The NFL and college football seasons are coming closer and closer to an end. As a result, Tony Pauline dives into his mailbag below to address some of your questions on NFL rumors, college football, and NFL Draft news.
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This week’s installment will cover my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings, which WR the Dolphins may target in the draft, what’s going on in Detroit, whether Anthony Lynn is on the hot seat, and much more. But first, we start with Raheem Morris. Has he done enough to remain head coach of the Atlanta Falcons?
NFL Rumors & Draft News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (12.16.20)
I’ve heard that Raheem Morris has a real chance to keep the Atlanta Falcons’ head coaching job. Is this still true after the last few weeks that saw Atlanta go 1-3?
There’s a very slight chance they keep Morris. Here’s a better answer: when I asked people in the league if the Falcons would keep Morris, the answer I usually get is “I doubt it” versus a “no way” or “he’s gone.”
I still hear that Eric Bieniemy is at the top of their list.
The Dolphins seem to finally be stable, and it seems there are not many NFL rumors flying around. Is there anything you can share about Miami and their plans for 2021? Do you think the Dolphins would take a receiver like Ja’Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith with the Texans’ pick?
Either of those two receivers would be in the conversation, but it gets complicated if Micah Parsons is staring them in the face. At that point, it comes down to who they like better between Parsons and the top receivers.
Where are you at with Mac Jones as his 2020 season starts to near its end? Do you think NFL teams consider him a legitimate option to lead their franchise?
I like Jones, and he deserves credit as he’s improved his game by leaps and bounds this season. I am concerned that he’s only had one full season of starting experience, as I am with any quarterback who only started for one year. He also benefits from the immense talent around him.
I don’t have him graded as a first-round prospect like others, and I feel he’s best valued in the top half or middle portion of Round 2 if he declares.
Do you think any teams have interest in Jim Caldwell as a head coach? If not, do you think he’d return for an offensive coordinator role?
Much depends on his health.
If everything is okay, Caldwell will get interviews for a head coaching job this offseason, and his name will be mentioned for a few teams. Ultimately, I don’t think he gets a head coaching gig.
Any NFL rumors about Dave Gettleman’s job status as general manager of the New York Giants?
Much depends on what happens the rest of the season and I’ve heard of no definitive decision.
At this point, I’m told the Giants are more comfortable getting rid of Gettleman and bringing in someone to work side by side with Joe Judge, considering the quick development of the head coach. People in the building are ecstatic about Judge.
Do you think Anthony Lynn will return as Chargers’ head coach in 2021? Do you think he needs to pick up another win or two this year to be safe?
He needs more than a win or two; he needs a miracle.
A West Coast source put the percentages of Lynn keeping his job at 20 percent, and that’s the best-case scenario. The vast majority of what I’m hearing from well-connected people is that Lynn will be fired.
Are you hearing anything about the Lions’ plans to fill their front office and head coaching vacancies?
As I first reported at the start of December, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is at the top of the Lions’ list. In fact, days after I reported that Saleh headed the list of head coaching candidates during The Draft Insiders podcast, legislators from the state of Michigan petitioned Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp to hire him. I doubt there’s a connection, but it tells you how much people inside and out want Saleh.
I continue to hear it will be Saleh and someone he is comfortable with as general manager.
Any rumors that this season may affect Chuba Hubbard’s NFL draft stock?
It depends on where you had Hubbard graded before the season began. Coming into the season, I graded him as my No. 2 back behind Najee Harris. Right now, he’s my third-rated back after the season turned in by Travis Etienne.
I don’t see him falling further, and I believe he’s a second-round selection.
Shane Bowen and Mike Vrabel have the Titans on pace for 17 sacks this season — a historically bad number. Is there any hope that Vrabel will admit he was wrong and hire a real defensive coordinator this offseason?
I think that will be an option on the table, no doubt. But you can’t blame Vrabel for lack of effort.
The Vic Beasley signing looked like a solid one when it was made, and I don’t think anyone expected the outcome we ultimately saw. Likewise, while Jadeveon Clowney was never a great pass rusher from a statistical point of view, few predicted the lack of production we saw before his injury.