Welcome back to NFL Draft Rumorville. We are less than two weeks away from one of the best times in professional sports. The NFL Draft is a chance for fans of every team to start anew and meet the new faces that they will be cheering for on Sundays.
Since most pro days, minus a couple prospects that have been injured, are over and most teams have moved on to private workouts and visits, we will jump right into the most noteworthy news from the past week. Below are the stories coming out of NFL camps last week, along with some of the latest buzz and rumors around the top prospects.
Dolphins Willing to Move Up?
There is no speculation when it comes to the Miami Dolphins need at offensive tackle. They lost once elite Jake Long on the blindside and have a player in Jonathan Martin who may not be ready for left tackle playing time. Popular thought is that they will look at that position first if one of the three elite tackle prospects fall to them at pick 12. Not so fast. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins are infatuated with Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher but not so much with Lane Johnson. In fact, Salguero reports that general manager Jeff Ireland has been very adamant that they can and most likely will try and move up to grab one of the two top left tackle prospects. It would be unfair to not mention the fact that there are also reports out there that say the Dolphins do in fact like Johnson enough to take him if he did fall to them.
So where do they move up to and what will they have to give up? Most likely they are going to have to trade away this year’s first rounder as well as next year’s first round pick, and the likes of a second and third round pick this year. Lucky for Miami, and one of the reasons they have the luxury to trade up, is that they have multiple picks in the second and third rounds. Still it is hefty price to pay. And then you have to figure where they eventually will move up. To grab Fisher or Jeockel you are going to realistically have to get into the top three picks. Even though Ireland has not ruled out going all the way up to number one, I highly doubt that they will. More likely is a trade to draft pick needy Oakland at number three. The Raiders are in desperate need of picks in the second and third rounds and would most likely be willing to trade back to secure those.
If the Dolphins can pull off the trade it will most likely land Fisher since everyone expects Joeckel number one. The only snag in the plan to get those two players is Jacksonville at pick number two could take whichever prospect does not go number one to the Chiefs. You have to remember that the Jaguars are in need of offensive tackles as much as anyone, they just have so many other needs as well that it is hard to predict who they will take. Still with me? Good.
My prediction is this; the Dolphins will wait until Draft night and see what Kansas City and Jacksonville do at one and two. If Fisher is still there, they trade up to number three with Oakland and take either Fisher or Joeckel.
The Eagles Say Thanks, But No Thanks To One Player... Open Door for Another
There really isn’t much news to teams hosting players for personal visits as each team has 30 per year. However, what really makes for a good story is when a team cancels a scheduled visit with one of the top prospects.
A report from the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that the team called and informed top cornerback prospect Dee Milliner that the visit would be cancelled. Is this the Eagles playing the draft strategy game by making it seem they don’t like a player so no one will trade ahead of them to take him? Or could the Eagles genuinely not be interested at taking a cornerback that high? The Eagles are the only ones to answer that and it is not like they have not been doing their homework on all the top players. Chip Kelly and his scouting staff have been all over and have hosted top players on offense and defense.
One player of particular interest is none other than quarterback Geno Smith. Not only did the entire organization fly down to West Virginia's Pro Day to scout Smith, but they flew him in for one of their pre draft visits as well. Could it be them doing their due diligence? Of course it can. But where there is smoke there is fire and Lance Zierlein of The Sideline View says the Eagles are more than interested. Zierlein writes that he has been told by a very prominent league source to go ahead and put down Geno Smith as the fourth pick to the Eagles. Zierlein is not alone as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah also says he is hearing the whispers around league sources of Smith to the Eagles.
Smith comes from a similar offense that Kelly would most likely run in the NFL. Kelly wants to be fast paced and have a quarterback that can move around in the pocket and make plays throwing and on the run. Smith may have his flaws, but he is the only quarterback worth looking at this high if you are in need.
Don't Feel Too Bad For Milliner
As stated above, Milliner did not get to punch his dance card in Philadelphia, but have no fear. Milliner is being courted heavily by almost every top 10 team in this draft. He is widely considered the number one guy and teams that are in need of shutdown corner help are in hot pursuit of the Alabama prospect. There is even one team of note who are showing more interest than most.
Milliner is being courted by the New York Jets heavily as well as the teams that riddle the top 10 of the draft. Only problem for the Jets is that there is no way that Milliner will be there when they pick at 9. The Jets are ready to deal Darrelle Revis any day now and could have the ammunition to move up to a higher pick and snag Milliner, say to number five to Detroit. A lot of this will revolve around Revis and if he is traded. If he is in fact gone to Tampa Bay, mark it down that the Jets will trade up in order to get the player they covet, most likely Milliner. They could than get a pass rusher with the pick they get from Tampa Bay.
