NFL

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Mock Draft

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Everyone who loves the NFL can come up with their own mock draft.

Draft junkies, like Mel Kiper Jr., have made a nice career out of player projections and mock drafts.

I’m delivering my first annual Kipp Branch official mock draft.

I use the word official because I’m just dumb enough to put this in writing so I can be graded against it. Here goes the KB Top Ten NFL Mock Draft with trades factored in:

 

First Round

 

Pick 1: The Jacksonville Jaguars select the best QB prospect in the history of QB prospects Trevor Lawrence from Clemson.

Lawrence will be handed the keys to the city of Jacksonville and the surrounding community will suffer from a lack of local barbers because every young man within 150 miles of Jacksonville will refuse to get their hair cut ever again. Long hair will the cool fad in North Florida and South Georgia.

Lawrence will lead this franchise to a Super Bowl by 2025.

Pick 2: The NY Jets select Zach Wilson QB from BYU.

This pick is set in stone after Sam Donald was traded to the Carolina Panthers.

I feel sorry for Wilson because he is about to get thrown to the wolves. The Jets are struggling and the New York sports media eats young QB’s alive.

Good luck Zach you need all the help you can get.

Pick 3: The San Francisco 49ers select, and yes, I’m calling it, Mac Jones from Alabama.

Jones reminds me a lot of Joe Montana coming out of college and San Fran is the perfect landing spot for Jones.

This will go down as a great pick 5-10 years from now.

Pick 4: The Atlanta Falcons want to draft Kyle Pitts from Florida, but they don’t want to draft him this high so they trade with the Denver Broncos and move back to pick 9.

The Broncos select Justin Fields QB from Ohio State.

The Drew Lock experiment is over in Denver. Fields takes over in Denver on day 1.

Pick 5: Remember the Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase combination at LSU in 2019.

Well, this duo is about to be reunited in Cincy. Bengals take the best WR in the draft with Chase.

Pick 6: The Miami Dolphins select Devonta Smith WR from Alabama.

The Heisman winner gives Miami a playmaker that they need. The Dolphins are all in on Tua so you better get him some weapons.

Pick 7: My Detroit Lions need everything and I mean everything.

Is Jared Goff the answer at QB? Hell no he is not, but there are bigger needs.

The WR position has been gutted; wait, the phone rings and it is Jerry Jones of the Cowboys who offers the Lions some draft capital to move back to pick 10.

The Lions accept and the Cowboys select CB Patrick Surtain II from Alabama to address that horrendous secondary.

Pick 8: The Carolina Panthers select Penei Sewell, the best OL in the draft. Perfect fit for Sewell with Carolina trading for Sam Darnold. A protect our investment pick.

Pick 9: After trading down with the Broncos the Atlanta Falcons get the guy they wanted all along and that is Kyle Pitts TE from Florida.

Pitts will be a monster matchup problem for opposing teams. Great pick by Atlanta.

Pick 10: My Detroit Lions after trading down with Dallas take WR Jaylen Waddle from Alabama to replace often injured Kenny Golliday, who left via free agency.

Bonus Pick-Pick 11: The Chicago Bears trade with the NY. Giants and land in at #11 and select Trey Lance QB of North Dakota State.

Lance develops into a superstar to go along with that defense and the Bears become a beast in the NFC over the next decade.

There you have it folks. Zero chance at being correct, but it is fun to speculate.

Top Tight Ends

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There is debate at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and every defensive position on which NFL Draft prospect would be the top player at the position, but there is no question at tight end.

Florida’s Kyle Pitts is a special talent and will be an immediate weapon for the team that drafts him in the top 10.

After Pitts, there are three to four prospects who should be drafted on Day 2 followed by a handful of tight ends who will be targets in the mid to late rounds.

1.Kyle Pitts, Florida, 6-6, 246: On my draft board, Pitts is the second-best player in the 2021 NFL Draft and the rarest prospect after Trevor Lawrence.

Some scouts think Pitts could move to wide receiver and be a Calvin Johnson style player.

Pitts was dominant in 2020, showing superb speed, hands, leaping ability, route running, and dynamic mismatch potential for the NFL.

Every opponent was incapable of covering Pitts, including future first and second rounders in the Alabama and Georgia secondary. Some scouts say Pitts is the best receiving weapon in the draft and is a more dynamic mismatch than Chase, Smith and Waddle.

