Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 NFL Draft - Mock Draft 1.0

Carolina and Cincinnati are bumbling and stumbling their way to the first pick in the draft. One team who won’t be drafting early is the Bucs, and I’ll gladly eat crow at underestimating their chances this season. I’ll break down the Bucs position by position a little later on, but before the bowl season gets kicked off, here’s my first take at next year’s draft.

(Draft order is based on my projected order of finish and modified playoff projections.)

1) Carolina Panthers
Andrew Luck (R-So) has said that he’ll state his intentions after the completion of the Orange Bowl, but I think he’s better off going pro. Everyone’s different, but the track record for returning to school during a year when you’re (at least publicly) considered a top 5 pick isn’t so hot. Just ask Jake Locker and Matt Leinart how that worked out for them. IMO Luck is easily the top QB prospect of this potential class, and I don’t think another year in the Pac-10 (especially if Jim Harbaugh moves on) is going to help his development enough to warrant returning. The Panthers drafted Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike last year, but I don’t see them passing on Luck, should he turn pro. He’s a pretty sure thing IMO, and I don’t believe there’s another player that stands out as #1 material.

The pick – Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)

2) Cincinnati Bengals
I think the Bengals need a pass rusher as much as anything else, and Da’Quan Bowers’ stock has to be shooting through the roof. He’s an undeclared junior, but I don’t see how he returns after a 16 sack regular season. Clemson’s season ender against South Carolina and the September game against Presbyterian are the only games in which Bowers did not record a sack. He’s easily the top pass rusher of this year’s class IMO.

The pick – Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)

3) Buffalo Bills
I think Buffalo sticks with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. I would. Joe Montana he’s not, but he’s also not the team’s biggest problem. Finding someone up front who can block would be nice, but I don’t see a lineman going in the top 5 this year. There’s just not an elite talent coming out. I see this one going one of two ways; either DL or CB. Someone like Marcell Dareus may be the way to go. A DL with 4-3 or 3-4 flexibility would be a wise move for a team that can’t make up its mind on whether it wants to be a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. CB isn’t their biggest weakness, but Patrick Peterson is a lockdown corner who would give them some much needed defense against Tom Brady. For a team that can’t afford to continue making draft mistakes, I’m going with the “surer thing”.

The pick – Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)

4) Denver Broncos
I believe one of their pressing needs is a talent upgrade on the DL. Linebacker, safety, and a reliable backup to Knowshon Moreno are other areas to address, but I don’t see the value in doing so here. Depending on what Buffalo chooses to do, Denver could have their choice at Dareus and Nick Fairley.

The pick – Marcell Dareus (DL, Alabama)
5) Arizona Cardinals
Quarterback has been a huge problem position for the Cardinals this season, but I’m not convinced that they’d take Ryan Mallett here. Rookie John Skelton has been given the #1 job at the end of a meaningless season, so maybe he shows them enough to feel comfortable spending a top 5 pick on another position. Prince Amukamura at corner would fill a need, but would they take the second corner with the fifth overall pick? A possible surprise way to go would be to give Larry Fitzgerald the help he so desperately needs in the receiving game. It would also help Skelton, Max Hall, or whoever they line up under center.

The pick – AJ Green (WR, Georgia)

6) Detroit Lions
I have CB, OL, and LB as their biggest needs, and Prince Amukamura is easily the best talent available at each of those positions. I think the Detroit has finally figured out that they need to draft protection for Stafford if they want him to play more than half a season, but again, I’m not seeing a top 5 tackle in this year’s draft. Linebacker isn’t any better. Detroit has played the pass this year better than anyone had anticipated, but I wouldn’t continue to tempt fate. They need an elite talent back there, and Amukamura fits the description.

The pick – Prince Amukamura (CB, Nebraska)

7) Tennessee Titans
Their situation screams Ryan Mallett here, but from what I’m seeing, Vince Young is returning as QB of a team with a new coach. Owner Bud Adams has been a vocal supporter of Young’s, even after the latest dustup that has Young on the sidelines for the remainder of the season. Randy Moss isn’t returning, so finding an upgrade over Nate Washington across from Kenny Britt could be one way to go. They need to improve at TE over Bo Scaife but not at #7 overall. Same with MLB. I think corner would be the way to go if either Peterson or Amukamura are on the board when they pick, but they aren’t here. DT would be the other area I’d look, and Fairley or Dareus would be wise selections if available. I’d be tempted to go with AJ Green if he was still on the board since a trio of Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt, and AJ Green would help Young’s or any QB’s numbers.

