Bradley Chubb

AFC Rumors: Chubb, Conklin, Jags, Jets

Recently hired to coach some of his former teammates, DeMarcus Ware will likely be tasked with the early development of Bradley Chubb. Ware said during an interview with the Talk of Fame podcast the Broncos‘ first-round pick can have the type of career he had. But the future Hall of Famer identified Chubb’s larger frame as a different element that will thrive alongside Von Miller.

Chubb is probably 6-4, 270,” Ware said during the interview. “He’s the guy who can come in and be that power guy and really help Von out. The attributes that he really brings to the game — stopping the run and being able to be that strong-side guy for Von — that’s what you need. (The Broncos) have that tag-team again.”

The N.C. State-honed edge defender is noticeably bigger than fellow Miller sidekicks Shaquil Barrett or Shane Ray, and weighs more than Ware did during his Denver years. Whether that’s an impediment to speed rushes remains to be seen, but Chubb will factor into the Broncos’ pass rush immediately — especially considering Ray has encountered more wrist trouble. Since the Broncos primarily align Miller opposite of opponents’ right tackles, Chubb will have plenty of speed-rush opportunities on the blind side where Ware once played.

Here’s the latest from the AFC:

  • Mike Vrabel expects all Titans to be ready for training camp, with the exception of Jack Conklin. The third-year right tackle tore an ACL in the team’s playoff loss to the Patriots and has not participated in offseason work. Vrabel mentioned the PUP list as a possibility to start camp, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com notes. Wyatt adds that it’s too early to tell if Conklin will be ready for Tennessee’s regular-season opener.
  • The Jaguars look set at quarterback, despite fairly consistent scrutiny. Cody Kessler is positioned to back up Blake Bortles, John Reid of the Florida Times-Union writes, adding the only way he can foresee the defending AFC South champions signing a veteran passer will be due to a Bortles injury or Kessler being overwhelmed by the job. Bortles has been an oft-derided player during his time in north Florida, but the Jags just re-signed him to a three-year extension and did not make a serious investment in competition for the fifth-year QB this offseason. Kessler has fared well in the offseason, per Reid, who also envisions seventh-round rookie Tanner Lee being practice squad-bound.
  • Acquired via draft-weekend trade, Henry Anderson is in the running to replace Muhammad Wilkerson in the Jets‘ starting lineup. Todd Bowles said (via Brian Costello of the New York Post) the former Colts defensive end would be on the field when the team deploys a four-man front, which would mean an important assignment given how often nickel sets are utilized. The Jets also signed Courtney Upshaw recently and are planning to use third-round defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd as an end as well. Upshaw was a Ravens lineup regular from 2013-15 but settled in as a Falcons backup the past two seasons. Jettisoned by the Colts because of their impending move to a 4-3 look, Anderson started eight of the nine games he suited up for last year.

Broncos To Sign Bradley Chubb

Rookie defensive end Bradley Chubb is finalizing a contract agreement with the Broncos, a league source tells Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). Chubb’s No. 5 slot dictates that he’ll earn a $17.914MM signing bonus on a four-year deal worth about $27.27MM in total. 

Chubb was regarded by many as the best overall talent in this year’s draft. Luckily for the Broncos, the Browns (pick Nos. 1 and 4), Giants (No. 2), and Jets (No. 3) all had bigger needs to address elsewhere.

In his final year at N.C. State, Chubb won the Hendricks (best defensive end) and Bronko Nagurski (best defender) Awards while also earning first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC honors. After tallying 26 tackles for loss and ten sacks, he solidified his place as one of the very best prospects in the 2018 draft.

Chubb will be a Day 1 starter for the Broncos, lining up at defensive end opposite of Derek Wolfe. With the support and mentorship of Von Miller behind him, the Broncos are ecstatic about what Chubb can bring to the table this year and in the long run.

With Chubb taken care of, third-round running back Royce Freeman stands as the Broncos’ only unsigned selection. For a complete look at which rookies have signed and which rookies have not signed their deals, check out PFR’s tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: 2019 QBs, Browns, Jackson

A possible dearth of quarterback talent in the 2019 draft class may have contributed the first-round aggressiveness of teams in recent years. The Bears, Chiefs, Texans, Jets, Bills and Cardinals traded up to land their hopeful quarterbacks of the future the past two drafts, and Albert Breer of SI.com notes some of the impetus behind these moves may be coming from issues teams have with the crop of passers likely set to populate 2019 big boards.

Not right now, there isn’t one (that would go in the first round as it stands),” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “The kids at Auburn (Jarrett Stidham), Missouri (Drew Lock) and N.C. State (Ryan Finley), by the end of it, could work their way into the conversation. But on the surface, based on current performance, it’d be a no. Now, if they ascend, which they should, those three guys have a chance to get there.”

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (Insider link) has both Lock (No. 16) and Oregon’s Justin Herbert (No. 18) in his early top 25 for 2019. Issues with Lock’s completion percentage (57.8 percent is the senior-to-be’s career high) and Herbert’s toughness, per Breer, are early concerns for respective first-round hopefuls. While events of recent years show it’s a good bet a quarterback will be taken in the 2019 first round, Breer compares this crop — at this early juncture — to the 2013 group that saw only E.J. Manuel chosen in Round 1 instead of other recent classes that saw the likes of Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston emerge as obvious down-the-line high draft choices in advance of their final college campaigns.

Here’s more on this year’s draft, courtesy of Breer:

  • Breer reports the Browns “loved both” of the Denzel Ward/Bradley Chubb duo, but the team felt the Ohio State cornerback possessed upside potential the N.C. State defensive end didn’t. Ward started just for one season but sat behind Buckeyes cornerbacks that are now in the NFL. Cleveland brass also didn’t view Chubb as a Myles Garrett– or Jadeveon Clowney-like athletic specimen. Plus, Gregg Williams said the team’s need at corner was greater than the one opposite Garrett. Also noting Ward, who went to Nordonia High School in the Cleveland area, pitched his local ties and desire to help a Browns resurgence, Breer writes the Browns did their homework on this difficult decision and did not make an impulse call on draft night.
  • If the Eagles did not trade their first-round pick to the Ravens, they were going to consider eventual Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton at No. 32, per Breer. Sutton visited the Eagles in early April. Philly has Alshon Jeffery, a player to whom Sutton’s been compared, signed long-term and has Nelson Agholor controlled through 2019. However, the defending Super Bowl champions still signed Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, the latter a post-draft addition.
  • Ravens brass needed to hear from John Harbaugh the coaching staff was confident the team could win with Lamar Jackson before trading up to take him, and Breer reports Harbaugh, OC Marty Morhinweg, senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and QBs coach James Urban all developed a plan for the rookie before Ozzie Newsome made the trade with the Eagles. Both Mornhinweg and Urban were in their same positions under Andy Reid on the 2010 Eagles, when Michael Vick resurfaced as a top-flight weapon after previously working intermittently in certain packages. Roman’s work adjusting the 2012 49ers’ offense for Colin Kaepernick also played a role here, Breer writes. The Ravens look to be preparing Jackson sets already.
  • The first four rookies to sign their deals all had offset language built into the contracts, Breer tweets. Da’Ron Payne, Josh Rosen, Marcus Davenport and Quenton Nelson saw their teams include offsets in their deals. Offset language provided one of the sticky points in Joey Bosa‘s 2016 holdout, and the Chargers won out. So far, teams are doing the same with their 2018 top picks.

Browns Rumors: Mayfield, Haley, Ward

While the Baker Mayfield/Browns noise didn’t intensify until draft week, the newly assembled front office viewed the Oklahoma product well independently before arriving in Cleveland. John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf and consultant Scot McCloughan all had Mayfield atop the quarterback class, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, with Alonzo Highsmith subsequently joining them. Using the Packers’ grading system the Browns do now, Dorsey, Wolf and McCloughan — who has long praised the 2017 Heisman Trophy recipient — each put Mayfield atop their respective lists prior to coming to Cleveland. While a report emerged earlier this week indicating Sam Darnold may well have been more teams’ top-rated QB in this class, Cabot reports four teams — three AFC squads and one in the NFC — had Mayfield as this class’ No. 1 quarterback. Two other teams, per Cabot, provided strong indications he was their top QB choice.

Here’s the latest from Cleveland, including more about the Browns’ signal-caller situation.

  • While the Browns are certainly higher on Mayfield than they were on DeShone Kizer or Cody Kessler, the memories of neither rookie winning a game are still fresh with Hue Jackson. And he reiterated this weekend he’s not going to deviate from Tyrod Taylor atop the QB depth chart. “I’m not going to back off of this,” Jackson said, via Cabot. “We can keep writing this narrative, Tyrod Taylor’s the starting quarterback of this football team, and that won’t change. … Tyrod has demonstrated every day what it’s like to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. I want some of that to rub off on (Mayfield) so he can see firsthand what it means to play quarterback in the National Football League. Baker doesn’t know.”
  • The Browns had close to the same grade on Mayfield and Saquon Barkley, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. While this could mean the Browns placed a slightly higher grade on the Penn State-produced running back, Dorsey felt the need at quarterback and the fact he could land a promising running back prospect in the second round (Nick Chubb went to Cleveland at No. 35) tipped the scales for Mayfield. Cleveland was long connected to a quarterback at No. 1, and Barkley was not believed to be a serious consideration.
  • Todd Haley‘s arrival in northeast Ohio will mean full autonomy of the Browns’ offense, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. Both Jackson and Mayfield will spend time this summer learning Haley’s playbook. Jackson will be taking a CEO-style approach this year instead of calling plays, as he has the past two seasons. But it still sounds like some of the third-year HC’s concepts will be included in Haley’s offense.
  • The Browns had Denzel Ward and Bradley Chubb ranked equally on their board, and need won out, Dorsey said during a radio interview on 92.3 The Fan (via Cabot). Ward’s ability to play press coverage well made him DC Gregg Williams‘ preference, too.

Brandon Beane On Bills’ First-Round Trades

Brandon Beane enjoyed a complicated night on his first draft as Bills GM. And he detailed the extensive process in an expansive piece by Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News.

The Bills were ready to give the Broncos an extra first- and second-round pick, Beane confirms of Mike Klis of 9News’ report that emerged on draft weekend. Denver and Buffalo’s GMs agreed to the swap at around 7pm CT on draft night — one that would have sent Buffalo’s Nos. 12 and 22 picks and one of its second-rounders to Denver in exchange for the No. 5 overall choice and a third-round pick — but John Elway told Beane the deal would be off if a certain player was still on the board.

Beane wondered if that player was Denzel Ward, but when a text message came alerting Beane that Bradley Chubb might fall past the Browns at No. 4, he began to worry about his plans to acquire Josh Allen.

I was really nervous when Cleveland got on the clock. You’ve got your channels where you’re getting information outside of the draft room. Somebody told me, it’s down to Ward or Chubb,” Beane said, via Skurski. “Earlier in the day, people felt like they were probably going to go Chubb. That was my first four. I did say it was going to be Chubb, and we’ll go to Denver. I was wrong. Not until (the Browns) were on the clock did I get the text from somebody that said, ‘Hey, Ward may go here.’ I said (expletive).”

I was a little bummed when Elway told me, ‘Hey, this is our guy.’ I felt like what I had to offer John was better than anybody else could offer. I felt like I was bidding against myself, basically.”

Beane became leery of the Dolphins and Cardinals moving up to No. 7 for Allen, whom Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported was their No. 1-rated quarterback, but he would no longer be willing to part with the No. 22 pick like he was in talks with the Broncos at No. 5. And he wasn’t willing to trade the Bills’ 2019 first-rounder.

