Spencer Rattler

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/9/24

As a number of teams prepare for rookie minicamps this weekend, Thursday has represented a signing day of sorts for rookie draftees. Here is the latest batch of mid- and late-rounders to sign their four-year rookie deals:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

  • T Travis Clayton (seventh round, England)

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

  • QB Spencer Rattler (fifth round, South Carolina)
  • WR Bub Means (fifth round, Pittsburgh)
  • LB Jaylan Ford (fifth round, Texas)
  • DT Khristian Boyd (sixth round, Northern Iowa)
  • T Josiah Ezirim (seventh round, Eastern Kentucky)

New York Giants

Tennessee Titans

Broncos Met With Drake Maye, Spencer Rattler; Raiders’ QB Need Impacted Team’s Bo Nix Plan

While Sean Payton effectively admitted he participated in a smokescreen effort regarding the Broncos‘ interest in trading up for a quarterback, the team was most closely tied to Bo Nix during the draft run-up. That did not end up costing the Broncos, who selected the Oregon prospect at No. 12. But the team also did its homework on other passers.

We heard before the draft that J.J. McCarthy trekked to Denver and Nix threw for Broncos brass in Eugene, but SI.com’s Albert Breer notes the Broncos did meet with Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler before the draft. Maye proved to be well out of Denver’s price range, as New England turned down two offers — from the Giants and Vikings — that included 2025 first-round picks. Ticketed to be Derek Carr‘s backup in New Orleans, Rattler did not go off the board until Round 5.

[RELATED: Assessing Bo Nix’s Prospect Profile]

Multiple reports pointed to the Broncos being interested in making an aggressive move up the board for a passer; McCarthy, who met with the Broncos on a “30” visit, was mentioned as a target. It turns out Broncos-Nix connections early this offseason doubled as prescient reports. The five-year college starter will likely be given the keys early in his rookie season, with ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano mentioning during a recent TV appearance the recent Pac-12 star is expected to “play right away.”

Broncos GM George Paton scouted Nix at four Oregon games but did not share his views with Payton, per Breer, with an aim toward the Super Bowl-winning HC — and the current Broncos top decision-maker — reaching his own conclusions on the prospect. Payton said post-draft Broncos brass viewed the Vikings as being McCarthy fans and the Raiders eyeing Michael Penix Jr. The Broncos did carry some fear, especially after the Falcons chose Penix at No. 8, the Raiders would leapfrog them for Nix, Breer adds. The QB-needy Raiders’ presence at No. 13 influenced the Broncos to stay put and make a pick many have labeled a reach.

The Raiders were, in fact, interested in Penix — more so than Nix or McCarthy — according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. After a second straight offseason of extensive work on QB draft prospects, the Raiders did not add a high-value pick at the position. As the Raiders regroup around Gardner Minshew, the Broncos do not have a clear hurdle in Nix’s path to seeing action early. Denver has Jarrett Stidham as a placeholder and took a flier on Zach Wilson before passing on the ex-Jet’s fifth-year option. Barring something unexpected, it would surprise if Nix is not Denver’s starter early this season.

Although QBs coach Davis Webb ran Nix’s workout, Breer adds the Paton-Payton tandem — along with ownership — did not reveal to other members of the team’s staff where Nix stood on the team’s board. It is believed the Broncos viewed Nix as this draft’s third-best QB prospect. Most do not agree with that placement, and longtime draft analyst Todd McShay said during an appearance on The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo Podcast (h/t the New York Post) at least 10 NFL evaluators he spoke to did not have a first-round grade on Nix. The Broncos are high on Nix’s accuracy, with their research effort removing QB prospects’ screens and short routes to reveal a player who still ranked as one of Division I-FBS’ most precise passers when those dumpoffs are taken out of the equation.

Since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, the Broncos have used two first-round picks on QBs (Nix, Paxton Lynch) and one second-rounder (Drew Lock) on the position. The team made three trades for starters, obtaining Joe Flacco (2019), Teddy Bridgewater (2021) and Russell Wilson (2022), while signing Case Keenum (two years, $36MM) in 2018. Nothing has worked for the NFL’s only franchise to see a QB retire following a Super Bowl win. That has occurred twice in Denver, and the team has encountered a much tougher journey replacing Manning than John Elway.

