NFL Draft News and Rumors: James Cook, Jermaine Johnson II, and other prospects visit NFL teams

In our latest NFL Draft News and Rumors, we take a look at some highly regarded running back prospects like James Cook.

With the 2022 NFL Draft not too far away, news and rumors are starting to come in around some of the highest-regarded prospects. this includes the likes of James Cook, Jermaine  Johnson, Matt Araiza, and others. With top-30 visits underway, here’s the latest we’re hearing around the NFL.

NFL Draft News and Rumors: RB James Cook is seeing league-wide interest

James Cook is one of the most versatile skill players in the draft and one of my favorite players at the running back position. After a terrific 2021 campaign and an outstanding Combine workout, he’s also one of the hottest names at the position in draft rooms around the league.

NFL teams view Cook as a “do everything” back; he’s a terrific inside runner with the necessary speed to beat defenders into the open field or around the corner. Cook is also an exceptional pass catcher, and as the tape proves, he’s just as adept lining up as an outside receiver as he is catching the ball out of the backfield. With so much versatility as well as the ability to line up in a multitude of offensive schemes, you could imagine the interest in Cook league-wide.

His official visit list is extensive — almost half the teams in the league are on his travel schedule. Teams Cook has already been to see or has on his schedule the next week include the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Bucs, Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore Ravens. The New York Jets are not using an official top-30 visit on Cook but have shown a ton of interest in the versatile skill player.

Expect Cook to come off the board somewhere in Round 2 later this month.

Jerome Ford has had multiple top-30 visits

Jerome Ford, who made his way to Cincinnati by way of Alabama, comes off a career campaign and grades as a late-third-round prospect. He timed the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds during the Combine after tipping the scales at 210 pounds. He also looked terrific catching the ball at the Senior Bowl and during Combine position drills, answering a question scouts had about his game.

The San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals all brought Ford to their facilities for an official top-30 visit. The New Orleans Saints, who ran Ford’s workout during the pro day, have also kept close tabs on the running back.

Solid Shrine Bowl performance to help Trestan Ebner?

After turning in three days of solid practice at the Shrine Bowl, Ebner timed 4.43 seconds at the Combine at 206 pounds. Ebner was a top-rated receiver in high school and projects as a third-down back in the NFL.

I presently have a sixth-round grade on Ebner. Ebner has privately worked out for the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, and Philadelphia Eagles. Ebner’s size and style are a perfect fit for the Eagles’ offense.

NFL Draft News and Rumors: Punter Matt Araiza a potential third-round prospect?

Once in a long while, a specialist comes on the scene and causes excitement in NFL draft rooms. Matt Araiza is the specialist — punter to be exact — causing excitement amongst NFL teams as we move towards the draft.

The rock star punter had 39 punts of 50 yards or longer, including a season-best 86-yard punt against San Jose State. Besides his powerful leg, Araiza is a terrific direction punter and placed 37 punts inside the 20-yard line last season. Araiza also handled field goals for San Diego State, hitting from 50 yards or longer on three different occasions.

He’s presently graded as a third-round prospect on my big board — Araiza has worked out privately for the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Chargers.

Sources tell me to keep an eye on the Rams. LA released All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker in the offseason and gave former Giants punter Riley Dixon a one-year, $1.03 million deal just last week.

Is Otito Ogbonnia climbing up draft boards?

When talking about the big men up front on the defensive line, the names of Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, and Travis Jones are always the first mentioned. But there is plenty of value in the middle rounds.

One player receiving a lot of buzz recently is Otito Ogbonnia of UCLA. The big interior lineman participated in both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine after a terrific season in 2021 when he finished with 30 tackles and 5 TFLs. And while those numbers are not eye-popping, what stands out about Ogbonnia’s game is the way he occupies blockers and the gaps, allowing teammates to make plays on the ball.

Ogbonnia is visiting with the Las Vegas Raiders today and will be on the road to see the Washington Commanders and Los Angeles Chargers later this week. He is receiving fourth-round grades from teams.

NFL Draft News and Rumors: Jermaine Johnson II being targeted by the Jets?

Jermaine Johnson II continues to ascend up draft boards and, from what I’m hearing, will be a top-eight pick and could even land in the top five. Sources close to Johnson tell me the New York Jets have been in constant contact with the edge rusher and have been doing an inordinate amount of research on the Florida State product.

Tony Pauline is the Chief Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Tony’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @TonyPauline.

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