Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Chiefs vs. Rams, Surprise Draft News and More

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterNovember 16, 2018

FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018 file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) in action during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. After years of declines, NFL television ratings are showing modest gains. Three of the league’s television partners have shown increases after the first nine week of the season while one remains flat. That is welcome news after ratings decreased 9.7 percent last season and 8 percent in 2016. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)
David Richard/Associated Press

If you were looking forward to watching the AFC-leading Kansas City Chiefs play the NFC-leading Los Angeles Rams on what amounted to a horse pasture in Mexico City...well, you might have been alone and are probably upset the NFL stepped in late to move the game to Los Angeles.

As the 12th hour approached and it looked like the NFL would dig its money-hungry heels in and force the game to be played on conditions 1A high schools in Missouri would be embarrassed by, Bleacher Report reached out to a number of players, coaches and front office members to find out what their reactions were.

"I was really looking forward to it, just to experience it," one Chiefs player said. "The guys really haven't mentioned it. I don't think anyone really thought much of [the field conditions]. I'm very skeptical of the report we weren't going to play there." 

What about player safety? The conditions appeared to be miserable, and there was a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter that multiple players were considering sitting out. Who are these players?

Of the six Chiefs players and four Rams players who spoke to B/R, not one said he would have sat out or heard any player was threatening to sit out. "I didn't hear anything about [sitting out], just read it on Twitter like everyone else," said one player as he laughed. "But guys are happy we don't have to play on a bad field."

The NFL moved the game from Mexico City to Los Angeles because of the bad field conditions but also in part, suggested two players, because of Schefter's report. Still, not one player would go on record as saying the field was bad enough to make him sit out.

"We'll play them anywhere, man," one Rams player said. "I don't care. A game this big, you just want to get out there and play it and test yourself against another great team." And a test it will be. So far, this season's best.

                 

The Scout's Report 

—Earlier this week, I posted my first Big Board of the season and included a note that Ohio State first-year starter Dwayne Haskins wasn't expected by school sources to declare for the upcoming draft. I've now heard differently.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Multiple sources reached out soon after it published and disclosed the offseason plans of Haskins. Barring injury or a massive drop-off in play down the stretch, the plan is for Haskins to leave for the NFL draft after this season.

—Another underclassman quarterback expected to declare is Michigan's Shea Patterson. The source explained that Patterson and Haskins both feel they can drive their stock up in this class and will benefit by not competing with the 2020 group that includes Jake Fromm and Tua Tagovailoa. Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss, also has prized recruit Dylan McCaffrey behind him on the depth chart and looking poised to play next fall. This could, of course, change, but currently, multiple sources expect Michigan to lose Patterson.

—If Haskins and Patterson are in, what happens to Oregon's Justin Herbert? Scouting and school sources continue to maintain that he'll return to school for his senior season. It's believed by those sources that this is the best thing for Herbert, as he's often cited as not having the mental toughness right now to handle the NFL. The downside is that his draft position will likely suffer when he competes with the 2020 group. 

—Michigan State running back LJ Scott has received a fifth year of eligibility due to a medical redshirt and is expected to return to the Spartans next season. A big, powerful back, Scott might be banking on a Royce Freeman- or Nick Chubb-like final season that rehabilitates his draft stock.

                                       

The Big Board

The Big Board's new No. 2 overall player, Quinnen Williams of Alabama.
The Big Board's new No. 2 overall player, Quinnen Williams of Alabama.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press/Associated Press

It's time to update the big board! Here's my most recent top 32:

1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

2. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama

3. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

4. Devin White, LB, LSU

5. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

6. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

7. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

8. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

9. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

10. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

11. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

12. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

13. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

14. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

15. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

16. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

17. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

18. Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson

19. Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

20. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

21. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke 

22. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

23. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

24. Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan

25. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

26. Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU

27. Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame

28. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

29. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

30. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

31. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

32. Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion

                                  

#MillerMailbag

Each week throughout the rest of the season and up until the NFL draft, you can send your questions in via Twitter to be answered here.

Darius Leonard has been unbelievable with the Indianapolis Colts. I liked Leonard (ranked No. 77 on my 2018 board), but he's been much better than expected. His ability to impact the game in all three phases (run, pass, pass rush) has made me rethink his evaluation as a small-school prospect. The Colts deserve a lot of credit for seeing what he could become.

The Jets have a clear need for skill-position upgrades, but this isn't the draft to go for broke at running back or wide receiver. More likely is that the front office will use its huge free-agency coffers to sign a running back (Le'Veon Bell?) and potentially a pass-rusher. This frees them up to go after a best-player-available strategy in the draft. It is a deep EDGE class, and edge-rusher is a need, but drafting in the top five you're going to miss on Nick Bosa unless you have the first spot (which the Jets are unlikely to have). That opens up the door to a potential trade back on draft day. 

Duke's Daniel Jones is one of my favorite quarterback prospects in the class. Technically a junior, he might be Senior Bowl-eligible (like Josh Allen last year) if he has enough credits to graduate at semester. Jones is accurate, athletic and well-coached coming out of David Cutcliffe's offense. He's a realistic option for teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars or Miami Dolphins; clubs that won't be selecting in the top five overall but could be in the teens and need a quarterback. 

          

Parting Shots

6. The NFL season has given us a half-season of games thus far, which means there's a clear picture emerging of what the draft order will look like. Here's the current order based on win-loss percentage and strength of schedule.

1. Oakland Raiders
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New York Giants
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. New York Jets
6. Buffalo Bills
7. Detroit Lions
8. Denver Broncos
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11. Cleveland Browns
12. Indianapolis Colts
13. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Baltimore Ravens
16. Philadelphia Eagles
17. Green Bay Packers
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Seattle Seahawks
20. Tennessee Titans
21. Cincinnati Bengals
22. Minnesota Vikings
23. Houston Texans
24. Washington Redskins
25. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
26. Carolina Panthers
27. New England Patriots
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. Pittsburgh Steelers
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
31. Los Angeles Rams
32. Kansas City Chiefs 

           

5. I recently added an Underclassmen Watch List to the Scouting Notebook, which was the earliest I've done that. So far, three underclassmen have declared: 


Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma (Draft Projection: Round 3)
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State (Draft Projection: First Overall)
Ed Oliver, DL, Houston (Draft Projection: Round 1)

          

4. Game balls for Week 11 of college football:

Taylor Cornelius, QB, Oklahoma State: 34-of-53, 501 yards, 3 TD
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: 31-of-54, 361 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 15 carries, 186 yards, 1 TD
Qadree Ollison, RB, Pitt: 16 carries, 235 yards, 3 TD
D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: 17 carries, 186 yards, 1 TD
Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford: 6 catches, 166 yard, 4 TD

            

3. Here are the college games you'll want to scout this weekend:

Rising QB Will Grier could put up more monster numbers this weekend.
Rising QB Will Grier could put up more monster numbers this weekend.Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

No. 16 Iowa State at No. 15 Texas

No. 24 Cincinnati at No. 11 UCF

No. 9 West Virginia at Oklahoma State

UMass at No. 5 Georgia

          

2. The Stick to Football tailgate tour schedule has one stop left and it's our biggest one yet. Come to THE GAME and see our awesome tailgate RV. Make sure to meet the crew!

November 24: Columbus, Ohio (Michigan vs. Ohio State)

             

1. Stick to Football covers the expected and current NFL coaching vacancies with our top candidates for each job—and there are a lot of them. Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven't already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page. 

                                                             

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

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