Nix now holds the keys to the Broncos’ effort to pick up the pieces post-Russell Wilson, whose $85MM dead money number will cut into Denver’s ability to capitalize on the No. 12 pick’s rookie contract. Although Payton led the effort in pointing Drew Brees to the Hall of Fame and helping develop Tony Romo in Dallas, grooming a first-round pick from scratch will be new territory. With Wilson’s contract quickly becoming an albatross, the Broncos did not have much of a choice but to turn back to the draft.

Saints Select QB Spencer Rattler At No. 150

The QB gap in this draft lasted from Nos. 12 to 150, but the Saints are stopping the drought. They will be the team to bring in Spencer Rattler, doing so with their fifth-round pick. This draft’s first passer chosen since Bo Nix on Thursday night, Rattler will head to a Saints team that moved on from Jameis Winston this offseason.

In a top-heavy quarterback draft class, Rattler was the next man up after the draft’s top six passers. Rattler is used to this type of treatment at this point. As a consensus five-star recruit coming out of Pinnacle HS (AZ), Rattler, the top quarterback in the Class of 2019, was immediately in the spotlight as one of the three stars of the tv show QB1: Beyond the Lights. Once he got to Oklahoma, though, he was forced backstage as new transfer arrival from Alabama Jalen Hurts took the starting job at quarterback.

After redshirting behind Hurts, Rattler got the spotlight again, starting as a redshirt freshman for the Sooners. Throwing for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, while rushing for six more scores, Rattler earned Freshman All-American honors. In his second year as a starter, though, Rattler struggled to find the same success. He had an impressive 74.9 completion percentage but often made poor decisions, resulting in turnovers. It didn’t help that he had five-star freshman, and eventual No. 1 overall pick, Caleb Williams breathing down his neck.

After getting benched for Williams in 2021, Rattler entered the transfer portal, finding his way to South Carolina. He would start the next two years as a team captain for the Gamecocks, though his stats would never quite reach the success of his redshirt freshman year.

Rattler enters an interesting situation in New Orleans. Derek Carr is firmly planted atop the depth chart, so Rattler will be competing for a backup job for the Saints. Tight end, and sometimes quarterback, Taysom Hill remains as an option for New Orleans on the roster, but they’ve also brought in Nathan Peterman and Kellen Mond this offseason.

Peterman has the experience over Rattler, though his experience has been far from impressive at times, and Mond has been in the league for three years, though he doesn’t have much to show for it as a former third-round pick. The Saints have chosen to look past some perceived personality issues to take Rattler today, so it will be up to the 23-year-old quarterback to show more upside than Peterman or Mond. If he can, Rattler may be able to earn a roster spot as a rookie, instead of being subject to free agency and a practice squad.

Ely Allen contributed to this post.

Giants Could Wait For QB In Draft

APRIL 22: Adding to the idea New York could pass on a first-round signal-caller, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes the Giants could be prepared to move down if J.J. McCarthy were the top passer still on the board at No. 6. That could result in a trade-down maneuver and leave the team in range for one of the second-tier QBs. Dunleavy adds that a factor which could alter that approach is the possibility of acquiring Maye, which falls in line with the Meirov report.

APRIL 21: Ever since Daniel Jones tore his ACL last season, putting to rest any chances of rebounding from an abysmal start to lead his team to the playoffs for the second year in a row, there has been constant chatter in New York about committing a first-round draft pick to the quarterback position. According to Ari Meirov of the 33rd Team, the Giants may not be all-in on using their current top pick, No. 6 overall, to draft a passer.

The Giants rewarded Jones’ playoff season, in which he led the league in fewest interceptions per pass attempt, with a four-year, $160MM contract. His first year under the new deal obviously did not go according to plan, but New York has claimed on multiple occasions that it does not regret committing to Jones and isn’t quite ready to give up on him. Still, they let it be known that they had plans to add a quarterback in the future; Jones’ injury history necessitated it.

Now, they actually have to address how that will work. Most projections for how the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft will play out see a run of four quarterbacks opening the night. While that’s not guaranteed, if it occurs, the Giants would likely not see any of the quarterbacks they want fall back to them. That hasn’t stopped many mock drafts from predicting a quarterback to New York via a trade up into the Cardinals’ No. 4 overall slot.

Meirov tells us that league rumors state that North Carolina passer Drake Maye is the only one of the passers not named “Caleb Williams” that the Giants would consider going after if he started to slip. It’s expecting quite a bit to think that Maye could find his way down to the sixth pick, but this could be insinuating that New York would trade up to the fourth pick if the Commanders and Patriots both pass on Maye.

