The Sports Page

Where I will show love for the Steelers, Pirates, Thundering Herd, & Mountaineers and utter contempt for the Cowboys, Yankees, Jeff Gordon, & Notre Dame.

The Prodigal Player Brings His Talents Back to the Mistake By the Lake

The Bible tells a story about The Prodigal Son, a young man who decides to take his inheritance and leave home only to come crawling back when he has blown his fortune. Prodigal is word derived from the Latin term prodigus, meaning “to drive away or squander”. Instead of telling his offspring “I told you so” the boy’s father instead welcomes his child back into the family with open arms. It is a story of forgiveness. It is a story of redemption. It is a story of humility. It is a story of grace.

 

Few people outside of the city of Cleveland, OH have been as hard on NBA superstar LeBron James as myself. I am not nearly as passionate in my lb1fandom of professional basketball as I am when it comes to other sports and have never really had a favorite team. I preferred the Lakers over the Celtics in the 80’s (more about that some other time), loved Dr. J., and like most young men of my generation thought Michael Jordan was the greatest player to ever dribble & dunk (I still do). I am a sucker for the underdog, so when James was drafted #1 overall straight out of high school by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 I thought it was a nice story. It helped that the hapless Cavs hadn’t been much more than mediocre for most of their three decades of existence before James’ arrival. Unlike so many “franchise saviors” whose hype far exceeds tangible results LeBron James was everything he was said to be and more, carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers almost singlehandedly on his back to 5 playoff runs in 7 years, including a trip to the Finals in 2007.

 

But then he tossed it all away in 2010. He “took his talents to South Beach”, forming a “Big Three” alongside Dwayne Wade & Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat. And I hated it. I hated the way players were now conspiring to form super teams instead of allowing coaches & general managers to build teams organically the old fashioned way. I hated the TV spectacle that was The Decision. I hated the pep rally in Miami where this new Big Three promised “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five…” NBA titles. I hated seeing a guy spit in the face of his home town in just about the most obnoxious way possible. I hated the fact that Cleveland was pretty much screwed because let’s face it…big time free agents, no matter what sport is involved, are almost always going to choose sexier destinations like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, & Dallas.

 

lb2Over the next four seasons I delighted not in cheering for any particular NBA team but in rooting against the evil Miami Heat. I was ecstatic in 2011 & 2014 when they lost the championship series (to the Dallas Mavericks & San Antonio Spurs respectively), and was bitterly disappointed in 2012 & 2013 when the Heat won back-to-back titles. Most people would probably be kind and say that The Big Three fulfilled their mission, but I gleefully opine that they missed the mark and severely underachieved. Yes four NBA Finals in four years and two championships in that time is impressive, but I would submit to you that it is the bare minimum of what was expected, potential that was elevated to a virtual fever pitch of entitled assumption by the PR machine and the powers-that-be in Miami.

 

In the course of those four years a few things have occurred. First, after nearly four decades of the NBA focusing its marketing on individual stars…Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, ‘Melo…there seems to have been an awakening that basketball is a team game and none of those players achieved success on an island. The San Antonio Spurs certainly have their stars, but they were able to win the title this year and damn near won it in 2013 because they had an overall better, deeper team than the Heat. An NBA roster has 13 players. Your top 2 or 3 guys might be better than mine, but if my bench is far superior than I’ve got a fighting chance. Secondly, there are some factors that cannot be defeated by any team no matter how talented they may be. No one has ever beaten Father Time (except maybe Tim Duncan). In sports players & teams can decline quickly…almost overnight…due to injury & age. Miami’s Big Three didn’t seem nearly as intimidating in 2014 as they did four years earlier. And LeBron James himself seems to have changed, which is really the crux of my whole point here today.

 

We see celebrities every day. We see them on TV & in movies, download their music, read about them on The Internet, and watch their games in the case of professional athletes. We like to think that we know them. We form opinions about whether someone is a nice guy, a vapid airhead, or a total jerk. In many cases we are likely on the right track, but sometimes we may misjudge.

 

I, along with many people, was disgusted with the way LeBron James handled his departure from Cleveland four years ago. What we didn’t realize lb3until now was that James himself at some point looked back in disgust as well. Like The Prodigal Son he has been humbled. No he isn’t crawling back to Cleveland broken & destitute. Far from it. But he seems to have realized that in the long run winning championships in Miami wasn’t all that much easier than attempting to do so in Cleveland. He seemingly understands that following the money to New York or Los Angeles or even adding another couple of rings in Miami wasn’t going to be nearly as satisfying as being able to put together a championship team in his home town. LeBron James has matured. He has gained perspective. He has grown in wisdom. Do I sound surprised?? Yes I suppose I do.

 

Rather than repeat The Decision James instead opted to announce his return to Cleveland via a rather classy & well-written essay on the Sports Illustrated website. He speaks wistfully about his childhood in Akron, OH, but what really caught my attention was what he says about Miami, and I feel stupid for never having considered the point before. You see, LeBron James was drafted into the NBA from high school, a practice that is now forbidden by league rules. LeBron went from high school in Akron to pro basketball in Cleveland…less than an hour away. He never went to college. Sure that was his choice and a smart move financially. However, for me college was the best four years of my life. I didn’t venture too far away from home (about 3 hours), but I got far enough away that I was able to do some stupid things, meet some awesome people, learn how to be independent, and figure out life from a slightly different angle. The four years LeBron James spent in Miami were his college years, the difference being that he didn’t have to take math classes he’ll never use, he probably never had to stand outside at 3am on a cold January night after some drunken jackass thought it’d be funny to pull the fire alarm in the dorm, and I am quite sure he has no student loan debt. He had his fun. He has two championship rings and probably had his share of good times in South Florida. But now he has graduated to the next phase just like the rest of us. For me that means drinking skim milk instead of Jagermeister and it means that if I am up past midnight I’m either reading a book or writing a piece for The Manofesto rather than hanging out at a bar playing darts and listening to Brown-Eyed Girl. For LeBron James it means that winning another ring for himself isn’t as meaningful as winning for his family, friends, and the place where he “walked, ran, cried, & bled” throughout his life.

 

lb4The story of The Prodigal Son has a few layers. There is the son who discovers that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and humbly comes home. There is the father who not only welcomes the son back but celebrates his return. And there is the older brother, a killjoy who is understandably a bit resentful. There will be those who will transfer their hatred of the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers simply because they decided 4 years ago that LeBron James is a prick and they aren’t changing their mind. So be it. I can appreciate the sentiment. But I choose…for whatever little it is worth in the grand scheme of life…to be merciful & gracious. Plus I am just glad that imbecile Johnny Manziel has been knocked off the sports page headlines for atleast a few days.

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Winning & Musing…..Volume 1.14

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, & lawns are being mowed throughout the land. It is springtime in America!! And one thing that means is a variety of sports stories about which I…as usual…have some thoughts. Sit a spell and join me…you know you want to.

 

 

 

 

A few post-NFL Draft contemplations:
• The NFL Network provides much better coverage than ESPN. I watched ESPN’s coverage of the first round because…well…it’s just been such a tradition for so long. Chris Berman & Mel Kiper Jr. are like the Jerry Lewis of football…you only see them once a year so you sure do look forward to that occasion (sadly of course Lewis’ MDA Telethon…once a Labor Day Weekend staple of Americana…has now quietly faded away). However, they have now introduced Jon Gruden, Todd McShay, & Ray Lewis into the mix (and apparently eased out Tom Jackson), and I found Gruden & “Shooter” Lewis to be rather grating. They love the sound of their own voices and seem far too pleased with their alleged expertise. By the 3rd round the guys on ESPN weren’t even paying attention to the announcement of the draft choices anymore, so I flipped over to NFL Network and found their coverage to be much more focused, cerebral, & low-key. Maybe next year I’ll cut the ESPN cord completely on draft weekend.
• The Cleveland Browns did the right thing by not taking QB Johnny Manziel at the #4 spot and instead grabbing him with the 22nd choice in the first round. I still think manzielit’s 50/50 as to whether he’ll be a superstar or a complete bust. He’s too small and I’m not a fan of his selfish & arrogant demeanor. I am not at all sure that he can withstand the pounding of NFL defenses. But if he does fail miserably atleast it’ll be in Cleveland, and I will laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh…lol.
• During the 2nd round of the draft Commissioner Fidel Goodell introduces legends/Hall-of-Famers from each franchise to announce their team’s draft pick: Marvin Harrison for the Colts, Chad Pennington for the Jets, Aeneas Williams for the Cardinals, Mike Singletary for the Bears, Herman Moore for the Lions, etc. were some of this year’s guests. Anyway, I have an idea. Next year they should let the biggest disappointment/embarrassment for each team make the pick: Jamarcus Russell for the Raiders, Rae Carruth (live from prison) for the Carolina Panthers, Ryan Leaf for the Chargers, Tony Mandarich for the Packers, former coach Bobby Petrino for the Falcons, Akili Smith & KiJana Carter together for the Bengals, Art Schlichter for the Colts (also from prison), Lawrence Phillips for the Rams (he’s in prison too!!). OJ Simpson (from prison…of course) could announce picks for both the Buffalo Bills & San Francisco 49ers. This would be a ratings bonanza. Make it happen NFL.
• After 41 years on this planet and nearly as long as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan I finally had an epiphany about The Steeler Way during the draft. Whereas most teams Steelers-Logoassign a particular value to individual players the Steelers focus on the value of each position, and obviously they believe that the most valuable position is linebacker. For the second year in a row the Steelers spent their 1st round draft pick on a linebacker. In 2013 it was Jarvis Jones from Georgia and this year it was Ryan Shazier from Ohio St. I don’t have a huge problem with the Shazier pick…I just didn’t think it was necessary with Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, & a few other young guys in the mix already. The vast majority of Steeler fans were expecting them to choose a much needed cornerback in one of the first couple of rounds, but instead they waited until the 5th round to pick CB Shaquille Richardson from Arizona. What that tells me is that the suits in The ‘Burgh don’t think there is that big of a difference between a 1st round corner and a 5th round corner. A few years ago I would have just went along with that logic and assumed the powers-that-be knew what they were doing…but these days I’m not so sure.
• Some possible steals: QB Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech to the Arizona Cardinals in the 4th round, RB Lache Seastrunk from Baylor to the Washington Redskins in the 6th round, RB Ka’Deem Carey from Arizona to the Chicago Bears in the 4th round, QB AJ McCarron from Alabama to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 5th round, QB Zach Mettenberger from LSU to the Tennessee Titans in the 6th round, CB Keith McGill from Utah to the Oakland Raiders in the 4th round, & G David Yankey from Stanford to the Minnesota Vikings in the 5th round.

 

 
If there is one thing that we have learned from the Donald Sterling scandal it is that NBA owners do not really own their team. They are actually owners of 3.33% of the league, and if the other 96.67% of ownership decides to turn on a fellow owner it’s all over. I don’t necessarily have an issue with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banning Donald Sterling for life, and I won’t disagree when the rest of the owners vote to make him sell the team. It is what is best for business. In reality the man is 82 years old & obviously not well, so it was probably a matter of time before the Los Angeles Clippers ended up with new ownership anyway. And let us not shed a tear for Sterling or his family, all of whom will become even wealthier when the team purchased for $12 million sterlingin 1981 is sold for a half billion. Having said that, recent events do concern me just a little. Look…very few people would even try to defend the inane racist ramblings of a guy like Sterling. He’s an old kook who seems to have lost a few too many of his marbles. But imagine if the bank could come and repo your car or evict you from your house…not for being delinquent in your payments but because they disagree with your sociopolitical opinions. That’s not the America that I know & love…it’s fascism. I understand that a professional sports league is a unique entity. As an owner Donald Sterling, to a degree, represents the team, the league, & the city of Los Angeles. I understand that his belief system is not deemed appropriate by most anyone with a lick of sense. However it is also my understanding that Donald Sterling did not commit a crime. Actually the fact is that Sterling’s racist tendencies have been well known for many years and there have been instances in the past where he probably did commit crimes by way of housing discrimination and the NBA turned a blind eye. But now, when the actual crime committed was by the “girlfriend” who secretly taped Sterling’s conversations, the NBA decides to take drastic action to cover their rear ends in the midst of a public relations nightmare. As I said, hardly anyone would even attempt to support Donald Sterling’s idiocy, but what if losing everything you own because a person you trusted clandestinely recorded your deepest personal thoughts becomes commonplace?? What if just about everybody in the country was cheering your demise?? It is easy to revel in Donald Sterling’s implosion because he is just about the least sympathetic character imaginable…but what if it happened to you?? It’s a slippery slope…one that we must be aware of and concerned about in 21st century America.

 

 
I have watched only a couple Pittsburgh Pirates games in the past month. As I feared last season’s “breakthrough” and the end of two decades of losing pittsburghpirateswas just a mirage. This team isn’t there yet and I’m beginning to doubt whether they ever will be. They lack a killer instinct. They lack the will to win. The pitching isn’t nearly as dominant as it should be after concentrating on that aspect of the game with the draft & the farm system over the past several years. And there is very little offense. They are averaging 3.91 runs/game. The division leading Milwaukee Brewers are averaging 4.02 runs/game. The Detroit Tigers & San Francisco Giants…currently the two best teams in baseball…are scoring 4.85 and 4.18 runs/game respectively. These may seem like miniscule statistical differences, but baseball is a game of statistics. If Player A gets 150 hits in 500 at bats during a season that’s .93 hits/game and a .300 batting average, which probably means he’s an All-Star and over the course of an entire career possibly a Hall-of-Famer. Meanwhile, if Player B gets just 130 hits in 500 at bats it is .80 hits/game, a .260 batting average, and over the course of a career would be looked at as quite prosaic. Twenty hits less in the span of 162 games and look at the difference in perception. It’s the difference between winning two World Series in the past decade…like the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, & St. Louis Cardinals have all done…and the Pirates.

