NFL News and Rumors Mailbag: Eagles’ first-round trade likely, Browns-Baker Mayfield deal timeline, and more

In today's NFL news and rumors, PFN's Mike Kaye answers questions about NFL Draft trades, the wide receiver market, and more.

With less than a week until the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, Pro Football Network has opened up its weekly mailbag to answer reader questions.

NFL News and Rumors: Do you think the Eagles end up with two first-round picks? Trade up/back/stay put?

Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman loves making deals, especially during draft weekend. He now has added flexibility with multiple first- and third-round picks. So, he can work the board in pretty much any way he sees fit.

The expectation going into the first round is that the Eagles won’t pick at their current slots (No. 15 and No. 18). At No. 15, they are likely to miss out on the blue-chip talent on defense, so there stands a strong possibility that Roseman looks to jump in the 10-13 range to nab an elite prospect at defensive tackle, defensive end, or defensive back. Having an extra third-round pick (No. 101) could help them accomplish said feat.

Also, with No. 18, the Eagles could then trade back into the 22-28 range to recoup a third-round pick from a team looking to jump the New Orleans Saints at No. 19. The Eagles want to have flexibility, quality, and quantity during draft weekend, and they are positioned to check all three boxes if they play their cards right.

It would be an absolute stunner if the Eagles picked at No. 15 and No. 18 on Day 1.

Will GM pass on paying WRs and just pick more of them?

Robert brings up an excellent point. Wide receivers are pricing themselves off contending teams and forcing mega-trades to middling franchises, who in turn become would-be contenders themselves. It’s tough at the top, and when push comes to shove, there’s always a price to be paid for success.

While wide receiver has become a premium position over the past few years due to the massive emphasis on the passing game, it’s still not on par with quarterback, offensive tackle, or pass rusher. Teams have done a better job of cultivating receiver talent than the other three positions, so the position isn’t as much of a “non-negotiable” trade chip.

In theory, Robert’s point is interesting. If you’re a contending team that wants to keep the band together for the foreseeable future, does it make sense to replenish — instead of paying — the wideout depth chart?

Quarterback, offensive tackle, and defensive end are game-changing positions that impact the passing game, even more so than wideout. So, in theory, WR will probably get the short straw to keep the top-level talent at QB, OT, and DE. Consistently adding and developing wideouts is a great solution for an emerging market. Still, it takes a lot of faith in the scouting and coaching departments to pull off said strategy.

What is likely to happen long-term is some teams will overvalue their incumbent wideout talent, while others will follow the rinse and repeat method in the draft. Each team has a different positional value philosophy, which is what this comes down to at the moment.

How do you think Cleveland Browns will attack the draft, given the ammo they have to trade up?

Despite sending a massive haul — including the 13th overall pick — to the Houston Texans for QB Deshaun Watson last month, the Browns still have seven selections in next week’s draft. They own a second-round pick (44th overall) and two third-round picks (78th and 99th overall). They also have the 118th overall selection in the fourth round.

In theory, as Mac points out, there’s some legitimate trade-up ammo here, and the Browns appear to be going all-in on the Watson era. Combining the 44th and 78th overall picks could get the Browns into the back five of the first round.

With the Kansas City Chiefs owning No. 29 and No. 30, a trade back to 44th overall with one of those picks could be a logical move to extend their flexibility. The same could be said for the Detroit Lions, who own a second first-round pick with the 32nd overall selection. Gaining an extra third-round pick could be enticing for Detroit, especially when they already own No. 34 on Day 2.

What positions could the Browns trade up for? Wide receiver, defensive end, and defensive tackle feel like the most logical targets. Nabbing a wideout like North Dakota State’s Christian Watson or a defensive tackle like Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt could make a lot of sense. If Michigan’s David Ojabo falls, he could be a stash-away talent at pass rusher to target.

Let’s touch on Mac’s second question here: The Browns trading Baker Mayfield ahead of the draft feels unnecessary. If a team misses out on their ideal QB prospect on Day 1 of the draft, the Browns might have more leverage to make a trade on Day 2. Mayfield doesn’t have much juice on the trade market, and the Browns will probably need to pay for most of his salary in a swap anyway.

That said, the more desperate a team like Seattle or Carolina is after the first round, the more likely the Browns are to improve their draft haul.

Based on those factors, Mayfield is likely to be traded on Day 2 or 3 of the draft at the earliest. The Browns might try to hold him until just before training camp to squeeze any sort of juice they can out of a trade, and that wouldn’t be a foolish move. Ultimately, it feels like Carolina is Mayfield’s most logical end game.

Wide Receiver depth for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

At the moment, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the following wideouts on their depth chart: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson, Vyncint Smith, Austin Watkins, and Brashad Perriman.

Godwin is coming off an ACL injury, but otherwise, the group is golden. Evans and Gage can hold down the fort with Miller, Darden, and Johnson until Godwin returns from injury. Gage led the Atlanta Falcons in receiving yards last year, and he’s an ascending, starting-caliber addition. Evans is really the key. If he continues to dominate in the red zone, the Bucs are in better shape at wideout than most of the league.

Can you give me a pro comp for Drake London and maybe a player you see as his ceiling, given his playing style/size?

The consistent Mike Evans comparison is interesting, but Evans is a bit more physical and dynamic than Drake London. Evans is also an inch taller and about 12-15 pounds heavier than the USC wideout.

London has also been compared to Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers, and from a size perspective, that makes sense. Williams comes off a bit faster on tape, though, from my point of view.

Cincinnati Bengals wideout Tee Higgins (6’4″, 215 pounds) appears to be the most comparable on tape to London (6’4″, 219 pounds). Like London, Higgins wasn’t a particularly consistent separator in college, but they both use their size and length exceptionally well.

I wasn’t as high on Higgins coming out of college as others were and had him as a mid-second-round pick. The Bengals selected him 33rd overall in 2020. Since joining the Bengals, Higgins has proven me wrong, just as London is likely to do with plenty of his critics.

Over the past two seasons, Higgins has caught 144 passes for 1,999 yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s excellent production considering he shared the field with all-world rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase last season. Despite running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Higgins has averaged 14.2 yards per catch during his career.

London feels like a wideout who understands his strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, refusing to run a 40-yard dash ahead of the draft has concerned some about his speed, but he doesn’t look particularly slow on tape. The USC WR projects as a possession receiver who can win on crossing and vertical routes as a jump-ball dynamo. Fade routes in the end zone will be his go-to usage, and he should be able to win the majority of his 50-50 attempts.

Look, London isn’t a perfect prospect. He might just fall in the line of “good, not great,” but for a team looking for a 1B complement to a speedster or technician, teams could do a lot worse in the second half of the first round, which is where I expect him to go.

His ceiling is probably No. 15 with the Philadelphia Eagles, and his floor is most likely No. 30 with the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s a wide range, but this wideout class has pretty strong depth through the third round.

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