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Top 15 Big 10 Prospectsby Ben Natan on August 11, 2020 at 7:15 pm
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports With the Big 10 Season all but canceled, these 15 names will be at the top of most draft rankings. Today, Big 10 Leadership decided against having a college football season. This was far from unexpected and now dozens, if not hundreds of football players, will likely turn their attention to the 2021 NFL Draft. Despite ideas like a spring football season being floated, there will likely be little for draft prospects to do to “elevate” their draft stock between now and the draft. So unless there is a combine and an All-Star Circuit in 2021, draft rankings will be “fixed” most likely for players who cannot play. For the Big 10, here are the top fifteen prospects coming out of the conference. 15. Baron Browning, Linebacker, Ohio State: Browning was used in a limited role in 2019, but still consistently flashed as one of the more athletic players on the field. The 6’3”, 240 pound defender is a high upside player with big play ability against the run and as a blitzer. 14. Nico Collins, Wide Receiver, Michigan: The Michigan offense isn’t exactly a wide receiver’s dream, but Nico Collins still managed to lead the Big 10 in yards per catch in 2019. The 6’4” receiver is a power forward on the football field, using size and physicality to bully cornerbacks for big plays. 13. Kwity Paye, Defensive Lineman, Michigan: Kwity Paye’s upside has already draw attention this summer and people will keep talking about him in the coming months. Paye is a highly athletic defender who makes up for “tweener” size with great speed and a high motor. 12. Trey Sermon, Running Back, Ohio State: Between crowded backfield’s and injuries, Trey Sermon never got a chance to truly shine at Oklahoma. Sermon was poised for a huge senior season at Ohio State before *gestures around* all this happened. Sermon is a versatile offensive player with good size and athleticism. 11. Paddy Fisher, Linebacker, Northwestern: Paddy Fisher has been a mainstay on the Northwestern defense for the last three years. Fisher is a physical, instinctive defender who crashes downhill to defend the run. Fisher has gotten knocked for coverage skills, but he is more solid there than given credit for. 10. Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State: In his first year starting, Chris Olave was Ohio State’s top playmaker in the passing game. Not only does Olave has easy speed, but he is extremely advanced as a receiver when it comes to route running and attacking zone coverage. In 2019, Olave turned 25% of his catches into touchdowns. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports 9. Rashawn Slater, Offensive Lineman, Northwestern: Coming into 2019, Slater was a valuable lineman for Northwestern, contributing at guard and right tackle. When he moved to left tackle for last season, he turned into one of the best blockers in the country. Son of an NBA player, Slater’s a great athlete who excelled in pass blocking. That, coupled with his versatility, will make him of high intrigue for NFL teams. 8. Wyatt Davis, Offensive Guard, Ohio State: In his first year starting, Wyatt Davis was one of college football’s elite interior blockers. Davis has a combination of size, speed and strength to make any offensive line coach see red and any defensive lineman see dirt. If 2019 is any indicator, Davis has star written all over him. 7. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State: Penn State did not throw the football much in 2019. Only 217 of Penn State’s 367 pass attempts were completed. Yet, Pat Freiermuth caught 43 of those completions (about 20%) and scored seven of Penn State’s 25 receiving touchdowns (28%). Freiermuth was as advanced and dangerous as a sophomore tight end could be in the Nittany Lions offense. He is not only a great athlete at the position, but is a gifted blocker and has rare pro-readiness for a young player at tight end. 6. Alaric Jackson, Offensive Tackle, Iowa: Tristian Wirfs held the spotlight in 2019, but it was Alaric Jackson who was holding it down at left tackle for most of the season. The 6’6”, 320 pound senior is a quick, strong blocker who plays with a chip on his shoulder. 5. Rondale Moore, Wide Receiver, Purdue: There are few players in the country who are more exciting to watch than Rondale Moore. Moore set the Big 10 on fire as a freshman when he scored 14 times from scrimmage and was dangerous any time he touched the ball. Moore’s sophomore season was cut short by injury, but Moore’s skill set as an all-around playmaker is obvious. Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images 4. Rashod Bateman, Wide Receiver, Minnesota: Even before the Big 10 canceled the season, Bateman was one of the first big name prospects to opt out of the season. The 6’2”, 200 pound receiver was a big play threat for Minnesota last year. His size, physicality and excellent route running made him dangerous at every level of the field. Bateman is not outstanding in terms of pure athleticism, but he more than makes up for it with his technical prowess and on-field demeanor. 3. Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Penn State: It’s been a while since Penn State sent a star linebacker to the NFL. Micah Parsons is set to change that. After two incredible seasons, Parsons entered 2020 as one of the most hyped linebacker prospects in a long time. While he may not get another chance to showcase his skills in college, he has more than shown he deserves high draft consideration. The 6’3”, 245 pound defender is a phenomenal run defender and blitzer, with capability to cover tight ends, running backs and even slot receivers. Parsons is another player who opted out early, but even when he did, everyone knew he will hear his name called very early next spring. 2. Shaun Wade, Cornerback, Ohio State: Despite playing next to Jeff Okudah in 2019, Shaun Wade was still considered one of the best cornerbacks in the country. In fact, he probably would have gone in the first round in 2020 if he declared for the draft. Wade is a unique prospect in that he did a lot of his damage out of the slot for Ohio State. He is versatile and athletic, a technically sound cover cornerback and a reliable tackler. Wade is not flashy and doesn’t create a lot of big plays, but he is an extremely solid and well rounded defender who can anchor a secondary. 1. Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State: In his first year starting, Justin Fields put up video game numbers for the Buckeyes. 41 passing touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns and only three interceptions… There is a reason Fields was a Heisman finalist. Despite lack of experience, Fields was excellent as a passer. He showcased great decision making, accuracy, touch at all levels of the field. He has a good NFL level arm, no doubt. His athleticism makes him extremely difficult to defend not only as a pure runner, but as a passer too. He does a great job moving in and outside of the pocket to manipulate passing defenses. In any other class, Fields would almost be the surefire first overall pick.
