Thursday, April 29, 2010

10 Really, Really Early Predictions for the 2010 Season

So, the draft is over. That may be, but I am still enjoying my week to return to the NFL. The NFL became my crutch, my alcohol or drugs. I had to go clean for three months, and I did just that, writing nothing about the league until draft time. Well, I'll say that these two weeks are my relapse. I'm falling off the wagon back into the NFL full-bore. I'll clean myself up after this column. I'll have finals to take my mind of sports of any kind, and then summer will release tennis, baseball and the culmination of what is going to be a filthily exciting NBA playoffs finish. Anyway, this is the last NFL column until Training Camps break in mid-July, so savor it. I know I will. Here are 10 Predictions for the upcoming seasons. If any of the teams listed in the predictions lose their quarterback, or any player that is the focal point of a player prediction gets injured, than that prediction is null and void. Okay, let's go to my final binge of my relapse before its back to rehab!

1.) The league's defenses make a comeback.

2009 was the year of the quarterback. There were 10 QBs that threw for 4,000 yards (Schaub, Manning, Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Romo, Rivers, Favre, Manning). In 2010, there will be maximum of 7, which is more in line with years past. Even league scoring was up. There were a lot of historically bad offenses, which made the league average stable, but there were four teams that scored over 450 points (Saints, Packers, Vikings, Chargers). 2010 will see defenses return to form. I predict that the Jets, Ravens and Bengals highlight a defensive return. Most people will write that it is some sort of rebirth of defense, but that would show that they failed to see that just one season prior in 2008, defense ruled the land. Anyway, defense will make a huge comeback. There will be games played with the score of 20-17, a lot of them.

2.) Aaron Rodgers falls back to earth, but the team does not.

Rodgers has had a storybook start to his career, crossing the 4,000 yd mark in each of his two seasons, and throwing 58 tds to just 20 ints. Well, it takes a finite amount of time for a league to gameplan for someone. That time has passed. Rodgers' magic carpet ride will end. Now, he will still have good numbers, but a 3,800-4,100 yd, 27 td, 14 int season is in store. Of course, for most QBs those are great numbers, but for Rodgers off the year he had, they won't be. However, this will not spell doom for his Packers, as the Pack will get the best defensive performance in the NFC. It sounds crazy, as they were last seen giving up 51 points in a playoff game, but with a whole season under Dom Capers' belt, the Packers 3-4 should be as good as ever, now with the inclusion of top prospect B.J. Raji. Also, Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson were a great 1-2 punch late last year. They will be able to play with added dimensions, and race to the NFC top seed.

3.) The Panthers make a playoff push, setting up the best internal QB controversy since Rivers vs. Brees in Moore vs. Clausen.

I heard a lot of talk after Jimmy Clausen was drafted at the #48 spot that he would see action this year. That's bull. Matt Moore was 4-1 as a starter down the stretch. He also heads a Carolina team good enough to win 12 games. Don't believe me. That same Carolina team won 12 games in 2008. Since then, DeAngelo Williams has proved he is not a fluke, Jonathan Stewart has gotten better creating the best 1-2 punch in the league, and their defensive youth has all entered their primes. They were 8-8 last year with bad QB play for the majority of the season. Moore can provide good enough play at the position for the Panthers to threaten the Saints atop the NFC South. Now, I do not think that Matt Moore will ever be a stat-QB like a Manning, or even a Rivers. No, he has his limitations. The peak for Moore is probably Jeff Garcia. That will lead to a return of the old 2005 Brees vs. Rivers debate. It went on and on, and finally GM A.J. Smith picked Phil Rivers, packing Brees off to San Diego in the move that changed the football landscape in New Orleans forever. We might see a repeat, so one club around the league, get ready for Matt Moore mania. I'm looking at you, Buffalo.

4.) The Broncos don't win 4 games.

They stink. Plain and simple. Their top receiver is Eddie Royal, whose production last year fell off a cliff from 91 catches and 980 yards to just 37 catches and 345 yards. Their top tight end is Daniel Graham, who is a geriatric at this point. Top draft pick Knowshown Moreno had a 3.8 ypc last year. They don't even have a Brandon Marshall to command attention. Finally their QBs are the definition of average (Orton), failure (Brady Quinn) and overrated messiah (Tebow). Of course, their best player, LT Ryan Clady, decided to tear his patella tendon playing basketball. Then there's that defense, which gave up 25.8 ppg in their 2-8 finish to their season. Of course, that was with Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator, and he's a much better coordinator than their current one. If I were Pat Bowlen, I would play this season out, go 2-14, fire McDaniels on his ass, and then hire an actual coach like Billick, Gruden or even Mike Mularkey, who deserves another chance.

5.) The Raiders win at least 7.

The antithesis of the Broncos are the Raiders, in that they have acquired talent, instead of shipping it out of town. They won draft weekend by picking the top linebacker, adding another able body to a good defensive line, and added a top-15 QB in Jason Campbell. This was a 5-11 team capable of beating Cincinnati (10-6), Philly (11-5), Denver (8-8 - they were average last year) and Pittsburgh (9-7 - fighting for their lives in Heinz) last year with JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski and without Rolando McLain. They will finally lose in the single digits, and have a shot at a wild card. It's simple math. Campbell can lead this team, and the biggest problem with the Raiders is mental. They got up for tough games. If they win the games they should win, they will be fine. I say they should go no worse than 3-3 in the division, so assuming they go 3-3, they can beat Seattle and St. Louis at home. Say they get one in trips to Arizona and San Fran, that's six wins. Then if they beat Jacksonville or Miami (in Oakland) there's seven. They can do it. They will do it.

6.) Week 17 becomes only marginally more interesting.

In his latest brilliant plan, High School Principal Roger Goodell decided to schedule all Week 17 games as division games to entice teams to play their starters. He is so dumb. This is not going to do anything. The team that essentially is responsible for this move, the Colts (who sat their starters when they were 14-0, if you somehow forgot), rested their starters two years in a row in Week 17 against the Titans, at home no less. These teams don't care. First of all, if this rule was in place this year, seven of the eight divisions were locked up by Week 17. The only intriguing Week 17 games (which makes the Week interesting at all) are Chicago hosting the Packers, which could have some division influence if the Bears do really well, and Bengals at Ravens. In fact, I am totally looking forward to the Bengals and Ravens deciding the division in Week 17 as the Sunday Night Game.

7.) There will be at least 6 coaches that will lose their job for 2011.

This past season there were only three coaching changes, with Mike Shanahan taking over in Washington, Pete Carroll in San Diego and Chan Gailey in Buffalo. That is the definition of lame. The hot seat is great. Here are my six that I predict will be goners: Wade Philips in Dallas (more on that later), Norv Turner in San Diego, Josh McDaniels in Denver (it would be two years too many), Eric Mangini in Cleveland (I'm amazed Holmgren brought him back this year), Todd Haley in Kansas City (angry will only get angrier) and Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville. Other possibilities include Mr. Bradley Childress in Minnesota, Andy Reid if this McNabb thing backfires (a long shot), Raheem Morris in Tampa and Lovie Smith in Chicago. I'm not including the "lame duck" John Fox for a reason. I think they will make the playoffs and surprise.

8.) Six of the 2009 Playoff teams don't make the playoffs, and there will be 5 new Division winners

Every year, experts make predictions as to who will make the playoffs at the start of the season. Every year those experts include like nine or ten of the previous years playoff teams. Every year it is ridiculous. Just take recent memory:

2007 Playoffs: BAL, NYJ, KC, CHI, NO, PHI out. PIT, JAX, TEN, GB, TB, WAS in.
2008 Playoffs: NE, JAX, DAL, GB, SEA, TB, WAS out. MIA, BAL, CAR, MIN, ARZ, ATL, PHI in.
2009 Playoffs: TEN, PIT, MIA, NYG, CAR, ATL out. NE, CIN, NYJ, NO, DAL, GB in.

So, in the last three years, out of the 36 teams that qualified for the playoffs, only seventeen made it the year before. So, regardless of my power rankings, I will stick to this model, and say that half of last years playoff teams don't make it. As for division winners, that's even more fungible than playoff teams. I say the AFC East and West and the NFC East, North and West have new winners. Anyway, here are the teams in and out.

