Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 MLB Season Outlook

Tampa Bay 89 73
y-Toronto 86 76
NY Yankees 85 77
Baltimore 82 80
Boston 76 86

Detroit 87 75
y-Cleveland 86 76
Chicago Sox 81 81
Kansas City 77 85
Minnesota 62 100

LA Angels 91 71
Texas 85 77
Oakland 82 80
Seattle 74 88
Houston 50 112

Washington 95 67
y-Atlanta 93 69
Philadelphia 82 80
NY Mets 81 81
Miami 66 96

Cincinnati 94 68
y-St. Louis 89 73
Milwaukee 85 77
Pittsburgh 80 82
Chicago Cubs 66 96

LA Dodgers 86 76
San Francisco 85 77
Arizona 85 77
San Diego 84 78
Colorado 66 96


-80% turnover in AL playoff teams (only Detroit remains)
-20% turnover in NL (Dodgers are new)
-Really not a huge believer in anyone in the NL West

World Series: Reds over Angels
AL MVP: Evan Longoria
NL MVP: Jay Bruce

Thursday, March 21, 2013

NCAA Bracket Thoughts

*The West region does not have one team I want to put into my Final Four.

*I have a bet going with NDFuzzH8TaLose that this is the year a 16 knocks off a 1. My money is on Southern beating the Zags. Why? They have two guys - Derick Beltran and Malcolm Miller - capable of putting up monster games, and in a one-and-done situation, you just need one guy to get hot to pull off the shocker. I would much rather take the 22 points that Vegas is giving Southern, but if I need to pick one of the 16s, the Jaguars are it.

*I'm not buying Louisville as the big favorite every is making them out to be. They have one borderline first round prospect (Gorgui Dieng) and a few second rounders. As I have mentioned here before, you need at least one top pick in the NBA Draft if you want to win this tournament. Over the last 17 years, no team has won the title without a top guy:

1996 Kentucky Walker Mercer Delk McCarty Anderson
1997 Arizona Bibby Terry
1998 Kentucky Mohammed Magloire
1999 Connecticut Hamilton
2000 Michigan State Richardson Cleaves Peterson
2001 Duke Williams Dunleavy Boozer Battier Duhon
2002 Maryland Wilcox Blake Dixon
2003 Syracuse Anthony Warrick
2004 Connecticut Gordon Okafor Armstrong Villanueva Boone
2005 North Carolina Williams May Felton McCants
2006 Florida Noah Brewer Horford
2007 Florida Noah Brewer Horford Speights
2008 Kansas Aldrich Rush Arthur Chalmers
2009 North Carolina Hansbrough Lawson Ellington Davis
2010 Duke Smith Singler Plumlee
2011 UConn Walker Lamb
2012 Kentucky Davis Kidd-Gilchrist Jones Teague

Looking at the top prospects in this draft, we can assume one of these teams will win the 2013 title:

Kansas (Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey), Oklahoma State (Marcus Smart), Georgetown (Otton Porter), Indiana (Cody Zeller, Victo Oladipo), Michigan (Trey Burke), Syracuse (Michael Carter-Williams), UCLA (Shabazz Muhammad), Michigan State (Gary Harris), Gonzaga (Kelly Olynyk), or Duke (Mason Plumlee).

Not extremely helpful this year since many of these guys happen to be on highly rated teams, but it knocks out Louisville, Florida, St. Louis, New Mexico, Miami, Marquette, and Ohio State who are all top-4 seeds.

*St. Louis has way too much buzz about being a sleeper team. Don't be shocked to see them get knocked out in the round of 32.

*Surprise Sweet 16 Teams: Creighton, Pitt, and Bucknell

*Final Four: Indiana, Kansas (first two games are basically home games; don't have to travel far for regional either), Louisville (just because they won't win the whole thing doesn't mean I don't think they'll get close), and Ohio State (default selection)

*Champ: Indiana

Note: I hate that Obama has such a similar F4 to me, so I might mix things up a bit and make Kansas my winner in some brackets.

Monday, March 11, 2013

NFL Mock Draft with Ricky (Round 2)

Round 2

33. (Ricky) Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State - Could be a first rounder, bad combine drops him, but either way would fit well with Jacksonville who needs a lot of help on defense.
34. (TSB) San Francisco 49ers: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
35. (Ricky) Philadelphia Eagles: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State - Eagles went from Dream Team corners to no corners.
36. (TSB) Detroit Lions: Manti Teo, LB, Lennay Kekau U
37. (Ricky) Cincinnati Bengals: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin - Ran a better time at his pro day (shocker) with a 4.46, at least should spell The Plodder Law Firm once in a while.
38. (TSB) Arizona Cardinals: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State - The fourth Florida State player I have taken so far. Might have the most upside of all.
39. (Ricky) Cleveland Browns: N/A - Used to select Josh Gordon in Supplemental Draft
40. (TSB) New York Jets: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse - Sanchez is not the answer. Best QB left on the board; some would say best QB in the entire draft. Would be a nnice get at this spot.
41. (Ricky) Tennessee Titans: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut – Titans need help in the secondary, first round talent great value here.
42. (Ricky) Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC - Bills GM said he’d trade up to get a QB this year… Don’t think it’s necessary.
43. (TSB) Miami Dolphins: Gio Bernard, RB, North Carolina - Replaces Reggie Bush
44. (TSB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
45. (Ricky) Panthers: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M - I know his workouts weren’t impressive but geez, guy is rated as a top 10 player in this class.
46. (Ricky) New Orleans Saints: N/A - Forfeited Pick (Trying To Kill Opponents Named Favre)
47. (Ricky) San Diego Chargers: Datone Jones, DE/OLB, UCLA - Good fit in the Chargers scheme, SoCal guy, fit makes sense.
48. (TSB) St. Louis Rams: DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
49. (TSB) Dallas Cowboys: Corey Lemonier, DE/LB, Auburn
50. (Ricky) Pittsburgh Steelers: Robert Woods, WR, USC - My favorite WR at the combine, great hands – can help Pittsburgh right away.
51. (Ricky) New York Giants: Margus Hunt, DE/DT, SMU - 6’8” project on the line with a ton of upside, Giants like that.
52. (TSB) Chicago Bears: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
53. (Ricky) Washington Redskins: David Amerson, DB, North Carolina State - Led nation in INT’s, hybrid S/CB, Redskins need help everywhere back there.
54. (TSB) Minnesota Vikings: Brandon Jenkins, LB, Florida State - Love the Seminoles.
55. (TSB) Cincinnati Bengals: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State - Local guy adds depth along the defensive front.
56. (Ricky) Miami Dolphins: Jon Cyprien, S, Florida International - Miami kid, flying up draft boards after Senior Bowl performance, great fit.
57. (Ricky) Green Bay Packers: Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson - Packers have been getting by with plug-in RB’s, imagine Rodgers with a weapon back there?
58. (TSB) Seattle Seahawks: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor - Baylor is turning into WRU
59. (Ricky) Houston Texans: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech - Good value here, need someone opposite AJ
60. (TSB) Denver Broncos: Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State - Two straight years taking a skill guy from SDSU (Ronnie Hillman)
61. (Ricky) New England Patriots: Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana - Okay, time to address the secondary
62. (TSB) Atlanta Falcons: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State - Need to replace John Abraham. Gholston was a top 10 guy entering the season
63. (Ricky) San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Reed, TE, Florida - I think Reed is very similar to Aaron Hernandez, and on the field at the same time as Vernon Davis could be deadly.
64. (TSB) Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State - Heir apparent to Ray Lewis?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Round NFL Mock Draft with Ricky

Ricky and I are back at it again this year mocking the first two rounds (second round to follow Monday morning). Let's get right into it.

Round 1

1.(Ricky) Kansas City Chiefs: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - Projecting into the future that the heart condition which kept him from working out at the combine turns out to be only a scare, and he is in fact okay, then this guy can justify a #1 pick. For all the swings and misses at the top of the draft the Chiefs have made on the defensive line, this looks like the one time they can get it right. Lotulelei reminds us of a young Haloti Ngata, whether it’s the #92 he wore in college or the chaos and disruption he causes in the middle, this guy will make the entire defense better. It all starts up front and this guy can be the heart (see what I did there?) of that defense for the next 10 years.

Commentary (TSB): In a draft without a clear number one guy, it’s hard to debate this pick, especially since it’s contingent on his heart health like you said. The thing I would be most worried about if I were a Chiefs fan is the track record of drafting defensive linemen with well below average results (Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey) and worst of all they spent last year’s first rounder on your boy DT Dontari Poe.  I can live with this pick.

2.(TSB) Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - Justin Blackmon, Blaine Gabbert, Tyson Alualu, Eugene Monroe, Derrick Harvey, Reggie Nelson, Mercedes Lewis, Matt Jones, and Reggie Williams. Those are the last 10 first round picks made by Jacksonville since 2004. Aside from Blackmon, that's laughably terrible and probably the biggest reason this franchise has only one winning season since 2005.

The 2012 Jags were nothing if not consistent... consistently terrible. They scored the third fewest points in the league and surrendered the third most points. For symmetry, they also allowed the third most rush yards and rushed for the third least. A season to forget all around.

There are about six prospects I could justify taking in this position without raising any eyebrows, but Floyd would provide the run stuffer this defense needs. He's athletic and versatile, and would allow the edge rushers to attack the quarterback, something that didn't happen at all a year ago (last in the league with 20 sacks).

