These five general managers are going to feel the heat most during the draft.
Welcome to the Weekend Read. Below you'll find our best stories of the week, a ranking of NFL general managers facing the most pressure during the draft and a funny ol' cover featuring the Cleveland Browns. Enjoy.
• Tiger’s remarkable comeback win was about a 43-year-old man becoming the person he wanted to be—and all of us soaking in the glory. (By Michael Rosenberg)
• In our latest Mock Draft, Kyler’s going to Arizona, the Broncos trade back into Round 1 late, the Bengals nab a QB and two linebackers go in the top 10. (By Jenny Vrentas)
• Kyler Murray’s story has intriguing parallels to that of his father, Kevin—another two-sport star who faced a hard choice between baseball and football. (By Robert Klemko)
• Jerrod Mustaf is a community hero, but the former NBA player is also forever linked to the murder of his girlfriend. (By Jon Wertheim)
• Even as Terence “Bud” Crawford became an undefeated champion with 25 knockouts, he never left his hometown in Omaha behind. (By Greg Bishop)
• These NFL teams have the most unfair schedules in 2019. (By Conor Orr)
Which General Managers Face the Most Pressure at the Draft?
General managers can, generally, survive handing out a few bad contracts. What eventually catches up to most every GM that gets fired are bad draft classes that pile up.
With a hard salary cap, there’s virtually no way to compete in the NFL without drafting well and getting quality players on relatively cheap deals. More than free agency or the trade deadline, next week’s draft is the most important period for a team’s roster building.
Because of that, let’s look at the five NFL GMs feeling the most pressure heading into Thursday night. — By Jonathan Jones
5. Dave Gettleman, New York Giants
You could make the argument Gettleman should be higher on this list and I’d hear you. A year after mocking draftniks following his Saquon Barkley pick, Gettleman sent away one of the best receivers in the NFL and may not replace his aging quarterback. New York owns four picks in the top 95, including two in the top 17. People will lose their minds if Gettleman doesn’t take a QB with one of those picks, but something tells me he really doesn’t care what you think about his plan.
4. Jason Licht, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The sixth-year GM hasn’t been to the playoffs since he took charge the Bucs in 2014. He’s on his third coach in that time and has a major decision to make regarding any possible long-term deal with former No. 1 pick Jameis Winston. He’s also the third GM on this list who survived a coach firing in January. His contract runs through the 2019 season, and his future is probably tied to immediate success more than what this draft eventually bears in three years. But these work hand-in-hand, and the Bucs own three picks in the top 70, including the fifth overall spot. That’s one spot ahead of the future-quarterback-needy Giants, and Licht could get a nice ransom for that pick.
3. David Caldwell, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags have a top-10 pick for the 11th time in 12 years. Caldwell had a great draft class in 2016 getting Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue in the first 69 picks of the draft. In 2019, the Jaguars once again have three picks in the first 69 selections. Caldwell, Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone were all extended following the AFC title game run in 2017, but last season was so disastrous that owner Shad Khan had to publicly state the trio would be back for the 2019 season. Add in the fact the Jaguars will be eating dead money in that terrible Blake Bortles contract this season and Caldwell really needs to position this team well next week for the upcoming season.
2. Mike Maccagnan, New York Jets
This will be Maccagnan’s fifth draft and he similarly outlasted his fired coach last season. Sam Darnold obviously needs to take a step up in his sophomore campaign, and Maccagnan surrounded him with solid weapons in Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder and, of course, Le’Veon Bell. Credit where it’s due. Now, if Maccagnan opts against taking one of the draft’s top defenders—Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams—at No. 3, can he wiggle out of the third overall pick and get more assets in return? The Jets don’t pick again until 68 by virtue of the trade that netted them Darnold last year. There’s a fresh feeling in town with the free-agent acquisitions and new uniforms, and Maccagnan needs to hit on this draft.
1. Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals
There’s no close second here. The general thought as we sit here today is that Keim will take Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick. If he does, he still needs to hit on No. 33 and 65 and pull off a successful trade for Josh Rosen. If he doesn’t, well…that means a lot of things. He would have traded down and should have brought in a haul for the No. 1 pick. Or he took Nick Bosa and decided to roll with Rosen in 2019. But Keim’s on a short leash here based off recent history. He’s overseen a lot of first-round misses since taking over in 2013, and whatever juice he had from the 2015 NFC title game run—the last time Arizona made the playoffs—has to be dry by now. He survived last season even though first-year head coach Steve Wilks didn’t. If this draft and subsequent season don't yield fruit in the desert, Keim will be counting the days until Black Monday.
Vault Photo of the Week: Oh, Browns
There's... there's just a lot going on here. Both Tim Couch and Akili Smith are wearing Browns jerseys (or at least lookalikes) before the draft. Between them is Browns fan John "Big Dawg" Thompson sporting an apocalyptic dog head while wearing freakish orange gloves and holding an outsized chew bone. Then there's that question tucked away in the top-right corner: Is This the Best Quarterback Class Since '83?
Ha. The 1983 draft featured three future Hall of Fame QBs in the first round. Syracuse's Donovan McNabb, the eventual No. 2 pick between Couch and Smith, panned out. As for Couch and Smith and Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown? Not quite Hall of Famers.
SI's Peter Read Miller shot this cover.
Best of the Rest
Editor's note: Below are some of our favorite stories of the week not published by SI. This week's list is curated by Jonathan Jones.
• ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler dives into all the hidden costs behind getting prospects ready for the NFL. Sometimes that bill can reach six figures.
• Really enjoyed this fascinating look by Elizabeth Williamson and Kenneth P. Vogel of the New York Times on the battle Bernie Sanders and Neera Tanden, a Clinton loyalist.
• Biting commentary from The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan on the parents involved in the college admissions scam.
• The AFF is bankrupt, but before it went under it had the Arizona Hotshots. Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic did a great job talking to families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots tragedy about the team’s nickname.
• A rather dense but lightly redacted piece by Robert S. Mueller III on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The NFL Draft (Beer) Guide
With the draft arriving in Nashville next week, get a taste of the city's craft brewery scene with these beers.
1. Jackalope Brewing Co.
Bear Walker | Maple Brown Ale
This caramel-colored brew is infused with maple syrup, a nod to the brewmaster's Vermont roots that shines through. Strong hops balance out the sweetness.
2. New Heights Brewing Co.
Navel Gazer | Stout—Imperial/Double
With a 9.25% ABV and 85 IBU, this dark imperial stout—with a toasty aroma and dark chocolate notes—isn't so much a beer to crush but rather one to savor.
3. Nashville Brewing Co.
Original Lager | Bavarian Helles
This traditional lager, made with German grains and hops, is bright and approachable, an easy drinker for a summer day listening to some country.
4. Bearded Iris Brewing
Ever Clever | Double Dry-Hopped IPA
The fresh, floral aromas come bursting through in this slightly citrusy double IPA. But don't be fooled: This creamy, drinkable beer packs a serious punch (8.5% ABV).
5. Fat Bottom Brewing Co.
Wallflower | Spring Saison
This fruit-forward seasonal beer, offered from March to May, pours pink-orange and carries notes of pear, giving it a refreshing sweetness that covers a 6.4% ABV.
6. East Nashville Beer Works
Brut Willis | Brut IPA
This crisp and dry IPA is aptly named: It pours like champagne and delivers a crowd-pleaser. Muted flavors and a clean finish means it goes down easy, an ideal ballpark drink.
Editor's note: What kind of stories and content would you like to see in the Weekend Read? Let's chat at SIWeekendRead@gmail.com.