It's now up to NFL GMs to determine how Baker Mayfield fits in the pros.
Forgive me for not opening with all of the Black Monday comings and goings in the NFL's myriad suburban satellites. There was real football played yesterday, and it was real good football—at least for the first five hours. (Plus, everything you need to know about your team's coaches is covered below and on the site).
The 104th Rose Bowl was the first to go into overtime, as Georgia beat Oklahoma, 54-48, in double-OT. Heisman winner Baker Mayfield was the star of the first half as his Sooners ran out to a 31-14 lead. The 6-foot-1(ish) former walk-on transfer was 13-for-18 with a passing touchdown and a TD catch on a trick play against one of the nation's top defenses. But as the afternoon wore on, it was that Georgia D, and particularly its best pro prospect—junior linebacker Roquan Smith—that started dominating. Here's how Albert Breer saw the instant classic's draft impact.
BREER: "There was little doubt who the Rose Bowl's best player was going into the game—Baker Mayfield, winner of the Heisman Trophy by the third-largest margin ever. But even before Georgia upset Oklahoma, the question of who in the game would go highest in April’s draft was still an open one. Roquan Smith served notice again, and displayed why he might be picked before anyone else playing in Pasadena. Smith was everywhere, notching 11 tackles, with the two biggest ones coming on Oklahoma’s two overtime possessions. Both plays forced field goal attempts. The former kept the Bulldogs alive. The latter set up Sony Michel’s game-winning score. And this was no aberration. The drumbeat on Smith’s brilliance grew steadily among scouts in September and October, as they saw an ideal sideline-to-sideline, three-down linebacker for the modern game. He’s been working to hold off Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans for the top spot among draft-eligible linebackers, and what he did on the big stage on Monday won’t hurt."
At the end of the day, Mayfield's draft perception was pretty much where it started—an electric playmaker if not a prototypical QB, a guy some team will likely select in the first round. But Georgia made him look less than magical. Smith and the other UGa prospects will have another audition, Monday in the national title game against Alabama (who handled Clemson, 24-6, in the nightcap). The Crimson Tide are once again loaded with potential pros, though Monday it was defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne who stole the show. The 319-pounder snagged an interception and caught a touchdown pass from the fullback position.
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1. The biggest surprise among all of the personnel changes thus far has come from Green Bay, where Ted Thompson will no longer run the Packers' football operation. Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers and hired Mike McCarthy. Tom Silverstein reported that the decision was made by Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy; the plugged-in reporter also has great detail on the politics Murphy will now play in selecting a replacement.
2. Say goodbye to Bruce Arians by reading about his expletive-laden first meeting with Cardinals GM Steve Keim and by watching his teary final press conference. Arizona has already been linked to some of the hottest coaching names, including Vikings OC Pat Shurmur and Patriots DC Matt Patricia.
3. We're still waiting to hear if the Marvin Lewis era is over in Cincinnati. As are his assistant coaches, who now sit in limbo.
5. Texans GM Rick Smith announced Tuesday that he would be taking a full year off to help his wife, Tiffany, as she deals with breast cancer. Longtime NFL reporter John McClain called it "the most emotional but uplifting news conference I've attended."
6. Vance Joseph is staying as Broncos head coach, but a half-dozen of his assistants are out in Denver.
7. Hue Jackson sticking around as Browns coach after an 0-16 year already feels toxic. It's January 2.
8. The Lions are another team looking at Patriots coaches as they replace Jim Caldwell, though if you're not ready to say farewell to him, Dave Birkett lists 10 unforgettable things about Caldwell's time in Detroit.
9. Columnist Gregg Doyel is going all-in on Dave Toub-to-the-Colts.
10. In case you missed his performance Sunday, Patrick Mahomes has Chiefs fans excited about the future as well as the present.
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The Bills are sending wings to the Bengals, and Buffalo fans are donating to Andy Dalton's charitable foundation after Cincinnati helped end the NFL's longest playoff drought.
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