The ACC Domino

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Once upon a time, the ACC was a premier athletic conference.

Having North Carolina and Duke means the conference has a shot at a national championship almost every year in basketball.

In football, they have a few solid programs. Clemson won a national championship in 1981. Georgia Tech won a share of the national championship with Colorado in 1990. The Yellow Jackets also have claimed three more national championships (1917, 1928, 1952) and three unclaimed national titles (1916, 1951, 1956).

Florida State joined the ACC July 1, 1991 and started playing football in 1992. The Seminoles won or shared a conference championship in their first nine seasons. They also won national championships in 1993, 1999 and 2013.

FSU was a top program in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Their rival, Miami was also an elite team dating back to the 1980’s. The Hurricanes won national championships in 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 and 2001. They were undefeated before losing the BCS Championship Game in overtime in 2002. UM was an independent before joining the Big East in 1991.

In 2004 they left the Big East for the ACC along with Virginia Tech and Boston College. At the time it looked like the ACC was going to elevate to an elite football conference.

The Hokies played Florida State in the 1999 national title game and they routinely produced NFL talent. Boston College is a solid program that would normally make it to bowl games.

Unfortunately, the only team that lived up to expectations early on was Va Tech. They were the ACC Champs in their first year (2004) and won again in 2007, 2008 and 2010. They defeated Boston College in the conference championship game in 07 and 08.

Miami has never won the ACC since joining. Florida State falling off in the 2000’s and Miami never living up to expectations are the foundation to why they are in jeopardy of shutting down in the near future.

Dabo Swinney took over as the head coach for Clemson during the 2008 season and turned them into a national power. He led the Tigers to their first ACC title in 2011, then again from 2015-20 and 2022. They also won national titles in 2016 and 2018.

Clemson was the only marquee team in the conference for most of this time.

In another round of expansion Syracuse and Pitt joined the ACC in 2013. Notre Dame also joined that year in all sports except football. Louisville joined in 2014. These moves show adding teams just for the sake of it but not actually improving anything. Maryland left the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014.

This season is another round of expansion with SMU, Cal and Stanford joining the conference in all sports starting in 2024. This is another case of adding schools but not gaining any real value. Perhaps it can be looked at as expanding the recruiting footprint to Dallas and northern California at best.

Looking at it honestly, these are teams that do not compete for conference titles and certainly not on a national level. The conference is like a dead man walking at this point.

By comparison, the SEC adds Texas and Oklahoma this season. Two historically great football programs.

As you have heard by now, Clemson and FSU are suing the ACC to leave the conference. It is also reported that UNC wants to leave. This is the last domino to fall in creating super conferences in college sports if any of the current members can escape their contract with the ACC.


On The Clay

By: Teddy Bishop news services

With the French Open looming on the horizon tennis eyes are focusing on the red-clay courts of Roland Garros.

The very first French Open was held in 1891, but was aptly called the French Championships, since only men who were citizens of France were allowed to compete. The champion is listed as H. Briggs.

The French Championships didn’t include women until 1897. Four Frenchwomen competed, with Adine Masson winning the title. Masson went on to win a total of five French Championships.

In 1925, the tournament became international and was designated a Grand Slam event.  Rene Lacoste of France won the men’s title, defeating fellow countryman Jean Borotra. Frenchwoman Susanne Lenglen defeated Britain’s Kathleen McKane to win the ladies’ title.

In 1928, a new tennis complex was built in Paris, and the president of the complex insisted that it be named Roland Garros Stadium, after a World War I hero, even though Garros never played professional tennis.

So—who was Roland Garros? Garros was an ‘ace’ French fighter pilot that came up with safer propeller blades that allowed for forward firing of machine guns.

There is some discrepancy as to how many enemy planes he actually shot down, but five downed planes would have classified him as an ‘ace.’ (Aerial warfare was something new. Remember, WWI started barely a decade after the Wright brothers and Kitty Hawk.)

In 1915, Garros’ plane developed engine trouble during an airfight, and he made an emergency landing in German territory.

He was quickly captured and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. When he escaped some three years later, the war was winding down, but he resumed his role as a fighter pilot.

Unfortunately, a month before the war ended, Garros was killed when his plane was shot down. He was twenty-nine.

Enough about Roland Garros, the fighter pilot. Let’s talk about Roland Garros, home of the French Open Grand Slam tennis tournament.

The winningest player ever at Roland Garros is Rafael Nadal. Fourteen (the all-time record) of Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam titles have come at Roland Garros. Despite some recent injuries, the Spaniard is expected to go for number fifteen.

Bjorn Borg of Sweden won the French six times. Novak Djokovic, the GOAT with 24 Grand Slam championships, has only won three titles at Roland Garros (including 2023).

Switzerland’s Roger Federer, with 20 Slam titles, had only one championship at the French Open.

On the women’s side, American Chris Evert has the most French Open titles with seven, the first one in 1974, the last one in 1986.

German Steffi Graf won the title six times, as did Suzanne Lenglen, but only two of Lenglen’s wins came after the tournament became international.  Serena Williams, arguably the greatest woman tennis player of all time with 23 Grand Slam titles, won the French only three times.

The first American woman to win the French Open was Helen Wills Moody in 1928, her first of four. The first American man was Don Budge in 1938. He actually won all four Grand Slam titles (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) that year, but 1938 was his only French Open victory.

Prize money for 2024 will be the highest ever, with both the men’s and ladies’ champion earning $2,567,051. Runners-up will receive $1,283,525. First-round losers will get $78,081. All prize money will be paid in Euros, of course.

The French Open begins Sunday, May 26th, and culminates with the Ladies’ Championship on Saturday, June 8th , and the Men’s Championship on Sunday, June 9th.

On to Roland Garros!

Small Town Pride

By: Charlie Moon news services

Charlton County Indian baseball coach Thad Marchman told me, “Our players and community take a lot of pride in our field.”

I had no idea where he was going after asking him about Charlton’s (Folkston, GA) hometown feel.

I wondered, “Is this guy ok?” It’s a busy week for him, but…..more on that later.

This weekend, for my third consecutive year, I’m honored to call the GHSA A-Div. 2 State Championships at Georgia Southern’s JI Clements Field. I feel like an honorary Tribe Nation member.

The #1 ranked Indians (36-2, 20-0) battle #2 ranked, fellow Region 2 rival, Lanier County (32-9, 15-5) – a 3-game series.

For the Tribe, it’s familiar territory. Since Marchman took over in 2007, Folkston’s diamond boys have won 3 state and 10 region titles, including a state title last year.

The only thing between them and a possible 3rd consecutive state title, is a 2022 mis-played deep left field fly ball on a late-night cloudy, hazy sky against Metter, at JI Clements Field.

…..back to why Marchman talked about their field, when discussing Folkston pride.

“First thing we did when I started was, improve our field. Our players and community take a lot of pride in it. It’s beautiful…come a long way. All players have a role making it that way and keeping it that way.”

I knew where he was going now.

“That’s a reflection of our town. The common ground of small-town high school athletics builds the hometown feel, taking pride in how we represent our community when we play, keeps it that way.”

And it’s not just baseball. In the modern era, between baseball, football and hoops, Charlton owns 7 state titles, 36 region titles and 7 state runners-up.

Although Charlton has had long-time athletics success, baseball was a doormat – until Marchman arrived in 2007.

“We immediately focused on the field so our players would have a place they were proud to play. Then we focused on discipline, then on performance.

We finally started to see some success in 2011. We made the state playoffs for the first time since like 1977.”

Marchman doesn’t worry about private schools poaching players either.

“I have to coach the players that live in my county. Whoever is there, that’s who I am going to coach. If they want to be with us, great. If not, that’s ok too.”

Charlton and Lanier call the Okefenokee Swamp their backyard. They’ll shut down their towns, drive to Statesboro, and decide a state title.

One thing is for sure. The Indians of Charlton will bring every bit of hometown pride that JI Clements Stadium can handle!


By: Robert Craft news services

Six quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, tying the 1983 class, which included Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

Despite the college landscape’s losses, SEC Football will have no shortage of talent at QB1 in the 2024 campaign.

From veteran transfers to young standouts, countless QBs are hungry for their shot at glory in the upcoming season. Here are my top 5 SEC quarterbacks heading into 2024-25.

  1. Garrett Nussmeier (LSU): Nussmeier’s only start last season came in LSU’s victory over Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

In the win, Nussmeier exploded with talent: 31 completions, 395 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. I feel confident Nussmeier can replicate this success next season in an expanded role.

LSU is going to score a lot of points, and, it’s [Nussmeier’s] team now. He knows that. Brian Kelly knows that. Everyone in that locker room knows that. And, I think we got a preview of it during the bowl game.

