Tagged with "news"
Sports Friday with Hal: The NFL is back!
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes Rolling Stones

Football is back! Training camps are open! It’s a Fantastic Friday!!!

 

Had a busy football week as I’m getting into “all football all the time” and chomping at the bit for all the news coming out of the training camps. Hard Knocks on HBO features the Atlanta Falcons debuts on August 5th. The NFL Network is on all day long in the background to catch news on injuries, suspensions, etc.

 

NFL NOTES:

 

Dall-ass strikes again:
Curious situation going on in Dallas with the release of backup quarterback Kyle Orton. It seems that there was some friction between him and the team leading to his release. Most (like I did as well) just assumed he was retiring. Now the Cowboys bombastic owner Jerry Jones has indicated that the team had fined Orton for not attending mini-camps and save about $3 million on the cap by releasing the former starter. Of course, that leaves Dallas with (gulp!) Brandon Weeden at quarterback. With that porous offensive line in Dallas, a strong backup to Tony Romo is a must. Not sure I would want Weeden warming up on the sidelines if it was my team.

 

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Running to glory:

Jamaal Charles worked a nifty extension out of the Chiefs this week. He is basically getting two-years and $18 million on his old deal. Whether he was going to hold out or not is up in the air, but there is no doubt he is one of the few running backs in the league with the power to hold out. Kansas City is a running team and they NEED Charles healthy and happy. Charles is not breaking the bank as he is getting a $4 million raise this year and his total deal goes to four-years for $28 million which is not a bad deal for the best offensive player on the team.

 

Just who is “elite” these days?

The next question is what to do with Alex Smith at quarterback. He wants “elite QB” money ($20 million per season) and the team is unlikely to negotiate near those numbers. Is he elite? Is he worth it? Was Joe Flacco worth it? How about Tony Romo? It will be interesting to see how that situation plays out over the next year. (FYI, in my opinion he is decidedly not elite and the Chiefs need to look for a young quarterback to replace Smith if he wants crazy money)

 

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Beast-less mode in Seattle?

Marshawn Lynch is apparently holding out of training camp in Seattle. Two years ago he signed a four-year $30 million contract. Last I checked, the Seahawks front office did not have a gun placed to his head. Upset that Jamaal Charles gets more money now? Fire your agent, Marshawn. The Seahawks gave Lynch money up front and long-term security. I really hope they do not give in and let him rack up the fines for not showing up.

 

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The Good Rice:

Former Seahawks and Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice retired at age 27 this week. He was cut from the ‘Hawks to clear cap space and came back. He missed games due to knee and concussion issues. Rice had a few good years but had many injury issues. It was a surprise since he was expected to provide depth in Seattle this year. Expect that he will be talked back into the league in the next year due to the thinness of the position in large around the league.

 

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The Bad Rice:

Seriously? Two games and one check? That’s the price of beating the shit out of a woman in today’s NFL? This was a brutal assault caught on hotel security tapes with Rice dragging his then fiance (now wife so she does not have to testify against him?) around unconscious...unconscious because he knocked her out. Two games. Will Smith took a banned diuretic in 2011 and got two games. Wow. Terrible call...Rice deserved a season to start with at minimum.

 

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Big happy birthday to our Thursday blogging superstar, Old Harry. He wrote about sharing a birthday with Mick Jagger. Reminded me of a funny story with my kids a few years back. There was a popular song “Moves Like Jagger” and of course my kids (both pre-teens at that time) are asking “Who is Jagger?” as there was another song (I don’t remember) that some teeny-bopper referenced Mick as well (I just remember explaining to my 8-year old daughter what it meant to “rinse with Jack (Daniels)” or some ridiculous partying song lyric…). So the old man decides to show them just how cool Jagger was with “Dancing in the Streets” with David Bowie and then “Start me Up” with the 1981 video and all its “fantastic” fashion choices. Suffice to say the kids’ jaws were hanging open staring at the screen.

