NFL Rumors: Latest Draft Buzz and Rumors from Around the League
With the 2012 NFL draft less than a week away, we run down some of the latest news, buzz and rumors, including what kind of player the Carolina Panthers want at No. 8, the Jacksonville Jaguars' interest in cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the rising draft stock of Wake Forest receiver Chris Givens and the positive scouting report on Wisconsin center Peter Konz.
Panthers Not Looking for a Project
Last April, the Carolina Panthers transformed their franchise with the selection of quarterback Cam Newton first overall. Picking eight spots lower in the 2012 draft, head coach Ron Rivera is reportedly looking for another player that can have an instant impact.
From ESPN's Pat Yasinskas:
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We're not like where we were last year. We had the pick of the litter. Now we've got to react to what's happening — who goes here, who goes there and then we'll decide who fits us best and who's going to help us immediately. We're not taking a guy early to have him develop. We're taking a guy early to put him on the field and have him help us right away. That's what the expectation is.
Of course, you have to be aware of the smokescreens every team employs this time of year. But if you're taking Rivera at his word, project players need not apply for the Panthers' eighth overall pick.
When the dust settles, this draft strategy could mean a player like Dontari Poe is crossed off the Panthers' list. Instant-impact prospect fits the profile of Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Boston College's Luke Kuechly and South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore.
Jags Eyeing Gilmore?
The momentum for cornerback Stephon Gilmore going in the top-10 has continued to grow.
According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a genuine interest in the South Carolina corner.
"Like Tampa, Jacksonville has a major hole at cornerback, and I hear the Jags like Gilmore a ton, which would have to be the case for them to reach for him here," King wrote in his mock draft.
King also writes that the Jaguars "should" take Stanford guard David DeCastro in the first round, while finding a cornerback in the second round.
However, it's possible that Jacksonville trades out of the No. 7 pick and then takes Gilmore a few spots down the draft board. Either way, it appears Gilmore's stock has legitimately rose into the top 10.
Hidden Gem in WF's Givens?
You have surely heard a boatload of information on some of top receivers in this draft, such as Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright.
According to one noted film guru, Wake Forest's Chris Givens has all the makings of an NFL receiver.
Greg Cosell, the executive producer of NFL Films, had this to say on Givens:
I’m struggling to understand why I don’t hear more about the Wake Forest wide receiver. He’s a little bigger, and just as explosive vertically as Kendall Wright. Just as importantly, Givens played to his speed on almost every snap. He showed dynamic acceleration on vertical routes, especially with free access off the line. He was both deceptively and explosively fast. He went from zero to 60 in a heartbeat.
A scouting report like that is high praise from one of the most respected evaluators in the business, and you can bet NFL teams have seen similar traits on tape.
Cosell doesn't think Givens will escape the second round, and I agree: The Wake Forest receiver will be a top-60 pick. There's too much to like about his game for NFL teams not to notice early.
High Praise for the Draft's Top Center
No member of the NFL media is as connected with scouts and evaluators around the league than Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and his sources are high on Wisconsin center Peter Konz.
"Hell of a football player," one scout told McGinn. "He may be the smartest guy in this whole draft. Oh, my God, he's a genius on the board. Genius. We put him on the board and he blew it away. Great kid."
Worries about Konz's height—he stands 6'5"—were calmed, too.
From Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik:
People made fun of Matt Birk all the way to the (sixth) round because he didn't look very strong and he was 6-5 and from Harvard. He has played, what, 13 years? He's a 6-5 guy, but I wouldn't be too hard on this kid. He's inside at center. That's one thing you can hide a little bit in there.
Konz is a lock to be the first center off the board, but that might not come until the last third of the first round. Teams such as the Tennessee Titans (No. 20), New England Patriots (No. 27), Green Bay Packers (No. 28) and Baltimore Ravens (No. 29) all appear to be first-round landing spots for the UW center.
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