With so much information going around the league with Pro Days, free agency, and general rumors in the lead up to the NFL Draft, we’re going to keep tabs on league news and how it could impact the draft. This post will be updated regularly.
COULD THREE RUNNING BACKS BE DRAFTED IN THE FIRST ROUND?
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, multiple scouts and coaches they talked to won’t be shocked if Javonte Williams ends up going in the first round along with Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. They spoke to a high-ranking AFC executive who said, “I love Javonte Williams, I think he’s the best back in the draft.”
Most have tied Harris to Pittsburgh and thought Etienne was a possibility to sneak into the first round as well, but few if any have thought Williams would join them.
There are teams in the back half of the first round starting with Miami at 18 but also the Jets, Steelers, and Bills that could be potential suitors for the three running backs.
NEW YORK GIANTS LEANING ON COLLEGE TIES
The Giants have a number of coaches on staff with recent experience in college, including HC Joe Judge (Alabama), DL coach Sean Spencer (Penn State), and defensive assistant Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee).
GM Dave Gettleman recently stated he’s relying on their help because “they’ve known these guys. They’ve touched these guys, which we, unfortunately, haven’t been able to do as much.”
This obviously increases the odds Gettleman drafts a player from those schools (Spencer specifically recruited Micah Parsons to Penn State). Those coaches will also have increased familiarity with players from their former conferences (Big Ten and SEC) and potentially others they encountered in the recruiting process.
Another connection worth mentioning: Pruitt (with Alabama at the time) was one of the primary recruiters for Jaelan Phillips.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS NOT INTERESTED IN OPT-OUTS?
According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Mike Mayock recently stated there have been “lively conversations” about how to handle players who opted out last season.
This obviously implies some within the building would be against investing a first-round pick in those prospects. The Raiders do not appear to be alone in this sentiment. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert stated the Steelers will prefer players who played in 2020.
If Jon Gruden, who has the final say, is among those who want to avoid the opt-outs, it would take these potential targets off the table for Las Vegas:
- Penn State LB Micah Parsons
- Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley
- Miami DE Greg Rousseau
ATLANTA OPEN TO TRADING JULIO JONES?
Multiple people including Ian Rapoport, Peter King, and Albert Breer are all reporting that the Falcons are “listening” to offers for the five-time All-Pro wide receiver mostly due in part to their salary cap issues. Because of those issues, it would make more sense for the Falcons to make the trade official until after June 1 but could start to put the framework of a deal together around the draft.
The asking price is considered to be a 1st or at worst a 2nd round pick so WR needy teams such as Baltimore, Green Bay, Tennessee, and New England are teams to keep an eye on if they don’t address the position early in this draft. This could also open up the possibility for Atlanta to take LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase at No. 4 if a trade for Jones is already in place.
49ers STILL UNDECIDED BETWEEN MAC JONES AND TREY LANCE?
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the 49ers are closing in on their decision of which QB to take at No. 3 and, in fact, have narrowed it down to just two choices, Mac Jones or Trey Lance. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network said he has been told that Kyle Shanahan is “driving the 49ers’ process” and it sounds like he has eliminated Justin Fields from consideration with under a week left until the draft.
JUSTIN HERBERT LOBBYING FOR FORMER TEAMMATE PENEI SEWELL?
When asked in an interview with NFL Network if he was lobbying for the Chargers to draft former Oregon teammate Penei Sewell, Herbert replied “I’m doing my best. He’s an incredible player. Whenever you get a tackle like that in the draft, he can change your program. Always a big fan and I’m an even bigger fan of the way he is off the field.”
There are rumblings that the Chargers are looking to move up in the draft which they almost certainly would have to do in order to be in a position to get Sewell.
WASHINGTON INTERESTED IN OFFENSIVE TACKLES?
According to The Athletic’s Ben Standig, Washington “likely gobbles up” USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker if he falls to No. 19. Standig also mentions Virginia Tech LT Christian Darrisaw as a possible selection.
Washington might be ready to throw in the towel on left tackle Geron Christian, who was a developmental project as a third-round pick in 2018. Vera-Tucker, who some view as a guard, could also be the long-term replacement for Brandon Scherff, who is likely to play on the franchise tag this season and may be on his way out after 2021.
KYLE TRASK GOING HIGHER THAN EXPECTED?
Some mock drafts have thrown Stanford’s Davis Mills into the first-round mix but the sixth quarterback off the board might actually be Florida’s Kyle Trask.
The Athletic’s Bob McGinn writes an annual draft series in which he pieces together rankings based on conversations with scouts and executives.
McGinn has a strong track record for predicting the order in which players come off the board. So it’s notable that he places Trask just ahead of Mills on his quarterback list, indicating most of those he’s spoken to have a similar opinion.
