NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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Raiders send scouts home for draft period … A bit of a bizarre story out of Oakland by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com who is reporting that the Raiders have sent their entire scouting staff home for the long weekend and don’t expect them back until after the draft. According to the report Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and first-year G.M. Mike Mayock “don’t know who to trust” among the scouts. It makes a little bit of sense in that most of the Raiders’ personnel staff are holdovers from the previous administration, but it also means that Gruden and Mayock will be flying a little blind when the draft starts next week. Presumably, the Raiders board is set for the draft which gets underway in just 6 days, but one would assume that area and regional scouts are likely to be more familiar with some of the specifics related to many prospects, especially those still on the board into the later rounds. And its  a crucial draft for the rebuilding Raiders who hold the 4th, 24th, 27th and 35th picks in this year’s lottery.

Pigskin mocks Browns draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one today for Cleveland Browns who for the first time in what seems like just about everybody’s living memory don’t have the first pick overall. In fact, not even close! Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

Cardinals claim to be still mulling top pick … If we are a week or so from the draft, it must be time for NFL G.M.s and head coaches to meet with their local medias for the expressed purpose of saying as little as possible about their actual draft plans. So Arizona G.M. Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury pretty much stuck to the script yesterday in their pre-draft presser when they claimed that the Cardinals still haven’t decided what they will do with the #1 pick overall in next week’s draft. According to Keim: “We are not done with this process. We have not made a decision on the first overall pick. Secondly, there are a number of players in my opinion and our scouts’ opinion and our coaching staff’s opinion that warrant being the first overall selection.” Of course, just about everyone with a heartbeat in the NFL expects the Cardinals to select former Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray when they get on the clock with the first pick overall next Thursday evening and that the current hesitation is designed to try and inflate the market for a possible trade for QB Josh Rosen whom Arizona selected with a top ten pick last year. Indeed, the Cardinals still appear to be aggressively trying to find a trade partner for Rosen, while there have been some rumors that they have already entered into contract negotiations with Murray. At the same time, though, the article hints that just maybe that there are some lingering concerns in the Cardinals’ organization about Murray’s commitment to football given the fact that he was a first-round pick in MLB’s amateur draft last year. In the end, we may not know for sure until around 8:15 PM ET on April 25th. Stay tuned!

Pigskin mocks Washington draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one today for Washington. Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

Short-list projection … Long-time GBN readers will know that we aren’t always all that keen on mock drafts. They are fun to do and, used properly, can provide a little bit of useful information. The one thing that no mock, no matter how thoughtfully done, is going to tell folks is which particular player a particular team is going to select. And unfortunately, that’s how most people read them. The other problem with mocks, especially so close to the draft, is that just about every draft is impacted by trades, which are even harder to predict. So we tend to shy away from projections this close to the draft. However, given that there is almost no buzz about any current trades, we did put together a first-round projection with the added feature that we also included, as best as we could tell, the other players that each respective team might have on their short-list when they get on the board. Note, though, that we only included players who have yet to be selected on the short list.

Pigskin mocks Eagles draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one today for the always interesting Philadelphia Eagles. Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

No news is well no news … Arguably, the prime determinant of how the early going at the 2019 draft evolves will be whether any teams trade up into the top 5 to select a QB. Of course, its pretty much a given that Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray is going first overall to either Arizona or someone like Oakland in a trade. The question is whether any of the QB needy teams out there such as the Giants, Denver, Miami, or Washington, or even someone like Cincinnati tries to leapfrog each other to get a Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock. In fact, its long been our assumption that somebody was going to make such a move, if for no other reason that that’s pretty much what happens at the draft. Indeed, in the past 10 years, almost half – 13 of the 30 – players taken with top 3 picks have been QBs. What hasn’t followed the pattern, though, is that normally by this time, even if no trades have actually been consummated, is that there at least rumblings about potential partners and deals. In contrast, this year, as we have been noting its dead out there!  Which means either teams are covering their tracks really well or there really isn’t much going on. And we are starting to think that there is nothing going on because there is nothing going on. Stay tuned!!

 

Thanks for asking … The All-Ontario Peewee AAA Hockey championships wound up last night with Mississauga winning the title when the Senators scored twice in the final 30 seconds for a 4-2 win over Brantford. Grandson Zach’s team won the third place medal with a 4-2 win over Markham. However, it was sort of a bittersweet end to what was an incredible week – the boys played 8 games in 5 days with 6 ending with an empty-net situation – after they lost a heart-breaking 4-3 decision to Brantford in their semi-final in a game in which they didn’t feel they had necessarily played their best. So Gramps can finally exhale and get back to football, while the kids can go back to being 12-year-olds for a few weeks before they start preparing for next year’s tryouts which are just 130 days away!!

Pigskin mocks Broncos draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one today for the Denver Broncos, one of the potentially pivotal teams in this year’s draft. The Broncos are one of the teams believed to be most interested in getting a QB out of this draft and with the 10th pick overall, are close enough to be in a position to make a move up the board if the opportunity presents itself. Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

When draft guys get distracted … We apologize for any lapses in coverage this week, but we have been somewhat otherwise occupied the past few days. Grandson #1, a goalie with the Ottawa JR 67s, has been playing in the Ontario Provincial Peewee AAA hockey championships. We weren’t sure what to expect after the 67s were upset in their own league final – they qualified for the provincials as a wild card – but after losing their opener to the #1 ranked team they bounced back and won 4 straight to qualify for tomorrow’s playoff round. Very exciting stuff, but hard on the old guy’s nerves!!

Two weeks to go and counting … Hard to believe, but the 2019 draft gets underway just two weeks from today. Again, though, as we’ve noted there really isn’t much buzz about. The one real issue percolating these days is what’s up with Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins’ status. There are some rumblings that Haskins is slipping on boards across the league and may no longer even be the #2 QB taken later this month. At the same time, though, there are other sources that dispute the whole notion. In the end, its possible we won’t know for sure until the 25th. Meanwhile, for those that haven’t seen it yet, ESPN has an interesting piece out this morning detailing Haskins’ Ohio State teammate Nick Bosa’s decision to stop playing for the Buckeyes’ last fall.

Pigskin mocks Lions draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one for the Detroit Lions today. Of course, with the 8th pick overall, the Lions are in a position to be one of the key players at this month’s draft. Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

Guess who’s coming to dinner; who isn’t … Arizona reportedly hosted Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray as one of their 30 allotted on-site visits earlier today. Murray, of course, is widely considered to be the leading candidate to be the first player selected at this year’s draft by the Cardinals who also worked out Murray privately last month. The Cardinals did raise eyebrows earlier this month when they had Ohio State DE Nick Bosa and Alabama DT Quinnen Williams in for visits about the same time as Oakland was working out QBs Murray and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State. That generated some speculation that just maybe a trade might be in the works between the Cardinals and Raiders involving the 1st and 4th picks, but those rumblings have kind of dried up of late. At the same time, its a bit of a surprise that the NY Jets, which have the 3rd pick overall, will not have Bosa in for a pre-draft visit. That’s surprising because the Jets have a major need for a quality edge rusher; they also had 5 of the other top 6 defensive prospects in for visits, which should put to rest the speculation that the Jets won’t have Bosa in for a visit because they already know they’ll be trading the pick away. Stay tuned!

OU QB Murray heads lists of 24 heading to draft … The NFL has released a list of 23 players that will be in Nashville for this year’s draft. Not surprisingly, the list is led by Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, the consensus favorite to be the first player selected on April 25th. Murray will be one of three quarterbacks in attendance with Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones also scheduled to be in Nashville. Interesting that Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, who is generally considered to be the #2 QB behind Murray, will not be attending the draft. Meanwhile, almost all the top defensive prospects will also be in Nashville for the draft including Ohio State DE Nick Bosa, Alabama DT Quinnen Williams, Kentucky ER Josh Allen, Houston DT Ed Oliver, and LSU LB Devin White. Indeed, the only top defensive prospect not expected to be in Nashville later this month is Michigan DE Rashan Gary.

Clemson loses rising junior WR for year to ACL … National champion Clemson took a hit this week when rising junior WR/PR Amari Rodgers tore an ACL during spring practice will likely miss the 2019 season. The 5-10, 215-pound Rodgers, who is actually the son of former Tennessee QB Tee Martin, was second on the Tigers with 55 receptions last fall including 4 for scores, while he averaged 7.7 per on punt returns which included one taken to the house.

To QB or not to QB … To repeat a post from earlier in the week, with barely two and a half weeks to go until the actual 2019 draft gets underway, there really isn’t much buzz out there at all. The one thing that one kind of hears is that its possible that QBs Drew Lock of Missouri and, to a lesser extent, Duke’s Daniel Jones are on the rise. Lock, for example, appears to have closed the ground on Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, the #2 QB in this year’s class behind Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. Whether its enough that Lock would actually be selected ahead of Haskins likely won’t be known until the 25th, but at least it appears that it is not out the question. For his part, Lock appears to be this year’s version of Josh Allen, who was taken 7th overall last year by Buffalo. Lock is  still rough around the edges and has been dogged by inconsistency during his collegiate career, but he has a rare set of tools including arm strength and athleticism with which to work. at the same time, the buzz around the league is that Jones has solidified at least a mid-first round grade such that teams like Washington and the Giants who pick 15th and 17th respectively might actually have to move up a few spots if they were interested in acquiring his services later this month. Meanwhile, the fact that Arizona continues to vigorously shop Josh Rosen seems to indicate that the Cardinals are still locked into Murray with the top pick, while Washington has reportedly emerged as a potential landing spot for Rosen, although the Redskins almost certainly aren’t going to part with the 15th pick to get him.

Pigskin mocks Bucs draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today. Of course, with the 5th pick overall, the Buccaneer are in a position to be one of the key players at this month’s draft. Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

When the left hand doesn’t know … Why we love the pre-draft period! Back-to-back headlines from AZ  Central earlier today:

Josh Rosen trade report: Arizona Cardinals not actively shopping quarterback.

Josh Rosen trade rumors: Redskins emerge as favorite for Cardinals quarterback in trade.

Could curious moves by Cards and Raiders indicate top pick in play … There’s not a whole lot of buzz surrounding the 2019 draft with just three weeks to go until the first picks start coming off the board. However, there are some conflicting signals that something might be brewing between Arizona and Oakland regarding the 1st and 4th picks. On the one hand, the Cardinals who were believed to have been locked in on Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray for the #1 pick overall for some weeks now, had both Ohio State DE Nick Bosa and Alabama DT Quinnen Williams, the top two non-QB prospects in this year’s draft, in for on-site, pre-draft visits earlier today. That’s after a contingent of senior Arizona people met with Bosa in Miami earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Oakland held private workouts with Murray, as well as Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, this year’s top two QBs, earlier this week. At the same time, though, it appears that Arizona is still actively shopping – without much success to date – incumbent starting QB Josh Rosen, which would tend to suggest that Murray is still the Cardinals’ target. Of course, it could all be a lot of smoke and mirrors, but the fact is that neither team really gains very much if the strategy is to try and create some smoke for other purposes. It’s also certainly possible that Oakland head coach Jon Gruden, who it seems has never seen a QB he didn’t like, could have a crush on the athletic Murray even though the Raiders have stated emphatically that Derek Carr is still their guy. It’s also certainly possible that the Cardinals, who have one of the NFL’s thinnest rosters, would at least listen to offers for the top pick, especially from a team like the Raiders that has two extra #1 picks this year; however, it isn’t clear how or why Arizona would come off Murray at the same time as shopping Rosen would work. Stay tuned!

Pigskin mocks Steelers draft … As he has done in the past, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be posting mock drafts for specific teams over the final few weeks of the pre-draft process including one for the always interesting Pittsburgh Steelers today. Note: For the record, here is the criteria/process Pigskin follows to develop these team mocks.

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