Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Free Agency: Day 2

Couple of big time signings today, Sidney Rice is a Seahawk while Donovan McNabb became a Viking, Steve Breaston left for Kansas City, Matt Hasselbeck didn’t have to wait long for new work. And the Jets got more interesting (didn’t know that was possible) So let’s dive in!

Sidney Rice, WR Seattle Seahawks: I’ll be completely honest, this signing caught me by surprise. I knew that the Seahawks had been looking to add a big bodied receiver as they demonstrated by going after Brandon Marshall (who later signed with the Dolphins) and Vincent Jackson (who is still in San Diego).

So when I heard that the Seahawks were in a bidding war with the Vikings over Rice I expected the Seahawks to strike out again and Rice would be with the Vikes for the long term. And I was wrong. This really causes a problem for the Vikings coming into this season that they’ll have to move quickly to fix.

As could be seen by Brett Favre’s early struggles last season the Vikings don’t function well without Rice. Percy Harvin does not play well at the one and is at his best when he can work out of the slot, Bernard Berrian just did not play well and Visanthe Shiancoe is best as a tight end and only as a tight end. Luckily for the Vikings I have a solution that might not cost them a dime more than they’re currently paying.

At the beginning of the offseason the Vikings quietly signed Devin Aromashodu away from the Bears. The name might tinkle a little bell in the heads of Vikings fans as Aromashodu was the one who ran away with the Vikings’ chance to win in overtime during Favre’s first season. Aromashodu is tall at 6’2 with great speed and good leaping ability, similar to Rice. Had Rice re signed with the Vikings then I would have expected Aromashodu to take over for the ineffective Berrian at the 2 spot. If the Vikings choose not to move to replace Rice I’m just saying that Aromashodu is an option.

On the flipside this is a definite win for Seattle who got a receiver with the frame and ability they were looking for. This also might give Tarvaris Jackson the slightest of edges when he goes against Leinart and Clipboard Jesus as he has worked previously with the teams new No. 1.

Donovan McNabb, QB Minnesota Vikings: Like I said, open and shut, the inevitable has happened. McNabb is coming to Minnesota to compete with Christian Ponder and provide veteran guidance to the Vikings. Unfortunately Minnesota (as I just explained in my traditionally long rant format) just lost it’s top receiver. On the upside Minnesota is still a more pleasant team than Washington for McNabb to be a part of. Whether McNabb or Ponder open the season as the starter will be a closely followed battle in camp, though due to the unstable QB situations around the league that doesn’t mean much.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB Tennessee Titans: The Hasselbeck era in Seattle has ended and Hasselbeck didn’t have to wait long for work, signing on with the Tennessee Titans and providing the calm of a veteran in the wake of Kerry Collins’ surprise retirement. With that handled the Titans can rest easy and allow their rookie QB Jake Locker to learn on the sidelines as opposed to shoving him into the fire from day 1. Expect Hasselbeck to play well with pro bowl running back Chris Johnson by his side.

Steve Breaston, WR Kansas City Chiefs: You remember when you were a kid and you lost your favorite toy in October and you were so upset that you were in a funk for several days? That’s how Chiefs QB Matt Cassel felt after losing his offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to Florida. Cassel seemed to be in a slump shortly following the announcement that Weis was departing to the college football world. So what did the Chiefs do to cheer him up? They brought him some new toys. Cassel flowed well with the team’s top wide out, Dwayne Bowe, last year but seemed to suffer from a dearth of other targets. The Chiefs went out and drafted Jonathan Baldwin who stand 6’4 with tremendous leaping ability. In addition Steve Breaston left from the Cardinals to sign on with the young Chiefs.

Santonio Holmes, WR New York Jets: Holmes, sweet Holmes. Obvious puns aside the Jets got priority one off their offseason wish list by bringing Santonio Holmes to New York for the long haul with a 5 year contract. In the end Holmes was going to head back to the Jets where he has the best chance of winning another Super Bowl and the most motivating coach in the NFL. Side effect: Braylon Edwards is probably too expensive and the Jets are rumored to be dusting off a file entitled Moss, Randy.

DeAngelo Williams, RB Carolina Panthers: This one was really between Carolina and Denver and Carolina won. Carolina won back it’s leading rusher today with a long term contract preserving the tandem of Williams and Jonathan Stewart. John Fox meanwhile is still minus a running back and I predict he’ll take a long look at Marion Barber.

Other Tales of Interest

Orton talking with Dolphins: Things seem to be settling at the quarterback position as Orton seems to have been targeted by the Miami Dolphins who are reportedly in negotiations with the Broncos for a trade. Depending on the deal this could be a win-win for Miami as they get a more steady option at QB to compete with the erratic Chad Henne. The Broncos, depending on what they get in return free up some cap space so they can get those defensive lineman they asked Santa for.

Kolb deal by Friday: The long talked about deal between the Eagles and the Cardinals regarding Eagles’ second stringer Kevin Kolb is a reality. One need only look to the fact that the Eagles briefly had a link on their website where fans could buy Rodgers-Cromartie jerseys…in Eagles green. Yeah, this deal is going to happen sometime before the end of the week.

Nnamdi still looking at options: Apparently I was wrong to count the Jets out of the race for Nnamdi Asomugha. Should the Jets pull off a salary cap miracle and sign Asomugha to the Jets they have officially become the league’s best secondary. There can’t be any question about it with the top two corners in the league making life a living hell for all offensive coordinators required to play against them. A deal like this would instantly become the talk of the league and would have ripples that could reach as far as Houston. If the Jets sign Asomugha they’ll have to release Antonio Cromartie who could be sought after by the Houston Texans or other teams who came in second for Asomugha.

Plaxico sweepstakes narrows to two: Plaxico Burress is scheduled to meet with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants tomorrow, leading to speculation that Burress has decided that one of two teams with whom he has a history. Burress is one of the few free agent wide outs still on the market

Redskins: All talk, no splash? The Redskins, expected to be big spenders in free agency have been strangely quiet these past few days. The Redskins have Brandon Stokely and Donte Stallworth yet barely made a peep about Holmes. Are they waiting for Braylon Edwards? Are they still attempting to buy their way into the race for Asomugha? What is going on in DC?
Coming soon
More free agency talk, some college football predictions and can't miss games, similar analysis for the pros and my opinion on what's next for Butch Davis.

Free Agency: Day 1

Ok so technically it’s morning but I still count this as “later tonight”. So today was eventful with several “signings” taking place even though contracts cannot be signed until Friday night. So without further ado.

Notable Signings

Mark Herzlich, LB New York Giants: The Giants rectified one of the great injustices of the 2011 draft by making Mark Herzlich an NFL linebacker. Herzlich is everything one can ask for in a player, a brave player who survived cancer and shows great playmaking ability and a dogged determination and proven leadership capabilities. This is also a great signing for the Giants because they receive a linebacker who will bring some leadership to their weak linebacking core.

Tarvaris Jackson, QB Seattle Seahawks: Things just got interesting. Tarvaris Jackson endured a couple of years as the Vikings quarterback before Brett Favre came to town and made Jackson “That one guy with the clipboard”. Regardless T-Jack is being reunited with his old Offensive Coordinator, Darrell Bevel, and will be competing with Clipboard Jesus and…

Matt Leinart, QB Seattle Seahawks: And this is where things get very interesting. Bevel has his guy from his old job, but so does Head Coach Pete Carroll. Granted Leinart hasn’t demonstrated the ability, mental make up or leadership capabilities of an NFL QB but I have faith that Carroll believes he can get the old Heisman winner up and running again. Although there is a precedent for Carroll turning trash into treasure. Receiver Mike Williams played for Carroll back in his USC days back when Carson Palmer was still the big man on campus. Williams however was out of the NFL after consistently performing below his potential, being arrogant and struggling with discipline (sound familiar?) This is Leinart’s last best chance and if anyone is going to get the best from Leinart it will be Carroll. It will be an interesting camp battle between Jackson, Clipboard Jesus and USC’s Golden Boy.

