Mitch Trubisky

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.

 

Jets Notes: Pryor, Draft, Coaching Staff

Darryl Slater and Connor Hughes of NJ.com wonder if the Jets could decide to trade former first-round pick Calvin Pryor this offseason. The 24-year-old just completed his third NFL season, but the safety has yet to establish himself as a “huge difference maker.” The Jets will eventually have to decide whether they want to pick up the player’s fifth-year option, and the organization could ultimately decide to put that responsibility on another team.

The two writers suggest a trade with the Seahawks that would send Pryor to Seattle and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to New York. The 2016 first-round pick played in six games (six starts) for the Seahawks this past season.

Slater and Hughes touch on a number of additional topics in their latest column. We’ve compiled some of the notable tidbits below…

  • The Jets “love” Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson. The 6-2, 253-pound defender had a monster season in 2016, compiling 61 tackles and 8.5 sacks. If Anderson drops to the second round, Slater and Hughes believe the Jets could zero in on him. The organization is also “doing their homework” on the tight end class.
  • The duo notes that the Jets’ two biggest needs are at quarterback and the offensive line. Unfortunately, the organization isn’t going to find elite talent from those positions in this year’s draft. While North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky would be an intriguing option, Slater and Hughes are doubtful that the player will fall to the Jets’ sixth-overall pick.
  • Todd Bowles has started to fill out his staff, but he still has a vacancy at defensive line coach. Slater and Hughes suggest that Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner could be an option, especially since the two coaches worked together in Arizona for two years. While Bowles is a big fan of Buckner, it’s unlikely that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians would just let him go.
  • The Jets were originally hoping to promote quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo to offensive coordinator following Chan Gailey‘s inevitable retirement. However, the Jets offense struggled mightily this past season, and the organization decided to look elsewhere to fill the vacancy. Slater and Hughes note that the Jets are still fans of Patullo, but they didn’t feel comfortable making him their offensive coordinator.

Draft Rumors: Kaaya, Trubisky, King, Mixon

At least one NFL scout believes that Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya made a “huge mistake” by declaring for the 2017 draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. In fact, nearly every source at the Senior Bowl thinks that Kaaya will still be on the board on Day 3 of the draft, when Rounds 4-7 take place. The Bears, for one, have already been linked to Kaaya, whom some scouts have called the smartest of this year’s QB crop.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • Several NFL teams are moving Iowa defensive back Desmond King from their cornerback boards to their safety lists, per Pauline. King, whom Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (Insider link) ranks as the sixth-best CB available, has teams worried due to his lack of speed, which could be negated by shifting to the back end. King manged 14 interceptions and 33 passes defensed during his four-year run with the Hawkeyes.
  • Clubs are split on North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky due to his lack of starting experience, Pauline writes in a separate article. Trubisky started only 13 games, all in 2016, before deciding to enter the draft, but is still likely to become a first-round selection. The Jets are reportedly high on the Tar Heel signal-caller, but Pauline said that enthusiasm has been somewhat “tempered,” though New York is still among the cadre of teams that will consider Trubisky.
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon did not receive a first-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board as he previously stated, and in fact, did not receive a grade at all as Oklahoma did not submit his name to the committee, reports Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Mixon, of course, was caught on video striking a woman during an altercation in a restaurant, and some evaluators believe he may now go undrafted. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, however, hears Mixon could be selected as high as the second round.
  • Miller passes on quite a few more notes in his must-read Scouting Notebook, including the fact that Florida’s Quincy Wilson has surpassed Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore on many cornerback boards, and that scout are infatuated with the depth of this year’s running back class.

Draft Notes: QBs, Browns, Alabama

Thanks in part to his heroics this past Monday in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, outgoing Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s draft stock is soaring, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN. After Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and four touchdowns (one rushing) in Clemson’s 35-31 win over Alabama, two NFL personnel directors and one general manager informed Schefter that the 21-year-old will go in the top half of the first round this spring. All regard Watson as a soon-to-be top 10 pick, and it’s possible he’ll go to the Browns at No. 1 overall.

“He struggled some in midseason, so everyone got off him,” said a personnel director. “But these last couple of weeks, he’s skyrocketing up to the top 10 picks, with the two playoff game wins. Now people are going to say, ‘Wait a minutes, he’s played Alabama the past couple of years really well, he won a national championship, he can be a Mariota, he can be a [Dak] Prescott, great character, great kid.’ People will not want to miss him. I think he’s definitely going in the top 10.”

A bit more on Cleveland and the draft:

  • While the Browns also own the 12th pick in the draft, odds are they’ll have to take a quarterback at No. 1 – be it Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky or Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer – if they like him enough, several draft experts and talent evaluators told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “A lot of teams need quarterbacks and they will overvalue them and reach,” an NFL personnel executive said. In assessing the three signal-callers, a talent evaluator opined, “[Watson] was very impressive in that game and has a special skill set. Accuracy is always a concern. His body of work makes him safer than Trubisky, but Trubisky has a big upside. Kizer is solid, but I don’t think he’s ready to play right away. Watson appears to be the only one who could hold his own right now.” The Browns reportedly “love” Trubisky, but taking him, Watson or Kizer would mean passing on Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett – with whom they’re also smitten.
  • Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson, wide receiver ArDarius Stewart and cornerback Marlon Humphrey each declared for the draft Friday. CBS Sports ranks Robinson as the 12th-best player in this year’s class and the top tackle in a weak crop. Humphrey isn’t far behind (No. 15), while the outlet projects Stewart to go in the second round.
  • Another Alabama product, edge rusher Tim Williams, is likely to slip out of the first round because of Randy Gregory-esque issues with substances (marijuana, to be exact), according to Charlie Champbell of WalterFootball.com. Like Gregory, whom the NFL handed a one-year suspension earlier this month (already the third ban of his two-year career), Williams has several failed drug tests to his name. Williams picked up 18.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss during his final two years at Alabama, but similarly excellent college production wasn’t enough for Gregory (16.5 sacks, 26.5 TFL) to go in Round 1 in 2015. It seems Williams’ case will be a repeat this year.

