Garrett Bradbury is a center Vikings fans can get excited about. Really!

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Retired defensive end Stephen White knows it’s hard for a center to stand out on film. NC State’s Bradbury did just that, repeatedly.

The Minnesota Vikings picked Garrett Bradbury 18th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about the North Carolina State center ahead of the draft:

When it comes to first-round offensive line prospects, most of the time people focus on the offensive tackles. Sometimes there are guards in the conversation, but a lot of times those “guards” are actually college tackles who project to kick inside on the next level. In fact, there have been at least two offensive tackles taken in the first round in every draft since 2007.

You know the offensive line position that people seem to overlook when talking about first-round prospects?

Centers.

Hey man, I get it. Centers seem like they always have help on every play, so how valuable could they possibly be, amirite? Well, I would say just ask that question to teams that don’t have a good center, and I bet they would fill you in on just how valuable the position can be.

It’s true not many centers are selected in the first round — just nine since 2006, and one of them, Frank Ragnow, who was selected 20th overall last spring by the Lions, actually played guard as a rookie. But there have been some outstanding centers who were in the last 10 years.

Nick Mangold, Alex Mack, Eric Wood, the Pouncey twins, and Travis Frederick, to name over half of them, have been difference-makers in the NFL since they came into the league. After watching his film, I think Garrett Bradbury could have a similar impact for the team that drafts him.

As I said in a previous post, I love watching film. However, it’s been a long time since a center jumped up and grabbed my attention the way Bradbury did watching his tape. Like, I usually jot down notable plays that I know I might want in my breakdown as I watch a prospect’s film, but with Bradbury’s I had so many that it was extremely hard to whittle down the list to the GIFs that would actually make it into this column.

What I wish is that I could actually go through his film and give commentary damn near play-by-play so that you, the reader, could get the same sense of how good this kid is as I did watching it alone. There are so many things he consistently does well that you just don’t see many centers, college or pro, being able to do.

Bradbury’s blocks are on another level — see for yourself!

For instance, Bradbury was terrific with his reach blocks. In fact, it took about my third time watching before I really appreciated how special he was at getting outside leverage on a defensive lineman who was already aligned outside of him.


Normally a center being able to reach a one-technique, which is a defensive player who is aligned on the outside edge of either his left shoulder or right shoulder, is no sure thing. Even most centers who are able to reach one-techs on a regular basis usually have to give some ground and risk getting pushed back into the running lane when they do so.

Bradbury, on the other hand, was so quick that most of the time the one-techs were reached before they even realized he had already snapped the football.


It became such a common occurrence on Bradbury’s tape that I kept having to remind myself it was not normal. You watch other college centers’ film and you aren’t likely to see those kinds of results repeatedly.

Hell, you can watch some NFL centers and you won’t see it, either.

Hold on, I’m just getting started, though.

Bradbury didn’t just do well reaching one-techs. This dude was reaching defensive linemen aligned in 2is (inside shade of a guard) and three-techniques (outside shade of a guard) like it was nothing, too!

To make it plain, usually the wider defensive linemen are aligned, the harder it is to reach them. It’s one thing to reach a defensive tackle on your outside edge, but to be able to reach one all the way out on the outside edge of the dude standing next to you?


Rare!

Those are the kinds of blocks that separate a good center from one who likely has some Pro Bowls in his future.

This guy HAD to have been a wrestler at one point.

In addition to those impressive reach blocks, I thought Bradbury’s scoop/combo blocks in coordination with his guards were outstanding. Basically on those plays, Bradbury and one guard would be assigned to block one defensive player on the line of scrimmage and a defensive player on the second level.


Those blocks can be difficult for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that both offensive linemen have to be on the same page throughout the course of the play. If one comes off early, or if they both think they have the guy on the second level, that could lead to a disaster.

On the other hand, when scoop blocks are executed well they can open up really nice running lanes right up the gut.

When they are blocked as well as Bradbury and his cohorts did time and time again in the four games that I watched, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot a defense can do to stop it, either.

That is another thing I noticed after watching his tape a few times: how often NC State’s running backs were cutting off his blocks on some of their best runs.


You know the saying “running between the tackles?” With NC State, the running backs made a lot of hay running between the guards, and Bradbury was a huge part of that.

I really can’t remember seeing a center get as many pancake blocks as Bradbury did in those four games, either. That dude was trying to finish everybody.

I’m not talking about pancakes off double-teams, by the way — although he did have a few of those too for good measure.

No, I’m talking about Bradbury taking dudes one-on-one and burying them over and over again.


I would bet anything he was a wrestler at some point in his life because you could see the power in his hips when he would torque a defender right before he dumped them on the ground.

Give this man a full head of steam and whoever is in his path is gonna catch that wreck.

Mind you, Bradbury isn’t the biggest offensive lineman you will see at 6’3 and 306 pounds, but his functional strength is ridiculous and it jumps off the screen when you watch his tape. It doesn’t hurt that he also had 34 reps of 225 pounds on the bench at the combine, either. However, that only served to support what I’d already seen on his film.

For that matter, Bradbury’s testing numbers confirmed how athletic he looked in those four games, too. With a 4.92 in the 40-yard dash and a 4.53 in the short shuttle, Bradbury put up better numbers than Christian Wilkins (5.04 40, 4.55 short shuttle), if you want some added context to his athleticism.

His 31-inch vertical leap also bested Wilkins’ 29.5 as well, and reflected the explosiveness I witnessed when Bradbury unleashed on second-level defenders.


Now, the one thing that is usually hard to judge when it comes to centers is how well they will do as pass blockers because they usually either get help, or have to give it on passing downs. There were a few plays where Bradbury and one of his guards got split by a defender who ended up putting heat on the quarterback, but those plays definitely were not the norm.

There were also quite a few plays where Bradbury did have to block a guy one-on-one, and I thought he held up very well for the most part.

No offensive lineman is going to win every one-on-one encounter, especially centers who have the added responsibility of snapping the ball first. However, on the whole Bradbury looked quick and steady in pass protection.

He also looked good passing off pass-rush games.


He even managed to pancake a few guys on passing plays, as well.


In short, Bradbury is everything you could want in a future NFL center.

What I wish I saw more of in those four games was Bradbury pulling out in space. There were only two times in four games where he pulled on a run play, and one of those was a RPO that ended up being a pass, and on the other he didn’t make a block. His running looked fine both times, but I would have liked to have seen him have more opportunities to show what he could do as a puller.

Centers who can pull outside and actually block somebody well don’t come along every day. Everything about Bradbury tells me he can do it, but I didn’t get to actually see whether that’s true.

NC State also only ran one (!) screen in those four games. And, oh by the way, that one screen actually ended with an incompletion, so I didn’t actually get to see Bradbury block on that play, either. Again, I think he would actually be great blocking in space like that, but actually seeing it would have erased any doubts.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have many doubts about Bradbury, however. He did have two bad snaps in four games — which is about two too many — but I don’t think that is a major issue. Otherwise he was remarkable at just about everything else.

When you can stand out on film from the center position, that says something in and of itself. Garrett Bradbury looks to have the total package of what you would look for in a center. He has good size, great functional strength and quickness, and he plays with a salty edge to him. He makes difficult blocks look routine, and he always seems to be under control. He will kick ass in any running scheme known to man, and he will look like a vet in pass protection from day one.

That, to me, screams that he’s a center worthy of being taken in the first round.

Bigger than where he’s drafted, however, is what kind of pro he’ll be. I believe Bradbury is going to be dominant from the center position on the next level. That, my friends, is what really matters most of all.


For the purposes of this breakdown, I watched former NC State center Garrett Bradbury play against Virginia, Boston College, Florida State, and Texas A&M. Those represented the fifth, sixth, ninth, and 14th games on NC State’s schedule last season, respectively.


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58 colleges with 1st-round QB picks since Ohio State’s last before Dwayne Haskins

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Haskins is the first since Art Schlichter went to the (Baltimore) Colts.

Dwayne Haskins went 15th overall to Washington in the NFL Draft It ends astonishing streak for Ohio State, one of the best recruiters and most dominant teams in college football.

In 1982, the Baltimore Colts drafted OSU quarterback Art Schlichter with the fourth pick. He only lasted parts of four years in the league, and he’s more famous now for going to prison for stealing to finance a gambling habit.

Schlichter was the last Ohio State QB to get taken in the first round. Nine Buckeye QBs have been drafted elsewhere, but nobody higher than Tom Tupa, 68th overall, in the 1988 third round.

It makes some sense that Ohio State hasn’t had a first-round (or even second-round) QB since Schlichter. Going back to Troy Smith in the mid-2000s, the Buckeyes’ QBs have tended to be great runners who ranged from bad to somewhat above-average passers: Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, and Cardale Jones. (In the most uninformed corners, this perception may follow Haskins.) Until Haskins and now-head coach Ryan Day took the reins in 2018, OSU was a spread-to-run team.

But that doesn’t explain the late ‘80s, the ‘90s, or the early aughts.

There were 88 first-round QBs between 1983, the first year of OSU’s drought, and the few picks before Haskins went in 2019. They’ve come from all kinds of programs, but let’s start low on the food chain. (Thanks to the great search engine at Sports Reference for its help.)

FCS teams

  • UC Davis: Ken O’Brien
  • Alcorn State: Steve McNair
  • Delaware: Joe Flacco
  • North Dakota State: Carson Wentz

Wentz’s North Dakota State would have wailed on the vast majority of FBS teams at the time he was drafted in 2016. Actually, NDSU still would. These are nonetheless programs at a level that currently allows 63 scholarships (max) producing more of these guys than OSU.

FBS non-powers

  • Colorado State: Kelly Stouffer
  • San Diego State: Dan McGwire
  • Miami (Ohio): Ben Roethlisberger
  • Utah: Alex Smith
  • Memphis: Paxton Lynch
  • Wyoming: Josh Allen
  • Duke: Daniel Jones

FBS non-powers that have had two first-round QBs in this span

  • UCF: Daunte Culpepper, Blake Bortles
  • Marshall: Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich
  • Fresno State: Trent Dilfer, David Carr
  • Tulane: Patrick Ramsey, J.P. Losman

The non-power ranks have produced two Super Bowl-winning starters (Dilfer and Roethlisberger), a few solid NFL QBs (Pennington, Leftwich), and probably the oddest fact on this list, which is that Tulane had two first-round QBs between 2002 and 2004.

Junior colleges

  • Blinn College: Cam Newton
  • Butte Community College: Aaron Rodgers
  • Reedley College: Josh Allen

I’m exercising my right to double-count these players’ JUCOs to suit my own agenda. I will not count Troy Aikman for Oklahoma, however, because I don’t want to.

Current Power 5 schools that are funny

  • Illinois: Tony Eason, Jeff George
  • Purdue: Jim Everett
  • Vanderbilt: Jay Cutler
  • Boston College: Matt Ryan
  • Kansas State: Josh Freeman

We all have those players whose alma maters we forget, even though we know in our hearts they went there. For me, Cutler’s a first-team all “oh yeah, he went there” talent.

Pac-12 schools with serious bulk quantity

  • Oregon: Chris Miller, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Marcus Mariota
  • UCLA: Troy Aikman, Tommy Maddox, Cade McNown, Josh Rosen
  • Cal: Kyle Boller, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff
  • USC: Todd Marinovich, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, Sam Darnold

Everyone else

  • Pitt: Dan Marino
  • Penn State: Todd Blackledge, Kerry Collins
  • Stanford: John Elway, Andrew Luck
  • Iowa: Chuck Long
  • Michigan: Jim Harbaugh
  • Miami: Jim Kelly, Vinny Testaverde
  • Houston: Andre Ware, David Klingler
  • Notre Dame: Rick Mirer, Brady Quinn
  • Washington State: Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf
  • Tennessee: Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning
  • Virginia Tech: Jim Druckenmiller, Michael Vick
  • Syracuse: Donovan McNabb
  • Kentucky: Tim Couch
  • Florida: Rex Grossman, Tim Tebow
  • NC State: Philip Rivers
  • Ole Miss: Eli Manning
  • Auburn: Jason Campbell, Cam Newton
  • Texas: Vince Young
  • LSU: JaMarcus Russell
  • Georgia: Matt Stafford
  • Oklahoma: Sam Bradford, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray
  • Florida State: Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel, Jameis Winston
  • Missouri: Blaine Gabbert
  • Washington: Jake Locker
  • Oklahoma State: Brandon Weeden
  • Texas A&M: Ryan Tannehill, Johnny Manziel
  • Baylor: Robert Griffin III
  • Louisville: Teddy Bridgewater, Lamar Jackson
  • Clemson: Deshaun Watson
  • Texas Tech: Patrick Mahomes
  • North Carolina: Mitchell Trubisky

Houston’s here because when Ware and Klingler got drafted, in 1990 and ‘92, the Cougars were still in the Southwest Conference, which had A&M, Texas, and nearly half of the modern Big 12. Seems like a power conference to me. Let’s just move along.

(Both of the Houston QBs were pretty significant busts — top-seven picks two years apart who went on to go a combined 7-23 with 21 TD passes to 30 picks.)

To Ohio State fans, the greatest thing about Haskins ending this streak is obvious.

For at least a year, Buckeye fans will now be able to add “Michigan hasn’t had a first-round QB since Jim Harbaugh” to their list of reasons to laugh at their rivals.


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Ed Oliver’s awesome workout stats, in terms we can all understand

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Sort of like a Madden create-a-player, but in real life.

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver is an absurdly good athlete, in the same way grass is absurdly green and water is absurdly moist. At Houston, the defensive tackle was a generational sort of talent, and he’s likely going to be great in the NFL, too.

I don’t know if all of us mortals have appropriately considered just how good an athlete Oliver is, though. Some numbers from his NFL Combine and pro day, two events spread most of a month apart in March, might illustrate that best for all of us. Combine numbers are league-verified, while pro day numbers come from Oliver’s college team, via reporter Sam Khan Jr. We can’t be scientific about those, other than to say they sound good.

Size-wise, Oliver is basically Aaron Donald.

  • Donald at the 2014 combine: 6’1, 285 pounds
  • Oliver at the 2019 combine: 6’2, 287 pounds

In the 40-yard dash, Oliver is basically Arian Foster.

  • Foster at the 2009 combine: 4.69 seconds
  • Oliver at his pro day, reportedly: 4.73 seconds

In the bench press, Oliver is basically Ndamukong Suh.

  • Suh at the 2010 combine: 32 reps
  • Oliver at the 2019 combine: 32 reps

In the shuttle run, Oliver is basically Le’Veon Bell.

  • Bell at the 2013 combine: 4.25 seconds
  • Oliver at his pro day, reportedly: 4.22 seconds

In the three-cone drill, Oliver is basically Jason Pierre-Paul.

  • Pierre-Paul at the 2010 combine: 7.18 seconds
  • Oliver at his pro day, reportedly: 7.15 seconds

In the vertical jump, Oliver is basically Von Miller.

  • Miller at the 2011 combine: 37 inches
  • Oliver at the 2019 combine: 36 inches

In the broad jump, Oliver is J.J. Watt or Amari Cooper

  • Watt at the 2011 combine: 120 inches
  • Cooper at the 2015 combine: 120 inches
  • Oliver at the 2019 combine: 120 inches

I’m not a fancy NFL Draft analyst, but I feel confident writing this letter now:

Dear Arizona Cardinals
(ATTN: Kliff Kingsbury),

Draft this man first overall, and then go have a snack.

Best,
Alex


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Ed Oliver will be even better with the Bills

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Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White breaks down why he’s so excited to see Buffalo use Oliver the right way.

The Buffalo Bills picked Ed Oliver ninth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about Oliver ahead of the draft:

I’m honestly quite excited to see Ed Oliver develop on the next level because I’m pretty sure he is about to take a huge leap forward as a player in the NFL.

Oliver played the hell out of a zero nose in college, but I don’t think anyone believes that’s where he’ll be playing as a professional.

That isn’t to say that he didn’t do a good job there. Hell, he did a fantastic job most of the time. But at his size, and with his power, speed, and quickness, NFL teams are a lot more likely to have him lined up out in the B gap, or wider, instead.

I don’t want to say using him so much at zero nose was a waste of his talent at Houston, but I cannot tell a lie. I’m sure the coaches had their reasons, but I doubt I would agree with any of them. With as many plays as he made from a zero nose, I have a feeling he would have been way more ridiculous if it had been in a three-technique or a four-technique on a more regular basis.

The shame of it all is that in the four games I watched Oliver, with all of his impressive physical tools, he was rarely put in position to just fire straight off the ball and get upfield to create havoc. That was more than just a little bit frustrating for me as an analyst.

Here you have a guy who is killing people with his quickness on one play, then dumping them on their ass with his power on the next, but he had to do all these wondrous things from mostly either heavy or head-up alignments in the games that I watched. What I mean by that is that he was either aligned head-up on an offensive lineman, which isn’t a good alignment for trying to fire off upfield, or he was in a “heavy” alignment. That means he was technically shaded to one side or the other, like a 2i on the inside half of the guard, but it wasn’t much of a shade and he was still staring across at least a half a man when he was in his stance.

Again, I’m sure his coaching staff had their reasons, but selfishly I would have liked to have seen Oliver lined up in the gaps a helluva lot more. It would have put him in much better position to really showcase the totality of his talents, which would have in turn allowed him to make even more big plays, which also probably would have translated into more success for his team, in general.

As the song goes, however, we can’t always get what we want, so instead I just have to go by what I did see, and then try to extrapolate from there when projecting who and what I think Oliver should be on the next level. I will say that even with all my bellyaching, this kid was a joy to watch on film.

Oliver’s strength can embarrass offensive linemen.

Let’s talk about his explosion right off the bat, because that one of the first things that jumped off the screen at me.

I hardly ever see a nose tackle who consistently has the best get-off on his defensive line, but with Oliver it wasn’t even close on most plays. He’d be off the ball and engaging with the opposing offensive linemen while his teammates were still stuck in their stances.

And not only was he quick off the ball, but his explosion also was readily apparent in how forcefully he took on blockers. When teams made the mistake of trying to block Oliver one-on-one, he was routinely able to rock that blocker back by getting good hand placement inside on their breast plates, getting full extension with his arms, and exploding out of his hips.


I just didn’t see many plays where one guy got him pushed off the ball. The overwhelming majority of the time he sent them flying backward, at least initially. I can’t be sure how many times Oliver will be able to bench press 225 pounds at the combine, but what I do know is on film he plays like he is strong as a damn ox. I literally saw him take an offensive lineman and use him to tackle a running back for a loss of 4 yards in one game.


No matter what his combine numbers turn out to be, it’s pretty clear on tape he is plenty strong enough to play in the league. In fact, if a team wanted to use him from time to time at zero nose, I’m pretty sure he would hold up well there in the NFL, too. The dude showed the athletic traits that will give him at least the potential for being a really dominant player against the run in the pros.

What Oliver lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and power.

But, before you get the wrong idea, Oliver is not some big, lumbering goon on the field. As impressive as his displays of strength and power were in the four games that I watched, his lateral quickness was just as remarkable.

Houston had him stunting laterally quite a bit, and he was excellent at it. He was so quick that he could often make centers or guards completely whiff when they tried to block him; then he’d immediately stick his foot in the ground and shoot upfield looking to take whomever had the ball down behind the line of scrimmage.

It was actually Oliver’s unique combination of power and quickness that allowed him to hold up so well playing zero nose as much as he did, even though he isn’t a huge guy by any means at 6’2 and 290 pounds. Playing inside like that, and just because he was a badass in college, Oliver had to face a ton of double-teams and other kinds of extra attention, and it didn’t seem to bother him one bit.

When he recognized a double-team, he would smartly come off hard at one guy to try to knock him back and create separation before the second guy could get over and try to join the party.


