Jaylon Ferguson

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Green, Ravens

Here’s a look at the AFC North:

  • Tyler Boyd‘s new extension will impact the ongoing extension talks between the Bengals and A.J. Green, as The Athletic’s Jay Morrison writes. Still, for what it’s worth, director of player personnel Duke Tobin says that they are separate matters. “It’s not an either/or. It’s a both,” Tobin said. “And we’ll see where we can go with the other. We would like to retain both of them, and we will work to do that and see what we can get done as we go here. It’s nice when you are not the only good receiver on a football team, it helps you. Tyler has been great in that he’s really versatile for us, and he can play a number of different positions. They are different-style guys for our game, and they complement each other well. So whether (Boyd’s) No. 1 or No. 2 or whatever, he’s a good football player and he’s been rewarded for that.”
  • Good news for the Ravens. According to the transactions wire, defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Daylon Mack and outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson have all passed their physicals. This means that they’re off the non-football injury list and available to practice when things get underway on Thursday. It should be noted that their NFI designation was different from the one that would have automatically ruled them out for a portion of the year, but it’s still a promising sign for the defense.
  • The Browns met with the agent for disgruntled running back Duke Johnson this week.

Ravens Sign Third Round DE Jaylon Ferguson

The Ravens locked up a key member of their draft class Friday. The team signed third round pick edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson to his rookie deal, they announced on Twitter.

Ferguson is more high profile than your typical third round pick. He was one of the most productive pass-rushers in recent college football history, and put up absurd numbers at Louisiana Tech. For a while there was talk that Ferguson would go as high as the first round, but he ended up tumbling to 85th overall. In his senior season with the Bulldogs Ferguson racked up an eye-popping 26.5 tackles for loss, including 17.5 sacks.

Ferguson was at the center of some controversy a few months back when he had his invitation to the combine rescinded. Ferguson was banned from the combine after a background check revealed he was convicted of simple battery during his freshman year. It was reported at the time that teams didn’t view his incident as particularly serious, and he was eventually allowed to participate in interviews at the combine, although he wasn’t allowed to do any drills or on-field work.

With Ferguson now in the fold, the Ravens now have only two unsigned draft picks left. First round pick Marquise Brown and third-rounder Miles Boykin still have yet to agree to terms. The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, so they have a lot of pass-rushing production to replace. They’ll be counting on Ferguson to help fill some of that void.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Bucs, Bills, DL, Saints, Harry

A fifth team emerged on Nick Bosa‘s pre-draft schedule. The Buccaneers will host the impact edge rusher prospect, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Bosa will have dinner with Bucs representatives on Sunday night and stay in Tampa for a Monday visit. The Ohio State-honed defender met with the Cardinals and Giants last week and has 49ers and Raiders meetings on his agenda. But a Florida trip will follow. It appears next to impossible Bosa falls to the Bucs at No. 5, so the only way Tampa Bay likely would be in position to land him would be through a trade-up scenario.

Here is the latest from the draft, staying with the Bucs:

  • Having visited with LSU linebacker Devin White, the Bucs’ interest has appeared to have increased. The Bucs “love” White, Breer adds, and the off-ball ‘backer has been rumored to have climbed into potential top-five consideration. No non-rush linebacker has gone off the board in the top five since Aaron Curry 10 years ago. Tampa Bay saw Kwon Alexander defect to San Francisco, creating a need here. But No. 5 overall is quite the perch to take an off-ball linebacker.
  • A sixth team scheduled a Montez Sweat summit. The Bengals brought in the Mississippi State-developed defensive end on Monday night, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. He has already met with or is scheduled to visit the 49ers, Raiders, Bills, Packers and Bucs. Sweat blazed to a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and seems likely to go off the board in the top 10.
  • Staying on the subject of draft-eligible ends, Jaylon Ferguson‘s extensive April tour of NFL cities continues. Among the teams on his reported 22-visit tour: the Bills, Giants, Colts, Eagles, Cowboys, Titans and Rams, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Ferguson met with the Bills on Monday; he will head southeast for his Giants powwow next. His visits with the Colts and Eagles are on tap for this week, with the Cowboys, Titans and Rams meetings are slated for next week. The Bucs and Bengals were already on the Louisiana Tech-produced pass rusher’s docket.
  • This year’s wide receiver hierarchy has not produced a clear-cut favorite, D.K. Metcalf‘s take-notice measurables notwithstanding. One of the top pass-catching prospects, N’Keal Harry, joined Ferguson in meeting with the Bills on Monday, Pelissero tweets. Upcoming for the Arizona State alum this week: visits with the Eagles, Patriots and Saints. Harry rates as the No. 4 receiver prospect — behind Marquise Brown, Metcalf and A.J. Brown — per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. Harry met with the Seahawks last week.
  • One of the second-tier defensive tackle prospects, Jerry Tillery remains in recovery from shoulder labrum surgery. But he traveled to New Orleans on Monday for a pre-draft Saints visit, Pelissero adds (via Twitter). The Notre Dame product is not expected to participate in OTAs but may be on track for training camp. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound prospect profiles as late-Day 1/early-Day 2 pick. By virtue of 2018 trades, the Saints hold just one pick in the first four rounds — No. 62 overall.
  • The Jets also parted with extensive draft capital in 2018, in order to land Sam Darnold. As a result, they continue to be mentioned as a team ready to trade down. Gang Green “badly” wants to trade out of the No. 3 slot, Breer notes. The Jets surrendered what became the No. 34 overall pick to the Colts last year, and the Mike Maccagnan-led front office wants to collect a second-round pick via trade.

Draft Notes: Ferguson, Williams, Gary, Jags

Louisiana Tech-produced edge prospect Jaylon Ferguson will have one of the busiest Aprils on tap for any NFL hopeful in memory. He is set to meet with 22 teams this month, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. The Bengals and Buccaneers are two of the teams who have requested summits. Those visits will occur this week, per Laine. Ferguson set the Division I-FBS sack record with 47 in his four-year run with the Bulldogs, accumulating 67.5 tackles for loss in the process. But a simple battery conviction, stemming from a fight at a McDonald’s during his freshman year, resulted in a partial ban from the Combine. Teams are looking to examine Ferguson more thoroughly.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • While Nick Bosa is expected to be the first defensive player off the board, Quinnen Williams has been looming as a potential top-three pick as well. The Alabama interior defender met with the 49ers on Monday night, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding a Raiders summit is up next for the high-end D-line prospect. Holding the No. 3 overall pick, the Jets figure to also be in play for Williams. Both Bay Area teams, however, are doing extensive work on this class’ top defenders.
  • Another possible top-10 defensive line pick, Rashan Gary spent time in Jacksonville on Tuesday, per Pelissero (on Twitter). The Jaguars visit represents one of many for the Michigan-developed defensive lineman. He was already mentioned as a 49ers, Raiders and Bengals top-30 visit. Gary finished his Wolverines career with just 9.5 sacks, but the 6-foot-4 defender carries elite measureables — including a 4.58 40-yard dash — that have him projected as one of the top players available.
  • While the Jaguars may have erred in not using their most recent top-10 pick to take either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in 2017, and instead rolling with Blake Bortles for two more seasons, they are understandably not connected to this year’s crop of draft-eligible quarterbacks. The team that gave Nick Foles $50MM guaranteed, however, did do “a ton” of work on these passing prospects during the 2018 college football season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. While Breer mentions the Jags as a team that could be a stealth quarterback suitor at No. 7 overall, that would certainly be an interesting use of offseason resources.
  • After meeting with the Cowboys, safety prospect Johnathan Abram will trek to Arizona for a Cardinals powwow, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. Abram is this class’ top safety, per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. The Mississippi State alum, who began his career at Georgia, notched two interceptions and three sacks last season. He also made nine tackles for loss. The Cardinals’ second pick comes at No. 33.

Dolphins Eyeing Defensive Ends Via Draft?

The Dolphins have moved on from Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, and Andre Branch this offseason, so the team is predictably in the market for defensive ends. It sounds like the organization may try to fill those holes via the draft, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that the Dolphins have scheduled workouts with a number of prospects.

Jackson writes that Dolphins defensive line coach Marion Hobby recently gave a private workout to Louisiana Tech lineman Jaylon Ferguson, who has been graded as a second-round pick. The Dolphins have also scheduled visits with TCU’s L.J. Collier and Old Dominion’s Oshane Ximines, a pair of players who are also expected to be selected in the second or third round. Miami is currently armed with one second-rounder and one third-rounder: the 48th-overall pick and 78th-overall pick, respectively.

It sounds like the Dolphins may even consider opting for a defensive end in the first round, where they’re currently holding the 13th pick. Jackson notes that the team has also shown interest in Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, FSU’s Brian Burns, and Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat. If the Dolphins want Sweat, it might require a trade, as the lineman is currently projected to go in the top-10.

The Dolphins are currently only rostering four defensive ends with any NFL experience. That grouping includes Charles Harris, Tank CarradineJonathan Woodard, and Jeremiah Valoaga.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Allows Banned Prospects To Interview

The NFL will allow Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, and Colorado State wide receiver Preston Williams to participate in “limited interviews” at the NFL Draft Combine, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Those three players are still barred from participating in drills, but they will be allowed to speak with teams and undergo medical testing

However, the news doesn’t do much for Simmons, a projected first round pick. Simmons will not be able to attend the combine because of to his ACL, so clubs will have to wait before speaking with him (Twitter link).

For Ferguson and Williams, this is potentially good news. All three players were barred from doing drills at the combine due to red flags, but they’ll have an opportunity to clear the air with interested clubs.

Simmons, who stands 6’4″, 300 pounds, appeared in 37 total games in his three-year career with the Bulldogs, managing 159 tackles (30.5 for loss), six sacks, and five forced fumbles during that time. He was named first-team All-SEC in both 2017 and 2018, and this season won the Conerly Trophy as the top college football player in the state of Mississippi. He had buzz as a top-15 selection, but the ACL tear he suffered in training could lower his ceiling.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL To Let Players Banned From Combine To Attend Some Parts

The NFL is softening its stance toward the college players they initially barred from the combine. “The NFL sent a memo to GMs and coaches informing them LA Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson, MSU DT Jeffery Simmons, and CSU WR Preston Williams will be permitted to travel to Indy to undergo the same comprehensive medical evaluations given to invited prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine”, tweeted Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Rapoport noted in a followup tweet that “These players will get transportation to Indy, along with meals and a hotel if they are required to stay overnight. These prospects will not be permitted to participate in any other Combine evals or events.” The players had previously been banned from attending the combine at all. They’ll be evaluated by doctors in Indianapolis so that teams can have full confidence in their medicals, but they won’t be participating in the televised on-field drills.

All the players will do most of the drills they would’ve done at the combine at their pro days anyway, so it likely won’t have too much of an impact on their draft stock. Simmons’ draft stock already tanked earlier this week when he tore his ACL while training for the draft. He had been projected to go in the top-half of the first round, but will now likely fall out of the first day entirely.

Simmons and Williams had their bans announced weeks ago, but Ferguson’s was a much more recent development. Just two days ago, he surprisingly had his invitation rescinded. All three players were being disciplined under the league’s recently instituted policy that any player found to have been convicted of a felony, or of a misdemeanor that involved violence, wouldn’t be admitted to the combine. Ferguson’s incident is viewed to have been minor, and Rapoport tweeted at the time that teams see it as “certainly not disqualifying.”

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NFL Rescinds Jaylon Ferguson’s Combine Invite

Louisiana Tech edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson broke the NCAA’s all-time sack record last December and is draft-eligible, but he won’t be attending the NFL’s scouting combine later this month. The league rescinded Ferguson’s combine invitation after a background check revealed he was convicted of simple battery during his freshman year, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Ferguson becomes the third 2019 prospect to be barred from the combine, joining Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and Colorado State wide receiver Preston Williams. The NFL previously announced that any player found to have been convicted of a felony, or of a misdemeanor that involved violence, wouldn’t be admitted to the combine. Unlike Simmons and Williams, Ferguson’s case had not been made public.

While NFL teams won’t be able to observe Ferguson at the combine, they’ll still line up pre-draft visits with the pass rusher. In fact, Rapoport and Pelissero report Ferguson will likely take more club meetings now that he’s been banned from the combine, as teams surely want to have a face-to-face sit-down with Ferguson prior to the draft. Teams had been aware of the incident involving Ferguson and don’t seem to view it as “disqualifying,” tweets Rapoport.

Ferguson, a potential first-round pick, put up 45 sacks and 67.5 tackles for loss during his four-year run with Louisiana Tech. 17.5 of those sacks came in 2018, when Ferguson was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.