April 27, 2011

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NFL Mock Draft

By: Joe Williams

The NFL Draft is just a couple days away. It seems like everyone is doing mock drafts these days so I decided to join the party. I’ve made sure to include some trades to ensure that I don’t go 32 for 32. I’d feel bad if all these picks are correct. I’m not doing this to take Mel Kiper’s job.

1. Carolina Panthers

Marcell Dareus – DT – Alabama  

The Panthers have a ton of holes to fill. They cannot afford to miss on this pick so they go with a safe pick in Dareus to be an anchor for the defense. This gives Jimmy Clausen one more year to develop and if he doesn’t, Carolina could get “Lucky” in 2012.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Cam Newton – QB – Auburn

Things are uglier than usual in Cincinnati. Carson Palmer says he will not play in a Bengal uniform again. The Bengals say they aren’t trading him. Someone has to play quarterback and Newton’s controversial history seems to fit the Cincinnati mold. When the Panthers pass on Newton, the Bengals trade up two spots to grab him.

3. Buffalo Bills

Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri

Some say Gabbert is the best quarterback in the draft. The Bills are going to have to find a great quarterback to compete with the Patriots and Jets. They hope Gabbert is their guy.

4. Denver Broncos

Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M

Miller could be the best player in the draft. The return of Elvis Dumerville and the addition of Miller will go a long way toward fixing the Denver defense. They move back two spots to pick up an extra pick from the Bengals.

5. Arizona Cardinals

A.J. Green – WR Georgia

Arizona nearly won the Super Bowl with a high-flying passing attack. If the Cardinals can pull off a trade for Kevin Kolb and pair A.J. Green with Larry Fitzgerald they can be dangerous in the weak NFC West.

6. Cleveland Browns

Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina

Cleveland needs to rebuild its defense. Dick Jauron is taking over the defense and could use a pass-rushing end. 

7. San Fransisco 49ers

Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU

Peterson has been compared to Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders. The 49ers are thrilled he is still on the board.

8. Tennessee Titans

Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn

Tennessee needs a quarterback but Newton and Gabbert are off the board so the Titans go after their next Albert Haynesworth.

9. Dallas Cowboys

Tyron Smith – OT – USC

The Cowboys have to protect Tony Romo. Smith will help them do that.

10. Washington Redskins

Julio Jones – WR – Alabama

Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Redskins in 2011 is going to need someone to throw to. Jones would give him a big, physical target.

11. Houston Texans

Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska

The Texans have the offense to keep up with Peyton Manning but they don’t have the defense to slow him down. Adding a Prince to the secondary should give Houston a better shot at taking down the king of the AFC South.

12. Minnesota Vikings

Jake Locker – QB – Washington

Minnesota can finally move on from the Brett Frave era. The Vikings hope Locker will be their quarterback of the future.

13. Detroit Lions

Anthony Castonzo – OT – Boston College

Detroit’s future is riding on Matthew Stafford. The top priority is to keep Stafford on the field.

14. New England Patriots

Mike Pouncey – OL – Florida

New England usually trades down for more picks. This time the Patriots move up to add some youth to the aging offensive line.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

J.J. Watt – DE – Wisconsin

The Buccaneers move up to get the pass-rushing defensive end before San Diego can.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars

Ryan Kerrigan – DE – Purdue

Aaron Kampman has been injury-prone. Kerrigan could be his replacement.

17. St. Louis Rams

Kyle Rudolf – TE – Notre Dame

St. Louis has the foundation in place. It’s time to give Sam Bradford some weapons.

18. San Diego Chargers

Cameron Jordan – DE – Cal

The Chargers add one of the top pass rushers in the draft.

19. New York Giants

Gabe Carimi – OT – Wisconsin

Carimi is a solid tackle that fills the Giants biggest need.

20. Miami Dolphins

Andy Dalton – QB – TCU

Miami has not gotten good enough play at the most important position on the field so they take a shot on Dalton.

21. Kansas City Chiefs

Corey Liuget – DT – Illinois

Liuget will be a big, physical presence in the middle of the Kansas City defense.

22. Indianapolis Colts

Nate Solder – OT – Colorado

The Colts take the best offensive lineman left on the board.

23. Philadelphia Eagles

Jimmy Smith – CB- Colorado

The Eagles need a solid corner to play opposite Asante Samuel.

24. New Orleans Saints

Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson

The Saints get one of the better players in the draft, but he comes with injury concerns.

25. Seattle Seahawks

Danny Watkins – OL – Baylor

Seattle will try to upgrade its interior offensive line.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Torrey Smith – WR – Maryland

The Ravens could use another speedy receiver.

27. Atlanta Falcons

Aldon Smith – DE – Missouri

Atlanta scores a pass-rusher to pair with John Abraham.

28. New England Patriots

Akeem Ayers – OLB – UCLA

The Patriots would like another outside pass-rusher.

29. Chicago Bears

Derek Sherrod – OT – Mississippi

Jay Cutler was hit a lot in 2010. The Bears need to find someone to prevent some of those hits.

30. New York Jets

Cameron Heyward – DE – Ohio State

Rex Ryan loves his defense. He loves it even more when Heyward is still on the board.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers

Brandon Harris – CB – Miami

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers exploited the Steelers’ secondary in the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh gets some reinforcements in Harris.

