Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grading The 2012 NFL Draft: AFC South





A division once dominated by the Indianapolis Colts, had a new division winner in 2012. The Houston Texans rode their top five defense to a wild card win over the Bengals, before losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the division round. The division had two top ten picks and landed the coveted Andrew Luck. Let's take a look at each team:


Houston Texans - The Texans added a good defensive end in Whitney Mercilus in the first round before not having another pick until the third round. Houston tried to improve their interior offensive line in the third and fourth round with Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones. They also tried to improve their offense by adding two wide receivers in DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. Both players could turn into number three receivers. The Texans are obviously excited by both players as they are now shopping Jacoby Jones. They may have got a late round steal in Nebraska's Jared Crick. Houston is obviously trying to continue to build their defense in hopes that it will bring them a championship. Grade: B


Indianapolis Colts - Plenty of people are going to argue that the Colts had a great draft because they got Andrew Luck. However, they did have the first overall pick so they did not really make a smart pick with Luck. I think the later rounds is where the grade should come from and the Colts missed in the later rounds. Indianapolis seemed to only draft offensive players. I think Coby Fleener can be a star but why they would take another tight end only a round later is beyond me. T.Y. Hilton is an interesting prospect and could become a decent number two receiver but beyond that I do not think the Colts added many starters. They also ignored their defense. One that was sub par all year long. I think the Colts will be drafting in the top 10 next year and will be looking to draft defense throughout. Grade: B-


Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jacksonville Jaguars were definitely a confusing team in the draft. They had to be the laughing stock of Saturday as they drafted a punter in the third round. Even if he is a top punter, he will not be on the field enough to make a difference. However, the Jags started the draft off on a high note. They actually gave Blaine Gabbert a play maker in Justin Blackmon and helped the defense out by drafting Andre Branch. After those two picks it seems like the Jaguars let a child make the picks for them. Jacksonville fans have to be hoping that they did not miss with their first two picks. Grade: C


Tennessee Titans - The Titans tried to add a weapon for Jake Locker in the first round with Kendall Wright. I am not sold on Wright as an NFL wide receiver but at the least he gives Tennessee a vertical threat. Zach Brown is definitely an athletic but not much of a hard hitter. He should be a good linebacker but nothing special. The Titans failed to address their needs for a cornerback until the fourth round. Coty Sensabaugh could be decent cornerback but I thought Tennessee should have addressed this need earlier in the draft. Overall, I think the Titans added two starters, zero stars and a whole lot of depth. Grade: C

Grading the NFL Draft: AFC North


With the AFC East complete, I turn my attention North. Last season, the AFC North had three teams make the playoffs. With a successful 2012 draft, the AFC North looks to continue their success and send three teams back to the playoffs. Let's take a look at each team's draft and assign them a grade:

Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens absolutely knocked it out of the park with their first three picks. No one would have foreseen Courtney Upshaw falling to the second round, but he did and the Ravens got a first round talent, with the third pick of the second round. With their second pick in the second round the Ravens added Kelechi Osemele, who happens to have one of the best names in the draft (so great, I may have to name my first born Kelechi). He should start at guard this year for the Ravens and could be moved to right tackle before the year ends. Their third round pick of Bernard Pierce should help keep Ray Rice healthy by giving him some plays off. Sixth round pick Tommy Streeter could be a late round steal as he has some great speed and hands. The rest of their draft seems devoid of starters but that may change by the end of the year. Grade: B



Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals had one of, if not, the best draft of every team in the NFL. They also had a hilarious draft. Cincinnati actually drafted based on a pattern. Defense, then offense. They did this for every pick from the first round to the sixth round. I do not know if this was just coincidence, but it is hilarious nonetheless. Their first six players could all become starters by the beginning of the season. Dre Kirkpatrick (1st round), and Kevin Zeitler (2nd round) will definitely be contributing throughout the year. Kirkpatrick is an interesting prospect as some saw him as the second best back in the draft. Kirkpatrick is a hard hitting corner back who should help the Bengals as they face Big Ben, Joe Flacco and Brandon Weeden (assuming he starts). Devon Still (round 2) and Brandon Thompson (round 3) should compete for a starting defensive tackle job and both could be starting in the middle of the line for Cincinnati by week one. Mohamed Sanu and Orson Charles will give Andy Dalton more offensive weapons. While I am not too high on Sanu, grabbing him in the third round could certainly be a steal. It is hard to find a bad pick anywhere in the Bengals' draft. Grade: A+


Cleveland Browns: I think the Browns hit with their first three picks. Trent Richardson is going to be a star in this league and Brandon Weeden, while older, is certainly capable of starting in the NFL. Mitchell Schwartz will be able to protect Weeden or any other Browns quarterback for a long time. However, after the first two rounds it is hard to find anyone that may start for the Browns. Inside Linebacker James-Michael Johnson (never trust a man with two first names), and Billy Wynn are intriguing prospects who should compete for a starting job but do not stand out as anything too special. Ryan Miller and Emmanuel Acho are interesting but will most likely only become depth players. The rest of the Browns draft is nothing special. Grade: B-


Pittsburgh Steelers: Ah, yes one of the other teams that the media loves to gush over. I thought it was hilarious when ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi said "they don't have backups, they have starters-in-waiting". Not only is Bruschi one of the worst analysts on television but he obviously does not watch the Steelers. Pittsburgh hit on their first four picks, but looked to stop caring about the draft after that. David DeCastro falling to them in the first round may have been one of the luckiest moments of the draft. If Mike Adams can stay away from the marijuana (and Big Ben), he could be a starting tackle for the Steelers. Sean Spence and Alameda Ta'amu will most likely not start next year but could start if someone gets injured or they have a good pre-season. I think it is interesting that the Steelers did not address the inside linebacker position at all during this draft as they released James Farrior and are now relying on Lawrence Timmons. I think the Steelers got three starters out of this draft. Grade: B

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grading The Draft: AFC East



The 2012 NFL Draft is over and teams are scrambling to sign undrafted free agents. Mr. Irrelevant (Chandler Harnish out of N. Illinois) has been named. Now it is time for me to start grading the draft for each team. I will start with the AFC East because it has the Buffalo Bills. Let's start right there:

Buffalo Bills: Initially I did not like the first round pick. I would have been happier with the Bills drafting Michael Floyd. I still think I would have been happier with Floyd on Buffalo, but I understand the need for Gilmore. He's a physical back who should be able to come in and start from day one. In the second round they got an absolute steal in Cordy Glenn. He is versatile and will most likely start the year at tackle (most likely left, but could be right). Zebrie Sanders and Tank Carder in the fifth round is absolute steals. Sanders could be the starting right tackle by the start of the season and Carder could pressure Sheppard for the starting position. I do not like TJ Graham that much because I feel like he could have been drafted later. Overall, the Bills addressed two major needs in corner back and offensive line help. Their grade goes up because they were able to get lucky with Sanders and Carder in the 5th, along with Cordy Glenn in the 2nd. However, they did not address the backup quarterback need and may have not of addressed the wide receiver position : Grade: A-



