NFL Draft Rumor Mill

Steelers Gauging Interest in DeShone Kizer

Updated April 25, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

For weeks now, Walter and I have had the Steelers taking Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer in the first round of our 2017 NFL Mock Drafts. Weeks ago, sources told us that the Steelers were high on Kizer.

In the final days before the draft, has learned from team sources that Steelers have been asking around to other teams, trying to gauge where Kizer could be drafted and who could be interested in taking him. Pittsburgh has to start planning for the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and it sounds as though Kizer is viewed as their developmental starter in waiting while Roethlisberger finishes out his career.

There are scouts around the league who feel that Kizer has the best skill set and most athletic upside of any quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft. He had an inconsistent junior season, as he completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,925 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for seven touchdowns. His completion percentage was thrown off by playing a game in the midst of Hurricane Matthew and his receivers consistently dropping well-thrown passes. Kizer played better as a sophomore when he had more talent around him like a top-25 wide receiver in Will Fuller), a top-10 pick at left tackle in Ronnie Stanley, a second-round center in Nick Martin, and a third-round running back in C.J. Prosise. In 2015, Kizer completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,884 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He picked up 520 yards with 10 scores on the ground.

The Steelers have tried to be discrete with their vetting of Kizer with offensive coordinator Todd Haley at the Notre Dame pro day rather than a big contingent of general manager, head coach, and other top executives. However, teams have told that Pittsburgh has revealed some nerves about Kizer not getting to their pick as they've asked around the league where he might go and what teams are interested in taking him. 

Kizer (6-4, 233) is almost identical in size to Roethlisberger (6-4, 240) with both possessing a strong arm to go with mobility and athleticism in a big body. The Steelers could develop Kizer behind Roethlisberger for a year or two before turning the reigns over. Roethlisberger started talking about retirement at the end of the 2016 season, so Pittsburgh wants to be proactive about securing the future of the most important position on the team. They want to hit the ground running with their new quarterback and not miss out on prime years of great offensive weapons like Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, who could lead Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl. After falling short in the AFC Championship Game last year, the Steelers have a talented roster without a lot of starting positions open for competition. Thus, they can afford to use a first-round pick on a quarterback of the future similar to how Green Bay selected Aaron Rodgers during the final years of Brett Favre's Packer career. In speaking to league sources, it sounds like Kizer is the player that Steelers are targeting in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. 

One Team Hears 49ers Will Select Patrick Mahomes at No. 2

Updated April 24, 2017
By Walter Cherepinsky. Follow Walter on Twitter @walterfootball.

The 49ers are a complete mystery right now. No one seems to know what they'll do, as there is no consensus selection among NFL Draft analysts and speculators. With a new front office, there's not even a baseline of what the team could be looking for.

Charlie Campbell and I put out feelers to our various team sources. Charlie reported a few days ago that a team believed the 49ers to be "desperate" to trade down. The consensus otherwise was the 49ers selecting Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 overall.

A high-ranking NFC personnel man responded to my query Monday morning, and the name he gave me for San Francisco's pick was a surprising one: 

Patrick Mahomes.

This team source said that he heard over the weekend that the 49ers would take Mahomes at No. 2 overall. Some believe Mahomes to be the best quarterback prospect in this class, so if San Francisco shares that opinion, Mahomes would be just as logical of a selection as Trubisky.

Quarterbacks - mainly Trubisky, but also Deshaun Watson and now Mahomes - have been rumored to San Francisco, and understandably so, given the team's dire need for a quarterback. Taking a signal-caller would block the potential of signing Kirk Cousins, but the 49ers would have a concrete quarterback to build around for certain.

Quarterback in Play for Saints in First Round

Updated April 23, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Over the past few seasons, the New Orleans Saints have put in a lot of work on scouting the quarterbacks in each draft class. Head coach Sean Payton has always been focused on evaluating the quarterback talent and keeping on the lookout for the eventual replacement for Drew Brees. Thus, it isn't surprising that New Orleans put a lot of time into working out the top quarterback prospects in this draft class. Brees is 38 years old and will be a free agent after the 2018 season, so perhaps this is the year that New Orleans drafts his replacement.