MIAMI DOLPHINS TARGETING A RUNNING BACK
Miami has held multiple virtual meetings with the top running back prospects in this class (Travis Etienne, Najee Harris, and Javonte Williams), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Clearly, Miami wants to add a running back, but because they own the No. 18 and No. 36 picks (in addition to No. 6), it’s tough to gauge whether they have first-round interest.
GM Chris Grier has used his draft capital wisely in recent years, and most would argue a running back at No. 18 would be a poor investment.
BALTIMORE RAVENS MEETING TO FREE AGENT RIGHT TACKLES
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have met with former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva and former Tennessee Titans tackle Dennis Kelly.
Following the trade which sent Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore has an opening at right tackle and two first-round picks to potentially fill that void. However, these meetings with free agents appear to indicate the team would rather address that need with a veteran.
PATRIOTS DOING THEIR HOMEWORK ON KYLE TRASK?
Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said on his recent “Move the Sticks” Podcast, that “there’s a little buzz in league circles that the Patriots are doing a lot of homework on University of Florida Quarterback Kyle Trask.” Many believe that the Patriots will be selecting a quarterback in this draft, so we will see if this is just due diligence in case they aren’t able to get one of the top five available or if they are fine passing on one of them even if they fall.
RAIDERS OPEN TO DRAFTING A QUARTERBACK IN THE FIRST ROUND?
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Raiders have done “extensive work” on all of the top QB’s in this draft and if one of them slides past No. 10, they could be a “team to watch” to grab a QB and stash for the future.
JAMIN DAVIS GOING SOONER THAN EXPECTED?
According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis is “one player that’s pretty clearly put himself in a good position going into draft week.” He goes on to add, “I think he’s got a real good shot to be the guy who turns people’s heads with how high he goes. (Maybe even in the late teens).”
Davis already turned a few heads after his pro day where he ran a 4.37 40 yard dash, had a 42 inch vertical, 11 foot broad jump all at 6’3” 234lbs. At the time people thought that might be enough to get him into the back end of the first round so late teens certainly would still be a bit of a surprise.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS RIGHT TACKLE SITUATION
At his press conference, Raiders GM Mike Mayock declined to acknowledge right tackle is a need entering the draft, and instead praised Jaryd Jones-Smith, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur.
Jones-Smith went undrafted in 2020 and played 14 snaps, all on special teams.
Mayock’s statement would have been slightly believable if he mentioned Brandon Parker, who started four games last year. Since he chose to mention the practice squad tackle, it virtually confirms they’re hoping to add help in the draft.
Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins and Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw look like first-round options.
DENVER BRONCOS NOT TRADING UP?
This appears to confirm an earlier report from Andrew Mason of DNVR Sports that Denver has not called the Atlanta Falcons about the No. 4 pick.
This is surprising because many teams make calls well before the draft just to gauge what it would cost to move up if they’re even remotely considering the possibility.
It’s also unlikely they’re lying because Atlanta would want other teams to know about the interest to drive up the price if there are multiple bidders, so we’d probably hear contradicting reports if that were the case.
LSU WR TERRACE MARSHALL JR. SLIDING DUE TO INJURY
Multiple injuries in high school and college are reportedly a red flag on Terrace Marshall Jr.’s scouting report and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler stated he dropped Marshall in his rankings as a result.
This type of information is slowly leaking out following the medical testing which took place in early April in Indianapolis.
Marshall has appeared in many first-round mock drafts this offseason, but in a deep receiver class he could slide into Day 2 due if teams have concerns about the injuries.
ARIZONA CARDINALS DRAFT INSIGHT
Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline has reported the Cardinals covet Alabama CB Patrick Surtain, South Carolina CB Jayee Horn, and Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle in some order.
Those are logical targets for the Cardinals, but it’s likely they’re all off the board by pick No. 16. Assuming the team doesn’t trade up, Pauline says the team is also high on Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins.
Collins played primarily as an off-ball linebacker at Tulsa, but at 270 points he’s built to play on the edge. With Chandler Jones in the final year of his contract, maybe Arizona sees Collins as a long-term replacement.
LANDON DICKERSON SLIDING?
Some teams have a sixth-round grade or lower on Alabama center Landon Dickerson, according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline.
This is based on Dickerson’s medical history (multiple ACL injuries) and likely indicates his recent medical recheck by NFL doctors did not go well.
This report comes just days after NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein stated his belief there will be no centers in the first round.
NEW YORK GIANTS OPEN TO TRADING DOWN?
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, with eight days left until the NFL Draft, the Giants are having internal discussions about trading down. This comes on the heels of the report that the Cowboys picking one spot ahead of them are also open to trading down. We have officially reached rumor season but those two slots in the draft could become more valuable if a quarterback does start to fall in the draft, so it is the prudent thing to do for both teams to at least be willing to listen to calls. But as Rapoport noted, Giants GM Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the first round (or any other round) in eight drafts as a GM so it would most likely have to be an offer that is too good to pass up.
DALLAS COWBOYS CONSIDERING TRADE DOWN?
According to The Athletic’s Jon Machota, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stated the team has received calls about the 10th pick.
It’s safe to say every team in the top 10 has “received calls” so this isn’t exactly news. But would Dallas consider moving down?
We assume Dallas is in the market for a cornerback (Alabama’s Patrick Surtain and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn are potential targets at 10). We also know the New England Patriots are potentially interested in trading up for a quarterback.
Earlier this offseason it was also reported Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore was believed to be available via trade.
Putting those puzzle pieces together creates a realistic scenario where the Patriots could move up to No. 10 to get their QB, while Dallas moves down and picks up a veteran cornerback.
DOLPHINS NOT CONSIDERING OFFENSIVE TACKLE WITH FIRST PICK?
With the news that the Miami Dolphins have signed veteran offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, it may have taken offensive tackle off the board for the Dolphins with their first pick. Miami Dolphins reporter Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweeted “Fluker signing seemingly makes the chance of the Dolphins taking an offensive tackle with their first pick even more remote.” This could tie into the earlier note that the Dolphins may be looking to trade back from No. 6 which makes more sense if they aren’t considering a tackle there as it is starting to look more likely that Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase could be off the board.
DOES MICAH PARSONS FIT WITH THE DETROIT LIONS?
MMQB’s Albert Breer reported he has heard the Lions linked to Penn State LB Micah Parsons.
As we’ve mentioned before, Parsons’ character has been flagged by teams due to his role in the Penn State hazing scandal and a high school suspension for inciting a riot.
Some teams are likely willing to gamble on Parsons’s elite talent but the Lions would be a surprising fit. In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm last year, Holmes stated: “I am so much focused on the intangible traits way more so than the physical traits… I’ve learned so much as to why a player is or isn’t successful in this league. It falls so much on the intangibles more than the physical.”
49ers STILL UNDECIDED AT NO. 3?
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Trey Lance is still under consideration for the 49ers at pick No. 3. He said he was told the 49ers will be extremely involved in his workout today and that Lance has been working out the past couple weeks with QB Coach John Beck at Kyle Shanahan’s request. He does note that Beck also works with Justin Fields who, along with Mac Jones, is still under consideration for the 49ers at pick No. 3. So the 49ers, at least publicly, are still acting like a team that has not made a final decision on which QB they are taking.
BENGALS TARGETING JA’MARR CHASE?
Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer went on Fox Sports Radio with Jason McIntyre and stated “the latest I’m hearing is the Bengals are targeting Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Burrow’s former teammate at LSU.” Most believe Chase will be available to them at pick No. 5 so it will be interesting to see if they would indeed take him if Kyle Pitts and/or Penei Sewell are still on the board but you can certainly understand the Bengals’ interest in reuniting their franchise QB with his former teammate.
PITTSBURGH TO TAKE A RUNNING BACK IN THE FIRST ROUND?
According to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Gerry Dulac, the Steelers are looking to address the running back position in the first or second round at the latest. He states, “The last step was changing the personnel, and it started with Conner, a three-year starter whose contract expired after the season. It will end on draft day. The Steelers appear to be content with Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland Jr. as backups, possibly even Kalen Ballage, who was signed in free agency. But they want a more dynamic feature back, a player who can put back in the offense a dimension that has been missing since the departure of Le’Veon Bell. They will do that in the draft, most likely in the first round, no later than the second.”
NO FIRST ROUND CENTER?
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein recently suggested Alabama center Landon Dickerson will not go in the first round, but at least three centers will land within the first 70 selections.
Does this mean Zierlein knows the Pittsburgh Steelers are not considering Dickerson? Zierlein’s father spent three seasons as Mike Tomlin’s offensive line coach.
Pittsburgh appears to have a hole at center following the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey, which has led to much speculation Dickerson could be an option for them at the 24th pick.
WASHINGTON CONSIDERING A QB?
GM Martin Mayhew recently declined to address a question regarding the team’s interest in a quarterback, according to The Athletic’s Ben Standig.
That’s a pretty good sign they’re interested. Of course, sitting at No. 19, Mayhew knows he doesn’t have full control over his ability to land one.
Mayhew also stated of the quarterbacks: “Anytime you see a guy with limited time on the job, that is a concern for me with the quarterback position.”
That describes North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, the quarterback most likely to slide into a range where Washington could trade up. But perhaps he’s just downplaying interest in Lance.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES MOVING INTO TOP 10?
