There is always plenty of news and rumors heading into the NFL Draft each year, but they always seem to ramp up the week of the draft. This year is no different, with plenty of rumblings around the league in regard to what teams might be thinking ahead of the three-day event. Here’s the latest on what we are hearing, including a possible standoff in Jacksonville.
A standoff in Jacksonville with the first overall pick?
There are a lot of interesting takes on who the Jaguars will select with the first pick of the draft and why they will take that player. In late March, we mentioned Travon Walker as the Jaguars’ pick for various reasons, including that he fits the Trent Baalke mold.
Earlier on Monday, I stated that owner Shad Khan is partial to Aidan Hutchinson. But the key to making the final decision is likely held by head coach Doug Pederson, who is said to prefer OT Ikem Ekwonu. One team selecting at the top of the draft told me that, for self-preservation purposes, Baalke probably shouldn’t challenge Pederson’s choice.
If Baalke chooses to override Pederson on the first pick of the draft and things quickly go south in Jacksonville this season, Pederson will likely point the finger at Baalke. Then again, would Jaguars fans be upset if Baalke was shown the door?
Chiefs and Cardinals eyeing the receiver position in the first round?
The belief is that the Kansas City Chiefs will take defensive end Boye Mafe and a receiver with their two selections late in Round 1, but could they use both choices on defensive prospects? The answer is yes, from what I’m told.
If Chris Olave is not available and they can’t trade up for WR Jameson Williams, sources close to the Chiefs tell me Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon is being seriously considered with one of those two picks.
The Arizona Cardinals are another team that wants to draft a receiver but will likely be shut out of the top players at the position. And those (Olave, London, Wilson) are the wideouts they most covet.
So which direction will they go with the 23rd pick? The obvious answer is the interior offensive line — Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green. The surprise pick could be Logan Hall out of Houston, who’d be a great fit for that system.
Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce is a name to watch in Round 2
Alec Pierce of Cincinnati is one receiver swiftly moving up draft boards that Kansas City and Arizona could consider in Round 2.
Though rated lower on the outside, Pierce has been consistently receiving second-round grades from teams and may not make it into the third frame. He was prominent during the Bearcats’ march to the College Football Playoff and turned in a terrific senior season.
He tested incredibly well at the combine, timing 4.41 seconds in the 40 with an insanely fast 10-yard split of 1.46 seconds. Only two receivers, Skyy Moore (1.44) and Tyquan Thornton (1.41), had faster 10-yard splits at the combine. His vertical jump of 40.5 inches was tops for the receiver group in Indianapolis.
So who are the candidates for Pierce in Round 2? The Bears pick 48th and have shown a lot of interest in the wideout, as have the Green Bay Packers at pick 53. Don’t discount the Indianapolis Colts with the 42nd selection.
The Jets draft will be interesting, to say the least
Earlier this week, we reported that Joe Douglas was all in on Deebo Samuel and ready to use the 10th pick of the draft to acquire the talented skill player from San Francisco. A league executive confirmed this to me on Sunday and also said if Douglas could pry DK Metcalf from the Seattle Seahawks with the 10th pick, he would make that move.
On Tuesday evening (April 26), during the PFN Draft Insiders show with PFN Analyst Trey Wingo, I stated that after speaking with a league executive, I was told, “Deebo Samuel will be a Jet, and the tenth pick will belong to the 49ers”. Whether it actually gets done remains to be seen, but this is a situation worth keeping a very close eye on through the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
And now that I’ve got your attention, I suggest all Jets fans sit down as they read the final piece of this story.
I am told Jets owner Woody Johnson will be very involved in this year’s draft. To what extent will Johnson be involved? I did not get specifics, but is any involvement in the draft from Woody Johnson good involvement?
Now, for those who may want to burn down my home, let me tell you this — the source on Johnson’s involvement in this year’s draft is the same person who informed me just days before the 2019 NFL Draft that former Jets GM Mike Maccagnan would be fired soon afterward and told me two weeks in advance of last year’s draft that the 49ers’ pick at the quarterback position would be Trey Lance over Mac Jones.