Welcome to a Happy Thanksgiving edition of Dishing on the Draft. This week, we talk about the latest Senior Bowl invite acceptances, the NFL unveiled their 2021 league calendar, the draft order has changed significantly, and more.
THIS WEEK’S DRAFT NEWS
The Senior Bowl added 39 more players to the list of invitation acceptances this week. My tape grade (if I have one yet) is in BOLD.
CB-Rodarius Williams-Oklahoma State
EDGE-Daelin Hayes-Notre Dame
EDGE-Adetokunbo Ogundeji-Notre Dame
OT-Robert Hainsey-Notre Dame
OT-Liam Eichenberg-Notre Dame
OT-D’Anta Smith-East Carolina
QB-Ian Book-Notre Dame
WR-Tylan Wallace-Oklahoma State
WR-Shi Smith-South Carolina-8.27
WR-D’Wayne Eskridge-Western Michigan
Penn State junior TE Pat Freiermuth is having season-ending surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Freiermuth is one of the top TE prospects for the 2021 draft and has likely played his last game in Happy Valley.
The NFL has announced their 2021 NFL offseason calendar. The tweet below from Adam Schefter lays it out.
New NFL year scheduled to begin March 17.
NFL Draft on for April 29 through May 1. pic.twitter.com/HKRAhUiPur
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 18, 2020
With the season-ending (hopefully not more than that) knee injury to Joe Burrow, the Bengals should now have a firm grasp on the #3 overall pick and a shot at Oregon OT Penei Sewell. See below from Tankathon the rest of the Top 18.
This week in Draft Preparation, we welcome the incomparable Jeff Risdon. Jeff is the Managing Editor of Browns Wire and Lions Wire for USA Today SMG. He is also a Senior NFL Writer/Draft Analyst for RealGM.com.
You can follow Jeff on Twitter HERE.
First, I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy out there, which brings me to my first question. How is the current season of COVID-altered football affecting you and your ability to both cover the NFL and evaluate for the NFL Draft?
It’s been difficult. I live within a 3-hour drive of all the D-I programs in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, I can be at Ohio State or Wisconsin in 5 hours, and most years I’m at a game every week. I haven’t been to one yet and won’t either. Aside from not seeing the players in person, I really miss out on talking with the NFL-employed scouts who are credentialed. They’re often great filters and references to get info on prospects I haven’t studied as much.
I do have a pretty vast database of college games to watch and I have about 10 games of SEC All-22 so I’m not devoid, but I feel like I’m not as in tune with a lot of the Day 3 players as I normally am at this point. That’s my favorite part of the draft, the final 4-5 rounds. There’s no Shrine Bowl this year, no NFLPA game, so it will be hard to be as sharp on those rounds as I want to be.
As a MAC school graduate, you are always my go-to for MAC draft talk. Miami (Ohio) OT Tommy Doyle is my favorite prospect from the conference this year. Who are a couple of your favorites?
Western Michigan has a guy in D’Wayne Eskridge who is a lot of fun to watch. He’s a quicker-than-fast wide receiver (but also 4.35-ish fast), but he also played cornerback earlier in his career due to injuries and I think he’s got a brighter NFL future as a slot corner. Eskridge is tearing it up at WR though so he might need to stay at wideout.
Buffalo EDGE Malcolm Koonce has some real juice as a pass rusher. He’ll probably be the first MAC player drafted. He’s a more well-rounded defensive prospect than Ohio’s Tarell Basham, who was a third-rounder in 2017.
I’m a fan of WMU left guard Mike Caliendo. Four-year starter, already has a degree in biomedical engineering, physical style and technically sound. Doyle is a little limited athletically at tackle; he reminds me of Cyrus Kouandjio in terms of movement skills.
I haven’t seen him yet in 2020 but I know NFL scouts were interested in Ball State’s Christian Allbright. Based on what I saw last year of the off-ball LB, he’s got some A.J. Klein to him but more fluid roaming in space.
I’d love to give you an Ohio Bobcat but this is a down year for my beloved alma mater.
Are the Lions going to move on from Matt Patricia? Same question for QB Matthew Stafford.
We all hope so on Patricia. He’s turned a mid-level contending team into a last-place squad. Even worse, they’re boring and play without passion. I can’t fathom him being the coach in 2021 but with a new primary owner in place (the daughter of the old owner), we don’t really know. Here’s hoping Patricia is gone and he takes GM Bob Quinn down with him.
Stafford is a tough call. A new coach might want “his” guy and Stafford–at 32 and with the injuries piling up–might not be “his” guy. But he’s still very good. I’ll argue until I’m blue in the face that he’s the best small-window passer of the 21st century. The arm is still phenomenal and there aren’t many better at rallying a team late. He’s definitely got his warts but it’s hard to think of where the Lions would be without Stafford.
The other team you cover, the Cleveland Browns, are playoff contenders this year. How different is that for you to cover?
It’s truly bizarre. I’ve covered the Browns, my hometown team, since the 2016 season. I’ve covered 4 head coaches, 3 GMs, and 8 starting quarterbacks. This is the best Browns team top-to-bottom (including management) since the team came back in 1999. Kevin Stefanski has been exactly what a team of several high-profile talents needed.
This year I will not cover a coaching, GM, or QB change for the Browns for the first time. And they’re set with Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, OBJ and Jarvis Landry, Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin, not to mention Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, at the key positions. Watching a team grow and augment what they’ve got instead of being constantly trying to find anyone who can capably play is going to be revolutionary for those of us who know the team well.
Let’s look into the crystal ball. What are you writing about after night one of the 2021 NFL Draft?
I think we’re going to see the Jets taking Trevor Lawrence and then we’ll see a Carson Wentz/Deshaun Watson type of trade for another team to get up to No. 2 to take Justin Fields. What QBs come after them in the first, and in what order? I think that’s going to be a huge storyline. It looks like a rough year for top-end pass-rushing talents and I wonder if that will fluff up some guys who don’t necessarily need to be top-15 picks or if the team let the market come to them.
WHAT’S ON TAP
Iowa State-@-Texas-11:00 AM-ABC (Friday)
Notre Dame-@-North Carolina-2:30 PM-ABC (Friday)
UCF-@-South Florida-2:30 PM-ESPN (Friday)
Stanford-@-Cal-3:00 PM-FOX (Friday)
NC State-@-Syracuse-11:00 AM-ACCN
Texas Tech-@-Oklahoma State-11:00 AM-FOX
Colorado-@-Southern Cal-2:30 PM-ABC
Oklahoma-@-West Virginia-6:30 PM-ABC
Virginia-@-Florida State-7:00 PM-ACCN