Pat Devlin, QB Miami Dolphins: Most of you probably don’t know much about Devlin, in general people tend to remember him because he “played where Joe Flacco went to school”. While Devlin is not the prospect that Flacco was he brings some solid attributes. What I’m curious about is what this means for Miami regarding their QB situation. Is Devlin their project? Or is he their competition for Henne? Does this mean Vince Young is out of the picture? Another interesting camp situation here to keep an eye on.

Jeremiah Masoli, QB San Francisco 49ers: I singled this out as my last notable signing of the say because it caught my attention the most out of a list I saw earlier today. Masoli, former quarterback for the Oregon Ducks and the Ole Miss Rebels is now an NFL QB. I’m intrigued to see how Harbaugh plays this one. The 49ers are a team in search of a quarterback, some say that the teams pick of Colin Kaepernick is the answer, others say that Alex Smith deserves another shot, and still others question whether it might not be worth it to call up Joe Montana (not really). But I didn’t in my wildest dreams see Harbaugh and Co. looking into Masoli’s corner. Whether Masoli makes the roster is obviously up in the air but I’m curious to see what Masoli does with the spotlight on him again.

Cap Casualties and Other Players on the Move

Roy Williams, WR Dallas Cowboys: We all saw this one coming, but there was something about seeing it in print that made it all so real. Roy Williams was not a good fit in Dallas and ultimately was put on notice the minute Dez Bryant showed up and refused to carry Williams’ pads. From that point on his days were numbered and his game changing fumble on Turkey day didn’t help. The Cowboys have space to clear and have cut co many players today that it’s more a list of who the Cowboys cut today than it is a list of who the Cowboys cut today.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB Seattle Seahawks: In an effort to break up the soon to be flood of Dallas players I’ll have to describe being cut in the next couple of minutes I write of Matt Hasselbeck and the end of his era in Seattle. Hasselbeck despite throwing more touchdowns than interceptions last season figures to be coveted this offseason (Tennessee anyone?) as his veteran status can stabilize several quarterback situations this offseason.

Marion Barber, RB Dallas Cowboys: We also saw this coming but the days of Marion the Barbarian and the Dallas backfield are over. Barber should have a good market especially if John Fox strikes out with signing DeAngelo Williams.

Kyle Orton, QB Denver Broncos: And so begins the legend of the Mile High Messiah, the Tim Tebow era has begun in Denver and Orton is on the move. Similar to Matt Hasselbeck, Orton is in high demand beyond the walls of Mile High stadium. Orton could end up any number of places, if one thing is for certain it is that Orton will not be out of work for long.

Leonard Davis, G Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have finally gotten serious about improving their offensive line and also about the fact that they needed to get under the cap. So Davis is gone and will find work where a guard is needed. No doubt his three pro bowls in four years will help his case.

Honorable Mention: Marc Colombo, T Dallas Cowboys

Still at Large

Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Oakland Raiders: See the article I published earlier, you’ll find all you need.

Kevin Kolb, QB Philadelphia Eagles: Also dealt with in the article below.

Santonio Holmes, WR New York Jets: This one has been speculated as a battle between the persuasive power of Rex Ryan and the money of Daniel Snyder. Personally I have my money on the Jets to retain Holmes keeping him as Mark Sanchez’s #1 playmaker. While Holmes might be tempted by a monster contract he is also playing for the most well liked coach in the league on a team that has been to back to back AFC championship games. Whereas the Redskins can offer him a year in which he’ll possibly be playing with John Beck as his quarterback…things to think about.

Braylon Edwards, WR New York Jets: One of three wide receivers who the Jets are trying to keep in New York, should Holmes stays then the Redskins may turn to his Watson (I’m not funny, but I try hard) Edwards, in spite of some off field issues and at times shaky hands, has a large frame and a physical styles that would make him a good fit for teams trying to add size at receiver (Redskins, Bears, Chargers etc.)

Plaxico Burress, WR: Speaking of size at receiver, Plaxico Burress is reportedly having a meeting at some point in the near future with his old team the New York Giants. Almost as widely speculated as Kolb or Asomugha, Burress has been talked about with the Giants, Eagles, Bears, Seahawks and Redskins.

Tyson Clabo, T Atlanta Falcons: A solid addition to an offensive line, Clabo could simply re sign with the Falcons but has also been talked about with the Vikings, Seahawks, and Bears.

Ray Edwards, DE Minnesota Vikings: Edwards looks to be on his way out in Minnesota, to pursue life elsewhere and possibly as a featured pass rusher. The most likely landing spot I have for Edwards is the Atlanta Falcons who have been looking to add a pass rusher aside from Jonathan Abraham.

Jonathan Joseph, CB Cincinnati Bengals: Part of one of the league’s best tandems at any position but especially at cornerback, Joseph is a pro bowler at a young age. He’s no Revis but this man can upgrade a secondary. Joseph will probably going to re sign with the Bengals though I’ve also thought that I could see him signing with the Vikings or a team that misses out on the Asomugha sweepstakes.

Sidney Rice, WR Minnesota Vikings: Rice was a star for Brett Favre in his first year with Brett Favre and showed tremendous vision, focus, leaping and playmaking ability. Rice has the assets of a #1, though it remains to be seen how much of Rice’s breakout year was the Favre effect. Rice is being looked at by the Vikings, Seahawks and the Bears as a dark horse.

Kyle Orton, QB Denver Broncos: Detailed above in Players on the Move

Matt Hasselbeck, QB Seattle Seahawks: Same thing as Orton

Cullen Jenkins, DE Green Bay Packers: Jenkins is generally considered to be a fit in almost any 3-4 scheme, I see Jenkins or his brother Kris taking off for DC and piles of money. Possibly both, nothing says franchise like two guys with the same last name (just ask the Williams Wall).

Donovan McNabb, QB Washington Redskins: This one is actually pretty open and shut from where I’m standing. Reports say that the Vikings are prepared to offer a sixth round pick for McNabb and a conditional sixth rounder. Considering how determined the Shanahans seem to be to get rid of him I think this one is wrapped up, but until Friday it just what I think.

Jamarcus Russell, QB: This was a joke.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finally Free


It’s over, it’s all over! The lockout is over and across the nation people can give thanks that ESPN is no longer 40% “Roger Goodell walking out of a building with DeMaurice Smith” stock footage, which is good because I had run out of things to write about. But that’s all fixed now and I am ready to speculate like there is no tomorrow (I have a lot of exciting things going on in my life, does it show?).

So now that there will definitely be a season we get to ask the really tough questions, Where will Nnamdi Asomugha sign, is Kevin Kolb a Cardinal or an Eagle, Why did Jay Cutler dump Kristin Cavallari, and many more.

First Things First

Throughout the lockout there have been a number of names thrown around, Roger Goodell, Demaurice Smith, Vincent Jackson, Tom Brady, Jerry Jones and Nnamdi Asomugha. Of these names the one that probably triggered the fewest group groans was Asomugha, possibly due to several blank stares permeating the room.

Luckily for Asomugha the lockout has created a nice bit of buzz as he has become this year’s most talked about free agent. Asomugha has played shutdown corner for the Raiders since being drafted in 2003. Only the New York Jets’ All Universe cornerback Darrelle Revis has been mentioned more often in recent seasons as the league’s best corner. Asomugha has elected to become a free agent this season as he goes off in pursuit of Super Bowl rings.

