Monday, February 23, 2009

The Good Guys

I have a question for, well for anyone who can answer this for me.

What ever happened to the good guys in sports? We have always had the bad guys, from Ty Cobb to Bill Romanowski, to John Rocker. The guys who cheat, endanger, and disrespect. In the past, we had a balance. We had a good guy to a bad guy, in the "good old days" the good guys even outnumbered those bad guys.

We all know about the bad guys today. The wife beaters, the cheaters, the felons, and everything in between. They are in the news everyday.

What I want to talk about is, how in the hell did Marvin Harrison become one of the bad guys?

Marvin Harrison was lauded for the first decade of his career for all the good he was doing back in Philadelphia. Cheered as an example of sportsmanship for never showing up the defense, as he and Peyton Manning built towards Hall-of-Fame statistics. Traditionalists loved him because he "acts like he's been there before". Marvin is a perfect example of two things.

1. Athletes are not, and for sake of being an athlete should not be, role models.

2. You cannot judge the character of man, or a woman, by how they act on a court, field, or diamond. If we have learned nothing else from the "Bad Guys" in sports today, let it be that there is one old idiom that still rings true.

"The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching. "

We need to focus more on players like Warrick Dunn. People aspire to be what what we glorify. Let's glorify the good guys.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pre Combine NFL Draft: Picks 21-32

PICK #32: Pittsburgh Steelers

Well, the world champs are finally on the board. Obviously, they don't have a lot of weaknesses overall, but there is one thing that glared a bit. Their offensive line made Big Ben run around way too much. I look for them to take Duke Robinson to upgrade their internal blocking after it was exposed by the Cardinals in the Super Bowl. Duke will also fit well with their traditional running attack.

PICK #31: Arizona Cardinals

Wow, what a year it was for the Cardinals. Looking at them, after the past few year's drafts have allowed them load up on athletes, I actually look for them to go with best available. Well, best available on Defense anyway :)

Brian Cushing is still out there, and he is a great value at this location. He is a guy who is used to winning and made a lot of plays at USC. He will be a great addition at linebacker whether Dansby stays or not.

PICK #30: Houston Texans

The Texans got their Defensive End earlier in the draft with Brian Orakpo, so I look for them to go for a value pick. They like slaton, but he is a small back and there are concerns about him in the red zone and down the line, so it would be wize to have a change of pace back. With Beanie Wells still on the board, I see him coming off of it here.

PICK #29: New York Giants

The Giants need depth along their fronts. Last year exposed their lack of depth at DE and LB. What they have is top shelf, but they need more depth and flexibility. At this point, Aaron Maybin and Brian Cushing are both still available. I look for them to look to Maybin as he played with his hand on the ground in college, but has the size and ability to play either position.

PICK #28: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles took a gamble that the Offensive Tackle they are look for would still be available at this pick, and it worked out perfectly. Phil Loadholt out of Oklahoma is still available and he is a monster at 6'7" 348. He played in a pass oriented offense in college, and is a destroyer when it comes to run blocking. He should be able to play sooner rather than later, likely at right tackle.

PICK #27: Indianapolis Colts

The colts are a good team across the board, but they are showing cracks on the outside. Marvin Harrison is likely done, or nearing it on offense and they have lost players the last few years at CB. However, Gonzalez is already in place on offense, so they can wait to draft a receiver, and CB in the Cover 2 is not a priority position. I look for them to look to upgrade their defense by taking William Moore out of Missouri. Moore is an great athlete at safety who can really cover some ground and hit and should be set up well by learning from Bob Sanders.

PICK #26: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have a handful of needs. They are likely to lose one of the their starting Linebackers this year, have an aging defense overall, and are in dire need of a wide receiver who can be a difference maker. There are lot of good defensive players on the board, and they may go that way. But I look for them to go for the receiving threat that can take advantage of Flacco's huge arm to stretch the field and get those safeties out of the box. Darius Heyward-Bay is possible the fastest receiver in this draft, that is saying a lot. He also brings good size, and at times looked unstoppable in spite of never playing with a top flight Quarterback.