Sources with the Saints tell that taking a quarterback with one of New Orleans first-round picks is possible.

The Saints have two first-round selections at picks 11 and 32 after trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots. Sources say that Payton likes all four of the top quarterback prospects (check out our 2017 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings.) While taking a quarterback is possible, it sounded as if it was more unlikely than likely. Many don't feel these quarterback prospects are worthy of being high first-rounders, and the Saints feel they are not far from being a playoff contender if the defense can quickly catch up to the offense. 

The Saints could take another stab at making a run to the playoffs with Brees still playing at a high level. Using their early selections on defensive talent would certainly help Brees' chances of doing that. However, if the right quarterback is there, the Saints believe the importance of the quarterback position outweighs everything else and securing their long-term future at the most critical position could cause them to take a signal-caller in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Going into the draft, it sounds unlikely, but possible. 

49ers Desperate to Trade Down; League Believes Trubisky is the Pick

Updated April 20, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Yesterday, reported that the New York Jets were in discussions to trade down in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Another team that wants to move down is the San Francisco 49ers.

With Cleveland appearing to be settled on Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall-pick, the 49ers' selection at No. 2 is the first mystery pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. reached out to sources from teams across the league to gauge what they are hearing about the 49ers. One general manager of a NFC team said the 49ers are "desperate to trade down." 

New San Francisco general manager John Lynch has been clear that they are open to trading as he proclaimed the pick was "open for business." The NFC general manager implied that there is some indecision within the 49ers on whom they would take if they are unable to move down. 

In surveying other teams, four different teams think San Francisco will take a quarterback at No. 2 if they are unable to move down. The quarterback they think the 49ers would take there is North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky. Some team sources say that Trubisky is a good fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense. The 49ers have done extensive work into all of the quarterback prospects. With Cleveland taking Garrett, that gives the 49ers the chance to select the top quarterback prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft.

However, there are persistent media rumors that the 49ers will wait a year to make a run at Kirk Cousins. Thus, across the league, teams really don't know what San Francisco intends to do with the second-overall pick. They are desperate to trade down, while others think they will take Trubisky if they are stuck at No. 2.

Browns, Jets Talking NFL Draft Trade

Updated April 19, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

There have been plenty of rumors about the Browns are targeting a quarterback with one of their early selections in the 2017 NFL Draft. There also has been a lot of talk that the New York Jets would like to trade down from the sixth-overall pick in the draft. has learned from sources that the Browns and Jets are talking about a trade that would have the Browns moving up from the 12th pick to the Jets' selection at No. 6 in order to take a quarterback. Cleveland is said to want North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. 

In order to move down, the Jets want the 33rd-overall pick (second round) and the selection at No. 108 (fourth round). Those are the first choices on the second and third days of the draft. Leading off those days of the draft, New York would have some highly coveted picks that could allow them to trade down again with a team that is desperate to land a playerthey didn't think would make it to that spot.

Cleveland is trying to trade its second-round pick, No. 52 overall, and the first selection in the fifth round, No. 145. With the sixth pick, the Browns are believed to want Trubisky. Cleveland is concerned that the Jets or the Bills (at pick 10) would take Trubisky before Cleveland is on the clock at 12. Even if Trubisky goes off the board earlier to the 49ers (2) or the Bears (3), the Browns may want to do the trade in order to land Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson before Buffalo is on the clock. 

The Browns likely would want to know their targets are available before doing the trade. Thus, this deal probably won't happen until the draft has already started and the Jets are on the clock with the players available. It also could easily fall apart if New York doesn't feel like it is getting good value, or the Browns not being willing to meet the Jets' price. Many trades like this never come to fruition because teams can't agree on the pick package or the desired player isn't available, but these two are in discussions right now about swapping picks. 

