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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Football

Dak Prescott has motivational message for Kyler Murray ahead of draft

Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott knows plenty about analysts and fans questioning whether or not his game will translate to the NFL level, and the Dallas Cowboys star feels that helps him relate to Kyler Murray. Heading into the draft next week, Prescott appears to be keeping a close eye on the Heisman Trophy winner’s future.

On Sunday, the Oklahoma football team shared a video that featured a motivational message from Prescott to Murray.

While the concerns about Murray’s size and style of play are similar to the ones we heard about Prescott coming out of Mississippi State, Murray has a good chance to be the top overall pick in the draft. Prescott hung around until the fourth round, and he has turned out to be a tremendous value pick for Dallas. That is not going to happen with Murray.

It would be hard for the No. 1 pick in the draft to play the underdog card. Though there have been at least some concerns about him tumbling down draft boards, Murray is going to have a lot different feel surrounding him on Thursday than Prescott had around him back in 2016.

NFL teams reportedly ‘dismayed’ with lack of WR talent in draft

Many NFL teams have placed a greater emphasis on drafting wide receivers early now that the league has become so pass-heavy in recent years, but that approach may temporarily change with this year’s draft.

An NFL front office source told Ben Volin of The Boston Globe that teams are “dismayed” with the wide receiver prospects in this year’s class, and the early part of the draft is expected to be dominated by defensive players. The 2017 NFL Draft tied the record for most defensive players drafted in the first round with 19, but that number could get into the 20s this year. A lack of talent at the receiver position is a big reason for that.

There is still some uncertainty over who the top wide receiver taken will be. Most analysts predict it will be former Ole Miss standout DK Metcalf, who has arguably the most impressive physical makeup of any player in the draft. However, Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown is also seeing his stock rise as he shows no ill effects from the foot surgery he underwent earlier in the offseason. Metcalf and Brown could end up being the only two receivers taken in the first round.

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Giants GM seemingly takes shot at Odell Beckham over ‘culture problem’

Odell Beckham

Dave Gettleman has not been the most popular man in New York since he took over as the general manager of the Giants last year, but he is standing by the controversial moves he has made while trying to rebuild the team. In particular, he clearly feels he had no choice but to trade Odell Beckham Jr.

In an interview with Steve Politi of NJ.com, Gettleman spoke about how “teams win championships” and all players need to be on board with the organization’s philosophy. He added that his critics are missing the point of why he made certain trades this offseason.

“There’s more to it that just collecting talent.” Gettleman said. “There is a cultural thing to it that’s critical. I have not been on a team that’s gone to a Super Bowl that’s had a culture problem.”

Politi followed up by asking Gettleman if he had a culture problem in New York.

“Not any more,” the GM said.

It’s hard to view that as anything other than a shot at Beckham. While the Giants also made some other big moves like trading star pass-rusher Olivier Vernon, Beckham is a polarizing figure who was openly critical of Eli Manning and the Giants’ coaching staff. Ownership essentially told him to shut up and play last year, and there have been numerous reports that Beckham became a headache in New York.

After he was traded to the Cleveland Browns, Beckham mocked the idea that he became a cancer with the Giants. Time will tell if the move works out, but Gettleman continues to preach patience. As long as ownership is willing to grant him that, it doesn’t really matter what the fans think of his approach.

Revisiting the infamous Ricky Williams draft-day trade

Ricky Williams

Twenty years ago, the New Orleans Saints traded away their entire collection of draft picks, plus a first-round and third-round pick the following year, to get Ricky Williams. It’s widely hailed as one of the worst trades in NFL history. No doubt, it was one of the most notorious trades, made far more notable by all the pomp and circumstance around it. Mike Ditka wearing dreadlocks, the wedding gown photo, Williams having a rapper as his agent, and the fact that a team gave away everything for a running back add to its legend.

I am going to look back at the trade, and re-examine some of those thoughts. I am not going to defend the thought process that led to the trade. I am going to point out, however, that if it was one of the worst trades in NFL history, the Saints themselves were far from the biggest losers in the whole sordid mess.

For those that don’t remember, this trade did not just happen out of nowhere. Mike Ditka, not exactly the best poker player out there, wasn’t exactly keeping his desires for Ricky Williams secret. The Saints had been trying to trade up with the Browns and anyone else who would listen, as represented by this Sandusky Register article from April 13, 1999.

Leland Hardy, Williams’ agent, declared him to be “the Holy Grail of this draft,” and Mike Ditka compared him to Walter Payton “without as many moves, but with more power.” Ditka and the Saints desperately tried to move up all week, without success. Then, the Colts took Edgerrin James instead of Ricky Williams with the fourth overall pick, in a move that surprised many at the time, and things opened back up. Washington was willing to move down at number 5, and Williams was still there. Ditka attributed the stars aligning to the power of prayer, in a powerful case of “be careful what you ask for.”

But there is one problem with the narrative that this is one of the worst trades ever. Ricky Williams was actually better and more valuable than the collective group of eight players selected with the picks the Saints gave up. Yes, the rationale, decision-making, and negotiation skills were lacking. But you can find plenty of trades where that is the case and the end results were also disastrous. Ricky Williams, though, was a pretty good football player, and still had plenty of value three years later when the Saints traded him to the Dolphins for a package that included two first round picks in return.

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Four most likely spots for first-round NFL draft trades

Jon Gruden

Over the last eight drafts, teams have made 41 draft-day trades in the first round to move up–not including the pre-draft blockbusters like the Eagles trading up in March for Carson Wentz or Washington trading a haul of picks to be in position to take Robert Griffin III. That means that about five times each draft, you will see a trade roll in during the first round.