(Assistant GM) Joe (Schoen) would say, ‘(the Buccaneers) want this and this,’ and it included 22, and I said no,” Beane said. “It was just too much. I would have done 22 at five. I wasn’t doing it there. Because I knew nobody could be offering that. … That was the biggest obstacle I faced during the whole thing. Everybody wanted next year’s one leading up to the draft, and I wasn’t doing it.”

Beane and Schoen then approached the 49ers at No. 9, but John Lynch was zeroed in on Mike McGlinchey. However, Jason Licht called Beane back and said he would accept the offer of both of Buffalo’s second-round picks. The Bills collected a seventh-rounder from the Bucs as well.

He said, ‘I’ll do it for the twos, but we’ve got to do it right now,’ ” Beane told Skurski. “I said alright, I need another pick, though. I need a player. I don’t care what it is, just give me your last pick, whatever it is. He said, ‘Alright, done.

(The Broncos taking Chubb) was a blessing in disguise. I was tight after Denver’s pick. I was trying not to show it to the room, but I was tight. Joe and I, we were very tight.”

In passing on the chance to acquire additional first- and second-round picks, the Broncos are betting big on Chubb. Beane said he also spoke with the Giants and Browns about the Nos. 2 and 4 picks, and Skurski reports the only trade Beane would have made pre-draft was with the Giants at No. 2.

Skurski adds the Bills finalized their quarterback hierarchy following their April 13 Sam Darnold workout. Miller reported this week Darnold was the Bills’ top-rated quarterback, so it would have made sense for a trade to the second slot. Although, Darnold was still connected to the Browns at No. 1 at that point. The Bills were rumored to be targeting a top-five pick for weeks prior to the draft, but the Giants and Browns wanted more than Beane was willing to offer, per Skurski.

As for the Bills’ second Round 1 trade, Beane contacted the Packers at No. 14 and Raiders at No. 15. Green Bay ended up accepting a New Orleans offer that did include a 2019 first, and Oakland did not want to trade down again, per Skurski. Edmunds was the target because of the Bills’ situation at linebacker, Beane said, and the Ravens quickly agreed to a deal at No. 16.

(Edmunds) was sticking out on our board, and it’s a need,” Beane said. “If a guy is sticking out on our board, and it’s really not a need, you might not do it. But with the hole we had there, and where he was on our board, it was a no-brainer. Even if we could have got to 14, we would have done it.”

Giants Did Not Have Consensus On Draft’s Top QB

The Giants were enamored with Saquon Barkley to the point they didn’t waste much time turning in their card. And the team is now prepared to enter the season without a surefire heir apparent behind Eli Manning.

It turns out, Big Blue’s brass didn’t appear to have a consensus among which of the quarterbacks they would take, with Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reporting different sects of the Giants’ decision-makers preferred three separate signal-callers. And they didn’t feel strongly enough about one of them to pull the trigger at No. 2.

Mostly, the Giants were down to Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, with some Josh Rosen support in the building as well. Schwartz reports there wasn’t much love for Baker Mayfield among the new-look Giants power structure.

If it were up to Pat Shurmur, Allen would have been the quarterback pick — had the franchise been leaning in that direction. Upside drew Shurmur to Allen. However, the Giants would have selected Bradley Chubb if Barkley wasn’t available, per Schwartz.

The Giants placed the same grade on Barkley and Chubb, but the Penn State running back was listed atop Chubb’s name on Big Blue’s board. They proceeded accordingly, and are “ecstatic,” Schwartz writes.

Additionally, Schwartz lists second-round pick Will Hernandez as a near-surefire starter at guard. Hernandez caught the Giants’ eye at the Senior Bowl, and one staffer told Schwartz the the team’s consensus was the UTEP lineman’s Combine performance would not have him available by the time New York’s second-round window opened. The Giants signed Patrick Omameh in free agency and still have returning starter John Jerry on the roster. And Schwartz adds that Lorenzo Carter could well get a strong push to start ahead of free agency addition Kareem Martin, the latter’s knowledge of James Bettcher’s system notwithstanding.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Fallout: Browns, Jackson, Colts

The Browns listened to offers for their No. 4 overall pick, but the talks for that spot did not escalate too far. Four teams contacted John Dorsey about potentially moving into that position, Peter King of SI.com reports, noting just one offered a package including a 2019 first-rounder. King estimates the Cardinals were that team. However, Dorsey said the franchise interested in moving up to No. 4 was interested in a quarterback that the Browns GM knew going to be available.

I’m coming up for one player and one player only, and that’s Baker Mayfield.” the anonymous exec told Dorsey, who relayed this to King. “I knew all along it wasn’t going to happen.”

Mayfield visited the Cardinals before the draft, and while it’s uncertain if they were the team that offered a 2019 first-rounder, their No. 15 draft position being the lowest of the QB-needy teams would make such a proposal logical. Arizona ended up with Josh Rosen, moving up five spots without having to sacrifice a first- or second-round pick to do so.

Here’s more from Cleveland and the rest of the latest draft fallout.

  • New Browns vice president of football operations Alonzo Highsmith said for months he had Sam Darnold rated ahead of Baker Mayfield in a succession that went Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. But Mayfield’s visit changed the new Cleveland exec’s tune. “From the start of this college football season to the end of the season, I had Darnold No. 1 and Baker No. 2On our way through everything, you couldn’t tell me Darnold wasn’t the best,” Highsmith said (via Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository). “Then comes the part where you meet them off the field. You watch their workouts. You watch everything. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive. And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy. That includes the power to effect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there.”
  • Lamar Jackson‘s pre-draft process did not go smoothly, with CBS Sports’ Joel Corry reporting teams had trouble scheduling workouts and meetings with him. The quarterback also experienced difficulties breaking down plays on teams’ whiteboards at the Combine. Corry notes Jackson’s decision to not hire an agent could have cost him some money on his rookie contract, with the Ravens being able to get him at No. 32 after a contingent in their draft room lobbied for him at 16.
  • Chris Ballard said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts‘ decision to make Quenton Nelson this year’s No. 6 overall pick was the easiest draft decision he’d made in 19 years (Twitter link). However, if Bradley Chubb would have remained on the board, Ballard admitted (via Holder, on Twitter) it would have been a much tougher call. Had the Broncos and Bills been able to swing a deal, the Colts would have been faced with that decision. But when the Bills contacted the Colts about a trade for No. 6, Ballard appeared to intimate he was fixated on Nelson.
  • Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd will be stationed at defensive end in the Jets‘ 3-4 scheme, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Despite weighing 315 pounds, Shepherd will be in line to potentially take Muhammad Wilkerson‘s spot opposite Leonard Williams come training camp.

Bills Offered Broncos Two First-Rounders?

When the Browns chose Denzel Ward at No. 4 instead of Bradley Chubb, that nixed a Broncos-Bills trade. And Mike Klis of 9News reports Buffalo was set to give up both its No. 12 and No. 22 picks, in addition to a second-round selection, for the right to move up to No. 5.

Instead, the Broncos passed and chose Chubb, whom Klis notes the team had tied with Saquon Barkley as being the top player in the draft. But the Bills were also willing to part with one of their second-rounders — either No. 53 or No. 56 — in a deal that was going to involve Denver sending Buffalo one of its third-round choices (either No. 71 or No. 99).

So, the Broncos valued the N.C. State-honed pass rusher immensely, passing on additional first- and second-round picks in order to stay put.

The Bills’ package sent to the Buccaneers, for the right to draft Josh Allen at No. 7, included both second-rounders and a seventh-round selection. The offer to the Broncos containing the No. 22 choice — which Buffalo used to trade up and select Tremaine Edmunds — runs counter to a report from earlier on Thursday indicating Brandon Beane wasn’t willing to part with both of his first-round picks. But that report surfaced before the draft began; the events of the opening hour Thursday night could have changed things.

The Colts also called the Broncos about moving up to select Chubb, Klis reports, but John Elway elected to stay put and attempt to load up his team’s edge-rushing contingent. As for what was going to transpire if the Browns took Chubb and the Bills suddenly pulled their offer, the Broncos were likely to select either Quenton Nelson or Roquan Smith, per Klis.

Sam Darnold remained the quarterback Elway preferred, with Klis reporting the Broncos had cooled on Baker Mayfield to the point they wouldn’t have taken him at No. 5. While that didn’t end up mattering, it could be notable if Allen or Josh Rosen end up being long-term answers for their respective teams. The Broncos dropped out of the Kirk Cousins derby and signed Case Keenum to a two-year deal, making it less likely they were going to use their top offseason resource on another quarterback, and were not closely linked to either Allen or Rosen late in the pre-draft process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Could Still Trade No. 2 Pick

A trade of the No. 2 pick is still a possibility for the Giants, sources tell Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). If they keep the No. 2 pick, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb are viewed as the favorites to be selected. However, the potential presence of USC’s Sam Darnold could change things.

The Giants – and those around the Giants – would have better clarity on their plans if they knew what the Browns were planning to do with the No. 1 overall pick. The Browns have left everyone around the NFL guessing and no one knows for sure if they’ll go with Darnold, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, or perhaps even Wyoming’s Josh Allen. At this point, the entire world might find out the identity of the top pick together when commissioner Roger Goodell takes the podium tonight.

On paper, selecting Sam Darnold as Eli Manning’s successor would be a huge win for the G-Men, but they are reportedly less than enamored with this year’s QB crop. If the Giants are willing to pass up a chance to select Barkley or Chubb, they could net a tremendous haul to swap places with a team dead set on landing a QB.

Latest On Giants’ No. 2 Pick

As Round 1 looms in six days, Saquon Barkley has surged to the center of the Giants’ radar screen. While that interest is real, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, this shouldn’t be viewed as a surefire pick.

There are some at Giants headquarters who think passing on a possible franchise quarterback “would be nuts,” per Vacchiano, who adds Sam Darnold likely remains the quarterback Big Blue would target (if he’s available). The Giants do not appear to be interested in Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen, and Vacchiano adds the team doesn’t seem to be as sure about this quarterback class as the one 14 years ago that produced their current starter.

Josh Rosen‘s stock may have taken a slight hit compared to where he was at the end of his final UCLA season, but one source informed Vacchiano he should not be ruled out of a New York selection. He was believed by some to be the favorite here early in the pre-draft process. A report earlier this month indicated the Giants were down on Rosen, but we are in peak smokescreen time.

Barkley is likely the No. 1 player on the Giants’ board, Vacchiano notes, adding that the team appears to prefer him to Bradley Chubb and may just view the Penn State sensation as an too much of a talent to pass up, regardless of positional value. ESPN’s Todd McShay has heard immense Barkley praise coming out of New York lately, and PFR readers’ early consensus is Barkley will be Big Apple-bound.

While the Giants are high on Chubb and Quenton Nelson, Vacchiano writes these two are likelier fits if they trade down, pointing to the Notre Dame guard in particular in a trade-down scenario. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reported Nelson was a top-three player on New York’s board and a target if the team trades down. If the Giants were to move down and target Chubb, they probably wouldn’t be able to drop too far. Any trade-down move, though, may be less likely than the franchise just picking its preferred prospect.

Why would we (trade down) and pass on either the best quarterback or best player on our board?” one Giants source told Vacchiano.

This is the highest pick the Giants have held since 1981, when they landed Lawrence Taylor, and Dave Gettleman has repeatedly said he would like a “gold jacket” player with his first pick as GM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.