NFL Hot Press



2018 Senior Bowl: Friday Rumor Mill

Updated Jan. 26, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl there was a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from the rumor mill earlier this week.

  • The Falcons have used their previous three first-round picks on upgrading their defense, and by the sounds of it, Atlanta could make it four in a row. According to Falcons sources, defensive tackle is in the running for their first-round pick. The Falcons could use some youth in the middle of their defensive line, and there are some good first-round tackle prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Alabama nose tackle Da'Ron Payne and Washington nose tackle Vita Vea have caught their eye. The Falcons like both of them a lot. It seemed like they had Vea higher than Payne, but felt both of them were worthy of top-20 picks. If one of them slips to Atlanta, that could be a no-brainer, but the Falcons think both will be long gone as they have the 26th pick. Some Atlanta sources think Vea could go in the top 10.

    Assuming those two are off the board, a player who Atlanta likes is Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan. While Bryan hasn't gotten a lot of media buzz, Falcon staffers say that Bryan's tape is very impressive, and they are intrigued with him. The athletic Bryan had a breakout year, and he wasn't even on the Gators' preseason watch lists given out to team scouts heading into Gainesville. Bryan showed serious speed, strength and athleticism to cause havoc behind the line of scrimmage. He could be a three-technique defensive tackle or a five-technique defensive end. Atlanta also puts a lot into taking players with good character, and Bryan has that reputation. He had a late start in football and is somewhat raw, but has a strong work ethic he inherited from his Navy Seal father.

    Atlanta has been very happy with the development and the character of Vic Beasley, Keanu Neal and Takk McKinley. Bryan could fit in that group with his character to go with impressive physical skills.

  • According to Los Angeles Chargers sources, some leftover needs from the 2017 NFL Draft could figure prominently in the Chargers' 2018 NFL Draft plans. Sources said that last year, LSU safety Jamal Adams was finalist for Los Angeles' first-round pick. The choice was made for Los Angeles as the Jets snatched up Adams one pick ahead of the Chargers. Los Angeles was thrilled to land Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, and it feels that its offense is in great shape heading into the 2018 season.

    With the offense being strong, sources with Los Angeles say that their 2018 NFL Draft class is going to be focused on the defense. The top needs the Chargers have in mind to address are safety and defensive tackle. If the right value isn't there at those positions, Los Angeles also could consider linebacker and cornerback. The only defensive position that doesn't seem to be in contention in the first round is edge rusher, as the Chargers are set with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. After their vigorous comeback after a rough start to the year, Los Angeles is optimistic about its team in 2018 and it feels adding more to their defense is their priority.

  • It is still very early in the process for the 2018 NFL Draft, but at the Senior Bowl, there was a lot of buzz that teams could be moving up high in the first round to get a quarterback prospect. The success of the trades from the Texans and the Chiefs to land talented young quarterbacks has other teams thinking that similar moves will be made this year.

    One general manager told me that he thought three quarterbacks would go in the top 10, and there could be some teams moving up for them. After that trio go off the board, there will be some quarterback-needy teams picking high in the second round that didn't land a signal-caller, and they will have to move up in front of some of the playoff teams if they want to get a quarterback. Those franchises picking high in the second round can't count on playoff teams with aging quarterbacks passing on a young signal-caller. Teams like Pittsburgh, New Orleans and the two selections with Buffalo could be options for quarterbacks. Thus, the 2018 NFL Draft has the makings to be a very exciting first round with a number of franchises moving around and making some bold moves to acquire young quarterbacks.

  • Central Florida tight end Jordan Aikens is falling into the love/hate category. Some scouts really like his receiving ability and were impressed with the skills he put on display in Wednesday's practice. Those teams had a third-round grade on Aikens. Other scouts don't like Aikens because they feel that his blocking is terrible. Some teams have a mid-to-late third-day grades on Aikens. Even though some teams don't like Aikens, he probably will be a mid-rounder as there are a plenty of teams that are in the market for a receiving tight end.

  • In the realm of stating the obvious, sources around the league have been in agreement that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft. In talking with general managers, directors of college scouting, national scouts and area scouts, not a single one has mentioned a player they thought was better than Barkley. Perhaps there is an outlier out there, but I haven't found one yet. What happens with the quarterbacks will dictate how high Barkley goes, but there is no debate on who the best player in the draft is. Barkley has that locked up, and it shouldn't change before draft day.

