Jags officially sign number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, the team announced on Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a four-year, $36.8 million contract that includes $24.1 million in guaranteed money and the standard fifth-year option.

The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the first overall pick of the 2021 draft. Lawrence, 21, played in 40 games with 36 starts at Clemson from 2018-20. His 34-2 (.944)  record as a starter is the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback with at least 30 career starts in college football history since 1978. He finished his career undefeated as a starter in regular season play and did not lose a regular season game at either the high school or collegiate levels. Lawrence led the Tigers to a national championship as a true freshman in 2018.

For his career, Lawrence completed 758-of-1138 passes (66.6 percent) for 10,098 yards, 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He holds several school records, including career winning percentage.

Eagles’ Gainwell: ‘I’m a rare breed’

For Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell, getting drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of this year’s draft does a few things for him. It allows him an opportunity to fulfill his dream of playing football and a chance to play with his cousin, Eagles DT Fletcher Cox.

Like Cox, Gainwell is from Yazoo City, Mississippi. According to Gainwell, the people of Yazoo City are happy to see Gainwell and Cox together in Philly.

The city is very excited about me and Fletcher(Cox),” Gainwell said on Saturday. “Man, they just excited about us. They’re excited that we play ball, and now we are playing with each other on the same team, so they are going to be even more excited.”

Gainwell opted out last season due to COVID concerns. In 2019, he put up monster numbers for Memphis, including running for 1459 yards with 13 touchdowns on the ground, and he caught 51 passes for 610 yards with three receiving touchdowns. 

According to Gainwell, he spent a lot of time in the gym during his time away from football. 

“I basically just started training,” he said. “So basically, the next week after I opted out, I started training, and I’ve been working out ever since. It’s been basically six months for me working out straight, non-stop. I’ve just been putting in the work, staying down, staying healthy throughout this process.

While Gainwell wanted and some expected him to be picked higher in the draft, he’s happy to be in Philly.

Yeah, I was surprised,” he said about going later in the draft. “But I’m happy now; I’m happy y’all got me. I’m happy I’m with the Eagles. That really don’t matter. It’s time to work. It’s time to put in the work. Getting drafted first, getting drafted at the fifth, it don’t really matter about all that. I am ready to ball for the Eagles.”

Gainwell does not lack for confidence, and when asked who does he compare himself to in the NFL, he had this to say:

“I’m a rare breed,” he said. “I’m a different one.”

Gainwell has a lot of versatility. As the numbers show, he can do things on the ground and in the passing game.  With his skill set, he should add depth to the Eagles’ running back room in 2021.

Giants’ Gettleman thought deal with Bears ‘too good an opportunity’ to pass up

The Giants waited until they were on the clock Thursday night before executing their most significant draft day trade since they acquired Eli Manning 17 years ago.

They sent their selection at No. 11 in the first round to the Chicago Bears for a package of four picks, including two in the current draft (No. 20 in the first round and No. 164 in the fifth), plus first and fourth-round choices in the 2022 draft. The Giants selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Chicago moved up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

“Obviously, it was too good an opportunity (to pass up),” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So, we made it. We did it. We added a one and a four next year. Another pick for this year and another pick for next year. We were very pleased we were able to make the play.”

The key component of the trade for the Giants was the Bears’ first-rounder next year.

“It was very important to get the first-round pick next year,” Gettleman said. “As I told you guys (reporters) at my pre-draft presser, there’s a lot of unknowns here with this group (of players in this draft) and plus a lot of kids went back and took advantage of the NCAA giving them an additional year of eligibility. That obviously played into our thinking.”

The trade also enabled the Giants to recoup the fifth-round choice (No. 154) they sent the Jets in 2019 to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams. It gives them seven choices in the seven-round draft; one in each of the first five rounds and two in the sixth. They received an extra selection in that round from Arizona in a trade for linebacker Markus Golden. The Giants do not have a seventh-round selection after sending it last year to Denver for cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

For the first time in the eight NFL drafts he has run – five with Carolina and three with the Giants – Gettleman executed a trade to move back…not just in the first round, but in any round.

Gettleman initiated the trade by reaching out to Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.

“What happened was we had called around and … I had spoken to Ryan Pace, and I had heard he was interested in moving up,” Gettleman said. “So, I called him. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘Yes, we’re very interested.’ And then the conversations begin.

