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2022 NFL Draft: Local Ties

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 10 CFP National Championship Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Background: INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Lewis Cine (16) drops into coverage on defense during the CFP National Championship college football game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Jan. 10, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana

It’s amazing that for anyone who has played or coached football, invariably you are bound to know of an NFL Draft prospect who came from your area in or is connected to someone you know.

Back in the 1990s, when I was the head basketball coach at Arlington (MA) High School, one of my rival coaches in the Greater Boston League was John DiBiaso, the head football and basketball coach at Everett High School,

Sometimes you can tell when you are coaching against a potential Hall of Fame coach. During my four years at Arlington, John DiBiaso was building a juggernaut football program at Everett. It started when he changed the team’s uniforms to look like the 49ers’:

Here is Coach DiBiaso with his latest version of Joe Montana.

While I left Arlington High School in 1997 to teach and coach at Foxborough High School, over the next 20 years, I was delighted to see John DiBiaso and his Everett Crimson Tide win 12 Massachusetts Division 1 Super Bowl championships. Many of the championship games were played at Gillette Stadium.

During the last of Coach DiBiaso’s Super Bowl champions seasons, his star defensive back, Lewis Cine, an immigrant from Haiti, won the Massachusetts Gatorade Defensive Player of the Year award as a junior.

After the season, Coach DiBiaso accepted the head football job at Catholic Memorial High School (where his team just won the state championship). It was then that Lewis Cine and his family decided to move to Texas, where, as a high school senior, he led Trinity Christian in Cedar Hill to a state championship. One of Cine’s coaches at Trinity Christian happened to be Deion Sanders. The Division 1 offers plied up and Lewis Cine decided to take his talents to the Georgia Bulldogs.

This past season, Lewis Cine helped the Bulldogs win their first NCAA National Championship since 1980. In the team’s impressive 33-18 stomping of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Lewis Cine was named the Defensive MVP of the game, which is quite an achievement considering that Cine played on the most dominant defense in the USA along side of future NFL dynamos such as DE Travon Walker, NT Jordan Davis, DT Devonte Wyatt, LB Nakobe Dean, LB Quay Walker LB Channing Tindall, and CB Derion Kendrick. Add them to two of the Bulldogs’ offensive stars, WR George Pickens and T/G Jamaree Salyer and it is very likely that all of these 10 Bulldogs will be taken in the first 3 rounds of the draft.

“Who let the Dawgs out —- woof, woof, woof-woof!”

The fact that Lewis Cine has won a championship with both high schools he played for and helped Georgia win a national championship is extraordinary. At 6-2, 199 he ran a 4.37 at the NFL Combine He has the ability to play as the “monster” in the secondary with a dawg mentality,

Lewis Cine has been steadily rising up draft boards and there are some who are betting that he will be the 2nd safety drafted behind Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton.

According to a recent article:

Several names surface in conversations with teams about the second safety off the board behind Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton. But no one comes up more often than Cine, who is 6-foot-2 1/4, 199 pounds — and, as one GM put it, “can absolutely f---ing run.” Cine blazed the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, with a 36 1/2-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot-1 broad jump. He was highly productive for the Bulldogs, racking up 73 tackles and nine pass breakups on the way to third-team All-America honors and winning defensive MVP of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Teams say his personality isn’t what you’d expect from such a physical player, but it’s not seen as a problem, especially given how hard he plays.

As for Lewis Cine’s personality, off the field he is a book worm who likes to spend the majority of time with his daughter, Bella, who is now 5 years old. Cine credits his daughter for his motivation to be a star football player: “She’s my why, She’s why I do it.”

Lewis Cine is a big-time hitter and “the straw that stirs the drink.” His dawg mentality and mental approach (studies a ton of game film) has an infectious way of galvanizing and focusing his team.

NFL all-purpose defenses are built these days to feature a 5 man secondary that can be dominant in both man and zone pass coverages and in blitz packages. Lewis Cine would be a valuable addition to any NFL secondary because of his versatility, lightning bolt breaking ability on the ball and game-changer acumen.

Any team that has 5 dawgs in the 5 man secondary of the 4-2-5 is going to create a ton of turnovers and highlight clips. Get those dawgs playing in unison and watch out.

Daxton Hill (Michigan St.), and Jalen Pitre (Baylor) are two other versatile defensive backs in this class who, with Lewis Cine, have the ability to be all-out dawgs in man coverage, zone coverage, run support, screen busting and scheme blitzing. Like Cine, they are listed as safeties, but, in reality, they are the “hawks” in what some would call the 4-2-5 “Monster” that is today’s most popular all-purpose defense in college and the NFL.

Chances are that because of tending to other needs in the 1st round of this year’s draft, the Cardinals won’t be tabbing Lewis Cine as their pick —- but whatever team does, is getting a game changer and championship caliber catalyst.

For me, this year’s draft is also very exciting because of the local Massachusetts players (in addition to Lewis Cine) who figure to be selected at some point.

In one of my dream mocks for the Cardinals on the PFF Mock Draft Simulator, I came away with what I consider to be a Boston College offensive line coup when I was able to select

  • G Zion Johnson at #23
  • C Alec Lindstrom (brother of Falcons’ G Chris Lindstrom) at #201
  • T Tyler Vrable (son of Titans’ HC Mike Vrable) at #215.

After all, BC’s nickname is “O-Line-U”.

Other present and former BC players whom I believe are sleepers in this draft are:

  • TE Trae Barry (6-7, 245),
  • CB Brandon Sebastian (6-0, 180)
  • LB Isaiah Graham-Mosley (6-1, 230)

Rams- related podcast interview with IGM:

Former BC QB E.J. Perry, an All-State performer from North Andover, MA who was a two-time 1st team Ivy League QB at Brown has been making a name for himself. His excellent play at the East-West Shrine game earned him Offensive MVP. The Cardinals interviewed Perry and worked him out. See him here pair up with RB Pierre Strong (South Dakota St.) whom the Cardinals have interviewed and worked out.

TE Isaiah Likely of Coastal Carolina whom the Cardinals have been showing keen interest in, is a former Everett High School teammate of Lewis Cine’s.

Those are my local ties to the 2022 NFL Draft.

Are there any players here you like?

What local players in your area do you like?