NFL DEVELOPMENTAL EVENTS SPROUT UP AMIDST PANDEMIC
With the recent Tennessee Titans outbreak and current pandemic protocol currently in place between the NFL and NFLPA, it has become a somewhat arduous (and costly) task bringing in street free agents. Players flown into town for Tuesday team tryouts must arrive several days in advance and pass multiple Covid-19 tests, while they remain quarantined inside their hotel room leading up to their workout. It’s The State of Football that has become the new norm but if anything positive has emerged from the virus, it has been the sudden pop-up of legitimate alternative showcase events for current pro football free agents to take advantage of.
Look no further than this past weekend, as ‘The Hub,’ an organization founded by Tom Brady’s agent Don Yee, hosted 60 unsigned players at his event in San Diego. Some of the players in attendance included 2020 Titans draft pick, quarterback Cole McDonald, AAF and XFL standout Nelson Spruce and former Missouri/Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant, who recently had a workout with the Houston Texans.
The showcase featured notable coaches such as Geep Chryst, Tim McTyer and Nick Novak amongst others, while drawing scouts from four NFL teams, in addition to the NFL Draft Bible who was also on location. With 25 NFL teams committed to attend the next event slated for November, contact NFL Draft Bible on details for how to get vetted or register online at HubFootball.com.
Speaking of the XFL, they announced plans to return in the Spring of 2022, according to new league co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who along with Redbird Capital Partners acquired the rights to the league for $15M million in August.
In other notable news, The Spring League announced that it would be televised on FOX Sports with an extensive, multi-year agreement beginning October 27th, running weekdays on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings on FS1. As part of the agreement, FOX Sports also secures an option to acquire a minority equity stake in The Spring League.
DESPITE RUSTY OUTING, NO LIMIT TO HOW HIGH TREY LANCE MAY ASCEND
In what might be the largest attended game by NFL executives of the season, 28 scouts with representatives from at least 20 organizations were on hand in Fargo, to take in the North Dakota State showcase game featuring quarterback TREY LANCE [6030/226]. The much-hyped, future franchise quarterback showed some rust early on in his lone game of the season, tossing his first interception in nearly 300 pass attempts, losing a fumble and missing the mark on several deep balls. However, Lance certainly didn’t do anything to hinder his draft stock either, appearing to be bulked up from a year ago and demonstrating the same type of toughness, athleticism and arm strength that has pro evaluators salivating. The Minnesota native, who carries strong bloodlines (father Calvin, was a former NFL/CFL player), finished the game 15-of-30 passing, for 149 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while adding an additional two scores via the ground, to go along with 143 rushing yards. It’s no secret that Lance has been flirting with agents and is viewed as a lock to declare for the NFL Draft. With his thick, athletic build, he potentially owns the greatest upside of any quarterback in college football, which could set him up to contend as the No.1 overall pick.
DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE
Add recent Rose Bowl MVP BRADY BREEZE [5116/196] to the list of college football opt outs who will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft and instead focus on his preparations for the next level. Breeze had a strong finish to his junior campaign, taking over the starting boundary safety job for the final six games, registering a career-high 62 tackles, two interceptions, three fumble returns, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He is one of just eight FBS players since 2000 with two fumble returns for a touchdown and a pick-six in the same season. He also had a blocked punt for a touchdown in his final game against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He’ll need to carry that momentum over the draft season, as he’s currently viewed as a Day Three draft target. Meanwhile as one Ducks player opts out, another has chosen to opt back in, as senior cornerback DEOMMODORE LENOIR [5106/202] has declared his intention to play in the upcoming seven-game, Pac-12 season.
THE TWISTING, TURNING CAREER OF FELEIPE FRANKS
The roller coaster career that is FELEIPE FRANKS [6051/227] rode itself back up the tracks with a precision passing performance against Mississippi State, guiding Arkansas to their first SEC win in 21 games. Franks utilized play action well throughout the day, showing off his strong arm and ability to throw on the run, rolling out on multiple occasions, while completing 20-of-28 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. The transfer from Florida, who lost his starting job after suffering an ankle injury, came to Arkansas looking for a fresh start. He was quick to earn the respect of both his coaches and teammates, being named a team captain and while his consistency has been streaky, pro scouts are still intrigued by his potential. Born into a military family and raised on a farm tending to horses, Franks also has one of the more well-versed background stories. Keep an eye on his development, as his size, mobility and perseverance have him on the NFL radar.
HOKIES DO-IT-ALL WEAPON KHALIL HERBERT POSSESSES SOME ‘ELITE’ TRAITS
Big time performances have become something of the norm for Virginia Tech running back KHALIL HERBERT [5086/205], who had himself a monstrous day that included an 83-yard kickoff return and two rushing touchdowns, including one 60-yard scamper on his way to setting a new Hokies single game school-record with 358 all-purpose yards. Herbert is currently one of the most underrated prospects in the land, with elite level vision and explosiveness, there is no doubt that he’s ascending on draft boards around the league.
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PONY EXPRESS TAKES TO AIR WITH RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCE
It was the biggest day any SMU wide out has ever had, as REGGIE ROBERSON JR [5112/200] became the first Mustangs player ever to amass over 200 yards receiving in a single game. Roberson Jr., flashed his run after catch skill-set, scoring on receptions of 70 and 85 yards, totaling a whopping 243 receiving yards on five catches to help give SMU a win in a wild shootout with Memphis before leaving the game in the third quarter due to a knee injury. While the injury is not considered to be serious, Roberson Jr. will be re-evaluated this week as their next game doesn’t fall until October 16th at Tulane.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE PLAYMAKER EMEZIE MAKES IT LOOK EASY
Keep an eye on North Carolina State wide receiver EMEKA EMEZIE [6021/208], as the Wolfpack look to open up the offense more in the coming weeks. His athleticism and ball skills were at the forefront this past Saturday, as Emezie made several acrobatic clutch catches in their upset win over Pittsburgh, including the game-winning reception with just :23 seconds remaining on the clock. A descent of Nigeria, the former basketball player owns an excellent vertical game, to go along with ideal size and speed. Emezie placed an extra emphasis on his route running and conditioning during the offseason, which is now paying huge dividends, making him one to watch as we get closer to April.
MOUNTAINEERS HAPPY TO HAVE ‘TRAIN STOPPER’ ON DEFENSE
A graduate transfer from Arizona, TONY FIELDS II [6002/220] has had a huge impact for West Virginia early on, providing great leadership, experience and what head coach Neal Brown calls a ‘train stopper’ mentality. Those intangibles were on display once again, as Fields II racked up 10 tackles, including two for loss, with one sack, one pass deflection and a handful of quarterback pressures, as the Mountaineers upended Baylor. A three-year starter at WILL during his time in Tuscon, Fields II has moved to the MIKE position this season in Morgantown. Through three games, the Las Vegas native now has a team-high 29 tackles, bringing his career total to 316, while also raising his draft profile. With a multi-faceted skill-set, Fields II possesses the ability to take on blocks and stuff the run effectively, in addition to being able to drop back in coverage or get after the quarterback when asked to serve as a pass-rusher, makes Fields II a valuable commodity at the next level.
THIS AND THAT; JOE BURROW JOINS RARIFIED AIR
Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback JOE BURROW passed for 300 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 92.4 rating in the Bengals’ 33-25 win over Jacksonville in Week 4, his first career victory. Burrow, who passed for 316 yards in Week 2 and 312 yards in Week 3, is the first rookie quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards in three consecutive games in NFL history. Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT passed for 290 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 137.9 rating in Week 4 against Tampa Bay. Herbert, who threw touchdown passes of 72 and 53 yards, is the first rookie quarterback with two touchdown passes of at least 50 yards since DESHAUN WATSON (Week 8, 2017). Herbert has 931 passing yards this season, the second-most passing yards by a rookie quarterback in his first three career starts in NFL history. Only CAM NEWTON (1,012 in 2011) had more.
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