Due to the shortcomings of numerous NFL teams at the cornerback position, Asomugha has his pick of teams and I will now piggyback off his real accomplishments by giving my opinion on who he’ll sign with.

Washington Redskins: (Unlikely)

The Redskins are expected to be big spenders in the coming free agency period. So naturally with their deficiencies in most areas of the field many expect them to dish out the dollars to Asomugha. Seems like solid logic until we remember the reason that Asomugha is leaving in the first place. Asomugha is 30 years old and realizes that he’s closer to the of his career than the beginning, Asomugha is leaving the Raiders because he feels there are better chances for him elsewhere in the world. Moving from the Raiders to the Redskins does not make things better, it actually is debatably worse.

Philadelphia Eagles: (Highly likely)

The Eagles, as I’ve noted in an earlier article, weren’t great against the pass and relied a lot on Asante Samuel. But what if the Eagles could make their #1 corner into their #2? What if they signed Asomugha to an on the rise Eagles team, taking pressure off their youth at safety? I feel Asomugha would be game for that. So I will put down the Eagles as my front runners for the Asomugha sweepstakes. The key I see here is whether the Asomugha signing happens before or after a Kolb trade. If Kolb, as has been speculated for weeks, is sent to the Cardinals in exchange for say a 2nd rounder and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie then I would say that it would put the Eagles out of the picture for Asomugha.

Dallas Cowboys: (Possible)

The Cowboys definitely have an incentive to go after Asomugha, just look what happened the last time they had a shutdown corner added to the roster (Deion Sanders, and they won the Super Bowl). Not to mention that the Cowboys are looking to upgrade their secondary and may be parting ways with Terrance Newman. Jerry Jones loves to throw money at players so this seems like a definite possibility. The only reason I don’t have the Cowboys with the high rating I gave the Eagles is because the Cowboys are making deep cuts to get under the salary cap and might not have space for the monster contract that Asomugha both expects and deserves.

Houston Texans: (Likely)

I’m not going to review the obvious, the Texans have a great offense and their defense was abysmal. Everyone knows that, however the addition of Asomugha would make Houston’s new defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, giddy. The Texans are talked about often as being a contender for the playoffs if only they could get past Peyton Manning. Having Manning with one less option due to Asomugha’s coverage skills might just be what the Texans need. whether Asomugha feels the same remains to be seen.

Baltimore Ravens: (Possible)

Also well documented are the Ravens’ struggles at CB. And a presence like Asomugha could help lead the Ravens past their hated rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens are adding a player however whom they consider to be a steal, Jimmy Smith who fell to the Ravens at pick #27. Whether the Ravens decide that this is enough and that they will turn their minds to other needs is a storyline I’ll keep an eye on.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (Unlikely)

I’m convinced that sometime within the next decade Josh Freeman and the Bucs will bring home a Super Bowl title. Quote me on it. The Bucs seem to have a winning formula going for them as they’ve built a remarkable roster that was arguably the best team not to make the playoffs. Among these soon to be and already stars are QB Josh Freeman, runningback LeGarrete Blount, WR Mike Williams (not to be confused with the Seahawks’ receiver of the same name), DT’s Gerald McCoy & Brian Price and rookie defensive ends DaQuan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn. Notably missing from this list is troubled cornerback Aqib Talib who will stand trial in 2012 for assault with a deadly weapon. Reportedly the Bucs won’t cut Talib, who is one of the games best young corners. As a result I’m guessing it’s unlikely that Asomugha lands in the Pirate Ship.

Kolb To Arizona?

Perhaps one of the most talked about QB’s who isn’t a starter (along with Green Bay’s Matt Flynn and the Seahawks’ Clipboard Jesus Charlie Whitehurst) is Kevin Kolb of the Eagles. Most reports seem to agree that Kolb is heading to the Cardinals in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round draft choice. In my opinion everybody wins here as the Cardinals get to have a set starter going into the season and have a reason for Larry Fitzgerald to stay in Arizona. In the QB deficient NFC West that may be all they need to compete with the rising Rams. The Eagles get to sort out their CB situation and get a draft pick in the process.

Cutler breaks heart of reality TV star

Just kidding, I don’t cover celeb gossip. More tonight as we take in the first day of free agency.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heisman List #2

It is 4am, I cannot sleep. I am bored. These are the facts of the case and they are undisputed. In order to make myself feel useful and stave off my boredom I have finished the second Heisman watchlist I mentioned a few weeks ago. What will I write on next? Not even I know.

Heisman List V2

1.       Andrew Luck

For all the same reasons as I listed months ago I still have Andrew Luck holding the Heisman (and possibly the glass football) at the end of this next season. Luck is an incredible talent with the size and playmaking ability that you’d ideally look for in a qb to pair with a strong arm and solid scrambling abilities. He may be missing his old coach but I have faith that Luck can rise above this.

2.       Matt Barkley

Let’s put it this way, a final showdown between Barkley and Luck is must see television. Barkley threw 26 touchdowns last year and many feel that he has just barely scratched the surface of his potential.

3.       Trent Richardson

Mark Ingram’s backup these past two years built quite a bit of hype for himself this past season. Filling in for Mark Ingram, Richardson rushed for a career high 144 yards against Penn State and lead many to believe he could be even better than Ingram. Richardson is a wrecking at 220 lbs and explosive. Look for Richardson’s name to be called a lot during Heisman trophy debates.

4.       Taylor Martinez

I bumped T-Magic up and Kellen Moore down for this issue. Why? Is it because I believe that Taylor Martinez is better than Kellen Moore? Absolutely not, simply put this is a list built on Likelihood not Desire, But more on that later. Martinez in my view is better positioned to be in real contention because for reasons I understand yet also don’t comprehend the world just refuses to take Boise State seriously. Martinez plays for Nebraska, a program that I know first hand has a fan base that will kill for it’s team. Nebraska overall garners more respect than Boise State even if Martinez isn’t as statistically impressive as Moore.

5.       (DH) Kellen Moore

So, back to my explanation (rant) about Kellen Moore, were it up to me I’d give Moore the Heisman because he is one of the best QB’s in the college game and is thrilling when the game is on the line (Moore’s bomb to Titus Young was a thing of beauty and you’re missing out if you haven’t seen it) But as I noted earlier, Moore gets very little respect from the establishment. Moore made the final list last year and I believe he’ll make it again this year because he is indeed that good. But he won’t win the Heisman because a quarterback from a more recognized conference and a more recognized program will end up winning it.

6.       (DH) Marcus Lattimore

My views on Lattimore haven’t changed since last issue, he’s an incredible even freakish talent. Lattimore is a dangerous combination of speed, vision and strength and had an incredible season last year before South Carolina was chopped down by Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers. Between Lattimore and his team mate Alshon Jeffery, who will be an all American wide receiver this year, the college world should tremble

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Thoughts on Terrelle Pryor

Glad To Be Back

So it’s good to be writing again because there’s really nothing interesting or exciting to explain why I haven’t been writing. Basically I drew up all the question for the offseason questions and then I graduated and they took my laptop (from which I rescued all of my precious work) and then I embarked on what has essentially been a solid month of nothing but weight room and grad parties. Moral of the story: Writing is easy but finding the time and drive to finish an article after 3-4 hours of working out and the fact that Spongebob (or the sponge themed cartoon of your choice) is on for 3 straight hours is difficult. But now I’m back so let’s delve into what happened while I was gone.

Pryor Going Pro

Terrelle Pryor, former QB of The Ohio State University, has declared for the Supplemental draft scheduled to be held whenever the hell the league feels like it. What has followed and preceded Pryor’s abrupt declaration has triggered a tidal wave of thoughts, comments and people learning that there is actually something called the Supplemental draft. You see the Supplemental draft is rarely a place to find an awe inspiring athlete like Pryor and typically the success rate on Supplemental picks is pretty low. So what’s Pryor got going for him since he was forced to flee Ohio State due to NCAA probes regarding off field issues including free tattoos and cars?

