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I’d been meaning to write this blog post forever.  Before the Giants pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers.  Before the Giants pre-season game against the Chicago Bears.  Before Terrell Thomas’ injury.  Before Hurricane (make that Tropical Storm) Irene flooded the Jersey Shore.  But one needs to understand that I have a thriving business, an active social calendar, a pregnant wife and…who am I kidding, you don’t care.  My throngs of loyal readers need my blog posts the way a gambler needs a blackjack table, the way an addict needs Oxycontin, the way Jennifer Love Hewitt needs men to dump her.  They can’t get enough.  For example, take this email I received last week from delossantos4u@rocketmail.com: “Shit for Brains.   All Praise Jehovah, you’re blasphemous posts have stopped.  I need to read another example of your juvenile rambling like I need an anvil up my ass.  Fuck you cocksucker.  Cordially yours, Susie.”  I emailed Susie back, thanked her for the correspondence, reassured her this long-awaited blog post was coming and then told her she used the wrong “you’re” (it should be “your”).

The Giants off-season got off on the wrong foot from the get go.  I distinctly remember sitting in front of my Panasonic 40-incher watching ESPN when John Clayton came onto the screen.  As usual, my heart went aflutter.  We were about 2 days from the end of the lockout and he spoke about which team would be most behind the 8-ball under the new CBA and wouldn’t you know who he mentioned first – The New York Super Bowl Bound Football Giants. 11+ over the cap.  I felt like Paul Newman when he gets hustled by Forest Whitaker in The Color of Money.  It’s in the way that you use it, baby, and I felt like a now deceased purveyor of quality low-fat salad dressings and canned dog food.  How did the Giants management get caught so flat-footed?  Why did we sign Chris Canty to all that money? How did it take that long for Newman to get an Oscar?

So the Giants cut three offensive linemen – Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Shawn Michaels, who for some reason didn’t want to re-structure his contract.  Like there’s a huge market for manic-depressive offensive linemen who haven’t started in 3 years.  This was the biggest mistake in judgement since BK passed up on going to Subway off a highway exit near Fresno becuase he thought he could find something better.  Six exits later, he had to settle for a Sardine and Potato Bug Panini from the Jack in the Box.  It was either that or the Teriyaki Bowl and you’ve all read the Snoops on the Jack in the Box Teriyaki Bowl.

The issue wasn’t so much that the 3 players cut were going to be reserving their 2012 tickets to Miami for the Pro Bowl (although Seubert played well last year) but this shuffle would result in a new ass for QB Eli Manning to stick his hands under and only slightly less disturbing would require the introduction of William Beatty, the talented but hardly confidence-inducing 3rd year pro from UConn, to protect Manning’s blind side.  You may not have realized this, but Eli’s not the best at anticpating weakside pressure.

Of course those depatures pailed in comparison with the Osi Unemyiora drama.  Osi claims that GM Jerry Reese promised he’d re-nag his contract if Osi played at a certain level.  What this level was or how it would be measured by was apparently never discussed nor was this agreement ever codified on paper.  It’s like the pre-nup with my ex-wife.  She said she’d be able to sleep around if I didn’t perform at a certain level.  I assume she meant we were going to go by the “Play-60” standard famously established during the 2006 Arianne Jollee Gang Bang Video “All I need is 60 from 60”.  But apparently “Play-60” refers to minutes not seconds and apparently also refers to getting kids to go outside and play for at least 60 minutes and was unrelated to the Jollee opus.  Or so said the mediator.

Osi demanded a trade but the Giants demanded on a 1st or 2nd round draft pick in return.  That’s like Julie Benz turning down a supporting role on the new ABC series “Pan Am” because she’s holding out to get the Catwoman role.  I know Benz is the centerpiece around the mind-numblingly satisfying season finale of Dexter, Season 4 but she’s no Hathaway. And Hathaway’s no Pfeifer.  And Pfeifer’s no Kitt.  And Kitt was no Julie Newmar.  But it seems to me as if the suave Umenyiori is doing just fine for himself Thank You Very Much.

So first Osi holds out.  Then he shows up to camp but doesn’t play.  Then right before he says he will play it turns out he can’t because he needs surgery and will be out the rest of the pre-season.  It was like the time BK got pinned in less than a minute in the first round of the NJSSFW Playoffs.  That was a Play-15.  He claimed illness, but I wanted to know where was the heart.  Osi’s a good player.  He’s a very good pass rusher.  But I sort of felt despite the big sack and fumble numbers last year he wasn’t irreplaceable, especially with the maturity of Jason Pierre-Paul and the return of Mathias Kiwanuka.  It’s just that it was more turmoil for a team that didn’t need it.

The rest of the off-season was also a hodgepodge of disappointment with little to cheer us up, other than the Ahmad Bradshaw re-sign.  We lose Kevin Boss – again in and of itself not an unrecoverable loss – but the guy we end up trying to replace him with retires after one day because he decides he has familly issues and would rather work as a stocker at Petco than go through Giants camp.  And it wasn’t like Ben Patrick was a particularly inspired choice to replace The Big Concussion anyway.  We brought in Daniel Coates to take his place and he’s a lot like former Patriots star tight end Ben Coates – in the sense that they have the same last name.  In every other way, Daniel Coates is much much worse.

The draft class performance hasn’t been particularly noteworthy either, with the exception of Greg Jones and some spark if nothing else from Marvin Austin.  The Prince held out, practiced a day and then broke his foot.  And BK’s favorite Jernell Jernigan through two pre-season games has been…oh what’s the word…let me see, oh that’s right – TERRIBLE. BK doesn’t want to hear it but it seems like we may have replaced Sinorice Moss with Sinorice Moss.

The Giants were atrocious during the first pre-season game in Carolina, a team that looks to be every bit as inept this year as last.  Take away Pierre-Paul and there was nothing to be excited about in the game and let me tell you the Panthers local broadcast of that game – which is was NFL Network showed – was terrible too.  Graphics straight out of 1997, questionable direction and camera work on punts and an announcing team that can be described as…oh what’s the word…let me see, oh that’s right – Jernell Jernigan like.

And then we had the Bears game and that seemed like just what the doctor ordered.  The Bears helped the Giants get well during the regular season last year and they were primed to do the same in the 2nd pre-season game.  Nothing like the site of Lovie Smith on the sideline and Jay Cutler, who despite that ESPN The Magazine Puff Piece is still as big a prick as ever, to give an opposing team confidence.  I mean look at the Bears this year…really look at them and then the rest of the division.  They have 6-10 written all over them.

And if it wasn’t for one play in the final minute of the first half that’s exactly what Chicago’s softest sports franchise would have provided the G-Men.  Solid Offense, Solid Defense, Spectacular Specials and a door slammed shut to end the misery section of this pre-season.  But the injury of Terrell Thomas was devastating.  I don’t want to overstate injuries.  I think we can recover from injuries to Osi or Ramses Barden and we’re likely better without Lawrence Tynes.  I think the O-Line will be serviceable, but Thomas’ injury now leaves us with inconsistent Corey Webster and Aaron Ross and his paper maiche hammy’s.  With the exception of Justin Tuck, there is not one player on the defensive side of the ball the Giants could have afforded to lose less.

But let’s face it, the real reason the Giants off-season has been so sad is not merely their internal travails, but what the hard to stomach Eagles have done.  After signing Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins (not to mention more sizzle than steak signees Vince Young and Ronnie Brown), the cheap hit artists from Cheese Steak USA took Steve Smith away from the Giants.  Maybe the Giants dragged their feet…maybe the Eagles made him an offer he couldn’t refuse…or maybe Smith just wanted to leave Coach C, Eli and the rest.  But for whatever reason, it seemed as if re-signing Smith was a fait accompli and then he goes not to the Texans or Titans or even the Jets…but to the Eagles.  It’s as if the Eagles did this just to spite the Giants and the G-Men management seemed more bewildered than this cat.

Luckily for the Giants, the Eagles can’t get out of their own way.  Vince Young called the Eagles the “Dream Team” which is pretty ballsy from a guy who won’t play, quit on his former team twice and was once put on a suicide watch.  And while it’s hard to believe Nnamdi won’t be great, the rest of the signings won’t make the Eagles that much better.  Babin is a journeyman coming off a couple flash in the pan years, Jenkins is good not great and that offensive line is terrible.  I mean the Eagles first-round draft pick is 3 years away from applying for Medicare. Finally, we all know Andy Reid can’t win the big one.

It doesn’t seem it can get any worse for the G-Men, who have had glimpses of hope – Devin Thomas looks like a special teams maven, Dominick Hixon may solidify the 3rd receiver position and the Giants rookie linebackers Jones, Herzlich, Williams and Payslinger all look good putting the likes of Clint Sintim and Phillip Dillard from being sure-fire roster spots to fighting for their roster lives.  And there’s J-P-P.

So now the Giants play the Jets on Monday, which has become a depressing game since this is the first time I can remember where the Jets had really proven themselves undebatably as the better New York area team heading into the season.  But at this point, there’s no place for the Giants to go but up this pre-sesaon. Let’s just hope win-or-lose Monday night, the Giants stay healthy and just for our sense of self it would be nice if Plax didn’t have a big a game either.

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That time of year has come again. We can all smell it as clear as we can smell the Wild Boar bacon sizzling off the grill at Little Dom’s in Los Feliz while a wayward hipster in his mid-30’s sits outside with his woe-begotten mom and asks her for money…again.  Tyler Carroll lives with a pot dealer whose business fell off 5 years ago when he became mildly addicted to crystal meth and one wonders when he asks his mother Carol Carroll for another $5000-  and this will be it because he knows someone who’s an intern at the Jimmy Kimmel show and he feels he’s got an “in” –  if either of them actually believes this is true.  They both know he stopped trying long ago and he will not be successful in his quest.  In the football business we call that the “Jim Cordle.”

I can’t make it more clear than that and I know you all know where I’m going with this – it’s time for my annual prediction of who will make the final 53 for the New York Super Bowl Bound Football Giants.  We had to wait a bit as so many rosters are still being worked out throughout the league and uncertainty is most certainly a factor with the G-Men as well.  Kevin Boss and Steve Smith remain unsigned, drama continues to swirl around Osi Unemyiori and Barry Mankowitz, long time milk dud and red vine vendor in sections 38B through 47A may not be able to start the season due to hip replacement surgery and a mild addiction to crystal meth.  Still, I’ve never been one scared to take a risk.  Back in ’94 I voted for Republican Joe Rogers over Democrat Diana Degette in the heavily liberal leaning Cap Hill district of Denver and I’m not even a registered Republican.  But I took that chance because I could sense a winner and as 39% of the voters would confirm I was clearly right.

So write this smack down in pen…below is who the 53 final players will be for the Giants when camp breaks.

