2020 NFL Draft News and Rumors: Tuesday, April 21
Barely 48 hours from the kickoff of the 2020 NFL Draft, here are the latest rumors and news swirling around the event.
Debunking the anonymous scout quote about RB Anthony McFarland
A quote recently attributed to an anonymous scout alleged that running back Anthony McFarland of Maryland had “horrible football character.” That’s news to the people at Maryland. I spoke at length with Terrapins running backs coach Elijah Brooks yesterday, and he described McFarland in glowing terms.
“Anthony always showed up at practice. He loved competing, and we never had issues getting him going during the week,” Brooks told me. He described his time with McFarland as “fantastic” and said the running back was “a fierce competitor and also respectful … he was a great teammate, and other players gravitated to Anthony.”
More importantly for McFarland, coach Brooks told me that he’s spoken with almost two dozen NFL teams and passed on these same sentiments about his star running back.
Utah CB Jaylon Johnson a possible first-round selection?
Jaylon Johnson of Utah is one of the hotter names at the cornerback position and is getting first-round mention. I presently grade Johnson as an early second-round prospect, as do most teams, but round 1 is not out of the question with a cornerback of his size. So, where could Johnson end up?
I’m hearing that four teams, all of whom have multiple first-round selections, are very high on Johnson. They include the Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks (if they can’t trade down) and Minnesota Vikings. The San Francisco 49ers also like Johnson, but of the teams mentioned, it’s their former Bay area-rival Raiders who seem to be hottest for Johnson.
How does Florida’s Jabari Zuniga fit in at the next level?
Florida’s Jabari Zuniga will be a second-day selection Friday, but where does he fall on the second day and what position does he play in the NFL? Most teams grade Zuniga as a third-round edge rusher, while I presently have him listed as a second-round defensive end.
While most feel Zuniga will ultimately end up as a 4-3 defensive end, there are several 3-4 defensive teams who like his ability to rush the edge. Teams most interested in Zuniga include the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets, who own two selections at the top of Round 3.
Keep an eye out for Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith
Alex Highsmith of Charlotte is another edge rusher getting looks from a variety of 3-4 and 4-3 defenses. Most teams grade Highsmith as an early fourth-round prospect, although there is talk he could slide into the late part of Day 2. The senior turned in a solid Combine workout, but he did not take part in the bench press due to a strained pectoral muscle.
He was recently filmed completing 24 reps on the bench, a tape that was sent to teams around the league. Highsmith is drawing a lot of interest from the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
New York Jets set to move on from punter Lachlan Edwards?
Staying on the Jets, it seems as though the franchise is ready to move on from punter Lachlan Edwards, who remains a free agent. The Jets signed Ian Berryman to a futures contract to replace Edwards, but he’s never punted the ball during the regular season.
As a result, it looks like selecting a punter in the draft is a real possibility for the Jets. I’m told the team is enamored with Braden Mann of Texas A&M, the top-rated specialist on my board, and could look in his direction at the start of the draft’s third day.
Previous updates from Tony Pauline
April 20 (Page 3)
Terrell Lewis, Dolphins QB plans, Saints WR targets, Giants/Herbert
April 17 (Page 4)
Zack Baun’s failed test, Jordan Love and the Dolphins, and more
April 13 (Page 7)
Giants draft plans, James Morgan, and other quarterback news