Luke Falk

South Notes: Tepper, Mariota, Bucs

David Tepper may have been a minority owner of the Steelers before purchasing the Panthers for a league-record $2.275 billion, but he does not exactly fit the mold of your prototypical NFL owner. In a fascinating piece on the self-made billionaire, Kent Babb of the Washington Post describes how the enigmatic, unpolished Tepper could clash with the majority of the league’s straightlaced owners, and he wonders whether the league will ultimately change Tepper, or if Tepper might change the league. One way or another, Babb’s piece is worth a read.

Now for more from the league’s south divisions:

  • Despite some concerns that Titans QB Marcus Mariota could require a clean-up procedure on his knee this offseason, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com says Mariota never had such a procedure and that he has looked like his usual self in spring practices thus far. Wyatt adds that, while Blaine Gabbert appears to be entrenched as Mariota’s backup going into the 2018 season, the team is more likely to keep Luke Falk as the No. 3 QB rather than risk sneaking him onto the practice squad.
  • The top four spots on the Buccaneers‘ WR depth chart are already spoken for, but Bobo Wilson, a 2017 UDFA who spent much of his rookie campaign on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, is making his case to stick around. As Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times writes, head coach Dirk Koetter has spoken highly of Wilson, who will compete for reps with 2018 fifth-rounder Justin Hunter. Wilson also has the ability to return kicks, which will certainly help his cause.
  • The Buccaneers traded a fourth- and sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to move up to the No. 94 overall selection, which they used to select Humboldt State OL Alex Cappa. Auman believes that Cappa may not be a starter right away, but that he will quickly push for a job as a regular on the offensive line (Twitter link).
  • Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune believes the Saints were wise to put a “ceiling price” on big-name free agents like Jimmy Graham and Ndamukong Suh this offseason, and he says the approach to Graham and Suh was emblematic of the team’s overall effort to rely more on young, cheap talent rather than high-priced veterans. That shift has been difficult because of New Orleans’ poor draft record in recent years, but while the Saints have a long way to go, Holder says they are moving in the right direction. Indeed, although the offense is heavy on expensive contracts, the defense is largely built on youth and thrift.
  • Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and GM Brian Gaine have specific physical characteristics in mind for every player they draft or sign, and they do not like to make exceptions to those parameters, as Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com writes. O’Brien’s and Gaine’s goal is to create a roster full of “big, strong, physical” players, and while their offseason acquisitions clearly reflect that philosophy, it is now incumbent upon O’Brien and his staff to mold his roster into a playoff contender.

Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/18

Here are the rest of Thursday’s draft pick accords:

  • The Buccaneers signed one of their three second-round picks in cornerback M.J. Stewart (No. 53 overall), Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. They also agreed to terms with their final three picks — Kansas State safety Jordan Whitehead (Round 4, pick 117), Penn wide receiver Justin Watson (Round 5, pick 144) and Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy (Round 6, pick 202).
  • Five-sixths of this Falcons draft class is now signed. Atlanta agreed to a deal with third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat (No. 90 overall out of South Florida). After already signing four other selections, only first-rounder Calvin Ridley remains unsigned.
  • The Steelers signed one of the safeties they drafted last month in agreeing to terms with Penn State product Marcus Allen (Round 5, pick 148). Pittsburgh also signed Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier (Round 7, pick 246).
  • The Jaguars came to terms with four of their seven draftees — the final four Jacksonville selected in this year’s draft. N.C. State tackle Will Richardson (Round 4, pick 129), Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee (Round 6, pick 203), Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs (Round 7, pick 230) and Mississippi State punter Logan Cooke (Round 7, pick 247) all signed their first Jags contracts Thursday. Cooke has a clear path toward the Jags’ punter job since the team released Brad Nortman two days after the draft.
  • Beginning their signings, the Titans agreed to deals with half of their four-man draft class. Tennessee signed Arizona cornerback Dane Cruikshank (Round 5, pick 152) and Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (Round 6, pick 199). The latter will attempt to develop behind Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert.
  • Following suit in bringing aboard the back half of their draft, the Bills agreed to deals with four rookies. Jacksonville State safety Siran Neal, Virginia Tech guard Wyatt Teller (Round 5, pick 166), Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (Round 6, pick 187) and North Carolina wideout Austin Proehl (Round 7, pick 255) signed their initial Buffalo deals.
  • Second-round Panthers pick Donte Jackson (No. 55 overall) signed his rookie contract. Indiana tight end Ian Thomas (Round 4, pick 101), Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes (Round 4, pick 136), Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. (Round 5, pick 161) and Miami defensive tackle Kendrick Norton (Round 7, pick 242) followed suit.