NFL Hot Press



2016 NFL Draft Eve Rumor Mill Tidbits

Updated April 27, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



With the 2016 NFL Draft hours away, here are some rumor mill tidbits I've picked up from speaking with team sources.

  • The Redskins had to shake up their draft plans after signing Josh Norman last week. From what I hear, the Redskins are now zeroing in on a player from Alabama with cornerback no longer being a need. They have a trio of Crimson Tide standouts who are finalists for their pick. Those players are defensive tackle Jarran Reed, defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, and center Ryan Kelly. Of the defensive linemen, it sounds like Reed is rated higher, but the team feels Robinson offers more versatility. Kelly would finish off their offensive line and give Washington one of the best young offensive lines in the NFL.

  • From what I'm hearing, the Jaguars' Plan A in the first round is Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. If Bosa is off the board, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is the likely Plan B. Even if they land Bosa in the first round, the Jaguars could target more pass rush on Day 2. If Noah Spence gets to their second-round pick, I think the Jaguars will double up on edge rushers to give them a talented young trio including 2015's third-overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. The 2016 draft should be heavy on defensive players for Jacksonville.

  • A lot of mock drafts have projected the Buffalo Bills to take Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. In speaking with sources, the Bills have ruled out Nkemdiche, and he isn't a finalist for their first-round pick. Buffalo is keying in on a defender for the front seven in the first round. The priority to add more defensive talent will carry over into the second night as well.

  • I don't have it definitely from sources, but I get the impression the Titans are seriously interested in trading up in the first round. If Laremy Tunsil falls, that could motivate Tennessee to give up some of the second-day picks they acquired in their trade with the Rams.

  • Cal quarterback Jared Goff and North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz share the same agent from Rep 1 sports. In conversations with NFL teams, they've said some interesting things about their clients. Regarding Goff, they've told teams that he is a laid back California kid and wouldn't be a good fit for the pressure of landing with a team like Cleveland, or one of the New York teams. Thus, Los Angeles is perfect for Goff. They've also told NFL teams that Wentz is better suited to handle a pressurized situation of some teams on the East Coast like Philadelphia, Cleveland, or one of the New York teams.

  • Some teams in the NFL think that there was serious collusion going on with the Rams and Eagles. Other teams are certain that the Eagles were tipped off by the Rams on whom Los Angeles planned on taking with the first pick. Without that knowledge, Philadelphia wouldn't have made its trade with Cleveland to get up for the second-overall pick. The two teams also did the Sam Bradford-Nick Foles trade last year, so the working relationship is there between the two front offices. Teams think that the Rams-Eagles had some collusion, the NFL's version of insider trading, with information that was withheld from others playing by the rules.

    The league is trying to crack down on teams breaking rules as three teams have had draft picks taken from this year for breaking league rules: the Patriots, Falcons, and Chiefs. Don't be surprised if some teams are urging the league to look into what has gone on in the lead-up to the draft regarding the Rams and Eagles with information exchanged relating to their trades to the top of the draft.

    Comment on this story here.


    Broncos, Browns Have Interest in Trading Up from 31, 32

    Updated April 23, 2016
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    All of the attention regarding the Cleveland Browns has been on whether they would take a quarterback with the eighth-overall pick, or if they'd select someone like Ronnie Stanley or Ezekiel Elliott instead. However, in speaking to sources, the Browns and Denver Broncos have been speaking to teams to feel out potential deals to trade up from their picks at 31 (Denver) and 32 (Cleveland). One team that both teams have had discussions with is the Green Bay Packers, who have the 27th-overall selection.

    An intriguing bonus for the Browns moving back into the opening round from the initial selection of the second frame is the fifth-year option that comes with rookie contracts of first-round picks. It isn't expensive to move up just a few spots, and that extra season of a cheap rookie contract with a player in their prime years is very valuable, especially if the player is a quarterback. If the Browns pass on a quarterback with the No. 8 selection, don't be surprised if they look to move up from pick 32 to land a young signal caller to compete with Robert Griffin III.

    Denver also is in the quarterback market. In speaking to league contacts, they believe the Broncos would draft Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch if he got to them, but many around the league don't think that Lynch will reach the Broncos. Trading up with Green Bay would allow Denver to leap division rival Kansas City (28th pick), who also could consider Lynch.

    If the Broncos and Browns trade up, it almost certainly won't happen in advance of the draft like the Rams-Titans and Eagles-Browns trades. These conversations are done now in part to get prepared for making a deal when the teams are on the clock and the targeted player is available.

    With a number of other teams being in the quarterback market, including the Jets, Bills, Cowboys, and 49ers, there could be a lot of interest in trades in the middle portion and late in the first round. Teams like the Packers that already have their starting quarterback could be offered some interesting packages to move down.

    Comment on this story here.


