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

Steelers confirm new G.M. hire … Pittsburgh confirmed earlier today that long-time team exec Omar Khan has been named the team’s new G.M. Khan, who has been with the Steelers since 2001, replaces Kevin Colbert who announced that he’d be stepping aside following the draft after a successful two-decade run in the job. Khan has been the Steelers’ V.P. of football and business administration since 2016 where his primary responsibilities involved contract negotiations and managing the salary cap. At the same time, the Steelers are also expected to sign Philadelphia personnel executive Andy Weidl as assistant G.M. under Khan. Weidl has extensive scouting experience and will likely take a major role in that area with Pittsburgh.

Combine to stick with Indy next two cycles … The NFL just confirmed that the annual scouting combine will remain in Indianapolis for at least the next two drafts. There has been speculation that the league was interested in moving the combine around the country as they now do with the draft itself and turning it into another spectacle. However, the teams themselves reportedly overwhelming like Indianapolis as the site because its facilities are all really convenient for the players and coaches. The 2023 combine is scheduled to run from Tuesday, February 28th thru Monday March 6th.

Heads up for Packer fans … Just a quick note to Green Bay Packer fans that veteran sportscasters Tom Pipanes and John Dodds will be hosting a weekly TV show focusing on all things Packers on Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM CT on WVTV (Channel 24.). In fact, John and I go way back as I did my very first GBN radio interview with his on ‘Dodds on Sports’ in Milwaukee back in the spring of 1999. You can do the math! And yes I do believe I was or will be their first guest on the new program. We wish them good luck going forward!

QBs still hot for 2023 … With the 2023 draft now just under 340 days away we have started working of watch list for the upcoming draft. And we just finished the initial draft of the QB list. Of course, a lot can change between now and next April, but the early sense we have is that this is indeed a really deep talented position starting with Bryce Young of Alabama and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, both of whom are currently considered to be among  the top 2-3 prospects for next year’s draft. But they are just the tip of the iceberg with Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke, while Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec, Tanner McKee of Stanford, Will Rogers of Mississippi State, Will Levis of Kentucky, Spencer Rattler, now of South Carolina, who was the consensus #1 prospect for the 2022 draft at this time last year, Jaren Hall of BYU, Clemson’s CJ Uiagalelei, Kedon Slovis, now at Pittsburgh, JT Daniels, now at West Virginia, Grayson McCall of Coastal Carolina, Cameron Ward, now at Washington State, and NC State’s Devin Leary all have at least some top 100 potential. and we could actually go on as there are any number of other good college QBs out there which, if nothing else, should set up a really fascinating year in college football. For now, though, here is a preliminary look at the QBs who are currently on our watch list for next year’s draft.

Star Pitt WR confirms USC transfer … In many it was college football’s proverbial other shoe as teams around the country waited for Pittsburgh WR Jordan Addison, last year’s Biletnikoff winner, to confirm that he was indeed transferring to Southern California. Addison, who caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, as Kenny Pickett’s go-to receiver, surprisingly announced earlier this month that he was entering the transfer portal with every indication that he was going to USC, although Texas was reportedly in the mix. The wait is over as Addison, a top 10-15 prospect for next year’s draft, confirmed today that he is on his way to LA to join the Trojans.

PAC-12 first to scrap division winners in conference championship … The PAC-12 became the first college football conference to change its conference championship game criteria after the NCAA voted recently to end the requirement that division winners meet in the respective league title games. The PAC-12 will retain its divisional breakdown for scheduling purposes for the upcoming season, but the league’s title game will be between the two teams with the highest conference winning percentages regardless of division. The PAC-12 will then re-evaluate its divisional structure for the 2023 season. Same for the ACC which is considering a 3-5-5 schedule breakdown for the future in which every team will play three opponents every year, to keep traditional rivalries alive, but will play the other ten teams once every second year. In fact, the divisional winner model was one of our pet peeves when it came to college football, in that was very possible that a conference championship game could very easily involve the best team in league going against a team that might have only been the 4th or 5th best team because of geography.