QUARTERBACK

This isn’t about Eli.  We’ll have plenty of time to talk about the fleet footed, steady armed, wise decision-making ex-Super Bowl MVP from Ole Miss throughout the season.  The battle here is for the back-up QB.    Last season the Giants brought in the former Colt Jim Sorgi to be the back-up after David Carr, the #2 QB in 2008 and ’09, decided to battle Alex Smith for the starters job in San Francisco.  That worked out well for both – Sorgi suffered a season-ending injury in the first pre-season game while Carr ended the season as the 49ers third-stringer and was released in the off-season.  Last pre-season 2009 draft pick Rhett Bhomer took the majority of the snaps for the G-Men and was rewarded by being cut when the Giants traded for veteran back-up and future money lender Sage Rosenfels.  And it was assumed Rosenfels would be the back-up again this year but Jerry Reese fooled us again by re-signing Carr.  Prior to that the only question was would ex-LSU problem child Ryan Perrilloux actually see any snaps as a quarterback this pre-season.  Now we have a battle between the underachieving Carr and the overachieving Rosenfels.  And the winner?  I think Carr simply because the Giants are at the cap and Carr comes in at a cheaper price.  Since Manning hasn’t missed a game since taking over as the starter mid-way through the ’04 season it’s not likely either will play so why not save the $$ and go with Carr.  The only way I see Rosenfels making it is if Carr plays just awfully during camp and in the preseason.  Let’s not kid ourselves, that’s completely possible.  But we’re going to assume Carr’s able to make his throws against 2nd teamers and makes the squad.

RUNNING BACKS

The re-signing of Ahmed Bradshaw was a giant WHEW for Giants fans who had visions of Bradshaw heading elsewhere and the Giants desperately signing Ronnie Brown in response.  But Bradshaw is back and the Eagles signed Brown- what a bunch of jackasses in Philly.  But that’s a topic we can talk about any day.  With Bradshaw back and Brandon Jacobs coming off a rejuvenated 2nd half in 2010 the question is who will the back-ups be.  D.J. Ware has been a pre-season marvel the last few seasons but injuries and lack of time have given him limited chances in any real games.  Still, Ware seems like a cinch as the third back especially since he gives you a solid if unspectacular back-up option as a kick returner too.  I predict the Giants surprise and keep 4 half backs which gives us a 3-way battle between Andre Brown of NC State, Charles Scott of LSU and this year’s late round pick Da’rel Scott from Maryland.  BK loves the hard running Scott and feels he’s a rough, salty, muscled, well-hung diamond who can be smoothed over into a guy who can pound the hole.  BK can go on about Scott for hours and the homo-erotic overtones are disarming.  Brown seemed like a shoe-in in ’09 when he was drafted but got hurt at the beginning of camp.  He had moments last pre-season but was clearly outplayed by Ware and the Giants didn’t want to carry a 4th HB.  As for Da’rel Scott, I’m all for apostrophe’s in the middle of your first name but I have a problem with a guy who peaked as a freshman in college.  What Brown and D.Scott bring to the table is – at least in theory – the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.  But honestly, how hard is that?  As long as your name isn’t Brandon, Madison or Bear anyone can do it.  My guess is this will be Brandon Jacobs’ last year in blue and if the salty Cajun Charles Scott performs well in camp I’m giving him the 4th spot and possible BJ heir apparent in ’12.

Madison Hedgecock, who did little of anything last year, is gone and the Giants seem to be committed to 260-pound Pitt Panther rookie Henry Hynoski as their full-back and I’m fine with that…I guess.  I assume you’ll see a lot of Ten Toes Pascoe lining up in the FB spot but who knows maybe Hynoski will be the next coming of Charles Way – or the first coming of Henry Hynoski.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Last year it seemed the Giants were so deep at receiver we couldn’t possibly keep Sinorice Moss on the roster. Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Dominick Hixon, the inevitable emergence of man-child Ramses Barden and the spectacular UMass product Victor Cruz.  Now, all of the sudden just a year later questions abound and the Giants seem so slim that they even considered re-signing jailbird Plaxico Burress.  Smith is unsigned and injured, Hixon is coming off an injury after missing the entire year, Barden is looking bustier than Stacy Collerette in the 8th grade and Cruz ended up on the IR.  So while the Giants starters will be set with Nicks and Manningham, the 3rd receiver spot is wide open.  Even if Smith is re-signed he probably starts the season on the PUP. Barden will get first shot at the #3 but I have a feeling this is all she wrote for the Cal Poly SLO product.  I just don’t see a spark and him starting camp on the PUP ain’t helping his cause any.  Cruz probably gets the next try and I don’t know, maybe he pulls it off.  Then it probably goes to Hixon, although the Giants would love 3rd round rook Jerrel Jernigan to emerge.  Other guys who could fit in the mix include returning vet Michael Clayton, long since passed his productive receiving years, vet Devin Thomas, returner bust Darius Reynaud and Duke Calhoun, the other surprise receiver to make it out of camp last year who was so terrible that after just a few downs he was replaced by free-agents Clayton and Derek Hagen.  There are a few other wide-outs on the roster and the name that caught my attention was Todd Watkins from Grossmont J.C.  I know nothing about him but I once had a date with a 40-year-old woman while attending SDSU and we saw The Flinstones at the Grossmont Movie Theaters.  The date was terrible.  At the end of the night I asked her if she wanted to see me again.  I didn’t really want to, I just felt obligated to ask.  She said to me “Well, like I said, I really like physically bigger guys.” Then why did you agree to go out with me?  That’s $6 for a movie ticket I will not get back!  At least there’s addition by subtraction as Moss is finally gone.  Anyway, my guess is Barden gets cut and we end up with 6 receivers – Nicks, Manningham, Cruz, Hixon, and Jernigan with Smith re-signed but out for the first 6 weeks of he season.

