“This one ranks first, in terms of how unusual it is. The opt-outs kind of remind me when we used to draft guys, then lose them for a year or two in the military.” – Gil Brandt to King on this year’s draft
“If I could pick one player in this draft who’s got the best chance to go to the Hall of Fame, it’s Penei Sewell. He’s my left tackle from day one.” – An NFL coach to King
“I wouldn’t eliminate that chance, because (Bill) Belichick is proving this year that there’s no book on roster-building for him.” – King on the Patriots potentially moving up to draft a QB
STAMFORD, Conn. – April 19, 2021 – Peter King shares insights and rumors from around the league with 10 days remaining until the 2021 NFL Draft in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Hall of Fame football executive Gil Brandt, discusses NFL voluntary workouts and league rules proposals, and speaks with Ohio congressman and former Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez about college athlete name, image and likeness legislation.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which provides extensive NFL coverage, includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show discusses offseason storylines. and the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast continues to rank 2021 NFL Draft prospects by position group.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
NFL DRAFT INFO
King: “Never has there been a draft when the top three offensive linemen, all likely to be picked in the top 20, come in after a year off from football. Never has there been a draft when one of the top corners, Caleb Farley, will be drafted having not played a football game in the previous 512 days. And never has there been a draft when a quarterback likely to be drafted in the top 10, Trey Lance, has played one football game in 15 months.”
Gil Brandt to King on this year’s draft: “This one ranks first, in terms of how unusual it is. The opt-outs kind of remind me when we used to draft guys, then lose them for a year or two in the military. Very seldom did they come back the players they were. The same principle is involved here…This year, a pick you’d get in the fourth round might be the quality of a sixth-round pick next year.”
One coach to King on Brandt’s concerns: “I agree wholeheartedly. And I agree about how worried he is about the opt-outs. This year’s unprecedented. I’m worried about all the things we don’t know. We don’t really know the prospects, personally or medically, the way we should.”
King on the 49ers’ pick at No. 3: “The leader in the clubhouse is still Alabama’s Mac Jones, but that’s all Jones is. Credit to (John) Lynch and (Kyle) Shanahan for keeping a tight lid on their preference. I keep coming back to Jones’ accuracy and his touch downfield, with the best accuracy of the top five quarterbacks on passes thrown 20 yards or more downfield.”
King on the Falcons at No. 4: “Pivot point of the draft…Owner Arthur Blank is fascinated by the quarterbacks atop the draft, thinking the franchise might not be in such an advantageous position to take one for years. But Blank will not force a decision…(Arthur) Smith and (GM Terry) Fontenot are also value shoppers too. The value here is to take the best non-quarterback in the draft, tight end Kyle Pitts.”
King on the Bengals at No. 5: “How the Bengals don’t take Oregon tackle Penei Sewell is beyond me, especially because this draft is filthy-rich in receivers…I’d vote for the Joe Burrow Preservation Plan, and start this draft tackle at 5, guard at 38. Burrow’s good enough, if he has time, to win with Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and a lesser third option (Rondale Moore?).”
One coach to King on Sewell: “If I could pick one player in this draft who’s got the best chance to go to the Hall of Fame, it’s Penei Sewell. He’s my left tackle from day one.”
King on the Dolphins at No. 6: “(GM Chris) Grier’s an aggressive man, but I doubt he’d use part of his stash of picks (overall picks 6, 18, 36, 50 this year) to move up to four to get the weapon of Miami’s dreams…My gut is they stay at six and get the BAW – best available weapon.”
King on the Cowboys at No. 10: “Another trade-up spot for a QB-seeking team if one’s still available. Said one NFC coach: ‘I can’t see how the Cowboys pass up [Northwestern tackle] Rashawn Slater if he’s there. That offensive line is declining fast.’”
King on the Patriots potentially moving up to draft a QB: “I wouldn’t eliminate that chance, because (Bill) Belichick is proving this year that there’s no book on roster-building for him, particularly in the post-Brady era. Now, I doubt the Pats will trade next year’s first-round pick, the likely cost to move up into QB-acquisition position, but nothing’s certain with the Patriots now.”
FIVE PLAYERS GIL BRANDT LOVES
Jaelan Phillips, pass-rusher, Miami: “He’s the guy everybody will be talking about two years from now. A bit of medical risk due to concussions, but to me he has the biggest upside in the draft. You hit on him, you’ve hit a home run with the bases loaded.”
Elijah Moore, wide receiver, Mississippi: “Really fast. A 4.35 guy who could be a lot like A.J. Brown out of Ole Miss a couple of years ago. Not the same body type, but I think Moore will be better in the NFL than he was in college.”
Kyle Pitts, tight end, Florida: “Best I’ve seen since Kellen Winslow out of Missouri. Such a fluid guy. The size and speed will be a huge matchup problem in the NFL.”
Penei Sewell, tackle, Oregon: “Reminds me of Jonathan Ogden.”
Michael Carter, running back, North Carolina: “Love this guy. He shared the job at UNC, but 6.6 yards per carry in his career. I think he’ll lead all rookie running backs in yards in the league next year.”
King: “Anthony Gonzalez played receiver for Ohio State from 2004-06, and he got to understand the inequity of athletes who help make millions for big schools and having no ability to monetize that. Now a second-term Republican Congressman from Ohio’s 16th district, Gonzalez is going to try to do something about it.”
Gonzalez to King: “There are so many great, positive things about college athletics, not just football, but all the sports. Having said that, there’s an obvious inequity in my view between what the college athlete is allowed to do with their own name, image and likeness, and what everybody else in society is able to do.”
King on NIL laws: “There’s a time crunch here: California has enacted a name, image and likeness law, and other states are working to do the same; theoretically, universities in states with NIL laws could have a major recruiting edge over states without them. Gonzalez seeks to set one uniform national standard.”
Gonzalez on his legislation: “(It) will expand the name, image and likeness right to all college athletes and have one universal standard across the country and then build some guard rails, because there are some things you want to make sure don’t happen. Like, people buying recruits for example.”
Gonzalez: “Some folks who are great college players who could make a good bit of money on name, image and likeness may not go to the pros. Their game may not translate to the NFL or to the NBA. This is an opportunity for them to make a little bit of money…I do believe it’ll apply to all college athletes. So, if people think almost exclusively about football and basketball, I do think if you look at the social media followings of some of our female athletes, I think you’re going see them able to take advantage of it for sure.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on voluntary workouts: “The workouts have morphed from ‘voluntary’ to ‘you must not like football much if you skip them’ over the years, so I am all for players who say they’re not showing up. The players, though, must understand possible consequences. If some in your position group show up and you don’t, and if they’re ahead of you come training camp, that’s the cost of not going.”
King on players missing voluntary workouts: “This will be bad for first-year coaches, and for some second-year coaches (Mike McCarthy for one) making staff changes, and for teams with a personnel makeover (New England for one). But teams will figure it out…I feel pretty sure coaches are smart enough to make all systems work if players report to camp 47 days before the first game of the season.”
King on COVID regulations for next season: “The league, I hear, is leaning toward relaxing COVID safety restrictions in-house if Tier 1 and 2 employees on a given team (those who come into contact with players most days) reach 85 percent vaccination rate and players on that given team also reach 85 percent vax rate.”
King on the rule proposal for expanded Replay Assistant duties, which will be voted on on Wednesday: “I thought the expansion of duties to the upstairs Replay Assistant was sure to pass before last Wednesday’s briefing, but now I’m not so sure…One coach told me he didn’t think it would pass, while one league official said it’ll be close.”
King on the NFL’s recently-announced sports betting partnerships: “I think of all the events of this offseason, we may look back at this announcement – the NFL linking up with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, for what could be worth up to $1 billion over five years – as the biggest event of them all.”
King on Jadeveon Clowney: “The Browns’ signing of Jadeveon Clowney was interesting for a couple reasons. One, as he pointed out, he’ll have the benefit of playing opposite an edge-rushing force, Myles Garrett…Problem is, he has been a dominant force at times, just not consistently. Clowney has three sacks in 21 games since leaving Houston.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.