NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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Random notes from college football … Arizona State junior FS Aashari Crosswell has opted out of the rest of the college season and has declared for the 2021 draft where he will likely be considered to be a third day type prospect. At the same time, Florida State junior DT Cory Durden has also opted out, but will not be entering the upcoming draft. Instead, he has entered the transfer portal and will return for the 2021 season. Durden came into the season being viewed as a strong second day prospect with the possibility to move into opening round consideration, but that never really materialized this season. Meanwhile, it is being reported that Texas junior RB Keaontay Ingram, who came into this season as one of the top draft-eligible RB’s for the 2021 draft, has opted out and will enter the transfer portal and return for the 2021 season. Ingram has suffered through a disappointing season in which he has dealt with Covid and an ankle injury.

Senior Bowl confirms another 5 … The Senior Bowl confirmed in the past 24 hours or so that another 5 players have accepted invitations to this year’s game including Ohio State ILB Baron Browning, WR Frank Darby of Arizona State, Texas DT Ta’Quon Graham, CB Mark Webb of Georgia and Coastal Carolina DE Tarron Jackson. That brings the number of players who have accepted invites to this year’s game to 81. The Senior Bowl is scheduled for the week of January 26-30 in Mobile.

UGA C Hill out for the year … Georgia junior C Trey Hill, who is ranked just outside the GBN Top 100, but who some scouts view as a legit second day prospect, will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on both knees to repair meniscus tears. As of now, it is unknown whether Hill plans to return to school or declare for the draft.
ECU WR Proehl enters draft; Mizzou duo may not be far behind …  East Carolina junior WR Blake Proehl has confirmed that he has opted out for the remainder of the season and will be declaring for the 2021 draft. The 6-0, 190-pound Proehl, who figures to be a 3rd day or free agent candidate this coming spring, is a possession type receiver who had 100 catches over the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, there is still nothing confirmed but Missouri junior OLB Nick Bolton, a SEC defensive player of the year candidate who is currently rated as the #63 overall player on the GBN Top 100, is listed by the school as one of the 18 players to be honored on the school’s senior day this Saturday, prior to the game against Arkansas. Bolton, who is listed at 6-0, 232, is averaging almost 11 tackles per game for the Tigers. And it could be a two-fer for Missouri as junior LS Drew Wise, one of the top long-snappers in college football, is also going to be honored during the school’s senior day this weekend.

Another trio added to Senior Bowl … The Senior Bowl announced the addition of three more players to this year’s roster including Washington CB Elijah Molden and DEs Jonathon Cooper of Ohio State and Houston’s Payton Turner.

Steelers win completes week; selection order updated … They finally got that Ravens-Steelers game in the books this afternoon with Pittsburgh remaining perfect with a surprisingly tight 19-14 win over a short-handed Baltimore side that had to play without star QB Lamar Jackson among others. The rare Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh finally completes arguably the most disrupted week of the year in the NFL. It also leaves the selection order for the first round of the 2021 draft pretty much unchanged from what was posted. For the record, though, here is the full, updated 1st round selection order were the 2021 draft held this week.

Pigskin’s weekly prospects review … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has posted the latest edition of his weekly college football prospects report featuring games from last weekend. Here is the full report.

Ravens-Steelers still on this afternoon … Despite a couple of more positive tests in Baltimore, today’s on-again, off-again game between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers is still on. Note, though, that the kick-off is set for 3:40 PM ET this afternoon with coverage on NBC. Also note that we will be updating the weekly opening round selection order for the 2021 draft after this afternoon’s game, although because the team’s are in the same division, there won’t be many changes from the current order.

More players opting out … With the college season winding down, five more players from team’s no longer in contention for the national playoffs have announced they are opting out of the remainder of the season and declaring for the draft including Texas safety Caden Sterns, Central Florida WR Marlon Williams, Kentucky CB Kelvin Joseph, Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd and WR Jeremiah Haydel of Texas State. Of the five, Sterns is the highest rated; indeed, he’s a legitimate second day candidate who is currently the #83 overall player in the GBN Top 100.
Two Buckeyes headline latest Senior Bowl additions … The Senior Bowl has confirmed that four more players have accepted invitations to this year’s game including veteran ILB Tuf Borland and RB Trey Sermon of Ohio State, along with Washington CB Keith Taylor and Southern Methodist TE/FB Kylen Granson.

Weekly selection order updated … There is still one more game to be played this week when Baltimore and Pittsburgh play on Wednesday, but for now here is the updated opening round selection order for the 2021 draft were it to be held this week.

OK State OT opts out … Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins, a second-day prospect for the 2021 draft, has formally opted out of the current season and will be entering the upcoming draft. The 6-6, 320-pound Jenkins, who is currently rated as the #9 OT on the GBN positional ranking and the 75th top prospect overall on the Big Board, has already accepted an invitation to play in this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile at the end of January.

Update to Ravens-Steelers pushed back another day … The on-again, off-again game between division-rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh has been moved again and is now scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with kick-off at 3:40 PM ET. The game was originally scheduled to be played last Thursday as the night-cap to the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day triple-header, but it was first postponed to Sunday, and then to Tuesday because of a covid outbreak among the Ravens. Apparently, the league pushed the game back to Wednesday, at least in part, because the Ravens’ players were threatening a wildcat strike if they were forced to play without being able to practice. For the record, 22 Ravens’ players have tested positive or were identified as a high-risk close contact in the past ten days. In addition, Pittsburgh’s game with Washington, which had originally been scheduled for this coming Sunday, has been pushed back to Monday afternoon at 5 PM ET. Baltimore’s game for this weekend had previously been moved back to Monday; it will also KO at 5 PM ET.  At the same time, Baltimore’s game with Dallas, which was originally scheduled for this Thursday, but then was pushed back to Monday, will now be played next Tuesday with KO set for 8 PM ET.

