I'm told immediately after the Miami Dolphins selected Laremy Tunsil with the 13th pick of the draft last night, they immediately called starter Branden Albert to inform and assure him Tunsil will play left guard and Albert's spot at left tackle was safe.
There is speculation the Dallas Cowboys are trying to trade up to the top of Round 2 for the ability to select either Noah Spence or Kamalei Correa. I've been informed the player they covet is Emmanuel Ogbah of Oklahoma State.
Kansas City Chiefs
Don't expect Mackensie Alexander to be on the board too long, as the Kansas City Chiefs are the odds on favor to scoop him up with the 37th pick.
New York Giants
The Giants are looking for a free safety, which leads many to believe they will target T.J. Green. I'm told the team also hopes to draft an offensive lineman on Day 2.
Several safeties are expected to come off the board in the next two rounds, and I'm told that besides the Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will target the position this evening.
I'm told there will be an early run on the defensive tackles that could last through the 12 pick of Round 2. Many of remaining on the board are just great value at this point.
James Bradberry, CB, Samford
The surprise pick in Day 2 could be Samford cornerback James Bradberry. Rated by most (including yours truly) as a middle-round selection, I'm told several teams are considering Bradberry in the second round.
Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn
Its quite possible offensive tackle Shon Coleman could take a big fall through the second day of the draft. While he has first-round skills, I'm told the knee injury, which slowed him during the run-up to the draft, has been red-flagged by a number of teams.
Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska
One tackle I'm told that will come off the board during the second day of the draft is Alex Lewis of Nebraska, and that will surprise many. I reported from the Shrine Game there was talk of Lewis landing in the second day, as teams love his upside. I'm told it's a situation where Lewis may end up playing guard as a rookie as he develops his game and physically matures before being kicked out to tackle.
Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina
South Carolina State defensive tackle Javon Hargrave should be off the board before Day 2 is complete. People I've spoken with say Hargrave has been one of the best interviews this year during the pre-draft process, as he's come across as an honest individual who loves football.
Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina
Another player from the state of South Carolina, Jerell Adams, should hear his name called tonight. The Gamecock tight end has been swiftly moving up draft boards since last September, and I'm told the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers will consider him as Round 3 closes out.
Joel Stave, QB, Wisconsin
Don't be surprised if quarterback Joel Stave sneaks into the third round tonight. I've heard rumblings about Stave being a third-round pick since the Shrine Game and have reported as much. These opinions came back to me again this week, and there are teams out there who have a late third-round grade on Stave.
Word around the league is six offensive tackles could be selected in tonight's first round. Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley, Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker round out the top four and will be off the board by the middle of round one.
The next group of tackles includes Jason Spriggs, Germain Ifedi and Le'Raven Clark, and insiders feel two will end up hearing their names called before the night is over.
The belief is there are seven teams in the market for an offensive tackle starting at pick 18 through the completion of the first round. The Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers have done the most work on the top tackles (visits, combine interviews, Senior Bowl interviews, private workouts) and will consider the position this evening.
I'm told while the consensus has the Pittsburgh Steelers leaning towards cornerback, they will consider an offensive tackle if they are staring at a player they like.
Word circulating right now has the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets as teams most likely considering a trade down while the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos the teams who may inquire on moving up.
Green Bay Packers
Likewise, Packers starting left tackle David Bakhtiari is in the final year of his contract, and the belief is the team would like to move him inside to guard and upgrade the left tackle spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There's a chance a team trades back into the first round to grab Noah Spence tonight if he's still available as the first round closes out. I'm told the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank the pass rusher highly and would covet him if he falls into the second round.
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
It seems the news on Myles Jack's injured knee continues to get worse. Within the last few minutes, I'm told there are a few teams who are considering requiring Jack to agree to an injury waiver before they draft him.
Teams can start their due diligence now and see if Jack would accept such a request before deciding on whether or not they would draft him. The injury waiver would be a clause that waives any compensation for Jack if he injures or reinjures the knee in question. The teams in question would require this for their short or long term protection, but it should be noted that verbal agreements of this sort are non-binding.
It's been reported the Philadelphia Eagles have not yet contacted Carson Wentz, presumably the player they will select with the second pick of the draft. I'm told there's no cause for concern from the Wentz camp. Wentz and Jared Goff are represented by the same agency, Rep1, the team that represented Marcus Mariota last year as well as Blake Bortles in 2014 - an organization quickly developing into one of the premier quarterback agencies in the NFLPA. I've been told the Los Angeles Rams have yet to contact anyone from the Goff camp, but there's no cause for concern there either.
To reiterate something I posted on Sunday; the belief is the league is pressuring the Rams to keep their decision from the public until tomorrow in an attempt to develop suspense over that first pick.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Staying on the quarterback position, I'm told during interviews on official visits with teams, Paxton Lynch seemed to deflect blame to many of the critical questions thrown his way. While I'm told he did not throw anyone under the bus, it seemed he made a number of excuses, and those on hand during the interviews came a way believing Lynch is not yet ready to be the guy to lead a franchise. That may come in time, but the overwhelming sense I'm getting is Lynch would be better off in a situation where he won't be force-fed into the starting lineup then have to face the media after game day.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Conversely, I am hearing good things on the interviews from Christian Hackenberg. More to the point, I'm told Hackenberg took responsibility when asked uncomfortable questions admitting certain things were his fault. These same folks told me reports of Hackenberg throwing Penn State coach James Franklin under the bus are tenuous at best.
Finally, I'm told if Laremy Tunsil does not fall into their laps, the Baltimore Ravens will consider Ezekiel Elliott with their choice unless they are able to trade down.
While everyone has seemingly mocked a wide receiver to the Minnesota Vikings in Round 1, recent reports by the team say they are not locked on to a receiver at that spot. Yesterday, sources told me the Vikings will consider Robert Nkemdiche in Round 1 if he's still available when they are called to the clock.
Sheldon Rankins and Chris Jones
The draft stock of Sheldon Rankins and Chris Jones continues to rise. Why? I was told a week ago teams believe Rankins and Jones are the best interior pass rushers in this year's defensive tackle class. A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and Vernon Butler are good players, but not nearly the pass rushers of Rankins or Jones. From a personal point of view, Jonathan Bullard and Kenny Clark have mistakenly been dismissed from the conversation of top pass-rushing defensive tackles.
Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Several teams believe Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas is being undervalued and will be a much better NFL receiver than college wideout. They point to the fact he was the third and sometimes fourth option on the Buckeyes offense and also look at the advanced statistics (number of times targeted versus number of passes caught). I'm told the San Diego Chargers have been in contact with Thomas recently. The Cincinnati Bengals also give high grades to the wideout.
Teams around the league are engaged in the annual ritual of sending letters or emails and even calling prospects they would like the opportunity to sign as undrafted free agents. This of course assumes the players are not chosen during the seven rounds. The way some teams are going about this venture is creating bad blood.
I know of three instances where a pair of teams (who will remain nameless for the time being) called players and informed them that they were unlikely to be drafted, and the teams wanted the chance to sign them as free agents afterwards. In some instances the player's agent was called and given the same line. The problem arose as all the players contacted are expected to be middle-round choices and are very likely to be unavailable once the draft is complete. Hearing from teams they were "likely to go undrafted" has soured both players and agents on these teams and left a trail of angry people.
At any rate, how do teams around the league expect the first eight selections to pan out? After several conversations this afternoon this is the consensus:
Los Angeles Rams- Jared Goff
Philadelphia Eagles- Carson Wentz
San Diego Chargers- DeForest Buckner
Dallas Cowboys- Jalen Ramsey
Jacksonville Jaguars- Myles Jack
Baltimore Ravens- Laremy Tunsil
San Francisco 49ers- Ronnie Stanley
Cleveland Browns- Joey Bosa
I'm told the Chargers feel they desperately need a defensive lineman, while the 49ers desperately covet DeForest Buckner. There's a chance the Browns could trade down again, this time to the Miami Dolphins who would move up for Ezekiel Elliott.
The consensus has the Atlanta Falcons selecting linebacker Darron Lee with the 17th pick of Round 1, but I'm hearing both Clemson linemen, Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson, are in play for the team. I'm also told that head coach Dan Quinn has been pushing hard for safety Keanu Neal for a number of weeks, but the feeling is the only way the team selects Neal is in a scenario where they are able to trade down.
Staying with the safety position, I'm told the Washington Redskins would like to trade down then select Karl Joseph of West Virginia.
If they don't trade any of their second-round picks, there's a very good chance the Tennessee Titans will use one to select Braxton Miller. Most people I've spoken with don't believe Miller gets past the Houston Texans in Round 2.
Another player the Titans will consider on the second day of the draft is linebacker Joshua Perry of Ohio State. While the feeling from most teams is Perry is best on the inside of a 3-4, there is some belief he could play on the outside in that system.
