Garett Bolles

West Notes: Bolles, Bucannon, Chiefs, Hawks

Despite the Broncos fearing multiple severe injuries for left tackle Garett Bolles, the rookie suited up for practice on Thursday and has a chance to play against the Bills. Vance Joseph (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post) said the team thought Bolles’ injury, determined to be a bruise on his lower left leg, was more serious than it ended up being. Joseph said the first-round pick is “getting better fast” but is obviously hesitant about proclaiming him ready to return to the starting lineup. Bolles has fared well in his first two games, prior to being carted off in the third quarter of the Broncos’ Week 2 win.

Bolles said he also “thought it was serious” and will not rush back. Denver’s bye comes in Week 5, so holding Bolles out for two games would make sense. But his return to practice, on a limited basis, so soon bodes well for a possible return against the Bills or Raiders before the week off.

Donald Stephenson initially received the call to replace Bolles at left tackle Sunday, but utility man Allen Barbre ended up seeing more time there. Barbre and Max Garcia were alternating at left guard, but the veteran played tackle with the Eagles at times in recent years and provides versatility if the Broncos aren’t keen on throwing Stephenson — whom they replaced at right tackle in free agency with Menelik Watson — back out there. Bolles represents the fourth left tackle starter in four seasons for the Broncos, who have also seen numerous players line up with the first-stringers on the right edge in that time.

Here’s more from the Western divisions prior to tonight’s NFC West matchup.

  • Deone Bucannon‘s lengthy recovery from an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated just before Week 1, could produce the Cardinals inside linebacker returning to action in Week 3, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic notes (on Twitter). Bruce Arians said (via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com) Bucannon’s “getting real close” to returning but would be on a snap count if he did so against the Cowboys. The Cards have used Karlos Dansby and first-rounder Haason Reddick as starters while Bucannon’s been out. Bucannon underwent surgery in May.
  • Speaking of injury returns, it sounds like the Chiefs are planning to make cornerback Steven Nelson one of their IR-boomerang players. The third-year corner is eligible to come off IR in Week 9, and Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star notes that return is likely. For the time being, the Chiefs have gotten by with 2016 practice squad promotion Terrance Mitchell operating as Marcus Peters‘ top complement. However, Pro Football Focus rates Mitchell and Phillip Gaines — the former third-round pick whom Mitchell usurped late last season — as its Nos. 96 and 100 full-time cornerbacks through two games. A core muscle injury sidelined Nelson, K.C.’s primary slot defender last season.
  • Do the Seahawks miss Jermaine Kearse? Seattle’s offense has largely sputtered in its first two games, and Doug Baldwin does see a hole where Kearse — traded to the Jets for Sheldon Richardson — departed. “Specifically on the football field, just the intricacies that he did in our offense, guys aren’t used to doing it, they didn’t have to do them, because Jermaine was so willing and able to do it, now guys are being called to do those things and that is another challenge for us,” Baldwin said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Paul Richardson and third-round rookie Amara Darboh are seeing more time, Richardson especially, after Kearse’s exit. Baldwin leads Seattle’s wideout contingent with 107 air yards; no other Hawks pass-catcher has 80.

West Notes: Hawks, 49ers, Chiefs, Broncos

Jimmy Graham isn’t a lock to be ready when the Seahawks face the Titans on Sunday after going down with an ankle injury, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Seattle has scored only 21 points through two games, and Graham has contributed to that offensive ineptitude by posting just four catches for nine total yards. If Graham is out next week, the Seahawks will turn to Luke Willson and Nick Vannett at tight end.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions, with a focus on injury news:

