This has been a strange year for NFL Draft leaks, gossip and information, and there's a feeling around the NFL that much of what is out there is very, very wrong. Everyone lies this time of year anyway, of course. But many believe people -- yes, including the media -- are buying the lies more than ever before.
Why? In part, because the NFL's coronavirus quarantine has put a virtual stop on the usual gossip train. Scouts, GMs and other evaluators aren't gathering in person at Pro Days, where much of the gossip takes place. They don't get to watch other scouts and executives to see what they do, who they talk to, or how they react to someone's 40 time. And they don't get to look friends in the eyes to decide for themselves if they're lying.
So they're guessing more than ever. And when they talk to the media -- and they still do -- reporters and analysts end up guessing more than usual, too.
Still, there's probably some truth in most of the rumors -- I think. So based on months of reporting on the draft, here are 13 early predictions and kind-of-educated guesses about some things that will happen in the NFL Draft this week:
1. Start with the obvious: The top two picks will be exactly what everyone expects. The Bengals taking LSU QB Joe Burrow and the Redskins taking Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young. There won't even be serious talks about a trade.
2. The Detroit Lions will trade out of 3, which will make it nearly impossible for the Giants to trade out of 4. Quarterbacks make teams do funny things, and someone will want to jump up over the Dolphins (5) and Chargers (6), or maybe the Dolphins or Chargers will make a pre-emptive move up. But 3 is the real sweet spot. The Giants are in a bind because no team is going to want to set a deal until they see what the Lions do before them.
3. If the Lions stay put at 3 they will take Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah. Depending on how far they trade down, they might get him anyway.
4. The Giants and probably the Jets, are going to take offensive tackles in the first round. Sorry, Isaiah Simmons and Jerry Jeudy fans. As to which OTs, you're going to have to wait a day or two for my prediction on that.
5. Because of all that, Simmons is going to fall farther than you think. He seems to be in everyone's Top 5 and some think he's one of the two best players in the draft. But the quarterbacks could squeeze him out, there could be a run on offensive tackles, and some people think Auburn DT Derrick Brown is the best defensive player in the draft (non-Chase Young division) so there's at least a chance he could be taken ahead of Simmons. Do the math, and Simmons could be pushed to the fringes of the Top 10. And if it's not him, Okudah could be the free-faller. That all depends on what the Lions do.
6. The Giants are going to double up on Hog Mollies -- one on Day 1, and another on Day 2. Maybe even in the first two rounds. Keep an eye on the Day 2 centers like Michigan's Cesar Ruiz, LSU's Lloyd Cushenberry, Temple's Matt Hennessy, and Wisconsin's Tyler Biadasz. They may have to try to trade back into the bottom of the first round to get Ruiz, but the others should be available at 36.
7. I said the Jets "probably" will take a tackle, and it may depend on two things: 1. How worried they (and other teams) are about Mekhi Becton's reported failed drug test, and 2. Whether or not they trade down. I think they're going to be open to trading down, which could lead them to WR Henry Ruggs III or WR CeeDee Lamb. Regardless, if they don't take a receiver in Round 1, put this in the books: They'll take one in Round 2.
8. Oregon's Justin Hebert will be the second quarterback off the board.
9. Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa is another player who could surprisingly slide, especially if it's true -- as rumors suggest, and as NFL Draft guru Gil Brandt indicated -- that the Dolphins are not locked in to taking a quarterback at 5 (and by the way, if the Dolphins take a tackle, the Jets might have none of the Big Four waiting for them at 11). If Tagovailoa starts to slide to, say, 7 or 8, someone might trade up for him. But because coronavirus prevented in-person workouts and left teams lacking in medical info on prospects, many teams seem to think he's a big gamble because of his hip.
10. There will be seven offensive tackles taken in Round 1, possibly more. It will truly be, as the late George Young used to call it, "The Dance of the Elephants." That's another reason why the Giants and Jets will probably go OT in Round 1. As good as this class may be, the crop will be thinned by Round 2.
11. The Jets will find a way to add Day 2 picks. Right now they are picking 48th, 68th and 79th. Everyone who knows Jets GM Joe Douglas expects him to be an active trader. They also think he's going to hate the wait from 11 to 48. Douglas knows he needs a lot of non-project players so if there's a way for him to add another second- or third-rounder -- even if it means trading down in the first round -- expect him to do it.
12. The Cowboys will call the Jets about trading for Jamal Adams. That will mysteriously leak to the press (OK, that leak will not really be mysterious). The Jets' price will still be far too high for the Cowboys and Adams won't be traded. What happens after Adams hears about it, though, is anyone's guess.
13. Not all trades will be about a quarterback. The Bucs (at 14), Broncos (15) and Falcons (16) have all made some noise about trading up, possibly into the Top 10. The Broncos seem to want a receiver. The Bucs want to get in on the "Big Four" offensive tackles. The Falcons could go in a number of directions, but cornerback or a pass-rusher (edge or interior) seems most likely.