If not, though, Meirov believes that they could address another position, like offensive tackle or wide receiver, at No. 6 overall then wait until the second round to select a quarterback. It depends how things play out, but both Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix were thought of as Day 2 picks at some point. The run of passers at the top of the draft may mean that Penix and Nix hear their names a little earlier than their value (for instance, the Raiders have constantly been connected to Penix at No. 13 overall), but should either quarterback slip back into the second round, consider them top targets for the Giants.

If they particularly like Penix or Nix and see them starting to slip in the first round, they may decide to trade back into the first round, or they could leverage their No. 6 overall pick to trade back and collect more picks without addressing the offensive line or receiving corps then pick one of the two passers. If they miss out on both Penix and Nix they may have to reach (or trade back a little in the second round) for South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler, widely thought to have a third-round value or later.

Regardless, the Giants have lots of options. They remain committed to Jones but still feel the need to add a rookie to the room. Just how they decide to go about adding that rookie could say a lot about how they feel about Jones heading into 2024.

QB Draft Rumors: Penix, Maye, Rattler

The most common predictions we’ve been seeing for the 2024 NFL Draft are that the day will start with a run of four quarterback selections and that those four quarterbacks will be USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. The passer projected to be selected after those four, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., has continuously been linked to the Raiders, and as we approach the big day, that heat continues to produce smoke.

According to Matt Miller of ESPN, Penix to Las Vegas is a rumor he has been constantly hearing from sources he trusts. The Raiders were linked early in the process with Daniels, as the LSU-transfer is familiar with new head coach Antonio Pierce from the two’s time together at Arizona State. In order to draft him, though, the Raiders would need to trade up from No. 13 overall to select Daniels before one or more of the teams with picks two through four has a chance to. Despite doing their due diligence on the situation, it doesn’t appear that the Raiders have the assets to make such a move.

Instead, they have seemingly zeroed in on Penix. Some have classified this as a surprise, since many don’t have a first-round draft grade on the left-handed passer. To be frank, though, many teams don’t seem to have a first-round draft grade on the controversial McCarthy, either. With the projected run of quarterbacks to open the night, though, it’s widely expected that passers initially projected as second- and third-round quarterbacks like McCarthy, Penix, and Oregon’s Bo Nix could easily hear their names on the first day of the draft. As we get closer and closer to that day, it continues to seem likely that, some way or another, Penix will be a Raider in 2024.

Here are a couple other rumors concerning the draft’s quarterbacks:

  • Speaking of passers who some don’t consider a first-rounder, Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post shared the thoughts of a league general manager who called Maye “the biggest wild card in” the draft. According to that executive, “Some guys love him and think he could end up the best QB in this class, and some legitimately think he’s a mid-round pick.”
  • Part of the reason for the apparent dichotomy around Maye’s draft stock is due to the drop in production from the former Tar Heel’s sophomore year to his most recent junior season. Maye had a lower completion percentage while passing for 713 fewer yards, 14 fewer touchdowns, and two more interceptions in two fewer games this year. Some attribute that to the loss of weapons to the NFL and injury, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network points to a different reason. Reportedly, Maye was dealing with a couple injuries throughout the year including an ankle injury and an AC sprain in his left shoulder. He didn’t use it as an excuse, but the limitations showed up on film in the form of inaccuracy and poor pocket awareness.
  • One name who doesn’t get mentioned as a top-six quarterback with first-round possibilities but also doesn’t get classified as a late-round flyer is South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler. According to Pelissero, there are some coaches who ranked Rattler ahead of Penix. This doesn’t change the fact that Penix is an expected first-round pick with Rattler is likely to hear his name on the second or third day of the draft, but chalk it up to the growing controversy surrounding this year’s QB class. McCarthy and Penix only became first-round considerations well after facing each other in the college season’s finale. Maye and Daniels have been back and forth as the top selection following Williams, and apparently Maye isn’t even considered a guarantee there by some executives. And now, we hear of Rattler, being ranked on some boards higher than the passer projected to go 13th overall. Truly anything seems possible with the coming draft’s QB class.

Draft Rumors: 49ers, Corley, Commanders, Bears, Alt, Giants, Eagles, Seahawks, Steelers, Vikings, Lions

No Brandon Aiyuk trade request has emerged yet, separating this situation from the Deebo Samuel saga from 2022. Samuel receiving an extension later that year complicates matters for Aiyuk, who has needed to wait longer to enter extension territory due to being a former first-round pick. As this remains a storyline to monitor ahead of the draft, the 49ers scheduled a notable visit. Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley stopped through team headquarters, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, just before the deadline for “30” visits this week.