 

 
I suppose I need to comment on this whole Michael Sam thing…..
Essentially what everything boils down to is that ESPN and others in the media deserve nearly all of the blame for any negativity that has landed at the feet sam1of Michael Sam. For those who may have been off the grid in the past week Sam was a defensive end for the Missouri Tigers. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for 2013, but due to his small stature and other pedestrian measurables was deemed a fringe NFL prospect. In February he “came out” publically in an interview (not surprisingly on ESPN) because announcing to the whole world that you are gay has become a rite of passage for all level of celebrities in 21st century America, which is my main problem with the whole thing. I am physically disabled and have spent my entire life trying to just fit in. I don’t like calling attention to myself. I just want to be treated normally…like everyone else. That quest has been a defining aspect of everything I have ever done. The “LBGT community” will say that what they want is equality & fairness, but it seems like what they truly desire is to be celebrated and treated like trailblazing heroes. ESPN’s coverage of Michael Sam has been somewhat disconcerting. A lot of folks were kvetching about Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was drafted, but my question is why were there cameras there in the first place?? I watch the NFL Draft every year. By the 4th round talking heads like Mel Kiper Jr. & Todd McShay have completely lost interest in keeping up with sam2the picks as they are announced and are still yapping on & on about top guys like Johnny Manziel & Jadeveon Clowney. I can’t ever remember them having cameras on a 7th round draft choice as he receives the phone call from the team selecting him. So why does Michael Sam get that kind of coverage?? Because he is gay?? That’s not equality…that’s putting someone up on a pedestal they haven’t earned. And then people wonder why there is anger & frustration. It must be nice for Michael Sam to know that he is a virtual lock to make the St. Louis Rams, and make no mistake…he will be on the team when the season starts. The NFL, ESPN, and the entire leftist media have too much invested at this point for Sam to fail. Good for him. I wish him well. He is a good football player. Most of them are at that level. I just hope for his sake that someday his playing skills will be the center of attention and not his sexual preference…something that should have never become an issue in the first place.

2014 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

We are now only a few days away from the real deal…the 2014 NFL Annual Selection Meeting, aka The Draft. I knew when I did my initial mock draft back in February that a lot of things would change over the course of time. Free agency has significantly altered the landscape, as it tends to do each year. Several teams filled some holes, while others have new needs that we weren’t sure they’d have a couple of months ago. The Combine and various pro days have raised the profile of some players, while cooling the enthusiasm for others. We now have a much clearer picture of the direction many teams may or atleast should go. Once again let me remind you that this is a three round mock, and I do throw in a few trades. Real trades that are already in place will say “via/X Team” in parentheses, while trades that are purely my own creation will say “trade w/X Team”. So without any further ado let’s look into the ol’ crystal ball and see what we might expect from this year’s draft.

 

 

 

Round 1

1 Houston Texans
DE Jadeveon Clowney (Clemson)
At one point I was firmly convinced that the Texans would be able to trade out of this spot and amass a boatload of picks. However, as things have progressed that has houston-texans-mobile-wallpaperbecome a far less likely scenario. No one seems completely sold on this year’s crop of quarterbacks, so teams will be mostly content to stay where they are and let a signal caller fall to them. Clowney is a rare prospect who I believe will put the pedal to the medal when it counts. The combination of Clowney & JJ Watt instantly makes Houston’s defense one of the most feared in the NFL. They can snag a quarterback later.

 

2 St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)
LB Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
The Rams are in a tough position. They’d probably jump at the opportunity to trade down, but the lukewarm affection for the quarterbacks makes it St_Louis_Ramsdoubtful that anyone will offer much to move up to this spot. Mack has been getting a lot of love and has drawn comparisons to Denver Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller.

 

3 Jacksonville Jaguars
WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
Watkins is far & away the best skill player in this year’s draft. The Jags are losing receiver Justin Blackmon due to an indefinite suspension for substance abuse, and to Jacksonville_Jaguarsbe honest Blackmon had been a bit of a disappointment anyway. If he comes back and pans out…great. But if not Watkins is a fantastic replacement. Jacksonville too can get their quarterback later.

 

4 Baltimore Ravens (trade w/Cleveland Browns)
T Greg Robinson (Auburn)
What to do?? The Browns had their eye on Watkins but he is off the board. It is probably too early to pull the trigger on one of the quarterbacks in this spot. With MitchellBaltimore_Ravens2 Schwartz and All-Pro Joe Thomas manning the tackle spots there is no need for the Browns to spend this pick on that position. However, though no one is likely to trade up for a QB there may be a few suitors looking for a franchise tackle. The Ravens lost Michael Oher (you remember The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock, right??) in free agency but did re-sign Eugene Monroe. I don’t think it really matters who plays left and who plays right. With guys like Robinson & Monroe Baltimore’s offensive line once again looks formidable.

 

5 Oakland Raiders
T Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
With Robinson off the board the Raiders are forced to go with option B. They don’t need a quarterback after signing Matt Schaub this offseason, and Matthews should raidersbe a solid franchise tackle for the next decade.

 

6 Atlanta Falcons
LB Anthony Barr (UCLA)
Barr is the best pass rusher available and might be a steal even at this spot. There could be some buzz about the Vikings & Bucs looking to movefalcons up to get the quarterback they want, but at the end of the day I think both will stand pat.

 

7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)
There’s a new regime in Tampa. There will be a new quarterback because not even the old regime was completely sold on Mike Glennon. BortlesTampa_Bay_Buccaneers_Helmet has prototype size & measurables. The only knock against him is the fact that he played at a C-USA school instead of an SEC, Big 10, or Pac 12 school. It should also help that Bortles will be well known to the Tampa crowd since Central Florida is just down the road.
8 New York Giants (trade w/Minnesota Vikings)
WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
The Vikings need a quarterback as well, but it’s still too early. The Giants need a receiver to replace the departed Hakeem Nicks. It’s a win/win for both teams.Giants Logo

 

9 Buffalo Bills
T Taylor Lewan (Michigan)
The Bills won’t waste any time turning in their draft card when they see the only remaining tackle worthy of a Top 10 pick still on the board.Buffalo_Bills_Helmet

 

10 Detroit Lions
CB Darquez Dennard (Michigan St.)
The Lions defensive backfield was atrocious last season, and the Seattle Seahawks have proven how important a great Detroit_Lions_Helmetsecondary can be.

 

11 Tennessee Titans
DT Aaron Donald
Do the Titans need a quarterback?? Or will the Jake Locker era be given a one year reprieve?? EitherTennessee_Titans_Helmet way Tennessee passes on a signal caller here and goes for the highest rated defensive lineman on the board.

 

12 Minnesota Vikings (trade w/New York Giants)
QB Derek Carr (Fresno St.)
The Vikings get the quarterback of the future. Atleast until next year. Two strikes against Carr: small school, and the fact that his older brothervikingshelmet1 David is one of the more notable busts in recent memory. Fair?? Probably not. Only time will tell.

 

13 St. Louis Rams
S Hasean Clinton-Dix
With their second 1st round pick the Rams continue to upgrade a defense that ranked 15th in the league in 2013. Not bad…but not great either.St_Louis_Rams

 

14 Chicago Bears
CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma St.)
The Bears had their eye on Clinton-Dix, but have other needs as well. Gilbert is a significant upgrade for a defense that ranked 30th out of 32 chicago-bears-logo13teams last season.

 

15 Cleveland Browns (trade w/Pittsburgh Steelers)
QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
The Browns are spooked by rumors that the Cowboys may be interested in Manziel. The rumors are probably poppycock, Cleveland_Browns_Helmetbut then again Jerry Jones is nuttier than a damn fruitcake so who knows?? At any rate, Johnny Football is one of the most polarizing prospects I’ve ever seen. Is he more like Fran Tarkenton or Fran Drescher?? Is he Drew Brees or Drew Stanton?? Can he be tamed just enough to become a good NFL quarterback without losing the improv skills that make him special?? Is he sturdy enough to make it thru an NFL season?? Getting two people to agree on Manziel is like trying to find a bipartisan political candidate that everyone likes. Only time will tell, but in the meantime the Browns pretty much have to pull the trigger here.

 

16 Dallas Cowboys
LB Ryan Shazier (Ohio St.)
DeMarcus Ware signed with the Denver Broncos in the offseason so the Cowboys have to rebuild the defense. Shazier is smaller than Ware and is much more dallas-cowboys-dallas-cowboys-15496395-1280-1024comparable to guys like former NFL stars Sam Mills or Zach Thomas. He’s fast & can get to the quarterback, or he can drop back in coverage.

 

17 Pittsburgh Steelers (trade w/Baltimore Ravens & Cleveland Browns)
CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
The Steelers are disappointed that both Dennard & Gilbert are off the board, along with the top tackles. They could use a receiver to replace thediamond-steelers departed Emanuel Sanders & Jerricho Cotchery, but after signing Lance Moore & Darrius Heyward-Bey it’s not as big of an issue, especially with the top two wideouts off the board. The best player available that fits a need is Fuller, who can get his feet wet this season and then take over for Ike Taylor in 2015.

 

18 New York Jets
TE Eric Ebron (North Carolina)
The signing of free agent receiver Eric Decker doesn’t completely eliminate the need to draft a wideout, but it makes it less of a priority. The valueJets-Pin-Pro at this spot is tight end. In the past few years a big athletic tight end has become a huge weapon in the NFL…almost a necessity. And right now the Jets tight ends are Jeff Cumberand, Zach Sudfeld, & Chris Pantale, which sounds more like the accounting faculty at a junior college.

 

19 Miami Dolphins
G Zack Martin (Notre Dame)
The Dolphins solidify their offensive line with someone who hopefully won’t find themselves in the midst of an idiotic bullying scandal. Nearly everyMiami_Dolphins_Helmet mock draft I have seen has Martin going to the Dolphins, so who am I to rock the boat??

 

 

20 Carolina Panthers (trade w/Arizona Cardinals)
T Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama)
The Panthers need to replace the retired Jordan Gross on the offensive line. Yes wide receiver is also a priority, but they can carolina_panthers_logo-14336address that need in later rounds. A franchise left tackle is more important. It’s worth the price to move up.

 

 

21 Green Bay Packers
S Calvin Pryor (Louisville)
The Packers have long been considered one of the NFL’s best teams but the truth is that the offense…lead by QB Aaron Rogers and a plethora ofGreen_Bay_Packers_Helmet good receivers…has covered for some weaknesses on the defense. They can’t pass on a hard-nosed athletic safety that can play centerfield for the next decade.

 

22 Philadelphia Eagles
LB CJ Moseley (Alabama)
Head coach Chip Kelly is an offensive guru, but if he really wants to take his team to the top he needs to pay attention to the defense. Moseley is a well-rounded player philadelphia_eagles-3715with tremendous leadership skills.

 

23 Kansas City Chiefs
WR Marqise Lee (USC)
The Chiefs need another weapon for quarterback Alex Smith. With this move WR Dwayne Bowe will see less double teams and the Chiefs might not implode late in the kc-chiefs-logoseason like they did last year.

 

24 Cincinnati Bengals
DE Dee Ford (Auburn)
The Bengals are a solid playoff team so they can afford to reach just a bit for a pass rusher with a big upside. This pick might look like pure genius Cincinnati_Bengals_Helmetin 3 or 4 years.

 

25 San Diego Chargers
G Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA)
The Chargers flew under the radar in 2013 and right into the playoffs. Time may be running out for quarterback Philip Rivers to fulfill the potentialSan_Diego_Chargers_Helmet3 so many thought he had when drafted a decade ago. The best way to maximize his abilities is to keep him upright and give him time to find a receiver downfield.

 

26 Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts)
WR Brandin Cooks (Oregon St.)
The Browns have addressed the quarterback issue by drafting Johnny Football and also signing free agents Vince Young & Tyler Thigpen (and don’t forget Brian Hoyer Cleveland_Browns_Helmetis still around recovering from a torn ACL). They also signed free agent RB Ben Tate who is ready to be a feature back after backing up Arian Foster in Houston for the past few years. There are certainly opportunities to trade out of this spot, but instead the Browns get Manziel a speedy slot receiver.

 

27 Houston Texans (trade w/New Orleans Saints)
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
The Texans trade back into the first round due to concern that the Arizona Cardinals may be looking for a quarterback as well. Bridgewater was once considered a houston texans logo2potential #1 overall pick but questions have arisen…as they always do. Much like Manziel it is a 50/50 proposition as to whether Bridgewater will be a competent NFL quarterback or a complete bust, but with a QB depth chart that includes Case Keenum, TJ Yates, & Ryan Fitzpatrick Houston has to make this move.

 

28 Arizona Cardinals (trade w/Carolina Panthers)
S Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)
The Cards will be mildly disappointed that the top tier quarterbacks are all gone, but not terribly so. They can get another year or two out of 34 year old Carson Palmer nflarizonacardinalsand still may be able to snag a pretty good signal caller in a later round that they can develop slowly. Ward joins a stellar defensive backfield that includes Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Petersen, & Antonio Cromartie.

 

29 New England Patriots
TE Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
The Patriots need to move on from the Aaron Hernandez mess and of course we all know that Rob Gronkowski has become unreliable on a variety of levels. Tom BradyNew_England_Patriots_Helmet is just plain better when he has a big dependable target that can go up and get the ball.

 

30 San Francisco 49ers
CB Bradley Roby (Ohio St.)
The 49ers are still amongst the top teams in the NFL, but they must be vigilant in not letting the team get old. Roby should improve the secondary,San-Francisco-49ers and if the Seattle Seahawks proved anything it’s that an awesome secondary can be a key to a championship.

 

31 Denver Broncos
G Joel Bitonio (Nevada)
I have really been impressed with what the Broncos have done in the offseason. They let the ancient Champ Bailey move on to New Orleans and broncos-4759replaced him with Aqib Talib. They further upgraded the secondary with safety TJ Ward, who fled Cleveland like a Ukrainian refugee. They signed receiver Emmanuel Sanders away from the Steelers. Sanders isn’t a top flight wideout but he’s a reliable third or fourth option which is all Peyton Manning really needs and I think he can be every bit as productive as the departed Eric Decker. And DeMarcus Ware left the dysfunctional Cowboys and will now be sacking opposing quarterbacks for Denver. I think the focus now becomes protecting Manning. A team can never have enough solid offensive linemen.

