Friday, May 30, 2014

The 8 Things I'll (Try To) Teach My Daughter


[This post has nothing to do with sports. Deal with it, or click away now.]

Today is my daughter’s second birthday. I have had a pretty great life, blessed with an incredible family, unbelievable friends, and a great wife just to name a few. But, she has to be the best gift I’ve ever gotten.

I figured this was as fitting a day as ever for this post…

A few months back, I read a post by Texans RB Arian Foster on the things he plans to teach his daughter. The first three items below are his (italics), and the rest are mine. If she learns just these things from me, I'll be content.

1. Happiness. This is probably the most cliché virtue on the list but the most pivotal to her success. She needs to understand that "success" is a voyage, not an "x" on a map. I believe strongly that smiles are contagious, so I fill my home with as much laughter as possible. I do this in hopes that this mindset bleeds into her heart.

2. Kindness. It is a virtue that you must have if you are around me. Negative energy sucks the life out of people, and we're here to smile! You must treat people kindly. No one is any better than you are and you are no better than anyone else. We are all doing the best we can to figure out this thing we call life, so humble yourself to the fact that you know very little. I'm no different. I know very little, but I do my best to learn. I've learned things from a man with a PhD, a man who lived under a bridge, and a child. Treat everyone with kindness. It goes a long way. I was taught that people will rarely remember what you tell them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. In that same breath I'll let her know not to let people take advantage of her. Weak people prey on weak people. I'm not into the turning-the-other-cheek business. I firmly believe there are times when people must stand their ground. Pick your battles wisely, but don't initiate any unwarranted hate. 

3. Men and her worth. (loads shotgun) A sore subject for any man with a daughter. There will be a day when I give her away, and they say that a woman spends her life looking for her father in her groom, so until that day I will try to be the example of a man that she eventually will seek out. Men tend to be motivated by one thing. Don't fall victim to a prince charming. If he cares for her, he'll act accordingly. If not (aims shotgun), well, I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

4. Be honest even if no one is watching. Honesty and trust are two of the most difficult things to repair or rebuild. Stay honest at all times, and you won't have to worry.

5. Don't live every day like it's your last but like it will be your best. If I knew my last trip around the sun was coming soon, I would probably do some stupid things, but if I expected every day to be my best, I think I would have a contagious optimism about me, almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Look forward to something every day. Have short term and long term goals that interest you. Find a hobby, find your calling, find something, find many things. Just have something that keeps you motivated and enjoying life daily.

6. How to have a catch. I would be a failure if I couldn’t teach my daughter how to throw and catch. The rest of these are lifelong-type goals, but I'm hoping we can cross this item off the list by the time she’s three.

7. Keep life in perspective. Few things in life are as big a deal as they might seem initially. Break ups, failed tests, rejections, they are all going to happen. Treat them like speed bumps and not walls. Learn from them, and move on.

8. Don't hold grudges. Someone once told me, “you wouldn’t care what other people thought of you if you realized how seldom they do.” There will be people in the world you won't like. It's inevitable, but people who you don't like won't think about you very much so don't waste time thinking about them. It takes a lot of energy to stay mad at someone. Just let it go. That being said, if someone continues to give you a hard time, stick up for yourself (I would also be happy to do it for you).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

15 Best Undrafted Free Agents



WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers, Saints
S Craig Loston, LSU, Jaguars
WR Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State, Titans
DT Anthony Johnson, LSU, Dolphins
OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee, Vikings
DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas, Seahawks
CB Chris Davis, Auburn, Chargers
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford, 49ers
OT James Hurst, North Carolina, Ravens
C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, Titans
QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina, Browns
LB Max Bullough, Michigan State, Texans
CB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida, TBD
RB Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State, Broncos
WR Damian Copeland, Louisville, Jaguars

The top five on this list will start multiple games this season.

Friday, May 9, 2014

NFL Draft: Round 1 Thoughts

Things I'm Feeling:

-Nailing four of my 11 picks in the final mock draft.
-Being an early proponent of Mike Evans to Tampa Bay.
-The Jets having a shot at Marqise Lee in the second round.
-The Dolphins and Patriots reaching in a big way for their first round picks, and the Bills sacrificing next year's first rounder to move up for Sammy Watkins. 
-The Rams defensive line with the addition of Aaron Donald.
-MAC Football. Behind the SEC (3), they have the most top 5 picks in the last two drafts (2). Jimmie Ward, the 30th selection tonight, is also a MAC product.
-The 2014 Saints. They are making a run at the Super Bowl this year, and Brandin Cooks certainly helps.
-Louisville Safety, Calvin Pryor's #25 Jets jersey will replace my Louisville Safety, Kerry Rhodes' #25 Jets jersey
-CJ Mosley just seems like a Ravens / Ozzie Newsome kind of player.


Things I'm Not Feeling:

-Blake Bortles in Jacksonville. I had huge hopes for this guy, but that's an ugly situation to step into.
-Eric Ebron to the Lions. Defense should have been the focus, not a glorified tight end/wide receiver.
-Do the Steelers ever draft first rounders that don't play linebacker? I like Shazier but there has to be other areas of need.
-The 2015-beyond Saints. See above, but the price of making a run this year comes at a cost down the road. That Jairus Byrd contract in particular will be a tough one to swallow.
-No running backs being taken on Day One. Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill are first round talents.
-Johnny Football would be a huge improvement over GenoVick.



Best Available:

1. Marqise Lee
2. Cyrus Kouandjio
3. Stanley Jean-Baptiste
4. Jeremy Hill
5. Carlos Hyde
6. Jimmy Garoppolo
7. Jace Amaro
8. Jordan Matthews
9. Xavier Su'a-Filo
10. Cody Latimer
11. Lamarcus Joyner
12. Louis Nix
13. Ra'Shede Hageman
14. Scott Crichton
15. Kyle Van Noy

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NFL Draft: Three Bold Predictions‏

The Sports Banter

1. None of the top 10 picks will be traded from this point forward (Rams already own the Redskins pick). For all the talk about teams moving up or down and about loving certain players, I think it's all a smokescreen. The price of moving up at the top of the draft is just too high for any team to sacrifice the picks that are now expected.

2. Jeremy Hill will be the first running back selected. I said earlier in the week that I think Carlos Hyde and Hill were the two best running backs in this class, but I think the consensus right now has Hill as the fourth or fifth back. I think a team will fall in love with his size/speed combo and grab him in the middle of round 2.

3. Aaron Donald will be a top 5 pick. Since I already predicted no trades would happen in the top 10, I'm looking at you, Oakland. The Raiders always do crazy things in the draft. Always. It wouldn't be a first round if they took a player everyone expected them to take. Donald seems like their type of player.


Rick

1. The Buffalo Bills trade up to select Sammy Watkins. Watkins has been connected to pretty much every team in the draft since the college football season ended. The Bills need weapons and they're one of many teams in love with Watkins. I have inside information Watkins was at a draft party hanging out with Andre Reed all night. Just connecting dots.

2. There will be at least 5 trades in the top 16. The rookie pay scale has drastically changed Draft Day. Teams are no longer scared to take chances on guys earlier in the draft, swings and misses are no longer decade long mistakes for organizations. If teams want a guy, they'll go get him. I expect a flurry of trades tomorrow night. But not for a certain position.

3. No quarterbacks will be taken in the top 10.
None of these QB's are rated highly on anyone's boards, that's a fact. If you went best player available you wouldn't see a QB off the board until the 20's. No team wants to burn a 1st round pick on a QB they could get on day 2. The difference between the media's top 3 and the next 4-5 QB's isn't that drastic. QB needy teams aren't going to panic this year, not a great QB class.


Coop

1. No quarterbacks go in the top 10 picks. There are no home run picks at quarterback, and there is a slim chance that the teams at the top of the draft choose the best player available rather than draft for need. 

2. The 49ers trade up to take Mike Evans. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) They have 11 draft picks this year, 2) They need another playmaker at WR, and 3) They are feeling the heat from the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. Rumor has it that they have an interest in Odell Beckham Jr., but they would be making quite a statement trading up for Evans who is a potential matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

3. A personal favorite, 3 Notre Dame players go in the first round. This may not be as big a reach as I think, but Louis Nix III, Stephon Tuitt, and Zack Martin all hear their names called on Day 1. Would be a tremendous showing for the Irish on draft day.

Mock Draft 2.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part II)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jaguars (Rick): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
4. Browns (Coop): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
5. Raiders (TSB): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
6. Falcons (Rick): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Vikings (Coop): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
9. Bills (Rick): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
10. Lions (TSB): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
11. Titans (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
12. Giants (Rick): Zach Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame
13. Rams (Coop) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
14. Bears (TSB): Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt
15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, VT
16. Cowboys (Rick): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

17. Ravens (Coop): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU – After finishing 27th in the league in passing the Ravens addressed their need at WR by signing Steve Smith, but he is 34 and just isn’t the dynamic playmaker that he used to be. They could use another young burner opposite Torrey Smith, and Beckham has the skill set to jump right into the rotation from day one and produce. Joe Flacco will have a field day with the speed that Beckham and Smith bring to the table.

18. Jets (TSB): Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina - I would have loved if Beckham fell one more spot, but grabbing Ebron is nice consolation. The Jets need playmakers (echo, echo, echo). They added Eric Decker and Chris Johnson which was a very nice start, but it's time to give GenoVick another weapon. Ebron will create mismatches all over the field. Adding Ebron and another wideout later in the draft could make this offense... potent. Never thought I'd say that after watching this team the last three years.

19. Dolphins (Rick): CJ Mosley, MLB, Alabama - Miami is obliterated along their offensive line, contingent they use a second round pick on a versatile lineman who can compete at RT or inside at guard, this is a solid pick. This pick also fills a need while not over drafting for it. This is a great spot for the dolphins to trade back but Mosley represents great value and can start in the middle right away. This will allow Dannell Ellerbe to kick back outside where he's most effective.

20. Cardinals (Coop): Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville – There is a hole on the back end for the Cardinals who are potentially losing Yeremiah Bell to free agency. Pairing Pryor, Mathieu, Peterson, and Cromartie in the Arizona secondary gives the Cardinals one of the best secondaries in the league. Pryor is an intimidator on the  back end, delivering huge hits and putting fear into the hearts of the receivers crossing the middle. His tackling ability will also be a huge asset in defending against the run.

21. Packers (Rick): Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State - The Packers have had a hole in the middle of their defense for a while, it's been hidden by names. AJ Hawk sounds good, but he's average, and he hasn't been able to shoulder the load since Desmond Bishop moved on. Shazier is a freak athlete who can make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. They don't have a sideline to sideline LB. As much as Clay Matthews is a terror, he's primarily used to rush the passer. Shazier can take care of the back end while Matthews does his thing. It's a good move in a division that has to worry about pass catching RB's like Reggie Bush and Matt Forte. Oh and guys like Adrian Peterson. That 4.36 40 time sounds pretty good right now.

22. Eagles (TSB): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - Lose Desean Jackson, replace him with a younger cheaper version that might turn out to be just as good. Seems like good roster management to me (aside from getting nothing of value back in return from D-Jax, that is).

23. Chiefs (Coop): Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Consider me an optimist, but Lee is exactly what the Chiefs need in this draft.  Before this past season, Lee was the consensus #1 WR in college and a lock to go at the top of the first round. What followed was a truly lackluster campaign which was marred by injuries and a terrible quarterback situation. It isn’t hard to envision him returning to the 2012 form that made him a Heisman front runner. Alex Smith would certainly love drafting a player who can take a safe pass and turn it into a huge gain at any time.

24. Bengals (Rick): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State - The perennial "he has a record so he should fit right in" pick for the Bengals. Roby has all the tools to become the best CB in this class, but recent off the field issues have his stock falling a bit. The Bengals top CB is coming off his second ruptured Achilles in the last 3 years and their other corner is on the wrong side of 35. Their 2012 first rounder, Dre Kirkpatrick is fueling the reputation of Alabama defenders who come into the NFL with more hype than production, he's been toying with the "bust" label. Roby fills a need here for the Bengals who are real thin at CB.

25. Chargers (TSB): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU - Aside from Eric Weddle, this secondary is pretty abysmal. I don't think it's reasonable to expect to beat Peyton Manning twice a season when Shareece Wright and Crezdon Butler are your starting corners. Verrett becomes a Day 1 starter.

26. Browns via Colts (Coop): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St. – This is not David Carr 2.0, mostly because this situation is drastically better to be walking into. David walked into an awful situation in Houston where he was sacked so many times that he couldn’t remember who he should be throwing to. The Browns now have 2 dynamic playmakers at WR, a very versatile RB, a top TE, and dominant offensive line. To me that sounds like the best possible situation for a rookie quarterback to be walking into. Carr has the arm strength to deal with a Cleveland winter, could be exactly what the Browns need to make the next step towards being a playoff contender.

27. Saints (Rick): Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana - The Saints lost a reliable target in Lance Moore this offseason and don't have much quality depth at the WR position for a pass happy offense. Latimer has seen his stock rise steadily since his pro day. His 23 reps at the combine showed off his strength (led all receivers and beat some lineman), he's a big strong receiver that could complement Kenny Stills who is the primary deep threat. He'll learn from and eventually replace Marques Colston. He's a former basketball star much like someone else on this team.... What's up Jimmy Graham?

28. Panthers (TSB): Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt - Carolina does not have a wide receiver on their roster that caught a pass for them last season which is amazing. It's time to address that need to give Cam Newton a weapon outside and Matthews is the top guy on my board at the position.

