Friday, April 22, 2011

Updated, No-Trade Mock Draft

Now this isn't exactly what's going to happen, because there are inevitably going to be a few trades. But in the scenario of any single team being in their starting point, here is my best guess:

1. Carolina- Cam Newton - QB
2. Denver- Marcel Dareus - DT
3. Buffalo- Von Miller - OLB
4. Cincinnati - AJ Green - WR
5. Arizona - Patrick Peterson - CB
6. Cleveland - Nick Fairley - DT
7, San Francisco - Blaine Gabbert - QB
8. Tennessee - Robert Quinn - DE
9. Dallas - Cameron Jordan - DE
10. Washington - Julio Jones - WR
11. Houston - Aldon Smith - OLB
12. Minnesota - DeQuan Bowers - DE
13. Detroit - Jimmy Smith- CB
14. St. Louis - Cory Liuget - DT
15. Miami Dolphins - Mike Pouncey - OL
16. Jacksonville - JJ Watt - DE
17. New England - Muhammed Wilkerson - DE
18. San Diego - Tyron Smith - OT
19. NY Giants - Gabe Carimi - OT
20. Tampa Bay - Ryan Kerrigan - DE
21. Kansas City - Anthony Castonzo - OT
22. Indianapolis - Nate Solder -OT
23. Philadelphia - Prince Amukamara - CB
24. New Orleans - Justin Houston- DE
25. Seattle - Jake Locker - QB
26. Baltimore - Cam Heyward - DE
27. Atlanta- Adrian Clayborn- DE
28. New England - Brooks Reed OLB
29. Chicago - Danny Watkins - OG
30. NY Jets - Phil Taylor - DT
31. Pittsburgh- Aaron Williams - CB
32. Green Bay - Mark Ingram -RB

Friday, February 18, 2011

It Must be Spring--He's Knocking Out Mock Drafts.

Here's a First Shot at Round 1 of April's Draft. Inevitably, things will come up that change the spots, and I'll end up modifying this at least a couple of times. Big things to expect:

1) Loads of the DE/OLB guys going in Round 1, especially in the 10-25 range.
2) Not much for the skill guys. Probably only 2 QBs, 2-3 receivers and only 1-2 RBs.
3) Expect a handful of the defenders to really jump when they inevitably have monster workouts, namely Robert Quinn, Corey Liuget, and Aldon Smith.
4) Most of the teams that need a QB will figure out they can wait until Round 2 to get a guy like Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker, rather than spend a top 10 pick on a slightly lesser gamble. The others, well, there's a reason why they pick in the top 10.
5) Things are going to get real congested between 15 and 25, because most of those teams are looking for the same 3-4 DEs and OLBs.

1. Carolina- Nick Fairley- DT- Auburn
2. Denver -Patrick Patterson - CB- LSU
3. Buffalo- Cam Newton- QB- Auburn
4. Cincinnati-AJ Green- WR- Georgia
5. Arizona-Robert Quinn- DE/OLB
6. Cleveland-Marcel Dareus- DT- Alabama
7. San Francisco-Blaine Gabbert- QB-Missouri
8. Tennessee-Von Miller- OLB- Texas A&M
9. Dallas- Prince Amukamara-CB-Nebraska
10. Washington-Corey Liuget-DT- Illinois
11. Houston- Akeem Ayers- OLB- UCLA
12. Minnesota- Jimmy Smith- CB- Colorado
13. Detroit- Nate Solder- OT- Colorado
14. St. Louis- Julio Jones- WR- Alabama
15. Miami- Gabe Carimi- OT/OG-Wisconsin
16. Jacksonville- Ryan Kerrigan- DE- Purdue
17. New England- Aldon Smith- DE- Missouri
18. San Diego- JJ Watt- DE- Wisconsin
19. NY Giants- Mark Ingram- RB- Alabama
20. Tampa Bay- Adrian Clayborne-DE- Iowa
21. Kansas City-Justin Houston - OLB
22. Indy- Tyron Jackson- OT- USC
23. Philadelphia- Mike Pouncey- OG-Florida
24. New Orleans-Adrian Clayborn- DE
25. Seattle- Torrey Smith- WR- Maryland
26. Baltimore-Cam Jordan-DE- Cal
27. Atlanta- Rahim Moore- S-UCLA
28. New England- Muhammed Wilkerson- DE- Temple
29. Chicago- Jonathan Baldwin- WR- Pitt
30. NY Jets- Phil Taylor- DT-Baylor
31. Pittsburgh- Anthony Costanzo- OT- BC
32. Green Bay- Benjamin Ijalana- OG/OT- Villanova

Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend at Paulie's

It's hard not to look across the Conservative landscape and not try to pick out the likely challenger for 2012 and Barry O. That being said, the choices are pretty much a combination of the fringy deranged paranoids (Palin, Bachmann), the washed up self-parodies (Gingrich, Giuliani, Romney) and the melba-toast lingerers (Huckabee, Pawlenty). Realistically, any of these options are basically a sacrificial lamb, because there's no way they'd beat Obama in a head to head matchup.

