Category Archives: Football

luke-joeckel

AFC South Draft Grades

Tennessee Titans 
Tennessee Titans have been disappointed for awhile with the team a performance of late. Even the rushing stats took a hit under the first year head coach Mike Munchak. I think they addressed the odfensive line with big Chance Warmack from Alabama. Kid is massive and if anyone saw Manti Teo’s lowlights on ESPN, Warmack was the guy continuously climbing up on him every play. He moves well for his size and is accustomed to the zone rushing attack Tennessee will use with Chris Johnson. He has opened the way for guys like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Lacy. Warmack has the ability to be a consistent staple on the Titans line for years to come. They added former Volunteer wideout, Justin Hunter to a decent receiving core headed by Justin Britt. Hunter has the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point and beat corners deep. They addressed needs at corner and linebacker with Blidi Breh-Wilson and Zavier Gooden, respectively. Brian Schwenke will help out the center position, while Lavar Edwards will be looked upon to add depth to the defensive line.
Overall Grade: B

Indianapolis Colts 
The Colts became firm that the Peyton Manning era was over, after they selected Luck with the second pick in last years draft. After a surprising playoff birth, the Colts looked to build upon last years success with a couple of intricate picks. Colts added German born Seminole, Bjoern Wergner. I was impressed with his athletic ability at Florida State and has real high motor. I believe he will add a decent pass rush to team that had a hard time getting to the quarterback in 2012. One of the biggest problems the colts had was not the ability to get to the quarterback, but to protect their own. They added depth with selections of Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thornton who both can play multiple positions on the line. Montorri Hughes can be a huge asset if he proves he has matured after being dismissed from Tennessee, which forced him into the FCS. If developed, can be a nice piece at a 4-3 nose tackle spot.

Overall Grade: C

luke-joeckel

Jacksonville Jaguars 
The Jaguars had one of my favorite drafts this year. They added a franchise building player with Joeckel, who I thought would go number one, and they added plenty of speed to one of the slowest rosters in the league. Hopefully with a stable left tackle, the Jags can develop Gabbert the way they want too. I’m still not sold on Gabbert and many looked for them to take a quarterback, which they kind of did when they drafted Dennard Robinson. He was announced as a runningback/returner but don’t be surprised if  he ales a couple of snaps at quarterback in the Pre-season. Remember, the Jags went through the same process with matt Jones who was a quarterback at Arkansas, before becoming a capable wideout for them. They also added dynamic returner Ace Sanders, who is guy I liked watching at South Carolina. Denfensively, they added plenty of secondary ep and tremendous ball hawker in FIU standout, Johnathan Cyprien. He can cover like a corner on slots, and play a the eighth man in the box. They drafted two corners, another safety to add depth. They are probably nowhere near contending for the AFC South crown, but this draft seems (for the moment) to be a promising start.
Overall Grade: B

Houston Texans 
The Texans finally broke last year and headed into this off season in a unfamiliar role, adding assets not rebuilding. They add DeAndre Hopkins to an already explosive offense. He will line up opposite of perennial All-Pro, Andre Johnson at receiver. Safety DJ Swearinger from South Carolina, is a hard hitter who will eventually replace Ed Reed but look for him to make an impact on all special teams. Texans also add a potential pass rusher with Sam Montgomery from LSU. great player, great athleticism but (along with Mingo) was listed by Les Miles as someone who does not always work hard. Trevardo Williams at linebackers gives them great value for the 124th pick as a linebacker. I also like Quessenberry from San Jose St. At the guard/tackle spot.
Overall Grade: B

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Matt Elam

AFC North Draft Grades

Pittsburgh Steelers 
The Steelers went about their business this draft as usual, but with more holes than we are used to seeing. They lose Mike Wallace, Jamie Harrison, and they have been lacking a quality running back. They added toughness and playmaking at Harrison’s spot, by drafting Georgia Bulldog standout Jarvis Jones. Many were pushed away after his pro day, but he was coming off an injury but he is a guy that fits the Steelers tough, hard-nosed culture. Markus Wheaton form Oregon St., will provide a possible slot threat and a guy who can take a five yard under route, for a big gain. I really like the pick up of  Le’Veon Bell because he has never been seriously injured in college, which has plagued the Steelers recently, and he is a workhorse. He is a big guy, again like Jones, and very tough and  a hard nosed runner. Shamarko Thomas is an enforcer at safety but lacks ideal height for a defensive back (5’9″). However, kid has a tremendous grit after losing both parents in college and now has his six siblings to look after, he will  definitely be someone to root for. Landry Jones could be the possible predecessor of Big Ben but he maybe counted on early due to Roethelisberger  consistently being injured throughout the season. Hawthorne adds value for them as a corner and look for them through rookie free agency to help out the aging secondary.
Overall Grade: B

Matt Elam

Baltimore Ravens
Many were left confused when the Super Bowl champion Ravens decided to let the perceived successor of Ray Lewis’ spot in the middle, Dan Ellerbe and playoff standout, Paul Kruger leave for other teams during free agency. Bernard Pollard was also released in the off-season. To make matters worst, they traded Anquan Boldin to the 49ers and lost future Hall of Famer Ed Reed to the Texans. They did however, resign quarterback Joe Flacco to what was the top contract for any quarterback in the league, until Aaron Rogers contract extension this weekend ($40 million /year). To fill the void of Reed, they drafted Matt Elam, an undersized but heavy hitter at safety who displayed play making abilities that they will miss without Reed. They followed that pick with a great choice in grabbing Arthur Brown from K-State. A sideline to sideline guy, who can make plays in the backfield and in the passing game. They add nose tackle Brandon Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk who will likely replace Vonta Leach. They do pick up a Boldin type of player in FCS WR Aaron Mallette. A big bodied wide out with great quickness and strong hands, but he will not beat most NFL corners deep.
Overall Grade: B+

Cleveland Browns
The Browns were without many choices this draft, as they only had 5 picks in this year draft. They did pick up Barkevious Mingo from LSU who has the potential to be a premier pass rusher. However, former head coach Les Miles listed him, and numerous other LSU players, as troublesome and reluctant to work hard everyday. He will have to be consistent to be productive in the NFL. They pick up a cornerback in Leon McFadden who will start outside, but is better suited as the nickel. Fighting Irish safety Jamoris Slaughter, provides depth depth, and value as a sixth round pick. He is more comfortable playing in the box, then covering bigger TE’s and quicker receivers.
Overall Grade: B-

Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers went about their business this draft as usual, but with more holes than we are used to seeing. They lose Mike Wallace, Jamie Harrison, and they have been lacking a quality running back. They added toughness and playmaking at Harrison’s spot, by drafting Georgia Bulldog standout Jarvis Jones. Many were pushed away after his pro day, but he was coming off an injury but he is a guy that fits the Steelers tough, hard-nosed culture. Markus Wheaton form Oregon St., will provide a possible slot threat and a guy who can take a five yard under route, for a big gain. I really like the pick up of  Le’Veon Bell because he has never been seriously injured in college, which has plagued the Steelers recently, and he is a workhorse. He is a big guy, again like Jones, and very tough and  a hard nosed runner. Shamarko Thomas is an enforcer at safety but lacks ideal height for a defensive back (5’9″). However, kid has a tremendous grit after losing both parents in college and now has his six siblings to look after, he will  definitely be someone to root for. Landry Jones could be the possible predecessor of Big Ben but he maybe counted on early due to Roethelisberger  consistently being injured throughout the season. Hawthorne adds value for them as a corner and look for them through rookie free agency to help out the aging secondary.
Overall Grade: B

Geno Smith draft

AFC East Draft Grades

New England Patriots 
The Patriots are my favorite team to watch draft because even when it seems like the guy they wanted is gone, they still get the guy they want. They always have a well, devised plan and they execute it like no other. More praise goes to Belichick than the front office, after witnessing the failed “Patriot Project” by Scott Pioli with the Chiefs. I digress, the Patriots added two quality receivers in Marshall’s Aaron Dobson (Look up his one handed catch, SICK!) and TCU’s Josh Boyce. Dobson provides a big leaper with deep threat ability, kind of like another former Patriot and Marshall player…. I won’t do it. Boyce will provide a speedy, quick threat in the slot and we know Brady loves his slot receivers. Rutger teammates Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan will provide depth to an often inconsistent Patriots secondary. Scouts believe Harmon has an above average amount of potential. Many experts believe one of the best valued picks for the Patriots was Fighting Illini, Michael Buchanan. Buchanan will play the hybrid linebacker/rush end and hopefully provide a pass rush to a middle of the pack sack team last season.

