What we learned from Monday's draft buzz


As the smoke rises leading up to Thursday's start of the 2014 NFL Draft, it's no surprise that Johnny Manziel is right in the thick of rampant rumors.

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NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Rams held a clandestine meeting with Manziel at the NFL Scouting Combine, excluding all members of the organization save general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher.

Earlier Monday, TheMMQB.com's Peter King reported that Snead traveled to Texas Tech and "met at length" with Kliff Kingsbury, Manziel's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M in 2012.

Concurrent with reports of the Rams' interest in "Johnny Football," rumors began surfacing that the Rams have discussed a potential Sam Bradford trade with other teams.

Once it became evident that the Bradford trade innuendo was more smoke than fire, the Browns took center stage.

ESPN circulated Chris Mortensen's expectation -- peculiarly mislabeled as a report -- that Manziel will not get past the Browns at No. 4 overall.

Rapoport followed up with a report on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access Draft Preview" that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has made no secret of his football "love affair" with Manziel, which might just run counter to the opinion of Cleveland's scouts.

For what it's worth, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah -- a former NFL scout who maintains connections in front offices around the league -- has the Browns drafting Manziel in his latest mock draft, released Monday.

Here's the rest of Monday's draft buzz:

1. Rapoport reported Sunday night that Khalil Mack is a realistic alternative to Jadeveon Clowney for the Texans at No. 1 overall. On Monday, NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock listed Mack over Clowney as the No. 1 player on his Top 100 prospects list. NFL Media's Gil Brandt moved Mack over Clowney on his own board as well. It's not a given that Clowney will end up in Houston.

2. If the Browns end up passing on Manziel after all, Rapoport says don't be surprised if they end up grabbing Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater with the second of their two first-round picks at No. 26 overall. Browns scouts "really like his game, like the way he throws the ball," per Rapoport.

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3. King reported early Monday that the Eagles are gauging the possibility of trading up to the middle of the first round, perhaps with LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham as the apple of their eye. They aren't the only team interested in Beckham. According to Rapoport, the Jets and 49ers are also considering a trade-up, with Beckham and Brandin Cooks as potential targets.

4. The Iggles' fondness for Beckham is easier to believe than the reported buzz in league circles that they are interested in Manziel.

5. A plugged-in Rapoport also reported Monday that the Chiefs haven't ruled out selecting a first-round quarterback. Contract talks with Alex Smith have not progressed as hoped, leaving Kansas City with a question mark at the position. We suspect the Chiefs will ultimately select a mid- or late-round quarterback, realizing an early rookie pick will go to waste as soon as a deal is reached with Smith.

6. Jeremiah is hearing that the Vikings are high on Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, which jibes with King's Monday report that Minnesota has placed a high priority on a "front-seven disruptor" with the No. 8 overall pick. Donald is one of Around The League's favorite prospects in the draft.

7. Speaking of our can't-miss, red-star prospects, Rapoport has heard so much recent love for Ohio State's Ryan Shazier that he's now convinced the freakishly athletic linebacker is a surefire first-round draft pick. Jeremiah believes Shazier could challenge for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors if he lands with the right team.

8. Cross Ndamukong Suh off your team's wish list. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made it clear Monday that the All-Pro defensive tackle is not on the trade market.

9. On the other hand, Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace might very well be available for the right price. As the front office does its due diligence on first- and second-round wideout prospects, The Miami Herald reports several players suspect the Dolphins want to replace Wallace within a year or two. The coaches "aren't big fans" of the overpaid deep threat, per The Herald.

10. After polling 21 scouts with national responsibilities, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reached the conclusion that Mizzou pass rusher Michael Sam -- soon to be the first openly gay player in NFL history -- is regarded as a late-round draft pick, at best.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" breaks down draft news and rumors and plays the popular prediction game, "Go Get My Lunch!"