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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mozgov'd

It's not often that I hear sports talk radio say anything really clever, but I got a kick out of the talk around Blake Griffin's monster dunk last night.  For those who weren't perusing the Internet last evening, Blake rose up and threw a vicious dunk on Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins.  The dunk itself was enough to make noise, with Griffin elevating high over the "enforcer" OKC brought in to shore up their inside defense and, stuck a hand in his opponent's chest and literally threw the ball through the rim.  It was explosive, vicious, and the exact reason that Griffin is a rising star.

That is not what got my attention, having been watching the game when it happened.  What got my attention was the term used by the radio announcer...Mozgov'd.  As in, "Blake Griffin just Mozgov'd Kendrick Perkins."  What is this Mozgov'd you may say...well, this is a reference to the dunk that Griffin put on Timothy Mozgov when the latter was with the Knicks. 

I do believe that this term just entered my vocabulary and I thought that you should all have the same opportunity....And the chance to see these 2 SICK dunks.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft v. 1

Well, that time of year is here.

The regular season is done, and though there is one game remaining, it's time to start thinking about the draft.  Well, it is if you are me and couldn't care less about the Super Bowl.  I find myself hoping for a win and an injury to a QB.  As long as both happen to the same team, that's fine.  Kidding, I never hope for injuries, but this game has me as close to it as I have been in a long....well actually ever.

So, Here comes the first version of my Mock Drafts.  This premature with the draft order not even set in stone and the combine and player workouts still pending.  But with a best guess at a big board and going with the Super Bowl favorites to win, I decided to have some fun.

Soooo, starting at the top.

ROUND 1
PICK 1: COLTS
Andrew Luck QB Stanford
Really, does anyone think there is any way that they are not going to pick up Andrew Luck? They are a passing team built around a QB who makes good decisions and that is pretty much the description of Andrew Luck. Yes, Peyton will probably play again. Maybe it will be this year. Regardless, he is getting close to the end. The Colts should pray that he is healthy and can play, because then he will have value. Luck starts or Luck sits, but he goes to Indy.


PICK 2: RAMS
Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
The Rams have made some nice picks the last few years.  They have drafted a pair of tackles who look like they should be able to play in this league, some nice defensive pieces, and have picked up the occasional veteran.  Toss in Sam Bradford who they think is a franchise QB and they should have a chance.  One of their problems though is that they have not been able to give Bradford any weapons outside of Steven Jackson.  They need a #1 receiver.  A guy that Bradford can lean on.  Blackmon has good speed, great instincts for getting open, and he is a beast who wants the ball more than you do.  If they can get over playing with a guy from the other side of Bedlam, they could be special.

PICK 3: VIKINGS
Matt Kalil OT USC
The Vikings have a pair of young QB's who have shown flashes of talent.  There will be a heated contest to see who starts for them next year, but with "Mount" McKinnie getting kicked out of town, they need a Left Tackle right now.  Especially if Adrian Peterson is not his normal dominant self after knee surgery.  Kalil is the best this draft has to offer. 

PICK 4: BROWNS
Trent Richardson RB Alabama
The Browns need weapons all over the field.  On top of that they are likely to lose Peyton Hillis.  That makes Trent Richardson a no-brainer at 4.  He has the potential to be a star as an every down back and will give Colt McCoy a chance to show if he can be the guy.  They still need to get another receiving weapon or 2, but they will be ecstatic to see Richardson at 4.

PICK 5: BUCCANEERS
Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
One starting corner is among the oldest players in the league.  The other is likely to have some prison time coming up.  Notice, I did not say jail....prison.  I don't know if they invite him back even if he can keep his freedom.  So, they need a corner, and until we know different, I think we have to assume that the Tampa will be alive and well so a big corner who can press is a perfect fit.  Kirkpatrick is that guy.

PICK 6: REDSKINS
Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
The Skins need a QB who has a chance to be more than a stand-in. They are a solid team with Grossman isn't throwing picks.  Picks are something that the Heisman Trophy winner just did not do at Baylor.  He can make all the throws, including a beautiful deep ball, and he will be deadly in the bootleg game that Mike Shanahan loves. 

