Vintage Wade Silenced By Toronto

THE RESULTS

 

This week, the Toronto Raptors demolished the Miami Heat in game seven of the Eastern conference semi-finals 116-89. In this series, many thought the Miami Heat would end up winning due to their superstar guards catching fire during their playoff run.

Coming in, everyone knew that the guard match ups were going to be the highlight of the series. Dwyane Wade was vintage in the playoffs thus far, shooting over 46% percent from the field while averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game.

He topped off this amazing post season performance by shooting 52% from behind the arc. Those of you who know D-Wade know that we don’t see him hit threes consistently ever.

In the 2015-16 regular season, he shot a dreadful 16% from downtown. Goran Dragic also played like a superstar during this run. He was putting up a consistent 16 points while shooting 44% from the field.

The two Miami superstars were heating up at just the right time. This in my opinion seemed to serve as a rally cry to the rest of the team, saying that their time for a championship run was now.

 

THE HEAT

 

This consistency from both these players spiked the deep playoff run for the Heat.If this is true, then why didnt Miami win the series then?

The answer to that is injuries. Usually an injury here and there will not effect a team. The loss of three key players for Miami hurt their chances.

Chris Bosh experienced blood clotting issues toward the end of this regular season. Though uncontrollable, blood clotting is extremely serious and some analysts worry that Chris Bosh may never be cleared to play basketball ever again.

Putting his health first, the organization shut him down for the series. Bosh accounted for nearly 20 points and 8 rebounds per game this regular season which was a major loss for them.

Whiteside also got injured during the series twisting his knee early on. He was another huge factor during the playoffs, controlling the paint consistently. Whiteside notched 10 rebounds and nearly 3 blocks per game which caused a huge gap in their defense.

He was also shooting 68% from the floor. Not shown on the stat sheet, he altered many shots. Deng was also greatly missed at points in the series. He provided solid scoring while shooting over 47% from the floor.

This depleted most of the offensive and defensive game plan for the Heat for a large portion of the series. These key losses throughout the series shattered their hopes of continuing their run.

 

RAPTORS STRUGGLES

 

Another reason the Heat were favored in this series was because of poor shooting from Toronto’s guards during the playoffs thus far. Together, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen shot around 35% which is extremely low for the two stars.

DeRozan shot a career low 18% from the three point line. Lowry was shooting so bad, he stayed after in the practice facility until as late as 1AM shooting shot after shot. On top of the poor shooting, the Raptors best big man Valanciunas went down injured for most of the series.

Averaging a double double in the postseason, this proved to be a vital loss for them. Together, the problems for the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors boiled down to produce an amazing, closely contested game 7 on paper.

 

PREDICTIONS

 

Originally, I said that the Heat would take the series in 7. Before watching the game, I predicted the Heat to beat the Raptors 94-81. I thought that the poor shooting from DeRozen and Lowry on top of the loss of Valanciunas would cause the Raptors to lose by a substantial amount.

Based on their play in recent games, I wrongfully thought Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic would be too much for Lowry and DeRozan to compete with. Since both Miami stars were playing at their best at the time and Toronto’s’ were playing at their worst, it would make sense for them to lose the biggest game in the series.

Not only were the stars playing better, but the Heat were statistically performing better than the Raptors in most aspects. They overall were shooting better, scoring more, and were playing better on the defensive end of the floor in the playoffs.

When I made my prediction, I did not account for the key injuries in the series because some of them did not happen yet.

My prediction overall was far from right. I was correct about the game 7, but truly never expected the Raptors to win the series. D-Wade and Dragic had a good game, combining for 32 points.

The rest of the Heat’s starting lineup stepped up, including Joe Johnson, Justise Winslow and Luol Deng who all put up double digits in the scoring category. The only spark that was provided from the bench was from Josh McRoberts who put up a solid 10 points.
The rest of their bench only put up 8 points. Deng and Winslow stepped up on defense, recording five blocks total in an attempt to fill the hole left by the injured Hassan Whiteside. Winslow and Dragic also recorded 4 steals that evened out due to 4 turnovers provided by Dwyane Wade. Though they worked hard and fought to the end, it would not be enough.

 

GAME  REFLECTION

 

What I remember most about the game were the performances by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen. They combined for a total of 63 points, just shy of doubling that of Wade and Dragic. Lowry had 7 rebounds, 3 of those being offensive.

He was also shooting lights out in Air Canada Centre, shooting 5-7 from downtown. This was extremely surprising because of his recent struggles from the field. DeRozan reeled in 8 rebounds and was keeping many offensive possessions alive snagging 4 offensive rebounds.

I was most impressed by the performances of Biyombo and Patterson. Biyombo shot 6-8 from the floor while grabbing 16 rebounds while he sent back 2 shots. He filled the shoes of Valanciunas and then some which could result in an increase of minutes coming in the near future.

Patterson shot perfect from the line while snagging 11 rebounds. He also jumped a pass to get a steal and sent back a shot in someone’s face. These two players unexpectedly stepped up which resulted in the blow out. The bench didn’t perform as well as they should have, losing the battle to Miami’s bench.

Overall, I thought this was a very interesting series that went back and forth constantly. It was very exciting to watch the amazing guard match up even though they were not at their peak.

I would have liked to see both teams compete uninjured. I think Miami had the better team and would have won at full strength. I am extremely happy to see Toronto advance to their FIRST conference finals in franchise history.

This is not only great for the franchise, but it is also great for the NBA to see a new team in the conference finals. The Toronto Raptors will take on the Eastern Conference Juggernaut known as the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

CAVS RAPTORS PREDICTION

My prediction for that series is 4-2 Cleveland. Cleveland has way too much star power on their team and are currently steamrolling teams in the playoffs.

