With so much information going around the league with Pro Days, free agency, and general rumors in the lead-up to the 2022 NFL Draft, we’re going to keep tabs on league news and how it could impact the draft.
This post will be updated regularly by Ryan McCrystal and Brendan Donahue.
- Tampa Bay Defensive Line Help?
- Chiefs Considering Devonte Wyatt?
- Titans Offensive Line Help?
- Saints Not Trading Up?
- Buccaneers Running Back Interest
- Thibodeaux, Stingley, Actually Good At Football?
- Commanders Searching For RB
- Jordan Davis a three-down player?
- Drake London pro day
- Panthers Trade Down?
- Matt Corral Concerns
- Stingley Meeting With Commanders
- Packers Scouting Wide Receivers
- Giants Looking For Barkley Replacement?
- Saints Make Big Trade Up
- Derek Stingley To Participate In Pro Day
- Kayvon Thibodeaux Pro Day
- Kyle Hamilton’s Disappointing 40
- Matt Corral Pro Day
- Malik Willis Pro Day
April 24, NFL Draft News & Rumors
TAMPA LOOKING FOR DEFENSIVE LINE HELP
Including the postseason, Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon played over 1,000 snaps on the Buccaneers’ interior defensive line last year, and both remain on the free agent market.
Defensive line reinforcements could be coming on draft day, as Tampa has conducted visits and/or workouts with Connecticut’s Travis Jones, Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt, and Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey 一 all of whom could be first-round targets. – RM
CHIEFS CONSIDERING DEVONTE WYATT?
The Kansas City Chiefs usually don’t tip their hand with pre-draft visits, primarily focusing on Day 2 or Day 3 prospects. However, Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt was among the players to visit Kansas City this offseason.
Wyatt was arrested on charges involving a domestic incident in 2020. Players with those types of red flags on their resume are, understandably, invited to more pre-draft interviews than those with a clean past.
So while the Chiefs prefer to play their cards close to their vest, this one was unavoidable and tells us they’re considering Wyatt 一 and possibly other defensive linemen such as Connecticut’s Travis Jones, Georgia’s Jordan Davis, or Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey. – RM
TITANS LOOKING FOR OFFENSIVE LINE HELP
The Titans lost left guard Rodger Saffold and right tackle David Quessenberry in free agency, and may draft a replacement for one of them in the first round.
Last year’s second-round pick Dillon Radunz has experience at both guard and tackle, but GM Jon Robinson recently declined to say where he’ll line up, saying: “Dillon has shown he can play tackle, and he has worked at guard… there’s some versatility with him as a football player.”
The Titans have conducted pre-draft visits and/or workouts with Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green 一 who is also experienced at both guard and tackle 一 as well as Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning and Tulsa’s Tyler Smith.
Robinson also attended the pro day for Boston College’s Zion Johnson, who was roommates with Mike Vrabel’s son Tyler in college.
All four linemen are potential first-round picks who either have experience at both guard and tackle, or have traits which indicate a position change is possible.
April 22, NFL Draft News & Rumors
SAINTS LESS LIKELY TO TRADE UP?
The Saints’ front office remains intact from the Sean Payton era, but since Payton held the final say over roster decisions, we may see New Orleans take a different approach to the draft.
Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football, speaking to John Daigle of 4for4.com, called general manager Mickey Loomis “calmer, calculated, less emotional” than former head coach Sean Payton.
Underhill speculated that while under Payton we might assume the Saints would be aggressive in attempting to trade up for a top prospect, it’s possible Loomis and assistant GM Jeff Ireland won’t be as aggressive.
In recent years, Payton had been one of the most aggressive drafters in the league, unafraid to reach for his guy, even when the perceived value was low. Based on Underhill’s theory, perhaps we should no longer expect such an approach from the Saints. – RM
April 21, NFL Draft News & Rumors
BUCCANEERS DRAFTING A RUNNING BACK?
The lock of the draft might be Tampa Bay landing a running back. The Buccaneers have conducted visits and/or workouts with at least eight ball carriers, including Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, Alabama’s Brian Robinson Jr., and Georgia’s James Cook.
Suspiciously absent from that list are Iowa State’s Breece Hall and Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III 一 widely believed to be the top prospects at the position.
Though no running back is expected to be drafted in the first round, it’s possible the Bucs are trying to obscure their intentions with the No. 27 pick, which could be used on Hall or Walker. – RM
PERCEPTION CHANGING ON THIBODEAUX, STINGLEY?
Entering the 2021 college football season, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. were widely considered future top-five picks.
Since that time, ineffectiveness and injuries hurt Stingley’s stock while a perceived selfish attitude has hurt Thibodeaux. Following the combine, few mock drafts had either player in the top five and some had both falling out of the top 10.
Recently, both players have started rising in mock drafts again. So what happened? Are we back to where we started with both players likely landing in the top 10?
This is only a theory pieced together from various reports, but here’s my thinking: the perceived souring on both prospects was real, but teams ultimately concluded there’s not enough talent in this class to drop Thibodeaux or Stingley on their draft boards.
In terms of top-tier talent, this is one of the worst draft classes in recent memory. So if you own a top-10 pick 一 assuming you can’t trade down 一 do you reach for a player with less talent but fewer concerns, or take one of the few prospects with a genuinely elite ceiling?
Most teams will take their chances on premier talent, because you don’t get many opportunities to add that type of player to your roster. – RM
April 16, NFL Draft News & Rumors
COMMANDERS IN THE MARKET FOR A RUNNING BACK
The Washington Commanders have conducted visits and/or workouts with the following running back prospects:
- Breece Hall, Iowa State
- Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
- Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
- Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama
It’s tough to draw conclusions from any individual visit, but when a team invests a significant amount of time with a position group, it’s a sure sign it’s considered an area of need.
Hall is the consensus top prospect at the position, and it’s possible this list could be the first four ball carriers off the board 一 so it appears Washington is willing to spend either a second- or third-round pick on the position.
The Commanders own the No. 47 pick in the second round, but do not own a third-round selection, though they may acquire more picks in a draft-day trade.
Antonio Gibson is under contract for two more seasons and has been relatively healthy, but clearly, Washington believes it could improve its backfield depth. – RM
IS JORDAN DAVIS A THREE-DOWN PLAYER?
After posting flashy numbers at the NFL combine, Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis seemingly locked himself into an early first-round draft position. However, Davis was a part-time player at Georgia, so questions about his ability to stay on the field are still a red flag on his scouting report.
Seth Emerson of The Athletic recently shared this quote from Davis’s college coach Kirby Smart: “He could have been a three-down lineman for us here. It’s more about conditioning. When he’s at his top level of conditioning and his best weight, he can play on third down.”
Smart was obviously trying to be positive about his guy, but “when he’s at his top level of conditioning” is a key caveat. Davis weighed in at 341 pounds at the combine, but has weighed as much as 380 in the past.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Davis was on the field for just 16% of Georgia’s third-down plays in 2021 and only 7% of third-and-long plays.
If Davis slides further than expected on draft night, this will be the reason. – RM
April 15, NFL Draft News & Rumors
DRAKE LONDON WORKS OUT BUT DOES NOT RUN FOR TEAMS
Drake London, whose 2021 season ended prematurely due to an ankle injury, held his pro day on Friday. The workout was originally scheduled for April 4, but London delayed it due to a recent hamstring injury.
London elected not to run the 40-yard dash, only doing positional drills for coaches and scouts.
At the combine, London stated he had only begun running again a week earlier, so his decision to skip the 40 is not shocking 一 though he did state his intention to run during his combine interviews.
Without producing testing numbers, London likely did not boost his draft stock 一 though it was obviously critical he take the field for teams to demonstrate the health of his ankle.
Jets wide receivers coach Miles Austin was among those in attendance. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera originally planned to attend, but could not make the new date. – RM
April 14, NFL Draft News & Rumors
PANTHERS TRYING TO TRADE DOWN?
According to Mike Giardi of the NFL Network, the Carolina Panthers have talked to “numerous teams” about trading down from the No. 6 pick.
The Panthers are linked to quarterbacks in many mock drafts, but this report would seem to indicate they’re unlikely to go that direction 一 at least not with the sixth pick.
Since Carolina does not own another pick until the fourth round (No. 137) a trade down is almost certainly the team’s preferred route.
It’s also worth noting Carolina’s GM, Scott Fitterer, previously worked in Seattle. In four of Fitterer’s final five seasons with the Seahawks, they traded down in the first round to acquire extra picks. – RM
April 10, NFL Draft News & Rumors
MATT CORRAL’S MATURITY A CONCERN FOR TEAMS
In his recent mock draft, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman quoted an NFL coach on Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral: “there are still some concerns about his maturity… what are you getting into with him? He’s gonna be expected to be the leader of a bunch of men with families.”
There have been reports about Corral’s maturity issues dating back to high school, so this is not a new storyline, but this recent quote sheds light on how he’s viewed by some NFL teams heading into the draft.
Corral is sometimes linked to the Detroit Lions in mock drafts. However, Lions GM Brad Holmes has spoken extensively on the vital role character, maturity, and work ethic play in his evaluations.
Based on Corral’s maturity concerns and Holmes’s approach to team building, they would seem to be an unlikely pairing in the first round. – RM
April 8, NFL Draft News & Rumors
COMMANDERS CONSIDERING DEREK STINGLEY JR.?
In his latest mock draft, unveiled on his podcast, Ben Standig of The Athletic paired the Washington Commanders with LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Standig is routinely among the most accurate mock drafters out there, and covers the Commanders for The Athletic, so we should pay attention when he links a prospect to Washington.
