Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
When it comes to the NFL offseason, this week is usually the calm before the storm, so please enjoy it, because after this week, things likely won't be calm again for the next three months. Also, please enjoy it, because there's no guarantee it will last. We could see Derek Carr get signed or Aaron Rodgers get traded or some other crazy thing happen. Anything can happen at any time in the NFL offseason.
Since today is Presidents' Day, I will be doing what I do every Presidents' Day and that's pointing out the fact that Drew Brees looks like former President Rutherford B. Hayes. Presidents' Day is the only day on the calendar where mentioning that fact makes sense, so that's why I'm doing it (You can see their uncanny resemblance by clicking here).
Also, I have some NFL-related, Presidents' Day trivia: Can you name the five colleges that have produced both a president of the United States and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback? (Answer at the bottom of the newsletter).
Alright, I'm going to stop talking about Presidents' Day so we can get to the rundown. As always, please tell everyone you know to sign up for the newsletter. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link with them.
1. Mock Draft Monday: Two full rounds of picks in Ryan Wilson's latest mock
From now until the start of the NFL Draft, the first day of every week here will be known as Mock Draft Monday. What this means is that Ryan Wilson, our senior NFL Draft analyst, will be unveiling his latest mock draft, and today he's starting off with a bang by giving us his first TWO-ROUND mock draft of the offseason.
If you read Wilson's mock, you'll get to see who he has going in every spot from one thru 63.
With that in mind, here are the top-15 picks in his mock:
1. Bears: EDGE Will Anderson (Alabama)
2. Texans: QB Bryce Young (Alabama)
3. Cardinals: DL Jalen Carter (Georgia)
4. Colts: QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)
5. Seahawks: EDGE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)
6. Lions: CB Joey Porter, Jr. (Penn State)
7. Raiders: QB Will Levis (Kentucky)
8. Falcons: DL Miles Murphy (Clemson)
9. Panthers: QB Anthony Richardson (Florida)
10. Eagles: CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
11. Titans: OT Paris Johnson, Jr. (Ohio State)
12. Texans: WR Jordan Addison (USC)
13. Jets: OL O'Cyrush Torrence (Florida)
14. Patriots: WR Quentin Johnson (TCU)
15. Seahawks: TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
If you want to see how the next 48 picks pan out, then be sure to check out Wilson's entire mock draft by clicking here.
2. Top 25 defensive free agents: Eagles dominate top of list
In less than a month, things will likely be getting crazy around the NFL and that's because the league's free agency period will be kicking off on March 15. The first 24 hours of free agency are usually pretty wild and that's because that time frame is usually when we see the biggest names go off the board.
So who are the biggest names this year? Glad you asked.
After ranking the top offensive free agents last week, our Jared Dubin went through and ranked the top 25 defensive free agents this week. One interesting thing about this list is that there are FOUR Eagles players in the top 11, which means Philadelphia could have a lot of free agent holes to fill this offseason.
With that in mind, let's take a look at Dubin's top 11 (We'll list the player, plus the team they played for last season).
1. DL Javon Hargrave (Eagles)
2. DL DaRon Payne (Commanders)
3. CB James Bradberry (Eagles)
4. LB Lavonte David (Buccaneers)
5. S Jordan Poyer (Bills)
6. LB David Long (Titans)
7. FS Jessie Bates (Bengals)
8. DB Chauncey Gardener-Johnson (Eagles)
9. LB Tremaine Edmunds (Bills)
10. DL Dre'Mont Jones (Broncos)
11. DL Fletcher Cox (Eagles)
If you want to see Dubin's entire top 25 ranking, then be sure to click here.
3. Ten bold predictions for the offseason
We love making predictions here and just because it's the offseason doesn't mean we're going to stop. As a matter of fact, we've got some bold OFFSEASON predictions coming today from Jordan Dajani, who sees some wild things happening over the next two months.
Let's take a look at five of his boldest predictions.
- Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers. "Another year, another offseason of wondering what's going to happen with Rodgers and the Packers. Is this our third go-around? My hot take is that I don't think this situation is as dramatic as the reports indicate. My 'crazy' prediction is that Rodgers returns to the fold for 2023. Brady may have stolen some of his thunder by being the main retirement of this offseason, plus Rodgers views Green Bay as home."
- Jimmy Garoppolo signs with the Buccaneers. "With Jimmy leaving San Francisco, my prediction is that he proves time is a flat circle by replacing his former teammate, Tom Brady, under center in Tampa."
- Odell Beckham Jr. signs with the Giants. "After being spurned by the Cowboys this past season, OBJ is going to sign with his former in New York."
- Derek Carr signs with Jets. "The Jets are going to be looking to add another quarterback. They may want a veteran who has plenty of experience as a starter, so Carr could fit in here."
- Tony Pollard draws most RB interest in free agency, leaves the Cowboys. "There are several intriguing running backs looking for new deals this offseason, including Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery. The one I predict will receive the most interest, however, is Tony Pollard of the Cowboys."
If you want to see all 10 bold predictions, then be sure to click here.
4. Cardinals get new coordinators, including one who's under the age of 30
It took the Cardinals more than a month to find their new head coach (Jonathan Gannon), but once he was hired, he didn't waste any time bringing in his new coordinators. Gannon found both his guys over the weekend and one interesting thing is that neither of them have any coordinating experience.
Here's a look at the two guys who were hired:
- Cardinals hire defensive coordinator who's not even 30. If you want to feel old, this will probably do it: The Cardinals new defensive coordinator isn't even 30. The new guy is 29-year-old Nick Rallis and he has risen quickly through the coaching ranks. Three years ago, he was a defensive quality control coach for the Vikings. In 2021, he moved on to Philadelphia, where he was hired as the linebackers coach. He then spent two seasons with Gannon in Philly before following his old boss to Arizona. Rallis will have his work cut out for him in Arizona as he'll be taking over a defense that surrendered the second-most points in the NFL last season. Rallis is currently the youngest coordinator in the NFL. And here's a fun fact: Rallis' brother is WWE star Madcap Moss.
- Rallis was a hot commodity. Although Rallis is young, he was still apparently a hot commodity during this coaching cycle. According to NFL.com, there were multiple teams interested in hiring Rallis before the Cardinals were able to nab him. Two of those teams were the Broncos and Eagles, but in the end, Rallis decided to follow Gannon to the desert.
- Cardinals also hire a young offensive coordinator. The Cardinals coaching staff is going to be extremely young and that's because, besides Rallis, the team also hired 35-year-old Drew Petzing as the offensive coordinator. The Rallis hire made some sense because Gannon was at least familar with him, but this hire was a little more out of left field. Petzing was the QB coach in Cleveland last year before getting Arizona's OC job. Petzing got his first NFL job as a football operations intern for the Browns in 2013, and now, 10 years later, he's an NFL OC. Petzing has worked multiple jobs as an NFL assistant over the past 10 years, including assistant wide receivers coach, assistant QB coach, wide receiver coach and tight ends coach, but he's never been a coordinator. In Arizona, it will be up to Petzing to make sure the Cardinals offense can succeed with Kyler Murray.
- Petzing and Rallis crossed paths in Minnesota. One interesting thing about the Cardinals new coordinators is that they were actually on the same coaching staff for ONE year in Minnesota. Back in 2018, Rallis served as a defensive quality control coach while Petzing served as the Vikings assistant quarterbacks coach. The Vikings went 8-7-1 that year. It's probably not a coincidence that both guys ended up on Gannon's staff. The Cardinals new head coach told NBC Sports over the weekend that Mike Zimmer is one of his biggest mentors and Zimmer was the head coach of the 2018 Vikings.
If the Cardinals are successful this year, you might see other head coaches open up to the idea of hiring much younger coordinators. As for Gannon, he really wanted the Arizona job and we know that because he actually took a PAY CUT to take it. Gannon told NBC Sports that the Eagles were willing to pay him more as their defensive coordinator than the Cardinals were willing to pay him to be their head coach, but ultimately, he decided the money didn't matter and that he wanted to be a head coach.
5. XFL kicks off: Highlights from a wild Week 1 of action
I don't think I've mentioned the XFL a single time this year in the newsletter, but that's going to change today because we're going to cover the league's first week of action. The XFL returned in 2020, but then was forced to shut down due to COVID. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his business partners then bought the rights to the XFL in August 2020 and after two-and-a-half years of planning, the league finally got back off the ground over the weekend.
There are eight teams in the league and they were all in action. Here are some of the highlights from each game:
- Arlington Renegades 22-20 over Las Vegas Vipers. The return of the XFL started off with a bang as these two teams played in a wild game that went down to the wire. Vipers quarterback Luis Perez threw a 20-yard touchdown pass with just eight seconds left to cut the lead to two (You can see the play here), but Perez got sacked on the ensuing two-point conversion, which allowed Arlington to come away with the win. Perez threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions.
- Houston Gamblers 33-12 over Orlando Guardians. Former NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch is trying to revive his football career in the XFL, but based on Saturday's game, things aren't going so well. After throwing a TD pass on Orlando's opening drive, Lynch absolutely fell apart to the point where he got benched. Lynch threw an interception while also getting sacked four times. The Gamblers defense totaled seven sacks in the game and Trent Harris came up with four of them.
- St. Louis Battlehawks 18-15 over San Antonio Brahmas. If the XFL is going to survive, it's going to be because of games like this. With 90 seconds left IN THE FOURTH QUARTER, the Brahmas led 15-3 and this game appeared to be all but over, but then things got crazy. First, Battlehawks QB AJ McCarron threw a 17-yard TD pass with 1:25 left to cut the lead to 15-9 (You can see the play here). After that, the Battlehawks nailed a THREE-POINT conversion (you can get three points after a touchdown if you run a play from the 10-yard line and get in the end zone). At that point, St. Louis went for an onside kick except in the XFL, there's no onside kick. To keep the ball, you have to convert a fourth-and-15 play from your own 25-yard line. The Battlehawks got that -- you can see it here -- and then a few plays later, McCarron hit Austin Proehl for a game-winning 14-yard TD that you can see here. If every XFL game is this exciting, I will be watching them all.
- D.C. Defenders 22-18 over Seattle Sea Dragons. The defenders only totaled 177 yard of offense, but they still won, because their defense came up with several big plays. MIchael Joseph came up with two interceptions, including a pick-six of former Cowboys QB Ben DiNucci. One other notable aspect of this game is that fans threw lemons on the field. Before the lemons, the Defenders were trailing 18-8. After the lemons, they came back to win. I can't say this for sure, but don't be surprised if lemon-throwing becomes a weekly tradition for the Defenders (You can see the lemons here). As for the Sea Dragons, one of the XFL's biggest names, Josh Gordon, caught six passes for 74 yards in his debut.
Although I watched parts of each game, Cody Benjamin and Jordan Dajani watched every minute of all four XFL games and you can read their highlights from the weekend by clicking here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Packers might be done with Aaron Rodgers
It was a busy weekend 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.
- Packers seem done with Rodgers. According to longtime Packers beat writer and insider Bob McGinn, the Packers are ready to move on from their star quarterback. "They are done with Rodgers," McGinn said on a podcast with GoLong's Tyler Dunne. "He's not coming back. I mean, they're disgusted with him, and they're done with him. And they're moving on." Rodgers is currently on a four-day darkness retreat and therefore likely has no idea that this report came out. You can read more about the situation by clicking here.
- Derek Carr visits Jets. The former Raiders quarterback made his first official visit of free agency over the weekend by meeting with the Jets. Personally, I have a hard time seeing him land there. Carr has struggled in cold weather throughout his career and just in case he doesn't know, he'd be dealing with almost two full months of cold weather every regular season if he signs with the Jets.
- Daniel Jones switching agents. According to ESPN.com, the Giants quarterback is switching agents, which is notable, because he's set to become a free agent. Of course, those agents may not have much to do this offseason, because if the two sides can't work out a long-term deal, then New York can simply hit Jones with the franchise tag, which would pay him $32.4 million for the 2023 season.
- Chiefs likely to use franchise tag on Orlando Brown. One reason the Chiefs won the Super Bowl is because their offensive line played so well and one big reason for that is because of Brown. The left tackle played the 2022 season on the franchise tag and it appears that's going to happen again. According to The Athletic, the Chiefs are likely going to tag Brown again. If Brown gets tagged again, his expected salary for 2023 will be in the neighborhood of $20 million for the year.
- Eric Bieniemy lands multiyear deal with the Commanders. Bieniemy finally has a new job, but it's not as a head coach. The former Chiefs offensive coordinator is headed to Washington on a multiyear deal. Not only will Bieniemy be the Commanders' offensive coordinator, but he'll also serve as the team's assistant head coach. Bieniemy will finally have some job security, something he didn't have in Kansas City where he worked on a series of one-year deals over the past five seasons.
- Panthers get a new offensive coordinator. Frank Reich finally has his new offensive coordinator in place. The Panthers have hired Thomas Brown, who spent his past three seasons with Sean McVay in Los Angeles. Brown was an assistant head coach with the Rams in both 2021 and 2022.
- DK Metcalf wins MVP in NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. It was a big weekend for the Seahawks receiver, who recorded a double-double in the celebrity game at NBA All-Star Weekend. Metcalf totaled 20 points and 10 rebounds while also earning MVP honors after leading Team Dwyane to an 81-78 win over Team Ryan. Metcalf played so well that he was flagged for a "random" drug test by the NFL over the weekend (You can read the details here).
TRIVIA ANSWER (You probably already forgot there was a trivia question)
Miami (Ohio): Ben Roethlisberger, Benjamin Harrison
Stanford: John Elway/Jim Plunkett, Herbert Hoover
Michigan: Tom Brady, Gerald Ford
Navy: Roger Staubach, Jimmy Carter
Delaware: Joe Flacco, Joe Biden
On a somewhat related note, only one school on this list -- and one school ever -- has produced a president, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback AND a Super Bowl-winning coach and that school is Miami (Ohio). Besides Big Ben and President Ben, Miami also produced Weeb Ewbank (Super Bowl III), John Harbaugh (Super Bowl XLVII) and Sean McVay (Super Bowl LVI). As a graduate of Miami (Ohio), I'm required to sneak this fact in whenever I can.