Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert warms up before the start of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Draft grades

OK, I love the draft. You know this.

And while we draftophiles enjoy few things more than the immediacy of next-day draft reviews, those are more guesses than grades.

But, after a full season, and with the help of the next-gen stat folks at ProFootball Focus — who picked their all-rookie team this week — we can reshape those recaps with some clarity.

With that, here are the five winners and three losers from the 2020 NFL draft with a year of evidence.


Chargers — You can make an argument that a) the Chargers job is the most attractive opening out there and b) that argument is based on what in retrospect will be viewed as the best pick of the 2020 draft. The Chargers got record-setting rookie QB Justin Herbert at 6 overall, and more noteworthy he was the third QB off the board. And not unlike Josh Allen a few years ago, he looks like he'll be the best of his draft bunch, order be danged. Side question: If the Bengals had it to do over again, and Burrow was good before getting hurt, does Cincinnati take Herbert over Burrow? And as great as Chase Young was this season, the pains in Washington start in politics but the next point is the Football Team's QB situation. Add in second first-rounder Kenneth Murray, the former Oklahoma linebacker who tied for the top spot in tackles for a rookie, and the first day served the Chargers mighty well.

Minnesota — Want to talk about a reorder, did you know that former LSU WR receiver and rookie record-setter Justin Jefferson was the fifth receiver picked in round one. And especially painful was the Eagles decision to take Jalen Reagor one spot ahead of Jefferson, who fashioned the arguably the best rookie WR season ever. And that's not even getting into the starting cornerback tandem the Vikings landed in Cameron Danzler and Jeff Gladney

Carolina — The fundamental draft plan always should be a star on Day 1, starters on Day 2 and hope for diamonds on Day 3. Well, the Panthers delivered big-time with their first two selections in 2020, with game-changing defensive tackle Derrick Brown and big-play safety Jeremy Chinn. 

Washington — Yes, we can all wonder what the future would hold with Herbert as the passer rather than Chase Young rushing the passer, but there is no denying the upside and elite ceiling of Young. Dude was a highlight waiting to happen and emerged as the best defensive lineman on arguably the best defensive line in the league. The Football Team added an RB1 in round three with Antonio Gibson, who was a dude when he was healthy, but the reason Washington made this list is the lottery tickets they found in their last three picks — linebacker Khaleke Hudson, safety Kamren Curl and end James Smith-Williams, who played in 16, 16 and 14 regular-season games respectively. Curl was a PFF first-team all-rookie selection.  

Tampa Bay — Yes, the big conversation of the offseason involved the Bucs and some journeyman, veteran QB. But the Bucs crushed their first two picks, getting pick-and-place right tackle Tristan Wirfs in round one and all-rookie safety Antoine Winfield in round two.


Philadelphia — Speaking of the Eagles' terrible decision about Reagor, peep these numbers: Jefferson had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven TDs; Reagor went 31-396-1. Reagor's season was an above-average month for Jefferson. And to make matters worse, the next two WRs after Reagor were Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins, each of whom caught at least 60 passes and scored at least six total TDs in their first seasons.

Green Bay — We said it then and we can say it again, in terms of addressing needs for 2020, the Packers whiffed on the draft. Maybe QB Jordan Love and RB AJ Dillon will be dudes down the stretch, but considering the names and the games of the guys picked after the Packers moved up to take Love, well, it's a shame. The Pack's Super Bowl window is here, and imagine the needs of this team — the glaring hole has been at inside linebacker — being filled with all-rookie star Patrick Queen, who went to Baltimore two picks after Green Bay selected Love to hold Aaron Rodgers' clipboard. 

Miami — The Dolphins had three first round picks and took Tua Taovailoa (who may be a franchise QB but will certainly be graded against Justin Herbert, who the Chargers took right after him), tackle Austin Jackson, who struggled, and corner Noah Igbinoghene, who was mainly a special teams contributor.


Playoff pressure

The conversation about which quarterback faces the most pressure heading into these NFL playoffs intrigues me.

Because there's more than a little to go around.

There is the pressure of expectation. Ask the superstar trigger dudes of the 1 seeds in Mahomes and Rodgers.

There is the pressure of unfulfilled postseason performances. Ask Lamar Jackson, who flopped last year as the 1 seed, or lofty draft picks Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen or Mitchell Trubisky.

And there is the pressure of time, which applies to a collection of big names and bigger résumés.

Be it former champs Brady, Big Ben or Russell Wilson. Be it for a final moment in the sun for Philip Rivers. 

And that leads us to a difficult debate about whose all-time profile needs a second Super Bowl more, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees?

Rodgers is the odds-on pick to be the MVP, and he likely has another year or two with a title-contending window. Side note: How about this stat: Rodgers has more TD passes (48) than the Packers had punts (45) this season. That has happened twice in the history of the NFL — Tom Brady in 2007 and Patrick Mahomes in 2018.

In New Orleans, Brees is no worse than No. 2 in most every meaningful career passing statistic.

Each has one title. A second ring would fault either onto the Rushmore of all-time NFL quarterbacks.


Senate sorrow

Well, that's a wrap. Bring on the Socialism I suppose.

It looks like the Democrats are going to win both Georgia senate seats.

(Side question: After all the racism allegations that were lobbed in every direction by every Democrat with a microphone after Stacy Abrams lost the Georgia race for governor, since Raphael Warnock won and became the first Black senator in the Peach State's history, does that mean Georgia has no more racism? Cool. That's great news. That said, since Abrams and Kelly Loeffler both lost to guys, we may need to look into the sexism that is rampant in Georgia these days.) 

(Side note on the side question: Relax my friends on the left, that's completely tongue in cheek. But the genesis of that is the bull(bleep) allegations about the racism claims to be the reason that Abrams lost, don't you think? It also is a fallacy of blame politics and hinging everything that does not work out your way on race.)  

A lot of Republicans think this will be one of the final tarnishes that Donald Trump has left on what used to be known as the Republican Party, because the theories go that Trump backlash motivated the other side to historic levels. 

Hey, if we're going to toss out conspiracy theories and since we all know that Trump at one time in his life was a Democrat, is this some sort of blended Trading Places meets the Manchurian Candidate meets Bulworth plot to overthrow the GOP?

All of the numbers were pointing to a Democrat sweep and the people have spoken.

Am I worried about a Blue White House and a Blue Congress? You bet, because we as a nation can't afford so many of the plans, handouts and crack-pot student loan bailouts those that have been newly elected are itching to enact.

But I am still hopeful and want all of those elected to succeed for the American people.   


This and that

— Urban Meyer to Jacksonville is a rumor building steam. Thoughts?

— Did you see the story that Dan Mullen may be heading to the NFL? Interesting stuff, and count me among the folks who believe Mullen has a keen offensive mind but I'm not sure his schtick would play with the pros. He could very easily be Bobby Petrino 2.0, blond volleyball players not included, don't you think?

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on more defections from Knoxville, with one player headed to the draft and another headed to the transfer portal. The silence from Knoxville right now is eerie, don't you think. There are assistant openings. There are players scampering away in all directions. There has been next-to-no chatter or news about recruiting. And nothing new on the reports that the NCAA and the school are investigating the football program. It's strange, no? 

— You know the rules. Here's Weeds on college hoops and sharing that among his basketball coaching skills, apparently UTC boss Lamont Paris makes a mean mac-and-cheese.

— Speaking of the transfer portal, here's a running list of players who have entered and are looking around.  

— Loved this story from TFP business ace Mary Fortune, who shared that Southern Spear Ironworks is working with Howard School to form an apprentice program that includes welding. Regardless of school, sex or skin color, I love this idea for a multitude of reasons, not the least is that the narrative of 'everyone must go to college' is neither feasible or factual. And the avenue to educate and train our young people in industries that are hiring, skills that are needed and jobs that pay good wages is a great start.

— Corona, part I. Wow, the Cleveland Browns supports have waited and waded through all forms of fan torture for this season and a playoff return. Well, it happened with next-to-no fans in the stands. Now comes word that the roster is being rocked by COVID, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, who deserves a lion's share of the credit for redirecting Baker Mayfield.

— Corona, part II. Elsewhere in Ohio, the Buckeyes are bemoaning a small outbreak of COVID and the questions have emerged about whether Monday's title game will be postponed a week. All bigwigs have said as of now Monday's kick between Alabama and THE Ohio State is still on schedule. It also opened the door for Nick Saban's daughter to take to Twitter and step right in it. "If you're not confident to play then SAY IT. I call BS on the COVID cases. They're just worried about their QB and want him to have more time to heal. If he's hurt, put in your. Backup. You didn't see us postpone the rest of the season to wait for Waddle. BYE." She apologized profusely and deleted her Twitter account. Can you imagine the phone call between daddy and daughter after that one?

— Speaking of the title game, I told you to get on the Tide around 7 as soon as possible, right? Well, COVID is no joke of course, and neither is the news that Jaylen Waddle has been cleared to practice.


Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts with a hat tip to Fat Vader.

FV started an interesting line of chatter yesterday, which forces me to ask, which fruit at its apex in terms of juiciness and ripeness is the GOAT. I will start with the perfect peach.

Which QB has the most pressure in this postseason?

Which QB has the better career, Brees or Rodgers? Which QB is better, Brees or Rodgers?

Which parent-child conversation was more emotional, the Sabans or the call from Eric to Don telling him that Pence is not going to pull the electoral votes?

As for today, Jan. 6, well, Wheel of Fortune debuted on this day in 1975.

Rushmore of game show females. Go, and yes Vanna is a no-doubter.