Chidobe Awuzie

East Rumors: Giants, Fins, Jets, Cowboys

Justin Pugh‘s contract year could well include a lengthy stay at right tackle. The Giants‘ starting left guard slid to his original position on Monday night and will do the same Sunday against the Eagles. Big Blue plans to start Brett Jones at left guard and does not plan on ditching Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. Pugh’s versatility will allow the Giants, per Ben McAdoo, to keep the “best five” on the field rather than the team having to use a swing tackle. Usual right tackle Bobby Hart will miss Week 3, and D.J. Fluker — a four-year Chargers starter — is apparently the Giants’ seventh offensive lineman. He’ll profile as the backup guard behind Jones and John Jerry, Raanan writes.

Here’s more from the Eastern divisions in advance of Week 3’s Sunday slate.

  • Lawrence Timmons‘ pre-Week 2 disappearance will be costly. The Dolphins linebacker signed a two-year, $12MM deal but will lose money because of the suspension his new team handed down this week. In addition to voiding the $4.5MM in guaranteed money attached to his 2018 salary, Timmons stands to lose as much as $235K in base salary this season — since he can only be suspended for four weeks under the CBA — and could be set to forfeit signing bonus money, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Volin adds the linebacker could be forced to refund 4/17ths of this year’s portion of his $5.5MM signing bonus. This team-imposed ban could cost Timmons $882K this season before giving Miami greater leverage over him in 2018 because of voided guarantees.
  • Jay Cutler reached out to Matt Forte about a possible Jets path, but his longtime Bears teammate couldn’t provide many details about an offensive system about to change, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Although the Jets and Cutler had multiple visits scheduled, neither came to fruition and the interest wasn’t heavy on either side. Cutler also talked with former Broncos and Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Gang Green’s current QBs instructor, throughout his first free agency process, per Mehta. But with Bates not calling plays in New York, that connection didn’t have the kind of appeal that would have induced Cutler to sign with the rebuilding team. Instead, Cutler’s second wave of free agency became a Dolphins-centric odyssey.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins weighed over 300 pounds in the recent past, according to Calvin Watkins of Newsday. The Jets tight end dropped a staggering 60 pounds, per Watkins, and is down to 262 as he comes off his two-game suspension for substance abuse. A May report indicated Seferian-Jenkins was down 25 pounds. A year ago Saturday, Seferian-Jenkins was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The Buccaneers cut him, routing the formerly coveted prospect to the Jets. As of this week, ASJ is approaching 250 days sober, Watkins reports.
  • The Cowboys struggled to stay with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in a Week 2 loss in Denver, and the team will take a shorthanded cornerback group to Arizona as well. Both Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie are out for the Cowboys’ Monday-night tilt against the Cardinals, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News tweets. A hamstring injury will shelve Awuzie, and Carroll’s in concussion protocol.

Cowboys Sign Seven Draft Picks

The Cowboys have agreed to pacts with seven draft picks, leaving third-round cornerback Jourdan Lewis as the only member of their nine-rookie class without a contract, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Dallas, which reached a deal with first-round defensive end Taco Charlton on Thursday afternoon, signed this group in the evening:

Chidobe Awuzie

Awuzie was reportedly gaining momentum as a potential first-rounder in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he ultimately come off the board late in the second. The four-year starter at Colorado had his most productive seasons from 2015-16, combining for 150 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions, and should see plenty of playing time as a rookie in Dallas. The Cowboys, who ranked a mediocre-at-best 18th in DVOA against the pass last year, lost cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne to free agency. The club will try to make up for the veterans’ departures with a corner group consisting of Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Awuzie and Nolan Carroll, among others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pauline’s Latest: McCaffrey, Harris, Barnett

With the draft roughly four hours away, let’s take a look at the latest from Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com:

  • The Eagles are reportedly “infatuated” with Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, per Pauline. Philadelphia might have trouble selecting McCaffrey with the 14th overall pick, however, as the Panthers also are interested in the dynamic athlete at No. 8. As such, the Eagles may have to trade up if they want to land McCaffrey. Potentially, the Eagles could make a deal with the Jets, but Pauline wonders if Philadelphia has enough draft capital to make a move up given that they sacrificed a haul of picks in 2016.
  • Pass rushers Charles Harris (Missouri) and Derek Barnett (Tennessee) are both shooting up draft boards and could potentially be selected earlier than most observers currently believe, according to Pauline. The Dolphins, for one, are known to have interest in both players, but if Pauline’s report is correct, both might be gone by the time Miami picks at No. 22.
  • The most undervalued player in the draft may be Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, says Pauline. Awuzie has been linked to a number of teams during the predraft process, including the Titans, Buccaneers, and Cowboys, whiles scouts like his size and level of experience.
  • While Awuzie may be underrated, fellow cornerback Marlon Humphrey is being overvalued, reports Pauline, who adds the Alabama alum could even potentially fall out of the first round. Most mock drafts have placed Humphrey in Day 1, but the plethora of defensive back options in this year’s class could conceivably push him down.

Miller’s Latest: Cards, Mahomes, Bills, Bucs

The Cardinals are expected to select a quarterback in the first round, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Sitting at No. 13, Arizona can look to secure a long-term replacement for incumbent Carson Palmer, who is entering his age-37 campaign. While the Cards have been linked to Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Miller cites “buzz” that the club actually prefers Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, who would seemingly be a fit for Bruce Arians‘ vertical offense. In Round 2, meanwhile, Arizona is likely to target edge rushers, per Miller.

Let’s take a look at the highlight’s from Miller’s latest scouting notebook, which — as always — is worth a full read:

  • The Bills aren’t bluffing about their interest in this year’s class of quarterbacks, but Buffalo probably won’t trade up for UNC’s Mitch Trubisky, says Miller. However, the Bills could consider Watson if they stay put at No. 10.
  • While the Buccaneers may seem like a fit for Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, he’s unlikely to come off the board in Round 1 thanks to off-field issues, per Miller. Instead, Tampa Bay has been “all over” defensive back prospects, and Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie is a possible selection at No. 19. Additionally, the Bucs are likely to draft a defensive end by the end of Day 3.
  • Although Richard Sherman is now unlikely to be traded, the Seahawks are still thought to be targeting a cornerback on Day 1, reports Miller. In Rounds 2 and 3, Seattle could potentially go after pass-catchers and edge rushers before eyeing quarterbacks late in the draft.
  • The Redskins “love” Temple Haason Reddick and may even think about trading up to acquire him, per Miller. Reddick has steadily risen up draft boards and could conceivably be a top-10 pick. Washington current sits at No. 17.
  • Nearly every source expects the Eagles to select a cornerback in Round 1, according to Miller. Ohio State’s Gareon Conley had been in contention for the No. 14 pick, but that could have changed now that Conley has been accused of rape.
  • The Chargers could surprise and go with Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams at pick No. 7, a source told Miller. Los Angeles already boasts Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Dontrelle Inman at wideout, so the Bolts could also consider Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, per Miller.

Draft Rumors: Fournette, Foster, Robinson

LSU running back Leonard Fournette will visit the 49ers prior to the draft, reports Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. While the 49ers would reportedly like to trade down in Round 1, Fournette could be a possibility for them if they keep the second overall pick. San Francisco already has a productive No. 1 back in Carlos Hyde, whom general manager John Lynch spoke highly of last week, but there are whispers that the rookie executive wants to make change in the backfield.

