February 20, 2014
With the 2014 NFL Combine happening February 22-25 in Indianapolis the NFL hits full throttle once again. The Combine signifies that the 2014 NFL Draft is right around the corner. This is the time that all 32 NFL GMs begin to sweat. Critical decisions are to be made.
While many may see the combine as players in shorts and t-shirts simply running around, it’s anything but. NFL dreams are on the line. GMs are watching. Make a lasting impact now and your name will be called in May.
To no one’s surprise the quarterback position will be under the microscope in Indy during the Combine. Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and others will fill the board come draft day. Although there may not be an elite quarterback in this draft this year’s class is certainly better than 2011’s class. As far as elite goes, that remains to be seen as only time will tell.
Some teams will get the QB fever and reach for what they hope is a winner. Keep in mind that many teams are hungry for their franchise signal caller but quarterback is not the only position. Which team will be bold and pass on a quarterback for something else?
The following teams, whether searching for their quarterback of the foreseeable future or a playmaker at another position have to make a splash in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft. Making the wrong moves may forever doom their respective franchises.
No. 5: Houston Texans
This is a no brainer, but it must be mentioned. The No. 1 pick in the NFL draft comes with pressure. The Houston Texans could do one of three things—draft Jadeveon Clowney, draft the quarterback which they deem the best, or trade the pick.
Once Clowney dismantles the competition at the Combine and topples the likes of Twitter by the end of February 25 the pick will be an easy one. Everyone will be talking about this kid from South Carolina. His combination of size, speed and strength is something unfathomable. At 6’6”, 275 lbs. he says he’ll run a 4.4 40-yard-dash at the Combine. If he does that there will be talks of “best ever” even before he sports an NFL jersey.
By this time next week the Texans will have made up their mind.
No. 4: San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks appear to be going nowhere anytime soon and the 49ers have to keep up. It can be argued that these are the two most dangerous teams in the NFL but speculation and proof are two separate things.
The Niners are motivated to reach the summit—their Super Bowl window is now. Expect San Francisco to select a sturdy wide receiver in Round 1.
No. 3 Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans sit in a curious position in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft. With pick No. 11 the team could go in any direction.
New head coach Ken Whisenhunt is a quarterback kinda guy and he’s going to give Jake Locker a chance. With that being said, it may be in their best interest to draft a quarterback with their first pick. Locker hasn’t proven himself yet and the Titans could catch an acute case of the QB fever.
A guy like Derek Carr of Fresno State or Zach Mettenberger from LSU may intrigue them just enough to pull the trigger. Even if Locker doesn’t convince the Titans brass he’s their number one his younger predecessor would have time to learn. On the other hand, the demand is high on these kids and they would be valuable trade bait should Locker pan out. This would bring interest from other teams around this time next season. A healthy quarterback with a year of NFL experience is a coveted commodity. It seems like a win-win for the Titans.
Pay attention to the Titans—their decision could shake up the rest of the draft.
No. 2: St. Louis Rams
Conveniently enough the St. Louis Rams have the No. 2 overall pick, but that’s not why this draft is so important for them. They also have the No. 13 pick in the first round.
Thanks to the trade with the Washington Redskins for Robert Griffin III in 2012, the Rams own the No. 2 pick. They will draft wide receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson and all will be right in the world. Combined with Tavon Austin the Rams will have two explosive receivers.
The team still believes in quarterback Sam Bradford and will spend their No. 13 pick on protecting him. Expect the Rams to select the best offensive lineman available and with possibly five quarterbacks being selected before that pick, the lineman pool should be rich.
The Rams are a team on the brink of greatness, but must protect Bradford. Let’s hope their No. 13 pick is a Week 1 starter.
No. 1: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are currently upside down. The front office is in disarray but better days are ahead.
The 2014 NFL draft is where it all starts. With two picks, No. 4 and No. 26 in the first round the team has to knock it out of the park.
They can’t repeat what they did in 2012. That year they also had two picks in Round 1. They took running back Trent Richardson at No. 3 and quarterback Brandon Weeden at No. 22. They acquired the No. 22 pick by trading their 2011 No. 6 pick to the Atlanta Falcons for who turned out to be Julio Jones.
