With the NFL Draft happening in only one more day, we’re finally almost past all of the schadenfreude of the media trying to devalue certain prospects in the name of hot takes.
For whatever reason, Mac Jones has been chosen to be the subject of arguing this year, with people absolutely staking their entire family on trying to argue that he’s overrated for a myriad of reasons. David Pollack has had about enough of it though:
“I hear it all over the place,” Pollack told ESPN’s “Get Up” on Tuesday. “’I can’t believe the 49ers could move up to 3 to get Mac Jones.’
“I get it. He’s not dynamic. He’s not going to wow you in shorts. He’s not going to wow you at your pro day.”
Pollack said just turn on the tape.
“His tape is better than Justin Fields,” he said. “His tape is better than Zach Wilson. His tape is better than Trey Lance. His tape is better than Trevor Lawrence.”
Critics will site explosive receivers over the past two seasons as reasons for Jones’ success, but Pollack isn’t buying it.
“How many times have we watched those guys (Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle) make spectacular catches?” Pollack asked. “The dude puts it on the money, bro. He could have the best supporting cast ever. He makes great decisions on time.”
Look, Mac isn’t some perfect QB prospect who’s a guaranteed safe pick. He’s got some flaws.
But the bad-faith arguments around his supporting cast have been driving me up the wall lately. Someone will show video of Jaylen Waddle making a crazy, leaping catch and then say that it’s just another instance of Jones making his receivers bail him out. Then you’ll see a video of DeVonta Smith catching a wide open pass for a huge gain, and the same people will say that Jones had it too easy.
And then to top it all off, they’ll turn right around and say that Smith is too small and Waddle is overrated too.
In the last few days, too, Smith has gone from a surefire top-7 pick to possibly sliding all the way to 15th according to many in the media. And it makes absolutely no sense:
It’s not a dissimilar position to changes we’ve seen around the league to polarize the size vs. speed discussion and force mismatches. Players who can “do it all” aren’t being as highly valued as specialists with rare talents in one area. It’s unfair, but a reality of the league as it stands.
Teams are adjusting to shift of speed on the outside, size in the middle. Miami and Cincinnati, both figuring to take a receiver in the Top 10, are aiming to pivot to this way of thinking on offense. The issue is compounded by concerns that Smith is too lean at 174 pounds to keep up with the power of the league, even if his tape shows an ability to mix it up with defenders. It’s creating a scenario where Smith is getting lost in NFL purgatory. Not only will he fall lower than he deserves, but he has every ability to be a franchise cornerstone. That basic ability is getting lost in the conversation purely because he isn’t a prototypical big-man slot receiver, or a speedy outside player.
James Dator from the SBN mothership takes a stab at trying to understand why everyone seems to be devaluing Smith here, and he closes it with saying that any teams passing on Smith will wind up regretting it.
Here’s DeVonta’s own words on everyone obsessing over his weight:
"We play football. We in football business. We're not weight lifting. We're not bodybuilding. It's football."@AlabamaFTBL WR @DeVontaSmith_6 isn't concerned about his weight at the next level (via @gmfb) pic.twitter.com/9B7wkeXj0f— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) April 27, 2021
Check out this tidbit from Auburn receiver Eli Stove:
“I’ve been saying (Alabama’s) Patrick Surtain II and (South Carolina’s) Jaycee Horn. But if I’m being honest, (Buffalo Bills and former Alabama cornerback) Levi Wallace was the toughest guy I faced in my entire career.”
The former Tide walk-on, Levi Wallace, may not have had the pure ability of Surtain, but that dude had some of the most active hands and stretchy arms I’ve ever seen in a cornerback, and that had to be tremendously frustrating for opposing wide recievers.
Fitzpatrick has been a first-team All-Pro selection for the Steelers in each of the past two seasons, and his inclusion on the original Pro Bowl roster for the 2019 and 2020 campaigns was worth $4.411 million to him for the 2022 season.
By picking up the option in Fitzpatrick’s contract, Pittsburgh guaranteed a $10.612 million payday for the former Alabama All-American in 2022. Fitzpatrick has a base salary of $2.723 million for the 2021 season.
While we’re on the subject of former Tide defensive backs, Minkah Fitzpatrick just got a nice chunk of change. The 5th year option on first round picks is one of those things that we haven’t seen used quite as often as many projected when it was first introduced.
Fitzpatrick will be paid like a top-15 defensive back in the league for the next two seasons, and if he continues with his level of performance, he’ll likely be demanding the highest defensive back salary in the NFL come 2023.