Giants Targeting Late First-Round QB?

The Giants could theoretically pass on quarterbacks at No. 6 and No. 17 overall and still come away with a QB tonight. Talk is spreading about the Giants potentially trading back into the first round to land either West Virginia’s Will Grier or North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports (on Twitter). 

Neither Finley nor Grier has garnered as much ink as top QBs Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones. Still, the Giants have holes to fill and a big desire to bolster their pass rush, so rumor has it they may pass on all four with their first two choices. It’s worth noting that Vacchiano doesn’t believe the Giants “love” Finley, so Grier could be their preferred target.

The Seahawks (picks Nos. 21, 29) and the Colts (No. 26) have shown an interest in trading back, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), so either club could be a match for the Giants in this scenario.

Meanwhile, GM Dave Gettleman seems to be hinting that the Giants will not take a QB at all in the first round.

We want to come out of [the first round] with two legitimate starters [who] can step in and help us win now,” Gettleman told NFL Network (via PFT).

Meanwhile, Gettleman confirmed that a rookie quarterback would not start ahead of Eli Manning.

No, he wouldn’t [start right away], but it’s the position,” Gettleman said. “The worse place you can be is quarterback hell.”

Draft Notes: Steelers, Jets, Giants, Dolphins

One of the more traditional NFL franchises, in terms of offseason aggression, the Steelers appear to recognize the urgency their recent defensive struggles have created. They are making calls about a possible trade-up from their No. 20 spot, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Steelers boast big needs at cornerback and linebacker. It is believed the Steelers will be able to land a corner, perhaps the first corner to go in this draft, at 20. But if Pittsburgh wants to make a big move for a linebacker, it will likely need to acquire a top-10 pick. Devin White is viewed at this point as a top-10 lock, and the Broncos have been the team most connected to Devin Bush at No. 10.

Here is the latest from the draft world, hours away from the 2019 event:

  • The Jets have been a highly motivated seller at No. 3, and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes (on Twitter) the team almost certainly will have a market to move back. Three GMs informed Mehta the Jets will be able to trade back, if they so choose, despite a sense existing as recently as Wednesday Gang Green would not be successful in moving its pick. This is, however, contingent on Nick Bosa being gone at No. 2, with Mehta adding the Jets would likely select the Ohio State-developed edge rusher if he were available.
  • There may be another seller in the AFC East. Earlier on Thursday, the Dolphins were viewed as a trade-down candidate. Teams are now hearing, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (video link), Miami is quite motivated to move back from No. 13. The Dolphins are receiving calls about their pick, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). This would make sense, given where the Dolphins are in their rebuilding process. However, they have done extensive work on both Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones, per Pelissero. But with Miami being mentioned as a candidate to wait until the higher-profile 2020 quarterback class to land its passer, Pelissero adds the Dolphins could pass on both Haskins and Jones even if they were available at 13.
  • John Elway also mentioned the probable 2020 QB class this offseason, and it appears likely his team will not select a signal-caller at No. 10. The Broncos have been connected to quarterback at 10, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the move, James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Instead, it seems more likely that the Broncos will target inside linebacker, defensive line, and tight end help in the draft.
  • More consistently linked to QBs than either the Dolphins or Broncos, the Giants have a major decision between their top short- or long-term need at No. 6. Viewed as possibly having executed a Haskins smokescreen operation, the Giants may prefer Jones or Drew Lock over him. While Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes they “love” both Jones and Lock, neither may be in play at No. 6. Instead, Big Blue may be gambling it can land one of them at No. 17. This would point to the Giants selecting a pass rusher with their initial first-round pick tonight.

Chargers Out On Josh Rosen?

To many, the Chargers are the most logical destination for Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen. Apparently, those in the Chargers front office do not agree. The Chargers had some interest in Rosen at one point, but they are not pursuing a trade at this time, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. 

The Bolts are obviously set in 2019 with Philip Rivers as their starting QB, but they need to start thinking about the future as Rivers looks ahead to his 38th birthday. There are some interesting QBs in this year’s draft, but one can’t help but wonder why the Chargers wouldn’t pounce on the opportunity to land last year’s No. 10 overall pick for .40 cents on the dollar.

It’s possible that the Cardinals are still holding out for a first-round pick (unlikely to happen) or a second-round choice (a bit more likely, but still improbable). Hypothetically, a deal involving the Chargers’ No. 60 overall pick near the back of the second round for Rosen and a later-round choice could get the job done, but that would depend on the Chargers’ overall interest in Rosen and the Cardinals’ desperation to sell.

For what it’s worth, some in Arizona feel that Rosen could co-exist with Kyler Murray, if he is indeed the choice at No. 1 overall.

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Latest On Cardinals No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

With hours to go before the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cardinals’ plans for the No. 1 overall pick remain shrouded in secrecy. Just recently, Cardinals GM Steve Keim reached out to Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to let him know he’s still a possibility to go first overall, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. 

At this point, only GM Steve Keim and a few others know the identity of the top pick, Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). It still sounds like Kyler Murray will be the pick, but no one knows for sure, especially since there have been no trade talks surrounding Josh Rosen at this time.

Further complicating matters is a split of opinions in the Arizona front office about whether Rosen and Murray could co-exist on the roster together. One team source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that the situation would not work after Rosen was selected to be Arizona’s QB of the future just one year ago. Another team source, however, feels that it could work.

Stay tuned.

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Eli Manning Plans To Play In 2020

Giants quarterback Eli Manning plans to play in 2020, according to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN (link via PFT). However, that doesn’t mean he’ll be playing in New York next year. 

