Jadeveon Clowney

LSU’s Leonard Fournette the latest to spark debate over NFL Draft rules

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Get ready for another round of silly debates over what LSU running back Leonard Fournette should do with his football future. Fournette was already a well-known player to those who follow college football recruiting and have been actively watching LSU football, but this past weekend has seen him enter the national spotlight as more of a household name. Fournette’s smashing performance against Auburn, in which he showed superior physical strength and veteran-like awareness and patience to maximize the result of each play has catapulting him to the top of the Heisman charts and NFL folks are paying close attention. Unfortunately, the NFL will not be able to welcome Fournette to the professional ranks due to NFL rules preventing him from joining the league until 2017 at the earliest.

The New York Times published a story on the NFL rules and Fournette on Sunday, citing a guide from the NFL for college football coaches.

“The majority of underclassmen are not physically or mentally prepared to enter the [NFL],” the league states in a guide for college head coaches. “Most would benefit significantly from another year of college football.”

Fournette has suggested players may be physically ready to make the jump, but the mental fortitude is not always ready for that kind of change. It does not matter how physically gifted and crafted you may be if you do not have the mental maturity to handle the responsibilities that come with playing in the NFL.

Most would, of course, but sometimes there could possibly be an exception to that rule. Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett once tried to challenge the NFL rules feeling he was ready for the next level after just one year in Columbus. Fournette may be much more physically prepared than Clarett was at the time, but even he is not likely ready to jump right into the rigors of the NFL just yet. And recent history might suggest coming back for another year is probably best to get more of a sample of what any one player is capable of doing. Just last January NFL types were calling for Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones to leave the Buckeyes and enter the NFL Draft after three career starts (although an incredibly impressive three career starts). Jones returned to the Buckeyes this season and has now been pulled from the starting job just three games into the season.

It was just within the last couple of years national media types were seriously debating whether or not South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should sit out the regular season and focus on training for the NFL Draft. Clowney, of course, played what would be his final season at South Carolina and went on to be a top draft pick of the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft. Do not be surprised if some fall into the trap of suggesting Fournette should consider sitting out the 2016 season so he can focus on the draft. The arguments that will be made may actually carry a little more weight than the arguments for Clowney. Running backs have a short life span in the NFL, and coming back from various types of injuries can be far more inhibiting than at other positions, like defensive end.

Jameis Winston expected to end ACC’s No. 1 overall draft pick drought

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If Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the first draft entrant to hear his name called tonight by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he will be the second ACC player since 2000 to be named the number one overall draft pick. That would bring an end to the longest stretch among power conferences between top overall draft picks. Winston is widely considered to be the top choice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who own the first pick in this evening’s NFL Draft.

Calling it a drought may be a tad harsh, but every power conference has had at least one number one overall pick since the last time the ACC had N.C. State’s Mario Williams be drafted with the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Since then the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and even the MAC have had a top pick. Assuming Winston goes first overall, the new longest stretch between top picks will be handed to the Big Ten. Michigan’s Jake Long was the most recent top pick from the conference in 2008.

No conference has had more top overall draft picks than — surprise, surprise — the SEC. The SEC has had five players drafted with the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft. Last year it was South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.

Whether it is Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, the history suggests the odds are good one of the quarterbacks will be the first pick. Since 2000, a quarterback has been the top pick in 10 NFL Drafts. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was the most recent in 2012.

Top Overall NFL Draft Picks Since 2000

2000 – DE Courtney Brown, Penn State (Big Ten)

2001 – QB Michael Vick, Virginia Tech (Big East)

2002 – QB David Carr, Fresno State (WAC)

2003 – QB Carson Palmer, USC (Pac-10)

2004 – QB Eli Manning, Ole Miss (SEC)

2005 – QB Alex Smith, Utah (Mountain West Conference)

2006 – DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State (ACC)

2007 – QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU (SEC)

2008 – OT Jake Long, Michigan (Big Ten)

2009 – QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia (SEC)

2010 – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (Big 12)

2011 – QB Cam Newton, Auburn (SEC)

2012 – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Pac-12)

2013 – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (MAC)

2014 – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (SEC)

2015 – ?

Report: Jameis Winston’s insurance policy valued at $8-$10 million

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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is quite the prized commodity heading into the 2014 college football season. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner led the Seminoles to the ACC and BCS national championship in 2013 and now his stock continues to rise as a potential first round NFL Draft pick, whenever he decides the time is right to turn pro. Knowing what is at stake with his potential professional career, Winston has taken out a significant insurance policy valued between $8 and $10 million, according to a report by Yahoo Sports.

