The 2016 NFL draft is almost upon us, as the first round arrives Thursday at 8:00 p.m. While we wait to see which college players go where, here are the latest news and rumors relating to the draft.
Elliott to the Ravens?
Baltimore hasn’t been generally considered to be in the market for a running back with their No. 6 pick, but that could just because GM Ozzie Newsome has played his cards close to his vest. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that the Ravens may pluck Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, at that spot, possibly in a choice between him and Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil. Currently, Baltimore’s running backs include Justin Forsett, Javorious Allen and Terrance West, so there does appear to be reason to consider an elite prospect.
Derrick Henry might not even be the first Alabama running back taken
The hulking Heisman Trophy winner has been second in most draft lists at running back, behind Elliott, but some teams prefer his Crimson Tide teammate Kenyan Drake, who displayed intriguing versatility and speed. According to Joel Klatt of Fox Sports, another back who could go ahead of Henry is Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise.
Browns could draft a wide receiver — if they trade back
For the first time in a few years, there is no wide receiver, let alone a few, widely considered a top-10 value. But there are several who figure to go later in Thursday’s first round, which is where the Browns could find themselves if, as rumored, they trade back from their No. 8 pick. Rapoport reported that a pass-catcher Cleveland would be thinking hard about in that scenario is Ole Miss’s Laquon Teadwell.
Will the Broncos trade for Colin Kaepernick? Or for Sam Bradford?
Denver needs a starting quarterback, unless it is convinced that offseason acquisition Mark Sanchez can play better than he ever has before, and Kaepernick has long been rumored to want out of San Francisco. Mike Klis of Colorado’s KUSA reported Wednesday, as did NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, that the Broncos and 49ers “held a conversation Monday” regarding the quarterback but did not come particularly close to a deal.
Klis also cited a source as saying that the Broncos “are in on” Bradford, who wants out of Philadelphia following the Eagles’ trade for the No. 2 pick and a presumed choice of either Jared Goff or, more likely, Carson Wentz. However, the Eagles are said to be less interested in dealing Bradford away, hoping to keep him — and his massive salary — around while they groom their quarterback of the future.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Thursday that, after talking with the Eagles, the Broncos don’t expect Philadelphia to deal Bradford at all.
Who wants to trade down?
USA Today’s Kristian Dyer reported Thursday that the Bears, Saints, Falcons and Redskins all are looking to trade down in order to stockpile more draft picks.
The Post’s Master Tesfatsion offers his take on one of those teams:
Brian Hoyer will wait until after the draft before signing with a team
As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this makes perfect sense, as the free-agent quarterback will want to see how teams have bolstered that position by Sunday. For instance, he might avoid whichever team drafts Memphis’s Paxton Lynch, preferring to go to a squad where he can compete for the starter’s job for the foreseeable future. For the moment, likely destinations include the Broncos, Jets, Browns and even the Patriots, who might want Tom Brady’s former backup to start the first four games.
Redskins eyeing Crimson Tide players?
Charlie Campbell of Walter Football claimed that Washington, having taken care of a need by signing cornerback Josh Norman, has its sights set on a trio of Alabama players: defensive tackle Jarran Reed, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and center Ryan Kelly. “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,” Campbell wrote of the Redskins, who have the 21st pick in the first round.
Jets could be targeting a first-round wide receiver
Despite having an excellent wide receiver tandem of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, the Jets could be looking to spend an early pick at that position. Rapoport singled out TCU’s Josh Doctson and Notre Dame’s Will Fuller as “names to watch.” It could make some sense, in that Marshall is presumably on the downslope of his career, and beyond him and Decker, the Jets don’t have much proven talent, despite spending a 2015 second-round pick on Ohio State speedster Devin Smith.
Browns might move No. 8 pick to team that wants Ezekiel Elliott
Cleveland has already received a bounty of picks from Philadelphia in exchange for the No. 2 overall pick. Now in possession of the eighth spot, the Browns could be interested in moving even further down the draft board, if some teams are particularly interested in the Ohio State running back. As noted by Marc Sessler of NFL.com, a few teams picking just after the Browns — the Giants (10), Bears (11) and Dolphins (13) — all make sense as landing spots for Elliott, so one of them could trade up or a team with a later pick could try to leapfrog that trio into Cleveland’s spot.
Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com wrote Wednesday that the Browns should either take Lynch at No. 8, assuming he’s available, or trade back and possibly pick up Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook (a scenario suggested by Alex Marvez of Fox Sports). She mentioned that new Browns head coach Hue Jackson had hinted at liking a quarterback other than Goff and Wentz, saying, “Everybody keeps talking about two of the best quarterbacks in the draft. No one knows that, right? I told you guys before, I’m not like everybody else and our organization is not like everybody else. We’ll see if there are any of these other great quarterbacks out there as we venture through this draft.”
Jaylon Smith won’t fall past the third round, and could even go in the first
Smith, a linebacker from Notre Dame, was a lock to be a top 10 pick until shredding his knee in the Fiesta Bowl. He might not even play this season, but according to Schefter, enough teams are willing to wait for his full recovery that Smith won’t tumble into the late rounds.
Leonard Floyd a hot name
The outside linebacker from Georgia had a meeting on Tuesday with a team in possession of a top 10 pick, per Peter Schrager of Fox Sports. He mentioned the Jaguars (5), Buccaneers (9) and Giants (10) as possible destinations for the 6-4, 231-pound athlete, who has generally been mocked to go somewhere in the top 20.
Myles Jack is maybe not so hot
The linebacker from UCLA could be sliding out of the top 10 because of concerns about his torn meniscus, a problem for a player highly regarded in part because of his eye-popping physical skills. Marvez cited two league sources as saying that Jack’s knee was causing him to tumble down draft boards, and Schrager called the player, who appeared in just three games last season, the “draft’s biggest wild card,” saying that he could go anywhere from fifth to 20th. Dan Graziano, a Giants reporter for ESPN, tweeted that it was his “understanding” that the team would not take Jack with the 10th pick.
Until the Titans traded out of the top spot, most mock drafts had Tunsil going to Tennessee as the No. 1 overall pick. Now there is talk that the Mississippi product won’t even be the first offensive tackle taken, with that honor possibly going to Notre Dame’s Stanley. Schrager reported that “two different teams” like Stanley better, and NFL.com’s Michael Silver speculated that the Chargers could go for Stanley at No. 3, as the first non-quarterback off the board.
Lynch to the Saints?
Rapoport reported that New Orleans “had talks about moving up to No. 1 for a QB.” If so, that’s an indication that the team is keenly interested in securing an eventual replacement for 37-year-old Drew Brees (other quarterbacks on the roster include 34-year-old Luke McCown and 2015 third-round pick Grayson Garrett). In that case, if Lynch is still on the board when the Saints’ turn some around at No. 12, he could prove irresistible.