I was going to predict 4-1, but I feel Toronto will definitely take one game and am optimistic that they might be able to get another.

I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. The series will be determined by the guard play of Toronto and if their roleplayers show up to play.

If they win more than two games, I will be shocked. This is a series that I believe Cleveland has won before it has even started. For a further breakdown, see my Cleveland vs Raptors breakdown.

 

Works Cited

 

http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=400875896

http://www.nba.com/heat/stats?season=2015-16&season_type=playoffs

http://www.nba.com/raptors/stats?season=2015-16&season_type=playoffs

 

Websites were used for statistical values only. All thoughts and ideas expressed in this writing were my own.

 

Sports Rants NBA

Peyton Manning Tutored Ryan Tannehill During Visit to Miami

Although the Miami Dolphins failed in their free agent pursuit of recently-retired and future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, they were able to get the legendary signal caller to help out their own franchise quarterback.

According to multiple reports, Manning visited Miami, the new home of his old offensive coordinator Adam Gase to give Ryan Tannehill some tips on how to work in a Gase offense. Naturally this comes as good news as Tannehill has had his ups and downs during his tenure in South Florida, but has the potential to take steps forward in his development.

“A guy that had his career, the living legend he is, coming off a Super Bowl winning season,” Tannehill told the Miami Herald, “it was really cool just to be able to sit and pick his brain about things he’s done in this offense and football things in general: snap counts, things you like, the way you want guys to run routes, little details about the game. We really just got to talk the game, which is something we both love.”

Manning worked with Tannehill on the ins-and-outs of a Gase playbook during a time when Tannehill couldn’t meet with his new head coach. “(Manning) respects Adam (Gase). The things they did, getting to a Super Bowl together, there is a mutual respect there. He is something I aspire to be, as good or better as he is one day. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him to come around some more.”

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that Manning visited Dolphins headquarters earlier this spring to meetup with Gase and to work with Tannehill.

“At that time, we weren’t able to meet with the coaches or anything, so I didn’t really have a great handle (on the offense) yet,” Tannehill said to the Miami Herald. “So I wasn’t really able to dive into the playbook too much. So I had a few questions (for Manning). If he comes back now, we can have a completely different conversation.”

According to Jackson, the tutoring session was entirely Manning’s idea.

This could be Manning’s way of dipping his toes in the coaching waters now that his playing career is over.

In any event the tutoring of Tannehill is pleasant news to Dolphin fans and the organization who are hoping the 27-year old quarterback has a bounce-back year and thrives in Gase’s offensive system.

 

Dolphins’ Adam Gase Making Revolutionary Changes To Rookie Minicamp

If the general idea is that when an organization brings in a new regime a new culture sets in, than the Miami Dolphins are heading in that direction.

Miami Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase is introducing a new wrinkle to the traditional rookie minicamp in his first season at the helm in South Florida. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Gase decided to change up the traditional approach to the first weekend of work for his rookies, by eliminating the practices in lieu of the classroom.

Miami’s eight draft picks and 10 undrafted free agents will start the rookie minicamp that will go from Friday to Sunday, but the rookies will not touch the field at the team’s training facility once during those three days of minicamp, which is a complete change from tradition.

Instead the class of rookies will spend all of their time during this minicamp in the classroom learning how to be Miami Dolphins. This sessions will focus on schemes, assignments, general football education and will also include life labs to focus on nutrition, financial planning, sports science, and dealing with the media.

While this likely eliminates any tryouts that are traditionally affiliated with rookie minicamp it provides the Dolphins’ a rather smart opportunity to get their rookies mentally prepared for the NFL season and the scheme that Gase and his staff are implementing.

It also eliminates the chance for injury by preventing the players to participate in workouts. Let’s face it, the rookies have had their bodies put through the meat grinder leading up to the draft and the rest should be well welcomed and help them from hitting a “wall” late in the NFL regular season.

It’s likely that the idea will be picked apart by practice-obsessed coaches or most of those in the traditional-form of football mentality but Gase’s approach does make sense and could be mimicked as early as next year by fellow NFL head coaches.

It’s clear that the Dolphins are hoping this approach helps rookies assimilate, not only to the schemes and assignments drawn up, but also life in the NFL. Quite frankly, Miami is hoping this speeds up any maturation process and helps sharpen their rookies as they head into training camp later this summer.

Sure it may be early May but Dolphin fans have to be pleased with the progressive and confident approach of a Dolphins regime that is a far cry from Joe Philbin’s passive and unemotional (not to mention unsuccessful) approach during his failed tenure at the helm, and for that fans have to be optimistic at the very least.

 

 

 

NFL Draft First Round Recap

Lets face it, all post-draft grades and assessments are a load of crap.  It is impossible to truly judge the strength of any draft class for at least three years.

And yet, every major sports media platform will be giving their assessment of yesterday’s first round outcome today.  So you know what?  I will too…because I can.

So that being said, let us look at some of the biggest hits and misses (in my oh so humble opinion) from the first round:

Hits

Laremy Tunsil (Miami Dolphins)

Tunsil was considered by many to be the best overall prospect in the draft and the Dolphins got him at #13 all because of a short video of Tunsil smoking marijuana years ago.  Let us be clear, this was not new information.  Any team that was not previously aware of Tunsil’s past pot use and potential red flags needs to fire their general manager and his team for being incompetent.  So as long as Tunsil does not turn into Josh Gordon, he will be just fine.

