March 31, 2016

by Grumpy Lindsay, GBN Editor

Where’s the buzz … The 2016 draft gets underway a month today and remains still relatively quiet around the NFL with little real buzz about trades and the like, although there is still some percolating just below the surface. This week, for example, Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey, one of the leading candidates to be the top pick overall had his pro day where by all accounts he looked all the part. However, if one wasn’t paying attention, one might not have known that Ramsey worked out this week. Indeed, the only comments came from Ramsey himself who proclaimed himself worthy of the #1 pick. Tennessee, which actually has the #1 pick and had been thought to be wavering just a tad over the possibility of taking Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil with the #1 pick, was well represented at the FSU pro day with general manager Jon Robinson, coach Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau all in attendance, but there was no gushing from the Titans afterward as they done with Tunsil the day before at the latter’s pro day.

As well, it was San Diego, which has the third pick, which actually put Ramsey through his workout. In fact, if as expected Tennessee sticks with Tunsil with the top pick and Cleveland takes a QB – most likely North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz – at #2, then the draft really starts with the Chargers at #3. And the Chargers indeed have a really pivotal choice. In addition to Ramsey, who would replace Eric Weddle at FS, the Chargers were reportedly all over Ohio State DE Joey Bosa at the Buckeyes’ pro day earlier this month, while they also had Oregon 5T DE DeForest Buckner in for a visit earlier this week … For the record, Dallas with the 4th pick will be looking at the guys San Diego passes on. Indeed, rumblings are that the Cowboys have Ramsey at the top – way at the top – of their wish list. The Cowboys though have also worked out Bosa. In fact, in an unusual step, the Cowboys had a private workout at Ohio State for all the Buckeyes’ prospects including Bosa and RB Zeke Elliott. At the same time, it doesn’t look like the Cowboys will use their top pick on a QB, but would like to add one soon after and have had private workouts with Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State among others …

Speaking of checking out the QB prospects, nobody appears to be more thorough than Philadelphia which had a full contingent of front office people including G.M. Howie Roseman, head coach Doug Pederson AND owner Jeffrey Lurie criss-crossing the country holding private workouts with both Wentz and Goff, along with Lynch and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. And that has league observers scratching their heads just a little bit. The Eagles recently extended incumbent starting QB Sam Bradford and signed free agent back-up Chase Daniel. They also say they would like to add a developmental young 3rd QB in the draft. So doing a little due diligence makes sense, but for them to send out their whole front office with the owner in tow they either have to have something up their sleeve or it appears to be a massive waste of time and resources.

Comings and goings … It appears that Baylor power forward turned TE Rico Gathers will be entering the 2016 draft. The Baylor coaches had tried to convince the 6-7, 275-pound Gathers, who has not played any serious football in years, to use his final year of eligibility to play for the Bears next fall. However, after Baylor’s abrupt first-round exit from the NCAA basketball tournament, Gathers reportedly headed for an NFL prep academy. On the hand – with thanks to intrepid GBN investigative college reporter Larry Parker for the heads, several other players who in one way or another appeared to be heading to the 2016 draft, including UCLA CB Fabian Moreau and South Carolina LB Skai Moore, now appear to headed for the 2017 draft. Meanwhile, poor old Iowa DE Drew Ott remains in football limbo as he waits for the NCAA to rule on appeal for a 5th year of eligibility following elbow and knee surgeries that shortened his 2015 season. Ott, who wants to play for the Hawkeyes next fall, has missed the combine and the Iowa pro day and is running out of time to work out for NFL teams if his final appeal is denied … With the pro day schedule is winding down, teams are now in the process of conducting private workouts with prospects or having them to their facilities for interviews and final medical tests. However, USC LB/SS Su’a Cravens has taken the unusual step of refusing to take do private workouts fearing an injury. Because he’s a tweener who has played both positions, teams would like to work out Cravens, especially those that are thinking of taking him as a safety. At the same time, teams are allowed to bring up to 30 players from out of town schools to their team facilities. And while the number isn’t official it appears that the early leader in most visits is Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche who reportedly has visits scheduled with as many as 14-15 teams. Of course, the Nkemdiche story is well known; he’s a top ten physical talent, but was being called ‘weird’ and ‘strange’ by scouts even before he jumped out of hotel window earlier this year.