YouGabSports Blogs
Sunday Musings #143
Category: User Showcase
Tags: BostonCeltics BostonBruins HighSchoolSports NBA UConnHuskies TennesseeLadyVols BostonCollegeAthletics CollegeBasketball CollegeFootball
 
While still recovering from a spring cold that managed to kick my ass all over the place this week...
 
BOSTON CELTICS
 
The long nightmarish, though sort of expected, season has come to a conclusion.
 
The Celtics dropped their final two games of the season to finish at 25-57 for the year.
 
They lost to the Sixers 113-108. Kelly Olynyk established a new career high with 28 points and had 9 rebounds as well. Jeff Green scored 27 points and Avery Bradley added 23 points. Rajon Rondo scored just 8 points, but had 11 boards and 14 assists.
 
The season finale on Wednesday night saw the Wizards win 118-102. It was Olynyk again leading the way offensively with 24 points and 7 boards. Green scored 20 points and Bradley had 18. Brandon Bass scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Chris Johnson hit double figures with 10 points. Rondo sat out the last game and Phil Pressey scored 9 points and dished out 10 assists in his place.
 
It is hard not to be disappointed in a 25-57 season. There is no way to sugar coat such a bad record. And while a lot of people will be disappointed that the Celtics are likely not going to get one of those top 3 draft picks, given the level to which the expected names to fill those three slots were exposed in the college basketball tournament, they may not really be missing out on much.
 
The Celtics have a good coach who actually coaches. Brad Stevens did the best possible job he could given the situation. And it isn't like he doesn't have talent on the team. The Celtics have a ton of guys that are decent players and seemingly pretty good people off the court. They are missing that one dominant player to tie everyone together.
 
I'm not sure how they will go about finding that type of player or even who that player might be, but if they can tie the team together through that type of upgrade, the puzzle pieces they have in place right now just might be enough to turn things around faster than expected.
 
Kelly Olynyk has shown that he can be a force on the court. Jeff Green may never be the #1 scoring option he shows flashes of being able to do, but being able to put up 20 plus points on any given night is a nice second or third option to have.
 
The point guard situation is nicely outfitted with Rondo as the started and Phil Pressey showing he can be a capable backup and spot starter as needed.
 
Avery Bradley has developed into a capable two guard as an offensive player (his defensive capabilities having already been established), Brandon Bass is a solid post player and I love the hustle shown by Chris Johnson.
 
Of course, I know that some of the players are likely to hit the road in the offseason and I'm by no means suggesting that my thoughts on the players are going to be correct. But I liked the team on the court this year despite their struggles. Why? Because they played their asses off. It was not good enough to win a lot of games, but seeing the effort night in and night out during a "lost" season gives you a little bit of hope.
 
 
In other NBA news, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will not be returning to the job next season. While his record over three seasons was not good, the reason for the departure is tied more to the health situation with his wife than anything else. He was profiled in a SI.com piece that I read this week written by Joan Niesen and it delves into how great a coach he is on a variety of levels. You can read the piece here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140415/rick-adelman-minnesota-timberwolves-kevin-love/index.html
 
Also, the Milwaukee Bucks have been sold. Former Senator Herb Kohl has owned the team since 1989 and will remain as a minority owner after selling the team for a record 550 million dollars to a couple of hedge fund guys. Kohl has also apparently pledged 100 million dollars towards building a new arena. You can read more details here: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24529212/report-bucks-sold-to-hedge-fund-partners-for-record-550-million
 
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
 
ORR Girls Track - The Bulldogs track team keeps destroying their competition when it comes to track and field. They beat Bourne 122-13 this past week and my former player Rachel won the 800 meters event in 2:36.
 
Wareham Girls Track - My former player Paige had a huge week this past week. She finished 3rd in the 800 meters (2:31.4) during the Freshman/Sophomore meet which qualified her for States in that event.
 
When the Vikings faced GNB Voc-Tech later in the week, they ran away from their competition 94-36 to improve their record to 2-1. Paige was a big part of that as well. She won the 2 mile event in 12:16. She qualified for states in the event and broke the 37 year old school record (12:31). She was also part of the winning 4x400 relay team that finished with a states
qualifying time of 4:32.2.
 
Wareham Girls Softball - The varsity team dropped to 0-7 on the season after an 11-6 loss to Seekonk and a 6-5 loss to Bourne. Breanna had 2 hits in the Seekonk game. Raelyn got tagged with both losses on the mound.
 
Upper Cape Girls Softball - Improving upon their no-hitter earlier in the season, the Lady Rams beat South Shore 18-0 in a five inning PERFECT GAME! They are now 6-1 on the season.
 
BOSTON BRUINS
 
I don't write a lot about the Bruins, I know. But with the playoffs starting I thought I'd make note that the Bruins finished as the best team in the NHL. This finish brings them the President's Cup and makes me wonder...so what?
 
