Tony Pauline Mailbag: Le’Veon Bell on his way out of NY, Panthers QB situation, and 2020 NFL Draft rumors

In this week's mailbag, Tony Pauline gives the latest scoop on Le'Veon Bell and the New York Jets, the Panthers QB situation, and 2020 NFL Draft rumors.

Every week, I open up the mailbag for anyone to send me their questions on college football, the NFL, or the 2020 NFL Draft. With the college football all-star games now taking place, there’s going to be plenty of buzz regarding the draft. But before the draft comes NFL free agency and there are plenty of storylines to monitor as we get closer to the new league year. This includes how the New York Jets will handle Le’Veon Bell, what the Carolina Panthers might do at the quarterback situation, and more. 

Do you have a question you want to send to me? Send it to or tweet us @PFN365 on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTonyPFN, and we’ll be sure to include it in an upcoming mailbag column.

The Tony Pauline Mailbag

While you were at the Shrine Game, did you hear anything new on the status of Le’Veon Bell and the NY Jets?

Actually, I did. From the conversations I had, the feeling is mutual from both sides. It’s best for everyone involved if the Jets and Bell part company – for Bell’s career and for the Jets offense as head coach Adam Gase can get the running back he wants.

I’m also told the sides are working to attain that goal. There seems to be some friction but the relationship is not poisonous.

The question is this. Can the Jets move Bell’s contract? As someone said to me at the Shrine Game practoces, the team that trades for Bell will be a franchise that’s not paying a quarterback or edge rusher a big contract.

Now that Joe Brady is the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator, does that give any indication or hints as to whom they will go after in the draft for QB assuming Cam Newton doesn’t return?

As to the type of quarterback or a specific quarterback, I can’t say that as of yet. I’m sure Brady will have input but it’s up to new head coach Matt Rhule. The belief at the Shrine Game, and there were a lot of Panther scouts on hand, is the team will draft a quarterback early and sign a veteran signal-caller.

Is there one thing you rely on more than others while attending off-season all-star game practices and the NFL Combine in determining if someone improved their draft stock or not?

Yes. You want to see if they are exceeding expectations. It sounds simple but are they faster than you thought? Run better routes? More intense? Play with proper fundamentals? Seem to get it between the ears? Think of the stock market – if the returns exceed expectations the stock rises.

Related: East-West Shrine Game Practice Report: West Team (Day 3)

Do you think the Detroit Lions will draft the best offensive player on the board with the third overall pick? 

The only offensive player I would consider at that point would be Georgia Bulldogs OT Andrew Thomas.

If the Jets get stuck at 11 and Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, and Andrew Thomas are off the board, what position do you think they will target and what draft prospect might be a good fit for them? 

We need to break this down first:

1) I was told at Shrine Game practices that the Jets are going to take a hard look at every offensive lineman that is available in free agency. If they sign a pricey offensive lineman in March, they may go in a different direction on draft day.

2) We’ll have to wait and see what happens with WR Robby Anderson. My personal preference is that they sign Anderson as he’s not only a good receiver with game breaking skills, but he also has a great rapport with quarterback Sam Darnold.

3) Trading down is optimal but I do believe Wirfs and Wills will be available at the 11th pick. In that case, I’m taking Wirfs.

What have all you heard on Chase Young to the Washington Redskins?

As I reported last week, new head coach Ron Rivera loves Chase Young.

Now that Iowa Hawkeyes DE AJ Epenesa has declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, what is his ceiling/floor from a draft projection?

I presently grade him somewhere between picks 18-35.

Are there teams that could see Epenesa only a DE rather than an EDGE out of Epenesa?

I absolutely believe the answer is yes. I don’t view Epenesa as a great edge rusher or a pure pass rusher; rather, a true defensive end who is solid rushing the passer and a very good run defender.

I read your recent praise about Illinois State’s James Robinson earlier this week. If he keeps showcasing his ability the way he has been, how high could we see him drafted?

I think it’s really going to be tough for James Robinson to slide into the second day of the draft. Right now, I believe round four is the earliest he’ll be selected. He did have a good showing on day two of Shrine Game practices, but most teams view him as a rotational back/situational runner.

Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365

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