TE Alizé Mack drafted by New Orleans Saints in seventh round

A Notre Dame tight end has been drafted once again.

The New Orleans Saints selected Alizé Mack in the seventh round with the No. 231 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Mack’s selection extends an impressive stretch for Irish tight ends going pro. Since 2004, at least one of Notre Dame’s starting tight ends in the season opener has eventually been selected in the NFL Draft. The streak, which started with Anthony Fasano, now includes eight different tight ends.

A career marred by suspensions could have prevented Mack from continuing the streak. But the Saints saw the potential the 6-foot-4, 249-pound Mack has flashed since high school.

Mack signed with Notre Dame as a four-star recruit out of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. 247Sports slated him as the top tight end in the 2015 class. Rivals ranked him as the No. 4 tight end.

Mack never really turned his potential into production at Notre Dame. An academic suspension forced him to miss his sophomore season in 2016. He was also suspended for the Citrus Bowl at the end of the 2017 season.

Mack showed flashes again in his senior season with 36 catches for 360 yards and three touchdowns. He finished his career with 68 catches for 716 yards and four touchdowns in 35 games played.

Mack becomes the sixth Notre Dame player drafted this year following defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (1st round, Los Angeles Chargers), wide receiver Miles Boykin (3rd, Baltimore Ravens), cornerback Julian Love (4th, New York Giants), linebacker Drue Tranquill (4th, Chargers) and running back Dexter Williams (6th, Green Bay Packers).

New York Giants: Later Picks Help Team After Disastrous Start

The 2019 NFL Draft is finally over and it’s time to move to the part of the offseason where everyone makes predictions about just how good or bad the new players are going to perform. There’s a lot of takes already about the first player that the New York Giants took, Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, but what about the rest of the draft?

It looks like the Giants dropped the ball on their first pick and they might just pay for that decision for years to come unless Jones surprises nearly everyone and turns out to be a great starting quarterback down the line after spending some time sitting behind Eli Manning.

But in later picks, did the team manage to bounce back? It looks like the Giants managed to find more value after their first pick, and you shouldn’t give the team an ‘F’ grade just for their main mistake.

We all know that the team drafted Dexter Lawrence with their second pick in the first round, but they also gained other impact players on defense and made moves to help improve the secondary. Trading up for a third first round selection brought in highly rated Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker, who will immediately enter the competition at a thin position for the Giants. But Baker isn’t the only improvement to the secondary that the Giants made.

Julian Love was drafted in the fourth round but is believed to be a value pick after falling from a higher expected draft position. With the pick, the Giants now have two cornerbacks to immediately jump into the starting conversation for a secondary which was predicted to struggle this season due to thin depth and replacing Landon Collins with lesser safeties.

In the fifth round the Giant managed to find a fast receiver who wasn’t yet off the board, Darius Slayton. Hailing from Auburn, Slayton’s 4.30 time on the 40 yard dash should also help the team depth, on offense rather than defense. While Slayton probably isn’t going to be an immediate difference maker, it looks like the Giants once again found good value with a mid to late round pick.

And that’s not going into the impact of some of the other more notable additions such as first round pick Dexter Lawrence or second round pick Oshane Ximenes, who could help raise sack production.

Dave Gettleman has definitely made some very questionable decisions when it comes to high profile situations, such as the Beckham trade and the sixth overall pick. But one thing Gettleman did well with last year was making the most out of the team’s draft picks and finding good players outside of just the first an second round.

While most are unhappy with the team’s first selection this time around, one redeeming factor for the 2019 Draft could be these later rounds, where it looks like once again the Giants managed to gain some players that are more valuable than indicated by their draft position.

Round 6: Jets Wrap ’19 Draft by Picking Rutgers CB Blessuan Austin

The Jets’ final pick of the 2019 NFL Draft this afternoon is cornerback Blessuan Austin from Rutgers.

Austin (6’1″, 198) hails from Queens, NY. The true junior reinjured his knee in the Scarlet Knights’ 2018 season opener that short-circuited his final season.

He played in 24 games In his first three seasons on the banks of the Old Raritan, with his best season coming as a true sophomore in 2016 when he totaled 43 tackles, an interception and 14 pass defenses. For his RU career Austin racked up four INTs, 18 PDs, two sacks and five tackles for loss.

Austin is the fourth Rutgers player drafted all-time by the Jets and the first out of RU taken since flanker Jack Emmer was selected in 1967. C Alex Kroll is the best-known Rutgers player drafted by the franchise, taken 13th overall in the 1962 AFL Draft and playing 14 games for the Titans of New York that season.

The Jets’ last pick of this draft came in the trade package they and the Raiders put together six weeks ago in which G Kelechi Osemele came east to the Green & White.

One other name recognizable to Jets fans was taken with the 196th pick. That was when C Roger Duffy was plucked in the eighth round out of Penn State in the 1990 draft. Duffy went on to play in 123 games with 70 starts for the Jets.

With three trades this year, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has executed 15 in-draft trades in his five drafts as GM.

Barring any unexpected Round 7 developments, the Jets’ 2019 draft is now one for the books. Unlike in recent years, the Jets under new head coach Adam Gase will not hold a rookie minicamp. Instead, the six rookie draft choices plus undrafted free agents will participate in a rookie orientation from Thursday through Sunday, May 9-12.

Then the rookies will be integrated into Organized Team Activity practices in late May and the first half of June. And they will join the veterans for a full-squad minicamp at the Atlantic Health Training Center from June 4-6. Then all the players will get their last free time until the start of Gase’s first Jets training camp starting up in late July.

Oakland Raiders select receiver Hunter Renfrow in NFL Draft

The Oakland Raiders have selected former Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow with the 149th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Renfrow went from being a walk-on at Clemson to one of the more clutch and impactful receivers the program has seen. He burst onto the scene during the 2017 National Championship game where he caught ten passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama, helping quarterback Deshaun Watson turn in one of the biggest upsets of the decade. Since that victory, he has been a steady presence in the Clemson offense.

Throughout the course of his collegiate career, Renfrow was able to haul in 186 passes for 2,133 yards and 15 touchdowns over the course of four seasons. He was consistently tied to the New England Patriots throughout the early process of the draft, but the Raiders traded up and made the pick first. He is now the fourth player from the National Championship game to be drafted by the Raiders, and he is the third Clemson Tiger to hear his name called.

Heading into this Draft, it was crucial that new general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden find the best possible players to get this team back on the competitive path. Adding defensive talent was the primary concern given the Raiders ranking 30th in rushing yards allowed and 32nd in sacks (13) during the 2018 season. Although finding Derek Carr more weapons and protection on offense was similarly important. Renfrow is a big part of this process considering that he has been one of the most reliable receivers in the NCAA.

The Raiders partially achieved these goals by selecting defensive end Clelin Ferrell at fourth overall, running back Josh Jacobs at 24, and safety Johnathan Abram at 27th. These three foundational players all addressed needs on the Raiders roster, but Mayock and Gruden weren’t quite finished with their work just yet. They selected cornerback Trayvon Mullen in the second round and then added yet another pass rusher in the fourth. With these building blocks, the Raiders may have begun building up the defense into something fearsome.This roster needed more wide receivers, offensive linemen to compete with the existing starters, and another tight end to continue on the path to victory. The three first-round selections gave Oakland an innate advantage heading into the opening night, but it was up to Gruden and Mayock to capitalize on the opportunities. Without a pick between 35 and 106 due to the trade for Antonio Brown, the Raiders couldn’t afford to miss out on any of these early picks.

The Oakland Raiders have one more season in the Bay Area, and they want to close out the Coliseum in style. Unfortunately, a brutal schedule will make this task far more difficult as they face off with the NFC North and AFC South. Adding immediate contributors in the draft that can shine on both offense and defense provides the Raiders with a better opportunity to succeed, and now they have to take advantage in the competitive AFC West to jump back into contention.

Philadelphia Eagles select Clayton Thorson in NFL Draft

The Philadelphia Eagles have selected former Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson with the 138th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Eagles traded the No. 163 pick in the 2019 NFL draft to the New England Patriots. Philadelphia received the Patriots’ fifth-round pick (No. 167) and their seventh-round pick (No. 246).