Fittingly enough their second pick this year will be at No. 26—they acquired that by trading Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts early in the 2013.
The Browns need a quarterback and everything points to them selling the farm for Manziel. If a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the No. 3 overall pick threaten to take Manziel the Browns may cough up the No. 26 pick. Manziel would light a fire in Cleveland the city hasn’t seen since some guy named LeBron roamed the court. He would sell tickets and more importantly reinstall the faith.
If Manziel doesn’t fall into Cleveland’s lap the Browns have to make hay with the best available. The future of the franchise is at stake. Regardless of what happens the Browns will be the most talked-about team in the league leading up to the draft.
May 1, 2013
It’s been nearly a week since Mr. Irrelevant was selected in the NFL Draft. That’s plenty of time to figure out which teams improved and which ones blew it. But that seems like a lot of work and judging by last week’s mock draft, I could be wrong about these picks. I’ll take the easy road again this year and see who the winners were in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Seattle hit five of its first six picks and all five of those players are now starters on one of the best and youngest teams in the league. The Seahawks added Russell Okung at left tackle, Earl Thomas at free safety, Golden Tate at wide receiver, Walter Thurmond at cornerback and Kam Chancellor at strong safety. They also picked up Anthony McCoy who is still on the roster as a backup tight end.
San Francisco 49ers
It should be no surprise that one of last year’s Super Bowl participants makes this list. In the 2010 draft the 49ers picked up Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati who are starters on the offensive line. Navorro Bowman starts at linebacker on one of the best D’s in the league and Anthony Dixon is still on the team playing fullback.
New England Patriots
In this draft the Patriots picked up six players currently on the roster and transformed Tom Brady’s offense from very good to very scary with the addition of two pass catching tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Punter Zoltan Mesko and defenders Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes and Brandon Deaderick were also part of this draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
The 2-14 Chiefs are on this list too? Yep. Eric Berry (strong safety), Dexter McCluster (receiver), Javier Arenas (cornerback), Jon Asamoah (guard) and Tony Moeaki (tight end) is a pretty strong draft class. The Chiefs have talent, but have been plagued with injuries and poor quarterback play.
The Steelers are consistently one of the best drafting teams in the league and 2010 was no exception.
Maurkice Pouncey, Emmanuel Sanders, Jonathan Dwyer and Antonio Brown are all contributors on offense and Jason Worilds and Stevenson Sylvester provide depth on defense.
This draft marked the beginning and the end in Denver. It was the beginning of putting together one of the best teams in the league today, but it also was one of the biggest nails in the coaching coffin of Josh McDaniels. He drafted Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker who are now part of the best receiving trio (with Wes Welker) in the league. Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton and Eric Olsen have all contributed on the offensive line. But of course the story of this draft is the trade up to pick Tim Tebow. It was a controversial pick and ultimately was a big part of McDaniels getting fired. Once McDaniels was gone, the Broncos had one magical season with Tebow before dumping him on the Jets and signing Peyton Manning.
St Louis Rams
The jury is still out on this one. They took Sam Bradford with the first pick in the draft and he has been a decent NFL quarterback. But it has been a couple years now and we will see if Bradford can take the next step and solidify himself as the Rams starter for the next 10 years of if the Rams start looking for the next guy to take his spot.
April 29, 2013
NFL Draft: The popular NFL Draft was held over the weekend and it was, as usual, a big attraction. The true popularity of the league was on display as millions and millions tuned in over the three-day event. The NFL not only has the most popular on-field product in American sports, but has managed to nearly turn its draft into a national holiday. One of the big surprises was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith falling to the second round. Smith, once considered a potential No. 1 overall pick fell and fell … and fell. But when it was all said and done, he landed in a pretty good spot with the New York Jets. Starter Mark Sanchez has fallen out of favor for a couple of years now and backup Tim Tebow is rumored to be released. Smith should have a chance to not only play in 2013, but win the starting job.
Russell Westbrook out for NBA Playoffs: The Oklahoma City Thunder caught an unbelievably tough break when starting guard Russell Westbrook went down with an injury in Game 2. He suffered a tear in his knee and will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on Saturday. Westbrook is often the subject of criticism for his questionable shot selection, but he still averages 23 points a game. And his seven assists and five rebounds per game make him one of the more complete point guards in the league. Once considered a team that could knock off the Miami Heat for their first NBA title, I’m not even sure OKC makes it out of the western conference now.
College football sets playoff system: College football and the BCS announced their plan for the new playoff system set to begin in 2015. Six bowl games will rotate sharing semifinal games – The Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Chick-fil-A, and Cotton. Each year, two of those bowls will host the semifinal games while the other four will hold significant BCS-type games. The first title game in 2015 will be held in Cowboys Stadium. The real winner in all of this? The fans. Not only will there be a four-team playoff, but there will be two additional big time games. Currently, there are the four major bowl games and the BCS Championship. But now, there will be a total of seven major matchups. And in addition, the two semifinal games and the remaining four contests will be held during New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Two tripleheaders over the holiday should give you plenty of reasons not to leave your couch.
Rick Pitino gets tattoo: Yes, this is real news … just go with it. Rick Pitino promised his Louisville Cardinals team he’d man up and get a tattoo if they could win the National Championship. That happened and Pitino didn’t back down. Here’s a picture of it. Not great, but not horrible, I suppose. And props to the coach for not going with a small one-inch tattoo on his ankle or something.
Aaron Rodgers signs new deal with Green Bay Packers: In a move that could keep their star quarterback in a Packers’ uniform for the rest of his career, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers signed a five-year, $110 million extension to remain with the franchise. If he plays out that contract, he would remain in Green Bay for the next seven seasons, through 2019. That would keep him in a Packers jersey until he’s 38. He could play longer, of course, but if nothing else, the bulk of his playing career should be in Green Bay.
UNLV plans Jerry Tarkanian statue: The Las Vegas Sun reported that UNLV is planning a statue for former head basketball coach, Jerry Tarkanian. Tarkanian, recently elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the school have been on the outs for a while with the relationship mending a bit in recent years. And the coach had long been targeted by the NCAA for a variety of issues involving his teams. But wherever you come out on Tark, the one thing that can’t be debated is his ability as a head coach. He won more than 80% of his games and led UNLV to the 1990 National Championship.
April 25, 2013
The 2013 NFL Draft is set for April 25 in New York City and the New York Jets face the most pressure. There are certain teams in sports who are constantly surrounded with drama. Right now, the Jets are the “It” team in this category.
Yes, it’s easy to argue against that point because they play on the world’s largest stage, but the Jets are really good at being a three-ring circus right now. Things undoubtedly started to escalate last offseason when the team signed quarterback Mark Sanchez to a hefty contract extension. That was it–Sanchez was the “Sanchize” quarterback. His contract is worth $58.25 million over five years and a guaranteed $20 million in 2012-13. He was now the guy.
Then the team traded for Tim Tebow just a few short weeks later.
Hundreds of hours of media speculation later and Tebow attempted a whopping eight throws last season.
The Jets finished a dismal 6-10 in 2012 and were outscored by 94 points.
What now? How does the franchise reinstall faith in their faithful? How do they repair stability from top to bottom? How do they turn their situation into something positive?
Well, the team made a bold move last and traded cornerstone cornerback Darrelle Revis last week to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although sidelined in 2012 with an ACL injury, the Bucs rolled the dice and gave the Jets the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Yes, Revis is as good as they get, but it’s a bit less drama for the Jets. It’s a start.
Now holding the No. 9 and No. 13 pick in the first round, it’s time for the Jets to start gaining some traction. It’s time for some positive attention.
Face it, they’re vested to both head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Sanchez for 2013, they’ve made their bed and they will sleep in it.
Now, they must make the right moves in the draft to deflect all the negativity.
So, who do they take?
New GM John Idzik needs to make a good first impression to the fans, who want nothing more than a return to relevance. Believe it or not, Revis was a good move.
Depending on which style of players are left on the board when their time come the Jets may be best off trading down.
Think of the St. Louis Rams in 2012 when they traded the No. 2 overall pick to the Washington Redskins for who turned out to be Robert Griffin III. While the Redskins got the best of the deal in year one, the Rams got four picks, including three first-round choices in return.
