Hayden Hurst

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Hurst

Were Joe Burrow to be drafted by the Bengals, he wants the team to keep A.J. Green. The Bengals are believed to be zeroing in on the Heisman winner, who told NFL.com’s Jim Trotter he would like Green to be back in Cincinnati — if, in fact, the Bengals follow through on drafting the LSU quarterback (video link). The franchise tag window opens Thursday, and the Bengals have been linked to tagging Green. The nine-year veteran has voiced opposition to this, going into his age-32 season, but said he would play on the tag. However, Green also indicated he would likely miss extensive offseason workouts. An injury last summer shelved Green for all of 2019.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Ravens have seen 2018 third-round tight end Mark Andrews become Lamar Jackson‘s top target, leaving 2018 first-round tight end Hayden Hurst in a strange position. The former minor league baseball player-turned-South Carolina football prospect may be on the trade block, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweeting there is a “real chance” the Ravens trade Hurst. The former Pirates draftee played hurt as a rookie and caught 30 passes for 349 yards last season. Andrews caught 64 passes for a Ravens-most 852 yards in 2019. For what it’s worth, the tight end-needy Patriots have not contacted the Ravens about Hurst, Howe adds (on Twitter), but Hurst may be a name to monitor in Baltimore in the coming weeks.
  • The Browns will meet with Joe Schobert‘s agent at the Combine, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. After being so far apart on terms with ex-GM John Dorsey, Schobert is back in the picture to stay in Cleveland, Cabot adds. New GM Andrew Berry‘s hire has reopened the lines of communication with the Browns’ top tackler. Cleveland already has Christian Kirksey attached to a big contract, but the linebacker has struggled with injuries since signing that extension and may be a cap casualty.
  • David Njoku stands as player who likely would have been gone had Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens stayed in power, Cabot adds. But with Kevin Stefanski planning more two-tight end sets, the 2017 first-round pick looks likelier to stay in Cleveland. Having Berry back doesn’t hurt here, either, with the Sashi Brown-Berry-Paul DePodesta regime being in power when Njoku was drafted.
  • Although Dorsey upgraded the Browns’ talent level, his offensive line acquisitions did not pan out. The Browns will not re-sign Greg Robinson, and 2018 right tackle addition Chris Hubbard may be elsewhere next season as well. However, the Browns will likely spend big on at least one offensive lineman, Cabot adds. Jack Conklin, Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney profile as the top targets who are in line to reach free agency.

Trade Notes: Falcons, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Jets, Redskins, Giants, Eagles, Bills, Packers

Teams continue to ask about Austin Hooper, whose 526 receiving yards sit 11th in the NFL entering Week 8. However, the Falcons have spurned suitors who’ve called about the emerging tight end, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Hooper is in a contract year, but the Falcons believe they have a chance to re-sign him. The Falcons, though, are the team doing the contacting regarding Vic Beasley. Atlanta is shopping its former All-Pro defensive end, who is playing out a $12.8MM fifth-year option. Pass rushers are obviously valuable, but with Beasley’s play having fallen off since that 2016 breakthrough, the return might not be what the Falcons seek.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • The Redskins continue to respond with hard nos when asked about Trent Williams, but Breer adds Josh Norman‘s name has been floated around. With Norman having not lived up to the $15MM-AAV contract he signed in 2016, it would be hard to imagine the Redskins getting much value for the eighth-year cornerback.
  • A cornerback performing better continues to look likelier to stay put. Chris Harris does not expect to be traded, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the Broncos are not as motivated to deal their four-time Pro Bowler as they were to ship out Emmanuel Sanders. A second-round pick would likely be necessary here, per Breer. Considering the Broncos’ issues finding corners as of late, dealing Harris would create a massive offseason need in Denver.
  • The Bengals are 0-7, and A.J. Green continues to come up in trade rumors. But the old-school organization isn’t budging. Mike Brown has not signed off on a firesale, Breer adds, instead preferring to provide first-year HC Zac Taylor with a foundation. That project is not going well so far, with the veteran-laden team performing poorly. Cincinnati’s potential trade chips also include franchise sack leaders Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Neither appears to be a departure candidate. Tyler Eifert is a name Breer mentions could be dealt, but the tight end obviously has a significant injury history that would limit a return.
  • As for the expensive New York corners, Janoris Jenkins has generated more interest than Trumaine Johnson. The Giants have shopped Jenkins around some, per Breer, while Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes it would require “a miracle” for a team to take Johnson’s salary off the Jets‘ payroll. Jenkins is signed through 2020, with $5.37MM remaining in 2019 salary.
  • In addition to the Saints exploring receiver additions, the Bills, Eagles and Packers are as well, Breer notes. This could heat up the Robby Anderson market, but Breer adds Browns wideout Rashard Higgins has been discussed in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. The backup is in a contract year. However, Higgins has battled knee issues and has only played in one 2019 game.
  • With Mark Andrews having outproduced Hayden Hurst, the Ravens have received calls on their 2018 top pick. As of now, however, Hurst is not believed to be available, per Breer.

Ravens TE Hayden Hurst Ready For Training Camp

After a June 25 post on Rotoworld.com indicated that Ravens TE Hayden Hurst was questionable for training camp due to lingering hamstring issues, NBC Sports Washington published a post of its own relaying that message. Hurst succinctly tweeted that he is not, in fact, questionable for training camp, and NBC Sports Washington updated its previous post to say that Hurst will be ready to go when the team reconvenes next month.

That is obviously welcome news for Ravens fans. Much of the attention on the Ravens’ offseason has focused upon the departure of some key defensive players, the development of second-year QB Lamar Jackson, and whether the club will regret relying so heavily on two rookies (Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin) at wide receiver. But for all of those concerns, the club could boast the best TE corps in the league — which would obviously help Jackson’s progress and take some pressure off the rookie wideouts — if Hurst can remain healthy.

Still, that’s a big “if.” Last August, Hurst underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his foot that cost him the first quarter of the 2018 season, and he conceded during a recent interview on 105.7 The Fan that he never felt quite right the rest of the year. Hurst was Baltimore’s first of two first-round draft choices last year, but he was decidedly overshadowed by 2018 third-rounder Mark Andrews, who enjoyed a terrific rookie campaign and who is one of the main sources of optimism for the Ravens’ offense.

Hurst also tweaked his hamstring earlier this month and was held out of an OTA as a result — which gave rise to the apparently erroneous Rotoworld post — but he was a full participant in minicamp and expects to make a big jump in Year 2. In addition to being a smooth route runner with excellent hands, Hurst is a strong blocker, which will be essential to the Ravens’ run-heavy attack. He says he has added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason, which should bolster his blocking abilities without detracting from his receiving talents.

In 2018, the former Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand caught just 13 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore will be counting on a major improvement on those numbers in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.