Jay Greeson: 5-at-10: NFL 2022 Draft thoughts, Welcome back Lookouts, Russ is ridiculously great

Jay Greeson, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
·9 min read

May 4—NFL Tuesday powerpoints

You know the drill. Tuesdays bring some true or false — right Ernie? — and some NFL conversation to start.

I am still parsing through the details and the derailings of the draft last weekend. I love the draft. You know this.

But as we move forward, let's look forward.

That's right, Draft 2022 lookahead. Because it's never too early to get ready for the draft.

Amiright, or amiright? (Side question: When it comes to underrated meaningless characters in meaningless movies, if I start with Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day, who are you going to raise me with?)

Let's look at five things that will define the 2022 Draft. Like Cinnamon to the main stage, let's get to the poll.

1. There will be a push for QBs. Again. There always will be a push for QBs, but while five teams took first-round QBs last Thursday, there still are several teams that will have questions at the most important position in sports. Philly and Miami could be in the market if their second-year guys flop this fall. We know Washington will be in the mix because Washington has needed a QB since RGIII got hurt. Teams like Las Vegas (Derek Carr) and Detroit (Jared Goff) and Indy (Carson Wentz) and Carolina (Sam Darnold) are in play-or-get-off-the-pot mode with their QBs. Atlanta talked about finding its future in this draft so next year there will be even more chatter. And then there's Pittsburgh, which will need to find its plan post-Roethlisberger. Look kids, Big Ben, parliament.

2. The names to know at QB: Sam Howell, the UNC gunslinger; Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma; USC's Kedon Slovis, JT Daniels of Georgia and according to this CBS lookahead, Malik Willis from Liberty. Yes, the same Malik Willis, who left Auburn and headed to Falwell State to play for Mr. Freeze. Got to believe Gus is wondering "What if" with that Bo Nix over Willis decision, since that CBS mock has Willis going 10 overall to Carolina. (The Athletic, by the way, has Willis going 6 overall to Philly. So there's that)

3. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but multiple Alabama players will go in round 1 next year. (And the year after that, and the year after that, and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on.) Some names to know: OL Evan Neal, WR John Mitchie III, LB Christian Harris, DB Josh Jobe, DT DJ Dale, and safety Jordan Battle.

4. Talent fight in the SEC West. The best division in college football is led annually by the best team as the SEC West has been controlled by Alabama. Well, in terms of draft potential, the West will be a free-for-all next fall. Arlkansas has supremely talented wideout Treylon Burks, and we already mentioned Alabama's star-studded cast of characters. Now know this: The single best player in the country, for my dollar, is LSU corner Derek Stingley Jr., and according to multiple mock drafts I have seen, Texas A&M could have as many as four first-rounders.

5. Again, this is looking at the various mock drafts, but here are three other teams that have a slew of talent: USC, which has four players pegged in the first round in various projections; THE Ohio State, which could have as many first-rounders as any team not located in Tuscaloosa; and Cincinnati, which has two defensive players slotted in round one, which is mighty strong for an AAC. Wait, two defensive first-rounders is mighty strong for anybody. Well, anybody but Bama.

Happy opening day

I'm stoked. Truly.

The Lookouts return to the field tonight and fans can return to the stands. (Tonight is sold out, although the weather is not looking promising. Figures.)

I would 100% have been in attendance tonight, but we have one in a concert and another in a doubleheader at Camp Jordan (again, weather permitting).

But I will be back soon to AT&T. Very soon.

For those making plans, check the stories from TFP all-around ace David Paschall, including this one about the Reds' director of player personnel saying these Lookouts will be fun to watch, especially early in the season.

Fun or flop, simply put just having a season after 2020 was washed away is critical. For the minor leaguers who need to progress. For the Lookouts who need to generate revenue. For all of us, who need to find ways to get back to the things that made life life.

Yes, since MLB is calling the shots, masks will be required to enter the ballpark and Lookouts management wants folks to wear them in the stands too. Here's a checklist from Paschall on some of the things to keep in mind about going to games.

It's part of the next normal folks, and while I'm against state- or federally mandated vaccinations, I believe it is every businesses right to have whatever code it sees fit. It's not unlike a fancy restaurant requiring diners to wear a sports coat, is it?