Pats release Canes UDFA QB … New England’s hopes of finding a position for former Miami QB D’Eriq King, one of the more interesting undrafted rookie free agent signings this year, ended quietly last night when he was released by the Patriots. The Patriots had signed King, who is only about 5-8, following the draft hoping that they could find a spot for him at either RB or WR, but it obviously didn’t work out. Of course, King could always still end up on someone’s practice squad later this summer, although it will also be interesting to see if receives any interest from the CFL whose training camps are in the process of opening after the league and its players agreed on a new CBA earlier this week.

Pigskin’s updated power rankings: second tier … With the 2022 draft, as well as the better part of free agency, now in the books, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has been updating his NFL power rankings. And after Pigskin posted the bottom of the board last week, he’s added the next tier of teams ranked 1th thru 13th starting with Miami and ending with Denver. Here are the full rankings for the teams ranked 13th thru 32nd with the rest to come soon.

Jags sign 49er exec Waugh as assistant GM … Jacksonville has reportedly hired long-time NFL exce Ethan Waugh as the team’s new assistant G.M. Waugh had spent the previous 17 years working as San Francisco’s VP of player personnel. With the Jags, Waugh will be reunited with Jacksonville G.M. Trent Baalke with whom he worked for 12 of those seasons with the 49ers.

Three more first rounders sign … The number of players selected in the opening round of the 2022 draft still to be signed continues to dwindle as three more came to terms today including former Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson whom the NY Jets selected with the 10th pick overall, former Penn State WR Jahan Dotson, chosen 16th overall by Washington and former Michigan FS Dax Hill who was the 31st player chosen this year by Cincinnati. Interesting to note all three are former Big Ten players. Today’s signings bring the number of this year’s first round picks to have come to terms to 26 leaving just 6 unsigned.

Two more first round picks sign … A couple of more first round picks from the 2022 draft came to terms with their respective clubs today as former Arkansas WR Treylon Burks, the 18th player selected this year, signed with Tennessee, while former Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson, the 26th pick overall, agreed to terms with the NY Jets. The Titans acquired the 18th pick used to select Burks in a draft day trade with Philadelphia for veteran WR A.J. Brown. Ironically, the Jets were able to take Johnson, who had been considered a possible top ten pick this year, after acquiring the 26th pick in a deal with the Titans.

Cowboys, Colts lead ‘8th round’ ranking … For the record, all 32 teams have now announced their undrafted rookie free agent signings. And based on our unofficial, thoroughly unscientific scoring system, Dallas and Indianapolis have potentially the most impactful UDFA signing classes. For the record, we gave 3 points for a player rated in the the top 30 on our listing of the top players left on the GBN Big Board following the draft, 2 points for players rated 31 to 80 and 1 point each for the remaining 100 or so prospects. Based on that Dallas and the Colts both had 19 points, followed by Philadelphia with 17, Jacksonville, New Orleans and Baltimore with 14 each, Tennessee with 13 and the NY Giants with 12. Dallas and Indianapolis also signed the most players overall from the updated Big Board with 11 and 10 respectively, while Baltimore had 9 and Philadelphia, Tennessee and Jacksonville 8 each. The Eagles, though, were one of just three teams which signed 3 top 30 prospects along with New Orleans and the Giants. In fact, the Eagles, who were generally considered to have one of, if not THE best draft this year, were able to sign two of the top three guys left on the GBN Big Board after the draft in former Nevada QB Carson Strong and Alabama CB Josh Jobe. In the end, all but one team – Arizona – signed at least one player off the list. Here is the full scoreboard.

Texans sign1st round G/T Green … Houston has reportedly agreed to terms with former Texas A&M G/T Kenyon Green, the 15th player selected at the 2022 draft. Green signed a four-year, $15.9M deal that is fully guaranteed. Green was the second #1 pick the Texans had this year following CB Derek Stingley who was taken with the 3rd pick and signed earlier this month.