More on the upcoming draft:

  • The Jets hosted Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster on Monday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. As is the case with the 49ers, the Jets’ goal is to move down from their current first-round slot (No. 6). If a deal doesn’t come to fruition, though, they’ll likely be in the neighborhood of where Foster will come off the board.
  • Offensive tackle Cam Robinson, who was teammates with Foster at Alabama, is drawing significant interest from the Texans. Houston worked out Robinson earlier this month, and he’s now in town for a two-day visit that will include another workout, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). The tackle-needy Texans are in line to pick 25th overall, but Robinson could be gone by then. The Bengals, owners of the ninth overall selection, met with Robinson over the weekend, Rapoport adds. In the event Robinson falls to the end of the first round, the Falcons (No. 31) will be a team to keep an eye on, writes Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com.
  • Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is gaining momentum as a potential first-round pick, per Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. The fact that Awuzie has experience inside and at nickel makes him a candidate to step into the league and make an impact from the get-go, notes Rang, who lauds the 6-foot, 202-pounder’s “above-average size,” “impressive athleticism” and coverage “savvy.” Awuzie is on the radars of the Titans and Raiders, either of whom could grab him in the second half of the opening round.
  • Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp will come off the board “very high” in the second round, according to CBS Sports’ Jason Canfora, who has heard comparisons between Kupp and the Patriots’ Julian Edelman.
  • In advance of their meeting with Utah offensive tackle Garret Bolles on Tuesday, the Broncos hosted Wisconsin bookend Ryan Ramczyk on Monday, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. Both players are first-round possibilities for Denver at No. 20 overall.

West Notes: Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, Cards

Virginia Commonwealth’s Mo Alie-Cox isn’t the only collegiate basketball player garnering interest from the Chiefs, as the club also has visits lined up with D.J. Johnson (Kansas State) and Najeal Young (Texas Wesleyan), according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Johnson, meanwhile, has also set up a meeting with the Bears, per Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle. As Paylor notes, Kansas City has used the basketball-to-football strategy before, as tight ends Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis both played hoops in college. Like Alie-Cox, Johnson and Young aren’t eligible for the draft and are allowed to sign NFL contracts immediately.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Raiders stand a “good chance” of bypassing one of their biggest needs — linebacker — in favor of defensive back help on Day 1, per Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Both the Raiders and Titans have visited with Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, reports Pauline, and both clubs could seriously consider Awuzie in the first round (at picks No. 24 and No. 18, respectively). Oakland could use another player in the secondary next to Sean Smith and David Amerson, while Tennessee released veteran corner Jason McCourty today and are fielding one of the league’s worst corner depth charts. Dallas has also met with Awuzie, who posted one interception and four sacks last year.
  • After ranking 27th in adjusted sack rate in 2016, the Broncos are unsurprisingly expected to target offensive lineman in the draft, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Utah tackle Garett Bolles, whom I sent to Denver in PFR’s first 2017 mock draft, is of “high interest” to the Broncos, who hold the No. 20 pick in Round 1. But Denver is unlikely to stop on Day 1, as the club will probably select multiple offensive lineman over the course of the draft, per Cole. The Broncos signed free agents Menelik Watson and Ronald Leary last month, but the front five — especially left tackle — still needs a lot of help.
  • Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson has a workout scheduled with the Cardinals, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Arizona currently boasts Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, free agent signee Jarvis Jones, Kareem Martin, and Gabe Martin on the edge, but Anderson would give the club yet another option to get after opposing quarterbacks. Anderson, who managed 8.5 sacks in 2016, has also met with Houston and Carolina. Anderson is a likely Day 2 prospect, and was compared to San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.
  • The Raiders had scheduled a meeting with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, but he won’t be able to attend due to a scheduling conflict, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Still, the proposed visit indicates a level of interest from Oakland, which clearly needs assistance at linebacker. If Foster falls to No. 24, the Raiders would likely run to turn in their card.

Cowboys Meet With 21 NFL Draft Prospects

The Cowboys have now used more than two-thirds of their 30 allotted predraft visits, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link), Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), and Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News have provided the list of prospects with whom Dallas has met:

The Cowboys’ visits with Michigan DE Taco Charlton, UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley, UConn S Obi Melifonwu, UCLA CB Fabian Moreau, and Wisconsin LB T.J. Watt had all been previously reported.