 

32 Seattle Seahawks
T Morgan Moses (Virginia)
The defending Super Bowl Champions would be the odds on favorite to repeat without adding a single player to their roster. However, they did suffer some losses this seattle-seahawks1offseason. Offensive tackle Breno Giacomini is now with the NY Jets. Defensive end Red Bryant signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also signed another Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons. Receiver Golden Tate departed to the Detroit Lions. Percy Harvin & Sidney Rice are both back and reportedly healthy, so I don’t think receiver is a top priority. The signing of Michael Bennett eases the pain of the loss of Clemons & Bryant. Moses solidifies an offensive line that absolutely must protect QB Russell Wilson and create holes for RB Marshawn Lynch for Seattle to have the same level of success in 2014 as they had last year.

 

 

Round 2

33 New Orleans Saints (trade w/Houston Texans)
CB Jason Verrett (TCU)
There are a few intriguing receivers on the board, but the secondary is a bigger need. Verrett can spend a year learning from 112 year old Champ Bailey and then take his starting spot next season when Bailey is at home yelling at kids to get off his damn lawn.

 

34 Washington Redskins
DT Rashede Hageman (Minnesota)
The Redskins didn’t have a first round choice after trading it away a couple years ago in the draft day deal that brought them quarterback RGIII. They still end up getting first round talent though, and improve their defense in the process.

 

35 Pittsburgh Steelers (trade w/Cleveland Browns)
DE Kony Ealy (Missouri)
The Steelers were a lot more active in free agency than usual, plugging holes at nose tackle (Cam Thomas, formerly of the Chargers), safety (Mike Mitchell, formerly of the Panthers), and wide receiver (Lance Moore, formerly of the Saints, and Darrius Heyward-Bey, formerly of the Colts). I think that’s more offseason additions than Pittsburgh has made in the previous 5 seasons combined. However, they are still a bit thin at defensive end even if former first round pick Cameron Heyward develops into what he needs to become.

 

36 Oakland Raiders
WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU)
After missing out on Sammy Watkins in Round 1 the Raiders will be pleased to see Beckham still on the board. He should immediately challenge Rod Streeter & Denarius Moore for a starting spot.

 

37 Atlanta Falcons
DE Demarcus Lawrence (Boise St.)
The Falcons continue to upgrade their pass rush. Tyson Jackson came over from the Kansas City Chiefs in the offseason but Jonathan Babineux is 32 years old. Lawrence can be added into the rotation gradually.

 

38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
T JaWuan James (Tennessee)
Whether Bortles seizes the starting QB job immediately or Josh McCown mans the position for awhile it is vitally important to provide either guy with as much protection as possible. James would have an opportunity to compete for a starting job.

 

39 Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Tom Savage (Pitt)
Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater, & Carr are all off the board, but the Jags have their pick of the second tier QBs, some of whom have been rising up draft boards and may end up being just as good or better as the first wave. Savage has been getting a lot of love in the past few weeks and has drawn comparisons to Drew Bledsoe. If absolutely necessary Jacksonville can start Chad Henne this season and let Savage develop.

 

40 Minnesota Vikings
LB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
With Derek Carr in the fold the Vikings can now concentrate on other needs. Attaochu would likely become an immediate starter in Minnesota’s 3-4 scheme alongside veteran Chad Greenway.

 

41 Buffalo Bills
WR Kelvin Benjamin (Florida St.)
Buffalo’s receiving corps is solid but uninspiring. Reuniting quarterback EJ Manuel with former college teammate Benjamin would be a stroke of genius on the part of the Bills.
42 Tennessee Titans
CB Keith McGill (Utah)
The Titans once again pass on a quarterback (Jake Locker lives to see another day!!), not to mention a franchise running back to replace the departed Chris Johnson. Instead they choose to replace All-Pro corner Alterraun Verner, who is now plying his trade for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

43 Minnesota Vikings (trade w/New York Giants)
G Gabe Jackson (Mississippi St.)
The Vikings get an extra pick after moving down in the first round. They take the opportunity to address the offensive line and get a much needed upgrade on the inside.

 

44 St. Louis Rams
T Antonio Richardson (Tennessee)
Richardson is a massive tackle that should provide plenty of protection for QB Sam Bradford as well as open up holes for whoever totes the rock for St. Louis. Richardson, Jake Long, & Rodger Saffold would comprise a rather impressive line.

 

45 Detroit Lions
S Deone Bucannon (Washington St.)
The Lions continue to upgrade their secondary. Bucannon should step right into the starting lineup.

 

46 Pittsburgh Steelers
T Billy Turner (North Dakota St.)
There’s a lot of value left on the board at this spot. After addressing some key needs in free agency the Steelers decide to use this pick to add depth to the offensive line, where injuries have been an issue the past couple of seasons.

 

47 Cleveland Browns (trade w/Baltimore Ravens)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (Florida St.)
The Browns have their quarterback and also added an outstanding receiver that should be comfortable in the slot. Now they add a cornerback that will be a nice bookend with All-Pro Joe Haden.

 

48 Dallas Cowboys
S Terrence Brooks (Florida St.)
The secondary has been a significant issue for Dallas for awhile. Brooks should immediately crack the starting lineup.

 

49 New York Jets
NT Louis Nix III
Jets head coach Rex Ryan just might wet himself when he sees Nix available in this spot. Nix plugging the middle with Sheldon Richardson & Muhammed Wilkerson on either side would certainly make a formidable defensive line.

 

50 Miami Dolphins
G Dakota Dozier (Furman)
First round selection Zack Martin can actually slide over to the tackle position opposite free agent signee Branden Albert and Dozier can step into a starting guard slot. Add in starting center Mike Pouncey and all the sudden the Dolphins’ offensive line woes begin to look a bit smaller in the rear view mirror.

 

51 Chicago Bears
DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida St.)
The Bears added free agents Lamarr Houston & Jared Allen on the defensive line, which certainly helps make up for the loss of Julius Peppers & Henry Melton. But adding another piece…especially since Allen is 32 years old…isn’t the worst idea in the world. Jernigan is a first round talent that falls simply because a lot of teams had more pressing needs. He is a steal here.

 

52 Arizona Cardinals
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
Garoppolo got peoples’ attention in post-season collegiate all-star games. He has the least amount of pressure of any of the quarterbacks chosen thus far because there is no chance he’ll be the starter in Arizona in 2014 or maybe even the following season. He can spend his first couple of seasons learning from Carson Palmer before taking command when Palmer decides to hang ‘em up.

 

53 Green Bay Packers
TE Austin Jenkins (Washington)
The Packers need to replace Jermichael Finley. Jenkins isn’t quite the freakish athlete that other tight ends like New Orleans’ Jimmie Graham or San Diego’s Antonio Gates are, but at 6ft.6 and 252 lbs. he is an imposing red zone target.

 

54 Philadelphia Eagles
WR Allen Robinson (Penn St.)
DeSean Jackson was released by the Eagles and is now catching balls for the Washington Redskins. The Eagles need a replacement. Robinson has tremendous value at this spot.

 

55 Cincinnati Bengals
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska)
The Bengals need some youth at the corner position. It doesn’t hurt that the young man is 6ft3.

 

56 San Francisco 49ers (via Kansas City Chiefs)
C Weston Richburg (Colorado St.)
‘Frisco has an outstanding offensive line, but they won’t pass up an opportunity to make it even better.

 

57 San Diego Chargers
CB Marcus Roberson (Florida)
The Chargers have depth at corner but not a lot of big time talent. Roberson should be able to secure a lot of playing time as a rookie and maybe even grab a starting spot.

 

58 New Orleans Saints
WR Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss)
Lance Moore left via free agency and is now a Pittsburgh Steeler. Marques Colston & Robert Meacham are both around 30-ish. Not old by any means, but probably old enough that adding a fresh talent to the mix isn’t a bad idea.

 

59 Indianapolis Colts
WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
The Colts didn’t have a first round pick so this choice has to have some impact. While it is true that they signed Hakeem Nicks in free agency and have TY Hilton, it is also true that perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne is 35 years old. Matthews is too good to pass up at this spot.

 

60 Arizona Cardinals (trade w/Carolina Panthers)
LB Carl Bradford (Arizona St.)
I’ve been calling the Cardinals the Pittsburgh Steelers of the west for awhile. A lot of former Steelers seem to end up in Arizona. Former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt (now the head coach for the Tennessee Titans) was a former Steelers offensive coordinator. Current Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is a former Steelers offensive coordinator. Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore is a former Steelers offensive coordinator. Former Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein is now an assistant line coach in Arizona. Former Steelers defensive tackle Brenston Bucker is now the Cardinals defensive line coach. If you want to go back in time a bit Steelers Hall of Famer Mean Joe Greene spent a season coaching the Cardinals defensive line in 2003. It seems as if The Steeler Way has kind of been transmitted to Arizona thru osmosis, with one of those philosophies being fast athletic linebackers who can get to the quarterback. John Abraham is 36 years old and it is time to fine his successor.
61 San Francisco 49ers
WR Martavis Bryant (Clemson)
The 49ers are up again and this time choose to add to their deep yet prosaic receiving corps. Anquan Boldin is 33 years old and there’s really no one behind him that’d scare defenses at all.

 

62 New England Patriots
DT Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
Vince Wilfork is 32 years old. Here is his replacement in a year or two.

 

63 Denver Broncos
WR Jarvis Landry (LSU)
Peyton Manning still has Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, & tight end Julius Thomas to throw to, as well as free agent signee Emmanuel Sanders. But Welker is 33 years old so adding some depth at the position is probably a good call.

 

64 Seattle Seahawks
WR Davante Adams (Fresno St.)
Percy Harvin & Sidney Rice are back for the defending Super Bowl Champions, but there is little else at the position after the departure of Golden Tate. Adams is a suitable replacement for Tate.

 

 

 

Round 3

65 New Orleans Saints (trade w/Houston Texans)
T Jack Mewhort (Ohio St.)
The Saints have to upgrade their offensive line.

 

66 Washington Redskins
S Dion Bailey (USC)
Washington’s secondary is led by DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Meriweather, & free agent signee Ryan Clark, who are all north of 30. A youth movement is in order.

 

67 Oakland Raiders
QB Zach Mettenberger
This might be the biggest steal of the draft. Sure the Raiders have Matt Schaub. But let us not forget that Matt Schaub was about as good a quarterback last season as the one-armed man from The Fugitive. It’d be amazing if Mettenberger dropped this far. At 6ft5 and 224lbs. he has prototypical size. The fact that he is coming off of a torn ACL likely explains his second tier status amongst the quarterbacks.

 

68 Atlanta Falcons
TE Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)
14 time Pro Bowler and surefire future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez has retired. It’ll be difficult to replace him, but someone has to try.

 

69 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
G David Yankey (Stanford)
Don’t be surprised if the Bucs double down on offensive line depth.

 

70 Jacksonville Jaguars
T Cameron Fleming (Stanford)
Back-to-back Stanford linemen find NFL homes. Fleming and 2013 first round pick Luke Joeckel would form quite the impressive tandem on the Jags offensive line.

 

71 Cleveland Browns
G Cyril Richardson (Baylor)
Richardson is a massive guard that takes the interior of the Browns line from impressive to potentially magnificent.

 

72 Minnesota Vikings
CB Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
Depth in the secondary is important, especially when the Vikings face the Detroit Lions and All Pro Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson twice a year.

 

73 San Francisco 49ers (trade w/Buffalo Bills)
DE Scott Crichton (Oregon St.)
Justin Smith is 34 years old. It’s time to find his successor and the 49ers have enough ammunition to move up and get a who has dropped a bit lower than he had been projected.

 

74 New York Giants
RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio St.)
Is it too soon to give up on 2012 first round pick David Wilson?? Probably. But he just underwent surgery for spinal stenosis so his future is cloudy at best.

 

75 St. Louis Rams
T James Hurst (North Carolina)
Hurst has seen his draft stock plummet after breaking his leg in the 2013 Belk Bowl. However, the Rams can afford to roll the dice even if they have to stash the young man on the PUP list for awhile. He can work his way into a starting spot in a year or two.

 

76 Detroit Lions
C Travis Swanson (Arkansas)
When you have a star quarterback like Matthew Stafford it makes sense to invest in protection for him. Dominic Raiola is 35 years old. The youngster can learn his craft for a year before taking over in 2015.

 

77 Buffalo Bills (trade w/San Francisco 49ers via Tennessee Titans)
LB Telvin Smith (Florida St.)
The Bills don’t necessarily need a linebacker, but the value here is too good to pass up.

 

78 Baltimore Ravens
S Brock Vereen (Minnesota)
Vereen probably has a good chance at cracking the starting lineup and pairing up with safety and 2013 first round pick Matt Elam.

 

79 Dallas Cowboys
DE Marcus Smith (Louisville)
The Cowboys would be thrilled to find Smith still available at this spot. All the sudden the loss of DeMarcus Ware doesn’t seem all that horrible.

 

80 New York Jets
WR Cody Latimer (Indiana)
I don’t know a whole lot about Latimer, but draftniks like Kiper & McShay seem high on him so that’s good enough for me. The Jets need weapons for whomever wins the quarterback battle between Geno Smith & Michael Vick.

 

81 Miami Dolphins
RB Jeremy Hill (LSU)
With their offensive line woes alleviated the Dolphins can now move forward with other pressing concerns. They don’t seem to be enamored with any of Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, or Mike Gillislee. They signed Knowshon Moreno in free agency, but he’s just about as pedestrian as those other guys. Hill has been getting a lot of love from the talking heads and could form a decent 1-2 punch with Moreno.

 

82 Chicago Bears
LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
Lance Briggs & DJ Williams are both north of 30. It can’t hurt to add some youth to the linebacking corps.

 

83 Cleveland Browns (via Pittsburgh Steelers)
RB D’Anthony Thomas (Oregon)
Ben Tate will be the every down back in Cleveland, but Thomas adds a dimension to the offense that the Browns have been lacking since…well…always. Imagine being a defensive coordinator and having to prepare for Johnny Manziel AND D’Anthony Thomas.

 

84 Arizona Cardinals
DT Dominique Easley (Florida)
Darnell Dockett is 32 years old. Easley can learn from him before eventually taking his place.

 

85 Green Bay Packers
WR Paul Richardson (Colorado)
James Jones left Green Bay in free agency and is now an Oakland Raider. The Packers won’t miss a beat with this rookie replacement playing alongside mainstays Jordy Nelson & Randall Cobb.

 

86 Philadelphia Eagles
S Ed Reynolds (Stanford)
The Eagles have a need at safety. Problem solved.

 

87 Kansas City Chiefs
QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)
Rumors have been circulating that the Chefs may be in the market for a quarterback. Many believe that Alex Smith played way beyond his talent level in 2013 and are just waiting for him to come crashing to Earth. That may happen. Or he could be a solid starter for the next couple of years and then fade away after a decent decade long career. Either way McCarron is an intriguing addition. He is probably best served by being a reliable backup for 2 or 3 years before being handed the reins.

 

88 Cincinnati Bengals
WR Dri Archer (Kent St.)
The Bengals receiving corps looks rather prosaic when you get past AJ Green. This pick could add a little excitement.

 

89 San Diego Chargers
QB Aaron Murray (Georgia)
The Chargers jump on the quarterback train and get themselves what they hope will be Phillip Rivers’ successor in a few years.

 

90 Indianapolis Colts
C Marcus Martin (USC)
With a valuable commodity like Andrew Luck offensive line depth is an enormous consideration.

 

91 New Orleans Saints
LB Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
The talking heads have been giving some love to Borland. I’ve heard him compared to Zach Thomas & Chris Spielman, which in my mind means that what he may lack in natural athleticism he makes up for with solid work ethic, and it’s never a bad thing to have a guy like that on your team.

 

92 Carolina Panthers
WR Devin Street (Pitt)
Right now Jerricho Cotchery & Jason Avant are the starting wideouts for the Panthers. That may get you thru the season, but adding another receiver is essential. Street is probably a bit of a reach at this spot but Carolina has no choice.

 

93 New England Patriots
T Michael Schofield (Michigan)
Tom Brady might have 3 or 4 more years left to grab one more Lombardi Trophy, but if that is to happen offensive line depth is of the utmost importance.

 

94 Buffalo Bills (trade w/San Francisco 49ers)
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa)
Personally I am a big fan of Bills tight end Scott Chandler, another Iowa Hawkeye. I think he’s a decent red zone target. However, he only caught 2 touchdowns in 2013, which was down from 6 in 2012 and why a lot of folks seem to think that the Bills need an upgrade. A two tight end package could become an effective weapon for Buffalo.
95 Denver Broncos
CB Pierre Desir (Lindenwood)
For anyone that may be curious Lindenwood is a Division II school in Missouri. The Broncos need to some depth in the secondary and I like cornerbacks that are 6 foot +.

 

96 Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks)
RB Charles Sims (West Virginia)
A few things. First of all backup running back Toby Gerhart fled Minnesota and grabbed the opportunity to become the feature back in Jacksonville. One can hardly blame him. Secondly All-Universe RB Adrian Peterson is 29 years old and has an injury history. Having a solid backup is crucial for the Vikings. And while Peterson is pretty much a straight ahead bulldozer Sims specializes in catching the ball out of the backfield, which will be a nice option for whomever is behind center in Minnesota.

 

97 Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory pick)
WR Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
The Steelers offset losses to the receiving corps with a couple of free agent signings, but that doesn’t mean they won’t add another piece in the draft. Coleman is the type of big body that Ben Roethlisberger has coveted for years. He’s raw and may need a year or two to develop, but the upside is there.

 

98 Green Bay Packers (compensatory pick)
LB Christian Jones (Florida St.)
Newly signed linebacker Julius Peppers is 34 years old, so even with the presence of AJ Hawk & Clay Matthews it wouldn’t hurt to have one eye on the future and add some depth.

 

99 Baltimore Ravens (compensatory pick)
WR L’Damian Washington (Missouri)
Steve Smith came to Baltimore from the Carolina Panthers this offseason, but he is 35 years old. The Ravens need to add a big body to complement speedster Torrey Smith. Joe Flacco seemed like a lot better quarterback a couple of years ago when he had Anquan Boldin as a security blanket.

 

100 San Francisco 49ers (compensatory pick)
LB Shane Skov (Stanford)
We all witnessed the horrific knee injury to linebacker Navorro Bowman in the NFC Championship. I’m not sure where he stands in the recovery process, but I think it is unlikely that he’d be able to play at a high level in 2014…if at all. The Niners need to find a replacement.

I’m Gonna Win A Billion Dollars!!

Well okay…maybe not. But I am atleast glad I finally found some way to insert my NCAA March Madness brackets into an entry here at The Manofesto.It’s not exactly perfect, but it’ll do.

bballmadness3

As you can see, my Final Four consists of Florida, Virginia, Duke, & Oklahoma St., with the Gators eventually upending the Cowboys for the national championship. This looks like one of the more wide open & competitive tournaments in recent years, and alot of talking heads seem to be predicting a plethora of upsets. Some are even saying that none of the #1 seeds might make it to The Final Four. I don’t buy that. More often than not chalk ultimately rules the day. Oh sure there will be a few upsets. That’s what keeps things interesting. But I don’t think it’s wise to get crazy…even when the “experts” keep talking about parity and teams being “mis-seeded”. That committee is made up of folks who know what they’re doing. They certainly know more than most of us.

I don’t consider a 9 over and 8 or even a 10 over a 7 to be all that big of an upset, so in this year’s first round (yes I still call it the first round no matter how much they try to shove their fuzzy math down our throats), I am forecasting eight real upsets, with nearly half of them occurring in the South region. To be honest that is probably too many, but I suppose we’ll see.

Beyond the first round there are just a few teams I really like as “Cinderellas”…Tulsa, Oklahoma St., Oregon, & Nebraska. I have the Cowboys ending up in the title game and going down to Florida.

I think alot of folks are expecting early exits from traditional powers like Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Syracuse, & Arizona, but I have all of them getting by their first round opponents and all but Arizona getting to atleast the Sweet 16. The most overrated teams in the tournament for me are Ohio St. & UCLA, both of whom I have being defeated in the first round.

So there you have it. The next couple of weekends should be alot of fun. I encourage y’all to enjoy The Madness. Fill out brackets. Enter office pools. Compete with friends. But don’t expect to walk away with Warren Buffet’s billion dollars…that prize shall be mine. But if you’re really really nice maybe…just maybe…I’ll share.

My First Ever NFL Mock Draft (2014)

I have pondered the idea of doing a mock NFL draft for a few years now, but there have been some things stopping me. I am by no means an “expert” who pores over tape or scouting reports like a Mel Kiper Jr. or Mike Mayock. I’m not an “insider” with a plethora of contacts within the NFL like Chris Mortensen or John Clayton. I’m just a normal, average, run-of-the-mill fan who just happens to have an nfloutlet thru which I can pontificate about things that interest me. I don’t know who half of these players even are…I have gathered a lot of information from various sources and just have to trust their assessment. I do watch a lot of college football, but I learned long ago that there isn’t always as much crossover as one would assume there’d be between talented collegiate players and good pro prospects. There are always college football stars that are deemed to be too small, too slow, or unathletic enough for the NFL. Conversely, there are a lot of guys who make an impact in the NFL that few fans ever heard about in college. There are a numerous mock drafts available, so why add to the pile??

 

Despite these reservations I finally decided to forge ahead. The first thing I elected to do was make this a 3 round mock draft. Any yahoo can do a one round draft…I want a challenge!! The second thing I knew I wanted to do was throw in some trades. As my fantasy football pals know I love wheelin’ & dealin’. Sadly there isn’t enough of that that actually happens in the real draft. I do know football-introducing-the-science_1that they have a conversion chart that tells the suits what equals out to a fair exchange, but since I don’t have access to that and only have three rounds to work with I just do the best I can. If you see “via X Team” it indicates that is a real pre-existing trade. When you see “trade w/X Team” that means it is a trade that I am creating for this draft. It must be noted that we are almost three months away from the actual draft and a lot of things will occur in that time, especially when free agency begins next month. There will probably be a lot of opinions changed…one way or another…about certain prospects during the NFL Combine later this month. Some well-known names will become salary cap casualties. I may do a revised mock draft a week or two before the real thing, but I’m not making any promises. In the meantime, for those of you nerdy enough to enjoy this stuff as much as I do please peruse my selections and don’t hesitate to leave feedback.

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Round 1

1              Cleveland Browns (trade w/Houston Texans)Cleveland_Browns_Helmet

            QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)                            

The Browns move up to get the quarterback that they covet. The move makes sense.

2              Houston Texans (via Washington Redskins & trade w/St. Louis Rams)houston-texans-mobile-wallpaper

            QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)

In this scenario the Texans move down and then move back up, securing not only an extra pick but the player they really wanted all along anyway.

3              Atlanta Falcons (trade w/Jacksonville Jaguars)falcons

            DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)

The Jags move down knowing they can get who they want a few picks later plus add another draft choice. The Falcons leapfrog a couple of other teams to make sure they get Clowney. It’s a win-win for both teams.

4              St. Louis Rams (trade w/Houston Texans)St_Louis_Rams

            WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

The Rams are tempted to take an offensive lineman, but this draft is deep at that position and there’s really no one that is transcendent at the top. However, Watkins does stand far & above any other receiver.

5              Minnesota Vikings (trade w/Oakland Raiders)vikingshelmet1

            QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)

The Vikings are desperate for a quarterback. The Raiders figure they can find one in the second round plus add a couple of picks. Only time will tell who was smarter.

6              Jacksonville Jaguars (trade w/Atlanta Falcons)Jacksonville_Jaguars

            DE Kony Ealy (Missouri)

‘Tis a tough position for the Jags. They miss out on both Clowney and Bortles. There is a huge temptation to reach for a quarterback, but that’s not the smart move. A good pass rusher is always a decent fallback option.

7              Tampa Bay BuccaneersTampa_Bay_Buccaneers_Helmet

            OT Greg Robinson (Auburn)

The Bucs won’t walk…they’ll run to the podium to make this choice.

8              Oakland Raiders (trade w/Minnesota Vikings)raiders

            OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

Yes the Raiders need a quarterback. But there’s no one in this spot that’d be a good value. Matthews being available at #8 would be a shocker and few teams will ever pass up a cornerstone left tackle.

9              Buffalo BillsBuffalo_Bills_Helmet

            LB Khalil Mack (Buffalo)

If Mack, who played collegiately for the Buffalo Bulls, was hoping to escape the frigid northeast for a warmer climate he’ll be disappointed…but he’ll be rich.

10           Detroit LionsDetroit_Lions_Helmet

           CB Darqueze Dennard (Michigan St.)

The Lions defensive backfield was atrocious last season, and the Seattle Seahawks have proven how important a great secondary can be.

11           Tennessee TitansTennessee_Titans_Helmet

         S Calvin Pryor (Louisville)

The Titans are very very tempted to snag a quarterback, but maybe the Jake Locker era isn’t over just yet. Instead they address another need area by upgrading their secondary.

12           New York GiantsGiants Logo

           LB Anthony Barr (UCLA)

Some early mock drafts had Barr as a Top 5 pick. The G-Men would be ecstatic to find such value at this spot.

13           St. Louis RamsSt_Louis_Rams

        OT Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama)

With their first pick the Rams added a top flight receiver. With their second 1st round choice they add some protection for quarterback Sam Bradford. Not a bad day’s work.

14           Chicago Bearschicago-bears-logo13

          S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama)

Ridiculous name aside, this is a pick that addresses an area of need for the Bears without reaching for an offensive lineman that wouldn’t be as good of a value here.

15           Pittsburgh Steelersdiamond-steelers

            CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma St.)

The Steelers’ secondary hasn’t been all that great for a few years in my opinion, and they’re getting old. This pick addresses a huge problem and injects some much needed youth into the defense.

16           Baltimore Ravens Baltimore_Ravens2

           WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)

What was the difference between the Super Bowl Champion Ravens of 2012 and the non-playoff Ravens of 2013?? Some say one key change was the loss of receiver Anquan Boldin who was traded to the 49ers. Evans would solve the problem.

17           Dallas Cowboysdallas-cowboys-logo2

           DE Dee Ford (Auburn)

As much flack as quarterback Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett receive the fact is that the biggest reason the Cowboys continue to be a disappointment (besides their meddling owner Jerry Jones) is their porous defense. Ideally they’d trade out of this spot as the value at the secondary positions is later in this round or in the 2nd & 3rd rounds, but they have trouble finding a taker and therefore reach just a little for the best defensive end available.

18           New York JetsJets-Pin-Pro

           WR Kelvin Benjamin (Florida St.)

The Jets need offensive playmakers…plain & simple. Geno Smith can be an effective NFL quarterback, but he needs better options than what he had in 2013.

19           Miami Dolphins                Miami_Dolphins_Helmet

         OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

The Dolphins really need a workhorse running back, but since they seem to be devalued these days I doubt if they’d choose one with a mid-first round pick. Instead they solidify their offensive line with someone who hopefully won’t find themselves in the midst of an idiotic bullying scandal.

20           Arizona Cardinalsnflarizonacardinals

          OT Zack Martin (Notre Dame)

I think the Cards can squeeze another year or two out of Carson Palmer, so there’s no need to reach for a quarterback just yet.

21           Green Bay PackersGreen_Bay_Packers_Helmet

         TE Eric Ebron (North Carolina)

The Packers were a playoff team and I think they’ll be even better in 2014, so they don’t have any major needs. They could use an upgrade at cornerback but anyone taken here would be a reach, so instead they replace tight end Jermichael Finlay. Finlay’s 2013 season ended at the halfway point with an injury that required spinal fusion surgery. He’s only 26 years old, but he’s also a free agent so the prudent thing to do…especially since quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a plethora of weapons at his disposal anyway…is find a healthier & less expensive alternative.

22           Philadelphia Eagleseagles

           LB CJ Moseley (Alabama)

Head coach Chip Kelly is an offensive guru, but if he really wants to take his team to the top he needs to pay attention to the defense. Moseley is a well-rounded player with tremendous leadership skills.

23           Kansas City Chiefskc-chiefs-logo

         LB Ryan Shazier (Ohio St.)

The Chiefs were the NFL’s most improved team in 2013, but something was lacking. After starting the season 9-0 they finished 2-5 and lost a close one to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. The popular sentiment is that they’d like to add a big time receiver for quarterback Alex Smith to target, but I think that the Seattle Seahawks provided the blueprint for defeating the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl…defense, defense, & more defense.

24           Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati_Bengals_Helmet

         CB Jason Verrett (TCU)

The Bengals are a solid playoff team so they can afford to reach just a little to solidify their secondary.

25           San Diego ChargersSan_Diego_Chargers_Helmet3

         G David Yankey (Stanford)

The Chargers flew under the radar in 2013 and right into the playoffs. Time may be running out for quarterback Philip Rivers to fulfill the potential so many thought he had when drafted a decade ago. The best way to maximize his abilities is to keep him upright and give him time to find a receiver downfield.

26           Houston Texans (via Indianapolis Colts & trade w/Cleveland Browns)houston-texans-mobile-wallpaper

           OT Morgan Moses (Virginia)

The Texans get this pick for moving down in the first round and allowing the Browns to draft Johnny Football. Of course they then moved back up and got their quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. So now what?? Well, when you’ve got a big time signal caller the first thing you want to do is protect him.

27           New Orleans Saints10_new_orleans_saints

       OT Antonio Richardson (Tennessee)

The pickins’ are getting slim at the tackle position, but the Saints can afford to roll the dice in an effort to protect Drew Brees.

28           Carolina Pantherscarolina_panthers_logo-14336

         WR Marqise Lee (USC)

I believe that the Panthers are one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl next season. They’ll have to get past the Seattle Seahawks at some point to get there, and a top flight receiver would help a lot. Steve Smith is 34 years old.

29           New England PatriotsNew_England_Patriots_Helmet

          TE Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)

The Patriots will be heartbroken to see all of the top receivers…Watkins, Evans, Benjamin, & Lee…off the board. But we know they have several options in the playbook for a solid tight end that can catch the ball.

30           San Francisco 49ersSan-Francisco-49ers

         DT Aaron Donald (Pitt)

Most folks seem convinced that ‘Frisco will be right back in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy in 2014. I’m not so sure. This is a team that is getting older at some key spots and they need to address the issue before it becomes a problem. Receiver Anquan Boldin is 33 years old, but I think that position can be dealt with later. For now the prudent idea might be to take the best defensive player on the board.

31           Denver Broncosbroncos-4759

         CB Marcus Roberson (Florida)

The Broncos looked old & slow in the Super Bowl. It was kind of sad. They need to get younger & faster really quickly if they want a chance to get Peyton Manning another ring.

32           Seattle Seahawks            seattle-seahawks1

         WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU)

What can you possibly get the team that seemingly has everything?? Well, I’m going to say another weapon for quarterback Russell Wilson.

*********

Round 2

 

33           St. Louis Rams (trade w/Houston Texans)

         G Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA)

The Rams get this pick after trading down with the Texans earlier. This is the third pick for them and they’ve already added a legit #1 receiver and a solid offensive tackle. Depth on the offensive line is always great to have though.

34           Washington Redskins

          DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida St.)

The Redskins didn’t have a first round pick due to the trade that snagged them quarterback RGIII a couple of years ago. They still end up getting first round talent though, and improve their defense in the process.

35           Cleveland Browns

          RB Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona)

Either Trent Richardson wasn’t the answer at running back or the Browns gave up on him too quickly. Either way they need a replacement, because if they go into 2014 with 32 year old Willis McGahee & Fozzy Whittaker as  their starters they are screwed.

36           Oakland Raiders

         QB Derek Carr (Fresno St.)

Patience pays off for Oakland. Truthfully Carr shouldn’t drop this far, but there is some trepidation since he is the younger brother of former #1 overall pick David Carr, who was a huge bust coming out of Fresno St. in 2002. Fair?? Probably not, but the comparisons are inevitable.

37           Jacksonville Jaguars (trade w/Atlanta Falcons)

           G Cyril Richardson (Baylor)

At this point one has to feel some semblance of sympathy for the Jags. They traded down in the first round but it seemed like they could snag Carr early in the second. Oops. Fortunately there are a few more decent quarterback prospects available…but not here. Instead they add depth to the offensive line.

38           Tampa Bay Buccaneers

           LB Vic Beasley (Clemson)

The Bucs addressed offensive line issues in the first round. This time they reach just a bit for a pass rusher.

39           Jacksonville Jaguars

           DT Louis Nix III (Notre Dame)

The Jags are up again?? They go defense again and get great value with a huge defensive tackle.

40           Minnesota Vikings

           WR Allen Robinson (Penn St.)

Minnesota got their quarterback in the first round, so now it is time to get him some weapons. Adrian Peterson can’t do it all.

41           Buffalo Bills

          TE Austin Jenkins (Washington)

Any quarterback…especially a young guy like EJ Manuel…benefits from a solid tight end that can catch the ball. Adding Jenkins with the already decent Scott Chandler could give the Bills a unique tandem that’d be the envy of the league.

42           Tennessee Titans

          WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)

Matthews provides an upgrade over aging Nate Washington and oft injured troublemaker Kenny Britt, who some team will likely overpay in free agency.

43           New York Giants

          S Terrence Brooks (Florida St.)

The Giants continue to upgrade their defense by adding some speed to the secondary. Brooks could play cornerback in a pinch as well, and that kind of flexibility is a good thing in the NFL.

44           St. Louis Rams

          DT RaShede Hageman (Minnesota)

The Rams have their fourth pick of the draft and add some depth on defense this time.

45           Detroit Lions

          CB Bradley Roby (Ohio St.)

Did I mention that Detroit’s secondary was really bad last year?? Taking two corners with their first two picks might seem a bit out-of-the-box, but if it works then why not??

46           Pittsburgh Steelers

           G Gabe Jackson (Mississippi St.)

My Steelers addressed the secondary with their first pick, so now it is time to begin rebuilding the offensive line. The top echelon of tackles were all taken in the first round, but I like the idea of pairing Jackson with David DeCastro on the interior of the line with center Maurkice Pouncey in the middle.

47           Baltimore Ravens

          OT Jack Mewhort (Ohio St.)

The Ravens got the big wide receiver they needed in the first round, and now they will look to solidify the offensive line. They are likely to lose atleast one significant lineman in free agency, so a replacement is necessary.

48           Dallas Cowboys

          S Ed Reynolds (Stanford)

Dallas must redo their secondary. It’s just that simple.

49           New York Jets

          RB Tre Mason (Auburn)

Neither Bilal Powell nor Chris Ivory are feature back material. The powers-that-be in The Big Apple have a few good choices here, but I’m guessing they’ll fall in love with Mason’s speed & versatility.

50           Miami Dolphins

         RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio St.)

The Dolphins get their workhorse back. Adios Lamar Miller & Daniel Thomas!!

51           Chicago Bears

          S Deone Bucannon (Washington St.)

The Seattle Seahawks showed us the blueprint for success…a big, physical secondary. The Bears have been paying attention.

52           Arizona Cardinals

           LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)

The defensive braintrust in Arizona loves linebackers who can get after the quarterback. With John Abraham turning 35 it is time to turn the page.

53           Green Bay Packers

           CB Lamarcus Joyner (Florida St.)

After finding a replacement for Jermichael Finlay in the first round the Packers will look to add secondary depth here.

54           Philadelphia Eagles

            CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)

The Eagles continue to fortify the defense by adding a piece to the secondary.

55           Cincinnati Bengals

           S Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)

Cincy adds more depth to the secondary. That’s where the value is in this draft.

56           San Francisco 49ers (via Kansas City Chiefs)

          WR Davante Adams (Fresno St.)

This pick belongs to the 49ers due to the trade that sent QB Alex Smith from ‘Frisco to KC last year. Adams can learn for a year under Anquan Boldin before taking his job.

57           San Diego Chargers

           LB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)

San Diego’s defense is young but that doesn’t mean the pass rush can’t be improved.

58           New Orleans Saints

          LB Trevor Reilly (Utah)

At this point the linebacker group starts to look a bit thin, so the Saints grab one while they can.

59           Indianapolis Colts

           OT Joel Bitonio (Nevada)

The Colts didn’t have a first round choice due to trading it to Cleveland for RB Trent Richardson. If that trade stands any chance of working out in the long run Indianapolis has to spend this pick on an offensive line upgrade.

60           Carolina Panthers

           DT Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)

The Panthers add depth on the defensive line.

61           San Francisco 49ers

           DT Trent Murphy (Stanford)

The 49ers have already addressed their defensive line and picked up some depth at receiver. They are in a unique position to take the best player available, which just so happens to add more depth on the defensive line as well.

62           New England Patriots

          DE Scott Crichton (Oregon St.)

The Pats add youth & athleticism to the defensive line.

63           Denver Broncos

          G Dakota Dozier (Furman)

Denver added a much needed younger piece to the defensive backfield in the first round…now they address the offense. Peyton Manning was never that fleet of foot, but at his advanced age protection becomes even more of a priority. Offensive line depth is crucial to another Super Bowl run. Dozier can play both guard & tackle, which makes him a versatile and valuable asset.

64           Seattle Seahawks

           DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas)

Do the Seahawks really need an upgrade on defense?? No, not really. But Jeffcoat is the best player available and Chris Clemons is 32 years old.

**********

Round 3

65           Houston Texans

            CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska)

The Texans give some attention to the defense by adding some size to the secondary.

66           Washington Redskins

           LB Christian Jones (Florida St.)

Brian Orakpo is a free agent and the ageless London Fletcher finally retiring…I think. Linebacker is a significant need.

67           Oakland Raiders

           WR Brandin Cooks (Oregon St.)

The diminutive Cooks might not be the #1 wideout the Raiders really covet, but he could be a tremendous slot receiver in the vein of a Wes Welker. That can be a valuable asset in today’s NFL.

68           Atlanta Falcons

          RB Charles Sims (West Virginia)

Steven Jackson will turn 31 this summer. His days as a #1 back are over. The Falcons must move forward.

69           Tampa Bay Buccaneers

          TE Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)

Mel Kiper & Adam Shefter will probably use the word “upside” a hundred times when talking about Niklas. He only started one year at Notre Dame, but at 6ft.7 270lbs. the former linebacker has size & athleticism and could find himself starting fairly early in his career.

70           Jacksonville Jaguars

           QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)

Don’t be surprised if the Jags also try to trade for a young veteran signal caller like Kirk Cousins or Ryan Mallet or sign a stop gap like Michael Vick, Josh Freeman, or Matt Cassel.

71           Cleveland Browns

          G Brandon Thomas (Clemson)

After taking care of major issues at QB & RB the Browns now move to solidify an offensive line that is already decent but could be better.

72           Oakland Raiders (trade w/Minnesota Vikings)

          S Dion Bailey (USC)

The Raiders have this pick after moving down in the first round, a trade which allowed the Vikings to snag quarterback Blake Bortles. Oakland has to get younger in their secondary. Former Heisman winner Charles Woodson is 37 years old.

73           Buffalo Bills

           OT Ju’Wuan James (Tennessee)

A team can never have enough offensive line depth.

74           New York Giants

         RB Bishop Sankey (Washington)

Is it too soon to give up on 2012 first round pick David Wilson?? Probably. But he just underwent surgery for spinal stenosis so his future is cloudy at best.

75           St. Louis Rams

          S Ty Zimmerman (Kansas St.)

The Rams have had a great draft thus far, adding a big time receiver and significant help on both lines. Now they add some depth to the secondary.

76           Detroit Lions

           C Travis Swanson (Arkansas)

Detroit just re-signed center Dominic Raiola for another year, but he is 35 years old and it’s time to look toward the future. Raiola can mentor Swanson for one season before passing the torch.

77           San Francisco 49ers (via Tennessee Titans)

           CB Loucheiz Purifoy (Florida)

The 49ers are likely to suffer some losses in the secondary via free agency, so they take the opportunity to replenish.

78           Baltimore Ravens

          C Marcus Martin (USC)

The Ravens offensive line was an issue last season. Upgrades are needed because when a team has a good running back like Ray Rice it is crucial to be able to take advantage of his talent by opening up holes for him to run thru.

79           Dallas Cowboys

          CB Terrance Mitchell (Oregon)

The Cowboys continue to look for answers to solve their defensive backfield issues.

80           New York Jets

          LB Shayne Skov (Stanford)

Starting linebacker Calvin Pace is 33 years old. The Jets need to find some youth at the position.

81           Miami Dolphins

         WR Paul Richardson (Colorado)

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs more weapons. Mike Wallace & Brian Hartline ain’t gonna cut it.

82           Chicago Bears

          DT Will Sutton (Arizona St.)

The Bears add some much needed depth on the defensive line.

83           Cleveland Browns (via Pittsburgh Steelers)

           CB Keith McGill (Utah)

Cleveland takes the opportunity to upgrade the corner opposite All-Pro Joe Haden.

84           Arizona Cardinals

          QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)

The young signal caller from Eastern Illinois (alma mater of fellow quarterback Tony Romo) was impressive in a couple of post-season all-star games. This is a good situation for him as he can sit for a year or two and learn the ropes from Carson Palmer.

85           Green Bay Packers

          NT DaQuan Jones (Penn St.)

Free agent BJ Raji is likely headed out of Green Bay, so they need a replacement.

86           Philadelphia Eagles

           RB De’Anthony Thomas (Oregon)

Thomas is an interesting prospect. He’s not an every down running back and he’s not quite a wide receiver. He’s a situational player with blazing speed. Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly coached Thomas at Oregon and has to be salivating at the thought of being able to utilize his unique skillset in the NFL. If anyone should know how to best use Thomas it’s Coach Kelly.

87           Kansas City Chiefs

          WR Donte Moncrief (Mississippi)

Kansas City grabs an underrated prospect who can be a nice complement to Dwayne Bowe.

88           Cincinnati Bengals

         LB Telvin Smith (Florida St.)

James Harrison is 35 years old. He won’t last forever.

89           San Diego Chargers

          DT Dominique Easley (Florida)

Easley is coming off an ACL injury (his 2nd since 2010) and probably should have stayed for his senior year at Florida. The Chargers are very young along the defensive line and can afford to be patient.

90           Indianapolis Colts

           G Anthony Steen (Alabama)

The Colts continue to upgrade their offensive line. Quarterback Andrew Luck must be protected and a running game has to be established.

91           New Orleans Saints

           CB Jaylen Watkins (Florida)

N’awlins adds some depth to the secondary.

92           Carolina Panthers

         G Brandon Linder (Miami, FL)

This is probably a bit of a reach, but Carolina can afford to be a bit cheeky. Protecting Cam Newton is essential so it’s worth a gamble.

93           New England Patriots

           DE Will Clarke (West Virginia)

Clarke is another guy who really helped himself in post-season all-star games. This isn’t necessarily an area of need for New England, but Belichick will figure out how to fit Clarke into the rotation.

94           San Francisco 49ers

      C Weston Richburg (Colorado St.)

Starting center Jonathan Goodwin is 35 years old. Time to get some new blood to go with the rest of the young & talented offensive line.

95           Denver Broncos

          QB Zach Mettenberger (LSU)

I don’t think that Brock Osweiler or Zac Dysert are worthy candidates to eventually replace Peyton Manning. As much as the Broncos want to get Manning that second ring the fact is that the powers-that-be have to have one eye on the future and Mettenberger, who is currently recovering from a torn ACL, can “redshirt” for a year before possibly being in a position to gently push Manning into retirement.

96           Oakland Raiders (trade w/Minnesota Vikings via Seattle Seahawks)

           S Ahmad Dixon (Baylor)

Minnesota had this pick due to the trade that sent Percy Harvin to Seattle in 2013. They then gave it to the Raiders in order to jump up in the first round. The Raiders have added a QB, slot receiver, & cornerstone tackle already. They also added some young, fresh legs to the secondary and do so again here.

Farewell Football…For Now

It is my opinion that the Tuesday after The Super Bowl is one of the saddest, loneliest, emptiest days of the year. After nearly 6 months of following our favorite sport The Fat Lady has sung her song and it is time to move on to other things for a while. Monday was spent analyzing & dissecting The Super Bowl, but what now?? The Daytona 500 won’t roll around for few weeks.bye College basketball is a month away from being really interesting. No one cares about the NBA until the playoffs begin. Pitchers & catchers report in a few days but the season itself won’t start for a couple of months. I don’t have a long term answer for how to fill the void, but atleast for today we can take a look back at how well…or badly…your humble Potentate of Profundity did with all of my pigskin insight this past season. As usual it wasn’t pretty, but I still think I’m smarter…and more entertaining…than ¾ of the talking heads in Bristol, CT. Anyway…let’s tie up those loose ends and bid the gridiron a fond adieu (atleast until the NFL Draft).

 

kickoff_footballFor anyone wondering how Zach & I ended up doing in our Pigskin Picks of Profundity this past season…..

Zach went 41-49, which is a 46% winning percentage.  Not bad for a rookie. It’s better than the 39% that I had last season. Yours truly finished 2013 with a 45-46 record…a 49% winning percentage. A clear improvement on my part. More importantly I really enjoyed doing the picks each week and would like to thank my nephew for joining in on the fun. I hope it is a tradition that we will continue for many years.

 

My college bowl picks were atrocious, while Zach actually did quite well. He went NCAA_football19-16…a very respectable 54%. I’d be surprised if any of the yahoos on ESPN were as accurate. Conversely I went 9-26, which is only 26%. I knew bowl games were hard to predict, but holy cow I think a blind monkey could have done better.

 

16 out of the 25 teams in my NCAA Pre-season Top 25 actually finished in the Top 25. Five of those finished within two spots of where I had them picked. Oregon’s two losses relatively late in the season ruined their chances at a Top 5 finish, while Alabama getting throttled in the Sugar Bowl cost them a likely spot among the top 3 or 4 teams. I am not a guy who follows recruiting and knows all about the 4 Star prospects who’ll be impact freshmen, so I didn’t know about QB Jameis Winston and therefore had no idea that Florida State had national title potential. I knew that Louisville was a risky pick at #6 and 25that they’d probably have to go undefeated to end the season that high. Unfortunately they lost late to Central Florida and plummeted out of the Top 10. Missouri?? UCF?? Baylor?? Didn’t see any of their success coming. Ditto…in a huge way…for the Auburn Tigers, who parlayed two miracle finishes into a National Championship Game appearance and a #2 finish. Kudos. The Texas Longhorns really disappointed me and head coach Mack Brown paid for it with his job. Brady Hoke will get another year at Michigan, but one more 7-6 season might mean the unemployment line for him as well. The Ohio St. Buckeyes were big fish in a mediocre pond and had their otherwise successful season torpedoed by ending with two losses.

 

I predicted 8 out of the 12 NFL playoff teams successfully…5 out of 6 in the AFC, 3 out of nfl-football6 in the NFC. I had the Denver Broncos beating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The 49ers didn’t make it, while the Broncos were pummeled by the Seattle Seahawks.

 

Speaking of the Seahawks…..

seattle-seahawks1One of their starting cornerbacks…the (by now) well-known Richard Sherman is 6ft.3. The other cornerback…Byron Maxwell…is 6ft.1. Strong safety Kam Chancellor  is 6ft.3. They are now Super Bowl Champions. The top 5 wide receivers in the NFL are (arguably) Calvin Johnson (6ft.5), Larry Fitzgerald (6ft.3), Dez Bryant (6ft.2), Brandon Marshall (6ft.4), & A.J. Green (6ft.4). So when the NFL draft rolls around and the talking heads start pimping cornerbacks that are 5ft. 8/5ft.9 fans need to collectively tell them to just shut up. If I were an NFL general manager I wouldn’t waste one second even evaluating a defensive back under 6 feet. It’s a new league. This ain’t your granddaddy’s NFL.

 

Huge kudos to the New York Jets. I predicted that they’d go 2-14, but instead they went Jets-Pin-Pro8-8 and were in the hunt for a playoff spot until the very end of the season. Ownership made the right call by giving head coach Rex Ryan a three year extension (after I predicted he might be fired by mid-season). More NFL teams (especially the idiotic Cleveland Browns) need to understand that consistency is a key to success and not be so quick to make changes just for the sake of change.

 

kc-chiefs-logoI predicted that the Kansas City Chiefs would be one of the most improved teams in the NFL. I was right but they far exceeded even my expectations, going 11-5 (I predicted 9-7). Can they continue that level of success in 2014?? Possibly.

 

My really really really early thoughts on Super Bowl contenders for next season:   lombardi           Seattle Seahawks (duh), Carolina Panthers (they are building a good team around QB Cam Newton), Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck will have them in the hunt for many years), Green Bay Packers (they’ll be back), & New England Patriots (Brady & Belichick aren’t finished just yet)

 

marsReaction to the Bruno Mars halftime show at the Super Bowl seems predictably mixed…women loved it, guys didn’t hate it but thought the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the best part. I believe that the NFL has purposely been trying to appeal more to women the past few years so none of this is surprising. Since the game was in Jersey the two obvious choices would have been Springsteen or Bon Jovi, but The Boss already did the halftime show about 6 years ago and someone mentioned to me that Jon Bon Jovi is negotiating to buy a stake in the Buffalo Bills so it would have been a conflict of interest. That’s too bad.

 

I’d be surprised if Peyton Manning actually retired, but this season felt like his last best Sad-Peyton-300x168chance to get another ring. He looked old, slow, & completely outmatched in the Super Bowl and has been duly noted by many folks the last couple of years he doesn’t seem to have much zip in his passes anymore. Next season the Bengals, Chiefs, & Colts could all be even better, the Patriots will still be around, and teams like the Steelers, Ravens, and Texans could rebound. Denver might have a tough time even making it to the playoffs.

 

One of the biggest winners after the Super Bowl?? QB Johnny Manziel. Russell Wilson is johnny-football-t15ft.11 & 210 lbs. In his second year he is a champion and probably should have won the game MVP award. The biggest knock on Johnny Football has been his size, but at 6ft.1 & 210lbs. (if we take all the listed measurements for both players at face value) he is about the same size as Wilson and just as mobile. Now I grant you that the biggest reason Wilson now has a ring is because of the stout defense of his team, but the point is that if Manziel could land on a really good team with a plethora of defensive talent he could have just as good of a shot at success as Wilson. Unfortunately for Johnny the Cleveland Browns…his likely landing spot…are not a good team.

 

One last note about the Seattle Seahawks…..

LYNCHI don’t want to be unnecessarily cruel, but what is the deal with RB Marshawn Lynch?? Is he just an antisocial jackass or does he have legitimate social anxiety??

 

I have no issue with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014…offensive tackle Walter pro-football-hallJones, defensive end Michael Strahan, linebacker Derrick Brooks, punter Ray Guy, wide receiver Andre Reed, cornerback Aeneas Williams, & defensive end Claude Humphrey. I am especially glad for Reed and Guy, both of whom have waited far too long for the honor. I was kind of disappointed that Williams got elected over former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, but I am confident that The Bus will receive the call in the next few years.

2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity – The Final Week

Okay, so first we have to clean up a little bit of business. Due to my own procrastination & indolence I completely forgot to actually write last week’s entry. I’d chosen the games. Zach had made his picks. But I got sidetracked with Christmas hustle & bustle and was left in a situation where the only option was to skip church to write the thing and that just wasn’t going to happen. You’re going to have to trust me here folks, which won’t be a problem when you see our less than stellar results. If I was going to lie to you I’d give us better numbers. The games we picked were Colts/Chiefs, Cardinals/Seahawks, Bears/Eagles, Patriots/Ravens, & Saints/Panthers.  Both Zach & I took Kansas City, Seattle, New England, & New Orleans. In the one game we differed he took the Chicago Bears and I took the Philadelphia Eagles. I ended up going 2-3, while Zach went 1-4. That makes our season records look like this:

                              

    Me =  41-45

   Zach = 37-48

That means that I have to be perfect this week to finish with a .500 record. Zach…well he’s playing for pride. Let me take this opportunity to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed doing these picks this season. It’s all in good fun and there is no money or anything else on the line. Thank God, since obviously we aren’t very good at this.

*****

Baltimore   at  Cincinnati (-6.5)

Baltimore has to win (I think) to secure a wild card berth. The Bengals have already sewn up the AFC North. Normally that’d give me pauseCincinnati_Bengals_Helmet since one team has something to play for and the other does not, but in this case my vibes are telling me that Cincy will want to establish a strong presence going into the playoffs. I don’t think they’ll take their foot of the gas against the Ravens. Zach concurs.

*****

San Francisco (-1) at  Arizona

The Cardinals have to win this game to sneak into the playoffs. The 49ers need the victory for a chance at a division title. The crowd in 10517112-san-francisco-49ersPhoenix will be rockin’, but I just don’t think they have enough to overcome the 49ers, who seem to be hitting their stride at the perfect time. Zach concurs.

*****

Kansas City at   San Diego (-10)

I’m a little bit stunned at the point spread. I realize that the Chargers have the home field and that they must win to get a wild card. kc-chiefs-logoConversely, the Chiefs playoff position isn’t going to change either way and there is a good chance that they will rest most of their starters. The spread is still too high though. Zach is picking Kansas City as well, although to be honest both of our picks are a wee bit of wishful thinking since we are Steelers fans and need the Chargers to lose.

*****

Green Bay (-3)  at   Chicago

QB Aaron Rodgers is back for the Packers and that’s enough for me as well as the oddsmakers. This will decide the NFC North (or as Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetESPN’s Chris Berman calls it The Norris Division), and despite losing 5 out of their last 8 games (and tying in another) Green Bay can…and will…win another division crown. Zach believes it’ll take some time for Rodgers to knock off the rust but that he’ll be fine by the 4th quarter when it really counts.

*****

Philadelphia (-6.5)  at    Dallas

Well…atleast we know Tony Romo won’t be throwing any late game interceptions. I am not sure who Romo’s absence hurts more…the eaglesCowboys or the Eagles. Kyle Orton is a capable backup, but unfortunately for him Dallas’ defense is still horrible. A few months ago no one thought Philly had a chance at division title. They’ll be hungry to prove the doubters wrong. Zach thinks the Eagles not only win but win big (by 24 points!!).

*****

 

2013 NCAA Bowl Previews & Predictions

Before we dive in headfirst there are a few ground rules that need to be reviewed and some things that need to be said once so that I don’t find myself repeating them a dozen times. First of all, these picks are completely separate from our Pigskin Picks of Profundity. You will see no point spreads here. There are just too many games to track down all that data and the total random nature of bowl games makes assessing such things total folly anyway even though I am sure the folks in Vegas will do their best. Secondly, I have some strong opinions when it comes to the entire bowl system. I think the BCS is a load of crap and I am glad it is going away. The 4 team playoff we’re getting next year is a positive change and I would not mind a bit if it eventually expanded to 6 or even 8 teams. There are way way way too many bowl games (35 counting the national title game), and I don’t think it’d be a bad thing to have an 8 team playoff and something like 25-30 bowl games. I do not believe that 6-6 teams should have their mediocrity awarded with a post-season game. My threshold for bowl eligibility would be 7 games, but unfortunately I do not make the rules. The world would be a better place if I did. I am not a fan of corporate bowl names or bowl games named after a particular location. If it were up to me the New Mexico, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Beef O’Brady’s, Russell Athletic, GoDaddy, & Capital One Bowls (just to name a few) would go away and games like the Cherry, Freedom, Gotham, Pineapple, Tangerine, & Copper Bowls would be revived. I would also like to see the bowl season wrapped up by New Year’s Day, with the only games played after being the national semifinals and the championship game. Having said all that the reality is what it is and as a football fan I will enjoy the next several weeks. There are probably atleast a dozen…possibly as many as 15…games out of these 35 that have the potential to be really entertaining, and I suppose that we can always hope that the others produce a higher level of amusement that we have a right to expect. As always I will remind you that I am not very good at this so please…if you must wager…don’t bet the farm based on anything you read here. Happy Holidays!!

 

 

 

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NMNew Mexico Bowl

Albuquerque, NM

12/21 at 2pm on ESPN

Washington St. (6-6) vs. Colorado St. (7-6)

I know absolutely nothing about either team so this is a total shot in the dark for me.

Me:        Washington St.

Zach:     Colorado St.

******************

Las Vegas Bowlvegas

Las Vegas, NV

12/21 at 3:30pm on ABC

Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)

Vegas baby…Vegas!! The Bulldogs have had a very nice season and fell just one game short of being a BCS buster. QB Derek Carr is being talked about as a potential 1st round pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, although one has to wonder whether or not he can have a more memorable career than his older brother David. I suppose it can’t possibly be less memorable. Meanwhile this isn’t exactly where the Trojans probably thought they’d end up when envisioning the season. Former head coach Lane Kiffin is long gone and interim head coach Ed Orgeron quit when he didn’t get the full time gig. I have no idea who is even coach them in this game. Largely due to that, and also because Fresno State is a legitimately good team I’m going to lean in that direction.

Me:        Fresno St.

Zach:     USC

*********************

Potato Bowltater

Boise, ID

12/21 at 5:30pm on ESPN

Buffalo(8-4) vs. San Diego St. (7-5)

Atleast this will be somewhat entertaining to watch on the blue turf in Boise.

Me:        San Diego St.

Zach:     San Diego St.

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New Orleans Bowlnawleans

New Orleans, LA

12/21 at 9pm on ESPN

Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-3)

I’m thinking it’d be a good idea to take the over on this one. I had Tulane in my pre-season Top 25 but they weren’t quite as good as I thought. I still like them here though.

Me:        Tulane

Zach:     Louisiana-Lafayette

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Beef O’Brady’s Bowlbeef-o-bradys22

Tampa, FL

12/23 at 2pm on ESPN

East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)

For anyone who is curious Beef O’Brady’s is a sports bar/restaurant franchise in the southeastern US. I have no idea if it’s any good because I’ve never seen one. As for this game it’s the MAC vs. C-USA and might actually end up being a rather fun game to watch. I’ve watched both teams play and the vibes are telling me that the Bobcats might be the slightly better team.

Me:        Ohio

Zach:     East Carolina

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Hawaii Bowlhawaii

Honolulu, HI

Christmas Eve at 8pm on ESPN

Boise St. (8-4) vs. Oregon St. (6-6)

Congratulations men…your mediocrity has been awarded with a trip to Hawaii for Christmas!! I have to believe these players are psyched for such an awesome trip. Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is now their former coach, as he finally…after years of rumors & flirtations…left the Broncos to be the new head man for the Washington Huskies. That means they’ll have an interim coach for this game. Meanwhile the Beavers are probably better than their record indicates but they do come into this game on a 5 game losing skid. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Oregon State to break that slide and get back on track.

Me:        Oregon St.

Zach:     Oregon St.

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Little Caesars BowlLittleCeasers1

Detroit, MI

12/26 at 6pm on ESPN

Pitt (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)

As opposed to the teams heading to island paradise these two teams are headed to Detroit. Fortunately the bowl game is privately funded since the city is bankrupt. I wonder if a crack pipe and some bath salts is part of the swag each team will receive?? Anyway, Bowling Green is a much much better team and I’ll be disappointed if they don’t win this game by three TDs.

Me:        Bowling Green

Zach:     Pitt

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Poinsettia Bowlpoinsettia

San Diego, CA

12/26 at 9:30pm on ESPN

Utah St. (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)

Utah State was defeated by Fresno State in the Mountain West title game, while Northern Illinois fell one win short of the BCS when they fell to Bowling Green in the MC title game. The Huskies are led by QB Jordan Lynch who placed 3rd in Heisman voting and that is good enough for me to pick Northern Illinois.

Me:        Northern Illinois

Zach:     Northern Illinois

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Military Bowlmilitary-officer-1

Annapolis, MD

12/27 at 2:30pm on ESPN

Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)

Full disclosure. I am a 1994 graduate of Marshall. I was there when QB Chad Pennington played his first game. I saw Randy Moss be a man amongst boys. I witnessed the 1992 1-AA National Championship firsthand. So I will not be picking against my Herd.

Me:        Marshall

Zach:     Marshall

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Texas Bowltexas

Houston, TX

12/27 at 6pm on ESPN

Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)

I give a lot of grief to Syracuse, but as I recall they pasted my WV Mountaineers in a bowl game last year so all bets are off and records don’t really matter during bowl season. All I know about Minnesota is that their head coach keeps having seizures on the sideline and really should resign. I suppose I’ll go with the Gophers.

Me:        Minnesota

Zach:     Minnesota

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Fight Hunger Bowlfighthunger

San Francisco, CA

12/27 at 9:30pm on ESPN

BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4)

I think this may be a sleeper game but I have to wonder how many people will actually be watching. Washington just lost their coach to USC so we have yet another interim situation for the bowl game. I’ve always liked BYU so I suppose I’ll go with the Cougars.

Me:        BYU

Zach:     BYU

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Pinstripe Bowljoel

Bronx, NY

12/28 at Noon on ESPN

Rutgers (6-6)  vs.  Notre Dame(8-4)

Notre Dame has really flown under the radar in 2013. I know that 8-4 isn’t considered a good season in South Bend, but a year after playing for the national championship and (I am assuming) losing a plethora of seniors I’d have to say they’ve had a solid year. The Scarlet Knights are preparing for their move to The Big Ten (which has 12 teams) next season and this game should be an indicator as to whether or not they are ready to compete on that level. I’m going to say that they are and will prove it here.

Me:        Rutgers

Zach:     Notre Dame

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Belk Bowlbelk

Charlotte, NC

12/28 at 3:20pm on ESPN

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6)

Cincinnati beat Duke in this game last season. I expect that they’ll handle the other Carolina team just as effortlessly.

Me:        Cincinnati

Zach:     North Carolina

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Russell Athletic Bowlrussell

Orlando, FL

12/28 at 6:45pm on ESPN

Miami, FL (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)

Louisville had much higher hopes coming into the year. It’s amazing what one loss will do to implode an entire season. Meanwhile it looks like The U is on the verge of being back. I think Louisville has the better quarterback…but Miami has the better overall team.

Me:        Miami, FL

Zach:     Miami, FL

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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowlwings

Tempe, AZ

12/28 at 10:15pm on ESPN

Michigan (7-5)  vs. Kansas State (7-5)

The Wolverines really lost their way in 2013. I thought they’d be a Top 10 team and obviously I was way wrong. K-St. has had a quietly solid season residing in the middle of the Big 12 (which has ten teams) pack. I’m not going to abandon Michigan now.

Me:        Michigan

Zach:     Michigan

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Armed Forces Bowlarmedforces

Fort Worth, TX

12/30 at 11:45am on ESPN

Middle Tennessee (8-4)  vs.  Navy (7-4)

So we have an Armed Forces Bowl AND a Military Bowl?? Seems excessive doesn’t it. As much as I’d love to go with The Academy here I believe that Middle Tennessee is more battle tested (ironic) against better competition and will prevail.

Me:        Middle Tennessee

Zach:     Middle Tennessee

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Music City Bowl

Nashville, TN

12/30 at 3:15pm on ESPNmusic

Ole Miss (7-5)  vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

I can pretty much assure y’all that I won’t be watching this game. It just doesn’t seem the least bit interesting to me. That being said I suppose I’ll go with the Rebels.

Me:        Ole Miss

Zach:     Georgia Tech

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Alamo Bowlalamo

San Antonio, TX

12/30 at 6:45pm on ESPN

Oregon (10-2)  vs. Texas (8-4)

This isn’t where the Ducks wanted to be playing. But after two late season losses at Stanford and Arizona they didn’t even make it to the Pac 12 title game. This will be the swan song for Texas coach Mack Brown who was gently persuaded to resign recently. Because of the emotion involved with that situation, the fact that Oregon might be suffering from a strong case of “Why should we give a damn about this stupid game??”-itis, and the fact that the game is being played less than two hours from the Texas campus I’m going to go with the underdogs.

Me:        Texas

Zach:     Oregon

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Holiday BowlDocHolliday

San Diego, CA

12/30 at 10:15pm on ESPN

Arizona St. (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

The Sun Devils made a decent run at a Pac 12 title but couldn’t overcome Stanford in the championship contest. Tech was a middle-of-the-road Big 12 team that is in the midst of a 5 game losing swoon. Clearly Arizona State is the better team, but I am expecting a high scoring close game.

Me:        Arizona St.

Zach:     Arizona St.

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Independence Bowlindependence

Shreveport, LA

New Year’s Eve at 12:30pm on ESPN

Arizona (7-5)  vs. Boston College (7-5)

I believe they are officially calling this game something else this year…something prosaic & corporate. But I am refusing to play along. Rich Fraudriguez has the Wildcats headed in the right direction, and they can take pride in the fact that they pulled off a huge November upset of Oregon. BC has one of the best running backs in college football even though no one had heard of him until about 2 weeks ago. I cannot bring myself to pull for the evil assclown that coaches Arizona so I am picking the Eagles to win yet another game that no one will watch because no one cares.

Me:        Boston College

Zach:     Arizona

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Sun Bowlsun

El Paso, TX

New Year’s Eve at 2pm on CBS

Virginia Tech (8-4)  vs.  UCLA (9-3)

I haven’t heard all that much about the Hokies this season although it seems like they had a solid season. The Bruins had hoped for a Pac 12 title but back-to-back midseason losses at Stanford and Oregon torpedoed those chances. I think UCLA plays against better competition in a better conference so that’s my pick.

Me:        UCLA

Zach:     UCLA

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Liberty Bowlliberty

Memphis, TN

New Year’s Eve at 4pm on ESPN

Rice (10-3)  vs. Mississippi St. (6-6)

Admittedly I have some residual bitterness after the Owls beat down my Marshall Thundering Herd in the C-USA title game. I just can’t bring myself to pick them. But I also believe that Mississippi St…as mediocre as they may be…has been battle tested in the SEC. Therefore I’m going with the Bulldogs.

Me:        Mississippi St.

Zach:     Rice

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Chick-Fil-A Bowlchickfila

Atlanta, GA

New Year’s Eve at 8pm on ESPN

Duke (10-3)  vs. Texas A&M (8-4)

This is the old Peach Bowl, but unlike most other corporate bowl games I actually like Chick-Fil-A so I’ll utilize the name. I think the Blue Devils’ record is probably a bit…bloated. The ACC is a rather pedestrian league with the exception of Florida State, who pummeled Duke by 5 TDs in the title game. We don’t know whether or not this will be the collegiate farewell for Aggies’ QB Johnny Manziel, but if it is one would have to think that he’d really like to go out in style.

Me:        Texas A&M

Zach:     Texas A&M

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Gator Bowlgator

Jacksonville, FL

New Year’s Day at Noon on ESPN2

Nebraska (8-4)  vs. Georgia (8-4)

If memory serves me correctly I believe these two met last year in a bowl game. I could look it up but does it really matter?? Both teams underachieved this season and will have to find motivation to end the season on a positive note. The Cornhuskers’ coach Bo Pelini is a brick or two or three shy of a load, and as entertaining as that is I can’t imagine that it is healthy for the team. The Bulldogs will be without quarterback Aaron Murray, whose senior campaign ended early with an ACL injury. I am expecting this game to be a low scoring defensive struggle with the Bulldogs coming out on top.

Me:        Georgia

Zach:     Georgia

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Heart of Dallas Bowlnap

Dallas, TX

New Year’s Day at Noon on ESPNU

UNLV (7-5)   vs.  North Texas (8-4)

Nothing proves the complete inconsequentiality of a bowl game then it being shown on ESPNU. I know nothing about these teams and doubt if I’ll watch this game at all. I guess I’ll go with UNLV.

Me:        UNLV

Zach:     UNLV

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Capital One BowlSamuel-L-Jackson-One-Million-Moms

Orlando, FL

New Year’s Day at 1pm on ABC

Wisconsin (9-3)  vs.  South Carolina (10-2)

Oh boy…a bowl game named after a credit card. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. However, despite the game’s unfortunate name it should actually be a fun battle to watch. Will South Carolina’s defensive wunderkind Jadeveon Clowney be able to stop the Badger running attack?? Can Steve Spurrier pull out enough big plays to overcome Wisconsin’s ground & pound attack?? The Vibes are telling me that Wisconsin’s three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust approach just might work.

Me:        Wisconsin

Zach:     South Carolina

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Outback Bowloutback

Tampa, FL

New Year’s Day at 1pm on ESPN

Iowa (8-4)  vs.  LSU (9-3)

Iowa is in a New Year’s Day bowl game?? I hadn’t noticed that they were that good. Meanwhile this is just about what most expected from LSU. They also will be without their starting quarterback as senior Zach Mettenberger due to a torn ACL. I think that tips the scales in Iowa’s favor.

Me:        Iowa

Zach:     Iowa

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Rose Bowlrose

Pasadena, CA

New Year’s Day at 5pm on ESPN

Stanford (11-2)  vs. Michigan State (12-1)

Okay now THIS is a game to look forward to. I am predicting that the winner of this game will secure for themselves a Top 5 ranking entering next season. The Spartans defense is tough and I think they’ll keep the scoring to a minimum, but at the end of the day I like Stanford to pull out a close one and take home their 2nd straight Rose Bowl trophy.

Me:        Stanford

Zach:     Michigan St.

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Fiesta Bowlmassacre

Glendale, AZ

New Year’s Day at 8:30pm on ESPN

Central Florida (11-1)    vs.  Baylor (11-1)

This is going to be ugly. I am having flashbacks to when Mike Tyson used to maul his opponents and get a knockout in the first round. Atleast we’ll all have the opportunity to go to bed early if we so choose. To my complete shock Zach is picking the upset.

Me:        Baylor

Zach:     UCF

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Sugar Bowlsugar

New Orleans, LA

1/2 at 8:30pm on ESPN

Oklahoma (10-2)   vs.  Alabama (11-1)

Everyone and their brother expected The Tide to be playing for another national title, but they were beaten by a miracle against Auburn. There’s been a lot of chatter lately about head coach Nick Saban bolting for Texas but he seems to have nipped that in the bud by agreeing to a contract extension. The Sooners have to be chomping at the bit knowing that they are probably better than their record shows and also salivating at the thought that Alabama is beatable…atleast in theory. I think this will be a fantastic game for 3+ quarters, but ‘Bama just has a little too much depth & talent for Oklahoma to overcome. Zach is not only predicting that the Tide will roll, but that they’ll win by 49 POINTS!!

Me:        Alabama

Zach:     Alabama

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Orange Bowlorange

Miami, FL

1/3 at 8:30pm on ESPN

Clemson (10-2)   vs.  Ohio St. (12-1)

Everyone kept saying that the Buckeyes were overrated and hadn’t played anybody. That was proven to be true in the Big Ten title game when they were handled by Michigan State. Clemson was beaten by #1 Florida State and in-state rival South Carolina…no shame in either of those losses. I just don’t have much faith in Ohio State’s defense. I think Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins will both come up huge in their final collegiate game and lead the Tigers to a double digit victory.

Me:        Clemson

Zach:     Clemson

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Cotton Bowlcotton

Arlington, TX

1/3 at 7:30pm on Fox

Oklahoma St. (10-2)  vs. Missouri (11-2)

This may as well be called the What Might Have Been Bowl. The Cowboys went into their final game against in-state rival Oklahoma with a chance to secure a conference title but fell short. The Tigers had an outside shot at a national championship spot before losing their conference title game. I look for this to be a high scoring affair with lots of big plays. It feels like it may even be an overtime kind of game. I’m picking Oklahoma State to pull off the victory by a field goal.

Me:        Oklahoma St.

Zach:     Oklahoma St.

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Compass Bowlcompass

Birmingham, AL

1/4 at 1pm on ESPN

Vanderbilt (8-4)  vs. Houston (8-4)

Shouldn’t two directional schools be playing in this game?? I doubt that many will be watching this one unless the first Saturday of the new year finds most of the country deep in snow & ice. Personally I think I’ll be at the local cineplex checking out a movie or two that I didn’t get to before Christmas. Anyway, I’m going with Houston because I have a sneaking suspicion that Vandy will be playing for an interim coach.

Me:        Houston

Zach:     Vanderbilt

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GoDaddy Bowlgodaddy

Mobile, AL

1/5 at 9pm on ESPN

Arkansas St. (7-5)  vs. Ball St. (10-2)

I hate this game. It’s horribly named, is played about two weeks later than it should be, and the matchup itself is about as unappealing as that time the fat detective showed his naked butt on NYPD Blue. Due to my affection for the MAC I’m going with Ball State.

Me:        Ball St.

Zach:     Ball St.

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National Championship Game

Pasadena, CA  –  1/6 at 8:30pm on ESPN

#1 Florida St. (13-0)   vs.  #2 Auburn (12-1)

champHere we go. This is the big one. As much as I detest the BCS and am looking forward to the 4 team playoff that begins next year I must say that more often than not the national title game ends up with an awesome matchup and this one is no exception. Auburn is proof positive that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. But one must be cautious if there is an inkling to write off the Tigers because they won two games…against Georgia and Alabama…that they really shouldn’t have. We also should not overlook the fact that as much as Ohio State got knocked for their weak schedule Florida State’s schedule is arguably less impressive. I think this might be the best national title game since Vince Young & Texas outdueled Reggie Bush & USC in 2006. Once again my heart is going to rule over my brain. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is a fellow native of Clarksburg, WV and graduated from the same high school as myself 6 years earlier. I can’t go against the hometown boy. Zach really likes Auburn’s offense.

Me:        Florida St.

Zach:     Auburn

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2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

Okay citizens, this is going to be another quick one. Your humble Potentate of Profundity has once again ran into some unfortunate computer issues and I have limited time in my secret Plan B bunker. In last week’s grand finale of college football’s regular season Zach 3-4 and I went 3-5, so our season records look like this:

                Zach       =             34-41

                Myself  =             38-38

From here on out we’ll be riding down the home stretch with the NFL where playoff berths and positioning will be the name of the game. It should be fun.

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New England (-1)             at            Miami

New_England_Patriots_HelmetThe Patriots are like a serial killer in a cheesy slasher flick…rumors of their demise are always greatly exaggerated. All the sudden they have aMiami_Dolphins_Helmet legit shot at being the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Meanwhile the Dolphins are clinging to a playoff spot like a Black Friday shopper who scored the first Xbox One but is now cornered by an angry mob of desperate mothers. In other words it doesn’t look promising. I’ll be cheering on Miami (because I truly loathe the Pats), but honestly the smart pick here is New England. Zach thinks the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski will have a negative impact on New England, plus he feels like the Dolphins will be extra motivated with a wild card berth on the line.

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NY Jets                  at            Carolina (-11)

I have to give the Jets credit. I predicted that they’d win 2 games and they’ve already won 6. QB Geno Smith, while still inconsistent, has performed far better Jets-Pin-Prothan I thought he would. I don’t think they’re going to make the playoffs but kudos are still in order for having a much better season than anyone ever dreamed they would. My prediction was also a bit off about the Panthers, whom I thought would be a .500 team at best but instead they are 9-4 and look to have a wild card spot locked down unless they completely flame out over the next few weeks. I’m rather uncomfortable with the double digit point spread so even though I think Carolina will win I’m going to pick the Jets. Zach is on the same wavelength.

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Green Bay           at            Dallas (-7)

Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see the Cowboys go down. However, Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers is still out with a collarbone injury so putting dallas-cowboys-dallas-cowboys-15496395-1280-1024one’s faith in backup Matt Flynn is a shaky proposition. Dallas’ defense is terrible but if the only thing they need to worry about is shutting down Green Bay’s rook RB Eddie Lacy that’ll make thinks a bit easier. If this game was being played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field I’d probably go with the underdog even considering the quarterback situation, but it’s being played at The Death Star in Big D so I’ll go with Dallas. Zach concurs.

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New Orleans (-6)              at            St. Louis

The Saints need a victory to maintain their division lead, plus they are still in contention for home field in the NFC playoffs. The Rams are a mess. I’d be 10_new_orleans_saintsshocked if New Orleans didn’t win easily. Zach agrees.

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Baltimore            at            Detroit (-6)

I predicted the Lions would go 7-9 and finish last in their division. Instead they are currently 7-6 and lead the division. This is the Monday night game this week Detroit_Lions_Helmetand it should be a dandy. Weather won’t be an issue inside the comfortable confines of Ford Field, and I think Calvin Johnson will have a big game. This isn’t a spot that Detroit is used to whereas it is par for the course for the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens who are in a battle for a playoff spot. I’m going to roll the dice on the Lions since they have the home field. Zach…like myself…has a strong dislike for the Ravens and refuses to pick them. He’s predicting a big game from Calvin Johnson as well.

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2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 14

It’s conference championship week in the NCAA. A couple of the games are virtually meaningless, a couple will decide who plays in a BCS bowl and who plays in a far less interesting (and less lucrative) bowl, and a couple of them will actually determine who plays for the national title. Not a bad weekend…although it’ll be hard to exceed the level of excitement of last week’s games. Speaking of which, I went 5-2, while Zach went 4-3. I’m so glad I rolled the dice on Auburn, although I certainly couldn’t have known it’d play out as it did. Kudos to Zach for picking UCLA and Missouri. Johnny Football really let me down. So for the season we stand thusly:

                Myself   =    35-33

                Zach    =     31-37

It’s the last ride for college football…after this everything will be NFL. We might do a bowl pick ‘em kind of deal, but for a variety of reasons it’ll be a simple win/lose thing with no point spreads and I won’t count the results toward the season record. Enjoy this final week feeding frenzy…I know I will.

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Oklahoma         at        Oklahoma St. (-10)

oklahoma_state_cowboys_iphone_wallpaperAs a WVU Mountaineer fan it blows my mind that our inept team is the one that singlehandedly eliminated Oklahoma State from national title consideration. Had oklahomathe Cowboys came into this game undefeated it seems likely that they could have conceivably been ranked ahead of Ohio State and Auburn. They have to be kicking themselves for not taking the lowly Eers seriously (I have an inside scoop that that was the case). Meanwhile the Sooners are likely locked into the Alamo Bowl win or lose. However, all the extracurriculars can be tossed out the window when it comes to these in-state rivalries. They call this one Bedlam and it’s actually grown into an entire series encompassing all the sports played by these two schools. There’s a point system and everything. At any rate this feels like the Cowboys year to dominate their more…decorated…counterparts, and I think they’ll cover the spread. Conversely, Zach…although he can’t quite go so far as to predict the outright upset…believes that the Sooners will raise the bar and make this a close game.

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Texas            at         Baylor (-15)

The Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game (neither do they have 12 teams) so these two games will decide the title. If Oklahoma St. wins their game they win the texasconference, but should they fall then the winner of this game would secure the BCS berth in the Fiesta Bowl. Just a few weeks ago I thought the Bears looked like a legitimate national championship contender, but after Oklahoma St. spanked them and then they barely defeated TCU I must admit I was wrong. That’s not to say that they aren’t a very very good team…but they can be beaten. Can the Longhorns achieve that goal?? It would certainly put a nice exclamation point on an odd season in which many thought head coach Mack Brown was about to be canned before winning 7 of the last 8 games. To me this looks like a point spread situation in which Baylor is likely to win but unlikely to cover the points. Zach concurs.

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Utah St.        at        Fresno St. (-3.5)

I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about the Mountain West Conference. I didn’t even know they had a title game. I do remember that Utah State won some fresnobowl game last year that I had given them no chance to win. However, one thing I do know is that I picked the Bulldogs 18th in my pre-season Top 25 and they’ll need to win to secure their spot in the final poll. I can’t abandon them now!! Zach agrees.

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Bowling Green       vs.     Northern Illinois (-3)

I really enjoy watching MAC football. I wish my Marshall Thundering Herd had never left the MAC. Sure their teams may not be as sexy as teams in the SEC or Pac 12, but niuit’s just like hitting on a fat gal…give ‘em a whirl because what they lack in natural skill they’ll make up for in effort. This game is being played in Detroit so I hope the conference doesn’t go bankrupt by association. Northern Illinois has a legitimate Heisman candidate in QB Jordan Lynch, who has amassed nearly 2500 yards passing, almost 1800 yards rushing, & 42 touchdowns this season. Compare that with Johnny Manziel’s 3500 passing yards, 650 rushing yards, & 40 touchdowns. Lynch won’t win the award but if he doesn’t atleast get invited to New York for the ceremony it’ll be a darn shame. Proper credit should be given to Bowling Green’s 9-3 record, but I just don’t see any way that the Falcons get the win here, especially since the Huskies have a decent shot at a BCS berth with a victory, likely in the Fiesta Bowl against the Big 12 champion. Zach isn’t as enamored with the MAC as I am but he is also picking Northern Illinois.

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Missouri          vs.        Auburn (-2)

Auburn pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory last weekend on what will likely be remembered as one of the most thrilling plays in college football history. Missouri_Tigers_HelmetMany folks are saying that they deserve to be #2 over Ohio State. The SEC champion has played in the last 7 national championship games, and it could be 8 if Auburn wins this one and Ohio State loses the Big Ten title game. But let’s not overlook Missouri. They have had a really solid season and would be serious national title contenders if it wasn’t for a double overtime loss to South Carolina. This game is being played on a neutral field at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. One must ponder whether it is a classic trap game for Auburn. Have they spent too much energy basking in the glow of the upset of Alabama while simultaneously arguing the case that they should be ahead of Ohio State?? I think that is entirely plausible and for that reason will predict the mild upset. Zach is still bummed about ‘Bama’s loss and thinks Auburn is more lucky than good. He also believes their luck runs out this week.

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Stanford        at         Arizona St. (-3)

Has the Pac 12 been really cool to watch this season or what?? Out of the 12 teams I think I have enjoyed games involving atleast 7 or 8. The Sun Devils get the requisite 3 Stanford-Logo-Treepoint home field advantage, but that’s really not showing them all that much respect. Stanford’s inexplicable loss to Utah and mid-November defeat at the hands of the surging USC Trojans has really come back to bite them. If even just one of those losses hadn’t occurred they might be…well…probably not much higher on the totem pole than they are I suppose. What those losses really did was knock them just far enough off the radar that a red hot Arizona St. has stolen all the thunder. I say Stanford gets their mojo back, heads to the Rose Bowl, and finishes the season as a Top 5 team. Zach went off on such a passionate tangent about Nick Saban and The Tide that he forgot to pick this game.

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Florida St. (-29.5)          vs.        Duke

Florida_State_SeminolesLook, I respect Duke for turning a perpetually blundering football program at a nationally renowned basketball school into a winner at long last. But if I amDuke_Blue_Devils being honest I don’t really have that high of a regard for the ACC. The Blue Devils beating Memphis, Troy, Navy, Virginia, & Wake Forest doesn’t impress me, and victories over Virginia Tech, NC State, North Carolina, & Miami barely move the scale. Meanwhile the Seminoles have steamrolled thru their schedule like Kirstie Alley in a donut shop. The only hesitation anyone has about Florida St. is whether or not freshman phenom QB Jameis Winston is actually a rapist. The hammer could fall on that situation in the next few weeks…most certainly ahead of the January 6th National Championship Game. However, there’ll be no legal stuff to impact this contest. Give me Florida State and the points. Shockingly Zach is picking Duke…not because he believes they’ll win but because he doesn’t like the huge point spread. Hey, atleast now I have a reason to pay some attention to this game. I won’t watch it but I’ll pay attention.

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Ohio St.(-5.5)         vs.       Michigan St.

Ohio_State_BuckeyesAnyone who watched Ohio State barely defeat the Michigan Wolverines last weekend knows that those who question the validity of the BuckeyesMichigan_State_Spartans presence in the national title game over Auburn have a reasonable point. Their defensive effort was more than lackluster. And while Braxton Miller has great feet and is undoubtedly an above average running QB his passing is a bit erratic. Michigan State has quietly had a solid 11-1 season with the only blemish being a mid-September loss at Notre Dame. This game is being played on a neutral field in Indianapolis. My vibe is that the Spartans have all the momentum while everyone has been waiting for weeks for the seemingly overrated Buckeyes to stumble. If Ohio State’s defense plays as poorly against the Spartans as they did against the inferior (atleast for this year) Wolverines then their national championship hopes will fade away. I think that is what a lot of folks are expecting. However, I just cannot imagine that a team that has won 24 straight games…even if they were largely against substandard competition…will allow themselves to fall short now when they are so close to the goal. It may not be the smart or popular pick but The Voices are telling me to stick with Ohio State. Zach seems to have some deep disdain for the Buckeyes and states that…and I quote…”Ohio St. doesn’t have a prayer. Michigan St. by 21.” Well okey dokey then.

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