Action is already starting to heat up despite the official start of the NFL draft still hours away on the Strip.
The 49ers and Jets are believed to be working toward a blockbuster deal that could involve star wide receiver Deebo Samuel and alter the look of the top 10, though nothing appears imminent. There are several obstacles standing in the way, including compensation and a new deal for Samuel.
As expected, the Giants appear to also be shopping the second of their two first-round picks, the seventh-overall selection.
Those are just two of many storylines for Thursday’s opening round.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes there are two key spots to pay attention to once the selections start to be made.
“Carolina is a pick to watch at No. 6,” he said of how unpredictable the night could become. “If they take a quarterback, then everything changes. Although Houston is a mystery too. Nobody knows what they are going to do.”
Rumors have been circulating that the Texans are one of few teams trying to move up in the draft. They pick third and are believed to be looking at turning the No. 13 pick into another top 10 selection.
A couple intriguing players to monitor are Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, both once seen as sure top-10 picks who could see their stock fall on draft night.
Rumors of some yellow flags on Neal’s medical report started to surface early in the week.
“I’ve heard some of the medical stuff, but nothing that would disqualify him or push him down the board,” Jeremiah said. “I think he’s going to go where he was always going to go.”
The questions about Hamilton stem from his time on a stopwatch. Though he looks to be plenty fast on tape and GPS tracking shows he moves around the field at a fast pace, his 40 time wasn’t great.
Jeremiah said he may be the most polarizing player among scouts.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if he was still in the mix for the third pick and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it all the way to the Eagles or Saints there in the middle of the first round,” Jeremiah said.
“I don’t get too carried away with the 40. The tape is really good. I think a lot of people are reading into the times, but the majority of teams have switched over (to GPS). It’s just way more valuable to be able to use the in-game speed numbers.”
Then there are the Georgia linebackers. Nakobe Dean was the heart and soul of a tremendous defense and looked at one point to be a sure first-rounder. Quay Walker, however, has all the recent buzz.
“I think they are both really good football players,” Jeremiah said. “To me, Nakobe is everything you want in a middle linebacker from an intangibles standpoint with leadership, intelligence and toughness. Then he’s just a playmaker.
“I know he’s getting dinged because he’s a little undersized and wasn’t able to work out through the process. But the first time I watched him, I wrote down the name Jonathan Vilma, who was a good player in the league for a long time. I’m excited to see where he goes. He might fall out of the first round and then win rookie of the year.”
The first round begins at 5 p.m.