Updated Jan. 21, 2020
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league from the second day of the 2020 Senior Bowl week.
The media has given a lot of hype to Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa after three strong seasons playing for the Hawkeyes. While some media pundits have projected him as a high first-rounder, multiple team sources say they have him lower. They project Epenesa to go in the back half of the first round during the 2020 NFL Draft, but some teams gave him a high second-round grade. They feel Epenesa has some stiffness as an edge defender and is not a great fit to be a pass-rusher in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. Each team evaluator thinks Epenesa's best fit would come as a 3-4 defensive end. Thus, don't be surprised if Epenesa ends up going a little lower than expected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is known to be a good kid, according to NFL scouts and to sources around the Sooners program. They all say he is a really nice person and a good teammate. With that being said, Lamb has developed the reputation for being a huge partier, and team sources feel that is going to be a challenge for him in maintaining focus depending on where he goes.
"[Lamb] definitely shouldn't go to a place like Miami, or Tampa Bay. That could be Michael Clayton all over again," said one scout. "I'll put it to you this way. He would be awesome in Green Bay."
Lamb is probably going to get get hit with a lot of questions about this during the combine and pre-draft interviews. Teams like him as a person, but depending on which team drafts him, it may want a plan in place to keep him focused on not partying too much in his down time.
In the realm of stating the obvious, the Panthers will pick up the fifth-year option on star running back Christian McCaffrey when that time comes, but this offseason, they could do a lot more than that to add to his tenure in Carolina. From speaking with some league people at the East-West Shrine practices last week, it sounds like McCaffrey could get signed to a lucrative long-term second contract this offseason. Most teams wait until a player is in the final year of his contract before doing that kind of extension, but McCaffrey has been so good, it makes more sense for Carolina to do it early.
Automatically, the Panthers are going to make McCaffrey the highest paid running back in the NFL and he is going to reset the running back market. McCaffrey has earned that after becoming only the third running back in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
Staff around the league say from the top down the Carolina organization loves McCaffrey and has "less than zero" concern about paying him a huge contract. The Panthers know the driven McCaffrey will continue to be the same player after getting a huge contract as he loves football and is ultra competitive to be the best he can be. McCaffrey is also a team leader and ideal player to be the face of the franchise in Carolina's rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule. Extending McCaffrey for many years to come sounds likely to happen in 2020.
According to some team sources, Broncos veteran offensive line coach Mike Munchak may want the team to go in a different direction at center. Connor McGovern is set to be a free agent. but sources tell me Munchak may not be crazy about the idea of keeping McGovern around. Instead, Pat Morris could get a longer look at center while the team looks to upgrade at the position. Munchak holds a lot of weight on Vic Fangio's staff, and Munchak's opinion could be the reason why McGovern wasn't extended last season after the team re-worked Joe Flacco's deal. The Broncos ended up signing Andy Janovich, but the money is there for them to get McGovern done and perhaps even Justin Simmons.
Munchak is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches around the league, and he had a challenging time in his first year with Denver. He was tasked with trying to get left tackle Garett Bolles to improve, develop rookie starter Dalton Risner at left guard, and deal with injuries to veteran right tackle Ja'Wuan James. Denver's offense provided some signs of optimism for 2020 with the way rookie quarterback Drew Lock played to close out the season.
Even though Munchak may not want McGovern to return, the Broncos could re-sign McGovern if he has a cheap price. It will be interesting to see how Munchak would respond to that, but the veteran coach is likely to remain with Denver regardless.