AROUND THE NFL

The NFL announced its preseason schedule on Tuesday, at least the matchups by week.  Here are the nationally televised games:

 

2019 preseason national television schedule (all times Eastern)

 

Hall of Fame Game (Canton, Ohio)

 

Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons (NBC, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 1

 

Preseason Week 2 (Aug. 15-19)

 

Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 15

New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers (CBS, 4 p.m.), Sunday, Aug. 18

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings (FOX, 8 p.m.), Sunday, Aug. 18

San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Monday, Aug. 19

 

Preseason Week 3 (Aug. 22-25)

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (FOX, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 22

Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions (CBS, 8 p.m.), Friday, Aug. 23

Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (NBC 8 p.m.), Sunday, Aug. 25

 

If we only could watch one, we’d pick Jon Gruden’s Raiders going to Arizona where KYLER MURRAY could get a lengthy workout.

 

No Patriots, no Cowboys, no Packers among some of the name brands.

 

– – –

Interesting to note that Dallas owner Jerry Jones wasn’t in Frisco today to celebrate the signing of DE DeMARCUS LAWRENCE.  Word got out that he is in Minneapolis for some preliminary meetings on the extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

 

The two sides are trying to get started early with two years left on the current CBA.

 

– – –

Not sure exactly what Todd McShay is doing here, but he says everyone gets an “A” in this three-round Mock Draft.  His first round follows – and we will have some of his three-round analysis for various teams below.

 

PICK   TEAM  PLAYER                     POS.   SCHOOL

1          ARI      Kyler Murray               QB       Oklahoma

2          SF       Nick Bosa                   DE       Ohio State

3          NYJ     Quinnen Williams        DT       Alabama

4          OAK    Josh Allen                   OLB     Kentucky

5          TB       Devin White                ILB       LSU

6          NYG    Dwayne Haskins         QB       Ohio State

7          JAX     Jawaan Taylor            OT       Florida

8          DET     T.J. Hockenson          TE       Iowa

9          BUF     Ed Oliver                     DT       Houston

10        DEN    Drew Lock                  QB       Missouri

11        CIN      Devin Bush                 ILB       Michigan

12        GB       Marquise Brown          WR      Oklahoma

13        MIA     Rashan Gary              DE       Michigan

14        ATL     Christian Wilkins         DT       Clemson

15        WSH   D.K. Metcalf                WR      Ole Miss

16        CAR    Montez Sweat             DE       Miss. State

17        NYG    (CLE) Brian Burns      Edge    Florida State

18        MIN     Jonah Williams            OT/G   Alabama

19        TEN     Noah Fant                   TE       Iowa

20        PIT      Byron Murphy             CB       Washington

21        SEA     Jeffery Simmons        DT       Miss. State

22        BAL     Clelin Ferrell                DE       Clemson

23        HOU    Andre Dillard               OT       Washington State

24        OAK    (CHI) Josh Jacobs      RB       Alabama

25        PHI      Greedy Williams         CB       LSU

26        IND      Johnathan Abram       S          Miss. State

27        OAK    (DAL)Deandre Baker  CB       Georgia

28        LAC     Cody Ford                   OT/G   Oklahoma

29        KC       Garrett Bradbury         C         NC State

30        GB       (NO)   Irv Smith Jr.    TE       Alabama

31        LAR     Chris Lindstrom           G         Boston College

32        NE       L.J. Collier                   DE       TCU

 

NFC NORTH

 

DETROIT

The DB spied this in a comment on a story about AARON RODGERS.

 

The Lions now have a four-game winning streak against the Packers.

 

They have won 15 games the last two seasons.  4-0 against Green Bay.  11-17 against the rest of the league.

 

 

GREEN BAY

QB AARON RODGERS has opened up about his health in 2018.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The knee injury that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered in Week One last season didn’t keep him off the field for long, but it did continue to affect him.

 

Rodgers said on ESPN Milwaukee that his knee injury hurt long after he returned to the field to lead the Packers to an opening Sunday night win over the Bears.

 

“I had a tibial plateau fracture and obviously an MCL sprain,” Rodgers said. “So that was very painful. If you watch the hit back, just my two bones here that come together on the outside just kind of made an indent fracture. Very painful.”

 

Rodgers’ season ended early in Week 17 when he suffered a concussion in the final game of the season. He said that was a bad one.

 

“It’s disappointing how it ended, getting that concussion was disappointing and also a little scary, honestly. I couldn’t see. I lost vision,” Rodgers said.

 

Some thought Rodgers should have been sidelined for the season once the Packers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, and if he had been, he would have been spared that concussion. This year, keeping Rodgers healthy will be a primary concern for the Packers.

 

– – –

Todd McShay is drafting weapons for QB AARON RODGERS:

 

Round 1 (12): Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Round 1 (30): Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama

Round 2 (44): Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland

Round 3 (75): Germaine Pratt, OLB, NC State

 

I’ve been preaching for months that the Packers need to get Aaron Rodgers some help in this draft. Getting a burner with the ability to pluck and run like Brown would be a huge win. But why stop there. Let’s get a matchup nightmare in Smith at the tail end of the first. The Packers were aggressive in free agency on defense — Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos are all in Wisconsin for 2019 — and Savage further shores up the secondary. Pratt could make an impact in the edge-rushing rotation as a rookie.

