Who Said You Can’t Come Home?

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It almost felt like one of those NFL retirement signings, where a team signs a former great to a one day contract so said player can retire a member of a particular team.

Only, in this case Todd Gurley has never played for the Falcons, nor was born in Georgia.

However, I guess when you’ve been a star player for the University of Georgia, it kind of feels like it’s always been your home.

A lot has been made, and will likely continue to be made, about Gurley’s injury, why Los Angeles handled his workload the way they did over the past season plus, as well as their willingness to accept a hit of over $20 million in dead salary-cap space this season to get out from under his contract- all of which are legitimate concerns.

The arthritis in Gurley’s knee isn’t going to get better and if actions speak louder than words, Los Angeles’ actions are the non-verbal form of “Fire, everybody get out!”

Having said all that, I think the signing can be very advantageous for both Gurley and the Falcons, as long as everyone keeps things in perspective.

For Atlanta the signing is a low risk- high reward move, beginning with the contract. Obviously, Gurley is no longer a featured, every down back, hence the

1 year/$5 million contract. That doesn’t mean he can’t be productive and justify his paycheck.

If Atlanta not only limits his touches, but more importantly can figure out how to manage those touches and use Gurley in situations he’ll be most effective, he could become an extremely impactful player.

His arrival also ignited some much needed enthusiasm among a fan base that like most of America right now, could use it.

On the flip side, if none of that happens and it becomes clear Gurley can’t be productive, Atlanta really hasn’t lost anything. Plus, they don’t have much salary cap space available, so it’s not like there were a lot of different options out there for the Falcons to choose from.

As for Gurley, I like the move for a couple reasons. For one, I think he’ll fit in well with Atlanta’s offense. He’s not going to be the focal point of the offense and the Falcon’s passing game should help him not see as many eight man fronts when he is in.

Also, and this goes back to my initial paragraph, he’s coming “home” in a way. The fan base is going to be more supportive and will allow more time to adjust, than he probably would receive if he were to have signed somewhere else.

When you look at some of the factors, like Gurley’s contract and Miami’s decision to bring in Jordan Howard over Gurley, the message seems pretty clear that this upcoming season is a make or break year for the former Georgia running back. (As a side note, considering the Dolphins lack of success with free agents and choosing one over another, I wouldn’t blame you if you actually looked at their signing Howard as a good thing for Gurley.)

Gurley’s arrival in Atlanta truly does have the makings of a win-win for both sides, something you don’t see too often in sports today. And if not, he’ll at least be able to end it close to where he started…kind of.

The Shorter The Better

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shadow over the entire world for weeks, forcing people into quarantine and changing the way people live and work.

One of the most publicized effects of the pandemic has been that of the sports world and the now lack of its existence.

First, it was a few basketball and soccer games being played without fans in the arenas and stadiums, followed by March Madness being cancelled. Then, after Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, the NBA suspended their season.

The NHL followed suit, as well as just about every other sport going on and suddenly ESPN was showing replays of bowling instead of SportsCenter (this may be an exaggeration).

Major League Baseball hadn’t yet begun their 2020 season and instead was about halfway through Spring Training when they decided to call it and delay Opening Day.

At first, MLB was going to delay two weeks. As time has gone on, the rumors have swirled about when baseball will be played again. Memorial Day maybe? Sometime in June?

Like pretty much everything else, when baseball starts is up in the air right now but the owners and players seem intent on getting a season in. This is, of course, happy news.

Whenever “play ball” is finally called for the season, it will certainly be the start of a diminished calendar. Even if the schedule is loaded with double headers, there’s really no way of getting a 162-game season in and still having playoffs at a time of year in which baseball is still playable.

That is, and bear with me here, good news for the Atlanta Braves. Continue bearing with me, because I’m about to make an argument based on an incredibly small sample size of evidence, but you don’t have any actual sports to read about so what else are you going to do?

The Braves are famous for winning 14 straight division championships, a record. They are equally notorious for winning only one World Series in that 15-year stretch.

Did anyone catch the math?

14 consecutive championships in 15 years doesn’t make sense; unless you know that in 1994, there were no division championships.

There was also no World Series. That’s because the players went on strike and the season was called. They were still on strike in the spring of 1995. Eventually, the union went back to work and 18 days after the season should have started, baseball began.

