NFL Draft: Four SEC players in top 10 and Manziel still on the board

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Three SEC players went in the top ten and for the second season in a row a player from the MAC was drafted in the top five. Here is a quick rundown of the top ten picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.

1. Houston Texans: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney was expected by many to be the first player drafted, and the Texans made him wait before the pick became official. Clowney is the fifth player from the SEC to be drafted number one overall since 2004.

2. St. Louis Rams: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

For the first time since 2010 the top two picks in the NFL Draft came form the same conference. In 2010 it was Oklahoma and Nebraska accounting for the top four picks. Robinson is the first Auburn offensive tackle to go in the first round since Victor Riley in 1998.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Blake Bortles, UCF

Jacksonville pulled off the first puzzling draft decision of the night by drafting Bortles with the third overall pick. Bortles is now the highest draft pick and just the second first round draft pick in school history. The last UCF player to go in the first round was quarterback Daunte Culpepper in 1999.

4. Buffalo Bills (from Cleveland Browns): WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

For the second straight season a Clemson wide receiver was drafted in the first round. The Bills traded up to get the player who may be the best receiver in the draft and we will finally get a chance to see CJ Spiller and Watkins on the field at the same time.

5. Oakland Raiders: LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

The MAC defensive star that seemingly came out of nowhere is the second MAC player in two seasons to go in the first five picks of the NFL Draft.

6. Atlanta Falcons: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

If you were curious why Johnny Manziel has been so effective for the Aggies, take a look at the draft. For the second straight season the Aggies sent an offensive linemen in the first ten picks of the draft (Luke Joeckel last year). Johnny Manziel sits waiting and sipping water in the back.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Tampa Bay picks up one of the top wide receivers by choosing the second straight player out of Texas A&M. Evans is the first wide receiver in school history to be drafted in the first round.

8. Cleveland Browns (from Minnesota Vikings): CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

This may be the strangest move of the draft. For some reason the Browns, having already traded down earlier, felt it necessary to move up one pick in order to draft a cornerback. Justin Gilbert is a good player, but there does not seem to have been any sort of demand to make this move for Cleveland, but they are the Cleveland Browns after all.

9. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo via Cleveland): LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

The Vikings passed on a chance to draft Manziel but do so by picking up a solid defensive addition in Barr. The Vikings could have used some help at quarterback, but adding Barr is not exactly a poor decision.

10. Detroit Lions: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

The Lions already have a franchise quarterback so there was no need to make a move for Manziel. Instead they add what could be the best tight end prospect in the draft and give Matt Stafford a nice target to compliment the wide receivers already on the field.

Players by Conference: SEC (4), ACC (2), AAC (1), Big 12 (1), MAC (1), Pac-12 (1)

 

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.