2019 NFL Draft: Latest Buzz Surrounding Every Team
The NFL streets are talking—and they're not using their inside voices.
While draft rumors and more rational opinions take over the NFL news cycle, sprinkles of truth can be pulled from the discourse.
Some general managers have been upfront about their draft plans, putting up proverbial "open for business" signs regarding pick swaps. Other clubs continue to keep in-house plans under wraps. Those silent movers and shakers require the closest attention.
It's common for teams to schedule predraft workouts to more closely examine prospects, but it doesn't definitively indicate interest. At times, it's a smokescreen to veil real intentions. However, it's fair to say clubs want to do their due diligence in preparation for an unpredictable selection process.
We'll delve into prospect visits, rumors and buzz coming from individuals close to all 32 teams before the draft. What's the latest chatter surrounding each club?
Arizona Cardinals Negotiating Contract with Kyler Murray?
The links between the Arizona Cardinals and Kyler Murray continue to spark discussion. ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio attempted to connect the dots when he noted the quarterback's agent, Erik Burkhardt, attended a meeting between the prospect and team:
It would make sense for the Cardinals to want to get Murray signed to an agreement that includes a no-baseball clause before putting his name on the first 2019 draft card … If Murray ends up signing a contract at the time he’s picked, the negotiations leading up to that deal are something that everyone will keep quiet until the moment Burkhardt produces the final draft from his briefcase in the green room.
There's quite a bit to unpack. Maybe Florio is on to something. Then again, Burkhardt's presence may have other unknown implications. Regardless, it's clear the Cardinals have their options wide open.
Josh Rosen is a second-year quarterback—a time when support and confidence greatly impact the leap between rookie and sophomore seasons. The Cardinals didn't allow the UCLA product to address the media after their first offseason workout. In reality, there's much uncertainty about his long-term future with the team.
Rosen said "nine mistakes were made ahead of me" after he went 10th overall in the 2018 draft. What's going through his mind as the Cardinals talk to Murray with his agent? Even if Florio is off-base in his thoughts about early contract negotiation, Arizona has done nothing to quell the quarterback rumors. There's a good chance the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner lands in the desert as the No. 1 overall pick.
Atlanta Falcons Work Out 4 Oklahoma Offensive Linemen
The Atlanta Falcons will have two holdovers on the offensive line in the upcoming season, center Alex Mack and left tackle Jake Matthews. The team parted ways with Ryan Schraeder and allowed Andy Levitre to hit the open market. Guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown signed multiyear deals with the club.
Falcons' brass took a look at four-fifths of Oklahoma's 2018 starting offensive line, per ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure. Atlanta's projected replacement starters across the front, Ty Sambrailo (right tackle), Carpenter (left guard) and Brown (right guard) could face stiff competition if the front office lands one of the former Sooners.
It's not overcompensation if the club wants to explore more options for the offensive line, especially with new faces jockeying for starting spots. In 2018, quarterback Matt Ryan took 42 sacks, the second-most in his career, and the offensive line ranked 24th in adjusted line yards attributed to the five-man group in the trenches, per Football Outsiders.
Clearly, general manager Thomas Dimitroff wants a stronger pocket for Ryan and wider running lanes to boost last year's 27th-ranked ground attack.
Don't Expect the Baltimore Ravens to Move Up in Draft Order
It's the season for half-truths, but general manager Eric DeCosta had a predraft press conference to discuss pressing roster matters. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic deciphered notable quotes to give his take on the front-office executive's plan for the selection process.
The Baltimore Ravens have a late first-round pick, and they don't have a second-rounder because of a trade into the 32nd overall spot to land quarterback Lamar Jackson last year. Zrebiec expects a move back in the upcoming draft.
"DeCosta acknowledged on several occasions that the Ravens have the draft capital to move up from the 22nd slot in the first round if there is a guy they covet available," Zrebiec wrote. "He also acknowledged the team’s history of making draft-day trades that increase their haul of picks. With their number of needs and the depth available, the latter scenario seems more likely to play out this year."
Baltimore will likely add multiple wide receivers to surround Jackson with perimeter playmakers. The draft has depth at the position, so the Ravens could land their ideal pass-catcher on Day 2 if they're not overly impressed with a player at No. 22.
Could the Buffalo Bills Draft Another Quarterback?