Okay, now I'm not opposed to them being the best team in the league heading into the Quest for the Cup, but the press over them beating the Sabres and sealing the President's Cup was completely ridiculous.
 
Personally, as long as a team qualifies for the playoffs, do you really care where they end up? Any team can win from whatever seed they start out as. Winning the President's Cup doesn't mean you will win the Stanley Cup. And being the best regular season team means nothing if you aren't the best team after the playoffs are over.
 
And while it is only the first game of the series, the Bruins losing 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night does not exactly inspire confidence.
 
Heading into the game, I was listening to the sports guy on the radio station I have on in the car. He was voicing the opinion I've heard from others that the Bruins facing the Red Wings is not a typical one vs. 8 seed kind of matchup.
 
 
COLLEGE BASKETBALL
 
Tennessee Lady Vols - Meighan Simmons is the only graduating senior for the women's basketball team this year. She looks back on her four years in Knoxville here: http://www.utsports.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/041114aac.html
 
 
She finished her week being drafted in the WNBA's third round by the New York Liberty.
 
 
 
 
Auburn - Though he can't go out and recruit until late August, that isn't stopping Bruce Pearl from talking about his new job coaching the Tigers. You can read what he has to say here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-basketball/news/20140416/bruce-pearl-auburn-show-cause-recruiting/index.html
  
Boston College - The Eagles finally got some good news when Olivier Hanlan, the men's basketball team's best player announced he would be returning to school for his junior year. There had been talk of him entering the NBA draft.
 
He met with new coach Jim Christian and made the decision to come back to school. For me, I think he made the right decision. He's the team's best player but I don't see him making a big impact on the NBA level just yet. I know if you stay and become a four year player in college, you are seen as having something wrong with you in this day and age. But I think that is pure poppycock. Some players might just benefit from a full college experience and have matured enough that you don't have to worry about a team babysitting him in the NBA.
 
SEC Men's basketball coaching changes - With the news that Cuonzo Martin leaving Tennessee for California and Frank Haith leaving Missouri for Tulsa, the power conference that is the SEC has lost four black coaches to programs with far less basketball prestige. Why is that? Check out this article from Yahoo! Sports for one writer's take on things: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/frank-haith-merely-the-latest-african-american-coach-to-leave-sec-for-lesser-job-060826346.html
 
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
 
Minnesota State, Mankato - The case of former Minnesota State, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner took another weird turn when an arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully fired and the coach returned to the school as their football coach. You can read the whole story here: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ex-minnesota-state-mankato-coach-returning-job-201558492--spt.html
 
But that wasn't the end of the story as players boycotted the first practice with Hoffner saying they wanted to keep the interim coach Aaron Keen as the head coach. You can read more about that and the resolution here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/255662001.html
 
Alabama - Stewart Mandel of SI.com had a interesting read on how Nick Saban is "starting over" with Alabama after the way last season ended for the team: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140417/alabama-crimson-tide-nick-saban-spring-practice/index.html
 
By the way, Twitter helped rake NCAA president Mark Emmert over the coals this week. It seems he was a guest on the Mike & Mike radio show when they took questions via Twitter with the #AskEmmert hashtag.
 
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
TV - The network shows are heading into their season finales with the CBS comedies Mom (already renewed) and The Crazy Ones (fate yet unknown) ending this past week.
 
BBC America started the second season of their critical and cult hit Orphan Black last night.
 
Still nothing could top last Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones which featured the most well deserved and well earned death in cinematic history.
 
Movies - You can check out the final trailer for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie below.
 
 
I saw the movie Frozen last week and found it to be pretty enjoyable. Even funnier was the Honest Trailer for the movie.
 
 
Books - I finished reading the Rob Thomas / Jennifer Graham mystery novel Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line before I got sick this week. It is set right after the events of the Veronica Mars movie and with the series/movie creator Rob Thomas involved with the writing, the book did have the right feel to it. The only flaw I saw in the book was the continued insanity of the fully grown adult title character to use a gun, or learn basic self defense tactics.
 
 
Music - Did anyone take part in Record Store Day yesterday? I usually try to go to the event which celebrates independent record shops with exclusive vinyl releases from artists both big and small. You can check out what was offered to fans yesterday via http://www.recordstoreday.com
 
I didn't pick up any of the vinyl releases, but I got three new CDs with the help of the special Buy 2 Get 1 sale at the Newbury Comics location closest to me.
 
I picked up the debut solo album from former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon called Shine. I grabbed a disc from last year called All Hell Breaks Loose from the band Black Star Riders (the remaining guys from Thin Lizzy). And finally, Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers had a solo album out last year called The Royal Sessions. It celebrates the songs and musicians of Memphis.
 
 
 
I also picked up (via online purchase) the 2013 self-titled debut from the rock trio The Winery Dogs. I had heard three songs when the album was originally released but hadn't yet gotten around to purchasing the CD. Now I have and hopefully there will be a review coming soon.
 
