Wednesday, April 13, 2005Mock Draft (Round 1 Completed)
The top pick in the Sporting Fools' mock draft has a local appeal to the 49ers.
1 San Francisco -- Aaron Rodgers, QB, California
Cesar: Smith and Rogers is a pure toss up. Rodgers has more than star quality...he's got a better arm and can do more NOW for the 9er's than Smith. He will simply put more asses in the stands to add to the 49er bottom line.
2 Miami -- Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
Corey: With a team like Miami, you need to cover a lot of holes so I think they will trade down for extra picks, but Brown gives them a franchise running back at #2.
3 Cleveland -- Alex Smith, QB, Utah
Cesar: An automatic pick for Cleveland. No brainer.
4 Chicago -- Mike Williams, WR, Southern Cal
Corey: Chicago wants a linebacker to move Brian Urlacher to the outside, but Derrick Johnson isn't just a reach at 4, it's a prayer. So being burned by Michigan receivers in the past, the Bears will go with the more talented and less refined receiver in Williams.
5 Tampa Bay -- Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, RB, Auburn
Cesar: The Buccaneers have a red carpet prepared for this gentleman that has the physical abilities to fit Coach Gruden's style of running. Charlie Garner is that man, but he is coming off an injury and is on his 13th year as a professional. Enter the young-n-slashy buck from Auburn who can hit the home run.
6 Tennessee --Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami
Corey: Tennessee lost a lot through cap issues and I expect they will use to draft to go primarly defense. Rolle is a big, lockdown corner and a good place to start.
7 Minnesota (from Oakland) -- Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
Cesar: Well, Minny dealed Moss to Cali for many reasons, one big one being that they knew they had a chance to draft a stud WR due to their #7 overall. This will help the fans Moss hangover...somewhat.
8 Arizona -- Alex Barron, OT, Florida State
Corey: A reach? Sure, but they need to protect Kurt Warner and with a quarterback that immobile and that fragile, he needs the best protection that draft can offer. The Cardinals will trade for Travis Henry to get the running back they need.
9 Washington -- Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas
Cesar: Fred Smoot is gone. Does a Pac-Man Jones look tempting? Yes. Rod Gardner is gone as well...how does a WR like Troy Williamson sound? Great!
But Antonio Pierce is gone too. When you have a someone like this left on the board, you take him and make the necessary adjustments from ILB to OLB or whatever.
10 Detroit -- Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin
Corey: This draft has officially jumped the shark with the last three picks. All the blue chippers are gone and many of the second-tier first rounders share positions and will be rated different. In year 5 of Matt Millen's 25-year rebuilding program in Detroit sees him taking a Big 10 prospect that was thought to be a Top 5 pick before slipping late. Decent value, may or may not be better than Marcus Spears or Dan Cody.
11 Dallas -- Jamaal Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Cesar: Dallas is in sort of a dilemma here. So many juicy picks to choose from. Parcells loves to run the ball and dominate the line of scrimmage. Hence this pick.
12 San Diego (from New York Giants) -- Marcus Spears, DE, LSU
Corey: The Chargers believe they can get a receiver at #28 or in the second round so they'll take the best DE on their board. Tall, long guy like Spears can do serious damage if he gets his motor running.
13 Houston -- Thomas Davis, S, Georgia
Cesar: To what already is a stud secondary, the glaring weakness to this team is their safety position. This man is a difference maker.
14 Carolina -- Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina
Corey: Carolina has a need for speed to replace Mushin Muhammad, the Panthers really don't have many holes and could trade up for Williams or Edwards, but at this spot Williamson is fine.
15 Kansas City -- Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
Cesar: KC's secondary is so bad, that any average QB could torch them. Pac-Man Jones is still on the board and seems like a better fit b/c of his covering speed and return skills. But the Chiefs have Dante Hall for the latter. This other choice represents a huge stepping stone into developing a respectable secondary; a physical specimen who can intimidate wideouts.
16 New Orleans -- Dan Cody, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
Corey: New Orleans needs playmakers on defense, Cody can be a down lineman or a linebacker in a 3-4, the type of guy that Jim Haslett likes.
17 Cincinnati -- Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State
Cesar: Anyone who knows Coach Marvin Lewis, knows defense. They were hoping New Orleans would take Cody; and their hopes became reality. This is the beast they wanted all along.
18 Minnesota -- Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
Corey: Minnesota has a very talented stable of backs but none of them could be considered franchise. With Benson they might get Top 10 value in the second half of the draft. Expect Michael Bennett to be traded later in the day if this pick happens, especially the Travis Henry-to-Arizona deal doesn't work out.