In his podcast, Standig acknowledges the perception that Washington is targeting a receiver, but says he thinks the team has faith in Dyami Brown developing in his second year and the potential for Cam Sims to play a larger role.
Washington GM Martin Mayhew recently attended LSU’s pro day, presumably with an eye on Stingley. – RM
April 7, NFL Draft News & Rumors
PACKERS SCOUTING WIDE RECEIVERS
Despite losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Packers have not made any offseason additions to the receiving corps.
It appears as though help is on the way via the draft, however, as the Packers have conducted top-30 visits with the following receivers:
- Treylon Burks, Arkansas
- George Pickens, Georgia
- Velus Jones, Tennessee
- Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
Adams and Valdes-Scantling accounted for 60% of the Packers’ targets at 15 or more yards downfield last season, so Green Bay is likely in the market for someone who can stretch the field.
Thornton, a possible Day 2 or early Day 3 selection, is a speedster who saw 27% of his targets at 15 or more yards downfield last season, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Burks and Jones have both primarily played in the slot and could also fill that role for Green Bay. – RM
April 6, NFL Draft News & Rumors
GIANTS LOOKING TO DRAFT SAQUAN BARKLEY’S REPLACEMENT?
The New York Giants have conducted visits and/or workouts with three running backs who could potentially be second- or third-round selections in the upcoming draft: Iowa State’s Breece Hall, Alabama’s Brian Robinson, and Georgia’s James Cook.
Saquan Barkley has been rumored to be available on the trade market 一 though new GM Joe Schoen insists he’s not shopping Barkley. So it’s possible New York is doing its homework on a few potential replacements if a trade were to materialize.
Barkley is in the final year of his contract, so it’s also possible the Giants intend to draft a young running back to serve as Barkley’s backup in 2022 and then take over as the much-cheaper starting running back the following season.
Hall is a strong candidate to be the first running back off the board, so New York may be willing to take a running back as early as No. 36 overall. – RM
BILLS LOOKING FOR TIGHT END HELP IN DRAFT
The Buffalo Bills have conducted visits and/or workouts with four notable tight ends in the upcoming draft: Washington’s Cade Otton, Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely, Colorado State’s Trey McBride, and Nevada’s Cole Turner.
All four players are candidates to come off the board on Day 2 of the draft, so it would appear Buffalo is seriously considering adding talent to that area of the depth chart.
Tight end Dawson Knox played a significant role in the offense last season, averaging 4.7 targets per game, but he’s in the final year of his contract.
In addition to adding depth for 2022, Buffalo may also be preparing for Knox to sign elsewhere next offseason. – RM
April 4, NFL Draft News & Rumors
SAINTS ACQUIRE EXTRA FIRST-ROUND PICK FROM EAGLES
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Saints have acquired the No. 16 and No. 19 picks in this year’s draft (in addition to a sixth-round selection) in exchange for a package of picks that includes the No. 18 pick and a 2023 first-rounder.
Pre-draft trades strictly involving draft picks are typically done when one team is attempting to better position itself for a quarterback.
With that in mind, a possible explanation for this trade is the Saints had previously attempted to acquire a higher pick and through those conversations determined owning an extra first-round pick in this year’s draft would allow them to make a more appealing offer to someone (maybe the Jets are No. 10?).
From the Eagles’ perspective, the extra first-round pick in 2023 gives them the ammunition needed to acquire a quarterback next year 一 in what should be a significantly more talented class 一 if Jalen Hurts fails to develop further. – RM
STINGLEY JR. TO PARTICIPATE IN ALL DRILLS ON HIS PRO DAY
NFL Network’s Ian Rapport reported this morning “LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr., one of the top CBs in the draft, has recovered fully from his Lisfranc injury and will do all drills during his Pro Day on Wednesday, source said. A month after Dr. Robert Anderson cleared him, Stingley has been running fast in training.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Stingley Jr. was considered the best corner in this draft. In fact, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently said that based on his 2019 tape, he had him as the best overall player on his big board before the injury last season.
If Stingley Jr. shows teams on Wednesday that he is fully recovered and can return to his 2019 form, it is not out of the question he will hear his name called in the top 10 this year.
He currently has a draft position prop on BetMGM at under 12.5 -105. – BD
April 2, NFL Draft News & Rumors
BUCCANEERS VISITING WITH FIRST-ROUND WIDE RECEIVERS
The Buccaneers have conducted visits and/or workouts with Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Arkansas’s Treylon Burks, both of whom are expected to be first-round picks.
If Tampa is interested in finding someone to fill Antonio Brown’s role in the offense, Olave would be the better fit.
Brown saw a team-high 23% of his targets at 20 or more yards downfield last season, according to TruMedia/PFF.
Though Burks was used downfield a fair amount, he primarily lined up in the slot for Arkansas. Meanwhile, Olave led Ohio State in targets on the deep ball, with 24% coming at least 20 yards downfield.
Olave also demonstrated his ability to stretch the field with a 4.39 40-yard dash. Burks ran a 4.55 一 somewhat disappointing, though not unexpected given size. – RM
LIONS, SEAHAWKS, GIANTS CHECK OUT KAYVON THIBODEAUX’S WORKOUT
Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux worked out on Friday, in front of a large contingent of coaches and front office execs from the Lions, Seahawks, and Giants (among others) according to Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy.
The Lions are the most noteworthy among this group. Based purely on talent and need, Thibodeaux would be the obvious choice for Detroit with the No. 2 pick (assuming Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson goes No. 1). However, there are has been widespread speculation GM Brad Holmes will pass on Thibodeaux due to questions about his attitude and commitment to football 一 more on that here.
That said, sending seven members to check out Thibodeaux’s pro day is a strong indication Detroit is still considering him.
The Lions likely already met with Thibodeaux at the combine 一 so if any red flags were raised to remove him from the draft board, there’d be no reason to attend Oregon’s pro day in such high numbers.
Holmes may ultimately decide to pass over Thibodeaux, but it’s safe to assume that’s still an ongoing debate among Detroit’s brass. We can’t rule him out as the possible No. 2 selection just yet. – RM
COWBOYS SHOWING INTEREST IN WIDE RECEIVERS
After trading Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and losing Cedrick Wilson in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys’ depth is a little light at wide receiver. Some help could be coming with their first-round selection.
Dallas has arranged top-30 visits with Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Arkansas’s Treylon Burks, both of whom are likely to be first-round picks.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Cooper ran 47% of his routes from the slot last season. Wilson also lined up the slot on 89% of his routes.
Based on Cooper’s role, Burks may be an ideal replacement. Burks saw 56% of his targets from the slot last year, averaging 11.8 yards per target. – RM
March 24, NFL Draft News & Rumors
KYLE HAMILTON POSTS DISAPPOINTING 40 TIME AT PRO DAY
According to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton posted 40-yard dash times of 4.70 and 4.74 at his pro day on Monday.
Those are extremely disappointing numbers, but it’s unclear how teams will react. Hamilton posted an acceptable 4.59 time at the combine.
Here’s a look at the 40 times for the most recent safeties to be selected in the top 15:
Safety Combine Pro Day Minkah Fitzpatrick 4.46 -- Jamal Adams 4.54 4.40 Malik Hooker -- -- Karl Joseph 4.57 -- Kenny Vaccaro 4.63 -- Mark Barron -- 4.54 Eric Berry 4.40 -- Earl Thomas 4.43 --
Dane Brugler of The Athletic suggested it may have been a slow track in South Bend, as running back Kyren Williams also posted slower 40 times than his combine performance.
Dating back to 2017, there are three other instances of a Notre Dame player running at the combine and his pro day. Two of those three (Jarron Jones and Dexter Williams) were slower at the pro day. The third (Julian Love) improved by only .04 seconds.
With such a small sample it’s tough to draw a strong conclusion, but there’s definitely a bit of evidence to suggest we shouldn’t be surprised by a slower time at Hamilton’s pro day.
In my most recent mock draft, I have the Falcons selecting Hamilton. Atlanta’s GM Terry Fontenot was in the Saints’ front office when they selected Kenny Vaccaro 一 the slowest safety on the chart above. – RM
STEELERS TARGETING QUARTERBACK IN DRAFT
Speaking to team reporter Missi Matthews, in a video released by the team, Mike Tomlin stated it’s the Steelers’ “target” to acquire a quarterback in the draft.
This admission came after he stated there would be a competition between Mitchell Tribusky, Mason Rudolph, and Dwayne Haskins for the starting job, and was in response to a question about how the team will acquire its “fourth quarterback.”
It’s not common for a team to admit their intention to draft a specific position so openly, and with this coming from a team-produced video, it’s a little suspicious.
Perhaps Tomlin knows the Steelers have soured on this year’s crop of quarterbacks, and he’s hoping their perceived interest will force a couple quarterbacks to come off the board before Pittsburgh is on the clock at No. 20 一 thus leaving more non-quarterback options on the board for the Steelers. – RM
March 24, NFL Draft News & Rumors
CHIEFS OWN 12 PICKs IN 2022 NFL DRAFT
Following the trade of Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, the Kansas City Chiefs now own 12 picks in the upcoming NFL draft.
It’s now widely assumed Kansas City will attempt to replace Hill with one of their two first-round selections. That’s certainly possible, but it’s also worth noting Andy Reid has been hesitant to spend draft capital on wide receivers since coming to Kansas City.
Reid had a miserable track record drafting receivers during his tenure in Philadelphia 一 Eagles fans are still scarred by memories of Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell.