 
 
Comic Conventions - If anyone is in the Washington, D.C. area and you are looking for a comic convention to check out, why not try Awesome Con. My buddy Kayode has a preview piece about the second year of the show here: http://www.pop-topia.com/bigger-better-awesome-con-returning-washington-dc/
 
 
 
 
 
NASCAR Update And Other Fast Stuff 4-20-14
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Richmond Darlington Fender Joby Ogwyn Jamie Barrow Lance Armstrong

                        

Happy Easter and welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. Just imagine being able to handle a bird as majestic and powerful as an eagle like this young Mongolian boy is. Right now he's being trained to hunt with the eagle. Puts your falcon to shame. If that eagle is anything like my sisters macaw, I'll pass. Bugger pulls my barrettes out of my hair or tries to pull my earrings out every time it sees me. He makes me his personal jungle gym. 

Not a whole lot of news from NASCAR this week. Swann Racing laid off employees this week. Seems they can't get sponsorship so Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman are out of rides. Supposedly Whitt could have a ride at BK Racing. I'm betting Ryan Truex gets the boot. Not sure if Swann is keeping Kligerman or folding completely. Last I read they don't have the money to go to Richmond coming up on the 26th. I guess every thing is in the air. Sad. Another low budget team goes down. 

I told you last week that Haas got his green light F1 ownership and speculation has started for who gets the seat. Haas assured every one that no way could any of his drivers go from a NASCAR race to an F1 race every weekend. Just no physically possible. Pretty much I think one look at both schedules and we could all figure that out. That's why doing the double (Indy 500 & Coca Cola 500 ) is so special and only a few drivers have done it. I'm sure there are drivers handing in their business cards as we speak. He'll have choices.

                          

Mr Joby Ogwyn is set to jump off Mt Everst LIVE on May 11th on Discovery Channel....Weather permitting of course. May is that time of year that mountain climbers go to climb Everest. They have one month to do it. I'm wondering how Discovery Channel is going to finagle that one? Literally hundreds of climbers, guides and Sherpa's fight and jockey for position on that trail to the top. Joby plans to climb to the top, jump off that summit and fly down to base camp more than 10,000 ft  down @ speeds of 150 mph. Still wondering if it will be the same trail as every one else or if some how Discovery Channel paid for that day some how. Any way, look for it. Reality TV at it's finest.

                        

I want those goggles. This young man is Jamie Barrow. He's 21 years old and holding the future of extreme sports. At least that's what Adam Contoret of Dreamscience Propulsion based in the UK thinks. He designed this battery powered hand held electric jet engine. Jamie took it out on a frozen lake with his snowboard and did runs with it. His best speed was a little over 80 Kilometers Per Hour. Don't know how close that is to 80 mph but I bet it's fast. Adam says that with some tweaking he bets this device will be used by extreme sports enthusiasts for example if they needed power to wind surf and there was no wind that day. Some types of this engine is already being used in paragliders. So there you have it. All you Gabbers on the verge of a mid life crisis can fore go the little red sports car and get one of these. I want to see how it does with a skate board......down hill.....  Yeah buddy.

                       

This month marks Fender Stratocaster's 60th birthday. Not bad for a guitar born in a small workshop in Fullerton, CA. I bought my son a cherry red one back when he was in high school. Cue Jimi Hendrix and his version of The Star Spangled Banner, please.

RICHMOND PREVIEW

So no race this weekend. The drivers need time with their families just like us. Sure does make for a really boring weekend sports wise for me. Love my racing.

Last year at this time, Harvick came from 7th place on the restart of the GWC to take the win. He won the race that Kenseth led the most laps in with 140. Sux to lead that many and have a caution come out at the end and rip the W from you but that's exactly what happened. I'm betting it will happen again on Saturday too. It's been a crazy season so far. New rules have left the crew chief's with way more options in their set ups and they are taking those options to the edge with catastrophic results in the tire malfunction direction. They best get that figured out.

Richmond is a D shaped track that is a .75 mile lap. That's 400 laps of tight quarters and short tempers that will rule the day or I mean night. So the D shape says hitting that sweet spot where the car is good enough the whole way around the track will be tough on the crew chief to figure out. And the tempers will flair up on the track in the mean time.

So out of the last 4 races there, 2 in spring and 2 in the fall of the last 2 years we have a hand full of drivers that do well here. Kenseth with an average finish of 7.25 is the highest on that list. Top 10 for sure. Stewart, Edwards, Bowyer, Dale Jr, Harvick, Newman, Gordon and Hamlin would be your others on that list. 

Hamlin was really good here in the past but I chose the last 4 races because they're the ones in the Gen 6 car. He's led 202 laps in those 4 races though but no W. Top 10.

