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TMF: LA Rams Are Super Bowl Champs! Plus: 3-Round Bengals Mock Draft & Offseason Moves We'd Love To See.
The LA Rams bet on themselves and it paid off with a Super Bowl victory on Sunday night. Oh, and Joe Burrow needs help in Cincinnati. We'll cover that in a 3-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
That was some halftime show, am I right?
Overall, Super Bowl LVI exceeded my expectations from start to finish. Competitive game filled with back-and-forth plays on both sides of the ball. Oh, and the finish couldn’t have been sweeter if you’re a Rams fan.
The Los Angeles Rams swung for the fences building a roster they believed in. They bet on themselves in a big way, and it paid off exquisitely Sunday night: The Rams are Super Bowl Champions.
The Rams high-risk, high reward ‘all in’ roster construction concluded with a win in the biggest of moments, beating the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, at SoFi Stadium in Super Bowl LVI (56).
In the final TMF column of the 2021-22 NFL season, we’ll cover:
The Rams are Champs! And Cooper Kupp may have had the best season by a wide receiver in NFL history.
Joe Burrow needs to not be sacked 7-10 times each game. So, we’ll jump in and run through a 3-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft to help Joe Burrow (and Bengals fans) sleep better at night.
Offseason Moves we’d love to see around the NFL.
Ten Takeaways from the 2021-22 NFL season.
Corey’s Tuesday Morning Football column is free to all readers and will remain so throughout the season. If you like the work here at The Draft Scout, we encourage you to subscribe to support independent, ad-free journalism.
RAMS 23, BENGALS 20
As we’ve seen throughout the season, when the Rams needed it most, Matthew Stafford would look for Cooper Kupp. And on Sunday night, the moment wasn’t too big for either guy. Stafford’s one-yard touchdown pass to Kupp with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Rams.
For the Bengals, penalties in the most imperative of moments cost them dearly. The Bengals were called for holding, an illegal hit on Kupp in the endzone, and pass interference in the final sequences of that drive. The hit on Kupp looked vicious and for a moment, looked woeful for the Rams as Kupp appeared hurt. The Rams lost Odell Beckham Jr. in the first-half due to a non-contact knee injury. Losing Kupp there would have been troubling for a Rams team one score away from taking a late lead on the biggest of stages. But Kupp remained in the game to catch the game-winner from Stafford.
“That last drive was a special drive that I’ll never forget,” Stafford said after the game. “Just so many great plays by so many great players. I’m just so happy to get it done.”
Stafford threw three touchdown passes and two interceptions in the win. Kupp finished his flawless season with eight catches for 92 years and two touchdowns: rewarding his heroics with the Super Bowl MVP.
“That’s what makes this team great,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game. “That’s why they’re world champs because our best players stepped up in the most crucial and critical moments.”
Cooper Kupp’s 2021-22 season was truly remarkable. In fact, it may have been the greatest season a wide receiver has ever had in the sport.
Receiving triple crown
Offensive Player of the Year
Super Bowl Champion
Super Bowl MVP
The only other wide receiver in NFL history to accomplish all three in a career is Jerry Rice. Kupp did it all in a single season. Extraordinary.
In the end, the team that took a historically aggressive approach to roster building walked away Super Bowl champions on Sunday night. Joe Burrow’s Bengals fought hard; hard enough to give themselves a fourth-quarter lead as the game wore on. But Aaron Donald and the Rams defensive front deemed to be far too much for the Bengals struggling offensive line to handle. And in the loss, Burrow paid the price for it. He was sacked seven times, with six of those seven being in the second half.
Burrow was beaten up so bad that he appeared to injure his right knee in the third quarter; shouting in pain on the field while grabbing his right knee in distress. After the game, Burrow said that he’ll have his knee looked at when he returns to Cincinnati. But he made sure to add that there was no way he wasn’t going to finish that game.
"I wasn't coming out.”
In just his second season, Burrow proved a lot of doubters wrong. And many believers right. More importantly however, he showed the league what he’s made of.
“He’s a fighter,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said after the loss. “He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. So much respect for Joe. He’s gotten us to this moment – it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t finish it off,”
Burrow nearly brought the city of Cincinnati a Super Bowl victory. But as the saying goes, ‘no trophies for second place.’ Burrow knows success doesn’t come easy. And that making it back to this game isn’t guaranteed. If Burrow’s showed us anything this past season, it’s that he’ll be the voice and leader to drive the Bengals forward again next season.
“We are going to work really hard to get back to this moment and finish on top like we wanted to this year – We came up just short.” Burrow said after the loss.
Offseason Moves We Would Love…
Raiders trade for Saints WR Michael Thomas
With Sean Payton gone and no set plan at quarterback, the future in New Orleans is dreary. If the Saints don’t believe they’re capable of competing in the 2022 season, moving on from their former All-Pro wide receiver makes sense for both sides. As for the Raiders and their new head coach Josh McDaniels, pairing Thomas up with Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller would be a dream come true for any offensive play caller. Oh, and we’re pretty sure Derek Carr wouldn’t oppose to the idea of throwing touchdown passes to Thomas in playoff games.