Commentary (Ricky): The Jaguars are in disarray. New owner with an attitude does bring some hope, but the huge miss on Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 draft set this franchise back even further. Blackmon was a HR pick last year, but he won’t pay dividends until they repair the QB position. That’s on hold for now, as this crop of QB’s in 2013 is not all that impressive. To Mike’s point, they were putrid at rushing the passer in 2012, so much so they had to claim Jason Babin off waivers mid-season just to help for a couple of games. If I have this pick, I’m looking pass rusher instead of run stuffing tackle. Look for Damontre Moore and Dion Jordan to be in the mix here with the #2 pick. But I agree Floyd’s stock is rising quick with the uncertainty around Lotulelei.

3.(Ricky) Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - The Raiders have a wealth of problems surrounding their entire football team. This is a perennial top-10 pick for a once proud franchise that hasn’t made the postseason in 10 years. Outside of the Jaguars who select ahead of them, no one was worse at getting to the QB than this bunch. To help the D-line, the Raiders need help on the backend. When you need to move your starting safety over to CB you know there’s issues back there. Milliner impressed with a great combine and solidified his status as a top corner, Raiders would do well for themselves by taking someone who can be a difference maker right away.

Commentary (TSB): As witnessed by his first two picks, Ricky shows his unwavering faith in modern medicine. Star might have no heart, and Milliner needs shoulder surgery. The Honey Badger don’t care. I digress. The Raiders can’t afford to be dealing first round picks for washed up QBs. What were they thinking with that Carson Palmer deal? Christ. Anyway, I’m minorly worried about the shoulder issue but not enough to knock this pick. In fact, I think Milliner fits really nicely in Oakland.

4.(TSB) Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - Only two teams (Chiefs, Jags) had a worse +/- than Philly. They couldn't score (29th in points) or stop anyone from scoring (30th in points allowed). I want to believe that Chip Kelly and his creative offensive mind will take full advantage of all these weapons at his disposal - Shady McCoy, Bryce Brown, Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson, Michael Vick - if he can just protect the quarterback. Joeckel will help improve a line that allowed 48 sacks (5th most) and a league worst 118 hits against their quarterbacks. He has experience blocking for a dual threat QB in Johnny Football and should be a mainstay bookend for the next dozen years. Little known fact: Kelly was the defensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins in 1993. Look it up.

Just look at that motor in action
Commentary (Ricky): On September 24, 1993 Johns Hopkins gave up 38 points to Fairleigh Dickinson-Madison. Not impressed. Can’t argue much with this pick, Eagles have a good amount of holes on their roster after they disassembled the “Dream Team”. With Milliner off the board, I like this pick. If they could only find a QB that doesn’t scramble INTO sacks, that may help their numbers in that area.

5.(Ricky) Detroit Lions: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon - With cuts looming along with the impending Free Agency period, uncertainty surrounds the Lions defensive ends. Kyle Vanden Bosch was released last month, Cliff Avril was not franchised and will be hitting free agency.. Jordan profiles as more of an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, but his freakish athleticism will have 4-3 teams convinced they can put him anywhere on the field. He had a great combine to help his stock rise over others who would “fit” better here like Damontre Moore who had a terrible combine. He can add some bulk to work with his hand in the ground or they can move him around but wherever he is on the field Jordan is athletically gifted enough where he should make an impact.

Commentary (TSB): Finally a healthy guy, I think. It’s a shame Milliner is gone because I think he would be perfect for the Lions. However, I like the addition of Jordan here. They have two studs in the middle of their line already in Ndam Suh and Nick Fairley. Now let’s focus on getting after the quarterback. Very smart.

6.(TSB) Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - New GM Mike Lombardi has written numerous times about getting after the quarterback relentlessly. Werner gives Cleveland exactly that. I won’t claim to be a scout or anything close, but as I watched this guy live, it was obvious that his motor was non-stop. Note: I’m not just saying this because he is white. Plus, he’s German and probably has a hilarious accent. Bookend this guy with Jabaal Sheard, and the disappointing Browns defense instantly gets better. I was a year early in my Browns as sleeper prediction last year (Joe Haden suspension and blowing some early, winnable games really hurt) but I am getting back on the bandwagon this year. I think this can be a playoff team if Old Man River Weeden develops even a little.

Bjoern Werner, German for " high motor"
Commentary (Ricky): The good old non-stop motor stereotype, JJ Watt fits this mold and so does Jared Allen. Just high motor guys. Love it. Really like this pick, I still think they need a true #1 receiver but their young guys like Josh Gordon really made strides last year. Considering they spent this year’s 2nd round pick to get him out of the Supplemental Draft, they better hope he continues to get better. I do think Werner is best suited as a 4-3 DE, so I’d feel better if we flip-flopped the last two picks because it’d just make a lot more sense haha.

7.(Ricky) Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - Safe to say the Eagles/Cardinals trade didn’t end up working out for either team in the long run. Kevin Kolb has been a disaster and no one else on the roster seems to want to play when given the opportunity. Geno Smith looked like a top 5 pick early last season when he was completing about 101% of his throws and averaging 899 yards/game with a TD:INT ratio of 93:-4, but he came back to earth later on against tougher competition and fell down the board. I think the Cardinals make a statement here and take Geno off the board and give Larry Fitzgerald some hope.

Commentary (TSB): Well doesn’t that just suck. Since I’m picking for the Bills, I just needed Geno to slip by Arizona in order to fall to the Jets. I actually just cursed at my desk loud enough for people to think there was an actual problem, not just that my guy was picked in a mock draft six weeks before the actual draft. Good times. Arizona needs guys to protect the quarterback before they can determine if Kevin Kolb is actually the answer (most likely not but they paid him so why not give him an honest chance). I think Eric Fisher should be the pick here and not just for selfish, Jets-centric reasons. This offensive line is a travesty. Sacks allowed by year: 2012- 58 (worst in NFL), 2011- 54 (second most in NFL), 2010- 50 (third most in NFL). Give these guys a shot back there.

8.(TSB) Buffalo Bills: Zeke Ansah, OLB, BYU - I’m pretty sure this team couldn’t stop me and 10 of my closest friends from putting up 30 points a game. Just triple team Mario Williams and we’ll be good. Despite throwing absurd money at DE/LB Mario Williams and slightly less absurd money at DE Mark Anderson, the Bills finished in the bottom third in total defense. Ansah could be this year’s Mike Mamula or this year’s JPP. Is he the workout warrior fraud? Or is he the guy that just started playing football with a world of unleashed potential? It’s a risk worth taking for Buffalo that he’s the latter.

Commentary (Ricky): My issue with the Bills isn’t so much the pass rushers or the secondary, but the middle of the field. Marcel Darius is starting to perform, Mario Williams came on late, they’ve got Byrd tagged and some up and coming CB’s. They are all ball hawks and can steal possessions, but when it matters they can’t get off the field. They need a strong presence at ILB. No, not Manti Te’o, but someone like Alec Ogletree. Yes, getting banged for a DUI last month wasn’t smart but that doesn’t change the type of player he is. And the Bills need that in the middle of that Swiss cheese defense.

9.(TSB) New York Jets: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - For the first time since 2006, the Jets have a pick in every round of the draft. With an aging roster in desperate need of an overhaul - especially at the skill positions - new GM John Idzik needs to hit on a bunch of these selections. Unfortunately, this is not the place to attack the skill position guys. If I were in Idzik’s shoes, I would absolutely trade down in the first round to grab a Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson, or Tavon Austin. That’s not allowed in this mock though, so I’m taking the best player left, and Fisher happens to fit a need as well for the Jets. After the Wayne Hunter debacle, Jets fans saw how important bookend tackles are. They open up the passing game (of course we need a new quarterback) and the running back (of course we need a new running back too). As I mentioned above, Geno Smith would be my guy if he’s still on the board because this is a QB League and Mark Sanchez is simply [understatement alert] not cutting it.And another piece of unsolicited advice for Idzik: do not trade Revis. Please.

Non-stop motor kind of guy
Commentary (Ricky): Ogletree could go here as well. I don’t think the line is a top priority even though Howard is AWFUL. With a new GM that has an eye for talent, a stop-gap can be found in FA or later on in the draft. The annually overhyped LB’s the Jets have employed have finally started getting exposed. With a $13M hit against the cap, David Harris is on the chopping block. They cut ties with Calvin Pace and Bart Scott leaving no proven starters. I’d like to see them take a difference making LB, one that Rex Ryan needs to run his defense the way he wants to run it.

10. (Ricky) Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama - This guy is an absolute tank, and if Chris Johnson is going to have any shot at coming close to his prediction of breaking Eric Dickerson’s record in 2013, he’s going to need all the help he can get. With a guy who spent 12 years as an offensive lineman and another 13 as an offensive line coach calling the shots, and a serious investment in the backfield they’d like to get going, the Titans would love to revamp the line with one of the top rated players in the draft. Jonathan Cooper is also an option, really depends who they have rated higher on their board, but they’re guards who really cares? Probably the coach, who was a guard himself.

Commentary (TSB): Really hard for me to get bent out of shape or excited about a guard, but this seems to make sense. Kind of a necessary evil, I guess.