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

The Cowboys have taken care of DE DeMARCUS LAWRENCE, giving him five years of big money even with an operation pending.

 

Next up, QB DAK PRESCOTT.  This from the Dallas Morning News:

 

On Friday, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence signed a $105 million deal over five years, with $65 million guaranteed and paid over the first three seasons, sources told The Dallas Morning News’ Kate Hairopoulos. Lawrence will get a $25 million signing bonus and $31.1 million in 2019 — the highest first-year payout for a non-quarterback, according to NFL.com.

 

So who’s next? Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are in the final years of their rookie deals. Wide receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones will be playing on their fifth-year team options during the 2019 season.

 

While Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones did not want to commit to solely focusing on one player’s extension, in an appearance on ESPN’s 103.3 JaM Session Monday morning, he did say that Dallas would like to extend Prescott before the season starts.

 

“I mean, that’s what we’d like to do,” Jones said. “You don’t get to control those things.

 

“There’s two sides to this. We’ve really never just gotten into the weeds in terms with Dak himself in terms of what his preference is. I know he’s focused on winning and really getting as many players as he can out there working so we can have a great team next year.

 

“At the same time I’m sure it’ll be coming. There will be a point in time where we all get around and say, ‘Hey, let’s get this done by a certain time and put it behind us.'”

 

At the NFL combine in Indianapolis in late February, Jones told The News’ Jon Machota that Prescott “deserves to have his contract looked at in a very progressive way.” He said as much in Monday’s interview with ESPN, also harping on the fact that quarterback extensions “gotta be team friendly.”

 

In a recent episode of “Ballzy” — The News’ sports podcast — Cowboys insider David Moore said a new deal for Dak could be in the average range of $25 million-$28 million.

 

Tim Cowlishaw also recently wrote that Russell Wilson’s contract situation in Seattle is worth watching from a Cowboys perspective (he delves into why here).

 

Another thing to keep in mind: the six highest-paid quarterbacks for the 2018-19 seasons — Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Oakland’s Derek Carr — all did not make the playoffs.

 

Jones emphasized that Prescott’s next deal must be team friendly.

 

“At the same time, and I know Dak wants this, you want a supporting cast,” Jones said on ESPN Radio. “That’s the way to go down as being one of the great quarterbacks to ever play the game: win championships.

 

“There’s been a lot of good players who won a lot of games and have good stats, but if you don’t have championships, certainly there’s an empty feeling there. I know Dak. His No. 1 goal here is to win Super Bowl championships. He’s a winner; he’s a leader.

 

“I just feel good that we’ll find our way to a place that the contract enables us to surround him with a great supporting cast which a lot of it’s in place. If you look at our offensive line, look at our receiving core, you look at Zeke: a lot of it’s there. Obviously with [Jason] Witten coming back and some young tight ends, certainly that’s a nice spot for us, too. So we’ve just gotta keep building on that and be able to fit Dak in.

 

“He certainly deserves to be paid fairly. He’s a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, as we all know. He’s never made a lot of money, per se, with his contract. Certainly deserves to be paid and be paid fairly.”

 

And while Jones did not want to divulge what contracts the team deemed comparable to what Prescott could eventually sign for — ESPN’s Bill Barnwell recently theorized a six-year, $168 million deal with $60 million guaranteed — he did offer his thoughts on why he thinks Prescott deserves to be paid.

 

“I just think he’s got rare intangibles: his ability to interact with the team [in the] offseason, during the season, on the field, off the field,” Jones said. “He’s very well respected by all parts of our team, and that’s rare. Some guys get along with DBs, some guys get along with their receivers, some guys get along with the offensive line. Dak just has a way with not only getting along with the offensive side of the ball, but with all facets of the team. So his leadership skills.

 

“He’s the hardest worker out there. He’ll go with any group at any time. If groups need to split up you’ll see him out there sometimes three times a day throwing.”

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Here is how Todd McShay of ESPN.com would make the Giants happy:

 

Round 1 (6): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Round 1 (17): Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State

Round 2 (37): Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State

Round 3 (95): Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama

 

The Giants have a lot of needs, but everything starts at quarterback. Haskins is the purest passer in the draft, so that’s a no-brainer for me at No. 6 overall. If Haskins is there, I’m taking him. OK, now we need a pass-rusher. Enter Burns, who had 10 sacks for the Seminoles in 2018. Howard would help improve the offensive line in front of Haskins (or Eli Manning if the Giants smartly let Haskins learn behind the veteran for a bit), and then New York gets real value with Wilson’s coverage ability all the way at the back of Round 3.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles get Greedy, literally, is Todd McShay’s Grade A Mock:

 

Round 1 (25): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Round 2 (53): Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State

Round 2 (57): Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

 

Philly needs some secondary help after the team allowed the third-highest passing yardage in 2018. Williams is what we call a buffet tackler — he picks and chooses — but he has length and speed to overcome it and contribute. Thompson is rangy, with good ball skills on the back end. Jenkins would provide some depth behind Jason Kelce at center, though he has the versatility to play other positions.

 

That’s three SEC West players, we note.

 

 

WASHINGTON

Todd McShay seems to be letting the Redskins “trade” for QB JOSH ROSEN – without giving up any key draft picks:

 

Round 1 (15): D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Round 2 (46): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

Round 3 (76): Chuma Edoga, OT/G, USC

Round 3 (96): Joe Jackson, DE, Miami (Fla.)

 

Let’s begin by saying I’d trade for Josh Rosen. That opens up some opportunities, including taking Metcalf at No. 15. The tales of Metcalf’s physicality, strength and speed are well-documented at this point, and he’d fit in nicely on a team that has been hunting for a receiver for years. Gardner-Johnson could eventually be a starting safety, but I like him as a nickelback to begin his NFL career, incidentally filling a hole here for Washington. Edoga handles speed rushers well, and Jackson is disruptive as a pass-rusher.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

The Falcons have brought former Saints DT TYLER DAVISON in for a visit reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  A total of 3.5 sacks over the last four years does not bode well for an upgrade to the Atlanta pass rush should he sign.

 

 

CAROLINA

Will these top two players really be available to the Panthers where Todd McShay has them going?

 

Round 1 (16): Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Round 2 (47): Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

Round 3 (77): Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn

Round 3 (100): Michael Deiter, OT, Wisconsin

 

Sweat was spectacular at the Senior Bowl and combine, earning a bump in draft stock. The Panthers really want an edge rusher after registering just 35 sacks in 2018, so he is the logical pick here. Adderley and Dean bring a little life to a slightly barren secondary, and Deiter gives Carolina a versatile lineman to help make up for the loss of the Kalil brothers.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

QB KYLER MURRAY will be visiting the Cardinals.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

However you measure the team’s level of need at the quarterback position, the Cardinals have definitely been doing their homework on Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and that will continue over the next couple of days.

 

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that the former Oklahoma quarterback and center of intrigue about the Cardinals’ plans for the first overall pick in the draft is headed to Arizona on Tuesday for a visit with the team. Garafolo notes that Murray’s agent Erik Burkhardt, who also reps Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, will be joining him on the trip.

 

The fact that the quarterback and head coach share an agent shouldn’t be a driver in any decision that Arizona will make about drafting Murray. There have been enough other dots to connect between team and player to make a strong case for the Cardinals picking a quarterback in the first round for the second straight year, however, and this week’s visit will go into that category.

 

If they do go that route, the expectation is that they’d trade last year’s first-round pick but it remains unclear what kind of trade market there is for Josh Rosen.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Shalize Manza Young of YahooSports.com on two veteran kickers whose last names start with G:

 

One of the offseason stories that has gotten very little attention, at least nationally, is the fact that longtime New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is unsigned.

 

The two-time first-team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler became a free agent last month, and there was an ESPN report on Sunday that New England is looking for “a market correction of sorts” after Gostkowski’s 2015 extension made him the highest-paid kicker.

 

But the Patriots may have some competition.

 

Report: 49ers showing interest

Citing a league source, Matt Maiocco of NBCSports Bay Area reports that the San Francisco 49ers are showing interest in Gostkowski.

 

The Niners are having an issue with their own kicker, Robbie Gould. The team has designated Gould as its franchise player for this year, but Gould has yet to sign the tender; Maiocco writes the player and San Francisco “appear to be at odds.”

 

49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL owners’ meetings last month that the team had worked “very hard” on an extension with Gould before tendering him. Gould signed a two-year, $4 million contract with San Francisco in 2017.

 

There is a mid-July deadline for franchise tagged players and their respective teams to reach an agreement on an extension, or the player must play the season on the tag (or hold out, or skip the season á la Le’Veon Bell).

 

Maiocco writes that negotiations appear to be at an impasse currently, though deadlines always seem to spur action in the NFL.

 

Could Gostkowski, Gould swap jerseys?

Clearly nothing has happened yet, but Gostkowski has become a New England mainstay and the second-longest tenured player on the team, behind, of course, Tom Brady.

 

As Maiocco notes, Gould and Gostkowski are the second- and third-most accurate kickers in NFL history, though they are just percentage points apart – Gould has made 87.745 percent of his kicks, while Gostkowski has made 87.381 percent.

 

Undrafted in 2005, the 36-year-old Gould got his start in New England: the Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent and had him in camp, but that season ultimately went with Vinatieri, who was on the franchise tag. If the Niners signed Gostkowski or another kicker, they’d likely release Gould from the tag, freeing him to go elsewhere.

 

Bill Belichick has always spoken highly of Gould, so it would certainly be interesting if the kicker’s career came full circle and he returned to New England.

 

 

SEATTLE

As we look at Todd McShay’s “A” draft for Seattle, we note the Seahawks don’t have much ammo:

 

Round 1 (21): Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Round 3 (84): Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia

 

I’m just dealing with the Simmons ACL injury for a year. It’s worth it at this point in the draft. He’s extremely talented and fits with Seattle. Then I’ll take Calvin Ridley’s brother to give Russell Wilson a weapon in the middle of the field.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

Todd McShay drafts DREW LOCK, among others, for the Broncos:

 

Round 1 (10): Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Round 2 (41): Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

Round 3 (71): Nate Davis, OT/G, Charlotte

 

Based on how the first nine picks went, I’m taking Lock here. Develop the mobile gunslinger under Joe Flacco’s tutelage before you let him shred defenses by throwing bullets at his new slot receiver. Once Samuel has the ball in his hands, it’s tough to tackle him. Davis, the Broncos’ third-rounder, makes up for the loss of Billy Turner on the offensive line.

 

 

THE RAIDERS

Here is how Todd McShay of ESPN.com sees the Raiders using their amassed riches:

 

Oakland Raiders

Round 1 (4): Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

Round 1 (24): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

Round 1 (27): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Round 2 (35): Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

 

It would be hard for the Raiders to botch this situation. Three first-round picks, including No. 4 overall, give Jon Gruden a lot of options. Allen recorded 17 sacks last season in the SEC, so he’d be welcomed to a defense that recorded just 13 as a whole last season. Jacobs’ violent running style puts an exclamation mark on the rebuilt Oakland running game, which now features Isaiah Crowell. Rounding out the early Raiders selections are a pair of cornerbacks to start anew in the secondary. Baker has the best instincts of the defensive backs in the class.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

QB ANDY DALTON sounds invigorated by Cincinnati’s coaching change.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Bengals begin their offseason program on Tuesday and that means Zac Taylor will get his first chance to work directly with the team’s players since he became the head coach in Cincinnati earlier this year.

 

Taylor replaces Marvin Lewis after Lewis spent 16 years on the job and the changes in the organization go further than that. There are renovations being done to the team’s facility and that adds to quarterback Andy Dalton‘s feeling that Tuesday is the start of a new era for the team.

 

“With Zac getting here and the whole change … let’s make it all feel new and feel different,” Dalton said, via the team’s website. “I think he’s done great. From the day he stepped in here you felt the change. Obviously he had a plan for what he wanted and they’re doing it here. You can see it with all the construction happening here and the way the staff came together. They’re all in for what Zac is wanting to do.”

 

Dalton’s presence means that the team is stopping short of a total overhaul, but that could come in time. There are no current plans to extend his contract and how he responds to the new state of affairs will determine if that changes at any point this year.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

Bill Belichick has a lot of darts to throw against the wall – and according to Todd McShay’s “A” Mock Draft these are all bullseyes:

 

Round 1 (32): L.J. Collier, DE, TCU

Round 2 (56): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Round 2 (64): JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford

Round 3 (73): Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss

Round 3 (97): Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State

Round 3 (101): Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn

 

Wow, do the Patriots have a lot of picks! It makes my job easy here as the fill-in GM. Jones is a developmental QB project for Bill Belichick to work on before Tom Brady hands over the keys to the offense. Collier is effective both as a pass-rusher and against the run. Then we can get some weapons on offense. Arcega-Whiteside is a big red zone target, and a pair of tight ends would be a step toward finding a Rob Gronkowski replacement. It would be the third time in the Belichick era that the Patriots took two tight ends in the same draft.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

XFL RULES

There will be no kicking of PATs in the XFL says Commissioner Oliver Luck.  And some TDs could be worth as much as nine points.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Appearing on Monday’s #PFTPM, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said that touchdowns in the new league will result in the scoring team deciding whether to go for one point, two points, or three points.

 

The one-point conversion would come not from a kick but from a scrimmage play at the two. Two points would be scored after a successful conversion from the five. And three points would be scored for a successful conversion from the 10.

 

Luck said that the league considered moving the three-point conversion to the 15, but that the coaches believed defenses would more easily defend the end zone with that much territory to cover.

 

Unlike the AAF, which eliminated the one-point play and made only a two-pointer available, a team scoring a touchdown in the XFL will emerge with 6, 7, 8, or 9 points.

 

 

JOHN FOOTBALL

Johnny Football is no more.

 

Johnny Manziel is making his life more simple, at least when it comes to his name, announcing that he is going by John now.

 

Appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Monday, the former Cleveland Browns quarterback said: “I have a little update for you. I actually go by John these days. So, I’m kind of just turning over the page and moving forward a little bit.”

 

He was asked if this means he’s growing up.

 

“Getting there, I guess,” Manziel said.

 

The 26-year-old signed with the Memphis Express of the AAF in March, but his stint was a short one because the league shut down before completing a season. Manziel suffered a head injury in his final appearance.

 

“Seeing how fast the AAF just evaporated, it caught me as a surprise a little bit because I was having so much fun in Memphis, probably more fun than I’ve had since my last game at Texas A&M vs. Duke,” Manziel said.