TIGHT ENDS

The question was what will become of The Big Concussion.  Kevin Boss was unsigned and I was sure some team like the Cardinals or the Jags or the Seahawks would sign him but it ended up being the Raiders – which makes sense for numerous reasons. I don’t understand why it took so long. KB is good for one catch a game and is close to being an effective blocker.  Word is the Giants brought in vet Ben Patrick to take over for Boss.  You have to assume Travis Beckum makes the squad although he hasn’t done much, can’t block and it’s not completely inconceivable the Giants give up on him.  Ten Toes Pascoe performed with heart – if not always skill – last season primarily playing an H-Back like role.  I assume they keep Pascoe as the de facto full back and our man Hynoski lands on the practice squad.  Or they keep both.  Or they just cut Pascoe.  It’s a fascinating scenario, like creating a show about a cancer-stricken science teacher who ends up dealing crystal meth.  Why does Kevin Boss keep bringing up crystal meth? Anything to soothe the constant headaches.  The Giants have two other TE’s on the roster – Christian Hopkins and Jake Ballard.  Neither will make the final 53.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The times, they are a changing.  Don’t believe me, just ask Lady Gaga, who wrote that song while painting her toe-nails in her Brooklyn apartment after sending out a Tweet to her Little Monsters to Express Themselves before heading out to the Newport Folk Festival and shocking the non-Monsters by performing in red spandex with purple pointed tits and, most shockingly, taking it all acoustic.  What was it…four years the Giants O-Line was Diehl, Snee, O’Hara, Seubert, MacKenzie?  That changed when the Giants first moves after the lockout ended was to cut the ex-Scarlett Night O’Hara and his faulty-backed side kick Seubert (not to mention former Eagles manic-depressive Shawn Andrews).  O’Hara was injured for parts of last year and didn’t play very well when we was in the line-up so his dismissal was no surprise.  But Seubert’s cut was. Seubert played well at center while O’Hara was out and after the Adam Koets experience exploded like a guitar on stage.  But his back was traction waiting to happen and I guess it did make some sense salary cap wise but still I hated to see the big Lithuanian go and its created an interesting scenario for the G-Men.  MacKenzie and Snee stay put, but the hope now is that the Giants can move Diehl inside to guard and that ex-49 David Baas can make the transition from guard to center.  I imagine he can and Diehl will be a stronger guard than LT but this is all hindering on either talented but still raw William Beatty taking over at LT (or journmeyman Stacy Andrews).  It’s a bit of a scary proposition since if neither swing it than the Giants would be forced to put Diehl back outside and plug the intellectual and mind-numbingly large-assed Kevin Boothe at guard.  Regardless of how the starting group looks, you figure the Giants will keep 9 OLinemen and 7 of those spots are taken up by the aforementioned.So the roster battle is for those final 2 spots.  Someone has to be the back-up center and it looks like the Giants have given up on the granola-eating Koets for that job as he’s listed at tackle this year.  Koets was a bad reach pick as a tackle out of Oregon State 5 years ago and then he was hidden as a back-up center until exposed last year.  If 2nd-year strong man Mitch Petrus plays a little center this pre-season and pulls it off that could be all she wrote for Koets.  The only other pure center on the roster is wide-based Jim Cordle –  a long shot – although there are a host of other guards on the roster who coaches could try to slide over.  The 9th spot seemingly will be handed to the Koets-like 4th round reach OT James Brewer from Indiana.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Like receiver this position seemed like an embarrassment of riches at the start of last pre-season.  So rich, in fact, that the Giants cut Super Bowl hero (and ace long-snapper) Jay Alford.  But the departure of their top Defensive Tackle Barry Cofield (a FA signing with the Skins), Mathias Kiwanuke’s injury, the 2010 ineffectiveness of Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph and the drama surrounding Osi U make this year’s DL progress interesting.  Still, if Osi stays (and Jerry Reese says he will) than there may not be many battles here for the 8 spots – Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiori, Mathias Kiwanuka and athletic freak Jason Pierre-Paul at end and Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard and 2nd round UNC trouble child Marvin Austin at tackle.   The one big piece of bologna who could sneak into the mix is 340lbs. vet Gabe Watson who’s more nose tackle then an interior player in a 4-3 set but hey that didn’t stop the Giants from spending a 2nd round pick on  Joseph and look how well that’s turning out.  If the Giants keep 10 linemen, I say 2010 late round reach Adrian Tracy from the charming college William & Mary gets a chance to develop as a situational pass rusher if he shows anything in camp.  The only other lineman who could crack the group is 5-year vet Dave Tollefson and his West Hollywood arm band tattoo.  Tollefson has been luckier than BK at a Mexican strip club after he gives a 19-year-old girl $400 and his surprising ability on specials keeps him in the mix but let’s be honest – he’s not that good on specials.  He just looks good in a fairly sorry group.  My guess is the clock strikes 12, the glass slipper breaks, Harry Potter grows up and Dave Tollefson moves on to a career in construction.

LINEBACKERS

It is hard to imagine how the Giants linebacking corps – home of Sam Huff, Brad Van Pelt, Harry Carson, Carl Banks, Lawrence Taylor, Jessie Armstead, Brian Kelly – has been so diminished that Giant fans are reminiscing about the days when Corey Widmer patrolled the middle. Sure Michael Boley is a nice player, but not a playmaker and he’s the best LB the Giants have by far.  Jonathan Goff was handed the Middle Linebacker job (and will be again this  year) and he was good for like one decent tackle a game.  The man is a Vandy grad which means he’s a genius.  Don’t believe me?  He’s managed to become the starting middle linebacker for the New York Giants despite the fact that no one knows for sure if he can really play.  The 3rd starting linebacker was Keith Bullock who was so far past his prime he basically did the Luc Longley – he would start and after a few plays be replaced and that was pretty much the last you saw of him. This year, the Giants will replace Bullock with Virginia’s Clint Sintim and really who knows.  He did nothing as a designated speed rusher last year but he was undersized.  Perhaps he might emerge this year and honestly what other choice do the G-Men really have.  Special teamer Zak DeOssie, 2010 rookie dud Phillip Dillard and this year’s 6th round pick Greg Jones, an All-American from Michigan State coming off a poor post-season and combine, are all shoe-ins for the next 3 spots. If they keep a 7th backer (and Tracy could also fill that role) the press will focus on cancer-survivor Mark Herzlich, but one wonders if his UFL physicals will translate to NFL success (or even NFL good-enough to be on a practice squad) and it’s just as possible other camp invitees like FSU’s Kenny Ingram (who played decently last pre-season) or Oregon’s Spencer Payslinger,who will go into businses with Rosenfels when his career is over, could also sneak onto the final 53 if they show some sizzle on specials.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