    Medical Rechecks: Good News for Fuller; Bad News for Smith

    Updated April 20, 2016
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    Now that teams have the results from the Combine medical recheck, we reached out to sources from teams across the league to get feedback on two prospects in particular: Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller. In speaking with sources at a variety of teams, there was an across-the-board consensus of optimism for Fuller and pessimism for Smith.

    Fuller missed most of his senior year with a serious knee injury, but the medical recheck said he was progressing and should be ready to play in time for the start of training camp. That was great news and better than many teams expected. Sources say that Fuller is safe to at least be a second-day pick. Some teams still have him in the second or third round in part because he hasn't been able to work out for teams leading up to the draft. Two playoff teams though said they had him as a possible late first. One general manager said that on their final board, Fuller will be in the 24-42 range. Thus, Fuller has a shot at being a Thursday night pick.

    Unfortunately, the news was bad for Smith. Sources say they are worried about complications from Smith's torn ACL and MCL, and the prospect that he may need more corrective surgery. Teams love him on and off the field, but they view him as a major injury risk. Multiple teams said they had him as a sixth- or seventh-rounder. A couple of teams said they took him off their draft board after flunking him medically. Two playoff teams said their medical staff was more optimistic that he would return to play in 2017, and they had him as a potential mid-rounder. Smith would be fortunate to be selected on the second-day of the draft. If he does fall to the third day, he is such a talented player that I believe a team will take a chance on him.

    Comment on this story here.


    More NFL Draft Rumor Mill Tidbits

    Updated April 19, 2016
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    With the 2016 NFL Draft less than two weeks away, here some rumor mill tidbits I've picked up from speaking with team sources.

  • After the trade down from the No. 1 overall pick to the 15th, sources told me the Titans had Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin and Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker as potential targets. Conklin may not get to the pick with offensive line-needy teams picking ahead of the Titans. He could go off the board to the Bears, Saints or Dolphins. If there is another player the Titans like more than Decker available, Tennessee could address their right tackle position later on. Tennessee likes Texas A&M right tackle Germain Ifedi, and he could be in play for their pick at 33. With five second-day choices, they have plenty of ammo to move up into the end of the first for Ifedi if they feel compelled to do so. Sources say that Indiana's Jason Spriggs and Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark would be options for their third-round picks. However it would be surprising if the Titans didn't draft a tackle like Conklin, Decker, or Ifedi in the first two rounds.

  • Two defensive tackles who could go quickly on the second day are UCLA's Kenny Clark and Penn State's Austin Johnson. Some playoff teams say they really like Clark and Johnson, but they don't expect them to get to their second-round picks. Don't be surprised if Clark and Johnson go higher than many expect.

  • Everybody is projecting the Texans to take a wide receiver in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. I strongly believe that Houston's preference is for Notre Dame's Will Fuller. The Texans' backup plan is Baylor's Corey Coleman. After that, TCU's Josh Doctson could be in play. Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell would also be a candidate, but he has a higher chance to be off the board by pick 22.

  • As we hit on in the last rumormill tidbits entry, the Redskins are said to be in the market to get younger and faster on the defensive line. However, the Redskins could take advantage of a deep defensive line class and address it on Day 2. Sources tell me I should mock the Redskins a cornerback in my final mock draft. I think the corner that I'm likely to go with is Houston's William Jackson. Ohio State's Eli Apple is also in the running, but I think they prefer Jackson. Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller can't be ruled out after the positive news from his medical recheck. Another dark horse for Washington, depending on how the draft falls, is Alabama center Ryan Kelly.

  • Sources say they expect the Steelers to address their secondary in the early rounds, and that isn't shocking in the least with the problems Pittsburgh's secondary has had in recent years. Pittsburgh sources say they loved Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson last year (selected 16th overall), and if he had gotten to their pick, he likely would have been a Steeler. This year, cornerbacks like Eli Apple and William Jackson have similar skill sets to Johnson, so they could be in play for Pittsburgh's first-round pick.

    However, sources also say that the Steelers have strong interest in Florida safety Keanu Neal. He is said to be what Mike Tomlin loves in a safety. Neal won't make it to Pittsburgh's second-round pick, so if they want Neal, they'll have to take him in the first round.

  • After Lovie Smith's former Bears additions were ineffective last year, safety is in play for Tampa Bay early on the second day. The Bucs appear set with their top three corners for next season with Brent Grimes, Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks. Those veterans could man the secondary in 2016, and next year, the Buccaneers could remodel the corner position if they don't play well.

    They aren't as strong at safety. From what I'm hearing, the Bucs like Florida safety Keanu Neal more than Ohio State safety Vonn Bell. Bell is limited as a free safety. Most pigeon hole Neal as a strong safety because he played that as a junior. However, during his sophomore year, Marcus Maye landed in Will Muschamp's doghouse for some coverage busts and Neal moved to free safety for most of that year. He did a good job in coverage in that role. Thus, multiple teams have told me they view Neal as having more versatility. He also brings more size to the position than Bell. I think early on Day 2, Neal is a strong candidate to go to the Buccaneers if he makes it to their pick, but Neal could easily go late in the first round.