19 St. Louis -- David Pollack, DE/OLB, Georgia
Cesar: Grant Wistrom was never really replaced last year. Pollack is the type of DE that fits the Rams' defensive scheme. Martz has landed an upper tier 1st rd value in this collegiate sack artist.
20 Dallas (from Buffalo) -- Shaun Cody, DE/DT, Southern Cal
Corey: The Cowboys almost thought about taking a reach here and choosing Channing Crowder because he reminds Parcells a little of LT. But they need to get bigger on the line. A small DT or a large DE, Cody is a hellraiser.
21 Jacksonville -- Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, CB, West Virginia
Cesar: Jones is a top 10 pick on mostly all genuine mock boards. Why has he yet to be snatched? Well, there are question marks due to inconsistency. He's not tall, but with a 4.38 40 speed and phenomenal playmaking abilities, Jacksonville will be hard-pressed to let him go. Defense continues to rule the 1st Rd.
22 Baltimore -- Daryl Blackstock, OLB, Virginia
Corey: The Ravens need better play from the outside backers and while they also liked Crowder, he's reluctant to leave the middle and that's Ray's house. Blackstock is a little raw but he's got a lot of intensity.
23 Seattle -- Shawne Merriman, DE/OLB, Maryland
Cesar: How in the world can a player of this magnitude still be on the board? Seattle's defense is in serious need of linebacking assistance. Pass rushers are always at a premium in the NFL and this guy could be a stud in that regard whether it be standing up or with his hand down. Most likely will be converted to an OLB.
24 Green Bay -- Corey Webster, CB, LSU
Corey: After last year's playoff loss to Minnesota, Green Bay realizes they need help on defense and most importantly against the pass. Webster is a highly decorated corner from one of the top defenses in college football.
25 Denver -- Justin Miller, CB, Clemson
Cesar: Denver has needs in the CB dept. The big 3: Rolle, Rogers, and Jones are gone...no surprise there. However, it was a surprise to see Green Bay oversee the the talents of this player. He has just about everything the NFL is looking for in a top flight corner.
26 N.Y. Jets -- Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska
Corey: The run on cornerbacks continue. The Jets have several areas they need to fill holes and corner is probably the most desperate of those. Washington has great speed and a great name to boot.
Cesar: Arggghh...I wanted the Giants to get him! Gang green has stolen my pick!
27 Atlanta --Kevin Burnett, OLB, Tennessee
Cesar: Now it's getting tougher. Atlanta had their eyes set on Shaun Cody, to only see him snagged 7 picks ago. The glaring need is as at DT and secondarily at LB. The DT pool is thinning, but there still remains a richness of LB'ers. Therefore, this stud cannot be foregone. His athleticism and physical tools are out of this world.
Corey: Wow I thought Atlanta would definitely go with Crowder on that pick.
28 San Diego -- Matt Jones, QB/WR/TE, Arkansas
Corey: He says he wants to be a wide receiver and he can't be a tight end in San Diego's offense since Antonio Gates has that spot on lock. Still at 6'6 and running a 4.4, this guy is an amazing athlete and the type of player that can cause all kinds of mismatches.
Cesar: What a surprise at #28. That's what the draft is all about baby!
29 Indianapolis -- Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan
Cesar: Yes, there is no controversy with this coming selection. Channing Crowder and Anttaj Hawthorne are two top delicacies waiting to be served to the Colts organization. But, with the CB position being paper thin, this veteran from Michigan is the top dish.
30 Pittsburgh --Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington
Corey: Typical Pittsburgh pick, no flash but good value, good player who won't cost too much in a rookie contract. They need help in a few spots but protecting Big Ben and finding lineman for the running game is always the top priority.
Cesar: Pittsburgh fans were screaming at that pick! Heath Miller, alongside his agent , were expecting to be called out. But, the Steelers FO likens this big stud to protect Big Ben...not a flashy pick, but for a team that thrives on the run: I like it.
31 Philadelphia -- Channing Crowder, ILB, Florida
Cesar: For the other team in PA, the Eagles lost Ike Reese and Nate Wayne. Need say no more. Enter Mr. Florida.
Corey: ARRRRGHHH The Patriots were robbed.
32 New England -- Odell Thurman, ILB, Georgia
Corey: Since it'll be impossible to replace his leadership, you gotta replace Tedy Bruschi's talent. Thurman has a lot of off-field issues and its definitely a buyer beware pick. BUT Richard Seymour, a fellow Dawg, is there to keep him in line.
