NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

Media outlets wishing to interview Colin Lindsay or Pigskin Paul Guillemette about the draft or other football topics should email the editor or call 613-692-1088

Eagles clinch 19th pick … With their loss in Tampa Bay in today’s early game, we can confirm that Philadelphia’s own pick at the 2022 draft will be the 19th. That will actually be the Eagles’ third pick, assuming no trades, in the opening round as they also have the 15th and 16th picks acquired from Miami and Indianapolis. What the rather dismal loss to the Buccaneers could also confirm, at least in the minds of a lot of folks connected with the Eagles is that while he’s a great athlete, QB Jalen Hurts may simply lack the arm talent to take the franchise very deep in the playoffs. And with three top 20 picks in this year’s opening round, they will have some ammunition to make some moves if they so desire.

Today’s games to decide more picks … No picks in the selection order for the 2022 draft were decided as the result of yesterday’s two playoff games. However, we could see as many as 5 more picks determined by the three games today starting with Philadelphia playing at the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1 PM ET contest. That will be followed by San Francisco at Dallas at 4:30 PM ET in the late afternoon game and Pittsburgh at Kansas City at 8:15 PM ET in the evening game. The weekend wraps up with Arizona playing at the LA Rams in the first ever Monday night playoff game.

As the QB turns … We are still over 100 days away from the 2022 draft – and the first round of the playoffs is barely underway – but there already appears to be some chatter out there as it relates to the QB situation around the league. There is an unconfirmed report by Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports that recently fired former Miami head coach and Houston QB DeShaun Watson are trying to orchestrate an arrangement in which both would end up with the same team. For those that have been out of the universe, Watson did not play in 2021 as he tried to resolve multiple lawsuits alleging he sexually assaulted over 20 masseuses. And it makes some sense as Watson, who first asked to be dealt, but then  reportedly would only accept a trade to Miami, the team Flores was coaching. The report goes to to add that Watson would really like to end up with the Giants as he supposedly has business interests in New York. The Giants could conceivably be interested in hiring Flores, who is a coach, although he reportedly can also be hard to get along with at times. However, its harder to see the Giants being all that interested in acquiring Watson and all his baggage, especially at the cost of multiple draft picks, although they still aren’t sold on Daniel Jones, their first round pick in 2019. Here’s a thought though; why don’t the Texans just hire Flores and they get two for the price of one.

Speaking of Houston, Texans’ G.M. Nick Caserio suggested – unprompted – during a presser to talk about the firing of David Culley, their head coach, that they would be open to listening to offers for the third pick overall at this April’s draft. The question is would anyone else in the league be interested in buying, especially when it does not appear, at least at this time anyway, that any of this year’s top QB prospects are worth a top 5 selection. Certainly, it doesn’t look that way at the moment, but there is one scenario we keep looking at when, for example, doing mock drafts which focuses on Carolina and the 6th pick. The Panthers definitely need help at QB after neither the Sam Darnold experiment nor the return of Cam Newton solved the problem and the 6th pick would be around where one would expect the QBs to start to enter the equation at this year’s draft. However, there are a number of teams out there that will be looking for QB help at the 2022 draft and if, say one guy really starts to stand out at the position, would there be teams willing to consider moving up ahead of the Panthers which might put picks like the 3rd, 4th and 5th into the trade discussion. For their part, though, the Panthers are saying that they have, in fact, not given up on Darnold and feel that what he needs is a better supporting cast. Complicating the whole thing is the fact that the Panthers exercised their 5th year option on Darnold after they acquired him from the Jets last spring and are on the hook for almost $19M on him this coming season.

Bama CB enters draft … Another Alabama junior has confirmed that they will be entering the upcoming draft. The latest to declare is CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, a mid-to-late second-day pick who is currently rated as the 80th best overall prospect for the upcoming draft on the GBN Big Board.

Tide S Battle to return … Alabama got one back last night when junior safety Jordan Battle announced that he would be returning for his senior season. Battle had been considered to be a mid-to-late second day prospect for the 2022 draft.

UGA WR in draft; OSU DE out … Georgia junior WR George Pickens became the 4th underclassman from the national champion Bulldogs to announce for the 2022 today. Pickens looked like an emerging top 15 prospect during a breakout season in 2020, but barely played this past season after tearing an ACL in spring practice. Pickens did return late in the season, but caught only 5 passes, although one was a key 52-yard gainer in the Bulldogs’ CFP title game win over Alabama. On the other hand, Ohio State DE Zach Harrison, an early-mid-second round prospect, somewhat surprisingly announced that he’ll be returning to school. same story for Alabama junior DT D.J. Dale, who had been the #6 prospect at the position on the GBN positional ranking.

Dawgs D loses 3 to NFL; Tide one … Georgia’s national championship defense will be without at least three key underclassmen next fall as star ILB Nakobe Dean, DE Trayvon Walker and FS Lewis Cine all announced today that they will be entering this year’s draft. Dean is currently the consensus top LB in this year’s draft class and is rated #13 overall on the GBN Big Board. Walker is also starting to draw some first-round interest while Cine is a later second-day candidate. Meanwhile, the Alabama receiver room continued to thin out as Canadian WR Jon Metchie has become the latest Tide WR to confirm he’s entering this year’s draft. Metchie was considered to be a mid-second round prospect, but his immediate draft grade was clouded when he tore an ACL in the Tide’s SEC championship game win over Georgia. On the other hand, UCLA junior RB Zach Charbonnet, a late second-day prospect, has announced that he’ll be returning to school for his senior campaign.

UGA RB White, Bama WR Bolden enter draft; Tide LB To’oTo’o staying … Georgia junior RB Zamir White has become the latest underclassman to announce that they will be entering the 2022 draft. The 5-11, 215-pound White, who led the national champions in rushing with almost 900 yards, is a third day prospect who is the #8 back on the GBN Positional ranking. Meanwhile, Alabama lost another receiver as slot guy Slade Bolden announced he would be entering the draft; that’s a bit of a surprise for a player no one was really expecting to turn pro this year. On the other hand, most analysts figured LB Henry To’oTo’o would be entering this year’s draft, but he has decided to return to school for his senior season.

Iowa C Linderbaum enters draft … Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum, the top prospect at the position for the 2022 draft, announced this morning that he will be turning pro this winter. Linderbaum isn’t all that big at a listed 6-3 and less than 300 pounds, but is an excellent athlete who some scouts believe is the best center they have graded in some time. Linderbaum is currently rated as the 14th top overall prospect for the upcoming draft on the GBN Big Board.

QB Jones, WR Chase, LB Parsons headline GBN all-rook team … New England QB Mac Jones, Cincinnati WR Ja’Marr Chase and Dallas LB Micah Parsons are the headliners on the GBN All-Rookie team as chosen by Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette. Jones, in particular, is an interesting choice because he was the 5th of 5 QBs selected in the top half of last spring’s opening round. Meanwhile, Chase and Parsons were Pigskins choices for offensive and defensive rookies of the year respectively. Here’s the full team including honorable mentions.

Texans fire coach Culley … Houston has fired head coach David Culley after just one year on the job. The sense around the league is that Culley actually did a pretty good job with the Texans, guiding them to 4 wins – the same as last year – all the while dealing with the DeShaun Watson embroglio and all the rest of the drama surrounding the franchise.

Tide OT Neal, WR Williams enter draft … Alabama junior OT Evan Neal and WR Jameson Williams both announced today that they would be entering the 2022 draft. Neal is generally considered to be one of the top 3 prospects for this year’s draft along with DEs Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. And while most analysts expect the DEs to go 1-2 with Neal, 3rd, it would not be a total shock if Jacksonville ended up taking Neal with the 1st pick as their primary goal this off-season is to get QB Trevor Lawrence, the top pick last year, some support. Williams was also considered to be at least a top 10 guy for this year’s draft before he tore an ACL in Monday’s national championship game loss to Georgia. Obviously, he won’t be available for the on-field testing aspects of this year’s pre-draft process; he’s also only about 50-50 to be ready for the opening of the 2022 season, but early reports are that the injury wasn’t particularly serious, at least for an ACL, and doctors are confident that Williams will still be close to a 4.3 guy when all is said and done.

Three-round projection posted … With the NFL regular season in the books and the selection order, at least for the non-playoff teams, confirmed we have posted an initial 3-round projection for this year’s draft, which for the record, is now just 106 days away. and again, the point of the exercise is not to try and predict which specific players a particular team will select, but rather to give to give readers some idea, based on the latest intel, the quality of players that are likely to be available at different points in the draft.

UK OT enters draft … The OT class for the 2022 draft just got bigger, both literally and figuratively, when 6-7, 330-pound Kentucky junior OT Dare Rosenthal announced that he’ll be turning pro this winter. Rosenthal was originally a blue-chip recruit at LSU, before transferring to Kentucky this year. He’s generally considered to be an early 3rd day prospect, but has the tools to contribute on Sundays. Underclassmen have until Monday to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible for the upcoming draft. At the same time, several prominent juniors including Iowa LB Jack Campbell, who led the country in tackles this past season, and Auburn DE Eku Leota announced they would be staying in school. Same for Alabama junior TE Jahleel Billingsley, although he will transfer.

‘Cane OT Nelson opts to return … Miami junior OT Zion Nelson, a late 2nd day prospect for the upcoming draft, has announced that he will instead return to school for his senior season.

Star Tide WR did tear ACL … Alabama junior WR Jameson Williams got the worst possible news today when an MRI confirmed that he did indeed suffer a torn ACL during last night’s national championship game loss to Georgia. Williams, who had been considered to be a top 10 candidate for the upcoming draft, fell awkwardly after catching a 40-yard pass in the 2nd quarter of last night’s game and did not return. Williams now has a tough decision whether to still enter the draft or return to Alabama for his senior season next fall. However, if he were to enter the draft he almost certainly wouldn’t be able to participate in any of the pre-draft testing; it also wouldn’t be guaranteed that he’d be available to start the season next fall. Stay tuned.

There goes the Judge!!! … In something of a surprise, the NY Giants have fired head coach Joe Judge after just two seasons. While Giants’ G.M. Dave Gettleman ‘retired’ earlier this week, it was believed that Judge was safe at least another season, but obviously the Giants ultimately felt otherwise. Judge, who came to the Giants from the Patriots, was 10-23 in two seasons that included a disastrous 6-game losing streak to end the current campaign. And during that stretch there were times that Judge looked like he was almost out of control.

QBs still in demand … The general consensus around the NFL these days is that 2022 is not necessarily going to be a great year to be looking for a potential elite QB at the draft. However, that probably won’t stop teams from at least kicking the tires on the top prospects at the position this year as multiple teams have major issues at QB. Indeed, we just posted what we see as the primary needs/priorities for the teams that did not make the playoffs this year, as well as that for Philadelphia, the one playoff team with with an earlier pick, and at least 5 of the 19 appear to have QB as their primary need, while several others could depending on what happens with their current guy. Note, we will be adding the playoff teams to the list as they are eliminated through the post-season. Also, because fans will often have a better feel for their particular team’s situation we would appreciate hearing from folks who feel that we have missed or overstated something related to that team. Thanks

Lions, Jets to coach Senior Bowl squads … The Senior Bowl announced this morning that the coaching staffs of the Detroit Lions and New York Jets will be handling the coaching duties at this year’s game in Mobile.

Irish duo to return … In the ‘clock ticking for underclassmen’ post earlier today, it was reported that DE Isaiah Foskey and C Jarrett Patterson of Notre Dame were among the juniors the NFL was waiting to hear from about their intentions to enter the 2022 draft. Turns out both had announced over the weekend that they would be returning to school for their senior seasons next fall. Thanks to reader Todd H, for the heads up!

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