Alex Jenkins
DE Alex Jenkins joined the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad this summer

The New Orleans Saints have been in the country all week preparing for their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Sunday’s encounter is the second of four NFL games to be played in London this year and while most of them will be getting acclimatised to their new surroundings, for one man it’s nice to be home.

24 year old Alex Jenkins has given up the home comforts of Somerset to pursue his dream of playing American Football in the NFL.

The Saints signed him up in the summer as part of the league’s International Pathway Programme. Rules mean that he can’t play for the first team, so we won’t see him in action at Wembley this weekend, but he’s back here practicing with his team mates.

“He was tall and athletic, and he walked into the gym and asked ‘if I want to get into American football how do I get better?’”

So how’s Bayou compared to Bath?

“It’s good,” said Jenkins. “It’s a lot different from Bath, it’s not as historical but it’s a nice place.”

“I don’t really get a lot of time to go out (because of football) but it’s nice.”

The fact Alex Jenkins has made it to an NFL team, which so few American youngsters achieve, comes as no surprise to his first head coach, Chris Powles from the Bristol Aztecs.

“Every offseason we run taster sessions for people who have never played the game before,” recalls Coach Powles.

“Alex came to one of those back in 2012.”

“He was tall and athletic, and he walked into the gym and asked ‘if I want to get into American football how do I get better?’”

From that moment all Alex wanted to do was reach a standard that would get him a scholarship at a university in the States and, ultimately, land a career in the NFL.

Alex achieved his college goal in 2013 and moved to the States to start his education at the University of Incarnate Word, a private school in San Antonio, Texas.

“He’s fit in very well, he’s got good size, I think he understands the game and now he’s got a chance to play it at our level so he’s been a great addition for our team.”

As a teenager he had dreamed of becoming a footballer, but at 6ft 6” he grew too big. Jenkins, whose cousin is the Celtic winger Scott Sinclair, therefore he set himself a new goal within the gridiron.

“He was always a hardworking boy,” his former science teacher at St Gregory’s School in Bath remembers.

“He was a real inspiration when he was at our school.”

“He was our deputy head boy, so he had leadership roles and ideas and opinions that he was never scared to share with his peers and his teachers.”

It certainly appears that whatever Alex Jenkins does he leaves an impression on people. The New Orleans Saints head coach, and Super Bowl winner, Sean Payton enthused about him this week, “He’s been outstanding.”

“His team mates respect him,” added Payton.

“He’s fit in very well, he’s got good size, I think he understands the game and now he’s got a chance to play it at our level so he’s been a great addition for our team.”

That high praise comes as no surprise to his coach at the Bristol Aztecs, “just based on the very first conversation (I had with him), and his physical stature, he’s got the measurements, he’s big enough and strong enough,” said Chris Powles.

“He’s one of the very handful of guys who have played in domestic European leagues and then go on to play NCAA (college) division one level football and then to go on and play with the pros.”

“I don’t know of anyone who’s done that and gone to the NFL,” added Coach Powles.

He might be going from strength-to-strength with one of the NFL’s most famous teams, but Alex still finds time to give back to the community in Bath and Bristol.

“I just think that sort of stuff is really important,” said Alex.

“It’s something I said when I was a kid, I would love if someone had done that for us.”

“Now that I’m in a position to do something like that I use every opportunity to help these kids and inspire them to let them know that you can do more than you think.”

“That’s why I make a point to see these guys in Bristol and St Gregory’s.”

The New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins is live and exclusive on BBC Two this Sunday at 1:45pm. Kick-off is at 2:30pm.

Neil Channing
Neil Channing, from Betting Emporium, has your 2017 NFL betting tips

The 2017 NFL season is finally underway and who would have predicted that result last night?!?

The NFL is one of the most-unpredictable leagues in the world, so how do you bet on it?

In our latest podcast (Episode 39), we spoke to the NFL betting expert from bettingemporium.com, Neil Channing.

Neil told us who the favourites are to lift the Lombardi this year, and should you fancy a flutter this year, he also has advice for betting on games.

Click below to listen to Neil’s tips:

Alex Gray
Former England Rugby star Alex Gray, now on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad

It’s been quite a summer for Alex Gray.

The former England Rugby star, who once captained England teams including the likes of Jonathan Joseph and Owen Farrell, swapped oval balls in May and is embarking on a new career in the NFL.

The 26 year old was signed up by the Atlanta Falcons as part of the NFL Undiscovered series. He will be a member of the team’s practice squad this season, learning the skill of Tight End.

“it literally has been head in that playbook all day, everyday”

Twelve months ago he was dreaming of Olympic gold with GB Rugby Sevens, but injury cruelly stopped him from travelling to Rio.

For the last eight weeks though he’s been getting used to another new discipline – his new home is the great state of Georgia, and the goal is no longer Olympic Gold; it’s mastering the Atlanta Falcons’ playbook.

On the eve of his move to the US, Alex spoke to the 5thDownUK, and admitted that his only experience of football up to that point was from playing Madden, but we caught up with him again at the recent NFL event in London, and asked what it’s been like so far, and how it’s been learning the playbook?

“It’s something that I’ve not been used to before”  Gray admitted, “and it literally has been head in that playbook all day, everyday”

“The schedule is start at seven, home at seven and from then until bedtime I’m just doing that playbook”

“if you threw one of those guys into the middle of a ruck with six guys stamping all over you, I’m not sure they’d enjoy that”

There’s been a lot of learning for the former London Irish back-rower, but he’s relishing the challenge; “I was in the team hotel for three weeks and my TV didn’t come on once. I was just trying to learn the plays for the following day”

“That’s the game. People probably don’t realise the amount of detail that goes into it”

“When people look at the NFL they think it’s a game for these crazy athletes doing crazy physical feats but really that’s less than 10% of the game. In essence it’s a super chess game and I’m starting to learn that now”

So what’s in the playbook? Alex explained, “the way we’ve done it is that the playbook is split into six”

“When we’re in camp each day we’ll do what we call ‘install’ so on Day 1 you’ll do the first install, second day the second install, and so on”

“All the plays, and the way they’re called are normally split up into personnel group, formation, protection, what the half backs do and then on the back of that are the concepts that the receivers are doing, so you need to listen out for your bit, where you’re supposed to be and what you’re actually doing in the play”

It’s been a tough learning curve for Gray though; “to do that only once when it’s 30 degrees, you’ve got your helmet on, you’ve just taken a hit off someone and then to do that on the fly and do exactly what they want, it’s a tough ask but that’s the game and I’m enjoying trying to learn that”

Alex is the first professional English Rugby player to transition into the NFL. We asked him which sport is tougher, Rugby or Football? “I keep telling everyone that rugby players are tougher, but there’s definitely a mutual respect between the two sports”

“A lot of the tackling rules in football are not to the same level as rugby, so you do see those big hits that the crowd wants to see”

“Speaking to some guys they can’t believe you play without pads and helmets,” added Gray. “if you threw one of those guys into the middle of a ruck with six guys stamping all over you I’m not sure they’d enjoy that!”

Whether it’s fifteen facing fifteen on the Rugby pitch, or eleven facing eleven on the Gridiron, Alex admitted that skill and strength are still key; “they’re both tough games, I know that, the players know that, so it’s pretty cool respect”


Catch Alex Gray’s full interview on the upcoming 5thDownUK Podcast. Episode 37 will also feature another NFL Undiscovered star, Alex Jenkins – the Bath-born New Orleans Saints Defensive End.

Follow Alex Gray on Twitter @AlexShaggyGray

NFL Undiscovered premieres this autumn.

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Canadian Football’s biggest prize comes to London this weekend!

As Canadians celebrate their proud nation’s 150th birthday, the Grey Cup is to embark on a tour of our capital city.

The reigning Grey Cup MVP,  and now co-host of CTV Morning Live Ottawa, Henry Burris will be greeted by a 60,000-strong crowd at Trafalgar Square on Saturday, Canada Day.

