Reuben Foster

McShay’s Latest: Mahomes, Foster, Cook

Three quarterbacks are expected to be selected in the first round: Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina), Deshaun Watson (Clemson), and Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), according to Todd McShay of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Cal’s Davis Webb is also reportedly a contender for a first-round slot, says McShay, though he could fall to the middle of Round 2. Watson, interestingly, has been more lauded by NFL clubs that aren’t in the market for a quarterback, per McShay, as those teams have praised Watson’s leadership ability and other intangibles. Trubisky and Mahomes, meanwhile, are seemingly more attractive to clubs that do need a signal-caller.

Let’s take a look at a few more highlight’s from McShay’s column, which is certainly worth a full read:

  • Mahomes, specifically, has been consistently linked to the Chiefs and Cardinals, says McShay. Both clubs are on the hunt for long-term options under center, as Alex Smith has shown a limited ceiling while Carson Palmer is entering the final stages of his career. The Texans have also been mentioned as a destination for Mahomes, as Houston head coach Bill O’Brien reportedly “loves” the Red Raider quarterback. If Kansas City is hoping to land Mahomes, it may have to trade up, as McShay doesn’t believe Mahomes will be available when the Chiefs pick at No. 27.
  • Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and Florida State linebacker Dalvin Cook are both dealing with off-field concerns, but Cook could end up falling further down the board than Foster, reports McShay. At least one source tells McShay the Colts at pick No. 15 could be the eventual landing spot for Foster. Indianapolis is attempting a complete remake of its defense, so the club may be willing to overlook Foster’s issues in order to secure a top-notch ‘backer. If the Colts pass, the Redskins (pick No. 17) could also be interested in Foster, per McShay. Meanwhile, Cook will be “strongly considered” by the Buccaneers at No. 19.
  • The Saints could consider Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett, Temple linebacker Haason Reddick, or Ohio State safety Malik Hooker with the 11th overall pick, according to McShay. New Orleans has fielded one of the league’s worst defensive units for several years, so any sort of upgrade on that side of the ball shouldn’t be ruled out. Hooker isn’t expected to come off the board in the top five picks, but should be drafted between No. 6 and No. 13, per McShay. Reddick, meanwhile, is expected to be a top-15 selection and could even sneak into the top 10.
  • Houston pass rusher Tyus Bowser is expected to be a late first-round pick, sources tell McShay. Bowser, who managed 8.5 sacks last season, could conceivably appeal to a number of teams picking in the 20s or 30s. Speculatively, the Lions, Dolphins, Cowboys, Packers, Steelers, Falcons, and Saints could all use an edge defender late on Day 1.

PFR’s 2017 Live NFL Mock Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, and Pro Football Rumors is back with its second mock draft of the year. While our initial mock attempted to project what will happen in Round 1, we’ve taken a different approach for mock draft 2.0.

PFR editor Zach Links and I conducted this live mock draft on Tuesday morning, rotating picks and breaking down what we would do were we in charge of these selections. We posted each pick on Twitter, followed by a short explanation of our thought process on this page.

Here’s the complete mock:

1. Cleveland Browns (Zach) – Myles Garrett, LB, Texas A&M

I suspect this is the easiest pick either one of us will make all day. Garrett is the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Browns would be foolish to go in any other direction at the top of the draft.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Dallas) – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Reports that the 49ers are considering a quarterback with the second overall selection stand out as a potential smokescreen, and instead San Francisco uses the No. 2 pick to bolster its defense. Hooker, who recently earned a full medical clearance following combine rechecks, has been commonly linked to the Chargers as a perfect fit for Los Angeles defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme. But the 49ers are running the same defensive look as the Chargers under new DC Robert Saleh, and Hooker would give the team a centerfielder with the upside of an Earl Thomas. San Francisco’s plan to convert nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward to safety won’t stop it from adding Hooker, who is possibly the draft’s No. 2 overall prospect.

