Baker Mayfield

Extra Points: Redskins, Cousins, Raiders

Redskins coach Jay Gruden wants to see Kirk Cousins get a long-term contract and not just another one-year patchwork solution.

I think something has to be done,” Gruden told Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post. “I personally don’t want to go through another one-year deal, and just [keep going] one year, one year. I think you want to have a quarterback in here that’s going to be here. And hopefully that is Kirk, and if not, we have to move on and do what we have to do as an organization. For the most part, the great quarterbacks are in the same system year in and year out, and are developing in that system. [Teams are] not holding our breath every March and April, waiting for the guy. But if that’s the case, that’s the case. But we like Kirk and his development. He’s played well at times, without a doubt, proven that he’s a good starting NFL quarterback.”

Cousins did not quite match his 2016 numbers this past season and that could help the two sides reach a midway point in extension talks. Failing that, the Redskins can franchise tag him again for a whopping $34.5MM or use the $28.8MM transition tag, giving them the option to match any offer (though they would not receive any compensation if they do not match).

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • It remains to be seen whether the Raiders will face punishment for skirting the Rooney Rule, but the league has spoken on at least one aspect of Jon Gruden‘s hiring. When asked whether the NFL permits a team to reach an agreement in principle with a new coach before firing its current coach, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told Mike Florio of PFT, “There is no league rule or policy on this.” During Gruden’s introductory presser, owner Mark Davis said that he had a handshake deal with Gruden before firing Jack Del Rio. The Fritz Pollard Alliance seems fairly convinced that this was a violation of the Rooney Rule since the team interviewed minority candidates after reaching a deal with Gruden. However, the league may conclude that the Raiders complied with the rule since they did technically interview Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson before putting pen to paper with Chucky.
  • Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield may go without an on-field agent, as Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily writes. It would be a daring play for Mayfield, who is facing many questions about his ability to adapt to the NFL.
  • The Bears have tapped Chris Tabor to be their new special-teams coordinator, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. This marks Tabor’s second stint with Chicago, with his first coming in 2008-2010. For the last seven seasons, he’s been in Cleveland, where he’s lasted through two different owners, five GMs, and four head coaches.

NFL Draft Notes: Mayfield, Lamar, Barkley

While there’s still plenty of time for evaluation before the 2018 draft gets underway in April, it would be a “surprise” if Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t selected in the first round, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Mayfield, this year’s Heisman winner, completed 71% of his passes this season for 4,340 yards, 41 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Per Breer, there are character questions about Mayfield, and his height (6’1″) could also present concerns. But Todd McShay of ESPN.com placed Mayfield in the first round of his first 2018 mock draft, and new Browns general manager John Dorsey — who will certainly be in the quarterback market next year — recently sang Mayfield’s praises.

Here’s more on next year’s NFL draft, all courtesy of Breer:

  • Mayfield may be a locked-in first round, but last year’s Heisman — Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson — isn’t likely to be selected on Day 1, reports Breer. Some evaluators have openly wondered if Jackson will play wide receiver in the NFL, but he simply may need time to develop at the next level. Indeed, Breer says there are still questions about Jackson’s “instincts and anticipation,” as well as those who believe Jackson is “more thrower than passer.” Jackson has topped 3,400 yards passing and 1,400 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons.
  • While the 2018 running back class may not compare to that of 2017 (which included Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and many others), Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is still viewed as an elite prospect, per Breer. While Barkley faded down the stretch, one AFC executive tells Breer “to the people that matter, nothing’s changed” in regards to Barkley’s draft stock. Barkley posted at least 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons as a Nittany Lion, and scored 34 touchdowns over the past two years.
  • Running backs might not be plentiful in 2018, but next year’s class is loaded with offensive line talent. Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, plus Texas’ Connor Williams, are all potential top-15 picks, per Breer. That’s quite a contrast to 2017, when only two offensive lineman were selected in the first round (with Garett Bolles being the first off the board at No. 20).
  • Although Courtland Sutton (SMU) perhaps isn’t as well-known as Alabama’s Calvin Ridley or Oklahoma State’s James Washington, he has a chance to become the first wide receiver selected, according to Breer. Sutton, who is expected to stand 6’4″, 230 pounds at the combine, could even be a top-10 pick. From 2016-17, Sutton averaged 68 receptions, 1,132 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
  • Analysts believe Mayfield, North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb, and Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst all helped their draft stock by staying in school for an extra season, says Breer. What does one evaluator like about Chubb, who has posted 10 sacks in consecutive seasons? “Everything.”

Extra Points: Browns, Mayfield, Pats, Cards

New Browns general manager John Dorsey still has more than five months to formulate plans for the 2018 draft, but he’s watched six games of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and come away impressed, according to Peter King of TheMMQB.com“I want to be able to project and articulate my opinion when the time comes and it matters,” Dorsey said. “I saw [Mayfield] at Kansas this year, in the OU-Kansas game. You’re darn right he’s a good quarterback, no matter how tall he is. Some would say he’s too short, but I would ask you: How tall is Russell Wilson? How tall is Chase Daniel?” Cleveland appears to be lock to boast two top-10 selections in next year’s draft, meaning the club will have a chance at finding a franchise signal-caller.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is not expected to return to the Patriots‘ active roster this year, tweets Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, which could have led to New England signing free agent pass-catcher Kenny Britt, opines Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Mitchell, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has been on injured reserve for the duration of this season while dealing with a knee injury. Britt, meanwhile, stands 6’3″, 223 pounds, meaning he’ll give the Patriots a larger presence on the outside. As Reiss notes, New England made a similar late-season addition a year ago, claiming physical wideout Michael Floyd off waivers for the stretch run.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians admitted he has “no idea” if Adrian Peterson will recover from his neck injury in time to play again this season, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Peterson, 32, has been up and down since being dealt to Arizona, as he’s topped 75 yards in half his six games as a Cardinal but failed to top two yards per carry in the other three contests. With a 6-7 record in a stacked NFC playoff picture, Arizona doesn’t have much to play for down the stretch, so it could conceivably shut Peterson down. He’s under contract for 2018 at a cost of $3.5MM, a figure that could be untenable given the return of David Johnson in 2018.
  • Rival teams are showing interest in Raiders practice squad defensive lineman Fadol Brown, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). On Wednesday, the Raiders opted to promote Darius Latham to provide depth up front, meaning other clubs still have a chance to pounce on the Ole Miss product. Brown, an undrafted rookie, has spent the entirety of the 2017 campaign on Oakland’s practice squad. In a predraft profile, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said Brown “sets a strong edge” in the run game but is a poor pass rusher due to “lazy” hands.
  • Former general manager Scot McCloughan‘s grievance against the Redskins could cause problems for the club’s scouting staff (every member of which could be asked to testify), a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Washington’s personnel members favor McCloughan, they could potentially face retribution from current ream president Bruce Allen, but if the scouts speak in favor of the Redskins, they fear other teams — who possibly enjoy a relationship with McCloughan — may not hire them in the future, per Florio. The hearing for McCloughan’s grievance is set to begin next Monday, December 18.

Draft Notes: Mayfield, Rosen, Cards, Nelson

The expected recipient of this season’s Heisman Trophy, Baker Mayfield figures to generate plenty of opinions during the pre-draft process. Some of the immediate responses from NFL evaluators have been positive following the Oklahoma senior’s dominant regular season. Albert Breer of SI.com surmises from the several-dozen scouts he’s spoken to throughout the season that Mayfield should wind up as a first-round pick, his baggage notwithstanding.

He’s extremely talented,” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “Guys want to play for him, players believe in him, the staff believes in him. I’ve heard the comparisons to (Drew) Brees, (Johnny) Manziel, (Russell) Wilson, and there’s a little bit of all of them in his game. And he’s not Manziel in terms of the off-field stuff — he studies his ass off; he goes through his progressions; he’s not a typical spread QB. He has first-round ability.”

Mayfield’s height, around 6-foot, could be an issue for some teams. And his Big 12 background may as well. But Breer expects a first-round investment to occur.

Here’s more on Mayfield and other key prospects.

  • Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com polled five NFL execs regarding Mayfield’s best destination and didn’t get one definitive answer. While some quarterback-needy teams came up, two decision-makers mentioned the Saints and Chargers as Mayfield fits. Both suggest multiyear apprenticeships behind Brees and Philip Rivers. However, a source told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report Rivers’ resurgence has “basically shut down” the prospect of the Bolts making a quarterback-of-the-future pick in the upcoming first round. Rivers turned 36 on Friday.
  • Josh Rosen is the likeliest of the likely first-round quarterbacks to start from Day 1, a group of seven executives polled by Yahoo Sports concluded. The UCLA passer’s throwing motion is “as elite as it gets for a prospect,” Charles Robinson of Yahoo writes. That septet of execs rated Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Mayfield as the Nos. 2-4 prospects and likely first-rounders. Darnold’s elongated throwing motion and tendency to bail on plays, in the mind of some evaluators, could cost him the No. 1 spot. Allen received the “project” label in this piece, but the Wyoming product’s size/speed/arm strength combination could be enticing — especially come workout time.
  • On Allen, Miller notes the Cardinals are connected to the current junior signal-caller. Miller writes the Cardinals abandoned their first-round quarterback crusade after Patrick Mahomes went to the Chiefs at No. 10, with the team declaring it was going to delay its Carson Palmer succession strategy a year. Allen may be the next guy the Cards are eyeing, viewing his athleticism and potential — and presumably the likelihood he won’t be a top-two pick like the Pac-12 passers — as Mahomes-esque. That might not mean much at the moment, with Mahomes having yet to play, but Miller expects Allen to be a top-10 pick. That’s more than could have been said for Mahomes at this point in last year’s process. The Jets remain the team that’s done the most work on Allen, however.
  • In a post connecting teams with prospects, Miller notes the Bears are “all about” Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. However, the draft analyst notes the Bears are expected to land a top-10 pick. Ridley, in his mind, does not qualify for such an investment.
  • Notre Dame’s offensive line figures to produce two first-round talents in tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson. While McGlinchy’s name has hovered on draft radars longer, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com notes Nelson is viewed as the better prospect among scouts. One scout declared Nelson was the best prospect he’d seen this season “by far.” Miller notes the Broncos have Nelson rated as the top offensive lineman on their early board.
  • Cowboys coaching and scouting sources told Miller the team doesn’t expect to be holding mid-first-round picks much in the near future, and he writes the team will pursue a higher-end pass rusher “while it can.” That’s bold thinking for a team that is 6-6 and has missed the playoffs in five seasons this decade, but the Cowboys did earn home-field advantage last season. And the need for an impact end remains.

Albert Breer On Schwartz, Mayfield, Watson

After a solid start, the Eagles defense has slipped over the past few weeks. They have allowed an average of 28 points in the last three games and that’s not a great reflection on defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Still, he remains a hot coaching candidate, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes.

Schwartz’ head coaching candidacy could be swayed by how things go over the next month. Next up for the Eagles is a intra-divisional showdown with the Redskins and that’s an offense that can put up some points against Philadelphia. Things get a little bit easier after that with games against the Ravens (17th in the NFL in total yards) and Giants (26th), but they close the regular season out against Dallas (4th).

Here’s a look at some more highlights from Breer’s column:

  • The Rams recently gave extensions to coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead, but the two men aren’t getting along very well in L.A., Breer hears.
  • Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has had a bizarre journey through the collegiate ranks that has led him to being named a Heisman finalist for the 2016 season. Can he continue to succeed at the next level despite having a skill set that isn’t necessarily geared towards the NFL? “He’s got another year (of eligibility) and all signs point to him returning, but he should probably think about that,” said one area scout assigned to the Sooners. “In a weak quarterback class, he could sneak up there where you wind up saying, ‘Oh wow, I can’t believe he went there!’ Normal year, he’s a late-round guy. But he throws a nice deep ball, he’s mobile and can extend plays, he’s shifty and tough and competitive as hell. He’s impressed me. You wanna say he’s a poor man’s (Johnny) Manziel because of how he makes plays, but Johnny was a lot more talented. But Baker has developed as a passer, he’s developed his fundamentals and mechanics, and he’s an interesting one to look at.” Mayfield’s best comp might be Chase Daniel, a career backup who was valued enough to score a lucrative free agent deal from Philly this offseason. He may never be a starter, but he could be worth a later-round pick given that some backups earn $5MM/year or more. The Sooner QB had 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns through the air plus six rushing scores during the regular season.
  • Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has garnered draft buzz, but his stock has fallen to the point where he is just the No. 3 QB in this year’s draft behind North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer (assuming all three go pro). Watson has completed a high percentage of his passes over the last couple of months, but scouts are growing increasingly concerned about his playing style. “He’s a heck of college player, and he’s a great kid,” said one NFC exec. “He’s thrown for a ton of yards. But for the pro game, it’s tricky with quarterback. He’s not great reading defenses, and you see him force the ball at times. And if the first read isn’t there, you see his first instinct’s to run. And you can see it, in how his eyes come down. That’ll be a problem in the league. In the pocket, you have to slide and move and buy time. All the great ones have pocket presence. And we just haven’t seen it from him.”