CFL fans will have an opportunity to pose for photos with the trophy and take on the CFL obstacle course.

For fans who are willing to party into the night there will be a live screening of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Saskatchewan Roughriders at the Carlsberg Sports Bar in the Empire Casino.

This is the first game at the brand new Mosaic Stadium. The Canadian broadcasters TSN will be crossing live to the fan event in London throughout the game.


Details of the Grey Cup Tour of London

June 30th

  • Arriving at the Maple Leaf Bar in Covent Garden, which is having a Canada Day Celebration.
  • From 7pm-9pm the Cup, and Henry, will be at the pub, where there is a party for ex-pats and Canadians.

July 1

  • The event at Trafalgar Square opens at noon local time to the public
  • Henry will take part in a celebrity ball hockey game with legends like Phil Esposito, Mike Keenan, Ron Duguay and Dennis John Maruk, as well as the High Commissioner and other dignitaries from 2-3pm.
  • CFL obstacle course will open at 3pm
  • Henry will be interviewed by Dan Snow on the main stage (time to be confirmed), askingHank questions about playing on Canada Day, American by Birth / Canada by Choice, and what Canada has meant to him and his family.
  • From 8-9pm, going to the Tennis Canada party for a quick visit.
  • At 8pm the Watch Party begins at the Carlsberg Sports Bar at Empire Casino. The cup and Burris will be there.

July 2

  • Part of the Changing of the Guard, for one month starting on 18 June 2017 the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light infantry (PPCLI) has been selected to fulfill this honour at Buckingham Palace.
  • The cup goes to several landmarks across London (all of which are TBC).

This Week’s CFL TV Schedule

  • Fri (2am): Ottawa Redblacks vs Calgary Stampeders; BT Sport 1
  • Sat (12am): BC Lions vs Toronto Argonauts; BT Sport ESPN
  • Sat (3am): Montreal Alouettes vs Edmonton Eskimos; BT Sport ESPN
  • Sun (2am): Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Saskatchewan Roughriders; BT Sport 1

 

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The new CFL season kicks off this week, and the 5thDownUK will be bringing you all the news and updates throughout the season, both here on our website and the 5thDownUK Podcast.

We’ve got a team of experts from across the pond to tell you everything you need to know about the Canadian version of gridiron.

To get ready for the upcoming CFL season we’ve asked a few pundits to give us their previews for the year:


Marshall Ferguson, commentator for the Hamilton Tigercats

Who will win the Grey Cup?

Edmonton – Mike Reilly will be in his second season under Jason Maas offensive system. New GM Brock Sunderland has infused energy into the organization and the defence is as talented as ever especially up front with Mike Benevides as their leader on the sidelines.

Who is your dark horse for 2017?

Toronto – If Ricky Ray were paired with Jim Popp and Marc Trestman five years ago they would be a surefire favourite. In 2017 they’re a mystery but a team with loads of young talent and a veteran QB leading the ship. Very similar to the Ottawa Redblacks last season.

Which player is your one-to-watch?

BC QB Johnathan Jennings – That guy has more talent than most QBs in this league. He has been surrounded by speed and playmakers this offseason and if he can learn how to manage a game the BC Lions are as dangerous as any team in the CFL

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @TSN_Marsh


Rod Pedersen, commentator for the Saskatchewan Roughriders

Who will win the Grey Cup?

I’ve got B.C. picked to finish in first place in the CFL West Division, and then likely to advance to the Grey Cup in Ottawa. After seeing them firsthand last week (a 42-10 preseason win over the Riders in Vancouver), I’m even more certain they’ll be the team to beat. Calgary will always be near the top as long as John Hufnagel is in charge but the Lions already seem like a team on a mission. Anything less than a Grey Cup appearance will be a bitter disappointment for them.

Who is your dark horse for 2017?

I’ve got to go with my Roughriders. They’re in the toughest division in the CFL but if they’re able to beat Winnipeg and Edmonton in their head-on matches, that would go a long ways to securing third place in the West and a playoff berth. Not much is expected from the Riders by those outside this province and their showing in B.C. last week left them with a good share of detractors even inside the Rider Nation. However this club seems fine with the “underdog” tag, and flying under the radar.  I wouldn’t sleep on them.

Which player is your one-to-watch?

My player to watch through training camp and the preseason was Roughriders wide receiver Duron Carter and he didn’t disappoint. He scored the first-ever touchdown in the new stadium in Saskatchewan in the first preseason game, and made a highlight reel catch the next week at BC. He’s a player that you’ll always know is on the field! Many believe he’s the best receiver in the CFL and could the best overall player in the league if he keeps his head on straight. Unfortunately that’s been a big problem for him throughout his career so his first season in Green & White promises to be very intriguing.

Follow Rod on Twitter: @rodpedersen


Check us out for your CFL news throughout the season, and subscribe to our podcast, 5thDownUK, for your weekly CFL round-up.

You can also watch CFL games live on BT Sport throughout the season.

vince-young-2017-4-1600x902Vince Young signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on March 11

There’s been a lot of attention around CFL team, Saskatchewan Roughriders the last few weeks.

Back in early March the Western Conference team announced the signing of the former 2 x NFL Pro-Bowler Vince Young.

Young joined his new team mates in Florida last month for their mini training camp.

The QB looked like a new man, having shed 20lbs in just six weeks.

He appears to have the desire to succeed in the CFL, but there are many hurdles for him between now and the Roughriders’ season opener on June 23.

Speaking on the 5thDownUK podcast, the Roughriders’ presenter, Rod Pedersen, said that Young doesn’t look like the best quarterback on Saskatchewan’s roster:

 

Obi Melifonwu completed his journey from London to the National Football League when he was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

Melifonwu, a stand-out safety at the University of Connecticut, was the 24th player selected in the second round, the 56th overall.

He becomes the fourth UK-born player currently in the NFL, joining defensive end Jack Crawford (Atlanta Falcons), offensive tackle Menelik Watson (Denver Broncos) and running back Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins).

Melifonwu, born in Archway’s Whittington Hospital to Nigerian parents, spent the first three years of his life in London before his family moved to Massachusetts. “My heart is with Nigeria but London is my home,” he said prior to the draft.

He earned first team All-AAC honours in his senior year at the University of Connecticut Huskies, with a team-leading 118 tackles and four interceptions, and was one of the star performers at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February.

British-born players currently in the NFL:

Born Rookie Year NFL Team College
Jay Ajayi (RB) London 2015 Miami Dolphins Boise State
Jack Crawford (DT) London 2012 Dallas Cowboys Penn State
Graham Gano (K) Arbroath 2009 Carolina Panthers Florida State
Lawrence Okoye (OL) Croydon 2013 Miami Dolphins Whitgift HS
Efe Obada (LB) Nigeria 2015 Free Agent N/A
Menelik Watson (OT) Manchester 2013 Denver Broncos Florida State
Obi Melifonwu (S) London 2017 Oakland Raiders Connecticut
Jermaine Eluemunor (OT) London 2017 Baltimore Ravens Texas A&M

GREAT GARRETT

The Cleveland Browns selected DE MYLES GARRETT with the No. 1 overall

This is the the first time in Texas A&M history that a player was chosen first overall.

Garrett became the sixth Texas A&M player to be selected in the top 10 since 2011, joining T JAKE MATTHEWS (6th overall, 2014), WR MIKE EVANS (7th overall, 2014), T LUKE JOECKEL (2nd overall, 2013), QB RYAN TANNEHILL (8th overall, 2012) and LB VON MILLER (2nd overall, 2011).


FIRST ROUND QBs

North Carolina QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 2nd overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, and Texas Tech QB PATRICK MAHOMES was chosen with the 10th overall pick by Kansas City, both becoming the first quarterback from their respective schools to be selected in the 1st round.

