Another OT Enters the Round 1 Picture

Plus, why to expect a soft market for free-agent running backs and receivers, the shrinking edge rusher market, the good and bad of Fromm’s combine, how it went sour for Ngakoue, and much more.
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In this morning’s MMQB, we mentioned the prevailing feeling among teams that a lot of agents are overshooting their clients’ value, and some players are going to be pretty disappointed when we get to the middle of March. Some of that, of course, will be determined by the CBA talks. But there are specific positions where, for now, it’s expected to be that way: running back and receiver are two. Why? Because the draft class is solid at both spots, with starter-types available into the third round, giving teams younger, cheaper options if bidding gets out of control. (Offensive linemen, on the other hand, will keep getting paid because there’s a shortage of them in general across the NFL).

• The timing of the combine in relation to free agency didn’t help either—when everyone left, we were still two-and-a-half weeks away from the start of the new league year. Teams and agents were in agreement that it would help everyone if free agency started the week after the combine. As it is, and this year there’s a longer lag than normal, people were reluctant to show their cards. But my guess is the league is happy with the gap, with the goal always being spacing events to own as much of the calendar as possible (the ill-fated, one-year move of the draft a few years back was an attempt to do that, too).

• I’m really interested to see what happens with Georgia QB Jake Fromm. He didn’t throw the ball very well, according to those assessing him, only bolstering the idea that he doesn’t have the physical tools to start in the NFL. That said, the rest of it is there with him—and it’s not lost on teams what he pulled off during his time in Athens. Not once, but twice, he beat out blue-chip passers, one of whom was an incumbent starter (Jacob Eason), the other of whom was the highest-rated recruit in program history (Justin Fields), per 247’s historical rankings, and a local product. That, by the way, is not unlike what Tom Brady pulled off at Michigan two decades ago, holding off Drew Henson for two seasons.

• Talking to teams that sat down and interviewed LSU’s Joe Burrow and the other quarterbacks, I’d say his meetings with coaches only widened the gap between him and the field. Faced with his own tape, Burrow displayed a deep knowledge of the LSU offense, self-confidence, and an accountability to his mistakes. I’d also say, just knowing how people in the Bengals’ organization talk about him, he’s the overwhelming favorite to go first overall (though owner Mike Brown is said to have taken a liking to Oregon’s Justin Herbert).

• Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland was one name that came up consistently as a player who helped himself in Indy. With the top four tackles—Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills—all now in the Top-10 conversation, the second tier at the position likely gets pushed up a bit. And Cleveland might’ve pushed himself to the top of that tier with his showing.

• At this point, I think the Bengals would take a bag of pylons and a stopwatch for Cordy Glenn. That player/team relationship was fractured beyond all recognition last year. It’s hard to be certain of many things this time of year, but I’m certain that Glenn has played his last game for Cincinnati.

• We discussed this on Twitter: One potential solution for how to arrange the 17th game schedule-wise could tie into the International Series. In this scenario, the league would bump the total number of games abroad from five to eight and put teams on a four-year rotation. In two of those seasons, they’d play international games, one designated as a home game, the other a road game. In the other two, they’d play a game at home and a game on the road. Obviously, you’d have to work other pieces (like the Jaguars’ contracts to play in London) into this. But it’s not a crazy idea.

• Right now, it looks like Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon, Shaq Barrett and Bud Dupree are all getting tagged. That leaves Jadeveon Clowney as the top edge-rushing free agent, with guys like Dante Fowler and Markus Golden, and 30-somethings Robert Quinn, Everson Griffen and Jason Pierre-Paul (Quinn isn’t 30, but will be before the season starts) as the top options out there. Which, in turn, could create a trade market for Judon, who Baltimore may wind up moving.

• Speaking of Ngakoue, his feelings should surprise no one. The well was poisoned last summer. The current regime might put that on Tom Coughlin (and some of that is fair), but it’s easy to see why his mind is where it is. In late July, Coughlin declared publicly that the team had made its final and best offer to Ngakoue. The issue there was that the player’s camp thought the sides were still in the early stages of talks—and that was after Ngakoue was told to patient on a deal in the spring. Before that point, Ngakoue had planned to report to camp on time. In the aftermath, he decided to launch a holdout instead. And here we are.

• Sixteen days of Brady speculation left. I’m glad we all got through the lip-reading situation together.

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