Graham Barton

NFC Draft Rumors: Nabers, Giants, Falcons, Bears, Cowboys, Barton, Murphy, Seahawks

As the Giants continue to be tied to a potential trade into the top four for a quarterback, they have the likely option of staying at No. 6 and filling a years-long wide receiver need in their back pocket. Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze visited the team in March. Of this trio, Nabers may the likeliest to end up a Giant. They are interested in the LSU speedster, SNY’s Connor Hughes notes, adding many in the league expect this match to come to fruition at No. 6. A wideout in Round 1 would stand to give Daniel Jones new life, whereas his Giants tenure would be on borrowed time if a QB trade-up happens.

The Giants are also high on Harrison, as should be expected, and SI.com’s Albert Breer views 6 as the floor for the two-year Ohio State standout. Breer also offers Odunze as being a cleaner prospect, character-wise, compared to Nabers, who has developed a bit of a reputation as being tougher to coach. Some teams have the Washington prospect higher on their boards. If the Giants stand down at QB, they are virtually guaranteed one of these three WRs. That presents a big opportunity to fortify a position that has not employed an impact player since Odell Beckham Jr.

Here is the latest from the draft scene:

  • Breer also ties the Falcons to Nabers, noting some teams have this match on their radar. Atlanta, which holds No. 8 overall, has a greater need on defense; the team has been linked to pass rushers throughout the pre-draft process. Nabers would stand to represent value, and the Falcons could plug him in alongside Drake London and Darnell Mooney at receiver. Though, Atlanta having gone TE-WR-RB in the top 10 over the past three years would invite a Matt Millen-era Lions vibe if this happens again. It would be interesting to see if GM Terry Fontenot would truly use a fourth straight top-10 pick on a skill-position player. The Falcons have also been connected to trading down, per the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs.
  • How the Falcons proceed will be of interest to the Bears, who have also been tied to pass-catching aid with their No. 9 choice. Chicago is poised to go either pass catcher or pass rusher at 9, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes, with Breer adding wideout may be the more likely play — if one of the top three remains available. Both Jones and Biggs mock Odunze to Chicago at 9. The Bears hosted the Washington standout on a “30” visit; Keenan Allen‘s contract expires after the 2024 season. Brock Bowers is not expected to make it out of the top 10, and the Bears also hosted the Georgia tight end recently. Holding only four picks, the Bears could also opt to trade down.
  • The Cowboys are believed to be interested in Duke’s Graham Barton, per Breer, who notes the O-lineman has been the player most closely connected to the team during the pre-draft process. While Barton started the past three seasons at left tackle, he is viewed as a better fit inside in the NFL. The Cowboys hosted Barton, among a number of other O-linemen, on a “30” visit recently. Dallas lost Tyler Biadasz and also must replace Tyron Smith. Tyler Smith‘s success at left tackle and left guard give Dallas options. While the team adding one of this draft’s many tackle prospects would stand to keep Tyler Smith inside, Barton would allow him to move back to LT.
  • The Seahawks passed on Jalen Carter last year, but they may be readier to pull the trigger on a D-tackle this week. The prospect of Seattle snagging Texas DT Byron Murphy at 16 has come up, with Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline noting the former Big 12 standout — who logged a Hawks “30” visit — also has an outside chance of moving into the top 10. The Falcons, who have been tied to edge rushers, are high on Murphy as well. Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson confirms some interest inside the top 10 indeed exists here. This year’s crop is light on DTs, potentially driving Murphy up the board.

Teams Viewing Steelers As Most Likely To Trade For WR?

Known more for drafting and developing wide receivers — often from Day 2 — than trading for them, the Steelers have produced an impressive track record on this front. Over the past 15 years, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens have enjoyed varying levels of success with the team despite coming off the board after Round 1.

It is arguable no team has strung together a run of homegrown WR talent like this in the modern game, but rumblings continue to emerge about the Steelers being ready to pull the trigger on a trade. A report earlier this week indicated the team had inquired about Brandon Aiyuk and was interested in trading for a wideout, and the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora submits another offering in this direction.

Rival execs view the Steelers as the team potentially the most motivated to acquire a receiver via trade. While a Tee Higgins move will not happen — unlikely to be moved, Higgins definitely would not be dealt within the division — teams certainly are monitoring the 49ers regarding an Aiyuk swap.

Although Sean Payton and Broncos GM George Paton said (via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson) he has spoken with Courtland Sutton recently, the 6-foot-4 wideout showed by far the most chemistry with Russell Wilson last season. The team currently employing Wilson may be interested in reuniting the two, as Sutton is staying away from Broncos workouts in hopes of a new contract.

The Broncos nearly traded Sutton to the Ravens last year, and after their Jerry Jeudy asking price dropped drastically (from a first-rounder to accepting fifth- and sixth-rounders from the Browns), Sutton probably will not cost a second-round pick — Denver’s hope in 2023 — entering his age-29 season. Aiyuk will be more difficult to acquire, and it is worth wondering if the Steelers would pull the trigger, given the fifth-year wideout’s extension price and the AFC North franchise’s success finding receivers in the draft.

This draft is set to produce yet another deep receiver crop, which stands to lower prices in trades. But the Steelers may need more than one starter. Dealing Johnson to Carolina in a deal that brought back cornerback Donte Jackson, Pittsburgh has little surrounding Pickens presently. A slot player and a second boundary option would stand to be in play for the Steelers. The 6-foot-4 Sutton (signed through 2025 on a $15MM-per-year deal) made some of last season’s best catches, working as a deep threat and red zone target (10 2023 TDs) for Wilson. The 6-foot Aiyuk, who is tied to a fifth-year option worth $14.1MM, has displayed a bit more versatility in Kyle Shanahan‘s system.

If the Steelers are to execute a trade, they could devote more draft resources to other positions. Pittsburgh is targeting help at center and tackle, with The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly indicating a right tackle addition is on the team’s radar (subscription required). They hosted 11 O-linemen on “30” visits, including Georgia’s Amarius Mims, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga along with interior O-lineman Graham Barton (Duke), Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon) and Zach Frazier (West Virginia), Kaboly adds. They also met with Washington O-lineman Troy Fautanu. Daniel Jeremiah’s big board lists each of these players as top-30 talents; the Steelers pick at No. 20.

The Steelers, who cut two-year center starter Mason Cole, look to be considering moving 2023 first-rounder Broderick Jones — their primary right tackle to close the season — to the left side, where he primarily played in college. That would leave three-year LT starter Dan Moore Jr. in limbo. Pro Football Focus has not been a Moore fan, but the former fourth-round pick — who is going into a contract year — has started 49 career games. After the team drafted Jones to step in for Chukwuma Okorafor, the latter is now with the Patriots. A tackle move — one that may be definitively in the Steelers’ Round 1 plans, as this is a deep class — would stand to give Jones a long-term bookend.

Pittsburgh’s Jackson trade aside, a cornerback will also be targeted — just likely not in Round 1 — according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac. Jackson is in a contract year, while the team cut Patrick Peterson. Mike Tomlin said a Peterson reunion will be considered, but the likely Hall of Famer is going into his age-34 season.

Dulac adds the Steelers also like Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson, whom the Tigers used across the formation. Ranked 39th on Jeremiah’s big board, the 285-pound defender might not be available for Pittsburgh without a second-round trade-up. The Steelers hold the No. 51 overall pick. In fact, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan notes Robinson is expected to be off the board at some point late in the first round. The Steelers have Cameron Heyward under contract for one more season, his age-35 campaign.

NFL Draft Rumors: Cowboys, McCarthy, Robinson

The Cowboys hosted a number of 2024 NFL Draft prospects for “top 30” visits this week. The visiting group included potential first-round targets like Taliese Fuaga, Graham Barton, and Darius Robinson as well as projected Day 2 selection Junior Colson.

Fuaga, an offensive tackle out of Oregon State, and Barton, a projected interior offensive lineman out of Duke, make sense considering the Cowboys’ losses on offensive line this offseason of Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz. If Fuaga is able to start, this would allow Dallas to keep Tyler Smith at guard, where he earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2023. In order to land Fuaga, though, the Cowboys would likely have to trade up earlier into the first round. Barton played left tackle for the Blue Devils for the last couple of years, but his early college film at center shows the versatility that he could bring at the NFL level.

Robinson, a defensive end out of Missouri, feels like the typical Cowboys pass rusher selection and adds depth to a position that saw Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler follow former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to Washington. A bigger defensive end, Robinson could provide some versatility across the defensive line and may be available long enough for the Cowboys to trade back to collect some extra picks and still select him. Colson, a linebacker out of Michigan, would be a nice addition to a position that could use some attention with Micah Parsons spending more time at end. While he’s likely a second- or third-round pick, he’s worth note as he’s expected to be the first linebacker off the board.

Here are a couple of other rumors making the rounds in the weeks leading up to this month’s draft:

  • We have seen the draft stock of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy soaring over the last few weeks. Once considered a tier-two quarterback behind Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels, the polarizing McCarthy has somehow found himself in consideration for the No. 2 overall draft selection. While his stock continues to inflate, Pro Football Network’s Adam Caplan pointed out some of the red flags that have some scouts feeling less than confident about the former Wolverine. McCarthy has been compared to former Steelers’ first-round pick Kenny Pickett “due to his inability to drive the ball down the field.” His strong sense of timing made up for a lack of arm strength in college, but some worry that it will prevent him from being able to make some throws at the NFL level. While he’s almost guaranteed to be a first-round pick due to the top-heavy nature of the position this year, many don’t have a first-round grade on McCarthy.
  • Chop Robinson is set to be the next pass rusher out of Penn State to be selected in the first round. The projected Day 1 edge rusher had already taken visits with the Eagles, Ravens, and Saints, but Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz informs us that visits with the Giants and Jets were scheduled for this past week, as well. Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 adds that the Texans have Robinson firmly on their radar after meeting with him at the NFL scouting combine.

Draft Notes: Barton, ’30’ Visits, Wilson

The 2024 tackle class has drawn rave reviews in the lead-in to this month’s draft, but Graham Barton is among those expected to play on the inside upon entering the NFL. The Duke product has nevertheless helped his draft stock recently.

Barton was already gaining steam as a rising prospect before his Pro Day, as noted by ESPN’s Jordan Reid. He battled injuries during the 2023 season and was forced to miss the Senior Bowl as a result, but the two-time All-American managed to take part in the Blue Devils’ Pro Day last week. Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports Barton’s performance was highly impressive, and it secured his status as a Day 1 prospect.

Following up on the strong workout, Reid notes Barton could now work his way into the top 15 come draft night. Many NFL teams view the first-team All-ACC selection as a center, but he could also see time at guard at the pro level. Wherever he lines up as a rookie, Barton will face high expectations and no doubt draw the attention of many teams near the top of the order in need of reinforcements up front.

Here are some other draft-related notes from around the NFL:

  • Missouri’s Darius Robinson has also seen his stock rise in the wake of the Senior Bowl, and NFL teams are keeping an eye on him. The Steelers recently hosted him on a ’30’ visit, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He adds Robinson has 20 meetings with teams on the books, making him one of several potential first-rounders who will remain busy as the draft approaches. O-lineman Taliese Fuaga is among the prospects who also met with the Steelers, as noted by Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Staying in Pennsylvania, the Eagles hosted Laiatu Latu on a ’30’ visit, Geoff Mosher of Inside the Birds reports. The UCLA product is one of the best edge rushers in the 2024 class, having earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2023. His college resume includes a medical retirement, however, so there will be risk involved in selecting him. Philadelphia and all other prospective suitors will no doubt have a vested interest in Latu’s medical examinations. The Eagles traded Haason Reddick to the Jets, creating the need for a new investment along the edge.
  • The inside linebacker class is not believed to have a Day 1 prospect, but Edgerrin Cooper is among the top options teams will have to choose from. The Texas A&M product had a strong Pro Day showing, and he has a number of ’30’ visits lined up. Per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, the list of interested teams includes the Texans, Eagles, Cowboys, Panthers, Chargers and Buccaneers. Cooper was a consensus All-American in 2023 after racking up 84 tackles (including 17 for loss), eight sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.
  • Pittsburgh, Dallas, Carolina and Tampa Bay are among the teams also set to host Western Kentucky wideout Malachi Corley, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo notes. Garafolo adds the Browns, Ravens, Seahawks and 49ers have also booked a visit with the small school standout. Corley is a member of a very deep receiver class, but his 180 catches, 2,279 yards and 22 touchdowns over the past two seasons along with a strong pre-draft process has put him firmly on the draft radar.
  • Marshawn Kneeland has also drawn considerable pre-draft attention. The Western Michigan defensive end has either already met with (or plans to visit) the Eagles along with the Chiefs, Saints, Jaguars, Jets, Vikings, Colts and Commanders, per Pauline. Kneeland spent four years with the MAC program, totaling 12.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss while establishing himself as a power rusher and strong run defender.
  • While a number of prospects have helped their stock recently, the opposite is of course true of others. Michigan receiver Roman Wilson appears to have fallen into the latter category, per ESPN’s Matt Miller. He notes Wilson is in danger of falling to the late second round or early in the third, something which could become increasingly possible if a run on the draft’s other pass-catchers takes place. Wilson averaged 16.4 yards per catch and scored 12 touchdowns on a run-heavy Wolverines offense last season, but his size (6-0, 180) and mediocre statistics from his three other campaigns could make him less appealing than other WR options.