After going through the mock draft and seeing where value lines up with team needs, here are the pressure points where you could see those trades in 2019.

Picks 7, 8, and 9

Jacksonville, Detroit, and Buffalo are not taking a quarterback in the first round. A majority of the teams that immediately follow those picks, though, could consider it, with Denver (10), Cincinnati (11), Miami (13) and Washington (15) being candidates. We do not know what the Giants will do in the sixth slot. Dave Gettleman could select a quarterback, or take the player that one of the teams selecting right after covet. You could definitely see someone try to leap in front of Denver and the tenth slot here to get the quarterback they want. Last year, the first two draft day trades were Buffalo trading up from 12 to 7 to take Josh Allen, and Arizona trading from 15 to 10 to get Josh Rosen.

Picks 12-15

Green Bay’s needs more perfectly line up with getting multiple picks later in the first round to address playmakers on offense, and defensive secondary. I will point out that Green Bay with pick 12 and pick 75 matches up almost perfectly with Oakland at picks 24 and 27 in terms of the traditional draft value chart points. If Oakland wants to make a big move back up into the first round to get a quarterback, this is the entry spot where they could do it. Green Bay, meanwhile, could be in the right range to add Noah Fant, either Marquise or A.J. Brown, and still get a defensive player with picks 24, 27, and 30.

Even past Green Bay, the next three spots are also in play for teams wanting to maneuver. The Dolphins are in multi-year rebuild mode, and without a premium top five pick may want to accumulate picks. Atlanta likely has a couple of defensive targets they are hoping to get, but could trade back if they are gone. Washington could get outmaneuvered for a quarterback, and be willing to move back a few spots.

Meanwhile, those same slots could be key points for teams wanting to nab some defensive linemen or offensive tackles. Carolina at 16 is highly likely to go with either an offensive tackle or pass rusher. The Giants could do the same. The Vikings at 18 are almost certainly hoping to address offensive linemen. Houston, all the way down at 23, may decide they cannot wait on an offensive tackle, and package their first round pick with one of their second round picks, for example, to get to the 14 or 15 slot.

Picks 21 to 23

Seattle, Baltimore, and Houston were all playoff teams a year ago, and they can afford to take some chances and trade back if necessary here. They have several needs that could be addressed by accumulating picks. Houston may want to trade up for an offensive tackle, but if they do not, there is a decent chance the board develops in such a way that it makes sense to just trade back to the end of first round or early second round, still get another tackle, and add picks. Baltimore could target a center, but they would almost certainly be the first team to do so, and could also afford to move back a few slots. Seattle may want to address safety, but that’s another position where trading down makes sense.

Meanwhile, the top cornerbacks could still be out there, and the last of the pass rushers for a team willing to jump. In addition, someone could make a move here to get in front of Oakland’s two remaining first-round picks.

Picks 28 to 32

The end of the first round is always ripe territory for a trade. The Chargers, Chiefs, Patriots, and Rams are all able to make moves back and still get a player that can help them 5-10 picks later. Somebody may want to jump up for a quarterback, just like Baltimore did a year ago, to get that fifth-year option on a contract. Running backs have been frequent targets here (Mark Ingram and Doug Martin were both drafted after their teams traded up to get back in the first round), and Josh Jacobs could go off the board if someone pulls a trade. A tight end like Noah Fant could slip to a spot where someone wants to get in front of the Patriots, and some good wide receivers could be available.

Jimmy Garoppolo got private tutoring with Mike Shanahan while injured

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo got a pretty good quarterback tutor after his season was ended by a knee injury. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was busy with the game-to-game preparation of the season while Garoppolo rehabbed and recovered, so he enlisted the help of someone he knew could work with Garoppolo: his father, Mike Shanahan.

Garoppolo talked to NBC Sports Bay Area about that experience. After he was physically recovered enough, he began working with the elder Shanahan in December.

“Literally, everything,” Garoppolo said, via NBC Bay Area. “We watched our offense, our defense, other teams, teams that played two years ago that he thought a clip could help me. It’s applicable in different ways. He’s so smart that it was incredible to have that experience and I thank him a lot for that.”

Kyle Shanahan, meanwhile, said it was good for both parties because it allowed his dad to talk football amidst the holiday festivities and family times.

Garoppolo is very much entering a pivotal year in his career. He got the big contract last year. But between being injured in New England, getting traded mid-season in 2017, and getting hurt early in 2018, he has not gotten many game reps. We’ve seen how productive Kyle Shanahan’s offense can be for quarterbacks as Nick Mullens put up pretty good numbers last season. If Garoppolo is still able to mature by working with one the game’s best at developing quarterbacks, even during a lost injury year, he could be in for big things next season.

Seahawks reportedly seeking first-round pick in Frank Clark trade

Frank Clark

The Seattle Seahawks are open to trading Frank Clark, though their price for a deal is reportedly high.

Seattle is seeking a first-round pick in return for Clark, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Seahawks franchise-tagged Clark this offseason and would owe him around $17.1 million if he were to sign the tender. He has stayed away from the team in hopes of receiving a contract extension. However, due to the money Seattle just gave to Russell Wilson, they may want to try and shed Clark’s potential salary.

Several teams have expressed interest in a Clark trade. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets have been mentioned as potential trade partners.

Clark, 25, had 13 sacks last season. He has 32 sacks over the last three seasons.