The Giants went value in the 1st round of this year draft by picking Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara and I was all for it.  I mean the guy was picked to go as high as 7th in some mocks and he landed at pick 19? You can never have too many good DB’s in this man’s NFL and I liked the pick right up until the Prince held out and then broke his foot on his 2nd day of practice.  Now all of the sudden Anthony Costanzo is looking better.  But what’s done is done and with inconsistent but more good than bad Corey Webster and rising star Terrelle Thomas, along with oft-injured ex-1st rounder Aaron “Hammy and Swiss” Ross mean the Giants should still be fine at CB even if the Prince’s development is delayed.  Deion Grant was a big play guy for the Giants last year and his departure has BK worried, espeically since he felt both Kenny Phillips and Antrelle Rolle underperformed last year.  But I told BK to sit down, have a turkey polish sausage and wash it down with a Trader Jose’s lager and relax.  Neither player was bad last year and this will be Phillips 2nd full year after his injury and Rolle’s 2nd year in Perry Fewell’s system and I think they’ll both be quite good this year,but depth is a concern as Michael Johnson is gone too.  A host of not particularly established 2nd, 3rd and 4th year players will round out the field and it’s a blind hat grab to which of the following will round the roster out:  Michael Coe, Joe Burnett, Bob Stoops illegally recruited Brian Jackson and the guy I like Stillman’s own sub-6 footer Brian Witherspoon. Iowa free-agent rookie Tyler Sash could also find himself in the mix.

SPECIAL TEAMS

In life, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  You go to Madrid to see the Mutua Madrid Open.  You hit a bar.  Across the bar you see Ana Ivanovic drowning her sorrows after a 2nd-round loss to Irina-Camelia Begu.  You go over to her, you offer her some black tar heroin, tell her your Novak Djokovic’s estranged brother and you take her back to your hostel and make sweet love.  You Win. Later that year you go to the Western & Southern Open in Cincy. Ivanovic pulled out.  You’re staying at a Super 8.  You have too much to drink plus you’ve developed a mild addiction to Crystal Meth.  You see Magdelena Rybarikova across a bar celebrating her victory over Irin-Carmelia Begu.  You approach her but she shoots you down because she feels good about herself and you smell like clay.  So you end up going home with Akgul Ammanmuradova, who didn’t even qualify for the tourney, and she ends up robbing you and you’re not even sure if intercourse occurred and if it did you’re not that happy about it because it was with Akgul Ammanmuradova.  You Lose.

The parallel is undeniable.  There are inevitable clips that will last in football lore that show the Giants winning – Jim Burt knocking out Joe Montana while LT returns his pass and takes it to the house; LT going 97 on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions; Phil McConkey grabbing a deflected pass for a TD in the Super Bowl; Mark Bavaro dragging 184 49ers and their fans down the field field for 15 extra yards; Scott Norwood missing a field goal; Eli to Tyree…and then Eli to Plax.  And then there are those clips that will last forever which we lose.  Joe Piscarcek muffing a hand-off to Larry Czonka creating a Herm Edwards score in the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” and then the play in which just two names need be mentioned – Jackson and Dodge.  Giant fans are going to be stuck with that motherfucking replay for the rest of our lives.

That kick signified what was a miserable season for the rookie Dodge, who was handed the job last year and rewarded the Giants with a handful of howitzers, biceps the size of Ed Hochli, and some of the worst punting since the Rodney Williams years.  The most interesting camp battle likely will be the punting competition between ex-Jet Steve Weatherford and Dodge and the smart money says Weatherford.  He’s a lot safer and knows the winds of the new Meadowlands.  Vegas odds have Dodge as a 24-1 underdog to win the job.  They also list BK at 15,000-1 to finish a feature length script in the next 5 years but even money to lose his temper within 5 minutes of reading this.

Amidst the punting woes, oft-criticized Lawrence Tynes was quite solid last year and has no real competition in camp.  Hixon will likely be given the kick-off and punt duties although it will be fun to see if Coach C gives Jernigan some opportunities to return in the pre-season.

FINAL ROSTER

So here it is….the Giants final 53 when pre-season ends:

QB – Eli Manning, David Carr

RB – Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Danny Ware, Charles Scott

FB – Henry Hynoski

WR -Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Mark Clayton/Steve Smith (PUP)

TE – Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe, Ben Patrick

OL – Kareem MacKenzie, David Diehl, David Baase, Chris Snee, William Beatty, Stacy Andrews, Kevin Boothe, Mitch Petrus, James Brewer

DL – Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiori, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, Marvin Austin, Rocky Bernard, Gabe Watson, Adrian Tracy

LB – Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard, Zak DeOssie, Greg Jones, Mark Herzlich

DB – Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Prince Akamanura, Antrelle Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Michael Coe, Brian Jackson, Brian Witherspoon

P – Steve Weatherford

K – Lawrence Tynes

PRACTICE SQUAD:

  1. Ibrihim Abdulai, DT
  2.  Brant Clouser, C
  3. Jarriel King, OT
  4. Tyler Sash, S
  5. Free-Agent TBD

Sadly, time has run out on me this year.  A thriving business, a pregnant wife, 4 back episodes of 30 Rock on the DVR and an in-flux of high quality German S&M porn throughout the internet has made my 2011 blog quite a bit less robust than the 2010 version.

