2017 NFL Draft

Titans, Bills Hoping To Trade Down In Draft

The Titans and Bills are among the teams currently holding picks in the top 10 of next week’s draft who are inquiring on possible trades down the board, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), who also confirms Peter King of TheMMQB.com‘s recent report indicating the Jets and 49ers are eager to trade back, as well.NFL Draft Generic Logo (Vertical)

Tennessee, of course, traded the first overall selection to the Rams in 2016, acquiring a bevy of draft picks in the process. Depending on how far back the Titans are aiming to drop this year, the resulting compensation package may not be as lucrative, as Cole reported earlier today that top draft picks aren’t worth as much in 2017 due to the lack of “overwhelming” prospects available at the outset of Round 1. The Titans own the fifth overall selection at present, and also holds the No. 18 pick.

Buffalo, meanwhile, is thought to be considering a quarterback at No. 10, and could theoretically look to trade down if the signal-caller it wants is not available when its turn come around, as Josh Norris of Rotoworld speculates (Twitter link). Bills general manager Doug Whaley is reportedly “in love” with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, but the club’s highest-graded QB may be UNC’s Mitch Trubisky.

The Browns stand out as one obvious team who may be willing to trade up, specifically with the Titans, and in fact have already been linked to such a trade. If Cleveland doesn’t select Trubisky with the No. 1 pick, it could move up with the intention of jumping — among other teams — the Bills, especially if Browns owner Jimmy Haslam continues to press for a quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Kelly, Peterman, Jones, Chiefs

In addition to the Bills, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has also met with the Seahawks and Chiefs, as Kelly told SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). In addition, Kelly said he’s had phone calls with several other clubs. Kelly, the nephew of Bills legend Jim Kelly, is considered a Day 3 prospect thanks a multitude of injury concerns and off-field issues. After recovering quickly from a ACL tear, Kelly underwent wrist surgery in early April and won’t be able to throw for three months. Both Seattle and Kansas City are potentially looking for developmental quarterbacks to play behind Russell Wilson and Alex Smith, respectively.

Here’s more on the 2017 NFL draft:

  • Both the Chargers and Cardinals have hosted Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman on visits, as Peterman himself explained on Pro Football Talk Live. Peterman, who is likely to be selected on Day 2 of the draft, is viewed as a high-floor signal-caller in the vein of an Andy Dalton. Los Angeles and Arizona each employ veteran quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer and could be looking to find long-term successors under center. The Chargers, notably, have been more open about their desire to land a youthful passer in 2017, and are reportedly putting in “ample work” on the 2017 class.
  • North Carolina State safety Josh Jones embarked on a “last minute” visit with the Raiders earlier this week, tweets Josh Norris of Rotoworld. Oakland already used a first-round pick on defensive back Karl Joseph in 2016, but Jones could be an eventual replacement for 33-year-old Reggie Nelson. Jones is considered a Round 2 prospect, but he’s been hosted by a significant number of NFL clubs during the predraft process, and there’s a chance he could sneak into Day 1. In 2016, Jones put up 109 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack.
  • A Redskins contingent traveled to Alabama on Friday to meet with Crimson Tide edge defender Ryan Anderson, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Anderson, who managed 8.5 sacks in 2016, has also met with Houston, Carolina, and Arizona. Likely a Day 2 prospect, Anderson was compared to San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are penciled as Washington’s starting outside linebackers (Trent Murphy is suspended for the first four games of 2017).
  • Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham took late predraft visits with the Jaguars and Broncos, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cunningham, a projected Day 2 pick, has also been linked to the Giants and Saints. Earlier this year, a scout told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that Cunningham “needs to gain strength” and “make more tackles.”

Jaguars Considering Quarterback At No. 4?

The Jaguars have largely coalesced around quarterback Blake Bortles this offseason, as general manager Dave Caldwell said Bortles can win a Super Bowl, while new executive VP Tom Coughlin indicated Bortles will be Jacksonville’s signal-caller in 2017. But there’s a chance — however small — that those proclamations are part of a smoke screen, as one rumor circulating in league circles has the Jaguars selecting a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com (Twitter link).Dave Caldwell (Vertical)

The possibility of taking a quarterback makes some sense for Jacksonville on a number of levels. For one, Bortles regressed mightily in 2016, taking a step back from his relatively successful sophomore campaign. Bortles, 25, finished 26th in quarterback rating, 27th in adjusted yards per attempt, and 26th in DVOA while tossing at least 16 interceptions for the third consecutive season. As such, Caldwell told reporters Friday the Jaguars have yet to make a decision on Bortles’ 2018 fifth-year option. Jacksonville has until May 3 to exercise or decline the option.

