Favorite Candy Bars…Part 1

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” –  Charles Schulz

 

On a lovely November day 17 years ago I moved into the apartment building in which I still reside. That night I discovered that downstairs, right beside the mailboxes, is a vending area consisting of a pop machine (as we say here in West Virginia) and another machine filled with various snacks of both the sweet & salty variety. I knew at that moment that I was in big trouble. Now I’m really not a huge fan of potato chips or pretzels, but I am most certainly a chocoholic, which Webster defines as “a person who craves or compulsively consumes chocolate”. My family knows this about me, to the point that last Christmas I received a five pound chocolate bar as a gift (it was gone within three days…and that was me pacing myself). In doing my usual lackadaisical research for this ode to candy I ran across articles like Struggles Only A Chocoholic Would Understand and Signs You’re A Chocoholic that describe me so accurately it’s a little disturbing. Alas, all good things must come to an end…or atleast be scaled back to a reasonable level. Bloodwork indicates that I am a pre-diabetic (shocker!!), and since I am not a fan of medication, needles, comas, or death I am attempting to eat a bit healthier (for the 700th time in my life). That doesn’t mean I’m giving up chocolate…just that perhaps, going forward, I’ll refrain from consuming five pounds of it in less than a week. At any rate, Willie Wonka once stated that “invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple”. I’m not sure about butterscotch ripple, but pondering peanuts, caramel, & nougat (whatever that is) has inspired me to dive into a discussion of my favorite candy bars. As you’ll see, I’m not a chocolate snob. I understand that there is high quality chocolate out there for sophisticated palates, but for me most of that stuff isn’t really…accessible. I have nothing against Godiva or Ghirardelli or anything with a fancy European name, but I’m a simple guy who’s just fine eating whatever candy is available at the grocery store, movie theater, ballpark, or arena concession stand. As always I’d love some feedback. What’s your favorite candy?? What do you think is missing here?? Let me know your sweet thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

25     Zero / Payday

Not only do we start out with a tie, but we begin with two non-chocolate candy bars. Sometimes one just craves something off the beaten path, right?? Zero bars were conceived in Minnesota in 1920. The name is supposed to be indicative of it being cool…as in really cold cool, not jazz or Rat Pack cool. I guess it was a Minnesota thing…it’s not like the candy is frozen or anything. At any rate, like so many candy bars we buy today Zero, thru a series of mergers, buyouts, & takeovers, eventually became a product owned & produced by one of three chocolate giants…in this case Hershey. The candy bar itself consists of caramel, peanuts, & almond nougat covered in white chocolate. Nougat is officially defined as “candy made from sugar or honey, nuts, & egg whites”. It’s a broad definition, and not all nougat is created equally. The almondy nougat in Zero is…different, which of course is exactly why one picks up a Zero bar in the first place. The other defining characteristic is the white chocolate, which, as all chocoholics know, isn’t actually chocolate at all. Whereas chocolate is made with a mixture of cocoa solids (from ground cacao bean powder) & cocoa butter, white chocolate is made without any cocoa powder or solids, just cocoa butter mixed with milk & sugar. I’m not typically a fan of white chocolate. It just tastes a bit…off…to me, and it’s not aesthetically pleasing. However, it does help make Zero a unique alternative. Payday has been around since the 1930’s and is also a Hershey product after following a very similar path to Zero. Payday consists of a firm, chewy nougat center covered in caramel & salted peanuts. Salty & sweet are flavors that can go well together, and the balance of nuts & caramel is perfect in a Payday. I suppose it’s forbidden to those suffering from a peanut allergy, but for the rest of us it’s a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth when you’re just not in the mood for chocolate.

 

 

24     Baby Ruth

Depending on which story one believes, Baby Ruth is either named after a candymaker’s granddaughter, the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, or the Hall-of-Fame baseball slugger (with the President Cleveland story contrived to avoid paying The Babe royalties). Who knows?? It’s a fun debate. The candy itself, first produced in 1921, is now owned & produced by one of the other chocolate conglomerates…Nestle. It consists of peanuts, caramel, & chocolate nougat covered in chocolate. The bar is visually unappealing for reasons I won’t detail, but…well, you know. Baby Ruth has never seemed, to me, to be all that commonplace. I suppose it’s there, we just don’t pay it as much attention as we do some other choices, probably because the ingredients & flavors are so familiar but done slightly better in other candy bars. It’s a nice occasional change of pace though.

 

 

23     Dove

Silky. That’s the word I associate with Dove. The history of the brand is rather curious, originating as an ice cream bar in Chicago in the late 1950’s, long before the candy was invented. Today it is owned by the third multinational chocolate corporation…Mars. There are still ice cream bars, as well as chocolate milk, hot cocoa mix, & cakes, but we’re here to talk about candy. Several varieties…dark, caramel, peppermint, etc….are produced, but I like to keep it simple, so I love the milk chocolate and sometimes the dark. More often than not one sees bags of little bite-sized individual chocolates in the store, which is great for those who are trying to diet but just can’t resist cheating every once in a while. You can have a couple of pieces of Dove and not feel all that guilty. I like to unwrap some Dove chocolates and throw them into a container with nuts & dried fruit for a tasty trail mix. It’s an excellent way to consume dark chocolate, which is far healthier than milk chocolate. As mentioned, the flavor of Dove chocolate is smooth…rich yet subtle. It is definitely an underappreciated brand.

 

 

22     Krackel

Milk chocolate & Rice Krispies…a simple yet fantastic combination. Krackel was first introduced by Hershey in 1938. Interestingly, from 1997 to 2014 regular sized Krackel bars were not available. The only way one could get your fix during that time was by buying a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures, with Krackel being one of four chocolate varieties in the pack. That is probably how most folks are familiar with the brand. If you’re going to be a Krackhead this is the way to go.

