We’re less than a week away from the 2021 NFL Draft. I know some people don’t care so much about the draft, but I love it.

We’ll see dozens of SEC players realize their NFL dreams. We’ll either be mad or happy when our teams make their Round 1 picks on Thursday night in Cleveland. Fans will be in attendance once again!

I love the draft, and I can’t wait to watch it all weekend. Now, let’s just hope my Green Bay Packers don’t waste another Round 1 pick on a quarterback.

Anyway, let’s dive into your questions for this week’s Mailbag:


You’re Josh Heupel. Who are you picking to be Tennessee’s starting QB this fall?

That’s a tough question. I wish I could watch the Vols’ spring game tomorrow before giving my answer, but I suppose that’s no fun. Let’s speculate wildly instead!

I asked my colleague Michael Bratton, a noted Tennessee expert, who he’d pick. He said he was supporting Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker. That’s where I was leaning, too, so having him thinking the same way makes me feel much better about my pick!

Hooker threw for 1,339 yards, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions last season, so he has some developing to do as a passer, but he also adds a running element to the offense. He ran for 620 yards and 9 scores in 2020. He torched Florida State on the ground:

Heupel likes QBs with big arms (Drew Lock, anyone?), and Hooker seems to fit that bill while also adding the running element. We’ll see how he looks on Saturday, but he’s my early favorite to win the starting job.


How would you “fix” the transfer portal?

I don’t think there’s too much wrong with it, to be perfectly honest. If players aren’t going to draw a salary from the school, why should they be loyal to it? If they can’t maximize their earnings and play the free market like coaches can, I don’t want them to be punished. Lots of schools can offer scholarships, so that’s not something that should bind players to universities.

I’d say everyone gets 1 free transfer. You can also transfer freely if you graduate or if a coach leaves. The thing I’d cut down on is, especially in college basketball this offseason, we’re about to see some guys who are going to be on their third teams in 3 years. That’s a bit much to me.

I’d limit that, but then, I’d also limit coaches’ ability to move freely, too. You go from a mid-major to a power conference school? Cool, but now you can’t leave for another power conference job for 2 years. If you do, you have to sit out a year.

Is my plan perfect? No, of course not — I typed it out off the top of my head. But, there does need to be an ongoing dialogue in NCAA offices about how to make things better for all parties involved. Sadly, I don’t have confidence any of those conversations are actually happening under Mark Emmert’s watch.


Which QB not currently predicted to go in Rounds 1 or 2 of the NFL Draft would you most want to build around if you were running an NFL team?

I’m on the record as saying I think Wake Forest/Georgia QB Jamie Newman is a project a team should take on with a late-round pick. He has the size, arm and running ability to become an intriguing option at quarterback for a team that can be patient with his development.

However, for purposes of this question, sign me up for a flyer on Davis Mills out of Stanford. It sounds like I’m not the only one coming around on Mills, either:

He missed the start of last season with COVID issues, but he played in 5 games for the Cardinal and fared well. He completed 66.2% of his passes, throwing for 1,508 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Those aren’t exactly eye-popping numbers, but no one in the Pac-12 really dominated in the abbreviated season. I think he’s worth a Round 3 pick in the draft. We’ll see if any teams agree with me.


Now that it looks like this will be a more normal summer, what’s your go-to cookout menu?

You have to have hot dogs and burgers. They’re classics for a reason. Same with potato salad as a side dish. There also has to be plenty of beer, wine and whatever else guests want to drink. Those are the main ingredients of a successful cookout and then you can build from there.

A nice smoked brisket is always a good option. Just make sure you don’t overcook it like Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley did recently:

Grilling up some ears of corn and making elote has been a go-to recipe of mine during quarantine. I can’t wait to break it out and cook it for my friends this summer.

It’s going to be great to have Memorial Day, Fourth of July and other summer holidays back to relatively normal this summer!

Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.