Two running backs, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, are likely to be among the top eight players selected in this year’s NFL draft, reports Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The expectation is that Fournette will come off the board first, per Schrager. Speculatively, the 49ers (No. 2), Jaguars (No. 4), Jets (No. 6) and Panthers (No. 8) could be logical fits for either Fournette or McCaffrey. Of those four clubs, only San Francisco’s starting running back (Carlos Hyde) had a strong year in 2016, but the team’s new management reportedly wants to make a change in the backfield.
More from Schrager on the eve of the draft (all links via Twitter):
- If the Browns don’t take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky first overall, they could use their second first-rounder (No. 12) in a package to move up for him. Should that happen, Schrager lists the Jaguars and Titans (No. 5) as potential trade partners for Cleveland. Jacksonville is reportedly considering taking a QB at No. 4 to replace Blake Bortles, but that could be a smokescreen. Meanwhile, the Titans are set under center with Marcus Mariota, and they are indeed motivated to move down and collect more picks.
- Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is poised to be the first pass catcher off the board, beating out wide receivers John Ross, Corey Davis and Mike Williams, according to Schrager. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Wednesday (on Twitter) that Howard received an A-plus medical report, adding that he’s “a very clean, complete prospect.”
- A pair of linebackers, Temple’s Haason Reddick and Florida’s Jarrad Davis, are entering the draft with soaring stock, relays Schrager. Reddick probably won’t last beyond the first 11 picks, while Davis should go anywhere from 15th to 25th. “Tremendous interviews” helped make Davis a first-round lock.