Jedrick Wills

AFC North Notes: Browns, Burrow, Ravens

The Browns have not honored David Njoku‘s trade request. The former first-round pick enters his fourth season in Cleveland, and while Kevin Stefanski said he had not spoken with Njoku in several weeks, the first-year Browns coach noted he is eager to work with him.

My stance hasn’t changed. The organization’s stance hasn’t changed in that we believe in David, excited to work with him,” Stefanski said, via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I’ll get to finally be in the same room as him this weekend as he is coming in for physicals and then get out on the field with him Monday.”

Njoku has not lived up to his Round 1 billing yet, leading the Browns to give Austin Hooper a tight end-record contract. While Njoku’s unhappiness was reported to predate the team’s Hooper addition, he tweeted that he “loves Cleveland” while noting the game includes “a lot of complications.” Regardless, Njoku is set to earn $1.76MM this season. The Browns picked up his fifth-year option (worth $6MM) but can cut bait on that cost before the 2021 league year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing teams from conducting on-field workouts throughout the offseason, the Browns have not changed their plan at tackle. First-round pick Jedrick Wills will begin his career as Cleveland’s starting left tackle, Stefanski adds. The Alabama product will make the interesting transition from college right tackle to NFL left tackle. Recently signed free agent Jack Conklin, a college left tackle, will continue his NFL right tackle work.
  • The Browns hired former Vikings QBs coach Kevin Rogers as a senior offensive assistant. Rogers was with the Vikings from 2006-10, which doubled as Stefanski’s first five years with the franchise, but has not coached since 2016. Rogers, 68, spent decades at the college level. He worked as the offensive coordinator for Syracuse (1991-98), Notre Dame (1999-2001) and Boston College (2011). His most recent gig was at alma mater William & Mary; that four-year stay ended after the 2016 season.
  • The Ravens will use Jimmy Smith in a matchup-based capacity. They are trying their longtime starting cornerback at safety and in the slot, John Harbaugh said. As of now, there is no plan to permanently move the veteran corner to safety. The Ravens are deep at cornerback, with Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young back in the fold. Young, however, has missed two of the past three full seasons. Harbaugh said the fifth-year corner is back to 100% after a neck injury last summer.
  • Ravens rookie UDFA tight end Jacob Breeland will miss the 2020 season, Harbaugh confirmed. The Oregon product was one of the top contenders for Baltimore’s No. 3 tight end spot, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required).
  • As expected, Joe Burrow‘s rookie year will consist of on-the-job training. The Bengals will not give one of their more experienced QBs the first snaps as their starter in training camp. Burrow will take them, Zac Taylor said, per Marisa Contipelli of Bengals.com (on Twitter). Cincinnati returns 2019 draftee Ryan Finley and agreed to terms with fifth-year quarterback Brandon Allen, who worked with Taylor in Los Angeles.

Browns Sign No. 10 Overall Pick Jedrick Wills

Offensive lineman Jedrick Wills has inked his rookie contract. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that the 10th-overall pick in the 2020 draft has signed his four-year rookie deal with the Browns.

Per the terms of his slot, Wills signed a four-year deal worth $19.7MM. The deal is fully guaranteed and includes an $11.89MM signing bonus. Cabot notes that the rookie flew to Cleveland on Tuesday to sign his contract.

The 6-foot-4, 312-pound lineman spent three seasons at Alabama. This included a 2019 campaign where he protected Tua Tagovailoa‘s blind spot en route to a second-team All-American nod and first-team All-SEC honors. In 29 starts at Alabama, Wills only allowed a single sack.

As Cabot writes, Wills has been working virtually with offensive line coach Bill Callahan and former Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. Despite the unconventional offseason, Callahan has made it clear that he won’t have any reservations about starting the rookie at left tackle in front of Baker Mayfield.

With the signing, the Browns have now signed five of their seven draft picks, via PFR’s 2020 NFL Draft Tracker:

1-10: Jedrick Wills, T (Alabama): Signed
2-44: Grant Delpit, S (LSU)
3-88: Jordan Elliott, LB (Missouri): Signed
3-97: Jacob Phillips, LB (LSU)
4-115: Harrison Bryant, TE (Florida Atlantic): Signed
5-160: Nick Harris, C (Washington): Signed
6-187: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR (Michigan): Signed

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Poll: What Will Giants Do At No. 4?

While the variance in this draft’s top three picks may be low, the Giants could go in a number of directions at No. 4 overall. They have been connected to several different strategies.

Picking in the top six for the third straight year (after never landing there from 2005-17), Big Blue has needs at a few places. The Giants could use help on the offensive line and at outside linebacker and safety. Based on the organization’s history and Dave Gettleman‘s impossible-sounding track record featuring zero trade-down maneuvers in seven drafts as either the Panthers or Giants GM, the Giants would be expected to hold their pick at No. 4. But noise about the team moving down has emerged.

Gettleman said this week he is seriously entertaining the prospect of moving down — something he did not strongly consider the past two years when the Giants took Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. The Giants may be going as far as planting a seed about Justin Herbert interest. Gettleman was believed to be higher on Herbert than Jones last year. But with only two teams in the past 38 drafts using back-to-back first-round picks on quarterbacks — the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts and the Cardinals in the past two years — teams do not appear to be buying this.

With Chase Young a lock to be off the board by No. 4 and the Giants not expected to take a cornerback that high, they may be down to tackle or Clemson do-everything defender Isaiah Simmons. The Giants have not gotten what they paid for in Nate Solder and signed stopgap right tackle Cameron Fleming. The latter, however, could be used as a swing man — as he was in New England and Dallas — to open the door for a rookie to start at right tackle.

Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs has been linked to the Giants for several weeks. However, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, massive Louisville blocker Mekhi Becton and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills loom as possibilities as well.

The Giants are evaluating Simmons’ fit. He played everywhere from off-ball linebacker to safety to edge rusher to slot cornerback at Clemson. That kind of rare versatility prompted ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold to label him the draft’s top prospect.

While Simmons could help the Giants in multiple areas, Gettleman has preached offensive line development since arriving in December 2017. They also would be in a better position to address their edge rusher need with more picks, hence the greater interest in trading down.

So where what will the Giants end up doing at No. 4 overall? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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Jets Eyeing OL At No. 11?

It’s no secret that the Jets could use some help at wide receiver. And, with the No. 11 pick, they could have the opportunity to take CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, who stand as the cream of a rich WR crop. Meanwhile, they also need to protect quarterback Sam Darnold (and his spleen), so they could opt for offensive line help in the first round. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, the Jets have done their homework on this year’s top big men. 

[RELATED: Jets Could Also Start The WR Run At No. 11]

Before the travel restrictions, the Jets had dinner and a private workout with Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, per Pelissero. He also hears that they’ve hosted Louisville’s Mekhi Becton on a top 30 visit and Zoom-chatted with Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. They’re the four best offensive lineman in this year’s class, so there’s no guarantee that any of them will slip to Gang Green. Thomas has also garnered interest from the Dolphins (No. 5), Pelissero hears.

Of that quintet, Wirfs is widely viewed as the most NFL-ready. He also offers serious athleticism for his size (6’5″, 320 pounds), plus versatility. At Iowa, he played primarily at left and right tackle. Pro scouts also believe that he has the ability to move inside and play guard.

The top 10 already has teams in need of line help and other teams are contemplating trades to land one of this year’s best OLs. The Bucs and Broncos have serious interest in moving up the board and they could leapfrog the Jets on Thursday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Scherff, Cook, Winston, Giants

As of right now, Brandon Scherff is set to play next season under the franchise tag. However, the three-time Pro Bowler is confident he’ll sign an extension with the Redskins.

“It’s gone well,” Scherff said of the negotiations (via Kyle Stackpole of Redskins.com). “Just pretty much sat down and talked to my agent — that’s what he’s there for — and I want to sign a long-term deal with them, too. I love it there, and I’ve always said I wanted to be a Redskin for the rest of my career. So, hopefully we can work towards that.”

After becoming the first guard to receive the franchise tag since 2011, Scherff signed his franchise tender relatively quickly. He’s set to make $14.8MM in 2020 under the tag.

Since being selected with the fifth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, Scherff has started all 65 of his regular season appearances. However, he’s been limited to only 19 games over the past two years thanks to a pair of IR trips.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Running back Dalvin Cook and the Vikings are also in the midst of extension talks, and the 24-year-old has made it clear that he wants to stick in Minnesota. “I definitely love Minnesota,” Cook told Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. “I love everything the state has to bring. Being a kid, I was drafted (in 2017) from Miami (his hometown), so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I actually am happy where I’m at, and I would like to be in Minnesota long term.”  After compiling 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last season, Cook is set to make a base salary of $1.33MM next season.
  • Jameis Winston isn’t a bust, says the GM who drafted him. While the Buccaneers were eager to replace the former first-overall pick with a soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback, Jason Licht is still optimistic about Winston’s future in the NFL. “We have a lot of respect for Jameis,” the executive told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “Jameis was still part of our plan if things went a different route. We’ve got a lot of respect for him. I thought he did a lot of great things, and anybody in our office or building would say the same thing. He did some spectacular things for us. I would never say that, personally — and I think I speak on behalf of the organization — that he’s a bust. I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him.” Last season, Winston led the league in passing yards (5,109) and interceptions (30).
  • The Giants “love” Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs, reports Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. While the front office has been infatuated with him since well before the combine, there are some who believe the Giants still won’t take him with the fourth-overall pick. In fact, some sources told Vacchiano that they believe the Giants will opt for another lineman in Alabama’s Jedrick Wills or Louisville’s Mekhi Becton.

Draft Notes: Shenault, Wills, Moss, Niang

One of the many high-end wide receiver prospects in this draft, Colorado product Laviska Shenault will need surgery. Shenault will undergo a procedure that will sideline him for more than a month, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The surgery is scheduled for next week, per Troy Renck of Denver7 (on Twitter). Shenault did not run well in this week’s 40-yard dash, clocking 4.58 seconds, and this injury helps explain that. The early-entry wideout is dealing with a core muscle injury and pubic bone inflammation, per Schefter. Shenault did not run a second 40. This could impact Shenault’s draft stock, but even given his injury history and the abundance of wide receivers in this class, it is unlikely he will fall out of the second round. The 6-foot-1, 227-pound wideout has been on the draft radar for a while, beginning with a 1,011-yard, nine-touchdown 2018 sophomore season.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • One prospect who might’ve seen his draft stock dip this week was Alabama offensive lineman Jedrick Wills. Wills seemed to be a lock to be a first-round pick as an offensive tackle, but it looks like a position change could be in his future. Some teams have taken him off their tackle boards all together and are projecting him as a guard at the next level, per Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com, who writes that this is causing his stock to slip and that teams are “concerned about his ability to mentally process a complex blocking scheme.”
  • LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss, the son of the legendary Randy Moss, got some tough injury news at the combine. His physical revealed a Jones fracture in his foot and he will undergo surgery, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). While Pelissero notes that he’ll be ready well in advance of the regular season, this will unfortunately cause him to miss a good chunk of his first offseason program. Moss bursted onto the scene out of nowhere this past season, and had been regarded as a late riser and potential Day 2 pick. It’s unclear but this could hurt his stock a bit.
  • There was also some good medical news, as TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang got a positive report following his November hip surgery, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapoport writes that Niang is now considered one of the top offensive tackles in the draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had him going 77th overall in a recent mock draft, although he could go higher with this fresh clean bill of health.

 

Jedrick Wills Declares For Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft just added another top prospect to the player pool. Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills will leave school early and enter the draft, he announced on Twitter.

Wills is widely regarded as one of the best offensive linemen in the country, and as things stand right now is almost certain to be a first-round pick. Many analysts think he has a shot to go in the top ten, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report had him at 15th overall in his most recent mock draft. Miller writes that he is “tailor-made to step in from Day 1” and “has the movement ability with an easy, poised kick-step to play either right or left tackle in the pros.”

Highly recruited out of high school, Wills became a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2018. Alabama’s other starting tackle and potential first-round pick Alex Leatherwood recently announced his intention to return to school. Like seemingly every year there are a bunch of teams picking early in need of tackle help, and the Browns could be a natural fit with the tenth overall pick.

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