Thursday, June 21, 2018

NBA Mock Draft and Trade Ideas

1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, SG, Real Madrid - I'm not sure the Hawks will be the ones making this selection, but I think Doncic will be the pick at 3. I don't trust rumors 24-48 hours before the draft, and the Doncic-to-the-Hawks rumors have been flying recently which makes me think it's the Hawks leaking this information in hopes that they can make a trade (maybe to offload the Schroeder contract).
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson Jr, F, Michigan State
6. Orlando Magic: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
7. Chicago Bulls: Mo Bamba, C, Texas 
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
9. New York Knicks: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
11. Charlotte Hornets: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Wendell Carter, PF, Duke - Every year a guy slips, and unfortunately for Carter, I think he's the guy this year. Why? The stigma associated with old-school centers.
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
14. Denver Nuggets: Miles Bridges, G/F, Michigan State

I wanted to get Lonnie Walker and Zhaire Smith into the lottery but did not see a spot. It wouldn't shock me at all if they land in the top 14 though.

Trades that make sense:

[WARNING: Please digest your food before reading the remainder of this post; there are some ugly contracts here.]

Knicks give Joakim Noah, 9th pick, 37th pick to get Deandre Jordan (from LAC), 19th pick (from ATL)
Clippers give Deandre Jordan, 13th pick to get Dennis Schroeder (from ATL), Malcom Delaney (from ATL), 9th pick (from NYK), 37th pick (from NYK)
Hawks give Dennis Schroeder, Malcom Delaney, 19th pick to get Joakim Noah (from NYK), 13th pick (from LAC)

Knicks get out from the disastrous Noah contract and pick up an asset in Jordan that helps them win now (he's a FA after the season). This deal saves them about $13m and makes the Knicks players in the 2019 free agent market where they can build around The Unicorn, Ntilikina, Hardaway Jr, and the 19th pick. This is a path to moderate contention in 2018-19 with more hope thereafter.

The Clippers have to believe in Schroeder to make this deal work, but if they do, they move up four spots to potentialy get a guy like Mo Bamba or Wendell Carter who replaces Jordan while also getting an early second rounder. For the record, I'm least sold on the Clippers haul from this deal.

The Hawks swap three more years of a bad Schroeder deal for two more years of a bad Noah deal while moving themselves into the back part of the lottery. Luka Doncic-John Collins-and the 13th pick form a nice nucleus for 2020. Add in a very high pick at the top of next year's draft and there's hope again in ATL.

Three team trades are tough enough so the chances it happens are infinitesimal so while we are at it, let's ADD another team:

Knicks give Joakim Noah, 9th pick, 37th pick to get Deandre Jordan (from LAC), 19th pick (from ATL)
Clippers give Deandre Jordan, 12th pick to get Dennis Schroeder (from ATL), Malcom Delaney (from ATL), 3rd pick (from ATL)
Hawks give Dennis Schroeder, Malcom Delaney, 3rd pick, 19th pick to get Chandler Parsons (from MEM), 4th pick (from MEM) 12th pick (from LAC)
Memphis gives Chandler Parsons, 4th pick to get Joakim Noah (from NYK), 9th pick (from NYK), 37th pick (from NYK)

Memphis is new to this deal; they would offload two years of Parsons for two years of Noah which saves them about $13m but sees them drop from 4 to 9. They would also acquire the 37th pick.

The Clippers move all the way to 3 in this scenario (which makes it more appealing than the 3-team trade above) while Atlanta would move from 13 to 12 as a small consoloation for taking on the Parsons contract instead of the Noah deal but also from 3 to 4.

The Hawks would have to send the Grizzlies a cheap contract (think a few hundred thousand dollars) to make this work.

Never hapening but if it did, the lottery would absolutely, 100% look like this:

1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
3. Los Angeles Clippers: Luka Doncic, SG, Real Madrid
4. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr, F, Michigan State 
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mo Bamba, C, Texas
6. Orlando Magic: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri 
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
9. Memphis Grizzlies: Wendell Carter, PF, Duke
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
12. Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma 
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
14. Denver Nuggets: Miles Bridges, G/F, Michigan State

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Draft Idea for the New York Mets

I’m an unabashed supporter of the Mets, and I’ve been itching for a perfect year where they could execute the strategy I’m about to describe. Sandy, this is the year!

