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  04/02/20 - CB *Noah IgbinogheneJr/2020, Auburn, 5-10, 198 (DS#8 CB) + More +

  The NFL Draft will be different this year thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. While the draft will go on as planned, beginning April 23 and running for three days, it won't be the once-anticipated extravagant show it was expected to be in Las Vegas this year. So, instead of gathering the draft's top prospects in a green room in Las Vegas later this month, thanks to the restrictions on the size of gatherings as a result of COVID-19, the NFL is inviting some of those highly sought-after hopefuls to attend the event virtually. Among the 50 or so players who will be joining the virtual green room is former Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, who announced his invitation on Twitter on Wednesday. "Extremely honored and blessed to be one of the 50 selected to 'virtually' attend the NFL Draft," Igbinoghene posted. Igbinoghene is projected as an early-round selection in the upcoming draft after forgoing his final year of eligibility to declare for the NFL, and some draft analysts believe the one-time receiver-turned-defensive back could hear his name heard before the end of the first round on April 23. - Birmingham News

(DS#8 CB) Jr/2020 CB *Noah IgbinogheneAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Now more than ever, overall body of work by a player will be evaluated more than an agility drill or 40-yard dash. Those five Hilltoppers have taken their own routes to train with similar position groups since the season ended with a 9-4 record and a bowl win on Dec. 30. Season production has helped guys in the past like current NFL Hilltoppers Forrest Lamp, Tyler Higbee, Jack Doyle and Taywan Taylor. Pro days and individual workouts suited George Fant the best. He was a four-year star for the Hilltopper basketball team and barely played at tight end in his fifth-year eligibility. But his athleticism and individual workouts earned him a spot with the Seattle Seahawks where he was at one point the starting left tackle. The Bowling Green native recently signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the New York Jets.

"It may play in our guys' favor," Helton said. "We'll see, but the dynamics have changed. Who knows what happens, whether it hurts or helps them. The NFL does a great job and nothing will come out of this where a guy got missed. Our guys are working hard and trying to put their best foot forward to get their shot." The wide receiver Jackson certainly likes his own tape from 2019. He led the team with 94 receptions for 1,133 yards. His 209 catches rank second all-time at WKU and 2,680 receiving yards are third in school history. "In a situation like this where you're not able to have a pro day in front of scouts and other things they can judge off of, you have to go off what is already out there," Jackson said in a phone interview with the Daily News. "I played a lot of years so I've played a lot of football and a bunch of different games against different opponents, so I feel comfortable with my tape. That's up for them to judge. I'm waiting for my opportunity to perform." - BG Daily News

(DS#84 WR) rSr/2020 WR Lucky JacksonWestern Kentucky
News Source: BG Daily News
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  04/02/20 - WR Jalen McCleskeyrSr/2020, Tulane, 5-10, 165 (DS#151 WR) + More +

  Jalen McCleskey's legs are churning so fast on the video that you almost think the footage is doctored. He's running 23 mph, the maximum speed this particular treadmill can go. For McCleskey, a Covington native who just completed his career at Tulane after transferring from Oklahoma State, speed is his ticket to the NFL. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, McCleskey won't get to showcase that speed at a pro day in front of NFL scouts. Tulane's pro day, like every other school's pro day, was canceled. So instead, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver will have to do the next best thing: get someone to record him doing the 40-yard dash and measure him all the other typical pro day tests. For McCleskey, that will happen Friday on the campus of Nicholls State, where he will be joined by defensive lineman and Tulane teammate Mike Hinton, as well as Nicholls quarterback Chase Fourcade.

"It's going to be different because usually the scouts get to come and see it in person," McCleskey said. "Pro day was going to be big for me, so people could see my numbers. Hopefully with the video it will be the same." McCleskey, the son of former New Orleans Saints defensive back J.J. McCleskey, has been preparing for this moment while he also finishes up work on his master's degree. He's had to alter some of his normal workout routines since pretty much everything is shut down. "It's been really crazy," McCleskey said. "I've still been working out, but we just had to find different places." - New Orleans Times Picayune

(DS#151 WR) rSr/2020 WR Jalen McCleskeyTulane
News Source: New Orleans Times Picayune
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  04/02/20 - FS Brandon JonesSr/2020, Texas, 5-11, 198 (DS#6 FS) + More +

  Texas was supposed to host a NFL job fair for its seniors on Wednesday. The Longhorns' annual pro timing day, which was scheduled for Wednesday, would have given players with professional aspirations a chance to work out in front of NFL scouts and representatives. But UT's pro day, along with similar senior showcases across the country, has been canceled and won't be rescheduled. Texas coach Tom Herman conceded recently that "it's really difficult to support those guys" with Austin's shelter-in-place order in effect. "The best thing we can do as coaches is pick up the phone and give as good of recommendations as we can," said Herman, who spoke with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Sunday.