 

“My plan moving forward is to wake up every day with … to get back on the field, to continue to work on my craft, whether that’s in San Diego with [QB guru] George Whitfield and continue to try to get back to what I think I was — a little bit of a surgeon with the football in my hand. I feel good, and I’m just going to continue to keep my head down and keep working on what matters the most to me, and that’s football.”

 

Manziel joined the AAF after being released by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. That league also said he couldn’t play for another CFL team. Manziel wouldn’t go into much detail regarding his Canadian stint, except to say it didn’t turn out the way he had anticipated it would.

 

Manziel was taken by Cleveland with the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. But after two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released him in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter.

 

Manziel has dealt with several off-field issues. In 2016, a domestic assault charge against him in Dallas was dismissed after he took an anger management course and participated in the NFL’s substance abuse program. In a recent interview, he said he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has stopped drinking.

 

He was asked Monday if he had any leads with NFL teams.

 

“Right now I have open discussions with a couple of coaches in the league,” he said. “I’m trying not to get too up about it or anything that comes my way, so I’m just taking it day by day and trying to make the best of what’s going on.”

 

Manziel is encouraged by the rise of smaller, more mobile QBs such as Kyler Murray. Six-foot Manziel broke the mold of the tall pocket passer while winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M.

 

“I think it’s finally trending to ‘can you play ball or can you not play,’ and if you can, and somebody believes in you and says we’re going to tailor some of these things around you to be successful, I think that’s the recipe for success, not that you’re undersized or a dual threat or whatever it is,” Manziel said.

 

He knows that he didn’t make the most of his first stint in the NFL.

 

“You’re as good in the NFL as you are prepared for it. I learned that the hard way my first year in Cleveland,” he said.

 

 

2019 DRAFT

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com ranks the teams most likely to trade up or down:

 

Ranking the five teams most likely to trade up

 

1. New England Patriots

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (32); two second-round picks (56, 64); three third-round picks (73, 97, 101)

 

It’s a well-worn draft axiom that Bill Belichick likes to trade down and amass picks, because he’s usually picking at the bottom of the first round and choosing among players he has graded as second-rounders anyway. But last year, the Pats stood pat and made two first-round picks, one of which was a running back. You can’t be sure of anything anymore.

 

There’s a thought around the league that the Rob Gronkowski retirement leaves the Patriots hungry for offensive playmakers. This first round is strong at tight end, and New England has 12 total picks — tied with the Giants for most in this draft. That enables the Pats to move up if there’s a tight end or playmaking wide receiver within range of where they sit at No. 32.

 

Of course, if that doesn’t happen, you could easily see the Patriots trading down instead of up, because oftentimes teams like to come up to that 32nd pick to secure a player with a fifth-year option.

 

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (25); two second-round picks (53, 57)

 

Philly is another win-now team looking for instant-impact players, but the speculation around the league is that the Eagles would look to move up from No. 25 if an offensive tackle they like starts to tumble.

 

Jason Peters is 37, and the Eagles can’t afford to get caught short on the offensive line anytime soon. The Titans are picking 19th and have just six picks in the draft, and the Seahawks are picking 21st and have a draft-low four picks. Those are a couple of spots where a team like Philly could make a deal with a team looking to add another pick.

 

3. Miami Dolphins

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (13); one second-round pick (48); one third-round pick (78)

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick obviously isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback, and though there have been whispers of the Dolphins potentially wanting to wait until next year’s draft — which appears to be loaded at quarterback — to find their franchise guy, that strategy can be risky.

 

If they have someone they really like at quarterback in this class, they might have to move up from No. 13 to get him. The 49ers at No. 2 and the Jets at No. 3 are both looking to move down, and if that’s too far for the Dolphins to jump, don’t rule out pick No. 5, as Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht hasn’t been averse to trading down in the past.

 

4. New York Giants

Top draft assets: Two first-round picks (6, 17); one second-round pick (37); one third-round pick (95)

 

With two first-round picks, the Giants are positioned to get just about anyone they want if they package both in a trade. Indications are that they’re not excited about doing that, though, and that they’re more likely to use the No. 17 pick (the one they got from Cleveland in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade) to address their long-term quarterback issue.

 

That would mean taking a defensive building block at No. 6, then potentially moving up from No. 17 if they want to get someone like Drew Lock, Daniel Jones or Dwayne Haskins, if he starts to tumble. There remains a chance the Giants could make a deal for Arizona’s Josh Rosen if he becomes available, but sources close to the situation say the Giants aren’t certain about Rosen at this point.

 

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (11); one second-round pick (42); one third-round pick (72)

 

Even though new coach Zac Taylor has professed his admiration for incumbent starter Andy Dalton, there’s a lot of noise around the Bengals and the top quarterback prospects in this draft. They sit at No. 11 in the first round, but they have 11 total picks — more than any team but the Patriots and Giants. If Cincinnati needs to get into the top 10 to secure someone like Haskins, it is positioned to do it.

 

Ranking the five teams most likely to trade down

 

1. Seattle Seahawks

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (21); one third-round pick (84)

 

The Seahawks have only four total picks, and just two in the top 120. (They traded their second-round pick to Houston in the Duane Brown deal and their sixth- and seventh-rounders to Green Bay and Oakland in smaller deals.)

 

Sitting at No. 21 in the first round, the Seahawks hold a pick that could be of interest to teams, as it’s roughly the point in the first round at which rookie contracts stop being fully guaranteed. Seattle needs draft capital and will have the “For Sale” sign out.

 

2. Baltimore Ravens

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (22); two third-round picks (85, 102)

 

One pick behind the Seahawks, the Ravens (with eight total picks) don’t have as significant of a need to add capital but still are always on the lookout for a deal.

 

They need to fill a lot of holes on defense, and if the high-impact guys are drying up by No. 22, Baltimore has shown that it’s nimble enough in the draft to slide down a couple of spots and maximize value.

 

3. Tennessee Titans

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (19); one second-round pick (51); one third-round pick (82)

 

Mentioned above as a possible partner for teams looking to trade up, Tennessee holds the No. 19 pick and just five others. The Titans also had just four picks in last year’s draft.

 

4. New York Jets

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (3); two third-round picks (68, 93)

 

The Jets would love to replicate the Colts’ end of their own pre-draft deal from last March and recoup at least one of the second-round picks it cost them to move up for Sam Darnold. They have made it clear the No. 3 pick is for sale.

 

If Arizona takes Kyler Murray No. 1 overall, the Jets’ pick (and the 49ers’ pick at No. 2 overall) could become a lot more valuable to teams trying to move up to get the quarterbacks they want.

 

5. Washington

Top draft assets: One first-round pick (15); one second-round pick (46); two third-round picks (76, 96)

 

This one could go either way. Washington is the current favorite among league insiders to acquire Rosen if and when the Cardinals move him. If it doesn’t trade for him, Washington could be a trade-up candidate on the lookout for a Haskins or Lock.

 

If it does get Rosen, it’s going to cost it one or a couple of its nine 2019 picks, and the team could slide back to try to recoup some of that cost.

 

Where the Oakland Raiders fit in

Oakland has three first-round picks — Nos. 4, 24 and 27. It has its own pick, the Bears’ pick (from the Khalil Mack trade) and the Cowboys’ pick (from the Amari Cooper trade). The Giants and Packers each have two first-round picks, but having three (as well as a high second-round pick at No. 35) gives the Raiders the ability to maneuver in any direction they want.

 

They could deal down from No. 4 if someone makes a great offer. They could package Nos. 24 and 27 to move way up and take a second premium player. They could pick a quarterback if they love one (some think they love Murray, others think Jon Gruden is a big Lock fan), or they could help dictate who gets to move up to take one.

 

This is the payoff from last year’s sell-off, and all eyes will be on Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock to see what they do with these picks

 

– – –

 

Charles Davis of NFL.com lists the 31 players for whom he has a first round grade.

 

With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine and pro days in the books, teams are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their evaluations of this year’s prospects. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to unveil my ranking of the players who, in my estimation, are worthy of a first-round grade. I did consult with NFL front office personnel in putting this list together, but I relied on my own study and research to make a final determination on where to slot the prospects.

 

Now, obviously, with 32 selections in Round 1, I haven’t included enough players to fill every first-round slot, but that’s not the goal of this piece. You can check out my most recent mock draft to see my projection for the draft’s first 32 picks. These are the 31 prospects most deserving of that lofty first-round status, in my humble opinion.

 

1 – Nick Bosa, Edge

Ohio State | Year: Junior

He’s all ball all the time, and he might be the best player in the draft. He’s certainly No. 1 on my list.

 

2 – Josh Allen, Edge

Kentucky | Year: Senior

Got better every year in school and exploded with a 17-sack season in 2018. His best football is still ahead of him.

 

3 – Quinnen Williams, DT

Alabama | Year: Sophomore (RS)

The best “game wrecker” as an inside rusher in the draft. Emerged in a huge way during the 2018 season for the Crimson Tide.

 

4 – Devin White, LB

LSU | Year: Junior

Flies to the ball, and when he arrives, he makes the ball carrier regret accepting the assignment.

 

5 – Ed Oliver, DT

Houston | Year: Junior

Last year’s consensus preseason selection for best DT in this draft class, Oliver’s an intriguing mix of speed, quickness and power as an undersized player at the position.

 

6 – Christian Wilkins, DT

Clemson | Year: Senior

His movement skills make him a strong prospect as a DT. Won the National Football Foundation’s coveted Campbell Trophy as the top student-athlete in CFB — a.k.a. the academic Heisman.

 

7 – Montez Sweat, Edge

Mississippi State | Year: Senior

Followed up a wonderful career at Mississippi State with a phenomenal NFL Scouting Combine run of 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Gets to the passer and can play the run, too.

 

8 – Rashan Gary, Edge

School: Michigan | Year: Junior

People will have questions about his production at Michigan, but he offers a rare blend of size, strength, speed and versatility.

 

9 – Dwayne Haskins, QB

Ohio State | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Looks like the prototypical QB we sought for years in the NFL. Big arm and production in one season as a starter. There are questions about his pocket elusiveness.