First, some facts:

-The Mets own the sixth, 48th, 83rd, and 110th picks in the draft. They cannot, by league rule, trade those picks away. 
-The Mets have a bonus pool of approximately $9.6m (ninth most). 
-Teams that eclipse their bonus pool spending amount are subject to penalties. The most extreme penalty - incurred when a team spends between 15% and 100% over their allotment - results in the loss of that team’s first round draft picks for the next two seasons in addition to paying a dollar for dollar penalty on the overage. So, if a team has a draft pool of $100, and they spend $200, they would lose their 2019 and 2020 first rounders and pay a penalty of $100.
-Picks 36-through-43 and 69-through-74 – Competitive Balance picks - are eligible to be traded. 
-The Mets farm system is relatively barren as evidenced by rankings from reputable sources:
John Sickels ranks the Mets’ system 28th in baseball; ranks them 26th; Baseball America has them 25th, and Keith Law at 21. Outlook: bleak.
-Casey Mize, a RHP from Auburn, is the consensus #1 prospect in the draft by a wide margin.
-The Mets at the time of publishing this article have a 20-19 record (15th best) with playoff aspirations this season. 

Ok, now the idea:

The Mets should go 100% over their draft bonus pool allotment at the cost of future draft picks and penalty money to jumpstart the farm system immediately and obtain the best player in the draft class.

How would this happen?

1. Trade for at least two Competitive Balance picks, the higher the better. For the sake of this argument, let’s assume the Mets were able to acquire picks 40 and 72. This would increase their pool to over $12.2m. It would also give them six of the top 110 picks.
2. Tell Casey Mize that if he falls to #6, you would pay him a $13m bonus. (And actually mean it). $13m is significant because this is larger than any team’s total bonus pool.
3. Have Mize publicly say that he wants at least $13m to sign and hope that scares off the five teams picking ahead of you, the Tigers, White Sox, Phillies, White Sox, and Reds. 
4. Identify five* top talents that are considered “tough” signs because of strong college commitments or because they are two-sport guys. Every single year these players exist. This year, think of Kumar Rocker (Vandy commit), Jordyn Adams (football), Kyler Murray (football).
5. Confirm that $2m would get these guys to actually sign (and give up football if necessary).
6. Draft these players with picks 40, 48, 72, 83, and 110. 
7. Take some cheap to sign college seniors with your 5th through 10th round picks.

*An easy pivot here if you felt so inclined would be to find 10 “$1m players” instead of five $2m guys.

We need this guy in Flushing

Total cost: ~$36m ($24m in signing bonuses + $12m in penalties) and two future first rounders.

Other Thoughts:

-The Mets would be spending $24m more than expected this season; however, future first round picks would each cost about $4m each (assuming a pick in the middle of the round) so the “excess” cost here is not actually $24m but closer to $16m over a three year period.

-If you think of these five “other” $2m as late first round picks, this makes a ton of sense.

-This jumpstarts the farm system right now. Getting actual players into your system gives you more assets. There’s value to that since you cannot trade future first rounders.

-A key component here is that the Mets would get the best player in the class. Having a top prospect can represent tens of millions of dollars in surplus value down the line. The concept still works if you can’t get Mize (split his money more ways among more players), but it looks much better if you can.

-This is not a dip-your-toe-in-the-water strategy. You lose your next two first rounders whether you go 15% over or 100% over your budget. You might as well take full “advantage” of the benefit you get in exchange for the penalty being incurred. 

-I’m not minimizing the importance of first rounders, but it’s obviously harder to find top end talent once you are out of the top 10. It’s possible but unlikely the Mets will have a top-10 pick again in the next two years. 

-If the Mets signed a top-tier free agent (Manny Machado?) they would lose their first rounder anyway so the penalty would only be the loss of their second rounder in 2019.

There are dozens of permutations of this concept that I could go into much further detail on but the point of this article is to shift the mindset. 

This certainly pushes the envelope and, to me, is worth the risk. Let’s try it, Sandy.

Monday, April 23, 2018

2018 First Round Mock Draft 2.0

My final mock draft includes two trades that make too much sense not to happen.

The first: Denver ships a second rounder and #5 to the Giants for #2. The Broncos get any non-Darnold QB they desire. The Giants will watch QBs go 1-2-3 which means they are guaranteed to get one of the Chubb-Barkley-Nelson triumvarate whom they probably would have been willing to take at 2. Free second rounder.

The second: Buffalo sends their two first rounders to the Colts for #6. The Bills get their franchise QB; the Colts load up on lotto tickets.

With that, this is my best guess...

[Apologies in advance for the brevity.]

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB USC - It's lazy to just assume that any QB the Browns take will be terrible. That's not necessarily true. However, the Darnold turnover lowlight reel is way too long for me to feel comfortable with Rudy's chances at success in Cleveland.