Mock Draft 2K5...
The draft will attempt to cover the next three rounds (101 picks) by next Friday. We (myself and my good friend Cesar) usually do 15-20 picks a day.
Cesar is picking the odd numbers in the first round and I'll be picking the even, some commentary may follow with each pick.
We're not forecasting trades, we're more or less looking at the position and the player...If trades happen, they happen...I assume Miami will try to trade down and Tampa Bay will try to trade up, but I can't predict those sort of things.
I hope you enjoy.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005Media Follies
Bo Knows Lawsuits..
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin [site] made a crucial mistake when they ran a story that accused Bo Jackson of using steroids. The paper has since retracted the quote and ran an apology the day after Jackson filed a lawsuit against the paper. [Knight-Ridder]
The reporter, Jim Mohr, attributed the quote to Ellen Coleman who he claims stated that "Jackson lost his hip due to anabolic steroid abuse."
Coleman denies making the statement and signed an affidavit saying so. Moreover Jackson's lawyer has a videotape of the conference and Coleman never mentions Jackson.
Despite the apology, Jackson will still sue and without any proof of the statement the paper has no choice but to fire the reporter and settle the lawsuit. You would hope that a reporter would never fabricate a statement and I hope, for his sake, that he has a very reliable tape recorder or he has ended his career and ruined the credibility of this newspaper in a very competitive metropolitan market.
The Two People He Didn't Meet in St. Louis
Mitch Albom really jumped the shark last week and because of it he's sitting out from the Detroit Free-Press for a while. No need to go into much explanation on this so I'll let the words speak for themselves.
The column and the infamous column lead. [Detroit Free-Press]
ST. LOUIS -- In the audience Saturday at the Final Four, among the 46,000 hoop junkies, sales executives, movie producers, parents, contest winners, beer guzzlers, hip-hop stars and lucky locals who knew somebody who knew somebody, there were two former stars for Michigan State, Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson.
They sat in the stands, in their MSU clothing, and rooted on their alma mater. They were teammates in the magical 2000 season, when the Spartans won it all. Both now play in the NBA, Richardson for Golden State, Cleaves for Seattle
The problem. It appears that neither Jason Richardson nor Mateen Cleaves made the flight to the game. Uh-oh, sounds like someone's been telling a fib.
Mitch's apology [link], notice how he mentions the editors first at the end. Little prick.
Free-Press editor's apology and discussion of ethics. [link]
Albom's been suspended and has fired up a storm of controversy, much of what comes from a column heavily criticizing Jayson Blair [link] a couple of years ago. Blair, as we all know, fabricated many stories for the New York Times.
The Chicago Tribune [link] did an excellent piece and asked for the opinions of fellow colleagues, college professors, editors, etc.
The consensus: Mitch Must Go.
Good thing for Mitch is that he's got something to fall back on. He has a strong audience for his radio show, a television presence and of course a couple of best-selling books. He'll be fine with or without the Free-Press.
But at the heart of his career and the thing that gave him everything he enjoys was his journalism. He may write another best-selling book, but he'll never be a credible journalist again. And oddly enough, just like Blair, Albom's downfall came with a common dose of lazy reporting and the need to tell a story rather than tell the truth.
Monday, April 11, 2005Still Undisputed...
Nine up, Nine down, nine more to go.
It definitely wasn't easy, but the excitement was great and the ratings prove that Tiger Woods remains golf's biggest draw, well above the other "Big Four". [Mediaweek]
So here's my analysis of the Masters in a Q & A format.
Did DiMarco Choke?
Yes, there's no way to hide that his 41 on the back nine Sunday morning was anything less than a choke, he was virtually unbeatable on this course otherwise and his lapse in the morning was the difference in the tournament. Otherwise he wins by at least 5 strokes.
That being said, he showed so much talent and he officially became the best player on tour not to win a major, zipping by the fading Sergio Garcia (what's happened to that guy?). I thought he was going to fold up tent early in the final round especially when the pyschology of watching Tiger hit his ball 50-70 yards farther got to him. But DiMarco stayed strong and was smart enough to stay out of Woods' way when he struggled.
However, DiMarco also missed four birdie putts inside of eight feet, that's inexcusable. And he made the same poor approach shot on 18 twice. Tiger corrected his mistake the second time and got the birdie putt instead of the more difficult chip-in.
How Many Majors for Tiger in 2005?
I say two, it's an easy answer because he is so at home in the British Open, which is where he's finished the highest at consistently during this "slump" and he loves the course at St. Andrews.
