Rounding Up the Latest Draft Buzz from Around the NFL
The NFL draft is just a month away, and rumors and speculation continue to swirl around the league as teams look at prospects.
This year's draft is arguably one of the deepest in some time. According to NFL.com, 98 underclassmen officially declared for the draft this year, breaking last year's record of 73. With so many talented players leaving college early to go pro, this draft is littered with talent at every position.
With pro days beginning to wind down, let's take a look at some of the latest buzz surrounding the league. Keep in mind that while some of these rumors may be credible, others may not, as teams could be trying to throw the rest of the league off by leaking false rumors.
Tom Savage Climbing Up Draft Boards?
While all of the attention at quarterback in this year's draft has gone to names like Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, former Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage has apparently started to climb up teams' draft boards.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt tweeted that there was a lot of buzz being generated around Savage and that he may be drafted earlier than originally expected.
The most likely reasons Savage has started to turn heads are his impressive size and arm strength. At 6'4" and 228 pounds, he fits the mold of most NFL quarterbacks, and he arguably has one of the strongest arms in this year's class.
However, Savage needs to work on reading opposing defenses and being more aware in the pocket. He will tend to hold on to the ball too long and can struggle going through his progressions. But these are things that can be addressed with the right coaching staff, which makes Savage an intriguing prospect.
New York Jets Interested in Kelvin Benjamin
Geno Smith may have had a rough rookie season with the New York Jets, but he didn't exactly have the best weapons to throw to.
With their first-round pick this year, it seems likely the Jets will draft one of the many talented receivers available. According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, one of the receivers the Jets are really interested in is Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State.
It's not hard to see why the Jets are intrigued by Benjamin. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, he was a red-zone threat for the Seminoles offense, catching 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Benjamin's rare size helps him create a huge mismatch, and opposing defenses are forced to put extra coverage on him.
Right now, Benjamin isn't the most polished prospect at receiver, as he will need to work on running cleaner routes and limiting drops. But given his size, you can't blame the Jets for being interested.
Indiana's Cody Latimer Drawing Serious Attention
It's been a while since the Indiana Hoosiers had a legitimate NFL prospect, but wide receiver Cody Latimer is drawing a lot of attention after his pro day.
After not being able to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine due to a broken bone in his foot, Latimer went through the drills at Indiana's pro day. He turned plenty of heads with a time of 4.44 seconds while also posting a vertical jump of 39 inches (h/t Gil Brandt of NFL.com).
Latimer had a strong 2013 with the Hoosiers, picking up 72 receptions for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns. Considering he's 6'2" and 215 pounds yet still ran such a solid 40-yard dash time, he is understandably climbing up draft boards.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller feels Latimer has a chance to be drafted either late in the first or early in the second round. With his combination of size and speed, Latimer shouldn't have to wait very long to hear his name called at the draft.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Expected to Go Early
Every season, there are a few safeties who stand out. Last year, those names were Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid and Matt Elam, and all three went on to have promising rookie seasons.
This year, Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix appears to be the top safety in the class. While he was originally projected to be selected late in the first round, Daniel Jeremiah from NFL Network tweeted that it doesn't seem likely Clinton-Dix will last longer than No. 13, where the St. Louis Rams could take him.
The pick would make a lot of sense for the Rams. Despite an intimidating front seven, the Rams don't have much help in the secondary, with Rodney McLeod apparently the starting free safety.
With his range and reaction times, Clinton-Dix looks like a Day 1 starter at free safety in the pros. He's a versatile safety who can break up passes and force turnovers in the passing game or come up closer to the line of scrimmage and help in run defense.
In the event that Clinton-Dix does make it past the Rams at No. 13, he probably won't have to wait much longer, as teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers would love to bring him in.
Derek Carr Claims NFL Teams Willing to Add Brother David as Backup
While he doesn't get talked about as often as some of the other quarterbacks, there's still a fairly good chance Derek Carr is taken in the first round.
As Carr has been visiting and talking with teams, apparently some have talked to him about also bringing in his older brother David if they draft him. During an interview on 95.7 The Game, Derek claimed a couple of teams had expressed interest in doing just that:
The main reason they like it is because you're going to get a vet who wants to help the rookie, while at the same time is gonna push me harder than anybody because he wants the best for me.
There's no division in that locker room because we're both rooting for each other. We're not saying one thing behind each other's back.
The Houston Texans selected David Carr with the No. 1 overall pick in 2002, but he never lived up to expectations. After five seasons as the starter for Houston, he became a backup for the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. He is currently a free agent at 34 years old.
Having two brothers at quarterback on the depth chart would be interesting, but it might also work as Derek attempts to prove he's a starting-caliber QB in the NFL.
Patriots Host Both Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater
The New England Patriots made some interesting moves over the past week, causing many to speculate on what they could be doing.
According to Bleacher Report AFC East lead writer Erik Frenz for Boston.com, the Patriots will be hosting both Bridgewater and Manziel before the draft for official visits. The Patriots have the 29th pick in this year's draft.
There could be a number of reasons the team decided to bring them in. One of the reasons Frenz brings up is that the Patriots could use them as trade bait:
It's not out of the question that one of these players could free fall on draft day—just ask Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who was considered by many to be the best quarterback in the 2013 class, only to fall all the way out of the first round. If that happens to either Bridgewater or Manziel, the Patriots could raise the asking price if a team wants to take whichever one is available.
Bringing in both players could very well be a smokescreen, but there's a chance the Patriots could very well be looking for the eventual replacement for Tom Brady, who is 36 years old. His career is starting to wind down, and the Patriots need to start thinking about who the next franchise quarterback will be.
If one of these quarterbacks falls to late in the first round, the Patriots could pick him up and develop him under Brady for the next few years until Brady retires. The Green Bay Packers did the same thing with Aaron Rodgers as he waited behind Brett Favre, and that seemed to work out.
It's hard to know what the Patriots are really doing by bringing in Manziel and Bridgewater, but if either prospect does end up in New England, the team may be set at the position after Brady retires.