Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Latest on QBs, New 2-Round Mock Draft and More

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 14, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina State won 28-21.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

No position in sports receives more attention, more credit and more blame than quarterback in the NFL. It's the ultimate spot where you can't win a title without a good one—just look at the last 14 Super Bowl champions as evidence of that.

Quarterbacks drive the NFL, which is why every team is obsessed with finding, developing or acquiring a franchise passer. And even those teams with an aging starter—and in some cases a future Hall of Famer—are always looking for the next guy.

Of the 32 teams in the league, I count 14 with a legitimate shot at taking a quarterback early this year: Buffalo, New York Jets, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, Washington, Chicago, New Orleans, Arizona and San Francisco. And those are just the teams that would take a quarterback in the first three rounds.

Supply and demand are fascinating parts of team building, and this year's quarterback crop has been overlooked and designated as poor because there isn't an Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston at the top. The one thing that hasn't been articulated well to the public is that this quarterback class is deep. Real deep.

Mitchell Trubisky will be a first-rounder, and it's becoming more likely that Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes will be, too. Three quarterbacks in Round 1 would match last year's number. There's also a solid chance DeShone Kizer and Davis Webb go in the first 32 picks. The last time five quarterbacks went in the top 32? 1999.

As we hit the two-week mark before the April 27 draft, talk regarding the 2017 class has come full circle. Evaluators might not love any quarterback in this class enough to trade up for him, but we could see an 18-year high set in terms of how many are selected in the first round.

What else is happening as teams finish draft meetings? 

  • Updated two-round mock draft
  • Myles Garrett's draft grade
  • Latest NFL draft rumors
  • Scouting in 140
  • Fixing the Jacksonville Jaguars

               

The Scout's Report

—The New York Jets brought in North Carolina's Trubisky for a workout Thursday, according to multiple outlets. The Jets have been connected to the quarterback throughout the draft process. They remain a buttoned-up front office, but I don't buy that the team is as interested in Trubisky as it's letting on. My hunch: The Jets would love for a team to trade ahead of them to take Trubisky.

Could Mitch Trubisky get drafted over Myles Garrett (pictured)?
Could Mitch Trubisky get drafted over Myles Garrett (pictured)?Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press/Associated Press

—Our own Mike Freeman had a great piece this week covering rumors for every team in the league. One notable nugget: The Cleveland Browns are torn internally on what to do with pick No. 1. Freeman wrote the front office wants Myles Garrett and head coach Hue Jackson wants Trubisky. This meshes with what I heard at the combine from a scout: Jackson likes Trubisky a lot. He might get a chance to draft him at No. 12 overall.

—One more quarterback note: If you're looking for a Mahomes landing spot, two teams I'm told by scouts and general managers that really like him are the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs.

—Two players invited to the NFL draft in Philadelphia declined invites: Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams and Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson. Both will spend time with family at home.

—If you're looking for a surprise name invited to the draft, Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie might be the least well-known of the 22 invitees.

—Scouting sources with the Tennessee Titans have confirmed the team's interest in Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Clemson wide receiver Williams. If Lattimore is on the board at No. 5 overall, I expect he'll be the team's pick. If Lattimore is gone, to Chicago for example, look for Williams to get heavy consideration.

—As mentioned above, Lattimore to Chicago is a hot rumor among NFL general managers. One executive I spoke with felt "99 percent sure" the Bears would draft a defensive back if they keep the No. 3 overall pick.

—The New Orleans Saints are in "win-now" mode, according to a front office source. With the No. 11 pick, the team would love to see Alabama's Reuben Foster on the board, I've been told.

                       

5 Names to Know

After spending all week on the phone with NFL scouts, coaches and general managers, I'm hearing these five names are moving way up draft boards. These late surges happen as team information leaks to the media, and each of the five players listed below has a chance to hear his name called in the first round.

          

5. Wide Receiver Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

"Don't be surprised if Samuel goes ahead of Dalvin Cook," is what one scout texted me this week. Samuel, who played running back and wide receiver at Ohio State (the same role Braxton Miller played), has elite skills as a speed player. He can affect the game as a runner, receiver and return man. That value—and teams seeing what someone like Tyreek Hill can do to an offense—has pushed up his stock.

