Johnny Manziel got the most buzz after the combine based on his workouts and reported success in interviews, but I know a few teams that still aren’t interested. And despite our Teddy Bridgewater ranking, concerns have opened up about his interviews in Indianapolis.
That, plus Clowney scenarios, a trade in the works, defensive back combine performance talk and the next step in determining which quarterbacks go where on draft day.
-Depending on whom you ask, Johnny Manziel is either a top-five lock or destined for a draft-day fall. Based on what I’ve heard, I’m a part of the latter. I’ve repeatedly heard that the Jaguars and Raiders have little to no interest in Johnny Manziel, and the Browns interest isn’t nearly what it was when Mike Lombardi was in charge. Bill O’Brien wouldn’t have taken the job in Houston unless he had full control over his quarterback, so I’d personally be very surprised if he fit there, but haven’t heard either way from Houston.
-Three teams fit for Manziel in the first round: the Cleveland Browns (though, in my most recent Mock Draft, I had them waiting until their second first-rounder), the Minnesota Vikings (though they aren’t pressed to find their franchise quarterback with Norv Turner in the mix) and the Dallas Cowboys. Don’t rule out Dallas grabbing Manziel if he starts to slip.
-Also, if the Jaguars wanted to sell tickets with their first pick (they won’t, and don’t need to compared to other teams in the NFL), they would’ve signed Tim Tebow the last few years. Shahid Khan wants to win for the long-term, not sell tickets tomorrow.
-Teddy Bridgewater didn’t perform well in multiple interviews with teams during the combine, and drew some comparisons to Geno Smith from last year. While I’m still confident he’ll be a top-five pick as of now, rumors are he’s coaching by agents and the people around him aren’t ideal. The Geno Smith comparison certainly scares me after how far Geno fell last year. Still, the Jaguars, Browns and Raiders all are strong fits for Bridgewater.
-The next key part of the draft process for these quarterbacks will be in team’s individual workouts. Those private workouts will likely have more impact as to which quarterback team’s draft than any film work or post-season event these players have gone through. As an example, the Buffalo Bills worked out Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and EJ Manuel before the draft last year. Despite holding Barkley and Smith in high regard entering the workout, and the obvious relationship Nassib had with Doug Marrone, they entered these private quarterback workouts with an open mind. EJ Manuel fit their offense best in those private workouts, and that ended up being the determining factor in the Bills taking Manuel in round one. Teams may have a quarterback ranking today, but those workouts could shift things in ways that are impossible to predict at this point.
-I talked at length about the Derek Carr to Tampa Bay connection in the last “State of the Draft”, and it’s still a strong possibility.
-Current quarterback predictions: Texans-Bortles, Jaguars-Bridgewater, Browns-Manziel, Bucs-Carr, Vikings-Thomas, Raiders-McCarron, Bears-Garoppolo. Garoppolo is the true wildcard at this point.
-Jadeveon Clowney is going in the top three picks, and there’s only a handful of scenarios in which the draft may play out, barring some unexpected change between now and draft day:
1. Bortles goes first, the Falcons trade up for Clowney, Rams take offensive tackle at #6
2. Clowney goes first overall
3. Bortles goes first, the Browns trade up for Bridgewater, the Jaguars take Clowney
A change in team’s quarterback workouts may alter it slightly, but I don’t expect Clowney to slip at all on draft day. I’d give the Falcons 4:1 odds on landing Clowney. Texans 8:1, Rams 10:1, Jaguars 15:1, the field 50:1.
-Rumors are that there is a Falcons-Rams trade already loosely in place. The Falcons likely won’t want to give up their second rounder, so dealing a few mid-rounders or a 2nd in 2015 may be more likely.
-The defensive backs as a whole didn’t have many “losers” of the week, as most met the thresholds that scouts likely assumed they’d be in. The two Florida cornerbacks didn’t showcase the type of athletic dominance I think some expected, which was a bit concerning for us even though we have a low-ish grade on them now. However, don’t get too excited about Keith McGill of Utah or Phillip Gaines of Rice. Both guys had plus workouts, but many teams still feel McGill is a safety in the NFL (second-round level grades at best) with some potential to play cornerback (more of a third-fourth rounder there). Gaines has a tremendous forty-time, but he hasn’t risen for teams the way he may in the media.
-I’ve always felt this, and my sentiments were confirmed by another evaluator: the 3-cone drill is generally more important than the forty-yard dash. The forty is so mechanical and only shows top-end speed, at best. More value actually comes from WATCHING the forty to see how guys move. But the 3-cone drill can show a receiver’s ability to cut quickly as a route runner, a running back’s ability to quickly change direction, a pass rusher’s bend and explosiveness, a linebacker’s adjustment around a bend to evade blockers, and defensive back’s explosiveness and hip fluidity. Focus on that as opposed to the forty-time when evaluating those positions.