Thusly, with less than 24 hours until the draft, time has run out on me.  Just like time ran out me in 8th grade to ask out Christine George (she wasn’t interested); just like time ran out on me in college to ask out Angela Jaramillo (she was interested), just like time ran out on me to use my collection of Robert Pattinson jokes and comparison’s (“Leonard Hankerson’s about as tough down the middle as Robert Pattinson is at a Louisiana Bath House during the ‘biting’ hour) it’s all over but the highlights.

So while this year’s blog is admittedly not as thorough as last year’s award-winning version we did manage five (5) podcasts with BK (3 of which you can actually hear him on) and this year we’ll be doing a post-draft podcast and live tweets so really when you think about it I was signicantly lazier this year than last.

Still, the positive feedback continues to come in and the readership (and listernship) has never been higher.  So let’s do some rapid fire commentary on our remaining positions:

QUARTERBACKS
It really is amazing that Cam Newton is likely going to be drafted #1 overall as everyone seems to be saying.  Not that he does or doesn’t deserve the pick (he doesn’t) but just that he got this far in basically less than a 12-month period.  All the concerns about Newton – simplistic offense, lack of experience, inaccuracy, looks to run too quickly, doesn’t take the game serious enough, a taller, better-looking, less-annoying, Tim Tebow – are all still there.  At the end of the day, though, maybe Newton is one of those one of a kind talents that can transcend the seemingly unmeasured line of past draft history that would otherwise point to his failure.  And maybe the real criticism of the 6’5, 248lbs. Auburn quarterback is not about how he plays but rather how he handles himself.  Too confident, too LeBronian.  Why can’t he be like Greg McElroy?  Well-Spoken.  High Wunderlik.  White as the driven snow.  But Cam Newton is who he’s going to be and while I would love to see Newton turn into a superstar with a more humble personality than one might expect I fear that Newton’s more likely to be compared to other Smith’s (Akili, Alex, Rusty – that’s right I’m calling him out) than a Manning (well, maybe Archie).

Blaine Gabbert is an equally interesting pick because he also emerged last year and seems to have all the right tools and is moderately humble although that hair would probably say otherwise.  One year as the starter in Missouri and apparently that’s good enough for the Top 10.  I honestly don’t have a read on Gabbert, but I tend to think like many that his skill set will translate at some point into making him a legit starting QB in the league.

Washington’s Jake Locker is as impressive a physical speciman as Newton in a lot of way, with that cute little 4.50 40 time and what not.  I’d say he’s another Fran Tarkenton if this were 1968, but it’s 2011 and this guy’s going to break more hearts Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels after he makes it official he’s not going to seek the Republican Nomination for President and rather will host the new Fox News reality show “America’s Next Top Homophobic Politician.”

I do not get the Andy Dalton talk.  Sure he won a ton of games at TCU but this Ginger child isn’t going to translate in the NFL nor will Florida State’s Christian Ponder.  I saw Ponder a bunch and there’s something missing there and it’s not just all the game he missed due to injuries.  Ponder has a MBA from FSU which in the world of academia rates right below an AA from Santa Monica Community College (but still above a doctorate from LSU).

Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick is another physical monster who unlike Newton will have the luxury being considered a developmental project and in the right situation could find a home in the league.  Ricky Stanzi of Iowa will go somewhere in round 4-6 and remind everyone of such greats as Scott Zolak and Shane Mathews.

Finally, what to make of Arkansas’ 6’7″, rifle-armed Ryan Mallet.  A guy who at one point was considered a possible Top 10 pick (in a year where it seems every other team needs a QB), Mallet’s apparent bad (or perhaps more accurately lethargic) attitude, drug rumors, an unimpressive combine and some bad late season performances have him dropping in the draft quicker than Jennifer Hudson dropped the pounds to fit into that Oscar dress.  Still, Mallet seems to have that unique combination of Dan McGwire meeting Cade McNown – and who wouldn’t want to draft that?

RUNNING BACKS
Even after Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2009 at Alabama some questioned his future pro prospects.  In 2010 he got hurt, split time most of the year when he came back and then had a so-so combine.  Yet his stock seems to be going up and he’s likely the only RB to be selected in the first round.  Yet as much as I’d like to see Ingram making it I’m having a hard time buying him as being a particulary effective NFL running back.  Ingram is under 5’10” as are a bunch of other backs this year including V-Tech’s Ryan Williams, Okie State’s shrimpy Kendall Hunter and that cute little 5’8 spark plug Shane Vareen from Cal Berkely.    That’s while I’m putting my money on the only 6’0″ likely to be drafted somewhere on Day 2, K-State’s Daniel Thomas.  Sure he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer having missed a season due to grades, but the kid had 19 TD’s and besides sometimes it’s best not to think too much anyway.