Rising Hoosier QB out for year with torn ACL … Indiana QB Michael Penix, one of the emerging stars of the 2020 college season, unfortunately will miss the rest of the year after suffering a torn ACL in Saturday’s win against Maryland. Its the second time Penix has has torn the ACL in that knee as he suffered the same injury as a true freshman in 2018 and ended up redshirting that season. Penix had started to generate a little late round buzz this season, but the injury, and the lengthy rehabilitation required, likely means he won’t be entering this year’s draft.

NFL announces Xmas sked updates … The NFL revealed this morning the three games that will be played on Saturday, December 26th. Tampa Bay will be in Detroit to start that day with a 1 PM ET kick-off, followed by San Francisco at Arizona at 4:30 PM and Miami in Las Vegas at 8:15 PM ET. There is no Thursday night game that week on what will be Christmas Eve, but there is a late afternoon game on Christmas Day itself when Minnesota plays in New Orleans at 4:30 PM ET. Of course, all that presumes that the season remains intact from the covid virus which has made a bit of a mess of things this weekend. For the record, though, the rescheduled game between Baltimore and Pittsburgh for tomorrow evening is still reportedly on, although its still not clear who will actually be available to suit up for the Ravens who are in the midst of one of the league’s worst outbreaks for any team so far this year.

Four more college opt outs … With the college season winding down, more players from teams that are essentially out of contention for the playoff are choosing to opt out and get a head start on preparations for the 2021 draft. Indeed, four more players confirmed this weekend that they are opting out of the season and will begin preparing for the upcoming draft including Texas OT Sam Cosmi, LSU WR Terrace Marshall, Florida State CB Asante Samuel and Wisconsin CB Rachad Wildgoose. The first three are pretty prominent prospects for 2021 and figure to be either late first or early second round picks, if they don’t go higher, while the Badgers’ Wildgoose is more of a third-day type.

Jags fire GM Caldwell … Jacksonville became the second team to fire its general manager this weekend when the Jaguars cut ties with G.M David Caldwell after the team’s 27-25 loss to Cleveland that dropped their record to 1-10 this fall. Caldwell has been in the job since 2013, but the Jaguars have a 39-87 record in his tenure, including this year’s mark which has left the Jaguars in prime position to get one of the top QBs in this year’s QB rich draft class. Earlier in the week, Detroit fired both G.M. Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia.

As easy as 1-2-3 … The top three picks in the opening round selection order for the 2021 draft will remain unchanged for at least another week as the NY Jets, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati, who had picks 1 through 3 coming into the week, all lost this afternoon, although neither of the Jags nor Bengals went down easily. Jacksonville gave Cleveland all they could handle before losing 27-25. Same margin for the Joe Burrow-less Bengals who were badly outplayed all afternoon against the Giants, but somehow managed to hang around for 59 minutes and actually had the ball at midfield with a chance to move into position to attempt a game winning FG before a sack fumble ended their hopes this week. At the same time, the Jets led very early against Miami, but that was about it as they remain winless as a result of a 20-3 home loss. As a result, if the draft were held this week, the Jets would pick first, followed by the Jaguars and the Bengals. We also know that Dallas and the LA Chargers will have the 4th and 5th picks at the end of this weekend’s action; however, the rest of the top ten won’t be determined until after tomorrow night’s game between Philadelphia and Seattle.

Saints lose pick for maskless celebration … The New Orleans Saints have been forced to forfeit a 7th-round pick at the 2021 draft because they didn’t wear masks during their postgame celebrations after beating Tampa Bay earlier this month. The Saints are the second team to lose a pick for breaking covid protocols. Earlier this year, Las Vegas was forced to give up a 6th rounder.

Will Jets, Jags continue chase to #1 Sunday … That actually appears to be the question for the NFL at this hour as the league is buzzing with rumors that Sunday’s entire schedule could be cancelled or postponed. Among the problems the league is dealing with with less than 15 hours until the first games kick-off: more Baltimore players keep testing positive putting Tuesday’s rescheduled game with Pittsburgh in further jeopardy; in fact, the Steelers also reportedly now have at least one positive test; meanwhile, as reportedly the entire Denver QB room has been ruled unavailable for Sunday’s game with New Orleans. They could still play that game, but forcing the Broncos to play without a QB would kind of make a mockery of the whole competitive aspect of the sport. Meanwhile, on the far coast, San Francisco suddenly finds itself homeless after the County banned all contact sports for the next three weeks because of a spike in covid cases. For the record, the 49ers have a couple of home games scheduled for the next three weeks meaning they’ll have to find an alternate site. As well, the NFL had already ordered all team facilities closed on Monday and Tuesday in the wake of the Thanksgiving Day weekend. We’ll see. If the league does opt to ahead Sunday, the NY Jets and Jacksonville will continue their race to the #1 pick at the 2021 draft and the chance to select Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. The Jets are scheduled to host Miami tomorrow against the resurgent Dolphins, while the Jaguars will be home to Cleveland. Meanwhile, the wacky NFC East has another one of those games in which a team – in this case the Giants – could take over the division lead with a win in Cincinnati, but would end the week sitting on the 4th pick overall with a loss to the Bengals who currently sit 3rd in the ‘if the draft were held this week’ selection order for the opening round of the upcoming draft.

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