NFL mock draft 2021: Jets settle for second-best QB after Jaguars take Trevor Lawrence; Eagles land DeVonta Smith
Sporting News' updated 2021 mock draft keeps six quarterbacks in the first round, topped with the flip at the top between Jacksonville and New York. Also, Philadelphia and New England grab needed downfield playmakers from the Crimson Tide.Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (6-4, 226 pounds)
There’s been more than enough talk about what needs to be done to close the NFL’s racial hiring gap.
It’s time to make it happen.
Six NFL teams were already looking for new coaches as of Monday, and there could be another opening or two still to come. Four of those teams also are in the market for a new general manager, as are the Denver Broncos and the Washington Football Team.
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How many of those teams will hire someone of color? One? Three? Or will NFL owners, a group that is almost exclusively white, continue a hiring record that too often looks like a relic from the Antebellum era?
NFL playoff picture: Projecting the seeds & matchups for AFC, NFC brackets Week 16
Almost nothing about the NFL's playoff picture is set in stone entering Week 16, so we've used our weekly picks to project the seeds in the AFC and NFL postseason brackets.There's nothing assured about seeding entering the week, except for knowing that the NFC East champion will be the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Beyond that, plenty is still up for grabs. Sporting News makes game picks every week, and we're using them this week to determine how things might shake out in the final AFC and NFC standings.
“A holistic approach was taken toward hiring practices that have raised expectations for promoting equity, opportunity and inclusion during this hiring cycle and beyond,” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said on Twitter on Monday.
Expectations are no longer good enough, however. And neither are empty gestures.
Yes, it is encouraging that Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is in high demand. He met with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he has two more interviews scheduled this week.
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It's already been a memorable weekend for the NFC South, which witnessed a record-tying performance while two of its teams cemented their postseason status.With one quarter of Week 16's games complete – providing further clarity to the playoff field going into Sunday's slate (while doubtless playing havoc with the emotions of fantasy football owners who probably should have been focused on more important things in their lives) – it seemed as good a time as any to explore early winners and losers from the four contests in the books.
But we’ve seen this shell game before.
Bieniemy directs one of the NFL’s most prolific, and entertaining, offenses, and has been integral in the development of Patrick Mahomes. If he was white, Bieniemy would already be a head coach. But he is Black, and so he is not, having been passed over for seven jobs in the past two hiring cycles.
One of those teams that decided Bieniemy wasn’t the right “fit,” the New York Jets, is in the market for a new coach once again. Another four failed to make the playoffs.
“He’s ready to make the move,” said Reid, who cited Bieniemy’s people, organizational and tactical skills. “But it’s got to be a fit for an owner. Somebody has to have … that picture in their mind that Eric Bieniemy can go lead their organization and they’re comfortable with that.”
NFL hot seat index: Five coaches who could be in trouble once 2020 season ends
Three jobs are already open, but league history suggests several more will be available once the regular season ends Sunday.The Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans have already hit the reset button, each cutting ties with their head coaches and general managers once their respective campaigns derailed. But league history suggests more houses will be cleaned, each offseason typically bringing a half-dozen sideline openings, give or take. (The 2020 season opened with five teams under new coaching management.
As Vincent noted, the NFL has taken steps to level the playing field. The Rooney Rule was expanded so teams are now required to interview two minority candidates for head coaching vacancies and one for coordinator openings.
The league has also given teams incentive to get more Black and brown candidates in the pipeline, awarding compensatory picks for minority assistants and personnel executives hired away as head coaches and general managers.
But the NFL is not the problem. The owners are. They are the ones doing the hiring. They are the ones who have to overlook their biases – implicit and otherwise – about the face of their franchise being Black or brown.
And too few have shown the courage to do so.
Anthony Lynn’s firing by the Los Angeles Chargers left Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores and Ron Rivera as the NFL’s only minority coaches. (Raheem Morris and Romeo Crennel are interim coaches.) In each of the past three hiring cycles, only one man of color has been hired as a head coach.
The NFL, many owners included, made a big show of championing diversity and racial equality after the horrific death of George Floyd. They promised to do better, and be more aware of the privilege that has allowed white coaches to advance while Black and brown coaches with more experience – and, frankly in some cases, more talent – remain stymied.
NFL playoff picture: Projecting the seeds & matchups for AFC, NFC brackets for Week 17
The NFL playoff picture is in decent focus heading into Week 17, but there's still a lot to sort out in projecting what the AFC and NFC postseason brackets will look like.Aside from the Chiefs locking up the AFC's No. 1 seed a week ago, there'll still be movement everywhere else on a 16-game Sunday. Four teams that enter the final day with a chance will miss out. Two divisions are still up for grabs. The NFC's lone first-round bye is still in play for three clubs. And there's a Sunday Night Football game to decide one of the worst division winners (by record) in the modern playoff era.
But those promises cannot be trusted, not with the NFL’s sorry track record. Not when this is a recurring topic of conversation every offseason, only for nothing to actually change. Not when Urban Meyer could be as hot a commodity as Bieniemy or Robert Saleh or Pep Hamilton.
Not when the NFL has found a multitude of words to address the problem except the two that matter:
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
Week 13: Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams celebrates with quarterback Aaron Rodgers after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Rodgers became the fastest quarterback to reach 400 career touchdown passes.
Week 6: Members of the Arizona Cardinals defense act out a bowling pin strike dramatization after being hit by a ball rolled by Byron Murphy Jr. who intercepted a Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton pass.
Week 5: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (82) celebrates with teammates Odell Beckham Jr., David Njoku and Jarvis Landry after catching a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Week 3: The Cleveland Browns' B.J. Goodson (93), Tavierre Thomas (20), Andrew Sendejo (23) and Karl Joseph (42) celebrate after Goodson intercepted a pass against the Washington Football Team at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Week 1: Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) celebrates with teammates James Robinson (30), Cam Robinson (74), A.J. Cann (60) and DJ Chark Jr. (17) after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field.
Week 1: New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton celebrates his rushing touchdown against the Miami Dolphins by doing the "Wakanda Forever" salute to honor late "Black Panther" actor Chadwick Boseman.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: With job opening, will NFL teams do more than talk about hiring minority coaches?
2020 NFL wild-card weekend: One wild-card player to watch for all 12 teams in playoff opener .
COVID-19 is already making this a wild wild-card weekend, but these players could also loom as X-factors who could sway postseason outcomes.Billed by the league as "Super Wild Card Weekend," the 2020 playoffs – the first to feature a seven-team bracket per conference – will kick off with an unprecedented pair of back-to-back postseason tripleheaders Saturday and Sunday. The competition should be typically fierce, and the two additional games should only further whet the appetites of football fans ... while adding to the league's most valuable inventory of premium content heading into its next round of broadcast negotiations.