6-Pack Thursday: Free Money, Forgotten Playmakers and GOATs

Photo: Scott Clause/The Advertiser via USA TODAY NETWORK

Its been a week, fam. I put out my updated top-75 Big Board on Friday, a brand new 2019 NFL Mock Draft on Monday and I'm pretty sure there is a warrant out for my arrest in Buffalo, New York after writing about Josh Allen on Tuesday. But we made it and it's time to keep things a bit more loose in this week's 6-Pack.

I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.

Let’s crack this thing open!

New Life For Gamecocks Offense

My scouting trip last weekend took me to Columbia, South Carolina for the Missouri - South Carolina Game. I was really excited to get eyes on the Gamecocks' talented wide receiver prospects, Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel, who have fallen short of expectations early this season. With Redshirt Senior Michael Scarnecchia - a Steve Spurrier recruit - starting in place of Jake Bentley at quarterback, I was hopeful to see more output from Edwards and Samuel. With the bumbling Bentley not in the lineup, I found exactly what I wanted to see.

Edwards hauled in 7 passes for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns in SC's 37-35 win over Missouri. Edwards made big catches on the game-winning drive, showcasing his competitive toughness, physicality and skills to win at the catch point. He was clutch and reliable on third downs and in the redzone to make plays.

Samuel had 4 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown, showcasing his dynamic route running skill set, ability to win in the air and ability to produce after the catch.

Bentley has limited these dudes so much this year. In such a ridiculously deep wide receiver class for 2019, don't overlook the Gamecocks duo because they are potent weapons who project nicely to the NFL.

Underdog I LIKE A LOT: Duke

I don't often do this but when I do, I mean it. Duke +3 at Georgia Tech is an underdog that I like a ton. Why? I'm glad you asked.

  1. Duke is a lot better than Georgia Tech.
  2. David Cutcliffe is an exceptional football coach that leads a disciplined team.
  3. Duke is coming off a bye AND a loss to Virginia Tech. They will be focused and prepared.
  4. Duke easily handled Tech 43-20 last season.
  5. Duke is experienced facing option offenses having played Georgia Tech and Army twice since last November. That matters a ton. The option offense completely changes your defensive strategy and Duke's staff and personnel is extremely familiar dealing with it.
  6. Daniel Jones is playing extremely well at QB which should allow Duke to get ahead and Georgia Tech is not built to come from behind.
  7. Duke LBs Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys are experienced, disciplined and know how to defend the option.

So if you like free money...

Year of the Rookie Punter

We need to talk about this. Punters are people too and they are important to a football team. The 2018 NFL Draft produced 4 punters drafted which was the most since 1999. There are currently 6 teams that feature a rookie punter:

  • JK Scott, Green Bay Packers
  • Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks
  • Trevor Daniel, Houston Texans
  • Johnny Townsend, Oakland
  • Logan Cookie, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Corey Bojorquez, Buffalo Bills

That's a lot. A big reason for this is that it was a talented punter class. The first four guys listed above were exceptional college punters that will be in the league for a long time. Secondly, I think the price tags on superstar players make teams extremely cautious in how they allocate their resources. Per Spotrac, these rookie punters have base salaries of $480K. Meanwhile, the Titans and Buccaneers are committing a base salary of $3 million to Brett Kern and Bryan Anger. Cheaper and younger applies to NFL punters, too.

This Week's Scouting Trip: Houston at East Carolina

When Ed Oliver is playing a football game within 4 hours of your house, you go. I'll be making my way to Greenville, North Carolina on Saturday for that very purpose.

Oliver is a special talent and currently holds the best odds to be the top overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. A true junior, Oliver has already declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. The man did so last winter.

While I am obviously excited to see him play live, getting a feel or even confirming his measurements is a top priority for me this weekend. I've heard numbers tossed around as low as 270-pounds and as high as 292-pounds. Perhaps Aaron Donald's success will convince the NFL it's ok to overlook his lack of girth but who knows.

Oliver currently sits atop my 2019 NFL Draft Board. We'll talk more about him next week but I did say this prior to the start of the season:

Oliver is a rare and special talent. His athletic ability and burst is special. His hand usage and power overwhelm opponents. His range and motor is otherworldly. His flexibility and agility don’t make sense for his size.

Oliver has the upside to be the face of an NFL defense and become one of the top defensive playmakers in the NFL. If I am the GM of an NFL team with the No. 1 overall pick and the Draft is today then I’m turning in the card for Oliver.

Best Football Player I Saw This Week: Drew Brees

Monday night was pure magic. On the night he became the NFL's all-time leading passer, Brees completed 26-of-29 passes for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. Just another day at the office for the 39-year-old Brees who is firmly in the conversation as one of the NFL's best quarterbacks of all time.

He wasn't going to be denied on Monday night. Needing just over 200 yards, on prime time in New Orleans had destiny written all over it for the record to be broken.

My fiance and I watched him break the record and celebrate with our jaws on the floor. It was a special moment and one I won't soon forget. Brees is a true pioneer for the modern day quarterback and has become the posterboy for short QBs finding success. He's easy to root for and I truly hope he adds another Super Bowl Win to his first-ballot Hall of Fame resume.

5 Best Mascots in College Athletics

Kyle Crabbs and I had some fun on today's episode of Draft Dudes, selecting the best mascots in college athletics. When preparing the show concept, we left it pretty loose so I chose to focus on the most unique but not overly ridiculous mascots.

As promised on the show, here are those logos. PS - If you didn't know, I co-host the Draft Dudes Podcast with Crabbs. It's a daily affair where we talk football with an NFL Draft slant year-round. Make sure you are subscribed and we'd love a 5-star review!

5. UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs

4. UC-Irvine Anteaters

3. Missouri-Kansas City Roos

2. Fort Wayne Mastadons

1. Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks

Written By:

Joe Marino

Chief Administrative Officer

CAO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Member of the FWAA.