PICK 7: JAGUARS
Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
The Jaguars were kittens without claws on offense last  year.  All they had was MJD, which is something to be sure, but they need to back the safeties up.  Their young QB didn't have a big target or a field-stretcher on the outside.  Floyd is both.

PICK 8: DOLPHINS
Quinton Coples DE/OLB North Carolina
The Dolphins would have loved one of the top QB's but with them off the board, they will go with the best available and try to bolster an already strong defensive unit.  They have a solid, young secondary, but with Jason Taylor retiring, they needed to give their pass rush a shot in the arm.  Coples is a man on the edge, and should play early.

PICK 9: PANTHERS
Morris Claiborne CB LSU
When you look at the Panthers' record you would think they needed help all over, but the stats tell a different story.  They were in the top half of the league in nearly every statistical category so they really are in a position to go best available to try to find some difference makers to put them over the edge.  With them seeing the Saints and Falcons twice a year, they need to do something to deal with those receiving corps.  Clariborne is a big, fast corner, who should be a big step in the direction they want to go.

PICK 10: BILLS
Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
The Bills have needed a new left tackle since Jason Peters left for Philly, which was a few years ago.  They think they have a QB they can lean on, and they have solid skill position players and a very good defense.  Now they need to finish off their lines.  Martin was a close second as an OT last year and should start from day 1 for the Bills.

PICK 11: CHIEFS
Riley Reiff OT Iowa
The Chiefs are starting a guy at left tackle who was a guard in college.  Yes, he is a stud and had transition well, but the fact they had to try him there says a lot about the state of their line.  It is patched together, aging fast, and does not contain a good second tackle.  Reiff should be a very good right tackle, shoring up a major weakness in the Chiefs attack.....if you can call what their offense does attacking.

PICK 12: SEAHAWKS
Nick Perry DE USC
The Seahawks have some nice pieces on a very young roster, but they have had trouble putting together a pass rush from their front 4.  Perry is a very talented young man who can play the DE position on every snap and bring pressure with speed and power.  In a fairly thin year for DE's he will go early.

PICK 13:CARDINALS
Alshon Jeffry WR South Carolina
I know that the cupboard is not rare, but you cannot lose Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin in back to back years and not restock.  Jeffry is a huge talent who will feast on single coverage with Larry Fitzgerald hanging out on the other side of the field.

PICK 14: COWBOYS
Mark Barron S Alabama
The Cowboys have had issues in their secondary for years.  They have spent time building up their depth at cornerback and it's not too bad and the top corners are gone now.  They need help at safety too, and Mark Barron will remind Dallas fans of another hard hitting strong safety.  The difference between Barron and Roy Williams is Barron can help in coverage too.  Expect him to start...now.

PICK 15: EAGLES
Dont'a Hightower LB Alabama
We all know what the Eagles problems were this season.  They need help up the middle, though their DT's played much better at the end of the year.  Hightower has been starting at ILB for the Crimson Tide since his freshman year.  He is big, fast, and coached up by Nick Saban.  He will be an immediate contributor in the middle for the Eagles.

PICK 16: JETS.
Lamar Miller RB Miami
It amazes me how little attention that Lamar Miller has gotten nationwide.  This is the most explosive running back I saw all year, and he is coming out of single back/pro-style offense.  Yes, more explosive than the scatbacks in Oregon, more explosive than Trent Richardson, Montee Ball, Chris Polk, or the muscle hamster.  This is a one-cut and gone kind of runner who hits tops speed in a hiccup and runs better inside than many of the smaller backs in this draft.  That said, he is only 212 so will need to put some weight on if he wants to be a 25 carry a game guy.  The Jets need a guy who can break a play open, this is the guy.