ESPN’s Eagles reporter Tim McManus proposed a theory that Philly could trade back into the top 10, despite having recently traded down from No. 6.
This would be a rare move—although the Miami Dolphins just pulled off the same maneuver—and it makes sense based on their needs and position in the draft.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are positioned directly in front of the Eagles, and some of their potential needs match up with the Eagles’.
If the Eagles want a cornerback (Alabama’s Patrick Surtain or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn) they may need to jump Dallas to get their guy. If they need a receiver (Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle), they may need to jump New York.
DOES JADEVEON CLOWNEY CHANGE CLEVELAND BROWNS DRAFT PLANS?
The Browns signed pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year contract on Wednesday, potentially taking them out of the running for a prospect at that position with the No. 26 overall selection.
As I shared on Twitter recently, GM Andrew Berry definitely has a type he prefers at defensive end and very few players in this class appear to check all the boxes. It’s possible that after seeing the pro day numbers, the Browns realized they were unlikely to land their type of pass-rusher early in this draft, and decided the Clowney move was necessary.
The most important trait Berry appears to look for is length. Every notable pass-rusher he’s added during his current tenure as GM and as a former executive Sashi Brown’s VP of Player Personnel had at least 34” arms. The list includes Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Myles Garrett, Takk McKinley, and now Clowney.
QB STILL IN PLAY FOR CAROLINA AT #8?
Albert Breer is reporting this morning that the Panthers OC Joe Brady and QB Coach Sean Ryan are in Columbus today for Justin Fields’ second pro day. And this is after HC Matt Rhule along with two others from the Panthers front office attended his first pro day. Dane Brugler commented on the report that “there are some in the league who believe QB is still an option for Carolina at No. 8. Throw multiple darts at the most important position.”
ATLANTA FALCONS NOT TARGETING A QB
According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, the Falcons “will not force a quarterback” with the No. 4 pick.
The Falcons have frequently been paired with quarterbacks in mock drafts, but owner Arthur Blank may have tipped their hand early this offseason with indicated support for Matt Ryan and Julio Jones returning in 2021. Those comments were likely a sign the 78-year-old owner isn’t interested in rebuilding around a young quarterback right now.
King also speculates it will be difficult (possibly requiring multiple future first-round picks) to convince Atlanta to trade their selection.
DAVE GETTLEMAN LOCKED IN ON DEVONTA SMITH?
In his most recent mock draft, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah also has the Giants taking Smith, stating “I still get the sense Big Blue wants more weapons.”
Neither Lombardo nor Jeremiah gives us much concrete evidence to go on, but it’s worth paying attention to these reports because Gettleman does not play the draft with a poker face. In 2019, for example, everyone knew of his obsession with quarterback Daniel Jones. The same thing happened in 2018 when he drafted Saquon Barkley.
WILL DENVER BRONCOS TRADE UP FOR A QB?
There’s no new news on this topic, but earlier this offseason GM George Paton stated: “We do want to bring in competition, we’re not going to force it.”
This quote is worth revisiting because we’ve now seen the team explore trades for both Matthew Stafford and Sam Darnold, but decline to outbid other suitors both times. They also, presumably, had an opportunity to acquire the No. 3 pick, which eventually went to San Francisco.
It’s starting to look like Paton was genuine when he said he wouldn’t force a quarterback addition. We may now need to consider the possibility the Broncos spend the No. 9 pick on another position, possibly adding a quarterback on Day instead.
DALLAS COWBOYS INTERESTED IN CORNERBACKS
In his latest mock draft, Cowboys beat writer Calvin Watkins has the team selecting South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn.
This is notable because Watkins has Alabama CB Patrick Surtain already off the board, indicating he believes Dallas is high on both top cornerbacks.
Watkins also mentions Virginia Tech left tackle Christian Darrisaw as a possible “future left tackle.”
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS GOING DEFENSE IN FIRST ROUND?
Greg Auman of The Athletic projects the Bucs to target the defensive side of the ball with the 32nd pick, specifically defensive line or linebacker.
The Bucs don’t have an obvious hole on either side of the ball, but they do have five prominent defensive players in the last year of their contract: defensive linemen Ndamukong, Suh, William Gholston, and Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Carlton Davis and safety Jordan Whitehead.
DANIEL JEREMIAH MOCKS JUSTIN FIELDS TO DETROIT LIONS
We haven’t seen the Detroit Lions paired with quarterbacks in many mock drafts since the Matthew Stafford–Jared Goff trade, so this is an interesting development.
Jeremiah doesn’t offer much of an explanation in his mock draft, but this is likely a result of Mac Jones now expected to go much higher than we initially believed.
With Goff likely in Detroit for two more years, the Lions don’t have to rush to find his replacement. However, it does seem plausible that they’ll have a high enough grade on Fields to make this move.
DALLAS COWBOYS INTERESTED IN FLORIDA TE KYLE PITTS
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is “infatuated” with Kyle PItts.
Of course he is. Jones is like a toddler who immediately loses interest in his toy as soon as he spots a new one.
The 78-year-old Jones has been less involved in recent years, ceding some power to his son Stephen, and it’s no coincidence Cowboys’ draft classes have improved. And he’ll probably be talked out of this latest obsession.
With an already deep group of offensive weapons and massive holes on the defensive side of the ball, it would tough for Dallas to justify adding Pitts, especially since it may require trading up in the top 10.
CAROLINA PANTHERS STILL CONSIDERING DRAFTING A QB?
After trading for Sam Darnold on Monday, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer stated “It doesn’t take us out of taking a quarterback.”
It’s possible Fitterer is telling the truth. Since other teams are trying to jump to No. 4—but the Atlanta Falcons almost certainly won’t trade that pick within the division—Carolina might be concerned they won’t get the quarterback they want at No. 8. Therefore, they traded for Darnold as a contingency plan.
However, it’s also possible Fitterer wants other teams to think they could draft a quarterback, prompting someone else to jump ahead of them. If Carolina isn’t drafting a quarterback, they want to see as many quarterbacks off the board before their pick as possible, giving them the best selection at the other positions.
Between these two possibilities, the smokescreen scenario sounds most likely.
ATLANTA FALCONS TRADING NO. 4 PICK?
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Falcons are receiving calls about the No. 4 pick and “are open to moving” the selection.
We didn’t need an official report to know these calls were happening since there will be two potential top-10 quarterbacks still on the board at No. 4.
The teams most likely to be calling Atlanta about a quarterback are the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, and the Washington Football Team.
With three of those teams outside the top 10, however, it will probably take a substantial package to convince the Falcons to trade down and pass up the opportunity to land a premier player at No. 4.
CAROLINA PANTHERS NOT INTERESTED IN A QB?
In a recent podcast, Josh Norris of Underdog Fantasy stated he would be shocked if the Panthers drafted a quarterback at No. 8.
Norris’ theory is based on a belief that, because of owner David Tepper’s aggressive style, if the team loved any of the quarterbacks likely to be available at No. 3, they would have out-bid the San Francisco 49ers for that selection.
This is a strong theory, however, Norris also brings up the strongest counterargument to his own point: Tepper, being an impatient owner, might simply be done watching Teddy Bridgewater and demand an upgrade.
If this theory is true, it greatly increases the chances one of the top quarterbacks falls outside the top 10, which is probably good news for the Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, or Chicago Bears.
CLEVELAND BROWNS SHOWING INTEREST IN CORNERBACKS
The Browns appear to be in decent shape at cornerback with free agent addition Troy Hill, Greedy Williams returning from injury, and Denzel Ward. However, the team is spending time with a number of potential first-round cornerback selections this offseason.
The list of Cleveland’s reported virtual visits includes:
- Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
- Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
- Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
- Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
All of these players are likely to be gone by the time Cleveland is on the clock on Day 2, so it appears as though they’re giving serious consideration to adding more talent to the secondary in Round 1.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS CONSIDERING FLORIDA QB KYLE TRASK
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentioned the Saints as a contender to land a quarterback in the draft, despite re-signing Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.
Fowler specifically mentions Kyle Trask as a potential target “somewhere after round one.”
Since both Winston and Hill signed one-year deals, it could certainly make sense for New Orleans to bring in a young quarterback to groom behind them for a year, before potentially passing the torch in 2022.
MIAMI DOLPHINS SHOWING INTEREST IN FLORIDA TE/WR KYLE PITTS
According to The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino, Dolphins HC Brian Flores spoke with Kyle Pitts at Florida’s pro day on Wednesday and plans to continue conversations with him leading up to the draft.
It’s possible Miami has interest in selecting Pitts sixth overall, but it’s also easy to read this as a smokescreen.
By sharing their interest in Pitts publicly, maybe the Dolphins can convince the Atlanta Falcons or Cincinnati Bengals to select Pitts rather than trade down with one of the quarterback-needy teams. Then Miami could potentially be in position to trade down again with a quarterback-needy team (Carolina or Denver?).
That’s just one example of how this news might not be as straightforward as it appears.
FLORIDA TE KYLE PITTS BLAZES 4.44 IN THE 40
Kyle Pitts posted a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash at Florida’s pro day on Wednesday.
As we’ve mentioned previously, pro day times are often faster than combine times because teams can select the most favorable running surface they have access to for workouts. At Florida, however, this isn’t the case.
Based on data from DraftScout.com, dating back to 2011, 11 out of 15 Florida players who ran at both the combine and pro day failed to improve their time and, on average, ran 0.5% slower at the Gators’ pro day.
This allows us to fairly compare Pitts’s incredible time to other big receivers who ran in Indy, such as Mike Evans (4.53) and Calvin Johnson (4.40).
JA’MARR CHASE RUNS A 4.38 40, SOLIDIFYING HIS CASE FOR WR1
Ja’Marr Chase had an impressive showing at his pro day this morning running a 4.38 40 while also completing a 41-inch vertical jump and 11-foot broad jump. He measured in at just over 6-feet tall and weighed in at 201 pounds, which all but confirmed he was the size and speed scouts were looking for to confidently make Chase the first wide receiver selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
JUSTIN FIELDS RUNS A 4.44 40 YARD DASH AT THE OHIO ST. PRO DAY
Justin Fields wowed those in attendance at his pro day clocking a 4.44 40 yard dash which, according to Adam Schefter, is the second-fastest time by a QB ever recorded since 2006, only behind Robert Griffin III, who ran a 4.41 in 2012. The caveat is that Lamar Jackson did not run at his combine but still, it is certainly a time that is going to get teams’ attention, even if not all of them were there in person today.
SOUTH CAROLINA JAYCEE HORN POTENTIALLY CB1?
MMQB’s Albert Breer recently mentioned he’s spoken to sources with a few teams who prefer South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn to Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II.
The race to be the first cornerback off the board was likely narrowed last week when Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley announced he would undergo back surgery.
The Lions at No. 7, Cowboys at No. 10, and Eagles at No. 12 appear to be the most likely candidates to select the first cornerback.
URBAN MEYER ACKNOWLEDGES JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS WANT TREVOR LAWRENCE
When asked if the team will draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence by NBC Sports’ Peter King, Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer stated “that’s the direction we’re going.”
Meyer acknowledged the final call will be made by owner Shahid Khan, but this statement confirms with near-100% certainty what we’ve assumed all along.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS GM, HC SKIPPING OHIO STATE PRO DAY
According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch will attend Alabama’s pro day on Tuesday, while assistant GM Adam Peters will attend Ohio State’s.
It’s tempting to read between the lines and assume San Francisco is favoring Alabama’s Mac Jones over Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
The more likely scenario—as was addressed here last week—is that San Francisco already knows who they’re taking at No. 3.
Therefore Shanahan and Lynch may be attending Alabama’s pro day to evaluate other prospects, and also to plot a contingency plan. If one of the top quarterbacks were to get injured leading up to the draft, they’ll need to be prepared to make a decision on whether Jones is also worthy of that selection.
Drafting a quarterback changes the entire direction of a franchise, so smart teams prepare for every possible scenario before making these critical decisions.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about going to Alabama’s Pro Day tomorrow, and not North Dakota State or BYU, says it was important for the team not to tip its hand before the trade was done. “Now that you’re up at 3, you don’t have to hide as much.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS TARGETING TREY LANCE AT NO. 3?
Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi recently speculated that the 49ers are targeting North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall selection, acquired on Friday from the Miami Dolphins.
Lombardi’s logic is based on the 49ers’ insistence that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is not available on the trade market.
Trey Lance is just 20 years old and started only 17 games at North Dakota State, and only appeared in one game in 2020 due to the pandemic. As a result, it’s assumed he’s unlikely to be prepared to lead an NFL offense by September.
So if the 49ers draft Lance, it does make sense to keep Garoppolo as the short-term starter.
Although, if Garoppolo is traded, this certainly wouldn’t be the first time a team reversed course after such a statement.
MIAMI JUMPS BACK INTO THE TOP 10 TRADING WITH PHILADELPHIA FOR NO. 6 PICK
Miami had a busy afternoon, to say the least. Minutes after trading down from No. 3 to No. 12 the Dolphins announced a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that sent picks No. 12, No. 123, and a 2022 first-round pick for picks No. 6 and No. 156. With San Francisco jumping to No. 3 and all but assuring at least three QB’s, if not four, will be taken by pick No. 6, Miami must be confident that the player(s) they were considering at No. 3 will most likely still be there at No. 6. The same can almost be said from the Eagles’ perspective. A team that will most likely be looking at WR’s, there is a good chance that one or more of the players they were considering at 6 will still be available at 12.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS ACQUIRE NO. 3 PICK FROM MIAMI DOLPHINS
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, San Francisco has swapped first-round picks with the Dolphins.
When a team jumps to the top of the draft like this, they’re going after a quarterback. So we can assume San Francisco will be targeting either Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance.
This trade is somewhat surprising since the New York Jets own the No. 2 overall selection, and are likely to be targeting a quarterback. Perhaps this trade indicates San Francisco is excited about at least two of the three aforementioned prospects.
It’s also possible San Francisco knows the Jets’ plans at No. 2. New Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur had previously spent his entire NFL coaching career under 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, so it’s likely they’ve talked this offseason.
When there’s a strong relationship, secrets like this do get swapped between teams, so it’s very possible San Francisco knows which quarterback will be gone at No. 2, and therefore who they’re landing at No. 3.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS LOOKING FOR CORNERBACK HELP?
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of receiving stolen property.
It’s too early in the investigation to know if this news will impact his availability in 2021, but the Saints appear to have already been showing an interest in cornerback prospects in the upcoming class. It’s certainly possible this news could enhance their motivation to address the position.
Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II and Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. are two potential first-round targets the Saints have been in contact with this offseason. Some potential Day 2 cornerbacks they’ve shown interest in include Michigan’s Ambry Thomas, Syracuse’s Trill Williams, and Oregon’s Thomas Graham.
PENN STATE PLAYERS POST IMPRESSIVE 40 TIMES
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (4.39) and pass-rusher Jayson Oweh (4.36) posted remarkable times in the 40-yard dash at their pro day on Thursday.
There’s no denying Parsons and Oweh are impressive athletes, but Penn State’s pro day times are notoriously fast. According to The 33rd Team, Penn State players typically run three percent faster at their pro day than the combine.
A notable example of this is Buffalo Bills 2008 first-round pick Aaron Maybin, who ran a 4.89 at the combine, before running 4.64 at his pro day.
This adjustment would make Parsons’ expected combine time 4.53, and Oweh’s 4.49.
Attempting to make these adjustments is valuable because players run on slightly different surfaces at each school. So Penn State isn’t being accused of fabricating these numbers, but they just happen to have an extremely fast running surface.
USC OL ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER MAKING SWITCH TO GUARD?
USC left tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker checked in with 32 1/8” arms at his pro day on Wednesday. That measurement likely means he’ll be listed as a guard on most draft boards.
Over the last 10 years, only two offensive tackles with sub-33” arms were drafted in the first round: Justin Pugh (who eventually spent most of his career at guard) and Kaleb McGary (who has spent two disappointing years at right tackle for the Atlanta Falcons).
Vera-Tucker could still land among the top 20 picks—the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers both need interior offensive line help—but his likely designation as a guard shortens the list of teams who will consider him in the first round.
BALTIMORE RAVENS INTERESTED IN LSU WR TERRACE MARSHALL JR.?
In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has the Ravens selecting LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. This is the third consecutive mock draft in which Kiper has paired Marshall and Baltimore.
Kiper is a Ravens fan and is well-tuned into the organization—he correctly predicted their selection of LB Patrick Queen last year—so his projections for Baltimore are worth taking seriously.
CALEB FARLEY TO UNDERGO MICRODISCECTOMY ON 3/23 AND NOT WORK OUT AT HIS PRO DAY
Farley, who is in the running for top CB taken in this year’s draft, will now not be able to work out for scouts at his pro day that is scheduled for March 26. That could be enough of a concern to put both Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn ahead of him on draft boards. As his agent Drew Rosenhaus stated, he is expected to be cleared for full activities before the start of training camp so it shouldn’t bump him out of the first round altogether.
PENN STATE LB MICAH PARSONS IN DANGER OF FALLING?
In his latest mock draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein has Micah Parsons falling to the Green Bay Packers at No. 29, and mentions “character concerns” as a possible reason.
The character concerns are a reference to allegations of bullying and sexual harassment by a former teammate.
Zierlein, whose father was a long-time NFL and coach college, is well connected in the league, so these types of statements are often an indication of what he’s hearing from team sources. In a recent tweet, Zierlein also mentioned the Pittsburgh Steelers as a specific team he believes won’t draft Parsons for this reason.
In his previous mock draft, Zierlein gave Parsons to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 6. Making such a significant change, and specifically citing the off-field questions, definitely gives the impression Zierlein has heard too many negative reviews of Parsons from within the league to believe he’s a candidate to go that high.
SYRACUSE CB IFEATU MELIFONWU RUNS 4.48 AT PRO DAY
While he isn’t a consensus first-round pick right now, Ifeatu Melifonwu is likely in the conversation for some teams after running a 4.48 40-yard dash with a 41.5” vertical at Syracuse’s pro day.
The Green Bay Packers, who are likely looking to replace 6’3” cornerback Kevin King, could be a potential landing spot for the 6’2” Melifonwu in the late first round.
New York Giants Sign WR Kenny Golladay
With the Giants locking up a WR1 for 4 years at 72 million and 40 of which guaranteed, WR now moves down the priorities list for them. I would expect them to now shift their focus to offensive line at pick 11 or best player available. They may also be enticed to trade down as their pick could become a target if one of the top 4 quarterbacks are still available at pick 11 and a team such as the Patriots or Bears wants to leapfrog San Francisco at 12.
Georgia CB Eric Stokes Impresses at Pro Day
Eric Stokes entered Georgia’s pro day as a fringe first-round prospect, but his pro day numbers make a strong case for him belonging among the top 32 prospects. Stokes blazed a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 39” vertical leap.
The 6’0” Stokes also checked in with 32 ¾” arms, which ranks in the 89th percentile among cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus—and we know how much NFL teams covet length at the position.
Stokes was not in my most recent first-round mock draft, but I had him matched with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the previous version. The New Orleans Saints and New York Jets are two other potential landing spots for Stokes in the first round.
Green Bay Packers Re-Sign RB Aaron Jones
Since Green Bay spent a second-round pick on running back AJ Dillon last year, Aaron Jones’s return is mildly surprising.
The Miami Dolphins had previously been the favorites to land Jones and there isn’t an obvious alternative target on the free agent market. With Jones no longer available, the odds of Miami selecting a running back with either the 18th or 36th pick have greatly increased.
Miami Dolphins Trade DE Shaq Lawson
Between Shaq Lawson and the recently released Kyle Van Noy, Miami has now parted with two of its top three pass-rushers from last season. Lawson and Van Noy combined for 84 QB pressures, according to Sports Info Solutions.
The Dolphins may address this need in free agency, but they’re also in a good spot to add a pass-rusher with the 18th pick. Michigan’s Kwity Paye, or Miami’s duo of Jaelan Phillips or Gregory Rousseau could each fill Lawson’s role in the defense.
Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins could potentially be a replacement for Van Noy.
Tennessee Titans Showing Interest in Cornerbacks
The Titans have met virtually with at least five cornerback prospects this offseason: Northwestern’s Greg Newsome, Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr., UCF’s Tay Gowan, and Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu and Trill Williams.
Draft visits don’t mean much in terms of connecting teams to specific players, but when a team is investing this much time in a certain position group, it’s typically a strong indication they plan to address that area of the roster.
Most of the aforementioned players are Day 2 prospects, but Newsome and Samuel Jr. could potentially land in the first round.
Many GMs attend Pro Day for North Dakota State QB Trey Lance
The New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings were among a large group of teams represented by their GM at the North Dakota State pro day on Friday.
Normally a GM’s attendance signals serious interest in a prospect, but we probably can’t connect those dots as strongly in this case. Since Trey Lance only appeared in one game in 2020, many of these GMs have likely never seen him in person.
Lance is more of an unknown than a typical top QB prospect, so high-profile coaches and front office staff likely made this pro day one of the priorities on their spring schedule, just to be sure they’ve done their due diligence.
As for Lance’s workout, he checked in at 6’4”, 224 pounds and declined to participate in agility drills.
Clemson RB Travis Etienne weighs in at 215 pounds at pro day
Running back Travis Etienne was listed at 205 pounds at Clemson, and may have played lighter than that at times. His lack of size and finesse style of play has led some doubters to wonder if maybe he’s not three-down back in the NFL.
Adding some weight for his pro day, while still running a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash, probably relieves some of that doubt from any teams with similar questions. As a result, he’s still in the mix to sneak into the late first round.
Kansas City Chiefs release LT Eric Fisher, RT Mitchell Schwartz
The Chiefs injury-depleted offensive line held together reasonably well until Fisher’s injury in the AFC Championship game. So finding a suitable replacement appears to be critical to their ability to repeat as AFC champs.
If they address this need in the draft, Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg or Texas’ Sam Cosmi are the most logical fits at LT. Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins and Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield are both viewed by many as RT-only prospects (or guards) and could potentially be replacements for Schwartz.
New Orleans Saints release WR Emmanuel Sanders
Since the Saints are in a tough cap situation, they probably can’t afford to replace Sanders with a high-end free agent. As a result, his departure likely increases the odds of New Orleans targeting a receiver in the first round.
The Saints like to use their receivers interchangeably between the slot and outside, which may draw them towards players with similar experience in college. Florida’s Kadarius Toney (63 percent of career routes in slot, according to Sports Info Solutions) is the probably closest comparison to Sanders among the likely first-round receivers.
USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown (64 percent of career routes in slot) is another who has extensive experience in both roles.
Northwestern CB Greg Newsome runs 4.38 at pro day – Draft Impact:
Newsome wasn’t highly regarded prior to 2020, but he was dominant in the shortened Big Ten season. With only a small sample size of elite performances, teams will be looking for an excuse to downgrade him but his 4.38 40-yard time and 40” vertical gives him the workout numbers to match his recent production, increasing the odds of him sliding into the first round.
The Jets and Packers both look like potential fits in the late first-round based on their heavy use of zone coverage, which Newsome excelled at in college.