Thorson was a four-year starter who finished with 10,731 passing yards, 58.4 percent accuracy, 61 touchdowns vs. 45 interceptions and 27 rushing touchdowns. As a senior, he had careers highs of 61.0 percent and 3,183 yards as the Wildcats reached the Big Ten title game. He threw for 17 touchdowns vs. 15 interceptions in 2018; his best season in that regard came as a sophomore, when he had 22 touchdowns vs. nine picks.

He suffered a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl that capped the 2017 season but was back in the lineup at the start of the 2018 season. Playing in every game in his career, he set a Big Ten record with 53 starts by a quarterback.

“I think my experience is huge,” Thorson said. “I think a lot of other guys have experience, and some guys don’t have as much experience. What that allows me to do is I’ve seen so much, I feel like I haven’t been surprised by anything these past couple years. I think another thing that I’m talking to these guys about is how my mind works. Especially at the line of scrimmage, a lot was put on my plate these past few years and I feel like that’s really prepared me for the next level.”

“I think some of my strengths are with my offense, we’re taught to do from an early age at Northwestern is throw with anticipation in some tight windows. I think that. I think another thing is my ability to escape the pocket and keep plays alive. I think that’s been a strength of mine and that’s allowed us to win a lot of games with me rushing for 27 touchdowns in my career and throwing for another 61. I think that part of my game is huge. Another thing is just realizing different passes have different ball speeds and different routes, so I think my understanding of the game is at a really high level.”

Thorson id the No. 3 quarterback the Eagles sought in this draft, someone to compete with Luis Perez and a draft pick they like to groom.

Adding depth is key for Philadelphia, especially at the quarterback position.”I would expect us if not every year, every other year, to try to find a quarterback,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said at the NFL Owners Meetings last month (via Zach Berman of Philly.com). “We’re very conscious of the culture. That quarterback we bring in, let’s say this year’s draft or next year’s draft, needs to be a great fit in that room. You’re not just drafting a player that can be a backup, but someone that can help the culture with the quarterback that’s starting.”

Philadelphia Eagles: Shareef Miller joins his hometown club at pick 138

Howie Roseman is going Penn State crazy in the 2019 NFL Draft, as for the second time in two days, really less than 24 hours apart, the Philadelphia Eagles have selected a Nittany Lion; this time addressing the defensive side of the ball by selecting Shareef Miller with the 138th overall pick.

That’s right, after seemingly ignoring Happy Valley prospects for the entirety of his tenure helming the draft board as the Eagles’ ‘general manager’ the Birds now have two Eagles set to join the club over the forthcoming days, pairing Miller with his former teammate Miles Sanders for at least the next four years.Something tells me this is going to go down as one of the most approved of draft classes in recent memory for fans in the 215, as they actually know pretty much every player who’s been selected.A native of Philadelphia, which is always a plus, Miller played his high school ball at George Washington, earning a three-star recruiting grade despite only weighing 225 pounds as an edge rusher.

Fortunately for all parties involved, he didn’t stay at 225 as he transitioned into the bright lights of Beaver Stadium.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2015, Miller appeared in 34 games for the Nittany Lions over his tenure with the team; logging an even 100 total tackles 31.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and 14.5 sacks in the process.Not exactly Josh Allen numbers, but what do you expect for the last pick in the fourth round?

While Miller may not be an elite athlete, as he only ran a 4.69 40 at the combine, Shareef does have experience playing in a wider 4-3 scheme; which highlighted his strong hands and straight line ability.

Can he bend it around the edge like an elite end? Not really, but as a solid, base end in the vein of Brandon Graham and even Derek Barnett, a pair of former first-round picks, Miler provides value in the fourth round and could sneak his way into Jim Schwartz‘s defensive end rotation as a rookie.Will he ever become a starter? Not if Josh Sweet has anything to say about it (I kid), but he does have plenty of upsides, experience playing in a similar scheme, a (presumed) relationship with the team’s new running back of the future, and he’s a Philadelphia player born and breed. What more could the Philadelphia Eagles ask from the 138th overall pick? Welcome (back) to Philadelphia Shareef Miller!

