The NFL draft rumor mill is still churning out some interesting information as the first round approaches on Thursday, April 26. Some notes may come to fruition. Others may not and will never be thought of again. Regardless, it's always fun to speculate and picture how they could all play out.
Here's a look at a few of the latest rumors, in addition to odds (via OddsShark) for the No. 1 pick and some potential surprises that we could see in the top 12 of the first round.
Odds: No. 1 Pick
USC Quarterback Sam Darnold: 3-7
Wyoming Quarterback Josh Allen: 7-4
Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley: 4-1
UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen: 10-1
Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield: 33-1
North Carolina Defensive End Bradley Chubb: 33-1
Alabama Defensive Back Minkah Fitzpatrick: 66-1
Todd McShay of ESPN (h/t Ryan Talbot of NYup.com) wrote the following regarding a potential blockbuster first-round trade:
"I'm hearing a lot of buzz that a deal could happen between Buffalo and the Giants at No. 2. The strong-armed [Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen] fits the AFC East, and the Bills can be patient with him as AJ McCarron can start in 2018. Allen has the highest upside of the quarterbacks in this class, but he also might need the most polish."
That would seem to jive with a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who passed this along on Monday: "I spoke to several general managers over the weekend who are watching what the Giants do with the second pick very closely, and all believed that while the Giants surely are big fans of Barkley, a trade is highly likely and there could be more going on here than immediately meets the eye."
La Canfora also quoted a general manager who said that "[Bills general manager Brandon Beane] is trying like hell to get up and get a quarterback."
Although it could behoove the Giants to acquire as many draft picks as possible to add some depth at key positions (e.g. offensive line and cornerback), they can go a few different routes and don't necessarily have to partner with Buffalo.
Still, in a potential Giants-Bills deal, Big Blue holds the leverage. The Giants can easily sit tight at No. 2 and take the top player (and/or quarterback) on their board. Or they can trade down with another team looking to move up to No. 2, perhaps the Denver Broncos from No. 5.
A quick look at the Drafttek trade value chart reveals that the Giants' No. 2 overall selection is worth 2,600 points. The Bills' two first-rounders, their No. 53 overall pick, No. 96 selection and fourth-rounder would get them just beyond that 2,600-point threshold, but Big Blue should hold out for more if Buffalo is that desperate to trade up for a quarterback.
Therefore, the Bills may have to offer a monster deal for the Giants to pull this off. Perhaps the Bills' 2019 first-round pick could be in play, or their top five 2018 draft choices (all in the top 65).
Ultimately, a Bills-Giants trade could be a win-win for both sides: Buffalo gets its franchise quarterback, and the Giants get a few needed pieces to rebuild after a miserable 3-13 season. Will it happen?
Guice to the Seahawks?
The Seattle Seahawks running game struggled all of 2017 due to a perfect storm: a bad offensive line, injuries and running back play that did not meet expectations. Quarterback Russell Wilson ended up being the team's leading rusher with 586 yards (no one else eclipsed 240).
Seattle could use some help at the position, which is why it may have a serious interest in a particular prospect, per Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly:
There is no clear-cut starter on the Seahawks roster right now. Chris Carson showed promise with 267 total yards from scrimmage on just 56 touches, but how will be bounce back after a season-ending broken leg last year? C.J. Prosise had only 17 touches in five games.
Mike Davis was the feature back for a few games and fared well against the Philadelphia Eagles (101 yards from scrimmage) and less so in others (15 carries for 25 yards against the Dallas Cowboys).
Ultimately, the backfield is there for the taking, and Guice could be that person who assumes the hold. In an odd coincidence, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com's pro comparison for Guice was former Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch, who played six seasons for the 'Hawks and helped them win two conference championships and a Super Bowl. Perhaps Guice will end up being Lynch 2.0 in Seattle.
AFC East Quarterback News
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News dropped some interesting nuggets in a Wednesday mailbag piece in regards to the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The Jets rumor is first up, primarily in regards to Gang Green's reported take on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield relative to his peers in this draft class:
"The people in the organization that I spoke to loved Baker Mayfield's fire, competitiveness and leadership, but thought he was a tick below Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen at that time. However, they cautioned that there was still an important part of the evaluation process that included pro days—and more importantly—the impending private workouts and visits to Florham Park."
Mehta also noted that the team is "divided" on which quarterback to take at No. 3.
Another AFC East team could be convinced that Mayfield is the heir apparent to their current starter, however, as Mehta noted the following in regards to a Pats connection:
"The Patriots' blockbuster trade with the Rams Tuesday night gave Bill Belichick more draft capital ammunition to try to trade up for Tom Brady's heir apparent. Could the Evil Empire rocket all the way up to No. 2 by making a deal with the Giants? A few teams in the top 10, including the Jets, are fully aware of the Patriots' affinity for Mayfield."
The Pats have four picks in the top 63 (including No. 23 and No. 31 overall) thanks in part to a deal that sent wideout Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams.
Although that's an impressive haul, it's certainly possible that Mayfield goes in the top five. Perhaps the Denver Broncos are interested in obtaining the Pats' first four selections for No. 5, but falling 18 spots in the first round is still a steep drop. A Giants-Pats trade is hard to fathom itself given the 21-spot drop the Giants would endure.
Still, as La Canfora noted, one can't help but wonder whether this move sets up for the Pats to find the heir apparent to Tom Brady, who will be 41 years old when next season begins. Brady's contract runs through 2019, although he previously told Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com that he'd like to play until his mid-40s.
Although Brady won't turn 45 until 2022, that plan wouldn't necessarily preclude the Pats from taking a quarterback and having him learn under the five-time Super Bowl winner for his remaining years with the team.
For example, Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers sat for three years behind starter Brett Favre before taking over, and that time learning on the sidelines undoubtedly helped him become one of the game's all-time greats.
Here's what Rodgers had to say, per Jonathan Auping of dallascowboys.com, about sitting behind Favre from 2005-2007: "It was the most important three years of my career. It gave me an opportunity to put myself in a position to have a long career in the league...it was really beneficial for me."
Therefore, we could see a young signal-caller sit behind Brady for three (or even four) years before taking over by the age of 25 or so. You can't get a much better apprenticeship than that.
It's safe to say that two quarterbacks will be going to the Cleveland Browns and Jets in the top three, but what happens if the rest of the teams in the top 11 decide to (a) stay put and (b) pick a non-quarterback?
That scenario would be surprising but plausible. Three prospects seem a cut above the rest in this draft: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson. It wouldn't be shocking to see those three, in some order, go in the top five to the Giants, Browns (with the fourth pick) and Broncos.
The next five teams on the draft ledger (the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders) have made heavy investments in 20-something quarterbacks, so they're all headed elsewhere for their picks.
The Miami Dolphins are a wild card. Starter Ryan Tannehill has shown positive flashes in his first few years, but his Miami tenure has been up and down overall. He's also coming off a torn ACL that forced him to miss the season. The Dolphins could go quarterback if they feel Tannehill is not the long-term solution, or they could perhaps go defense to beef up a unit that gave up the fourth-most points in the league last year.
That would leave the Bills in an incredible position where they land a top quarterback prospect without trading up again. The concern there is that it's possible teams below them (e.g. the Arizona Cardinals and Patriots) look to move ahead of the Bills if a few signal-callers fall out of the top five.
Still, a scenario in which the Bills can get a desired quarterback without a trade-up is a possibility (albeit a remote one that requires a lot of picks to go their way).