A little more than three weeks before the 2013 NFL Draft kicks off. As we get closer to the Kansas City Chiefs officially announced on the clock we expect a lot of news to be swirling around and we’ll bring you as much as we can. 4/5: Matt Scott continues to impress
– Yesterday I posted on Twitter that Matt Scott/QB/Arizona, a signal caller swiftly moving up draft boards, has a visit with the Denver Broncos scheduled for next week. Interestingly enough two years ago at this time I was reporting that John Elway and the Broncos were ready to select Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft, a story that made the rounds on the world wide web. At the time Elway viewed Kaepernick as a replacement for Tim Tebow, who he was not high on. Ironically the Broncos traded their pick in the second round, the 36th selection of the draft, to the San Francisco 49ers who selected none other than Colin Kaepernick. As we all know the Broncos eventually dumped Tebow for a mid-round choice while Kaepernick lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl. I am told the driving force behind bringing Matt Scott to Denver is the team’s new quarterback coach, Greg Knapp. Yet its a bit ironic they have an interest in Scott, whose game is reminiscent of the signal caller they passed on two years ago. Evidently Scott turned in a terrific workout today for the Seattle Seahawks today, completing all but two of the 65 passes he was asked to throw. His targets were receivers from a local high school. Scott finished the workout hauling a long pass 65-yards through the air.
– Rather than participating in private on-campus workouts for several NFL teams both Chance Warmack and DJ Fluker will perform a second pro-day next Thursday. This is the same day Eddie Lacey is expected to finally workout for league decision makers. We’ve heard pro’s and con’s from a number of people. Some think its a good decision from the point of view of efficiency while others complain it will reduce specific drills or techniques that individual teams/coaches can ask the linemen to perform. All agree in the end Lacey will be the big winner if he works out well considering the additional eyeballs that will be watching him.
– I’m told the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants are two teams who may not bring their first round pick into town for an official visit.
– On Tuesday we posted that Jonathan Cooper/G/North Carolina is a first round target of the Dallas Cowboys. General consensus says if Dallas wants to acquire the services of Cooper they’ll have to move up from the 18th spot as its unlikely the talented guard drops out of the top 12.
– There’s lots of talk as to how the tight ends will fall in the first three rounds of the draft. Several league insiders told me it all depends on where Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame falls. If Eifert is selected during the initial 20 picks there’s a good chance we’ll see a run at the tight end position with as many as five coming off the board by the 40th pick (8th selection of round two).
– I’ve been told that despite the big contract they handed Martellus Bennett last month the Chicago Bears would still consider a tight end in round one.
– The love affair between NFL franchises and Ezekiel Ansah continues to grow. I’ve been told the fast rising star is a tremendous student in classroom and has been staying up all hours of the night studying the game of football, further endearing himself to teams. We reported yesterday Ansah’s schedule has him visiting the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals. He’s also worked out for the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Bucs. Keep an eye on Tampa Bay; if they can’t swing a deal for Darrelle Revis before the draft its not out of the question they trade up for Ansah.
– On team not on the list of visits or workouts for Ziggy Ansah are the New York Jets. Considering the state of affairs with the team it would be a surprise if they select anything other than an offensive guard or pass rusher in the first round. But what will the team do round two? Two names I continue to hear associated with the the Jets, and a pair of players who are evidently favorites of general manager John Idzik, are Sylvester Williams/DT-NT/North Carolina and Zach Ertz/TE/Stanford. Both fill pressing needs on the roster and each would be good value at pick number 39.
– With all the talk centering around the high profile safeties, for some reason it seems people have forgotten about Phillip Thomas of Fresno State. The talented defensive back presently ranks as our #4 safety in the updated rankings. Thomas has a hectic schedule as he will be visiting the safety needy Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers, all good fits in round two.
– One sleeper in the defensive backfield to keep an eye on is Don Jones of Arkansas State. The athletic safety already has a half dozen visits, most recently stopping off to see the Miami Dolphins yesterday. Teams love Jones size/speed and several feel he offers the versatility to line-up at both safety and cornerback. The thinking is Jones will be selected during the draft’s final day.
Here’s a list of the players we are told have accepted the invitation to attend the 2013 NFL Draft in Radio City Music Hall:
Luke Joeckel/T/Texas A&M
Geno Smith/QB/West Virginia
EJ Manuel/QB/Florida State
Bjoern Werner/DE/Florida State
Jonathan Cooper/G/North Carolina
Eric Fisher/T/Central Michigan
Menelik Watson/T/Florida State
Xavier Rhodes/CB/Florida State
Tavon Austin/WR/West Virginia
I am told Star Lotulelei has been invited to attend the draft but has not officially accepted. Dion Jordan was also invited and is leaning towards coming to the Big Apple for the event.
Sources also inform me, in their attempt to “go global”, the NFL plans on inviting all foreign born prospects who fit into the draft’s initial two days.
– Last week at the BYU pro-day the scouts and offensive coaches on hand spoke openly about the USC pro-day, which took place 24 hours earlier. The topic of conversation centered around Khaled Holmes/C/USC and his falling draft stock. The word is many are questioning Holmes commitment to football, going as far as saying he doesn’t even like to play the game. I spoke with several people in the Holmes camp who acknowledged that this is a concern amongst NFL teams. They feel this has more to do with the fact that Holmes, who is close to finishing his Masters Degree, has a lot of off the field interests, which at times makes him seem aloof to football. I was informed the USC center, who absolutely has starting potential at the next level, is firmly committed to a career in the NFL. So what’s the bottom line? Like everything else in life the truth of the matter is likely somewhere in the middle but its obvious Holmes draft stock has taken a hit.
– One center whose stock has seemingly moved north is Dalton Freeman of Clemson. Freeman struggled through a tough senior campaign as illness last summer pushed his frame down into the 260-pound area and sapped him of strength. His versatility and ability to do the little things well have enamored him to several teams, who told Freeman he could be selected as early as the fifth round.
– I’ve been told the Dallas Cowboys have Jonathan Cooper/G/North Carolina as one of their top first round targets and are looking at Stepfan Taylor/RB/Stanford in round three.
– What will the Jacksonville Jaguars do with the second pick of the draft? I’ve been told by several people they would like to trade out of the spot and collect extra selections. I hear the scouting staff is not in love with any of the players at the top of the draft plus new general manager Dave Caldwell, well respected for his scouting talents, believes he’ll be able to harvest potential starters with multiple picks.
– As we reported on twitter last week, teams around the league have first round grades on approximately 15 players (give or take a few) and have stamped as many as 60 players second round grades. This further proves the weakness at the top of the draft and the terrific depth at a few positions. Conversations with people have lead us to believe there’s a real chance the back half of round one could offer a number of surprise picks considering the drop off in talent. After talking with several league insiders since the middle of last week here are eight names who could squeeze into the second half of round one, starting with the obvious:
1) Arthur Brown/LB/Kansas State: Brown has been on a straight shot north since his outstanding pro-day performance. Factor in the sliding draft stock of Kevin Minter/LSU and Manti Te’o/Notre Dame and Brown is looking more and more like a top 32 pick.
2) One of the quarterbacks; Matt Barkley/USC, E.J. Manuel/Florida State or Ryan Nassib/Syracuse: This will likely be the result of a team trading from the early part of round two back into the first round, though it won’t be the Cleveland Browns this time.
3) Jamar Taylor/CB/Boise State: Taylor’s senior film is terrific and teams like the fact he’s scheme diverse.
4) Zach Ertz/TE/Stanford: We thought Ertz was first round worthy all along though many in the league cooled on Ertz after the combine.
5) Robert Woods/WR/USC: Woods struggled with an ankle issue all last season and lost out to super sophomore Marquis Lee. Back in August, Woods was ranked as a first rounder on this site but I foolishly came off that opinion. Teams have said the Woods they saw at the combine and pro-day is reminiscent of the dominant receiver from the 2011 film.
6) Jonathan Franklin/RB/UCLA: Concerns over Eddie Lacy are being voiced louder in the scouting community (more on that later). With no clear cut number one at the running back position, teams like what they see from Franklin, whom they compare to Frank Gore.
7) Eric Reid/S/LSU: Reid has made a late charge up draft boards. We don’t agree he’s first round material but the thought has been passed to me from those I respect.
8 ) Blidi Wreh-Wilson/CB/UConn: I posted several times prior to the combine that Wreh-Wilson was the wildcard at the cornerback position. His fantastic pro-day workout from last week puts to ease the minds of teams considering him in round one. Fact is when completely healthy (watch his sophomore film) Wreh-Wilson is a shut down corner with first round skills.
– The frustration over Eddie Lacy/RB/Alabama and the fact he’s pushed his workout back to April 11th is beginning to boil over. Scouts are questioning whether Lacy is too injured to run or just too slow.
– I was told last week D.J. Hayden/CB/Houston has eight visits set up. Hayden has struggled with a hamstring issue and ran the forty just once at pro-day (albeit 4.42-seconds) after not running at the combine. We hear he hopes to resume workouts for teams around April 13th.
– Former Missouri running back Derrick Washington, who lit it up at Tuskegee last season, is visiting the Kansas City Chiefs and has a private workout scheduled with the New England Patriots. Washington was dominant during his Missouri days and looked like a prime NFL running back prospect before being sidelined with legal issues.
– Looking for a sleeper in the late rounds or after the draft at linebacker? Keep Taylor Reed of SMU in mind. Besides being a terrific football player the 5′ 11.5″/240lb linebacker timed 4.62-seconds in the forty after completing 29-reps on the bench at pro-day last week.