  1. Nico Iamaleava (Tennessee):Nico Iamaleava finished last season with 28 completions for 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.

During Tennessee’s 35-0 win over Iowa (Cheez-It Citrus Bowl), Iamaleava completed 12-of-his-19 pass attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown. He also had three scores on the ground. I believe Iamaleava might realize his full potential this season.

  1. Jalen Milroe (Alabama):Jalen Milroe finished this past season with 2,718 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions.

He was also a significant threat on the ground, collecting 468 rushing yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns on the ground.

While Nick Saban is no longer leading the Crimson Tide, My prediction is Milroe will continue to roll over his opponents.

Milroe and Kalen DeBoer, to me, are a lot like the french fry and milkshake combo. It sounds like two things that are very different wouldn’t go well together. I think that’s Kalen DeBoer and Jalen Milroe. You don’t think they’re supposed to go together and then you try it and you’re like, Oh, wow, this is phenomenal.

  1. Jaxson Dart (Ole Miss):Jaxson Dart led one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation last season.

In 2023, the 6-foot-2 QB recorded 233 completions for 3,364 passing yards and 23 touchdowns while only tossing 5 picks. I am forecasting these numbers will grow in the upcoming season.

1B. Quinn Ewers (Texas):Quinn Ewers threw for 3,161 yards and 21 touchdowns across 11 games as a redshirt sophomore last season, leading Texas to its first College Football Playoff appearance in program history.

Expect even more jaw-dropping statistics from Ewers this year.

Ewers, I think has the ability to have the best statistical performance out of anybody on this list this season. He has figured out what works in college football. The light bulb is on. It’s not blinking. It’s beaming.

1A.  Carson Beck (Georgia):Carson Beck finished this past season ranked third nationally and first in the SEC in passing yards (3,941), as well as fourth in the nation in completion percentage (.724).

For his efforts, he was named a Coaches All-SEC Second Team selection. Obviously, I anticipate more accomplishments for Georgia’s QB1.

I have the highest level of confidence that [Beck] is going to execute his job at the highest level every single Saturday..

A Near Strike Out

By: Colin Lacy news services

In a series opening game in May at Founders Park in Columbia, Georgia Baseball opened a three-game series against the then Number 13 South Carolina Gamecocks.

The Dawgs chased the Gamecock’s starter Roman Kimball after scoring four in the top of the 1st inning, then the second inning saw Charlie Condon launch a Ty Good first pitch past the left field wall to go back-to-back with teammate Corey Collins. That blast was his 34th of the season to maintain the national homerun lead.

Condon not only led the nation in homers, but also led the country with an average over .450 and had driven in 72 runs at that point for the Diamond Dawgs. He’s having a historic year for Georgia, but it’s almost a career that never came to fruition.

Near the end of his career at The Walker School in Marietta (North Metro Atlanta area), Condon had no Division I offers to play baseball.

The two offers on the table were from D III Rhodes College in Memphis and University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn to play both baseball and also play quarterback for the football programs.

Condon did have a potential preferred walk-on opportunity for the Tennessee Volunteers, but a late pull from Vols Head Coach Tony Vitello took that opportunity off the table.

Scott Stricklin, former Georgia Head Coach from 2014 thru 2023, got a phone call from a friend telling him about Charlie, and was told that Condon may be a potential target.

Stricklin and staff got some video of Condon’s skills and thought he would be able to be a factor for the Dawgs down the road.

So how did everyone miss on someone that potentially could be the number one overall pick in the upcoming MLB Draft?

Well, it may be a full storm of factors. First off, Condon was a late bloomer. While the last few years in high school were impressive, he wasn’t on the top travel ball team, he wasn’t the measurable masterpiece.

All of that along with COVID-19 was affecting the sports world still while his recruiting process. High school schedules were affected, College coaches weren’t out on the road and able as many players as they normally would, so late bloomers, and players that were under the radar didn’t get a look.

If there needed to be another factor, the MLB Draft was shortened from 40 rounds to 20, so there weren’t many scholarships to go around.

Condon turned into the perfect fit for the Bulldogs before even taking an at-bat. Condon was exceptional student and was able to be accepted to the University of Georgia and didn’t need a scholarship to come to school.

As a pure walk-on, Condon didn’t see action as a freshman. Scott Stricklin told Condon that the plan was for him to redshirt and really hit the weight room in 2022 to grow into the player that Stricklin thought Condon could be.