Giants sign top picks … Tom Pelissaro of the NFL Network is reporting that the NY Giants have agreed to terms with both DE Kayvon Thibodeaux and OT Evan Neal, the 5th and 7th players selected at the 2022 draft respectively. The deals are expected to be formally announced after the team’s minicamp workout this afternoon. With the signings, it means that the first 8 players selected in this year’s opening round have now all been signed; indeed, 20 of the 32 first round picks have already come to terms.

Have arm will travel; young QB on the move again … QB Grant Gunnell has confirmed that he is transferring to North Texas. Gunnell was originally a 4-star Arizona recruit out of the Houston area in 2019, but transferred to Memphis after two seasons in the PAC-12. Gunnell, though, didn’t play at all last year after undergoing surgery on a leg. Gunnell, at 6-6, 230, is a prototype pocket passer with a strong arm who actually put up some decent numbers at Arizona (67% completion rate and 15 TDs against just three picks) and has three years of eligibility remaining.

Falcons/Raiders swap late round picks in deal for vet WR … Atlanta has acquired veteran WR Bryan Edwards, a third-round pick in 2020, from Las Vegas for a 5th round pick at the next draft. To complete the deal, the Falcons also get a 7th round pick from the Raiders. In his two seasons with the Raiders, including 15 starts, Edwards had 45 catches for 764 yards (17 yards per) and 4 TDs.

Flurry of first-round signings … There was a flurry of signings around the NFL which included five more players selected in the opening round of the 2022 draft coming to terms with their respective clubs. The five include CBs Derek Stingley, whom Houston took with the 3rd pick overall, and Kaiir Elam, the 23rd player selected by Buffalo, G/T Tyler Smith who was taken one pick after Elam, as well as WR Chris Olave and Trevor Penning who were selected with the 11th and 19th picks respectively by New Orleans. For the record, all signed standard 4-year deals with a club-option for a 5th. Stingley’s deal is reportedly worth $34.6M with a $22.4 signing bonus; Olave gets $19.3M; Penning $14.1M with a $7.5M signing bonus; and $13.8M for Smith, while terms for Elam were not announced. However, along with Elam, Buffalo signed all its 2022 draft picks, the first team to do so this year.

Jags, Lions ink 2nd #1s … Both Jacksonville and Detroit announced overnight that they had come to terms with the second of their two first round picks at the 2022 draft. The Jags signed former Utah LB Devin Lloyd, the 27th player selected in last month’s opening round, to a fully guaranteed $13M contract. Meanwhile, the Lions came to terms with former Alabama All-America WR Jameson Williams, who they acquired with this year’s 12th pick overall after trading up with division rival Minnesota. Williams reportedly agreed to a deal worth $17.5M. Jacksonville and Detroit also had the first and second picks overall at this year’s draft where they selected DEs Travon Walker of Georgia and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson respectively with both signing earlier this week.

Pigskin’s updated power rankings … With the 2022 draft in the books, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has updated his NFL power rankings. and if Pigskin is anywhere near close, it looks like Houston, Atlanta, Seattle and Detroit could very well be in position to grab one of the 2023 drafts premier QB prospects, as they are all in the bottom 5 grouping along with Chicago. Here are the full rankings for the bottom third of the league, the teams that are most likely to be picking early at next April’s draft.

Falcons sign top pick … Atlanta has reportedly agreed to terms with former USC WR Drake London, the 8th player selected at the 2022 draft. London reportedly has agreed to a fully guaranteed 4-year deal in the $24.6M range. The London signing makes it 5 of this year’s top ten picks to have signed already along with DEs Travon Walker (#1 to Jacksonville) and Aidan Hutchinson (#2 to Detroit), CB Sauce Gardner (#4 to the Jets) and OT Ickey Ekwonu (#6 to Carolina).

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