The Pros: Pryor is a remarkable talent, plain and simple. Pryor stands 6’6” with a fluid running style that once prompted a journalist to say “He doesn’t so much run as he glides over the field”. Pryor runs a 4.5 and with his tall stature has attracted interest as a receiver at the next level. Why not QB, the position he has played for years at the high school and college level? Well that brings us to Pryor’s drawbacks.

The Cons: Pryor is not the most accomplished of passers, he owns a quirky throwing motion that all too often drives balls into the turf and his arm strength isn’t top of the line either. Pryor’s main strength is improvising on the run, his gliding run allowing him to buy time to spy an open receiver and chuck the ball in his general direction. But the NFL game for QB’s is different than the one that Pryor experienced in college. In the NFL quarterback’s whose main asset is their legs don’t win championships (Michael Vick prior to 2010, Vince Young), quarterback’s whose mechanics and arm strength allow them to rely on those two things have (Manning, Brady, Brees). Note that these top of the line QB’s, main stays in any conversation about the best in the game, are not at all noted for their rushing abilities but for their pocket presence.

My Opinion: Pryor doesn’t seem to have the intangibles to play QB at a high level in the NFL. At the end of the day Pryor is an athlete who plays quarterback, not the other way around and playing him at QB seems like a risk most teams shouldn’t take. However Pryor’s potential as a receiver intrigues me, he’s got the height, speed and hands to be a great red zone target. The league really can’t seem to get enough of tall targets so Pryor has great potential there that I would say is worth looking into for most teams in the Round 4-5 range.

Teams of Interest:

Rams (Receiver): The Rams have their quarterback of the future in the phenomenal Sam Bradford, the Rams are also in possession of a rare opportunity, the NFC West is weak, very weak. The starting QB situation is not settled with any one of their rivals. The Rams have an opportunity for dominance of their division and a guaranteed home game if they can put a lot of room between themselves and the rest of the NFC Worst. A big step in the right direction would be to snag Bradford a blue chip target.

Pryor could be the answer to Bradford and his OC Josh McDaniels’ prayers. McDaniels however much of an epic fail he may have been as a head coach has proven how dangerous his system can be with one unreal target and a great QB. You want proof? You remember the year the Patriots almost went undefeated, broke several passing records between Tom Brady and Randy Moss? That had a ton to do with McDaniels’ system. Some might argue that Brady’s precision and Moss’ freakish abilities would have made it a productive season regardless but McDaniels has also done stunning work between Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd.

Browns (Receiver): I’m getting on my soap box for this one, some people think this is a good pick for the Browns as a QB based pick. I disagree with this on quite a few different levels: historical, statistical and just plain common sense. Also I’m a huge Texas fan and McCoy was awesome back in college.

McCoy showed a lot of potential as a rookie and he did so in the very worst of circumstances. Don’t believe me? Ok let’s play a little game of “Hypothetical matchups” if you were a rookie quarterback which defense would you start against? If you answered Pittsburgh then New Orleans then New England followed by the New York Jets, congratulations you are a braver man than I. Was this me just listing off random teams? Nope those were McCoy’s starts to begin his career. Sound like fun? No, no it does not. McCoy was supposed to be holding a clipboard through each and every single one of those games and yet he led and actually beat the Saints and Patriots in back to back games before losing in overtime to the Jets who were at that time on hot streak behind Mark Sanchez and an inexplicable string of awe inspiring late game heroics. Pretty damn impressive for a short guy. A knock that’s been had on McCoy is his lack of arm strength and how he won’t be able to handle the strong Cleveland winds and this was the cause of his many interceptions in the final weeks of the season. Because it couldn’t have possibly had something to do with the fact that McCoy was going against two of the scariest defenses in the league. It also couldn’t have had something to do with Eric Mangini’s constrictive play calling and general ineptitude at anything. But also Pryor’s arm strength isn’t great and he’d have the exact same criticism leveled against him. Pryor’s real advantage over McCoy is his scrambling prowess (an area McCoy is actually solid in) but Pryor’s scrambling is just unnecessary within the personnel that Cleveland has. Cleveland has one of the best offensive lines in the league anchored by Joe Thomas who in my opinion is the best left tackle in the league. The pocket is there and there’s really no need for him to scramble.

That was the statistical and common sense (Or at least part of it) so on to the historical which I’ve been looking forward to. In 1989 the Dallas Cowboys selected Troy Aikman of UCLA with the first overall pick in the draft, later that same year at the behest of coach Jimmy Johnson the Cowboys drafted Steve Walsh of Miami with their first pick in the supplemental draft. Both Aikman and Walsh played QB and for the next couple of years both had to spend their time looking over their shoulder for the other and it didn’t allow for the Cowboys to settle on a QB. Granted Johnson was engaged in blatant favoritism to many of his former players (Johnson coached at Miami) but the Walsh pick was the worst. In my opinion the Browns selecting Pryor is similar in that the heir apparent, McCoy now has to worry about being usurped from his starting spot for reason that are not entirely within his control.

To wrap up, Pryor can be of tremendous value to the Browns as a receiver as right now McCoy has few people to throw to the most recognizable of which is Mohammed Massaquoi. No offense intended but the majority of people only know of Massaquoi as “That receiver they show getting decked by James Harrison whenever ESPN wants to talk about violent hits.” While the addition of Greg Little shows promise McCoy certainly won’t complain about another tall receiver.

Bears (Receiver): Like I said the league likes tall receivers and Pryor could make a wonderful target for a team in search of a clear cut No.1, granted it would take Pryor time to adjust to some of the ins and outs of his new position but his potential can’t really be ignored. I’d expand more on this but I’ve covered the topic at length in my earlier article about the Bears and by now this article is way longer than I intended.

Redskins (QB) (Receiver): Things are a mess over in DC, take that statement as you will but in this case the Redskins are in need of, well pretty much everything. If they could find a scouting report saying that Pryor is capable of playing guard, center and QB all at the same time then the Skins are in business. Pryor’s athleticism will be definite draw to a team that is about to start a winless QB and who’s offensive line almost necessitates that the QB be ready to take off for his life. Meanwhile Pryor’s potential as a wideout adds a playmaker to a team with two good tight ends and one legit receiver.

Bills (QB) (Receiver): And so we come to the last of the teams of interest, the Bills seem content with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback but he can’t last forever and the Bills are going to need a franchise QB if they would ever like to see anything besides the basement of the AFC East. Is Pryor their guy? It’s possible, Chan Gailey’s offense favors the mobile which lead to draft day speculation that Newton would not make it past the Bills. The Bills need some excitement in their game and Pryor needs a team. Pryor could also provide another playmaking option opposite the rising star of Stevie Johnson.s

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Make Up Text

Hello readers,

As I'm sure you have all been devastated by my prolonged absence (1 solid month) I have a bunch of new articles and ideas buzzing around in my head. So there's probably going to be a bit of break from the Offseason Questions segment I've been doing. I'm thinking I'm going to write about Terrelle Pryor's NFL prospects, T.O's ACL surgery, A new Heisman watchlist, and ssizing up the 2012 QB class. Should come out soon, can't really specify a date. As always input is appreciated (even encouraged, nothing creates web traffic like a good comments battle) send this blog to your friends and family (think of it as an early Christmas gift) and enjoy the fact that the lockout is almost over! No, Seriously!

Offseason Questions: Green Bay Packers

1.      Can the Packers Repeat?

That’s the question on everybody’s mind after the Packers’ victory in last season’s super bowl. The Packers seem stacked coming into next season and various media outlets have firmly situated themselves in their corner. The Packers are stronger on offense than defense with QB Aaron Rodgers returning after a season that vaulted him into the top 3 or 4 QB’s in the league. Also the Packers are stacked at wide out with the Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, rookie Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley. Meanwhile the Packers have some young talent on defense as well in linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Tramon Williams. On paper this team is built to win and possibly win big but a couple of potential obstacles could put a halt on another addition to Titletown’s reputation. The Packers play in a tough division and its only getting tougher. Don’t believe me? Fine let’s talk about that for a second. The Bears, are on the rise (aka the up&up) with an improving offensive line and a young QB in Jay Cutler who won the division last year, the Vikings are built to win now with RB Adrian Peterson running downhill, Jarred Allen running after Rodgers, and wide receiver Sidney Rice hoping to regain his ’09 form. But these were probably all things you knew, what you may not know is that the NFC North may have just become the toughest division in the NFC with the Lions on the rise. Let me just say that again, the Detroit Lions are showing promise, lots of it. Between talented but unproven QB Matthew Stafford, rookie wide out Titus Young, Jahvid Best, and Ndamukong Suh the Lions are no longer the division’s punching bag and that could hurt the Packers’ seeding come playoff time. Pair that with the fact that the other top division, the NFC South, may for the first time in a long time field 3 playoff teams and the Packers are going to be fighting hard to make it back.

2.      He’s Back

Now when one talks about the high injury season that the Packers endured last year this could mean a lot of people. But I’m talking about Finley, Jermichael Finley. Standing at 6’5” weighing 245 pounds Finley was an early pick last offseason to be one of the leagues best tight ends before experiencing a season ending injury chasing down a defender. Finley proved to have big play capability during Aaron Rodgers’ duel with Kurt Warner as he turned in a six catch 159 yard performance (second only to Kellen Winslow’s epic performance against Miami). Now Finley is back, mostly unnoticed compared to the media hype machine that surrounded him last offseason. Opposing coordinators would do well not to pat themselves on the back if the shaky handed wonder James Jones leaves.

3.      I’m Only One Man

Let’s be clear, the Packers could not run the ball last year. Attribute it to what you like, Brandon Jackson isn’t good, Kuhn is a fullback, Grant got hurt and Starks would have been good if he had played. Like I said do what you like with it, fact is the Packers sucked at running the ball and Rodgers ran far too much. Rodgers is the key to anything the Packers want to do in the future so it would be nice if he didn’t have to run that much. The Packers ranked 24th in rushing at a flat 100 yards, and 6th on rushing in the post season averaging 101 yards per game. The rushing average during the regular season was 3.8 and 3.7 in the postseason. Some might say this is really just knit picking a very solid team, that since the NFL is becoming a passing league running the ball is outdated. To that I’ll just say that nothing opens up an offense like a scared defense and if the defense knows that it’s a pass then they have all day to figure out a QB. Main point, Rodgers shouldn’t have to do it all himself, he’s only one man.

4.      Clay Matthews

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t come up with anything catchy or clever for this section regarding “the Claymaker” or the many other variants of his name that I’ve heard. Matthews is an absolute beast who comes from a long line of NFL linebackers and he has not disappointed. Matthews’ week in, week out work ethic has made him a media darling and his nice combination of speed power and relentlessness pursuit earned him a spot in the top 20 NFL Players list. Only one thing is ever really brought up of how Matthews could be better, a little help from his friends, specifically at the opposite outside linebacker spot opposite Matthews. What the Pack decide to do with this spot will be interesting to see going forward.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Off Season Questions: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins

1.     So…John Beck
Who is this guy? Well John Beck was drafted in 2007 and apparently Mike Shanahan known in some circles as “That guy who benched a first ballot hall of famer in favor of Rex Grossman” thinks “the world of him”. Putting aside for one second my deep seated dislike and lack of respect for Shanahan I think we need to ask why exactly Shanahan thinks he’s so awesome that he deserves to be the starter. Shanahan says, according to ESPN, that he had Beck rated the highest in the 2007 draft class as far as quarterbacks were concerned. High praise right? Well let’s look at that star studded class of JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, Drew Stanton, Trent Edwards, Troy Smith, and Tyler Thigpen. Pretty epic draft class, their entire career records are so poor that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is one win short of having more wins than all of them put together. So going back to Shanahan’s opinion, because that’s what it is…an opinion. Beck was not rated the highest in that draft class, that’s Shanahan’s opinion, he has not enjoyed anymore success than anybody in that draft class and has yet to win a single game in the NFL. He’s paired with a lunatic coach and one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the league second only perhaps to the Bengals.

2.     Which Leads Beautifully Into…
My next question! How far away from legitness are the Redskins? Answer: A long way, a really long way. The problem starts at the top, owner Daniel Snyder. Snyder has developed a nasty habit of throwing money on free agents and creating a tidal wave of hype that the player cannot hope to live up to. A perfect example of this is quarterback Donovan McNabb who is in limbo as waits to flee DC and never look back. McNabb, as I’ve talked about in earlier articles, was traded midway through last offseason from his beloved Philadelphia Eagles to division rival Washington. So of course several members of the media blew McNabb’s impact so far out of proportion that it was difficult to tell whether the Redskins had acquired McNabb or Gandhi. That the Redskins were viewed as being in contention for the NFC East last season is laughable. The Redskins organization has done this year after year bringing in high price free agents and swearing that this time is different. Back in the day this strategy had some merit and if the ‘Skins think that they’ve uncovered the next Matt Cassel then that’s great for them but I have my doubts. The Redskins this year showed signs of what the Raiders did last season, the beginnings of understanding that teams are built by the draft not by free agents. For instance last year I had the Raiders taking offensive lineman Bruce Campbell because he was fast, the Raiders always draft the fastest guy. Al Davis drafted Darrius Heyward Bay over the far superior prospect, Michael Crabtree due to 40 time. But then the Raiders shocked the world (and perhaps more importantly my mock draft) by taking Rolando McClain who was a solid prospect who instantly improved a pretty suckish Raiders defense. My point being that this season (with no free agency) the Redskins traded down and seem to have taken substance over style in solid pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan and running back Roy Helu (we’ll talk about him in a second). Teams have to be built through the draft especially when you have as many needs as the Redskins. If they continue to build through the draft and ease themselves off the crutch of free agency they should be contenders, till then the East belongs to Dallas, New York and Philly.

3.     The 100 Million Dollar Man
The Redskins have themselves a problem, about 100 million dollars worth of problems. Luckily (and by that I mean unluckily) for the Redskins those problems come nice and wrapped up in the behemoth that is Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is a diva defensive tackle who has made a few things abundantly clear. 1. He has no intention of playing nose tackle. 2. He has no intention of being a Redskin. 3. The sooner he leaves the happier everybody (with the possible exception of his new team) will be. Haynesworth is gonna be a tough sell to numerous teams due to his well publicized feud with Shanahan during last offseason, his ridiculously high pay isn’t exactly helping. But like it or not, the moving of Haynesworth will dominate the Redskins organization until he moves.

4.     Helu, Goodbye
Yes that is a Roy Helu name pun, it is my first and probably will not be my last. Helu is a solid runner out of the University of Nebraska whose had back to back 1000 yard seasons and had some very strong showings last season. Meanwhile in the Redskins signed backfield there is Ryan Torain who showed flashes of potential last season after Clinton Portis suffered an injury to his groin that made me wince just hearing it. Which one of these men emerges as the featured back of this Redskins offense may prove to be a bigger deal than most people are treating it as. Think about this for a second, the Redskins are starting John Beck at QB (unless Shanahan is just yanking our chain) with possibly Rex Grossman as his backup. This star studded QB line up comes into a suspect offensive line with one real receiver and two good tight ends. That’s it. There’s definite talent on defense (Brian Orakpo is a monster. Fact.) but there’s not enough talent to be on the field most of the game, and if Beck and Sexy Rexy struggle to find their one receiver while DeMarcus Ware rides them to the turf then the ‘Skins better find a damn running game or perish. So which will it be? Helu? Torain? A mysterious stranger from the ranks of the undrafted? Nobody will know till the season gets started.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Off Season Questions: New York Giants

New York Giants

1.     Can Eli Manning Step It Up
For most quarterbacks a season where they threw for over 4000 yards and threw over 30 touchdowns would be cause for celebration. Not for Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback also threw 25 interceptions, which held back a Giants team that just missed the playoffs. If Manning ever wants to see the Super Bowl again (and maybe have something over his elder brother) he’s gonna have to step up his accuracy. The weapons are there in human safety blanket Steve Smith, playmaker Hakeem Nicks and the field stretching presence of Mario Manningham but can Manning deliver?

2.     Do the Giants have a running back they can count on?
Ahmad Bradshaw had a good season rushing for over 1000 yards and being a solid option in the passing game. That being said Bradshaw has proven to be injury prone and the Giants may not be able to count on him to be there every down. Then there’s Brandon Jacobs… Color me skeptical of Jacobs abilities who turns 29 in July and frankly if I was the Giants I wouldn’t have him back. It wasn’t just Jacobs’ less than great production, that he looked tentative at times trying to pick what hole he wanted to go through it was the “Manning Bowl” where I made my decision. It’s generally frowned upon in football to act like a 2 year old. Lists of things that are unacceptable in the sport of football include grabbing people’s facemask, holding, running in the wrong direction oh yeah and hurling your helmet into the stands because you got pulled from the game. Guess which one of these helped me decide that Jacobs can’t be depended on? The Giants’ need at running back is far from dire, Bradshaw can be a home run hitter when he wants, but the Giants may need to start looking for somebody more long term.

3.     The Boy Who Would Be King Prince
One pebble can cause 1000 waves. Similarly on shutdown cornerback can cause 3-4 wins. That’s the potential impact of Former Husker, now Giant Prince Amukamara. Amukamara is blazing fast, with great coverage skills that served him well in a great Nebraska defense under Coach Bo Pelini. With a 4.43 40 time Amukamara has the speed and the height (6’) to cover Jackson or Austin. With Prince presumptively taking over the 1 spot at CB half of the field may now be unavailable to a bevy of very good NFC East offenses. With a very strong defensive line and a good pool of safeties lead by Kenny Phillips Amukamara may be the missing piece to put this already pretty dominant unit over the top.

4.     Revenge is a Dish Best Served Sometime This Season
As you might have noticed last season, the Giants got owned by the Eagles. True, the slot blitzes in the second game kept Vick and his hapless offensive line guessing but there was still the fact that the Giants lost and DeSean Jackson shall never be forgotten for the miraculous play that he made that day. With the Eagles sitting pretty at the top of the division the Giants need to hit them where it hurts, right in the win/loss column. The Giants get their first shot at the Eagles in week 3. It should be a hard hitting game as the Giants try and reap their vengeance for the utter humiliation the Giants suffered when this happened…

Off Season Questions: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles

1.     Can Michael Vick stay healthy?
Wow. That’s all many people could say after seeing quarterback Michael Vick last season. This was not the Michael Vick that Altanta fans knew, the Vick who made one read and ran for it. Vick was making multiple reads throwing ropes to Jackson and Maclin, completing passes efficiently, staying in the pocket, and not throwing interceptions. It was truly an incredible transformation to watch and by midseason nobody really seemed to care about Kevin Kolb as anything besides Vick’s insurance policy. Which is coincidentally the whole point of this question. Vick was nearly superhuman throughout the season except for when he was hurt. Part of that can be attributed to simply pathetic effort on the part of the Eagles line, but part of that lie on Vick’s scrambling which can open him up to big hits. Vick’s ability to escape more often than not is not in question, what is in question is what happens on the times that he doesn’t.

2.     Oh To Be Young and Full of promise
The Eagles have one of the best young nucleuses in the league. Period. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek are some of the best at their position and coupled with reborn superstar Michael Vick have given the Eagles an edge similar to the University of Oregon last season, they can score from anywhere at any time. Can the offense score enough points to cover up lapses by a still suspect Eagles defense?

3.     Much Ado About Kevin
You really can’t just let this one slip by if you’re going to write about the Eagles this offseason. What’s going to happen to Kevin Kolb? Is he staying or going? And if (probably) going, where’s he going to go? The best package I’ve heard of was mentioned by John Clayton of ESPN in his mailbag, Arizona Cardinals second round picks in the next two drafts. Some might be reading this right about now and be asking why not a first rounder? I must admit I was asking myself the same question considering Kolb is almost certainly better than anyone the Cardinals or any other NFC West team besides the Rams has on the roster. Well that’s actually the problem, the Cardinals play in the worst division in the history of the NFL, that’s not my opinion it’s a fact. The NFC West was won last season, for the first time in league history, by a team that lost more games than it won. Thus a young guy like Kolb at the controls of a potentially very potent offense in Arizona might be able to get back to the top of the division and thus become a playoff contender moving their pick to the early 20’s as opposed to say #12. Second round picks are more predictable in that respect and offer a longer term pay off to the Eagles. Will Andy Reid buy it? That’s the question

4.     Behind a Strong Philly Offense Theres…
A pretty weak defense. Yup for all the prolific exploits of the Eagles offense (Miracle at the New Meadowlands included) the defense was softer than it should have been. The return of the injured Brandon Graham should lend some help to this defense but the addition of a shut down corner (Nnamdi Asomugha anybody?) would go a long way toward helping the Eagles.

Off Season Questions: Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys

1.     Will the defense perform under Rob Ryan?
Last year the Cowboys were in popular talks for the Super Bowl, the stage seemed set perfectly. The Cowboys fresh off a fairly productive season, winning their first playoff game in years, Romo was playing well and the team had a pair of good wide outs in Miles Austin and unproven (at the time) rookie Dez Bryant. The Super Bowl was going to be at the Jerry Dome, hopes had rarely been higher in Big D. Then of course the Cowboys ran into a problem, their defense. While the Dallas defense is home to a number of very good players (DeMarcus Ware, Keith Brooking and debatably Terrance Newman) the defense was atrocious last year surrendering 31 touchdown passes. In a division with the score from anywhere offense of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the stable of receivers chomping at the bit in New York, Dallas can no longer depend solely upon a strong offense. The question is whether this unit just needs a new season or whether Dallas needs an infusion of youth on defense.

2.     Ball’s In Your Court
Slightly related to the first question, the Cowboys did nothing to replace Safety Alan Ball who was an absolute liability in coverage last year. True, this wasn’t the strongest class of safeties with the first safety going in the second round, but it has become blatantly obvious that Ball is holding Dallas back and it will be interesting to see whether Jerry Jones and the Boys decide to make a play for Sam Huff if/when free agency starts.

3.     Can Tony Romo win the Big Game?
Throughout his career quarterback Tony Romo has faced criticism for choking under pressure, being more interested in hanging with celebrities than playing football and just not appearing completely focused at times. Coming back from a broken clavicle that sidelined him early in the season (effectively dashing any hopes the Cowboys had of a playoff run) Romo has a lot of questions to answer if he wants to remain the unquestioned starter of this team. Romo may never have had a more dangerous collection of pass catchers with Dez Bryant returning for his second season after a strong rookie season before being sidelined by an ankle injury, Miles Austin as his reliable #1 wideout and his good friend Jason Witten still attacking the center of the field. Romo’s backfield is strong with Felix Jones, Demarco Murray and possibly Marion Barber still backing him up. There will be no excuse for Romo to underperform this season and it will be a hellish offseason this time next year if he does.

4.     Can the Cowboys make the playoffs?
There are few division that are tougher in the NFL than the NFC East. With the exception of the Redskins (We’ll get to them in a little bit) all these rosters seem loaded with either big name players or players who are about to be big including Ware, Austin, Vick, Jackson, Tuck, Amukamara, Phillips, Nicks, Smith, Rolle, Bryant, Manning (I have my doubts but I’m obligated to put him on the list because he won a super bowl) and McCoy. Between all of these names it’s very legitimate to wonder whether the Cowboys have missed their window and this division is the Michael Vick show now. With a talented roster and a few key free agent pickups Big D could reinsert themselves in the conversation, but for now we just don’t know.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Super Exciting Update Time

Translation: Me talking about how I'm super busy this week but how there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Sup guys,
So it's the last week of high school (bittersweet etc.) and next week is finals. So there's good news and bad news there, bad news is that I'm swamped for the rest of week. Good news is that it's looking like I'll have next to no finals so I got a solid week to do what I do best, write sports articles when I could be using my time for something society considers "productive". Bottom line: Off season questions are gonna come out in droves next week. Also if you have an issue you want me to talk about, or a question you want me to answer it'll be time for my second mailbag (the first one was less than successful) drop it in there. I've been getting some questions about what I'm going to do once I'm out of offseason questions. To that I can't give a specific answer, but I can tell you that I have a lot of free time and an obsessive streak regarding I'll figure something out.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

And We're Back

Sorry I'm late sports fans, been in Phoenix (8th place in Nationals for Mock Trial, boom goes the dynamite!) Well here's that long awaited draft coverage.

1.    Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB Auburn
The Panthers pulled the trigger on a potential superstar here. Newton is an incredible athlete Capable of things that are nothing short of mind boggling. Prime concerns with Newton are a learning curve as he transitions from the spread offense that he ran in college to a more pro style system with the Carolina Panthers. There have also been some concerns about whether Newton’s running abilities will be as effective at the pro level among fast and stronger defenders than he faced. That being said the Panthers had to make a call on how to get themselves out of the cellar. The Panthers have a TON of work to do in almost every area but Newton is, in my view, a step in the right direction.

2.     Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M
John Fox went defense here…good. Denver’s defense was horrible last year against the run. While Miller is suspect against the run his abilities to rush the passer are almost unquestionable. Miller has evolved since his freshman year from a diva who consistently missed class into a real hard worker and a class act. Miller will be a good addition to the Denver defense and should make an exciting pairing with 2009 Sack leader Elvis Dumervil.

3.     Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama
It wasn’t the pick I made, but it was the pick that the Bills needed and my hat’s off to them for that. The Bills also had an atrocious run defense last year, whereas their offense was ok. The Bills ignored the temptation to take the much over hyped Blaine Gabbert here and instead chose a player they can build a defense around as the Bills attempt to claw their way back to respectability.

4.    Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR Georgia
Bust proof. That’s really the only way to start a paragraph concerning newly minted Bengals receiver AJ Green. Green is the next in a long line of play making wide outs who have gone in the first round recently. Among those counted on this list are Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson& Andre Johnson. Good company to be in as AJ Green marks the end to the Ochocinco era and brings a field stretching threat to a potentially potent Cincy pass attack.

5.     Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Great pick by the Cardinals, Peterson comes into another tired defense and makes their job much easier by simply taking away half of the field. Peterson is a fantastic prospect with coverage skills that are vaguely similar to sealing somebody in a biodome. Cornerback wasn’t a massive need for the Cardinals but they realized an opportunity here and they took it.

6.     Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones, WR Alabama
Shocking trade by the Falcons (two first round picks and some picks in the 4th) to move up to #6 to grab Julio Jones, interesting choice. The Falcons needed a #2 receiver to put opposite Roddy White and Jones may fit the bill to perfection. Was it worth the trade? We’ll find out this season!

7.     San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, DE Mizzou
I was left scratching my head on this one. The 49ers have very real needs at quarterback as the only quarterback who looks to be coming back is named Alex Smith and the people of San Francisco have had 5 years to note how much better things might have been if they had drafted Aaron Rodgers. Yet with his first draft pick as NFL coach Jim Harbaugh decided on a defensive end. Smith is an up and coming junior from Mizzou who will probably be very productive in a very solid 49er defense that is lead by 3X Pro Bowler, Patrick Willis

8.     Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB Washington
Billed as the “anti Vince Young” the Titans chose Washington QB Jake Locker. Locker was once heralded as “Tim Tebow, if Tim Tebow could throw” and was projected to be going #1 this time last year. After a return to school to claim a bowl win over a fearsome Nebraska defense that harassed him into interceptions and an all around bad showing in a regular season defeat, Locker brings some possible stability to a Titans franchise that is clearly rebuilding despite having home run threat and former 2000 yard rusher, Chris Johnson.

9.     Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT USC
The Cowboys take a lineman in the first round for the first time since Jerry Jones started being “the Boss” in Dallas. A three year starter at the right tackle spot on the USC Smith is a solid prospect with a huge amount of upside and a high ceiling as a prototypical left tackle.

10 Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert, QB Mizzou
Gabbert took a bit of a tumble to a spot originally occupied by the Redskins who traded down in the ever-present quest for more draft picks. Gabbert is never going to be elite, not probably, never but Gabbert will be a solid starter for this still young Jaguars team that is looking to take control of the house that Peyton Manning built. In my opinion Jacksonville would have been better served finding somebody ready to play right away but Gene Smith has an apparent vision and Blaine Gabbert is right in the middle of it.

11 Houston Texans: JJ Watt, DE Wisconsin
The Texans had two ways that they could go with this draft pick, cornerback and defensive end as they transition to Wade Phillips’ 3-4 set in an effort to improve a defense that routinely blew games for a very impressive offensive unit. The good news is that the Texans are stacked at nearly every skill position with starters by the name of Andre Johnson Matt Schaub and Rushing leader Arian Foster. Bad news is that the pass defense was one of the NFL’s worst last season (I’m guessing everyone has already seen Glover Quinn’s moment of glory?). In JJ Watt the Texans make a great pick to pair with or replace 2006 #2 overall selection, Mario Williams. Watt is an impressive player who is as Jon Gruden so accurately put it “a self made man” who went from being a blocking tight end at Central Michigan to playing Defensive End at Wisconsin.

12 Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder, QB Florida State
Seriously? No, seriously? That was about all I could say for about 5 minutes after the Vikings shocked everyone in attendance and just about every person in Minnesota who hasn’t switched allegiance to the Packers (and to those people I can only shake my head in deep disappointment). Ponder is smart, very smart and has a good arm and had some Heisman hype coming into the past season. But the guy just cannot stay healthy and was a high second round prospect at best in my view. The Vikings probably could have and should have traded down and snagged Ponder in the second and focused time on a defensive end. Also the Vikings have been plagued of late with injuries to their cornerbacks (Antoine Winfield has not looked 100% since he hurt his ankle and Cedric Griffin is a miracle if he comes back  even close to as good as he was following his injury). That the Vikings let a grade A prospect like Prince Amukamara slip by them in favor of a quarterback who could have waited till later in the draft was a deplorable lapse by the Vikings regime. 

