Jordan Morgan

Draft OL Rumors: Fashanu, Latham, Fautanu, Buccaneers

Some teams in the NFL are known for drafting the best player on the board in their draft slot regardless of position. Others have made a reputation for drafting players at a position of need regardless of value. The Saints are a team that could end up in the best of both worlds later this month, according to Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post.

At 14th overall, the Saints could be in position to take a player at a huge position of need. La Canfora informs us that multiple general managers in the league have the sense that New Orleans is “all about finding players to fill immediate starting needs.” With offensive line as a big position of need at the moment, Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu has been repeatedly linked to the Saints.

Drafting Fashanu at No. 14 overall would hardly be considered a reach. Fashanu projects as a prototypical left tackle and, in most rankings, ranks as the draft’s second-best tackle prospect behind Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. Getting the OT2 on the board at 14th would be a huge win for the Saints, especially if Alt goes to the Chargers at No. 5, as many suspect. If someone between the Chargers and Saints selects Fashanu, look to Alabama tackle JC Latham as another potential target in New Orleans.

Here are a few other rumors concerning the offensive line class of the 2024 NFL Draft:

  • While we mentioned that most rankings see Fashanu as the OT2 in this year’s draft, some have pegged Latham in that draft slot. According to Peter Schrager of NFL Network, some teams like Latham so much that he could be taken as the second offensive tackle off the board. Alabama hasn’t had the best recent history producing offensive tackles under Nick Saban. Evan Neal, Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, and Jonah Williams all serve as recent examples who have failed to live up to their draft stock. Some see Latham projecting best as a guard at the next level, as he’ll need to continue improving to play tackle in the NFL. If those teams that see him as the second-best tackle in the draft are right, though, Latham could break recent trends for the Crimson Tide.
  • Washington offensive line prospect Troy Fautanu is another player that splits teams on where he will play at the next level. While many see him projecting as an interior lineman in the NFL (the best interior lineman in this year’s draft according to some), Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tells us that some scouts are starting to believe he can play tackle as a pro, like he did for the Huskies. He has the talent and potential to play any position on NFL offensive lines. As we’ve reported, so far, he has visited the Bengals, Ravens, Jaguars, Steelers Eagles, and Jets.
  • One team who has been labeled as a squad looking to add to the trenches is the Buccaneers. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay is looking to upgrade at guard, center, and outside linebacker. With the 26th pick in the draft, the Buccaneers can expect to see players like Arizona’s Jordan Morgan and Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe available at guard and, perhaps, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson at center. The top tier of pass rushers should be long gone, but players like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, Penn State’s Chop Robinson, Western Michigan’s Marshawn Kneeland, and Missouri’s Darius Robinson could be available late in the first round.

Draft Notes: Newton, Lions, Latu, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Eagles, Broncos, Cardinals, Commanders, Giants, Panthers

Wednesday marks the final day for “30” visits during this year’s cycle. Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton is on the way back from a January surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot. Newton went through a belated pro day in Champaign on Tuesday, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, who noted more than eight teams were in attendance. The Lions are not one of the teams Schultz named, but the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett notes Newton did go through a visit with the defending NFC North champs. A first-team All-American and reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Newton played through his foot injury last season — a 7.5-sack slate. The acclaimed DT, who ranks as the No. 32 overall prospect on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board, also recorded 14.5 tackles for loss in 2022.

Here is the latest from the draft scene:

  • Speaking of the Lions, they are also believed to be high on NC State linebacker Payton Wilson, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman notes (subscription required). Last season’s Bednarik award winner (given to Division I-FBS’ top defender), Wilson ranks 41st on Jeremiah’s big board. In need at linebacker, the Cowboys are also believed to be intrigued by Wilson, though Feldman adds some teams are too concerned about his medical history to consider drafting him. Season-ending knee and shoulder injuries halted Wilson in 2018 and 2021, respectively, but the six-year Wolfpack cog has been healthy over the past two years.
  • The Bills have brought in two likely first-round defenders, hosting edge rusher Laiatu Latu and cornerback Cooper DeJean (via Schultz and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Holding the No. 28 overall pick, Buffalo saw a concerning season from Von Miller (zero sacks after a second ACL rehab journey) and did not re-sign Leonard Floyd. The Bills also released Tre’Davious White and have not replaced him. While wide receiver is the buzz position in Buffalo given the exits of longtime performers, the Bills also have some needs to address on defense.
  • A fourth team booked a visit with Alabama tackle JC Latham. The first-round-level tackle will meet with the Jets tonight and Wednesday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. One of seven tackles Jeremiah places among his top 25 overall prospects, Latham has already met with the Cardinals, Titans and Bears. The Jets have been linked to an O-line investment, and the prospect of moving down from No. 10 has also come up for Gang Green.
  • Both the Alabama cornerbacks expected to go off the board early in this draft booked more visits before the Wednesday deadline. Terrion Arnold met with the Titans on Monday, Rapoport adds, while Kool-Aid McKinstry visited the Eagles (via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane). With Darius Slay and James Bradberry set to begin the season north of 31st birthdays, the Eagles have been tied to corners. The Titans acquired L’Jarius Sneed via trade and signed Chidobe Awuzie; this would seemingly take Tennessee out of the early-round CB mix. Though, the team did lose Sean Murphy-Bunting and has seen ex-first-rounder Caleb Farley prove undependable.
  • Although the Texans have taken multiple fliers on former top-10 corners (Jeff Okudah, C.J. Henderson), they may be interested in bolstering their cornerback corps with a higher-upside player. Houston hosted Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw on Monday, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. A Texas native, Rakestraw (Jeremiah’s No. 28 overall prospect) allowed just one touchdown on 28 targets last season, per Wilson. The 5-foot-11 defender broke up 11 passes with the Tigers in 2023.
  • This draft features a number of tackles set to go off the board in Round 1, but the second round could produce some investments at the position. The Giants, Jets and Commanders scheduled late visits with Arizona’s Jordan Morgan, ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets. Jeremiah’s No. 49 overall player, Morgan also visited the Bills, Broncos, Cardinals and Panthers, Wilson adds, noting also the three-year Wildcats starter worked out for the Texans during the pre-draft process. Morgan earned first-team All-Pac-12 recognition last season.