Overall grade: B

Geno Smith draft

New York Jets
The circus in the New Yorks Jet’s quarterback meeting room added another act, when Geno Smith was selected in the second round. Talk about a rough drop by Smith. New York is a mess. Rex Ryan is searching for tattoo removal services, Mark Sanchez ran into another one of his linemen’s bumber in the parking lot, he fumbled his phone and Tim Tebow is still running through the sprinklers shirtless. Where is the clown? By the way they just traded Darrelle Revis, its not looking good. They add Alabama cornerback Dee Millner, who’s injuries seemed to stack up as his career ended in Tuscaloosa. Sheldon Richardson , who was the only glimmer of light in Mizzou’s SEC debut year, will provide quality depth at the defensive line. Brian Winters has the ability to be quality asset as a starter, or provide much needed depth. A lot of talk will be about what to do with Sanchez and Tebow and Geno and veteran David Garrad joins the Jets organization.
Overall Grade: D+

Miami Dolphins
The Dolphin will be remembered initially in the draft for not what they did get, but what they did not. It was publicly announced that the Chiefs were trying to send Brandon Alberts to Miami, in exchange for their second round pick and other picks possibly. The dolphins refused and opted for the services of Former Volunteer Dallas Thomas. Scouts praised him for his versatility and the ability to play more than one spot on the offensive line . However, many questioned his ability to fill the void left by All-Pro tackle Jake Long (STL). He will definitely need development and time. I do like what they did defensively in adding a potential game changer in Dion Jordan, who will become the sack-mate of current Dolphin, Chris Wake. They add two corners and Florida linebacker, Jelani Jenkins who provide depth.
Overall Grade: C-

Buffalo Bills
The Bills pulled one of the first controversial moves in the draft by taking a quarterback at the sixteen spot. That’s not the surprising thing, most heads jerked when not Smith, not Nassib, nor Jones, Bray, but Manuel. The former signal caller joins the Bills, to become what they believe to be the future of the dismantled franchise. With Kevin Kolb there already, look for Manuel to sit and learn early. Robert Woods and former Texas track/football standout Marquise Goodwin as potential weapons for Kolb/Manuel. Also, they get a quality pass threat in Arkansas Tight End Chris Gragg. Defensively, they address the need for linebacker with the pick up of Kiko Alonso, who showed flashes of play making ability at Oregon. Also, they add two safeties in Duke Williams and Johnathan Meeks in back to back rounds. Manuel and Woods can be big pick ups if developed properly, however the bills have had a tough time of late doing so. Big risk with both.
Overall Grade: C+

Michael Rose

NFL DRAFT

NFL Fraternity

The NFL fraternity is one the most prestigious organizations in America. It could be argued as more exclusive than Harvard, even more exclusive than Yale’s secret society. Something about the name, better known by three letters to its biggest advocates. Its something about the tradition. Something about the names of former pledges such as Walter, Montana, Rice, Sanders, Taylor. Even now as the torch has been handed to the likes of Brady, Manning, Peterson, Revis. Though the fraternity ages, every year new pledges are allowed in, given the opportunity to put their stamp on the already tremendous legacy established by the previously mentioned and others. Unlike the fraternities scene on a nearby campus, the chances of a pledge being accepted into the NFL is not based on how little or how much money one has. Neither is it based off of a family legacy.

NFL DRAFT

This exclusive organization rarely allows in those who are not capable of taking on the enormous responsibility that comes along with wearing infamous stitching on ones jersey. Now there are those who make their way into the fraternity who were able to hide their flaws well during the interview process. They were able convince many the hype surrounding them was real. Names that come to mind such as Russell, Leaf, Bosworth, all the quarterbacks drafted before Tom Brady. Their true value to the organization was quickly seen, which resulted in the termination of the relationship. Others were questioned about whether they belonged in the exclusive group, but have proven themselves and have become intricate members to the society. Thursday on primetime television, nearly 250 of the applicants will be welcomed in. While the other 3500 draft eligible players either hang up their cleats or wait for a free agent contract. The NFL’s acceptance rate is about 7%. To gain a comparison, Columbia University has an acceptance rate of 7.4%, yeah pretty exclusive. Names such as Geno Smith, Teo, Millner, Lacy will be revealed along with others. Some will have high over bearing expectations, while others will simply be over looked. Many people look at the game of football as just that, a game. However, the NFL has given the chance of a lifetime for young men to play the game they love and also take care of those who have supported them throughout their long, hard fought journey. New faces will line the aged, old halls of the glorious frat house in Canton, Ohio but the game remains live and well.

Michael Rose

Panthers Chiefs Football.JPEG-0f383

A Manic Monday

A Monday afternoon in Kansas City is normally nothing special. People are at work and kids are at school, typically a slow day for Kansas Citians. March 4th was anything but a normal Monday for Kansas City. The Kansas City Chiefs resigned punter Dustin Colquitt and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, and placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert.

