Cleveland could use an upgrade at right tackle and an understudy for Joe Thomas.
Williams returned to play in the final couple of games before shutting it down to prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft rather than play in his bowl game. He missed seven games during the 2017 season. After some bad performances to start 2017, he went down with a torn knee meniscus and strained ligaments. Williams (6-6, 290) started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore for the Longhorns. He was a steady pass protector and a consistent run blocker.
As we reported in the Hot Press, Williams has been receiving some mid-round grades from evaluators this season. The main issue that sources say is hurting Williams is a lack of strength. One AFC team in need of tackle help said they gave him a late third-round, early fourth-round grade.
I spoke with a NFC general manager who scouted Williams in person this season, and they were disappointed in Williams overall. They felt Williams lacked strength and believed him overhyped. This NFC general manager said he thought Williams was a fourth-rounder. Williams had a disappointing season opener against Maryland, getting flagged for numerous holds, including some that canceled out big plays for his team. He allowed some pressures and hits, too. Williams has some athletic ability, and some evaluators feel he should move inside to guard.
The Giants grab some interior offensive line talent.
Smith is a solid player who is well-balanced as a run blocker and pass protector. The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder has NFL size, quickness and athleticism. He is a quality run blocker who has been solid in pass protection for Auburn. Smith is a safe pick to be a quality NFL starter for a long time.
The Colts could use a corner to pair with Quincy Wilson.
There is some media buzz about Oliver being a first-rounder, but his play doesn't warrant that high of a grade. Oliver (6-1, 190) has size, length, and movement skills, but has never played up to his skill set. He needs a lot of work to play off-man coverage. In 2017, Oliver totaled 13 passes broken up, two interceptions and 25 tackles.
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68.San Francisco 49ers:Lorenzo Carter, 3-4OLB, Georgia
The 49ers need an edge rusher to replace short-term veteran Elvis Dumervil.
Carter (6-6, 242) has been improved as a senior and is still full of athletic potential. He showed dangerous edge-rushing skills against Notre Dame and made a lot of big plays to help the Bulldogs win in South Bend. Sources say they are giving Carter third- or fourth-round grades, although the team that likes him enough to draft him could take him earlier.
In 2017, Carter has 47 tackles with four sacks, three forced fumbles and seven tackles for a loss. He recorded 44 tackles with five sacks and two forced fumbles in 2016. Carter notched 4.5 sacks as a freshman.
The 49ers could use more cornerback talent to go with Akhello Witherspoon.
Dawson is a feast-or-famine defender who makes some big plays and gives up some plays. The senior notched 34 tackles with nine passes broken up and four interceptions in 2017. In 2016, he totaled 24 tackles, seven passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder is quick with the athleticism to run with receivers, prevent separation, and has good ball skills. For the NFL, Dawson is a slot corner. He is good when plays are in front of him. He has instincts and a good concept of route combinations. Dawson transitions well with above-average speed to carry verticals. However, Dawson is tight and struggles to open his hips. Sources have told me they are grading Dawson as third- or fourth-rounder.
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Sources tell me that the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Thomas is really talented physically, but he hasn't put it all together on the field. There are flashes of excellence and stretches of doing nothing while looking clueless. They say that Thomas lacks instincts as well. However because of his great skill set, grades are going to be all over the board on Thomas, with some high and some low.
Thomas has 30 tackles with 8.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2017. In 2016, he collected 37 tackles with 11 for a loss, four sacks and three passes broken up.
The Broncos grab more offensive line talent go with Garett Bolles.
Hyatt is a third-year starter at left tackle for Clemson. As I reported in the Hot Press, scouts from NFL teams have been disappointed in Hyatt's play this season and some sources say they have been grading Hyatt on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft. The biggest issue for Hyatt for the NFL is a lack of strength. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, but the junior has been pushed around in 2017. Some are grading Hyatt in the fourth round and may drop him lower, but they acknowledge that tackles rise during the leadup to drafts, so it wouldn't surprise them if a team reaches on Hyatt in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The best move for Hyatt might be returning his senior year and getting stronger before the NFL.
The Texans badly need a safety upgrade next to Andre Hal.
Elliott is enjoying a breakout junior season as one of the nation's leaders in interceptions with six. He also has 63 tackles and nine passes broken up. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has NFL size with good instincts. He fits as a free safety for the pro game, and sources have told me that they've given him a second-day grade. They say that Elliott lacks the elite athletic ability and speed to be a first-round pick, but he makes plays in coverage and is a willing participant against the run. It will be hard for Elliott to duplicate this production if he returns for his senior year, so it probably is in his interest to enter the 2018 NFL Draft after this season.
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73.Washington Redskins:Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
The Redskins grab a quarterback competitor.
Falk has completed 67 percent of his passes this season for 3,593 yards with 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Some team sources are intrigued with Falk (6-4, 205) because they like his pocket-passing potential and accuracy. In speaking with scouts, they say that Falk has an above-average arm, but his accuracy is his best strength. Falk has some issues seeing coverage and will throw into it. Falk is also considered a thin-framed player who will need to add weight for the NFL. He lacks escapability and mobility, but sources compared Falk to Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Falk completed 70 percent of his passes last season for 4,468 yards with 38 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 2015, Falk completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,561 yards with 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions. As a freshman, he completed 64 percent of his throws for 1,859 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
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74.Cincinnati Bengals:Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
The Bengals could use more offensive tackle talent.
The 6-foot-5, 307-pound Rankin had a quality 2016 season as a run blocker and pass protector for Mississippi State. He received a second-round estimation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rankin is playing well at left tackle this season, but he needs to get stronger for the NFL. In Week 3, he had some wins and losses against LSU's Arden Key, but Rankin has been steady on the blind side this year. He is quick, athletic, and has a good build, but he has to up his strength. Rankin gets knocked on the ground too much and will get pushed around in the NFL.
Team sources are comparing Rankin to Troy's Antonio Garcia, a third-round pick of the Patriots last year, and think that Rankin could go in the same range. They say that Rankin is a great kid, so they think he will work hard to become a more complete player as a pro.
The Jets could use more cornerback talent, especially if Morris Claiborne isn't re-signed.
Scouts tell me that Dunlap is an intriguing player. He has an excellent skill set with size, speed, and cover ability. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has the size to battle big receivers and is fast to run with speedy targets. Dunlap reportedly runs in the 4.4s. He has been in and out of the lineup after getting in the doghouse of Lovie Smith's coaching staff.
Dunlap finished 2017 with a total of 29 tackles, five passes broken up and an interception. As a junior, he notched 63 tackles with 11 pass breakups. Sources say that Dunlap did well in his game against Corey Davis and Ohio State while having an up-and-down performance against Simmie Cobbs. Dunlap could end up sneaking into Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft, especially after he stars in workouts.
The Dolphins could use interior offensive line help.
Sources say that Maea Teuhema will be a good gap-scheme guard in the NFL. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder has the athleticism to play left guard and the strength to play right guard. While he won't stay at left tackle in the NFL, he might offer the versatility to play there in a pinch. Scouts say that both Maea Teuhema and his brother Sione are good guys, and it helps both that the LSU staff continues to speak highly of them even though things didn't workout for them with the Tigers. Both of them have reestablished their second-day status for the 2018 NFL Draft despite leaving LSU.
77.Arizona Cardinals:James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
The Cardinals could use more wide receiver talent to groom behind Larry Fitzgerald.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Washington can stretch teams vertically with his speed. Some team sources told me they graded him as a mid-rounder. Washington has a running back-like build and is not really twitchy. He is still deceptively fast, but that is speed he builds up rather than quick explosiveness. They say that Washington has good hands, but doesn't really make players miss after the catch. One team source said they graded Washington as a late fourth-rounder for the 2018 NFL Draft.
In 2017, Washington has 69 receptions for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns. He made 71 receptions for 1,380 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016. As a sophomore, Washington snagged 53 passes for 1,087 yards with 10 scores.
The Raiders brought the declining Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, and predictably, Lynch hasn't been good. Oakland/Las Vegas needs a legit starting running back. Here's a solution.
Scott is averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season for 785 yards and six touchdowns. He has 18 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown as well. Sources think that the 6-foot-1, 229-pounder is more than just a power back. They like Scott's surprising speed and believe he has the athletic ability to be more than a North-South runner. He's patient and has feet that can make tacklers miss. He needs to work on ball security though.