Since those early failures, however, Reid has honed his approach to drafting receivers, as he now heavily favors speed above all other traits.
Here’s a list of every receiver Reid has drafted with a top-100 selection 一 three of the last four have run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash:
Year Tm WR 40 Time 2000 PHI Todd Pinkston 4.45 2001 PHI Freddie Mitchell 4.47 2003 PHI Billy McMullen 4.61 2005 PHI Reggie Brown 4.51 2008 PHI DeSean Jackson 4.35 2009 PHI Jeremy Maclin 4.48 2015 KC Chris Conley 4.35 2019 KC Mecole Hardman 4.33
Tyreek Hill, a fifth-round pick, also ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Based on Reid’s track record, expect Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to be high on his wish list. Selecting one of the Buckeyes would likely require a trade up, but he now has the draft capital to make that happen.
Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson are also possible first-round targets. On Day 2, Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson and Boise State’s Khalil Shakir stand out as receivers likely to interest Reid. – RM
STEELERS, PANTHERS, FALCONS ATTEND MATT CORRAL’S PRO DAY
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral worked out for scouts on Wednesday 一 his first time taking the field since suffering an ankle injury in Ole Miss’s bowl game.
Mike Tomlin and Matt Rhule were both in attendance, continuing their week-long tour of the quarterback prospects.
Tomlin’s appearance was especially noteworthy as Ole Miss’s pro day coincided with Ohio State’s workout, which is usually a guaranteed stop on Tomlin’s pro day tour.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was also in attendance. Smith did not appear at Kenny Pickett’s or Malik Willis’s pro days 一 although it’s possible the Matt Ryan trade and pursuit of free agent Marcus Mariota affected his plans this week.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was also in attendance, though Corral’s workout was likely not the attraction for Dallas. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was seen working with edge rusher Sam Williams. – RM
March 22, NFL Draft News & Rumors
PANTHERS, STEELERS, COMMANDERS AT MALIK WILLIS’S PRO DAY
Mike Tomlin and Matt Rhule, both of whom were at Kenny Pickett’s pro day in Pittsburgh on Monday, made the trip to Malik Willis’s pro day at Liberty on Tuesday.
Both the Steelers and Panthers were expected to have an interest in the quarterback prospects, but their head coaches’ attendance at these events confirms those suspicions.
The Washington Commanders also sent a similar group to both Pickett and Willis’s pro days, most notably executive vice president of player personnel Marty Hurney and offensive coordinator Scott Turner.
After acquiring Carson Wentz there was some doubt as to whether Washington would consider drafting a quarterback this season, but it does appear as though they’re open to the possibility. – RM
DISAPPOINTING 40 TIME FOR ISAIAH SPILLER AT PRO DAY
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller did not run at the NFL combine due to an injury, so there was a lot riding on his pro day performance on Tuesday. Unfortunately for Spiller, his 40-time has been reported between 4.53 and 4.63 一 neither of which will excite scouts.
Speed wasn’t Spiller’s strength in college, however, so his draft stock may not suffer significantly.
According to Sports Info Solutions, excluding carries inside the 10-yard line, Spiller averaged 6.3 broken/missed tackles forced per 25 carries in SEC play last season. Among SEC ball carriers with at least 100 carries since 2018, only Najee Harris, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, and 2023 draft prospect Tank Bigsby have posted a higher mark.
Spiller currently has the third shortest odds to be the first running back off the board, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook at +650.
March 21, NFL Draft News & Rumors
PANTHERS SEND EVERYONE TO KENNY PICKETT’S PRO DAY
The Carolina Panthers sent GM Scott Fitterer, head coach Matt Rhule, and other coaches to Pittsburgh’s pro day to watch Kenny Pickett on Monday.
Attendance at pro days usually doesn’t mean much, but teams also don’t send a large crew to check in on a prospect they aren’t seriously considering.
It’s difficult to construct an argument in favor of drafting Pickett, or any quarterback in this class, with a top-10 pick. However, Panthers owner David Tepper has been meddlesome and is desperate to find a quarterback. It’s possible the Panthers staff is under instruction to come away from this draft with someone to replace Sam Darnold.
In my latest mock draft, I have the Panthers selecting Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross 一 but we can’t rule out the quarterbacks just yet.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was also at Pickett’s pro day, though it’s hard to draw any conclusions from attendance at a local pro day. – RM
FALCONS TRADE MATT RYAN TO COLTS
The latest trade involving a big-name quarterback sends Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 82).
Although this obviously changes the immediate direction of each franchise, there likely isn’t significant fallout from this move in terms of the 2022 NFL draft.
The Colts were not expected to have serious interest in this year’s crop of quarterback prospects, having kept their sights set on veterans all offseason. So the addition of Ryan does not change their approach to the draft.