Manning is in his walk year and, eventually, the Giants will have to move on to a younger QB. The Giants are sticking with Manning for now, despite his rocky performances over the last couple of years, but it’s hard to see them sticking with the two-time Super Bowl hero into his age-39 season, unless he turns back the clock in a dramatic way.

Manning may prefer to spend his entire career with one franchise, but that might not be an available option. Manning may also prefer to be surrounded by better offensive weapons – the Giants’ aerial attack may have shed some headaches with the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, but it’s also without much of its former firepower.

Last season, Manning raised his completion rate to a career-high 66% and his 7.5 yards-per-attempt average was considerably higher than it was in the previous two seasons. He also dropped his interceptions total (11) to the lowest its been during his 14 seasons a full-time starter. The Giants also won four of five games during a midseason stretch behind improved play from Manning, so there’s some reason to believe in the old signal caller.

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Redskins Split On NFL Draft QBs

The Redskins are not only in disagreement about whether to select a quarterback with their top pick – they’re also not sure about which quarterback to select, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. Team president Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder are fixated on Dwayne Haskins, but there is a case being made in the building for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, according to Russini’s sources. 

It would be troubling, to say the least, if the Redskins are indeed deeply fractured on which quarterback to take with just hours to go before the start of the NFL Draft. Picking at No. 15 overall, the Redskins need to quickly decide whether it’s Haskins or Jones that they want. Right now, it seems doubtful that Haskins will be available with the No. 15 choice, so Washington will probably have to move up into the top 10 if they want a shot at the Ohio State standout.

Jones, meanwhile, could potentially be had at No. 15, but nothing is guaranteed in the draft, particularly when it comes to QBs.

For now, the Redskins are set to go into 2019 with Case Keenum as their QB. Alex Smith, of course, is sidelined after his gruesome leg injury from last year and Colt McCoy is also working his way back from a broken leg of his own.

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Texans Open To Trading Jadeveon Clowney

Could Jadeveon Clowney be on the move? The Texans are open to trading the star linebacker, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (via PFT). 

Clowney was cuffed with the franchise tag earlier this offseason, but he has yet to sign his tender. Meanwhile, the two sides remain far apart on negotiations for a new deal.

Last week, Texans GM Brian Gaine expressed optimism about reaching an accord, though we haven’t heard positive news on that front.

“That’s the spirit of the franchise tag,” Gaine said“You know, there’s a reason why we did that with every hope and intention to continuing to work on that. That’s a negotiation, it’s a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides, for the player, for the organization as it relates to short term and long term. That’s still the plan.”

Clowney wouldn’t be the first defensive star to be tagged-and-traded. Just this week, the Seahawks shipped standout Frank Clark to the Chiefs and Clowney could be the next to don a new jersey.

The outside linebacker was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Last year, he racked up nine sacks in 15 games. He’s also a difference-maker in the run game – he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ tenth-best edge defender in 2018.

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Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat Misdiagnosed?

Well, this is interesting. Teams now believe that Montez Sweat‘s heart condition was misdiagnosed at the combine, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Follow-up tests on the Mississippi State defensive lineman revealed no risk to the player, which is phenomenal news for Sweat’s health and football future alike. 

Sweat was initially flagged for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes a thickening of artery walls. As a result, some teams to removed him from the draft board completely. Now, two sources say the situation is not nearly as dire as once thought.

Two sources tell RapSheet that the thickness of Sweat’s heart wall is actually 1.5 centimeters, not ~2.0, which makes for a much lower risk of problems. If Sweat’s wellbeing is not in danger, his stock could be restored just in time for Thursday night’s draft.

Sweat was previously listed among the 23 attendees for the NFL Draft’s green room, an indication that he was in the first round mix. Sweat changed his plans after the medical tests scared teams away, but it sounds like he could be in line to receive some good news tonight when he’s watching the telecast from elsewhere.

Sweat finished his two-year Bulldogs career with 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. He spent his first two collegiate campaigns at Michigan State, where he did not see a whole lot of playing time.

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Darnell Savage To Be First-Round Pick?

Maryland safety Darnell Savage, a virtual unknown just weeks ago, has emerged as a possible first rounder, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. He’s visited the Panthers, Seahawks, Rams, Steelers, Eagles, and six other clubs, and at least one of those clubs has him in consideration for the Top 32.

Savage put himself on the map as a junior with 59 tackles, eight pass breakups, and three interceptions. He delivered yet again last year with four picks, two pass breakups, and 52 tackles (5.5 tackles for loss). He really impressed in workouts, however, and evaluators now see him in a whole different light.

At 5’11 and 198 pounds, Savage lacks ideal size for the next level. However, he has some scouts thinking that his football IQ and innate instincts will make him a success story in the NFL. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has heard comparisons between Savage and Raiders safety Lamarcus Joyner, which is pretty high praise for the Maryland product.

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Eagles To Re-Sign Tim Jernigan

Timmy Jernigan is back with the Eagles. After the Eagles declined Jernigan’s option in March, the defensive tackle agreed to return on a new one-year deal, according to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Jernigan signed a four-year, $48MM extension with the Eagles late in the 2017 season. Ultimately, that deal only lasted for one year. This time around, both sides will have their options open after just one campaign.

By declining Jernigan’s option, the Eagles saved $7MM with $6MM left over in dead money. Jernigan’s latest deal will give him a smaller base salary, but he’ll have the opportunity to cash in next March if he can reestablish himself.

The Ravens traded Jernigan to the Eagles in 2017, and he performed well enough for the eventual Super Bowl champions to ink him to a high-end extension. Unfortunately, he played just 100 snaps last season, suiting up for just three regular-season games.

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