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Milwaukee Brewers Recap: 22 Games In

If the ramble I am about to go on presents itself later on in the year, I will break out statistics and give better reasons, but for now the following statement comes from a gut feeling after watching the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at Miller Park : they have a legitimate shot at winning the NL Central.

I know it sounds crazy and I feel a little taken back that I am able to make this statement, especially in a division that hosts the red-hot Cardinals, the defending champ Cubs, the pitcher-perfect Pirates (I know, that was corny), the up-and-coming Reds, and the veteran Astros. Every once in a while, (I might make it a once a week thing on strotty.wordpress.com) I will just go on somewhat of a rant that does not have a ton of stats in it. It will be based on gut feelings and whatever is at the top of my head at the time. So without further adieu, in the first ever Strotty rant, here’s why I think the Milwaukee Brewers can be on top of the NL Central standings at the end of the year:

They are proving early that they can win in close games (9-6 in games decided by 3 runs or less). The bullpen was extremely shaky going into the season and couldn’t get anyone out the first couple weeks.

Since then, they have been lights out and have been throwing strikes at a great rate. Mark DiFelice has been stellar, Trevor Hoffman is healthy, Todd Coffey is the perfect set-up man, and everyone else is calming down.

The starting rotation was laughable to many after the losses of Ben Sheets and C.C. Sabathia, but Yovani Gallardo and Braden Looper are quickly making Brewers fans forget about them.

Gallardo, since his blowup against Cincinnati, is 2-0 and has given up two earned runs in 23 innings. Oh yeah, and has a 25/3 strikeout ratio over that three game span. This year’s Cole Hamels anyone?

The Brewers have won all four starts from Braden Looper, as he stands with a 2-0 record. Manny Parra is 0-4 on the year but has pitched just one time at home where his ERA was considerably lower last year (3.41 compared to 5.70 away from Miller Park).

Parra’s next two starts will be at home and hopefully he can get some confidence back that he had early last year. Jeff Suppan’s control was been A TON better tonight as he did not issue a walk in 6.1 innings. He fell behind in some counts but used his defense instead of giving out free passes.

We can only hope that the opening day starter will keep that control. Dave Bush has three quality starts in this early season and has pitched fine for a fifth starter and will continue to do so as we should see numbers similar to last years.

As if the pitching for the Brewers has not been good enough, as a whole the hitting for the Brewers has been excellent as well. Staying true to last year’s form, the batting average is down but the power is up and has led to good numbers for the Crew.

The Brewers are fifth in the National League in slugging, tied for first in home runs, and despite being 11th in batting average, are seventh in on base percentage. Rickie Weeks is putting up stellar numbers and I do not think it is out of question to consider him an all star this year…remember I said that.

Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron have been two big reasons for the Brewers success this year.

Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron have been two big reasons for the Brewers success this year.

Corey Hart has become much more disciplined at the plate as seen by his walks. Last year, Hart walked 27 times all last year and already has 12 this year. One would think this number would not be high with Ryan Braun and Fielder behind him, but his patience has gone a long way and has helped the offense.

Braun has been incredibly streaky but is still putting up all star numbers and gets the job done on a given night. Fielder has struggled and one can hope that he gets out of his funk, especially against left handers. Mike Cameron has been the big surprise in the lineup this year, hitting .333 on the year and coming up with big hit after big hit.

If Cameron does not get the award for surprise hitter of the year, Bill Hall is a fine candidate as well. Known for his solid hitting against lefties, Hall has once again dominated the southpaws with a .455 batting average against them. Batting in front of Jason Kendall will not get him many good pitches to hit, but he has taken advantage of the ones he does get.

Look, there is a very good possibility that the Brewers do not win the Central this year and I am well aware of that. It’s just that there a few things that I see that make me believe.

First, I would be hard-pressed to find a team that has more fun playing during a game than the Brewers do, and also a team that can turn it on during crunch time. They never panic or try to do more than they are expected to do as individual players.

The defense has been stellar this year, Bill Hall especially, and much credit can be given to Willie Randolph for that. Basically having two managers on the bench is huge for the Brewers and it has shown. Speaking of managers, Ken Macha is starting to get the feel of the National League style and it has translated into wins.

I would like to see more aggresive baserunning like when the Brewers stole four bases on opening day, but now I am just getting picky.

It will be interesting to see how this team does in the long run but the core of the team is playing great baseball right now and it has them feeling pretty good about their position in the NL Central. Only time will tell…

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April 30, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB | , , | 1 Comment

5 Things the Bulls Need To Do To Take Down the Celtics

In one of the best playoff series I have seen in quite some time, the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics have matched up in a series that is almost bound to go to seven games. It has to, right?

It would only be fair for this seesaw battle to go as long as it could with a couple more overtimes thrown in, a few more Kevin Garnett F-bombs to the Chicago bench, a few more Derrick Rose unbelievable drives, and a couple more clutch shots from Paul Pierce.

In a crucial game five, Boston won a crazy game with a contoversial ending, with a non-flagrant foul call on Brad Miller. Say what you will, whether you believed Miller should have recieved two shots and the ball or not, but the fact of the matter is that the Bulls need to win game six or they will watch the Celtics celebrate on the United Center floor.

After watching all five of these games, I have come up with the five most important keys for the Bulls to complete in order to win the next game and then the series itself.

1. Keep the ball out of Rajan Rondo’s hands

Ever since Kevin Garnett went down, Rajan Rondo has been the new floor leader for the Celtics, and has done an outstanding job in the series thus far, averaging a triple double.

The fact of the matter is this key could have been titled “PLAY DEFENSE” and I would not have needed an explanation. Boston has been able to get off any shot they have wanted with ease, with Chicago’s defense nowhere to be found.

Chicago’s rebounds stats have been fantastic but I am starting to think it is because they are crashing the boards too much. Back to Rondo, he is the only guard that Boston has capable of running the point.

Stephon Marbury still looks lost on the court and has not meshed well and Tony Allen does not deserve to be on the court at all. Eddie House is a great role player and has taken the role of “James Posey-lite”, but will not run the offense in any positive way.

Rajan Rondo has taken over the series and Bulls will need to slow him down if they want to win Game 6.

Rajan Rondo has taken over the series and Bulls will need to slow him down if they want to win Game 6.

The fact is that Derrick Rose needs to clamp down on defense and, off of screens, the Bulls must double Rondo and let Glen Davis or Kendrick Perkins beat them from 17 feet out.

Rondo has penetrated the Bulls defense way too much and it needs to be cut down or the Celtics will continue to get shots at will.

2. Reduce the Minutes of Tyrus Thomas

-41. That is Tyrus Thomas’s +/- in the five games against the Celtics in the playoffs.

I am not saying that Thomas needs to be benched all the way and see no minutes, but other than blocks he is not contributing much to the team and is being overmatched by Perkins and Davis.

Thomas gives up way too much in the post and, while he is averaging over three blocks per game, gives up easy baskets too many times. Offensively, with the exception of overtime of game one, he has been average and really has not added anything more than Joakim Noah or Brad Miller could not on second chance points.

He is averaging 28.1 minutes per game and this number needs to go down to about 19 or 20. Brad Miller should receive these extra eight or nine minutes as I think he gives the Bulls a veteran presence on the court nowhere to be found in the starting lineup.

3. More Isolations for Derrick Rose

In this series, Derrick Rose has played his best basketball, A) on the fast break and B) from the top of the key on an isolation.

As quick as Rajan Rondo is in the passing lanes and on pickpockets, his man-t0-man defense is not as good and Rose is as quick as they come. In the series, Rose’s outside shooting has struggled and his shots inside the paint have decreased in attempts.

Getting Rose to drive more will also free up more opportunites for Noah and Thomas to crash the boards and get second chance points, something that has also been key in the series.

4. Keep the fast pace game and outrun the Celtics

At the beginning of the series, I was absolutely befuddled that the Bulls were trying to outrun such a good defensive team in the Celtics. I figured that these low percentage, outside shots would lead to blowout wins for Boston, but I was wrong.

With young, athletic, big men Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, the Bulls seem to tire less than the Celtics do in games. While the Bulls really only go seven deep, they have a nice rotation going and are able to run the break.

In the Bulls wins this series, the teams have averaged just under 112 points per team per game. When the Bulls lose, teams are averaging 106 points per team per game. With the Bulls lack of a post presence and inability to shake the pesky Celtics defenders, shots off the break have made this series close and they must continue to do so to win it all.

Chicago has averaged 16.2 fast break points in the series as compared to Boston’s 13.

5. Keep the Celtics Out of the Paint

In a way, this key sums up a couple different ones, but I will give this its own due. Boston has averaged 46.4 points in the paint in the series, and those points have come way too easy.

I liked what the Bulls did on a few possessions by bringing a guard around the back side to swipe the ball out of Kendrick Perkins’ hand, which led to steals and those all too important fast break points.

They must continue to do so because Glen Davis thinks he has a better jump shot than he really does and Rondo does not have much confidence in that shot. Rondo has gone to the hoop way too easy in the series, so making him take jump shots will lead to less points and less confidence for the Celtics’ PG.

Other than Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, there are not a lot of good jump shooters on the Celtics roster.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, NBA | , , , , | 1 Comment

2009 Green Bay Packers Draft: What I Like and Don’t Like

As the 2009 Green Bay Packers draft came to a close, I had to say I was more excited about this team than I had been since the 2008 NFC Championship Game.  Some needs were addressed while others were looked over as not as pressing, but in the end the Packers came out with one of the better drafts of any team we saw over the weekend.  However, it has always been my theory that there is no such thing as a good or a bad draft pick on the exact day of the draft.  In 2002, the Lions were applauded for their selections of Joey Harrington, running back Luke Staley, and offensive lineman Victor Rogers.  Who?  The point is that no one knows who is going to be good for which team, so there is no point in grading a team’s draft or saying what was a good pick.  Rather, I am going to break down the Packers draft in terms of what I liked and what I didn’t like about each one of their picks.  This is helpful because if someone liked the pick, they can relate to it but also see why some would not like the selection, and vice versa.  No grades.  No thumbs up or down.  Just the good and the bad of the 2009 Packers draft

9.  B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

What I Liked: Raji was the obvious pick in this situation as the Packers move to a 3-4 scheme next year.  We have seen all throughout the NFL what a good nose tackle can do for a defense that plays the 3-4 scheme, and Raji will not be an exception to this rule.  He will be able to come in right away and start at the nose tackle position and will succeed.  He eats up blockers and is a better pass rusher than most give him credit for.  He has a high motor and, as was mentioned before, was clearly the right pick in this situation.

B.J. Raji will start at nose tackle from Day 1 for the Packers.

B.J. Raji will start at nose tackle from Day 1 for the Packers.

What I Didn’t Like: Where is Ryan Pickett going to play?  Head Coach Mike McCarthy says that Pickett will move to the defensive end position, but I am not sure if I like how that is going to work out.  Pickett is your prototypical nose tackle and he is just a tad bit smaller than Raji is (by seven pounds).  That seven pounds is not enough to turn him into a 3-4 defensive end and I do not think he can succeed there.  If he is not a threat on the outside, it will not open up things for our rushing linebackers on the end.

#26. Clay Matthews, OLB, USC

What I Liked: Other than picking up another first round talent in Matthews, I loved that we addressed the need opposite of Aaron Kampman at the outside linebacker position.  Brady Poppinga was penciled in as the starter before the draft, and after the Packers passed on Brian Orakpo and Aaron Maybin, the position was still very much an issue.  In Matthews, they get a hard-nosed athlete that comes from a long line of successful football family members.  He will start right away and has to be considered an early candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

What I Didn’t Like: How much did we give up for this guy again?  Picks number 41, 73, and 83 for this slot and pick number 162.  According to the NFL Draft Pick Value Chart, the picks that we received totaled 727.6 and we gave up 890.  Those stats do not lie and this really shows how much Thompson wanted Matthews.  Also, Matthews started just one season at Southern Cal so he is a little bit of a one-hit wonder.  While we did not need as much depth in this year’s draft, we still could have received more in this trade.

#109. T.J. Lang, OL, Eastern Michigan

Why I Liked It: True to Ted Thompson, he goes with another versatile, small-school offensive lineman in the middle of the draft.  I had Lang as a third round pick and the value to get him here was very good.  He will probably play right tackle in the NFL as I do not think he is fast enough to play on the left side of the line.   With Mark Tauscher looking more and more like he will not come back, Lang should have a shot at obtaining the starting spot.

Why I Didn’t Like It: One of the stories of this year’s draft was offensive lineman falling and this was the case even in the fourth round.  I thought an even bigger steal was out there on the draft board in Notre Dame’s safety David Bruton, but Ted Thompson seemed content with the safety situation throughout the whole draft, so Lang was the pick.  Not to much to complain on picking him.

145. Quinn Johnson, FB, LSU

Why I Liked It: I didn’t know much about Johnson coming into the draft other than he was one of the top fullbacks in the class.  After the Packers selected him, I can see why the Packers drafted him to come in and compete for a starting gig.  Johnson absolutely destroys linebackers and, playing in the SEC, that is quite an accomplishment.  Johnson will not give you much more than a lead blocker, but one the goal line he will be vital and it was a good pick up.

Why I Didn’t Like It: Any time a team has two solid fullbacks on their team (Korey Hall, John Kuhn), you don’t expect them to go back to that position, but the Packers did.  While Johnson was a fine draft pick, he will have to fight to make the team and his one-dimensional style of play makes him questionable.  With guys like TE Cornelius Ingram and OT Xavier Fulton on the board, this pick will have to be re-evaluated later.

162. Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina

Why I Liked It: The value of this pick was unbelievable, as Meredith was a second round pick in most mocks, going as early as the first in others.  With the aging left tackle Chad Clifton looking at his best years in the rear view mirror, a replacement is necessary and Meredith gives a great body to work with, along with quick feet and a smart mind.  Competition on the offensive line is never a bad thing and Meredith brings the potential to start.

Why I Didn’t Liked It: Did Ted Thompson really see something that 31 other team missed on?  Meredith has all the physical tools to be great but a lot of character concerns are raised.  In particular, some sources were saying that Meredith was uncoachable even though he denies those reports.  While it seems like Meredith will have a chip on his shoulder next year, that chip better stay in line or else he will be gone just as fast as he was snatched up in the fifth round.

182. Jarius Wynn, DE, Georgia

Why I Liked It: At first, I was mad at the selection of Wynn because I had never heard of him and he just seemed like an undersized defensive end.  Then I realized that these are the picks that Ted Thompson usually turns into gems and I eased up a bit.  Wynn had two sacks in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State and really came on strong at the end of the year.  He will have to bulk up a little bit in order to play defensive end in the 3-4, but could be a late round steal.

Why I Didn’t Like It: There was SO much value on the board at this point in the draft, and some of the bigger names were still out there that I would have liked to see over Wynn.  Cedric Peerman, the running back out of Virginia, was a steal at this point and we passed on him for whatever reason.  Wynn is a wait-and-see prospect but the Packers staff must have liked something.

Brandon Underwood will make an instant impact on the special teams unit.

Brandon Underwood will make an instant impact on the special teams unit.

187. Brandon Underwood, CB, Cincinnati

Why I Liked It: Any time Mel Kiper likes a pick, I have to like it a little bit.  Underwood was one of three Bearcat cornerbacks to come out to the draft this year and Kiper claimed that Underwood was the most underrated.  He has the ability to play both the cornerback and safety position and is a stud on special teams from everything I hear.

Why I Didn’t Like It: Coye Francies from San Jose State was still available when Underwood was taken but Thompson must have valued his versatility very highly.  It’s hard to find problems with a sixth round pick, especially one with a lot of upside but I probably would have liked to see Francies at this point in the draft.

218. Brad Jones, LB, Colorado

Why I Liked It: Jones as the second player that I had no idea on in Thompson’s draft, but he tested out very well at the combine and at his pro day so he has a lot of upside to him.  Also, Dom Capers knows what he is doing in putting the 3-4 scheme together so that gives me hope that he will have a shot to make the team at best.  More than likely, he will be moved to the practice squad or cut by the time the pre-season rolls around.

Why I Didn’t Like It: One of my favorite players of the draft was still available at this point, and that was Rashad Jennings from Liberty.  Thompson signed a running back after the draft in Tyrell Sutton, so he was obviously thinking about the position.  Jennings brings a ton of upside and I think he will be a starter in the NFL one day.  Jones led his team in sacks and hurries last year, but I doubt he can make the transition to the NFL.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Draft | , | Leave a comment

Mark Strotman’s Packers Draft Contest Picks

The first player selected by the Packers in the 2009 NFL draft will be: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

Reasons and explanation: Really trying to shake things up, as I think Ted Thompson is going to surprise us all on draft day.  Moreno is the most complete back in the draft and Thompson believes he is destined for greatness.  At pick number 12 or 13 (where I believe we will be trading to), Moreno is the BPA and all the studs are really gone and the talent level is the same from here to pick 25 or so.  Moreno looks like a silly pick now but our running back situation is eerily similar to that of the Vikings situation when they drafted Peterson.  If Thompson really believes Moreno can be that good, why wouldn’t he draft him?  Wells, Raji, and Orakpo have been mentioned with the Packers this whole draft, but one of the best athletes who has flown under the radar has been Moreno, and I really think he could be the pick.

The second player selected by the Packers in the 2009 NFL draft will be: Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State

Reasons and explanation: The talent of rush outside linebackers, while more important than DE’s, is much deeper later in this draft so Thompson goes biggest need.  Go back and look at most of Thompson’s drafts.  The first pick is best player available while the second pick is biggest need.  Gilbert can come into the rotation right away and provide depth for a team that is going to need it in the 3-4.

Tie-breaker questions:

Will the Packers make a draft-day trade involving their first round No. 9 pick? (answer “yes” or “no”)Yes, happens all the time and someone is going to want to overpay with draft picks to get the spot and Ted will be more than willing to do so.  Denver or Washington will trade up to get Sanchez, Raji (Denver), or an offensive lineman that slips (Washington).

Will the Packers third selection in the draft be an offensive player or a defensive player? (answer “offense” or “defense”) Offense, guard

Will the Packers use any of their draft choices (day one or two) to take a punter? (answer “yes” or “no”) No, can’t see Ted wasting one of his oh-so-valued picks on a punter.  I like what we have on the roster right now.

Additional comments or predictions:

It happens every year, and this year will be no different: we will all be mad at Ted Thompson for his picks today.  I almost wrote a full article on this, but I guess I can just put it here.  The general public sees Youtube videos, mock drafts from experts, and looks up the occasional combine stats on players.  General managers, Ted Thompson included (as hard as it is to believe), has been watching countless hours of game tape on players, not just highlight reels.  The Packers have interviewed the player they are going to pick and know what kind of guy he is.  They have most likely had him in for a private workout.  So when you say you “don’t like a guy” or “this guy is a reach”, I’d ask you to take a look back and think about whether all the “scouting” people do gives them the right to say that.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy one of the most important drafts for the Packers in a long time.

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Draft | | Leave a comment

Bulls vs. Celtics: There are Two Point Guards in the Series, Right?

Before game three at the United Center, staff littered the stadium with roses in a play on words for Derrick Rose, just one day after receiving word that he had won the Rookie of the Year award.

Rose became the third Bull to win the award, joining Elton Brand and Michael Jordan in some pretty stellar company. Before the game, he was given his trophy by David Stern and raised is above his head to a standing ovation from the home crowd, all dressed in red.

48 minutes later, Rajon Rondo had given Rose a lesson in how to play the point in a playoff game.

In game one, Rose was stunning as he matched Wilt Chamberlain’s rookie debut record with 36 points, and also added 11 assists in a 108-105 win over the Boston Celtics. Facebook statuses and Chicago newspapers alike were booming with praises for Rose and calling for his Rookie of the Year award to be replaced with an MVP award.

Two games later, I am left wondering if he is even the best point guard in the series.

Seemingly going unnoticed, Rondo has led the Celtics back from the game one defecit to retake home court and a 2-1 lead with one more game at the United Center. For the series, Rondo is averaging 22.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 4.0 steals, 2.0 turnovers, and shooting 50 percent from the field. Every one of those stats lead the Celtics in the playoffs. Tell me again why we are talking about Rose?

Yes, I am in the Midwest and am going to hear the praises of Rose, but even the ESPN outlets are giving the praise to Rose for being the rookie that is going to take the Bulls past the defending champs for the second time in three years (the Bulls knocked off Miami in 2007).

But where is the love for Rondo, the other point guard that has completely taken his game to a new level and become the leader of the Celtics with Garnett on the side?

Rajon Rondo has outperformed Derrick Rose in their playoff matchup, but for some reason is not getting the same amount of praise for it.

Rajon Rondo has outperformed Derrick Rose in their playoff matchup, but for some reason is not getting the same amount of praise for it.

I realize he is not KG, cussing out the Bulls bench any time TNT shows him. He isn’t sharpshooter Ray Allen despite being two for four from downtown in the series, and he isn’t the veteran Paul Pierce who seemingly gets it done every night. No, he is the outsider looking in on the Boston Three Party, but make no mistake: he is the engine that makes it run.

Meanwhile, you have Derrick Rose who is just getting taken to school by the Celtics defense now that they know what kind of player Rose is trying to be. In game one, Rose was 12-19 from the field, with 13 of those attempts coming in the paint primarily on drives.

In games two and three, Rose has taken a combined 12 shots in the lane and has had to rely on his jump shot, which he clearly does not have down. Anyone that watched game one knows the potential Rose has and he was unstoppable that game.

But he isn’t there just yet and the last two games have showed it. Whether Rose got a little too cocky or the Celtics put the clamp down, Rose has looked awful in the last two games and tried to do way too much on offense. Rose is averaging 4.7 turnovers for the playoffs and a lot of those turnovers have come from Rondo defense.

Speaking of which, aren’t these two guarding each other? Rondo is down two inches in height on Rose but has proved that is hardly a problem, leading the league in steals for the first three games of the playoffs. He has been quicker than Rose, more physical than Rose, and definitely more in control.

Rose, like every other guard for the Bulls, has not wanted it on defense. Rose has just one steal in three games and has let Rondo get most any shot he wants. The Bulls have failed to switch on screens and have overall been lazy. Joakim Noah needs to sit down with Ben Gordon and Rose and let them know that the defending champs can do more than clamp down on defense: they can score, too.

Yes, Rondo has been in the league for three years. He has played and won an NBA Finals game and has a championship under his belt. He is playing with two of the best outside shooters in the league on his team and a couple of great inside players.

But he has become the leader of this team and, if the series were to end today, he would be the MVP. Rose is a rookie that was thrown into a leadership role and has done an unbelievable job dealing with the stress, pressure, and emotions that come with it.

He also has not come close to matching what Rondo has done this series. It’s true that Rondo has not won a game by himself in this series like Rose did in game one, but don’t think for one second that if Stephon Marbury was running the show in game two the result would have been the same.

In three years, I hope that Derrick Rose is lighting it up and putting on a show at the United Center in the NBA Finals. As for tomorrow and the rest of the series, let’s focus on the point guard that is single-handedly showing Rose up and getting no credit for it: Rajon Rondo.

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, NBA | , | 2 Comments

Brewers Bullpen Settling Down After Rough Start

Baseball fans hear it every year: bats win you games in April and bullpens win you games in October.  Unfortuantely for the Brewers, bullpens have not helped the cause of winning games in April, either.  Currently, the Brewers bullpen sports a 4.65 ERA, which going into today was good for 17th in the league.  While the Brewers certainly do not want to be at that spot at the end of the year, the improvement of the bullpen from the beginning of the year (5.73 through the first two series) has dramatically improved and has stepped up in big situations and succeeded.  If you want to take out David Riske’s inning while playing with an injury that might require Tommy John surgery and Jorge Julio’s stats (mop-up duty), the Brewers bullpen sports a very solid 3.65 ERA that would rank 10th in the league.  Alas, Riske and Julio count in the statbook but let’s take a look at each member of the pen and see how they have faired 15 games into the season by rank.

1. Mark Difelice, 8.0 IP, 1.13 ERA, 10.13 K/9

It was a tough decision to put Difelice or Todd Coffey here, but I went with Difelice because I think he has been more consistent and, outside of the Mets game, has been put in tougher situations.  Difelice is finally getting his chance to shine in the pros and is making the most of it.  Last year, in 19 innings, DiFelice sported a 2.84 ERA and struck out 20 batters.  This year, he has picked up right where he left off and in seven appearances has allowed a run in just one of them.  Manager Ken Macha has made DiFelice the first reliever out of the bullpen and should continue to keep that role as long as he keeps pitching this way.

Todd Coffey has been outstanding this year, highlighted by a 2.2 inning save against New York.

Todd Coffey has been outstanding this year, highlighted by a 2.2 inning save against New York.

2. Todd Coffey, 10.2 IP, 0.84 ERA, 1.13 WHIP

Coffey could have easily been in the top spot and is more like 1b, but regardless he has pitched outstanding this year.  General Manager Doug Melvin was excited when Coffey went on waivers last year and he has not disappointed.  The highlight for Coffey, and maybe even the bullpen, was when Coffey relieved Mark DiFelice in the 7th inning of a game against New York.  The bases were loaded with one out and Carlos Delgado was at the plate, with the Mets down by one.  Coffey fielded a tough grounder and started a 1-2-3 double play that got the Brewers out of the jam and then proceeded to finish the eighth and ninth innings to pick up the save.  He also dropped down a sacrifice bunt in that game that scored an insurance run for the Brewers in the ninth inning.  His signature sprint to the mound is funny to watch, but once he hits the mound it’s all business.

3. Mitch Stetter, 4.1 IP, 4.15 ERA, lefties batting 1-10 against him

With the exception of R.J. Swindle who has pitched just once, Stetter is the only left-hander in the Brewers bullpen and has done an outstanding job against left-handers.  With lefties batting just .100 against him, he has become a great specialist just like Brian Shouse was last year. The four walks in 4.3 innings might be a problem, especially if he is asked to get a lefty out, but if he is able to keep his control then he will continue to succeed.  The good news is that he is already in the record book for serving up Gary Sheffield’s 500th home run.  Righties are batting .500 against him (4-8).

4. Seth McClung, 8.2 IP, 5.19 ERA, 8 K

As it has been for most Brewers pitchers this year, McClung’s control has struggled and, because of it, his ERA is up.  McClung was pegged as a starter before the addition of Braden Looper but has since become the long reliever of the bullpen.  Half of his appearances have had him go more than an inning, but he has walked a batter in all six of those appearances.  After giving up a run in his first three games, he has since settled down and gone scoreless in two of his last three.  He will important all year for the Brewers as a spot starter, just as he was last year.

5. Carlos Villanueva, 8.0 IP, 6.75 ERA, one win

Villanueva was thrown into the closer’s role when Trevor Hoffman went down at the end of spring training and it has clearly messed with him a little.  With two losses and a blown save on the year , no one will be happier to see Hoffman back than Villanueva.  He has settled down some with two straight scoreless outings, both non-save situations.  Once Hoffman is back, which could be as soon as Sunday, Villanueva will go back to middle relief where he will fare much better than the closer position.  Interestingly enough, all of Villanueva’s allowed runs have come at Miller Park.

