The Day After the Draft: Day #1

April 29, 2011 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

With the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn.

Well, Day 1 of the NFL Draft is in the books.  There were surprises, reaches, drops, and trades.  It was a lot of fun, let’s talk about it.

I don’t think anyone was surprised that Cam Newton went #1 overall.  Sure there was some speculation about Marcell Dareus (#3 to Buffalo), Von Miller (#2 to Denver), or maybe even A.J. Green (#4 to Cincy).  But, we all knew, that was a bunch of malarkey.  It was always Cam Newton.  I’m not a huge fan of Newton, but in the win-now society we live in, I guess it was the pick that Carolina fans wanted the most.

Arizona got the best player in the draft in Patrick Peterson.  One problem: they didn’t need a corner.  Ken Whisenhunt’s strategy in the draft is to get the best available player, which I think will lead to his firing in a few seasons.  But Arizona got a great player, so yay for them.

Atlanta traded the farm, so they could get a big threat on the other side of Roddy White, in the form of Julio Jones.

Atlanta went a little crazy to try to pick up Julio Jones at #6 overall.  They gave up their 1st, 2nd, and 4th round pick from this year, and next year’s 1st and 4th round pick, just to get Julio Jones.  I don’t like Jones to begin with, so I think that Cleveland definitely got the better end of this deal, and they’ll be able to get a ton of players in exchange for one injury-prone, drop-heavy receiver.  A sucker is born every minute, I guess.

I thought for certain that Blaine Gabbert would go #7 to San Francisco, but they surprised us by possibly reaching on Aldon Smith.  Then, when Tennessee picked, I was very surprised to see Jake Locker, not Gabbert, taken #8 to Tennessee.  For most of the month leading up to the draft, I had Gabbert going #1 to Carolina, and I didn’t think he’d drop this much.

After that, it went safe pick, crazy pick for a little bit.  Dallas couldn’t get a deal before the buzzer, so they took the offensive tackle, Tyron Smith.  Then, Jacksonville traded up to nab Blaine Gabbert.  At first, I was harsh of this pick, but upon reflection, now Gabbert can Aaron Rodgers it, and sit behind the experienced quarterback for a few years, so I like this move.  Houston, disappointed they couldn’t move up for Patrick Peterson, had to “settle” for J.J. Watt, who I think will have a fantastic NFL career.  Then, things got weird.

Who predicted Christian Ponder going to Minnesota with the #12 overall pick. Anyone?

The shocker of this draft so far, was Minnesota picking up Florida State QB Christian Ponder.  I had Ponder in the middle to late second round, and the sixth quarterback overall.  The Vikings must have some plans with Ponder, because if they’re willing to reach this far on Ponder, they must know something about him the rest of us mere mortals don’t.

Detroit kind of surprised us by stopping Nick Fairley’s free-fall.  I thought that defensive line was one of their strengths, and that they should’ve worried about their other problems.  But, then I thought.  Nick Fairley + Ndamukong Suh + Kyle Vanden Bosch + the Chicago Bears weak offensive line = Jay Cutler’s destruction.  Oh crap.

Was anyone else hoping that Nick Fairley would go up to accept his jersey, and just tackle Roger Goodell? Anyone?

The next pick that caught my attention (besides a slight reach for Nate Solder to New England at #17) was the New York Giants at #19 going with Prince Amukamara.  I thought for certain that this would be where either Mark Ingram or Anthony Costanzo would get picked up to sure up the Giants fumbly running game, but I guess you can never have enough corners.

Let's give a special mention to Chicago GM Jerry Angelo, who apparently has a drafting staff entirely consisting of monkeys.

After Cleveland moved up slightly to nab Phil Taylor (it’s not like they didn’t have plenty of picks to work with after the Julio Jones deal), and a perplexing pick on the part of Seattle (seriously, who the hell is James Carpenter?) Chicago did something kind of hilariously dumb.  You see, Baltimore originally had the 26th pick, but they had worked out a deal with the Bears to trade first round picks, so that Chicago could land Gabe Carimi, and Baltimore would also get a fourth round pick.  But, then Bears GM Jerry Angelo told two staff members to make the call to the NFL about the trade, and both staffers thought the other one did.  While all of this was going on, the 10 minutes allotted to the Ravens expired, and Kansas City was then officially on the clock.  By the time the Ravens actually got their pick in, Kansas City had already made their pick, and New England was already working on a trade of their own for the next pick that would give the Saints their pick, so that New Orleans could get Mark Ingram.  So, the Ravens just scrapped the trade.  Kansas City got Jon Baldwin.  Baltimore dropped one pick, but still got Jimmy Smith.  New Orleans got Ingram, and Chicago got Carimi.  Everyone involved left happy.

And that’s the first round.  My round two and three coverage will be up tomorrow, but unfortunately, it won’t go up until Day 3 picks have already begun.  Oh well.

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Feeling Drafty #32: Green Bay Packers

April 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Green Bay Team MVP Clay Matthews has 23.5 sacks in two seasons. Try to convince me that he's not one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

Well, this is it, the final Feeling Drafty article.  And it’s about the Green Bay Packers.  As a Bears fan, this article may upset me a little.  But I’ll try to fight through the tears, to write this thing.

Well, it looks like Green Bay made the right move for Aaron Rodgers.  He sat behind Brett Favre for a few years, and when his time came, he filled in for the old geezer seemlessly.  And within a few short years, he was in the running for MVP, and he brought the Lombardi trophy back to the home of the man it was named after.  One thing I didn’t understand was this:  when Aaron was given the Lombardi trophy, why did he also get the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?  That didn’t fit for me.

I have another question for the Green Bay coaching staff:  how is the running game going to be set up?  Will Ryan Grant be given the lead role after his season-stalling ankle injury?  Will James Starks be the leading rusher after his breakout in last season’s playoffs?  How will Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn factor into the conversatation?  What is the deal?  Actually, that’s five questions.  My bad.

Despite the fact, that Green Bay seems to have a lot of depth at receiver, they’re really fragile at the position.  I think that the guy who is the current #4 receiver, Jordy Nelson, is their best receiver.  Greg Jennings is electrifying, but it almost seems like he takes games off.  Donald Driver has been solid for years, but he could be slip this season.  James Jones looked like the heir apparent to Driver, but he drops passes like they talked about his momma.  Jermichael Finley looked like a future star, but time will tell if he can come back from his injury last season.  Nelson may just be the best all-around receiver on the team.

This defense is young, but they look promising.  Clay Matthews is a scary individual who broke out this season with 13.5 sacks.  Tramon Williams and Sam Shields (like so many others on this team) came alive in the playoffs.  B.J Raji and Cullen Jenkins played well on the defensive line.  So, this team is solid on almost all front.

The depth at offensive line is pretty deep this season. Derek Sherrod is the sixth or seventh best offensive linemen this season, and he'll still be a first round draft pick.

Except for on the offensive line.  Aaron Rodgers was mobile enough to make it not as apparent, but let’s not confuse the issue:  this offensive line was bad.  So I think they should go for the last of the Big 5 OTs, Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod.  He’s very agile for a man his size, but he also has good fundamentals.  He’ll probably either start at RT and Bryan Bulaga will move to the left side, or he’ll wait behind Chad Clifton and learn from him, since Clifton will probably retire soon.

That does it.  We’re done here.  The Feeling Drafty Series is over.  Tomorrow, I’ll try to write a follow-up article about the first round, and maybe ones after Days 2 and 3 of the Draft.

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Feeling Drafty #31: Pittsburgh Steelers

April 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

In the last two seasons, Pittsburgh is 15-4 with Troy Polamalu, and 6-7 without him. He's an easy choice for Pittsburgh Team MVP.

