September 3rd, 2017 at 4:13pm CST by Dallas Robinson
Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC West teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks are noted below.
Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.
Here are Sunday’s NFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:
Wright was a standout at the University of Arizona. As a sophomore for the Wildcats, Wright was an absolute monster as he tallied 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and six forced fumbles. Unfortunately, he was slowed by injuries in 2015 and he wound up as a seventh-round pick of the Browns. The Cardinals were happy to scoop him up in December, but he has been pushed out in favor of veteran Josh Bynes and others.
Also of note – fourth-round guard Dorian Johnson has been cut. Johnson struggled in camp and the Cardinals were not willing to use a roster spot on him. I would speculate that he could be a taxi squad candidate.
The latest draft picks to sign their first NFL contracts:
The Colts have signed third-round defensive endTarell Basham, the 80th overall pick, meaning all eight members of their draft class are now under contract. Basham starred the previous four years at Ohio, where he amassed 38.5 tackles and 27 sacks, and could help upgrade a Colts pass rush that finished a mediocre 19th in sacks last season.
The Bears have locked up second-round tight end Adam Shaheen, leaving first-round quarterback Mitch Trubisky as the only member of their five-pick class who hasn’t signed yet. Shaheen – formerly with Ashland – is one of three Bears picks who attended a small school, and plucking players from relatively anonymous institutions has led to criticism of general manager Ryan Pace. But Shaheen is a “special talent,” according to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com.
A day after inking their top two picks to contracts, the Bills have signed their third selection, second-round offensive lineman Dion Dawkins(No. 63 overall). The former Temple Owl should be a factor on the right side of the Bills’ offensive line in 2017, perhaps as a Day 1 starter at tackle, after the team traded up to land him. The Bills’ veteran options at right tackle, Jordan Mills, Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson, have failed to impress on the field. Further, both Kouandjio and Henderson have dealt with off-field issues. Henderson will miss the first five games of the year on account of a suspension.
Former North Carolina State safety Josh Jones has signed his deal with the Packers. Jones, the 61st pick, was one of two second-rounders for Green Bay in this year’s draft. The higher selection of the two, ex-Washington cornerback Kevin King (No. 33 overall), signed last week. Jones, who wrapped up his college career in 2016 with a 109-tackle, three-interception season, joins a safety corps that also includes Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett. With Burnett scheduled to become a free agent next offseason, Jones could be the Packers’ long-term answer at strong safety.
Seahawks third-rounder Nazair Jones, the 102nd pick, is now under contract. The former North Carolina defensive tackle, more of a run-stopping factor than a pass rusher, produced 22 tackles for loss and five sacks in three seasons with the Tar Heels. Jones is one of two interior D-linemen the Seahawks used a high pick on, as he followed second-rounder Malik McDowell.
The Cardinals have signed fourth-round guard Dorian Johnson, the 115th pick. Johnson was a dominant guard at Pittsburgh, starting in 39 straight games and capping off his Panthers career in 2016 with first-team All-America honors. Arizona already has an established starter at Johnson’s college position, left guard, in Mike Iupati, but it’s not nearly as well off on the right. As of now, 2016 fifth-rounder Cole Toner is penciled in as the starter.
One of Johnson’s college teammates at Pitt, offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty, officially became a member of the Giants on Friday. The 200th overall pick started at left tackle in each of his four years at Pitt, where he earned a first-team all-ACC nod last season. Bisnowaty is likely to end up on the right side in the pros, per NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who notes that he has the ceiling of a low-end starter.
The Browns were the club most frequently connected to new Bears’ QB Mitch Trubisky prior to the draft, but Chicago made the surprising decision to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick and nab the former UNC signal-caller, and then Patrick Mahomes came off the board before Cleveland could nab him with the No. 12 overall selection. So the Browns dealt that pick and waited until the the second round to get a quarterback, selecting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, whose stock slipped over the last few months but who certainly has first-round ability.
As Tony Grossi of ESPN.com writes, the Browns are open to having Kizer start right away. Head coach Hue Jackson said, “If he can handle [starting], great. We are not going to say, ‘No, you can’t play,’ if he is ready to play.”
Now for more fallout from the 2017 draft:
The Lions did not select a running back in this year’s draft, and as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, GM Bob Quinn stated afterwards that Ameer Abdullah, who missed almost all of 2016 with a foot injury, will be the team’s starting back going into 2017.
The Cardinals landed guard Dorian Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, even though his talent level should have made him a Day 2 selection. Johnson has a liver condition that made a number of clubs wary of making him a second- or third-round choice, and Johnson’s agent, Joe Panos, took exception to his client’s slide, saying, “I had GMs tell me they couldn’t risk a 2nd or 3rd on Dorian due to the recent discovery of a liver condition he’s had since birth, even though his heptalogist said his condition will in no way affect his ability to play. Teams couldn’t risk a high pick on him. Yet every year I see teams risk high picks on guys with serious character issues. Bad guys. They’ll take risks on those guys because his coaches ‘vouched’ for him. [A coach’s] word is gold. But Dorian’s heptalogist, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?” (alllinksgotoTwitter via ESPN’s Adam Caplan).
New Broncos tight end Jake Butt slipped to the top of the fifth round of this year’s draft due to an ACL injury he suffered in his final collegiate game (prior to the injury, he was projected to be picked at the top of the second round). But before the 2016 college season, Butt purchased a loss-of-value policy that partially compensated him for the money he lost due to his draft slide, as Darren Rovell of ESPN.com writes. Had Butt been selected at the top of the second round, he would have earned $4MM guaranteed, but as an early fifth-rounder, he is guaranteed only $380K. The insurance policy paid out roughly $900K (pre-tax), so the injury ended up costing Butt a little shy of $2.8MM. These loss-of-value policies have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Jaylon Smith are two of the more notable recent beneficiaries of such policies.
The Jaguars acquired Branden Albert earlier this offseason, but GM Dave Caldwell said second-round draft pick Cam Robinson will compete with Albert for the starting left tackle job (via Hays Carlyon of 1010XL). Albert has been absent from voluntary workouts as he seeks a new contract, though if he proves to be the best man for the job, Caldwell did indicate that Robinson could move, at least temporarily, to guard.
The Jaguars selected Oklahoma wideout Dede Westbrook in the fourth round yesterday despite his two domestic violence arrests that caused some teams to remove him from their boards completely. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, one AFC area scout said of Westbrook, “No thoughts. It is what it is. He’s a degenerate.”
Here are some notes from around the league on the final Sunday before the Scouting Combine.
Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union examines a few reasons why the recently traded Julius Thomas did not meet expectations with the Jaguars. Citing a league source, O’Halloran says that Thomas’ Jacksonville tenure was marred by the fact that he did not make enough downfield catches, that he did not create enough yards after the catch, and that he performed poorly as a blocker. Still, O’Halloran believes the Jags should not have dealt Thomas, as he says they are not in position to part with talented players, regardless of their flaws.
The Saints have expressed their desire to bolster their pass rush this offseason, and Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune notes that New Orleans, for the first time in a while, has money to spend in free agency. Holder adds that New Orleans would probably be willing to make a splash for a big-name pass rusher like Melvin Ingram, though if Ingram gets the franchise tag from the Chargers, or if his price becomes too rich for the Saints’ liking, Holder points to Nick Perry as a quality alternative.
The NFL rule that keeps incoming draft picks with certain types of past off-field misconduct away from all league-sponsored events — like the Scouting Combine — is coming under increased scrutiny, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Florio observes that teams will evaluate all players regardless of whether they are invited to the Combine, but they nonetheless prefer that the players be available in one place at the same time. As such, the competition committee could address the issue later this year, either by modifying the current rule or by scrapping it entirely, and any changes could be effective as soon as 2018.
Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com believes that as many as three guards could go in the first round of this year’s draft, with Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson, Indiana’s Dan Feeney, and Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp all looking like players that could be among the top 32 selected. Pauline notes that the offensive line as a unit is probably the weakest area of the draft, which means that some of the higher-rated prospects — like Lamp, whom Pauline does not believe is worthy of a first-round selection — and even those with middle-round grades will be overdrafted.
The general belief is that this year’s offensive line crop is weak, and that will lead to some of the better prospects in this year’s class to be overdrafted. Right now, it seems like as many as three guards could be taken in the first round. Dorian Johnson of Pittsburgh is generally regarded as this year’s best guard with Indiana’s Dan Feeney behind him. If a third guard sneaks into the first round, it’ll be Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky, multiple insiders tell Pauline. Lamp played left tackle for the Hilltoppers but he is commonly projected to guard or possibly center.
Texas running back D’Onta Foreman of Texas has been running in the low-to-mid 4.5s in the 40-yard-dash, a solid time for a 235-pound RB. Pauline believes that he is an underrated pass-catcher and can offer more than just his powerful downhill running skills.
Central Florida cornerback Shaquill Griffin is ready to run “an elite time,” trainers tell Pauline, which means clocking in under 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard-dash. At 6’1″, Griffin also has the height to succeed as an NFL cornerback.