That being said, he could have three because if he's striking the ball well, Pinehurst No. 2 is a very long, very appealing course for him.
But I'm sticking with a win at the Masters and another one at the British Open, which means he will have won all four majors at least twice.
Will He Catch Nicklaus?
In terms of Masters...Absolutely. I do believe Woods will win 8 Masters as long at Hootie and the Hillbillies don't continue to try an handicap him, like with this recent hubbub about going to "Masters" only balls. [Knight-Ridder]. I don't understand the theory of lengthening the course and then shortening the ball distance unless the Masters wants +4 to start winning.
Otherwise I think Tiger is in great shape to have more green jackets than Nicklaus.
As for overall majors. That I don't know, 18 is a pretty daunting number, I mean Woods "only" has nine. 14-15 seems like a much more realistic number and given the talent in this era it's a very big accomplishment.
Best Win Ever?
I think so, this is only the second time he was truly challenged face up in the final round and unlike the perfect back nine he played against Bob May against the PGA he actually struggled down the stretch at Augusta.
He didn't have the momentum going into the playoff, having just bogeyed 18 and almost watching DiMarco win on a miracle chip-in. But he persevered and made the adjustment on his approach shot that DiMarco didn't.
This is his most memorable victory, from the chip on 16, to the dedication to his sick father, to the criticism he's received for trying to change his swing and getting married and losing focus and...whatever else they can pin on him. He dealt with a lot of adversity and hung in there. This was a hard victory to get.
Congrats to both men for a great Masters Sunday.
Sunday, April 10, 2005Sunday's Brunch
A Tradition Like No Other...No TV Allowed...
Last night when the Masters finished its day of play Chris DiMarco held a four-stroke lead over Tiger Woods. When CBS picks up coverage on Sunday, Dimarco will have a three-stroke deficit to Woods, a result of a major Sunday morning charge that saw Woods make seven birdies in a row and threaten a round of 62 before cooling off and finishing with a 65.
Unless you were there, you didn't see it. I understand that Hootie and the boys don't like to concede to change, but it would be cool if they acknowledge that the...19th century has happened.
Needless to say I think the tournament is over. Tiger isn't known for blowing final day leads at major tournaments and if it is over the best drama was saved for the highlight reel...Good job Augusta.
This is my column that ran on Friday. I'm talking about big, bad Alex Sanchez. [The Ledger] It got pretty good feedback.
My best friend Cesar and I will start the mock draft either at the end of this week or at the beginning of next week. I think we are going to try to do the first 3 rounds. Last year we only did 40 picks but we were pretty solid, even seeing Vince Wilfork slip to the Patriots, picking Vilma with the Jets and so forth.
As of now I have no clue who'll be the top choice. Luckily I won't picking it in the Mock Draft since I'll take the even choices (so I can make the Jets' pick, Cesar is a Giants fan, their first round choice is nonexistent).
The Niners have whittled it down to four [SF Chronicle]. None of which are the infamous Ron Mexico. He seems to have problems of his own [The Smoking Gun].
If I had to breakdown their four choices, here's what I think.
Alex Smith: He's still getting better, apparently his workout was the stuff made of legends. NFL.com's Gil Brandt said the following: [link]
I've been coming to private workouts for decades, but this is the first time I can remember a player receiving a standing ovation from his audience. He was lights out. Smith threw for 45 minutes, and in that time, only one ball wasn't catchable, and that was at the end of the session when [Steve] Savoy's tongue was hanging out after being run all over the field.
Aaron Rodgers: I dunno about this guy, something doesn't feel right. He's got great size, great accuracy, a pure cannon and one of the great QB gurus in Jeff Tedford as a coach. He also led Cal to their best season in many years, still something doesn't feel quite right. He had a strong workout and apparently its neck-and-neck between the two QBs.
Braylon Edwards: Most polished receiver in the draft (Mike Williams is more talented and younger) and a proven playmaker. This looks like a potential spot to trade down or its John York being cheap. The assumption is that no one outside of the Niners will rate Edwards ahead of Williams so they could trade down and possibly out of the top five.
Antrel Rolle: The wildcard in this foursome, this is obviously a trade down pick even though Rolle is gaining a good bit of steam. Obviously it'll be tough to justify picking a shut down corner on a team that so desparately needs offensive leadership. Even if he is as good as Rolle.
So it'll be interesting to see...Right now I think the Niners are leaning towards Rodgers or trading down.
Tomorrow I'll do my weekly baseball update...I swear!