3. Chicago Bears (Zach) – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford 

Dallas’ bold pick left my Bears with a golden opportunity. The Bears could go safety or cornerback in this scenario, but the talent of Thomas is too good to pass up. Thomas can be used on both the inside and outside of the Bears’ defensive line and I see him as one of the safest talents on the board.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Dallas) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

No, we didn’t forget the Jaguars used a top-five pick on Jalen Ramsey in 2016 and then handed a $67.5MM contract to A.J. Bouye in free agency last month. But one of Ramsey’s key selling points last year was his versatility: while he’s a shutdown corner at his best, Ramsey can man the slot, cover tight ends, and dabble at safety. As such, adding Conley doesn’t mean Jacksonville is facing cornerback overload, especially given that NFL clubs are in the nickel more than two-thirds of the time. Conley is viewed as a safer prospect than his Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore, and he’d give the Jaguars a Broncos-like secondary.

5. Tennessee Titans (Zach) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans, arguably, get the best cornerback available in the draft even though they are the second team to address the position. No, we don’t have a ton of film to go on for Lattimore, but his combine numbers indicate that he could be a megastar. Few teams in the NFL would have a young cornerback duo like the Titans if they can pair Logan Ryan with Lattimore.Mitch Trubisky Instagram

6. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Jets) (Dallas) – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

In need of a franchise quarterback, the Browns send the No. 12 and No. 52 pick to the Jets in exchange for No. 6 with the intention of drafting Trubisky. It’s a slight overpay for Cleveland (at least, based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s draft value chart, which is likely what the Browns front offices uses), but it does the deal anyway to land a long-term option under center. Given that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly pressing the club to select a quarterback early — and the fact the Cleveland may still be considering Trubisky with the first overall selection — landing the UNC signal-caller at No. 5 for the cost of a mid-second-round pick is a move the Browns can’t pass up.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Zach) – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

In this scenario, it seems like Allen’s subpar workouts have led to a bit of a drop. His size (6’3″) is a bit of a concern, but he has the ability to be an effective defensive end while spending some time on the inside as well. Allen would look great lining up on the opposite end of Joey Bosa.

8. Carolina Panthers (Dallas) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Sitting at pick No. 8, the Panthers certainly have options. General manager Dave Gettleman & Co. could go after a running back like Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey, bring in a young edge rusher to play alongside veterans like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, or even reach for an offensive tackle given Michael Oher‘s health questions. With Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown having defected via free agency, the Panthers need another wideout to pair with Kelvin Benjamin. Enter Davis, who topped 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Zach) – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Foster’s stock, by all accounts, is slipping after he turned in a diluted urine sample and got into an argument with a hospital worker at the combine. However, with other teams in the market for an inside linebacker (like the Jets at No. 12, for example), it would be somewhat risky to trade down into the teens and expect Foster to still be there. The Bengals have been willing to overlook character concerns in the past, so I see no reason why they can’t do the same here and land the Alabama star.

10. Buffalo Bills (Dallas) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU

While the Bills gave Jordan Poyer a four-year deal with $6MM in guarantees earlier this offseason, I’m still not convinced Buffalo views him as a definite starter. Those questions come to the forefront with Adams still on the board, and the Bills don’t hesitate to take the LSU defensive back. With ex-Packer Micah Hyde also in the fold, Buffalo can field one of the more diverse and flexible safety tandems in the league. Adams is viewed as a leader in the locker room, and has been favorably compared to former Cowboys All Pro Darren Woodson by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

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Latest On Alabama LB Reuben Foster

The Eagles recently had a member of their organization meet with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, a source tells Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Philadelphia had already used of their allotted predraft visits on Foster earlier this year, but likely wanted more information on the ‘backer after a serious of off-field incidents.Reuben Foster (vertical)

[POLL: Where Will Reuben Foster Be Drafted?]

Foster not only got into a dispute with a hospital worker at the combine, but also failed a drug test in Indianapolis last month. Still, he’s viewed as the draft’s top off-ball linebacker, and is still in first-round consideration. Scouts earlier this year said Foster has a “perfect grade,” so teams will have to weigh his on-field production against potential question marks.

Of course, Foster is also tied to health questions after undergoing shoulder surgery in February. Foster was recently able to show a full range of motion, and he got positive feedback during a shoulder ultrasound today, according to agent Malki Kawa (Instagram link). The Alabama prospect is ahead of schedule and will be ready by training camp, per Kawa.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Mixon, Raiders, Eagles

Is Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the most talented player in this year’s draft? One nameless personnel executive told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he believes that to be the case. The other execs surveyed, naturally, went in different directions. Texas A&M star Myles Garrett got 11 votes, LSU safety Jamal Adams got two, and there was one vote cast for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Unlike the others, Mixon doesn’t necessarily seem likely to go in the first round.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

Draft Notes: QBs, Foster, Ross, Cook, Mixon

Although the 2017 rookie quarterback pool has been heavily scrutinized this offseason, teams are warming up to select signal-callers as the draft nears. While this shouldn’t be unexpected, given the position’s scarcity at the sport’s highest level, Charlie Casserly of NFL.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hear two QBs could well be taken in the top 10. A GM told Casserly he expects two quarterbacks to be taken in the top nine picks, meaning the Bills — who have been linked to passers at 10 — could have to look elsewhere if they don’t trade up. Miller points to Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes as the players most likely to be those top-nine choices, while a 22-team survey from Casserly produced Trubisky or Deshaun Watson as the quarterbacks teams identify as this draft’s best.

Here’s more from this draft pool, with the three-day event less than six days away.

  • Reuben Foster has been linked as high as No. 2 overall to the 49ers, but since, the former Alabama linebacker has run into off-field trouble on multiple fronts. And Miller hears a Myles Jack-like fall could be in store for the talented ‘backer. Viewed as a top-five talent in 2016, Jack plummeted to the Jaguars at No. 36 last year because of a severe injury he suffered while at UCLA. Foster falling out of the first round based strictly on character issues would stand as a surprise. A failed drug test and his forced exit from the Combine indeed raise red flags, but Foster has been viewed as the top off-the-ball linebacker in this draft throughout the process. It would take a lot of linebacker-needy teams to pass on him for this freefall to commence. PFR’s Zach Links asked whether Foster was going to fall out of the top 10 earlier today; slinking out of the top 32 would be something else entirely.
  • Regarding other possible falling stocks, Miller hears John Ross and Dalvin Cook may fall out of the first round as well. The Florida State back has not seen much momentum since the Combine, with a low SPARQ score accompanying a past that includes some troublesome signs. Ross underwent surgery after the Combine to repair a torn labrum but did set the event’s modern record with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash time. This isn’t the first time Miller’s warned about concerns around Ross potentially causing a slippage for the Washington-developed speedster.
  • Ross’ agent, Brad Cicala, attempted to address concerns that there’s more to Ross’ medical history. Ross underwent two surgeries to correct knee problems in early 2015, per Cicala, but did not undergo two ACL procedures. “Despite recent reports, John Ross III has never sustained 2 ACL injury’s (sic) nor has he had 2 ACL surgeries,” Cicala wrote (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Facebook link) “In January of 2015 he endured surgery on his right lateral meniscus and in April of 2015 he had surgery on his left ACL.” Cicala adds that Ross has been deemed “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from the labrum surgery, with the wideout expected to be ready by training camp.
  • Miller is hearing Mixon’s name connected to the second round. One team to meet with the runner has a need at running back but is connected to a higher-profile name. The Raiders met with the Oklahoma product who grew up in the Bay Area, and Reggie McKenzie was satisfied with the embattled running back’s answers. “We thought he was a really good kid,” McKenzie said Friday, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He came off really well. He explained each and every thing. The questions that we had, he had an explanation. He was upfront about everything.” Mark Davis is associated with having a “zero tolerance” policy on domestic violence, and the Raiders are currently negotiating with Marshawn Lynch. So, this would be an interesting fit, to say the least.
  • Former USC wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster said the Rams and Cowboys have shown the most interest in him, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Los Angeles-based wideout said he would like to play for the Chargers last month.

Poll: Where Will Reuben Foster Be Drafted?

Every year, we see high-end NFL Draft prospects slide as the draft approaches. As talented as he is, we have to wonder if Thursday’s report of Reuben Foster‘s failed drug test from the combine will affect his stock. Reuben Foster (vertical)

From a talent perspective, there’s reason to believe he could go within the top 10. Our first mock draft had Foster going No. 8 overall to the 49ers in a projected draft day trade with the Panthers. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper says he would give the Titans an “A” grade if they were to select him No. 5 overall. The Alabama star is also Todd McShay of ESPN.com‘s ninth-ranked prospect. The Niners and Titans aren’t the only potential landing spots this high in the draft. The Bengals could consider Foster at No. 9 overall since newly-signed inside linebacker Kevin Minter is only under contract for one season. There’s also the possibility of teams trading up to nab Foster and clubs like the Saints, Cardinals, Colts, and Redskins could be among those with interest.