There's no quarterback controversy in Buffalo. The front office moved up to the seventh overall spot for Josh Allen last year. Nonetheless, the Bills could take another signal-caller in the upcoming draft to fill the primary backup role.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Bills worked out quarterback Tyree Jackson, a local who started three years at Buffalo. He threw for 6,999 yards, 49 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
At 6'7", 249 pounds, Jackson has a big arm and mobility in the pocket. Because Allen frequently uses his legs to escape pressure, there's a threat to his health. In 2018, he ran the ball 89 times, fourth-most among quarterbacks, and missed four contests with a UCL injury.
Jackson could mimic Allen's ability to keep plays alive with movement and stretch the field with cannon-like arm strength. The Buffalo product will likely remain available in the late rounds, but he could become an important component to the roster if Allen misses a few games per year because of injury.
Carolina Panthers Have Needs at Safety or Nickelback
According to head coach Ron Rivera (h/t Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue), the Panthers intend to give Rashaan Gaulden a shot at the primary slot cornerback spot, which opens a need at safety alongside Eric Reid.
Gaulden has safety and nickelback experience at the collegiate level, but the Carolina Panthers will likely select multiple defensive backs to maintain flexibility. Rodrigue highlighted the shift in need based on the Tennessee product's fit in the secondary:
Nickel has been a team need for either free agency or the draft — and Carolina hasn’t picked up a nickel in free agency, making drafting one a likelier option. If Gaulden wins the nickel job, he won’t be able to play safety (the Panthers are in nickel more than most other NFL teams). So that would make safety a higher draft priority.
In the best-case scenario, the Panthers would land a defensive back who can also transition between nickelback and safety. Among the top defensive back prospects in the draft, Delaware's Nasir Adderley fits the bill. He split his years at both spots as a collegian and possesses the coverage skills to shadow wide receivers.
Chicago Bears Unlikely to Trade Up
The Chicago Bears don't have a first- or second-round pick this April. The Oakland Raiders acquired pick No. 24 in the Khalil Mack trade. And Chicago sent a second-rounder and a fourth-rounder to the New England Patriots in order to move up for wideout Anthony Miller at No. 51 last year.
Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs doesn't see a likely scenario in which the Bears move up for a player this year:
My hunch is that the Bears are less likely to trade up than stay put or trade down. I say that because the franchise’s draft inventory for 2019 and ’20 is thin, with a total of three picks in the first three rounds: a third-rounder in 2019, their second-rounder in 2020 and the Raiders’ second-rounder in 2020.
Unless general manager Ryan Pace absolutely must have a certain prospect, the Bears should either keep their current picks or move down to acquire more draft capital. The front office doesn't have major holes to fill on the roster, which allows the team to take what's available instead of giving up assets to fill a need.
Cincinnati Bengals Unlikely to Take a QB at No. 11
The Cincinnati Bengals have quarterback Andy Dalton under team control for two more seasons. Although ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell doesn't think the team would draft a signal-caller in the first round, she didn't completely rule out the scenario:
I'm not going to totally rule out the thought. Bengals of course say Dalton is their guy, but they ruled out an extension this year (which isn't surprising, usually they only do extensions in the last year), implying he needs to prove it. So while I say unlikely, not impossible.
The Bengals don't owe Dalton dead money on the last two years of his deal; the club can cleanly cut ties without a financial burden over time.
Cincinnati hired head coach Zac Taylor to replace Marvin Lewis. It's possible the new lead skipper may want a quarterback of his choice under center if Dalton struggles in the upcoming season.
Even if the Bengals pass on a quarterback at No. 11, the front office may consider signal-callers available with the 42nd selection like Will Grier or Jarrett Stidham. Keep in mind, Dalton joined this team as a second-round pick (No. 35 overall) in 2011.
Cleveland Browns Interested in 1st-Round Pick
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey pulled off a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants, acquiring wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in exchange for safety Jabrill Peppers, first- and third-round picks.
The Browns gave up the No. 17 overall spot in the deal, but Dorsey will consider moving into the first round, per Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot:
We’ll try to plan for every scenario that we can. If we deem that there’s a player to move up for – that’s a hypothetical – if you think the player can help you, you go up and do it. You have to plan for them, but then you have to execute them on the day of the draft.
Barring upward movement, Cleveland will go on the clock for the first time at No. 49. Since he accepted the Browns' general manager role, Dorsey has been a force in the trade market. Before the Beckham transaction, he acquired defensive end Olivier Vernon in exchange for guard Kevin Zeitler. Last offseason, the executive landed safety Damarious Randall and wideout Jarvis Landry in separate transactions.
Based on Cabot's report, Dorsey has first-round grades for more than 15 prospects. This suggests we might see the Browns, who hold eight middle- to late-round picks, execute a deal with a team like the Seattle Seahawks who have just four total draft picks and a need for draft capital.
Dallas Cowboys Aren't Desperate for a Safety
The Dallas Cowboys inked safety George Iloka to a one-year contract, and he'll list behind Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods on the depth chart. Is the 28-year-old enough to keep the team out of the hunt for help at the position?
Iloka doesn't ensure the Cowboys will look past safeties in the upcoming draft, but Mickey Spagnola of the team's official website doesn't think it's a pressing need. "Don’t get hung up on the Cowboys just having to draft a safety with the 58th pick," he wrote. "It’s not like it is safety or bust. It’s not like they are so desperate for a safety they have to reach for one."
Spagnola considers the Cowboys' draft habits. The franchise selected six safeties in the first two rounds over the last 58 years. With two starters and depth in place, Dallas can afford to look elsewhere with its second-round pick. The front office could add insurance for offensive tackle La'el Collins, who's recovering from rotator cuff surgery.
Denver Broncos Won't Take a Quarterback in the 1st Round
The Denver Broncos may have a clever smokescreen plan, or they're genuinely interested in a top prospect at quarterback.
According to 9 News' Mike Klis, Denver worked out Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones, all potential first-rounders. The club also took a look at Clayton Thorson, Will Grier and Jarrett Stidham—signal-callers who will likely remain available on Days 2 and 3.
Even though the Broncos acquired Joe Flacco via trade, it's practical for team brass to host visits with signal-callers; their starter is 34 years old. According to Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson, Denver may bypass quarterbacks in the opening round.
In that scenario, Grier, Thorson or Stidham could serve as Flacco's backup for a couple of years before taking over the huddle. The Broncos don't have a pressing need at quarterback, but Robinson states a raw prospect wouldn't put pressure on the starter while gradually being brought along by the coaching staff behind an established veteran.
Detroit Lions Want to Trade Down
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn didn't speak in riddles or send out mixed messages at the podium. He laid out his intentions, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
"There’s really, from the late first to the third, there’s a lot of really good players in there so if I could ever move back a few spots, get a really good player in the first round and add another pick, I think that’s something that’d be great,” Quinn said. “So people out there listening, I’m open for business.”
The Lions have the eighth overall pick, but Quinn sees enough value in the draft going into Day 3. The front-office executive's stance should draw interest from quarterback-needy teams that want to move up.
Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see if the Lions pass on a top-10 prospect like Ed Oliver if he's available. Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson's snap count dropped between the 2017-18 terms (735 to 415) as a part-time starter, and he's going into a contract year. Quinn could have his immediate replacement at the top of the draft.
Green Bay Packers Interested in D.K. Metcalf?
After an impressive showing in Indianapolis, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf's combine buzz has finally subsided. According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, there's a split on where he'll land in the upcoming draft, but league sources haven't dismissed rumors that connect him to the Bills or Green Bay Packers:
Many scouts are torn on where Metcalf will go. Many believe he's a second-round player, but note that general managers can get excited by traits and reach for rare athleticism or speed. Metcalf should be a Round 2 player, but no one I've spoken with will disregard rumors that the Buffalo Bills or Green Bay Packers could make him a top-15 pick.
Green Bay certainly makes sense with their No. 2 wide receiver spot open. Longtime Packers wideout Randall Cobb signed with the Cowboys. Last year, the team added three players at the position, J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, on Day 3 of the draft. As rookies, none of them produced enough to lock down the spot opposite Davante Adams.
If healthy, Metcalf has a higher ceiling than the trio of wideouts picked last April. He's a big, physical pass-catcher who possesses the speed to beat defenders deep downfield.
Could the Houston Texans Take a WR at No. 23?
Quarterback Deshaun Watson took a league-leading 62 sacks last year, so the Houston Texans' draft discussions should begin with offensive linemen. With that said, this club has experienced an unfortunate rash of injuries at wide receiver.
In October, Will Fuller V went down with a torn ACL; he's missed 17 games since the Texans selected him 21st overall in the 2016 draft. The front office has a looming decision on his fifth-year option. Keke Coutee, another young standout, couldn't shake off a nagging hamstring injury through his rookie term.
The Texans had to rely on Demaryius Thomas, whom the team acquired via trade with the Broncos before the deadline; he tore his Achilles late December, and Houston released him in February. Fuller's recovery from a torn ACL and Coutee's limited size, at 5'11", 180 pounds, could encourage Houston to focus on a wide receiver early in the draft.
According to Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, the Texans worked out 6'0", 226-pound A.J. Brown, who is a capable slot option and one of the top wideouts in this class. The Ole Miss product could hear his name called in the first round.
Brown led the Rebels' pass-catching group in receiving yards over the last two terms with back-to-back 1,250-yard seasons. It shouldn't shock anyone if general manager Brian Gaine takes him at No. 23.
Indianapolis Colts' Sights Set on Defensive Back in Early Rounds?
The Indianapolis Colts re-signed cornerback Pierre Desir and safety Clayton Geathers, but the front office may continue to add assets to the secondary.
Geathers has missed 22 contests over the last three seasons because of foot, neck and head (concussion) injuries. In four terms with the team, he's logged 137 solo tackles and nine pass breakups without an interception.
In 2018, Desir had his best campaign, recording 60 solo tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception through a full 16-game season, which included 12 starts. He'll look to build on a solid year going into his age-29 season.
According to 1070 The Fan's Kevin Bowen, the Colts will target defensive backs early in the upcoming draft:
The expectation is the Colts will draft at least one cornerback or safety this month, and probably two ... Honestly, if the Colts were to spend an early draft pick on the secondary, perhaps at safety, coupled with a corner in the later rounds, it should not be a surprise at all.
With 12 starts apiece, Desir and Geathers started the most games in their respective careers. It seems general manager Chris Ballard will look for some insurance at cornerback or safety in case one or both defensive backs take a step backward.
Jacksonville Jaguars Linked to an Offensive Tackle at No. 7
NBC's Peter King didn't release a mock draft, but he shared a perspective on how each team with a first-round pick should approach Day 1.
In conversation with a front-office executive, King discovered links between the Jacksonville Jaguars and an offensive tackle. "I’ll be shocked if the Jaguars don’t go tackle here,” said the general manager.
King slotted Jawaan Taylor to the Jaguars at No. 7 overall based on the Florida product's ability to immediately win the starting right tackle job over 2018 fourth-rounder Will Richardson. In March, Jacksonville released Jermey Parnell and saved $6 million in cap space.
Unless the Jaguars view Richardson as Parnell's unquestioned successor, the front office will likely look to shore up the offensive line on the perimeter. Jacksonville could have a more balanced offensive attack with quarterback Nick Foles under center, which calls for better pass protection. Taylor spent a majority of his time at right tackle on the collegiate level and seems like a plausible fit with the club.
Is Marquise Brown an Option for the Kansas City Chiefs?
There's uncertainty surrounding Kansas City Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill. He's under investigation for an alleged battery involving his three-year-old son that resulted in a broken arm, per Brooke Pryor and Steve Vockrodt of the Kansas City Star.
As the draft approaches, the Chiefs cannot make any assumptions on Hill's future. According to MMQB's Albert Breer, the front office could select a wide receiver early in the draft regardless of the probe on the two-time All-Pro:
And even if he’s cleared, I think the Chiefs will draft some insurance, maybe in the form of Oklahoma WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown—a dynamo who times fast, plays even faster and has tape that compares to what DeSean Jackson looked like coming out of Cal.
In January, Brown underwent Lisfranc surgery, but he received a "very positive review", per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The medical recheck bodes well for his draft stock. If he's on the board for the Chiefs at No. 29, general manager Brett Veach may strongly consider him to maintain a deep-threat option in the passing attack.
At Oklahoma, Brown racked up 132 catches for 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 18.3 yards per reception.
Los Angeles Chargers Looking Toward Future at QB
The Los Angeles Chargers signed Tyrod Taylor to a two-year deal, but the front office has evaluated multiple quarterbacks in the predraft process. According to Rapoport, Drew Lock and Will Grier are among the names on the team's radar.
Los Angeles has the 28th overall pick; it's possible Lock may go to a team that holds a top-15 selection. Grier could fall within range even if the Chargers stay in their spot at the end of the first round.