  • Texans: It's their time. I think they will be one of the top two or three offenses in the league. If they had a kicker, they were a playoff team last year.
  • Raiders: Yes, the Raiders. I have to think of another one, and I think that the Bengals, Ravens, Jets and Colts are all better this year. My original pick was Pittsburgh replacing one of their two AFC North bretheren, but I just can't do it with Ben's suspension, and the fact that the Bengals and Ravens are, in my opinion, the 2nd and 4th best teams in the AFC. So, I'll assume Rivers gets hurt, and the Silver and Black win their division.
  • Giants: The Eagles are out of it now with the McNabb trade. Its the Giants, Redskins and Dallas. The Redskins would work here too, but I have faith that the Giants collapse last year was an aberration.
  • Bears: Cutler and Martz can make beautiful music together. Peppers is the perfect guy for that defense, and they get Urlacher back. They can nab that second wild card spot.
  • 49ers: That is a weak enough division that they are now the class of it. I like where they are coming into the year. The Rams are at minimum three years away. The Seahawks are probably closer, but still have a ways to go. The Cardinals have to regress with Leinart, plus the 49ers own the Cardinals in recent years.
  • Panthers: They have the best running game, and if they had a normal game manager at QB last year (see: Delhomme, 2008 version), instead of Turnocer McInterception (see: Delhomme, 2009 version), they were a playoff team last year
  • Chargers: Someone has to be out.
  • Vikings: Again, someone has to be out, and that division got a whole lot tougher. Favre cannot possibly have that good of a year again, and Peterson took a step back in 2009.
  • Cowboys: Now that the pressure is back on, they might just fold again. I still don't trust that team because they still have trouble putting points up. In their last 12 games, they only scored more than 24 once.
  • Eagles: McNabb is gone. Needs no explanation; however, if you must have one, see what happened to Green Bay in 2008.
  • Cardinals: Read above, and replace "McNabb" with "Warner".
And that leaves out....

9.) The Patriots don't make the playoffs.

The Patriots. First, they only won that division by one game last year, and even then they were gone in the first round losing by nineteen at home, while the second place team got to the AFC Title Game where they led by 11 before inevitably being outclassed, and that second place team is better today than it was on the day of the Title Game. The thorn in the side of the Patriots, the Dolphins, also got better, getting a much needed possession receiver. Also, the Bears, Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Colts and Packers all got better, and all six of those teams are on the Patriots schedule, including trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Patriots also, if you take out their three biggest wins (59-0 over a dead Titans team, and two 35-7 wins over the Bucs in London and against a dead Jaguars team) outsocred their opponents 298-271 in 13 games going 7-6. They weren't even that good of a team last year. Sure, they had a nice draft, but so did almost every other AFC contender, and the Pats have Brady a year older, Moss a year older and Welker most likely out half a season. They did nothing to address their pass-rushing weakness either. Add it all up, and it will be a quiet winter in Foxboro.

10.) The Colts go further than the Saints

I'm not predicting a Super Bowl win now. I'm not even going to predict the playoff results (those things at the end of the last power rankings were more of early projections, not predictions). No, all I will say is this, that the Colts will be playing a meaningful game on a later date than the Saints. What is more interesting is that this is not some amazing prediction. There has long been talk of how there is a runner's-up curse in the NFL, where the team that lost the Super Bowl has faltered the following year. This is quite true, but since the 2004 Patriots went back-to-back, the super bowl winner has won all of one playoff game the following year (The 2005 Patriots beat Jacksonville in the Wild Card Round). The '06 Steelers, '07 Colts, '08 Giants, and '09 Steelers did not win a single game. Now, that doesn't mean those teams had bad years. Both Steeler teams missed the playoffs, but the Giants and Colts went a combined 25-7, but both lost their playoff opener at home after a bye. In that time, the runner up has twice missed the playoffs ('07 Bears, '08 Patriots), but the other two ('06 Seahawks, '09 Cardinals), not only made a playoff game, but won one each time. So, since the Pats went back-to-back, the Super Bowl winner has won one total playoff game, and the runner up has won two. That trend continues. The Colts win at least one more playoff game than the Saints do.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NFL Stadium Rankings

I've held off of this one for a while, but it's finally time. The draft has me thinking all football again, but in all reality we are still four months away, so why not do a quasi-football list to satisfy my football needs but also get into an architectural discussion. I have always been a fan of stadiums, and such, so here is the rankings of the 31 stadiums in the NFL, with the New Meadowlands Stadium included. The ranking is based on the look of the stadium, the atmosphere, location, and uniqueness. I have only seen games in three current stadium: Gillette Stadium, Lincoln Financial Field and M&T Bank Stadium, so take this list with a giant grain of salt. As a note, an open air stadium gets a better valuation than a dome. A retractable roof, which there are four of (Reliant, Lucas Oil, Cowboys, Univ. of Phoenix) gets no plus or minus. Here goes:

31.) The Georgia Dome

Someone (or some building, as it were) has to be last. That's the nature of lists. All I'll say is that the Georgia Dome is a bad enough venue that the league has no thoughts of playing the Super Bowl in Atlanta, even though it is a large city, has the busiest airport and great nightlife. That's says alot. It never seems to get too loud, even when the Falcons are good. It has its moments, but it seems to be a pretty dull dome over all.

30.) Jacksonville Municipal Stadium

The worst open air stadium gets that distinction for being way too open air. It has no uniqueness to it, but that is like a lot of open air stadium. What makes Jacksonville Municipal Stadium so bad is that, first its name is Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Then, it is on the waterfront but has no open area for a view of the river. It has no view at all, as it is quite outside of the city. It never gets loud, and has little atmosphere, although the Jaguars are more at fault than the stadium design. Since its not a dome, it doesn't get put behind the Georgia Dome.

29.) Qualcomm Stadium

It is the last true multi-use stadium, as the one in Miami and Oakland were built exclusively for football and baseball was later added, and it feels like it. The field is just way too far from the stands on the sides, and the only time it feels loud is close to the end zones. The stadium generally has a very San Diego calm feel on gameday, which does not help. Overral, just not a great experience for a game.

28.) Ralph Wilson Stadium

The Bills really need a new building. It's old, small, cramped and quiet. It can get loud at select times, but it's really just depressing. At least it is better than the crowds when the Bills play at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Those crowds truly suck. Also, there hasn't been any real great historical game other than the comeback in '94 against the Oilers.

27.) Pro Player/Land Shark/Sun Life Stadium

Having its name changed seemingly every fortnight does not help its cause. It is huge and ugly. The orange seats are a total eyesore. It gets loud for night games, but pretty much every stadium does that. It seems way to spread out, and has no view, and when you are in Miami, and since the Orange Bowl used to have palm trees lining one end zone, the fact that it is boxed in is a serious negative.

26.) FedEx Field

I have heard so many complaints about this place. Evidently, all it is was Dan Snyder trying to build the biggest stadium possible and not care about amenities, atmosphere or even technology. It fits, as it is just a giant bowl seating 90,000 people. The fans are always good, as Redskin fans are, but it lacks that electric atmosphere during night games that so many other stadiums have.

25.) Edward Jones Dome

Essentially the Georgia Dome, just with a roof that doesn't let sunlight in. Also, since the Rams suck terribly right now, it is easy to forget, but it is one of the more underratedly loud venues. Back in the Greatest Show on Turf Days the Eddie Dome (or at that time the TWA Dome) was as loud and electric as they come.

24.) Gillette Stadium

The worst of the stadiums built in the 2000s, it is essentially a mausoleum that hosts football games. Because of that open part with the "lighthouse" (really some weird phallic shape glowstick), sound just escapes creating a dead atmosphere at even the best of times. There is little to no redeeming factor, and even moreso since it has been a house of horrors for me. It is aesthetically a beautiful place, though.

23.) McAffee Coliseum

It's large. It's obtrusive. It has a giant stand on one side that takes away what would've been a nice view, but how can you not love it. When the Raiders are good, or even for any night game, the place gets insane. The lower bowl is really close to field level, so the fans have great interaction. It is a weird stadium built into the ground, instead of on top of it, so there is a canyon effect. Plus, there has been a lot of history in Al Davis' brainchild.

22.) LP Field

I have no idea what to say. I think this is a fair spot for one of the more bland stadiums. The atmosphere seems fine. The crowd gets loud. It has a nice view. But there is nothing unique or special about LP Field. But I think there is nothing wrong with having a truly average stadium. It's better than spending boatloads and striking out like the Pats did.

21.) Cleveland Browns Stadium

Again, nothing much to say here. I'll say this, that it has a nice build, where the stands create the canyon effect because they are angled more upright than most. However, this stadium just doesn't have any pizzazz. It's brown. It's big. It has an obstructed view of Lake Erie. Nothing special has ever happened there. I reserve judgement, because the Browns have never been good, so I have no idea what the real atmosphere is like.

20.) Bank of America Stadium

This is just as blah as LP Field or Cleveland Browns Stadium, but at least Bank of America Stadium was built to trap sound. It gets really loud. The sidelines are right on top of the field. It really is a slightly more modern version of the old Giants Stadium, where the stands domineering presence creates the atmosphere.