2. Denver Broncos (from New York Giants): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA - John Elway needs a solution at QB. Rosen, for my money, is the best one in this class. He'll learn for part of a season behind Case Keenum, and then the job will be Rosen's for the next decade.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma - If I'm the Jets, I'm thrilled if either Rosen or Baker slip to #3 but not both. This way the Jets can claim they got their guy, and the guy plays with a little chip on his shoulder for being the third QB taken.
4. Cleveland (from Houston): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State - Chubb is a nice bookend for last year's top pick Myles Garrett, but I don't expect him to turn into a superstar.
5. New York Giants (from Denver): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State - Dream scenario for every Giants fan.
6. Buffalo Bills (from New York Jets through Indianapolis): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming - Time for the Bills to use those bullets and hope Allen can clean up those accuracy issues. His arm will play anywhere he goes.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, DB, Florida State - It's rare that you could feel better about picks 7 through 11 than 1 through 5, but I think the match of player and team fit beautifully.
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame - Easiest pick of the draft.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama - John Lynch will load up this defensive backfield soon enough. Minkah gets it started.
10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia - Smith paired with Khalil Mack? Sign me up.
11. Miami Dolphins: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville -
12. Indianapolis Colts (from Cincinnati through Buffalo): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State - Ward is a guy that Colts might target at #6 if they don't trade back.
13. Washington Redskins: Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
14. Green Bay Packers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
15. Arizona Cardinals: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
16. Baltimore Ravens: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da'Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
18. Seattle Seahawks: Kolton Miller, OL, UCLA
19. Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DL, Washington
20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo): James Daniels, OL, Iowa
22. Indianapolis Colts (from Kansas City through Buffalo): Marcus Davenport, DL, UTSA
23. New England Patriots (from Los Angeles): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
25. Tennessee Titans: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
27. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
30. Minnesota Vikings: Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, DB, Central Florida
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Thursday, January 25, 2018

2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

For those new to my mocks, welcome. It’s good to have you onboard. For those returning readers, thanks for coming back.

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC – The Cleveland Browns must take a quarterback with this pick. Have some conviction in a player already, and stop being the Jets and waiting until the later rounds to try finding an inevitably terrible signal caller. For the love of peace. Please do this. Now, whomever it is they actually choose will suck, but you gotta take a chance here in a QB-heavy draft. I'm not buying the Troy Aikman comps for Darnold. Personally, I think he looks like actor Sean Astin. More like the Rudy Astin than the Stranger Things Astin at least but still I think I’m on to something. Be wary, Cleveland.

Past. Present. And Future?
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA – On the complete flip side of the Browns (and to a lesser extent the Jets), the Giants franchise has had incredible stability at the QB position. Eli Manning has been the starter for the last 13 seasons and despite his mouth-breathing ways has led the team to two Super Bowl titles. It’s time for him to ride into the sunset and for the Gmen to find the next face of the franchise. Rosen goes from Big City to Biggest City and will probably thrive under new coach Pat Shurmur.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State РMaybe not an obvious fit but after years of hearing the clich̩ that you should never spend a high pick on a running back, Zeke Elliott and Leonard Fournette changed the way of thinking. Getting Barkley and a healthy Andrew Luck back could make this team an immediate playoff contender in a relatively weak AFC. Indy has the third most money to spend in free agency which is an especially good thing since Ryan Grigson left town. I think this pick shakes up the franchise in a very positive way. They could also trade back a couple spots to a QB-needy team and add some draft capital, but getting Barkley would be my priority.

(TRADE) 4. Buffalo Bills (via Texans via Browns): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming – Does trading down for the Bills' two first rounders and their second rounder make sense? It's basically a perfect match on the "draft value" chart, and I think that's a win for both sides. It allows Buffalo to get a top-tier QB, and it gives Cleveland the thing it covets most: more high draft picks. Now, the pick…If you are going to be successful as a quarterback in Buffalo, you need arm strength above all else. Allen has that. Unfortunately, he’s also very inaccurate as a passer. On the plus side, he’s a great athlete. On the down side, he makes bad decisions. Where does this all shake out? Time will tell. For now, he’s a Megamillions ticket, and if the Bills believe in him, they should move up to grab him.

5. Denver Broncos: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama – When you zig, John Elway zags or just flips over you on his way to the goal line. 2017 was a disaster and everyone is expecting the team to revamp the quarterback position. I think they pull a surprise, and sign Kirk Cousins as a free agent instead of drafting a QB which would allow them to use this pick on Fitzpatrick, a player that could reinforce an already strong secondary. Cutting Aqib Talib would save the team $11m so Fitzpatrick might be a need pick come draft night.

