The Los Angeles Rams are trying to maintain a sense of mystery about the top pick of the NFL draft, but they aren’t fooling anyone. The NFL world fully expects Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to go off the board first and second to kickstart Thursday night.
While the drama has diminished at the very top of the draft, the rest of the first round is a total mystery. No one has a clue who the San Diego Chargers will take at No. 3 (more on that later). The Dallas Cowboys are a wild card at No. 4, with running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s name getting mentioned more in recent days.
â Peter Schrager (@PSchrags)
April 26, 2016
Joey Bosa is another popular projection to Dallas, but Elliott likely won’t slip too far if the Cowboys look elsewhere. We tried to guess where Elliott would be drafted on our latest Around the NFL Podcast, and most of the teams picking Nos. 8-13 make sense: Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins are each candidates. Elliott, for one, doesn’t think he’ll get past the Bears. He told The Dan Patrick Show that the Bears are in love with him.
Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell have shown how valuable three-down running backs are in the NFL over the last few drafts. And they all were taken too late. Elliott might not quite have the explosive ability of Gurley, but his passing down skills, lateral agility and toughness have made him a coveted prospect. The Bears shouldn’t count on him being available at No. 11.
Here’s what else we learned on a buzzy Tuesday:
1. In a worst case scenario for Elliott, he could fall to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13. The Dolphins are in the market for a running back and could be a candidate to move up for him. But the Dolphins were in the news for other reasons Tuesday.
2. There is no consensus on what the Chargers will do with the third overall pick. NFL Media columnist Mike Silver said there is “some sense” the Chargers could draft Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. That is in line with other reports that Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil could wind up being the second or third tackle drafted after initially anticipated to go first overall.
Then again, NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks both mocked Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner over Stanley, Tunsil and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Buckner has not been mentioned as a possibility that high too often through the draft process, but conventional wisdom often gets scrambled in draft week.
4. Don’t expect the Rams to officially tip their hand on the No. 1 overall selection until draft night. Coach Jeff Fisher said they won’t even tell
the player until they are on the clock to make the pick.
5. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the New Orleans Saints had internal conversations about trading up all the way to the No. 1 pick, and that the Saints are a “team to watch” in the Paxton Lynch sweepstakes. Lynch is yet another mystery heading into Thursday. FOX’s Peter Schrager knew of two teams that had Lynch ranked higher than Goff on their boards. The Saints draft at No. 12 overall. It would make a strong statement for them to trade up while they are in the middle of long-term contract talks with Drew Brees. He didn’t buy the Saints‘ interest in the top pick.
“I would doubt that probably was the case, or consideration. Even if it was, it does not affect my mentality or my approach or anything.” Brees said Tuesday on The Rich Eisen Show.
“The way I see it is, if you go to a place where you have to sit behind a guy and learn, that can do nothing but benefit you in my opinion, because you get a chance to get behind somebody that’s a good player,” Lynch told NFL Network’s Dan Hellie on NFL Total Access. “Someone like Drew Brees with the Saints. He’s been through it before … he’s had a great career there and he’s won a Super Bowl, so a guy like that knows what kind of work you’ve got to put in to win championships and knows how to do it the right way.”
6. The MMQB’s Peter King wrote Monday that there is some support for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the Bills‘ organization. King passes along some belief that the Bills could take Hackenberg at No. 19 overall, which is hard to believe after questions about his gametape and leadership. Connor Cook seems a lot more likely to be a fourth quarterback to sneak into first round.
7. Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver reported late Monday that the Broncos inquired about Sam Bradford. The Eagles have not given Bradford permission to seek a trade, but the interest is notable. While staying in Philadelphia is the most likely outcome for Bradford, perhaps the Eagles will decide a mid-round pick is worth more than a year of Bradford.
Bradford’s agent Tom Condon, speaking on Sirius XM NFL Radio, explained Bradford’s stance:
“He doesn’t view himself as somebody who is a stop-gap kind of quarterback and he wants to go some place and take a chance on being with a team for a long time and I can’t blame him for that.”
We don’t blame him, either. But the rest of the NFL views Bradford as a stop-gap kind of quarterback until he proves them wrong.