football Edit

Three-Point Stance: Work to do, conference swaps, NFL Draft

Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with 10 contenders with the most work to do between now and the start of the season, some proposed conference swaps and an NFL Draft stock report.

*****

FACT OR FICTION: Texas fans should be more excited than A&M fans

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals100

RIVALS TRANSFER TRACKER: Stories/coverage | Message board

RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series

*****

1. TEN CONTENDERS THAT ARE WORKS IN PROGRESS

D.J. Uiagalelei
D.J. Uiagalelei (Getty Images)

It’s a long way to the 2021 season, but some programs have more work to do than others during the offseason. Here are the national title contenders that are the biggest works in progress.

1. Alabama — Do I even have to rattle off all of the the players that need to be replaced? I know this is Alabama and the Crimson Tide reload, but this is ridiculous. The good news? Despite the losses of several key players, I think the defense will be much better this season.

2. Florida — With a new quarterback and all new receivers the Gators have a tough job ahead of them to remain as dangerous on offense.

3. Notre Dame Ian Book was solid and needs to be replaced, and the Irish lose some key offensive linemen, but replacing linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah concerns me the most.

4. Georgia — Things looked pretty good for a while there with a lot of the replacements needed in the defensive backfield, but injuries to George Pickens and Jermaine Burton complicate things.

5. ClemsonD.J. Uiagalelei steps in for Trevor Lawrence, and the defense should be improved but losing weapons like Lawrence, Travis Etienne and others isn’t easy.

6. Texas A&MKellen Mond will be missed and the Aggies have to replace several starters on the offensive line, but the defense should be loaded.

7. USCAmon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns will be missed but Alijah Vera-Tucker was easily the best offensive lineman and the Trojans lost some key defensive lineman as well.

8. North Carolina — Losing running backs like Javonte Williams and Michael Carter is rough and Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome are tough to replace as well. The defense has to be better but the loss of Chazz Surratt hurts.

9. TexasSam Ehlinger was up and down but he was a terrific leader and Sam Cosmi and Joseph Ossai were elite talents.

10. Oklahoma — The offense is going to be sick but the Sooners still need to replace Ronnie Perkins on defense as well as Rhamondre Stevenson and Creed Humphrey among others.

*****

2. CONFERENCE SWAP MEET

South Carolina fans
South Carolina fans (Getty Images)

It has been several years since the last round of conference realignment, but there are still programs in Power Five conferences that are clearly better fits for other leagues. It would be fun if conferences could swap programs like NFL teams trade players. Let’s start a letter campaign to make these swaps in the Power Five.

ACC-SEC — The ACC sends Georgia Tech to the SEC so the Jackets can have a prayer when recruiting against Georgia, and that rivalry can mean something and the SEC does the same for South Carolina. Take the Gamecocks out of the SEC and plop them in the ACC so they can recruit and play Clemson in conference. That way the state of Georgia is all SEC and the state of South Carolina is all ACC. Who wins in this exchange? Who cares? Both Georgia Tech and South Carolina have struggled.

Big 12-ACCWest Virginia does not belong in the Big 12. The Mountaineers belong in the ACC despite the conference's snooty take on academics. Let’s trade the Mountaineers to the ACC and get Louisville in the Big 12. That way the Pitt and West Virginia rivalry can become a conference thing and the Big 12 tightens its geographic footprint a bit by sliding west into Kentucky.

Big Ten-ACC — It’s clear to me the Big Ten isn’t a fan of Nebraska the way the Huskers were treated when they stood up and wanted to play football. And Huskers fans were not happy with the way it all shook out in the Big Ten. The Big Ten, in an attempt to hurt the Huskers, could trade them to the ACC for Boston College. It gives the Big Ten more of a Northeast television footprint like they want, BC is a high academic school like the Big Ten likes and the ACC gets another former power struggling to return to prominence. And the joke might be on the Big Ten as Nebraska would have a travel nightmare but could instantly compete it the weakest Power Five conference.

SEC-AAC — This isn’t a Power Five swap but, let’s be real, Vanderbilt hasn’t been a fit in the SEC for a long time and UCF thinks it can play with the big boys in the SEC after the Golden Knights' “national title.” Let’s let Vandy win more games and UCF see if it has what it takes. And this way the Gators can’t duck them.

Big 12-SEC — Let’s trade Missouri and Arkansas back to the Big 12 when they geographically belong and give Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. Maybe then another program can compete in the Big 12 and we can see how well the Sooners do with an SEC schedule. That sounds like fun.

*****

3. STOCK WATCH

Justin Fields
Justin Fields (Getty Images)

Here are several players that are moving up and down draft boards.

MOVING UP

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State — Fields' Pro Day was the best I have seen this year and he’s easily put himself in the top-three conversation.

CB Greg Newsome, Northwestern — Newsome was very impressive with a 4.38 at his Pro Day and he’s moved himself into comfortably in the first round.

C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma — Not only does he have the film but he backed it up at Pro Day. We usually see a center get drafted in the first round, and I think Humphrey is that guy this year.

DE Jaelen Phillips, Miami — His Pro Day was one of the best for a defensive lineman in years according to one scout and he’s shot himself up near the top 10.

DE Jayson Oweh, Penn State — Oweh didn’t have a sack last season but does it matter when you’re 6-foot-5, 257 pounds and run a 4.36? He’s a first-rounder for sure.

RB Michael Carter, North Carolina — Carter will likely be a second rounder but there was talk of him slipping to the third or fourth before his Pro Day performance. Not anymore.

WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss — The forgotten man in this deep receiver class has cemented a spot in the first two rounds with a sub-4.4 time in the 40-yard dash.

LB Micah Parsons, Penn State — Parsons looked freakishly good at his Pro Day and ran a great time. He is clearly LB1 in this draft.

CB Marco Wilson, Florida — Remember him? Forgot the shoe-throwing for a second and focus on his sub-4.4 speed and how he maxed out the vertical. That’s right, he almost knocked it over from the top.

MOVING DOWN

CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech — Opting out of 2020 wasn’t an issue but now, with back surgery and no workout, he could be sliding out of the first round.

WR Devonta Smith, Alabama — Down is relative here. There’s still no way he lasts in the back-half of the first round, but the talk about a lack of size is either real or just draft lies from franchises that covet him.

RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo — He checked in at 5-foot-6 which was shorter than expected. It probably knocked him into the third round.

S Paris Ford, Pitt — Ford ran a disastrous 4.93 40 time and went from a possible third or even second-round selection to likely out of the draft.

RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina — Williams entered his Pro Day ahead of teammate Carter and left it behind him in the minds of many so he could slide to the third round.

DE Patrick Jones II, Pitt — Jones II pulled up lame in his 40 which didn’t help coming off a weak Senior Bowl week.

OL Jackson Carman, Clemson — His arm length puts him inside at the next level which drops his value down to the third round at best. As a tackle he probably would have been a second-rounder.

*****

RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Monday: Five-star countdown

Tuesday: Rivals100 revealed | Gorney's thoughts | Top player at each position

Wednesday: Recruiting updates on offensive players in the ranking | Positions producing the most 2023 talent | Rivals Recruiting Podcast

Thursday: Recruiting updates on defensive players in the ranking | Who is on the cusp of the Rivals100?

Friday: Rankings roundtable

*****