According to the report by Yahoo Sports, the value of the insurance policy was estimated base don a projection of Winston being a top 10 NFL Draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Winston’s father has stated before Winston intends to play football at Florida State for two more years, which would send the quarterback to the NFL in 2016, but it is always best to be prepared for every scenario on the table. If Winston were to enter the 2015 draft, he would cash in on the insurance policy if he fell out of the first round as a result of an injury or illness.

The report also cites information from industry sources that suggest the premium for an insurance policy of this magnitude can cost anywhere between $55,000 and $60,000. These types of policies are allowed by the NCAA

It is not at all out of the ordinary for a returning superstar at the collegiate level to take out an insurance policy of this magnitude. Last year it was reported South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney took out a $5 million insurance policy prior to the 2013 season. Clowney ended up going number one overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Blackledge: SEC players are more NFL ready than others

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The SEC sent 49 players through the 2014 NFL Draft, more than any other conference. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft and some of the other biggest stories followed during the three-day draft event centered around SEC players. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel was the big story of the first round as the Cleveland Browns made a move to draft the former Heisman Trophy winner. Focus shifted to the falling of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, as well as LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Then Missouri’s Michael Sam was the headliner with the St. Louis Rams drafting Sam in a historic moment for the NFL.

Yes, the SEC was everywhere you looked during the most recent NFL Draft. This was nothing new of course. Not that you really need another voice telling you just how good the talent coming out of the SEC is when it comes to the NFL Draft, but ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge reiterated the point recently at a fundraiser at Samford.

“SEC players, for the most part, are more NFL ready than a lot of players coming from other parts of the country,” Blackledge said, according to a report by AL.com.

“The Draft has been the great indicator here the last several years of where the most talent is in college football,” Blackledge said. “That’s why, up until last year when Florida State won, that the SEC has dominated the national championship picture as well.”

Three SEC schools (Alabama, LSU and Georgia) have sent at least 20 players through the NFL Draft over the last four years. Florida has sent 18 players and South Carolina has sent 17 players to the draft. The numbers speak volumes of the ability to recruit and develop talent ready to enter the NFL.

Ranking the new college football match-ups of 2014

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According to the fine folks at FBSchedules.com, there will be six brand new college football match-ups debuting on the gridiron this fall. One of those will be a conference match-up and another will come as part of a conference scheduling agreement, while the other four are good, old-fashioned cross-regional games making for an attractive non-conference tilt. So, if you had to give them a power ranking, which would be the crème de la crème?

Here is my personal take, but feel free to rank these match-ups yourself in the comments below.

1. Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech (September 6)

Virginia Tech may not be quite the ACC power they once were, but the Hokies should be capable of giving Ohio State more than a good early test in non-conference play. The Buckeyes should be one of the favorites in the Big Ten and the boost from playing a solid Virginia Tech team could be a nice little boost in strength of schedule in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

2. Alabama vs. West Virginia (August 30, Chick-fil-A Kickoff)

Alabama returns to Atlanta, a city it has become very familiar with over the last few years. The Crimson Tide look to reload and establish a powerful presence against a West Virginia team looking to get the offense firing on all cylinders once again. Nick Saban vs. Dana Holgorsen is quite the contrast in coaching styles, and Saban’s Tide are looking to avoid losing a third straight game for the first time in a long time.

3. Notre Dame vs. Louisville (November 22)

Part of the ACC scheduling agreement with Notre Dame happens to land first-year member Louisville in South Bend in November. The Cardinals are a team that could get better as the season plays out in a year of transition, while Notre Dame could be looking to finish the season on a strong upswing. This one may not carry much influence in the playoff picture, but rankings could be at stake.

4. South Carolina vs. Texas A&M (August 28)

The lone conference match-up in this list will help kick off the entire college football season with a Thursday night game at South Carolina. It is a shame this game will not feature Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney, but Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks could get off to a strong start against a rebuilding Texas A&M team and take an early lead in the SEC East as a result.

5. Ole Miss vs. Boise State (August 28, Chick-fil-A Kickoff)

Boise State returns to Atlanta looking for another victory over an SEC team in the season opener. A couple of years ago it was Georgia, but now it is an Ole Miss team that appears to be moving upward in the world of college football. If the Rebels are going to be a legitimate force, a strong showing against a Boise State team under new leadership is certainly not a bad way to go.

6. Virginia vs. UCLA (August 30)

Last year Virginia was embarrassed at home by Oregon. This year another Pac-12 and potential playoff contender visits Charlottesville with UCLA coming across country to start the new season. This could quickly turn into a showcase for Brett Hundley and Myles Jack if Virginia does not come up with anything worth showing.