Courtland Sutton

Thomas Eyeing Several More Seasons

Hip and neck troubles plagued Demaryius Thomas the past two seasons, enough so the Broncos’ top wide receiver contemplated near-future retirement — either after the 2018 season or the ’19 campaign, James Palmer of NFL.com reports. But a now-reinvigorated Thomas is looking at his career differently.

A new diet and a leaner physique has the 30-year-old wideout wanting to extend his career well into the 2020s, even though he acknowledges things change quickly.

Now I’m thinking, 15 or 16 (years),” Thomas told Palmer. “Like, for real, I’m going to be like Larry Fitzgerald. Maybe even more. It just depends, you know? I mean, s—, tomorrow I could finish my career off of one crazy injury. But yeah, my mindset has changed.”

Thomas dropped more than 10 pounds this offseason, being currently under 220, per Palmer. And he’s obviously not experiencing the kind of hip pain that bothered him in 2016 and ’17. Even entering this season on the heels of the aforementioned injury-restricted ones, Thomas has played in 107 straight games since the 2011 season.

For, like, the past two years, for real, it’s been my neck and my hip,” Thomas said, via Palmer. “It was just times I couldn’t compete my best. And you know, sometimes, I remember one game we were playing the Patriots, and the (then-Patriots) corner (Logan Ryan) called it out. He said, ‘You’re not yourself.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m doing whatever I can to try to get (coverage) attention.’ ”

Like, for real, with all the problems with my hip, especially with my hip, it was like, sometimes I couldn’t even stop.”

Palmer notes one of Thomas’ hip labrums is partially torn. It’s not known what medical treatments Thomas underwent (if any) to recover from these maladies in order to be ready for this season.

If Thomas wants to play well into his 30s, he may have to relocate. By virtue of the Broncos picking up Thomas’ $4MM option, the Georgia Tech product will play a fourth season on his five-year, $70MM deal. But Thomas’ 2019 contract year will feature a $17.53MM cap number — up $5MM from this season’s — and the Broncos shedding that salary will save them $14MM. Of course, Emmanuel Sanders‘ contract expires after the 2019 season as well, and he’s due nearly $13MM in 2019.

With the Broncos having drafted Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton this year, it seems a somewhat safe bet to assume at least one of their longtime starters will be elsewhere in 2019. Though, they might be hesitant to part ways with both Thomas and Sanders given their importance to the Denver passing game the past four seasons. The Broncos and Thomas believe both rookies will make an immediate impact, per Palmer, with Sutton in particular drawing rave reviews in camp. Denver, though, has failed repeatedly to identify auxiliary receiving talent over the past three years, with previous Day 2 draft choices Cody Latimer and Carlos Henderson not working out.

Although Thomas’ 1,000-yard streak stopped at five due to 2017’s 949-yard showing, he passed Shannon Sharpe in both career receiving yardage and touchdowns (as Broncos) last season. He’s second behind Rod Smith in both categories with the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WR Notes: Diggs, Decker, Doctson, Broncos

The Vikings now have three of their four major offseason extension candidates signed long-term, with Anthony Barr being the only member of the contract-year quartet (Barr/Stefon Diggs/Eric Kendricks/Danielle Hunter) still attached to a rookie contract. Diggs was the latest to sign, and some details of that five-year, $72MM extension have emerged. Of the $40MM in guarantees, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter) that only Diggs’ $15MM signing bonus and $1.9MM 2018 base salary are fully guaranteed at signing. The remainder of the wide receiver’s guaranteed money will depend on his roster status.

If Diggs is on the Vikings’ roster by the third day of the 2019 league year, all of his $8.9MM 2019 base becomes guaranteed. The same structure exists for the 2020 and ’21 league years, with Goessling reporting Diggs’ 2020 base of $10.9MM becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of that league year and $3.3MM of his $10.9MM 2021 salary will be guaranteed if he’s with the Vikes on Day 3 of that league year.

Here’s the latest from some teams’ pass-catching situations, shifting to more contract talk.

  • Eric Decker‘s one-year Patriots agreement comes in at just shy of $2MM. The former Broncos, Jets and Titans wideout signed for $1.9MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He has a chance to earn up to $2.5MM, per Rapoport, via incentives tied to his reception count. Decker suited up in Patriots gear for the first time Saturday. Now 31, Decker is entering his ninth season.
  • While Emmanuel Sanders has yet to relinquish his status as the Broncos’ No. 2 wide receiver — a role he inherited from Decker in 2014 — the team looks to have found a No. 3 target at long last. Having failed to find a capable cog for that job since Wes Welker‘s exit, the Broncos appear to be zeroing in on Courtland Sutton as their No. 3 receiver, Lindsay Jones of USA Today writes. The SMU product’s drawn rave reviews throughout Broncos camp, and Jones notes the second-rounder’s all but locked up the WR3 job going into preseason play. Fourth-round pick DaeSean Hamilton, viewed as a superior route-runner than the 6-foot-3 Sutton, is expected to play a role as well. But Sutton will likely start out as Denver’s third option. The rookies’ work will be interesting, given the non-guaranteed contract-year salaries for the Broncos’ longtime starting wideouts in 2019.
  • Josh Doctson has suffered another injury, a shoulder setback, but contrary to a previous assessment, the Redskins target won’t be out too long. NBC Sports Washington’s Brian Mitchell, a longtime Redskins return man, said Doctson also needed to have his heel drained earlier this week. Jay Gruden, though, refuted that. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a heel being drained,” Gruden said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “So I don’t know where that came from. That is not true, but he’s going to do a little something out here today. We’ll see. I’d be surprised if he went full-go, but he did not have his heel drained.” Doctson has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL career. The 2016 first-rounder missed all of his rookie year because of Achilles trouble and encountered hamstring issues last year.

West Rumors: Gurley, Broncos, Raiders

The base value of Todd Gurley‘s four-year extension with the Rams in $57.5MM, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, who confirms previous reports that Gurley can max out at $60MM from 2020-2023. Gurley is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back to the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, as Gurley will earn $14.375MM annually compared to Bell’s franchise tag value of $14.544MM. Of course, Bell is only playing on a one-year tag, so Gurley now holds the most lucrative multi-year deal in the league. Gurley reportedly received $45MM in guarantees, although it’s unclear whether that total refers to injury guarantees or full guarantees at signing.

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

  • The Broncos had a first-round grade on wide receiver Courtland Sutton before eventually landing him on Day 2 of the draft, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic. Sutton, an SMU product, ultimately fell to the top of the second round (pick No. 40), so Denver did not have to sacrifice capital in order to move up for its preferred target. “He has a huge catch radius and he’s got great ball skills,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said of Sutton. “As a route runner, it’s coming, but he’s so big and strong that if he doesn’t win with the route, he wins with his body.” Sutton is likely too large to see much time in the slot, but veteran pass-catcher Emmanuel Sanders could move inside in three-wide sets if Sutton wins a starting role. He’ll be competing with fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton, whom Denver selected out of Penn State in the fourth round. Over his final two collegiate campaigns, Sutton averaged 72 receptions, 1,166 yards, and 11 touchdowns per year.
  • Given that Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin sit atop the Raiders‘ running back depth chart, Oakland will likely decide between keeping Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington, as Scott Bair on NBC Sports Bay Area writes. The only problem? Richard and Washington are extremely similar players, with close physical statures (each stands 5’8″ and 205 pounds) and overall production. Both Richard and Washington averaged greater than five yards per carry during their respective rookie seasons in 2016, but each took a backseat in 2017 after Lynch was acquired from the Seahawks. Making the decision even more difficult is that both Richard and Washington return punts and kicks (in 2017, they both played exactly 33.4% of Oakland’s special teams snaps!). Whichever player is ultimately cut is sure to quickly find another home, possibly through the wavier system.
  • Broncos defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is “good to go” for training camp after suffering from a bacterial infection related to a 2015 shoulder operation, reports Mike Klis of 9News. McDonald, who signed a two-year deal with Denver earlier this year, missed the club’s entire offseason program while recovering from the infection. He was also forced to accept a pay reduction as a result of the health issue, although he can earn the $3MM he sacrificed back by appearing in all 16 games for the Broncos during the upcoming campaign. McDonald, 31, appeared in 14 games for the Buccaneers a season ago, will join fellow interior defender Domata Peko on a Denver defensive line that already ranked fourth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards in 2017.

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.

Broncos Agree To Terms With 7 Draftees

The Broncos made 10 picks in this past draft, and seven of those have agreed to terms on their four-year rookie contracts, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. While Bradley Chubb is not among this group, Denver has the majority of its 2018 class locked in. Here’s the full rundown:

Sutton, though, is under contract now. He’s the most notable draft investment the Broncos have made at wide receiver since Demaryius Thomas in 2010, profiling as a slightly higher-regarded second-round pick than Cody Latimer four years ago. The SMU product is expected to develop behind Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders while potentially working in as a No. 3 wideout this season. Hamilton will attempt to do the same, and the former Nittany Lions standout could well compete with 2017 draftee Carlos Henderson for the Broncos’ slot job — one the franchise has struggled to fill since Wes Welker departed.

Fumagalli will compete for time in an uncertain tight end group, an all-Big Ten-produced contingent featuring intriguing second-year player Jake Butt and thus-far-underwhelming fourth-year man Jeff Heuerman. This shapes up to be an interesting competition. Fellow Big Ten alum Jewell will likely be thrust into work as a special-teamer and reserve behind inside linebackers Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.

