Dontavius Russell Jersey

The NFL Draft starts tomorrow night with the first round before Friday night’s second and third rounds air on ESPN. We’ve been looking at some of the guys that’ll be in the mix to be selected and make pro rosters, and now after two wide receivers, we head back to the defensive side of the ball.

When you mention Dontavius Russell, he may not get the highest pub, but there’s certainly a muscle in Jake Fromm’s back that spasms with pain.

A four-year starter at Auburn, Russell became the consistent quiet cog in Rodney Garner’s defensive front. He played in 50 games during his time on the Plains, including 12 as a freshman, before turning into one of the key pieces on the line. With guys around him like Montravius Adams, Derrick Brown, Jeff Holland, Marlon Davidson, and Nick Coe, he was never going to be the flashiest guy on the field. He wasn’t going to be the one making sack after sack and blowing plays up. Russell’s job was to occupy blockers, stuff the holes, and allow everyone else to make plays. He was fantastic at that, and it may end up giving him the best chance to be the first Auburn player off the board.

Anybody that watched Auburn’s defensive line this year knew Russell, but they wouldn’t see him make many plays that show up in the stat sheet. Like Cole Cubelic said in the video above, he wasn’t going to stand out that way, but he was going to allow everyone else to stand out that way.

His size is great, and at 6’3, 319 pounds, he’s got some room to grow horizontally to help fill more of a gap on a professional defensive line. That’s exactly what the analysts think when you look at his draft profile, which gives him a “better-than-average chance to make NFL roster” , but does have suggestions for improvement.

They think that Russell’s biggest bugaboo is his natural inclination to play too upright. Off the snap, he’ll often pop up instead of hitting down low to get leverage, and that’ll neutralize him immediately against a season NFL guard. In addition, there are a couple of small fixes, like inconsistency with hand usage, and a tendency to go hot and cold when it comes to moving through blocks.

However, it’s impossible not to like his size. You can’t teach that, and he’s got room to grow. He’s also a guy that can cause havoc with one victory along the line. We all saw it plenty of times where the running back had to bounce outside because there were bodies strewn across the ground in front of him due to Russell blowing the interior apart. He wouldn’t make the tackle in that situation, but he was the root of the cause for someone else to finish the play.

Gardner Minshew Jersey

In a conference call with Jacksonville media, the QB was asked if he was dismayed that he fell into the third day of the draft – where most had him projected to go anyway.

Minshew responded: “No, man. When I was a little kid, if you’d told me I was getting picked in the NFL draft, I don’t care if it’s the first pick or the last pick. I’m getting picked. That’s such a blessing.”

The QB watched the draft at home in Brandon with a small group of friends and family members, wearing his signature jorts as he played cornhole and spike ball in the backyard between picks, according to longtime friend Houston Smith.

Jacksonville’s sixth-round pick arrived at approximately 12:30 p.m. Pacific time. Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell phoned Minshew, asking the QB if he was “ready to move back East?” Minshew replied, “Hell, yeah, let’s do it.”

The pick was announced in appropriate Florida fashion – from a pool at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, by former Jaguars player Damon Jones, the organization’s first tight end to be drafted, and a Jacksonville super fan. Swimsuit-clad Jaguar cheerleaders hollered in the background as the pick was made.

“You made a great impression on us at the combine, and you’ve had a helluva year and bring that energy and preparation to us as vying for a backup quarterback spot,” Caldwell said. “Can you do that?”

“I’ve got you, absolutely,” Minshew said. “Yes, sir.”

Minshew said he had a positive experience in his formal interview with the Jaguars, who many consider to be iffy at the QB position. Jacksonville recently signed Nick Foles to a four-year contract that makes him the Jaguars’ presumptive starter. Minshew, in all likeliness, will vie for backup reps with sixth-year player Cody Kessler, third-year player Tanner Lee and second-year player Alex McGough.

He told reporters he’s eager to dive into the team’s playbook.

“I’m so fired up, that’s one of the first things I told them is, ‘When can I get my hands on that?’ ” Minshew said. “That’s one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to, learning, getting ready and trying to leave that rookie minicamp as best as I can, and then going into OTAs and training camp, being on my P’s and Q’s and not being like a rookie.”

Minshew becomes the 11th Cougar quarterback to be selected in the draft and the second in as many years to come off the board in the sixth round, after Luke Falk was picked by the Tennessee Titans in 2018. Falk was since claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins, meaning both former WSU QBs in the pros will be playing in Florida.

Minshew was the second Cougar to be selected in the 2019 draft, coming off the board two days after his left tackle, Andre Dillard, was picked in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin called Minshew a “gym rat” who looked like he’d been at WSU “forever” while touting his “competitiveness.”

