Brian Burns

Draft Notes: Simmons, 49ers, Patriots, Jets

Linked to both Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason, which involved extensive talks about a deal for the latter Pro Bowl wide receiver, the 49ers are shifting their focus to draft-eligible wideouts. They have been closely tied to Nick Bosa with their No. 2 overall pick, but at No. 36, wide receivers appear to be on San Francisco’s radar. Receiver prospects N’Keal Harry and Deebo Samuel intrigue the 49ers, with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report indicating on his Stick to Football podcast (via NBC Sports Bay Area) that the team is zeroing in on one of these two — with the Arizona State product perhaps grading slightly higher than the South Carolina alum — with their second-round pick. Both players have met with the 49ers, with Samuel working with Kyle Shanahan‘s staff at the Senior Bowl. The 49ers cut Pierre Garcon this offseason and have Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis sitting as the top wideouts on the roster. That may change by Day 2 of the draft.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • Jeffery Simmons‘ pre-draft tour continues to take shape. The Mississippi State-developed defensive lineman traveled to Indianapolis for his Combine recheck, due to the ACL tear he suffered while preparing for the draft, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets positive reviews emerged regarding Simmons’ recovery. Following the Indianapolis trip, Simmons has visits with the Cardinals and Dolphins lined up, Rapoport adds. Simmons’ Browns meeting has already occurred, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Simmons, who finished with 18 tackles for loss last season, is expected to miss the 2019 season but was viewed as a surefire first-round pick prior to his knee injury.
  • Three pass-catching prospects visited the Patriots on Thursday. Samuel joined wideout A.J. Brown and tight end Noah Fant on the visit, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Having lost Rob Gronkowski and with Julian Edelman entering his age-33 season, the Patriots are in need of aerial weaponry aid. New England has added Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris this offseason. There will certainly be more additions to Tom Brady‘s receiving corps, through the draft and/or trades.
  • Is D.K. Metcalf‘s stock slipping? The other Ole Miss wide receiver prospect wowed those in attendance at the Combine but never surpassed 650 yards in a season with the Rebels. While he has been mocked in the first round consistently, Albert Breer of SI.com surveyed some teams who would not use a first-round pick on the physical specimen. Metcalf ranks as the No. 19 overall prospect (and No. 2 wideout) on Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com’s big board. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN’s latest mock (Insider link) has Metcalf going to the Packers at No. 12.
  • While pass rusher looks like the Jets‘ biggest need, the team appears to believe cornerback resides higher in its deficiency queue than the offensive line, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. The Jets made a bigger splash on their offensive front this offseason, in acquiring Kelechi Osemele, but did not make big bids for UFA centers. The Jets graded as Football Outsiders’ worst line, per the adjusted line yards metric, last season. New York lost Buster Skrine and has not made an effort to bring back Morris Claiborne. And buyer’s remorse may be setting in on the Jets’ Trumaine Johnson signing, pointing to Gang Green being in on corners come draft weekend.
  • The 49ers will host defensive end prospect Brian Burns in the coming days, the Florida State-honed prospect said during an appearance on Chris Simms Unbuttoned (via NBC Sports Bay Area) the 49ers are on his visit list. It would appear Burns, projected as a first-rounder, would be a 49ers option only if they traded out of their No. 2 overall slot.

NFC Notes: Panthers, Bucs, Lions, Giants

Could the Panthers be in the market for a backup quarterback? They’re meeting with Auburn signal-caller Jarrett Stidham today, while Carolina has spent “considerable time” with West Virginia’s Will Grier, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter links). Cam Newton missed two starts last season, and the Panthers were subsequently forced to rely on unproven options like Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen under center. Head coach Ron Rivera indicated earlier this year that Carolina would likely eschew a veteran quarterback addition in favor of utilizing the draft, but as Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer tweets, it’s unclear how high of a pick the Panther are willing to use in order to land Newton’s new backup. Stidham, meanwhile, has also visited the Giants, per Pelissero.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns‘ next visit will be with the Buccaneers, as he noted on Chris Simms Unbuttoned (link via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). After sitting down with Tampa Bay, Burns is expected to meet with the Lions, Giants, and Colts, the latter of whom has shown the most interest in Burns thus far. The ex-Seminole could come off the board within the top-10 selections of the draft, and he’s viewed as one of the best pass rushers in the 2019 class. After posting 23 sacks and 38.5 tackles for loss during his collegiate career, Burns tested like an elite athlete at the scouting combine.
  • Giants head coach Pat Shurmur prefers a veteran backup behind starting quarterback Eli Manning, as Ryan Dunleacy of NJ.com writes. New York re-signed Alex Tanney last month, and if he’s set to serve as the club’s No. 2 signal-caller, 2018 fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta‘s roster spot could be in danger, especially if the Giants select a quarterback early in the upcoming draft. Big Blue spoke repeatedly about inserting Lauletta into game action last season, but he ultimately attempted only five passes (all of which were incomplete and one of which was intercepted) in Week 13. He was subsequently deactivated for the next two contests. Lauletta’s late October arrest probably doesn’t help his roster chances, either.
  • More Alliance of American Football veterans could be heading to the NFL. The Vikings worked out linebacker Davis Tull on Wednesday, tweets Pelissero, and will audition linebacker Greer Martini on Thursday, per Rob Demovsky of NFL.com (Twitter link). More than 40 AAF alums have landed NFL contracts since the fledgling league folded, and Tull and/or Martini could force that number to rise. Tull, notably, was a fifth-round pick of the Saints in 2015 but has yet to appear in an NFL game.

Dolphins Eyeing Defensive Ends Via Draft?

The Dolphins have moved on from Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, and Andre Branch this offseason, so the team is predictably in the market for defensive ends. It sounds like the organization may try to fill those holes via the draft, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that the Dolphins have scheduled workouts with a number of prospects.

Jackson writes that Dolphins defensive line coach Marion Hobby recently gave a private workout to Louisiana Tech lineman Jaylon Ferguson, who has been graded as a second-round pick. The Dolphins have also scheduled visits with TCU’s L.J. Collier and Old Dominion’s Oshane Ximines, a pair of players who are also expected to be selected in the second or third round. Miami is currently armed with one second-rounder and one third-rounder: the 48th-overall pick and 78th-overall pick, respectively.

It sounds like the Dolphins may even consider opting for a defensive end in the first round, where they’re currently holding the 13th pick. Jackson notes that the team has also shown interest in Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, FSU’s Brian Burns, and Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat. If the Dolphins want Sweat, it might require a trade, as the lineman is currently projected to go in the top-10.

The Dolphins are currently only rostering four defensive ends with any NFL experience. That grouping includes Charles Harris, Tank CarradineJonathan Woodard, and Jeremiah Valoaga.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.