On several occasions, that allowed him to not only hold his ground but also eventually split those double-teams without being moved off the ball very much, if at all. He also employed this technique as a pass rusher to pretty good effect, as well.

How Oliver uses his hands will take him far at the next level.

I still don’t think Houston should’ve played him at nose tackle as much as it did in those games, but there is no question that he balled out when he was lined up there. Of course on the occasions when the coaches had him aligned wider, he balled the F out there, too. He was always playing on the opponent’s side of the line of scrimmage, and while he wasn’t always the guy who ended up making the tackle for a loss, he was often the guy who forced it.


In addition to his power and quickness, another thing I was impressed with was how active and effective Oliver was with his hands. A lot of guys with his physical tools are good college players, but end up failing on the next level because they never work on escaping off blocks. It’s simply too easy for them to make plays in college most weeks, so they never really hone their technique. I see it every year from a prospect or two that I do a breakdown on, and it is never not infuriating to watch.

In Oliver’s case, however, he generally did a really good job of using his hands to keep blockers off of him. He was also really good at using escape moves like rips and arm-overs to get off of the blockers once it was time for him to try to make a tackle.


That’s truly a big deal for me and something I look for and value when I’m evaluating defensive line prospects, because that will translate over well for Oliver in the NFL.

No matter what level of competition you face, using good technique will always give you a better chance of making plays. At some point you are always going to meet your match physically, and it is those instances when you need good technique the most. If you are used to just reaching out and trying to tackle somebody without escaping off the block because you used to be able to get away with it in college, you will surely wind up getting dumptrucked when you face better competition in the NFL.

But that isn’t something a team will have to worry about with Oliver, for the most part.

Unlike at college, whichever team that drafts him will give him a chance to shine as a pass rusher.

As much as anything, the reason why I was most disappointed that Houston didn’t see fit to line Oliver up in the gaps more is because I just didn’t get to see Oliver on many plays as a true pass rusher in the four games I watched. Oh, he still managed to get some heat on the opposing quarterbacks and although he didn’t end up with any sacks in those four games, he did still end up with nine pressures.

But most of those were on plays where he wasn’t in a gap alignment and they usually came on early downs. That he was able to be that productive as a pass rusher was a great testament to how good of a player he was in spite of the scheme he was playing in.

On third downs sometimes, Houston had Oliver stunting laterally to go from the A gap to being the containment element of the defense, either because of a blitz or a three-man rush. That’s what we used to call a “hot” stunt.

And if you were confused about this, most of the time the players running those stunts from the A gap or B gap to being the containment element of the defense are not meant to get any pressure on the quarterback. All they are supposed to do is even up the pass-rush lanes and, in the event of a blitz, make sure the quarterback can’t escape outside, away from where the blitz is coming.

Just based on the limited pass-rushing reps I did see from Oliver, he looked to be one of your best, if not your best, pass rushers, but you don’t allow him to get up the field to pass rush?


What part of the game is that?

I just don’t get it.

It seems to me it would have been so much easier to just line him up at three-technique on most third downs, let him destroy one of the guards and maybe the center, and allow the other guys to play off him. Even if he didn’t have a single decent pass-rush move, with his skill set Oliver would have likely killed most of the offensive guards he faced just with his quickness and power.

After seeing how teams tried to double him all the time, even when he wasn’t the three-technique, at the very least he could’ve have drawn enough attention that his teammates would have had an easier time trying to get to the quarterback.

The crazy thing is watching how good he was with his hands in other situations and even on some of his pass-rush reps from inside, I’m pretty sure Oliver does have some pretty good pass-rush moves, but he just wasn’t put in position to showcase them all that much. At least not in the four games I watched.


Well, aside from his bull rush, which, unsurprisingly, he was very effective with.

Oliver can still be coached up, but he’s got a motor that can’t be taught.

From what I have seen, Oliver already has all the traits of a good interior pass rusher, and, with a little bit of technique work, there is a decent chance he could eventually develop into a great one.

One of the biggest reasons I feel really good about Oliver as a prospect is because the guy hustled his ass off on the field. If you have read any of my work, you know how much I admire a guy who mashes the gas to the ball constantly, and this guy kept showing up down the field on film.

Oliver wasn’t just getting in some cardio, either. He was looking to take cats’ heads off. I saw the guy hauling ass over 20 yards down the field and making the tackle on one play.


I also saw him chase down a screen from behind and blow up the running back on the tackle.


When you have a guy with that kind of motor, I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard to get him coached up a little in the technique department. Oliver isn’t exactly “raw” to begin with, so it’s not like he is going to have to start from scratch.

Hell, right now, today, he already has shown me some pretty good power moves. For all I know he may well already have some fantastic finesse moves as well.

But even if he doesn’t, I see nothing on his film that leads me to believe Oliver can’t learn some moves develop into a top-notch interior pass rusher in the NFL. And when it comes to defensive linemen in this era of football, that’s what it’s all about.

It’s pretty much a given for me that Oliver will be outstanding against the run in the NFL, but, as I have said before, I really don’t value one-trick run defenders on the defensive line enough to take one in the first round. For me to take a guy that high he has to be able to get after the passer. So there is at least some risk with Oliver in that I didn’t actually see him pass rush the way I think he will be able to when he is put in better alignments. But my doubts on that front are pretty low.

He has an NFL equivalent, but it’s NOT Aaron Donald.

On another note, I heard an announcer in one of the games compare him to Aaron Donald, but their pass-rush film is one of the major differences between Oliver and Donald coming out of college. When I did Donald’s breakdown back in the day, I actually saw him move up and down the line whupping ass as a pass rusher. In fact, Donald was one of the most polished pass rushers I’ve ever seen coming out of college.

So I don’t think it’s fair to put those kinds of expectations on Oliver. While I believe he will eventually do well as a pass rusher, folks have to give him time to develop, and I fear with the comparison to Donald people will rush to call him a bust if he isn’t racking up sacks right out of the gate.

The truth of the matter is Donald is a generational talent. He may well be the best interior defensive lineman to ever play the game when his career is all said and done. Oliver doesn’t need to be judged by such a high bar right now when he isn’t close to being as polished as Donald was when he came out. And, quite frankly, most other defensive line prospects shouldn’t have that comparison hung around their necks, either.

I’ll tell you who Oliver actually does remind me of and that’s Robert Nkemdiche back when he was at his best in college.

The quickness.

The explosiveness.

The power.

Both guys are very similar football traits-wise and not far off when it comes to their physical dimensions. Where Oliver separates himself from Nkemdiche is he already plays with better technique, play in and play out, and with more discipline than Nkemdiche ever did. Oliver, right now, is already who a lot of people, myself included, thought Nkemdiche could eventually develop into. I know Nkemdiche has been disappointing so far as a pro, but I’m not making the comparison as a knock on Oliver.

It’s been a while, but plenty of folks thought Nkemdiche would be a beast on the next level when he came out of school. I’m saying that I see Oliver a similar prospect who is already closer to being a beast than Nkemdiche was when he was drafted in the first round.

And, again, I think Oliver still has a lot of room to grow, so his ceiling should actually be higher than Nkemdiche’s heading into the league. Oliver also, to my knowledge, doesn’t have anything like the off-field baggage that came with Nkemdiche, either.

That being said, Oliver will still need to test and measure well at the combine before we will see just how high his stock will go. For me, he looks like a top half of the first round guy on tape, but we all know how the NFL loves measurables.

No matter how high or low he is picked, I see Oliver as a pretty safe prospect. He is both stout and athletic enough to play multiple positions on the defensive line, he has plenty of functional strength, and he has a motor that won’t quit. Barring injury or something unforeseen off the field, Oliver has the potential to be a Pro Bowl-type guy by his third year in the league, and I don’t think any team that drafts him will end up being disappointed that it did.


For the purposes of this breakdown I watched former Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver play against Rice, Arizona, Texas Tech, and Memphis. Those represented the first, second, third, and 12th games on Houston’s schedule last season, respectively.


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5 teams that could trade for Josh Rosen

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If Kliff Kingsbury really thinks Kyler Murray is so great, he can have him — but first the Cardinals would have to do something about Rosen.

Kliff Kingsbury loves Kyler Murray.

He absolutely loves him. He speaks of him in reverent tones. He once warned NFL teams anyone who didn’t draft him was a big dummy.

And now Kingsbury, fired Texas Tech head coach and now current Arizona Cardinals head coach, has the chance to prove himself no dummy. His team drafted Murray — baseball firmly in his rear view — with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. But if Kingsbury’s fresh start is going to go off smoothly with his new franchise quarterback, he’s going to have to figure out what to do with the old one first.

The first step to bringing Murray to Arizona will be offloading Josh Rosen, the 10th overall pick of last year’s NFL Draft. His 2018 onboarding failed to go smoothly as a rookie for the talent void that sank to the bottom of the league’s standings last fall.

Sam Bradford, brought in to serve as a placeholder starter and steady veteran presence, crumbled into dust in a three-game audition before being deactivated to save the franchise more than $4 million in roster bonuses. That made Rosen a starter in Week 4, where he wound up throwing passes to a still-good-but-35-years-old Larry Fitzgerald, Ricky Seals-Jones, and Chad Williams. His offensive line allowed him to be sacked once out of every 10 dropbacks, earning Pro Football Focus’s worst grade in the league.

This is all to say things went poorly for the rookie out of UCLA. He completed only 55 percent of his passes, averaged fewer than six yards per attempt, and was one of two rookie passers to throw more interceptions than touchdowns (the other was Josh Allen).

That performance failed to sell his employers on his future, and now Kyler Murray is a Cardinal. This was not especially surprising.

When asked whether Rosen was his quarterback going forward, general manager Steve Keim told reporters “he is right now, for sure.” While that last “for sure” may have meant to sound reassuring, it tracked like a Jon Lovitz-ian addition. “Right now” apparently had a shelf life of six weeks — and other NFL clubs knew it.

It’s a message Rosen may or may not have heard loud and clear, depending on how much stock you put in his reportedly hacked Instagram account.

This means a top-10 pick in the most recent NFL Draft is suddenly an albatross around Keim’s neck. So if the Cardinals were looking to trade a promising young passer coming off a terrible rookie season, where could they turn? Here are five destinations that make sense for Josh Rosen.

New York Giants

The Giants’ efforts to create a contingency plan for life after Eli Manning have all failed spectacularly, and Kyle Lauletta’s awful performance in an extremely small sample size suggests he’s another link in that proud chain. Now that Manning’s locked in for at least one more year in blue, acquiring Rosen would give the team an exit strategy for 2020.

Rosen was a talent who had Giants fans and analysts salivating last spring, and shipping off an early second-round pick for him would give the club a dream 2018 scenario of having both the UCLA passer and reigning offensive rookie of the year Saquon Barkley on the same roster. It might be a tough sell for a rebuilding team that needs help across its depth chart, however; New York only has two picks before Day 3 of the draft after selecting cornerback Sam Beal in the third round of last year’s supplemental draft.

They’ll have some competition from an in-division rival. Washington is jockeying for a potential Rosen trade as well, per reports:

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags are the clubhouse leaders to sign Nick Foles, but adding a 30-year-old quarterback with a career passer rating of 74.2 outside of Philadelphia may not be the panacea Jacksonville craves. While Foles could be a solid stopgap option, the franchise could also insulate itself for the future by adding a player who could develop alongside the veteran whose guidance helped Carson Wentz make the leap from overwhelmed rookie to MVP candidate in his second year as a pro.

This, somehow, could saddle Rosen with a worse supporting cast than the one he had in Arizona. His top two wideouts would Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee, the latter of whom is coming off a season-ending knee injury. His top tailback, Leonard Fournette, averaged only 3.3 yards per carry last season and looks more and more like the NFL doppelgänger of Trent Richardson. An injury-riddled offensive line allowed sacks on nine percent of dropbacks in 2018. Jacksonville isn’t especially inviting for quarterbacks this spring.

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick loves turning other teams’ underwhelming high-value draft picks into reclamation projects in New England. Under his watch, players like Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, and Aqib Talib all saw their value rise after moving to Foxborough. Others, like Kony Ealy, Danny Shelton, and Jonathan Cooper, didn’t work out so well.

That propensity to take big swings, even on flawed prospects, means the Pats won’t be deterred by Rosen’s ugly start in the desert. Belichick needs to start prepping for Tom Brady’s eventual departure, even if Brady’s desire to play until age 45 would push him through the end of Rosen’s rookie contract. Bringing the former UCLA star to the northeast would give him a low-pressure environment to develop his game and set him up as the future of one of the league’s most prestigious franchises. If Matt Cassel and Jimmy Garoppolo could thrive at Gillette Stadium, Rosen probably could, too.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are probably ending their Ryan Tannehill experiment after only six brief years and heading into a full rebuild under new head coach Brian Flores. However, last year’s 7-9 record has them stuck at the No. 13 pick in this year’s draft — likely excluding them from the Murray/Dwayne Haskins tier of QB prospects and forcing them to choose between exciting but potentially flawed passers like Drew Lock or Daniel Jones instead. Murray had been a popular mock draft pick for Miami early in the draft process, but the combination of Kingsbury’s adoration and his taller-than-expected 5’10 measurement at the combine suggests he won’t be available in the mid-first.

If neither of those options makes sense to Flores and general manager Chris Grier, Rosen could be a useful alternative. He’d have zero expectations in his first season in Miami — which is good, because given the Dolphins’ lack of general talent, he’d probably have another regrettable year. Would that taint him with an inescapable stench of failure? Or would he grow into his potential while no one was watching?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How does Byron Leftwich feel about Rosen? The former Cardinals offensive coordinator reunited with head coach Bruce Arians in Tampa this winter, and the two could be in the market for a young quarterback to pick up the pieces if poor judgment shatters Jameis Winston’s prospects once more. Leftwich wasn’t able to do much with the first-round pick in his rookie year, but much of that damage can be placed on an awful supporting cast.

Rosen would get the chance to work with Mike Evans and the bones of an offense that passed for more than 320 yards per game this past season. Getting some help from Arians, who helped Andrew Luck transition seamlessly into the league as a rookie and then got more than anyone could have expected from late-stage Carson Palmer in Glendale, would also be a boon for Rosen’s career. Ryan Fitzpatrick is unlikely to return to Tampa, so adding the second-year quarterback would give the Bucs a useful backup AND some Winston insurance for the future.


Rosen’s 2018 painted him as a rough-edged prospect, but teams across the league would be willing to wager his disappointing rookie year was more a product of his environment than any fatal flaws in his game. If the Cardinals really want to double-down on Kingsbury’s quarterback crush and welcome Murray to the league, they will have plenty of suitors willing to pay for Rosen’s services.

Just not at a high price.


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The impossible task of blocking Quinnen Williams, as explained by his fellow draft prospects

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One of Williams’ Alabama teammates and two opposing offensive linemen tell us what it was like going up against college football’s most dominant player.

INDIANAPOLIS — For much of the college football season, stopping Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was a fool’s errand.

Williams had at least a half a sack in seven games in 2018 and was part of a tackle for loss in 11 different games. And he did it all as a redshirt sophomore. As a result, Pro Football Focus graded Williams as the top player in all of college football last season. The All-American had 10 sacks and 16 quarterback hits, according to PFF, and even more pressures.

He won the Outland Trophy as college football’s best interior lineman and finished just behind Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen for the Bednarik Award.

Williams is the latest Alabama defensive lineman who will hear his name called on draft weekend. In the last three years, seven Crimson Tide defensive linemen have been drafted, none higher than Washington taking Da’Ron Payne 13th overall in 2018.

That is, until now. Williams is almost assuredly a top-four pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. At the NFL Scouting Combine, teammates and opponents alike raved about Williams.

Williams was even tough for his own teammates to figure out.

Teammate Jonah Williams, Alabama’s left tackle, once even referred to Quinnen Williams as an “almost 300-pound bar of soap” because he’s so hard to get a hold of.

If there’s one Alabama player who knows Williams more than anyone, though, it’s center Ross Pierschbacher. For the Crimson Tide, Williams often played nose tackle over the center, and in Alabama’s intense practices, Williams and Pierschbacher routinely matched up against one another.

“His get-off is something serious,” Pierschbacher said on Thursday. “He’s got a really good get-off, and he’s slippery.”

Williams isn’t just quickness, though. He has serious moves as a pass rusher, including a quick swim move and a strong bull rush. When his first move doesn’t work, he’s fast to counter and try something else.

Here’s that quickness in action against LSU, a game in which he had 2.5 sacks:


“I tried to find little things that he did that would give his pass rush away, and I couldn’t find anything on him,” Pierschbacher said. “That made me mad throughout the whole year. I’d sit there and watch film, and if I thought he was going to go one way from what I studied, and he’d go the other way. So I don’t know if he was reading me or switching it up.

“It was frustrating to block him, but he made me better.”

Pierschbacher was adamant that the best way to stop Williams is to double-team him on the inside.

Williams was ready to make opponents pay if they let their guard down.

For Georgia center Lamont Gaillard, the game plan was to be physical with Williams and Alabama from the onset. It mostly worked. In that game, Georgia routinely double-teamed Williams. On the first play they didn’t, though, and Williams pushed past Georgia’s right tackle and sacked Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm.

“You have to set a tone and lay them out sometimes just so they know you’re there,” Gaillard said about the game plan against Alabama. “(Williams has) a great motor. He’s going to attack and be consistent on every basis and he’s a strong player.”

Williams is so good, he breaks streaks. Like, big streaks. Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins knew exactly how many snaps he played without giving up a sack. The number was 762. Then Jenkins — a likely top-100 draft pick in his own right — came up against Williams. Oh no:


Streak over. In that game, Williams had six tackles, two tackles for loss, and the sack. It was part of a string of five games where he had 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.

“He’s very quick and he knows where the ball is going,” Jenkins said. “He’s always a step ahead.”


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How Kyler Murray operated Oklahoma’s offense to perfection

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Murray was a play-action nightmare, and he used both his legs and arms to open up deep routes. His NFL team can borrow from OU’s playbook to get the most out of him.

Kyler Murray is probably one of the best athletes to ever be a college quarterback. He didn’t run through the usual combine or pro day tests, but he has elite quickness, breakaway speed, and the arm to hit downfield targets. Not counting sacks, he ran 122 times for 1,110 yards during his Heisman season at Oklahoma, with 12 touchdowns. With sack yardage, he still ran for more than 1,000 yards, as he got sacked on just 4.5 percent of his pass attempts. He avoided a lot of contact, protecting himself with baseball-like sliding skills.

It was rare for an opponent to get his hands on Murray anywhere near the Oklahoma backfield. He was just too quick. The super athlete threw for 11.6 yards per attempt, with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Combining his runs and passes, he had 517 touches for 5,362 yards and 54 touchdowns. At 10.4 yards per touch, that’s roughly a first down per play. When he gave himself up to protect his body, he and the Sooners still came out ahead.

Here’s how Murray’s system at Oklahoma worked, how he operated in it, and what that can tell us about his potential to run an NFL offense going forward.

At Oklahoma, Murray helped make sure the offense played to its strengths.

In 2017, when Baker Mayfield was Oklahoma’s QB, the Sooners’ offense was really diverse and multiple. They based out of a spread set with 21 personnel — two backs, one tight end, with a full-time flex TE in Mark Andrews and a FB/TE hybrid in Dmitri Flowers.

While Andrews ran routes from the slot, it was Flowers’ job to hang around the box as a blocker and constant pop pass threat. OU was generally a spread-to-run team that mixed in play-action shots, but as its young receivers developed, it added more drop-back passes. Sometimes, a third receiver replaced Flowers.

In 2018, when Murray took over, things changed. OU returned multi-year starters at three offensive line spots and plugged in a potential first-rounder (Cody Ford) at right tackle and an elite recruit (Creed Humphrey) at center. But with Andrews and Flowers gone and a blazing-fast receiver corps having more experience, the Sooners spread their offense out.

So, OU’s strengths were in Murray’s unique skills, the overall run game, and the receivers. (OU had a lot of strengths.)

The Sooners became even more of a play action-oriented team, and Murray was great at making defenses wrong. Run schemes became that much more deadly, because Murray could keep the ball and either hand it off, run it himself, or throw it. They still made time to take play-action shots over the middle to their tight ends and fullbacks …


…as well as a normal assortment of perimeter screens, while also mixing in more opportunities for Murray to take deep shots off play action:


Murray throwing post routes to Marquise Brown off play action was one of the most explosive plays in Big 12 history. It goes up there with Robert Griffin III throwing to Kendall Wright off the power read and the post route tandem of Mason Rudolph and James Washington at Oklahoma State.

The rest of the offense also did a lot for Murray.

Part of what made the unit so special was how long Murray had to find receivers. Between the distraction of the Sooner run game, the superior blocking of the line, the seeming impossibility of successfully tackling Murray, and his arm strength, he was able to wait until the coverage downfield had devolved into man-to-man. Then he could fire:


OU’s passing plays were designed to attack specific coverages and create simple reads and one-on-ones for Murray to aim at. He was less effective when his read wasn’t there, and when defenses shifted late and forced him to re-diagnose coverages after the snap:


Murray wasn’t always good in the pocket, and he relied on his elusiveness to open things up more than than he relied on making quick progressions and reads. But covering all of OU’s receivers and beating that offensive line, then tackling Murray, was just too much.

Oklahoma finished No. 1 in Offensive S&P+, No. 1 in yards per play, and No. 1 in a bunch of efficiency and explosiveness stats. It was one of the best offenses in history.

Murray’s arm, speed, and decision-making ensured that all kinds of schemes to stop him fell short. He even burned the teams that actually beat OU.

A key to the Sooners’ success was that they stressed defenses in two areas at once: the line of scrimmage (via the run game and Murray’s legs) and deep coverage (via good pass-blocking, Murray’s ability to move around, play-action, and a bunch of skilled pass-catchers). The scheme was smart, and Murray’s abilities made it devastating.

The first of OU’s two losses was against Texas in the Red River Shootout. The Longhorns played their 3-2-6 dime package, trying to cover up the deep shots and then rally to the run game. OU’s three RBs that day turned 20 carries into 130 yards — good, but not as explosive as usual. Texas got enough red-zone stops and turnovers to squeeze out a win, despite Murray accounting for nearly 400 yards and five touchdowns. Murray’s so fast that even when your game plan is to stop the run, things like this can happen:

In a rematch at the Big 12 Championship, Texas played a 3-3-5 nickel and focused on stopping the run, trusting DBs to hold up in coverage down the field rather than flooding the deep field with athletes. This time, OU ran 38 times for just 132 yards, but Murray threw for 379 yards and three scores with no turnovers in a Playoff berth-clinching victory.

The last game of Murray’s college career was the Orange Bowl semifinal against Alabama, and Nick Saban opted for a mix of nickel and dime. He kept both safeties deep more often than not, daring Oklahoma to win by beating tighter coverages with quick routes or beating a mammoth defensive line with the run and play action:


Alabama played great defense at the outset and built a 28-0 lead with its own potent offense, but then Murray started finding scrambling lanes, making difficult throws, and hitting receivers way downfield:


Alabama’s defensive game plan ultimately failed as the pass rush wore down. Murray threw for 308 yards while rushing for another 109. Oklahoma’s RBs could only punish the Tide for playing two-deep to the tune of 15 carries for 54 yards, and OU didn’t even really try to run them. But Alabama couldn’t keep Murray under wraps, as he scrambled for yardage or time until the Tide’s deep coverage defaulted to one-on-one matchups.

Alabama won, but Murray carved up the defense, and Oklahoma scored 34. Unless a defense was getting pressure on Murray and clogging his scrambling lanes, he’d find a way to beat it either on the ground or through the air. He was just too good an athlete, working in too much space.

The NFL has changed enough that a smart team could use some of the same tactics Oklahoma used to unleash Murray on the league.

In college, it was difficult to keep Murray out of his comfort zone. It was extremely difficult to corral him as a runner and hold up in the pass game against his arm.

Murray had a clear command of how Lincoln Riley’s extensive offense was creating matchups for his top receivers. If you couldn’t confuse him with disguises, he was going to find those matchups and put the ball in spots where his targets could make plays.

The comfort zone for Murray is where he can use his athleticism to boost the classic formula of using the run to set up the pass. It used to be that NFL teams would accomplish that aim with tall, strong-armed QBs who could see defenses and fire in throws with perfect timing. But football’s changed. The spread is everywhere and has lessened the need for a taller, quick-thinking gunner. Murray’s 5’10 stature is manageable, and his athleticism can open up options not available to every pro offense.

In some conventional NFL offenses, red flags might still go up about Murray’s ability to translate his athleticism and accuracy into consistent and winning production from the pocket. But hold up before worrying about that.

If the team likeliest to draft Murray actually drafts him, that’s not so great a concern. What happens if the Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury can build a spread offense that uses Murray’s athleticism to help create a power run game and then generates matchups down the field?

How much easier might life be for the Cardinals’ maligned offensive linemen if they can leave defenders unblocked for Murray to read in the option? What if the guy they’re protecting is so quick that opponents can’t catch him and wear down trying? What if Murray’s play-action and RPO savvy keeps linebackers frozen a second too long, too often?

Then there’s going to be another precedent people will need to become worried about: How do you stop that in the NFL? Because we didn’t see anyone do it in college.


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Why Kyler Murray can dispel a myth about short QBs

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Murray’s height didn’t doom him to batted balls at Oklahoma, and it shouldn’t in the NFL, either.

So, you think Kyler Murray’s going to struggle in the NFL because he’s short?

Some people think so, based on Murray’s listed 5’10 frame. Being that short puts Murray at risk of having lots of passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, one thought goes. Or maybe he just won’t be able to see over the heads of his offensive linemen.

What happens if he gets drafted by, say, the Jaguars? He’ll see J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney twice a year. Both have 34-inch arms (long, even by NFL standards) and stand over 6’5.

But the fear about Murray’s height doesn’t square with the reality of his game or quarterbacking in general. Consider these numbers from 2018:

Jones is a listed 6’5, Lock 6’4, and Haskins 6’3. Murray, again, is 5’10 (and 1/8!).

Think about why passes get batted down, and the idea that Murray’s at some kind of extra risk falls apart quickly.

For starters, batted passes are most likely to happen on short throws.

The target is closer, so the initial angle of the ball isn’t as high as if you’d need to drive the ball 40 yards in the air, assuming the same velocity for each throw. That’s just geometry:


College Physics

Just lobbing the ball on every throw could get rid of batting concerns. But in football, there are variables, like 300-pound linemen chasing you and holes in a defense opening and closing quickly. The ball sometimes has to get where it’s going fast, so the throw comes out flat and low.

A shorter, lower pass brings a defensive lineman’s arms into the equation — but not in a way that emphasizes the QB’s height.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Boston College
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Of Murray’s five batted passes in 2018, per Pro Football Focus, I’ve grabbed three. All were underneath throws Murray only had to get to travel maybe 10 or 15 yards in the air.

Here’s one against UCLA:


And one against Alabama:


And a different one against UCLA that’s in super slow-mo to illustrate something:


Notice the defensive lineman who blocked this last one. He started moving his hand (white glove on the left) as Murray wound up. He anticipated the throw. Did this pass get blocked because Murray’s short? Or was it blocked because UCLA’s Keisean Lucier-South is 6’4, has really long arms, and knew what was coming? He knocked the pass down with his wrist. If Murray were a few inches taller, the ball probably still would’ve been batted.

On another hand, why didn’t this pass get batted?


Murray had an FAU defensive lineman, who’s at least three inches taller than him, in closer proximity than any those guys who actually batted down his passes.

But Murray was throwing deep — something he’s known to do well — and the launch angle nullified whatever disadvantage might have existed because of his height.

A QB listed as five inches taller than Murray led the NFL in passes batted down in 2018, because this issue doesn’t come down to height.

That list doesn’t account for total attempts. But look at Kirk Cousins, who’s listed at 6’3 and had 2.8 percent of his 2018 passes batted. In one game against the Cardinals, he had six. Cousins’ height didn’t help him when a player two inches shorter blocked this short throw:


His height didn’t help him on this short throw, either, after two of his linemen got split:


Height didn’t help Josh Rosen — who’s listed as an inch taller than Cousins, at 6’4 — get this short pass over a defender:


Being 6’5 didn’t help Blake Bortles — who’s routinely on the list of QBs with the most batted balls — when he threw a ball off his own 6’3 lineman’s helmet, leading to a pick:


Some of Bortles’ problems have had to do with inconsistent mechanics and bad throwing platforms. Well, Murray’s a baseball player with picturesque throwing mechanics.

At Oklahoma, Murray played behind an offensive line that averaged 6’4.2 (standard for a college lineman and about an inch shorter than NFL average), so no worries on that front.

In some situations, there’s only so much any QB can do.

There are ways QBs can try to loft passes with touch to get the job done. Murray can do that:


But there are other scenarios that only call for a bullet, when you’re trying to fit the ball into a tight window with a defender bearing down on your target.

If you’re throwing short and a pass rusher is in the lane, the ball’s just going to get tipped sometimes. It’s even less avoidable if a QB is a borderline statue in the pocket, which you might notice is a theme of NFL QBs who have a lot of passes batted.

If you know anything about Murray’s play, he is very much not a statue. He’s known for taking off on some electric runs, but even his movement inside the pocket creates new passing lanes. A 6’1 former teammate of his at Oklahoma can do that, too.

Whether you’re 5’10 or 6’5, batted balls will happen sometimes.

And occasionally, having a slightly lower release point could lead to it.

But expecting Murray to struggle in particular with batted balls is an example of a red herring about QB play that needs to die.


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Kyler Murray is taller than all of these successful celebrities

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Jokes aside, he’s not necessarily too short to play NFL quarterback. See below.

Actually, Kyler Murray is tall. In fact, he’s officially 5’10.125, per his measurement at the NFL Combine. That means he is taller than actors who have played athletes in the movies, such as Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx, and Tom Cruise.

The controversy with Murray’s height really took off after his final college season when he decided he wanted to play football instead of baseball and OU defended his measurement publicity. He ended up measuring in slightly taller than what they had him listed at. And his height also doesn’t really affect his QB play in the way you might think.

That 5’10.125 number makes him also taller than some Avengers, or at least the actors who play them: Tony Stark (but not Iron Man because the suit is 6’5), Ant Man (the ant-size version, duh), Black Widow, Bruce Banner (but not the Hulk) and maybe Spider-man. He’s also taller than Thor’s bae Jane Foster.

He’s also got a leg up on Pokemon like Charizard, Articuno, and of course Pikachu. And also Harry Potter, as well as every hobbit.

He’s taller than basically every rapper who has ever had the name Lil’ except for Yachty and Romeo. Those include:

Lil’ Wayne, Pump, Baby, Uzi Vert, Kim, B, Boosie Badazz, Bow Wow, Dicky, Duval, Jon (unclear about the Eastside Boyz), Scrappy, Xan.

On the flipside, he’s taller than a few rappers with Big in their names including: Big Pun, Big L, Big Boi, and Big Sean.

Murray’s official measurements prove him taller than some other great musicians: Dolly Parton, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Prince, Cardi B, Paul Simon, Bruno Mars, and Michael Jackson, many of whom have played Super Bowls. If Bruno Mars can make multiple Super Bowls, surely Murray can as well, right?

More things Kyler Murray is taller than:

The average adult American male is 5’9.5, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2007 and 2010. Averages vary by racial and ethnic groups. For example, the average adult non-Hispanic white male is 5’9.8 and the average adult non-Hispanic black male is 5’9.5. The average height of adult Hispanic males is 5’7.1. Among adult Mexican American males — who are also included in the category of Hispanic — the average height is 5’6.9.

Detroit Lions vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • The other short quarterback he’s gonna be compared to a lot.
Doug Flutie
  • And perhaps the greatest soccer player who has ever lived.
Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Copa del Rey Semi Final: Second Leg
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
  • Dunk contest legends:
Spud Webb
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
  • And the current WWE champion.
WrestleMania 30 Press Conference
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
  • He’s taller than everyone in my Twitter mentions thought he was.

I met my boyfriend David on Tinder five months ago, and it was a match made in heaven. He’s compassionate, attractive, and a bombshell in bed. Recently, at our physical, I learned something. David is 5 feet, 8 inches tall. On his Tinder profile, he lists himself as 6 feet. On our first date, I asked him [if he is] really 6 feet. He got agitated and said yes.

I feel lied to and betrayed—why is he so insecure about his height? He takes so much pride in being tall. Always bragging to our friends and acquaintances, commenting how he won’t fit in that car, asking if I need help getting something off the top shelf. When the doctor read off his height I thought I saw his eyes start to swell up. Now he’s attempting to stick his height into every conversation. I have been afraid to bring it up, but this is really bugging me. I see marriage in our future, as we’re both almost 40—but this needs to be settled first.

  • Murray is taller than notable historical figures like Genghis Khan, and basically every person in the bible not named Goliath, whose height did not serve him well at all.
  • He’s taller than all of these former U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter, Millard Fillmore, Harry S. Truman, Rutherford B. Hayes, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, John Quincy Adams, John Adams, William McKinley, Martin Van Buren, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison.

Many of those presidents died before their terms were up, but so did Abraham Lincoln … the tallest president. Also, measuring in at 9 4/8’, his hands are significantly bigger than President Donald Trump’s.

It is a credit to Oklahoma’s strength staff that Murray was able to gain that last 2/8 of an inch over the last few months. College strength programs have truly come a long way in enhancing human performance. Now, Murray can officially play quarterback in the NFL. Had he been measured under 5’10, he’d have been ruled ineligible to play by Roger Goodell.


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Kyler Murray got so good at football that giving up baseball’s money made sense

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Before the 2018 football season, taking the A’s’ money was an obvious financial winner. Now, giving it back is.

Kyler Murray is a full-time football player, picked first overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Draft.

He made that official in February, announcing that he’d devote his time and attention to the NFL Draft — and not to baseball, the sport where the Oakland A’s drafted him ninth overall in June 2018. One of the most scrutinized two-sports decisions ever is now made.

When Murray decided in the summer of 2018 that he was a baseball player, it made all the financial sense in the world.

He was a former five-star QB recruit, but that was a long time prior. Murray went to Texas A&M in the class of 2015, after a run as one of the best high school athletes in Texas state history. He played sparingly (and poorly) and transferred to Oklahoma. He sat out 2016 under NCAA transfer rules. In 2017, he was Heisman winner Baker Mayfield’s backup.

Murray was always ticketed to be Oklahoma’s starting QB in 2018. He was always likely to be good, playing in a spread offense that’s become the envy of the sport. But he was not likely to be a first-round NFL draft pick. Part of it was that he’s not even 6 feet, but a much bigger part of it was that he’d never gotten significant reps as a college QB. Figuring out Murray’s football upside had only gotten harder as the calendar kept flipping.

The A’s gave him a $4.66 million signing bonus and let him play one more season at Oklahoma. Money-wise, signing was the most sensible thing he could’ve done.

Well, now Murray’s a Heisman winner himself, and one of the most electrifying athletes college football has ever had. At the same time, the NFL’s pivoting hard toward the college spread Murray has mastered.

The Sooners got to the Playoff with Murray helming the most dazzling offense in college football. He beat Tua Tagovailoa in an amazing Heisman race. Meanwhile, the NFL’s so enamored with the RPO spread that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, a head coach Texas Tech had just fired, to be an NFL head coach two months later.

So, Murray’s going to be a high draft pick. I suppose it’s possible he falls out of the first round, but I wouldn’t bet on that, and you probably wouldn’t either. SB Nation’s Dan Kadar projects him going 13th overall to the Dolphins, only behind Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins among QBs. Someone’s going to draft Murray high and pay him a lot of money.

Baseball has no salary cap, fewer head injuries, and a more plausible path to riches for most players. But most players aren’t first-round QBs.

Murray’s giving back a lot of dough …

… but he’s positioned to get much more from his NFL team. Baseball would’ve let Murray have nearly $5 million off the hop, sure, but he’d have had to play for almost nothing for a year or three in the minor leagues. Then he’d have had to play for a few hundred thousand dollars a year for his first three full seasons in the majors. Or, he could do this:

If he’s a first round NFL Draft pick, at minimum he’s looking at a four-year, $10 million deal with a $5 million signing bonus up front, based off projections at each pick slot. If he’s a top-10 pick: $17 million, $11 million signing bonus. Rookie NFL deals for first round players are guaranteed for four years.

Here’s the money in the immediate future of each path:

Three years of baseball under his current agreement (excluding the bonus he’s already been given): about $1.66 million (unless he’s so good in his first two years that he’s a special case).

If he’s taken 32nd in the NFL Draft, he’s guaranteed more than that before throwing a pass.

When Murray was a wild card, the only thing to do was to take Oakland’s dollars. Now that he’s nearly a sure thing at the top of the NFL Draft, that’s not the case.

Plus, it seems like football is what’s in Murray’s heart.

“Football has been my life and passion my entire life,” he said in announcing his decision.

Another player who’s faced a similar call, former Oklahoma State QB Josh Fields, told me around the time of Murray’s baseball drafting that whatever the player loves most tends to supersede other factors. The money being what it is makes this much simpler.


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A timeline of how Kyler Murray went from baseball to the No. 1 NFL Draft pick

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In less than a year, Murray was a high MLB Draft pick, won the Heisman, and was picked first in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. But his journey took several other twists before that.

If you were making a way-too-early 2019 mock draft days after the 2018 event wrapped, it wouldn’t have Kyler Murray’s name on it. Not even if you went through all 256 theoretical picks, let alone No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

It only took one brilliant season at Oklahoma to make Murray the most coveted quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft. The Sooners’ star center fielder turned out to be an even greater presence on the gridiron, winning the Heisman Trophy in his lone season as a starter in Norman. Now he joins fellow elite quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw, and John Elway as the first man off the board at the NFL Draft.

So how did we get here? Murray’s transition from MLB first-round pick to No. 1 NFL Draft pick came in fewer than 11 months, but you’ve got to dig a little deeper to get the whole story.

Let’s start with:

May 28, 2014: Murray commits to Texas A&M to play football and baseball

The five-star dual-threat quarterback prospect and elite high school shortstop turned down overtures from college football powerhouses — including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, Clemson, and, huh, Oklahoma — to sign with Texas A&M, where his father Kevin played quarterback in the mid-1980s. He was the third five-star recruit in a loaded Texas A&M class that also featured future NFL players Christian Kirk and Damion Ratley.

Murray’s profile on the diamond wasn’t much lower. The potential first-round pick in the 2015 MLB DraftESPN’s Keith Law ranked him the nation’s No. 34 eligible prospect as a high school infielder — pulled his name from consideration in the MLB Amateur Draft in order to honor his commitment to the Aggies in both football and baseball. Despite this, he’d never take a single at-bat for A&M.

Dec. 24, 2015: Murray declares his intent to transfer to Oklahoma

Murray’s true freshman campaign didn’t go as planned, however. He failed to beat out Kyle Allen for the team’s starting role at the start of 2015, instead seeing the field mainly in wildcat situations. Allen’s struggles led to a promotion late in the season for Murray, but while he’d go 2-1 in games where he threw at least 20 passes, he failed to make good on his five-star potential. He finished his debut season with more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes (five) and had an inefficient 5.7 yards per pass. He’d decide to leave College Station before the Aggies’ Music City Bowl showdown with Louisville.

Choosing the Sooners gave him a partial do-over. While he’d have to sit out the 2016 baseball and football seasons, he’d be back on the diamond in the spring of 2017. It didn’t go well; he batted just .122 with zero extra-base hits and 20 strikeouts in 49 at-bats.

Fall 2017: Murray plays backup again — this time to a Heisman Trophy winner

The presence of another transfer quarterback relegated Murray to second-string status in Norman. One-time Texas Tech walk-on Baker Mayfield locked down the team’s starting role before Murray made the decision to leave Texas. In 2017 he made sure the A&M transfer saw the field in plenty of mop-up situations en route to one of the best seasons in Sooner history.

Mayfield ran to a Heisman Trophy award and the top spot in the 2018 NFL Draft behind a 4,627-yard, 43-touchdown campaign that pushed Oklahoma into the College Football Playoff. Murray still showed off some chops in garbage time of blowout games, however. He finished his first eligible season in Norman with as many touchdown passes (three) as incompletions in a year that showed off his potential as Mayfield’s possible successor.

Spring 2018: Murray’s diamond breakout makes him a top-10 MLB Amateur Draft pick

Murray led his team — Team Adrian Peterson — to a win in the Sooners’ spring game, but his biggest victories came away from the gridiron. He was a star for Oklahoma baseball, batting .296 while finishing second on the team in home runs (10 in 51 games), RBIs (47), and stolen bases (10). The rangy center fielder showed off enough athleticism and potential to convince the Athletics — who also appreciated the MLB bloodlines in his family — to make a reach and draft him with the ninth overall pick.

Murray’s rise wasn’t just predicated on an honorable mention All Big-12 campaign. The once-unsignable high school prospect had made it clear to MLB teams he’d be willing to leave football behind and ink a contract with a major league club. Sure enough, he’d agree to terms with Oakland thanks to a $4.66 million bonus just 16 days later.

But that contract also included a unique exception. While he’d attend spring training with the A’s, Murray wouldn’t spend his August 2018 in the minors. Instead, he’d play one final season of football with the Sooners.

“We have a little vested interest in watching Oklahoma football this year,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin told the press after Murray’s signing. “With our eyes closed and our ears plugged.”

Aug. 22, 2018: Murray beats out Austin Kendall to become Oklahoma’s starting quarterback

This was great news for Murray but much less so for Oakland. A potent preseason put Murray in position to serve as Lincoln Riley’s official Mayfield replacement. After carving Florida Atlantic up for 209 passing yards and two touchdowns on only 11 attempts in the season opener, he dropped his game into high gear for a Week 2 win over UCLA — 375 total yards and five touchdowns.

Sept. 29 – Nov. 3, 2018: Murray wreaks havoc on the Big 12, climbs up Heisman Trophy boards

In a five-game span Murray threw for 20 touchdowns and 1,661 yards while adding 334 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. This was, as experts reported, extremely good.

Dec. 8, 2018: Murray wins the Heisman Trophy

Soon after leading OU to a Big 12 championship and a securing a spot in the College Football Playoff, Murray outlasted Tua Tagovailoa and fellow likely first-round pick Dwayne Haskins to take home the top honor in college football. Despite this, he was still expected to honor his commitment to the A’s.

Jan. 9, 2019: Reports hint that Murray will declare for the NFL Draft

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser broke news that the A’s were expecting Murray to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. That didn’t shut the door on his MLB career, however. Oakland begins to scramble for a way to keep Murray on board — options that include fast-tracking him to the majors.

Feb. 11, 2019: Murray officially declares for the 2019 Draft

Oakland’s efforts were for naught:

The decision means he’d vacate the $4.66 million signing bonus he’d landed with the A’s and pay back the cash already delivered last summer. It also leaves Oakland without any compensation after losing a top-10 pick in the prior year’s draft.

Murray quickly became a staple of mock drafts across the NFL landscape, not least of all thanks to Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s 2018 statement suggesting he’d happily take Murray with the No. 1-overall pick if given the opportunity.

Still, Murray has several questions to answer before he can become the Cardinals — or anyone’s — savior.

Feb. 28, 2019: Murray measures out at 5’10 and 1/8

The biggest knock on Murray coming into the 2019 NFL Draft was his height, as rumors swirled, somehow, that he may be significantly shorter than the 5’10 he’d been listed as on Oklahoma’s official website. Instead, he clocked in at only an inch shorter than Russell Wilson, alleviating some concerns over whether he’d be too small to play quarterback in the NFL.

While he didn’t perform any drills, just being as tall as advertised made him one of the event’s winners.

March 5: Charley Casserly cites the dreaded anonymous source to take a weird dig at Murray

Casserly dialed up his anonymous network of scouts and sources to trash Murray’s leadership, even after a Big 12 championship season in his lone year as a starter at Oklahoma.

Because this came from a man Bill Belichick once described as “usually … 100 percent wrong,” and it was quickly debunked by everyone from Gil Brandt to Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, it had zero effect on Murray’s draft stock.

March 13, 2019: Murray impresses scouts with his throws at Oklahoma’s pro day

More than 80 NFL personnel flocked to Norman to watch Murray in action in March, when he threw a whole bunch of passes but left his 40-yard dash time a mystery — though odds had it pegged somewhere around 4.4 seconds. A solid array of throws and routes — 61 completions on 67 attempts, including at least two drops — only boosted his draft stock.

February-April 2019: The Kyler Murray tour begins

Murray’s pre-draft process spanned more than three months thanks to visits, workouts, meetings, and dinner dates with the following teams:

April 25, 2019: Murray goes No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals

It’s been one hell of a ride for Murray — especially over his last 11 months.


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Instant 2019 NFL draft first round grades

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It’s the year of the defensive lineman … if teams don’t panic and draft QBs too high, anyway…

No. 1 pick: The Arizona Cardinals select Kyler Murray

Too low, just right, or too high? Just right. He’s got by far the highest ceiling among quarterbacks in the draft, period.

There is no doubting who the most statistically impressive quarterback in college football was last season. Murray somehow managed to trump Mayfield’s un-trumpable stats at OU, joining 2015 Deshaun Watson as the only QBs to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. He did it in one fewer game than Watson, too. […]

The drawbacks are obvious here. He is tiny by pro quarterback standards, and he does rely on his running speed to bail him out sometimes. Any player is a risk, really, and Murray’s potentially damning traits are more out in the open than most.

He’s also got the highest ceiling of anyone in the damn draft, and it’s not particularly close.

For two straight years, a short-for-the-NFL quarterback has gone No. 1. I call that progress.

Oklahoma v Texas Tech
Photo by John Weast/Getty Images
Kyler Murray

Five months ago, we thought we were watching Murray’s final football games before he embarked on a baseball career. Really happy we were wrong.


The Heisman winner is probably going to be the No. 1 pick, and most of the dudes college football fans would have called the best players in the sport are going to go really high up! On paper, the 2019 NFL draft feels downright … orderly.

Therefore, chaos will ensue. I hope.

By the way, most of the best players are defensive linemen. If you don’t think you need a linemen, a) you’re lying to yourself, and b) you probably will eventually. Draft the good players.

Stay tuned to this space for live grades of each pick as they happen. The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock.


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Why fans boo Goodell at the NFL Draft every year

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A tradition unlike no other!

There is a general theme to the beginning of all NFL draft proceedings, and it typically persists throughout the first round. As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks on the stage to announce a team’s selection, a curious sound will rain down from the heavens.

The draft was in Philadelphia in 2017. The boos were even more merciless and cascading then they were in New York or Chicago.

Fans in Dallas wouldn’t be shown up in 2018, drowning Goodell in boos.

Here’s a look:

Philadelphia booed Goodell relentlessly on the draft’s first day in 2017 and on the second day, even though Goodell had local legend Ron Jaworski on stage to help him.

They were even on signs in 2018.


And in 2019, the boos were still there, but it appears ESPN did some audio engineering to tamp them down.

This is a rare time to vent your frustration at Goodell

This is one of the few venues that fans can en masse really let him have it. Many times, if he’s at a stadium on a regular Sunday, he’s in a luxury box, and you likely won’t realize he’s there. Pretty much the only time Goodell is out in the open in front of thousands of fans is the draft and the Super Bowl trophy presentation.

To be fair, Patriots fans took that opportunity and ran with it after their team beat the Falcons.

As he walks through stadiums across the country, perhaps you can do some jeering, and it’s always cathartic to yell at him while he’s on TV. But this is thousands of people getting together to just shower him with boos as he stands lonely on stage behind a mic. A lovely torch-and-pitchforks moment for us all.

So why do we boo?

Look, we can all agree that part of our pent-up aggression as it pertains to Goodell has to do with some base jealousy. He has a silver spoon quality as the son of a politician and a lifelong NFL employee. He is the suit-iest of suits. He essentially made a million dollars in salary per franchise in 2015, and that was actually a pay cut from his salary a year before. He is the easy target for any issue you have with the league.

He is the archetype for all of the league’s stuffiness and largesse: from the rules that make the NFL the No Fun League, to the on-field scandals like Spygate, Deflategate, and Bountygate. You got issues with ticket prices, personal conduct suspensions, drug offenses, your team moving, or your team fleecing your city for a new stadium? Exorcise that demon right before he announces the pick.

That also doesn’t even get near the ways the league has bungled serious issues like player safety and domestic violence. He’s on the hook for those, too.

Goodell is the NFL bureaucracy’s public-facing shill (paid by the owners, mind you), so he’s going to bear the brunt of fan frustration. He will hear our boos during the first round of the draft; it’s all we have to battle him with.

But he’s actually not alone in this

Booing commissioners is kinda what we do as sports fans in America.

Hockey fans let Gary Bettman absolutely get it every year at the NHL draft.

Even Adam Silver, who is essentially the “cool commissioner” in American sports, gets some boos. He used to do the second round of the draft before he got the big job, and they were booing him then, too.

To be fair, his predecessor, David Stern, got far worse.

