Almost there …
1. For the sake of argument, let’s say the Cardinals pass on Kyler Murray. And let’s say he starts slipping. This is where some teams are raising a very significant question, which would lead them to follow the financials like a Wall Street trader. Per our Robert Klemko (as part of his takeout on Murray), the Oakland A’s offered, and MLB OK’d, a $14 million sweetner to the $4.66 million bonus he was already due as part of the baseball contract he signed last summer. I’m no mathematician, but I can tell you that adds up to $18.66 million. That number, last year, would land between the fully guaranteed, four-year deals of the seventh pick (Josh Allen, $21.18 million) and eighth (Roquan Smith, $18.48 million). I’m told that this year, based on the slotting system, $18.66 million guaranteed would land between what the 10th and 11th picks would command. So … what happens if Murray falls out of the top 10? What if he slides into the teens, and the gap grows? These are legit questions, and I can tell you this—it’d definitely be a concern for teams with no way to secure any sort of terms with Murray until after the draft. And it has been discussed in some of those war rooms.
2. I still think Murray goes first.
3. We wrote about the Raiders being connected to Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins in the Monday Afternoon Quarterback. Perception regarding what Oakland might do may be what’s driving a more active market for the Jets’ pick at 3. The Redskins, who are in the market for a quarterback, are one obvious suitor. And the Giants’ presence at 6 could bring value to the Bucs’ place at 5. Either way, I’d say the Jets have a better chance of finding a trade partner than they had a week ago. The issue might be how far some of the quarterback-hungry teams would have to move up to get there.
4. I also mentioned Atlanta potentially trading up, maybe with Detroit, into the top 10. And word is that the Falcons may be eyeing some of the top defensive tackles in the class—maybe Houston’s Ed Oliver or Clemson’s Christian Wilkins. Buffalo, at 9, is said to have an affinity for Oliver. Both Oliver and Wilkins, by the way, can play the nose, which would appeal to Atlanta, given the presence of natural 3-technique Grady Jarrett there.
5. To me, Mississippi State’s Jeffrey Simmons remains the draft’s most interesting story. There’s the video of him striking a woman in high school. There’s a torn ACL too. And there’s a player that most teams I’ve talked to regard in the Nick Bosa/Quinnen Williams category. He is, I’m told, off some draft boards. For some teams, the presence of the video makes drafting him a non-starter, and for every team it necessitates running the idea all the way up the chain to ownership. That said, the coaches in Starkville have all been vocal in defending Simmons, and he has impressed teams through the process, which he has gone through without an agent—his uncle, ex-Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher, is advising him. And NFL people have noticed how he’s managed all his travel and his schedule, while rehabbing, on his own.
6. In digging in a little more into Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary’s shoulder injury—which was suffered in the fall at Michigan—I found that it is very similar to what Shaq Lawson was dealing with going into the 2015 draft. The Bills downplayed the ailment after taking Lawson in the first round, then Lawson tweaked it and needed surgery that May. Gary, and his drafting team, will have a decision to make. Either go through surgery now, and get him back in November, or put it off for this year, and have it done in early 2020.
7. If you’re looking for a quarterback with some upside who’ll go later on, keep an eye on Jarrett Stidham. He was in a system at Auburn that was an ill fit to get the most out of him, and you could certainly see a team like New England identifying that, and figuring their coaching could get more out of a guy who throws as pretty a ball as anyone in the draft. A pretty good comp one veteran evaluator gave me for Stidham: ex-Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck.
8. We discussed Broncos CB Chris Harris as trade possibility yesterday, and how Kareem Jackson’s three-year, $11 million deal had an effect on his outlook. What I didn’t realize then, and what’s been passed along since: The deal for Jackson was the richest ever for a corner in his 30s. Which, in a funny way, is part of the trepidation that Denver has in going to the upper reaches of the corner market to make Harris happy. The Broncos, as I understand it, are open to moving the four-time Pro Bowler, and other teams have been aware of it for a few days now. As you’d expect, Denver doesn’t want to give him away.
9. I’d say the cloudiest position going into Thursday night is receiver. Ole Miss’s A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf, Oklahoma’s Hollywood Brown, and even Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry all have a shot to be first off the board among the group, and there’s a shot none go in the first round. If I had to bet on one going first right now, I’d put my money on Hollywood.
10. I don’t think the Steelers trade up. But if they were considering it, I’d guess Michigan linebacker Devin Bush would be the target.
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