    Comment on this story here.


    Titans Thinking Offensive Tackle at 15

    Updated April 14, 2016
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    In January, WalterFootball.com first reported that the Titans wanted to trade down from the No. 1 overall pick. They knew that a team would want the top quarterback and would have to get in front of the Browns to land him. On Thursday morning, Tennessee followed through on that goal and moved down to the 15th-overall choice in a trade with the Rams.

    The Titans are now loaded with early-round draft selections to address their various needs on the team. In speaking with sources, the Titans are keeping their options open in the first round, but offensive tackle is a top priority the team hopes to address.

    Sources say the Titans are OK with either Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin or Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker. Either one would move to right tackle for Tennessee and form a bookend with 2014 first-round left tackle Taylor Lewan. The Titans have a slight preference for Conklin. Sources say that Conklin is the better player even though he isn't a great athlete. In speaking with Tennessee sources months ago, they said that a team might be able to get away with Conklin or Decker at left tackle, but they would be better players at right tackle in the NFL.

    Another possibility could be trading up from 15 for Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. However, sources say they feel that Stanley lacks some toughness and aggressiveness. Thus, keeping the picks to address other needs could be the route the Titans go.

    With six picks in the top 80 selections, the Titans have a ton of flexibility in the 2016 NFL Draft. Right now, sources say offensive tackle is the most likely pick at 15 with Conklin or Decker being the favorites.

    Comment on this story here.


    Knee Concerns Remain for Myles Jack, Kendall Fuller

    Updated April 11, 2016
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    Entering the draft process, there were concerns about the knee injuries for UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller. Both players missed almost all of the 2015 season with their respective maladies. Jack received clearance to start playing again, while Fuller has been rehabbing leading up to the draft. In speaking with team sources, however, teams have concerns about both players' injuries impacting their future.

    For Jack, team sources say there are health concerns in addition to the knee procedure that he already had. Teams are stuck with a tough decision of whether Jack should undergo more surgery to correct issues with his knee, or wait until he can't play because of the injury. It sounds like the latter is the most likely avenue they will pursue.

    Regarding Fuller, sources say they have concerns that his knee is not completely repaired from the procedure he had last year. Teams across the league have told WalterFootball.com that based on Fuller's tape, they had a first-round grade on him entering the draft process, but because the knee injury, most teams are projecting him to the second day. Sources said that if the Combine medical recheck goes well, he should be safe on the second day and likely the second round. Teams are worried about Fuller's status and when he would be able to play in his rookie year.

    Overall, the injury concerns are more significant with Fuller. His injury is having an impact on where teams are rating him. While teams have concerns that Jack may have more health issues to come, they don't expect Jack to slide in the draft because of them.

    Comment on this story here.

    NFL Draft Rumor Mill Tidbits

    Updated April 8, 2016
    By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



    With the 2016 NFL Draft less than a month away, here some NFL Draft rumor mill tidbits I've picked up from speaking with team sources.

  • The Redskins are said to be in the market to get younger and faster on the defensive line. This certainly is a strong draft to make that happen. In speaking with Redskins sources, two players the team was not gung-ho on were Alabama defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson. There were other defensive lineman they were more excited about, so Reed and Robinson sound unlikely to land in D.C.

  • Two playoff teams say that Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is in play for their first-round pick if his medical recheck goes well. If they feel that Smith's going to miss limited time and not suffer long-term effects of his knee injury, Smith will get heavy consideration on Thursday night. They feel that they would land a top-five talent at a massive discount and they have the strong roster to stash him for half a season, or his entire rookie year, with the payoff coming in 2017 of a player they shouldn't have been able to land. Keep an eye on the Chiefs, Packers, Texans, Bengals, and Vikings.

  • One of the most polarizing players in the draft is Houston cornerback William Jackson. One general manager from a playoff team that is adept at drafting defensive backs told me they had a fifth-round grade on Jackson prior to the Combine. Another team picking early that needs cornerback help said they had Jackson as a third or lower. Two other playoff teams said they saw Jackson as a late first- or second-round pick. One of the reasons for the big divide is the scheme-fit projection. Thus, if Jackson gets initially passed on by the teams that like him, he could be in store to have a slide on draft day.

  • I asked a few teams if either Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa or if Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner could slide in the top 10. The answers were that Buckner shouldn't be available to the Buccaneers and Giants picking ninth and 10th, respectively. Bosa had that possibility. Part of the difference is teams love Buckner off the field, and Bosa is just OK on the character/intangible grades.

    Comment on this story here.
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