Harvick only led 18 laps at this track but has a W, 1 top 5 and 2 top 10's. He's been fast but he's blown 2 motors and burned up a hub. Can he keep up the momentum after his win at Darlington? Maybe.

Stewart has a 8.37 average finish in 4 races. 2 top 5's & 2 top 10's. I think he's making a come back. Info from team mates Harvick & Ku Bu can only help.

Ku Bu finished 9th here last spring. He's not so good with the temper thing but he's good at short tracks.

Bowyer led 113 laps here in the spring race. Damn late race restarts. He did come in 2nd. Lucks not so good this year.Only has 2 top 10's so far. Really needs cautions to fall his way and to stay out of the wall.

Newman ended in 5th last year and I expect another top 10 out of him.

Edwards should be top 10 too.

Biffle and Stenhouse...top 15

Gordon used to own this track. I'll say top 10

Keselowski leads laps but has issues and falls back. Last year he was 30th minus 8 laps. Had a right front go down and he hit the wall on lap 157. Never recovered. I'll say top 20.

Logano was 3rd last year. I give him a top 10. He's had some solid runs so far this year.

Dale Jr gets a top 10. He's focused and ready this year for that championship. 

Johnson...not one of his better tracks. Top 15.

Menard has been struggling but showing flashes of what could be. Top 10.

Ky Bu is either brilliant or epic failure here. He's got 1 W. Top 15.

Rookie to look out for would be Larson. Kids a quick learner and I would not rule out a top 10. Dillon would be the other to look out for and I bet a top 15. 

Nemechek has been driving the #66 for MWR Racing and I'm wondering when Mikie is going to pull the plug. They may be using that car as experimental but he should be doing way way better than 35th or worse every week. I'm hoping they borrow Hornish from Gibbs Racing. I need a cheap driver that's good to pick up in my NASCAR Live salary cap league. He would be awesome. One can only hope. Reality is more like they might pick up Kligerman if Swann Racing lets him go. 

The entry list doesn't come out till Monday or Tuesday so I have to wait and see how my line up will change if at all. Right now it's Kenseth $28.25 - Stewart 423.25 - Keselowski $25.75 - Allmendinger $17.25 - Sorenson $5.00 and that adds up to $99.50. My salary cap is too tight. Lets hope I hit pay dirt on Saturday.

Still trying to cut back on the sugar and up my water intake. I walk around with a cup of ice water all the time. It's helping. What's not helping is they had a candyfest at work. I avoided the back break room like the plague but damn it if some body didn't track me down and hand me a box of marshmallow peeps. They just knew I'd want them. I smiled and thanked him. Somebody else gave me a dyed Easter egg. with my name on it. Haven't decided if I'm sacrificing the peeps on the grill or slicing the cello open to let them get stale. Choices choices choices. So how do you like your peeps?

Have a blessed Easter. Hope everyone enjoys their dinner & family time or whatever the tradition is in your life. Have a good one. Have a safe one. Just make sure you have one.

And I'm outta here.....

 

 

 

 

Bad Time for Bad Boys?
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Lucic Seabrook Quenneville

 

First of all, Happy Easter to everyone. For my part it involves a midnight church service that gets over sometime before 2, followed by a literal banquet in the middle of the night. Greek tradition. My family never did it, but some in my area do and my son and I got invited. What can I do, say no? A lot of the folks actually adhere to the fasting practices (my family never did, at least not all the way) which involve no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, olive oil or several other things... for over a month and a half. Each year it's a chance for me to find a nice clam, vegetarian (and MetRx bar) diet, not a bad idea. Except for the cost of those clams and shrimp. Each year I seem to mess it up. Oh well.

Anyhoooo, Love Thy Neighbor. Some in the NHL seem to be lacking the right spirit. And it's costing them, at least while I've been watching.

I haven't been able to keep up with the entire slate of games, but a couple of things occurred quite recently that have promoted the notion that it might be a good idea to get the spirit even during a hockey game.

The other night the 'gentlemanly' Black Hawks had such an incident as their stately coach Joel Quenneville decided to grab something personal (attached to him at least) to illustrate his opinion of on-ice happenings between his current and former teams. It was widely noticed as intended, it cost him money, and his team blew a lead in a game they had dominated and lost in OT to the Blues, who didn't look their equals most of the time. Hmmm.

Bear in mind, I have memory of those gentlemanly Black Hawks from the days long before they decided for some reason they were the 'Blackhawks', a change in nomenclature that I (and doubtless their namesake the old chief) choose to ignore. I mean I have memory of them from the Bobby Hull days. He was a gentleman. Nobody else was. Today Toews, Kane and Hossa may be the very essence of good clean play (well, most of the time), but few others are. They carry their share of hit men. Not fighters. Hit men. Straight out of the 'no-fighting' Euro model.