I also like the two Clay’s – Wisconsin’s John Clay probably gets nabbed in Round 6 or 7 if at all and he’s slow and runs like he’s 250 even though he’s only 230 but I don’t know I seem to think there’s a place for him as a situational short yardage back.  Meanwhile, Tulsa’s Charles Clay comes in with some real pedigree as a legit fullback. He can catch and even though his 18 reps for a FB are, frankly, terrible he seems like you could develop him into a blocker and add some strength once he gets to the show.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Listen, let’s cut the nonsense.  A.J. Green of Georgia is rising faster than BK at an Inglewood Strip Bar and his SEC mate Julio Jones from Alabama ain’t far behind.  They’ll both be drafted in the Top 10 and while I don’t quite hear the same kind of heat you did in the past for Top Wideout picks like Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson, these two have all the physicals to be starters in the league.  I like Randall Cobb a lot out of Kentucky because he reminds me a bit of Domick Hixon with higher upside – he can return kicks and be a part of the passing game.  BK’s higher on Boise State’s Titus Young basically for the same reason and primarily just to disagree with me.  But we can’t count out SDSU’s two receivers – Vincent Brown came off a big Senior Bowl week and will be a starter in this league by the 9th week of his rookie season while little talked about DeMarco Sampson will become another Kasim Osgood in the league and excel on specials.

TIGHT END
Not a lot to chew on her, but there’s some turkey and salmon jerky in this mix that you might be able to at least whet your appetite with.

Honestly, I don’t see how Virgil Green doesn’t get the top TE pick.  His physicals are shnockers with 4.54 40 (FOR A TIGHT END GOD SMACK IT!), sub 7 3-cone, and a broad and vert that made Willie Beamon turn over in his grave and say AMEN (is Willie Beamon dead?).

I guess his performance was underwheling at Nevada, which isn’t a great sign since that team scored more points than Randy Quaid scored meth during his pre-Broadway musical run in Seattle back in ’09.

So the far less interesting Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame and Lance Kendricks of Wisconsin are the likely first 2 TE’s to go.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
I’m going to defer you to our riveting Podcast on Offensive and Defensive Lineman but I will say I think when all is said and done Nate Solder will be the best Offensive Tackle in the draft.  Once he gains some strengh, which he will, he’s got a higher ceiling than anyone else at the position including USC’s Tyron Smith, who I’m surpised has emerged as the #1 OT around.  Also, don’t count out TCU’s round mound of sending DE’s to the ground Marcus Cannon.  If you can keep that guy away from the Chicken Wings he can be a starter in this league too.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
Again, time will force me to defer you to the Paths of Glory podcast where we go into depth on Defensive Ends and Tackles but other than the fact I say YES to Arizona’s Brooks Reed and NO to Badger J.J. Watts and Tar Heel Marvin Austin, remember DuJuan Blair when you see Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson start to drop.  DuJuan Blair, now the starting Power Forward/Center of the San Antonio Spurs, was a highly regarded player his junior and senior years at Pitt.  He was a player of the year candidate both seasons and a consensus Top 10 pick.  Consensus, that was, until it turned out he had no cartiledge in his knees!  This guy’s knees were more damaging to his draft status than Boxing Helena was to Bill Paxton’s acting reputation.  Blair didn’t just slip out of the lottery, he slipped into the 2nd round.  And while some of that had to do with teams not wanting to give him a guaranteed contract (which a 1st round selection would have resulted in), amazingly he slipped about 8 spots or so down to the Spurs in the 2nd round when teams above them could have drafted him with basically no risk.  In 2 seasons, Blair is a legit NBA performer who worst case scenario probably has at least 2 or 3 more very good seasons and a few more effective seasons after that.  So Da’Quan Bowers is the Best DE in this draft and while his knees are a concern someone is going to grab him in the late first and by his 2nd year in the league he’ll be an All-Pro.  I’m not saying he’ll have a 10 year-career, but for 3 or 4 years he’ll be very good and I promise you that’s more than we’ll be able to say about many of the other 1st round picks.

PUNTERS AND KICKERS
Who gives a shit.  But if you got a pull for someone, make it University of Miami at Florida punter Matt Bosher.  He’s a kicker and a punter (although he seems to project as a punter) who ran a respectable 4.73 40 at the combines and was the only kicker to participate in the Bench Press!  Sure his 8 reps were the worst at the entire combine (even Samantha “Choo Choo” Becker, the lone cheerleader at the combines out of Slippery Rock got the bar up 9 times) but you gotta love that kids moxy.

In the 3rd NFL Draft podcast of the season Doug and BK get together again, this time to talk about this year’s crop of Defensive Backs.  It’s a smorgasborg of cornerbacks and safeties – free and strong.  So take 28:47 seconds out of your life and get prepared for this year’s draft on this episode of the Doug’s NFL Draft World podcast.

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Perhaps there is no position (or positions) that are seemingly valued less by NFL General Managers and Player Personel types than cornerbacks and safeties.  Okay, kicker and punter are valued less, but can we really count those?

Even though opposing teams will spend all week game planning against the likes of Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu; even though teams will literally stop playing half the field on passing downs when up against the Jets Darrelle Revis – it seems as if the theory still is that defensive backs are positions that don’t make enough general impact to merit a high pick.

Yet over the last decade that theory seems to have changed.  Thirteen defensive backs (whether safety or corner) were selected in the Top 10 since 2002 compared to just 4 linebackers during the same period.  Could this be because NFL coaches arose from their dungeon-like offices, put down the coffee and sugar cookies and decided to watch the 1983 football classic All the Right Moves.

Like Stefan Djordojevic (played with Scientology-like panache from Tom Cruise) all the defensive backs drafted were short, white, slow, unathletic, thrice married and of questionable sexual-orientation.  Also like Coach Nickerson’s hot-headed corner, the performance of those drafted was inconsistent.

LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall and Terrence Newman have all been up and down while the likes of Quentin Jammer, Roy Williams and Carlos Rogers have largely been disappointing.  Donta Whitner is an okay player but he was overdrafted and let’s not even get into the abortion that is Pacman Jones.  Of course rating this group is unfair because of the death of Sean Taylor and we’ll never know what he may have become and it’s too early to rate last year’s Top 10 nabs Eric Berry and Charlie Haden but the best of the bunch thus far has been the U’s Antrelle Rolle – a fine player but no one who is heading to Canton.