Miles Sanders says he’s fine after putting a scare into Eagles fansby Brandon Lee Gowton on August 11, 2020 at 5:52 pm
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports Everyone can relax. Miles Sanders sent Philadelphia Eagles fans into a tizzy on Tuesday afternoon with the push of the send button on the following tweet: Can’t catch a break— Miles Sanders (@BoobieMilesXXIV) August 11, 2020 GASP! What’s wrong?! Season-ending injury? Nope. The second-year running back says he’s doing just fine. Keep calm y’all lol I’m ready for the season— Miles Sanders (@BoobieMilesXXIV) August 11, 2020 Sanders says he didn’t realize his original tweet would cause so much concern. I ain’t think that they would trip like that— Miles Sanders (@BoobieMilesXXIV) August 11, 2020 Well, Miles, this is Philly. Football’s kind of a big deal here. Eagles fans would be devastated if anything happened to you given your importance to the team’s success. With that said, I do think people could afford to chill out a little bit. We don’t always need to assume the worst when an athlete shares some kind of vague message on social media. It could end up being rather innocuous, as it was in this case. Players do have lives outside of their NFL careers, you know. In any case, it’s good to see that there’s nothing wrong with Sanders.
Eagles 2020 Opponent Preview: Seattle Seahawksby Brandon Lee Gowton on August 11, 2020 at 4:09 pm
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Previewing Philadelphia’s schedule. Bleeding Green Nation’s 2020 Philadelphia Eagles opponent preview series continues today with their Week 12 enemy: the Seattle Seahawks. (Previously: Week 11 preview.) The Eagles’ wild card loss to the Seahawks in January was just the latest entry in Seattle having Philadelphia’s number. The Eagles are 1-8 in nine games against their bird brethren dating back to that awful 42-0 loss at Lincoln Financial Field in December 2005. The one win came 12 years ago when Seneca Wallace was starting for Seattle. The Seahawks’ current starting quarterback is slightly better than Wallace. In five starts against the Eagles, Russell Wilson has a perfect 5-0 record while completing 59% of his attempts for 1,287 yards (8.4 yards per attempt), eight touchdowns, one interception, and an 100.8 passer rating. He’s also logged 158 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in addition to notching a 15-yard reception for one receiving touchdown. Wilson clearly does not struggle to reach the end zone against Philly. Wilson’s numbers might honestly be even better if Seattle’s offensive philosophy wasn’t so antiquated. The Seahawks are stubbornly committed to running the ball, which has sparked the “Let Russ Cook” movement among Seattle fans. I thought John P. Gilbert put it succinctly: “The Seahawks have one of the greatest QBs in the known universe. And yet, were 29th in the NFL in first half pass attempts per game.” The Eagles (and NFL at large) can only hope the Seahawks don’t free up Wilson to pass more. Even if they don’t make changes, though, the Eagles will still have their hands full trying to defend a player that often feels so unguardable. Having Darius Slay to prevent D.K. Metcalf from going off could help. The interior defensive trio of Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Malik Jackson will be critical to disrupting Wilson and preventing him from stepping up in the pocket. As has always been the case, limiting Wilson will prove to be easier said than done. Pete Carroll’s defense also deserves credit for Seattle’s success against the Eagles. Look at Doug Pederson’s scoring outputs against the Seahawks since 2016: 15, 10, 9, and 9. Scoring 10.75 points per game obviously isn’t gonna cut it. Not to mention 14 of those 43 total points came in obvious garbage time. Pederson is hardly the only member of the Eagles to blame. Carson Wentz hasn’t had his best games against the Seahawks and that needs to change. He might’ve played well in this year’s playoff matchup but Jadeveon Clowney’s cheap-shot to the back of his head prevented us from seeing that happen. The Seahawks could potentially re-sign Clowney but he’s currently a free agent. Seattle’s defense might not be what it used to be in the Legion of Boom days but the Jamal Adams acquisition could help them recapture some of that magic. The first-team All-Pro safety is a playmaker that the Eagles will have to account for. Overall, the Seahawks appear pretty tough on paper. They’re never out of a game with Wilson. It’s hard for me to pick the Eagles to beat them until I actually see it happen once.
BGN Quarantine Watch Party Poll: Help us decide what Eagles game to watch next!by shamus_clancy on August 11, 2020 at 3:00 pm
No. 5 will always love you! In the past two weeks of watch parties, we’ve celebrated both Terrell Owens’ short, but nonetheless spectacular, career in Philly and the low-key juggernaut that was the 2001 Eagles team. I’m going to continue on with the themed watch party polls this week, taking a look at three of the greatest performances Donovan McNabb ever had as an Eagle. The watch party will commence on Friday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. EST. As a reminder: The website we used to watch old games on YouTube is called Watch2Gether, where we can all do a live-running text thread discussing the game as the video plays. While there are a ton of old Birds games available to watch on YouTube, a lot of them are copyright-protected, meaning that we won’t be able to view them through Watch2Gether. While Carson Wentz’s arrival in Philadelphia was welcomed with open arms and Nick Foles has since been christened the patron saint of the city, McNabb still stands as statistically the best quarterback in team history. Booed the minute that the Eagles selected him with the second-overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, McNabb rebounded and led the Eagles to an unparalleled run of success for the franchise, making six Pro Bowls and leading the team to the NFC Championship Game five times. As I discussed last week on an episode of the From the Bleachers podcast, the McNabb era defined who I am an Eagles fan. I can thank both Andy Reid and McNabb for that. Given all of that, let’s take a look at this week’s three nominees: 2000 Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns In a trip to Cleveland, McNabb faced off against the quarterback he studied under as a rookie, a journeyman by the name of Doug Pederson. McNabb certainly got the better of ol’ Dougie P that afternoon, as McNabb threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-24 victory. Bobby Taylor and Brian Dawkins each picked off Pederson once, while Hugh Douglas, Jeremiath Trotter and Corey Simon all recorded a sack. Now that is the type of Eagles defense that I miss! 2002 Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals Look. I know this game is going to win. It’s likely the most memorable performance of McNabb’s entire career, but just for the sake of writing an article and doing a poll like usual, I had to give some other options for you all. You know the story by now. McNabb broke his ankle on just the third play that afternoon, but remained in the game after a quick tape up job back in the locker room. Despite hobbling all over the Vet, he threw four tuddies. Duce Staley (man, how underrated was that guy?) racked up 211 yards from scrimmage while also catching one of Donovan’s touchdown tosses in this legendary 38-14 win. 2004 Week 15 against the Packers Throwing for 464 passing yards and five touchdowns (one of only two times he did it in career), McNabb was at the peak of his dominance, as the Birds took down the Packers 47-14. Brian Westbrook illustrated why he was one of the greatest multi-faceted weapons of his generation too, as he totaled 137 receiving yards (plus 37 yards on the ground) and three touchdown receptions. I have a feeling we’re going to see multiple 100-yard receiving games from Miles Sanders this season (if there is a season). I’m getting those Westbrook vibes from him right now. Against a Packers team that made the playoffs, both Darin Walker and Corey Simon sacked Brett Favre twice. Brian Dawkins and Sheldon Brown each added interceptions for good measure too. This was just a complete throttling from one of the greatest Eagles teams ever. Come along for the fun!
Eagles activate Lane Johnson from reserve/COVID-19 listby Brandon Lee Gowton on August 11, 2020 at 1:58 pm
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images Just one more player left. The Philadelphia Eagles activated starting right tackle Lane Johnson from the reserve/COVID-19 list, according to an official announcement from the team. He’s now able to rejoin the Eagles in training camp. The Eagles originally placed Johnson, Nathan Gerry, and Jordan Mailata on reserve/COVID-19 back on Wednesday, July 29. Gerry was activated on Sunday, August 9. Now only Mailata remains on the list. Of those three players, Johnson was the only one to confirm he actually tested positive for the coronavirus. As of this publish time, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson still remains away from the NovaCare Complex after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, August 2. So, the Eagles are just waiting for Pederson and Mailata to return while also hoping there are no more positive test results. The Eagles are moving into the next phase of their training camp schedule on Wednesday, August 12 as unpadded practices are set to begin. Padded practices will then begin on Monday, August 17. It’s good to know they’ll have Johnson back for those. I'm back. #PaveTheLane #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/EhB61d9wRc— Lane Johnson (@LaneJohnson65) August 11, 2020