PICK #25: Miami Dolphins

OK, OK, OK, so the falcons weren't the only surprise. The dolphins came out of nowhere too, but what do they need to get over that hump? Well, they could upgrade at a number of positions, but this is a Parcells team right, so I am going to look at his history and say that they are going to take the best edge player available. Tyson Jackson is still on the board, and should be the perfect body type to become an DE in the 3-4 defense. He is also a good value at this pick as he was rated a few picks higher on most boards

PICK #24: Atlanta Falcon

The Falcons were the surprise/cinderella of the NFL up till the playoffs. They are loaded at the skill positions and are strong overall on Defense. I look them to improve their Offensive Line or Defensive Secondary. The best player available at either of those positions is at corner, and I look for them to take D.J. Moore. Expect his to start sooner, rather than later.

PICK #23: New England Patriots

The Patriots have been hit hard recently be retirement and free agency on the defensive side of the ball. They have managed to draft to repair some of that, but are still in need of a lockdown corner. The patriots like an intelligent player, and I look for them to take either Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest or D.J. Moore from Vanderbilt. We will go with Smith here, as he is more experienced and has been more consistent. He should be ready to make an impact immediately.

PICK #22: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are a team on the verge. They are loaded on both sides of the ball with 2 exceptions. Tavaris Jackson is not working out like they had hoped at QB yet. There is still hope, but sooner rather than later would be good. Second, they do not have a stud WR to keep defenses honest.

Unfortunately, the top rated players at those positions are gone. I look for Minnesota to make a value pick here, and take the best receiving Tight End in the Draft, Chase Coffman. Coffman is one of the best tight ends, statistically, in the history of the NCAA and will be a difference maker at the NFL level. With his size and hands, he could be a real security blanket for a young quarterback.

PICK #21: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are an enigma, especially on draft day. They tend to pick up players that make you scratch your head a bit. Rarely fails however, a year or two later, that player is in the starting lineup and turned out to be a good, if not perfect, fit for what they do.

So, what do the boys from the land of cheesesteak need this year. Well, they have 2 aging, possibly departing, Offensive Tackles in a draft loaded with Offensive tackles, so that is a good place to start. Beyond that, they need an effective backup for Westbrook, and a receiver who could be a red zone threat would be great since it looks like they may be just about done with Reggie Brown

At this point in the draft, the top rated tackles are gone, and it is likely that they will be able to get a quality tackle with their next pick, so if I am making the pick for the eagles, I am looking for Westbrooks backup. Lesean McCoy is like a mini-westbrook, well except he is isn't smaller than Westbrook. He will be a perfect fit for the eagles offense.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pre Combine NFL Draft: Picks 11-20

PICK #20: Detroit Lions

The Lions need difference makers and winners, people who can help change their culture of losing. James Laurinitis was a 4 year starter at premier school that won a lot of games. The lions have a couple of good young linebackers and adding Laurinitis makes for a potentially wicked trio at backer for the lions looking forward.

PICK #19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers need a Quarterback. They have been patching together for too long with old QB and QB's who didn't fit gruden's system. Unfortunately for them, the top 2 quarterbacks are gone. Fortunately for them, it is likely that one of the next 2 highest rated will be available to them in later rounds. They may target Freeman who played in a west coast type of offense, but it remains to be seen what direction the offense will go.

In the meantime, their defense is aging quickly, and there are number of potential studs still on the board. I look for them to take the best available Defensive Lineman available, which looks to be a disruptive DT out of Ole Miss named Peria Jerry.

PICK #18: Chicago Bears

The bears have a handful of needs, but they are another team who has had the same need for serveral years. They NEED a Wide Receiver. Hakeem Nicks is the guy here. He has good speed, size, and great hands. He will be the red zone target they don't have on the outside and should be able to block well enough to support the bear's run first offense.

