Donovan Smith

South Rumors: Falcons, Buccaneers, Morgan

The Falcons will be looking for a new kicker for temporary purposes. Matt Bryant will miss Atlanta’s Week 7 Monday night game, Dan Quinn said. The longtime Falcons kicker is dealing with a strained hamstring, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who adds Giorgio Tavecchio is among the names the Falcons are considering as a replacement. Tavecchio was briefly affiliated with the Falcons earlier this year, but Bryant’s kicked in all six Falcon games in his 10th season with the franchise. He hasn’t missed a game since he was limited to 11 appearances in 2015. Tavecchio will be among “a number of kickers” considered during the lead-up to the Falcons’ home Monday-nighter against the Giants.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions, continuing on the Atlanta injury front:

  • Another week of recovery will likely be required for Devonta Freeman, per McClure. The Falcons’ starting running back is has dealt with knee and foot trouble and now has a groin issue to overcome. Atlanta’s gotten by with Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield.
  • Ali Marpet became the latest Buccaneers starter to sign a lucrative extension, joining Mike Evans and Cameron Brate in doing so this year. More re-ups could be on track. Kwon Alexander and the Bucs are still talking an extension, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While Stroud writes it’s uncertain if the Bucs want to pay Alexander like a top-tier linebacker — they have Lavonte David on the books at $10MM per year — he’s on the radar. As is fourth-year left tackle Donovan Smith, who’s in a contract year. Despite rarely being viewed as a productive player by Pro Football Focus, Smith is well thought of among Bucs brass, per Stroud. Adam Humphries is another player the Bucs would like to retain, though they have a crowded receiver room. Chris Godwin‘s emerged as Tampa Bay’s No. 3 man and may be Evans’ top complement if DeSean Jackson ($10MM non-guaranteed salary in 2019) isn’t back next year. Humphries’ contract expires after this season.
  • Derrick Morgan will miss a few weeks because of a shoulder injury, Mike Vrabel said. A ninth-year player who dealt with a knee injury during the preseason, Morgan has played in all six Titans games this year and has only missed more than two games in a season once in the past eight years. Harold Landry will likely start opposite Brian Orakpo in the meantime.
  • Stationed on the Texans‘ PUP list, D’Onta Foreman can return to practice this week but probably won’t, per Bill O’Brien (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter). Foreman’s been out since late last season because of an Achilles’ tendon tear.
  • Braden Smith appears to have solidified himself as the Colts‘ right tackle. Indianapolis went through several players in hopes of identifying a candidate, but Frank Reich said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells, on Twitter) this job will be Smith’s to lose. Smith’s started three games for the Colts this season.
  • Former Lions, Patriots and Bengals linebacker Marquis Flowers worked out for the Texans on Monday, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. The Lions cut Flowers last week. He played in 16 games for the Bengals in 2015 and ’16 and suited up for all 19 of the Patriots’ games last year.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith Out 2-4 Weeks

Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith suffered a sprained knee during practice and is projected to miss two-to-four weeks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Tampa Bay’s regular season kicks off in just under three weeks, so Smith may indeed miss game action depending on his recovery time. That’s not good news for the Buccaneers, who will open the campaign not only without starting quarterback Jameis Winston (who will be serving a thee-game suspension), but three difficult opponents in the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers.

Smith, 25, has started 48 consecutive games since being selected 34th overall in the 2015 draft. Pro Football Focus has consistently graded Smith as a middling option: last season, PFF ranked the Penn State as the No. 45 tackle among 79 qualifiers.

Third-year pro Leonard Wester who’s played fewer than 90 snaps in his career, is currently Smith’s top backup at left tackle, and would take over if Smith is forced to miss time. The Buccaneers’ offensive line ranked 16th in Football Outsiders’ run- and pass-blocking metrics, and has since added free agent center Ryan Jensen and third-round right guard Alex Cappa.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Bucs, Aguayo, Winston, Jaguars

Draft evaluations are subjective and tend to vary greatly from team to team. This week, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht reminded us of that fact when he explained that he had first-round grades on three of his rookies this year, including kicker Roberto Aguayo. The Bucs thought enough of the FSU product to trade into the second round for him and apparently it’s a move that the Bucs made with confidence. Along with Aguayo, the GM feels that he snared first-round talents in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence. In 2015, Licht says he also hit it big.