On the other hand, there’s all of the red flags to consider. Foster had shoulder surgery in February and some teams could be wary of how that will hold up in the long term. His argument with a hospital worker at the combine also didn’t do him any favors and portrayed him as something of a loose cannon. The failed drug test is now the latest piece of bad publicity to emerge, though the linebacker is insistent that he did not purposely dilute his sample. Instead, he says that he over-hydrated in order to combat a stomach bug and also keep his weight up for when it came time to step on the scale.

All things considered, do you see Foster going in the top 10? Cast your vote below.

Alabama LB Reuben Foster Fails Drug Test

Reuben Foster failed a drug test during the scouting combine, the Alabama linebacker tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. This is not a good development for the youngster given his other red flags. Reuben Foster (Vertical)

During the combine, Foster got into a dust-up with a hospital worker, though his camp has brushed it off as little more than a miscommunication. There’s also question marks about his surgically-repaired shoulder and his upbringing. The failed drug test was apparently due to a diluted sample, which Foster says is the result of aggressively hydrating after coming down with a stomach bug. Foster knows that he’ll be put into the league’s drug program upon being drafted, but he is not afraid of the extra monitoring.

Put me in the program,” he said. “Test me.”

Foster will face a whole new round of questions about this latest incident and he knows that teams may not accept his excuse for the suspicious sample.

If it’s first round, second round, whoever takes me will get a good football player and an All-Pro,” Foster said. “I hope I go on Thursday, but I can’t control that.”

Dallas Robinson’s Mock Draft 1.0 has Foster pegged to go No. 8 overall, but not to the Panthers. Depending on the buzz we here in the coming days, he could slide down the board.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ja. Peppers, Rams, Texans

Jabrill Peppers played both linebacker and cornerback at Michigan, but nearly all NFL teams view the draft-bound prospect as a safety, he told the Associated Press. Peppers is on board, saying, “I didn’t play safety, but I’m going to be a safety.” While one club informed Peppers it would use him at linebacker, another had an outside-the-box idea. “One team told me they thought I should play offense,” revealed Peppers, who did see time on that side of the ball at Michigan last season. Peppers rushed 27 times for 167 yards, caught two passes and scored three touchdowns. He also fared well in space as a punt returner, posting a Big Ten-leading 14.8-yard average on runbacks.

More from around the game:

  • Ravens college scouting director Joe Hortiz is the Rams’ top choice to take over the same position in Los Angeles, reports CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (all Twitter links). The Rams have shown interest in Hortiz in the past, notes La Canfora, who adds that Baltimore wouldn’t be able to prevent him from leaving. Los Angeles started reshuffling its scouting department when it dismissed four evaluators on April 9.
  • The Rams are also making changes on the field, with several familiar names apparently set to switch positions as the Sean McVay era begins, according to Myles Simmons of the team’s website. Contrary to a prior report, the signing of left tackle Andrew Whitworth will not force Greg Robinson to shift to guard; rather, Robinson will head to right tackle, leaving Rob Havenstein to move inside. Elsewhere, cornerback Lamarcus Joyner will play free safety and Maurice Alexander will take over at strong safety in the wake of the team’s addition of Nickell Robey-Coleman, who’s primed to handle Joyner’s old job as a slot corner. Finally, Robert Quinn is transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker, though his role as a pass rusher will remain the same.
  • Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles visited the Texans on Monday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. With potential first-rounders in Bolles, Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk on their radar, it’s clear the Texans are strongly considering taking a tackle with the 25th pick in the draft.
  • The surgery Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster underwent on his right rotator cuff in February won’t keep him out for any portion of training camp, his agent, Malki Kawa, announced Monday (on Twitter). The soon-to-be first-rounder is “ahead of schedule,” per Kawa.

Draft Rumors: Fournette, Foster, Robinson

LSU running back Leonard Fournette will visit the 49ers prior to the draft, reports Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. While the 49ers would reportedly like to trade down in Round 1, Fournette could be a possibility for them if they keep the second overall pick. San Francisco already has a productive No. 1 back in Carlos Hyde, whom general manager John Lynch spoke highly of last week, but there are whispers that the rookie executive wants to make change in the backfield.

More on the upcoming draft:

  • The Jets hosted Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster on Monday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. As is the case with the 49ers, the Jets’ goal is to move down from their current first-round slot (No. 6). If a deal doesn’t come to fruition, though, they’ll likely be in the neighborhood of where Foster will come off the board.
  • Offensive tackle Cam Robinson, who was teammates with Foster at Alabama, is drawing significant interest from the Texans. Houston worked out Robinson earlier this month, and he’s now in town for a two-day visit that will include another workout, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). The tackle-needy Texans are in line to pick 25th overall, but Robinson could be gone by then. The Bengals, owners of the ninth overall selection, met with Robinson over the weekend, Rapoport adds. In the event Robinson falls to the end of the first round, the Falcons (No. 31) will be a team to keep an eye on, writes Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com.
  • Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is gaining momentum as a potential first-round pick, per Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. The fact that Awuzie has experience inside and at nickel makes him a candidate to step into the league and make an impact from the get-go, notes Rang, who lauds the 6-foot, 202-pounder’s “above-average size,” “impressive athleticism” and coverage “savvy.” Awuzie is on the radars of the Titans and Raiders, either of whom could grab him in the second half of the opening round.
  • Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp will come off the board “very high” in the second round, according to CBS Sports’ Jason Canfora, who has heard comparisons between Kupp and the Patriots’ Julian Edelman.
  • In advance of their meeting with Utah offensive tackle Garret Bolles on Tuesday, the Broncos hosted Wisconsin bookend Ryan Ramczyk on Monday, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. Both players are first-round possibilities for Denver at No. 20 overall.

Saints Notes: Fournette, Foster, Vaccaro

LSU running back Leonard Fournette was on hand Friday for the Saints‘ local pro day, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). Fournette didn’t go through workouts, however, tweets Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. Barring something unexpected, odds are the Saints won’t emerge from Round 1 with Fournette. They’re set to pick 11th, while Fournette appears likely to come off the board in the top five.

Fournette isn’t the only running back the Saints have discussed. Continuing a candid offseason, Sean Payton offered effusive praise for Christian McCaffrey to the extent of giving the Stanford dual-threat back a hypothetical role in his offense.

I’ve got a crystal-clear vision of the player. He’d be like Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush for us, kind of the Joker role. But I think you have to have him on a pitch count,” Payton told TheMMQB.com’s Peter King (via Nick Underhill of The Advocate).

McCaffrey has not visited the Saints, and this is full-on smokescreen time. But if nothing else, Payton would have an apparent fit for McCaffrey alongside Mark Ingram. The fast-rising McCaffrey’s stock could force a trade-up from the Saints’ first selection window, but the team is believed to be focused on continuing their defensive rebuild.

Here’s more out of New Orleans.

  • Adrian Peterson wouldn’t appear to complement Ingram as well as McCaffrey could, being a run-centric veteran, but a 1-2 punch between Ingram and Peterson is still possible, per Underhill. Peterson would serve as Ingram’s backup in this arrangement, Underhill writes, to the point that the Saints might not be inclined to give Peterson more than Ingram’s $3.7MM salary for 2017. Peterson’s New Orleans visit reportedly went well.
  • In addition to a meeting with Zach Cunningham, the Saints met with SEC linebackers Reuben Foster and Kendell Beckwith, Underhill reports. New Orleans also met with UCLA edge defender Takkarist McKinley. Beckwith (LSU), McKinley and Cunningham (Vanderbilt) joined Foster during his meeting with the Saints last week. Underhill reports Foster’s meeting went well. The Saints drafted Stephone Anthony two years ago to potentially man that spot, but the experiment hasn’t gone well and has led to Anthony moving to the strong side. The team remains in search of a long-term cog at that spot. The Saints would reportedly “love” to draft Foster at No. 11.
  • An Adderall-induced suspension led to Kenny Vaccaro‘s stock falling a bit last season, but the fourth-year safety wanted to assure Payton such a mishap wouldn’t again occur. “It was selfish of me, and I’m just mad I couldn’t be out there with my teammates. I’ll never do that again,” Vaccaro said, via The Advocate. “I think the Saints knew that. Coach Payton was real cool about the whole process. I think he knew it was an honest mistake.” The safety wants to sign a long-term extension to stay in Louisiana, but those talks aren’t expected to commence until the summer.

Connor Byrne contributed to this report.