Red Flagged at the Wrong Time
Usually you want to have all of your flaws on the table as early as possible so that teams can get to them and past them before they work prospects out and decide whether to pick them. The last thing you want is to have something pop up and teams rush to see if they need to reconsider a certain prospects value so close to draft time.
For two prospects, unfortunately, reports this week have come out that are not shining endorsements for their once top 15 potential. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei have been widely publicized in this process and even heavily critiqued at times. But new reports have surfaced that could see them fall way farther down than most ever expected.
Take Patterson, once considered the top wide receiver in this draft. He only has one year of FBS game film to scout and many are starting o question if he can even handle NFL playbooks and offenses. Lance Zierlein is reporting that one NFL source of relevance has said to be on the lookout for Patterson to fall out of the first round because of his perceived lack of learning potential. Zierlein goes even as far to say that Patterson has been doing poorly in multiple interviews throughout this process and it is only hurting his chances to be taken in the first round. Teams are just becoming too scared that he may not be able to absorb the playbook in a timely manner.
For Lotulelei, he is no stranger to the dreaded red flags. But as he has fought to bounce back from his rumored heart condition, Gil Brandt of NFL.com decided to air some grievances that set the internet abuzz this week. Brandt pointed out and referenced quite a few instances where Lotulelei took plays off and did not play as hard as he should have. Now, it is not uncommon to see this but if you couple that with his other issues, teams are starting to drop him down boards. Brandt himself has him listed as the 22nd best player, which is a big fall from being a consensus top five player for almost the whole year.
Jamar Taylor,CB, Boise State
With the never ending need for teams to stock up on shut down corners, Taylor has reaped the benefits of this pass happy NFL we see today. Taylor had a huge week at the Senior Bowl and has been blowing it out of the water in pre draft interviews. A lot of analysts are starting to predict Taylor as a first round pick and his most likely landing spot seems to be pick 30 to Atlanta. Looking at the Falcon's depth chart, it seems like a good fit.
D.J. Hayden,CB, Houston
Speaking of rising up draft boards into the first round, Hayden has worked himself into a lot of people's first round mock drafts. Hayden is such a great story, as he fought back from an injury that is fatal in an estimated 95% of the people who have had it. What you cannot doubt on the guy either is his talents on the field. He is fast and fluid, running in the low 4.4's, and he brings very good size to the game at 5'11 190 pounds. Look for Hayden to fall in picks 25-40.
Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse and David Quessenberry, OL San Jose State
Two players who are rising up boards for very similar reasons, Pugh and Quessenberry are quite the intriguing prospects Pugh gets a little overshadowed by Ryan Nassib's fanfare but the truth remains the kid can play. Pugh is versatile and could play four positions along the offensive line. With so many teams in need of help with depth, a player with such versatility and upside is a huge plus. Pugh could go as high as the end of the first round when it is said and done.
Quessenberry has used this pre draft process to really show how much he can offer to an NFL team. He is a great story of determination as he was a former walk on who earned a spot as a starter and hasn’t looked back. He had a great Senior Bowl week that sent scouts scrambling to his game film. What you will find is a player who could realistically play five positions on the offensive line and bring a blue collar attitude to the team. With his tremendous amount of upside, he could find himself as a day two selection come NFL Draft time.
Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU
"I quit counting at 10"... failed drug tests that is. That was his answer when asked how many drug tests he failed at LSU. I quit counting at six. That is the round I think he will go in, if not later.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
It took Lacy long enough to work out in front of scouts at his Pro Day last week, mainly because of an aggravated hamstring. However, Lacy's poor performance left a lot to be desired and did not help quiet the doubters that there is no first round talent at running back in this year's draft. Lacy actually ran a 40 time that was what people expected, in the 4.55 range. What threw a lot of people for a loop was wondering why he was so out of shape. Lacy actually had to cut short his workout due to fatigue. This was not the Pro Day Lacy needed and/or wanted.
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
If one prospect could go back and do it all over again, Montgomery is your man. He has admitted to taking plays off while at LSU, he has stuck his foot in his mouth during interviews, and he has performed poorly in the pre draft workouts. All in all, the once highly touted prospect is rumored to be falling out of the first three rounds! At one point in this process a lot of draft experts had Montgomery going in the first round. But the season and this process have definitely hurt his stock. It will be interesting to see how far he falls come draft time.
Stay tuned for more next week and follow me on Twitter @ScoutingBlitz for updated news and Mock Drafts.