If that year sticks out to you, it’s because that’s the year Atlanta won it all.

That’s significant, because in all the rest of Atlanta’s postseason stints, that world-class pitching in the regular season often couldn’t meet its own high standards in the playoffs but with (slightly) less wear-and-tear on their arms, the Braves were able to run through their opponents and win the big prize at the end of the season.

The baseball gods tend to abandon Atlanta come October but maybe it’s just that the Braves run out of gas after a grueling full schedule.

Granted, every team plays the same number of games, but the Braves always seem a little more beaten down than their opponents do, with the exception of the shortened ’95 season.

Maybe, with a guaranteed shorter season on the horizon, the Braves will get a little of that 1995 mojo working.

Maybe two less months of regular season games will put life into Mike Foltynewicz’s arm come the fall. Maybe four months of games instead of six will keep Freddie Freeman healthier than he’s ever been in October.

Maybe, it’s a small sample size, but hey, the track record is there.

No Azaleas

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Over a whirlwind 48-hour span, the entire sports world came to a halt. Over the course of a few days.

What started with the NBA suspending its season quickly turned into the NHL following suit, MLB nerve wracking days, a domino effect went into full effect; suspending all operations in the middle of spring training and every collegiate sport coming to a screeching halt.

Lifelong sports fans were in a sort of state of shock as each news update brought about worse news and more cancelations.

By the time Friday, March 13 rolled around, the gravity of the situation still hadn’t quite set in, with plenty of rumors circulating about how quickly everything could get back on track.

And then it happened. The Masters – a shining jewel in American sports and one of the most fiercely protected events and brands in the world – put its annual tournament on hold.

Calendars, warmer weather and the beginning of baseball aside, anyone with roots to the south knows that the true arrival of spring comes during four magical days in April when the world’s best golfers descend upon Augusta National Golf Club.

It is possibly the most mythicized and celebrated tournament in all of sports. It gets played amongst the backdrop of an impossible green and vibrant course.

It has always been a hint to the sports world that it is safe to come outside and play for the spring and summer months.

But just like everything else, the Masters will also be empty.

If there’s one bit of silver lining, it’s that the official scoreboard for the Masters reads ‘postponed’ where so many other events are canceled outright.

Communications from Augusta National have stressed that efforts will be made to hold the tournament at some point. There have also been rumors floating out of Augusta that the club might be aiming for a Masters held in the fall as the course usually shuts down during the summer months.

For as much as the stoppage of other sports stung, the postponement of the Masters may have been the signal to the sports world that the response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic isn’t an overreaction, but rather a very urgent and necessary step to protect the masses.

No golf at Augusta in April is like the constant halts to trading on stock exchange floors. It’s the near total halt of international travel. It’s the empty shelves in stores and longtime local businesses that are now shuttered.

It’s a punch in the gut, is what it is. But hopefully a measure that will work out once the world catches its breath.

This is already guaranteed to be a sports year unlike any other. Here’s hoping that we still get our tradition unlike any other.

 

Let The Dominoes Fall

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Coronavirus has shut down every major sports league in America, but not the NFL. So that’s what I’m writing about.

The free agency period started and the league’s legal tampering period allowed teams to begin to talk and to negotiate with unsigned free agents.

Most eyes and ears were on the latest Tom Brady rumors, as the 42-year-old hit the unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 20-year career. More notable NFL players will be on the move over the next few days via free agency or trades.

Brady announced that his next NFL home would not be New England. He ended up signing a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth around $30 million a year.

Brady’s departure breaks up the most successful partnership in NFL history. Can Tom Brady win without Bill Belicheck and vice versa? Who is more vital to an organization, the quarterback or the coach?

Here is a list and a grade of some of the transactions that have been agreed upon to sign on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

The Jaguars traded defensive lineman Calais Campbell to the Ravens in exchange for a 2020 fifth round draft pick. Baltimore extends Campbell’s contract through the 2020 season.

 

Ravens B+     Jaguars F (total rebuild in Jacksonville)

 

The Dallas Cowboys franchise tagged Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper to a five-year deal worth $100 million.

 

Cowboys A

 

The Texans agreed to trade DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth round pick to the Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second round pick and 2021 fourth round pick.

 

Texans (F) Cardinals (A++).

 

The Vikings traded Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh round pick to the Bills for 2020 first round pick, a fifth-round pick, sixth round pick and 2021 fourth round pick. This trade has the Brady Effect written all over it. The Bills are going all in on Diggs and the division.

 

Vikings B    Bills B

 

The Bears have been busy signing pass rusher Robert Quinn and tight end Jimmy Graham to free agency deals. I like Quinn’s signing but Graham’s best days are behind him.

 

Bears C

 

The Dolphins made waves by signing cornerback Byron Jones to a $17 million a year contract. Miami agreed to terms with two chronic underachievers in offensive lineman Ereck Flowers and pass rusher Shaq Lawson. I also just noticed Kyle Van Noy has signed with the Dolphins.

 

Dolphins B

 

The grades try to estimate a players’ chance of outplaying his contract. To say it is an inexact science would be an affront to science.

NCAA Crystal Ball

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At the beginning of conference basketball play I made three predictions that I promised to revisit after the season, regardless of how they turned out.

With the season now over, unfortunately not the way anyone would’ve predicted, I guess it’s time to see if I’m Nostradamus or the back-alley fortune teller.

Prediction: Florida will win the SEC Regular Season. Final Result: Fifth Place. Well, this one blew up in my face.

Not only did Florida finish fifth in the SEC, but they were one of the more disappointing teams in the country.

A top 10 team to begin the season, the Gators season is almost a perfect microcosm of the college season in general; they could never really find any consistency throughout the year.

The defense, which has been Florida’s calling card since Mike White arrived a few years ago, just wasn’t where they needed it to be.

They added some offensive talent, but when looking at their record anytime they allowed more than 65 points, their winning percentage dropped drastically.

It’s tough to win conference games when you have difficulty playing to your strength. The talent was there to make a deep run in the tournament, and I think so Mike White is a good coach, but sometimes it’s just not your year.

Prediction: Anthony Edwards will be the SEC Player of the Year. Final Result: Second Team All-SEC. So yes, technically I missed this one, but I’m ok with that.

Out of the three predictions I made, this one was probably the longest shot of them all. And it’s not like Edwards had a bad season. He did win Freshman of the Year honors and at least made an All-SEC team.

To expect him to come into a league like the SEC, playing for a program like Georgia where the lack of talent around him would make it easier for opposing teams to game plan against him, was a bit unrealistic.

Also, as good an overall season as Edwards had, he certainly had his struggles in conference play. There’s a good chance he’ll still be a Top 3 pick in the upcoming draft, but it’ll take him a few years to adjust.

Prediction: No more than five SEC teams will make the NCAA Tournament. Final Result: ??? Obviously, we’ll never know for certain how many SEC teams would’ve made the tournament, but I feel like I may have actually gotten this one right. Kentucky, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, and Florida were all probably locks to make it, depending on how conference tournaments turned out.

Outside of those five, there really wasn’t any team that was even on the bubble.

South Carolina may have been able to make an argument had they made a deep run in the conference tournament, but I’m not sure that would’ve been enough to get them in.

The talent level in college basketball was down across the board and the SEC was no exception. Even with teams like Auburn and LSU exceeding preseason expectations, this was still a rough year for the conference.

So, in the end, I completely missed the one prediction I thought I would get right, got a bit carried away with my expectations on the one that was a little out of reach to begin with, and never got a chance to validate the one that I may have actually have gotten right.

Well, that sounds about right.

Winners And Losers

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL scouting combine is now in the books.

More than 300 prospective NFL players were put through the ringer during the world’s most unconventional job interview.

After all, that’s what the combine is, a job interview. Some will get a job and others will leave temporarily unemployed.

Performing well in drills like the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, or the bench press can convince a team there’s untapped potential. On the contrary, a poor performance, an injury, or any other red flags can sink a player’s draft stock.

Here are some of the winners and losers from some NCAA headliners in the 2020 NFL Combine.

Winner: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida: The former Gator weighed in at a solid 204 pounds and still managed to run a 4.39 40-yard dash (third fastest among DBs).

His bench press reps (20) showed some dedication in the weight room. Henderson was the most impressive corner in on the field drills.  He needed a good day to secure a first-round selection, and he got it.

Loser: Trevon Hill, edge rusher, Miami: Hill was a potential top 100 prospect this season, but teams will likely be disappointed in his athleticism results from the combine.

The former Cane weighed in at 248 pounds, he ran a 4.89 40-yard dash and managed pedestrian jump of 28 inch vertical and 9.5 broad.

Hill will probably be a day 3 selection. Still employed, but unexpectedly lower in status.

Winner: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State: Akers improved his draft stock with a solid showing at the combine. The former Seminole finished 5th in the 40-yard dash (4.47), broad jump 10 feet 2 inches and vertical jump was 35.5 inches. Akers is now the fourth ranked running back on my board behind Swift, Taylor and Dobbins.

Loser: Van Jefferson, WR, Florida:  Jefferson did not participate at the combine after discovering a fracture in his foot that will require surgery. Jefferson was slotted as a day two selection now falls to day 3. Jefferson was at the combine and took part in the various team interviews.

Winner: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson: Simmons lined up at nearly every position imaginable in college.

Simmons, before the combine was a top 10 pick, and is still a top 10 pick. Measuring in at 6 foot 4 inches (93 percentile), a 39-inch vertical (92nd percentile), 11-foot broad jump (98th percentile) and a 4.39 40-yard dash (99th percentile). Impressive for a 230 pounder.

The percentiles are NFL Combine history rankings.  Let’s put it in layman’s terms, Simmons is a Defensive Freak!

Loser: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia: There were no surprises with Fromm’s mostly average measurements earlier in the week. His arm strength during workouts was below average, his throws fluttered at times and his deep pass lacked velocity. Despite a poor showing, I suspect he’ll have an NFL career. However, his combine workout moved him down in QB stock below Eason.

While the timing, results, and measurements are key, data from the combine is not the whole story of the evaluation process.

Game film, physicals, interviews, and background checks will determine their career path. Some big differences and small similarities in the professional sports job market and regular people job markets. No matter the gig, these things can be challenging for anyone!

The Draft, however, is specifically tough on both candidates and staff. Simply put, it’s an educated gamble.

Appreciate

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Coronavirus is a serious public health issue that has caused loss of life around the world.

It has wreaked havoc on our economy, our freedom of mobility, and now with the cancellation of most major sporting events like the NBA, it has rocked us at our core.

This article is going to take a look at sports in our culture and how woven sports are in the fabric of our society.

No matter what sport you play, you are bound to have better health than those who do not partake at all. No other activity is as productive in strengthening of muscles and overall physical fitness as sports.

I come from the generation of playing outside before dinner, and the activity revolved around the three major sports seasons football, basketball, and baseball.

In the fall, growing up I was Joe Montana in my backyard, in the winter I was Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, and in the spring, I was Reggie Jackson growing up as a youngster in the Golden Isles. Whatever season it was it didn’t matter we stayed active.

When we are playing sports, we use our time doing something good and fun. I watched a T-Ball game my grandson participated in just yesterday, and watching the interaction with other kids is a social skill that goes unnoticed these days. It also plays a major role in the social development of youth today in our country.

Playing sports increases awareness of mind and mental strength. Sports teach you how to handle disappointments and also teaches you how to win with class and sportsmanship.

Sports prepares people for life in clutch situations, where stress can take over. Positive traits and a healthy mind can be gained from sports.

Sports teach you to be completely alert all the times. It also gives you the ability to make split second decisions when needed. Playing sports actually increases your thought processes.

Playing sports helps you become detailed oriented by keeping you highly attentive. Sports prepares you for those quick decisions in life that we all will face.

Sports is the best way to eliminate stress. Playing a sport you love relaxes you and gives a fresh outlook on life. A hard day at work can be really be stressful but a few minutes on the tennis, or basketball court at the end of a long day is just what the doctor ordered in stress relief.

Self-confidence is improved by participating and excelling in sports. Discipline then becomes a part of the process. Anyone who takes sports seriously knows the importance of discipline and the determination to succeed.

Our society is filled with success stories that started with team sports. Most of the popular sports are team structured. Playing team sports makes a person more comfortable with others. It improves the interpersonal skills and makes a person a team player.

How much money does your employer spend on improving critical thinking and team work skills? These are lessons taught by team sports at an early age in life.

It stings to see March Madness cancelled, the NBA season postponed, MLB suspending operations, and the list goes on and on.

We have a public health crisis on our hands and the right thing to do is to cancel these events until we get a handle as a society on the Covid-19 Coronavirus situation.

A temporary suspension sports activities that are woven in our core values may allow us to gain a fresh appreciation for the sports we love and take for granted at times.

I just know all this better get sorted out by the start of college football season or its going to be “Houston, we have a problem”. Get well soon Tom Hanks. We are praying for you and all affected by the Coronavirus. Netflix anyone?

Conference Survival

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC Men’s basketball tournament starts this week in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kentucky has dominated this conference since its inception. The Wildcats have won 51 regular season SEC Championships (including this year) and 31 Conference Tournament championships.

Kentucky (25-6) had the best record in conference play (15-3). They have the top seed in the tournament. The top four seeds in the tournament do not have to play until the third day of the tournament.

As good as Kentucky is, they are always led by freshmen since they embrace the one and done players. Because of this they do lack experience, which means they are more susceptible for an upset.

They have lost games to Evansville, Utah and South Carolina, who are not great teams. They are led by sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley who averages 16 points per game.

Auburn (25-6) is the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Bruce Pearl has turned the program around since he was hired in 2014. They have gotten to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. Last year they advanced to the Final Four.

Three of their top four scorers are seniors so they have a lot of experience. Senior guard Samir Doughty leads the team with 17 PPG and 4 rebounds per game.

Auburn has beaten Kentucky during the regular season so they have already proven they can beat them.

LSU (21-10) is the third seed but they have the same conference record as Auburn, 12-6. This team confuses me because they play to the level of their competition. They have lost to VCU, Utah State, USC and East Tennessee State. For a Power 5 team going to the NCAA Tournament they should win those games.

The Tigers lost to Auburn on the road but only by one point. They also lost to Kentucky by three. I don’t believe in moral victories but they have shown they can compete with the best teams in the conference.

Senior guard and Baton Rouge native Skylar Mays is the team leader with 17 PPG. If they advance and face Kentucky or Auburn, they have a legitimate chance to win.

Mississippi State (20-11) is the fourth seed. They have the same conference record (11-7) as Florida but they won the tiebreaker by beating the Gators last month.

Despite this, they are on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament.

“They base so much off November,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. “There’s not enough emphasis based today on how you play at the end of the year, how you play in the last 12 games. That used to really be important. But we have to beat a Quad 1 team (Florida) to continue to make our case.”

They have non-conference losses to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. In conference play they have lost to lower level teams like Ole Miss (15-16), Alabama (16-15), Texas A&M (16-14) and South Carolina (18-13). The Bulldogs have to win their quarterfinal game to have a chance to get to March Madness.

Florida (19-12) is also on the bubble. The Gators need to win a couple of games to get to the tournament. Their first game is the second round against the winner of No. 12 Ole Miss or No. 13 Georgia. If they win, the next game is against Mississippi State. I think they can win those two games but time will tell.

The Madness

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Football is the most popular sport in the country and baseball may be America’s favorite pastime, but for my money there is no better sporting event than the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

With its close games, buzzer beater shots, upsets, and feel good storylines, it always seems to deliver year after year, even though some years are better than others. It’s basically the sporting world’s version of Marvel movies.

As unpredictable as the opening weekend has been in the past, this year has the potential for there to be even more surprises than usual.

Normally, in most seasons heading into the tournament, there’s two or three teams you feel fairly confident in having a legitimate shot at making a run. This year though, it’s wide open; just take a look at this past week’s top ten.

Dayton and San Diego State have had arguably the most successful seasons, and depending on conference tournament results, could both wind up being number one seeds.

They’ll also be the two teams picked most likely to lose before the Sweet Sixteen.

Then you have teams like Florida State, Maryland, Louisville, Baylor, and Seton Hall that have all exceeded expectations this season, but they suffer from major flaws, many of which have been exposed over the year by inferior teams.

And as much as you’re likely to hear John Calipari complain about where Kentucky is seeded, along with how difficult their bracket is, and how disrespected they are, the truth is they’re not very good. Throw in Hagans taking time away from the team and they seem primed for an early tournament exit.

Which leaves Kansas and Gonzaga, who are probably the two best overall teams, yet I’m not really sure there’s much confidence in either. Or, looking at it another way, whatever confidence there is has more to do with what the rest of the field looks like, as opposed to the talent level on each team.

You could almost make the argument there are more teams ranked outside of the top ten with a better chance of winning it all.

It’s one of the reasons why this year’s outcome, more than ever, will rely heavily on seeding and which bracket teams are placed in.

It’s actually kind of a scary proposition when you think about it; the committee doesn’t exactly have a great track record of getting those decisions right.

That’s not to say the committee is charged with an easy task when it comes to seeding, but those choices will be extremely impactful.

One of the running jokes come tournament time, once the field has been set and the brackets have been printed out, is that anyone can win their local office pool, no matter their knowledge of college basketball.

That the tournament itself is such a crapshoot that you almost have a better chance of winning by guessing or picking teams because you like their mascot or the color of their uniforms than you do overthinking the whole thing.

In a year where very little separates the top team and say, the twenty fifth, that joke may never be more true.

And for a tournament that predicates itself on upsets, buzzer beaters, and Cinderella runs, don’t be surprised if this year’s edition shows you something you haven’t seen before. Personally, I can’t wait for it to begin.

The Measurables

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2020 NFL scouting combine was last week in Indianapolis. I’m going to take a look at some of the players from around the South and see if they helped or hurt their draft stock.

Isaiah Simmons – Clemson: the redshirt junior linebacker turned heads running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. He also had eye-opening numbers in the vertical (39 inches) and broad jumps (11 feet). At 6’4, 238 pounds these numbers are unreal.

He was also great on the field. He led the Tigers in tackles in their 2018 national championship season (89 total stops, nine for loss, one interception returned for a touchdown, seven pass breakups, three forced fumbles).

His play as a junior (102 tackles, 16 for loss, 8 sacks, three interceptions, nine pass breakups in 15 starts) earned him the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.

He was also a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski and Lott IMPACT Trophies, as well as a first-team Associated Press All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection.

Willie Gay, Jr. – Mississippi State: this is another junior linebacker that showed great speed. His 4.46 40 (and 1.50 10-yard split), 39.5-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-4 broad jump displayed his great athleticism. He has character concerns and lack of on field production.

He was a top-50 overall recruit and led Starkville High School to a state championship before committing to his hometown team.

Gay looked to be on the upswing after a promising sophomore campaign, in which he posted 48 stops, 5.5 for loss, five sacks and two interceptions in 13 games with six starts.

He was limited to playing in five games as a reserve (28 tackles, 3.5 for loss, one interception, one pass breakup) during his junior year, though, as he was held out of eight contests due to NCAA violations pertaining to an academic tutor. It has also been reported that he got into an altercation with starting quarterback Garrett Shrader.

Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama: the talented quarterback has been injury prone. His junior year was limited to just nine games as he fought through an ankle injury then a hip injury that ended his season.

Several teams reported they felt there was “nothing alarming” with his medical reports and that Tagovailoa was on schedule to work out in April for scouts. His height from the combine is 6’0 and he weighed 217 pounds.

Joe Burrow – LSU: He did not participate in any on-field workouts, choosing to let his college resume speak for him. He made headlines for his small hands, measuring at 9 inches. This is one of the sillier measurables in my opinion. The one concern is he looked like two different players in 2018 and 2019.

Cam Akers – Florida State: he was a top-10 national recruit after being named the U.S. Army National Player of the Year and Mississippi’s Mr. Football in 2016.

He broke Dalvin Cook’s school record for freshman rushing in 2017, leading the Seminoles with 1,024 yards (194 carries, 5.3 per, seven touchdowns; 16 receptions, 116 yards, 7.3 average, one touchdown).

The Seminoles struggled and his numbers got worse as a sophomore. He looked more like the Akers of 2017 as a junior, receiving second-team all-conference honors after leading FSU with 1,144 rushing yards on 231 carries (5.0 ypc) and 14 touchdowns. Akers also caught 30 passes for 225 yards (7.5 per) and four scores in 11 starts.

At the combine he ran a 4.47 40 and put up 20 bench-press reps (225 pounds).