2019 NFL Draft

Jets “Determined” To Trade Down

The Jets’ desire to move down from the No. 3 overall pick has been well documented at this point. Apparently, their motivation is reaching a fever pitch in the buildup to Thursday night’s draft. The Jets are “determined” to slide back, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears.

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan is on the record as saying he’s “open” to the idea of moving back. Apparently, he’s been underselling it.

They seem to really, really want to move down,” said one NFL exec. “Maybe they’re just keeping their options open, but it sure seems like that No. 3 pick is for sale.”

As of this writing, the Jets have only six picks, which is less than ideal for a club with multiple holes in the midst of an exceptionally deep draft in the first four rounds. Moving back from No. 3 overall could give the Jets an impressive haul of choices, especially if a QB-needy team like the Redskins bite.

The Jets are seeking to at least recoup the second-round pick they surrendered when they moved up for Sam Darnold last year, one source tells Vacchiano. The Jets could easily get that and then some, depending on how far back they’re willing to move. Still, any deal likely won’t happen until draft day and might not transpire until the Jets are called to the podium on Thursday night.

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Redskins Exploring Move Into Top 5

The Redskins have explored moving into the Top 5 of the NFL Draft, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). As it stands, the Redskins are set to pick at No. 15 overall, but they could vault up the board between now and Thursday night. 

It’s not immediately clear who the Redskins are targeting, but such a move could put them in range for quarterbacks like Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock. It’s also not clear who the Redskins are talking to, though the Jets at No. 3 would make sense given their well-known desire to move down and add draft picks.

If the Redskins are able to get into the Top 5, they’ll sneak ahead of the Giants at No. 6, which would eliminate one of their biggest competitors at QB. Of course, moving up that far will cost the Redskins and history indicates that they may have to part with a future first-round pick to get a deal done. They can also deal from this year’s Round 2 and 3 picks at No. 46, No. 76, and No. 96 overall.

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.

Whatever the Redskins do from here, it sounds like a Josh Rosen trade won’t be a part of their plans.

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Jerry Tillery Ahead Of Schedule

Good news for Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. The potential first-round pick is ahead of schedule in his rehab from shoulder surgery, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. 

Tillery is expected to be ready to for all football activities by early July, which should help his draft stock heading into Thursday. The DT met with the Broncos, Chiefs, Eagles, Colts, and four other teams in the lead-up to the draft and any one of those clubs could consider him towards the end of the first round.

Analysts are high on Tillery’s potential and given the latest news, it would be a surprise if he lasted until the third round. The youngster offers upside as a defensive tackle in 4-3 schemes but can also fit as an end for 3-4 clubs.

In his final year with the Fighting Irish, Tillery registered seven sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. It also helps that Tillery had a strong showing at the combine, including the best SPARQ score (a measurement of overall athleticism) of any defensive linemen.

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Latest On Montez Sweat

Montez Sweat‘s stock has bottomed out and it’s possible that he will not hear his name called on Thursday night, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears. This may help to explain why Sweat – who has been long projected to go in the first round – has opted against attending the NFL Draft in person

Sweat’s heart condition has caused some teams to remove him from their draft board, so there are definitely less suitors for his services. Some cardiologists say that Sweat’s enlarged heart will not prevent him from playing, but there’s also no known case of another NFL player with the same issue. The unknowns have created serious question marks for talent evaluators, despite Sweat’s measurables and on-field production.

Despite the heart condition, Sweat racked up 22.5 sacks over his final two seasons with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Texans, Bengals, 49ers, Bills, Raiders, Packers, and Buccaneers all met with him, but it’s not clear whether all of those teams still have him in consideration.

Last year, Michigan standout Maurice Hurst plummeted to the fifth round due to a (different) heart condition and Sweat could be in for a similar fall. Hurst’s case may work to Sweat’s advantage, however. Last year, Hurst appeared in 13 games (ten starts) for the Raiders and racked up four sacks with 31 total tackles.

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Cardinals Receiving Interest In No. 1 Pick

The Cardinals have received feeler calls from teams inquiring about trading up for the No. 1 overall pick, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. However, at this time, it’s not clear how serious the Cardinals are about moving the top choice. 

For months, it has been widely rumored that the Cardinals will use the No. 1 pick to select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. But, for what it’s worth, the Cardinals reportedly have not reached a consensus on the dynamic athlete. Some in the Cardinals’ front office would prefer to spread the wealth a bit by trading down and filling multiple holes on the roster. With several QB-needy teams also eyeing Murray (the Raiders, some say, could be in the hunt), there’s a real opportunity for the Cardinals to get excellent value if they’re willing to pass up on this year’s most intriguing signal caller.

Top defenders like Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams would also make plenty of sense for the Cardinals and if they’re not specifically hung up on landing Bosa, they could be able to move down, fix their matador defense, and still come away with another young QB such as Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock.

The Cardinals have only a few days left to sift through the offers and make up their minds – the first round of the NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday night at 8pm ET/7pm CT.

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Memphis RB Darrell Henderson Met With Four Teams

Memphis running back Darrell Henderson is now considered a possibility to sneak into the back end of the first round of the draft, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Henderson has recently met with the Rams, Eagles, Raiders, and Cardinals.

Henderson (5’9″, 200) topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of the past two seasons and averaged an astounding 8.9 yards per carry in both campaigns. He ranks fourth behind Josh Jacobs (Alabama), Miles Sanders (Penn State), and Devin Singletary (FAU) on The Draft Network‘s running back rankings, and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com calls Henderson a “home run hitter” while comparing him to now-49er Tevin Coleman.

Henderson is exceptional at running out of the shotgun formation: over the last four college seasons, Henderson ranks third in Graham Barfield’s Yards Created metric — which attempts to identify production a running back generated on his own, independent of offensive line play — out of shotgun. Circling back to the the four clubs Henderson has recently visited, the Eagles ranked fifth league-wide in shotgun run rate, per Warren Sharp. The Raiders finished 11th, the Cardinal 23rd, and the Rams dead last (just 4%).

Raiders Eyeing Starting Guard In Draft

The Raiders disbanded their successful guard tandem this offseason, trading All-Pro Kelechi Osemele and a sixth-round pick to the Jets for a fifth-round selection. They plan to find Gabe Jackson‘s next guard mate in this draft, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes.

Osemele and Jackson started together for three seasons, forming one of the NFL’s best guard duos. This stands to be Jackson’s sixth season as a Raiders starter. He will join Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and, likely, Kolton Miller on the Raiders’ first-string line. But it does not look like the Raiders want Denzelle Good or UFA addition Jordan Devey to be part of the unit.

Good, who started three games for the Raiders last season after the team claimed him late in the year, re-signed on a one-year, $1.8MM deal. Devey (two Chiefs starts in 2018) will make $880K this season.

Beyond their three first-round picks, the Raiders hold the No. 35 overall selection. Their next pick is not until No. 106, pointing to the team using one of its first four choices on a guard. The current thinking is a quarterback will not be one of Oakland’s first three picks. The team is eyeing cornerback help in this draft.

The Raiders’ only known pre-draft guard visit was with mid-round prospect Connor McGovern, but their staff coached Dalton Risner, a tackle who is likely to move inside at the pro level, along with Chris Lindstrom and centers Garrett Bradbury and Erik McCoy at the Senior Bowl.

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DE Montez Sweat Won’t Attend NFL Draft

It sounds like Montez Sweat‘s camp may be preparing for some draft-day disappointment. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Mississippi State defensive end will not be attending the NFL draft. Sweat was previously listed among the 23 attendees, but recent reports may have forced the lineman to rethink his spot in the green room.

“My devoted grandparents and a host of other family members helped me to get to this point in my life,” Sweat said (via Schefter on Twitter), “and I wanted to celebrate this special day with my family so we all chose to do so where it all started for me, Stone Mountain, Georgia.”