  1. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State, 6-5, 256: Freiermuth was solid in 2020 before going down with a season ending injury that required surgery.

Medicals will be extremely important for Freiermuth. As a receiver, Freiermuth has the potential to be a contributor to a team’s passing attack, but lacks separating speed and elite athleticism.

Freiermuth’s most distinctive positive trait is his physicality as a runner and blocker. NFL coaching will help him get a better technique and a more aggressive demeanor. Late round 2 – early round 3

  1. Brevin Jordan, Miami, 6-3, 244: Jordan is a smooth route runner with the quickness to separate.

He glides through the secondary and is able to use his athleticism with speed to get open.

Along with good route running, Jordan has very reliable hands that give him the ability to control the ball with his hands.

As a blocker, Jordan shows the willingness to block but he lacks size to take on NFL defensive ends and linebackers. Early round 3

  1. Hunter Long, Boston College, 6-5, 253: Long has good size and does an excellent job of winning contested catches.

He uses his build to shield off defenders with skilled body control and awareness to put himself in between the ball and coverage.

Long is a solid blocker but the skill set is not there for him to develop into an effective NFL blocker. He has the potential, but he needs to get stronger to pack more punch and sustain his blocks after point if contact. Late round 3 – early round 4.

  1. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame, 6-4, 252: Tremble displays the competitiveness to be a bulldozer as a run blocker and ties up defenders in pass protection.

Although his production was lacking at Notre Dame, his tape is enough to get scouts excited.

Tremble was an underutilized receiver in college and therefore unrefined in route running.

He flashed the athleticism and body control to work pass underneath defenders and make himself a large target. He is projected to be a better pro than college player as he continues to develop. Round 4-5.

  1. Tre’ McKitty, Georgia, 6-5, 245:McKitty only made six receptions during the 2020 season with the Bulldogs. He had better receiving production in 2018 and 2019 when playing for Florida State.

McKitty is a good athlete with a nice burst of speed out of his breaks to create space from defenders early on and challenge defenses vertically.

Scouts are concerned with his blocking and non-existent production in 2020.

Other players to look out for: Quintin Morris, Bowling Green; Nick Eubanks Michigan; Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss; Pro Wells, TCU; Tony Poljan, Virginia.

There is a clear delineation between the haves and the have nots at tight end in the NFL nowadays and this year’s draft is the same. There is Kyle Pitts and everyone else

Loading The Gun

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2021 NFL free agency free-for-all began on March 17, and it’s still up in the air whether or not the Jacksonville jaguars found a pot of gold.

The Jags started the league year with over $80 million in salary cap space, and found a couple of gems right off the bat.

The most noteworthy acquisition so far is, arguably, former Seattle Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin. The four-year veteran out of UCF had a solid 2020 campaign, posting 63 tackles, 12 coverage breakups, and three interceptions over 12 games.

His deal with Jacksonville is a 3-year, $44.5 million contract with $29 million guaranteed. It is expected that he will move immediately into a starting role opposite 2020 first-round pick C.J. Henderson.

This, combined with the re-signing of Sidney Jones, most likely means that last year’s injury-riddled season will be D.J. Harris’ last in teal & black.

Another defensive position getting some much-needed attention is Safety.

Former Charger Rayshawn Jenkins signed a 4-year, $35 million deal with $16 million guaranteed.

Another Safety, Auburn alum Rudy Ford, arrives from Philly, joining the team with a 2-year, $4.2 million contract. These two alone should provide some consistency for a wildly inconsistent defensive backfield.

Via trade, first year Head Coach Urban Meyer gets some help in the middle in the form of former Saints DT Malcom Brown.

A salary cap casualty for New Orleans, Brown joins DT Roy Robertson-Harris (CHI) and DE Jihad Ward (BAL) as the first pieces of a reworked defensive line that can easily improve on last years’ 30th ranked effort against the run.

Additionally, DT Tyson Alualu, the No. 10 overall selection by the Jaguars in 2010, returns after four years in Pittsburgh.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Jags signed two receivers off the Detroit Lions; ten-year veteran Marvin Jones Jr, and return specialist Jamal Agnew.

Jones should be a reliable target for assumed first overall pick Trevor Lawrence, and will help draw some double coverage away from DJ Chark.

Agnew is another player who will bring some consistency to their position (the Jaguars had six different kick returners last season), but whether or not his breakaway speed will be enough to earn him a WR3 slot on the offense over fellow free-agent acquisition Phillip Dorsett will be one of the more interesting stories to follow in training camp.

Regardless, the addition of this trio will help ease the sting of the pending shakeup in the Duval receivers corps.

While Keelan Cole has already signed with the Jets, the free-agent fates of former Bulldog Chris Conley and former Sooner Dede Westbrook have yet to be determined.

Another player re-joining the Jaguars is RB Carlos Hyde. Hyde played under former HC Doug Marrone in the massively under-performing 2018 season before being traded to the Browns. Hyde played college ball at Ohio State under Urban Meyer, so his familiarity with the system should make him a solid change-of-pace for second year back James Robinson.

At the Tight End position, the Jaguars have added former Panther Chris Manhertz, and have re-signed James O’Shaughnessy.

The team declined the option on former Bengal Tyler Eifert, and his status remains uncertain.

This position could be considered one of the few disappointments of the free-agent period so far, with the top two available TEs (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) both signing with the New England Patriots.

While these moves addressed some glaring needs on both sides of the ball, the Offensive Line still needs to be addressed, as does the elephant in the QB room – Gardner Minshew II.

With the departure of journeyman Mike Glennon to the Giants, the question remains who will be the backup to Trevor Lawrence when the draft makes his arrival in Duval official.

While Coach Meyer has said this week that they have no plans to trade Minshew “for now,” the lack of another veteran signal caller could be a final area to be addressed.

Alex Smith continues to be a name mentioned to fill that role, but if the Joe Flacco to San Francisco rumors prove false, Jacksonville could also be a good fit for the 2013 Super Bowl MVP.

Running Wild

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As your teams prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, I will take a look at the top running backs in this year’s draft class.

This year’s running back class isn’t as top heavy as last year’s, which had seven running backs drafted in the top 70 picks.

I think there will be three or four running backs drafted in the top 60, followed by a handful of backs who will be targeted in the top 200 picks.

Which backs will have a chance to make an immediate impact?

1.Travis Etienne, Clemson, 5’10, 200lbs: Etienne ran really well in 2020, showing a dynamic burst, improved strength and the ability to pick up yards after contact. He is also a dangerous receiving weapon out of the backfield.

Etienne could be a three down starter and inject speed and explosiveness into a team’s ground game. On top of being very fast, Etienne demonstrates very good running fundamentals; like the patience to let the hole develop, the vision to see lanes and the posture to run behind his pads.

Etienne is not the biggest back, but he runs hard and will be the first running back selected.

  1. Najee Harris, Alabama, 6’2, 230lbs: Harris has the quick, graceful feet of a much smaller back to elude pursuit, showing improved decision making and on field maturity as a senior in Tuscaloosa.

There is no doubt Harris has the ability and skill to be an impactful NFL three down running back.

Aside from his size and speed, Harris is a natural runner with good instincts. He shows excellent vision, patience and anticipation to follow his line before busting downhill.

Harris is not a proven threat in the pros yet, but his reliable skills set as a rusher, receiver and blocker makes him the second back off the board.

  1. Javonte Williams, North Carolina, 5’10, 220lbs: Williams was a load for the Tar Heels in 2020, showing both power and quickness as a runner.  He may have three down starting potential for the NFL. Some NFL experts think Williams could end up being the first running back drafted in April.

Williams is a physical bell cow back who can be the engine of a tough rushing attack.  He is a downhill runner who can impose his will through sheer strength.

Williams’ strong build, knee bend and ability to run behind his pads let him break a lot of tackles and pick up yards after contact. However, Williams will need some work as a blocker and identifying blitzing defenders.

  1. Kenny Gainwell, Memphis, 5’11, 191lbs: Gainwell decided to sit out in 2020 due to losing four family members to COVID-19.

Gainwell is a fast and explosive back, as well as a threat to rip off chunk plays on any touch. He also is a superb receiver out of the backfield with 51 receptions for 610 yards and three touchdowns in 2019.

Gainwell lacks ideal size and power, which leads to durability and usage concerns.

He is a versatile rushing and receiving threat with instinctive playmaking ability, projecting as a scheme-specific offensive weapon.

  1. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State, 5’11, 215lbs: Hill was phenomenal in the 2020 season opener, showing serious receiving ability to help lead a crucial upset over LSU. On top of making some huge catches, Hill did well as a pocket protector.

Hill was suspended over a locker room incident, and decided to sit out the rest of the season. He has a good skill set and could become a starter in the NFL.

NFL teams have said that Hill jumped out to them and became impossible to ignore.

Future Faces

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL Draft always has one guarantee; hope.

It’s the one time of the year where every fanbase can at least start the day with hope for the future and speculation runs rampant.

This year is no different…well, at least after the first pick, that is.

Trevor Lawrence headed to the Jaguars with the first overall pick is as close to a lock as you’re going to get.

Granted there is a small but noisy contingent of JagNation that is trying to sway public opinion towards picking Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith instead of T-Law 2.0, and an even smaller contingent trying to convince Shad Khan to go for Gator QB Kyle Trask in a Tebow-esque reach with the first pick. We have names for those people, and they are “misguided” and “delirious,” respectively.

No, Trevor Lawrence is coming to Duval, you can bank on that one.

Whether he starts immediately or not will be largely determined by whether or not the Jaguars use a slice of their $85mil+ of cap space to bring in a journeyman quarterback to ease the transition (Alex Smith seems to be the speculation du jour).

After the first pick, however, this year’s draft could turn into a lesson in controlled chaos.

First round trades have been on the decline over the last few years, but I think (hope?) that this year will be different.

The crop of quarterbacks alone looks to rival that of the fabled 1983 draft, and there are more than a handful of franchises with question marks behind center. With most mock drafts having the first four picks selecting QBs, if two more signal callers get the first-round nod, that would tie the record for most quarterbacks in the first round.

That outcome might not be outside of the realm of possibility. I think it’s safe to say that the top four in some order will read Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance (at least that’s the way I see them going), but there are several more that are worthy of first round consideration if the franchise fit is right.

Mac Jones, Alabama – Mac had a solid post-Tua career in Tuscaloosa. Draft prognosticators have him as a pretty solid first round candidate, more than likely headed to San Francisco or New Orleans.

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M – I’ll be honest, I always felt nervous when the Dawgs had to go up against him. There were times he looked like a Patrick Mahomes clone, and he had developed into a solid pocket passer with a refined touch pass already.

I don’t see why he couldn’t go late first round, especially last. I haven’t seen any speculation to back this up, but imagine him getting a year or two learning under Tom Brady. Scary. And speaking of scary…

Feleipe Franks, Arkansas – He’s a 6’ 6”, 234lb monster of a player with an attitude to match. If not for his consistency concerns, he’d be a first rounder easily. Regardless, there is a lot of potential there, and it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility that a GM somewhere develops a serious man crush and takes a big reach on the big slinger (lookin’ at you, Denver…)

Jamie Newman, Wake Forest – I don’t care what CKS says, I will never consider Newman a Dawg, and I will never forgive him for leaving UGA in a pickle at the last minute in 2020.

That being said, he’s a solid, albeit rusty, pro-style passer that could be seen as a safe option for a team that gets nervous after a run on quarterbacks in the draft.

Kyle Trask – Just kidding. He’s got “third round” written all over him. But hey, stranger things have happened, and he’s been mentioned as an Indianapolis target. In short, who knows?

Will 2021 be a first-round record-setter? I think that will be largely determined by who blinks in the Deshaun/Texans standoff, whether someone tries to milk one more season out of FitzMagic, and if Drew Brees finally makes his retirement official.

We’ll find out soon enough.

Hard Knocks

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Since its premiere in 2001, the HBO documentary series “Hard Knocks” has given its’ viewers an inside look at the preseason preparations of an NFL franchise.

The behind-the-scenes show has given NFL fans an in-depth look at some memorable moments over the years, from Chad Ochocinco’s final moment as a professional football player to the sideshow that was Antonio Brown’s brief tenure with the Raiders to the MMA-esque atmosphere of the fight-riddled Atlanta Falcons training camp.

Regardless of the fact that the show is an Emmy-winning production, many NFL coaches and GMs aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to be given the Hard Knocks spotlight.

The intrusive presence of camera crews at every practice, meeting, and team activity is understandably seen by many as a distraction.

In fact, the show has gotten a bit of a reputation as a potential jinx with three Head Coaches being fired either during or after the season they were profiled on the show.

In fact, the tendency to avoid being selected for the show got so ingrained that the league had to take measures to make sure there would be a team for the show.

In 2013, NFL executives announced that if no team volunteered to participate in Hard Knocks, the league could force a team to participate, as long as the team was not exempted by three circumstances: they’ve already been on the show in the previous 10 seasons, they have a first-year head coach, or they reached the playoffs in either of the two previous seasons.

For the 2021 season, there are five teams that do not meet any of those criteria; the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, and those media darlings the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys would seem to be the odds-on favorite to be selected this year, since they’ve been absent from the show since 2008 and they still (for whatever reason) continue to get some of the biggest ratings in the league.

A compelling case could be made for the Jaguars, however.

Yes, they have a first-year head coach in Urban Meyer. Although that could allow them to be excluded, the Jaguars have volunteered several times to be on the show but have been turned down every time (that NFL Network spinoff in 2004 doesn’t count).

The team & its fans are starving for some prime-time exposure. This upcoming December will mark ten years since the Jags last Monday Night Football appearance, and the 2018 matchups against the Steelers were the first Sunday Night Football slots since 2008.

Jagnation just wants some prime time attention that doesn’t involve a dreaded Thursday Night Football appearance.

The 2021 season of Hard Knocks seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

How will Urban Meyer fare getting his feet wet by diving headfirst into the NFL pond?

What will camp look like for the worst kept secret of a #1 overall pick in Trevor Lawrence?

Which leads into the side-story of what happens to the Legend of Gardner Minshew II?

How will James Robinson follow up his history-making rookie season after notching the most yards from scrimmage by an undrafted rookie ever?

It all adds up to an intriguing preseason for a dismal 1-15 team.

Will the Jaguars wind up on HBO? NFL.com writer & host of the Around the NFL podcast Dan Hanzus seems to think so, even though he “doesn’t lean on any behind-the-scenes awareness of the decision-making process” but instead relies on his “broad institutional knowledge and an understanding of the shifting league landscape.”

In fact, he calls it a premonition that the 100+ cameras of the Hard Knocks team will be camping out on the St. Johns this year.

If past seasons hold true, we should know for sure one way or another at the earliest by the end of March.

Life Of A Dawguar

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Every fan has at least one moment in their sporting life that they remember precisely where they were and what they were doing when it happened. I have two.

The first is January 1, 1981. I was 9 years old, and I remember clearly watching my quiet, reserved, school teacher mom literally jumping up and down on our living room couch screaming “GO! GO! GO!” as Hershel Walker rumbled up the middle for 25 yards against some Irish dudes.

It’s the first Georgia game I can remember watching, and it’s when I first realized there was something special about this game called “football.”

Those were some good days. The three years of Hershel Walker between the hedges was enough to spoil a budding football fan. A national championship, a trip to a second championship game, and a Heisman Trophy?

One could get used to this! Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and pat early-80s me on the head and say “there, there.” Football life for the Dawg Fan was not sunshine & roses for large swaths of the coming decades.

Oh sure, there were some great moments – the 2018 Rose Bowl, the 2005 SEC Championship over LSU, the 2007 “storm the field” victory over Florida. But for every great moment like these, there’s a Prayer at Jordan Hare, a 2nd & 26, and pretty much any game against Florida in the Spurrier years.

The second defining sports memory in my life came on November 30, 1993. I was throwing darts with some fraternity brothers at a place called The Brick in downtown Milledgeville when I looked up to the TV over the bar to see the announcement that Jacksonville had been awarded the 32nd NFL franchise.

I let out a massive holler that literally left everyone else in the place silent. Under normal circumstances, I would have been mortified, but I was elated. My hometown was getting an NFL team! (Yes, I know. I’m from Brunswick, but as Jim Rome once said, Brunswick is just a suburb of Jacksonville that happens to be in another state. Again, tell me I’m wrong.)