Rivers will enter the final year of his contract, but the Chargers opened extension talks back in January, per ESPN.com's Eric Williams. At 37 years old, he may have a few more solid seasons left on the field. General manager Tom Telesco can take a signal-caller this year and allow him ample time to develop before taking over the reins under center.
The Chargers can also address a dire need at right tackle in the opening round and pick up a quarterback with the 60th pick. Ryan Finley should be available in that spot. He already has a connection with Rivers, who's also a North Carolina State product, per the Los Angeles Times' Jeff Miller. The rapport between the signal-callers would likely help ease the transition.
Los Angeles Rams Take a Look at Clemson Defensive Linemen
Last season, the Los Angeles Rams defense ranked 20th in points surrendered and 19th in yards allowed. Even though the unit played well in stretches, the front office will likely add some playmakers to the front seven.
According to Rapoport, the Rams traveled to Clemson for a visit with defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell. Both prospects may hear their names called before Los Angeles goes on the clock with the No. 31 overall selection.
Nonetheless, it's possible Lawrence may slip because of his declining pass-rushing production. If most teams view him as a high-end run-stopper, the Rams may have a chance to land him at the end of the first round. The 6'4", 342-pounder's sack numbers dropped over three years at Clemson from 6.5 to two and then 1.5 last year.
The Rams don't have an established edge-rusher opposite Dante Fowler Jr. In 2018, Samson Ebukam started 14 contests at outside linebacker but only logged three sacks in his second season. Ferrell lined up on the end of a four-man front at Clemson, but Los Angeles may view him as a versatile defensive lineman who can rush the pocket from a two-point stance.
Miami Dolphins Will Prioritize Pass Rush
Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, the Miami Dolphins' top two pass-rushers from last season, won't suit up for the team in 2019. The former signed a three-year deal with the Tennessee Titans and the latter was traded to the Cowboys for a 2020 sixth-round pick.
Charles Harris, the Dolphins' 2017 first-rounder, may have an opportunity to fill the void at defensive end, but the team will focus on adding talent to the group going forward, per Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. "The Dolphins are looking to add multiple edge rushers over the next three months," he wrote.
The Dolphins plucked pass-rusher Jayrone Elliott from the Alliance of American Football league, which is no longer in business. He logged 7.5 sacks for the San Antonio Commanders. The 27-year-old spent four years in the NFL between the 2014-17 terms with the Packers and Cowboys, recording just four sacks.
Based on Jackson's report, Elliott won't change the Dolphins' plan to add help on the end of the defensive line. Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary and Clelin Ferrell are names to watch for this squad's pick at No. 13.
Will the Minnesota Vikings Target a Tight End Again?
The Minnesota Vikings have selected a tight end in each of the last four drafts, all on Day 3. Only two remain on the roster, David Morgan and Tyler Conklin, and they played fewer than a quarter of the offensive snaps in 2018.
Former NFL scout Dan Hatman talked about the Vikings' personnel on the Access Vikings podcast (h/t Star Tribune's Andrew Krammer) and delved into reasons Minnesota may continue its tight end streak in the draft:
I think they’d like to have two guys they consistently trust out there no matter what … Let’s say someone comes up, does a phenomenal job and maybe the market is really robust for [Kyle] Rudolph, and if the dollars just don’t make sense you could be in position to move forward without hurting yourself.
Rudolph's upcoming free-agency bid could encourage the front office to land a high-potential player at tight end, preferably one who's a solid pass-catcher. The incumbent starter racked up 386 catches for 3,787 yards and 41 touchdowns in eight seasons with the club.
In addition to a potential increase use of 12 personnel sets, with one running back, two tight ends and three wide receivers, an incoming rookie could have a pathway to a bigger role in the 2020 season. The Vikings have to plan for Rudolph's possible exit next year.
New England Patriots Work out Multiple Quarterbacks
Is Tom Brady's successor on the way?
The Patriots have three selections within the top 65 picks; they can move up for either signal-caller if necessary. It's possible Jones could become a target in the middle of the first round. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Grier became "a riser" after his impressive pro day performance.
New England has 33-year-old Brian Hoyer in the primary backup role behind Brady; he's in his second stint with the team. The front office selected Danny Etling in the seventh round of last year's draft, but he's yet to throw a regular-season pass.
Although Brady performed at a high level in his age-41 season, it's a little more than due diligence to take a look at quarterbacks before the draft. This year, the Patriots have 12 total picks. They have more than enough resources to take a shot at a passer on Day 1 or 2.
New Orleans Saints Eye CB Julian Love
The New Orleans Saints don't have a first-round pick because of last year's move to trade up for defensive end Marcus Davenport; Green Bay holds the 30th pick instead.
At No. 62 overall, New Orleans may take a cornerback to strengthen an inconsistent group. In 2018, the Saints pass defense ranked 29th and allowed 30 touchdowns (22nd in the league). The front office re-signed cornerback P.J. Williams to a one-year deal, but he struggled in the slot during the last term. Patrick Robinson is recovering from a broken ankle. The coaching staff benched Ken Crawley in favor of Eli Apple who joined the team before the trade deadline.
According to Rapoport, the Saints hosted cornerback Julian Love for a visit. The Notre Dame product listed top five in pass breakups across the nation in each of the last two years. At 5'11", 195 pounds, the standout cover man doesn't provide much physicality, but he's worth a closer look because of his ball-tracking skills.
Love moves fluidly on the perimeter with the ability to play in a variety of schemes. He's not mentioned with the top cornerback prospects in this draft because of his size and average foot speed (4.54 40-yard time), but he's a solid target for a defense that needs stops on the back end.
New York Giants Set to Select Top Defensive Lineman at No. 6?
At 38 years old, quarterback Eli Manning's expiring contract is the elephant in the room, but general manager Dave Gettleman may not land his successor with the sixth selection. According to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, Big Blue could take a pass-rusher in that spot.
"There are a ton of great defensive players in this draft," a team source said. "As much as we need a young quarterback, I honestly don't know how we can pass on one of the pass-rushers at No. 6."
The Giants hosted a visit for Rashan Gary on Thursday and Josh Allen on Friday, per Rapoport. The former logged nine sacks over the last two seasons; the latter finished his collegiate career with 31.5.
Although Gary's numbers seem modest on paper, he's 6'4", 277 pounds and ran a 4.58 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He could line up in different spots across the front seven. The Michigan product's primary job would likely be pocket pressure in New York.
There's a slight chance Allen falls to the Giants at No. 6, so it's smart to have a face-to-face meeting with him. The Kentucky product could start Week 1 opposite Lorenzo Carter on the edge. He's a polished pass-rusher who has a set of moves to beat offensive linemen, using his strong hands to disengage at the line of scrimmage.
It seems as though the Giants will legitimately consider an edge-rusher with their first pick. ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan believes Montez Sweat and Ed Oliver are probable targets. In that scenario, Big Blue can still take a quarterback in the middle rounds like Jarrett Stidham or wait for next year's class, which may feature Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jake Fromm (Georgia) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama).
Manning expects the team to select a quarterback this year, but he didn't pinpoint a specific round.
Do the New York Jets View Cornerback as Biggest Need?
In 2018, the New York Jets offensive line yielded the fewest adjusted line yards per game (3.59) and ranked 18th in pass protection based on Football Outsiders' metrics. According to Washington Post's STATs, right guard Brian Winters allowed 5.5 sacks. Brandon Shell suffered an atypical injury to his ACL, MCL and PCL in December.
The Jets acquired left guard Kelechi Osemele to replace James Carpenter, who signed with the Falcons during free agency, but it's still a relatively shaky group. Yet, the front office may prioritize cornerback over offensive line going into the draft, per New York Daily News' Manish Mehta:
My understanding is that the Jets believe cornerback is a greater area of need than offensive line. That being said, there are some quality center prospects in the draft that the Jets might be able to pluck, with one of their two third-round picks.
This line of thought coincides with Mehta's source, who revealed the Jets already regret signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson to a massive contract. "The Jets have massive buyer’s remorse about Johnson’s five-year, $72.5 million deal, according to sources. (For practical purposes, it’s a three-year, $48 million deal)," he wrote.
Gang Green also allowed cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine walk in free agency; the former remains unsigned and the latter joined the Bears. At No. 3 overall, the Jets will likely take the best player available on their draft board regardless of need. If they're able to trade down, general manager Mike Maccagnan may add another cover man to bolster the secondary.
Raiders Not Expected to Take QB in 1st Round, but "Very High" on Dwayne Haskins
Raiders' brass has touted Derek Carr as a centerpiece for the organization. "Yes, he’s our franchise quarterback," head coach Jon Gruden said (h/t USA Today's Mike Jones). "Let me make that clear." General manager Mike Mayock added an implied "for now" to that statement in a media press conference.
Mayock explained his outlook on the quarterback spot, per San Francisco Chronicle's Matt Kawahara:
I’ve said before … Derek Carr is a franchise quarterback, and we believe that. Beyond that, just like at any other position, we're going to do our due diligence. If we found somebody we liked better, or thought had a bigger upside, you’ve got to do the right thing for the organization.
The Raiders reportedly held private workouts for Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, per Breer. It's due diligence with a possibility the Silver and Black could at least consider a signal-caller in the first round.
Nonetheless, Las Vegas Review-Journal's Michael Gehlken doesn't foresee Oakland taking a quarterback with one of its top-35 picks. "Behind the scenes, the option has appeared remote at best," he wrote. "Today, the outcome would be considered a shocking pivot if it develops."
On the flip side, NFL Network's Mike Silver reports the Raiders are "very high" on Haskins. If he slips, Gruden may not be able to resist, which would lead to widespread speculation about Carr's short-term future.
Philadelphia Eagles Take a Look at WR Parris Campbell
The Philadelphia Eagles addressed a couple of glaring needs via free agency and trade. The front office signed linebacker L.J. Fort to a three-year, $5.5 million deal, but it's a voidable contract after the first season, per Spotrac. He's a veteran placeholder in case the team doesn't land a starter in the draft.
General manager Howie Roseman acquired running back Jordan Howard via trade with the Bears. He'll likely become the lead ball-carrier with Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood in complementary roles.
The acquisitions allow the Eagles flexibility in how they can approach the first two rounds of the draft. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Philadelphia hosted wide receiver Parris Campbell for a visit.
The Eagles have wideouts Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson on the books through the 2021 campaign. The latter's contract automatically voids for the 2022 offseason, per Spotrac. Nelson Agholor will become a free agent in 2020. Campbell could replace him for the long term if he is drafted by Philadelphia.
The Ohio State standout caught 90 passes for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He ran a blazing 4.31-second 40-yard time at the combine. He has a chance to develop into a speedy slot receiver in the pros.
Pittsburgh Steelers Focus on Top Cornerbacks
In recent drafts, the Pittsburgh Steelers attempted to address the cornerback spot, but the players have either fallen short of expectations, remained in development or shifted to another role.
Senquez Golson, a 2015 second-rounder, didn't play a down with the team because of shoulder, foot and hamstring injuries. Artie Burns, the team's 2016 first-round pick, hasn't panned out into a consistent contributor. Last year, he started six of 16 contests and finished with 17 solo tackles and one pass breakup.
The Steelers selected Sean Davis one round after Burns. The Maryland product had experience at cornerback but moved to safety full-time. Cameron Sutton, Pittsburgh's 2017 third-round selection, has logged four pass breakups and an interception in 20 games.
The Steelers will have Joe Haden on the books for one more year, which leaves Steven Nelson as the only proven commodity at cornerback beyond the upcoming term. According to ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler, team brass worked out top prospects capable of filling a void in the secondary.
"The Steelers hosting highly rated corners DeAndre Baker (Georgia) and Byron Murphy (Washington) is noteworthy, considering the team's struggles with the position," Fowler tweeted.
Despite a poor track record with selections at cornerback, general manager Kevin Colbert may roll the dice on early-round prospects to bolster the secondary.
San Francisco 49ers Set to Use 36th Pick on a Wide Receiver?
The San Francisco 49ers don't have a high-end wide receiver on the roster. None of them have a 1,000-yard season, and Kendrick Bourne led the group in receptions (42) and receiving yards (487) last season.
According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, the 49ers intend to strengthen the wideout group and had their eyes on a high-profile veteran:
They wanted Odell Beckham. If they can get a receiver, such as A.J. Green, they would certainly pursue that option. A "No. 1 receiver" is not necessary for success, but an upgrade is an offseason goal for the 49ers …The 49ers traded the Nos. 59 and 74 picks last year to move up 15 slots to select [Dante] Pettis. He should be a starter. All the other spots are wide open. The 49ers could use the No. 36 pick on a wideout.
The Giants traded Beckham to the Browns, which dashed the 49ers' hopes of landing the three-time Pro Bowler. Now, general manager John Lynch can turn to the draft for high-ceiling talent.
None of the incoming wideouts have received top-five buzz in terms of draft projection. San Francisco can take a top defensive prospect such as Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams or Josh Allen at No. 2 overall. With the 36th selection, N'Keal Harry, Hakeem Butler or Deebo Samuel may be available—all three rank within the top 10 in Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller's wide receiver rankings.
Seattle Seahawks Pump the Brakes on Trade-Down Scenario
Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider acknowledged that he'd like to have more than four draft picks. The front-office executive understands it's not an easy task to move down for more selections, per ESPN.com's Brady Henderson:
It's safe to say, but it's a darn good draft, so I could see a very good player being there for us at 21. And the other part of it is, everybody's like, 'Well, they always like to go back.' You have to find a partner. You have to negotiate within a specific amount of time. So it's not like an easy thing just to move back.
It's a grasp of reality for those who just assume the Seahawks will move out of the first round and begin their draft on Day 2.
It's logical to think Schneider will work the phones to acquire more draft resources. If he's unable to move out of the 21st overall spot, Seattle can still address shallow spots across the depth chart such as defensive tackle, wide receiver, offensive guard or safety.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers "Love" LB Devin White
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted linebacker Devin White for a visit and were impressed. According to Breer, the team has a strong interest in him.
"Word is the Bucs love White, and they have a clear need with the loss of Kwon Alexander," Breer wrote. "[Quinnen] Williams slipping here could make for an interesting decision, since that could free the Bucs to cut Gerald McCoy."
The LSU product could be on the board for general manager Jason Licht at No. 5 overall. Tampa Bay allowed Kwon Alexander to walk during free agency; he signed a four-year, $54 million deal with the 49ers.
White would bring athleticism to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' unit. He's not the top cover defender at the position in this class, but he's a solid tackler who brings physicality. The former Tiger also has the closing speed to track down running backs who catch out of the backfield—an especially important skill in the NFC South, home to Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey.
Is Tight End a Need for the Tennessee Titans?
The Titans have six tight ends on the depth chart, but Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com can see the front office adding another prospect to the stable. "I've been on record saying the biggest needs are at edge, D-line, interior O-line and receiver, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the team added a tight end," he wrote.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee's lead tight end, suffered a broken ankle with ligament damage in Week 1 of last season. He's going into his age-35 term; team brass may have questions on whether the 13th-year veteran bounces back from a significant injury at a late stage in his playing career.
In 2018, Jonnu Smith suited up for 13 games, which included 12 starts, but he suffered a torn MCL in December. The 23-year-old is expected to miss the beginning of the offseason program.
In order to compensate for two tight ends on the mend, Tennessee may land a high-upside talent during the middle rounds. It's worth noting, Walker and Smith have just two years left on their respective contracts.
Will the Washington Redskins Draft Multiple Wide Receivers?
While discussion circled the Washington Redskins' interest in quarterback Josh Rosen or the lack thereof, per Garafolo (h/t NFL.com's Chris Wesseling), the front office may have a strong focus on its receiving corps going into the draft.
According to The Athletic's Grant Paulsen, the Redskins have a significant hole to fill at wideout, and team brass will turn to the talent pool multiple times:
Snagging a pass-catcher in the middle of the first round is very plausible. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise anybody around the league if Washington spent a couple of its four picks in the top three rounds on wide receivers. They are desperate and an arid free-agent market kept them from adding reinforcements.
The Redskins allowed Jamison Crowder, their most accomplished wide receiver, to walk during free agency. Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson are the team's top two pass-catching wideouts. Neither has had a 50-catch season nor reached 800 receiving yards in a single campaign.
In 2018, through seven contests, Richardson recorded 20 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns before he landed on injured reserve with an AC joint injury. The 27-year-old has to elevate his production to justify his five-year, $40 million deal.
Since being a first-round pick by the Redskins in 2016, Doctson has logged 81 catches for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns while failing to surpass a 57 percent catch rate in any of his three seasons. The TCU product hasn't performed up to his draft pedigree.
Perhaps the Redskins skip over top quarterback prospects, rely on Case Keenum or Colt McCoy for a year and add a high-upside playmaker at wide receiver like D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown with the 15th overall pick.