With the NFL Draft less than a week away, things are heating up on the rumor mill big time.
Most recently, reports popped up that two star offensive players in the AFC could be moved here soon. As it relates to the draft, one top quarterback prospect could see a dramatic drop down the board once Round 1 gets going Thursday.
These are among the top rumors heading into the draft. Here, we look at whether said rumors are fair or foul.
Fair: Odell Beckham Jr. on the block
While a report this past week suggesting that Cleveland was close to trading Beckham Jr. to the Vikings proved to be false, there seems to be some legitimate belief that he will be dealt. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman points to OBJ’s on-field relationship with Baker Mayfield as one of the primary reasons the receiver will be traded.
It would have to happen during next week’s NFL Draft, but I firmly believe that these rumors have some substance to them. Browns general manager Andrew Berry does not have a built-in relationship with Beckham. That will certainly play a role here. If Cleveland can get a first-round pick and change for the star receiver, look for it to happen.
Foul: Tua Tagovailoa’s dramatic fall
The reports surrounding this former Alabama standout over the past several days have not been good. One former NFL general manager believes Tua will eventually need hip replacement surgery. Some teams have taken him off their board altogether. It’s led to suggestions that he could face a steep fall come Thursday evening.
I am not buying into that. For one, the Miami Dolphins have been obsessed with Tagovailoa since before the start of last season. There’s a ton of quarterback-needy teams selecting in the top-12 this year. Don’t expect Tua to last past the Raiders with that selection, even if it is another team trading up to acquire the former Heisman finalist.
Fair: Leonard Fournette could be traded
After yet another disappointing season in Duval, Jaguars general manager David Caldwell is in the midst of blowing things up. He’s already dealt Nick Foles, A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell. A recent report suggests that Fournette could follow that trio out of town.
It’s interesting in that Fournette made news just recently by campaigning for the Jags to sign Cam Newton to compete with Gardner Minshew for the starting quarterback job. That could have led to Jacksonville talking to other teams about the former top-four pick. As it is, this rumor holds some weight.
Despite putting up nearly 1,700 total yards last season, Fournette is viewed as an enigmatic personality within the organization. Caldwell and Co. are looking to change the culture. This could very well lead to a trade during the 2020 NFL Draft.
Foul: C.J. Henderson as a top-10 pick
The 6-foot-1 Henderson is getting a lot of recent play as a potential top-10 pick after being viewed primarily as a mid-to-late Day 1 selection throughout the draft process. Henderson might be the consensus No. 2 corner behind Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, but I just don’t see this happening.
First off, at least four offensive tackles are going to go within the top-10 picks. Add in the three quarterbacks likely to go within that range and the top-end defensive players, and it makes no sense for a team to reach for Henderson. His ceiling is No. 12 overall to the above-mentioned Raiders.
Fair: Lions looking to trade down from three
This is a rumor that has stood the test of time. It started after Detroit locked up the third pick in the draft following a disastrous three-win season under head coach Matt Patricia. It has picked up steam as of late.
The idea is that Detroit is more than one player away from being seen as relevant in the tough NFC North. It could trade down with a quarterback-needy team and still be able to land an impact player at a need position while adding valuable draft pick assets.
There’s even better news on this front for general manager Bob Quinn and Co. As of right now, Joe Burrow and Chase Young are near locks to go one and two respectively. If that’s the case, Detroit is pretty much on the clock. Whether a team is targeting Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert or Tagovailoa, the Lions will get extreme value in a trade down scenario.
Foul: Giants looking to trade down from four
It’s all about protecting young franchise quarterback Daniel Jones. Giants general manager David Gettleman will be targeting an offensive tackle with the fourth pick. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas has been among the most bandied about in recent days.
There’s speculation that New York could trade down and still add a top-flight left tackle to replace Nate Solder. Given how deep this class is at tackle, that makes sense.
Even then, you don’t settle on what’s remaining on the board at one of the game’s most-important positions. New York has an opportunity to get the tackle it believes can hold down the blindside for the next five years. Look for the team to go in that direction rather than trading down.
Fair: Run of offensive linemen
It’s not a foregone conclusion which offensive tackle will be off the board first come Thursday evening. What we do know is that it’s one of the deepest drafts at this position in the modern history of the NFL Draft. It really is the perfect storm for both the prospects and teams targeting one of the game’s most important positions.
In no particular order, Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) and Mekhi Becton (Louisville) are seen as the top-four prospects. Despite Becton’s drug test issues at the NFL Scouting Combine, I fully expect all four to go within the top-10 picks.
Of those selecting within that range, multiple teams are in need of franchise left tackles. As mentioned above, that starts with the Giants at No. 4 overall. It then continues with the Dolphins, Chargers, Panthers, Cardinals and Browns rounding out the top 10. In fact, it would not be a surprise if USC’s Austin Jackson became the fifth tackle off the board in the top 10.
Foul: Patriots to trade up for a quarterback
New England’s unwillingness to add an established veteran to replace Tom Brady has led to speculation that the team will look to move up for a quarterback Thursday night. As of right now, veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer and unproven youngster Jarrett Stidham are the only two quarterbacks on the Patriots’ roster.
I am still not buying into the idea that Bill Belichick is going to trade valuable assets in a move up for a quarterback. Assuming Tua does not drop to the mid first round, there’s no reason to believe this is going to come to fruition.
Instead, New England could potentially stand pat at 23 while adding strong-armed signal caller Jordan Love to the mix. If not, Jacob Eason (Washington), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) and Jake Fromm (Georgia) could be options if the Pats decide to trade into Round 2.