One of them struck today. This time, despite numerous penalties (one to Kane undeserved, a few to Keith well-earned), the Black Hawks had managed to climb out of a 2-0 hole and grab a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period. It all looked fine though they kept taking penalties. Then with minutes remaining and their lead seemingly safe, Seabrook elected to ram an already-reeling Blues captain David Backes (who had already lost the puck) in the head with his shoulder, a clear head shot that, to compound matters, also powered his head into the glass. Boarding? Charging? General principles? All of the above? Take your pick. Backes, half out of it and with a dislocated nose, left the ice. At first nothing was called. Apparently New York intervened and off Seabrook went with a 5-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct, meaning he spent the rest of the game in the locker room. Just when you need your defensemen. Finally, with 6 seconds and change on the clock, St. Louis scored the tying goal with a 6-on-4 and goalie Ryan Miller on the bench for the extra skater. To the point of Seabrook's brutal shot, the Blues were the ones who seemed hexed, a couple of shots being inadvertently deflected past Miller to put them behind. Then in OT, perhaps appropriately following a Toews high-stick on Sobotka, the Blues won their second overtime game to take a 2-0 lead in a series they could have as easily been trailing 2-0.

Must be Easter season. Dirty play went unrewarded. The bad guys actually lost.

And speaking of the syndrome, if it is one, few think of Boston's powerful Bruins as cheap-shot artists. Hitters, yes, fighters, yes, but not cheap-shotters. Milan Lucic put that halo in the circular file in game 1, a dead-even affair with the Red Wings, by popping Danny DeKeyser in the kaisers with his stick as he skated away. Hard. In this age of surveillance cameras it doesn't work real well, and the league fined him. More importantly, though not directly as a result of the act, underdog Detroit took a 1-0 series lead with a 1-0 win, the goal coming with less than 4 minutes to play.

Was Lucic a karma killer? I wonder. It is a little hard to root for teams that go around sticking players in the noogies, and it wasn't the first time Lucic has been filmed (or taped, or disked, or whatever you say these days) doing it. The last thing I want is for Boston to get bounced in the first round, but I must admit this stuff has me looking at another angle. Will this be the year the ill-behaved get punished? Not the hard-hitters, the ill-behaved. The head hunters. The crotch hackers. The ankle whackers. The rest of the playoffs will tell, I guess.

Maybe it's the season. It could happen.

Sounds too good to be true, but in case it is... Repent, thou Bruins!

Chicago? I could care less. How unneighborly of me.

Is today Saturday?! NBA / NHL Playoffs & Other stuff
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NHL NBA playoffs

Well, friends, it must have been a long week because that pillow felt awfully good last night!  I guess we all need to pull the covers over our heads sometimes!  And with that, a Happy Easter weekend to you!  (Also Happy Passover...my personal philosophy is to celebrate all religious holidays - not only do you get more goodies, it can't hurt to cover all the bases with the Almighty!)

This weekend the Easter Bunny brings us the opening of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.  For those of you who may recall previous rants on NBA basketball, you might be amused to see me writing about this particular topic, but since the Wiz are in for the first time in 6 years, I figured why not give it a little coverage.  All the excitement has to be in the West where the quality of the basketball is high and the talent pool is deep (yeah, and it's cold, too ;)  Even so, we have to believe that the opening series in both the East & the West lean heavily towards the favorites.  To start with today, we have Indiana - Atlanta, OKC - Memphis, Toronto - Brooklyn and LAC - Golden State.   I like the favorites in all of today's openers, after all, it is tough for underdogs to win on the road in the NBA, but if there is one series that could do the other way, it might be the underachieving (until now), Nets.  

Tomorrow games include Miami - Charlotte, Chicago - Washington, San Antonio-Dallas and Houston - Portland.  Out of these series, I will be hoping the Wizards can start to show some promise as a team on the rise but history for success here in DC is not on their side.  The one series I am interested in is Houston & Portland.  Can Dwight Howard re-capture his talent level?  If so, it might make for an interesting round 2.

The NHL playoffs are underway and as usual with the NHL, nothing can stay the same for too long.  We have a new playoff format which is much more division oriented and one that does not "re-seed" after the first round.  Thus, the reward for upsetting a top seed is much greater than previous years.  If by some miracle Columbus beat the Penguins, instead of getting the Bruins in Round 2, they would get the 2-3 winner in the Metro conference.  A very interesting new approach that looks a bit like Original 6 playoff days by Division...whatever the case, I have certainly enjoyed the early hockey.  If you missed the end of the Avs game the other night - you should check that out.  A great hustle play prevented an empty net goal and then they came back tied it up & won in OT!  Great stuff!

Have a great weekend and again, Happy Easter!

Mocking a Draft... 2014
Category: FEATURED

                    

    Well folks, it’s that time of year once again. The baseball season is underway, the NBA and NHL have their playoffs in full swing… and yet, all we want to talk about is FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL! On May 8th, the futures of NFL franchises across the country will be decided as the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off. Every self-professed expert and their mother have thrown their mock drafts out there… so I figured it was about time to throw mine out there as well.

