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NFL Draft

Interesting state NFL team picks in ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s first mock draft

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the understanding that it is way too early in the process to start projecting what is going to actually happen in the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s still a conversation starter when one of the top analysts for the last 30 years starts putting out who he believes will go where in the first round?

That’s what legendary ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. did on Thursday morning in debuting his first mock draft of the offseason on ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and their TV programming:

Again, all of this should be taken in the vein that it is a conversation starter for January. And so much of the evaluation process from this weekend’s East-West Shrine Game in St. Pete, to the Senior Bowl later this month in Mobile, Alabama, to the scouting combine in Indianapolis at the end of February, and so on and so on, will begin to determine what teams do.

Nevertheless, fans of teams that are eliminated from the postseason, and at this point that would be all but four of them headed into this weekend, love to know what people like Kiper are thinking that their team might or should do?

So, with what will likely change several times over the next few weeks-couple of months, here’s what Kiper believes about the current top 10 and then, the Dolphins first selection of the draft currently at number 13:

Kiper believes the Cardinals will take Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa with the first overall pick. Then, at this stage, he has a bit of a surprise which is Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen going to the 49ers at the second overall pick. Kiper rounded out his top four with all defensive players being taken.

With the fifth selection, where Buccaneer fans will perk up, that Kiper believes Tampa Bay should or will take Alabama massive offensive tackle Jonah Williams with their first pick. Williams is out of the mold of former Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker and more recently Jaguar second round pick Cam Robinson.

Kiper believes the Giants should be looking strongly at Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who he believes is the best suited quarterback at this stage to go make an impact in the NFL. And, in New York he would hypothetically be a solution for the aging Eli Manning long term.

That choice would be interesting, if everything remains the same in the top seven order, because the Jaguars would be selecting next at 7th overall and Kiper has Haskins off the board.

However, Kiper doesn’t believe the Jaguars would take another quarterback, someone like Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, but instead would choose another Sooner, offensive tackle Cody Ford.

Of course coach Doug Marrone, a former offensive lineman himself, knows the Jaguars line has clearly struggled. Still, fans in North Florida would probably be exasperated that Jacksonville wasn’t trying to fix the quarterback situation and rather go with the “less sexy” offensive lineman pick.

And, finally and also intriguingly, Kiper does have the Miami Dolphins selecting Kyler Murray in his first mock draft. That would be with the 13th pick overall. Miami spent much of last January-April “kicking the tires” on QBs like Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. Yet none of them where available, when it came time for the Fins to pick.

Again opinions are varying everywhere, but most draft analysts question Murray’s heigth (being under 5 ’10) and believe that no matter his mobility and skill-set from college, he is not a first-round selection. It would clearly be a large risk for Miami or anyone else in the top 15 to take him.

And, also it’s so early for the Dolphins because, they have yet to officially hire a head coach. If that is in fact going to be Brian Flores of the Patriots, then maybe they will be looking at a defensive player and not a quarterback in round one.

It’s all part of the hype and the build-up for the draft coming over 90 days from now.

And, it all started on Thursday.

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NFL Draft

Update on unsigned 2019 first round picks

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We are now three weeks removed from 2019 NFL Draft and while some of the first round selections are under contract there are others, including in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville who are not.

Up front, you have to acknowledge that with the new rookie salary scale that went into effect with the last Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, holdouts have become almost like dinosaurs. That is to say, ugly, scary and only talked about in the past tense.

Top pick Kyler Murray of Arizona agreed to his deal late last week before their rookie camp began. While we don’t yet know the contract terms, it is expected that he would get somewhere in the neighborhood of the $22.1 million that last year’s number one pick quarterback Baker Mayfield did from Cleveland.

Interestingly, after that none of the 2 – 7 selections have signed their deals as of yet. This includes LSU linebacker Devin White of the Buccaneers at five and Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen taken by the Jaguars two selections later at number seven. Because six of those seven picks (excluding the Giants taking quarterback Daniel Jones) are on the defensive side of the ball, the belief is that White and Allen with their representation are waiting to see what players Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, and Clelin Ferrell are going to get from their teams at the 2 – 5 selections.

