NFL Draft: Way Too Early 2022 Big Board

Ah, what an exciting weekend that made us all feel like normal for a few days. The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone and many teams feeling improved and set for a rebuild.

But, it doesn’t always work like that. And there’s always next year!

While Trevor Lawrence headlined this draft class, many other quarterbacks made this a QB class unlike any other. There’s not that kind of firepower in 2022, but there is a loaded field of a defense players including one that may go number one overall over a quarterback for the first time since 2017.

Let’s separate the two sides based on offense and defense and take a look at the top 32 players in the projected NFL Draft class of 2022.

Offense:

  1. Sam Howell, QB – North Carolina
    A bit undersized, but without question the best quarterback mechianics in the projected field for next season. Playing at North Carolina, his numbers will look impressive in a pass-heavy offense in 2021. If the team with top pick in 2022 need a signal-caller, Howell will likely be the way to go.
  2. Evan Neal, OL – Alabama
    Based on size and build alone, Neal is a can’t miss prospect on the offensive line. If Neal stays healthy and can lead the charge for another Alabama top-tier offense, Neal will be a top five pick in 2022.
  3. Kedon Slovis, QB – Southern Cal
    In terms of a pocket passer similar to Mac Jones, Slovis is that guy in the 2022 class of quarterbacks. Turnovers are the difference in Slovis being a contender as the top overall pick and a mid-first round draft pick.
  4. Zion Nelson, OT – Miami (FL)
    I love Nelson’s ability to just manhandle defenders at times on the line and has shown the ability to dominate from the left tackle position. Depending on Nelson’s 2022 season and team needs, Nelson could also slide up into the top five.
  5. Chris Olave, WR – Ohio State
    Similar to 2021, there could be between five and eight wide receivers selected in the first round in the 2022 NFL Draft. As of now, I’d take Olave as the top receiver. Olave could’ve been a first or second round pick this year, but opted to return to school. Another big season should lock him as a top ten pick and the top WR selected, but there’s plenty of competition at the position including on his own team.
  6. Spencer Rattler, QB – Oklahoma
    Rattler may be the number one guy to watch in college football in 2022 in terms of the Heisman Trophy, but his Draft stock will also be talked about all year long. If he struggles, Rattler could be leapfroged by a number of QB prospects. If Rattler excels and has another 3,000 yard season and Oklahoma is a title contender, Rattler could shoot up to the number one pick. By far the top playmaking and most electrifying quarterback available regardless in 2022.
  7. Jalen Wydermyer, TE – Texas A&M
    Wydermyer is no Kyle Pitts, but is a top tier talent at the tight end position. In two seasons, he’s shown massive pass-catching TE potential with 78 catches, 953 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
  8. Desmond Ridder, QB – Cincinnati
    Great size, very experienced, and is the top dual-threat quarterback available in the 2022 Draft. Ridder won’t have the same attention on him as the other three quarterbacks ranked above, but once the season ends and scouts start breaking down tape and measurements, Ridder could easily surge up many draft boards.
  9. George Pickens, WR – Georgia
    We mentioned earlier this is a loaded WR draft class and honestly, Pickens would be number one if not for an injury in the spring. There’s a chance Pickens doesn’t play this season and that would definitely make it hard to rank him above some of the other top receiver prospects. Nonetheless, may have the highest ceiling out of all the wide receivers available in 2022.
  10. Charles Cross, OT – Mississippi State
    A redshirt sophomore who will be eligible to enter the 2022 Draft, Cross has fantastic size and will play a large roll in Mike Leach’s pass-heavy style of play which will attract a bunch of NFL teams to make him a first-round pick.
  11. Cade Mayes, OG – Tennessee
    A solid prospect right out of high school, Mayes transferred from Georgia to Tennessee before last season. Mayes will have a larger role at Tennessee this season with a more fast-paced offense.
  12. Justyn Ross, WR – Clemson
    Similar to Pickens, Ross would be ranked higher if he was 100% healthy. Not just any injury, but a spinal injury will likely deter may teams from selecting Ross in the top ten. However, if healthy enough to get back on the field this season, his speed and playmaking ability will make him a tough pass late in the first round.
  13. Garrett Wilson, WR – Ohio State
    The teammate of Chris Olave, Wilson was the top target for Ohio State early last season before production dropped a bit late. A more consistent season could lead to Wilson climbing up possibly above the three wide outs currently ranked above him.
  14. Tyler Linderbaum, C – Iowa
    Linderbaum may have been the top center in this year’s draft, but instead returned to Iowa for the 2022 season. Another season similar to last will lead to Linderbaum becoming a first-round pick.
  15. Tyler Shough, QB – Texas Tech
    Shough transfered from Oregon to Texas Tech and will likely produce some much better numbers in 2022. I love everything about Shough and feel he’s a dark-horse to shoot up draft boards as a top ten pick.
  16. Isaiah Spiller, RB – Texas A&M
    Of course, running backs going early in the NFL Draft are a thing of the past unless they’re just big time playmakers which Spiller is. While he may lack great size, speed, and just raw tools, he has a pure knack of making big plays.

Defense:

  1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE – Oregon
    A superstar defensive player that feels like the most sure-thing in next year’s draft class. Tribodeaux has the quick feet, explosive ability, and amazing size (6-5, 250 lbs.) to be one of the top tacklers in the NFL almost immediately upon arrival. If a team that has a young quarterback ends up with the top pick in 2022, Tribodeaux could be the number one overall pick.
  2. Derek Stingley Jr., CB – LSU
    Honestly, Stingley may be the top prospect, but the fact that a corner going number one, or honestly top five in this day and age, is unlikely, makes him right below Tribodeaux as of now. That doesn’t mean I don’t love everything about Derek Stingley’s game. Stingley is crazy fast and creates an island as a top tier corner that opposing quarterbacks want no part of. While a team that’s struggling may not be keen on selected Stingley in the top five, a good team may be willing to trade up to add him to their mix.
  3. Christian Harris, LB – Alabama
    There’s a top tier end, corner, and now, a linebacker in the 2022 Draft Class that is a top ten talent. Christian Harris has the NFL frame most General Managers are looking for and the tackling ability and pass rushing skills to be the top linebacker selected in next year’s draft.
  4. Drake Jackson, DT – Southern Cal
    Jackson may be a defensive end or edge rusher in the NFL. Jackson has pure pass rushing ability and is a flashy defensive linemen that will attract a ton of attention as a key defensive selection in 2022. While if a team with QB needs will clearly take Howell at number one, to me, these top four defensive players are the top overall players in the NFL Class of 2022.
  5. Kyle Hamilton, S – Notre Dame
    This is one of the best safety groups I’ve seen in a long time. Hamilton is the cherry on top of the field of talent as he’s 6-4, 220 lbs. and can make plays with his tackling ability as well as his ability to find the football and make a play. Reminds me of the “Honey Badger” and could play that type of role in the NFL as well.
  6. Kaiir Elam, CB – Florida
    Fantastic mixture of speed, length, attitude, and playmaking ability to make him a great corner at the next level. Elam won’t be targeted much this season, so numbers may not be as impressive, but Elam should still be a top fifteen selection.
  7. Zach Harrison, DE – Ohio State
    While Harrison has underperformed a bit at Ohio State so far, he still has the build to be a solid NFL end. At 6-6 and nearly 270 lbs., Harrison has only 38 tackles and less than six total sacks. If the stats improve a bit in 2022, Harrison could shoot up to become a top ten selection.
  8. Bubba Bolden, S – Miami (FL)
    Some of the hype has died down on Bolden over the last couple seasons and switched onto Hamilton of Notre Dame, but Bolden woke some people back up in 2020 and will look to do the same in 2021. Bolden looks to be the top tackling defensive back in the 2022 class, but if he can rack up a view more interceptions and pass break-ups this upcoming season, Bolden could jump back up on par with Hamilton.
  9. DeMarvin Leal, DT – Texas A&M
    Texas A&M is loaded with pro prospects, but none are as intriguing as DeMarvin Leal. Leal looks like an ideal-sized pro defender, but will need to consistently make plays in the backfield to climb up the draft boards. Based on his size alone, Leal will be hard to pass up early in the NFL Draft.
  10. Aiden Hutchinson, DT – Michigan
    Hutchinson had his 2020 season come to a disappointing conclusion due to an injury, but will look to rebound in 2021. In terms of a pure pass-rusher, Hutchinson may be the best in the draft field if 100% healthy.
  11. George Karlaftis, DE – Purdue
    Karlaftis’ draft stock took a hit in 2020 after a tough season including being hit with COVID, but at 6-4, 275lbs., Karlaftis has the size and talent to make plays all over the field. If healthy, Karlaftis could rise back up draft boards, but he could also see his stock fall further into the late-first or early-second round.
  12. Brandon Cox, LB – Florida
    Brandon Cox has the intangibles to be a great pro once he gets to the NFL. With an elite combination of high IQ, great tackling ability, and size that makes him a dominating, must see inside presence, Cox will be a steal if selected anywhere outside the top ten.
  13. Jordan Battle, S – Alabama
    A bit different than the other two safeties above him, Battle is an ideal strong safety at the next level who makes big hits and creates opportunities for teammates. Battle will have more of a leadership role this year on the Crimson Tide defense and playing alongside pro prospects Christian Harris and Josh Jobe, Battle will look to improve his draft stock throughout the season.
  14. Ventrell Miller, LB – Florida
    Miller and Cox will be the best one-two punch at linebacker this season in college football, but will also be in a “friendly competition” to rise up to the number two linebacker in the Draft. While Cox may be the leader and better IQ player, Miller is well rounded and rarely misses a tackle. If Miller can improve in the pass game, including both pass break-ups and getting to the quarterback, he could pass Cox and move up in the NFL Draft.
  15. Sevyn Banks, CB – Ohio State
    Ohio State seems to always have a top tier corner and this year is no different as Sevyn Banks is set for a breakout season. At 6-1, 200-pounds, Banks has all the tools to be the number two corner available in the 2022 NFL Draft.
  16. Josh Jobe, CB – Alabama
    Jobe isn’t too far behind Banks in terms of his tools and ability and will play on a top tier defense in 2021. Jobe doesn’t have crazy speed, especially for a first-round corner, but does have great ability to make plays on the ball and is a very good tacklers for his size.

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NFL Draft 2021: When Will Each Quarterback Take Over Their New Team?

The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft has come gone and while there were a few surprises, the “big five” quarterbacks were all selected in the top half of the draft has expected.

So, now that the dust has settled, who’s in the best fit going forward and when will we find out?