6. R.J. Swindle, 1.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 2 K

Swindle was activated when David Riske went to the 15-day DL and should go back down when Trevor Hoffman is ready to return.  Swindle added another left arm to the Brewers bullpen and saw his first appearance in the blowout loss to the Phillies, where he surrendered a run in 1.1 inning.  Swindle is someone to look for when the rosters move to 40, as he posted a 3.17 ERA in his first 13 outing in the Venuezlean Winter League.

7. Jorge Julio, 5.0 IP, 10.80 ERA, 3 K

Julio came on board this off-season with not a whole lot of positives on his resume and certainly has not added to it this year.  Before the collapse against Philadelphia (0.2 IP, 4 ER), his ERA was a reasonable 4.18, but I am starting to think that the blowups in Philadelphia are more of what we are going to see down the line.  If he can stay healthy he will no doubt give the Brewers innings, but will he give them good innings?

The return of Trevor Hoffman will undoubtebly help the play of Carlos Villanueva, as well as the bullpen as a whole.

The return of Trevor Hoffman will undoubtebly help the play of Carlos Villanueva, as well as the bullpen as a whole.

8. David Riske, 1 IP, 18.00 ERA, o K

Unfortuanetly, there is a rumor out there that Riske might need Tommy John surgery and would obviously miss the rest of the season.  Despite his poor outings in spring training, Riske was still a reliable arm and one of the better pitchers in the Brewers bullpen.  He will try to rehab it but time will tell if he is able to get back on the mound this year.

INC. Trevor Hoffman

Hoffman should return this week from an oblique strain, and it can not come soon enough for the Brewers.  Hoffman coming back will give the Brewers a true closer, move Villanueva back to middle relief, and provide confidence in the bullpen—something that has been lacking all year.

The Brewers have gone up against arguably the three best offenses in the National League in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia so that is a reason for the struggle in the bullpen.  Still, I look for continued improvement as the season goes on, the pen gets into a rhythm, and Hoffman comes back.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB | , , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay’s Wolf vs. Thompson in Drafts

STOP!  Before you continue reading this article, please realize that in no way, shape, or form do I believe that Ted Thompson was or is a better general manager than the amazing Ron Wolf.

Wolf is second to none and one of the best to ever have the title of general manager, regardless of sport or team. Bringing in Reggie White and trading for Brett Favre are arguably the two biggest moves in Packers franchise history, and both were because of Wolf’s actions and the reason the Vince Lombardi Trophy came back home to Titletown, USA in 1997.

However, two things prompted me to write the following article and do the following research I hope you will take a look at.

The first was that I really wanted to see how good of a drafter Ron Wolf was. Everyone knows how great he was finding talent and making wise financial moves, but how good?

The other question I wanted to answer was in regards to Wolf, how good has Ted Thompson really been on hitting in the draft? We all know he loves to build through the draft, but has he done it as well as Wolf did?

Please realize, all I am looking at are the players that each general manager drafted on draft day. Free agency does not count, re-signing does not count, and neither do trades.

A “good” pick is someone that played consistently with their expectations as well as the round they were drafted in. A great player is someone who exceeded those expectations.

Also remember that all stats and decisions are based solely on what each player did with the Packers. Future stats were not taken into consideration for these picks.

RON WOLF’S DRAFTS

1992 Draft
3. Robert Brooks, WR: Seven seasons with Green Bay, five starting, 306 receptions, 32 touchdowns
4. Edgar Bennett, RB: Five seasons with Green Bay, four starting, 3353 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
6. Mark Chmura, TE: Seven years with Green Bay, five starting, 188 receptions, 17 touchdowns (great)

13 picks (2 good picks, 1 great pick)

1993 Draft
1. Wayne Simmons, LB: Five years with Green Bay, three starting, 175 tackles
1. George Teague, CB: Three years, all starting, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries
3. Earl Dotson, OL: 10 seasons with Green Bay, six starting (great)
6. Doug Evans: Five seasons with Green Bay, four starting, 12 interceptions (great)

9 picks (2 good picks, 2 great picks)

1994 Draft
1. Aaron Taylor, OL: Three years with Green Bay, all starting
5. Dorsey Levens, RB: Eight seasons with Green Bay, three starting, 3937 yards, 28 touchdowns (great)
6. Bill Schroeder: Five seasons with Green Bay, three starting, 225 receptions, 20 touchdowns (great)

9 picks (1 good pick, 2 great picks)

1995 Draft
1. Craig Newsome, CB: Four seasons with Green Bay, three starting, 4 interceptions
3. William Henderson, FB: 12 seasons with Green Bay, 320 receptions, 14 touchdowns (great)

3. Brian Williams, LB: Six seasons with Green Bay, four starting, 252 tackles

3. Antonio Freeman, WR: Eight seasons with Green Bay, six starting, 431 receptions, 57 touchdowns (great)

5. Travis Jervey: Four seasons with Green Bay, special teams contributor
7. Adam Timmerman, OL: Four seasons with Green Bay, three starting (great)

10 picks (3 good picks, 3 great picks)

1996 Draft
3. Mike Flanagan, OL: Eight seasons with Green Bay, four starting
3. Tyrone Williams, CB: Seven seasons with Green Bay, six starting, 19 interceptions
6. Marco Rivera, OL: Eight seasons with Green Bay, seven starting

8 Picks (1 good pick, 2 great picks)

1997 Draft
1. Ross Verba, OL: Four years with Green Bay, all starting
2. Darren Sharper, FS: Eight years with Green Bay, seven starting, 36 interceptions (great)

8 picks (1 good pick, 1 great pick)

1998 Draft
1. Vonnie Holliday, DE: Five years with Green Bay, all starting, 32 sacks
2. Mike Wahle, OL: Seven years with Green Bay, five starting
5. Corey Bradford, WR: Four years with Green Bay, 71 receptions

8 picks (3 good picks)

1999 Draft
1. Antuan Edwards, CB: Five years with Green Bay, seven interceptions
3. Mike McKenzie, CB: Seven years with Green Bay, five starting, 15 interceptions
3. Cletidus Hunt, DT: Six years with Green Bay, four starting, 17 sacks, 119 tackles
4. Josh Bidwell, P: Four years with Green Bay, all starting
7. Donald Driver, WR: Ten years with Green Bay, seven years, 577 catches, 43 touchdowns (great)

12 picks (4 good picks, 1 great pick)

2000 Draft
1. Bubba Franks, TE: Eight years with Green Bay, seven starting, 256 receptions, 32 touchdowns
2. Chad Clifton, OL: Nine seasons with Green bay, all starting (great)
4. Na’il Diggs, LB: Six years with Green Bay, all starting, 311 tackles
5. Kabeer Gbaja Biamila, DE: Nine seasons with Green Bay, five starting, 74.5 sacks (great)
7. Mark Tauscher, OL: Nine seasons, all starting (great)

13 picks (2 good picks, 3 great picks)

TED THOMPSON’S DRAFTS

2005 Draft
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB: Four years with Green Bay, one starting, 28 TD passes (great)
2. Nick Collins, FS: Four years with Green Bay, all starting, 11 interceptions, 4 touchdowns
4. Brady Poppinga, LB: Four years with Green Bay, three starting, 158 tackles

11 picks (2 good picks, 1 great pick)

2006 Draft
1. AJ Hawk, LB: Three years with Green Bay, all starting, 229 tackles
2. Daryn Colledge, OL: Three years with Green Bay, all starting (great)
2. Greg Jennings, WR: Three years, all starting, 24 receiving touchdowns (great)
3. Jason Spitz, OL: Three years with Green Bay, all starting
4. Will Blackmon, PR/KR: Three years with Green Bay, three punt return touchdowns
6. Johnny Jolly, DT: Three years with Green Bay, one starting, 54 tackles, seven passes defended

11 picks (4 good picks, 2 great picks)

2007 Draft
1. Justin Harrell, DT: Two years with Green Bay, 27 tackles (projected good)
2. Brandon Jackson, RB: Two years with Green Bay, 515 rushing yards, 46 receptions (projected good)
3. James Jones, WR: Two years with Green Bay, 67 receptions
6. Korey Hall, FB: Two years with Green Bay, 15 receptions
6. Desmond Bishop, LB: Special teams contributor, 35 tackles
6. Mason Crosby, K: Two years with Green Bay, 79.5 FG percentage (great)

11 picks (5 good picks, 1 great pick)

2008 Draft
2. Jordy Nelson, WR: On year with Green Bay, 33 receptions
4. Jeremy Thompson, DE: One year with Green Bay, only player Thompson traded up for (projected great)
4. Josh Sitton, OL: One year with Green Bay, two starts (projected good)

9 picks (2 good picks, 1 great pick)

WHAT IT ALL MEANS

What we see here is that Thompson’s percentage of making at least a “good” draft pick is 42.8 percent (18/42). I understand that currently Thompson’s percentage stands at 33.3 percent (14/42) because I do not believe the four projected players have reached their full potential, but when everything pans out they will be looked at as at least good players.

Wolf’s drafting was a little less stellar on Draft Day when compared to Thompson. With 90 total draft picks under his name, Wolf drafted 34 “good” or “great” players giving him a draft percentage of 37.8 percent.

Before you go crazy, there are a few things to take into consideration when looking at the two general managers. The first is clearly that the majority, if not all, of Thompson’s draft picks have developed into what they can be.

Also, this works the other way in that players like James Jones who are considered good right now, may not end that way when it is all said and done.

Thompson has drafted in only four years for the Packers while Wolf was involved in nine, and over time picks will average out and one’s percentage will go down. This has not occurred with Thompson yet but it says a lot that Thompson still has such a high rate of taking good players with his draft picks.

A quick note is that Wolf’s first four years with Green Bay saw his “good player or better” percentage add up to 39 percent (16/41), very similar to Thompson’s first four years.

The next factor to take into consideration is the team’s performance while each GM was in office. The Packers were never better than when Ron Wolf was in office, and because of it their team was very deep and did not need as many needs as teams that Thompson inherited.

Ron Wolf’s average starting position while picking in Round 1 was 20.3, while Thompson’s was quite a bit lower at 18.7. Don’t forget that this was the case for every round so on average, Thompson has had almost two more players to choose from each round than Wolf. It does not sound like much, but it really is.

The third factor is the one and only, Brett Favre. Because of Favre’s durability ever since he stepped onto the Frozen Tundra in 1992 means that any quarterback that Wolf drafted was not going to make any impact and strictly be a backup for the Packers, meaning it would be hard to consider them “good” while on the Packers.

Wolf drafted Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselback, and Aaron Brooks and, had Favre not been around, all four of those would have turned out to be “good” picks.

Thompson did have to deal with Favre for the last three years, but not nearly in the same sense.

One thing I will give Wolf when looking at these stats is the difference in “great” players. As I said, a great player is someone that greatly outperforms expectations based on many factors, including when they were drafted and what that position spot on the team looked like.

Wolf’s rate for finding great players in the draft was 16.6 percent (15/90), while Thompson’s stands at 11.9 percent (5/42).

Once again, Thompson’s picks are projected by me but I think most would agree on my predictions of Justin Harrell (once he gets healthy, he has the most talent of any defensive lineman), Brandon Jackson (has progressed every year), Josh Sitton (give him time and he will be a solid starter), and Jeremy Thompson (perfect body for a 3-4 defensive end) for the future.

When and where Wolf and Thompson have found their draft gems is an interesting stat as well. On average, Ron Wolf’s “good” or “great” players were taken in Round 3.47, or somewhere in between the third and fourth round. Thompson’s average round was 3.27 and just a little earlier than Wolf’s average.

Wolf was extremely consistent in his drafting, but round three was his most successful round by number, as nine of his quality players came from that round. From an average standpoint, his first round picks were his best as he went eight for ten.

For Thompson, five of his gems have come in the second round which stays pretty consistent with both the GM’s averages. From a percentage standpoint, Thompson has hit on four of six sixth round draft picks, making that his best round by average. Surprisingly, no players drafted in rounds five or seven have panned out for Thompson as “good” players or better.

Ron Wolf was an unbelievable general manager. He had an outstanding relationship with everyone in the Packers organization and is still loved by many.

Ted Thompson has his detractors, but when you look at it, he has not done all that poorly in the draft and I have faith in him that he will continue to build the Green Bay Packers through the draft.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Draft | , | Leave a comment

In a Sports World Full of Egos, Aaron Curry Gets It

In this year’s NFL Draft, we have heard the stories of Percy Harvin’s positive drug test, Brian Cushing’s alleged steroid use, Andre Smith’s questionable work habits, and countless other negative headlines.

Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry has sifted through it all and become my personal favorite player in this year’s draft, and I will cheer for him every Sunday as long as he is putting on a uniform.

Sure, the 6’2”, 254 pound body of solid linebacker muscle that can run 40 yards in 4.52 seconds helps my man-crush for Curry. His ability to play from anywhere at the linebacker position, regardless of scheme, is amazing, and his versatility makes him highly coveted and an almost-certain top five pick come Saturday.

He did nothing but produce like crazy for the Demon Deacons and has scouts raving about his potential. Think about it: Have you heard any negatives on Curry?

But that is hardly the reason why Curry has quickly become my favorite player in this year’s draft. In fact, it has nothing to do with what he has done on the field.