Additionally, there aren’t a ton of great prospect fits for the Jaguars at No. 4. Having already spent a good deal of money on free agents along the defensive line and in the secondary, Jacksonville doesn’t necessarily need an impact player on the defensive side of the ball. No offensive lineman is thought to be worth a top-five selection, leaving running back or tight end as possible options for the Jaguars’ first-round pick. Neither would fit a strategy of position-based drafting, whereas a quarterback clearly would.

The Jaguars have only had a few quarterbacks in for visits, as they’ve met with Clemson‘s Deshaun Watson and Pittsburgh‘s Nathan Peterman. However, Caldwell and the rest of the Jacksonville staff proved in 2014 they could keep a secret, as the team’s intention to select Bortles was never divulged prior to the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cole’s Latest: Panthers, Rivera, Watson, King

If the Panthers don’t earn a postseason berth in 2017, head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman could be on the hot seat, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Carolina, of course, finished the 2016 campaign with a 6-10 record after losing only regular season game and securing a Super Bowl appearance the year prior. Both Rivera and Gettleman are now facing extra pressure, says Cole, which would be one reason the Panthers handed defensive tackle Kawann Short an extension earlier this week, as the club may have wanted to ensure Short was present for offseason activities.

Here’s more from around the league, all courtesy of Cole:

  • Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson displayed a “CEO presence” in predraft meetings with NFL team, and his intangibles are highly impressive to personnel executives, reports Cole (video link), who adds Watson is considered the best leader among the top QB prospects. Listed at 6’2″, 220 pounds, Watson’s size does have some scouts concerned, as they aren’t sure he’ll be able to withstand the pounding of an NFL campaign. For what it’s worth, I sent Watson to Kansas City in PFR’s first 2017 mock draft.
  • Some NFL decision-makers believe Washington cornerback Kevin King is the most overrated player in the 2017 draft, per Cole (video link). King is an impressive physical specimen, especially for a defensive back, as he stands at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. But evaluators don’t believe King’s performance on the field matches his stature. While King has been creeping into the first round of mock drafts — specifically as a possible Seahawks target — one scout said he grades King as no better than a seventh-round choice.
  • As Peter King of TheMMQB.com reported earlier this week, the 49ers and Jets are among the clubs most eager to trade down at the top of the draft, but any such deals could come with a relatively cheap price attached, according to Cole (video link). Outside of Texas A&M edge defender Myles Garrett, the draft doesn’t contain multiple “overwhelming” players, per Cole, while the supply of clubs looking to trade down doesn’t equal the demand of teams hoping to move up.
  • One prospect that could lead to draft-day discussions is Stanford pass rusher Solomon Thomas, whom most NFL clubs consider the “clear” No. 2 player in this year’s class, reports Cole (video link). If the cost of trading up does remain low, several teams might consider moving up the board in order to land Thomas, as such a maneuver would be viewed as an “extraordinary bargain.”

Malik Hooker Gets Medical Thumbs Up

Good news for Ohio State safety Malik Hooker. The results of his Combine recheck are in and things went about as well they could, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Hooker is healing well and there are no questions about his long-term health heading into the draft. Malik Hooker (vertical)

Hooker has been unable to participate workouts for teams prior to the draft due to a surgically repaired labrum and hernia. Still, Hooker is regarded as the best safety in this year’s class and is widely viewed as a top ten pick. Both the Bears at No. 3 and the Titans at No. 5 are potential landing spots. Our latest mock draft has Hooker going No. 6 overall to the Jets.

Hooker started only one year in college but scouts believe that he has some of the highest upside of any player in this year’s draft. Now that his medical recheck came back OK, he’s still likely to be the first safety off the board, keeping himself ahead of LSU’s Jamal Adams.