19.) Raymond James Stadium

It get's bonus points for the pirate ship. That is probably the most unique element of any stadium in the NFL, as well as the best stadium marketing tool. Also, Raymond James has the weird ability to hold 73,000 people, yet seem small and intimate. However, the crowds there suck.

18.) Soldier Field

If it was not renovated as drastically as it was, it would have been top-10. I will say this. Soldier Field is now louder and more concentrated before. It may look like a giant "spaceship" as many have claimed, but it is a compact spaceship. It is the smallest stadium in the NFL, and for good reason, as its tiny compact size allows it to fit on the pier, and create a great atmosphere.

17.) Ford Field

It is the most plain of the new indoor/retractable stadiums. It's only real barometer was Super Bowl XL. Now, Super Bowl crowds aren't usually a legitimate way to rate a stadium, but since that was like 87% Steeler fans, it can count as a real "home game' crowd. It wasn't all that. It seems way too spacious and open for an indoor stadium. Plus, it houses the Lions, so that has to knock it down a bit.

16.) Paul Brown Stadium

The jungle has it all. It leads off the top-16 which are all quality stadiums. The only reason it is not any higher is because it hasn't had any history happen inside of it. It is, however, a beautiful stadium, with a great view of the city behind it, and large stands that go between creating the canyon effect and being too open air. I'll say this, it is roughly a 10000% improvement from old Cinergy Field.

15.) HHH Metrodome

The only reason it sniffs the top-15 is because the atmosphere in the homer-dome is amazing. It gets as loud as anything. The old air-domes (said because the roofs are inflated with air. Other examples are the old RCA Dome and BC Place in Vancouver) trap noise perfectly. What knock it down though is it is ugly. It has large stands that are far away from the field, and has nothing unique about it at all. Still, the noise factor puts it in the top-half.

14.) Candlestick Park

Grading on history here. Walking in the stadium is to walk into one of four remaining hallowed grounds in the NFL, along with McAffee, Arrowhead and Lambeau. The amazing games and moments and players that have played on that field. Anyway, as for the stadium, it is like McAffee that it is built slightly in the ground, so it gives a great view of the bay, plus since the Giants left to Pac Bell, the new stand makes it seem like a much more intimate place than a giant baseball/football combination.

13.) University of Phoenix Stadium

I think it is a bit overrated because of the whole "retractable field" thing. It can get very, very loud, as evidenced by the Warner-Rodgers shootout last playoffs and the NFC Title Game the year before, but it is just ugly from the outside. It has been called the "Giant Toaster" by some, and that is at least more viable than the cactus it was supposed to replicate. Props though, should be given because the Cardinals had the WORST field before this in Sun Devil Stadium.

12.) Heinz Field

I wish they kept three rivers stadium, because there is a total lack of "hallowed grounds" like there are in baseball, but Heinz is a beauty. Much like its baseball partner, PNC Park, it offers a great view of the Allegheny River, and the wrought-iron towers flanking the scoreboard offer great views. It can great really loud when the Steelers are doing well, and just the sight of all the terrible towels are one to behold.

11.) Invesco Field at Mile High

Again, wish they kept the old mile high, but Invesco Field should not get knocked as it does. It is a beautiful stadium that totally creates the canyon effect, and gets really, really loud in big games. The stadium can get electric at night, and of course, it has the single greatest chant of any stadium, where the Bronco faithful yell "In-Com-Plete" after every incomplete pass. Listen for it next time you watch a game in Invesco.

10.) Arrowhead Stadium

This is really tough to rate. Arrowhead is unique because of its odd inverted saddle shape (yeah, that was the best comparison I could make). Arrowhead is one of the most historic stadiums in the league, as it is one of the few that were in use back when the merger happened in 1970. Also, back in the day, there was no stadium louder or more energized. However, that was a long time ago. New stadiums have become louder, and more energized, and the Chiefs depressing last decade has turned it into kind of a pititable pantheon for yesteryear.

9.) Meadowlands Stadium

This is a rating from pictures. It seems to be another great stadium that creates the canyon effect to great effect. It looks like a beauty, and from the outside it certainly is unique. My guess is that a brand-new stadium cannot be ranked any lower than ninth, other than Gillette of course.

8.) Cowboys Stadium

Jerry Jones would kill me if he saw this list. He may have spent over a billion buying Jerry-Mahal, but it is lacking in the most important thing a stadium can have: game day atmosphere. It may have a giant videoscreen, beautiful end windows, cage dancers and a unique roof. It is huge and pristine. However, it has none of the charm that Texas Stadium used to have. Like the rest of Dallas, it is a humongous, soulless building.

7.) Lucas Oil Stadium

It is spectacular to look at. It is beautiful inside. It has unique side panels that open up like large side windows. It has the most unique shape of any stadium in the league, as it is built to look like a warehouse on the outside. However, sound does not carry in that stadium as well as it did in the RCA Dome. It seems just a tad more quiet. Of course, it is still plenty electric and can get downright hysterical at times, but it just doesn't beat out the remaining six in terms atmosphere, and when you are this high in the list, it matters more than anything else.

6.) The Superdome

If this ranking was done 365 days ago, the Superdome probably wouldn't be this high, but after a year where it stood in the spotlight time and time again, it is hard not to elevate it into the top-6. The Superdome is the loudest dome stadium in the league. It probably has the best game-day atmosphere of any stadium. It is the volume equivalent of a aircraft carrier on gamedays. It has also been a symbol of architectural glory for this country, and has hosted more Super Bowls than any other bulding. This is the one place, other than the one at the top of the list, where I want to see a game before I die.

5.) Reliant Stadium

In 2010, the Texans will finally make the playoffs. They will also finally get multiple home night games. In those games, when the Texans are in the thick of the wildcard race, Reliant Stadium will finally feel like the building it truly is. From just a beauty standpoint, Reliant is the best indoor stadium of the league. It has a Texas-sizes spaciousness, but still retains a good canyon effect. It gets as electric as any other building, especially during a night game. When the Texans inevitably become a long-term contender, Reliant will take a firm place high above the Stadium Mountain.

4.) Qwest Field

It merits this spot just because it is the only building designed specifically for noise. It is also the most unique stadium in the league. It has the crows nest, which is the pointed, triangular west end zone with a large tower scoreboard. It has a large enough opening for beautiful views of Seattle's downtown. It has a roof for the stands, so most of the spectators are free from the eternal rain. It also has, again, a building built to retain sound. I still have never heard a building louder than the 2005 Title Game in Qwest. In terms of sound noise, it is the Gold Standard. In terms of pure aesthetic beauty, it is also the gold standard.

3.) Lincoln Financial Field

It is probably the most underrated stadium in the league. It looks like an old school multi-tiered stadium. However, it is so much more. It is a palacial home to the Eagles, with large open concourses, two statuesque endzone stands, and a great ability to retain sound. The Linc has been the home to many a big game since its inception in 2003. So many that it seems like it has been around for decades.

2.) M&T Bank Stadium

The ultimate modern outdoor stadium. It looks like a normal stadium from the outside, but M&T Bank Stadium is so much more than just an ordinary stadium. It is the definition of a stadium. It is the Grand Canyon, in terms of a canyon effect, where the stands seem to be rising at a 70% angle. It is large and truly spectacular. The Ravens fans violently cheer their team creating an added sense of electricity to the league's most jacked-up field. It truly is a beauty.

1.) Lambeau Field

Of course, nothing can top Lambeau. Situated in snowy Green Bay, Wisconsic, Lambeau is the Fenway Park/Wrigley Field/Yankee Stadium combined of the NFL. Just entering the stadium and looking at the hallowed field can give goosebumps. The Packer fans are as good as they come, just feeding off the energy already created by its mythic ground. There is no venue in America in any sport, now that Yankee Stadium is no more, that can compare to Lambeau. It is the perfect football stadium.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Post-Draft Power Rankings

Yes, the draft has changed things, certainly. No time for small talk, let's get to the rankings.

32.) Denver Broncos (pre-draft: 32)

Hey, I'm pretty sure that I had them here last year as well, and they ended up 8-8, however last year they had Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler, as well as Mike Nolan. Now they don't have any of those three, they have a logjam of average at QB, no good receiver, an aging o-line, and a geriatric defense. Also, they have a dictator of a head coach, and a man who just CANNOT draft. At all. His picks last year were awful, and drafting Tebow when the team had loads of other needs doesn't help much either. Mark my word: they will almost certainly suck.

31.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)

I like what they did in the draft, except they did not get a receiver other than Arrelyious Benn, who is not ready to play at a high level today. Their QB situation is still up in arms and they have a coach who is still over his head. I'll say this about the Bucs, though, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price will make it very hard to run on the Bucs. There is something positive, I guess.