 

Now I love the Stones and can pull anything out of their catalog for a listen--even enjoy a lot of the newer albums but Mick had some scary fashion choices back in the day.  Of course, just a few weeks ago my wife and I were talking about a Poison concert we had gone to and I fired up Poison’s “Nothin but a good time” and got that wonderful look I am sure I gave my parents when I was forced to sit and listen to “good music” be it old Hank Williams Sr. singles with my Dad pulling out the 45s or show tunes and classical with my mother playing DJ in my youth.

 

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OK, that’s all for now. Have a great weekend, all!

 
Sports Friday with Hal: Mad Money and Molly Wops
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes

Happy Friday!

 

Reports of the Clippers racist bigot owner David Sterling selling his team for $2 billion after an investment of $12.5 million in 1981.  Not too tough a penalty there for Sterling. The Los Angeles Dodgers went for $2.1 billion a few years back. Jimmy Haslam paid $1 billion for the Browns two years ago. So if the wretched Clippers franchise is worth $2 billion, what is the next NFL franchise for sale (or expansion team) worth?

 

If you look at Clippers and Dodgers both in L.A. and getting over $2 billion, the NFL must be going nuts to get a team in L.A. ASAP. What would the Dallas Cowboys go for today? San Francisco? The NY/NJ Giants? As valuable as an NBA or MLB franchise may be worth, their television contracts are insane compared to the other major sports franchises (see chart in link..graphic too large to post here)

(https://variety.com/2013/tv/news/sports-fans-to-spend-more-money-to-watch-favorite-teams-1200577215/)

 

The NFL is the biggest cash cow in sports right now.  Every week during the season the games are among the most watched by the target demographics for advertisers. One could argue the Fox network was kept afloat by wisely getting their NFL broadcast rights. When every cent seemed wrung out, the NFL started their own network, put player safety in jeopardy and played games each Thursday (three days off is not enough time for players to recover and play again) which they broadcast themselves. The games became valuable enough for CBS to buy in for $275 million to broadcast just eight games in 2014.

 

(Look at that freaking broadcast money in the NFL here: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2014/02/10/Media/NFL-CBS.aspx)

 

Most important to watch now is the NFL Sunday Ticket money that DirecTV has had a stranglehold on and expires this year. The NFL should make all their games available to all the fans and not just dish users. Yes, you can buy NFL Mobile and the Red Zone channel, but it is not even close to seeing every game on Sunday. Many fans do not even have the option of subscribing to DirecTV in their area.  

 

With that contract coming up, it would be surprising to not see Verizon or Comcast make a run at the Sunday Ticket package. Personally, I believe it is in the league’s best interest to keep those rights as part of NFL.com for mobile platforms and continue to build their own brand and sell the rights to the Sunday Ticket package to all the cable providers as a group so all fans have the right to purchase the package. The league needs to continue to build the value of the package like they did with Thursday Night Football and then sell it for even more.

 

At worst, the league needs to get the Sunday Ticket package on a major cable provider, whether Comcast, Time Warner, or Verizon. A billion per year is the starting price, but that should rise with time.  The Thursday Night deal will be back up for bid, and that price will likely go up as well. For CBS, getting a primetime NFL game is a huge win in competing for eyeballs and advertising dollars.

 

So for the NFL with all that money pouring in from television will have the Buffalo Bills up for sale soon and somehow be getting a team into Los Angeles. Mad money in the NFL. Mad amounts of cash.

 

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One last NFL Note too juicy to pass up: the Molly Wop incident.

 

Apparently, Lions receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s girlfriend was involved in a dispute with the mother of his child (all of six months old). She threatened to molly wop the mother-of-his-child.

 

UrbanDictionary.com, to “molly wop” means “[t]o reach waaay back with your pimp hand, damn near knocking oneself off balance to deliver a massive blow with an inside closed fist to the temple of your hoe or foe.”  (There are a few other definitions, but I am not listing them here since I am hoping the female in question is unable to perform a molly wop by some of the alternate definitions!)

 

Johnson’s girlfriend is also a Lions employee, as she is the “Manager of Partner Activation” (whatever the heck that is!--some kind of marketing position, I guess). So the team has top player and team employee in dispute with ex/mother-of-child.  Yet another reason for the league to give players LESS time off in the offseason and make the job a year round at team headquarters type position.

 

Johnson is usually is immune to bad press--and in comparison to Aaron Hernandez he is a saint--but this is almost silly.

 

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OK, that’s all I have. Have a great weekend, all!

 
Sports Friday with Hal: Memorial Day Weekend
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes NBA NBA Draft

Happy Friday!

 

Hope everyone is gearing up for a great holiday weekend. Memorial Day may seem to be a day off, a car dealership sales weekend, or just an excuse to grill meat, but it is a solemn holiday and probably the most poignant holiday on the calendar.  Be sure to take some time to reflect on our freedom and rights that so many sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for each and every day.

 

BIG ROUND BALLS:

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery for the third time in four years despite a less than 2% chance of getting the top pick. FIRE UP THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES.

 

My first thought was “Gotta make up for David Stern putting a gun to LeDouche’s head and moving him to Miami” “Gotta give Cleveland another #1 to make up for losing LeBron James”.  

 

So do teams win by being in a location welcoming to free agents (Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc), the best head coach/GM duo maybe ever (San Antonio), or lucking out in the lottery (Oklahoma City and Cleveland with LeBron). Of course, since LeBron checked out of Cleveland, the draft has hardly been kind to Cleveland. Add in teams like Minnesota (ten straight lotteries!) and Sacramento (seven straight lotteries!) and it can be a flawed system without a little luck.

 

This year it was Milwaukee and Philadelphia who engaged in one of the LEAST-engaging battles in NBA history for the most ping-pong balls.  Despite both of them blatantly throwing the season, neither was “rewarded” for “winning” with the most losses and chances for the #1 pick.

 

Of course, this led to much debate (as always happens) about changing the draft pick lottery system. Of course it is flawed, but then how would the league Commissioner be able to shuttle the best players to the team’s he has chosen worthy of succeeding?

 

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NFL NOTES:

 

The Patriots brought in former Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas for a workout this week.  Thomas is easy to root for having had torn his right ACL in both 2011 AND 2012 and came back strong last season. Thomas started slow (predictably) but by the end of the season he had some excellent games playing the slot cornerback position.  Last year (per ProFootballFocus.com) he only allowed two touchdowns in the last nine games after allowing four in his first five games.

 

Although New England has a very good slot cornerback in the much-maligned Kyle Arrington (he can’t play outside but he is fantastic inside), they resigned him at a premium price. If Thomas can provide quality play at ⅛ the price, he is a shoo-in to steal a roster spot. New England has to think about clearing cap space for Darrelle Revis long-term and Arrington could be a victim.

 

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Draft pick signings have gone from high drama to nothing exciting.  With the new CBA there just aren’t any issues anymore and players get slotted and signed quickly. For the league it is a huge win as teams do not suffer through long, drawn-out contentious signings with way too much money tied up in unproven players. For the players, it’s a huge win as they get the playbook and get practicing asap. For the fans, it’s less drama but a better product on the field.

 

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ProFootballFocus.com did their top 101 players (based on 2013) and it was a very interesting list. Not sure if its “premium content, but screw it, here’s the list:

1.  J.J. Watt

2.  Robert Quinn

3.  Peyton Manning

4.  Gerald McCoy

5.  Lavonte David

6.  Richard Sherman

7.  Evan Mathis

8.  Lesean McCoy

9.  Andrew Whitworth

10. Marshawn Lynch

11.  Jamaal Charles

12. Joe Thomas

13. Jimmy Graham

14. Robert Mathis

15. Trent Williams

16. Michael Bennett

17. Ndamukong Suh

18. Darrelle Revis

19. Calais Campbell

20. Earl Thomas

21. Justin Houston

22. Devin McCourty

23. Brent Grimes

24. Patrick Willis

25. Josh Sitton

26. Kyle D. Williams

27. Jurrell Casey

28. Kam Chancellor

29. Marcell Dareus

30. Dontari Poe

31. NaVorro Bowman

32. Brandon Marshall

33. Antonio Brown

34. Jason Peters

35. Calvin Johnson

36. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

37. Eric Berry

38. Adrian L. Peterson

39. Jordy Nelson

40. Cameron Jordan

41. Greg Hardy

42. Jordan Gross

43. Philip Rivers

44. Tyron Smith

45. Louis Vasquez

46. Cameron Wake

47. Anquan Boldin

48. Russell Wilson

49. Keenan Lewis

50. Terrance Knighton

51. Andre Johnson

52. Thomas Davis

53. DeMaryius Thomas

54. Joe Staley

55. Randy Starks

56. Brandon Mebane

57. Tamba Hali

58. Patrick Peterson

59. Karlos Dansby

60. Drew Brees

61. Donte Whitner

62. Stephen Tulloch

63. Keenan Allen

64. Chris Harris Jr.

65. Aldon Smith

66. Jason Hatcher

67. Larry Warford

68. Von Miller

69. Elvis Dumervil

70. Eddie Lacy

71. Nate Solder

72. Derrick O. Johnson

73. Alshon Jeffery

74. Josh Gordon

75. Joe Haden

76. DeMarco Murray

77. Brian Orakpo

78. Jason Kelce

79. Desmond Trufant

80. Luke Kuechly

81. Sheldon Richardson

82. Alex Mack

83. Michael D. Johnson

84. Tyrann Mathieu

85. Vontaze Burfict

86. Will Hill

87. John Sullivan

88. Trent Cole

89. DeSean Jackson

90. Tom Brady

91. Damon Harrison

92. T.Y. Hilton

93. Alterraun Verner

94. Cliff Avril

95. Troy Polamalu

96. Eric Weddle

97. A.J. Green

98. Phil Loadholt

99. Jake Long

100. T.J. Ward

101. Marques Colston

 

Very interesting, and it’s clear that PFF loves the big, fat linemen. J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn over Manning is a definite surprise. How many people have Tampa’s  DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David as top 5 players?  Cincinnati G/T Andrew Whitworth and Philadelphia tackle Evan Mathis as top 10 talents?  Not exactly the NFL.com top 100 players for sure.

 

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Ravens running back Ray Rice has skated and is now avoiding prosecution for knocking his fiancee/now wife unconscious and dragging her through the casino. Today (Friday) they are supposed to have a joint press conference to announce he went through a “diversion program” and the team is bending over backwards to slobber praise all over Rice. Hopefully the NFL manages to suspend the woman-beating scumbag for at least a few game checks.  It sends a bad message to let him get away with it after such a prominent display of aggression off-the-field.

 

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OK, that’s it for today! Have a great long weekend all!


 

Sports Friday with Hal: NFL (Because the NHL Doesn't Exist)
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes NHL Playoffs

Play that funky music right!

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

Hockey? Never heard of it.

NHL? What does that stand for?  

Bruins? Are you talking UCLA?

Stanley what?

 

I don’t know what this hockey thing is that everyone is talking about.  Quite odd. Anyway, time for football.

 

The final result is in for the Robert Griffin III trade between the St. Louis Rams and the Washington Redskins.  Like the famous Herschel Walker Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys trade in the 1980s this is as one-sided as it gets. For the Redskins they got a dynamic quarterback who had a horrible second season as he was rushed back from a knee injury and this year is a huge turning point in his career.

 

For the Rams, this is the final haul:

DT Michael Brockers

CB Janoris Jenkins

RB Isaiah Pead

G Rokevious Watkins

LB Alec Ogletree

WR Stedman Bailey

RB Zac Stacy

OT Greg Robinson

 

That is not just a haul, it is just plain highway robbery.  The Redskins traded up for RG3 (three first round picks and a second round pick) which St. Louis turned into eight players and five picked in the top fifty picks. While running back Isaiah Pead is the weak link of the deal, Zac Stacy looks like a steal in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.  It was a great deal for St. Louis even if they did nothing with the picks and just stayed put. The NFL Draft at the end of the day is about maximizing the picks and the Rams are back in the NFC West race with San Francisco and Seattle thanks to the Redskins.

