Joshua Dobbs

North Notes: Steelers, Dobbs, Lions, Browns

When the Steelers took Mason Rudolph in the third round of this year’s draft, many assumed it was the beginning of the end for Josh Dobbs. Since it’s extremely rare for a team to carry four quarterbacks, the conventional wisdom was that Pittsburgh would keep Landry Jones as a veteran backup, Rudolph as the developmental rookie, and that Dobbs would either be traded or cut.

Despite facing questions about his future all summer, Dobbs was focused and showed tangible improvement this preseason. His performance in the fourth preseason game in particular was very strong, and it was enough to convince the Steelers to cut Jones instead.

While Dobbs will enter the season as Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup, the Steelers apparently did have opportunities to trade him, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN (Twitter link). Fowler reports that both the Texans and Raiders were interested in Dobbs, but that the Steelers ultimately decided to keep the second-year signal caller from Tennessee.

Here’s more from the league’s northern divisions:

  • The Lions had a group of running backs in for workouts, including recently released Donnel Pumphrey, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Pumphrey, a 2017 fourth round pick of the Eagles, received a lot of hype his rookie year, but injuries derailed his stay in Philadelphia.
  • The Browns got defensive lineman Carl Davis and LB Tanner Vallejo on waivers, but only because they picked first. Four teams in total submitted claims on Davis, and three on Vallejo, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), showing that the Browns had plenty of competition for their services.
  • Linebacker Nigel Harris, cut by the Buccaneers on Saturday, will work out for the Browns on Tuesday, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Harris has spent time with the Chargers, Giants, and Bucs since entering the league as an UDFA in 2017. He started a game for the Chargers in 2017, but was waived just a few weeks into the season.

Glennon, Other QBs Drawing Trade Interest

On Wednesday morning, the Packers traded Brett Hundley to the Seahawks. That deal is unlikely to be the last trade involving a backup quarterback, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Mike Glennon of the Cardinals, Tom Savage of the Saints, and Joshua Dobbs are the Steelers are among the QBs being discussed by teams of need, Rapoport hears. 

The Cardinals signed both Sam Bradford and Glennon in March, but the QB room changed dramatically in April when they drafted UCLA star Josh Rosen. Rosen may not be ready for primetime, but the Cardinals may feel that he is ready to be a capable No. 2 QB. Glennon flamed out in his one month as the Bears’ starter last year, but he would represent a QB2 upgrade for many teams around the league.

Savage has been long rumored to be on the bubble, but he is now firmly on the trade block following the Saints’ acquisition of Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints project to move ahead with Bridgewater and Taysom Hill as the backups to Drew Brees, leaving Savage without a spot in New Orleans. Savage, a former fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh, entered the 2017 season as Houston’s starter, but he lost the job to rookie Deshaun Watson rather quickly. He finished the year with 1,412 yards and five touchdowns against six interceptions.

The writing has been on the wall for Dobbs ever since the Steelers used a third-round pick on Mason Rudolph in this year’s draft. Landry Jones is locked in as the backup quarterback and Rudolph is locked in as the No. 3, so Dobbs is clearly on the block.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Notes: Brown, Dobbs, Boswell, Bell

Antonio Brown missed eight out of 10 OTA practices held by the Steelers. While a star player missing OTAs certainly isn’t uncommon, it is for Brown. As laid out by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Brown is a “football junkie”and him missing OTAs is something that’s very out of character. Kaboly writes that he “couldn’t tell you the last time that he missed a training camp practice or a regular-season practice” and that “in Brown’s eight previous seasons he may have missed two total OTAs.”

Kaboly notes that even in past seasons where Brown was unhappy with his contract and demanding a new one, he still showed up for OTAs. So what’s responsible for Brown’s sudden prolonged absence from the voluntary portions of the Steelers’ offseason program?