The only Broncos picks still unsigned are Chubb and third-rounders Royce Freeman and Isaac Yiadom.

Draft Rumors: Sutton, Chargers, Landry

The Cowboys exited Round 1 without taking a wide receiver, but the team is aiming for one in the second round. Dallas is hoping SMU’s Courtland Sutton is available, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. La Canfora notes the Saints are also interested in Sutton, whom some mocks had going in Round 1. New Orleans’ interest is noteworthy due to the deep arsenal of wide receivers on its roster, with Cameron Meredith now in the fold and Brandon Coleman having re-signed. But Ted Ginn is now 33. The Cowboys, conversely, need a wideout now after cutting Dez Bryant. Coupled with the news of Jason Witten‘s rumored departure and it’s logical to assume the Cowboys will exit Day 2 with a pass-catcher. Dallas’ next pick is at No. 50, and rumors of a possible Earl Thomas swap have emerged. Should the Cowboys unload their second-round selection for the All-Pro safety, they will almost certainly miss out on Sutton being there. And they may even have to trade up to land him regardless.

Here’s the latest from the draft world as Day 2 looms:

  • The Chargers have not drafted a quarterback since 2013, but La Canfora tweets a lot of buzz has surfaced about the Bolts’ interest in Mason Rudolph. Viewed as this draft’s sixth-best quarterback prospect, Rudolph may require the Chargers to trade up. The Bolts did their homework on this draft’s quarterback prospects, and that included a workout with the Oklahoma State passer.
  • And the Bolts are indeed considering a trade-up from their No. 48 position, per La Canfora, who adds the Chiefs are inquiring about a move north as well (Twitter link). Kansas City considered moving into the back end of the first round but decided against, and Brett Veach said those talks weren’t too close to producing a deal. However, the Chiefs don’t pick until No. 54 and have several needs across their defense.
  • Boston College standout pass rusher Harold Landry is still be on the board entering Round 2, and injury concerns may be at the root of it. Some teams have flagged Landry for medical reasons, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), adding knee and back issues have impeded a possible pick. Landry played in only eight games for Boston College last season, missing time with an ankle malady. However, he registered 16.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a junior in 2016. It may be up to a team that doesn’t view Landry’s issues as enough of an investment deterrent to take him off the board Friday night.
  • The Browns are high on Georgia running back Nick Chubb, La Canfora notes (via Twitter). Cleveland was linked to Saquon Barkley but didn’t have a chance to get him at No. 4. John Dorsey acquired the reigning NFL rushing champion, Kareem Hunt, in the third round last year. The Browns recently signed Carlos Hyde and have Duke Johnson entering a contract year.
  • Former Wichita State basketball player Shaq Morris has an interesting decision on his hands, it appears. Morris is determining if he will try to make an NBA push or, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter), try his hand at an NFL career. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound athlete averaged a career-high 14.0 points per game last season for the Shockers and finished as the now-American Athletic Conference program’s all-time dunks leader. Garafolo reports Morris has hired NFL agent David Canter and will entertain interest from teams. Morris played high school football and may be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Antonio GatesJulius Thomas and others whose college careers mostly commenced on basketball courts.

NFC East Notes: Dez, Giants, Redskins, Eagles

Dez Bryant wants to sign with the Giants after being released by the division-rival Cowboys last week, but a current New York wideout isn’t on board with that idea. In a now-deleted Instagram story, Giants receiver Brandon Marshall said there was “no room” for Bryant on Big Blue’s roster, as Jaclyn Hendricks of the New York Post writes. Marshall, for his part, bombed during his first campaign in New York, as an ankle injury limited him to just five games and 18 receptions. Viewed as a possible cap casualty heading into the offseason, Marshall has surprisingly stuck on the Giants’ roster to this point. New York could still release Marshall at any point, however, and doing so would save the club in excess of $5MM in cap space.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Redskins were busy hosting draft prospects over the past two days, as Georgia running back Sony Michel, Ohio State center Billy Price, and Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea all visited the nation’s capital on Tuesday/Wednesday, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (all Twitter links). Michel would join a running back depth chart that already includes Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, and Rob Kelley, while Price could start at either guard or center in lieu of Arie Kouandjio or Chase Roullier, respectively. Vea, meanwhile, would help fill a gap at defensive tackle that the Redskins have already attempted to fill this offseason by showing interest in free agents such as Johnathan Hankins and Bennie Logan.
  • Southern Methodist wideout Courtland Sutton met with the Cowboys on Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Dallas has a gaping need at receiver after cutting Bryant, as their roster is currently littered by second- and third-tier pass-catchers. Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, and Ryan Switzer front the Cowboys’ WR depth chart, but Sutton — who is viewed as either a first- or second-round selection — could give Dallas a potential No. 1 wideout. The 6’4″, 215-pound Sutton posted at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
  • The Eagles hosted running backs Derrius Guice (LSU) and Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) on Tuesday, reports Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Guice is widely considered 2018’s second-best running back prospect behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, and there’s no guarantee he’ll still be on the board when Philadelphia picks at the end of round one. While the Eagles lost LeGarrette Blount to the Lions during the free agent period, they still have Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey on their roster.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Sutton

Ereck Flowers has not lived up to expectations since being a 2015 first-round pick, but the Giants are planning to move him to his initial NFL position. Flowers is set to shift to right tackle, where he was in his first NFL offseason before a Will Beatty injury moved him to the left side — where he played for three seasons — but meetings between Flowers and the Giants will have to wait. Flowers was the team’s only no-show for Day 1 of the Pat Shurmur regime, per Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com (on Twitter). These workouts are voluntary, but considering Flowers was the only no-show, this is notable. The Giants were not briefed about a Flowers absence, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. The Giants had issues with Flowers’ attitude last season, and it’s reasonable the team will pass on his fifth-year option. Dave Gettleman has made it clear at about every turn this offseason he wanted to overhaul the Giants’ offensive line, and Flowers being a first-round pick in the Jerry Reese era might not grant him much leeway anymore.

Here’s the latest from the NFC East, continuing with a player who may or may not be changing positions up front.

  • Jason Garrett emphasized a preference for getting his best five linemen on the field and praised La’el Collins‘ versatility. With Cameron Fleming now in the fold for the Cowboys, this line of thinking would seemingly point to Collins returning to left guard. But he said Sunday he would prefer to stay at right tackle. “One of the things we want to do is always try to play our five best guys,” Garrett said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “A big part of that beyond just who are the best is try to put them in the best place for them individually and the best place for them collectively. His versatility is going to help us.” Hill adds that Fleming, who played right tackle for the Patriots, will also get a look at guard. But he has less guard experience than Collins, who was an interior lineman from 2015-16.
  • With the Browns likely taking a quarterback at No. 1, the Giants are going to have their pick of the other sought-after members of this passer class and the best non-QB in the draft. However, how the Browns proceed may affect the Giants’ desire to invest their No. 2 overall pick in an Eli Manning successor. Sam Darnold is the only quarterback the Giants are believed to covet, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com writes. A previous report indicated the Giants would not be expected to pass on Darnold if he’s there.
  • If the Browns take the USC-honed QB, they may either be open for business at 2 or be ready to pull the trigger on Bradley Chubb. Chubb/Giants chatter has increased in recent days, per James Palmer of NFL.com (video link). James Bettcher said Chubb’s past in a 4-3 set would not preclude the Giants from plugging him into their new 3-4 alignment, even though the N.C. State edge defender is a bit large for a typical outside linebacker.
  • Courtland Sutton has already visited the Cowboys and will add another NFC East team to his meetings itinerary Tuesday. The SMU wide receiver will meet with the Eagles in Philadelphia, Geoff Mosher of 97.5 The Fan reports (on Twitter). New Eagles WRs coach Gunter Brewer spent time with Sutton at the Mustangs’ pro day, Mosher tweets.

WR Courtland Sutton and CB Jaire Alexander Enter 2018 NFL Draft

We have two more draft eligible college prospects announcing their intent to turn pro after we learned highly-touted quarterback Josh Allen would be skipping his senior season and declaring for the draft.

Coutland Sutton (Vertical)

SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton revealed his decision to forego his final year of eligibility in an Instagram post tonight.

“It has been an incredible run and after discussing things with my family, I have decided to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.

The relationships I have built, and the experiences I have had are absolutely priceless. My SMU family is full of teammates, coaches, and friends that have been there for me since Day 1! Going to school and playing ball with my brothers is something that I wouldn’t change for the world. 
I would like to give a huge thanks to all those who helped me behind the scenes, Coach Stepp, TMFSS, the equipment room, the training room, Ms. Lisa, and all those that work in the Loyd building who have had an impact on my life while at SMU.

I am absolutely humbled by the opportunity that I have ahead of me, and I couldn’t have gotten here without the support and love from my family. My degree from SMU is something I will forever cherish, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next!”

Sutton has been considered one of the draft’s top wideout prospects since the start of the season, and he’ll certainly have a chance to be selected in the first round. The junior receiver stands 6’4”, 216 lbs., having caught 12 touchdowns on 68 receptions for over 1,000 yards in 2017. Sutton is currently ranked as the draft’s second best best wide receiver, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.

Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander will enter the 2018 NFL Draft as well, according to college football reporter Brett McMurphy (Twitter link). In addition to the announcement, McMurphy also reported that Alexander would be skipping the TaxSlayer Bowl because of his decision to turn pro. Alexander only recorded one interception this season, but is ranked as the seventh best corner on Matt Miller’s most recent draft board.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”