Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
If you have any plans this weekend, you should go ahead and cancel them and that's because the only thing you should be doing over the next 72 hours is watching the NFL combine. The NFL Network will be airing more combine coverage than you could ever want over the weekend with five hours scheduled for today (3-8 p.m. ET), seven hours scheduled for Saturday (1-8 p.m. ET) and six more hours scheduled for Sunday (1-7 p.m. ET).
We'll also be covering the combine all weekend on CBS Sports HQ and you can check out our live coverage by clicking here. After watching all that combine coverage, you'll probably want to watch something a little less serious and you can do that by watching Travis Kelce host "Saturday Night Live" on NBC tomorrow night.
Unfortunately for me, I might not be able to watch as much of the combine as I would like today because it's my wife's birthday and for some reason, she's not as excited about the combine as I am. I can't believe she's not excited about watching people get their hands measured. Very weird.
Anyway, if you're hanging out with family and/or friends this weekend, you should tell them all to sign up for the newsletter. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them.
1. Today's show: Offseason mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. For today's mailbag, I was joined by Will Brinson, Tyler Sullivan and Katie Mox, and here are two of the questions that we answered.
Q: What do you make of 49ers GM John Lynch contacting Tom Brady about playing for them in 2023?
A: This was a brilliant move by Lynch. This is what you do when a girl you really like breaks up with someone, you send out a feeler. You just send them a quick text to say you're thinking of them. Lynch probably didn't mention the 49ers QB situation, but Brady now knows that Lynch is thinking about him and if Brady thinks about making a return, then I have to think Lynch is going to be one of the first people he contacts. In somewhat related news, if you missed the whole thing with Brady and Lynch, you can catch up on it here.
Q: Why Does Aaron Rodgers find ways to make himself a story every offseason, is it intentional?
A: This is 100% intentional. Look, Rodgers knows where he is on the totem pole of offseason NFL news and he's near the top. I mean, we're talking about a four-time NFL MVP who might be changing teams and if he's doing crazy things like locking himself in a dark room for four days then people are going to talk about it. Rodgers will never admit it, but I think he actually likes being the center of attention, and there's nothing wrong with that. I also like being the center of attention, but I will say, I wouldn't lock myself in a dark room for four days to get that attention.
If you want to hear the rest of the mailbag, you can listen to today's show by clicking here. You can also watch today's show on YouTube here.
If you want to submit a question for the mailbag, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
2. Combine roundup: Defensive linemen steal the show on Thursday night
The most exciting workout to watch at the NFL combine is almost always the 40-yard dash and that was definitely the case on Thursday. It was a wild night and I'm only saying that because defensive LINEMEN somehow stole the show.
Here's a look at how well they ran:
- Nolan Smith shows off blazing speed. It's not often you see a defensive end go under 4.4 in the 40, but that's exactly what Smith did. The former UGA star ran a 4.39, which gave him the second-fastest time of any defensive lineman since 2003. To put into perspective how fast this is, Smith beat out the 40 times for Saquon Barkley (4.4 in 2018) Stefon Diggs (4.46 in 2013) and DeAndre Hopkins (4.57 in 2015). For more on Smith's performance, be sure to head here (He also had the best vertical jump and third-best broad jump in his position group).
- Pitt seems to have cloned Aaron Donald. The Rams star was drafted out of Pitt and the school has produced another athletic freak who's testing just as well as Donald did: Calijah Kancey. The defensive tackle ran a 4.67 40 on Thursday, which was the fastest 40 by any defensive tackle since 2003 (That's as far as records go back). Kancey also has the second-fastest 40 ever for a player who weighs 280 pounds or more. His 4.67 time was nearly identical to Donald, who ran a 4.68 in 2014 (You can check out video of Kancey's 40 here).
- Get to know the name Adetomiwa Adebawore. We just told you that Kancey had the second-fastest 40 ever for a player who weighs more than 280 pounds. He actually held the record at one point yesterday, but it was soon broken by Adebawore, who ran a 4.49. Not only did the Northwestern defensive end show off his speed, but he also showed off his hops by registering a 37.5-inch vertical, which was the third-best among all EDGE players this year.
- Flu game. According to NFL.com, Iowa State's Will McDonald IV was battling a 104-degree temperature as recently as Tuesday, but he didn't want to miss any testing, so he was out there on Thursday and he still put up some impressive numbers, despite being sick. McDonald's most impressive showing came in the broad jump where his 11-foot leap ended up tying Tennessee's Byron Young for the best jump among all defensive linemen and linebackers this year.
If you want to know who else had an impressive performance last night, be sure to click here so you can check out our combine tracker.
If you're wondering which players helped themselves the most and which players hurt their draft stock, be sure to click here to check out our winners and losers from Thursday's action on the combine.
3. Quarterbacks now taking center stage at combine
When it comes to the NFL combine, the position group that draws the most headlines every year is almost always the quarterbacks and that will likely once again be the case this year. The quarterback class will be on full display from Friday thru Sunday.
Although the quarterback class won't be working out until Saturday, they did speak with the media today and they definitely had some interesting things to say.
- Bryce Young not worried about his size. The Alabama QB is under 6-feet tall and there's a chance that his official weight might come in at under 200 pounds, but despite his diminutive stature, he's still confident that he can be successful in the NFL. "I've been this size, respectfully, my whole life," Young said from the NFL combine, via ESPN. "I know who I am, I know what I can do. For me, it's fair, everyone can speculate, ask me every question. I'm going to continue to control what I can control, continue to keep working my hardest. ... I'm confident in myself. I know what I can do." If Young does weigh less than 200 pounds, he'd have a chance to become the first QB since 1982 (Jim McMahon) to get drafted in the first round despite weighing under 200.
- C.J. Stroud doesn't want to play for the Bears. The Bears aren't necessarily looking for a QB, but if they decide to draft one, Stroud does NOT want be the QB they take. Stroud made it clear that he believes the Bears are Justin Fields' team. "I mean, nah, I don't want to go there," Stroud said, via PFT. "That's his team. I can do my thing. I can go build my legacy. He texted me yesterday morning. Me and him are brothers for life." Stroud is close with Fields after spending the 2020 season backing him up at Ohio State.
- Anthony Richardson not lacking confidence. The Florida QB probably has the most to gain at the combine. He's a first-round prospect, who could go in the top five with a solid showing at the combine. If one thing became clear on Friday, it's that he's not lacking confidence. Richardson was asked to compare his game to some other NFL quarterbacks and he picked two former MVPs. "I started calling myself Cam Jackson in the 11th grade," Richardson said, via The Athletic. "Just trying to make big plays, just like Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson." Richardson also added that he wants to be one of the best to ever play. "I want to be a legend," the QB said, via TennesseeTitans.com. "I want to be like Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. I want to be one of the greats"
After completing their interviews today, the quarterback class will get measured tomorrow, which is when we'll officially know Bryce Young's height and weight.
4. Ravens' offseason drama continues: GM gets called out by receiver
The Ravens were already dealing with a lot of drama this offseason due to their contract negotiations with Lamar Jackson, and now, things might have actually gotten worse. Over the past 24 hours, things have gotten even uglier in Baltimore following a comment made by general manager Eric DeCosta.
Here are the details you need to know about the situation:
- How the drama started. DeCosta was being interviewed at the combine on Wednesday when he was asked why the Ravens have had so much trouble evaluating receivers in the draft. "If I had an answer, that would probably mean I would have some better receivers," DeCosta said, via ESPN.com. Yikes. Although DeCosta probably didn't mean to throw his receivers under the bus, that's how it came across to most people, including Rashod Bateman.
- Rashod Bateman not happy with the comment. Bateman, who was the Ravens' first-round pick in 2021, immediately fired back at DeCosta in a since-deleted tweet. "How bout you play to your player's strength and & stop pointing the finger at us and [Lamar Jackson] ...blame the one you let do this.... we take heat 24/7," Bateman wrote. Bateman got some immediate support from former Ravens receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who wrote on Twitter that the Ravens need to "Let him cook."
- Both DeCosta and Bateman are right. This is kind of a chicken-and-egg situation. DeCosta has drafted a total of five receivers in the first four rounds since taking over as GM in 2019. Although those receivers haven't really panned out, it's hard to pin all the blame on them. Under Greg Roman, the Ravens' offense was a run-heavy attack that most receivers hated playing in (That's why Hollywood Brown wanted out). That run-heavy attack led to the Ravens to finish with the NFL's worst passing offense in two of the past three years. The Ravens could definitely use more talent at receiver, but they might want to throw the ball a little bit more to see what they already have in the guys who are currently on the roster.
- Bateman opened another can of worms. In his tweet, Bateman also mentioned that the Ravens need to "keep us healthy." Bateman has missed 16 games over two seasons and he seemed to be blaming both the Ravens' training staff and their strength staff. This is clearly a sensitive topic because several former Ravens player backed Bateman up by pointing out that the Ravens don't do a good job of taking care of injured players. Bateman got support from Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon, 2015 third-round pick Carl Davis, Quincy Adeboyejo and retired star Derek Wolfe. In the player's survey that was released this week, the Ravens strength coaching staff was given an "F-," which was the lowest grade of any strength staff in the NFL.
With multiple players coming to his defense on both topics, it's pretty clear that Bateman's complaints are well-founded. Although he eventually deleted his tweet and apologized, it's pretty clear that there's drama going on in Baltimore and it will be interesting to see where things go from here.
5. NFC West offseason team needs
Since the middle of last week, we've been covering the offseason needs for each NFL team by going through every division, and I have some wild news: We've finally reached the end. Today, we're down to our final division and that division is the NFC West.
Garrett Podell went through every team in the division and made a list of their biggest needs that they should be looking to fill this offseason and let's just say that this division has a lot of needs.
All right, let's check out the needs for each team:
Team needs: OG, C, EDGE, CB, LB, RB, OT
Cap space: $13.7 million
Garrett's outlook: "With a a new general manager and a new head coach in place, that usually means a team is in rebuilding mode, but not the Arizona Cardinals. Their approach appears to be aiming to win now. With that win-now approach in mind, the Cardinals pursuing a top-flight CB1 in addition to ideally retaining Byron Murphy to bolster what was the 24th-ranked passing defense makes sense. Offensively, the only key needs are on the line and at the backup quarterback spot, but those are both very big needs."
Team needs: OG, TE, EDGE, CB, DT, QB
Cap space: -$14.9 million (Yes, that's a negative sign)
Garrett's outlook: "The good news for the Super Bowl champions of yesteryear is they still have Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford back in the fold after there were retirement questions floating around both of them. The Rams also can't possibly have any worse injury luck than they did in 2022 with Stafford missing eight games (neck), Cooper Kupp missing eight games (ankle), Aaron Donald missing six games (ankle) and the majority of their offensive line missing significant amounts of time. An average amount of injury luck could result in the 2023 Rams looking more like the teams McVay is used to, ones that regularly win at least 10 games and reach the postseason."
Team needs: C, S, LB, DT, WR, OG
Cap space: $31 million
Garrett's outlook: "Having the fifth and the 20th overall pick will allow he Seahawks to bank on being able to acquire two instant-impact players on the cheap. Their treasure trove of picks and the extra cap space that comes with it will likely go toward helping to pay the significant extension that Geno Smith is expected to get."
Team needs: C, OG, S, DT, WR
Cap space: $8.1 million
Garrett's outlook: "The good news for the 49ers this offseason is that they don't have too many gaping holes to address. Most of their offseason moves will likely be internal: deciding who will be their franchise quarterback moving forward between Lance and Purdy, extending 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and figuring out whether or not to extend or trade 24-year-old wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk."
For a full look at each team's needs and who they should go after, be sure to check out Garrett's full story by clicking here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Former Panthers owner dies
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, and that roundup involves a lot of coordinator firings.
- Jerry Richardson dies at age 86. Richardson, who founded the Panthers and owned them for the first 23 years of their existence, died on Wednesday. Carolina reached two Super Bowls and three NFC title games during his time as owner. Richardson eventually decided to sell the team after accusations of inappropriate workplace conduct. For more on his life and his NFL legacy, be sure to head here.
- Daniel Jones apparently wants more than $45 million per year. The Giants haven't been able to work out a long-term contract with Jones and it appears we now know why: His asking price is astronomical. According to a report, Jones is asking for north of $45 million per year. If the Giants don't want to pay that, they can simply hit him with the franchise tag, which will pay him just $32.4 million and I have to think that's what the Giants will do if he doesn't lower his asking price.
- Jaguars to use franchise tag on Evan Engram, cut a defensive starter. Engram had a huge season with the Jaguars last year and it appears he'll be staying in Jacksonville. Engram is expected to he hit with the franchise tag, which would pay him $11.345 million in 2023. To free up some cap space, the Jags are expected to cut CB Shaquill Griffin, according to ESPN.com. That move would free up $13.1 million in salary cap room.
- Alvin Kamara pleads not guilty. Two weeks after being indicted on multiple criminal charges, the Saints running back has responded in court by pleading not guilty to both charges. Kamara is facing charges of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm and conspiracy to commit battery after an incident in Las Vegas where he's accused of beating a man. You can read more about Kamara's legal situation here.
- NFL hit with officiating exodus. The NFL announced on Thursday that longtime referee Jerome Booger is retiring. Booger had been an NFL official since 2004 and was promoted to referee in 2006. The league also announced three other retirements with Jerry Bergman, Walt Coleman IV and Steven Patrick all hanging up their whistles for good. The NFL has now been hit with 10 officiating retirements this offseason, which means the league now needs to find 10 replacements before the start of the 2023 season.