Chiefs sign FA WR Allen Robinson
Not sure how it happens but it would be a ton of fun if it did. As brilliant as Patrick Mahomes is, it’s becoming clearer by the season that he needs more weapons on offense. Maybe ‘need’ isn’t the right word, but you get the point. Adding Robinson to line up alongside the likes of Hill and Kelce would provide Andy Reid with a plethora of new options on his play call sheet.
Browns trade for Cowboys WR Amari Cooper
The Odell Beckham Jr. experience in Cleveland didn’t work out well. But Beckham proved to us he might’ve been right all along. If the Browns are serious about keeping Baker Mayfield and winning with him, he needs elite talent around him. Jarvis Landry isn’t getting any younger and this team is out of the rebuilding window. If you’re rolling with Baker, give him another shot with a different star receiver. As for Dallas, you save cap space and resign Michael Gallup on a one-year prove it deal as he’s coming off an ACL injury. Not ideal for a team with Super Bowl aspirations but it’s certainly an option they’ll consider.
Packers keep Aaron Rodgers, Re-Sign Davante Adams
The best option for Green Bay this offseason is keeping the band together by all means necessary. The recent reporting would suggest that’s the plan, as of right now. It won’t be easy with their current cap situation but it’s doable. Re-sign Adams and give this thing another run or two.
Patriots trade for Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey
Whoa. This one is unquestionably in the ‘bold’ category, but it makes more sense than you may think. Even if Carolina drafts a quarterback in the first round come April, or trades for a top guy like Deshaun Watson – they need more pieces on both sides of the ball. Specifically, help on the offensive line. Trading McCaffrey now would allow them to collect further draft assets and give them flexibility to pursue the two options mentioned above. As for the Patriots, the common theme in New England is that Bill Belichick needs to add an elite receiver to help Mac Jones in year two. Well, Christian McCaffrey could help in that area too. When healthy, McCaffrey is a quarterback’s best friend at whatever position he lines up at. Patriots could trade for McCaffrey and still land a 2nd or 3rd receiver via the draft/free agency. Might be bold but we shouldn’t rule anything out with Belichick.
TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SEASON
It’s completely acceptable to say the Bengals made the right call by selecting Ja’Marr Chase instead of an offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s also completely acceptable to say that the Bengals should be flat-out embarrassed by the protection they’ve placed in front of their franchise quarterback.
Bengals finished the game with a 18% block win rate – the worst by any team in a game this season. (Via NFL Next Gen Stats)
Rams finished the game with an 86% pass rush win rate – the best by any team in a game this season. (Via NFL Next Gen Stats)
Could Kirk Cousins be the next Matthew Stafford story? May seem crazy, but don’t rule it out. The popular offseason takes will revolve around star quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Hell, maybe even Deshaun Watson, although his off the field troubles don’t seem to be moving all that swift. But two season ago no one looked at Stafford in the same light as those guys. Rumblings out of Minnesota are that the Vikings believe they can revamp and be competitive next season with Cousins behind center. But if things sour in the 2022 season, all bets are off. Maybe it’s a bold prediction, or a hot take. Either or, Cousins could help a team that has the talent and coaching already in place.
Where does Cleveland go from here? Feels like centuries ago that we were talking about the Cleveland Browns as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Since then, the Browns have:
Lost their quarterback to shoulder surgery
Lost their best wide receiver and watched on as that same receiver wins a Super Bowl with another team
Missed the playoffs
Watched a division rival make it to a Super Bowl
Kansas City needs to give Patrick Mahomes a new weapon. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are great, some of the best in the game today. But we’re seeing more and more teams implement defensive strategies to take away one or two playmakers on offense. That third option for quarterbacks is proving more vital every year. There WR market in free agency will have options for the Chiefs if they want to invest that route. If not, expect them to take a receiver in the first two rounds come April.
Justin Herbert needs to take a big leap in 2022. The talent, personality, and leadership is all there for Herbert. But something still feels off with the Chargers. Sure, the injury bug hasn’t been kind to this team. Regardless of the in-season circumstances, Herbert is just too good to not be battling Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in the postseason each year.
The Patriots should take detailed notes on how quickly the Bengals built a team around Joe Burrow. Minus that offensive line, of course. The NFL is becoming more pass heavy by the year and it’s abundantly clear a quarterback’s ticket to a Super Bowl is elite offensive weapons; solid defensive play. If Bill Belichick wants a ring without Tom Brady attached to it, he may want to consider taking a swing at trading for an elite star wide receiver this offseason.
Speaking of the goat, I’m still not sold Tom Brady is done playing football. Maybe it’s still that ugly denial phase where you don’t want to admit to the obvious truth in front of you. But I personally like the narrative of Brady taking time away and returning refreshed. Maybe even with a new team… a team he grew up idolizing.