PICK #17: New York Jets

The Jets are in a tough spot. They have made a number of quality moves the last couple of years to surround a QB with talent. Now that need a Quarterback. Kellen Clemens may prove us wrong, but he doesn't look like a quarterback of the future to me. I look for the Jets to take the best QB available, in strong armed Matt Stafford out of Georgia. He has the arm strength to make all the throws, and that becomes even more important when you are playing in the swirling winds of the Jet's home stadium

PICK #16: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are an interesting team. There has been a lot of talk about them trading or releasing LT. In any case, they are a team without obvious weaknesses and youth at a majority of positions. They were even able to recover from losing Shawne Merriman after some time. I look for them to draft LT encumbent. Whether it's for this year or next, Knowshon Moreno is just too good to leave on the board any further.

PICK #15: Houston Texans

The Texans are an up and coming team, and with their currently collection of players, they can largely take the best player on the board. They got a good enough year out of Steve Slaton as a rookie, that they will likely bypass Moreno and Wells. Look for them to draft a defensive end to pair with Mario Williams. The highest rated on the board right now is Brian Orakpo out of Texas. He is a monster of a defensive end, who could spell at DT if needed as well.

PICK #14: New Orleans Saints

For the Saints eval, see the Broncos eval. There is one distinct difference between the 2 defenses though. The Broncos have Champ Bailey, the Saints have 2 nickelbacks they signed away from other teams starting at corner. They will be the second to take a corner off the board and Vontae Davis will be a nice fit for them.

PICK #13: Washington Redskins

The redskins need help on both lines. Their offensive line is talented but aging in a hurry, and their defensive line was sorely dissapointing last season. To my mind, they need to address the offensive line, as one bad year from Jason Taylor has to be seen as an aberration, rather than as a trend. Also, tackles have been going off the board much faster than Defensive Ends in this draft, so the odds are better that a quality DE will be available in later rounds. The Redskins should draft Jason Smith out of Baylor to learn from John Tait while he can.

PICK #12: Denver Broncos

The Donkeys need a defense. They have one of the most explosive offenses in the league, which is also one of the youngest. It is time for them to address their defense in this draft.

The mo
st glaring weakness in their defense was their inability to stop the run. Towards those ends, look for them to draft Ray Maualaga out of USC. He is a top flight athlete and run stopper at middle linebacker and is more than capable against the pass as well. He could be the dynamic defensive force that denver has beeen missing for years.

Pick #11: Buffalo Bills

The Bills were one of the hot teams at the beginning of last year before injuries and inexperience took their toll. That said, they have a healthy amount of young talent, without a lot of glaring weaknesses. Their biggest goal for this draft should be quality depth, especially at RB and QB.

However, they do not have a premier pass rusher, which caused them some difficulties on defense at times last year. I look for them to take the best DE available Everette Brown.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pre Combine NFLDraft: Picks 1-10

PICK #10: San Francisco 49ers

It is still so strange to me to see the 49ers suffering through such hard times. They were the dynasty of my youth and I still can’t help but expect each year for them to figure it out and start rolling again.

They aren’t going to do that with the offense that they have in place. They need a Quarterback of the future and they need difference makers on the outside.

The California team should draft the California kid. Mark Sanchez has an NFL body, experience playing in an environment as close to the NFL as college can offer, and has the talent and confidence to step in early in his career as a starting NFL QB.

PICK #9: Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers are a good enough team that it is a bit of a shock to see them with a pick this early. They have a collection of young talent on both sides of the ball. There were reports that they were very interested in B.J. Raji from BC. This would naturally lead a person to wonder if they would jump down to the next DT available on the board, but it is entirely likely that they will be able to get one of the next 2 available in a later round.

Ryan Grant was a disappointment last year. The Packers haven’t given up on him, but until the recent releases of top-tier veteran backs, they would have likely considered taking a back here like Knowshon Moreno. However, they have a pair of aging corners and a perfect fit for their kind of defense on the board. Malcolm Jenkins is a natural successor for Charles Woodson and Al Harris. He will add depth immediately and has the size to play the press coverage that they are known for.