Robert Nkemdice (Arizona Cardinals)

If not for some character issues, Nkemdice likely would have gone #3 to the San Diego Chargers.  To get him at #29 is a freaking steal.  Plus, if there is one team perfectly suited to take on a problem-child, it is the Cardinals.  Their blend of veteran leadership and Bruce Arians’ unique style of coaching will afford Nkemdice the best chance at prolonged success.

Paxton Lynch (Denver Broncos)

I will go on record as saying that Lynch will have the most success of any quarterback in this draft.  He reminds me a lot of Ben Roethlisberger.  He is big, athletic, has a huge arm, and is continually getting better at an alarmingly fast rate.  Broncos fans can breath easy knowing that Denver is not entering the season with only Mark Sanchez under center.

Misses

Eli Apple (New York Giants)

I am not a fan of Apple.  His success in college is predicated on his physical nature and his teammates’ ability to consistently get pressure on the opposing quarterback.  In the NFL, Apple will routinely receive the dreaded yellow flag and will not always have a consistent pass rush to rely on.  Apple will often find himself on an island and I do not think he is good enough.

Darron Lee (New York Jets)

To put it simply, Darron Lee was maybe the fourth best player on his own defense in college.  If you are the fifth or sixth best player on your team, then you should not be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.  There were better players at a position of need for the Jets to take at #20.  I think Lee, just like his college teammate Apple, is going to be a bust in the NFL.

Kenny Clark (Green Bay Packers)

Typically I am a big fan of going to get a player you are high on.  I do not put much stock in the concept of a “value pick.”  A guy can either play or he cannot, where he was drafted is largely irrelevant, outside of the rookie pay scale.  But for the Packers to take Clark when A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed were still available is preposterous to me.  He may turn out to be a solid pro, but I do not think Clark is in the same class as the other two.

Coin-Flips

Leonard Floyd (Chicago Bears)

Floyd is an athletic freak with incredible speed.  The Bears took Floyd with the intent to make him their primary weapon against opposing quarterbacks.  However, despite his measurables, Floyd was not overly productive at Georgia.  On paper Floyd screams “workout wonder”, however; John Fox and Vic Fangio have an established track record in developing defensive talent…especially pass-rushers.

Karl Joseph (Oakland Raiders)

Joseph’s defining characteristic in college was being an ultra-aggressive heavy-hitter.  That is fine by me, but I do not know how well his style will translate into the violence-averse NFL.  He certainly has the talent, but can Karl Joseph taylor his game to meet the requirements of the NFL?  That will be the question going forward.

Artie Burns (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Who the hell is Artie Burns?  I openly admit that my knowledge of college football is not on par with that of a Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock, but it is rare that someone is drafted in the first round that I have not heard of.  After doing a bit of research, Burns looks like a player that could have a solid career (and after seeing his back-story I am rooting hard for his success), but the Steelers passed on a lot of talent that seemingly have a much bigger upside.  The question really is was this a pick the Steelers were thrilled about or is it one of desperation to fill a glaring need?

Only time will tell.

Dee Gordon Gets 80-Game Suspension

According to multiple reports today from ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo Sports, etc., Miami Marlins second baseman Dee “Flash” Gordon has been suspended by the MLB for 80 games this season, effective immediately, after testing positive for two banned performance enhancing drugs.

Per NPR’s Bill Chapel and the MLB, Gordon’s positive test results showed both externally derived testosterone and Clostebol (a type of anabolic steroid). By way of the MLB Players Association, Gordon released a statement earlier today claiming he never knowingly took those substances, but that he accepts the leagues decision :

 

Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20+ tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake, and I accept the consequences.

 

 

Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, who also coached Gordon while they were in LA, was quoted as saying “I feel like he’s one of my kids, to be honest with you. I’ve known him so long.” Mattingly added, that he is “definitely shocked and surprised” by the news (Per NPR/Chapel). “Flash” joins a number of MLB players who have been suspended for similar reasons this year, such as Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello (80-games for PED use) and New York Mets reliever Jennry Mejia (162 games for PED use).

 

Gordon debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2011, and began to catch fire in 2014 when he made his first all-star game appearance, posted a solid .289/.326/.378 slash line, and led the majors in stolen bases with a career high 64.

That success continued last year with the Marlins, as Gordon made his second all-star game appearance, slashed for .333/.359/.418, and again led the majors in stolen bases with 58.

 

With Gordon now gone until well after the all-star break, Miami will start Miguel Rojas at second until further notice.

 

(Statistics, data, and direct quotes for this post are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com, Spotrac.com, NPR’s Bill Chapel, and the MLB Players Association)

 

OK, I lied…Mock Draft 2.0

Ok, ok, ok…I lied about my last mock draft….it is not the only one I am doing.  To be fair though, I did not know that the Eagles and Rams were going to screw everything up.

So now I feel an obligation to provide my expert analysis on the NFL Draft to all three of my loyal readers.

Enough procrastinating; here is the low down:

1)  Los Angels Rams (from Tennessee TItans) – Jared Goff QB, California

I have already written an article on this trade.  I think it works for both teams.  But a team like the Rams obviously is not making this trade to draft an offensive tackle.  They obviously see their quarterback of the future and I believe Jared Goff is their man.

2)  Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland Browns) – Carsen Wentz QB, NDSU

I wrote about this trade as well.  And I hated this one.  The Eagles are a bad team that have mortgaged their future to take the Rams’ sloppy seconds.  Although I do like Carsen Wentz and I personally think he is the best quarterback in the draft.

3)  San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey DB, FSU

This pick remains the same.  Ramsey is super versatile and can play all the defensive back positions and even some drop down linebacker.  There has been some scuttlebutt about his lack of turnovers, but his natural athleticism and talent will make a very good pro for the next decade.

