NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

Media outlets wishing to interview Colin Lindsay or Pigskin Paul Guillemette about the draft or other football topics should email the editor or call 613-692-1088

Road to the draft leads thru Indy … The NFL’s annual scouting combine gets underway in Indianapolis on Tuesday today with 330 or so of the top prospects for the 2017 draft set to be poked, prodded and tested over the course of the next week. And while the importance of the combine sometimes gets overstated, no question it is one of the key elements of the entire pre-draft process. How key? Every year, the large majority of players who are drafted, and especially those selected in the opening round, are at the combine. Read more

Ole Miss QB Kelly won’t be in Indy after all … On second thought, Mississippi QB Chad Kelly has decided not attend the scouting combine, which gets underway in Indianapolis tomorrow, to try and meet with NFL teams. Kelly was originally invited to the combine, but was subsequently uninvited because of the league’s new policy to not bring players who have had violence-related legal off-field issues in the past. Kelly, in fact, has had several run-ins with police including one in which he got in a brawl at a relative’s high school football game. Kelly suggested that he might go to Indianapolis anyway with the hope of meeting with NFL teams to explain his actions, but has obviously thought better of it and will wait until his pro day in early April.

Pigskin ponders 2017 defensive positions, Part Deux! … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette wraps up his series of positional profiles for the 2017 draft with some more thought-provoking thoughts on where the defensive positions currently stand with the scouting combine on the horizon.

UCLA DE McKinley to undergo surgery; out 5-6 months … We posted this story last week, but for some reason it never actually made it to the news page. So for those who have not read it elsewhere, UCLA DE/OLB Takk McKinley has informed NFL teams that he will undergo shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and a broken glenoid immediately after the scouting combine which gets underway in Indianapolis next week. McKinley plans to be a full participant in the combine, including the weight lift; however, the big issue is that the recovery period for this procedure is as much as 5-6 months meaning that McKinley likely won’t be 100% until late in training camp next fall. Indeed, there won’t be any guarantees that he will even be ready for the start of the 2017 regular schedule. McKinley has been considered one of the most explosive edge rushers for the upcoming draft and is expected to shine at the combine where he hopes to run under 4.5 seconds for the 40. In fact, there were more than a few whispers circulating around the league that if McKinley did run in that area next weekend, that he could start to get some top ten interest, but the injury may mute that to some degree.

Are Browns cooling on DE Garrett? … Not so long ago, one of the givens of the 2017 draft was that Cleveland was enamored with Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, who most analysts had rated as the clear, consensus top prospect for the upcoming draft. However, there is a bit of a buzz these days that the Browns may have cooled somewhat on Garrett. No question that Garrett is an explosive edge-rusher with a big upside, but there are soem issues with his consistency and his motor. It also didn’t help that Garrett, a Dallas native, made a public plea, albeit jokingly, to Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to make a trade to move him up and select him. At the same time, it appears that New England back-up Jimmy Garoppolo remains the Browns’ top target to address their issues at QB. And with a number of other teams with top picks also reportedly interested in Garoppolo themselves, it may be donning on the Browns that if they really want Garopollo they may have to use the #1 pick to get him. Stay tuned!

Full 2017 selection order posted … Along with the announcement of this year’s compensatory picks, the NFL released the full 7-round selection order for the upcoming draft. Note, though, we aren’t totally sure about a couple of picks as the distribution of the 158-159-160 picks in the 5th round and the 198-199-200 selections in the 6th do not appear to follow the normal rotation of picks in the same record grouping from round to round. Those picks are complicated by the fact that they involve the Minnesota/Indianapolis picks which still have to be determined by a coin flip. The NFL has Baltimore picking 160th in the 5th and 200 in the 6th, whereas we think the Ravens should have the 159th and 198th per the way the league usually rotates picks. stay tuned. The list of picks by team has also been updated. as reported earlier this week, Cleveland and Cincinnati currently lead the league with 11 picks each, while San Francisco, Washington, Kansas City and Denver have ten picks apiece.