30.) Kansas City Chiefs (29)

The first team to move goes down one spot. I really was not that impressed with Kansas City's draft. Sure, Eric Berry is a good player, a great one, in fact. But really? Dexter McCluster? Another running back to a team with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. Really? Javier Arenas? A kick returner? Come on. They need some more on the o-line at tackle. Jon Asamoah is nice, but at the end of the day, guards can't really change games like that. They need some serious work.

29.) St. Louis Rams (30)

I like what they did, so I bumped them up a spot. They got the best QB in the draft, and a very NFL-ready Left Tackle to protect him in Roger Saffold. They have the people to protect the QB, they have people to catch the ball, and they have a beast at running back. Sadly, their defense is still a mess, but at least there is marked improvement on one side of the ball, and for a team that has won only six games in the last three years, that means alot.

28.) Jacksonville Jaguars (26)

The first team to take a multi-spot fall, the Jaguars see themselves slide back. This is probably an overreaction, since David Garrard is a league average QB, and they still have MJD and Mike Sims-Walker, but Tyson Alualu? That deserves a drop. They drafted two DTs in their first two picks when they play in the passing conference (most of the running teams reside in the NFC). They have done little to upgrade their pass rush than a signing of an injured, old Aaron Kampman. I want Jacksonville to do well since I don't want to see them leave, but its hard.

27.) Buffalo Bills (28)

Somehow, they move up a spot only because their draft wasn't as bad as Jacksonville's, and they never seem to totally hit rock bottom, as they hover mindlessly among the 4-7 win category. If I were the Bills I would throw the season just to get the chance to draft Jake Locker. In fact, if I were Pat Bowlen, I would do the same, just so I could fire Josh McDaniels and draft Locker. Anyway, Spiller will provide some nice excitement, and that defense should help Buffalo steal 5 games.

26.) Detroit Lions (27)

I like where they are headed. One more good draft and they are a wild-card sleeper in 2011. Coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Meyhew have a plan, know their weaknesses and are addressing them. They have now surrounded Stafford with playmakers on offense, and drafted the anchor for what they hope will help resurge the league's worst defense in 2009. Dare I say it, the Lions seem like a well-run franchise.

25.) Cleveland Browns (25)

They just have a brutal division, because they have the talent there to win 8 games. Eric Mangini, for all his faults, can coach defense with any players. Now, he has actual players, like Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Chris Gocong. You know, players. However, that offense is still below average and Colt McCoy, who I think will be a good to very good NFL QB, will not contribute in 2009. They are headed the right way.

24.) Arizona Cardinals (20)

It's strange that the Cardinals will take the worst fall in the pre-to-post-draft rankings, since I liked their draft. However, I overrated them at first. I forgot how big the drop is between hall-of-famer Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart. This can easily be a 6 win team, which is what the 24th best team is. They still have talent, but they have alot of youth on defense, and although they drafted a damn good player as his replacement, Karlos Dansby and Antrell Rolle will be missed.

23.) Philadelphia Eagles (22)

They didn't do enough on draft to to help their stock since the teams in similar positions in the pre-draft rankings had great drafts. They are nowhere near this bad in actuality, but as seen by Aaron Rodgers in 2008, a young green QB, even one as talented as Kolb, taking over for a future hall-of-famer will lower a teams win totals dramatically in year one. I don't think it will be as drastic, since the Packers won 7 less games, but a 7-9 year is not out of the question.

22.) Seattle Seahawks (24)

Man, did they have a good draft. It can become a great one if Leon Washington rebounds from his knee injury. Russell Okung will be a star. Earl Thomas adds another weapon to a young, but talented defense. I just wish I could trust the Hawks at QB, with an aging and oft-injured Hasselbeck, and at head coach. Carroll is a step-up from Jimmy Mora, but he's a step down from Holmgren. And with the Walrus at the helm, this is a ten win team.

21.) Oakland Raiders (23)

They won the draft, and there is no Raiders curve here. They really had a great draft as they picked up solid players in the first two rounds, then three high-upside picks in rounds 3-4, and a couple more nice pieces. The key is Jason Campbell. He's a league-average QB, and he can help the Raiders tremendously. I mean, the Raiders beat the Eagles with JaMarcus last year, and the Bengals and Steelers with Bruce Gradkowski. Campbell can get the nation to 8-8.

20.) Washington Redskins (21)

The team that got rid of Campbell did nothing to truly help them on draft day, but they get up a spot because they are a shade better than the team they traded Campbell to, and the Eagles got worse. The Redskins are a fringe playoff contender, and I would not be schocked in the least if they make the playoffs, but in all honesty, the NFL is filled with fringe playoff contenders. Everyone from 24 down I can conceivably see in the playoffs.

19.) Miami Dolphins (17)

They get knocked for a less than draft. They did address their huge need, in getting Kao Misi, but they did not address their need at TE or at the defensive end position. I think they are one year away, and will eventually replace the Pats as the other team in the AFC East by 2012. Parcells knows what he's doing, and so does Tony Sparano. The key is Chad Henne, as if he develops they could challenge that 9-7, 10-6 barrier, and with Marshall as a great short-ball target, he should develop.

18.) Chicago Bears (15)

They get knocked for an average draft day as well. They had little margin for error, becuase they lost their first (Cutler trade) and second (Gaines Adams) picks in the draft. Major Wright and Corey Wooten are both good players (Wooten especially) and should help that defense, but they did not get anyone, through free agency or draft, to help out at WR, which remains a black-hole of average heading into the season. Good news for Bears fans is that Martz has done a lot with even lesser talent at WR.

17.) San Francisco 49ers (18)

The only reason they jump up is because Chicago had a worse draft. They definitely improved their o-line with those top two picks, but they still have a need at corner and on the defensive line. Alex Smith should be an NFL-caliber player now, and he has no more excuse if he doesn't lead the niners to the playoffs. They are in the weakest division in the league, and he's got a high-priced o-line, a possession guy in Crabtree, a deep threat in Ginn and a beast in Vernon. They are primed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

16.) New England Patriots (14)

I'm gonna live and die with this prediction: The Patriots are NOT making the playoffs. They drafted nice players at TE and McCourty should help shore up an at times horrid secondary. But I am not a believer in Cunningham being a great impact player, and Spikes is vastly overrated. They still have holes at LB, age questions at d-line, and Moss another year older and Welker out for half the year. The Pats are teetering near the edge, and they need this years class to pan out and the 2009 draft class to get better really soon or they will fall off.

15.) Tennessee Titans (19)

I'm giving the Titans the biggest jump up because of Graham. He's an ideal Titan, and he made me remember that the Titans have stockpiled these type of defenders for years, like Jacob Ford, Jason Jones, David Ball, etc. They have a good defense, especially up front and Chris Johnson is still Chris Johnson. They're probably not as good as the team that finished the year 6-2, but are still a team that could win 10 games. Jeff Fisher still is an amazing coach.

14.) Atlanta Falcons (16)

They had a nice draft. Corey Peters and Jason Franks are solid players that are low-risk, medium-reward. Sean Witherspoon has a chance for defensive rookie of the year (which is almost an exclusive linebacker award). However, this is a pick in faith of Matt Ryan. He's not as good as the media trumped him to be as "the next Peyton Manning", but he has the ability to lead the Falcons back to the playoffs. Roddy White and Mike Jenkins are still good players, and Michael Turner should rebound. They are one of the most intriguing teams.

13.) San Diego Chargers (13)

This still puts them at the class of the AFC West, but the Chargers missed on this draft. They could have moved up like five spots and still gotten Ryan Matthews (which was a good pick), and kept that second round pick to shore up the defense. The Chargers have a ton of youth and homegrown talent on that defense, but they are all players who were seen as the next wave of talent that made the Chargers the "most talented, deep team in the NFL" for five straight years. Also, I feel that people will finally learn how to defend Phil Rivers.

12.) Pittsburgh Steelers (10)

They drop because I am not sure that this Ben thing will end as smoothly as I feel. They also have a murderous schedule. If they go 3-3 without Ben, they probably need a 7-3 finish which will be tough, considering the two main competitors in their division got better. Jason Worilds is going to be another stashed linebacker like Timmons and Woodley were in their rookie year. Getting a guard can only do so much. They still have the talent, but they might have to wait until 2011 to put up the 13-3 record that they are capable of.

11.) New York Giants (12)

They are still a major competitor for that division, as their defense cannot possibly be that bad again. Their first three picks are all impact defenders, but they all need a learning curve of a year, so it is time for the 2009 Giants defensive class to start pulling some weight. Rocky Bernard, Chris Canty and Michael Boley need to start impacting games, now, because their offense is good enough to win 10 games by themselves.

