NFL Insider notes: Why O-linemen will be overdrafted and the next Edelman
In a draft with only three linemen worthy of a first-round pick, give or take, get ready for reaches
I'm interested to see if the offensive linemen in this NFL Draft get pushed up boards due to the acute need around the league at that position. Because the more I speak to teams about how they have these guys graded, the less inspired I become. Maybe three of them have something close to universal first-round grades -- tackles Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin) and guard Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) -- but that's with some clubs saying Lamp could just as easily be a second-round talent.
So it's slim pickins … But did I mention how many teams desperately need help all over their lines? It would be naïve to think that won't come in to play in a spot or two. Regardless, how high is too high?
"None of these kids should be under consideration in the top 10," one evaluator told me. "None of them. Even in the teens it's probably a stretch."
The sweet spot should probably form in the 20s, where you could see the Broncos, Lions, Dolphins, Giants, Texans (if the QBs are gone), Seahawks and Falcons all seriously consider offensive linemen. But with so many of them carrying grades in the second and third rounds, will teams opt to actually wait for the value on Day 2? Or will demand simply end up pushing 5-6 offensive into the top 32 picks? Garrett Bolles (Utah) would be the next tackle to go, but his age is a concern for teams. Guard Dion Dawkins (Temple) has been rising through this process, with his power and mean streak coveted by offensive line coaches, and he could possibly get a bump to the late first round as well.
In the end, if there is a run on offensive lineman in the bottom third of the first round, the Raiders and Cowboys stand to benefit most, as they have already assembled two of the elite lines in the game and both could be in line to cherry pick the best remaining defenders as those clubs try to upgrade their secondary in particular.
Everybody's favorite draft sleeper
I've been hearing a lot of Julian Edelman comparisons when it comes to Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp. He's going to go very high in the second round and I wonder if it ends up involving a trade, given the level of interest. He has a winning mentality, comes from a family of top athletes and is beyond driven to succeed.
Esteemed mental conditioning coach Trevor Moawad, who has worked with hundreds of draft prospects over the years and who I've found to have an uncanny touch when sorting out which of these kids is wired best to succeed in the NFL, raves about Kupp.
"I nearly begged Jim McElwain when he went to Colorado State to recruit him," Moawad texted me. "Nobody wanted Cooper. His mother was a multi-year All American and my neighbor and an amazing athlete. His father played for (Bill) Parcells and is as humble a guy as you'll meet. This much is true about Cooper -- I've known him since he was 10 and HE ALWAYS EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS. Whoever drafts him will get more than they expected."
The Rams' scouting shakeup
There has been some mischaracterization about the Rams cleaning house in their scouting ranks. The men who are being let go had expiring contracts which the team opted not to renew, including college scouting director Ran Carthon. So they weren't fired. Still, it's unusual to make such decisions known just before what is yet another pivotal draft for the perpetually rebuilding franchise, and it does nothing to quell the scrutiny the team's evaluators are under right now. Given how ugly things got between ex-coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead and the front office on his way out -- and the environment there certainly got toxic -- there was obvious lingering divisions as well. If the Rams are going to avoid even more sweeping football operations changes in 2018, they're going to have to make the most of this draft in terms of quality and quantity. They've been a young team for a long time, but now they've got to be a good team, ASAP.
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