4)  Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott RB, Ohio St.

Elliott is possibly the best overall player in this draft and will be a game breaker from day one.  I think Jerry Jones has already called this one in just in case his staff tries to hog tie him.  And for once I actually agree with Jones.  Elliott can be a perennial pro bowler and will instantly help the Cowboys contend for the playoffs.

5)  Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack LB, UCLA

The Jaguars will get Jack to pair with Dexter Fowler and establish their defensive core for the future.  And in a division that is still up for grabs this pick cold potentially help Jacksonville contend for years to come.

6)  Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner, DL – Oregon

The Ravens are usually good candidates to trade down, but with Buckner sitting their at 6 I cannot imagine Baltimore passing this one up.  Buckner should be another instant impact player and at #6 he is good value as well.

7)  New York Jets (from San Francisco 49ers) – Paxton Lynch, QB Memphis

Thanks to the virtual guarantee that the top two quarterbacks will be gone immediately, this means certain teams will be desperate to get Lynch.  And seeing as that we are on the eve of the draft and the Jets have not signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, I still believe they will use Mo Wilkerson as leverage to move up in the draft.

8)  Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland Browns from Philadelphia Eagles) – Laremy Tunsil OT, Ole Miss

With all the new ammunition the Titans acquired, they will be able to move up to #8 from #15 to take the player they would have originally taken at #1.  The Browns will want more value from the extra draft picks and the Titans will get the player they wanted for less money and with a few extra draft picks to boot.

9)  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronnie Staley OT, Notre Dame

The Bucs’ hearts are broken when they are teased with the prospect of Tunsil and then take Staley.  But Staley is a hell of a player that should start from day one for Tampa Bay.

10)  New Orleans Saints (from New York Giants) – Joey Bosa OLB/DE, Ohio St.

The Saints will want him and they will be afraid the Bears will steal him.  So the Saints make a trade to hop over the Bears and take an aggressive pass rusher to help out their abysmal defense.

11)  Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson, DE/OLB Clemson

He is probably the best player on one of the best teams in college football and the Bears need to get a consistent pass rusher to help out Pernell McPhee.  Bears would have liked Bosa, but they will be happy to take Lawson.

12) New York Giants (from New Orleans Saints) Laquon Treadwell, WR Ole Miss

The Giants spent all their money signing defensive talent, so in the draft they will want to get Eli a little help.  They can drop a couple spots, get a few extra picks and still take Treadwell; a big physical receiver that is good at using his body in traffic.  A perfect compliment to the smooth skill of Odell Beckem Jr.

13)  Miami Dolphins – Vernon Hargreaves, CB Florida

The Dolphins drop on their collective knees and thank the heavens that Hargreaves falls to #13.  Prior to all the major moves, the Dolphins likely would have taken Eli Apple, but Hargreaves looks like the better player and with the departure of Brent Grimes, Miami will be looking to get someone to play opposite Byron Maxwell.

14)  Oakland Raiders – Robert Nkemdiche DT, Ole Miss

Nkemdiche is a top 5 talent that is going to fall do to a plethora personal red flags.  But the Raiders have a good young core of talent and would be willing to assume the risk of Nkemdiche’s personal problems at the benefit of his prodigious skill.

15)  Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans from Philadelphia Eagles) Josh Doctson WR, TCU

The Browns lost a lot in free agency including their best wide receiver.  TGIII has to throw to someone, so drafting arguably the best wide receiver in the draft seems like a very good idea at #15.

16)  Detroit Lions – Jack Conklin OT, MSU

With Megatron gone Stafford loses his security blanket.  Therefore he is going to need more protection. Conklin is a big physical player who can jump right in and save Stafford from some of the beatings he has been taking over the past few seasons.

17)  Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Floyd OLB, Georgia

The Falcons need help all over, so they will likely take the best available player which is Floyd.  He is very athletic and is capable of making big plays and would be an instant starter on a very weak defense.

18)  Indianapolis Colts – Kevin Dodd, DE Clemson

Personally I am not sold on Dodd and think that a lot of his production in college was due to playing alongside Shaq Lawson.  That being said, the Colts are desperate on defense and many scouts are high on Dodd; so Dodd goes to Indianapolis.

19)  Buffalo Bills – Darron Lee, OLB Ohio St.

It is a Rex Ryan team.  I fully expect the Bills to go defense and to bolster an iffy linebacking group.  Lee goes to Buffalo for clean up work behind a very good defensive line.

20)  San Francisco 49ers (from New York Jets) – Eli Apple CB, Ohio St.

The 49ers get their defensive lineman in the trade with the Jets and now they seek to bolster their secondary in a division that features Carsen Palmer, Russell Wilson, and (presumably) Jared Goff.

21)  Washington Redskins – Keanu Neal S, Florida

I am convinced the Redskins will take a safety here.  I am not 100% sure which one.  I like Neal because he was very productive at an elite program from a school that has a history of producing some good safeties.  I like Neal at #21.

22)  Houston Texans – Will Fuller WR, Notre Dame

The Texans absolutely need to get help for their new quarterback and to take pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins.  Fuller is a very good player who will be able to benefit from the high number of one-on-one matchups he will see playing opposite of Hopkins.

23)  Minnesota Vikings – Corey Coleman WR, Baylor

They need to get a deep/speed threat for Teddy Bridgewater.  Bridgewater is a solid quarterback, but he is not the type to put the team on his back and carry them to victory.  He needs help and Coleman is that help.

24)  Cincinnati Bengals – Mackensie Alexander CB, Clemson

The Bengals may go with A’Shawn Robinson, but they really need another cornerback and Alexander is the best one left on the board at this point.  I think they go with need over best available in this instance.

25)  Pittsburgh Steelers – Kendall Fuller CB, Virginia

Again, I think the Steelers go with need over best available.  The Steelers have been in desperate need for a good cornerback for years and this year is no different.

26)  Seattle Seahawks – Reggie Ragland ILB, Alabama

With the departure of Bruce Irvin the Seahawks have an opening in their linebacker corps.  Ragland is a good sideline-to-sideline player who was a instrumental to Alabama’s success.

27)  Green Bay Packers – A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

The Packers once again benefit from the unlikely dropping of an elite player.  Robinson was the anchor of the best defense in college football and with the departure of B.J. Raji, the Packers need a big defensive tackle to fill the void.

28)  Kansas City Chiefs – William Jackson III, CB Houston

The Chiefs defense is aging and injury prone and I think they would like to rebuild around a pair of great corner backs.  Jackson III can play opposite Marcus Peters an give the Chiefs a dynamic and young 1-2 punch for years to come.

29)  Arizona Cardinals  Jarran Reed, DT Alabama

I could also see Arizona going offensive line here, but I think they will go best available and that means Reed.  The running mate of A’Shawn Robinson made plenty of plays himself en route to a national championship.

30)  Carolina Panthers – Jordan Howard RB, Indiana

I am not thrilled with the pick, but the Panthers leaned heavily on the aging legs of Jonathan Stewart and they would love to get a complimentary player that could eventually supplant Stewart.

31)  Denver Broncos – Conor Cook QB, MSU

The Broncos are going into the season with Mark Sanchez as their expected starter.  If Cook’s available and they do not draft him, John Elway will have to face an angry mob…a stoned one….but angry nonetheless.

Miami Dolphins Could Trade Up In NFL Draft’s First Round

There has been a lot of moving and shaking regarding the NFL Draft in recent weeks with both the #1 and #2 picks being traded. The re-shuffling of the top-end of the 2016 NFL Draft has fueled speculation that the trade market may heat up yet again leading into next week’s draft.

One strong candidate to move up are the Miami Dolphins who already made a trade earlier this offseason with the Philadelphia Eagles that moved them from #8 to #13 in the draft.

It’s no secret that Miami covets Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot and while it can be argued that Miami has bigger needs than running back, such as cornerback and linebacker, Elliot offers the rare potential to be a game-changer at running back. The Dolphins have not successfully replaced Lamar Miller, who departed to the Houston Texans in free agency. Although Miller was not the game-breaker the Dolphins’ had hoped his loss still left a void on the offense that has yet to be addressed.

Putting a running back of Elliot’s caliber on the Dolphins’ offense would greatly help quarterback Ryan Tannehill as well as first-year coach Adam Gase, whose offensive system would perfectly suit Elliot’s skill set.

It was thought that the Dolphins’ biggest hurdle in drafting Elliot was the Eagles, but they moved to the 2nd overall pick and are definitely selecting a quarterback. Then there are the New York Giants who, like the Dolphins, have a lot of needs (more pressing than running back) but the allure of Elliot’s potential may be too sweet for Big Blue to pass up.

So, Miami may be inclined and motivated to leapfrog the Giants in the draft to all-but-guarantee they land their “crown jewel” prospect.

Given the history of Dolphins’ executive Mike Tannenbaum who is not afraid to make multiple trades before and during the draft, the possibility of a Dolphins’ trade up is very likely.

Tannenbaum spoke last week about the potential of Elliot playing in Miami:

“He’s a good player. He’s a good football player. There are a lot of good football players in this draft. I know you guys all know he came in here to visit. He’s a good kid, so we enjoyed spending time with him. There are a lot of good players in this draft, and he’s one of them” Tannenbaum said.

“It’s like with all (of) the visits – that and from the combine visits. And our scouts have done a lot of visits with players offsite, at campuses, at their school. (We are) trying to get a feel for the kid and the person just in terms of if they’re made up of what you want in your organization.”

The cost to move up for Miami may not be as lofty as many may think. Pairing a 3rd or 4th round pick along with their #13 selection may be enough for the Dolphins to love into the perfect position to select the running back.

Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns could all be potential trade partners.

Miami is capable of bold moves and they clearly want Elliot, but will they be able to craft the perfect deal to put themselves in position to get the player they desire?

We will all know the answer to that question come draft day.

 

The Eagles Soar To Number Two

On Wednesday the news broke that the Philadelphia Eagles pulled off another huge trade. Moving from the 8th pick in the draft all the way to number two spot, simultaneously selling the farm to the Cleveland Browns.

At the end of the 2015 season, the Eagles front office seemed to have fallen to chaos. Chip Kelly was relieved of his duties as head coach and most of the players he had acquired like DeMarco Murray, would soon follow.

When the Eagles beat the Giants, in week 17, of the 2015 season, they secured the 13 overall pick. The Giants got the short end of the stick in that match up but, not in draft positioning. Having received the 10th overall selection, due to the loss of the week 17 match up.

Now back in control of the team Howie Roseman, seemed determined to move up to grab “his” quarterback of the future. His first move would be, to get into the top 10 swapping picks with The Miami Dolphins and moving to the 8 spot.

Then an earthquake shook the core of the NFL Draft, when the LA Rams acquired the first overall pick, via trade from the Tennessee Titans. This now made 3 possible teams that had their sights set on a new quarterback, before the Eagles would even make their first overall selection.

In an interview Howie Roseman, admitted, that even though they thought they could find a great player with the 8th pick, the Eagles would not be opposed to moving up even further in the draft.

Which is exactly what they did, moving to the number two spots guarantees that, the Eagles will close out the first round with a possible franchise quarterback, but at what cost?