At least Stern leaned into the heel role. Goodell, to his credit, has too, just a bit.


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Nick Bosa has turned into the value play in the 2019 NFL Draft

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Kyler Murray is the favorite, but betting value is on the Ohio State edge rusher.

The 2019 NFL Draft is only a couple hours away, and the No. 1 pick remains a mystery. We had some questions last year before Baker Mayfield news leaked on draft day. This year, we are coming down to the wire and it might not be until close to 8 p.m., if even then, that we know what the Arizona Cardinals have in mind.

The buzz dating back to March has been that they are big on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Back in late December, sportsbooks opened up odds on who would go No. 1, and Murray was second behind Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa.

FanDuel Sportsbook opened Bosa at +100 (even money) and Murray at +120 (bet $100 to win $120). Following the NFL Combine, odds quickly changed and Murray moved into favorite status. He peaked at -1000, which meant you’d have to bet $1,000 to win $100. The Cardinals would not confirm anything and rumors percolated about whether or not Josh Rosen was on the market, but people were happy to bet on Murray until he no longer held value.

Draft day is upon us, and opinions might be changing. Over the past 48 hours, Murray’s odds have increased to -350, which means you now need to bet $350 to win $100. He’s still a sizable favorite, but opinions have quickly changed.

Bosa would seem to be the other option at No. 1, but Quinnen Williams is the player most on the move. He opened at +330 and in late March had shot up to +2000. However, he now sits at +300, moving past Bosa’s +400 odds.

Williams, Bosa, and Murray top most big boards, and the Cardinals want us to think all three are in play.

Murray had little value as a 1-10 favorite, but now that he has come back to Earth a bit, there is some modest value. Considering how much Williams has climbed, Bosa might be the value play at this point.

However it’s going to play out, we’ll know in two hours.


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Putin says he’ll brief US on summit with Kim – The Public’s Radio

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Putin says he’ll brief US on summit with Kim  The Public’s Radio

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin says he’s willing to share details with the United States about his summit on Thursday with Kim Jong Un …


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“trump investigated by the fbi” – Google News: The tacit alliance of militia members and Border Patrol agents is getting out of control – The Washington Post

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The tacit alliance of militia members and Border Patrol agents is getting out of control  The Washington Post

Vigilantism is always a threat to democracy, but these militia videos are especially troubling.

“trump investigated by the fbi” – Google News


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‘Spot and Assess.’ The Intelligence Strategy Behind Russia’s Political Outreach – TIME

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‘Spot and Assess.’ The Intelligence Strategy Behind Russia’s Political Outreach  TIME

A sentencing memo in the case of convicted Russian agent Maria Butina explains how Russians seek to influence U.S. politics.


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“putin won US 2016 election” – Google News: Why did Russia favor Trump? – News – Foster’s Daily Democrat

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Why did Russia favor Trump? – News  Foster’s Daily Democrat

To the Editor: One of the primary conclusions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report was that “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 …

“putin won US 2016 election” – Google News


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“Felix Sater” – Google News: The Press Didn’t Just Report Accurately on Trump-Russia Corruption, It Prevented the Corruption From Being Worse – Slate Magazine

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The Press Didn’t Just Report Accurately on Trump-Russia Corruption, It Prevented the Corruption From Being Worse  Slate Magazine

If anything, the president should be thanking America’s newspapers for not letting him go through with his most collusion-y plans.

“Felix Sater” – Google News


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No NFL Draft result is more fun than your favorite team getting a future 1st-round pick in a trade

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Adding a rookie is cool, but spending a year rooting for another team to be terrible is better.

Just about every year, my favorite team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, disappoints me in the NFL Draft. They’re truly terrible at it. Jalen Ramsey is the only Pro Bowler — or really even a player you can call good — that the Jaguars have picked in the first round in over a decade.

But the Jaguars also let me down another way: I cross my fingers every year that it’ll be the year they trade down and get another team’s future first-round pick. They never do.

That’s not all Jacksonville’s fault. A team can’t unilaterally decide to pick up a future first-round pick in a trade. It takes another franchise so infatuated with a prospect — usually a quarterback — that it’s willing to forgo significant future draft capital to get that player.

But it’d be nice if they finally made that happen, because I just really, really want to spend a whole NFL season rooting against a single team.

I was jealous of Oakland Raiders fans during the 2018 season, who got to spend the year hoping the Bears and Cowboys would fall on their face — even if it didn’t really go that well and both teams made the playoffs.

I was jealous of Cleveland Browns fans a year before that, when they watched the Texans nosedive into a 4-12 season. Houston gave up its 2018 first-round pick to move up for Deshaun Watson and it ended up giving the Browns the No. 4 overall selection. The Browns weren’t in much of a celebrating mood after a winless year, though.

Near the end of that terrible season, SB Nation’s Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature, posted weekly rooting guides that essentially boiled down to Go Whatever-Team-Is-Playing-Houston once the Browns locked up the No. 1 pick.

Give me some of that delicious schadenfreude, please.

Imagine the best case scenario: You get to watch your favorite team have a great year and go to the playoffs, while another team falls on its face and sends your favorite team a top five draft pick. It doesn’t really ever work out like that, but crossing your fingers for that scenario is better than hyping up a rookie.

The Jaguars’ extensive history of whiffing in the draft means they’d probably end up wasting that future first-round pick anyway. But at least it’d be a fun road to get there.


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Why Dawson Knox should be more NFL than he was at Ole Miss

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Knox is a serious tight end talent. In Oxford, he just happened to be surrounded by a whole bunch of serious receiver talent.

Ole Miss had arguably the most talented group of pass-catchers in college football in 2018. D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown are clear early-round picks, and Damarkus Lodge also has a chance to get drafted.

While those three are a dynamic trio, Ole Miss produced another talented pass-catcher in tight end Dawson Knox. But Knox didn’t have the production you would expect from a talented pass-catching prospect, with 15 catches on 28 targets in 2018.

Even though Knox didn’t see too many opportunities in college, he was still pretty efficient with his touches. In 2018 he averaged 18.9 yards per catch.

College production is important, but don’t worry too much about Knox’s. Just watch the tape.

Knox may not have seen the ball all that often in college, but he’s still a pretty talented receiving tight end. Knox can do just about everything when it comes to catching the football. He can make plays in traffic deep down the field, secure tough catches over the middle, and run after the catch.

This play against Vanderbilt — his only catch of the day — shows off his ability to high point the ball deep down the field. Vanderbilt has two defenders in the vicinity, but he’s still able to come down with the ball.


Knox also has the athleticism to create plays after the catch, with solid speed and agility showings at the NFL Combine. This play against Arkansas is a great example:


Ole Miss runs him into the flat, and he gets a great block from Lodge to spring him free for more yards.Knox isn’t a speed demon, but he still has enough juice to make defenses pay when he has a crease.

In the few opportunities Knox did get, he showed off the ability to be a legitimate threat as a passing target.

Which begs the following question.

So … why didn’t Knox get the ball more often?

SB Nation caught up with Knox at the 2019 NFL Combine to try and figure out why a player who is clearly talented wasn’t a bigger piece of the offense.

Knox’s answer was pretty simple: Brown, Metcalf, and Lodge are really, really good.

“Going into the season, I was hoping that it would help me a little more than it did,” a laughing Knox said. “I was like, ‘I got three potential first-round guys — definitely two or three top-two-round guys around me — they’re gonna be doubling those guys, so surely I’ll get the ball more.’ But it was still fun playing with guys of that talent.”

One thing working in Knox’s favor as he projects himself to the next level is the fact that NFL offenses feature tight ends more than the offense he played in during college. He’ll get to run more a more diverse set of routes on Sundays than he did for Rebels QB Jordan Ta’amu.

“Five or six of my 15 catches were on the same route. It would just be a little 12- to 15-yard over route over the middle of the field.” Knox said. “I would be the first read on that, Jordan would find a window and fit it in to me. That was probably my favorite because we ran it the most and I had the most production on those plays.”

Knox’s ability to catch the ball over the middle was on display in the 2018 Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. This pass was a little high, but that didn’t stop Knox from bringing down with two defenders in the vicinity. He wasn’t afraid to get hit by Mississippi State’s safeties, showing the fearlessness you’d hope to see out of a tight end:


Of course, NFL teams had similar concerns about his lack of production in college. Knox said that he was asked about that during his interviews with teams at the combine.

“Yeah, as you can probably imagine, but honestly I’m not even worried about it because I also have enough film to show that if the ball went to me every time I was open, I’d have as high — or higher — stats than anyone here,” Knox said.

“Also I know that offensive systems in the NFL are going to be a lot different. Which is something that people might think is going to be a concern for me because I’m only running five or six routes a year at Ole Miss,” he added. “That’s probably the thing I’m most excited about, getting into a system that utilizes matchups more. Just an extended route tree that’s going to open up a lot more things for me.”

Despite the concerns about his production in college, Knox still looks like a solid NFL prospect. Ole Miss had a lot of mouths to feed in its offense, and he just ended up being an afterthought at times.

Knox’s ability as a receiver should get him on the field early as a rookie. In a class filled with a few stud tight end prospects, Knox could end up being the best of the bunch.


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mikenov on Twitter: Alerta de Google: fbi counterintelligence: How Russia will likely try to interfere in the 2020 elections dlvr.it/R3WMgb

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Alerta de Google: fbi counterintelligence: How Russia will likely try to interfere in the 2020 elections dlvr.it/R3WMgb


Posted by

mikenov
on Thursday, April 25th, 2019 8:43pm

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: 1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (111 sites): “Coney Island Brooklyn” – Google News: Synagogue Dispute Involves Claims Of ‘Hired Goons’ – Forward | The Brooklyn Bridge dlvr.it/R3WMc4

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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (111 sites): “Coney Island Brooklyn” – Google News: Synagogue Dispute Involves Claims Of ‘Hired Goons’ – Forward | The Brooklyn Bridge dlvr.it/R3WMc4


Posted by

mikenov
on Thursday, April 25th, 2019 8:42pm

mikenov on Twitter


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