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2018 NFL Draft: Josh Rosen could slide; Colts looking to trade

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks NFL.com
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Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes for the 2018 NFL Draft, including Brooks' look at how the Cowboys can replace Dez Bryant in the draft.

But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Jeremiah revealing 10 pieces of draft intel based on his recent discussions with league sources.

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With 10 days to go until the 2018 NFL Draft, I spoke to several sources around the league this weekend as I gathered intel for my next mock draft (dropping on Tuesday). Now, I'm always a little skeptical of the buzz this time of year with so much draft misinformation being circulated, but when I'm hearing the same things from at least a few different teams, I give it a little more validity. Here are 10 things I'm hearing from multiple clubs.

1) Josh Rosen is the QB most likely to slide: Everyone I've talked to around the league believes there will be three quarterbacks selected within the first five picks of the draft. That means someone out of the "big four" QBs -- USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and UCLA's Rosen -- could slide a little bit. When I bring up this topic with personnel executives, Rosen is the one they point to as the most likely slider of the group. I personally believe Rosen is the second-best quarterback in the draft class behind Darnold, but the former Bruins QB might fall out of the top 10. Why? Part of it comes back to the durability concerns for Rosen that we've heard about throughout the process. We'll continue to hear people question his intangibles as a leader, but that's far less of a concern than the fact that he missed half his sophomore year with a shoulder injury and suffered two concussions last season.

2) Courtland Sutton could be first WR drafted: Teams are enamored with Sutton's combination of size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) and ball skills. He was impressive at SMU's pro day last month, and teams have enjoyed visiting with him throughout the evaluation process. It wouldn't shock me if he ended up being the first wide receiver off the board.

3) Colts are looking to trade down again: The Colts' roster is in bad shape and many around the league expect them to trade down from the No. 6 spot to gain more draft picks. As you'll recall, Indianapolis traded down from the No. 3 spot in a deal with the Jets last month. I would keep an eye on teams like the Bills and Cardinals as potential trade partners should their quarterback of choice make it to Indy's pick at No. 6.

4) Quenton Nelson's range is between picks 6-8: I have the Notre Dame guard rated as the No. 3 player in this class, but he's probably not going to be a top-five pick. Most evaluators expect the first five picks of the draft to consist of three quarterbacks, Bradley Chubb and Saquon Barkley. The teams picking next -- Colts (No. 6), Bucs (No. 7) and Bears (No. 8) -- would be ideal fits for Nelson.

5) Teams are in love with Georgia's Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds: These two linebackers are universally praised by the executives I've spoken to in the last week. I've been asked this question multiple times: "Do you think either of those linebackers will be there when we pick?" To those teams picking outside the top 10, my answer is brief: "No."

6) Cowboys in the market for a safety and WR: With the release of Dez Bryant, many expect the Cowboys to look for a wide receiver with their first-round selection (No. 19 overall). It's certainly possible that they'll go in that direction with their top pick. However, I'd keep an eye on the safety position as well. I highly doubt Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick will be there at No. 19, and the same goes for Florida State's Derwin James. However, keep an eye on Josh Jackson. The talented cornerback from Iowa is being slotted as a safety on some draft boards and he would fit beautifully in the backend of the Dallas defense.

7) Chiefs are a candidate to trade up for a CB: The Chiefs don't own a first-round pick in this year's draft (they dealt that pick away in the Patrick Mahomes trade last year), but I won't be surprised if they move up from where they're picking in the second round (No. 54 overall). They have a glaring need at cornerback and the top cover men will be long gone by the time they are on the clock if they stay put at No. 54. They need to get into the range of picks 35-40 in order to secure a Day One starter at that position, and many around the league expect them to make that happen.

8) Bills could go heavy on OL: The Bills have an obvious need for a long-term answer at the quarterback position, but they also have several holes to fill along the offensive line. They've lost three key starters in the offseason: Eric Wood (injury), Cordy Glenn (traded to Bengals) and Richie Incognito (placed on reserve/retired list). If they don't trade up for a quarterback, expect them to heavily address the offensive line in the first three rounds.

9) Chargers looking for QB in Round 2: The Chargers have been doing their homework on this quarterback class and there is a lot of chatter about them potentially looking for Philip Rivers' eventual replacement. While many have pointed to the possibility of taking Louisville's Lamar Jackson in the first round, I'd keep an eye on guys like Washington State's Luke Falk, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph and Richmond's Kyle Lauletta in the second round.

10) LSU's Donte Jackson is the best nickel cornerback in the draft: Jackson isn't often mentioned with the top cornerback prospects in this draft class, but teams around the league are very high on his skill set. He's extremely explosive and has experience in the slot. In fact, several teams believe he's the best nickel corner in the draft. In today's NFL, the nickel cornerback is considered a starter. With that in mind, Jackson could come off the board much earlier than expected. He could be selected as early as the final 10-12 picks of the first round. -- Daniel Jeremiah

HOW COWBOYS CAN REPLACE DEZ BRYANT

In most years, the NFL draft will feature a couple of pass catchers ranked within the Tier 1 category (Pro Bowl potential; first-round picks). However, the 2018 WR class is light on star power but loaded with solid-starter types that fall into the second or third tier. Now, that doesn't mean some of the players selected in Rounds 2-3 this year won't step up and deliver big-time production, I just don't see elite prospects that rival Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham, Jr., as prospects. In fact, I don't know if there is a Michael Thomas-like receiver in the class who's undervalued as a prospect but has a game that's built for the WR1 role in a creative or sophisticated offense.

That said, there are some options available to the Dallas Cowboys that could replace Dez Bryant's production as the team's No. 1 playmaker in the passing game. Although they might lack No. 88's athleticism, ball skills, and competitiveness during his prime, they could surpass the three-time Pro Bowl selectee as polished route runners. Most importantly, the 2018 class could provide the Cowboys with better fits on the perimeter when it comes to the system and the chemistry with Dak Prescott.

Remember, the Cowboys are revamping their passing game scheme to better suit the talents of Prescott after running an offense that was previously designed for Tony Romo the past two seasons. The shift to a more "Dak-friendly" offense will change the job description of the pass-catchers on the field, which will make it imperative to categorize the receivers correctly based on their skills. The Cowboys need to head into the draft with a grocery list to make sure they grab the right ingredients for a championship-caliber passing game. Looking at the talent in the 2018 class, here's how I would separate the pass catchers based on their skill level.

Route runners

Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Deontay Burnett, USC
Jordan Lasley, UCLA

Big receivers/red-zone threats

Courtland Sutton, SMU
Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame
Auden Tate, Florida State
Allen Lazard, Iowa State
Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State

Chain movers

D.J. Moore, Maryland
Michael Gallup, Colorado State
Dante Pettis, Washington
Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
Tre'Quan Smith, UCF

Big-play threats

James Washington, Oklahoma State
Deon Cain, Clemson
D.J. Chark, LSU
Antonio Callaway, Florida
Anthony Miller, Memphis

Despite Bryant's declining game, it will be tough for the Cowboys to replace his production with only one rookie. It's hard for a first-year player to step into the lead role as a WR1, as evidenced by the struggles of first-round receivers of late (over the past three drafts, only one of the 13 first-round receivers has earned Pro Bowl honors and nine have never caught 40 passes in a season). Thus, the Cowboys might have to draft two or three receivers to replace Bryant's production as a No. 1 option in the passing game. Whether it's using a first-round pick and a middle- or late-round selection on receivers or finding a couple of underrated middle-round options, the Cowboys must identify the right guys to place on the perimeter to elevate the play of their young quarterback. -- Bucky Brooks

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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