As a redshirt sophomore, Hooker had seven interceptions and returned three of those for touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Notes: McGloin, Wentz, Draft

This year, Eagles player personnel vice president Joe Douglas and de facto general manager Howie Roseman are teaming up to run the draft, as Les Bowen of The Philadelphia News writes. “Since he’s been here, have we done everything that I wanted to do? No. Have we done everything that he wants to do? No. But have we done everything that’s right for the Philadelphia Eagles? Yes,” Roseman said. Earlier this week, both men spoke highly of controversial Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

Here’s more from Philly:

  • Matt McGloin‘s one-year deal with the Eagles is worth $800K, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). The quarterback gets $775K of that sum from his base salary plus a $25K workout bonus and no guaranteed money. “Moxy” currently projects to be the third QB on the Eagles’ depth chart behind starter Carson Wentz and primary backup Nick Foles, but the Eagles could conceivably use a late pick on another signal caller in the upcoming draft. It’s also not a given that they’ll carry three QBs on the 53-man roster in the fall.
  • The Eagles will listen to what Wentz has to say about certain prospects, as Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com writes. “If there’s any player on our roster that has insight into a guy in free agency or the draft, it’s part of our information gathering,” Roseman said. “Certainly, it’s no different with Carson. If he has insight because he worked out with a particular guy or knows a guy from college, then we want that information. But that’s not unusual just to him.” This offseason, Wentz worked out in California with several draft prospects, including Cooper Kupp, Chad Hansen, Mack Hollins, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, so he might be able to give the front office some extra scouting material.
  • Mike Kern of the Daily News advocates for the Eagles to take running back Christian McCaffrey at No. 14 overall. He also pitches the unorthodox idea of the Eagles going for tight end O.J. Howard if he falls that far, but that would be a surprise given that they already have Zach Ertz at TE.

NFL Draft Rumors: Panthers, McCaffrey, Redskins

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman believes that there are “half a dozen” three down backs to be had in this year’s draft and estimated that RB is one of the strongest groups, along with defensive end and secondary positions (link via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer). When talking to reporters today, the GM was asked he considers Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey to be one of those six players.

He can run it. He can catch it. I guess that’s three downs. [McCaffrey] has certainly shown he can carry the load at Stanford,” the GM said.

There has been lots of talk about Carolina targeting a running back at No. 8 overall. Leonard Fournette has been the popular prognostication for the Panthers there, but McCaffrey might also be in the mix. Then again, if Gettleman sees four other tailbacks as well-rounded players, then he might be willing to hold off on addressing the position. Beyond Fournette and McCaffrey, there are also standouts like FSU’s Dalvin Cook, Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara, and Texas’ D’Onta Foreman to consider.

Here’s the latest draft buzz:

  • The Redskins are smitten with Temple linebacker Haason Reddick, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) hears. Washington currently picks at No. 17 overall, so Miller believes that acquiring him would require the team to trade up.
  • USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson didn’t take a visit with the Patriots, but there’s been contact between the team and the player, Doug Kyed of NESN tweets. The Patriots may have to get back into the first round in order to get in the mix for him, however. As of this writing, the Pats’ first selection doesn’t come until the third round (No. 72 overall). Jackson rates as the 37th best player on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board and some draft analysts have him up even higher.
  • Two weeks ago, Falcons coach Dan Quinn put Mizzou’s Charles Harris and Kansas State’s Jordan Willis through a workout side-by-side (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).

Poll: Where Will Reuben Foster Be Drafted?

Every year, we see high-end NFL Draft prospects slide as the draft approaches. As talented as he is, we have to wonder if Thursday’s report of Reuben Foster‘s failed drug test from the combine will affect his stock. Reuben Foster (vertical)

From a talent perspective, there’s reason to believe he could go within the top 10. Our first mock draft had Foster going No. 8 overall to the 49ers in a projected draft day trade with the Panthers. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper says he would give the Titans an “A” grade if they were to select him No. 5 overall. The Alabama star is also Todd McShay of ESPN.com‘s ninth-ranked prospect. The Niners and Titans aren’t the only potential landing spots this high in the draft. The Bengals could consider Foster at No. 9 overall since newly-signed inside linebacker Kevin Minter is only under contract for one season. There’s also the possibility of teams trading up to nab Foster and clubs like the Saints, Cardinals, Colts, and Redskins could be among those with interest.