It’s anyone’s guess, but it’s surely a distraction Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers’ coaching staff would rather not have.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Kaboly thinks quarterback Josh Dobbs is a near certainty to not make the 53-man roster. Despite being taken in the fourth round last year, the Steelers appeared to throw in the towel on Dobbs by taking Mason Rudolph in the third round this year. Kaboly writes that Landry Jones is locked in as the backup quarterback and that “there is no impending camp battle” for the position. With Rudolph assured a spot as the number three, Dobbs is very likely to be cut as the Steelers “always keep only three quarterbacks” notes Kaboly.
  • Wide receiver Marcus Tucker has a “real shot” at making the team, according to Kaboly. Tucker has spent the last two seasons on the Steelers’ practice squad and “was one of the best receivers during OTAs” he writes.
  • During a recent Q & A with fans, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that he thinks the Steelers will extend kicker Chris Boswell this offseason, but not running back Le’Veon Bell. Both Boswell and Bell are set to be free agents after the year, but Bouchette thinks the Steelers will again play it year-to-year with Bell.

Poll: Highest-Impact Rookie Quarterback?

Of the 15 quarterbacks selected in last year’s draft, seven ended up starting at least one regular-season game in 2016. The Rams’ Jared Goff and the Eagles’ Carson Wentz comprised the top two picks of the draft, but it was Cowboys fourth-round signal-caller Dak Prescott, the 135th overall choice, who ultimately emerged as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the face of a 13-3 team.

When the Cowboys drafted Prescott, there was little expectation he’d garner significant playing time right away, let alone thrive from the get-go, with Tony Romo on the roster. But debilitating summer injuries to Romo and backup Kellen Moore opened the door for Prescott, who’s now firmly entrenched under center in Dallas. Romo, realizing he wasn’t going to start again for the Cowboys, is now working for CBS.

Deshaun Watson Texans (vertical)

While it’s hard to imagine any rookie quarterback from this year’s 10-man class bursting on the scene in Prescott-like fashion, it stands to reason at least some will get opportunities to do so. Like last year, three passers went in the first round of the 2017 draft, though immediate playing time isn’t a guarantee for any. For now, Mitch Trubisky (No. 2 overall, Bears), Patrick Mahomes (No. 10, Chiefs) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12, Texans) are in understudy roles.

Trubisky, a one-year starter at North Carolina for whom Chicago somewhat controversially traded up a spot to select, reportedly won’t see the field as a rookie unless free agent investment Mike Glennon flops. Considering Glennon previously held a starting job in Tampa Bay but didn’t do enough to keep it, he very well could struggle enough for Trubisky to grab the reins in 2017.

Watson might also take the helm sooner than later, as the ex-Clemson national championship winner whom the Texans traded up 13 spots to draft is behind a veteran, Tom Savage, who’s almost completely untested. Given that the Texans have sullied quality rosters with subpar quarterbacks in recent seasons, it could behoove them to plug in Watson if Savage, he of two career starts and zero touchdown passes, looks like another Brock Osweiler this year.

DeShone Kizer

An early path to playing time appears less clear for Mahomes, even though Kansas City paid a high price to go up 17 places to secure him. At the moment, the ex-Texas Tech gunslinger looks like a good bet to red shirt 2017 behind Alex Smith as the Chiefs take at least one more kick at the Super Bowl can with the steady (albeit non-elite) veteran at the helm.

Perhaps more than any other QB in this year’s class, Browns second-rounder DeShone Kizer stands out as someone who looks destined to amass playing time as a rookie. The 52nd pick and former Notre Dame dual threat has impressed in the very early going in Cleveland. Moreover, his main competitors for the Browns’ open starting job, Osweiler and Cody Kessler, aren’t exactly Otto Graham and Bernie Kosar.

As Prescott and 2012 third-rounder Russell Wilson have shown in the past half-decade, a quarterback doesn’t necessarily have to come off the board at the top of the draft to star right away. That’s surely heartening to the Giants’ Davis Webb (third round, No. 87), the 49ers’ C.J. Beathard (third round, No. 104), the Steelers’ Joshua Dobbs (fourth round, No. 135), the Bills’ Nathan Peterman (fifth round, No. 171), the Lions’ Brad Kaaya (sixth round, No. 215) and the Broncos’ Chad Kelly (seventh round, No. 253). Barring injuries, though, Webb, Dobbs and Kaaya have virtually no chance to earn starting roles at any point in 2017, as each is behind an established veteran. On the other hand, there’s no Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger or Matthew Stafford on any of the rosters of the 49ers, Bills and Broncos, which could give Beathard, Peterman and Kelly a glimmer of hope. Still, for various reasons, all three look like major long shots to break out as rookies. Then again, the same could’ve been said about Prescott 12 months ago.

Photos via USA Today Sports Images and Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Steelers Sign Joshua Dobbs

Joshua Dobbs and the Steelers agreed to terms on the quarterback’s four-year rookie contract on Monday. The fourth-round pick out of Tennessee is the sixth of Pittsburgh’s eight draft picks to sign.

Only first-rounder T.J. Watt and third-round cornerback Cameron Sutton, Dobbs’ teammate while at Tennessee, are unsigned. Dobbs will begin learning behind Ben Roethlisberger, who is under contract for three more seasons. Although, Roethlisberger said the retirement talk many didn’t consider serious was, in fact, real. Dobbs and Landry Jones comprise the Steelers’ backup sect.

Dobbs was rumored to be coveted by the Browns, Seahawks and Vikings. The 22-year-old started two full seasons for the Volunteers, with his finest work coming in 2016. He led the team to a 9-4 record, a bowl win and threw 27 touchdown passes compared to just 12 interceptions.

Extra Points: 49ers, Cowboys, Colts, Dobbs

Of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft, Iowa’s C.J. Beathard was the only one 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan had interest in selecting, details Peter King of The MMQB. Shanahan ultimately got his man toward the end of the third round, pick No. 104, after the 49ers sent the 109th and 219th choices to Minnesota to trade up. “We’d all sleep a little better if we got him instead of waiting ’til tomorrow,” CEO Jed York told other members of the 49ers’ draft room before they moved up for Beathard. Shanahan compares Beathard to a former pupil, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, noting that Beathard “processes the game so well” and is “tough as sh–.”

More from around the game:

  • Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick is “miffed” that he was the subject of trade rumors during the draft, reports Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Nevertheless, Scandrick, who was on hand Monday for the second phase of Cowboys workouts, is “being professional,” Hill adds.
  • Rookie general manager Chris Ballard‘s restructuring of the Colts’ scouting department has led to the ouster of Jimmy Raye III. The Colts parted with Raye, their former vice president of football operations, on Monday, tweets Albert Breer of The MMQB. The two sides split on “amicable” terms, per Breer. At one point this past winter, Raye looked like the favorite to succeed the fired Ryan Grigson as the Colts’ GM. Now, he’ll presumably look to catch on with another team’s front office.
  • The belief is that the Seahawks and Vikings had interest in Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs on the third day of the draft, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Dobbs ended up with the Steelers in the fourth round, pick No. 135. The Seahawks used their fourth-rounder, No. 111, on Colorado safety Tedric Thompson. Minnesota selected Michigan linebacker Ben Gedeon 120th.
  • Chattanooga defensive end Keionta Davis is a “name to watch” as the undrafted free agent process continues, notes Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Senior Bowl invitee was a third- to fifth-round possibility before a bulging disc scared teams away on draft weekend. Davis’ specialist expects his neck to heal, though, according to Rapoport.

AFC North Rumors: Bengals, Ross, Ravens

The Bengals did not receive any calls about trading down from their No. 9 overall pick, according to coach Marvin Lewis.

Nobody was interested when we were on the clock,” Lewis said (via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer).

With the pick, the Bengals surprised most pundits by selecting speedy Washington wide receiver John Ross.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said the team tried to trade up in to the teens but couldn’t get a deal done (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun). Newsome didn’t say who he was targeting, but Zrebiec believes that Temple linebacker Haason Reddick was one of the candidates.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson said the team will get a first round quarterback “when it’s time for us to get one,” (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal). Jackson noted that the team did try to land a QB in the first round, but it didn’t materialize. Many believe that the Browns had their eye on Mitch Trubisky.
  • Jackson likes Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs and he’s one to watch on Day 2 for the Browns, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets.

Draft Visits: McCaffrey, Conley, Mixon, Taco

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, whose stock is so high that he could be a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, will visit the Redskins and Broncos, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com). Given where they’re slated to select (Washington’s at No. 17, Denver’s 20th), those two teams could have difficulty reeling in McCaffrey, though it would make for an especially interesting story if he ended up with the Broncos. His father, Ed McCaffrey, was a standout receiver in Denver from 1995-2003. While there, he caught passes from quarterback John Elway, who’s now the Broncos’ general manager.

More of the latest high-profile draft visits:

  • Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley has already visited the Titans (along with the previously reported Cowboys and Browns), and will meet with the Bengals and Jets, writes Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. Conley seems like a shoo-in to go somewhere in the first round, and PFR’s Dallas Robinson currently has him going 11th overall to New Orleans.
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon visited the Buccaneers this week, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. The potential second- or third-round pick could be a fit for a Tampa Bay team whose incumbent starting running back, Doug Martin, isn’t a lock to remain with the club. Even if Martin doesn’t lose his roster spot, he’ll still miss the first three games of next season as a result of a suspension.
  • Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton visited the Lions on Friday, per Rapoport (Twitter link). As Rapoport further notes (and as was previously reported), the Cowboys and Dolphins are also among the teams interested in Charlton, who’s coming off a 10-sack season with the Wolverines.
  • Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs visited the Steelers on Monday and will also meet with the Chiefs, relays Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Dobbs, who was a two-year starter with the Volunteers, could go as high as the second or third round, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. (via Mike Griffith of SEC Country).
  • Kansas State defensive lineman Jordan Willis visited the 49ers on Wednesday, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Willis figures to go late in the first round or early in the second, which could make him a target for the 49ers at No. 34 overall.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Panthers, Saints

Although Adrian Peterson has been linked to the Buccaneers thanks to his workouts with wide receiver DeSean Jackson (and the comments of head coach Dirk Koetter), Peterson doesn’t seem to be in Tampa Bay’s plans, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Reports have varied as to the Buccaneers’ level of aggressiveness of Peterson, but the club could use a running back given that Doug Martin‘s status is up in the air. Plus, Tampa Bay used the shotgun formation on less than 50% of its plays in 2016 (far below the league average), which could play to Peterson’s strengths given that he’s more productive in a traditional I-formation.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Panthers, Jaguars, and Bears will all meet with Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who has previously chatted with the Titans and Buccaneers, reports Connor Orr of NFL.com. Howard is universally regarded as the draft’s No. 1 tight end, and could be selected as high as pick No. 4 when Jacksonville is on the board. Over the past two years in Tuscaloosa, Howard averaged 42 receptions for 599 yards while displaying ferocious blocking skills.
  • Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett has scheduled a predraft visit with the Buccaneers, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Barnett dealt with a hamstring injury at the Volunteers’ Pro Day, so interested parties may want to get a closer look at him before the draft. As Laine notes, Barnett topped Reggie White’s Tennessee sack record of 33 in only three years, but doubters worry Barnett’s physical traits don’t match his production.
  • The Chargers, Saints, and Panthers have all worked out Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, tweets Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Los Angeles and New Orleans, specifically, are both hunting for long-term signal-callers as their respective quarterbacks age, and Dobbs — a likely mid-round pick — could be an option for both clubs. A two-year starter for the Volunteers, Dobbs passed for nearly 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 12 touchdowns in his senior season. Todd McShay of ESPN.com ranks Dobbs as the sixth-best quarterback prospect in 2017.