29. Patriots (Coop): Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame – Vince Wilfork re-signed a one year agreement, but nobody knows how effective he will be coming off an Achilles injury. Nix gives the Pats some depth and most importantly a future stalwart on the defensive line. He is about as athletic a man at 360 pounds as you are going to find, and will be a nightmare for opposing teams to block.

30. 49ers (Rick): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU - Big, strong, productive, fast. Everything you want in a WR. The 49ers will most likely move up to grab one earlier, but Benjamin presents decent value late in the first round. Shares the same alma mater as Anquan Boldin, he'll undoubtedly learn a lot from his new teammate. Kaepernick will love have a huge target who can win on contested deep balls. Benjamin will work well on the other side of Crabtree with Boldin in the slot and Davis over the middle.

31. Broncos (TSB): Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin - Just a solid football player through and through that would start right away on a team in need of a youth infusion on defense. Safe pick, if not a superstar.

32. Seahawks (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - I don't have a great justification for this pick, but the Seahawks do some things that don't always make sense on draft day but work themselves out eventually. Maybe they run into trouble trying to re-sign Russell Wilson. Maybe the undersized Wilson gets hurt. Who knows but it's never a bad thing to have additional resources at the most important psition in sports.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mock Draft 2.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part I)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - Nothing's changed here. Clowney has the most talent of anyone in this draft, and I’m not a huge believer in any of the quarterbacks in this class (although I did consider Johnny Football here since he already dominates the state of Texas). Only two teams in football finished the 2013 season with fewer sacks than Houston which is especially amazing considering they had JJ Watt playing for them. The Texans are also about to lose DE Antonio Smith, who finished third on the team in sacks last season. I think Watt will keep Clowney plenty motivated (something that scouts are worried about right now), and they will be among the league leaders in sacks next season. He makes the entire defense better including the secondary which finished with a league-worst seven interceptions last year.

2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Trade this pick. Trade this pick. Trade this pick. Okay, if that doesn’t work take Greg Robinson. As mentioned in the previous mock, he is the best tackle in the class for a line that has more than a few question marks.  The Rams finished 30th in the league in total offense and have needs all over, but the quickest way to compete in the NFC West is to bolster the line and protect Sam Bradford.  There is temptation to take Sammy Watkins here, however a franchise tackle is too good to pass up.

3. Jaguars (Rick): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - Some consider Mack the safest pick this year. Each year that picks falls because it may not be the sexy or popular pick, but Mack has the tools to be a perennial Pro-Bowler. The Jags need pass rushers, dead last in the NFL in sacks with 31, Jason Babin isn't the answer. It will be hard to pass on Sammy Watkins considering Justin Blackmon is a J-Walking ticket away from a year long suspension but Mack will be a consistent game changing player for them and they have none of those on defense.

4. Browns (Coop): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – There are no sure fire lock quarterback picks in this year’s draft. So rather than rolling the dice on another potential bust signal caller with this pick, the Browns can select another dynamic wide receiver. Teaming Watkins with Josh Gordon, Ben Tate, and Jordan Cameron gives them arguably the best set of weapons in the AFC.  With the luxury of a 2nd pick in the first round, the Browns can afford to put off addressing their QB situation for another 22 picks and still find a long term solution.

5. Raiders (TSB): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M - "Nah, we're all good here. Matt Schaub is our QB." Wait, no one has actually said that except maybe the Texans last year which is a pretty god reason they are picking at the top of the draft this year. Oakland needs a franchise player. Manziel is boom or bust but at least he has boom potential which can't be said for most of the rest of this organization especially the aforementioned Schaub. As I wrote in the last mock, the QB situation has been the black hole of the Black Hole since Rich Gannon left. Just listen to some of these names that have lined up under center since 2004: Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Jamarcus Russell, Dante Culpepper, Andrew Walter, Kerry Collins. And it’s not like these guys were backups. Each of them led the Raiders in passing at least once in the last decade. Yikes. Manziel can change all of that and sell some jerseys.

6. Falcons (Rick): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - Despite assault charges against him stemming from a ruckus in December, the Falcons need to take Lewan here. They need major help at OT and you can't go wrong protecting your prized QB. They had woeful O-Line play last year and as his rap sheet indicates he has a real mean streak that the Falcons could use up front.

7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - I am pretty sure I was the first time one to come up with the Evans-to-the-Bucs idea so I'm sticking with it. He is V-Jax 2.0. Is it crazy to have two of the identical players on a team? I can't think of a great reason why that would be a bad thing if that player is incredibly gifted and creates all types of mismatches. V-Jax 1.0 is 31 years old. He's not playing in the Not For Long forever. This will be a passing of the torch eventually, but for now, gimme both of them.

8. Vikings (Coop): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – Bortles is a prototypical NFL QB who immediately cleans up the mess at QB in Minnesota. He walks into an ideal situation where he can rely on Adrian Peterson and the running game very much like Mark Sanchez did in his first few years in New York. The difference here is that Bortles should be able to get more out of his tools with the talented trio of Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph lining up around him.

9. Bills (Rick): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M - The Bills gave up 48 sacks and 108 QB hits last season. That combination ranked 29th in the NFL last season. That's with two mobile and athletic QB's that started for them last year. Their offensive line is in shambles, Matthews would be a great value and need pick at #9.

10. Lions (TSB): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State - Three of my four picks have been repeats proving once again the NFL needs to move the draft back to its normal time in April. At this point teams will be guilty of paralysis by analysis. From last mock: Dennard paired with 2013 second round CB Darius Slay could give some stability to a secondary unit in desperate need of it. The Golden Tate signing alleviates the need to address the wide receiver position, not to mention that offense isn't the problem in Motown. This makes too much sense not to happen.

11. Titans (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. – Gilbert is a long, fast corner who can hold his own in press coverage against some of the bigger NFL wide receivers. There is no issue with his production either, he led the Big 12 in interceptions in 2013 and returned 2 of them for touchdowns. The point where he stands out above the rest is his return ability. In his 3 years at Oklahoma State, Gilbert returned 6 kicks for touchdowns which is just 1 shy of the NCAA record shared by CJ Spiller. If everything lines up properly, his game is very close to that of Patrick Peterson.

12. Giants (Rick): Zach Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame - I've heard nothing but immense praise for Martin since the "silly season" started and that's hard to do. Scouts are calling him by far the safest pick in the draft. The Giants treasure versatility and Martin is dripping with it. He plays inside and outside at above average levels and is expected to be a stud interior lineman in the NFL. With depth questions along with an aging Chris Snee coming off hip surgery and openly contemplating retirement, this is a big pick for the Giants. Paired with last years first rounder Justin Pugh, the Giants have a young and impressive core along the line for the first time in years.

13. Rams (Coop) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – This is a kid who earned playing time at Alabama as a true freshman in 2011, won 2 national championships, and most importantly has the best name in the draft. The only blemish on his resume is a two-game suspension for violating team rules, but he returned to top form after his brief absence. Ha ha has great range and should be an immediate help a St. Louis unit that finished in the middle of the pack in 2013.

14. Bears (TSB): Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt - Chances of this happening on Draft Day are very remote because I think he'll be long gone, but if it does happen, this is a nice fit and a big win for Chicago. Donald just makes plays, repeatedly.

15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, VT - Physical corner that Mike Tomlin covets. Pittsburgh has had a deep roster for a long time but have neglected it for too long and it's caught up. The secondary was once the strength of this team but they need an overhaul of youth. This is a good start.

16. Cowboys (Rick): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - I'm not as high on Barr as some people, but Dallas needs to replace Demarcus Ware so the one dimensional Barr isn't a bad fit. He's fast off the edge and should fit into a situational speed rushing role immediately.

My Ideal Jets Draft

1 (18) - Odell Beckham Jr, WR, LSU
2 (49) - Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska       
3 (80) - Troy Nicklas, TE, Notre Dame   
4 (104) - Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson   
4 (115) - Terrance West, RB, Towson
4 (137) - James Hurst, OT, North Carolina       
5 (154) - Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor   
6 (195) - Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas   
6 (209) - Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford   
6 (210) - Craig Loston, S, LSU
6 (213) - Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
7 (233) - Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pre-Draft Thoughts

-If the Rams are serious about taking Johnny Football second overall, the Jets should get on the phone to check the availability of Sam Bradford. He is not a lost cause and could be a legitimate short-term and long-term answer at the QB position.

-Manziel at #2 and Mike Evans at #13 for the Rams? Very unlikely but crazier things have happened.

-I would call the Seantrel Henderson story a shame (elite recruit, horrible college career on and off the field, quit Combine, failed marijuana test), but maybe he just doesn't like football all that much. This is not meant as a dig at the guy. It's possible that he just doesn't care. Maybe he'll find his passion elsewhere, and that's not a bad thing.

-The extra two weeks of the Draft process will make teams to crazy things, but I can't fathom Khalil Mack being taken ahead of Jadeveon Clowney.

-I can definitely envision a scenario where the top three tackles are gone by time Atlanta comes to the pdium with the sixth pick. If they want one, they should trade up.

-I still think it's funny that the National Football Post, a site which I like a lot, had Ryan Nassib as their top prospect for the 2013 Draft. Whoops. This year they have Blake Bortles as their #41 prospect overall.

