Hayden Hurst

North Notes: Hundley, K. White, Hurst

Although many have assumed that the Packers will keep DeShone Kizer on their final roster — after all, Kizer is just one year removed from being a second-round draft pick, and Green Bay liked him enough to trade for him this offseason — Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com believe the Packers should keep Brett Hundley and cut Kizer if it comes to that. Baranczyk and Dougherty say the game has slowed more for Hundley than it has for Kizer, and the fact that Green Bay recently traded for Kizer should not be a factor in the team’s decision (after all, the Packers were likely to cut Damarious Randall anyway if Cleveland hadn’t been willing to deal Kizer for him). Ideally, the Packers would be able to swing a trade for one of Hundley or Kizer, but failing that, the Packers News scribes think GM Brian Gutekunst should stick with Hundley, who did not play very well in relief of the injured Aaron Rodgers last year.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s North divisions:

  • Wide receivers Kevin White and Javon Wims both improved their chances of making the Bears‘ 53-man roster during Chicago’s preseason victory over Kansas City last night, as Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. White, of course, was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft — and GM Ryan Pace‘s first-ever draft choice — but injuries have almost completely wiped out the first three years of his NFL career. Wims was a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft, and Jahns believes the Bears should keep both players and six receivers overall, including Josh Bellamy.
  • Although Mackensie Alexander is battling an ankle injury, he is expected to start as the Vikings‘ slot corner — and “quarterback of the defense” in head coach Mike Zimmer‘s scheme — if he is healthy, as Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports. However, first-round rookie Mike Hughes — who is also battling an undisclosed injury — has been pushing for first-team reps, which is fairly remarkable when considering that he did not play in the slot in college. Hughes could overtake Alexander down the line, but in any case, Minnesota appears to be well-set at the position in the long-term. Alexander, a 2016 second-rounder, has made tremendous strides in his third summer with the club.
  • Though they had been enjoying an injury- and drama-free offseason, the Ravens have been hit hard with unwelcome news over the past few days. They lost rookie TE Hayden Hurst for three-to-four weeks, they saw star CB Jimmy Smith suspended for four games — though they at least knew that was coming — and now Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic has more bad news to report. Zrebiec tweets that emerging third-year defensive tackle Willie Henry will miss several weeks with a hernia, while promising rookie safety DeShon Elliott may be out for the season with a forearm injury. Zrebiec adds that the recent spate of bad luck will impact Baltimore’s initial roster construction, because while the team will likely carry Hurst and Henry on the 53-man roster until they are ready to return, the Ravens may need to keep an extra tight end and defensive lineman until that happens (Twitter link). Elliott, meanwhile, is an IR candidate. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Henry had surgery for his hernia and Hurst has had surgery for the stress fracture in his foot (Twitter links).
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants to keep six wide receivers on the team’s regular-season roster, as Steve Doerschuk of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins make up four of those six wideouts, while sixth-round rookie Damion Ratley also stands a good chance. That means veteran Jeff Janis and relative unknowns Derrick WilliesDa’Mari Scott, and C.J. Board could be fighting it out for the last spot.

Ravens TE Hayden Hurst To Miss 3-4 Weeks

Ravens rookie tight end Hayden Hurst is likely to miss three-to-four weeks while dealing with a stress fracture in his foot, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Hurst will undergo a procedure today to insert a screw in his foot.

Given his timeline, Hurst won’t be available for Baltimore when the regular season gets underway, and could potentially miss multiple games. But because he’s not expected to miss half the year or more, Hurst isn’t a realistic candidate to be placed on injured reserve/designated to return. Instead, the Ravens will simply hold Hurst on their roster until he recovers.

Hurst was one of two tight ends Baltimore selected in the 2018 draft, as the club added Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews in the third round after picking Hurst on Day 1. With Hurst out of the picture for the time being, Andrews figures to line up as the Ravens’ move tight end, while Nick Boyle is likely to see the most action as a blocker. Fourth-year pro Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle, and Darren Waller are also candidates to stick on Baltimore’s roster.

Hurst, the 25th overall selection and one of two Ravens first-round picks (joining quarterback Lamar Jackson), posted 44 receptions, 559 yards, and two touchdowns during his junior season at South Carolina. A former minor league baseball player, Hurst will already be 25 years old when the 2018 campaign begins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Sign First-Round TE Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have agreed to sign rookie tight end Hayden Hurst, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). With that signing, the Ravens now have both of their entire draft class wrapped up. 