True, the Jets don’t have a No. 2 overall pick, rather Nos. 9 and 13. Also, there is not a RG3 caliber player in this year’s draft. But, if the team were to trade down for both picks they could get potentially four to six picks for the future.
If nothing is sticking out like a sore thumb, be conservative and trade down. If someone can’t be passed on, consider him a steal.
It’s time to think big picture for the Jets. There is no quick fix. Whichever path they choose to travel, little-by-little they can rebuild.
Radio City Music Hall will be filled with crazed Jets fans screaming J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces the team’s decisions. Only after his announcement s will the hometown fans announce their verdict.
The future of the franchise lies in the balance of the first round. Jets fans, keep your fingers crossed.
April 25, 2013
It’s that time of year and all the cool kids are doing NFL mock drafts. I gave in to the peer pressure so here is my attempt to get a couple of Thursday’s 32 picks right.
1 Kansas City Chiefs: There’s a new coach in town. Andy Reid has got himself a new quarterback. Now he’ll get someone to protect that quarterback.
2 Jacksonville Jaguars: When you are picking second, you can’t afford to miss on your pick. The Jags will wait for round two or three to get a quarterback and look to improve the worst pass rush in the league.
3 Oakland Raiders: With Matt Flynn in the fold, the Raiders can hope he becomes the franchise guy and look to fill a gaping hole on the defensive line. It’s a choice between Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd.
The pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
4 Philadelphia Eagles: This is where we find out if new coach Chip Kelly wants to groom Geno Smith for the future or protect Michael Vick for the present. One thing we know about Kelly is that he loves speed.
The pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
6 Cleveland Browns: Championship teams have to be great on one side of the ball. In Cleveland, that’s not going to be the offense until Weeden proves he is the right guy or they find someone else. Adding free agents Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and the top cornerback in the draft gives the defense a chance to be really good.
The pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
7 Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals offensive line was awful last year and if Fisher is still on the board, they won’t waste any time turning their card in.
The pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
8 Buffalo Bills: Here’s another team with a new quarterback. Buffalo follows suit and picks up some protection for Kevin Kolb.
The pick: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
9 New York Jets: The defense just took a major hit by trading Revis to Tampa Bay. If the pass coverage gets worse, the pass rush better improve.
The pick: Johathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The pick: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma
The pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.
13 New York Jets: The secondary still needs help and this is the pick the Jets got in the Revis trade. But they don’t care when one of the best players on the board falls into their laps.
The pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
15 New Orleans Saints: Getting Sean Payton back will help the offense so this pick should be used on the defense. With several options to choose from, the Saints take the best defender left on their board.
The pick: Bjoern Werner, DL, Florida St.
16 St. Louis Rams: With two big needs to fill and two first round picks, the Rams must decide between a safety and wide receiver.
The pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
17 Pittsburgh Steelers: James Harrison is in Cincinnati and Mike Wallace took his talents to South Beach. One will be replaced with this pick.
The pick: D.J. Fluker, OL, Alabama
19 New York Giants: When the Giants are great, they are putting pressure on the quarterback. And they like to draft pass rushers.
The pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
20 Chicago Bears: The Bears need help at linebacker with Brian Urlacher now gone. They’ll get it here, but it’s not who you think.
The pick: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas St.
21 Cincinnati Bengals: There aren’t a lot of holes in this roster. The biggest one is probably at safety. Not anymore.
The pic: Eric Reid, S, LSU
22 St. Louis: They’ve already picked up a safety. Now it’s time to get a receiver to fill the void left by Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola.
The pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The pick: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA
The pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
26 Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers would love someone he could hand off to that would keep the defense guessing. First running back comes off the board here.
The pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
28 Denver Broncos: The defensive line needed reinforcements even before the Dumervil debacle. One falls into John Elway’s lap on draft day.
The pick: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri
29 New England Patriots: If the Pats make this pick it’s got to be a receiver or someone to cover a receiver.
The pick: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise St.
The pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
31 San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers could use another safety after losing Dashon Goldson in free agency.
The pick: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The pick: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU