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 the rumor mill on Day 1.
There has been talk that the New England Patriots are seeking a first-round pick for backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but in surveying teams around the league, they don't think Garoppolo is worthy of that price tag. One AFC general manager told WalterFootball.com that he thinks Garoppolo is worthy of a third-round pick, but the Patriots could probably get a second-round selection for him. An NFC general manger said he thinks Garoppolo would go for a second-round pick. Another NFC general manager said they thought a third-round pick would be fair.
All of the general managers cited the trades of Alex Smith, Matt Cassel and Matt Schaub. Each member of that trio went for a second-round pick when dealt. All three of those quarterbacks also had more starts and experience than Garoppolo does. The general managers thought this offseason was the best opportunity for the Patriots to deal Garoppolo if they want to get something quality in return.
One team that has been rumored to be in the market for trading for Garoppolo is the Houston Texans. However, in speaking with Texans sources, that is very unlikely. Houston doesn't sound willing to be interested in dealing the necessary picks for Garoppolo. The Texans are definitely in the market to add talent to their quarterback competition, but they are more likely to select a signal-caller in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.
According to sources, if the Texans do acquire a veteran, it would probably be a free agent like Jay Cutler or Tony Romo if they were released and willing to take a cheap contract. The Texans are the only playoff team in the market for a starting quarterback, so if either Cutler or Romo wants a shot to win before the end of their careers, Houston could be their best opportunity. The Texans won't be able to offer a big contract for either veteran because of the money taken up by Brock Osweiler. Thus, the most likely move will be taking a quarterback prospect with one of their early picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Los Angeles Rams' hire of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator was met with a lot of acclaim. That was understandable, as Phillips' defense led the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory a year ago. Many criticized the Broncos for allowing Phillips to leave with the transition to Vance Joseph. Sources with the Broncos, however, say that Phillips divided the locker room and pitted the defense against the offense. The divided locker room was toxic at the end of the season, and that was why the Broncos felt they would be better off to have Phillips depart. Sources in Houston say that Phillips stirred up some similar problems in the Texans' locker room during the 2013 season, but not to the same extent as in Denver last season.
With a new and very young head coach in Sean McVay, it will be interesting to see if Phillips tries to assert control over the Rams' locker room. With the development of Jared Goff being at a critical point in the second year of his career, causing a dysfunctional locker room with the team divided could be very detrimental to Goff developing.
A year ago in the Senior Bowl rumormill, I wrote that the Chargers had interest in Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Most projections had Bosa remaining as a base end in a 4-3 defense in the NFL, and the Chargers' 3-4 defense didn't seem like a logical fit for him, but San Diego sources felt Bosa was very versatile to do a variety of things up front. I mocked Bosa to the Chargers after that, but I wasn't wise enough to stay with that projection in the months to come.
This year, in speaking with San Diego Los Angeles sources, I get the impression that Ohio State safety Malik Hooker has caught their eye. They love his speed, range, and ball skills in the deep part of the field. They know there is some rawness to Hooker's game after being only a 1-year starter. He hasn't seen some route combinations yet that he will in the NFL, and he has room to improve his tackling, but his raw talent is undeniable. I think Los Angeles could easily take Hooker if he gets to their pick.
Sources from multiple teams believe that during the lead up to the 2017 NFL Draft, there will be a "Dak Prescott Effect" on the draft stock of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. In speaking with a general manager of a team in the quarterback market, they felt that there was a lot of good and bad to the Watson evaluation. So much of Clemson's offense is determined pre-snap that Watson will need a lot of development for fitting a pro-style offense. That general manager said he went back and watched some tape of Prescott at Mississippi State and saw some of the flaws that made Prescott a fourth-round pick. This sourse said Watson does similar things on tape, so the question is he can overcome the flaws like Prescott did so quickly as a rookie. Teams believe that the success of Prescott is going to be discussed in relation to Watson in draft meetings, which will help Watson's stock come April.
Watson has a good arm, a quick release, athleticism, and great intangibles. Sources believe that he will interview well with teams, too. Thus, some quarterback-needy team could easily overdraft him ... or maybe one team avoids the mistake of 2016 when all 32 franchises let Prescott get past their first three picks. The Cowboys got lucky with Prescott after their attempted trades for Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook didn't work out. With the "Dak Prescott Effect" weighing on the decision, Watson is a very difficult evaluation for teams around the NFL.