NASHVILLE — Downtown streets are being blocked off, the NFL has erected a giant stage at the intersection of First and Broadway and 22 of the best NFL prospects have descended on the Music City. With the 2019 draft now just one day away, here are 10 draft-related hits live from Nashville.
1. The NFL prospects who have been invited to attend the draft customarily participate in a community event the day before. This year, they gathered at Nissan Stadium Wednesday morning to assemble 8,000 food kits with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and The Bridge Ministry. When the event began, there was one noticeable absence: Kyler Murray. The former Oklahoma QB, who was included on the original list of attendees, arrived in Nashville later Wednesday afternoon, when the event was over. The other 21 players who will be at the draft participated in the event and a 45-minute interview session on the field afterward.
2. Nick Bosa said he will “keep my opinions to myself from now on” after drawing criticism for deleting social media posts expressing his views on political and social issues, including praising President Donald Trump and referring to Colin Kaepernick as a “clown.” The former Ohio State edge rusher told ESPN in a magazine profile published earlier this month that he had to delete those posts because, “there is a chance I might end up in San Francisco,” who has the second pick in the draft.
Asked on Wednesday why he’s decided to keep his opinions to himself, Bosa commented, “you guys really like those questions.” Then, he added: “A lot of people take things the wrong way. I have tried to be as good a person to everybody I’ve met in my life, whatever race they are. I love all types of people, and it’s unfortunate that people form these opinions about me. I don’t want anything I’ve put out there to mold anybody’s mind in the wrong way. I just want to show people the real person I am, and obviously it’s not happening through social media.”
Speaking of San Fran, Bosa noted that the way he’d be used in the 49ers scheme, as described to him by DC Robert Saleh, would be a perfect fit. “I would be hand in the dirt, getting after it every player, crushing and closing, playing the edge and pass rushing,” Bosa said. “It’s definitely my type of scheme.”
3. Most people around the league believe that it’s a done deal that the Cardinals will draft Murray No. 1 overall. The other name that has been mentioned as a possibility is Quinnen Williams. The former Alabama defensive tackle said he enjoyed his visit with the Cardinals and meeting with GM Steve Keim. Does he believe there’s a chance the Cardinals take him at No. 1? “I hear it on TV and stuff like that, but I really don’t know,” he said. “I really don’t keep up with it too much.”
4. Sometimes what you don’t say to teams is as important as what you do say. Williams said he enjoyed his meeting with 49ers GM John Lynch, who played 16 seasons as a safety in the NFL. Williams added, “I watched a 30 for 30 on Barry Sanders, and I seen him juke John Lynch. It was just so funny, because I like know John Lynch now, so it was like man, John Lynch got shook by Barry Sanders.” Did he tell Lynch this? Nope. “He’s my guy,” Williams said, “and everybody gets got by Barry Sanders.”
5. This calls for the “eyes” emoji: Ed Oliver, the former Houston defensive tackle, said that on his visit to the Jets, he watched film of the Rams’ Aaron Donald with new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. In the past week, there have been several reports and mock drafts linking Oliver to the Jets, and one of the connections made is Williams’s experience having coached Donald in St. Louis.
I still think Quinnen Williams is the more likely play for the Jets at No. 3; many evaluators around the NFL see Williams and Bosa in a tier slightly ahead of the other defensive players in this class, including Oliver. One question about Oliver is his size—though he played nose guard for Houston, he’s small enough that he said some teams, among them the Titans, have talked to him about playing outside linebacker.
6. The NFL is closely watching the forecast in Nashville for Thursday night. The league has only done an outdoor draft once before, in Philadelphia, which was a great success because of the volume of fans that could experience the event—and also because the rain held off until after the first round was over. The current forecast shows a chance of both rain and thunderstorms for Thursday night; if the weather is severe enough to cancel outdoor activities, the Plan B is to move into the nearby Symphony Hall. This is where the team tables are already set up and the management council is operating out of, and there’s enough space to set up a main podium and TV cameras.
7. Daniel Jones, a two-time attendee of the Manning Passing Academy and fellow pupil of coach David Cutcliffe, said he’d be excited to be drafted by the Giants and learn behind Eli Manning. “That would be awesome,” the ex-Duke quarterback said. “The opportunity to learn from a guy like Eli, to watch him, the way he carries himself day in and day out, would be a tremendous learning opportunity for a young guy.”
Also, Jones answered a question about handling the glare of the media in New York in a way the Giants are sure to like. “For one, I am very confident in myself,” Jones said. “That’s key in a situation like that where you are going to be analyzed, every move is going to be analyzed. I think staying true to who you are. I am confident that way. Emotionally, I am consistent; don’t feel like I ever get too high or too low and can control some of that stuff, so that’s also big in a situation like that.”
8. Drew Lock, the former Missouri QB, definitely carries an air of confidence. Speaking about his interactions with Jon Gruden as the coach of his team at the Senior Bowl, Lock mentioned he thought his mindset would pair well with the Raiders coach. “Obviously Derek Carr is there right now, and I think he’s a great quarterback,” Lock said. “But if [Gruden] has any doubt on if he was going to pick a QB or who he was going to pick, I definitely think it’s me just because of the moxie I could bring to him. … He’s got a little swag about him. He wants to beat the living crap out of everybody he plays.”
Lock also gave a bit of a spicy answer when asked about this QB class as being written off as not as good as other years. He says he’s been training out in southern California with fellow ’19 prospects Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) and Jarett Stidham (Auburn), alongside ’18 draftees Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. “I thought we all blended pretty well together,” he said, “and threw [the ball] pretty similarly.”
9. I mentioned in my mock draft last week that tight end T.J. Hockenson, who played for Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, is Friend of the Belichick Tree (FOBT)-approved. Here’s an example: When asked by a local reporter if he had visited the Titans, Hockenson demurred. “Yeah, I can’t really get into specifics,” he said. When pressed, he demurred again. The reporter teased Hockenson, telling he was turning red; he deftly and politely looked for the next question to answer.
10. With so many streets blocked downtown by concrete barriers, one of the best ways to get around Nashville this week is via scooter. Among those taking part in the eco-friendly mode of transit: former Oklahoma offensive tackle Cody Ford, spotted gliding back to the players’ hotel.
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