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CFB News of the Week: 4/2/21

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Texas LB Juwan Mitchell enters transfer portal

Even seemingly exciting hires cannot retain every recruit from previous regimes. Though Texas seems to be doing quite well on the recruiting path since the arrival of Steve Sarkisian as HC, a small handful of players from the Tom Herman era are headed out for new opportunities.

LB Juwan Mitchell is among that group. With Mitchell, it is not a case of a young player worried they could get stuck low on the depth chart. Mitchell played plenty last season, racking up a team-high 62 tackles (4.5 for a loss).

Mitchell did at least take the time to think this over, though. At the very start of the coaching carousel, Mitchell entered the portal in January before ultimately deciding to stick around for a bit. A few months have now passed and Mitchell apparently still sees it fit to head out for a new school, for whatever reason.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound LB will have two years of eligibility wherever he ends up. Mitchell also still has a redshirt to burn, in the event that he needs to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules.

LSU WRs at Pro Day

As seems to regularly be the case with LSU over the past decade, the Tigers have two legit NFL WRs in this class. Both of them — Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall — ran a 4.38 40-yard dash time at their pro days, which is a pretty stellar time for both of them given their size.

Chase, of course, stole the show with the rest of his testing. At 6-foot, 208-pounds, Chase leaped 41 inches in the vertical and 132 inches in the broad. Both marks rank exactly at the 95th percentile for WR prospects, per NFL Combine testing since 1999. And while 40-yard dash times can be fudged at pro days, it is more reasonable to assume jumps are what they are.

In the case of Chase, that feels especially true. Chase’s game is predicated on how well he bursts up the field once the ball is in his hand, as well as how consistently he can climb the ladder to find the ball in the air. It should come as zero surprise that Chase tested as explosive as he did.

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Florida TE Kyle Pitts blazes 40-yard dash

There have been a lot of absurd 40-yard dash times this year. Some of that is because there is no standardized testing at the NFL Combine, some of that could be that this is a legitimately special class in terms of speed. Whatever it may be, no 40-yard dash time this year was more absurd than Florida TE Kyle Pitts running a 4.44.

Pitts is 6-foot-6 and 245-pounds. He is a fully-built, legitimate tight end prospect. Since 1999, only four tight ends have run faster times at the NFL Combine than Pitts did at his pro day. Only two of those four were at least 6-foot-3 and 240-pounds: Arkansas’ Matt Jones and Maryland’s Vernon Davis. Moreover, Jones was not really a tight end, but a huge wide receiver who was potentially being reclassified as a tight end. That leaves only Davis — one of the best tight ends of the modern era and an all-time special athlete — as the only real comparison for that Pitts did at his pro day.

Mix that kind of raw speed together with everything Pitts showed on tape as a receiver, blocker, and ball-carrier, and it is very easy to see how he could be a top-eight pick despite tight ends often not being valued that high.

Justin Fields runs in 4.40 range at Pro Day

Just a couple weeks ago, Ohio State’s Justin Fields torched a reported 4.41 40-yard dash time at a personal workout. Personal workouts bring even more skepticism than a pro day might, which is why many were waiting for his pro day to more comfortably bill Fields as a legit 4.40-range kind of runner.

Fields proved exactly what he needed to at Ohio State’s pro day. Though a hair slower, Fields torched a 4.44 40-yard dash time, making him one of the fastest quarterbacks to ever run, and one of the only first-round players to fall below the 4.50 mark.

Even with some fair adjustments for a pro day time, what Fields did is still absurd. Kicking Fields’ time up to, say, a 4.55 would still be a little bit faster than the average RB or S time at the NFL Combine, and comfortably faster than the average LB time over that span.

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence will not attend NFL Draft

For a few reasons, it makes perfect sense that Trevor Lawrence would not feel the need to go to the NFL Draft.

On a surface level, it is hard to blame any player for wanting to skip an unnecessary event while COVID is still around. Lawrence will still be holding some sort of get-together with close friends and family at Clemson facilities, but it is a lot more reasonable to prefer that to any new potential exposure and extra travel.

Lawrence is also still nursing the shoulder he recently has surgery on. Not that there would be any risk of him somehow injuring it at the NFL Draft, but there’s no reason to do all this extra out-and-about stuff while trying to heal an injury. It makes sense that he would want to remain as mellow as possible for the time being.

Lastly, Lawrence knows where he is being picked. Lawrence will be a Jacksonville Jaguar. There is no mystery. Part of going to the NFL Draft and being in the green room is the excitement of not knowing exactly who is going to draft you and getting to go on stage with a jersey from one’s new team, but Lawrence would get no such excitement. Everything about his draft night is already a certainty.

@GzeroSports

Gzero NewsWire

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