While that is the plan, Stricklin saw that Condon was special and had told other college coaches that possibly the best hitter on his roster was a redshirt.

Condon took the redshirt in stride and gained 15-20 pounds of muscle, and seeing college pitching made it click at the plate.

If Condon wasn’t special enough, or as one scout called him “a unicorn,” he had to deal with another bit of adversity after 2023 when Stricklin (the coach that took a chance on him) was let go from UGA.

In the new age of college sports of NIL and transfer portal, Condon proved he’s a “unicorn” off the field too with an incredibly infrequent take on the portal opportunity.

“It was never a real possibility that I wanted to get in the portal and go anywhere else,” Condon told ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

“Whether it was this coaching staff or not, the university was the only place that gave me a chance out of high school. It was the university that had given me all the time and resources and put so much into my development. I couldn’t turn my back on that.”

No matter if you’re a fan of the Dawgs, or just of college baseball, you can’t help but root for Charlie Condon, and marvel at the historic season.

As great as his on-the-field presence is, the off-the field factor helps Condon’s draft stock just as much.

With The First Pick The Atlanta Hawks Select….

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The Atlanta Hawks shocked the basketball world by winning the NBA Draft Lottery.

This is the Hawks’ first time getting the No. 1 pick since 1975, when they ended up drafting David Thompson, a five-time All-Star and NBA Hall of Famer. The Draft Lottery was not established yet, so it is the first time they won it.

The Detroit Pistons, who had the league-worst 14-68 record, could not believe it as they had the best odds at 14% to get the No. 1 pick.

The Washington Wizards were 15-67 and they also had great odds to land the number one pick. They have the No. 2 pick.

In 2023-24, they finished the season 36-46, which resulted in the tenth-highest lottery odds. They owned a 3% chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 13.9% chance at a selection in the top four.

This is very shocking for this franchise. They are never championship contenders but not bad enough to pick high enough to select a superstar. This has finally changed.

The only problem is this year’s draft does not have a consensus top prospect like Victor Wembanyama was last year.

Some of the top prospects for the Hawks to consider are center Alexandre Sarr (France), point guard/shooting guard Stephon Castle (UConn), point guard Nikola Topic (Serbia) and small forward/power forward Ron Holland (G League Ignite).

Holland was a McDonald’s All-American in 2023. He averaged 19.5 points per game in the G League as an 18 year old. He is very skilled and has good athleticism. Holland is 6’8, 206 pounds so he needs to put on more weight. He only shoots 24% from the arc, so that’s frightening.

Sarr is 7’1 and 216 pounds. He has a smaller frame but he is more of an old school center. The 19 year old played in Australia’s NBL last season. He played 27 games and averaged 9.4 ppg, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

He is raw offensively and needs to develop his skillset. He is a solid defensive player but I don’t think that is enough for a number one draft pick.

Castle is a Georgia native and graduated from Newton High School in Covington, GA.

Obviously, he won a national championship with the Huskies last season. He averaged 11.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.9 apg. He’s 6’6 so he’s a bigger guard. He did not really get to display his skillset because he played in a true team system.

Topic won a gold medal with Serbia at the U18 European Championships. He played on two different teams in the AdmiralBet League (ABA) in 2023-24. He averaged 18.4 ppg in twelve games for Mega MIS. He has a well-rounded game on offense and he can score. He’s 6’6 and he turns 19 in August.

If Atlanta decides to draft another point guard they might have to trade their current star, Trae Young.

The 2024 NBA Draft will be the first ever two-day event, beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday, June 26 and concluding with the second round on Thursday, June 27.

It will be at the Barclays Center, which is the home of the Brooklyn Nets.




It’s All About The Money

By: Robert Craft news services

I believe the official date for Clemson and FSU to inform the ACC of their intended departures for the 2025 season would be Aug. 15.

So, that would mean we would either have some form of resolution in court by then, which is not likely considering how it affects conferences across college football. The only other option, which is more likely, would be to settle out of court.

If it’s the latter, and FSU and Clemson part ways, ESPN will smartly decide in February not to pick up its ACC TV package through 2036.

That would send the ACC into Pac-12 territory, forcing it to sign a cheaper TV deal beyond 2027 (without its two megastars) or a straight-up league breakup in which some could end up fleeing to the Big 12 or even forming a new league.

My guess is there will be a group of ACC schools not getting into the SEC,  Big Ten, or Big 12.  The remaining teams will want to stick together in some form and take a cheaper TV deal to remain “mid-majors.”