Now, look…none of these guys are likely to come in and become a superstar overnight. Most likely won’t even start week one or even up until the middle of the season. But, that’s usually a good thing!

Each selection comes with its on risk and reward factor, but we’ll take an in-depth look at each quarterback selected and how I believe they’ll “mesh” with their new NFL franchises including when we’ll see each rookie.

#1 – Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

We’ve been able to break this pick down since January because it was the no-brainier of the NFL Draft. Lawrence has been labeled, “Can’t Miss,” “Franchise Savior,” and “The Greatest QB Prospect Ever.”

No pressure, right?

While Lawrence checks all the boxes including the ticket-selling, must-see TV box that the Khan’s will love as we close in on the season, the Jaguars must be smart when it comes to throwing the young QB prospect into the fire. That will be hard to do since the city, and most the NFL, can’t wait to see what Lawrence becomes as a pro, the best bet is to hold him out until at least Week 4 or 5 if possible if not later.

With Gardner Minshew and C.J. Beathard on the roster, starting them early while Lawrence gets a chance to watch the game up close and continue to rehab the spring shoulder surgery is the best option for his long-term success.

As for the fit, I love the idea of Lawrence in an Urban Meyer-offensive scheme. But, it may take a few years to build around the young quarterback. Right now, Jacksonville still has holes everywhere on offense and defense. With D.J. Clark at WR and the combo of James Robinson and another first-round selection in Travis Etienne, the Jaguars offense could create some highlights, but the offensive line is a work-in-progress and the defense is a complete rebuild of where it was just three seasons ago.

Overall, Lawrence should be able to come in toward the middle of season and learn in a low-pressure setting as the Jaguars aren’t expected to be playoff contender in 2021. But, after a full season, another free agency period, and another likely top ten draft pick, expectations will be much highers for Lawrence and Jacksonville in 2022-23.

#2 – Zach Wilson, New York Jets

If there’s one quarterback rookie that is most likely to start week one, I’d put money on Zach Wilson with the Jets. Wilson comes from a pro-style offense and is a high IQ player who won’t take long to adjust to the NFL style of play.

The Jets also don’t have a ton of options at quarterback unless they plan on signing a veteran to push and/or guide Wilson during his rookie year. While I think it’s best for players like Lawrence, Lance, Fields, and Mac Jones to sit early in the season, I’m really content with Wilson playing from day one for the Jets.

New head coach Robert Saleh will put a lot of focus on improving the Jets’ defense this season and I expect that to pay off by December as the Jets have a young nucleus of talent on the defensive side of the ball. New offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur will be the one who guides Wilson through his rookie year.

Lafleur dealt with an unusual quarterback carousel in San Francisco, but usually kept the 49ers in the NFL’s top half when it came to passing yards and passing efficiency throughout the last three seasons. Lafleur will be able to take Wilson under his wing and create an offense built around the young quarterback going forward.

#3 – Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

While I love this pick so much more than the idea of the 49ers drafting Mac Jones, I still feel as if the less of Lance we see in 2021, the better.

Lance was 17-0 as a starter, but has played and thrown the ball less than any top ten quarterback draft pick in NFL history. He’s the enigma of the 2021 NFL Draft class, but also the most intriguing and the biggest risk-reward pick in the last few seasons.

Lance is phenomenal decision-maker who can make every throw, has excellent mobility, and is built like an NFL All-Pro. Lance would’ve been a great with any team in the Draft that could sit him and allow him to develop for at least one season. The 49ers at pick No. 3 is not different.

Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo is the key for San Francisco as we must remember how sought after and big of a prospect Jimmy was just a few seasons ago. Moving on from Garoppolo right now would be a mistake even if the 49ers selected Trevor Lawrence. This is Garoppolo’s team for at least the next season. Kyle Shanahan loved what Garoppolo when he first acquired the quarterback, but of course, when it comes to the draft, its easy to want to play with the new shiny toy.

A full year to develop, work with Garoppolo and Shanahan is a must for the North Dakota State prospect. I believe Trey Lance would thrive and become a statistical star in the Kyle Shanahan zone-read offense, but I hope we don’t see it until at least week 12 or later including the possibility of no starts until 2022.

#11 – Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

I never thought I would say this, but the Chicago Bears won day one of the NFL Draft. It’s hard to remember that back in January, some were calling for Justin Fields to leapfrog Trevor Lawrence as the top player in the draft! Now, that was short-lived and preposterous, but it just shows how big of a prospect Fields is.

Some questions about his mechanics, anticipation, and adaptability to the NFL game led to a slide, but to land Fields anywhere outside the top five is a steal if I’ve ever seen one. But, to the Bears at No. 11?? That’s a home run for Matt Nagy.

The Bears have two veteran quarterbacks to mentor the young quarterback this season with Nick Foles and Andy Dalton; two quarterbacks with great experience, skills to play at a high level in 2021, and understanding that neither are the “face of the franchise” being on the wrong side of 30.

Both quarterbacks will play this season, but the bigger role for both is the development of Justin Fields as he may not play in 2021 which would be a-okay in my book. Depending on what happens with the Packers this offseason with their quarterback situation, the Bears could contend for the playoffs this season, but if things go wrong and they find themselves way out of the playoff picture by week 12, the Bears may go ahead and pull the trigger on Fields.

Fields’ playing time this season will all depend on the success of the Bears under Foles and/or Dalton as well as their ability to stay healthy which has been a problem for both men over the last few seasons.

#15 – Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Tom Brady 2.0?? Let’s pump the brakes a bit here Patriots’ fans.

There’s still a bunch of question marks about Mac Jones including his ability to get out of the pocket against NFL-speed defense, but in terms of an NFL passer? He may be number two in this draft behind Lawrence. Plus, it’s without a doubt he’ll improve rapidly learning from the combination of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels if there’s still room to learn after a few years under Nick Saban.

Mac may be the best-coached 20-something year old NFL player in the history of football, honestly.

Nonetheless, when the Patriots made the surprising decision to re-sign Cam Newton, it made it clear that New England intended to start Newton for the foreseeable future. But, how long is that?

Depends on two things: Newton’s health and Mac Jones’ development.

Cam Newton has taken a beating the last few seasons and it’s clear he’s not the same “SuperCam” he was in the Carolina days. As a day on starter though, Newton is still the best option though for the Patriots. It’s key to remember though that the Patriots have done a rare thing and spent a good amount of money this offseason in hopes of returning to a playoff and championship contending team.

Bill Belichick isn’t afraid to hurt feelings (right, Drew Bledsoe?), so while other rookies may only play this year if their team struggles, if the Patriots are even close to contending for the playoffs and Newton is banged up or turning the ball over at a high rate, don’t be surprised to see Mac Jones anytime between week six and week ten. Mac Jones is great at reading a defense, has veteran-like pocket presence and can make every pocket throw – all things that will make Jones a big time weapon in the Josh McDaniels offense.

I can see Mac Jones leading the Patriots into a late run that leads to a wild card spot in the playoffs. Probably not your Rookie of the Year, but Mac will likely be the first class of 2021 quarterback to start a playoff game this season.

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2021 NFL Draft – Grades and analysis of the first round

After months of rumors, smokescreens, and seventeenth editions of your neighbor’s mock draft, the NFL Draft is finally here. Draft day is always full of surprises, but this time there are even more questions than usual. Who will be the third quarterback off the board? How many receivers will go in the first round? Is Trevor Lawrence’s forehead even bigger than Peyton Manning’s?

Oh, and if you haven’t heard, Aaron Rodgers might be on the trade block.

This page will be updated throughout the night with grades and analysis for every selection and trade.

1. Trevor Lawrence – Jacksonville Jaguars – QB – Clemson

The future has finally arrived in Jacksonville.

The only thing crazier than the expectations being placed on Lawrence is the fact that he may actually meet them. He has everything you could ask for in a prospect and then some, but he’ll be considered a bust if he’s anything less than the best player in franchise history. The Jaguars likely received some tempting trade offers throughout the offseason, so kudos to them for staying the course.

Grade: A+

Big Board Ranking: 1


2. Zach Wilson – New York Jets – QB – BYU

I get it. Wilson is athletic, he’s flashy, and he has the mobility to keep up with the modern game. But his draft value is based on what he could be, not what he is. After decades of failures, the Jets need a sure thing, and Wilson is not that; Justin Fields was the safe pick. There’s a very good chance Wilson becomes a star, but it’s equally likely that he’ll be just another name in the long list of Jets draft busts.

Grade: A-

Big Board Ranking: 6


3. Trey Lance – San Francisco 49ers – QB – North Dakota State

This was the most debated pick of the draft, and the Niners got it right. Lance doesn’t have the experience of Justin Fields. He doesn’t have the football IQ of Mac Jones. But the Niners already have Jimmy Garoppolo, a quarterback capable of taking them back to the Super Bowl. If Lance lives up to the potential his ridiculous athleticism gives him, great. Worst case scenario: San Francisco runs it back with Garoppolo

Grade: A

Big Board Ranking: 16


4. Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons – TE – Florida

There wasn’t any way to screw this one up. Lost among the fuss over Trevor Lawrence is the fact that Pitts is one of the best offensive prospects we’ve seen in years. He’s a historic tight end prospect coming into a league with a historic lack of talent at tight end. Pitts will be able to contribute immediately alongside Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, giving Atlanta a receiving corps reminiscent of Matt Ryan’s 2016 MVP season.

Grade: A

Big Board Ranking: 2


5. Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals – WR – LSU

Let’s put it all together. Cincinnati used the No. 1 pick last year on Joe Burrow, who tore his ACL while playing behind a subpar offensive lineman. So with the opportunity to draft a plug-and-play left tackle, the Bengals took … a wide receiver? Chase is the best wideout in this class, but it won’t matter if Burrow can’t stay on his feet.

Grade: B-

Big Board Ranking: 4


6. Jaylen Waddle – Miami Dolphins – WR – Alabama

This pick is a disappointment after coming so close to drafting Chase, but that isn’t the Dolphins’ fault. Waddle is a better prospect than Devonta Smith and gives Tua Tagovailoa a true playmaker to grow with. Even though the Dolphins have improved over the past few years, they haven’t been exciting to watch. That just changed.

Grade: B+

Big Board Ranking: 7


7. Penei Sewell – Detroit Lions – OT – Oregon

This draft could not have played out better for Detroit. The Lions were expected to trade down, but there’s no reason to when you can draft someone this talented at No. 7. Sewell is a plug-and-play tackle with the potential to play 15 years at a high level, the most important piece of a rebuild besides a quarterback. In another draft, he could have been the No. 1 pick.

Grade: A+

Big Board Ranking: 3


8. Jacyee Horn – Carolina Panthers – CB – South Carolina

I don’t have nearly as much faith in Sam Darnold as the Panthers apparently do. Justin Fields should have been the pick here. But putting that aside, Horn wasn’t even the best cornerback on the board; that’s Patrick Surtain II. Still, the Carolina defense has been a nonfactor for some time now, and Horn has the intensity and drive to finally give them an identity.

Grade: C

Big Board Ranking: 13


9. Patrick Surtain II – Denver Broncos – CB – Alabama

It doesn’t get much easier: Surtain II is arguably the best defensive player in the draft and fills Denver’s biggest need. They could have justified taking a chance on a quarterback, but frankly, the Broncos aren’t making the playoffs any time soon. They’ll have plenty of high draft picks in the coming years if they decide that Drew Lock isn’t the guy.

Grade: A

Big Board Ranking: 9


10. DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles – WR – Alabama

You’ve already heard that Smith may not have the size to be successful in the NFL. I don’t think that’s true, but it is still a factor. Philadelphia already has a small quarterback and running back, and holes all across their defense. It made more sense to stay put at No. 12, draft Micah Parsons, and find a taller receiver in the second round. Of course, none of that is to say that Smith isn’t an instant gamechanger for Philly’s offense. And screwing over the Giants had to feel good.

Grade: B

Big Board Ranking: 10


11. Justin Fields – Chicago Bears – QB – Ohio State

For the first time in decades, the Chicago Bears have won the draft. Fields has the athleticism and experience that Mitch Trubisky and Jay Cutler were missing from the start, and is the least risky quarterback available besides Lawrence. The Bears had to give up next year’s first-rounder to swap places with the Giants, but that will be forgotten quickly if they’re right about Fields.

Grade: A+

Big Board Ranking: 5


12. Micah Parsons – Dallas Cowboys – LB – Penn State

Grade: A-

Big Board Ranking: 8

Another outstanding pick. The Cowboys had their eye on a cornerback, but still managed to trade down and grab a top-ten prospect. Parsons has the makings of a perennial Pro Bowler and will make an immediate difference on a Dallas defense that was hard to watch last year. He only fell this far because of some personality concerns, but, well … he’ll fit right in.



13. Rashawn Slater – Los Angeles Chargers – OT – Northwestern

Grade: A

Big Board Ranking: 12

I guarantee they’re popping bottles of champagne in the Chargers’ draft room. Slater was not expected to fall to No. 13, and like Sewell, has the skills to be a starter for the next decade. Last year, Justin Herbert won Rookie of the Year and the Chargers still posted a losing record. That’s not going to happen again.


14. Alijah Vera-Tucker – New York Jets – G – USC

Grade: C

Big Board Ranking: 29

The Jets have more holes in their roster than the Browns did a few years ago, but the offensive line is not one of them. There’s obviously room for improvement, but Mekhi Becton ensures that the group will be at least competent. If Vera-Tucker was a low-risk pick I’d understand it, but he lacks the strength to be a star. They could have gone with an edge rusher. Heck, they could have taken Mac Jones considering how often they screw up at quarterback.


15. Mac Jones – New England Patriots – QB – Alabama

Grade: A

Big Board Ranking: 14

It’s rare to see a quarterback drafted below his value, but as always, the Patriots played the board perfectly,  Chicago needed to give up their future to land a quarterback, but the Patriots stayed put and got their guy. I’m not sure that he has the athleticism to succeed, but it would be arrogant of me to say I know better than Bill Belichick. I’m giving them an A just for their patience.


16. Zaven Collins – Arizona Cardinals – LB – Tulsa

Grade: B-

Big Board Ranking: 19

Kwity Paye seemed like the obvious choice here. He’s a better prospect than Collins, and the Cardinals used their first-round pick on Isaiah Simmons, a linebacker, last year. Still, Collins is an intelligent player with a work ethic that could help quell rumors of a culture problem in Arizona.


17. Alex Leatherwood – Las Vegas Raiders – OT – Alabama

Grade: D+

Big Board Ranking: 28

Ah, my two favorite draft traditions: booing Roger Goodell and watching the Raiders draft players 20 picks too early. I’m actually higher on Leatherwood than most — he’s a natural lineman with an NFL-ready skill set — but he probably would have been there in the second round. At this rate, the Raiders will be stuck in mediocrity forever.


18. Jaelan Phillips – Miami Dolphins – EDGE – Miami (FL)

Grade: B

Big Board Ranking: 22

Edge rusher was the right call here, but I don’t understand how Kwity Paye is still on the board. There may be something the GMs know that we don’t. Phillips comes with some question marks surrounding his fundamentals, but the Dolphins have been incredible in the draft over the past few years. They can afford to take a risk if they like Phillips’ upside.


19. Jamin Davis – Washington Football Team – LB – Kentucky

Grade: C-

Big Board Ranking: 39

I’m of the mind that prospects should be judged based on their college careers, not their performance at the Combine. Davis is not a first-round pick. He has potential, but there were better linebackers and much better cornerbacks that would have provided much better value.


20. Kadarius Toney – New York Giants – WR – Florida

Grade: F

Big Board Ranking: 34

This is the last straw: it’s time to fire general manager Dave Gettleman. Not only was Toney the third-best receiver on the board, he plays one of only three positions that the Giants don’t have a need at. Even if there’s something wrong with Kwity Paye, there were edge rushers available with much more talent than Toney.


21. Kwity Paye – Indianapolis Colts – EDGE – Michigan

Grade: A

Big Board Ranking: 17

The Colts badly need a wide receiver, but they never expected Paye to fall to them. The best edge rusher in the class isn’t supposed to be drafted at No. 21. If he lives up to his potential, this could be the steal of the draft. It’s a deep receiving class; they’ll find someone in the second round


2021 NFL Mock Draft: Dolphins get their playmaker, Carolina takes Justin Fields

With the NFL Draft just over a week away, wide receivers and quarterbacks appear set to dominate the Day One headlines. My latest mock draft includes a mix of scouting reports, other mocks, and just a dash of personal bias. No trades, because the Chicago Bears will inevitably strike a deal worse than anything I could dream up. Let’s dive in.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Every year, my friend and I bet a dollar on who the No. 1 draft pick will be. Not this time. This pick is so certain that Lawrence has already made a $20,000 donation to Jacksonville charities. Jets fans might want to close their eyes.

2. New York Jets — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Unless you count Chad Pennington, which you shouldn’t, the last notable quarterback drafted by the Jets was Joe Namath. Wilson joins the team as yet another franchise savior, with the mobility and playmaking ability to bring some excitement to a worn out fan base. 

3. San Francisco 49ers — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

San Francisco isn’t done swapping picks, and they may trade down here. What the team needs is an offensive playmaker, and the only one worthy of being drafted this high is TE Kyle Pitts — a position the Niners obviously have covered. But if they do stay put at No. 3, they’ll almost certainly upgrade at quarterback and try to run back their 2019 Super Bowl season.

4. Atlanta Falcons — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Atlanta has been telling people that Matt Ryan still has a few years of quality football left, and they may not be bluffing. They’ll pass on a quarterback here to pair Pitts with wideouts Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, creating one of the most intimidating receiving corps in football — if they don’t trade down.

5. Cincinnati Bengals — Penei Sewell, OL, Oregon

Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is an option, but franchise quarterback Joe Burrow is returning from an ACL tear and needs better protection. Sewell is as good as it gets: 331 pounds of explosive ability with a high football IQ.

6. Miami Dolphins — Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Miami’s front office will panic if the Falcons take Pitts, but celebrate when the Bengals choose Sewell. Chase is a transcendent receiver like the Dolphins have never had, with the quickness and route running ability to compensate for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s growing pains.

7. Detroit Lions — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Detroit is entering a rebuild, and they’re better off riding it out with Jared Goff than taking a flyer at quarterback here. The best option is to find a reliable offensive lineman, but Sewell is the only truly elite prospect. Instead, the Lions “settle” for Waddle and bank on finding their quarterback with a top five pick next year. 

8. Carolina Panthers — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio St.

The Panthers didn’t give up that much for Sam Darnold, and there’s no way for them to be confident he’s the guy. If Fields is still available at No. 8, he’s going to Carolina. Head coach Matt Rhule will be willing to have an open competition in training camp, one that Fields will likely win.

9. Denver Broncos — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The poor Broncos are always stuck in the middle: not good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to draft a top quarterback. They’ve missed too many times at the position, so they’ll settle for Surtain, a proven corner with the size to match up with the league’s best.

10. Dallas Cowboys — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

The Dallas defense was embarrassing last year, finishing 28th in points allowed. Pass rush is more of an immediate need, but Jerry Jones has a history of taking the best player available. Horn has more talent than any of this year’s defensive ends.

11. New York Giants — Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

Sometime in the distant future, the Giants will enter a draft without gaping holes along the offensive line. That day is not today. Slater is smaller than most tackles but has an NFL-ready skill set, something New York has repeatedly learned is necessary in a prospect.

12. Philadelphia Eagles — Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Speaking of embarrassing NFC East facts, the Eagles haven’t had a 1,000-yard wide receiver since 2014. The top option on their depth chart is Jalen Reagor, who you’ve probably never heard of if you’re not an Eagles fan. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Smith reunite with quarterback Jalen Hurts?

13. Los Angeles Chargers — Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech

The rule still applies: protect your young quarterback. It will be tempting to give Justin Herbert another weapon, but the Chargers need to elevate a left tackle position that has been mediocre for too long.

14. Minnesota Vikings — Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan 

The Vikings totaled 23 sacks last year, and their best defensive end had 3.5. There’s better value than Paye available here, but they won’t go very far in January if they don’t address their problems on the edge.



15. New England Patriots — Trey Lance, QB, N. Dakota St.

Lance is not going to last until the fifteenth pick, but the Patriots have been linked to him for a while either way. Bill Belichick usually isn’t one for splashy trades, but he may need to make an exception to find Tom Brady’s successor. Perhaps a deal with the Falcons could be coming?

16. Arizona Cardinals — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Cardinals have already surrounded Kyler Murray with enough weapons to succeed. A recent back surgery has most experts projecting that Farley will fall to the end of the first round, but when healthy he’s the clear-cut best corner in the class. Someone’s going to take a chance on him.

17. Oakland Raiders — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn St.

John Gruden has a history of making head-scratching picks, but this should be a no-brainer. Linebacker isn’t an obvious need, but Parsons is a top-ten talent that could get lost in the frenzy of quarterbacks and wide receivers.

18. Miami Dolphins — Jeremiah Owsu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

The Dolphins desperately need an edge rusher, but there isn’t much high-end talent at the position this year. Owusu-Koramoah should help shore up a run defense that lacks a big playmaker and ranked 23rd in tackles for loss last year.

19. Washington Football Team — Zaven Collins, DE, Tulsa

If Washington doesn’t make a big trade to move up the board, they could be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. If they stay put, there won’t be an offensive player that makes sense here. Instead, they’ll bolster an already fearsome pass rush with Collins, a speedy complement to Chase Young.

20. Chicago Bears — Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma St.

The Bears have two options here: offer up the farm to San Francisco for the second time in four drafts and risk setting the franchise back years like they did with Mitch Trubisky, or try and address their need at right tackle. Jenkins has the raw power to be a starter for years.

21. Indianapolis Colts — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Indianapolis lost to the Bills in the postseason because they had no reliable wide receivers. New quarterback Carson Wentz became a laughing stock in Philadelphia because he had no reliable wide receivers. Guess who the Colts are drafting? They could probably trade down and still end up with Bateman or Elijah Moore.

22. Tennessee Titans — Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami

After a failed experiment with Jadeveon Clowney, the Titans are still an edge rusher away from joining the upper echelon of NFL teams. Phillips comes with some injury concerns, but his intangibles are too good to pass up. Besides, Derrick Henry could probably play defensive end if they really needed him to.

23. New York Jets — Azeez Ojuliar, DE, Georgia

With needs at basically every position, the Jets go best player available. Their front seven lacks an identity but is closer to success than you might think.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Reports have suggested that the Steelers let James Conner walk because they’re locked into a running back at No. 24. The offense hasn’t looked right since Le’veon Bell’s holdout, and while I’m not convinced Harris is a first round talent, he seems destined to be the pick here.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars —  Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

Trevor Lawrence wasn’t enough? The Jets get some small measure of revenge by taking Ojuilar off the board, so the Jags give Lawrence an intelligent deep threat who went for 602 yards in his final three games.

26. Cleveland Browns — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing the Browns picking outside the top 10. Last year, Cleveland learned the hard way that the road to the Super Bowl rests on stopping the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Newsome gives the Browns’ 22nd-ranked pass defense a better shot this time around.

27. Baltimore Ravens — Richie Grant, S, UCF

The Ravens are yet another wideout-needy team, but there won’t be good value with Moore and Bateman gone. Grant is a little rough around the edges, but his speed will gel with Baltimore’s approach. Some scouts have him falling to the second round, but the Ravens often buck expectations in the draft with success (see: Lamar Jackson).

28. New Orleans Saints — Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The Saints’ needs don’t match up with the players who will be available here, partially because they don’t actually have many needs. Moehrig is a low-risk pick with the personality to be a locker room leader as the franchise turns a corner without Drew Brees.

29. Green Bay Packers — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Finally. The Packers bow to pressure from their fans by drafting Toney as the door slowly closes on their Super Bowl window. He’s also taken a few snaps at quarterback, and for some reason Green Bay seems to like giving Aaron Rodgers competition. (That was a joke, but so is Jordan Love).

30. Buffalo Bills — Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn St.

Just like with the Browns, it’s all about stopping Kansas City. Oweh has the reflexes to harass Patrick Mahomes and keeps the Bills on track to build the best defense in the league. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs — Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama

After releasing former No. 1 pick Eric Fisher, the Chiefs desperately need someone to step up at left tackle. Leatherwood has the versatility and experience to play anywhere on the line.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

It’s anyone’s guess whether the Bucs’ pass rush is actually the juggernaut that won them a Super Bowl or the inept group we saw in the first half of the season. Regardless, pressure up front is their path towards repeating as champs, and you can’t have too much of a good thing.

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Why the Orlando Brown trade is the rare deal where both sides win

On Friday, the Baltimore Ravens shipped Pro Bowl offensive lineman Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs for a head-spinning exchange of draft picks that essentially ends with the Ravens gaining an extra first-rounder.

When the two (arguably) best teams in football make a deal, the rest of the NFL takes notice. But if everything works out for both parties involved, the Ravens and Chiefs could end up as virtual locks to play each other in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs addressed their biggest free agency need, and the Ravens got a solid return for a player who publicly requested a trade.

Let’s take a look at the Chiefs. In the Super Bowl, Kansas City put forth the worst postseason offensive line performance I’ve seen in my lifetime. They made Jason Pierre-Paul look like Aaron Donald, and gave Patrick Mahomes — on average — .04 seconds to throw the football (give or take a few milliseconds). Mahomes is good at extending plays, but even he can’t do it if he’s lying on his back.

Unsurprisingly, the Chiefs have spent free agency upgrading the line. Brown is the third former All-Pro they’ve signed in the past two months. In a stunning move, they released former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher in March. They then coaxed Joe Thuney away from the Patriots and brought Kyle Long out of retirement. 

With the trade, the Chiefs are once again the consensus favorites to win the Super Bowl. Brown gives them the talent to match up with the intimidating defensive lines of NFC powerhouses like the Buccaneers and Rams.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are now in prime position to address their biggest need—wide receiver—in a draft with a historic amount of talent at the position. Last year, the Ravens led the league in rushing yards but finished dead last in passing yards. 

Just letting Lamar Jackson run it every play actually seems to be working pretty well, but eventually they’ll need to throw the ball if they want to make a deep run in January. Marquise Brown is a talented receiver, but fits better as a speedy No. 2 option to complement a true gamechanger.

