Archive for April, 2012




With the NBA Playoffs starting Saturday, we had a couple of our bloggers makes some predictions for how things will pan out.

What’s the most intriguing 1st round matchup?

Kyle Williams – Definitely the Memphis/Clippers series. Both teams have the talent to win the West and the athleticism of both teams should make this series a really fun and exciting one to watch. The Celtics/Hawks and Lakers/Nuggets matchups also have potential to be very interesting.

Dave Vinluan – Clippers vs Grizzlies. Interested in seeing how CP3 plays in the postseason with his new squad.

Jeff Morgan – The one I’m looking forward to the most is probably the Grizzlies vs. Clippers. Tons of young talent on both teams, both with something to prove, should be a really entertaining series to say the least. Close 2nd would be Knicks-Heat, If Melo continues his torrid pace and Amare can be Amare, Knicks just might be able to give the heat a series, at the very least a couple of close games. Should be a fun one.

 

Biggest Potential 1st round upset?

Kyle Williams – Nuggets over the Lakers. The Lakers are definitely a more talented team, but they have struggled with consistency this season and if that continues, the Nuggets have the athleticism and depth to run the Lakers into the ground. The Knicks also have a shot at upsetting the Heat as they have a lot of talent on that roster, but so does Miami so I find it hard to see the Knicks winning more than 2 games.

Dave Vinluan – Knicks over Heat.

Jeff Morgan – If Atlanta was any team besides Atlanta I would say they have a good shot at upsetting the older Celtics. They’re more athletic, and have more size than the C’s down low and if they put everything together I can see them pulling off the upset. Watch out for Denver too. They have always played the Lakers well, especially at home, if the Lakers lose either game 1 or 2, Nuggets have the talent to capitalize.

 

Who wins the West?

Kyle Williams – Thunder. While the Spurs and Grizzlies are playing great basketball, it will be hard for anyone to compete with the athleticism and scoring ability that the Thunder bring to the table. They are a great team at home and the Durant/Westbrook/Harden combination will be very hard to stop along with Ibaka and Perkins anchoring the defense down low.

Dave Vinluan – OKC Thunder. Westbrook and the scoring champion, the Durantula will take this team far.

Jeff Morgan – As much as I want to say the Lakers, to me the Thunder are the team to beat. They’re super talented, they have size down low, Durant and Westbrook are one of the best 1-2 punch in the league, with a healthy James Harden I can’t see a team beating them 4 times. If they get past the Lakers (potentially) in the 2nd round, look for them in the Finals.

 

Who wins the East?

Kyle Williams – Heat. Miami is just too talented and Derrick Rose’s health is a big time question for Chicago. Chicago has a potentially brutal series lined up with Boston that could wear them down a bit. I think the Bulls are the best team in the East, but Rose’s health is too uncertain for my liking.

Dave Vinluan – Chicago Bulls. Managed the #1 seed without Derrick Rose for most of the season, and it helps when you’ve got the White Mamba…

Jeff Morgan – This one is tougher because I can legitimately see 3 teams coming out of the East: Bulls, Heat, and Celtics. However, ECF we most likely be Heat and Bulls again, this series is a toss up, it all depends on who’s healthy and who’s playing the best coming into the series. I think the Heat have an easier path – NY and IND then the Bulls – PHI and BOS, so I’ll give the Heat the slight edge here and say the win it in 6.

 

Who wins the NBA Title?

Kyle Williams – Thunder. They have the talent and athleticism to compete with Miami and Westbrook will be a very difficult matchup. I will have to see Lebron win a title to believe it.

Dave Vinluan – OKC Thunder

Jeff Morgan – Who wins the NBA Title? I got Thunder-Heat in the FINALS. Which would be a hell of a series, and even though the Heat have more experience, I think the Thunder are too tough on their home court and win the championship in 7. Lebron and Co. will have to wait yet another season.


Comments No Comments »



After yesterday’s NFL Draft we asked a panel of our experts to break down the draft and give their two cents about how the draft unfolded.

