8 winners and 6 losers from the draft’s 2nd and 3rd rounds

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Who needs the benefit of hindsight? Not us.

After a relatively chill first round on Thursday, the NFL Draft had its second and third rounds on Friday, before teams wrap up with four rounds on Saturday.

We could wait until drafted players actually get onto the field to judge them, but I don’t see the fun in that. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of winners and losers from Friday, based on pre-draft evaluations of players and some other draft-season impressions.

Winner: the Cardinals

They traded Josh Rosen to the Dolphins and got a second-round pick back. They spent that pick on Andy Isabella, a 5’9 receiver from UMass who is a million times better than you’d think based on the description “a 5’9 receiver from UMass.”

Isabella comfortably led FBS with 1,698 receiving yards in 2018 and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the country’s best pass-catcher. He ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and has some of the better agility in the draft. He’s a lot like Keke Coutee, the current Texan and former Texas Tech receiver who shined in new Cards coach Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense in Lubbock. He’s going to catch a lot of balls, and I’m already wondering if he might challenge Anquan Boldin’s rookie receptions record of 101.

I don’t think the Cardinals got good value for Rosen, a top-10 pick all of one year ago. But they had to move him after taking Kyler Murray first overall on Thursday. Trading Rosen keeps the franchise out of an uncomfortable situation, in which the Cards would’ve been divorcing Rosen and moving their new spouse into the house before Rosen moved out.

They also picked Washington cornerback Byron Murphy with the first pick of the second round. As you’d think with that pick, a lot of people saw Murphy as a first-round talent.

Winner: the Jaguars

Jacksonville’s having a really good draft, according to me, a person who spends a lot of time watching college football and thinks the players they’ve taken so far were really good at college football. Landing Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen — the country’s best defensive player in 2018 — at seventh overall was a coup. So was following that up with Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor at No. 35, with the third pick of the second round.

Taylor is a mountain of a man at 6’5 and 312 pounds, which is actually smaller than his playing weight for some of his career in Gainesville. This man is a complete brawler — sturdy in pass coverage, but especially fun to watch on runs. He makes sense for a team that has a likely mediocre quarterback in Nick Foles and could really use to get more out of (so far) disappointing back Leonard Fournette. On both fronts, Taylor will help.

Winner: the Bills

I really like Cody Ford, the tackle the Bills took 38th overall. Ford isn’t a destroyer like Taylor, but he’s a smooth protector who did excellent work safeguarding Kyler Murray and (sometimes) Baker Mayfield the last two years at Oklahoma. (You can read here about how Ford and the rest of Oklahoma’s linemen adjusted to blocking for Murray, a once-in-forever kind of player.) Ford played right tackle in 2018, and the year before, he was merely a depth lineman whom the Sooners listed as a left guard. He should be versatile in Buffalo.

The BillsJosh Allen is a bad passer, and it remains dubious that they took him in the top seven last year. But if you have a QB like Allen with serious accuracy problems, you might as well shield him with stud linemen. He was the second shrewd pick the Bills made, after they got Houston’s game-wrecking defensive tackle, Ed Oliver, at No. 9 on Thursday.

I’m also intrigued by the Bills’ third-rounder, 96th overall pick Dawson Knox. The Ole Miss tight end put up tiny college stats, and it’s unusual that I’d like a player like that. But Knox was a tight end in an offense with a bunch of skill-position weapons, and he’s pretty skilled.

Loser: the Panthers

Carolina made a weird move early in the night, trading up 10 spots from the 47th pick (and also sending its third-rounder, the 77th) to the Seahawks to draft Ole Miss OT Greg Little.

It’s not that Little lacks talent. He has tons of it, actually, befitting the No. 3 overall recruit in the class of 2015. But Little never became a star at Ole Miss, was a mixed bag in NFL Combine testing, and seems to have a long way to go before he’s an above-average pro. Evaluating offensive linemen is hard even for people who’ve made it their life’s work, but the mix of Little’s college struggles and the cost of moving up to get him gives me worry.

Winner: the Panthers

What!? Yes. They drafted West Virginia QB Will Grier 100th overall, three picks before the end of the third round. Grier was the fifth QB picked, but I think he’s likely to be the third-best, following Murray and Haskins. Carolina has a quarterback, obviously, but Grier, who’s from Charlotte, is a great backup option who could develop into more.

Winner: Washington

Pretty simple: Washington took Terry McLaurin 77th overall. The Ohio State receiver is undervalued and could be one of the best players in the whole draft. Plus, he brings a history of effective collaboration with new Washington QB Dwayne Haskins.

Speaking of Haskins, he’s gonna be a happy camper:

This is a bizarre thing to say about an often incompetent franchise, but the Washington front office is really nailing the draft. Other first-rounder Montez Sweat is also a stud.

Loser: the Raiders

This is hard for me, because I have a general rule not to criticize a team for picking anyone from Clemson’s defense. This rule usually serves me well. (See: the last four college football seasons, especially the last one, when Clemson finished first in Defensive S&P+ and beat Alabama by four touchdowns in the national title game.) But the Raiders used the 40th pick on Clemson DB Trayvon Mullen, whom SB Nation’s Dan Kadar ranked 76th in the draft.

Loser: the Lions

The Lions used their second-round pick on Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai. I can’t get behind a team spending the 41st pick on a player who ranked 94th on SB Nation’s board and 237th on Pro Football Focus’. Tavai produced a bunch weak numbers in pass coverage, by PFF’s accounting, and might not bring anything that special other than size. (He’s an impressive 6’2 and 250 pounds, with long arms.) Maybe this will work out well, but it’s not what you’d call a value pick. The Lions spent their other pick, a third-rounder, on Boston College safety Will Harris. That was 81st overall, for a player we have in the 170s.

Winner: the Browns

The Browns didn’t have a first-round pick, because they sent it to the Giants for Odell Beckham Jr. That didn’t stop them from getting LSU’s Greedy Williams, who I thought was the best corner in the whole draft. (Williams was 25th overall on our board and ninth on PFF’s.) It’s like drafting a first-rounder when you don’t have a first-rounder.

The most common knock on Williams seems to be that he’s not a good enough tackler. Frankly, who cares? You can teach someone to tackle what’s in front of him. You cannot teach a 6’2 corner to run a 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds. You cannot teach that player to be agile enough, and jump high enough, to match even the most talented NFL receivers.

Draft for the skill that prevents 40-yard completions, and work on the one that prevents 7-yard completions from becoming 12-yard completions. Williams has the former.

(They spent their third-round pick on BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki, who seems likable.)

Winner: LSU fans who live in Northeast Ohio, assuming they exist

Beckham, Williams, and Jarvis Landry are all now in their neighborhood.

Loser: the Bears

They traded their third-rounder and next year’s fourth-rounder to move up a bit in the third and take Iowa State running back David Montgomery 74th overall. (They got a sixth-rounder back.) Pretty weird move! Running backs are a highly replaceable, and Montgomery was one of the least efficient college RBs of all the regularly talked-about draft prospects. Montgomery is a tough runner and breaks tons of of tackles, but investing so much in him is risky. It requires a belief that Iowa State’s offensive line held him back massively.

Winner: the team that drafted A.J. Brown (i.e. the Titans)

It boggles my mind that Brown lasted until the 52nd pick. He’s an epic talent who did little other than produce while a bunch of chaos unfolded around him over three years at Ole Miss. Brown had three different starting QBs — granted, all of them had talent — and played well with all of them, developing into the best receiver in the SEC. (He didn’t have the best numbers in the SEC, but plop him on Alabama in 2018, and few of us could even imagine the kind of season he’d have had.) He can do whatever Marcus Mariota needs.

