NFL Draft Rumorville: Manti Te'o Back In The First Round
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.