13Detroit Lions: Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
Around the time that this pick was announced the Bears, Packers and Vikings threw up a prayer that their interior line held up in the face of a suddenly fierce Detroit defensive line. The Lions decided here that they would place priority on finding somebody to somehow make Ndamukong Suh more scary than they would protecting Stafford’s blind side. Jeff Backus can only hold up for so much longer but it’s hard to fault the Lions for this selection because a Suh-Fairley tandem is going to be a nightmare to deal with.

14 St. Louis Rams: Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina
With Julio Jones off the board the Rams made the smart choice and looked defense with this pick. Content to find a playmaker for Sam Bradford in a later round (and they did but more on that in offseason questions, which will be coming soon) the Rams selected an absolute monster in Robert Quinn. The Rams have all the makings of a possible dynasty of NFC West championships considering the epic floundering that is going on in the rest of the division at the quarterback position. Watch out for the Rams to be in the playoff conversation this season.

15 Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, C Florida
There are three words that can regularly be heard in draft analysis and those words are the same words one might use to describe a failed relationship (shoulda, coulda, woulda). In this case I should have seen this draft pick coming as I had heard rumors that Miami was looking to improve their interior protection, the Dolphins could have had a top running back prospect to take pressure off Chad Henne who just isn’t ready for prime time, and I would have pulled the trigger on that pick.

16 Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
It’s always a shame to see somebody be told they have to play for the Redskins. Nothing personal but this organization has been dysfunctional for years and I have deep seated issues with Mike Shanahan. That being said the Redskins have a solid character player and versatile defensive end who will add well to a team that clearly has a long way to go before they can even begin to think about going to the playoffs.

17 New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT Colorado
Well played Belichick, well played. With this Belichick takes a line prospect with good upside and the frame that one would look for when assessing a prospect. Nobody knows better than Belichick the importance of protecting your quarterback. In Solder Belichick has plan B if Matt Light leaves in free agency.

18 San Diego Chargers: Corey Liuget, DT Illinois
The Chargers add some defensive talent here as the Chargers come back from a season where they didn’t win the AFC West, something that was totally unthinkable just a few months ago. Phillip Rivers will be glad of the help as he tries once again to strap the team to his back and launch them into the Super Bowl that his right arm has been promising San Diego for years.

19New York Giants: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
Massive steal here for the Giants, never in any of the drafts, predictions and endless coverage that I watched was there any idea that Prince Amukamara would last this long. Amukamara has tremendous speed and good coverage skills. What’s more the ceiling is fairly high on Aumkamara because originally he was recruited to Nebraska to play running back and only afterwards was moved to cornerback. The Giants add a potential shutdown corner to an already potent defensive mix.

20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
Nice choice here for the Buccaneers as they add another youthful player to a squad that should have made the playoffs last season and was denied by a BS rule about division winners automatically making the playoffs (even if that division has made the decision to try playing the game without quarterbacks). Clayborn joins a (for lack of a better nickname) Fearsome Foursome in sophomore defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price and rookie Da’Quan Bowers. This Bucs unit is literally bursting with potential to really ruin Matt Ryan, Jimmy Clausen/Cam Newton, and Drew Brees’ collective days.

21 Cleveland Browns: Phil Taylor, NT Baylor
The Browns make a shrewd choice here selecting Shaun Rogers replacement while making off with the Falcons’ first rounder for 2012. Maybe this Holmgren guy knows a thing or two about football. Taylor is a massive force who should provide support to a Browns unit that faces potent running games in the Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall and the Ravens’ Ray Rice.

22 Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College
And so it begins. The Colts’ offensive line has gotten long in the tooth in recent years and struggled mightily this year to protect Peyton “Nobody knows who the Colts are without me” Manning. Manning will be glad of the support as he looks to capture another Super Bowl ring so he can stop hearing all this hype about some guy named Tom Brady.

23 Philadelphia Eagles: Danny Watkins, G Baylor
I’ve got a riddle, what do you do when you have arguably the most dangerous corps of skill players in the NFL? If you said “Protect your quarterback” congratulations! You have common sense. If I had to pick a team that is most likely to genuinely frighten a defense I would go with the Eagles, between Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and Michael Vick the Eagles can and will score from anywhere and everywhere. Vick shocked the world this past season by showing that he has learned to read defenses, check down when necessary, and go through more than one progression before sprinting away. You know what makes all of these things easier? Time. Vick will certainly be happy of the extra time and frankly just the amazing life story of Danny Watkins. Watkins is from Canada and grew up wanting to be, and is a fireman whose entire engine showed up to cheer loudly for him at the draft. Watkins originally played rugby and went on to be a very good offensive lineman at Baylor. While at the age of 25 Watkins is older than most prospects and doesn’t have as much time you can’t really be mad at a choice like this.

24 New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan, DE Cal
The Saints are a team with few true needs, so they added to their defensive line with a prospect who I was shocked to see last this long. Jordan is one half of a VERY good first round for the Saints. We’ll get to the other guy in a couple of picks.

25 Seattle Seahawks: James Carpenter, G/T Alabama
First thoughts of many people after this selection was announced “Who is James Carpenter?” To answer this question, James Carpenter was a tackle in one of the most bruising offensive line units I have seen. That is to say that James Carpenter is part of the Alabama offensive line. The unit has been described as (due in no small part to Carpenter) Mauling, brutal, incredibly physical, and talented. Many had Carpenter with a late second round grade so I’m going to say this may have been a reach with other prospects still on the board that could have been a help to Seattle.

26 Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pitt
The events surrounding this pick were interesting to say the least. The Ravens were originally slated to pick at #26 but ran out of time after failing to secure a deal with the Bears. As a result they “passed” and the Chiefs chose in their stead. The Chiefs selected Jonathan Baldwin a 6’4” coverage nightmare with tremendous body control and the ability to leap spectacularly and grab balls most can’t even think of touching. He should be a good compliment to Dwayne Bowe who appeared to come into his own last year.

27 Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado
Color me skeptical as far as this pick is concerned. Smith is a good player and fills an area of desperate need for the Ravens, an area that may well have cost them a shot at the AFC Championship game. But Smith has a number of red flags after reportedly failing three separate drug tests at the combine that ultimately cost him a shot at being in the top 15. Maybe it’s nit picking but I can’t recall anyone ever looking less excited to be told that they’re going to be an NFL player. Smith may be a headcase, on the upside for Ravens fans he’s in a locker room with Ray Lewis who will certainly do his best to help Smith get his act together.

28 New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
Now there’s that other prospect I was talking about earlier. The Saints trade their first rounder for 2012 for a tremendously talented back in Alabama’s Mark Ingram. Ingram is not the fastest RB in the draft (that title went to Oakland’s Taiwan Jones) but he’s a hard nosed runner who fights for every inch and is tremendous after contact.

29 Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin
The Bears drafted for need here and if you are Jay Cutler you say thank you 1000X over. The Bears line was horrible last year giving up 60 sacks and even more hits on QB Jay Cutler. Without having had a first round pick in two years the Bears’ Jerry Angelo redeems himself somewhat by picking a potential starter for years to come.

30 New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Temple
The Jets add another great prospect to their defense. The Jets are sort of like the “Anti Texans” they have great coverage, actually superb coverage between Antonio Cromartie and All universe cornerback Darelle Revis. But next to no pass rush and depend on the wacky blitz packages of head coach Rex Ryan. With Wilkerson the Jets get a pass rusher to give Tom Brady yet another thing to think about in New Meadowlands stadium.

31 Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State
The Steelers add another face to their defensive line unit. I suspect that this pick was really more for the sake of depth than it was need as the Steelers already have a great defensive front in Brett Keisel, his beard and the other two guys on the line.

32 Green Bay Packers: Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State
A year ago the Packers realized that Aaron Rodgers on his feet was better than Aaron Rodgers on the ground. One year later the Packers decided this logic still made sense, hence Derek Sherrod.