THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: APRIL 4, 2019
SLIP SLIDING AWAY
Oh, if only the NFL had drafted back in February, a week before the combine in Indianapolis. Back then Florida defensive end Jachai Polite was a first round lock and there were some mock drafts that had him going among the first 10-12 players. Then came the combine when Polite showed up out of shape, running a 4.84 40 (Montez Sweat ran a 4.41 and Josh Allen ran 4.63) range. If that wasn’t bad enough, it seemed Polite blamed everybody except the man he sees in the mirror every morning for his poor numbers.
Sorry for the play on words here, but to put it politely, Jachai’s favorables sunk faster than Willie Taggart’s popularity among Florida State fans. Now, given what happened in Indy, you would think Polite would have spent the next month practically living with UF’s strength and conditioning staff so he could make amends at pro day. His attitude was certainly better, but he still wasn’t in the greatest of shape and his 40 time was again in the 4.8 range.
That brings us to the very inconvenient truth that Polite has almost certainly blown the kind of monster payday that you get when you’re drafted in the first round and he might have very well nosedived out of the second as well. ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay came out with a side-by-side, first two rounds mock draft on Wednesday and you had to search long and hard to find Polite’s name. Kiper had him going #63 – next to last in the second round – to the Kansas City Chiefs. You won’t find Polite’s name on either of McShay’s first two rounds. Second and third round money still beats what you get bagging groceries at Publix but it pales in comparison to the multi-year guaranteed deals you get in the first round. Polite has only himself to blame for a self-assault on his bank account even before he got paid.
And this is a shame because what we saw last fall was a talented kid who can put the fear of God in a left tackle whose quarterback is depending on him to protect the blindside. Despite the fact he drew constant double teams in the second half of the season, Polite finished 2018 with 11 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, 4 pass breakups, 3 quarterback hurries and 6 forced fumbles. Those numbers make scouts drool. A 4.84 at the combine makes them want to barf.
The NFL scouts have all seen the tape of Florida’s games so considering Polite put up spectacular numbers playing in the SEC he will get a number of private workouts between now and draft day. Perhaps he will show up with a good attitude and in good shape to deliver an eye-opening workout. Maybe that will convince the scouts that the real Jachai was bound, gagged and tossed in a dark closet while his Evil Twin Skippy Polite succeeded at driving down his draft stock in Indy and at Florida’s pro day.
SEC PLAYERS IN KIPER/MCSHAY’S 1-64
Kiper First Round: (3) New York Jets: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky; (4) Oakland: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama; (5) Tampa Bay: Devin White, ILB, LSU; (7) Jacksonville: JAWAAN TAYLOR, OT, FLORIDA; (8) Detroit: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State; (11) Cincinnati: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri; (12) Green Bay: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss; (18) Minnesota: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama; (22) Baltimore: Erik McCoy, C/G, Texas A&M; (24) Oakland: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama; (25) Philadelphia: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State; (27) Oakland: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia; (29) Kansas City: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU; (32) New England: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Kiper Second Round: (36) San Francisco: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss; (39) Tampa Bay: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State; (42) Cincinnati: Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama; (54) Houston: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama; (55) Houston: CHAUNCEY GARDNER-JOHNSON, S, FLORIDA; (61) Kansas City: Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State; (62) New Orleans: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia; (63) Kansas City: JACHAI POLITE, OLB/DE, FLORIDA; (64) New England: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
McShay First Round: (3) New York Jets: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky; (4) Oakland: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama; (5) Tampa Bay: Devin White, ILB, LSU; (7) Jacksonville: JAWAAN TAYLOR, OT, FLORIDA: (10) Denver: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri; (12) Green Bay: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss; (14) Atlanta: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State; (16) Carolina: Jonah Williams, OT/G, Alabama; (20) Pittsburgh: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU; (21) Seattle: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State; (25) Philadelphia: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia; (27) Oakland: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama; (29) Kansas City: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State; (32) New England: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
McShay Second Round: (33) Arizona: Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M; (34) Indianapolis: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss; (41) Denver: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina; (54) Houston: Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky; (58) Dallas: CHAUNCEY GARDNER-JOHNSON, S, FLORIDA; (60) Los Angeles Chargers: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn; (62) New Orleans: Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl and Virginia coach Tony Bennett learned the basics of their defensive philosophies from the same man – Tony’s dad Dick Bennett, who won 489 games in a coaching career that took him to Green Bay, Wisconsin and Washington State. Pearl said, “I would say Dick Bennett taught me, through clinics and tapes, a lot of how we try to guard even still to this day.”
Virginia, the only #1 seed still standing, has been established as a 5-1/2 point favorite over Auburn in Saturday’s NCAA semifinal.
About the only surprise when it came to naming Buzz Williams as the new coach at Texas A&M was why it took all the way until Wednesday to make the announcement. Buzz wanted the Aggies and the Aggies wanted Buzz. They could have named him the coach on Monday and offered a simple note that contract details would be following in a day or so. It was being discussed that the Aggies were offering a deal worth $3.5 million a year but there are whispers that the final agreed number is actually somewhere in the vicinity of $4 million.
Williams is hitting the ground running. He’s bringing Jamie McNeilly from his Virginia Tech staff to College Station and is hiring LSU interim and former North Texas HBC Tony Benford. Benford was on Williams’ first staff at Marquette.
Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone has declared for the NBA Draft. He has a few weeks to change his mind, which he might need to do since he’s not listed as a top 60 prospect on any of the most respected scouting lists. No word yet on the draft decision of two-time SEC Player of the Year and first team All-American Grant Williams, who is projected as a late first rounder.
LSU freshman Naz Reid will hire an agent and enter the NBA Draft. He’s projected last 10 picks of the first round to first 10 picks of the second. CollegeInsider.com named Reid to its Kyle Macy Freshman All-America team. No word yet on Emmitt Williams, Javonte Smart and Tremont Waters.
With Kelvin Sampson getting a new deal for 6 years worth $18 million at Houston and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard untouchable, the name Jeff Goodman says the Razorbacks are turning to is Nevada coach Eric Musselman. It makes sense that Musselman is ready to chek out of Nevada since he’s losing all five starters from a team that earned a #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With the head coaching search at Vandy continuing to drag on, freshman center Simisola Shittu has declared for the NFL Draft. It was reported two days ago that Vandy and Memphis Grizzlies assistant Jerry Stackhouse were in serious negotiations but there has been no news since then. If Vandy doesn’t hurry up and name a coach there will probably be more attrition.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
You can’t make this stuff up. Prior to the arrest for marijuana possession by Georgia linebackers Robert Beal and Brenton Cox, a maintenance worker and an RA were called because of reports of a clogged toilet in the dorm room. Beal and Cox were out at the time. When the maintenance guy and RA found marijuana they called the cops, who arrested Beal and Cox upon their return. Their dorm room number: 420.
Former Ole Miss O-lineman Tony Gray flirted with transferring to Florida but Wednesday announced his landing spot will be UCF. He’s asked for a waiver to make him eligible for 2019.
LSU’s emphasis on the offensive line this spring can be traced to its performance in the Tigers three losses in 2018 (Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M). In those three games, the LSU O-line gave up 16 sacks and 33 tackles for loss … Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Myles Brennan combined to complete 74% of their passes at Saturday’s scrimmage.
A lack of experience on the coaching staff had something to do with Alabama’s national championship hosing by Clemson. So Nick Saban replaced seven coaches who bring more experience to the table. “I think that the guys that we hired are good recruiters, but I do think in some cases we have more experience and I think knowledge and experience is always something that is really beneficial to teach players,” Saban said. “So, I’ve been pleased so far with the people that we have and the progress that we’ve been able to make and how the players have responded to the coaches.”
Jake Bentley, who has started 32 of the 33 games he’s played in at South Carolina is the unquestioned #1 quarterback, but there is a 3-way battle being waged of the backup between Dakereon Joyner, Jay Urich and early enrollee freshman Ryan Hilinski. Don’t expect Will Muschamp to name his clearcut #2 after Saturday’s spring game. “We would like to make a decision in [fall] training camp because it’s hard to rep three when you’re getting ready for a game,” Muschamp said
UT-San Antonio kicker Jared Sackett is transferring to Arkansas. Sackett connected on 19-22 field goals in 2018 after hitting 14-19 in 2017. He will sit the 2019 season and have two years eligibility remaining.
Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings praised the newfound maturity of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. “He’s starting to learn that he is the voice of this offense, the voice of this team and starting to communicate in a bigger way that’s going to help us this season,” Jennings said.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: The wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor … TCU canceled its spring football game due to injuries that have depleted the depth chart … Jack Tuttle, who transferred from Utah to Indiana, was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA … The Cuban Baseball Federation released 34 players age 17-25 who are now eligible to sign minor league contracts. The players will receive 100% of their signing bonuses but the Major League team that signs a Cuban will pay the CBF a release fee of 25% of the signing bonus … Attorney’s for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allege police violated US and Florida constitutions when they obtained search warrants that allowed them to secretly install video cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Kraft is charged with pay for sex at the spa … It looks like UCLA has narrowed its focus to TCU coach Jamie Dixon, which probably makes sense since he’s originally from Hollywood and has maintained close contacts to the Southern California AAU scene since his days as a Ben Howland assistant … San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich became the first NBA coach since 2012 to be ejected in the first two minutes of a game. Popovich lasted the first 1:03 of Wednesday night’s Spurs game with the Denver Nuggets before official Mark Ayotte teed him up twice and gave him the old heave-ho.