The 2020 NFL Draft will be held in a sports vacuum unlike anything we have ever seen before. The draft – which was moved from a grand Las Vegas event to a bunch of teams drafting from war rooms that we can only assume are in the owners’ basements – does at least give sports fans something to watch and look forward to at a time where there isn’t much of anything going on. This is abundantly clear by the amount of money being wagered on the draft by sports bettors with nothing else to throw their money at.
The premier players that made the 2019 college football season such a delight will find their names called over the next few days. We have already picked out some athletes who will make a difference in the NFL – the likes of Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Chase Young. However, here are three more premier players to watch out for (in our eyes) over the course of the draft.
Lynn Bowden – WR – Kentucky
Lynn Bowden was a high school quarterback that was about to break out as a wide receiver for Kentucky this season before injuries at QB forced him back to his old position. Bowden is a dynamic Swiss army knife of a premier player that – in the right system – will be a machine. He is a player that will take on any role to help his team win and even at the NFL level he will be one of the more dangerous mismatches on the field wherever he lines up.
Jordan Love – QB – Utah State
Love is a premier player who has polarized draft experts through this whole process. His best fit will be with a team where he can sit for a year and learn – maybe the New Orleans Saints? – before exploding onto the scene in his second year as a pro. Love led the entire Football Bowl Subdivision in interceptions last year, but his upside is huge and there is going to be a team that falls in love with Love and his unique skill set that features elite athleticism for the position.
Kenneth Murray – LB – Oklahoma
Watching an Oklahoma game last year when their defense was on the field was basically like watching The Kenneth Murray Show. Murray is a beast of an athlete – he has those long arms that scouts love and runs a 4.52 40-yard-dash at 6’2″ and 245 pounds – and he would be a scheme fit for any number of defenses looking for a tackling machine with unlimited range. If explosive, play-making linebackers are your thing – and they should be – then watch where Murray goes on draft day as he will be in impact player from this first snap in the league.
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With the sporting world having pretty much shut down due to COVID -19 – marble racing and premier league soccer in Belarus not withstanding – it is important to look forward to some event that can bring some sense of normalcy back to the sporting calendar. The NFL have confirmed that the 2020 NFL Draft will be going ahead as scheduled, though the event will be held remotely instead of in Las Vegas as was originally planned. This means we can look forward to seeing where the next wave of premier players in the NFL will (eventually) be taking their talents and there is no player in this draft better than Ohio State Buckeyes superstar Chase Young.
Young – an EDGE rusher in NFL terms – may not be the first player selected in this draft because of the value that NFL teams put on elite quarterbacks. That is why the likes of LSU QB Joe Burrow and Alabama passer Tua Tagovailoa may well be chosen before Young. If we were to draft purely on talent, production, and fit at the NFL level, however, there is no doubt that this premier player would be the first one snatched off of the 2020 board.
Young has the prototypical build of an EDGE rusher in the modern game. He stands at 6-foot-5 and 264 pounds. He has explosive speed off of the edge that shows in every game tape that you will watch of this premier player, though with individual workouts curtailed by the pandemic we will not see a recent 40-yard-dash time from Young after he decided his tape did enough talking for him and he skipped the drills/workouts portion of the combine.
Young is an immediate impact kind of player. He will not take a year of seasoning and study to become the kind of game-changing player that he was in college. This is a guy that spent most of the last two seasons facing double and triple teams on a down-by-down basis and was still productive enough to take over games. In 12 starts in 2019 he led the FBS with 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles as a player who knows not only how to get to the quarterback, but also how to create a momentum shifting turnover with his sacking technique.
Young finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season – exceptionally high for a defensive player – and he can work as either a stand up rusher or with his hand in the dirt. The best pass rushing prospect of the last decade (at least), Young is a game wrecker who knows how talented he is and who backs it up every time out on the field.
The country is going to need a new breed of premier players to get behind after this crisis and inject life and energy into sports as they resume. Young is one of those stars poised to breakout at the next level whenever sports begin again.
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Sports are an essential escape to the sometimes mundane march of everyday life. That is why the shutting down of sports as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has been so hard for people to take. At a time where sports are needed to lift us emotionally, they are gone.
While the premier leagues in many sports will not return for an undisclosed period of time – albeit a period which doesn’t seem likely to be any time soon – there is one premier competition that is looking to get set up and bring sports to the American public as soon as this April.
The Big3 is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that gained some traction last year as the premier competition of its type in the country. Big3 executives Josh Kwatinetz and Ice Cube have been in the entertainment business for over 30 years and they see both the opportunity to create something for themselves and – more importantly – a chance to entertain people in a way they think will help with everything the world is currently going through.
Their concept is certainly intriguing. Essentially the tournament would take place in a quarantined house somewhere in the LA area with 16 to 22 players involved. These players – who would only be allowed in after testing negative for Coronavirus – would then take place in something that would be part reality TV show and part premier competition for 3-on-3 basketball.
The Big Brother meets Big3 concept would have to pass some hurdles given the shelter-in-place order that has been announced in California, but the prospect of live sports is one that any American that enjoys competition would be happy to hear. The league lowered its age limit for its regular season from 27 to 22 in January and it would be very interesting to see which players would sign up and take part in a format that would – if this goes as reported – feature seven rounds of games with a player being eliminated after losing three times.
It is a watch-this-space situation – as is the entire sports world – but the sooner we can get sports back on TV (health permitting of course) the better.
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The 2020 NBA All-Star Game was always going to be about Kobe Bryant. This is exactly how it should be after one of the premier players of any sport, anywhere, tragically passes away weeks before the biggest talents of the game gather for a showdown.
However, the 2020 NBA All-Star Game was also a show of the power of basketball and the power of sports in general. This was a real game down the stretch – more on that in a moment – and not the free scoring shotfest that the All-Star game has sometimes been in recent years.
There was no more fitting a tribute to Bryant – a man who thought winning the exhibition All-Star Game was as important as a playoff win – than the fact this game was played (in the fourth quarter at least) like it really mattered. It was a game that raised $500,000 and counting for local charities based on which team won each quarter, and it was the first game where the NBA has used a novel scoring system down the stretch that its premier players seemed to all embrace instantaneously as the fourth quarter went on.
This scoring system – known as the Elam system – set the final quarter to be a race to 157. The score was calculated by adding 24 (Kobe’s number) to the score that the leading team had entering the fourth quarter. It is a scoring system that literally anyone who has ever played a team sport, where points are counted, can endorse. How many games of flag football between friends have been drifting along until the magic call of “first to five wins” is made. At that point, everyone playing becomes ultra-competitive and the game matters.
That is what happened in this NBA All-Star Game as the teams ramped up down the stretch to the point that coaches were challenging replays and players were caring about every foul. Kobe would have LOVED this environment and he would have thrived in the pressure of such a game. It helped that the Chicago crowd were into the contest from the minute the tributes to the great Laker ended, finishing by barely sitting down from the middle of the third quarter onwards.
Sometimes we forget how sports – and certain athletes – can bring people together on a local, national, and global scale. Sunday night in Chicago was all the proof we needed to remind us of that.
Article by Premier Players