Today, I was sent an article on Aaron Curry and the special opportunity that he is giving a child who suffered from cancer. 12-year-old Bryce is currently a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and he is in remission after defeating his eight-month battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

On April 13, Curry visited Bryce in the hospital and was given a special tour of the hospital where Bryce stayed. Bryce showed him around many parts of the hospital, including where he was given chemotherapy, and also introduced him to many of the nurses and doctors that had helped Bryce during his battle.

Curry described the tour as powerful and a movie experience.

Wait just a second. A 12-year-old giving you a tour of a hospital was moving, says the future NFL linebacker?

That’s right everyone, Aaron Curry gets what this is all about. He knows exactly who he has and understands the impact he has on the people around him.

After the tour was over, Curry asked Byrce if he would join him at his table at the NFL Draft, something Bryce was clearly not expecting. While the table in Radio City Music Hall is usually designated for family members, Curry explained that family goes a whole lot deeper than blood.

Whatever team chooses Aaron Curry Saturday is getting an exceptional football player and even better person.

Whatever team chooses Aaron Curry Saturday is getting an exceptional football player and even better person.

When asked why Curry had been so gracious towards Bryce, he talked about how important family has been to him throughout his life and success and how, when he was given his tour from Bryce, the doctors and nurses all seemed like family to Bryce.

I can personally relate to exactly what Curry is talking about. My brother, currently 14 years young, is a two-time cancer survivor and is getting ready to start high school.

He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was four and given a 30 percent chance of survival, and last summer was diagnosed with leukemia and given a 25 percent chance of living.

Luke defied the odds, had the doctors calling his situation a “miracle”, and has inspired thousands of people all over the country that know of Luke’s situation, from cousins in California, to family friends in Iowa, and to uncles in Florida.

I can tell you from my own personal experience that Luke’s success in the hospital would not have been possible without two things—family and sports.

Just as Curry explained, the most important thing in the hospital is an upbeat spirit and a solid foundation of family backing the patient and always being there for them.

Luke was NEVER by himself, and every time I think about what my own mother and father went through, I get the chills thinking about how strong of people they are.

Luke knew multiple doctors and nurses by name and vice versa, and everyone who met Luke was touched and inspired.

Doctors became brothers when myself and my two other brothers could not be there, and nurses became sisters that seemingly could always put a smile on Luke’s face. We are still close with a good amount of the medical staff at the hospital.

The second, sports, was just about equally important. Being a Milwaukee sports fan, the rivalries that ensue between myself and my Cubs fan brother are conversations I would not change for the world.

Over the summer, when Luke was battling his second cancer stint, the Cubs and Brewers were deadlocked in a race for the National League Central Division crown, and every time I would visit Luke in the hospital, he would be sporting his customized “Lukudome” jersey (a spin on Fukudome) and watching the Cubs game, going nuts every time his hero Alfonso Soriano would do something to help out his beloved Cubbies.

His little jabs of asking how the Packers did last year would irritate me if it were anyone else, but the fact that I am able to have these conversations with my brother is something I will never take for granted, because I know how lucky I am to have him still here with me.

Now that my official tangent is over, I will get back to Curry and what he is doing with 12-year-old Bryce, who is also a huge football fan.

Bryce has never been to New York, and seemed in absolute shock when Curry asked him to sit at his table on Saturday. Curry understands what it means to be a superstar and to give back to the community.

His stardom and future successes will most likely be used on defense and shutting down running backs, but the way he sees it is that his ability to give back “is more gratifying than any touchdown or sack,” Curry said. “Being here helps me realize the role I play in the community—how I can impact the community.”

Yeah, sounds like this guy was questionable on his drug test. I think not.

While Bryce will not get to sit at Curry’s table for very long once the draft starts, the experience that Curry is sharing with his new-found tour guide and buddy is unbelievable, and it hits home in such a good way that this Packers fan would cheer for him even if he went to the Vikings.

I am not going to sit here and say we need more of these players and that the game is being tarnished because of guys like Terrell Owens and Tank Johnson.

The list goes on and on, which is exactly why I will not preach that. The point is that you can not get more of the players like Aaron Curry, on or off the field.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | NFL, NFL Draft | | Leave a comment

Quick Marquette Notes

With the 2008 Marquette season and NCAA Tournament now a distant memory, most Golden Eagles fans have shifted their focus to the struggling Milwaukee Brewers as well as the NBA and NHL playoffs.  However, just because the season is over does not mean that news affecting Marquette stops.  Let’s take a quick look at everything Marquette news.

Kane Signs With the Marshall Thundering Herd

Deandre Kane decided Saturday to play for Donnie Jones and Marshall next year.  Kane, the 6’4″ shooting guard from Pittsburgh, joined his high school teammate Hassan Whiteside and will make a huge impact on the team next year.  Kane was being recruited by Marquette but after they signed junior-college freshman Darius Johnson-Odom, it seemed unlikely that MU would be the choice.

Wesley Matthews helped his draft stock out at the Portsmouth Invitational.

Wesley Matthews helped his draft stock out at the Portsmouth Invitational.

Matthews Shines at Portsmouth Invitational

In the first post-NCAA Tournament action for NBA Draft hopefuls, Wesley Matthews improved his draft stock at the Portsmouth Invitational.  Starting April 8th, the four-day, 12-team tournament showcased 64 players, most of whom are lower-ranked prospects that are looking to get good showcasing to NBA scouts.  Matthews averaged 14.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in the three games that he played in and was named to the all-tournament team, joining the likes of Missouri’s Demarre Carrol, Xavier’s B.J. Raymond, and Central Florida’s Jermaine Taylor.  Matthews is projected to go late in the second round, if he is drafted at all.

Bowen Opens Up Recruiting

EDIT: I apologize on the notion I gave of Bowen de-committing and regret that error.  What I was getting at was that the loss of Dale Layer to Liberty could change things.  He has over a calendar year to think about this and with the always stockpiling of guards in Buzz’s classes, could make things interesting.  Once again, I apologize for the confusion and incorrect facts.  I am a stickler on getting facts straight and getting percentages correct down to the tenth decimal and I did not do so on this piece.

Forward Williams Interested in Marquette

Just when you thought the 2009 recruiting class was final, it has started back up again.  With no current scholarships available on the roster, forward Latavious Williams has Marquette listed in his top 5 schools.  Williams has had trouble qualifying in school but still is a great talent that would fit the bill for what Marquette loves to do: score

Parrom Granted Release From Xavier

6’5″ small forward Kevin Parrom was granted his release from Xavier, stemming from the depature of then-head coach Sean Miller.  Parrom was a highly saught after prospect and is currently rated as a four star recruit.  Parrom has several Big East schools on his radar and lists Marquette as a potential landing spot.  It would seem that with so much activity going on in the recruiting process that Buzz knows something is up with a current roster player.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | | 3 Comments

2009 Final Seven Round Mock Draft

ROUND ONE
1. Detroit: QB, Matthew Stafford, Georgia
The Lions need a new face to the franchise and Stafford brings all the tools to start the rebuilding process.
2. St. Louis: LT, Jason Smith, Baylor
Smith is the best tackle in the draft and with the loss of Pace, St. Louis is looking for an upgrade on the O-Line.
3. Kansas City: LB, Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
Bill Pioli comes in and gets the new face to his defense, something that has been lacking in KC for quite a while.
4. Seattle: WR, Michael Crabtree,Texas Tech
Despite the addition of T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Seattle’s WR corps is still weak and Crabtree is the best player in the draft.
5. Cleveland: OLB, Brian Orakpo, Texas
Cleveland was worst in the league at getting to the quarterback last year and Orakpo is the best pass rusher in the draft.
6. Cincinnati: LT, Andre Smith, Alabama
Despite the off the field incidents, Smith is an outstanding left tackle and, if he can watch his weight, could be a star.
7. Oakland: LT, Eugene Monroe, Virginia
Once thought of as a top two pick, Monroe has slid off boards just a bit, but the Raiders are desperate for a LT.
8. Jacksonville: DT, B.J. Raji, Boston College
I have not seen too many mocks with Raji going to the Jags, but with their aging DT’s it is not out of the question.
9. Green Bay: OLB, Aaron Maybin
Penn State Maybin is shooting up draft boards after his excellent Pro Day and will be able to come in right away and help the 3-4.
10. San Francisco: OLB, Everette Brown, Florida State
This may be a bit of a reach but San Fran needs a pass rusher as Manny Lawson is looking more and more like a bust.
11. Buffalo: DE, Robert Ayers, Tennessee
The addition of T.O. allows Buffalo to focus on the defensive line, and Aaron Schobel turns 32 this year. No-brainer on Ayers.
12. Denver: DE, Tyson Jackson, LSU
The best 3-4 defensive end in the draft goes to the team that probably needs him the most as Denver looks to stop the run.
13. Washington: QB, Mark Sanchez, Southern Cal
Washington is not sold on Campbell as seen by the Cutler rumors, and Sanchez is way too good of value to pass on here.
14. New Orleans: CB, Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
I believe Jenkins will be able to make the transition to free safety and will start there for the Saints.
15. Houston: LB, Brian Cushing, Southern Cal
Houston will go with their biggest need in Round 1 and that is far and away outside linebacker. Cushing starts from Day 1.
16. San Diego: RB, Chris Wells, Ohio State
LT will be on the wrong side of 30 when the year starts, and Wells and Sproles will be an amazing combination in the future.
17. New York Jets: WR, Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
New York desperately needs an upgrade at wideout after the departure of Coles, and Maclin is a home run threat.
18. Denver: LB, Rey Maualuga, Southern Cal
Opting to stay with defense, the Broncos get my favorite defensive player and a leader on defense.
19. Tampa Bay: CB, Vontae Davis, Illinois
Ronde Barber will be 34 next year, and other than Aquib Talib, there are no starting corners on this roster.
20. Detroit: LT, Michael Oher, Ole Miss
Oher has slipped on many people’s boards and is a very quiet prospect, but the Lions grab him to protect Stafford.
21. Philadelphia: RB, Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
Brian Westbrook is getting up there in age and without a replacement on the roster, they get a steal in Moreno.
22. Minnesota: CB, Darius Butler, Connecticut
Minnesota has wide receiver needs as well but they opt to go with the defensive help in a division with now Matt Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler.
23. New England: LB, Larry English, Northern Illinois
Outside linebacker is the biggest concern for New England and English is as versatile as anyone in the draft.
24. Atlanta: LB, Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
Barwin can play either the DE or LB position and will add depth to an aging defense and could start at outside linebacker.
25. Miami: WR, Darius Heyward-Bey,Maryland
Might not seem like this pick makes sense, but after Ginn and maybe Camarillo, the Dolphins have no receivers.
26. Baltimore: WR, Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
He has his weight back down and should become a favorite target of Joe Flacco for years to come.
27. Indianapolis: Peria Jerry, Ole Miss
Easily the Colts’ biggest need and the best defensive tackle left on the board, Perry is sure to start right away in Indy.
28. Buffalo: TE, Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State
Pettigrew is the best all around tight end in the draft and adds another weapon on this now dangerous Bills offense.
29. New York Giants: LB, James Lauranitis, Ohio State
Antonio Pierce struggled last year and they do not have a replacement for him. Lauranitis might even battle for the starting nod.
30. Tennessee: WR, Kenny Britt, Rutgers
It seems as though every year the Titans should take wide reciever and they don’t. Britt is a huge target with great hands.
31. Arizona: RB, Donald Brown, Connecticut
Arizona’s running game is struggling and Edge’s days are numbered. Brown and Tim Hightower should form a great duo.
32. Pittsburgh: LT, Ebon Britton, Arizona
Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl last year with an aging offensive line. Something needs to give and Britton is the answer.
ROUND TWO
33. Detroit: FS, William Moore, Missouri
The Lions adressed the cornerback position in the offseason and they continue the overhaul by grabbing the best safety.
34. New England: RT, Phil Loadholdt, Oklahoma
Loadholdt will play right tackle in the NFL and that is exactly what the Patriots are tyring to improve in the draft.
35. St. Louis: WR, Percy Harvin, Florida
Harvin will drop in the draft because of his off the field concerns, but St. Louis is desparate and grabs a great athlete.
36. Cleveland: WR, Brian Robiskie, Ohio State
The Browns will most likely be down Stallworth and Edwards next year and will need a go-to guy.
37. Seattle: LT, William Beatty, Connecticut
The Seahawks need to get much youger on the O-Line and will get Walter Jones’s replacement in Beatty.
38. Cincinnati: C, Alex Mack, California
The overhaul on the offensive line continues with the versatile Mack who should start at center from Day 1.
39. Jacksonville: CB, D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt
Experiments at cornerback have failed for the Jaguars and they desperately need to upgrade the position.
40. Oakland: FS, Louis Delmas
Western Michigan Other than Michael Huff, the Raiders have no safety worth starting. Delmas had a poor combine but is a great talent.
41. Green Bay: DE, Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
Gilbert will play defensive end in the 3-4 where the Packers are looking for depth to go with Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly.
42. Buffalo: LB, Clay Matthews, Southern Cal
Matthews plays Will LB and that is the position that Buffalo is looking to address in the draft to improve their defense.
43. San Francisco: QB, Josh Freeman, Kansas State
While San Fran might not be looking to acquire Freeman, he is too good of value to pass on here.
44. Miami: CB, Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
With the departure of Andre Goodman, cornerback is a need and Smith is the best one left in the draft.
45. New York Giants: TE, Jared Cook, South Carolina
Cook has been shooting up draft boards lately and the Giants could use some playmakers with Burress gone.
46. Houston: DT, Ziggy Hood, Missouri
Amobi Okoye took a step back but should be just fine for the future, but aside from him they need some serious help.
47. New England: TE, Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss
Nelson is extremely athletic and is great in the passing game and will give Tom Brady another weapon on offense.
48. Denver: C, Eric Wood, Louisville
After addressing defense with the first two picks, Tom Nalen’s replacement is picked and is great value at this point.
49. Chicago: WR, Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia
Jay Cutler is going to need some more weapons on offense and Massaquoi is the best receiver left on the board.
50. Cleveland: RB, LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
Cleveland’s running game is very sub-par and Jamal Lewis’ tank is running on empty, so the Browns go and get McCoy.
51. Dallas: FS, Patrick Chung, Oregon
With the departure of Roy Williams, a safety must be added to the backfield and Chung is the best one on the board.
52. New York Jets: DE, Michael Johnson, Goergia Tech
Johnson is one the best athletes in the draft but is very inconsistent, but will be able to play multiple positions in the 3-4.
53. Philadelphia: DE, Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond
A small school DE, Sidbury is very athletic and put up great numbers and will add depth to the defensive line.
54. Minnesota: C, Max Unger, Oregon
With Matt Birk leaving, a hole is left at the center position and Unger is able to play center and both guard positions.
55. Atlanta: NT, Ron Brace, Boston College
Brace has a lot of potential but has yet to put it all together, and Atlanta needs an upgrade at the true nose tackle.
56. Miami: LB, Clint Sintim, Virginia
Sintim is one of the few players in the draft with experience at the 3-4 position and is an outstanding pass rusher.
57. Baltimore: DE, Roy Miller, Texas
A DT in college, Miller will move to the defensive end position and add another rotation player to Baltimore’s D-line.
58. New England: CB, Sean Smith, Utah
New England uses their last of three second round picks on depth at cornerback, hoping Smith can become a number one.
59. Carolina: DT, Sen’derrick Marks, Auburn
Marks is a very underrated tackle that provides a solid player and addresses a big need for the Panthers.
60. New York Giants: WR, Juaquin Igleasias, Oklahoma
With the departure of Burress, the position needs to be addressed and Iglesias is the best available on the board.
61. Indianapolis: LB, Kaluka Maiava, Southern Cal
Maiava is a very fast, athletic linebacker that will fit perfect into the Colts’ defensive scheme.
62. Tennessee: CB, Jarius Byrd, Oregon
Nick Harper will be 35 next year and they really need some help opposite of Cortland Finnegan.
63. Arizona:DE, Paul Kruger, Utah
The Cardinals need to address the position and Kruger gives them a good body in the 3-4 scheme.
64. Pittsburgh: CB, Sherrod Martin, Troy
With the loss of Bryant McFadden, depth at the position is needed and Martin is an excellent cornerback with good speed.