PICK #8: Jacksonville Jaguars

Well, the Jaguars were one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL, and then they waived Fred Taylor. The interesting little fact that everyone has overlooked so far is the young man sitting down their depth chart a bit at Running Back. Chauncey Washington is a serious talent at running back and the Jags may very well give him a shot in a platoon with Maurice Jones-Drew.

They could use a little help at cornerback, but their biggest need is the same need they have had for several years.

They need a wide receiver, and I can’t see them overlooking Percy Harvin. Especially with running ability that Harvin evidenced while he was at Florida.

PICK #7: Oakland Raiders

Ah yes, the Raiders.

They have the young running backs, the solid defense, and Improving Offensive line. If they want to take advantage of those assets going forward, they need a weapon to stretch the field vertically and back the safeties off the line.

Higgins can run, but his hands are inconsistent. Curry has good ball skills, but is not a natural receiver, and lacks top flight speed.

They need a third receiver who can do both. In my mind, the question is Maclin or Harvin. Harvin would largely reproduce the talent they have at RB, so the pick is Maclin.

PICK #6: Cincinnati Bengals

This is a pick that will depend largely on how the Bengals are able to handle their free agent receivers. If they are able to keep either Chad Johnson or TJ, then they will look at their defense. I will be honest; they need to look at their defense regardless.

They have holes at all 3 levels, and should take the best defensive player available. For cliché’s sake, let’s build from the inside out and say that the Bengals should draft B.J. Raji out of BC to be a disruptive force in the middle of their defense.

PICK #5: Cleveland Browns

Before this week, I would have suggested that the Browns take a hometown hero. With Ohio State studs Malcom Jenkins and Beanie Wells on the board, it would make for a tough decision. It looks like there are going to be a number of veteran backs on market to pair with Jamal Lewis. That in mind, they need another quality LB. This is especially true with Willie McGinest nearing the end of his career. I know Laurenitis is out there on the board at this point, but Aaron Curry projects much better. He could be the quarterback that this defense will need moving forward.

PICK #4: Seattle Seahawks

Oh yes, the Seahawks.

This is a team with a strong, young, and improving defense. They have potential difference makers at all 3 levels of the defense. Don’t take me wrong, I am not making them out to be a top 5 defense, but a relative strength, so in short. Let’s look at the offense.

This offense is made up of a collection of professional, but unspectacular football players. They are need of a difference maker on offense, and for that, they should draft the top WR in the draft. This is especially true, when you consider the recent injury history of their otherwise talented stable of receivers. Michael Crabtree will be an excellent running mate for Deion Branch when they are healthy, with Seattle’s other veteran receivers making for a potentially difference making passing game.

PICK #3: Kansas City Chiefs

I was really surprised when I looked at the depth chart for the chiefs.

There is a lot of quality in their 2-deep. They do have some question marks, as evidenced by their poor record, but several of those losses can be attributed to youth. Surprisingly, they got very strong QB play from their unknown QB Tyler Thigpen. Many prognosticators think that the Chiefs should be looking at a QB with this first pick, but I don’t know if either of the QB’s earmarked for the first half of the first round will be a good fit in the chiefs spread-option attack. Beyond that, they have problems, and the end of last year, QB was not a problem.

So, what do they need? They need an offensive tackle, a pash rusher to replace Jared Allen, and another stud Linebacker would not hurt. Now, I might have thought that the defensive side of the ball would get first look when Herm Edwards was still the coach, but her's not the coach anymore. So, it is important to remember that the Chiefs new head coach is an offensive guy, so I see him looking build on the progress that side of the ball made last year. They should draft an Offensive Lineman, and Brandon Albert’s flexibility gives them to chance to take the best available. That in mind, here is a thought. Brandon started at Left Tackle last year. He started at guard in college. Eugene Monroe is the reason why. This will give them this possible Offensive Line.

LT: Eugene Monroe

LG: Brian Waters

C: Rudy Niswanger

RG: Brandon Albert

RT: Damian McIntosh

I don’t care if Larry Johnson is still there, or if he gets his wish to be traded for more picks. Whoever is the running back in on this team will have success running behind that line.

PICK #2: St. Louis Ram

One more time, Let’s play “What do they have?”

The Rams have some top tier talent in a few locations. Much like the lions, they would likely be best serviced by trading town to get a couple of players. However, assuming noone wants to play nice with them, they are going to need to keep their running game healthy. They have a nice pair of backs with a stud in Steven Jackson, and a very promising young back in Pittman, who may grow to be a premier type of back. However, Orlando Pace is nearing the end of his run and there has even been talk of him being traded for a 3rd rounder if one can be had for him. Either way, they will be well served by taking a top level Offensive Tackle. He can move to the right side for now, pairing with Alex Barron to make for a strong and flexible O-Line. Hopefully, that will help keep Bulger in the lineup and throwing the ball down the field to Torry Holt and his new Protégé Avery.

The top rated tackle left on the board is Michael Oher out of Ole Miss.

PICK #1: Detroit Lions

I wondered, if I were the pour b@st@rd tasked with making this pick, how on earth would I decide what the lions need. BTW, I thank the good lord that I am not that guy. I bet he is going too curse Matt Millen’s name for years to come.

I digress, I believe the question should not be “what do they need”, but “what do they have”. After all, a team with all the draft misses that the lions have had the past few years has a lot of needs. What they have is a couple of solid, if not home run hitting backs. Kevin Smith is a workhorse with young legs, and I can think of much worse backs for a platoon than Rudi Johnson. They have a veteran quarterback with a big arm. Daunte is not the best in the league, but maybe, just maybe, if they make him "the guy", he can work well the Lions pair of young receivers. Everyone knows about Calvin Johnson, but Standeford was one of Big 10’s best during his time at Purdue and should be able to become a productive possession receiver and at 6’4” 206 he brings good size. Hope is not entirely lost for Keary Colbert either. The talent is there, it just remains to be seen if he can make it work at this level. The offensive line has a couple of decent tackles, but Jeff Backus has been at it awhile, and Cherilus is not a great pass blocker.

The defense is largely unspectacular outside of a couple of linebackers in Ernie Sims and the intriguing possibilities that come with Dizon’s speed from the inside linebacker spot.

My thoughts are that there are far too many holes for the lions to not try to trade down. But, for the sake of this exercise, we will assume that is not an option.

My thoughts are that the lions should improve their offensive line, drafting Andre Smith will allow them to have a built-in replacement for Backus when his time is done, and if they can combine him with either Backus or Cherilus on either side they will have the potential for a real road grader offensive line. After all, you have a QB who is at his best throwing the ball deep with big receivers, one of which has world-class speed, so there are worse approaches than play action.

I don’t see any way for quick fixes unless the lions can pull a Herschel Walker trade, so since he’s retired, building for the future and following the precedent they set with last year’s draft seems like the way to go.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Be a fan

Welcome to Trapp's Rant, my little corner of the superhighway.

Major sports in this country have become a soap opera. The athletes are disconnected from reality, speaking of themselves in the third person, holding press conferences in their driveway, and generally making asses of themselves. Oh, and not to pick on the cowboys, but we can't forget about those who so generously "make it rain".

Some look at these "superstars" and blame them for being self-centered and selfish. Let's be honest, most of society does. And they are right, but where does the blame lie. The media makes them larger than life, the consumer has made them commodities and major linchpins in today's marketing world, and then there are those who call them "superstars".

To be fair, these are uniquely gifted individuals who were lucky enough to find a niche which others are willing to pay to enjoy.

We worship them, we crucify them, we laugh at them.

This blog will be my thoughts, humerous, editorial, and predictive regarding those sports, athletes and.................................the media who cover them.

I look forward to sharing my, hopefully coherent, rants and occasionally factual deliveries.

Whatever sport is "your sport", be a fan.