NFL Hot Press: 2024 NFL Draft Week Rumors – Monday

J.J. McCarthy

The 2024 NFL Draft is just three days away! Here are some rumors that I have heard from sources with the draft growing close.

Many weeks ago, I reported that the Washington Commanders had turned down trade offers at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine for the No. 2-overall pick. The Commanders turned down those offers because they are targeting a new franchise quarterback. In following up with some team sources, they said the Patriots also turned down trade offers for the No. 3-overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. The Patriots have stated they are open for business, but they have turned down offers. That makes it sound like New England is waiting to see if it can get an absurd offer, but more likely, the team is sticking at with the third pick to select a quarterback.

Among teams with top-10 picks, it is nearly a foregone conclusion that the Minnesota Vikings are likely to trade up. Team sources said the Vikings are not sitting at pick No. 11 and are trying hard to get to the fourth pick. Other teams believe that the parameters of a trade are in place between the Cardinals and Vikings. However, the only way they think Vikings may not trade into a top-five pick for a quarterback is if another team beats them to it.

Depending on how the quarterbacks come off the board in the top three, the Giants at No. 6 might jump to the fourth pick to get a quarterback they want if the right player slides there. For the Cardinals, that option is intriguing because they would probably get the Giants’ 2025 first-round pick and be in position to still come away with an elite receiver, like Marvin Harrison Jr. or Malik Nabers. The Broncos are another option of a team that could jump to the fourth pick of the 2024 NFL, because they are desperate for a young quarterback after cutting Russell Wilson.

Sources from teams picking in the top 10 said the Vikings trade with the Texans to land the 23rd pick of the draft was done to give the Vikings the draft capital to get in position for a trade upward. The Vikings will offer picks No. 11 and 23, as well as possibly their first-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft, to get to the fourth pick this year. Sources at other teams think the Vikings are almost a certainty to move up and will not be waiting at No. 11 with hopes that a quarterback will fall to their pick. It will be fascinating to see which trade, or trades, become a reality on Thursday night.

Three years ago, the 49ers traded into a top-three pick to be in position to draft Trey Lance, and they did that trade with Miami many weeks before the 2021 NFL Draft. There was some thought that Arizona could do its trade early as well to have more time to plan at the lower picks. Sources, however, said the Cardinals are waiting until they are on the clock because they think that will only help to drive the price up. Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort thinks time pressure could prompt a team like the Vikings or Broncos to panic and help to max out the level of return that is coming to the Cardinals.

The pre-draft interview process for LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels has been somewhat challenging. Daniels has handled himself well, but teams have questioned some of what is going on around him – specifically with family and how that will impact the locker room. Daniels’ mother was known to be especially close with former Arizona State and current Las Vegas Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce when Daniels was playing for Pierce with the Sun Devils. She also was said to be extremely close to former teammates Malik Nabers and Kayshon Boutte. Teams wondered if those kind of issues would be a problem and a distraction for Daniels in the NFL, but to his credit, he does not seem to care at all about that and has maintained his focus on football. Over the past three seasons, Daniels gave proof that coaches’ or teammates’ relationships with his mother would not impact his play or conduct in the locker room. Still, it was an odd situation that teams looked into during the draft process.

UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu received some fantastic and potentially life changing news in that a lot of teams doctors medically cleared him. Latu had a neck injury at Washington that forced him to briefly retire before he came back with the Bruins and produced two outstanding seasons of rushing the quarterback in the Pac-12. Some NFL team sources were expecting their doctors to flunk Latu, but many passed Latu to keep him alive on draft boards. As a result, Latu has a shot at cracking the top 10.

“Latu is the most natural pass rusher in this draft,” said an AFC director of player personnel. “Our doctors passed him, but we can be strict with medical concerns, so I don’t know that we would take him, but someone else will.”

Latu has more size, speed and production than the other potential first-round edge rushers: Alabama’s Dallas Turner, Florida State’s Jared Verse and Penn State’s Chop Robinson. Because medical evaluations are different for each team, there is a wide range of where Latu could come off the board. However, his chances of going on Thursday night, and hopes of going high, have improved greatly over the past few weeks since teams received the positive medical evaluations from their doctors.