On the other hand, there’s all of the red flags to consider. Foster had shoulder surgery in February and some teams could be wary of how that will hold up in the long term. His argument with a hospital worker at the combine also didn’t do him any favors and portrayed him as something of a loose cannon. The failed drug test is now the latest piece of bad publicity to emerge, though the linebacker is insistent that he did not purposely dilute his sample. Instead, he says that he over-hydrated in order to combat a stomach bug and also keep his weight up for when it came time to step on the scale.

All things considered, do you see Foster going in the top 10? Cast your vote below.

NFC Notes: Mixon, Eagles, Lions, Stafford

Thanks to his off-field transgressions, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon‘s draft stock is reportedly dropping, but the Eagles are among those who have him on their board, writes Jeff McLane of Philly.com. Owner Jeffrey Lurie has given team brass his blessing to consider drafting Mixon, two sources confirmed to McLane. Notably, two of the Eagles’ key decision-makers, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, spoke highly of Mixon’s abilities on Thursday. “There’s not much he can’t do,” Roseman said. “He’s incredible with the ball in his hands, you can split him out, he’s got really good hands [as a receiver], he can pass-protect, he can make people miss.” Douglas added that “a lot of people think that he is one of the top backs in this draft,” but he noted that “most teams” are considering Mixon’s character issues.

More on Philadelphia and a pair of its NFC foes:

  • Speculatively, Mixon could be a possibility for the Eagles beginning in Round 2. Before debating whether to take him, they’ll have to make a decision in the opening round, where they’re slated to pick 14th. The club has come up with “probably about seven or eight scenarios” for that spot, according to Douglas, and Roseman expects to end up with a star-caliber player with that selection. “One thing I know — when we make a pick at 14, with the way our board looks right now, we’re going to all be high-fiving then, and very excited about that pick,” declared Roseman (via Les Bowen of Philly.com).
  • Entering a contract year, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could become the highest-paid player in the NFL by next offseason, though Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press argues that he’s not worth it. While Monarrez expects the Lions to cave to Stafford’s demands, he opines that the signal-caller’s age (30 next February) and zero playoff wins are among the reasons the team would be better off letting him test the market than become the league’s richest player in Detroit.
  • Speaking of the Lions, general manager Bob Quinn addressed the strengths of this year’s draft Thursday, saying it’s particularly deep at running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety and tight end (Twitter link via Tim Twentyman of the team website).
  • Linebacker Sam Acho‘s one-year deal with the Bears is worth $855K, including $130K fully guaranteed, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Bills, Browns, Patriots

The Bills will send representatives to Clemson to meet with quarterback Deshaun Watson on Friday, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bills general manager Doug Whaley is supposedly “in love” with Watson, but there’s a belief that the team’s highest-graded QB prospect is North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said Thursday on NFL Network (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). The problem for Buffalo, if it looks to draft a first-round passer, is that Trubisky might not be on the board when it’s on the clock at No. 10. Cleveland, which owns the 12th pick, may be angling to move ahead of the Bills to ensure it grabs Trubisky.

More on Buffalo and two other AFC clubs:

  • Shortly after Cleveland acquired Brock Osweiler from Houston last month, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported the Browns were willing to eat around half of the quarterback’s $16MM base salary for 2017 in order to trade him. It turns out the exact number is $10MM, tweets La Canfora. It seems likely that the Browns will eventually cut Osweiler if they’re unable to trade him, but given that he’s still on the roster, both executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson have said that they expect him to compete for the team’s starting QB job. Of course, the Browns will probably add another signal-caller in the draft (be it Trubisky or someone else), perhaps lessening Osweiler’s chances of making the club.
  • The Patriots ventured to the University of Connecticut on Thursday for a meeting with safety Obi Melifonwu, according to Ryan Hannable of WEEI. New England’s not slated to pick until the third round, No. 72 overall, and Melifonwu should be long gone by then. However, trading cornerback Malcolm Butler to the Saints for the 32nd pick could put the Patriots in position to select Melifonwu.
  • Austin Knoblauch of NFL.com offers more details on a bizarre incident involving Bills offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio this week. Police in Elma, N.Y., responded to a 9:22 a.m. call on Wednesday regarding a suspicious man in a field, which turned out to be a partially undressed Kouandjio. Firefighters then had to administer first aid to Kouandjio for an undisclosed condition. And though Kouandjio screamed “Shoot me!,” he was cooperative with deputies and was not arrested. Kouandjio did go to Erie County Medical Center for further evaluation, however.