Colquitt’s five year, $18.75 million deal with $8.9 million guaranteed, has made him the highest-paid punter in the NFL. Throughout his eight year career, Colquitt has punted the ball 657 times with an average of 44.7 yards per punt. 250 of these punts have pinned opponents inside the twenty yard line. He also attended the Pro Bowl last season for the first time in his career.

USA Today
USA Today

Dwayne Bowe will remain in Kansas City after agreeing to a five year deal worth $56 million with $26 million guaranteed. Although his performance last year was sub-par in terms of scoring, catching only three touchdowns, Bowe was still able to reel in 59 passes despite quarterback issues plaguing the Chiefs all season.  The Chiefs must be confident that their incoming quarterback, Alex Smith, will be able to help jumpstart Bowe’s performance from a lackluster last season to a renewed outbreak this year.
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Branden Albert will get a one year, fully guaranteed $9.8 million contract, and has the opportunity to work out a long-term deal with the Chiefs before July 15. In addition to his contract, the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Albert, mere minutes before the assigned deadline.

With the franchise tag being placed on Albert, questions have been raised regarding the Chiefs first-overall pick of the 2013 draft. Left tackle Luke Joekel from Texas A&M seemed the easy pick, but with Albert staying, the Chiefs have new options open to them. They may go ahead and take Joekel, looking to move either him or other players around on the offensive line. Another option is to trade their pick, similar to the St. Louis Rams last year, and look to receive more picks to gain more development-needed players.

Any way you look at it, the Chiefs have made many much-needed changes this season, these contract-renewals being the most recent of their off-season cleaning. Will this new and improved Chiefs team’s gambles on a nearly entirely new system pay off? Only time will tell, as the start of the season is still an agonizing six months away.  The Chiefs’ first game is on September 8.

On a side note, the Chiefs released right tackle Eric Winston this week, who made headlines last season with his rant against Chiefs’ fans. Early since his release, other AFC West teams have shown interest in him, especially the Raiders. He is sure to find a much more mellow and accepting fan base awaiting him.

Michael Mayer

Chiefs Future

While I am not an expert on free agency and the draft, I am entitled to my opinion. So here it is. The Kansas City Chiefs could not have picked a better year to get the first pick of the draft. I mean heck, there are tons of elite quarterbacks this year. Just our luck. The only year that would have been better would have been the 2007 draft. Heck we would probably be in the Super Bowl with JaMarcus Russell marching down the field. With all jokes aside Chiefs fans are starting to feel like the Royals. Last year there were organization changers like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and this year there are… defensive tackles and offensive tackles. Although football is a game won in the trenches, teams must have a quarterback to manage the game.

Picture from Toledoblade.com
Picture from Toledoblade.com

With the recent releases of Kevin Boss and Steve Breaston, the Chiefs will be looking to fill these holes in the draft or free agency. Since the draft is too hard to predict from this far out, I will look at free agents. For starters, the Chiefs need to wrap up Dwayne Bowe or sign a top receiver such as Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, or Danny Amendola. In my opinion, the Chiefs should do everything they can to sign Amendola. After watching him every week since I live in St. Louis now I can say he is more than a game changer. Although Amendola has battled nagging injuries the past season, when healthy Sam Bradford targeted him on which seemed like every passing down. My last thought on the wide receiver position is the Chiefs should look to steal the humble Titus Young. While Young may not be Calvin Johnson, he does have playmaking abilities. If Andy Reid could discipline Young and keep him focused he could be a successful slot receiver to open the field for Bowe on the outside.

Now here is my Madden experience talking. The Chiefs should trade down to around the eighth pick and draft Sharrif Floyd. Mel Kiper and I actually agree that Floyd would be able to be the sheriff on the defensive line that they have been looking for in Dontari Poe and Glenn Dorsey. By trading down the Chiefs would be able to acquire additional picks that could be used to trade for an additional second round pick. With that pick they could take Matt Barkley or Geno Smith if either are available.

What the Chiefs actually do in the draft all depends on if the Chiefs use their franchise tag on Brandon Albert. If they do they will most likely lose Dwayne Bowe to free agency that would kill the already lackluster passing game. If the Chiefs decide to put the tag on Bowe they will lose Brandon Albert. I think the Chiefs can’t afford to lose Bowe because they will not be able to sign an elite receiver to replace him. The Chiefs would be able to then draft offensive tackle Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M. Lastly, the reason I have yet to address the need at the quarterback position is because I don’t see major changes. I would not be surprised to see Cassel taking snaps under center next year. The other option that looks to be coming to front of conversation is signing trading for Nick Foles who Reid picked last year with the Eagles. Reid clearly raves about this kid because of his size and potential. The Eagles have made it known that it will take a big package trade to pry him away. This is why I think the Chiefs need to do there homework and attempt to find a Tom Brady or at least a poor mans Tom Brady late in the draft and let him learn by seeing all the mistakes Matt Cassel will make next year. Last option for the Chiefs at quarterback will not happen but I would like to see the Chiefs take a look at Ryan Mallett who is backing up Tom Brady.

Spencer Montgomery

National Signing Day

The most stressful day in recruiting is clearly National Signing Day. Decisions made by 18 year old “men” can determine a program’s future. There can only be one team that is happy with a decision. That means three or four schools have their heart ripped out and thrown away. National Signing Day is a war. Coaches have been on the recruiting trail for years building relationships with these recruits and their families. This year is filled on the defensive side of the ball with players like Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Hargreaves, Chris Jones, and Jaylon Smith. This year is exceptionally filled with NFL caliber cornerbacks. This select group is led by Florida commit Vernon Hargreaves and Tre’Davious White. According to Rivals.com this class features four 5-star corners.

There are always winners and losers from NSD and it is clear that the biggest winner is Ole Miss. While the commitment from Nkemdiche was expected, closing and executing was crucial for    Hugh Freeze and the rest of his staff. Along with getting Nkemdiche to sign his name on the dotted line, they were able to sign three more 5-star recruits according to 247sports.com. The most important player besides the 6’4” 285 beast on DE was signing a playmaker with the athleticism as Laquon Treadwell. The Ole Miss offense will rely on Treadwell immediately for explosiveness just as Clemson did with Sammy Watkins his freshman year. Also on the offensive side of the ball is OT Laremy Tunsil.

The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post
The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post

The best overall class is hands down Alabama. No surprise here. Nick Saban and his staff were able to continue the momentum from the beating the laid upon Notre Dame. Bama was able to build upon another great defense with 5-star defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster will follow in the footsteps that have been laid forth by Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley. The one thing these three linebackers all have in common is the ability to follow the ball and attack at the point of contact. Foster recorded 80 tackles and 6 sacks in his senior year. The 6’2” 242 linebacker looks to be in the rotation for the 2013 season.

The team that underperformer for the 2013 class would be Stanford. While they were limited in their number of scholarships, I still expected a team that has had so much success in recent years to build a better class. The bright spot of their 2013 class is the quarterback out of Virginia Ryan Burns. Burns stands in at 6’5”218 pounds so size is a major plus when analysts have graded him. 247sports.com graded Burns all the way to a 92/100. The major let down for Stanford and David Shaw is only signing two players in the trench for offense. Center Thomas Oser and OT Tyler Bright both earned three stars. Shaw has instilled bullying the Pac 10 as a trademark.It will be hard in the future to dominate the line of scrimmage with only 2 lineman signed. This was a major whole in the class that brought their rankings into the 60’s.

A couple of teams that also came up short this year according to the rankings would be Oklahoma and Oregon. While Oregon can slightly blame this on Coach Kelly jetting to the NFL so late in the recruiting process, Oklahoma just whiffed on there top recruits. Oklahoma, usually a dominating team on the recruiting pitch was unable to sign a single 5-star according to rivals.com. This is astounding because of the dominance they have had on the Midwest stars. One team that made a huge jump in the rankings is Kansas. Usually it is rival Kansas State that runs the Junior College crew but Coach Weis was able to snag 20 JUCO players DT Marquel Combs. Combs comes in as a 4-star and the highest rated JUCO player for this years class.

Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com
Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com

Did you really think I would go this far and not tell you about the most important teams recruiting class? That’s right the Gators had one of the best classes because of how they filled their class. Will Muschamp has a liking to sign one quarterback a class and he achieved that with the record setting Max Staver. Hargreaves should lineup as a starter next year at cornerback and early enrollee Kelvin Taylor should split carries with sophomore Matt Jones. The most impressive feature of this dominant class is having signed 12 lineman. Muschamp has been extremely successful with signing highly regarded linemen such as D.J. Humphries from the 2012 class. Also, Florida’s staff was able to sway Alex Anzalone from Notre Dame and get him to early enrollee.
My final thought is that the NCAA needs to move back the National Signing Day around 2 months so coaches have more time to get to evaluate recruits. Also, this should be able to cut so many early commitments. While yes this would cut down on some of the recruitment circuses we have this year. Players will be able to take more visits and evaluate his options with a more informed belief.

Spencer Montgomery