The NFL Scouting Combine has concluded and now, teams scatter back to their markets to assess what they saw there, and prepare for individual workout days, one on one meetings with the players, etc.
The hype will only grow from here leading to the NFL Draft in Dallas in April.
One of the prominent national pundits/draft analysts is ESPN’s Todd McShay. He is the “foil” to their long time draft guru, Mel Kiper, Jr., and the two often carry on faux hostile debates on air about players and their fit with a certain teams.
With that laid out, McShay was on ESPN Sportscenter this morning and released his latest mock draft (subject to change a minimum of three more times before the actual draft) for the opening round.
We at F.F.I., are obviously most curious about the Buccaneers with the #7 overall and the Dolphins with the #11 overall picks in the opening round. And, once you get beyond pick 10-15, it becomes a complete “crapshoot” who will still be there, who trades up, etc. to predict very much.
Back to what McShay laid out on a March Wednesday morning for ESPN viewers and subsequently, internet debate on what he believes the teams should do when it’s their turn:
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) March 7, 2018
The first interesting tidbit is McShay doesn’t have the Browns taking Penn State RB Saquon Barkley first. Coming off the Combine, where he was impressive with his skills results, that’s a bit surprising. Specifically, the Browns also have the fourth overall pick, and can obviously take one of the prominent QBs that will still be there at that spot.
Nonetheless, he has Cleveland taking Sam Darnold of USC and then Barkley going to the Giants at two. His next pick/slot is one that will have Bucs fans on edge, as he has N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb (the best one in this draft) going third to the Colts, who need pass rush help like the Buccaneers.
Then, as you can see from the t.v. graphic, he very interestingly doesn’t have the Bucs taking a defensive end/pass rusher, even though in his mock draft, Marcus Davenport of UT-San Antonio is available, and has them instead going with Florida State’s safety Derwin James.
We wrote yesterday about how impressive James was physically at the Scouting Combine over the weekend. However, safety may not be the biggest priority for Tampa Bay.
Moving on, Dolphins fans desperately want to see if the team would take a QB, and which one, at #11.
Well, you can’t see it on that t.v. graphic in the tweet above, but with Darnold and Wyoming QB Josh Allen (sixth to the Jets) gone in his mock draft, and with UCLA QB Josh Rosen still there at 11, McShay still says Miami should take OU QB Baker Mayfield.
The Heisman winning Mayfield has met with the Dolphins extensively already, and would be a very fascinating pick. Head coach Adam Gase made it clear in Indianapolis that Ryan Tannehill, off ACL surgery, will be his starter when training camp begins in late July. However, he did not rule out at all that Mayfield or another QB wouldn’t be drafted, possibly highly, to compete with him.
Also, interesting that McShay has UCF defensive back Mike Hughes going 13th to the Redskins. We wrote last week that Hughes’ name would get more and more sizzle at the Combine and afterwards, too.
Again, it’s a mock draft, subject to change, but still, with two Florida NFL franchises picking up high in the first round, it’s worth keeping track of for sure.
Latest on Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars injuries
With all three Florida teams in the NFL undefeated, their games take on added significance in week three. And there will be more scrutiny over everything, including the injury status of key players in their games.
Let’s begin in Miami with the Dolphins match-up coming Sunday with the Raiders. Miami safety Reshad Jones has been limited with a shoulder injury during practice this week and the Dolphins officially listed him as “questionable” on their Friday injury report. Even though Jones is a veteran, the fact that he was not able to practice this week has to be concerning.
Further, DeVante Parker is now off the injury report with a broken finger that is healed. However, even though he was active for the game last week, Parker was held out on a coach’s decision by Adam Gase. It will be curious as to whether Gase chooses to have him active, again and utilize him in this situation with Oakland.
For the Raiders their most significant injury is to veteran running back Marshawn Lynch who has been Limited in practice with his own shoulder injury. The Raiders did not designate Lynch’s status on their Friday injury report. However, limited practice for all three days would naturally indicate Lynch is questionable to play in the game at Hard Rock Stadium. Oakland has veteran Jalen Richard as a backup.
Next, in Jacksonville is the AFC South showdown with the Tennessee Titans. We have already documented that the Jaguars running back situation is up in the air with both Leonard fournette and T.J. Yeldon questionable with leg injuries. Corey Grant would be the back to fill in for Doug Marrone’s team, if needed.
A late add on Friday to the injury report is defensive back Jalen Ramsey with an ankle injury. He is officially listed as questionable and will likely at least try to play on Sunday.
Meanwhile for the Titans, two significant injury situations exist. One quarterback Marcus Mariota, who could not play last week with the nerve injury in his elbow that is keeping his fingers and hand tingling and numb has still been slowed at practice.
Mariota is officially listed as questionable on the Titans injury report. Veteran backup Blaine Gabbert played the game last week with Houston, which Tennessee won.