Biggest Winner?

Daniel Ornelas – Believe it or not, I have to say that the Rams came away the biggest winner in this draft because they did something that is very necessary for them: get more picks to fill the holes they have in their team. They may have made fans a bit disappointed, trading out of the No. 2 and 6 picks, but I think receiving all of those Washington draft picks was a huge win for them in the first place. Then they went and traded the 6th pick to move back, got more picks in the process, and still wound up with a solid player in Michael Brockers.

Kyle Williams – I really like what the Patriots did getting Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.  The Patriots desperately needed some athleticism in their front 7 and Jones and Hightower should fit in very well in their system.  I’d also look at the Chargers who got a nice value in Melvin Ingram.  Ingram will give the Chargers some much needed pass rush ability and will be ability to play multiple positions in the 3-4.  David DeCastro was also a great value pick for a Steelers line that has had major struggles the last few years.

Dave Vinluan – New England Patriots. Bill Belichick moved up twice in the draft and picked up two defensive players that can bring the ruckus in DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont’a Hightower.

Jeff Morgan – There are a lot to choose from here.  But you gotta love what the Patriots did here.  They traded up TWICE and grabbed two playmakers on the defensive side of things.  Both LB Dont’a Hightower and DE Chandler Jones will make an immediate impact this season, and help a defense that was one of the worst in the league last season.  Don’t forget, the Patriots are coming off a Super Bowl appearance last season too!  Patriots prove once again that they’re the best-run organization in the NFL.

 

Biggest Loser?

Daniel Ornelas – The loser in this draft has to be the Kansas City Chiefs. They used the 11th overall pick on somebody that has had issues with motivation and pure desire. We are talking about a guy who came out of nowhere and dominated the combine test sheet, not the stat sheet, much like Stephen Hill (teams have been passing on him after he has been so hyped up). This pick reminds me of the Taylor Mays (Safety from USC) pick in 2010 where defensive-minded head coach Mike Singletary just had to have his physical guy. The 49ers and Singletary gambled and reached for Mays, and now the Chiefs and Romeo Crennel reached for Poe. Didn’t work out for the 49ers, let’s see how it plays for KC.

Kyle Williams – A lot of people will talk about the Seahawks here, but I’m going to go with the Bucs picking Mark Barron at #7.  In my eyes, for a saftey to warrent a top 10 selection they need to be an absolute stud of a prospect (i.e. Sean Taylor, LaRon Landry, and Roy Williams).  Barron is a very good player, but is not nearly the prospect that other top 10 safties were.  In my eyes his draft position was the result of a very weak saftey class.

Dave Vinluan – St. Louis Rams. They waited patiently in hopes of landing big play WR Justin Blackmon, just to get leap frogged by the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is great potential with Michael Brockers, but he can’t help their abysmal offense score any touchdowns.

Jeff Morgan – I’m going with the Broncos here.  I realize they didn’t even make a pick, but that’s the whole point.  They traded down twice out of the 1st round, and while they grabbed a few more picks, they needed to make a selection here.  They were plenty of OT’s available, or even pass rushers to help the Broncos next season.  Peyton Manning isn’t getting any younger, and a solid 1st round pick would go a long way into helping the Broncos chances.


Biggest Surprise?

Daniel Ornelas – I was most surprised by the fact that AJ Jenkins was picked ahead of Stephen Hill. As a 49ers fan, I expected to see a guard taken considering Cordy Glenn was still there. If Glenn wasn’t selected, I was thinking some other guard, TE Coby Fleener (once coached by Harbaugh), Stephen Hill, or some cornerback. When I heard Jenkins, I immediately thought Janoris Jenkins of Northern Alabama. Boy was I surprised when they said AJ.

Kyle Williams – It’s pretty hard not to go with Bruce Irvin here.  There is no doubt that Irvin is a prolific pass rusher, arguably the best in this year’s draft, but I figured Irvin’s one-dimensional game and major character concerns would push him down draft boards.

Dave Vinluan – Seattle Seahawks selecting DE/OLB Bruce Irvin. Although he shows great flashes of being a premier pass rusher, that’s all Irvin may be. At WVU he excelled on 3rd downs with his speed, but that might not be enough to get by at the next level.

Jeff Morgan – All the trades!  I knew there would be movement in this draft, but 8 first round trades is ridiculous.  Jags and Patriots traded UP, Vikings traded back and STILL got their guy in Kahlil.  Cowboys surprised everyone by grabbing Claiborne from LSU, a great pick for them.  And then there were the questionable picks of the Seahawks and the Bears who both picked positions and players that they didn’t really need and could have drafted a better player.  All in all, it was a draft full of surprises all across the board.

 

Who ends up with the best career in this years 1st round?

Daniel Ornelas – I could go with the consensus and say Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin, but I have to go with Morris Claiborne. I have no doubt that Luck and Griffin will be great players in the NFL, but in a passing league I think Claiborne has a chance to shine. When you think shutdown corner, you think Jets CB Darelle Revis. I think this will changed in the future with Claiborne’s name alongside Revis. He is an excellent corner and will be playing for “America’s Team” in the Cowboys and will have high expectations that I believe he can exceed. In a league with Johnsons, Fitzgeralds, and other dominant receivers on pass-heavy offenses, Claiborne will have a chance to show his stuff.

Kyle Williams – We all know QB’s get the headlines so Andrew Luck is a safe pick here, but I think Luke Kuechly will be absolute stud alongside Jon Beason in Carolina.  Kuechly should make a lot of pro bowls before his time is done.

Dave Vinluan – David DeCastro. He will be put into a great situation at Pittsburgh playing next to Maurkice Pouncey. DeCastro was one of the top rated linemen in the draft and he will fit right in the Steelers smash mouth offense.

Jeff Morgan – There’s a loaded question.  The easy answer is Luck or RGIII, but I can see greatness from Claiborne, Blackmon, and Richardson.  It’s a deep 1st round draft, but when all is said and done I think the best player out of this draft will be Matt Kahlil.  It’s not the sexiest pick, but he’s as sure a perennial pro-bowl left tackle as it gets.  He’s going to be a cornerstone the Vikings have desperately been missing, and could go a long way in the development of Christian Ponder.  He ends up with the most Pro-Bowl selections out of any player in this draft.  Count it.

 

When we look back at this year’s 1st round it will be most remembered for…?

Daniel Ornelas – The day the Luck-Griffin competition started. This draft was very surprising with all the trades that happened before and during the draft, but it will be known as the day someone made a huge mistake, or the day someone scored big. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are two top-notch quarterbacks and the fact that they were picked number 1 and 2, respectively, will draw critics toward always making comparisons between the two. The Redskins paid a high price in trading up to get Griffin so if he turns out to be a bust, they will look back on this draft as the day they gambled and it didn’t pay off. As for Luck, the Colts new GM’s biggest move was made today when he selected the new leader to fill the big shoes that Peyton Manning left Luck to fill in Indianapolis. I think both will be just fine and this draft will be looked at as one of the best drafts in recent history.

Kyle Williams – The trading frenzy in the top 10.  Every pick from 2-7 was taken by a team that was not initially slotted to draft in that spot.  I can’t remember a draft that has been this trade-happy at the top, but it certainly made this one exciting.

Dave Vinluan – The trades. Along with Melvin Ingram and Roger Goodell’s ball so hard handshake.

Jeff Morgan – Defining 4 franchises.  The Colts, Redskins, Dolphins, and Browns all selected who they think will be their franchise QB.  Very rarely do all QB’s drafted in the 1st round work out.  A few of these teams will look back at this draft and point to it as the beginning of something great, and a few will look back and remember where it all went wrong.