Using last year as a reference point Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb got $18.2 guaranteed at the five spot and the Bills gave quarterback Josh Allen $13.7 million. Obviously, the Jaguars Josh Allen is not a quarterback and may see less of a guarantee than that.

It’s also worth noting that picks 8 through 15 have all agreed. That includes the Dolphins taking defensive tackle Christian Wilkins from Clemson. Last year the 13th pick was Redskins defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, who received  $8.7 million guaranteed over his four years.

Once more, holdouts are virtually a thing of the past and all of these rookie deals should be done by training camp time in July. For now though, White and Allen aren’t able to spend money that they haven’t yet signed for off their draft status.

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NFL Draft

Bucs and Jaguars never called Raiders about fourth pick

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After an awful season in 2018, the Raiders were looking to start fresh with a stockpile of number one picks last Thursday night in the NFL Draft. And slotted at 4th overall, Oakland’s coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock were potentially in position to take the player that the Buccaneers, specifically, would have wanted. And, do it one pick before them.

However, an exclusive look inside the “Raiders Draft War Room” in real time from last Thursday night has been published by Peter King of Pro Football Talk on Monday.

And in it, King reveals that the Raiders never got a phone call from anyone while on the clock, including the Buccaneers, Gruden’s old team. Or, no phone call from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were slated to pick three slots later at number seven.

As it turns out, the Bucs stood firm and grabbed LSU linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall selection. There had been great speculation that a team, like the Redskins who were picking 15th or even, the Giants who were picking 6th, might make a call and a move to get either the Bucs fifth pick or higher, the Raiders 4th pick to ensure drafting the quarterback they wanted.

We now know that the Giants, who were obviously certain that the Raiders and the Bucs weren’t going to take a quarterback, went ahead and picked Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at number six.

Giants GM David Gettleman has claimed post-draft that they believed at least two teams, probably the Redskins and the Broncos, would take Jones before the Giants picked at#17 later on Thursday night. Washington did take Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins at 15 and Denver traded up to take Missouri QB Drew Lock early in the second round Friday night.

Back to Thursday, after the Giants took Jones, the Jaguars were next  at number seven. And they wasted no time calling out the name of Kentucky outside edge-pass rusher, Josh Allen, to help bolster their defensive line. Obviously, the Jags knew once the Raiders had taken Clelin Ferrell, defensive end of Clemson, that Tampa Bay was likely going to take a defensive player, also and maybe, even take Kentucky’s Allen, themselves.

What we don’t know and may not ever know, is whether the Jaguars called the Bucs about trading in front of the Giants up to number five to get their guy. Or, if they just “played it cool,” and waited to see if Allen would fall to them. And of course, ultimately, the SEC leading sack man a year ago did fall right to them without having to make a trade.

It’s further interesting from King’s recounting of the Raiders private discussions that later in the night that Oakland was fearful that the Eagles had potentially traded in front of them to grab running back Josh Jacobs of Alabama. That’s who Oakland was slotting to take with their 24th pick. Some have ridiculed Oakland for picking a running back in the first round, however, it’s less risky, financially and otherwise, to do it where they did. In the end, Philly didn’t take Jacobs and the Raiders drafted their back at #24.

However, this also a reminder of what Gruden did when he was coaching the Buccaneers and Bruce Allen was his general manager in 2005. That’s when the Bucs picked Cadillac Williams at running back from the Auburn Tigers at fifth overall. Williams went on to have a great rookie season including becoming the first back in the history of the NFL to run for a hundred yards or more in the first four games of his first season. However, injuries to both knees derailed Cadillac’s career and turned the pick into a bust.

And worse looking back, the Buccaneers and Gruden (and others) could have drafted a certain quarterback early that day in ’05, who plummeted in the first round before going to… the Green Bay Packers.

That player was Aaron Rodgers.

So, time and history will judge how smart the Raiders, Bucs, Giants and Jags did with the 4th-7th selections last Thursday. It’s just fascinating to read the rationale’ behind what the Raiders did and didn’t do.

And, the same with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville right after them.

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