OK, we only have two of these things left.  So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to speed through this, and get ready for the big finale.  Here we go.  Big Ben, bad touch.  James Harrison, stop trying to kill people.  Troy Polamalu, owes his awesome hair to Head and Shoulders.  Made it to the Super Bowl, but lost.  Mike Pouncey, best interior lineman in the draft, playing with his brother.  There, happy?  No, fine.

OK, so everyone was ready to throw Ben Roethlisberger into the fire for the sexual assault allegations against him.  I thought the Steelers would be screwed with Roethlisberger out for the first four games.  But, apparently, Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon, and Charlie Batch combined into one semi-competent quarterback that went 3-1.  Roethlisberger came back in, and stayed the course to finish the season with a 12-4 record.  He threw (in just 12 games) for 3,200 yards, 17 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 97.0 passer rating.

Rashard Mendenhall is quickly becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL.  Last season, he ran for career highs in attempts (324), yards (1,273), and touchdowns (13).  He should eaily be a mid-to-late first round pick in fantasy drafts.  And don’t ignore Isaac Redman, he’s been getting more and more carries toward the end of the season, and coach Mike Tomlin has said that he wants to use Redman as a goal-line back.  He could see an increase in carries next season, so if you’re in a deep league, you should look at Redman in one of the later rounds.

Who saw Mike Wallace becoming as big as he was?  He was third in the AFC with 1,257 receiving yards, and he led the AFC in yards per catch (21.0 yards/catch).  He’s another one that you should keep your eyes on.  He’ll be an elite receiver within a few years or less.  Unfortunately, Hines Ward is probably on the dropturn.  He’s had his worst season since 2000, with only 59 catches, 755 yards, and five touchdowns.  Ward has been a staple in the Steelers’ offense for years, but don’t be surprised if Hines doesn’t stay in the NFL for too much longer.

You can’t talk about the Steelers without mentioning their amazing defense (seems to be a common theme in the latter articles of this series).  Troy Polamalu is still unquestionably one of the best safeties in the NFL.  He’s still a ball hawk who can talk it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball, which happened seven times last season with one going back against the Bengals.  James Harrison is another one of the best players at his position.  But after last season, he was (rightly) tagged with the “headhunter” label, after concussion-causing injuries to Josh Cribbs and Mohammed Massaquoi within just a few minutes of each other.  He may be one of the best linebackers in the league, but he’s also the dirtiest.

A little bit of help on the offensive line won't hurt the Steelers, so don't be shocked if the Steelers try to pick up Florida G Mike Pouncey.

Pittsburgh is one of those teams that really has no desperate needs.  More like positions they need to sure up.  If Florida G Mike Pouncey falls this far, expect the Steelers to pounce (no pun intended).  He is, without a doubt, the best interior lineman in this season’s draft.  He’s more of a run-blocker than a pass-blocker, which means even better news for Rashard Mendenhall.  I know that a set of brothers have played on the same team at the same time (the Palmer in Cincy), but has a set of twins ever played on the same team at the same time.

OK, time for the finale.  Green Bay is tomorrow, and I have to praise them for winning the Super Bowl.  Crap.

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Feeling Drafty #30: New York Jets

April 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

New York utility player Brad Smith won New York Team MVP. Oh, I'm sorry, were you expecting someone else, like LT or Darrelle Rivas? What gave you that crazy idea?

You can call the New York Jets what you want:  overrated, overpaid, clowns, spectacles.  But, you can’t call them boring.  This team subscribed to so many football movie stereotypes last season, you’d think someone pulled the Jets out of a “Friday Night Lights” knockoff.