ROUND THREE

65. Detroit: LB, Cody Brown, Connecticut
As it seems to be with the Lions, every pick is a good pick and Brown is good value here in the 3rd round.
66. St. Louis: LB, Darry Beckwith, LSU
St. Louis shores up their middle linebacker position with Beckwith who played in many big games as Tiger.
67. Kansas City, OG, Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
Adrian Jones needs to be replaced at the right guard position and Robinson is a huge body with good speed.
68. Seattle: CB, Donald Washington, Ohio State
Depth is a concern at the DB position for the Seahawks and Washington gives them a good dime back.
69. Dallas: WR, Derrick Williams, Penn State
The loss of Terrell Owens and Miles Austin is a concern, so the Cowboys take the next best available wideout.
70. Cincinnati: WR, Pat White, West Virginia
The loss of T.J. Houshmanzadeh is also a concern for the Bengals and Pat White is a playmaker that can be used many ways.
71. Oakland: OL, Andy Levitre, Oregon State
Offensive line depth is a problem for the Raiders and they finally address it here, picking up the versatile Levitre.
72. Jacksonville: LT, Jamon Meridith, South Carolina
Losing out on the “Big 3” tackles, the Jaguars go and find their replacement for Khalif Barnes in Meredith.
73. Green Bay: TE, Cornelius Ingram, Florida
Donald Lee is not overly productive and the verdict is still out on Jermichael Finley and his maturity at the NFL level.
74. San Francisco: WR, Ramses Barden, Cal Poly
Josh Morgan is up and coming, but Issac Bruce is on his way out and free agent Brandon Jones hasn’t been great anywhere.
75. Buffalo: S, Rashad Johnson, Alabama
Aside from Dante Whitner, there are not many safeties on the Bills’ roster worthy of getting the starting nod.
76. New York Jets: RB, Andre Brown, NC State
Thomas Jones is bound to slow down one day and Leon Washington is more of a feature back than anything.
77. Houston: S, Darcel McBath, Texas Tech
Both starters are back from last year’s team but are hardly all-pros. An upgrade is needed.
78. San Diego: OL, T.J. Lang, Eastern Michigan
Lang will have the oppourtunity to start at either position on the right side of the line and has a good shot at starting.
79. Denver: CB, Bradley Fletcher, Iowa
Champ Bailey and Dre Bly are both up there in years and it’s time to start looking ahead to keep the defense solid.
80. Washington: DE, Kyle Moore, Southern Cal
Trying to fill the void of Jason Taylor, Moore will add good depth to the defensive line that needs playmakers.
81. Tampa Bay: DT, Fili Moala, Southern Cal
The Bucs are always getting better on defense and Moala is no exception as he should come in and start.
82. Detroit: TE, Chase Coffman, Missouri
Stafford gains another weapon in Coffman, who produced great numbers and is a great all-around tight end.
83. Green Bay: LT, Xavier Fulton, Illinois
With Mark Tausche most likely not coming back and Chad Clifton aging, Fulton has a chance to start in a few years.
84. Denver: DT, Terrance Taylor, Michigan
Taylor has the ability to play nose tackle as the Broncos’ overhaul of the defense continues in the draft.
85. Philadelphia: WR, Louis Murphy, Florida
DeSean Jackson has turned out to be a nice player but there is little depth at wide receiver on the roster.
86. Minnesota: WR, Deon Butler, Penn State
After failing to pick up Housh in free agency, WR is still a need for the Vikings and can get help with the speedster Butler.
87. Miami: OG, Kraig Ubrik, Wisconsin
Ubrik is a good value pick and the Dolphins could use more depth on their offensive line.
88. Baltimore: TE, Anthony Hill, NC State
Todd Heap is well past his prime and a replacement is neccesary as Joe Flacco gets another weapon.
89. New England: RB, Shonn Greene, Iowa
New England has had many average running backs over the last two years, but Greene could be a star in this system.
90. Atlanta: TE, James Casey, Rice
Casey is one of my favorite players in the draft as he can line up annywhere on the field and be a factor.
91. New York Giants: OG, Tyronne Green, Auburn
The Giants have a solid O-line but depth is still an issue and Green provides a big body that could compete one day.
92. Indianapolis: WR, Quinten Lawrence, McNeese State
The loss of Marvin Harrison has left a gap at the wide revceiver spot, and Lawrence will be able to compete for a #3 spot.
93. Carolina: CB, Keenan Lewis, Oregon State
The Panthers have solid starters but depth remains an issue, especially with the loss of Ken Lucas.
94. Tennessee: DT, Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman
The void left by Albert Haynesworth must be filled somehow, and the little-known Hill can make an impact.
95. Arizona: TE, Travis Beckum, Wisconsin
I am not sold on any of the current tight ends on Arizona’s roster right now, and Beckum has all the tools.
96. Pittsburgh: S, Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest
With the loss of Anthony Smith, the Steelers get back some depth by obtaining the bruiser Vaughn.
97. New England: DE, Alex Magee, Purdue
Magee adds good depth to the Patriots’ aging defensive line and will be a good rotational player.
98. Cincinnati: FB, Tony Fiammetta, Syracuse
The Bengals do not have a fullback on the roster and Fiammetta is capable of doing multiple things and will start in Cincy.
99. Chicago: S, Chris Clemons, Clemson
Clemons is a safety I really like and the Bears could use an upgrade as well as depth in the defensive backfield.
100. New York Giants: RB, Cedric Peerman, Virginia
Peerman is just like Derrick Ward and will help re-form the three headed monster with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

ROUND FOUR

101. Dallas: CB, Macho Harris, Virginia Tech
Dallas could use another cornerback after losing Anthony Henry this year in the trade with Detroit.
102. Kansas City: NT, Chris Baker, Hampton
The 3-4 defense needs a great nose tackle, and while the Chiefs have good defensive ends, they need a tackle to complete the line.
103. St. Louis: CB, Mike Mickens, Cincinnati
St. Louis has a great starter in Ron Bartell but depth is still needed and Mickens has had great production at Cincinnati.
104. Cleveland: CB, Coye Francis, San Jose St.
Cleveland gave up way too many yards through the air last year and it was mainly due to a lack of depth.
105. Seattle: RB, Rashard Jennings, Liberty
The Seahawks have not been stable at running back since Shaun Alexander left and Jennings is an intruiging prospect.
106. Cincinnati: DE, Mitch King, Iowa
The Bengals have gotten little production out of their defensive ends the last two years. Hopefully King can change that.
107. Jacksonville: WR, Brandon Gibson, Washington St.
Jacksonville is in need of a solid wide receiver and Gibson is a huge sleeper in this draft.
108. Miami: NT, Dorell Scott, Clemson
Jason Ferguson will be 35 next year and the Dolphins have no one currently to take his place or be in the rotation next year.
109. Green Bay: LB, Zach Follet, California
Follet will move inside in the 3-4 defense and will be a good rotational player for the Packers, as well as on special teams.
110. Buffalo: OG, Herman Johnson, LSU
Johnson is an absolute beast at 6’7″, 364 pounds and will provide good depth for a new Bills offensive line.
111. San Francisco: OT, Fenuki Tupou, Oregon
Marvel Smith has had a tough time staying healthy and Tupou will offer a good line player that can play either side.
112. Houston: CB, Kevin Barnes, Maryland
The Texans have always had decent prospects at CB, but no one has ever really panned out. Barnes will start in the dime spot.
113. San Diego: S, Michael Hamlin, Clemson
Eric Weddle has become a nice free safety in his first year, but there are question marks at the other safety spot.
114. Denver: LB, Brandon Williams, Texas Tech
Denver’s defense becomes much better with the 3-4 pass rusher Williams who will be in the rotation right away.
115. New York Jets: QB, Nate Davis, Ball State
Although Davis’ stock has dropped since his magical season, he still has a lot of upside if he can work on his mechanics.
116. New Orleans: LB, Marcus Freeman, Ohio State
New Orleans does not have much depth at linebacker and Freeman will have the chance to start outside next year.
117. Dallas: LB, Danell Ellerbe, Georgia
With Zach Thomas leaving and Keith Brooking well past his prime, depth at the position is neccesary for the Cowboys.
118. New Orleans: RB, Javon Ringer, Michigan St.
The loss of Duece McAllister leaves a “thunder” for Reggie Bush’s “lightning” and Ringer will provide this.
119. Chicago: C, Antoine Caldwell, Alabama
Caldwell brings versatility to the Bears and could eventually take over for Olin Kruetz in a few years.
120. Tampa Bay: DE, Phillip Hunt, Houston
Tampa Bay needs to revamp the defensive line as there is not much talent there past Gaines Adams.
121. Buffalo: OT, Trevor Canfield, Cincinnati
With the trading of Jason Peters going down, Buffalo needs to add more depth and does so here with Canfield.
122. Houston: OT, Cornelius Lewis, Tennessee State
The Texans do not have the best offensive line and, outside of Duane Brown, no one really stands out to me.
123. Baltimore: CB, Asher Allen, Georgia
Allen is a very underrated cornerback and provides great depth for an already solid but aging defensive backfield.
124. New England: LB, Jason Phillips, TCU
Phillips is a very underrated player and New England can never have enough good linebackers.
125. Atlanta: CB, Captain Munnerlyn , South Carolina
Atlanta’s cornerbacks are subject after the loss to Dominique Foxworth and Munnerlyn has an awesome name.
126. Oakland: WR, Johnny Knox, Abilene-Christian
Wide reciever has been a sore subject for the Raiders, but it won’t be as big a need if Javon Walker can come back healthy.
127. Indianapolis: RB, James Davis, Clemson
Davis reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles and if you ask the Colts, they think Sproles is pretty darn good.
128. Carolina: OL, Jonathon Luigs, Arkansas
Losing two backups in Geoff Hangartner and Frank Omiyale really hurt the depth of the offensive line.
129. New York Giants: S, Emmanuel Cook, South Carolina
Cook has all the skills to be a great safety in the league but did not perform outstanding at the combine.
130. Tennessee: LB, Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida
Tennessee has older but effiicient linebackers, but depth is an issue that the underrated McKenzie can fix.
131. Arizona: OG, Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech
The starting offensive unit is solid for the Cardinals, but depth is a concern as Vasquez is a steal here.
132. Pittsburgh: DE, Vance Walker, Georgia Tech
The starters are getting older and Walker is a big body that will free up a lot on the outside.
133. San Diego: DE, Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin
The loss of Igor Olshansky leaves a void at the defensive end position that Shaughnessy can fill.
134. San Diego: CB, Mark Parson, Ohio
Rumor of Antonio Cromartie leaving faded, but they still do not know what they have with him and their depth is average.
135. Tennessee: OT, Gerald Cadogan, Oklahoma
Outside of their outstanding starters, depth is a huge problem at the tackle position and will have to addressed in the draft.
136. Indianapolis: OT, Tony Kropog, Tulane
Indianapolis has decent starters at the tackle position but position changes have made the depth skeptical.

