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)

 

LOOK: Arizona State to wear Pat Tillman-themed uniforms

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Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.

The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.

Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.

“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”

Jim McElwain says family, players have received death threats over 3-3 start

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Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.

How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

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Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, C Zach Shackelford in concussion protocol

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Texas has lost two straight upset bids in strikingly similar fashion: true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads a potential-game winning drive, scrambles, hits his head on the turf and ends the possession in a puzzling throw.

The first came in last week’s loss to No. 10 Oklahoma. Trailing 29-24 late in the fourth quarter, scrambled for two yards to the Texas-48 yard line but hit his head on the Cotton Bowl turf and was forced to leave the game for five plays. Shane Buechele pushed the Longhorns to the Oklahoma 31, but he was replaced after a sack and Ehlinger ended up throwing the ball away on 4th-and-13 from the OU 34 with two minutes to play. That, as they say, was that.

Fast forward to Saturday and Texas was trailing No. 11 Oklahoma State 13-10 in overtime when Ehlinger opened the possession with a scramble that again saw the back of his head bang against the Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium turf. He stayed in the game this time, but ended the game on a puzzling (to say the least) interception to absolutely no one on 3rd-and-4 from the OSU 6.

While Ehlinger was not evaluated for a concussion during the game, he did not practice Sunday and head coach Tom Herman said Monday that Ehlinger and center Zach Shackelford are in concussion protocol.

Complicating matters for Texas is that sophomore back-up Shane Buechele is playing on a gimpy ankle that kept him out against San Jose State and Kansas State that Herman said will not improve as the season goes on.

No matter, Texas will face a hungry Baylor team on Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU) that nearly completed a comeback against No. 22 West Virginia on Saturday night.