   The draft can be a funny thing. You go in looking at players who were absolute studs in college, thinking there is no way they’ll fall flat on their faces in the NFL. Look at the beast of a linebacker that came out of Alabama in 2010, Rolando McLain. A lot of people thought the Raiders made a solid pick at the time… now he’s out of the league. In that same draft, another linebacker NaVorro Bowman out of Penn State lasted into the third round… and he’s the Pro Bowler. The point is, it’s all conjecture at this point… you THINK you know something and how a guy would fit somewhere, and you don’t really know. Hell, think the 49ers wouldn’t love a mulligan on the 2005 draft, where they got Alex Smith #1 overall instead of Aaron Rodgers? No doubt about it.

   It’s kind of like a guessing game for grownups… so here goes my attempt at mocking the draft. The first pick will be who I think they’ll actually draft… the second pick will be who I would draft if I were running all 32 NFL franchises.

 

  1. Houston Texans- DE Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina.

My pick: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M.

  The Texans have a few needs, mainly at QB, RB, OL, S. For the most part, it is considered outlandish to pick either a safety or running back this high in a draft, especially with the expendable nature of running backs in the league today. The question then becomes this: Do you draft for need, or take the best player on the board? This is a deep draft for quarterbacks, and the team just hired a “QB guru” in Bill O’Brien from Penn State. In this spot, the Texans grab the freak of nature that is Clowney and pair him with J.J. Watt on the outside, giving the defense two bookend guys who can harass opposing quarterbacks.

   If I’m running the show in Houston, I grab the local kid, the seat filler, the guy that I think is a future league MVP in Johnny Manziel. For me, the guy just has the “it” factor. The attitude he brings with him would have been an issue in the NFL of yesteryear… but I think his “swagger” as the kids call it helps him fit right into today’s NFL locker room.

 

  1. St. Louis Rams- OT Greg Robinson, Auburn.

My pick: Same.

   The Rams needs include OL, WR, S, CB, and some would say QB. I would be amongst those who say quarterback is a question mark, with Sam Bradford struggling thus far in his NFL career. You also have to look at the system they use, which is Jeff Fisher’s offense. Fisher loves to “pound the rock”, which apparently didn’t rub off on his protégé Jim Schwartz… so they would love to get ahold of a big, road grader like Robinson. If they can’t trade down, the Rams take Robinson here.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars- QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida.

My pick: DE Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina.

   You name it, the Jags need it! They made a few nice additions in free agency, but this is a team in need of a boatload of talent if they hope to do any more winning. Bortles really burst onto the scene this year, leading UCF to a win over Penn State, and eventually a win over favored Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. He’s the 6’5” prototype bodied type of quarterback that teams dream about. The cons: he played at a small school and operated mostly out of the shotgun at UCF, and struggled against some top tier competition (Ohio State in 2012, South Carolina in 2013). He has a lot of upside, and is worth the risk of a top ten pick.

   If Clowney is available here, the Jags will pounce on him. Widely considered the top talent of the draft, he won’t make it past #3, if he even makes it past #1 and 2.

  1. Cleveland Browns- WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson.

My pick: QB Blake Bortles, UCF.

   The Browns have a good sized list of needs on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense, aside from some depth, is fairly stout. Their needs include QB, RB, OL, WR. If Watkins falls to four, they could easily make that pick and pair him with Josh Gordon, giving the team’s QB the best set of options a Browns QB has had in a long, long time… whomever that ends up being.

   If Bortles is there at four, the Browns take him. If 1-3 pass on Manziel, the Browns should take him and thank the folks in the front offices of Houston, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, because they’ve finally broken the QB curse. If I’m Cleveland and I want my quarterback of the future out of this crop, I get him now while I have my pick of the litter. Bortles, as discussed earlier, has his flaws, but he’s got a ton of upside and should be a solid NFL QB.

  1. Oakland Raiders- OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo.

My pick: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson.

   Mack is the second best pass rushing prospect in the draft behind Clowney, and should help the Raiders get over the loss of Lamarr Houston to the Bears. Mack may end up being an upgrade over Houston, as he is a great instinctive player who is all over the field. If Clowney’s character and work ethic issues end up derailing his career, Mack may end up being the guy we talk about as the best defensive player to come out of the 2014 draft a few years down the line.

   The Raiders drafting a receiver… nearly as cliché as the Lions doing so. But, Watkins is a massive talent, and if the Raiders fall in love with one thing, it’s a receiver with speed. Watkins has that, and if he’s on the board, the Raiders are compelled to take him.

  1. Atlanta Falcons- OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M.

My pick: Same.

    The Falcons needs include DL, OL, TE. If Mack is on the board, they’ll be tempted; but protecting a guy they have over $100 million invested in with Matt Ryan wins out here.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA.

My pick: OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo.

   The Bucs have needs, including DL, TE, OL, WR, and CB… and getting a top tier pass rusher here would be their idea of heaven. The stock on Barr seems to be dropping of late, but he’s an athletic, versatile player who would fit Lovie Smith’s scheme well. If Mack were there, the Bucs may very well think it is Christmas.

  1. Minnesota Vikings- QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M.

My pick: LB CJ Mosley, Alabama.  

    In my draft, Manziel is already off the board… here, it is not the case. The Vikings get a guy who, in my opinion, is a new incarnation of Minnesota legend Fran Tarkenton by drafting Johnny Football, and the memories of Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassell from last season begin to fade far, far away from memory. If the Vikings end up with Manziel, they will win the NFC North next season.  

   The Vikings have a big need at quarterback, but they also have a big hole at linebacker with Chad Greenway getting older, slower, and more expensive by the day. Mosley fills that need, and the Vikings gamble on a different QB later in the draft; a McCarron, Murray or Mettenberger.  

  1. Buffalo Bills- OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan.

My pick: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA.

    The Bills made their choice last year to go after a quarterback, and go their QB of the future in E.J. Manuel in what some (especially me) would call a questionable move. That said, you have to protect that investment, and Lewan fits the bill.

   If a pass rusher like Barr is still available, the Bills will snap him up.

  1. Detroit Lions- CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State.

My pick: Same.

    The Lions have a long list of needs, including CB, S, WR, OL, DE, but getting Gilbert here gives them the best cover corner available in the draft. He’s got good size, so he matches up well with bigger receivers, and is a play maker in the secondary. The downside is his abilities helping on the run and making tackles, which is lacking. Mike Evans of A&M is another possibility here, as is TE Eric Ebron of North Carolina… but if the Lions use another top ten pick on an offensive player, I will just lose my freaking mind! On the defensive side of the ball, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama is another possibility, but I think Gilbert is the best call for the Lions here.

  1. Tennessee Titans- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama.

My pick: Same.

    Clinton-Dix, despite his ridiculous “first name”, is no laughing matter on the field. The Titans needs include S, DL, QB, and with most of the big pass rushers off the board and the QB talent left not exactly blowing current starter Jake Locker out of the water at this point, Clinton-Dix gives the Titans the most likely contributor from day one.

  1. New York Giants- LB CJ Mosley, Alabama.

My pick: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan.

    The Giants have some pretty big holes to fill on both sides of the ball, so there is no pick that is outside the imagination. They have needs at LB, CB, OL, and WR. If Mosley is there, he gives the Giants a solid presence inside reminiscent of the days Harry Carson roamed the middle of the field in New Jersey.

     I say the Giants take Lewan in order to protect Eli Manning and give this team a shot at winning the always unpredictable NFC East. They could easily go for Eric Ebron or Mike Evans as well here, or one of the two first-round quality corners left like Dennard or Roby.

  1. St.Louis Rams- WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M.

  My pick: Same.

    The Rams grabbed some protection for Bradford already in this round, and they’re picking again. This time, they’ll get Bradford a big target outside in Evans. FS Calvin Pryor of Louisville is another possibility here, but I think Evans is too big of a talent for the Rams to pass up on here.

  1. Chicago Bears- DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State.

My pick: DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame.

   Either way, you would think the Bears would seek to shore up the hole left by the departure of Henry Melton in the middle of their defense with their top overall pick. Some say Jernigan is the top candidate for that role, while I would say Nix is probably the best overall DT in this draft. I just think Nix is the better space-eater of the two, but Jernigan does have better pass rush ability.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State.

My pick: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State.

   The Steelers have a number of ways they can go here; CB, S, OL, and WR are all needs. The top three OT’s are all gone, and #15 overall is far too early for a guard, unless you’re looking at an elite level talent. Roby is a bit of a reach this high, as he compares to 3-4 other corners who should be available in the second round; but he does fill that need for them. For my money, Benjamin is the best pick here. He’s got the size and catch radius you really look for in an outside target, he should translate well to the NFL.

  1. Dallas Cowboys- S Calvin Pryor, Louisville.

My pick: Same.

   The Cowboys are in desperate need of back end help for their secondary, and Pryor is the best player available to fill that need. They could draft a defensive lineman or corner, but Pryor seems to fit the bill best.

  1. Baltimore Ravens- WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State.  

My pick: DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame.

    The Ravens have a few needs, OL and WR being two of them. This is a fairly deep draft at WR talent-wise, but with the top three guys now off the board, I think Baltimore waits on that position and grabs a solid defensive lineman to add to their stockpile in Tuitt. If Benjamin were there, he would give Flacco a big WR to target opposite Torrey and Steve Smith.

  1. New York Jets- TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina.

My pick: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State.

