Is that a movie title starring Ron Jeremy and four nubile young ladies? Of course not, that movie is called “Move the Train, Pop” and actually stars Ray Victory.
Just for explanation purposes Ben Affleck isn’t Ray Victory, but Amy did pull a train and has to carry Affleck in this scene. Why exactly is Ben Affleck famous again? I now know what the phrase, “Well if Ben Affleck can make it than I guess anyone really can be successful in Hollywood” means.
Move the chains is actually not a movie title – or a play on one – but rather the emotional phrase uttered by ex-Giants middle linebacker Michael Barrow during a game one Sunday afternoon. The hard hitting, bible-thumping, Miami U graduatin’ (or at least attendin’), strategic thinkin’, and defensive-play callin’ middle linebacker had helped put the Giants in a position to win on Sunday afternoon. But now it was up to the offense to get a few first downs and run out the clock. Barrow, continuing to keep his head in the game, stood on the sidelines next to one of the officials holding the first down chain. And every time the Giants got another 1st, Barrow would scream at the card-carrying AARP member “MOVE THE CHAINS, POP!”
And that’s what a great middle linebacker (or even inside linebacker in a 3-4 set) is all about. The defensive QB, the run stopper, the competent pass defender (or perhaps more accurately in Antonio Pierce’s case – hard working pass defender who means well) and emotional leader on and off the field.
Look at the way Mike Singletary leads the 49ers – he pulled his fucking pants down in a team speech a few years ago and this time it WASN’T at a gay bath house in Frisco. He was the man in the middle.
Look at the way Harry Carson has led the fight for pension benefits for ex-NFL players. He was the man in the middle.
Look at the acting chops Dick Butkus shows in “My Two Dads.” He’s atrocious – but it wasn’t him – it was the material. When partnered with a genius like Dangerfield – he shines over a defensive lineman like Bubba Smith. Because he was the man in the middle.
This year’s crop of middle linebackers runs about as deep as BK’s collection of artisan breads (which today stands at 4 not including the now stale rasberry multi-grain enriched with flax, whey and Gu).
You’ve got to like Rolando McClain, Alabama’s 3rd-team All-American with smarts like Pierce, passion like Barrow and, if given the chance, Ellen Page like acting skills (because he can be wry, sarcastic and witty when discussing issues with officials…before he bumps them). McClain is a big piece of rhubarb pie coming in at over 250lbs. with real strength and just a solid all-around game with no significant flaws. Some do question his speed and wonder if he’ll be a liability in the passing game, but it hasn’t stopped his stock from rising with some even having him going in the Top 10, possibly to Oakland.
Brandon Spikes also has got a little Barrow in him with some questionable physicals. A first-team All-America with good all-around skills he’s fallen behind McLain and slipped probably into the 2nd round because some question is overall game skills and playmaking ability. But in the middle you need to be solid and a look around the league’s current crop of “effective” middle linebackers and there’s no reason Spikes can’t find a home somewhere.
I went ahead and projected Penn State’s Sean Lee on the outside so let’s wrap it up with a couple interesting physical prospects, Iowa’s athletic Patrick Angerer and Washington strong man Donald Butler.
BK loves Butler’s 35 reps not to mention his stout 6’1″, 245 lbs. frame. But Butler’s play hasn’t always been sterling and he comes into the draft with minimal heat as some question his instincts for the position.
Angerer seems miscast on the inside at just 235 lbs. and an impressive 4.69 40 along with a workable 4.29 shuttle (SHUFFLE THOSE FEET!) but his 6’0″ frame seems to lock him on the inside. More a backer in a 3-4 set than running the show in the middle Angerer was a 2nd team All-American for the upstart Hawkeyes last year and if he can maintain 3-down punishment he has the skillz to be a 3-down player.
