by Denver at #2, Minnesota at #3 and Carolina, the league’s other remaining winless team in at #4. Meanwhile, Las Vegas and the LA Chargers would flip for the 5-6 picks with Houston at #7 and Tennessee, Jacksonville and Cincinnati rounding out the top ten. However, we should see something of a shakeup at the board of the board this week as the top two teams – Chicago and Denver – play each other this coming Sunday in Chicago. In fact, the top of the 2024 draft selection order very much goes through Chicago as after playing the Broncos this week, the Bears play Minnesota, Las Vegas and the Chargers over the course of the following month. At the same time, like the Bears/Broncos, the Raiders and Chargers play each other this coming weekend.
College football observations … Here are several observations we had watching some of college football’s big games this past weekend.
Star Buckeyes’ WR Harrison dinged, back in game … NFL scouts are likely breathing a little easier as we speak as star Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison, the consensus top non-QB prospect for the 2024 draft, who had to be helped off the field early in the 2nd half of the Buckeyes’ game at Notre Dame this evening with a potentially serious ankle or knee injury, has returned to the game (and just caught a pass). Harrison was hurt while blocking on a 61-yard TreVeyon Henderson TD run and had to be helped off the field.
Buffs bubble burst … You kind of knew it had to happen sooner or later, but Colorado’s dream season had a bit of a nightmare earlier today as the Buffalos were hammered 42-6 by #10 Oregon. Still, it has been a great story for the Sanders – coach Deion and QB Shedeur – and the Buffs. For the record, QB Shedeur was 23 of 33 passing with a TD but for only 159 yards, while Oregon’s Bo Nix really lit it up completing 28 of 33 passes for 276 yards and 3 scores.
Messy QB situation in Bearsland could have draft implications … We are just a couple of weeks into the NFL regular schedule, but already there is a bit of a buzz out of Chicago that QB Justin Fields could be on shaky ground with the Bears in the midst of a team record 12-game losing streak. And is certainly didn’t help this week when Fields was asked why he was, in his own words, playing ‘robotically’ he pointed to the coaches. Then later when he tried to walk back the comments, Fields may have ended up pouring more gasoline on the fire by complaining that he was being overloaded by the coaching staff. That has had the Bears’ front office in full damage control the past couple of days including a hastily called presser by G.M. Ryan Poles yesterday where he defended Fields as best as he could. What can’t be lost on the Bears’ management is the simple fact that Fields has not developed as an NFL passer since the team traded up to get him with the 11th pick overall in 2021. Through 2 games this year, for example, Fields has a 61% completion figure with only a couple of TD passes versus 3 picks; he’s also been sacked 10 times thru those two games despite being one of the most athletic QBs in the league with critics complaining that he has been holding onto the ball too long. As a result, the Bears are almost certainly going to decide whether to cut bait and move on at the end of the year as it appears they could very well have a couple of top ten picks at the 2024 draft including their own as well as Carolina’s first-rounder which they acquired in that trade for the #1 pick in 2023. Indeed, while its still way early, the Bears would have the second pick overall after Denver, as well the ninth pick from Carolina next April if the draft were held this week. Note too that the Bears play Denver in Chicago next weekend. Stay tuned!
Who to watch in college football’s really big games this weekend … Truth be told, there haven’t necessarily been a lot of truly must-see games through the first three weeks of the college football schedule. However, that all changes on Saturday with as many as a half a dozen key contests all with major conference and national implications. The biggest of these arguably kicks off Saturday evening when perennial powerhouses Ohio State and Notre Dame hook up in South Bend in a battle of top 10 teams with CFP playoff aspirations. Earlier in the day, Florida State will duel Clemson for ACC supremacy with a Noon ET KO, while in what will surely be the most talked about game of the day, resurgent Colorado has its toughest test to date as Deion Sanders and his Buffalos travel to Oregon to play the Ducks, who also have national playoff dreams. Here are the players to watch in those three games with an eye toward the 2024 draft. At the same time, though, there are several other games that aren’t getting the same kind of national pub, but which in many ways are just as intriguing. In fact, there are two other games on the west coast very much worth watching as #22 UCLA plays at #11 Utah, while #14 Oregon State and #21 Washington State play for the ‘unofficial’ Pac-12 championship as they are the only two teams in the conference that haven’t committed to leaving next fall. And the one player we are looking forward to watching in the latter three games is UCLA ER Laiatu Latu (#15, 6-5, 265), potentially the most disruptive pass rusher in the country. He’s also one of the most interesting stories in college football. Indeed, he was named the Comeback Player of the Year in college football last fall after actually having retired from football two full years earlier when he suffered a neck injury while playing for Washington. But he had 10.5 sacks last fall after transferring to UCLA despite not actually being a starter for the Bruins and already has 4 in UCLA’s first three games this year.