Comments No Comments »



Think Matt Kalil is a no-brainer pick for the Vikings at #3? Think again. The allure of a cornerstone Left Tackle being a necessity for long-term success in the NFL is a thing of the past. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the starting left tackles on last 5 Super Bowl Champion teams…

David Diehl (twice)- Giants (a fifth round pick at guard)
Chad Clifton – Packers (second round),
Jermon Bushrod – Saints (fourth round)
Max Starks – Steelers (third round pick)

That’s ZERO 1st round draft picks, and only one of them was taken as early as the 2nd round. Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at the last few “Can’t Miss” left tackles taken in the top 5…

Joe Thomas (3rd Overall)
Jake Long (1st Overall)
Jason Smith (2nd Overall)

The Dolphins have made the playoffs 1 time since drafting Long, and the Browns barely register a pulse on the football field, let alone even threaten to make the playoffs each year. Now, that’s not to say that Thomas and Long aren’t great players…they are. But it comes down to the argument of whether or not the premium draft pick and salary (both players are in the top 15 salaries in the NFL) it takes to get these players, correlates to wins.

Taking the argument a bit further we can look at starting left tackle for each team that made the playoffs in the 2011 season. According to ProFootballFocus, amongst all offensive tackles, the starting playoff left tackles were rated 6th (Duane Brown), 12th (Andrew Whitworth), 15th (Jermon Bushrod), 16th (Matt Light), 32nd (Joe Staley), 33rd (Jeff Backus), 51st (Chad Clifton), 52nd (Bryant McKinnie), 56th (Sam Baker), 60th (Jonathan Scott), and 64th (David Diehl). Not that advanced stats are entirely telling, but there seems to be little correlation between a team’s left tackle and that team’s success.

So, turning this back to the Vikings pick, few would argue with the selection of Kalil, but it can very easily be argued that the Vikings should take a very long look at cornerback Morris Claiborne. While today’s offenses have learned to scheme around offensive line deficiencies, the same cannot be said defensive secondaries. Opposing quarterbacks will undoubtedly find a way to pick on a team with secondary weaknesses and with the Vikings having to face Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Jay Cutler 6 games a year you better believe the idea has crossed their minds.

Will the Vikings ignore this argument and select Kalil as the traditional line of thinking suggests they should? Possibly, but don’t be surprised if they go in another direction and don’t be surprised if that ends up being the right decision.


 

Comments No Comments »



ACDC may be back in black, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are back in blue!

The Dodgers have been on fire since the beginning of the season. Their record currently stands at 13-4 and they are tied with the Texas Rangers for the best record in the Majors. But of course, the number one question on everyone’s mind is how the Dodgers will finish the end of the 2012 season. Will they make it to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2009? Can Matt Kemp grab his first NL MVP trophy this season, after narrowly losing out to Ryan Braun last year?

One thing is apparent though; the Dodgers are starting off the year with a vibrant energy that can be felt echoing through the rafters of Chavez Ravine by not only the fans…but EVEN the opponents as well. New owners mean a fresh start with young athletes that are trying to take the Dodgers back to Red October, but can they actually get there?

Last year Dodgers CF Matt Kemp almost made it into the 40/40 club as only the 5th player to ever reach this prestigious mark, falling just 1 home run short. This hasn’t deterred Kemp in the slightest. During the offseason he has been working 10x harder and has come back in full “beastmode” to start the year. Heck, forget the 40/40 club, Kemp says he’s shooting for the 50/50 club (which to date has exactly ZERO members).

But one man doesn’t make a team and Kemp wouldn’t be doing so well if we failed to mention Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon. With his help he’s making it easier not only for Kemp to drive in runs but also batting partner Andre Ethier as well. Dee Gordon should also be praised for his speed on the base paths, which has allowed Kemp and Ethier to drive in runs at an exceptionally rapid rate (both have 22 RBI’s so far on the season).

With reigning Cy Young award winner, Clayton Kershaw leading a dominant pitching staff, The Dodgers expect the rest of the team to join Kemp and Ethier in going full “beastmode” and reaching the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. How far they’ll go in the playoffs is yet to be determined, but one thing is certain, Dodger Blue is back!





Comments No Comments »



The Dodgers, the “Lakeshow”, city of glitz and glamour, beautiful weather. Does Los Angeles sound like heaven on Earth, or what? Now imagine a brand new stadium and NFL team popping up in LA…madness! With the current situation in Minnesota, and uncertainty surrounding a few other NFL cities, it’s only a matter of time before one of these teams begin their search for a fresh start.

A Minnesota Senate committee narrowly approved a public subsidy on Friday to help the Vikings build a new football stadium, revving up the team’s struggling efforts, just hours after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited the state Capitol to ignite what had been a stagnant stadium debate. The Senate’s Local Government and Elections Committee passed the bill on an 8-6 vote after a hearing that went on for about four hours. While the stadium bill still faces a long haul, the committee’s vote gave the $975 million stadium proposal some new life.

So are the Vikings staying put, or heading west?

Let’s take at look at which teams are most likely to make the move to the City of Angels:

The Vikings will still play in the Metrodome next season, even though their lease has expired. This window of time allows LA to move in and snatch up the Vikings. While I don’t particularly like the idea of LA getting an NFL team, I think it’s one of the only options that could work out for the Vikings. LA is an open market, and the time to make a new move is now. The team can’t re-locate this year, but 2013 will be here before we know it. What’s crucial in this situation is trying to represent the wishes of Minnesotans and the Vikings fan base.
Likelihood of team moving to LA: 33%

I have a strong feeling the St. Louis Rams will stay put. Although AEG expressed interest in purchasing a majority stake in a franchise, St. Louis would have to be ruled out. The Rams were purchased by billionaire developer Stan Kroenke just a couple of years ago, so for him to sell a majority of the franchise he just purchased seems highly unlikely. Owning a venue is big money, and that should be next on Kroenke’s agenda.
Likelihood of team moving to LA: 24%

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a small-market team, but right off the bat, they seem like a better fit for LA than the Rams. The Jaguars are also at a disadvantage, competing with college football in a state that is truly devoted to the NCAA. The Jaguars don’t seem to have strong traditions or rivalries that a lot of other NFL teams have; sorry to say, but whose really gonna miss the Jaguars? The Los Angeles Jaguars would also allow a realignment in the NFL, maybe switching places with the Rams. This would create and instant L.A.-San Francisco rivalry in the NFC West, and a Tennessee-Indianapolis-St. Louis triangle in the AFC South.
Likelihood of team moving to LA: 40%

The San Diego Chargers are another team on the LA stadium radar; they are the team most commonly linked to the LA move. The Chargers are ultimately hoping to build a new stadium with a retractable roof in downtown San Diego, which would be an expanded part of the convention center. One major issue: the proposal doesn’t have the support of the San Diego Convention Center, which has written its own proposal. The Chargers really need a solid funding plan for a new stadium, or else it could be the end of an era for yet another San Diego franchise moving North up the I-5 freeway to join the LA market.
Likelihood of team moving to LA: 30%

No matter what happens, stay tuned…the LA-Stadium saga is just beginning!


Comments No Comments »



The San Diego Chargers found themselves with the 16th best defense in 2011 but ranked dead last on 3rd downs.  A dimension the Chargers have lacked over the years has been a consistent pass rush and with Peyton Manning joining the division the emphasis of the 2012 draft is without a doubt defense. With glaring needs at Safety and Outside Linebacker look General Manager A.J. Smith to address these needs in the first half of the draft.

Round 1 – Pick 18

Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB, Illinois –  Assuming the Chargers don’t trade up to grab Alabama safety Mark Barron or trade down for Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, I can see A.J. Smith giving another go at an outside pass rusher. Mercilus was the nation’s sack leader with 16, but may scare some teams due to his lack of productivity before his Junior year. This could hinder his chances of not being drafted higher than pick 18. He shows natural pass rush abilities, comes quick off the edge and knows how to work his way towards the QB. He will have to learn a few more pass rush moves as he won’t be able to rely strictly on speed. With the newly acquired Jarret Johnson, any OLB drafted in this spot would split time with the vet, easing his way into the starting spot over the years.