Longhorns safety Brandon Jones, who started 35 career games, was among those who planned on working out for scouts on Wednesday. He'll instead spend the day in Frisco, where he's been getting workouts in on the football field at Plano West High School and at a friend's home gym. He had shoulder surgery in January and was unable to work out at the NFL scouting combine in February. He still isn't doing bench presses. High-pointing jumps during positional drills also may have been a problem on Wednesday. Jones was still looking forward to running the 40-yard dash and doing other agility tests for scouts, though. "There's people that are at a worse disadvantage than I am, if you think about the guys … that didn't have the opportunity to get invited to the combine. Their pro day was going to be their combine," Jones said. "It sucks, but it's something that we can't control. You kind of just have to play your cards how they are." - Austin American Statesman

(DS#6 FS) Sr/2020 FS Brandon JonesTexas
News Source: Austin American Statesman
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  04/02/20 - QB Justin FieldsJr/2022, Ohio State, 6-2, 223 (DS#2 QB) + More +

  Quarterbacks always rocket to the top of the NFL Draft, and Ohio State football's Justin Fields is already considered a contender for the No. 1 overall spot in 2021. Does he need a strong 2020 season to ensure that high first-round status? Does he need a 2020 season at all? Within reason, statistical production is less important than one might think for draft prospects. Fields already possess many of the attributes NFL scouts and general managers covet most. That won't change between now and whenever he walks on stage in Cleveland in April 2021.

Physically, the onetime baseball prospect has a prototypical quarterback's frame. If anything he seems even more solid than the 6-3, 228-pound roster listing would suggest. Fields is broad-shouldered and thick. He gets a lot of credit for playing with toughness, and while that's warranted, he also dishes it out as well as he takes it from some opposing defenders. The arm strength is legitimate, but not because NFL evaluators want to see Hail Mary bombs. Fields routinely impressed with his ability to hit tight sideline windows from the far hashes in 2019. He possesses a sophisticated array of throws in an offense where Ryan Day has incorporated pro elements and looks. - Cleveland Plain Dealer

(DS#2 QB) Jr/2022 QB Justin FieldsOhio State
News Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
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  04/02/20 - RB Trey SermonSr/2021, Ohio State, 6-0, 216 (DS#4 RB) + More +

  Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley expressed no bad feelings about Trey Sermon's decision to leave the Sooners as a grad transfer and eventually join Ohio State football. During a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday, Riley praised Sermon as a player and person. He said he understood why Sermon chose to pursue the transfer portal. "Trey did a tremendous job," Riley said according to The Athletic. "He was a great Sooner - really, really good teammate. "Loved the three years we had him. Hated it ended the way it did for him. The middle of last season, I know he was frustrated, and then obviously the injury was just a horrible way for it to end. Hate that it ended on a sour note for him because he did a great job here."

Sermon rushed for over 2,000 yards in his three seasons with the Sooners. About half of that total and 13 touchdowns came in Sermon's sophomore season. But he was already losing carries to Kennedy Brooks before suffering a season-ending knee injury last season. Sermon steps into a running back room at Ohio State that needed help after presumptive starter Master Teague suffered a spring-ending ankle injury. "The portal deal - listen, we get it," Riley said. "We've been the beneficiary of a lot of really good ones that have come in here and done well. You're going to lose some guys, too. I think Trey saw a situation competitively that he felt like there was going to be a better opportunity to play a little more somewhere else. I get it. I respect it. It's part of the world we live in. - Cleveland Plain Dealer

(DS#4 RB) Sr/2021 RB Trey SermonOhio State
News Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
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  04/02/20 - QB Mason FineSr/2020, North Texas, 5-10, 189 (DS#24 QB) + More +

  Fine will go down as one of the best players and best all-around guys to ever play for the Mean Green. He threw for 12,505 yards and 93 touchdowns in his career. Both totals are program records, as is his career passing efficiency rating of 140.68. If it was all about talent and character in the NFL draft, Fine would be a no-brainer selection. Unfortunately for Fine, size also comes into play. Fine never would have ended up at UNT if he wasn't undersized. He showed he could excel at the college level at his listed size of 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds at UNT. It looks like the tape measure may have finally caught up with Fine at the Shrine Game and sunk his draft hopes. Fine measured in at 5-9 and 189 pounds. His hands measured at under nine-inches. Those figures will make it highly unlikely that a team takes a chance on drafting Fine. He wasn't invited to the scouting combine, and UNT's pro day was wiped out by the spread of COVID-19, which didn't help matters. - Denton Record

(DS#24 QB) Sr/2020 QB Mason FineNorth Texas
News Source: Denton Record
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  04/02/20 - OG Jaylen MillerrSr/2021, Tulane, 6-2, 310 (DS#999 OG) + More +

  The Tulane offense lost one of its starting tackles from this past season to graduation. But another tackle is on the way. Jaylen Miller, a 6-foot-3, 315 pound tackle who just completed his redshirt season at Duke, announced on Instagram he is transferring to Tulane. "God will take you through journeys, ups and downs, just for you to fulfill His purpose," Miller said in the social media post. "I'm thankful and grateful for everybody who supported me and believed in me throughout my life and my collegiate career. With that being said, I am beyond excited to start my new journey at Tulane University. I am looking forward to grinding, sacrificing, and winning with my new family. Let's get it."