  • A few days ago in the Hot Press, we discussed how one general manager thought Georgia running back Sony Michel could go late in the first round. Sources from a couple of other teams also had a very high view of Michel. Those teams have Michel as the second-rated running back in the draft behind only Barkley. Michel has seen his draft stock skyrocket over his senior year. Being the second running back selected and going on Thursday night of the draft seems entirely possible.






  • 2018 Senior Bowl: Thursday Rumor Mill

    Updated Jan. 25, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl, there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league.

  • The 2017 NFL Draft and the 2018 NFL Draft have been down years at the offensive tackle position. While the lack of edge-blocking talent has been noticeable, this could be a good year for talent on the interior of the offensive line. Sources at multiple teams believe there could be four interior offensive linemen who get selected in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. The first one to come off the board will be Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson. He is among the elite players in the 2018 NFL Draft, and one area scout who covered Nelson described him like this, "He's Zach Martin on steroids." Nelson shouldn't get out of the top 10.

    Ohio State guard/center Billy Price has a good buzz about him as well. Team sources say he has gotten higher grades than former first-rounders Laken Tomlinson and Josh Garnett. Price looks like a likely pick in the back half of Round 1 during the 2018 NFL Draft.

    UTEP guard Will Hernandez has a lot of positive buzz around him. In speaking to an AFC general manager, they loved what they saw out of Hernandez during the season and was eager to see how he handled the jump in competition in Mobile. Hernandez has played well in practice, showing serious power at the point of attack. Team sources also say that Hernandez has impressed them in the interviews. He could get first-round consideration in the 2018 NFL Draft, but could be more likely to go early in Round 2.

    Iowa center James Daniels is in the same boat as Hernandez with the late first-round being possible, and the early second-round being perhaps more likely. Sources say that Daniels doesn't have a great looking body, but they love a lot of his tape. They were raving how defenders are completely beaten once Daniels gets his hands on them.

    Another factor aiding these blockers is how the free agent market has exploded with huge contracts being given to guards. Some teams won't be able to meet the veterans' prices and will feel it is better value to get a younger, cheaper, yet very talented option with one these players. All of these blockers should hear their names called in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, and all three could end up going as top-50 picks.

  • Hernandez isn't the only offensive lineman who has impressed evaluators in the team meetings. Other players who have drawn rave reviews from their interviews have been Pittsburgh tackle Brian O'Neill and Nevada center Austin Corbett.

  • In speaking with sources at a wide variety of teams, they say there hasn't been a single player whp has bombed in the interviews. Typically, there is a player, or two, who hurts himself in the meeting sessions, but that hasn't been the case this year.

  • During the fall, WalterFootball.com was the first draft site to highlight North Carolina A&T's Brandon Parker as having created a buzz in the scouting community. Parker has continued the positive momentum at the Senior Bowl. In speaking with a general manager, they have been impressed by Parker and has his stock rising. That team entered this week with a fourth-round grade on Parker but they think he could rise into Day 2. Other teams also had Parker projected to the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft with third-round potential. With his height and the frame to add weight, teams feel that Parker could develop into being starter at right tackle.

  • Some team sources like Oregon offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby as well. However, they have concerns about Crosby's height at 6-foot-4. Teams like their offensive tackles to be an inch or two taller, but Crosby has impressed evaluators with his quick feet. In a draft weak at the offensive tackle, Crosby could end up being a second-day pick.

  • Even though new Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has a defensive background, they are optimistic that Vrabel's hiring will help the growth of young franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota. Sources with the Titans say Mariota's regression with turnovers and a lot of his interceptions were related to poor route schemes from the former coaching staff. Said sources felt that receivers were bunched together too often and poor design led to a lot of Mariota's turnovers. Vrabel saw the success of Deshaun Watson last season, and the team is hopeful that Vrabel will bring similar plays to Tennessee for Mariota. That will be part of the discussion as Vrabel works toward hiring his offensive coordinator, which will be an absolutely critical hire for the organization.

  • Sources with the Titans think it is likely that the organization will move on from veteran running back DeMarco Murray this offseason. They feel it is Derrick Henry's team now and that Henry is ready to be their bell-cow back. Tennessee can save cap space by releasing Murray, and staffers feel that Murray is on the decline. The 2018 NFL Draft is strong and deep at the running back position, so the Titans could get a good value with a backup to Henry in the mid-rounds.

