- Day 2 of the 2019 NFL draft is about to kick off, so here’s a few pieces of intel and information about what’s to come in the second and third rounds.
Here we go with Day 2 …
• Why didn’t the bandied-about trades in the top 10 go down on Thursday night? I know of at least two teams that offered expensive veteran players, rather than draft pick hauls (I didn’t hear about a single offer on Thursday that included a 2020 first-round pick), to go up into that area—and that’s a tougher sell for teams this time of year, because so much cap space is used up. As one exec explained to me, those kinds of trades would be more workable if the draft was before free agency (like it is in the NBA) because there is so much more cap space across the league at that point. It’d also help rookies, since they’d be on teams faster, giving them more time to acclimate to the pros. But don’t hold your breath waiting for change. It’s too good for the NFL to have the draft right where it is—allowing the league to stay in the news for a long period of time.
• I’m told that two players are atop the Cardinals list today: Washington CB Byron Murphy and Florida OT Jawaan Taylor. A knee issue raised some concern on Taylor, and it could serve as a tiebreaker in this case. Taylor has been connected to the Jaguars the last couple months, as an option for the seventh overall pick. Jacksonville picks sixth tonight, the 38th overall spot, so we’ll see if they’ve backed off him or not.
• More on the Cardinals, who are in an interesting spot with a couple veterans. CB Patrick Peterson was in touch with coaches while missing this week’s minicamp, so everything has calmed down a bit there. More contentious is Josh Rosen’s situation. The Dolphins and Cardinals spoke late Thursday night, and without a deal there, they resolved to talk again Friday afternoon. Nothing’s done yet, but the lines of communication are open—and I’d be surprised if Miami just handed over its second-rounder, knowing it may be Arizona’s only option as a trade partner. And for what it’s worth, Rosen was fine during the minicamp. One coach told me you wouldn’t have been able to tell anything was happening with him if you didn’t know. I’m told he spent Friday golfing with one of his Cardinal teammates.
• The phone lines have been active through the day, with runs on receivers (D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel), corners (Murphy, Rock Ya-Sin, Greedy Williams, Joejuan Williams), and offensive linemen (Taylor, Cody Ford, Eric McCoy, Elgton Jenkins, Greg Little) in play. And because of this, and their own motivation to do so, I’d bet the Colts wind up trading down again, this time from 34 (a pick they got back in the Jets’ trade-up for Sam Darnold last year).
• The Broncos shopped CB Chris Harris aggressively Thursday, and a trade could happen today or tomorrow. The team picked TE Noah Fant with the No. 20 pick on Thursday night, and Denver’s picking 41st on Friday. If they can build a surplus of picks with a Harris trade, that might build in the luxury to take a quarterback in Round 2. For what it’s worth, I was told GM John Elway continuously raised Drew Lock’s name in draft meetings the last couple week. Denver’s been linked to Lock since the Senior Bowl in January.
• New Patriots WR N’Keal Harry had his 30 visit in Foxboro during the week of April 8, and that's when he really got New England’s attention. One thing the World Champions do with their pre-draft visitors is give them a bunch of plays to study early in their visit, and then test them on it later. As I heard it, Harry aced the test—and that’s important in a very complex offense. It’s even more impressive when you consider that Harry had four 30 visits that week.
• Fun story: 49ers GM John Lynch and VP Adam Peters were scouting Ohio State’s bowl practice in December, and happened to be there when Nick Bosa, rehabbing and training with his brother in Orange County, saw his OSU teammates for the first time. Recognizing the moment—the first time Bosa had been around the Buckeyes after withdrawing from school in October—the San Francisco guys wondered if things might be awkward or uncomfortable. It was the opposite. Urban Meyer stopped practice (remember, there are about 150 people involved in a college practice), so everyone could welcome the team captain back into fold. And that stuck with Lynch and Peters, seeing as how teammates looked at the 21-year-old that they’d spend the second overall pick on four months later.
• While we’re there, the Niners viewed Bosa and Quinnen Williams as worthy of being the first overall pick. And not just in this class, but in most historically. With those two graded close to one another, it was easy for the team to go with the need over a position it has invested deeply in, with first-round picks in three straight years (2015-17) spent on interior d-linemen.
• Everyone knew about the Texans’ crying need at tackle. What was less clear was who the team would wind up with and when—with a lot of speculation that they’d trade up. Instead, the franchise sat tight, eyeing Alabama State’s Tytus Howard, who they had settled on three or four weeks earlier. They loved how he held up against top competition playing against Auburn and then in the Senior Bowl, and thought he might have the highest ceiling of the tackle group. And there’s also the versatility that Bill O’Brien prizes. While Andre Dillard is a left tackle who is a projection as an NFL run blocker, and Taylor is a right tackle, Houston believed Howard could play both sides. His NFL comp for them: Terron Armstead.
• The Titans’ selection of Jeffery Simmons was one of the most interesting of Day 1, and Tennessee absolutely went over the top in researching the Mississippi State star defensive lineman. GM Jon Robinson, VP of player personnel Ryan Cowden, and college scouting director Jon Salge all have deep connections at the school—all three were assigned to the Mississippi State as area scouts in their younger years. And head coach Mike Vrabel has a strong relationship with ex-Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen through Meyer, whom both men worked for. Mullen recruited Simmons to Starkville, through the ugly incident where Simmons struck a woman (and was caught on video) as a high schooler, and coached him in 2016 and ’17. What came back to the Titans brass was what you heard across the NFL the last few months. As bad as the early 2016 incident was, Simmons became as good a kid as MSU had in its program the last three years. And if this works out, after Simmons’s ACL heals, the Titans are getting a guy that many considered to be in the Nick Bosa/Quinnen Williams category, based on his game tape.
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