Mitch Trubisky

Latest On Browns’ Draft Plans

The Browns remain expected to take Myles Garrett with their No. 1 overall pick, and the team has already observed the Texas A&M edge defender during a private workout, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. However, more mystery surrounds Cleveland’s second first-round selection.

Acquired after the Eagles traded up to take Carson Wentz, the Browns’ designs for the No. 12 pick appear to be rather quarterback-centric at this point. Cleveland’s brass conducted private workouts with both DeShone Kizer and Patrick Mahomes. The Browns are also expected to observe Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson soon but will do so privately. The team has been skipping pro days in lieu of focusing on potential draft targets privately. Hue Jackson did attend Malik Hooker‘s in Columbus, however.

While the Kizer has been rated as the better prospect, with the Notre Dame passer almost unanimously expected to go off the board in Round 1, the Browns are believed to prefer Mahomes. Cabot reports the Browns indeed like the Texas Tech air raid conductor better than Kizer and notes both are under consideration, along with Watson and Trubisky, for Cleveland’s No. 12 overall choice.

In addition to the private workouts, the Browns plan to bring top prospects to their Berea, Ohio, headquarters for official visits. Unless one of the quarterbacks “blows the team away” during the next month, Cabot writes the Browns are expected to take Garrett and focus on aerial help after that pick.

Mahomes’ status may be the most difficult to pin down of the upper-tier quarterback prospects. Given a second-round grade, the ex-Red Raiders signal-caller has been linked to a possible early first-round 1 selection as well. Three teams with aging quarterbacks — the Saints, Chargers and Cardinals — each are interested as well.

The Browns have also been linked to Jimmy Garoppolo with their No. 12 pick and have been attached to Watson and Trubisky during the draft process, the Clemson passer in particular with the No. 12 pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rams, Eagles, Cards, Saints

Connor Barwin‘s decision to sign with the Rams last week came thanks in part to the presence of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the edge rusher told the Associated Press. “Wade did a lot for me in the two years I was with Houston,” said Barwin, who played under Phillips as a Texan from 2011-12. “He taught me so much about being a pro, enjoying being around the game every single day, and he really elevated my game as a pass rusher.” Barwin only hit free agency in the first place because the Eagles released him, which came after he rejected a pay cut. While the 30-year-old said in December he’d be open to reducing his $7.5MM salary for 2017 to remain with the Eagles, their offer was “far below” what he thought he’d get on the market, per the AP. Ultimately, the Rams gave Barwin a one-year deal worth a max of $6.5MM.

More from the NFC:

  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim likes North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, according to the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley, who writes that the executive is facing a dilemma entering the draft. The Cardinals need a long-term answer under center, meaning choosing Trubisky or another signal-caller with the 13th overall pick is a possibility. However, using a first-rounder on a player who won’t help in 2017 isn’t going to benefit a team whose window could be closing as starting QB Carson Palmer, top wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and head coach Bruce Arians near the end of the line. At the same time, though, Keim doesn’t want to be left without a potential successor to the soon-to-be 38-year-old Palmer if he retires after next season. That might end up being the case if Keim doesn’t grab a quarterback in the early rounds.
  • The Eagles have picked up two established receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason, but Paul Domowitch of Philly.com could still envision the team selecting a wideout in Round 1 of the draft. Jeffery and Smith might not be Eagles beyond next season, for one, while Jordan Matthews is on track to hit free agency next March. So, while Philadelphia’s receiving corps looks like a strength right now, it lacks long-term certainty.
  • The Saints converted left tackle Terron Armstead‘s $5MM roster bonus to a signing bonus, thereby creating $4MM in cap room for 2017, reports Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link). The move doesn’t come without a penalty, though, as the Saints will add $1MM in cap charges in each season from from 2018-21 – the final four years of Armstead’s contract.
  • Defensive tackle Jordan Hill‘s contract with the Lions is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $775K, tweets Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. The pact comes with $45K in guarantees, a $40K signing bonus, and another $40K if he makes the Lions’ 53-man roster.

Draft Rumors: Jones, Mixon, Trubisky, 49ers

Washington cornerback Sidney Jones underwent surgery today to repair his torn Achilles, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones, who suffered the devastating injury at his Pro Day earlier this month, is expected to resume running in four months. Projected to be selected in the first round before the Achilles tear, Jones himself tweeted today that he’ll be able to play during the 2017 season, though that could certainly be optimistic.

Here’s more on the 2017 draft:

  • Jones isn’t the only cornerback prospect to be hit by injury, as UCLA defensive back Fabian Moreau is believed to have suffered a pectoral injury while performing a bench press today, tweets Courtney Fallon of NFL.com, who cautions that the “full extent” of the injury is unclear at present. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com projected Moreau as a back-end first round pick (and the third-best cornerback on the board) before news of his injury broke.
  • UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky will work out for the Browns, Jets, 49ers, and Chiefs, among others, per Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Trubisky, considered one of the top-three signal-callers in this year’s class, is a surefire first-round pick and may be selected within the top five. Cleveland, for one, was said to be “strongly considering” Trubisky with the first overall pick, although that talk has died down recently.
  • Controversial running back Joe Mixon met with the Raiders on Monday, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because Mixon is from the Bay Area, his visit with Oakland won’t count against the Raiders’ allotment of 30 predraft meetings. Although video has surfaced of Mixon physically assaulting a female, he’s still expected to be drafted next month and a number of clubs have preceded the Raiders in meeting with the Oklahoma back.

Browns Rumors: Garoppolo, Pryor, Zeitler

It sounds like talk of Jimmy Garoppolo being pulled off the trade block was not entirely accurate. Still, if he is still available, it could take an awful lot to pry him loose. It might take as much as a No. 1 pick this year plus a No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. That’s a price the Browns are very unlikely to meet, Cabot adds. Jimmy Garoppolo (vertical)

The Browns would very much like to have Garoppolo and their dream scenario right now would be to land him via trade while drafting pass rusher Myles Garrett No. 1 overall. Failing that, they have their eyes on getting Garrett at the top of the draft and landing either Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson at No. 12. That scenario will become a little more realistic if teams like the 49ers, Jets, and Bears address their QB situations before the draft. The Browns could also conceivably use their draft stockpile to trade up from No. 12 and get their desired signal caller.

In other Browns news, one source estimates that Terrelle Pryor is seeking somewhere between $13MM and $15MM per year. If that’s the asking price, Cabot believes the Browns will let him walk. Reportedly, he has been contacted by the Giants, 49ers, Titans, and Eagles. The Steelers, depending on who you ask, may also have interest.

A Pryor return may or may not be in the cards, but the Browns will likely pursue Bengals free agent guard Kevin Zeitler, a league source tells Cabot. Zeitler played for coach Hue Jackson in Cincinnati and that connection could help lead to a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns “Blown Away” By Myles Garrett’s Combine

The Browns have understandably eyed Myles Garrett for a while, but now that the Texas A&M-honed pass-rusher showcased some of his skills at the Combine, the team is moving closer to making him the No. 1 overall pick. Browns personnel were “blown away” by Garrett’s Sunday showing, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports, adding that Garrett impressed the team with his interview as well.

Cabot reports the Browns are close to making Garrett the choice atop the draft, this coming after Mitch Trubisky appeared to re-enter the race for Cleveland’s top pick. Trubisky is a Cleveland-area native and plays the position the Browns obviously need most, but Cabot notes the Browns “probably won’t” be able to pass on the draft’s consensus top player.

Garrett weighed 272 pounds and ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, which is the fifth-best mark ever for a defensive lineman weighing at least 270 pounds. The former Aggie coupled that with 33 bench press repetitions. Although dealing with a shoulder issue, Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen — another player whom the Browns are considering at No. 1 — repped 225 pounds 21 times. Garrett’s 41-inch vertical jump was the highest for a 270-pound D-lineman since Mario Williams in 2006.

Cabot adds that new Browns DC Gregg Williams “loves” Garrett, with a source comparing him to former Williams protege, Jevon Kearse.

They’re both freaks,” the source told Cabot. “And Kearse changed the Titans’ franchise.”

Deshaun Watson is the fourth player the Browns are considering with the No. 1 overall pick, per Cabot, but the buzz Garrett generated on Sunday looks to have clearly put him in the lead here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Strongly Considering Trubisky At #1

The Browns are strongly considering drafting Mitch Trubisky No. 1 overall, league sources tell Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Trubisky has long been connected to Cleveland, so today’s news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Mitch Trubisky (vertical)

[RELATED: 49ers Willing To Trade No. 2 Pick]

Before this week’s combine, there were rumblings that the UNC product would measure in closer to 6’1″ than his billed 6’2″+ height. On Thursday, he silenced that talk when he officially came in at 6’2″ and one-eighth of an inch. The difference might seem trivial, but talent evaluators are obsessed with height at the quarterback position and the extra inch or two can make a huge difference when trying to see over the defensive line. Johnny Manziel and Rex Grossman are the only two QBs under 6’1″ that have been selected in the first round in the last 15 years. Neither pick panned out.

Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett is also believed to be a leading candidate at No. 1 overall.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mitch Trubisky Will Throw At Combine

North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky could be the first quarterback off the board and possibly the first player drafted in April. Sometimes, elite QB prospects like him forego drills at the combine, but he’ll be throwing for scouts in Indianapolis, his father tells Mark Podolski of the News Herald. Mitch Trubisky (Vertical)

Trubisky will participate in most of the drills offered at the combine, including the 40-yard dash. However, he will not do the bench press. Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has a similar gameplan and will not attempt to bench 225 pounds as many times as possible (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson told The Associated Press that he plans to do “everything” when it comes to combine drills (link via The Associated Press). Ditto for Cal’s Davis Webb (via Dalton Johnson of CSNBayArea.com). Overall, it sounds like most of this year’s top quarterbacks will be full or near full participants in the Underwear Olympics.

Trubisky’s biggest test might not be in the drills, but in the measurements portion of the combine. His high school coach told the News Herald that he is a legit 6’2″, but there are rumors that he is actually under 6’1″. That may not sound like a big deal, but only two QBs at 6’1″ and under (Johnny Manziel and Rex Grossman) have been selected in the first round in the last 15 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Lacy, Seahawks

As Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes, the Cowboys are $11-$13MM over the projected 2017 salary cap, but it will be fairly easy for them to clear space and to give themselves enough room to conduct their offseason business and sign a free agent or three. For instance, they could restructure the deals of Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, and given the relative youth of those two players, such restructures should not hamstring the club in the long run. Dallas could also save a fair amount of money by restructuring Sean Lee‘s deal and giving Jason Witten an extension, and obviously the impending departure of Tony Romo will be a boon to the team’s cap situation. As such, the notion that the Cowboys are in “cap hell” and will be forced to be bystanders in free agency is more of a myth than reality.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from around the league:

  • It will be tempting for the Packers to let Eddie Lacy walk in free agency, but as Pete Dougherty of USA Today writes, one agent expects Lacy to get no more than a one-year, $2MM pact on the open market. Even if such a contract were loaded with incentives, it would still represent a small risk for Green Bay with the potential for a high reward, and Dougherty believes the team should make that gamble.
  • Six Seahawks players saw their 2017 base salaries become guaranteed on Saturday, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports. Those players form a major part of Seattle’s foundation: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett, and Jeremy Lane. As Condotta observes, the only player on that list about whom there might have been some intrigue is Lane, who signed a four-year, $23MM deal last offseason but who failed to meet expectations in 2016.
  • Last offseason, Prince Amukamara bet on himself and took a one-year deal with the Jaguars in an attempt to prove that he could stay healthy and productive over the course of a full season. He was largely successful, as he appeared in 14 games (12 starts) and graded out as an above-average corner per Pro Football Focus. Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida-Times Union believes Amukamara thinks he should be paid as a No. 1 or 1A cornerback (an average of $8-9MM per year), but as he would be the No. 2 corner in Jacksonville behind Jalen Ramsey, it is unclear whether the Jags will meet his demands, even though they have the resources to do so.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke to one high-level NFL personnel executive who believes that Mitch Trubisky has more upside than Carson Wentz and that the Browns would be wise to select him with the No. 1 overall pick. The Browns also hold this year’s No. 12 overall choice, but Trubisky will not fall that far, so if Cleveland wants him, they will need to make him the top choice in the draft.
  • Former UVA standout Ausar Walcott, who was signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 draft, is resuming the pursuit of his NFL dream, as Dan Duggan of NJ.com writes. Walcott was charged with attempted murder in June 2013, and was subsequently cut by Cleveland. The charge was eventually dropped to aggravated assault, and while Walcott was free on bail, he was certainly not going to be signed by an NFL club while he was embroiled in a legal battle. But he was acquitted by a jury a few months ago, and the 27-year-old hopes to at least catch on with a CFL team as he tries to work his way back to the NFL.

Draft Notes: Garrett, Trubisky, Mixon

Myles Garrett is a candidate to picked first-overall in the upcoming draft, but the Texas A&M defensive end is hoping a specific team with a late first-rounder will make a deal to select him. In a video published on ESPN.com, Garrett urged Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to make a deal to acquire the talented defensive lineman.

“I’m speaking to you, Jerry,” Garrett said (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). “Mr. [coach Jason] Garrett, make it happen. Dak Prescott is leading our team right now. I need you to take Tony Romo, take a couple picks and give them to Cleveland so you can pick me up. Please. I’d love to play in Dallas. Just make it happen.”

Of course, following those comments, Garrett had to backtrack and clarify that he’d be fine being selected by the Browns with the top pick in the draft.

“People might say they’re this, they’re that or I made a comment about cold weather and they kind of put it toward Cleveland,” Garrett explained. “It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll play wherever they put me, and it’s about your mindset. If you go out there with a mindset that you’re going to turn things around, you can make that contagious and people start to believe in it, you can turn into a winning program wherever you go.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes pertaining to this year’s draft class…

  • While Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk were previously considered to be the best offensive tackles in the draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller believes Utah lineman Garrett Bolles is now the top prospect at the position. While the 24-year-old’s age may hurt his draft stock, Miller points to Robinson’s lack of production and Ramczyk’s injury concerns as reasons why Bolles could be the first offensive tackle selected. In fact, the writer believes the Utah lineman could be taken in the first 10 or 15 picks.
  • While there are questions regarding the top quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, one general manager told Miller that UNC signal-caller Mitch Trubisky is “a top-five lock.” While Trubisky is competing with Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer to be the first quarterback selected, Miller believes most teams regard the UNC product as the top prospect at the position.
  • Alex Marvez of The Sporting News points out (via Twitter) that only 16 quarterbacks were invited to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. There are generally 19 or 20 signal-callers who participate in the event, and Marvez believes the low numbers are indicative of the “projected quality at the position.”
  • Despite some recent talk to the contrary, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) says that many teams already view Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon as undraftable. The offensive weapon certainly has the skill, as he finished this past season with 1,274 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on only 187 carries. Of course, troubling off-the-field issues have clouded Mixon’s draft status.
  • Ole Miss wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow was not invited to the combine, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (via Twitter). Stringfellow pleaded guilty to assault following a 2014 altercation, and he was also charged with disorderly conduct in early 2015. The wideout finished this past season with 46 catches for 716 yards.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Albert Breer On Draft, Mixon, Trubisky

Could teams strike gold in this year’s draft? Those in the know tell Albert Breer of The MMQB that this is an exceptionally deep class.

Depth-wise, it’s great,” said one AFC executive. “What I like about it is, if we do our job, and have faith in our scouts, we can get starters into the fifth round.”

It’s a very good draft,” a top personnel executive for an NFC team added. “If you’re in a position like Cleveland is with a lot of picks—and you still gotta pick the right guys—but it’s an excellent draft. Very deep across the board.”

Breer’s entire column is worth a read, but here’s a look at some of the highlights:

  • There has been a lot of talk about Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon going undrafted, but one area scout is insistent that he’ll be taken. “It needs to be the right market, a team that can handle the onslaught, the right PR staff, because you’ll have to weather the storm,” said one area scout assigned to the Sooners. “But the guy the Chiefs drafted (Tyreek Hill), Joe Mixon isn’t half the douchebag that guy was. … You’d have to search to find people that don’t like him. Maybe the parking-lot attendant. Everyone there loves him. And I believe them.”
  • This year’s class of quarterbacks might not be as weak as advertised, according to some officials. “It’s a good quarterback class,” said our NFC exec. “Realistically, all five of those guys (Mitch Trubisky, DeShaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes, and Davis Webb) go in the first two rounds.” That’s a bold prediction on the part of that anonymous exec since there have been only five drafts (2014, ’12, ’11, ’07, ’06) since 2000 in which five QBs went inside the first two rounds.
  • Meanwhile, it sounds like Trubisky is still the leader of the pack. “I’ll be shocked if Trubisky’s not the first one off the board,” said one AFC exec. One AFC scout is confident that he’s a “top two or three pick.” However, as Breer notes, the UNC QB doesn’t project as a superstar and it remains to be seen whether a team is willing to burn a top pick on someone who projects to be more of an Andy Dalton than a Tom Brady.
  • The strength of this year’s class will be in the secondary and at running back, Breer writes. There’s also depth when it comes to wide receiver and tight end. Where this class is lacking, however, is on the offensive line. NFL execs tell Breer that they are worried this is not a one-time instance, but a sign of things to code. The spread offense and practice restrictions, they say, are hurting the quality of college offensive linemen.