Miami Dolphins: I am not sure what to make of the Dolphins draft. As a Bills fan, Ryan Tannehill sort of scares me. He is athletic and has one heck of an arm. Jonathan Martin should help their offensive line and keep the rookie quarterback on his feet. They may have secured a steal in Lamar Miller who, because of his speed, could be a home run threat from day one. Michael Egnew cannot block but is a great athlete with amazing hands. Oliver Vernon should be a situational pass rusher that could develop into a starter. B.J. Cunningham could become a perfect number two receiver by the time the season starts. However, they did not really address the receiver need. This grade will depend on Ryan Tannehill but for now : Grade: B-


New York Jets: The Jets looked to be having a great draft in the beginning two days but fell apart on day three. I really like Quinton Coples. Him and Muhammad Wilkerson could become a force to deal with in the AFC East. Stephen Hill was seen by many as a first round pick and could become the number two receiver the Jets are looking for. However, the rest of their picks seemed like they were reaching more than getting value. They passed on some talent in the third round and did not have picks again until the sixth. The draft started bright, but faded in the end. Grade: C+


New England Patriots: Ugh where to start with the New England Patriots. It happens every year, the Patriots select players and the analysts gush over how great their picks were and how smart the Patriots are to have drafted them. And guess what, it happened again this year and still the Patriots did nothing special. Chandler Jones is a one trick pony. I watched him for four years at Syracuse and was never as impressed as the analysts seemed to be. However, he did go to New England so of course they were impressed. I do like Dont'a Hightower. I think he will flourish alongside Jerod Mayo. Their second round safety was a head scratcher. After that, their only stand out was Alfonzo Dennard and he has been in nothing but trouble since the off-season began. I can almost guarantee the media will give the Patriots a high grade, most likely a B+ or even A- but I do not think they did as good as most. I will be writing an article on the gushing of the media over the New England Patriots soon as I think all of their moving on around on draft day actually is costing them more than they think. I think Dont'a Hightower will be the only one from this draft that sticks around:  Grade: B-

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Which Direction I Want The Buffalo Bills To Go In Round Two



I will admit, I am and was none too happy about the Buffalo Bills first round pick. I think the team has bigger needs elsewhere and could have got a capable corner back in the second, third or fourth rounds. Furthermore, I do not think Gilmore is an elite player and normally at #10 you are looking for an elite player. I believe Buffalo would have been better off, trading down to get more picks (as they could have drafted Gilmore later) or drafting Michael Floyd. I understand the reasoning if you feel that Gilmore is an elite corner, but I do not think that about him. I think he will struggle with the more physical receivers of the NFL but hopefully I am pleasantly surprised. 


I cannot fix the first round pick, but I can certainly give my advice for the second round. I think Buffalo will be looking in two areas, wide receiver or offensive tackle. This is all confirmed after Buddy Nix announced the team wants to add a receiver and tackle still. Luckily for the Bills there is still plenty of talent in either position. Cordy Glenn, Jonathan Martin, Mike Adams, Bobby Massie, Zebrie Sanders and Mitchell Schwartz are all capable tackles. Some are better than others but may not be available at #41. Buffalo could also look at Stephen Hill, Reuben Randle, Alshon Jefferey, Brian Quick, Mohamaed Sanu, Juron Criner or Nick Toon. All seven are capable of becoming #2 wide receivers. 


I think Buffalo should hope one of the top remaining offensive lineman drops to them at #41, or trade up a few spots to secure them (unlikely knowing Buddy Nix). The receivers are still deep and there will definitely be one there in the third round. They could shock a lot of people and look to draft a linebacker like Zach Brown, Lavonte David, Ronnell Lewis, Sean Spence, or Mychal Kendricks or even Tight End, Coby Fleener. However, here are the three smartest choices at #41:

1. Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia - The Bills have to hope Glenn can fall to them. He is capable of playing guard and tackle, which would provide depth at a number of positions on the offensive line. Glenn is ranked as a first round talent and would be an absolute steal at the forty  first pick.



2. Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver - Georgia Tech - Another player who was ranked by most as a first round talent but slipped into the second round. Hill will most likely be gone by the time the Bills pick but if he is not they should not hesitate to pull the trigger.


3. Jonathan Martin - Offensive Tackle - Stanford - As mentioned, the offensive tackle position is not very deep in this draft. It would make sense for the Bills to fill that position in the second round and look to fill the other needs later. Martin is another player who shocked many by slipping. He has first round talent and would be another steal at forty one.


Honorable Mention: Coby Fleener - Tight End - Stanford

Best Players Still Available In The NFL Draft





There are still plenty of players who could become stars left for the taking in the NFL Draft. The second round starts tomorrow at 7pm on ESPN and teams will still be looking to add starters for the 2012 season. Here are some of the best available players:

Coby Fleener - Tight End - Stanford

Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia
Courtney Upshaw - Defensive End/Outside Linebacker - Alabama
Andre Branch - Defensive End - Clemson
Peter Konz - Center - Wisconsin
Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver - Georgia Tech
Bobby Massie - Offensive Tackle - Ole Miss
Jerel Worthy - Defensive Tackle - Michigan State
Reuben Randle - Wide Receiver - Louisiana State University
Chris Polk - Running Back - Washington
Alshon Jeffery - Wide Receiver - South Carolina

Second Round Mock Draft - 3 Hours Left

It is draft day! That can only mean one thing, mock drafts! Here is my first round mock from the other day:

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck - Quarterback - Stanford
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III - Quarterback - Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil - Offensive Tackle - Southern California
4. Cleveland Browns - Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback - Texas A&M
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trent Richardson - Running back - Alabama
6. Saint Louis Rams - Morris Claiborne - Corner back - Louisiana State University
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Justin Blackmon - Wide Receiver - Oklahoma State University
8. Miami Dolphins - Quinton Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina 
9. Carolina Panthers - Dontari Poe - Nose Tackle - Memphis
10. Buffalo Bills - Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame
11. Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro - Offensive Guard - Stanford
12. Seattle Seahawks - Melvin Ingram - Defensive End - South Carolina
13. Arizona Cardinals - Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia 
14. Dallas Cowboys - Stephon Gilmore - Corner back - South Carolina
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Fletcher Cox - Defensive Tackle - Mississippi State 
16. New York Jets - Mark Barron - Safety - Alabama 
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick - Corner back - Alabama
18. San Diego Chargers - Nick Perry - Defensive End - Southern California
19. Chicago Bears - Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver - Georgia Tech
20. Tennessee Titans - Courtney Upshaw - Defensive End - Alabama
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Reuben Randle - Wide Receiver - Louisiana State University
22. Cleveland Browns - Riley Reiff - Offensive Tackle - Iowa
23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins - Corner back - North Alabama
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Luke Kuechly - Inside Linebacker - Notre Dame
25. Denver Broncos - Michael Brockers - Defensive Tackle - Louisiana State University
26. Houston Texans - Coby Fleener - Tight End - Stanford
27. New England Patriots - Kendall Wright - Wide Receiver - Baylor
28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch - Defensive End - Clemson
29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz - Center - Wisconsin
30. San Francisco 49ers - Jerel Worthy - Defensive Tackle - Michigan State
31. New England Patriots - Whitney Mercilus - Outside Linebacker/Defensive End - Illinois
32. New York Giants - Kevin Zeitler - Offensive Guard - Wisconsin

Now for my second round:

1. Saint Louis Rams - Harris Smith - Strong Safety - Notre Dame
2. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Martin - Offensive Tackle - Stanford
3. Minnesota Vikings - Alshon Jeffrey - Wide Receiver - South Carolina
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Shea McClellin - Outside Linebacker - Boise State
5. Cleveland Browns - Chandler Jones - Defensive End - Syracuse
6. Jacksonville Jaguars - Andre Branch - Defensive End - Clemson
7. Saint Louis Rams - Amini Silatolu - Offensive Guard - Midwestern State
8. Carolina Panthers - Brandon Boykin - Corner back - Georgia
9. Buffalo Bills - Bobby Massie - Offensive Tackle - Ole Miss
10. Miami Dolphins - Chris Givens - Wide Receiver - Wake Forrest
11. Seattle Seahawks - Bobby Wagner - Outside Linebacker - Utah State
12. Kansas Chiefs - Devon Still - Defensive Tackle - Penn State
13. Dallas Cowboys - Brandon Brooks - Offensive Guard - Miami (OH)
14. Philadelphia Eagles - Mychal Kendricks - Inside Linebacker - California
15. New York Jets - Mike Adams - Offensive Tackle - Ohio State
16. New England Patriots - Jeff Allen - Offensive Tackle - Illinois
17. San Diego Chargers -  AJ Jenkins - Wide Receiver - Illinois
18. Chicago Bears - Bruce Irvin - Outside Linebacker - West Virginia
19. Philadelphia Eagles - Lavonte David - Outside Linebacker - Nebraska
20. Tennessee Titans - Josh Robinson - Corner back - Central Florida
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Doug Martin - Running back - Boise State
22. Detroit Lions - David Wilson - Running back - Virginia Tech
23. Atlanta Falcons - Vinny Curry - Defensive End - Marshall
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kelechi Osemele - Offensive Tackle - Iowa State
25. Denver Broncos - Trumaine Johnson - Corner back - Montana
26. Houston Texans - Kendall Reyes - Defensive Tackle - Connecticut
27. Green Bay Packers  - Mitchell Schwartz - Offensive Tackle - California
28. Baltimore Ravens - Brian Quick - Wide Receiver - Appalachian State
29. San Francisco 49ers - Mohamed Sanu - Wide Receiver - Rutgers
30. New England Patriots - George Iloka - Free Safety - Boise State
31. New York Giants -  Jamell Fleming - Corner Back - Oklahoma

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Third Mock Draft: One Day To Go




With just over two days left until the 2012 NFL Draft gets underway, I look to create at least one more mock draft. My last draft involved one trade but I think this time around there will be no trades. I may get through the second round today depending on how much time I have. Here is my first round mock:


1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck - Quarterback - Stanford
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III - Quarterback - Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil - Offensive Tackle - Southern California
4. Cleveland Browns - Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback - Texas A&M
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trent Richardson - Running back - Alabama
6. Saint Louis Rams - Morris Claiborne - Corner back - Louisiana State University
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Justin Blackmon - Wide Receiver - Oklahoma State University
8. Miami Dolphins - Quinton Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina 
9. Carolina Panthers - Dontari Poe - Nose Tackle - Memphis
10. Buffalo Bills - Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame
11. Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro - Offensive Guard - Stanford
12. Seattle Seahawks - Melvin Ingram - Defensive End - South Carolina
13. Arizona Cardinals - Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia 
14. Dallas Cowboys - Stephon Gilmore - Corner back - South Carolina
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Fletcher Cox - Defensive Tackle - Mississippi State 
16. New York Jets - Mark Barron - Safety - Alabama 
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick - Corner back - Alabama
18. San Diego Chargers - Nick Perry - Defensive End - Southern California
19. Chicago Bears - Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver - Georgia Tech
20. Tennessee Titans - Courtney Upshaw - Defensive End - Alabama
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Reuben Randle - Wide Receiver - Louisiana State University
22. Cleveland Browns - Riley Reiff - Offensive Tackle - Iowa
23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins - Corner back - North Alabama
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Luke Kuechly - Inside Linebacker - Notre Dame
25. Denver Broncos - Michael Brockers - Defensive Tackle - Louisiana State University
26. Houston Texans - Coby Fleener - Tight End - Stanford
27. New England Patriots - Kendall Wright - Wide Receiver - Baylor
28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch - Defensive End - Clemson
29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz - Center - Wisconsin
30. San Francisco 49ers - Jerel Worthy - Defensive Tackle - Michigan State
31. New England Patriots - Whitney Mercilus - Outside Linebacker/Defensive End - Illinois
32. New York Giants - Kevin Zeitler - Offensive Guard - Wisconsin

On The Clock: Buffalo Bills


By: Ray Beamesderfer

An early Cinderella story in 2011, the Bills quickly faded in the second half of the season when injuries and poor quarterback play struck the team. Injuries to Fred Jackson, George Wilson, and Kyle Williams certainly didn't help matters, but Buffalo's main concern was the worst starting OLB duo in the league in Chris Kelsay and Spencer Johnson. Johnson is a converted DT, while "fan-favorite" Kelsay is a mediocre LDE at best who was asked to be the Bills primary pass rusher. As a result, opposing quarterbacks had all day to throw, and running backs found it very easy to run to the outside.

However that shouldn't be a problem this season, as the Bills had one of the better off seasons in the league. They signed former #1 overall pick Mario Williams, and Mark Anderson who is coming off of a stellar 10 sack season. That's not to say the Bills don't have their fair share of holes still. They have no one across from Stevie Johnson, and with the departure of left tackle Demetress Bell, they only have 2011 fourth round pick Chris Hairston to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick's blind side. 

1. Stephon Gilmore - Cornerback - 
South Carolina
Gilmore has went from relative unknown in a very strong corner class, to almost a sure fire top 15 pick in a matter of two months. It's often wise to be weary of late risers, but I believe Gilmore is the real deal, and it's not hard to see why he's probably the hottest prospect going right now. He's a three year starter in the SEC so you know he has played top competition, a former quarterback so you know he's smart, and absolutely no injury history so you know he's durable. Then you watch him play and you see a kid with long arms, who is very physical while smooth in coverage. I usually hate comparing guys who went to the same school, but Gilmore reminds me a lot of former Gamecock standout Jonathan Joseph who was a draft day sleeper and has turned into one of the very best corners in the league. 

2. Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia
Another option for the Bills who has been steadily climbing draft boards since the combine is CordY Glenn. He showed great athleticism in Indy, and despite some experts thinking he is more of a guard in the NFL, I believe Buddy Nix is seriously considering this young man as the LT of the future. He started a lot of game in the SEC, which automatically catching Buddy's eye, but I also think he compares quite favorably to former San Diego left tackle Marcus Mcneil. Nix saw plenty of Mcneil during his time as Assistant GM with the Chargers. 

3. Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame
In my opinion this is as low as Floyd will drop in this draft. He didn't make an official visit to Buffalo, but if he falls past Jacksonville at 7 and Carolina at 9, I do not think there is any way the Bills pass on a guy that big and that fast. They could use a compliment to Stevie Johnson and could give Ryan Fitzpatrick another offensive weapon. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I Love The NFL Draft & You Should Too







Have you noticed that I enjoy to write about the NFL Draft? If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome, stay around a while, maybe post a comment or two and it is nice to have you here. For everyone else, I am sure you have noticed by now that I love the NFL Draft. Maybe it is because I spend most of my fall Saturdays watching college football. Maybe it is because I want to see my team (Buffalo) try to build to the future. Maybe it is because I like to see the Jets fans constantly boo their draft pick. Maybe I like to see Todd McShay and Mel Kiper bicker back and forth like teenage girls. Or, maybe it is because I am a tad bit insane and love to put myself through three straight days of football talk. Whichever reason suits you, I can guarantee you one thing, it is going to be the last time you get this much football talk until college football starts in August.


The NFL Draft can be an exciting event to watch. Normally, what I like to do is turn the draft on, wait for the noise they make when a pick is in and then watch the pick. Then I proceed to listen to the analysts tell me stuff I already know about the prospects and then tell them why they are right or wrong. This generally lasts for a minute and then I go back to whatever I was doing (often homework) until the next pick is in. Furthermore, as an avid fan of college football I know a lot about these prospects. It is fun to watch players go from first year players in college, to the NFL. 


For those of you who are not insane enough to argue with the television or do not know that much about prospects there is still room for excitement with the NFL Draft. Even if you only watch the draft for the pick your team makes, it can still be fun to watch. Sometimes I learn a thing or two about prospects my team drafts. You can also learn how a player drafted will improve your team or perhaps your team's rivals. 


ESPN and the NFL Network will also stop showing players receiving phone calls before they are drafted so the pick will be a complete surprise.


Finally, if you know enough about the prospects in the draft you could make your own first round mock draft and figure out how many you got right and wrong. 


I hope you take a few minutes to catch the NFL Draft this year. Remember, it starts this Thursday, April 26th at 8pm. My next mock draft will come sometime tomorrow so be on the look out for that as well. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On The Clock: Carolina Panthers




By: Ray Beamesderfer




The Panthers went from being the worst team in 2011, to being one of the more exciting teams to watch in 2012. That is due in large part to Cam Newton, Carolina's 1st overall selection from last year's draft. Despite his critics, Newton has been successful since day one, while revitalizing the Panther's potent run game, and breathing life back into receiver Steve Smith's career, who enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career. The reason the Panthers pick in the top ten once again is because they provide one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Last year they could not get after the quarterback or stop the run and the secondary struggled to turn the ball over to offense. 


Carolina was 20th in the NFL with 14 interceptions, 25th in the NFL with 31 sacks, 26th in the NFL allowing 389.8 yards per game and 27th in the NFL giving up 25.4 points per game.


Unfortunately for Panther's fans, many of the needs that presented themselves during the 2011 season, were not remedied during the off-season. In fact the Panther's had an incredibly quiet offseason, clearly looking to the draft to fill the holes with young stars. They could start the draft by looking to add a defensive player in: 


1. Fletcher Cox - Defensive Tackle - Mississippi St.
Depsite selecting two defensive tackles in the third round last year, the Panthers clearly still need help on the interior of the line. Cox has been rising up draft boards for the last month, and would clearly start right away. If the Panthers feel confident in Greg Hardy starting at defensive end, I believe Cox is their number one choice. He would be an anchor against the run game, but I also believe he has the athleticism to provide interior pass rush, and flush opposing quarterbacks outside of the pocket into the waiting arms of Charles Johnson and the aforementioned Hardy. 


2. Melvin Ingram - Defensive End - South Carolina
Most experts seem to think if the Panthers are interested in upgrading their pass rush, they will look to the hometown kid Quinton Coples. However I have a feeling they will migrate south and find their defensive end in Melvin Ingram. Ingram has been dismissed by some as a top 10 prospect because of his short arms, but you cannot deny his versatility or his obvious ability to get after the quarterback. Ingram has racked up 19 sacks while playing in the SEC the last two seasons, so consistency or production is not an issue with this guy. This may not be the most popular pick, but I feel Melvin Ingram is a definite sleeper to watch for this season, and we've definitely seen crazier things happen. 


3. Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame
As mentioned before the combination of Steve Smith and Cam Newton was quite deadly for the Panthers a season ago. The problem was when Newton got in trouble, he didn't have that tall lengthy receiver to bail him out, and he would often times throw silly interceptions as a result. Floyd fixes that problem, and is great value if he were to fall to nine. The South Bend youngster might be a top five talent in this draft, and some argue he is better than Oklahoma State standout, and consensus number one receiver Justin Blackmon. The problem with Floyd is he has past issues with alcohol, and some wonder about his ability against the better corners in the country. Still, Floyd showed at the combine he not only is very tall, but very fast. With Smith age, and the Panthers needing an immediate contributor at wide out, Floyd is a very real possibility.

On The Clock: Miami Dolphins


With the eighth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins will have to figure out how they can improve their team in order to compete with the rest of the AFC East. I know the off-season is not officially over, but the Dolphins are currently my pick to be the worst team in the NFL in 2012. I will officially create my 2012 NFL standings later in the summer, but before we get into that, let's look at how the Dolphins ended up 6-10 in 2011. 


The Dolphins certainly had a rough time passing the ball in 2011. They relied predominately on Matt Moore but Chad Henne started three games as well. Moore finished the season with 2,497 yards, 16 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 9 fumbles and a 60.5 completion percentage. The Dolphins brought in David Garrard to compete for the starting job in 2012. However, I do not think either quarterback is going to have an easy time, especially after Miami traded away their best receiver, Brandon Marshall, for two third round picks. Furthermore, Miami's offensive line struggled in 2011 allowing 52 sacks for 30th in the NFL. Miami was able to get a good year out of Reggie Bush as he finally topped 1,000 yards with 1,086 yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 fumbles. Brandon Marshall was the only receiver to get over 1,000 yards with 1,214 yards but he was traded. 


Miami's defense was stellar in 2011 as they allowed 345.1 yards per game (15th) and 19.6 points per game (6th). They also had 41 sacks (10th) and 16 interceptions (16th). In order to beat Tom Brady, the Dolphins are going to have to get pressure on the quarterback and they could turn to the draft to find their pass rusher. However, I think their needs are elsewhere and they will look first at:


1. Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback - Texas A&M - I know Miami's general manager Jeff Ireland has discussed that they may not draft Tannehill but I think that is just a smoke screen. Miami needs a quarterback and they should turn to Tannehill as their answer. Whether or not he will be a franchise quarterback is something we will soon find out but the Dolphins need to take the chance. Instead of relying on Matt Moore or David Garrard they need to turn to Ryan Tannehill. 


2. Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame - For some reason the Dolphins traded Brandon Marshall this off-season for two third round picks. Some believe Miami thinks Marshall is going to get severely punished for off the field incidents (Marshall allegedly punched a woman in a Manhattan night club). However, it seems strange to trade your best offensive weapon for a couple third round picks.  The Dolphins could try to replace Marshall with Floyd who is a speedy receiver who can go over the middle and catch nearly anything thrown his way. 


3. Quinton Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina - Miami could also look at defensive endsin hopes of getting more pressure on the quarterback. They were 10th in the NFL with 41 sacks but should look to generate more pressure if they are going to beat Tom Brady. Coples would give them a capable defensive end who could turn the Miami line into an elite unit. 

On The Clock: Jacksonville Jaguars



With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the way, I turn my attention to the #7 pick and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags opened the 2011 season with Luke McCown at quarterback. They quickly transitioned to rookie Blaine Gabbert and hoped he would provide a spark for the offense. Gabbert was a disappointment ending the season with 2,214 yards, 12 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 5 fumbles and a 50.8 completion percentage. If Jacksonville is going to succeed in 2012, they are going to have to get better play from Gabbert. Maurice Jones-Drew had another good season on the ground. He finished with 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns. Jones-Drew is the only bright spot on the Jaguars offense. The Jags offensive line was disappointing allowing 44 sacks for 25th worst in the NFL. They could certainly use to upgrade the offensive line in the draft.


Jacksonville's defense was a surprise in 2011, finishing 6th in yards per game (313.0), 11th in points per game (20.6), 15th in interceptions (15) and 25th in sacks (31). The Jaguars may need to follow in Houston's footsteps by building an elite defense in order to win the AFC South. Let's take a look at the top three choices for Jacksonville by starting on defense with:


1. Quinton Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina - Jacksonville could certainly use a 4-3 defensive end and Coples is the best one in the draft. He has what most teams look for in a 4-3 defensive end. He has speed, strength and can tackle. Some questioned his work ethic and thought he gave up on too many plays but I think that will be changed once he enters the NFL. Coples had a good Senior Bowl and is definitely worth being a top 10 pick. Coples ended his senior season with 7.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. He finished his career with 24 sacks, 40.5 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumbles. As mentioned, some have questioned if Coples takes plays off, but when he plays up to his potential he is elite. Jacksonville could look at another defensive end in the first round by targeting


2. Melvin Ingram - Defensive End - South Carolina - Ingram is an interesting prospect because he could play defensive end or outside linebacker as he played both at South Carolina. Ingram had a great senior year tallying 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 2 defensive touchdowns. On his career he had 21 sacks, 30.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Ingram has the speed to blow by most tackles and is a hard hitter that could help make the Jags defensive line elite. Some believe he is the best defensive end prospect in this year's draft. If Jacksonville decides to go offense with their first pick they could draft


3. Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame - Floyd is a physical, speedster of a wide receiver who can stretch the field and catch most anything throw at him. Most believe he is a top ten talent and a few think he could be a better player than Justin Blackmon (I do not). This Saint Paul, Minnesota native finished his career with 3,686 yards and 37 touchdowns. Floyd was a four year starter and often the only bright spot on the Notre Dame offense. Jacksonville upgraded their receivers this off-season by signing Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans but neither player is young or elite. If Blaine Gabbert is going to succeed he is going to need weapons and Floyd is definitely one.  

The Excitement of an NHL Game Seven






With Saint Louis, Nashville and Philadelphia already winning their series, the first round will have a few less game sevens. However, with Boston forcing a game seven in overtime, fans will get a chance to watch one of the best outcomes in professional sports. Game sevens are certainly exciting in baseball and basketball, but hockey beats both out. Hockey is the only sport that has the physicality normally associated with football. The physical play only revs up when a series reaches game seven. Two teams have been battling it out for six games and know the only way to advance is win game seven. Furthermore, both teams know if they lose the game, their season is over.

Goaltenders make great saves, players take amazing shots and hard hits seem to happen every other minute. I dare anyone who claims hockey is boring to watch a game seven and then tell me how they feel about the sport. Let's take a look at the past decade and the game sevens that occurred in the playoffs. One goal games will be in bold and over time games will be in bold and italics.

2011:
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 26 April: Buffalo loses at Philadelphia, 5-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 27 April: Montreal loses at Boston, 4-goals-3 (OT) 
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 27 April: Tampa Bay wins at Pittsburgh, 1-goal-nil 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 26 April: Chicago loses at Vancouver, 2-goals-1 (OT) 
  • Game 7 on Thursday, 12 May: Detroit loses at San Jose, 3-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Friday, 27 May: Tampa Bay loses at Boston, 1-goal-nil 
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 15 June: Boston wins at Vancouver, 4-goals-nil 
2010:
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 28 April: Montreal wins at Washington, 2-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 27 April: Detroit wins at Phoenix, 6-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 12 May: Montreal wins at Pittsburgh, 5-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Friday, 14 May: Philadelphia wins at Boston, 4-goals-3 
2009:
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 28 April: N.Y. Rangers lose at Washington, 2-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 28 April: Carolina wins at New Jersey, 4-goals-3 
  • Game 7 on Thursday, 14 May: Carolina wins at Boston, 3-goals-2 (OT) 
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 13 May: Pittsburgh wins at Washington, 6-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Thursday, 14 May: Anaheim loses at Detroit, 4-goals-3 
  • Game 7 on Friday, 12 June: Pittsburgh wins at Detroit, 2-goals-1 
2008:
  • Game 7 on Monday, 21 April: Boston loses at Montreal, 5-goals-nil 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 22 April: Philadelphia wins at Washington, 3-goals-2 (OT) 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 22 April: Calgary loses at San Jose, 5-goals-3 

2007:
  • Game 7 on Monday, 23 April: Dallas loses at Vancouver, 4-goals-1 

2006:
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 03 May: Anaheim wins at Calgary, 3-goals-nil 
  • Game 7 on Thursday, 01 June: Buffalo loses at Carolina, 4-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Monday, 19 June: Edmonton loses at Carolina, 3-goals-1 

2005:

Playoffs did not occur because of the lockout

2004:
  • Game 7 on Monday, 19 Apr: Montreal wins at Boston, 2-goals-nil 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 20 Apr: Ottawa loses at Toronto, 4-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Monday, 19 Apr: Calgary wins at Vancouver, 3-goals-2 (OT) 
  • Game 7 on Saturday, 22 May: Philadelphia loses at Tampa Bay, 2-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Monday, 07 Jun: Calgary loses at Tampa Bay, 2-goals-1 
2003:
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 22 Apr: Toronto loses at Philadelphia, 6-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 22 Apr: Minnesota wins at Colorado, 3-goals-2 (OT)
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 22 Apr: St. Louis loses at Vancouver, 4-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Thursday, 08 May: Minnesota wins at Vancouver, 4-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Friday, 23 May: New Jersey wins at Ottawa, 3-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Monday, 09 Jun: Anaheim loses at New Jersey, 3-goals-nil 

2002:
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 30 April: N.Y. Islanders lose at Toronto, 4-goals-2 
  • Game 7 on Monday, 29 April: Los Angeles loses at Colorado, 4-goals-nil 
  • Game 7 on Tuesday, 14 May: Ott. loses at Tor., 3-goals-nil 
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 15 May: S.J. loses at Col., 1-goal-nil 
  • Game 7 on Friday, 31 May: Col. loses at Det., 7-goals-nil 

2001:
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 09 May: Toronto loses at New Jersey, 5-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Thursday, 10 May: Pittsburgh wins at Buffalo in OT, 3-goals-2
  • Game 7 on Wednesday, 09 May: Los Angeles loses at Colorado, 5-goals-1 
  • Game 7 on Saturday, 09 June: New Jersey loses at Colorado, 3-goals-1 

So you've stomached through my game seven stats and are probably asking yourself why I would list all of the game sevens for the last decade? Well let me give you a little more stats and show you what I see about the last decades game sevens:

  • Of the one-hundred and thirty-five total series, there were forty-four that went to game sevens during the decade. That means only 32.5% of series go to a game seven. They are going to happen sometime during the playoffs (one has happened every year during my search), but are not that common. 
  • Of the forty-four game sevens, twenty-seven or 61.3% of the games were decided by two goals. 
  • Of the forty-four game sevens, twenty or 45.4% of the games were decided by one goal. This means almost half of the game sevens are going to be a close game. If a game is close, that either means the goalies played great games or each team was able to provide great defense and score goals. 
  • Of the forty-four game sevens, five or 11.3% are decided in overtime. This is an extremely rare occurrence. Overtime game sevens are great and I can only hope this year's game sevens head to overtime. 
  • The largest margin of victory in the last decade's game sevens was seven goals in 2002 as Detroit beat Colorado 7-0. 

Now that you know a little more about game sevens, I hope that you take the opportunity to watch what the NHL has to offer. I promise game seven will be one of the most exciting sporting events you can watch this year.

Mock Draft #2 (Five Days Until The Draft)





With only five days left before the 2012 NFL draft, I take another shot at a mock draft. I have included one trade but there will definitely be more. I will follow up with a second round mock later today. 




1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck - Quarterback - Stanford
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III - Quarterback - Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil - Offensive Tackle - Southern California
4. Cleveland Browns - Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback - Texas A&M
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne - Corner back - Louisiana State University
6. Saint Louis Rams - Fletcher Cox - Defensive Tackle - Mississippi State
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina
8. Miami Dolphins - Justin Blackmon - Wide Receiver - Oklahoma State
9. Carolina Panthers - Dontari Poe - Nose Tackle - Memphis
10. Cincinnati Bengals - Trent Richardson - Running back - Alabama [Cincinnati trades #17 and #53 to Buffalo]
11. Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro - Offensive Guard - Stanford
12. Seattle Seahawks - Michael Floyd - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame
13. Arizona Cardinals - Riley Reiff - Offensive Tackle - Iowa
14. Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron - Safety - Alabama
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly - Inside Linebacker - Notre Dame
16. New York Jets - Melvin Ingram - Defensive End - South Carolina
17. Buffalo Bills - Dre Kirkpatrick - Corner back - Alabama
18. San Diego Chargers - Courtney Upshaw - Defensive End - Alabama
19. Chicago Bears - Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver - Georgia Tech
20. Tennessee Titans - Nick Perry - Defensive End - Southern California
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Stephon Gilmore - Corner back - South Carolina
22. Cleveland Browns - Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia
23. Detroit Lions - Jonathan Martin - Offensive Tackle - Stanford
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower - Inside Linebacker - Alabama
25. Denver Broncos - Michael Brockers - Defensive Tackle - Louisiana State University
26. Houston Texans - Coby Fleener - Tight End - Stanford
27. New England Patriots - Chandler Jones - Defensive End - Syracuse
28. Green Bay Packers - Whitney Mercilus - Defensive End - Illinois 
29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz - Center - Wisconsin 
30. San Francisco 49ers - Kendall Wright - Wide Receiver - Baylor
31. New England Patriots - Jerel Worthy - Defensive Tackle - Michigan State
32. New York Giants - Kevin Zeitler - Offensive Guard - Wisconsin 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On The Clock: St. Louis Rams

The Saint Louis Rams absolutely ripped off the Washington Redskins. Not only do I think Robert Griffin III will be a huge disappointment, but now the Redskins will forever be known as the team that gave up two first round picks and a second round pick for the future bust. The Rams should easily be able to rebuild over the next two years. Not only do they have three picks in the top 40, but they will most likely have at least one top 10 pick next year. The Rams could look to move down again this year if a player such as Matt Kalil drops. Before we get to the picks, let's take a look at the 2011 season for the Rams.


Similar to the Buccaneers the Rams were a disappointment in 2011. They did not drop off as much as the Bucs, but they were 7-9 in 2010. 2011 saw an injury to Sam Bradford and a disappointing season overall. Bradford threw for 2,164 yards, six touchdowns, six interceptions and a 53.5 completion percentage. If the Rams are going to turn it around in 2012, Bradford is going to have to start to play better. Steven Jackson quietly had another good season finishing with 1,145 yards and five touchdowns. That makes seven straight seasons with at least a thousand yards for Jackson. The Rams traded for Brandon Lloyd during the season and he finished with 683 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, Lloyd left for the Patriots at the end of the season.


The Rams had a decent off-season so far. They added Cortland Finnegan from the Titans. Alongside Steve Smith from Philadelphia and Scott Wells from Green Bay. The Rams were middle of the road with 39 total sacks (15th) in 2011. They also had 12 interceptions (23rd) which explains why they targeted Cortland Finnegan this year. Offensively, Saint Louis was a disappointment. They led the league by allowing 55 sacks (32nd) in 2011. They were 30th in passing yards, 32nd in passing touchdowns, 23rd in rushing yards and 29th in rushing touchdowns. The Rams could use help on both sides of the ball but I will start on the offensive as I think their number one option should be


1. Justin Blackmon - Wide Receiver - Oklahoma State - The Rams have to hope that Blackmon drops to them at the number six spot. They could certainly use another receiver to help Sam Bradford. If anyone can name a Saint Louis wide out besides the one I mentioned before, I would be impressed. Their number two receiver was Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson (both somehow had 431 yards). The Rams could use the physical receiver to open up the field for the rest of their players. Also, finally giving Sam Bradford a big target might be what propels him to the next level. The Rams have a solid run game, they just need to worry about the passing game. They could also use some help on the defensive line and that is where their second choice comes into play with


2. Fletcher Cox - Defensive Tackle - Mississippi State - Finally a player I have not mentioned throughout these articles. The Rams have a very disappointing group of defensive tackles in Cornell Banks, John Henderson, Trevor Laws and Darell Scott. Personally I think the Rams will look to take Cox to try and improve their defensive line. Cox is a physical and strong defensive tackle who can stuff the run and occasionally get to the quarterback. He can certainly push the quarterback to the outside and allow Chris Long to take him down for a sack. Cox finished his career with 114 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Scouts love his strength and believe he still has room to get stronger. Furthermore, he was a three year starter in the SEC. The Rams could get a defensive tackle later in the draft but the position is not very deep. They could also look to improve the defensive line elsewhere and pick


3. Quinton Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina - I think Coples might come as a surprise  to a lot of people at the number six spot but the Rams could use help at defensive end. Giving Chris Long another pass rusher would help to improve their entire line. Coples does not possess elite speed but is fast enough to get around the edge. He has longer arms which allow him to keep offensive lineman away from him. He is incredibly strong and a sure tackler. He played defensive tackle and defensive end at North Carolina but fits as a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. He ranks fourth in the country among active players with 24 career sacks and leaves Chapel Hill with 144 total tackles, five forced fumbles, 22 quarterback hurries and four pass breakups. Coples might be the surprise pick but could be the smart pick as well. Some scouts question his motor and wonder if he tends to take plays off but once motivated, Coples could be the best pass rusher in this year's draft. The Rams could try to trade down but would have to have a player drop to them at six to find a partner. It will be interesting to see what the Rams do with their pick. 

Early College Football Games You Should Be Watching

Will 2012 be the year of the Trojans in college football?


With eight spring games on television today, I thought I would begin my afternoon by looking at the 2012 college football schedule. While I will not look at every week, I will take a look at some great match-ups in the first two weeks. Week one is normally filled with powerhouses playing teams they know they can hang a dozen touchdowns on. However, there are always a few teams that decide to play a real opponent in those first two weeks. 


2011 started off with a bang on a Thursday as Syracuse had to come back against Wake Forest, outscoring them 15 to 3 in the fourth quarter to force overtime. From there, the Orange went on to win by a touchdown in overtime. The season continued on with another great game the following day. TCU and Baylor fought it out in Waco, Texas. Baylor looked to be in a commanding lead going into the fourth quarter 47-23. But, TCU never gave up and went on to take the lead 48-47 with 4:27 left in the fourth. Robert Griffin III started his Heisman season by taking the Bears down the field and leading them to a game winning field goal with 1:04 left. 


The excitement continued the next day with Notre Dame and South Florida. The Bulls capitalized on Notre Dame's turnovers and went on to win 23-20. Auburn squeaked past Utah State 42-38. The tigers had to score two late touchdowns to avoid being upset. Matt Barkley and USC held off Minnesota 19-17. The FCS school Sacramento State shocked Oregon State by beating them 29-28. BYU rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Ole Miss 14-13. UTEP had to take Stony Brook to overtime before beating them 31-24. Finally, the two games between ranked teams ended rather boringly. LSU rolled past Oregon to start their undefeated regular season. Boise State did not struggle with Georgia to start their season as well.


Last year's week one seemed to featured incredible games between non-ranked teams or ranked teams playing mid-level college teams. The games between the two ranked opponents were disappointing at best. Hopefully this year's games between the ranked teams can live up to the hype. Week one looks to have a few games that should pique your interest. Let's take a look at what you should be watching:


Marcus Lattimore will look to start the Gamecocks
season off with a win against another SEC East
team in Vanderbilt
Thurs. August 30th - South Carolina at Vanderbilt - ESPN - The SEC season starts early this year as these two SEC East teams face each other in week one. After dismissing Stephen Garcia last year, the Gamecocks turned to Connor Shaw. He will be back this year, along with Marcus Lattimore, Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington on the offensive side of the ball. South Carolina also returns Jadeveon Clowney (8 sacks) and Devin Taylor (6 sacks) on the defensive line and D.J. Swearinger in the secondary. How far the Gamecocks go in the SEC East this year will depend on their defense as it looks like Lattimore and Shaw should be able to score plenty of points on offense. Vanderbilt's quarterback, Jordan Rodgers, is returning for his senior year. Alongside Zac Stacy, Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd on the offensive side. The Commodores are also bringing back Rob Lohr and Walker May on the defensive line and Trey Wilson and Archibald Barnes in the secondary. The SEC East should be a three team race against South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. You will have to wait until August to find out which team I think will win the east, but this game will start the season off right for one team and wrong for the other. 


Sparty wants YOU to watch the Michigan State vs
Boise State game to start the season off right
Friday August 31st - Boise State at Michigan State - ESPN - Boise State continues to find ranked teams to lose, I mean play, them to start the season. As previously mentioned, Boise easily beat Georgia last year. The Broncos beat Virginia Tech in 2010 and Oregon in 2009. It is understandable that teams are afraid to play Boise in week one. So much so that a few years ago, Chris Peterson had to basically beg for teams to play. This game should be a great one. Boise State looks to start their Western Athletic Conference, eer Big East Conference, or Mountain West conference season off right by heading to East Lansing to play the Spartans. Both teams will be starting anew with quarterbacks as Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins were both seniors last year. Boise will also be starting fresh at running back with senior Drew Wright. However, the Broncos will be returning three of their four top receivers. They will also be returning a fairly young defensive line, secondary and linebackers corps. Despite this, I would not count out the Broncos just yet. Michigan State returns their top rusher in Le'Veon Bell but will be missing all four of their top receivers. The Spartans will be returning two of their defensive lineman, three linebackers and four players from the secondary. Could this finally be the year that Boise State is defeated in the first week or will the Broncos pull off the upset again?


Speedster Andre Ellington looks to take a few to the
house against Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A classic
Saturday September 1st - Auburn vs. Clemson - ESPN - Ahh the ole Chick-Fil-A kick-off classic. It always pits two quality teams against each other and this year is no different. Clemson was definitely a surprise last year, going undefeated in their first eight games before losing four of their last six games. Both teams return their starting quarterbacks from last year. Clemson will turn to Tajh Boyd and Auburn will look to utilize both Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley. Each team also returns their top rushers from last year with Clemson handing the ball to speedster Andre Ellington and Auburn relying on Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. Stop me if this sounds familiar, but both teams also will have their top two receivers coming back. Clemson has youngster Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins back, while Auburn has Emory Blake and Travante Stallworth coming back. Clemson will be starting a young defensive line after losing three lineman. However, despite the young line, Clemson does have three of their four best secondary players coming back in 2012. Auburn will be returning all of their defensive line, six linebackers and five players from the secondary. With an experienced defense, Clemson should be a team back on the rise in 2012. This jungle on jungle, tiger on tiger match-up, will start the season off right. 


