Let me start off here by saying that I hope everyone enjoys today's newsletter, because let's be honest, it could be the last one you ever read. As the great philosopher Kyle Shanahan once said, "I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday," and the truth is, neither can I. I can't even guarantee you'll be alive tomorrow, so this could very well be the last newsletter you ever read.
On that depressing note, let's move on, but first, if you're wondering why Shanahan said that and how things got so morbid at his press conference on Monday, we'll have the answer for you in today's newsletter. Plus, with just two days to go until the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, we'll once again be featuring more draft content than you can handle. I'm not sure how much you can handle, but it will be more than that. Trust me.
Alright, let's get to the rundown, which could be the last one you ever read. As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. Today, you should tell your goth friends, I think they'll really dig the Shanahan quote. All you have to do to sign up is click here and then share the link.
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1. Today's show: 2021 NFL Draft mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week by adding a listener mailbag every Friday and although it's not Friday, you're getting a bonus draft version of the mailbag today. Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We go through listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I think we once spent 10 minutes debating how you should eat an Oreo. Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.
For today's mailbag, we focused on questions that were at least somewhat related to the NFL Draft:
- If you were to make a full NFL roster out of the top prospects in this year's draft and with an above-average coach like Mike Tomlin or Bruce Arians, how would that team fare in a regular-season schedule? Could that team have a winning record or even possibly make the playoffs?! I think this person is asking us what would happen if you made an entire team out of players who are available in this year's draft and my answer is that I don't think they'd be that good. A college all-star team would get beat down by most NFL squads. I think the learning curve is too steep in Year 1 and if you have a rookie at every position, you're going to struggle at some of those spots. I think the offensive line would struggle the most -- I mean your QB is going to get killed if he has to play behind five rookies -- and if the line struggles, the team isn't going to be able to score and if they can't score, they can't win. I think they'd win five games at the absolute most.
- What are your guys' thoughts on the Steelers trading up for Justin Fields in the first round? I give this a .0001% chance of happening. The only way it could happen is if Fields starts to fall, but even if that happens, the Steelers will likely be competing against teams like the Patriots or Washington or even the Bears who are all three in a better position to trade up. Basically, I don't think there's any way that Fields ends up in Pittsburgh.
- What are some viable ways that the NFL could implement a lottery for the first eight or so picks in the draft? I like the idea of a lottery in the NFL, but with a twist: I'd turn it into an eight-team playoff. After the regular season, I'd take the eight worst teams and have them face each other in a tournament to see who gets the No. 1 overall pick. The NFL loves making money and this tournament would make a lot of money.
To listen to the rest of the questions from today's mailbag -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here. If you do click, you'll notice that there's two podcasts in the feed today. In our other podcast, Will Brinson and R.J. White went over several draft props that you should keep an eye on.
2. Mock draft with a twist: Here's what teams 'should' do
If you only read one mock draft today, you're going to want to make sure it's the one that was just released by Pete Prisco. For the most part, all mock drafts are basically the same, but Prisco has decided to add a twist to his: Pete's mock is based on what teams should do, not what everyone thinks they're going to do.
So how does this work? I'll let Prisco explain, "I put myself into the general manager roles of all the teams to try and play out the first round, with fits, team needs, and value all coming into play. Last year in my who-they-should take mock, I had Justin Herbert going to the Miami Dolphins in the fifth spot because I thought he was a better player than Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins wished they had made that decision as of right now. Maybe they won't say it, but it's true after 2020."
Prisco thought Herbert was underrated last year and this year, his underrated quarterback is Justin Fields.
With that in mind, let's check out the top 15 picks in Prisco's who-they-should take mock:
- 1. Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
- 2. Jets: QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
- 3. 49ers: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- 4. Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts (Florida)
- 5. Bengals: OL Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech)
- 6. Dolphins: OL Penei Sewell (Oregon)
- 7. Lions: WR Ja'Marr Chase (LSU)
- 8. Panthers: OL Rashawn Slater (Northwestern)
- 9. Broncos: LB Jamin Davis (Kentucky)
- 10. Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II (Alabama)
- 11. Giants: WR DeVonta Smith (Alabama)
- 12. Eagles: CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)
- 13. Chargers: CB Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech)
- 14. Vikings: QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
- 15. Patriots: QB Mac Jones (Alabama)
If you want to see how the rest of the first round plays out, and trust me, you do, then you're going to want to click here.
3. 49ers press conference takes a morbid turn
One of the biggest questions in this year's draft involves the San Francisco 49ers and who they might take with the third overall pick. The 49ers are definitely going to take a quarterback, but no one seems to know who they're going to take.
The media was hoping to get a few clues about the pick on Monday during a conversation with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, but instead of getting any hints, the press conference quickly took a macabre turn after Shanahan was asked if he thought Jimmy Garoppolo would still be on the roster the day after the draft.
"I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday, so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday," Shanahan said.
Um OK. I'm not sure that's the answer I would have gone with, but to each their own. Also, I have to say, this would be like my wife asking me to plan a date for this weekend and I respond by saying, "I can't guarantee we're even going to be alive this weekend, so there's no point to planning a date." It's not going to go over well and I don't think Jimmy is going to be too thrilled when he hears Shanny's comments.
What Shanahan's remark tells me is that Garoppolo is as good as gone and he'll likely be gone before Sunday.
As for who will be taking his place, Shanahan said that there are five quarterbacks that his team likes in the draft, a number that has actually gone up over the past few weeks. When the 49ers originally made the trade last month to move up nine spots in the draft, they only liked three of the top quarterbacks.
"I'll say when we made this decision [to make a trade], we knew that there were five guys that we thought, we felt that we'd be okay with taking," Shanahan said. "We knew that there was three at the time exactly. That's why we thought three was a good spot to go to. After going through this whole process, I feel good about five guys at three."
Basically, we learned nothing from the 49ers press conference except the fact that all of us may or may not be alive come Sunday. This is pretty much how all press conferences go in the week leading up to the draft. Several other teams spoke with the media on Monday and they all said the same thing, which is to say that they said nothing.
In other quarterback news, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst tried to shut down any rumblings of QB discontent in Green Bay by declaring on Monday that Aaron Rodgers will be the team's quarterback for the "foreseeable future." For more those comments, be sure to click here.
4. Surprise picks that could shake up the 2021 NFL Draft
After sharing Prisco's mock draft with you earlier, I thought it would make some sense to give you another mock draft that's not exactly a mock draft and that's what I'm doing right now with Chris Trapasso's latest mock.
In this mock, Trapasso went through the entire first round and gave each team a player that could conceivably fit with the team, but the player would also completely shock everyone if he got drafted.
With that in mind, let's check out a few of the picks in the mock:
- 2. Jets: QB Justin Fields (Ohio State). "Everyone just expected them to pick Zach Wilson early on in the process. What if GM Joe Douglas and new head coach Robert Saleh like Fields more?"
- 3. 49ers: TE Kyle Pitts (Florida). "The most baller Kyle Shanahan move would be to have traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 to pick a tight end to pair with George Kittle."
- 4. Falcons: QB Mac Jones (Alabama). "At this point, everyone expects the Falcons to pick Kyle Pitts. If he's not the pick, it feels like Atlanta would trade back. A few weeks ago, no one was counting out a quarterback."
- 5. Bengals: OL Rashawn Slater (Northwestern). "For a solid month now, Bengals fans have argued whether their favorite team should pick Penei Sewell or Ja'Marr Chase. What if Duke Tobin and Co. like Slater more than the Oregon tackle?"
- 7. Lions: OL Penei Sewell (Oregon). "No one has any idea what the Lions will do, but just looking at the roster, receiver seems obvious. I wonder if Sewell on the board would push them toward the talented offensive tackle."
- 15. Patriots: WR Elijah Moore (Ole Miss). "This meets the surprise requirement for this piece because, given his history with first-round receivers, Bill Belichick won't pick another one, right?"
- 17. Raiders: QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State). "The Raiders have been sniffing around the quarterback market in this draft, and if they could land Jones -- probably would have to trade up to do it -- it'd be one of the largest surprises in Round 1."
If you want to check out the rest of Trapasso's list of surprise picks that could shake up the first round, be sure to click here.
5. Ranking the best draft picks of all time
With the 2021 NFL Draft just around the corner, we decided to kick off a series last month that features the top draft picks of all time. The way this has been working is pretty simple: Since there are 32 picks in the first round, we went through and listed the top five picks for each one of those 32 spots. Our countdown started with the 32nd spot, and now, we're finally to the end.
Today's the day where we unveil the five best No. 1 overall picks of all time. The twist here is that I was in charge of putting this list together, which means there's a 100% you're going to agree with everything on it.
With that in mind, let's get to the list:
1. Peyton Manning (1998, Indianapolis Colts)
2. John Elway (1983, Baltimore Colts)
3. Bruce Smith (1985, Bills)
4. Chuck Bednarik (1949, Eagles)
5. Terry Bradshaw (1970, Steelers)
Honorable mentions: Troy Aikman, Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson, Orlando Pace, Paul Hornung, Eli Manning.
I should add that my favorite top pick of all time might actually be John Matuszak (Oilers, 1973). Although he didn't make the cut on my list, he is my favorite football player turned actor of all time thanks mostly to the fact that he played Sloth in "The Goonies".
Anyway, if you want to read a deeper explanation on my all-time top picks list, be sure to click here so you can check out full story. On the other hand, if you'd like to yell at me on Twitter because you disagree with the list, feel free to click here.
If you want to check out the top five players ever at every draft spot from 32nd overall down to first overall, you'll want to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup:
It's been a busy 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.
- Sean Lee decides to call it quits. After 11 seasons in the NFL, Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has decided to call it a career. After being selected in the second round by Dallas in 2010, Lee almost instantly became an impact player for the Cowboys. Unfortunately, he dealt with nagging injuries for most of his career and that likely played a part in his retirement decision. Over the past three years alone, Lee missed 16 out of 48 regular-season games due to injury.
- Marcus Gilbert also retires. Lee wasn't the only player who retired on Monday and that's because Gilbert also decided to hang up his cleats for good. The former tackle spent his entire playing career with the Steelers after being selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Although Gilbert was traded to Arizona in 2019, he never actually played a down for the Cardinals. A knee injury cost him the 2019 season and then he opted out of the 2020 season.
- Washington pulls off trade with Dolphins. Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Miami Dolphins have made a trade. No one has been busier making trades this offseason than the Dolphins and on Tuesday, they shipped offensive lineman Ereck Flowers off to Washington. The deal will save the Dolphins $8 million in cap space. To make the trade happen, Washington and Miami will be exchanging late-round picks in the deal (the exact picks haven't been announced yet), which means the Dolphins basically made this deal to clear some cap space.
- Former Buccaneers player dies at age 33. Former NFL player Geno Hayes died Monday night. He was just 33 years old. Hayes, who spent seven years in the NFL, had been placed in hospice care due to a liver condition and his health had been declining rapidly over the past few weeks. Hayes' career in the NFL included stints with the Buccaneers (2008-11), Bears (2012) and Jaguars (2013-14). To read more about his tragic situation, be sure to click here.
7. The Kicker: Patrick Peterson becomes first player to take advantage of the NFL's new numbering system
Less than a week after the NFL loosened up its policy on numbers for players, someone is finally taking advantage of that policy and that someone is Patrick Peterson. This means that if you're at bar trivia five years from now and you get asked who the first player was to switch numbers under the NFL's new numbering system, you should know the answer. DON'T BLOW IT.
Peterson co-hosts a podcast here at CBS Sports and it was during that podcast he revealed that he would be making the switch from 21 to 7.
Here's what he had to say on All Things Covered, which he co-hosts with two-time Super Bowl champion Bryant McFadden.
"I always wanted to rock No. 7," Peterson said. "Once they made the [rule] change, it was easy for me because seven has always been my number. I felt like seven was my number. Like 21 is Deion's [Sanders] number, you know what I mean? I just felt like in high school and in college, I made seven known. You can tell. When I went to LSU, guys wanted to wear No. 7."
Peterson was No. 7 during his college years at LSU, but then had to switch to 21 after the Cardinals drafted him because defensive players weren't allowed to wear single-digit numbers in the NFL until the rule passed last week.
For most players, it's not going to make a lot of financial sense to switch numbers this year and that's because the NFL is making them buy out the existing jersey inventory of their old number. However, that rule doesn't apply to Peterson because he just signed with a new team (Vikings) and that team didn't have any jerseys made yet, which means there was nothing to buy out.
Basically, what this means is that if you really, really want to switch numbers, the cheapest way to do it is to force a trade to a new team.