NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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Jags back to Square One at QB? … Jacksonville announced earlier today that their QB situation is now open for competition after incumbent starter Blake Bortles struggled in last night’s pre-season loss to Tampa Bay. In fact, sources close to the Jaguars are indicating that the team has already decided to go with veteran journeyman Chad Henne over Bortles, the 3rd player picked at the 2014 draft, who after a promising start to his career, has been in neutral the past couple of years. There are even rumblings that the Jaguars could release Bortles prior to the start of the season. The issue for the Jaguars is that Bortles’ has a $19M salary in 2018, which is guaranteed if he were to suffer an injury that prevents him from passing a physical next year. Of course, it also means that Jacksonville could very well be back in the market for a young QB at the 2018 draft where it appears they may very well be looking at yet another early pick. Stay tuned!

Pats likely to lose top pick to suspected ACL … New England is expecting that DE Derek Rivers, the Patriots top pick at the 2017 draft, will miss the season after he suffered what is believed to be a torn ACL and sprained LCL. Rivers was a third-round pick from Youngstown State.

Top DE prospect iffy for LSU opener … With the start of the full college football season now just a couple of weeks away, LSU is reportedly not optimistic that star junior DE Arden Key will be ready to play in the Tigers’ season opener on September 2nd against BYU. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron simply said “I’m not sure, but I don’t think so; ” when asked by a local reported if Key will play vs. the Cougars. Key, who many consider to be the top non-QB prospect for the 2018 draft, underwent shoulder surgery this spring and clearly is still not 100%. Key will reportedly be re-evaluated by team doctors next week and that could bring a little more clarity about he’s finally going to be able to play.

Who’s #1: Pigskin’s final pre-season power rankings, #s 1 thru 10 …  GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has posted the final segment of his annual pre-season power rankings with the Top10. Here. Of course, Pigskin will be updating his power rankings throughout the season so stay tuned.

Cowboys’ RB Elliott appeals suspension … To no one’s surprise, Dallas RB Zeke Elliott has officially filed an appeal with the NFL regarding the 6-game suspension he received last week for that violation of the league’s domestic abuse policy. Per the NFL CBA, appeals must be scheduled within 10 days of the appeal being filed, although the guidelines for when the hearing is actually held are less clear.

Erie to enter bidding for 2018 draft … NOT … But they could! With next year’s draft just 256 days away, the NFL has still not announced a site. However, the league has confirmed that Erie, PA is not under consideration at this time. Erie, though, just might be the most logical choice. Erie is halfway between Cleveland and Buffalo and, as of now, it appears that the Browns and Bills will be in position to dominate the early rounds. Indeed, both Cleveland and Buffalo both have 6 picks within the first three rounds, including an extra first rounder each. The Browns, for example, got Houston’s 2018 first rounder in a draft deal this past April, while they also have two extra picks – from Philadelphia and Houston – in the second round. For its part, Buffalo acquired Kansas City’s opening round pick in a 2017 draft day deal of its own and added two more premium picks in last week’s trades with the LA Rams and Philadelphia. The Bills acquired the Rams #2 pick next year in the trade that saw WR Sammy Watkins head west, while they added a  third rounder in the deal with the Eagles in which Buffalo sent CB Ronald Darby to Philly for WR Jordan Matthews. For the record, here is the list of traded future picks as we have them, as well as the updated listing of picks by team.

Star Clemson DE Ferrell back from concussion … Defending national champion Clemson got some good news over the weekend when star redshirt sophomore DE Clelin Ferrell returned to the field after sitting out close to a week in concussion protocal. Ferrell was injured on Monday when he ran into 340-pound OG Tyrone Crowder. The 6-4, 260-pounder had 6 sacks in the Tigers run to the 2016 national title and figures to be one of the first edge rushers off the board if he opts to enter the upcoming draft.

Memphis WRs hurting … Memphis may have to put out an APB to fill out its receiver corps. The Tigers announced this weekend that versatile senior Sam Craft will miss the entire 2017 because of a torn ACL suffered in practice earlier this week. The athletic Craft – he has played on the Memphis basketball squad – was originally a RB, but was switching to receiver this fall. Craft is a 5th year senior, but could apply for a sixth year of eligibility as he also missed most of the 2016 campaign. The bigger issue for Memphis at receiver though concerns the status of star WR Anthony Miller. Miller, who had 95 receptions last fall for over 1,400 yards, left practice on Thursday with an undisclosed injury and as far as we can tell there has been no update to date.

Gators’ WR Calloway, 6 others suspended from season opener … Florida has suspended 7 players, including star junior WR Antonio Calloway, from the team’s big inter-sectional season opener against Michigan on September 2nd. According to team officials the players were suspended for violations of team rules including missing practice. Callaway, the only starter in the group, was already facing a possible suspension after he pled no contest to a charge of marijuana possession earlier this summer. If he can clean up his act off the field, Calloway is considered to be one of the top prospects at the position for the 2018 draft.

Dolphins 2nd rounder to miss year with ACL … Miami rookie MLB Raekwon McMillan will miss the 2017 season after sustaining a torn ACL in the team’s preseason opener against Atlanta last evening. McMillan, from Ohio State, was the Dolphins’ 2nd round pick at the 2017 draft.

