Cortez Broughton Jersey

It was 10 years ago that Cortez Broughton was a good enough baseball player to help his team qualify for the Little League World Series and draw the attention of former standout Major League pitcher Orel Hershisher, but once he got to high school his focus turned to football and that decision has led him to the doorstep of possibly getting taken in next week’s NFL Draft.

Broughton was one of 36 players with area high school or college ties invited by the Bengals to participate in a workout for the team on Monday.

The 6-foot-2, 293-pound defensive tackle from the University of Cincinnati is coming off a very productive senior season in which he had 18.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 quarterback sacks and also had five passes defended.

His measurables and the fact he didn’t really flourish until his senior season thanks to having five different defensive line coaches during his UC career have him projected to be a Day 3 pick (sometime in the sixth or seventh round).

According to his NFL.com draft profile, Broughton’s career at UC was possibly hindered by the revolving door of position coaches and says, “Broughton woke up in a big way this season. He flashes adequate play strength and athletic ability, but he lacks desired physical traits and he doesn’t have one area that is a big plus for him relative to NFL competition. He could benefit from learning from a single voice.”

Broughton said he didn’t necessarily consider having so many different positions coaches as a negative.

“Some people look at in a bad way, but take advantage of it,” said Broughton. “You can always learn something from someone – good coach or bad coach. Take a piece of what to do and what not to do and just have an understanding of, now I can mold myself to who I want to be and I have the repertoire to do it.”

He certainly took advantage of it this past season when he helped UC to a final record of 11-2.

After combining for 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in his first three seasons combined he nearly doubled his productivity in both categories in 2018 alone.

The analysis from NFL.com said of Broughton, “Big senior season creates intrigue. High-energy with positive leadership and personality traits.”

The negatives though, according to NFL.com, are that he has, “below-average height, weight and length – weight is not distributed proportionally through frame.”

Some of those same things were said about current Bengals standout defensive tackle Geno Atkins when he was entering the 2010 draft, which is why he wasn’t taken until the fourth round.

All Atkins has done is get selected to six Pro Bowls and been named All-Pro twice.

Broughton would like to emulate Atkins and admits he’s a big fan and was giddy over a chance meeting with him last year.

“Me and my friend were going to Kroger in Newport and driving down there I was sitting in the passenger seat watching his highlight tape and we go in and who do we see? Geno Atkins,” said Broughton, “Just a chance meeting and it was great to get to talk to him. I felt like I learned so much in just that meeting. He had to keep grinding to make it. He wasn’t a finished product. Some people have it right now, but a lot of times you have to grind through it and that is one of the things I had to do. All throughout I was still learning and the puzzle pieces are starting start to fit together.”

Not bad for a kid who was originally more baseball prodigy than football prodigy.

He was a pitcher and first baseman on the 2009 Warner Robbins, Ga., Little League team that lost in the quarterfinal round of the Little League World Series to eventual champion Chula Vista, Calif. It was there that he garnered Hershisher’s attention.

“He reached out to my dad and said, ‘Hey, I would like to give him some lessons,'” said Broughton. “Once I learned in football I got to hit people I fell in love with it. I knew if I could have a path in baseball, I could have a path in football. Baseball kind of died down and at the time, and I was like I just want to do something I like to do. When you are inside that helmet with the visor on and it’s hot as can be or it’s cold as can be and it doesn’t matter how loud the crowd is I can just focus in and it’s just that moment where you analyze the field and get in your stance and play. I’ve always had that love for football.”

Emeke Egbule Jersey

Emeke Egbule replays the moment over and over in his head.

With the (insert number) pick in the 2019 NFL draft, the (insert team) select Emeke Egbule, linebacker, University of Houston.

“I think about it every day,” Egbule said, waiting hopefully to hear his name among the 254 picks in the three-day NFL draft that runs Thursday through Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. “Even when I’m driving or just watching a movie. I just play it out in my head. Wondering, what team is it going to be? What round is it going to be? How am I going to react? It’s all exciting, and I’m anxious.”

A full-time starter at linebacker in his final two seasons with the Cougars, Egbule has been rising on draft boards after strong performances at the NFL scouting combine and UH’s pro day. Some mock drafts have Egbule taken as early as the fifth round.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “Anything can happen.

“I’m hoping for the best. Out of all the teams I’ve talked to, I don’t know where I would even go. I know I could fit into almost any team I have been talking to.”

Egbule had meetings or private workouts with the Texans, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. Most of the teams expressing interest want to move the 6-2, 240-pound Egbule inside, though a few discussed using him as an edge rusher. Like most third-day picks, Egbule knows his ticket to making an NFL roster will be on special teams.

“Linebacker, special teams, third down, fourth down, anything — just be a player,” Egbule said. “First year, you’ve got to make it on the team. You start on special teams and work your way up.”

A shot is all Egbule is asking for, part of a dream that goes back to his senior season at North Shore High School. After being used as a wide receiver and tight end as a sophomore and junior, Egbule shifted to defensive end for his final season. It was at that time, Egbule said, that he “fell in love with defense.”

“I knew I could make something out of this because it was fun,” he added. “I just thought to myself I would love to do this for a living as long as I can.”

One day in 2014, Ricky Logo, then the Cougars’ defensive line coach, showed up on the North Shore campus. An offer was soon to come, the first Egbule would receive.

