NFL Hot Press



NFL Team Executives Pushing 10-Round Draft, Canadian Developmental League

Updated Feb. 28, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the topics that gets brought up from time to time from speaking to executives, presidents, general managers, and high ranking administrators of NFL teams, is how the NFL is the only major sports league in America that does not have its own developmental league. Executives feel that the NFL could really use a league to let back-end players play and develop to give them a better a shot at having a pro career. The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has increased the desire for a developmental league because of the reduction in spring OTA and training camp practices, plus the curbing back of the hitting going on in practice. Team executives plan on continuing to discuss partnering with the Canadian Football League to become the minor leagues for the NFL. Also, some league executives want to expand the NFL Draft back to 10 rounds.

In speaking to coaches and scouts from the Canadian league, they are open to the idea of essentially being the minor leagues of the NFL. As one team president suggested, a few NFL teams could join together to assign some of their players to a Canadian team. Those players would be under contract with their NFL team, but would play in Canada to get more practice and game reps. Team executives say the fruits of a developmental league are obvious. Players like Kurt Warner, Adam Vinatieri Jake Delhomme, and Brad Johnson may have never had NFL careers if it weren't for developing in NFL Europe. Thus, team sources think the time is right to start a partnership with Canadian football to be the developmental farm system for the NFL.

Some executives also want to expand the draft to 10 rounds. The draft used to be 12 rounds long before being shortened to seven rounds in 1993. Team sources across the league say that every year, there are a plethora of draft-able players who fall undrafted. They feel enough talent is produced each year to fill out 10 rounds of players worthy of being selected.

Standing in the way of the developmental league with Canada and expanding the draft is NFL owners. They don't see the need to expand the draft and have more players under contract but playing in Canada. However, sources say these topics aren't going away, and they could be discussed and pushed for league executives in the next CBA.






Buccaneers Open to Trading Down

Updated Feb. 28, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

This is a critical offseason for Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter. Young franchise quarterback Jameis Winston is entering his fourth year, and this is the fifth offseason that Licht has had to build Tampa Bay into a winner. There were big expectations in 2017, but the Buccaneers had a disappointing season, going 5-11 and being the only team in the NFC South not to make the playoffs. Tampa Bay currently has the longest streak of missing the postseason in the NFC, as they haven't earned a playoff spot since 2007.

On the positive side, the Buccaneers hold the seventh-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. In a class with five potential first-rounders at quarterback and plenty of teams in the quarterback market, Tampa Bay is in a good position to field offers in a possible trade down. In speaking to sources with the Bucs, trading down is definitely on the table and something they would strongly consider.

The Buccaneers enter the offseason with a number of needs to address. They could use more pass rush, as they were last in the NFL in sacks last year. Adding more secondary talent is also needed to address their vulnerable pass defense. On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay could use more help on their offensive line and will need to add more talent at running back after moving on from Doug Martin. With a number of needs to address, it makes sense for the Buccaneers to move down in the draft and add more picks to help fill holes on their roster. Sources say they are all ears and open to a variety of possibilities, including draft picks or veterans in a move down. By the sounds of it, Tampa Bay is definitely open for business and happy to listen.

A year ago, the Los Angeles Rams were a similar situation with a general manager on the hot seat and a young quarterback. Los Angeles was able to nail its offseason with an excellent haul of free agents and draft picks who quickly contributed to Los Angeles ending the longest playoff drought in the NFC. If the Buccaneers nail their free agency signings and draft picks, they have enough talent in place to potentially end their playoff drought next year as well.




Survey of Teams Grade Marcus Davenport as a Late First-Round Pick

Updated Feb. 28, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Every year in the NFL Draft, there are some small-school prospects who come out of nowhere to end up being highly sought-after players. This year, Marcus Davenport will keep that tradition alive, as the UTSA defensive end has gotten a lot of media acclaim with many mock drafts projecting him to be top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Helping Davenport to rise is the 2018 draft class being weak at defensive end and lacking talent for edge rushers.

At the NFL scouting combine, I caught up with sources from eight different teams to get their projection of Davenport. None of those eight teams had graded him as a top-10 pick. The grades for Davenport ranged from the middle of the first to late in the first round.

  • A NFC general manager, "We have him around middle of the first."

  • An AFC general manager, "I see him going late first. Top 10 would surprise me."

  • An AFC national scout, "We have him late one. Plays too high, has tightness in lower to be elite."

  • An NFC national scout, "I don't see him going that high. Late one."

  • An AFC director of college scouting, "We graded him late first/early second. Good run defender. His pass rush needs work. He's raw as hell."

  • A national scout from a AFC playoff team said he didn't have Davenport in his territory but believed he would end up being a mid-to-late first.

  • A NFC southeast scout, "We have him in the late one to early second range. I don't know where top-10 talk came from. I haven't heard from any guys that saw him that high. Too much of a developmental guy in so many aspects, and he's at a position with a high bust rate. He's strictly an edge guy also. He has questionable sub-package value, which is a killer in today's game. Length is a big asset and he has impressive flashes."

  • A NFC general manager said something similar but with a stipulation, "I don't think he's top 10 right now. Workouts change a lot of things though."