“He’s very smart, he’s very sharp, he loves the game, he loves the study part of the game,” Coughlin said. “He’ll be a great guy in the classroom with the coaches. He’ll suck all that information up.”

Minshew will have to adapt to taking snaps under center, a contrast to the shotgun snaps he took in Mike Leach’s offense and throughout his career, playing in different variations of the Air Raid.

Coughlin suggested that there would be a learning curve, but Minshew has the mental capacity and work ethic to succeed in a pro style offense.

“Does he have to learn some things? Yeah,” Coughlin said. “Because he’s going to be up under the center, he’s not going to stand back there in the shotgun the whole time. But if you were to tell me you don’t think the guy can throw a play-action pass from the tackle box, I don’t believe that. I think he can do that.”

In his lone season at WSU, Minshew led the nation in passing yards per game (397.6) while completing better than 70 percent of his throws for a Pac-12 single-season record 4,779 yards and 38 touchdown passes. His fifth-place Heisman finish was complemented by winning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Minshew, no stranger to the Sunshine State, completed much of his predraft training in Boca Raton, Florida, with well-known QB coach Ken Mastrole. His WSU coach, Leach, has a vacation home in Key West, Florida.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone jokingly told Minshew, “Next time (Leach) is in Key West, he’s going to buy all the drinks.”

Ryquell Armstead Jersey

MILLVILLE – Ryquell Armstead knew from a young age what his life’s calling was.

This week, the 2015 Millville High School graduate will fulfill that destiny.

The NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday and Armstead is fully expected to hear his name called at some point over the next three days of the seven-round event.

The thought of that happening brings a smile to the running back’s face.

“This has been a dream for me since I was 6 years old,” Armstead told The Daily Journal from Millville’s Wheaton Field last week. “Since I was 6, I’ve put on a jersey and strapped up a football helmet. In school when teachers asked you to write down what you want to be when you grow up I always said the NFL, so I’m finally there; it’s been a long process and I’m just grateful.”

From midget league in Millville to his time at Temple University, Armstead has made it impossible not to notice him on the football field.

The 5-foot-10, 220-pound tailback got the nation’s attention in November when he rushed for 210 yards and six touchdowns in Temple’s 59-49 win over Houston.

He finished his senior season with 13 touchdowns and nearly 1,100 rushing yards while averaging 5.2 yards-per-carry.

Armstead impressed again at the NFL Combine in February when he logged a 4.45-seconds 40-yard dash time — second fastest among running backs.

“Ryquell had a strong pre-draft process and is an ascending player right now,” his agent, Ed Wasielewski, said. “He has great hands, is a physical, violent runner who is good in pass protection and possesses both power and speed. He’s as complete of a back as you’re going to find in this draft.”

That’s not just agent talk from Wasielewski.

Armstead has gained steam in recent weeks from plenty of NFL circles.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew recently featured Armstead on the NFL Network in a “Top 5 Toughest RBs in the Draft” segment.

On April 16, Armstead was a guest on the popular “Good Morning Football” talk show where the hosts highlighted his “angry” running style.

Armstead has embraced all of those characterizations and is anxious to prove himself as a pro.

“I see myself as an every-down guy, a guy that’s very unique, that can hit the home run, run between the tackles, block, catch the ball out of the backfield,” Armstead said. “You’re not going to find a guy my size that runs with my type of speed. I see my game translating very smoothly to the NFL. I understand at the next level a lot of things are faster, guys are stronger and bigger, but I have the utmost confidence in myself and what I’m capable of doing.”
Armstead first gained that self-confidence during his time at Millville, where he ran his way into the school record books, including a Thunderbolts single-game best 337 rushing yards.

When talking about the successes that have him on the verge of an NFL career, Armstead is quick to mention his old high school teammates and former coach Jason Durham.

“It’s definitely something that’s stuck with me throughout college, the loyalty, the bond I have with guys that I call my brothers,” Armstead said. “Coach Durham, I still see him around, we still talk, that’s a guy that came to my Temple games and when I get to the next level it will be the same thing, I’ll get him some tickets. All in all, it was truly a great coaching staff and I had great teammates, and I still hang out with some of those guys.”

While others might have doubted Armstead along the way, Durham is one person who never did.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Durham said of Armstead reaching this point. “By his senior year for us he was a really mature young person and it was obvious he had all the talent in the world. I think through this entire process he’s stayed true to himself and showed just how determined he is.”

Durham said he talks to Armstead “every month or two” and sent him a text Tuesday morning.