As for Atlanta, drafting a quarterback at No. 8 is, technically, an option, but it would be surprising if general manager Terry Fontenot bet his reputation on anyone in this class.
Atlanta appears to be headed towards a year of tanking, likely putting themselves in a position to draft Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or Alabama’s Bryce Young in 2023. Since no one else in NFC South has a young quarterback in place, this could be a smart strategy by Fontenot, setting Atlanta up to take control of the division once Tom Brady retires. – RM
March 18, NFL Draft News & Rumors
DAVID OJABO INJURED AT PRO DAY
Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo suffered an apparent leg or ankle injury at his pro day on Friday. Although exact details of the injury are unknown at this time, he had to be helped off the field and Ojabo acknowledged the injury on Twitter saying he’ll “be back stronger than ever.”
In my most recent mock draft, I paired Ojabo with the Arizona Cardinals at No. 23, but it’s possible the injury will lead to a fall out of the first round.
Prior to 2021, Ojabo had played only a handful of snaps in mop-up duty but was one of the breakout stars of this past college football season, excelling opposite Aidan Hutchinson. According to Sports Info Solutions, Ojabo ranked fifth in the Big Ten in pressure rate, at 14.9%.
Given his lack of experience, a healthy Ojabo would likely have more pre-draft visits and workouts than an experienced prospect, as teams would want to get a closer look and assess the sustainability of his breakout performance.
Assuming he’s unable to work out again prior to the draft, teams may approach him more cautiously for fear he’s a one-year wonder. – RM
March 17, NFL Draft News & Rumors
DAVANTE ADAMS Traded to the Raiders
In a shocking move, the Green Bay Packers traded star receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Rob Demovsky of ESPN reportied that “Per a source, the Packers were willing to pay Adams equally to what the Raiders are with this new deal but Adams preferred to play elsewhere.” If that is the case it can be interpreted that Adams would rather play with his former college teammate Derek Carr than continue on with Rodgers even though it means he leaves a relatively weak NFC North and now joins a loaded AFC West division.
The Packers will receive the Raiders’ first- and second-round picks in the 2022 draft in return for Adams. Green Bay now has two first-round picks in the upcoming draft at spots 22 and 28 so this may finally be the year that the Packers draft Rodgers a wide receiver in the first round with several talented prospects expected to be available in that range. – BD
March 12, NFL Draft News & Rumors
BROWNS TRADE FOR AMARI COOPER
The Cleveland Browns significantly boosted the talent around Baker Mayfield, acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys. The Browns parted with their fifth- and sixth-round picks, while also getting a sixth-rounder in return from Dallas.
The asking price on Cooper was low due to his $20 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons and the likelihood Dallas would be forced to release him without a trade.
The Browns had been widely believed to be targeting a wide receiver with the No. 13 pick. The addition of Cooper doesn’t rule out that possibility, but does give them more flexibility.
Following the acquisition of Cooper, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Cleveland will allow Jarvis Landry to seek a trade. So while Cooper gives Cleveland a meaningful upgrade at receiver, the depth remains weak.
Cooper played a diverse role in the Dallas passing attack, but his most immediate impact in Cleveland may be his ability to stretch the field.
According to TruMedia, 13% of Cooper’s routes were go routes (his third most common route), on which he generated 13.3 EPA.
Landry (11% go routes, third most common) generated -9.7 EPA on go routes, the league’s second-worst mark 一 and before you blame Mayfield, consider Donovan Peoples-Jones’s 11.9 EPA, ranked 16th in the league.
Landry primarily worked out of the slot for Cleveland 一 a role in which Cooper has also excelled throughout his career. So adding another outside receiver such as Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave from Ohio State or USC’s Drake London, is still a possibility at No. 13.
As for Dallas, Cooper’s departure was anticipated, so their draft outlook remains unchanged. My most recent mock draft pairs them with Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. – RM
March 11, NFL Draft News & Rumors
DESHAUN WATSON TRADE MARKET HEATING BACK UP
Now that Deshaun Watson officially will not face any criminal charges, it has cleared the way for teams to re-engage the Texans in trade talks for their former starting quarterback. It is expected up to 10 teams could be interested, including teams with picks inside the top 10 such as the Giants with the fifth and seventh picks, the Panthers with the sixth pick, and the Seahawks with the ninth pick.
Watson does have a no-trade clause so he will have a say in where he goes but based on what the packages have been for other recently traded quarterbacks, the asking price will be high now that some of his legal troubles are behind him. However, there are still open civil suits and a suspension from the NFL is still likely. – BD
JASON KELCE RETURNS TO EAGLES
Philadelphia Eagles 34-year-old center Jason Kelce announced his intention to return for the 2022 season on Thursday and has since inked a new one-year contract.
This news potentially impacts the Eagles’ draft plans 一 my latest mock draft paired the Eagles with Iowa center Tyler Linderbuam.