Loser: D.K. Metcalf

The other star Ole Miss receiver seemed overrated for much of the draft cycle. He was not nearly as productive as his teammate Brown in college, but he garnered a ton of media hype after he put up absurdly good athletic testing stats in everything except agility drills. There were plenty of mock drafts that had him going in the top 10. Instead, he went with the last pick of the second round, 64th overall to the Seahawks. He’ll have plenty of chances to mount a good NFL career, but his camp will be disappointed he fell so far.

Loser: Anyone having their bachelor or bachelorette party in Nashville, the site of the draft, unless that person has a really good attitude about it

Sometimes, you have to take things in stride.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The best available players after Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

There’s still plenty of good players available on the last day of the draft.

The story of the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft was wide receivers and cornerbacks.

The first two picks of the second round were cornerbacks in Byron Murphy and Rock Ya-sin. Seven cornerbacks in total were taken in the second round.

The wide receivers, meanwhile, fell hard. Then they were taken in a strange order. Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, for instance, ended up being the ninth one drafted after some thought he might be the ninth player overall taken.

Despite the barrage of wide receiver picks on Day 2, there are still plenty available to start Day 3 of the draft. The top player available is Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler. He’s a tall wide out with deep speed but will sometimes drop easy catches.

A bunch of Alabama players are still around too. Safety Deionte Thompson and linebacker Mack Wilson should hear their name called early on Day 3. That’s not all. Defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, edge rusher Christian Miller and cornerback Saivion Smith are also still out there.

Here are the best players available for Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft:

31. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

39. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

42. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S/CB, Florida

43. Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State

47. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

54. Amani Hooker, S, Iowa

68. Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

72. D’Andre Walker, Edge, Georgia

74. Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

75. Gerald Willis, DT, Miami

78. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford

82. Isaiah Buggs, DL, Alabama

86. Christian Miller, Edge, Alabama

89. Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia

90. Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa

91. Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State

92. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M

98. Te’Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame

99. Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State

100. Jamal Davis, Edge, Akron

101. Dru Samia, G, Oklahoma

102. Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida

103. Saivion Smith, CB, Alabama

105. Ryan Finley, QB, North Carolina State

107. Malik Gant, S, Marshall

110. Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky

112. Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota

113. Daniel Wise, DT, Kansas

116. Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston

117. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington

118. Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson

119. Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M

120. David Sills, WR, West Virginia

121. Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

122. Maxx Crosby, Edge, Eastern Michigan

123. Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn

124. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

125. Evan Worthington, S, Colorado

126. DaMarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss

127. Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia

128. Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina

129. Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas

130. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State

131. Michael Jordan, G, Ohio State

132. Gary Jennings Jr., WR, West Virginia

133. Lamont Gaillard, C, Georgia

134. Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas

135. David Long Jr., LB, West Virginia

136. Keelan Doss, WR, Cal-Davis

138. Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn

139. Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR, Texas

140. Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame

141. Penny Hart, WR, Georgia State

142. Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State

143. Mike Bell, S, Fresno State

145. Foster Moreau, TE, LSU

146. Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia

148. Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

149. Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington

150. Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami

151. Johnnie Dixon, WR, Ohio State

152. Byron Cowart, DL, Maryland

153. Devine Ozigbo, RB, Nebraska

156. Albert Huggins, DT, Clemson

157. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

158. Hjalte Forholdt, G, Arkansas

159. Joe Jackson, DE, Miami

161. Stanley Morgan Jr., WR, Nebraska

162. John Cominsky, DE, Charleston

163. Isaiah Prince, OT, Ohio State

164. Ben Powers, G, Oklahoma

166. Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan

167. Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri

172. Michael Jackson, CB, Miami

173. Nate Herbig, G, Stanford

174. Jalen Jelks, Edge, Oregon

175. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

176. Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State

177. Ross Pierschbacher, C, Alabama

178. Tyler Jones, G, North Carolina State

179. Marvell Tell III, CB, Southern California

180. Kris Boyd, CB, Texas

181. Carl Granderson, DE, Wyoming

182. Porter Gustin, Edge, Southern California

183. Tyree Jackson, QB, Kentucky

185. Wyatt Ray, DE, Boston College

186. Ed Alexander, DT, LSU

187. Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern

188. Sutton Smith, LB, Northern Illinois

189. Jalen Dalton, DT, North Carolina

190. Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis

191. Joe Giles-Harris, LB, Duke

192. Donald Parham, TE, Stetson

193. Tyler Roemer, OT, San Diego State

194. Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame

195. Beau Benzschawel, G, Wisconsin

196. Khari Willis, S, Michigan State

197. Ka’dar Hollman, CB, Toledo

198. Ulysses Gilbert, LB, Akron

199. Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn

200. Phil Haynes, G, Wake Forest

201. Trey Adams, OT, Washington

202. Anthony Johnson, WR,

203. Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia

204. Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison

205. Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State

206. Hamp Cheevers, CB, Boston College

207. Jakobi Meyers, WR, North Carolina State

208. Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State

209. Oli Udoh, OT, Elon

210. Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State

211. Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State

212. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

213. Iman Marshall, CB, Southern California

214. Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis

215. Wyatt Ray, DE, Boston College

216. Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame

218. Cole Tracey, K, LSU

219. James Williams, RB, Washington State

220. Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri

221. Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple

222. Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan

223. Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State

224. Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo

225. Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson

226. Bruce Anderson, RB, North Dakota State

227. Justin Hollins, Edge, Oregon

228. Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Ole Miss

229. Martez Ivey, OT, Florida

230. Greg Gaines, DT, Washington

231. Derrick Baity Jr., CB, Kentucky

232. Alec Ingold, FB, Wisconsin

233. Andrew Wingard, S, Wyoming


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

In Will Grier, the Panthers probably got the draft’s 3rd-best QB

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

The West Virginia QB produced elite numbers in college, and he did it in an increasingly NFL-friendly offense.

For most of the run-up to this NFL Draft, Kyler Murray, and Dwayne Haskins were the field’s consensus top two quarterbacks.

And why not? Oklahoma’s Murray possesses ungodly athleticism, and Ohio State’s Haskins has the big frame and big arm to make a career QB evaluator drool. Murray just had one of the best college seasons of all time, beating Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in a historically good Heisman race. Haskins was the third man invited to the Heisman ceremony, because he had the best passing season in Big Ten history.

Otherwise, the class felt like a big jumble. Different evaluators liked different players as their QB3, with Duke’s Daniel Jones and Missouri’s Drew Lock getting attention.

But outside of Murray and Haskins, I don’t think any has as good a chance to be a quality pro QB as the fifth QB picked, West Virginia’s Will Grier, whom the Panthers picked 100th overall, just before the end of the third round.

1. History says you should value college production by QB prospects. Aside from Murray and Haskins, Grier out-produced everyone.

Research from SB Nation’s Bill Connelly shows it’s been close to impossible for QBs to be more efficient in the NFL than they were in college. That makes sense, because beating NFL defenses (even with NFL teammates) is way harder than beating 19-year-olds. Connelly puts Grier in the top statistical tier of 2019 QBs, with Murray, Haskins, and nobody else.

Among FBS passers invited to the NFL Combine, Grier was third in career Marginal Efficiency and Success Rate — numbers from Connelly that assess how efficiently a QB’s throws move his offense. In both, Grier trailed only Murray and Haskins.

If you prefer traditional stats, Grier averaged 9.7 yards per throw in 2018 (fourth in FBS) and had a 37-to-8 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. He was behind Murray in yards per throw and passer rating, but ahead of everyone else in the draft.

2. Grier ran West Virginia’s air raid offense brilliantly. Especially now, the skills he flashed in Morgantown should translate to the NFL.

The air raid is known for juicing the stats of ordinary QBs, and for years — at least until around 2017, when Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes went 10th overall — air raid QBs were consistent flops in the NFL. Despite Mahomes’ epic success and the Rams making a Super Bowl with former Cal air raider Jared Goff, some evaluators still question if air raid systems can translate.

But the NFL is different than it was even three or four years ago. Every team runs some version of a spread offense. The last two Super Bowls have been chock full of college-style schemes. An NFL team put an air raid coach (who’d just gotten fired from Texas Tech) in charge because it wanted his schemes.

That coach, Kliff Kingsbury, comes from the same Xs-and-Os lineage as Grier’s WVU coach, Dana Holgorsen. Both are part of the Hal Mumme and Mike Leach tree. But Holgorsen is not as obsessed with the pass as most other air raid disciples.

Holgorsen’s version of the air raid puts a relatively heavy emphasis on the run. WVU passed on 51 percent of its plays in 2018, while NFL teams passed on 55 percent. The system Grier ran is more NFL-like than the one Leach has at Washington State, which passed on 71 percent of its plays in 2018.

When Grier became WVU’s QB in 2017, the Eers jumped from 69th to 24th in throws per game. Holgorsen decided Grier was worth building an offense around. WVU was 31st in Offensive S&P+ the year before Grier took the field. In 2018, the offense moved to No. 9 in S&P+.

The air raid probably improved how Grier looked in at least one area. Pro Football Focus graded him as college football’s best QB when blitzed in 2018. The air raid prioritizes quick throws behind offensive linemen who are spread apart to force blitzers to take long paths to the quarterback.

But Grier was a standout in ways all his own, too.

Sometimes, the air raid uses quick passes to insulate QBs who don’t throw hard. Yet PFF graded Grier the best QB in the country on go routes and noted his immense success on deep balls:

What Grier lacks in a cannon, he makes up for what accurate ball placement, as on this touchdown loft to David Sills V:


West Virginia played poorly when Grier wasn’t on the field, most notably during a Camping World Bowl loss to Syracuse. Connelly writes:

The whole “system QB” debate has become less useful with former “system QBs” like Patrick Mahomes II and Jared Goff thriving in the NFL, but Grier has seen that label quite a bit. He spent his last two seasons in Dana Holgorsen’s QB-friendly system, with two QB-friendly wide receivers (David Sills V and Gary Jennings Jr.) lined up wide.

When Grier sat out, though, WVU’s production plummeted, suggesting this production was not merely about the system at hand. And he’s got experience and proven pocket presence that neither Haskins nor Murray can match.

He’s proven far more than [Duke QB] Daniel Jones, too. Just saying. But again, he clears the statistical bar. The rest of the scouting report is up to you.

Previously, Grier averaged 7.5 yards per throw as a redshirt freshman at Florida. That’s still one of the best figures by any Gators QB since Tim Tebow.

Oh, and Grier is fun. Sports should be fun.

Behold him running for a game-winning two-point conversion at Texas in 2018, then flashing a perfect Horns Down as he taunts the burnt-orange crowd:

Outstanding technique.

Outside of Murray and Haskins there’s no QB in the draft who produced more in college — or is easier to envision fitting in the NFL — than Grier.

He spent 2017 and ‘18 putting up excellent stats in a system the NFL has spent the last few years becoming increasingly open to emulating. That’s more than most QBs can say.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Khalen Saunders’ Senior Bowl week was about much more than his astounding 320 pound backflips

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Moments after he backflipped for teammates he found out his fiancee was in labor.

Western Illinois’ Khalen Saunders stunned onlookers at Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice when he dropped a backflip you never thought was possible by a 320 pound man.

This isn’t anything new for the Kansas City Chiefs’ third-round pick Saunders, who has been backflipping for YEARS and astonishing onlookers — but this is only part of the story. Moments after this video he received a call from home that his fiancee was going into labor back in Chicago.

“She calls me and she’s like, ‘I’m feeling light-headed,’ and all of this kind of stuff,” Saunders said. “She’s felt light-headed before; it just comes with being pregnant. Next thing I know, I was on Snapchat and I see her in scrubs in the hospital bed. I FaceTimed her immediately, like, ‘Hold on, you said you were feeling light-headed, you didn’t say this.’ She was in the hospital.

Saunders and his fiancee discussed his difficult decision, ultimately deciding he should stay for practices and try to make an impression while he was there. Saunders plans to leave before the Senior Bowl on Saturday, so he can get home to meet his child. Now that’s something to backflip over.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

A.J. Brown can be whatever the Titans need him to be

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White takes a look at the tape to see what Brown can do (everything) and where he can line up (everywhere) in the NFL.

The Tennessee Titans picked Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown 52nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about Brown ahead of the draft:

At 6’1 and 225 pounds, my first thought about A.J. Brown is he looked more like a running back than a wide receiver. But once I saw him running around on the field getting in and out of his breaks smoothly, I quickly realized he is clearly playing the right position.

In the four Ole Miss games of his I watched, he did not run a wide array of routes, but the ones he did run were pretty crisp. It also doesn’t take a whole lot of routes to see that a guy is explosive, and Brown is definitely that.

He was physical when the play called for it, but he also had a good amount of speed and quickness to to go along with his strength and power. His run-after-the-catch ability was particularly impressive in that he showed he can break tackles, but, given just a little bit of space, he also showed that he can break ankles.


In addition to his ability to make something happen after the catch, Brown also showed he is a legit deep threat, especially with how he can track and catch back-shoulder fades.

He isn’t super tall, but he knows how to use his body to shield off defenders, and he uses his hands to push off just enough to put him in position to at least have a chance at hauling in most 50-50 balls. He will never be confused with a straight speed guy like a Tyreek Hill, but there are other ways to get big yardage down the field than just running by everybody.

The bonus you get with a guy like Brown is that he doesn’t have to catch deep balls to make a big impact on an offense. The truth is when he caught the ball short, the party was usually just getting started.


Of course Brown likely will have to sharpen up his route running a little as he transitions to playing receiver at the next level, but that’s not going to be that big of a deal in my estimation. The offense he was in at Ole Miss simply didn’t call for a lot of precision. It was more about dudes getting open by any means necessary, and Brown was pretty damn good at that.

At the same time, I don’t want to give the impression that he was a “bad” route runner either, because he wasn’t. Of the routes he was asked to run, he looked pretty good running all of them. He had particular success running comeback routes in the games I watched. He had a knack for getting open with that route against all different kinds of coverage, and that should carry over well to the NFL.

I would have liked to have seen him run a few skinny posts, deep out routes, and deep over/sail routes, but I don’t think he will have much problem running any of those when he gets to the league. He just wasn’t asked to do it — at least not in the four games I used for this breakdown — but he certainly looks to have the physical ability to run them all.

Brown can do a little bit of everything, from anywhere.

One thing I really liked about Brown’s film is that I was able to see him working from both out wide and in the slot. I don’t have to guess whether or not he could fit at either spot because I have seen him do it now, and thus I have no doubt that he has the ability line up and play well wherever a team wants to put him.

With his size, the fact Brown looks as comfortable lining up all over the place makes him an even more attractive prospect to me because of that versatility. For instance, you can insert him as the slot receiver and use him in the running game in a way you normally can’t with a smaller, prototypical slot receiver. I wouldn’t say Brown was a dominating blocker from the tape I watched, but you don’t have to necessarily be dominant to be effective.

If he is facing a bunch of smaller nickel corners, I’m pretty sure with his size he can block those guys up and seal the edge without giving up much, if any, ground. You don’t draft a guy high primarily for his blocking ability, but it can certainly be a plus. And it could help impact how a defense chooses to play when he is in the game.

