7 NFL Draft rumors including Broncos, Rams, Patriots, Commanders, Chargers, and more

If you, dear reader, are growing weary of all the NFL Draft rumors then I have some good news.

This will be the last Friday installment of these rumor roundups before the 2024 NFL Draft.

Not that this series is finished. No no, dear reader. You can look forward to one of these each day next week until the draft finally gets underway. Then instead of rumors, we will have actual draft picks to discuss.

Unless you consider the Round 2 mock draft that is coming your way next Friday more rumors. In which case, well, it will all be over soon.

Until then, let’s fire up the rumor DeLorean. When these hit 88 miles per hour you’re gonna see some serious …

Why the Rams might not draft a DT early

With the retirement of Aaron Donald, defensive tackle is a position often linked with the Los Angeles Rams. Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II is a common selection for the Rams in mock drafts, as Los Angeles sits at No. 19 overall.

However, it is likely the Rams go in a different direction given, as pointed out by Rams Wire. As Cameron DeSilva notes, the organization knew for a while that Donald was probably heading into his final few seasons in the league, giving the team time to prepare accordingly.

After Aaron Donald announced his retirement from the NFL, the immediate question was “how will the Rams replace him?” They haven’t signed anyone in free agency, which points to them drafting a defensive tackle early to fill the massive void left by No. 99.

No single player can take the place of the future Hall of Famer, but it’s possible the Rams already have his successor on the roster. That player is Kobie Turner, who should’ve won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2023.

When you think about it, the Rams actually drafted Donald’s replacement a year ago when they selected Turner 89th overall out of Wake Forest. He’s the primary reason Los Angeles may not draft a defensive tackle such as Byron Murphy II or Johnny Newton as early as many people think they will.

Not to mention, the Rams probably knew Donald was only going to play two more years when he signed his new contract in 2022. VP of football operations Tony Pastoors told The Athletic that when Donald signed his deal in 2022, he “looked me in the face and said, ‘I’m playing two years.’” The structure of Donald’s contract, which came with an option in 2024, suggests the Rams had a strong feeling he’d retire after the 2023 season, too.

As a result, they knew they’d need to find Donald’s replacement sooner rather than later, which is why they drafted Turner when they did. They viewed him as Donald’s heir, not some rookie in the 2024 class.

Adjust your expectations — and mock draft — accordingly.

Sean Payton seeking to avoid a repeat of 2017

The Denver Broncos are one of a cluster of teams in the first round eying the quarterback position.

For head coach Sean Payton, this draft is perhaps a chance to do what he did not do in 2017 with New Orleans.

According to Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda Payton had his eyes on Patrick Mahomes that draft cycle. Sitting with the No. 11 pick, the New Orleans Saints were looking to trade into the top ten, according to Pauline, but that deal fell through. When the Cincinnati Bengals drafted wide receiver John Ross at No. 9, Payton believed they were home free.

That is when the Kansas City Chiefs ruined his dreams, moving up over 15 spots in the first round to draft Mahomes right in front of New Orleans.

It is a feeling Payton does not want to endure twice.

“Why is that relevant for the upcoming draft? Sources tell me losing out on Mahomes has left an eternal bad taste in the mouth of Payton,” writes Pauline. “Recent word inside the league is that the Broncos coach is ready to mortgage the franchise’s future to move up and select a quarterback Thursday night.”

Maybe that fear is what drove Payton to do this:

Although as many pointed out on social media, two hours is around the runtime of Moneyball, or Draft Day.

Commanders trading back into first round?

Earlier this week, I mentioned that my good friend Adam Epstein of 910 the Fan in Richmond, Virginia is hoping that the Washington Commanders not only draft a quarterback in the first round, but come back into the mix on Thursday night to add an offensive tackle.

Adam might be onto something.

During his annual pre-draft press conference NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah made the same case.

“I think they’re a prime candidate to come back up and try and scoop up one of these tackles,” Jeremiah said. “If you’ve got Amarius Mims [Georgia], who’s floating around there in the teens, they have plenty of ammunition to be aggressive and go get a starting offensive tackle. That, to me, is something I would keep an eye on. I don’t see them standing pat and sticking there at 36 and 40. I think you’ll see them try and make a move and address the offensive line.”