The Eagles were also quite busy during the free agent frenzy, re-signing QB Sam Bradford. Due to a strange attachment to a backup quarterback namely Chase Daniels, new coach Doug Peterson lead the campaign to sign the former Kansas City Chief.

Between the two quarterbacks the Eagles have 34 Million tied up in guarantees over the next two seasons. Telling you, the Eagles will most likely be carrying 3 QBs on their roster this year. Something most teams rarely do in this era of the NFL, due to the fact you generally have to sacrifice a special teamer when having such a crowded quarterback room.

The question now becomes what quarterback will the Eagles be left with, due to the Rams being a lock to take a quarterback with the first overall pick? The experts seem to be split in ranking the QB prospects, perhaps with Carson Wentz, having A slight edge over Jared Goff. So, in the end the Eagles make all these moves and invest all this money, and they still don’t even truly get to make the pick.

The Eagles, do somehow still have 7 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. So maybe, just maybe, Howie Roseman does know what he is doing. Some fans see things a little differently, due to the fact that they need to be able to build a team around what ever QB holds up the Eagles number 1 jersey on April 28th. The Latest moves have left Philly with no second round pick this year, and no 1st round pick next year. With it all to be topped off with no 2018 second round pick. Is Philly on the rise, or did they just jump off a cliff?

Panthers’ Say Cap Room And Tough Negotiations Led to Josh Norman’s Departure

The Carolina Panthers appear to be both comfortable and self-assured that the best and only recourse they had during increasingly difficult negotiations with cornerback Josh Norman was to rescind the franchise tag and allow him to become a free agent.

Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman didn’t seem to hesitate when reporters asked what he could do with the $13.952 million in salary-cap spac, money freed up by allowing Norman to walk; “A lot,”

According to reports, Norman was seeking between $15 million and $16 million a year, numbers projected he could earn on the free agent market. That led Carolina to make the decision to end negotiations with the 28-year-old Pro Bowl corner.

Norman never signed the franchise tag Caroline placed on him earlier this offseason, which gave Gettleman the flexibility to rescind the offer. Both Gettleman and Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera said that Norman’s decision plan to attend the start of offseason workouts was a non-factor in their decision making process.

“When we decided to place the franchise tag on Josh, we were fine with him signing it and then working on a long-term deal,” Gettleman said. “As we got deeper into conversations, we realized it was a significant difference between our thoughts and theirs.

“The intervening weeks gave us additional time to evaluate where we’re going as a franchise. With the realization a deal was not going to get done, our internal conversations kept leading us to the fact that the one-year deal was becoming less and less attractive.”

“It’s a decision we made going forward,” Rivera said. “I look at it this way, too, we’ve done some good things the last three years and some of the things that we’ve done have been very hard. I think Dave has had to make a couple tough decisions that have proven to be the best as we’ve gone forward. Quite honestly, I’m going to trust him on this one, too.”

Gettleman said the possibility of getting a compensatory draft pick in 2017 was a factor into making the move.

“I’ve said it before,” Gettleman said during what initially was a pre-draft news conference. “I struggle with our coaches working their fannies off, developing players and letting them walk. I don’t like that. I’ve always believed that the cap can be a great equalizer. I really believe it penalizes teams that draft well.

“You have to understand you can’t keep everybody. It’s impossible. So now you have to decide who you’re going to allow to graduate. We’ve got some really good, young talent. This was a business decision. That’s what this is folks, a business decision.”

“At the end of the day, you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” Gettleman said. “We’d all like to, but you can’t. So you make decisions that’s in the best long-term decision of the Carolina Panthers.”

Gettleman stated that the departure of Norman doesn’t affect his draft strategy, indicating that the Panthers will draft the best player available while also commenting that this year’s cornerback class “is a nice group.”

“Like every year, various shapes and sizes,” he said. “It’s a nice group of players. We’ll just have to see where the board falls.”

While the Panthers aren’t closing the door on the possibility of a Norman return, they seemingly don’t think it is all that likely.

“The more we thought about it, the more flexibility that $14 million would give us … we just kept talking and talking,” Gettleman said. “I have a great belief that in order to get the right answer you have to ask the right questions.

“We kept asking ourselves that question, and this is why we made the decision we made.”

Carolina will explore the draft as well as the free agent class to address the loss of Norman.

“I’ve said this to you guys a number of times: Sometimes the answer is on your roster” Gettleman said.

It will be interesting to see where Norman will land with teams already contacting the free agent. Teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and several other teams have already reached out.

 

 

Oh God…Another Mock Draft

Let me preface this article by saying that I have no inside connections or super-secret sources from within “the team” or “close to the situation”.  I am just a guy who really likes sports.  So obviously I am just as qualified (if not more so) than the plethora of obnoxious talking heads on television touting their “expert knowledge”. 

Now let me be clear, I am not going to be writing and re-writing 30-billion different mock drafts.  I am writing this one only.  But I am also including in my mock draft projected trades.  So you are getting a bit of extra sauce on your sandwich from me.

So without further ado let’s dive in:

1) Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil OT, Ole Miss

This is the obvious pick.  The Titans have made it clear that they are willing to trade this pick, but I am doubtful that they will be offered enough compensation.  Jalen Ramsey is another possibility here, but in the end the Titans have invested heavily in Marcus Mariota and traded for DeMarco Murray, so all evidence points to a need to revamp the offensive line.

2) Cleveland Browns – Jared Goff QB, California

Everyone and their mother are expecting the Browns to take a quarterback.  Personally I think they should take either Jalen Ramsey or DeForest Buckner with this pick, but I digress.  Jared Goff played against stiffer competition at Cal than did his counterparts Paxton Lynch and Carsen Wentz, which makes him very appealing.  Goff played almost exclusively from the shotgun, but since the Browns signed RGIII and retained Josh McCown it is obvious that they are hoping to groom Goff over a couple seasons.

3) San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey DB, Florida State

Ramsey may be the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Chargers have a gaping hole in their secondary.  Quite frankly, if Ramsey is there at #3 and GM Tom Telesco passes on him, then that should be grounds for instant termination.

4) Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott RB, Ohio State

Last year the Cowboys discovered how important a sustained run game is to their team.  I am a Tony Romo fan and supporter, however; he cannot shoulder the load on his own.  The Cowboys need an all-purpose back that can break big plays and handle a heavy load, and in this draft Elliott is the only back that can fill that role.

5)  Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack LB, UCLA

The Jaguars have a ton of young talent on offense that seems to be meshing and getting better every single week.  On defense they have a whole lot less.  But by drafting Myles Jack and getting last year’s first round Dexter Fowler back from injury, the Jaguars will have a young core on which they can build a dominant defense around.

6) Baltimore Raven – DeForest Buckner DL, Oregon

Buckner is a very large (6’7”) athletic freak.  The Ravens have been hurting on defense the past couple of seasons, because of their refusal to give out contracts to their players who go to free agency.  While they have weathered the storm of losing practically every linebacker they have ever had, the Ravens were crushed by the departure of Haloti Ngata.  Buckner will fill that void and give the Ravens an anchor on the defensive line for the next 10 years.

7) San Francisco 49ers (Traded to the New York Jets) – Carsen Wentz QB, North Dakota State

We see our first trade of the draft here at #7. The Jets are desperate for a quarterback.  Geno Smith was a disaster and they are not close to a financial agreement with Ryan Fitzpatrick.  As of this writing, D’Brickashaw Ferguson has announced his retirement, which will free up a lot of money. But even if the Jets do come to an agreement with Fitzpatrick, they need to build for the future and the future does not rest on the arm of a 30 year old journeyman.  Personally I think Wentz is the best quarterback in the draft and with the weapons in New York he could pay off immediately.  And if by some chance the Jets do sign Fitzpatrick, then Wentz can sit for a year and learn behind a veteran Harvard graduate.

8) Philadelphia Eagles – Vernon Hargreaves CB, Florida

The Eagles would probably love it if Ezekiel Elliott would fall to #8, but alas I do not foresee it in my crystal ball.  That being said, the Eagles also have a desperate need at the cornerback position.  Even though the departed Byron Maxwell never lived up to his contract, his absence leaves a huge whole in an Eagles’ secondary that was not that good to begin with.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronnie Stanley OT, Notre Dame

The Bucs have a similar need as the Titans.  They have a young quarterback and a work-horse running back, but they need help up front.  A few seasons ago they attempted to get that help by trading for Logan Mankins, but due to age and injury he never competed at the level he did with the Patriots and has since retired.  The offensive line rebuild begins by protecting Jameis Winston’s blind side.

10) New York Giants (trade to New Orleans Saints) – Joey Bosa OLB/DE, Ohio State

The Saints over the past few seasons have set records for defensive ineptitude. The Giants just spent their free agency stocking up on defensive talent.  But if the Saints want Bosa then they will almost certainly have to get in front of the Bears to get him and a team like the Giants would rather get an extra pick and move down two spots, then pick someone at their current position.

11) Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson DE, Clemson

Make no mistake, the Bears would love to have Joey Bosa.  More than anything the Bears need a pure athlete that can consistently rush the passer, but with the Saints jumping in front of them to grab Bosa the Bears will either have to settle for the next best pash-rusher in Lawson or get creative with their #10 draft pick.

12) New Orleans Saints (traded to New York Giants – Laquon Treadwell WR, Ole Miss

As previously stated, the Giants have spent a treasure trove on defensive free agents, so now it is time to address the offense.  They would love to get an offensive lineman, but with the #12 they would be reaching.  But they also need a counterpart to O’Dell Beckem Junior and Treadwell is the consensus #1 receiver in the draft.  This pick give Eli Manning the one-two punch he needs to keep the chains consistently moving.

13) Miami Dolphins – Eli Apple CB, Ohio State

In an ill-advised trade made between the Dolphins and Eagles during free agency, the Dolphins made a deal that added a lot of money to their salary and decreased their draft stock.  So now a team that is desperate for help in the secondary will have to settle for the third best cornerback in the draft with the #13 pick.  The Dolphins should try and trade down from this pick to collect more draft selections, but I find that possibility unlikely given Miami’s history in the draft.

14) Oakland Raiders – Robert Nkemdiche DT, Ole Miss

Nkemdiche is a top 10 talent that will almost assuredly fall due to character concerns.  Nkemdiche’s off-field reputation will more than ever make teams question his worth, but the Raiders have always done things a bit differently.  And with budding superstar Khalil Mack dominating at the linebacker position, Oakland will jump at the chance to add a player of Nkemdiche’s caliber to fortify their front line.

15) Los Angeles Rams – Paxton Lynch QB, Memphis

It is going to take a while to get used to calling them the L.A. Rams.  Anywho…they need a quarterback in the worst way.  Right now they do not have a quarterback on the roster that they can win with.  It is as simple as that.  And while Lynch is the type of quarterback that would benefit from a year on the bench with a clip board, I have a feeling he will see the field sooner rather than later.

16) Detroit Lions – Jack Conklin OT, Michigan State

Now I would not be surprised if the Giants took Conklin at #12, but I still think they are going with a receiver and since Treadwell is gone the Lions will go with the best available offensive lineman, which is Conklin.  Conklin has a great blend of size and aggressiveness and would a Godsend for Matthew Stafford who has taken a beating over the past several seasons.

17) Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Floyd OLB, Georgia

The Falcons need talent at virtually every position, but especially on defense.  The Falcons were able to scrape a few wins solely off the prodigious play of Julio Jones, but that defense is in a bad way and Floyd would be the best available player at this point.

18) Indianapolis Colts – Kevin Dodd DE, Clemson

This is a prediction based off of the Colts’ glaring need for a pass-rusher and defensive lineman.  But this is also the team that had the same problem last year and drafted a wide receiver instead.  The Colts are fairly unpredictable, but my money is on them taking Shaq Lawson’s counterpart at Clemson.

19) Buffalo Bills – Darron Lee OLB, Ohio State

Rex Ryan teams like their defensive players.  The Bills also lost Mario Williams in free agency to the Dolphins and they never replaced Kiko Alonso from their trade with the Eagles several seasons ago.  The Bills already have a hefty defensive line, now they need an athletic playmaker behind them to go sideline to sideline.

20) New York Jets (traded to San Francisco 49ers) – Josh Doctson WR, TCU

I am working under the assumption that San Francisco will retain Colin Kaepernick.  There is a lot of talk, but I think the 49ers would rather try to rehabilitate Kaepernick than give him away for peanuts.  So if they are keeping him, Chip Kelly will need to get someone for Kaepernick to throw to.  At 6’4” Doctson is a tall target with deceptive speed who would be able to compensate for inaccurate throws.  Sounds like a perfect fit for Kaepernick.

21) Washington Redskins – Keanu Neal S, Florida

The Redskins desperately need a running back, but there really is not another back in this draft worth taking in the first round.  Washington also needs help in their defensive secondary and they would have first choice at the available safeties.  Neal comes from a great program that has yielded a lot of great defensive backs and Neal would be an instant upgrade for a team that is looking to build on its own momentum.

22) Houston Texans – Will Fuller WR, Notre Dame

It seems that the Texans are all in with Brock Osweiller, so now they need to get him weapons not named DeAndre Hopkins.  They need a running back, a tight end, and another receiver.  Fuller will make a very good counterpart to Hopkins and is better than any of the available running backs or tightends.

23) Minnesota Vikings – Corey Coleman WR, Baylor

This is another receiver-needy team and Coleman is probably the only receiver left that could be justified with a first round pick.  The fact of the matter is that Teddy Bridgewater is a game manager.  He cannot win without talent around.  And with Adrian Peterson still running like a bat out of hell, the time is now to get those playmakers in place.

24) Cincinnati Bengals – A’Shawn Robinson DT, Alabama

This is a best pick available pick.  The Bengals need a cornerback, multiple wide receivers, and probably an extra linebacker, but at this point in the draft there are not that many worth taking.  They may go for Mackensie Alexander out of Clemson or Kendall Fuller out of Virginia, but I feel like Robinson is the pick here.  This is just a gut feeling on my part.

25) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kendall Fuller CB, Virginia

This fills a need.  The Steelers are desperate for talent on defense.  They are well-rounded on offense, but their defense is lacking especially given the history of this iconic franchise.  That secondary is in rough shape and Fuller is the type of player that could be effective right away.

26)  Seattle Seahawks – Reggie Ragland ILB, Alabama

The Seahawks need to fill some gaps on defense.  With the departure of Bruce Irvin Seattle has an opening at linebacker and with the talent they already have on defense Ragland will not be asked to do much.  This would be an ideal fit for both parties.  Ragland will be entered into an established defense where he will not be asked to do too much and the Seahawks will get a solid starter that will not miss too many assignments.

27) Green Bay Packers – Jarran Reed DT, Alabama

The sudden departure of B.J. Raji has left a glaring hole in an already porous defense.  Reed is a solid defensive lineman that can be placed at defensive end or nose tackle in the 3-4 defense and with Clay Matthews manning the middle, a lot of rookie mistakes will be covered up.

28) Kansas City Chiefs – Mackensie Alexander CB, Clemson

When you are drafting this late in the first round the prime pickings are usually taken.  The Chiefs could go for the best of positions that have not been picked clean, such as guard, center, and tight end, but I do not see that happening.  I think they want to fortify their defense and I think they will do so with Alexander.

29) Arizona Cardinals – William Jackson III CB, Houston

Obviously we have a run on cornerbacks on the back end of the draft here.  With the NFL’s transition to a spread offense, pass-oriented style of game play teams are desperate for pass-rushers and cover-corners.  So like the Chiefs and Steelers I think the Cardinals will add an extra defensive back to fortify their depth.

30) Carolina Panthers – Jordan Howard RB, Indiana

Personally I am not a huge fan of this pick at this point in the draft, but after reviewing Carolina’s needs and the talent available I think they are going to go running back.  Jonathan Stewart is a solid back, but he is no game-breaker, plus he has more than a few miles on his tires.  They need another back to at least rotate in with Stewart.  Howard would provide a good counterpunch and I think would mesh better with the style of offense Carolina runs as opposed to a Derrick Henry from Alabama, who I do not believe is fluid enough to operate in that run game.

31) Denver Broncos – Conor Cook QB, Michigan State

Denver is not going anywhere with Mark Sanchez.  Even if they pull off a deal for someone like Colin Kaepernick or reach an agreement with Ryan Fitzpatrick, neither of them would likely be the long term solution.  Broncos will and should draft a quarterback in one of the first three rounds and I think it will be Conor Cook at #31.

32)***There is no #32 because the Patriots had it taken from them***

This just tickles me pink.

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