Trubisky joins T.J. YATES (2011, 5th round) and RONALD CURRY (2002, 7th round) as the only North Carolina quarterbacks to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Mahomes is the 4th Texas Tech player, and the 1st Red Raider quarterback to be selected in the first round since 1967:

YEAR PLAYER POSITION PICK # TEAM
2017 Patrick Mahomes QB 10 Kansas City
2009 Michael Crabtree WR 10 San Francisco
1983 Gabe Rivera NT 21 Pittsburgh
1981 Ted Watts DB 21 Oakland

Clemson QB DESHAUN WATSON, who was selected by the Houston Texans with the 12th overall pick, became the second first-round quarterback in school history. He joins STEVE FULLER (23rd overall by Kansas City in 1979) as the only Tigers quarterbacks to be selected in the 1st round since 1967.


MAKING HISTORY

The Tennessee Titans selected Western Michigan WR COREY DAVIS with the 5th overall pick, the highest draft pick in school history.

Davis became the second player and first wide receiver out of Western Michigan to be selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft, joining LB JASON BABIN, who was selected by the Houston Texans with the 27th overall pick of the 2004 Draft. ​


RISING RBs

Louisiana State RB LEONARD FOURNETTE (4th overall, Jacksonville) and Stanford RB CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY (8th overall, Carolina) were both selected within the first ten picks of the 2017 NFL Draft; the first time two or more running backs were selected in the top 10 since 2005 (RONNIE BROWN, CEDRIC BENSON, and CADILLAC WILLIAMS).

Fournette became the 4th LSU running back selected in the opening round since 1967, while McCaffrey became the 3rd Stanford running back chosen in the 1st round.

LSU Running Backs selected in the 1st Round since 1967:

YEAR PLAYER PICK # TEAM
2017 Leonard Fournette 4 Jacksonville
2006 Joseph Addai 30 Indianapolis
1991 Harvey Williams 21 Kansas City
1979 Charles Alexander 12 Cincinnati

Stanford Running Backs selected in the 1st Round since 1967:

YEAR PLAYER PICK # TEAM
2017 Christian McCaffrey 8 Carolina
1988 Brad Muster 23 Chicago
1982 Darrin Nelson 7 Minnesota

TERRIFIC TIGHT ENDS

Alabama TE O.J. HOWARD (19th overall, Tampa Bay), Mississippi TE EVAN ENGRAM (23rd overall, New York Giants), and Miami TE DAVID NJOKU (29th overall, Cleveland) were all selected in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The three 1st round selections are tied for the most Tight Ends chosen in the 1st round (2002, 1978 and 1973). 


ROLL TIDE

Alabama CB MARLON HUMPHREY (16th overall, Baltimore), DT JONATHAN ALLEN (17th overall, Washington), TE O.J. HOWARD (19th overall, Tampa Bay), and LB REUBEN FOSTER (31st overall, San Francisco) were all selected in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Alabama now has a current streak of nine consecutive drafts with at least one first-round pick. The Crimson Tide tied Florida (1983-1991) for the second-longest consecutive streak with at least one player drafted in the 1st round since the advent of the common draft in 1967.

Longest streak of consecutive seasons with a 1st Round pick, since 1967:

YEARS SCHOOL # of Seasons
1995-2008 Miami 14
2009-2017 Alabama 9*
1983-1991 Florida 9
1983-1989 Pittsburgh 7
1991-1997 Ohio State 7
1997-2003 Florida 7

* Including this active Season


BOUNTIFUL BUCKEYES

Three Ohio State players heard their names called in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft – CB MARSHON LATTIMORE (11th overall, New Orleans), S MALIK HOOKER (15th overall, Indianapolis) and CB GAREON CONLEY (24th overall, Oakland). In 2016, the Buckeyes had a draft-high 5 players selected in the first round.

With a total of eight 1st rounders in the last two Drafts, Ohio State tied Alabama (2011-12) for the fourth-most 1st round picks over any two-year span since 1967. Miami is the only school with more 1st round choices over any two-year span, with nine players selected from both 2001-02 and 2002-03, and 10 players drafted from 2003-04.

