The NFL draft isn’t just about teams adding a new wave of prospects and potential franchise saviors to the roster; it’s also about using draft capital to acquire veteran talent via trade who can put clubs over the top in their hunt for a Super Bowl.
We’ve seen it as recently as last year when the Bears traded this year’s first-round pick for Khalil Mack and the Cowboys did the same for Amari Cooper. While those trades happened before and during the season, trades often occur in the run-up to the draft and on draft weekend, too.
One big name who could potentially be had via trade this year is Chiefs pass-rusher, Dee Ford. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Kansas City is dangling Ford for a second-round pick, a price tag that feels like a bargain for defenses in need of a double-digit sack artist.
Ford won’t come cheap, however. He’s been slapped with the franchise tag and is due $15.433 million in 2019 if a long-term extension can’t be reached. That said, if a team is going to trade for Ford, a long-term contract will likely be a variable in getting a deal done.
Ford had a monster season in 2018 when he registered 13 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and 55 tackles. Production like that, for what would amount as a team’s second-round pick, is too good to pass up.
Montez Sweat was the most impressive edge defender at the 2019 NFL Combine, sparking discussion about whether he’s boosted his stock into the top-10 picks in the NFL draft.
Sweat entered the Combine behind Nick Bosa (Ohio State) and Josh Allen (Kentucky) and was jockeying with Florida State’s Brian Burns for that next-best edge rusher distinction. Burns had a great day of his own, so that debate will continue to rage on.
But Sweat’s incredible performance deserves all the attention it’s receiving.
Now it’s time for you to decide whether he’ll be a successful pro. Take a look at his scouting cut-up against Iowa from the 2018 season. Does he flash elite upside?
Montez Sweat vs. Iowa (2018)
For as incredible as Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf’s 2019 NFL Combine workout was, Mississipi State edge defender Montez Sweat’s was even better.
Sweat ran a blistering 4.41 40-yard dash, good for a modern-day record, after weighing in at 6-6 and 260 pounds. Simply remarkable. He added a 36-inch vertical jump, 10.5-foot broad jump and a 7.0-second three-cone drill.
Sweat was already considered a first-round prospect before his record-setting Combine performance, and now there’s a real debate about whether he’ll end up a top-10 pick. ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Sweat going eighth overall in his last mock draft, a projection that most draft analysts critiqued, but now seems like a really good bet.
With players like Nick Bosa (Ohio State) and Josh Allen (Kentucky) long pegged as the first two edge defenders likely off the board, Sweat’s dominant performance Sunday will force scouts to go back to the tape to make sure they didn’t miss a critical clue about his NFL upside. Players as big as he is simply don’t move the way he did at the NFL Combine; His athletic traits can’t be ignored.
And let’s not forget that Sweat had 12.5 sacks in 2018. He isn’t just a Combine guy.
Other EDGE winners at the 2019 NFL Combine
Sweat wasn’t the only edge defender who did well Sunday. Brian Burns (Florida State) turned in a great Combine performance that included his all-important weigh-in.
Burns weighed in at 6-5 and 249 pounds, a weight that really helps his draft stock. He looks a lot lighter than that on tape, so the fact he’s hovering around 250 pounds is great. Burns’ athletic testing was equally great for him; he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and had a 7.01 three-cone time. He’s as explosive as his tape suggested he is and he’ll be a top-15 pick in April because of it.
Iowa’s Anthony Nelson (6-7, 271 pounds) had an incredible three-cone time (6.95 seconds) for his size and projects as an ideal 4-3 defensive end. His 9.5 sacks in 2018 are a result of his incredible length (nearly 35-inch arms) and the above-average quickness and change of direction skills he put on display in Indianapolis.
Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf dazzled onlookers at the 2019 NFL combine Saturday after running an incredible 4.33 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3, 228 pounds.
Here are his complete combine numbers:
40-yard dash: 4.33
225 bench: 27 reps
Vertical jump: 40.5 inches
Broad jump: 134 inches
3-cone drill: 7.38
20-yard shuttle: 4.5
Metcalf’s huge day wasn’t a complete shock. He was supposed to run fast and jump high, but no one was expecting him to be THAT fast or to jump THAT high. Now that he did, there might be no limit on his draft-day ceiling.
— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2019
What we do know is that he isn’t going to be the first overall pick. The battle for that distinction appears to be centering around two players: Nick Bosa and Kyler Murray. But after that? It’s game on for Metcalf.
N0. 2: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers need help at wide receiver and they need help that comes in the shape of Metcalf. San Francisco’s receiving corps is littered with undersized speedsters; there’s no big-bodied game-changer like Metcalf on the roster. For a team with so much invested in QB Jimmy Garoppolo, a pick like Metcalf would make sense.
No. 3: New York Jets
If I were a betting man, I’d pick the Jets as the most likely destination for Metcalf. After using last year’s first-round pick on QB Sam Darnold, it would make a ton of sense for New York to invest in a big-time weapon for their most important player. Metcalf is physically comparable to Atlanta’s Julio Jones; why wouldn’t the Jets want to give Darnold a pass-catcher with that kind of upside?
No. 4: Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden is calling the shots in Oakland and while it would make a lot more sense for the Raiders to invest this pick on an elite pass-rushing prospect, they do have two more first round picks in a draft that is overflowing with defensive talent. Metcalf, on the other hand, is the only offensive skill player who looks capable of taking over a game and the Raiders, who quite possibly have the worst collection of receivers in the entire NFL, could use a player with Metcalf’s upside to jumpstart the offense.
No. 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Would there be a more intimidating wide receiver duo than Mike Evans and Metcalf? Wow. The Buccaneers have bigger needs along the offensive line and could decide linebacker Devin White (LSU) is a better value-meeting-need option with the fifth pick, but the Evans-Metcalf combination would be must-watch stuff.
On-field testing at the 2019 NFL combine got underway Friday with offensive linemen and running backs kicking off the underwear Olympics.
Drills like the 40-yard dash will steal the headlines, but it’s not the only result that matters. Others tests like the vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and position drills weigh heavily in a prospect’s performance.
Here are some winners from Day 1 of the 2019 Combine.
Garrett Bradbury, iOL, North Carolina State
Bradbury measured in at 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds. He ran a fantastic 4.92 40-yard dash and dazzled during on-field drills. Bradbury was considered a first-round pick before the NFL combine; he confirmed that grade Friday.
Erik McCoy, iOL, Texas A&M
McCoy (6-foot-4, 303 pounds) one-upped Bradbury with his 4.89 40-yard dash and pumped out an impressive 29 reps of 225 pounds. He’s one of the more athletic interior linemen in this class and he did nothing to change that opinion during the on-field drills. He’ll be a riser as the next two months unfold.
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Dillard checked the boxes physically at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms. His 4.96 40-yard dash was fantastic and he proved during on-field work that he’s not just a linear athlete. He has the ideal athletic makeup to be a high-end pass protector on Sundays. Dillard’s draft stock is trending in the right direction.
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
Sanders threw his name into the mix to be the first running back drafted after Alabama’s Josh Jacobs with his fantastic Combine performance. Sanders measured in at 5-foot-10 and 211 pounds, plenty big enough to be a feature back in the NFL. He ran an explosive 4.49 40-yard dash and jumped an impressive 36-inch vertical. Sanders checked all the athletic boxes and if he wasn’t blocked by Saquon Barkley at Penn State, we could be talking about a potential first-round pick.
Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
Hill is small — 5-foot-10, 198 pounds — but he tore up the drills in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, jumped a 40-inch vertical and 130-inch broad. Simply remarkable. He’s got the juice, but teams will probably still view him as a change of pace player on the next level. Still, he has field-flipping ability that after Friday’s performance could push him into the early portion of Day 2.
Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State
Barnes is a big dude (6-foot, 226 pounds) and he put together an impressive workout on Friday. He ran a faster-than-expected 4.59 40-yard dash and registered an incredible 38 1/2-inch vertical jump. His 126-inch broad jump was fantastic too. Barnes was graded as a big back with upside before the combine, but these numbers will make teams go back to the tape and take another look. He helped himself, big time.
Height matters in professional football, especially at quarterback, where the old scouting philosophy suggests to be a franchise signal-caller, a prospect has to be at least 6-feet tall.
Then came Russell Wilson in 2012, all 5-foot-10 of him, and the narrative surrounding quarterback height slowly but surely changed. Last year, for example, the Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick despite his height concerns in the run-up to the draft.
Mayfield ended up taller than expected (6-foot-1) and the rest was history.
The 2019 NFL draft feels eerily similar to last year. This time, it’s Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray whose ability to lead an NFL team is being questioned because of his physical stature.
Those questions were silenced Thursday at the 2019 NFL combine weigh-ins.
Murray measured-in at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds; a height and weight that puts him at almost the identical measurables registered by Wilson in 2012. Wilson’s had an incredible career in the NFL in large part because of his dual skill set as a passer and runner; Murray may be entering the NFL with an even more talented combination of traits.
Get ready, draft fans. Murray is going to be the first player chosen in April. And if there was any doubt that it will happen, it was erased Thursday.
Fire up the Kyler Murray-to-the-Giants speculation.
Pat Shurmur dropped a few breadcrumbs at the NFL combine Wednesday when he dismissed Murray’s less-than-ideal physical makeup as a negative in his projection.
“Quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes,” Shurmur said. “I don’t know what’s too small. Russell Wilson is 5-foot-10.”
There’s a chance Murray could actually measure-in shorter than 5-10, which will absolutely cause teams to take a step back. But the recent success of short quarterbacks like Wilson and Baker Mayfield (not to mention Drew Brees) will serve as reference points for why Murray can succeed.
And remember: Murray is a hell of an athlete. What he lacks in height he makes up for in ridiculous running ability.
“I value a quarterback that can move around,” said Shurmur.
If we take Shurmur at his word, then there’s no reason not to peg Murray to the Giants.
Imagine that offense? Murray, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham? Wow. Just, wow.
Alabama RB Josh Jacobs may have gobbled up all the momentum to be the first running back selected in April’s NFL draft, it would be foolish to forget about Iowa State’s David Montgomery and the potential he offers NFL clubs as a three-down feature back.
What say you? Take a look at this new scouting cut-up of Montgomery vs. Baylor from the 2018 season.