Lingering in the background is the young Congressman from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan. He's a young, good looking guy, with facially moderate views, and no major skeletons thus far (I'm assuming there isn't a "wide stance" or Argentine Newscaster around the corner, but perhaps that's too generous). The interesting thing here, is the way he's being presented--the new economic expert. Within the last two years he's submitted his own version of the Federal Budget, and delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union. This cat's setting himself to be the rising star of the GOP over the next few years and the main player for them in 2016.

The Conservative set has tried to cast him as a not just a fairly smart guy, but as a straight up expert. The problem with this, is that he really just isn't. I think of it like "Weekend At Bernie's," where the two pals end up with a dead body that they have to convince everyone is really still alive and having a good time. Sure it didn't make sense, but hey, it was easier just to roll with it and throw Bernie on the boat for a spin. Is our man Ryan an economist? No. Does he have anything beyond a BA at decent school? No. Does he wear sunglasses at parties? Hmm....

Hell, by now he's gotten good at the "I'm actually very smart, even if I actually am not making any sense, because I smile a lot and sound calm." If we were watching this on Telemundo, we'd be all set if we couldn't translate and just assumed that what he was explaining wasn't 200% made up jibberish. He was talking recently in his State of the Union reply about how bad of shape Greece, Ireland, and the UK are now (presumedly because of high taxes, over regulation, and high government spending to support a derelict populace, etc.). The problem with this, are that Greece's problem was a combination of a decades-long fraudulent government scheme to hide debts, corruption, and an under developed economy. Ireland's problem was a lack of any meaningful banking regulation, wild speculation by investment houses, and a huge property bubble collapse. The UK is probably the most relevant comparison for his point, but it's important to note that the cost-cutting measures he's supporting haven't generated the promised fixes and they were, as of 2006, the UK was recognized by the Heritage Foundation as having more "Economic Freedom" than the US (5th Highest, overall).

Inherently, the response he's looking for is "Damn! He's talking about multiple countries and even comparing them. This must be important and smart!" The problem with all this, of course, is that it's pure hogwash, and the numbers just don't make any sense. Comparing these countries is basically akin to say that Detroit and Las Vegas are both struggling for the same reason--too many street lights.

Similarly, the whole budget proclamation is all about broad generalizations, with some wild speculations tied to made-up numbers. There's a pattern of basically using some numbers to make half a point, and then just making up the rest (Thus, a 50% increase in revenue divided by a 10% shift from the public sector to private sector= Obama's a Socialist). That, or they just don't exist, because he didn't actually, as the economic experts say, "use any actual numbers or do any math."

Anyways, the real takeaway is that this guy's not going away any time soon. He's going to emerge as the inexplicable economic theorist of the Conservative political class, largely by default. But the fact that we're being sold this story of his great financial mind shouldn't cloud the fact that he's really just some guy. He's alive, which gives him a leg up on Bernie, but they're bringing the same amount of legit material to the table.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The NCAA Playoff Blueprint

Now that we've reached the New Year and the peak of Bowl Season, it's time to hear the annual chants for a playoff. "Do it for Boise and the TCUs of the World!" we hear. And I get that. Now realistically, I'm not a big believer in the argument that Boise and TCU would be able to really challenge the elite teams in a game that mattered. As much as I was impressed with TCU yesterday against Wisconsin, it seems fairly apparent that: (a) Wisconsin on its best day was probably 2-3 Touchdowns worse than Auburn or Oregon; (b) Wisconsin had no business losing that game, and only did because of a bizarre strategy of throwing the ball waaaayyy to much when its huge advantage was pounding the ball on the ground. Anyway, I digress.

Regardless of that game, the playoff is an entirely workable system that we can use--and still keep the bowl system in place. I get that the NCAA and the member schools love the bowls as a huge moneymaker and to really highlight the sport. Fine. Yet because the NCAA has opted against instituting a playoff, they come off as arrogant and unresponsive to public sentiment. (Note: I recognize that the NCAA is, and has always been, arrogant and unresponsive, but there's no need to emphasize the point.)

In working this out, it's imperative to keep the bowl system in place, protect the relevance of conference plays and championships, and not just add another 4 weeks to the season. If a team has to cut an early non-conference smackdown, so be it (so Oregon may need to let go of the 2011 match-up with Portland State that it won this year 69-0).

The Plan:
Everything is normal through the week of Thanksgiving. Everyone can play their rival game just like they have. The next weekend, teams play their conference championship games, if they have one. In the week after all conference championships, we go to the polls and grab the top 8 teams. Those are the playoff schools, and generally this will be similar to the BCS schools as it stands now.

The next week, normally the first Saturday in December, we play the first round of games, 1 vs. 8, etc. The next week, we have the semifinals, and we're still only about mid-December. By this point, we have a clearly defined Championship matchup, plus there are still 2 weeks to get the Major Bowl games filled. To simplify, you can even prearrange the rankings to certain bowl games in advance, with the only changes being the teams who make it to the Championship. Or just set the most preferable match-ups. Everyone who wasn't in the top 8 is unaffected by this, and just goes to the normal bowl game they would have anyway (Helloooo Alamo Bowl!). You really need to have at least 2 weeks before the bowl games to let the tickets be distributed, hotel rooms booked, etc.

How would this look? Let's play it out:

December 4, 2010: (1) Auburn vs. (8) Arkansas; (2) Oregon vs. (7) Oklahoma; (3) TCU vs. (6) Ohio State; (4) Wisconsin vs. (5) Stanford.

December 11, 2010: (1) Auburn vs. (5) Stanford; (2) Oregon vs. (3) TCU

January 1, 2011: Fiesta Bowl-(3) TCU vs. (7) Oklahoma; Rose Bowl-(4) Wisconsin vs. (5) Stanford; Orange Bowl- (8) Arkansas vs. (6) Ohio State

January 3, 2011: National Championship: (1) Auburn vs. (2) Oregon

And there it is.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Week 11 (AKA Pats/Colts and Other Less Important Stuff)

Pats v. Colts:
And here we are, the yearly installation of what has become the most historically significant rivalry since Bird-Magic. Brady's Pats and Manning's Colts stand as the two top 3 franchises of the last 15 years (with Pittsburgh), with Brady and Manning inarguably the top two players of that era.

For this week, New England seems to have the overall better squad and is well-served by a cold-weather Foxboro afternoon. The Pats should be able to win the up front battles, both on offense and defense, setting up a better chance to succeed in the passing games. Look for the Pats to try to pound the undersized Colt defense with Mankins, Light, a combination of Crumpler and Gronkowski. By hammering consistently with Green-Ellis, the play action should be effective. Brady's pass protection has been excellent lately, and it should continue--sealing the deal with short and intermediate routes.

The Colts have little choice but to try to spread the Pats out on defense, and go after the weak links in pass coverage. They're going to put as much pressure as possible on Kyle Arrington and James Sanders, since they're both liabilities in coverage. Wayne will get his, even though the Pats will try to key on him and force the secondary receivers to make plays. Look for Pat Chung to lock down the tight end Tamme and raise hell in the run game. Also, we'll probably see more Gary Guyton this week in place of Spikes since he's faster and much better in coverage.
Pats, 27-20

San Diego v. Denver:
Does anyone know whether Denver's not crappy? Hmm...I think not. I'm guessing this week will look a lot more like the Oakland 59-14 loss than last week's bizarre win over KC. San Diego looks tough, albeit flawed.

The Broncos really don't have an answer for San Diego's pass game, even though Matthews looks like kind of a stiff. He'll get better, but probably not in 2010. Even if Denver plays nickel the entire game, they can't get any pressure and the coverage will inevitably break down. The Bronco offense is actually very similar to San Diego's but the Charger defense is still a few steps better.
Chargers, 30-16

Oakland v. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh's injuries have really killed them lately. Their offensive line is in shambles, and their front 3 in the 3-4 have taken major hits with Aaron Smith and Keisel missing time. In a normal, healthy universe, this game, at Pittsburgh, should be about a 24-13 Steeler win. But...

...the Steelers aren't healthy and the Raiders are a team well-suited to take them on. The Raider front 7 is a physical, talented unit that is going to give the Steeler offense a ton of trouble. Seymour should have a monster game--7 tackles, 2-3 sacks. On the other hand, the Raider offense is ok, but probably not good enough up front to really cause major problems. And the passing game won't see much success. If McFadden can have some success, they could make some plays with a loosened up front 7. It's going to be a close one, but I like the Steeler defense just a little more.
Steelers, 16-13.

NYG v. Philadelphia:
This game is obviously going to be determined by the ability of the Giant front 7 to control Vick. If they can force Vick to stay in the pocket and throw with pressure, the Giants can probably pull it out. If Vick is able to move and make plays, Philly wins by 10 points. The Giants need to win this game with their offense--grind it out and keep the Eagle offense off the field. Philly's defense is more opportunistic than it is really a shut-down unit, so the Giants should be able to put up points if they can avoid turnovers.

We can't put too much into the Redskins game last week. Washington flat out quit early and is a terrible match trying to cover a fast team. The Giants have to commit a constant double to DeSean Jackson and force Vick to read progressions through the other receivers. And, they have to--HAVE TO--wrap up and make tackles when they can. Almost every big play against the Redskins last week involved a broken sloppy tackle by a broken sloppy team. Another thing to watch out for--the Vick injury potential. These games against big aggressive defenses are the types where he could take a hard hit and miss some time.
Eagles, 27-24

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week 9 NFL Picks

Week 9 NFL Picks:

New England at Cleveland:
The Pats are playing basically like a better version of their 2001-2002 Super Bowl club (Note: This isn't to say they're a Super Bowl team in the making, because that first Super Bowl was a crazy run with multiple upsets). Safe, extremely efficient, but able to make big plays a handful of times each game. The defense has improved immensely from the start of the year, and they look like they have rookie difference makers in Cunningham and McCourty.

In this matchup with Cleveland, the Pats should be able to load up against the run and force the Cleveland receivers to make plays on their own. Problem is, the Brown receivers can't make plays and the QB has NEVER seen the kinds of zone looks Belichick will put out there. The Pats offense will be able to grind out some points, and probably break a big pass with Hernandez or Tate. Probably not a ton of points, since New England won't play a risky offensive scheme.
Pats, 27-13

Miami at Baltimore
I'm really not a big Miami fan. That being said, Miami should be able to create some problems with the pass game in the same way that they always have given the Jets problems. Baltimore's problem is going to be Marshall making big plays on the crappy Raven DBs and Bess converting on 3rd Downs. I'd be surprised if Miami ran for more than 75 yards.

But Baltimore is going to score, since the Dolphins have a pretty good pass rush and corner in Vontae Davis. Baltimore's about a 5-6 point favorite. I like Baltimore to win, but not to cover.
Ravens, 20-16

Chargers v. Texans
How is this not a shootout, I first thought. But here's the thing: the Charger D is better than you think. And has anyone confirmed that the Texans have any heart? No evidence as of yet. Even at home, I like the Bolts. Big day for Rivers against a crappy Houston defense.
Chargers, 27-20

Giants at Seahawks
Are the Seahawks actually good? Hard to tell, since their wins are a little hollow-looking. I don't see it, and losing big to Oakland doesn't help their case. The Giants are for real, even if their wins are a little soft as well.
Giants, 24-10

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 7 NFL Picks

Week 7 NFL Picks

Here's a look at a few of the weekend games. I'm not going to get into the obvious games, since there's no use wasting space on why Baltimore will beat a 2-14 in the making Bills club.

Pats at Chargers:
Why do we think the Chargers aren't crappy? They play decent at home, awful on the road, and haven't beaten anyone worth a damn. And that was when they were healthy. And now come the suddenly rejuvenated Pats coming off two solid wins over Miami and Baltimore. The pass defense for New England is still a work in progress, but the front 7 has gotten pretty solid in a hurry. Jermaine Cunningham is a baller. The difference is that Brady and the Pats offense is going to overwhelm San Diego's defense. And San Diego's special teams will hurt them, just like they have every game so far.
Pats, 34-20.

Bengals v. Falcons:
Part of me thinks the Falcons are kind of shitty. They just aren't physical enough to win on a consistent basis, especially with teams who can bang on them with a decent offensive balance. Cincinnati might just have enough to pull it out, especially if they run Benson about 28 times. Nobody's really giving them a chance, and I while I see picking the Falcons, I can't figure out why EVERYBODY'S picking Atlanta. Here's the other thing: Cincy should be able to play single coverage on the Atlanta WRs with their corners, and load up with extra guys in the box. This should be a pretty low-scoring, close, and pretty ugly affair.
Bengals, 16-13.

Redskins v. Bears:
The question, as it is every week, is whether the Bears O-Line can keep Cutler alive long enough to score a few points. The Chicago D is good, not great. That being said, McNabb is so damn inaccurate he's going to struggle in the large number of third and longs Chicago's going to force. It's probably close, but Chicago wins it at home. In DC, the Redskins probably win it.
Bears, 17-13.

Eagles v. Titans:
I really love this matchup. Good teams. But everybody's banged up. The problem is that Desean Jackson's gone, their LT Peters is gone, and Tennesee's D-Line's going to work them over hard up front. Without Jackson, the Eagles are going to struggle to move the ball all day long. On the other side, the Titans offense has Chris Johnson and not much else. Vince Young is out, but I suspect that against a team like Philly he's more a liability than Kerry Collins because the Eagles will bait him into bad throws all day. The fact that Philly's only impressive win was at home against a Falcon team that looks like a fringe playoff team gives me pause.
Titans, 20-16.