Hurst, a 6’5″, 250-pound prospect out of South Carolina, initially planned for a career in baseball after the Pirates drafted him in 2012 as a pitcher. After two years in the Gulf Coast League, he walked on with the Gamecocks in 2015. In 2016, he broke out with school records at the position in receptions and tight ends. He followed that up with a similarly strong campaign in 2017, positioning himself as one of the top tight ends in the 2018 class.

Hurst’s detour into baseball made him one of the oldest rookie’s in this year’s class and he’ll celebrate his 25th birthday before the start of the season. However, the Ravens believe the potential is still there. This year, he’ll serve as the Ravens’ top tight end, ahead of Nick Boyle and former second-round selection Maxx Williams.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Ravens’ draft class, via PFR’s tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.

NFL Draft Rumors: Nelson, 49ers, Eagles

Good news for Wisconsin product Nick Nelson. The surgery to fix the cornerback’s torn meniscus was successful and he did not need a full repair, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Because it was not a full repair, he is expected to recover in six weeks rather than 3-4 months and should be ready for training camp. Nelson was projected to come off the board no later than the third round before the injury and he should be in consideration for rounds 2 and 3 once again after the operation.

Here’s a look at the latest NFL Draft news:

  • The 49ers met with Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith on Tuesday, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Smith had 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season and could be a replacement for Reuben Foster, who is embroiled in serious legal trouble stemming from a domestic violence arrest.
  • Iowa center James Daniels, who is widely regarded as the top center in this year’s draft, visited with the Eagles this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. On Tuesday, he’ll meet with Bears before traveling to the 49ers on Wednesday. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com says that Daniels is one of the best center prospects he’s seen in the last five years and has him ranked as the 23rd best prospect overall in this year’s draft.
  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, met with the Lions on Tuesday, Rapoport tweets. If the Lions select Hurst in the first round, that will make three first round tight ends for them in the last ten years, following Brandon Pettigrew (2009) and Eric Ebron (2014).
  • Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander visited the Eagles and Dolphins this week, Rapoport tweets. Alexander is widely projected to be a first round pick and may be the second CB to come off the board after Ohio State’s Denzel Ward.
  • Teams like Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, but the belief that he is a two-down defender and not an adept pass-rusher may keep him out of the Top 10, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com hears.
  • Speaking of Payne, he visited the Redskins on Monday, a source tells ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). Washington owns the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.

NFL Draft Rumors: Rosen, Dolphins, Hurst

Is UCLA star Josh Rosen the top quarterback in this year’s draft? Josh Rosen thinks so.

I’m the best QB in the draft,” Rosen told Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine. “A lot of guys are flashier, but I think I’m the most efficient, monotonously consistent QB in this draft. Rodgers has some flair, but if you watch Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, there’s nothing that’s explosive or Johnny Manziel — like. It’s just quarterbacking.”

Rosen has gotten some flack for his willingness to speak on social issues and interests outside of the game of football, but he says that he is focused on winning games and titles at the next level.

Here’s more draft news:

  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst had dinner with Dolphins brass on Tuesday night and has a top 30 visit with the team on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Dolphins are in need of a tight end as Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano remain unsigned. Hurst, a former pro baseball player who walked on as a tight end for the Gamecocks, may have the most upside of any tight end in this year’s draft.
  • Key members of the Seahawks brass including GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll spent Tuesday at Arizona St. privately working out Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk, Rapoport tweets. The Seahawks lost Paul Richardson to free agency this year and could use an impact player like Kirk to replace him. For now, Seattle projects to start Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett and also have offseason pickups Jaron Brown and Marcus Johnson in the mix. With the No. 19 pick in their possession, the Seahawks could be in range for the Aggies star.

NFL Draft Rumors: Jackson, Patriots, Rudolph

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson may have erred by opting to go through the NFL draft process without an agent, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com writes. Jackson will avoid paying a portion of his rookie deal to a representative, but in an effort to save some cash, he could be hurting his draft position, which would negate the savings on the standard 1.5% fee.

Reportedly, Jackson struggled in breaking down X’s and O’s on the white board in meetings with teams and his Wonderlic score was poor. Some say the Wonderlic is meaningless, but some execs still use it as part of their evaluation process and an agent would have had him prepped for the test and other aspects of team interviews. An agent would also help to push the narrative that Jackson should be considered above some of this year’s top quarterbacks, including USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

Ultimately, Jackson’s decision will look like a smart one if he winds up going in the top half of the first round, Corry argues. But, based on what we’ve heard so far, that doesn’t seem likely. It’s notable that the Texans, who are already armed with a star QB in Deshaun Watson and don’t pick until the third round, recently had a private workout with Jackson.

Here’s more NFL draft news:

  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst will visit the Panthers on Friday Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Carolina owns the No. 24 overall pick and they could use that selection to give themselves a potent tight end with receiving ability. Greg Olsen will start for the Panthers this season, but he is 33 and entering a contract year. In the past, Olsen has fought for a revamped deal, so it’s conceivable that he will look to push the market next March. Even if Olsen is retained beyond 2018, the Panthers need to consider the future of the tight end position.
  • The Patriots, who now own two first-round picks, recently had a private workout with Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, Rapoport tweets. Rudolph hasn’t garnered as much attention as this year’s top four QBs, but he is a potential first-rounder. Rapoport hears that he has been extremely busy with meetings and workouts, a possible sign that his stock is climbing.
  • Rudolph will also have a top 30 visit with the Bills this weekend, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The Bills own picks at 12 and 22, so he could be in the mix for one of those spots. Rudolph has also met with or had workouts for the Chargers, Saints, Giants, Steelers, and Bengals.

Draft Rumors: Mayfield, Jets, Vea, TEs, Bears

A number of NFL insiders anticipate, in the event Sam Darnold is off the board, the Jets will use their No. 3 overall pick on Baker Mayfield, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reports. The Jets have already conducted a private workout with the 2017 Heisman Trophy recipient and are scheduled to meet with him next week. And plenty of Mayfield-to-New York buzz has emerged already. They’re among the seven teams that will do so, but Gang Green could have the inside track on Mayfield if the Browns turn to Darnold or Josh Allen. And several league execs and scouts expect the Giants to take Darnold if Allen goes to Cleveland. Pauline adds that if Rosen is on the board and the Jets draft Mayfield, they would be making a “colossal mistake.”

Here’s the latest from a busy Monday in the draft world. A lot of flights are being scheduled for top prospects.

  • Arguably the top linebacker in this draft, Roquan Smith has visits scheduled with the Colts and Bears, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Hill adds the Cowboys are not tabbed to meet with the Georgia linebacker. The Colts and Bears hold picks 6 and 8, respectively, and Smith has been mocked to teams either in that range or shortly after.
  • The tight end contingent has begun making key trips recently. Hayden Hurst is visiting the Jaguars on Tuesday, and the Saints have already put the South Carolina pass-catcher through a workout, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. Meanwhile, the Vikings will host South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert on a visit beginning Tuesday night, per Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com (on Twitter).
  • Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson will visit the Bears and Dolphins, with the Chicago trip coming first, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. An expected first-round pick, Jackson will meet with the Bears today.
  • Three more teams intend to visit with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) the Packers and Buccaneers will host the mammoth lineman. The Cowboys are already scheduled to meet with Vea, and Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes Vea will visit the Browns as well. The four-year Huskies cog rates as the top interior defender in the draft, per Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com.
  • The Browns are also meeting with Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst. In line to be a second-generation NFLer, Hurst said during a Sirius XM Radio appearance (via Ulrich) he will meet with the Browns. Hurst was discovered to have a heart condition at the Combine but has since been cleared. The Michigan talent could be an option for the Browns in the second round, with the team holding picks 33 and 35.
  • San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny is meeting with the Broncos today, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). Denver has yet to make a decision on C.J. Anderson, who has a nonguaranteed $4.4MM salary this season. Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson represent depth behind Anderson, although Booker frequently saw action upon returning from injury last season.

Draft Rumors: Browns, Allen, Jets, Giants

Baker Mayfield will be the first of the big four passers to visit the Browns. The Oklahoma product is flying into Cleveland on Monday night to begin his visit, one that will last through Tuesday as well, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. Josh Allen‘s meeting at Browns headquarters in Berea, Ohio, will commence on Wednesday, Cabot reports, and Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold are coming in shortly after that. Three of these powwows are expected to be completed by the end of this week, with Cabot reporting one may occur early next week. Hue Jackson said last week he is “very close” to determining which of these QBs will be his preference going into the draft. The Browns are widely expected to select a quarterback at No. 1 overall. John Dorsey said he wants these QBs to visit consecutively to allow for easier comparisons between them.

Mayfield will visit the Giants and Jets next week, and both he and Rosen are meeting with seven teams. The only difference between these prospects’ schedules thus far is the Dolphins have not arranged a Rosen meetup, while the Chargers have, and the Bolts are not known to have set up a Mayfield summit.

Here’s more out of Cleveland and some other NFL cities as draft month begins.

  • Jets representatives will fly to Wyoming to work out Allen this week, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), before the 6-foot-5 signal-caller visits their Florham Park, N.J., facility shortly after. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the Jets meeting will take place early this week as well. The Jets have been connected to Allen for months and were rumored to be planning a workout soon.
  • The Allen/Browns connection should not be dismissed, Rapoport notes (video link). Citing a source who’s known Dorsey for a long time, the new Cleveland GM has long preferred big-armed passers. Patrick Mahomes qualifies as the latest such investment, and although the former NFL linebacker was not a high-ranking Packers exec when they traded for Brett Favre in 1992, Dorsey was a scout for Green Bay at the time. He was with the Packers as their director of college scouting when the team made the Aaron Rodgers pick in 2005. Alex Smith is the outlier, but the Chiefs held the No. 1 pick in a 2013 draft that was not flush with quarterback upside. Allen is viewed as the top arm talent in this draft.
  • Should the Browns make this decision and bring Allen to northeast Ohio, the expectation is the Giants will draft Darnold. Surveying various executives and scouts, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets every one of them said the Giants would take Darnold if Allen goes to the Browns. Dave Gettleman has not been as direct as Dorsey and Jackson have about the position his team is targeting in Round 1, and it’s not certain the Giants are going to draft a quarterback despite theirs having recently turned 37.
  • Lamar Jackson will not count toward one of the Dolphins‘ 30 visits since he went to high school in the Miami area, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The Dolphins have not been linked to a Jackson meeting just yet, but they were on hand at the Louisville phenom’s pro day. And since a meeting will be fairly easy to set up, it’s likely the Fins will host the dual-threat passer.
  • Hayden Hurst will visit the Jaguars on Tuesday, Rapoport tweets. Rated by many as the top tight end in this year’s class, the South Carolina product will meet with a team that just released one of its cornerstone players in Marcedes Lewis. Jacksonville has been busy at this position this offseason, agreeing to deals with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul. But the team looks to be exploring the notion of further investing at tight end with the No. 29 overall pick.

Draft Rumors: Patriots, Jets, Darnold, TEs

Despite using second- and third-round draft choices on quarterbacks in recent years, the Patriots are still reaping the benefits of their 2000 sixth-round investment. But with Tom Brady going into his age-41 season, Robert Kraft knows quarterback plans have to be front and center now that Jimmy Garoppolo is out of the picture. The owner said the team has to think about drafting another passer this year.

I’m going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to,” Kraft said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com) regarding how high of a priority finding a quarterback in this draft is. “Not just that, but think what happened in the ’08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season?

“I put my faith and confidence in Bill (Belichick). He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in (and is in) tip-top shape.”

Brian Hoyer is under contract for two more seasons on a three-year, $4.82MM deal. Both he and Brady’s contracts run through 2019.

Here’s the latest from the draft world as we begin draft month.

  • Expected to select a quarterback at No. 3 overall, the Jets are going to be spending some key hours with prospects this month. They’ve already worked out Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield, and Mike Maccagnan has plans to arrange some for-Jets-eyes-only throwing for Josh Allen, Calvin Watkins of Newsday reports. However, the Jets GM does not plan to schedule a private workout for Sam Darnold. Maccagnan watched Darnold play in person at USC, when the Trojans faced Rosen’s UCLA Bruins in November, and attended his pro day. Nevertheless, it’s interesting the Jets won’t use every avenue they have to evaluate Darnold, even if he’s been the quarterback most closely connected to the Browns at No. 1. The Jets have been closely tied to Allen for months.
  • Longtime Browns reporter Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer does not anticipate any Jets/Darnold prep work mattering, expecting the Browns to take the USC product at No. 1. She notes the team is close to settling on a consensus for what to do with that seminal selection. Hue Jackson said that process is winding down as well.
  • It’s looking like South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst will be the first tight end selected in this year’s draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein notes. One NFL personnel man said it “wasn’t even close” between Hurst and the field, which also includes Penn State’s Mike Gesicki and South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert. Zierlein writes Gesicki still has a chance to be a first-round pick after a take-notice Combine but adds it’s becoming clear TE-needy teams will gravitate toward Hurst, who is a top prospect despite catching just three touchdown passes with the Gamecocks in three seasons.
  • It’s not outside the realm of possibility that four quarterbacks could go in the top four, should a team trade with the Browns and move into the No. 4 slot, but NFL.com’s Chad Reuter sees one of the passers being available by the time the Bears pick at No. 8. Reuter suggests the Saints as being the team that trades into that draft slot and selects Mayfield, nearly mirroring the move the Chiefs made (from No. 27 to No. 10) last year to take Patrick Mahomes. Mayfield’s 6-foot frame being similar to Drew Brees and his profile as a player who could use some developmental time would line up with the Saints, who would have to almost certainly surrender their 2019 first-rounder and then some to move from 27 to 8.