Will Denard Robinson be able to defeat
the returning National Champion
Crimson Tide?
Saturday September 1st - Alabama vs. Michigan - ABC - Denard Robinson is returning for another run at the Heisman, as the mobile quarterback who seems to make every play exciting. Robinson will have his hands full in the first game of the season as the Wolverines take on the defending national champion Crimson Tide. Both teams have their quarterbacks back but the offensive side of the ball should look vastly different for both teams. Alabama lost Trent Richardson and Marquis Maze to the NFL. Michigan is without Junior Hemingway and Kevin Kroger. However, the Wolverines do return their second best receiver in Jeremy Gallon. Alabama will be searching for the new running back and will most likely turn to Eddie Lacy. Michigan has top back Fitzgerald Toussaint back this year as well. With the offense all set, the defense is what most people will be keeping their eye on during this game. The Crimson tide return three linebackers, three inexperienced defensive lineman and three defensive backs. The Wolverines bring back three defensive lineman, four  experienced linebackers and four defensive backs. This game could be a higher scoring game than most expect. Alabama was able to be so successful last year because of their defense, but they may not be able to rely on that side of the ball this year. We will also find out if Robinson can continue his successful seasons and eventually win the Heisman. 

On The Clock: Tampa Bay Buccaneers



Last article we talked about the Cleveland Browns who hold the number four pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Tonight I turn my sights on to the number five pick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They had to be last year's most disappointing team. After starting the season 4-2, the Bucs dropped ten straight and finished the season 4-12. After finishing 2010 with a 10-6 record, most people thought Tampa Bay would contend in the AFC South in 2011. Maybe it was their porous defense, which allowed 394.4 yards per game (30th in the NFL), 30.9 point per game (32nd) and had only 32 sacks (22nd). Maybe it was the inconsistent play of third year quarterback Josh Freeman who saw his interceptions rise from six in 2010 to twenty two in 2011. Or maybe it was the lack of run game that ruined the Bucs season. They finished 30th overall with 91.1 yards per game. All three combined to cause Tampa Bay to fire Raheem Morris and bring in Greg Schiano from Rutgers. If Schiano is going to turn the Bucs around, he and general manager Mark Dominik will have to have an impressive 2012 draft. I will start their top three choices on the defensive side as they look to improve their secondary with


1. Morris Claiborne - Corner back - Louisiana State University - Tampa Bay is relying on 37 year old Ronde Barber to be their number one corner. Especially with the legal problems of Aqib Talib and the rumors that the Buccaneers are actively shopping the troubled back, they should look to take Morris Claiborne. Claiborne has the skill set to be their number one corner back and lead their secondary. He has the hands, speed, coverage skills and tackling ability to shut down most receivers. Tampa Bay also plays in the same division as Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steve Smith and Marques Colston. They also have to face Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan six times a year. The smartest choice is to take Claiborne and re-build their defense. However, they could look to give the offensive side of the ball a jolt by taking


2. Trent Richardson - Running back - Alabama - Richardson has been discussed before on my blog. He is the number one running back prospect in this draft and rightfully so. He has the ability to run over a defender and has the speed to make big plays happen. The Bucs could use a franchise running back. Most believed LeGarrette Blount was going to give Tampa Bay a quality back but last season seemed to have proven otherwise. It is not that Blount is not a good running back, he is just not a superstar. Tampa Bay could give Josh Freeman some help by creating a run game with Richardson. They could also help Josh Freeman by giving him another offensive weapon in


3. Justin Blackmon - Wide Receiver - Oklahoma State - Blackmon is a physical player who can go over the middle and has the hands to catch nearly anything thrown his way. Along with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, Tampa Bay could have a nice trio of wide receivers for Josh Freeman. However, this may not be the smartest pick because of the depth at wide receiver. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On The Clock: Cleveland Browns


With the Minnesota Viking's top three potential picks out of the way, I turn my attention to the Cleveland Browns. Before I start, I have to address something that came up while starting this article. The Cleveland Browns have to be the team in desperate need of a new name and logo. Their logo, jerseys and name have to be the most bland, awkward and ugly of the entire NFL. Sorry Browns fans but it is time to face the music.


Let's take a look at the 2011 Cleveland Browns and their off-season. The Browns continued their history of struggling in 2011. Peyton Hillis was often injured and left for Kansas City this off-season. Colt McCoy looked good at times and awful at others before being replaced at the end of the year because of a concussion. He finished the season with 2,733 yards, 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 57.2 completion percentage. To be fair though McCoy's receivers are young and inexperienced. Greg Little had a nice rookie season but should not be relied on as a number 1. The run game was nearly non-existent, ending the season 28th in the NFL with 1,531 yards. The Browns could also use help on defense where they finished the season with 32 sacks (23rd in NFL) and only 9 interceptions (28th). Surprisingly, they only allowed 332.4 yards per game (10th) and 19.2 point per game (5th). Let's take a look at who the Browns should be targeting at the number four spot:


1. Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback - Texas A&M - For some reason I think this will be the pick for Cleveland. It will be quite a reach but this off-season has shown that they do not have faith in Colt McCoy. They were very public about trying to trade up to the number 2 pick, presumably to take Robert Griffin III. The Browns were also looking into signing Matt Flynn  this year. It seems as though the Browns are ready to replace McCoy as quick as possible. Tannehill is an interesting prospect. I previously detailed Tannehill but he has a great arm, is fairly mobile and his athleticism is off the charts. He began his career as a wide receiver and finished it as two year starter at quarterback. He may need time to develop into a franchise quarterback but could come in and start immediately. The other reason I think Cleveland will draft a quarterback here is to calm the fan base. They were fairly upset about not trading up to get RG3 and were relying on Matt Flynn to be their savior. The Browns struck out on both accounts and Tannehill will be their attempt to make amends with the team. If they do not draft Tannehill they could look at another option for their offense with


2. Trent Richardson - Running Back - Alabama - Richardson happens to be the least talked about prospect in this year's draft. Every one talked about his 40 time but not much else. To me, he seems to be the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. He has the ability to run right over defenders and can handle being a feature running back. Richardson was previously detailed by me as well. He would give the Browns something they have not had in decades. A franchise running back. He would also give McCoy help by providing a run game. He can also catch out of the back field. The Browns could draft Richardson in the first, another wide receiver in the second and a defender in the third. If they are going to stick with McCoy they need to provide him with offensive firepower. If they decide to not go with offense, they could look at taking


3. Morris Claiborne - Corner back - Louisiana State University -Claiborne was previously detailed in my Minnesota Viking's post. The Browns could use a young corner back that could become a super star in a year or two. They also play in a division featuring Big Ben, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton. All three quarterbacks have the ability to burn the Browns defense. Claiborne can also help in blitzing the quarterback. He is a sure tackler, can shut down most receivers and has the hands to catch or knock down anything thrown at him. The Browns could look at protecting Colt McCoy and take Matt Kalil if he somehow slides past the Minnesota Vikings.