Drew Lock

Draft Rumors: QBs, Tackles, Contracts

The 2019 group of draft-eligible quarterbacks is beginning to endure some scrutiny in advance of a pivotal stretch. One view of this collection of passers makes it look rather bleak, a crew featuring no clear frontrunner and possibly no prospects worthy of a surefire first-round pick. Another, via Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, indicates there’s some potential promise here. Oregon’s Justin Herbert rates as Miller’s top quarterback, and Drew Lock of Missouri has generated Josh Allen comparisons from scouts because of his arm strength and debatable accuracy. Miller writes, however, that with 13 teams having spent first-round picks on QBs over the past four years — with Dak Prescott essentially upping that number to 14, since he’s entrenched as the Cowboys’ starter — fewer teams will need quarterbacks in 2019 than they did in 2018. At least, fewer franchises will be willing to invest in one in the first round, which could create a scenario where a better group of prospects (which is possible for the ’19 contingent, per Miller) but fewer Round 1 investments.

Here’s more from the draft world:

  • Herbert also generated praise from NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, who referred to the Ducks’ current starter as a player with franchise QB-level talent whose mobility, accuracy and abundance of pro throws already on film make him a prototype player NFL OCs are looking to install as offensive centerpieces. Regarding Lock, Brooks writes his 54.5 percent career completion rate shouldn’t be as alarming as Allen’s accuracy issues became for teams. Brooks calls the senior-to-be a pinpoint passer who could well be the 2019 draft’s QB1.
  • In general, evaluators are excited about next year’s draft. One AFC team’s college scouting director told Miller the prospects likely to be eligible for 2019 draft picks collectively comprise a talent pool that’s “10 times better than” 2018’s. With teams less than enamored by the past two tackle classes, Miller notes the next one has scouts labeling three players as possible top-10 picks. The top player in the minds of many scouts is Alabama’s Jonah Williams, per Miller. Ole Miss’ Greg Little and Washington’s Trey Adams are the other two currently classified as possible top-10 choices next year.
  • The 2018 class has seen many of its draft choices sign, but offset language and bonus structure may well delay deals for this year’s top five, Mike Klis of 9News writes. Players’ signing bonus values are already locked in, but when the money is paid is a sticking point for some teams. Half of the rookies’ bonuses must be paid within 30 days, with Klis noting teams like to delay the rest of the cash in installments within a year of the signing date. With agents trying to accelerate the pay schedule, Klis expects some of this draft’s top players to wait until camps near to sign due to this largely minor issue.

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.