Kenny Young

AFC Notes: Hill, Funchess, Ravens, Jets

In May, Roger Goodell said the NFL would not interfere with the Kansas Department for Children and Families’ Tyreek Hill investigation, indicating the league would interview the Chiefs wide receiver “whenever we have permission to.” It is unclear if the Kansas DCF’s investigation has concluded, but if it has not, the news about NFL investigators meeting with Hill represents a reversal and, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, perhaps an acknowledgement by the league something needs to transpire on this front by the time the Chiefs report to training camp July 23. While the investigation is likely covering the bruises and welts that appeared on the body of Hill’s 3-year-old son, Florio notes Hill’s history of violence, and the comment his fiance needing to worry about more possible violence, will almost certainly result in a Hill suspension. Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was suspended four games in 2018 for threatening and the mother of his child and “engaging in emotional abuse.” With audio evidence having surfaced in this case, and Hill not being punished for his admitted 2014 violence against Crystal Espinal, that would seem to be the baseline for his potential punishment.

Here is the latest out of the AFC:

  • John Harbaugh has committed to Patrick Onwuasor returning as a starting linebacker for a revamped Ravens defense, but the 12th-year HC has not made a decision on C.J. Mosley‘s successor. While former UDFA Chris Board has impressed, Harbaugh indicated a committee is the likely post-Mosley plan. Harbaugh said (via Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com) Board will probably join 2018 fourth-rounder Kenny Young and hybrid safety Anthony Levine alongside Onwuasor in sub-packages. Young led the trio with 381 linebacker snaps last season; Board played just 21.
  • Onwuasor may be the best bet for the young defender who signs a Ravens extension, per Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic (subscription required). With emerging sack artist Matt Judon perhaps in line to continue a trend of edge rushers pricing themselves out of Baltimore and nose tackle Michael Pierce coming to Ravens minicamp at least 25 pounds overweight, in Zreibec’s view, the Ravens preventing their top inside linebacker from following Mosley out of Maryland seems logical. A former UDFA, Onwuasor has started 26 games. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 40 linebacker last season.
  • Devin Funchess has put together an inconsistent career thus far and went through most of the Colts‘ offseason program without working with Andrew Luck, who was sidelined with a strained calf. But Frank Reich said (via Kevin Bowen of 107.5 The Fan) he is “very encouraged” by Funchess’ route-running, for a player his size, and his overall progress in his system. Reich lobbied early for Funchess in March, and the former Panthers target will almost certainly play a big role for the Colts this season.
  • Another AFC free agent signing, Brian Poole, looks aimed toward a big role in his first AFC season. The Jets have used the former Falcons slot cornerback both inside and outside this offseason, Brian Costello of the New York Post notes. Gang Green did not bring in a proven outside starter opposite Trumaine Johnson, and Morris Claiborne remains a free agent. While another corner will have to step up to join the duo in nickel sets, Poole appears set for a steady gig in New York.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Prior to the Browns waiving kicker Zane Gonzalez, Hue Jackson did not know the second-year specialist was dealing with a groin injury. The third-year Browns HC (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) said he knew “nothing about an injury whatsoever” and that no one from the Browns’ medical department told him Gonzalez was hurt, which could set up for an interesting situation as Cleveland pivots to another kicker. It hasn’t been reported that Gonzalez was waived with an injury designation, and Florio posits an injury grievance from Gonzalez could be in the cards. Gonzalez’s groin malady required an MRI, but he still attempted a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds Sunday. This information also doesn’t put Jackson in an especially positive light, given Gonzalez’s struggles on Sunday — ones that led directly to Cleveland’s 21-18 loss.

Shifting from a player the Browns just cut to one they opted not to draft, here’s the latest from the AFC North:

  • Sam Darnold did his best to not offer much regarding his draft-night mindset, but he did say he expected the Browns to take him at No. 1 due to the amount of time John Dorsey and Co. spent with him leading into the draft, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The Browns spent time with all four of the top quarterback prospects before narrowing their decision to Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. “We spent time with (Darnold) and his family, and obviously, every quarterback. We feel very comfortable with the guy that we selected in Baker, and I’m sure they do with him,” Jackson said. “He’s a fine prospect and is going to be a fine player. I think they got a good one, but we feel we have a really good one, too.”
  • The Ravens are not counting on having C.J. Mosley available for their Week 3 game against the Broncos, David Ginsburg of the Associated Press notes. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker suffered a bruised left knee in Baltimore’s loss in Cincinnati. Rookie Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor were called to action in place of Mosley, who’s only missed two games (both in 2016) in his career. A fourth-round pick, Young looks like the Sunday starter, per Ginsburg.
  • Broncos rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay sits third among the league’s rushing leaders going into Week 3’s Baltimore trip, and Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets the Colorado product narrowed his post-draft choices to the Broncos and Ravens. Lindsay (178 rushing yards on 6.1 per carry) is part of a two-rookie backfield in Denver. The Ravens opted to retain their status quo at running back, with Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen back.
  • Allen is now on IR, though the Ravens would’ve preferred to keep both he and cornerback Maurice Canady on their active roster rather than shelve them for at least two months, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes. Neither’s injury is a season-ending setback, and Dixon is a candidate to return from IR later in the season.
  • Le’Veon Bell‘s agent, Adisa Bakari, attended the Steelers‘ season-opening tie in Cleveland, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes the vibe between he and Steelers brass wasn’t particularly uncomfortable. Bakari also represents Tyrod Taylor. Nothing on the Bell front’s transpired in several days, and Pittsburgh’s bracing for a long absence.
  • Mike Tomlin expressed frustration with punter Jordan Berry, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (on Twitter), and he may be on the verge of losing his job. The Steelers brought in free agent punters Jeff Locke and Justin Vogel for workouts today, Kaboly tweets. Berry’s been Pittsburgh’s punter since 2015, and the Steelers signed him to an extension in February.
  • With Joe Mixon out for a bit, the Bengals brought in a host of running backs for Tuesday workouts. Thomas Rawls, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Troymaine Pope and Matthew Dayes trekked to Cincinnati for auditions, Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan tweets.

Ravens Sign 8 Draft Picks

Of the 12 draft choices the Ravens made this year, eight are now under contract. The Ravens signed the final eight of their 2018 draft picks on Saturday. Here’s the full rundown:

Baltimore’s unsigned contingent consists of Hayden Hurst, Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown and Mark Andrews.

Scott and Lasley made it a four-pass-catcher draft for the Ravens, who used first- and third-round picks on tight ends. The Ravens have overhauled their receiving corps this offseason, cutting Jeremy Maclin, letting Mike Wallace depart in free agency and signing John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead.

Averett and Elliott will attempt to carve out positions in Baltimore’s secondary, while Sieler becomes the third Division II front-seven piece on the Ravens’ roster, joining Brandon Williams and Matt Judon.