Sooners’ QB Mayfield arrested overnight … Star Oklahoma QB baker Mayfield, a leading contender for the 2017 Heisman Trophy, was arrested in Fayetteville, Arkansas early this morning. Mayfield was charged with several counts including public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. Needless to say, Mayfield was face some kind of censure from the team. The Sooners open the season on September 2nd with a home date against UTEP before traveling to Ohio State the following week.

Rams get good news in 3rd round with comp pick … Thanks to correspondent Scott R for the tip as another pick got juggled by yesterday’s announcement of the awarding of this year’s compensatory picks. As part of the 2016 draft trade with Tennessee in which the Rams moved up to the #1 pick overall and selected QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles included both their first and third-round picks this year. Under the terms of that deal, though, the Titans would get the compensatory pick if the Rams got a 3rd round comp pick. That’s the way it worked out so the Rams get to keep their original 3rd rounder – the 69th overall – while Tennessee gets the 100th pick. As a result, the GBN list of picks by team has been updated.

Another top QB to throw at combine … North Carolina QB Micth Trubisky is the latest QB to indicate that he will participate in the full program at the scouting combine which gets underway in Indianapolis next week. That means that Trubisky, who is generally considered to be one of the top 3 QBs in the 2017 draft class, will participate in the passing drills. DeShaun Watson of Clemson, another of this year’s big three QBs has already indicated he will throw at the combine, as has Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech, who is reportedly pushing the top three. Cal’s Davis Webb, who more than one team has rounding out the top 5 QBs on their board, will also reportedly do the full program at the combine. Meanwhile, the NFL is still waiting to hear from DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame, the 3rd of the top 3 prospects at the position, as to whether he will throw in Indianapolis. For the record, the QBs will do their on-field workout including positional drills next Saturday the 4th.

Comp pick comings and goings … With today’s announcement by the NFL of this year’s compensatory draft picks, we have been able to update the unofficial picks by team file. New England will get the 3rd round comp pick, the 103rd pick overall this year, which awarded to Cleveland to complete the deal for LB Jamie Collins between the two teams last season. If the Browns had not received a 3rd round comp pick this year, they would have had to send the Patriots a 4th rounder in 2018. At the same time, Cleveland also sends the 139th pick, a 4th round comp selection, to Philadelphia to finalize last year’s draft day trade for the 2nd pick overall. Also note that the Giants’ pick in the 4th round will be the 140th. The Giants would normally pick 130th, but they ended up being forced to drop down ten spots as a penalty for using a sideline walkie-talkie for 5 plays in thei win over Dallas late in the season. Despite losing the two comp picks, Cleveland is still tied with AFC North rival Cincinnati for the most picks at the 2011. Currently, by our unofficial count, both the Browns and Bengals have 11 2017 picks. Meanwhile, Denver, Washington, Kansas City and San Francisco each have ten picks.

 

Comp picks announced … A little earlier than usual, the NFL has announced this year’s compensatory draft picks. This year, the league awarded a total of 32 comp picks to 16 different teams. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lost more, or better, unrestricted free agents than it acquired in the 2016 off-season. Miami gets the highest comp pick this year – the 97th at the end of the 3rd round. Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City and Cincinnati, though, ended up with the most comp picks – 4 each – while Miami got three and the L.A. Rams and Seattle two each. In fact, Seattle got a pair of third round comp picks. A couple of notes re this year’s comp picks. First, for the first time comp picks can be traded. In the past, they could not be moved. At the same time, this year’s list of comp picks has a distribution by round quite different from earlier years. In the past, the largest number of comp picks were in the later rounds with usually only around 3-4 being awarded in the 3rd. This year, though, 11 comp picks were awarded in the 3rd round, compared with just 3 in the 7th. If that is to be the new norm, it could make teams more willing to let their own free agents walk with the hope of getting a comp pick back in return. Also note we will be updating this year’s selection order ASAP.

Pigskin ponders 2017 defensive positions … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette wraps up his series of positional profiles for the 2017 draft with some thought-provoking thoughts on where the defensive positions currently stand with the scouting combine on the horizon.

