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The argument for offensive guard Quenton Nelson to go in top 10 in draft

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Will Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson buck the trend of players at his position being taken highly in the first round? That’s still to be determined.

What isn’t up for debate? Nelson has a strong case as any guard in this decade to go in the top 15.

We wrote previously about the Notre Dame Captain who is 6’5 330lbs and has a “nasty streak” to go along with his impressive play. And, that Nelson might be a good fit for the Bucs at #7 overall, and maybe for the Dolphins at #11.

Well, the accolades and momentum continue to stack up.

First, Nelson was impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine in February:

And, many teams came away impressed with his interview sessions.

One NFL personnel source tells F.F.I. that Nelson convinced numerous teams even more, that he should go in the first round, once they got to be around and talk to him in Indianapolis.

Next, you see something like this analytical look at his pass protection last year with the Fighting Irish, and you cannot help but be impressed:

Now, look, we get that an offensive guard giving up sacks in pass protection is much more rare than a tackle on the end of the line. However, one sack allowed in 430 passing snaps? That’s a ridiculously good stat.

And then, late last week, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly appeared on the NFL Network’s “NFL Up to the Minute” program to talk more about Nelson and his fellow line teammate Mike McGlinchy having played for him and their professional futures:

We particularly like hearing from Kelly, “We knew what his (Nelson’s) intent was..to be the best on every single play. And, to bring out the best in the players around him.”

Kelly’s endorsement will also have an impact on how high that Nelson will be considered on night one of the draft.

If you are curious about how unusual it is for a guard to go high in the first round? Then, consider only one player, Leonard Davis in 2001, has been picked in the top five since 2000. And, only eight total have been taken in the first round since 2010.

Still, all signs are pointing to Quenton Nelson to go on night one, and with the Buccaneers and Dolphins in need of some guard help/depth, he may be one of their targets.

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Latest on Friday injuries for Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the weekend and all three Florida NFL teams get ready to host opponents in Sunday early action, there are some significant injuries to once again go over.

Here’s the latest with what we know officially and otherwise:

Jaguars

As Jacksonville welcomes division-rival Houston to TIAA Bank Field, they have already ruled out running back Leonard Fournette for this matchup. This will be the fifth time in six games that for that is inactive and Coach Doug Marrone briefly told the media Friday that he has no idea now, when Fournette will return. We continue to stand by our source that told us nine days ago that he will rest through the bye week.

Also significant for the Jaguars is Calais Campbell being listed as questionable with ankle and hip injuries. Campbell (above) is one of the unquestioned leaders for the Jacksonville squad. He is expected to try to play. The Jags did take TJ Yeldon off of their injured list with his ankle problem and he will be active for the game Sunday.

Buccaneers

Tampa Bay will be down two defensive lineman, including Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. McCoy, who injured his calf in the second half of the loss to Atlanta last week, was unable to practice all week. So, it’s not surprising that he’s out. Defensive end Vinny Curry also suffered an ankle injury in the Atlanta game and is likewise out for Sunday. Bucs rookie defensive back Carlton Davis has been hampered by a back injury but was able to practice on Friday and is listed as questionable. Also quarterback Jameis Winston is on the injury report with a hip injury but will play on Sunday against Cleveland.

Dolphins

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had already been ruled out for this game with his injured shoulder. So for the second straight week, Brock Osweiler will be the starting quarterback in Miami. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball defensive end Cam Wake, who missed last week’s game with an injured knee, is officially listed as questionable for the match up with the Lions.

Likewise, defensive back Bobby McCain, who missed the game with Chicago last Sunday, is also listed as questionable with an injured knee.

The Dolphins went ahead and ruled out last year’s number one pick, defensive end Charles Harris again, for this week with an injured calf. It’s not surprising because here is had not been able to practice all week due to the injury.

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Silliness of coaches withholding info for “competitive advantage”

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Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

There is no disputing that coaches love to play games. Games with their opponents. Games with the public/media and even, games with themselves and their own staffs.

One of the biggest games that coaches like to play is withholding who might be starting for them at a key position all the way up until the last second. This is especially true with quarterback disputes or controversies. And, it’s in the name of “Competitive Advantage,” that they like to withhold information or updates.

And there has been no shortage of it in our state both at the pro and college level this season.

The most famous examples were once again this past weekend, when the Buccaneers had franchise quarterback Jameis Winston back off suspension and eligible to start the game with Chicago Sunday. Yet veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing “lights out” during most of his three previous starts.

Likewise, the Jaguars were dealing with Leonard Fournette’s hamstring injury and his status for Sunday’s game with the Jets was once again a competitive advantage mystery.

In the Bucs case, coach Dirk Koetter continued to stonewall the media and the public, all week, even after he admitted that he had told Fitzpatrick and Winston who was going to start against the Bears last Tuesday. In the name of competitive advantage, the coach went all the way through the weekend and up until game time before Fitzpatrick trotted out onto the field to start Sunday’s disastrous 48 – 10 loss.

Winston did start and play the entire second half, when the issue had long been decided. He threw two interceptions and a fourth-quarter touchdown in the loss. More on the Buccaneers QB situation in a second.

In the Jaguars case, we have written extensively about Coach Doug Marrone playing “cat-and-mouse” with Fournette’s health and whether he would be available to play the last couple of weeks.

For last weekend’s game with the Titans, Fournette was limited in practice and listed as “questionable” and again in the name of competitive advantage, the second-year Jaguars coach would not say definitively whether fournette was going to play or not. This went on all the way up until the inactives were released 90 minutes before the the Tennessee game, when Fournette’s name appeared on that list, and then everyone knew he was not playing.

The same thing held true this past weekend, when Marrone repeatedly refused to definitively say whether Fournette was going to give it a try. That’s despite the fact that he had practiced fully on Friday, and once again, was listed as questionable.

Fournette did play in the first half of the game, carrying the ball 10 times but re-aggravated the hamstring injury in the second half and did not return.

Now, in that case, Marrone is left to explain why they tried it this past week as opposed to waiting one more week. And, now, there’s a real possibility that the rookie of the year last season could miss at least another game or two with the hammy.

But don’t count on getting any straight answers, in the name of competitive advantage.

Interestingly, Koetter completely contradicted the whole competitive advantage thing, when he came right out of his Monday news conference and announced that Winston will start after the Bucs bye week against the Atlanta Falcons.

While this conveniently relieves the Bucs third year coach of having to answer the questions for the next two weeks about who his quarterback will be, that also held true this past week and weekend. And yet, in the name of….. you got it, competitive advantage, he refused to say.

So, it’s worth pointing out: that the competitive advantage gained by not telling the Bears for sure that Fitzpatrick will be the quarterback was bigger than telling the Falcons, 13 days in advance, that Winston will be the quarterback.

Got it.

And the Pro coaches are not alone, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt did the same thing with his quarterback switch for last Thursday night’s win over North Carolina. He repeatedly refused to announce to the media, fans or to the Tar Heels, whom his starter would be for the ACC showdown at Hard Rock stadium.

This again went all the way up until game time, when Richt told ESPN that Perry would be starting just before the kickoff of the game . As it turns out, senior Malik Rosier went to the bench and the red shirt freshman Perry played solidly, as the Hurricanes rolled to an easy victory.

And look, the preeminent college coach of this Century, Nick Saban did the same thing all offseason and all the way up until Alabama’s opening kickoff with Louisville in game one. That’s when Saban decided to start sophomore Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback over his previous starter from the last two seasons Jalen Hurts.

Again, no one can question Saban’s success, but still,  it’s silly that Louisville and other opponents wouldn’t be preparing for both Tagovailoa and Hurts to play against them.

So, as this goes on, media members roll their eyes and continue to try to find out on their own, who’s going to play or not play.

The bottom line is other teams are prepared for anything too, and it’s just as easy for you to go ahead and say who’s going to play, or not, as it is to play competitive advantage games

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Friday afternoon final injury reports for Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As we head to the fourth weekend of the season, the injuries for the Bucs, the Dolphins, and the Jaguars are plentiful, and as usual it’s a mixed bag of good and bad news for all three teams.

First, and for the first time this season, Buccaneers rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea was able to practice fully and will possibly make his debut against the Bears Sunday. Vea, who Tampa Bay took in the first round, has been sidelined since the first week of the preseason with a calf strain. He is officially questionable on the report, but coach Dirk Koetter told the media “he has a chance to play” on Sunday.

The Bucs banged up secondary, which put veteran Chris Conte on IR mid week, has three more players injured and also listed as questionable. Rookies Carlton Davis (groin) and Jordan Whitehead (shoulder/hamstring) are being watched carefully and veteran DB Marcus Williams who was picked up off waivers two weeks ago, is also questionable with a hamstring injury.

As for the Dolphins, it is also a mixed bag on the official report as they get set to travel to New England. Defensive End Andre Branch, who has been unable to practice all week was ruled out with his injured knee. Meanwhile, safety Reshad Jones, who missed last week’s game with Oakland, was able to practice Friday and is listed as questionable. Miami did add defensive end Cam Wake to the injury report with an slight knee injury, but he has been a full participant in practice all week.

In Jacksonville, the most important hamstring in North Florida belongs to Leonard Fournette. As we wrote earlier this week, it’s a bad sign that he was not able to practice on Wednesday or Thursday and is likely to be inactive for a third straight game. There is some hope that the Jaguars listed him as a “full participant” in practice, but then, as questionable on the report.

It should be noted that the Jags and coach Doug Marrone did the same thing last Friday with Fournette’s status, and he didn’t play in the loss to the Titans. So, it will be another tenuous weekend for those own Fournette in their fantasy leagues.

Backup running back T.J. Yeldon is also listed as questionable with his ankle injury, but he was able to start last week against Tennessee and had a combined thirteen runs and receptions in the game.

Also, kicker Josh Lambo, who kicked two field goals in Sunday’s 9-6 loss, had not practiced Thursday with an injured hip. However, he did participate Friday fully and is now not on the injury report for the game at the Jets.

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