ROBBINS NEST,The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
By Lenn Robbins
Man was that a lousy weekend of playoff football. Wildcard Weekend? Try Wildcard Weakend.
Thanks to the added “playoff” teams, Wildcard Weekend was as exciting as watching Olympic dressage. Go ahead, all you Mr. Ed fans, bring the hate. Those poor horses were never intended to prance around like 5-year-old tap-dancers on cupcakes.
The 49ers-Cowboys game was close at the end, only because Jimmy Garoppolo decided he prefers to live in a world in which his status as a franchise quarterback will forever be debated. Jimmy G was solid for most of the game until his fourth quarter interception had investigators at Draft Kings, Caesars and FanDuel reaching for their Bat Phones.
Mike McCarthy’s undisciplined regular-season juggernaut blew up in his face. After committing 14 penalties – 14! – the Cowboys replaced Hail Mary with Pity Prescott and San Fran survived 23-16.
The Eagles and Steelers (Nice going Pa. and the NFC East!) didn’t belong on the field against the Buccaneers and Chiefs. The Patriots were undressaged by the Bills. The Bengals should have dusted the Raiders, who despite the best wishes of the NFL, deserve credit for not going away.
And when has a three-peat ever lived up to the hype? Thank you, Cards-Rams, for making the last Monday Night telecast as memorable as a Gloria Estefan Super Bowl halftime show – 1992 and 1999. Arizona lost 4-of-5 coming into the playoffs (the only win a gift courtesy of the Cowboys) were down 28-0 before bedtime.
One thing was missing, of course, from the playoffs: No metropolitan area teams were involved.
We specifically avoided writing, “No NY teams were involved.” Didn’t want the Bills Mafia showing up at my door. But Buffalo fans lost a lot of respect by not showing up for their team. Despite tickets low as $40, less expensive than an official Bills dildo (never thought I’d write that!), the game wasn’t a sellout.
This, of course, was a result of Mother Nature, who dropped an Alberta Clipper on Buffalo. The temperature at the 8:15 p.m. kickoff was seven degrees with a wind chill of -4, or cold enough to freeze Buffalo hot sauce.
Most sane football fans would avoid such conditions but you’ve got to be nuts to live in Buffalo. Wings only get you so far. Those who live in Buffalo have chosen to do so. Frigid playoff conditions are supposed to be part of the charm.
With the Cowboys being flagged, the Cardinals and Patriots not showing up, the Eagles and Steelers overmatched, the weekend was a freezer-burn reminder of how it rots not having the Jets and/or Giants in the playoffs. So, we bring you something to look forward to – the first of our 2022 NFL Mock Drafts. We metropolitan area football fans need something to look forward.
- Jacksonville – Evan Neal, OL, Alabama – Fail to protect your franchise quarterback at your own peril. The Bengals can tell you all about it. Trevor Lawrence sends a limo to the draft and takes Neal out for dinner – and breakfast.
- Lions – Aiden Hutchinson, DE, Michigan Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon – He’s a face of the franchise come true. The fact that Detroit keeps a Michigan Man home is gravy. Hutchinson has the skill, strength and smarts to build a D around.
- Texans – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon – Houston has a ton of needs (including a head coach?!). Drafting Special K harkens back to the days of Jadeveon Clowney and gives Houston a player that D coordinators must account for.
- Jets – Derek Stingley Jr. DB. LSU – The Jets have an imposing front line. Adding Stingley gives Jets coach Robert Saleh the lockdown corner he loves. The build goes into the second stage.
- Giants – George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue – Our favorite defensive player in the draft. Karlaftis was a multi-sport star (water polo!) growing up. At 20, he’s still growing. He will shoot up boards after workouts.
- Panthers – Matt Coral, QB, Ole Miss – Cam Newton? No. Sam Darnold? No. P.J. Walker? Please. Matt Ruehl must get this right or end up on the failed college coaches in the NFL scrapheap. Coral over Kenny Pickett based on better RPO ability.
- Giants – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State – The Giants have been talking about fixing the O-Line since Jimmy Hoffa was reportedly buried in the end zone. Cross one tackle spot off the list of needs.
- Falcons – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame – If it wasn’t for Special K, Hamilton would be our favorite defensive player. He can change a game plan, and a game.
- Broncos – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt Matt Coral, QB, Ole Miss – Teddy Bridgewater? No. Drew Lock? No. Brett Rypien? Please. Only the legalization of pot in 2012 has kept Mile High fans from freaking out about the void at QB.
- Jets – Ikem Ekwonu, G/T, NC State Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State – The smart build of the Jets continues under Joe Douglas by laying foundations on both lines. A WR or CB will be there in Round 2 but a mean O-lineman with power won’t.
- Washington – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty – We love Taylor Heinicke. Love. But after a full season of a sample size, it’s clear he’s not a franchise QB. Is Willis?
- Vikings – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati – Patrick Peterson is a free agent and Cameron Dantzler doesn’t remind anyone of Deion Sanders.
- Browns – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State – Talk about a win-win. Browns need a playmaking WR in the worst way. Buckeye state star gets to stay home. Now, about the QB…
- Ravens – DeMarvin Neal, DL, Mississippi St. – It’s in the Ravens DNA to be physical, nasty and versatile on defense. Not keeping Matt Judon was a mistake.
- Eagles – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia – Philly saw what Micah Parsons did for the Cowboys. Is Dean that good? No. But he immediately becomes the best LB on the roster.
- Eagles – David Ojabo, DE, Michigan – A corner opposite Darius Slay is an option but Ojabo has just begun to figure out this football thing. He could be special.
- Chargers – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia – When we last saw the Chargers they were personally responsible for the resurgence of the Raider’s run game. Davis is 350-plus pounds of a stop sign. Warning: What if he balloons to a 375-pound yield sign?
- Saints – Chris Olave, WR – Ohio State – Michael Thomas, where have you gone? Whoever plays QB needs a playmaker. Olave is a quiet assassin who lulls defenses to sleep.
- Eagles – Drake London, WR, USC – Devonta Smith gives the Eagles a legit downfield threat. London is the perfect complement, a big, strong WR who can batter CBs.
- Steelers – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa – Pitt is clearly going to be a run-based team next season. Slide C Kendrick Green to guard and the Steelers have an O-Line anchor in Linderbaum for the next decade.
- Patriots – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn – Guess that defense wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Bill Belichick doesn’t like to break the bank on his own free agents. Can’t see them keeping J.C. Jackson. McCreary is a fearless corner.
- Raiders – Andrew Booth, Jr., CB, Clemson – Raiders wisely cut ties with GM Mike Mayock. Priorities for the new GM: 1 – sign coach Rich Bisaccia. 2 – get a lockdown corner. The division boasts Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen and Jerry Jeudy.
- Cardinals – Trayvon Walker, DE, Georgia – If the Cards are going to continue to compete for the NFL West title, the toughest division in the NFC, the defense must remain a priority. Chandler Jones is a free agent.
- Cowboys – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah – Can lightning strike twice? Lloyd is not Micah Parsons but with the uncertainty around Leighton Vander Esch and a glaring lack of depth at LB, America’s Team lucks out again in the draft. Playoffs are another story.
- Dolphins – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa – Owner Stephen Ross didn’t fire GM Chris Grier when he canned Brian Flores. But Grier better get this O-Line thing right.
- Bengals – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida – The memory of Joe Burrow getting his knee blown out should always figure in Cincy’s draft plans. But Eli Apple is one of Cincy’s starting CBs. Yep, that Eli Apple, formerly of the Giants, Saints and Panthers.
- Lions – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas – Detroit got its edge rusher at No.2. Now it gets a complement to Amon-Ra St. Brown an emerging star in the slot. QB remains the elephant in Ford Field.
- Bills – Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M – If Green is available the Bills should buy all of their fans dildos, uh, hand warmers. They just bought QB Josh Allen more insurance and improved the run game – a must. RB in Round 2.
- Chiefs – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State – As long as Andy Reid is the coach and Patrick Mahomes is the QB, KC will never have enough playmakers. The thought of him and Tyreek Hill on the field at the same time has D-Coordinators reaching for the panic button.
- Buccaneers – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama – Anyone seen Antonio Brown’s compression shirt? Sorry. This is SO unfair. Our favorite offensive player in this draft will need time to recover from a torn ACL but so will Chris Godwin and he’s going to want big money.
- Titans – Cameron Thomas, DL, San Diego State – Saying he’s a poor man’s version of Hutchinson is doing him a disservice. Calling him a first-round sleeper is a disservice. He’s a disrupter, having played inside and out.
- Packers – George Pickens, WR, Georgia – Did you see that catch in the BCS Championship game?! Pickens was on the verge of stardom until he tore his ACL. He’s obviously further along in the recovery process. Plus, Devante Adams is a free agent. The question is, will Aaron Rodger be throwing Pickens (and Adams) the ball?