  • The 49ers will be without safety Eric Reid on Thursday night as he recovers from a PCL injury, and the 25-year-old defensive back will likely miss additional games, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, including Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Luckily, Reid won’t require surgery on his injury knee, limiting the period of his absence. Reid, who’s playing in his contract season, missed six games in 2016 following a biceps tear.
  • Center Mitch Morse suffered a foot sprain during Sunday’s Chiefs game, but an MRI revealed that he won’t require surgery, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Nevertheless, Morse will be sidelined for a “few weeks” as he recovers, per Rapoport. Morse, 25, has started 33 contests in two-plus years with Kansas City, but the club will now be forced to turn to other options. Zach Fulton took over at the pivot yesterday, while recent trade acquisition Cameron Erving could also be a candidate for snaps. The Chiefs face the Chargers, Redskins, Texans, and Steelers over the next month.
  • The Broncos are breathing a sigh of relief — after initially fearing rookie left tackle Garett Bolles broke his foot on Sunday, Denver learned that Bolles has only a bone bruise, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bolles is now considered week-to-week, which almost assuredly means he’ll be sidelined for the Broncos’ Week 3 contest against the Bills. Both Donald Stephenson and Allen Barbre played left tackle in Bolles’ absence yesterday, and both will likely be options for Denver going forward.

Broncos Worried Garett Bolles Broke Ankle

Garett Bolles left the Broncos’ blowout win over the Cowboys because of a leg injury and used crutches to walk out of the stadium. The team is worried about a possible severe injury.

The Broncos fear their starting left tackle broke his left ankle, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). They’re hoping it’s a high-ankle sprain. The first-round pick will undergo an MRI on Monday morning, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. Bolles exited the stadium in a walking boot, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post relays (Twitter link).

The X-rays weren’t conclusive, Cole notes, and Mike Klis of 9News tweets Bolles does not have an Achilles injury. Bolles has helped the Broncos out to a 2-0 start behind an offense that’s looked much better than it did for much of last season. The Utah product is already 25, despite being a rookie, so a lengthy absence would deprive him of much of a prime season.

Donald Stephenson entered the game for Bolles, but the Broncos used different combinations up front due to multiple injuries. Allen Barbre, who has seen time at tackle in recent years, lined up there as well. Denver traded Ty Sambrailo to the Falcons before the season and cut Michael Schofield, leaving its tackle corps thinner.

The Broncos allowed Russell Okung to depart in free agency after a middling year and used their first-round pick on Bolles, the first tackle they’ve taken in Round 1 in nine years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Sign First-Round Pick Garett Bolles

The Broncos have agreed to terms with first-round tackle Garett Bolles, Mike Klis of 9NEWS tweets. Per the terms of his slot, it’s a four-year deal worth more than $11MM. Bolles’ signing bonus is worth more than $6MM. Garett Bolles (vertical)

Bolles was viewed by many as the best tackle in this year’s draft and he was the first offensive lineman to come off the board when the Broncos selected him at No. 20 overall. In a draft full of surprises, Bolles to the Broncos was one of only a handful of picks that the prognosticators got right. Denver was in desperate need of a left tackle and they got a player who they feel can hold down the position for years to come.

If Garett turns out to be what we think he is, he solves a big problem for us for a long time — and that’s that left tackle [position],” Elway said. “We really feel like we were fortunate that he was there.”

The Broncos signed a pair of late draft picks on Wednesday, including this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Notes: OL, Blount, Engram, Mahomes

The Giants exit draft weekend without many questions about their defense, but their offense has a few. Mainly, Big Blue’s offensive line may still have some issues, particularly after the blocking prospect the team preferred, Garett Bolles, went just before New York made its first-round selection. The Giants were hoping the Broncos, whose left tackle need is probably bigger than theirs since former first-rounder Ereck Flowers is an option in New York, would bypass Bolles in favor of Ryan Ramczyk or Cam Robinson, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. Multiple sources told Vacchiano the Giants zeroed in on Bolles at No. 23, but Jerry Reese has not made a first-round draft maneuver — up or down — in his 11 years leading the franchise.

With Vacchiano noting the Giants were not as high on Ramczyk or Robinson, the Giants moved on. They did not select an offensive lineman until the sixth round, though, which is interesting for a team that has concerns — per the New York-embedded reporter — about Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and newly signed D.J. Fluker entering contract years. Earlier this month, Reese said the positions up front weren’t solidified. So, the statuses of Flowers and Fluker, who played right tackle and right guard with the Chargers, are probably yet to be determined.

Here’s more from the Giants, courtesy of Vacchiano.

  • Multiple sources refuted talk of the Giants wanting to trade up to No. 10 to select Patrick Mahomes, who went to the Chiefs after they made a 17-spot jump. The Giants would have been willing to consider Mahomes at No. 23, per Vacchiano. But with Eli Manning likely to play out his contract as the team’s starter, and he’s signed through 2019, using a first-rounder on a quarterback may not have made much sense.
  • LeGarrette Blount was linked to the Giants on multiple occasions earlier this month, but the team’s selection of Clemson running back Wayne Gallman in the fourth round may have closed that avenue for the 30-year-old Blount. The Giants, though, haven’t moved on from the prospect of adding Blount, Vacchiano reports. However, it looks like they are going with a backfield depth chart that houses Gallman, Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen and Shaun Draughn.
  • The Giants opted to select Evan Engram over David Njoku, doing so despite the Miami product receiving a bit more pre-draft hype, and that pick was viewed by some as a reach. But Vacchiano notes buzz swirled about a team trying to trade up in front of the Giants to select Engram, identifying the Bills and Falcons as interested suitors. The Browns traded back into the first round to take Njoku, so they may have been in on this pursuit as well. Njoku was scheduled to visit the Giants earlier this month, but the team cancelled the meeting.
  • A jump in front of the Buccaneers or Broncos for the right to take O.J. Howard, whom the Giants “loved,” or Bolles would have cost the team a third-round pick, Vacchiano reports. The Giants stood tight at 23, viewing Engram and third-round pick Davis Webb as a better package than either Howard or Bolles.
  • Webb’s addition makes Geno Smith‘s place in New York odd, with Vacchiano writing the former Jets starter is almost certain to open camp on the PUP list and is a likely candidate for the Reserve/PUP come the regular season. Smith is recovering from a torn ACL and is signed through 2017 only. Vacchiano views returning backup Josh Johnson as the favorite to beat out Smith for a job. This could end up being a paid rehab year for the fifth-year passer, especially considering Manning hasn’t missed a start since becoming the starting quarterback in 2004.

Albert Breer On Foster, Trubisky, Watson

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz from Albert Breer of The MMQB. All links go to Twitter:

  • Teams were aware of some drug history for linebacker Reuben Foster at Alabama and that wasn’t considered a big deal until his watered down combine test (link). Now, however, that history has taken on a different context. Depending on who you ask, Foster could be in for a draft day slide similar to Myles Jack in 2016.
  • Breer envisions a run on offensive linemen Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp, and Garett Bolles, and that may trigger some teams to trade up into the late teens (link). This year’s draft is thin on OL help and those four players are considered to be the best available.
  • Though it’s not a likelihood, there’s a chance that quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes go in the Top 15 (link).
  • The NFL at large likes Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey and USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson more than the public realizes (link). To date, most prognostications have them going late in the first round or early in the second. In yesterday’s dueling mock draft, I took Humphrey at No. 13 overall on behalf of the Cardinals.

Pauline’s Latest: Webb, Bolles, Robinson

Cal quarterback Davis Webb is expected to be selected at some point in the middle of Round 2 of the draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Webb has been mentioned as a possible first-round pick, and the dearth of quarterback options could certainly push him up the board. But Day 2 looks more likely, per Pauline, who adds the Jets, Saints, Chargers, and Cardinals have shown the most interest in Pauline thus far. Those final three teams, notably, currently employ veteran signal-callers, which would allow Webb at least one year of development.

Here’s more on the 2017 draft, all courtesy of Pauline:

  • While Garett Bolles is reportedly considered the top offensive lineman by some clubs, the Utah product may ultimately slip into the second round, reports Pauline. That would certainly be surprising, especially given that the 2017 offensive tackle class is considered especially weak (meaning top options such as Bolles should come at a premium). The clubs most heavily linked to Bolles are the Broncos, Giants, Raiders, and Texans, says Pauline. Bolles’ age is the one key factor working against him, as he’ll already be 25 years old when the upcoming season begins.
  • If the Ravens don’t trade down from No. 16, Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson is expected to in consideration, per Pauline. After losing right tackle Ricky Wagner during the free agent period, Baltimore could use another offensive lineman to help protect Joe Flacco. Given the presence of 2016 first-rounder Ronnie Stanley, Robinson would presumably play on the right side for the Ravens (though he could conceivably play guard, as well). Meanwhile, if Baltimore does trade down, the team would probably target UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley, whom Pauline says is a favorite of general manager Ozzie Newsome.
  • The Packers are gearing up to select Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt in the first round, a team source tells Pauline. Zach Links sent Watt to Green Bay in at pick No. 29 in PFR’s live mock draft earlier today. Watt, who managed 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2016, is a local product, as he hails from Pewaukee, Wisconsin and spent three seasons with the Badgers. The Packers re-signed edge defender Nick Perry last month, but could still use another outside linebacker, especially if the move Clay Matthews Jr. back inside.

Falcons, Seahawks Mulling Draft Pick Trade?

The Falcons and Seahawks are discussing a trade that would send the No. 26 overall selection to Atlanta in exchange for No. 31 and a fourth-round pick, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com.Charles Harris (Vertical)

In making the deal, the Falcons would move ahead of the Steelers, Packers, and Cowboys in order to draft Missouri DE Charles Harris (or, presumably, another highly-rated edge defender if Harris is off the board). Atlanta has been linked to defensive ends throughout the predraft process, and Harris — who’s stock has seemingly risen over the past several weeks — would make for a worthwhile target.

Seattle, meanwhile, would move back five spots while picking up a fourth-round pick, per Pauline — that fourth-rounder would be pick No. 136. After trading down, the Seahawks would go after an offensive lineman, and Utah’s Garett Bolles has been mentioned as a possible pick, according to Pauline. Bolles, however, is considered one of the top offensive line prospect in this year’s class, and there is no guarantee he’ll be on the board at No. 31.

The two clubs presumably won’t make the deal until the day of the draft, and only then if their respective potential targets are still available. The presence of Falcons head coach Dan Quinn (previously the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator) is helping guide talks, per Pauline, and his relationship with Seattle may help a deal get done.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s 2017 Live NFL Mock Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, and Pro Football Rumors is back with its second mock draft of the year. While our initial mock attempted to project what will happen in Round 1, we’ve taken a different approach for mock draft 2.0.

PFR editor Zach Links and I conducted this live mock draft on Tuesday morning, rotating picks and breaking down what we would do were we in charge of these selections. We posted each pick on Twitter, followed by a short explanation of our thought process on this page.

Here’s the complete mock:

1. Cleveland Browns (Zach) – Myles Garrett, LB, Texas A&M

I suspect this is the easiest pick either one of us will make all day. Garrett is the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Browns would be foolish to go in any other direction at the top of the draft.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Dallas) – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Reports that the 49ers are considering a quarterback with the second overall selection stand out as a potential smokescreen, and instead San Francisco uses the No. 2 pick to bolster its defense. Hooker, who recently earned a full medical clearance following combine rechecks, has been commonly linked to the Chargers as a perfect fit for Los Angeles defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme. But the 49ers are running the same defensive look as the Chargers under new DC Robert Saleh, and Hooker would give the team a centerfielder with the upside of an Earl Thomas. San Francisco’s plan to convert nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward to safety won’t stop it from adding Hooker, who is possibly the draft’s No. 2 overall prospect.

3. Chicago Bears (Zach) – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford 

Dallas’ bold pick left my Bears with a golden opportunity. The Bears could go safety or cornerback in this scenario, but the talent of Thomas is too good to pass up. Thomas can be used on both the inside and outside of the Bears’ defensive line and I see him as one of the safest talents on the board.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Dallas) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

No, we didn’t forget the Jaguars used a top-five pick on Jalen Ramsey in 2016 and then handed a $67.5MM contract to A.J. Bouye in free agency last month. But one of Ramsey’s key selling points last year was his versatility: while he’s a shutdown corner at his best, Ramsey can man the slot, cover tight ends, and dabble at safety. As such, adding Conley doesn’t mean Jacksonville is facing cornerback overload, especially given that NFL clubs are in the nickel more than two-thirds of the time. Conley is viewed as a safer prospect than his Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore, and he’d give the Jaguars a Broncos-like secondary.

5. Tennessee Titans (Zach) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans, arguably, get the best cornerback available in the draft even though they are the second team to address the position. No, we don’t have a ton of film to go on for Lattimore, but his combine numbers indicate that he could be a megastar. Few teams in the NFL would have a young cornerback duo like the Titans if they can pair Logan Ryan with Lattimore.Mitch Trubisky Instagram

6. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Jets) (Dallas) – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

In need of a franchise quarterback, the Browns send the No. 12 and No. 52 pick to the Jets in exchange for No. 6 with the intention of drafting Trubisky. It’s a slight overpay for Cleveland (at least, based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s draft value chart, which is likely what the Browns front offices uses), but it does the deal anyway to land a long-term option under center. Given that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly pressing the club to select a quarterback early — and the fact the Cleveland may still be considering Trubisky with the first overall selection — landing the UNC signal-caller at No. 5 for the cost of a mid-second-round pick is a move the Browns can’t pass up.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Zach) – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

In this scenario, it seems like Allen’s subpar workouts have led to a bit of a drop. His size (6’3″) is a bit of a concern, but he has the ability to be an effective defensive end while spending some time on the inside as well. Allen would look great lining up on the opposite end of Joey Bosa.

8. Carolina Panthers (Dallas) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Sitting at pick No. 8, the Panthers certainly have options. General manager Dave Gettleman & Co. could go after a running back like Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey, bring in a young edge rusher to play alongside veterans like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, or even reach for an offensive tackle given Michael Oher‘s health questions. With Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown having defected via free agency, the Panthers need another wideout to pair with Kelvin Benjamin. Enter Davis, who topped 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Zach) – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Foster’s stock, by all accounts, is slipping after he turned in a diluted urine sample and got into an argument with a hospital worker at the combine. However, with other teams in the market for an inside linebacker (like the Jets at No. 12, for example), it would be somewhat risky to trade down into the teens and expect Foster to still be there. The Bengals have been willing to overlook character concerns in the past, so I see no reason why they can’t do the same here and land the Alabama star.

10. Buffalo Bills (Dallas) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU

While the Bills gave Jordan Poyer a four-year deal with $6MM in guarantees earlier this offseason, I’m still not convinced Buffalo views him as a definite starter. Those questions come to the forefront with Adams still on the board, and the Bills don’t hesitate to take the LSU defensive back. With ex-Packer Micah Hyde also in the fold, Buffalo can field one of the more diverse and flexible safety tandems in the league. Adams is viewed as a leader in the locker room, and has been favorably compared to former Cowboys All Pro Darren Woodson by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

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Latest On Giants’ Round 1 Draft Plans

The Giants are “wide open” when it comes to who they’ll pick with the No. 23 pick on Thursday night, a source tells Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Still, Big Blue does have some idea on what they plan to do during Round 1.Cam Robinson (vertical)

New York is widely expected to target offensive line help early in the draft, but it may not come on Day 1, per Vacchiano, as the Giants aren’t high on the top prospects at tackle. Alabama’s Cam Robinson, Utah’s Garett Bolles, and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk all have issues in the eyes of New York, and the club doesn’t necessarily believe any of the three would represent marked improvement over incumbent left tackle Ereck Flowers.

If offensive line isn’t in the works for the Giants in Round 1, tight end could be, although the Giants don’t expect Alabama TE O.J. Howard to reach them. David Njoku (Miami) could be an option, although Vacchiano reports “mixed signals” from New York on the idea of drafting Njoku. Linebacker, too, could be a consideration, although the Giants famously haven’t selected a first-round ‘backer since 1984.

Finally, the Giants aren’t expected to use their first-round pick on an Eli Manning successor, although the team could add a quarterback in the second round, per Vacchiano. Although New York is open to drafting a signal-caller this year, the club “isn’t sold” on the draft’s top passers, reports Vacchiano, so it may look to Day 2 to find a long-term option under center.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.