10.) Carolina Panthers (11)
I'm guessing Matt Moore lasts the entire season, which sets up an interesting QB competition in the future. More on that later. As for now, the Panthers are primed for a nice year. They are being undervalued, especially considering they finished 2009 on an 8-5 run. They have the league's best running game, and running the ball is going to become baseball's version of defense, as it is so undervalued nationally, that is becomes extremely underrated. Carolina can win that division, you heard it here first.

9.) Minnesota Vikings (9)

Favre will come back. If he doesn't, drop them 10 spots. If he does, I don't think he will have another 33 - 7 td-int year. He will still be good, and with Toby Gerhart acting as the wham to Peterson's bam, and Sidney Rice becoming Favre's favorite target since Antonio Freeman, the Vikings are still very much alive in the playoff picture. Their defense will get a nice boost out of Chris Cook shoring up the secondary and Everson Griffen adding another talent to that d-line.

8.) Dallas Cowboys (6)

I don't know why I dropped them. Truly, they should be higher, but its an AFC World, and teams like Dallas and Minny are just living in it. Bringing along a baggagy receiver hasn't worked in the past, so I don't think the Dez Bryant experience will be smooth. Also, their o-line is in transition. Their defense is still very, very good, but there are ways to beat it. All the pieces add up, but much like San Diego in 2007-2009, the 'Boys are always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

7.) Cincinnati Bengals (8)

They are the sleeping giant of the 2010 season. Everyone has forgotten, what with all the Baltimore hoolpa and the Ben rap-la, that the Bengals won that division in 2009. What have they done in the offseason: pick up low-risk, high-reward Antonio Bryant, get Antwan Odom back (the sack leader before he got hurt), and draft great players. Jermaine Gresham is a much needed tight end. Carlos Dunlap can be great. Geno Atkins, the DT from Georgia, will be. Jordan Shipley is a perfect slot receiver, and Brandon Ghee has the skills to be the best nickel in the league. The Bengals are a team that has a very, very realistic shot at back-to-back playoffs.

6.) Houston Texans (7)

Yeah, let's not underrate them. The Texans were a kicker away from 11-5 last year, and a running back with hands away from 12-4. If they ever learn how to win games, they are threatening the Colts for that division, and that scares the hell out of me. Everything is set up for them to be the league's best offense. Matt Schaub is finally staying healthy. Kevin Walter is healthy, as is Owen Daniels. Ben Tate is the perfect running back to pair with Steve Slaton. Dorin Dickerson is a great pick in round seven. If they get average defense, they are a playoff team.

5.) New York Jets (5)

I wanted to move the Jets up, but teams 5-3 all had great drafts, and offseasons in general. They have seperated themselves from teams 10-6. All the Jets did was get another good cornerback, giving them a scarily good defense. Vladimir Ducasse can be an immediate starter, as the other four studs on their o-line can bring him along. Mark Sanchez should improve, and when you think that they were a playoff team when Sanchez was horrible at times last year, look out.

4.) Baltimore Ravens (3)

They had a good draft, but they drop slightly. Sergio Kindle has injury concerns, and on an otherwise old defensive team, that could pose a problem. I love what they did with that offense, in getting Boldin and TE Ed Dickson, giving Joe Flacco two new toys. Joe Flacco can be a great one, and the Ravens have set him up for that. The Reed-Lewis era really has only three great years left, so the immediate window for winning with those guys is nearing its end, but the Ravens are brilliantly set up with a long-term window built on offense.

3.) Green Bay Packers (4)

The Packers addressed its biggest with a great value pick in Bryan Bulaga, and with that, they jump the Ravens. The Packers are scary good, especially with some of their other picks as possible contributors in 2010. Morgan Burnett is a nice safety to add to their secondary rotation. They drafted two DE/DT guys that can help shore up that defensive front. The steal is James Starks in round 6, who helps take some pressure of Ryan Grant. The Packers are pretty much perfect.

2.) Indianapolis Colts (2)

And so are the Colts. O-line is a weakness, sure, but with Manning, o-line is never truly a weakness. They have enough capability on the line. The key is that defense staying healthy, which it is at this point. Also, the Colts filled their only need: a 3rd DE. Jerry Hughes was born to be a Colts defensive end. He's a Freeney clone, and help bolster a pass rush that can have weak moments. Pat Angerer is Gary Brackett's eventual replacement, and gives good rotational value. Thomas adds to a secondary that has a lot of good bodies in it. The Colts are as good as ever.

1.) New Orleans Saints (1)

They still are the champs. Truthfully, I don't think they are the best team, nor did they have a great draft. But they are the champs, they have the best offense, and Gregg Williams is still there to coax that defense to glory. The Saints are the top team in these rankings until they lose. Period.

Amazingly Early Playoff Predictions
(these are not based entirely on the Power Rankings)


1.) Indianapolis (14-2)
2.) Baltimore (13-3)
3.) New York (12-4)
4.) San Diego (10-6)
5.) Cincinnati (11-5)
6.) Houston (11-5)

Wild Card Round

New York defeats Houston 24-21
Cincinnati defeats San Diego 27-16

Divisional Round

Indianapolis defeats Cincinnati 30-17
Baltimore defeats New York 20-16


Indianapolis defeats Baltimore 24-16


1.) Green Bay (13-3)
2.) New Orleans (12-4)
3.) New York (11-5)
4.) San Francisco (9-7)
5.) Carolina (10-6)
6.) Atlanta (10-6)

Wild Card Round

New York defeats Atlanta 28-20
Carolina defeats San Francisco 24-20

Divisional Round

Green Bay defeats Carolina 31-20
New York defeats New Orleans 31-27


Green Bay defeats New York 27-21

Super Bowl XLV

Indianapolis defeats Green Bay 34-20

NFL Draft: 1st Round Grades

There is no point of giving out grades for an entire draft. So many things can change in a couple of years. In 2004, the Raiders draft was hailed because they passed on the Davis-type pick of Larry Fitzgerald, to pick the once-in-a-decade talent in Robert Gallery at OT. Six years later, although Gallery is now a pro-bowl caliber Left Guard, that looks like a huge mistake. However, first round picks can be judged. These players are picked to contribute right away, to fill holes on good teams, and to lead resurgences on bad ones. So, here are the grades for the first round of the draft:

1.) St. Louis selects Sam Bradford

Grade: A

You can't knock a team for picking the best QB on the board when they need a QB more than anything else. QBs make the world go round, and although Suh and Berry are probably better at their respective divisions, unless the 2002 Bucs defense is walking through that door, the Rams needed a QB to rebuild in earnest. Bradford has a chance to be special.

2.) Detroit selects Ndomakung Suh

Grade: A

Again, how can the Lions get anything else than an 'A' for landing the best player available at number two. Suh is a Haynesworth-caliber player that has the ability and passion to play hard every down. He should help every level of that defense, and Jim Schwartz has the ability to coach him up to super-star level.

3.) Tampa Bay selects Gerald McCoy

Grade: A

This may make me seem as an easy teacher, but really, it is hard to screw up a top-5 pick. The Buccaneers certainly did not do that. McCoy is a rare talent, a Warren Sapp type player, and if he can half the impact Sapp did, this is a great pick.

4.) Washington selects Trent Williams

Grade: B

The 'Skins get docked a letter grade because he is not the best tackle available. In fact, in terms of pro-readiness, there are two better tackles (Okung, Bulaga). He may fit Shanahan's specifications for athletic ability on the o-line, but he was not overwhelmingly good at Oklahoma. Now, he is still a very good player, but Okung would have been a better pick.

5.) Kansas City selects Eric Berry

Grade: A

I thought they had a more pressing need at LB, but he's the best overall player left on the board, and the Chiefs could use a safety as well. Berry is a rare talent, and in what could be another dark year in Arrowhead, Berry will give a glimpse of sunshine.

6.) Seattle selects Russel Okung

Grade: A

Great pick. The Seahawks are anticipating the retirement of first-ballot Hall of Famer Walter Jones soon, and Russel Okung represents the most NFL-ready tackle. He's a mauler, and a Left Tackle who loves to run-block, much like the aforementioned Mr. Jones. Okung will help keep Hasselbeck healthy, which immediately makes the Seahawks better.

7.) Cleveland selects Joe Haden

Grade: B+

Not a terrible pick, since Haden is a good player, but it was a not a position of need, and he is not good enough to be a "best player available" pick. Haden gives the Browns corner depth, but in a ground-and-pound AFC North, a DT or LB would have been more valuable positionally.

8.) Oakland selects Rolando McClain

Grade: B+

Again, this pick and grade is like the Browns above. McClain is a damn good football player, and will bring much needed leadership to the Raiders defense, but it was not a position of need as much as LT was. However, it was a nice marked change from the Raiders' usual draft mantra, which would spearhead a great draft all-around for the Nation.

9.) Buffalo selects C.J. Spiller

Grade: C

Why do the Bills, for taking Spiller, a great player but at a position that is already filled, get a 'C'? Because, running back is fungible anyway. Spiller has a chance to be Chris Johnson, but in all honestly, running back is one of the most useless positions on the team, and means nothing without a running game (just ask Shaun Alexander).

10.) Jacksonville selects Tyson Alualu

Grade: D

What an epic reach. Trade down to 25, gather a first next year or an additional second, and then pick him. At least he's a good player, but he's at a position that the Jaguars don't need. The Jags need pass rushers, not run-stuffers. DTs won't help you compete with Indy and Houston. With a bevy of pass-rushers on the board, this was a bad pick.

11.) San Francisco selects Anthony Davis (from DEN)

Grade: B-

He's a good player, and it is obvious Singletary wants to build an o-line, which he will help in, but why did they randomly trade up two spots? That mystery knocks them a half-letter grade. Also, they have a very good, young LT in Joe Staley so they are essentially drafting a lifetime RT? Just confusing overall.

12.) San Diego selects Ryan Matthews (from MIA)

Grade: B-

I had San Diego picking him in the mock draft. He's a good player and fills a huge need for the Chargers. But I had them picking him 28th? Unless there is veritable evidence that some other team was looking at him this early, giving up the 40th pick in the draft is way too much to move up to pick someone who would've been there later on.

13.) Philadelphia select Brandon Graham (from DEN, from SF)

Grade: A

The Eagles paid a hefty price (two 3rds), but unlike the Chargers, for good reason, as Graham would have been gone shortly. He is a perfect fit for the Eagles, and will greatly help their biggest need of a pass-rusher to put opposite Trent Cole. Nice pick, and nice move up to grab one of the best DEs in the draft.

14.) Seattle selects Earl Thomas

Grade: A

I wish he dropped to Cincinnati to see if the Bengals would've followed my theory, but he's a great fit in Seattle. The Seahawks haven't had a good safety in a long, long time, and he slides in immediately. The Seahawks love nfl-ready players, and Earl Thomas is just that.

15.) New York Giants selects Jason Pierre-Paul

Grade: B

With Derrick Morgan still on the board, and the variety of stat-metrics that project Pierre-Paul to be a bust (the Giants are reknowned as one of the more stat-savvy teams), this is a disappointing pick. Now, the Giants might know more than we all do (likely), but Derrick Morgan would've been the better pick.

16.) Tennessee selects Derrick Morgan

Grade: A

Tennessee needed a pass-rusher, and they get the best one in the draft, and didn't have to trade anything. Great haul for the Titans to kickstart a great draft overall. They should be sending thank you notes down to Jacksonville and up to New York for keeping Morgan available.

17.) San Francisco selects Mike Iupati

Grade: B+

They have holes that they need to fill outside of the o-line. They really could have used Kyle Wilson here. I realize that I mocked Iupati here, and it was and is a good pick considering Iupati is the best guard in the draft, but that was under the assumption they do something to help out their cornerback situation.

18.) Pittsburgh selects Markuice Pouncey

Grade: A-

Again, they had other holes like cornerback (who doesn't have corner needs?) and WR, but the Steelers pick someone to plow-open holes to Rashard Mendenhall in their new commitment to the running game. Good, but not great, pick.

19.) Atlanta selects Sean Witherspoon

Grade: A

Sure, they could have picked a DE, something that was more pressing of a need, but Sean Witherspoon is the ideal Falcon. He's a smart, versatile MLB that Mike Smith will love in that defense. His ability will allow the DEs to worry less about the run and rush better.

20.) Houston selects Kareem McKenzie

Grade: B

With Kyle Wilson on the board, it is an interesting pick. The only explanation is that the Texans liked McKenzie more, and Kareem is a very good corner prospect, but since Wilson was almost unanimously the better prospect rated, and since Houston hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt.

21.) Cincinnati selects Jermaine Gresham

Grade: A

My dream scenario of the Bengals adding Earl Thomas to that secondary never played out, but they get a much-needed weapon for Carson Palmer. The Bengals love their young wideouts like Caldwell, so the TE makes sense, and Gresham is a matchup nightmare. Good pick.

22.) Denver selects Demaryius Thomas (from NE)

Grade: C

He's in a position of need, so that's the only reason this is not an D or lower. From what I know, Denver traded up two spots for a fast receiver with no hands and little route-running ability. He's essentially the 2010 version of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Good thing they at least waited to trade down a couple of times to take him.

23.) Green Bay selects Bryan Bulaga

Grade: A

This was one of the best first-round draft picks. It was just excellent. Bulaga is a quintessential Packer. He should have gone 10-15 picks higher, and fills a huge need as Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are both old and injury prone. Aaron Rodgers can actually get better with better protection and Bulaga should help there.

24.) Dallas selects Dez Bryant (from NE, from DEN and PHI)

Grade: A-

The only reason that it is less than an A is because the Cowboys don't need him, or need another questionable character guy on the team after Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Pac Man Jones and Martellus Bennett. However, they pulled of a gutsy move getting the best WR in the draft at a great value.

25.) Denver selects Tim Tebow (from BAL)

Grade: F

Considering they gave up a 2nd, 3rd and 4th to trade up to get him, this pushes it into 'F' category. First of all, I don't think Tebow can be an NFL QB, but even if he could, this is a stupid pick. McDaniels team has a capable QB in Orton. What they don't have is youth on defense. McDaniels is a drafting joke. He was proactive in trading his good players for picks to rebuild the team in his image, and he has done so. He has no talent, his team has no talent. Well don.

26.) Arizona selects Dan Williams

Grade: A

Another great pick. It's amazing that the Cardinals have probably been one of the five best drafting teams of the last five years. Dan Williams was a consensus top-15 pick who inexplicably slipped down far. This isn't an area of great need, but you cannot pass up that combination of talent and value, and the Cardinals did not.

27.) New England selects Devin McCourty (from DAL)

Grade: B

He's a nice enough player, but doesn't represent an area of need. The Patriots had two glaring areas of need heading into the draft. They addressed the TE one later on, but the other was an edge-rush OLB, which there were available. McCourty enters into a crowded secondary and the Pats pass-rush is still limp.

28.) Miami selects Jared Odrick

Grade: A-

He's a good solid player, but not sure how he fits into Miami's defense. I would have thought they would go after an edge-rusher as well. I guess that is what Kao Misi is for them. I heard a rumor that they are planning to use Odrick as a DE and shift incumbent DE Randy Starks inside, which makes the pick more reasonable.

29.) New York Jets select Kyle Wilson

Grade: A

Arguably the steal of a draft. This is exactly what I wanted to Bengals to do, make a strength even stronger. Kyle Wilson is too good of a player for the Jets to pass up, and now the Jets just made their best pass defense even better. The Jets are now scary good on defense, and look out if Cromartie ever figures it out again.

30.) Detroit Lions select Jahvid Best (from MIN)

Grade: A-

They really need a LT to protect Matt Stafford. Stafford has the chance to be a great one, but he needs the protection that he is just not getting. However, Jahvid Best works well in Detroit. He's good enough to hold the fort as Kevin Smith recovers from ACL surgery, and then he will work as a perfect complement to the bruising Smith. Good pro-active move by the Lions.

31.) Indianapolis select Jerry Hughes

Grade: A

I still can't believe that he fell to this spot. He is the perfect Colts player and addresses a huge need in that of another DE. He is a Freeney/Mathis clone, and what better way to work than under those two. The Colts know what life is when Freeney/Mathis are not at their best, and now that life might not be as scary.

32.) New Orleans select Patrick Robinson

Grade: B

Interesting pick. Kind of going the Jets route, where the fortify a strength even further. The Saints have a very good group of corners, from Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, Malcolm Jenkins and Randall Gay. However, you can never have enough corners and Robinson is an NFL-ready player.

So there you have it. Later today, I will do the post-draft Power Rankings and a really, really early season record predictions.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


So, everyone with any forum any place is doing a mock draft, so why not join this new media craze. Of course, I don't really watch college football too much, and outside of like the projected top-10 and Tim Tebow, I'm not really sure how good anyone is (top-10 = good, Tebow = overrated, but at least is a good citizen while being overrated). So let's go, 32 picks, one round:

1.) The St. Louis Rams select..... Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

They really don't have any choice. St. Louis desperately needs a QB. Sure, Suh is the more talented player at his position, and Spags would love to get his hands on a versatile DT, but QBs are what win in the NFL, and with Bradford's supreme accuracy and capable arm, he is the perfect top guy. He's got the look, the leadership, the arm and the name of a top overall selection. I've heard him being compared to Kurt Warner. Let's calm down. I think Aaron Rodgers is the best comparison. Someone with great accuracy and great moxie.

