Jonah Williams

Draft Rumors: Redskins, Bills, Jets, Eagles

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones will meet with the Redskins today and tomorrow, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Washington will also sit down with Northwestern signal-caller Clayton Thorson on Wednesday, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, adding that fellow quarterbacks Drew Lock (Missouri) and Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) have already visited with the Redskins. Washington is looking at nearly all the top QB prospects, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the status of Alex Smith‘s knee injury. Smith isn’t expected to play in 2019, and while the Redskins have already acquired veteran Case Keenum, the club is searching for a long-term option to place under center.

Here’s more on the 2019 NFL draft:

  • The Bills are hosting Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown Wednesday, while Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen‘s meeting with Buffalo will occur on Thursday, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Although the Bills invested in pass-catching help during free agency, adding both John Brown and Cole Beasley on multi-year deals to a depth chart that already included Zay Jones and Robert Foster, the team is still in need of receivers. Brown (6’1″, 225) posted at least 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, and six touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Allen, meanwhile, isn’t likely to be available for Buffalo at No. 9 overall, but the club could potentially trade up given that it owns the sixth-most draft capital.
  • Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams is meeting with the Jets, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Gang Green ranked dead last in Football Outsiders‘ run-blocking metric in 2018 (and 18th in pass-blocking), but so far the club has only addressed its offensive line by acquiring guard Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders. New York’s tackle situation has remained unchanged, with Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell projected to start on the left and right sides, respectively. Williams is expected to come off the board early in Round 1.
  • The Bengals met with Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite last week, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The pre-draft process has not been kind to Polite, who had been viewed as a potential first-round selection. Polite performed poorly during athletic testing, while his interviews with clubs were also widely panned. Additionally, Polite is battling currently battling through hamstring injuries. Cincinnati has edge depth with Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard, and Kerry Wynn in tow, but Polite would give the team another option.
  • TCU defensive end L.J. Collier is meeting with the Lions, Eagles, and Seahawks, per Rapoport (Twitter link), who adds Collier is “quietly pushing” to become a first-round pick. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com currently ranks Collier as the No. 45 prospect, noting that while he isn’t an “elite bender,” Collier has the ability to play both inside and on the edge. In his senior season with TCU, Collier posted six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in 11 games.
  • Penn State running back Miles Sanders has been vaulting up draft boards (he currently ranks one spot behind Collier at No. 46 on Jeremiah’s list), and he has a busy schedule ahead of him. Sanders is scheduled to work out for/meet with the Bears, Eagles, Steelers, Ravens, Bills, Cowboys, Falcons, Titans, Bengals, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Colts. In 2018, Sanders’ only season as a starter, he posted 1,274 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 220 attempts.

Draft Notes: QBs, Williams, Bryant, Taylor

Although Kyler Murray placing himself into this year’s draft-eligible quarterback crop increased the buzz surrounding it, the 2019 class has not brought the intrigue 2018’s did. Murray and Dwayne Haskins enter the Combine as the top QBs, and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com rates the Heisman Trophy winner over the more traditional prospect. However, Jeremiah said (via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com) neither Murray nor Haskins would have ranked among the top-three quarterback prospects in last year’s draft. The longtime draft analyst would place Murray alongside Josh Allen and Haskins in between those two and Lamar Jackson, if all seven players were in one draft. With a 2020 draft group expected to be better than 2019’s, teams will have to weigh risks that come with selecting a passer in this year’s prospect pool.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • A member of the stacked Clemson defensive line that is set to populate draft boards, Austin Bryant will not be participating to the degree his ex-Tiger teammates will in Indianapolis. Bryant underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), and will not do drills at the Combine. This injury happened Nov. 3, but Bryant played through it, recording 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss as a senior, and did not go under the knife until Jan. 17.
  • First-round tackle prospect Jawaan Taylor will not do any drills at this year’s Combine. The former Florida standout sent a letter to NFL teams informing them a mild hamstring strain will take him out of action in Indianapolis, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). This will likely be resolved by Taylor’s forthcoming pro day.
  • One of the top tackles in this year’s class, Jonah Williams is viewed by some teams a high-end guard prospect. The Alabama product’s future appears to be inside or at right tackle, with scouts informing Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News the acclaimed blocker could be an All-Pro guard or a quality right tackle. While teams still prioritize the left tackle spot, the gap between the offensive line’s glamour position and the rest of the roles is not what it once was. Quenton Nelson, Brandon Scherff and Lane Johnson have emerged as top-six draft picks-turned-Pro Bowlers that were shuttled to non-left tackle positions, with Scherff moving inside at his NFL career’s outset. Williams played both right and left tackle at Alabama, moving to the left side after his freshman year.

NFC Notes: Manning, Taylor, Falcons

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post examines some of the difficult decisions facing the Giants as the 2019 draft approaches. The Scouting Combine gets underway this week, and when New York GM Dave Gettleman speaks on Wednesday — which will mark the first time he speaks publicly since the end of the 2018 season — Schwartz expects he will formally commit to Eli Manning as the team’s starter for 2019.

After that, though, the picture gets a little fuzzy. Gettleman would of course love to find Manning’s successor in the draft, but he eschewed high-end collegiate QB talent last year, and the quarterbacks in this year’s class are not as heralded. Gettleman has long maintained that he will not grade quarterbacks on a curve just because there is pressure on him to pick one, and the Giants have plenty of other needs to fill, so they will be one of the more interesting teams to follow in the next couple of months.

Let’s take a look at a few more NFC items:

  • In a separate piece, Schwartz looks at three players the Giants will be monitoring closely at the Combine, all of which fill one of their above-referenced needs: QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), LB Devin White (LSU), and OT Jonah Williams (Alabama). Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com says the team’s top priority this offseason should be adding defensive playmakers, and he takes a deeper dive into some of the collegiate prospects that Big Blue should thoroughly examine.
  • The 49ers will certainly add a receiver or two to the top of their depth chart this offseason (like Antonio Brown, for instance), but there should still be plenty of opportunities for third-year player Trent Taylor. Taylor underwent back surgery in June, and while he ended up playing 14 games last year — compiling 26 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown — he says he never felt fully healthy. But as Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area writes, Taylor believes he is finally back to normal, and he thinks a regular offseason of work will prime him for a breakout campaign. He is also looking forward to working with his new position coach, Wes Welker, who certainly knows a thing or two about making hay as an undersized wideout.
  • The Falcons recently re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive end Steven Means to one-year pacts, and D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution passes along the contract details. Carter will earn $930K (making his contract a veteran minimum deal), while Means will earn $895K. The minimum salary for a player with Means’ service time is $805K, but Atlanta gave him a $90K signing bonus. He will carry a $735K cap hit, while Carter’s cap number is $645K.
  • It appears that Cardinals pass rusher Markus Golden will be allowed to hit the open market next month.

Draft Rumors: QBs, Tackles, Contracts

The 2019 group of draft-eligible quarterbacks is beginning to endure some scrutiny in advance of a pivotal stretch. One view of this collection of passers makes it look rather bleak, a crew featuring no clear frontrunner and possibly no prospects worthy of a surefire first-round pick. Another, via Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, indicates there’s some potential promise here. Oregon’s Justin Herbert rates as Miller’s top quarterback, and Drew Lock of Missouri has generated Josh Allen comparisons from scouts because of his arm strength and debatable accuracy. Miller writes, however, that with 13 teams having spent first-round picks on QBs over the past four years — with Dak Prescott essentially upping that number to 14, since he’s entrenched as the Cowboys’ starter — fewer teams will need quarterbacks in 2019 than they did in 2018. At least, fewer franchises will be willing to invest in one in the first round, which could create a scenario where a better group of prospects (which is possible for the ’19 contingent, per Miller) but fewer Round 1 investments.

Here’s more from the draft world:

  • Herbert also generated praise from NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, who referred to the Ducks’ current starter as a player with franchise QB-level talent whose mobility, accuracy and abundance of pro throws already on film make him a prototype player NFL OCs are looking to install as offensive centerpieces. Regarding Lock, Brooks writes his 54.5 percent career completion rate shouldn’t be as alarming as Allen’s accuracy issues became for teams. Brooks calls the senior-to-be a pinpoint passer who could well be the 2019 draft’s QB1.
  • In general, evaluators are excited about next year’s draft. One AFC team’s college scouting director told Miller the prospects likely to be eligible for 2019 draft picks collectively comprise a talent pool that’s “10 times better than” 2018’s. With teams less than enamored by the past two tackle classes, Miller notes the next one has scouts labeling three players as possible top-10 picks. The top player in the minds of many scouts is Alabama’s Jonah Williams, per Miller. Ole Miss’ Greg Little and Washington’s Trey Adams are the other two currently classified as possible top-10 choices next year.
  • The 2018 class has seen many of its draft choices sign, but offset language and bonus structure may well delay deals for this year’s top five, Mike Klis of 9News writes. Players’ signing bonus values are already locked in, but when the money is paid is a sticking point for some teams. Half of the rookies’ bonuses must be paid within 30 days, with Klis noting teams like to delay the rest of the cash in installments within a year of the signing date. With agents trying to accelerate the pay schedule, Klis expects some of this draft’s top players to wait until camps near to sign due to this largely minor issue.