Tannehill not a lock for Dolphins or top 10; more recent draft buzz
Despite reports, it's possible the Dolphins pass on Ryan Tannehill at No. 8 overall
Two teams have Stephon Gilmore higher than consensus top CB Morris Claiborne
Should Browns or Rams draft Trent Richardson; Ten Things I Think I Think; more
Michael Brockers is hot, Ryan Tannehill may not be. The old draft trade chart is out the window, the Jags have an itchy trigger finger, Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd have the attention of the Rams, Seattle may not want to move as much as the current rumor suggests and, speaking of rumors, I'd advise you not to believe many of them about moving up.
T-minus three days until you all get to open your presents, and this is what I'm hearing:
Movers and shakers ... Not so much. One of the things you're going to hear in the run-up to Thursday night's first round of the draft is how badly the Jacksonville Jaguars want to trade down from No. 7, which is true. And last night, one of the stories hatching around the league was that Seattle would move from 12 to seven -- ahead of Miami at eight -- to pick Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I think it's unlikely, and not just because the Seahawks just bought a quarterback, Matt Flynn, in free agency, last month.
Seattle doesn't want to use up two of its three choices in the top 100 of a draft they like a lot for a quarterback they might be able to pick sitting at 12. Think of it: There's one team that might take Tannehill between five and 11 -- Miami at eight. Let's say Seattle GM John Schneider feels there are multiple holes not at quarterback he needs to fill, and let's say he had to throw in his third-round pick, 75th overall, to be able to draft Tannehill. That means, after taking a quarterback in free agency and budgeting $15.5 million over the next two years for Flynn, he'd have used the 12th and 75th picks to procure another quarterback. Knowing Schneider and his love of building the roster through the draft, I'm dubious. From what I heard over the weekend, the trade market up to seven is comatose, unless Jacksonville's asking price is downright minuscule.
Brockers racks up the frequent-flier miles. LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers leads all potential draftees with 16 pre-draft visits to NFL teams, and he leads it by a lot. Intriguing Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson (teams wish he were faster than 4.58 in the 40, but he has the size at 6-foot-2 to match up with the new generation of wideouts) has made 12 trips. And two non-combine invitees -- SMU tight end Taylor Thompson and Miami (Ohio) guard Brandon Brooks -- have made just under a dozen. Included in Brooks' 10 visits was a trip to guard-needy Pittsburgh.
Now here's a story. A receiver in high school and defensive end in college, Thompson worked out at the SMU Pro Day as a tight end. Not a bad move, because teams came away thinking he could make the transition given his size (6-6, 259), athleticism and good hands. In the last two weeks, Thompson visited 11 teams and would have seen more if there'd only been more days in the week. I could see him going late in the third round and Brooks going by late in the second.
The Rams zero in on the receivers. Last week, St. Louis worked out both Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd. It's pretty late in the process to be working guys out, but the Rams wanted to see each player up close and personal one last time before setting their draft board with finality. It sounds like the Rams liked both, but likely will keep the Oklahoma State wideout, Blackmon, higher. I don't expect the Rams to give either man a final grade as high as A.J. Green's last year (few teams would), but I do expect them to be comfortable picking Blackmon sixth overall, if that's what it comes to. Still, don't be surprised to see the Rams puzzle over Trent Richardson if he falls to six.
Tannehill, fact and fiction. Just remember one thing on the Monday before the draft: It's in the Dolphins' best interests for the rest of the league to not know what they want to do about Ryan Tannehill -- and for teams like Jacksonville to be able to say to teams like Seattle: If you want Tannehill, and he gets by Cleveland at four, you've got to jump ahead of Miami at eight. And maybe you do. Let's say Tannehill gets past Cleveland, and I think he will. Over the weekend, I was told the same thing that Mike Florio reported on ProFootballTalk.com: that owner Stephen Ross wanted the Dolphins to pick Tannehill. I was also told Miami's offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, likes his former A&M quarterback (Sherman was Tannehill's coach before getting fired after the season) but isn't standing on the table for him.
Sunday night, respected Dolphins beat writer Armando Salguero reported the Ross item is not true and said a highly placed club source told him, animatedly, that Ross hasn't told anyone who to draft. And this morning, I got a call from someone saying Florio was right on; Ross wants the quarterback. So what will happen here? I don't know. But I do think it's less of a lock Tannehill goes no lower than eight than it was a couple of weeks ago. If Miami passes on him at eight, I expect him to go either to a trade-up team with Kansas City at 11 or to Seattle at 12.
Not sure how big of a deal this will become, but it's got the middle of the first round talk at least. Florio reported this first over the weekend, and let me expand on it. In the new collective bargaining agreement, there's a provision that could affect trading of draft choices in the first round. Each first-round pick can be signed to a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth year that has to be exercised in May following the third season of the contract. So rookies this year will sign for four years, through the end of the 2015 season; but in May 2015, teams have to tell the players if they intend to exercise the fifth years of the contract and lock up players through 2016. For picks 1 through 10 of the first round, that fifth-year salary will be the transition number, the average of the top 10 salaries at the position that season. For picks 11 through 32, the fifth-year salary will be the average of the third through 25th salaries at the position that year.
I'll give you an example. Let's use Tannehill. The transition number for quarterbacks this year is $14.3 million. The average of the third through 25th quarterback salary this year is $8.1 million. Who knows what the numbers will look like in May 2015, but they probably won't be smaller, or the gulf narrower. In other words, if you pick Tannehill at eight, you'll be paying $6.2 million more in a five-year deal for him than if you picked Tannehill at 12. Crazy. But true.
Now, some teams I spoke with over the weekend say the fifth year in the deal will simply be used as leverage in negotiations for a long-term deal. But I can see sticklers like Scott Pioli in Kansas City, Howie Roseman in Philadelphia and Mike Brown in Cincinnati holding players to fifth years at a lower price. There's a reason Pioli went on last week in his press conference with local writers about why he loved picking at 11. That's where the more team-friendly numbers begin.
In case you're interested, the difference in fifth-year numbers for defensive ends picked in the top 10 versus in the final 22 picks of round one ($4.3 million), and defensive tackles ($2.6 million), could come into play because of the big numbers of each position in the first round. "In any case,'' one club official told me over the weekend, "the old draft trade chart is obsolete.''
Dallas could pick between Barron and DeCastro. It's not like Jerry Jones to overload on the offensive line two years in a row by picking Stanford guard David DeCastro; the Cowboys took tackle Tyron Smith in the first round last year. It's more likely they'll focus on Alabama safety Mark Barron at No. 14. He's the darling of the mock draft set -- including in mine -- and is a battle-tested (38 starts under Nick Saban), day-one starter who would fit in well in a needy secondary.
The Colts would love to pick Stanford tight end Coby Fleener at No. 34, atop round two, but I think they'll have bigger fish to fry. Indianapolis is transitioning to the 3-4 defense without a lot of players to play it. GM Ryan Grigson has been working hard to find players who will fit new coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4, which would take a couple of years of player procurement. When you've been a defense built for speed for so long, and now you're going to a defense built for bulk, that's a major transition. So I don't see Indy, despite its affection for Fleener, continuing to team him with quarterback Andrew Luck. By the way, how odd is it that both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis could be 3-4 outside 'backers after careers at defensive end? I've got to think Freeney, at least, is itching for a draft-weekend trade.
What else I've heard: The Vikings are still a Matt Kalil team, but if he slips out of three, he could fall and be in play for Buffalo at 10 ... Still hearing the Bucs and Morris Claiborne most likely at No. 5 ... There's a lot of love for Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler low in the first round. Could have some position versatility to move to tackle ... The Stephon Gilmore train continues to pick up steam. I had him seven in my mock draft to Jacksonville last week, and I have no regrets. I know two teams that have him rated higher than Claiborne ...
The Patriots worked out Boise State outside 'backer/defensive end Shea McClellin and liked what they saw ... "Write it down,'' said a good personnel man. "Ted Thompson's taking help for Clay Matthews.'' A bookend pass-rusher, in other words, so Matthews sees less double-teaming in 2012 and beyond ... Guard-tackle Cordy Glenn is a favorite of Arizona at 13. Not saying the Cards will pick him, but I heard a lot in the last few days from people I talk to saying he was the one guy I didn't have in my mock first round who belongs ... Speaking of the Cards, I talked to Larry Fitzgerald over the weekend. Let's just say he wants fellow Minnesotan Michael Floyd with that 13th pick. Badly ...
Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram are all over the board, in terms of who might take them and what personnel people think of them. I'm talking anywhere from seventh to the second round for Coples, and 12th to the end of the first round for Ingram ... The longer the process goes, the more holes scouts poke in Dontari Poe.
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