Scouts think that Scott could be even more athletic and quicker if he drops some weight. They talk about how Le'Veon Bell was too heavy at Michigan State and became a different player after losing weight at the direction of the Steelers. Scott may not get a lot of notice, but teams are eyeing him as a value pick. Scott ran for 994 yards on 184 carries (5.4 average) with six touchdowns as a sophomore.
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The Lions could use more linebacking talent next to Jarrad Davis.
In 2017, Baker has recorded 51 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and three passes broken up. Entering the season there was a lot of media hype about Baker (6-1, 225), but in speaking with scouts who did advance work on the 2018 class, they weren't overly impressed with him. They said that Baker runs around more blocks than he takes on and has the speed to get away with that against average offensive lines in college. They thought was more of a second-day- to early third-day-level player. They said Baker is a good player, but not complete and not anything exceptional. They felt Baker was a good, solid, instinctive guy, who in the right system, will play in the NFL, but over time, is a dime a dozen.
After Darron Lee was taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Baker won the job to be Lee's replacement as Ohio State's fast run-and-chase linebacker. He had a quality debut with 83 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions.
Baker is a highly athletic linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed. His fit comes as a Will (weak side) linebacker in a 4-3 defense or being a run-and-chase inside linebacker in a 3-4.
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The Panthers could use multiple young edge rushers.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Sione Teuhema hunted quarterbacks this season, recording 80 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and one pass broken up. Sources say that Teuhema played the 2016 season for LSU with an ACL injury and still showed explosiveness and athleticism. They think he could be an effective rusher as a Sam - strongside - linebacker in the NFL in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Scouts say that both Sione Teuhema and his brother Maea are good guys, and it has helps both that LSU staff continues to speak highly of them even though things didn't work out for them with the Tigers. Both of them have reestablished their second-day status for the 2018 NFL Draft despite leaving LSU and landing at a lower level of competition.
81.Green Bay Packers:Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
The Packers cut the declining Martellus Bennett mid-season and have Richard Rodgers entering free agency. Thus, Green Bay needs more tight end talent.
Fumagalli has 43 catches for 516 yards and four touchdowns in 2017, but has missed time with a leg injury. He has illustrated that he is a good route-runner with hands, athleticism, and the quickness to hurt defenses as a receiver. The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder also has done well as a blocker. He looks like he has three-down starting ability for the NFL. Fumagalli had an impressive junior season with 47 receptions for 580 yards and two touchdowns.
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82.Los Angeles Chargers:Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech
The Chargers could more corner talent to go with Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett.
The junior has 23 tackles with four passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2017. In 2016, Alexander totaled 44 tackles with seven passes broken up and two interceptions. He was extremely impressive as a freshman with 55 tackles, four interceptions and six passes broken up.
Alexander has played off-man coverage for Virginia Tech, but he looks stiff and lacks explosion to drive on the ball to play a lot of that in the NFL. He could fit as a press man or zone corner, but safety might be his best position in the NFL. Alexander went to Virginia Tech as a safety before being moved to cornerback. At 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, Alexander has a lot of size and length to battle big receivers or tight ends as a coverage safety.
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The Cowboys could use an upgrade for their backup to Ezekiel Elliott. Adding a play-making runner would help keep their offensive productive if Elliott gets another suspension or has an injury.
In 2017, Freeman averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,475 yards with 14 touchdowns. The senior took 14 receptions for 164 yards as well. A thickly built back who has some quickness and athleticism, Freeman served as the bell-cow back for the Ducks the past few seasons. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry in 2016 for 945 yards with nine touchdowns. As a junior, he had 23 catches for 144 yards as well.
Freeman impressed as a freshman by averaging 5.4 yards per carry for 1,365 yards with 18 touchdowns while also picking up 16 receptions for 158 yards and a score. He was even better as a sophomore, averaging 6.5 yards per carry for 1,836 yards with 17 touchdowns. Freeman added 26 receptions for 348 yards and two scores as well.
84.Houston Texans:Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia
The Texans could use more young talent on the offensive line.
Harrison (6-7, 300) was part of the Texas program before being dismissed by then-coach Charlie Strong. Failed drug tests were the reason for Harrison's dismissal. He landed at West Georgia, where he played well for the Wolves. Team sources say that Harrison has the skill set of a first- or second-round pick. He has NFL size, quickness, athleticism and length. Team sources say they don't think Harrison will get out of the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft and that his stock could catch fire at the Senior Bowl.
The Ravens could use more tight end talent. Ben Watson is 37, and Maxx Williams hasn't panned out.
Gesicki has totaled 51 receptions for 501 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He has played well as a receiver and a blocker for Penn State. Gesicki turned in an impressive 2016 season with 48 receptions for 679 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder could be a nice rotational tight end in the NFL.
The Chiefs could use a young edge rusher to replace Tamba Hali.
Nwosu (6-2, 240) has enjoyed a good season for the Trojans to help himself. He has 71 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 13 passes batted and an interception on the year.
Nwosu is a pursuit outside linebacker for the NFL. He has some speed and athleticism off the edge with good instincts and feel. In the ground game and in the pass rush, Nwosu can struggle with the length and strength of offensive tackles, leading to him getting covered up. Nwosu would fit best as in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
The Falcons moved on from Jalen Collins and could use some cornerback depth. It also would make sense to add a corner with some size.
Averett has 40 tackles, seven passes broken up and an interception in 2017. He totaled 48 tackles with eight passes broken up, zero interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2016.
One team source thought Averett might end up going in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but sources from five different teams say they have Averett as a second-day-caliber player. A lot of team sources see problems with Averett. They think that he is not a play-maker on the ball and is not a finisher. He's intelligent and more consistent within the scheme, which has earned him playing time over the more physically gifted Tony Brown, but sources from each team said they didn't like how Averett played the ball. One general manager said that weight is an issue with Averett, who has been in the 180s. Alabama lists Averett at 6-foot, 183 pounds, but those numbers can be inflated. Another general manager said that Averett being a narrow-framed guy who doesn't play the ball well is a concerning combination for the NFL. Thus, this GM said that the highest they could see Averett going was the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, although the third round is a definite possibility.
Whitehead (5-11, 190) is a physical safety who has good instincts. He broke out as a freshman with 108 tackles, six passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble. In 2016, Whitehead had 65 tackles with two breakups and an interception while missing multiple games with an arm injury. He hurt his draft stock with a suspension to open the 2017 season and split time between running back and safety this year. At the former position in 2017, Whitehead totaled 22 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He recorded 60 tackles with four passes broken up and one interception at the latter this season.
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The Titans could save money and get younger by moving on from DeMarco Murray this offseason. Here's a versatile back and pass catcher to pair with Derrick Henry.
Wadley is averaging 4.4 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,021 yards with nine touchdowns. He also has 26 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns. In 2016, he averaged 6.4 yards per carry for 1,081 yards with 10 touchdowns. Wadley also showed receiving skill with 36 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdowns that season.
Team sources have said that Wadley has impressed them and is a talented running back. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder could use more weight on his frame, but he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
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Sources from multiple teams have told me that Burks (6-3, 230) impressed them this season. They like his combination of size, quickness and instincts.
Burks recorded 82 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, one interception and three passes broken up in 2017. In 2016, he formed a potent linebacking tandem with Zach Cunningham. Burks totaled 59 tackles with 3.5 sacks and six passes broken up that season. Burks has shown some coverage and ball skills throughout his career, having made six breakups as a sophomore and seven as a freshman.
The Jaguars could draft more receiving talent as both Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee are entering free agency.
In 2017, Cain has recorded 52 receptions for 659 yards and six touchdowns. He hasn't played as well this year as last, but that could stem from a few factors. Clemson has spread the ball around this season and not given Cain a lot of targets as it is playing a first-year starter at quarterback. Team sources have been disappointed in Cain's play as well, including some ugly dropped passes. They say he is a one-trick pony deep receiver who is going to need development for the NFL.
Despite catching 38 passes for 724 yards with nine touchdowns on a number of big plays in 2016, Cain (6-1, 210) didn't get as much attention among the Tigers' offensive weapons. His speed was illustrated by his average of 19 yards per reception. He averaged 17 yards per catch as a freshman (34-582-5).
The Rams could use more edge-rushing talent across from Robert Quinn. This is a good fit for Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.
Sweat has totaled 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss and three passes batted on the season. The junior has a lot of talent and was starting to flash as a sophomore in 2016. He totaled seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles and one forced fumble last year.
