The 2019 NFL draft is only a few hours away. The following is a list of just some of the juicy rumors that are circulating through the league before Commissioner Roger Goodell officially kicks things off in Nashville.
Will all of these turn out to be true? Perhaps not. But more than a few of them will – just like last year’s article that was among the very first to report that the Cleveland Browns were beginning to hone in on Baker Mayfield and that Saquon Barkley was not the only running back who would be drafted in the first round.
Enough about last year… Let’s get to it.
10. Montez Sweat slips… but not as far as some suggest
Reports of an enlarged heart is going to have an adverse effect on the gifted Mississippi State pass rusher’s stock but I have a hard time imagining that he falls all the way out of the first round despite the fact that four teams have told me he is off their board. I have since communicated with others, however, who acknowledge that Sweat’s situation is “scary” but the impression I’m getting is that he won’t slip too far – he’s just too gifted and pass rushers are just too important. Sweat landed 14th overall to the Falcons in my final mock draft.
9. Falcons are looking to move up – in search of a pass rusher?
Indications are that Falcons’ GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn may not be willing to gamble that Sweat or one of the other top edge rushers falls to them at No. 14. According to a long-time source, Atlanta is looking to move into the top five.
8. D.K. Metcalf on the other hand…
Along with Sweat, Metcalf was THE story at the Combine but anyone who ever watched this thoroughbred at Ole Miss knew that he was an athletic freak. The medical grades on Metcalf have teams worried that his consistent struggles with durability for the Rebels will continue in the NFL. Only two wide receivers made my top 32, Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown and Ohio State’s Parris Campbell.
7. Cardinals are looking to trade down a few spots but will stick and pick if necessary
Over the past few days there has been more and more talk in league circles that the Cardinals have intentionally built up the Kyler Murray buzz in the hopes of creating interest in No. 1 overall pick and “secretly” prefer one of the dominant defensive linemen, Quinnen Williams and Nick Bosa. While I have been told that the club loves Williams, the sense I am getting is that Murray will, indeed, be the pick if the team is unable to trade down.
6. The next QB off the board will be Dwayne Haskins
Haskins is my personal top-rated quarterback in this class so this is perhaps not as bold as some would like. Where he lands, however, might interest you. I have him projected to land with the New York Giants at No. 6 overall but I’m not so sure he gets there. My sources tell me that the Oakland Raiders are also very high on the Buckeyes’ quarterback and that the Washington Redskins are in talks to trade up to get him, as well.
5. Speaking of the Raiders, their paranoia apparently knows no bounds
Much was made of the fact that the Raiders sent their scouts home early as head coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock nail down their final board and did not want to risk any leaks. I have a source close to the team that suggests the club has literally swept the facility for electronic recording devices to further assure that their board is not leaked.
4. Josh Jacobs winds up with the Colts or Raiders
There is only one running back I see as worthy of top 50 consideration and that is Alabama’s Jacobs. The steep drop-off at the position only enhances the likelihood that Jacobs hears his name called in the first round. That isn’t bold enough, though. I projected Jacobs to the Raiders in my final mock but I also believe the Colts are very much in play for the hard-running (and blocking) back. The Colts became one of the league’s most improved teams a year ago in large part because they were significantly more physical. Jacobs is a junkyard dog of a back who I believe would beautifully complement Marlon Mack in the Colts’ scheme.
3. Parris Campbell leaps to the top of the WR class
Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown is the betting favorite to be the first receiver off the board – and he was in in my mock. The only other receiver to make the top 32 was Campbell, with high-ranking sources from multiple different teams indicating to me yesterday that the Buckeyes’ playmaker is going to hear his name called Thursday. And that was AFTER writing an article earlier in the week on my favorite prop bets of this year’s draft.
2. Most interesting trades tonight will come late in the first, not early
While all of the buzz will focus on the top picks, the cost of moving up is so prohibitive – and the depth of this year’s class so good at tough-to-find positions – that I do not believe there will be many trades involving top 10 picks. That, however, is unlikely to be the case over the final 5-8 picks of the first round with clubs likely looking to sneak back in to get the treasured fifth-year option on rookie contracts. That fifth-year option is one of the biggest reasons why I feel that Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons gets drafted in the first round despite the likelihood that he spends his entire rookie season on the sideline.
1. The Miami Dolphins make a statement tonight
The Dolphins currently have three quarterbacks on their roster – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Luke Falk and Jake Rudock – none of whom project as the club’s long-term answer. If the club does not make an aggressive move for a passer in the first round, this may be the earliest indication in NFL history of a team preparing to finish a season with few wins and therefore an early draft pick next year. For all of the attention on Murray, Haskins and the rest of this year’s QB crop, next year’s class already appears much richer. Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert are both more highly regarded in NFL circles than any of the passers available this year.