Miller entered the NCAA's transfer portal in January. Miller started three games for the Blue Devils in 2018 before suffering a broken ankle that required surgery and ended his season. The injury cost him to miss spring practice in 2019. He played in nine games this past season as a backup. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Miller was rated a 3-star recruit coming out of Providence High School. - New Orleans Times Picayune

(DS#999 OG) rSr/2021 OG Jaylen MillerTulane
News Source: New Orleans Times Picayune
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  04/02/20 - WR Tyler JohnsonSr/2020, Minnesota, 6-1, 206 (DS#28 WR) + More +

  Tyler Johnson made a strategic decision to postpone running the 40-yard dash for NFL teams at the combine and instead wait for the Gophers' pro day scheduled for March 25. The COVID-19 pandemic scuttled those plans, forcing teams to evaluate Johnson almost strictly on how he performed in games. What a novel concept. Draft previews knock Johnson's top-end speed. Auburn's defense probably doesn't share that opinion after Johnson torched them repeatedly in the Outback Bowl. Sometimes, the NFL pre-draft buildup becomes mind-numbing because every single aspect of a prospect gets picked apart. Information is vital in decisionmaking, of course, but the degree to which players get judged (and dinged) by their measurements often feels like a case of missing the forest for the trees. Will more draft mistakes happen because teams aren't able to gain extra insight into prospects? Seems likely, especially if there are medical questions. But teams also might avoid falling in love with a player by overvaluing his measurables. Or vice versa. - Minneapolis Star Tribune

(DS#28 WR) Sr/2020 WR Tyler JohnsonMinnesota
News Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
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  04/02/20 - OG Ben BredesonSr/2020, Michigan, 6-5, 315 (DS#4 OG) + More +

  Ben Bredeson, a four-year starter and strong, steady hand at Michigan, was a perfect fit to stay home. A four-star prospect from Hartland, Wis., some 60 miles from Madison, Bredeson admittedly grew up a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers. His favorite player to watch was Joe Thomas, the Badger-turned-NFL offensive tackle who earned 10 Pro Bowl invites. But when push came to shove, Bredeson, recruited as an offensive tackle, and a very good one at that, chose to play for Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines in June 2015. "Michigan was just the right spot for me," Bredeson said in February at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"I grew up a Badger fan, grew up loving it - love the O-line tradition that they had - and I grew up watching them. "But at the end of the day, Michigan was the right spot for me. I loved the place and had the time of my life there. It was the best four years of my life." "I obviously played that all four years in college, and it just seemed to click from the get-go," Bredeson said. "Just been working the last year/year-and-a-half to broaden that and get some interior positions down. "I feel comfortable at any interior three, but I obviously played the most snaps at left guard. I'm comfortable there." - Ann Arbor News

(DS#4 OG) Sr/2020 OG Ben BredesonMichigan
News Source: Ann Arbor News
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  04/02/20 - OLB Jabril CoxrSr/2021, LSU, 6-2, 233 (DS#10 OLB) + More +

  Former North Dakota State linebacker and two-time FCS All-American Jabril Cox has committed to transfer to LSU. Cox, who made the announcement on his Twitter page on Thursday, is a graduate transfer and will be immediately eligible to play. -

(DS#10 OLB) rSr/2021 OLB Jabril CoxLSU
News Source: ESPN
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  Alcorn State University 2018 SWAC Player of the Year Noah Johnson will transfer to the University of South Florida to further his football career. After suffering a season-ending injury in 2019, Johnson received a hardship waiver so that he is eligible for a sixth year in football. He will be leaving Alcorn as a graduate transfer which automatically makes him eligible to play in the 2020 season instead of having to sit out for a year. - Vicksburg News

(DS#999 QB) rSr/2021 QB Noah JohnsonSouth Florida
News Source: Vicksburg News
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  04/02/20 - WR Nick WestbrookrSr/2020, Indiana, 6-3, 211 (DS#81 WR) + More +