2.) The Detroit Lions select...... Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

Jim Schwartz knows how great a DT can be, because he coached an exceptional one in Haynesworth for many, many years. Suh is that good, but also gives a damn every single play. He's also obviously a great character guy as seen by his 2.6 million dollar donation to Nebraska. The Lions need a OT more than a DT, but there are good OTs to be found with that first pick in the second round, or even late in round one if the Lions are willing to trade up.

3.) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select.... Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

I believe Tampa Bay still runs a Tampa-2 (that's not a joke. With Monte Kiffin gone and the Raheem Morris era sucking eggs, that might not last as their defense forever), and McCoy is the perfect Tampa-2 DT, Warren Sapp style. He has the speed to collapse the pocket, and the durability to be a three-down tackle. Defensive Tackles are usually risky propositions this early in the draft, but McCoy is better than any other prospect not named Eric Berry, and safety is an even weirder pick this high up.

4.) The Washington Redskins select..... Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St.

Shanahan, and make no mistake, he is the man making this pick, usually picks defenders in the first round (save for Cutler) because he feels his genius can make any offensive player good, but their o-line is just too bad, and McNabb too important, to pass up the most sure thing on the o-line. There are OTs who supposedly have higher upside, but the Redskins need the more pro-ready player to help their pricey investment today.

5.) The Kansas City Chiefs select..... Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

The Chiefs have needed an impact player on that defense for years, and after wiffing on two consecutive top-5 defenders in Dorsey and Jackson, they still need defenders. McClain is the best inside LB in a weak draft class, but he would probably be the best in a strong draft class. My real guess is that the Chiefs trade this, but if I start making up trades, things get complicated. Scott Pioli knows how important defenders are, and he's stupid enough to believe that Matt Cassel can actually be a franchise quarterback.

6.) The Seattle Seahawks select..... Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

Take the sure thing. The Seahawks have done that for years, like their selections of Tatupu, Curry and Jon Carlson. The Hawks take pro-ready players that are capable of making easy transitions to the NFL. Trent Williams is just that, and with hall-of-famer Walter Jones' retirement eminent, getting his replacement is of the upmost importance. If the Hawks did not make that strange Charlie Whitehurst trade, I would have thought that Jimmy Clausen would be a possibility here.

7.) The Cleveland Browns select..... Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Being in the same division as Polamalu and Reed, the Browns know just how much a safety can mean. Berry is the best safety to come out of college since Sean Taylor, and Taylor was on the way to stardom before his tragic death. He's said to be the "next Ed Reed". Again, that is unfair to Eric. If he turns out to be the next Darren Sharper or Brian Dawkins, that would be great value for this pick, for a team that needs a leader of that secondary.

8.) The Oakland Raiders select..... Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Everyone thinks the Raiders will select Bruce Campbell because of his 40 time, but if Al only cared about 40 times, he would have taken Chris Johnson two years ago instead of McFadden, and not taken Robert Gallery back in 2004. Also, people think Clausen is not a possibility here because they still believe in Russell. That's bunk, as evidenced by the fact the Raiders were active in the McNabb sweepstakes. If they don't trade this pick for Roethlisberger (a real possibility), Clausen is a logical choice for a team that with a QB isn't that far off.

9.) The Buffalo Bills select..... Bryan Baluga, OT, Iowa

The Bills would've loved to get Jimmy Clausen, because they need someone flashy. Good chance if he's gone they trade this pick. However, Chan Gailey loves to run the ball and build o-lines, and Baluga is thought of by many as the best run-blocker and the guy with the most reasonable upside. The Bills need an offensive tackle to protect Trent Edwards, or some other QB, and Baluga is a great value for the number nine slot.

10.) The Jacksonville Jaguars select..... Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

They busted mightily on two DEs two years ago in Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey, and there is a chance they bust on Morgan as well, but Jack Del Rio knows that in a division with Matt Schuab and Peyton Manning, he needs someone, anyone who can rush the passer. Morgan is the more ready player, and since Jack Del Rio is on a micro-short leash, he has to pick him over the local boy Jason Pierre-Paul, who has more upside.

11.) The Denver Broncos select..... Markuice Pouncey, G/C, Florida

Yup, the shocker of the draft. I kinda stole the idea from, but it makes complete sense. It has already been proven that Josh McDaniels' doesn't know shit about drafting, as evidenced by the picks of Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith and Darcel McBath, so why not reach for, admittedly, a good player, but at a less-than-premium position. The Broncos need a new center, as they haven't been able to replace Tom Nalen, and Pouncey is the best one in the draft. Dez Bryant would be the best pick, but McDaniels probably doesn't want another bad character guy after shipping Marshall out of town.

12.) The Miami Dolphins select..... Dan Williams, NT, Tennessee

The Dolphins need a NT after Jason Ferguson's departure, and Dan Williams is the best one in the draft. Bill Parcells loves his nose tackles, and his four-year college starters, which Williams is on both counts. Plus, Williams has good durability, and underrated pass rush skills. For a team with few real holes in other areas, this is a perfect match.

13.) The San Francisco 49ers select..... Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise St.

Reportedly, Wilson has passed Joe Haden, the presumed top corner, on many a draft board, and I don't know if the 49ers are one of said draft boards, but I don't want to keep copying Wilson is extremely fast, and agile enough to play lock-down man, which is what the 49ers do. Mike Singletary also loves hard workers, and coming from Boise St. Wilson has a chip on his shoulder.

14.) The Seattle Seahawks select...... C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

The best running back in this years draft gives Seattle the 1-2 punch they were looking for, with a good OT, and a good running back. Spiller has Chris Johnson speed, and even if he is just Frank Gore good, the Seahawks would be super happy with the way their top two picks worked out. Spiller fills an area of need in Seattle, and makes, if healthy, Seattle a frisky offense.

15.) The New York Giants select..... Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan

He's not the greatest of DEs available, but he fits the Giants specifications. He's quick enough to get to the passer, big enough to slide inside on third down, and went to a major school. The Giants seem to get players exclusively from big time programs. Sure, Michigan is embarrasingly bad the past two years, but they still merit the top school title, for now.

16.) The Tennessee Titans select..... Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

Jeff Fisher has no problem taking workout wonders early. He took Chris Johnson two years ago, who was taken primarily for an insane 40 time. Pierre-Paul has the raw athleticism that scouts drool over, and Fisher has the track record of developing raw athleticism on the d-line into great players, as shown by Jevon Kearse and Albert Haynesworth. Pierre-Paul is one of the more polarizing players because he barely played at a division 1 school at all, but he has the upside and the athleticisim that will make it hard for Fisher to pass up, even though he smells like a bust.

17.) The San Francisco 49ers select..... Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

The man with the weird name doesn't have to travel far. The 49ers are primed perfectly to make a run this year. Warner is gone, they are on the rise and they have two top-20 picks. They have to fortify need at all cost, and picking Iupati helps better a dire situation at guard. Singletary and new GM Tony Baalke can check interior o-line and corner back off their list of needs, which is really all the places they really needed someone.

18.) The Pittsburgh Steelers select..... Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St.

Although he will be tough considering the Steelers run-ins with bad judgement recently, the departure of Holmes and the aging of Ward makes WR a huge need. Dez Bryant represents the best WR in the draft, and a guy who has Chad Johnson like ability. Being able to get that for the 18th pick, and suring up the only hole on the team (apart from possibly QB), makes the Steelers instant contenders again.

19.) The Atlanta Falcons select..... Sean Witherspoon, OLB, Missouri

The Falcons need help in their front seven, and with some of the best DEs off the board, they can still get tremendous value by getting the best 4-3 OLB in the draft. Witherspoon has great instincts and run-stop ability. He has the size to stop the run and hold contain and the speed to cover TEs and backs. The Falcons would've needed a corner back but getting Dunta Robinson closes option.

20.) The Houston Texans select..... Joe Haden, CB, Florida

Because they gave up Dunta, they get the chance to draft Joe Haden. He was seen by many as the best corner, and a top-10 talent. He still is, but most of the teams in the top-20 just have other needs. The Texans have very few needs, but corner is one of them. Again, being in the same division as Peyton, you need to have able bodies in the secondary, and Haden gives the Texans one more.

21.) The Cincinnati Bengals select..... Earl Thomas, S, Texas

Sure, the secondary is the Bengals major strength, but as the Colts prove time and time again, making a strength even stronger is as important as making a weakness better. Thomas fits in perfectly as the playmaking safety to help relieve the pressure that Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall face each week. The Bengals have done fine with their great corners and average safeties, but add the second best safety, and their secondary could be arguably the league's best.