Other possible selections: LB Dont’a Hightower, S Mark Barron, S Harrison Smith

Round 2 – Pick 49

Bruce Irvin LB/DE, West Virginia – With the top 2 safeties off the board, the Chargers could be in a position to draft another highly touted sack artist, LB/DE Bruce Irvin. Much like Mercilus, Irvin comes off the edge very quick and shows natural pass rush abilities. He has a tall lengthy build, and can be a great situational rusher. He is very similar to Aldon Smith of the 49ers in the way he uses his speed and change of direction skill to get past blockers. The safety from Boise State, George Iloka, could be targeted here too. But a great pass rush can make a secondary look elite. I can’t imagine A.J. Smith being all that thrilled about being ranked dead last on 3rd down stops last season.  In order to change that, he will have to improve this unit by any means necessary.

Other possible selections: OLB Ronnell Lewis, OLB Bobby Wagner, S George Iloka

Round 3 – Pick 78

Alameda Ta’amu DT, Washington –  Antonio Garay has fit in well as the nose tackle in a rotational defensive line, but with this pick the Chargers could finally have the true NT they’ve been looking for since the release of Jamal Williams back in 2010. A mountain of a man at 6’3” and in the 320-350lbs. range, Ta’amu is the prototype nose tackle for a 3-4 defense. The majority of the time he takes up 2 blockers which frees up other rushers and it is rare to see him get pushed backwards. He has shown he can consistently take on double team blocks, and has the ability to break through them to make the tackle. He will never be a sack leader, but his strengths against the run and taking up space in the middle make him a great fit for the Chargers pass rush.

Other possible selections: S/CB Brandon Hardin, CB, Casey Hayward, RB Ronnie Hillman


Comments No Comments »



Yesterday we looked up a few names that are quickly rising up draft boards.  Here are a few prospects who are going the opposite direction and have seen their stock drop during the pre-draft evaluation process.

 

1.  Janoris Jenkins (Cornerback, North Alabama)– Jenkins is an immensely talented cover corner, possibly the most talented in this class, but his character issues off the field are going to scare a lot of teams off.  Jenkins was dismissed from Florida and ended up at North Alabama for his last season of play.  No team will deny Jenkin’s ability, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been completely taken off a lot of team’s boards.  Jenkins is the type of prospect who could be taken in the 1st round based on his talent (it only takes one team!), but could also fall to the 2nd or even 3rd round as teams might be afraid that he could end up as the next Pacman Jones.

 

2.  Jonathan Martin (Offensive Tackle, Stanford)– Martin received a lot of hype as a key piece of the Stanford offensive line that protected Andrew Luck for the past few years so when Martin entered the draft process many viewed him as one of the top offensive tackles and a potential top 10 pick.  While Martin does have a solid frame and is a very good athlete at tackle, the fact remains that he has struggles with strength and doesn’t quite show that nasty demeanor that teams like in offensive linemen.  Martin may be passed up for other tackle options such as Cordy Glenn, Mike Adams, and possibly Bobby Massie and could find himself being selected sometime in the late 1st round.

 

3.  Quinton Coples (Defensive End, North Carolina)– Coples has it all in terms of size (6-5 ¾ , 280+) and athleticism, but he leaves a lot of be desired in terms of work ethic and overall desire.  Before this past season Coples was seen as a potential top 5 pick, but many believe he played not to get hurt in 2011, thus adding questions to his mental approach to the game.  Coples isn’t an elite pass rusher, something teams would usually look for when drafting a lineman at the top of 1st round.  Teams may be willing to gamble on Coples’ scheme versatility and physical potential, but his questionable work ethic may push him into the mid or even late 1st round.

 

4.  Courtney Upshaw (Defensive End/Outside linebacker, Alabama)– Upshaw left Alabama on a championship high note and was seen as a top prospect for a 3-4 outside linebacker.  Unfortunately for Upshaw, pre-draft workouts have left many teams questioning Upshaw’s role and ability at the next level.  Upshaw measured in at 6-1 ¾ and put up a disappointing 40 time (4.78), vertical (27 ½) and three-cone drill (7.73).  These tests really exposed Upshaw’s lack of explosion, quickness, and agility, all important factors in a 3-4 OLB.  The result is that Upshaw may now need to play 4-3 defensive end, where he lacks length and pass rush moves.  Some may love Upshaw on tape, but many will continue to question his lack of true position and that could push him into the late 1st round or possibly even the 2nd round.

 

5.  Zach Brown (Outside Linebacker, North Carolina)– Another UNC prospect who has it all physically, but leaves something to be desired mentally.  Brown is certainly a stud in terms of pure workout numbers and put on a great performance at this years combine.  But when you put on the tape for Brown, teams will see a lack of instincts and football IQ as well as Brown’s struggles to shed blocks.  There also have been some questions raised about Brown’s maturity and work ethic.  While Brown has the athletic ability to be a high 1st rounder, the flaws in his game and character may push him down into the 2nd round.


Comments No Comments »




We all know about the Luck’s, RG3’s, Blackmon’s, Trent Richardson’s, and the other college football stars of the world that will be selected early in this year’s NFL Draft. Here are a few players who didn’t dominate the headlines of college football, but will hear their name called earlier than some think come Thursday.

 

1.  Fletcher Cox (Defensive Tackle, Mississippi St.) Here’s a guy who very well may be the first surprise pick in round 1. There’s been a lot of hype behind Dontari Poe after the combine as well as Michael Brockers after LSU’s great season, but Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox will most likely be the first defensive tackle off the board. The most productive and disruptive of the top defensive tackles, Cox has the athleticism to match. At 6’4 and just under 300 pounds, Cox ran a spectacular 4.79 40 in Indy, along with long 34 ½ inch arms. This gives Cox all the tools needed to be a great 3-technique tackle in a 4-3. Cox could benefit from teams’ desire to add disruptive defensive lineman ala the New York Giants and should land himself a spot in the top 15, possibly even the top 10.

 

2.  Stephon Gilmore (Cornerback, South Carolina): After perennial top pick Morris Claiborne, this years cornerback class is a bit of a toss up and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore could potentially end up as the second CB off the board. While bigger names like Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins are often ranked ahead of Gilmore, both players have character and off the field issues that could knock them down some draft boards. Measuring at 6’0 ½ 190 and running a scorching 4.40 in Indy, Gilmore has everything teams want in a shutdown corner and may very easily hear his name called in the top half of round 1.

 

3.  Cordy Glenn (Offensive Tackle/Guard, Georgia): While not looked at as one of the elite offensive tackle prospects, Glenn’s massive size at over 6-5 340 and athleticism that allow him to play multiple line positions could make him a very attractive option for teams looking for offensive line help. Glenn initially entered the draft process being looked at as a guard, but showed the athleticism and ability to play right tackle at the Senior Bowl, where he put up a great performance. Glenn is now seen as a road grader right tackle prospect that also has the ability to move inside to guard if needed. Glenn’s size, athleticism, and versatility make him a very attractive option to teams in need of offensive line help. Glenn should go somewhere in the mid-first round, with the potential to go as high as #10 to Buffalo.

 

4.  Stephen Hill (Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech): Coming into the combine as a fairly unknown name, Hill burst onto the scene, measuring in at 6’4 215 and running an incredible 4.36 40. Hill is undoubtedly raw and his ability is relatively unknown due to Georgia Tech’s run heavy offense, but any team that needs a pass catcher will take a serious look at those physical numbers. Due to his massive potential, Hill could see himself go as high as the mid-first round and likely won’t slide past the early second round.

 

5.  Josh Robinson (Cornerback, Central Florida): Another Indy combine darling, Josh Robinson broke onto the scene running the fastest 40 in Indy with a 4.33 along with an explosive 38.5” vertical. At a very solid 5’10” 199, Robinson is an elite athlete with fluid hips as well as big time return ability. Although very raw, there’s always a team willing to take a gamble on those type of measurables, especially in the increasingly pass-happy NFL.  Robinson shouldn’t go any later than mid-round 2 and may even sneak into the back end of round 1.


Comments No Comments »


(The St.Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series)

Do you see something wrong with the picture above? Big guy, had one of the best 11 year starts to an MLB career EVER. No? Well, apparently neither do the Cardinals as they are rolling along just fine without Albert Pujols.

I could tell you that the Cardinals will make the playoffs this year and that the Angels will miss the playoffs this year and you could call me crazy. This offseason, it seemed as if the Cardinals were doomed when they lost out on Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa announced his retirement after winning the 2011 World Series. Pujols jumped ship with the Los Angeles Angels and they instantly became an American League powerhouse. The Cardinals, meanwhile, brought in new manager, and former catcher, Mike Matheny and also signed some guy named Carlos Beltran. While Beltran is no Pujols, the guy is no slouch either. He’s more than capable of putting up big numbers for the Cards, who look poised to defend their title without Fat Albert’s services.

Does the name David Freese ring a bell? This kid only put the team on his back to help the Cards slip into the playoffs and eventually win the World Series last year. He only broke the postseason RBI record, with 21, 5 HRs, and hit .397 in the playoffs last year. In fact, it was Freese that won the World Series and NLCS MVP, not Pujols. The fact is, St. Louis was prepared to lose Pujols last year and they are proving it this year with a batting lineup featuring Freese, Matt Holliday (remember him?), Lance Berkman (NL Comeback Player of the Year), Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Rafael Furcal. Factor that in with a rotation featuring a healthy Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and young lefty Jaime Lopez, you have yourself a team set for another playoff run. With a punchless, princeless Brewers team, who else is there to contend with them? I like their chances at the playoffs this year as they are 7-3 and leading the league in runs, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage so far.

Out west Pujols and his new crew are going to have to get by the back-to-back American League Champion Texas Rangers to get into the playoffs. If not by division, they will have to beat out one of those tough AL East teams (there are four of them now) to get one of the two Wild Card spots. So yeah, go ahead and call me crazy. Pujols out, Cards in. Yes, we are talking playoffs Jim Mora


Follow Us:

Follow Daniel:

Comments No Comments »




In truly dramatic fashion, Bubba Watson won the Masters in Augusta over the weekend. Drama in golf? I know what you’re thinking…a Tiger Woods meltdown? Nope. Try a thrilling play-off win against Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, who made only the fourth double-eagle in the 76-year history of this major!

Watson was so deep in the woods Sunday afternoon that he couldn’t even see where he was going. With his golf ball nestled on a bed of pine needles, he hit a gap wedge that shot out toward the fairway and hooked some 40 yards and onto the green. His incredible shot in the play-off sat 10 feet from the hole, simply setting up an easier par for the win. Watson made this win all seem so easy; he even said to reporters, “I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and somehow I’m here talking to you with a green jacket on.” So how did a golfer whose never had a swing coach and rarely hits the ball in a straight line win this legendary tournament?

His style of play is called “Bubba Golf”. When he’s off the course, he’s posting videos of his own stunts on Twitter, and his dream car purchase was the “General Lee 01,” the original car in the TV series “The Dukes of Hazard.” Now he’s the Master’s Champion and it’s time to move up; Watson is now ranked number 4 in the world. What’s astonishing is that this self-described goofball looked more determined than ever to win this tournament. This is coming from a player whose father was the only teacher Watson ever had. He never took many lessons, and his father only showed him how to grip the club and swing it; Bubba figured the rest out himself. It’s a good thing too, because he still doesn’t have a coach.

When one of the most unorthodox players in golf doesn’t want a teacher and wants to keep playing “his way”, you know you’re in for a fun ride.


Comments No Comments »


Search
Follow Us
Stay Connected
Get the SportsForce Blog in Your Email