If the Packers bring the band back together for another run or two, they should surround Aaron Rodgers with a lot more. Say what you will about the back-to-back regular season MVP, but he’s undoubtedly still one of the best in the game today. If Green Bay really wants to win a championship, it’ll be because of Rodgers. So, give him a true No. 2 wide receiver to compliment the phenomenal Davante Adams.
Brian Flores should still be a head coach in the NFL. Nothing else to add. It’s that simple, in my eyes.
Matt Eberflus has a tall task to accomplish next season in Chicago: elevate Justin Fields rapidly. It’s not an overreaction either, folks. The NFL is very much a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league these days. Both quarterbacks and coaches don’t get 4-5 seasons to ‘grow’ quite like they did back in the day. Many people, myself included, had Justin Fields ranked ahead of players like Zach Wilson coming out of the draft. If Fields doesn’t take a substantial step forward in 2022, the Bears hiring of Eberflus will be viewed as a bad hire even after just one season.
Cincinnati Bengals 3-Round Mock Draft
If you watched Joe Burrow run for his life for most of the night in footballs grandest of stages, you probably have an idea as to how this mock draft will go. The offensive line is easily priority number one, even if they manage to make moves prior to the draft via free agency. Let’s break down how the Bengals could approach the draft with sights on another Super Bowl next year.
Round 1, Pick 31: Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
No surprise picks here. The Bengals surrendered the second-highest sack percentage in the NFL this past season. Joe Burrow was sacked nine – yes, nine! – times in a playoff game. That’s simply unacceptable and in today’s game, not a sustainable recipe for Super Bowl victories.
BC’s Zion Johnson would be a superb selection for Cincinnati if he makes it to No. 31. Johnson has played both guard and tackle throughout his career and is one of the most consistent offensive line prospects in this year’s draft class. His overall strength and power to move defenders with ease make Johnson a versatile player who could start at multiple positions, even in his first year.
Round 2, Pick 63: Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
Notice a pattern here yet? We could make the argument for a cornerback here, but if we’re Cincinnati we continue the trend of protecting the face of our franchise. UCLA’s Sean Rhyan is a player that could easily rise up team’s boards and even go in the first round.
Rhyan played left tackle for the Bruins, but he has the traits and ability to play strong on the inside too. His core strength and overall balance is fantastic. The odds of Rhyan being available at No. 63 may be slim, but if he’s here, the Bengals should ecstatically run to the podium to make this pick.
Round 3, Pick 95: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee
Cornerback may be the second biggest need for the Bengals heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. Even with Eli Apple, Tre Flowers, and Vernon Hargreaves all set to be free agents, the defensive backfield could use an upgrade regardless of who stays/goes. Enter Tennessee’s Alontae Taylor, a former wide receiver who transitioned to cornerback back in 2018.
Taylor is an aggressive and physical defender at the cornerback position. His competitiveness stands out when you watch him play; he’s enthusiastic about tackling and isn’t one to shy away from contact in both pass and run plays. Taylor’s physicality and football character would be a welcomed addition to a hopeful revamped Bengals secondary.
ASK ME ANYTHING
– Why do you hate on so many NFL coaches? I know a lot of media members do but I don’t get the narrative.
I don’t like the word hate, but my unwillingness to accept mediocrity is pretty evident. In particular, when discussing young promising NFL players. Talent doesn’t always win in that league. And that’s less of an opinion and more of a fact if you go back through the history of the sport.
– Why wouldn’t Atlanta trade back and take Malik Willis while receiving further draft assets (via your last mock)?
Never said they couldn’t? Trading back and still getting their guy is definitely an option. How far Willis will fall is something TBD. As of today, I don’t see him falling outside of the top-15. And most people I speak with feel he has a shot to go top-10.
– Favorite dark horse prospect that could go in round 1?
Minnesota edge-rusher Boye Mafe is a popular riser. Not sure if others have him mocked in Round 1 yet but he could make his way there come April. In a deep class, I really like his game.
– If the Browns move on from Baker, who would you bet money on starting Week 1, 2022 season?
– Thoughts on the Titans drafting/trading for another QB?
I love the idea, especially given how relentless that team has proved they can be in the postseason. The issue I have is I’m not sure how they get it done. Drafting a quarterback in the first two rounds would indicate they’re not bought into winning in 2022. If they trade for a veteran, it would have to be a big name. Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield isn’t a massive upgrade over what they currently have at the position.
– Who’s your guy in the 2022 NFL draft? A little early but who do you love already?
These players don’t reflect my overall rankings as I have several guys ahead in certain positional groups. But, in no particular order, here’s ten guys I might be higher on than most:
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan
Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
Again folks, these are players I think I may be higher on than most. I understand fully that these players are probably loved by many. I’m more emphasizing that one analyst may have Zion Johnson as a top-30 guy when I currently have him as a top-25 guy, etc. etc.
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