I am vaccinated and clear of the two-week cautionary period. I don't wear a mask outside, nor do I see much reason to. But if you want to wear it, fine, and if the Lookouts say wear a mask for me to get to a box seat with a CoCola, then pass the box, Agnes.

And if you feel that strongly against a being told to wear a mask, then don't go to AT&T. It's really that simple.

Assumption of greatness

I have long held a belief called the Ben Wallace corollary.

Remember Ben Wallace, the longtime grinder for the great Pistons teams in the early 2000s?

Wallace, you see, couldn't shoot heroin at a Saigon strip club, but dude could rebound and defend every position on the floor. He was an invaluable part of the last NBA champion without a future Hall of Famer.

Well, Wallace was perpetually mentioned as underrated. And he was. Until he wasn't.

Because when he finally got paid, he got star money and then his inability to score made him overpaid, which then changed the narrative to Wallace going from underrated to overrated in a millisecond.

I offer this because that prism is a funny thing, because right now we are a witness to all-time greatness and we're indifferent and almost immune to it because of how common it has become.

Friends, Russell Westbrook is playing basketball right now at a Wilt-like level of amazing, and maybe it's because he's doing it with Washington or maybe it's just our overall shoulder shrug at regular-season NBA.

Last night, Westbrook dropped 14 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and had 24 assists. Seriously, it was one game, not his weekend totals, because if a player averaged 7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 12 assists per game, he'd be a Hall of Famer.

Russell was twice that good last night, and became the first player in NBA history with multiple games with more than 20 assists and 20 rebounds. (Wilt is the only other player to even do it once.) He also is now just three triple-doubles behind Oscar Robertson's formerly untouchable record of 181.

His eye-popping stat sheet last night guaranteed that Westbrook will average a triple-double for the fourth time in his career. Robertson is the only other player to do it, and the Big O did it once.


This and that

— Here's today's A2 with some questions about the motives of the proposed 'super' chancery court in Tennessee. I'm against it, for the reasons I state — overreach from one branch of government, politics over policy, chief among them — but would enjoy your thoughts. Also, in the rarest of instances, my view is similar to that of Pam Sohn, the Times editorial page writer. Hope she takes a similar view when a similar issue — packing the Supreme Court — comes up on a national level.

— This is cool. Seattle receiver DK Metcalf caught the eye of the US Track and Field folks when he raced almost 100 yards and tracked down Arizona safety Budda Baker. The USTF folks sent a tongue-in-cheek Tweet to Metcalf to see if he had 'real speed' and Metcalf obliged. He will take his first swing at getting to the Olympic Trials this weekend.

— This is cooler. Amy Bockerstette, who became known in golfing circles when Gary Woodland won his first major a couple of years ago, will be the first athlete with Down's Syndrome to compete for a collegiate national championship when she and her Paradise Valley Community College play in the NJCAA national championship starting next Monday.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on Tennessee getting a Texas transfer and Jay Hardy, a former McCallie star, leaving Auburn. Why do folks get so bent out of shape about players transferring? Asking for a few million friends.

— As we noted Monday, LeBron's whiny take on the play-in tournament — a take crafted because he doesn't want to be a part of it — is hollow and short-sighted. Here's a USA Today column saying that rather than being fired — James' suggestion for whomever hatched the play-in plan — those responsible should get raises. And, for a league that annually battles tanking and late-regular-season indifference, this idea puts more teams in the mix and makes more regular-season games meaningful. That's fireable how, LeBron?

— Speaking NBA greatness taken for granted, did you see that Carmelo Anthony is now 10th in NBA history in points? He passed Elvin Hayes last night.

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday after all.

True or false, you've seen all the Star Wars movies.

True or false, Alabama will have the most first-round picks next year. (Bonus: True or false, Alabama will have the most first-round picks in 2028.)

True or false, the 5-at-10 will still be up and running in 2028.

True or false, Russell Westbrook should be the NBA MVP.

True or false, you will attend a professional sporting event (like the Lookouts) before July 4.

As for today, well, it is May the 4th, which has been consumed by the Star Wars crowd for obvious reasons.

If we take the Star Wars franchise out of the equation, what's the Rushmore of movies set in outer space?