    The Jets have a number of needs, not the least of which is at corner. They could go with a WR, OL, CB, TE, or even another DL, but I like them to target the defensive side of the ball this year early in the draft with Roby. Ebron gives young QB Geno Smith a safety valve while they continue to search for the answer at WR that free-agent signing Eric Decker might just help to shore up.

  1. Miami Dolphins- OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame.

My pick: Same.

    With the departure of half their offensive line from last year (and it wasn’t all that effective to begin with) mid-season due to the bullying scandal, the Dolphins are desperate to shore up the line. Signing Branden Albert was a step in the right direction, while they did overpay, but they still need to get protection for Ryan Tannehill. Martin is the best fit at this point of the draft.

  1. Arizona Cardinals- QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville.

My pick: Same.

    Bridgewater at #20 overall would have sounded a bit crazy a few months back, but his stock has gone down, and the Cardinals have needed a quarterback since Kurt Warner walked out the door. Carson Palmer played admirably last year, but he’s at the end of the line as an NFL starter, maybe a year or two ahead of him. This gives Bridgewater a year or so to learn from Palmer and develop.

  1. Green Bay Packers- OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State.

My pick: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina.

     The Packers have needs at TE, S, and LB, and Shazier certainly helps fill that void if Ebron is already off the board. If Ebron falls here, I’m sure the Packers would shit a brick of joy after the likely loss of Jermichael Finley.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles- WR Marquise Lee, U$C

My pick: Same.

    The Eagles have a few needs on the defensive side of the ball, but the corners, safeties, and linebackers that would make sense in the first round are all but taken. Marquise Lee gives the Eagles a playmaking threat to replace DeSean Jackson.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs- DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame.

My pick: OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State.

    Either way you look at it, the Chiefs are looking to add to their pass rush. They could use a WR, but there are better options available in the second round than any guy you can safely take here.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State.

My pick: Same.

    The Bengals needs include corner, safety, and linebacker, and Dennard is the best player still available that fills a need for this playoff-ready team. Some might say it’s time to look at a new quarterback in Cincy… but I say give the ginger another year to figure out that whole playoff thing.

  1. San Diego Chargers- DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame.

My pick: DT Tommy Jernigan, Florida State.

    The Chargers got to the playoffs last year, and the defense was a strength once again. That said, they could use a little beef in the middle, and that’s where Nix or Jernigan come in.

  1. Cleveland Browns- OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State.

My pick: RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State.

    The Browns snagged WR Sammy Watkins earlier in the “who they’ll probably pick” version of this draft, so in this version I’ll go with Jackson, the best guard in the draft to keep whomever the quarterback is upright to throw to Watkins/Gordon.

   In my version, I went with Blake Bortles, so here I’ll go with a workhorse running back who fits the AFC North mentality well in Carlos Hyde.

  1. New Orleans Saints- CB Jason Verrett, Texas Christian University.

My pick: OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State.

   The Saints have a few needs, and none are extreme, so they can really afford to go with the best player available here. Verrett fills a need at corner, and gives the Saints D the kind of edge they’ve been missing… but he may be a bit of a reach in the first round. For my draft, I’ll go with Jackson, who replaces the departed Carl Nicks as a starting guard.

  1. Carolina Panthers- WR Davante Adams, Fresno State.

My pick: WR Donte Moncrief, Mississippi.

    These two compare fairly evenly, with Moncrief having an advantage in height and speed, but Adams gives you more consistency. Cam Newton needs a new #1-4 target at WR, so either way grabbing one here is almost a must for the Panthers.

  1. New England Patriots- DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota.

My pick: Same.

   Hageman seems to fit that Patriots mold, but he is a bit of a boom or bust type of prospect. He’s been compared to former Patriot Richard Seymour in his abilities.

  1. San Francisco 49ers- OLB/DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State.

My pick: Same.

    Lawrence is a hybrid DE/OLB (depending on scheme) that can give the 49ers the insurance they need in case Aldon Smith’s stupidity finally gets the best of him.  Kony Ealy may be another option here, but I look for the 49ers to go for a pass rusher with all four top corners off the board.

  1. Denver Broncos- DE Kony Ealy, Missouri.

My pick: DE Ed Stinson, Alabama.

   The Broncos two biggest needs, OL and CB, are both far past their limits in terms of being a reach here… Ealy and Stinson provide additional depth along the defensive line.

  1. Seattle Seahawks- WR Donte Moncrief, Mississippi.

My pick: WR Jarvis Landry, Louisiana State.

   The Seahawks are a rare, run-first offense, but even they need to air it out from time to time to keep teams honest. With the loss of Golden Tate, they are in need of a new target for Russell Wilson.

 

    Well, there you have it folks. Thanks for checking out my mock draft, and be sure to let me know what you think about it in the comment section below! Thanks as always for reading.

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