Andrew Thomas

NFL Draft Rumors: Dolphins, Raiders, 49ers

Before the Dolphins stuck at No. 5 overall and drafted quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, there were rumblings that Miami wanted to trade up not for a signal-caller, but for an offensive tackle. Had the Dolphins followed through with that plan, they would have been targeting Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Thomas ended up coming off the board to the Giants at No. 4, so Miami would have had to get to the third overall pick in order to have a chance. The Dolphins ended up finding an offensive tackle later in Round 1 with USC’s Austin Jackson:

Here’s more from last night’s action:

  • The Falcons were heavily linked not only to a potential trade up, but specifically to Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson prior to the draft. Atlanta did want to move up for Henderson, per Rapoport (Twitter link), but they couldn’t find a trade partner for a number of reasons. Both the Dolphins and Chargers wanted quarterbacks, the Panthers refused to trade within the division, the Cardinals were stuck on Isaiah Simmons, and the Jaguars wanted Henderson for themselves.
  • The Raiders were attempting to trade back from the 12th pick before selecting Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs, according to Vic Tafur of The Atheltic (Twitter link). Speculatively, Las Vegas may have been happy to land any of the top-three pass-catchers and figured it could move down, acquire more picks, and still find a wide receiver. Instead, the Raiders surprisingly went with Ruggs, who was widely viewed as the third-best WR behind CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy.
  • After trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts in March, the 49ers “quietly” tried to sign several free agent defensive tackles with no success, tweets Rapoport. Instead, San Francisco moved back one pick before adding South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link), Kinlaw was off at least one team’s board due to medical issues. Most clubs, however, deemed him only a “moderate” injury risk.
  • The Cowboys debated between Lamb and LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson at pick No. 17 before ultimately deciding on Lamb, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Chaisson was a popular target for Dallas in many mock drafts, but when Lamb unexpectedly fell to the middle of Round 1, the Cowboys couldn’t pass. Dallas will now feature a superb three-WR set of Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup.

Dolphins Hoping To Acquire No. 3 Pick Without Trading No. 5?

Linked to quarterbacks at No. 5 throughout the pre-draft process (and connected to a 2020 first-round passer before the 2019 draft), the Dolphins are now believed to have a top-five tackle in sight. A report earlier Wednesday indicated Miami is interested in moving up to No. 3 for a tackle. However, the Dolphins are not conceding that they will have to give up their No. 5 pick to do so.

Instead of dealing the fifth overall pick to move up for the third, the Dolphins are trying to work out a deal that will allow them to acquire No. 3 and keep No. 5, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Only one team in the past 19 years — the 2018 Browns — has made two top-five picks in the same draft.

The Dolphins have spoken with the Lions about a move. Miami signed ex-top-10 tackle Ereck Flowers but will play him at guard; the team features a major need at tackle. Climbing to No. 3 would put the Dolphins in position to draft the best one — ahead of the likely tackle-seeking Giants at No. 4. The Dolphins have an interesting ammo arsenal to try and obtain two top-five picks, holding the Nos. 18 and 26 selections and two second-round choices.

Acquiring the No. 3 pick without giving up No. 5 would open the door to the Dolphins drafting a tackle and a quarterback. The latest out of Miami has pointed back to Tua Tagovailoa — after a stream of Justin Herbert buzz. The Dolphins taking a tackle at 3, however, opens the door to the Giants then holding an auction for any team wanting to climb ahead of Miami’s No. 5 pick to land Tagovailoa.

In addition to eyeing left tackles atop the draft, the Dolphins are interested in a right tackle. Dolphins GM Chris Grier likes Andrew Thomas at left tackle and his ex-Georgia teammate, Isaiah Wilson, Jackson adds. Wilson is viewed as a second-round-level talent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: What Will Giants Do At No. 4?

While the variance in this draft’s top three picks may be low, the Giants could go in a number of directions at No. 4 overall. They have been connected to several different strategies.

Picking in the top six for the third straight year (after never landing there from 2005-17), Big Blue has needs at a few places. The Giants could use help on the offensive line and at outside linebacker and safety. Based on the organization’s history and Dave Gettleman‘s impossible-sounding track record featuring zero trade-down maneuvers in seven drafts as either the Panthers or Giants GM, the Giants would be expected to hold their pick at No. 4. But noise about the team moving down has emerged.