32. Green Bay Packers

Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama

The Super Bowl champions have a lot of help returning from injury so they make a luxury pick.

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March 23, 2011

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Chad Ochocinco and the Pursuit of Multi-Sport Excellence

By: Lionel

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Chad Ochocinco is trying out for Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC.  Ochocinco has never shied away from publicity, and MLS needs all the publicity it can get, so the tryout itself can’t be looked at as anything but positive.  The potential for controversy really comes down to the decision the team will have to make at the end of the tryout.

Maybe he’ll legitimately earn his way onto the team.  There’s no denying that he, like so many pros in any sport, is an exceptional athlete.  He’s faster, stronger, more agile, more fit, and has better hand-eye coordination than 99.99% of the athletes in this country (when you include amateurs), so there’s no doubt in my mind that he has an infinitely better chance of making the Sporting KC team than I or any of the guys on my softball team would have.  But is freaky athleticism enough to secure a spot on a professional soccer team when you haven’t played organized soccer in a decade?

Michael Jordan was one of the greatest athletes the world has ever witnessed.  But even “His Greatness” wasn’t able to successfully make the switch from basketball to baseball.  Recently retired pitcher John Smoltz was one of the best hurlers in baseball of the past three decades.  His outstanding skills, however, have not yet been enough to launch a second career in golf.  Had either of them given the same time and focus to their “second” sports that they gave to their “first” sports, is it possible that Jordan would today be mentioned in the same breath as Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, and Ken Griffey, Jr., and that Smoltz would have spent the last two decades competing with the likes of Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods?

Multi-sport athletes are certainly not new.  Jim Thorpe, who competed well before the time of anyone reading this, is a legend in baseball, football, basketball, and many track and field events.  In more recent history, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders put up very respectable baseball numbers while also playing professional football.  But few have been able to truly excel at more than one professional sport.  Even for the extremely gifted, it takes so much time and effort to compete at the highest level in one sport that there just aren’t enough hours in the day or energy in the body to be similarly elite at another game.

Did you know that Tom Brady was drafted by the Expos?  Daunte Culpepper was drafted by the YankeesJohn Elway played in both the Yankees’ and the Royals’ minor league system.  Pat Riley was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, Danny Ainge played a few seasons for the Blue Jays, Tony Gwynn was drafted by the Clippers, Dan Marino was drafted by the Royals, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage played minor league ball for the Cardinals and Reds (Oh, yeah!).  Each of these guys made a choice to concentrate on a single sport in an endeavor to excel, recognizing, I’m sure, that he couldn’t reach the level of greatness that he eventually reached if his efforts were divided between two sports.

Is it completely a matter of divided efforts, though?  Or are some elite athletes just better suited for certain sports?  Did Dan Marino turn down the opportunity to play baseball because it was clear to him that his skills gave him a much better shot at being a stand-out football player than a stand-out baseball player?  A former college football playing buddy of mine often questions the choices he’s made.  “For all I know,” he’ll say, “I could be the greatest pickle ball player, buffalo chip tosser, or Marco Poloist in the world, but I haven’t ever attempted any of them.”  Maybe every elite athlete is built specifically for a certain game—athleticism can make him/her very good at many things, but only truly exceptional at one.

Whatever the case may be, the Ochocinco soccer tryout makes a great story.  Can he achieve greatness in a second professional sport?  I highly doubt it.  But I marvel at his athleticism, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I can’t wait to watch the story unfold.

February 10, 2011

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“Who Would Win?” with Daryl “Moose” Johnston

By: Lionel

Editor’s note:  In celebration of his birthday (Feb. 10), we’re giving away four autographed Moose Johnston Fathead Teammates.  Every person who leaves a comment below (be sure to leave your email address) before 11:59pm ET, Feb. 10, 2011 will be entered into a drawing for one of the four prizes.  We’ll announce the winners tomorrow (Feb. 11).  Good luck!

Daryl “Moose” Johnston is no stranger to the Super Bowl, having played on three Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys teams in the nineties.  We caught up with Moose in Dallas prior to Sunday’s big game and asked him to play a game of “Who Would Win?”

It’s a simple premise:  we just asked Moose to tell us which of his former Dallas Cowboys teammates would win various hypothetical events.  Excerpts from the interview are below, with his answers transcribed in bold.

“Moose Johnston, of your old Cowboys teammates, who would win…

1.  …a trash talking contest?”     “I’ll go with Kevin Smith.  Or, no…maybe Alvin Harper.  It wouldn’t be Deion [Sanders], believe it or not.  I’ll go with Alvin.”

2.  …an arm-wrestling tournament?”  “Larry Allen.”

3.  …a stand-up comedy competition?”  “There’s a couple.  That could be Kevin Gogan, or Frank Cornish.”

4.  …a singing contest?”  “Music was always playing, but no one was ever really singing.  Um…Brock Marion.”

5.  …a humanitarian award?”  “Troy [Aikman].”

6a.  …a dance-off?”  “Emmitt [Smith], obviously.”

6b. FOLLOW UP:  “Who would be the least likely to win a dance-off?”  “Me.”

7.  …a hot dog eating contest?”  “Back in the day, I would have picked Nate [Newton], but right now, no way.  He weighs less than I do.  He’s lost almost 200 lbs.  He sat two seats away from me at Emmitt’s Hall of Fame induction.  We had no idea who it was until Emmitt said his name and he stood up.”

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