PICK 17: BENGALS
David DeCastro OG Stanford
The Bengals have done a wonderful job of drafting the past few years and they are in the position to take the best available.  DeCastro is the rare guard who is worth first round attention, he will compete for a starting spot from day 1 on this improving squad

PICK 18: CHARGERS
Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama
The Chargers have been looking for a pass rusher since "Lights Out" Merriman got hurt a couple years back.  Upshaw is a good ball player who happens to be a demon off the edge.  He might just be what the doctor ordered.

PICK 19: BEARS
Dwayne Allen TE Clemson
The Bears need playmakers in the passing game, and preferably playmakers with size.  Dwayne Allen is type of tight end that can change an offense.  He can do a bit of everything and is a true threat with the ball in his hands.  He has the size to punish defensive backs and will run away from nearly any linebacker in the league.

PICK 20: TITANS
Devon Still DT Penn State
He is still a bit of a diamond in the rough, but has the power to take up double teams and has the potential to be a big time run stuffer.  The Titans have seen their vaunted defensive line be decimated by free agency the past few years and it's time to start rebuilding.

PICK 21: BENGALS
Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State
Worthy is a fast and powerful DT who can cause problems for the passing game by getting upfield with a solid swim move or a solid punch to start a bull rush.  Has to get better about locating the ball in running situations and be more willing to take up blockers, but has the strength to do that.

PICK 22: BROWNS
Orson Charles TE Georgia
A bit smaller and faster than Dwayne Allen, he is potentially even more disruptive in the passing game but will not be as effective as an in-line blocker when needed.  That said, he is powerful and will be able to chip and help with edge rushers before releasing.  More Tony Gonzalez than Mark Bavaro.

PICK 23: LIONS
Alfonzo Dennard CD Nebraska
The Lions had great luck with their last pick off of the Blackshirt defense and are in dire need of an upgrade at corner.  Dennard is a physical corner who is used to playing on an island.  He should play immediately at nickle or the off corner for Detroit.

PICK 24: STEELERS
Doug Martin RB Boise State
The rumor is that the Power that be in Pittsburgh want to return to a more run-oriented physical style of football.  If they are going to do that, they need to get depth at running back behind Rashard Mendenhall.  Doug Martin is an explosive, compact back who carried a big load for on the Smurf Turf.  He needs to work on pass protection, but can do everything else that a team could want, including having the speed to be a dynamic kick returner at 5'9" 220 lbs.

PICK 25: BRONCOS
Coby Fleener TE Stanford
The Broncos need to bring in players who can be successful with the offense that they are putting together around Tim Tebow.  Contrary to common thought, the Broncos have a solid corp of receivers, especially if Eric Decker comes back.  What they don't have is a tight end who will keep the other team's linebackers and safeties honest.  Coby Fleener is a tight end who runs as well as some of the tight ends in the league who can also stick his nose in.  There are concerns that he may be near his ceiling already, but considering what he showed in college, the Broncos would happily live with that.  He would give Tebow a big threat who will be a matchup nightmare.

PICK 26: TEXANS
Dontari Poe NT Memphis
Dontari Poe was the bright spot on a terrible Memphis team.  It may seem odd for the Texans to spend another pick on defense, but this is a case of taking the best available players and at a spot which always has value for a 3-4 defense.  He is 6'4", 350 lbs and will keep that talented linebacker corp running clean.  Think Tony Siragusa in front of Ray Rice.

PICK 27: PATRIOTS
Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
The Pats need an influx of talent on defense and DE is a spot of need.  Ingram is a playmaker who is effective stopping the run, rushing the passer, and is surprisingly good in zone blitz schemes dropping into coverage. 

PICK 28: PACKERS
Chris Polk RB Washington
The Packers should have learned a lesson from their playoff loss.  They were able to win 2 seasons ago because they didn't have to make a run through the playoffs playing in the Wisconsin winter.  As good as they are, that is not going to be the case very often, so they need to be able to run the ball more effectively.  Polk would have been in the running for the first overall pick if he had come back, Polk's one-cut, physical, style will translate well on the hard turf.

PICK 29: GIANTS
Luke Kuechly LB Boston College
An incredibly productive college linebacker, Kuechly is tenacious with a nose for the ball.  He is strong against the run and good enough against the pass to be an every-down backer in the league.  The Giants need to improve up the middle and Keuchly is a Tom Coughlin kind of player. 

PICK 30: RAVENS
Vontaze Burfict ILB Arizona State
Vontaze should have been a top 10 pick, but he couldn't get his head straight.  Most teams will be scared away by that, but there are a few with strong enough locker rooms to harness his talent.  Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs are the kind of group who can keep him in line.  They will have his respect and he has the talent to be worth the trouble.  He could be the next great Raven defender.

PICK 31: 49ERS
Peter Konz C Wisconsin
The Niners want to be physical and they have a pretty good O-Line.  Konz will make it better and happens to be the best available on the board.  He should start immediately and will set the Niners up with a solid Line for years to come.

PICK 32: PATRIOTS
Chase Minnifield CB Virginia
The Pats are retooling on defense and Minnifield has the talent to step in as their second corner immediately.  He has decent size and has been well coached, being effective in both man and zone concepts.  With his dad having been a Pro-Bowl corner, the show won't be too big for him either.  Another solid pickup for the Pats.
ROUND 2

Pick 33: Rams
LaMichael James RB Oregon

Pick 34: Colts
Mike Adams OT Ohio State

Pick 35: Vikings
DeVier Posey WR Ohio State

Pick 36: Buccaneers
Andrew Datko OT Florida State

Pick 37: Browns
Vinny Curry DE Marshall

Pick 38: Jaguars
Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina

Pick 39: Redskins
Joe Adams WR Arkansas

Pick 40: Panthers
Fletcher Cox DT/DE Mississippi State

Pick 41: Bills
Billy Winn DE Boise State

Pick 42: Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M

Pick 43: Seahawks
Brandon Thompson DT Clemson

Pick 44: Chiefs
David Wilson RB Virginia Tech

Pick 45: Cowboys
Cliff Harris CB Oregon

Pick 46: Eagles
Cordy Glenn OG Georgia

Pick 47: Jets
Markelle Martin S Oklahoma State

Pick 48: Patriots
Alameda Ta'amu DT Washington

Pick 49: Chargers
Zebrie Sanders OT Florida State

Pick 50: Bears
Jeff Fuller WR Texas A&M

Pick 51: Eagles
Lavonte David OLB Nebraska

Pick 52: Titans
Michael Egnew TE Missouri

Pick 53: Bengals
Brandon Boykin CB Georgia

Pick 54: Lions
Levy Adcock OT Oklahoms State

Pick 55: Falcons
TE Ladarius Green Lousiana Lafayette

Pick 56: Steelers
Nigel Bradham LB Florida State

Pick 57: Broncos
Dan Herron RB Ohio State

Pick 58: Texans
Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma

Pick 59: Saints
Olivier Vernon DE Miami

Pick 60: Packers
Ben Jones C Georgia

Pick 61: Giants
Sylvester Williams DT North Carolina

Pick 62: Ravens
David Molk C Michigan

Pick 63: 49ers
Mavin McNutt WR Iowa

Pick 64: Patriots
Bobby Wagner OLB Utah State

ROUND 3

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

College Football Follow up

Well, the season is over.

It's time for the lucky ones to take their chances and the rest to take their shot.

What did we learn?

1. There are too many damn bowl games.  We are to the point that there are teams that are leaving bowl games with losing records.  It seems that a team should have to enter a bowl game with a winning record as a minimum requirement for playing in a bowl game.  Dilution is not a good thing

2. Alabama really was better the first time, just like it looked. What do you want to be they recruit a new kicker?  Their special teams was much better in the title game, but it should have cost them a shot at the title.

3. Nick Saban is a great coach, but Bill Snyder is one of the best in the history of College Football.

4. Pre-season predictions don't mean shite.  That said, I don't think they should even post or vote on them until after the first month.  Forcing voters to form an opinion that early does one very bad thing, it forces them to have an opinion.

5. The changes in the rookie compensation are going to have an interesting effect on players declaring for the draft.  There is no great benefit left to working to be the top guy, or the top guy at your position.  That means that the positions with short shelf lives are going to be more prone to declare, and the positions which have longer shelf lives will more likely to come back.  Look at the running back who declared and the QB's who came back and you can see the trends.

RUNNING BACKS




Alvester Alexander, Wyoming
Projected: Free Agent

Edwin Baker, Michigan State
Projected: Sixth Round

Mike Ball, Nevada
Projected: Free Agent

Jewel Hampton, Southern Illinois
Projected: Free Agent

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State
Projected: Third Round

LaMichael James, Oregon
Projected: Second Round

Lamar Miller, Miami
Projected: Late First, Early Second Round

Bernard Pierce, Temple
Projected: Third Round

Chris Polk, Washington
Projected: Second Round

Trent Richardson, Alabama
Projected: Top Ten Overall

Darrell Scott, South Florida
Projected: Free Agent

Robert Turbin, Utah State
Projected: Fourth Round

David Wilson, Virginia Tech
Projected: Second Round

As you can see, there aren't very many of those guys who are going to be terribly exciting, but they are coming out while their stock is relatively high because, as a running back, each game could be your last.  There is no huge payday with that first check to maximize, it's getting to the second check that matters.

QuarterBacks:

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Projected: Top 5

Robert Griffin, Baylor
Projected: Top 10

Brock Osweiler, Arizona State
Projected: Third Round

Darron Thomas, Oregon
Projected: Free Agent

The first 2 have no more to accomplish in college.  Luck is losing his offensive line to graduation which would have all but eliminated Stanford's chances to win the title or for him to win the Heisman.  Baylor is not going to win their conference, let along the title and Griffin already has a Heisman....Oh, and they both are done with school or about to be.

The last 2 are unique situation.  Osweiler is losing his coach and OC and likely is in as good a position as he would be next year, especially with the guys who stayed in college.  Thomas' situation is much more like the runningbacks' than the other QB's.  He takes a beating because Oregon runs the ball so much and with the new wrinkles in the league with running QB's getting more of a look, he may never have a better chance to make a team.  Though, he will not be drafted early, the chance of injury has to be why he came out.

Now let's look at the QB's who stayed in who could have come out.

Matt Barkley, USC
Projected: Top 15

Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Project: Last First Round

These last 2 are guys who would have come out last year because the payday would have been huge.  But, as quarterbacks, one more year in college is much less likely to shorten their careers.  That leaves them with the chance at glory and big man on campus for one more year, possibly even a title, with the same kind of money waiting for them when they decide to go.  This new Collective Bargaining agreement is going to change the dynamic of the NFL draft for years to come.

6. Automatic Qualifying is a joke.  3 of the 6 AQ conferences had overall losing records in bowls.  That tells me that at least one of the following items is true.
     1. They are not better than the mid-major conference like C-USA and MAC which both at 4-1 records.
     2. Too many of their teams are getting into bowls, which is obviously true in cases like UCLA, which as a specific example is sooooo easy to fix that it's ridiculous.  Just put in something that is there is not a team with a record/ranking of X, the 2 teams with the highest BCS rankings will play for the conference championship.  Go ahead, tell me that you wouldn't have liked to see Stanford and Oregon play again rather than Oregon vs. UCLA. 
     3. The bowls are focused too much on the history/reputation/fanbase of the AQ teams and are placing lesser competition in the big games because they think it will market better.  This is putting teams in games that they can't compete in. 

7. And finally, lucky number 7.  Looking at those bowl records, something becomes quite obvious.  The SEC and Big 12 are playing at another level relative to the rest of the country right now.  And the rich are going to get richer with both of those conferences picking up a pair of bowl game winners with Texas A&M and Missouri going to the SEC and West Virginia and TCU coming into the Big 12.  You can argue which is better with the SEC being better at the top and the Big 12 being better top to bottom, but with the SEC having the worst record at 6-3, there is really no arguing with the results.