 

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The best part of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement has been the elimination of the rookie holdouts (for the most part).  With cutting another two weeks off the rookie playbook learning and coaching time to have the NFL Draft on during primetime during sweeps week to increase revenue for NFL Network and the 4-Letter Network, holdouts take on more of a sense of urgency to get to work. It is nice to see that many first, second, third, etc round picks are already signing.  There really is not anything to negotiate, so these kids can get into the facility and get learning ASAP.

 

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Greg Little, Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Travis Benjamin, and Miles Austin.  What is missing? Cleveland star receiver Josh Gordon.  With the news leaked he is potentially up for a one year suspension (what an idiot!) Cleveland is back to “Droppy”, “Ordinary”, “No Speedy”, “Punt Returny”, and now they brought in “Injury-Proney”.  Somehow that does not do much to inspire the masses in Cleveland as they try to replace Gordon, aka the best receiver (ok, Detroit, maybe second best) in the NFL.

 

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The NFL Draft was also historic as it had the most special seventh round draft pick in defensive end Michael Sam who was drafted by Rams. Sam--as most all of the country now knows--is the first openly homosexual player to be drafted in the NFL.  For Sam, I said good for him for being comfortable enough with himself to come out to his teammates. Now can we just move on and get to football?

 

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Former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez is back in the news being indicted for killing two men prior to his current alleged murder incarceration.  While it may help keep him off the streets (which is good) if his high-priced legal team finds a technicality to exploit, it is no help for the Patriots salary cap.  Mike Florio indicates over at NBC Sports that had the Patriots made the league suspend Hernandez and did not cut him they could recoup the money.

 

I remember writing about it at the time somewhere, but I still agree with the Patriots decision cut him.  For a team to do the morally wrong thing to save money on the cap is so wrong. The Patriots made a statement about their organization’s moral code and actually put their money where their mouth was so to speak. The team could have kept him on the team suspended, but they did the right thing...they got rid of a mistake.

 

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Speaking of the Patriots, there was a brief period of time this week where social media blew up because there was a rumor Houston was looking to trade wide receiver Andre Johnson (or, more likely he was upset about being on a rebuilding team.  For Houston (and first year coach Bill O’Brien) they have no reason to trade Johnson. They added no one. he is cheap this year (under $7 million cap charge, and they have a chance to bounce right back and challenge the Colts.

 

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One last Patriots note: former receiver in 2006 Reche “Catch the Damn Ball in the AFC Championship and its New England beating the crap out of the Bears in the Super Bowl” Caldwell was arrested for the second time this year. This week was possession of a controlled substance (amazed he retained possession since he DROPPED THE DAMN BALL WHEN WIDE OPEN!) and earlier this year he was arrested for running an illegal gambling option (shocking since he was such a poor GAMBLE in 2006!).  Wow, lot of set-up for just releasing some pent-up rage that was almost a decade old.

 

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OK, that’s all for this week. Thanks as always for stopping by and have a super weekend!

 
Sports Friday with Hal: Mocking the NFL Draft
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes

Happy Friday!

 

By the time you read this, the first round of the NFL Draft is in the books and every mock draft by every “expert” is completely worthless.  In the interest of remaining worthless, I add my own mock draft here so everyone can see what picks end up where and how wrong (or right) I am. Like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, picking out of a hat usually has equal chance of being correct a poring over the data available for months on end.

 

This will go to press early on Thursday afternoon well before the start of the draft so I can have it up and ready to go well in advance. Have fun “mocking” my draft!

 

Round 1

Pick

1. Houston Texans

Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina

This is ALMOST a no-brainer. Clowney is the only prospect in the draft who has a #1 overall grade. To reach for another position of need (QB, WR, OL) seems like a big mistake.  I am sure Houston will entertain offers right up until the pick is made for the number one, but without an Andrew Luck caliber quarterback there are likely to be offers to entice Houston to move.

