NFL rumor season is in full swing as the NFL draft continues its slow advance, and through the barrage of misinformation and the like, notable rumblings are worth a closer examination.
Certain nuggets that aren't too outlandish and hold some semblance of possibility are always worth analysis, regardless of intent from those who let the info loose.
Whether it's a surprise interest that makes sense or a sleeper team looking to make a major jump, the following buzz is worth recording in the mental logs in order to not be caught off-guard come draft day.
Johnny Manziel Bound for Tampa Bay?
There's not one person around the globe who properly understands how the NFL feels and will act in regard to the upcoming quarterback class.
The chief question mark is Johnny Manziel. Touting a big arm and athleticism to extend plays, but sometimes displaying poor decision-making, the Texas A&M product could go anywhere from No. 1 overall to out of the first round entirely—depending on whom you ask.
According to ESPN's Ed Werder, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have a tough time passing on Manziel should he fall to No. 7 overall:
Bucs would seriously consider Johnny Manziel if on the board at 7th pick. Team sees him as very unique, good arm and accuracy, great athlete— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 24, 2014
The pairing would make sense. New coach Lovie Smith needs to find a quality option under center. He has Mike Glennon, who apparently isn't trustworthy after the front office elected to bring in Luke McCown—who found success in Chicago last year, but in the confines of a quarterback-friendly Marc Trestman offense.
Really, Tampa Bay's roster needs are an odd fit with the value of its high pick. Receiver? Sure, grab a guy like Mike Evans. Offensive tackle is a legit option, but odds are the right value such as Greg Robinson won't fall.
Why not take a risk on Manziel? He touts a somewhat rare set of skills that both presents major bust potential and an upside worthy of the investment.
San Francisco 49ers May Be "Aggressive"
It's a tough sell for a team to move up this year. After all, look around—most concur that this is the deepest draft in years. Even if a team is truly sold on a prospect, the value differential of standing pat both saves resources and still nets a similar prospect, right?
The San Francisco 49ers may not be of that mindset. As one of the teams potentially one piece away from title contention, a few obvious needs stick out. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, via Rotoworld's Evan Silva, the 49ers have the look of a team ready to take a major gamble:
ESPN's Chris Mortensen suggested Mike Evans as a trade-up target for #49ers. Mort hearing Niners "could be very aggressive in this draft."— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 25, 2014
It's interesting that Evans' name is thrown out there. The 49ers already have a big-bodied target in Anquan Boldin on board, and there isn't a ton of other room for contributions with Michael Crabtree across from him.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller concurs and offers a better alternative:
#49ers have been linked to Mike Evans and Cody Latimer this week, but I still believe Odell Beckham is best fit for their needs.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 26, 2014
Alright, so let's scrap the wideout conversation, especially the Evans portion, who may just be a smokescreen so the team can grab an Odell Beckham Jr.—or a pass-rusher.
Or a surprise. Either way, each year a contender with a late pick is pegged as a potential aggressor. This year, keep a keen eye on the 49ers.
Arizona on the Hunt for a Quarterback?
It's not all that hard to guess that Arizona head coach Bruce Arians will be on the hunt for a quarterback at some point in the next few years, as starter Carson Palmer will turn 35 in December.
But Palmer surely has a few years left, so conventional wisdom says Arians and the front office in the desert were going to use the first few picks in this year's draft to beef up the talent around him.
Or not. According to the MMQB's Peter King, Arizona is hot for two quarterbacks in particular who may cost them a pick in the opening rounds:
Arizona is sweet on a couple of quarterbacks, Derek Carr and A.J. McCarron, who are first- and second-round possibilities. With coach Bruce Arians’ love of the deep ball, McCarron in round two seems a bit of a reach. I will say this about McCarron: He doesn’t have a great deep arm by any standard, but he’s an accurate deep-ball thrower when he does air it out.
Interesting. Carr is hailed by most as a first-round pick. He put up gaudy numbers at Fresno State last year (5,083 yards and 50 touchdowns) in a quarterback-friendly offense and has plenty of upside. The basis for taking him at No. 20 overall is the fact he won't be around by the next time the Cardinals pick.
McCarron is a different beast as one of the more polarizing signal-callers in the class. Many bump him down based on the talent around him at Alabama and a weak arm, but NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah makes an interesting case for him to the Cardinals, via Bryan Fischer of NFL.com:
I look at a team like the Arizona Cardinals. You've got Carson Palmer in his mid-30's. Get another year or two out of him and groom AJ McCarron. He doesn't have a big arm, but I don't think you need one in that division. You're playing indoors and on the West Coast a lot. I'd think he'd fit nicely in there and get the last couple of years of Larry Fitzgerald's career.
Given the overall depth of the class and no immediate need under center, it says a lot about either quarterback prospect if they end up in Arizona. Arians knows his signal-callers and would make a significant investment if he likes what he sees, which means "his guy" in the opening rounds of the 2014 class has the franchise on his shoulders while learning from Palmer.