Easton Stick

AFC West Notes: Wilson, Chargers, Chiefs

The Chargers made the biggest cornerback splash this offseason, signing ex-Patriot J.C. Jackson. While Jackson’s starting spot is known, the rest of the Bolts’ corner arrangement is not. Asante Samuel Jr. will enter training camp with the lead to be the team’s other outside starter, according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic (subscription required). With Bryce Callahan signed to play in the slot, this would move Michael Davis to a bench role. Davis, who signed a three-year deal worth $25.8MM to stay in Los Angeles last year, started all 14 games he played for the 2021 Chargers. He has worked as a starter for the past three seasons. Pro Football Focus ranked both he and Samuel outside its top 80 corners last season, however. Samuel playing in the slot over Callahan, with Jackson and Davis outside, is another option for the Bolts, Popper adds. Callahan, who dealt with extensive injury problems in Denver, signed for barely the league minimum after the draft.

Shifting first to Denver, here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Although the NFL is amid its quiet period, the Broncos‘ new quarterback will host a pre-training camp of sorts ahead of the team reconvening. Russell Wilson will gather his pass catchers for a mid-July summit in San Diego, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Broncos have their top four wide receivers (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler) and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam back, and Melvin Gordon‘s re-signing kept the team’s 2021 backfield intact. But Denver newcomers Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett‘s presences obviously loom larger, and the 11th-year QB will take advantage of some off time to accelerate his rapport with his new teammates.
  • Shifting back to L.A., the Bolts are planning to keep Kyle Van Noy in the versatile role he held with the Patriots. The post-draft free agency addition is expected to both work as an edge rusher and an off-ball linebacker, per Popper. Van Noy played both spots during the Bolts’ offseason program. The 31-year-old linebacker should be expected to be the team’s No. 3 edge rusher, behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, Popper adds. With the Pats and Dolphins over the past three years, Van Noy combined for 17.5 sacks.
  • Easton Stick‘s rookie contract expires after the 2022 season, and despite the Chargers having Chase Daniel back to be Justin Herbert‘s top backup, Popper notes the team is grooming the North Dakota State product to be Herbert’s post-Daniel QB2. Dating back to Tyrod Taylor‘s tenure, Stick, 26, has been L.A.’s third-stringer throughout his career. Carson Wentz‘s Bison successor has thrown one regular-season pass.
  • A Chiefs exec since 2017, Tim Terry is staying put with a new title. The team bumped him up to senior director of pro personnel, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Terry, 47, has been a key front office staffer for a while. Prior to coming to Kansas City, he spent eight years as the Packers’ assistant director of player personnel. The Chiefs lost one of Brett Veach‘s top lieutenants, assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles, this offseason. Poles is now the Bears’ GM.

Chargers Slash Roster To 53

In addition to the Chargers’ Russell Okung announcement, they finalized their 53-man roster.

Cardale Jones did not make the team, with Los Angeles going with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Easton Stick behind Philip Rivers. The XFL has openly mentioned Jones on multiple occasions, so the former Bills and Ohio State passer could be a high-profile candidate for the upstart league.

Here are the Bolts’ Saturday cuts:

Chargers Sign Four Draft Picks

The Chargers inked half of their draft class to contracts this morning. The team announced (via Twitter) that they’ve signed four rookies:

Tranquill has the best shot of establishing a role with the Chargers in 2019. While Los Angeles did add free agent Thomas Davis, the team is only rostering 11 linebackers at the moment (not including undrafted rookies). Plus, Tranquill previously played safety in college, and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will surely look for creative ways to capitalize on the rookie’s versatility. The Notre Dame product finished the 2018 season having compiled 86 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Egbule should also have a chance to rise up the linebackers depth chart. At the very least, the sixth-rounder out of Houston should contribute on special teams, and his speed will put him in position for plenty of tackles. Egbule wrapped up his collegiate career with 69 tackles and two sacks.

Stick is another intriguing prospect, but mostly because of his position. Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor will start the season atop the Chargers’ depth chart, but Stick will have an opportunity to compete with Cardale Jones for that third spot. Last season, Stick completed a career-high 62.3-percent of his passes for 2,752 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also added another 677 rushing yards.

Following today’s moves, the Chargers still have three unsigned draft picks: first-round defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, second-round safety Nasir Adderley, and third-round offensive tackle Trey Pipkins.

AFC Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/19

The latest 2019 draft pick signings from around the AFC:

  • The Jets agreed to terms with two more rookies, signing fifth round linebacker Blake Cashman and sixth round cornerback Blessaun Austin. Cashman had 104 tackles at Minnesota last year, including 15 for a loss. He earned a second-team All-Big Ten selection for his work last year. Only third overall pick Quinnen Williams and third-rounders Jachai Polite and Chuma Edoga remain unsigned for New York.
  • The Chargers inked two more players to their rookie deals, signing fifth round quarterback Easton Stick and fourth round linebacker Drue Tranquill. Stick, a North Dakota State product, was highly productive as a runner in college and many analysts projected a potential position change in the pros. That being said, the Chargers have said they plan on keeping Stick at quarterback. Tranquill is now wrapped up, and the Chargers can hopefully get his Notre Dame teammate, Jerry Tillery, signed soon. Most of the Chargers’ draft class remains unsigned as they just inked their first player earlier today.
  • The Bengals signed a crop of five players, representing half of their class. They wrapped up fourth-rounders Renell Wren and Michael Jordan, sixth round running backs Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson, and seventh round cornerback Jordan Brown. Jordan, a Miami product, has some potential upside and could help replenish Cincinnati’s secondary. Williams, from Texas A&M, and Anderson, from Oklahoma, will be battling it out for a role behind Joe Mixon in the Bengals’ backfield. Anderson used to be seen as one of the nation’s top running backs, but injuries have derailed his career. This draft class will always be a monumental one for the Bengals, as it represents the first year of the post-Marvin Lewis era.

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Stick, Broncos

On Saturday, the Chargers drafted their first quarterback since 2013 when they tapped North Dakota State University quarterback Easton Stick. Stick, who rushed for 2,523 yards and 41 TDs, was pegged by some as a Taysom Hill type who could be deployed more as a trick play type than a traditional QB, but the Bolts say that’s not how they plan on using him.

He’s going to play quarterback for us. We have running backs,” head coach Anthony Lynn said (via the Associated Press). “We don’t a need a quarterback that can run all over the place, but he can certainly create when he has to.”

Of course, as a fifth-round pick, nothing is guaranteed for the mobile signal caller. Stick will look to stick on the Chargers’ roster by proving himself between now and the start of the season in September.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Giants GM Dave Gettleman raised eyebrows everywhere when he selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones No. 6 overall. After the draft, he defended the pick by saying that two teams were prepared to select Jones before the Giants’ next pick at No. 17. So far, it has been hard to identify who these two teams might be, and Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter) confirms that the Broncos were not one of them. The Broncos, he hears, ruled out taking any QB at No. 10 overall and, furthermore, had Drew Lock as their top-ranked QB – not Jones.
  • The Raiders provided the draft’s other major first round surprise when they tapped Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. Many feel that the Raiders reached for the defensive end, but that’s not how defensive coordinator Paul Guenther sees it. “It wasn’t about his 40-time or his three-cone drill or any of that [BS], it was about the whole package,” the DC said (via The Athletic). “There just aren’t a lot of guys like this. Some guys are great standing up, but you have to get down and dirty in the NFL. They are not just going to let you run up the field all day, you know what I am saying? Then you hear him talk and you’re like, ‘Damn, this guy is a pro.’
  • Over the weekend, longtime Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski announced his retirement from the NFL.