If Brown is kicking the nickel corner’s ass in the run game, the defense could counter by trying to keep a linebacker on him instead. That could create a huge mismatch in the passing game all day in Brown’s favor. And, to be clear, I think Brown against most nickel cornerbacks in the passing game would be a physical mismatch in Brown’s favor, too.

Keep in mind, he doesn’t have to play inside at the slot either. Brown looks perfectly capable of winning consistently from out wide. He is physical enough and quick enough to win at the line of scrimmage, and fast enough and quick enough to get open against most cornerbacks. But, as I have said before, it’s not like there are a lot of teams playing a ton of press coverage these days, anyway. Brown can play wherever a team wants to line him up; it’s just a matter of how it decides to use him.

Another positive attribute I saw on Brown’s tape was that he also has pretty good hand-eye coordination. He usually did a great job of tracking the ball in the air and putting himself in the best position to try to come down with it. He wasn’t always able to haul those passes in, but he didn’t have a single drop in those four games I watched and that was very impressive.


So you have a guy in Brown who can have plenty of success on downfield throws, who can also turn a 5-yard slant into a 30-yard gain in a hurry, and who also happens to have some pretty sure hands. That’s a hellafied combination for a wide receiver if you ask me!


There are two weaknesses he needs to clean up in the NFL.

Of course that doesn’t mean there aren’t some concerns with Brown.

For one, he appeared to almost always carry the ball in his right arm, even when he was running up the left sideline. That little “quirk” allowed one team to force him into a fumble, and I saw several times when players were grabbing at the ball, too.


Brown was fortunate to be able to recover that one fumble himself, but he has to be able to secure the ball in his left hand when he is on the left sideline, or he is going to end up painting a big-ass target on his back.

Carrying the ball in your outside hand not only usually allows the offensive player to use their off hand to ward defenders off, it also makes it so that if the ball is fumbled it will usually go out of bounds. When you carry the ball in your inside hand and it gets knocked out, there is a better chance of it staying in the field of play where the defense can recover it.

Defensive players are going to be chomping at the bit to try to punch the ball out every time they see Brown running with the ball in the “wrong” hand. It is probably something he has always done since he was a kid, but if he starts fumbling early his team is going to have a big issue with that. Poor ball security can get damn near anybody benched, and it also could negatively affect Brown’s confidence.

I’m also a little concerned about Brown’s ability to make contested catches on shorter routes. There were several plays that I saw where when he had a guy draped over him, or a guy driving on the ball on routes that didn’t go more than 15 yards down the field, and his hands weren’t as steady as I would have liked.

For him to be a serious threat from the slot, Brown will have to make a lot of catches with a guy right on him, or with a guy driving on the throw to blow him up. That’s just the life of slot receivers, especially with all the crossing routes they usually run. Nobody is going to make all of those kinds of catches, but the top ones will find a way to come down with their fair share of them.

I’m not even sure that whichever team that drafts Brown will use him in the slot a lot, but if it does, that is something he will probably need to improve on.

Brown is better than his stats — and even those are good.

Even with those concerns, I still believe Brown will be a top-notch playmaker in the NFL after watching his tape.

I actually thought he outplayed his numbers in those four games. As is almost always the case with wide receivers, he was only able to make as much of an impact as his quarterback gave him a chance to, and, unfortunately, Ole Miss’ quarterback wasn’t the steadiest guy I’ve ever seen in the pocket.

There were quite a few plays where Brown appeared to be wide open and his quarterback either went elsewhere, or just pulled the ball down and tried to run with it instead of trying to get the pass off.

Now with Ole Miss’ roster of receivers it was hard to be mad when the ball went to other guys because they, somehow, had a bunch of ballers on that squad at the position. But it was pretty frustrating to watch several occasions where receivers were open, including Brown, and the quarterback simply decided not to try to throw it to any of them with as much talent as he had around him.

I can’t imagine how it must’ve felt to be an Ole Miss fan watching that last season.

Thankfully this breakdown is not on the quarterback, but I did feel the need to add context to Brown’s level of production. Don’t get me wrong: 29 catches and two touchdowns in four games is not too shabby at all. Neither is the 1,320 receiving yards he totaled for the season. However, after seeing what Brown was able to do with the opportunities he was given, I just really believe with more targets his numbers would have been silly. Maybe in other games they were feeding him, but it never felt like they were really trying to get Brown the ball in any of the games that I watched, and a lot of that fell on the quarterback.

There’s a former NFL receiver Brown resembles: Anquan Boldin.

On another note, I’ll tell you who Brown reminds me of on the field and that’s a young Anquan Boldin. I felt that way before I googled Boldin and saw that he was listed at almost mirror image dimensions of Brown at 6’1 and 220 pounds. I believe Brown can have a similar kind of physicality to his game as Boldin, but I will also point out that Brown looks like he might be a hair faster than Boldin on tape.


Brown still has a way to go to show me he has the kind of hands Boldin had in terms of making tough catches in traffic, but the potential is all there for Brown to have a Boldin-type impact in the league, barring injury.

In case you have already forgotten, Boldin went for over 1,000 yards and had seven or more touchdowns in seven different seasons in the NFL. Again, I’m not saying Brown is definitely going to be who Boldin was, but he definitely has the potential to be that.

And then some.

No matter when he’s drafted, Brown has a high NFL ceiling.

Because he is the first receiver and only the second draft profile I have done so far this spring, I can’t really say where Brown fits in the hierarchy of other prospects in this draft, both in general and at his position. But what I can say is that he checks pretty much every box for me. I see a guy with a ton of potential, and the only knocks I have on him should be relatively easy to fix.

With the kind of skillset Brown brings to the table, as well as with the impressive plays he put on tape, he is without question a first-round talent as far as I’m concerned, and I would say that in most years he would probably be worth at least a pick somewhere around the middle of the first round.


I see Brown as at least a guy who can lead his team in catches and touchdowns by his second or third season in the league. There are already so many talented young wide receivers in the league that it’s hard to project Brown as a definite Pro Bowler or All-Pro player, but I do think he will be putting up those kinds numbers by that time as well.

I really can’t wait to see his game expand in the pros, and I hope he goes to a team that has a decent quarterback who will give him a chance to show all that he can do.


For the purposes of this article I watched A.J. Brown play against Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt. Those represented the third, eighth, 10th, and 12th games on Ole Miss’ schedule last season, respectively.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Patrtiots’ Joejuan Williams is the NFL’s next Richard Sherman

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

The 6’4 Patriot could be the league’s next great “big” cornerback.

As far as “big gets” go for Vanderbilt football, Joejuan Williams was one of the biggest. The in-state blue-chip prospect was the prize of Derek Mason’s 2016 class, a four-star recruit who chose the Commodores despite overtures from Alabama, Penn State, LSU, Oklahoma, and bitter rival Tennessee.

Williams is now a member of the New England Patriots, selected 45th overall, in the second round of the NFL Draft.

The 6’4 cornerback lived up to his stature in three momentum-building years in Nashville. He turned his side of the field into a part-time graveyard, leaving opposing wideouts tiptoeing through his coverage with held breath and understated reverence. While his numbers don’t scream “elite” on the surface — he didn’t record an interception until his 23rd game at Vanderbilt — his ability to nullify other team’s top receiving threats will make him a commodity at the next level.

And now, with the 2019 NFL Draft less than 20 miles from his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, he’s ready to face a whole new set of lofty expectations. While Williams wasn’t the first cornerback to hear his name called at this year’s draft, he could be the one who puts together the strongest pro career.

Williams is a near-perfect specimen for teams in need of a “big” cornerback

Williams is a press-coverage monster who rolled his top statistical season — 61 tackles, four interceptions — into a place in the top half of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s a physical, route-stifling presence who won’t get outjumped and who is capable of completely erasing scoring threats in the red zone.

The easiest comparison to make with Williams is Richard Sherman — another tall cover-corner who played under Mason (currently Vandy’s head coach, formerly Sherman’s DBs coach at Stanford) and came into the league facing questions about his athleticism and coverage ability. Here’s what NFL.com had to say about the three-time All-Pro’s weaknesses the spring before he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round:

Can be baited out of position when in zone and a tick late to diagnose underneath routes. Tall, high-cut prospect who displays some hip-stiffness. Not explosive when transitioning or when changing direction. Lacks great recovery skills when beaten off the line. Can struggle tacking in the open field at times.

And here’s a sampling of what the league’s official scouting report said about Williams’ issues as a pro:

– Impatience from press is a concern

– Displaced out of position by outside release fakes

– Needs better connection rate with jams

– Lacks hips and long speed to survive a speedster’s head-start

– Downfield ball skills need work

Pretty similar! And while Williams certainly needs to refine his coverage skills, he was a fast learner en route to becoming the leader of the Vandy secondary. Mason moved his star cornerback across the lineup and in several different coverages in order to confuse opposing quarterbacks, lining him up on the sideline, in the slot, 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, and in close quarters for press coverage.

That last bit is where Williams will likely see the most use in the NFL thanks to his size, but his three years in Nashville showcased a versatile corner who can handle any assignment given to him.

SEC teams understood this. Jordan Ta’amu threw for more than 450 yards in his 2018 matchup against the Commodores, but he rarely even looked at Williams’ side of the field in the process. Wherever Vandy’s top corner was, Ole Miss deliberately shifted its offense to the other side of the field. The Rebels didn’t throw to anyone Williams had one-on-one coverage with until the fourth quarter of that game — and the play ended in a breakup.

DaMarkus Lodge eventually scored a touchdown in press coverage against Williams, but he needed a perfectly thrown ball and a circus catch to do so:


Williams is also a strong tackler, adding plenty of value against the run as he developed in Nashville. His big frame helps him shed blocking wideouts relatively easily, and he’s solid enough to bring down faster backs along the edge or blast between the hashes and ruin power back’s runs, too.

So why didn’t Williams get more Day 1 attention?

The biggest knock on Williams is a lack of elite top-line speed. His name faded away from the tail end of mock drafts early in March after his 4.64-second 40-yard dash time underwhelmed at the combine. He rectified that performance with a 4.50-second split at Vandy’s pro day weeks later, but it still casts a shadow across his overall draft profile — especially with faster corners with gaudier stats (LSU’s Greedy Williams, Washington’s Byron Murphy) available.

His play was mostly outstanding at Vanderbilt, but he also proved to be a boom-or-bust player in press coverage. There were certainly moments where he got overzealous in his course correction after making a mistake early in a play.


There’s some benefit to that — in that worst-case scenario you want a guy being aggressive and hoping the referees don’t notice rather than just getting burned — but it’s going to lead to a lot of flags in Williams’ rookie year. He also had several plays where he kept up with faster receivers downfield but failed to get his head back to the line of scrimmage to make a proper play on the ball, leading to both big plays and penalties downfield.

Despite contributing immediately in Nashville, Williams is still growing at the position. He’ll go from watching quarterbacks avoid his side of the field at Vanderbilt to get picked on immediately by veteran passers.

He should be able to hold his own, even as a rookie, but there will be a learning curve in the NFL.

So where does Williams fit?

SB Nation’s own Dan Kadar has Williams ranked No. 80 on his big board, which would project the Vandy product as a third-rounder. The NFL also sees him as a Day 2 pick, and he’ll be attending the festivities in his de facto hometown with his family when he learns what the next chapter in his football career holds:

His sliding draft stock means nearly every team in the league should have the opportunity to add him (sorry, Chicago). But teams with major, glaring needs at corner are more likely to take a more highly regarded prospect in the first round rather than hope Williams falls to them on Day 2. That could mean the Steelers and Raiders could have met their coverage needs before the second round.

So who’s left in the second wave of CB-deficient clubs? The Colts could use someone across from the newly re-signed Pierre Desir, and they’ve got a pair of second-round picks. The Chiefs were a candidate to take a cornerback in the first round until they traded that pick away in the deal for Frank Clark. Now, their first pick comes at No. 61 (and their second at No. 63).

The Bills have bigger holes to fill than cornerback in the first round, but Williams would be an outstanding complement to fellow former SEC star Tre’Davious White on Day 2. The Texans are hoping Bradley Roby will fix their secondary issues in 2019, but they’ll also be in the market for cornerback help throughout this year’s draft.

The Cowboys are interested, even if their social team isn’t exactly sure who Williams is:


(That’s a picture of tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn.)


Williams needs to be fine-tuned, but concerns about his athleticism are overblown. At his core, he’s a massive cornerback who runs well enough to keep up with deep threats while blocking out the sun in the red zone. There will be an adjustment period as he adapts to another tier of competition, but his ability to shut down his side of the field against teams like Mississippi, Kansas State, South Carolina, and Baylor showed just how valuable he can be.

Williams wasn’t a combine standout, but his three-year body of work at Vanderbilt and his fearlessness when it comes to negating whomever he’s assigned to make the Sherman comparisons apt. If he can level up his bump-and-run coverage game, he’ll be a game-changing force in the NFL.

And if he can’t, he’s still a massive cornerback who covers well enough near the line of scrimmage to completely derail opponents after they cross into field goal range.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Why the Bills’ Cody Ford is the future at right tackle

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Retired defensive end Stephen White was eventually won over by Ford, who could end up as the best tackle in this draft class.

The Buffalo Bills picked Cody Ford 38th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about Ford ahead of the draft:

I will admit it took a while for Cody Ford to grow on me.

See, not that long ago it used to be that left tackles were supposed to be the “finesse” guys, while right tackles were supposed to be your “maulers.” A lot of that stemmed from the fact most teams wanted a guy at left tackle who could pass block out on an island all by himself against what was usually the opposing defense’s best pass rusher.

On the other hand, because most teams favored running the ball to their right, they usually looked for a “road grader” type run blocker for their right tackle, knowing that they could help him out with tight end bumps and running back chips when it came time to throw the ball.

Obviously times have changed.

The NFL is undoubtedly a passing league now, and more and more teams are starting to open up their playbook. That means more guys out into routes, and fewer guys staying in to help with pass protection.

Couple that with the fact we are living in somewhat of a golden era of pass rushers who like to line up on the defense’s left edge, and it’s clear that your right tackle better be able to hold his own as a pass blocker or your quarterback had better be some kin to Houdini.

What took me a while to come around on Ford was the fact I still have somewhat of that old-school mentality when it comes to right tackles, and I had to check myself on it. He is a big guy at 6’4 and almost 330 pounds, but Ford was not a physically dominating presence when it came to run blocking, and initially that was somewhat of a disappointment.

Which is not to say Ford was a bad run blocker.

The truth is, assignment-wise at least, he looked at least solid, if not spectacular. However, he just didn’t have the same initial “pop” on contact that jumps off the screen as, say, a guy like Jawaan Taylor.

Ford also didn’t drive a lot of guys off the ball, either. Mind you, he rarely lost ground after he engaged with a defender, but there just weren’t a lot “explosive” run blocks on his tape.


But you know what, after reflecting on it, I don’t really care all that much about whether or not Ford was pancaking fools left and right. Yeah, that would’ve been nice, but I can live with him being just an “OK” run blocker, because when it came time to throw the ball he was putting clamps on these dudes.

Ford’s grasp can frustrate the hell out of pass rushers.

Ford wasn’t flashy, but damn if he wasn’t effective as hell at shutting down edge rushers of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. It all started with how consistent he was with his footwork.


He was always able to get just the right amount of width and depth on his initial kick step, and Ford rarely overset no matter how wide the edge rusher lined up.

That consistent kick step of his allowed Ford to intercept speed rushers before they could turn the corner. It also allowed Ford the ability to recover if that edge rusher tried an inside move instead.

After he got that initial kick step in, Ford was good at mirroring his opponents.

He was able to shuffle laterally quickly without crossing over his feet, and wherever the edge rushers went, Ford stayed on them like their shadow. He was also efficient with his movements, always staying under control and on balance so that he could easily change directions.


In addition to Ford’s impressive footwork, he was also great with his hands. He was patient with his punch, choosing only the most opportune times to strike with them.

When he did get his hands on his opponents, Ford usually locked onto them like he had vise grips for fingers and refused to let go. Whenever Ford was able to grab hold of a guy, the play was pretty much over for him. Trust me, nothing is more demoralizing for a pass rusher than being stuck on a block you can’t get off of.


In the four games of his I watched, I saw plenty of frustrated pass rushers try, and fail, to loosen themselves from Ford’s clutches once he got his hands on them.

There are some NFL linemen who could learn a thing or two from Ford.

But it wasn’t just Ford’s punch or grip that impressed me about how he used his hands in pass protection. He also has already learned how to chop down on a pass rusher’s arms before that pass rusher can try to do a power rush, like a bull rush or a long arm, on him.

The first time I saw him do it I had to rewind the tape a few times just to make sure I wasn’t tripping. There are starting NFL offensive tackles who either don’t know how to do that, or aren’t comfortable enough with the technique to try it in a game. Yet here was this kid mixing it into his regular repertoire, and looking quite good while doing so.


I was also very impressed with Ford’s ability to pass off stunts and pass-rush games. He never seemed to be taken off guard when pass rushers tried to switch lanes, and he almost always smoothly transitioned into blocking the next guy when it happened.

Ford’s remarkable mix of premium talent and technique was accentuated by the fact that he plays like a savvy veteran. The guy looked like he was born to pass block, and he was only beaten two times in four games.

By the way, this sack against Alabama was not one of them. Ford had his guy blocked pretty well, but the quarterback just basically ran himself right into the sack.

But I digress.

Both of the times he did get beat were on moves where the defender was able to swat his hands away. That is going to happen sooner or later, even to the best of blockers; however, only one of those two plays resulted in an actual pressure for the defender.

In four games the only pressure of any kind Ford gave up was the other sack in the Alabama game that wasn’t really a sack. The quarterback managed to stay off the turf as the replays showed, but the refs had already blown their whistles, which means it went down as a sack anyway, unfortunately for Ford.


Regardless, only giving up one pressure in four games is still kind of amazing.

He is a “just enough” guy — and that’s not a bad thing.

In this day and age, you can’t stick a right tackle out there to protect your $20 million-per-year quarterback if he can’t pass block. The offenses are too wide open, and, as I mentioned before, the dudes rushing off the left edge are too good. Going by that criteria, Ford is probably more ready to start right now than Taylor, even though Taylor showed more flashes of dominance.

Let me go back to Ford’s run blocking for a second, though. He may not have been dominant, but he wasn’t some slappy out there, either. He was more of a position blocker, and he was pretty good at making sure the guys he was blocking couldn’t get where they wanted to go.


While it’s true that he didn’t rack up a bunch of pancakes, Ford was routinely what I would call a “just enough” guy. He would get just enough push on the defender to give the ball carrier a lane to work with. Those kinds of blocks aren’t as exciting to watch, but as long as they’re effective, that’s all that truly matters.

I also want to point out that while Ford wasn’t freight-training guys on the second level like Taylor, once he got on somebody at linebacker depth, he usually stayed on them for the duration.

As a matter of fact, some of his best blocks were out in space where his athleticism was able to shine through yet again.

Oklahoma definitely tried to put that athleticism to good use in the run game. The Sooners had him pull across the formation an astounding 22 times over the course of four games.

I rarely see guards with that many pulls in four games.


But a tackle? Damn near unheard of.

But here’s the thing … he wasn’t really all that good at it.

I mean, he was quick enough and fast enough to get across the formation, usually, but once he actually got there, things frequently tended to take a turn for the worse.


And yet Oklahoma just kept right on asking him to pull over and over again.

Well, hey, the fact he is athletic enough to pull is certainly a plus and not something you see from a right tackle every day. A good offensive line coach should be able help a guy like Ford clean up his mechanics at the end of a pull so he is in better position to actually make a block once he gets where he is going.

He looked fine running out and blocking people on screens, after all.

So while Ford isn’t going to knock guys five yards off the ball, a creative coach should be able to pair Ford’s ability to move in space with some innovative run schemes. The kinds of plays you couldn’t run with an old-school, road grader type of right tackle.

Ford could represent the NFL’s future at right tackle.

Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford could slide over to left tackle and hold up well over on that side, too.

I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but with the way he pass blocks, I could seem him being able to do it.

That kind of versatility is very valuable and uncommon in offensive tackles.

Usually it’s the other way around — trying to move guys not good enough to play left tackle over to the right side — but I wouldn’t be shocked if it went the other way with Ford.

To be clear, I’m not saying it’s likely. I just think he has that kind of potential as a pass blocker especially.

With the way the NFL continues to evolve, a guy who is more athletic than powerful like Ford at right tackle will probably soon become the norm. If your OC wants to send five eligible receivers out on a route almost every play, then your right tackle is going to have to be able to block an edge rusher on his own, period. Nobody is going to give a damn how many pancakes that guy has if he keeps letting Von Miller run through your quarterback’s chest.

Yes, it took me a few times watching his tape before I came to really appreciate Ford’s play, but now I am completely sold on the guy.

With his ability to protect the passer, his athleticism as run blocker, and his potential to play at either tackle spot, Ford looks to me like a guy who should be drafted in the top half of the first round in a few weeks.

He may well end up being the best tackle to come out of this draft class.


For the purposes of this breakdown, I watched former Oklahoma right tackle Cody Ford play against FAU, UCLA, West Virginia, and Alabama. Those represented the first, second, 12th, and 14th games on Oklahoma’s schedule last season, respectively.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Gut reactions to the NFL Draft’s 2nd and 3rd rounds

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Day 2 of the NFL Draft is upon us, which means it’s time for this year’s second tier of prospects to have their moment in Nashville. After an eventful and somewhat baffling first round, Friday’s nights selections should feature plenty of wide receiver talent, an eventual landing zone for presumed first round talents like Drew Lock, Jawaan Taylor, and Byron Murphy, and what we can only assume are six different trades from the New England Patriots.

Here are all the reactions we had for picks that hit the board in rounds two and three. It’s not quite grades, and it’s not a draft tracker — but here are all the selections that got us stirring Friday night.

Round 2

Cardinals select CB Bryon Murphy (33rd overall)

Arizona gets high-level player who can provide some insurance should Patrick Peterson eventually get traded. Also, Mike Bibby is his uncle, so don’t be surprised if he shows up absurdly jacked to training camp in some upcoming season.

Jaguars select OT Jawaan Taylor (35th overall)

Over half of the 71 mock drafts we surveyed had the Jaguars taking Jawaan Taylor with the No. 7 pick.


Nobody was really surprised when they passed though, because not many people thought they’d be able to get Josh Allen. But Taylor all the way at No. 35? Woo buddy, that’s some value.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Vlad Jr. is finally in the majors, where he belongs

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

The long awaited arrival of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to the major leagues has finally come, with the Blue Jays star and son of a Hall of Famer making his big league debut for Toronto on Friday night.

Still just a month after turning 20 years old, Guerrero played third base and batted fifth for Toronto against the A’s.

The consensus top prospect in baseball, Guerrero was very likely ready to test his mettle against major league competition and some point in 2018, but was kept in the minor leagues thanks to a systemic incentive to manipulate service time.

“Our vision, it really comes down to development,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told MLB Network Radio in February. “I just don’t see him as a major league player.”

Just 25 games into the season, all of a sudden Guerrero is a major league player. How convenient the timing.

It was painfully obvious that Guerrero was going to be held down on the farm to start 2019 as well, at least until April 12. That’s the date after which there isn’t enough time left in the season to accrue the necessary 172 days for a full year of service time. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, players don’t qualify for free agency until they reach six years of service time. By gaming the system and waiting a few weeks, a potential star-type can effectively be in the majors for seven years instead of six before reaching the free market. For Guerrero, that means not reaching free agency until after the 2025 season instead of 2024.

It happened to Kris Bryant in 2015 with the Cubs, and again with Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2018 with the Braves. It would have happened with Guerrero this year too but an oblique injury during spring training took that decision out of the Blue Jays’ hands.

This trend might be corrected with the next CBA, but the current agreement runs through 2021. So for now we are stuck with a flawed system that rewards major league teams for not fielding their best rosters.

Major League Baseball has been running ads this season pleading to “Let the kids play,” yet until players like Guerrero, Acuña, Bryant and others are not artificially shackled, those words ring hollow.

Father & son

In eight games in Buffalo this season, Guerrero was 11-for-30 with three home runs, hitting .367/.424/.700. It’s par for the course for the hitting savant, who hit .343/.416/.593 in 38 games at Triple-A and hit .331/.413/.531 overall in his four minor league seasons.

The bat is what sets Guerrero apart, and the hype surrounding his arrival in the majors has grown to the point where even his batting practices are must watch, even before his very first major league game.

Guerrero was called up on Friday, with infielder Richard Ureña optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to make room on the active roster as well as set Urena up as the answer to a trivia question decades from now. Guerrero wears No. 27, just like his father, who hit .318/.379/.553 with 449 home runs in a spectacular 16-year career that saw him make nine All-Star teams and win an MVP.

Vlad Sr. was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2018. Vlad Jr. entered the stadium in Toronto on Friday wearing his dad’s old Expos jersey.

The elder Guerrero batted sixth in his major league debut, back on Sept. 19, 1996, going 1-for-5 against the Braves.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Pete Buttigieg Considering Attending Candidates’ Forum Organized by Iowa’s Most Notorious Homophobe

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Pete Buttigieg is reportedly thinking about attending the Family Leadership Summit, an election year candidates’ forum on religion and politics organized by Iowa’s most notorious homophobe.

You may recall the forum’s organizer, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, as the Iowa conservative behind the campaign to oust pro-equality state Supreme Court justices back in 2010, or the guy behind a failed boycott of Starbucks over its pro-LGBT policies a few years back, or perhaps the activist charged with selling his 2012 presidential endorsement (which eventually went to Rick Santorum). 

But Vander Plaats is arguably best known for his group’s anti-gay, vaguely pro-slavery “marriage pledge” that was used in a (failed) attempt to get the most extreme social conservative elected as the party’s nominee in the 2012 election. 

Vander Plaats told NPR he’s sending invitations to Democrats for the first time: Kamala Harris; Pete Buttigieg; Elizabeth Warren; Joe Biden; Bernie Sanders; Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker.

An O’Rourke spokesman told NPR that Beto will not attend because of the organization’s homophobic past: “Vander Plaats and the Family Leader have unapologetically provided a forum for dangerous anti-LGBTQ hate speech on numerous occasions. They are the antithesis of the unifying, inclusive, welcoming atmosphere that our campaign prides itself on in Iowa and across the country. We will not be participating in this forum.”

But Mayor Pete just might: “A spokesman for Buttigieg, who was criticized by a prominent conservative Christian leader this week for being gay, said he would consider attending.”

NPR adds: ‘Vander Plaats is a controversial figure, who has been regarded as a kingmaker among white evangelicals in Iowa, where the conservative Christian vote is a vital voting bloc for Republicans.’

The post Pete Buttigieg Considering Attending Candidates’ Forum Organized by Iowa’s Most Notorious Homophobe appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Lauv, Joe Biden, Bastille, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mariia Butina, Bernie Sanders, ‘Daddy’, Gay Magazines, Chickendales: HOT LINKS

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

JOE BIDEN. Former vice president Joe Biden appeared on The View in his first appearance since launching his campaign and touched on his age (“It’s a legitimate question to ask about my age… If [Trump] looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.”) , the inappropriate touching allegations, and Anita Hill: “I’m sorry she was treated the way she was treated.”

HACKED MATERIALS. Trump’s reelections campaign won’t say it won’t use them: “Trump campaign representatives did not respond to several inquiries this week seeking its policy on purloined material, nor did White House officials. Their silence has fueled concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election, which escalated after Trump’s personal attorney suggested that using stolen items might be appropriate.”

CHICKENDALES. KFC answers the question, where’s the beef?

MARIIA BUTINA. Russian agent gets 18 months in prison: “A Russian who infiltrated the National Rifle Association and tried to get Donald Trump to meet with a Kremlin-linked official during the 2016 election was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison. Mariia Butina, a gun-rights promoter and graduate student in America, has been in jail since her arrest last July on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent and conspiracy.”

NOT SURPRISING. This celeb was the first to call Mark Consuelos “daddy.”

ON THE RAG. This week on the gay magazines.

SLEEPY JOE. Trump makes hits on his 2020 rivals: ‘He suggested Sanders had “misguided energy” and “talks a lot, but doesn’t get it done.” The president also claimed O’Rourke’s popularity was “a fluke” and that Harris has “a little bit of a nasty wit.” Buttigieg, meanwhile, was “not going to make it,” although Trump did say he was “rooting” for Mayor Pete to do well.’

INDIVISIBLE. Bernie Sanders is first candidate to sign pledge to back Democratic nominee: ‘National progressive outfit Indivisible on Thursday launched a pledgecompelling all 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to rally behind the eventual nominee. Bernie Sanders was the first to sign it, the group revealed. The “We Are Indivisible” pledge asks for three commitments from him and any other prospective signers, as first reported by BuzzFeed News. First, Indivisible’s pledge requests that candidates “make the primary constructive” by outlining their visions while respecting their opponents.’

FEELING BETTER. Britney Spears leaves mental health facility.

YOU’RE SO VAIN. Is Jake Gyllenhaal a serial portrait framer? “Jake Gyllenhaal comes in all the time and I’ve never framed something for him that’s not a picture of himself.”

THE LOONIE. More on Canada’s new gay coin.

NEW TUNE OF THE DAY. Bastille “Doom Days”.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY. Lauv “Drugs and the Internet”.

FRIDAY FLASH. Mauro Gama.

View this post on Instagram

Find que passou! Têbêtê

A post shared by Mauro Gama (@maurogama_) on

The post Lauv, Joe Biden, Bastille, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mariia Butina, Bernie Sanders, ‘Daddy’, Gay Magazines, Chickendales: HOT LINKS appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Phone Thrown at Stage as Trump Walks Out for NRA Speech: WATCH

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Someone threw an object, reported by an attendee to be a phone, at the stage as Donald Trump walked out for a speech to the NRA on Friday in Indianapolis.

The attendee who shared the video to Twitter also reported that the individual who threw the phone was arrested.

Later in the speech, the NRA crowd roared as Trump signed a message asking the Senate to discontinue the treaty ratification process for the UN Arms Trade Treaty, “an Obama-era measure aimed at regulating the arms industry and that was intended to help keep such weapons away from human rights violators.”

The post Phone Thrown at Stage as Trump Walks Out for NRA Speech: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The 6 best player-team fits from the NFL Draft’s 1st round

Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares

Here are the players primed for bountiful rookie years thanks to some perfect landing spots.

Not all NFL Draft destinations are created equal. Some first-round picks will be dropped into a crowded depth chart and have to fight their way into the starting lineup. Others will slide into starring roles by default, even if they’re raw prospects who could benefit from the lowered expectations of coming off the bench.

But some landing spots are the perfect pairing of player and opportunity. No team showcased this more than the 2018 Colts, who added Quenton Nelson in the first round and Darius Leonard in the second, only to watch each develop into immediate first-team All-Pros. With Nelson and Leonard crushing unfortunate souls as over-prepared rookies, Indianapolis made its triumphant return to the postseason.

So who can follow the Colts’ lead and ride a high-impact acquisition to not only shore up their biggest weakness but also create the momentum to push their team to a new level this fall? Here are the best fits of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

DE Nick BosaSan Francisco 49ers (No. 2 overall)

San Francisco has spent the past six seasons rebuilding its defense with first-round picks, and Bosa could be the best of that bunch. The Ohio State star will join a 49er front seven loaded with young talent and, more importantly, the kind of players who can keep opponents from doubling Bosa on the edge. He joins a group that includes former top picks Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner, along with prized offseason additions Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford.

There’s a lot of questions left to answer in that group, but the pure talent is undeniable. Adding Bosa means they’ll get a few more opportunities to feast — and also frees up a potential Thomas trade. It also adds a little extra up-front support to a secondary that will have to make some key additions in Days 2 and 3 of the draft.

The Ohio State star’s acquisition won’t match the impact of a hopefully-healthy Jimmy Garoppolo, but the talented edge rusher pairing with a returning young(ish) quarterback certainly throws off some 2018 Colts vibes.

DT Ed OliverBuffalo Bills (No. 9 overall)

Thursday night started with rumors the Bills were trying to jump up to the third overall pick in order to target Oliver. Instead, the Raiders (Clelin Ferrell) and Giants (Daniel Jones …eesh) diverted from this year’s mock draft logic, leaving the tailor-made Kyle Williams replacement to slide to Buffalo at the No. 9 pick.

Now Houston’s physical marvel will take up residence in the middle of the Bills’ defensive line, and he’ll be surrounded by some other talented young players. Buffalo was one of 2018’s most surprising defenses:


Oliver’s flexibility will be a boon to a Buffalo front filled with good but not great players. He played over center as a nose tackle with the Cougars, but he’s versatile enough to fill almost any role defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier needs in his 4-3 lineup. Here’s what former NFL defensive end Stephen White had to say about Oliver and where he lined up in college:

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.

So, the Bills get to add that to a top-five defense. Pretty good. Pretty, prreetttty, pretttt-tay good.

LB Devin BushPittsburgh Steelers (No. 10 overall)

Pittsburgh could have waited to see if Bush slipped, but instead got proactive to pay for the chance to move up from the 20th pick to No. 10 and select the Michigan linebacker. It’s a move the club needed to make. The Steelers’ defense has suffered mightily without Ryan Shazier, whose spinal injury gives him no guarantee to ever return to the field.


Bush instantly brings do-everything credibility to the middle of the Pittsburgh defense, providing a steady foundation that a constellation of star-caliber players — including T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward — to revolve around. A sideline-to-sideline insurance policy like Bush can make everyone else’s job a little easier and provide a massive upgrade over the likes of Jon Bostic and Mark Barron in the middle. The former Wolverine can slide right into the starting lineup and provide the spark the Steelers need to get back to the postseason.

TE Noah FantBroncos (No. 20 overall)

Denver is confident Joe Flacco can be its quarterback for 2019 and beyond, passing up the opportunity to draft quarterbacks like Drew Lock and Dwayne Haskins to move to the 20th overall pick and grab Fant. This could be a massive misread given Flacco’s mostly-awful recent resume, but giving him an athletic tight end target is one easy way to attempt to relive his glory years. Which, again, was more than five years ago.

Flacco has always been a tight end-intensive quarterback, turning players like Todd Heap, Owen Daniels, Ed Dickson, and Dennis Pitta into primary options in Baltimore. Now Fant gets to be the next man up in that tradition. He’ll hopefully pair with a healthy Jake Butt in a two-TE set that should give the veteran quarterback plenty of intermediate options.

That’ll give the Broncos a little extra leverage over the top, where Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton should take advantage of the extra second safeties have to spend tracking Fant. Combine that with Pro Bowl rookie Phillip Lindsay, and you’ve got the most potent group of skill players Flacco has seen since he had the world questioning whether he was “elite.” Now the question is whether he’s too washed to take advantage of it.

RB Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders (No. 24)

Jon Gruden’s overhaul added playmakers and blockers to a new-look Raider offense, but there was one glaring hole remaining after Marshawn Lynch’s latest retirement. In Jacobs, Oakland picked up one of the draft’s most versatile players, a jack of all trades who can run, block, and catch passes out of the backfield.

Jacobs will take up residence in a depth chart alongside Isaiah Crowell and Jalen Richard and may be able to beat out both to earn a starting role in Week 1.

The question is whether he’s ready for an expanded role. Jacobs only had 251 carries in three years at Alabama — fewer than Lynch had in five of his 12 NFL seasons. Fortunately for Oakland, Crowell averaged 4.8 yards per carry last fall and is 26 years old. Richard is 25 and has averaged 5.3 yards per carry in his Raiders career. With Jacobs, Gruden has bolstered a sturdy receiving corps with a rock solid tailback platoon, and now a once-regretful Raiders team should be extremely fun to watch in 2019.

DT Jerry Tillery – Los Angeles Chargers (No. 28)

The Chargers’ defensive line will feature Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Tillery in some combination. That is one hell of an antidote to facing Patrick Mahomes twice per year.

Bosa and Ingram will be in charge of pushing in the walls on opposing quarterbacks, forcing them to step up in the pocket and right into the waiting arms of Tillery, who fits exceptionally into Gus Bradley’s 4-3 defense.


That’s going to force opposing quarterbacks into bad throws, and a secondary led by Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, Desmond King, and Casey Hayward — all All-Pros in recent years — is going to feast. The Chargers defense is going to be scary in 2019, and that could be the missing piece that pushes Philip Rivers into his first Super Bowl.

That wasn’t it for players who should slide right in to key roles on strong teams. Here are some other pretty good fits, in brief:

OT Andre Dillard – Philadelphia Eagles (No. 22 overall)

With Jason Peters and Lane Johnson on board, there’s no pressure for Dillard to start immediately. He’ll have the opportunity to grow into Peters’ heir apparent and is a great insurance policy for a team that needs to keep Carson Wentz upright and healthy in 2020 and beyond.

WR Marquise Brown – Baltimore Ravens (No. 25 overall)

Brown should immediately become Lamar Jackson’s top playmaking wide receiver, and “Hollywood” has proven he can sync up with mobile Heisman-winning quarterbacks in his three seasons at Oklahoma. The question is whether Jackson, who wasn’t especially accurate as a rookie, can get him the ball enough to make him a game-breaker.

WR N’Keal Harry – New England Patriots (No. 32 overall)

Harry is a great, fast, physical receiver who joins a team devoid of targets for Tom Brady. It’s tough to believe in any wideout Bill Belichick drafts in the first three rounds these days, though.


Spread the love
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    151
    Shares
  •  
    151
    Shares
  • 151
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •