We have more and more on “What I Hear” 24 hours into Thursday’s first round…
• On Wednesday, some teams asked how many first-round scores are on the draft board. One of them told me 18, another said 16, and another two told me, without giving a specific number, that their number is in that range. Which means, depending on how things go down, and with players in mind, these teams will probably be in their second round scores in their 20s.
Now that doesn’t sound great, but it’s not weird. And that, I think, pretty much illustrates this category – lacking in highly skilled people, but catching up on the regular around teens, with strong and unsurprising rookie-level talent available in the third round.
Here’s where I tell you, again: This draft reminds me of 2013, from the lack of top-tier quarterback talent to the class’s strengths (offensive line/passing lunge), to the fact that there are good odds in the Friday second and third rounds. That makes it a bit of an exploratory draft, with it on personnel departments to extract Travis Kelsey or Zach Earts who could develop into something else in the future.
• The biggest question I ask when I ask which bands are trading this weekend is “for what?” I think I can now answer that question – angles.
Depending on how long Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. have been away. From LSU on the board, there could be action in the back half of the top ten, as teams move to land one of the two. Both of them can become, in the appropriate setting, the best player in the entire class. And so, some of the teams that sit between nine and 14 have had talks about moving with the teams in front of them.
• For what it’s worth, Seattle has done a lot of work on Stingley. Putting him in the top ten would be a pretty big departure from the team’s SOPs under Pete Carroll and John Schneider – they haven’t taken a corner above 90 overall in the 12 drafts they’ve taken together.
There’s a real chance it could happen this year, with new coordinator Clint Hurt in the saddle.
The way I think the league sees the corners at the moment – Gardner and Stingley, in some order, then the withdrawal, then Trent McDuffy of Washington, then the withdrawal, then Kiir Elam of Florida, Keeler Gordon of Washington, Andrew Booth of Clemson in some order . And McDuffie is behind Gardner and Stingley because of his size/short arms.
“There is a difference,” said one GM. “But McDuffy is a really good player, a really healthy player.” An AFC executive added that McDuffie “is much cleaner than Stingley for many reasons. Size really is the only blow to McDuffie. He can cover up, he can step in. He’s not very big or strong, but he can play indoors and out, territory or man.” It’s a safer choice than Stingley.”
As for the next group, Booth’s medical condition is an issue for a lot of teams, and Gordon didn’t do as well at Indy as expected. So I think Elam, who posted 40 better than anyone thought, and did a really good job of interviewing, has an excellent shot to be in the fourth corner of the board, probably in his late teens or early twenties.
• I can also see the movement of the dash passes (the only Philly team that detected the move up and it could be a corner or hasty) or receivers. Previously, there’s a real drop after the top four possibilities – Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan, Travon Walker of Georgia, Kevin Tibodo of Oregon and Jermaine Johnson of Florida second.
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As for the latter, I’ve heard giants associated with Bama Jameson Williams’ stove, and hawks are seen as strong candidates for the eighth place—the two names I’ve heard of are University of Southern California’s Drake London and Ohio State. Garrett Wilson. So it’s possible, with the Giants so open to moving down with the No. 1 (7th pick), or even out into next year, and similarly motivating the Panthers in sixth, that some team might try to jump ahead of Atlanta to pick the litter.
• While we were there, there was a lot of speculation about the rise of corporate chiefs – and they made those calls during the 1920s in the last couple of days. I understand why many people think it is for a receiver. And it may be. But I’ve heard it might be for speeding up passing or cornering as well, and I have a scenario that I think is realistic.
The first piece of the 29th will be moved to the upper reaches of the 1920s to choose Elam or Gordon. The second piece would be to take a receiver at 30. To that end, watch Georgia Pickens as a potential wild card. Pickens is off the boards of some teams entirely, I was told, due to maturity and reliability concerns. However, he is very talented, and the kind of danger that Andy Reed and Brett Fitch have constantly faced.
In fact, if Pickens’ character is clean, and he didn’t tore apart the AFC Champions League last spring (which cost him most of his final season), there’s a good chance he’d be in the top 10. So while the 30th pick might be a bit rich, I can see the logic in doing it – and other teams can do it too.
“It’s early for a child,” said one of the executives. “But it’s not too early for a player.”
• Pickens’ biggest teammate in Georgia, defensive giant Jordan Davis, has featured a lot in my conversations over the past few days. I could see him going to Philly or Baltimore or New Orleans, picking 14th, 15th and 16th in the middle of the first round.
To take Davis this far, you have to be comfortable that you get from him a more consistent effort than he showed on tape last year, even in heavy rotation with other liners, his effort might be choppy at times.
• I would like to take note of what Panthers General Manager Scott Fetterer said in his press conference that day about considering trading in adolescents. Going that far, rather than making a shorter move, would allow Carolina to reclaim the second-round pick she lost on the Sam Darnold trade.
If you think, perhaps, of trading with Houston, you can see how it will work. The Eagles picked 13th overall, and that selection is worth, according to a draft value chart, 1,150 points. Houston’s second-place finisher, 37th, is worth 530 points. This brings you to 1,680 points, which is exactly close to the value of the sixth choice (1,600 points).
We too, for what it’s worth, He made a fake trade in a rumor column on Tuesday It made all this clear, and it showed that to get Washington’s second driver in a dip from 11 to 6, they had to pack a fourth runner-up with their pick.
• I have a billing corner at 25, but their flexibility reflects the task they did in building the list. Someone mentioned to me on Wednesday how the bills are in place now that they have to take a more targeted approach just to make sure they’ll have the right job for the guy they’re going to take in the first round. Which is actually what they could end up thinking about running backwards, for example, if the right angle wasn’t there.
• I still wouldn’t rule out a lineman going to Jacksonville in general.
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