Monday, November 21, 2011

2012 NFL Mock Draft 1-16

With almost every college football team contending for the BCS title game losing this weekend, I figured it would be a great time to point out who the individual winners will be in April's NFL draft.  Obviously, the draft order may change, but as of November 21, this is what I got:

Andrew Luck
1.  Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck (QB) Stanford: Was the most NFL-ready prospect last year and has done nothing to change that assessment.  The Colts will have to decide what to do with both Peyton Manning and Luck on the roster, but Manning will most likely dictate that decision and make it easy on general manager Bill Polian, anyway.

2.  St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil (OT) Southern Cal: Kalil has done a phenomenal job protecting Matt Barkley and his skills translate nicely to the NFL.  Rams quarterback of the future Sam Bradford was sacked a league-high 22 times before getting injured (due to the fact that he was taking constant punishment from the opposition.

3.  Carolina Panthers: Justin Blackmon (WR) Oklahoma St: Blackmon's freakish on-field talents instantly drew scouts to compare him with another recent Oklahoma State receiver: Dez Bryant.  Unlike Bryant, Blackmon combines his on-field talent with a hearty work-ethic and zero off-the-field issues.  Additionally, Steve Smith will be a 33-year-old receiver making close to $8 million next season.  Securing another weapon for rookie sensation Cam Newton will make this offense outright scary.

Jonathan Martin
4.  Minnesota Vikings: Jonathan Martin (OT) Stanford: When was the last time Stanford had two top-ten picks in the NFL draft?  That's right, never.  Minnesota may kick itself for drafting Christian Ponder with Matt Barkley still on the board here, but they'll take a standout tackle to protect their Ponder investment.

5.  Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley (QB) Southern Cal: This pick comes with a caveat: Robert Griffin III does not wow scouts with his throwing abilities at the combine/pro-day. Barkley has been the clear-cut #2 prospect for a while now, and some argue is closing the gap between him and Andrew Luck.  Miami has desperately needed a quarterback since Dan Marino retired.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples (DE) North Carolina: The Jags are a mess.  At this point, even Jack Del Rio knows that he is going to get fired and is going through the motions.  With Blackmon off the board and with questions about South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffries speed and route-running, the Jags focus on their defense, which has been good in the secondary, but terrible against the run, and Coples does a great job against the run and rushing the passer.

Robert Griffin III
7. Arizona Cardinals: Morris Claiborne (CB) LSU: Another team that is likely going to be facing a new coaching regime, and will need multiple pieces, so picking the best player available will apply, and his name is Morris Claiborne.  Pair him with fellow LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, and you have a pair of shutdown corners that will allow the Cardinals to blitz more at will.

8.  Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III (QB) Baylor: Redskins owner Dan Snyder will not be able to resist the temptation of landing one of the, if not the most, talented athletes in this year's draft.

Trent Richardson
9.  San Diego Chargers: Riley Reiff (OT) Iowa: San Diego's offensive line is in shambles, especially on the right side.  Even though Reiff has primarily played on the left side, a move to the right side should be relatively simple for the ultra-durable Hawkeye.  His mean streak in the run game combined with his quick feet for pass blocking make him one of the elite tackle prospects in the draft.

10.  Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson (RB) Alabama: Cleveland would be tickled pink if Richardson falls this far to them, and would not waste much time on the clock, either.  With Peyton Hillis likely leaving via free agency, this pick makes all the sense in the world.  So much so that the Browns will actually do it.

11.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB) Alabama: Tampa Bay's cornerback depth chart could look very bad if Aqib Talib goes to jail and if Ronde Barber retires.  Either way, cornerback would be a good spot to shore up and Kirkpatrick has shown a propensity to make plays against both the pass and the run.

Landry Jones
12.  Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly (ILB) Boston College: Doesn't have the ideal athleticism for the position, but his instincts and tackling have cemented him as a standout linebacker, and the Eagles need a blue-collar worker on that defense.  Kuechly could start on day one for Philadelphia given their lack of talent at the linebacker position.

13.  Seattle Seahawks: Landry Jones (QB) Oklahoma: The Tavaris Jackson/Charlie Whitehurst experiment has clearly failed in Seattle and Jones has shown the ability to accurately distribute the football, albeit in the spread offense.  If he improves his pocket presence, he will not be available at this spot in the draft. 

14.  Kansas City Chiefs: Vontaze Burfict (ILB) Arizona State: Kansas City just needs to get healthy with three vital pieces on IR by week 2 (Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, and Tony Moeaki).  Burfict is a best player available candidate given his raw ability and natural instincts.  I don't anticipate the Chiefs keeping this pick.

Michael Floyd
15.  Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd (WR) Notre Dame: What happened to that potent Bills passing attack?  That's right, other teams watched film and saw the lack of talent at WR and started pressing them.   Floyd makes a lot of sense here to help out newly-designated franchise quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

16.  New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw (DE/OLB) Alabama: Elite athleticism that is a perfect fit into Rex Ryan's 3-4 scheme.  Given his experience in Nick Saban's pro-style 3-4 at Alabama, it should give him the leg up on fellow linebacker prospect Ronnell Lewis out of Oklahoma.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Syracuse Joins Penn State Sex Scandal Family

Just when you thought that Penn State was in a class all by itself, breaking news into Syracuse shows that assistant coach, and heir apparent (sounding eerily similar, eh) Bernie Fine, has had illegal touching of young boys and has travelled with children on road trips.  Additionally, news is starting to break that head coach and Syracuse icon Jim Boeheim knew about it and did nothing.  If true, look for the city of Syracuse to act as inappropriately as State College.  As one grad student, if similar events transpire and this leads to the firing of Jim Boeheim, I will NOT be upset nor will I be protesting, and I will be encouraging others to do the same.

Once again, breaking news into SportsbyGotti that Sracuse Orange assistant coach Bernie Fine has been charged with illegal touching of young boys and traveling with said boys on road trips.  Additionally, Jim Boeheim identified by name as a party with knowledge of the situation and not taking any action.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Real Truth Behind the Paterno Firing

Listening to the news reports and other blogs, you'll hear reporters and writers pontificate that Penn State fired Paterno because of the moral obligation it has as an institution.  They'll talk about how Paterno failed to protect the victims and didn't completely fulfill his duties as the head football coach and as one of the most powerful people at the university.  Another writer on this site, Gotti, wrote a good article detailing the callousness of the "protesters" of the firing.

However, the real reason why Paterno got fired is the same reason behind the NBA lockout as well as almost all business arguments: money.  Most people have this utopian idea that universities are higher-learning institutions that conduct independent research and educate our young adults before they are sent out into the real world.  I regret to inform you, that isn't the case.  University presidents and provosts are primarily measured on their ability to raise money.  The more money the university has, the better you can pay professors/coaches, provide state of the art research/athletic facilities, etc.  Universities get money in various fashions, but one big way is through donations.

The thing about the Paterno case is that the worst part has yet to happen.  We have seen some horrific details from the grand jury testimony and the stories about what the graduate assistant witnessed.  However, we have yet to hear everything the prosecution has up its sleeves.  To get the indictment, the prosecution only had to show enough evidence that there is reasonable suspicion that the crime the accused is being charged with had occurred.  It is a pretty low standard of burden for the prosecution.  Given that, there is no reason for the prosecution to show most of its hand.  Certainly during the trial, more details will come out and as that happens, people will start looking at the people in charge at Penn State and how they could have possibly missed these horrific acts.  While this negative attention will be bad enough on the university, it would be exponentially worse if people such as the president, AD and yes, the head football coach are still at the university.  Like it or not, these positions come with a certain level of responsibility and the individuals holding the position are held to higher standards.

In order to limit the hit on donation amounts and research grants being conducted at Penn State, the board of trustees had no choice but to clean house and distance itself as much as possible for this atrocious incident.  We can applaud the board for "doing the right thing" but make no mistake about it, if it was financially beneficial to keep Joe Paterno and/or the president, they board would have done it.  As always in business (yes, universities are businesses), follow the money!

Fight For People Who Can't Fight For Themselves

Penn State students (I will not call them protestors because they were just acting as students and not reasonably thinking adults) embarrassed themselves Thursday night by turning over cars and causing property damage in response to Penn State head coach Joe Paterno's firing.  Subsequent Facebook posts by current and former Penn State students have me so alarmed that I felt the need to blog about it.  I try to not let anything political dawn this website, but I can not sit idly by while sexual abuse of a ten-year-old child is not taken as seriously as it should.  As an avid sports fan, I understand that objectivity is difficult when it involves ones own team, but even I can separate the humanity of this issue vs. my loyalty to an institution.  For anyone that still is not disgusted that Penn State did not do more as an institution to prevent the clusterfuck that is the current investigation on sex abuse ON THE PENN STATE CAMPUS (I'll explain later why that is capitalized), these are the reasons why Penn State and everyone involved deserves any and all punishment they get:

  1. Penn State swept sexual abuse under the rug for the sake of College Football.  They knew about what had happened and did not take the right actions until it was way too late, and continued to allow Sandusky access to the University up to a week before today.  Sandusky has been barred from school districts and has taken small children to Penn State bowl games.  If you think this coverage is bad, just wait until the national freight train comes through State College.
  2. Jerry Sandusky recruited his victims through his "Second Mile" charity.  A Charity that Penn State sponsored after knowing about the allegations against Sandusky.  A charity that Paterno encouraged his players to volunteer. 
  3. As a public school educator (which all coaches are at Penn State), one is considered a first responder when witnessing a crime such as sexual abuse ON CAMPUS.  The fact that the child (who is the only victim so far) was not helped in any way, shape, or form while the crime was being committed and witnessed is the greatest travesty of all.
  4. Penn State, as a public school, "must disclose criminal offenses committed on campus each year." -US Department of Education
  5. Joe paterno was told about at least one victim of this grand jury testimony.  How do you NOT tell the police?  Especially when you are legally obligated to as a first responder.
This will be a permanent blight on Penn State (as it should) and the lack of action will hopefully spur a movement to prevent this from happening to another child.  Now that the national media and investigative journalists are in State College, the truth will come out, and not just what a small town wants us to hear, and I want everyone involved to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  If you do not agree, I feel sorry for you and hope that you receive help.