22.) The New England Patriots select..... Jared Odrick, DE/DT, Penn St.

The Patriots are really weak up front, as two of their top three are gone in one year, in Seymour and Jarvis Green. Jared Odrick has the size to be an ideal 3-4 DE next to the mammoth Wilfork. They say that Odrick has enough strength and girth to slide inside on passing downs, or play in a two-DT scheme, which Belichick did a lot in 2009. He is in a position of need, and is versatile, but since these are the Patriots, there is a 80% chance they trade this pick in their master plan to own every single pick in Round 2 in 2014.

23.) The Green Bay Packers select..... Charles Brown, OT, USC

Anybody with eyes could see that the Packers fluctuated between horrific and average in pass-blocking last year. Their team is built around Aaron Rodgers, and right now protecting the edges for the Packers are two aging players. Charles Brown is a player that will probably never make the all-pro team, but he will be a solid player that will provide ample protection, never get embarrassed by Jared Allen the way other Packers' LTs did, and give Rodgers time, which is more important than anything.

24.) The Philadelphia Eagles select..... Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas

After pretty much trading every relevant DE that they had for draft picks, the Eagles have a massive need for a pass rusher. Many of them have already been selected, but Kindle is still there on the board, representing an versatile option. Kindle can rush from the set DE position, or even be an edge OLB rusher, or even drop into coverage. A Jim Johnson scheme needs versatility, and Kindle provides just that.

25.) The Baltimore Ravens select..... Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

The Ravens have realized that they might have a special talent at the QB position, and it may be time to finally warm up to the idea of bringing in weapons. Anquan Boldin was a nice start, Gresham can be a great finish. He's the best TE in the draft, and with Heap getting older by the day, he can provide a nice alternative until Heap retires and make the Baltimore offense that much better. Taking a cornerback is another strong possibility, as the Ravens haven't recovered completely from the loss and aging of Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister.

26.) The Arizona Cardinals select..... Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

The Cardinals have few real holes, other than at QB, and there are no answers at QB because McCoy seems to be a slightly more tolerable Leinart. Anthony Davis fills, literally with his obese ponchiness, one of the holes at offensive tackle, either replacing Levi Brown or playing opposite him. He will give Matt Leinart time, and for a scatter-brain QB like Leinart, that is important.

27.) The Dallas Cowboys select..... Taylor Mays, S, USC

The Cowboys lost Ken Hamlin, and still need good safety play after finally cutting the cord of the baby that is Roy Williams (no, not the awful WR they still continue to employ). Taylor Mays is the Roy Williams of Free Safeties. He is an athlete, with incredible speed, but doesn't really have great instincts to play the Ed Reed centerfield position. The Cowboys, however, have good corners so that puts some of the pressure off. Mays is a big name, and Jerry Jones loves those.

28.) The San Diego Chargers select..... Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno St.

The Chargers need a running back, badly. Darren Sproles is many things, including a past Colts killer, but he is not an every down running back. Ryan Matthews is, and in some eyes' he is the best in the draft. The Chargers should do cartwheels if he is still available. I think they have quite a few other holes, particularly the d-line, but their offense was alarmingly one-dimensional last year, and they are an offense-first team. They need Matthews to take some pressure of Rivers and that passing game, and open up more free space downfield.

29.) The New York Jets select..... Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama

The obese one would make a nice fit giving Kris Jenkins some time off and later replacing him as the token obese guy when old man Jenkins finally hangs it up. The Jets are really going for depth, and since pass rushing LB is not exactly a true need anymore with the Jason Taylor signing, they need depth up from. Cody provides great depth, and a solid player for years to come.

30.) The Minnesota Vikings select..... Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

That's right, two Rutgers players in one first round. McCourty can replace Cedric Griffin who tore his ACL in that title game loss, and provide to a be a good nickel corner and eventually replace Antione Winfield. You can never have enough solid corners, especially in a division with Aaron Rodgers and the Cutler/Martz combo, and McCourty is a damn good one.

31.) The Indianapolis Colts select..... Jerry Hughes, DE/LB, TCU

The Colts biggest need is o-line, but really, they didn't lose the Super Bowl because the blocking was bad, they lost the Super Bowl because they could not rush the passer with an injured Freeney. The Colts cut their token third pass-rusher in Raheem Brock, and Hughes is the best pure-pass rusher in the draft. I do not imagine he falls this far, but there is a chance, because I don't think any of the above 30 picks were unreasonable. Polian does the best player available route, so even though he has two star DEs who have at least four good years left, he can take Hughes.

32.) The New Orleans Saints select..... Tyson Alualu, DT, Cal

He might be a bit of a reach, but its the 32nd pick, reach doesn't matter. He fills a spot of need: the second DT spot next to Sedrick Ellis. Ellis is more a pass-rusher, and Alualu is a huge-body Ngata type, so they can work well together. The Saints have a bigger need at linebacker but none of the options provide the value that Alualu, or DE Eversen Griffen, do.

So, there goes the first round. I don't know nearly enough players, let alone how good they are, to do another round, so I'll just do a starting-lineup of the best players available.

QB - Colt McCoy, Texas, great accuracy, not great arm strength.

RB - Jahvid Best, Cal, Very fast, and has alot of size, Durability is a concern.

RB - Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, he has all the measurables, the only concern is that he came from a triple-option offense in college so there are questions of how effective he'll be as a set NFL runner.

WR - Arrellious Benn, Illinois, has great size. A good possession, boldin type.

WR - Damian Williams, USC, a lot like Benn, or past USC player Steve Smith, a jack of all trades who doesn't excel in any one area.

WR - Golden Tate, Notre Dame. Everyone wants the next Wes Welker and in most people's minds, Tate is the closest there is to that in this draft.

TE - Rob Gronkoski, Arizona, there are injury concerns, as he had a back surgery in the offseason, but projects as a Dallas Clark-type player at the next level.

OT - Bruce Campbell, Maryland. Great athlete and has the potential to be great, but has laziness and technique questions.

OT - Roger Saffold, Indiana, the opposite of Campbell, he doesn't have great size but is effective. The only problem is he won't get that much better.

OT - Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts. He is the best Division-II lineman out there and in a top-heavy, but thin class, that sets up well for him. Not a lot truly known about him.

OG - Jon Asamoah, Illinois, does not have very good measurables at all, including very short arms, which seem to be uber-important in the NFL world these days, but was a four year starter.

C - J.D. Walton, Baylor. At times dominant, Walton was a first team All-American, and has long arms (as you can see, I'm stretching here).

DE - Eversen Griffen, USC, this is a very deep DE class so expect Griffen to be taken off early on Day 2 (round 2 now). He has the ability, but seemed a little casual at times last year.

DE - Carlos Dunlap, Florida, an athletic freak, he will have to fight off serious character questions and the simple question of: "Why weren't you better on gameday?"

DT - Brian Price, UCLA, he's a more athletic DT, a Warren Sapp type, perfect for a team like the Colts or Bears who need more pass rush from their DTs. He's young, so he can get a lot better.

DT - Linval Joseph, East Carolina, he's a big, big guy, perfect for a nose tackle for all of those teams that switched to a 3-4 recently without the right personnel (I'm looking at you, Kansas City).

OLB (3-4) - Ricky Sapp, Clemson, he's got extreme speed, but huge size (6-4, 255) that makes him perfect as a versatile edge rusher/drop back cover-guy, that teams love these days. Reminds you of Adalius Thomas, when he was good.

OLB (4-3) - Darryl Washington, TCU, yeah, the 4-3 OLB position is pretty weak these days, as even in college everyone is switching to a 4-3. He's good, but not great. Nice 2-4 round pick.

ILB - Pat Angerer, Iowa, great name, and comes from a great school that has produced such LBs and Chad Greenway and Leroy Hill. He's a prototype cover-2 inside line backer.

ILB - Sean Lee, Penn St, obviously comes from linebackerU, and has had a great career and even translates well, but there are injury concerns because of a torn ACL that might allow him to drop.

CB - Kareem Jackson, Alabama, great man-cover guy, which teams need desperately after finally expunging years of zone. Was the national champs' top corner.

CB - Brandon McGhee, Wake Forest, best thing going for him is his size, at 6-0, which makes him all the more valuable than his more diminuative peers.

S - Nate Allen, South Florida, a do it all safety, he was a monster at the line of scrimmige, and played his zones perfectly in coverage. A bit of a tweener, though, between FS/SS

S - Reshad Jones, Georgia, great size and strength makes him an ideal SS in the NFL. He's a bit undervalued because it is a good safety class, but provides a low-risk option in late round 2.

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.