It's Getting Drafty In Here
By Allen Kim
The 2013 NFL Draft is only hours away, but rumors continue to trickle in. From trades to potential draft targets, there are a lot of pieces still in play.
You can count on a number of the rumors being smokescreens by teams looking to gain leverage in trade negotiations, but sifting through the real and fake ones isn’t always easy.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest rumors to hit the web in the lead up to the draft, and make sure to check back for frequent updates throughout the day.
Last update: 5:50 p.m. E.T.
CBS Sports’ Clark Judge reported that the Atlanta Falcons are trying to trade up in the first round to land a cornerback, and Dee Milliner and Xavier Rhodes are atop their wish list. The Falcons currently sit at No. 30, but GM Thomas Dimitroff isn’t one to sit around idly on draft day when he sees someone he likes — after all, look at what he gave up to land Julio Jones.
Even with all of the talk of Milliner falling on draft day, it’s tough to see him falling out of the top 10. Rhodes is a more likely target for the Falcons, as he’s likely to go as much as 10 picks behind Milliner. But even then, he’s probably out of the Falcons’ range.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports is reporting differently from Judge. He has heard through the grapevine that Atlanta is trying to trade up in order to land a pass-rusher. According to Cole, the highest they may be able to move up to is No. 22 or 23, which is right in range for Bjoern Werner.
This move seems more likely because the Falcons would have to give up a lot in order to make a significant leap in the draft to land one of the top corners. There are two or three cornerbacks that could fall within the same range as Werner, so the Falcons could go either way.
The Baltimore Ravens are reportedly interested in trading up for Oklahoma Sooners OT Lane Johnson. It’s no surprise that the Ravens want to nab a top prospect like Johnson to protect their prized possession, Joe Flacco.
The Ravens have enough assets to potentially make a significant move from their current position at No. 32, but it’s tough to see them moving up far enough to take Johnson. Baltimore may have to move into the top seven if they hope to land him, and I’m not sure that they’re willing to cough up enough picks to go up that high. They can only hope that Johnson falls out of the top 10.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said that the Buffalo Bills are “seriously targeting” QB Matt Barkley out of USC. Not many have confidence in Barkley, and his stock has dropped considerably over the last year.
With all the rumors linking Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib and West Virginia QB Geno Smith to the Bills, this one smells fishy.
Tavon Austin is the No. 1 player on the Bills’ draft board, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
I don’t think anyone is buying this one. Austin has become a hot commodity, and a lot of teams have shown a great deal of interest. The Jets — just behind the Bills at No. 9 — have been tied to Austin quite frequently, and the Bills are smart to play this game in order to find some bidders for their pick.
If they can get a buyer and trade back down to get a quarterback prospect like Nassib, it may work out perfectly for them.
Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer is hearing that the Carolina Panthers are considering TE Tyler Eifert with the No. 14 pick.
Two-tight end sets are all the rage these days in the NFL, and Eifert would make for a dangerous pairing with Greg Olsen in the passing game. Cam Newton would surely love to have another playmaker on offense, but the Panthers have far bigger needs on defense.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer is hearing that the Cleveland Browns are allegedly attempting to trade with the Oakland Raiders for the No. 3 overall pick. The Browns are supposedly looking to jump ahead of the Eagles and Lions to grab one of the top pass-rushers.
Cleveland doesn’t exactly need a defensive lineman as they have other more pressing needs, but it’s not completely out of the question. Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was the Raiders spreading this rumor to drum up interest in their pick.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald is hearing that the Browns are attempting to make a deal with the New England Patriots for QB Ryan Mallett. The Patriots’ asking price for Mallett is a second-round pick, which the Browns currently do not have.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting the opposite of Howe. According to their source, the Browns “have not and will not call about Mallett.” They would have to trade down out of the sixth overall pick and acquire a second-rounder, which doesn’t seem likely.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk says that the Browns are “plotting to move from No. 6 to No. 3 to get quarterback Geno Smith before the Eagles take him at No. 4.”
The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to take one of three or four players at No .4 — none of which are a quarterback. The chances of Smith being available to the Browns at No. 6 are pretty high, and they would have to have a credible source linking Smith to the Eagles at No. 4 to make such a move.
According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the Kansas City Chiefs are going to take Eric Fisher over Luke Joeckel. Joeckel has long been considered the Chiefs’ first choice with the No. 1 overall pick, but the team hasn’t come out and definitely declared for anyone just yet.
La Canfora is not the only one that believes that Fisher will be the top pick, and it seems that more and more people are hearing the same. However, Luke Joeckel is still in play here, and I’m not sure that even Kansas City knows who they’re going to select tonight. For now, we can get behind this rumor.
Lots of conflicting reports regarding the Chiefs’ top pick. Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said that the Chiefs informed Joeckel that they’re going to take Fisher with the No. 1 pick.
However, Ed Werder of ESPN says the exact opposite. I’m more inclined to believe Werder here. Why would the Chiefs tell the player they’re not picking that they’re going with Fisher? Wouldn’t they just tell Fisher that they’re going to take him?
