Jalen Mayfield

Falcons Sign Five Draft Picks

The Falcons recently carved out some cap space via the Julio Jones trade, and they’re now starting to ink rookies to contracts. The team announced today that they’ve signed five draft picks to rookie deals: third-round offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield, fifth-round defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham, fifth-round linebacker Adetokunbo Ogundeji, fifth-round cornerback Avery Williams, and sixth-round wideout Frank Darby.

Mayfield, who was taken with the No. 68 pick, is naturally the most notable signing. The lineman appeared in 18 games through three seasons at Michigan, allowing only a pair of sacks. Mayfield put himself on the NFL map after helping guide the 2019 Michigan running game to more than 2,000 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.

Ogundeji is an intriguing prospect following a productive career at Notre Dame. The defensive lineman saw time in 43 games for the Irish, compiling 13 sacks, six forced fumbles, and 17 tackles for loss. Meanwhile, while Williams had a solid stint at Boise State as a defensive back, he was prolific on special teams, and he could immediately find himself as one of the Falcons’ key returners next season.

Following the five signings, the Falcons have four draft picks who remain unsigned:

College Notes: Sanders, Onwuzurike, Mayfield

Deion Sanders has received his wish. After pushing for a head coaching job earlier this year, the Hall of Famer has been hired by Jackson State. Rashad Milligan of the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reports (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com) that Sanders will be the next head coach of the Tigers.

Prime Time won a pair of Super Bowls, earned eight Pro Bowl appearances, and garnered six first-team All-Pro nods during his illustrious NFL career. However, as Florio notes, the 53-year-old hasn’t even served as an assistant coach (much less head coach) at the college or professional level. Sanders is currently coaching his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, at Trinity Christian in Cedar Hill, Texas.

Jackson State fired John Hendrick back in August, with T.C. Taylor and Otis Riddley taking over interim head coaching duties. The school is sitting out the fall 2020 season, but they’re expected to participate in a spring league that begins in February.

More notes out of the college ranks:

  • Washington defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike has opted out of the 2020 season and will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 288-pound lineman earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors last season, and he’ll finish his Huskies career having compiled 95 tackles and seven sacks. Onwuzurike will likely be a top-five defensive tackle in the 2021 draft, and he’s currently projected to be a second-day selection.
  • Last month, it sounded like Michigan offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield was going to sit out the 2020 season and prepare for the draft. However, Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News reports that Mayfield will actually return to the Wolverines this season. Mayfield was projected to be a first-round pick in next year’s draft.
  • MSU has confirmed that defensive end Jacub Panasiuk has reversed course and will play this season (via Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News on Twitter). The six-foot-three, 245-pound lineman initially opted out of the season last month. In 38 games at MSU, Panasiuk has compiled 80 tackles and eight sacks. Thanks to the decision, Panasiuk could improve his current third-day draft stock.

Ohio State CB Shaun Wade Opts Back In; Latest On Other Big Ten Opt-Outs

With the Big Ten now on track to begin its season in late October, Ohio State will have one of its top players back. Standout cornerback Shaun Wade said during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter (via ESPN.com’s Field Yates, on Twitter) he changed his mind on opting out of the 2020 season. He is now set to play as a senior.

Set to follow the likes of Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Jeff Okudah as an Ohio State corner to hear his name called in the first round, Wade will do so after playing a fourth Buckeyes season. He ranks as the No. 7 player on Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest 2021 big board.

Wade hired an agent but did not file any paperwork, according to ESPN.com. He is not the only one of the Big Ten opt-outs to reconsider. Ohio State offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, a potential first-round pick, also reversed course and opted back in (Twitter link).

First-round prospects Micah Parsons (linebacker, Penn State), Rondale Moore (wide receiver, Purdue), Jalen Mayfield (tackle, Michigan) and Rashod Bateman (wide receiver, Minnesota) opted out before Wade initially decided to pass on 2020. Not all are committed to skipping the season, though some still are.

Penn State coach James Franklin said the door is open for Parsons to play as a junior, according to PennLive.com, while Purdue HC Jeff Brohm intends to check on Moore’s status now that the conference timetable has changed. Bateman, however, does not plan to opt back in, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Golden Gophers standout wideout has asthma and cited health concerns as a reason he will skip the COVID-19-altered season to prepare for the draft. Despite playing just one full season with the Wolverines, Mayfield plans to stick with his decision to bypass his junior season, per the Detroit Free Press.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Michigan OL Jalen Mayfield Declares For Draft

The Big Ten’s decision to postpone its football season created ripple effects across the college football landscape. A possible spring season will make it difficult for 2021 draft-eligible prospects. A few such talents opted out of the season when the conference was still hoping to play this fall.

One such player will pass on a not-yet-certain spring slate. Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield announced he is declaring for the draft ahead of what was set to be his redshirt-sophomore season (Twitter link).

Mayfield rated as a first-round talent on Todd McShay’s first 2021 big board. But he will leave the Wolverines program after just one season of action. The former four-star prospect operated as Michigan’s starting right tackle as a freshman last season.

Mayfield joins fellow Big Ten Round 1 hopefuls Micah Parsons (Penn State), Rondale Moore (Purdue) and Rashod Bateman (Minnesota) in opting out of the in-limbo college football season.