“I spoke to Ryan today before the draft and I spoke to him again. He called me again somewhere around the seventh pick, somewhere in there, and then we got on the clock and from there, (assistant general manager) Kevin Abrams took over and finished off the trade.”

It is widely thought the Giants were interested in Alabama wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and cornerbacks Jayce Horn of South Carolina and Patrick Surtain of Alabama. All were selected in the first 10 picks.

Although it was a surprise each of the four players were taken so early, the Giants are always ready for the unexpected in the draft.

“We had really talked this through, me, Joe (Judge), Chris Mara, Tim McDonnell, Kevin Abrams and Mark Koncz, we had all discussed thoroughly, really looked at our board,” Gettleman said of the team’s personnel experts. “We had a lengthy meeting on Monday and we followed it up with another meeting on Wednesday and so we really – we knew what we wanted. We knew where we wanted to go, and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back and that’s where you get the other piece of it where we’re calling teams behind us.

“And then we met again at 6 o’clock tonight to just constantly review and talk it through and it was a great group effort and we all felt very – we all felt very together on the decision. And we made it.”

It was the Giants’ first such move in the opening round since general manager Ernie Accorsi traded with Pittsburgh 15 years ago. The Giants moved from No. 25 to the 32nd and final choice in the round and added third (No. 96) and fourth-round (No. 129) picks. The Steelers took wide Santonio Holmes and the Giants selected Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka to close out the first round. With the later round choices they received from Pittsburgh, the Giants selected linebacker Gerris Wilkinson and offensive lineman Guy Whimper.

Of course, Accorsi executed the franchise-changing trade for Manning on April 24, 2004. After the San Diego Chargers selected him first overall, Manning was traded to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers (whom the Giants had taken with the fourth pick), the Giants’ 2004 third-round pick, and 2005 first and fifth-round selections.

Via: Michael Eisen/giants.com

Lawrence on going to Jacksonville : ‘I think it’s a great fit’

When the Jacksonville Jaguars secured the number one over pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there was no doubt that former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence would be their guy, and on Thursday night in Cleveland, it became official. The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the number one overall pick. 

Jacksonville has been searching for a franchise quarterback, and now it appears they have found one in Lawrence. 

 “I couldn’t be more excited; I think it’s a great fit,” Lawrence said via a video conference. “This is going to be a really fun year, and just know that once I get there, all my focus, all my attention is to making us the best we can be, so thank you, guys.”

Lawrence, who never lost a regular-season game and won a national title at Clemson, is also excited to get working with Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who also hopes to have a successful transition from college to the NFL. 

“First of all, with Coach Meyer, I got a great feel from just talking to him on the phone, and obviously, I’m excited to get down there and be in person with the guys and coaches and all that,” Lawrence said. “The biggest thing is that he’s a winner; you’ve seen he’s done that his whole career, so I’m really excited to be a part of that.”

At this point, it appears Lawrence could be the starter for Jacksonville in Week 1. When asked if he expects to be the Week 1 starter, Lawrence said the following:

“My mindset always going in is that I’m going to earn everything that I get, so coming in, I don’t have any expectations from anyone else other than myself,’ he said. “I expect to perform well and to adjust quickly, and be ready to go, and that’s something I expect a lot out of myself, so that’s where I’m at mentally. From there, like I said, it’s just about earning – I think the biggest thing is – the respect and trust of your teammates. Without that, it doesn’t really matter what you expect going in; you’ve got to earn that first. I’m just going to take it step by step, but like I said, I’m going to do everything in my power to prepare, to be the best I can be, and put us in the best chance to win.”

There is hope in Jacksonville with Lawrence in the mix, and if he’s who many think he could be, the Jaguars should have success like they never had before for years to come.

Eagles’ Watkins: ‘DeSean(Jackson) has really been one of my role models as a receiver’

Speed kills, and the lack of speed at wide receiver killed the Philadelphia Eagles last season, especially when DeSean Jackson went down with injury in Week 2, but after the NFL draft, that may have changed, especially with the addition of WR Quez Watkins.

The Eagles selected Southern Mississippi’s Watkins in the sixth round on Saturday. The 22-year-old Watkins is fast and ran a 4.35 40 at the combine. Watkins was a two-time All-Conference USA first-team wide receiver, and in 2019, he caught 64 passes for 1178 yards and six touchdowns.

Now, Watkins gets to play with another speed guy in Jackson, who Watkins feels he could learn a lot from this season. 

Oh, man. DeSean(Jackson) has really been one of my role models as a receiver as a speed guy, kind of a similar body style,” Watkins said. “Really just ready to start learning and getting a lot of stuff, getting a lot of knowledge from him.

In addition to Watkins, the Eagles grabbed two other wide receivers in the draft with speed in Jalen Reagor and John Hightower, and they added another speed guy in WR Marquise Goodwin from the 49ers in a trade. According to Watkins, all that speed is going to make for some interesting practices.

“The practices are going to be, I feel like, up-tempo, and you’re going to see a lot of guys just flying around,” Watkins said. “A lot of 4.3 guys really flying around. A lot speed, a lot of playmakers,” 

Due to injury, wide receiver was a sore spot for the Eagles last season, and if these young players can contribute right away, and DeSean Jackson can stay healthy, the wide receiver position could become a strength for Philadelphia in 2020. 

 

Jaguars sign 18 undrafted free agents

The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with 18 undrafted free agents, the club announced today.

NAME

POS.

HT.

WT.

SCHOOL

Luq Barcoo

CB

6-1

175

San Diego State

Doug Costin

DT

6-2

295

Miami (Ohio)

Nathan Cottrell

RB

5-11

193

Georgia Tech

Ben Ellefson

TE

6-3

250

North Dakota State

Nate Evans

LB

6-1

241

Central Florida

Tavien Feaster

RB

5-11

221

South Carolina

Josh Hammond

WR

6-0

194

Florida

Amari Henderson

CB

6-1

180

Wake Forest

Ross Matiscik

LS

6-0

235

Baylor

Steven Nielson

OL

6-8

307

Eastern Michigan

Austen Pleasants

OL

6-7

328

Ohio

J.R. Reed

S

6-1

202

Georgia

James Robinson

RB

5-9

219

Illinois State

Marvelle Ross

WR

5-9

180

Notre Dame College

Connor Slomka

FB

6-0

240

Army

Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms

OL

6-5

330

Missouri

Kobe Williams

CB

5-10

174

Arizona State

Brandon Wright

K

5-10

182

Georgia State

To make room on the roster, the Jaguars released K Jon Brown, LB Austin Calitro, OL Donnell Greene, WR Charone Peake and WR/CB Jayson Stanley.

The Jaguars now have 90 players on their roster.

Bucs’ Arians on Winfield Jr.: ‘He’s part ‘Honey Badger’ (Tyrann Mathieu). and he’s part Budda Baker’

Safety Antoine WInfield Jr. comes from good stock. His father, CB Antoine Winfield Sr., was a three-time Pro Bowler during his 14 seasons in the NFL, and now his son will have the opportunity to carry on his name. 

Winfield Jr., who was selected in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was a 2019 unanimous first-team All-American, first-team All-Big Ten, and Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year at Minnesota.

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, Winfield is a mix of Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker, two players that Arians coached in Arizona. 

“Yeah again, he’s an extremely bright football player that’s got great bloodlines,” Arians said about Winfield Jr. “He is so position flexible – half-field, deep-field, middle-field, nickel, dime, linebacker – he’s got so many positions he can play. We love to mix it up with our safeties when they’re interchangeable. He’s part’ Honey Badger’ (Tyrann Mathieu), and he’s part Budda Baker – he’s that style of player that we can use in a different type of role along with our other safeties, who are interchangeable.”

Tampa Bay needed to upgrade the back end of their defense, and Winfield definitely has playmaking ability. The 21-year-old Winfield, who had two years left of eligibility, recorded 83 tackles, seven interceptions, and two forced fumbles last season at Minnesota. You could question his height 5’9, but Winfield Jr. is fearless, has good genes, and will probably continue to makes plays in the NFL.

2020 NFL Draft most watched ever; sets new all-time highs for media consumption

The unique presentation of the 2020 NFL Draft established new all-time highs for media consumption in every category. With over 600 camera feeds from homes across the United States, all telecasts of the 2020 NFL Draft reached more than 55 million total viewers across Nielsen-measured channels over the three-day event, up +16% vs. 2019. An average audience of over 8.4 million viewers watched all three days of the 2020 NFL Draft across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and digital channels easily breaking the previous high of 6.2 million viewers in 2019 (+35%).

Each day of the 2020 NFL Draft established new highs as an average audience of over 15.6 million viewers watched Round 1 on Thursday (+37% vs. 2019), over 8.2 million viewers watched Rounds 2 & 3 on Friday (+40% vs. 2019), and over 4.2 million viewers watched Rounds 4-7 on Saturday (+32% vs. 2019).

All seven rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft were presented across ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network – the second straight year that The Walt Disney Company partnered with the National Football League to offer a multi-network presentation of the entire Draft.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts and collaboration of our clubs, league personnel, and our partners to conduct an efficient Draft and share an unforgettable experience with millions of fans during these uncertain times,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “This Draft is the latest chapter in the NFL’s storied history of lifting the spirit of America and unifying people. In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of so many talented young men, we were pleased that this unique Draft helped shine a light on today’s true heroes – the healthcare workers, first responders, and countless others on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. We are also grateful to all those who contributed to the NFL family’s fundraising efforts.”

“This year’s NFL Draft clearly took on a much greater meaning and it’s especially gratifying for ESPN to have played a role in presenting this unique event to a record number of NFL fans while supporting the league’s efforts to give back,” said ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. “The success of this year’s Draft is a testament to the unprecedented collaboration across the NFL, ESPN, and The Walt Disney Co. in the midst of such a challenging time.”

Top-10 metered markets across all networks included (rating in parenthesis): Columbus, Ohio (8.8), Cleveland (8.7), Philadelphia (8.6), Kansas City (8.5), Cincinnati (8.5), Atlanta (8.2), Jacksonville (8.1), Nashville (8.0), Milwaukee (7.8), and Denver/Baltimore (7.0).

With over 600 camera feeds in the homes of everyone from the Commissioner, more than 85 Draft prospects, 32 NFL Head Coaches, 32 NFL General Managers, Fans, College Football Coaches and many others, the 2020 NFL Draft offered unprecedented access to deliver the best possible experience for fans. To pull off this broadcast feat, the NFL utilized technology from partners such as AWS (Hosting/managing video feeds), Verizon (Provided Verizon phones and connectivity for remote locations), Microsoft (Microsoft Teams assisted with all League to Club and Club to League communication for all Draft selections), and Bose (Provided best-in-class headphones for superior audio for all Draft participants).

In addition to the telecast of the 2020 NFL Draft, an average of over 5.4 million daily viewers watched in excess of 46.7 million total minutes of “Draft-A-Thon LIVE,” a massive fundraising campaign aimed at raising much-needed funds for COVID-19 relief efforts. Draft-A-Thon LIVE was presented all three days of the 2020 NFL Draft and available through NFL digital properties across devices (phone, PC, tablet and connected TVs) as well as a number of digital platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, Reddit, TuneIn, Yahoo! Sports and more than 100 news websites via SendtoNews. Celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Blake Shelton, Jeff Daniels, DJ Khaled, Ninja, and Carli Lloyd joined dozens of current NFL players and Legends and other stars to participate in Draft-A-Thon LIVE.

In addition to raising funds, Draft-A-Thon LIVE paid tribute to healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19. To date, the NFL family has raised more than $100 million in COVID-19 relief.

Funds raised during Draft-A-Thon will help support six national nonprofit organizations and their respective COVID-19 relief efforts. Fans can continue to donate at NFL.com/Relief.

At NFL.com/auction fans can bid on autographed NFL items and exclusive packages to support COVID-19 relief as well. The NFL does not retain any profits from the sale of these items or experiences. Charitable contributions are donated to the NFL’s nonprofit partners.

Viewership metrics reflect Nielsen Fast Nationals, Nielsen Fast Total Audience Estimates, and NFL/ESPN/ABC digital measurement.

Bills’ GM on Fromm: ‘I just felt like he was too good to value to pass up’

Not many people expected Georgia QB Jake Fromm to be available in the 5th round of the NFL draft, including the Buffalo Bills, but he was there, and the Bills made a move.

