Predicting NFL Draft’s biggest surprises, plus why Tom Brady is now set to be a free agent in 2023


Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

If you’re a regular reader around these parts, then you know that Cody Benjamin usually handles things here on Wednesdays, but you’re getting me instead because Cody needed today off to put the finishing touches on his annual NFL Draft party that he always forgets to invite me to. 

Cody only has 24 hours to get things done and that’s because we are now officially just one day away from the start of the 2022 NFL Draft. Since the draft is now just 24 hours away, I’m guessing you already know what we’re going to be covering in today’s newsletter: It’s going to be the NFL Draft, the NFL Draft and more NFL Draft, then we’ll be sneaking in a Tom Brady story before going back to the NFL Draft. 

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: NFL Draft gambling preview
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The only thing better than watching the NFL Draft is WINNING MONEY while watching the NFL Draft and thanks to legalized gambling, most of America will have the opportunity to do that starting on Thursday. Betting on draft props definitely adds some excitement to watching the draft, so for today’s podcast, we thought we would go over some of our favorite draft props. 

For today’s show, Will Brinson was joined by Benjamin Solak of The Ringer and the two of them spent nearly an hour discussing their favorite props. Here are a few that they talked about during the show: 

Malik Willis UNDER 13.5 (+100). Solak thinks we’ll definitely see a quarterback taken in the top half of the first round and of all the quarterbacks in the draft, he thinks Willis has the biggest upside, so the bet here is that Willis gets taken somewhere in the top 13. The 13th pick is interesting because it’s held by the Texans. It’s their second pick of the first round and they’ll likely be willing to trade back with any team that’s looking to trade up for a quarterback, which could pave the way for Willis to be taken in the top 13. Jameson Williams UNDER 11.5 (-130): With multiple teams in the top 11 looking to take a receiver, both Brinson and Solak like the idea of betting the under on this. The Falcons, Jets and Commanders have picks eight, 10 and 11 and it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of them take Williams.  Derek Stingley goes third overall (+200) and Derek Stingley drafted in top five (+150). No one’s stock has shot up higher this week than Stingley’s. Just last week, the former LSU corner was viewed as a borderline top-10 pick, but now, there’s a lot of chatter that he might go third overall to the Texans. Both Brinson and Solak like the odds you get with that bet (+200). If you don’t want to lock yourself into Stingley to the Texans, you can also get +150 odds if you want to just bet that he’ll be a top-five pick. 

Anyway, to listen to the rest of the best bets for the draft, be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.   

2. Predicting the draft’s biggest surprises 

If there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on for this year’s NFL Draft, it’s that no one really seems to know what’s going on. No one seems sure who the top pick is going to be, no one seems to know how many quarterbacks are going to be taken in the first round and no one has any idea how many trades might go down on Thursday. 

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that there is likely going to be a lot of surprises in the draft and to help us figure out what those surprises might be, CBSSports.com’s senior draft analyst Ryan Wilson decided to predict what he thinks will be the five biggest surprises for the first round. Obviously, the irony here is that these surprises will no longer be surprises if Wilson’s predictions pan out. 

With that in mind, let’s check out his top-five biggest surprises:  

Seven wide receivers go in Round 1. There are a lot of teams that could end up taking a receiver in the first round with the Texans, Jets, Falcons, Seahawks, Commanders, Eagles, Saints, Steelers, Patriots, Packers and Chiefs likely all in the market. If seven receivers go in the first-round, it would be the most since 2004. A running back gets selected in the first round. There’s been a running back selected in the first round in each of the past seven drafts, but this year, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. The oddsmakers in Vegas aren’t overly confident, which is probably why they’ve set the over/under for running backs selected in the first round at 0.5. If any back gets taken, it will likely be Breece Hall. No quarterback gets selected in the top 10. This hasn’t happened since 2013, which is notable, because this year’s QB class is probably the weakest one the NFL has seen since then. Taking one of this year’s quarterbacks in the top 10 would definitely be a huge gamble. There’s a run on quarterbacks late in the first round. The upside of drafting a QB in the first-round is that you will have them under contract for five years thanks to the fifth-year option (Any player drafted after the first-round gets a four-year deal). Teams love having QBs playing on their rookie deals, which is why Wilson thinks we’ll see a run of quarterbacks getting selected in the back half of the first round.  Saints trade up, but not for a quarterback. With some very pressing needs at multiple positions — wide receiver and offensive linemen are at the top of the list — Wilson thinks the Saints might surprise us by trading up to grab a player who’s NOT a quarterback. 

If you want to read Wilson’s full story, be sure to click here. 

3. Looking at the needs for all 32 teams heading into the draft

With the NFL Draft just one day away, I decided that now would be a good time to take a look at the draft needs for all 32 teams. If you need to burn some time between now and the start of the NFL Draft, you can make that happen by reading about each team’s needs. 

Right now, we’re going to specifically look at the AFC West. Cody Benjamin took some time out from planning his draft party to go over the needs for each team in the division, so let’s take a look. 

BroncosBiggest needs: TE, DE, LB, CB, OT, RBCody’s take: The only glaring need is at tight end, where Noah Fant was shipped out as part of the package for Russell Wilson. Randy Gregory is in town as pass-rushing help for Bradley Chubb, but they could still use more bodies in the trenches after Shelby Harris’ departure. Linebacker could also use some depth/competition. 

ChiefsBiggest needs: DE, WR, CB, OT, SCody’s take: Tyreek Hill’s abrupt departure also leaves them with big question marks out wide, with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both better suited as No. 2 types. They could also use more long-term options in the secondary.

RaidersBiggest needs: OT, OG, S, DT, WRCody’s take: Derek Carr got paid, and so did his new toys, but Las Vegas could stand to bolster the O-line at multiple spots. Ditto the back end of its secondary. Wide receiver is not a big need with Davante Adams in town as the new No. 1, but Hunter Renfrow could use additional running mates.

ChargersBiggest needs: OT, LB, OG, DT, WR, RBCody’s take: Protecting Justin Herbert is paramount, and they could easily stand to upgrade at guard or right tackle, where Storm Norton started in 2021. With the busy Kyzir White leaving in free agency, the inside LB corps could also use a playmaker to pair with the rest of their upgraded defense.

If you want to check out the biggest needs for each NFC East team, be sure to click here. For the biggest needs in the NFC North, we have those here. For a look at the draft needs for each NFC West team, just click here. And if you want to know how needy each team in the NFC South is looking heading into the draft, be sure to click here. 

As for the AFC, we have the AFC North’s biggest needs right here. You can find the AFC South’s biggest needs by clicking here and finally, you just need to click here if you want to see the AFC East’s biggest draft needs. 

4. Each team’s biggest draft bust
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Although hope springs eternal in the NFL Draft, sometimes that hope blows up in your face and your top pick ends up being a bust. It happens every year and this year will almost certainly be no different: There’s a good chance that at least one player won’t pan out after being selected with a high pick. 

CBSSports.com’s Jeff Kerr loves writing about busts, so he went through ever draft in NFL history to find the biggest bust for each team and we’re going to list five of those big busts below. To make things more fun, I decided to include five draft busts from five different decades.  

Saint: P/K Russell Erxleben (11th overall pick in 1979). “The Saints took a punter — yes a punter — in the first round of the NFL Draft. No wonder New Orleans was the laughing stock of the 1970s, causing their fans to eventually put bags over their heads by the start of the next decade. Erxleben competed for the place-kicking job in his rookie season, and lost, attempting just six field goals in his career.”Colts: Art Schlichter (fourth overall pick in 1982). “Gambling addiction eventually got him released from the Colts in 1985 (he admitted he gambled during his suspension). Schlichter went just 0-6 as a starter, completing 45% of his passes for 1,006 yards with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Colts won just 16 games in his four seasons there.”Bengals: Akili Smith (third overall pick in 1999). “Smith held out of training camp due to a contract dispute and the Bengals gave him just 15 starts before they had enough. Smith completed just 47% of his passes with five touchdowns to 10 interceptions (55.1 rating) in those starts before being benched for good. The Bengals went just 3-12 in Smith’s 15 starts.”Raiders: Jamarcus Russell (first overall pick in 2007). “One of the biggest busts in league history, Russell was a colossal failure in Oakland. Not only did Russell hold out in his rookie season, he batted off-field problems and weight issues. Russell completed just 52.1% of his passes for 4,083 yards with 18 touchdowns to 23 interceptions in three seasons with the Raiders before being run out of the league.”Titans: Isaiah Wilson (29th overall pick in 2020). “How bad does your NFL career have to be to earn bust status less than a year after being drafted? Just ask Wilson, who is already out of the league. Wilson appeared in just one game for the Titans, playing only three offensive snaps.” 