Report: Giants’ Corey Ballentine injured in off-campus shooting

We have serious and unfortunate news to report about New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft pick Corey Ballentine and his Washburn teammate Dwane Simmons.

Just hours after finding out the Giants planned to make his dream come true, selecting Ballentine with the No. 180 overall pick in the 2019 draft, he was involved in in a serious altercation. According to Tyler Greever, Washburn football player Dwane Simmons was killed and Ballentine was injured in an off-campus shooting early Sunday morning.

Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery but there is no telling what kind impact this could have on the young defender.

Washburn president Dr. Jerry Farley released the following statement:

“Any time we lose a student it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act,” Farley said.According to Greever, Simmons was a defensive back from Lee’s Summit. Washburn head coach Craig Schurig released the following statement after Simmons’ passing.”Heartbreaking news about Dwane Simmons,” Schurig said, via Washburn’s official website. “Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn. Dwane’s infectious smile and love for football and his teammates was truly inspirational. Our prayers of healing go out to his family, his parents Navarro and Yasmine Simmons and Chaquilla Williams.”

While Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery, he will now alter his post-draft plans. Ballentine was set to discuss his selection by the Giants today, but that has been postponed.

Shortly after the Giants made the decision to select Ballentine, the official team Twitter account released a video of his conversation with head coach Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator James Bettcher. The Giants were very excited to draft Ballentine and he sounded even more excited to join the franchise and make his dream come true.The 5-foot-11 and 196-pound defensive back prospect likely caught the attention of Giants general manager Dave Gettleman during the Senior Bowl — he was very productive that week during individual drills. The Giants have shown no hesitation to draft small-school prospects after grabbing Oshane Ximines in Round 3 out of Old Dominion and now adding a Washburn defender to the roster.Ballentine also put together an exceptional Combine proving he has the athletic traits to translate to the NFL. Ballentine ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at nearly 200 pounds and combined that with a 39.5-inch vertical and 135-inch broad jump — exceptional numbers relative to his position. Perhaps what was most impressive about Ballentine’s Combine was the lateral agility and quickness he displayed in the 3-cone (6.82) and short-shuttle (4.14) drills.

Improving the defense, who’s in charge, and other takeaways from 49ers’ 2019 NFL Draft

Let’s take a look at the five most important takeaways from the 49ers’ eight-player haul in the 2019 NFL Draft:
1. Improving secondary starts with bolstering pass rush

The 49ers largely ignored their pressing need to add pass rushers off the edge in last year’s draft. But they were aggressive this offseason, trading for Dee Ford after his Pro Bowl campaign and using the No. 2 overall selection on Ohio State’s Nick Bosa.

The key to defending in the pass-happy NFL is pressuring quarterbacks without relying on the blitz, and coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch hope their investments can prop up a secondary that struggled last season.

The 49ers’ two interceptions were the fewest in league history, though Shanahan would argue that fell more on the line’s inability to generate pressure than the secondary playing poorly. He expects the addition of Ford and Bosa to have dramatic ramifications.

“I don’t think we dropped too many (interceptions) as a whole, which should tell you something,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got to cause more havoc on that quarterback so he throws some wild passes that do come to us, and if they drop too many, then we’ll have to put our receivers there.”

The 49ers didn’t invest heavily in the secondary despite it seeming like a pressing need when the draft began. They added one defensive back, Virginia’s Tim Harris, in Round 6. Simply put, they feel confident in their recent investments at cornerback and safety, including third-round picks Ahkello Witherspoon (2017) and Tarvarius Moore (2018), and free-agent acquisition Jason Verrett, a first-round pick of the Chargers in 2016.

Perhaps next offseason they give the secondary the same treatment they did edge defenders this spring — if the young players don’t show the necessary signs of improvement.
2. Shanahan makes it clear who’s running the show

Drafting two receivers seemed plausible, particularly finding one as early as Round 2. Picking South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel at No. 36 overall was almost as predictable as landing Bosa at No. 2. Samuel’s route running and ability after the catch make him tailor made for Shanahan’s offense.

What wasn’t expected was tapping Baylor’s Jalen Hurd (6-foot-5, 226 pounds) early in Round 3. Hurd is hardly the refined receiver Shanahan typically covets. But making sense of the pick requires projecting his role. Remember, the 49ers were interested in free-agent tight end Trey Burton before he signed with the Bears in 2018. Burton would have been an intriguing complement to George Kittle as a versatile H-back.

That may be where Hurd ends up, offering San Francisco unique athleticism and a skill set the offense hasn’t had since Shanahan took over. Shanahan was asked Saturday how Hurd compares to Burton.

“He’s got that type of body. I think he can do more things,” Shanahan said. “I don’t know if we would have used (Burton) as a running back and stuff, also, but yeah, I think he’s a very similar build.”

Hurd began his college career as a powerful running back at Tennessee, weighing roughly 240 pounds. He changed positions and transferred to Baylor, hoping he could save his body from the pounding. But he’s far more limber than most tall running backs and could be dangerous with the ball in his hands. If Shanahan can get him in space, like he did so often with Kittle last season, Hurd could become a valuable weapon.

It didn’t come without risk. Hurd has had multiple shoulder surgeries and didn’t run at the combine because of meniscus surgery. It’s the type of pick an offensive coach makes when he has ultimate sway in the building.

 

Philadelphia Eagles undrafted free agent tracker includes Wisconsin linebacker, two former Penn State players

PHILADELPHIA — The 2019 NFL Draft is over, but the next step is just beginning.

When UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson went off the board to the Arizona Cardinals as Mr. Irrelevant, it opened the floodgates on undrafted free agency. Every year, a couple players who slip through the cracks during the seven rounds of the NFL draft find homes where they can become contributors.It’s an area where the Philadelphia Eagles have had some success in the past. In 2017, running back Corey Clement joined the team after the draft and became a key contributor during the run to Super Bowl LII. Last season, running back Josh Adams and defensive tackle Bruce Hector saw playing time during the regular season after going undrafted.

We will attempt to sort through the chaos of rumors and media reports in this space. Follow along below for the latest updates on the Eagles undrafted free agents. Note that some players are signed as undrafted free agents, but others will get a tryout at rookie minicamp.

Edwards going undrafted was a bit surprising, given his performance in college and Wisconsin’s pedigree of producing linebackers. Over the past two seasons, Edwards had 22.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, 16 passes defended and seven interceptions. He earned various All-American and All-Big Ten honors.

Opeta is a converted defensive tackle who made his first starts on the offensive line in 2016. He made 39 starts at left tackle over the past three seasons. He was a consensus All-American last season, and he was a back-to-back first-team All-Big Sky selection. He weighed in at 6-foot-4, 301 pounds.Herbig appeared in 33 games and made 26 starts at right guard (19), left guard (6) and right tackle. He’s another body for the interior of the Eagles offensive line, and he’s young, too. The Hawaiian doesn’t turn 21 until July.

Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow Was Just Drafted, And It Wasn’t The New England Patriots

With his penchant for dominating big games despite a diminutive frame, Hunter Renfrow has screamed “future New England Patriot” for years now. With an impressive lead-up to the NFL Draft, it seemed pretty certain that he’d be picked at some point.

The Clemson cult hero was just selected in the mid-fifth round. Upset of upsets, the Pats weren’t the team to grab him.

Instead, Renfrow is heading out to Oakland (and then Las Vegas). He joins a Raiders skill position group that now features Antonio Brown.

The Raiders clearly wanted the Tiger star. They traded up to the 149 spot to take him. They sent the Dallas Cowboys the 158th and 218th picks to acquire it.

Oakland’s draft strategy is heavy on Clemson players, and given the success of Dabo Swinney’s program over the last few years, that may not be the worst thing in the world.

The Raiders took one of the Tigers’ dominant defensive linemen, Clelin Ferrell, with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The pick was seen as a reach by some, but they clearly had a crazy high grade on him.

One round later, the team took cornerback Trayvon Mullen with the 40th overall pick. If you’re a Clemson fan that is looking for an NFL squad, this isn’t a bad option for you.