  Former Indiana football players Nick Westbrook and Reakwon Jones have scoured through their home state of Florida, looking for gyms that are open or fields to work out on. Westbrook and Jones were supposed to audition in front of NFL scouts at IU football Pro Day on Tuesday, but the event, like so many others, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Neither Westbrook, a dependable IU receiver who finished his career with 2,226 receiving yards and 16 TDs, nor Jones, a 6-foot-2, 233-pound linebacker who had 100 career tackles for the Hoosiers, were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Both are fringe draft prospects who have a slim chance of being drafted in the later rounds. A Pro Day could have helped either Westbrook or Jones raise their respective stock. Last year at IU Pro Day, offensive lineman Wes Martin, who wasn't a Combine invite, wowed NFL scouts by bench pressing 225 pounds 38 times. That catapulted Martin to a fourth-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins.

"I had a lot to prove and felt like I could prove it at the Pro Day, and I really could have benefitted from it," Westbrook said. "But, you know, you have to roll with what's happening because this is unprecedented times for sure." Like many players throughout the country, Westbrook has been creative in finding ways to get on the radar of teams. After taking part in the East-West Shrine game in front of NFL scouts in January, Westbrook worked out in Seattle, which turned out to be the early epicenter of the virus outbreak. He left the workout facility in Seattle on March 15 to return to his native Florida but not before putting together a simulated Pro Day video to send to NFL teams. "It wasn't ideal because I was still in full training mode, wasn't able to cut back the way I would want to before Pro Day and get my body right," Westbrook said. "But just recorded all of the different drills that I needed to do, and then my agent got all the different clips and compiled them all together and sent them out to all the teams. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a professional videographer to put it together, but you know with my circumstances, I just had to kind of make the best of what I had." - Herald Bulletin

(DS#81 WR) rSr/2020 WR Nick WestbrookIndiana
News Source: Herald Bulletin
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  04/02/20 - QB Joe BurrowrSr/2020, LSU, 6-4, 221 (DS#1 QB) + More +

  For months Joe Burrow to the Bengals at the top of the NFL draft has been one of the few things set in stone, even as a coronavirus pandemic undid the best laid plans for a Las Vegas event. But the asset-rich Miami Dolphins remain intent on chipping away at a bit of that, according to report from xxx of the Miami Herald. "The Dolphins, as you have read in this space, will make an attempt at that opportunity at some point," writes Dolphins columnist Armando Salguero, who initially reported the team's interest earlier in the month. "It ... could be in vain because the Cincinnati Bengals are said to highly value the No. 1 pick."

There's been no indication the Bengals, in Burrow's home state of Ohio and in dire need of a quarterback, would move the pick, but if any team could get them to the table, it'd be the Bengals. The Dolphins own three first-round picks, Nos. 5, 18 and 26, and two second-round picks among their nine total picks in top four rounds of the 2020 draft. They also own an extra first- and second-round picks in the 2021 draft, all of which could be worked into a monster deal to move up those four spots to No. 1. The Bengals own all seven of their original picks, but no additional ones in either of those drafts. If Cincinnati did move that pick, it'd join a select number of teams that have done so. The most recent such trade came in 2016 when the then-St. Louis Rams moved up from No. 15 to No. 1 to draft quarterback Jared Goff. - Baton Rouge Advocate

(DS#1 QB) rSr/2020 QB Joe BurrowLSU
News Source: Baton Rouge Advocate
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  04/01/20 - OT Evin KsiezarczykrSr/2020, Buffalo, 6-6, 316 (DS#29 OT) + More +

  As an NFL hopeful at the University at Buffalo, Evin Ksiezarczyk had a daily routine of training at the football weight room next to UB Stadium. That routine ended March 16 when he learned the football weight room was closed as part of a shutdown by the school due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Ksiezarczyk, an offensive lineman from West Seneca East who played at UB from 2015 to 2019, immediately made plans to find a local gym and a trainer in lieu of using UB's facilities and working with its athletic personnel. But later in the day, many of the gyms and training facilities in Western New York had also closed per orders from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. That left Ksiezarczyk without a place to prepare for a future in professional football.

"I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do," Ksiezarczyk told The News last week. "I did not expect any of this to happen." Scouts have told The News that Ksiezarczyk could be a late-round draft pick, or could sign as an undrafted free agent and compete for a spot on an NFL roster in training camp. But even after he participated in UB's pro day March 11 at the Murchie Family Fieldhouse, many NFL hopefuls like Ksiezarczyk, who aren't slam-dunk first-, second-or third-round prospects in the draft are trying to figure out how to negotiate preparation for the NFL. "It was good to have our pro day early," Ksiezarczyk said. "If not, it probably would have been canceled." - Buffalo News

(DS#29 OT) rSr/2020 OT Evin KsiezarczykBuffalo
News Source: Buffalo News
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