NFL Draft Rumors: Loudest Whispers Heard Around Indy
Friday marked the second day of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, and with 32 NFL teams represented along with all of the media here, there are bound to be rumors. It’s still early in the process as some players haven’t arrived yet, but there have been plenty of things being discussed, dispelled and confirmed.
It is not hard to imagine how much gets talked about at the combine, as it never stops. There is always something going on, and there is never a shortage of people talking about the latest rumor they have just heard about player "A" going to team "B" or vice versa.
Offensive linemen and tight ends lifted weights Friday while quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers arrived and went to the hospital for medical testing. They were also measured and conducted interviews with the media. Here is the schedule for the 2013 NFL combine.
Let’s look at the rumors that we have confirmed through Friday.
Jarvis Jones Won't Workout
Per Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones decided to skip the workout portion of the combine. News broke on Thursday that he was focusing on his pro day workout scheduled for March 21 in Athens, Ga. He didn’t pull out of the workouts because he is injured as Jones continues to deal with spinal stenosis.
Jones was injured while playing at USC and their team doctors would not clear him to play again, causing him to transfer to Georgia where he was cleared and became one of the best pure pass-rushers in this draft.
The decision not to do positional drills is an interesting one, and it immediately gives scouts a reason for concern, but it is a wise choice. Jones is not a workout warrior-type and running drills next to those who are might have diminished his athletic ability. This was the right move from a business perspective.
Jones is in Indianapolis, and he went through the medical portion while here, he just won’t do drills on the field. Clearing the medical portion is most critical for Jones, and it will dictate where he gets drafted in April.
Titus Young Has Zero Chance to Return to the Detroit Lions
Oft-troubled wide receiver Titus Young will not be returning to the Lions. During his comments to the media, Lions’ general manager Martin Mayhew made it crystal clear.
According to SI.com, Mayhew has said that the Lions have “closed the door” on Young returning to the Lions. It means that the Lions are now in position to have to invest more draft resources into the wide receiver position.
However, the Lions are concerned about Young. Mayhew added:
I want to help him deal with his problems, whatever they are.
It is a genuinely sad situation, but there are issues with Young, and he isn’t responding well to his opportunity to play in the NFL. Young was essentially sent home from the team at the end of the 2012 season, and he got cut in early February.
He was picked up immediately by the St. Louis Rams and they cut less than two weeks later. He is running out of chances to be in the position to play in the NFL, and it’s clear that he will never return to Detroit to play football.
The No. 1 Overall Pick Is Up for Sale
New Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid met with the media on Thursday, and it didn’t take long for him to give the impression that the first overall pick is up for grabs. The Chiefs are considering trading the pick to the highest bidder, as long as they get enough in return.
Per Marc Sessler of NFL.com, Reid summed up their feelings on the first overall pick below:
Listen, yeah, we're going to evaluate everything. We're just not going to give it away. So we'd have to see what people throw our way. It's a pretty valuable pick, I'd say.
It would make sense for the Chiefs to trade back and add an extra pick or two, as this draft is deep and they have a plethora of needs. The Chiefs need quarterback, offensive tackle, wide receiver and they have needs all over on defense.
Mark Sanchez Will Compete for His Job in 2013
New York Jets general manager John Idzik met with the media on Thursday and addressed his team’s future. He was recently hired to take over the Jets, and he inherited a disaster. He needs to change the tone of the locker room, and to get the team back on the rails.
It didn’t take long for him to stir up a bit of a storm, as he talked about the offseason plan and their approach going forward. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reported that Idzik talked about bringing in competition to improve the quality of their play in 2013.
When asked specifically about Sanchez, Idzik said:
I think everyone, Mark included, that he, our offense, our team as a whole needs to perform better than we did in 2012.
Jets head coach then took the podium and followed that up be saying the following:
No. 1, you heard about what John talked about, the competition. Bringing in competition at every position, not just the quarterback position. ... That is what we want to do. So to say Mark Sanchez or this quarterback or that quarterback, I think there's clearly going to be competition.
It’s pretty clear that Sanchez is going to be challenged in 2013, and he needs to play better if the Jets are going to get back into contention.
Dee Milliner Needs Surgery
Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is the highest-rated cornerback in the 2013 NFL draft, but he has a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is having surgery after the combine. He will miss the Alabama pro day workout.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the news on Thursday, and it shakes up the draft. Milliner was expected to be in the running to be a top-10 pick. He reported that Milliner suffered the injury last season and didn’t miss any time due to the shoulder problem.
Milliner will do all of the drills except the bench press, and while doctors expect him to be fully recovered in time for training camps to open in July, there is some skepticism as to whether certain teams steer clear early in the draft because of the shoulder issue.
Brandon Weeden Is Available for a Trade
The Cleveland Browns have a new coach, offensive coordinator and general manager, and it is safe to say there will be changes.
Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, new head coach Rob Chudzinski made it clear that starting quarterback, and 2012 first-rounder, Brandon Weeden is available if a team wanted him. He also said that backup quarterback Colt McCoy is also available.
When asked about the availability of both quarterbacks, he said:
We’re looking to improve our team in any areas, by any means of doing that.
Chudzinski also talked more about the approach and what could happen as everything plays out:
We have three guys here that provide competition and we’ll leave it open to whatever happens in terms of any other possible scenarios. We’re going to look at everything, every possibility to try to make the team better. I’m excited about Brandon.