 

 

21     Butterfinger

There are four candy bars out there that have a really similar formula…a crunchy peanut butter center covered in chocolate. You won’t be seeing Zagnut or Clark bars in this countdown because…well…that’s just how I roll, but Butterfinger does make the cut. It was created in 1923 and has been owned by Nestle since 1990. I’ll give Butterfinger credit…one doesn’t feel cheated when buying the huge bar. It’s a good sized piece of candy. Butterfinger is aptly named, as the filling does have a buttery taste. My only complaint is that it can be a little dry. Still, it’s a great way to satisfy a peanut butter craving, and there’s something so…pleasurable…about eating anything with a bit of crunch. In the 1990’s television’s Bart Simpson became a memorable spokesman for the candy, which probably did a lot to increase its pop culture cool factor. More recently Nestle has introduced Butterfinger Cups, which have less crunch than the candy bar but more crunch than a famous competitor that we’ll get to later. The chocolate in Butterfinger Cups tastes a little smoother than the candy bar, and that’s a good thing. If you haven’t tried Butterfinger Cups I’d highly recommend giving them a whirl.

 

 

20     Mr. Goodbar

You may be vaguely familiar with a 1977 film called Looking for Mr. Goodbar, a gritty drama about a promiscuous teacher who is eventually murdered, starring Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, & Tom Berenger. Well, the candy bar came way way way before the movie. It was first produced in 1925 by Hershey. The concept is, once again, uncomplicated…milk chocolate & peanuts. A couple of decades ago they added even more peanuts, and it was a fantastic change. Like Krackel, you are probably most familiar with Mr. Goodbar as part of the Hershey’s Miniatures pack that is really popular at Halloween and, for some reason, in jars alongside the cash register at restaurants, right there with the toothpicks.

 

 

19     Snickers

You might be surprised to see Snickers this low in the countdown. While I like it just fine, I have to admit I’m not as in love with it as most seem to be. Unlike many of its competitors, Snickers is far from simple. There’s a lot going on in that candy bar…chocolate, peanuts, caramel, nougat. It was first produced in 1930 and is owned by Mars, who named the candy after a beloved family owned horse. The marketing folks deserve a tip of the cap because Snickers ad campaigns have always been fun &…durable. I’m not sure, from a nutritional & scientific perspective, if Snickers “really satisfies” any more than other candy bars, but I’ll be darned if they haven’t done a fine job of convincing the masses of its power to do so.

 

 

18     Caramello

Caramel is an interesting candy ingredient. It seems to come in two distinct forms…firm & chewy or soft & gooey. I prefer soft & gooey. I don’t think eating a chocolate bar should involve work, so I’m not a fan of candies like Rolo or Tootsie Rolls that involve lots of chewing. I save that effort for meat. At any rate, Caramello is produced in the United States by Hershey thru an agreement with British confectioner Cadbury, which created the product in the late 1960’s. I love how the chocolate is in sections, each with a pocket of ooey gooey caramel. Theoretically allows a person to eat just a bite and either share with others or save the remaining sections for later, but that’s not how I roll. Caramello doesn’t seem to be as…ubiquitous…as other candy bars, which just increases its appeal.

 

 

17     M&M’s

Yes, technically M&M’s aren’t a candy bar, but really…how could I leave it off the list?? The origin of the name can be a little confusing, but stick with me. Forrest Mars Sr. was the eldest son of company founder Frank Mars. Forrest & Frank had a falling out, with the son going out on his own and doing quite well. After working for competitor Nestle for a bit Forrest went the independent route and created a couple of candy bars that we’ll get to later, as well as Pedigree pet food & Uncle Ben’s Rice. During the Spanish Civil War (ol’ Forrest got around) he was inspired by soldiers that were eating Smarties, candy with a hard shell which prevented the chocolate from melting. Upon his return to America Forrest went into a partnership with Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey President William Murrie, because chocolate was being rationed during World War II. So that’s where the M&M comes from…Mars & Murrie. Eventually Forrest reunited with his father, bought out Murrie’s stake, and M&M’s became property of Mars. Today there are multiple varieties of M&M’s…peanut butter, crispy rice, dark chocolate, pretzel. However, I pretty much stick to the original and M&M’s Peanut, which is my favorite. There is a place in Vegas called M&M’s World, and if/when I make my long awaited trek out west it is one of the places I plan on visiting.

 

 

16     Hershey’s Kisses

Sometimes one just needs just a bite of chocolate…a small piece of nirvana to make it thru until lunch or quitting time or to get over whatever hump might be in front of you. Kisses are a perfect way to indulge a sweet tooth without spoiling dinner. First produced in 1907, it is said that the sound of the machine depositing the small teardrops of tastiness onto a conveyor belt inspired the name. I’m a sucker for any candy or other food product in a shiny foil wrapper, an inclination that I am sure a psychologist could explain (and enlightenment I’d love to hear). At any rate, a wide variety of Kisses with flavors ranging from cookies & crème to pumpkin spice are made today at different points thru the year, but I’m a traditionalist so I prefer the original milk chocolate, although dark chocolate & milk chocolate with almonds are delicious as well.

 

 

15     Mars (Snickers Almond)

Well, I guess I don’t have to mention which company makes this one. But, I do need to make a clarification. There were two different versions of the Mars bar…one made in the United States and one produced internationally. The international Mars bar still consists of nougat & caramel covered in milk chocolate. If that sounds familiar it is because another candy bar in America is essentially the same thing, but we’ll talk about it later. Remember the falling out I mentioned between Frank Mars & his son Forrest?? Well, that’s part of this story, as the Mars bar is basically Forrest, during his travels, copying in England a product his father was already producing in America. So when the two men reconciled a different Mars bar was made for this country, with nougat & almonds covered in milk chocolate. It’s hard to explain (although you’ll totally understand if you’ve eaten one), but the nougat in the American Mars bar is different. It’s lighter, both in color & texture, and I really like it. It’s…fluffy. To add to the confusion, in 2002 the American Mars bar was discontinued, or rather rebranded, as Snickers Almond. A Snickers Almond is the same as the old American Mars bar except it also has caramel. The Snickers Almond, in my opinion, is superior to original Snickers because almonds are better and less…intrusive…than peanuts, and of course because the lighter, fluffier nougat is awesome.

 

 

 

This seems like a good place to take a break. Stay tuned for the delicious conclusion!!

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 6.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

Yep…..

 

 

 

Religion is a curious thing. I think we are all well aware of our own shortcomings as well as the flaws of others when it comes to living a sinless life, but I also think many of us oftentimes have the misguided notion that  people of a professed faith…Christianity especially…all believe in the same basic principles, whether they live up to the ideal standards or not. However, that is not the case. This isn’t necessarily a shock when it comes to certain social issues. You’ll find Christians on both sides of the debate when it comes to topics like abortion, gun control, euthanasia, & the death penalty. What I find surprising are “Christians” who don’t believe in the Holy Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, the unerring Word of God, or the divinity of Jesus Christ. Oh sure, you’ll find lots of folks all around the world that believe that Jesus was simply a wise prophet…sage, yet very human. But most of those people don’t call themselves Christians!! I can’t wrap my head around the concept of an alleged Christian not believing in the very ideas that define the faith. It’s like someone with no discernible talent calling themselves a singer just because it sounds cool. Of course we live in a society these days where even something as indisputable as gender can now be left to an individual to decide based on how they feel rather than what the scientific facts actually are, so I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that anyone can call themselves a Christian despite not even believing in the bedrock foundations of Christianity. Such “believers” are quick to point out rampant hypocrisy within the church…divorce, addiction, racism, fornication…and they aren’t wrong. Temptation is inescapable and too often we fall prey to immoral instincts. However, is it any less hypocritical to “self-identify” as a Christian while casting aspersions on Christ’s virgin birth or a large chunk of The Bible?? Obviously in a free society individuals are permitted to believe or doubt whatever they choose, and that’s fantastic. I am simply suggesting a little more truth in advertising. If you can’t or won’t buy into the essence of what Christianity is then maybe you should find a more accurate way of describing who you are and what you actually believe in.

 

 

 

Well…it’s true!! 🙂

I’m not sure there’s anything much prettier than a woman in a sun dress.

Insights into my current mindset…..

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just finished celebrating Easter, but let me add a post-holiday thought. Since it is one of the two most important days of the year for Christians I find it a bit odd that the date of this annual “moveable feast” is decided in a rather pagan way. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21st. In other words, which Sunday we have Easter is determined by…moon phases. And yes, I am aware of some of the pagan related symbolism of Christmas, including late December originally being associated with the Roman festival Saturnalia (Jesus was most likely born in springtime). But atleast it has a fixed date, which is nice. Easter has its share of non-Christian symbolism (sorry Easter Bunny & Cadbury Crème Egg fans), but having the date revolve around the phases of the moon is just…odd. Suggestions for a fixed date (because we don’t know exactly when Jesus was resurrected either) have been made by various legislative bodies across the world, but nothing has ever been changed. Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t a dealbreaker. I love Easter (aka Resurrection Day) and celebrate it appropriately…I’m just thinking out loud.

 

 

 

Good information…..

Winning & Musing…..Volume 2.17

We made it sports fans!! We survived the post-Super Bowl darkness and spring has arrived with a plethora of awesomeness being spoon fed to us as we slumber on our couches or other favorite furniture. It’s always great to be a fan, but these last couple of weeks have been…as always…a high point on the calendar. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the North Carolina Tar Heels, winners of their 7th national championship, three of those coming under the leadership of current head coach Roy Williams. I can’t honestly say I watched a lot of the title game. It was Monday night…the night after Wrestlemania…and wrestling is a priority at The Bachelor Palace. I checked out emotionally after my WV Mountaineers were defeated by Gonzaga, which is also the reason why, despite almost always being a guy who cheers on the underdog, I was pulling for UNC.

 

 

 

I didn’t get to watch as much of The Masters as I’d prefer because my work schedule pretty much wrecks every weekend, but congratulations to Sergio Garcia for finally fulfilling his potential. I would have much rather seen my man Phil Mickelson or even Jordan Spieth in contention on Sunday, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

 

 

 

So I guess the NHL playoffs have begun. I suppose they do those things. Someone call me if/when the Pittsburgh Penguins make it back to the Stanley Cup finals. Until then I’ll be reading a book or watching Big Bang Theory reruns.

 

 

 

A melancholy farewell to Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Everybody fondly recalls his father Art, aka The Chief, but the truth is that Dan had been a guiding force for the team as far back as the late 1960’s. I’m not sure what the future holds for my Steelers. The Rooney family only owns about 30% of the team, and a large part of the family has walked away from football, choosing to make money in horse racing & gambling instead. I hope we don’t see the day that the primary ownership is not in Rooney hands, but that may very well happen in the future.

 

 

 

Is there a bigger tool in the universe than this clown Lamar Ball?? He’s made himself the story, which is sad for his kids. Even other helicopter parents are ashamed. His oldest son will be leaving UCLA early (we’ll see how that works out), and if I’m Bruins’ head coach Steve Alford I might consider pulling the scholarship offers for the two younger brothers. No amount of talent is worth the embarrassment & aggravation that the father brings to the table.

 

 

 

The NBA playoffs are about to begin, so I suppose now I’ll start paying attention. For now though, allow me to opine that a favorite debate amongst the talking heads…the subject of NBA teams “resting” players…is asinine. Both sides have their salient points, but I don’t ever remember this even being a topic of discussion until the last few years, so I assume it is a fairly new strategy. Should a grown man…a professional athlete…be in good enough condition to play each & every game unless he is injured?? Theoretically…yes. However, I despise the argument that these players & teams somehow owe the paying fans the pleasure of seeing them play. First of all, it’s a team sport. You should being cheering for the Cleveland Cavaliers…not LeBron James. Or the Golden State Warriors…not Steph Curry. Now I’m not naïve…I know that, in reality, it doesn’t work that way. The NBA has spent decades marketing individual stars…Magic, Bird, Dr. J, Jordan, Barkley, Kobe, Shaq…over teams. I’ve never liked it, and now I think it’s funny that the strategery is biting them in the ass. Secondly, while I am well aware of the business aspects of the situation, the bottom line is that the goal is to win a championship. If a coach believes that sitting some of his superstars for a few meaningless regular season games so that they’ll be healthier for the playoffs is a good idea then that is his right to do so, and Joe Sixpack in Milwaukee or Sacramento or Philadelphia or Orlando has nothing to do with it…nor should he. One thing the NBA could do is restructure the season. While I think ideas being tossed around about cutting the number of games in half are stupid, I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to scale back to 75 regular season games (from 82) and schedule back-to-back or even three game series (like baseball already does) during the season to minimize travel. I’d also revamp the post-season. Six teams from each conference make the playoffs (down from the current eight). Perhaps a first round bye for a couple of teams, or maybe even a second round bye for whichever of three teams wins their first series the quickest. Make first round series three games, and the other rounds five games. Only the NBA Finals would be seven games. I know that’s all crazy talk. The owners aren’t going to sacrifice revenue. I’m just thinking out loud.

 

 

 

I’m getting jazzed for the upcoming NFL Draft. It’s a source of much amusement to watch the weeks leading up to the draft, when all the suits & the talking heads go into paralysis by analysis mode and overthink everything. None of the available quarterbacks are worth a first round pick, but you can be sure that a few of them will get chosen in the first round. A guy like Deshaun Watson, who won a national championship, is being downplayed, while freakin’ Mitch Trubisky, who led his team to a loss in the Sun Bowl, is apparently the next John Elway. Dalvin Cook…the best running back in the draft…is “free falling down draft boards”. Leonard Fournette is either the next Adrian Peterson or the next Ki-Jana Carter, depending on who you believe. It’s all quite silly, but I can’t wait until the actual event. I hate that they’ve stretched it out to three days now, but it is what it is.

 

 

 

As of this moment my Pittsburgh Pirates are 3-6 and at the bottom of their division. I’ll give the season another couple of dozen games before I start to panic. I must admit that I haven’t watched even one pitch of a Pirates game thus far. The past few weeks have been rather busy in The Manoverse and more urgent matters have taken up my time, but I foresee a lull in the chaos after Easter, so I’ll be sure to check out my Buccos…or do I want to subject myself to the frustration?? Ehhh…who am I kidding?? The Pirates have been a source of exasperation for atleast half of my life. I’m a glutton for punishment.

2017 NFL Mock Draft

After doing my first ever mock draft(s) back in 2014 and then trying again the following season I took last year off. I was recovering from surgery and just had too much occupying my mind. But we’re back baby!! I’m doing something a little different this time, a decision that is contrary to what typically defines me as a fan. My fantasy football buddies know that I love to tinker. Wheelin’ & dealin’ is a huge part of the fun for me. However, in putting together this mock draft I’ve decided not to do any imaginary trades. The only trades reflected here are the ones that have already been made in reality. I expect that there will be some deals done during the actual draft, but eliminating such speculation here concurrently simplifies the process while challenging my inner nature. The pool of prospects is deep this time so we’re doing a three round mock. My methodology is a hybrid of what I believe is likely to happen mixed with my own take on what teams should actually do. As always I have no inside knowledge about salary cap issues, contract negotiations, & what players may or may not do or where they may go in the future. The NFL Draft is educated randomness, but I’ll be darned if it’s not a lot of fun.

 

 

 

Round 1

 

1       Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M

No one believes that there’s a quarterback in this draft worth the #1 overall pick, and the Browns are understandably a little gun shy given their poor quarterback track record in the past couple of decades. Ideally they’d trade out of this spot, but usually the only teams looking to move up this far are looking for a franchise signal caller, and that’s not going to happen. So Cleveland is likely to utilize the “best player available” strategy, and Garrett is the clear cut best player in the draft, a guy I’ve seen compared to recently retired Broncos LB/DE Demarcus Ware. If Garrett really is that good he’s certainly worth the top choice.

 

2       San Francisco 49ers

Reuben Foster – LB – Alabama

Don’t be surprised if ‘Frisco trades down out of this spot. I think it’s still too early for a quarterback, and even if they do draft one at some point it’s likely that Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley will be starting most of the 2017 season. Better to address other needs with this choice, and Foster is a safe pick.

 

3       Chicago Bears

Malik Hooker – S – Ohio St.

Jay Cutler isn’t going to be behind center in Chicago this season. That job will be held by Mike Glennon, formerly of the Buccaneers. He’s probably not a long term solution, but he is good enough for the Bears not to reach for a quarterback with this selection. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey has bolted for Philadelphia, but with Eddie Royal, free agent arrivals Kendall Wright & Markus Wheaton, and 2015 first round pick Kevin White (finally healthy after two different leg injuries) receiver isn’t a need. Hooker is an immediate upgrade at safety.

 

4       Jacksonville Jaguars

Jonathan Allen – DT – Alabama

Calais Campbell was signed away from the Cardinals in free agency, and I think this addition would make the Jags’ defensive line quite formidable.

 

5       Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Corey Davis – WR – Western Michigan

Tennessee has this pick as a result of a trade wherein the Rams moved up to the #1 overall slot to pick QB Jared Goff in 2016. Quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn’t have a top notch receiver to throw to on the current roster, so Davis seems like a logical choice.

 

6       New York Jets

Haason Reddick – LB – Temple

The Jets have whiffed on quarterbacks Geno Smith and…probably…Christian Hackenburg & Bryce Petty, although the jury is still out on those two. Josh McNown is the likely starter in 2017. The question is…is that okay?? Might they still sign a free agent signal caller or make a trade?? Either way, they should be about as hesitant as the Browns to roll the dice this early on a quarterback. Signing Morris Claiborne away from the Cowboys probably negates the need to choose a cornerback in this spot.  Reddick has been steadily moving up most draft boards, and he fulfills a need.

 

7       Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams – WR – Clemson

It still seems odd to say that…the LA Chargers. Although younger fans might not be aware that the Chargers originated in the old AFL in 1960 in Los Angeles before relocating to San Diego a year later. At any rate, this could be an interesting spot to take a quarterback and let him learn for a year or two behind Philip Rivers, who is 35 years old and known to not be a big fan of the move to Los Angeles. However, I don’t think they’ll pull the trigger just yet. Free agent Russell Okung moves down from Seattle to plug a massive hole at tackle, so there’s no need to reach for that position. Instead, Williams gives Rivers another weapon to go along with receiver Keenan Allen, RB Melvin Gordon, and tight ends Antonio Gates & Hunter Henry.

 

8       Carolina Panthers

Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida St.

Free agent Julius Peppers bolted Green Bay for the warmer climate of Carolina, so that fulfills a need on the defensive line. Matt Khalil has left Minnesota to join his brother Ryan on Carolina’s offensive line, which takes care of that issue. Are the Panthers comfortable with 30 year old Jonathan Stewart leading the rushing attack, backed up by Fozzy Whitaker & Cameron Payne?? Well, if necessary I am sure they’d live with it…but it’s not necessary. Cook is probably the most well-rounded running back in the draft, and I think he gets the nod.

 

9       Cincinnati Bengals

Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford

Many pundits have Thomas as the second best prospect in the draft, so if he’s available at this point the Bengals will sprint to the stage to make the pick. He has been compared to Rams’ end Aaron Donald, and if he lives up to that evaluation Cincinnati will be quite happy with the choice for the next decade.

 

10     Buffalo Bills

Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio St.

The Bills lost cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency, so why not replace him with this pick?? Lattimore might even be an upgrade.

 

11     New Orleans Saints

Ryan Ramczyk – OT – Wisconsin

The Saints might consider replacing receiver Brandin Cooks, who they traded to New England. I think they’ll do that…just not yet. It is entirely possible that the Saints try to trade down…or even trade up…because this is a tough spot. With Lattimore already off the board cornerback is a reach here. My philosophy?? When in doubt upgrade the offensive line.

 

12     Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson

The Browns improved the defense with the top pick, and now I think they have to grab a quarterback. None of the best prospects are ready to walk right onto an NFL field as a starter, but Cleveland is still rebuilding anyway so they can be patient. Of the choices that have been deemed first round worthy I like Watson the best. He’s a winner. From my limited fan perspective it seems like he’s got the intangibles that separate the wheat from the chaff at this level. If he’s a bust…well, it wouldn’t be Cleveland’s first rodeo, right?? But if he lives up to his potential the sky may be the limit.

 

13     Arizona Cardinals

Malik McDowell – DT – Michigan St.

This is another tough spot. Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger and he’s battled injuries a lot, which have derailed the Cardinals’ momentum. They went from 13-3 in 2015 to just 7-8-1 last season. Defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson, & linebacker Kevin Minter all left via free agency, although linebacker Karlos Dansby returns to Arizona after wandering in the football desert of Ohio the past few seasons, and Jarvis Jones, a former first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, adds additional depth to that linebacker group. McDowell is a reach, but a replacement for Campbell is necessary. I think they can get a quarterback in the second round.

 

14     Philadelphia Eagles

Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU

Running back Wendell Smallwood from my West Virginia Mountaineers is on my dynasty league team, so this choice would sadden me a bit. However, my vibe is that Smallwood isn’t viewed as a top notch lead runner, while Fournette is a generational talent that some have compared to Adrian Peterson. Only his injury history has caused him to drop this far, otherwise he’d be a Top 5 pick.

 

15     Indianapolis Colts

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Stanford

No one would be more upset to see the Eagles take Fournette than the folks in Indy, where starting RB Frank Gore is 147 years old. They’ve done a lot to fix their defense in free agency, so I think offense is the priority here. I don’t believe there is a lineman worthy of this spot. That leaves McCaffrey, who I envision as a swiss army knife hybrid RB/WR who can be special in the right system. Hopefully head coach Chuck Pagano & offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski will know how to maximize his skills.

 

16     Baltimore Ravens

Jamal Adams – S – LSU

The Ravens will sprint to the podium with this selection. Adams can partner with free agent acquisition Tony Jefferson to make a formidable combo in the defensive backfield.

 

17     Washington Redskins

Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee

Ideally the Redskins would trade out of this slot. Aside from that possibility, I have to think that upgrading the defense is a priority.

 

18     Tennessee Titans

Zach Cunningham – LB – Vanderbilt

With their first choice in this round Tennessee added a potent weapon on offense, so I think this pick has to be defense. They’ve added some pieces in free agency, but more needs to be done. One would assume that since Cunningham played college ball right there in Nashville the Titans are likely familiar with his work.

 

19     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard –TE – Alabama

The Bucs added receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency, and along with Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, & running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims they provide QB Jameis Winston with a pretty good arsenal. The one thing missing?? An elite tight end. So I think it is a reasonable upgrade that’d make the Bucs’ offense quite intimidating.

 

20     Denver Broncos

Forrest Lamp – G – Western Kentucky

The quarterback competition in Denver looks to be between Paxton Lynch & Trevor Siemian. They’ll both be disappointed if Howard is already off the board, because a good tight end is a QB’s best friend. So, where is the value here?? They could still choose a tight end, but I think it is more likely that they’ll reach for a solid offensive lineman to protect whichever young signal caller wins the job.

 

21     Detroit Lions

Jabrill Peppers – S – Michigan

There are still plenty of great defenders available, so this pick just depends on who the powers-that-be in the Motor City prefer. I like Peppers in this spot. No one knows quite where he fits in the NFL. He’s too small to play linebacker, so safety is probably the best option. Can he be the second coming of Troy Polamalu?? I think it’s possible.

 

22     Miami Dolphins

Taco Charlton – DE – Michigan

The Dolphins are really building something with potential. This might be a good spot for a team to trade up to if they’re looking for a quarterback. If that doesn’t happen though Charlton could be a nice addition to the pass rush.

 

23     New York Giants

David Njoku – TE – Miami (FL)

The Giants have had an interesting off season, adding receiver Brandon Marshall to the offense and Geno Smith as the quarterback of the future. Okay, I’m kidding about that second part. Maybe. Who knows?? Anyway, since there isn’t good value at running back here (and I think Paul Perkins should be given a fair chance at succeeding) the focus might be on defense. Or will it?? The Giants have a solid history of good tight ends, from Mark Bavaro in the 80’s to Howard Cross in the 90’s to Jeremy Shockey a decade ago. Njoku would be a significant upgrade at the position and give an aging Eli Manning another weapon in the chase for a third Super Bowl ring.

 

24     Oakland Raiders

Marlon Humphrey – CB – Alabama

Will the Raiders sign running back Adrian Peterson?? And if they do, is that enough?? I’d hate to rely on a 32 year old tailback whose legs could abandon him at any minute. Can they trust DeAndre Washington with the job?? Those are all questions that don’t currently have an answer, and the point is moot anyway because I don’t think there’s another first round talent at running back. The Raiders will focus on improving an already stellar defense, and Humphrey should be a starter from Day 1. He’s the fourth Alabama alum off the board in this round, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

 

25     Houston Texans

Mitch Trubisky – QB – North Carolina

I was convinced that Tony Romo would be the quarterback for the Texans in 2017, but to the surprise of many that’s not happening, which is unfortunate because Houston is just a quarterback away from being a legit Super Bowl contender. I don’t know what they do for the immediate future, but with this pick they must think long term. Trubisky is a nice fit. It would have been advantageous for him to sit & learn for a year or two behind Romo…instead he might be warming the bench while Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick try to lead the team to The Promised Land.

 

26     Seattle Seahawks

Fabian Moreau – CB – UCLA

I like the fact that the Seahawks added former #2 overall pick Luke Joeckel to their offensive line and former Packer Eddie Lacy to a running back mix that also includes Thomas Rawls & CJ Prosise. Moreau is a piece that might actually re-legitimize the Legion of Boom.

 

27     Kansas City Chiefs

Caleb Brantley – DT – Florida

The Chiefs are the real deal, but they’re also in a really tough division. They lost defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency, so they’ll be looking for a replacement. Brantley might be somewhat of a reach, but he fills a need.

 

28     Dallas Cowboys

Obi Melifonwu – S – Connecticut

It seems like the Cowboys lost their entire defense in free agency. Defensive backs Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, & Brandon Carr all bolted Big D for greener pastures. Melifonwu impressed a lot of people at the combine, and he can probably step right into a starting role for a depleted Dallas defense.

 

29     Green Bay Packers

Alvin Kamara – RB – Tennessee

The Packers don’t really have many holes to fill, although I am not convinced that receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery is truly the answer in the backfield after the departure of Eddie Lacy. What about Christine Michael?? Ehhhh…I don’t know. Kamara is probably a reach at this point, but he might seize the job easily and make the choice look brilliant.

 

30     Pittsburgh Steelers

Raekwon McMillan – LB – Ohio St.

I know my Steelers well enough to know that, despite most fans wanting desperately for them to upgrade the secondary, they covet the linebacker position more than just about anything. With Jarvis Jones & Lawrence Timmons having moved on the position is a legit issue. Ryan Shazier is great and Bud Dupree has potential, but James Harrison can’t play forever and everyone else is unproven. Pittsburgh has had good luck drafting former Buckeyes, which gives McMillan the nod over a couple other possibilities.

 

31     Atlanta Falcons

Cordrea Tankersley – CB – Clemson

The Falcons’ defense got eaten alive by Tom Brady in the second half of the Super Bowl, so I have to believe that will be a point of emphasis going forward. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe defected to Atlanta from Kansas City in free agency, so that fills one huge need. There are a plethora of cornerbacks to choose from in this spot, but I’m going with Tankersley for no apparent reason.

 

32     New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)

John Ross – WR – Washington

This pick is obvious. The Saints traded away speedy wideout Brandin Cooks. They took an offensive tackle with the 11th pick. There are enough corners available they can be patient, especially if they also lure Malcolm Butler away from New England as expected. Ross is a solid replacement for Cooks.

 

 

 

 

 

Round 2

33     Cleveland Browns

TreDavious White – CB – LSU

In the first round the Browns got the best player in the draft in defensive end Myles Garrett and took their latest quarterback of the future. They need a corner to bookend with All-Pro Joe Haden, and White should fit the bill.

 

34     San Francisco 49ers

DeShone Kizer – QB – Notre Dame

The Niners added linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round. The top two field generals…Watson & Trubisky…are off the board, so ‘Frisco will roll the dice on Kizer to develop for a year or two while Brian Hoyer and/or Matt Barkley pretend to be pro quarterbacks.

 

35     Jacksonville Jaguars

Cam Robinson – OT – Alabama

The Jags made what is probably the safest choice in the draft with their first round selection of defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. Now they can solidify the offensive line with a massive addition.

 

36     Chicago Bears

Garett Bolles – OT – Utah

After signing Mike Glennon away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and also picking up Mark Sanchez…lol) the need for a quarterback is diminished in the short term, which is good since the value isn’t there in this spot. The secondary was addressed in the first round. Improving the offensive line is always a solid choice.

 

37     Los Angeles Rams

Chidobe Awuzie – CB – Colorado

The Rams didn’t have a first round pick and didn’t make any major free agency moves. Wade Phillips is the defensive coordinator now, and in the past he has worked wonders for teams like the Texans & Broncos. They really need to address the secondary.

 

38     Los Angeles Chargers

Dan Feeney – G- Indiana

The Chargers added a premier wideout in the first round. I think it is still a bit early to take the quarterback of the future since Rivers is likely going to be around for a couple of years. It is more likely, especially with the departure of guard DJ Fluker, that they address the offensive line, even after signing tackle Russell Okung away from Seattle.

 

39     New York Jets

Pat Mahomes – QB – Texas Tech

The Jets played it smart in the first round…but they just can’t help themselves. They’ll add to their collection of quarterbacks and pray that one of them actually develops into something resembling a competent pro.

 

40     Carolina Panthers

Charles Harris – DE – Missouri

Let’s be honest. Julius Peppers, at age 37, is a temporary fix. The Panthers need a young end that can be mentored by the veteran.

 

41     Cincinnati Bengals

Takkarist McKinley – LB – UCLA

The Bengals released linebacker Rey Maualuga and signed Kevin Minter away from Arizona. I think they’ll still look to solidify the position in the draft.

 

42     New Orleans Saints

Teez Tabor – CB – Florida

The Saints improved the offensive line and replenished the receiving corps in the first round. I think they go defense here, solidifying the secondary. They still might end up getting cornerback Malcolm Butler from the Patriots, but then again they might not. Either way adding some depth is never a bad thing.

 

43     Philadelphia Eagles

Jourdan Lewis – CB – Michigan

The Eagles have rebuilt their receiving corps this offseason with the additions of Torrey Smith & Alshon Jeffrey. They took a stud running back in the first round. Now it’s time to improve the secondary.

 

44     Buffalo Bills

Curtis Samuel – WR – Ohio St.

Other than Sammy Watkins the Bills have nothing impressive at receiver, and Watkins seems to have a hard time staying healthy. If they want any quarterback to succeed he’s got to have some weapons.

 

45     Arizona Cardinals

Davis Webb – QB – California

Any quarterback taken in this spot is a gamble. But with an injury prone & aging Carson Palmer backed up by Drew Stanton the situation warrants a roll of the dice. Webb has tremendous size, especially if he adds some muscle. Cal has produced guys like Aaron Rodgers, Steve Bartowski, Kyle Boller, & Jared Goff, so maybe Webb can evolve into a solid NFL quarterback.

 

46     Indianapolis Colts

Dion Dawkins – G – Temple

Indianapolis took Christian McCaffrey in the first round, and they did a lot to upgrade the defense in free agency. It seems like protecting quarterback Andrew Luck has been an issue every one of his five NFL seasons, so they’ll keep trying to improve.

 

47     Baltimore Ravens

Chris Godwin – WR – Penn St.

After solidifying the secondary in the first round and in free agency the Ravens have a couple of directions they can go in this spot. Steve Smith is retired and the jury is still out on 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman, leaving only Mike Wallace as a reliable pass catcher, so I think Baltimore has to pull the trigger on a wideout.

 

48     Minnesota Vikings

Chris Wormley – DT – Michigan

The Vikings didn’t have a first round selection due to last year’s trade that brought them QB Sam Bradford from Philly. They’ve replaced the aging Adrian Peterson with running back Latavius Murray, formerly of the Raiders…a great move in my opinion. I think they’ll go defense here, choosing from among the best players available to add some depth.

 

49     Washington Redskins

Adoree’ Jackson – CB – USC

The Redskins lost two receivers…DeSean Jackson & Pierre Garcon…in free agency. Terrelle Pryor comes over from Cleveland to fill one of those spots, and Brian Quick, formerly of the Rams, takes care of the other. And of course they have last year’s top pick Josh Doctson, so the wideout spot is solid. They have a stable of young running backs and a good offensive line. The pass rush was enhanced in Round 1, so I think the back end gets some attention here, especially with DeAngelo Hall being 33 years old.

 

50     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Budda Baker – S – Washington

The Bucs added a big tight end in the first round, so they can now turn their attention to defense. Baker adds to a secondary that already includes last year’s first round pick, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.

 

51     Denver Broncos

Taylor Moton – OT – Western Michigan

We know the Broncos have a great defense, but no one is too sure what to expect from the offense. They added an offensive lineman in Round 1, but don’t be surprised if they double up on that area of need.

 

52     Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans)

Pat Elflein – C – Ohio St.

Cleveland has this pick as a result of a trade the Titans made last year so they could go up and get tackle Jack Conklin (a move that worked out well for Tennessee). The Browns have already addressed needs at quarterback & corner, as well as taking the best defensive end in the draft with the top overall selection. They might end up using this pick as an asset to trade up, but that’s an unknown. I think this is a good spot to solidify an offensive line that already has a lot of talent. Center Alex Mack moved on to Atlanta last season after seven years with the Browns (netting an appearance in the Super Bowl…not a bad exchange on his part), so maybe they find a talented replacement in this spot.

 

53     Detroit Lions

Tim Williams – LB – Alabama

After addressing issues on both lines in free agency and adding the athletic Jabrill Peppers in the first round it seems like Detroit should be focusing on the linebacker position with this pick. Apparently Williams had some off the field issues at ‘Bama, but he’s being compared to Raiders’ (and former WVU) pass rusher Bruce Irvin, so we know a team will be willing to roll the dice. Putting a guy with a history of marijuana & firearms arrests in Detroit…what could possibly go wrong??

 

54     Miami Dolphins

Gareon Conley – CB – Ohio St.

I really like Miami’s offensive. However, despite a line that includes Ndamukong Suh & Cameron Wake and the presence of linebackers Kiko Alonso & Lawrence Timmons I still think the defense needs some work.

 

55     New York Giants

T.J. Watt – LB – Wisconsin

The G-Men added their next great tight end in Round 1, so now I think they’ll tinker with the defense a bit. If TJ is even half as good as his brother JJ this will be a steal.

 

56     Oakland Raiders

Joe Mixon – RB – Oklahoma

The Raiders added a cornerback in Round 1, so I feel like this might be a good spot for a curveball. I’m sure DeAndre Washington will be given every opportunity to win the starting job, and IF Adrian Peterson is brought in that adds some depth, but Mixon is rising up many draft boards and he’s just the kind of controversial player the Raiders have always taken a chance on. Wow…Peterson & Mixon in the same backfield?? Wrap your head around that.

 

57     Houston Texans

Dorian Johnson – G – Pitt

Whomever ends up being the quarterback will need a deep & talented offensive line in front of them. 

 

58     Seattle Seahawks

Larry Ogunjobi – DT – Charlotte

What do you get a team that has everything?? In this case I think beefing up the interior of the defensive line is a smart move.

 

59     Kansas City Chiefs

Jarrad Davis – LB – Florida

The Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot in free agency besides signing CJ Spiller to replace the departed Jammal Charles at running back. I feel like they need to add some depth to the pass rush, especially with Tamba Hali being 33 years old.

 

60     Dallas Cowboys

Kevin King – CB – Washington

Dallas has to continue rebuilding their defense. Period.

 

61     Green Bay Packers

Dalvin Tomlinson – DT – Alabama

The Pack replaced departed running back Eddie Lacy in the first round, so now they can turn their attention to the defense. Tomlinson would be the sixth ‘Bama player taken in the first 61 picks…about 10% of the draft thus far. I don’t know if that’s any kind of record, but it sure is impressive.

 

62     Pittsburgh Steelers

Carl Lawson – DE – Auburn

In the first round my Steelers replenished a depleted linebacker corps. They added a couple of nice complementary pieces in free agency, and I’m sure they’ll take the best player available here. That might just be Lawson, who has drawn comparisons to Dwight Freeney. He’s battled injuries at the collegiate level, so where he lands will be largely dependent on medical evaluations.

 

63     Atlanta Falcons

Josh Jones – S – North Carolina St.

In Round 1 the Falcons addressed secondary issues that cost them the Super Bowl. They might want to consider doubling up just to be sure.

 

64     New England Patriots

Roderick Johnson – OT – Florida St.

The Super Bowl champs finally get to make a selection, although I really don’t know how they could improve, especially after trading for receiver Brandin Cooks, signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore away from Buffalo, & getting defensive end Kony Ealy from Carolina. I suppose refining the offensive line to protect the ageless Tom Brady wouldn’t be a bad move.

 

 

 

Round 3

 

65     Cleveland Browns

Desmond King – S- Iowa

 

66     San Francisco 49ers

Duke Riley – LB – LSU

 

67     Chicago Bears

Sidney Jones – CB – Washington

 

68     Jacksonville Jaguars

Jake Butt – TE – Michigan

 

69     Los Angeles Rams

JuJu Schuster – WR – USC

 

70     New York Jets

Quincy Wilson – CB – Florida

 

71     Los Angeles Chargers

Brad Kaaya – QB – Miami (FL)

 

72     New England Patriots (from Carolina Panthers)

Montravius Adams – DT – Auburn

 

73     Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Orlosky – C – West Virginia

 

74     Baltimore Ravens (from Philadelphia Eagles)

Vincent Taylor – DT – Oklahoma St.

 

75     Buffalo Bills

Antonio Garcia – OT – Troy

 

76     New Orleans Saints

Nathan Peterman – QB – Pitt

 

77     Arizona Cardinals

Rasul Douglas – CB – West Virginia

 

78     Baltimore Ravens

Tarell Basham – DE – Ohio

 

79     Minnesota Vikings

Isaac Asiata – G – Utah

 

80     Indianapolis Colts

Marcus Williams – S – Utah

 

81     Washington Redskins

Eddie Jackson – S – Alabama

 

82     Denver Broncos

Evan Engram – TE – Mississippi

 

83     Tennessee Titans

Cooper Kupp – WR – Eastern Washington

 

84     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Elijah Qualls – DT – Washington

 

85     Detroit Lions

Ahkello Witherspoon – CB – Colorado

 

86     Minnesota Vikings

Will Holden – OT – Vanderbilt

 

87     New York Giants

Jaleel Johnson – OT – Iowa

 

88     Oakland Raiders

Tyus Bowser – LB – Houston

 

89     Houston Texans

Ryan Anderson – LB – Alabama

 

90     Seattle Seahawks

Chad Wheeler – OT – USC

 

91     Kansas City Chiefs

Jalen Myrick – CB – Minnesota

 

92     Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Walker – DE – Florida St.

 

93     Green Bay Packers

Cameron Sutton – CB – Tennessee

 

94     Pittsburgh Steelers

Dede Westbrook – WR – Oklahoma

 

95     Atlanta Falcons

Carlos Watkins – DT – Clemson

 

96     New England Patriots

D’Onta Foreman – RB – Texas

 

*97    Miami Dolphins

Devonte Fields – DE – Louisville

 

*98    Carolina Panthers

Ryan Switzer – WR – North Carolina

 

*99    Philadelphia Eagles (from Baltimore Ravens)

Derek Rivers – DE – Youngstown St.

 

*100 Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Danny Isidora – G – Miami (FL)

 

*101 Denver Broncos

Samaje Perine – RB – Oklahoma

 

*102 Seattle Seahawks

David Sharpe – OT – Florida

 

*103 New Orleans Saints (from Cleveland via New England)

Marlon Mack – RB – South Florida

 

*104 Kansas City Chiefs

Josh Dobbs – QB – Tennessee

 

*105  Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner – RB – Pitt

 

*106 Seattle Seahawks

Brian Allen – CB – Utah     

 

*107 New York Jets

Isaiah Ford – WR – Virginia Tech