We think we got four last year,” Licht told Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, referring to quarterback Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, and linebacker Kwon Alexander . “That’s the goal – to get multiple first-round draft picks each year. When it’s all said done, to look back and say, ‘We got multiple first-round picks in this draft’ – that was the goal.”

While you ponder Licht’s assessment of his last two drafts (and his evaluation of Aguayo), here’s more out of the South divisions:

  • New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken admits that he wasn’t a big fan of Winston prior to the 2015 draft. Today, the former Southern Miss head coach isn’t afraid to admit that he has had a change of heart. “It’s who he is, how he’s wired,” Monken said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He’s a competitive joker, man, he’s smart, he’s intelligent…you can win a lot of games with guys like that.”
  • Jeff Linkenbach‘s contract with the Jaguars is for one season and will pay $810K, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The guard/tackle has 86 appearances and 36 starts on his NFL resume.
  • The Jaguars got some bad news on Thursday when they learned that first-round pick Jalen Ramsey will have to undergo surgery to fix a knee injury. Depending on the second opinion and the treatment option he goes with, Ramsey could reportedly miss 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months. If all goes well, however, he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

Buccaneers Sign Donovan Smith

The Buccaneers now have their top two draft picks under contract, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com, who tweets a photo of second-round offensive tackle Donovan Smith signing his rookie deal. In a press release announcing the transaction, the team notes that seventh-round fullback Joey Iosefa has also inked his contract, so only second-round lineman Ali Marpet remains unsigned.

The 34th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Smith will be in line for a four-year contract worth about $6.069MM, with a signing bonus of approximately $2.674MM, per Over The Cap. Because he was selected just outside of the first round, Smith’s deal won’t feature a fifth-year option, meaning he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency following the 2018 season.

Smith is expected to immediately assume the starting role at the left tackle position, replacing the ineffective Anthony Collins, who was released earlier in the offseason. Assuming he starts the year at left tackle, Smith will be protecting the blind side of quarterback Jameis Winston, who was the first player selected in this year’s draft, and was also the first draftee to sign his rookie contract.

North Notes: Peterson, Browns, Flacco

Voluntary workouts for the Vikings begin tomorrow, but a source tells Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that embattled running back Adrian Peterson is not expected to attend. Don’t read too much into the recently-reinstated Peterson’s planned no-show, adds Tomasson, as Peterson’s appearance at voluntary events has always been “sporadic.” Minnesota’s first mandatory session doesn’t come until June 16.

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

  • Penn State offensive lineman Donovan Smith, a projected Day Two selection, will visit the Browns, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN. Smith, who played left tackle in college, would shift to the right side (or guard) in Cleveland.
  • If the Browns don’t trade up for Marcus Mariota, ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon thinks the club might not select a quarterbck at all. While he allows that his opinion is just a guess, McManamon adds that Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis, and Connor Shaw could hold the fort until a franchise QB is chosen, perhaps in next year’s draft.
  • Joe Flacco might never earn the “elite” label, but he’s given the Ravens stability at the quarterback position, something a lot of clubs are still searching for, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

49ers Notes: Peters, Armstead, Wright

The 49ers have been heavily involved in prospect visits Monday, with cornerback hovering at the center of their prospect search.

  • After visiting the Texans over the weekend and the Saints today, Washington cornerback Marcus Peters will speak with 49ers front office personnel Tuesday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes on Twitter. Despite being dismissed from the Huskies’ program, Peters goes off the board in the first round in the latest two NFL.com mock drafts.
  • Fellow reported first-round corner Byron Jones will head to San Francisco for a Tuesday visit, reports DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline, via Twitter. The UConn corner already visited the Bills, Eagles and Bears.
  • Former Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead also visited the 49ers on Monday night, per CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Maiocco on Twitter. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Armstead going to the 49ers at No. 15 (subscription required).
  • Donovan Smith (Penn State) trekked to the 49ers’ facility today, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link).
  • The 49ers’ cornerback interest is expected considering they lost 2014 starters Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox via free agency. They signed Shareece Wright to a low-cost deal in an effort to replace them, and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch assesses his candidacy with Chargers broadcaster Hank Bauer. “He’s not a physically imposing guy, but I’d say he’s a good, solid, NFL starting corner,” Bauer told Branch. “Can he be a great player? Boy, I don’t know. I can’t sit here and say I think he will be … But he’s solid.” Agreeing to join the 49ers on a one-year deal, Wright’s battled a host of injuries over the past two years, missing five games in each.

Sunday Roundup: NFC North, ‘Fins, 49ers

Golf takes its yearly ascent to the forefront of many sports fans’ minds today, but before the battle for the Green Jacket begins, let’s take a look at some links from around the NFL:

  • The Packers are one of the teams that do not announce which prospects they will bring in for their allotted 30 pre-draft visits, but Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com provides a list of players–compiled by ESPN and other outlets–that have visited, or will visit, with Green Bay.
  • The Lions need a new tailback after losing Reggie Bush to free agency, but Kyle Meinke of MLive.com says the team is not targeting a specific type of runner; speed, power, and hybrid backs are all on the table.
  • Dan Wiederer of The Chicago Tribune examines the pros and cons of drafting one of this year’s elite wide receiver prospects, which the Bears have the opportunity to do with the No. 7 overall selection.
  • There is a deep class of cornerbacks for the Ravens to choose from in this year’s draft, writes Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com. In addition to wide receiver, the secondary is a major area of concern for Baltimore.
  • James Walker of ESPN.com wonders if the Dolphins should trade up from their No. 14 overall pick in the draft to land one of this year’s elite receivers or linebackers, and he lists the costs and benefits of such a move. Walker ultimately notes (via Twitter) that Miami has too many holes and too few draft picks to consider trading into the top 10.
  • After acquiring Jeron Johnson and Dashon Goldson over the past couple of weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com wonder if Washington should nonetheless invest an early-round pick in a safety, which has been a weakness for the team in recent seasons.
  • The Eagles brought in Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith for a visit, writes Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
  • Despite losing Frank Gore to free agency, the 49ers have a talented pair of running backs in Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush, and as Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News observes, Kendall Hunter will return to the field following an ACL tear that ended his 2014 season before it started. San Francisco’s roster also includes Jarryd Hayne, a former Australian rugby star who is trying to “convert” to American football and is expected to compete as a return specialist and possibly a backup running back. As Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes, all of the team’s rushing talent suggests that the 49ers will continue to be among the league leaders in rushing attempts, as they have been in each of the past four seasons.

Extra Points: Chargers, Goodell, Peterson

Eric Weddle, a Pro Bowler at free safety, is the Chargers‘ only starting defensive back under contract for 2015. He badly wants to see fellow safety Marcus Gilchrist and cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Shareece Wright return to San Diego next year, Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego writes. “Hopefully we’re not starting with three new guys,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get them all back because they all played extremely well this year. We’re a tightly-knit group, and we played well with each other. So, hopefully, they can figure it all out and get them back.” More from around the NFL..

  • Michael Freeman of Bleacher Report sat down with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss 2014, a year he’d probably like to forget.
  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com looked at notable players who cashed in on performance bonuses in 2014, including Elvis Dumervil of the Ravens.
  • Vikings coach Mike Zimmer‘s comments earlier today on Adrian Peterson were rather non-committal, notes Michael Rand of the Star-Tribune.
  • The Jets have received permission to interview Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan, Browns personnel executive Bill Kuharich, and Eagles director of pro personnel Rick Mueller for their GM spot, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com (on Twitter). All three men, along with Trent Kirchner, will interview in the next five days.
  • Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith has decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility and will enter the draft, according to a press release from the Nittany Lions. Smith’s 31 career starts are tied for second-highest on the 2014 squad. The announcement comes as a surprise since Smith has had very little draft buzz surrounding him.