NFL Draft Buzz: Monday, April 16

We're now less than two weeks before the NFL Draft and, more and more rumors are flying all over the place. As usual, Scout.com's Ed Thompson is running up his cell phone minutes talking to as many prospects as possible. In today's installment of Draft Buzz, Thompson says the Bears are showing interest in one very versatile safety and had a peculiar dinner with one of the top tight ends.

Friday evening, Arizona State tight end Zach Miller told me that he has his first two pre-draft visits this week, beginning today in New Orleans. One of the top tight ends in this draft, Miller will also be making a stop in Miami this week to meet with the Dolphins.

During his interview that will be published this week at Scout.com, Miller says that he had 18 formal interviews at the Combine and mentioned how great it was to meet a number of head coaches such as Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden and Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt. At his Pro Day, the Bengals' tight ends coach and Rams' offensive coordinator ran his position drills.

But it was his dinner the night before his Pro Day that was really interesting. He said one scout each from the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, who know each other well, took him out to dinner together to get to know him better ...

During an inteview with Boston College offensive tackle James Marten that will be published this week at Scout.com, he told me that he had an interview scheduled with Jacksonville on Sunday the 15th for his first NFL visit. If the 6'8", 309-pound lineman would land with the Jaguars, he'd be pitted against his hometown's team twice a year – the Colts. But at least he'd get the chance to play every year in the stadium where he sat and watched games with his dad while he was growing up. Marten's currently projected as a third- to fourth-round pick in this draft class.

The highly competitive offensive tackle had a personal workout with the Rams at the end of March and got a lot of attention from the Chiefs, Browns and Patriots at his Pro Day. He said all three teams put him through some extra drills or some board work. At the Combine, Marten had formal interviews with the Bears, 49ers, Colts and Cardinals. Cleveland's offensive line coach, Mike Sullivan, was quoted in one report as saying that both Marten and teammate Josh Beekman are "well-schooled in technique, they're tough kids." ...

Miami LB Jon Beason (CanesTime.com)
While making his way through the Detroit airport on Saturday following back-to-back visits with the Chargers and Lions, Miami linebacker Jon Beason told me that in addition to the seven teams he's visiting, the 49ers and Saints made late requests to be added to his visit schedule. But Beason was simply out of days to accommodate their requests. In addition to the Chargers and Lions last week, Beason visited with the Patriots and Bengals. On Sunday, he was in Indianapolis meeting with the Colts, and this week he has the Giants and Steelers on tap. Check back Monday night at Scout.com for some exclusive audio about Beason's visits with the Chargers and Lions as he shares what happened and who he met while visiting with both clubs ...

Another player interview you'll enjoy this week is the one with Louisiana-Monroe's Kevin Payne. The safety who is arguably one of the most well-rounded athletes available is projected to come off the board on the second day of the NFL Draft. He's played on both sides of the ball during his collegiate career, starting out as a running back before moving to safety. And get this: in addition to returning kickoffs and being a run-stuffing safety, he was also the Warhawks' punter in 2006.

Payne is scheduled to meet with the Chiefs this week and has already had a personal workout with the Bears. He said the Giants and Saints both showed strong interest in him at his Pro Day, and at the Combine he had formal interviews with the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Giants ...

USC's Ryan Powdrell said during his recent interview that he's been drawing serious interest from the Dolphins, Patriots and Vikings. And the 6', 248-pound fullback who was a linebacker until his senior year has had a pair of visits already. He took a trip to meet with the Buccaneers during the week of April 2nd and was in Oakland on the 8th and 9th. Powdrell, who is likely to be picked up as a priority free agent, is flying under the radar a bit after breaking his fibula and dislocating his ankle last September, but he could be a reliable contributor on special teams for an NFL club ...

In the April 7th NFL Draft Buzz, I mentioned that Central Florida's Mike Walker had worked out for the Chiefs, Texans and Jets and even had a personal film session with the Director of Pro Personnel of the Jets. The wide receiver's visits schedule included the Chargers, Colts, Rams and Titans, but I just learned that New Orleans has now jumped in as well and will be bringing him in for a visit this week. At the NFL Combine, Walker had formal interviews with Atlanta, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Houston, Kansas City and San Diego.

The other interesting news about Walker is that according to one of my NFL sources, none of the teams that he's visited with has requested another physical to check out his knee. Evidently Walker's Combine physical exam paired up with his lightning-fast 40-time at the Combine and a strong senior year performance have convinced teams that his ACL tear suffered during his junior year isn't going to be a problem.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.



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