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.