While college football and the NFL may be over, draft season is just beginning. It's a wonderful time where rumors fly, potential stars are judged on every imaginable attribute, and nearly every draft day scenario is covered in the numerous mock drafts. To best understand how the draft will actually play out, make sure to pay attention to those in tune with the league and each teams player needs. A great place to start is by checking out Thor Nystrom’s first Mock Draft and Hayden Winks’ 2019 NFL Draft QB Stats Report.
Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown (5’9/171) is a relatively divisive prospect who received a lot of love from some big media outlets this past week. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah reported there’s a chance Brown is the first wideout off the board and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller said Brown’s 2018 tape was "good enough to potentially push him into the top 10 picks of the draft." Miller believes his traits are similar to those of Steelers WR Antonio Brown and Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill. The NFL Scouting Combine will be crucial in Brown’s quest to be the first wide receiver off the board. If the undersized speedster can post an elite 40-yard dash there’s a great chance he is selected in the first round and possibly the top-10 picks.
Florida Atlantic RB Devin “Motor” Singletary nearly snagged the Heisman trophy after ripping the NCAA for 1,918 rushing yards (6.4 yards per carry) and 32 rushing touchdowns in 2017 but wasn’t as good in 2018. Despite still racking up 1,348 (5.2 yards per carry) rushing yards last season, the fall off has likely moved his draft stock to somewhere on Day 2. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler spoke highly of Singletary this week though saying he has “LeSean McCoy upside.” This isn’t the first time Brugler mentioned this comparison and McCoy was selected (2nd round, pick No. 53) in the same range Singletary is being projected to go. Singletary is a high-upside pick who will likely fall out of the first round.
Seemingly the worst kept secret in this draft cycle ties the Denver Broncos to Missouri QB Drew Lock. “Everything" Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline has heard since the East-West Shrine Game has the Denver Broncos selecting Lock. Beyond Pauline reporting this, Benjamin Allbright has heard much of the same from sources around the league. While this could be smoke, Lock is definitely the type of player Elway likes. Lock’s 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame combined with his strong arm probably has Elway salivating. He’s certainly not without flaws and the biggest question mark about the counting stat compiler has to be his play against Power 5 opponents. Hayden Winks helps illuminate this in his recent 2019 NFL Draft QB Stats Report. Against Power 5 opponents Lock posted just 6.9 yards per attempt, a 53 percent completion rate, and a 1.6 TD/INT ratio. Lock to Denver is by no means a sure thing as another team could swoop in before Denver’s pick at No. 10 and snag him, but it’s one of the more legitimate rumors so far in draft season.
Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray (5’10/195) continues to be the talk of the league with his decision between baseball or football looming. He took a step towards committing to a future in the NFL by deciding to attend the NFL Scouting Combine and will likely be intensely interviewed throughout the draft process by teams’ trying to determine his commitment level to football. Three out of five NFL executives polled by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned that Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray will draw the most buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine. If Murray decides to fully commit to the NFL we will be able to get a better gauge on his draft stock because right now teams are factoring in the risk of him deciding to play baseball. The Athletic's Dane Brugler echoed this sentiment and said "there only will be a few teams that consider" Murray. This certainly widens Murray’s range of outcomes in terms of where he will be drafted but in a relatively weak quarterback class, there’s no limit as to how high an electric prospect like Murray could be taken.
College Football News
Florida State redshirt junior QB Deondre Francois was dismissed from the team due to accusations of domestic violence. A video emerged on social media of Francois and a woman in a violent dispute, essentially solidifying Francois’ involvement. Head coach Willie Taggart acted quickly and released him as soon as he saw the video, mentioning, “we have high expectations for all of our student-athletes and will not shy away from those high standards of conduct.” According to Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, due to Francois’ past this development was “not shocking to anyone.” A day after Francois was dismissed, the alleged victim reversed course and decided to help with damage control, saying, “Deondre has never struck me with his hand or fist. He has never bruised me, but has abused me verbally.” While this might look better at a quick glance, abuse is still abuse and his release at Florida State is final. Francois proceeded to enter the NCAA transfer portal but with his checkered past, it’s hard to imagine a sizeable program taking a risk on a player like him.
Without Francois, Florida State will turn to redshirt sophomore QB James Blackman. He isn’t guaranteed the starting position but is the most likely candidate for the job after flashing upside in 2017 and his lone 2018 start. He has a 24/12 TD/INT ratio the past two seasons but will need to take a few steps forward if the Seminoles want to have some success.
Alabama sophomore DE Eyabi Anoma entered the NCAA transfer portal for all of a day prior to withdrawing his name. The former five-star recruit played too much to take a redshirt but not enough to initially satisfy him and consider a transfer. Anoma (6’5/245) had just nine tackles in six games in 2018 but should see more playing time next season with Alabama’s consistent turnover of talent to the NFL.
Arizona State sophomore S Ty Thomas is seeking a medical retirement from football. He’s suffered “numerous hamstring tears” which led to his medical retirement. Ty is NFL Pro Bowl LB Zach Thomas’ nephew. … Multiple outlets are reporting that Michigan is parting ways with pass-game coordinator/QB coach Pep Hamilton is parting ways with the program. Michigan promoted Alabama WR coach Josh Gattis to offensive coordinator this winter which left Hamilton without a position. Hamilton has already decided to coach in the XFL and Ben McDaniels will handle QB coaching duties for Michigan in place of Hamilton. … A league source told Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline that Florida T Jawaan Taylor will be the first offensive tackle selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. Taylor (6’5/328) has shot up draft boards and this report places him as a potential top-10 pick. Pauline projected him to be selected with pick No.9 by the Buffalo Bills in his most recent mock draft. … Georgia signed five-star 2019 WR George Pickens. The Bulldogs flipped the former Auburn commit after the second National Signing Day period. Pickens (6’3/195) is a massive signing for the Bulldogs who lost three wideouts to the NFL. Between Pickens and Dominick Blaylock, Georgia has locked up two of 2019’s top-5 wideouts. … Ole Miss received a verbal commitment from five-star 2019 RB Jerrion Ealy. This signing was a bit of a surprise as Clemson looked to be the front-runner for Ealy. He will also likely be drafted to the MLB this summer, leaving him with a big decision early in his athletic career. … Texas redshirt junior QB Shane Buechele transferred to SMU as a graduate. This was the logical decision after SMU’s former QB Ben Hicks transferred to Arkansas earlier this winter. After redshirting at Texas last season and transferring to SMU as a graduate Buchele still has two years of eligibility left to play. … Tennessee signed four-star 2019 LB Henry To'oto'o. This was one of the most notable decisions on signing day as To’oto’o was being recruited heavily by Alabama and Washington but chose to side with the Vols. He’s ranked as ESPN’s No. 47 overall prospect in the 2019 class. … Tennessee signed five-star 2019 T Darnell Wright. Wright is a huge signing for the program and is the No. 10 overall prospect in the 2019 class. With both Wright and To’oto’o under their belt, Tennessee has exceeded expectations with their recruiting so far.