Around this time of year, believe what you want when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft.
Rumors are rampant around the league that teams are falling in love with players, sliding top prospects down their board and willing to trade up or down to get the next great star in the NFL.
Pro days and the NFL Scouting Combine concluded a while ago, so private workouts are the only workouts taking place. But information is still being passed around, and the extra month has only made it more ludicrous when it comes to the lead-up to the draft.
With the NFL draft just over a week away, here's some of the latest rumors about the elite college prospects and some analysis on each.
Falcons Still After Clowney, Might Trade Up to the Top
By this point, it's well known that Jadeveon Clowney is considered the most athletic player in the entire draft. He's also one of the hottest commodities on the entire board, and there's one team that appears to want him more than any other.
The Atlanta Falcons clearly want to get their hands on Clowney, and they will take any step necessary to do so, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:
The Falcons are seen by many execs as the team most likely to trade up to first overall with Houston, with Clowney their target. Pass rush remains a big void for the team, which hopes to bounce back to Super Bowl contention after a disastrous 2013. GM Thomas Demitroff has pulled off big draft-day moves in the past and the Texans are very open to trading down, with at least three players under consideration for the top selection.
If La Canfora is correct, it wouldn't be the first time that the Falcons have traded up in the draft to get the talent they wanted. During the 2011 draft, Atlanta made a blockbuster deal to move up for Julio Jones with the No. 6 pick from the Cleveland Browns.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com believes a deal similar to that could be in the works with the Falcons sitting at the No. 6 pick this season:
#Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff doesn’t waste his time. Looking at Jadeveon Clowney signaled the obvious: ATL exploring moving all the way up— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 28, 2014
Much like Jones, Clowney offers supreme talent that doesn't come around very often. The move also fills a need for the Falcons needed in a division in which defenses for the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints have become two of the best in the league.
The move also makes sense for the Texans, a team that looked like a championship contender just two years ago but is now looking for a franchise quarterback, among other needs. If the deal does take place, both teams could come away with what they want and return to the playoffs in 2014.
Zack Martin is Miami's Top Commodity
Ryan Tannehill spent more time on his back during the 2013 season than any other quarterback in the league. The top priority for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL draft is to find an offensive lineman who can stop the bleeding.
Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports the team is extremely high on Zack Martin of Notre Dame:
Sometimes, the pundits are right.
The Dolphins’ interest in Zack Martin is one of those cases.
A slew of mock drafts have the Dolphins taking Martin, a versatile offensive lineman from Notre Dame, with the 19th overall pick.
... Although the Dolphins, as one scout put it, would “fall all over themselves” if Michigan’s Taylor Lewan somehow slipped to them, multiple sources in the know firmly believe Martin is the team’s first-round target on May 8.
All Martin did during his career with the Fighting Irish was serve as a stopgap for the team upfront in nearly every aspect. After surrendering a league-high 58 sacks in 2013, adding a player like Martin or Taylor Lewan would make a huge dent in the offseason moves necessary to make this team great.
Thanks to both his versatility as either a right or left tackle and the ability to play guard at the next level, Martin will make a great addition for whichever teams selects him. If he ultimately lands with the Dolphins, Tannehill might just have a new best friend.
Is Tom No. 2 in the 2014 Draft for Patriots?
As with any great quarterback, no matter how legendary he might be, the search for a successor has to take place before the end of his career.
For the New England Patriots, Tom Brady will be 37 years old when the 2014 season gets underway and will soon be in the twilight of his illustrious career. Luckily for the franchise, the next Tommy Terrific is in this year's draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net:
The talk of the quarterback position the past few weeks has centered around Tom Savage of Pittsburgh. So what’s the inside story? Ever since the combine I’ve known the New England Patriots have been incredibly high on Savage and will consider using a pick to acquire the signal caller during the draft.
Some in the organization are now referring to Savage as “Tom #2”, with Tom #1 of course being Tom Brady. I’m told Savage impressed the franchise during combine interviews, especially when former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was on hand. ... Teams who’ve studied tape on Savage from last season broke it into halves and feel the second half of the campaign, when the signal caller lessened his mistakes and improved his accuracy, is the next level prospect they can build upon.
Well, that makes the process easier. The Patriots should just go ahead and draft Tom Savage, and they have the next Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers on their roster, right?
Not exactly, as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report points out:
Final big board notes—I have 10 quarterbacks graded higher than Tom Savage, but he's probably drafted much higher than QB11.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 24, 2014
Does this mean that Savage will definitely go to the Patriots and become Brady's successor? No, not necessarily. There are several teams that might have a chance to take Savage beforehand.
It also doesn't mean that Savage will now be a first-round selection. But if the rumors are true and the quarterback does eventually end up with the Patriots, the franchise might once again be able to develop a signal-caller from the later rounds into a great quarterback like it did with Brady.
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