Gettleman said this week he is seriously entertaining the prospect of moving down — something he did not strongly consider the past two years when the Giants took Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. The Giants may be going as far as planting a seed about Justin Herbert interest. Gettleman was believed to be higher on Herbert than Jones last year. But with only two teams in the past 38 drafts using back-to-back first-round picks on quarterbacks — the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts and the Cardinals in the past two years — teams do not appear to be buying this.

With Chase Young a lock to be off the board by No. 4 and the Giants not expected to take a cornerback that high, they may be down to tackle or Clemson do-everything defender Isaiah Simmons. The Giants have not gotten what they paid for in Nate Solder and signed stopgap right tackle Cameron Fleming. The latter, however, could be used as a swing man — as he was in New England and Dallas — to open the door for a rookie to start at right tackle.

Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs has been linked to the Giants for several weeks. However, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, massive Louisville blocker Mekhi Becton and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills loom as possibilities as well.

The Giants are evaluating Simmons’ fit. He played everywhere from off-ball linebacker to safety to edge rusher to slot cornerback at Clemson. That kind of rare versatility prompted ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold to label him the draft’s top prospect.

While Simmons could help the Giants in multiple areas, Gettleman has preached offensive line development since arriving in December 2017. They also would be in a better position to address their edge rusher need with more picks, hence the greater interest in trading down.

So where what will the Giants end up doing at No. 4 overall? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rapoport’s Latest: Becton, Murray, RBs

Here is the latest on the upcoming virtual draft, courtesy of NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport:

  • D’Andre Swift profiles as many teams’ top-graded running back, and some are viewing the No. 26-32 range as the sector where he could land or even multiple running backs could go (Twitter link). Holding the No. 26 pick, the Dolphins are perhaps the most notable running back-seeking team in that range. They have been the team most closely connected to backs thus far. The Seahawks, Ravens, Titans, Packers, 49ers and Chiefs pick behind them.
  • Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray may be one of the highest-floor players in the draft, with Rapoport noting (via Twitter) no team has come through with a black mark against him. This represents obvious good news after Murray suffered a hamstring injury at the Combine. Before the NFL nixed pre-draft workouts and visits, Murray was scheduled to meet with 15 teams. It’s likely he spoke to many via video chat. Scouts Inc. grades Murray as the draft’s No. 25 prospect.
  • On that note, mammoth tackle Mekhi Becton has generated the most excitement from scouts, per RapSheet. The Louisville blocker goes 6-foot-7, 364 pounds. While his frame reminds of Raiders right tackle Trent Brown, the latter was a fifth-round selection. Becton, who somehow ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash at that size, may well land in the top 10 and probably has the highest ceiling of all the tackle prospects.
  • A less exciting player, but one that might be a safer pick: Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas. Teams are calling the ex-Bulldogs blocker the most overlooked player who will go the highest, per Rapoport. Thomas could wind up in the top five, with Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline noting he is the favorite to be the Dolphins’ pick if they surprise most by not going quarterback at No. 5.
  • After the top four tackles go off the board, there figures to be a gap until the next one is picked. Houston tackle Josh Jones may be the player with the highest variance, with teams viewing him anywhere from a first- to a third-round choice, Rapoport adds. Jones grades as Scouts Inc.’s No. 50 overall prospect and seventh-ranked tackle — also behind Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland and USC’s Austin Jackson.
  • Going into what’s viewed as a deep draft at wide receiver, at least one GM views it as a historically deep all-around class. Said GM placed first-round grades on more than 32 prospects for the first time in his tenure, RapSheet notes.

NFL Draft Rumors: Giants, Herbert, Tua

Will the Giants actually consider quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 4 overall pick, even though they already have Daniel Jones under center? The answer is no, according to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, though GM Dave Gettleman has been eyeing him for quite some time. Had Herbert entered last year, he would have been Gettleman’s top choice, Pauline hears.

Here’s a look at the latest draft rumblings from around the NFL:

  • In private conversations, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has indicated that Herbert is not actually in consideration for the No. 5 pick, a source close to Ross tells Pauline. That same source says the pick will either be used on Tua Tagovailoa or a position player, with Jordan Love being selected sometime later. If it’s a non-QB at No. 5, Pauline hears that tackle Andrew Thomas is the most likely choice.
  • Multiple NFL execs tell ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler that the Vikings are looking to move back. The Vikings own Nos. 22 and 25, but they could fill their needs at cornerback and wide receiver later on. In the second round, they should be able to land one of this year’s second-tier corners such as Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, LSU’s Kristian Fulton, or Alabama’s Trevon Diggs – the brother of former Vikes receiver Stefon Diggs.
  • Based on what we’ve heard, Washington’s Jacob Eason profiles as a Day 2 pick for QB-needy teams like the Patriots. He could also be a fit for teams looking to groom their next signal caller. One AFC exec pondered the possibility of Eason going to the Buccaneers, where the pure passer serve as the heir to Tom Brady. The Bucs own the No. 45 overall pick in the second round and Eason could be there for them, provided that teams like the Colts (No. 34) don’t pounce first.

NFL Draft Rumors: Thomas, Henderson, Tua

With the NFL Draft just around the corner, here’s a look at the latest rumblings from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller:

  • There’s increasing chatter about Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson landing in the top 10, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report hears. Henderson hasn’t garnered the same level of hype as Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah over the last few months, but it’s starting to sound like he has closed the gap. Earlier this week, an anonymous GM told Peter King of NBC Sports that 40% of NFL teams likely have Henderson ranked as the draft’s best CB, ahead of Okudah. Miller isn’t convinced that Henderson will go top 10, but the Panthers (No. 7) and Jaguars (No. 9) could give him consideration.
  • Throughout the evaluation process, offensive linemen Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) and Mekhi Becton (Louisville) have been highly touted, and Tristan Wirfs has been connected to the Giants at No. 4. Still, there’s buzz that Georgia’s Andrew Thomas could wind up as the first offensive tackle selected, Miller hears. Some may prefer the upside of Wills and Becton or the four-position potential of Wirfs, but Thomas may be the most NFL-ready of the bunch. Of course, with limited OTAs on the horizon, teams have even less time to teach rookies.
  • If the Dolphins are truly targeting Justin Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa, league officials believe that the Alabama star could drop out of the top 10. Things seemed to be trending up for Tagovailoa after the latest check on his surgically-repaired hip, but it’s possible that teams are skittish without getting their own up-close inspection. Personally, we like Tagovailoa’s chances of going in the top 10 – perhaps from a team leaping up the board – even if Miami passes on him.
  • Earlier today, we profiled Georgia star and potential first-round pick D’Andre Swift.

Jets Eyeing OL At No. 11?

It’s no secret that the Jets could use some help at wide receiver. And, with the No. 11 pick, they could have the opportunity to take CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, who stand as the cream of a rich WR crop. Meanwhile, they also need to protect quarterback Sam Darnold (and his spleen), so they could opt for offensive line help in the first round. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, the Jets have done their homework on this year’s top big men. 

[RELATED: Jets Could Also Start The WR Run At No. 11]

Before the travel restrictions, the Jets had dinner and a private workout with Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, per Pelissero. He also hears that they’ve hosted Louisville’s Mekhi Becton on a top 30 visit and Zoom-chatted with Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. They’re the four best offensive lineman in this year’s class, so there’s no guarantee that any of them will slip to Gang Green. Thomas has also garnered interest from the Dolphins (No. 5), Pelissero hears.

Of that quintet, Wirfs is widely viewed as the most NFL-ready. He also offers serious athleticism for his size (6’5″, 320 pounds), plus versatility. At Iowa, he played primarily at left and right tackle. Pro scouts also believe that he has the ability to move inside and play guard.

The top 10 already has teams in need of line help and other teams are contemplating trades to land one of this year’s best OLs. The Bucs and Broncos have serious interest in moving up the board and they could leapfrog the Jets on Thursday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Packers, Steelers, Browns

The Packers made their Hall of Famer-to-future Hall of Famer quarterback baton pass because they planned far ahead in 2005, drafting Aaron Rodgers as Brett Favre‘s heir apparent. Green Bay has made noise on the quarterback front this year, with the team’s Jordan Love interest being the most recent example. Rodgers has said he wants to play into his 40s, though, and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller notes a successor is not viewed as a must in this draft. Rodgers, 36, is under contract through 2023 and has received a Pro Bowl invite in every season in which he’s played more than nine games since 2010. The Packers are thin at backup quarterback, however, with only UDFAs Tim Boyle and Manny Wilkins on the roster behind Rodgers. It would stand to reason Brian Gutekunst will explore the addition of a developmental player to fill that role.

Moving to some AFC North matters, here is the latest on the North divisions:

  • James Conner has fared reasonably well as Le’Veon Bell‘s successor, landing on the 2018 Pro Bowl roster and totaling 20 touchdowns in 23 games over the past two seasons. But he has battled injuries in multiple years. Despite the running back being a Pittsburgh native, The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette does not see the Steelers exploring an extension for the contract-year starter (subscription required). Third-year back Jaylen Samuels and second-year cog Benny Snell — each a Day 3 pick — reside as Conner’s backups, pointing to a possible addition at the position in the upcoming draft.
  • Despite giving B.J. Finney a second-round RFA tender last year, the Steelers did not make an effort to re-sign the guard in free agency, Bouchette adds. Finney defected to the Seahawks on a two-year, $8MM deal. Either sliding Stefen Wisniewski into the recently retired Ramon Foster‘s left guard spot or moving starting right tackle Matt Feiler to that position may be on the table, Bouchette adds. Foster’s 145 starts mark the fifth-most by a Steelers offensive lineman, so the franchise will be trudging into new territory next season.
  • Viewed as a landing spot for one of this draft’s top tackles, the Browns are doing their homework. They had planned to make Georgia alum Andrew Thomas one of their “30” visits, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, but the NFL nixed pre-draft visits early in the process because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Browns instead conducted a video-chat session with the first-round talent. The Browns, who hold the No. 10 overall pick, have not addressed their left tackle need. They restructured Chris Hubbard‘s deal, however, putting the embattled right tackle in position to keep his job. Thomas saw time at both left and right tackle with the Bulldogs. Thomas said, via Cabot, he’s spoken to seven or eight teams — mostly those with top-10 picks.

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, Brady, Jets

As speculation continues to swirl around Tom Brady, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston offers up an assuring and expected update for Patriots fans. No one knows what the quarterback will do when free agency begins, but the two sides are still in communication with each other. They’ve yet to meet, but texts are still being exchanged and head coach Bill Belichick has been among those in contact with the future Hall of Famer.

One source who spoke with Curran dismissed the notion that Brady has mentally divorced himself from the Pats.

Of course not. There’s an attachment there. You can’t be someplace for 20 years and not have an attachment,” the anonymous source said. “That’s just not who he is.”

Brady will listen closely to the Patriots’ pitch, Curran writes, and he expects them to pinpoint all of the comforts they offer against the backdrop of the unknown that he might find elsewhere.

Wherever he goes, there won’t be one guy who knows what he wants done and how he wants it done,” one league source said. “Is he going to coach the receivers coach on how to coach the receivers? Or coach the offensive coordinator? There’s a million things.”

While we wait for Brady’s next move, here’s a look at more from the AFC East:

  • In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Jets taking Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. Some expect the Jets to target a wide receiver at No. 11 overall, but league sources tell Miller that the Joe Douglas-led front office will not seek a WR in the first round. Thomas, meanwhile, can solve the Jets’ most glaring need and protect Sam Darnold at the left tackle spot.
  • Patriots special teams ace Justin Bethel had surgery to repair a shoulder issue that had been bothering him, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. The good news is that Bethel should be good to go for the start of the season. The Pats may need the former Raven on hand since several special teams stalwarts – including Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner – are slated to reach free agency later this month.
  • Could Josh Norman reunite with his old friends from Carolina? Earlier this week, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that he’s talked with the veteran cornerback.

Georgia OL Andrew Thomas To Enter Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft just picked up another top prospect. Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas will forego his final season of college eligibility and enter the draft, he announced on Twitter.

Thomas is considered a surefire first-round pick, and is regarded by many as a potential top-ten selection. Viewed by many as the top offensive line prospect in the draft, there are many teams that could use his services. Fellow top offensive line prospect Mekhi Becton declared for the draft yesterday. Thomas announced that he won’t be playing in the Sugar Bowl, so he’ll begin preparing for the draft immediately.

Thomas became an instant starter as a true freshman with the Bulldogs and never looked back, racking up countless accolades along the way. He won the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy for being the conference’s best blocker, and was also a first-team All-SEC selection. The Jets are one of several teams in need of a new left tackle, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets that “there will be a lot of chatter over the next four months about Thomas and the Jets.”