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Chiefs fire G.M. Dorsey … In a surprise announcement, Kansas City has abruptly fired General Manager John Dorsey. The announcement of Dorsey’s firing came barely an hour after the Chiefs had announced that head coach Andy Reid had been signed to a contract extension leading to some speculation that Dorsey and Reid weren’t on the same page and that Reid won a power struggle within the organization especially after the Chiefs made the surprising decision to cut WR Jeremy Maclin, a Reid favorite.
Are you ready for some football!! … There are still almost 6 week to go until NFL training camps get underway, but there is some football in the air as the Canadian league kicks off its 2017 regular schedule this weekend with four games on the slate. Saskatchewan and Montreal kick off the schedule when they play at 7:30 PM ET later this evening in Montreal. Then on Friday, last year’s Grey Cup finalists Calgary and Ottawa hook up again in the nation’s capitol, while Edmonton plays at B.C. on Saturday. The first week of the CFL sched wraps on Sunday with Hamilton travelling down the road to play their long-time hated rivals in Toronto. The CFL campaign culminates with the 105th renewal of the Grey Cup game which will be played in Ottawa on November 26th. Here is the full 2017 CFL schedule. Despite losing last year’s Grey Cup game to Ottawa, Calgary is the prohibitive favorite to win it all this year after posting a 15-2-1 record in 2016. Meanwhile, Hamilton appears to be a slight favorite in East, although the Eastern Conference could be a tight year-long three team struggle with Ottawa and Toronto also expected to factor in the race. CFL games are broadcast by TSN and RDS in Canada and ESPN in the U.S.
Draft dates confirmed … The NFL has confirmed that the 2018 draft will be held April 26-28 next spring. Still to be determined, though, is where the draft will be held. Dallas is reportedly very interested in hosting the upcoming draft, but other teams are also interested. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, here is the full NFL football calendar through next April’s draft.
Sooners lower boomlet on QB Mayfield … Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate for the 2017 season, won’t miss any game time as a result of a DUI offense back in February. Mayfield still has a court date to decide any legal ramifications, but the school mandated that he will have to participate in university alcohol education as well as perform 35 hours of community service, some of which will include working with law enforcement. The Sooners open the season with a home game against UTEP on September 2nd before travelling to Columbus for an early season showdown with Ohio State the following week.
Top pick Garrett misses final day of OTAs with foot … Cleveland DE Myles Garrett, the first player selected at the 2017 draft, missed the final day of the team’s OTAs earlier today with a foot injury. Garrett is still in the process of having his left foot evaluated after he limped off the field on Wednesday. Garrett has reportedly said its no big deal, but the team is yet to comment officially. Meanwhile, the other big news from the Browns’ workouts is the progress being made by QB DeShone Kizer, the former Notre Dame star whom the team selected with a second round pick this past April. Kizer is still being listed as third on the Browns’ depth chart behind Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiller, but the buzz around the Cleveland clubhouse is that Kizer could very well be part of a very competitive battle for the starter’s good in training camp.
Rams send former #2 pick to Lions for late rounder … The Los Angeles Rams cut bait on OT Greg Robinson, whom they selected with the 2nd pick overall at the 2014 draft, when they traded him to Detroit for what is being reported as a sixth-round in 2018. In fact, Detroit loaded up on offensive linemen selected early in the 2014 draft as they also signed G/T Cyrus Kouandjio who was a second round pick by Buffalo that year. The Lions are looking to add some depth to a sometimes beleagured offensive front with news that star LT Taylor Decker could miss the start of the upcoming season after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this week. With this deal, the GBN trade mart for future drafts has been updated.
Former star QB Williams assumes big role in Washington staff shuffle … Washington went through the 2017 without a general manager after the team and former G.M. Scot McCloughan parted company for undisclosed reasons in March. The team appears to have finally resolved the situation by promoting former QB Doug Williams, who led the Redskins to the 1987 Super Bowl, senior vice president of player personnel. Williams, who had worked as a senior executive with the team the past four years, will now oversee Washington’s talent evaluation department. However, it does not appear that Washington will have a nominal G.M. as owner Dan Snyder and President Bruce Allen handle many of those duties. With Williams moving up in the Washington food chain, the Redskins also announced that Eric Schaffer has been promoted to VP of football operations, while area scout Kyle Smith, the son of former San Diego G.M. A.J. Smith, will become the team’s new director of college scouting. At the same time, Tim Gribble, another former area scout, moves up to a national scouting role, while Richard Mann becomes assistant director of pro personnel. And former director of college scouting Scott Campbell now holds the title of senior executive, but will continue to scout NFL draft prospects.
Top prospect Key back at class at LSU … The folks down around LSU were holding their collective breaths this weekend, but star junior DE Arden Key was in fact back in class this morning as the school’s summer session got underway. And by extension, Key is back with the football program after he left the team in mid-February for unspecified personal reasons. The 6-5, 255-pound Key, who had 12 sacks as a true sophomore last fall, is projected to be a top 5-10 prospect for the upcoming draft, although NFL teams will surely want to more about his absence this winter. Also of note, during his time from the team, Key had surgery on a shoulder he injured in November.
Draft odds for 2018 … For those that didn’t see it last week, ESPN ran an article late last week in which their sports analytics people ran the numbers for the upcoming season combining each team’s projected efficiency on offense, defense and special teams and calculated the odds for every team’s playoffs chance and Super Bowl probability. While the football world doesn’t necessarily work that way, the article’s authors also analyzed their results to the 2018 draft and projected that Cleveland, San Francisco and the New York Jets had the best odds of landing the top pick at the upcoming draft.
And the winner is … As we have noted on numerous occasions in the past, we here at the GBN aren’t big on rating drafts, especially just weeks after the actual event, but one can look at the potential of every pick. And based on his analysis, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has concluded that, at least on paper, the Cleveland Browns came out of this year’s draft with the most potential. Here’s his full report.
SEC tweaks transfer rules; Irish QB Zaire now a Gator … As expected, the SEC tweaked its graduate transfer policy on Friday, making changes that would allow former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire to join the Florida Gators. Florida had been unable to add Zaire as a grad transfer because a couple of previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after transferring to the program in 2015. That put the Gators on probation for three years beginning last year. However, the SEC voted yesterday to reduce penalty for programs whose graduate transfers fail to meet academic requirements to one year meaning the Gators are off the hook and free to sign Zaire who will be eligible for the upcoming season.
Pigskin’s top 8th round winners … Every year just about every team in the NFL has an undrafted rookie free agent or two who makes their 53-man roster. And in addition, about half the practice squad roster for most teams is also comprised of undrafted rookie free agents. And over the years more than one UDFA has gone on to become a key player in their team’s championship hopes. Just as an example, the current Super Bowl champion Patriots currently show 39 men on their 90 man roster as being URFAs including CB Malcolm Butler and WR Chris Hogan. With all that in mind, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has applied his microscope to each team’s undrafted rookie free agent signing classes and notes the four clear winners among this year’s 32 UDFA classes. Read more
Post-spring practice positional rankings … There is still a long way to go until the 2018 draft, but with springs practices in the books, GBN Investigative College Football Reporter Larry Parker has posted his rankings by position for the upcoming draft.
Pigskin picks biggest draft losers … The draft process is a difficult one to predict, but its not hard to deduce which picks one likes and which picks one doesn’t like. And while there was a lot to like for many teams at the 2017 NFL draft, after running the numbers and rechecking our pre-draft intel, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has identified three teams he thought had drafts he really didn’t like including Chicago, the L.A. Rams and the New York jets. Here is his full analysis.
Browns add former Colts’ exec Grigson … Cleveland has hired former Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson as Senior Personnel Executive. Grigson was fired by the Colts after five seasons at the end of the past season.
Panthers shuffle scout staff … Carolina has reorganized its scouting department in the wake of former assistant GM Brandon Beane departure to Buffalo. Mark Koncz, the team’s pro scouting director, has been named the director of player personnel and will have responsibilities for both the college and pro divisions. Meanwhile, Jeff Morrow takes over as the Panthers’ director of college scouting; he replaces Don Gregory, who had held that job the past decade, but now becomes an executive scout. Former pro scout Matt Allen was promoted to director of pro personnel; Jonathan Fields shifts from an assistant college scouting role to an assistant pro scouting position, while Eli Montague becomes an area scout.
Gator WR dinged for pot possession … Florida junior WR Antonio Gallaway, a top prospect for the 2018 draft, was cited last weekend for possession of marijuana last weekend. A bag containing marijuana was found in Callaway’s after the car in which he was a passenger was pulled over and the officer smelled marijuana. Callaway has a June 6 court date. He is also likely due for some supplementary discipline from the school that could include a suspension from the Gators’ season opener against Michigan on September 2nd. The NFL probably isn’t going to care too much about the pot charges, although the fact that Gallaway was cleared of a sexual assault last year after he claimed that he was too high to have had sex may give a few teams pause. The bigger concern for the NFL may be that at the time of the arrest, Gallaway was riding around in a car with a 40-year old known criminal. Those kind of people have a tendency to follow players to the NFL. Callaway was the Gators’ leading receiver last season when he had 54 catches for 721 yards and three touchdowns.
Ex-Ducks RB returns as Beaver … Interesting story from the far coast as former Oregon RB Thomas Tyner, who retired from football two years ago because of a shoulder injury, has opted return to college football, although it will be at Oregon State this time around. The 5-11, 200-pound Tyner, a speedster who held the state record for the 100M, rushed for almost 1,400 yards and 14 TDs in two seasons with the Ducks, but sat out the 2015 season with the injury and then announced his retirement prior to last season.
Browns sign top pick … Cleveland announced within the past hour that DE Myles Garrett, the first player chosen at the 2017 draft, has agreed to terms with the club on a 4-year rookie contract worth over $30M including a more than $20M signing bonus. The contract also includes the standard fifth-year club option. The signing of Garrett comes a couple of days after Jacksonville announced the signing of RB Leonard Fournette, the 4th player selected at last month’s draft.
Bills add another rising young exec to front office rebuild … Buffalo continued to rebuild its front office personnel department by hiring Brian Gaine as VP of player personnel. The Bills had originally interviewed Gaine as a a candidate for their vacant GM job that ultimately went to Brandon Beane. Gaine comes over to the Bills from Houston where he had held essentially the same job he will handle in Buffalo. Gaine is his second big front-office hire for Buffalo in recent days following the addition of Joe Schoen as assistant general manager Sunday.