Here are some notes from around the league on the final Sunday before the Scouting Combine.
- Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union examines a few reasons why the recently traded Julius Thomas did not meet expectations with the Jaguars. Citing a league source, O’Halloran says that Thomas’ Jacksonville tenure was marred by the fact that he did not make enough downfield catches, that he did not create enough yards after the catch, and that he performed poorly as a blocker. Still, O’Halloran believes the Jags should not have dealt Thomas, as he says they are not in position to part with talented players, regardless of their flaws.
- The Saints have expressed their desire to bolster their pass rush this offseason, and Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune notes that New Orleans, for the first time in a while, has money to spend in free agency. Holder adds that New Orleans would probably be willing to make a splash for a big-name pass rusher like Melvin Ingram, though if Ingram gets the franchise tag from the Chargers, or if his price becomes too rich for the Saints’ liking, Holder points to Nick Perry as a quality alternative.
- Without a similar deep-threat playmaker on the team, James Walker of ESPN.com wonders why the Dolphins would potentially allow Kenny Stills to depart as a free agent. One of the top wideouts who stand to be available this year, Stills has drawn interest from the receiver-needy Eagles and wouldn’t mind moving to the west coast. The former Oklahoma Sooner is an Oceanside, Calif., native. While the Dolphins have reportedly attempted to prioritize Stills, it’s clear they will have competition if he reaches the market.
- The NFL rule that keeps incoming draft picks with certain types of past off-field misconduct away from all league-sponsored events — like the Scouting Combine — is coming under increased scrutiny, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Florio observes that teams will evaluate all players regardless of whether they are invited to the Combine, but they nonetheless prefer that the players be available in one place at the same time. As such, the competition committee could address the issue later this year, either by modifying the current rule or by scrapping it entirely, and any changes could be effective as soon as 2018.
- Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com believes that as many as three guards could go in the first round of this year’s draft, with Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson, Indiana’s Dan Feeney, and Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp all looking like players that could be among the top 32 selected. Pauline notes that the offensive line as a unit is probably the weakest area of the draft, which means that some of the higher-rated prospects — like Lamp, whom Pauline does not believe is worthy of a first-round selection — and even those with middle-round grades will be overdrafted.
Sam Robinson contributed to this report