Clowney has the ability to step in week one opposite J.J. Watt and give Houston an outside pass rush to rival Seattle. That is too big an upgrade to pass up.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (PRIOR TRADE from Washington Redskins)

Khalil Mack, OLB Buffalo

St. Louis has a lot of needs and getting a gift like this #2 overall pick from Washington as part of the RGIII deal (I still think Washington comes out on top in the long run--I am sure they thought it would be a mid-twenties pick when they moved up) allows them to get an impact player for a defense that faces Seattle and San Francisco twice a year. A quarterback (I am not a believer in Sam Bradford) or Watkins is a “should” pick, but Mack will be the “safe” pick.

 

3. St. Louis Rams TRADE UP from the Jacksonville Jaguars

Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson

Back-to-back picks at two and three? Why the heck not? The Rams have the toughest division schedule in the NFL (Arizona, Seattle, and San Francisco), so they cannot afford to sit on their hands if they want to win. The Rams went wide receiver in the first round last year with Tavon Austin, so picking Clemson’s Sammy Watkins seems unlikely, even though he would be a fantastic pick here.  With two games against Seattle’s defense, the Rams need to stock up at wide receiver and get another explosive big-play receiver if they want to compete with the big boys.

 

4. Cleveland Browns

Greg Robinson, OT Auburn

Greg Robinson the giant tackle from Auburn is not the sexy pick here as Cleveland has two solid tackles with Joe Thomas (one of the best in the NFL) and the solid, underrated Mitchell Schwartz. However, the team needs help at guard to open holes for a terrible running game and keep the quarterback upright. Not the sexy pick they are looking for in Cleveland, but the best pick for the team. Robinson is a supreme talent who the Browns cannot pass up.

 

5. Oakland Raiders

Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M

Matthews is a future star at left tackle and the Raiders could not score consistently (or stop their opponents from scoring). They are rebuilding for the tenth straight year so this time maybe they do it right and build from the lines out. Oakland has to find a strategy and run with it, but with a solid offensive line they can do whatever they want.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons

Anthony Barr, OLB UCLA

Atlanta went from the NFC Championship Game to fighting for the number one overall pick in a hurry. Atlanta seems determined to get some pass rush but with Mack and Clowney off the board, they should think about trading down.  Instead, I think they make a stretch and grab the raw speed, strength and power of Barr.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans, WR Texas A&M

With an aging Vincent Jackson, this pick looks like the right move to get the next-gen model at wide receiver. Evans is a big receiver who goes up and gets the ball. Too good to let tumble past. Some boards have Evans over Watkins, but Tampa Bay should be fine waiting for their guy.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings

Darqueze Dennard, CB Michigan State

Blake Bortles? Teddy Bridgewater? Is it a mistake not grabbing a quarterback? Minnesota fans still have the horror of “Christian Ponder” fresh in their heads. Mike Zimmer is in charge and the question becomes Justin Gilbert or Dennard.  Dennard is physical and has great size. Press coverage ability and ready to start week one.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Odell Beckham Jr., WR LSU

There are a ton of wide receivers in this draft. Beckham is the best big play receiver in the draft averaging almost 20 yards per catch last season. The Bills grabbed Robert Woods last year in the second round at wide receiver, but investing in a quarterback in the first round last year (E.J. Manuel) they need to get him weapons.  Beckham would have been neck-and-neck with Tavon Austin last year, and Austin went #8 overall.  

 

10. Detroit Lions

Eric Ebron, TE North Carolina

The Ravens may be in contention to trade up for the multi-purpose tight end, but I see him rounding out the top ten in giving the Lions one more weapon to line up with Megatron.

 

11. New York Jets TRADE UP from the Tennessee Titans

Jimmie Ward, S Northern Illinois

Just like last year with an offense desperate for weapons the Jets add another defensive player, trading up for Ward who is a boom or bust guy. The Jets hit a home run with Sheldon Richardson last year but missed on cornerback Dee Milliner, and this is the last chance for head coach Rex Ryan to keep his job. The Jets will regret passing up on Marqise Lee or not moving up further to get Beckham.

 

12. New York Giants

Marqise Lee, WR USC

The Giants lost Hakeem Nicks and need a weapon for Eli Manning. This is the draft to get an impact wide receiver and the Giants are in a spot they could trade down and still get Lee. I do not see them taking the chance. Hard for them to pass on cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller, but Lee is a potential star.

 

13. Jacksonville Jaguars TRADE DOWN from the St. Louis Rams

Justin Gilbert, CB Oklahoma State

Jacksonville went with the offensive line last season, after the wasted picks of suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon in 2012 and the departed quarterback Blaine Gabbert in 2011. Luke Joeckel is a stud and will be a fixture at left tackle to build around. They could stay put and pick tackle Greg Robinson for a dynamic duo of tackles to build around--they should--but will not. I imagine they should explore trading down for additional picks. Gilbert should fit fine in the Jacksonville secondary--he may not have the size they really want, but at six-feet-one and 210 pounds he is big enough and plays even bigger.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys TRADE UP from the Chicago Bears

Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M

Jerry Jones takes over and moves the Cowboys up to get Manziel.  The first quarterback finally falls. Dallas needs a lot of help on defense, but Jones is running the show. ESPN explodes and Bristol, CT is a burning, gaping hole in the ground where the studio was as the network exec’s excitement of Johnny Football in Dallas sets off non-stop Manziel talk.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech

Pittsburgh is one of the best drafting teams in the NFL because they take what falls to them. Fuller is a steal at #15 overall as he belongs in top ten with his talent.

 

16. Chicago Bears TRADE DOWN from the Dallas Cowboys

Aaron Donald, DT Pittsburgh

An undersized but strong and super-talented defensive tackle who can get after the quarterback.  Another steal this late in the first down as the Bears have a great talent  land in their laps. Dallas will regret drafting Manziel rather than Donald who could step in and help week one.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens

C.J. Mosley, ILB Alabama

The Ravens missed Ray Lewis in the middle of the defense a lot last year. Mosley may not be a pass rusher, but he tracks the ball like a certain former Ravens linebacker and is smart and solid in his tackling. He has the speed to get to the ball and strength to bring down anyone. He can cover as well, but past injuries are all that drop him this low.

 

18. Tennessee Titans TRADE DOWN from the New York Jets

Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame

The Titans have the best defensive tackle no one knows in Jurrell Casey, a third round draft pick in 2011. Pairing Nix with Casey gives Tennessee the kind of defensive line that can take over a game. With the impressive Derrick Morgan already outside on the defensive line and bringing the heat on opposing quarterbacks, the strong Titans secondary will have less work to do in 2014 with Nix joining the defense.

 

19. Miami Dolphins

Taylor Lewin, OT Michigan

The Dolphins really need another playmaker on offense. That said, they cannot pass up the opportunity to address the biggest weakness in 2013 which was an offensive line that fell apart both in the locker room and on the field. Lewin is a top-15 pick in most mock drafts, but he falls to Miami in mine and they get a steal. I considered him at #12 and #16 and the Dolphins would be lucky to have him land here.

 

20. New Orleans Saints TRADE UP from the Arizona Cardinals

Dee Ford, DE Auburn

The Saints are never afraid to move up in the draft. With Ford available here the Saints get aggressive to get their guy.  They can use all the help they can get at defense, particularly the defensive line. Ford was a stand-out at the Senior Bowl and the Saints will not care about his size like some teams. Half his games in a dome means he will have that speedy carpet to propel him around tackles and into the opposing quarterbacks.

 

21. Green Bay Packers

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S Alabama

Green Bay needs a lot of help on defense and Clinton-Dix is too talented to pass up. The hard part is picking between him and Calvin Pryor of Louisville. Clinton-Dix is the bigger hitter so he gets the nod for the frozen tundra.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles

Calvin Pryor, S Louisville

Back-to-back safeties are off the board. The Eagles spent big to bring in former Oregon Duck safety Patrick Chung. He did not work out and is gone. Pryor is the player they thought they were getting with Chung and will be a great fit for a team desperate for help on defense.

 

23. New England Patriots TRADE UP from the Kansas City Chiefs

Blake Bortles, QB Central Florida

The Patriots read the draft board and get their quarterback for the future. Adding Bortles gives Bill Belichick the pocket quarterback with the great size and accurate arm he can slowly develop behind quarterback Tom Brady as the heir apparent. Bortles has been on mock drafts as high as #3 overall and as low as bottom of the second round. His offense he ran at Central Florida is a perfect fit with the New England short passing/quick decision offense.  This is too much of a match not to happen.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Timmy Jernigan, DT Florida State

The Bengals made their mark off their defense the past few years as they fought their way to the playoffs out of an insanely competitive AFC North. Jernigan is a beast to add to weakening interior of the Bengals defensive line to shore it up and get them back on track.

 

25. San Diego Chargers

Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota

The Chargers would be ecstatic to have Hageman land at #25 overall. He is loaded with potential to pair with last year’s first round pick Corey Liuget and give a big boost to the defensive line. I could see the Chargers going offensive line here as well with Zack Martin.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts)

Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville

The Browns get their quarterback at last.  Expect Bridgewater to walk into Cleveland and start week one.  

 

27. Arizona Cardinals TRADE DOWN from the New Orleans Saints

Zack Martin, T/G Notre Dame

Another team desperate for offensive line help, Arizona makes a smart move down the draft board. Martin can play right tackle or kick inside to guard.

 

28. Carolina Panthers

Kelvin Benjamin, WR Florida State

If there was ever a year to blow up the wide receiving corp, this was the year. The Panthers could end up drafting three wide receivers with the depth at this position.  Benjamin has bounced around draft boards, but the Panthers fill a need without reaching at #28 and quarterback Cam Newton is suddenly a lot happier than he was yesterday.

 

29. Kansas City Chiefs TRADE DOWN from the New England Patriots

Kony Ealy, DE/OLB Missouri

The Chiefs have a dynamic duo at outside linebacker but with injuries last year they fell apart. Ealy helps immediately as a sub rusher and eventually replaces Tamba Hali. Great pick for them late in the first round.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers

Demarcus Lawrence, DE Boise State

Aldon Smith is “unreliable” to say the least. A little depth there with Lawrence helps the coaching staff sleep at night. “Tank” was productive in college and can get to the quarterback.  He had some suspensions, but he may still be a bit more stable than Smith.

 

31. Denver Broncos

Jason Verrett, CB TCU

Quick, name a Bronco’s cornerback other than recently signed and injury prone former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib? Maybe you said slot corner Chris Harris but I doubt it. Talib, it bears repeating again, is injury prone.  The Broncos need to shore up the position in the draft and Verrett may be a bit short and thin, but he can make plays on the ball.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks

Jace Amaro, TE Texas Tech

A great fit for the Seahawks offense. Another explosive player for an offense that seems to only need to upgrade over tight end Zach Miller to be complete on offense. Amaro is just the guy to be worked in at tight end in 2014.

 

EARLY SECOND ROUND with a FIRST ROUND GRADE:

I have nine more players with a first round grade. That shows how deep this draft really is this year.  Expect a lot of action Friday night as teams try to position themselves for one of these guys:

Brandin Cooks, WR Oregon State

Ryan Shazier, LB Ohio State

Marcus Martin, C USC

Morgan Moses, T Virginia

Cody Latimer, WR Indiana

Joel Bitonio, T Nevada

Cyrus Kouandjio, T Alabama

Derek Carr, QB Fresno State

 

OK, I am off to watch the Bruins and Canadiens game four with all kinds of NFL Draft going on with the laptop. Much multi-tasking going on tonight. Enjoy mocking my draft!

 

Have a great weekend, all!

 

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