 

10 – Kyler Murray, QB

Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)

The most dynamic playmaker by far in this year’s QB crop. A big play waiting to happen on every snap and the likely first overall pick (by the Cardinals, it appears).

 

11 – Noah Fant, TE

Iowa | Year: Junior

The best pure pass catcher at his position. Can really run at his size (6-foot-4, 249 pounds) and will block. My top-rated TE.

 

12 – T.J. Hockenson, TE

Iowa | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Many view him as the most complete TE in the class. He mauls people at the line of scrimmage as a blocker. Excellent receiver, too.

 

13 – Jeffery Simmons, DT

Mississippi State | Year: Junior

If he didn’t have the ACL tear he suffered in February and some off-field concerns, he’d be firmly in the mix for a top-10 selection. He’s a top-10 talent.

 

14 –  Josh Jacobs, RB

Alabama | Year: Junior

Often was the third RB in Alabama’s rotation, but he’s the top back in this year’s draft. Excellent explosiveness through the hole, with good hands as a pass catcher.

 

15 – Devin Bush, LB

Michigan | Year: Junior

Great genes (his dad was an NFL safety), with a good ability to diagnose and then explode to the point of attack.

 

16 – Jawaan Taylor, OT

Florida | Year: Junior

A mauler at right tackle in his career with the Gators.

 

17 – Marquise Brown, WR

Oklahoma | Year: Junior

Had to play through injuries during his final college season, and it hindered him in the CFB playoff game vs. Alabama. Prior to that? Averaged over 18 yards per catch in two seasons at OU, scoring 17 TDs. He’s expected to be ready for training camp as he recovers from offseason Lisfranc surgery.

 

18 – Andre Dillard, OT

Washington State | Year: Senior (RS)

Tremendous technician. Best pass-protecting OT in the draft.

 

19 – Jonah Williams, OL

Alabama | Year: Junior

Skilled competitor. Can certainly be a starter at OT, but I like him better as an OG.

 

20 – Clelin Ferrell, Edge

Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)

Rangy build, plays with leverage and punch. Add in a smart, effective pass rush, and you’ve got a top prospect.

 

21 – D.K. Metcalf, WR

Mississippi | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Very strong, with straight-line speed in the low 4.3s. He can run past, through and play over the top of DBs.

 

22 – Garrett Bradbury, C

N.C. State | Year: Senior (RS)

He’ll be a plug-and-play guy at center for the team that drafts him. He’s had an excellent postseason, starring at the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the combine.

 

23 – Byron Murphy, CB

Washington | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Some may question his size (5-11, 190; added some good weight for his pre-draft workouts), and some see him strictly as an inside CB, but I’m crazy about his instincts and willingness to play against the run.

 

24 – Brian Burns, Edge

Florida State | Year: Junior

Has added some needed weight in the run-up to the draft, and will add more prior to the 2019 season. Often rushed off the edge like an OLB.

 

25 – Drew Lock, QB

Missouri | Year: Senior

The top-rated senior QB. A nice combination of arm talent and upside.

 

26 – Deandre Baker, CB

Georgia | Year: Senior

Demanded the opportunity to match up with the opposition’s WR1 each week while at Georgia. Super competitive. Wants to contest every throw to the man he’s covering.

 

27 – Greedy Williams, CB

LSU | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Plenty of length, speed to burn, with a nose for the ball. Built to take on today’s big and tall NFL WRs.

 

28 – Cody Ford, OT

Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)

Held down the right tackle spot with a flourish on the best overall O-line in CFB. Definitely can be an OT, but some may project him to kick inside to OG.

 

29 – Johnathan Abram, S

Mississippi State | Year: Senior

A tough safety who plays his best football inside the box.

 

30 – Irv Smith Jr., TE

Alabama | Year: Junior

A bit undersized, but a tremendous downfield threat and a willing blocker. Really emerged in 2018.

 

31 – Taylor Rapp, S

Washington | Year: Junior

I know teams will downgrade him based on his pro day 40-yard dash, but I love what I see on tape from Rapp. He’s a first-rounder in my book.

 

– – –

This is a couple of weeks old – but here is how Joel Klatt sees/saw the top of the draft.  It was presented in reverse order on video, which is interesting to see laid out in print.

 

10 – DENVER

Andre Dillard, T, Washington

 

9 – BUFFALO

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

 

8 – DETROIT

Clelin Farrell, DE, Clemson

 

7 – JACKSONVILLE

Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State

 

6 – NEW YORK GIANTS

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

 

5 – TAMPA BAY

Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

 

4 – OAKLAND

Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky

 

3 – NEW YORK JETS

Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

 

2 – SAN FRANCISCO

Joey Bosa, Edge, Ohio State

 

1 – ARIZONA

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

 

The whole round is laid out at the end of this video.