Bills remake WR corps with a couple of trades … Buffalo made a huge splash at the 2014 draft when the sent two first-round draft picks and a fourth-rounder to  Cleveland in order to select former Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins had some moments with the Bills, but never really lived up to the original deal and today Buffalo moved on sending him and a 6th round pick to the LA Rams for veteran CB E.J. Gaines and a 2nd round pick in 2018. To fill the gap in their WR position, Buffalo then sent CB Ronald Darby to Philadelphia for WR Jordan Matthews and a 3rd round pick.

CMU TE out ‘indefinitely’ … Central Michigan senior TE Tyler Conklin, one of the more productive receiving prospects at the position in college football, is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery earlier this week to repair a broken bone in his foot. According to the school, there is no timetable for his return. Conklin had 42 receptions for 560 yards and 6 TDs last fall.

Hard-luck Badgers’ LB Cichy to miss year with ACL … Wisconsin has announced that senior LB Jack Cichy will miss the entire 2017 season after tearing an ACL in practice earlier this week. Cichy will undergo surgery tomorrow. Cichy already had missed much of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury. Cichy has already used his redshirt year, but could apply for a 6th year of eligibility on medical hardship rounds. A former undersized walk-on, Cichy has bulked up to the 235-pound range and emerged as a productive ILB who was leading the Badgers in tackles at the time of his injury last fall; he was also named to all the major defensive watch lists prior to this year.

Solid first pro outing for Texans’ rookie QB Watson … The NFL’s regular pre-season schedule kicked off last night with Carolina defeating Houston 27-17. Despite the loss, Houston officials were pretty upbeat about the performance of rookie QB DeShaun Watson who looked poised and confident in his first pro game. Watson, who was last seen on a football field leading Clemson to a win over Alabama in last year’s national championship game, completed 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards and also scored on a 15-yard run to highlight an efficient evening. The only downside for Watson was that he was sacked three times. Watson, whom the Texans acquired after trading up to the 12th pick with Cleveland, is in a battle with veteran journeyman Tom Savage for the starting job in Houston. Right now Savage appears to have a slight edge, but it is only a matter of time until Watson takes over. Meanwhile, two other top young QBs make their pro debuts later this evening among 7 other NFL pre-season games. Mitch Trubisky, whom Chicago selected with the 2nd overall pick this past April, will be on the field when the Bears host Denver, while DeShone Kizer, who is part of a three-man battle for the Browns’ starting position along with veterans Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler, gets his chance when Cleveland entertains Denver. In that game, Cleveland DE Myles Garrett, the first player selected at this year’s draft, makes his pro debut.

‘Canes C Linder to transfer; will sit out year first … In something of a surprise, Miami announced today that veteran senior C Nick Linder has decided to leave the team and transfer. Linder, who started 26 games for the Hurricanes graduates later this week and would normally be eligible to play this fall. However, he apparently has decided to sit out this season and transfer to another football program next fall. At issue perhaps is the fact that Linder is coming off shoulder surgery and may prefer the chance to take a year off and get healthy; is also being reported that he was struggling to maintain his spot in the ‘Canes starting unit. The 6-2, 300-pound Linder is considered to be a late round or free agent type prospect.

Dolphins sign Cutler out of TV booth … For those that were in another galaxy over the weekend, Miami solved its immediate problem at QB by signing former Bears’ QB Jay Cutler who had retired over the winter and was preparing for a new career as a TV analyst. Cutler signed a 1-year, $10M deal with the Dolphins that could go as high as $13M with incentives. The Dolphins had a crisis as the position as incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill is expected to miss significant time because of a lingering knee issue that could ultimately require season-ending surgery.

No suspension for Tide DT Hand after DUI charge … Alabama senior DE Da’Shawn Hand, a potential first round pick in 2018, will not be suspended for an incident last weekend in which he ended up being arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Turns out Hand was actually asleep in the driver’s seat of his car which was parked in a campus parking lock. Hand still faces the DUI charge because his keys were in the ignition, but the technicality appears to be enough that he won’t miss any game time this fall. And that could be key for Alabama which faces Florida State in a monster early season game on September 2nd. How big: Alabama and FSU are ranked 1-2 in the just released pre-season coaches’ poll.

Torn ACL fells Bolts rookie OG Lamp … The hard-luck Los Angeles Chargers have announced that rookie OG Forrest Lamp, the team’s second round pick at the 2017 draft, likely will miss the season after tearing an ACL in practice yesterday.

College football notes update updated … LSU has updated the status of junior OG Maea Teuhema, a potential top 4-5 prospect at the position for the upcoming draft who was suspended indefinitely yesterday for academic issues. Just a day later, LSU announced that Teuhema has been given his release and is expected to transfer. The original expectation was that Teuhema would transfer to an FCS school where he would be eligible immediately and put him on schedule to enter the 2018 draft. However, late word is that Teuhema is in fact considering moving to one of 4 FBS schools – either Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, USC or Houston – where he would have to sit out the year. Stay tuned. Elsewhere, Ohio State redshirt sophomore RB Mike Weber, another potential top 5 prospect at the position for 2018, has been limited through the first week of practice because of a hamstring issue. Utah junior safety Chase Hansen, a possible top 10 candidate at the position, has yet to practice because of an unspecified injury. Meanwhile, Oklahoma P/K Austin Siebert, has not reported to fall practice as of yet due to academic issues. GBN College Football Investigative reporter Larry Parker contributed (a lot) to this update.

Jags get pick back after OT Albert retires … Back in March, Jacksonville sent their 7th-round pick in 2018 to Miami in exchange for veteran LT Brandon Albert. However, Albert opted to retire earlier today, meaning the Dolphins will return that draft pick to the Jaguars.

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