Da'Ron Payne

NFL Draft Rumors: Nelson, 49ers, Eagles

Good news for Wisconsin product Nick Nelson. The surgery to fix the cornerback’s torn meniscus was successful and he did not need a full repair, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Because it was not a full repair, he is expected to recover in six weeks rather than 3-4 months and should be ready for training camp. Nelson was projected to come off the board no later than the third round before the injury and he should be in consideration for rounds 2 and 3 once again after the operation.

Here’s a look at the latest NFL Draft news:

  • The 49ers met with Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith on Tuesday, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Smith had 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season and could be a replacement for Reuben Foster, who is embroiled in serious legal trouble stemming from a domestic violence arrest.
  • Iowa center James Daniels, who is widely regarded as the top center in this year’s draft, visited with the Eagles this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. On Tuesday, he’ll meet with Bears before traveling to the 49ers on Wednesday. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com says that Daniels is one of the best center prospects he’s seen in the last five years and has him ranked as the 23rd best prospect overall in this year’s draft.
  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, met with the Lions on Tuesday, Rapoport tweets. If the Lions select Hurst in the first round, that will make three first round tight ends for them in the last ten years, following Brandon Pettigrew (2009) and Eric Ebron (2014).
  • Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander visited the Eagles and Dolphins this week, Rapoport tweets. Alexander is widely projected to be a first round pick and may be the second CB to come off the board after Ohio State’s Denzel Ward.
  • Teams like Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, but the belief that he is a two-down defender and not an adept pass-rusher may keep him out of the Top 10, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com hears.
  • Speaking of Payne, he visited the Redskins on Monday, a source tells ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). Washington owns the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.

NFL Draft Rumors: Guice, Redskins, Patriots, Bills, Giants, Darnold

Running back Derrius Guice visited the Redskins at their team facility on Monday, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Redskins have been public about their desire to add a pass-catching running back and Guice, with 18 catches last year at LSU, would fit the bill.

With needs to address on the other side of the ball, many believe that the Redskins will take a defensive player at No. 13 overall. However, the Redskins could probably trade back into the early 20s to take Guice and address their defensive holes later on.

Here’s the latest round of NFL draft news:

  • The Patriots hosted UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller on a pre-draft visit, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets.
  • Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen met with the Bills on Monday and will travel to the Giants on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, USC QB Sam Darnold met with the Giants on Monday and will meet with the Jets on Tuesday.
  • Linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Bengals on Monday, Rapoport tweets. The Bengals own the No. 21 pick in the draft, which could allow them to snag the Alabama standout.
  • Speaking of Alabama, Rapoport also notes that standout defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne met with the Redskins on Monday. Payne has shot up draft boards in recent weeks thanks to his remarkable strength. “He’s the best. He’s the best I’ve seen,”Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran said earlier this year. “I’ve never seen a guy hit 385 on the power clean every single year. His first year he hit 365 on the power clean and it was like wow, freshman, that’s incredible.
  • USC running back Ronald Jones visited the Patriots on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Within the same tweet, he notes that Stanford safety Justin Reid visited the Panthers before heading off to his Steelers visit.
  • Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson took a pre-draft visit to meet with the 49ers on Monday, a league source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 49ers have the ninth pick in the first round and Jackson is projected to come off the board as a middle-to-late first-round pick.
  • LSU pass-rusher Arden Key visited the Bears on Monday, Rapoport tweets. He also notes Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller visited the Redskins on Monday and Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson visited the Raiders.

