NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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‘Phins, No-names sign top picks … A couple more players selected in the opening round of he 2021 draft signed today including former Alabama WR jaylen Waddle who was chosen by Miami with the 6th overall pick late last month, and former Kentucky LB Jamin Davis, who was selected with the 19th pick by Washington. In fact, the still sort of nameless Washington team also announced that they had signed their entire draft class, the first to do this year. For the record, Davis signed a standard 4-year deal with a team option for a 5th year valued at $13.8 million. Waddle also signed a 4-year deal with a club option but terms were not released.

Titans sign top pick Farley … Tennessee has reportedly come to terms with former Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley, the Titans’ first round pick this year, on a four-year rookie contract worth $13.5M. Farley had been projected as a top ten prospect prior to the draft, but he ended up being selected with the 22nd pick overall after his stock took a bit of a hit when he underwent back surgery in March which forced him to miss his pro day. Farley is the second opening round pick to sign today after WR Rashod Bateman came to terms with Baltimore earlier today; he’s also the third overall to have signed so far.

Ravens second to sign top pick; three others … Baltimore became the second team to sign a player taken in the opening round of the 2021 draft as the Ravens have reportedly agreed to terms with former Minnesota WR Rashod Batemen on a 4Y, $12.6M deal. Bateman with the 27th player selected in this year’s opening round. He is also one of four Baltimore picks to sign today joining CB Shaun Wade, DE Daelin Hayes and TE?FB Ben Mason on the dotted line. For the record, all three were 5th round picks this year. Meanwhile, New England signed a couple of late round selections including OT William Sherman, a 6th rounder, and CB Tre Nixon, who was the Patriots’ 7th rounder.

Chiefs get Vikes vet CB for late-round swap … Kansas City has acquired veteran CB Mike Hughes from Minnesota in a deal in which the teams will swap 6th and 7th round picks at the 2022 draft. Hughes was the Vikings’ first-round pick in 2018, but they declined their 5th year year option meaning he’ll be a free agent next spring if he isn’t resigned by the Chiefs.

Pigskin punks the Packers’ picks … Ever wonder what an ‘elder statesman’ of the draft community looks and sounds like? Here’s our own Pigskin Paul Guillemette. a longtime former Wisconsin resident, talking the Green Bay Packers draft with Brian Bosarge of the Deep-fried Draft. Kind of a must-see for Packers fans, but there are also some draft-related nuggets in there for fans of every team.

Schedule to be released tonight … About a month later than usual. the 2021 regular season NFL schedule will be released this evening beginning at 8 PM ET on the NFL Network. However, the NFL has teased the formal announcement by releasing the opening weekend slate of games early. And the season does kick-off with a tasty morsel with the defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting Dallas at 9 PM ET on Thursday, September 9th. There will also be several feature games on the first full Sunday of the schedule on September 12th – for the record four months today to the day – including a couple of key early season AFC games with Pittsburgh playing at Buffalo and Cleveland at Kansas City. There is also what would normally be a fascinating NFC tilt with Green Bay scheduled to play at New Orleans featuring a shoot-out between QBs Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. However, Brees has alraedy retired, while Rodgers is in a standoff with the Packers as to whether he’ll return this fall. Meanwhile, other games of note include Jacksonville at Houston where presumably Jags’ QB Trevor Lawrence, the first player selected at last month’s draft, will make his pro debut. At the same time, former NY Jets QB Sam Darnold, who was traded to Carolina prior to the draft, will make his debut with the Panthers against – you guessed it – the Jets, proving at least that the schedule maker has a sense of the ironic! On the other hand, Detroit and the LA Rams which swapped QBs Matt Stafford and Jared Goff this off-season DO NOT face each other on the opening weekend. The Lions will be hosting San Francisco, while the Rams will entertain Chicago in the Sunday night game. Meanwhile, the opening week’s remaining games include Seattle at Indianapolis, the LA Chargers at Washington, Arizona at Tennessee, Philadelphia at Atlanta, Minnesota at Cincinnati, Miami at New England, Denver at the NY Giants, and Baltimore playing at Las Vegas in the first Monday nighter of the year.

Early look at who’s picking when at the 2022 draft … For the record, the 2022 draft is just 354 days away and there is an awful lot that is going to change between now and April 28th next spring. However, we have been able to put together a preliminary, and of course, very unofficial early listing of picks by team. The X’s represent regular picks as well as minority hiring comp picks and reflect trades in the future traded picks file, which is also very unofficial and will need to be confirmed. Meanwhile, the NFL won’t officially announce the other compensatory picks until next spring, but both Lance Zeirlein of the NFL Network and Over the Cap have put together projections of which teams will get comp picks when for next year’s draft. And given that there are only three minor variations between the two sources will go with a synthesis for the comp picks.

