James Urban

Draft Notes: 2019 QBs, Browns, Jackson

A possible dearth of quarterback talent in the 2019 draft class may have contributed the first-round aggressiveness of teams in recent years. The Bears, Chiefs, Texans, Jets, Bills and Cardinals traded up to land their hopeful quarterbacks of the future the past two drafts, and Albert Breer of SI.com notes some of the impetus behind these moves may be coming from issues teams have with the crop of passers likely set to populate 2019 big boards.

Not right now, there isn’t one (that would go in the first round as it stands),” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “The kids at Auburn (Jarrett Stidham), Missouri (Drew Lock) and N.C. State (Ryan Finley), by the end of it, could work their way into the conversation. But on the surface, based on current performance, it’d be a no. Now, if they ascend, which they should, those three guys have a chance to get there.”

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (Insider link) has both Lock (No. 16) and Oregon’s Justin Herbert (No. 18) in his early top 25 for 2019. Issues with Lock’s completion percentage (57.8 percent is the senior-to-be’s career high) and Herbert’s toughness, per Breer, are early concerns for respective first-round hopefuls. While events of recent years show it’s a good bet a quarterback will be taken in the 2019 first round, Breer compares this crop — at this early juncture — to the 2013 group that saw only E.J. Manuel chosen in Round 1 instead of other recent classes that saw the likes of Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston emerge as obvious down-the-line high draft choices in advance of their final college campaigns.

Here’s more on this year’s draft, courtesy of Breer:

  • Breer reports the Browns “loved both” of the Denzel Ward/Bradley Chubb duo, but the team felt the Ohio State cornerback possessed upside potential the N.C. State defensive end didn’t. Ward started just for one season but sat behind Buckeyes cornerbacks that are now in the NFL. Cleveland brass also didn’t view Chubb as a Myles Garrett– or Jadeveon Clowney-like athletic specimen. Plus, Gregg Williams said the team’s need at corner was greater than the one opposite Garrett. Also noting Ward, who went to Nordonia High School in the Cleveland area, pitched his local ties and desire to help a Browns resurgence, Breer writes the Browns did their homework on this difficult decision and did not make an impulse call on draft night.
  • If the Eagles did not trade their first-round pick to the Ravens, they were going to consider eventual Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton at No. 32, per Breer. Sutton visited the Eagles in early April. Philly has Alshon Jeffery, a player to whom Sutton’s been compared, signed long-term and has Nelson Agholor controlled through 2019. However, the defending Super Bowl champions still signed Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, the latter a post-draft addition.
  • Ravens brass needed to hear from John Harbaugh the coaching staff was confident the team could win with Lamar Jackson before trading up to take him, and Breer reports Harbaugh, OC Marty Morhinweg, senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and QBs coach James Urban all developed a plan for the rookie before Ozzie Newsome made the trade with the Eagles. Both Mornhinweg and Urban were in their same positions under Andy Reid on the 2010 Eagles, when Michael Vick resurfaced as a top-flight weapon after previously working intermittently in certain packages. Roman’s work adjusting the 2012 49ers’ offense for Colin Kaepernick also played a role here, Breer writes. The Ravens look to be preparing Jackson sets already.
  • The first four rookies to sign their deals all had offset language built into the contracts, Breer tweets. Da’Ron Payne, Josh Rosen, Marcus Davenport and Quenton Nelson saw their teams include offsets in their deals. Offset language provided one of the sticky points in Joey Bosa‘s 2016 holdout, and the Chargers won out. So far, teams are doing the same with their 2018 top picks.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Shazier, Ravens

Great news for Ryan Shazier. The Steelers linebacker has regained feeling in his legs, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Shazier, a two-time Pro Bowler, underwent spinal stabilization surgery in December and is currently going through the rehabilitation process. Shazier’s father hopes to see him playing football again, but he obviously has larger priorities at this time.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • The Ravens announced that they have signed James Urban as their new quarterbacks coach. Urban spent the last seven years in Cincinnati. “Playing the Bengals twice a year, we’ve seen what a good job James does,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “He’s highly regarded around the league, including by Ozzie [Newsome] and Marty [Mornhinweg]. We were all excited when he became available.”
  • Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is a prime cap casualty candidate, ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley writes. In 2017, Maclin had career lows in catches and yards. The Ravens can save $5MM in cap room by cutting him before his $1MM roster bonus kicks in on March 16th. Right now, they’re projected to have just $12MM in cap room in 2018. Other cap casualty candidates include cornerback Brandon Carr ($4MM in cap savings), tackle Austin Howard ($3MM in savings), running back Danny Woodhead ($1.8MM in savings), safety Lardarius Webb ($1.75MM in savings), wide receiver Breshad Perriman ($1.62MM in savings), and linebacker Albert McClellan ($1.25MM in savings).
  • NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the league is conducting a “routine follow-up” on Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, as Mike Florio of PFT writes. It’s not often that coaches come under league scrutiny for off-the-field behavior, but Haley has a history of strange incidents. He has two other barroom incidents in his past plus multiple lawsuits that have been brought against him.