Schools with the most 1st Round picks, over any 2 year span:

YEARS SCHOOL 1st ROUND PICKS (OVER TWO-YEAR SPAN)
2003-04 Miami 10
2002-03 Miami 9
2001-02 Miami 9
2016-17 Ohio State 8
2011-12 Alabama 8

QUICK HITS

Other items of note from the 1st round…

  • TE EVAN ENGRAM (No. 23; New York Giants) was the first Mississippi tight end selected in the first round since 1967. He was the fifth tight end in school history to be drafted since 1967.
  • Wisconsin LB T.J. WATT was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 30th overall pick. Watt and his brother J.J., who was the 11th overall selection in 2011, became the eighth pair of brothers since 1990 to be selected in the first round of their respective NFL Drafts.
  • Louisiana State S JAMAL ADAMS was selected sixth overall by the New York Jets, joining his father GEORGE ADAMS (1985, New York Giants) as the eighth father-son combination to be drafted in the first round in the common draft era.

NFL teams are to announce their Day 3 Draft picks from unique locations, and will be recognising key individuals.

draft
The 2017 NFL Draft is from Philadelphia, Apr 27 – 29

From military bases, to state landmarks and attractions, and even to outer space, NFL teams will announce their Day 3 selections for Rounds 4 to 6 of the NFL Draft from special locations, of their choosing, and will recognise individuals who have made a significant impact.

Beginning on Saturday, April 29 at 5:00 PM BST, Day 3 pick announcements will feature current NFL players and legends, military personnel, actors, singers, and other special guests. New this year, Round 6 will be youth football-themed, and youth football players from Pop Warner, NFL FLAG, and local teams will represent various NFL clubs in their individual markets during pick selections.

Here is a sampling of special team announcements during Day 3 of the NFL Draft:

  • Arizona Cardinals – Ten season ticket members will join cheerleaders and Big Red, the team’s mascot, to announce picks from the GRAND CANYON.
  • Chicago Bears – Bears running back JORDAN HOWARD and military personnel will make selections from the team’s headquarters at HALAS HALL.
  • Cleveland Browns – Former Browns player JOSH CRIBBS and season ticket members, along with alumni, will announce picks from CEDAR POINT AMUSEMENT PARK.
  • Denver Broncos – Military members and NFL legends will make selections from PIÑON CANYON MANEUVER SITE.
  • Houston Texans – Astronauts at the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION AND SPACE CENTER will announce picks for the first time from outer space.
  • Indianapolis Colts – Colts defensive end KENDALL LANGFORD will make picks from the INDIANAPOLIS ZOO, along with staff personnel.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Picks will be announced from LONDON and JACKSONVILLE.
  • Kansas City Chiefs – Service members will make picks from the WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE.
  • New York Jets – Children of fallen EMT Yadira Arroyo will announce Day 3 selections from EMT HOUSE 26.
  • Philadelphia Eagles –  Actor MORRIS CHESTNUT and CNBC’s JIM CRAMER will make picks from the NFL DRAFT THEATER.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers – Actor MILO VENTIMIGLIA, actress MANDY MOORE, current players, and members of a local youth football team will announce selections from HEINZ FIELD.
  • San Francisco 49ers – Country music singer JON PARDI will make picks from LEVI’S STADIUM.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – General JOSEPH VOTEL, Commander of the United States Central Command, will announce selections from the team’s headquarters at ONE BUCANNEERS PLACE.
  • Washington Redskins – Actor MICHAEL EALY will make picks with fans from FEDEX FIELD.

Special team announcements for Day 3 will be broadcast in Philadelphia throughout the NFL Draft Experience presented by Dannon® Oikos® Triple Zero, the league’s largest free football festival taking place along Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Fans may also view Day 3 pick announcements on NFL Draft live platforms – such as NFL.com, the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile), NFL Now, the NFL app on Xbox One and Windows 10, and Yahoo! Sports – as well as on ESPN. NFL Network will also feature select picks live on NFL Network Draft programming.

