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UCF’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects led by Ryan O’Keefe, Davonte Brown

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With just a single sixth-round pick last April, the UCF Knights had their least successful draft haul since the barren 2016 class. Can the 2023 NFL Draft see a more substantial influx of Knights to the NFL? We take an early look at the top UCF prospects to watch out for in the upcoming college football season.

UCF prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

While Gus Malzahn’s first season at the UCF helm saw a return to bowl success, only defensive lineman Kalia Davis capitalized with a selection in the NFL draft. However, a mixture of home-grown talent and several standouts snatched from the transfer portal has the potential for UCF to have more of a presence in the 2023 NFL Draft. Which UCF prospects should you keep an eye out for when watching the Knights this fall?

Ryan O’Keefe, WR

Ryan O’Keefe was comfortably the go-to guy of the UCF offense last fall, snagging 84 receptions for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. He also showcased his playmaking versatility with 274 rushing yards and a score. The UCF wide receiver is a genuine speedster who has the burst and agility to be an elusive threat in the short and intermediate game. However, he also has twitch to separate on deep routes and has an alluring combination of strong hands and toughness beyond his 5’10”, 175-pound frame.

Davonte Brown, CB

When the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around, there is every chance that cornerback Davonte Brown will be UCF’s top defensive prospect. At 6’2″ and 185 pounds, he has good size to play outside at the NFL level. More importantly, he possesses the length to be an impact-maker at the catch point against even the biggest wide receivers. Brown already boasts experience playing both press man and zone coverage for the Knights. He’s also shown the burst and speed to impact the passing game by penetrating the backfield.

Matthew Lee, C

After an uncertain start to his UCF career, center Matthew Lee has developed into a key component of the Knights’ offensive line. At 6’4″ and 295 pounds, he has a slender frame that could see him classed as undersized by NFL teams. Yet, he has a strong lower body that helps create impressive amounts of power at the point of attack. Meanwhile, he demonstrates good hand usage, with accurate placement and timing, allowing him to be on the attack. Look for him to elevate his 2023 NFL Draft stock with a strong showing.

Divaad Wilson, S

A former four-star recruit who made his way to UCF via Georgia, Divaad Wilson is a key returner for the upcoming college football season. He’s transitioned from cornerback to safety during his time with the Knights, putting his ability to lay the boom to excellent use as a downhill enforcer. While he has the physicality to leave his mark on his opponent, he showcases impressive click-and-close speed. If he can improve on some aspects of his tackling in space, he could realize that high school potential as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect.

Isaiah Bowser, RB

It might surprise many who associate UCF with high-powered aerial offenses, but their best 2023 NFL Draft prospect may well be running back Isaiah Bowser. Despite missing five games last fall, he tallied 703 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. At 6’1″ and 225 pounds, Bowser has excellent size at the RB position, putting that to good use as a physical blocker and lowering his shoulder into contact. Additionally, he boasts excellent agility with eye-popping cut moves. Meanwhile, he demonstrates receiving ability out of the backfield.

Ryan Swoboda, OT

Transfer portal additions don’t come much bigger than former Virginia offensive tackle Ryan Swoboda. The man-mountain measures in at 6’10” and is projected to be UCF’s starting right tackle for the upcoming college football season. Although players of his height often struggle with pad level and balance, Swoboda actually displays decent balance. He is explosive off the snap and owns excellent footwork. Furthermore, he’s a decent technician who can use his hands well to neutralize his opponent.

Kemore Gamble, TE

It only took five years, but Kemore Gamble finally emerged as a genuine pass-catching threat for Florida last fall. Following the most productive season of his career — 414 yards, 13.4 yards per catch, four touchdowns — Gamble entered the transfer portal, landing with UCF. The 6’4″, 243-pound TE displays solid straight-line speed, ball-tracking skills, and a good pair of hands. Although not an elite athlete, he left several defensive players with broken ankles last year with nice open field moves for after-the-catch yardage.

Samuel Jackson, G

A sixth-year senior with excellent experience, Samuel Jackson is a versatile offensive line prospect for UCF in the 2023 NFL Draft. The 6’6″, 325-pound linemen has seen snaps at all four guard and tackle spots during his career, with 13 starts at RT last season. Jackson’s experience shows up in his football IQ, with the ability to diagnose and react to stunts and twists. While he shows some alluring technical upside as a pass protector, he does his best work as a run blocker, manipulating his opponent with powerful hands.

Tylan Grable, OT

The bookends of the UCF offensive line will be manned by transfer portal additions and potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects. While Swoboda provides intrigue with his size, the fascination with Tylan Grable begins with his football journey. A former high school QB, he transitioned to TE, then OT for Jacksonville State before entering the portal ahead of the upcoming college football season.

