NFL

NFL AM: Expect Plenty of Activity at the Top of the NFL Draft

on

Come and Get It

No one is going to trade up for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, not given all the red flags surrounding top prospect Jameis Winston. But each of the next three selections — the Titans at No. 2, the Jaguars at No. 3 and the Raiders at No. 4 — has a chance to change hands. Here is the latest buzz regarding is of those picks.

The Titans keep leaking tidbits regarding how high they are on QB Zach Mettenberger, with the latest being a report by David Climer of the Tennessean on Saturday that stated the Titans see the second-year quarterback as a poor man’s Tom Brady. Given that Mettenberger completed less than 60 percent of his passes last season and finished with more turnovers than touchdowns, perhaps a broke Brady is more like it. This is a clear effort by Tennessee officials to solicit offers for the No. 2 pick, as teams will not enter the bidding if they are convinced the Titans will stay put and draft Marcus Mariota.

The Jets (No. 6) and the Browns (Nos. 12 and 19) have expressed interest in moving up for Mariota. If either of those swaps happen, the Titans will give Mettenberger another chance to show his wares. If Tennessee adopts more of a win-now strategy — as former CEO Tommy Smith preferred before announcing his retirement early this offseason — the team could use to No. 2 pick as trade bait in an attempt to acquire Philip Rivers from San Diego or Jay Cutler from Chicago.

“Sitting at six is a very good spot to be in,” said Jets GM Mike Maccagnan last week on a conference call with season ticket holders. “It does allow us the potential to move up in the draft because we’re not far from the first pick.”

The Jaguars have been open about their willingness to shop the No. 3 pick, as well. After hanging onto top-three selections each of the last two drafts and picking LT Luke Joeckel and QB Blake Bortles, respectively, GM Dave Caldwell indicated he may be more willing to mix things up this time around.

“I feel more open to it this year because we don’t need to have a guy come in and start,” Caldwell said. “We had no margin for error the last two years. We had to draft them and start them.”

The Jaguars’ ability to move may depend on the teams that sandwich them in the draft order. If Mariota is still available at No. 3, the Jaguars could move all the way down to No. 20 in a blockbuster trade with the Eagles. If Jacksonville prefers a smaller swap, it could move done one spot in a trade with the Raiders. Such a deal would allow the Raiders to block another team — such as the Falcons, Giants or 49ers — from moving ahead of them to steal the best defensive player in the draft: Leonard Williams.

Williams is a proud USC product, as is new Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.

If the Jaguars stay put and select Dante Fowler Jr. at No. 3, those teams pursuing Williams will come Oakland’s way when the Raiders go on the clock with the No. 4 pick.

Is Russell Wilson the next Bo Jackson? 

The Seahawks have become the kings of poor timing.

It started in the Super Bowl, when offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell picked the worst possible time to get away from his team’s ground-and-pound approach. And it continued this week with Wilson’s comments to Bryant Gumbel in an interview that will air on the HBO series Real Sports.

“You never want to kill the dream of playing two sports,” Wilson said, via The Seattle Times. “I would honestly play two sports.”

It is hard to fault Wilson for his interest. He was a dominant baseball player in college who has since been selected by three MLB teams in three different drafts (the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, the Colorado Rockies in 2010 and the Texas Rangers in 2013). He has even made cameo appearances for the Rangers in each of the last two offseasons, including earlier this month when he went yard and gave Rangers fans reason to dream.

The problem here, as alluded to above, is timing. Wilson is preparing to enter the final year of his rookie contract. He is set for a massive extension — likely seven years and well over $100 million — and that process could be complicated by all this baseball chatter. While baseball is nothing more than a fun offseason outlet for Wilson at this point, the Seahawks may now feel compelled to put some language in his new contract in case he ever decides to take his second sport more seriously.

Seattle GM John Schneider will not want to see his $25-million-a-year quarterback getting hit by pitches and crashing into outfield walls. So perhaps Wilson should cool it on all this baseball talk — at least until the ink is dried on his new Seahawks contract.

Ready for Female Coaches? 

With Equal Pay Day arriving tomorrow, now is a good time to pay attention to some comments Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made over the weekend about the next evolution of women’s roles in the NFL.

“Someone asked me yesterday, ‘When are we going to have female coaches?'” said Arians, according to ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss. “The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired.”

Gender barriers are already being broken across the league, with the latest falling earlier this offseason when Sarah Thomas was hired as the first full-time female official in league history.

There is some precedent for female coaches in male sports leagues. The San Antonio Spurs hired female assistant coach Becky Hammon prior to this season and are once again rolling into the playoffs as the hottest team in the Association. The difference, of course, is that Hammond was a professional basketball player prior to moving into coaching. There are no female professional football players, despite what Richie Incognito may tell you.

The idea of a female coach playing a meaningful role on an NFL staff seems farfetched at this point. Then again, most women with even a casual knowledge of the sport could call a better game than Kyle Shanahan, so maybe there is some opportunity there after all.

And one final note on Equal Pay Day: It is not fair that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 70 cents. After all … that only leaves the man with 30.

Want to talk more about these and other headlines? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.