2017 NFL Draft Rumors: Top-10 talents slipping, five QBs headed for first round?

With most NFL teams finishing up their draft meetings and the combine recheck taking place, the days leading up to the draft is ripe with rumor and innuendo. NFLDraftScout.com's staff is filtering through the hot gossip with a "Fire Detector" assigning the big news as "Fire" with "Smoldering Coals" and "Simply Smoke" used to differentiate the reports.

Alabama Crimson Tide inside linebacker Reuben Foster and Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell are two of the most gifted defenders in the 2017 draft, with tape that suggests that each should be considered with a top-10 pick.

Neither is likely to get selected that high, however, at least according to some of this week's hottest rumors.

Foster, the reigning Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker, was among the prospects invited back to Indianapolis last week for the medical rechecks. This was not simply because Foster was booted out of the initial combine for a well-documented dispute with a medical official there. Foster underwent surgery on his rotator cuff in February and teams wanted to get an update.

Unfortunately for Foster, some teams are not satisfied with his recovery – at least, according to a report from ESPN's NFL Insiders TV program. It was even suggested that Foster may need a second surgery, which could threaten his availability for training camp.

Not surprisingly, Foster's agent, Malki Kawa, had the opposite opinion, taking to Twitter to claim that his client is "ahead of schedule" and "will be ready for training camp."

The issue with McDowell is not so much medical as motivational -- as in his relative lack of it.

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound McDowell is among the more physically dominant prospects in the draft when focused, but you wouldn't know it from the meager statistics (34 tackles, including seven for loss and 1.5 sacks) he posted a year ago -- a significant drop from a splashy sophomore season in which 13 of his 41 tackles came behind the line of scrimmage, including 4.5 sacks. 

NFLDraftScout.com Fire Detector: Fire. Whether because of the medical or the character red-flags created with his expulsion from the original combine, Foster's stock is slipping, according to multiple league sources contacted by NFLDraftScout.com. The same is true with McDowell. One could argue that his numbers might have approached his 2015 production had McDowell not missed three games with a nagging ankle sprain but the reality is McDowell's inconsistency and toughness were being questioned even prior to his injury. Worse, scouts from multiple teams shared with NFLDraftScout.com that McDowell's interviews at the combine and since were – as one scout characterized it – "far from ideal."

Fourth or even fifth QB to be selected in the first round?

Most expect that North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky and Clemson Tigers 's Deshaun Watson will be selected somewhere in the first round. I also believe that Texas Tech Red Raiders 's Patrick Mahomes will hear his name called, perhaps as early as No. 13 overall to the Arizona Cardinals .

There are plenty who believe that Notre Dame Fighting Irish 's DeShone Kizer and California Golden Bears 's Davis Webb could also earn first-round picks, with some even suggesting that it would be a surprise if at least one of these passers was not a top-32 selection.

Given that the value of young quarterbacks has never been higher (and that the depth at typically hard-to-find positions like edge rusher and defensive back is so good this year), it is a possibility worth considering, though most believe that Kizer and Webb (and perhaps Mahomes, as well) are at least a year away from contributing much.

NFLDraftScout.com Fire Detector: Smoldering Coals. Most are focusing on the teams selecting early as the potential landing spots for the quarterbacks, as it would shock no one if the Cleveland Browns (picking first and No. 12 overall), San Francisco 49ers (No. 2), Chicago Bears (No. 3) or New York Jets (No. 6) gambled on young passers. What makes this rumor intriguing, however, is that many of the teams selecting later that already have veteran Pro Bowl quarterbacks may be looking for a young backup to groom behind their accomplished starters. The San Diego Chargers (No. 7), Buffalo Bills (No. 10), Cardinals, New York Giants (No. 23) and New Orleans Saints (No. 11, 32) have each dedicated significant time into vetting this year's quarterbacks and may see the potential fifth year of rookie contracts allowed just for first-round selections as the perfect "layaway plan" to develop a young passer. 

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