          

4. Defensive Lineman Chris Wormley, Michigan

"He was overshadowed in that defense, but the dude can play!" a scout said. 

Wormley hasn't been a hot name among draft analysts, but the scout I spoke to said it wouldn't be a surprise if in a weak defensive tackle class, Wormley heard his name called much earlier than we all expect. Wormley is a big man (6'5", 298 lbs) with the skill set to be an instant starter in a 3-4 defense. I project him as more of a top-50 kind of guy, but there's buzz building that he could go higher.

            

3. Edge-Rusher Derek Barnett, Tennessee

"After Myles Garrett, he's the best true edge in the class."

Scouts I spoke to for this article praised Barnett's effort and production. He didn't have the most amazing 40-yard dash times (4.88 seconds), but his tape against SEC competition was impressive. Teams drafting in the middle of the first round that need an outside pass-rusher (Indianapolis, Baltimore, Tampa Bay) could all call Barnett's name.

           

2. Linebacker Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

LB Zach Cunningham.
LB Zach Cunningham.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

"I know we like him, and I don't think he'll get to us."

That's what a team scout told me about Cunningham, who was considered a Round 1 prospect before the combine but started to slip due to concerns about his play power and tackling skills. But as one coach told me, "Cunningham missed some tackles, but did you see how many he made?"

                            

1. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

"Guys that fast and that physical go in the first round," said a scout.

Humphrey's tape isn't the best of the 2017 cornerback class, but his upside and traits are eye-opening. Teams like the New Orleans Saints or Tennessee Titans in the middle of the first round are likely targets for Humphrey. And as one rival scout told me, "don't rule out the Ravens with that Alabama connection."

                  

Two-Round Mock Draft

As more information and moves come into focus, there's never a bad time to update the mock draft. That's what today's focus will be, with a two-round mock based entirely on what I'm hearing teams will do. 

Updated 2-Round Mock Draft
Round/PickPlayer
1. ClevelandDE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
2. San FranciscoRB Leonard Fournette, LSU
3. ChicagoCB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
4. JacksonvilleDL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
5. Tennessee (from Rams)WR Mike Williams, Clemson
6. New York JetsS Jamal Adams, LSU
7. Los Angeles ChargersS Malik Hooker, Ohio State
8. CarolinaRB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
9. CincinnatiLB Reuben Foster, Alabama
10. BuffaloQB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
11. New OrleansCB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
12. Cleveland (from Eagles)CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
13. ArizonaLB Haason Reddick, Temple
14. Philadelphia (from Vikings)CB Quincy Wilson, Florida
15. IndianapolisEDGE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
16. BaltimoreTE O.J. Howard, Alabama
17. WashingtonDL Jonathan Allen, Alabama
18. TennesseeCB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
19. Tampa BayRB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
20. DenverOT Garett Bolles, Utah
21. DetroitTE David Njoku, Miami (FL)
22. MiamiOG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
23. New York GiantsQB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
24. OaklandLB Jarrad Davis, Florida
25. HoustonOT Cam Robinson, Alabama
26. SeattleCB Kevin King, Washington
27. Kansas CityQB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
28. DallasCB Tre'Davious White, LSU
29. Green BayEDGE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
30. PittsburghS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
31. AtlantaOG Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
32. New Orleans (Patriots)LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Round 2-----------------
33. ClevelandWR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
34. San FranciscoDE Charles Harris, Missouri
35. JacksonvilleRB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
36. ChicagoS Budda Baker, Washington
37. Los Angeles RamsWR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
38. Los Angeles ChargersQB Davis Webb, California
39. New York JetsCB Adoree' Jackson, USC
40. CarolinaTE Evan Engram, Ole Miss
41. CincinnatiRB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
42. New OrleansDE Taco Charlton, Michigan
43. PhiladelphiaWR John Ross, Washington
44. BuffaloWR Zay Jones, East Carolina
45. ArizonaQB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
46. IndianapolisG Dan Feeney, Indiana
47. BaltimoreEDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
48. MinnesotaS Marcus Maye, Florida
49. WashingtonCB Obi Melifonwu, UConn
50. Tampa BayWR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
51. DenverDL Malik McDowell, Michigan State
52. Cleveland (from Titans)S Josh Jones, North Carolina State
53. DetroitDE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
54. MiamiCB Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson
55. New York GiantsLB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
56. OaklandWR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
57. HoustonCB Sidney Jones, Washington
58. SeattleDE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
59. Kansas CityCB Rasul Douglas, West Virginia
60. DallasS Justin Evans, Texas A&M
61. Green BayRB D'Onta Foreman, Texas
62. PittsburghTE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
63. AtlantaDL Montravius Adams, Auburn
64. Carolina (from Patriots)DE Tarell Basham, Ohio
Matt Miller

 

 

Parting Shots 

10. Many have asked what I would do to fix a team since mock drafts are based on what I'm hearing franchises will do and not an opinion on what they should do. Using Fanspeak's On the Clock tool, here's my seven-round mock draft on how I'd fix the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Fixing the Jacksonville Jaguars
Round/PickPlayer
1/4DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
2/35RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
3/68QB Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL)
4/110S Desmond King, Iowa
5/148CB Shaquill Griffin, Central Florida
6/187TE Eric Saubert, Drake
7/222OT Aviante Collins, TCU
7/240DL Harold Brantley, Missouri
Matt Miller

 

9. As our NFL Draft 400 series rolls on, it seems important to note just how well Garrett graded out.

The Texas A&M defensive end scored an 8.5 on the grading scale. For comparison, last year's best grade was a 7.99. That was handed out to Jalen Ramsey and a healthy Myles Jack. In 2015, the highest grade was 7.50 to both Winston and Leonard Williams.

Garrett's 8.50 is the highest since Luck and Von Miller, respectively. Both received a 9.0 on my grading scale, which equates to a rare, once-in-a-lifetime talent. 

To live up to that mark and the status as third-best grade, Garrett will have to not just excel early in his career but also sustain the success. Jadeveon Clowney is another highly graded player over the last five years, but his early struggles to stay healthy have affected how many view him (even though he was a stud in 2016). Garrett, like so many great pass-rushers before him, will have a massive spotlight on his play early and often.

       

8. On Thursday night, the NFL released the list of 22 players invited to the 2017 draft in Philadelphia. Here's that list, via NFL director of communications Randall Liu:

 

 

Players invited to the draft aren't guaranteed to go in the first round, but the NFL goes to great lengths to make sure the players invited aren't sitting around for three days. If you're on this list, people in the NFL headquarters have heard you're a top-50 prospect.

 

7. A few weeks back, we took a look at how the Cleveland Browns have been rebuilding this offseason. Today, we take a deep-dive look at what the Indianapolis Colts have done in new general manager Chris Ballard's first offseason.

Ballard has added tough, low-cost free agents who will come in and make a big impact on the defensive front seven. Armed with pick No. 15 in the first round, the Colts could still add a marquee pass-rusher in the draft, too, while taking advantage of the deepest running back class in recent memory in the middle rounds.

        

Signed

  • LB John Simon (free agent)
  • P Jeff Locke (free agent)
  • TE Jack Doyle (extension)
  • LB Barkevious Mingo (free agent)
  • LB Jabaal Sheard (free agent)
  • RB Robert Turbin (extension)
  • CB Darius Butler (extension)
  • NT Al Woods (free agent)
  • LB Sean Spence (free agent)
  • TE Brandon Williams (free agent)
  • DL Johnathan Hankins (free agent)

 

 

Traded 

  • TE Dwayne Allen (and a sixth-round pick) to New England Patriots for 2017 fourth-round pick

 

Released

  • ILB D'Qwell Jackson
  • DL Arthur Jones

 

 

6. This week's Scouting in 140 takes a look at five of my favorite sleeper prospects in the class. Up first, Mack Hollins (North Carolina WR):

 

5. Ben Boulware (Clemson LB):

 

4. Nate Gerry (Nebraska S):

 

3. Jerome Lane (Akron WR):

 

2. Brendan Langley (Lamar CB):

 

1. Our NFL Draft 400 series began April 3, with full scouting reports and player comparisons for the top 400 players in the 2017 class. Starting with the quarterbacks, here are the completed profiles so far:

             

Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.