ROUND FIVE

137. Seattle: S, David Bruton, Notre Dame
The Seahawks have reliable starters in Deon Grant and Brian Russell but can find an upgrade in Bruton.
138. Atlanta: S, Derek Pegues, Mississippi State
The loss of Lawyer Milloy has the safety position a big question mark for the Falcons.
139. Kansas City: WR, Aaron Kelly, Clemson
Kelly is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, and at 6’5″, he will be a Randy-Moss like target for Matt Cassell in the red zone.
140. Chicago: RB, Mike Goodson, Texas A&M
Matt Forte is an outstanding running back but the depth after his is average at best.
141. Philadelphia: LB, Nic Harris, Oklahoma
Harris showed a lot of promise coming into this year but did not perform as well. Still, he will be a boost for the Eagles.
142. Cincinnati: DT, Vance Walker, Georgia Tech
There is no sure-fire starter for the Bengals at this position, so Walker will get a chance to start and make the rotation.
143. Atlanta: DE, David Veikune, Hawaii
Veikune gives good depth for the Falcons but Jamaal Anderson has been less than stellar with just two sacks in two seasons.
144. Jacksonville: RB, Kory Sheets, Purdue
With the departure of Fred Taylor, Sheets is a good pick to back-up newly paid Maurice Jones-Drew.
145. Green Bay: OG, Ray Feinga, BYU
Ted Thompson usually takes a flyer on little-known offensive linemen in the middle rounds of drafts and will do so this year.
146. San Francisco: CB, Ladarius Webb, Nicholls State
Webb is a small school prospect but will see serious time next year if Shawntae Spencer does not come back well from his ACL injury.
147. Buffalo: S, Kevin Ellison, Southern Cal
Outside of Donte Whitner, the Bills are very thin at the safety position and Ellison has the potential to start.
148. San Diego: LB, Jonathon Casillias, Wisconsin
The loss of Shawne Merriman exposed the Chargers to some extent and getting depth here is important in the 3-4.
149. Denver: QB, Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston St.
While Kyle Orton will do the job for now, Romar gives good depth and a potential star with good arm strength.
150. Washington: OL, A.Q. Shipley, Penn State
Washington needs upgrades on the offensive line and Shipley is an outstanding center.
151. New York Giants: LB, Jason Williams, Western Illinois
Williams is the best player available at this point and provides more depth at the outside linebacker position.
152. Houston: DE, Victor Butler, Oregon St.
Butler will give the Texans depth at the other defensive end spot away from Mario Williams.
153. Philadelphia: LB, Corey Smith, Cincinnati
The Eagles have average starters outside and an upgrade will need to happen next year for this group of over-achievers.
154. Chicago: WR, Brandon Tate, North Carolina
The Bears are not one wide receiver away from having a decent group, so this position will be addressed more than once.
155. Tampa Bay: WR, Austin Collie, BYU
Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard have been released and past Antonio Bryant, there are no real starters on the team.
156. Dallas: CB, Jerraud Powers, Auburn
Powers is the best player available for the Cowboys who can use more depth in the defensive backfield.
157. Philadelphia: S, C.J. Spillman, Marshall
The loss of Brian Dawkins is big for the Eagles and replacing him will be important. Spillman is very good in coverage.
158. Minnesota: OT, Jason Watkins, Florida State
Watkins will have a chance to start right away at right tackle for the Vikings who are currently weak the position.
159. Philadelphia: OT, Sebastian Vollmer, Houston
Jason Peters is a start, but with most needs already filled up at this point, another tackle only makes the line stronger.
160. St. Louis: LB, Ashlee Palmer, Mississippi State
The Rams go and address the outside linebacker position here and bring in a lot of potential with Palmer.
161. Miami: TE, Davon Drew, East Carolina
Anthony Fasano is good enough to get the job done but with David Martin as the only backup, Drew will be an upgrade.
162. Baltimore: LB, Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh
McKillop gives very good depth at the inside linebacker position, where the Ravens are getting very old.
163. Carolina: WR, Kevin Olgetree, Virginia
Mushim Muhammad did a nice job last year, but past Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett they have nothing.
164. New York Giants: DE, Orion Martin, Virginia Tech
Martin will give the best defensive line in football more depth and a speed rusher.
165. Indianapolis: WR, Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers
Indianpolis adds another wide receiver to the mix with Underwood, who is very versatile and can return kicks.
166. Dallas: DE, Pannel Egboh, Stanford
The Cowboys, with a ton of picks, are able to address all areas and pick up a solid defensive end in Egboh.
167. Arizona: DT, Terrance Knighton, Temple
Byran Robinson will be 35 next year and Gabe Watson and Alan Branch have not been overly impressive to date.
168. Pittsburgh: LB, Daniel Holtzclaw, Eastern Michigan
Larry Foote is getting older and while the LB’s are outstanding on this team, another one can’t hurt this strong defense.
169. Pittsburgh: WR, Mike Wallace, Mississippi
Pittsburgh has good starters and Limas Sweed has potential, but depth is still a problem.
170. New England: WR, Mike Thomas, Arizona State
The loss of Jabar Gaffney leaves a hole on the depth chart for the Patriots and Thomas is a playmaker.
171. San Francisco: TE, John Phillips, Virginia
Vernon Davis does not fit the convential tight end role and Phillips is an exceptional blocker.
172. Dallas: DE, Orien Martin Virginia Tech
Anthony Spencer and Greg Ellis have not produced much aside from DeMarcus Ware, and improvement and depth is neccesary.
173. Tennessee: C, Edwin Williams, Maryland
Kevin Mawae is another year older and his time in the NFL has to be coming to a close, and the Titans currently have no one else to take his place.

ROUND SIX

174. Detroit: CB, Morgan Trent, Michigan
Detroit’s secondary, like most of their team units, struggled last year and Trent provides good depth with big game experience.
175. Kansas City: K, David Buehler, Southern Cal
Connor Barth led the way for the Chiefs as the kicker, but a replacement is needed and Buehler is by far the best kicker.
176. Atlanta: OG, Anthony Parker, Tennessee
Atlanta’s starters are excellent but depth is a concern and both guards are free agents after next year.
177. Cleveland: DE, Rickey Jean-Francois, LSU
Jean-Francois will provide good depth at the defensive end spot in the 3-4 for the Browns.
178. Seattle: LB, Deandre Levy, Wisconsin
Levy will have a chance to start right away for the Seahawks due to the departure of Julian Peterson.
179. Cincinnati: RB, Glen Coffee, Alabama
Chris Perry and Kenny Watson were less than stellar, and I would not rely on Cedric Benson to be the running back for a full season.
180. Jacksonville: OT, Joel Bell, Furman
Even with Meredith, depth is still an issue and Bell gives the Jaguars a good body to worth with in training camp.
181. Miami: DE, Will Johnson, Michigan
With the loss of Vonnie Holliday, Philip Merling becomes the starter and depth is needed on the defensive line.
182. Green Bay: RB, Ian Johnson, Boise State
Johnson’s production dropped off from last year, but he is still good enough to try to earn a roster spot on most NFL rosters.
183. Buffalo: FB, Quinn Johnson, LSU
Three Johnson’s go in a row here as the Bills pick up a much needed fullback in Quinn Johnson.
184. San Francsico: CB, Jason McCourty, Utah
Depth is still an issue as the 49er’s nab their second cornerback of the draft in McCourty.
185. Denver: TE, Bear Pascoe, Fresno State
With so many needs filled in this draft, the Broncos go for the best player available and that is Pascoe.
186. Washington: LB, Anthony Felder, California
After the Redskins cut Marcus Washington, there is now a void at strongside linebacker that needs to be addressed.
187. Green Bay: CB, Domonique Johnson, Jackson State
Johnson wasn’t outstanding in off-season drills but he has a nose for the football and plays great on-the-field football.
188. Houston: RB, Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon
Steve Slaton is proving to be an every down back, but after him Houston has little to show for their running backs.
189. San Diego: LB, Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina
Brinkley is great value here and will join the rotation of solid linebackers in San Diego.
190. Tampa Bay: QB, Mike Reilly, Central Washington
Reilly has great size at 6’3″ and will join a long list of Bucs quarterbacks trying to vie for the starting gig.
191. Chicago: OL, Cecil Newman, Tennessee St.
Orlando Pace is getting up there in years and a replacement will ultimately be needed, something the Bears do not have currently.
192. Detroit: DT, Myron Pryor, Kentucky
Detroit signed Grady Jackson this off-season but work is still needed to be done on the defensive line.
193. New York Jets: LB, Worrell Williams, California
Williams is very good value here and will work the inside linebacker position in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 scheme.
194. Philadelphia: CB, Joe Burnett, Central Florida
Philadelphia has been rumored to have Lito Sheppard on the trading block, so a cornerback here makes sense.
195. Philadelphia: WR, Sammie Straughter, Oregon State
Butler will help in the wide recevier department, but Straughter is a much bigger target for Donovan McNabb and co.
196. St. Louis: QB, Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
While some believe Harrell was fully a product of his offense, I believe there is a lot of talent there and this pick is a steal.
197. Dallas: OL, Jon Cooper, Oklahoma
The Cowboys finally address the offensive line which is solid up front but could use more depth like all teams in the league.
198. Baltimore: RB, Arian Foster, Tennessee
Leron McCaain was a great find and Willis McGahee should recover from his scary injury, but Foster adds good depth.
199. New England: QB, Brian Hoyer, Michigan State
With the loss of Matt Cassell, Hoyer can be brought in to battle for a spot on team as Tom Brady’s backup.
200. New York Giants: CB, Clover Quin, New Mexico
New York does not have many needs, but adding depth to the defensive backfield is never a bad thing.
201. Indianapolis: C, Keith Gray, Connecticut
Jeff Saturday will not last forever and finding a replacement for him is vital, and Gray is a sleeper to do the trick.
202. Carolina: DE, Nader Abdallah, Ohio State
With not many draft needs, the Panthers nab a very athletic defensive end in Abdallah.
203. Tennessee: RB, Antone Smith, Florida State
Smith is a good little running back that will provide depth to a good Titans running game. Smith has outstanding speed.
204. Arizona: WR, Quan Cosby, Texas
If Anquan Boldin ends up getting traded, finding a replacement for him will bump everyone up on the depth chart, leaving room for Cosby.
205. Pittsburgh: OT, Bobby Lepori, Fresno State
Simply good to get depth on the aging and average Pittsburgh offensive line.
206. Tennessee: OG, Andy Kemp, Wisconsin
Wisconsin offensive linemen usually pan out to be pretty good players, and Kemp will not be an exception to that rule.
207. New England: FB, Brannan Southerland, Georgia
Bill Belichek loves his fullbacks and I can see him doing some fun things with Southerland who can do it all.
208. Dallas: DT, Daryl Richard, Georgia Tech
With so many needs filled, Dallas goes with Richard to shore up the defensive line more.
209. Cincinnati: CB, Cary Harris, Southern Cal
Harris will provide good depth for the Bengals who now have legal troubles at this position in Leon Hall.