The former Bolts coach said it was “awesome” that Armstead wanted him to come to an NFL game to watch him play.

“That’s the reason why people get into coaching,” Durham said. “I’d love to go see him play, I’d be excited to do that, but I think the big thing is, and I told him this, is he has a great chance to take care of his family now and he worked hard for that chance.”

Family is very high, if not at that top, of Armstead’s priorities list.

While football is his passion, Armstead called his 3-year-old daughter Ry’kail his world.

Amidst the craze of the draft process, Armstead has made sure not to waver in his duties as a father. The last two weeks have offered some relief and given Armstead a little more time to relax with his daughter and family.

Quincy Williams Jersey

JACKSONVILLE – Quincy Williams didn’t get an invite to the NFL combine. He didn’t have a pro day at Murray State. He didn’t even think he would get drafted, at least not in the third round.

He ended up being Jacksonville’s biggest, maybe boldest, reach in the NFL draft.

The Jaguars chose the 5-fooot-10, 225-pound linebacker – best known for being Alabama star Quinnen Williams’ older brother – with the 98th overall pick during the three-day event. The selection was so surprising that NFL Network couldn’t dig up his highlights immediately.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell spent 10 minutes defending the decision, explaining the team had no fourth-round pick, couldn’t find a trade partner and thought Williams was one of the last linebackers available with “some starter traits.”

Now, given the uncertainty of Telvin Smith’s future in Jacksonville, Williams could end up filling a potential hole in the defense.

Smith is skipping voluntary workouts and hasn’t returned calls from team officials, raising speculation that he could be on the trading block. Caldwell and personnel chief Tom Coughlin denied reports that Smith is available. But Caldwell also stopped short of saying he expects Smith, a Pro Bowl selection in 2017, to be on the roster this fall.

“We’ll see. We’ve got time. Like Coach (Doug) Marrone said, these are all voluntary situations,” Caldwell said. “We’ll see what happens and start a dialogue there. … I don’t want to go into hypothetical situations.”

Williams played in 43 games at Murray State, notching 231 tackles, nine pass breakups and three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

“I’m very confident in my abilities,” he said. “”The biggest thing is me being dependable. My work ethic was huge, too.”

Mark Ellenz, Jacksonville’s director of college scouting, said the pick went from getting panned to getting praised.

“We didn’t take him to make a splash,” Ellenz said. “I know my phone is getting blown up by people and I see the stuff, the bloggers and everything, and they’re like, ‘Who is this kid? What a wasted pick!’

“And then they go and watch his (highlights) and go, ‘Oh, great pick.’ So just be patient with it and let’s see what happens.”

Josh Oliver Jersey

The Kansas City Chiefs have spent a significant amount of time studying tight ends in the 2019 NFL Draft, including San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver. With very little behind an aging Travis Kelce, the need for tight end depth is paramount and someone perhaps can take over for Travis Kelce when the day comes.

Victor Aquino who helps cover San Jose State sports for The Mercury News answered some questions to provide some insight into the Spartan product.

SJS head coach Brent Brennan knew what he had 2 years ago when he first came on that Oliver was NFL-caliber and would be big in the pass game and centralizing the offense around him at times. Oliver really respected what Brennan and staff asked of him and will give kudos to helping him get to the next level.

For the local Sparta community, it was big; mainly because it was the lone bright star for the current hard-luck program. For Oliver, he’s an understated kinda guy, who no doubt was appreciative of the opportunity, but it was business for him out there.

He’s truly a guy who let’s his play do the talking. He’s kinda of a poker-face too, but an intense and very respectful guy. A very telling fact is Oliver went through a full four years of challenges, different coaches and tough seasons. That says a lot in itself.

Josh Oliver is an interesting tight end prospect and could possibly be a Chief on draft day. There is a lot to like about his abilities, but he will need some coaching.

It’s a good thing the Chiefs have quality coaches and a quarterback that knows how to get the ball to open receivers. Oliver is not my favorite tight end prospect for the second round spot, but someone I’d be happy with when the dust settles on the 2019 NFL Draft.

Jawaan Taylor Jersey

Cocoa High and University of Florida product Jawaan Taylor had to endure an unexpected drop in the 2019 NFL Draft on one of the league’s biggest stages.

One of about 20 prospects officially invited to attend the event in Nashville and be introduced on stage, Taylor expected to do that on the first night, Thursday. Alas, he dropped to the second round, the third pick of Friday night, 35th overall.

He went to the team most 2019 NFL Draft analysts had predicted, only a day later.

“I just had to stay patient and just sat back in the green room. I had to come back. I feel like I showed good character and I didn’t want to get out of character,” he said. “It was a little devastating. I just had so much confidence in myself and I had high expectations for myself but you know, it’s a plan that everybody has and God has for me.”