 6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – It is time for the Jets to use a high draft pick on a QB that will lead this franchise for the foreseeable future. 2017 was the first time in half a decade that this team didn't waste a pick on a QB. I challenge you to look at these names without throwing up on yourself: Geno Smith, Tahj Boyd, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg. Gross. Mayfield was the best player in college football this year. I get that Heisman success doesn't necessarily translate into NFL success but this guy finished in the top four of Heisman balloting in each of the last three seasons. That just doesn't happen. He's a leader, he throws the ball accurately, and his personality will be an incredible fit off the field in New York. After passing on Deshaun Watson last year, the Jets can't afford another miss this year.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State – Watch film of the Wolfpack and this guy always jumps out. He’s a superstar in the making at a position of need. If he’s there at 7, the Bucs will sprint to the podium.

8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama – I think most mocks will pair the former Bama superstar with second year QB Mitchell Trubisky, and it makes a whole lot of sense. If you want Mitch to make any kind of leap in his sophomore campaign, he needs a number one wideout.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State – The ‘9ers need secondary help and John Lynch should be able to identify that type of talent. For my money, Ward is the most talented DB in the class, but Minkah Fitzpatrick’s versatility will push him higher on the board.

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia – Gruden will love this guy. He’ll be his Derrick Brooks.

11. Miami Dolphins: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame – Another sprint-don’t-walk-to-the-podium pick. No brainer.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Arden Key, DE, LSU – I’ll take “Talented Players from Big Programs with Off-the-Field Issues” for $400, Alex. Could there be a more perfect Bengals pick? I don’t have an explanation as to why he missed all of spring practice last year, but the Bengals should find out … and then take him anyway because he’s the most talented player on the board.

13. Washington Redskins: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU – I don’t think whomever is under center would complain about having Josh Doctson 1.0 spread wide to one side of the field and Josh Doctson 2.0 spread wide to the other.

14. Green Bay Packers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech – Clay Matthews’ career is winding down (damn, I’m old), and Edmunds can be his successor.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame – I’m not sold on any quarterbacks here so the Cards take the best offensive lineman on the board. It hasn’t generated much chatter, but Case Keenum to the desert makes a lot of sense to me.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M – The Breshad Perriman experiment didn’t work out. Since the Ravens are all but stuck with Joe Flacco, Kirk gives him a weapon out wide, and he doubles as a dynamic kick returner.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas – Best OL on the board.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Derwin James, S, Florida State – James probably would have been a top 10 pick if he came out after his freshman year but a slow recovery following a torn meniscus injury causes him to slide to Seattle which would be an ideal spot for him, the newest member of the Legion of Boom.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA – The hottest name on draft boards right now is a Roadrunner from UTSA. He could go 10-15 picks higher or 10-15 picks lower and I wouldn’t be shocked. For now, he stays local and becomes a Cowboy.

20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU – The Lions have not had a player rush for 100 yards in a game since 2013. That’s unfathomable. Guice did it a dozen times at LSU (three of those games he eclipsed 250 rushing yards). He’s the playmaker Detroit needs to balance out the offensive attack.

(TRADE) 21. Cleveland Browns (via Bills): Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama – A personal favorite of mine.

(TRADE) 22. Cleveland Browns (via Chiefs via Bills): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa – Harrison and Jackson revamp the secondary. Now, Cleveland can spend the rest of the draft on the offensive side of the ball and start to

23. Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma – Zeus 2.0. Brown is the son of the former NFL behemoth with the same name. This Brown is 6 foot, 8 inches of girth and will protect Jared Goff’s blindside for a decade.

Zeus 2.0: A man among boys
24. Carolina Panthers: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama – Payne might have made himself more money than any other player during this year’s college playoffs.

25. Tennessee Titans: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

26. Atlanta Falcons: Billy Price, OG, Ohio State

27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama – Obviously I’m partial, but I love this fit. Tackling machine heads to a team desperate for one.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

30. Minnesota Vikings: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – Wait, what? The Vikings have too many quarterbacks as is, right? Wrong. Case Keenum has one foot out the door. Sam Bradford is always one step away from IR, and Teddy Bridgewater has looked underwhelming. Enter another Louisville product, Lamar Jackson. He could be the QB of the future or he could play wide receiver or he could replace Jerrick McKinnon. He gives the team optionality.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia – The Eagles have 20 of 22 starters signed for next year. One of the two unsigned is LB Nigel Bradham. Carter can be a low cost alternative and jump right into the starting lineup.

32. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State – Another personal favorite. I would hate seeing him face the Jets twice a year for the next decade.