We can sit here and debate which schools those are, or you can simply look at TV ratings and TV markets for the past few years and put two and two together.

Either way, not everyone is getting an invite to the Big 2 or a Super League. If FSU or Clemson has to spend a few years in purgatory (the Big 12) to get to the SEC or Big Ten, they’ll do it to get out of having to stick around in the ACC through 2036.

I just don’t think we’re going to see a 24-team Big Ten or a 24-team SEC down the road. Remember, the SEC’s TV deal runs with ESPN through 2033-34 and the Big Ten’s deal runs with CBS, NBC and Fox through 2029-30.

There’s no incentive for the schools in those leagues to add any more schools when they’ve got such a huge financial advantage in college football, unless they’re competing to sign top “free agent” schools such as FSU and Clemson or another school they value like North Carolina.

That essentially leaves the other ACC programs behind to come up with a solution to remain relevant and fund their athletic programs. The ACC will not completely fold.

Wait, I love this idea. I don’t know how likely it is, but I’m not sure anything in college football could surprise me anymore. Oregon State and Washington State need somewhere to land anyway, and if Clemson and Florida State bounce, the ACC should just lean into being totally unhinged. Give me Pac-12 after-dark vibes, every hour of every day.

Southern Expectations

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Let’s take a look around the NFC South and see what we can expect from these teams after free agency and the NFL Draft.

Atlanta Falcons: On paper we expect them to be the favorite to win the division going into the season.

They did sign Kirk Cousins in the offseason. Quarterback play was the team’s Achilles heel last season. They were 7-10 and finding a solid QB should improve their record by at least two games.

The offense has weapons so we expected them to draft a pass rusher. Instead, they drafted Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the # 8 pick. At best he becomes a starter in two years. Unfortunately, he will not be on the field immediately to help a team that is built to win now.

They did use their next four draft picks on defensive players but they still did not address their glaring need to improve the pass rush. I think Atlanta can win nine or 10 games. If they make it to the playoffs I expect them to lose in the first round.

Carolina Panthers: This team seems to be in permanent rebuild mode.

They had first year head coach Frank Reich last season and he was fired in November after starting 1-10. They finished the season with the worst record in the NFL, 2-15. They traded their 2024 first round pick in the 2023 draft to move up and select QB Bryce Young # 1.

The team was terrible so I can’t put all of the blame on Young. The # 2 pick from 2023, CJ Stroud had a great season. They will always be compared to each other so we do need to see Young get better in his second season.

In free agency they signed: Robert Hunt, Damien Lewis, A’Shawn Robinson, Josey Jewell and Dane Jackson. Hunt and Lewis are guards that will improve the interior offensive line. Robinson is a defensive tackle that has appeared in 110 games, with 74 starts.

In the first round of the draft Carolina selected wide receiver Xavier Legette (South Carolina) # 32. They really need weapons for Young so this was a good pick.

In the second round they selected running back Jonathan Brooks (Texas). He’s a great player but he tore his ACL in November so he will not be available at the beginning of the season.

I think the Panthers have improved slightly and will win five or six games.

New Orleans Saints: In free agency they signed: defensive end Chase Young, wide receiver Stanley Morgan, linebacker Willie Gay, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, and quarterback Nathan Peterman.

In the first round they selected offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State) # 14. Their second round pick was cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama).

New Orleans was 9-8 last season. I expect them to win eight or nine games in 2024.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They were 9-8 and won the division in 2023. They beat Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. They exceeded expectations last year.

In free agency they signed safety Jordan Whitehead, cornerback Bryce Hall, guard Ben Bredeson and guard Sua Opeta.

They drafted center Graham Barton (Duke) # 26. In the second round they selected edge rusher Chris Braswell (Alabama).

I expect them to compete for the division title and win nine or ten games.

Smart Move

By: Jeb Watkins news services

University of Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is now the highest paid coach in college football.

Coach Smart’s new deal keeps him in Athens for the next 10 years and he is set to collect 130 million dollars along the way.

He becomes the first college coach ever to make 13 million per year. It’s safe to say Kirby has secured the bag.

So, what does this contract mean for the UGA faithful? Well.. it means no worries for the rest of your days.. ha.

But no, seriously, this deal means another decade of bragging rights, stability, and dominance.

It also means more of Kirby’s fiery half time speeches that will have you ready to run through a brick wall and who doesn’t want to see more of his signature sideline celebrations, am I right?