11. (Ricky) San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - The Chargers have had their share of problems along the offensive line but it looks like it’s to a point where they just can’t ignore it anymore. Both guards are free agents and both tackles were terrible last season. They used a first rounder along the D-line last season, now they’ll have to switch their focus to protecting Rivers, even if they are two years late. Johnson is attractive because of his versatility, he’s played all over the field throughout his career including QB, TE, DE, and RT. Impressive resume and experts say he’s still raw with a ton of upside. Oh yeah and has a non-stop motor (didn’t hear that yet but I’d bet he’s got one).

Lane Johnson oozes high motor
Commentary (TSB): No doubt Lane Johnson is a high-motor guy. Just look at him.

12.(TSB) Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal - Ryan Tannehill needs some weapons at his disposal. Miami finished 26th in the league in passing, but I think a trio of Allen-Brian Hartline-Davone Bess can be respectable out wide. Allen is a big play threat and for my money the best playmaker in this draft. The Dolphins can pick up a running back later in the draft to pair with Daniel Thomas and develop the makings of a legitimate offense.
Commentary (Ricky): Because he didn’t work out at the combine I can’t say I love the pick until I hear more about his pro-day. From the little I’ve seen about him he looks physically gifted and imposing, but having watched Cordarrelle Patterson workout he strikes me as the big play and physical receiver the Dolphins have been missing for a long time. I don’t think they can go wrong in this spot but you’re 100% right WR is a huge need and they should have their pick of the litter at #12.

13. (Ricky) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - Tampa’s secondary fell apart last season via trades, injuries and suspensions. The unit needs help and needs it fast if they want to combine it with one of the best rush defenses in the league. If they can do that this team will be a tough out next year. It’s almost like an up and coming Seattle Seahawks team from a couple years ago, one which coincidentally employs his older brother Marcus. Desmond had a fantastic combine and raised his stock with solid performances in the 40 and the 20 yard shuttle, speed he’ll need to stick with the big time receivers in the NFC South.

Commentary (TSB): Might be a little of a reach at this point, but I like the idea. Seems like we say it every year, but was that Ronde Barber's final season?

14. (TSB) Carolina Panthers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee - You would be hard pressed to find a more average team than the 2012 Panthers. Points scored, points allowed, rush yards, rush yards allowed, pass yards, pass yards allowed… all right in the middle of the league. That means they can go in a number of directions with this pick. I’m taking Patterson here because he offers the best deep-threat possibilities for Cam Newton. Patterson, like Newton, transferred from junior college and played only one year of Division I (I’m not calling it the FBS) football. That didn’t stop Newton and it won’t stop Patterson. He’ll be a great pairing with Steve Smith and a nice upgrade over Brandon LaFell. This offense could be lethal.

Commentary (Ricky): Love this pick. This would make 3 years in a row of home-run first round picks. Steve Smith needs some sort of lifetime achievement award named after him, I’ve never seen a guy put up such great numbers as the only legitimate offensive weapon without any help. Louis Murphy? Brandon LaFell? Please, for all that is right in this world get this man some legitimate help! This would be a great pick, perfect complement to Smith while he still has his legs under him, but he could be done soon so this shouldn’t be the only WR they take in this draft but it’s a great start. One other need area if we go away from WR is safety, they have some of the worst in the league on their roster – look for Kenny Vaccaro to be in the mix here as well.

15. (Ricky) New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas - Biggest need area for the Saints is apparently Head Coach, luckily they took care of that this offseason by getting theirs unsuspended. But since their SB run a couple years ago the biggest difference was the drop off on defense once Darren Sharper retired. This is a position of great need for this unit and Vaccaro is the most complete safety in the draft. He’s physical against the run and can cover tight ends over the middle of the field with ease. This should be an easy pick for the Saints who need all the help they can get on defense.

Commentary (TSB): If the Saints don’t pick a defensive player here, they are masochists. How long can you go about watching opponents impose their will before you do something about it? Every pick of the draft should be on the defensive side of the ball, and adding Vaccaro would be a very smart move. They gave up 57 more yards per game than the next closest team in the league. That’s insane. Great point on the position of need too.

16. (TSB) St. Louis Rams: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - Jeff Fisher revamped this defense to the point where it’s almost becoming a strength. Now it’s time to focus on the other side of the ball. Usually I’m not a fan of taking running backs this high, but thanks to the trade last year with the Redskins, St. Louis has the luxury of taking a shot here. Steven Jackson is out the door so they will have to address the position at some point in the draft. They might as well take the best one available. Let Lacy pound the ball between the tackles and then let Daryl Richardson loose on third downs.