Fans can watch NFL Network digitally through Watch NFL Network on tablets, PCs and various connected TV devices (NFL.com/watch), with participating television providers. Select teams will also live stream local pick announcements on their websites and social media. Get full audio coverage of the 2017 NFL Draft live with Westwood One, TuneIn, and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

FB-PicMatt Phillips is the UK’s premier voice on the the NFL Draft. As the founder of 40 Yards Scouting, and ukdraftguide.com, the 4th edition of Europe’s only scouting guide to the 2017 NFL Draft was published earlier this month. Every eligible draft prospect has been individually scouted, and all proceeds go to Muscular Dystrophy UK.

download @mattphillips78


Zach Johnson/Guard, North Dakota State

Yet another well coached and technically sound offensive line talent to have graduated from Fargo, North Dakota whose high level of play yet again this season saw him rightly named to the FCS AllAmerican team by his opposing coaches. A tough, physically strong lineman who will shift inside from his college tackle spot, who will excel in the ‘phone booth’, best suited for a power-based scheme at the next level. While his lack of quickness and ability to move freely up and down the offensive line mean that he cannot remain on the exterior, the former Bison plays with an outstandingly strong anchor and wide base and a nasty, ‘thou shall not pass’ approach that has prevented the cream of defensive line talent in the FCS in being able to move him off his spot. Be sure to see him slot into an NFL offensive line right away and be an important cog on Sundays.


Matt Dayes/Running Back, North Dakota State

Few in what is an outstandingly deep and talented class at the position, can match the former Wolfpack rusher’s ability to create his own yardage after contact. In fact, Dayes gained an outstanding 47% of his career total after initial contact, one of the most reliable traits in projecting next level traits and future success at the position. The ACC standout runs with impressive leverage, staying close to the ground, keeping his pads low and the strength that belies his smaller stature, with a refusal to go to the ground, needing to be gang tackles to be brought to a halt. He has already proven his durability to carry a heavy load and plays the position with excellent vision and awareness. Continually impressive whenever watching NC State yet again this season who receives very little attention in draft media circles.


Austin Carr/Wide Receiver, Northwestern

The former Wildcat has simply been the finest wide receiver in the Big-Ten this season, a reliable, consistent presence for quarterback Clayton Thorston. Technically impressive, Carr stands out with his innate ability to feel where his passer needs him most and consistently makes himself available. A crisp route runner, the senior exploits soft areas of coverage and gets himself open, breaking off his route and sitting down on a consistent basis. Carr will certainly find a role at the next level and be a trusted presence to keep the chains moving, aided by his glue-like sticky hands.


Caleb Brantley/Defensive Tackle, Florida

Despite being a consistently disruptive thorn in the side of SEC offences once again this season, it is with much surprise that the former Gator is largely being overlooked. It is his explosive burst off the snap and his on-field awareness that continually catch the eye and affected the course of a number of contests thanks to his highly active style of play and relentless competitiveness. Brantley’s burst and explosion off the snap, aligned with his impressive leverage and power allow him to get the edge on his opposite number and when double teamed he simply uses his intelligent hand use to swipe away blocker and spilt them to knife his way into the backfield with impressive quickness. Tough to move from his spot at the point of attack, Brantley is also a reliable force against the run and projects perfectly to playing the 3-technique role inside in a 4-3 front at the next level.


Cameron Sutton/Cornerback, Tennessee

Without his injury struggles during his career, Sutton would be receiving much greater attention in the lead up to the NFL Draft. A hugely competitive, pumped up corner with the swagger that I like to see at such a tough position to succeed, is rarely beaten in both man and zone coverage, deep down the sideline or inside. Limited to just 3 appearances this past season, the former Volunteer bounced back with an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl that highlighted his versatility. Additionally, Sutton is a dangerous kick and punt returner, his special teams nous will be hugely attractive as will his versatility that makes him a fit for all thirty two teams at the next level and the size to go with it. The corner is going to fall far below his worth and represents a steal later this month.


40-yards-bannerIf you enjoyed this article, you can find scouting reports on all of the draft-eligible prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Guide, which is just £5 with all proceeds donated to charity.

Click here to look inside, and find our reader reviews: www.ukdraftguide.com