Baltimore now holds picks Nos. 27 and 31, giving them an opportunity to draft a late-round wideout like Rashod Bateman or Elijah Moore while still upgrading on defense. Or, as I expect them to, they could package both picks to trade up and draft Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith. 

The Carolina Panthers at No. 8 and the New York Giants at No. 11 have expressed a willingness to move back in the first round. Both need an edge rusher and an offensive lineman, and solid prospects like Azeez Ojuilar and Alex Leatherwood may be available where the Ravens are picking.

With Jackson still on his rookie contract for two more years, landing Waddle or Smith is the sort of all-in move that could help the Ravens capitalize on their championship window.

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2021 NFL Draft: Don’t buy into the wide receiver hype

If you haven’t noticed yet, NFL general managers have short memories. Mitch Trubisky didn’t stop them from trusting inexperienced college players. Lamar Jackson didn’t teach them not to pass on established stars.

That’s why last year’s class of first round wide receivers, which featured instant stars like Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, could lead to busts in 2021. With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, The Athletic’s latest mock draft has five wideouts going in the first round, starting with Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5. After all, last year’s wide receiver group was a success. What could go wrong?

Answer: everything. The 2014 draft was filled with first round receivers that made an instant impact in the league, and teams splurged accordingly on questionable wideouts in 2015.

Let’s take a look:

YearPickPlayerGYdsTDPro Bowls
20144Sammy Watkins864665330
20147Mike Evans1068266613
201412Odell Beckham Jr.826830513
201420Brandin Cooks1036880400
201428Kelvin Benjamin613021200
20154Amari Cooper936211384
20157Kevin White1728500
201514DeVante Parker834212220
201520Nelson Agholor873411260
201526Breshad Perriman632066140
201529Phillip Dorsett711634110
Source: Pro Football Reference

Brandin Cooks was the only first round receiver in 2014 who didn’t reach 900 yards in his rookie season. Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans exceeded even the loftiest expectations with 12 and seven touchdowns, respectively. And if not for injuries that derailed the careers of Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins, this likely would have been the best wideout class in history.

Those early dividends caused a wideout frenzy in the first round of 2015, where the injury-prone Kevin White and the speedy but talentless Phillip Dorsett were considered elite prospects.

The warning signs were there — old draft profiles mention how Dorsett lacked technique and that there was “legitimate concern” Nelson Agholor’s skills would never develop — but recency bias prevailed. Needless to say, only Amari Cooper lived up to his draft status.

After that, GMs seemingly learned the risks of overestimating wide receivers. Only seven were drafted in the first round in 2017-2019; Calvin Ridley was the only one who became a star.

But the 2021 Draft seems poised to be a repeat of 2015. Both Rashod Bateman and Elijah Moore are projected first round talents with short records of excellent play. Just look at Bateman’s draft profile:

“”The production looks good on paper, but I was at a couple of his games in 2019 and I just wanted to feel (his presence) more.” — Midwest scout for AFC team

Regardless, teams are going to be paying a premium for wide receivers this year. Let’s just hope they fare better than Kevin White.

1st & 10 – Episode 31: NFL 2020 Season Review

Adam & Mitch are back for one last episode of the 2020 NFL Season before preseason duties ensue! The duo dives into their takes and how right were they?

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The Blitz and Pick Six Podcast – Super Bowl LV Recap

Chevy is back to wrap-up Super Bowl LV as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers has sent him in a frenzy. He doesn’t do it alone as George Jarjour from TheSportsonTap.com joins him as a special guest! The duo give a quick recap of their reactions to Super Bowl LV and did The Weeknd exceed expectations? These gentlemen attempt an objective take on Tom Brady being the best American athlete in team sports. They decide if the 7th ring is the toughest to earn so far in Brady’s career and share their “receipts” of who was right and who was wrong!

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This Super Bowl LV recap was brought to you by Baseline Times

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2020 NFL – Playoff Schedule & Results

The 2020 NFL Playoffs are here! We’ve got you covered for the latest NFL 2020 Playoff schedule!

Kansas City Chiefs & Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Sunday 2/7/21 - 6:30 PM EST
Raymond James Stadium

Tampa Bay, Florida



Conference Championships – January 24, Sunday

Buccaneers 31 @ Packers 26


Bills 24 @ Chiefs 38


2020 — DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Rams 1832 Packers

Buccaneers 30 @ 20 Saints

Browns 17 @ 22 Chiefs


Ravens 3 @ 17 Bills


2020 — WILD CARD

First Round Bye

@

Bears 9 @ 21 Saints

Rams  30 @ 20 Seahawks

Buccaneers 31 @ 23 Football Team


First Round Bye

@

Colts 24 @ 27 Bills

Ravens 20 @ 13 Titans

Browns 48 @ 37 Steelers



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1st & 10 – Episode 30: 2020 NFL Conference Championships Preview

Adam & Mitch are back! In this episode they wrap-up their thoughts on the Divisional Round matchups before diving into their predictions for the 2020 NFL Conference Championships. It’s Tom Brady vs Aaron Rodgers in the NFC. Patrick Mahomes looks to get back to the Super Bowl but one last obstacle is in the way, the Buffalo Bills. Tune in now to see who Adam and Mitch select to go to Tampa Bay for another final showdown.

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