Bob Kemp’s Bottom Line

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020


         *THE LEAD: NFL owners tabled a proposal Thursday that would have given teams an alternative to the onside kick, the second consecutive year they have decided against addressing what has become a thorny issue. The proposal was intended to alleviate the difficulty teams have experienced in converting traditional onside kicks since the NFL changed its kickoff rules in 2018. Since then, teams have recovered 10.5% of onside kicks, compared to 16.3% during the five previous seasons (ESPN)
         *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: More bad news for Aaron Rodgers – Packers head coach and play-calling Matt LaFleur are planning to use two running backs and two tight ends as their primary offensive set.
        The NFL is expecting a contract holdout from George Kittle whenever the 49ers enter training camp.
        *FROM COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Georgia has picked up another high-profile transfer to compete for its starting quarterback job, landing former Southern California starter JT Daniels. Daniels started for the Trojans in 2018, but lost his job to Kedon Slovis after going down last season with a knee injury.
        Clemson receiver Justyn Ross will have surgery in early June, according to ESPN. The surgery relates to stinger symptoms Ross felt during spring practice in March. The testing on the injury was delayed because of health protocols put in place during the pandemic.
        The 2021 Tennessee recruiting class entered this week ranked second in national rankings behind only The Ohio State University.   


        *AT 9:15, THE LOCAL ROUNDUP: Meet The Press with the Cardinals Patrick Peterson (Day Three of Three)
        *AT 9:30, ARE THE 2020 CARDINALS BEING OVERHYPED: with Scott Bordow of The Athletic


TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020


        *THE LEAD: Antonio Brown to the Seahawks talk, something Russell Wilson has mentioned in the past, is escalating > IN WEDNESDAY’S SPORTS ZONE – Would the rumored addition of Antonio Brown put the Seahawks ahead of the Niners in the NFC West?
       *HEADLINES ACROSS AMERICA: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were among the teams holding workouts for players on Tuesday in Orange County, another indication that restrictions in California have lessoned much soon than anticipated.
        *AROUND THE PAC 12: David Shaw continues to emphatically claim he will not leave Stanford for the NFL. Shaw’s latest, and possibly most convincing plea, was on Mike Tirico’s NBCSN show.
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The resumption of the NBA season is headed to Orlando because the league was wary of players ignoring the quarantine if there were games in Las Vegas where some casinos, and other businesses, are expected to re-open soon.
        *BY THE NUMBERS – 1 + 2: The Jets are seeking first and second round draft picks for safety Jamal Adams.
        23-23: Cam Newton’s record in his last 46 starts as a starting quarterback.

THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2020 


         *THE LEAD: The NBA’s the plan to return to restart the 2019-20 season, “will probably be two sites,” (Las Vegas and Orlando) according to Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry.
        *FROM THE LATEST LINE: Here are the 2020 Pac 12 Football regular season win totals from Caesars in Las Vegas – Arizona 4½, Arizona State 8, Cal 7, Colorado 3, Oregon 9½, Oregon State 5½, Stanford 5½, UCLA 5½, USC 8, Utah 8½, Washington 8½, Washington State 8 (I am considering ASU over 8, Stanford over 5½, Utah under 8½, Washington State under 8)
        *LOCAL ROUNDUP: Former Cardinals number-one selection Deone Bucannon agreed to terms today with the Falcons.
        *AROUND THE NFL (FROM MSN SPORTS):  When the NFL released the schedule, it didn’t take long for some people to realize the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots don’t have an overlapping game until late December.
        In fact, Tom Brady’s current and former teams only shared two simultaneous windows, the aforementioned Week 15 and then again in Week 17. Hearing that, it’s easy to assume the league did their broadcast partners a favor by ensuring that Patriots fans who might want to follow Brady’s new adventures would be able to do so without having to make any sacrifices. But when ESPN’s Mike Reis asked the league about it, they responded with a statement calling it a coincidence: Putting together the 256-game schedule is very complex — it’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email, when asked if the league had this Brady-Patriots dynamic in mind. “The minimal conflicts here are coincidental.”
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: NBC still has the best NFL national television schedule for the 2020 season, according to Awful Broadcasting. ESPN’S MNF is second, slightly ahead of Fox’s TNF while the TNF NFL Network only slate a distant fourth.
        *BY THE NUMBERS – 88: The number of passes that traveled at least 20 yards downfield in 2019 thrown by Aaron Rodgers, second only to Jameis Winston’s 102 attempts in Bruce Arians’ offense.

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020


        *THE LEADTHE NFL OWNERS HELD A VIRTUAL MEETING ON TUESDAY: Topping the news was tabling the resolution to incentivize minority hirings of coaches and general managers with improved draft picks after the proposal was, predictably, met with significant opposition > IN WEDNESDAY’S SPORTS ZONE – Why has the Rooney Rule failed and what should the NFL do to get closer to the original motive of the rule?
        *LOCAL ROUNDUP: Dan Majerle suing Grand Canyon University after the school fired him in March following his seventh season as the school’s basketball coach. Majerle is suing for the money he is owed under his contract, his attorney told the Republic, which reported the lawsuit alleges in part that Grand Canyon has waged a “campaign to disparage Majerle as part of its effort to avoid its severance obligation” and is creating “false and pretextual reasons” for Majerle’s firing. 
        The UA football program has lost one of its most productive players with safety Scottie Young Jr. announced on Twitter and Instagram that he is transferring to West Virginia. From the Arizona Daily Star, Young, who entered the NCAA transfer portal last month, reunites with Jahmile Addae.  Addae played under former Arizona head Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia and served as the UA’s defensive backs coach from 2016-17. Young played his freshman season at Arizona under Addae before Rodriguez and his staff were fired in January 2018. 
         *AROUND THE NFC WEST: The 49ers Nick Bosa talked about the team trading fellow defensive lineman DeFores Buckner, saying, “he got a pretty good contract and he deserves it, but just losing him as a leader, we’re going to have to really figure out how to step up and fill that void because he was the third-down D-line play caller, he was the hype speech guy, he was everything. And I think he played with the best effort on the D-line, which really shows on tape when you see somebody that big sprinting to the ball every play and making those tackles downfield, and obviously his pass-rush ability, we’re gonna have to step it up for him.”
       *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Austin Hedges, the Padres union representative, participated in a Major League Baseball Players Association conference call on Monday to discuss the league’s proposal for an 82-game season and came away from that meeting feeling optimistic that players will soon come together and work out a plan that allows all parties to benefit during a weird season of baseball, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
        *RANDOM STUFF: The ABA unofficially died on this date in 1976 with Nets, led by Julius Erving, beating the Nuggets in what turned out to be league’s final championship series.

SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020


        *THE LEAD: Aaron Rodgers was “surprised” and “less than thrilled” with the Packers selection of Jordan Love and the veteran quarterback also acknowledged it means he may not finish his career as a member of the Packers > IN MONDAY’S SPORTS ZONE – Will Aaron Rodgers finish his career in Green Bay – if not, where does he land?
        *THE KHALIL MACK DEAL IN NOW COMPLETE: From Mike Sando of The Athletic – The Bears wound up with Mack, 2020 second-round tight end Cole Kmet and 2020 seventh-round tackle Arlington Hambright. The Raiders landed 2019 first-round running back Josh Jacobs, 2020 first-round cornerback Damon Arnette and 2020 third-round receiver Bryan Edwards. They also traded a 2019 sixth-round pick from the deal.
         *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The 49ers did not know Joe Staley was going to retire before trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts. If the 49ers had known, they likely would not have made the Buckner trade and trade to draft one of the top four offensive linemen.
        The Vikings had no interest in keeping Stefon Diggs long-term, so they traded him to the Bills who will likely wait until after the 2020 season before they make their decision.
        *BY THE NUMBERS – 25: The number of trades in last month’s NFL, almost 10 less than the average the last five seasons.
        15: The number of Pro Bowlers the Chiefs have drafted over the last 10 years, five more than other team (the Cowboys have drafted 10 Pro Bowlers).

FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2020


        *THE LEAD: The Cardinals are favored to win just four of 16 games in casinos posting point spreads for all 17 Weeks.
        *NO RESPECT FOR THE PATRIOTS: The Bills are 1½ points AT New England and the Jets are one-point home favorites over the Patriots.
        *STICKING WITH POINT SPREAD STUFF: The Ravens are currently favored to win all 16 games followed by 14 for the Chiefs and Saints, 13 for the 49ers, 12 for the Buccaneers, 11 for the Seahawks and Bills and 10 for the Rams, Browns, Steelers, Colts and Titans.
        On the low side, the Jaguars are favored in ZERO games with Giants, Panthers and Bengals all favored just once, the Redskins twice and the Lions, Jets and Raiders three times apiece.
        *ON THE BASEBALL FRONT, THE ASTROS MAY NOT GET HECKLED IN 2020: So much for fans booing those cheating Astros on the road, at least whenever the season starts, almost certainly, in front of no fans.
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Once the baseball season begins, don’t be surprised if the tanking Pirates quickly trade first baseman Josh Bell.

TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2020


        *FROM THE 2020 NFL SCHEDULE: The Chiefs did not get a break with their four sets of two-consecutive road games the most in the NFL.
        Also, the league scheduled consecutive Saturdays (December 19th and December 26th) for a flexed nationally-televised tripleheader. There wasjust one such Saturday last season.
        *FROM THE 2020 NFL REVENGE SCHEDULE: How about Week 15 with Odell Beckham Jr. returning with the Browns to the Swamps of Jersey against the Giants, and Week 14 with Trent Williams, now with the 49ers, returning to D.C. to face the Redskins?
        *BY THE NUMBERS, PART ONE – 5: The number of teams (the entire AFC East and the Saints) that face both Super Bowl teams from last season.
        *BY THE NUMBERS, PART TWO – 74: The number of consecutive regular-season games in which Tom Brady’s team has been favored. That will change in his first scheduled game with the Buccaneers a four-point underdog in Week One at New Orleans.
        *RANDOM STUFF: From the Korean Baseball Organization – the level of play is equivalent to AA-AAA minor league ball in the states and the average fastball velocity from pitchers leaguewide is in the high 80s.

SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2020


        *THE LEAD: If the NFL schedule is executed as planned, the Cardinals have a disadvantage in each matchup against the Seahawks. In the first meeting at State Farm Stadium, the Cardinals will be on a short week, coming off a Monday night road game (at Dallas), and in the second matchup, the Seahawks will be coming off their bye week.
        *HEADS UP FANTASY FOOTBALL COMMISSIONERS: There are two teams with significant fantasy football pieces with rare Week 13 byes – Carolina (with Christian McCaffrey) and Tampa Bay (with Tom Brady and all of his receiver options).
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas is behind schedule more than the new Chargers/Rams stadium in Los Angeles.
        There is growing speculation that the college football season is more likely to start on October 1st with a possibility of the early-season, non-conference games cancelled.
        The annual NFL supplemental draft in July could include top talents like Clemson running back Travis Etienne, Florida State defensive end Marvin Wilson, Ohio State defensive back Shawn Wade and Penn State tight end Pat Freirmuth.
        *BY THE NUMBERS – 53: Where Jameis Winston ranked on the 2020 NFL quarterback pay scale after he signed with the Saints.



       *THE CARDINALS: Their regular season schedule includes two prime time nationally-televised games – at Dallas in week 6 on Monday Night Football and at Seattle in week 11 on Thursday Night Football. It marks Arizona’s first road MNF appearance since 2009 at San Francisco (FYI – The Las Vegas Super Book posted the Cardinals four-point underdogs in Week One at San Francisco – However, minutes later, Las Vegas Caesars posted the Cardinals as seven-point underdogs).
        The Cardinals begin the season on Sunday, September 13 at defending NFC Champion San Francisco before playing consecutive games at State Farm Stadium against the Redskins and Lions, two teams forecast to finish last in their respectively divisions.
        The Cardinals are stuck with the rare stretch of three consecutive road games – October 4th at Carolina, October 11th at New York Jets and Monday, October 18th at Dallas. 
        Five of the Cards’ opponents were 2019 playoff teams and three were division winners. They face four teams (WAS, CAR, DAL, NYG) with new head coaches, two of which have rookie NFL head coaches (Carolina’s Matt Rhule and the Giants Joe Judge).
        Arizona plays twice at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey – week 5 vs. the Jets and week 14 vs. the Giants. The last time they played two road games at the same venue in a regular season was 1999 at Giants Stadium, also against the Jets and Giants. The Cardinals were likely hoping to play those games in consecutive weeks.
        *AROUND THE NFC WEST: The Niners have four prime-time HOME games … The Jimmy Garoppolo revenge game against the Patriots is in Week Seven … The Seahawks play three of their first four and four of their first six games at home. Also, Pete Carroll’s group plays just one 2019 playoff team over the final five weeks. 
        *MORE AROUND THE NFC: The Buccaneers have to be thrilled that their road game against the Saints is Week One and almost certainly without the always vocal New Orleans fans in the Super Dome. Not surprisingly, Tom Brady’s new team has the maximum five prime time games. Also, the lone Buccaneers road games in December are in dome stadiums (Atlanta and Detroit) and two of their last three games are against the Falcons … The Cowboys have five prime time games, including Week Eight at Philadelphia … The Eagles, from Weeks 12 thru 16, host Seattle, play at Green Bay, host New Orleans and play consecutive road games at Arizona and Dallas … The Packers lost by a combined 74-28 in two losses at the 49ers in 2019. They return to Bay Area for a Thursday night game in Week Nine. The Packers play five of their first seven games on the road, the opposite of their 2019 schedule. 
        *FROM THE AFC: The much anticipated Chiefs-Ravens showdown is Week Three at Baltimore (on Monday night) … The Chiefs, after a Week 10 bye, play four of five games on the road (including at Tampa Bay and New Orleans) … The Las Vegas Raiders have four prime-time games at home … The Ravens-Titans playoff rematch is Week 11 at Baltimore … The Ravens and Steelers square off in the Thanksgiving prime-time game … The Patriots still have five prime-time games, including two on Sunday night vs. the Seahawks and Ravens … The Patriots and Bills play in Weeks Eight and 16, the second of those at New England … The Colts face just one playoff team from 2019 over the first seven weeks … Bengals (Joe Burrow) at Dolphins (maybe Tua Tagovailoa) in Week 13.  
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Because of the pandemic, there has been talk about the Los Angeles teams indefinitely sharing a home stadium with the Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders and the 49ers doing the same with the Denver Broncos.
        *RANDOM STUFF: The NFL has contingency plans but the 256-game reveal on Thursday was business as usual. ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested that if any weeks are postponed, they will be rescheduled after Week 17 … The Thanksgiving slate is Houston at Detroit, Washington at Dallas and Baltimore at Pittsburgh … Al Michaels couldn’t hide his enthusiasm about two Sunday night trips to Las Vegas … Just a friendly remember, beginning with the 2020 season, the playoff field in each conference expands to seven with only the top seed in each conference receiving a bye. 

TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2020


         *THE LEAD: NFL Films video/audio clips of coaches and players have become legendary. One of the few high-profiles figures who refused to be wired during a game was Don Shula.
        *HEADLINES ACROSS AMERICA: The 37-year old Frank Gore signed today with the Jets meaning he has played with every team in the AFC East over the past three seasons except the Patriots.
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The Patriots (A.K.A. Bill Belichick) are going with Jarrett Stidham as their 2020 starting quarterback. Also, forget about re-acquiring Jacoby Brissett, who is a $21 million cap hit to the Colts if they trade him … And, speaking of the Patriots, they are currently positioned to have as much as $90 million under the salary cap in March of 2021.
        The Steelers have yet to extend the contract of JuJu Smith-Schuster who in 2019 struggled getting opening during his first season as a #1 wide receiver.
        *BY THE NUMBERS – 15: The number of Hall of Famers coached by Don Shula, second of any head coach, behind only the 18 coached by Paul Brown, one of Shula coaches as a player.
          *RANDOM STUFF: The Broncos failed to pick up the fifth-option on the 2021 contract of left tackle Garrett Bolles.


        *HEADLINES ACROSS AMERICA: Andy Dalton was released today by the Bengals and might be headed to Jacksonville to be reunited his former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden who in Cincinnati during Dalton’s best seasons.
        *BACK TO THE BENGALS: New head coach Zac Taylor is including some of Joe Burrow’s favorite LSU plays in a modified Bengals offense.
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Jameis Winston, before signing with the Saints, wanted to land with the Steelers, but they weren’t interested.
        Don’t be surprised if the Texans trade Kenny Stills and/or the Niners do the same with Dante Pettis.
        If there is a supplemental draft in July, there is growing speculation that running back Travis Etienne will forego his final season of eligibility at Clemson.
        *BY THE NUMBERS – $24.5 MILLION: That is the price of Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth-year option which the Bears have until next Monday to make an official decision (don’t do it).



       *HEROES – THE RAVENS: Incredibly, without a pick before #28, they had the best draft of any team.
       *HEROES – THE COWBOYS: The yacht draft included five selections of likely starters within two seasons.
       *HERO – THE COLTS: They changed their emphasis to physicality with the additions of Jonathan Taylor (the best true running back in the draft) and Michael Pittman Jr. (a much needed physical receiver who is also a great blocker). They fit perfectly with the best offensive line in the NFL.  
       *ZEROES – THE PACKERS: If you have been in solitary confinement since last Thursday, they traded up to select Aaron Rodgers eventually replacement (Jordan Love), they selected a big running back who doesn’t break tackles or pass protect (A.J. Dillon) and used zero of nine picks on their biggest need (wide receiver) in a draft that included a seven-round record 35 selected at the position. 
       *ZEROES – THE EAGLES: Howie Roseman thought he could get Henry Ruggs Jr. (he went too high), failed to trade up for CeeDee Lamb (who went to NFC East rival Dallas) and eventually selected Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson. All that before Roseman went with Jalen Hurts in the second round.
       *ZEROES – THE FALCONS: After failing to trade up for corner C.J. Henderson, they bypassed pass rusher K’Lavon Chaisson to select corner A.J. Terrell who they could have likely still selected by trading down. 
       *ZERO – THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN FOOTBALL PROGRAM: Jim Harbaugh’s team had more players drafted (10) than it had wins (9).       



       *THE CARDINALS, ON DAY THREE, ADDED TWO HIGH DECORATED AND EXPERIENCED DEFENSIVE LINEMEN, A PAC 12 TACKLING MACHINE AND A RUNNING BACK WITH A LOCAL CONNECTION: The Cardinals, with their final selection (222) took ASU running back Eno Benjamin, ranked 161 on the Ourlads value board. Benjamin, unfortunately, spent more than one hour of real time as the top undrafted player on Mel Kiper’s big board … Earlier in the day, with the 114th select they selected Utah run stuffer Leki Fotu who was ranked 86th on the Ourlads Value Board. Fotu is known for his effort and was All Pac 12 last season. He has played football for just five years … With the 131st selection (added in the Hopkins traded) the Cardinals went with DL Rashard Lawrence who was 177th on the Ourlads Value Board but is a prototypical Steve Keim player (three-year starter and three-year captain) … The 202nd selection was Pac 12 tackling machine Evan Weaver of Cal who was #174 on the Ourlads board. I compared him to former UA player and former Cardinal Scooby Wright. I would be surprised if becomes a productive NFL starting linebacker  
       *THE 49ERS HAD THE BEST THREE DAYS OF ANY TEAM: Adding Trent Williams today, combined with the mastermind trade swaps of Thursday night, have the resulted in the defending NFC champions improving. Rarely do Super Bowl teams get better during the draft but Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have accomplished exactly that … By the way, the Williams addition likely means the Joe Staley retirement talk is accurate … Also later today, they traded Matt Breida to the Dolphins for a fifth-round pick. Breida had ball security issues in 2019 and landed in Shanahan’s doghouse … The Niners also traded Marquise Goodwin to the Eagles for a sixth round pick … On day three of the draft, the Niners added TE Charlie Woerner, a tremendous blocker and a special teams player, and WR Janun Jennings, a red zone specialist and another outstanding special teams player. 
       *MORE AROUND THE NFC WEST: The Seahawks used the third day to add weapons for Russell Wilson – a running back, wide receiver and tight ends, including Stanford’s TE Colby Parkinson, a red zone stud … The Rams seemed to use the best player available approach on Saturday with their five picks with exception of kicker Sam Sloman of Miami-Ohio to replace Greg Zuerlein who left for the Cowboys in free agency. 
       *ASU/UA: Eno Benjamin, the seventh round pick of the Cardinals (see above), was the only ASU players selected in the draft after Brandon Aiyuk went 25th in the first round. Punter Michael Turk and center Cohl Cabral had draftable grades from longtime Sports Zone draft expert Dan Shonka of Ourlads Scouting Services … The UA had zero players selected. Only defensive back Jace Whitaker had a draftable grade from Shonka/Ourlads.  
       *JAKE FROMM WAS FINALLY SELECTED (167TH): Not only did the Georgia quarterback drop to the fifth round, he was selected by the Bills where the only chance he plays over the next few years is if Josh Allen is injured. 
       *WHO ARE THE TOP PLAYERS NOT AMONG THE 255 DRAFTED THE LAST THREE DAYS?: There were only seven undrafted players in the Top 150 Value Board of Ourlad’s Scouting Services – Washington tight end Hunter Bryant (90), Illinois State running back James Robinson (124), Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney (131), Oklahoma State corner A.J. Green (133) … Georgia safety J.R. Reid (138) … Auburn defensive end Nick Coe (141) and Oklahoma corner Parnell Motley (145). 
       There were only eight undrafted players in the Top 150 Big Board of Pro Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt – Washington tight end Hunter Bryant (84), Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie (94 – suspended in 2019 after positive PED test), Vanderbilt WR Kalija Lipscomb (103), Colorado QB Steven Montez (105), Montana LB Dante Olson (108), TCU guard Cordel Iwuagwu (116), Washington State QB Anthony Gordon and Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (146). 
       *INSIDE THE FOURTH ROUND: The Colts tried to move into first round on Thursday to select Jordan Love, before settling today for Washington Jacob Eason to be their quarterback of the future with the 122nd selection … The first 134 players selected were invited to the combine, 
       *INSIDE THE FIFTH ROUND: The Buccaneers added a slot receiver for Tom Brady in Tyler Johnson who was tremendously productive in the Big Ten at Minnesota … Boise State edge rusher Curtis Weaver was selected 164th by the Dolphins. He a late first rounder in some mock drafts … Utah edge rusher Bradley Anae dropped to the 179th round selection to Dallas (the last pick of the fifth round)
       *INSIDE THE SIXTH ROUND: Donovan Peoples-Jones went #187 to the Browns, quite a fall since he was considered by some of the recruiting gurus to be the top high school player in the country when he committed to Michigan … The Jags selected Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton who someday might eventually challenge fellow Pac 12 alum Gardner Minshew. 
       *INSIDE THE SEVENTH ROUND: Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, considered at worst a second day selection two years ago, went was the 244th pick to the Vikings. 
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFL GRAPEVINE: The Colts, almost certainly, will trade Jacoby Brissett, maybe back to the Patriots.  
       *GENERAL STUFF: The three-day and seven-rounds will conclude with 255 picks – Ourlads Scouting Services has 338 players with first through seven round draft grades.  

FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020


       *THE CARDINALS WITH THE 72ND PICK SELECTED OFFENSE LINEMAN JOSH JONES: Another highly rated player selected by Steve Keim. Jones was number 29 by Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt and was the third rated offensive tackle in college football last season by Pro Football Focus.
       *AROUND THE NFC WEST: The 49ers are trying to acquire Trent Williams from the Redskins which would seem to confirm speculation that longtime left tackle Joe Staley is going to retire, effective immediately … The Seahawks selected Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor who might have been a first-rounder if not for injuries in 2019. The Seahawks filled a need by selecting guard Damien Lewis with the 69th selection … The Rams took the next step to replace Todd Gurley with the selection of Cam Akers, #52 overall. Not all the draft evaluators loved Akers, including Gil Brandt who ranked Akers #107. The Rams went with WR-ST whiz Van Jefferson with the 57th selection. The Rams, after losing five defensive starters in free agency and retirement, oddly went RB and WR with their two second-round picks. The Rams did go defense in the third round with the oft-injured Alabama edge rusher and former top recruit Terrell Lewis who played just 26 games in his college career. 
       *WHAT ARE THE PACKERS DOING?: After the Jordan Love first-day selection, they selected one-dimensional running back A.J. Dillon with the 62nd selection. He was the first player selected not part of Gil Brandt’s top 150 players.
      *JALEN HURTS TO THE EAGLES AT #53 WAS AN INTERESTING SELECTION: Doug Pederson will immediately use Hurts as a utility player and Hurts provides needed insurance for Carson Wentz who continues to miss time with injuries in college and the NFL. 
       *INSIDE THE SECOND ROUND: Michael Pittman Jr., son on the former Cardinal running back, should immediately play for the Colts … The Colts also selected Wisconsin running back Jonathon Taylor, which could be bad news for Marlon Mack. Rarely do I disagree with Louis Riddick, but his declaration that the Colts will fix Taylor’s massive fumbling issue is highly debatable. Taylor fumbled at key junctures for three seasons, including his final college game when he turned it over at a key juncture in the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon.  
       J.K. Dobbins went to the Ravens and John Harbaugh whose brother was destroyed by Dobbins in Ohio State University wins over Michigan the last three seasons … Andy Reid chose athleticism over character again with the selection of Mississippi State outside linebacker Willie Gay who started just six of 31 games at Mississippi State after a variety of ineligibility and other issues including a pre-bowl game fight with his starting quarterback that prevented the quarterback from playing in the bowl game.
       *INSIDE THE THIRD ROUND: Fantasy Alert – The Buccaneers drafted RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn who gained 1,000 yards the last two seasons against SEC defenses with a shaky offensive line and poor quarterback play … The Raiders added their second and third wide receivers, the versatile Lynn Bowden of Kentucky and the spectacular pass-catching Bryan Edwards from South Carolina … FANTASY ALERT – Buffalo running back Devin Singletary took a big hit with the addition of Utah goal line monster Zack Moss.
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFL GRAPEVINE: The Texans have started discussions on extending the contract of Deshaun Watson and today announced the contract of Laremy Tunsil (three years, $66 million) … The Redskins and Giants are still talking Trent Williams trade … The Jaguars did not trade edge rusher Yannik Ngokoue after seeking  two first-round picks … The Panthers are taking Curtis Samuels trade offers … Patriots starting center David Andrews has been medically cleared to play in 2020. 
       *GENERAL STUFF: The three-day and seven-rounds will conclude with 255 picks – Ourlads Scouting Services has 338 players with first through seven round draft grades.  
      Television rating for Thursday’s first round was up 37% from last season with 15 million viewers. By comparison, it was 2 1/2 times more viewers than the Last Dance documentary last Sunday on ESPN. 



