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The week before the NFL draft kicks off is a madhouse. Every agent wants information on where their players will be drafted. Every team source you have wants to know what you’re hearing other teams will do—which is where information sharing happens—and players are nervously clinging to any information you can offer them on where they might be moving in a few days.
Because the information mill is in overdrive, it’s important to sift through what’s real and what’s not. Based on my conversations with team decision-makers—not just area scouts—here’s what I believe and don’t believe.
RUMOR: The Giants want Dwayne Haskins
Depending on which information personality you trust, Dwayne Haskins’ stock is either staying the same or moving down to where he might be drafted in the 20s. The information I’ve been hearing is that the Giants actually want Haskins at No. 6 overall and might have finally orchestrated a good smoke screen.
Multiple sources in other front offices have remarked that Haskins has “always” been the guy for the Giants. Going back to my own reporting, the Giants have done more work on the Ohio State quarterback than any other team.
Smart football people know to be careful about what to trust in the final two weeks before the draft, which is when the purported fall for Haskins began.
The rumor that the Giants want Haskins? That’s one I believe.
RUMOR: The Packers are interested in a quarterback
The Green Bay Packers hosted Missouri quarterback Drew Lock for a visit and tried to set up a meeting with Duke’s Daniel Jones, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. They do still have a certain quarterback named Aaron Rodgers on the roster.
So why are the Packers bringing in quarterbacks?
With two first-rounders in the 2019 draft, the Packers are wisely looking at the quarterbacks in this class in case one they really like falls to No. 30 overall. Rodgers is 35 years old and coming off another season affected by injury. Having a reliable backup and potential successor to Rodgers under contract for the five-year deal first-rounders sign wouldn’t be a bad move for Green Bay.
Most NFL decision-makers expect the Packers to draft a linebacker or wide receiver with their first pick in the first round, but a quarterback shouldn’t be a huge surprise at No. 30. This rumor has some legs to it.
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RUMOR: Four quarterbacks will go top 15
One popular rumor over the last three months is that four quarterbacks—Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones—will be drafted in the top 15 picks of the first round.
Now? That rumor isn’t looking likely to come to fruition.
The Cardinals are expected to draft Murray at No. 1 overall. The Giants could take Haskins at No. 6 overall. After that? It’s a guessing game on if the Denver Broncos (No. 10), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 11) and Miami Dolphins (No. 13) will draft a quarterback. And if Murray goes first, Josh Rosen could be on his way to the Washington Redskins, who own the 15th pick.
We could see four passers go in the top half of the first round, but it’s becoming less likely this happens.
RUMOR: Rashan Gary‘s stock is dropping
Rashan Gary has been billed throughout the draft process as someone who has untapped potential and wasn’t developed well at Michigan. That might be true, but NFL teams are approaching Gary with caution as the draft nears.
Two reasons are being cited for his fall:
1. Injury issues. Gary fought through shoulder issues throughout his last season at Michigan, and scouts who have watched Gary closely believe he has medical concerns.
2. Teams are afraid of betting on a player with potential who didn’t produce stats. At 6’4″ and 277 pounds, Gary is an elite athlete, but he notched only 3.5 sacks in 2018 and just 9.5 in his three years as a Wolverine.
If you want to believe a predraft rumor, this is one to trust. Gary is being seen as a selection in the teens and not a top-10 pick.
RUMOR: Lonnie Johnson will go Round 1
This was mentioned in last week’s Scouting Notebook and has only heated up. Lonnie Johnson could hear his name called on the first night of the draft.
Johnson, the 6’2″ press cornerback from Kentucky, has the size and speed that teams are dying for. In a year with question marks in the cornerback class—Byron Murphy’s size/speed combination, Deandre Baker’s poor interviews—Johnson could stand to be the biggest beneficiary in the group.
• One of the burning questions in the NFL is where the wide receivers will come off the board. The expectation, after speaking to multiple scouts and executives, is that one (Marquise Brown) is a surefire first-rounder with one or two others (D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown) possibly going in the top 32.
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press
This means many receivers could fly off the board when the second round starts. Deebo Samuel, N’Keal Harry, Parris Campbell and Hakeem Butler are the next guys up.
• The Buffalo Bills have been linked to the trenches in this draft process, and the latest buzz has them targeting Houston’s Ed Oliver at No. 9 overall.