Ian Rapaport of NFL.com has heard that the Vikings are looking to move up in order to potentially grab a cornerback or wide receiver. After losing Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield, this is a definite possibility with a number of interesting prospects at both positions set to potentially go ahead of their top position at No. 23.
With two picks in the first round, the Vikings are in a good position to make some moves. Landing Tavon Austin or Dee Milliner is probably not going to happen, but Cordarrelle Patterson and Xavier Rhodes might be there for them.
John Clayton of ESPN is hearing that the Vikings “would like to find a way to take Manti Te’o in [the] first round.” The Vikings have a need at inside linebacker and, despite all the controversy surrounding Te’o, a lot of teams are still very interested in picking him up.
Te’o has been linked to the New York Giants at No. 19 and the Chicago Bears at No. 20, so the Vikings would have to trade up to try and get him. I’m sure the Vikings would love to jump ahead and snatch Te’o away from their division rivals, and that may be the only way they’ll land him.
If the Dallas Cowboys don’t have one of their top rated prospects available to them at No. 18, they may give the Vikings a call in order to trade down. Even the Giants could be a potential trade partner as GM Jerry Reese is never one to give up on good value if presented with the opportunity.
The Jets organization is completely puzzling, and I don’t think it would surprise anyone if they take a quarterback or not. Waiting until next season’s stacked draft class would be far more prudent, but they could also grab a signal-caller and have him accrue some playing time in a doomed season.
Verdict: Faction (yes, I just made up a word and took the easy way out here).
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is hearing that while the Jets like Tavon Austin, picking him at No. 9 may be too early for them. The Jets do have more pressing needs, and it seems more likely that they’ll take a pass-rusher with their first pick in round one.
If they really want Austin, the Jets may have no choice but to pick him at No. 9 or potentially miss out on him altogether by the time their No. 13 pick rolls around.
The Oakland Raiders are reportedly willing to consider swapping picks with the Detroit Lions if one of the top left tackles is available at No. 3. Oakland would then select either Shariff Floyd or Star Lotulelei at No. 5.
The Lions need to improve along the offensive line, and the Raiders could add another pick or two while still getting the prospect they covet most if they make this move. This could be a win-win scenario for both sides.
Ian Rapoport reports that the Raiders “are getting a ton of calls for No. 3. ‘It's red-hot’.”
Oakland has every reason to trade down as they can get more value and still potentially land one of the top players on their draft board. It looks like a lot of teams are looking to jump ahead of the Eagles to select OT Lane Johnson.
Jason La Canfora is at it again, reporting that several NFL execs believe that if Oakland keeps their No. 3 pick, they will select Houston CB D.J. Hayden.
Hayden has a lot of talent, but to go at No. 3 would be a huge reach. Dee Milliner is almost universally considered to be the top cornerback in the draft this year, although there are some concerns about his medical history. Regardless, it would be shocking to see the Raiders not only keep their pick, but use it to pick Hayden.
Jeff McLane from The Philadelphia Inquirer is getting conflicting reports regarding the Philadelphia Eagles. One source is telling him that the Eagles have shown a great deal of interest in OT Lane Johnson, while another is saying that he doesn’t see them taking Johnson.
Johnson is an athletic prospect at offensive tackle, and he would certainly work well in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offensive scheme. If the Raiders and Lions swap picks, then this scenario becomes even more credible as Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher will likely be off the board by the time No. 4 rolls around.
ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said on 97.5 The Fanatic that West Virginia WR Tavon Austin is the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary option at No. 4 if they don’t land one of the top offensive tackles.
It’s understandable that the Eagles are high on Austin, but to select a 5-foot-8 playmaker at No. 4 is pretty questionable. There’s a lot of buzz around Austin, and he would certainly fit well in Kelly’s offense. But the Eagles have far bigger needs than another offensive weapon.
If the Eagles trade down and make the pick, it becomes a more plausible scenario, but not in the Top 5.
Adam Schefter is reporting that the Rams No. 22 pick “clearly is for sale.” No. 22 is a perfect spot for a number of teams that are looking to grab a quarterback, but are unwilling to risk a top 10 selection to reach for prospects such as Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and E.J. Manuel.
The Rams also own the No. 16 pick, and they supposedly have their eyes set on Tavon Austin. Austin is probably out of their range at No. 16, but if they could work a deal with a quarterback-needy team and move into the top 10, they could land him. This could end up being the perfect scenario for the Rams and the team’s bidding for their No. 22 pick.
Todd McShay said that there’s “a lot of buzz” around the Rams trading up for Tavon Austin. St. Louis could certainly use a playmaker to help Sam Bradford after losing Danny Amendola to the Patriots.
Their pick is being targeted for quarterback-needy teams not willing to reach, so this could be the perfect opportunity for them to pounce into the Top 10 to grab Austin. They would have to get ahead of the New York Jets to secure Austin, as the Jets have been frequently linked to the speedy playmaker.
Jason La Canfora reported that the Rams are attempting to trade up from No. 16 to the Jets No. 13 pick to grab Tavon Austin, but only if the Jets pass on Austin at No. 9.
This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Jets are one of the teams that Austin has been linked to most, and if they don’t take him at No. 9, there’s a good chance that he’ll be their pick at No. 13 if he’s available.