Have a look at the Tom Brady succession battle between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask

How could Bucs fans not be excited about Kyle Trask (l.) or Baker Mayfield at QB?

NFL content — we in sports media will scrape the entire margarine container to give sports fans just enough pigskin to butter their toast. In the age of social media, one of the best sources of extra flavor is practice clips. These days there is no need to wait until the afternoon sports segment on the local newscast for highlights. Feel free to view a bit of the Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask battle to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB1 at your leisure.

Many television producers gave a Tiger Woods fist pump when they saw Mayfield and Trask throw back-to-back inaccurate passes. It certainly didn’t make this sports writer feel sad. We are right back where we always find ourselves during the football offseason, judging something that cannot be reasonably evaluated until a few weeks into the regular season.

A couple of quarterbacks — one of whom is with his third team in less than a calendar year — have failed to put the ball directly into the pass catchers’ palms the day after Memorial Day. In some minds, it is already time for the Buccaneers to derail the train and roll it right next to likely 2024 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Caleb Williams.

At least Mayfield and Trask made it to the unofficial start of summer before some poor play went viral. Tua Tagovailoa was pilloried for a pass that he completed. Tagovailoa underthrew Tyreek Hill — possibly the fastest player in the NFL — two weeks after the NFL Draft concluded.

That video was not recorded by a news organization, it was released by the Miami Dolphins’ social media team. They forgot that one of the most criticized aspects of Tagovailoa’s game is his arm strength. The player who the organization guaranteed $72.2 million having to reach back to haul in a pass was not the way to try and hype up South Florida.

OTAs are the time for QBs like Mayfield, Trask to shake off the rust

The Buccaneers had the decency to at least let outside media release unbecoming footage as these two quarterbacks get used to a new offense and personnel. May is the ideal time of year for Trask, Mayfield, Tagovailoa, or any quarterback to have rough practice throws. Fans aren’t even allowed to attend practices until training camp begins in late July. There is plenty of time for the quarterbacks to get into a rhythm that will have the fans cheering as they watch the unfinished product look more competent.

Unless those fans didn’t have confidence once they realized that Trask and Mayfield are the two players competing to be Tom Brady’s successor. Buccaneers fans may feel some empathy for Logan Roy as they look at the future of their beloved organization. Entering the season with that lack of faith is how quick video clips from OTAs can have fans clutching 6×9 frames of Brady with tears in their eyes.

Those poor passes from Mayfield and Trask have no impact on the 2023 NFL regular season. However, those throws will weigh in the minds of Buccaneers fans and haters, bringing distress to the former and hope for the latter.

This Mayfield and Trask video is only the beginning. We in sports media are going to keep scraping our butter knives against the edges of the margarine container as we give sports fans just enough flavor to carry them through the dog days of summer.

We’ll grab a fresh one come late August, but until then your toast will be just satisfying enough to get you through another meal.

Is Caleb Williams the real deal or more fool’s gold from Lincoln Riley?

The presumptive No. 1 pick of the 2024 NFL Draft

Caleb Williams is the 2024 NFL Draft’s most anticipated gem. A perfect, gleaming, status-altering figure who’ll lift the fortunes of the team that drafts him — but also completely out of reach for now. The Washington Commanders, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints all sit in pole position in most projections, but the Arizona Cardinals trading their third pick in last weekend’s draft for the 12th overall pick and Houston’s first-rounder in 2024 was Kyler Murray’s canary in the coal mine. Caleb Williams is on the clock.

Could Caleb Williams be Kyler Murray’s successor?

Murray tore the ACL in his left knee in early December, one month before Robert Griffin III suffered the same injury during the 2013 playoffs. RG3 was ready for Week 1 of the 2013 season, but from the sounds of it, Arizona is willing to give it half a season. Like RG3 fending off the encroaching Kirk Cousins, Murray is feeling the pressure with a successor potentially breathing over his shoulder.

I’m obviously not referring to Colt McCoy. The former Texas boy wonder has been a professional understudy since 2010. And even when he has played, he’s been one of the NFL’s more fragile quarterbacks.

If the Cardinals take the cautious route, Murray would miss a significant portion of the 2023 campaign. By the time he returns, the Cardinals would be midway into a free slide into the abyss. Waiting for them will be a fork in the road, a few more years of uncertainty around the quarterback they just shoveled resources into or embarking on a new project. Even if Murray returns and flips Arizona’s season around just enough to move them off the No. 1 pick, they have Houston’s 2024 first-round pick in place as a redundancy.

The Lincoln Riley effect?

Williams is worth the misery of a lost season for Arizona. “The best prospect since Andrew Luck” and “ Mahomesian talent” have been the superlatives tossed around, however, we’d be remiss not to pump the brakes on the Caleb Williams hoopla train accelerating toward next year’s draft without acknowledging that Lincoln Riley has created more hit-makers than Quincy Jones. However, there’s a caveat associated with drafting Riley quarterbacks. Once many of them depart his thriving offensive machine and go solo, Riley quarterbacks have been one-hit wonders at the next level. Baker Mayfield was an abject disaster for Cleveland, and then for Carolina. Murray’s improvs on Sunday are adrenaline-inducing, but his preparation and overconfidence in his abilities compare unfavorably to Ricky Bobby.

Riley also coached Hurts for one season, but the bulk of his upgrades as a passer occurred after he was drafted by the Eagles. Williams’ throwing mechanics, ability to throw from different angles, and rip it with zip have already earned him high praise.

The floor on Williams is low, but he could also pan out as the Trae Young to Mahomes’ Steph Curry. That’s the gamble teams will be more than willing to take on his prodigious upside. So far, Williams checks off all the intangibles boxes as well. His equanimity in tense moments mirrors Hurts’ calm composure. In clutch moments, he consistently rises to the occasion. Williams’ 53-yard touchdown to vanquish national powerhouse DeMatha High School in Washington D.C.’s Catholic Athletic Conference championship game as a sophomore was merely the beginning of his mythology.

From there, he matriculated to the Oklahoma Sooners where he was expected to sit behind Spencer Rattler for at least one season, possibly two. Instead, Sooner fans chanting “We want Caleb,” were granted their wish by October of that season. In Riley’s offense, Williams provided Riley with a physical running option who warped defenses with his legs, flashed the potential to fling it down the field with precision and protected the ball.

After replacing Rattler trailing 28-7 to Texas, Williams scored a touchdown on a 4th-and-1 designed run and snatched the job away permanently by spearheading the Sooners to a Red River Rivalry comeback victory. He snatched the ball away from a Sooner running back who was wrapped up by Kansas Jayhawk defenders on a critical 4th-and-1 to save the Sooners. There’s a reason he’d been labeled Superman on the gridiron.

Heisman Trophy winner at USC

From there, Williams re-emerged at USC as an even more proficient passer in his sophomore season, logging a 42:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Even on a hamstring he popped in the first quarter against Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, Williams registered 363 yards through the air and three touchdowns. This wasn’t your stacked Trojans teams of yesteryear either. Williams nearly carried a roster cobbled together on the college football transfer market to a playoff berth.

However, NFL scouts are natural haters. Williams measures in at 6-foot-1, which isn’t great but leaves him on par with Hurts, and possesses a thick lower body that can sustain the rigors of an 18-week NFL schedule. As long as he doesn’t “shrink” between now and 2024, his size shouldn’t be an issue.

However, if he’s found wanting in that department, UNC’s 6-foot-4 Drake Maye fits the stereotypical requirements for a franchise quarterback and has a buzz of his own. NFL scouts who love embellishing the most infinitesimal defects, will dissect Williams and try to knock him down a peg between now and then. Before Williams’ name is engraved on the No. 1 pick, he’ll be scrutinized more thoroughly over the next year than a presidential candidate in an election year. Williams will be dissected thoroughly over the next year, but he’s aced each test with flying colors during his first two seasons under the spotlight.

Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex

What’s next for Will Levis?

Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?

Will Levis is still on the board. As we’ve noted, despite the pre-draft hype — including an anonymous Redditor saying that the QB was telling friends and family he was going No. 1 overall to Carolina — the former Kentucky signal-caller is still without a pro team.

He may not have to wait much longer. But then again, who knows? Are teams leery of an injury to his toe? Or perhaps his attitude? Or maybe GMs are sickened by the thought of someone putting Hellman’s in their cup of joe.

We know it won’t be Carolina, Houston, Indianapolis, or either New York team, amongst a host of others who draft the 6-foot-3, 231-pound signal-caller. But let’s speculate about some other squads who might.

Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?
Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?

If Kirk Cousins can’t get Minny over the hump, could Levis be the one to?

Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?
Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?

There won’t be a need to rush Levis into the starting role unless Geno reverts to his Jets form.

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They’re bound to move on from Ryan Tannehill at some point.

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Are the Falcons that confident in Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke?

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You really think Baker Mayfield is the answer?

Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?
Image for article titled What's next for Will Levis?

Doubtful, but Trey Lance and Brock Purdy (pictured) are both coming off injuries and the other QB is noted bust Sam Darnold. In the playoffs, the 49ers learned you can never have too many quarterbacks.

On Draft Night, QB Will Levis was the odd man out

Will Levis was himself and look where he landed him.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you to be yourself. You never know what people will find weird about your “personality.” I ate peanut butter and cheese tacos as a kid, but I would never broadcast that if I was projected to be a first round pick in the NFL. According to the experts — Mel Kiper and some Redditor, specifically — Will Levis was likely to be the second quarterback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the only possible reason for him to drop to day two was his love of mayo in his coffee.

General managers will knock prospects for anything, up to and including their performance on made up standardized tests. Inconsistency, inaccuracy, eye test, and collegiate success aside, I blame the Hellmans-Folgers mochaccinos for multiple teams in need of a QB passing on the Kentucky product. That has to be it, right?

When given the choice between Anthony Richardson and Levis — two guys with physical attributes that make Todd McShay blush — there has to be a tiebreaker. It could’ve been Richardson’s handspring at Florida’s pro day that won Indy’s favor, or it could’ve been the dollop of aioli they watched Levis drop into his cold brew.

Do I have a phobia of excessive condiment usage brought on by people drowning their Italian BMTs in mayo during my stint at Subway? One-hundred percent, and there’s no way I draft Levis on that fact alone, but I’m also not trying to keep a seven-figure gig that’s constantly sabotaged by bad quarterback play.

The actual reason Levis fell

We were subjected to sad Levis family for the last half of the first round because a lot more organizations are set at quarterback than you think, despite probably not having an actual franchise guy. Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Green Bay, Tennessee, and Washington all passed.

None of Jordan Love, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, Ryan Tannehill, or Baker Mayfield inspire confidence in their corresponding fanbases. I also think once the draft gets wonky — and with all the trades Thursday night, it was wonky — front offices and war rooms panic because their game plan was upended.

I don’t care if Las Vegas and New Orleans just signed Jimmy Garoppolo or David Carr to be their starters. NFL teams don’t get rid of quarterbacks they think are solid starters, and a quality backup/potential QB1 with high upside for a good value is worth bumping other needs a round. I’ve ripped Levis pretty much all draft process long, and probably before that, but even I thought the amount of adoration he garnered would make him a first rounder.

Are NFL GMs evolving? Has the success rate of quarterbacks made them gun shy? Did social media break through the groupthink that turned guys like Mitch Trubisky and Mayfield into top one or two picks in the draft?

Yeah, I don’t think so either. It’s an anomaly that Levis spent the duration of the first round at Union Station. And it definitely has nothing to do with the Miracle Whip lattes.