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2020 NFL Draft

NFL Draft to go on as Scheduled

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has notified teams that the 2020 NFL Draft will go forward as scheduled on April 23-25, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In a memo sent to teams Thursday night, Goodell said that the NFL Managment Council Executive Committee was “unanimous and unequivocal that the Draft should go forward as scheduled.”

Goodell went on to express that it is the league’s top priority that they now ensure the Draft is conducted on a fair, level playing field, considering the differing situations teams are dealing with as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Numerous general managers around the league expressed their concerns earlier this week regarding the league’s intent to hold the Draft as scheduled, citing differing circumstances for teams and an inability for them to properly scout and evaluate players with the current conditions surrounding the virus.

In a further attempt to address teams’ fear of a competitive imbalance, Goodell called for the closing of all league facilities in a memo to clubs Tuesday night.

The league announced last week that it cancelled all public Draft events in Las Vegas. The plan is for the Draft to still be televised, with the league saying they “exploring innovative options for how the process will be conducted.”

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2020 NFL Draft

Safety Options Abound for Steelers in Draft

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After a whirlwind week of free agency, it appears that the safety is becoming a far bigger need for the Steelers than anyone expected back in January.

The Steelers depth had always appeared to be sketchy, but it seemed likely a veteran free agent would be signed to shore up needs. Except, thus far, that has not happened. The Steelers retained Jordan Dangerfield and lost Sean Davis to free agency, leaving at least one spot in the secondary wide open heading into the draft.

The Steelers will almost certainly draft a safety, and they might go safety in the second round. It might even be possible that one of those very good safeties just so happens to fall down to the Steelers pick at 49.

There are players to take in each round that would at least be quality depth. We will only find out on draft day who the Steelers choose to pick, but here are SteelersNow’s top ten safeties in the 2020 NFL Draft.

10. Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame

Gilman is a lot of fun. His athleticism is lacking in some areas, especially his flexibility. Gilman is pretty tight-hipped and should not be playing as a deep safety in the NFL, but that is fine. He plays with his hair on fire and does a great job to read and react to routes and things going down in the box on the second level of the field.

Gilman will play as a box safety or dimebacker at the next level simply because of how good he is at avoiding traffic and playing downhill. He gives a team an impact run defender and tenacious player. Far more limited than a lot of players in this class, GIlman will have to be put into the right position to succeed. He lacks some ball skills, but still, Gilman is a solid chess piece.

9. Brandon Jones, Texas

Jones is another guy who will be a strong safety at the next level. His tackling is super reliable and he rarely misses on tape. He will not miss the chance to lay the boom down if he can and he can absolutely fly downhill too. Jones has impressive closing speed and is a great straight-line athlete. He does not have very smooth feet and will not flip his hips well, but he is physical and can man-up tight ends if needed. I like his instincts as well and he can make some plays undercutting routes. The issue is he is simply stuck in the box and that will depreciate his value.

8. Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

A Division II guy that masqueraded as a single-high on tape because he was the most athletic guy out there. but really is more of a safety and linebacker hybrid. Like both mentioned above him, Dugger is going to be stuck as a box safety at the next level. He is a guy who has incredible length and is quite fluid for his size, so he can fall back in a Cover 2 scheme if need be, but he is at his best when he is reading and reacting and flying downhill. His ball skills are natural with great leaping ability and ball tracking ability. Dugger tracks the ball and high points with ease and good hands. He will be able to man guys up if he can improve his hip discipline and hand usage. He is just an incredibly raw prospect and the issue is he is already 24. There is upside here, but he is not a can’t miss prospect by any means.

7. K’Von Wallace, Clemson

Wallace is a really good football player. He knows how to key in on runs based off the offensive lineman and reads possible route combinations right off the jump. Once he is sure of what he sees, he absolutely flies to make the play. For the most part, he is a pretty good tackler too. The difference with Wallace and the others mentioned, though, is that he can be moved all over the field. He can be trusted in the box, manning up receivers, and he can be a blitzer from the box, too. Wallace is a playmaker. and would have more interceptions if he did not have spotty hands. There is a lot he can and was asked to do at Clemson. Wallace is just a rock-solid player that adds a lot of value to his game. He’s very smooth and a high energy player out there.

6. Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois

For a guy ranked sixth at his position, Chinn is a fantastic player who should be a really good football at the next level. Chinn has very good athleticism and in a lot of ways is similar to Isaiah Simmons. He will not drop back into a single-high role at all, but Chinn can fly and make impressive plays down near the line. This dude is a firecracker and will lay the boom with ferocity. His instincts and football IQ is pretty raw in general, However, he is a great tackler and has extremely good ball skills. Chinn can be a deep safety in a Cover 2 scheme due to his range, fluid hips, and ball skills. He plays better down in the box as a downhill guy, however. That is likely where he will thrive as a playmaker in the NFL and a solid player.

5. Grant Delpit, LSU

Delpit did not have a great 2019 season. Marred with missed tackles and gaffes in man coverage, Delpit fell down the board swiftly due to showing all those warts. However, he gets more flak than he deserves from a lot of people. He is still an extremely athletic safety with high football IQ. On top of that, the guy is an absolute ballhawk in the middle of the field and deep. He works so well on that back end of the defense with his range, instincts, and fluidity. If he were a good tackler and could man those guys up, Delpit would be a slam dunk for the top safety. He can still be a dynamic safety who will make a big difference at the next level regardless, but he just is not a perfect safety. Make no mistake, the guy is a Top-50 player in the draft no questions asked.

4. Terrell Burgess, Utah

Burgess is a hybrid cross between a safety and nickel cornerback. As a third safety, he fits in so well. He is sticky in man coverage and has elite awareness in the deep half of the field. His zone coverage instincts are really impressive when you watch how he reads the quarterback. Burgess will fly downhill and has really good closing speed and burst. This is not just a head smart player, but an athletic one at that too. Give him a man coverage responsibility and Burgess delivers. He has great fluidity and discipline to just mirror guys. Burgess is a pretty sure tackler as well. The big question marks will be is can he translate his playmaker traits into ball production and will his lack of length hurt him more in the NFL than it did in college. Those will have to be questions he answers, but he is a solid prospect.

3. Ashtyn Davis, Cal

Davis is a legitimate track star athlete and as such, has really solid range. The guy plays at a million miles per hour and is walking missile on the football field. He has laid guys out with big, legal hits on the field. Add all that in with ball skills and Davis is a really fun prospect to watch play on tape. He was reading Justin Herbert like a book when they played and made numerous plays from that single-high alignment. Davis can also walk down and man guys up from the slot too. His instincts are rather good as well. He could be a more consistent form tackler, but with the upside he has to his game, that can be forgiven.

2. Xavier McKinney, Alabama

McKinney is a walking chess piece. He has played in the box, at slot cornerback, as a sub-package linebacker, and as a single-high safety as well. Nick Saban put all the chips onto this young man’s plate and gave him the whirl at it. Similar to Minkah Fitzpatrick, McKinney’s versatility is a massive asset. McKinney took up Saban’s task with flying colors and is one of the best communicators and instinctual safeties in the class. He is one of those guys that has a knack for finding the football. That counts for in the air, too, as McKinney as very good ball skills. The consistency in his tackling ability is great and he wraps up with ease. He can essentially do it all and be a solid player at the next level.

1. Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota

There is so much Winfield can do and he does it all well. His ability to man guys up, even at his smaller stature is really impressive. Winfield has great fluidity and balance in and out of transitions that allow him to stay in phase and blanket receivers. Add in the fact that he has great ball skills and even against bigger tight ends, Winfield is a guy who holds his own. His football IQ has improved dramatically and he recognizes things out of the corner of his eye and makes plays outside of the defensive structure. He can play the box or be a deep field safety, but Winfield is a ton of fun to watch. Winfield brings great value to the field and will be a very good safety in the NFL due to his skillset.

 

 

 

 

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2020 NFL Draft

Mic Drop: Sports Aren’t Everything

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It may be tough to believe, but sports aren’t everything and the world can go on without sports. Mike Asti says leagues simply had to react to the Coronavirus.

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2020 NFL Draft

Boise State OLB Curtis Weaver Ready-Made for Steelers’ Scheme

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INDIANAPOLIS — Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said on Tuesday that the 2020 NFL Draft class is especially deep amongst edge rushers.

While that could be true in general, it also seems to be specifically flush with edge rushers that fit into the mold of a Steelers 3-4 outside linebacker.

Traditionally, with most college teams using a 4-3 alignment, that’s meant taking a look at college defensive ends and trying to project them to be Steelers outside linebackers. But thanks to the proliferation of the spread offense, many college defenses have taken a different tactic.

Boise State is a team that uses a 3-3-5 alignment as a base defense, with bigger, stronger outside linebackers that are expected to help in the run game like in a 3-4.

Broncos junior Curtis Weaver, who checked into the combine at 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, and with 13.5 sacks in 2019, he certainly knows how to rush the passer, and he’s comfortable doing so from a stand-up position.

“I don’t think anyone has the athleticism, the bend like mine,” Weaver said.

He’s also just fine with dropping into pass coverage, which is something that most 4-3 defensive ends do only sparingly.

“I dropped half the time, like 55-45% in Boise” Weaver said. “I’m comfortable playing man and dropping. … I played two-point [stance] my whole life.”

The Steelers will have a formal interview with Weaver on Friday.

One of the boxes that Weaver doesn’t check when it comes to typical Steelers draft picks is that he plays for a Group of Five school. But that trend might be lessening. The Steelers drafted three such players in 2019: Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson, NIU linebacker Sutton Smith and Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III.

Plus, it’s not as if Boise State is a typical Group of Five program. The Broncos have won 10 or more games in four straight seasons and beat Florida State last year and Oregon in 2017.

“Coming from Boise State, that was our theme, back to the Kellen Moore days: going against Power Five schools as an underdog,” Weaver said. “I put my head down and work and I’ll earn my respect here.”

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