“I didn’t know (coach Logo) was here for me,” Egbule said. “It turns out he was. I love Houston and wanted to stay home. Once he offered me, I was all in for it and excited because it was my first offer. Throughout college, that mindset just got stronger and stronger and built more confidence that I could do this.”

Egbule started the final 25 games of his college career, recording 69 tackles, 5½ tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. One of his biggest moments came when, as a sophomore, he returned a fumble for a touchdown to beat Tulsa.

Egbule also left his mark during his first preseason camp, hitting a running back so hard during a drill that he bent and warped his facemask. The facemask is mounted on the wall outside the team auditorium.

Todd McShay, a draft analyst for ESPN, watched in person as Egbule had five tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry in a Week 2 victory over Arizona last season.

“Egbule is a player who has some versatility,” McShay said. “I think he’s going to be really good on special teams. I like his tape. He obviously has some physical limitations, but I think he’s going to wind up probably being a fifth-round pick. I think he’s going to hang around and continue to get better in the league.”

Egbule — along with draft-eligible former UH players Austin Robinson and Roman Brown — has a chance to continue a recent tradition of the school’s linebackers being taken in the draft or landing on a practice squad. In the last three years, Elandon Roberts (sixth round by the New England Patriots in 2016), Tyus Bowser (second round by Baltimore Ravens in 2017) and Matthew Adams (seventh round by the Indianapolis Colts in 2018) have been selected in the draft. Derrick Mathews, another North Shore product, went undrafted in 2015 but has spent time on practice squads with Washington, the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.

“It’s an honor really,” Egbule said. “We’re just trying to carry on the tradition.”

Egbule plans to watch all three days of the draft. As it gets closer to when he may be selected, family and friends will join a watch party at his home.

Easton Stick Jersey

One pick in the Los Angeles Chargers 2019 draft that was kind of interesting was a fifth-round pick, where they selected quarterback Easton Stick from North Dakota State with the 166th pick. This was also a little odd because, for starters, the Chargers already had signed a backup quarterback this year in Tyrod Taylor, and also still have Cardale Jones on the roster. And while fans have been expecting the Chargers to start looking for a future replacement for Philip Rivers soon, one wouldn’t probably have expected it to be this year, given that the 2019 quarterback draft class has not exactly been hailed. Nonetheless, it’s worth looking at the possibility that the Chargers could be planning to try to groom him up to be a future successor to Rivers.

Stick played at North Dakota State as the successor to Carson Wentz when the latter got drafted. And in terms of career college numbers, he actually set some school records there, throwing 88 touchdown passes and rushing for 41 touchdowns in three seasons. Yes, he is a dual-threat quarterback. He also won two FCS championships with them. Also standing out was that he had 49 career wins with the team – that is an all-time FCS record. That obviously speaks to more than just Stick’s talent, but it’s still an impressive statistic.

After reading those last two paragraphs, Stick might actually seem a little bit like Tyrod Taylor, who the Chargers also have on their roster now. Regardless, the Chargers now have two dual-threat backup quarterbacks on their roster. And we can probably expect the remaining one, Cardale Jones to get cut eventually. That can make one wonder if that’s the future plan the Chargers envision for their offense once Rivers is gone. Obviously, they can’t do it while he’s there, because he’s the exact opposite of mobile. But head coach Anthony Lynn is a former running backs coach, and maybe once Rivers is gone, he’ll want to transition to more of a run-first offense – one that includes a quarterback that can actually run.

Of course, the thing to keep in mind is that none of this will probably come to fruition for at least two or three more years. That’s probably about how many good years we can expect Rivers to have before Father Time comes for him. But fans have still been wanting the Chargers to groom a successor anyway, and now maybe they’ve gotten their wish. Stick may or may not ultimately pan out; being a fifth-round pick in a quarterback draft class with low popularity doesn’t sound promising. But maybe the Chargers see something in him they like. Stick may be someone they want to try over the next couple years and see if he’s the guy. Whatever the case, they still have some time to figure everything out. Rivers is showing no signs of depletion quite yet.

Drue Tranquill Jersey


The Los Angeles Chargers kicked off the third day of the 2019 NFL Draft by selecting Notre Dame LB Drue Tranquill with the 130th overall pick in the fourth round. The selection was announced live from Mexico City, where the Chargers will play the Chiefs in November.

Stay tuned the rest of the day for more about Tranquill throughout the day, including an exclusive first interview with the newest Charger, reaction from General Manager Tom Telesco, film breakdown and more.

But for now, learn more about Tranquill with what NFL.com had to say about the linebacker leading up to the draft.

Tranquill, a two-time Irish captain from Fort Wayne, became the heart and soul of the 2018 College Football Playoff participants. He started 12 of 13 contests, posting 86 stops, nine for loss, 3.5 sacks, and four pass breakups. He started all 25 games in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, though he moved from safety to linebacker in-between. As a junior, he racked up 85 tackles, 10.5 for loss, an interception, and three pass breakups one year after making an impact in the secondary (79 tackles, two for loss, one INT, two PBU). His first two seasons, however, prematurely ended due to injury. As a true freshman, he started 3 of 11 games (33 tackles, INT) before suffering a torn left ACL. The following year, Tranquill returned to play in the season’s first three games (nine tackles, 2.5 for loss, two PBU) but tore his right ACL in a celebration following a game-ending pass breakup against Georgia Tech.