We heard yesterday that a heart condition has caused some teams to entirely remove Sweat from their draft board. Sweat has an enlarged heart, and some teams’ doctors have noted that there is no example of a player dealing with this issue in the current NFL. On the flip side, there’s a sense that some teams will be willing to take the risk, with cardiologists indicating that Sweat would be able to have an NFL career.

Despite the heart condition, Sweat managed to appear in 26 games over his final two seasons with the Bulldogs, compiling 22.5 sacks over that span. His known visits were with the Texans, Bengals, 49ers, Bills, Raiders, Packers and Buccaneers. While Sweat was previously expected to be a first-rounder, it’s uncertain when he’ll be selected during next week’s draft. As our own Sam Robinson pointed out, Maurice Hurst, viewed by some as a first-round prospect last year, fell to the fifth round last year because of a different heart condition.

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Montez Sweat Off Some Teams’ Draft Boards

The heart issue that surfaced for Montez Sweat at the Combine did not impede the Mississippi State product from participating in drills in Indianapolis. Nor did it keep him off the field during his time with the Bulldogs, with the defensive end playing in 26 games the past two seasons.

But it may have major ramifications on his draft stock. Some teams have taken Sweat off their draft boards, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (video link).

Sweat has an enlarged heart, Pelissero reports, adding some teams’ doctors have told their scouts no example of a player dealing with this issue exists in the current NFL. However, athletes in other sports have been able to participate despite this condition.

A sense exists that more progressive teams are willing to take the risk of adding the dynamic pass rusher. Some have spoken to cardiologists who have indicated Sweat would be able to have an NFL career, per Pelissero. Other teams, however, are not comfortable taking him and have taken him off their boards.

The 22-year-old prospect registered 22.5 sacks the past two seasons. He blazed to a 4.41-second 40-yard dash time. His known visits were with the Texans, Bengals, 49ers, Bills, Raiders, Packers and Buccaneers.

Were his heart not a concern, it would appear Sweat would be a lock to go early in the first round. He still may. But it should be noted Maurice Hurst, viewed by some as a first-round prospect last year, fell to the fifth round last year because of a different heart condition. It would not be surprising to see Sweat drop next week as a result of his enlarged heart diagnosis.

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South Rumors: Texans, Falcons, Saints

The Texans have received positive health news on two offensive players, as both receiver Will Fuller and left tackle Matt Kalil are expected to be ready for the regular season after sustaining injuries in 2018, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (all Twitter links). Fuller averaged a career-high 15.7 yards per reception in seven games before suffering a torn ACL, but he’s now recovering nicely. Kalil, who inked a one-year deal with Houston after being released by Carolina, missed all of last year while dealing with a knee issue, but general manager Brian Gaine says Kalil is expected to compete with Julien Davenport to start on Deshaun Watson‘s blindside.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard is a second-round target of the Falcons, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Atlanta owns the 45th pick, so Howard could certainly be available when the Falcons make their second-round selection. Although Atlanta recently extended incumbent right tackle Ty Sambrailo, his new contract is essentially a one-year deal with multiple team options. Howard has also met with the Jets during the pre-draft process.
  • Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison‘s one-year deal with the Falcons will qualify as a minimum salary benefit contract, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Davison will collect an $895K base salary ($110K guaranteed) and a $90K signing bonus, but he’ll only carry the salary cap charge of a second-year veteran plus his signing bonus — a total of $660K. A fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Davison started 48 games over the past four seasons in New Orleans, and will now give Atlanta a run-stuffing option alongside fellow defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
  • Saints cornerback Ken Crawley is planning to sign his original round restricted free agent tender when New Orleans begins its offseason program on Monday, as Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com writes. As of yet, Crawley has not received any interest from any rival clubs, and isn’t expected to until Friday’s deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets. Crawley is now scheduled to earn $2.025MM for the 2019 campaign, but none of that total is guaranteed, an important distinction given that Crawley isn’t a lock to make the Saints’ roster after finishing as a bottom-three cornerback last season, per Pro Football Focus.