ROUND SEVEN

210. Dallas: WR, Brooks Foster, North Carolina
Miles Austin was lost as well as T.O., so having numbers here will be important at the wide receiver position.
211. St. Louis: OG, Robert Brewster,Ball State
St. Louis could always use more depth on the offensive line, and Brewster is the best available.
212. Kansas City: CB, Ryan Palmer, Texas
Palmer is a solid cornerback and adds depth to the aging Kansas City backfield.
213. Seattle: LB, Morrty Ivy, West Virginia
Lofa Tutupu is an oustanding linebacker but there is not much behind him depth-wise.
214. Miami: OG, Jamie Thomas, Maryland
Thomas is a big body that might be able to make the team on an aging Kansas City offensive line.
215. Cincinnati: DT, Tez Doolittle, Auburn
Bodies on the defensive line never hurt, and adding Doolittle will be good for training camp.
216. Oakland: OG, Greg Isdaner, Wake Forest
Isdaner provides good depth on the offensive line and could battle to see time in his first year.
217. Tampa Bay: S, Otis Wiley, Michigan State
I really like what I see from Wiley and he offers a good body for the Tampa 2.
218. Green Bay: DT, Ra’Shon Harris, Oregon
It is important to have a lot of bodies on the defensive line in the 3-4, and Harris may be able to break the rotation.
219. San Francisco: DT, Demonte Bolden, Tennessee
San Francisco has aging DT’s and Bolden gives the Niners a good body for training camp.
220. Buffalo: CB, Ryan Mouton, Hawaii
Mouton is a good player that will join a very young defensive backfield for the Bills.
221. Minnesota: QB, David Johnson, Tulsa
Sage Rosenfels was brought in this year but it might spell doom for Tavaris Jackson or Gus Frerotte next year.
222. New Orleans: LB, Frantz Joseph, Florida Atlantic
Jon Vilma has been a nice addition to the team but they do not have a lot of depth behind him.
223. Houston: DT, Corey Irvin, Clemson
More depth on the defensive line helps the Texans with thier second defensive tackle of the draft.
224. San Diego: FB, Brock Bolen, Louisville
Bolen will try to give the Chargers a pure run blocking fullback like they had in prior years with Lorenzo Neal.
225. Denver: CB, Ellis Lankster, West Virginia
Also holders of ten draft picks, Lankster is the best player available at this point.
226. Pittsburgh: OG, Rich Ohrnberger
Penn State Simply put, the Steelers have addressed all their needs and Ohrnberger is the best guard left.
227. Dallas: RB, Gartrell Johnson, Colorado State
Johnson is a sleeper pick but is on the rise in many mocks and gives depth to a Dallas team with plenty of running backs.
228. New York Jets: TE, Cameron Morrah, California
The Jets like Dustin Keller but could use some better depth behind him and Morrah is very good value.
229. Chicago: DE, Rulon Davis, California
Chicago’s defensive line has been good but is getting older and Davis will provide depth like most 7th round picks.
230. Philadelphia: LB, Antonio Appleby, Virginia
At the 10th draft pick for the Eagles, best player available seems like a good way to go.
231. Minnesota: WR, Marko Mitchell, Nevada
Two wide receivers in the draft will be important for Minnesota as they try to drastically improve the position.
232. Jacksonville: S, Steven Hodge, TCU
Jacksonville gets the best player available and still gets a nice player in Hodge who has great physical tools.
233. Tampa Bay: WR, Jamarko Simmons, Western Michigan
The Bucs continue to build on their depth and Simmons is a real sleeper in this year’s draft.
234. New England: CB, Bruce Johnson, Miami
New England finally ends their run of draft picks and they take project in Johnson.
235. Denver: RB, Javarris Williams, Tennessee State
Denver loves their running backs and, although they have brought in free agents, none of them are anything special.
236. New York Giants: LB, Stryker Sulak, Missouri
Also on their 10th draft pick, the best player available is Stryker Sulak so the Giants take a flyer on him.
237. Indianapolis: P, Kevin Huber, Cincinnati
With Hunter Smith not being re-signed, the Colts need a decent punter and Smith is by far the best one in the draft.
238. Miami: CB, Gregory Toler, St. Paul’s
A little known prospect with excellent speed and great jump on the ball, but lacks a little in size.
239. Tennessee: LB, Josh Mauga, Nevada
More depth to a position that the Titans are looking to gain in for the future.
240. Arizona: OT, Augustus Parrish, Kent State
Arizona gets good depth with Parrish and a massive body to work with.
241. Pittsburgh: DE, Josh Gaines, Penn State
The Steelers probably will not go with another defensive end, but I like what I see with Gaines.
242. Tennessee: S, Jake Ingram, Hawaii
Ingram is the best player left in the draft and Tennessee has addressed all of their needs.
243. Washington: CB, Woodny Turenne, Louisville
Washington has addressed many needs in the darft, and Turenne is the best available player at this point.
244. San Francisco: RB, Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern
Sutton had a great year and while he does not possess the numbers of a stud running back, he is a very hard worker.
245. Seattle: RB, Devin Moore, Wyoming
The Seahawks address the running back position with another depth guy and a sleeper in the draft.
246. Chicago: LB, Anthony Heygood, Purdue
Heygood provides a solid body for the linebacker corps and could get some good work in on special teams.
247. Seattle: DT, Clinton McDonald, Memphis
They gave Colin Cole big money, showing that this is obviously an area of concern for them.
248. Seattle: QB, Stephen McGee, Texas A&M
Matt Hasselback will not go forever and you have to worry about depth at the position. McGee is a nice project.
249. Cincinnati: WR, Taurus Johnson, Central Florida
Cincinnati comes back with another wide receiver to add depth and a speedster.
250. Jacksonville: DE, Neefy Moffet, Florida State
Jacksonville’s defensive line is pretty young but could still use some improvement overall.
251. Chicago: CB,Lydell Saergant, Penn State
Chicago’s cornerbacks are solid but could always use good depth, and Saergant produced well at Penn State.
252. Cincinnati: QB, Drew Willy, Buffalo
Carson Palmer should be good to go and Rex Grossman gives them depth, but there’s not much after that.
253. Jacksonville: WR, Maurice Covington, Virginia
Wide receiver depth is huge and Covington is a very underrated prospect that can contribute to this team.
254. Arizona: P, Jacob Richardson, Miami (OH)
Ben Graham is an OK punter, but compeititon is always good for punters.
255. Detroit: RB, Marlon Lucky, Nebraska
Kevin Smith was excellent last year, but long term I don’t like anyone else on that roster for the Lions.
256. Kansas City: FB, Jason Cook, Mississippi
Cook will come in and compete for a starting spot, but it not likely to make the final roster.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Draft | , , , | Leave a comment

NBA Draft Player Preview: Jerel McNeal

Last year, Jerel McNeal had one of the best individual seasons that the Marquette University program had ever seen. He led the team in points in a year at 19.8 per game, pulled down 4.5 rebounds and handed out 3.9 assists. Defensively, he was outstanding once again this year, averaging two steals per game and .6 blocks. He scored a career high 30 points in a loss to Missouri in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament to end his career, and now has his sights set on pre-draft camps and ultimately having his name called on June 25th.

McNeal will have to play the shooting guard position in the NBA unless he makes a drastic change to become strictly a point guard which I can not see happening. He is listed at 6’3” but is really closer to 6’2”, which could drop his draft status for being undersized. While McNeal plays bigger than he is and is very physical, the height itself will be a problem in the draft process because players like Nick Calethes, Jermaine Taylor, and Jodie Meeks possess close to the same skill set but are two inches taller.

Jerel McNeal and his outstanding defense will surely get him on a roster spot on an NBA team come June.

Jerel McNeal and his outstanding defense will surely get him on a roster spot on an NBA team come June.

I liken McNeal’s potential talent level and characteristic skill set to that of Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks. Terry stands at 6’2” as well and is known for his excellent outside shooting and quick release on jump shots. Terry is also considered a combo guard that can really play the point guard position but play it like a shooting guard. His deceptive quickness off the dribble combined with his great jump shot makes for a deadly combination. When Terry gets to the rim, he goes up with force and at the same time is smart, knowing where his teammates are. Dallas loves to run the fast break and Terry leads the break with both quickness and power.

When I watch Terry, I see a lot of McNeal. McNeal’s best quality is his outside shooting and he will live and die with that in the Association. Despite his lack of size, McNeal has an extremely quick release and never leaves the ball low where shot blockers could get a hand on it. Because McNeal was asked to do so much scoring for the Marquette Golden Eagles, his passing abilities were not always seen as one of his strong points, but I can tell you that this is not the case. McNeal has one of the strongest passes on the team and seems to thread the needle better than most while still making good decisions with the basketball. I can see him being very valuable in the passing game especially if he can get a little quicker off the dribble and draw the defense in. In half-court sets, McNeal will have to be more patient and not force shots and use his dribble more. His aggressiveness going to the hoop will result in continued free throw attempts that make his NBA stock that much more valuable.

Defensively, McNeal is going to thrive in the NBA guarding the shooting guard position. While he will always lack the height to match up fairly in that category, his tenacity and on-the-ball defense make him valuable to teams. Because he is quick enough to stay very close to his man with his hands in the air, some of that size disadvantage is taken out of the equation. His break on the ball is outstanding as well and, when players put the ball on the ground, McNeal always has a hand going for the ball. He is not lazy by any means but can get lost in the crowd when he is not guarding his man. Fortunately, that does not mean as much in the NBA but is still something McNeal will need to work on. On the boards, McNeal has good leaping ability and is a smart player that seems to always be in the right position at the right time to grab boards, but I would not expect to see much from him in this department at the next level.

Places that I could see McNeal going in the draft include the Bobcats who do not have much depth at the shooting guard position, the Heat who love combo guards (remind you of any Marquette player on their current team?) and the New Orleans Hornets. While all these teams would look at McNeal in the second round, a good draft camp could vault him into the first round. The one thing going against McNeal is that he is 22 years old and while he gained a lot of good experience due to four years in college, there are a lot of younger players that can produce like he can. Still, that experience factor as well as being a clutch player that can lead his team will undoubtedly get himself a roster spot on the team and, with a few years of seasoning, McNeal could be a very serviceable role player in the NBA.

My prediction: 2nd Round, 42nd overall to the Miami Heat

April 15, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles, NBA, NBA Draft | | Leave a comment

Early 2009-10 NCAA Basketball Top 25

While the NBA Draft will change many things in these rankings, it is never too early to look towards next year in college basketball. There are still significant players on significant teams that may choose to take their name out of the draft (Johnny Flynn, Jodie Meeks, Willie Warren) and others that will more than likely enter their names into the draft (Gerald Henderson, Wayne Ellington) that will change these rankings. But for now, enjoy them, debate them, or tell me why I am dead wrong or missed a team.

1. Kansas Jayhawks– It is likely that Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins will both come back, leaving this team with their two best players from last year. Also, the Jayhawks’ young guns will have another year of experience under their belt now with tournament time. Also, Bill Self is bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and word is ex-Memphis recruit Xavier Henry (4th ranked recruit in the nation) wants to come to Kansas. This squad could be loaded.

2. Michigan State Spartans– While Goran Suton leaves the team, just about everyone is back from last year’s championship team including the core of Kalin Lucas and Chris Allen. If last season taught us anything, it is to never doubt Tom Izzo’s teams, and next year will be no exception.

Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcats will be a top 5 team next year, bringing back a loaded backcourt with a highly recruited frontcourt.

Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcats will be a top 5 team next year, bringing back a loaded backcourt with a highly recruited frontcourt.

3. Villanova Wildcats– I love what the Wildcats will bring back next year and have to make them the favorite in the Big East, regardless of if Johnny Flynn comes back next year. Dante Cunningham is the only loss to note and Jay Wright brings in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, replacing Cunningham with big men Isaiah Armwood and Mouphtaou Yarou.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels– Amazingly, this team can lose Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, and probably Wayne Ellington and still come into next year as one of the nation’s most talented teams. Marcus Ginyard will return from injury and join youngsters Ed Davis and Deon Thompson and freshman phenom John Henson in a loaded lineup next year. UNC does not rebuild. They reload.

5. Purdue Boilermakers– I absolutely love what Purdue will bring to the table next year as JuJaun Johnson, Robbie Hummell, and E’Twaun Moore all return to the team. As is the case for most Big Ten teams, this team will have another year of experience under their belt after being very young last year and could make a run to the Final Four next year if everything goes right.

6. Duke Blue Devils– Gerald Henderson is good enough to be a lottery pick and will most likely leave for the Association, but other than that everyone will be back for Coach K. Another solid recruiting class and four returning starters means that Duke’s expectations will be high again, but can they live up to them this year?

7. Syracuse Orange– This spot is completely dependent on whether or not Johnny Flynn will come back or not, but in the end I think the deep PG class will scare him away and bring him back. Because of this, the Orange will compete for the Big East despite the losses of Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf as they bring back Flynn, Andy Rautins, and Arinze Onuaku and another solid recruiting class. If Flynn leaves, they will be on the cusp of the Top 25.

8. Texas Longhorns– Despite the loss of A.J. Abrams, the Longhorns return just about everyone from last year’s team as well as two top-15 recruits for next year’s team. They are very balanced and will be a veteran-laced team poised to make a run at the Big 12 Title and in the Big Dance come March.

9. Kentucky Wildcats– It will be an interesting next couple of months for newly appointed head coach John Calipari. On one hand, you have Jodie Meeks declaring early and Patrick Patterson (for now) deciding to stay and I think that will remain, with Meeks leaving. Coming in is Demarcus Cousins and potentially John Wall, two of the highest ranked freshman next year that will give Calipari a stud point guard, small forward, and big man in Patterson.

10. West Virginia Mountaineers– West Virginia was one of my favorite teams last year and, despite their first round exit to Dayton, their young stars blossomed towards the end of the year and will only get better this year. Alex Ruoff leaves but Joe Mazzulla comes back after shoulder surgery to join a stacked West Virginia team next year.

11. Butler Bulldogs– Just like West Virginia, Butler sports one of the youngest and u-and-coming teams in the nation and will be in good shape for another NCAA Tournament run next year. Exceeding expectations last year was nice, but this is really the year for Butler to make things happen.

12. Tennessee Volunteers– Despite Tyler Smith declaring for the draft, the 6’7” small forward still may come back in the end, and this ranking is based on him doing so. The backcourt comes back fully in tact and Wayne Chism is as solid of an all around 6’9” player as you will find in the nation.

13. Clemson Tigers– Trevor Booker announcing he would come back next year was huge as the Tigers bring back everyone but K.C. Rivers. Terrence Oglesby is one of the best pure shooters in the nation and this could be the year that Clemson lives up to expectations and challenges Duke and UNC for the ACC title into March.

14. Xavier Musketeers– Despite the losses of B.J. Raymond and C.J. Anderson, Xavier will bring back a loaded roster along with the additions of transfer Jordan Crawford and recruit Kevin Parrom. Hopefully the loss of Sean Miller will not throw off the team’s chemistry and that they can make the right hire to replace him.

15. Washington Huskies– Recruit Adbul Gaddy (9th ranked recruit in the nation) highlights next season’s backcourt duo with Isaiah Thomas and, despite the losses of forward Jon Brockman and sharpshooter Justin Dentmon, the Huskies should be just fine. Quincy Pondexter will be back next year and should be able to show off his talent more with the losses of Brockman and Dentmon.

What Isaiah Thomas lacks for in size, he makes up with speed and quickness and is a main reason Washington will be ranked next year again.

What Isaiah Thomas lacks for in size, he makes up with speed and quickness and is a main reason Washington will be ranked next year again.

16. Gonzaga Bulldogs– Despite the losses of their three best players in Josh Heytvelt, Jeremey Pargo, and Micah Downs, the Zags will be back next year with a very solid core group of players that will be back in the tournament and make a quiet run as they always do.

17. Michigan Wolverines– If Manny Harris stays, this team could be very dangerous next year. The Wolverines seem to be improving every year and if Harris returns with Deshawn Sims, Michigan will improve their young players and make the tournament once again.

18. Dayton Flyers– Dayton seems to be a team that continues to fly under the radar despite their success. High-flying Chris Wright will lead the team into another Atlantic 10 battle with Xavier and their experience will help them as they make a run into March.