Vikes get Rams RB Akers; swap future picks … Minnesota has acquired veteran RB Cam Akers in a conditional trade with the LA Rams. The Vikings will also send a 7th round pick in 2026 to the Rams and will get a 6th rounder that year in exchange. Both picks have been described as conditional.
LSU S Brooks has brain tumor removed … LSU Safety Greg Brooks did not play in last week’s win over Mississippi because of what was described as a family medical emergency. Now we know the reason. Brooks, a second-tier prospect for the position had a brain tumor removed on Friday and is now waiting for the results of a biopsy. We wish he and his family a speedy recovery.
QBs Sanders, Leonard up on Kiper ranking … For those that missed it late last week, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper updated his top 25 for the 2024 draft late last week. Kiper’s top ten includes most of the usual suspects including Southern Cal QB Caleb Williams and Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison as the top two prospects; however, he now includes Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders at #5 and Duke’s Riley Leonard at #19. He also has Florida State WR Keon Coleman as the #2 receiver behind Harrison at the 12th spot, while other guys moving up on Kiper’s board include Iowa CB/S Cooper DeJean (#16), Washington WR Jalen McMillnan (#17) and Arizona OT Jordan Morgan (#21). For the record, ESPN also posted a new draft debate feature this morning featuring Kiper and several other draft analysts who usually have some interesting observations.
Broncos would pick first if draft held this week … We noted over the weekend, that we don’t intend to start posting a weekly selection order for the 2024 draft for a least another couple of weeks when we should start to see some real early trends. However, we can say of the 8 teams that are 0-2 after the first couple of weeks of the schedule, Denver has by far the weakest strength of schedule and would have the #1 pick were the draft held this week. The Broncos would be followed by Chicago, the LA Chargers, Minnesota, Arizona (with Houston’s pick), and Cincinnati rounding out the top 6. Two things to note, though. First, this early in the season, there can be wild swings in a team’s SOS figure from week-to-week. And second, of course, no one really expects teams like the Chargers, Minnesota and Cincinnati to be anywhere near the bottom ten later in the season. But that’s where we’re at it after week 2.
Hogs hope to have top RB Sanders back this week … One other college injury of note, Arkansas hopes to have star RB Raheim Sanders, arguably the top prospect at the position for the 2024 draft after he ran for over 1,400 yards and 10 TDs last fall, back when the Razorbacks open their SEC campaign on Saturday against LSU. Sanders has not played since Arkansas’ season opener because of a lingering knee injury.
UGA OT Mims out with foot injury … Georgia will be without rising 3rd year OT Amarius Mims, one of the top 4-5 prospects at the position for the 2024 draft, for at least the next month after he underwent a procedure to repair what is being described as a ‘severe’ high ankle sprain. Mimis, in fact, is just one of three Bulldogs on the shelf as both S Javon Bullard, another late first, early second round prospect who is also sidelined with an ankle injury, and RB Kendall Milton, with an MCL injury, are also out indefinitely.
Cards, Broncos snatch defeat from the jaws of victory … For much of the afternoon it looked like Arizona might have to rethink any plans of tanking this fall in order to get one of the very top picks at the 2024 draft when they led the struggling NY Giants by 21 points midway through the 3rd quarter. But, alas it was not to be, at least on this day, as the Giants rallied to a 31-28 win that dropped the Cardinals to 0-2 on the young season. There was something of a similar story in Denver where the Broncos had an early 18 point lead on visiting Washington only to trail by 11 late in the 4th quarter. The Broncos then staged their own rally on a FG and a TD on a last-second hail mary, but also dropped to 0-2 when their 2-point try failed. For now, there are 7 teams at 0-2 including Chicago and Houston which also had top 5 picks at the 2023 draft. However, the 0-2 teams also include several not usual suspects as leading playoff contenders Cincinnati, Minnesota and the LA Chargers are also winless through two weeks. And the 0-2 ranks could grow as a result of this week’s prime time weekend games as o-1 New England hosts Miami in the Sunday nighter, while 0-1 Pittsburgh plays Cleveland in one of the two Monday night games tomorrow, while 0-1 Carolina hosts New Orleans. And no, we will not be posting an updated ‘if the draft were held today’ selection order for 2024 as we prefer to wait until the season is a little farther along and we start to see some trends emerging.