The calendar has flipped to October, and the 2020 college football season is really ramping up. Meanwhile, the NFL has already seen a head coach fired with others squarely on the hot seat. So let’s again open up the mailbag to talk about the latest NFL Draft rumors and news. This week’s questions include thoughts on the 2021 safety class, quarterback Trey Lance, some thoughts on some NFL head coaches who may or may not be back in 2021, and more. But first, we begin with Trevor Lawrence and the New York Jets.
Related | Miller’s 2-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
Remember, if you have a question you want to send in for next week’s mailbag, you can e-mail it to [email protected] or send a tweet @PFN365 on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTonyPFN, and we’ll try to include it in an upcoming mailbag column.
NFL Draft Rumors & News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (10.06.20)
There’s been speculation that if the Jets were to get the first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence would stay in school for another year or try to force his way to another team like Eli Manning back in 2004. Do you see this as a possibility?
No, not at all.
I think the talk about Trevor Lawrence returning to school if the Jets get the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft — or Lawrence telling the Jets he won’t play for them — is nonsense.
He’s a mature individual and a great quarterback prospect whose legend will only grow if he becomes a New York Jet and does well. The city was gaga over Mark Sanchez when he was the quarterback of Jets teams that went to back-to-back AFC title games.
It’s a case of people having to much time on their hands and starting a controversy that doesn’t exist.
To the untrained eye, it looks like the 2021 safety class has a lot of depth. Who are some of your favorite safety prospects?
I don’t have any players at the position graded as first-rounders, and it’s going to be a junior-driven class.
Jevon Holland will be highly rated, but his decision to opt-out makes him a Day 2 pick, in my opinion. He’s physically gifted, but he needs work on his game.
Xavier Henderson of Michigan State, Andre Cisco of Syracuse, Pittsburgh’s Paris Ford, and Kenderick Duncan Jr. of Georgia Southern are four more underclassmen who could impact the position.
The top seniors at the position, Elijah Molden of Washington and Georgia’s Richard LeCounte, are Day 3 selections right now.
Trey Lance did not perform very well in his “showcase” game. How do you think that game will impact his draft stock? And what are you hearing from scouts about how high Lance may get drafted in April?
I wrote about this during the gameday blog Saturday — it won’t affect his stock at all. That comes from area scouts I texted after the game. It was the first game of the year for NDSU against a Central Arkansas team that had played a full month of games.
Related | Trey Lance is the exception to the rule
Lance will go in the first round, but right now, there’s no belief in the scouting community that he’s a lock to be a top-10 choice.
Which player who opted out of the season will be most impacted by choosing not to play in 2020?
As mentioned earlier, that’s Jevon Holland of Oregon. He’s physically talented with great upside, but he needs work on his game.
I also think offensive tackle Walker Little of Stanford would’ve helped himself with another season on the college field.
Jamie Newman of Wake Forest (since he never played for Georgia) will also see his draft stock impacted by opting out. I graded him as a Day 2 pick this summer, in large part, because I expected to see progress in his game. Just about every scout I know who has graded Newman has stamped him as a Day 3 selection.
There’s been so much talk recently about head coach Dan Quinn in Atlanta. But what about general manager Thomas Dimitroff? Doesn’t he shoulder some of the blame? What’s his status with the organization at this time?
Is Dimitroff’s job status shaky? Yes, both Dimitroff (who’s a very nice guy, by the way) and Quinn were walking on eggshells last season, and many were surprised when owner Arthur Blank retained them.
Atlanta will be a desirable job, as the Falcons have a talented team and, until Monday night, weren’t getting their doors blown off in games or losing to bad teams — quite the contrary.
If the Vikings don’t make the playoffs, is Mike Zimmer going to be out in Minnesota?
Highly unlikely. Given the circumstances of the 2020 season and the fact that they are working with a new offensive coordinator and have had success under Zimmer, it would be a surprise if he gets fired.
Bill O’Brien has a reputation for being difficult to work with. Do you think he’d be considered for NFL offensive coordinator jobs? Do you think his ego would let him settle and take a coordinator job?
That’s a good question. It’s a question of whether a head coach would bring O’Brien in as a coordinator knowing O’Brien would be lurking over his shoulder and looking to take over at a moment’s notice.
O’Brien will want another head-coaching job, but given his reputation and the fact that he’s a bit of a tyrant in the front office, it may be difficult for him to get one.
With the Big Ten returning soon, who are the NFL Draft prospects most likely to rise up boards from that conference in 2020?
Michigan tight end Nick Eubanks is woefully underrated, and there’s an opportunity for him this season, especially with wide receiver Nico Collins opting out.