Again, a lot can change between now and next April, but for now the teams that appear to be best situated to do some damage, at least early at next year’s draft, are Detroit, Philadelphia and both New York teams, each of which has 5 picks within the first three rounds, while Baltimore, New Orleans and Pittsburgh have 4 each. The Lions and Jets are also tied for the lead among teams with the total number of picks next April with 11, along with the LA Rams and LA Chargers, while Baltimore will be the busiest team through the first 4 rounds with a projected total of 8 picks in those rounds including 4 in the 4th.

Of course, it goes without saying that if anyone is aware of any corrections or updates that need to be made please let us know and we’ll make the revisions. ed

Follow-up Pigskin draft comments … The 2021 draft is still very much fresh in our minds here and GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has weighed in with some post-draft comments on the winners and losers from this year’s draft plus other observations.

Jets sign late round half dozen … The NY Jets have signed six players selected at this year’s round including 5th round DBs Jamien Sherwood, Michael Carter and Jason Pinnock and 6th rounders DB Hamsah Nasirildeen, CB Brandon Echols and DT Jonathan Marshall.

Colts first to sign top pick … That didn’t take long as Indianapolis became the first team to sign it’s 2021 first-round pick by signing DE Kwity Paye to a 4Y, $13.6M deal with the standard club option for a fifth season. Paye was the 21st overall pick in last week’s opening round. In fact, the Colts actually came to term with the bulk of their 2021 picks as they also signed 2nd-round DE Dayo Odeyingbo, 5th-round safety Shawn Davis, along with WR Mike Strachan and OG Will Fries, both of whom were selected in the 7th round. However, the first rookie draft picks to sign were RB Chuba Hubbard, the Canadian RB selected in the 4th round by Carolina, and NY Jets safety Jamien Sherwood, a 5th round pick this year.

Profile of 2022 QBs … NFL teams that didn’t get a QB early in this year’s draft and/or will be looking for one next year can take heart from the fact that it appears there will be a deep QB class for the 2022 draft, although it may not quite as talented as this year’s group. Certainly, it does not appear, though, as if there currently is a sure-fire #1 ‘can’t miss’ type prospect like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence who went first overall at last weekend’s draft to Jacksonville. However, there will be some really good prospects at the position in 2022 including Sam Howell of North Carolina, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler andUSC’s Kedon Slovis. For those that haven’t seen it, ESPN has a nice rundown of next year’s potential QB prospects here.

Jags, Giants fire personnel staff … Personnel people staff around the NFL generally work on a May-to-May contract cycle and with the draft in the books is when teams are most likely to adjust those staffs. Jacksonville, which continues to re-organize under new head coach Urban Meyer, for example, has fired four senior members of their scouting staff including Director of Pro Personnel Chris Driggers, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Dengler, Director of College Scouting Mark Ellenz and Assistant Director of College Scouting Paul Roell. Driggers in fact was was one of just six remaining original employees of the Jaguars from when the franchise was granted expansion in 1994. Meanwhile, the Giants have reportedly fired southwest regional scout Chris Watts, who had been with the team since 2005. Again, no word to date on a replacement.

Retired Clemson DE to return … Some good news for the Clemson football program as DE Justin Foster, who had earlier announced that he was retiring from the game because of health complications related to covid and asthma, has gotten a second opinion and will be back for the upcoming season. The 6-2, 265-pound Foster had 4.5 sacks and 6 other tackles for loss in 2019, and if healthy, figures to be a late third day or premium free agent prospect.

Ti-Cats open CFL draft taking former BC TE Burt … Hamilton got the 2021 CFL draft of Canadian players started this evening selecting former Boston College TE Jake Burt with the #1 pick overall. It was a bit of a surprise pick as Burt was only recently added to the CFL draft eligibility list after spending the 2020 season on New England’s practice squad with whom he signed as an NFL undrafted free agent last year. Saskatchewan the stayed close to home with the 2nd pick selecting University of Saskatchewan DB Nelson Lokombo with the 2nd pick, while Winnipeg took Maine C/G Liam Dobson with the 3rd. Here is the updated list of CFL picks.