– – –

A panel at TheMMQB.com has this to say about QB DREW LOCK:

 

The MMQB has asked three quarterbacking experts—long-time front-office exec and scout Joey Clinkscales, long-time coach and coordinator Todd Haley, and long-time NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski—to assess the top QB prospects of the 2019 draft. The QB Panel Film Room series continues with Missouri’s Drew Lock…

 

FRONT OFFICE: Joey Clinkscales                   

Former Director of Player Personnel, Oakland Raiders; Vice President of College Scouting, New York Jets

 

Drew Lock is a player that has size, mobility and enough athleticism along with a good arm to be a good pro player. His play can frustrate you at times with the turnovers, or timing of the turnovers. There are other times when you wish he had the feel or awareness to step up in the pocket rather than being flush outside. He has a talented arm, can change arm angles and when he steps to target can be effective downfield as a passer. He will throw flat-footed or with a wide base, which effects his accuracy. There are times when you need to throw off your back foot to get the ball out quickly and he certainly has enough arm to do that. He’s not under the center a lot but have seen him there. While I haven’t seen the final stats on the season, in the games viewed the turnovers and timing of them were problematic. He had a fumbled snap one game in the rain, he opened a game with an interception on the first pass and had a sack fumble and another interception in the end zone in same game. All that said, he can throw strikes on demand.

 

Strengths: Arm/arm talent, mobility, solid athlete, tough, accuracy short.

 

Weaknesses: Base/footwork at times, inconsistent to step to target, will try to force ball into tight windows, bad turnovers at times, pocket feel at times.

 

Unknown: While the leadership is unknown, he is a four-year guy that had a new coordinator this season and picked things up pretty quickly, but I don’t know his ability to communicate with others.

 

Player comp: Watching him play and his demeanor on-field at times reminds me of Jay Cutler. Maybe not as big of an arm and not as athletic but overall ability and on-field demeanor leads me to that comparison.

 

Ideal landing spot: Giants, Miami, Cincinnati, and Washington are teams that initially standout. All have a need or would consider at the appropriate value.

 

Can he be a starter in 2019?: I don’t know if he could be an opening day starter at any of these teams.

 

Potential to become a franchise QB: I think if things go well you could build around this player and his skill set, so he could develop into a long term starter given the opportunity. I’m not sure I see this guy as a franchise-type QB; those guys are really hard to come by and his play on an NFL field will determine if he can be that type of player.

 

COACH: Todd Haley

Former Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs; Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals

 

Player Comp: There’s some Phillip Rivers to him.

 

Ideal landing spot: Pittsburgh Steelers. He would do well sitting and learning from a guy like Ben.

 

Can he be a starter in 2019?: It would be best to learn from a vet.

 

Potential to become a franchise QB: He has the skill set and tools to be a starter long term. He has an advantage because he has three-plus years starting and he is 22 years old. I like the tools and what I have heard about his leadership.

 

QUARTERBACK: Bruce Gradkowski

Former Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Strengths: Drew Lock has a ton of college experience and confidence that he’s bringing with him to the NFL. He has the arm strength and stature of an NFL franchise quarterback. He has a quick release and can flick the ball right out of his hand. Lock has the ability to fit the ball into tight windows. He’s smart and athletic to make some plays outside of the pocket. I like that he is also a good basketball player—usually that athleticism helps to be able to react and see the field. I believe Lock brings some of his basketball talents to the football field. I was impressed with the accurate throws he has been able to make even when the wide receiver route was poor. This demonstrates the ability to adapt to things off-script.

 

Weaknesses: Lock has all the physical qualities you would want in an NFL quarterback but this doesn’t guarantee success. His system in college didn’t prepare him much for this moment. Lock has to continue to develop his footwork within the pocket and within his throwing motion. At times he tends to throw all arm and fall away from his throws. He also aims the ball too often instead of letting it rip. He could get away with it in college because he has all the arm talent you could wish for and some games were against lesser talent. When I watched him play against tougher opponents his footwork and inconsistent delivery would catch up with him. He tends to drop his elbow when he’s under pressure, on the run, or off-balance. This can be an asset at times to help create room to deliver the football in a tight pocket, or when someone is in his face, but his accuracy fell when his elbow dropped.

 

Player comp: Drew Lock is between a Carson Wentz and Jay Cutler. Lock is not as athletic or as polished as Wentz, but as a passer they have a similar style. The way he stands in the pocket and drops the ball reminds me of Cutler.

 

Ideal landing spot: Los Angeles Chargers. The best thing for Lock would be to learn behind a proven, veteran quarterback. He needs to watch and learn while also fine-tuning his footwork and becoming more consistent as a thrower. We know Rivers isn’t getting any younger, and the Chargers need to start looking for his replacement. Lock has a high ceiling and this would be a perfect fit for both sides.

 

Can he be a starter in 2019?: Ideally, no! He has the arm strength to get him through but he would have more downs than ups if he had to play in 2019. I think he would be serviceable at best as a starter in 2019 and for his long-term future, I hope we don’t see him much in 2019.

 

Potential to become a franchise QB: Lock needs to become more consistent as a thrower from a mechanics standpoint. Consistency is what allows for a long-term career and he needs to improve in that area. His arm talent should get him plenty of opportunities to make it in this league and I believe he will improve his lower body when he throws and have a lengthy NFL career.