Jacob Eason

Colts Leaning Against Signing Backup QB?

While Jacoby Brissett was asked to start in 2017 and 2019, he gave the Colts a high-end backup quarterback during their most recent two playoff seasons. But Brissett’s four-year Indianapolis tenure is done; he is now in Miami.

Currently stationed as QB2 options for the Colts: 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason and sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger. Former Prairie View A&M passer Jalen Morton is also on the roster. Frank Reich said Eason, after his developmental rookie year, is currently penciled in as the Colts’ backup. That appears to be the team’s goal for the season.

Chris Ballard indicated discussions of backstopping Wentz with a more experienced passer have taken place. But the Colts want to go with one of their young QBs in this role.

That’s a great question. It’s one we’ve definitely thought about,” Ballard said of adding a veteran backup, via Fox 59’s Mike Chappell. “Let’s get through the preseason. Let’s see where we are. We want one of these young guys to be the guy. We think they can. We’ll keep working through that.”

Carson Wentz has run into a few notable injury issues during his career. After missing time during his senior season at North Dakota State, Wentz tore multiple knee ligaments to end his 2017 MVP bid. A back injury then ended Wentz’s 2018 season. He suffered a concussion in the Eagles’ 2019 wild-card loss to the Seahawks. It would certainly make sense for the Colts to add here, but for now, Eason — Georgia’s 2016 starter and Washington’s QB1 in 2019 — is the guy.

The free agent market houses a few notable names. Journeyman Brian Hoyer, whom the Colts used as Brissett’s backup in 2019, is available. So are Robert Griffin IIIBrett Hundley and Sean Mannion, multiyear backups in Baltimore, Arizona and Minnesota, respectively. Nick Mullens played more than each during his backup stay in San Francisco, but he is recovering from elbow surgery.

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Colts Notes: Tevi, Hines, Eason

One of the biggest winners of this year’s draft was Colts LT Sam Tevi. Signed to a modest one-year pact in March, Tevi has been atop Indy’s left tackle depth chart in the wake of Anthony Castonzo‘s retirement, but it was widely expected that the team would draft a potential Castonzo replacement.

Even though Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw was available for the Colts with the No. 21 overall pick, GM Chris Ballard elected to further bolster his defense by selecting Michigan DE Kwity Paye. And while this year’s draft was said to be deep in tackle talent, Ballard did not use a Day 2 or Day 3 choice on a tackle either.

It doesn’t sound like Colts brass was particularly high on the top-shelf LT prospects. “It just didn’t match up,” Ballard said (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of The Athletic). “How many true left tackles were in the draft? We’ll see. … If you’re gonna draft a guy that high, and you’re drafting him to be a left tackle, you’d like to know that he’s going to be that his whole career.”

Now for more out of Indianapolis, starting with additional notes on the team’s LT situation:

  • Even though the Colts valued Paye and second-round choice Dayo Odeyingbo over any LTs that were available at the time, owner Jim Irsay did concede that there were several tackles in the fourth and fifth rounds that they would have drafted but missed out on (Twitter links via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star).
  • Irsay suggested that the team is comfortable with Tevi as the starting LT, though he left the door open for another acquisition. “We feel that Tevi can do a solid job there next to that line that he is joining,” he said. “There are other options that can come down the line” (Twitter link via Holder).
  • Irsay has previously indicated that the team would prefer to keep Quenton Nelson at left guard instead of moving him to LT, and perhaps one of the “options that can come down the line” that he referred to is former Chiefs LT Eric Fisher, who is still on the market.
  • We recently heard that the Colts are hoping to extend LB Darius Leonard and OT Braden Smith, and you can add RB Nyheim Hines to that mix. As Mike Chappell of Fox 59 writes, Irsay said he wants his team to explore a re-up with the NC State product, who is eligible for free agency next year. Hines is a terrific receiver out of the backfield and has developed into a quality punt returner, but the team does have second-year pro Jonathan Taylor as its RB1, and Marlon Mack is back in the fold as well. As Irsay observed, “it just depends on what the numbers are.”
  • The Colts just drafted Texas signal-caller Sam Ehlinger, adding him to a quarterback room that also includes 2020 UDFA Jalen Morton and 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason. All three players will be vying to serve as Carson Wentz‘s top backup, though head coach Frank Reich said Eason will be penciled in as the QB2 for now (Twitter link via Erickson). Reich was clear that Morton and Ehlinger will get a fair shake, however.

Colts Notes: QBs, Hilton, Pascal, Houston

The Colts are hunting for a quarterback following the retirement of Philip Rivers, but at least one individual believes the replacement is already on the roster. Jacob Eason recently told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that it’s “realistic as soon as possible” for him to compete for the Colts starting quarterback gig.

“I got a lot of work ahead of me, a lot of areas to improve and grow, but if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to put my best foot forward and give you the best shot I can,” Eason said.

Following a standout career at Washington, Eason was a fourth-round pick by the Colts in this past year’s draft. While the rookie didn’t see the field during his first NFL season, he was able to garner the praise of GM Chris Ballard and former quarterbacks coach (and current offensive coordinator) Marcus Brady.

“I didn’t have that many opportunities to go out there and prove myself and show what I can do to these coaches and this team,” Eason said. “But there were moments in training camp where I was given the opportunity to go play and do my thing, and I did that.”

Let’s check out some more notes out of Indy…

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, Ballard kept the door open on retaining backup QB Jacoby Brissett. “We like Jacoby,’’ Ballard said (via Mike Chappell of Fox59.com). “We’ve got to let that work out.’’ The 28-year-old has alternated between being a starting QB and backup QB during his four seasons with Indianapolis. Following a 2019 campaign that saw Brissett complete 60.9-percent of his passes while tossing 18 touchdowns in 15 starts, the quarterback was limited to only 48 offensive snaps in 2020. The former third-round is set to hit free agency this offseason.
  • The Colts have interest in retaining a pair of free agent wideouts. Ballard said he believes veteran T.Y. Hilton can still play a significant role, and he noted the market will dictate whether the receiver returns to Indianapolis (via Kevin Bowen of 1075 The Fan on Twitter). Hilton finished the 2020 season having hauled in 56 receptions for 762 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ballard hinted that the organization will be bringing back restricted free agent receiver Zach Pascal, presumably via a tender (via Bowen). Pascal had a career year for the Colts, surpassing or tying career highs in receptions (44), receiving yards (629), and touchdowns (five).
  • Ballard also attributed Justin Houston‘s future in Indianapolis to the “market,” per Bowen on Twitter. Following an eight-year stint with the Chiefs, Houston joined the Colts on a two-year, $24MM deal prior to the 2019 season. In two seasons with the Colts, the 32-year-old has collected 69 tackles and 19 sacks in 32 starts.

Colts Sign Three Draft Picks

The Colts have agreed to terms with three more draft picks, according to a team announcement. RB Jonathan Taylor (pick no. 41), QB Jacob Eason (no. 122), and LB Jordan Glasgow (no. 213) are all in the fold.

Indianapolis was left without a first-round pick due to the team’s trade for DeForest Buckner earlier this offseason. But the Colts had two second-round choices, and they used one of them on Taylor, a talented back out of Wisconsin (they actually traded up three spots to nab him). One of the concerns surrounding Taylor is his heavy usage in college, as he averaged 309 carries over his three seasons with the Badgers, but he certainly made the most out of those carries. He piled up 6,174 rushing yards on a healthy 6.7 yards-per-tote, and he became more of a factor in the passing game in 2019, contributing 26 catches for 252 yards and five receiving scores.

The Colts already had plenty of young talent in the backfield, with Taylor joining Marlon MackJordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines. Mack rushed for nearly 1,100 yards last season as the team’s RB1, but he is entering his contract year, and after seeing Indianapolis invest heavily in RBs in the draft over the past two seasons, he may be playing for a free agent deal elsewhere.

Eason, meanwhile, is an intriguing QB prospect who could be a starting option for the Colts as soon as 2021. Of course, Indy brought in Philip Rivers on a one-year pact for 2020, but current QB2 Jacoby Brissett is also on the last year of his current deal, so Eason will have the opportunity to learn from both players this season and perhaps take the reins next year. In 2019, the strong-armed Washington product completed 64.2% of his passes for 3,132 yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Glasgow, the Colts’ final selection in the draft, will attempt to crack the team’s LB rotation and special teams unit. The DB-turned-linebacker compiled 89 tackles and five sacks in his final season at Michigan.

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Colts Draft QB Jacob Eason At No. 122

The Colts have been connected to a number of quarterback prospects, and they’ve apparently landed on their guy. Indy has selected Washington quarterback Jacob Eason with the No. 122 pick.

GM Chris Ballard previously said that the organization would only take a quarterback if it was the right fit, and they’ve even touted Jacoby Brissett as a potential successor to Philip Rivers. Still, the organization was rumored to be interested in a number of signal-callers throughout the draft process. While Indy was mentioned as a potential suitor for Jordan Love, there were always rumblings that Eason was actually their guy.

Eason had a standout season during his lone year at Washington. The six-foot-six quarterback finished the campaign having completed 64.2-percent of his passes for 3,132 yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. While scouts have touted his size and arm strength, he’s been criticized for his decision-making and consistency.

Still, Indy may be the best possible landing spot for Eason. The rookie will have a chance to work under Rivers, and he could eventually have the inside track at earning the starting gig (especially if the Colts trade Brissett).

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NFL Draft Rumors: Bengals, Colts, Bucs, Colts

The Bengals (No. 33) and Colts (No. 34) will kick off the second round and the belief is that they’re both targeting offensive help, Jonathan Jones of CBSSports.com tweets. Beyond that, he gets the sense that defensive tackle Ross Blacklock could be the first defensive player selected in the second round. Earlier today, we heard Blacklock mentioned as a possibility for the Bengals, but they might be more focused on providing help for Joe Burrow instead. That could lead them to Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, one of the most intriguing talents left on the board.

Here’s the latest as we get set for the second night of the NFL Draft:

  • More from Jones (on Twitter), who says “everyone” he’s talked to around the league believes that the Panthers will go after Mims. As previously reported, they’ve been getting calls on wide receiver Curtis Samuel, though they’re not shopping him. Mims, or another wide receiver, could wind up taking Samuel’s spot on the depth chart. The Panthers’ currently sit at No. 38 overall (the sixth pick in the second round), which might not be good enough to get Mims.
  • Over the last two months, the Buccaneers and Colts have both been high on Washington quarterback Jacob Eason, Albert Breer of The MMQB hears. Eason remains available heading into Day 2 of the draft and both clubs profile as potential fits. Before the night is through, Eason could be tapped as the heir to Tom Brady or Philip Rivers, a perfect scenario for a QB easing into the pro game.
  • There weren’t a ton of trades in the first round, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Falcons pushed hard to trade up for cornerback C.J. Henderson and the Raiders wanted to move back from No. 12 before taking Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs.

NFL Draft Rumors: Giants, Herbert, Tua

Will the Giants actually consider quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 4 overall pick, even though they already have Daniel Jones under center? The answer is no, according to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, though GM Dave Gettleman has been eyeing him for quite some time. Had Herbert entered last year, he would have been Gettleman’s top choice, Pauline hears.

Here’s a look at the latest draft rumblings from around the NFL:

  • In private conversations, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has indicated that Herbert is not actually in consideration for the No. 5 pick, a source close to Ross tells Pauline. That same source says the pick will either be used on Tua Tagovailoa or a position player, with Jordan Love being selected sometime later. If it’s a non-QB at No. 5, Pauline hears that tackle Andrew Thomas is the most likely choice.
  • Multiple NFL execs tell ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler that the Vikings are looking to move back. The Vikings own Nos. 22 and 25, but they could fill their needs at cornerback and wide receiver later on. In the second round, they should be able to land one of this year’s second-tier corners such as Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, LSU’s Kristian Fulton, or Alabama’s Trevon Diggs – the brother of former Vikes receiver Stefon Diggs.
  • Based on what we’ve heard, Washington’s Jacob Eason profiles as a Day 2 pick for QB-needy teams like the Patriots. He could also be a fit for teams looking to groom their next signal caller. One AFC exec pondered the possibility of Eason going to the Buccaneers, where the pure passer serve as the heir to Tom Brady. The Bucs own the No. 45 overall pick in the second round and Eason could be there for them, provided that teams like the Colts (No. 34) don’t pounce first.

Draft QB Rumors: Bolts, Raiders, Pats

Let’s round up some of the recent QB-related rumors that are swirling in advance of Thursday’s draft:

  • The Chargers hold the No. 6 overall pick and are not inclined to trade up from that spot, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The Bolts are fans of both Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, and it seems almost certain that at least one of those passers will be available when Los Angeles is on the clock. The team could still go in a non-QB direction with the No. 6 pick, but it would be difficult to pass up a franchise-altering talent at the most important position in sports, especially since the Chargers will probably not be picking nearly as high in 2021.
  • Although the Raiders have Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota on the roster, La Canfora hears that the club could make a play for a QB with one of their two first-round picks. Las Vegas holds the No. 12 and No. 19 overall selections, and JLC believes the team could target a CB with the No. 12 pick and go after a QB like Tagovailoa — if he falls that far — or Jordan Love with the No. 19 pick. While the Raiders need a receiver and don’t have a second-round selection, this year’s draft is deep enough at WR that Las Vegas could still find an impact player with one of its three third-round choices.
  • The Patriots are in the market for a collegiate signal-caller, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says it’s a question of “when,” not “if”, New England drafts a QB this week. We recently heard that the Pats would find a passer in either the first round or middle rounds, and if a player like Herbert or Tagovailoa should start to slide, it would not be surprising to see them pull the trigger. Coincidentally, new personnel consultant Eliot Wolf was a Packers staffer in 2005, when Green Bay was the beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers‘ famous draft-day slide.
  • ESPN’s Matt Bowen wrote before last year’s draft that Jarrett Stidham was the QB that represented the best fit for the Patriots, and the Pats ultimately selected Stidham with a fourth-round pick. Bowen believes the rookie signal-caller that makes the most sense for New England this year is Washington’s Jacob Eason (subscription required). Eason profiles as a Day 2 pick, so he would not be the Pats’ target with their No. 23 overall choice, but he may be off the board by the time New England is on the clock again at No. 87.
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard will not force a QB pick in this year’s draft, though Indy has been linked to rookie passers. The team could select a signal-caller like Eason with one of its second-round choices, though the Colts remain high on Jacoby Brissett. It may seem unlikely, but Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star says the team continues to insist that it could forgo a quarterback in the 2020 draft and look to bring Brissett back in 2021.

Latest On Top QB Prospects

A long list of teams have question marks at the quarterback position heading into the offseason. Well, one executive believes many of the organizations will solve their predicament via the draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller talked to a personnel executive who believes five quarterbacks will be selected in the top-15 of this year’s draft.

This might not sound all that shocking; among the teams with top-15 picks, only five of those organizations have used first-round capital at the position in the past two drafts. You could easily talk yourself into one of the other 10 teams selecting a quarterback, and a team outside the top-15 could easily trade up. However, it is notable that the executive was willing to speak so definitively.

As Miller explains, there’s a pretty clear pecking order atop the quarterback draft board: Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), some combo of Jordan Love (Utah State) and Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jacob Eason (Washington), and Jake Fromm (Georgia). Miller notes that the Chargers, who are selecting sixth-overall, are particularly interested in Love.

Miller himself believes six quarterbacks will be selected in the top-50, and he notes that part of the urgency to select a signal-caller could be attributed to the falloff after the top-six options. The next-best prospect, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, struggled during Senior Bowl practice this week, and Hawaii’s Cole McDonald projects as more of a fifth- or sixth-rounder.

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Jacob Eason Enters NFL Draft

Jacob Eason is going pro. On Thursday, the Washington quarterback announced that he’ll forego his remaining eligibility to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Playing this season for the University of Washington has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. UW has given me an incredible opportunity to develop as a football player and a person, and I am forever grateful and honored to be a Husky,” Eason wrote in a letter to his fans and followers.

Eason, a five-star recruit out of Washington’s Lake Stevens high school, started his collegiate career at the University of Georgia, but a knee injury late in the 2017 season caused him to change course. When Eason was unable to regain his job from Jake Fromm, he transferred to UW and took over as the starter in 2019. In 13 games this year, Eason completed 64.2% of his throws for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns against eight interceptions.

Eason is widely projected to be selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft and could very easily go in the top 32 if he performs well in workouts. Some evaluators may prefer Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, but Eason is widely regarded as having the best arm strength of any top QB in this year’s class.

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