Sources say the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has a first-round skill set, but teams have major concerns about baggage around a knee injury. Florida State has tried a variety of methods to treat the lingering knee issue, which happened during Sweat's senior year of high school, but the injury hasn't healed and he has instability in a few areas. He labors through the knee issue and hopes to play as long as possible. Thus, sources say that Sweat is planning on entering the 2018 NFL Draft to play to maximize his career. He could be a one-contract player as a pro.
93.Minnesota Vikings:Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
The Vikings could more young interior talent for their defensive line.
Nnadi has notched 48 tackles with 3.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and a pass batted in 2017. He is playing well, causing notable disruption. In 2016, Nnadi totaled 44 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks on the year. The 6-foot-2, 304-pounder is at his best when he is using his speed to work upfield.
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The Patriots could use multiple young defensive line talents. Here's a player with a versatile skill set.
Brown has 42 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, three sacks and a forced fumble in 2017. Last season, he was at his best playing inside as a three-technique working to get upfield. Brown totaled six sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and 38 tackles in 2016.
Entering the 2017 season, scouting sources said that Brown has a first-round skill set, but they had concerns about his dedication to football and why he played so little as a freshman and sophomore when he was clearly more talented than the players ahead of him. Brown is a great athlete with excellent speed to fire past linemen. He can be a real threat at the point of attack to knife into the backfield. Brown could use more strength and improvement at holding his gap when runs come at him.
The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder could be a base end in a 4-3 who moves inside in passing situations. He also could be a three-technique defensive tackle full time, and adding weight for that role would make sense. The senior has the length to be a five-technique in a 3-4 as well.
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95.Buffalo Bills:Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Bills could take another quarterback option as the organization seems lukewarm on Tyrod Taylor.
Rudolph is very much a love/hate prospect in scouting circles, but of late, I've heard more teams putting lower grades on him and sources expressing more doubt. I've heard grades as low as the fifth and sixth round on Rudolph in recent weeks. I'm of the opinion that he is a third-day prospect and would grade him as a fourth-/fifth-rounder, but I could see a team reaching for him on Day 2 during the 2018 NFL Draft.
For the NFL, Rudolph has some serious limitations. He is not very athletic and isn't a running threat, while his arm strength is just average. Rudolph also needs to improve his shaky accuracy and terrible anticipation. Routinely, Rudolph doesn't pull the trigger on a throw until his receiver has long since gotten wide open rather than anticipating the play to get the ball out faster. The length of time he holds the ball in the pocket is going to be a problem in the NFL. Rudolph is also inconsistent with his field vision as he can work off his first read, yet other times he stares down targets. His games against West Virginia and Texas provided other examples of him struggling to throw into tight windows.
In 2017, Rudolph has completed 65 percent of his passes for 4,553 yards with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,91 yards with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2016. Rudolph ran for six scores as well last season.
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The Steelers may not sign Le'Veon Bell to a long-term contract, and they could use more running back talent behind him if he stays. Here's a speed back to go with the power of James Conner.
In late September, team sources told me that Carter (5-9, 205) was a player who has really impressed scouts this fall. One area scout said that Carter is a bigger Tarik Cohen and is arguably as good as Cohen was last year in college. They also say that Carter impressed them in 2016, when he averaged 7.7 yards per carry for 906 yards with 11 touchdowns. Carter added 28 receptions for 351 yards and three scores last season, too. The senior is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in 2017 for 800 yards and nine touchdowns with 29 receptions for 394 yards and a touchdown. If Carter impresses at an all-star game, he could really help rise up draft boards as Cohen's success will also help him.
I have it on good authority that the Texans are getting a third-round compensatory pick for not signing any free agents from other teams in the applicable window while losing free agents who received big or significant contracts like A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps and John Simon.
Houston could use a tight end upgrade, and with all the concussions C.J. Fiedorowicz has had, the team needs depth at tight end even if Fiedorowicz comes back in 2018.
Scouts have told me that they like Schultz and see him as a do-it-all Y tight end similar to Jason Witten. They say that Schultz is a good route-runner, excellent at catching the ball, and a really good blocker. This season, Stanford has used Schultz's blocking skill to help open holes for Bryce Love. In the Cardinal's ground-based offense, Schultz has 20 receptions for 204 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 242-pounder is a sleeper prospect who team evaluators really like.
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