Although Linderbaum would be unlikely to start for the Eagles in 2022, we can’t rule out the selection based on Kelce’s return. Kelce had flirted with retirement, so the Eagles have to assume a long-term replacement will be needed soon.
The Eagles also own three first-round picks and five in the first three rounds. That’s more than enough opportunities to plug a few immediate needs elsewhere, potentially giving them the luxury of drafting Linderbaum with no intention of using him in 2022.
It’s also worth pointing out the Eagles’ recent health struggles on the offensive line.
Since the start of 2020, Philly has used 23 different offensive line combinations for at least 30 snaps, according to TruMedia/PFF. No team is more intimately familiar with the value of offensive line depth, and their rash of injuries could affect their desire to maintain a deep unit. – RD
March 9, NFL Draft News & Rumors
WASHINGTON TRADES FOR CARSON WENTZ
The Washington Commanders’ search for a veteran quarterback came to a close with the acquisition of Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts.
Clearly, this franchise was desperate for an immediate upgrade at quarterback. Washington put together an offer for Matthew Stafford last year and has been linked to nearly every veteran on the market this offseason.
At this point, it’s unclear if the acquisition of Wentz changes Washington’s draft plans. Wentz has two years remaining on his contract, but Washington could easily bail after 2022 if needed.
Wentz will likely make Washington too competitive in 2022 to be in the mix for next year’s highly touted quarterback prospects C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Bryce Young of Alabama. So it’s possible Wentz was brought in to help Washington win immediately, while the Commanders also snag a quarterback at No. 11 to groom for the future.
The presence of Wentz may actually increase the odds Washington drafts Liberty’s Malik Willis at No. 11.
Willis is highly unlikely to be ready to start in 2022 and Washington clearly wants to win now. So drafting Willis without a veteran in place would have sent the team down a different path.
With Wentz under contract for two years, Washington now has the option to draft Willis (or another quarterback prospect) and groom him for a year or two, while still trying to be competitive with Wentz as the starter. – RM
AIDAN HUTCHINSON GOING FIRST OVERALL?
Jacksonville announced yesterday that they have put the franchise tag on their left tackle Cam Robinson for a second time, even though Robinson allowed a team-high 5.4% pressure rate last season.
However, the betting market took notice and Hutchinson’s odds to be the first pick in the 2022 draft moved from +600 to -175 on BetMGM soon after the news broke as Jacksonville may look to upgrade the league’s 31st ranked defense in DVOA last season with their first pick and address the offensive line later. – BD
March 8, NFL Draft News & Rumors
FULL REBUILD ON IN SEATTLE?
On the same day that the Seattle Seahawks traded away their franchise quarterback, they also announced that they have released their leader and cornerstone on defense for 10 years in linebacker Bobby Wagner.
There are also rumors surfacing today that Seattle is willing to listen to offers for Tyler Lockett. If this is the case, it is hard to see head coach Pete Carroll sticking around much longer. – BD
BRONCOS TRADE FOR RUSSELL WILSON
Obviously, there are massive ramifications for both the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos following the trade of Russell Wilson, but we’ll stick to just the NFL draft implications.
Seattle had previously traded its first-round pick (No. 10 overall) to the Jets in the Jamal Adams deal, so this move gets the Seahawks back into the first round. Seattle also owns the No. 40 pick (from Denver) and No. 41 (their own) in the second round.
The exchange of the No. 9 pick doesn’t have much of a domino effect on the outlook for the first round. Both Denver and Seattle have/had similar needs at quarterback, cornerback, offensive line, and edge rusher.
After trading its first and second-round selections, Denver won’t be on the clock until the final pick of the second round (No. 64), acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the Von Miller trade.
Since Denver is in win-now mode, expect them to attempt to fill in any gaps leftover from free agency with a player capable of making an immediate impact. This is a deep class at cornerback, so a starter could potentially be added with that selection. – RM
PACKERS KEEPING AARON RODGERS, EXPECTED TO TAG DAVANTE ADAMS
The Aaron Rodgers trade rumors can be put to rest, as he’s staying with the Green Bay Packers as a new deal gets worked out. As a follow-up move, Green Bay is expected to use the franchise tag on Davante Adams, in hopes of also working out a long-term deal with Rodgers’s favorite target.
These moves give us some clarity on the Packers’ draft plans, as the team clearly remains in win-now mode, as opposed to a mini rebuilding process had Jordan Love taken over at quarterback.
Rodgers has voiced his displeasure at the Packers’ draft process in recent years, so perhaps this extension is an indication he trusts Green Bay to invest more heavily in the offense.
With their first-round selection, the Packers should have USC wide receiver Drake London on their radar. In recent years the Packers have gone dumpster diving for big targets who can stretch the field, spending a fifth-round pick on 6’4” Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a sixth-round pick on 6’5” Equanimeous St. Brown and signing 6’5” Allen Lazard as an undrafted free agent.
The 6’5” London clearly fits the profile of the big, outside receiver Green Bay covets, but provides substantially more proven production than their previous investments in the position.
If Green Bay does not address this need in the first round, North Dakota State’s Christian Watson or Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce could be Day 2 targets. – RM
CHIEFS USE FRANCHISE TAG ON ORLANDO BROWN
The Kansas City Chiefs elected to use the franchise tag on left tackle Orlando Brown, which means safety Tyrann Mathieu is expected to hit free agency. This move was not unexpected, but it does potentially affect the Chiefs’ draft plans.
Mathieu played a critical role in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense due to his versatility.
According to TruMedia/PFF, Mathieu played 49% of his snaps in the box, 28% at free safety, and 21% as a slot corner (and the other handful of snaps at outside corner).
If Kansas City wants to address this need in the first round, Baylor’s Jalen Pitre, Michigan’s Daxton Hill, and Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker may be the best options.
Of that trio, Pitre has the most experience and production in the box 一 but almost no experience at free safety. Hill’s experience was primarily in coverage in the slot, while Brisker played a more diverse role.
Georgia’s Lewis Cine will be mentioned as a potential first-round safety as well, but his experience is primarily limited to free safety 一 if he’s on Kansas City’s draft board, it likely won’t be as a replacement for Mathieu. – RM
March 7, NFL Draft News & Rumors
TYLER LINDERBAUM’S WEIGH-IN LIMITS HIS OPTIONS
Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum checked in at 6’2”, 296 pounds, and 31 ⅛” arms at the NFL Combine. Although these measurements did not come as a shock, they do fall below certain thresholds many teams set for offensive linemen.
Based on their gap-blocking scheme, the Baltimore Ravens are one of the teams who may have scratched Linderbaum off their board after seeing these official measurements. The Ravens own the No. 14 pick, and have a need at center.
Iowa used zone blocking on 93% of its run plays last season 一 the scheme which is better suited for undersized linemen like Linderbaum.
Fortunately for Linderbaum, zone-blocking schemes are trendy in the league right now.
The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the teams likely to remain interested in Linderbaum as a replacement for Jason Kelce. According to Sports Info Solutions, Philly used zone blocking on 73% of its designed runs last season. – RM
TEAMS TURNED OFF BY KAYVON THIBODEAUX’S PERSONALITY
Oregon edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux has been a polarizing draft prospect due to perceived questions about his motor and work ethic. ESPN’s Todd McShay highlighted this concern back in February.
Thibodeaux appears to have raised more red flags during interviews at the combine due to what is perceived as an overly self-promoting attitude, according to Yahoo Sports’s Eric Edholm.
According to NBC Sports’s Peter King, one general manager referred to Thibodeaux as a “me guy.” King went on to compare Thibodeaux’s combine performance to Ryan Leaf’s infamous debacle in 1998, when he showed up overweight and missed his meeting with the Indianapolis Colts.
Due to his exceptional talent, Thibodeaux won’t fall far in the draft, but certain teams in the top five may be inclined to stay away.
Based on these reports, we can assume the Detroit Lions, who own the No. 2 pick, are among the teams souring on Thibodeaux.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes has spoken extensively about the impact character plays on his draft evaluations.
Consider this quote from Holmes prior to last year’s draft: “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.” – RM
COWBOYS LIKELY TO RELEASE AMARI COOPER
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Dallas Cowboys are likely to release Amari Cooper before the start of the new league year. Cooper would be due $20M guaranteed if he’s still on the roster by March 20.
Cooper’s presence has been critical to Dak Prescott’s success, so his release would create a significant hole in the Cowboys’ offense. Even with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup on the field, Prescott’s production has significantly dropped off when Cooper leaves the field.
Over the last two seasons, Prescott averaged 8.0 yards per attempt with Cooper on the field, but just 6.3 yards per attempt with Lamb and Gallup on the field without Cooper, per TruMedia.
WRs Comp% Yds/Att EPA/Dropback Lamb/Gallup on Field, Cooper off field 60.0% 6.3 -.08 Cooper on field 70.1% 8.0 .14
Knowing Jerry Jones’s affinity for flashy new toys, the Cowboys should be considered a candidate to draft a wide receiver to replace Cooper with the 24th selection in the NFL draft.
Since Cooper played extensively in the slot, Dallas may prefer a weapon that can replicate that role. Arkansas’s Treylon Burks, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson are a few possible targets with slot experience. – RM
1st Overall Pick Odds, NFL Draft 2022
|Ikem Ekwonu||+400||NC State||OT|
|Kyle Hamilton||+15000||Notre Dame||S|
|Matt Corral||+15000||Ole Miss||QB|
|Sam Howell||+20000||N. Carolina||QB|
|Garrett Wilson||+20000||Ohio State||WR|