So it’s anyone’s guess as to what Mike Vrabel the Titans coach will do at quarterback for this week. Also injured for Tennessee is running back Derrick Henry with a back injury, but after being limited in practice earlier in the week. He was a full go for Friday and should be able to play Sunday afternoon.
Finally, for Monday nights Buccaneers match up with the Steelers. Both teams concluded their final full practices of the week on Saturday. For the Buccaneers, they have already ruled out rookie first round pick defensive tackle Vita Vea, who just returned to practice this week with an injured calf. This means Vea will have not played in the first three games of this season.
The good news is veteran defensive back Brent Grimes (above) has been back at practice with a groin injury and is officially listed as questionable. Grimes is expected to play and be covering Pittsburgh All Pro WR Antonio Brown during much of the game.
The Steelers biggest injuries are to offensive linemen David DeCastro (hand) and Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), who are both questionable. for Monday.
Some week one Fantasy “start’em or sit’em” advice
It’s the opening weekend of the NFL season, and also, fantasy football fans are rejoicing at seeing their season is getting underway, too.
So, with the fact that there’s so much interest in the beginning of the year and there are some unknowns involving the three Florida pro football teams, we decided to give out some quick “start or sit” fantasy football advice.
First up is the Buccaneers matchup with the Saints in New Orleans.
And while Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will be the focus of the Saints secondary, they have veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to them. They are probably both still worth the “start” on Sunday, especially Evans, who is off a disappointing season by his standards.
If you’re looking for a “sleeper,” it’s third receiver Chris Godwin, who really came into his own down the stretch of 2017. That included catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds against the Saints in week 17 .
More than likely, running back Peyton Barber (above) isn’t one of your primary backs in your league, but he will be the guy that gets the ball in key situations, including in the red zone and the goal line.
If you drafted rookie 2nd round pick speedster Ronald Jones, don’t expect much this week. While Jones will likely be active, he will probably be third-string behind Barber and Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers. And, he may not see the feel very much.
As for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill is back at the helm and that means receivers Kenny Stills and free agent newcomers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson are guys he will look to spread the ball around to against Tennessee.
As a Fins sleeper? We’ve been touting second round draft pick tight end Mike Gesicki. He will especially be a threat to score TDs in the red zone.
Similarly with Barber for the Bucs, Kenyan Drake will likely get the bulk of the carries in this game. However, different from the Tampa Bay situation, it’s veteran Frank Gore is in the Miami mix. And, no one is not clear yet, who will get the ball in the red zone and on the goal line.
So therefore it’s dangerous to play Drake, if you have other options.
As for the Jaguars who are in New York to play the Giants, Leonard Fournette is always going to be a “must-play.” He looks to get his second year off to a big start against a shaky Giants front seven.
The real question becomes whether you trust Blake Bortles to get the ball to any of Jacksonville’s receivers, if you drafted them?
With Marqise Lee lost for the season with his ACL injury, Donte Moncrief will assume the role as the number one receiver. Players like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are also good options. And we will have to play the” wait-and-see game” with how much rookie second-round pick wide receiver D.J. Chark will be used?
Again, most of the Jags receivers would be in the “sit’em” category, if you have other options.
Good luck with your team and roster and just remember this advice is worth every penny that you paid for it
Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaugars had surprises on cut down day
It’s a tough day all over the NFL has every team had to be down to 53 players at 4 p.m. eastern time. That meant for the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars, as well as everyone else, you were saying goodbye to 37 players that have been with you throughout the off-season and training camp.
There were some surprising names put on the waiver wire by each team:
In Tampa Bay, coach Dirk Koetter and staff parted with veteran safety and special-teams ace Keith Tandy. This one was a bit of a surprise because the six year veteran Tandy had moved into significantly more playing time the last couple of seasons. He started five games at the end of 2016 with 41 tackles and four interceptions. And by all accounts, he was a very hard-working and popular player. Bucs will apparently go with rookie Jordan Whitehead and also may move rookie defensive back MJ Stewart to safety some to compensate.
The Buccaneers also released two receivers in Bernard Reedy and Bobo Wilson, who saw a bunch of playing time and each had five catches in the final preseason game with Jacksonville.
Meanwhile for the Dolphins, they also released a veteran defensive back in Tony Lippett Saturday. Lippet had battled back from an achilles injury last year, but obviously was not effective enough for Adam Gase and staff to keep him on board. The Fins do have young DBs in Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, as well as veteran Bobby McCain.
Miami also released fourth string QB Bryce Petty who had an oblique injury the last two weeks of camp. The Fins kept David Fales as the third string QB behind Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler. Also, Miami cut WR Leonte Caroo, who was a third round pick in 2016.
In Jacksonville, a bit of a surprise, as the Jaguars did not keep third string quarterback Tanner Lee. Lee a rookie from Nebraska fared well on Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Buccaneers. However, for now, the Jaguars seem to be content to go with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler as the only two quarterbacks on the roster. Lee could come back on the practice squad.
Jacksonville cut veteran WR Shane Wynn and also injured tight end Ben Koyack in their moves.
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