NFL Draft rumors: Buying or selling the latest buzz on Kyler Murray, Montez Sweat and more
Which draft rumors should we believe so close to the start of Round 1?
Here we are on Christma... I mean NFL Draft eve, and it's time to sift through the latest buzz regarding Kyler Murray, Rashan Gary, and some of the other top prospects in this year's class.
Fortunately we're nearing the end of lying season. Before it officially ends, let's get to those juicy rumors and break down why we're buying or selling them.
Real quick -- you'll be able to stream our live draft coverage right here on CBS Sports HQ (or download the CBS Sports app for free on any mobile or connected TV device). We'll be breaking down all the picks and everything you need to know during draft weekend.
Kyler Murray not going No. 1 overall to the Cardinals: Sell
Let's set the table here with a timeline on the Cardinals' interest in Murray. In January, the reigning Heisman winner declared for this NFL Draft. A few weeks before the combine, he made it clear baseball wouldn't get in the way, and he'd solely focus on football. At the combine, everybody and everybody's brother made it clear to anyone fishing out rumors in Indianapolis that Arizona loved Murray and would take him No. 1 overall.
That was the case until about a week ago. What happened? What makes the most sense to me is this -- as more of the Cardinals coaching staff and front office "caught up" with college scouting and the pre-draft process, there was bound to a few people not totally on board with picking him at No. 1 overall. And, in general, the Cardinals still feel good about Josh Rosen. Central figures near/at the top of Arizona's organization can love Murray and feel optimistic about Rosen at the same time. Because of the uniqueness of the situation, this isn't as slam dunk of a scenario as usual, when the team holding the No. 1 overall pick is in dire need of a quarterback, thereby essentially telegraphing what will happen with that selection.
Therefore, I think the Cardinals have taken a prudent approach in handling Murray and Rosen. No one can jump them to pick Murray, and that puts them in a position of incredible power. It'd do no good for the Cardinals to make it known Murray was their guy and they were ready to move on from Rosen. Eagerness reduces trade value. And after a bad rookie season -- albeit in a brutal on-field environment -- Arizona has had to rebuild Rosen's value. That takes time, patience, and strategy, especially without any games to provide an opportunity for Rosen to prove himself. I mean, if Arizona trades him for a third-round pick, they'd have spent last year's first-round pick and sent choices in the third and fifth round for one year of Rosen's services and a 2019 third-rounder. Woof.
By slow-playing their hand with Murray they've opened up trade possibilities. If a team like the Raiders wanted to offer all three first-round picks in this draft to move to No. 1, then Arizona, a team in rebuilding mode, would probably be open to the idea of Rosen at the helm and GM Steve Keim with picks at No. 4, No. 24, No. 27 and No. 33 overall to build. And, hey, in the end, maybe they aren't ever blown away by an offer. And I don't think they will be. But by at least hinting at the idea they might not pick Murray, the Cardinals gave trade offers a chance to materialize. It'd be a historic draft surprise if the Cardinals went elsewhere at No. 1, and Murray fits Kingsbury's system perfectly. I still believe the former Oklahoma quarterback will be the first player picked in this draft.
Montez Sweat and Rashan Gary falling: Buy
Right around this time last year, rumors started to surface that Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst's heart condition could sink him to Day 3. And after spending most of the pre-draft process as a locked-in first-rounder, that's precisely what happened. Sweat, who was flagged for a heart condition weeks ago but was ultimately cleared by doctors, could find himself in a similar slide.
No report has suggested a slide to Day 3 like Hurst, but according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, he's been taken off the draft boards of some teams. A plummet from the top 10 -- where he was widely considered to land after a strong Senior Bowl and ridiculous combine -- at this point seems likely.
As for Gary, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the former Michigan Wolverine has a labrum tear that has teams "doing extra homework on his shoulder." For any prospect, news surfacing about an injury two days away from the draft is no bueno. Then again, this is something teams could've known for a while. Still, though, couple the injury with a career in Ann Arbor that lacked the production many expected from him after being the No. 1 recruit in the nation and Gary seems like another prospect bound to sink outside the top 10.
Will Grier sneaking into the back end of Round 1: Sell
A few weeks ago, NFL.com's Gil Brandt tweeted Daniel Jones as the "surprise" quarterback primed to get picked in the first round. Because that (very credible) report surfaced a while ago, let's jump to another passer who's more recently received some Round 1 buzz. Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network both hinted at Grier finding his way inside the first 32 picks on Thursday night.
Grier excelled throwing from a clean pocket during his career at West Virginia, and playing in an Air Raid system will probably do more good than bad for his standing among NFL decision-makers given the current (and future) state of pro offenses.
But, he has work to do under pressure. His performances against Iowa State and Kansas, two clubs that got after him, should've raised enough red flags to push him onto Day 2. Grier clocking the fastest ball velocity among quarterbacks at the combine likely boosted his stock. However, his film clearly shows a quarterback lacking the arm strength of a starter in the NFL. Could a team like the Chargers or Patriots be interested in Grier at No. 28 or No. 32 overall. Probably. But ultimately I believe those clubs go in a different direction that'll have a more immediate impact.
The Athletic's Joe Person mocked Grier to the Panthers in the second round, at No. 47 overall. That seems much more reasonable for the former West Virginia signal-caller.
One of the Giants, Dolphins, or Chargers trade for Josh Rosen: Buy
On The Adam Schefter Podcast, ESPN's Schefter listed that trio of teams as the "primary suitors" for a possible trade to acquire Rosen. I don't think the Giants are very likely to trade for him. They seem set on Daniel Jones. The same goes for the Dolphins, a club seemingly with eyes on either Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa near the top of the 2020 Draft.
The Chargers are an intriguing option, and the exact type of sleeper team I can envision swooping in at the last minute and making the shrewd decision to acquire Rosen via trade. It's just gotten to the point where the obvious teams -- Redskins and Giants -- have shown no outward interest in the 2018 first-rounder, but the Cardinals have to trade him by the time they draft Murray (or very soon thereafter).
While Philip Rivers hasn't really slowed down in his late 30s, he is entering the final year of his contract, and any extension is unlikely to be more than a few years. In last year's draft, the Chargers did their homework on the all the top quarterbacks but couldn't pass on Derwin James at No. 17. Monster steal. Rosen just turned 22 in February and is under contract -- his cheap rookie deal -- through the 2021 season, when Rivers will turn 40. After that, the Chargers would have the luxury of the fifth-year option. I realize I'm taking a big swing here. Los Angeles makes plenty of sense for Rosen and the club is just far enough away from the smoke that, to me, it has a good chance to happen.
Panthers and Texans most likely teams to trade up: Buy
This one comes from MMQB's Albert Breer. And it seems very plausible. But trade ups for offensive linemen in Round 1 are rare.
Such a move hasn't happened since the 2016 Draft, when the 49ers traded into the first round for Joshua Garnett. Whiff. Earlier in Round 1 the Titans moved up to pick Jack Conklin in the top 10, but that swap occurred after Tennessee moved out of No. 1 overall -- which allowed the Rams to pick Jared Goff -- so the Titans had a glut of extra picks.
Before that, the last time a team traded up to pick an offensive lineman in the first round on draft day was in 2010, when the 49ers made an aggressive move to land Anthony Davis.
After signing Matt Paradis in free agency, re-inking Daryl Williams at right tackle and with budding star Taylor Moton and established stud Trai Turner up front, I don't think Carolina will be the team to make the atypical move up for a blocker.
The Texans are a different story. After Deshaun Watson was sacked the most times in the NFL last season, they signed Matt Kalil in free agency. That's it up front. Yikes. And, their draft positioning and capital makes them an ideal candidate to make a move for an offensive linemen. At No. 23 overall, they almost assuredly will be out of range to grab one of the elite tackles in this class: Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor, or Andre Dillard. Garrett Bradbury, the athletic center from NC State, could be there. Cody Ford, the versatile, overpowering guard/tackle from Oklahoma, might be available.
But new GM Brian Gaine and Bill O'Brien shouldn't take any chances. And the Texans have back-to-back picks in the second round, No. 54 and No. 55 overall. There's your ammo to move inside the top 20, Houston. If such a trade up happens, my money is on the Texans making the move.
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