CFL draft on tap … As it does every year, the Canadian Football League will holds its annual draft of Canadian-born players the week after the NFL draft. The CFL draft gets underway at 7 PM ET on Tuesday with 6 rounds scheduled. Because the CFL did not play at all in 2020, the selection order for this year’s draft was random with Hamilton lucking out with the first pick, followed by Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. Then after teams pick in the first round they will reverse order in the second and subsequent rounds. Here is the full selection order for this year’s CFL draft. Tennessee WR Josh Palmer is the top-rated prospect for this year’s CFL draft, but don’t expect him to be selected anytime soon after he was taken by the LA Chargers in the third round of this weekend’s NFL draft. In fact, the top 7 players on the CFL’s final draft rankings were all either selected at this weekend’s NFL draft or have signed somewhere as a free agent and aren’t going to be available to CFL teams for awhile. As a result, expect most CFL teams to focus more on lower ranked players who they know will be available for the opening of CFL training camps later this summer. For the record, the CFL has tentatively scheduled the opening of their season – hopefully – for the first week in August.

A few random leftover draft thoughts/observations … We still have a bunch of random thoughts running through our head from the weekend’s draft including a great draft for Canadians; our ‘fav’ picks from each round; the Mahomes effect on the draft!; plus our pick for THE most interesting pick of the week; and more all here.

Irish LB JOK dropped because of heart issue … Hands up everyone who had Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah going after Irish OG Aaron Banks in their 2021 draft pool. Didn’t think so! Owusu-Koramoah had been one of the rising stars of this year’s draft with analysts talking about him as a possible top 15 pick, but he lasted deep into the second round where he was selected by Cleveland with the 52nd pick overall. Turns out, Owusu-Koramoah had been reported to have a heart issue very late in the process and while he was ultimately fully cleared medically teams clearly were spooked by the report. In fact, Owusu-Koramoah was actually only the third former Notre Dame player selected this weekend after OT Liam Eichenberg went 42nd overall to Miami, while the aforementioned Banks was taken with the 48th pick by San Francisco.

Titans 4th rounder charged with assault … Former Pittsburgh DE Rashad Weaver, a 4th-round pick by Tennessee at last weekend’s draft, has been charged with one count of simple assault in connection with an incident on April 18th. Weaver is alleged to have punched a woman with whom had had some kind of altercation with at a local bar. Interestingly, today is the day that the NFLPA met virtually with all of this year’s drafted players to discuss some of the issues they would face now that they were in the pros. And almost assuredly one item near to the top of the agenda was to reaffirm that seldom does anything good come from hanging out at bars at 2:30 in the morning. Weaver could face some supplemental disciplinary action from the league, but likely not until the legal process has played itself out.

8th round off and running … As noted at the end of the draft on Saturday, there won’t be any rest right away for bleary-eyed NFL personnel who are as we speak trying to sign their undrafted rookie classes. And while it will be a few days until teams start formally announcing their UDFA rookie signing classes, some names have leaked out either from the players or their agents themselves or from the teams. For example, former Alabama LB Dylan Moses, the top-rated player left on the updated GBN Big Board when the draft ended, has reportedly agreed to terms with Jacksonville where he’ll get a chance to play early in his pro career. Meanwhile, some other notable undrafted free agent signings include former Georgia/Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman who signed with Philadelphia, WR Sage Surratt and C Drake Jackson who signed with Detroit, QB Feleipe Franks and RB Javian Hawkins who signed with Arizona, ER Charles Snowden who signed with Chicago, safety Trill Williams who signed with New Orleans, and LB Paddy Fisher who signed with Carolina. The most intriguing UDFA signing, though, may have been former Florida State DT Marvin Wilson who signed with Cleveland and reportedly got something like close to $200,000 in guaranteed money, which is almost unheard of for a undrafted rookie.

Shoudda, coudda stayed in school … No surprise here that the early part of the 2021 draft was dominated by underclassmen. Indeed, the first 9 players selected this year were either juniors or redshirt sophomores as were 9 of the first 10 players selected and 13 of the first 15. In fact, 23 of this year’s 32 players selected in the opening round were underclassmen.

However, it wasn’t all peaches and cream for underclassmen who did declare for the draft as close to 30 of the 130 or so juniors and redshirt sophs who did declare weren’t selected at all. And that number included several who were actually expected to be reasonably early picks including Alabama MLB Dylan Moses, Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt, Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson, Pittsburgh S Paris Ford, OTs Adrian Ealy of Oklahoma and Stanford’s Forest Sarell, Louiville RB Javian Hawkins, TCU CB Ar’darius Washington, Syracuse S Trill Williams and Florida State WR Tamorrion Terry. At the same time, a number of other underclassmen were selected much later than expected when they declared including OG Wyatt Davis and CB Shaun Wade of Ohio State, Iowa DT Daviyon Nixon, Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard, Auburn WR Seth Williams and Stanford CB Paulson Adebo.

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