NFL Draft Rumors: Tackles, Senior Bowl, Rakestraw

The 2024 NFL Draft class may feel relatively light at certain positions like quarterback and running back, but there’s one position that has scouts and coaches excited. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, this year’s offensive tackles group has the potential to match 2020’s class, which saw six tackles selected in the first round.

Four names have been regarded as likely first-rounders for about a year now, so the projections of Notre Dame’s Joe Alt (ranks 6th overall in Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s top 100 prospects), Penn State’s Olu Fashanu (9th), Alabama’s JC Latham (13th), and Georgia’s Amarius Mims (17th) come as no surprise. After some impressive performances in Mobile, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga (16th) and Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton (18th) have joined those four in the range of the first round.

The top-end depth doesn’t end there, either. There are several other prospects that sit just outside that first-round range in Brugler’s rankings that still find themselves in consideration to be Day 1 picks because of strong Senior Bowl performances and a general interest in the position. Arizona’s Jordan Morgan (32nd), Houston’s Patrick Paul (55th), and Texas’ Christian Jones (NR) all sit on that fringe, according to Fowler.

With these nine guys and still more others pushing for Day 1 money, we’re bound to see a change in recent trends of five or fewer tackles taken in the first round. Even if this year’s class fails to match 2020’s six first-round picks, which seems unlikely as of now, the depth in the first two rounds of this class have a lot of teams excited about what’s available.

Here are a couple of other draft rumors from around the country, starting with more updates out of Mobile:

  • In a mailbag Q&A this week, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer gave his take on some prospects who improved their standing after this year’s Senior Bowl. Breer sees Fuaga and Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (11th in Brugler’s rankings) as big risers coming out of Mobile. While both players were already expected to be Day 1 picks, Breer believes that they’ve played their way into the top half of the first round. He also touts Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson (45th) as a recent riser. While Wilson may not hear his name called in the first round, Breer thinks he may have pushed his way up to the second.
  • One player who wasn’t able to improve his stock at the Senior Bowl was Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw (48th). Rakestraw had been dealing with a core muscle injury for much of his redshirt junior year before opting to undergo surgery at the close of the season in December, according to Matt Miller of ESPN. After missing out on the college all-star game due to the surgery, Rakestraw, who has been considered a fringe first-rounder, was unable to secure his potential Day 1 status. The young corner has shown a resiliency in coming back from an ACL tear his sophomore year, but his injury history may be enough to push him into the second round.

Jets Reach 53-Man Max

The Jets did more than just cut a 2019 third-round pick on Saturday, making nearly 40 moves to reach the Week 1 roster limit. Here’s the complete rundown of cut players:

Another spot was freed up when the Jets placed corner Austin Bless on the reserve/non-football injury list.

NFL Workout Updates: 12/11/18

Here’s the latest from the NFL’s workout circuit, all links going to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account (unless otherwise noted). The first day teams can sign players to reserve/futures contracts is New Year’s Eve.

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • DB Tevaughn Campbell (link)

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

  • LB Sam Eguavoen (CFL tryout) (link)

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

NFL Workout Updates: 12/6/18

Today’s workout updates, all courtesy of veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter):

Carolina Panthers

  • G Jordan Morgan

Cleveland Browns

Minnesota Vikings

Washington Redskins

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/3/18

Here are Monday’s practice squad decisions:

Denver Broncos

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/10/18

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Tennessee Titans

NFL Workout Updates: 10/3/18

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account:

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans