Welcome back to the third edition of the 2013 NFL Draft Rumorville series.
Below is the latest rumors and buzz from March 14th through the 22nd.
- I would be remised if I did not start this section off with writing on the epic disappointment of Jarvis Jones’ Georgia pro day performance. Jones chose not to work out at the Combine, a strategy that a lot of top end players will choose to do. In most cases it is not usually a problem because those specific prospects know that when there pro day comes around they will have elite performances and give the scouts exactly what they came to see. However, Jones was not that lucky. NFL Network's Mike Mayock was highly critical of the outside linebacker's numbers as were a lot of scout’s apparently. Jones ran his forty yard dash in 4.92 seconds and had a vertical jump of 30.5 inches. He completed 20 repetitions of 225 pounds in his bench press performance. All of these numbers are in the middle of the pack compared to all the other linebackers in this draft. You cannot argue his on the field production, as he has a lot of great film from his career. But what you can argue is that he lacks some explosive athleticism and if you couple that with his history of medical red flags, it is certainly enough to get him falling down draft boards come April 25th.
- One player who is being dissected more than most is Texas A&M pass rusher Damontre Moore. Moore had an extremely ugly Combine that we have reported about before, and followed that up with a lackluster pro day, even though he did improve his numbers somewhat. Nobody can argue Moore's production on the field and most people that talk to the guy rave about his football IQ and his on the field performance. What leaves a lot to be desired is his off the field behaviors and what some scouts are speculating he will do once he gets into the NFL lifestyle. Moore has some paltry strength and weight room numbers that have turned scouts off, but recently a lot of internet buzz is surrounding his potential off the field problems. Moore has a June 2011 arrest for marijuana possession and a perceived liking for the party life off the field. All of this and his poor combine are leading some scouts to be very skeptical of how he will handle the NFL lifestyle and the riches and indulgences that come with it. Moore has all world talent as a pass rusher, but his off the field baggage is starting to grow and his stock has taken a huge hit since the end of the season.
-Most of this segment of Rumorville talks about players who have had recent problems with medical ailments or with an off the field incident. The story of DJ Hayden, Houston cornerback and recent draft stock riser has to fall under this as well. Hayden had his pro day recently and turned some heads with a great 40 time in the mid 4.3's and great looking athleticism and fluid movements. Hayden impressed scouts and analysts so much in his workout, almost every news outlet was reporting on how high he could go. The story of Hayden's rise is a great one, as he was a heralded player before he suffered a gruesome injury during the season. He was in practice and suffered a ruptured vessel that carries blood to the heart. Doctors said that the injury was usually 95% fatal. Hayden was lucky to be alive. Rumors are abound that teams are checking Hayden's heart situation extremely close and it certainly is a red flag to some teams out there. But, Hayden is one of the best ball hawking corners in this draft and has some excellent film to back up his game. Mike Mayock reported that he could sneak himself into the first round if medically cleared. That is a far cry from where he was just recently.
- One player who has received some hits to his game lately are LSU's Barkevious Mingo. Mingo is widely viewed as one of the best outside linebackers in this draft and a player who can get to the quarterback. However, some scouts and teams are putting a much lower grade on the player based on his lack of production and body frame concerns that are evident. Mingo had a much better 2011 season than 2012 and has to answer for that, especially since his LSU line mates were so good that it is not like Mingo was double teamed all year. Once viewed as a lock to go in the top 10, it will be interesting to see if Mingo falls during the first round come Draft day.
Draft Pick Buzz and Rumors
- With Brian Urlacher being run out of Chicago this past week, the speculation of how the Bears will replace him has starter. One name that has come up repeatedly over the last few days is Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. Not only do the Bears need a major improvement in the middle of their defense, but most NFL teams who needed upgrades at that position did not attack free agency with the type of aggression you would think. The Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and Baltimore Ravens all left major holes at the middle linebacker position and all could be potential suitors of Te'o come April in the first round. Te'o might gave had a bad winter but he definitely is back into the mix of being one of the more highly courted players at his position. You can make an argument that teams will also put a premium on backers such as LSU's Kevin Minter and Georgia's Alec Ogletree in the first round as well.
-The buzz continues around what the Kansas City Chiefs are going to do with the number one pick. With the recent franchise tag placed on Brandon Albert and his public discourse for being moved to the right tackle position going forward, some popular theories are that he could be traded. SI.com’s Peter King and ESPN’s John Clayton have both reported that the Chiefs are going to entertain offers for Albert and it is reported that the Chiefs would accept a second round pick in return. If this situation plays out with a trade, it would clear the way for Luke Joeckel or Eric Fischer to be taken to fill the need of left tackle and the Chiefs could sign one of the remaining free agent right tackles.
What cannot be forgotten about Fisher and Joeckel is that both players are such hot commodities right now that it is almost certain that they both will be gone by pick seven to the Arizona Cardinals. Such a high premium is paid on protecting the passer and these two guys are at the top of their game. Another name who has made some money in this draft is Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, widely viewed as the third best left tackle in this draft. However, with the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Arizona, San Diego Chargers, and Miami Dolphins all in need of a major upgrade at tackle, expect all three of these guys to be gone by pick 12.
- A player who is no doubt affected by the Wes Welker-Danny Amendola free agency signings is West Virginia's Tavon Austin. Austin is heavily being touted as the best slot receiver in this draft and has so much explosiveness to add to a team. The Rams losing Amendola is huge and it further puts the maturation process of Sam Bradford in a bind with the current set of receivers on the Ram's roster. With the 16th pick in this year's first round, I find it hard to believe that the Rams won’t take a shot at Austin. He is a very low risk, even for a small player in the NFL. Austin has garnered rave reviews and it has been reported that he never once missed a practice in all his four years at West Virginia. Austin is a highly productive player who will no doubt hear his named called early in the first round. Let’s hope for the Rams sake it is not in picks 1-15.
-Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner's physical style and great Combine performance have vaulted him into the top tier of NFL prospects. How high he goes has seen much debate over the last few days. One scenario that is gaining a lot of leverage is that Milliner could hear his name called as the number two overall selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars. New Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley comes from the Seattle Seahawks where he used physical and athletic corner play as a cornerstone for an elite defense. Milliner fits the bill of Bradley's liking to the position and it is going to be extremely interesting to see if he pulls the trigger on Milliner at pick two. The Jaguars have a huge hole to fill at the position, as with plenty of other needs as well. Either way, Milliner will not get past pick 6 in the Draft with so many teams in need of a corner upgrade.
- With all the recent signings that the Philadelphia Eagles have brought in, the speculation as to what they are going to do with the pick at number four overall is wide open. The Eagles have addressed safety, outside linebacker, cornerback, defensive line, and H back concerns with a slew of free agents. All of those positions and the absence of signing an offensive lineman are what lead most analysts to believe that the Eagles will pull the trigger on one of the elite tackle prospects with that early pick. Possibly finding themselves taking Fisher from Central Michigan if he falls that far.
- Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, added a lot of fuel to the quarterback class's draft stock fire by saying that they lacked a "wow factor" compared to other groups he has seen. He has put his stamp of approval on current starter Drew Stanton and has bashed reports that he will be taking a quarterback with the seventh overall pick. It will be interesting to see if Arians is just blowing smoke or if he is being real about the quarterback market, because it has been widely reported that Arians has interest in NC State's Mike Glennon as a fit in his vertical offense, albeit with a second or third round pick.
- I could use an entire article on what has been happening with Geno Smith this past week, but I will try to summarize the best way I can. We will start at the top; the Kansas City Chiefs will not be taking Geno Smith. So where does he go? The speculation has to start at number two to Jacksonville. Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell both went down to West Virginia's pro day to see the quarterback in action. The crew also included the Jaguar’s offensive coordinator and senior vice president of football operations. The Jaguars have done their due diligence on Smith and have met and viewed the prospect many times, enough of an interest that the Jaguars could have a genuine interest in taking Smith number two overall.
On the other hand, if the Jaguars decide that they are set with Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, where does Smith fall to? One point of interest that you should know is that with the fourth pick the Eagles could have an interest in Smith. Reason to believe so is that owner Jeffrey Lurie visited Geno Smith personally and has not done that since he went to see prospect Donovan McNabb all the way back in 1999. So there could be something to this in the long run.
It is highly unlikely that the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and now the Arizona Cardinals (after what Bruce Arians said about the QB class) will be taking a signal caller in the first round. So all signs point to Geno Smith being drafted eight overall to the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are in desperate need of a quarterback, especially after releasing the embattled starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer to Doug Marrone's problems in Buffalo and a change is needed. It is worth noting that Buffalo is using one of their 30 pre draft visits on Smith but the question remains, will they be safe at pick eight? I think that we will see a trade from the Bills and they will be moving up to grab Smith, possibly to number three with Oakland or number four to Philadelphia. More to come on this story.
Pro Day Wrap Up
- According to Jeff Risdon of Detrointlionsdraft.com, the New England Patriots had a scout follow Texas A&M wide receiver and combine stud Ryan Swope around for his entire workout. Risdon had an off the record interview with a scout of an NFL team who commented that it was as if the Patriot’s scout had a specific assignment of watching Swope and no other player was on his radar. With the loss of Wes Welker, it will be fun to see how high the Patriots take a slot receiver like Swope in the draft.
-Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd had an excellent pro day and assured him of a top five pick with a great workout that the Oakland Raider's organization was certainly watching with great interest. Watch for Floyd to land at number three to Oakland.
-Sleeper watch on Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet. He is a short runner with great strength as he stands 5'9 and benches 20 reps of 225 pounds. He by all accounts had a great pro day and could be a middle ground steal for a team in need of a work horse runner. He ran at his pro day and was timed in the mid 4.4 to 4.5 range.
-Rice tight end Vance McDonald drew a huge crowd to his pro day as 30 teams were represented to see the athletic prospect. McDonald has solid numbers in the forty yard dash and jumps but also adds great strength as he benched 31 reps of 225 pounds. McDonald adds a lot as a blocker and could see himself creep into the early part of the second round.
- Tank Carradine of Florida State was invited to the NFL Draft which is a strong indicator of how high the defensive end might go. Scouts are raving about his potential and if he wasn’t coming off of an ACL tear he would probably be in the top 10. However, he will hold his own pro day on April 20th but he has shown great strength already with benching 32 reps at 225 pounds at the FSU pro day and weighing in at 276 pounds on his 6'4 frame. Carradine could hear his name called in the first round come April 25th.
- Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei had great pro days and have solidified themselves as prospects at the top of their position group. Both players used great workouts this past week to maintain their early to mid first round grades.
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