Mailbag, Part 2: Is Green Bay leaving Jordan Love in the dust?
The Packers convinced Aaron Rodgers to stay, so the Super Bowl window remains open. And yet, this does come with a cost. Also inside: NIL talk, TJ Watt, the Cowboys, more.
Happy Friday, everyone. It’s high time we wrapped up the latest edition of the mailbag. Here is Part I, icymi. Part II below is Packers-heavy, and why not?
There is much to discuss in Titletown.
A huge thank you to everyone for your submissions. We’ll get those Go Long decals out tomorrow and, remember, you can always email questions this way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get to it.
With growth of transfer portal, one time transfer and the extra Covid year the numbers are showing high school recruiting is being overshadowed by transfers in college sports. Institutions taking more mature and developed players.
The top 5-star and 4-stars are surely landing at Power 5 institutions but 2-stars and below who may be developing late or not on radar at this time are going to have a tough time landing Power 5 opportunities.
With many of these 2-star-and-below athletes going mid-major, FCS, possibly JUCO, even lower levels, does this change the thinking from a college scouting process in the NFL?
Is there more of an interest to dive deeper into these lower levels or is it business as usual and if they are good enough, they will put up the numbers and be found?
This is a great question that I had not even considered, Marcus. The ripple effect of NIL is going to affect the NFL and scouting in completely new ways. It’s already resembling a Wild West, isn’t it? We’re bound to see more fluidity than ever. I just think back to when we were all 18- and 19- and 20-year-olds. The grass always seemed greener on the other side at such an impressionable age. Be it a relationship, what to do on a Friday night or where in the heck to go to college. I can’t imagine what a talented four-star athlete is thinking when millions of dollars are now dangled in front of his face to transfer. Here’s hoping the right mentors and parents can step in. I’m all for the individual liberty — it’s been a long time coming considering the players are responsible for the elaborate college facilities, coaching salaries, etc. — but we’re going to see some tectonic changes to college sports that’ll make the One-and-Done Era look like child’s play.
Programs are reacting. (Perhaps is “panicking” the better word?) Doubt anybody here ever thought we’d see USC and UCLA bolt to the Big Ten. It sure looks like the “Power 5” will soon become the “Super 2,” as in two super conferences: the SEC and the Big Ten. NFL scouts will justifiably direct their eyeballs to the bright lights and the best of the very best. Powerhouses like Alabama and Georgia will always take precedent as we saw in this past April’s draft, but I think you’re on to something here. There has always been a need to uncover every conceivable stone, and now? It heightens. The uncertainty of the college football landscape will make NFL teams dig deeper and there is no shortage of resources. On Thursday night, a report surfaced that NFL Sunday Ticket could cost Apple $3 billion per year. Billion. With a “B.” Organizations will forever have every conceivable tool at their disposal to scout, and scout, and scout and rack up those Marriott points on the never-ending quest for the next diamond in the rough. Players have always slipped through the cracks — be it a Josh Allen at Wyoming, a Khalil Mack at UB, a Cooper Kupp at Eastern Washington, an Antonio Gibson at Memphis, an Elijah Mitchell at Louisiana, a Darnell Mooney at Tulane. It’s the nature of the sport. The film and the numbers only tell you so much.
Those boots on the ground — the area scouts — will need to fully grasp what makes these guys tick in talking to everyone they possibly can. If everyone knew Allen was such a diligent worker and had a chance to improve his scattershot accuracy, he would’ve been the unanimous No. 1 pick. Kupp’s unreal football IQ wasn’t valued nearly enough, either. From there, powers that be — the GMs and head coaches — must be willing to take a chance outside of the Super 2. As college sports becomes more corporate, as the players start making money for their services, it’s on the NFL scouts to search for these sort of intangible traits. Believe it or not, not everyone who plays football truly eats it, sleeps, breathes it. Certainly not to Allen and Kupp extremes.
By no means does this need to be one or the other, either.
No player in the sport maximized his NIL potential like Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and he’ll also have zero problem putting in the work.
All in all, it pays to have robust scouting staff and a GM capable of listening and pulling the trigger.
There has to be a player we’re not thinking about who could win MVP. Someone always comes out of nowhere before a QB yet again wins the award. Any guesses?
Absolutel. TJ Watt. We all did not talk nearly enough about the Steelers’ latest greatest force of nature at edge ‘backer.
No defensive player in the sport — Aaron Donald, included — single-handedly took over games last season like Watt 2.0. In 16 total contests, Watt had 23.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and 42 quarterback hits. If he wouldn’t have gotten dinged up at the end of the season, and if the Steelers got more out of their passing game to stay in the Super Bowl discussion, Watt could’ve been the first defensive player to win MVP since 1986 (Lawrence Taylor). His ability to wreck a game with one bull rush, one spin move, one punch of the ball is unparalleled.
It’s the “most valuable player,” of course, not the most valuable “quarterback.” Usually, QBs are the ones deciding wins and losses, but a few defensive players break the mold.
JJ Watt did in his 2014 prime, Donald has, and TJ Watt is the best there is today.