NFL Hot Press



Teams Grading Xavien Howard in the Early Rounds

Updated Feb. 23, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Every year, there are some early-entry players in the NFL Draft who go under the radar with the media despite teams being impressed with them. In speaking with sources at five different teams, Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard would fit that description this year. All five teams had Howard graded in the first three rounds, with some being very bullish about his NFL prospects. No team had Howard lower than an early third-round pick.

One team picking in the top 10 said they have a first-round grade on Howard and project him going late in the first. Another playoff team said they had Howard graded as a high second-round pick. Two other teams said they had Howard on the bubble of the second and third round. Those were the lowest grades on Howard among the five teams. The fifth team saw him as a mid second-round pick.

Sources say they wouldn't be surprised if Howard becomes a hot name at or after the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has great size, and teams are impressed with his 2015 tape. As a junior, Howard totaled 42 tackles with 10 breakups and five interceptions for the Bears. He isn't a one-year wonder either. In 2014, he had 51 stops with 13 breakups and four interceptions.

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Broncos Plan Significant Changes at Quarterback

Updated Feb. 15, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Bill Parcells used to say that winning is a great deodorant, and that certainly has been proven true time and again in the NFL. While the Denver Broncos won the ultimate prize of Super Bowl 50, that sweet smell won't mask some of the disgust in Denver. In fact, multiple relationships at the most important position on the team are tenuous entering this offseason. In speaking with sources, they say the Broncos are going to have real changes at the quarterback position in the weeks to come.

Sources say that Broncos general manager John Elway is done with Peyton Manning, and he won't be back with the team next year. The relationship between Manning and Elway has deteriorated over the past season, and Elway is ready to move on. Manning is faced with a decision on retiring, but sources say he won't be returning to Denver if he decides he wants to play next year.

Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler is also entering free agency. Osweiler played in eight games in 2015, completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,967 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. The fifth-year pro was unhappy about his benching, but Osweiler and the team could agree on a new contract. Sources say that Osweiler wants $12 million per season, while the Broncos want to sign him to a 3-year contract averaging about $10 million per year. While Denver would like him back, sources say that it has to be at a price they are comfortable paying.

Even if Osweiler is re-signed, drafting a quarterback early in the 2016 NFL draft is definitely in play for Denver. The Broncos loved North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, but know that he won't be getting anywhere near Denver's pick. However, the team also is enamored with Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. He is a good fit in Gary Kubiak's offense and sources say that Prescott is in play for the Broncos on the second-day of the draft.

At the Senior Bowl, Prescott really helped himself by impressing teams with intelligence, leadership and overall football character. Sources from multiple teams raved about Prescott's performance in the team interviews. They say he is a fast-rising prospect in the quarterback-needy NFL.

Denver's plan is to address the defensive line in the first round. They love Alabama's Jarran Reed, but he also is very unlikely to make it to pick 31. Still, the 2016 draft is loaded at the defensive line, so there should be some good options available to the Broncos. Even though Denver's first-round pick could go to fortifying its tremendous defense, the changes at quarterback will get all the attention this offseason.

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Jerald Hawkins Getting Day-Three Grades

Updated Feb. 11, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



In recent years, there have been a lot of early-entry players going to the NFL when they should have returned to school. One player who fits that criteria this year is LSU offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins, who was the Tigers' left tackle after playing right tackle in the previous seasons. In speaking with multiple evaluators, they are down on Hawkins and have not given him good draft grades.

Sources from multiple teams have said that they graded Hawkins on day three. They say he lacks strength and doesn't have power in his base. He plays with poor leverage, gets fooled and is bulled around, and they think he's a backup-quality player in the NFL. They his best attribute is he has pretty good feet. He also has length, so teams feel there are some tools to work with, which gives him a draftable grade.

A few teams said they had a fourth-round grade on Hawkins. Another said they had him as a fifth- or sixth-rounder who is a developmental backup. Perhaps another year at LSU would have given Hawkins time to get stronger for the NFL. It looks like Hawkins will be in for a long wait come draft weekend.

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Teams Don't View Laquon Treadwell as a Top-10 Talent

Updated Feb. 5, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Over the past two seasons, the NFL Draft has produced some strong classes of wide receivers. This year, the draft isn't as strong at wideout, but that hasn't stopped the media from hyping up Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. It isn't surprising, as Treadwell was a star recruit coming out of high school, and he was a 3-year producer at Ole Miss. There have been lofty comparisons with Treadwell to other elite receiver prospects, but NFL teams aren't grading Treadwell that high. In fact, most of the teams we've spoken to have Treadwell as a late first-rounder, with only one saying they have him as mid first-round pick.

The teams that are grading Treadwell as a late first-rounder say whoever likes him enough to draft him might do so in the middle of the first round. A general manger of a playoff team believes that Treadwell is a little overrated, and he views him as a big, strong, possession receiver in the NFL. Two other teams said they had Treadwell as a late first-rounder. One college scouting director said Treadwell could go in the mid first because this a weak year for receivers and teams will draft out of need at the position.

The reason that teams aren't as high on Treadwell as the hype machine is a lack of speed to separate. They view Treadwell as a big, strong, long, possession receiver with good hands. He routinely uses his size and strength beat defensive backs for 50-50 passes. However, he isn't fast or explosive. He isn't a vertical threat to stretch a defense over the top. If Treadwell had speed, he'd be similar to Julio Jones or A.J. Green and a top 10-pick. Teams say they aren't expecting Treadwell to run fast at the Combine.

The team that has Treadwell graded as a mid first-round pick, and liked him more than others, believes he has some characteristics similar to the Texans' DeAndre Hopkins in the ability to win 50-50 passes. Hopkins was a late first-rounder in the 2013 NFL Draft, but Houston clearly out-scouted the rest of the league, as Hopkins is one of the best players to come out of that draft class.

If the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Treadwell runs well at the Combine, it could help to change some minds and push his draft grade higher. Right now, teams see him in the middle to back half of the picks on Thursday night with a grade of a late first-rounder being held by many teams.

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