Much like my early days as a citizen of Dawgnation, the early days of Jaguars fandom was the stuff of legends.

The AFC Championship game in our second year. Three consecutive trips to the postseason in the years following. That epic 14-2 season in 1999. And then, much like the post-1983 Dawgs, it all came crashing down. The Blaine Gabbert years. The Justin Blackmon debacle. Those damn tarps. The Tennessee &!%$*#@ Titans.

Yes, you could say I’m a glutton for punishment. Doubly so when you realize how few people fall into the Venn Diagram intersection of “Dawg fan” and “Jags fan” – “Dawguars,” if you will.

Most Dawg people are Falcon fans simply due to geography, regardless of how allegedly infrequently the Falcons draft UGA players  – three since 1995 by the way.

Three players, coincidentally, is how many UGA alums the Jaguars have drafted in that same span…and also how many North Avenue Trade School “players” have snuck their way onto the Jags roster as well.

All of those numbers are dwarfed by the massive 11 players from Gainesville that have gone on to wear teal & black.

Eleven hated amphibians that we booed on Saturdays that we now have to choke down the bile and root for on Sundays.

Players like Fred Taylor, one of the Pride of the Jaguars, that broke our heart for years at the WLOCP. First rounders like Taven Bryan & CJ Henderson. And now, after the Marrone era, we now welcome a former Gator to the Head Coaches’ office – Mr. Urban Meyer. Ugh.

Whether or not this winds up being another Pete Carroll success or another rare Nick Saban failure in the NFL is yet to be seen.

I hold high hopes that Urban will be able to take that “generational talent” headed our way from Clemson (really? I’ve gotta support a Clemson player now, too? Fine…) and return us to the halcyon days reminiscent of those first five years of our franchise history.

If he gets us our first Lombardi, this Dawg will be understandably ecstatic.

I’m just glad it’s not Spurrier. Even I have limits.

Draft Board

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2021 NFL Draft will start April 29 in Cleveland, Ohio.

We have plenty of time to speculate how teams will address their needs leading up to that.

Let’s take a look around the NFC South and look at who these teams should select with their first-round pick.

Atlanta: The Falcons started the season with five losses and finished with a 4 – 12 record. Dan Quinn was fired after the slow start.

Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith was hired as head coach once their season ended. As OC for the past two years in Nashville Smith showed us that he knows how to force feed Derrick Henry.

Atlanta has the 4th overall pick and they have a decision to make. Should they move on from Matt Ryan and draft a young quarterback? Or do they believe in the offense and select a player to help on the porous defense?

If they want to keep Ryan, then Alabama corner back Patrick Surtain II is the best pick. I feel old because I remember his dad from Madden 2003. He’s the best corner in the draft and he would instantly help the secondary.

If they decide to go with a quarterback, they will have to choose from Trey Lance (North Dakota St.), Mac Jones (Alabama) or Zach Wilson (BYU). I think Wilson is the best out of these three and should strongly be considered if he’s still on the board.

Carolina: The Panthers were 5 – 11 in 2020 and have the 8th pick.

All-World running back Christian McCaffrey missed the majority of the season. They don’t have many offensive weapons other than McCaffrey.

They did add quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and speedy receiver Robby Anderson in free agency last year. Anderson did have 95 receptions, 1,096 yards and 3 scores but he’s not a number one receiver.

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts would be a great addition. Pitts is 6’6, 246 pounds and a very good athlete. In 8 games he had 43 catches, 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. He could have an impact like Travis Kelce does for the Chiefs.

Quarterback could also be an option if they like the players that will still be available.

New Orleans: The Saints (12 – 4) have the 28th pick. First ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees is expected to retire. They pick so late in the first round that quarterback is not an option.

Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins would be a good pick. He’s 6’4, 260 pounds and versatile. He blocked two kicks on special teams. He had a career high 14 tackles against an SEC team (Arkansas).

South Carolina corner Jaycee Horn could also be an option. His father Joe was a receiver for the Saints.

Tampa Bay: The Bucs (11 – 5) won the Super Bowl in Tom Brady’s first season with the team. They are strong on offense so they will probably draft a defensive player.

Texas linebacker Joseph Ossai would be a good pick. In 9 games this season he had 54 tackles and 5 sacks.

Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon might also be considered. He had 45 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 8 games.

False Start

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We all love to make predictions and nowhere is that more than in sports.

Not only do we love to predict which teams will win and what players will receive end of the year honors, but each sport’s draft is predicated entirely on how a team predicts a particular player will perform.

For the most part I try to stay away from making predictions as much as I can; I’m not very smart and there are so many outside factors it can be a pretty risky business.

However, when it comes to the length of Urban Meyer’s tenure in Jacksonville, I’m willing to make an exception.

If I had to guess as to how much time will elapse before Meyer has another medical condition forcing him to retire, I’d put the over/under at 3 years. And just to clarify, I’m not mocking anyone with a medical condition, just those who seem to have them at the most opportune times.

There are a myriad of reasons why I don’t think this relationship between Meyer and the Jaguars will work out, but they all come back to one single fact most others have already touched on- Meyer isn’t in college football anymore.

There’s a reason why Pete Carroll’s transition from college to the NFL is the exception and not the rule- it’s damn hard.

Meyer was an excellent college coach and the one person I believe would’ve given Nick Saban a run for his money had he stuck around in either Gainesville or Columbus.

But, besides not being sure his systems will work in the NFL, I’m not convinced his approach to coaching will work.

The fiasco that was the Chris Doyle hire, followed by the even more ridiculous press conference, is a perfect example.

In college you may lose a player or two after bringing in someone with the history of a Doyle, but for the most part it’s a storm that passes without much fallout.

(The student athlete has become much more vocal recently, so in all fairness, the storm may be louder now than a few years ago.)

As Meyer found out really quickly, those types of hires don’t fly in the NFL. Players aren’t relying on a head coach to get them to the next level, they’re already there.

And specifically speaking to a strength coordinator, most of the work NFL players do is on their own with their own trainer. Making a decision like that is almost all risk with absolutely no reward, not that the possible reward is an excuse to sell that hire anyway.

Meyer’s history of making these types of bonehead decisions and choices to double down on them because he could in college, is an indication he isn’t really prepared for what he’s about to embark on.

Winning cures a lot of ailments, but it doesn’t cure them all. If he’s going to be successful, he’s going to have to change more than just X’s and O’s.

Who knows, maybe Meyer has been able to figure out how to manage the day-to-day stresses of being a head coach and put those issues behind him.

Maybe he’ll wind up having a very successful stint as Jacksonville’s head coach, lasting into the next decade. Those are all things that could very well happen, I’m just not willing to predict it.

Picks Of The Litter

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After a very disappointing 2020 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are making major changes to their organization.

First, the Jaguars promoted Trent Baalke to General Manager and then hired Urban Meyer as their Head Coach.

Both Baalke and Meyer have their work cut out for them to rebuild this depleted roster. The good news is the Jags have the most cap space in the NFL and multiple first round draft picks.

Here is a breakdown of the Jaguars overall picks in the 2021 NFL draft.

Round 1: The Jaguars have their pick the first overall and the Los Angeles Rams via the Jalen Ramsey trade number 25.

Round 2: Jags have the 33rd overall pick and the 45th overall pick via trade with Minnesota for defense end Yannick Ngakoue.

Round 3: Jags have the 65th overall.

Round 4: Jags have their own selection and Los Angeles’ part of Ramsey’s trade.

Round 5: Jags have two picks: their own and The Cleveland Browns via the Ronnie Harrison trade.

Round 6: Jags have no picks due to trading for Kamalei Correa.

Round 7: Jags have their pick and Tennessee Titan’s pick.

Reminder: there will likely be compensatory picks at the end of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth round, so the total number of picks will not be determined until all compensatory picks are awarded by the NFL.

The Jags will determine their draft needs after shopping in the free agent pool. The Jags are projected to have $74 million in cap space, so the “Urban Renewal Project” is underway.

I will be assessing the Jags’ needs heading into the 2021 offseason starting with the least significant to the most significant.

Secondary: The Jags had a huge drop off in secondary play. Injuries within the group only made things worse, and as a result they were ranked 30th in the NFL.

At safety, the Jags could use one starter alongside Jarrod Wilson. I could also argue Wilson needs to be replaced.

The 2021 free agent class is very strong with Justin Simmons, Anthony Harris, Marcus Maye and John Johnson.

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