Teams See Bowser in the Early Rounds

Updated April 15, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the highest-rising prospects during the lead up to the 2017 NFL Draft has been Temple defensive end turned linebacker Haason Reddick. Some NFL teams have mid-round grades on Reddick, yet sources from some teams picking in the middle of the opening round love him and have him in the mix for their first-round pick. Another similar prospect who has enjoyed a rise is Houston linebacker Tyus Bowser. Sources say they think that Bowser also will be an early-round pick, and some teams believe he won't get out of the second round. 

Bowser had 47 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted in 2016. He was a tough edge rusher for Houston who could fit nicely as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. The 6-foot-2, 244-pounder is a physical specimen, and sources say that Bowser has been very impressive in the pre-draft workouts. 

One AFC playoff team thought he had an outside shot of going in round one, so there is a definite buzz about Bowser in the final weeks before the draft. Some teams are still skeptical of Bowser and say his tape didn't show early-round skill, but even those teams say they could see a team liking Bowser enough to take him in the second round. The 2017 NFL Draft isn't very deep at linebacker, so that helps Bowser, and teams are always looking for pass rushers. Bowser could end up going higher than many expect come draft day.

Teams Split on T.J. Watt in the First Round

Updated April 9, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the prospects on the bubble of the first day of the 2017 NFL Draft is Wisconsin edge rusher T.J. Watt. In speaking with teams across the league, they are divided on whether Watt will make it into the first round. There are a lot of edge rush-needy teams picking late in the first round, but there are some questions about Watt translating to certain systems. That could lead to him slipping to the second day of the draft. 

The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder had a breakout 2016 season with 63 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, four passes batted, and two forced fumbles before deciding to skip his senior year. Here are some of the comments on Watt from around the NFL:

One NFC playoff general manager said, "He's a great kid, I hope he goes in the first round. He's on the edge." Another NFC national scout said he could go in the first and he was very close to being a first on their board. Conversely, one AFC director of college scouting said, "No, I think he slips to the second round." 

Watt is a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but his fit in a 4-3 defense isn't as clear. He could maybe add weight to play defensive end, or play Sam (strongside) linebacker. One general manager of a playoff team said this about Watt translating to a 4-3 defense, "It depends on what type of 4-3 defense you are talking about, but yes, might have a chance."

Here is how a national scout summarized Watt as a player and his first-round hopes, "It wouldn't shock me if he went in the first. He's more of a luxury in the first round. Teams like New England (if they had a first), Baltimore, or Pittsburgh would be great fits for him. They would be ideal if you were to place him." 

Thus, there is no consensus around the league on where Watt will go in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watt could be selected on Thursday night, but could just as easily fall into Day 2.

Teams Think David Sharpe Has Round 2 Potential

Updated April 3, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Every year in the NFL Draft, there are positions of strength with a lot of good talent for the NFL, but there are also positions of weakness. The offensive tackle position is perhaps the weakest position group in the 2017 NFL Draft class. This year, three tackles are expected to go in the top 25 in part because teams know that after those three, there aren't many attractive prospects in the class. That will cause some prospects to rise out of demand for edge protection, and one of those players who is benefiting from that rise is Florida offensive tackle David Sharpe. Sources from multiple teams believe that Sharpe is likely to be selected as high as the second round. 

Even though Sharpe needed improvement as a football player, he picked a good time to skip his senior year and enter the draft, considering the weakness at his position. The 6-foot-6, 343-pounder was a left tackle in college, but teams feel that he would be a better fit at right tackle. Sharpe had a number of good games as a junior, but teams have concerns about his work ethic relating to him controlling his weight. Sharpe is blind in one eye, but scouts believe that moving to right tackle will help his vision. For the Gators, Sharpe was their best offensive lineman, so they had to play him at left tackle. 

After Sharpe, Troy's Antonio Garcia and Western Michigan's Taylor Moton could have second day potential. Sources have said that Garcia has a good skill set, but they have some developmental concerns that they were deliberately vague about. 

Thus, Sharpe could be the only tackle that is selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Even if he doesn't go in Round 2, it looks very likely that he will be selected on the second day. While scouts aren't in love with Sharpe, they do believe that he has a serious shot at being a second-round pick. Sharpe is eighth in our 2017 NFL Draft Offensive Tackle Prospect Rankings.

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