Young, unproven, cocky quarterback (Mark Sanchez), check.  Aging running back with one final push before retirement (LaDainian Tomlinson), check.  Another running back who really wasn’t prepared for the pros went he entered the league (Joe McKnight), check.  Fullback with the ridiculously awesome name (John Conner), check.  (OK, that last one may not be real, but I just wanted to bring that up.)  Wide receiver who comes to life in the playoffs (Santonio Holmes), check.  Another wide receiver who could be one of the best in the game, if he just didn’t drop so many damn passes (Braylon Edwards), check.  Yet another wide receiver who can do everything (Brad Smith), check.  Tight end who’s best friends with the quarterback (Dustin Keller), double check.  And that’s just the offense.

There’s also the defender getting ready for a career in television after football (Jason Taylor), the linebacker who scares the living *bleep* out of everybody (Calvin Pace), the high-energy, fun-loving  (Bart Scott), the cornerback who thinks that he the best in the game (Darrelle Rivas), and the corner with child support issues (Antonio Cromartie).  Did I miss any?

On a serious note, the Jets are a pretty good team who have a chance to live up to their head coach’s lofty expectations (insane head coach, check).  Sanchez looks like he’ll become a great quarterback, but if he doesn’t break out this season, it’s time to start raising some eyebrows.  It looks like the running back situation will become more balanced between Tomlinson, Shonn Greene, and McKnight.  So, if you want a deep sleeper, look for Joe McKnight around Round Nine or Ten of typical fantasy football drafts.

Their defense is one of the best in the NFL.  While I don’t think that Rivas is the best corner in the NFL (that honor goes to Nnamdi), he is one of the best corners in the NFL, and it’s a bad idea to throw the ball haphazardly to his side of the field.  David Harris is one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL.  Calvin Pace still scares the living *bleep* out of me.  So, I’m liking this defense, a lot.

For the second time in this series, the Team MVP is at the same position as my draft pick. But, the Jets are going to need some new WRs, since most of them could be leaving. So, New York needs to get a good WR, like Torrey Smith.

However, I think they should go for the wide receiver in the draft.  Even though they do have depth at the position, but they could be gone by the time the season starts.  Edwards, Holmes, and Smith are all unrestricted free agents.  So, the first step to replace them is Maryland WR Torrey Smith.  He has plenty of speed to burn opposing CBs, and he’s athletic enough to win battles for the ball against those corners.

Now, if only the Jets could pick up someone who was on a reality show.  Wait, does Hard Knocks count?  It does?  Ok, check.

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Feeling Drafty #29: Chicago Bears

April 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

When I first heard that the Bears won the Julius Peppers lottery, I called BS, since it was announced on April 1st (which is one my list of things big businesses should never do), but Peppers was the real deal last season, winning Chicago Team MVP.

Ah, finally, my team.  The Chicago Bears.  Winner of the NFC North.  Runner-up in the NFC to the eventually champion.  This was a good season. 

But, the Bears has so much work to do.  Seriously, they shouldn’t have gotten this far, and looking back, luck may have had a thing or two to do with it.  There were at least four different times when the Bears faced teams starting backup or third-string quarterbacks.  And in the playoffs, they had the fortune of facing the first team to ever make the playoffs with a regular season losing record.  That probably won’t happen again next season.

But, let’s talk about what the Bears did right this season.  Their defense rocks.  Brian Urlacher made a good comeback after being gone for the entire 2009 season, with 125 tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles.  And Lance Briggs did pretty well as well, with 100 tackles, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions (playoffs included).  Chris Harris had five interceptions in his last nine games, and is known as someone who can force more than a few fumbles.  Charles Tillman had five picks, as well, along with three forced fumbles.  Israel Idonije has become one of the best kick blockers in the NFL, alongside with eight sacks, and three forced fumbles.  And there’s also Julius Peppers.  Nuff said.  So causing turnovers definitely isn’t a problem for the Bears.