  • Titans sources say that they fear that defensive end Kevin Dodd was a wasted pick by general manager Jon Robinson. They like Dodd as a player, teammate and worker, but they feel that Dodd is a square peg in a round hole in Tennessee. Dodd is a 4-3 defensive end and is a misfit in the Titans' 3-4 scheme. He has one sack and 12 tackles after 17 games. Unfortunately for Dodd, new head coach Mike Vrabel has a 3-4 background and Tennessee is expected to stick with that defense.

    The slim hope for salvaging Dodd is that Vrabel and the Texans moved Jadeveon Clowney around from playing outside linebacker to defensive end a lot over the past two years because of the injuries to J.J. Watt. Clowney even lined up as an inside linebacker or defensive tackle at times. Perhaps Vrabel could resurrect Dodd by using him as an undersized five-technique 3-4 defensive end. Right now, Tennessee staffers fear that Robinson wasted the 33rd pick of the 2016 NFL Draft on Dodd.




  • 2018 Senior Bowl: Wednesday Rumor Mill

    Updated Jan. 24, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league on day three of the 2018 Senior Bowl week.

  • In speaking with a few general managers and sources at other teams, including some directors of college scouting, they all felt that there would probably be three quarterbacks who are chosen in the top 10 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft. Those three signal-callers are UCLA's Josh Rosen, USC's Sam Darnold, and Wyoming's Josh Allen. After that trio, they thought two more quarterbacks would go in the first round, with those being Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. They expect Jackson and Mayfield to be mid-to-late first-rounders.

    Of course, it is very early in the process, and prospects could get hot to rise high or cold to drop low. The combine and pre-draft interviews always push some players up, with others going down. A big market of free agent quarterbacks will also shake up the draft and which teams will be selecting signal-callers in the first round. However, at this early point in the process, it sounds like there will be three quarterbacks who get selected in the top 10 and five total in the first round.

  • The New York Jets are one of the teams that will figure heavily into the quarterback discussion. Earlier this week, we reported how the Jets plan on being active in free agency. Jets sources indicate that the quarterback need is more likely to be filled in the draft. Sources with the New York are being very tight-lipped on their thoughts about the first-round quarterbacks. That being said, after speaking with top evaluators at the team, my gut feeling is telling me that Wyoming's Josh Allen is their favorite among the quarterback prospects. General manager Mike Maccagnan has preferred big quarterbacks, and Allen certainly fits that description. New York also has ammo to move up for the quarterback they want with two second-round picks and four total selections in top 72.

    Two years ago, speaking to sources at the Jets and reading their reactions led to me nailing them taking Christian Hackenberg in the 2016 NFL Draft. Last year, I listened to them, and that led me having them pass on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. While it is still early in the process, right now I feel that Allen seems to be the Jets' guy.

  • Sources with a few teams have told me that the Senior Bowl quarterbacks prospects have interviewed well overall with impressive sessions in front of the top evaluators at each team. The quarterbacks who were specifically named as interviewing well were Josh Allen, Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk and Tanner Lee. A few team sources said that Rudolph is very smart. Allen is said to be a great kid as well. Baker Mayfield wasn't included in that feedback because of his late arrival to Senior Bowl. Teams are eager to see how the underclassmen quarterbacks interview at the combine in comparison to the strong group at the Senior Bowl.

  • The Redskins are another team that could be aggressive to move up for a quarterback, assuming they don't re-sign Kirk Cousins or acquire another veteran starter. If Washington misses out on the quarterbacks or doesn't need to take one, the Redskins have a variety of options to consider in the first round. The Redskins could use more defensive line help next to impressive rookie Jonathan Allen. Alabama nose tackle Da'Ron Payne is a favorite of sources with Washington, and they love the idea of reuniting Payne and Allen. The team is not as high on Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.

    Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is another favorite of Redskins' sources, but they don't believe Fitzpatrick will get to their pick (though they thought the same thing about Jonathan Allen last year). The Redskins have high hopes for second-year safety Montae Nicholson and think he could turn into an excellent pro. D.J. Swearinger also played well for Washington, so safety isn't a critical need for Washington.

    Offensively, the Redskins would like to add more talent at wide receiver and running back this offseason. They also are planning on adding a guard in free agency or the draft.

    The quarterback position is the top priority, but if the Redskins aren't taking a signal-caller, it sounds like the defensive front seven is the next priority.

  • While high up in the Arizona Cardinals' front office, Jason Licht was part of a front office that took a guard with the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Now, as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Licht could be using the seventh-overall pick five years later on a guard in Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson. In my Monday Morning Draft column at the conclusion of Week 3 last fall, I revealed how sources with the Bucs already had taken a huge liking to Nelson. As the season played out, Tampa Bay did not have an adequate running game or pass protection for Jameis Winston. Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter need a big season out of Winston to maintain their positions beyond this season.

    Guard is a real need for Tampa Bay, and Nelson is a plug-and-play starter who will immediately improve the Buccaneers' rushing offense and protection for Winston. The Buccaneers would love it if Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb fell to their pick, but Tampa Bay believes that both will be long gone when the team is on the clock. Still, sources with the Buccaneers believe that Nelson could become the best guard in the NFL in short order and has Hall of Fame potential. While taking a guard isn't the sexiest of picks, Nelson could be a perfect fit for Tampa Bay.




  • 2018 Senior Bowl: Tuesday Rumor Mill

    Updated Jan. 23, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league on day two of the 2018 Senior Bowl week.

  • An NFL general manager of an NFL team in the market for a quarterback thinks that Wyoming signal-caller Josh Allen could explode as a prospect at the combine. That general manager thinks that Allen is going to have a tremendous performance, showing off his powerful arm, athleticism and size. The general manager of a different team, which is picking in the top 10 and also is in the quarterback market, said their team is very eager to interview Allen. They are interested in learning about his leadership as it relates to the NFL, but league sources say that Allen is a great kid and they think he will interview well. Thus, Allen could end up acing the interviews, and teams already believe that he is going to shine at the workouts.

  • Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch is a first-round signal-caller from a couple of years ago who has a similar skill set to Allen. It will be interesting to see if Lynch becomes available this offseason. Sources with Denver tell me that Lynch was not popular in the locker room and obviously has underwhelmed to the point that the Broncos are aggressively scouting the top 2018 quarterbacks while also considering the veteran market for a new starter. In speaking to Denver sources and those at other teams, many are expecting the Broncos to make a huge run at acquiring Kirk Cousins this offseason. If Denver lands Cousins, Lynch could be available in a trade and will have to fight for a roster spot.

  • Star cornerback Aqib Talib was another player who had locker room issues in Denver last year. Talib spent lots of time complaining about safety T.J. Ward being cut in the preseason. Chris Harris joined Talib in voicing that issue constantly and it never went away with those defensive backs causing turmoil about the move all the way through the end of the season. Sources say the Broncos will probably shop Talib this offseason, and if they don't find a trade partner, they might move on from Talib and release him.

  • One prospect whose stock is on the decline is Boston College defensive end Harold Landry. Multiple teams sources told me that Landry belongs on the second day of the draft. They said that his senior-year tape was not impressive. Landry had a big drop in his pass-rush production and had some ugly games in run defense.

    Sources say that Landry is smaller than his listed numbers of 6-foot-3, 250-pounds. They say he is an inch or two shorter and weighs in the 240s, which makes him more of a linebacker body type for the NFL. Teams that run a 4-3 defense have concerns about Landry holding up on the edge, as he is very undersized to be a base end. Multiple team sources see Landry as a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

  • The Cleveland Browns have made some dubious decisions over the past few years, including passing on franchise quarterbacks of Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. The Browns eschewed each of those quarterbacks in trades down to get more picks for the draft in the next year. Teams across the league love having a lot of early-round selections, however Cleveland has had so many that they could be setting themselves up for a tough situation in a few years.

    One NFC general manager said if all of their first-round picks pan out, thus far five selections over 2017 and 2018, the Browns could be in a tough situation to get all of them extended when they come to the end of their contracts. They could find themselves in a position having a hard time fitting all of those big contracts into a 2-year span and may have to let some leave. Of course, that is a good problem to have, but having a handful of big contracts due all at the same time is one of the flaws of the Browns' strategy.




  • 2018 Senior Bowl: Monday Rumor Mill

    Updated Jan. 22, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league on day one of the 2018 Senior Bowl week.

  • A lot has been made about the concerns of poor intangibles with UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. Those issues remain on the minds of talent evaluators. I spoke with two general managers of teams that are in the market for a franchise quarterback, and both of them said that Rosen's intangibles are still a major concern after reading the reports from area scouts. They feel because of his silver spoon upbringing, he doesn't relate well to all segments of an NFL locker room, and they think the desired leadership traits could be lacking with Rosen. Former teammates of Rosen who are in the NFL have been asked by teams about him, and they say he is atypical and a different kind of guy. Team sources also say that Rosen has a reputation for being a partier. He had a hot tub in his room and some team sources are worried about party substances.

    Party substances were a known and minor concern with Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott in past years. Those negatives didn't keep either from going in the top five. That trend should be extended with Rosen. However, sources are more concerned about it with him because he is a quarterback who is supposed to be the team leader and face of a franchise. Thus, there is a higher standard of expectations. Rosen is going to get a lot of questions on his leadership, teammate relationships, and off-the-field habits over the next few months, starting with his interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine.

  • One of those general managers whose team is in the market for a franchise quarterback said that the Cleveland Browns could have a trade market for quarterback DeShone Kizer. The new Browns' front office, led by general manager John Dorsey, vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, and assistant general manager Eliot Wolf, are expected to take a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A general manager told me that he would give up a fourth-round pick for Kizer and thinks he has plenty of untapped potential to develop.

  • Georgia running back Sony Michel was one of the prospects who really helped himself late in the 2017 season. Michel showed his big-play ability with speed to break off some long runs that led to some huge performances to help the Bulldogs make it to the National Championship. In speaking to a general manager who needs a new starting running back, he felt that Michel wouldn't make it to their second-round pick. He felt that Michel could go late in the first round after his tremendous finish to the season. If he does slip to the second round, they thought that Michel wouldn't make it to their pick although he is hoping he does because he would be a great fit in their offense. Michel has a lot of positive momentum, and he probably will hear his name called in the top 45 picks of the draft.

  • A year ago, the New York Jets started a giant purge of expensive veterans from their roster, and the flipping of the roster was so dramatic that many media members and fans were alleging that the Jets were tanking the 2017 season to get a top quarterback prospect. That wasn't the case, as general manager Mike Maccagnan was actually making the roster better by going with younger, home-grown talents and saving the team a ton of cap space.

    This year, team sources say that the Jets could be active in free agency, as they will have good amount of cap space to work with. Like with every move under Maccagnan, the signings will be very calculated, and New York won't go on a foolish or wild spending spree. The Jets will look to re-sign tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, as New York is very proud of the growth that Seferian-Jenkins has undergone since coming to the Jets. New York also has some interest in bringing back cornerback Morris Claiborne. The free agents New York is expected to target are younger players with upside who fit into their long-term plans.

  • Over the past few years, New Orleans has been one of the top drafting teams in the NFL. They had an excellent 2017 NFL Draft, locking up a No. 1 cornerback in Marshon Lattimore, a potentially special offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, and one of the best young running backs in the NFL in Alvin Kamara. The Saints' 2016 draft class was strong as well, and after a few good classes, sources with New Orleans say they feel they are in preferred position to go best player available. Outside of running back and the offensive line, Saints sources feel they could address a variety of positions. Linebacker, defensive line, cornerback, and even wide receiver could be in play for the Saints. New Orleans would like to add another receiving threat to go with Michael Thomas and give them another option if Thomas were to get injured. That being said, it sounds like the best defensive prospect available except a safety is likely to be the Saints' first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.




  • Off-the-Field Issues Could Cause Key to Slide

    Updated Jan. 11, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    Weeks ago here in the Hot Press, we surveyed sources from around the league on who were the elite talents in the 2018 NFL Draft. One of the names chosen by every evaluator was LSU defensive end Arden Key. Similar to some other great recent edge rushers like Jadeveon Clowney, Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett, Key's numbers were down as a junior compared to his sophomore season for a variety of reasons, including injury and extra blocking attention. Those three NFL edge rushers still were all top-three picks despite the decline in production. Key also is viewed as a special athletic talent like them, but another issue could cause Key to slide in the 2018 NFL Draft and that is off-the-field concerns.

    Sources from a few NFL teams said the off-the-field concerns are significant enough to have a big impact on Key's draft stock. Key took a leave of absence from the LSU program in the spring of 2017, and that may be related to the off-the-field issues. Evaluators at multiple franchises brought up off-the-field concerns independently of each other. They all said that the background check on Key is very important, and how he interviews with teams during the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft will be critical. If the interviews go well, Key could be a high first-rounder. If they don't, sources say his slide could be substantial.

    After shoulder surgery prior to the 2017 season, Key was overweight and had to work himself back into playing shape after missing a few games to open the season. Therefore, his weight and health will also be watched closely by teams when he reports to the NFL Scouting Combine. Key is a wild card in the 2018 NFL Draft, and teams are going to be putting a lot of emphasis on how he interviews prior to the draft. Right now, it sounds like the off-the-field issues could cause Key to slide.


    Cornerback Emerging as a Strength for the 2018 NFL Draft

    Updated Jan. 8, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    In every NFL Draft, there are some positions that are especially strong with good values for NFL teams extending into the second and third days. Team sources, based on some recent declarations for the 2018 NFL Draft, say that cornerback has emerged as a position of strength and will yield some good values for teams.

    In speaking to sources at multiple teams, they see some good values on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft. Iowa's Joshua Jackson, Ohio State's Denzel Ward, Auburn's Carlton Davis, LSU's Donte Jackson and Central Florida's Mike Hughes were all named as players possessing first-round potential. As one can expect, there was a big variety in that group, with some team sources thinking Davis, Jackson or Hughes didn't belong in the first round, while others thought they could go on the opening night of the 2018 NFL Draft. Some members of that group of corners might slip to Day 2, but even after them, there are a number of prospects who could be selected on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    "There is some impressive depth into the second and third day of the draft," said a NFC director of college scouting. "J.C. Jackson - Maryland -, Isaiah Oliver - Colorado -, Anthony Averett - Alabama - are all second-day guys with starting potential. Duke Dawson could be a later Day 2 pick. Nick Nelson - Wisconsin - could get pushed into Day 2. There are varying opinions on him. Adonis Alexander could be in that group, but I'm hearing he's going to return to [Virginia Tech] next year. There also could be some workout warriors that move themselves up. Christian Campbell - Penn State - could work out well and push himself into Day 2. His timed speed is really fast, and word is he will work out really well. He might be this year's Shaq Griffin." In last year's draft, there was a run on defensive backs, with many safeties and cornerbacks coming off the board in the second and third round. That pattern could repeat itself in the 2018 NFL Draft given the deep and talented group of second-day quality corners.


    NFL Teams Hear Darnold and Jackson Inclined to Return to School

    Updated Jan. 3, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    As the deadline approaches for underclassmen to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, many pro prospects are weighing the risk and reward aspects of jumping to the professional ranks. Two prospects who are facing a tough decision are USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. For weeks and months, scouts have been saying that Darnold would prefer to return to USC for 2018. Jackson's plans and feelings have been more of an unknown. As detailed by a few team sources, NFL teams are hearing that both have an inclination to return to school for next year.

    On Wednesday, a NFC director of college scouting said this about what he has heard about Darnold and Jackson: "I've been told they both would prefer to return [to school] and are weighing the business odds more than anything."

    Darnold has a recent USC example with Matt Barkley who could give him pause on going back to school. Barkley could have been a high first-rounder in the 2012 NFL Draft before deciding to return for another season. That year didn't go well, and Barkley fell to the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After four seasons, he has been on four different teams while quickly becoming a journeyman backup quarterback. Darnold has a better skill set than Barkley, but the business decision to return to USC ended up backfiring on Barkley, and that same decision is something that Darnold is pondering.

    Jackson is an interesting prospect as team sources across the league are higher on him and his NFL potential than how he is being portrayed in the media. One high-ranking AFC personnel executive had this to say about the suggestion that Jackson should switch positions and isn't viewed as a high quarterback prospect, "It's unfortunate, much like [Deshaun] Watson. Lamar's the most dynamic player in the draft."

    Scouts do feel that Jackson needs to add weight for the NFL and improve his accuracy. The dual-threat quarterback also has to consider the injury risk of returning to school and how that could impact where he goes in the 2019 NFL Draft.

    As part of the business decision on whether to go or not go pro, Darnold and Jackson could look to purchase insurance policies if they end up not going high in the 2019 NFL Draft. A lot is up in the air as players can change their minds and they get a lot of pressure from family members, coaches, and agents this time of year. Days after their 2017 seasons ended, NFL teams are hearing that Darnold and Jackson would prefer to return to school for next year.


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