2017 NFL Draft

NFC Notes: Rams, Eagles, Cards, Saints

Connor Barwin‘s decision to sign with the Rams last week came thanks in part to the presence of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the edge rusher told the Associated Press. “Wade did a lot for me in the two years I was with Houston,” said Barwin, who played under Phillips as a Texan from 2011-12. “He taught me so much about being a pro, enjoying being around the game every single day, and he really elevated my game as a pass rusher.” Barwin only hit free agency in the first place because the Eagles released him, which came after he rejected a pay cut. While the 30-year-old said in December he’d be open to reducing his $7.5MM salary for 2017 to remain with the Eagles, their offer was “far below” what he thought he’d get on the market, per the AP. Ultimately, the Rams gave Barwin a one-year deal worth a max of $6.5MM.

More from the NFC:

  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim likes North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, according to the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley, who writes that the executive is facing a dilemma entering the draft. The Cardinals need a long-term answer under center, meaning choosing Trubisky or another signal-caller with the 13th overall pick is a possibility. However, using a first-rounder on a player who won’t help in 2017 isn’t going to benefit a team whose window could be closing as starting QB Carson Palmer, top wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and head coach Bruce Arians near the end of the line. At the same time, though, Keim doesn’t want to be left without a potential successor to the soon-to-be 38-year-old Palmer if he retires after next season. That might end up being the case if Keim doesn’t grab a quarterback in the early rounds.
  • The Eagles have picked up two established receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason, but Paul Domowitch of Philly.com could still envision the team selecting a wideout in Round 1 of the draft. Jeffery and Smith might not be Eagles beyond next season, for one, while Jordan Matthews is on track to hit free agency next March. So, while Philadelphia’s receiving corps looks like a strength right now, it lacks long-term certainty.
  • The Saints converted left tackle Terron Armstead‘s $5MM roster bonus to a signing bonus, thereby creating $4MM in cap room for 2017, reports Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link). The move doesn’t come without a penalty, though, as the Saints will add $1MM in cap charges in each season from from 2018-21 – the final four years of Armstead’s contract.
  • Defensive tackle Jordan Hill‘s contract with the Lions is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $775K, tweets Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. The pact comes with $45K in guarantees, a $40K signing bonus, and another $40K if he makes the Lions’ 53-man roster.

Draft Rumors: Mahomes, Kizer, Thomas

Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who could go anywhere from the top of the first round to the second round in this year’s draft, is drawing interest from three teams with aging franchise signal-callers. A Chargers contingent consisting of head coach Anthony Lynn, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen put Mahomes through a private workout in Lubbock, Texas, last week, reports Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. The Bolts have a starting passer in Philip Rivers, but he’ll be 36 in December, so they’ll at least consider taking a QB early. The club is set to pick seventh and 38th in the first two rounds.

New Orleans, meanwhile, has a 38-year-old under center in Drew Brees, meaning there’s more urgency for the club to find its next passer than there is for the Chargers. With that in mind, Saints head coach Sean Payton, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and members of the team’s front office traveled to Lubbock to work out Mahomes on Tuesday, according to NFL.com. “They said every time they see me under center, I look better and better,” Mahomes said of the Saints, who currently own three of the draft’s first 45 selections (Nos. 11, 32 and 42).

The Cardinals, who are led by 37-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer, attended a Mahomes workout on Thursday, relays Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Owner Michael Bidwill and head coach Bruce Arians were on hand for the Cards, who hold the 13th and 45th selections in the opening two rounds.

More of the latest on the upcoming draft:

  • Even though the Bears handed quarterback Mike Glennon a significant contract in free agency, they aren’t necessarily content under center. Evidence: The club is likely to conduct a private workout with Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer next week, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com ranks Kizer as the 33rd-best player in this year’s class, which could make him a possibility for the Bears in Round 2 (No. 36).
  • The Panthers had a meeting with Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas on Thursday, per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Thomas figures to come off the board quickly and might be gone by the time Carolina’s on the clock at No. 8.
  • The Bills have scheduled a private April workout with Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman, the player told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Earlier this year, one scout informed Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that Peterman has a chance to pull a Dak Prescott and go from a mid-round pick to a viable starter as a rookie.
  • A Saints representative had dinner with Utah free safety Marcus Williams on Wednesday, writes Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. Williams is a ballhawk “who will make plays in the passing game, but he needs to improve in run support,” observes Jeremiah, who ranks him as this year’s 47th-best draft-eligible player.

UCLA CB Fabian Moreau Undergoes Surgery

UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau, a possible first-round pick, had successful surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter links). His recovery timetable will be four-to-six months, but one source tells Garafolo that there is some hope he can be ready in time for training camp. Fabian Moreau (vertical)

Word of the surgery, of course, will hurt Moreau’s stock. However, if he can really recover within that timetable, he might not fall far. A team willing to be patient might be willing to take the UCLA product somewhere in the second round. Moreau is widely considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in this year’s class, though the overall depth at the position could lead teams in another direction near the top of the draft.

The most recent rankings from NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah (before word of the surgery broke) had Moreau as the No. 42 prospect overall and the eighth-best cornerback. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay did not have him going in the first round of their latest mock drafts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Peterman, Melifonwu, Bolles

Quarterback Nathan Peterman will conduct a private workout for the Eagles next week, and will also meet with the Steelers in April, tweets Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Earlier this year, one scout told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report Peterman has a chance to be the 2017 version of Dak Prescott, a mid-round talent who emerges into a viable starter. Peterman, who transferred from Tennessee to Pitt before the 2015 season, has averaged 2,571 yards and 23 touchdowns over the past two years.

Here’s more on the 2017 draft:

  • UConn safety Obi Melifonwu has meetings lined up with the Steelers, Seahawks, and Saints, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Meanwhile, Melifonwu met “extensively” with the Lions yesterday, and will also visit with the Panthers, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, who reports roughly 40% of NFL clubs view Melifonwu as a cornerback. Melifonwu, a four-year starter for the Huskies, posted four interceptions during the 2016 campaign.
  • The Giants will meet with Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles in April, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com (Twitter link). New York isn’t sold on keeping 2015 first-round pick Ereck Flowers at left tackle, and Bolles could give the club another option along its front five. Bolles is expected to be selected on Day 1 of the draft, and has a chance to be the first offensive lineman off the board.
  • Prior to possibly injuring his pectoral while bench pressing on Tuesday, UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau spent time with the Lions, Dolphins, Saints, and Bengals, reports Pauline. Additionally, Moreau met with Cowboys defensive backs Joe Baker, per Pauline. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com projected Moreau as a back-end first round pick (and the third-best cornerback on the board) before news of his injury broke.
  • Moreau’s UCLA teammate, edge rusher Takkarist McKinley, will visit with the Browns in early April, per Courtney Fallon of NFL.com (Twitter link). After that, McKinley plans to meet with the Ravens, Steelers, Cowboys, and Lions, per Fallon. McKinley put up 10 sacks in 11 games for the Bruins in 2016.

NFC South Notes: Njoku, Bucs, Saints, Te’o

The Buccaneers met with Miami tight end David Njoku earlier this week, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Njoku, who registered 43 receptions and eight touchdowns last season, is expected to be one of two first-round picks at tight end, joining Alabama’s O.J. Howard. The Giants, who sit at pick No. 23 (four spots behind Tampa Bay) are also said to be “very high” on Njoku.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Prior to re-signing with the Saints, defensive back Sterling Moore came close to joining another — as yet unidentified — club, as he detailed to SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). A career journeyman prior to 2016, Moore started 12 games for New Orleans last season. As Moore explains, the Saints circled back to him with an offer after he’d been negotiating with another team, allowing him the return he’d always preferred. Moore, 27, earned $760K last year.
  • Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara is expected to meet with the Saints on Wednesday, tweets Sean Fazende of WVUE FOX 8. Kamara, who recently fired his agent, could sneak into Round 1 despite being viewed as a Day 2 prospect for most of last year. A committee back with the Volunteers, Kamara managed less than 1,300 yards rushing during two years in Tennessee, but also averaged more than six yards per carry during that time.
  • The second year of Buccaneers center Joe Hawley‘s two-year deal is an option year, Caplan tweets. As previously reported, the full two-year pact is worth $5.5MM with $1MM fully guaranteed. If Tampa Bay opts to pick up his 2018 option, Hawley will receive a $250K option bonus, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • Manti Te’o‘s two-year deal with the Saints is worth $5MM with $600K guaranteed, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Te’o can earn $500K annually in per-game roster bonuses, according to Rapoport, and can rake in another $1MM per year in incentives, tweets Wilson.