19. Cal Golden Bears– Cal brings back all five of their starters that made the tournament last year as a seven seed and will look for more success next year. Patrick Christopher will come back and as a result, Mike Montgomery should have this team in the race for the Pac-10.

20. Connecticut Huskies– Despite the huge losses of Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet, and A.J. Price, the Huskies will bring back Stanley Robinson, Kemba Walker and a healthy Jerome Dyson (don’t forget about him). Jim Calhoun is back and has to be chomping at the bit to get started on another season after failing to make the Championship Game last year and will do so with a talented team. Recruit Alex Oriakhi and Darius Smith highlight a very talented recruiting class, as well.

With UConn's three best players leaving the team, sophomore Kemba Walker will be asked to take his game to another level if the Huskies want to compete in the Big East.

With UConn's three best players leaving the team, sophomore Kemba Walker will be asked to take his game to another level if the Huskies want to compete in the Big East.

21. Boston College Golden Eagles– Despite the loss of Tyrese Rice, BC returns a very good class with a whole lot of depth. Led by Reggie Jackson and one of my favorite players Rakeem Sanders, the Golden Eagles will be able to score at will and Joe Sanders and Corey Raji will hold down the frontcourt.

22. Oklahoma Sooners– This ranking is based on my thinking that Willie Warren will come back next year and lead a team that loses the Griffin brothers but is still talented. Tony Crocker had a huge tournament and will be called upon to step up in a big way next year. The Sooners also have a top recruiting class that will be expected to come in right away and produce.

23. Florida Gators– If Nick Calathes comes back next year; Florida will be back in the SEC mix and make a run at the tournament. Kenny Boynton (9th overall in the nation) will be a superstar for Billy Donovan and Chandler Parsons has showed a lot of potential that hopefully can be used this year for the Gators.

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs– If Jarvis Varnardo does not enter his name into the NBA Draft, he will make the Bulldogs a tournament team once again and also be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Senior Barry Stewart will lead an experienced backcourt and highly touted freshman shooting guard Shaunessy Smith will provide scoring right away.

25. Illinois Fighting Illini– The Illini seem to be in the mix every year and will look to use valuable experience gained last year with an older team and highly ranked recruiting class, led by D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul. Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis should have huge years to lead the Illini to a tournament bid.

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, North Carolina Tar Heels | , , | 5 Comments

Why Rickie Weeks Is Starting to Get It

Rickie Weeks enters his fifth full season as the Milwaukee Brewers second baseman under the most pressure of any player on the team.  Since being drafted second overall in the 2003 MLB Draft, Weeks has not lived up to expectations, sporting a career .244 batting average and an on-base percentage of just .352 despite being in the leadoff position the majority of his career.

However, six games into the year it seems as though Weeks is starting to put it all together and become a much better all-around player for the Brewers.  One of the biggest knocks on Weeks was his inability in the field, averaging just under 18 errors per season from 2005-2008.  Already, Weeks seems much more relaxed in the field and has made a couple stellar plays in the field to rob hits.  Despite one error on the year already, his arm looks stronger and

At the plate, Weeks is currently batting .280 with a home run, four RBI’s, four runs and a stolen base, and an on-base percentage of .357.  Do not get me wrong as we are six games into the season and this start could be nothing more than a flash in the pan for the second baseman.  But something in Weeks’ step makes me believe that this could be the breakout year.  For whatever it’s worth, he batted .312 in spring training with a .424 on-base percentage and worked with Willie Randolph to improve his game.

Rickie Weeks is entering his fifth full season at second base and is still looking to live up to his potential.

Rickie Weeks is entering his fifth full season at second base and is still looking to live up to his potential.

Possibly the most important improvement to his game might be the fire that he has shown early in the season.  In a very sluggish start to the season for the Brewers as a whole, Weeks has been upbeat and shown the will to win.  In the Cubs game, his double to tie the game ended with a huge fist pump and clap from Weeks to give the team intensity. Then, his hustle to get to third resulted in the chance for him to score, which he did with a head first slide and throwing his helmet down to share in the celebration.

I like what I have seen early from Weeks and hope that it continues, both in the field and at the plate, but more importantly in the dugout with the rest of the team.  Hopefully he can spark the Brewers and their slow start.

April 12, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB | | Leave a comment

Packers Mock Draft and Offseason 2.0

Free Agent Signings

Anthony Smith, FS/SS, 6′1″, 200 lbs.
Why? Smith has already been signed by the Pack and he will bring some depth to a safety position that really lacks it. Charles Woodson was forced to see some time there last year and it really threw things off. I don’t expect him to start but depth is never bad in this league.

Jarett Bush, CB/ST, 6′0″, 200 lbs.
Why? Tennessee originally signed an offer sheet for the special teamer, but the Packers matched it and, although I don’t agree with it, I have learned never to doubt Ted Thompson. Bush will bring depth to the defensive back position and is a solid special teamer.

Duke Preston adds depth and versatility to Green Bay's offensive line.

Duke Preston adds depth and versatility to Green Bay's offensive line.

Duke Preston, OG, 6’5”, 326 lbs.
Why? Preston was a very low-key signing but has the potential to end up being a much bigger one in the end. He started 11 games at center last year but also saw time at both right guard and right tackle. On the depth chart, there is a good chance you will see him at right guard, but I think he is quick enough to play right tackle.

Tory Humphrey, TE, 6’2”, 255 lbs.
Why? I was very happy that the Packers decided to resign Humphrey as I see a lot of promise in him. He had 11 receptions last year but saw very limited action and never got into a rhythm. If Donald Lee struggles early and Jermichael Finley does not progress, Humphrey will get a lot more looks this year.

Jason Hunter, LB/ST, 6’4”, 271 lbs.
Why? Another signing that made a lot of sense as Hunter is probably the team’s best special teams player. I do not think he fits in the 3-4 scheme on defense any better than the 4-3 scheme, but his presence in the special teams department warrants him a spot on this team.

Vonnie Holliday, DE, 6’5”, 288 lbs.
Why? I think Holliday will wind up making his second stint in Green Bay as a defensive end in Dom Capers’ scheme. Holliday has not gotten a lot of looks from teams and this signing could come much later in the off-season (especially depending on the draft), much like Charles Woodson.

2009 NFL Draft

#9. Aaron Maybin, Penn State, OLB, 6’4”, 250 lbs.
Why? Maybin is a physical freak and reminds me a lot of Jason Taylor and could see him being the best player available on the board after Stafford, J. Smith, Curry, Crabtree, Orakpo, A. Smith, E. Monroe, and Jenkins are taken. He is probably the best pass rushing outside linebacker for the 3-4 scheme and will start from Day 1 alongside Aaron Kampman. I see a lot of DeMarcus Ware in him when I watch him. He is absolutely relentless.

Jarron Gilbert can come in right away and help at the DE spot on rushing downs as well as the NT position on passing downs.

Jarron Gilbert can come in right away and help at the DE spot on rushing downs as well as the NT position on passing downs.

#41. Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State, DE, 6’5”, 285 lbs.
Why? While a lot of people do not think that he will be here in this spot, the amount of good defensive ends going before him makes me think he might slip. If he does, it will address another big need for the Packers at the defensive end spot. Johnny Jolly and Justin Harrell can not be expected to be the only rotation players at the DE spot, and even with Jenkins coming back, one more body will not hurt. He will also be able to move inside to NT on passing downs.

#73. Shonne Greene, Iowa, RB, 5’10”, 230 lbs.
Why? It isn’t a huge need for the Packers at the moment, but it never hurts to have a plethora of good running backs. Ryan Grant is an excellent running back and Brandon Jackson is progressing very nicely, but as many teams in the league are showing, having that bruiser on third and short can be a huge advantage and I really like what Greene brings to the table. Definitely a value pick here.

#83. Duke Robinson, Oklahoma, OG, 6’5”, 330 lbs.
Why? Robinson is a very big boy but also moves very well for his size and should do just fine in the zone blocking scheme. The Packers have a lot of good depth at the tackle position (Colledge, Moll, Giacomini) but lack some depth at the guard position, especially if Scott Wells is gone in a few years. Teddy likes to build his line later in the draft and Robinson is a stud.

Michael Hamlin has a great frame and is excellent in coverage as well.

Michael Hamlin has a great frame and is excellent in coverage as well.

#109. Michael Hamlin, Clemson, S, 6’2”, 214 lbs.
Why? When I look at Hamlin, I see Aaron Rouse with much better coverage skills. Hamlin recorded 110 tackles and six interceptions his senior year and was an absolute playmaker for the Tigers. He will join a backfield of safeties that, other than Collins, have an open competition going if Atari Bigby continues to struggle.

#145. Chris Baker, Hampton, NT, 6’2”, 325 lbs.
Why? A little known prospect, Baker has all the tools to be a great player in the NFL if he can put it all together. His junior year he had 16.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks and will add good depth to the Packers defensive line.  He is definitely a project but has a ton of upside as he started his career at Penn State before winding up at Hampton.

#182. Patrick Turner, USC, WR, 6’5”, 225 lbs.
Why? I still do not think that Ruvell Martin will be back with the team and that Thompson will find a replacement for him. Turner can be that guy. Expected to follow in the footsteps of Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Williams, and Dwayne Jarrett, Turner was just average at USC and lacked ideal speed to catch the deep ball. Fortuantely, in the Packers West Coast Offense, Turner will be able to use his size to contribute to the team.

#187. Britton Colquitt, Tennessee, P, 6’2”, 207
Why?
After seeing Derrick Frost, “Frosty the Shankman” as some forum writers called him, it is time to bring in all the competition we can and find the best punter. Not that our defense was any good, it did not help when the opposing team’s offense had a very short field to start with. Colquitt is a beast and did very well for the Volunteers last year, averaging 43.4 yards per punt last year.

#218. Traded for a 2010 6th round draft pick…

April 11, 2009 Posted by | Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Draft | , , , | Leave a comment

Grading Out the 2008 Marquette Golden Eagles: Frontcourt

Dwight Burke, PF, 2.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.2 assists
Burke started out the year with the tag no one wanted on the market team: the big man. In what seemed like an oxymoron in Marquette’s three-guard, two forward offense, the “big man” was going to have to do all the dirty work and take none of the credit.

True to Dwight Burke’s label, that’s exactly what he did and, in the end, Marquette was a much better team all around because of it.

Burke started in all 35 games for the Golden Eagles, and while his minutes dropped as the season went on and Jimmy Butler became more meshed with the offense, Burke never complained or showed frustration for being taken out.

He posted career highs in points and rebounds while also tying his career highs for field goal percentage and assists. While Burke was hardly ever the go-to guy in the Marquette offense, he played within the offense very well and was a crisp passer, both down on the low block and up at the top of the key.

Having the experience played a key role in this as the chemistry of the seniors that was talked about so much was made possible in part to Burke’s play.

On defense, Burke had the daunting task of taking the other team’s big man night in and night out. In the Big East, this included Hasheem Thabeet, DeJuan Blair, Luke Harangody, and Greg Monroe. On the year, Burke also faced up against Tennessee’s Wayne Chism, Missouri’s Demarre Carroll, Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson, and Samardo Samuels among others.

Dwight Burke started all 35 games for the Marquette Golden Eagles and was a key reason to their success this year.

Dwight Burke started all 35 games for the Marquette Golden Eagles and was a key reason to their success this year.

While Burke was usually outmatched on a nightly basis from a height standpoint, he did a fine job holding his own and fared better than anyone else would have in the Marquette lineup.

Regardless of the over-aggressive play that Burke sometimes got himself into trouble with, he was still put into crucial roles for this small Marquette team and was a stopgap for teams inside. Without Burke, the Golden Eagles would have seen their points in the paint and field goal percentage both go up on defense.

He finished his Marquette career with ten rebounds in the loss to Missouri, a seemingly fitting way for Burke to go out with his quiet performance but solid performance all around. GRADE: C

Pat Hazel, 2.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.0 assists

For whatever reason, Pat Hazel simply has not worked out at Marquette. In his sophomore year, he was looking to get more minutes with the departure of Ousmane Barro and the lack of depth in the Marquette frontcourt.

He started the year the year off nicely with games of seven and ten points and played 22 minutes in both contests. He even recorded a block in Marquette’s first four games of a year and was very stout on defense, but never really got into the rhythm of Marquette’s rotation.

He found himself getting extended minutes in the Big East opener against Villanova, but after his poor performance saw double digit minutes just four more times the rest of the season and did not play in 13 of the team’s last 15 games. I personally thought that Hazel should have been seeing more minutes before Jimmy Butler got rolling, but it was not meant to be and it seems as though Hazel is on his way out.

Marquette is currently one scholarship over the limit, and if Liam McMorrow is deemed healthy by the staff for next year, it is generally assumed that Pat Hazel will transfer. It is a sad ending for the last of Tom Crean’s 2007 recruiting class, but hopefully Hazel will succeed in the future where he is able to log more minutes and really show off his defensive ability. GRADE: D-

Chris Otule, 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.0 assists

Otule was a project from the beginning of the season to the end, and whatever progress that might have been made throughout the season was not seen in any game action, not that it was Otule’s fault.

He may be asked to do more next season and hopefully he can improve his hands and fundamentals. He seemed very raw in the gametime he did see and, although just a freshman, looked a little lost on the court at times. Still, it never hurts to have a seven-footer in the program and if Otule can get a fire lit underneath him, he could do well next year.

His best game was a four point, five rebound performance against Presbyterian, but the turnovers will need to stop and his hands will need to improve. GRADE: INC

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , | Leave a comment