Mon Mar 4 3:36pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Washington defensive back Byron Murphy runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, March 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Ohio State defensive lineman Nick Bosa gets measured during the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 3, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Notre Dame defensive back Julian Love runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, March 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams prepares to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Receiver D.K. Metcalf showed off his muscle-man physique - and his speed - in Indianapolis.
Defensive end Montez Sweat proved big men can run fast, too.
The two pro prospects from rival colleges in Mississippi left the NFL's annual scouting combine as the two biggest winners of the weeklong event. They were impressive.
Following Metcalf's performance in the 40-yard dash, the New York Jets' official Twitter account posted: ''4.33? At that size?''
The comment could tip off the Jets' plans for the No. 3 pick in April's NFL draft, considering quarterback Sam Darnold will be entering his second season in the league this fall.
And who could blame them for taking Metcalf, who possesses rare athleticism for a receiver that measures in at 6-foot-3 3/8, 238 pounds and has 1.6 percent body fat.
His performance was even better. After wowing scouts by doing 27 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds, he posted a vertical jump of 40 1/2 inches, a broad jump of 11 feet, 2 inches, and the 40-yard dash time - all top-five performances among the receivers.
What made it even more impressive for the son of former NFL offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf was that he did all of it after having season-ending neck surgery last fall.
''I'm not supposed to be here right now,'' the former Ole Miss star told NFL Network following his workout.
Meanwhile, Sweat, the former Mississippi State defensive lineman, made his workout look like it was, well, no sweat.
The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Sweat was clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40, the top speed by a defensive lineman since at least 2003 and faster times than those posted at the combine by Amari Cooper, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. Sweat also finished fourth among edge players in the broad jump (11 feet, 2inches) and three-cone drill (7 seconds flat) and was sixth in the vertical jump (36 inches).
The only question might be his strength. He did 21 reps on the bench press, 12th at his position.
But the NFL's official Twitter account was impressed with what it saw.
''Something special out of Starkville,'' Sunday's post read.
Now team officials will spend the next six-plus weeks picking apart game film and combine performances, attending pro day, doing additional background and medical checks while bringing in players for formal interviews before making draft-weekend decisions.
The offensive and defensive linemen are supposed to be the strength of this draft. The combine proved it.
Defensive end Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams of Alabama put themselves in the conversation to be the top overall pick with strong showings. Bosa completed the 40 in 4.79 seconds and did 29 reps on the bench press. Williams, at 303 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.83 seconds.
Michigan's dynamic duo of defensive end Rashan Gary and linebacker Devin Bush also helped themselves with strong showings Sunday. Gary ran a 4.58 in the 40 - No. 1 among defensive linemen - while Bush posted a 4.43.
Center Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State and offensive tackle Andre Dillard of Washington State had the best performances Friday, the first full day of workouts in Indy. Both helped themselves with good performances in the 40 and demonstrated their agility with solid times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Bradbury also had 34 reps on the bench press, second among offensive linemen.
Safety Zedrick Woods of Mississippi posted a 4.29-second 40 on Monday, fastest time all week. Cornerback Jamel Dean of Auburn ran a 4.30-second 40 on Monday, the second-fastest time of the week.
At least four players couldn't finish their workouts because of injuries, including potential first-round pick Jachai Polite from Florida.
The outside linebacker came to Indy with high expectations but ran the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds, slower than inside linebacker Manti Te'o in 2013, whose 4.82-second run helped him slide into the second round. Polite stopped after hurting his hamstring and will have to try and rebuild his stock before the draft.
Highly rated defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence of Clemson didn't finish because of a minor thigh injury in his left leg, and his college teammate, linebacker Tre Lamar, hurt his right shoulder on the bench press.
Top cornerback Greedy Williams of LSU did not compete after suffering cramps Monday.
But the most serious injury may have come Sunday when Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield suffered a torn pectoral muscle, NFL Network reported. Sheffield did not work out Monday.
And scouts may be hard-pressed to find breakaway runners in this draft class. Though Josh Jacobs of Alabama did not run Friday, the fastest back in the group was Justice Hill of Oklahoma at 4.40. Ryquell Armstead of Temple was second at 4.45.
Questions about Lawrence's suspension for using a banned substance, which kept him out of the College Football Playoff, continued in Indianapolis. And Lawrence acknowledges the surprise results of his previous test have made him wary.
''Every time I take a drug test it's going to be skeptical because that was just something that I know I didn't do and something to pop up like that just really unfortunate,'' he said. ''Every time I pee in a cup now I'm just thinking, `OK, let me pray because it's just something stupid like that can happen.' ''
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones remains unsigned with one week remaining before training camp opens. He is one of five first-round picks yet to agree to terms with his organization. Jones is still scheduled to arrive to training camp on Monday when all rookies and select veterans report. He is expected to sign a four-year, $25.5 million contract, with a $16.6 million guarantee, when he arrives, or even shortly before. That is the financial slot for the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. Last season RB Saquon Barkley signed a day before he arrived at camp, so there isn't cause for alarm with Big Blue.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley rolled up 261 carries, 1,307 rushing yards while adding 91 receptions last season. Beat writer John Schmeelk expects the number of receptions for Barkley to drop by as many as 15-20. Early in the season Barkley had many non-consequential dump-off receptions, posting 58 grabs in the first half and 33 in the second half. Barkley likely will have more impactful plays that gain more yardage, even if his catch total declines. Running backs coach Craig Johnson expects the improvement in Year 2 for Barkley to be in his attention to detail, including pass protection, more precise route running, technique and perfect execution of the playbook. Barkley remains a sure-fire Round 1 selection in all fantasy formats, and is a consideration for No. 1 overall pick in PPR formats.
New York Giants placekicker Aldrick Rosas booted 32 field goals in 2018, the fifth-most in franchise history. He connected for a 97.0 field-goal percentage, setting a franchise record. His only missed field-goal attempt was a 52-yard try with 28 seconds remaining in the first half in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also hit a 57-yarder against the Chicago Bears, setting a new franchise record. Rosas has emerged as a fantasy option after a rough first season for Big Blue. And the team should struggle at times on offense, settling for more field-goal attempts than point-after tries, which is always good for fantasy.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins expects to be used in various spots on the field in 2019. While the battle for playing time at the tight end position will be tough between Akins, Jordan Thomas, and rookie Kahale Warring, Akins being able to be used in the backfield and in the slot can help him carve out a role. Still, with wide receiver Keke Coutee expected to see most of the slot minutes, Akins' versatility isn't enough to make him a trustworthy fantasy player in 2019 unless injuries hit in Houston.
New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers was the main kick and punt returner man for the Cleveland Browns, and beat writer Lance Medow expects him to reprise that role with the Giants in 2019. However, since he is the team's starting safety, too, his usage will likely be managed at times. "It's a lot of different scenarios, and it's good to have options," special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said last month. Peppers is considered the front runner for the job, however, and others like wide receivers Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Golden Tate, Cody Latimer and Brittan Golden have also see time in the return game in the past. Rookie Darius Slayton could also factor in.
New York Giants undrafted rookie tight end C.J. Conrad turned heads during organized team activities, making a lot of plays and rarely dropping passes, according to beat writer Dan Salomone. He has plenty of size at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds and he could emerge as an option in the red zone, and Conrad could be used in two tight end sets with fellow TE Evan Engram as more of a hybrid wideout-tight end, running fly patterns and working out of the slot. At this point he doesn't warrant fantasy consideration, but he is a name to watch as he head into camp.
In an article this week discussing the Buffalo Bills as potential playoff contenders, NFL.com writer Adam Rank expressed his optimism for the team, and in particular, for Robert Foster. Rank deemed Foster "the best receiver on this roster," while also favorably discussing fellow wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley. The 6'2" Foster certainly showed flashes of potential as a legitimate #1 outside receiver during his rookie campaign last year, but he still has a lot to prove, and now he has more competition for targets from the aforementioned Brown and Beasley. Nonetheless, Foster is a very intriguing sleeper option heading into 2019 and should be on everyone's radar throughout training camp and preseason.
Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane had encouraging words to say about LeSean McCoy to beat reporters. "Were focused on this year," Beane said. "Thats what we have him under contract for, and I definitely think hes got enough left in the tank to help us in 2019. McCoy is 31 years old and entering a contract season. His 3.2 yards per carry last year was a career-worst mark, but the Bills have added some offensive line help as well as more reliable backups in Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. Don't reach for McCoy on draft day, but there's some sneaky value in McCoy if he falls in your draft. As of now, he stands to receive a good amount of carries in what should be an improved Buffalo offense.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory will reportedly apply for reinstatement this week. Gregory recorded six sacks last season, playing in 16 games including playoff games. He was suspended in February for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. It seems that Dallas feels Gregory at least has a good chance at being reinstated however, as the team signed him to a one-year extension in April. For now, the talented defensive lineman is suspended "indefinitely" but no one knows what that means in the NFL's discipline department.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to be ready to go for the start of training camp. Mills was placed on injured reserve in October after suffering a foot injury and did not participate in any of the offseason program. Reports state that Mills was not even on the field working with the other injured Eagles players. It's unknown for now if Mills is expected to be ready for Week 1, but he'd need to get a lot of work in soon for that to be a realistic possibility. The Eagles may have some depth chart issues in their secondary if some of their guys don't heal quickly.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox could have a bigger role in the defensive secondary this season. He played very well in his rookie season last year and reports stated he was "one of the best players on the field" throughout the Eagles offseason program. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills seem to be atop the depth chart, but both have legitimate injury concerns which could open up a starting role for Maddox. Even if both guys are healthy, Maddox has looked good enough to earn some time in base packages besides playing his role as slot corner.
Approaching training camp, the San Francisco 49ers first two picks of 2019 remain unsigned. Defensive end Nick Bosa, the second overall pick, and wide receiver Deebo Samuel represent two of the eight total 2019 NFL draftees that have not reached a deal. Bosa, who many experts expect to make an immediate impact, could lift the Niners defense from its 28th-ranked fantasy DST. More worrisome is Samuel, who will miss valuable reps with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if hes unable to report to camp on time. With a crowded receiving corps, the rookie could conceivable sink on the depth chart, severely negating any redraft value he currently possesses.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to be ready when training camp opens.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Sidney Jones could wind up being trade bait for a team that is patient as Jones develops in the weight room.
Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay and DT Damon Harrison's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will meet with the Lions this week to discuss contract extensions for both players.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon said this week that his representatives have opened contract extension talks with the team. He is entering the final season of a four-year, $2.595 million rookie deal, and he can be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season. Judon has registered 131 total tackles with 19 sacks, three forced fumbles and seven passes defensed in three NFL seasons, and he has 15 sacks over the past two campaigns. He is a key member of a Ravens defense which will be a Top 5 fantasy DST again this season.
The Baltimore Ravens signed rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin to a four-year contract this week. Boykin signed his four-year rookie deal, the team announced on Wednesday, and the club now has all of its rookies signed just in time for them to report to training camp. Boykin, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame, missed time during offseason training activities (OTAs) due to a hamstring injury. He will be jockeying with Willie Snead, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore for a meaningful role in the Baltimore offense to start.
The Atlanta Falcons brought in free-agent tight ends Logan Paulsen and Luke Stocker during the offseason to provide depth behind Austin Hooper, who is in a contract year. Stocker, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal in the offseason, received a $1.5 million signing bonus. He might also see some time at fullback in addition to tight end, but neither is expected to move the needle in terms of fantasy appeal unless disaster strikes Hooper. TE Jaeden Graham has also seen some time at fullback during offseason practices.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Eric Saubert was one of the team's three players at the position in 2018, but team re-signed Logan Paulsen while adding Luke Stocker in free agency. And Austin Hooper is the unquestioned starter and one of the more productive tight ends in the NFC. Saubert might be the odd-man out heading into training camp and the preseason unless they elect to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster. Either way, Saubert isn't someone to bother with in fantasy football.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn feels tight end Austin Hooper might be primed and ready to step up his play in 2019. Hooper, who is in a contract year, posted career highs across the board with 71 grabs, 660 yards and four touchdown in 2018 while being targeted 88 times. "Now, he's ready to go to another level, and I'm looking forward to seeing him make that growth," Quinn said. "The addition of having (tight ends coach Mike Mularkey) here, he's done everything that Mike has asked in terms of getting him ready." Hooper is worth targeting as a low-end TE1 in most fantasy leagues heading into 2019.