Buffalo selected Fromm with 167th overall pick in the draft on Saturday. Fromm, who skipped his senior season at Georgia to enter the NFL draft, threw for 2860 yards with 24 touchdown passes in only five interceptions last season.

According to Bills GM Brandon Beane, Fromm was not on his radar entering Saturday.

“I wouldn’t have told you going into today that he was on our radar, but we had him in a spot that you just can’t ignore, and we gave him his due,” Bills GM Brandon Beane said via a conference call on Saturday. “This guy, he’s a winner at the highest level of college. You look at all the guys that come out of the SEC…this guy came in. He’s got all the intangibles. He’s smart. When I went down to that school to watch him practice, at that point, they didn’t know if he would come out. They said he loves being the guy at Georgia, and he loves just being there. They said this guy would be there 11, 12 at night with the coaches walking out the door at the same times the offensive coaches are. Just a guy who loves everything about the game, the full process, the preparation, and that matters.

“Listen, if he had a big-time cannon arm, or he was 6-5, those types of things, he would have gone day one. He’s got all the other things. Fair question, I’ll go ahead and jump to it. He’ll have to earn a spot here, but just too good to pass up. He’ll come in; obviously, Josh [Allen] is our starter. Matt [Barkley] has been an excellent backup for us. I don’t know if he’ll be able to knock Matt off. We’ll see about that. But we could definitely go with two quarterbacks, we could go with three quarterbacks. Davis Webb has not got a real chance to show us what he can do. He’s still in the mix right now. Again, anytime you can add a good football player…. quarterbacks a premium position. I just felt like he was too good to value to pass up.”

The Bills do have Matt Barkley under contract for the 2020 season, but it seems logical, if Fromm is ready, that he could assume that backup spot to Josh Allen in the near future for the Bills. 

Eagles’ Taylor discusses how his faith prevented him from playing football until college

  Friday nights are a big day for high school football. Stadiums around the country are filled with fans supporting their local high school football teams, but for Eagles LB Davion Taylor, who Philadelphia selected in the third round of this year’s draft, Friday was a day of rest.

Taylor, who is a Seventh-Day Adventist, which is a Christian denomination, could not play football because Adventists believe that Friday at sundown is the beginning of the Sabbath. Therefore, Adventists usually stay in the house on Friday night and go to church on Saturday. While football was being played on Friday night, Taylor had to stay home.

“Actually, I couldn’t go to the games, so I had to be at the house in my bed most of the time,” Taylor said via a conference call on Friday. “I didn’t like that. Like, of course, it hurt me not being able to be on the field and everything, but the way I supported them was like I probably just before the game before I’d go home, I would probably take some water bottles up, like clean up the field, make sure everything was straight before they step out on the field. And also when I was home, sometimes I’d probably — I lived probably two or three minutes away from the school, so I’d probably open my window, probably open the back door so I could just hear the PA or hear the crowd like if something is going on, I’d be like, all right, we just scored, or like if something bad happened I’d be like — I’d also have people at the game texting me updates and everything, like we just got scored on, we wish you was here and everything. It hurt me like.”

Once he was old enough, Taylor was able to decide how he was going to handle football.

“So, the deal was once I turned 18 it was my decision,” he said. “I didn’t really just want to abandon my religion, so once I tried out for my community college, I actually prayed one night and everything. I was like, if it’s meant for me to make a team, let me make this team, let me make this team. If it’s not, don’t let me make this team. So, when I made the team I felt like it was just God’s sign that he was on my side this whole time, so I accepted that part, and I was like, I’m still going to have a religion, and when I come home I’m going to go to church on Saturdays and everything. But I wanted just to continue to practice my religion while I was at it, and that’s what I did.”

After community college, Taylor transferred to Colorado, and from there, he was able to start 22 games in two seasons for Colorado, which ultimately led to an NFL Combine invite, and led to Taylor being selected by the Eagles.

The 21-year-old Taylor still has a lot to learn on the football field, but has a lot of raw talent and has decent speed as he ran a 4.49 40 at the combine, and he ran a 4.39 40 at his pro day. With his size (6-2, 230) and speed, Taylor could stay at linebacker or possibly play safety on the next level.