And now, it begins. Thursday night 8 p.m. in Philadelphia. All the projections, mock drafts, debate, etc. will be replaced by actual teams picking actual players. It’s the NFL Draft 2017.
This will start (allegedly) with the Browns at #1, and then conclude around 3 1/2 hours later when the Saints (who got New England’s pick in the Brandin Cooks trade) will take the last player of the first round.
With all of this in mind, here are the four story-lines that intrigue us the most:
What do the Jaguars do at #4?
As we wrote earlier this week, Jacksonville not only has a new regime’ but they hold serious leverage with this early pick for themselves or potentially someone else.
Will it be LSU stud RB Leonard Fournette? Will it be a QB (Deshaun Watson?) or might the Jags deal out of this spot because the names Fournette, Mitchell Trubisky, Watson, and others are there, and are not something they feel they have to have?
Does Dalvin Cook last until the Buccaneers pick at #19?
Again, we have written a bunch about this possible marriage, but there are two essential scenarios:
Someone grabs Cook well before the Bucs can, or he starts to fall right into a position, where it seems to be a natural fit (Tampa Bay).
Many believe that both Fournette and Christian McCaffery will go before Cook in the opening round. That remains to be seen. It is also very likely that if both are gone, let’s say by the 10th pick, that several teams will be interested in picking or trading up to pick, Cook before #19.
Now, if he’s there for the Buccaneers, many believe GM Jason Licht will pull the trigger and take him. We will obviously find out very quickly whether Cook’s truly a priority (they take him). Or if the Bucs believe that they can trade down, they’ll take the risk of Cook being there later or just taking someone else later on, instead.
No matter what, it’s one of the big story lines, not only in our state, but around the entire NFL.
If it’s not Dalvin Cook, who’s the first state player taken in the first round?
This is a great debate. Is that name David Njoku, tight end from The U? Is it Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis? As our Jamil King suggests, is it maybe Noles DE Demarcus Robertson sneaking into the first round?
The Noles have had a player taken in round one in six of the last seven drafts, and it’s likely Cook will continue that trend. Then again, he may not. So we’re watching with you on who’s name from “the Sunshine State” comes up instead.
Finally, the Dolphins have to wait the longest of the three Florida NFL teams. Is it a defensive end?
It seems Miami has one main priority: pass rush. And there are a bevy of them in this draft, but who will still be there at #22? Derek Barnett of Tennessee? Charles Harris of Mizzou? Taco Charlton of Michigan? Or, do they covet another name?
Or if one or more of those guys are available and they pass on that position, what do they value more? Offensive line help? Secondary?
Miami was a playoff team in 2016 and has a lot of pieces in places. What do they add? We’re about to find that and a lot more out coming up tonight.
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.
Browns coach Jackson to Antonio Callaway- “I’ll have your
The second edition of “Hard Knocks” with the Browns aired Tuesday night on HBO and the dominant story line involved rookie former Gators WR Antonio Callaway.
One of the draws for the series each August is the the show has 24/7 access to the team through NFL Films’ cameras and microphones. And, it typically reveals insight and conversation not yet known.
And, the segments with Callaway did not disappoint in that department.
First, “Hard Knocks” already had Callaway mic’ed up for the Sunday afternoon August 5th workout, which was hours after Callaway was cited, but not arrested in a nearby town of Strongsville, OH, for driving with a suspended license and a small amount of marijuana in his car.
Something he did not tell anyone about.
Callaway’s story took up the first approximate 10 minutes of the show. And on the episode, both coach Hue Jackson (above) and offensive coordinator Todd Haley could sense something is wrong with Callaway, as his body language and ineffective play were going on that day.
Then, came the most intriguing and riveting part of entire show, as GM John Dorsey and Jackson met with Callaway after the news media found out about the traffic citations and told the team.
Dorsey was upset, as much with Callaway not telling them, as anything, but it was Jackson, who cut to the chase on Callaway’s expected behavior accountability in the future. “If you’re lying to me, I’ll have your ass,” he told the rookie.
Later in the episode, Jackson had Callaway stand up and apologize to the entire team.
And, then, as we wrote about Tuesday morning, when “Hard Knocks” filmed during the Browns opening preseason game with the Giants, you got more insight into Callaway playing the entire four quarters and 57 snaps of action. Callaway excelled during the game, including a catch and run touchdown from Baker Mayfield in the fourth quarter.
Again, Jackson, while mic’ed up for the show, was shown standing and putting his arm around Callaway in the fourth quarter and telling him that he believes in him.
Time will tell, if Callaway will continue to do the right things and stay out of trouble
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