Could a defensive player be the first pick in the Draft?

Lisa Johnson
Senior Sports Reporter

By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303

If you’re a person that believes defenses win championships, then this 2019 NFL draft is right up your alley.

This is one of the most top-heavy defensive drafts I’ve seen in quite a while. With the exception of Kyler Murray, who declared 2 weeks ago for the draft, several NFL mocks had eight of the top ten picks being defensive players. Now, how this all really turns out is anyone’s guess, but… it’s interesting.

A lot can happen before we hear the commissioner declare that the Arizona Cardinal’s are on the clock, and you’ll be hearing a lot of names before then, so let’s just start with the two popular names being heard around the league.

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2019 NFL Combine: Kentucky isn’t just a “basketball school”

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

I’m one of those people who tends to put college athletic programs into buckets based on which sport they are really good at or known for. To me, Kentucky has always been a “Basketball School.” And for good reason, right?

However, this year’s NFL Scouting Combine has given me a new appreciation for what’s going on with their football program.

They finished last season with an impressive 10-3 record and have eight players participating in Combine activities, including a player who may be the top Edge Rusher in this year’s draft, Josh Allen.

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2019 NFL Combine: how do the defensive linemen measure up?

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

Day 4 of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine brings the defense to the forefront. Defensive Lineman, Edge Rushers and Linebackers took their turn at the 40-yard dash, bench press and other drills.

Many fans have been anticipating Nick Bosa‘s return to the field after suffering an injury last fall that ended his season at the Ohio State University. Kentucky’s Josh Allen has been the talk of draft pick trade rumors all week as teams discuss making moves up the board to get him. Were Montez Sweat‘s (Missouri) amazing numbers enough to propel him into the top ten?

Let’s take a look at these three positions and how the top prospects / performers graded out. It’s up to you to decide how these times / scores should be used in conjunction with film to decide which one works best for your team! Complete stats can be found HERE on the NFL website.

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2019 NFL Combine: QBs, WOs and TEs

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

Ok, so the first thing I learned at the NFL Combine is that they call Wide Receivers… Wide Outs. Frankly, I’m not sure why. They all SAY the words “wide receiver” when talking about them, but the official literature calls them “wide outs.”

The second thing I learned is that you have to be really (REALLY) quiet at the workouts in Lucas Oil Stadium. ZERO tolerance for noise, clapping, anything that might distract the players from having their best results. With over 6,000 fans in attendance, the stadium workers were kept pretty busy policing the crowd.

All-in-all, it was an amazing experience for me today to see first-hand what these young men were going through. While the TV gives you an up-close perspective, the sights and sounds of being in that stadium must be experienced in person.

Today it was all about Quarterbacks, Tight Ends, and Wide Outs. Let’s take a look at who the top performers were in each category.

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2019 NFL Combine: EDGE Rushers

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

This weekend, all eyes in the football world are on the NFL Combine taking place in Indianapolis.

300 College players were invited to participate in drills and get measured so that Top Executives, Coaching Staffs, Player Personnel Departments and Medical Personnel from all 32 NFL teams can evaluate them. These players are all hoping to make a good impression this weekend so that, along with their game film, will get them drafted into the NFL in April.

I spent some time this afternoon talking with a few of the defensive linemen that are here for the Combine and will be working out tomorrow.

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The 2019 Safety Dance

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior Sports Reporter

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

Safety is a position that has always had its superstars. Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Rodney Harrison, so many great athletes have played safety. When looking at this season’s free agent safeties, you can easily find one future Hall of Famer, with a possibility of a few more. These are impact players, and teams should be sending armored trucks full of cash to their houses, but there is a good chance that won’t happen.

I asked NFL columnist Mike Freeman what his thoughts on the market for safeties would be this year. He wasn’t optimistic. “It may be a while before we see a thriving safety market. I could be wrong but despite defenses dominating the Super Bowl, we’re still seeing teams devalue the position.”

He’s not alone. Many analysts and members of the media agree that the market will probably not be what many players hope it will be. Case in point, Eric Reid.

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Ja’Quan Gardner is Niner’s loss, Fleets gain

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

If you didn’t catch the Sunday AAF San Diego Fleet’s win over the San Antonio Commanders you missed out on a great game and the emergence of a shifty running back.

Ja’Quan Gardner stands at 5’-7” and around 191 pounds. He went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft after leading the D-IAA conference with 206 carries, 1322 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns at Humboldt State. He caught 20 passes for 212 yards and two TDs while returning two kickoffs for scores as a senior.

He was also a First Team All-GNAC honors and rushed 249 times for 1,300 yards and 18 TDs, while making 42 catches for 324 yards in 2016. Prior to that, Gardner led the Division II in rushing with 2,266 yards and 25 TDs on 337 carries as a sophomore. How did he not get drafted? Well, when you are in a draft that had running backs Saquan Barkley, Sony Michel, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice, and Nick Chubb, the odds are against you.

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NFL Suspensions: Are Owners Exempt?

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft became the talk of the football world last Friday. No, not for winning yet another Super Bowl. It was because his name came up as part of an investigation in Jupiter, Florida, that was targeting a human trafficking ring.

According to 15th Circuit State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Kraft was issued a summons yesterday, formally charging him with two counts of soliciting prostitution in a Florida spa.

While we wait to see what, if any, action the NFL will take against Mr. Kraft, I thought I would take a look at how the NFL hands out punishments to players, referees, team personnel and owners. And what I found has left me kind of disturbed.

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“Survey says, …” TWT: Let’s talk Combine

OTFB Reporter

By Liz Panucci // @PanucciLiz

If you love stats, then the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is for you. It’s all about pounds, inches, and speed. The 40-yard dash, in particular.

These faces are the up-and-coming stars of the NFL, maybe even your team. Each player has a story on how he got to be here for the ‘Biggest Interview of his Life’. Watch the interviews, scan your Twitter timeline and get to know these talented, confident, and maybe a little nervous, young men.

Lisa Johnson shares what’s abuzz as we head into the chaos of this event in her Get to know the Top 10 NFL Combine Prospects. Plus, our very own Kate Arhar is reporting live from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this weekend. Stay tuned daily @ourturffb for updates.

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Marlin Briscoe: The first African American quarterback

Marquita Quinones OTFB reporter

By Marquita Quinones // @LatinLove729

To look at the NFL today it’s hard to imagine it without the diversity it displays, but there was a time when there wasn’t. In honor of Black History Month, we will look at the changes the NFL has gone through as it pertains to African American players.

Let’s begin with a pioneer in his own right, Marlin Briscoe.

African Americans have been a part of the American Football evolution as far back as the 1920s with players like Fitz Pollard and Bobby Marshall leading the way. The position of quarterback had not been a position that was openly offered to African Americans, but in 1968 that all changed with Marlin Briscoe.

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