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Two more top QBs to throw at combine … The number of top QB prospects who have confirmed that they will throw at next weekend’s combine has grown to 4 with news that both Josh Rosen of UCLA and Wyoming’s Josh Allen will be full participants at Indianapolis next week. They will join Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State who announced earlier that they will participate in all on-field drills at the combine. The NFL, though, is still waiting to hear from Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson of Louisville whether they will throw at next week’s combine. Typically in the past top QB prospects have tended to pass on throwing at the combine and instead waited for their pro day when they would be more in control. The QBs will be on the field next Saturday for their on-field combine drills.
Rams acquire star C CB Peters … The Los Angeles Rams have reportedly agreed to a deal with Kansas City in which the Rams will acquire Pro Bowl CB Marcus Peters. Peters, a 3rd year pro who already has 19 career interceptions, while presumably replace Trumaine Johnson, a free agent to be, in the Rams lineup. However, while talented Peters has a long history of off-field character issues. The compensation for the deal has not been revealed but is expected to include a package of draft picks and possibly young players. The deal will become official on March 14th when the new NFL season.
Mayfield to do full combine workout … The NFL’s annual scouting combine gets underway in Indianapolis at this time next week. And no doubt one of the most polarizing candidates at the combine will be Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. Mayfield won this year’s Heisman Trophy, but still hasn’t won over pro scouts as he lacks prototype measurables and has some character red flags. Mayfield, though, has been doing everything he can to put those concerns to rest. He participated in last month’s Senior Bowl and is now saying that he will do the full workout in Indianapolis next week, including taking part in the on-field positional workout including the passing drills. In the past, top QB prospects have tended to skip the throwing elements of the combine preferring to wait for their pro days when they can be more in control of the proceedings. Of course, Mayfield will also still be front and center at the Oklahoma pro day which is scheduled for March 13th when he’ll likely go through a full scripted workout that should be one of the best attended events on this year’s pro day schedule. In fact, which teams send senior delegations to Norman for the Sooners’ pro day will provide some clues as to which teams are actually thinking seriously about taking Mayfield at some point in this year’s draft. In that regard, one team that appears to have some interest is Miami as the Dolphins will reportedly be taking Mayfield to dinner the night before the Sooners’ workout. For the record, Miami has the 11th pick in this year’s draft. Stay tuned.
Hurney back as Panthers’ GM … Carolina announced this morning that Marty Hurney is back as the Panthers’ full-time G.M. Hurney had been the Panthers’ interim G.M. after Dave Gettleman was fired shortly before training camp opened his past season. Hurney was the Panthers’ G.M. for just over ten years from 2002 to 2012, but was fired early that final season. While Hurney has been in the job since the summer it was no sure thing that he would get the full-time job back after the league opened an investigation into allegations of harassment from his ex-wife. However, the former wife withdrew her complaint closing the legal proceedings and paving the way for Hurney to be re-instated. The Panthers are hoping that Hurney will provide some stability to an organization that is going through a transition period with the NFL investigating team owner Jerry Richardson over allegations of inappropriate behavior of his own that has pushed Richardson to sell his majority share of the team.
Phins tag WR Landry … The NFL new football year doesn’t officially begin until March 14th, but starting yesterday teams were allowed to place either franchise or transition designations on upcoming free agents. And Miami didn’t waste any time getting star WR Jarvis Landry locked up as they placed a franchise tag on him. It’s not totally clear, though, that the Dolphins will necessarily keep Landry around going forward as there is some speculation that they may be considering a sign and trade type deal for Landry. If they did plan on keeping Landry long-term, Miami has until July 16th to get him signed to a long-term deal.
Pigskin mocks the draft … Nobody at the GBN hates doing mock drafts more than Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette, but even he’s caught the bug a little bit and has posted his first official projection of the 2018 draft year. Pigskin takes a little different tack than most though and goes with the guys he’d select if he were calling the shots.
