We're still three weeks out from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, but the rumors are flying. As they become available, I'll do my best to make sense of it all. Here's the first edition of NFL draft rumor roundup!
The Buffalo Bills hosted a reported six players on pre-draft visits this week. USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson all spent time at One Bills Drive during the week.
Among the six names, two will likely be off the board before the Bills pick in the first round. Kalil and Richardson will both be likely top five picks. As for the rest, I think it's unlikely for two of the remaining four to become a member of the Buffalo Bills. The team seems to be circling around an offensive tackle at 10, and Kirkpatrick will be long gone before the second round pick. Chandler Jones, while going to nearby Syracuse, may not play a position with a high draft priority thanks to free agency. If the Bills don't take a tackle in the first round and Adams is available in the second, logically he could be the pick. Wilson is an intriguing option for the middle rounds as well.
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus is "flying up draft boards" according to Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle. Zierlein writes Mercilus will be taken inside the first twenty picks and he's hearing rumors about teams potentially wanting to trade up for the former Fighting Illini.
Mercilus makes sense for a few teams between picks 11 and 20. The Cardinals at 13, the Jets at 16, the Chargers at 18, the Bears at 19 and the Titans at 20 all are in need of a pass rusher. If a team past the Titans wanted to get in to the Mercilus derby, that would make Seattle at 12 wide open for business. That just so happens to play in to the next rumor.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports separate sources told him the Seahawks are hoping to move out of the 12th overall pick to move down and pick up Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
Hightower, the second-best inside linebacker prospect in this draft, likely will find himself in the first round with the way things are going. Seattle will need to trade down in to a spot that settles in before the Steelers at 24. Pittsburgh was rumored to be interested in Hightower as well. The Mercilus craze may just end up helping Seattle get their man and get extra picks in the process.
Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Cowboys have a lot of interest in Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe. According to Hill, a team source says the Cowboys "like him a lot but don't want to draw attention to him." Poe is thought to be the best nose tackle available in the 2012 NFL Draft after his eye popping 40-time at the NFL Combine.
If the Cowboys really want Poe they might have to move up to get him. Carolina (9th) could use a defensive tackle and Kansas City (11th) is in dire need of a nose tackle. This smells a bit like a smokescreen just from my perspective. Poe's stock took a bit of a hit recently once people stopped being enamored with his 40-time, so this could be a way for the Cowboys to get their man. Alabama safety Mark Barron is a player that has been linked to the Cowboys previously.
A nugget of information coming out of Green Bay thanks to WNY-native and Packers beat writer Ty Dunne. According to his report for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Boise State pass rusher Shea McClellin might just be a target of the 2011 Super Bowl Champions. Dunne writes that a league source says the Packers have shown "significant interest" dating back to the Senior Bowl.
If you've heard me on the air since December I've been a huge proponent for Shea McClellin. He is a jack-of-all-trades type that Boise State used a lot like USC used Clay Matthews when he was in school. It's kind of obvious why the Packers might be interested in bringing in another player in that mold. It would be a great fit if it happened. The only thing is the Packers may have to trade ahead of New England to get him.