Grable has already proven dominant at the FCS level and even in action against FBS opposition last fall. He’s still developing at the position, but there’s a ton of upside. He owns great height at 6’7″, weaponized by impressive length. Furthermore, he’s an exceptional athlete with light feet, outstanding first-step explosion, and the flexibility to negate some of the waist-bending issues that taller, slender offensive tackles can have.

Lokahi Pauole, G

Completing the UCF offensive line prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft, Lokahi Pauole might be one of the most fun guards you’ll watch this college football season. The 6’4″, 305-pound prospect loves nothing more than putting his opponent in the dirt, with his game sometimes verging on the reckless. However, he’s more than good old-fashioned strength and violence. Pauole has shown good explosion off the snap and adequate speed. If he could work on his timing in motion, he can seriously elevate his NFL draft stock this fall.

Johnny Richardson, RB

While Bowser led the running back room in terms of carries and touchdowns, junior running back Johnny Richardson was the standard-bearer with 733 rushing yards at seven yards per carry. Although he’ll likely play second fiddle to his teammate this fall, he could establish himself as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect with whatever opportunity he receives. The 5’7″, 170-pound RB is a dynamic speed threat that is difficult to bring down on first contact. With receiving upside and special-teams experience, he’s a dangerous prospect.

Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste, LB

A do-it-all linebacker for UCF, Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste tallied 51 tackles, including 6 1/2 for loss, with one interception and a forced fumble in 2021. The 6’2″, 225-pound WILL should see a larger role this fall, having made five starts last season. He’s demonstrated that he can take on much bigger offensive linemen and prevail with the handwork and competitive toughness to shed blocks and make a play on the ball. A vocal leader on the field, Jean-Baptiste also offers one-on-one training camps with kids during the summer.

Tre’mon Morris-Brash, LB

After tallying nine tackles for loss and four sacks last fall, Tre’mon Morris-Brash is expected to take a leap as a defensive leader this season. The 6’2″, 245-pound edge rusher boasts all the athletic upside to earn consideration as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect. Showcasing good burst and ample straight-line speed, Morris-Brash can impact the backfield whether playing with his hand in the ground or stood up. If he can add some finesse to his athleticism and lower-body power, he could elevate his stock as a genuine force in the AAC.

Quadric Bullard, S

It doesn’t matter who you are; Quadric Bullard will hit you … and hard. Just ask coach Malzahn who suffered an injured knee last season when the UCF safety accidentally collided with him during a celebration. There are plenty of non-accidental collisions on the 6’0″, 170-pound safety’s tape. Bullard has a nose for the ball and flies all over the field in pursuit of it. He showcases impressive speed, timing, and ferocity when coming downhill. Meanwhile, he displays good play recognition to put himself in position to make a play.

Justin Hodges, DB

At 6’2″ and 175 pounds, Justin Hodges is a tall and rangy defensive back with 11 starts at cornerback during his two years at UCF. With 35 tackles (2 1/2 for loss), two sacks, seven pass breakups, and one interception, Hodges has been able to be disruptive in multiple ways. In addition to his natural size advantage, Hodges has excellent length that he uses at the catch point but also to help him shed blocks. The UCF defensive back exhibits a decent athletic profile that helps him be sticky in man coverage.

Other potential UCF prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

  • Kobe Hudson, WR
  • John Rhys-Plumlee, QB/WR
  • Josh Celiscar, DL
  • Keenan Hester, DT
  • Ricky Barber, DT
  • Anthony Montalvo, DT

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.





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First day of Deshaun Watson disciplinary hearing in Delaware concludes, second day set for Wednesday

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The legal team for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson made their case before jointly appointed disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson in Delaware on Tuesday during the first day of a disciplinary hearing.

Opening statements began at 9 a.m. ET, and the second day of the proceedings will commence on Wednesday.

Day 1 of Deshaun Watson disciplinary hearing concludes

The hearings are held in Delaware, and it’s unclear how many days it will take, per a source.

Watson, represented by NFL Players Association outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler and Houston-based attorney Rusty Hardin, has been accused of multiple violations of the NFL personal conduct policy after being sued and settling 20 of 24 civil lawsuits with female massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct. Watson

The NFL investigation, led by senior vice president and special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel, a former Manhattan, NY chief sex crimes prosecutor, is pushing for an indefinite suspension of at least one year, according to league sources.

Watson’s legal team is requesting no punishment or a much lesser sanction based on precedent, evidence, and the slight consequences for NFL owners Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, and Daniel Snyder, according to sources.