To QB or not to QB … With apologies to Will Shakespeare, we are in the midst of the silly season in the NFL between the Super Bowl and scouting combine which gets underway next week in Indianapolis. In fact, there are rumors of at least a couple of pretty big deals regarding QBs old and young buzzing around the league. There are also a couple of developments among this year’s draft QB class. Read more

49ers personnel guy exits … San Francisco has announced that longtime personnel executive Tom Gamble is leaving the team. Gamble was the 49ers’ assistant G.M. last year after acting as the team’s director of pro personnel from 2005-10 and director of player personnel in 2011-12. Gamble then spent two year as vice president of player personnel with Philadelphia for two years before returning to the 49ers. Gamble’s exit wasn’t all that unexpected after new G.M. John Lynch hired former Denver director of college scouting Adam Peters as vice president of player personnel and former Lions general manager Martin Mayhew as a senior personnel executive.

‘Phins DO get TE Thomas from Jags, but for late pick; Albert deal still waiting … In the end, Miami has acquired veteran TE Julius Thomas from Jacksonville, just not for OT Brandon Albert. The Jags reportedly have agreed to send Thomas to Miami in exchange for what is believed to be a 7th round pick this coming April. With Miami, Thomas will be reunited with Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase who was the offensive co-ordinator in Denver when Thomas had back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons. The acquisition of Thomas could impact the Dolphins’ draft as there had been speculation that Miami, which has the 22nd pick in the opening round of the 2017 draft, could look at one of this year’s top TE talents such as Alabama’s O.J. Howard or David Njoku of Miami. Needless to say, that will likely change with Thomas on board possibly freeing up Miami to look at another position such as CB. Meanwhile, there isn’t much new to report on the other Dolphins-jags deal involving OT Branden Albert. As reported earlier, the two teams are close to a trade which would see Jacksonville acquire Albert in exchange for what is believed to be a late round pick in 2018. Indeed, Albert was in Jacksonville today for a medical check.

Baylor LT quits football … Baylor LT Dominic Desouza has reportedly decided to retire from football. The 6-6, 310 Desouza, who played one year at Baylor after transferring from a junior college, was considered to be a late round prospect for the 2018 draft.

Report: OT Albert to Jags for pick; not TE … Armando Salguero, the NFL beat writer for the Miami Herald is reporting that the Dolphins have agreed to a deal with Jacksonville that would send veteran LT Branden Albert to the Jags in exchange for a 2018 late-round draft pick, most likely a 7th round pick. As reported earlier today (below) Albert is in Jacksonville today where he will likely undergo a pre-trade physical and may also be talking a contract extension. Early reports had the Dolphins sending Albert to Jacksonville in exchange for veteran TE Julius Thomas, but that may be off the table.

Pigskin ponders 2017 other offensive positions … With the scouting combine set to get underway in Indianapolis in just over a week, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette follows up on his original post highlighting some thought-provoking thoughts on where the offensive skill positions for the 2017 draft currently stand with the latest as he sees it on the RBs and offensive linemen.

Dolphins LT Albert visiting Jags … That possible trade between Miami and Jacksonville involving veteran Dolphins’ LB Brandon Albert is back on the front burner with news that Albert will be visiting the Jaguars today. Teams are allowed to bring in players prior to a trade for medical exams before the deal is filed with the league office. It is also likely that the Jaguars will talk with Albert about a possible contract extension. Miami was on the verge of releasing Albert last week, but held off when Jacksonville, and possibly one or more other teams, called and asked about trade possibilities. The Jags found themselves in need of a solid LT when they did not pick up the option on incumbent starter Kevin Beachum who now becomes a free agent when the new NFL season gets underway on March 9th. It is still not clear what the compensation will be if Miami and Jacksonville on a deal for Albert, but it is believed that veteran TE Julius Thomas could be headed to the Dolphins where he would be reunited with Miami head coach Adam Gase with whom he had considerable success when they were both with Denver. It is also possible that there could be some draft picks involved in any Albert-Thomas trade.

Husky OLB quits football to focus on rugby … Washington OLB Psalm Wooching, who had been considered to be a possible late-round pick or free agent candidate for the 2017 draft, has reportedly decided to give up football and concentrate on rugby instead with the ultimate goal of making the U.S. national Olympic team. Wooching led the Huskies with 6.0 sacks in 2016 when he also forced two fumbles and one fumble recovery and ultimately was named an honorable-mention all-Pac-12 selection.

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