Commentary (Ricky): I agree with you, don’t like taking a RB this high – but as you noted they have another pick, at No. 22. I don’t think Lacy is a threat to be off the board at 22, so I would think the Rams hit a more pressing need here. Don’t forget they still have second rounder Isaiah Pead in the fold as well. The draft hasn’t unfolded favorably here for the Rams but I’d imagine they look at WR, maybe Justin Hunter to grab a true #1 type receiver or even Tavon Austin to replace FA Danny Amendola if he leaves and keep Sam Bradford with a security blanket.

17. (Ricky) Pittsburgh Steelers: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU - Profiled to plug into a 3-4 scheme as an OLB? No problem. The Steelers were uncharacteristically average at getting to the QB last season. They had one more sack than the Buffalo Bills…. Only 10 INT’s? Something is wrong here, and it could very well be age. Age is starting to show among that once menacing linebacking core. Mingo was spectacular at the combine and I think the Steelers would feel as though they hit the lottery if he fell to them here. He’s a perfect fit in their defense and with a boost to the pass rush comes less time for the opposing QB resulting in questionable decisions resulting in more opportunity for takeaways. Getting pressure has proved to solve other problems around the defense, and I think we’ll see those takeaway numbers go up next year as a result.

Commentary (TSB): How can anyone argue with the Steelers picking a hybrid DE/OLB? Their track record is way too good in this department to even think of doing that. Mingo is a top 10 talent so grabbing him at 17 is great value. Coolest thing about Mr. Mingo, as pointed out by my boy Peter King, is that he has two older brothers: one named Hughtavious and the other named Hugh.

18. (TSB) Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - Despite having one of the premier running backs in football - yes, I’m calling DeMarco Murray premier even though he’s pillow soft - Dallas rushed for under 80 yards a game, which was second worst in the NFL. Cooper is a mauler that will open up some holes for DMM and protect Tony Romo. I was tempted to take a wide receiver because of the rumors that Miles Austin will be released, but until I see that happen, I’m sticking with Coop.

Commentary (Ricky): Love this pick. I think Cooper is just as good if not better than Chance Warmack so for him to get all the way to the Cowboys has to make them really excited. Only thing holding up this great pick is their ridiculous owner/GM. There’s actually a really good chance he ruins this pick because it’s not flashy enough for him.

19. (Ricky) New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia - This is a mock draft so who cares that the Giants completely ignore the LB position? Jerry Reese will take the best player available, but who knows who that is on HIS board? I think Ogletree fills a huge gaping need and is one of the better football players in the draft. Due to off-the-field baggage, he’s slipped down draft boards, but the Giants have a rock solid foundation with plenty of high character guys to mentor a young kid. If he gets it together this could be the steal of the draft. The Giants have gone years without a 3-down linebacker to QB the defense, they’ve used stop-gaps in Chase Blackburn and a ton of late-round picks and for the most part, using 3 safeties instead of 3 linebackers on the field. Ogletree is excellent against the run and can fill a very important need for the Giants defense for the first time in a long time. Giants should be thankful he picked up a DUI last month, top ILB in the draft and rare athlete (4.5 40), a HR pick here.

Commentary (TSB): Another pick that’s hard to argue. My only issue would be with Ogletree’s size (6’3”, 232). He’s built more like a safety than he is a middle linebacker. Is he big enough to be a three-down ‘backer? Weird that anyone should be thankful for someone else getting a DUI, but in a perverse way, I see what you are saying.

20. (TSB) Chicago Bears: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford - A team can only throw so many high picks to fix the offensive line before just abandoning ship on the strategy. Instead of wasting another mid-first rounder on a tackle (Gabe Carimi, Chris Williams). Instead, they could take the best player at the tight end position in the draft and focus on the line later. Ertz will open up the offense significantly more than Kellen Davis does and give new head coach Marc Trestman more options at his disposal. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Michael Bush, and Ertz. Playmakers baby.

Just one thought comes to mind when I see Ertz in action: high motor
Commentary (Ricky): I personally prefer Tyler Eifert over Ertz, but that’s like you saying tomato and me saying…. Tomato? Whatever. The Bears are consistently overhyped every season, but from an outsiders perspective I think they have holes everywhere. I would consider taking Tavon Austin here since they’ve finally given up on Devin Hester being some sort of weapon from the slot. Austin would be a huge weapon and complement to Brandon Marshall. Just a flashier pick than a “high-motor” TE.

21. (Ricky) Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Reid, S, LSU - This is a guy who I think is a bit under the radar. There’s a plethora of talent that comes out of the SEC, so some names get lost among them and I think Reid is that guy this year. Safety is a big need area for the Bengals who have somehow survived with Nate Clements (a CB by trade) and Taylor Mays. Other safeties in this class are really one dimensional where they can stack up nice against the run as in-the-box guys but lack play making ability deep down field. Reid has more of an all-around game to go along with much better size, overall a much more solid prospect in my opinion. Academics and character off the charts as well, a very safe and solid pick for the character-less Bengals.

Commentary (TSB): Why would the Bengals take a safety when they have my uber-sleeper George Iloka waiting in the wings? Have you watched Iloka play? That guy is going to be something special … probably in the CFL but still. I love ball-hawking safeties. Look at what Earl Thomas has done in Seattle.

22. (TSB) St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - I didn’t want to give my rationale for not taking a wide receiver at 18 for the Rams because I was hoping Austin would slip here. You saw right through me. Still got my guy though. No one seems to know how this Danny Amendola situation will play out so Austin will provide insurance in case he flees for greener pastures. I wish St. Louis would have kept clubhouse cancer Titus Young too because I think Fisher could have straightened him out (see Jenkins, Janoris). The versatile Austin lined up everywhere for West Virginia including running back. There’s no reason he can’t be a poor man’s Percy Harvin.

Commentary (Ricky): You’re a natural GM over there, Mike. Got both your guys, St. Louis putting together a solid draft here.. Can’t argue this pick, Rams need weapons and that’s exactly what Austin is, keep him on turf and this guy will FLY.

23. (Ricky) Minnesota Vikings: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee - Have to like him complementing Percy Harvin, if he’s still around by the time this draft takes place.. Prototypical #1 WR size at 6’4 but could stand to put on some bulk. Has great ball skills, can leap up and make the catch. Very athletic, won the long jump at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championship. Has top end speed evident by running in the 4.4’s and can stretch a defense deep and keep them honest while Harvin eats up the underneath routes. Combined with Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder has no excuses left, he needs to start playing better.

Commentary (TSB): I love the freak athlete potential of this Vikings team. Peterson, Harvin, front-flipping Jerome Simpson, high-motor Toby Gerhart (two sport athlete at Stanford), and Hunter? Wow. This team will be fun to watch. If only they had a quarterback that could accurately deliver the ball, they might be dangerous.

24. (TSB) Indianapolis Colts: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - The Colts got shredded on the ground last year, giving up 138 yards on a game. Richardson provides the run-stuffer this team desperately needs.  A team can only go so long using seventh round picks and undrafted free agents to play defensive tackle before it catches up to them.

Commentary (Ricky): Can’t knock this pick, Richardson is great value at #24 and DT is a big need for the Colts. Like Mike said, they’ve been getting gashed for years by the run and it’s time they address that issue. Solid pick.

25. (Ricky) Seattle Seahawks: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia - Jones is probably one of the best athletes in this draft class, injury concerns as well as work ethic concerns have dropped him some – but this is far enough. The injury occurred over 2 years ago, it’s just a question of his durability and I think teams are overthinking it, guy can play. He’s a former USC guy, as is Pete Carroll, and he fits well in Seattle’s plans. They lost one of their better pass rushers in Chris Clemons during the playoffs last season to an ACL and as well as Bruce Irvin has worked out he’s horrendous against the run. Jones will fit in nicely to the system and bolster an already solid unit. I’d love to find a WR here to help Russell Wilson, but the way this draft has unfolded that’s just not gonna happen here.

Commentary (TSB): Excellent value. Jones at one point was a threat to go in the top 5. Reminds me of DaQuan Bowers who was a lock for the top 5 in the 2011 draft before teams noticed a knee injury that knocked him all the way to #51. Carroll loves his athletes so Jones will fit right in.

26. (TSB) Green Bay Packers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State - For a team that is presumed to be great, the Packers have way too many holes. It’s really amazing what Aaron Rodgers was able to do. His running game stunk. His offensive line stinks. His defense stinks. It goes on and on. I debated taking a an offensive lineman here after seeing Rodgers get sacked a league-leading 58 times last year, but he was able to produce despite that, and I think they can worry about that later. The way that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers decimated this team in January forces my hand into taking Rhodes. Green Bay needs players that can (try to) stop Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Marshall, and Percy Harvin twice a year. Rhodes won’t do it by himself, but he’s a lot better than what’s currently on this roster.

 Commentary (Ricky): When I first saw the pick, I though “Eh, I guess”, but you convinced me with your justification. I really thought Eifert would have gone here with the most overrated TE in the league talking his way out the door this season.  Jermichael Finley has been overly disappointing in his time in GB, Eifert would be an upgrade even as a rookie. Probably losing Greg Jennings as well. All yet to be seen, but like you said they have more pressing needs stopping opponents offenses in this brutal division – their offense will be just fine with Rodgers. Solid pick.

