With so much information going around the league with Pro Days, free agency, and general rumors leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, we’re going to keep tabs on league news and how it could impact the draft.
This article will be updated regularly by Ryan McCrystal, Brendan Donahue, and the Sharp Football team.
- Lions and Jalen Carter
- Falcons out on Jalen Carter?
- Could Lions still draft a cornerback?
- Texans want Young but not Stroud?
- Jalen Carter tanks pro day
- Coach praises Anthony Richardson’s accuracy
March 22nd, NFL Draft News & Rumors
Lions and Jalen Carter
A common selection for the Detroit Lions in recent mock drafts has been Jalen Carter.
While this isn’t necessarily news, it’s worth addressing because it would be a surprising development as it goes against a core tenet of Brad Holmes’s philosophy as a general manager.
Holmes rarely gives in an interview in which he doesn’t use the word “intangibles.”
In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm a few years ago, 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.”
To ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, Holmes stated: “I think the intangibles are the separators of success… we always made an emphasis on investing in high-intangible football players.”
Then consider his first comments about last year’s first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson: “Well, he checks a lot of boxes that we look for. From an intangibles standpoint, he plays with a really high motor. He loves football. He’s very passionate about the game.”
Carter certainly fits the Lions from a talent and team-need standpoint, but it would be require Holmes to betray a the philosophy which drives his approach to team building. – RM
March 20th, NFL Draft News & Rumors
Could Lions still draft a cornerback?
After an overhaul of their secondary in free agency, are the Lions still a candidate to draft a first-round cornerback?
The Lions added Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley in recent weeks, each of whom appear to be in line for starting role if the season started today.
Detroit owns the sixth and 18th picks in the upcoming draft and are frequently linked to cornerbacks with one of those selections. In an early version of my mock draft, I had them taking Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez with the sixth pick.
Gardner-Johnson and Moseley each signed one-year contracts, which means Detroit could easily justify adding more talent to the secondary via the draft. That said, these signings do appear to indicate Detroit is preparing for a scenario in which they are unable to land a cornerback early in this year’s draft.
It’s possible Detroit is loading up on free agents in the event a trade up for a quarterback remains possible.
As we discussed last week, Houston may pass over C.J. Stroud if Carolina takes Bryce Young first overall. If that scenario played out, Detroit could swap picks with Houston or Arizona to land Stroud, potentially leaving them without the remaining draft capital to address the secondary. – RM
Falcons out on Jalen Carter?
The Atlanta Falcons, who own the eighth pick in the draft, are likely among the teams that will pass on Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter.
Pairing Carter with Grady Jarrett would be enticing but, according to The Athletic’s Josh Kendall, it appears as though Atlanta will not select Carter if he’s on the board.
Falcons fans got their hopes up last week when Atlanta sent its head coach, defensive coordinator and director of pro personnel to Georgia’s pro day. However, Kendall was emphatic in his belief Carter will not be joining the team, stating: “Atlanta fans need to start getting their minds wrapped around the fact that Carter is not coming to Flowery Branch.”
Teams are still gathering intel on Carter, but we may begin to hear similar reports in the coming days and weeks. – RM
March 17th, NFL Draft News & Rumors
Texans want Young but not Stroud?
On ESPN 97.5 Houston, NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein stated he believes it is a foregone conclusion the Texans will draft Bryce Young second overall if he’s available.
Zierlein followed that up by saying if Young goes number one overall, the same cannot be said of C.J. Stroud.
The reason is due to Stroud’s agent David Mulugheta, who represents Deshaun Watson. Houston believes Mulugheta’s approach to forcing Watson out of Houston cost the team a considerable amount of money and GM Nick Caserio will not be eager to deal with Mulugheta again.
Egos get in the way of good decisions all the time, so this a plausible scenario Zierlein puts forth. That said, Mulugheta represents a growing list of high profile NFL players 一 avoiding him at all costs would simply be bad business, especially when it comes to selecting a franchise quarterback. – RM
March 15th, NFL Draft News & Rumors
Jalen Carter Tanks Pro Day
Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter showed up at his pro day nine pounds heavier than he weighed at the combine and then was unable to finish position drills due to cramping.
According to Albert Breer of MMQB.com, those in attendance said Carter looked out of shape.
Carter’s off-field concerns were first widely reported by ESPN’s Todd McShay back in December and it’s only since gotten worse. Last month Carter was arrested and charged with racing and reckless driving in an incident which resulted in the death of a Georgia teammate and a football staffer.
In my most recent mock draft I had Carter going fifth overall to the Seahawks. Despite the other issues, it seemed plausible Carter would be able to convince teams the arrest was one isolated terrible decision.
However, given the reports prior to the racing incident and now his pro-day flop, there are mounting concerns that will be difficult for any team in the top 10 to overlook 一 and it’s now reasonable to wonder if he falls out of the first round. – RM
March 10th, NFL Draft News & Rumors
Darius Slay to Seek Trade?
According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Eagles have given Darius Slay permission to seek a trade.
James Bradberry is also a free agent, which means Philly could be in the market to replace both starting outside corners this offseason.
Could this be the year Howie Roseman finally drafts a first-round cornerback?
The Eagles have not spent a first-round pick on a defensive back since taking Lito Shepherd 26th overall in 2002. At the time, Roseman still serving as a “salary cap staff counsel” for the Eagles under Andy Reid.
During the years in which Roseman has maintained control of the roster, he has selected just one defensive back before the third round: Sidney Jones, 43rd overall in 2017. – RM
March 9th, NFL Draft News & Rumors
Coach Praises Anthony Richardson’s Accuracy
Anthony Richardson received quite a bit of praise from Bruce Feldman of The Athletic in his combine notes column.
One quote from a quarterback coach stood out: “the reason why I’m so high on him is you can see him throw with touch on film; you can see him take a good drop and be accurate, throwing the right type of ball.”
This was surprising to read because accuracy is one of Richardson’s greatest weaknesses.
The metric Accuracy Above Average looks at a quarterback’s on-target rate relative to the average on-target rate for each route type, using data from Sports Info Solutions.
Based on this metric, here’s how the top quarterback prospects ranked out of 66 qualified Power Five quarterbacks in 2022:
- C.J. Stroud, 4th
- Bryce Young, 16th
- Hendon Hooker, 19th
- Will Levis, 25th
- Richardson, 60th
Relative to college quarterbacks over the past five seasons, Richardson’s Accurate Above Average was 9.7% below expected.
Perhaps this quote was just an effort to hype up Richardson 一 teams who aren’t interested in prospects sometimes do this in hopes it elevates their stock, pushing others down the board 一 but if certain teams genuinely trust Richardson’s accuracy, that definitely increases the odds he’s a top-10 pick. – RM
Christian Gonzalez Falling?
One prospect who did not get glowing reviews in Feldman’s column was Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez.
Per Feldman, an NFL defensive backs coach questioned his ability to defend the run: “In our division with the backs we face, that would be a problem. We need to find out more about him from his coaches there.”
It’s a fair criticism of Gonzalez, but some teams care more about a defensive back’s contributions to run defense than others. Ultimately, they make their money in coverage, so this is unlikely to have a significant effect on Gonzalez’s draft stock. – RM
Chicago Staying at No. 1?
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles believes he can get two future first-round picks for the number one selection in this year’s draft 一 but not everyone agrees.
Speaking to The Athletic’s Mike Sando, one NFL team president stated “In the end, I don’t know if they get enough to move down. Maybe you can get a Tampa, who is desperate, or the Raiders. But I think everybody holds tight and they probably just draft.”
It would be surprising if Chicago cannot get a decent offer for the top pick. However, who makes that offer could be key.
Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. is a special prospect. If, as suggested, Chicago’s best offers are from Las Vegas (picking seventh) and Tampa Bay (19th), staying put and taking an elite pass-rusher may be more appealing than the extra picks. – RM