It's finally here! Draft week is finally here!
Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter, where we will be kicking off draft week in style. We've been counting down to the draft for so long that I was starting to think maybe the NFL postponed it without telling anyone. That seems like something they would do. However, that is not the case and the draft will be kicking off Thursday, which means this newsletter is going to be jam-packed with draft content for the rest of the week. We'll have so many mock drafts that our mock drafts will have mock drafts, and we'll make sure to include as many rumors as humanly possible.
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.
1. Today's show: Monday Mailbag!
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure there was one time when someone asked if I'm a dog-person or cat-person, so if we'll answer that question, trust me when I say we'll answer almost anything. (And I hate to admit this, but I'm a cat guy.)
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 that includes your question.
Here's one question that Will Brinson and I answered in today's mailbag. (Ryan Wilson wasn't on the show because we had to give him the day off because as our senior draft analyst, he'll be working 127 hours over the next five days.)
Q: Who do you think the Titans should take during the draft? Do you think the Titans should trade up to try to get Matt Corral?
A: You know Titans fans are getting desperate when they're asking me what their team should do with their first-round pick. If I'm a Titans fan, I almost want them to trade out of the first-round because of how bad they've been with first-round picks over the past few years. Three of Tennessee's last six first-round picks aren't even on the team anymore! That list includes Corey Davis (2017), Rashaan Evans (2018) and Isaiah Wilson (2020).
If I'm the Titans, one thing I'm not going to do this year is take a quarterback. I think I give Ryan Tannehill at least one more year and see how things play out from there.
Although they won't necessarily need a QB, the Titans do have a lot of needs and since they're picking at the backend of the first-round (26th overall), I think they should just take the best available player. Ideally for the Titans, that player would be an offensive lineman like Kenyon Green (Texas A&M) or Zion Johnson (Boston College). The Titans could also stand to take a wide receiver or a cornerback.
Based on all of their needs, I want to say that it would be almost impossible for them to make a bad pick here, but this is the Titans we're talking about, so it's definitely possible.
Anyway, to listen to the rest of the mailbag, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Jaguars appear to have narrowed their options down to four players for the top pick
With just three days to go until the start of the NFL Draft, we're in the heart of smokescreen season when even the smokescreens can be smokescreens. What I think I'm trying to say here is that you shouldn't believe anything you read this week unless you wrote it yourself, and even then, I'd be skeptical.
One team that could be blowing a lot of smoke over the next few days is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags hold the first pick in the draft, and right now, no one really seems to know what they're going to do. That's important to keep in mind, because if the Jags make a surprise pick, that will have a trickle-down effect.
So what are the Jaguars thinking right now? Let's find out.
- They've narrowed their options down to four players. Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said Friday that the team has via SI.com. "We've got plenty of time. We're ahead of last year's schedule in terms of preparation. We've worked hard to get there. The decision doesn't have to be made right now, so why make it?" That has to be a smokescreen, right? Baalke knows exactly who the Jags are taking, right? There's no way the Jags haven't made up their mind this close to the draft, right? If I was a Jags fan, I'd be nervous. . You'd think with the draft so close that the Jags would have already decided who to take, but apparently, that's not the case. "The pick doesn't have to be made today, so there's no sense in forcing it right now, Baalke said,
- Four players the Jags could be looking at. Although Baalke didn't reveal the four players Jacksonville is considering, the Jags have been closely linked to four players over the past few weeks: Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker, Ikem Ekwonu, and Evan Neal. I'm guessing those four players are likely the ones on Jacksonville's list right now.
- Odds for first pick undergo a major change. For the past two weeks, Aidan Hutchinson was the odds-on favorite to be selected with the first-overall pick, but that's no longer the case. According to our friends at Caesars Sportsbook, Walker is the new favorite as of Monday morning. There's been a lot of speculation that Walker is going to go with the top pick, and although it's SMOKESCREEN season, I'm starting to believe it might actually happen.
- Jags won't be trading. One thing that won't be happening with the first-overall pick is a trade. Baalke revealed Friday that he hasn't received any calls about the top pick, which actually makes sense this year. There's no "can't miss" prospect at the top of the draft, so there's no reason for any team to mortgage its future by making a monstrous trade to move up to the No. 1 overall spot.
What this all means is that the Jags will be staying put at No. 1 overall, and they have until 8:10 p.m. ET on Thursday to figure out who they're going to take.
3. 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: "It's my chance to play GM. Rather than trying to figure out who teams will take, I plug in guys I think they should take. Usually, it differs from the mocks and the actual draft. This one is no different. If you are looking for Liberty quarterback Malik Willis in this mock, you won't find him. I just don't think he's a first-round talent."
Prisco thought Justin Herbert was underrated in 2020, and this year, he thinks Kenny Pickett and Desmond Ridder are the two best quarterbacks in the draft.
With that in mind, let's check out the top-15 picks in Prisco's who-they-should take mock.
- 1. Jaguars: OL Evan Neal (Alabama)
- 2. Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)
- 3. Texans: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
- 4. Jets: OL Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)
- 5. Giants: OL Charles Cross (Mississippi State)
- 6. Panthers: QB Kenny Pickett (Pitt)
- 7. Giants: DL Travon Walker (Georgia)
- 8. Falcons: CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)
- 9. Seahawks: CB Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU)
- 10. Jets: WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
- 11. Commanders: WR Drake London (USC)
- 12. Vikings: DL Jordan Davis (Georgia)
- 13. Texans: EDGE Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State)
- 14. Ravens: OL Tyler Lindenbaum (Iowa)
- 15. Eagles: WR Jameson Williams (Alabama)
One of the biggest surprises of Prisco's mock is that Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton ended up falling out of the top 20. Prisco also has just two quarterbacks being selected in the first round (Pickett and Ridder).
If you want to see how the rest of the first round plays out -- and trust me, you do -- then.
Ryan Wilson also has a mock draft of what teams "should" do and unlike Prisco's, this mock covers the first TWO rounds of the draft. To check out Wilson's.
4. Surprise picks that could shake up the 2022 NFL Draft
The best part about this year's NFL Draft is that no one seems to have any idea how it's going to play out. The Jaguars might take Aidan Hutchinson with the first pick, but they might not. Basically, we could see a lot of surprises during the draft, starting with the first-overall pick.
With that in mind, Chris Trapasso came up with a list of surprise scenarios that shake up the entire first-round.
Let's check out three moves that could alter the first round of the draft with a focus on quarterbacks:
- 1. Lions selecting Malik Willis with the second-overall pick: "If it happens, it'll send off sirens on the quarterback market moving at a faster pace than just about everyone expected, and, of course, will push a non-quarterback down the board for the Texans at No. 3 overall."
- 2. Saints trade into the top-10 for a QB. "New Orleans is weirdly positioned at No. 16 and No. 19 overall [due to the fact that the players they want could be long gone]. If the Saints package their extra first-round pick with others to enter the top-10 party to pick a quarterback, it'd throw a wrench in the top half of the first round, although many teams outside of it would be celebrating in their respective war rooms, as it'd move an offensive tackle down the board as well as other non-quarterback prospects."
- 3. No quarterbacks get selected in the top-10. "This could definitely throw a wrench into things. In this scenario, would the Eagles think about Malik Willis with one of their two first-round picks? What about the Saints? And it feels like the Steelers would be ecstatic. Teams picking outside the top-20 wouldn't love it, though, as no quarterbacks inside the top-10 would mean the top prospects at other positions flew off the board."
If you want to check out the rest of.
5. Holiday games are coming: Black Friday game could happen in 2022, Christmas tripleheader will definitely be on the schedule
When the NFL schedule is released May 12, the league could be adding a few new twists for 2022, so let's take a quick look at what could be coming.
- NFL will play a Christmas tripleheader for first time ever. If you're a regular reader of the newsletter, you already know about this because we mentioned it Thursday, but it's worth mentioning again because we have a few more details to include. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the NFL and those games will kick off at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. ET and 8:15 p.m., according to the NFL's VP of broadcasting Mike North. The first two games will air on CBS/FOX (each network will get one) and the primetime game will air on NBC.
- NFL has been slowly taking over Christmas. Although Christmas has usually been the NBA's territory, the NFL is going for a full takeover this year after slowly making a move to broadcast games on the holiday. The NFL didn't play its first Christmas regular season game until 1989. The first doubleheader didn't happen until 2004, and now, 18 years later, we're going to see the first tripleheader.
- Christmas games are huge in the ratings. If you're wondering they the NFL now loves Christmas games, it's because everyone is watching. The league had two Christmas games in 2021 -- Browns at Packers and Colts at Cardinals -- and both games did huge TV numbers. The Packers' 24-22 win over the Browns drew 28.6 million viewers, which made it the third-most watched regular-season game of 2021. As for the other game, the Colts' 22-16 win over the Cardinals was the second-most watched game ever in the history of the NFL Network, which has been airing games since 2006.
- Details on the potential Black Friday game. According to Peter King of NBC Sports, owners recently passed a resolution that "gave the NFL permission to schedule two more teams for a second short-week game." What this means is that the door has now been opened for a possible Black Friday game that would air on Amazon. It seems the , but it's not clear if the first one will take place in 2022 or 2023. Amazon is apparently willing to pay more than $70 million to have the game added to its schedule, and it would be surprising if the NFL turns down that kind of money.
- One problem with the plan. The reason the game might not happen this year is because of the competition it would face on Black Friday. Not only will the World Cup be going on, but the U.S. is scheduled to host England at 2 p.m. ET on Black Friday, and it's unlikely the NFL would want to go head-to-head with that game. The obvious answer would be to put the Black Friday game in primetime, but the NFL isn't allowed to do that.
- Special rules for Friday games. Under the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, the league isn't allowed to televise any games on Friday or Saturday from the second weekend in September thru the second weekend in December. (Those two days have been earmarked for high school and college football.) However, there is a small exception here: Under the current antitrust exemption rules, the NFL is ALLOWED to schedule a Friday game as long as it's over before 6 p.m. local time. Basically, if the NFL plays a Black Friday game this year, it will almost certainly be played on the West coast. The league could have a game kickoff at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, which would serve two purposes: It would end before 6 p.m. local time, and the USMNT's game against England would have already concluded.
Although we don't yet know if Amazon will be getting a Black Friday game this year, we do know it will be taking over the Thursday night package. The first game of its package will be announced during the first-round of the NFL Draft.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Buccaneers restructure Tom Brady's contract
It was a wild weekend around 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.
- Tom Brady restructures his contract. The Buccaneers picked up some extra cap space over the in a move that will free up nearly $9 million in cap space. The interesting thing here is that Brady didn't have to add any years to his deal, which means at this point, he could still leave Tampa Bay and play somewhere else following the 2022 season.
- Bears receiver arrested in Florida. Byron Pringle has been charged with reckless driving and driving with a suspended license after being arrested in Florida on Saturday. The Bears receivers was allegedly doing donuts in his car while his child was in the backseat. You can .
- Panthers won't trade for Baker Mayfield before draft. The Panthers might end up trading for Baker Mayfield, but if they do, it won't be happening before Thursday. According to NFL.com, the Panthers want to see how the first round of the draft plays out before they look at the possibility of adding Mayfield. If the Panthers draft a QB, then obviously they wouldn't have a need for the former Browns starter.
- Vikings not expected to pick up Garrett Bradbury's fifth-year option. Players who were selected during the first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft can have their fifth-year option picked up this year and it looks like the Vikings are going to take a pass on Bradbury's. If the Vikings don't pick it up, that means Bradbury will be a free agent after the 2022 season. Bradbury has started in every game he's played in for the Vikings since being selected with the 18th overall pick in 2019. The fifth-year option deadline for all NFL teams is May 2.
- Former Steelers starting QB retires from football. Former Steelers QB Devlin "Duck" Hodges, who started six games in 2019, has decided to retire from football. Hodges went 3-3 as a starter in 2019, which marked the only NFL starts of his career. His best showing came in a 20-13 win over the Browns when he threw for 212 yards and a TD. After not latching on with an NFL team in 2021, Hodges ended up signing with a CFL team last season. He lasted one season in Canada before announcing his retirement today.