       *THE CARDINALS GOT IT RIGHT WITH THE EIGHTH SELECTION: Steve Keim’s great off-season continue with Isaiah Simmons still available with the eight selection. His versatility fills the Cardinals biggest remaining need … Simmons was #3 on the big boards of both Ourlads Scouting Services and NFL Hall of Fame personnel man Gil Brandt.
       *BRANDON AIYUK WILL BE COMPETING AGAINST THE CARDINALS: The Niners moved up six spots to #25 to select him. He should be a perfect fit in the Kyle Shanahan offense that stresses getting the ball to receivers on the move, an area Aiyuk specialized in last season at ASU. Aiyuk was the 38th ranked player by Ourlads and 30th by Gil Brandt. 
       *AUSTIN JACKSON WAS ALSO A FIRST-ROUNDER: The valley product was the 18th selection and will protect the blindside of Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. Jackson was the 20th ranked player by Ourlads and 19th by Gil Brandt. 
       *INSIDE THE FIRST ROUND: The first three picks were according to form (Joe Burrow, Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah) while the fourth pick was not a surprise to Sports Zone listerners. Matt Lombardo, our mock drafter last week, Matt Lombardo of NYAdvanceMedia, selected Thomas … The Dolphins lied to everyone for weeks and rolled the dice with Tua Tagovailoa, a choice I would have never made … Three quarterbacks in first six picks means the Cardinals get Isaiah Simmons, Derrick Brown, Tristan Wirfs or Jedrick Wills … Twitter was at least two minutes ahead of Brown to Panthers pick before Goodell announcement on ESPN … The rumors were correct regarding C.J. Henderson flying up draft boards as he went ninth to the Jaguars … So much for this being an unpredictable draft with zero out of the box selections among the top 10.
      Mekhi Becton going 11th likely means the combine flagged drug test was for marijuana and not for something considered more harmful … Al Davis lives with the Raiders selection of Henry Ruggs Jr., the fastest player at the combine and the first wide receiver selected, including ahead of his Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy … The Tampa brass of former Cardinals Jason Licht and Bruce Arians traded up to select Tristan Wirfs, the fourth of the so-called stud tackles … Niners apparently got more than the trade chart says to flip picks 13 and 14 with the Buccaneers … The Falcons are first-round losers, failing to move up to draft C.J. Henderson and settling on fellow corner A.J. Terrell. Ourlads ranked Terrell the 25th best player while Gil Brandt had Terrell 28th … Michael Irvin is wrong claiming the Cowboys made a great pick by passing on adding to its depleted defense by going with CeeDee Lamb … The Raiders pulled the first big surprise of the draft with the 19th pick, selecting Damon Arnette of The Ohio State University, the 77th ranked player by Ourlads and 65th by Gil Brandt. 
       The Jaguars appeared to draft Yannik Ngokoue’s replacement by selecting K’Lavon Chaisson who is considered a boom or bust candidate … The Eagles, as expected, selected a wide receiver at #21, but passed on ASU’s Brandon Aiyuk, and others, to select Jalen Reagor who frequently dropped passes and muffed punts at TCU. Reagor was ranked 52nd by Ourlads and 42nd by Gil Brandt … Justin Jefferson was an almost exclusive slot receiver at LSU, but Adam Theilen already has that role in Minnesota which still picked him at #22 … The Patriots now have 13 selection after trading out of the first round – the Chargers used that 23rd pick to select Kenneth Murray the second best linebacker in the draft behind the Cardinals Isaiah Simmons …  Michigan Cesar Ruiz became the first interior offensive lineman selected going to the Saints at #24 … The Packers continue to avoid the obvious and get the much needed second wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers. Instead, they moved up four spots to select inaccurate quarterback Jordan Love to back up Rodgers … The Ravens, as predicted in today’s Sports Zone, selected LSU inside linebacker Patrick Queen who was the best defender on the field in the national championship game win over Clemson … The Titans opted to replace RT Jack Conklin with Georgia underclassman Isaiah Wilson … The Dolphins surprised most by selecting Auburn CB Noah Igbinoghene, the 50th ranked player by Ourlads and 80th by Gil Brandt. He was the lowest ranked player on Brandt’s board selected in the first round … The Vikings lost their top three corners to free agency leading to their selection of TCU’s Jeff Gladney who is coming off knee surgery and has some off-field issues … Fantasy owners take note – the Chiefs selected the only first round running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire who perfectly fits the Andy Reid offense.
       *WHO WASN’T SELECTED: The top five ranked players from Ourlads Scouting Services that weren’t drafted are LSU safety Grant Delpit, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa, LSU corner Kristian Fulton, Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims and Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos … The top five ranked players by Gil Brandt that weren’t drafted are TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, LSU safety Grant Delpit and Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross Matos.
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFC WEST  GRAPEVINE: The Seahawks may sign Valley product Everson Griffen … The Niners remain unsure if left tackle Joe Staley will not opt for retire before next season … Also, the Niners have granted permission for Marquise Goodwin to seek a trade. 
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFL GRAPEVINE: The Redskins were seeking a first-rounder for left tackle Trent Williams … The Raiders listened to offers for starting guard Grady Jackson. 
       *HEARD THROUGH THE DRAFT GRAPEVINE: The Falcons tried to get the Redskins #2 selection, presumably to select Chase Young … The Jaguars, thought to be trading down, called the Lions at #3, presumably to select Tua Tagovailoa … There was Thursday talk that Jalen Hurts might be a late first-round selection, so don’t be surprised if he is an early second rounder. 
       *GENERAL STUFF: The three-day and seven-rounds will conclude with 255 picks – Ourlads Scouting Services has 338 players with first through seven round draft grades.  
       Trey Wingo’s pinstripe jacket looked like it came from the Al Capone collection … Will ESPN ever rid us of Booger McFarland? … Does Nick Saban play pool or just have a table in his home? 



       *THE LEAD:  The Dolphins might not feel comfortable with frequently injured Tua Tagovailoa and they are rumored to be interested in getting ahead of the Giants to select and offensive tackle. Might they believe that Joe Burrow is the only elite quarterback? Our might the Dolphins be eyeing Jordan Love with one of their two other first round selections?
       *AROUND THE NFC WEST: Seahawks general manager John Schneider has traded down the last eight years he has had a first-round selection.
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFL GRAPEVINE: The Patriots opted for a fourth-round pick instead of O.J. Howard in the Rob Gronkowski trade with the Buccaneers … The Cowboys virtual off-season, which might have something to do with escalating talk that they might Jalen Hurts in the second round … The Eagles have the third most money under the cap and are looking to make a big splash for an offensive playmaker.
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFL DRAFT GRAPEVINE: Jerry Jeudy’s 2018 knee surgery has caused concerned for some teams … Look for an offenslve line run with as many as eight players selected in the first round … Don’t be surprised if there are zero running backs selected in the first round … The Bengals can’t sign their draft class with cutting current roster salary.  



       *FROM THE I TOLD YOU SO FILE: For more than one year I have declared I would not believe Rob Gronkowski is retired until he is not on a roster to begin the 2020 season. This afternoon, the Patriots traded the rights to Gronkowski to the Buccaneers … THE BOTTOM LINE – The Bruce Arians “no risk it, no biscuit” offense just became the Tom Brady “throw it to the tight end and short passing” offense.
       *THE BENGALS MIGHT KEEP ANDY DALTON: The longer NFL players remain off a practice field, that scenario increases. In fact, if the 2020 season is delayed, don’t be surprised if Dalton starts Week One ahead of Joe Burrow.
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFC WEST GRAPEVINE: The Rams first two picks are at 52 and 57 which could lead to selecting LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, someone who would have been a good fit for the Cardinals who should add a running back among their six picks … The Niners are listening to offers for linebacker Kwan Alexander.
       *HEARD THROUGH THE NFL GRAPEVINE: The Redskins and Browns are still talking trade for Trent Williams … The Colts are taking offers for safety Malik Hooker.   
       *HEARD THROUGH THE DRAFT GRAPEVINE: South Carolina Javon Kinlaw has flunked at least one physically … The Browns likely will not select Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. because there is doubt whether he can excel at left tackle … Utah State quarterback Justin Love is sliding down draft boards.
       *HOW DID TCU HAVE A LOSING RECORD IN 2019: Gary Patterson’s team, with four players possibly being drafted in the top 45 this week, finished 5-7 last season as a member of the extremely mediocre Big 12 Conference.

MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2020


       *KEN WHISENHUNT IS PLAYING A BIG ROLE IN THIS WEEK’S DRAFT: The former Cardinals head coach is part of TEAM TUA getting the quarterback physically and mentally ready before the draft.
       *FROM THE BELIEVE IT WHEN YOU SEE IT FILE: Dave Gettleman, who has never traded a first-round pick (up or down) as the Panthers and Giants general manager, said he, “will very seriously entertain offers at number four.”
       *THE JAGS ARE IN FULL TANK MODE: The biggest question is how general manager David Caldwell is still employed with the team 36-76 under his direction?
       *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The Dolphins-Justin Herbert talk has escalated even further after speculation that Dan Marino endorsed Herbert … The Buccaneers are looking to trade underachieving tight end O.J. Howard whom they tried to get a second-round pick for prior to last season’s trade deadline … If Patriots offensive lineman Joe Thuney is traded on draft night, the Browns 10th pick would be a prime target … The Raiders prefer Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb atop the deep wide receiver pool.

SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2020


        *THE RAMS DECLINE CONTINUES: The Super Bowl team of just 14 months ago has roughly 50 percent of the playing time from the 2018 group returning in the 2020 season. Also, the Rams have zero first-round picks for two more seasons. Their last first-rounder was Jared Goff.
        *HERE IS MY LATEST CONNECT THE DOTS CONCLUSION: Leonard Fournette on Friday said he wants the Jaguars to sign Cam Newton, hardly a ringing endorsement for Gardner Minshew. Less than 24 hours later, Fournette was rumored to be on the trade block.
       *AND, HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The Steelers with their pick (49th overall) are interested in Oklahoma/Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts … The Colts trade their two second-round selections and move back into the first round to select Jordan Love who the Colts have been zeroing in for the two seasons … The Giants go with Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons with the fourth pick and trade to get a late first-rounder to select Georgia’s OTHER offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson.
       The Browns trade down from #10 and select Boise State tackle and combine star Ezra Cleveland … The Jets at #11 and the Broncos at #15 are jockeying to select Alabama speedster and tough guy Henry Ruggs III … There is little doubt the Texans will try to move wide receiver Kenny Stills for a draft pick.



       *THE LEAD: The pandemic and economic damage almost certainly guarantees the College Football Playoff will expand from four to eight teams when the current contract expires after the 2025 season, or maybe before. 
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: The Browns are going to move from the 10th selection. There is talk about moving up to select Isaiah Simmons and there is other talk that the metrics-based front office is looking to trade down to add more picks.
        If Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers want one of the top four offensive tackles, trading up, almost certainly, a necessity.
        The Patriots are far more likely to start the season Jarrett Stidham at quarterback than any quarterback in next week’s draft. However, don’t be surprised if the Patriot draft Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm.
        The NFL Draft always has position runs. The first three next week will likely be offensive line, wide receiver and defensive line.
        *RANDOM STUFF: From Mike Sando of The Athletic, Tom Coughlin’s tenure as Jacksonville’s executive decision-maker ended notoriously after the NFL Players Association revealed that 25 percent of all player grievances filed over the past two years implicated the Jaguars.

MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2020


        *THE LEAD: The first 11 consensus players in the drafted are three quarterbacks (Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert), four defensive players (Chase Young, Jeffrey Okudah, Isaiah Simmons and Derrick Brown) and four offensive tackles (Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills Jr., Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas).
        *LOCAL ROUNDUP: DeAndre Hopkins likely wants Amari Cooper money per season ($20 million). Cooper, after re-signing with the Cowboys, is now second behind Julio Jones in the wide receiver annual salary standings.
        ASU alum Manny Wilkins is one of three quarterbacks currently on the Packers roster, along with Aaron Rodgers and Tim Boyle.
        *AROUND THE NFC WEST: The 49ers George Kittle wants to get paid with the starting point higher than the top two currently paid tight ends per season (Hunter Henry $10.6 million and Austin Hooper $10.5 million).
        *HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: If Tua Tagovailoa begins to drop, look for the Raiders to move up and select him … If the Chargers bypass on quarterback with the sixth selection, the Cam Newton speculation will be off the charts … And, the Panthers would select Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert if he falls to seventh.
        *RANDOM STUFF: From The Athletic’s Mike Sando, Tom Coughlin’s tenure as Jacksonville’s executive decision-maker ended notoriously after the NFL Players Association revealed that 25 percent of all player grievances filed over the past two years implicated the Jaguars.