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First Round Mock

I often times will eschew starting off my annual draft coverage with a Mock Draft because I feel I need to more fully analyze the positions so that my loyal readership will have a thorough understanding of why their team is wasting a pick on Devon Still.

Because if nothing else, my thousands of blog and twitter followers know one thing – this is the only blog on the entire World Wide Web to get all the key information you need to know.  Justin Blackmon plays the drums…Joe Haluhuni’s nickname is “The Tank”…Michael Smith has 5 sisters…Eddie Pleasant was once less than satisfied after receiving a double chai latte (instead of a Cafe Americano) at the Eugene Starbucks on campus and that Nigel Bradham once killed an alligator with his bare hands, skinned and fried it over an open flame, in the process saving (and feeding) a family of four from Illinois who were vacationing in the Everglades.  On the down side, he has high-hips.

But as always, the draft has snuck up on me the way Helen Hunt sneaked into America’s heart shortly after the debut episode of “Mad About You.” With an obnoxious voice and a penchant to overact in lieu of true comedy chops.  But like Paul Reiser, that won’t stop me from having a solid 10 year run (if not more).

So I’ll piece together what I can in the coming days but here’s the 1,238,302th mock draft of 2012 – but this is the only one that counts…as well as Gil Brandt’s but very few people listen to NFL Radio.

1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford.
Can Indy get Lucky twice with Peyton 2.0? As long as rumors of crystal meth addiction are nothing more than vicious slander from this site, the answer is probably so.

2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Hard not to like this Baylor graduate, but Cam Newton’s success could make expectations unrealistic and going to the dysfunctional Redskins isn’t likely to help much.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Rumors of the Vikings trading this pick likely won’t come true because it’s the Vikings and they have a hard enough time drafting players on time little pull off a trade.  Listen, forget the 30 reps or projected LT stalwart status – he blocked 5 kicks in college!  That’s just 5 more than BK blocked shots during his barnstorming summer basketball tour of ’93.

4. CLEVELAND BROWNS – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Cleveland won’t draft Ryan Tannehill here for no particular reason other than the fact that Michael Holmgrem just won’t.  While it’s not hard to see Richardson as effective in the NFL with flashes, it’s harder to see him as a superstar in the show.  I thought it was right when initially he was projected between 15-20.  But as his draft status grows it seems like he may be overdrafted.

5. TAMPA BAY BUCANEERS - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Even if Cleveland doesn’t draft Richardson, I think Tampa Bay goes CB.  They have no corners left…Ronde Barber’s may go to safety and Aqib Talib is in prison.  But on the plus side, he’ll probably be able to finish his degree now.  So what if Claiborne scored a 5 on his wunderlik.  What do you expect from a General Studies major at Louisiana State.  What classes could that possibly consist of?  I’m assuming ball-room dance, a work-study at the Marine Biology lab, and a couple pass/fail Gerontology classes.  Rick Perry just got a 3 on his wunderlik and look at how well he’s done in life.  My bigger concern would be that he’s good but won’t be a shut-down corner in the NFL.

6. ST. LOUIS RAMS – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahome State
Recent hubalub has the Rams passing on Blackmon and going with MSU’s Fletcher Cox, but the recent signing of Kendall Lawford and Trevor Laws makes me think that the Rams are going Blackmon so he can give Sam Bradford a sleek target to underthrow.  Blackmon has silly-talent.  The two-time Belitnikoff winner got into a minor scrub off-the-field recently but as soon as he realizes that Dez Bryant is a clown that he needs not to emulate, he should be just fine.

7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
It’s just possible that if ownership was crazy enough to try and trade for Tim Tebow, maybe they’d draft Ryan Tannehill.  But they already invested into one 1-year starter that didn’t pan out in Blaine Gabbert, they couldn’t possibly go for another two-years in a row, could they?  It’d be great theater if they did, but instead I think you have to try and do the best you can to give Gabbert as much assistance as possible.  He was so girly in the pocket last year and with Michael Floyd too big a risk why not grab the big oaf from Iowa City.  Sure with short 33″ arms you’d like to think the Rilester could do more than 23 reps but he comes from an offensive line factory that if nothing else means he could settle into right tackle spot.  Even if he’s mediocre that makes him much better protection than incumbent Guy Whimper can provide.

8. MIAMI DOLPHINS – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
There’s a part of me that feels the Dolphins aren’t on the Tannehill bandwagon and if that’s true than maybe they take a chance on Michael Floyd here and hope either Matt Moore or David Garrard can find him.  Or they ignore their offensive needs and go with talent in Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples.  But I imagine if he’s around the Fins have no choice.  It is CRAZY that Tannehill is going in the first round at all, little Top 10.  It’s not that he’s an ex-receiver (BK was once a waiter before mastering the cliche’s of reality TV) it’s that he wasn’t that efficient in a pass-happy conference.  He strikes me as a classic combine/workout wonder that will struggle when in a game at this level.  Like my disappointment after sleeping with Megan Fox.  I should have just ignored the peer pressure and hid the sock with Tilda Swinton again.

9. CAROLINA PANTHERS – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Christmas comes early for Ron Rivera, if not Cam Newton, as this non-graduate from the academic powerhouse that isn’t Mississippi State arrives in Charlotte.  My feeling is that Cox still has room to grow – physically and as a player.  If he does, he could be that rare combination of stability and play-making ability on the inside.

10. BUFFALO BILLS – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
There’s a lot of different directions Buffalo can go in, but with owner Ralph Wilson close to passing to the other side, the Bills will take some chances.  This usually doesn’t turn out well – like when dying Washington Wizard owner Abe Pollan said he was all in and GM Ernie Grunweld interpreted that to mean he should trade a 1st round draft pick for Randy Foye.  That’s like trying to make a name at your senior prom by bringing Dahlia Denyle.  Either get Amia Miley or stay the course.  Like Denyle’s crippling addiction to opiates, the talented Floyd is an unfulfilled problem waiting for jail.  Here’s the thing: WR’s are a moody, whiny, self-important lot.  One drunken incident is “immaturity”; three is “stupidity”. Floyd also lacks explosiveness – like an alcoholic Vincent Jackson. On the plus side, if his football career doesn’t work out there is a crying need in Buffalo for Sociologists, which luckily enough for Michael is what he majored in.

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11. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Chiefs have sort of become to the NFL what “Castle” is to prime-time network TV.  Neither is particularly interesting but the Chiefs seem to manage to be moderately competitive and “Castle” brings in enough of a rating to hang around.  However, at least the Chiefs made some progress in the off-season…”Castle” is a lost cause.  Theoretically, the one glaring hole right now is Nose Tackle, which neither Brockers nor the other possible pick, Donateri Poe from Memphis, is and you could make a claim that Poe projects better in that role.  Poe was a combine superstar.  His 44 reps forced BK to change his pants, and the 4.56 20-yd shuttle and 4.98 40-dash are pretty sweet too.  But Poe was not a performer in college against mid-level competition.  Brockers was also inconsistent and didn’t lift at the combine but he had his moments at LSU and really only played one-year before leaving LSU early (although he only attended 2 General Studies classes while in Baton Rouge and one was a work-study mowing Les Miles’ lawn).  Romeo Crennel likes to think of himself as a guru of two things – Defense and Jelly Donuts.  And Brockers is really good at eating jelly donuts.  His ceiling seems much higher than Poe and my guess is KC takes the plunge.

12. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina
The so-called “experts” feel that the Seahawks have to get a pass-rushing defensive end and if Quentin Coples from UNC is still here Pete Carroll and friends will be tempted to jump on the full-of-potential “Q”.  In addition, Melvin Ingram was surprisingly un-impactful in the Senior Bowl.  But Ingram is coming off a much better senior-season against generally tougher competition than Coples (10 Sacks, 15 Tackles for a loss) and since he can play both end and OLB (where Seattle is playing Leroy Hill on far too many downs) Ingram seemingly makes a better pick.  With all of that said, I actually like USC’s Nick Perry in the long-run better than Coples or Ingram – who despite all his skill sometimes relys too much on the same moves figuring his skills will overcome work – like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Pirate Radio. But Perry would be considered a reach at 12 and if Carroll drafts a USC guy and it doesn’t work out everyone’s is going to make fun of him and it could shatter Carroll’s fragile sense of self.

13. ARIZONA CARDINALS – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Many times, BK has had his heart-broken.  Going to the Senior Prom with Kristen Gallagher; Not Having “Floatation Marks” accepted to the SlamDance film festival; Dave Meggett being accused of sexual misconduct; Esera Tuaolo not being accused of sexual misconduct; Jerrel Jernigan.  But the Cardinals drafting the tackle machine that is the middle son of Eileen and Tom Kuechly may top them all.  For the past 3 months BK has been furiously trying to contact Jerry Reese and offer a variety of packages the Giants could offer to trade up for the Kook so his 4.58 40-dash, 27 reps and 6.92 3-cone could find a home in Met Life Stadium.  But all that resulted in is (another) restraining order for BK and the Cardinals deciding to resist the temptation to draft Coples, Stanford OG David DeCastro, or Baylor wideout Kendall Wright and instead settle in on the former high-school Lacrosse player.  I can’t say I’m as high on Kuechly as he looks more like a solid pro than redefining force in the middle and I’m not sure ‘bama’s Donte Highsmith doesn’t have the potential (key word “potential”) to become a better player.  But with that said, Luke grades out as the highest linebacker in the draft and won’t slip further than this.

14. DALLAS COWBOYS – Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina

Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick or Stanford’s DeCastro make more sense, but Jerry Jones will be entranced by Coples’ skills the same way he was entranced by Algerian stripper “Sterling” at Baby Dolls back in ’98 which is what led to his atrocious plastic surgery.  Plus, the Cowboys can’t beat the Giants so they’ll probably figure why not join ‘em and in Coples he probably sees a Jason Pierre-Paul like talent.  Too bad Jason Pierre-Paul knows nothing but work while Cople’s will know nothing but the fact that Baby Doll’s has all-night 2-for-1 dance specials on Tuesdays.  Some notes on Coples – he had 2.5 less sacks his Senior Season than Junior year and refused to switched to DT from DE because he felt increasing his draft stock was more important than making the team better.  Than again, moving him to DT was a pretty stupid idea.  So is the Cowboys drafting Coples but Jerry Jones is the dumbest Owner-cum-GM in the league (although he’s also the smartest but that’s just a technicality).

15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Lots of different ways these lost souls in the lost city of cheese steaks and misery could go. Kirkpatrick and DeCastro might be the best players on the board at this point and you could justify those picks and Poe could go here too.  But I think the Eagles go more immediate need and unless they think big Bulldog Kordy Glenn projects as an OLT (which he did play surprisingly well in the Senior Bowl) I think they go with Barron who’s far less of a reach at 15.  There were some questions about his athleticism and the hernia surgery he had in the off-season that prevented him from working out at the combines didn’t help.  In addition, there’s some thought that Barron’s skill sets make him uniquely “unqualified” to play the modern day strong-safety position which often times requires covering slot receivers.  Thus he’s just the kind of misguided, silly pick the Eagles would make.

16. NEW YORK JETS –  Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
Well the Jets are just an abortion waiting to happen in 2012, huh?  Which makes it ironic they traded for Tim Tebow.  And considering that offense was their biggest problem, drafting a good ROT like Kordy Glenn or a wide-receiver who isn’t a complete asshole such as Kendall Wright would make a lot of sense.  But since this is likely to be Rex Ryan’s last year after the Jets limp home to a 3-13 finish, my guess is he tries to go with what he knows best and drafts defense.  Not a bad choice in Upshaw, who disappointed me in  ‘bama’s first meeting against LSU but than emerged necessarily in the national championship game.  His 8.5 sacks is impressive for how UA played defense and for that conference although at times I questioned exactly what his physicals were as all he did at the combines was an average 22 reps.  But he ran well at his Pro-Day and he strikes me as an end who occasionally stands in pass-rushing situations.  None of this matters though.  Even if Upshaw turns into a player, the Jets are cooked.

17. CINCINNATI BENGALS – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The temptation to go with Dre’ Kirkpatrick will be great for Mike Brown.  But I’m just going to assume their draft board is all jacked up anyway so the choice will be between two players to improve an offense that needs some improvement – DeCastro vs. Wright.  Current Bengal receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested for drug possession this off-season which could mean they go with DeCastro as Cincy usually looks at such transgressions as a positive.  But Andy Dalton went to a school in Texas and Wright went to a school in Texas and and if Wright can combine with last year’s #1 A.J. Green than it’s possible the Bengals could have a lethal tandem.  Wright lit it up as RGIII’s favorite target last  year catching over 100 balls for over 1500 yards and 13 TD’s and his sub 4.5 40’s at his Pro Day also seems to have set scouts at ease after this drowsy 4.61 the combines.  I like Wright and think he’ll make  an impact and I’m always 100% correct on my wide receiver predictions.

18. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – David DeCastro, OG, Standford.
San Diego really has needs on the offensive line and there are two players from Stanford in Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro who could both play immediately.  But pass defense was pitiful for the Chargers too last year meaning that Nick Perry or Marcellius Whitney will be tempting in an attempt to provide a pass rush and Kirkpatrick is a possibility here too.  Ultimately, though, DeCastro will rate as the best player on the board even if he does play a less “impact” position than the others.  So the sharp-minded DeCastro will bring his deft trapping and 34 reps to QualComm where he should help add anywhere from 0.1 to 0.11 yards a carry for Ryan Mathews.

19. CHICAGO BEARS – Johnathan Martin, OT, Stanford.
Chicago has to finally do something about that offensive line, don’t they?  You could justify a guard or tackle here, which makes me think Kordy Glenn is your safest pick and I think he’s a better player than Martin.  But again if you don’t buy Glenn as a LT and if you have a QB who’s ended his last two seasons on the sidelines with an injury than you have to go LT if you think Martin is comparable to Glenn.  The Brainiac from North Hollywood went to Harvard-Westlake in L.A. I once tutored a kid from Harvard-Westlake in Math. He got a 1580 on the SAT’s.  In a similar vein, Johnathan Martin did a womanly 20 reps at the combines but he has a complete understanding of how invisible numbers work.

20. TENNESSEE TITANS – Nick Perry, DE, USC
The Titans are a funny team.  And by funny, I mean boring.  They don’t really have any blatant holes but they don’t have any outstanding strengths either with the possible exceptions of Wide Receiver and Running Back if Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson both bounce back.  Kind of like U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  Before the signing of Steve Hutchinson, I would have put Kordy Glenn in this spot but now I think they go for pass rush and since they need defensive lineman more than OLB’s, I say the pick here is Perry over Whitney (as well as raw to the touch Andre Branch from Clemson).  Perry’s got some real upside if in the right environment.  He’d be great with the Giants – we’ll see if Tennessee knows how to use the man who as a junior in 2011 led the Pac-10 in sacks with a half over 9.  Then again, the Pac-10 kinda blew last year.  Still, he did a 38.5 vert.  38.5!  I haven’t seen that kind of explosion since BK’s lost his virginity to a Hong Kong hooker back in ’96.

21. CINCINNATI BENGAS – Kordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Kordy Glenn was THE BEST Offensive Lineman at this year’s Senior Bowl.  Now that doesn’t mean he’s the best OL in the draft but it was an eye-opener and probably moved the guy up from an early 2 to someone who could get drafted in the Top 20.   The Bengals could go DeCastro at 17 and likely still get Wright at 21 but again that Bengals draft room will start to get confused sometime shortly after the 2nd pick.  Glenn wasn’t great at the combines, but I can live with his 31 reps and his 5-flat 20-shut is fine for a guard, which is where he will play with the Natti. The winner of the Green-Sands Football Scholarship shows he’s got a head on his shoulders (even though I have no ideawhat the Green-Sands Football Scholarship is) and his 50-starts shows durability (and possibly early onset dementia).  Still, my guess is Glenn and DeCastro both will make bigger impacts as guards this year than any OT other than Kalil will.

22. CLEVELAND – Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
There are three (3) ways to look at the Browns 2nd pick in the First Round.  They could continue to try to give Colt McCoy’s offensive toys (can you say “Stephen Hill”…neither can I) or at least protection to spare him another ‘cussion (maybe that pot head Mike Adams?).  They could also go defense and corner is a need.  The third way to look at this is that Cleveland is a dying city with an overrated President in Mike Holmgrem and they haven’t yet paid the devil back for all of those Otto Graham championships back in the ’50’s.  I’m not as high on the cock-sure Kirkpatrick and his misleading Irish name.  How hard is it to be a shut-down corner in a conference where half the teams grind the ball out in boring option attacks?  Heck, even BK managed to be a shut-down corner in the Holmdel Park touch football game in ’90 because QB Shawn Esposito wouldn’t pass.  Who could blame him, with those steel-toed boots he was wearing.  But Patty Kirkpatrick ran a respectable 4.51 40 at the combines with the requisite amount of burst on the vert and he probably will be the highest rated player on the board at this point so the Browns will sort of half to take him.

23. DETROIT LIONS – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Detroit was one of those rare “fashionable” pre-season picks last year that actually came through, with their first playoff appearance since the James K. Polk administration and watching them play was almost as exciting as the firebrand Polk, best known for bad skin and being infertile.  Tackle is the obvious need here, and before his trip to Coachella, I might have leaned towards Ohio State behemoth Mike Adams.  They could also go with the CB Stephen Gilmore, who might be the highest rated player on the board but that would be B-O-R-I-N-G.  So, I think the choice is between the speedy Stephen Hill (that’s right – another big-time weapon for Matty Staff) or Peter Konz.  And I say the statement that will be screamed throughout Detroit, other than “Put that gun down” will be “Why not Konz?” This communication arts Badger would be a sure first rounder if it wasn’t for a series of injury issues – blood clots, dislocated ankles, depression after the final season of “The Wire.” But take that away, and the Konzinator has first round talent and quite frankly Stafford-on-Avon needs a better ass then aging Dominic Raiola to stick his precious hands under.

24. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Whitney Mercilius, OLB, Illinois
The obvious answer is Offensive Line.  But Mike Adams’ indiscretions may make him undraftable in the first.  I also think a bunch of different running backs (Martin, Wilson, Miller) could be justified and certainly the Memphis workout wunderkind Dontari Poe would make all sorts of sense from a need standpoint with elderly Casey Hampton coming off ACL surgery and already laying down an initial downpayment on a CCRC in Lebanon.  Yet Whitney is rising faster than BK after a trip to a Tijuana strip brothel  and with the Steelers linebackers aging quicker than the Trader Joe’s 100% Whole Grain bread mixed with flax seed and A1 that I bought 3 weeks ago, my instinct tells me if he’s on the board Coach T won’t be able to pass on him.  He seemingly came out of nowhere to record 16 sacks in the Big Ten as a junior and his Haitian heritage will have some comparing him to Hall-of-Fame shoe-in Jason Pierre-Paul.  His 4.38 shut wasn’t anything to sneeze about either and don’t overlook that he kept on the straight in narrow by getting a 3.0 G.P.A. in high-school while under the ever watchful eye of coach Bob Sax.  I only achieved a 2.8 under the less than watchful eye of Ed Reckage but I did do the short shut in 4.12.

25. DENVER BRONCOS – Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Picking higher ranked players like Poe or Gilmore might make more sense and certainly would fill some needs.  But you don’t hoist your team’s future on the crippling neck of a 35-year-old quarterback and not give him toys to play with.  Sure, Peyton negotiated an all you can visit pass at Kitty’s East on Colfax when he signed with the Broncos and his commercials with Elway promoting Ford Broncos should be HEE-friggin-LARIOUS.  But I think the Broncos are too tempted by the college Bronco Martin.  There is seemingly nothing the Muscle Hamster can’t do.  In college, he was an effective runner, receiver, blocker and returner and showed all of those skills at the Senior Bowl.  Then at the combines, he shined, clocking in a 4.55 40 (an unofficially a 4.46), bursting 35″ on the Vert and a RB impressive 28 reps.  So with so much defensive talent on the board, I think Denver goes “O”.

26. HOUSTON TEXANS – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Stephen Hill is hot.  I mean red-hot.  Frank’s Red Hot Sauce Hot.  And not just because he burned his hand while heating up a cup of Yerba Mate tea infused with Mint this morning.  The 6-4, 215lbs. Hill only caught 28 balls in Georgia Tech’s run-oriented offense (albeit for over 800 yards) and receivers who can block downfield don’t usually create good YouTube fodder.  But Hill was one of the stars in Indy, clocking in  a white-hot 4.36, exploding a 39.5″ vert and stretching himself to a 133″ broad.  In fact, his long jump at the combines was so good it would have placed him 9th at the Olympic Games.  NINTH!  Not even Victor Cruz could do that.  Well, wait, Victor Cruz can do anything but why bother, with his off-season apparel company that he operates out of his apartment doing so well.  Hill seems like a good teammate too, but BK is sour on him.  “Won’t pan out,” screeches BK while munching on a Chicken Breast sandwich smeared with Gu on a Kaiser Roll. “You can’t just suddenly become a player.” But I say – SI SE PUEDE – which I believe translates to “Give Barack Obama money” but I’m not sure.  I like Hill and think he’ll become Matt Schaub’s 3rd favorite receiver up until Schaub gets hurt and is lost for the season in Week 4.

27. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Like Whitney and Hill, Gilmore is climbing fast and BK predicts a Top 10 selection. But BK also picked a win for Voila Davis as Best Actress at last year’s Oscar’s, but that was primarily to piss off his mom.  Still, this seems like a gift for Belichek and the boys if he somehow does last to this position.  Gilmore’s 4.4-40 was only outshined at the combines by sub 4.00 20-shut.  He’s considered to be a smart kid who understands the defensive side of the football like a coach, but then again he played for Steve Spurrier so that’s not a high hurdle to leap.  Honestly, the odds of Gilmore slipping behind Kirkpatrick or lasting until the late first seem highly unlikely but I’m not re-doing my draft board so let’s just leave him here and move on.

28. GREEN BAY PACKERS – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
While I think the Pack may be tempted to draft a Running Back, there’s enough post-Richardson depth that’s likely to be around in the Late 2nd that they have to do something to improve that pourous D and creating a pass rush would be a good place to start.  At this point, it would seemingly be a choice between Clemson’s Andre Branch and the ‘cuse’s Jones. There’s  a  lot to like about Jones, including his 35″ wingspan paired with a black-belt in martial arts and the fact that his brother is a fighter in the UFC.  There’s also reason to be cautious, coming off a knee injury and being less dominant than one would expect playing in the Big East.  Still, if Jones has his health than this pick could be stealth.

29. BALTIMORE RAVENS – Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
Vinny Curry has “Raven” written all over him.  His sister Shawanda was an avid Poe fan and had it plastered to his left ass cheek – against father Vinny, Sr. wishes I might add – when he was just 7.  Curry projected to be a 2nd rounder and a wrist injury seemed to seal that fate heading into the combines.  But a fantastic Pro Day highlighted by a sub-4.7 40-dash and the fact that he was an impact player in the MAC make him a high 2nd rounder at worst.  And the fact that he’s considered a leader and, similarly to Gilmore, a defensive-savant make him a perfect fit as a late-round steal for a team that breathes D.

30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Although I think it’s possible if DeCastro slips, the 49ers could try to make a trade up for him, the more likely selection is Zeitler.  In fact, this seems to be the most likely to occur pick after Luck and RG3.  The big Zeit’s is no speed demon and a little slow on quickness too but who cares, he’s a guard.  The 3-year starter weight in at over 3 bills and had 142 knockdown blocks – which is indicative of nothing.  However his 32 reps is borderline Petrus-like and there’s no reason not to believe he won’t be perfectly adequate – just like the San Francsico Museum of Art, the San Francisco Giants and the San Francsico Airport.  Actually, I’m lying – that airport is not acceptable – delays every morning.

31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Donteri Poe, DT, Memphis
With two picks, New England probably trades this one.  They could also go with a Running Back like Lamar Miller out of Miami who seems like just the sort of project that gets Bill Belichek to go all Bonnie Bernstein on you.  And Branch could fit here too.  But if Poe is on the board, that’s a lot of talent for the Pats to pass on and playing behind Vince Wilfork for a year is just the kind of apprenticeship he needs so Belichek can trade or cut Wilfork in 2013.  The stats on Poe at Memphis (where he left as a junior) were okay as he played significant snaps all 3 years.  However, it was his combine results – including a sub 5.0 40-dash and an absolutely Chris Lee-like 44 reps that catapulted the 346-lbs. Poe into the first round.  However, his stock seems to be slipping a bit as many wonder if he has an NFL motor although he’ll no doubt buy a souped-up pick-up with his signing bonus.  He likely goes earlier than this – but there’s no way he goes later.

32. NEW YORK GIANTS – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
So many ways the Giants could go here…TE Cody Fleener from Stanford, DT Jenel Worthy from Michigan State, DT Kendell Reyes from UConn, RB Robert Wilson from Virginia Tech.  Even Mike Adams if he hasn’t completely blown it.  But I think the Giants go with Hightower.  The re-signing of Chase Blackburn means he doesn’t have to start right away and he has big-time potential and projects as a MLB.  He was ‘bama’s best defensive player in the first LSU meeting while playing his role in ‘bama’s inspired National Championship romp.  He’s fast, strong and plays big.  I like this pick for the G-Men.

T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times used to (and I assume still does) have these page 2 columns where he would just write random one or (if he was feeling particularly literary that day) 2 lines on some current – or close to current – sports topic of the day.  Simers is a snarky guy who is under a 30-year delusion that local professional athletes care about him, so often times his columns would read something along the lines of “Eric Gagne apparently didn’t like my last article.  Perhaps he was going through roid rage at the time…So Kobe Bryant is accused of rape.  Couldn’t of happened to a nicer guy…Slot machines at Hollywood Park?  I’m more interested in the glue machines…” Before we go any further, yes I am accusing someone else of being snarky and I don’t find that the least bit ironic – unless you’re using the Alanis Morisette definition of the word.

I think the most famous of these laziest of lazy-type columns come from Larry King, who may or may not still have a syndicated column.  But unlike Simers, who like the comedians I used to sit with in the green room at The Comedy Store walk around with a constant impending aura of doom, King is positively Henry Winkler-like in his optimism.  Even his attempts at biting political commentary came off as…toothless.  Columns would read such as “Don’t sleep on Walter Mondale.  He’ll be President one day and you can say you heard it here first…My latest child is 49 years younger than my oldest. You know what they say…Senator Rockefeller has a food stamp reform bill in committee now. I once had duck with him and his lovely wife.  She’s a fine woman and a better cook.  So I fucked her….”

These columns really are the worst of the worst. In the case of someone like Simers, he’s almost flaunting his apathy whereas King actually seems to believe he’s accomplishing a journalistic achievement that combines Dave Barry, Molly Ivins and a sober Jimmy Breslin.  I don’t know which is worse, but I can’t respect any writer, blogger, or journalist who would engage in such nonsense.  Which is exactly why this blog entry will be my version of those columns.  Except, as my loyal readers know, I’m far too verbose to cut down my thoughts to just a few lines.  Still, since I’m obviously far too lazy this Sunday evening to form full thoughts, I’m hoping these half-thoughts will create something of a readable experience.  Let’s find out, shall we…

Let’s start off with the topic that has America talking…San Diego State Athletics.  Let’s give it up for Steve Fisher and his 7-1 SDSU Aztecs.  Sure they hit a road block during ESPN’s 24-hours of madness against a too-big to defend Baylor team, but their win versus ranked Arizona flanked by victories against two good Big West teams – Long Beach State and the Drinking Gauches of UC Santa Barbara – means SDSU should be sneaking into the Top 25 any moment now.  Last year’s lone returning starter – Chase Tapley – is lighting it up like Richard Pryor in ’82.  Super-talented Jamal Franklin will likely emerge as the 2012-13 Mountain West player of the year (if the Mountain West actually still exists in 2012-13), and James Rahon hasn’t even found his sweet caucasian stroke yet.  The Aztecs have 3 tough games left against ranked Creighton and revenge-minded Cal plus cross-town rivals USD before going into the easy part of the schedule for 2 weeks and then its conference play beginning in mid-January.  Yes, they are very thin in the front court so my conservative prediction for the fighting Aztecs…29-1.

Meanwhile, Rocky Long’s first year in Aztec Mesa has gone okay.  That Wyoming loss stings and quite frankly it would have been nice if we didn’t hand games over to TCU and Boise State before they really even began, but with their win over lowly UNLV Saturday night, the Aztecs are 7-4 and bowl bound regardless of their on-again, off-again rivalry game with Fresno State this Saturday.  I’d like to go to that game at Qualcomm, but unfortunately I’ll be at the Mint for Elisa Grace’s Album release party.  Who’s Elisa Grace…you jest?

I’m not going to talk about the BCS mess because my next blog this week will specifically address that issue.  But I will comment on the Heisman Trophy race which is the most wide-open competition going in America today, easily beating out the race to become the 2012 presidential nominee for the Republican party because that contest is being brought down by Michele Bachman…and Rick Santourum…and Ron Paul…and Herman Cain…and Rick Perry…and Newt Gingrich…and Mitt Romney. Did I forget anyone? Is Huntsman still in the race? Is Mike Johnson in a debate? Is Buddy Roemer really a Republican? Is Fred Karger really gay?

ESPN did a poll prior to this Saturday’s games which amazingly showed the Tide’s Trent Richardson as the front-runner.  And then some clown on Game Day justified this silliness by stating that Richardson was the only one of the top candidates who “performed” in a game that “counts” referencing his deceiving stats in Alabama’s LOSS to LSU.  How can you name Trent Richardson the best player in college football when he couldn’t help his team get into the endzone once in the most important game of the college football season? Don’t misunderstand me, Richardson is terrific college back and worthy of being in the discussion.  But so is Houston’s pin-wizard QB Case Keenum and he shouldn’t win either.  People seem to penalize Andrew Luck for Stanford getting perducked by Oregon, but why don’t they mention his comeback against USC?  Or Matt Barkley’s performance against Oregon?  Or RGIII’s performance in every game Baylor’s won and lost this year.  I simply ask you this.  If Matt Barkely, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III was the QB for Alabama against LSU (and Trent Richardson wasn’t there), do the Crimson Tide win that game?  The answer is ABSA-FRIGGIN-GOOGILY-GOO-GOO-LUTELY…to the 3rd power.  Word.  To Your Baby Daddy.  Yuh-Huh.

If Trent Richardson is on USC but not Barkley do they still beat Oregon (or come out on top against Stanford)?  If Richardson is on Stanford instead of Luck, would the Cardinal have beaten Oregon (or still beaten SC)? Does Baylor even have a winning record this year if Richardson is their marquee player instead of Bobby Triple G?  The answer to all of those questions is NO.  Or, for my Guatemalan readers – NO.

I’m well aware quarterbacks are different than running backs, but you want to know something: I saw players like George Rogers at South Carolina and Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State and those guys carried their football squads in a way that Trent Richardson simply doesn’t carry ‘Bama.  If Richardson wins it’ll be a bigger travesty than when Charles Woodson beat out Peyton Manning in ’97; a bigger joke than when Crash won the best picture over the gay cowboy movie; a bigger crime than when Ian Folke Svenonius beat BK out for Sassiest Boy in America in 1990 just because he refused to use capital letters.  All that joker has done since is release 15 albums, a scant 15 more than BK has released in the same period of time.  But BK has used his time to edited shows about fashion while making questionable real estate investments in Los Angeles area condos – so who’s sassy now Svenonius?!?  You Fuckin’ tool.

Back to whatever it was I was writing about,  I’m not making a judgment on Richardson’s as a player (he’s very good), or as a person (although he used far too many “hey man’s, no man, yeah man” in his Dan Patrick interview).  For all I know he’ll enter the NFL and break Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record. Well actually I do know – he won’t break that record and as my past NFL Draft predictions have proven I’ve only been wrong once before (why Ethan Horton, couldn’t you learn to lower your shoulders!)  But if Barkley and Luck end up splitting the West Coast vote and Baylor’s lack of national exposure results in Richardson winning this year’s Heisman…well frankly that would really suck.

