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Skeptic to believer: Steve Young bullish on Zach Wilson, New York Jets – New York Jets Blog

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Steve Young doesn’t think the New York Jets are a quarterback graveyard anymore, which is why he believes former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson can flourish in Gotham.

“Look, I mean, if you asked me a year ago the bottom five places for a quarterback in the NFL, I would’ve picked the Jets as one of them,” the Pro Football Hall of Famer said on ESPN’s “Flight Deck” podcast. “But there have been significant changes.”

Young said coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas are building an infrastructure that will allow a young quarterback to thrive. In a recent interview with a San Francisco radio station, Young didn’t sound so upbeat about the Jets, hinting that Wilson might be better off with his old team, the San Francisco 49ers.

The former BYU quarterbacks have become close in recent years, although they didn’t meet in person until last week at Young’s charity golf tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona. In a recent conversation, Young — who is also an ESPN NFL analyst — told Wilson and his father that the Jets, who hold the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft in Cleveland (8 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN all), are on the upswing.

“I said to Zach and Mike, all the things that you could ask for to happen over the last four or five months, every move seems to be a real positive one to make that place a great place for a quarterback,” said Young, who suspects Saleh — a former San Francisco assistant — will bring the 49ers’ way to the Jets.

In the interview, Young touched on Wilson’s potential and how he sees some of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in his game. He also acknowledged that BYU’s soft schedule — no Power 5 opponents in 2020 — creates a variable that makes Wilson a tougher evaluation than other top prospects. Young commended Douglas for an “incredible amount of due diligence” during the pre-draft process.

“My sense is where he really sold Joe Douglas was in those [Zoom] sessions, where they could put him under the gun and see his love and passion for all the aspects of the game,” said Young, who first heard about Wilson through his old college teammate, Jim Hermann, a coach at Wilson’s high school in Draper, Utah. “He’s a baby-faced kind of kid, a 21-year-old, but he has a grit and toughness to him, especially mentally.”

A few of the highlights from the Young interview:

On whether he believes Wilson is a lock at No. 2: “In the NFL draft, nothing is truly set until you put the name in, but short of some terrible review or something that comes out that changes the nature of what they’ve underwritten for Zach, it feels like there’s no question he’s their guy. They’ve had him locked in for quite a while.

“That’s through a lot of rigor. Joe Douglas doesn’t play the fool. The man is very intent. He’s got rings on his fingers. He knows what he’s looking for. He knows this is kind of a defining moment for him. I think he’s done whatever he possibly can to vet this situation and it became pretty obvious to me that they’ve locked in on him.”

On BYU’s schedule: “It makes it hard. It’s the greatest challenge that Joe Douglas had in trying to figure this out, because you want to see him play Texas or Alabama or Ohio State. You want to see him on a big stage. You have to interpolate it. That’s the challenge of scouts and coaches. … Can he really do it? You’ve watched the bodies thrown against the rocks through the years of people who thought they could and can’t.”

On Wilson’s arm talent: “The way he throws is somewhat like Aaron Rodgers. … And then his off-platform stuff we talk about a lot, it’s really in many ways reminds me of Patrick Mahomes. I don’t say these names because he’s going to … you still have to go do it. As far as what he’s shown, those are the physical traits.”

On the young QB’s breakout 2020 season: “It’s who he is and he got a chance to show it. The more he showed it, the more the rest of us were like, ‘Holy crap, he does things you’re not supposed to be able to do until you get in the NFL.’ … It was amazing what he put on tape. There were times I watched him and it was like, ‘Is this kid for real? Can he really do these things?’ He did it week after week.”

On his ceiling: “Every generation has a handful of guys that define the position. He’s set up to be one of those. Now, can he go get it? Can he go do it? There are a lot of filters and a lot of hurdles and a lot of things you have to go through to get there, but I think he’s the No. 2 pick for the Jets because of what that looks like, because of his potential.”



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Jacksonville Jaguars waive RB Ryquell Armstead

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars waived running back Ryquell Armstead, who missed the entire 2020 season because of complications related to COVID-19.

Armstead, 24, was twice placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last season. He spent 19 days on the list the first time, then dealt with a groin injury and another illness before going back on the list. Players are placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list if they test positive for the virus or have been in close contact with someone who has.

Armstead was a fifth-round pick in 2019 and ran for 108 yards on 35 carries as a rookie. He was likely to have a larger role on offense last season with the team’s decision to cut Leonard Fournette, but undrafted rookie James Robinson went on to win the starting job and ran for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns, and catch 49 passes for 344 yards and three TDs.

The Jaguars drafted former Clemson running back Travis Etienne 25th overall last month.

Also on Monday, the Jaguars announced they’ve signed sixth-round draft pick Jalen Camp, a wide receiver from Georgia Tech.

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San Francisco 49ers sign receiver Marqise Lee after tryout

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The San Francisco 49ers signed veteran wide receiver Marqise Lee to a one-year contract Monday after he tried out for the team at its rookie minicamp over the weekend.

He caught passes from 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance on Friday during the portion of practice open to the media. The 49ers waived wide receiver Austin Proehl on Monday to fit Lee on their 90-man roster.

Lee, 29, opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after signing with the New England Patriots as a free agent. The Patriots released him in March.

The 2014 second-round draft choice out of USC spent the first six years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, having signed a four-year contract worth $34 million in March 2018. But he played in only six games after signing that big deal, having missed the 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in his left knee during the preseason.

He joins a 49ers wide receiver depth chart led by Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Richie James that currently includes Trent Sherfield, Jalen Hurd, Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Sanu, among others.

Lee has 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns in 59 career games.

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Denver Broncos add Minnesota Vikings’ Kelly Kleine to front office in historic scouting hiring

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The Denver Broncos have hired Kelly Kleine as the executive director of football operations and special advisor to general manager George Paton, the team announced Monday.

Kleine, 30, is believed to be the highest-ranking female scouting executive ever with an NFL team.

“Kelly is a rising star in the NFL, and we’re fortunate to add someone of her caliber to the Denver Broncos,” Paton said in a statement announcing the news. “Having worked with her for nine years in Minnesota, Kelly has a strong understanding of all aspects of football operations and player evaluation along with outstanding leadership qualities. She will be a tremendous resource with her experience on the pro and college sides as well as her knowledge of our grading scale and football calendar.”

Kleine will be the primary liaison for the team’s football operations and oversee various areas of the pro and college scouting departments, including player evaluation and preparation for the NFL draft and free agency. She will also oversee the Broncos video and equipment departments.

Kleine spent 10 seasons in Minnesota where she most recently served as the manager of player personnel and was also a college scout. The Wisconsin native got her start in the NFL as a public relations intern with the Vikings in 2012, while finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota. She entered the scouting department as an administration intern in 2013 before becoming a scouting assistant in 2014 before being promoted to the team’s college scouting coordinator from 2015-18.

As the manager of player personnel/college scout, Kleine scouted the Midwest region and was the liaison between all off-site scouts and the front office. Her job in scouting carried operations responsibilities in Minnesota where she scheduled and facilitated predraft visits as well as interviews for the Vikings at the annual scouting combine.

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