-We will look back at this Draft and wonder why Blake Bortles wasn't the no-brainer top QB.

-For those curious, here are my QB rankings:
1. Bortles
2. Manziel
3. Jimmy Garoppolo
4. Connor Shaw
5. Derek Carr

-The stigma against taking a running back has gone too far. Carlos Hyde will win Offensive Rookie of the Year wherever he lands. Jeremy Hill will be a stud too.

-My running back rankings:
1. Hyde
2. Hill
3. Terrance West (Towson)
4. Tre Mason
5. Storm Johnson

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Random Thought / Email Test

Random Thought: If there was any non-Sterling-related justice in the NBA, the Pelicans would win a top-3 draft spot in this year’s lottery and not have to send their pick to the 76ers. New Orleans tried to compete this year by trading their 2014 (top-5 protected) first rounder for Jrue Holiday, but it didn’t work out. Philly put out a joke of a product on the court this season. It would be sweet justice if the Pellys could add a superstar to their lineup. Holiday-Evans-Gordon-Anderson-AD plus either Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, or Joel Embiid? Sign me up.

 

 

Email Test: I am posting this blog via email (or at least trying to). Could be an exciting development if it works.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mock Draft 1.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part III)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jaguars (Rick): Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida
4. Browns (Coop): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
5. Raiders (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
6. Falcons (Rick): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Vikings (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

See details of top eight pick from Part I here.

9. Bills (Rick): Khalil Mack, LB, University of Buffalo
10. Lions (TSB):Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
11. Titans (Coop): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
12. Giants (Rick): Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
13. Rams (Coop): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
14. Bears (TSB): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
16. Cowboys (Rick): Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
17. Ravens (Coop): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
18. Jets (TSB): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
19. Dolphins (Rick): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

See details of picks 9-19 here.

20. Cardinals (Coop): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: Forget who is getting all the media attention, Kony Ealy was the best prospect to play for the Missouri Tigers in 2013. This guy has NFL comparisons to Greg Hardy and Robert Quinn, not bad right? Ealy played all over the line and as a stand up linebacker at Mizzou, so he will give the Cardinals plenty of options as an edge rusher. Pairing Ealy with John Abraham should give the Cards a formidable pass rushing duo.

21. Packers (Rick): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - A tackle that could easily end up in the top 10 is a great value pick here not to mention fills a big need. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked on average 36 times the past 3 seasons. They lost their starting Center in free agency, the only player with a solidified position along the line. Former fourth rounder David Bakhtiari plugged in there last season and performed admirably but isn't a long term solution to protect the top QB in the NFL.  Brian Bulaga was expected to play LT last season before blowing out his knee I'm camp. As he comes back there's questions on where to put him and how effective he'd be a year after a major knee injury. Lewan can provide another option for Green Bay and potentially limit the hits on Aaron Rodgers this season.

22. Eagles (TSB): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU - A little undersized, the 5'9" Verrett played injured this season and still intercepted six passes. He's a great athlete that can solidify a weak area for Philly. In pretty short (no pun) order, he will be the #1 corner for this team. That speaks a little bit to how little I believe in Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher and how highly I think of Verrett. For what it's worth, I still like Brandon Boykin as much as I did two years ago when he fell to the fourth round.

23. Chiefs (Coop): Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Alex Smith is a game manager not a dynamic play maker, so the Chiefs have to give him some help. Marqise Lee was the consensus top WR coming into the 2013 season before an injury-plagued junior campaign. When he finally got healthy at the end of the year, albeit against Fresno St., he was able to show his dominance (7 catches for 119 yards, 2 TDs) and proved his big play ability was back.  After swinging and missing at finding a competent #2 receiver in the past (Jon Baldwin), plugging Lee into the lineup will take some pressure of Dwayne Bowe and open up a bit more space in the running game for Jamaal Charles.

24. Bengals (Rick): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - Seems to be deja-vu, undersized WR comes to the combine and blazes a 4.3 40 and watches his draft stock soar. Tavon Austin went from a fringe first rounder to a top-10 pick. Cooks won't go that high because the WR class is crazy deep this year but I think he's a better overall prospect than Tavon Austin. The Bengals just lost their slot weapon Andrew Hawkins to free agency and will have to fill that role. AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Gio Bernard and Brandin Cooks form the youngest nucleus of explosive weapons I think I've ever seen assembled on one team. If Andy Dalton can't make this work... Next years first rounder could be used on a QB.

25. Chargers (TSB): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State - I'm all over the DB's in this mock. Roby would probably be the top corner on this San Diego team by the end of his rookie season. He's talented, yes, but this is a skeleton crew the Chargers are using to stop Peyton manning twice per season.

26. Browns (Via Colts): Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame – With the luxury of #35 overall as well, the Browns can use this pick to add to a strength by bolstering the line for new QB Johnny Manziel. Martin played LT at Notre Dame but will most like slide inside to Guard as a pro, and that is a perfect fit for the Browns who have All-World LT Joe Thomas protecting the blind side. Tagging Alex Mack and adding Martin shows a commitment to dominating up front, something they can definitely use in the problematic Cleveland winter weather.

27. Saints (Rick): CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama - The Saints have never had an issue scoring points, it was stopping the other team from scoring that was the issue. Rob Ryan was a revelation for the Saints last year, combine that with the signing of the best safety on the market and the Saints defense is looking good. They don't have a QB in the middle and that's what Mosley can provide. If not for some injury flags he'd be talked about in the top 5 picks and the Saints could be getting a bargain here at 27.

28. Panthers (TSB): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State - The Panthers have no wide receivers on their roster that registered a catch for them last year. None. Zero. Zilch. Robinson is the best wideout on the board. Hopefully he and the freshly injured Cam can develop some early chemistry.

29. Patriots (Coop): Louis Nix III , DT, Notre Dame – Vince Wilfork is on his way out the door in Foxboro, and Nix is as close to a carbon copy that you are going to find in this draft. At 6’2” and 330+ pounds, Irish Chocolate is the prototypical 3-4 NT and will eat up plenty of space on the line. Despite a lackluster season (due to a rash of injuries) and a poor performance at the combine, he possesses a rare combination of quickness and agility that makes him a key contributor in stopping the running game. Finally, Nix is a high character player which is a nice change of pace for the Patriots in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez saga.

30. 49ers (Rick): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU - Seems like every year the 49ers are stuck looking for WR help as their defense brings them to the brink of a championship. Their WR corps has been uninspiring for a while now, they lack explosiveness. Beckham can change that and add an explosive playmaker to pair with possession receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

31. Broncos (TSB): Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State - Top-10 talent that was a little inconsistent and he looked gassed in the National Title game against Auburn. That has me questioning his work ethic (how can you possibly not be in shape for a the title game?), but the talent is too good to pass up on this defensive line will be scary.

32. Seahawks (TSB): Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech - He's an upgrade over Zack Miller and gives Russell Wilson another wide bodied target.


Second Round to follow over the next few days.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mock Draft 1.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part II)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jaguars (Rick): Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida
4. Browns (Coop): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
5. Raiders (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
6. Falcons (Rick): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Vikings (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

See details of top eight pick from Part I here.


9. Bills (Rick): Khalil Mack, LB, University of Buffalo - This would be considered a steal to get Mack at #9; he’s viewed by some scouts as a the better overall talent than Jadeveon Clowney. Buffalo has hired Jim Schwartz as its new DC and has promised a ball hawking and attacking defense. Buffalo ran a bit of a hybrid defense last year with multiple looks and Mack would fit right in as a versatile piece to move around. Not to mention the obvious ties to Buffalo. Not sure if that would make Mack happy or really depressed.

10. Lions (TSB):Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State - Let's stick with the local theme here as Detroit nabs the MSU product who also happens to be a shutdown corner. Dennard paired with 2013 second round CB Darius Slay could give some stability to a secondary unit in desperate need of it. The Golden Tate signing alleviates the need to address the wide receiver position, not to mention that offense isn't the problem in Motown. This makes too much sense not to happen.

11. Titans (Coop): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - Donald has dominated his college competition for 3 years in a row now, and backed up his performance on the field by dominating the competition at the combine.  The biggest concern is that he is undersized at DT, but he makes up for it by being a disruptive force on the line. Last year he managed 28.5 tackles for a loss and 11.0 sacks, those numbers don’t lie. With the Titans possibly transitioning to some variety of a 3-4, they can use his versatility and possibly pencil him in at Defensive End. No matter where he lines up, he should immediately help the run defense and take some pressure off the linebackers.

12. Giants (Rick): Eric Ebron, TE, UNC - Five years, five different tight ends. Although the Giants have been developing Adrian Robinson I'm not sure they're totally sold on him as he's been unable to stay on the field. Ebron runs '6'5 250 with 4.5 wheels. He's an incredible athlete with sticky hands and he's a weapon Eli hasn't had since Jeremy Shockey was in town. With the Giants aggressively attacking their offensive line in FA and the top two corners off the board this seems like a logical pick for The Giants. If Robinson (6'5/270/4.56) does stay healthy enough to make a leap this season the Giants will have two matchup nightmares at TE.