He is a proven leader and a master motivator. Dawg fans should be ecstatic about locking down the greatest coach in UGA history and the greatest active coach in college football right now.

There’s no doubt Kirby is at the top of his game and is showing no signs of slowing down. When Smart became the new head coach back in 2016, feelings were mixed about moving on from former head coach Mark Richt. Georgia was handing the reins to someone with no head coaching experience.

And to be fair, Smart did have some growing pains early on and got outcoached more than few times his first couple of seasons.

Eventually those mixed feelings would go away after trusting the process paid off. Fans watched as Smart turned the UGA football program into a perennial powerhouse, silencing all the doubters and exceeding all expectations.

Dawg fans let us count our blessings. To start, 6 sec east division crowns and undefeated in regular season conference play for the past three seasons. Talk about bragging rights against your rivals.

Smart has dominated the SEC east and even with the new Pod system in place I don’t see that changing.. Top 5 recruiting classes and numerous NFL draft picks every year. Two SEC championships and most importantly back-to-back National Titles, which ended the 40-year natty drought.

That’s all just within his first 10 years, given another decade smart could very well build a dynasty of his own to rival former boss Nick Saban.

Considering that Saban is the only coach to beat Smart in the past 3 seasons, who’s going to stop Kirby and the Dawgs now?

So, looking ahead what does this contract extension mean for the football program going forward? Simply put. More of the same. More 5-stars, more SEC blowout wins, more playoff games, and more National Titles.

Also, the new 12 team playoff format rolls out in the 2024 season with the Bulldogs returning 16 starters on top of all the talent buried in the depth chart.

I think Kirby and his Dawgs should be the favorites to win it all. But favorites or not, you can bet Coach Smart will have his dawgs prepared and hungry for a championship when the time comes.

Missed Mark?

By: Robert Craft news services

I was underwhelmed by the Jaguars’ draft in Rounds 2-7, but I love what they did in Round 1 by trading back and adding a high-ceiling receiver.

After the Jaguars lost Calvin Ridley, they reexamined their options and were able to land Thomas, who has size and speed. His route running needs work, but that is due mostly to inexperience, not lack of ability .

Thomas may fit Jax’s offense better than Ridley did. As a rookie Thomas might not be as productive as Ridley, (2023 season:76 receptions, 1,016 yards), but Thomas gives the Jaguars a true big-body X receiver who can stretch the field. Ridley was miscast last season for a Jags team that needed a player like Thomas.

He struggled to get off press coverage on the outside and win consistently on fade routes — two skills that Thomas mastered at LSU.

The Jags needed a lot of defensive line help, but it was surprising that they took LSU’s Mason Smith with the No. 48 pick. The 6-5, 305-pound Smith is a former five-star recruit, but he was sidelined by injury for a big chunk of his career in Baton Rouge.

Making matters tougher, he had six defensive line coaches in his three years and four in the past year. Smith has intriguing potential, evoking some visions of Leonard Williams, right now Smith’s future looks cloudy with high risk.

It’s worth noting new Jaguars defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen is a protege of former LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who recruited Smith to Baton Rouge.

Former Tigers defensive coordinator Matt House is also now on the Jacksonville staff too. One of the concerns about Smith is he plays with high pad level; he needs to get low and become more physical.

“He is a boom-or-bust,” an NFL D-line coach told me earlier this month. “In his defense, there is still a lot of football in him. He’s played 976 snaps in three years. 17 starts. He’s got everything you want.”

Javon Foster was a worthwhile swing to take, even if an offensive tackle isn’t a glaring need for Jacksonville. Foster needs to continue honing his footwork and technique, but he moves well with the length and play strength to match up in the NFL. He looks to be a valuable swing tackle and, down the line, maybe more.


Draft Picks:

Brian Thomas Jr.  WR.  LSU

Mason Smith.  DT. LSU

Jarrion Jones, CB. FSU

Javon Foster, OT, Missouri

Jordan Jefferson, DT. LSU

Deantre Prince, CB, Ole Miss

Keilan Robinson, RB, Texas

Cam Little K, Arkansas

Myles Cole, Edge, Texas Tech


The Jags will round out their rosters with undrafted free agents. The puzzles largely have been put together. The experimentation will begin when minicamps and offseason practices begin. And some questions will remain unanswered until training camp, the preseason, and opening weekend kickoff.

But for now, my evaluation is the Jags fell short in their quest to position themselves as championship contenders.

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