But, the Bears do have problems on the offense.  Jay Cutler has the potential to be in the elite tier of quarterbacks, but he needs to improve his work ethic, and his willingness to play through pain (especially in the playoffs, when it really matters).  And the wide receiver situation is a bit of a mess (OK, a big mess).  Johnny Knox(ville?) emerged as the #1 receiver for the Bears going for 51 receptions, 960 yards, and five touchdowns, and emphatically putting his name into the “speedster” category of receivers.  But, the Bears could definitely use another wide receiver, since they’ve (wisely) decided to put Devin Hester back on return duty, and Earl Bennett fits better in the slot than as one of the guys on the side.

Gabe Carimi's nickname is "The Jewish Hammer". Awesome, we'll take him.

But, that’s not what the Bears will go with, because their offensive line was just that:  offensive (-ly bad?, OK, that was a stretch).  They need a new leader on the OL to replace Olin Kruetz who, even if he does make a comeback next season, doesn’t have long left in the NFL.  And besides, with Mike Tice serving as the offensive line coach, they might as well give him some supreme talent to work with.  Supreme talent, like Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.  He’s a fierce, mean blocker.  Tough, strong, and tenacious with a motor that doesn’t stop.  His biggest downside, however, is the fact that he played at right tackle at Wisconsin, but he should be able to move to the left side soon enough.

Everybody hopes that their team will win the Super Bowl, and the Bears are close.  Even though they had a lot of luck on their side, don’t be shocked if the Bears make it back to the playoffs next season.

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Feeling Drafty #28: New England Patriots: Offense

April 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , , )

 
Tom Brady had one of the best seasons a quarterback ever had. Of course, he’s going to win New England Team MVP.

If Andy Reid and the Eagles wrote the book on getting the most out of their late round draft picks, then Bill Belichick owns the book, and has read it religiously.  Check out all of these players who are a big part of the Patriots offense who were drafted in later rounds:

  • Brandon Tate, 3rd round, 83rd pick
  • Aaron Hernandez, 4th round, 113th pick
  • Sammy Morris, 5th round, 156th pick (by Buffalo)
  • Tom Brady, 6th round, 199th pick
  • Julian Edelman, 7th round, 232nd pick
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis, undrafted
  • Danny Woodhead, undrafted (by NY Jets)
  • Wes Welker, undrafted (by San Diego)

Only five major skill players on New England’s vast offense of playmakers were drafted in the first two rounds.  Everyone else, late round steals.  Great job by Belichick for recognizing talent and bringing them onboard, no matter how their college career went.

I’m pretty sure that everyone in America wishes they could be Tom Brady.  He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, and possibly one of the best of all time.  He holds the record for most touchdowns in a single season.  His wife is SMOKIN’ HOT.  Face it, his life rocks.  And this season, he only cemented his awesomeness even further, by winning the MVP.  This season, he also set the all-time records for quickest quarterback to 100 wins, most consecutive regular season home wins, most consecutive two-touchdown, zero-interception games, most consecutive pass attempts without an interception, and best touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The running back situation was pretty interesting.  They started the season with four running backs, and ended the season with two running backs, but none of those six running backs were the same person.  After Laurence Maroney was traded to the Broncos, Kevin Faulk was put on injured reserve, Fred Taylor was hurt for most of the season, and Sammy Morris was converted to a fullback, that left the door open for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead to come in and carry the load for the Patriots.  And carry it they did, BJGE went for over 1,000 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while Woodhead went for 926 total yards and six total touchdowns.

When the Patriots got rid of Randy Moss, all of my friends said that the Patriots were stupid, and that Bill Belichick had lost it, especially when they essentially exchanged him for Deion Branch.  But, I reminded them, that Bill Belichick never does anything for nothing.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Moss dropped off the face of the earth, and Branch came back in a big way for the Pats, proving once again that I am right about everything football.  (OK, maybe not.)  Oh yeah, and Wes Welker came back from injury to go to his third straight Pro Bowl, and he went for 86 receptions, 848 yards, and seven touchdowns in just 11 starts.  Par for the course for Welker.

And what New England’s tight ends?  Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were drafted with New England’s second and fourth round draft picks, and when Randy Moss was deemed expendable, the two rookies became inexpendable.  Gronkowski had 42 catches for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Hernandez went for a 45-563-6 season.  And let’s give a nod to Alge Crumpler.  He didn’t have a great season, but he was in there, doing the dirty work, throwing blocks and making New England’s three tight end set work, all at age 32 or 33.  Well done, Mr. Crumpler.

Justin Houston has climbed up the draft board like none other. This time last season, he could've been a late third-round pick. Now, he projects to be a late first rounder.

But, after all of that, the Patriots, in my opinion, will go for a defensive player.  After all, when was the last time that the Patriots went for an offensive player with their first round pick?  (Answer: Laurence Maroney, 2006, and he’s not even on the team anymore)  So, they have a need at linebacker, so I’m going to say Georgia OLB/DE Justin Houston.  He’s in a good position to convert to linebacker, at 6’3″ and 258 pounds.  He had a great season, with 56 tackles and 10 sacks at defensive end.  He should be able to fill the hole that Junior Seau left when he retired.  (Or Seau could just un-retire.  Seriously, Seau is the defensive Brett Favre.)

Tomorrow, we’ll have the teams that made it to the conference championship games.  It’s time for the final four.  See you in Chicago.

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Feeling Drafty #27: Atlanta Falcons

April 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

Four straight seasons with 1,000 yards receiving, career-high 115 receptions, and one forced fumble on Nate Clements earned Roddy White the Atlanta Team MVP Award.

There are only 14 teams who haven’t won a Super Bowl, and right now the Atlanta Falcons look like the team in the best position to get their first Lombardi Trophy.  (Other teams include the Eagles, Seahawks, Chargers, and Vikings.)

But, if the Falcons are going to win the Super Bowl, they need to do so soon, because they’re starting to get old.  Roddy White will be 30 by Week 9 of the season.  Michael Turner will be 30 a few days after the Super Bowl.  Their leading pass rusher, John Abraham is 32.  Tony Gonzalez is 35.  Other than Matt Ryan, the Falcons are getting older.

Speaking of Matty Ice, how awesome was his season?  Every week, it seems like he, “the Burner”, “Rowdy” Roddy White, and Matt “My Hero” Bryant were staging another late-game comeback.  Bryant hit game-winning field goals within the last ten seconds of the game or in overtime against the Saints, Niners, and Packers.  They came back from a Cincy 22-point third quarter to beat the Bengals.  Ryan threw a fourth quarter touchdown to Roddy White against Baltimore, and to Michael Jenkins against Tampa.

And, until the aforementioned players do drop off, Atlanta will be in good shape.  Michael Turner went to his second Pro Bowl in three seasons with the Falcons, with 1,300+ yards and 12 touchdowns.  Roddy White was second in the NFL in receiving yards, behind only “Mr. Where-the-hell-did-he-come-from?” Brandon Lloyd.  And John Abraham had his sixth double-digit sack season, and became one of only two active members of the 100 Sack Club (Jason Taylor is the other).

Atlanta needs young help on the D-line, so Phil Taylor will be a great addition.

However, they need help on the defensive line, since John Abraham isn’t getting any younger.  So, let’s go with Baylor DT Phil Taylor.  A guy this big shouldn’t be this quick.  62 tackles, two sacks, and a great combine which cemented his place as one of the best DTs in the NFL.  Taylor’s stock is rising, so don’t be shocked if he goes in the top 20 picks.

Tomorrow, get ready for a huge article.  Because, we’re going to be talking about New England’s offense.  Those who don’t like Tom Brady need not read tomorrow’s article.

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Feeling Drafty #26: Baltimore Ravens

April 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

Ray Lewis went to his 12th Pro Bowl, his 10th All-Pro team, and he won Baltimore Team MVP this season, and I'm pretty sure the guy can breathe fire, too.

How does a team this good stay this quiet?

My writing team and I (my dad, me, and his 5 year old weiner dog, Oscar) have been brainstorming ideas about the Ravens, and we haven’t gotten very far.  (Oscar’s just been napping and hogging all of the doughnuts.)

Maybe their aging wide receiver corps would be a good place to start.  Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Donte Stallworth, and Todd Heap are all in their 30’s.  Boldin was his second-worst season, but that’s still not too bad:  64 reception, 837 yards, and seven touchdowns.  Mason (who’s becoming more popular for bashing the Commish) had an almost identical season to Boldin going for 61-802-7.  Heap had one of his better seasons in recent years: 40-599-5.  Houshmandzadeh had a few big moments, and Stallworth was utterly useless.

There was also Ray Rice, who dropped off a little bit, but still had a great season.  1,776 total yards with 6 total touchdowns, and a nice, fat paycheck from Gillette.  When that kind of season is a dropoff, you have made it in the NFL.

And you can’t talk about the Ravens without mentioning that awesome defense.  Ray Lewis is as ageless as ever with 139 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions, but his leadership is still the most important part of his arsenal.  His partner in crime, Terrell Suggs, led the team in sacks with 11.  Ed Reed led the league with eight interceptions.  Haloti Ngata is still one scary son-of -a-gun.  And Dawan Landry quietly had 111 tackles.  But then again, when you’re on the same team as Lewis, Suggs, Reed, and Ngata, you have to be a big deal to get recognized.

If the Ravens draft Aaron Williams, the Ravens' defense will be even more fearsome. That's a scary thought.

But, there is a problem with their defense.  Their secondary was off this season, ranking 21th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.  Not the worst in this league, but when compared to the rest of their defense, it’s terrible.  People keep telling me that the Ravens will pick up free agent CB Nnamdi Asomugha, but that’s no sure thing.  So, the Ravens should draft Texas CB Aaron Williams.  Williams is simply a big play maker.  He forces fumbles, he smothers receivers, he’s the man that the Longhorns called upon to cause a spark.

Imagine if the Ravens draft Williams, and still pick up Asomugha.  That problem just got fixed pretty thoroughly.

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Feeling Drafty #25: Seattle Seahawks

April 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

Mike Williams had the biggest turnaround you could ever hope for, for someone who literally wasnt playing football for the last two years. Easy choice for Seattle Team MVP.

In my Jacksonville article, I said that the Jaguars were the luckiest team in the NFL.  That’s still true, but the Seahawks were the most fortunate.  The difference between being lucky and being fortunate is small, but I think important.  Being lucky means that the only reason they won was because of pure dumb luck.  Being fortunate means that a specific group of circumstances needed to happen in order for them to win.

The Seahawks needed St. Louis to be inconsistent with their rookie quarterback.  They needed San Francisco to disappoint everyone.  They needed Arizona to be complete garbage.  They needed Matt Hasselbeck to be at least a half-way decent quarterback.  They needed Mike Williams to be the breakout story of the year.  In the last game of the year, they needed Charlie Whitehurst to be a good game manager.  And in the playoffs, they needed a miracle run from Marshawn Lynch to beat the Saints.  And by God, every single freaking one of those things happened to the Seahawks, and they earned the dubious distinction of being the first division winner to make the playoffs with a losing record.  Yay for them.

If it were up to me, Michael Vick wouldn’t win Comeback Player of the Year (seriously, screw him).  Instead, the award would go to Seattle’s Mike Williams (and then I’d give Rookie of the Year to Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams, just to mess with everyone’s head).  After taking two years off from football, he went back to his old USC Head Coach and current Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll.  In 14 games, he caught 65 passes for over 750 yards.  Not the greatest year a wide receiver ever had, but the best year that Williams ever had, because up until this season, he had bust written all over him.

After Williams, however, there’s not a lot to talk about for the Seahawks.  Matt Hasselbeck is beginning to get old, and Charlie Whitehurst isn’t the answer.  The running game was nonexistant except for the monster run Marshawn Lynch had in the Wild Card game against the Saints.  And the defense?  What defense?

How crazy do you think Seattle fans would go if Washington QB Jake Locker ended up going to Seattle?

The Seahawks need to take a huge swing, and the best way to do that is to go quarterback, since Hasselbeck may only have one semi-good year left.  And there is no better pick for Seattle than to go with Washington QB Jake Locker.  This hometown quarterback could’ve gone a year early, but he stayed at Washington to help improve his draft status.  But, he may have been drafted higher if he went last season.  He had some outstanding games against Syracuse, Oregon State, and Washington State, but he had terrible games versus Nebraska, Stanford, and UCLA.  He’s a quarterback who can make plays with his legs, but he doesn’t have to rely on them.  If he sits behind Matt Hasselbeck for a year, and starts the 2012-13 season, he should be a good quarterback.

Also, something I want to know, why is it that the Seahawks keep bragging about their losing record playoff appearance.  Seems to me, that’s something they should keep as big of a secret as possible.

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Feeling Drafty #24: New Orleans Saints

April 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , )

The consistency this guy shows is simply ridiculous. Drew Brees ran away with New Orleans Team MVP.

Even though I’ve said before that Chicago is my favorite team, I’ll lived in Louisiana all my life.  That philosophy hasn’t always been a good one for me, since I like all of the Chicago teams.  Remember when the Bears defeated the Saints in the 2007 NFC Championship Game.  How about when the White Sox beat the Astros in the World Series?  Guess who that didn’t end well for?

Everyone knows that the hardest thing to do in football is to pull a repeat.  And in case, you haven’t heard, the Saints had a big loss in the playoffs.  Besides shocking losses to Arizona and Cleveland, the Saints had a pretty good season.  They went 11-5, and made the playoffs again (as a wild card), but lost in a shocking upset to the Seahawks (more on that tomorrow).

Drew Brees was still scorching defenses, going for his 5th straight season with at least 4,400 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.  (That has to be a record, right?)  Let me ask you, if San Diego could have a re-do, would they take Drew Brees or Philip Rivers?  Tough decision, but I’d give the nod to Brees.

New Orleans’ running back situation is as confusing and convoluted as ever.  Reggie Bush was injured a lot, ineffective, overpaid, and probably will be leaving The Big Easy.  Pierre Thomas was injured even more, but at least when he was on the field, he was effective.  Christopher Ivory broke out this season as an undrafted free agent.  Ladell Betts and Julius Jones were hanging around picking up carries.  You can’t describe the New Orleans running game without including the word “cluster”.

And how about the receivers for this team.  Marques Colston was the most consistent receiver on this team, but he still had his off games.  Every year, it seems as though a different receiver jumps from the #4 receiver to the #2 receiver.  This year, it was Lance Moore.  The #4 receiver this season was Devery Henderson, so if you want a deep sleeper, Henderson could be the guy.  Robert Meachem is still there, so keep an eye on him.  But, next season’s breakout for the Saints will probably be Jimmy Graham, he had a good second half of the season, and now Jeremy Shockey is like Jim Croce and has “Carolina on his mind”.  Keep an eye on him, too.

This little-known big man, Muhammad Wilkerson, will be a welcome addition to a strengthening Saints D-line.

With all of this talk of New Orleans’ offense, the defense is the side that needs the help.  Even though the Saints recently picked up former Cleveland DT Shaun Rogers, I think the Saints will draft Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson.  If you haven’t heard of this guy, don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one, he’s a bit under the radar.  But, he racked up 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks.  Questions are around concerning the level of competition that he went up against, since he was competing in the “ultra-competitive” MAC, but those questions always come up for small-school prospects.  (Also, I think he’ll switch to DE with the addition of Shaun Rogers.)

That’s it for the teams that got eliminated in the wild card round.  Tomorrow, Seattle, the first team with a losing record to win their division.  Yay, for them.

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