    A few of the team sources said they thought that Davenport could rise higher into the first round as that last NFC general manager stated. The 6-foot-5, 259-pounder is a good athlete with the size, strength and speed that should impress during the pre-draft workouts. However, after surveying a good sample of teams, for Davenport to become a top-10 pick, he is going to need a huge performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and in the workouts to follow.




  • Injured Prospects Who Will Miss the Combine Workouts

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

    Scouting departments across the NFL have been meeting to go over players in preparation for the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine over the past few weeks. Every year, there are some draft prospects who are unable to participate in the field workouts because of injury. According to sources from a variety of teams, this is a list of players those team sources say they have heard won't be participating in the combine because of injury:   

    • Arkansas center/guard Frank Ragnow
    • Florida safety Marcell Harris
    • Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy
    • Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor

    Ejiofor missing the combine workout because of a torn labrum was first reported by Draft Analysts' Tony Pauline. Ragnow had his senior season cut short because of an ankle injury that also cost him participating in the Senior Bowl. Harris was unable to play in 2017 after tearing an Achilles last summer. Cichy also missed the 2017 season after tearing an ACL. Team sources say they are hearing those four players won't be able to work out in Indianapolis. 




    Some See Goedert as Mid-Rounder

    Updated Feb. 20, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    The 2017 NFL Draft was a banner year at the tight end position, with three being selected in the first round and two more going in the top half of the second round. The 2018 NFL Draft is not close to as strong at the tight end position, but one tight end who has received some media praise is South Dakota State's Dallas Goedert. There have been some mock drafts that have Goedert going in the first round and rate him as the top tight end in the draft class. However after speaking to sources from a handful of teams, none of them had Goedert graded in Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    The highest grade among those five teams was a second-rounder. Two teams had him graded in the third round, and two teams had a high fourth-round grade on him. The senior amassed 72 receptions for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017. He put up even better production as a junior with 92 receptions for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    "[Goedert]'s not a great route-runner and wasn't a separation guy," said a NFC director of college scouting. "He is more possessional and doesn't win with suddenness or quickness. He had lots of drops, but you counter that with some spectacular catches. They threw him a million balls, so some drops are going to happen. We just don't see him as a special mismatch weapon." A few of the team sources also mentioned that there were injury concerns with Goedert and his combine medical exam was going to be important. If his medical profile isn't too alarming, Goedert appears likely to be a second-day pick in a weak year at the tight end position, with plenty of teams across the league hoping to add young talent at the position.




    Christian Getting Day 2 Grades for the 2018 NFL Draft

    Updated Feb. 13, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    Louisville left tackle Christian was not expected to enter the 2018 NFL Draft, and evaluators feel that he should have returned to school to improve before going pro. That being said, there are sources who feel that Christian possesses a good physical skill set with big upside. They say he has lots of tools to work with and impressive athletic ability for a 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle. They also note his excellent quickness, agility and athleticism. Christian isn't a first-rounder because he gives up some bad pressures. He is slow to redirect back to the inside, counter inside moves, and too often oversets to the outside.

    One college scouting director said Christian has terrible technique, is really raw, and needs a lot of work. He has the skill set, however, to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. They compared Christian to Duane Brown coming out of Virginia Tech in 2008. Brown was a converted tight end who was still learning to play left tackle and had rough start to his pro career before developing into a Pro Bowler and franchise left tackle.

    Sources say that Christian is getting grades for the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, and they believe that after a year or two of development, Christian could turn into a good starting left tackle in the NFL.


    Survey of Teams Projects Maurice Hurst to Day 2

    Updated Feb. 5, 2018
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

    A plethora of mock drafts come out each January as draft season opens around the league. There can be some well-known and expected prospects going high along with some surprising names in the first round. One player who has been included in Round 1 of some mock drafts is Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst. Hurst is an undersized, but fast, defensive lineman who had a quality 2017 season. However in speaking to sources at six different teams, none of them had a first-round grade on Hurst.

    A couple of team sources said that Hurst has a shot at going in Round 1 because there aren't 32 prospects with first-round grades. Therefore, some players with grades for Round 2 will end up getting selected on Thursday night of the 2018 NFL Draft. A couple of team sources thought Hurst shouldn't go in the first round, but still might sneak in late in Round 1. Sources from four other teams thought he would, and should, go on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    One NFC general manager in the market for defensive line help said this about Hurst, "We graded him in the bottom half of the second [round], and he could go in the third."

    Slipping to the third round would be a surprise considering most projections have Hurst as a first- or second-rounder. However, Hurst is listed at 6-foot-2, 282 pounds, and it will be interesting to see what his real measurements are, because many schools, including Michigan, inflate those numbers. For example, Hurst's teammate linebacker Mike McCray was listed at 6-foot-4, but at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, McCray checked in at 6-foot-1.

    Team sources say that they have concerns about Hurst holding up against the run in the NFL, and he needs to go to the right scheme to maximize his strengths and help cover up his weaknesses. While Hurst has an outside shot at being a first-round pick, the consensus with teams is projecting him to the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft.


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