Heyyo, happy Wednesday! We're halfway through another week and, as always, I'm here to wake you up and feed you all the sports info that you could ever want first thing in the morning.
This morning we've got a scouting report on a soaring NFL Draft prospect, a recap of yesterday's Champions League quarterfinals action, plus a way-too-early look at next season's college basketball rankings and some news about Aaron Rodgers (a possible career change?!) Shoutout to you if you sent me a question for today's mailbag, which you can find at the bottom of this correspondence. If I didn't use your question this week, no worries ... please shoot me another again next week.
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One of the cool perks of working at CBS Sports is that I frequently get some very cool branded company merch items sent my way. I just got a North Face jacket a month or so ago and I may get buried in it. But apparently you don't even have to work here anymore to get that stuff, which, selfishly, I'm a little upset about. If you want to rep The Eye, check out the CBS Sports store that launched this week. There's some cool stuff in there (don't bother looking for the North Face ... it's still not available to you, chump 😎)
Oh, and as a reminder ... THE MASTERS BEGINS TOMORROW. Let's party.
📰 What you need to know
1. Why Zach Wilson's stock climbed so rapidly 🏈
We all know who's getting taken with the No.1 pick in this year's NFL Draft; Trevor Lawrence is considered one of the (if not the) greatest QB prospects in the history of the league, so he'll go to the Jaguars first overall. And given the way things are trending, we've got a pretty strong idea of who's going second, too.
With the Jets trading Sam Darnold over the weekend and Zach Wilson's rapidly rising stock, it seems likely that Wilson is going to end up in New York. But why/how has the BYU star had such a meteoric rise to the second-best QB prospect on most draft boards? Allow our Josh Edwards to explain:
- Capable of throwing from several arm angles: Perhaps it's the Patrick Mahomes effect, but more attention is being paid to QBs who can throw from different arm angles and Wilson is in that category. Edwards says Wilson "has a bit of [Aaron] Rodgers to his game in the way that he is able to create a lot of power through his hips without planting his feet in the ground" and showcases the natural athletic ability of being able to throw from different arm slots
- Pinpoint accuracy: The value of this one should be self explanatory, no? Wilson's lowest completion percentage in college was 62.4% in 2019 and his highest (73.5%) came this past season
- Dual-threat potential: He's no pure speedster, but he has enough ability with the legs to be considered a dual-threat QB that can keep defenses honest. He had 70 carries for 254 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020
While Lawrence going to the Jags all but a lock, our Ryan Wilson says it's about a "75-80 percent done deal for the Jets" taking Wilson. That takes a little suspense out of the top of the draft, but there are still plenty of unknowns behind these top two QBs. Will the 49ers take Mac Jones? If so, how fall will Justin Fields and Trey Lance fall? And will anyone present enough of a convincing offer to the Falcons to trade up to No. 4 to take one of those guys?
There's still plenty to be worked out but, for now, you can probably pencil in Wilson to the Jets.
2. Champions League takeaways from the quarterfinals ⚽
We started off with some football, but how about some futbol? Quarterfinals action got underway yesterday in the Champions League with a couple of heavy-hitting first leg matches. Manchester City got a late goal to beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Etihad, while Real Madrid dismantled Liverpool's defense en route to a 3-1 win.
Let's get some takeaways from the one and only Roger Gonzalez following yesterday's action:
- Real play conservatively and it pays off: Liverpool was a mess defensively, but Real deserves some credit for how well they played in absence of Sergio Ramos and Raphale Varane. Los Blancos played conservatively by design and they managed to hold Liverpool to just one shot on goal
- Dortmund still alive and well: Man City may have come away with a 2-1 win but there's reason to still believe in Dortmund despite their recent struggles. They had plenty of chances on Tuesday and were robbed of a goal thanks to a blown call early in the second half, so next week's second leg has the chance to be thoroughly entertaining
- Liverpool on the verge of exit: The absence of Virgil van Dijk really hurt the Reds and the lack of experience on the back end showed on Tuesday. They'd been playing well defensively heading into yesterday's match but the poor showing now has them in a huge hole with minimal chance of advancing against an elite attack
You'll have to wait until next week to see these play out, but we do have two more big first leg matches on the slate today, with Bayern Munich taking on PSG and Porto facing Chelsea. You can stream both of those games (and all UCL action) on Paramount+.
3. UCLA earns highest ranking in our very early 2021-22 Top 25 🏀
We're just one full day removed from the conclusion of college basketball season, but does that mean it's too early to look ahead to next season and examine a preseason Top 25? Probably, but is that going to stop us from doing it anyway? Absolutely not.
As most people are decompressing from the tournament, you've got a chance to get a head start on prep for next season. Our college basketball guru Gary Parrish is here to help with his never-too-early Top 25 rankings for 2021-22.
- UCLA holds the top spot, with every meaningful player from this year's Final Four run set to return next season -- including Johnny Juzang
- Three of this year's Final Four open in the top five, including defending champion Baylor at No. 5
- North Carolina sits at No. 15 heading into Year 1 of the Hubert Davis era
While it's always extremely difficult to project this far ahead, it's even more challenging this year due to the fact that the transfer portal is going to be busier than usual. It's expected we'll see an addition of a one-time transfer waiver that'll allow players to leave one school and play at another immediately, meaning we could see a lot of player movement. We'll also see some players declare for the draft while others make the decision to return.
With that player movement will inevitably come movement in the rankings, so don't get too comfortable with what you're seeing right now. Also, for what it's worth, Gonzaga has opened as the early betting favorite (+700) to win the 2022 tournament despite falling short in this year's title game.
4. Aaron Rodgers wants to play quarterback AND host 'Jeopardy!' 😦
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is the guest host of "Jeopardy!" for the next couple of weeks, and if you've enjoyed his time on the show so far then you might be interested to hear that he's campaigning to continue on as host of the show in a full-time capacity. I'd imagine this might come as alarming news for Green Bay football fans considering Rodgers is the reigning NFL MVP, but fear not ... Rodgers believes he'd be able to continue playing football while also hosting the show.
- Rodgers: "I don't think I'd need to give up football to do it. They film 46 days a year. I worked 187 this year in Green Bay. That gives me 178 days to do 'Jeopardy!' So I feel like I could fit 46 into that 178 and make it work. It would be a dream job for sure, and I'm not shy at all about saying I want the job. That's how I went into it. I want an opportunity to be in the mix."
There was a lot of positive reaction from Rodgers' first couple of days as host and this campaign doesn't seem to be a gag -- he legitimately wants to be Alex Trebek's full-time successor, and he's confident that he'd be a good fit. As it stands, though, Rodgers' trial hosting run will come to an end on April 16, and then we'll have to see what happens from there.
They often say that playing quarterback is the most difficult job in sports, but I'd have to imagine playing quarterback while also having another full-time job is even more challenging. Then again, I've seen old NFL film and I'm almost certain that every QB before 1960 chain-smoked cigarettes and played games after working a full week of construction, so maybe it won't be that bad.
📝 Odds & Ends
- The Carolina Panthers are reportedly letting Teddy Bridgewater choose his next landing spot
- Fernando Tatis Jr. suffered a slight labrum tear but will not need surgery
- Russell Wilson has reportely told Seahawks teammates he's not leaving Seattle this year
📺 What to watch today
⚽ Bayern Munich vs. PSG, 3 p.m. | PSG +255 | TV: Paramount+
🏒 Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. | 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBCSN
🏀 Jazz vs. Suns, 10 p.m. | PHX +2 | TV: ESPN
🥇 The best thing I saw yesterday
I'm a fan of these Boston Marathon-themed jerseys that the Red Sox will wear over Patriots Day weekend. While they don't feel like Red Sox uniforms and I don't love the UCLA-ripoff cap, I do think they look nice and are a cool tribute to an event that's important to the city.
What're your thoughts on the "Mighty Ducks" reboot on Disney+? I went into it expecting it would be a nostalgia grab but I love it. Am I crazy? -Connor C.
You're not crazy at all! I was also quite skeptical of the idea initially, but I've been thoroughly entertained through the first couple of episodes. Is it perfect? Certainly not -- there have been some lame moments/jokes and I'm sure it'll follow a rather predictable arc through the first season, but it's largely been very fun and very enjoyable. There's something for everyone to enjoy, including kids as well as people my age who grew up on the Ducks.
Also, I know grumpy Gordon Bombay is going to snap out of this cycle of self-loathing at some point but I really hope he doesn't. I never want him to stop eating sheets of birthday cake while being mean to kids. It's hilarious.
Do you have any anxiety towards the upcoming "Space Jam" sequel? -Natalie G
Man, we're going hard on these '90s reboot questions this week, huh? I love it. And no, I'm not really worried about the "Space Jam" sequel. If it stinks ... so what? It'll just be one more thing that people tease LeBron James about. From what I've seen in the trailers so far, it looks pretty legit and my excitement hasn't been dampened at all. Does the plot look stupid? Yeah, kind of but, uh, newsflash ... the plot of the first "Space Jam" was NBA stars getting their talent stolen by aliens and Michael Jordan getting sucked into a golf hole in order to play a game of basketball alongside Looney Tunes, Bill Murray and Newman from "Seinfeld." If they made that work, I'm pretty sure any plot can work.
Would you rather there be empty stadiums/arenas for all sports forever (but could watch them all on TV) OR have lifetime tickets to all hockey games forever but no access to any other sports on TV or in person? (Note: There will be 2 beers included with the ticket.) -Sydney
Now this is a brutal question and I sort of hate what it's doing to me inside. But as much as I love going to hockey games and miss packed arenas, I think I have to go with the first option. The past year has taught me that, while it's weird to not have crowds at sporting events, it doesn't completely ruin the experience of watching from home. I love hockey as much as anyone, but it would absolutely kill me not to be able to watch any other sports year round. I need my baseball in the summer. I need my college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays. I gotta have the insanity of March Madness. I'm not willing to give any of these things up just so that I can watch hockey (and only hockey) in person.
Also, food and beer is cheaper at home and you don't have to wait in line for the bathroom.
So you watched "Godzilla vs. Kong?" Honestly, what did you think? -Gary
I did! It was pretty much exactly what I expected -- a fun, mindless action movie that featured a ton of loud noises and destruction. It was interesting enough to keep my attention for an hour and 45 minutes. Pretty much any scene involving a human was stupid (the dialogue and plot were quite thin) but the movie seemed self-aware enough to know that's not what we care about. If you come into a movie called "Godzilla vs. Kong" looking for some thoughtful, deep script then ... uh, that's probably your first mistake. It got to the good stuff fairly quick and the battles were sweet. That's all I really wanted.