NFL Rumors & Draft News: 49ers’ QB target, Chase to Bengals, and more

    The NFL offseason is upon us, and it’s time to dive into the mailbag to discuss various topics around the league. Without further ado, let’s talk NFL rumors and 2021 NFL Draft news!

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    NFL Rumors & Draft News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (4.1.21)

    This week’s installment will cover my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings and various questions around 2021 NFL Draft rumors and items from around the league.

    To begin with, let’s dissect the fallout of the San Francisco 49ers’ trade to the No. 3 pick.

    NFL rumors and roster-building plans

    Do you really buy into the rumor that Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are targeting Mac Jones with their newly acquired 3rd overall pick?

    Yes, and reluctantly so. While I believe No. 3 is too high for Mac Jones, people around the league tell me as of now it’s their “gut feeling” Jones is the 49ers’ pick. We discussed this at length on The Draft Insiders last night.

    In my opinion, the 49ers badly need to upgrade at running back. Do you think the Niners will address the position at some point in the draft? And which RB prospects best fit Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system?

    I have not heard about any running backs the Niners are specifically interested in. Javian Hawkins and Kenneth Gainwell are real good fits in the bottom of Round 3 right now.

    Do you think the New York Jets will address the running back position? And if so, are you hearing any NFL rumors of players they like?

    I think the Jets will look at the running back position starting in Round 3. I know for a fact they are high on Khalil Herbert of Virginia Tech as well as Michael Carter of North Carolina.

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    They have had multiple Zoom meetings with both, which have included the Jets running backs coach.

    Is there really a chance the Bengals take Ja’Marr Chase at 5 rather than Penei Sewell despite their obvious need to protect Joe Burrow? If so, how far could Sewell slip in Round 1?

    Ja’Marr Chase has to be a factor at No. 5 if he drops, and it looks like he will be available at that selection. If the Bengals pass on Penei Sewell, I doubt he gets past the Cowboys at 10 and another team (Chargers? Eagles?) could trade up for Sewell.

    Following the Eagles’ trade to drop back to 12th overall, what do you think the Eagles are planning to do in Round 1? Do you believe the NFL rumors that they moved back from 6 because they believe Ja’Marr Chase will be gone inside the top 5?

    They have to be looking corner or wide receiver at that spot with the possibility of another trade. I don’t believe they moved back because Chase would not be available at pick No. 6.

    It seems many think Najee Harris’ ceiling in the draft is pick 18 to the Miami Dolphins but is there a team that might be targeting Harris (or any other running back) before Miami at 18? Perhaps the Arizona Cardinals?

    I don’t think Najee Harris is a good fit for the Cardinals, and I would be surprised if he’s selected any earlier than 18.

    After signing Sammy Watkins, will the Baltimore Ravens stand pat, or will they add more talent at the WR position through the draft?

    They could add receivers with their later picks, but I believe they will look for a pass rusher early on.

    2021 NFL Draft news and rumors

    It feels like Gregory Rousseau’s draft projection is all over the map, from as high as the early teens to as low as Round 2. Do you think Rousseau falls out of Round 1? If not, which team would he fit best with on the first night of the draft?

    I think it’s very possible Gregory Rousseau falls out of the first round as some teams have an early second-round grade on him. I think he would be a good fit in Buffalo, who needs a pass rusher.

    Are you hearing NFL rumors about some of the guys who were not able to work out at pro days because of injuries?

    It’s ironic the NFL allowed colleges to have as many pro days as they wanted this year which seemed like an absurd notion at first. The NFL was throwing the responsibility of the combine onto the colleges and telling them, “you hold the workouts.”  

    What’s happened is schools are using these second pro days to make sure players unable to participate in the original pro day get to work out. A couple of examples:

    Jabril Cox/LB/LSU — projects as a top-75 choice and did not do a workout on Wednesday due to a hamstring issue. The plans are for Cox to get a workout in right before the draft at a second LSU Pro Day. Details are being worked on with the school.

    Kenny Yeboah/TE/Mississippi — the Temple transfer, who registered 181 receiving yards and 2 scores against Alabama in October, pulled up during his first 40 at the Ole Miss Pro Day last week. Leading up to the pro day, Yeboah was running in the low 4.5s with a really quick 10-yard split around 1.50 seconds. If the hamstring can get back to health, the hope is Yeboah can participate at a second Ole Miss Pro Day. Considering the weakness of the TE class, a third-round calling of his name is on the line.

    You reported from the Senior Bowl that Zach Ertz was going to be traded, and his days with the Eagles were numbered.  There were NFL rumors he was going to be traded to the Los Angeles Chargers a few weeks ago, and it’s been nothing but silence since then. What do you think has happened?

    I can tell you this, Howie Roseman wants too much in return for Ertz, as has been reported. The trade with the Chargers went south because Roseman wanted a third-round pick, and reportedly, the Bills have since dropped out because of the asking price. I’m told the Colts are still interested.

    Roseman must see the weakness in this year’s tight end class and believes he can get better than market value in return for Ertz. What is the market value for Ertz? I’m told it’s a fifth-round pick that could increase in value based on playing time and production. If they don’t trade him before the draft, I think Ertz gets moved on draft weekend.

    Want more 2021 NFL rumors and draft prospect news? Want to do your own mock draft?

    Dive into PFN’s Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator and test your own drafting acumen. Continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay in the loop on all things college football and the NFL Draft landscape.

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