Taylor Moton

South Rumors: Conklin, Colts, Panthers

As expected, the Titans placed Jack Conklin on the PUP list at the outset of training camp. The third-year right tackle tore an ACL in Tennessee’s divisional-round loss to New England in mid-January. Given that barely six months have passed, this could be expected. Mike Vrabel said this was a possibility as his team concluded minicamp, and Conklin confirmed this was a methodical process.

Here’s the latest from the Titans, along with some of their top rivals.

  • Tennessee also placed tight end Phillip Supernaw on the PUP list while also slotting second-round pick Rashaan Evans and free agent wideout addition Michael Campanaro on the non-football illness list. The Titans’ rookies and quarterbacks opened camp Sunday, and each of these players is eligible to be reinstated for full work by the time full practices begin Thursday.
  • Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd wound up on the reserve/did not report list.
  • The Colts added multiple veterans up front this offseason, with Matt Slauson and Austin Howard now in the mix for starting roles as stopgaps. Indianapolis boasts some depth at guard now with Slauson, the recently re-signed Jack Mewhort and No. 6 overall pick Quenton Nelson on the roster. Mewhort’s re-up and the Slauson addition, though, did not deter the Colts from selecting Braden Smith in the second round. The franchise’s goal is for Smith, an Auburn alum, to be the long-term starter at right guard opposite Nelson, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes. Though, Holder cautions his development figures to take longer than Nelson’s. Once entrenched as a Colts guard starter and a candidate for a long-term extension, Mewhort suffered significant injury setbacks in 2016 and ’17 to limit him to a one-year, $1.5MM deal with just $300K guaranteed. Slauson is signed for one year and $2.5MM. One member of this tandem could begin the season in an unfamiliar backup role.
  • It looks like Denico Autry has a path toward either a full-time starting role or a prominent backup job with the Colts. Chris Ballard raved about the defensive end/tackle’s skill set this weekend. “Let me tell you the one you need to watch: It’s Autry,” Ballard said. “Denico Autry is legitimate. He’s long; he’s strong; he’s passionate. I am really excited to watch him play. He’s made up of all the right stuff.” Autry (career-high five sacks last season) served as a rotational player with the Raiders, lining up as an end and a tackle during his four-year run in Oakland.
  • A host of players are vying to replace Andrew Norwell on the Panthers‘ starting line. Amini Silatolu, Taylor Moton and former Viking Jeremiah Sirles are among them, with Jordan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer noting Ron Rivera has expressed optimism about the prospect Silatolu can man the first-string post opposite Trai Turner. Silatolu started 15 Panthers games as a rookie in 2012 but hasn’t been a first-stringer on more than three occasions in a season since 2014. Rodrigue adds that Moton may be the top challenger but may also be used as a tackle and be in line to succeed Daryl Williams in the event he follows Norwell’s path as a UFA defection in 2019.

Panthers Sign Entire Draft Class

The Panthers have signed their entire 2017 draft class. One day after inking first-round selection Christian McCaffrey, all seven Carolina draft picks are now officially in the fold:

Elder and Butker were the last to agree, but they put pen to paper after Friday morning’s rookie camp session. As shown in PFR’s team-by-team draft breakdown, the Panthers are the first team to sign their entire draft class.

According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Samuel’s game is reminiscent of Oregon product Josh Huff. Opinions are split on how this well-rounded receiver’s game will translate as a pro.

It’s kind of like with Jalin Marshall last year,” a regional scout told Zierlein. “How do you use him? He’s not a running back and his routes and hands really aren’t that good. Marshall went undrafted. Samuel is a better athlete but they are about the same size and give you the same concerns with how to use them.”

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter link), there is offset language in McCaffrey’s deal.

Panthers Sign Christian McCaffrey

The Panthers are now the first club to reach a deal with a 2017 first-round pick, as the club announced it has signed running back Christian McCaffrey. Carolina has also inked second-round offensive lineman Taylor Moton and sixth-round fullback Alex Armah.Christian McCaffrey (Vertical)

McCaffrey, the eighth overall pick in last week’s draft, should immediately factor into a Panthers offense that ranked 25th in DVOA last season. A running back by trade, McCaffrey may end up playing a good deal of receiver, especially with established veteran Jonathan Stewart still lurking in the backfield. McCaffrey should be in line for a four-year deal worth roughly $17.241MM (signing bonus of ~$10.679MM). Carolina will also hold a fifth-year option on McCaffrey for the 2021 campaign.

Moton, meanwhile, should compete for the Panthers’ starting right tackle job. Third-year pro Daryl Williams looks to be Moton’s primary competition, as Michael Oher is still dealing with concussion issues (and was recently cited for misdemeanor assault). Moton, a Western Michigan product, will earn $6.454MM over the life of his four-year contract.

In addition to signing three of their seven draft picks, the Panthers announced they’ve also agreed to terms with the following undrafted college free agents: linebacker Ben Boulware, defensive end Bryan Cox Jr., wide receiver Austin Duke, cornerback Cole Luke, and wide receiver Fred Ross.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Fournette, Falcons, Broncos

There’s a belief that LSU running back Leonard Fournette is “driven by stardom” and may lack a commitment to football, sources tell Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Of course, the quickest way to achieving fame in the NFL is by producing results on the field, so concerns about Fournette’s makeup may be overblown. Recent reports indicate Fournette is still a candidate to go No. 1 overall, but that seems incredibly unlikely, and I sent Fournette to Baltimore in PFR’s first 2017 mock draft.

Here’s more on the 2017 draft: