So my friends, what are you thinking about from a football standpoint right now, as our Pandemic world slowly turns? As I admit to a bit of withdrawal without an NFL Combine at the end of February, I toss around the lack of information most of us will be without as we try to dig deeper into the prospects’ numbers and head for the scraps of info that might make a difference in pegging the pecking order on our Prospect ranking lists. I’m so damn old that at this stage I can flash back to the ’70’s and ’80’s when it was still the Dark Ages of information gathering, compared to today, at least pre Covid-19 “today”. The computer age giveth, and taketh away. And right now, it’s a lot more of the latter than the former. In fact, we are entering the phase of the Draft process, even within the League itself, where your guess may be just as good as mine (or God forbid, better) because more than ever, guessing/assuming is really the name of the game. So before we plunge into more Mocks and ranking list posting, let me present to you some things I feel like I know a bit about at this moment.
The need for new, and hopefully better, QB’s is always a hot topic when considering Draft prospects. Right now, the only official vet QB to announce his retirement is PHILIP RIVERS, last year’s COLTS starter. There is still considerable speculation that DREW BREES is going to retire as well, but DREW is being coy about playing or not in 2021. That’s good news for most, but it certainly does not mean that other teams will be uninterested in younger QB talent. After all, the number of starting Franchise QB’s over the age of 35 has never been higher. And don’t forget that a young, star QB currently in Houston may be willing to sit out some/all of the 2021 season, rather than ever don a Texans jersey again.
Now for the good news… though not deep, this year’s QB group has 6 candidates to become Franchise QB’s in the near term. And 5 of those, I am projecting to become First Round Picks come April. In order, my top guys are the same top guys on everyone’s list;
And maybe a late First Round spot for KYLE TRASK, when some QB needy team takes a look at the rest of the QB prospects, and scrambles to trade back into Round 1 to take TRASK. I believe that could very well happen when you look at the apparent gap between these 6 and the rest of the guys with QB beside their name. I will go so far as to say that unless TRASK slips to Round 2, there may not be a QB taken on Day 2 of the Draft this year.
I believe it’s a fine year for teams needing to bolster their RB room with a Rookie as well. However, most folks will tell you that the NFL just doesn’t luv the RB position like it used to. But if you ain’t got a good one (or 2 or 3) and can’t run the ball when you need to, all of a sudden the RB becomes important again. In my book, the threesome of TRAVIS ETIENNE, NAJEE HARRIS, and JAVONTE WILLIAMS should all go in Round 1. Some would tell you none of them will go til Day 2 of the Draft. Let me throw my sleeper at you. Scouts and Draftniks are all well aware of JERMAR JEFFERSON of Oregon State. He is an explosive back with decent speed, balance and power. And he also meets one of my “scouting” criteria. Check out the talent playing with him for the Beavers, and tell me how many of his offensive mates are, or will be, playing in the NFL. Probably none would be my answer. Opposing teams could key on JEFFERSON because they weren’t afraid of any special weapons or blockers around him. I’m not downgrading NAJEE HARRIS, but you have to admit he played with a lot more talent around him than JEFFERSON. I like this year’s RB group a lot, but the bulk of them will still be sitting and waiting for Day 3 to hear their name called.
I have some pretty strong opinions about KYLE PITTS/Florida/TE. The strongest being that he’s not really a TE. He works a bit at blocking, but not inline. He’s got a long, lean frame and exceptional receiving skills. I would suggest drafting him quite high (Top 10 for sure) for any team needing a long receiving option for their Offense. If the JETS decide to stay on the DARNOLD-Train, I would suggest they trade down (tho not too far) and add PITTS to their receiving corps, spending much of his time out of the slot, or wide. If your team is looking for an all purpose TE that will line-up inline and block as well as receive, I would recommend either PAT FREIERMUTH and/or HUNTER LONG, on Day 2.
In a slight aside relative to TE, I would suggest that on Day 3 if blocking is your need, you take a very hard look at LUKE FARRELL of Ohio State. He might provide a team with a two position player of sorts. I have seen him listed at 6’5/260-265. His forte is blocking, just ask the Buckeyes RB group about him. He is long and stout, and yes, he can catch well on intermediate routes. He might fit on a roster as a combination OT/TE, especially on short yardage and goal line situations. A nice 3rd TE and 8th OL for your team on game day! And on occasion, he can sneak out in the flat for a quick, short throw. “The more you can do.”
Speaking of versatile players… keep your eyes peeled for DEMETRIC FELTON of UCLA, who caught the creative fancy of his Head Coach CHIP KELLY the past couple of seasons. FELTON is a short guy, but carries a bit of meat on his bones at 5’9/189. He is also cat quick. He can run the ball, as well as catch it. I would also guess that he might contribute in your team’s return game. He had a solid week of work at Mobile during Senior Bowl week, showing flashes of big play potential. Another versatile Day 3 guy, if you don’t wait too long to call his name.
DAVIYON NIXON, of Iowa, was a JC transfer in 2019 that didn’t play much or impress much that season. However, he started climbing up Draft Boards in 2020 with some solid, and at times flashy, work in that Hawkeyes Defense. Some have hyped him up toward Round 1, which seems a bit rich for him overall to me. But he is clearly running with the Day Two crowd right now. I would like to throw an aside into this conversation, which is NOT intended to detract from NIXON at all. There was a significant addition to their DL last Fall right next to NIXON inside, in the person of NIU transfer JACK HEFLIN, who is listed at 6’4/320, and adjusted well to the step up from MAC to BIG TEN playing levels. I have seen HEFLIN go unmentioned in many draft circles, but would tell you that some of NIXON’s 2020 glory came from opponents having to decide how to block the combination of NIXON/HEFLIN.
That’s all I had in my notebook… for today. I’ll try to throw some other names and ideas your way over the coming weekend. Less than 2 months to go friends and neighbors.