13. Rams (Coop): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama - Aside from having the top name in the draft, Ha Ha fills the 2nd biggest need for the Rams. Now they have someone to pair with TJ McDonald at the back end, giving them some good young talent at safety.  Clinton-Dix’s draft stock took a bit of a hit after receiving a 2-game suspension for receiving improper benefits, but his performance on the field never fell off. He could very well be a steal for the Rams at 13.

14. Bears (TSB): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville - Freak athletes playing safety are all the rage these days. Just look at how the safeties in Seattle catapulted a very good defense into the league's best. The Saints made a big move to pair Jairus Byrd with 2013 first rounder Kenny Vaccaro to form another dynamic duo. It's time for the Bears to get involved. Pryor is the best safety in this class regardless of who Coop took with the last pick, and he's a huge upgrade over the shell known as Chris Conte.

15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech - Steelers need help on defense. Yes. The staple of this team for so long has been aging and it's caught up to them. Ryan Clark is gone, Lamarr Woodley is gone, Larry Foote is gone, #43 has lost multiple steps and the once overwhelming strength of this team is now a weak point. Fuller's stock is starting to rise as evaluators start watching his film and seeing a physical and aggressive corner who won't back down to anyone. He's someone who would thrive from day one in Pittsburgh.

16. Cowboys (Rick): Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn - Demarcus Ware was cut, time to bring in a younger and cheaper replacement. Ford has a lightning fast first step and should fit right into Ware's old spot and start harassing quarterbacks right away. The Cowboys need help all over their defense which seems to be the case every draft season.

17. Ravens (Coop): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – The Ravens are desperate for help at wide receiver, however there is no way they can pass up this value pick. Matthews is arguably the second best tackle in the draft, and has the ridiculous Matthews’ NFL pedigree (Bruce, Clay, Casey). He hasn’t shown the athleticism that Robinson and Lewan have displayed, but he has been rock solid in the SEC’s leading offense for the last two years (Ok, so Auburn outgained them by 19 yards this year). After re-signing Eugene Monroe, Baltimore can plug in Matthews at the other tackle position and not give the position a thought for another few years.

18. Jets (TSB): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - The "passing" offense the Jets put on display last year was one of the most painful things I've watched in sports. It was a complete trainwreck. Santonio Holmes? Awful (when he played). Stephen Hill? Has been a bust to date with little hope for the future. Jeremy Kerley? We can keep him as a #3 receiver in the slot but not as the alpha dog. As I have been saying for years: This. Team. Needs. Playmakers. The Jets just brought in Eric Decker for a surprisingly reasonable price. He can slot in as the new number two guy. Now, the Jets need a number one wideout and a pass-catching tight end to go along with a competent quarterback. Unfortunately, the Jets only have one pick at this spot and not three. Even worse, I don't love any of the players at these positions of need right now. I would have loved Watkins, Evans, Ebron, or any of the quarterbacks taken so far, but that's not how this worked out. Do I reach for a wide receiver? No, becuase I think this is a deep draft at the position and there will be options in the later rounds only slightly worse than what's available right now. I'll take a Troy Niklas-type tight end in round two rather than reach for Jace Amaro now. I'm not crazy about Derek Carr (David Carr 2.0?) either. I'm in a pickle so I am going a little bit off the reservation and taking a defensive player! It's painful in many ways to go this direction, but I think Barr is the best player on the board by a fairly wide margin. In the middle of the season, he was being considered with the top pick. Now, he's available at 18? I need to take him here to further solidy a defense that carried this team in 2013 and hope I can pick up my playmakers in the next few rounds and in free agency (still $40m of cap room). Michael Vick and James Jones, anyone? Barr gives the team an edge rusher and replaces Calvin Pace at OLB. Rex Ryan will have him motivated and put him in position to be successful.

Will Barr be Rex's newest toy?
19.    Dolphins (Rick): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State - I love the fit for this guy in this offense. I thought quickly about Brandin Cooks but Benjamin's size cannot be ignored. 6 foot 5 inches at 240 pounds with gigantic 10.25 inch hands with 4.5 speed. This isn't a raw prospect either, he put up monster production last year scoring 15 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. Ryan Tannehill has been working with Brian Hartline and the gimmicky Mike Wallace. Benjamin would complement this WR corps and allow the other guys to do what they do best while he gave Tannehill a big target for once in his career. Wallace would be able to take the top off the defense running his fly patterns while Hartline did his work from the slot allowing Benjamin plenty of opportunities on the intermediate routes where he can dominate smaller corners on the outside. They still need to address their offensive line but can add later in the draft. Taylor Lewan may be too tough to pass up in this spot but I love Benjamin too much for Tannehill.