News & Analysis

NFL Week 14 Mailbag: The Eagles take a QB in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, BYU's Zach Wilson as QB2 and more

Nov 15, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) reacts after a play during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s my favorite time of the week again. While we have a disappointing slate of college football games this weekend, it’s almost a nice break before the madness of conference championships, playoff pushes and college football playoffs, and then the NFL playoffs begin. Let’s get to those questions.

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I think the biggest takeaway from guys such as Justin Jefferson, Justin Herbert and Cam Akers is not that coaches are trying to develop them on the bench but rather that there’s so much more that goes into playing time than simply talent.

Coaches have an extremely low tolerance for any sort of mental mistakes or lack of attention to detail. With such an abbreviated offseason, my guess is all three of those guys were simply not quite settled in enough to let their talent shine through at the start of the year.

Truthfully, it was already time. Realistically, that was never going to happen with a general manager and head coach needing to win ASAP to save their jobs.

It’s not time because Matthew Stafford is declining, though. It’s time because Stafford is decidedly an average quarterback. With a talented group of receivers and a solid offensive line, Stafford has only been able to muster the league’s 19th-best scoring offense in terms of points per game. He currently ranks 16th among starting quarterbacks in PFF passing grade.

Sure, you could hope to build the perfect roster around him and catch lightning in a bottle. But more often than not, you’re just plain out of luck with a league-average quarterback. With a new GM who can take a shot without fear of repercussion, I see no reason not to take a QB if the team is presented the opportunity next April.

Under this hypothetical, they’d better have seen Jordan Love look like the second coming of Patrick Mahomes in practice to fend off the impending backlash that would come from it. Considering Love is still the third-string quarterback, I don’t see this as ever happening … but I’ll entertain the idea.

Whoever gets Rodgers will have him for seasons aged 38, 39 and 40 with very reasonable cap hits (under $30 million each year) considering the Packers eat the bonus money in the trade. He is, by any measure, a top-three quarterback in the league right now. That level of prowess with those cap hits is worth at least a first-rounder in all three of those seasons.

While it would certainly be a crushing blow, the only way the Jets could push their “tank” another year would be by retaining Adam Gase. They have too much cap space (second-most in the NFL in 2021, according to overthecap.com) and draft capital to feasibly finish dead last again in 2021. With that in mind, you take QB1 on your board and be thankful it’s such a deep quarterback class.

While it’s certainly unfortunate for those hitting free agency, it’s not like the impending dip in the cap is going to eliminate the free-agent market altogether. While it will likely put an end to the “the next man up sets the market” trend, I don’t see free agents taking a year off for two massive reasons:

  1. There’s a real chance this will continue to impact future salary caps
  2. Free agents might get more guaranteed money this year

The second point is because teams are likely going to do everything they can to depress the Year 1 cap hit of their free-agent signings. By giving out more bonus money that spreads evenly over the length of the contract, they can push cap hits of big deals further into the future.

Not so fast, my friend. Zach Wilson as QB2 is gaining serious steam — and with good reason.

Dane Brugler had it as such in his latest mock. Famed quarterback coach Jordan Palmer on the even more famed 2 for 1 Drafts podcast said he’s talked to numerous people he trusts who have Zach Wilson as QB2. I’m of the opinion, at the moment, that you can’t go wrong with either. Where PFF ends up ranking them come draft day…well…we’ll just have to wait and see.

This is one of the more underrated storylines in the 2021 NFL Draft. In all likelihood, the Eagles with be drafting in the top 10. Howie Roseman is no dummy and realizes the value of the quarterback position — it’s why he took Jalen Hurts in the second round despite already having a supposed franchise QB with an impending monster contract. Not only would I not be surprised if the Eagles take a QB with their first-round pick, I think it’s likely at this point.

That obviously hinges on how Hurts looks over the rest of the season, but if he struggles, there’s no way Roseman leaves the quarterback position up to sheer chance that Carson Wentz recaptures his form.

I sincerely hope this isn’t a fantasy football question (but if it is, check out PFF's fantasy football rankings here). And if it’s a real-life question, I sincerely hope it isn’t serious. Amari Cooper, and it’s not close.

I always worry about blazing-fast college receivers with little to no receiving production. The reason being is that the speed advantage they have is far more drastic at the college level than it ever will be in the NFL; therefore, it should be easier to produce.

While everyone will point to Tyreek Hill as someone who disproves that, it should be noted that Hill was a college running back, so he can be excused for not having receiving production.

On the other hand, Schwartz was recruited as a receiver and has been there all three years. While his speed will certainly be a weapon, he is far from a complete receiver. And he’s not even that dynamic after the catch. He’s only broken 10 tackles on 112 career catches. Of those 112 receptions, 62 came behind the line of scrimmage.

This is a pure gadget player who, at the moment, isn’t going to be able to run many routes in an offense besides crossers and pure verticals. For me, that’s a Day 3 player.

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