This marks the first case heard by Robinson, a former U.S. District Judge now practicing law in Delaware, under a new system after the collective bargaining agreement that was amended two years ago.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection and former first-round draft pick from Clemson reached a confidential settlement with 20 of 24 plaintiffs represented by Houston-based attorney Tony Buzbee. Buzbee has subsequently added the Houston Texans, Watson’s former employer, as a defendant, alleging that they “enabled” his “behavior.”

Robinson is expected to issue a ruling in advance of training camp. One source predicted the ruling could come as soon as within one week after the hearing is completed.

The NFL and the players union have previously attempted to strike a compromise on a settlement of a proposed punishment of Watson, who didn’t play last season and was paid his full $10.54 million salary after requesting a trade from the Texans. However, sources emphasized that they never came close to a deal.

The reasoning from the league behind a potential indefinite suspension, as the NFL imposed in the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal and Ray Rice’s domestic violence case, would be to give them flexibility to potentially impose further discipline in case other allegations of misconduct surfaced. Although no DNA, audio, or video evidence exists in the cases, according to multiple sources, the NFL will use text messages, depositions, and interviews to make its argument.

Under NFL rules governing personal conduct policy matters, Watson has the right to appeal to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The appeal could also be heard by another appointed officer.

When the settlement was reached, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to Pro Football Network that the settlement wouldn’t affect the ongoing league investigation, writing, “Today’s development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.”

Plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee has also filed a lawsuit against the Houston Texans, lawsuit alleging they enabled Watson’s behavior by providing a membership to the Houstonian hotel and spa and giving him a nondisclosure agreement for vendors. The Texans have stated previously they had no knowledge of Watson’s alleged misconduct.

Watson was not charged by two Texas grand juries. He has maintained his innocence throughout the legal process.

“I’ve been honest and I’ve been truthful about my stance and that’s I never forced anyone, I never assaulted anyone,” Watson said during a recent minicamp press conference. “So, that’s what I’ve been saying it from the beginning and I’m going to continue to do that until all the facts come out on the legal side. I have to continue to just go with the process with my legal team and the court of law.”



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Which kicker has scored the most fantasy football points in a single game?

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The role of kickers in fantasy football leagues is becoming much more of a debate, and the recency of our list of the most fantasy football points by a kicker in a single game demonstrates why. With all of the top scores on this list of leading fantasy performances in a single game coming since 2000, it is somewhat clear why the role of kickers is so controversial. With the volatile position able to change a contest, let’s examine which kickers sit among the top 10 for the most fantasy points scored in a single game.

The role of kickers in the NFL and consequently fantasy football has evolved over time. Prior to the merger, kickers were not always specialists and often served other roles. Take George Blanda, for example, who was both a kicker and QB. If we included premerger scores, Blanda would top this list with 36.8 fantasy points. However, the majority of those points would come from his role as a QB.

Therefore, we have set the benchmark for this article at the merger (1970) between the AFL and NFL. That allows us to keep the scoring consistent across the position as well as with the rest of this series of articles. The data for this article comes from Pro Football Reference. The scoring sees 1 point for an extra point, 3 points for field goals, and 2 bonus points for field goals of 50 yards or more.

T-8) Greg Zuerlein | 23 fantasy points

Rams at Cowboys | Week 4 | Oct. 1, 2017

Greg Zuerlein’s reputation as a kicker has earned him the nicknames “Greg the Leg” and “Legatron.” His best performance from a fantasy perspective came in Week 4 of the 2017 season. Zuerlein was a perfect 9 for 9 as he scored seven field goals and kicked two extra points. Zuerlein scored 23 of the Rams’ 35 points as they defeated the Cowboys 35-30.

T-8) Jeff Wilkins | 23 fantasy points

Rams vs. Chargers | Week 5 | Oct. 1, 2000

The oldest performance on this list also makes it back-to-back appearances from Rams players. Wilkins spent 11 years with the Rams and played 171 games, but his best performance came in 2000. Wilkins’ performance was more balanced than Zuerlein’s as he kicked five field goals and six extra points. One of those field goals was also over 50 yards.

T-8) Blair Walsh | 23 fantasy points

Vikings vs. Giants | Week 16 | Dec. 27, 2015

Unlike Wilkins and Zuerlein, Blair Walsh was not perfect in this 2015 performance. However, with five field goals and going 4 of 5 on extra points, he also posted 23 fantasy points. Despite just nine kicks, two were from more than 50 yards, giving Walsh 23 points and having him tie for eighth on this list of the most fantasy points by a kicker in a single game.

