A few we expected, a few surprises, and a late ass night -- the first round of new talent in the NFL has found their new homes. My reactions to each pick:
01. Jacksonville Jaguars: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence - Everyone knew this was coming, and now that it's here, it's beautiful. Lawrence has the ability to completely rejuvenate and transform the franchise.
02. New York Jets: BYU QB Zach Wilson - Another one that wasn't a surprise whatsoever. I don't think he's the franchise-transforming QB Lawrence is, but I still think he'll turn out just fine.
03. San Francisco 49ers: NDSU QB Trey Lance - I would have taken Justin Fields with this pick. I don't think Lance is an immediate starter.
04. Atlanta Falcons: Ohio State TE Kyle Pitts - Still ignoring the gaping hole at the quarterback position. But Pitts is a player you can't exactly pass up. Immediate game-changer. Now we can talk about how once again Matt Ryan is surrounded with extreme talent and yet can't win shit.
05. Cincinnati Bengals: LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase - I would have preferred them go offensive lineman here, since Joe Burrow got beat up every Sunday last year, but this isn't a bad pick. And you don't have to worry about them not having a connection.
06. Miami Dolphins: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle - One of Tua Tagovailoa's biggest problems last season was his lack of weapons.
07. Detroit Lions: Oregon OL Penei Sewell - This is who the Bengals should have taken, but this works here too.
08. Carolina Panthers: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn - They're really sticking with Sam Darnold I guess.
09. Denver Broncos: Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II - First things first, Surtain was my pick for Best Dressed. Surtain was my favorite corner in this draft class, and they will for sure need him going up against Mahomes twice a year.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Alabama WR DeVonta Smith - Finally a weapon for Joe Flacco. It only took him four teams.
11. Chicago Bears: Ohio State QB Justin Fields - Other than Lawrence and Wilson, Fields is the best QB in this draft class. The Bears gave up a lot for him, so they must think he's The Guy. I think so too.
12. Dallas Cowboys: Penn State LB Micah Parsons - The Cowboys' linebackers were not great last season. Parsons is an immediate upgrade.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater - The happiest person regarding this pick is definitely Justin Herbert.
14. New York Jets: USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker - They're already making moves to protect their new star quarterback, which is very un-Jets like. Good for them.
15. New England Patriots: Alabama QB Mac Jones - The Patriots have their quarterback of the future (unless he isn't). I was starting to feel bad for him when he started to fall, but he fell right into Bill Belichick's lap. Not a bad spot to be.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins - One of my "Perfect Fit" picks. Arizona has a ton of talent on offense, and this adds some on the other side of the ball.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alabama OL Alex Leatherwood - No quarterback for Vegas, either. This was the lone "what's going on" pick of this round for me. I don't get this one at all.
18. Miami Dolphins: Miami (FL) DE Jaelan Phillips - Talented guy, but the medical history worries me. Interesting choice.
19. Washington Football Team: Kentucky LB Jamin Davis - I like this pick a lot for Washington. Dan Snyder must be locked on his yacht again.
20. New York Giants: Florida WR Kadarius Toney - Daniel Jones should be bouncing off the walls with this pick. An immediate starter that adds to an offense that improved last season without their biggest asset (Saquon Barkley was injured).
21. Indianapolis Colts: Michigan DE Kwity Paye - Probably the best "story" of this draft. Not a bad pick, fills a need, but not sure he's an immediate starter.
22. Tennessee Titans: Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley - I heard this guy was in danger of falling because of his injury history. That's pretty much what it boils down to. Without that, it's a great pick.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Virginia Tech OL Christian Darrisaw - Fills probably one of the biggest needs for the Vikings and might be the best tackle in this draft.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alabama RB Najee Harris - This kid is a good player, but I don't understand taking him here. Maybe that's just the anti-Steelers in me talking.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Clemson RB Travis Etienne - Another pick I don't really understand, because James Robinson is great already, but it makes sense with Trevor.
26. Cleveland Browns: Northwestern CB Gregory Newsome II - Good player, but I feel like they have bigger holes than corner. Andrew Berry is a wizard though, so I'll trust him on this one.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman - Almost would have preferred an offensive lineman here, but now the Ravens have zero excuses. I better not hear the "Lamar Jackson doesn't have enough weapons" excuse ever. Again.
28. New Orleans Saints: Houston DL Payton Turner - This was probably the Saints' biggest need, but I am just unsure of the player here.
29. Green Bay: Georgia CB Eric Stokes - I almost forgot this pick even happened, because of all the Aaron Rodgers drama. I like this pick though, and the fit.
30. Buffalo Bills: Miami DE Gregory Rousseau - I think the Bills got a steal here. He fell because he opted out. If he gets back into his groove, he'll be an impact player. Rich get richer.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Penn State DE Jayson Oweh - Zero sacks.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Washington DE Joe Tryon - The Bucs got their entire Super Bowl team back together so it honestly didn't matter who the hell they drafted here. Defensive end is a position they could afford some depth and to get younger at.
big story: Ravens trade orlando Brown Jr. to kansas city
The Baltimore Ravens are sending their Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs in a long-awaited trade that has seemed inevitable for months. Brown aired to the world that he was a LEFT tackle, and the writing was on the wall ever since then.
Here are the trade details:
The Ravens get some picks, and Brown likely wasn't going to sign there next season anyway when he became a free agent, so it's beneficial for them to get something for him now. However, trading a Pro Bowl player (a young one) to one of their biggest rivals and, in turn, making them even better is ... questionable for me. I'll leave it at that.
Going forward, the Ravens have significant holes in their offensive line, which is concerning considering their offense is exceptionally reliant on that position being solid. They'll likely sign former Pittsburgh Steelers OL Alejandro Villanueva in May, draft some younger linemen, and hope everyone stays healthy. On the optimistic side, Baltimore could pick up another Pro Bowler with one of those draft picks used in this trade, but that's to be determined.
small story: Browns exercise baker Mayfield's fifth-year option
This is important because it's an extreme rarity for Cleveland Browns quarterbacks. How rare?
tweet of the day:
big story: hulu is the new home for nfl redzone
My dad has had Direct TV for YEARS, for one reason and one reason only: The NFL Sunday Ticket package, which includes NFL Redzone. My favorite invention of all time is probably Redzone. And now it has a new home -- Hulu. The NFL and the streaming service reached a multi-year agreement today, which will bring my favorite invention to Hulu + Live TV subscribers.
Also, the platform is also including NFL Network year-round, meaning subscribers will have access to all NFL Network shows, such as Good Morning Football. They'll be available just in time for the NFL season, on August 1.
small story: jordan reed retires
Tight end Jordan Reed officially announced his retirement today, despite a comeback-worthy season last year with the San Francisco 49ers. Reed also didn't do too horribly for himself with the Washington Football Team before suffering from various concussions.
Those concussions were what eventually led to his retirement, he told ESPN.
tweet of the day:
big story: alex smith hangs up the cleats
Veteran quarterback and inspiring success story Alex Smith announced his retirement today. After a devastating leg injury in 2018 threatened not only his football career but his overall health, Smith returned to the field last season with the Washington Football Team. Smith also spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
This is the correct decision for Smith by a mile. While I can't overlook his inspiration and the aspiration to return to what he loves doing to prove himself right, I also can't be alone in saying that I covered my eyes whenever someone came near him on the field. We all knew he was one injury away from never walking again.
That being said, Smith is an intelligent football player, is relatable, and has the knowledge to go into a new field -- coaching, perhaps? The Jacksonville Jaguars would be a top spot for that to occur, with Urban Meyer running the show over there.
You can see Smith's full announcement, which was posted on Instagram, here.
small story: bengals unveil new uniforms
If you're into this sort of thing (I am not) the Cincinnati Bengals unveiled their new uniforms today. Honestly they don't look that different to me, but if I had to pick one, I'm going with those all-whites. Clean.
tweet of the day:
big story: Sponsors dropping Deshaun Watson left and right
After a damning press conference where a statement was read by the first accuser, sponsors are dropping Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
Nike announced earlier today they were suspending all endorsements with Watson and Beats By Dre was next, completely dropping him from campaigns. Reliant Energy, the company behind the naming rights to the Texans' stadium, NRG Energy also cut ties with Watson, saying they will no longer partner with him as an ambassador.
The dominoes are falling, and things like this are likely to continue. Reminder that Watson is innocent until proven guilty. Also reminder that women should be believed when it comes to reporting sexual assault. This situation is disturbing in every facet and there is no real winner in a situation.
small story: draft prospects to attend draft in-person
With things slowly getting back to our "new normal," the 2021 NFL Draft will be holding festivities in Cleveland this year. And that includes inviting prospects to the draft itself. While some have turned down the invite, most notably presumed first pick Trevor Lawrence, a good handful of those top guys are expected to attend.
tweet of the day
That's right y'all. Gettin vaxxed baby.
big story: panthers trade for sam darnold
Another blockbuster trade falls for the 2021 NFL offseason. The Carolina Panthers are trading for current New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. The Jets are picking second in this year's draft and are pretty much guaranteed to take a quarterback. With many questions surrounding the fate of Darnold -- including a situation where they would keep both him and the rookie -- this one is answered, at least for now.
I had thought the Panthers were pretty much a lock for Deshaun Watson, but that situation is up in the air right now. Last year's starter Teddy Bridgewater remains on the roster, and while he wasn't god awful, the Panthers knew they needed an upgrade. Darnold has the perfect opportunity to revive his career with a new coaching staff (and one that knows what they're doing) in a new place.
The Jets are getting a sixth-rounder in 2021 and a second and fourth-rounder in 2022 in return for Darnold.
small story: Aaron Rodgers to host his first night of jeopardy!
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is fulfilling a lifelong dream and hosting one of his favorite shows, Jeopardy! starting today (Monday). His stint will last the next two weeks. I'm sure he'll do well; this is totally his style.
While I was about 95% positive at various points throughout the 2020 season, Rodgers was on his way to retirement, the question is still coming up with this new project. Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show earlier today that he would love to take the permanent hosting job.. so does that mean he'll retire from football if it's offered to him?
tweet of the day
The Panthers' social media team is undefeated.
big story - Ja'marr chase and kyle pitts shine on pro day
Players are continuing to impress at their Pro Days -- yesterday it was Mac Jones and Justin Fields, today it's Ja'Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts.
LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is due to become the first at his position to be taken in this year's NFL Draft, and he helped his cause with a 4.38-second 40 time and a 41-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. Chase is a player that can pretty much fit onto any of the 32 NFL teams currently, but a team towards the beginning of the draft should snatch him up quickly. A reunion with college teammate Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, perhaps?
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts looks to be holding onto the reins when it comes to his position, also impressing at his Pro Bowl today, showing off incredible speed for someone who is 6'5'' and 245 pounds. Again, I feel extremely un-athletic. Pitts clocked in at 4.44 seconds for his 40-yard dash.
small story - offseason program to begin virtually
2020's offseason was entirely remote for the first time, and 2021's offseason was up in the air for a while as the country continues to throw its hands up and wonder when this pandemic will be over. NFL's offseason programs are expected to begin like last season - virtually. However, the league does not expect offseason work to remain remote all offseason. Meaning we should expect teams back in-person sooner rather than later.
Teams are also said to be relaxing protocols for those players and team staff who have been fully vaccinated.
tweet of the day
big story - the nfl officially expands to a 17-game season
Where were you, what were you doing when the NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games? It was rumored for a while, but today it was made official when owners voted to extend the season by one (1) game. I am someone who hates odd numbers, so this is hard for me to deal with. I also subscribe to the ideology of "if it's not broken, don't fix it."
The one thing that is being fixed is the reduced number of preseason games that we all pretend to like just because we've been starved without football for so long but end up borderline falling asleep by halftime. The preseason schedule will drop from four games to three, meaning rookies and "bubble players" (those who need to prove they can make the team/position competitions) will still get a chance for in-game action.
The home team will switch off by conference each year; this year, the AFC will host; next year, it will be the NFC. International games are also affected -- teams will be required to play one international game (at least, hi Jaguars) every eight years.
This years' games are as follows:
Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens
Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns
San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Washington Football Team @ Buffalo Bills
New York Giants @ Miami Dolphins
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Jets (Joe Flacco revenge game!!)
Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Chicago Bears @ Las Vegas Raiders
Minnesota Vikings @ Los Angeles Chargers
Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos
New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts
Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans
Also, teams can no longer go 8-8. Somewhere, Jeff Fisher weeps.
small story - justin fields and mac jones impress at their pro days
Two big Pro Days were held today: Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Both impressed those in attendance and those watching from home.
Fields ran a crisp 4.43 40, with a stumble. This made me feel very un-athletic.
Fields told everyone to keep an eye on his last throw, and for good reason. SHOW OFF
tweet of the day - bruce arians' ink
One of the top free agents is off the market. Offensive lineman Trent Williams signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers, early on Wednesday morning (very early), making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. The deal sits at six years, $138.06 million with $55.1 million guaranteed AND a $30.1 million signing bonus.
Williams came to the Niners from the Washington Football Team via trade last season, reuniting him with Kyle Shanahan, his former offensive coordinator. He went on to start 14 games. San Francisco plans to keep him as their left tackle for a long time based on this deal. Williams also discussed deals with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears before deciding to stay with the 49ers.
Williams sat out the 2019 season amid drama with Washington, and returned to Pro Bowl-form with his new team, prompting the signing. Williams has eight Pro Bowls under his belt, the most for any offensive lineman since 2012.
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