When I woke up with a headache today, I knew it was either a hangover or that something cataclysmic had happened in the world of newsletter writing and it turns out that it was the second one.
If you subscribe to multiple newsletters here at CBSSports.com, then you may be familiar with Pete Blackburn, who handles our CBS Sports HQ AM newsletter. Well, he used to handle it and that's because today was his last day at CBS Sports. It's a sad day for all -- except for people who don't like Pete, I guess it's a good day for them. I will definitely be pouring one out for ol' Pete this weekend. If you want to check out his final newsletter, and I think you should, if only to make him feel better about himself, just click here.
On the other hand, if you don't know who Pete is and you'd like me to stop talking about this person you've never met so you can read some football news, that seems fair, so let's get to the rundown.
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: Friday Mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week by adding a listener mailbag every Friday. 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 think we once spent 10 minutes debating whether almond milk was actually better than oat milk and/or regular milk (the answer is yes). 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, the questions were all over the place. Here's a small sample:
- I was getting whooped in Madden again and it made me think back to better days when they had a rewind feature so you could re-do one terrible play per game, like throwing a pick or giving up a big-play TD. If I could do that for a game in recent memory, the Cowboys are walking out of Green Bay with a win in 2015 because DEZ CAUGHT IT and that team could have beaten Seattle and then New England. Would love to hear one play that you'd change! As a Bengals homer, I can think of roughly 712 plays that I would change over the past decade, but since this is just limited to one, I would change Jeremy Hill's fumble against the Steelers that came with 1:26 to play in the 2015 wild-card game. If that fumble doesn't happen, Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones don't get called for dumb penalties and the Steelers don't win. I'd also think about changing the play in the 2005 wild-card game where Carson Palmer tore his ACL. That was also against the Steelers. Basically, I would change every play the Bengals have ever had against the Steelers.
- If you guys could take one thing about soccer to improve the NFL what would it be and vice versa if you could take one thing from the NFL to improve soccer what would it be? This is a fascinating question that I had to think about for longer than I care to admit. If I could bring one soccer thing to the NFL, it would be relegation. This means the worse teams would get bumped down to a "B" league and the best teams from the "B" league would be bumped up to the NFL. The four worst teams every year would be bumped down, which means if there had been relegation this year, the Jaguars, Jets, Falcons and Texans would have been moved down. The only thing we need for this plan to work is for the NFL to create a minor league. That's not asking too much, right?
To listen to the rest of the questions from today's mailbag -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. The Mock Draft of all Mock Drafts: The Consensus Mock Draft
With less than a week to go until the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off, I'm legally obligated to share at least one new mock draft with you every day until the actual draft starts, and today, we have the best one yet. It's the consensus mock draft.
Our Josh Edwards scoured the internet and compiled 13 mock drafts from multiple different media companies, including ESPN and NFL.com and of course, CBS Sports. Edwards then went full Dr. Frankenstein and cobbled these 13 mock drafts into one consensus mock draft.
Here are the top 15 picks in the consensus mock.
- 1. Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
- 2. Jets: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- 3. 49ers: QB Mac Jones (Alabama)
- 4. Falcons: QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
- 5. Bengals: OL Penei Sewell (Oregon)
- 6. Dolphins: WR Ja'Marr Chase (LSU)
- 7. Patriots (mock trade with Lions): QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
- 8. Panthers: TE Kyle Pitts (Florida)
- 9. Broncos: LB Micah Parsons (Penn State)
- 10. Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II (Alabama)
- 11. Giants: WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
- 12. Eagles: WR DeVonta Smith (Alabama)
- 13. Chargers: OL Rashawn Slater (Northwestern)
- 14. Vikings: EDGE Jaelan Phillips (Miami, Fla.)
- 15. Lions (mock trade with Patriots): CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)
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. Tom Brady hates the NFL's new rule for jersey numbers
It's not often that you'll hear Tom Brady complain about an NFL rule during the middle of the offseason, but that's exactly what he did on Thursday. As we all know, when you get older, not only do you hate change, but you're extra cranky all the time and both of those things definitely apply to Brady for the way he complained about the NFL's new rule for jersey numbers.
After the rule passed, Brady jumped on Instagram to let everyone know that the new rule is going to lead to "bad football."
"Good luck trying to block the right people now," Brady wrote on Instagram. "Going to make for a lot of bad football."
Brady then followed that up with another angry Instagram message.
"Why not let the linemen wear whatever they want too? Why have numbers? Just have colored jerseys... Why not wear the same number... Dumb."
I'm not sure if Brady accidentally ate a spoiled avocado for breakfast yesterday, but that is definitely the crankiest he's ever sounded about anything. That being said, I kind of empathize with Brady. I mean, he's 43 years old and he's now going have to learn a completely new numbering system. The problem with the new system is that Brady -- and other players on the field -- might not know what position a player is playing based on their number alone.
Basically, all of this could create more confusion for an offensive lineman, which could lead to more sacks by the defense, which means Brady could take more hits, and you know what, I think I now understand why he hates the rule. In a twist, the Patriots also voted against the rule, which means Bill Belichick seems to hate it as much as Brady.
4. 2021 NFL Draft best bets
The only thing more exciting than watching the NFL Draft is making money while you're watching the NFL Draft and to help you do that this year, we'll be sharing some best bets in each newsletter between now and the draft.
Today's best bets come from NFL writer Jordan Dajani. After reading through his bets, I've noticed three things: He doesn't think the Bengals are going to take Penei Sewell, he thinks the whole thing about the 49ers drafting Mac Jones is one giant smokescreen and he's going to be a rich man if Jaycee Horn is the first corner taken in the draft.
With that in mind, let's check out Dajani's five best bets:
1. Penei Sewell draft position: Over 5.5 (-190). "Oregon's Sewell is one of the best players in this draft class, but that doesn't mean he will be one of the first players to hear his name called on draft night. We know the first three picks should be quarterbacks, and the Falcons at No. 4 overall are a bit of a mystery right now. As for the Bengals at No. 5 overall, this is definitely a team that needs Sewell. Still, it might be too hard to resist pairing quarterback Joe Burrow with his former LSU teammate in wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase."
2. Micah Parsons draft position: Over 11.5 (-140). "Parsons appears to be one of the best defensive players in this class, but his stock could be falling due to 'character concerns.' Whether or not those concerns are legitimate, just one of our four CBS NFL Draft writers has Parsons going before No. 12 overall."
3. Third overall pick: Justin Fields (+150). "All that noise you have been hearing about Fields' falling draft stock? I think it was just that. Noise. Fields is the better athlete and I also think he's a better fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense."
4. Jaylen Waddle draft position: Under 11.5 (-135). "I know analysts, such as my colleague Ryan Wilson, who believe Waddle could be taken over his teammate and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. I'm not ready to go that far, but I do think a team could select him before No. 12 overall. He's an electric playmaker and will make an immediate impact at the next level."
5. First cornerback drafted: Jaycee Horn (+300). "This one is a bit of a flier, as most mocks have Patrick Surtain II being selected as the first cornerback, but I like the odds. Joe Horn's son was a big-time playmaker at South Carolina, and impressed in man coverage."
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've reached the top five.
With that in mind, here's our list of the top No. 5 overall picks of all time.
1. Deion Sanders (1989, Falcons)
2. Junior Seau (1990, Chargers)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson (2001, Chargers)
4. Mike Haynes (1976, Patriots)
5. Steve Van Buren (1944, Eagles)
If you want to read a deeper explanation on the list, be sure to click here so you can check out Patrik Walker's full story. On the other hand, if you'd like to yell at Walker on Twitter because you disagree with his 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 fifth 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.
- Browns pick up fifth-year options for Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward. It's fifth-year option season, which means you're going to be hearing a lot about the options over the next few days. The fifth-year option only applies to players who were selected in the first round of the 2018 draft; teams have until May 3 to decide if they want to exercise the option. Both Mayfield ($18.58 million) and Denzel Ward ($13.29 million) had their options picked up Friday, which means they're now under contract with the Browns through the 2022 season.
- Broncos admit they're in the market for a QB. Drew Lock definitely doesn't have any job security in Denver. During an interview this week, new Broncos general manager George Paton made it pretty clear that the team will be adding a QB and it could happen in the draft, "I've said since I got here, we want to bring in competition [at quarterback]; that's the goal, and we plan on doing that."
- Seahawks re-sign Geno Smith. Some people didn't even know that Geno Smith was still in the league, but not only is he still playing, he just re-signed with the Seahawks. Smith also spent the 2020 season in Seattle after spending the early part of his career with three different teams (Jets, Giants, Chargers).
- Former Buccaneers player in hospice care. Geno Hayes is only 33 years old, but the former NFL player has been placed in hospice care due to a liver condition. Hayes spent seven seasons in the NFL, which 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.
- Former Bears great battling ALS. Steve McMichael revealed on Friday that he was diagnosed with ALS back in January. "I'm not going to be out in the public any more … you're not going to see me out doing appearances, hell I can't even sign my name any more, and everybody's going to be speculating, 'Where's McMichael, what's wrong with him?" McMichael said, via WGN. "I'm here to tell everyone I've been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, so I'm not going to be a public figure any more." Mongo played for the Bears from 1981 to 1993 and was a starter on the 1985 team that won Super Bowl XX.
7. The Kicker: Bro hugs are returning to the NFL Draft and nearly everyone in Alabama will be getting one
With the 2021 NFL Draft less than one week away, one of the most important questions that had yet to be answered was whether Roger Goodell would be handing out any bro hugs this year. It turns out we now have an answer to that question and the answer is YES.
Apparently, the NFL commissioner has been fully vaccinated, which means we could see him hand out as many as 13 bro hugs during the first round. The reason that number is 13 is because that's how many players will be attending the draft. The NFL released the list of those 13 players on Friday and the one thing I immediately noticed is that nearly half the players on the list attended Alabama.
Not only will Mac Jones be in Cleveland for the draft, but his former teammates DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II and Christian Barmore will also be on-hand. To be honest, the NFL probably should have just invited every player on the Alabama roster along with Nick Saban and maybe even everyone in the entire state. This draft is basically a celebration of the state of Alabama. My wife is from Alabama and this is going to be the argument I use to get her to watch the entire thing.
Oh, and since you might be wondering, the non-Alabama players who will be in Cleveland for the draft are: Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Gregory Rousseau, Ja'Marr Chase, Rashawn Slater, Caleb Farley, Micah Parsons and Kyle Pitts.