Roger Federer was great in this week’s Barclay’s Championships in London.  He didn’t lose a match and was clearly the best player on the court in every match he played – even the two 3-setters against Jo-Willie Tsonga, who looks poised to possibly join Andy Murray in 2012 in the “Almost but never quite good enough” category of player that Robin Soderling looked ready to join before injuries and an uninventive game derailed his hopes.  What was more interesting, though, was how tired both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic looked.  Nadal just looks so dejected these days after going through a season where he was completely unable to get over on Djokovic and each match they played he seemed farther away.  I’m calling my shot right now – Argentina, behind a surpise Juan Monaco victory over David Ferrer – will win this year’s Davis Cup against Spain as Del Potro beats Nadal in a thrilling final match.  And if it doesn’t happen, well who’s really going to be watching or care enough anyway.  As for Novak, how does he lose to his inferior countryman Janko “I’ve never seen a match I couldn’t possibly quit in” Tipsarsvic.  Obviously Djokovic’s shoulder isn’t 100% or even 85% but I thought more than anything he looked mentally exhaused, like he was sort of obligated to be in the tournament but didn’t really have the heart for it.  It’s kind of a shame because it would have been nice for him to complete one of the most dominant season’s in tennis history with a victory but I think his gas tank sort of hit empty after the U.S. Open and hopefully the one-and-a-half month rest prior to Australia will not just rest his shoulder but also his psyche.  And speaking of psyche, how hot is Tomas Berdych’s wife or girlfriend or whatever she is.  I don’t know what that has to with any definition of the word “psyche” but she’s sweeter than Popeye’s Sweet Tea on the front porch of a Bulgarian Tug Boat.  Finally, I’m calling another shot – Roger Federer will win the 2012 Australian Open.  And here’s another shot I’m calling…Alex Bogomolov, Jr. will not win the 2012 Australian Open.

The NBA is about to end their lockout and start playing on Christmas Day.  They were going to start 5 days earlier on the first night of Hannukah, but that would prove to be just too controversial.  My wife asked me, upon hearing the news “Oh, so they went with the 50-50 split” of which I replied “Who the fuck cares.” Still, that’s some shrewd negotiating by the player’s union.  They not only agreed to exactly what they didn’t want, but they lost 2 months of pay to boot. I haven’t seen smooth deal making like that since Barak Obama agreed to a series of budget cuts he didn’t really want in exchange for raising the debt ceiling – or in other words absolutely nothing.  We’ll talk more about the NBA in a future blog but that 16 days from 12/9 to 12/25 when free-agents can be signed and trades made will make the NFL free-agent frenzy look as calm as Bill Murray in Broken Flowers…or Lost In Translation…or Low Down…or….

So Monday night’s Sing-Off is a fait accompli as Penatonix will easily walk away against the over-matched Darmouth Aires and the less than original Urban Method.  I was hoping for more this season, including but not limited to a Sara Bareilles/Ben Folds sex tape video release, but instead we were treated to the most dominant performance by a singing group since Ministry shocked the world and overwhelmed the Chili Peppers, Soundgarden and a not-quite-ready for prime-time Pearl Jam at ‘palooza ’92.  Congrats to Penatonix.

And congrats to the New York Giants, who as I write this are a mere 24-hours away from completing a 63-19 white-washing of the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome in a game that will have America saying “Who dat Da’rell Scott.”

Until then, though, Tim Tebow is the story again in the NFL this week – which must irk the Raiders who are a game ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West.  I almost feel bad blogging about Tebow because it’s just too easy.  Saying negative things about Tebow is as sure a way to get my click-throughts up as when Joanna Angel tweets “I got DP’d again and here are more pics.” But how long can I criticize the burly Born-Again Christian and how long can Joanna Angel stay popular by insisting James Deen be in every scene with her?

However, before I talk about the Broncos’ victory in San Diego, how bad have the Chargers become?  If Norv Turner keeps the job he never should have been given in the first place than all the 9/11 conspiracy theorists will abandon that fruitless pursuit and focus their attentions on how the Matt Millen of coaches is still employed (and it can’t just be because he’s got a good-looking local sportscaster daughter).

The Chargers looked like they were going to march the ball up and down on the field aganist the Broncos Sunday which would finally give Tebow-haters what they wanted – how could the turkey-armed QB possibly bring his team back if they ever fell behind by more than 10 points and had to abandon their offensive scheme, which seemingly is right out of Army’s 1957 playbook.  But that lasted all of a quarter and then suddenly we were right back to where we were when the Broncos played the Dolphins…and the Chiefs…and the Jets.  The Broncos defense keeps the team in the game (and by the way – just how good is Von Miller), Tebow can’t do anything and Denver punts.  Then, all of the sudden, Willis McGahee and friends suddenly start finding holes created by that once shitty offensive line, unheralded wide-receivers start making diving catches and Tebow starts moving the team down the field.

So since I’ve been so negative towards big Tim – and I still stand by my prediction he’s out of the league 2 years from now (just like I still stand by my prediction that The Blake Babies are the break-through band of 1989) – I will say this.  He’s got great vision and instincts when running, even more so than a guy like Michael Vick who is just so fast and explosive that no one can catch up to him.  I also agree with Phil Simms’ assessment that I don’t think Tebow is so inaccurate (although he is inaccurate) as much as he’s so scared about throwing an interception that he often just gives up and throws the ball away.  Still, as someone who watches a lot of Eli Manning, sometimes not turning the ball over is better than completing 10 passes in a row if the 10th is to the other team.

I thought Tebow played his best game so far in San Diego because after a miserable 1st quarter, he looked okay throwing the ball and stood in the pocket.  Even though he only averaged 3 yards a carry, the way he runs the option makes those runs effective.  “They” used to say that the option couldn’t work in the NFL because A) athletes were too good in the NFL and they’d be able to stop it and B) quarterbacks would get hit too much.  The latter might be true, Tebow gets hit a lot and he’s an unusually big guy for a quarterback.  It is hard to imagine how Tommie Frazier or Scott Frost could take that much pounding and perhaps over time Tebow won’t be able to either.   Still, Tebow’s moderate level of success makes one wonder if NFL teams have just been flat-out wrong-headed by not considering option-attacks.  The first – and really only time – I recall the option attack being used regularly was a series in a 1987 replacement game between the 49ers and the woeful replacement players that made up the New York Giants that year.  The fake 49ers blew away the fake Giants and at one point, Bill Walsh plugged in QB Tony Stevens who ran an option attack that marched the 49ers down the field.  Walsh looked over at Bill Parcells and they both laughed.  Not just at the absurdity of replacement games but of the fact that the option was being run.  “Only in a BS game like this,” you could imagine them both thinking “could you get away with that college bullshit.”

Yet when you look at Tebow’s success – along with the mild amount of success Miami had a few years ago with the wildcat formation – is it possible NFL coaches have been missing out all these years?

Oh wait…does completing less than 50% of your passes, not scoring 20 points and beating teams the last 3 weeks with a combined record of 14-19 really qualify as success?  I mean I know San Diego is hurting on the defensive side of the ball, but the actor on Suburgatory who likes like Tim Tebow could have completed passes with the amount of time Timmy was given to throw.

I realize the Chargers didn’t want to be beat off the corner by Tebow the way the Jets were the week before, but did they forget what the Lions did to Tebow…they crushed him in the pocket.  The Broncos have since adjusted their game plan and the Chargers don’t have the Lions front but the lack of pressure Tebow was given was ridiculous.

Listen, Tim Tebow is already a more effective player than I or very many other people thought he would be.  I never hear from Tebow’s rabid fan base after he does poorly – but hear a lot from them when he does well – and we all know that’s lame.  So I won’t wait for Tebow’s next bad game to post an “I told you so” blog.  He’s finding a way to lead his team to a win and even when he’s not moving the ball he’s sort of fun to watch – which I never really thought when I saw him at Florida just because so many of those games were white-washes against the likes of Kentucky and Vanderbilt and watching one college team beat another 50-0 is not fun (if you don’t believe me, ask Rick Neuheisel).   But while Tebow is still a champion of mediocrity on the pro stage, look at the NFL today.  There’s really only one game this year that promises to give Tebow real trouble (New England in Week 14) as the Bears defense (which Denver also faces this year) will feast on him but their anemic offense minus Jay Cutler will likely make that game a carbon copy of the Dolphin and Jet games.  And maybe Tebow could hang in there as a 6-10, 7-9 even 9-7 quarterback in this league and then Bronco fans will really be put to the test.  If he’s awful, you have no choice to get rid of him.  And if he’s great, you have no choice but to keep him.  But how do you handle it when your chosen one leads your team to being merely so-so; to being more or less competitive; to being almost good enough to lose in the first round of the playoffs.  Ask Indiana Pacers fans about being always good enough to challenge for a playoff spot but never good enough to actually win a playoff series.  It’s no fun.  Then again, those poor saps are stuck living in Indianapolis so they’ve asked for a life of misery anway.

BK-O-Meter: With a Pie & Burger pumpkin pie in his gullett and a $4.50 hot dog in his right hand, BK made his first NFL Draft notes of the year. “I like this Mike Martin from Michigan” beamed a suger-rushed BK. “I saw two plays of the Michigan-Ohio State game and on one of them he looked good.”

Give Tebow a Break?

My inaugual blog post is, to this day, the most widely read blog post ever for Doug’s NFL Draft World.  And that’s saying something considering that my 2011 Fall Television Preview Blog had well over 10 views last week.

So as I watched Tim Tebow answer questions following his undeniaby dreadful performance playing for the pretty damn dreadful Denver Broncos against the once dreadful but not-so-much anymore Detriot Lions, I had a strange sensation pass over my body and it wasn’t just the antiobiotics I’m taking for my current bout with strep throat.  What I felt was…sympathy.

I actually sort of feel bad for Tim Tebow.  Because he had no business being drafted #1; he had no business having all this pressure put on him; and he had no business being thrown to the wolves the way he did on Sunday.  Listen the Broncos are a bad team; they traded their best receiver, Knoshown Moreno and Willis McGahee are “ok” backs running behind an offensive line that shouldn’t be – but most definitely is – this worst in the NFL.  And it’s not like that Bronco defense is giving the offense any breaks either.

That doesn’t mean Tebow belongs as an NFL starter.  He doesn’t.  I’m not going to say anything that other’s haven’t said and my opinion on his skill set and liklihood of success isn’t any different than when I called him a douche in this blog 2 years ago.  People compare him to Vince Young in the sense of being some kind of Quarterback Savant who has an unorthodox style but somehow manages to “Just Win Baby!” Well Vince Young’s recent travails aside, he was never as bad as Tebow was Sunday.  Now Young shad some things going for him – most notably a better team and a coaching staff that didn’t put too much on his shoulders – almost holding him down at times to a ridiculous extent.  I don’t recall, however, Young being this jumpy in the pocket; this seemingly uncomfortable after almost every snap, and this inaccurate.

Tebow is who he is.  There’s a reason why Scott Frost was never given a chance to make it as a quarterback; while Eric Crouch was dismissed when he insisted on trying to be a quarterback, why Charile Ward was drafted in the first round…in the NBA, not the NFL.  Because their skill sets didn’t translate and everyone – NFL scouts, coaches and fans alike – knew it.  Sure, you’ll always have your diehards in Lincoln and Tallahassee for whom their college sweetheart can never not be the sweetest.  At the end of the day, however, no NFL team wasted a first-round draft pick, a roster spot, and millions of dollars on them as quarterbacks.

Tebow’s cocky, but I don’t think anymore so than Crouch or Ward.  He is debatably the best college QB ever but that’s not why he’s so popular.  His almost unreal level of wholesomeness combined with our current political climate mixed with the constant media buzz that surrounds us 24-hours a day, 7 days a week made Tebow bigger than he ever should have been and allowed an immature and overmatched coach to hijack an organization and draft him significantly higher than 31 other teams would have.

But watching Tebow complete what really was a truly atrocious performance and then answer questions after it while his coach would only guarantee his starting spot for “at least one more week” I felt like this kid is being put in a position to fail and that’s sad to watch.  It’s like watching a teenage tennis player play her first match against Serena Williams; or The Yellowjackets try to keep up on “Sing-Off.”

They’re clearly not good enough to compete with Afro-Blue or Plentatonics, but you almost feel terrible that they’ve been allowed to believe that they could be successful – almost like some cruel trick someone played on them just to watch them humiliate themselves, a la “Carrie.” And while I don’t think Tim Tebow will go on a killing spree (other than killing the hopes of the Broncos ever winning a meaningful fame) I’m not sure an aging Sissy Spacek couldn’t make more accurate passes than the big Christian from Florida.

Watching Tebow reminds me of when first Mike Ditka and then Steve Spurrier insisted on rolling Danny Wuerffel out week after week even though clearly he didn’t have the arm strength to play in the League.  You just kept wondering “Why are you doing this to this poor kid.  Let him get on with his life so he can become a Long-Term Care Insurance salesman like he was destined to be.” And Tebow will do even better as he’ll inevitably follow his 3-year pro football career in 2013 by giving Jesus-laden inspirational speeches along with Colin Powell, Bill Cosby and a bunch of crooks trying to sell you their bullshit get rich quick schemes at those All-Day seminars they hold in sports arena’s for $1.95 a head.

So before we skewer Tebow’s Sunday performance, I would contend it was any worse than Blaine Gabbert’s with Jacksonville.  In fact, Gabbert may have been worse and anyone who’s seen the big Presbyterian out of Missouri knows he’s got a long way to go too.  And remember Eli Manning’s first 5 starts for the Giants? Woeful would be too kind.

Of course the difference: Gabbert is and Manning was a rookie (and Gabbert didn’t even get a full pre-season due to the lockout – not that that seems to have stalled Cam Newton’s progress, but still).  They didn’t have an entire season and 3 previous starts under their belt.  No, Tebow may not be worse than Gabbert right now, but at least with Gabbert you can see how he could be a pro quarterback.  It’s not to say he will be successful – Heath Shuler and Tim Couch and even Jack Thompson looked like pro quarterbacks who in the end couldn’t cut it.  But Tebow, when he plays, doesn’t look like a NFL Quarterback.  He looks like the time Nick Andopolis tried out to be the new drummer with a Dimension on Freaks and Geeks; a boy amongst men.

No, the career I imagine Tebow’s will resemble most closely is that of Akili Smith, who parlayed one really good, really versatile season with Oregon into being the 3rd overall draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999.  Smith, similarly to Tebow, seemed to struggle with the Bengals offense almost from the get go.  In his first 2 seasons, Smith started 15 games.  His stats during that time: 3 wins, 12 losses, less than a 50% completion percentage, 6 TD’s versus 12 interceptions.  Despite those woeful numbers, Smith stayed on the team for two more seasons and in his final year (2002), the Bengals handed him the starting job.  He would run the team for the rest of the year and this would be his final chance.  That final chance  lasted all of one game – 12 for 33, 117 yards and interception and a loss.  Smith was quickly yanked from the starter’s spot and never played another game.

I imagine that will be Tebow’s ultimate fate.  He’ll have his moments but he won’t get significantly better.  At some point, John Fox will have no choice to bench him as his surrounding players (many of whom’s NFL careers will be shorter than Tebow’s) lose confidence in him and the Broncos have to see if Brady Quinn can play or not.  After that, maybe Tebow lasts one more season in Denver but it’ll be awkward.  He won’t be allowed to compete for the starting job and they’ll try to force-feed him into make-shift wildcat formations that will almost certainly stop being used by the mid-point of the season.  Then he’ll be cut, or maybe traded, to some sorry team looking for a little fan support (perhaps Jacksonville if Gabbert doesn’t pan out or the Raiders) where he’ll get to start one more game, perform poorly and eventually fade out into a career giving those inspirational speeches about his college days.

Yet I can’t blame Tebow for wanting to play or for being confident in his ability to succeed or for believing that a belief in a higher power will carry him through.  What would you like him to say, “No I’m overmatched, but what choice do they have I’m being paid a lot so I have to keep going out there until they mercifully cut me and let me go home?”Every great actor…every great athlete…every great entrepreneur had a point in their life when the only one who believed in them was them.  However, so has every failed actor, unsuccessful athlete and bankrupt businessman.

It’s time for both the Tebow-haters and the Tebow-fanatics to leave him alone now.  He will not make it as a NFL quarterback because he’s not good enough.  But let’s show him so compassion at this point; it’s tough to fail at anything but he doesn’t deserve to be embarrassed in the process.

I’m a very busy guy.  I run a business.  I’m the father of twins.  I’m a world-class endurance athlete.  And I write the most popular, most visited blog in the entire World Wide Web.  Not this blog, a completely different blog that I oversee under my pseudonym Arianna Huffington.

So while I really was more excited than BK the first time he saw a black woman in the nude to offer my season preview of this year’s new network fall television season, life – along with a crippling addiction to the pipe – slowed the long-awaited release of this blog post.  But as my followers know, I don’t quit – with the exception of cross-country my sophomore year in high-school, that bullshit macro-economics class my junior year in college, that 2nd overnight job at UPS while living in Denver, and my first two marriages, although I guess the 2nd ceremony wasn’t recognized by the state as “marriage” in the traditional sense (thanks a lot Mitt Romney). Still, when I want to see something through I’ll see something through if for no other reason than the high literary quality that a preview such as this will yield.  Like reading a Jimmy Breslin column on Al Capone.  Timeless to this day – I would assume.  Which is why next week I’ll be finally issuing my long overdue preview of the 1993 NFL Draft (Buy High on Rick Mirer – he’s got all the tools!)

However, my tardiness has prevented me from giving a full review of the steaming pile of shit that was NBC’s The Playboy Club.  Sometimes, while watching PAX or Great American Country, you’ll see an old episode of CHiPS or Miami Vice or Hunter and you’ll see just how badly written and acted these shows were and you’ll scratch your head and say to yourself “Why did I think this show was so good when it was on?” And my theory always was that we just evolve as a collective, human, television watching public and shows have just gotten collectively better.  It’s not that all shows of the 80’s were bad or that all shows today are good, but rather in general television just gets a little bit better every decade.  So even Cheers doesn’t seem to hold up now as well as Seinfeld which probably won’t hold up as well as Arrested Development and so on and so forth.   However, The Playboy Club is the creationism to my Darwinian Evolutionary TV theory.  This show was bad.  I mean really bad.  Like literally from the opening scene when the male lead and the female lead exchange a series of cliché’s while lying in bed with one another.  Miraculously, within seconds, the show establishes these two characters as the least interesting people on television today.  What was most unfortunate about the episode I saw – some nonsense about a female reporter pretending to be a playboy bunny to dig up dirt on the club – wasn’t the poor construction of the script, the tired dialogue, or the total lack of heat and sexuality in a show that, presumably, should be oozing with it, but rather the insulting, dismissive way it treats the women on the show, almost all of whom are presented as lower class, vacuous, troubled women completely at the will of whatever man happened to be with them at the time.  Which is perhaps why at the end of the show the female lead character has to lecture the reporter – and all of us – that despite what we’ve just witnessed playboy bunnies are really smart, intelligent, fiercely independent gals trying to make a better life for themselves.  Maybe that’s why NBC decided to make a better decision for itself and cancel the show after 3 episodes joining ABC’s ill-fated Charlie’s Angel’s re-make, the Hank Azaria sitch Free Agents also on NBC, and something called H8R on something called the CW as this year’s first TV casualties.

Before viewing The Playboy Club I honestly didn’t think I’d see a worse show than Person of Interest, yet another in the long-line of cop-ish dramas presented by CBS since the emergence of CSI however many years ago.  Person of Interest centers around the mysterious Mr. Finch and his even more mysterious partner John Reese.  Finch has some kind of techno-dandy-dee-computer-like tool that allows him to find people “of interest” who are going to do harm or may be harmed and Reese is the guy with a military past who does the field work.  There are flashbacks to Reese’s past and there’s a sassy female black police officer or detective or chief or something who’s after him and honestly this show is such a bunch of convoluted nonsense I don’t know how to explain it.  The episode I saw involved ex-Army guys turned robbers and is borderline offensive in the condescending way it treats soldiers returning home and the sad-sap audience watching it.  The show looks cheap – the police station looks like a set – and since I imagine its really not that cheap there’s no excuse for that kind of poor execution.  The acting is also sub par.  Isn’t Jim Caveziel supposed to be a good actor?  That’s what I thought but now that I think about it, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Jim Caveziel in a movie.   I didn’t watch the Mel Gibson Jesus movie.  If I want to see a Jew orchestrate the abuse of a Gentile I’ll just listen to an interview with David Stern regarding the current NBA lockout.

I think I might have seen Caveziel in the J-Lo vehicle Angel Eyes at a preview at Fox a few years back.  Wasn’t that the one where she learns to fight so she can kick the shit out of her ex?  Anyway, Caveziel basically just doesn’t act in the show, playing a monotone, brooding, unemotional, tortured soul.  It’s like watching Kerry Collins in the 2001 Super Bowl.   And why do these shows always cast black women as lead police officers (or chiefs or whatever)?  When was the last time someone black – or Asian for that matter – was the lead in a crime drama? It’s like the consolation prize for every black actress in Hollywood. Instead we’re stuck with roles like the one played by the badly miscast Taraji Hanson in Person of Interest as the sassy wanna-be foil to Caveziel’s Reese.  It may be time for Tyler Perry to go all dramatic and shit on us.  I’m sure whatever he comes up with will be excellent.  Meanwhile, Person of Interest is not the worst crime show on TV (that goes to the inanely boring Castle on ABC which somehow is managing to enter its 4th season), but the fact that I have a sneaking suspicion this show may last a few seasons is yet another devastating blow to my evolutionary TV theory.

A better, but still flawed, detective drama is NBC’s attempt at an American version of the famed (dare I say legendary) British detective show Prime Suspect.  Maria Bello takes on the lead role made famous by Helen Mirren and she’s not bad casting, primarily because she’s good-looking and can act.  I’m not sure she’s the perfect match for Mirren, but that would be unfair for any actress and she’s probably as good as NBC could have hoped for in the role and all things considered that’s pretty good.

There are those that say the original Prime Suspect was the greatest show in the history of television and this American-ized version not surprisingly contains enough obvious dialogue, over-explained narrative and simplistic plot twists to piss off (and turn off) fans of the original.  Perhaps most upsetting, however, will be that unlike the truly flawed and troubled Detective Jane Tennison (think Andy Sipowicz with a touch of Walter White), Bellos’ Jane Timony may be course and uncouth and kind of a jerk but she’s not truly on the edge of sanity the way her British counterpart was.  Instead, the producers and writers of Prime Suspect try to pass off indifference and roughness as a substitute for authenticity and it is transparent and doesn’t work.  Still, there are moments of the show that do work.  Amidst the multitude of scenes where Timony does something inconsiderate followed by her co-workers telling her (and we the viewers in case we’re too stupid to figure it out) how inconsiderate she was, lie scenes of little gems.  In the episode I last watched, there’s an oddly effective (and thankfully unexplained) scene where Timony, when questioning a suspect in his home, has the tables turned on her and he asks her a series of unprovoked personal questions.  And the relationship between Bello and her boss, played with restrained gusto by Aiden Quinn, has a natural flow to them more reminiscent of NYPD Blue than the “excuse to push the story along and fill time” back and forth’s we get in shows like Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order CS, Law & Order Los Angeles, Law & Order: the High-School Years, and Law & Order Gone Wild. It’s also good to note that Aiden Quinn is not an African-American female and hasn’t been since his Academy-Award winning performance in Precious.  Ultimately, however, the real problem with Prime Suspect isn’t that it’s a bad show -because it’s not – but rather that it’s just another detective show.  It’s ordinary.  And for a show that is adapted from “the greatest detective show of all-time”, that’s probably not going to cut it.  The truth is – and I hate saying this because I hate being that guy, you know the pretentious guy who’s always pointing to the British or foreign version of a show or movie as the superior product – but the truth is if you want a show that more closely emulates the British Prime Suspect than you need to check out another British cop show in Luther on BBC America.

Similarly to Prime Suspect, Pan Am, ABC’s attempt at copy-catting 60’s style and chic a la Mad Men (I assume The Playboy Club was NBC’s version of that although after watching it who could tell) isn’t terrible either.  I mean basically it’s a soap-opera that seemingly is a more akin to a show like Chicago Hope then Mad Men.  Focused around a bevy of young flight attendants (they were called stewardess’ back then in case you didn’t know) working for Pan American airlines (which went out of business 20 years ago for those of my readers born after Bill Clinton was elected to his first term) and honestly there’s not a lot for the viewer to chew on here.  To the show’s credit, the back story of its main characters are interesting enough and its attempt to show women trying to find their independence and breaking societal norms at the time all the while still trying to maintain their “womanliness” in a male-chauvinist world is a strong concept and supposedly what The Playboy Club was trying and so monumentally failed to achieve.  Unfortunately, Pan Am is on ABC not AMC and thusly the show saddles itself with simple story arcs and silly plot lines such as one character being recruited to work as a secret agent with the CIA (or FBI or ASPCA or the MLS, who cares).  It should be added that Christina Ricci turns up in Pan Am as a sassy, fight-the-power co-lead and she, perhaps not unsurprisingly, has become an odd-looking chipmunk of a woman.  I kind of thought in 2003 when she turned up as the young fiancée to the guy from American Pie in the largely (and deservedly) forgotten Woody Allen vehicle Anything Else that she might have crossed the line from odd child to oddly sexy young adult.  But she’s 31 now and something has happened and she’s become just odd-looking.  Her forehead is too high, and her arms too chubby and muscular for the rest of her body and I don’t know what to make of her.  Although I would still allow her to take my hand as Mrs. Doug number 4 if the opportunity presented itself because there may be some money to be gained in the inevitable divorce settlement that would follow 16 months later and advertising revenue for this blog has failed to hit pre-2011 projections so I could really use the extra coin.

I had five sitcoms on my list this season to watch and review but unfortunately my DVR had a conflict between the premiere of Two Broke Girls, an Austin City Limits featuring two bands I never heard of and NFL Network’s Top Quarterbacks of the 90’s, so needless to say Two Broke Girls had to go.  So let’s just presume this Whitney Cummings produced and co-created vehicle is “just fine” and move on to the show that actually stars and bears Ms. Cummings name – Whitney.  Who doesn’t like Whitney Cummings?  Perhaps older, more talented, less-physically alluring stand-up comedians?  But fuck them says NBC.  Cummings is cute, she’s been great on the Comedy Central roasts and her stand-up is better than average.  Still, Whitney is kind of a strange show.  It’s been given a choice time period on NBC’s Thursday night in 30 Rock’s slot right behind the Steve Carell-less The Office.  However, unlike The Office, as well as the two shows that precede it Community and Parks and Rec, Whitney is like a throw back show.  Shot in front of a live studio audience, the look of the show more closely resembles that of Family Ties than a more current 30-minute comedy.  It’s also strangely paced, where scenes just sort of fade out instead of ending.  It’s not that the show isn’t funny because it does have some legitimately funny lines and scenes.  But it doesn’t seem so much like a show as it does actors and one comedian (Cummings) reciting written jokes.  Now that’s a common trait of sitcoms based on the comedy of stand-ups (even the first episode of the Cosby Show does this) but it feels like the show has a long way to go.  The supporting characters are all cliché’s and there’s no conflict, comedic or otherwise, between any of the characters.  It’s just sort of one comedy skit, err scene, connected to another by a loosely put together story.  Cummings can be very sexy and the show seems well aware of this as yet an episode seems to have emerged without at least one scene of her in some sort of stripper cum hooker Halloween outfit.  Still, because Cummings is so hot right now (career-wise I mean) I have to believe NBC will work with Whitney to give Whitney every chance to succeed.

Another show in the Whitney canon is the Fox comedy The New Girl starring the always oddly alluring Zooey Deschanel.  Zooey is a goofy name and Deschanel has a reputation of being a bit of a goofy gal so this show seems to want to take that personality to its logical conclusion by creating a show around a goofy girl and her 3 (or maybe it was 4) male roommate.  I don’t know why they can’t be female friends.  I’m not even sure where creatively this show comes from other than the idea that someone thought Deschanel was a strong enough presence that a show could just be pieced around her.  In the opening scene of the episode I viewed, “Jess” is hanging out with one of these guys (or maybe there was more than one) and being goofy by wearing fake teeth and sort of being unsexual before emerging in a purple dress that is supposed to take her male friend(s) breath away.  But the scene doesn’t work because it just seems forced and while Deschanel is a cute girl, the dress she’s in makes her look more “hip-eee” than sexy.  The episode is set at a wedding and unlike in Whitney, where the show hurries from scene to scene, The New Girl seems to want to create a show of interest around this one long scene, almost a la Seinfeld.  That would be perfectly fine if it was funny, but it’s not.  The New Girl, despite its irreverent lead, seems more interested in being liked than funny.  Perhaps most disappointing, though, is that the show seems to center around the male characters and how “Jess” works with them on their problems as opposed to needs and wants of The New Girl herself and that, unfortunately for Fox and Deschanel, is an old concept.

Throwing a baby in a sitcom is an old concept too, but it usually doesn’t occur until after a show’s been on the air awhile – the traditional “Jump the Shark” moment when producers and writers have truly run out of ideas so let’s just throw in a baby so the audience will be distracted by cuteness (or in the case of Growing Pains seduced by the inescapable charms of a pre-teen Leo DiCaprio).  However, in Up All Night, the show’s creator’s decide to base the whole concept of the show (sort of) around a once partying couple being suddenly made uncool by the birth of their daughter.  As a new father myself I was intrigued by the show and I like all the actors in the show – Cristina Applegate, Will Arnet, Maya Rudolph.  However, during my first viewing I felt like everyone just needed to take it down a notch and relax.  The comedy was so forced, the actions (and motivations) of the lead characters so over the top, that you cringed in embarrassment as opposed to chuckled or guffawed or as BK would say “go laughy taffy”.  However, while subsequent episodes still showed a lot of unevenness, it seemed as if the show was starting to find a rhythm and even I went laughy taffy a few times.  While I like Applegate and Arnett, I’m not sure the chemistry with them is quite right and Rudoph’s over the top Oprah-esque character is often times sillier than the rest of the show.

Still Up All Night has funny moments which gives it an edge over the hard to put your arms around Suburgatory which has been given the enviable slot on ABC just ahead of Modern Family.

Suburgatory is an odd mix of Modern Family, Glee, and Swingtown.  Jeremy Sisto (37 years old), who I’m not sure I’ve ever seen do comedy, moves from the city to the suburbs with his fish-out-of-water, square-peg-in-a-round-hole and of course unmistakably attractive daughter played by Jane Levy (22 years old).  Levy doesn’t look 16 although Sisto manages to look older than 37 so I’m not sure what that says about either of them.   The show is trying to create a world of suburban oddity around the seemingly normal pair of Sisto and Levy and it tries really hard, complete with goofy neighbors, real housewive-esque divorcees, high-school clique-ishness, manicured lawns and day-glo polo shirts.  Look closely and you’ll even see a guy who looks like Tim Tebow’s younger brother in the show, although from what I understand this actor is more accurate with his short, mid and long-range passes.  I’ve decided that Sisto is a good actor even if he sometimes seems to be acting in a different show than everybody else, almost like he doesn’t realize he’s not on the set of Law & Order anymore.  The show is not so much funny as really really earnest and like Up All Night and Whitney it’s not inconceivable it could be turned into something worth watching and apparently ABC thinks so as it’s renewed Suburgatory for a full-season.

So what’s the best show I’ve seen this new season?  Most of you would probably assume I’d say A Football Life on NFL Network and I must admit the two-part Bill Belicheck premiere was quite good, although I didn’t like the Walter Payton episode as much. Still, while I always enjoy what NFL Films does, it is formulaic.  You know what they produce will always be good, but you also know going in pretty much how it’s going to be presented to you.

No, while I can’t say I was overwhelmed by the network offerings this year, the best show I’ve seen thus far in 2011?  Well, that would be the Victor Cruz show, playing Sundays.  Check your local listings for the time and channel near you.  I especially urge you to watch on Sunday, November 20th at 8pm EST, 5pm PST when the elusive Cruz and his New York Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles in an episode simply called “Victor makes Nnamdi his bitch again.”

The first and final pre-season podcast focusing on the 2011 New York Giants.

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The Giants wrapped up their final roster yesterday and added six (6) previously cut players to their practice squad.

If one looks at my blog post from a few weeks ago, they’ll see that my roster selections were 113% correct for the 32nd straight year (I admit in ’78 I thought Doug Kotar wouldn’t be able to make it so I got one wrong that year).  Kotar was diagnosed with cancer during his career and sadly died in 1983 of a brain tumor.  In the spirit of Kotar it was nice if not downright inspiring to see Mark Herzlich nab a spot on the roster after his own cancer fight and what was best is that the B.C. product deserved it.  He played really well and was among a slew of Giants rookie linebackers to make the squad on a team that was in need of an influx of new blood at that position.

So let’s take an analysis of the 2012 New York Super Bowl Bound Football Giants.

QUARTERBACKS

The battle here of course was for the back-up job and a bad back, a case of strep throat and a scandalous campaign donation to Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign (or was that Jeff Feagles) handed the job to David Carr, who the Giants probably wanted to give the job to anyway. It’s interesting that Rosenfels was placed on IR (putting him out for the year) as opposed to just coming up with an injury settlement and waiving him where he’d have a chance to sign on with another team.  Last I heard Strep Throat is not a season ending injury, unless your Max Hardcore starlett Catalina.  She runs a day care in Calabasas now.  Watching Carr play he gives me more confidence than Rosenfels (I have no idea why) but his slinging throwing motion keeps getting lower and lower.  People say Vince Young has a side-arm delivery but Young is positively Elway-like compared to Carr.  Kent Tekulve had a higher release point than Carr….but he wasn’t nearly as good-looking.

I always find it fascinating when every year Giants fans post notes about how they thought the young QB would make it as a 3rd Stringer.  The young QB for the Giants NEVER makes it.  Ask Andre Woodson and Rhett Bomar.  And unlike Woodson, Bomar wasn’t truly awful. And neither was Ryan Perriloux, the LSU problem child.  Ryan didn’t play much but he actually looked better than I would have thought and certainly showed some comfort in a pro-set that I think few would have anticipated after watching him at LSU (or Jacksonville State I assume if anyone actually ever saw him play there).  So I was glad he made the practice squad because he does have some upside.  It’ll be fun watching him next pre-season before the Giants cut him again.

Of course all these players are likely going to be an afterthought as what Giant fans really will be focusing on this year is hoping Eli Manning throws less interceptions…and fumbles less…and keeps doing those Oreo commercials with his quickly aging brother and the Williams’ sisters.

RUNNING BACKS

With Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs assured of spots it was nice to see Jacobs get tossed from the Jets pre-season game just to remind us what an a destructive hot head the Big Saluki can be when he puts his mind to it.  At least he managed to hang onto his helmet.  It was assumed that D.J. Ware would make the team and he played well enough to earn another spot and I believe (as does BK) that Ware could be a bigger part of the offense and be effective while giving Bradshaw and Jacobs a little more rest.  But that probably won’t happen.  The real comer here turned out to be Da’rel Scott, the speedy late round pick out of Maryland.  He had two monster runs during the pre-season and to his credit absolutely earned his spot on the team.

Most probably felt coming into pre-season that Da’rel was practice squad bound but instead that honor went to Andre Brown, who under normal circumstances probably played well enough to make a spot.  Brown’s just a tough luck guy, from his injury in ’09 to the 2nd year in a row getting cut by the Giants even though he didn’t perform poorly.  I’d say there’s a decent chance Brown finds his way onto the Giants sometime within the first 6 weeks of the season or he’ll end up signing with another team.  Much to BK’s disappointment, Charles Scott never really got a fair chance primarily lining up as the team’s 3rd fullback and was cut.  This is yet another time when BK predicted greatness and it turned out less than that (I don’t want to have to bring up his championing of The Bogmen back in mid-90’s).

Henry Hynoski wasn’t great in the pre-season but as the only pure fullback in camp he would have had to have been terrible not make the team and he wasn’t that.  But he wasn’t great either which is why the Tight End-depleted G-Men will inevitably start hybrid Ten Toes Pascoe at FB to open the season.

WIDE RECEIVERS

The injury and eventual departure of Steve Smith meant that Mario Manningham would be the undeniable starter alongside 2012 Pro Bowl selection Hakeem Nicks.  The battle would be (and really still is) for the 3rd WR position.  Despite a sloppy game on specials Devin Thomas made the squad and joins Domenick Hixon and Victor Cruz as 3rd wide receiver options.  Hixon and Thomas will also spend some time battling for the kick return position.  The Giants 2012 draft class is quicky going down an infamy.  A broken foot postponing the debut of 1st round pick Prince Amakamura, a season-ending injury to 2nd round pick Marvin Austin and then there’s the tale of Jerrel Jernigan.  Let’s be honest, the only reason Mark Clayton isn’t on this team is because the Giants spent a 3rd rounder on Jernigan. If he’s a free-agent or even a late-round pick Jernigan is practice squad bound if not cut altogether.  But the savvy vet Clayton is let go and Jernigan gets a chance but my guess is he doesn’t see the field much in ’11.  Ramses Barden starts the year on the PUP and whether or not he’s given a chance to be a factor this year will probably depend on what Hixon, Cruz and/or Thomas do when on the field.

TIGHT ENDS

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more questionable set of tight ends on a NFL roster this year than the Giants of the Meadowlands.  Travis Beckum falls into the starting position, but he doesn’t block well, hasn’t proven he can run the seam pass that basically was Kevin Boss’ bread and honey with banana and flax and has never really created the mismatches with linebackers that he was supposed to when he came into the league from Wisconsin as an undersized Tight End.  But with Bear Pascoe playing fullback (and let’s face it, his hands aren’t so strong) Beckum will be backed-up by gigantic Jake Ballard, who has very limited NFL playing experience.  Yet apparently he was considered a better option than 270-pound free-agent Daniel Coates which doesn’t say much for Coates.  Christian Hopkins was signed on to the practice squad but you almost get the feeling that placement was more out of desperation than a true belief that Hopkins is possessed by a pool of potential.  Perhaps the Giants will take a chance on recently cut Cornelius Ingram or Desmond Clark, but who knows if that would be any better.


OFFENSIVE LINE

The Giants revamped Offensive Line was a mixed bag this pre-season.  Since you can basically throw out the 4th pre-season game because no one played, the Giants had one very good offensive game (Chicago) and two pretty bad ones (Carolina and the Jets).  The line wasn’t terrible though.  The Giants ran the ball generally well and Eli managed to go the entire pre-season without blood gushing from his forehead so that’s one way to judge progress.

Will Beatty played well enough that the battle for the LT job with Stacy Andrews never really materialized with Andrews tucked neatly in as his back-up.  Fourth-rounder James Brewer didn’t show much but similarly to Jernigan was going to make the team regardless which means it’s possible none of the first 4 draft picks for the Giants this year will have any impact.

There was some disconnect between Eli and David Bass this pre-season but it should be fine as will all the guards on the squad (Snee, Diehl, Boothe, Petrus) and RT Kareem MacKenzie.  What’s interesting is the cutting of Chris White, a back-up center who saw significant action in the pre-season.  With Adam Koets on the PUP and the cutting of Jim Cordle (who Coughlin called an “outstanding young guy” which is nice considering in 2 pre-seasons he received no significant playing time) the Giants will go into the season without a proven back-up center.  If Bass goes down, the Giants will have to move Snee or Petrus to the middle.  Giants fan should hope that scenario doesn’t occur.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The 2009 Giants defense was truly historically bad.  The 2010 Giants D was better although faded badly at the end of the year.  Unfortunately, like Amy Fisher trying to pick-up the pieces of her life again, the Giants ability to improve on the defensive side of the ball in 2011 may be greatly inhibited by injuries (as well as addiciton to alcohol and prescription pain killers).

On the defensive line, one will only hope that Osi Umenyiori comes back from a pre-season off to regain the form that made him a pass-rushing force in 2011 (although being a little more stout on the run would be nice). However the emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul and the return of Mathias Kiwanuka (who will be jumping back and forth between OLB and DE) should help hold the fort down if it takes time for Osi to round into shape.

The biggest concern will be in the interior, where their best DT from 2010 Barry Cofield jumped ship to go the Redskins (because Barry loves pain…he’s actually relocating his Dominatrix Mistress Amy to DC because playing in the Cock and Ball Torture that is Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins apparently isn’t enough) and 2nd round pick Marvin Austin will spend his time rehabbing with Terrell Thomas and taking money advice from Sage Rosenfels on the IR.  So basically a collection of journeyman – Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, and recently signed ex-1st rounder Jimmy Kennedy – will join future journeyman Linval Joseph in what could be a real weak point for the Giants unless someone turns out to be a lot better than anticipated.

Dave Tollefson continues to find a way to make the squad, which was bad news for Alex Hall and Ayanaga “Don’t Call Me Hal” Okpokuwuruk, both of whom made impact at various times in the pre-season. Interestingly the Giants chose to keep less impressive pre-season performers – Justin Trattou and Dwayne Hendricks – on the practice squad. Hendricks was, like Hopkins, a move made more out of a desperate need for depth than anything else.  But why Trattou?  It’s like the time BK chose to have a mid-life crisis at the age of 30 and bought a porsche.  Why would you do that?  The parts alone make cost of ownership prohibitive. That’s why I drive a Schwinn.

The fact that Jimmy Kennedy, who was in camp about as long Men Without Hats was popular, beat out Gabe Watson for a spot doesn’t speak much for the once promising Watson.  But it did seem that Watson had a unique ability to find himself on the receiving end of pancake blocks this pre-season so I can’t say his dismissal was surprising.

LINEBACKERS

All hail the rooks! Welcome aboard Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich.  All four players deserved to make the roster and it was good to see the Giants reward performance.  In a strange way Clint Sintim’s injury made keeping all four easier.  The cutting of Phillip Dillard would have been a surprise had you predicted it at the start of the pre-season but not after watching him play.  It wasn’t that Dillard was terrible, he wasn’t.  He wasn’t a terrible draft pick in the 4th last year.  He wasn’t terrible at the University of Nebraska.  But he’s one of these guys who’s always going to be replaceable because he’ll never start in the league and he’ll never be good enough to have a coaching staff keep him over a better performer.  Like Peter Scolari.

The starters will be Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff and the converted (again) Kiwanuka.  But my prediction is the end of the year starters will be Greg Jones manning the middle alongside Boley and probably Herzlich.

Zak DeOssie is no longer even listed as a linebacker but rather just “Long Snapper.” I don’t know how I’d feel about that if I was Zak.  It’s kind of like being listed as just a “fluffer.” Or just the “bass player” for Van Halen. Of just “Vice President Biden.” But when in doubt, two of those three could step into the job if asked to…and so Zak could play middle linebacker if absolutely necessary, but I can’t imagine a scenario where that would occur.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Well, the injury issues with Terrell Thomas and Prince Amakamura (who is on the active roster although out until October) have been well-discussed.  So let’s focus on who is ready to play.

The starters will be Corey Webster and Aaron Ross as the corners and Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips patrolling the deep middle as safeties.  Deion Grant will often be brought in as a 5th DB and truthfully that’s better than average.  It’s the lack of depth where lay the concern.

Late signee veteran Brian Williams and sometimes good, sometimes not so good Michael Coe basically become the back-up corners by default as none of the other (healthy) corners in camp did anything to show they belonged on a NFL roster.

6th Rounder Tyler Sash was okay and Darrick Martin apparently had a good enough game against the Pats to make the team as a 10th defensive back.

KICKERS AND PUNTERS

Let’s face it, Lawrence Tynes is no Raul Allegre (other than the fact that they both get hurt a lot).  So when Rhys Lloyd came into camp for an injured Tynes many a Giant fan hoped the healthy-eating Lloyd could kick Tynes out of a job.  But anyone who saw either the Jets or Pats pre-season game know that wasn’ t going to happen.  So now we have a mediocre professional kicker coming off a thigh injury and four-weeks of inaction opening the season.  Everything’s turning up Giants this year.

The fiercest battle in camp was for punter where ex-Jet vet Steve Weatherford beat out last year’s rookie disaster Matt Dodge.  Dodge did kick better this pre-season, but ultimately Weatherford is just the safest vet.  Apparently Dodge wasn’t that upset about being cut.  He just downed a Whey Protein and Creatine shake and hit Gold’s gym for 2-hours to work on some lat fly’s.

As for Weatherford, he’s not exciting but he’s solid and should create less stress for the Giants, which should be a relief since based on this pre-season the Giants may be punting a lot.

FINAL ROSTER THOUGHTS

This is the most uncertain Giants team heading into the season since Coughlin’s fist year as coach in 2004.  The Giants just seem flat below average at Tight End, Interior Defensive Line and Linebacker and have become suddenly very thin at receiver and cornerback.  However, they have a good quarterback, playmakers at wide receiver and defensive end and an excellent set of running backs.

So how will the Giants fare in 2011?  Stay tuned for the next podcast when BK and I discuss just that.

My favorite non-team sport is Tennis. This was likely cemented during the Golden Age of tennis when a handful of personalities seemingly dominated the sport – Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Geralitus, Vilas, Nastase. I think the Mayer brohers were in there…and Jose Luis-Clerc.  Roscoe Tanner would turn up every now and then.

However, if it wasn’t for NFL Football, I likely never would have grown an interest in tennis.  Because the U.S. Open Men’s final is always played on a Sunday during the NFL season.  So CBS would always dutifully follow-up its 1pm EST airing of NFL Football with the Men’s U.S. Open finals. This made tennis more captivating to me than a Jelena Jankovic crotch-shot.  We didn’t have a remote back then and only had 6 channel choices, so why not hang around and watch McEnroe beat Geralitus (’79), McEnroe over Borg (’80 & ’81), Connors over Lendle (’81 & ’82), McEnroe over Lendl (’83) and then a whole lot more of Lendl after that.

I love the U.S. Open.  It’s my favorite of the slams, in no small part because I can actually watch the matches without staying up all night or waking up at 5am.  The French can be as grueling to watch as it no doubt is to play (I actually like the Rome Open more because it’s just 2 out of 3 and the fans are so on top of the players on that Centre Court).  Wimbledon will always be the Stairway to Heaven of tennis tournaments, but let’s face it – the all-white, those freeloading Royals, watching Andy Murray lose every year.  It’s a little stodgy.  I actually think the Australian is underrated as it has a similar feel as the U.S. Open.  It seems like a fun tourney to go to.  But since I have to watch on TV and the finals are played at midnight PST, it takes a lot of the viewing pleasure away.  The only thing I want to be sneaking up to watch on 2am on a Sunday morning is a Girls Gone Wild informercial.  After sitting through the 5-hour Nadal-Federer classic a few years, where the great but strangely effiminate Rog broke down in tears leaving Nadal to make the most awkward “I’m sorry I beat you” victory speech since the owners, trainers and jockey of Birdstone apologized to America for beating Smarty Jones in the 2004 Belmont Stakes, I decided to invest in a DVR.

It’s funny how much tennis has changed and I think is in the process of changing again.  Take a look at old Tennis Channel replays of men’s or women’s past matches and the play seems so much slower than before.  How did a 39-year-old Jimmy Connors ever get to the ’91 Semi’s playing at that pace?  It’s like his game hadn’t changed speed since the ’75 Wimbledon final against Arthur Ashe.  And Ashe, watching him play is like going to a Norah Jones concert.  Can you just pick-up the pace a little bit Norah, I’m going comatose here.

A lot of people complain about the new equipment making net play seemingly impossible but I’ve noticed more players serve and volleying (or in the case of Novak Djokovic, at least showing a willingness at some point in the game to volley) than I have in the previous few years.  I’m not saying we’re returning to the days of a  McEnroe, Edberg or Sampras but I do think we’re looking at a very interesting U.S. Open in 2011 on the men’s side while the women’s side may get a boost of short-term stimulus.

MEN’S PREVIEW

I don’t like making tennis tournament predictions because picking upsets is just too random. It’s like picking North Dakota State to beat Duke in Round 1 of the NCAA Finals and at least in that case there’s a chance Kyle Sigler could get in early foul trouble.  The bottom line is Novak Djokovic is about ready to complete very possibly the most dominating tennis season in the history of the game.  In fact, if it wasn’t for a set-and-a-half retreat into the former self-loathing, whining, ready to quit Novak in the French semi against the Rog, and Novak probably is playing for the first 4-tourney Grand Slam triumph since Rod Laver.  And let’s face it, the only reason we’re not just handing him the title is because of the shoulder injury that reared its head in Cincinnati against Andy Murray in the final.  Even in Montreal, Djokovic looked sluggish against Mardy Fish, a player – with all do respect to Mardy – he should really never lose to.  Simply put, unless Djokovic’s shoulder acts up or he’s just physically depleted, Novak will win the 2011 U.S. Open against whomever he plays.

I am picking Murray to be my second choice and not just because he beat the disabled Djokovic in Cincy.  Murray has had such a strange season.  Finals in Australia before tanking in (yet another) Slam final.  First round losses in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne followed by a stronger than expected clay court season where he actually has a match point on Djokovic in the Rome semis and doesn’t completely embarrass himself against Nadal in the semis at the French.  A decent grass court season only to get knocked out in Round 1 in Montreal at the Rogers Cup.  Then, seemingly rusty, he wins the last major tourney before the U.S. Open.  I don’t really like Murray that much.  I don’t like his whiny demeanor or the way he barks at his coachless friends box when times go tough in matches.  It’s neither inspring nor charming, it’s just simply losing his cool while losing on the court.  Plus his teeth are nothing to write home about.

However, the truth is Nadal just seems to have lost his confidence and Federer looks like he shot his load in Roland Garros.  My guess is Nadal does make the final four here – he’s just too good not too, but I no longer think that Federer is clearly one of the top 4 players in the world.  He could make the finals, but he just as easily could lose to the likes of Berdych or Soderling or Fish or Ferrer or even Monfils (okay, not Monfils).

I think the interesting part of this year’s U.S. Open finals on the men’s side of the draw won’t necessarily be if anyone other than the Big 4 makes the semi’s but what of the young players who’ve been making noise at various points this year – Tomic, Dodig, Harrison, Young (I know, I know, I was just kidding about Young) – might make a run.  Maybe John Isner, who’s been doing bonkers at ATP 250 events this summer but let’s not also forget took Nadal to 5 sets at Wimbledon, might be worth a Round of 16 or even Quarterfinal run.  In the end though, the first week may prove to be more compelling than the last week as we make the inevitable march to crowning Djokovic champion.

WOMEN’S PREVIEW

Some say the problem with the economic stimulus package that President Obama signed into law shortly after taking office in 2009 was that it wasn’t big enough.  Some say it was too big.  But perhaps the real problem is that it turned out to be short-term stimulus.  A brief jolt that kept things stable but failed to provide long-term (or more accurately medium-term) growth.  Like a Jolt Cola.  Or Cocaine.  Or a date with Martina Hingis after she had a Jolt Cola spiked with cocaine.  This year’s season of women’s tennis seems to be the same way.

Even before her body was breaking down, Kim Clijsters had already said she was only going to play through the 2012 Olympics.  It was great seeing Li Na and Franchesca Schiovone battle it out in the French as they both pushed 30 but it also illustrated how few comers the women’s game really has.  Petra Kvitova hasn’t followed up her Wimbledon victory with much this summer, Caroline Wozniacki continues to convince no one of her Slam credentials and the fact that Marion Bartoli keeps turning up in finals while the likes of Julia Georges and Sabine Lisicki continue to stay mired in the 20’s in the WTA rankings seems to prove that women’s tennis is mired in a double dip rut.

Which brings us to the two highest profiles and most popular players in women’s tennis – Serena Williams (who’s 2 for 2 this summer with victories in Palo Alto and Toronto) and Maria Sharapova (fresh off victory in Cincinnati) – potentially destined for a U.S. Open clash in the finals.  And I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen, which in one sense will be great for tennis.  It will be by far the most highly recognizable slam match the women’s game has seen since the infamous Clijsters-Serena U.S. Open semi in 2009.  But it also illustrates a problem.  Sharapova might have a few years at the top if she chooses to play regularly but Serena is almost certainly looking at the close of her career and for all we know this could be Venus’ last major event ever.  So this is a little like dragging Lennox Lewis out of retirement to fight Vitali Klitschko.  A lot of people would watch that bout, but in the end what does it say about a sport who can only find a broad audience by bringing out an over-40, long-since retired boxer fighting a soon to be retired boxer.  Lewis isn’t fighting anyone and Serena has proven when healthy and motivated she can still beat anyone in the world.  But I’m sorry, no player no matter how good should be able to miss a year (a year in which she hardly played due to injury) and then after a couple grass court matches dominate the field during the hard court season.  Look up and down the women’s game and there seems to be no one ready to make a move.  The men’s game may be short of U.S. players but the women’s game just seems short of transcendent players period.

Can Wozniacki counter punch her way to a final? Does Jankovic’s final appearance in Cincinnati signal a resurgence?  Does Ana Ivanovic still have any spark in the tank?  Any young players ready to make even a Round of 16 run?

I predict a Serena 3-setter win over Sharapova in the final  A classic to be replayed and reminisced about for years.  But also, like the farewell concert of a great band, it will end with fans looking back instead of looking forward.

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