Josh Rosen

Jets Engaged In Mayfield-Rosen Debate?

Less than a week remains until the rampant Jets quarterback rumor cycle will slow down, after the Kirk Cousins pursuit and the months-long prospect evaluations have kept the Big Apple’s AFC team at the center of many offseason news cycles.

But the identity of Gang Green’s hopeful franchise quarterback remains unknown, and the latest coming out of Jets headquarters centers on two players — with a catch.

New York would likely be quick to take Sam Darnold if the USC-developed passer remained on the board at No. 3. Though they didn’t work him out, the Jets finalized a Darnold visit because of the signs the Browns may pass on him at No. 1, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. But if he goes to either the Browns or Giants, the Jets look to be engaged in an interesting debate.

Although the Jets were the only team to trek to Laramie, Wyo., to work out Josh Allen, the latest noise related to their No. 3 overall pick centers on a Baker Mayfield-or-Josh Rosen decision. Brian Costello of the New York Post describes a “hearty debate” among Jets brass about the merits of the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner or the brash UCLA product who may be the most pro-ready passer in this draft. Both Schwartz and Vacchiano expect Darnold to be the pick if he’s still there at 3, but if he’s gone, these contingency talks could decide the Jets’ future.

Mike Maccagnan was reportedly a Mayfield skeptic earlier the pre-draft process, with Rosen having the early advantage in this head-to-head comparison, but Vacchiano notes the fourth-year GM looks to have warmed up to him. The Jets’ concerns about how Mayfield would handle the New York market look to have diminished as well. All four of the top QB prospects visited the Jets, but they did the most work on Allen.

As we heard earlier this month, the Jets have concerns about Allen’s readiness — mostly based on his accuracy at Wyoming — and may not be especially interested in the 6-foot-5 prodigy. However, a Jets faction “loves” Allen’s skill set. Allen falling past the Browns would create an interesting scenario, because the Giants appear to be zeroing in on Darnold or Saquon Barkley at No. 2. His being there at No. 4 could make the Browns’ second first-round pick valuable for QB-seeking teams, because John Elway — whose Broncos hold the No. 5 selection — has a history of preferring this type of quarterback.

The Jets did not call the Giants about moving to No. 2 instead of No. 3, but Vacchiano reports the NFC’s Big Apple team would have listened to an offer. With the Jets having surrendered three second-round picks to move up to the Colts’ slot, though, Vacchiano notes there is a feeling in the building that the team has already made its big move and is set to stay at No. 3 and pick its favorite quarterback remaining.

Latest On Giants’ No. 2 Pick

As Round 1 looms in six days, Saquon Barkley has surged to the center of the Giants’ radar screen. While that interest is real, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, this shouldn’t be viewed as a surefire pick.

There are some at Giants headquarters who think passing on a possible franchise quarterback “would be nuts,” per Vacchiano, who adds Sam Darnold likely remains the quarterback Big Blue would target (if he’s available). The Giants do not appear to be interested in Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen, and Vacchiano adds the team doesn’t seem to be as sure about this quarterback class as the one 14 years ago that produced their current starter.

Josh Rosen‘s stock may have taken a slight hit compared to where he was at the end of his final UCLA season, but one source informed Vacchiano he should not be ruled out of a New York selection. He was believed by some to be the favorite here early in the pre-draft process. A report earlier this month indicated the Giants were down on Rosen, but we are in peak smokescreen time.

Barkley is likely the No. 1 player on the Giants’ board, Vacchiano notes, adding that the team appears to prefer him to Bradley Chubb and may just view the Penn State sensation as an too much of a talent to pass up, regardless of positional value. ESPN’s Todd McShay has heard immense Barkley praise coming out of New York lately, and PFR readers’ early consensus is Barkley will be Big Apple-bound.

While the Giants are high on Chubb and Quenton Nelson, Vacchiano writes these two are likelier fits if they trade down, pointing to the Notre Dame guard in particular in a trade-down scenario. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reported Nelson was a top-three player on New York’s board and a target if the team trades down. If the Giants were to move down and target Chubb, they probably wouldn’t be able to drop too far. Any trade-down move, though, may be less likely than the franchise just picking its preferred prospect.