Path to the draft runs thru Indy … The NFL’s annual scouting combine gets underway in Indianapolis later this week with 330 of the top prospects for the 2018 draft set to be poked, prodded and tested. And while the importance of the combine sometimes gets overstated, no question it is one of the key elements of the entire pre-draft process. For starters, just who gets invited to the combine is a pretty good indicator of who is actually going to be drafted in April. Read more
Finalists for future drafts announced … The NFL has announced that 5 cities including Cleveland/Canton, Tennessee, Kansas City, Denver and Las Vegas are the finalists to host the 2019 and 2020 draft. Each of the five cities will submit final bids to the league by early April with the league expected to announce the hosts for the two draft at the NFL Spring League Meeting in May. The 2018 draft, of course, will be held in Dallas beginning on April 26th.
Draft going to national TV … Its been kind of quiet around the draft the past week or so, but this evening there are unconfirmed reports that FOX will carry the opening round of the 2018 draft this coming April. FOX will reportedly simulcast the NFL Network broadcast, while ESPN will continue to provide its own coverage. The first round of this year’s draft is slated for Thursday, April 26th in Dallas.
QB Mayfield to visit Browns … Interesting item in the Akron Beacon Journal via Sports Illustrated this morning that indicates that Cleveland has already requested a pre-draft visit with Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. The Browns have the #1 pick in the 2018 draft and would normally be expected to take one of the higher Sam Darnold of Southern Cal or UCLA’s Josh Rosen, but continue to send out hints that Mayfield is very much in play. The Browns, for example, recently brought former Washington G.M. Scot McCloughlan, a known fan of Mayfield, on board in an advisory capacity, while current Cleveland G.M. John Dorsey and head coach hue Jackson have had nothing but positive things to say about the former Sooners’ star. Its not clear whether the Browns are simply doing due diligence on an intriguing prospect or are genuinely interested in the player. One possibility if Cleveland is in fact targeting Mayfield would be to take another player with the top pick – say Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, who is considered to be the consensus top prospect overall in this year’s draft – an then select Mayfield with the 4th pick which Cleveland acquired from Houston in a draft-day deal last year. Stay tuned; just 76 days until the draft!
49ers take care of business; extend QB Garoppolo … San Francisco has reportedly signed QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year contract worth up to $137.5 million, the richest in NFL history. The 49ers acquired Garoppolo, who was set to become a free agent this winter, in a mid-season trade with New England. The 49ers were 1-10 prior to acquiring Garoppolo, but won their final five games of the year after he took over the reins. Needless to say, had Garoppolo not resigned and hit free agency the 49ers would have been looking for a QB with an early pick at the upcoming draft., but now can look at other positions.
GBN projection updated, extended … Long-time readers of the GBN will be aware that we generally aren’t big fans of mock drafts. Not that they aren’t fun to do and, analyzed correctly, can provide some useful information. However, most fans tend to read them as ‘mini-drafts’ and focus only on the picks assigned to their respective team and ultimately miss the point of the exercise which is not to identify which particular player a particular team is going to pick at a particular spot in the draft, but to give some idea what players are likely to be available at different spots in the draft. That said, here is the latest GBN projection for the opening three rounds of the 2018 draft.
Top combine snubs … You get a bit of a sense of how good the 2018 draft class is when one looks at the list of players that weren’t invited to this year’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. Among those that didn’t get invites to Indy this month include QB Matt Linehan of Idaho, Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State and Nick Stevens of Colorado State; RBs Ito Smith of Southern Mississippi, Ralph Webb of Vanderbilt, Phillip Lindsay of Colorado and Troy’s Jordan Chunn; FBs Khalid Hill of Michigan and Stanford’s Daniel Marx; WRs Justin Watson of Penn, Bryce Bobo of Colorado, Armanti Foreman of Texas, Janarion Grant of Rutgers, and UNLV’s Devonte Boyd; TEs Adam Breneman of UMass, Cam Serigne of Wake Forest, Deon Yelder of Western Kentucky, Deandre Goolsby of Florida and Ethan Wolf of Tennessee; OTs Zach Crabtree of Oklahoma State and Jamar McGloster of Syracuse; OGs Dejon Allen of Hawaii, Washington State All-american Cody O’Connell, Maea Teuhema of Southeastern Louisiana, Tony Adams of North Carolina State, Kyle Bosch of West Virginia, Tyrone Crowder of Clemson, Cory Helms of South Carolina and Jacob Alsadek; Cs Bradley Bozeman of Alabama, Austin Golson of Auburn and Austin Kuhnert of North Dakota State; DEs Marcell Frazier of Missouri, P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State and Joe Ostman of Central Michigan; DTs Poona Ford of Texas and Christian LaCouture; OLBs Joel Lanning of Iowa State and Tre’ Williams of Auburn; ILBs Devante Downs of California and Frank Ginda of San Jose State; CBs Jeremy Reaves of South Alabama, Ken Webster of Mississippi, Jalen Davis of Utah State, Deion Harris of North Dakota, and Arrion Springs of Oregon; safeties Jamar Summers of UConn, Trayvon Henderson of Hawaii, Tyree Robinson of Oregon, Chris Hawkins of USC, Trey Marshall of Florida State, Jaleel Wadood of UCLA and Steven Parker of Oklahoma; PK Matthew McCrane of Kansas State; and P Michael Carrizosa of San Jose State.