Taylor had been projected to go first among offensive tackles, but four went Thursday night. He seemed to fit with the Jags as a starter for the right tackle spot.

“I met with them at the Combine and met with them during (Florida’s) Pro Day. I even had a private workout with them and a top-30 visit. I felt like the Jaguars had some interest,” Taylor said. “I feel like I can fit anywhere, so whatever team drafted me I felt like I could fit in. I feel like I can fit in Jacksonville, zone, whatever type of run scheme they want to run.”

Taylor came out after his junior season having started games in each of his three seasons in Gainesville, 35 in all. He said he heard Thursday night that past knee problems had worried NFL teams.

“I’m 100 percent healthy. Little things came out before the draft, the night before, it caught me by surprise. I knew I was 100 percent healthy. I just had to be patient.”

Declaring he has something to prove now, he offered a description of his game for Jaguars fans.

“(I’m) very nasty, I’m very aggressive. That’s just how I play football. That’s just how they play the game. I’m going to make sure I’m coming in and work from Day 1. … A guy that loves to win and very passionate and loves the game. I’m just going to bring that every single day.”

His former Cocoa High teammates Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Jamel Dean now wait to be picked.

Family, friends of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson react to Jawaan Taylor, fellow Cocoa & Gators product going to the Jacksonville Jags in 2019 NFL Draft. Craig Bailey, Florida Today.

Josh Allen Jersey

The Jaguars used the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select defensive end Josh Allen out of the University of Kentucky Thursday evening in Nashville, TN. Allen was one of the team’s top five targeted players to draft.

“It means a lot. I am about to go to an organization that really strives to sack the quarterback. That’s what I love to do,” Allen told reporters on a conference call.

Allen considered entering the draft in 2018 but he decided to stay in school instead. He is relieved he made that decision.

“I think about it every day. I would have never been in this situation last year,” he explained. “I decided I am glad I came back to further myself as a person and as a player, as well. I’m just really thankful that I came back and everybody that helped me during this process; I’m forever grateful.”

Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin described Allen (6-5, 262) as an athletic player who can drop in coverage and who rushes the passer. He also referred to Allen as a player who gets on the edge and who has some opportunity for refinement at the professional level. Early indications are that Allen is self-confident too.

“We talked openly on his visit here. We had a real fine visit with him and kidded him of where he was going to go and he said, ‘Well maybe you will have to trade up to get me’ I just reminded him of that one,” Coughlin shared with reporters.“Outstanding young man. A guy who will definitely help our defensive football team and hopefully will continue to get stronger and better on that side of the ball. We have a bunch of picks to work on the rest of the draft.”

There was speculation heading into the draft that the Jaguars would try to bolster their offense by choosing a player such as tight end T.J.Hockenson who was taken by the Detroit Lions with the eighth overall pick. Jaguars’ personnel said all along they would draft the best player available and Coughlin said Allen was too good of a player to pass up.

“He [T.J. Hockenson] was very close up where we were, and they were both were very close, but Allen was a higher thought of player,” Coughlin admitted.

Allen, a Montclair, NJ native, did not miss a game in his four-year career at Kentucky. He played in all 51 games with 35 starts. He totaled 224 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, two FFs and eight passes defensed. During the 2018 season he had a team-high 88 tackles and 17.0 sacks while earning consensus first team All-American honors, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and he was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Award, presented to the country’s top defensive player.

“That was certainly part of it, his ability to play over the course of the entire football game and continue to pressure the passer, even though late in the game – like I said, his ability to rush on either side, his ability to drop and his athleticism, as demonstrated by the combine, etc. as well. A very impressive young man and football player.”

““I have never met him. I have been following him on Instagram. I am a huge fan of him. I have been watching him ever since Maryland. I’m a big fan, but now I am about to be a big teammate to him,” Allen said. “We’re trying to win Super Bowls. I know he is. I know I am. We’re trying to be great.”Allen did hear from Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, whose fifth-year option was exercised on Draft Day. The fourth-year Pro Bowler CB is now under contract with the Jaguars through the 2020 season.

“When he messaged me, it was like a dream come true. I looked up to this dude. Now, it’s like I am his teammate. Now it is more fuel to my fire,” Allen added. “Now I have to prove him why I’m the best player in the draft. Plus, I have to earn the respect of him. I am coming in ready to work, ready to work and ready to keep the culture going. That is the type of MO I’m bringing and [I’m going to] earn the respect of my peers.”

Allen’s work ethic will certainly fit in nicely with the hardworking Jaguars defensive unit.