– I’m told if the Detroit Lions target a defensive tackle in round two the player at the top of their list is Xavier Cooper, who they feel is a perfect fit for their system.
– South Carolina tight end Rory Busta Anderson, who’s still suffering from a hamstring strain, had his pro-day on Tuesday. Anderson did not run the forty and ran a partial route tree with no deep outs to protect the hamstring. I’m told he caught the ball well and has built a good amount of intrigue around himself. The Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers were all on hand and have shown a good deal of interest in Anderson.
– Despite a poor forty time and general disappointing workout at the combine I’m told scouts like the film on Jean Sifrin and many teams have stamped him as a late rounder. Both are justified in my opinion. His age is of concern as Sifrin will be 27 years old this season.
– Sources say Andrus Peat won’t get past the St Louis Rams at 10 and could be selected even earlier. New York Giants perhaps?
– Tyler Sambrailo was slightly disappointing in the run-up to the draft but teams still like his film and the athleticism he displayed in college. Sambrailo is ranked as a tackle on a lot of boards outside war rooms but I’m told he’ll very likely be drafted as a zone blocking guard for the fall.
– One scenario I’m hearing for the New England Patriots is a trade out of the 32nd pick, something the team has had a lot of success with in the past, and moving down a few slots to select offensive guard AJ Cann. This would fill a big need at guard for the team. I’ve been skeptical of Cann’s movement skills but was told the big offensive lineman, who has been struggling with a calf strain since the end of the season, worked out for several teams on Monday and ran both the short shuttle and 3 cone at the request of coaches. He timed 4.51s in the short shuttle and 7.37s in the 3 cone, both terrific marks. Only two offensive linemen, Jake Fisher and Ali Marpet, ran faster times during the combine.
– A little more on the Browns. Earlier today on the Bull and Fox Show I revealed additional news on Cleveland wanting to trade up and select Marcus Mariota or possibly trading back with a team who wants to jump up and grab the signal caller. The premise being if trading up for Mariota was too rich for Cleveland’s blood they would be part of a three team trade in which another franchise would use the Browns initial pick as a stepping stone to move up for Mariota. I speculated the team in question is the San Diego Chargers with Philip Rivers being part of the trade. When asked if the Philadelphia Eagles would be interested in something similar I stated a move like that would surprise me. Here’s the audio. In conversations later in the day I found out on Monday evening Mike Florio wrote a piece stating the Eagles are in fact one team looking to work with the Browns in the hopes of trading up for Mariota. The article which can be found here.
After my interview with Bull and Fox I made further inquiries and can confirm both the Chargers and Eagles are exploring the possibility of maneuvering up for Mariota through the Browns and both teams have had conversations on the topic. This of course is contingent on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers not selecting Mariota with the first pick, which is a greater possibility than many presently predict, as well as the Titans passing on the Heisman Trophy winner. A league source told me if the Titans are ready to deal the pick then the Browns hold the most powerful position in the draft and the ability to dictate whether they or another team make the move for Mariota.
– I’m told the New Orleans Saints, another team with two picks in round one, will consider trading up if they feel they are in striking distance of Vic Beasley. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan loves Beasley’s pass rushing ability and potential in a 3-4.
– I’ve been a big proponent of Taiwan Jones and have stated several times he’s one of the more underrated linebackers in this draft. And while I was disappointed in his forty time at the combine it seems a number of teams concur on Jones being a gem at the linebacker position. Teams feel Jones is a smart, heady linebacker who makes up for his lack of foot speed with great instincts. The outside linebacker spot he played as a junior for Michigan State was a complex read and diagnose position and Jones rarely had mental lapses. Michigan State coaches have been raving about Jones to anyone who asks and there are a bevy of 3-4 teams who grade Jones as a third round pick.
– Another Michigan State defender that will be drafted earlier than originally predicted is Marcus Rush. Setting aside the fact his pro-day results were much better than scouts expected, Rush has blown teams away during the interview process. His willingness and ability to be a situational defender in a variety of schemes could push Rush into the fifth round.
– Staying with the linebackers, Wyoming senior Mark Nzeocha, who had his 2014 season cut short with a knee injury, worked out today for teams just six months after surgery. Nzeocha measured 6030/238lbs and timed as fast as 4.52s in the forty with a 1.56s 10-yard split. His other marks included a 39-inch vertical jump, 10’ 11” broad jump and 4.3s in the short shuttle. Scouts were surprised how quick and fast Nzeocha was just six months post-op. I had the opportunity to meet the senior at the combine and found Nzeocha to be engaging and articulate.
– I’m told the Seattle Seahawks would love to grab Dorial Green-Beckham if he’s available at the 63rd selection but they expect the receiver to be off the board during the initial fifteen picks of round two.
– I was surprised when I saw my buddy Josh Norris posted on a number of teams ranking Sean Mannion as the third quarterback in the draft. In the end Mannion could be the one laughing as I’m told more than a dozen teams in fact rank Mannion number three on their quarterback board. The Oregon State senior has recently worked out for the St Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys.
– I’ve taken a lot of grief for mispronouncing Marcus Mariota’s name time and time again; fair enough. In my defense I am an American of Italian descent and a life long New Yawker. See you tomorrow.
– Expect the talk of teams wanting to trade up for Marcus Mariota to pick up intensity in the coming week. From all accounts I’m hearing the Cleveland Browns are the front runners and working hardest in the hopes of acquiring the quarterback. Early last week I was told the asking price from the Tennessee Titans was both of the Browns first round picks as well as their choice in the second round, to which Cleveland replied no. Understandable Tennessee would have a high asking price at this point and even more understandable the Browns would say no. I’m told the Browns may be willing to part with both first round picks for Maroita but want to hold on to the second round choice to draft a much needed receiver.
– Back on February 20th I posted the St Louis Rams would target linebackers early in the draft. One linebacker the team loves is Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State. The team worked out McKinney last week and came away very impressed. The tenth pick of round one is too early for McKinney which lends many to believe the Rams could trade down in the first round or trade up from the second round to secure McKinney.
– The Denver Broncos are another team I’m hearing linked to McKinney as they believe he’d fill their linebacker need. The other name associated with Denver in league circles is Paul Dawson of TCU. It must be mentioned the team has not shown a lot of interest in Dawson via the visit/workout route.
– I’ve been a big proponent of running back Jay Ajayi of Boise State and like his entire game. That said last week I was informed a number of teams red flagged Ajayi over a knee injury he sustained early in his college career.
– Now that he’s been cleared of any wrong doing I’m told Frank Clark of Michigan will be selected much earlier (top 125) than most predict.