Obviously Colt has been here, has won games, has some unique abilities himself that I’m excited about. Again, getting all those guys in the building and see what they can do and being around them and really getting a chance to really evaluate them. You can look at tape and evaluate tape, but until you’re around guys, until you understand when you’re asking them to do certain things and seeing how they react to that and how they react on the field and how they play ultimately is what decides how far they can go.
It’s entirely fair to call the quarterback situation for the Browns completely open and up in the air, and it is also fair to see Weeden as a player who could get moved during the process.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Is Not Guaranteed Anything from the Bills
Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a six-year, $59 million deal with the team in October of 2011, but his future with the club is completely up in the air, and the Bills aren’t promising him anything as they enter the 2013 season.
There is much uncertainty as to whether the Bills feel that Fitzpatrick is the right player to lead the Bills into the future. The Bills have a new head coach in Doug Marrone, but they kept general manager Buddy Nix in place, and it isn’t entirely out of the possibility that they keep Fitzpatrick, as there is familiarity between Nix and the quarterback.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reports that during an interview Thursday with the Buffalo News, Bills president Russ Brandon was asked whether Fitzpatrick will be on the roster for the next season. According to Rosenthal, Russ basically said “next question”:
The main thing there is we're continuing to evaluate, and that's more in line with how Buddy (Nix) and Doug (Marrone) come out on that. We're looking at everything and evaluating every aspect of the organization.
I'm evaluating the organization from top to bottom. Those guys are evaluating the roster. We'll see where that goes.
Cutting Fitzpatrick isn’t really an option as it wouldn’t free much cap space at all, and it seems as if he will need to restructure his deal if he wants to remain a member of the Bills. However, the Bills aren’t promising him a starting job, or anything else for that matter, at this point.
Matt Barkley Is Going to Blow Away Teams During the Meetings at the Combine
USC quarterback Matt Barkley has been an after-thought for quite some time after entering the 2012 college football season as the nation’s top-ranked quarterback. It’s possible that he was the No. 1 player entering the season, but things did not go well for Barkley at USC during his senior season and his draft stock suffered.
He was also injured late in the season and has missed the All-Star game circuit, and he will not throw the ball here at the combine. He is on track to throw during his pro day workout scheduled for March 27.
Currently, it has become popular to denigrate his arm strength, and it is one of the reasons there is negative media hype right now. The reality is that Barkley is a much better player than some of the other quarterbacks in this class, and he is far more NFL-ready than others because of the USC pro-style system he excelled in during his time in college.
Barkley is a very highly polished player who is going to shine when he meets with teams in person, especially when he can show his football intelligence on the white board. That polish was on display when he met with the media on Friday, and it is an understatement to say that the media were impressed.
Rob Rang of CBSSports.com commented on Barkley’s press conference, and talked about how he thought it could cement him as the first quarterback off the board in April.
At the end of the day, Barkley has the ability to emerge as the best of this year’s group of signal-callers, and potentially the No. 1 overall pick.
Alex Smith Is Going to Get Shopped
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is going to be traded during the 2013 offseason. With the emergence of Colin Kaepernick in the 2012 season, Smith is a player the 49ers don’t necessarily need, but other teams covet.
He is a NFL-proven player who has played very good football and is much less a gamble for teams than any of the 2013 class of quarterbacks is sure to be. Smith would be a nice addition to a team like the Kansas City Chiefs or Arizona Cardinals.
As reported by Marc Sessler of NFL.com, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke spoke to the media on Thursday and confirmed that trading Smith was a possibility:
We're going to look at all options available.
He talked a little more about the situation involving Smith, including the details of a meeting he had with Smith and his wife:
It was excellent. It was Alex and his wife, Liz, and myself, and we had a great meal. We had a great discussion. I can't say enough good things. .... If you ask anyone in our organization, they're going to say the same thing: He is a pro's pro. And have nothing but great respect for him, his family, and we're certainly going to everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved.
It makes sense for the 49ers to strike while the iron is hot and trade a player while he has value. The 49ers need to get as much draft stock as they can for Smith as they are definitely “all-in” on Kaepernick moving forward.
Darrelle Revis Is Not Being Traded
There was quite the uproar a month ago when it was made public that the New York Jets were going to trade star cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis tore his ACL early in the 2012 season and is progressing toward and is in the process of recovering to get ready for the 2013 season.
Initially, the Jets didn’t publicly dismiss the rumors, and it caused Revis to tell the media that he was speechless when he heard that he was going to be traded.
Suffice is to say, Darrelle Revis is a great player. He's a great New York Jet. We're in the business, quite simply, of acquiring, developing and maintaining great players. Darrelle certainly fits that mold. We're happy to have Darrelle as a New York Jet, and we hope to have Darrelle as a New York Jet.
Ryan talked more about the situation and he appeared to be in make-up mode, saying the following about Revis:
Could there be a trade? Yeah, anybody could be traded, but do I expect there to be a trade for Darrelle Revis? No. But that doesn't mean something couldn't come up.
We have not discussed trading Darrelle Revis. Darrelle is under contract, and I can't wait to get Darrelle back there. I wouldn't be shocked if he has the kind of year that Adrian Peterson had (after ACL surgery).
Ryan explained that he called Revis to explain that the reports were not true, telling Revis the following:
Plain and simple, it's not accurate. ... There's no validity to that.
It appears that the Jets are in repair mode in terms of their relationship with Revis, and they should be. Revis is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. They desperately need him to get back to playing the kind of football he played before tearing his ACL.