Draft Notes: Nelson, Evans, Patriots

The 2018 draft class is considered to be one of the deepest in recent memory with respect to quarterback talent, and the quarterbacks are understandably dominating draft-related stories. But there are plenty of other collegiate players with the potential to dominate at the next level, so let’s round up a few non-QB draft notes:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes there is a “decent” chance that the Giants trade down from their No. 2 overall selection, and if they do, he believes Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson would be the target. Nelson is widely-regarded as the safest bet in the draft.
  • Because there is so much QB talent in the draft, as many as six signal-callers could be taken before New England’s No. 23 overall pick rolls around. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, that could allow the Patriots to land the type of player it rarely gets the chance to select, as they are typically picking at the end of the first round. Reiss suggests that Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans could be the team’s target, as he would provide much-needed speed at the LB position.
  • Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne, an excellent run-stuffer who has the skills to become a quality pass-rusher as well, will meet with the Bengals tomorrow, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union thinks the Jaguars need another TE who can threaten the middle of the field to take attention off their outside receivers, and he believes Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews would be a good fit for Jacksonville’s No. 29 overall selection.
  • Florida DT Taven Bryan has been generating a lot of buzz lately, per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, who tweets that the Gator could be a top-25 pick. Miller suggests the Falcons, who are working out another DT in N.C. State’s B.J. Hill, could be a fit.
  • Miller tweets that three offensive tackles are considered locks for Round 1: Texas’ Connor Williams, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller.
  • UCF’s Mike Hughes has a great deal of upside and is the No. 15 overall prospect in Daniel Jermiah’s most recent Top 50 rankings. However, Miller believes that, because of Hughes’ off-field concerns, he could be the fourth or fifth CB off the board (Twitter link).
  • There are four linebackers expected to be taken in the first round, per Miller (via Twitter): Evans, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, and Georgia’s Roquan Smith. Miller says Edmunds’ stock is rising rapidly and that he should be a top-10 selection.

NFL Draft Rumors: Bucs, Packers, James

Florida State safety Derwin James spent Wednesday meeting with the Buccaneers and will sit down with the Packers on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). James, the No. 9 ranked safety in the draft per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, offers versatility with experience at both safety spots, nickel cornerback, and even outside linebacker. He arguably performs better when playing closer to the line, so the team that drafts him will likely look to continue using him in multiple roles.

Here’s more NFL Draft news:

  • NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb met with the Buccaneers on Wednesday and is visiting the Giants on Thursday, Rapoport tweets. Chubb has another top 5 team visit next week, Rapoport notes, but he did not specify the club.
  • Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy was with the Vikings on Wednesday, Rapoport tweets. Cichy suffered an ACL tear in the summer that prevented him from seeing the field in 2017. Before the injury, he was considered a first-round prospect and he could still come off the board in Day 2 if he demonstrates that he is healthy.
  • Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is visiting the 49ers on Thursday, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The Niners pick No. 9 overall and he could be a possibility for San Francisco there. SF will also meet with Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter.
  • The Bears met with a pair of top defensive backs in Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Rapoport tweets. Fitzpatrick previously visited the Buccaneers. The Bears own the No. 8 pick in the draft, so they could be in range for both players.
  • The Vikings met with University of Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams and Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Rapoport tweets. Jeremiah has Williams ranked as the No. 21 prospect in this year’s draft while McGlinchey is at No. 35.
  • Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Dolphins (No. 11) this week, Rapoport tweets. Evans, who played all over in Bama’s front seven, offers strong coverage against both tight ends and running backs.
  • Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne is meeting with the Falcons, according to Rapoport.
  • The Buccaneers, who own the No. 7 pick in the first round, had former Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in for a visit on Wednesday, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne Enters Draft

Minkah Fitzpatrick isn’t the only Alabama underclassman going pro. Defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne and safety Ronnie Harrison announced this week that they will also skip their senior seasons in order to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.Da'Ron Payne (vertical)

[RELATED: Minkah Fitzpatrick Enters Draft]

Payne is leaving on the highest note possible after being named the defensive MVP of the Sugar Bowl and the National Championship game. His raw physical skills should vault him into the first round in April.

He’s the best. He’s the best I’ve seen,”Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran said recently (via Matt Zenitz of AL.com). “I’ve never seen a guy hit 385 on the power clean every single year. His first year he hit 365 on the power clean and it was like wow, freshman, that’s incredible.

Harrison recently received a second-round grade from the NFL’s College Advisory Committee. That’s no surprise after he racked up three interceptions and was named first-team AP All-SEC in 2017. Harrison also led Alabama with 74 tackles on the season.

Running back Bo Scarbrough is also entering the draft, but where he goes is anyone’s guess. Scarbrough split carries with Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris this past season, leaving him with a smaller share of the workload than anticipated. With solid workouts and some big games in his past (like 2016’s 180-yard showing against Washington), Scarbrough is hoping to put himself in the late-round conversation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.