As we quickly move into crunch time in both the NFL and college football seasons, let’s open up the mailbag to address some of your questions on NFL rumors, college football, and NFL Draft news.
This week’s questions cover my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings, the New York Jets’ plans, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, and much more. But first, we begin with a question about which NFL head coaches are on the hottest of hot seats.
Related | Farabaugh’s 4-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
Remember, if you have a question you want to send in for next week’s mailbag, you can e-mail it to [email protected] or send a tweet to @PFN365 on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTonyPFN, and we’ll try to include it in an upcoming mailbag column.
NFL Rumors & Draft News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (11.18.20)
Who do you think will be the next NFL head coaches fired over the next month and a half? And are there any rumors that David Shaw is finally ready to make the jump to the NFL?
There is no talk from anyone of David Shaw getting a head coaching job at this point.
I don’t know that it will happen before the season is over, but rumblings are getting louder that Matt Nagy of the Bears and Matt Patricia of the Lions are both out at the end of the year.
Is Adam Gase still in a job at least partially because the Jets feel he gives them the best chance of getting the first overall pick? Is there any scenario in which Gase is still the Jets’ head coach in 2021?
The answer to your first question is, more than anything else, that owner Christopher Johnson needs to save face. He made a lot of inane comments early in the season about not firing Adam Gase based on ultimatums and basing it on the progress, or lack thereof, from the Jets throughout the season. If he fires Gase in December, at least Johnson can say he stood by his word.
I see absolutely no scenario where Gase returns in 2021. Forget about the disastrous performance on the field, the Jets have been struggling to sell tickets the past five years. Bringing Gase back would be another nail in that coffin.
Recently, I’ve heard first-hand from players that Gase is not taking responsibility for things he should, and that’s aggravating them.
If the Jets do not land the first pick and miss out on Trevor Lawrence, is there a huge gap between him and Justin Fields? Do you think they would draft Fields and trade Sam Darnold? And who does Fields remind you of?
There will be a lot of debate on this topic in the lead-up to the draft, but despite all the noise, Trevor Lawrence is and will be graded significantly higher than Justin Fields on draft boards around the league. This is not meant as a smear towards Fields’ game, but more that Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect we’ve witnessed since Andrew Luck. Lawrence is even better than Luck in some areas, as his game has improved this season.
Personally, I love Fields’ next-level potential and feel he would be the odds-on No. 1 pick in any draft that didn’t include Lawrence. Fields will be rated higher than Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Sam Darnold, and so on. In my opinion, Fields is a potentially better version of Russell Wilson.
With a COVID-19 vaccine getting closer to being ready, have you heard any rumors about if the NCAA or NFL will require players to get vaccinated? What might happen if a player refuses to get the vaccine?
I’ve heard nothing about the NFL or NCAA forcing players to get vaccinated. It won’t happen in the NFL, as the NFLPA will not allow it. I also tend to doubt the NCAA will institute mandatory vaccinations.
For your 2021 NFL Draft player rankings, how are you accommodating the opt-out players since they can’t really elevate or hurt their draft stocks at the moment?
I would agree that the draft stocks of players who opted out and those whose schools or conferences postponed play until the spring are pretty much static; it’s all based on their game film from 2019 and 2018. Adjustments will be made based on their workouts before the 2021 NFL Draft.
That said, prospects taking part in the 2020 college season have an easier time jumping over those who are not presently playing.
I see you have Ja’Marr Chase as the WR1 and second-best prospect in the entire 2021 NFL Draft class. Why do you have him graded so high? And are there any rumors that teams may have him a bit lower due to opting out of the 2020 season?
Ja’Marr Chase is a dynamic receiver in every sense — he’s polished, consistent, and capable of changing the complexion of games. I’ve heard of no team downgrading him based on his decision to opt-out of the 2020 season.
Do you see a scenario where the Eagles bench Carson Wentz this season? If so, do you think Jalen Hurts is possibly their QB of the future? Or are there rumors that could they be in the QB market in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Unlikely. Even if they are out of contention in the NFC East in December, which probably won’t happen, the most I see happening is them allowing Jalen Hurts to play in the second half of games.
Who are the players from Indiana that are rising up the draft board as a result of the Hoosiers’ surprising season?
Receiver Ty Fryfogle, a Week 11 riser who was graded as a UDFA by scouts before the season, has really helped himself. Linebacker Micah McFadden has a higher grade presently than he did in October. Ditto for defensive tackle Jerome Johnson.