D.J. Moore (WR)

Draft Notes: Panthers, Penny, Impact Rooks

With their first-round pick, the Panthers ended up selecting Maryland wideout D.J. Moore. However, General Manager Marty Hurney told SiriusXM’s Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn that his team was considering several players with the pick, including Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley.

“Basically what we did, coming into the draft, we had a group of about five guys that we would be very happy with at 24 and we got our pick and three of those guys were there and it was a hard decision between Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore,” Hurney said. “I think that the difference to us is, and we think they’re both excellent wide receivers, is just D.J. Moore gives us a little different skill set than we had.”

Let’s check out some more draft notes from around the league…

  • Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller touched on a number of topics during his post-draft review. Notably, the reporter noted that the most surprising first-round selection was San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, who was taken by the Seahawks with the 27th pick. Miller notes that opposing teams didn’t value Penny as highly, and the reporter said the highest team grade (outside of Seattle) rated the running back as a second-rounder.
  • Miller reports that several players failed drug tests, causing them to fall in the draft or go undrafted. This grouping included cornerback Holton Hill, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, and wideout Antonio Callaway.
  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper looked at several late-round rookies who could immediately make an impact with their new squad. Offensively, Kiper pointed to Patriots wideout Braxton Berrios, Colts running backs Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, and Steelers “Swiss Army knife” Jaylen Samuels. Defensively, Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, Eagles pass rusher Josh Sweat, Rams linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo led Kiper’s list.

Draft Notes: Ravens, Seahawks, Saints, Browns

Let’s take a look at some assorted notes as we get ready for the start of the draft…

  • There are a number of teams currently picking in the twenties that would be interested in moving up to the teens, reports Jason La Canfora (via Twitter). Interestingly, those teams may have some suitors, as the reporter notes that the Ravens and Seahawks are among the teams interested in trading back.
  • Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland told Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune that running back Saquon Barkley is the top player on their draft board (Twitter link). “He’s rare,” Ireland gushed. “He’s unique.” Of course, barring some crazy development, the Saints are unlikely to have an opportunity to select Barkley, as they’re only armed with one pick in the first two rounds. Plus, the team is already rostering several talented running backs, including Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
  • There could end up being a flurry of trades if the Browns select Baker Mayfield with the first-overall pick, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter video). All of the potential scenarios have seemingly stalled trade talks, although Rapoport notes that the Browns (No. 4), Broncos (No. 5), and Colts (No. 6) are among the teams who’d consider moving down. The Bills could be among the teams looking to trade into the top-six range, and the Broncos could ultimately choose to keep their pick if someone like Josh Allen falls into their lap.
  • Rapoport also notes (via Twitter) that several prospects are expected to be selected earlier than initially thought: Maryland wideout D.J. Moore, UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport, and Louisville Jaire Alexander. Davenport and Alexander both landed in the top-20 of Daniel Jeremiah’s rankings, while Moore was listed 37th.

Breer On NFL Draft, Dolphins, Moore

Have pre-draft workouts gotten out of control? Many in the football world believe that is the case, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes.

I worked out a guy who was dead because he got smoked by the team that worked him out two days before,” said one NFC assistant coach. “I had some questions about his toughness coming in, but I had to give him a pass on the whole thing. And it’s on the coaches for doing that.”

After a workout season that saw Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson tear his meniscus while working out for the Lions and N.C. State defensive tackle Kentavius Street tear his ACL while with the Giants, it may be time to bring some reform to the way teams conduct auditions with prospects.

Here’s more from Breer:

  • The Dolphins say they have the ammo to get into the Top 6 of the draft if there is a player they like, but Breer gets the sense that Miami probably won’t deal up for any of this year’s top quarterbacks. If they stand pat at No. 11, Breer believes that UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the most likely signal caller to fall to them. Of course, Miami has holes to fill elsewhere, so a Ryan Tannehill successor/alternative isn’t necessarily their top priority.
  • The Cardinals seem unlikely to make a big play to land one of the best four QBs. However, if a QB they like slips into the bottom part of the Top 10, Breer could see them making a move.
  • More than one team prefers Maryland’s D.J Moore to Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Breer hears. This is consistent with recent buzz we’ve heard about the rise of Moore. Recently, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport categorized Moore as a firm first-round prospect, which is a change from what we were hearing just a couple of weeks ago. Still, Breer thinks Ridley will be the first WR off of the board and pegs the Cowboys as a likely destination since they have a clear need after cutting Dez Bryant.
  • Overall, this draft has depth that will lead to better-than-usual quality into the fourth round, Breer writes. However, the feeling is that this group isn’t stocked with blue-chippers, which means that teams in the 20s feel that they essentially have high second-round picks. “(Picks) 20 and 55 may wind up being the same,” one exec said. “The guy in the last third of the first round, you might be paying a first-round premium on him and he’s no different than the guy at 35 to 40. And those guys in the last third of first round, top half of the second, they’re the same not only in ability but value of their role in the game.” Breer wonders if this could hamper the Bills in their efforts to trade up using the No. 22 pick.

NFL Draft Rumors: Cowboys, Key, Bills

Wednesday marks the final day for NFL draft visits, and we have some notable ones to pass along. Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • LSU linebacker/defensive end Arden Key worked out with the Cowboys on Tuesday and met with the Saints on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans is visiting the Bills and Texas tackle Connor Williams is visiting the Packers, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Patriots are hosting Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley on a pre-draft visit, a source tells Rapoport (on Twitter). The Patriots aren’t known for taking receivers in the first round, but Ridley could be an exception as they look to rebuild that group. Ridley also visited the Bears on Tuesday.
  • Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore seems to be a firm first round prospect, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). For a while, Moore appeared to be a fringe first/second round type, so his stock is improving as the draft draws near. Moore met with the Bills, who pick No. 12 and 22, on Wednesday.
  • Ohio State center Billy Price will meet with the Seahawks, Alex Marvez of SiriusXM tweets. Price is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during the bench press at the combine. The good news is that Price is expected to be ready in time for training camp.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Bucs

Contract talks between the Falcons and franchise quarterback Matt Ryan have been enveloped by positive words from both sides, and today Ryan affirmed that while no deal is close, talks are moving towards an end goal. “Everything is good. I think the discussions have been very positive. I think those will work out,” said Ryan, whom Atlanta is reportedly willing to make the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback (story via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “As far as a time frame of anything like that, it will shake out. It will handle itself. I don’t know if it will be today or tomorrow. Or in a couple of weeks, but I really think we are moving in the right direction.”

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Adding new weapons for quarterback Cam Newton was one of the Pantherstop offseason goals, and the club doesn’t figure to stop doing so even after acquiring Torrey Smith and signing Jarius Wright. Carolina will be taking a look at multiple wideout prospects in the coming days, as D.J. Moore (Maryland) and Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) are each scheduled to meet with the Panthers, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Moore and Kirk aren’t the only pass-catchers Carolina is eyeing, as reports earlier today indicated that Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Memphis’ Anthony Miller will also visit the Panthers.
  • The Buccaneers will meet with Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports. While Tampa Bay figures to be set along the interior of its front five after inking center Ryan Jensen last month, the club could still use help at tackle. Former second-round pick Donovan Smith currently mans Jameis Winston‘s blindside, but he’s consistently struggled and last season graded as just the No. 53 tackle among 81 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. McGlinchey, meanwhile, is viewed as one of the best tackles in a weak class that also includes Connor Williams (Texas) and Kolton Miller (UCLA).
  • The Falcons have announced a few late additions to their coaching staff, as they’ve hired Travis Jones as an assistant defensive line coach and Aden Durde as a defensive quality control assistant. Jones, notably, is fresh off a five-year run with the Seahawks during which he served as the team’s DL coach for four seasons. He’s also worked for the Dolphins, and Saints at the NFL level.

Cowboys Arrange Several Pre-Draft Visits

Most of the prospects the Cowboys are planning to make part of their pre-draft visit itinerary will come through Dallas this week, with Albert Breer of SI.com reporting (on Twitter) numerous names have emerged.

Wide receivers Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore are among those who will trek to Texas for pre-draft summits. Defensive linemen Vita Vea, Harold Landry, Da’Ron Payne and Florida’s Taven Bryan will join them, per Breer. Offensive linemen Kolton Miller (UCLA) and James Daniels (Iowa) are also on this list, as is Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Teams are allotted 30 visits before drafts, and Dallas will examine plenty of incoming NFL talent in the coming days.

Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk is also on the Cowboys’ meeting list, although he is not expected to count against the 30-player maximum since he’s considered a local prospect. With Dez Bryant‘s future up in the air, the team is clearly interested in surveying what the 2018 crop looks like. Ridley, Kirk and Moore are the top three wide receivers on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com draft board and the only wideouts to appear on this 50-prospect list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.