The Denver Broncos will look to add a running back sometime during the last day of the draft, and I'm told they like Peyton Barber of Auburn in the sixth-round area.
I'm told part of the reason the Carolina Panthers removed the franchise tag from Josh Norman, which allowed him to enter the free agent market, is due to the fact the team did not want to sign a 28-year-old cornerback to a big-money long-term contract, which included guarantees into his 30s. Norman will turn 29 years old this coming December.
I have been informed the Panthers like Southeastern Louisiana cornerback Harlan Miller and will consider him as the third round closes out. The team had two defensive back coaches working out Miller.
Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State
The uncertainty at the tight end position could benefit Nick Vannett of Ohio State. Though Vannett is not as athletic or as fast as the top-rated prospects at the position, several general managers feel he's the most NFL ready and the only true three-down player at the position. I'm told the San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons are considering Vannett during the second day of the draft.
New York Giants
I continue to hear Laquon Treadwell is in the mix for the New York Giants at the 10th pick. Though just speculation, I could see the Giants trading down, collecting extra picks then getting Treadwell in the middle of Round 1. The Tennessee Titans could be the perfect trading partner, as the team has a host of extra selections, thanks to the trade with the Los Angeles Rams, and have stated their desire to move back into the draft's top 10 selections. As I've previously stated, offensive tackle Jack Conklin is the name I hear most associated with the Titans.
Running back Brandon Wilds from South Carolina is a ball carrier the Giants have an interest in. Giant fans should keep his name in mind once the sixth round opens up.
Back to Jack Conklin, I'm told he's being considered as an option for the Browns with the eighth pick. The team desperately needs a right tackle, and they met with Conklin extensively during Michigan State's pro day.
Reggie Ragland and Kamalei Correa, LBs
The New York Jets have been poking around on two linebackers in recent days: Reggie Ragland of Alabama and Kamalei Correa from Boise State.
Correa perfectly fits the Jets need for a pass-rushing linebacker and comes with the athleticism and skill to drop off the line then play in space. The 20th pick of Round 1, which the Jets presently own, is about the starting point for consideration of Correa.
Ragland is more of a luxury pick and future replacement for David Harris, rather than a prospect who fits a need.
There are some who believe Ragland could be drafted by the Miami Dolphins at the 13th pick, but more realistically the two teams I hear him associated with are the Washington Redskins (21st pick of round one) and the Green Bay Packers (27th selection).
What happens if the Cleveland Browns can't or don't trade the second pick of the draft? Several general managers around the league see this scenario as possibly playing out:
2) Cleveland Browns: Laremy Tunsil/T/Mississippi. The Browns would then trade Joe Thomas, known as the "locker room lawyer."
3) San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey/DB/Florida State
4) Dallas Cowboys: Carson Wentz/QB/North Dakota State
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack/LB/UCLA
I'm told the Chicago Bears are seriously considering selecting Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed with their first round pick, the 11th-overall selection.
New York Jets
During Utah State pro day, I reported the New York Jets had a contingent of personnel on hand to workout Kyler Fackrell. Separate sources tell me if the Jets don't take and outside linebacker in round one, then Fackrell will be in the conversation during the second round (assuming they don't trade away the pick). Besides filling a need Fackrell, has the length the team desires at outside linebacker. I'm told teams would prefer if the senior gets his weight up to the 255-pound range.
If Leonard Floyd is unavailable, and they feel Noah Spence is to much of a risk, I'm hearing the Indianapolis Colts are considering Kamalei Correa in Round 1. Another scenario for Correa has the New Orleans Saints trading down in the first round then selecting the Boise State junior. Last year, there was speculation the Saints were trying to trade up for Vic Beasley, a similar type of player.
Mackensie Alexander and Shaq Lawson, Clemson
I'm not hearing good things about Mackensie Alexander outside the lines.
Despite his on-the-field talent, numerous sources have told me the junior cornerback is a very difficult person to deal with off the field. He was difficult at Clemson, and some of his coaches are giving Alexander less than rave reviews to NFL teams - and I'm being kind. This is something originally brought to my attention during Clemson's pro day on March 10, and something I took with a grain of salt. But since last Friday, I've spoken with multiple sources, and it seems Alexander's off-the-field personality has been spoken about at length in war rooms around the league. In my opinion, the junior cornerback has the best ball skills of any defensive back in the draft, but if he starts to drop deep into Round 1, or even out of the first frame altogether, it'll be due to his off-the-field persona.
The situation could not be any different for Shaq Lawson. I'm told the guy is a warrior; not only on game day, but on the practice field, and his motor is always on. He's someone teammates are drawn to, and the feeling is Lawson will be a major asset on game day, on the practice field and in the locker room.
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Leadership questions continue to plague quarterback Connor Cook. I was told during interviews he's come across as flippant and cavalier, and many question whether Cook is a team leader at the quarterback position.
I'm told if the Philadelphia Eagles select running back Ezekiel Elliott with the draft's eighth pick, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers are two teams interested in Ryan Mathews, the Eagles' present starter. Insiders I spoke with think its unlikely Mathews is dealt to a divisional rival such as Dallas and question if they would trade him to a team now led by their former head coach.
Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State
Keep a close eye on San Jose State skill player Tyler Ervin, someone I presently grade as a fourth-rounder. From what I'm being told Ervin could end up in the draft's second day. Teams love the versatility, toughness and play-making skill Ervin brings as a ball carrier, pass catcher and return specialist, all attributes he showcased during Senior Bowl week. Ervin has made visits to see the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texas, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.
I'm told the Patriots like Ervin, as he's the type of player the team finds ways to have success with. Then again, they already have that type of player on their roster in Dion Lewis.
Yannick Ngakoue and Stephen Weatherly, LBs
Two linebackers who could be selected much earlier than most anticipate are Yannick Ngakoue of Maryland and Vanderbilt's Stephen Weatherly.
Teams love Ngakoue's ability to rush the passer, and he performed much better than anticipated during combine workouts. Top 100 is a possibility for Ngakoue, whose workout list includes the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. The Titans also brought him in for an official "30" visit, as did the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. What's interesting here are the mix of 3-4 and 4-3 teams who have taken a liking to Ngakoue.
Meanwhile, scouts feel Weatherly could develop into a legitimate starting three-down linebacker. Thus far, he's worked out for the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.
Weatherly is in Carolina today for an official "30" visit, and his list of trips has included the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings.
A little more than two weeks left before Roger Goodell steps to the podium and announces the Tennessee Titans are on the clock to start off the 2016 NFL Draft. Assuming Tennessee doesn't trade the selection. Here's the latest draft related buzz around the league:
New York Jets
Is an offensive tackle still in the cards for the New York Jets in Round 1 even after the team traded for Ryan Clady? Most people tell me yes, and the team is bringing Jason Spriggs of Indiana to their Florham Park facility for an official "30" visit on Thursday. Spriggs is considered by many as the best pure left tackle in the draft after Laremy Tunsil. The Hoosier senior has already been on trips to visit the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions, besides working out for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.
Signing Ryan Clady to an agreeable contract was the perfect move for the Jets.
Months ago, I posted the Jets are very high on tackle Brent Qvale, an undrafted free agent they signed in 2014. And to reiterate what I said at the time, this information comes from a variety of sources including teammates who practiced against him during the week. The signing of Clady tells me while the Jets like Qvale, they may not trust him enough to stick him into the starting lineup just yet. I'm told Qvale lined up at both left and right tackle during weekly practice in 2015.
Sources tell me the likely scenario has Qvale eventually replacing right tackle Breno Giacomini in 2017 if he continues to develop and show progress during the year.
Staying on the tackle position, it's been reported the Tennessee Titans would consider trading down from the top spot in the draft then selecting Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame. I'm told Michigan State's Jack Conklin is also in the conversation if the Titans trade down.
George Fant, TE/OT, Western Kentucky
With all the bad news surrounding Tyler Higbee at Western Kentucky, scouts have become enamored with another tight end prospect from the program, George Fant.
Fant was an all-conference basketball player at WKU through the 2015 season before he made the move to the gridiron last season, playing 12 games and catching one pass.
During his pro day last month, Fant measured 6050, 296 pounds, timed 4.8 in the 40, completed 22 reps on the bench, while posting a 37-inch vertical jump and 9-11 broad jump. His 3-cone timed in the 7.2 range. Fant has received consideration at offensive tackle, working out at the position for several teams, but scouts believe he's a good enough pass-catcher that he should drop weight and continue playing tight end.
Fant has workouts with a number of teams including the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Several teams are not buying into the "Laquon Treadwell is dropping down boards and now ranks as the No. 2 receiver in the draft" narrative that's been in the media recently. It's an opinion I agree with. They point to the fact no one ever believed Treadwell was a vertical receiver rather a game-controlling wideout, and he should be lethal on third down and in the red zone. It's another opinion I agree with. I've been told the New York Giants continue to show strong interest in Treadwell, and he is in the conversation for the 10th pick.