If the Commanders were to entertain such a move, they have a lot of draft capital at their disposal. Barring a move prior to Thursday, Washington begins draft week with nine draft picks overall, including six in the first three rounds:

  • Round 1, Selection 2 (Pick No. 2 overall)
  • Round 2, Selection 4 (Pick No. 36 overall)
  • Round 2, Selection 8 (Pick No. 40 overall)
  • Round 3, Selection 3 (Pick No. 67 overall)
  • Round 3, Selection 14 (Pick No. 78 overall)
  • Round 3, Selection 36 (Pick No. 100 overall)

Commanders “feel great” at No. 2

Continuing with the Commanders and the idea of a trade, while Washington moving back into the first round is picking up a steam, the notion that the Commanders would move out of No. 2 overall appears all but over.

If you had any notion of Washington trading down, new General Manager Adam Peters dismissed the idea at the team’s pre-draft press conference Thursday:

As for which player — or more accurately, quarterback — the Commanders pick in that spot, Peters noted they are coming close to a final decision. However, as a “process guy,” the organization will run through the tape:

The Commanders have been linked with seemingly every quarterback prospect this draft cycle. Soon we will finally know their decision.

Patriots “open for business” at No. 3

While the Washington Commanders seem set with picking at the top of the draft, the team on the clock right behind them might be willing to make a move out of No. 3.

In his pre-draft press conference, New England Patriots Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf noted that the team is “open for business” at No. 3.

“When you’re picking this high, fortunately, those teams that are interested are also doing that, so they’ll reach out earlier than they would when we’re on the clock. That makes it easier in this particular situation,” said Wolf before adding that trading back and adding a player in the process via trade is “definitely something we’d be open to.”

However, if a deal cannot be made, Wolf is comfortable with the top quarterbacks in that spot. “I think we’d be comfortable with it,” said Wolf when asked about picking a QB at No. 3.

Giants GM Joe Schoen believes the draft “starts at two”

Joe Schoen was another of the general managers holding a pre-draft press conference on Thursday, and the Giants GM made the case that this year, the draft begins at No. 2 when the Washington Commanders are on the clock.

“I think everybody is assuming who’s going No. 1. We can all agree that’s probably going to happen. It’s going to be Caleb [Williams to Chicago], and then the draft starts at two. We’ll see what Washington does. There’s rumors of teams behind us wanting to come up and some of the calls we’ve received,” said Schoen on Thursday. “We don’t know what’s going to happen at two, three, four, five, are people are going to come up behind us, but those are all things we’re talking about and going through different scenarios.”

While the Giants have been one of the teams linked to a potential trade up in the draft for a quarterback — perhaps to No. 4 with the Arizona Cardinals — Schoen noted that he has received many calls from teams picking behind the Giants, who pick sixth, about moving up.

“I didn’t think I’d have as much activity at six from people behind me as we’ve gotten,” said Schoen. “So those are options too as we look at, if we go back, how far back do we want to go?”

While the Giants have been linked with quarterbacks during this process, Schoen made the case that the team is happy with their QB room as currently constructed. “I think with Drew [Lock’s] experience, he has started games and played, and Daniel’s experience,” said Schoen. “And what Tommy [DeVito] did last year, another year in the system, Tommy’s come a long way.”

We’ll know just how comfortable he is with that group in less than a week.

What are the Chargers thinking at No. 5?

Given the presence of the Giants at No. 6, teams that are eying a quarterback might try and get ahead of New York and into either No. 4 (currently held by the Arizona Cardinals) or No. 5, where Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers are sitting.

That has led some analysts to believe the Chargers are looking at potentially trading down. NFL Network draft analyst — and Chargers radio commentator — Daniel Jeremiah is among those who look at Los Angeles as a potential trade candidate. “I think trade out is the way to go,” Jeremiah said on a recent episode of the Bootleg Football podcast. “I would imagine [general manager] Joe Hortiz is praying that that phone rings.” ESPNs Adam Schefter echoed that idea recently, saying on “SportsCenter” this week that the “Chargers make as much sense as anybody” to trade down out of the top 10.

But what are the Chargers thinking about trading out of that spot?

Right now, the company line is that Los Angeles will stay at five and take the “best player available,” according to new General Manager Joe Horitz:

Now, what if the Chargers get a “more than fair trade?”

Then we might be talking.

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