Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I had to take yesterday off so that I could sit in a dark room and cry while the Rams held their Super Bowl parade, so thank you to Cody Benjamin for jumping in and covering for me as he always does on Wednesdays. Speaking of the parade, even though I was in a dark room, I still watched it and we’ll be going over every major thing that happened at the Rams’ big event in today’s newsletter.
Besides the parade, we’ll also be taking a look at who the Rams could face in the NFL opener next season. Plus, all of our draft experts got together to give the Bengals some advice on how they can improve the team this offseason. (Personal request from me: PLEASE ADD SOME OFFENSIVE LINEMEN.)
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. Alright, let’s get to the rundown.
1. Today’s show: 2022 NFL Draft needs for two Super Bowl teams
Between now and April, you’re probably going to notice that we’re going to be spending a lot of time here talking about the NFL Draft, and we officially kickstarted that with Thursday’s episode of the Pick Six Podcast. Instead of getting Will Brinson in the host’s chair, you get Ryan Wilson!
Our senior NFL Draft analyst took over and he brought on our other draft experts — Josh Edwards and Chris Trapasso — to talk about what the Bengals and Rams should do in this year’s draft.
The three had a conversation about how much cap space and how many draft picks the Bengals should devote to upgrade their offensive line and here’s what they had to say:
- Edwards: “I would try to sign Terron Armstead, I would try to get Ryan Jensen. That ‘Christmas Vacation’ scene where they kidnap the boss? That’s what I would be doing with both of those guys. Fixing the line has to be the priority. If I have to see another season with Joe Burrow lying in the ground in agony. … They have to do everything in their power to upgrade their offensive line. They have to use a lot of money free agency and I would also use my first-round pick assuming there’s a quality player on the board there. That has to be their absolute priority this offseason.”
- Trapasso: “I would sign Brandon Scherff. I’d go one big name free agent (on the offensive line), maybe a couple of third-wave types up front and then either the first- or second-round pick at tackle or at offensive guard, center, it doesn’t matter. At least two instant starters that you believe are going to be high-caliber starters at the beginning of the season.” (Trapasso mentioned Zion Johnson of Boston College as a guy that Bengals should look at in the draft)
As for Wilson, he has the Bengals using the 31st overall pick in Central Michigan tackle Bernhard Raimann. (You can see Wilson’s entire first-round mock draft for every team by clicking here)
2. Rams’ Super Bowl parade gets wild
It wasn’t the biggest Super Bowl parade ever, but things did get pretty wild in Los Angeles on Wednesday as the Rams celebrated their second Super Bowl win in franchise history. (It was their first Super Bowl win ever while playing in L.A. since the first Super Bowl win came in St. Louis.)
Here’s a look at what went down during the parade:
- Sean McVay wants to run it back. For the past 48 hours, there’s been some speculation that McVay was thinking about retiring, but after watching the parade, I no longer think that’s the case. For one, McVay spent half the parade telling Aaron Donald that the Rams need to “run it back” and repeat as champs. Based on Donald’s reaction, he definitely seemed open to the idea. As for McVay, his fiancee wrote on Instagram that he is NOT retiring, so it’s probably safe to assume that he’ll be back in 2022.
- Rams GM wears hilarious shirt. The Rams haven’t had a first-round draft pick since 2016 and that’s because Les Snead has been trading them all away. At first, there was some question about whether that strategy would work, but it clearly did since the Rams won the Super Bowl. Snead celebrated that fact by wearing a shirt to the parade that said “F— them picks,” except there were no hyphens on his shirt. If you want to see what his NSFW shirt looks like, then be sure to click here.
- Hollywood sign undergoes change. The Hollywood sign underwent a major change just before the parade. If you drove by it Wednesday, you may have noticed that it said “RAMS HOUSE” instead of Hollywood. That was probably pretty confusing for any foreign tourists who had no idea that a Super Bowl parade was taking place. You can see a picture of the sign by clicking here.
- Matthew Stafford gives drunken speech, gets some advice from Tom Brady. The Rams QB definitely had a good time at the parade, and he capped things off by giving a speech where it was pretty easy to tell that he had been drinking. (You can see the speech by clicking here.) After seeing a video of Stafford at the parade, Tom Brady had some pretty simple advice: “Mix in a water Matt…trust me.”
- Van Jefferson’s wife shows up at parade. Just three days after giving birth, Van Jefferson’s wife was somehow able to make it to the parade. Samaria Jefferson had to leave the Super Bowl early Sunday after going into labor, but she made it to the parade and you can see a parade photo of the couple by clicking here.
- Photographer suffers major injuries. A photographer who was shooting the parade fell off the main stage at some point, and it turns out she suffered a fractured spine. (You can see the tumble, which she shared on Twitter, by clicking here.) A GoFundMe has been set up and you can check out those details here.
The Bengals also held a celebration Wednesday, and to be honest, you can’t blame them. I mean, the team made its first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years. Thousands of fans showed up for the celebration and you can see some of the video by clicking here and here.
3. Who will Rams host in 2022 NFL opener?
One of the perks of winning the Super Bowl is that the winning team gets to host the opening game of the following season. In this case, that means the NFL’s kickoff game for 2022 will be played at SoFi Stadium in L.A.
With that in mind, our Tyler Sullivan took a look at the Rams’ home schedule for next season and ranked which games would make the most sense for the opener.
I think the top-two games on this list make the most sense. The one thing about the kickoff game is that the NFL almost never schedules a cross-conference game, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the Rams host an AFC team. (Since 2009, there’s only been one cross-conference game and that was a Super Bowl rematch between the Panthers and Broncos in 2016.) However, if the NFL does go with a cross-conference game, it wouldn’t be crazy to see them go with the Chargers. Sure, it would be a home game for the Chargers, but it would give the league a chance to showcase Los Angeles on the national stage.
When the Rams do host the game, it will mark the first time that three straight standalone games have been played at the same stadium. After hosting the NFC title game and the Super Bowl, SoFi will be getting another standalone game in the opener.
To check out Sullivan’s explanation for his rankings, be sure to click here.
4. Five teams that could take step back in 2022
One of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season — and not in a good way — was the downfall of the Seahawks. After a 12-4 season in 2020 that saw them finish in first in the NFC West, the Seahawks crumbled in 2021, going just 7-10.
Every year, there are multiple teams that fall off a cliff after a somewhat successful season, and our Jeff Kerr recently tried to pinpoint which teams might take a tumble in 2022. Here are five teams that finished with a winning record in 2021 that Jeff thinks will take a step back in 2022:
The Colts play in the easiest division in football, so I don’t think they’ll take a huge step back next year, especially if they make an upgrade at quarterback. I also think the Raiders could get to 10 wins again with Josh McDaniels coaching Derek Carr. However, I definitely agree with Kerr on the other three teams. To see his full explanation for why each team made the list, be sure to click here.
5. Carson Wentz landing spots
After just one season, it seems that the Colts might already be thinking about possibly moving on from Carson Wentz. There have been multiple reports over the past few days suggesting that the Colts could end up cutting or trading their quarterback, although it seems that a final decision has yet to be made.
Since Wentz could be on the move in 2022, our Cody Benjamin decided to rank the top-landing spots for the beleaguered quarterback, who cost the Colts a chance at the playoffs with a horrible Week 18 game in a loss to the Jaguars.
Here’s a look at where Wentz could end up:
- Broncos: “Aaron Rodgers is the dream, but a far-fetched one, considering his improved relationship with the Packers. Unless it’s Russell Wilson (also unlikely) or Deshaun Watson (who has a big off-field asterisk), would they rather pay for Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s maybe slightly safer than Teddy Bridgewater? With plenty of cap space, they could afford to pair Wentz with a rookie and give themselves multiple options after 2022.”
- Buccaneers: “They’d much prefer a safer, superstar fix after Tom Brady’s (temporary?) retirement, so Rodgers, Wilson and Watson will all get looks. Garoppolo and Jameis Winston might, too. But Bruce Arians has talked highly of Wentz before, and like all the other teams here, they’d have the flexibility of totally resetting in 2023 anyway.”
- Commanders: “They need a QB, they’ve never been afraid of veteran swings, and yet Ron Rivera needs something more than another free-agent flyer.”
- Steelers: “While a Rodgers trade would be sweet for both parties, they feel far more likely to go with a soft rebuild at QB as Mike Tomlin wades into post-Ben Roethlisberger waters. Wentz offers some traits of a younger Ben, and his arrival wouldn’t preclude them from drafting a QB.”
Cody also listed a few other teams that could make sense and you can check those out by clicking here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Cowboys settle voyeurism claim
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.
- Cowboys settle voyeurism claim. The Cowboys reportedly paid out $2.4 million to a group of cheerleaders after a voyeurism complaint was lodged against the team’s former head of PR, Rich Dalrymple. For all the details on this situation, be sure to click here.
- Saints offensive coordinator staying in New Orleans. After the Saints hired Dennis Allen as their new head coach, it wasn’t clear if offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael would be staying on board. However, that appears to be the case with the Saints reportedly sticking with Carmichael, who has coached with Allen since 2015.
- Dolphins to hire Darrell Bevell as QB coach. Mike McDaniel is loading up his coaching staff with some heavy-hitting veterans. To fill the job of QB coach, McDaniel is turning to former Seahawks and Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
- Hall of Famer thinks Aaron Rodgers will play for Broncos in 2022. Former Broncos running back Terrell Davis firmly believes that Aaron Rodgers will be playing for the Broncos in 2022. “I’ve heard from too many insiders, too many sources,” Davis said on Fanduel’s More Ways To Win show. “It makes too much sense for us (Broncos) not to get Aaron Rodgers. That’s the talk of Denver.” If Rodgers ends up in Denver, I guess we can credit Davis for breaking the story.
- NFL hires Loretta Lynch to defend Flores lawsuit. The league is bringing in a heavy-hitter to defend itself from the accusations made by Brian Flores. According to Bloomberg, the league has hired former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch. This is a major lawsuit, so it makes sense that the NFL would bring in a well known lawyer to defend the league.
- USFL Championship will be played in Canton, Ohio. The USFL will be playing all of its regular season games in Birmingham, Alabama, but for the playoffs, the league will be making a move to Ohio. The USFL announced Wednesday that all three playoff games this year will be played in Canton, just a few blocks away from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.