27. (Ricky) Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU – I think the Texans have a pressing need at WR, but I don’t think any really deserve consideration here. The second biggest need was once a strength of this team, linebacker. Brian Cushing is coming off an ACL tear, Brady James should not be starting in the NFL, nor should Tim Dobbins or anyone else on the Texans roster. Minter could be looked at as the opposite of his LSU teammate Barkevious Mingo, he’s not going to wow you with his workouts, name or athleticism but unlike Mingo he will get you production. Overlooked at LSU, once inserted into the starting lineup he went from an unknown to a consensus first-team All-SEC pick as well as being named the team's most valuable player in 2012. Production, not hype.

Commentary (TSB): Minter is a personal favorite of mine. I’m looking for the exact quote but late in the year, one of the defensive coaches called him the best all-around defensive player he saw during his tenure at LSU. The guy had 130 tackles this year. Just a tackling machine. Plain and simple. Love the pick.

28. (TSB) Denver Broncos: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina  - At first, I was thinking safety because if Rahim Moore could just track a ball 65 yards in the air and get a finger on it, the Ravens don’t win the Super Bowl, and there’s absolutely no shot Joe Flacco is the highest paid player in the sport. Then I was thinking that a legit tight end would make this offense even more dynamic. Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen just don’t do it for me. Then I remembered Peyton doesn’t care who his tight ends are as long as they are high-motor guys (Eifert makes sense here). Finally, I settled on the old best on the board guy and for me that’s Williams who will occupy some interior linemen allowing Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to do their thing on the outside. I think the Broncos would love it if Minter fell here because Keith Brooking is ready to start collecting his social security checks.

Commentary (Ricky): I really like this pick, they could use a guy right in the middle of that defensive line to occupy some bodies. They drafted a high-motor guy last year but his motor ran so high they moved him all over the line but he mainly stayed on the end (Derek Wolfe), now they just need a freak athlete to do work in the middle.

29. (Ricky) New England Patriots: Travis Fredrick, C, Wisconsin - As of this write-up the Patriots have these players listed as WR’s: Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Ebert, Andre Holmes, Brandon Lloyd, Matthew Slater. Only Brandon Lloyd possesses a jersey number outside of the teens, seriously. Word is that Wes Welker will test the market, scary thought. Terrible spot in the draft for the Patriots who are in dire need of a WR so no, I don’t expect them to stay here. But I have to, and with that I like them to take a center. Why not? Take a top rated guy here and you don’t have to worry about it again until 2023. They’ve become much more of a running team in the past year or two with the emergence of Stevan Ridley, so this will help bolster that run blocking. Other needs are obvious holes in the secondary, but they’ve had those for going on 10 years now, they don’t seem to care so why should I?

A team can rally around this guy's motor
Commentary (TSB): Stunning really. This came completely out of left field but since he’s an offensive lineman from Wisconsin I can safely assume he’s high motor (confirmed) and will be at least a decent pro like Joe Thomas, Kevin Zeitler, and Pete Konz before him. (Yes, I’m conveniently leaving off Gabe Carimi.) I have no official opinion of this pick.

30. (TSB) Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - This is a post-Tony Gonzalez-TD-slam-dunk. Just put it on the board exactly 1.3 seconds after the Pats make their pick of some guy we’ve never heard of.

No one will question Eifert's motor
Commentary (Ricky): Haha, excellent last couple of picks here.. Shock value at #29 was obviously what the Patriots were going for. Eifert works nicely here with Atlanta, think they’d be thrilled if he was still on the board.

31. (Ricky) San Francisco 49ers: Matt Elam, S, Florida - The 49ers have Pro-Bowlers just for being on the 49ers, kind of like the Cowboys did for most of the 2000’s even if they didn’t really belong there. Donte Whitner was one of those guys this year, a Pro-Bowler, but he gave up the most touchdowns of any safety in the NFL this past season. Anyone remember Joe Flacco hooking up with Jacoby Jones on that busted coverage in the Super Bowl? Matt Elam can come in and replace Whitner, he’s got the reputation as a big hitter and can help in run support. He’ll have to work on the same things Whitner will, but he’s younger and will cost much less. 49ers don’t have many holes so it’s worth a shot here at #31 to upgrade a slight weakness.

Commentary (TSB): Good point on the 49ers D. That whole starting lineup was Pro Bowlers but they got torched when it mattered most. As a Jets fan, I really hope San Fran is making this pick and not fitting Darrelle Revis with a new uniform.

32. (TSB) Baltimore Ravens: Nuke Hopkins, WR, Clemson - It sounds like the Ravens will need to replace Anquan Boldin barring a change of heart, and Hopkins would be a great get here at the end of the first. He’s a playmaker though and through.

Commentary (Ricky): Really like this pick, actually reminds me a lot of a younger Anquan Boldin. He’s not a prototype WR body, but much like Boldin – 6’-6’1” range with reliable hands and physical. If he can carry the momentum over from his final season at Clemson the Ravens will have a really nice set of WR’s for an insanely overpaid QB to throw to.