UNC QB Mitch Trubisky To Enter NFL Draft

North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky announced that he is declaring for the NFL Draft. In a piece on The Players Tribune, Trubisky bid farewell to Chapel Hill: Mitch Trubisky (vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 NFL Draft Order]

After a lot of prayer and thought, I have decided to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft. This has been the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. But no matter what happens next, I know I’ll never experience something as special as being a Tar Heel,” Trubisky wrote.

This year’s class of quarterbacks is underwhelming, but Trubisky seems to be universally considered as the top signal caller in the crop. Reportedly, he is the only QB that is a first-round lock whereas others like Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer are marked for Day 2.

The Browns, who pick No. 1 overall, reportedly “love” the 22-year-old. The Jets, at No. 6, also like the UNC standout, but the 49ers and Bears hold picks in the top five and could target a quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jags, Pats, Browns, Jets, Chiefs

Thanks to the now-fired Gus Bradley‘s disastrous stint as a first-time head coach, the Jaguars are unlikely to hire a replacement who doesn’t bring prior experience, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. That makes it all the more probable the team will tab a previously reported candidate like Tom Coughlin, who interviewed Wednesday, interim head coach Doug Marrone or ex-Falcons head coach and current Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Steelers O-coordinator Todd Haley have also been head coaches, but it’s unlikely either will end up a match for Jacksonville, per Mortensen.

More from the AFC:

  • Patriots receiver Michael Floyd could face a mandatory 180 days in jail, not the previously reported 45, for his Dec. 12 arrest in Arizona on a Super Extreme DUI charge, report Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Whether the harsher punishment will enter the fray will come down to whether the courts in Arizona regard this as a second offense for Floyd, who has a prior DUI arrest under his belt from his time at Notre Dame. If Floyd gets 180 days, it could put his availability for next season in jeopardy. The impending free agent is currently slated for a pretrial hearing on Feb. 24, just two weeks before he’s scheduled to hit the open market.
  • With the first pick in next year’s draft in their sights, Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown and vice president Andrew Berry attended Friday’s Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, to scout North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, writes Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Brown and Berry were previously on hand Wednesday at the Houston Bowl to observe Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, another potential No. 1 overall pick. Trubisky, a junior, hasn’t yet declared for the draft, but the Ohio native is expected to forgo his senior season in favor of the pros. The Browns reportedly “love” the 22-year-old.
  • The Jets brought free agent cornerback Chris Culliver in for a Friday visit – but not a workout – tweets Courtney Fallon of NFL Network. Meanwhile, fellow corner Tharold Simon worked out for Gang Green, relays ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Culliver, whom the Dolphins released Nov. 19, didn’t play a game this year after a torn ACL limited him to just six contests as a member of the Redskins last season. Simon appeared in nine games with the Cardinals earlier this season, but the ex-Seahawk barely made a dent on the stat sheet (five tackles).
  • The Chiefs tried out free agent defensive backs Elijah Shumate and Jeff Richards on Friday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter links). Neither has appeared in an NFL game.

Draft Notes: Mixon, Trubisky, Fournette

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon was/is thinking about entering the 2017 draft, but since the video of him striking a woman has been released, GMs around the league have told people close to him that he won’t get drafted, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com writes. Beyond that, they say there’s even a chance he won’t be signed as a free agent and he may not even get a combine invite if he declares. At this point, Pauline says he should return to OU – if that’s even an option for him.

Just two weeks ago, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report heard that teams were “softening” on Mixon and the first round was still in reach for him. Apparently, teams are changing their tune after viewing the video.

Here’s a look at the latest draft news:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Palmer, Edwards Jr., Trubisky

Which quarterbacks will be available this offseason? NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal has you covered. Besides listing the impending free agents (including Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins), the writer also takes a look at several trade and release candidates.

The writer’s list of potential trade candidates is led by Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, while Tony Romo (Cowboys), Tyrod Taylor (Bills), and A.J. McCarron (Bengals) also earn mentions. Meanwhile, Rosenthal’s release candidates include Jay Cutler (Bears), Colin Kaepernick (49ers), Robert Griffin III (Browns), and Nick Foles (Chiefs).

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has struggled for stretches this season, but the veteran doesn’t sound like he’s considering retirement. “Haven’t thought about next year but I expect to play in 2017,” the 36-year-old said today (via Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 on Twitter).
  • UNC QB Mitch Trubisky still hasn’t decided whether he’ll forego his senior season and declare for the NFL draft, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). Trubisky has had a breakout campaign, compiling 3,468 yards, 28 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
  • Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said he had a “very solid workout” yesterday, and Caplan reports (via Twitter) that the second-year player could make his season debut next week. Edwards hasn’t played since injuring his hip during the preseason.
  • As organization’s begin to look at potential general manager candidates for next season, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss says that Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort could be pursued. Reiss cites the success of four current NFL general managers who “cut their teeth” in New England: Bob Quinn (Lions,) Jon Robinson (Titans), Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons), and Jason Licht (Buccaneers).