AFC Rumors: Browns, Steelers, Chargers, Walker

In the 2020 NFL Draft, Cleveland had every intention of drafting Florida kicker Evan McPherson at no. 153 overall, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Unfortunately for the Browns, division-rival Cincinnati beat them to the punch, drafting McPherson four spots earlier. McPherson had an impressive rookie-season, converting 28 of 33 field goals and 46 of 48 extra points in the regular season, as well as going a perfect 14 of 14 on field goals and 6 of 6 on extra points in the Bengals’ Super Bowl run.

Afraid of watching another top kicker succeed elsewhere, Cleveland jumped at the opportunity to take this years’ best boot, LSU’s Cade York, at no. 124 overall. After missing four extra points and six field goals in his freshman year, York was perfect on extra points and only missed six-combined field goals in his last two seasons at LSU. York might be forgiven for his four missed extra points in 2019, as Joe Burrow and the Tigers’ championship-winning offense forced him to attempt an insane 93 extra points that year. His leg was probably pretty worn out. For comparison, he only attempted 75 extra points over the next two seasons.

Time will tell if the Browns spent a fourth-round pick to ensure a homerun addition or if the Browns’ fear of missing out yet again led to them jumping the gun and over-valuing the only kicker taken in the Draft.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC, starting with a rumor from the Steel City:

  • Pittsburgh spent the 2021 NFL season without defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt due to both a knee injury suffered early in training camp and the grief of losing his brother during OTAs. The assumption, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, is that Tuitt’s knee is healed after a year, but the fact that he remained absent due to personal issues (according to the team) is the larger concern† If healthy, can Tuitt find the will to return to the field? Another potential absence before mandatory minicamp is the Steelers’ top receiver from last year, Diontae Johnson† Johnson is pushing for a contract extension and all signs point to him not showing up until absolutely necessary. Ideally, they would like their number one wideout to start building chemistry with new quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickettbut there’s no need to panic until he decides to hold out from training camp.
  • Offensive tackle Drew Himmelman recently found himself heading to Washington after hitting the waiver wire. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Chargers put in a waiver claim on Himmelman but didn’t have the priority. This is the second time this week that Los Angeles failed to add some offensive line depth after they, and the Commanders, failed to obtain now-Jaguars’ offensive guard Wes Martin, who was waived by the Giants. The Chargers were able to add Boston College’s Zion Johnson and Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer to a line that returns starters Rashawn SlaterCorey LinsleyStorm Nortonand Matt Feiler through the Draft, but they clearly want to bring more competition to camp in order to build the best offensive line possible to protect their young quarterback.
  • no. 1 overall draft pick Travon Walker spent most of his time in Athens rotating around the defensive line. So far in minicamp, though, according to Jaguars Senior Writer John Oehser, Walker has been seeing work at one position: outside linebacker. This is part of head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke‘s plan to help develop Walker, focusing first on outside linebacker work before eventually utilizing his versatility around the line. Not only did Walker’s work at linebacker focus on pass rushing, he also worked with outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey on dropping back into coverage. Jacksonville appears happy with Walker’s development so far and will look forward to seeing his full potential as he continues to learn and grow.

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