Draft day eve update

April 29, 2015

For those living in the Tampa area who thought they caught a glimpse of Florida State QB Jameis Winston in town on Monday, don’t get glasses adjusted. Winston was in fact there to play in a charity golf tournament hosted by former Bucs’ star LB Derrick Brooks. However, while Winston’s agent was also along for the golf, there was apparently no contact between the team and player despite the fact that he he is projected to be the first player selected by the Buccaneers on Thursday … #3 tries harder: Most of the pre-draft buzz this spring has focused on QBs Winston and Marcus Mariota of Oregon and the possibility of deals involving the first and second picks overall, but the third pick could ultimately be just as interesting. Most if the speculation on who Jacksonville will take at the third spot has focused on USC DE Leonard Williams and Florida OLB Dante Fowler. However, in recent days there has been a palpable buzz that Alabama WR  Amari Cooper could be a third option for the Jags; indeed, heading into the draft, the Jaguars primary goal appears to have been to find some weapons for 2nd year QB Blake Bortles. In that context, no one will be surprised if the Jaguars ultimately trade the pick. In fact, the ‘oddsmakers’ have the 3rd pick as the second most likely to be traded after the #2 selection currently held by Tennessee. Stay tuned … At the same time, there is a sense around the league that the two teams most likely to try and move up are Atlanta, New Orleans and Cleveland (even if they aren’t able to swing a deal to move up to get Mariota at the top of the board.) Atlanta, for example, would like to come out of the draft with one of the elite playmakers on defense, but sitting at #8 are the Falcons are likely to miss out on the likes of USC’s Williams and edge rushers Fowler and Vic Beasley of Clemson. And of course the Falcons have not been shy about moving up in the past to get an impact player, most notably in 2011 when they surrendered 5 picks, including a couple of first rounders to Cleveland to move up 21 spots in the draft to get WR Julio Jones. Needless to say they won’t have to go quite that far this year. And while there has been some speculation that Atlanta is targeting Jacksonville’s #3 pick, both Washington at #5 and the Jets at #6 have indicated a willingness to move down. Same story for New Orleans, which has two first round picks this year -#s 13 and 31 – and apparently would like to get one of those elite defenders, but won’t sitting in the middle of the opening round Meanwhile, there is some speculation that even if they were not able to acquire Mariota, Cleveland could still try and move up from the 12th pick to get either of WRs Cooper or Kevin White of West Virginia in the middle of the top 10. If nothing else, the Browns have reportedly talked possible trade parameters with just about every team picking ahead of them …  On the other hand, Minnesota  appears to be a team that would really like to try and trade down from the 11th pick overall. The Vikings also remain adamant that they will not trade veteran RB Adrian Peterson, although that may simply be playing hard ball to drive up the price for Peterson, who was re-instated to the league earlier this month after being serving a lengthy suspension for some over-the-top discipline of one of his children. Meanwhile, Dallas says they have no interest in acquiring Peterson, although the latter has expressed a desire to play for his hometown team. Again, though the Cowboys may not want to tip their hand. In fact, the fact the Cowboys are also saying they may not draft a RB all that earlier this week despite the fact that former star RB DeMarco Murray is now in Philadelphia … The fact that Miami OLB Dion Jordan, whom the Dolphins traded all the way up to the #3 pick overall to get just two years ago, has been suspended for the entire 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy provides a cautionary tale for teams thinking of drafting either of OLBs Randy Gregory of Nebraska or Missouri’s Shane Ray , both of whom have had pot issues this off-season. Gregory, of course, tested positive for grass at the combine after reportedly failing several drug tests in college, while Ray was charged with pot possession just this week after he too reportedly had at least one positive test in college. Both will fall in the ‘wild card’ category at this week’s draft with Ray, in particular, attracting some interesting comments. Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, whose Falcons were once thought to be looking at Ray as a possible candidate for the 8th pick, said unequivocally at his pre-draft presser that Ray was ‘still on their board’, although he didn’t say where on their board. Meanwhile, St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher, while apparently not referring to Ray, who played locally at Missouri, said that such off-field issues, especially in the days leading up to the NFL draft will be factored in evaluations. What Fisher indicated though was that the Rams would not be moving Ray around their board, but would attach a ‘cautionary sticker’ next to his name … One guy we hear as very likely making a late move up boards around the NFL is Missouri C/G Mitch Morse, who now looks like he could be a second day pick. Morse played OT in college, but figures to kick inside at the next level where he could be a tough, physical run blocker with some decent pass blocking skills.