T-8) Jason Sanders | 23 fantasy points

Dolphins at Jets | Week 14 | Dec. 8, 2019

This performance on the list has a very different look to it. Jason Sanders scored all 21 points for the Dolphins in this game as he made 7 of 8 attempts. Included in that was a 53-yard field goal to give him 23 fantasy points for the game.

T-6) Blair Walsh | 24 fantasy points

Vikings at Rams | Week 15 | Dec. 16, 2012

Walsh makes his second appearance on our list of the most fantasy points by a kicker in a single game. In this game, Walsh kicked three extra points and five field goals for 18 of the Vikings’ 36 points. With three field goals of 50 or more, Walsh finished the game with 24 fantasy points.

T-6) Jason Myers | 24 fantasy points

Jets vs. Colts | Week 6 | Oct. 14, 2018

Jason Myers kicked a combined 10 field goals and extra points as the Jets prevailed 42-34 over the Colts. Myers had three extra points and seven field goals to score a total of 24 fantasy points.

T-3) Cairo Santos | 25 fantasy points

Chiefs at Bengals | Week 4 | Oct. 4, 2015

In a game where the Bengals’ defense blunted the Chiefs’ offense, Cairo Santos provided all of the scoring for Kansas City. Santos kicked seven field goals, two from more than 50 yards, to finish with 25 fantasy points in this Week 4 contest.

T-3) Stephen Gostkowski | 25 fantasy points

Titans at Vikings | Week 3 | Sept. 27, 2020

Stephen Gostkowski is best known for his time with the New England Patriots. However, his appearance on this list of the most fantasy points by a kicker in a single game came while he played for the Titans. Gostkowski had one extra point and six field goals as the Titans won 31-30. Three of those field goals were from over 50 yards to leave Gostkowski with 25 fantasy points.

T-3) Billy Cundiff | 25 fantasy points

Cowboys at Giants | Week 2 | Sept. 15, 2003

Billy Cundiff was a key contributor in the Dallas Cowboys’ 35-32 victory over the New York Giants. He kicked two extra points and went 7 for 8 on field goals in a fantastic performance. One of those field goals came as time expired in the fourth quarter to tie the game before another in overtime won the game for Dallas. Cundiff’s game-tying field goal was a 52-yarder, giving him 25 fantasy points.

2) Jay Feely | 27.5 fantasy points

Cardinals vs. Broncos | Week 14 | Dec. 12, 2010

Jay Feely finds himself second on the list of the most fantasy points by a kicker in a single game thanks to being the only player on the list to score some of his points by finding the end zone. Feely actually scored six consecutive times in this game against the Broncos.

Five of them were field goals, with a five-yard rush and subsequent extra point in the middle. Feely would kick another three extra points as the Cardinals ran out 43-13 victors. He finished with five field goals, four extra points, five rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown for 27.5 fantasy points.

Which kicker has scored the most fantasy points in a single game?

1) Rob Bironas | 28 fantasy points

Titans at Texans | Week 7 | Oct. 21, 2007

Rob Bironas is the kicker that tops our list with the most fantasy points in a single game. The performance came in a 38-36 victory for the Titans over the Texans, with Bironas kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired. Bironas would kick a total of eight field goals — two of more than 50 yards — and two extra points. He finishes atop this list with 28 fantasy points in Week 7 of the 2007 season.



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Why Commanders WR Terry McLaurin’s three-year contract extension stands out

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The financial windfall for elite wide receivers continues to unfold. The Washington Commanders struck a three-year, $71 million contract extension with wide receiver Terry McLaurin, according to league sources. The contract was negotiated by agents Buddy Baker and Tony Bonagura of Exclusive Sports along with Commanders executive Rob Rogers.

Terry McLaurin, Commanders agree to three-year extension

Per a source, 76% of McLaurin’s deal is guaranteed at signing, including a $28 million signing bonus.

McLaurin is one of the top young wide receivers in the NFL. The Commanders standout skipped minicamp after previously choosing to not attend voluntary organized team activities.

Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, McLaurin was originally due a $2.79 million base salary. Now, he’s netted a huge payday.

McLaurin has done everything the Commanders could have hoped for. Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters at minicamp he understands what the former Ohio State standout is doing and expressed confidence that something would ultimately be worked out.

Now, it has.

McLaurin had 1,053 yards and five touchdowns last season on 77 receptions. He’s incredibly valuable to an offense that’s hoping to revive the career of quarterback Carson Wentz.

This is an extremely positive development for the NFC East franchise. They’ve rewarded one of their top young players and established that they will take care of their homegrown players when they’ve earned a new deal.

This is regarded as a true win-win. The Commanders avoided drama with McLaurin and have taken care of business.



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