The pick – Nick Fairley (DL, Auburn)

8) Washington Redskins
The Redskins need help just about everywhere. The talent at RB and WR is unimpressive. Albert Haynesworth won’t be back next year, and their high paid pass defense is among the league’s worst. Dareus and Fairley are gone, and to me this looks too early to be drafting the 3rd best corner. Taking the top RB doesn’t seem like something Mike Shanahan would do, but Mark Ingram might be in play. What about Ryan Mallett? I believe AJ Green is an automatic here if he’s on the board, but I have Arizona taking him three picks ago. Given needs and availability, I’m sticking with receiver and taking the top one remaining IMO.

The pick – Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)

9) Cleveland Browns
Colt McCoy will enter next year as the starting QB, and this year’s steal, Peyton Hillis, will be the primary ball carrier. Their biggest offensive problem, aside from having to start Jake Delhomme at QB, has been a lack of playmaking ability at receiver. I think they need to address the right side of their offensive line, but I still think it’s too early to do so here. Right now I’ve got this coming down to WR or a pass rushing LB. I’m tempted to go with Akeem Ayers here, but they’ve been needing a legit #1 receiver for quite a while.

The pick – Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)

10) Minnesota Vikings
No way Brett Favre comes back, right? I think it's less likely that the next head coach goes to battle with Tarvaris Jackson as his #1.

The pick – Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)

11) San Francisco 49ers
I think the Rams win this division, and Mike Singletary isn’t coaching the 49ers next season. Neither Alex nor Troy Smith should be starting on anyone’s team in the NFL, so I see the next head coach looking to improve this position right away. I don’t think this guy put up a season to warrant being a top 15 pick, but that doesn’t mean he won’t go that high.

The pick – Jake Locker (QB, Washington)

12) Dallas Cowboys
I realize that losing Tony Romo has a huge impact on the overall performance of the Cowboys’ offense, but their running game was has been big disappointment this season. I’m not sure if they’re sold on Doug Free being a franchise LT, but regardless, an aging Marc Colombo and uninspiring Alex Barron cry out for upgrades. This is right about where I see the first offensive lineman being drafted if they don’t take a corner like Janoris Jenkins.

The pick – Derek Sherrod (T, Mississippi State)

13) Seattle Seahawks
With the way this mock has gone so far, I’m looking at either a pass rusher or Mark Ingram here. I assume they’d prefer having more than one pass rush threat (Chris Clemons), but the RB situation is a mess with Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, and Justin Forsett. Is Ingram the solution, or does the focus need to be upgrading 4 of the 5 offensive line spots not occupied by Russell Okung?

The pick – Robert Quinn (DE, North Carolina)

14) Houston Texans
The league’s worst pass defense needs an infusion of talent. Would they take another corner in R1 for the second year in a row (Kareem Jackson in 2010)? Upgrading over Eugene Wilson at FS would be wise, but I think this is too high for Rahim Moore, my highest rated safety. I’ll stay in the secondary but give them another corner with potential.

The pick – Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida)

15) New England Patriots (via Oakland)
Outside linebacker, cornerback, and defensive end are the positions I’m looking at defensively for the Patriots, and I think pick #16 will provide them with multiple options. Here is where I’d be looking at guys like Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Jordan, Akeem Ayers, Von Miller, Jeremy Beal, and Brandon Harris. Offensively they could use some young bodies up front, and giving Tom Brady a playmaker opposite Wes Welker might be on the agenda. This guy doesn’t get a ton of attention, but I’d be intrigued to see what Bill Belichick could do with him.

The pick – Cameron Jordan (DL, California)

16) Miami Dolphins
Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams look really old this year. I’m going with an obvious selection.

The pick – Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
(I listed Ryan Williams as my #1 draft eligible back, but I’m guessing he returns to Virginia Tech.)

17) Jacksonville Jaguars
I’m sure there will be the annual shifting of Jacksonville linebackers this offseason, and one of the league’s worst pass defenses will see some personnel changes. There’s also defensive end to think about, as Aaron Kampmann is out with another ACL injury. I’ve narrowed this one down to QB, DE, and CB. As tempted as I am to make Cameron Newton the pick, I don’t think Jacksonville goes in that direction.

The pick – Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)

18) Chicago Bears
The offensive line is a big area of concern for the Bears (especially Jay Cutler), so getting someone to protect Cutler’s blind side is a top priority. They have decent talent at receiver but no one who stands out as a weekly threat. Drafting a young linebacker like Travis Lewis to groom as a leader of the future wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The pick – Tyron Smith (T, USC)

19) Kansas City Chiefs
Tamba Hali provides nearly all of the Chiefs’ pass rush, so getting someone who can add to the sack stats is a need. The also need an upgrade at cornerback across from Brandon Flowers, and the offensive line still needs help.

The pick – Akeem Ayers (LB, UCLA)

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At pick #20 I’m looking at two positions, really two players here. I think the majority of Bucs fans would agree that the biggest need is a pass rusher with a high motor and the ability to do more than tango with a tackle. They also need to get better play from the linebacker level. While I love potential, I want to make sure whoever we pick played at a high level at the collegiate level. I think either Ryan Kerrigan or Travis Lewis would be solid selections here, but when I look at the urgency at DE and WLB the choice gets a little easier.

The pick – Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)

21) St. Louis Rams
This team has improved quite a bit on both sides of the football, but defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and the interior of the offensive line are weak spots. I think this guy would be a great addition to a young, up-and-coming defense.

The pick – Travis Lewis (LB, Oklahoma)

22) Indianapolis Colts
Watching Peyton Manning get harassed more than usual demonstrates the need for notable talent upgrades on the offensive line. In addition, the defensive tackle position seems to be an annual need, as does corner depth, as they are seemingly starting their 5th and 6th guys there each year towards the end of the season. Protecting Peyton is job #1.

The pick – Anthony Castonzo (T, Boston College)

23) New York Giants
This team surprised me as much as any this year. Sure they have talent, but they’ve annually given the impression that they don’t want to play for Tom Callaghan, and they fought through a ton of injuries this season. I don’t think you can ever have enough talent in the secondary in this division, and Jonathan Goff hasn’t been a difference maker at MLB. Defensive and offensive tackle are two more spots I’m focusing on.

The pick – Greg Jones (LB, Michigan State)

24) New York Jets
As solid as the Jets’ defense plays as a whole, I think they could use help at every position on that side of the football, especially DE and OLB. I think Santonio Holmes is the only decent receiver they have, so getting another playmaker could go a long way in furthering Mark Sanchez’ development.

The pick – Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)

25) Green Bay Packers
Left tackle, guard, cornerback, outside linebacker, and defensive end strike me as their biggest areas of need. I’d take this guy higher if he was a little bigger. His game is impressive, but I fear he’s going to struggle size-wise at the next level.

The pick – Von Miller (DE/OLB, Texas A&M)

26) San Diego Chargers
There’s not a real pressing need for the Chargers, but they could use depth at cornerback, inside linebacker, and defensive end. I realize that Philip Rivers would be an All Pro QB even with me as his #1 receiver, but if you assume Vincent Jackson isn’t returning in 2011, it wouldn’t be a bad move to acquire a serious downfield threat. Finding an upgrade at RT might be on the task list.

The pick – Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)

27) Baltimore Ravens
This team doesn’t have many needs, but getting better at RT is a must. They also need to make additions at corner and safety. If I didn’t think Ray Lewis could play until he was 75, I’d say they need an ILB as well. If I’m Joe Flacco, I’d like to get another WR to go with Anquan Boldin.

The pick – Gabe Carimi (T, Nebraska)

28) New Orleans Saints
Pass rush help and talent on both sides of Jonathan Vilma are needed.

The pick – JJ Watt (DE, Wisconsin)

29) Philadelphia Eagles
Offensive line, cornerback, and strong safety are sure to be addressed this offseason. I like this guy for the Eagles because I think his strengths of pass protection, mobility, and leadership will fit very well in this scheme.

The pick – Rodney Hudson (G, FSU)

30) Pittsburgh Steelers
Their offensive line needs some work, and improving the talent level at cornerback is a must. I’d also look to add another young body at defensive end.

The pick – Ras-I Dowling (CB, Virginia)

31) Atlanta Falcons
A fine football team, the Falcons need another presence at cornerback and an upgrade over Mike Peterson at weak side linebacker. I’d also look to get a pass rusher if I was drafting for Atlanta. I’m going a little outside the box on this one. Matt Ryan could use another offensive weapon, and despite what he says/thinks, Tony Gonzalez isn’t 24 years old anymore.

The pick – Kyle Rudolph (TE, Notre Dame)

32) New England Patriots
After picking up a defensive lineman with their first pick, I think this one is either a pass rusher or cornerback.

The pick – Jeremy Beal (DE/LB, Oklahoma)

If the Bucs are able to get a pass rusher in the first round, I’m looking at BPA in round two with a focus on LB, CB, TE, and RB (in that order).

Friday, December 10, 2010

2011 NFL Draft - Prospect Rankings

Just wanted to throw out my current draft prospect rankings by position. Each of these players is draft eligible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be declaring for the draft. As in the past, these are my rankings of the available talent, not a reflection of the order I believe they will be selected.

This class will surely come across as disappointing to many fans, especially compared to last year’s. The receiver position figures to be the most talented of the class, while conversely, the offensive line pickings will be much slimmer than other years. Onto the talent.

1 – Andrew Luck (R-So., Stanford)
2 – Ryan Mallett (Jr., Arkansas)
3 – Christian Ponder (Sr., FSU)
4 – Cameron Newton (Jr., Auburn)
5 – Jake Locker (Sr., Washington)
*6 - Blaine Gabbert (Jr., Missouri)
7 - Ricky Stanzi (Sr., Iowa)
8 - Pat Devlin (Sr., Delaware)
9 - Colin Kaepernick (Sr., Nevada)
10 - Andy Dalton (Sr., TCU)
(Edited, appears there's a pretty good chance Gabbert goes pro)

1 – Ryan Williams (R-So., Virginia Tech)
2 – Mark Ingram (Jr., Alabama)
3 – Mikel Leshoure (Jr., Illinois)
4 – Shane Vereen (Jr., California)
5 – DeMarco Murray (Sr., Oklahoma)
6 – Kendall Hunter (Sr., Oklahoma State)
7 – Jordan Todman (Jr., Connecticut)
8 – Daniel Thomas (Sr., Kansas State)
9 – Derrick Locke (Sr., Kentucky)
10 – Noel Devine (Sr., West Virginia)

1 – AJ Green (Jr., Georgia)
2 – Justin Blackmon (R-So., Oklahoma State)
3 – Michael Floyd (Jr., Notre Dame)
4 – Julio Jones (Jr., Alabama)
5 – Ryan Broyles (Jr., Oklahoma)
6 – Torrey Smith, (Jr., Maryland)
7 – Titus Young (Sr., Boise State)
8 – Dwayne Harris (Sr., ECU)
9 – Jon Baldwin (Jr., Pittsburgh)
10 – Jerrel Jernigan (Sr., Troy)
11 – Austin Pettis (Sr., Boise State)

(Alshon Jeffery would rank 3rd on my list if he was draft eligible, and had Greg Childs not sustained a serious patella tendon injury over a month ago, I'd have him just a tad behind Julio Jones. I think Childs has the potential to be 4th best of this group (behind Green, Blackmon, and Jeffery.))

1 – DJ Williams (Sr., Arkansas)
2 – Kyle Rudolph (Jr., Notre Dame)
3 – Lance Kendricks (Sr., Wisconsin)
4 – Virgil Green (Sr., Nevada)
5 – Anthony Miller (Jr., California)
6 – Weslye Saunders (Sr., x-South Carolina)
7 – Rob Housler (Sr., FAU)
8 – Luke Stocker (Sr., Tennessee)
9 – Mike McNeill (Sr., Nebraska)
10 – David Paulson (Jr., Oregon)

1 – Derek Sherrod (Sr., Mississippi State)
2 – Tyron Smith (Jr., USC)
3 – Gabe Carimi (Sr., Wisconsin)
4 – DeMarcus Love (Sr., Arkansas)
5 – Anthony Castonzo (Sr., Boston College)
6 – Joseph Barksdale (Sr., LSU)
7 – Matt Reynolds (Jr., BYU)
8 – Jason Pinkston (Sr., Pittsburgh)
9 – Nate Solder (Sr., Colorado)
10 – Danny Watkins (Sr., Baylor)

1 – Rodney Hudson (Sr., FSU)
2 – Stefen Wisniewski (Sr., Penn State)
3 – Mike Pouncey (Sr., Florida)
4 – Marcus Cannon (Sr., TCU)
5 – Ben Ijalana (Sr., Villanova)
6 – Orlando Franklin (Sr., Miami)
7 – Stephen Schilling (Sr., Michigan)
8 – Kris O’Dowd (Sr., USC)
9 – Clint Boling (Sr., Georgia)
10 – Tim Barnes (Sr., Missouri)

1 – Marcell Dareus (Jr., Alabama)
2 – Nick Fairley (Jr., Auburn)
3 – Stephen Paea (Sr., Oregon State)
4 – Drake Nevis (Sr., LSU)
5 – Jurrell Casey (Jr., USC)
6 – Jared Crick (Jr., Nebraska)
7 – Phil Taylor (Sr., Baylor)
8 – Jerrell Powe (Sr., Mississippi)
9 – Marvin Austin (Sr., UNC)
10 – Jarvis Jenkins (Sr., Clemson)

1 – Da’Quan Bowers (Jr., Clemson)
2 – Robert Quinn (Jr., UNC)
3 – Adrian Clayborn (Sr., Iowa)
4 – Cameron Jordan (Sr., California)
5 – Ryan Kerrigan (Sr., Purdue)
6 – JJ Watt (Jr., Wisconsin)
7 – Allen Bailey (Sr., Miami)
8 – Cameron Heyward (Sr., Ohio State)
9 – Pernell McPhee (Sr., Mississippi State)
10 – Greg Romeus (Sr., Pittsburgh)

1 – Travis Lewis (Jr., Oklahoma)
2 – Jeremy Beal (Sr., Oklahoma)
3 – Akeem Ayers (Jr., UCLA)
4 – Von Miller (Sr., Texas A&M)
5 - Justin Houston (Jr., Georgia)
6 – Bruce Carter (Sr., UNC)
7 – Mark Herzlich (Sr., Boston College)
8 – Mason Foster (Sr., Washington)
9 – Dontay Moch (Sr., Nevada)
10 – Chris Carter (Sr., Fresno State)

1 – Greg Jones (Sr., Michigan State)
2 – Quan Sturdivant (Sr., UNC)
3 – Kelvin Sheppard (Sr., LSU)
4 – Nate Irving (Sr., NC State)
5 – Martez Wilson (Jr., Illinois)
6 – Casey Matthews (Sr., Oregon)
7 – Colin McCarthy (Sr., Miami)

1 – Patrick Peterson (Jr., LSU)
2 – Prince Amukamara (Sr., Nebraska)
3 – Janoris Jenkins (Jr., Florida)
4 – Ras-I Dowling (Sr., Virginia)
5 – Brandon Burton (Jr., Utah)
6 – Brandon Harris (Jr., Miami)
7 – Jimmy Smith (Sr., Colorado)
8 – Rashad Carmichael (Sr., Virginia Tech)
9 – Davon House (Sr., New Mexico State)
10 – Aaron Williams (Jr., Texas)

1 – Rahim Moore (Jr., UCLA)
2 – Deunta Williams (Sr., UNC)
3 – Mark Barron (Jr., Alabama)
4 – Kenny Tate (Jr., Maryland)
5 – Quinton Carter (Sr., Oklahoma)
6 – DeAndre McDaniel (Sr., Clemson)
7 – Jeron Johnson (Sr., Boise State)
8 – Will Hill (Jr., Florida)
9 – Jaiqwan Jarrett (Sr., Temple)
10 – Ahmad Black (Sr., Florida)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NFL Playoff Projections

With 5 weeks remaining in the regular season, here are my projections for the playoffs:

1) Patriots (13-3)
2) Ravens (12-4)
3) Chargers (11-5)
4) Colts (10-6)
5) Jets (13-3)
6) Steelers (11-5)

I think the Patriots win this week's matchup against the Jets, and if they beat the Packers in week 15 (and all else plays out as expected), they could win the division on the 3rd tiebreaker (common opponents - Jets beat Browns but lost to Ravens and Packers; Patriots beat Ravens but lost to Browns). Baltimore beats Pittsburgh this week and only loses one more game (at home vs. Saints) the rest of the way. Next week's Chiefs-Chargers matchup could decide the fate of the West. If San Diego wins and doesn't get upset against either the Raiders or Broncos, they win the division based on the 2nd tiebreaker (division record). The Jets are a scary #5 seed, and the Steelers win a tiebreaker over the Chiefs for the final spots (conference record; Pittsburgh currently 6-2, KC 4-4).

1) Falcons (13-3)
2) Packers (12-4)
3) Eagles (11-5)
4) Rams (8-8)
5) Saints (12-4)
6) Bucs (10-6)

The Falcons have been just about as impressive as I thought they'd be; passable on defense and dangerous, if not dynamic, offensively with a QB who doesn't lose at home. Wrapping up the #1 seed and home field advantage would be huge for the Falcons. I think they beat the Bucs this week and lose only one more time, to the Saints in week 16. If Mike McCarthy is smart, he'll continue to heavily feature 4 wide sets, sit Aaron Rodgers in the shotgun, and let him dissect defenses with his arm and legs. I don't think they lose the rest of the way, and yes, that includes an upset in New England in week 15. Philly's sad showing in Chicago last week has sapped a little of my confidence in that team (especially because I still think the Bears aren't that good), but I've got them losing one the rest of the way (one of their two matchups with Dallas) and winning the important week 15 matchup with the Giants. The Rams go 3-2 the rest of the way, winning on the road at Arizona and Seattle and beating the 49ers at home. That gets them to 8-8 and avoid the embarrassment of making the playoffs with a losing record (not that .500 isn't bad enough). The Saints, like the Jets, are a very dangerous #5 seed. I still think the defending champs can beat anyone on any week. The Bucs close out the year with wins at Washington and at home against the Lions and Seahawks. They lose to the Falcons and Saints. The Bucs get in over the Giants, who lose at Minnesota and Green Bay in addition to the home loss against Philly. After beating the Lions this week, the Bears will go on to lose their last 4 (Patriots, Vikings, Jets, Packers) and provide the Bucs with the window to grab the final playoff spot.

Wild Card Round
Steelers @ Chargers - Chargers
Jets @ Colts - Jets
Bucs @ Eagles - Bucs
Saints @ Rams - Saints

Divisional Round
Jets @ Patriots - Patriots
Chargers @ Ravens - Chargers
Bucs @ Falcons - Falcons
Saints @ Packers - Packers

Conference Championships
Chargers @ Patriots - Patriots beat the Chargers for the second time this year
Packers @ Falcons - Packers win the rematch in Atlanta

Super Bowl
Packers beat Patriots - Aaron Rodgers MVP

I’m sticking with the Packers from my preseason predictions, and in a repeat of Super Bowl XXXI, I’m calling for them emerge victorious against the Patriots. I think they should have won the game last Sunday against the Falcons and, should they meet again in the playoffs, will be the team that benefits more from having faced the other once before.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dumpsville in Dallas

First, I just wanted to mention that the reason I haven’t been posting frequently is because life has me incredibly busy. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, so while I have the time…

Here are some quick thoughts –

So as I guesstimated, Wade Phillips is out in Dallas, and Jason Garrett gets the rest of the season to see if he’s the man for the future. I think he’s going to have a tough time earning the full time gig because the team’s energy vanished when Tony Romo went out with his injury. If we’re to take the league’s MVP award literally, shouldn’t Tony Romo win it? The Cowboys quit on Wade, and I don’t see them turning things back on for the in-house promotion. Next year, if not Gruden (I’m still not convinced he’s coming back to coaching next season), my top pick would be Brian Billick. I remain a huge fan of his football intellect and think he would be a great fit for Dallas. He could certainly co-exist with Jerry Jones, and he’d bring respect and continuity to the position. I haven’t heard/read any rumors about a Billick/Dallas connection, but it would make a lot of sense to me.

Patrick Peterson is still my favorite college football prospect. You could suit him up today in the league, and he’d shut down the majority of the wideouts. A Ronde Barber replacement is needed in Tampa, but EJ Biggers has been impressive in his first full season on the active roster. If he continues his development, I’d be surprised if the Bucs spent their first selection on a corner, but he’d give the Bucs a tremendous 1-2 starting corner duo with Aqib Talib. Talk about playmaking ability.

Andrew Luck (Stanford) is easily the NCAA's top QB prospect in my mind. My favorite parts of his game are his in-play decision making and the control he has over the offense at all times. Conversely, I don’t think anyone’s stock has dropped as substantially as Jake Locker’s. Talk about a blah season by a guy projected by many to be the potential #1 overall pick in the next draft.

Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) looks like a future top 5 pick. Assuming he gets his head on straight and doesn’t can behave off the field, there’s no limit to his potential. He exhibits tremendous body control for a guy his size, is strong with long arms, and has elite RAC skills. He makes highlight plays every week. I’m high on AJ Green (Georgia) but not much at all on Jon Baldwin, the big dude from Pittsburgh. Another guy I really like is Greg Childs (Arkansas). He’s another impressive RAC guy. There is no wasted movement in his game. He realizes his size and uses his strength and aggressiveness to get extra yards. Dwayne Harris (ECU) and Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) are a couple of lesser known talents who make a ton of plays in the open field.

Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson) was in my preseason top 3 at DE (with Adrian Clayborn (Iowa) and Robert Quinn (UNC)), and he might leap to the top of the list if he continues his dominant junior season. The beast has 12 sacks through 9 games and is exhibiting all of the skills necessary to become a prime time NFL player. Bowers has ideal size/speed for the position and has a really aggressive style of play. He uses his hands, leverage, and upper body strength well in shedding blocks. I’m also impressed with is run defending ability from the RE position. His consistent strong and quick first step stand out. Big fan of this guy.

Marcell Dareus (Alabama) would be my #1 interior guy if the Bucs needed one next year. The guy is an athletic bowling ball. His plus explosion and lateral quickness make him an elite talent. I think he has the potential to be a dominant line of scrimmage defender.

So far, I’m not terribly impressed with the potential class of linebackers (inside or out). I still think Barrett Ruud needs to be replaced for this defense to take the necessary step to the next level, but I don’t foresee a ton of options for the job next year. One guy I like is Nate Irving (NC State). He has a big motor, impressive range, and likes to attack the line of scrimmage, something we’re not getting from our current MLB. Irving missed last year due to a serious car accident, but he’s coming back strong.

Way to go Buster Posey! As a Dodger fan there are 29 other teams I’d rather see win the World Series than the Giants, but I’m obviously happy for the former Nole. Buster hit the ground running in San Francisco upon his call up; seamlessly taking over the pitching staff and establishing himself as a key piece of the middle of a championship lineup. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win Rookie of the Year. Carlos Gonzalez made me look good with a huge second half and should be front and center in the MVP discussion. I think Joey Votto will get it, but Gonzalez should finish second at worst.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Woe is Wade!

1-5 record
NFL's 2nd highest player payroll ($146,401,600)
Tony Romo out (likely) for the year
Jerry Jones as owner

Wade Phillips will be lucky to last until next Sunday. He was almost certain to be fired at the end of the year, and Jerry might decide to use the final 10 games to see if Jason Garrett is the man to lead this team next year. If he's not...

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