Playing a role in the Hilltoppers’ Bailey Zappe-led aerial fireworks in 2021, Corley enjoyed a more prominent position in the mid-major team’s passing attack over the past two years — each 11-touchdown campaigns. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein threw out Samuel as a comp for Corley, who is projected to be a second-round pick. Though, he will be unlikely to be available by the time San Francisco’s No. 63 slot arrives. With big-ticket expenses at three other skill-position spots (and Brock Purdy eligible for a re-up in 2025), the 49ers have a major decision to make with Aiyuk soon.

Here is the latest from the draft ranks:

  • The Giantsquarterback-or-wide receiver decision at No. 6 figures to be one of this draft’s most important, but the team did bring in some first-round prospects who do not play those positions. Tackle Joe Alt and edge rusher Dallas Turner visited the team recently, per the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz. Highly unlikely to draft Turner due to the Brian Burns trade and Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s status, the Giants could conceivably consider Alt. The All-American Notre Dame left tackle would need to be moved to the right side, however, and Schwartz reaffirms a recent report that indicates the team has not given up on keeping 2022 No. 7 overall pick Evan Neal at tackle.
  • Now that Cooper DeJean went through a workout following a broken fibula suffered in November, a few teams brought him in for visits. The Iowa cornerback met with the Bills previously, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes the Seahawks, Steelers and Eagles hosted the talented cover man on “30” visits before Wednesday’s deadline. Our Ely Allen recently examined the first-round-caliber CB’s prospect stock.
  • Staying at corner, both the Vikings and Lions brought in the well-traveled Terrion Arnold for pre-draft visits, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. The Alabama corner, who slots as the top player at the position (No. 9 overall) on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board, also met with the Cardinals, Titans, Falcons and Jaguars during the draft run-up. The Lions, whose CB situation changed after the Cameron Sutton arrest/release, also brought in Arnold teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry recently.
  • Penn State edge rusher Chop Robinson, he of a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, made two more visits before visit season ended. The Bears and Commanders brought in the intriguing DE prospect, Rapoport adds. In need of D-end help after trading Montez Sweat to the Bears, the Commanders hold the No. 40 pick as a result of that trade. Washington carries Nos. 36 and 40, while Chicago does not have a second-round pick this year. Linked to a potential WR-or-Brock Bowers call at No. 9, the Bears may not be in the value range for Robinson, whom Jeremiah slots as this draft’s No. 21 overall talent.
  • The Seahawks met with Bo Nix and have a clear connection to Michael Penix Jr., with new OC Ryan Grubb having coached the latter at Washington. With Geno Smith on a flexible contract that runs through 2025, Seattle brought in South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler for a pre-deadline visit, per Schultz. Slotted as the No. 7 QB on Mel Kiper Jr.’s ESPN.com big board, Rattler met with the Giants this week as well. The former Oklahoma recruit earned Senior Bowl MVP honors in January.

Giants Meet With Bo Nix, Spencer Rattler

While consistent rumors have connected the Giants to trading up from No. 6 for a quarterback, other teams outside the top three will be interested in doing so as well. This could lead to the Giants going elsewhere at 6 and still eyeing a QB investment later in the draft.

On this note, two quarterbacks that are not viewed as in play to go in the top 10 met with the team this week. Oregon’s Bo Nix and South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler stopped through New York for “30” visits, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets.

Nix’s itinerary has featured a few meetings already — with the Raiders, Seahawks and Vikings — and Broncos connections have persisted. A rumor about the Giants circling back to Nix or Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. emerged recently, however, even as the Giants have done continued work on this draft’s top QB tier (non-Caleb Williams division).

As we covered in the most recent Trade Rumors Front Office installment, the Giants face a big-picture decision centering on whether they can go into another season with Daniel Jones as the unchallenged starter or if this No. 6 pick needs to be used to acquire a replacement. The Giants also have failed in their attempts to give Jones an upper-crust wide receiver.

Considering the QB needs that will be filled to start the draft, the Giants are guaranteed to have one of this draft’s receiver top tier available to them if they stay at 6. The receiver route would leave Big Blue’s QB position with an uncertain future, but the team can also attempt to move back up for a Nix-type prospect.

The Giants have met with Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy. A reality in which each of these passers is unavailable — due to the Cardinals perhaps accepting another team’s trade offer to climb to No. 4 — is not difficult to envision. While the Giants have been mocked recently to be the team that trades up to No. 4, the Vikings, Broncos and Raiders also loom as contenders. Minnesota acquiring a second first-round pick makes the NFC North team the logical top threat to a Giants path up the board.

Mel Kiper Jr.’s ESPN.com big board slots Nix and Rattler, respectively, as the draft’s sixth- and seventh-ranked QB prospects. Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com offering places Nix 29th overall, with Rattler not in the top 50. A recent rumor suggested the Broncos not nabbing Nix could induce a Will Levis-like slide down the draft board. This would benefit the Giants, who do not pick again until No. 47. The team traded No. 39 to the Panthers for Brian Burns. The team holds one third-round pick as well. Dane Brugler’s mock draft for The Athletic has Nix remaining on the board until No. 52 (Rams) and Rattler going to the Broncos in Round 3.

Like Nix, Rattler transferred after three seasons (at Oklahoma). Unlike the eventual Pac-12 standout, Rattler did not post elite numbers at his second school. Rattler’s best season came back with Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma in 2020. Not eclipsing 20 touchdown passes in either of his two Gamecocks seasons, Rattler did complete a program-record 67.5% of his passes last season. Scouts mentioned Levis and Sam Howell as potential comps for Rattler.

Caleb Williams Will Not Throw At Combine

The importance of the NFL Scouting Combine continues to be called into question two years after stringent COVID-19 rules nearly caused a mass boycott of the event in 2022. The topic of the boycott brought attention to how important the combine is for late-round, fringe, and small school prospects while potentially serving as a negative for some of college football’s best. Those debates may crop up again with recent news that USC quarterback Caleb Williams plans not to throw at next week’s combine, according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report.

To clarify, Williams still plans on attending the event in Indianapolis, according to Ian Rapoport. He’ll be available to interview with any interested teams. It’s unclear if he’ll perform in any of the other workouts of the combine, but we know for sure that he will not throw. Rapoport informs us that Williams’ plan is to wait until his pro day, where he will throw and workout for scouts.

There will be pundits chirping on both sides of the story. Some will support the decision, claiming that he has nothing to gain from throwing at the combine. He’s already expected to be selected at No. 1 overall and plans to throw on March 20 at the Trojan’s pro day. What good can be done by working out twice?

The other side will point to character issues that have persisted in the media throughout his junior year of college. Williams’ mentality and leadership took hits late in the year from the media after the quarterback refused to speak to reporters following what ended up being his final game of college football. Rapoport himself seemed to call out the 22-year-old citing Joe Burrow as an example of how a quarterback should handle his role and responsibilities. His refusal to work out among the other quarterbacks is sure to draw criticism from those who already believe that “off-field concerns” exist for the young passer.

In reality, there are advantages to working at the combine, namely the officiality of the measurements and the additional opportunity to work with NFL coaches. Sure, he will get to perform workouts at his pro day, but the results of timed exercises will be hand-timed. Also, while some coaches will choose to attend USC’s pro day, the combine serves as an additional opportunity to work with NFL staff. Some will look down on Williams’ decision to reject that opportunity.

So, yes, there are advantages, but are they minimal for someone with his current draft stock? That’s difficult to answer. We have certainly seen bad combine performances affect draft stock. Most recently, free agent tight end Isaac Nauta went from first-round prospect to seventh-round pick in 2019. Similarly, Bengals offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. fell to the third round after what is classically seen as one of the worst combine performances of all time. Still, there are examples of players like Terrell Suggs, who, despite a terrible combine performance, still turned out to be a top-10 pick.

Could Williams be the next to fall victim to the combine? Probably not. He isn’t expected to deliver anywhere near that poor of a performance and, even if he did, his current stock is simply too high to warrant a drastic fall. Still, when he’s already at the top of most prospect rankings, there’s nowhere for him to go but down. It’s hard to blame him for choosing not to take any chances heading into the 2024 NFL Draft.

His announcement has, obviously, caught headlines, though. In the time between the Schultz’s initial report and this one, both Schultz and Rapoport have reported on a number of other prospect’s intentions. So far, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Oregon’s Bo Nix, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy have all made it known that they intend to throw next week. Only LSU’s Jayden Daniels has joined Williams in announcing his intentions to wait until his pro day, per Rapoport. The other four passers will have the opportunity to not only work out at the combine in front of NFL coaches but also to do so in direct comparison to their competition, with the lone exceptions (so far) of Williams and Daniels.