Davis Webb A Potential First-Round Pick?

California quarterback Davis Webb is a candidate to be selected in the first round of next month’s draft, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who cites a “growing sense” Webb may be chosen on Day 1.Davis Webb (Vertical)

The Jets, Chiefs, and Chargers have all set up interviews with Webb, per Cole, while the Ravens and Buccaneers have also expressed interest in the 6’5″ signal-caller. A club could trade back into the first round with an eye towards drafting Webb, reports Cole, and such a move would enable a team to hold a fifth-year option on Webb. That option — for the 2021 campaign — would allow a club to retain Webb for a fifth season at a cheap rate.

While Webb has generally been considered a Day 2 pick to this point, the overall demand for quarterbacks could conceivably force him into the back end of Round 1. At present, Todd McShay of ESPN.com ranks Webb as the draft’s No. 7 QB, behind Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes, Nathan Peterman, and Joshua Dobbs.

Webb, 22, transferred to Cal from Texas Tech after losing out on the Red Raiders’ starting job to Mahomes. In his only season with the Bears, Webb completed 61.6% of his passes for 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Jones, Mixon, Trubisky, 49ers

Washington cornerback Sidney Jones underwent surgery today to repair his torn Achilles, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones, who suffered the devastating injury at his Pro Day earlier this month, is expected to resume running in four months. Projected to be selected in the first round before the Achilles tear, Jones himself tweeted today that he’ll be able to play during the 2017 season, though that could certainly be optimistic.

Here’s more on the 2017 draft:

  • Jones isn’t the only cornerback prospect to be hit by injury, as UCLA defensive back Fabian Moreau is believed to have suffered a pectoral injury while performing a bench press today, tweets Courtney Fallon of NFL.com, who cautions that the “full extent” of the injury is unclear at present. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com projected Moreau as a back-end first round pick (and the third-best cornerback on the board) before news of his injury broke.
  • UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky will work out for the Browns, Jets, 49ers, and Chiefs, among others, per Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Trubisky, considered one of the top-three signal-callers in this year’s class, is a surefire first-round pick and may be selected within the top five. Cleveland, for one, was said to be “strongly considering” Trubisky with the first overall pick, although that talk has died down recently.
  • Controversial running back Joe Mixon met with the Raiders on Monday, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because Mixon is from the Bay Area, his visit with Oakland won’t count against the Raiders’ allotment of 30 predraft meetings. Although video has surfaced of Mixon physically assaulting a female, he’s still expected to be drafted next month and a number of clubs have preceded the Raiders in meeting with the Oklahoma back.

NFC Notes: Giants, 49ers, Eagles, Vikings

The Giants would like to re-sign free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, but they’re unlikely to offer him anything more than a one-year, $4MM deal because of their lack of cap room, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. That probably won’t suffice for Hankins, who’s reportedly seeking upward of $10MM per year. Free agency hasn’t unfolded to Hankins’ liking, and one reason is that some around the NFL don’t see him as “an impact player,” sources told Vacchiano. Hankins went without a sack during a nine-game 2015 campaign and only notched three last year, Vacchiano notes. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus wasn’t impressed with Hankins’ performance in 2016, as it graded the 24-year-old just 72nd out of 127 qualified interior D-linemen.

More from the NFC:

  • The 49ers have used one of their 30 pre-draft visits on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who met with the team Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Despite a less-than-ideal showing at the scouting combine, Foster figures to be among the first players chosen in this year’s draft, meaning he might end up with the 49ers at No. 2 overall. Of course, considering general manager John Lynch is willing to trade the pick, it’s possible San Francisco could move down a few selections and and still nab Foster.
  • The Eagles seem to be targeting offensive playmakers as they get ready to pick 14th pick in the draft. Along with the previously reported Dalvin Cook, the Eagles hosted LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams on Friday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links).
  • Tight end Jared Cook‘s decision to accept the Raiders’ two-year, $12.2MM offer (including $5MM guaranteed) Thursday came after he turned down a significantly higher amount of guarantees from the Vikings, per Caplan (Twitter link). This is speculation, but both the Raiders’ quarterback (Derek Carr) versus the Vikings’ (Sam Bradford) and the fact that Cook clearly wouldn’t have been the best tight end on Minnesota’s roster may have tipped the scales in Oakland’s favor. The Vikings have a star tight end, Kyle Rudolph, who caught 83 passes last year. At the same time, Raiders tight ends Clive Walford and Lee Smith combined for 44 receptions.
  • Although former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan wanted to sign Kirk Cousins to an extension during 2015 training camp, the club waited on a new Cousins deal due to concerns over how fellow quarterback Robert Griffin III would react, writes Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. McCloughan was given the go-ahead to negotiate with Cousins in December 2015, but by then Cousins already had a season of solid production under his belt. Since that time, Washington has placed two consecutive franchise tags on Cousins at a cost of nearly $45MM.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Raiders, Eagles, Broncos

“Things could be on track” for a vote on the Raiders’ potential relocation to take place during the upcoming owners meetings from March 26-29, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy informed Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. Indeed, the Raiders are “on course” to apply for Las Vegas relocation at the meetings, a source told Gutierrez. If a vote is held, Mark Davis will need 23 of the league’s other 31 owners to sign off on his Vegas plan. Before that happens, though, owners want to know where the Raiders would play in 2019, according to Gutierrez. They’re going to remain in Oakland the next two seasons, and the potential Las Vegas stadium wouldn’t open until 2019, leaving a one-year gap.

More from around the league:

  • Florida State running back and first-round prospect Dalvin Cook is in Philadelphia meeting with the Eagles, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Eagles finished an unimpressive 18th in the league in yards per carry last season and don’t have a high-end No. 1 rusher, so it’s possible they’ll give Cook serious consideration if he’s on the board at No. 14.
  • One of Cook’s fellow draft-bound running backs, Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon, visited the Broncos on Thursday, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Mixon met privately with both Broncos CEO Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway, adds Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter links).
  • Terence Newman told reporters that his agent spoke with the Raiders on the same day he spoke to the Vikings, but Oakland did not make an offer (Twitter link via Mark Craig of the Star Tribune). Regardless, the Vikings were Newman’s top choice. This week, the cornerback agreed to return to Minnesota for his age-39 season.
  • Although the Bengals’ Andre Smith has served as an offensive tackle during his entire eight-year career, he’ll shift to right guard in his ninth season, writes Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. “We think he has chance to be a really good player for us there,” said Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander. Smith, who spent his first seven seasons in Cincinnati and 2016 in Minnesota, returned to the Bengals on Tuesday on a one-year deal. He’ll replace former line mate and standout right guard Kevin Zeitler, who signed a massive contract with the AFC North rival Browns at the outset of free agency.
  • While the Vikings have shown interest in free agent cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, they aren’t among the teams that have booked visits with him, tweets Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
  • Offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus has officially announced his retirement (Twitter link). After initial word that Cherilius would retire, one report said that he was simply not seeking a contract at this time, indicating that the situation was fluid. However, Cherilus is indeed walking away from the game.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Eagles, Saints, Foster, Lewis

The 2017 NFL draft gets underway six weeks from tomorrow, so let’s take a quick look at the latest new and notes emerging from the draft realm:

  • Both the Saints and the Eagles have decided to use one of their predraft visits on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, according to Herbie Teope of NOLA.com and Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Each NFL club will is allowed 30 predraft visits to use at their discretion. Foster, the best off-ball linebacker in the 2017 draft and a projected top-15 pick, was sent home from the combine earlier this month following an incident with a hospital worker. That dustup shouldn’t Foster’s draft stock, and Todd McShay of ESPN.com sent Foster to Cincinnati with the ninth pick in his most recent mock draft.
  • Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been charged with misdemeanor assault following an altercation with his girlfriend, as John Counts of MLive.com writes. Lewis was never formally arrested, tweets Dan Murphy of ESPN.com, but was indeed charged later on Wednesday. Ranked just outside Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com‘s top-50 prospects, Lewis may have his draft stock affected by this charge.
  • Instead of seeking a sixth year of collegiate eligibility, Southern Methodist quarterback Matt Davis will enter the draft, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Davis was injured for most of the 2016 campaign, but passed for nearly 2,300 yards, 16 touchdowns, and seven interceptions the year prior. Though he’ll work out at SMU’s Pro Day, it’s unclear if Davis has any chance of being drafted.