Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
It's Earth Day, which got me thinking, how on earth are we less than one week away from the NFL Draft?
Although we've been talking about the draft nonstop over the past few weeks, we won't have as much draft talk today and that's because the NFL had a big non-draft-related day on Thursday: The league finally announced when the 2022 schedule will be released. We'll be covering that and more in today's newsletter, plus I promise we'll also be including some draft stuff because how can you expect people to take you seriously if you send out an NFL newsletter in April without mentioning any draft stuff.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Ranking the offensive prospects in the NFL Draft by position group
The NFL Draft is now LESS THAN ONE WEEK AWAY and because of that, I'm guessing you can figure out what we talked about on today's podcast and if you can't figure it out, the answer is the NFL Draft. That was the answer yesterday, that's the answer today and it will probably be the answer for every show next week.
For today's episode, Will Brinson was joined by two CBSSports.com draft experts -- Ryan Wilson and Emory Hunt -- and the three of them spent nearly the entire podcast ranking every offensive prospect in the draft by position. Since we ranked the defensive prospects yesterday, we thought it made sense to rank the offensive ones today. From wide receivers to offensive linemen to tight ends to running backs, Wilson and Hunt offered their top-five players in each position group.
Wilson was in charge of ranking the top-five wide receivers in the draft and here's what he came up with:
1. Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
2. Drake London Jr. (USC)
3. Jameson Williams (Alabama)
4. Treylon Burks (Arkansas)
5. Chris Olave (Ohio State)
After Wilson gave his rankings, Brinson said that he thought that Williams should be No. 1, which is an assessment that Wilson didn't disagree with. Wilson said he dropped the Alabama receiver because he's going into the draft coming off a season where he tore his ACL.
"If he were healthy, he'd definitely be the top guy in my rankings and you'd just move everyone down one spot," Wilson said. "Jameson Williams is electric. He was just destroying SEC cornerbacks week in and week out."
If you want to listen to today's episode and hear the guys rank the top-five players at each offensive position, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. NFL schedule will be released on May 12: Here's everything we know
If I had to rank my favorite events on the NFL offseason calendar, the draft would come in second and that's because my favorite day of the offseason is when the schedule gets released. Seriously, I don't think anyone enjoys the schedule release more than me. It's a national holiday at my house and I only celebrate three holidays (Flag Day, Earth Day and Schedule-Release Day).
This year's schedule release will be coming with a few twists and the biggest one is that the NFL will be releasing several games before May 12.
- Amazon's first game to be announced on April 28. With Amazon taking over "Thursday Night Football" this year, the NFL will be celebrating the company's first game by announcing the two teams playing in the game on the first night of the NFL Draft. The first "TNF" game on Amazon will be played Sept. 15.
- International games will be announced early. The NFL will be holding a total of five international games this year and the league plans to announce the participants in those games on Wednesday, May 4, more than a full week before the schedule release. We do know who the home team will be in each international game, but we don't know who the host team will be playing.
- Each team will be able to announce its home opener early. Although the schedule won't be coming out until 8 p.m. ET on May 12, all 32 teams will be able to announce the opponent for their home opener a full two hours before that at 6 p.m. ET.
- Several other games will be announced early. From May 9-12, the NFL will announce the times and dates of several "select" games. It won't be surprising if this includes holiday games like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Although we don't know much else about the 2022 schedule, here are a five things we do know:
- Thursday night opener in Los Angeles. The defending Super Bowl champion annually plays host in the opening game of the season, which means Thursday night opener will be in L.A. with the Rams hosting. Their home schedule consists of the Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, Panthers, Falcons, Cowboys, Raiders, Broncos, Bills, so they'll be playing one of those nine teams. The Cowboys, Bills or Broncos would seem to be the most attractive game for that spot. The Cowboys were in the game last year, so the NFL might be hesitant to put them in the opener for the second straight year. The NFL has tried to avoid nonconference games in the opener -- there's only been one AFC vs. NFC matchup over the past 14 years -- but the league might not have an option here. In the end, I think the Bills will get the spot because they're one of the best teams in the AFC and we'd get to see Von Miller going up against the team he won a Super Bowl with last season.
- Home teams set for the international games. The five home teams for the international games will be the Jaguars, Saints, Packers, Buccaneers and Cardinals. The Bucs will be heading to Munich to host the NFL's first-ever regular-season game in Germany and it might be happening in Week 10, . On the Cardinals' end, they'll be in Mexico City while the other three teams will be hosting a game in London
- Christmas Day tripleheader is coming. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, most teams will have that day off with the NFL choosing to play the majority of games on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). However, there will definitely be some football played on Christmas Day and it's looking like the NFL is planning a monstrous tripleheader. NFL scheduling guru Mike North recently revealed the information on the "Sal Sports and Stuff" podcast and he also revealed that the games will kick off at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. ET.
- Every home-and-away opponent for all 32 teams. Although we don't know the time and dates for any game yet this year, we do know who each team will be playing and you .
The NFL schedule release has become a major offseason event for the league and this year is no exception. Schedule leaks have also become a major offseason event and I will be poring over the internet over the next three weeks to hunt down as many of them as possible.
3. Cardinals shoot down possibility of Kyler Murray trade and QB seems happy with that
With all the drama surrounding Kyler Murray this offseason, there have been a lot of questions about how much longer he's going to be in Arizona. There's been some serious trade speculation over the past few weeks but I guess we can go ahead and throw that out the window now because the Cardinals.
- Steve Keim says there's a "zero chance" Kyler gets traded. Some teams will use ambiguous language when they get asked about a potential trade -- for instance, Pete Carroll said at the combine that the Seahawks had "no intention" of trading Russell Wilson -- but there was no ambiguity to what Keim said Thursday. The Cardinals GM said there's a "zero chance" that Murray gets traded while also adding that the Cards would work on giving Murray the new contract he's seeking after the draft. "We have the draft, and then we will take a deep breath and sort of refocus," Keim told reporters. "That's sort of the reason every other player that has been a third-year quarterback has been (extended) in the middle of the summer or late summer. It's no different for us. Nothing has changed in terms of him being our long-term and short-term quarterback."
- Cardinals owner also weighs in. Not only did Keim shoot down a possible trade, but so did Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill. "Yeah, that's not happening," Bidwill said of a potential trade, via the Arizona Republic. "There's just too much outside noise that people listen to. We understand that's just part of what goes on these days with social media. It's just not the case."
- Kyler seems content to stay in Arizona. As if Bidwill and Keim didn't do enough to make it clear that Murray won't be going anywhere, Kyler also chimed in to let everyone know that he plans on staying in Arizona, "I wanna win Super Bowls with the Cardinals, AZ is home," the QB tweeted.
Based on the latest round of comments, it sounds like the Cardinals' front office has assured Murray that he'll be getting a new contract at some point this offseason, but it probably won't be until after the draft and most likely not until June or July.
4. Another mock draft? Another mock draft
Earlier this week, I promised that I would be putting a new mock draft in this newsletter every day until the actual draft and I never break a promise, so we've got another mock draft for you today. This one comes from CBSSports.com college football writer Tom Fornelli, who also happens to write the afternoon newsletter here (If you need another newsletter in your life, you can subscribe to Fornelli's by clicking here).
Fornelli actually has a pretty wild mock draft and here are a few nuggets from his piece:
- He has the Packers trading up to the EIGHTH overall spot in a deal where the Falcons get both of Green Bay's first-rounders (22nd overall and 28th).
- He has zero quarterbacks going in the top 10, but two cornerbacks.
With that in mind, let's check out the top-10 picks in Fornelli's mock:
- 1. Jaguars: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)
- 2. Lions: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
- 3. Texans: OL Evan Neal (Alabama)
- 4. Jets: CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)
- 5. Giants: OL Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)
- 6. Panthers: OL Charles Cross (Mississippi State)
- 7. Giants: DL Travon Walker (Georgia)
- 8. Packers (Mock trade with Atlanta): WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
- 9. Seahawks: CB Derek Stingley, Jr. (LSU)
- 10. Jets: WR Drake London (USC)
If you want to see how the rest of the first round.
5. Top 10 free agents left on the market
Every Friday, we close out the week here by taking a look at the biggest names still available in free agency. Once all the big names are signed, we'll stop doing this, but surprisingly, there are quite a few talented names left on the market.
Before free agency started, Pete Prisco made a list of his top 100 free agents for 2022. As we get ready to enter the SIXTH week of free agency, seven of his top-35 players are still available.
For the second straight week, the biggest prize left on the market is Tyrann Mathieu, who has clearly decided that he's going to take all the time he needs before signing. Over the past week, we didn't see a single player on our top-10 list sign. The last player off the list to sign a new deal was Stephon Gilmore, who signed with the Colts last Friday.
With that in mind, let's check out the 10 highest-ranked players from Prisco's top 100 list who are still available (they're listed with the team they played for last season):
1. FS Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs)
2. DL Akiem Hicks (Bears)
3. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney (Browns)
4. OL Duane Brown (Seahawks)
5. TE Rob Gronkowski (Buccaneers)
6. WR Odell Beckham (Rams)
7. EDGE Melvin Ingram (Steelers)
8. OT Eric Fisher (Colts)
9. S Jaquiski Tartt (49ers)
10. DE Jerry Hughes (Bills)
Although free agency slowed down some over the past two weeks, don't be surprised if we see a signing or two before the start of the draft. If a team can fill a need in free agency, that's one less need it has to worry about when the draft rolls around.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Legendary Raiders QB dies
It's been a wild 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Daryle Lamonica dies at age 80. The quarterback who led the Raiders to Super Bowl II died on Thursday due to natural causes. The man who was known as "The Mad Bomber" was named AFL MVP in 1967 after leading the 13-1 Raiders to the Super Bowl against the Packers. During Lamonica's six years as the Raiders' full-time starter, not only did he lead them to a Super Bowl, but he also led them to four conference title games. For more details on Lamonica's passing, .
- DeSean Jackson thinking about retirement. The 14-year veteran is . However, Jackson did note that there are a few teams he would consider playing for this year like the Chiefs, Packers, Broncos and Browns.
- Earl Thomas wants to make NFL return. After two years out of the league, the seven-time Pro Bowler is hoping to make a comeback this year. The former Seahawks safety told ESPN that he's ready to play, "I'm in shape. My timing is on point -- I'm proud of that." Thomas hasn't played in the NFL since August 2020 when the Ravens released him for punching a teammate.
- Patriots iconic helmet with Pat Patriot logo looks like it will be returning in 2022. We already knew the Patriots were bringing back their classic red throwback uniforms next season, and now it looks like they'll also be bringing back their iconic Pat Patriot logo. If you want to see a picture of the new version of the iconic helmet, .
- Titans not planning to trade A.J. Brown. Titans GM Jon Robinson didn't use the words "zero chance," but he did say that he doesn't see his team trading their star receiver. "I do not foresee that happening," Robinson said Thursday, via ESPN.com. "A.J. knows how we feel about him and how much he means to this football team." Brown is looking for a new contract and it seems he's in a stalemate with the Titans right now because they don't want to pay him more than $20 million per year. That contract number was leaked out during a recent Instagram live session involving Brown, Deebo Samuel and Deebo's step mom (Yes, my job now involves monitoring Instagram live).
- Pro Football Hall of Fame makes chances to selection process bylaws. For the next three years, the Hall of Fame is going to make it easier for senior nominees to get enshrined. Under the new bylaws, which will run from 2023 thru 2025, a total of three players from the seniors category can be inducted each year. Under the old bylaws, only one senior player could be inducted each year. The new rule will help fix the logjam of seniors who theoretically have the qualifications to get in the HOF, but can't get in because only one player was previously allowed to be inducted per year. A player qualifies in the senior category if their career ended more than 25 years ago. Under the new rules, a total of nine players could possibly be enshrined in each of the next three years (up to five modern-era players, up to three seniors and up to one coach or contributor).