If you want to Kerr’s full list of 32 busts — one for each team — then be sure to click here. 

5. Tom Brady’s new contract will allow him to leave the Buccaneers after the 2022 season

There’s been a lot of speculation suggesting that Tom Brady wanted to leave the Buccaneers this offseason and although that didn’t end up happening, it’s something that could definitely go down after the 2022 season is over. 

The Buccaneers QB signed a restructured deal over the weekend and that deal now guarantees that Brady will be hitting free agency following the upcoming season. Of course he could also retire after 2022, but it’s hard to imagine Brady leaving the game when he’s about to hit free agency for just the second time in his career. 

Here are the details of the deal Brady signed that will soon be giving him freedom (Contract via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe): 

Brady’s contract is worth a maximum of $19.5 million. That’s a cheap price for a starting QB, so the Bucs are getting a deal here. However, the trade off is that Brady will be able to leave the team after 2022. Brady’s cap number is under $15 million. Brady’s guaranteed pay will come in the form of his base salary ($1.12 million) and a guaranteed bonus ($13.88 million). The 44-year-old can also earn up to $4.5 million in incentives. Thanks to his restructured deal, Brady’s cap number is now just $13.771 million. Brady’s deal also includes four voidable years, which will allow the Buccaneers to spread out the QB’s cap hit, which is the big reason why it’s so low for 2022. Why Brady will be able to leave Tampa Bay after the 2022 season. The biggest part of Brady’s deal is that includes a clause that says the Buccaneers can’t hit him with the franchise or transition tag. This means there will be no way for the Buccaneers to keep him from hitting the open market in 2023.

Basically, you might want to start getting mentally prepared for all the Brady free agency stories you’re going to see next offseason.   

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Jaguars reach long-term deal with key offensive lineman
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It was a wild weekend around 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. 

Cam Robinson reaches long-term deal with Jaguars. The Jags starting left tackle has agreed to a three-year deal worth a total of $54 million, according to NFL.com. The Jags have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and due to this deal, it makes it seem highly unlikely that they’ll be taking an offensive lineman with that pick. Melvin Gordon re-signs with the Broncos. After spending the past two seasons in Denver, Gordon has decided to return for at least one more. According to NFL.com, the running back has agreed to a one-year deal that will pay him up to $5 million. Falcons hoping to come out of the draft with a QB. That’s the word from GM Terry Fontenot, who revealed that nugget on Tuesday. “We’re not going to give away what we’re going to do at eight or any other pick, but we could come out of this draft with a quarterback,” Fontenot said, via ESPN.com. “We want to add to that room and we’ll see what happens.”Panthers also serious about landing a QB. The Panthers are so serious about getting a QB in this draft that they have let Sam Darnold know that ‘there’s a pretty good chance’ they’ll be selecting one. The problem for the Panthers is that there’s no guarantee that any of the quarterbacks in the draft are better than Darnold.  Son of two-time Super Bowl champion pleads guilty to stealing dad’s Super Bowl rings. D’Aundre Holmes-Wilfork, the son of former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, has pleaded guilty to stealing jewelry from his dad in a heist that included two Super Bowl rings. The younger Wilfork has been sentenced to five years of probation, according to ABC 13 in Houston. Derrick Henry become minority owner of Nashville’s MLS team. The Titans running back is going from one type of football to the other type of football after purchasing a stake in Nashville’s MLS team. Henry will be joining an ownership group that also includes actress Reese Witherspoon. 2022 NFL Draft hats now available

The 2022 NFL Draft is here! Get official NFL Draft 59FIFTY fitted and adjustable hats now and rep your team’s fandom. Watch your team’s future unfold, and look stylish doing it, by shopping here.

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