Welcome to all who are joining us for this live Q&A with NFL Draft Analyst Tony Pauline. Feel free to fire off your questions.
Tony Pauline: Good evening everyone – thanks for joining us during what’s usually a rather quiet time around the league. If you follow me on Twitter, I announced last week I began my film preparation for the 2020 draft, which I will be spending here at Pro Football Network.
Moving from Draft Analyst to Pro Football Network
Hey Tony, what led to the move to PFN from Draft Analyst?
Tony Pauline: I felt the work I do and the work already in place at PFN would greatly compliment each other, which was the biggest reason for the move. I like the variety offered at PFN and I also like the fact you don’t have to go through a 25 picture slide show to get through the top 25 wide receivers in the draft as you must do at other places.
Hey Tony! I’d love to hear your opinion on the impact Parris Campbell will have on the Colts offense in his first year.
Tony Pauline: I think Parris Campbell will take a bit of time to get up to speed but at the same time, I think he can be a big play threat for the Colts early in his career. I like the pick and love the fit.
You’ve started studying MAC players already right? Any guys that stand out to you in particular?
Tony Pauline: It’s a weak year in the MAC- disappointing really. Thus far I’ve come away with two draftable players: Sidy Sow/OL/Eastern Michigan and Ball State linebacker Christian Albright.
Besides for Murray, Jacobs, and Montgomery, what rookies do you think will have the most fantasy success this season?
Tony Pauline: You have to put N’Keal Harry in that group considering he was drafted by the Patriots and they need a big-bodied pass catcher. Don’t sleep on Jace Sternberger in Green Bay or Josh Oliver in Jacksonville.
When studying prospects, where do you start? Meaning, do you like some background before turning on tape? Or is film your first priority before formulating any sort of bias?
Tony Pauline: Great question Shane. I always watch the tape first. Then I look at measurables, background info or potential red flags and factor them in. If the guy is a boy scout as well as a great athlete but can’t play football, it doesn’t matter. It’s more likely to work if the situation is reversed.
Running Backs in the NFL Draft
Do you buy into the modern way of thinking, that RBs should not be drafted early? If so, what do you think about a player as great as Saquon going so early last year?
Tony Pauline: No. I think if you have a potential generational talent like Barkley staring you in the face and you need a running back, then you have to grab him. Saquon Barkley was graded as the best player in the 2018 draft and played like it.
Tony Pauline Reviews the 2019 NFL Draft
Hey Tony, who do you think had the most underrated draft class – one that maybe flew under the radar?
Tony Pauline: I like the Steelers draft. I especially liked what they did with all the picks after Devin Bush. All of those guys will be on an NFL roster next year. It may not be in Pittsburgh or maybe not on the active roster. But, they will be playing football this fall.
Better question. Do you love or hate the Raiders draft? I’ve seen both
Tony Pauline: I love the Raiders draft! I consistently said in the months leading up to the draft that Clellin Ferrell was the most underrated player in the draft. I’m glad my friend Mike Mayock thought so highly of him. Jacobs and Abram will start as rookies. Mullen and Maxx Crosby were steals. Everyone else except Quinton Bell will be active roster players.
2020 NFL Draft
Tony, what’s your early take on the strength/depth of the 2020 draft?
Tony Pauline: I think it will be the reverse of this year in the sense it looks like it will be stronger on offense. The quarterback class in the 2020 NFL Draft has a lot of potential. The running back and receiver class look potentially strong. And, I like the guards and centers. Overall, I think the defense looks average- at least right now.
With WR and RB looking strong again for 2020, what position/position’s do you see as being low on talent?
Tony Pauline: Except for a few guys at the top, the tight end class will lack any sort of depth. This should come as no surprise to anyone considering the number of talented underclassmen who entered the 2019 draft. Right now, the cornerback class looks thin. I would also expect a big drop off at the defensive tackle position.
There was a report several weeks ago that a scout labeled Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert as “soft” and that he has a “weird personality.” Have you heard anything on this front?
Tony Pauline: First, I’ve heard nothing about Herbert being criticized as “soft.” Not a single person has said that to me over the past 12 months. As far as the weird personality? Last November, when I was doing interviews nationally on the Hebert situation, I kept mentioning word was the quarterback is a social introvert and rather quiet. I’m also told he likes Eugene, Oregon (the city he’s from) a real lot and it weighed heavy in his decision to not enter the NFL Draft and stay in college another season. That is likely the basis for the “weird personality.”
I believe we have a lot of Dolphins fans in attendance. What do you personally feel about the Rosen trade, his potential, and his fit in the Chad O’Shea offense down in Miami?
Tony Pauline: The Dolphins got a major steal – a potential $1,000,000 quarterback for a fraction of the price. My hopes are they go all in for Rosen and develop a team around him. My fears are they look at Rosen as a one year experiment and if it doesn’t work out in 2019, grab a QB at the top of the 2020 draft.
I see a lot of parallels the way Rosen fell and they got him for a song to the way Dan Marino fell in the 1983 NFL Draft and Miami got him for a bargain. Rosen would fit just about any offense that does not ask him to consistently pick up yardage on designed runs.
Where does Trevor Lawrence rank in comparison to the 2020 QB draft class? What about over the past 5-10 years?
Tony Pauline: Obviously, we have to wait and see how he does. But were he eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, he would be the top QB heading into the 2019 season. If he’s able to duplicate what he did in 2018 the next two seasons and enters the 2021 draft, I have no doubt Lawrence will be mentioned in the same breath of Peyton Manning.
Tony Pauline Nails the New York Jets Drama
Tony, you were the first guy to break the story on the problems in the NY Jets front office and there’s been a lot of coverage since, specifically from NY Jets beat writers, reiterating what you initially said as well as going into a little more detail. Have you heard anything new on the situation or any reaction the Maccagnan firing?
Tony Pauline: I spoke to a few people who know Mike Maccagnan and they tell me Maccagnan felt his job was safe, especially after the draft, and the firing came as a bit of a surprise to him.
This doesn’t shock me as during my original report the day before round one, I stated there was a meeting of the minds between Maccagnan, Adam Gase and a third party in the Jets front office to clear the air. The feeling exiting the meeting was everything was solved but as I said at the time, it remained to be seen if that would hold up.
I could envision Maccagnan leaving the meeting breathing a sigh of relief. But he could have also equally believed that Gase could or would quickly revert back to the bickering ways early in his tenure. I’m also told Maccagnan has confided that he was taken back by Gase’s actions. In fact, he was surprised someone he hired would be so confrontational.
New York Jets General Manager Search
Tony, over the past 24 hours it was reported by Rich Cimini of ESPN that the Jets will start the GM search. The names Cimini mentioned are Scott Fitterer of the Seattle Seahawks, Champ Kelly of the Chicago Bears, and Joe Douglas of the Philadelphia Eagles. Can you shed any light as to what may happen?
Tony Pauline: I had been led to believe all along that it would be very tough to pry Joe Douglas away from the Eagles…until last night. Someone I trust told me the word is Douglas is a done deal and the Jets are just going through the motions interviewing the other candidates. Seemingly, the Eagles are going to let Douglas walk. More than this coming from a reliable source, I’ve also heard this same thing from others since this morning so I believe there’s a lot of validity to it.
New York Jets Coaching Staff
Adam Gase continues to deny everything and anything as far as a rift between him and Maccagnan and denied he had anything to do with the firing of Maccagnan. The Friday before Maccagnan was fired, he said “it pisses me off” when asked about your report on the front office rift and just last week, he said he had no personal problem with Maccagnan. What’s your take on this?
Tony Pauline: It’s very disconcerting. Despite all the evidence and reports, Gase continues to declare innocence or even worse, ignorance of the situation. When things get tough, as they always do in New York, reporters are going to tee off on Gase. They even may question the validity of his answers. He recently said he had nothing personal against Mike Maccagnan. I don’t know if Gase was purposely being coy or not. But I kept thinking of that famous line said over and over again in the movie The Godfather. “It’s not personal- it’s business.”
New York Jets Ownership
There’s been a lot of finger pointing as to how poorly Jets co-owner Christopher Johnson has handled this. Is there any word on his brother Woody Johnson?
Tony Pauline: Word circulating inside the league is Woody Johnson will be back in 18 months regardless of the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. This comes from the same people who told me Maccagnan was likely to be fired a few weeks after the draft. When I asked if Woody could be back sooner the response was, “possibly, but it won’t be any longer than 18 months.”
What are your thoughts on former Colorado State WR Preston Williams? He seems to be making noise in OTA’s down in Miami.
Tony Pauline: Williams is a talented but inconsistent receiver. He needs to focus more and learn to do the little things well. He’s not a great athlete. He is a big bodied possession guy that could be a number 4 on the depth chart. His tape was awesome in spurts but all too often you wondered where he was or what he was doing.
Conclusion of Q&A with Tony Pauline
And that looks like it will do it. Tony, thank you for joining us for our first live Q&A here on Pro Football Network. We’re looking forward to this coming draft season!
Tony Pauline: That’s all for tonight everyone. Thanks for having me and we’ll see you soon. It’s after 8 PM which means its time to Get the Led Out!!!