We're just under two weeks away from the NFL Draft, which means not only are the draft rumors hot-and-heavy, we're getting deep into spring practices in college football. It's always nice when there's a lot happening on the field and off of it, isn't it? We like to think so, anyway. If you're looking for some reading, I strongly recommend checking out Thor Nystrom's recent rankings, including his top interior lineman and tackle rankings, along with the excellent team needs series from Josh Norris and Evan Silva.
Here's a look at the top storylines in the NFL Draft and in college football from the previous week.
NFL Draft Rumors
*** It's been no secret that the Jets are considered one of the teams that are likely to trade down in the draft from the third pick, but we got a better idea of what they could be targeting this week. Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline reports that the Jets are interested in moving down to select an offensive tackle to help protect Sam Darnold and open up holes for newly-acquired tailback Le'Veon Bell. Pauline also mentions two names: Alabama T Jonah Williams and Washington State T Andre Dillard.
This makes a lot of sense, at least on paper. The Jets need draft capital after giving up a considerable amount of picks to trade up for Sam Darnold, and offensive line is an obvious need. The third pick is also a prime trade-down spot for a team that wants to move up to take Dwayne Haskins -- or possibly Drew Lock, we suppose -- so there should be plenty of suitors for the selection. The question is how far New York move down and get their top target; the Jaguars are rumored to be selecting an offensive lineman as well, but assuming they "settle" for Williams or Dillard -- Jawaan Taylor is viewed as the top tackle in the class by most analysts -- it's possible they could trade down more than once and get the offensive lineman they want.
*** NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray is taking an official pre-draft visit to the New York Giants on Thursday. Before you scratch your head and ask "why?" let's keep a couple things a mind. First of all, Josh Rosen is still an Arizona Cardinal, and it's been a long, long time since we've seen a team take quarterbacks in the first-round in back-to-back years. Assuming you don't count the Troy Aikman/Steve Walsh situation, anyway. Second, there have been rumors -- plenty of them -- that Arizona is using this Kyler Murray situation to help build up value for that first selection. The Giants have the sixth and 17th pick in the draft and clearly don't have a long-term answer at quarterback (sorry, Eli Manning apologists). The Raiders are also rumored to have interest in trading up for Murray, as well. Could be interesting.
*** Rapaport also reports that the New England Patriots are bringing in Duke QB Daniel Jones for a pre-draft visit. This one makes even more sense. Jones is a polarizing prospect -- some view the 6-foot-5, 220-pound signal-caller as the top quarterback prospect in the class or close, others are far less convinced. That being said, even those who aren't fans of Jones could acknowledge that this would be a great landing spot for the former Blue Devil, with a chance to play behind one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it in Tom Brady. The Patriots also have plenty of draft capital -- two second-round picks behind the first and three thirds -- so they could move down/up/what have you and end up with Jones along with players that can help in 2019.
*** On Sunday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban made some news with some comments, and "made some news" might be an understatement. Saban told reporters that it's "the players that lose" when they declare early for the NFL Draft.
"If you're a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year -- I'm not going to say any names -- goes and starts for his team, so he's making third-round money, which is not that great. He'd be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more," Saban said.
Calling this a specious argument is an insult to specious arguments. The player that Saban is referring to -- Ronnie Harrison -- may have been a first-round pick if he had returned, sure. He also could have gotten hurt, and in return, all he would have received is free WiFi at his hotel when Alabama traveled to Arkansas. Blaming a player for going to the NFL rather than playing for free (sorry, priceless cost of an education apologists) and risking bodily harm is insane.
*** Texas senior WR Collin Johnson is expected to be ready to roll for summer practices for the Longhorns. Johnson (6'6/220) is recovering from an offseason knee surgery, and he's slowly -- but surely -- making progress back. He's expected to be one of the top wideouts not just in the Big 12, but all of college football in 2019 after catching 68 passes for 985 yards and seven touchdowns.
*** Is it possible that we will have a new starting quarterback at USC in 2019? New offensive coordinator Graham Harrell told reporters that they will not name a starting quarterback coming out of spring practices. It's been widely assumed -- and for good reason -- that J.T. Daniels would be the starter after serving as the starting signal-caller for the Trojans last year. That being said, it didn't exactly go well for Daniels in 2018 with a 59.5 completion percentage and 14/10 TD/INT ratio. He's reportedly competing with both Jack Sears and Matt Fink for the starting job. We think this is more of a "bring out the best in competition" situation, and it's tough to imagine that USC would have anyone under center than Daniels when the season begins. That being said, it's at least worth monitoring.
*** Oklahoma has gotten some bad news with injuries of late -- including the Caleb Kelly news -- but they did get some good news with Nick Basquine being granted a sixth year of eligibility. Basquine showed flashes of brilliance as a sophomore, but he's battled Achilles issues in both of his tendons. With Marquise Brown off to the NFL, there could be some openings for targets from new quarterback Jalen Hurts. At the very least, Basquine should provide some needed depth in the receiving corps.
Virginia Tech senior WR Eric Kumah transferred to Old Dominion as a graduate. Kumah (6'2/225) opted in with the Monarchs over Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Cincinnati, Louisville and Penn State ... Irish Sports Daily's Matt Freeman reports that Notre Dame G Alex Bars (ACL/MCL) is two months ahead of schedule ... The Athletic's Dane Brugler reports that "several teams" don't have first-round grades on LSU CB Greedy Williams ... Clemson received a verbal commitment from 2020 five-star CB FrEd Davis ... Bowling Green redshirt senior DE Kyle Junior transferred to Oklahoma State as a graduate ... Former TCU WR KaVontae Turpin was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of assault with bodily injury ... NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says the Carolina Panthers have spent "considerable time" with West Virginia QB Will Grier ... Virginia Tech sophomore TE James Mitchell underwent surgery for a broken finger ... Tennessee redshirt senior LB Darrin Kirkland (knee) may end up missing the upcoming season. Kirkland (6'1/225) has undergone multiple procedures during his collegiate career and has not been participating in practice this spring as he continues to try to get right.