BK doesn’t love a lot of men, especially after he paid off the last of his student loans in March of 2006 and wasn’t in such dire financial shape anymore. But BK LOVED Dan Morgan coming out of the U in 2001. “I don’t see anything he can’t do on the field,” gushed BK over the athletic and white Morgan. “He’s like the Sehorn of the linebacking corps but tries much much harder.” At first BK thought Morgan might slip to where the Giants sat at 31. But as the draft drew closer it became clear Morgan was going in the Top 15 and the Giants only hope was a trade. “It’s a deep year for corners,” reassured Ernie Accorssi to BK on a conference call. “But we can package this year’s #1 and #3 plus next year’s #1 and get Morgan!” disagreed BK, growing more belligerent as the call progressed. (Other calls BK believes he had that never occurred, “Don’t trade every pick you have for him Ditka, I think Ricky likes the hash”; “It’s 1992 already Douglas Wilder, the country is ready for a black president”; and “No Bigelow, you can’t reverse cast – no one will buy Reeves as a cop and Swayze as a surfer.”). BK’s thoughts were bold – the Giants had started the forgettable Ryan Philips the year before and made the Super Bowl in spite of it. Morgan seemingly had the skills to play inside or out on either the strong or weak side. He really could do it all and with Jesse Armstead and Barrow not getting any younger, BK could see the future. But that trade never occurred…rather the Giants traded 9 spaces up to grab bling wearing corner Will Allen from the ‘Cuse (“You’re telling me they couldn’t have sweetened the pot a little more and gotten up to 10 to grab Morgan?’). Unfortunately for Morgan, injuries and concussions have kept him off the field for too many games. Allen, meanwhile, redefined what the phrase “soft coverage” means. Once in a game against Dallas, the Cowboys lined up 33-year-old tight end Jackie Harris wide and Allen shifted over to cover him and gave him a 15-yard cushion. At that stage in his career, Jackie Harris couldn’t run past Michael J. Fox post Parkinson’s but it didn’t matter to Allen, who not only allowed Harris an easy 8 yard catch but then waited for a linebacker to come over and help him finish off the tackle.
TOP 8 INSIDE LINEBACKERS
Rolando McClain, Alabama
I like what McClain brings to the table with substantial DDI’s and a nice score on the BK-o-Meter.
Brandon Spikes, Tennessee
BK-o-Meter not high, but DDI brings Spikes up. I’d have him rated above Sean Lee too.
Patrick Angerer, Iowa
Neither BK or I can ignore the impressive all-around physicals, although BK has never liked those “lilly-livered soft Iowa farm-boys.”
Donald Butler, Washington
Despite the strength even the BK-o-Meter is quivering. But he is intriguing.
Darryl Sharpton, Miami
Can you say “Sam Mills.” Try it…Ssssss…aaaaaa….mmmmm. Good, and then…Muh…ill….ssssss. Excellent. Because he was a much better player than Sharpton will ever be.
Roddrick Muckelroy, Texas
Hottest new T-Shirt in town, “Why not Muckelroy?”
Jamar Chaney, Mississippi State
BK-o-Meter is actually unable to judge because it’s set to automatically reject anyone with the last name Chaney (which really hurt Lon Chaney’s chances last when the BK-0-Meter judged “Greatest Horror Stars pre-1950”). But Jamar could really develop into something. He’s fast at 4.54 40, strong with 26 reps and showed some flashy hip movement on the 3-cone drill. He also went to Miss. State which means you better be a 3-4.
Kion Wilson, South Florida
Well, we’ve been mentioning a fair amount of South Florida guys so why not end with Kion.
BK LUCKY NUMBER 9
Ryan D’Imperio, Rutgers
You can take the kid out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the kid. Or so said a hooker to BK after he tried to pay her with a coupon from Pisa Pizza, a bag of saltwater taffy and a promise to have his uncle’s construction company do a little work for her on the back porch. “I don’t have a back porch,” rejected Shaquita, “Well then what did I just tap – OH SNAP,” retorted BK. Interestingly enough, Ryan D’Imperio has a family member in the construction business because he’s from Jersey and his name is D’Imperio.