The Cleveland Browns are "smitten" with UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, at least according to Peter King of SI.com. Bortles is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft and Cleveland happens to hold multiple first-round picks.
King suggests that the Minnesota Vikings are a perfect fit for Bortles and his skillset, but notes that the Browns have been "smitten with him since last fall." King also suggests that the Houston Texans are interested in the quarterback, which has been rumored since Bill O'Brien took over as head coach. O'Brien's Penn State team lost to Bortles' Central Florida team last season.
NFL Mock Draft
NFL Mock Draft
All three teams could easily be landing spots for Bortles. For the Texans, the No. 1 overall pick seems high for Bortles (though one could argue it's never too early to pick your franchise quarterback), but they could look to trade down. For the Vikings, Bortles may already be gone by their No. 9 pick, making a trade up the draft order possible.
Cleveland is in an interesting position. At the fourth overall pick, another quarterback possibly will have already been taken, and the team owns the No. 26 pick to use in a possible trade. To this point, there have been no substantial rumors to suggest that any team is looking to trade up for Bortles, but Cleveland being "smitten" with him for this long is definitely something worth noting.
A few other recent draft rumors:
Atlanta interested in Greg Robinson, not Jadeveon Clowney, at No. 1?
Thomas Dimitroff will move in any direction that suits the Atlanta Falcons best when the draft rolls around, but many of the recent rumors have focused on a potential trade from No. 6 to No. 1 overall on the draft board, potentially to land defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, perhaps the top player coming out this year.
Another rumor from Tuesday echoed that the Falcons are, indeed, interested in moving up to No. 1, but not to draft Clowney. The report, from Russell Lande, suggested that offensive tackle Greg Robinson is the target. The report went on to state that the Falcons "are not interested in taking J. Clowney with the top choice."
It's anybody's guess whether the Falcons are interested in moving up, and for whom. If they're after Clowney, it would make sense for the team to leak that they're not interested in hopes of throwing off other teams trying to sniff out their plans.
Buffalo Bills trying to trade up
The Buffalo Bills hold the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but that may not be high enough to land who they would like. In his latest mock draft, Todd McShay of ESPN said that the Bills are trying to trade up, citing various league sources. McShay speculated that the Bills could be interested in Clowney, Robinson or wide receiver Sammy Watkins, all of who are expected to go in the first five picks.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Radio supplemented McShay's report by suggesting that Watkins is a player that the Bills "seem to be enamored by," citing a league source. He suggests that the Bills would pull the trigger if Watkins slips past the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 3 or the Browns at No. 4.
AJ McCarron told he could go as high as No. 16
Until now, experts and analysts have suggested that AJ McCarron's best hope is to be drafted around the beginning of the second round, but according to McCarron, that is not what he has heard from NFL executives. McCarron has reportedly been told that he could go "anywhere from 16-35," according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com.
The idea of McCarron going in the first round seems optimistic, given that there's a good number of quarterbacks generally considered to be above him in the pecking order, including guys like Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo and so on, to even further down the line to players like Tom Savage and Zach Mettenberger, depending on who's talking.
Johnny Manziel still in consideration for top pick
Nobody is quite sure what the Texans will do with the first overall pick. Is Clowney too good to pass up? If he's not, the Texans have a huge need at the quarterback position and a long list of players good enough to warrant that first pick, specifically Johnny Manziel.
According to Houston Chronicle writer John McClain, Manziel is in the running with Clowney to be taken No. 1 overall by the Texans. While McClain doesn't rule out a trade if the price is right, he goes on to defend Manziel's prospects -- or rather, defend why the Texans might be interested in him. "Manziel is a gamble," McClain writes, but he notes that "he can have a terrific NFL career" if he stays healthy and plays in a system designed to take advantage of his skills.
Tom Savage visits Jets
The New York Jets drafted Geno Smith last year, and signed Michael Vick as a free agent this offseason. They apparently still don't believe their quarterback situation is fully settled, however. According to reports, the Jets recently met with Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage.
Savage "quietly visited [the] Jets" last week for an official pre-draft visit, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. In SB Nation's latest rankings, Savage is rated as the 10th-best quarterback in this year's class. The Jets first pick at No. 18 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Taylor Lewan considered No. 2 tackle by Kiper
Michigan's Taylor Lewan has seemingly been gaining ground in public perception over the last few weeks, according to reports. ESPN's Mel Kiper has long been a supporter of Lewan, and as noted by the Buffalo Bills' team website, Kiper has suggested that Lewan is the No. 2 offensive tackle available in this year's class behind Auburn's Greg Robinson. Kiper has even suggested that Lewan could go as high as No. 2 overall to St. Louis, saying that he is "right there with Robinson" and that one could "even make an argument that he's better than Robinson."
Jimmy Garoppolo ahead of Teddy Bridgewater?
Jimmy Garoppolo was something of an unknown while playing at Eastern Illinois. His tape and strong workouts this offseason have shuffled him up draft boards, however. Garoppolo is No. 7 on SB Nation's quarterback rankings, placing him behind only Bridgewater, Bortles, Manziel, Carr, Mettenberger and San Jose State's David Fales.
Apparently, there are NFL teams that believe Garoppolo is even better than where he has been placed on pre-draft rankings. NFL.com's Gil Brandt, a former VP of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, recently suggested that Garoppolo could be drafted ahead of Bridgewater in the first round.
Brandt goes on to say that such a move "might be a mistake." Brandt may be a believer in Bridgewater, or perhaps he dislikes Garoppolo. Or perhaps he believes, like many, that the anti-hype surrounding Bridgewater is simply part of the media's pre-draft process, and with an extra two weeks to wait, it was bound to happen.