Why would we (trade down) and pass on either the best quarterback or best player on our board?” one Giants source told Vacchiano.

This is the highest pick the Giants have held since 1981, when they landed Lawrence Taylor, and Dave Gettleman has repeatedly said he would like a “gold jacket” player with his first pick as GM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.

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.

Jets Rumors: Mayfield, Hackenberg, Teddy

As the Jets prepare to reconvene on Monday for their first day of the offseason program, here’s where their quarterback situation stands — both in terms of veterans and the player they’re eyeing at No. 3.

  • While it’s not certain if Baker Mayfield would win out in a Mayfield-or-Sam Darnold scenario, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the Oklahoma-developed passer would be Gang Green’s preferred option over Josh Allen. The Jets will be prepared to go with Mayfield’s accuracy — back-to-back seasons with a 71 percent completion rate, albeit in the Sooners’ air raid attack — and his career winning games for the Big 12 school over the Wyoming product with the tantalizing upside. Although, at just 6-foot, Mayfield would be the shortest quarterback the Jets drafted since Jeff Blake in 1992, Cimini writes. Blake did end up having a 14-year career, despite only one of those seasons occurring with the Jets.
  • If the Browns take Allen and the Giants draft Darnold, Cimini expects the Jets to stay with Mayfield if confronted with a Mayfield-or-Josh Rosen decision (Twitter link). While the Jets held a higher opinion of the latter going into the offseason, Mayfield may well have usurped the UCLA product as the draft nears.
  • Lamar Jackson is not under consideration for the Jets at No. 3 overall, per Cimini (on Twitter). While Jackson has met with the Browns, it hasn’t been reported that he visited the Jets, Giants or Broncos. His known meetings have come with the Ravens, Chargers and Saints thus far. And the Patriots have interest in the Louisville standout.
  • Todd Bowles expects Teddy Bridgewater to throw passes this spring, but it’s uncertain how much the recently signed QB will participate in the team portions of these voluntary workouts, Brian Costello of the New York Post notes. The Jets signed Bridgewater to an incentive-laden contract, doing so after the Vikings expressed concern about his knee this offseason. For now, Josh McCown is preparing to start for a second season in green.
  • While both Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty could be on their way out of the Big Apple soon, Costello writes Petty is the likeliest to be given walking papers before camp commences. As for Hackenberg, there remains a contingent at Jets headquarters hoping he can be salvaged to some degree. However, once the new quarterback arrives, the 2016 second-round pick will be the fourth-string quarterback going into camp. The statuses of these incumbent backups could be determined by how Bridgewater looks in camp. Hackenberg has still yet to play in a regular-season game. Petty finished the past two seasons for the Jets, but has led them to one win in seven starts and last season finished with a 49 percent completion rate.

Draft Notes: Broncos, Davenport, Giants

If the Broncos do not see the quarterback they prefer still on the board by the time their No. 5 pick rolls around, Albert Breer of SI.com hears the team is a prime candidate to trade down. Breer mentions Quenton Nelson or Denzel Ward as names connected to the Broncos. If Denver were to move down and target one of these players, however, they could be vulnerable to another team selecting either. The Bears, who hold the eighth pick, have met with both of these prospects. Nelson would slide in as the highest-ceiling O-line prospect the Broncos have had in many years, likely being a Day 1 starter at left guard, while Ward would be thrust into the pipeline behind Chris Harris and Bradley Roby. The Broncos signed Tramaine Brock in March, but the cornerback’s deal is only for one year.

Here’s more from Denver and the latest from the draft world:

  • As for the quarterback the Broncos may be eyeing, Mike Klis of 9News writes Case Keenum‘s honeymoon would be short-lived if Baker Mayfield were still on the board at No. 5. The Broncos brass “loved” Mayfield’s playmaking ability before they proceeded to spend extensive time with him in the pre-draft process. With a dinner and official visit set up for Monday and Tuesday of next week, the Broncos will have met with Mayfield four times this offseason — coaching him at the Senior Bowl, conducing a Combine interview and sending representatives to his pro day.
  • While a report earlier this offseason pegged Josh Rosen as the Broncos’ preferred quarterback prospect, Klis writes that if the UCLA talent is still there at No. 5, that may trigger a trade-down sequence. Rosen being viewed as a player who could start early in his rookie year may not line up with the Broncos’ timeline, with the team guaranteeing Keenum $25MM, per Klis.
  • The other team that’s possibly eyeing a quarterback but isn’t certain to select one with its top-five pick, the Giants may have a bit of a divide about which one they prefer. They’ve been connected to Sam Darnold for weeks, and Breer notes Dave Gettleman is indeed high on the 20-year-old USC product. But he adds Giants coaches have expressed support for Josh Allen. While running back might not be the best investment with a No. 2 overall choice, Breer notes the Giants’ coaching staff and front office contingents are sold on Saquon Barkley. The Penn State standout visited the Giants earlier this week.
  • Marcus Davenport worked out for the 49ers recently, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports. San Francisco is doing extensive work researching the defensive end prospects in this draft. While Bradley Chubb is not expected to be on the board by the time the 49ers pick at No. 9, they spent multiple days with Arden Key this week. They also worked out Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat, with Barrows writing the 49ers “would love” to add an outside rusher and are examining several prospects closely at this spot.
  • A source close to John Dorsey informed Breer that it is looking like a Darnold-or-Allen debate for the Browns at No. 1. Said source indicated Dorsey is high on Darnold but also is intrigued by Allen’s upside. And he has a history as an exec of taking potential over production.

Latest On Jets’ QB Decision

While the Giants and Broncos provide unique variables in the top five, the Browns and Jets are essentially committed to drafting a quarterback. And the latter’s preference hierarchy appears to have evolved since the start of the pre-draft process.

When the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes the common line of thinking was there was “no way” Sam Darnold would potentially be available to them. Now, the Jets are planning to visit with Darnold after previously holding off on doing so.

Mike Maccagnan said he’d be open to trading up, but Vacchiano hears the Browns are not expected to be interested in a trade at No. 1 and the Giants — despite being in a different conference — “absolutely” won’t accommodate the Jets in a high-stakes trade like this. While the Giants have been linked to Darnold for a bit now, the Jets would probably take the USC-developed passer if he fell to No. 3, per Vacchiano.

At this research period’s outset, the Jets held Josh Rosen in higher regard than they did Baker Mayfield. Now, Vacchiano notes the team has warmed up to the Oklahoma statistical dynamo and points out the buzz has the Jets favoring Mayfield over Rosen.

Plenty of indications in recent weeks support the Jets being thorough about Mayfield, while Rosen has probably been the least discussed quarterback out of the big four. Vacchiano writes the Jets have still spent plenty of time studying Rosen, the building momentum surrounding Mayfield notwithstanding. They visited with the UCLA alum this week. However, if the Jets do end up choosing Rosen over Mayfield, this will qualify as an incredibly successful smokescreen operation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Rosen, Dolphins, Hurst

Is UCLA star Josh Rosen the top quarterback in this year’s draft? Josh Rosen thinks so.

I’m the best QB in the draft,” Rosen told Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine. “A lot of guys are flashier, but I think I’m the most efficient, monotonously consistent QB in this draft. Rodgers has some flair, but if you watch Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, there’s nothing that’s explosive or Johnny Manziel — like. It’s just quarterbacking.”

Rosen has gotten some flack for his willingness to speak on social issues and interests outside of the game of football, but he says that he is focused on winning games and titles at the next level.

Here’s more draft news:

  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst had dinner with Dolphins brass on Tuesday night and has a top 30 visit with the team on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Dolphins are in need of a tight end as Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano remain unsigned. Hurst, a former pro baseball player who walked on as a tight end for the Gamecocks, may have the most upside of any tight end in this year’s draft.
  • Key members of the Seahawks brass including GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll spent Tuesday at Arizona St. privately working out Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk, Rapoport tweets. The Seahawks lost Paul Richardson to free agency this year and could use an impact player like Kirk to replace him. For now, Seattle projects to start Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett and also have offseason pickups Jaron Brown and Marcus Johnson in the mix. With the No. 19 pick in their possession, the Seahawks could be in range for the Aggies star.

East Notes: Giants, Jets, Gronk, Maclin

The Giants are doing their due diligence with the top quarterbacks in the draft, and that included a Josh Rosen summit on Monday, per Peter King of SI.com. However, they may not be that interested in the UCLA alum. An NFL scout continued the building Sam Darnold/Giants buzz by indicating he’s the Los Angeles-based quarterback the team wants, rather than Rosen.

If Darnold is available, they’re taking Darnold,” the anonymous evaluator said, via Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. “They don’t like Rosen.”

This follows DraftAnalyst.com reporter Tony Pauline’s assessment of the Giants only being particularly interested in Darnold, among the quarterbacks, and more anonymous execs saying Darnold would be the Giants’ choice at No. 2 if he slipped past the Browns. If Darnold is unavailable, a Bradley ChubbSaquon Barkley debate will transpire, the evaluator said, via Lombardo.

Seven teams have appeared on Rosen’s itinerary, and he will be on the east coast for much of this week. His Jets summit is set for Tuesday, with the Bills powwow occurring Wednesday, King reports. He’ll meet with the Chargers in a non-30 visit later this week. Longtime NFL exec-turned-analyst Gil Brandt rated the UCLA passer as his No. 1 quarterback in the draft, but it now looks like both the Browns — connected mostly to Darnold and Josh Allen — and the Giants will pass on him.

Here’s more from the Eastern divisions:

  • Jeremy Maclin is without a team for the second time in two years. One of the wide receiver’s former employers did some work on him recently, however. The Eagles inquired on the nine-year veteran, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter), adding the Cowboys did the same. However, both have signed other wideouts. The Eagles added Mike Wallace, and the Cowboys signed both Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson. Maclin played for the Eagles from 2009-14 before signing with the Chiefs. The Chiefs and Ravens cut him in consecutive offseasons. He will turn 30 next month. Anderson adds Maclin is currently training in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
  • Bill Belichick may have an issue with Rob Gronkowski being a TB12 client. Early last season, the Patriots coach chastised Gronk in front of other players for working out at the Alex Guererro-headed facility, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports. Nevertheless, Gronkowski remains a TB12 client and is now below his ideal playing weight, coming in at around 260 pounds presently, per Guregian.
  • More for the burgeoning Jets/Baker Mayfield file: team CEO Christopher Johnson was part of the contingent that met with the reigning Heisman winner on Monday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Johnson was part of the Jets‘ contingent that spoke with the top four quarterbacks at the Combine, but Cimini writes he didn’t ask any questions. He was believed to have been more involved today.
  • In the pros-and-cons debate surrounding Josh Allen, the Jets have done perhaps the most research. Cimini writes team brass loves the Wyoming prodigy’s arm strength but has “legitimate concerns” about his accuracy.
  • South Dakota State-developed tight end Dallas Goedert will have spent plenty of time with the Dolphins by the time draft weekend arrives. He’s already worked out for Dolphins brass in South Dakota and will visit Miami this week, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. One of the top tight ends in the draft, Goedert has also visited the Vikings. The Dolphins are in need of a tight end, having cut Julius Thomas and submitted an unsuccessful waiver claim for Clive Walford.

Chargers Meeting With Top QBs In Draft

The Chargers have not needed to worry about a starting quarterback for most of this century, and Philip Rivers has not given indications he’s eyeing near-future retirement. But the team is going to continue to look at passing prospects.

Having already been linked to a Josh Rosen meeting, the Chargers have already met with — or are planning to visit with — the top five quarterbacks in this draft. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), the Bolts are planning visits for Rosen and Sam Darnold, which won’t count toward their 30 prospect summits because they are Los Angeles-based.

Los Angeles, per Rapoport (on Twitter), also recently worked out or met with the other three — Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. But quarterback meetings took place between Bolts brass and recent drafts’ higher-end passing prospects in the past, only for the Rivers-Kellen Clemens setup to remain in place for years. Now, the Chargers are going with Geno Smith behind Rivers. With only Cardale Jones also in the picture, the team does not have an obvious succession plan.

But the Chargers aren’t exactly in position to select one of the top four passers, and Jackson and Rivers possess wildly disparate skill sets. And with the 36-year-old Rivers possibly set to play out his through-2019 contract and pursue another extension, it’s possible these visits will continue the recent pattern. The Chargers hold the No. 17 pick in the first round.