Kolton Miller

Extra Points: Bell, Gregory, Raiders, Carr

With just less than four weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Le’Veon Bell-to-the-Eagles has surfaced on the rumor circuit. The Eagles are reportedly giving serious consideration to making a run at the likely rental running back. But SI.com’s Albert Breer isn’t so sure that’s going to happen. The Eagles don’t see running back as a spot to sink major resources into, per Breer. Bell’s approximately $10MM salary would qualify as a major investment, although that’s dropping by the week because of this unusual holdout. Philadelphia has just less than $5MM in cap room, and Breer notes the improving health of its running backs should help them steer clear of these interesting Bell sweepstakes. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles have yet to return to practice, and Jay Ajayi is playing with a back fracture. The Eagles traded a fourth-rounder for Ajayi before the 2017 trade deadline. Bell as of now plans to report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye.

Here’s the latest from around the league as Week 5’s first game continues:

  • Randy Gregory‘s reinstatement conditions caused him to miss the Cowboys‘ Thursday practice. The defensive end was in Chicago meeting with medical director of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). He most recently attended this type of summit during the preseason. The NFL reinstated Gregory this summer after his extensive substance-abuse-induced hiatus. His status for Week 5 doesn’t appear to be in question. Gregory’s played 64 snaps this season.
  • Jimmy Smith‘s return to action this week doesn’t appear to mean Brandon Carr will be bumped from first-string duties. The 11th-year cornerback has started 164 straight games (and every game he’s played as an NFLer), and Ravens DC Wink Martindale doesn’t plan on stopping that run, Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com notes. Smith is eligible to return after a four-game suspension. Carr, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young have worked as Baltimore’s top three corners this season. Smith was thriving prior to his season-ending injury last year, so it should be expected he’ll play a big role soon, even if he doesn’t start immediately. Carr’s 164-game start streak resides as the longest among defensive players by 28 games.
  • While Jon Gruden wanted to take Derwin James in the first round, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required) the Raiders weren’t doing anything except taking a tackle in Round 1. However, if Kolton Miller was gone at No. 15 — where the Raiders dropped to after dealing the No. 10 selection to the Cardinals — Tafur notes they were going to take James or trade down further.
  • The Dolphins were projected to be among the teams examining the crop of potential first-round quarterbacks, but their 3-1 start could change that. Early in the mock process, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has the Dolphins taking Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen, a player whom multiple area scouts have rising into the first round after a strong start to the season. As for where Miller projects the QBs to fall in Round 1, he has the Giants taking Oregon’s Justin Herbert and No. 5, the Patriots grabbing Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham at No. 17 (though, that draft slot seems certain to drop) and the Bengals selecting Missouri’s Drew Lock at 28.

AFC Notes: Foster, Joseph, Mack

Good news for Steelers fans. Left guard Ramon Foster, who was carted off the practice field yesterday, hyperextended his knee but did not suffer any ligament damage and will not require surgery, as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Kinkhabwala adds that Foster will miss four to five weeks but is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Now let’s get to more notes from around the AFC:

  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam expressed unwavering support of head coach Hue Jackson during Haslam’s traditional training camp address yesterday. Per Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, Haslam said, “I think we will see the real Hue Jackson (this year). He has good quarterbacks, he has some skill players, he has veteran offensive line – now, we have to figure out left tackle – and three really good backs and a good defense. I think this will be the first opportunity Hue will have to do what we know he can do as head coach and as a leader. We are excited to see it.” That certainly sounds to some, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Jackson is getting a clean slate, which is quite surprising for a head coach who has compiled a 1-31 record over his two seasons with the club. But Grossi suggests that the Haslams could also be subtly putting Jackson on notice that he is out of excuses.
  • Johnathan Joseph, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal to remain with the Texans this offseason, does not plan on calling it quits anytime soon, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old Joseph is entering the 13th year of his career, but he remains a starting cornerback and stills loves the game and the camaraderie it engenders. Joseph said, “as long as I’m healthy and I’m fine, I’m going to go out there and compete and contribute to the team. I’ll never play this game just to be playing and out there taking checks and stuff like that. So, if I’m able to be out there playing winning football, I’ll always play.”
  • We learned several days ago that Raiders star defensive end Khalil Mack, who is staying away from the team in an effort to land a new contract, has not spoken with head coach Jon Gruden since Gruden was hired in January. That report sent some of Raiders Nation into panic mode, but as Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News opines, there is no cause for alarm. He says Gruden is right to stay out of the negotiations, which is the domain of GM Reggie McKenzie and ownership, and that there should be no issues between Mack and Gruden when the contract situation does get resolved. McKenzie, meanwhile had no updates to offer on the negotiations.
  • In other Raiders news, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reports that rookie Kolton Miller will be given every chance to win the starting LT job from Donald Penn, who is currently on the PUP list.
  • Embattled Bills DE Shaq Lawson could be on his way out of Buffalo, but DC Leslie Frazier isn’t casting him aside just yet. Frazier said Lawson’s best football is ahead of him, and that he is much too young to say that 2018 is a make-or-break year (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW on Twitter). However, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets, Frazier also refers to Trent Murphy as the team’s starting left end, which is further evidence that Lawson has ground to make up if he wants to remain a Bill.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Mahomes, Penn

The Dolphins have a number of running backs who could realistically earn the starting gig this season. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore are the obvious frontrunners, and the organization is also expecting rookie Kalen Ballage to contribute at some point during the upcoming campaign.

With several options to choose from, running backs coach Eric Studesville made it sound like the Dolphins won’t necessarily opt for a two-headed (or even three-headed) monster.

“The guy that gives us the best chance to win, that gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to win,” Studesville told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, “that’s who’s got to be the guy who’s out there for us and helping us win football games.

“We’ve got to get everybody up to speed to where they all know it, we’re all confident in our assignments and then let them go play. And they’re going to sort out what those roles are as we go. I don’t think we have that set right now. We just have to wait and see how it goes.”

As the Dolphins sort out their running back depth, let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC…

  • Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes received a number of endorsement offers during his rookie campaign. However, the quarterback ended up turning down those deals, as he was more focused on gaining the respect of his teammates (instead of cashing every possible check). “We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile,” his agent, Leigh Steinberg, told ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing.” While it sounds like plenty of local businesses want to capitalize on Mahomes’ fame, the signal-caller will surely be eyeing some national gigs if his development goes as planned.
  • During this past year’s draft, the Raiders used the 15th-overall pick to select left tackle Kolton Miller. That selection didn’t sit well with incumbent left tackle Donald Penn. “I’m not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called [coach Jon] Gruden immediately,” Penn said during as appearance on Michael Rapoport’s podcast (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “He didn’t answer, but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, ‘You were ready to kick my a**, huh, Donald?! You were mad.” The 35-year-old, who has spent the past four years with the team, is still expected to start for the Raiders in 2018.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins made a pair of moves yesterday. The team signed first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to his rookie contract, and they signed cornerback Bobby McCain to an extension later that afternoon.

Raiders Sign Rookie Kolton Miller

The Raiders officially signed first-round offensive tackle Kolton Miller, according to a team announcement. Per the terms of his slot as the No. 15 overall pick, Miller will receive a four-year deal worth $13.5MM. 

On draft night, the Raiders the No. 10 pick to the Cardinals in exchange for the No. 15 selection, plus third- and fifth-round selections. The deal allowed them to add additional draft capital while securing Miller at a cheaper rate. Had they taken Miller at No. 10, the Raiders would have doled out an extra $4.1MM over the course of his four-year deal while also facing a more expensive decision on his fifth-year option for the 2022 season.

It seems likely that Jon Gruden had his eye on Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey at No. 10, but the 49ers beat them to the punch by selecting him ninth overall. Even though he’s a bit green, Miller is not a bad consolation prize, especially when considering the extra draft picks acquired in the trade.

Oakland’s initial offseason workouts involving rookies have featured Miller at left tackle, where Donald Penn remains a mainstay. Penn’s entering his fifth season as the Raiders’ starter there but is also coming into his age-35 season. And the Raiders have had issues at right tackle for a couple of seasons now, the undeniable weak link on what’s been a strong offensive line over the past few years, and it’s possible the UCLA product could begin his career there.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bay Area Notes: Johnson, Hurst, Miller, DBs

It sounds like Jon Gruden and Derrick Johnson hit it off in a one-on-one meeting, which led to the Raiders signing the 14th-year linebacker earlier on Friday. Johnson’s deal is a one-year agreement, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports, adding that it’s worth up to $3MM. Gruden looks to have been a Johnson fan for a while during his years as ESPN’s Monday Night Football analyst, and that intel may have played a key role in the 35-year-old off-ball ‘backer landing with Oakland.

I’m one of Gruden’s favorite players — he’s always had a soft spot for me,” Johnson said, via Paylor. “He’s always said that over the years. I’m not playing for a rebuilding-type year. I sensed an urgency from Coach Gruden that winning is important right now.”

The Chiefs’ all-time leading tackler, Johnson has not played in a 4-3 defense since the 2008 season. Prior to the Chiefs switching to the 3-4 look in 2009, Johnson worked as an outside linebacker with Kansas City during his first four seasons. The Raiders signed Tahir Whitehead as well. He, Bruce Irvin and Johnson could be the Raiders’ three linebacker starters, despite Johnson telling Paylor he’s not quite the same player he was since the second of his severe Achilles injuries shut him down late in the 2016 season.

Here’s the latest out of the Bay Area:

  • Gruden, though, did not rule out a NaVorro Bowman reunion (Twitter link via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area). Bowman is nearly six years younger than Johnson but also carries injury baggage. However, Bowman graded as Oakland’s best linebacker by a wide margin last season. The Raiders have maintained they’re still interested in Bowman throughout the offseason, but they’ve now added four linebackers — with Emmanuel Lamur and Kyle Wilber coming to California as well — since Bowman became a free agent.
  • The Raiders began their rookie minicamp with Kolton Miller working at left tackle, where he’ll likely be Donald Penn‘s backup. Gruden confirmed the team’s first-round pick will start his career there, per NFL.com’s James Palmer (on Twitter), despite the team being in need of an immediate right tackle starter. Third-round pick Brandon Parker will work at that position.
  • Maurice Hurst Jr.‘s been cleared for workouts and participated in the first day of the Raiders’ minicamp. Gruden said (via Bair, on Twitter) the team doesn’t have any reservations about the Michigan product, whose heart issues played a major role in him sliding into the fifth round. Gruden believes the Raiders landed the top two interior pass rushers in the draft in Hurst and second-round pick P.J. Hall, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via Twitter).
  • The 49ers plan to move third-round pick Tarvarius Moore from cornerback to safety, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notes. The Southern Mississippi alum ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, and his 6-foot-2 frame also makes John Lynch believe he could stick at corner. Interestingly, 5-9 safety D.J. Reed — an outside corner at Kansas State — will compete with K’Waun Williams for the slot job, per Barrows, but also practice at safety. San Francisco’s brass is clearly unafraid to shuttle its defensive backs around, having Jimmie Ward ready to potentially switch positions for the fourth straight offseason.
  • Would-be third-year DB Dexter McCoil broke a bone in his foot training independently, leading the 49ers to waive him with an NFI distinction, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. A 16-game Charger participant in 2016 and having played eight games with the 49ers last season, McCoil is facing a four- to six-week recovery period, per Maiocco.

Draft Rumors: Ravens, Seahawks, 49ers, Pats

Let’s dive into some last-minute draft rumors as we anticipate the start of the first round…

  • Should the Ravens go on the clock and Mike McGlinchey is off the board, it looks like they will strongly consider UCLA’s Kolton Miller. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets the Ravens are focused on Miller as a McGlinchey contingency plan at No. 16. These two are viewed by many as the top tackles in this year’s draft. Although Baltimore needs a right tackle after cutting Austin Howard, this serves as one of the possible Lamar Jackson destinations. Assuming the top four QB prospects are gone by this point in the draft, it could open up the trade market for the picks in the latter teens with the 2016 Heisman winner still available.
  • Albert Breer of SI.com writes that there are several teams interested in moving down, including the 49ers (No. 9), Seahawks (No. 18), Lions (No. 20), Titans (No. 25), and Eagles (No. 32). Seattle would have particular interest in trading their pick if safety Derwin James or any of the top pass-rushers are off the board. Meanwhile, Breer notes that San Francisco could benefit if a quarterback-needy team wants to trade up.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that he keeps hearing Miami defensive lineman Chad Thomas being connected to the Patriots. Thomas didn’t earn a spot on NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50 list, and he’s ultimately projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick. The senior was plenty productive in 2017, compiling 41 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.

NFL Draft Rumors: Guice, Redskins, Patriots, Bills, Giants, Darnold

Running back Derrius Guice visited the Redskins at their team facility on Monday, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Redskins have been public about their desire to add a pass-catching running back and Guice, with 18 catches last year at LSU, would fit the bill.

With needs to address on the other side of the ball, many believe that the Redskins will take a defensive player at No. 13 overall. However, the Redskins could probably trade back into the early 20s to take Guice and address their defensive holes later on.

Here’s the latest round of NFL draft news:

  • The Patriots hosted UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller on a pre-draft visit, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets.
  • Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen met with the Bills on Monday and will travel to the Giants on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, USC QB Sam Darnold met with the Giants on Monday and will meet with the Jets on Tuesday.
  • Linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Bengals on Monday, Rapoport tweets. The Bengals own the No. 21 pick in the draft, which could allow them to snag the Alabama standout.
  • Speaking of Alabama, Rapoport also notes that standout defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne met with the Redskins on Monday. Payne has shot up draft boards in recent weeks thanks to his remarkable strength. “He’s the best. He’s the best I’ve seen,”Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran said earlier this year. “I’ve never seen a guy hit 385 on the power clean every single year. His first year he hit 365 on the power clean and it was like wow, freshman, that’s incredible.
  • USC running back Ronald Jones visited the Patriots on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Within the same tweet, he notes that Stanford safety Justin Reid visited the Panthers before heading off to his Steelers visit.
  • Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson took a pre-draft visit to meet with the 49ers on Monday, a league source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 49ers have the ninth pick in the first round and Jackson is projected to come off the board as a middle-to-late first-round pick.
  • LSU pass-rusher Arden Key visited the Bears on Monday, Rapoport tweets. He also notes Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller visited the Redskins on Monday and Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson visited the Raiders.

Draft Notes: Nelson, Evans, Patriots

The 2018 draft class is considered to be one of the deepest in recent memory with respect to quarterback talent, and the quarterbacks are understandably dominating draft-related stories. But there are plenty of other collegiate players with the potential to dominate at the next level, so let’s round up a few non-QB draft notes:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes there is a “decent” chance that the Giants trade down from their No. 2 overall selection, and if they do, he believes Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson would be the target. Nelson is widely-regarded as the safest bet in the draft.
  • Because there is so much QB talent in the draft, as many as six signal-callers could be taken before New England’s No. 23 overall pick rolls around. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, that could allow the Patriots to land the type of player it rarely gets the chance to select, as they are typically picking at the end of the first round. Reiss suggests that Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans could be the team’s target, as he would provide much-needed speed at the LB position.
  • Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne, an excellent run-stuffer who has the skills to become a quality pass-rusher as well, will meet with the Bengals tomorrow, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union thinks the Jaguars need another TE who can threaten the middle of the field to take attention off their outside receivers, and he believes Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews would be a good fit for Jacksonville’s No. 29 overall selection.
  • Florida DT Taven Bryan has been generating a lot of buzz lately, per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, who tweets that the Gator could be a top-25 pick. Miller suggests the Falcons, who are working out another DT in N.C. State’s B.J. Hill, could be a fit.
  • Miller tweets that three offensive tackles are considered locks for Round 1: Texas’ Connor Williams, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller.
  • UCF’s Mike Hughes has a great deal of upside and is the No. 15 overall prospect in Daniel Jermiah’s most recent Top 50 rankings. However, Miller believes that, because of Hughes’ off-field concerns, he could be the fourth or fifth CB off the board (Twitter link).
  • There are four linebackers expected to be taken in the first round, per Miller (via Twitter): Evans, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, and Georgia’s Roquan Smith. Miller says Edmunds’ stock is rising rapidly and that he should be a top-10 selection.

Cowboys Arrange Several Pre-Draft Visits

Most of the prospects the Cowboys are planning to make part of their pre-draft visit itinerary will come through Dallas this week, with Albert Breer of SI.com reporting (on Twitter) numerous names have emerged.

Wide receivers Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore are among those who will trek to Texas for pre-draft summits. Defensive linemen Vita Vea, Harold Landry, Da’Ron Payne and Florida’s Taven Bryan will join them, per Breer. Offensive linemen Kolton Miller (UCLA) and James Daniels (Iowa) are also on this list, as is Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Teams are allotted 30 visits before drafts, and Dallas will examine plenty of incoming NFL talent in the coming days.

Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk is also on the Cowboys’ meeting list, although he is not expected to count against the 30-player maximum since he’s considered a local prospect. With Dez Bryant‘s future up in the air, the team is clearly interested in surveying what the 2018 crop looks like. Ridley, Kirk and Moore are the top three wide receivers on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com draft board and the only wideouts to appear on this 50-prospect list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.