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Draft King Analysis
October 19, 2013
Lou Pickney,

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at

There is an excerpt from the upcoming book League of Denial on SI's website, and I highly recommend that you at least read this page, which provides some grim revelations about the early days of CTE discovery and tau protein and the reaction from the NFL. And when I write early days, I mean 2008. Not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but a crucial turning point in the handling of concussions and brain injuries and the like.

Also, if you missed the PBS documentary of the same name (that ESPN infamously backed out of late in the process) I strongly recommend it. You can watch it online here. One word of caution: prepare to feel angry after you watch it.

One of the more curious storylines that has developed for the 2014 NFL Draft is how now-former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla will factor into it. Lyerla left the Oregon program earlier this month and announced his plans to go pro. It seemed fitting, particularly considering how vocal of a critic that he had been of the NCAA's dodgy amateurism rules, for him to close up shop and prepare for life in the NFL.

But then the whispers that had been surrounding Lyerla going back to his days of being recruited out of high school ramped up big-time, with some vague references to certain problems mentioned by several people on my Twitter feed popping up more and more. Then, earlier this week, Jeff Risdon wrote a very detailed article that outlined many of the good and bad things that people had to say about Lyerla. It also made the ridiculous and potentially libelous assertion that Tyrann Mathieu and Janoris Jenkins are "notorious drug addicts" which to me took a degree of credibility from the piece.

It was interesting to see the names Mike Williams (Syracuse version) and Marquess Wilson mentioned as guys who "quit" their respective college teams. What wasn't mentioned, but should have been, is that, like Lyerla, all three left after a regime change where there was a new coach in place. And while current Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich was the offensive coordinator when Lyerla was brought in, there is quite a difference between being an assistant and being the boss.

And, yes, there were some still-unanswered absences by Lyerla during the Chip Kelly era, and there are complexities to his story that clearly will be questioned by NFL teams. How will it play out? As always, time will tell.

The sense of vetting NFL prospects like they're presidential candidates drives me crazy. They get poked and prodded and scrutinized and criticized, both by objective observers and those with ulterior motives alike. The idea that because Lyerla is headstrong and unapologetically independent that he should be on some sort of NFL black list bothers me, in part because those are qualities that are apt descriptions of me as well.

My hope is that Lyerla will show up to the 2014 NFL Combine in fantastic shape, make a positive impression in his team interviews, and then tear things up in the NFL. He has the physical tools to do some great things on the pro level, and I hope that he will.

In another great Friday night college football game last night, UCF rallied from a 28-7 third-quarter deficit on the road to knock off previously unbeaten Louisville 38-35. Despite the loss, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater looked great, making pinpoint passes and quickly surveying the field and reading through his progressions and continuing to look the part as the top 2014 draft-eligible QB prospect.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if Florida State redshirt freshman Jameis Winston were 2014 draft-eligible, as the Bridgewater vs. Winston debate would be spirited. But don't worry about Winston -- he's my early favorite for being the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. As for now, Florida State has a young, top-tier talent under center, and seeing Winston's FSU team tonight at Clemson against their star QB, Tajh Boyd, it should be outstanding. I've blocked off my Saturday night to watch it, and I recommend that you do what you can to watch it as well. Should be great.

Props to the players at Grambling State for refusing to tolerate what they consider to be substandard treatment and conditions in taking a stand and refusing to play at Jackson State today. Would have loved it if they could have somehow worked in the #APU (All Players United) effort that the power brokers of college football squashed after one week, but whatever the reason good for the Grambling guys for having the courage of their convictions.

As for the mock on here, an update is coming soon. It will be a bit strange moving the Giants way up the board into a high draft position since you have to go back to the infamous 2004 Draft with the Eli Manning/Philip Rivers trade to the last time the Giants picked in the top five, but at 0-6 as of this writing, it's a distinct possibility for the 2014 NFL Draft. Most of the top guys are still relatively stable in the mix, though the question marks surrounding several of the top defensive back prospects seem to have become a bit more pronounced.


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