Scouting combine roster announced … The NFL has released the list of 326 players that have been invited to this year’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. Here is the roster page at NFL.com and the roster page on the combine’s own site. The combine gets underway on February 27th with on-field drills set to run March 2nd thru the 5th.
First three rounds set … With the Super Bowl now in the books, the first three rounds of the 2018 draft are now pretty much set. The exceptions are a coin flip to decide the 9th and 10th picks (and subsequent rounds) between Oakland and San Francisco, as well as any compensatory picks. The coin flip between the Raiders and 49ers will reportedly be held at the combine early next month. The remaining four rounds won’t be set until the comp picks are announced. Here is the updated first 3-round selection order as well as an updated picks by team file.
Small school players at the all-star games; by the numbers … Needless to say, the post-season college all-star games were dominated by players from major D1 programs. However, there were also a number of really good prospects from other programs and that’s what GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has in his sights in this report.
Eagles soar to first Super Bowl title … Philadelphia won its first NFL title since 1960 with a thrilling 41-33 win over defending champion New England this evening in Minnesota. As a result of their win, Philadelphia will have the 32nd pick in the opening round of this year’s draft, while New England will pick 31st.
Browns front office adds former ‘Skins exec … Cleveland has reportedly added former Washington G.M. Scott McCloughan to its front office as a personnel consultant. McCloughan’s main duties apparently will be to assist during the draft. McCloughan was Washington’s G.M. over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but was fired last March. McCloughan also served as the 49ers’ G.M. for two seasons in 2014 and 2015. McCloughan worked with current Browns’ G.M. John Dorsey with the Packers in the 1990s. Its not clear what impact McCloughan will have on the Browns’ draft plans, but he has reportedly talked highly about Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield in the past. The Browns, of course, have the 1st and 4th picks overall at the upcoming draft.
Ravens GM Newsome to step down next year … Breaking news out of Baltimore as the Ravens have announced that long-time G.M. Ozzie Newsome, arguably the most respected personnel exec in the NFL, will step down at the end of the 2018 season. Newsome has been with the Ravens since before they moved from Cleveland and has been G.M. since 2002. Newsome will be replaced by long-time assistant Eric DeCosta. However, Newsome is expected to remain with the team in an undisclosed advisory role.
Wash gets Chiefs’ QB Smith for pick, player … Washington has acquired veteran QB Alex Smith from Kansas City for what is being reported as a 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft, unofficially the 78th pick overall, and a player to be named later. The deal, though, won’t become official until the start of the league year on March 14th. Smith, who led the NFL in passing efficiency this past season, reportedly will sign a four-year extension with the Redskins. He became expendable in KC, though, because the Chiefs want to move onto Patrick Mahomes whom they acquired in the opening round of the 2017 draft. In Washington, Smith will replace Kirk Cousins who is expected to move on in free agency. There had been some speculation that Cleveland, which has the #1 pick in the 2018 draft, might try and trade for Smith to complement the young QB they are expected to take with the top pick. Cleveland, which a ton of cap space, though, could now target Cousins and if they did that likely would not take a QB with the #1 pick; in that case, the Browns could be tempted to either trade the pick or take a positional player like Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. Stay tuned!