Christian McCaffrey

Associated Press

Nearly three-fourths of 2017 first-round NFL draft picks were 4- or 5-star recruits

7 Comments

For those who completely dismiss recruiting rankings, the NFL draft showed again last night that they do mean something.

The 2017 version of the annual player selection meeting kicked off Thursday night in Philadelphia, with a total of 32 players selected in the opening round.  Of those 32, nearly 75 percent — 22 to be exact — were either four- or five-star recruits.  Nine were the latter, 13 the former.

Four of the first six selections, and three of the first four, were five-star recruits.  Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, the No. 1 overall pick, was the No. 2 player in the 2014 recruiting class; LSU’s Leonard Fournette, drafted fourth by the Jacksonville Jaguars, was the top recruit in that same class.

Just two of the 32 selections came from non-Power Five conferences, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and Temple’s Haason Reddick.  Davis was one of two two-star recruits, Missouri’s Charles Harris being the other, while Reddick began his career with the Owls as a walk-on.

There were also six three-star recruits drafted, the highest being Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall.  He was also the second quarterback taken, behind only Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina (four-star).

Add all of those up, and you get 31 of the players selected last night.  The 32nd?  Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk, who had an interesting, to say the least, route to major college football.  From Ramczyk’s NFL.com draft profile:

Ramczyk (pronounced RAM-check) is a rare case of a Division III student-athlete making the jump to major college football. Even though he was an all-state pick from Wisconsin, he chose to turn down offers from FBS and FCS schools (one from Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who was at Pitt at the time) to attend a local technical college. After a year off, he decided to play at his hometown school, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Ramczyk was a two-time all-conference pick there at left tackle before deciding to transfer to play for Chryst at Wisconsin.

Appropriately, Ramczyk was the last player selected in the first round, taken at No. 32 by the New Orleans Saints.

1.) Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M, 2014 5-star (Cleveland Browns)
2.) Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina, 2013 4-star (Chicago Bears)
3.) Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford, 2014 5-star (San Francisco 49ers)
4.) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, 2014 5-star (Jacksonville Jaguars)
5.) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan, 2013 2-star (Tennessee Titans)
6.) Jamal Adams, DB, LSU, 2014 5-star (New York Jets)
7.) Mike Williams, WR, Clemson, 2013 4-star (Los Angeles Chargers)
8.) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford, 2014 4-star (Carolina Panthers)
9.) John Ross, WR, Washington, 2013 4-star (Cincinnati Bengals)
10.) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech, 2013 3-star (Kansas City Chiefs)
11.) Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, 2014 4-star (New Orleans Saints)
12.) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson, 2014 4-star (Houston Texans)
13.) Haason Reddick, LB, Temple, walk-on (Arizona Cardinals)
14.) Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee, 2014 4-star (Philadelphia Eagles)
15.) Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State, 2014 4-star (Indianapolis Colts)
16.) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama, 2015 4-star (Baltimore Ravens)
17.) Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama, 2013 5-star (Washington Redskins)
18.) Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC, 2014 5-star (Tennessee Titans)
19.) O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama, 2013 5-star (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
20.) Garett Bolles, OL, Utah, 2016 4-star (Denver Broncos)
21.) Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida, 2013 3-star (Detroit Lions)
22.) Charles Harris, DE, Missouri, 2013 2-star (Miami Dolphins)
23.) Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss, 2013 3-star (New York Giants)
24.) Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State, 2013 4-star (Oakland Raiders)
25.) Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan, 2014 5-star (Cleveland Browns)
26.) Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA, 2013 3-star (Atlanta Falcons)
27.) Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU, 2013 4-star (Buffalo Bills)
28.) Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan, 2013 4-star (Dallas Cowboys)
29.) David Njoku, TE, Miami, 2014 3-star (Cleveland Browns)
30.) T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin, 2013 3-star (Pittsburgh Steelers)
31.) Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama, 2013 5-star (San Francisco 49ers)
32.) Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin, no rating (New Orleans Saints)

Defense leads McCaffrey-less No. 18 Stanford past North Carolina in Sun Bowl

Associated Press
1 Comment

Who needs Christian McCaffrey? Or a starting quarterback for that matter? Playing without its regular backfield battery, No. 18 Stanford used a standout effort from running back Bryce Love and a relentless defense to hold off North Carolina 25-23 in an overcast Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Keller Chryst started the game at quarterback and, after a three-and-out and a UNC touchdown to open the game, put Stanford on the board with a 49-yard snatch-and-dash toss to Love. After a Tar Heels punt, Chryst maneuvered Stanford to within scoring territory before he was forced to leave the game after injuring his right knee on an 8-yard scramble. Conrad Ukropina put Stanford on top with a 44-yard field goal with 14:13 to play in the first half.

The Cardinal eventually pushed the lead to 16-7 thanks to a defense that stifled North Carolina’s offense. Playing in perhaps his final college game before a possible first-round selection in this spring’s NFL Draft, Stanford forced Mitch Trubisky into an interception inside his own territory and a fumble inside his own red zone. Nick Weiler, hero of the Florida State win, added to the misery when he missed a 51-yard field goal, leading to Ukropina’s third field goal of the game (with one miss mixed in) to push the Cardinal lead to nine.

North Carolina responded with its best offensive stretch of the day, moving a combined 123 yards over 17 plays to secure a 37-yard Weiler field goal and a 5-yard Jordon Brown rush, staking the Heels to a 17-16 lead with 2:09 to play in the third quarter. But Stanford got Trubisky one last time, taking as Dallas Lloyd claimed his second interception of the day and returned it untouched for a 19-yard pick-six at the 14:13 mark of the fourth quarter. Ryan Burns, playing for Chryst, saw his 2-point pass fall incomplete, forcing Stanford to live with a 22-17 lead. Burns managed the offense and produced just enough points for the win, completing 6-of-11 passes for 86 yards without a turnover. (Chryst left the game with 86 passing yards, 14 rushing yards and a touchdown.) Love rushed 22 times for a game-high 115 yards with a 49-yard touchdown reception.

The Heels moved 35 yards on a would-be go-ahead possession before punting, and Stanford put together a vintage Stanford (10-3) drive, consuming more than seven minutes to run 12 plays. But Stanford, un-Stanford-like fashion, could not push the ball across the goal line, settling for Ukropina’s fourth field goal of the day instead.

North Carolina (8-5) took the field at its own 25 with an eternity — 3:23, to be exact — and all three of its timeouts, needing a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to force a 25-25 tie, but could not gain a first down. Trubisky completed a pass to Ryan Switzer for no gain on first down, threw incomplete on second down and was sacked by Solomon Thomas on third down, forcing a punt with exactly two minutes remaining.

The Cardinal killed only ten seconds on three Love runs — with a third down one puzzlingly going out of bounds — but a 56-yard Jake Bailey punt pinned North Carolina at its own three with 1:34 and one timeout remaining. That inability to cross the line once, either to score the game-winning touchdown or a game-ending first down one drive later, proved costly. Given new life, Trubisky moved North Carolina 97 yards in one minute, as Trubisky scrambled to his right and found Bug Howard opened in the left side of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown that traveled about 40 through the air.

Needing a 2-point conversion to extend the game, Trubisky again scrambled to his right but was swallowed by Thomas and a host of Cardinal defenders.

Stanford recovered the ensuing onside kick and expired the final 25 seconds to hold on for the win. In what may be his final on-field audition for the NFL, Trubisky finished 23-of-39 passing for 280 yards with two touchdowns and three turnovers (one a pick-six).

With the win, the first of the post-Christian McCaffrey era on the Farm, Stanford secured its second consecutive 10-win season and top-20 season, its fifth such season in six tries under David Shaw and its sixth double-digit, top-20 season in the last seven years dating back to the Jim Harbaugh era.

Stanford down a QB but leading North Carolina in Sun Bowl

Leave a comment

Without Christian McCaffrey and starting quarterback Keller Chryst going down to injury, No. 18 Stanford still holds a 13-7 lead over North Carolina halfway through the Sun Bowl.

North Carolina opened the scoring by moving 71 yards in 10 plays on its first possession, capped by a 19-yard strike from Mitch Trubisky to Ryan Switzer. After a three-and-out to open the game, Stanford answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive of its own, the final 49 yards coming on a pass from Chryst to McCaffrey-less starting running back Bryce Love.

The Cardinal forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and moved deep into North Carolina territory when Chryst was forced to leave the game after injuring his knee on an 8-yard scramble. Ryan Burns entered the game and led the Cardinal to a 44-yard Conrad Ukropina field goal, handing Stanford its first lead at the 14:13 mark of the second quarter.

North Carolina moved into Stanford territory on its next touch, but Dallas Lloyd stepped in front of a Trubisky passed and raced it 45 yards to the UNC 20-yard line. Ukropina, however, missed his 36-yard field goal three plays later.

Stanford’s defense continued its vice-grip hold on the UNC offense, though, forcing a four-and-out and a Trubisky fumble at his own 18. Ukropina converted this miscue into points, knocking in a 32-yard field goal with 32 seconds left before the break.

Burns hit 3-of-7 passes for 35 yards, while Chryst will finish with a line of 3-of-6 passing for 68 yards and a touchdown plus 14 rushing yards on two carries. Love has rushed 10 times for 37 yards with a 49-yard touchdown reception.

Trubisky started hot but finished 11-of-17 for 83 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble while rushing five times for 20 yards. T.J. Logan has also carried five times for 20 yards, but the Heels trail the rushing battle, 46-43.

North Carolina will receive to open the second half.

Baylor’s Shock Linwood latest to join parade of RBs skipping bowl games

Getty Images
10 Comments

Leonard Fournette begat Christian McCaffrey, and now the two of them have given permission for Baylor running back Shock Linwood to skip his bowl game, too.

Linwood made the announcement Tuesday that he join his team for the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.

There are differences between Fournette and McCaffrey’s decisions and Linwood’s. The first two are viewed as likely first-round picks. Linwood? Not exactly. Notice the “possible” in Waco Tribune-Herald writer John Werner’s tweet above.

Most importantly, Linwood is a senior that has fallen out of favor with the Bears’ coaching staff of late. Baylor’s leading rusher in 2014 and ’15, Linwood has ceded carries to sophomore Terence Williams down the stretch, totaling eight or fewer carries in three of his final four games.

On top of that, Baylor stumbled to a 6-6 finish, dipping from Fiesta, Cotton and Russell Athletic bowl appearances in Linwood’s first three seasons to the Cactus Bowl this season.

Still, it’s unlikely Linwood would opt out of his bowl game had Fournette and McCaffrey not done the same.

Linwood finishes his collegiate career with 699 carries for 4,166 yards and 79 touchdowns. A two-time All-Big 12 honoree, Linwood is Baylor’s all-time record holder in rushing yardage and touchdowns.

The remaining portion of Baylor’s roster will meet Boise State next Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Myles Garrett: I plan to practice and prepare to play in bowl game

Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images
4 Comments

Perhaps inspired or influenced by the recent news coming out of Stanford, Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett has announced through a brief statement he will indeed be planning to play in Texas A&M’s bowl game this bowl season.

“I plan to practice today and prepare to play in the bowl game with my teammates,” Garrett said in his brief statement released by Texas A&M on Monday.

Garrett is expected my many to be one of the top draft picks in the NFL Draft in the spring. The conversation about potential top or high draft picks sitting out of the bowl season ignited on Monday with news that Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey had decided to not play in the Sun Bowl for the Cardinal so he could focus on preparing for the rigors of the NFL Draft process. LSU running back Leonard Fournette had previously decided to sit out of the bowl season (LSU faces Louisville in the Citrus Bowl) and prepare for the NFL as well.

Unless Garrett has a change of heart in the next week and a half, he and the Aggies will face Kansas State of the Big 12 on Dec. 28 in the Texas Bowl in Houston.