NFL Draft

Private Workouts Can Be Difference in Where QB Goes in NFL Draft

Former NFL general manager Rick Spielman said teams can learn some things watching quarterbacks at the NFL Combine, but he also said scouts and coaches can get more information from pro days and/or private workouts.


2023 NFL Combine Concludes, But Buzz, Rumors Are Still Going Strong

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the great weeks on the league’s calendar as executives, coaches, scouts, agents and media come together for what has become an annual league-wide convention.

With another combine in the books, here’s a look at some of the buzz from Indianapolis:

Jones-Barkley Decision Going Down to Wire

New York Giants officials and quarterback Daniel Jones’ representation at Athletes First met several times face-to-face in Indianapolis.

Progress was made on a long-term deal, but more work is needed. As the saying goes: Deadlines spur action.

The Giants have been trying to explain to Jones if he’s tagged, their ability to upgrade the roster decreases. For example, All-Pro running back Saquon Barkley would become a free agent and might leave. That’s because the entire $32 million value of the tag would hit the cap immediately. An extension allows the Giants to spread out the contract numbers, making this season’s salary cap more manageable to facilitate better roster building.

Jones’ asking price — reportedly $45 million per season — has been blown out of proportion a bit on social media, but there’s more work to do to bridge the gap. Neither side wants this to end in a tag, but the clock is ticking.

Meanwhile, the Giants and Barkley have been far apart in negotiations since talks started during the team’s bye week in early November. The Jones situation means Barkley and his agents at Roc Nation have taken a back seat, knowing there’s a potential pathway to unrestricted free agency.

Teams have been hesitant to pay big money for running backs in recent years, but Barkley’s camp believes he’s in a special category because his character is A+, and he’s highly marketable.

Jalen Carter Situation Unfolded in Real Time

Georgia defensive tackle and potential No. 1 pick Jalen Carter (scouting report) was scheduled to speak to reporters on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EST when news broke an arrest warrant had been issued for him in Georgia.  The charges — for reckless driving and racing (both misdemeanors) — were in connection to a crash that killed a teammate and a staff member on Jan. 15.

After some scrambling behind the podium curtain, a league spokesperson announced Carter wouldn’t speak and was still in medical testing.

The announcement of the charges surfaced hours after a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claiming Carter was present the night of the accident and misled police with an inconsistent recounting of the events.

Carter returned to Georgia, was booked at 11:33 p.m. EST Wednesday, and released at 11:49 p.m. after posting a $4,000 bond. He returned to Indianapolis on Thursday to finish his interviews and measurements, and posted a statement on social media, saying he expects to be “fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”

Teams didn’t know the charges were coming.

>>READ: Carter Made Critical Mistake with Far-Reaching Effects

The incident was tragic, and there’s no reason to speculate as the legal situation unfolds.

From a draft standpoint, Carter’s only benefit is that it’s unfolding now and not days before the draft. Recent draft incidents such as the ones involving La’el Collins in 2015 and Laremy Tunsil in 2016 happened right before the draft, and many teams removed them from their draft boards.

Carter will have the chance to speak to teams, and they will have a chance to do all the necessary investigating to learn more about the situation and if it’s worth taking on. Was it just a horrible mistake made by a 21-year-old who will learn from what happened? Or is there past history that will lead teams to take him off their board? Teams have the next 50-plus days to figure it out.

Lamar Jackson-Ravens Situation Remains Mystery

Everyone in Indianapolis had an opinion on what would end up happening with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, The 33rd Team’s No. 1 free agent in its Top 150, but it didn’t seem like anyone truly knew.

At his press conference early in the week, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said he and Jackson agreed not to negotiate publicly two years ago, and they’ve stayed true to that. The first sign of where things stand may come on Tuesday when Baltimore will likely use the exclusive or non-exclusive tag on Jackson. DeCosta said they don’t know which way they will go, indicating there’s a back-and-forth going on in Baltimore’s building.

The Ravens can put the non-exclusive tag on Jackson at $32.4 million, but that would allow Jackson to seek offers and bring an offer sheet back to the Ravens. They would have the right to match or receive two first-round picks from the team signing Jackson. An exclusive tag projects to be roughly $45 million, and it would take Jackson off the market. The downside, however, is it could weaken Baltimore’s negotiating stance because they’d be working off a larger number. If the Ravens had to tag Jackson again in 2024, it would cost $54 million.

Rams Shopping Ramsey, Possibly Others

The  Los Angeles Rams remain open to trading All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who has a $25 million salary cap number. The hope is to have a deal in place before the new league year begins on March 15.

Los Angeles is also open to moving on from other veterans, including 2022 free-agent signing Allen Robinson, though that would be more difficult considering he has $15 million in guaranteed money next season. Robinson had just 33 catches and three touchdowns in 10 games.

Bears Open for Business on No. 1 Pick

There is no question that Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles will have more power and influence this offseason than any of his peers.

The Bears will have the most cap space with nearly $100 million and possess the No. 1 overall pick. While Chicago has not fully committed to Justin Fields as its starting quarterback for next season, many league executives said they would be surprised if the Bears decided to trade the former Ohio State quarterback.

The league-wide expectation is the Bears will trade the No. 1 overall pick, but the big question is how far down they will be willing to go.

Tua Tagovailoa’s Future Up in Air

May 1 is the deadline for the Miami Dolphins to exercise the fifth-year option on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s contract. The option would guarantee a nearly $23.2 million salary for the 2024 season.

“We’re probably best served to utilize the time,” Miami coach Mike McDaniel said at his combine news conference. “That’s kind of the way we’re approaching it, but that doesn’t mean that we’re spending any long period of time not discussing it. This is something that (general manager) Chris (Grier) and I have been working through.”

Tagovailoa missed time with injuries at Alabama and has missed 14 games during his first three seasons with Miami, including worrisome concussions this past season.

Some have wondered if the Dolphins will sniff around on the veteran market, and that probably shouldn’t be ruled out. Tagovailoa also recently made an agent switch and is now with Athletes First.

Cardinals Expected to Move On from Hopkins

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has no guaranteed money left on his contract, and it seems like he and the Arizona Cardinals would a fresh start. This was the expectation going into the combine, and it was all but confirmed by the event’s close.

Hopkins has five seasons of 96 or more receptions but has missed 15 games in the past two seasons due to injuries and a six-game PED suspension in 2022. He recently hired an agent after not retaining one for the past several years.

Bengals Shut Down Higgins Trade Speculation

Duke Tobin, the Cincinnati Bengals director of player personnel, gave an epic response when asked about the possibility of trading wide receiver Tee Higgins:

“I’m not in the business of making other teams better. I’m in the business of making the Cincinnati Bengals better. If they want a receiver, go find your own. In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals, so the trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”

Higgins is entering the fourth, and final, year of his rookie contract, and some speculated Cincinnati might consider moving him because of the looming extensions for franchise quarterback Joe Burrow (this year) and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (next year). The free-agent wide receiver market is weak this offseason, so there is potential to get a massive haul for Higgins.

However, as one person clarified, the Bengals have always played hardball. It wouldn’t be surprising if they let Higgins play out his rookie deal and then placed the franchise tag on him next year, similar to what they did with safety Jessie Bates. Higgins has the same agent as Bates, so if no extension gets done, this situation could mirror that one.

What Impact Will NFLPA Report Cards Have?

The first-ever “NFLPA report card,” a survey of roughly 1,300 players, was suddenly dropped to the public on Wednesday afternoon. Its results were interesting, creating a lot of discussion in Indianapolis.

Players were asked for opinions on their teams only and received a survey covering eight topics: Treatment of player families, food service/nutrition, weight room, strength coaches, training room, training staff, locker room and team travel. The three top-ranked teams were the Minnesota Vikings, Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. The bottom three were the Los Angeles Chargers, Cardinals and Washington Commanders.

Most agents I spoke to didn’t think it would make a major difference because the money will eventually talk to the player. Could it decide a tiebreaker? That’s definitely possible. It’s fair to wonder if some of these teams will make drastic changes because some of the responses in the report were wild to read. The players deserve better.

Buzz Building Around Several Free Agents

The 33rd Team will do a deep dive on free agency later this week, but here are some names who should do well on the open market after some conversations with agents and personnel executives:

Trade Market Could Get Wild

We’ve heard plenty of trade rumors about Hopkins, Texans receiver Brandin Cooks and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, there could be several more surprising names popping up in trades.

The combine facilitates face-to-face meetings between team decision-makers, and there was speculation by its conclusion we might see some “out-of-left-field” deals this offseason.


  • People aren’t sold on Sam Howell being the starting quarterback in Washington, or Kyle Trask taking over in Tampa Bay. Expect veteran competition added in both places, and several options are available in free agency this year.

  • Expect quarterbacks Mike White and Baker Mayfield to have solid markets for backup roles.

  • Kentucky’s Will Levis (scouting report) appears to be this draft class’s most polarizing quarterback prospect. If you talked with two people, you’d get the opposite one person would say one thing about him, and the other would say the complete opposite.

  • On Saturday, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (scouting report) officially measured in at 5-foot-10 1/8, 204 pounds. If he were 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he would be the consensus top pick. There will be a team that takes on the risk and potentially trades up to get him, but that team will be taking on a total outlier. Young got hurt last year on a basic tackle, which only raises the concern about how he’ll hold up in the NFL. No one denies his talent and playmaking ability.

  • Most people expect left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to get franchise tagged if no long-term deal is reached with the Kansas City Chiefs. A few people mentioned keeping a close eye on that situation. Keep in mind Kansas City could have two All-Pros — center Creed Humphrey and guard Joe Thuney — up for new deals next year on the offensive line.

2023 NFL Combine: Biggest Winners and Losers From RB, OL Workouts

2023 NFL Combine: Biggest Winners and Losers From RB, OL Workouts
Texas running back Bijan Robinson (scouting report) and Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones (scouting report) were the top two players at their positions heading into Sunday, and both solidified their standing with outstanding combine performances. Robinson checked all the athleticism boxes and was outstanding in position drills, while Jones measured and tested nearly identical to […]

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2023 NFL Draft: Ranking 11 Biggest Freak Athletes at This Year’s Combine

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Every year, the NFL Combine produces “freaky” athletic testing numbers. This year’s combine produced impressive performances in almost every workout. The offensive line record for the vertical jump was broken, one player ran in the 4.2s during the 40-yard dash and one large tight end dominated the short shuttle. There were also standouts at important […]

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NFL Draft

Peter Skoronski Nearly ‘Flawless’ During Combine Drills

The 2023 NFL Combine wrapped up on Sunday with impressive performances from offensive linemen. Joe Thomas recognizes some of the group’s best performances, including the one by Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski (scouting report), who delivered a nearly “flawless” workout.

NFL Draft

2023 NFL Combine: Strong Tight End Group Saw Four Boost Stock

Clay Harbor says the group of tight ends that performed at the NFL Combine on Saturday was the best he’d seen in years. He lists four tight ends who helped themselves the most in Indianapolis, including one who might have snuck into the first round and a few others who could bring major value in the mid to late rounds of the draft.

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