The Bills and head coach Sean McDermott want an interior pass-rusher on defense and not the big space-eaters they have now. Oliver’s ability to penetrate and shoot gaps makes him a perfect fit in the team’s 4-3 scheme.
• On the other side of the trenches, one of the fastest-moving names up the board is Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom. There is even talk among teams that Lindstrom’s ability to play well in an outside-zone-rushing scheme could put him in play as a late first-rounder.
• The cornerback class is polarizing this year, with five different orders if you talk to five different scouts. The first corner is expected to come off the board around pick No. 20, where the Pittsburgh Steelers could start a run of four or five cornerbacks to go in the first round.
• Clemson’s defensive line will be well-represented on Day 1 of the NFL draft with three players expected to be selected. Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence are all seen as top-32 players in the class by the scouts B/R polled.
• Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams has been through the ringer this season, as his stock was at one point seen as rising then falling and now rising again. As we say on Stick to Football, time is a flat circle in scouting, and Williams is now back to being seen as a potential top-15 pick.
As our NFL Draft 400 series comes to a close—interior offensive line and offensive tackles will be published soon—my final 2019 big board is ready. Here’s a look at the top 32 with the final big board coming out Wednesday, April 24.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
1. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
2. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
4. Devin White, LB, LSU
5. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
6. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
7. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State (up from No. 10)
8. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
9. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama (down from No. 7)
10. Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
11. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
12. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
13. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
14. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
15. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
17. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
18. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
19. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
20. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
21. Garrett Bradbury, OC, NC State
22. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
23. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
24. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
25. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
26. Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
27. Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
28. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
29. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
30. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
31. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
32. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
6. Exciting news, draft fans! Bleacher Report will once again stream our coverage of the 2019 NFL draft.
When: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 of the 2019 draft, April 25-27
What: Adam Lefkoe, Connor Rogers, Mello and I break down every pick and give you grades for every team’s draft.
5. NFL Draft 400
Our NFL Draft 400 series, which gives rankings, grades, scouting reports and pro-player comparisons for the top 400 draft prospects each year, is nearly complete. Check here for the links:
4. Stock up
The NFL Draft 400 project is a great learning experience, as you’re forced to put a grade and a ranking on a player that will stick with him for his entire career. As we did this, Auburn’s Jamel Dean kept rising through the rankings at cornerback.
At 6’1″ and 206 pounds, Dean has excellent traits for the position, 4.3 speed and high levels of athleticism. Unfortunately, he played on a mediocre Auburn team and didn’t get as many interception opportunities as the guys up the road at Alabama.
As we looked for players who had the traits and tools to excel in the NFL, Dean jumped off the page as a potential Day 2 player with starting-caliber ability.
3. Stock down
Just like with players whose stock is rising, others find themselves falling after you do a final examination with our Draft 400 team of scouts. Going down the board, again, is Stanford running back Bryce Love.
This is a report based on evaluation, not what we’re hearing. Love is a small (5’8⅞”, 200 lbs) back who was hurt throughout his 2018 season and then tore his ACL in the final game of the year. Even going back to 2017 when Love topped 2,000 yards rushing, he wasn’t much of a creator in the backfield and wasn’t a receiving threat.
Love could still be a top-150 pick, but our evaluation of him is that he’s better suited toward the end of the top-150 in Round 4 or Round 5 as a player teams hope can rehab his injuries and get back onto the field. He’s not a player you factor into your backfield plans long-term.
2. Sleeper of the week
This is an interior offensive line-heavy edition of Scouting Notebook, so let’s wrap it up with another one. UNC-Charlotte’s Nate Davis is seen as a scheme-versatile offensive guard at 6’3″, 316 pounds, with great power at the point of attack.
A true small-school star, Davis’ performance in the predraft process has him as a potential top-100 choice.
1. Stick to Football
We have three new episodes this week. On Monday, Mello, Connor and I gave you our latest Round 2 mock in “Mock Draft Monday.” Wednesday’s show featured our “Draft Superlatives” plus an interview with Michigan’s Chase Winovich.
On Friday, you get our “Top Five Perfect Picks” and the latest draft buzz we’re hearing two weeks out from the first selection. Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven’t already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.