So while almost as many DB’s have been selected in the Top 10 as D-Linemen, (18 to 13), that group includes more Pro-Bowl caliber players in Mario Williams, Kevin Williams, Julius Peppers and Nebraska’s Ndamakong Suh from last year.

However, there is something in the water this year with 2 cornerbacks getting Top 10 consideration and an impressive array of corners lining up there after.  While the safety class isn’t nearly as strong, this could go down as the year where cornerbacks emerged as the new IT position – just like 1991’s IT Girls – Anna Chlumsky and Macauley Culkin.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on PATRICK PETERSON (LSU).  He is everyone’s pick as the best corner in the draft and many people have him ranked as the best player in the draft period.  Still, it’s possible he might slip past the Top 5 picks in the draft.  But he’s big, fast, can not only shut down receivers but also sneak up and play the run plus he was an A+ punt and kick returner (although he probably won’t do much of that in the NFL).  So  I’ll save him the indignity of comparing him to some washed-up kid actress of the 90’s and instead let you take a peak at this highlight reel.

SOLEIL MOON FRYE: PRINCE AMUKAMARA, NEBRASKA

If All the Right Moves was the quintessential high-school football movie of the 80’s than Punky Brewster was the quintessential awful show that ran on NBC after the late football game ended and right before Silver Spoons.  It’s hard to describe just how bad Punky Brewster was.  Thank God for Small Wonder or Punky herself  – Soleil Moon Frye – would go down as the lead in the worst sitcom ever produced. 

Moon Frye, whose name was actually derived from the Swedish phrase meaning “Invest in Precious Metals”, bounced back to become a sort of, kind of sex symbol while also landing a regular voice-over role on Robot Chicken.

Like Moon-Frye, the Prince of Nebraska wouldn’t allow one bad game against Oklahoma State ruin his Pro chances.  Not the all-around performer Peterson is, Amukamara is an impressive player and his combine results (a 4.38 40; sub 7 in the 3-cone) seem to prove that he’s got the physicals to back it up.  If it wasn’t for Peterson, Amukamara would be getting a lot more Top 10 buzz.  Still, he’s likely to become an immediate starter for whatever team in the first grabs him.

LEA THOMPSON: JIMMY SMITH, COLORADO
Lea Thompson played “Lisa”, the bad girl turned good (or was it the good girl turned bad) in A-T-R-M.  We actually get to see her breasts in the movie which for years worked as good late night fodder for me, especially after seeing re-plays of Howard the Duck on HBO.  That all ended, however, when I saw an episode of Caroline in the City years later.

 

 

 

Jimmy Smith seems to have it all and in theory should be right up there with Peterson and Amukamara.  He’s “Peterson” big and frankly his skill set and performance are debatably better than his Nebraska counterpart.  His physicals are quite good with a sub 4.5 40, sub 7 3-cone and a cornerback impressive 24 reps.  So why isn’t Jimmy Smith Top 10 material?  Because apparently he’s a cocky son-of-a-gun with a history of minor violations of the law and a preference for Old English and Colt 45 40-ouncers.  Well, if breaking a few minor laws and enjoying a hefty helping of malt liquor is a crime than I don’t want to be law-abiding.  Which I’m not, as I’m currently on house-arrest following my 3rd disturbing the peace arrest last September, which also subsequently ended my career as a PETCO stocker and now I live in a halfway house and complete this blog on a shared computer in the rec room.  But don’t let that stop GM’s from drafting Colorado’s spectacular Jimmy Smith.

JENNA VON OY: RAS-I DOWLING, VIRGINIA
Show me someone with a hyphen in their name and I’ll show you someone who should be a cornerback in the National Football League.  Or President of a Middle Eastern country currently going through political unrest.  Or the star of Punky Brewster.

One of the reasons Jenna Von Oy never made it past the role of “Best Friend” in Blossom (as a reminder, Blossom starred that young Jewish girl with the nose) is because she steadfastly refused to put a hyphen between the “Von” and the “Oy.”  Plus she got a little big in the rump.

No such problems for the thin-butted, hyphened Ras-I Dowling from Virginia.  There’s a lot of corners once you get by Smith who are bunched together and will likely go in rounds 2 and 3. I like Dowling the best out of all of them.  If it wasn’t for a broken ankle that limited him to just 5 games his senior season Dowling would very possibly be a 1st rounder.  He’s healthy now and reminds me of a bigger Corey Webster, who also missed out on a 1st round selection due to a senior year injury a few years back.  Dowling’s got solid corner skills and his 4.4 40 seems to show his straight ahead speed is still there although some may still question his durability and he didn’t do any shuttle or cone drills at the combine.  Still, sometime you need to take a chance – just like Blossom did with Ms. Van Oy – and they remained BFF’s.

TIFFANY: RAHIM MOORE, UCLA
While corners abound in this year’s draft, the crop of safeties isn’t nearly as impressive with likely none being selected in the first round.

Like long-forgotten 80’s Pop Icon Tiffany, the Bruins Rahim Moore shouldn’t simply be left on the scrap heap.  Ironically, Tiffany had one Top 10 Single and in 2009 Rahim More had 10 interceptions in 1 season.  But unlike the red-headed Tiffany, who dated a man over twice her age while 15 and than a less posed for a less than erotic Playboy spread shortly into the new millenium, Moore’s got a lot going for him (including a very erotic, secret Playgirl Spread he plans to unleash 15 years after his career is over).

Well-regarded on and off the field, he’s got instincts, quick feet and, despite a bit of a down senior season, his 2009 interception total seems to indicate big play ability is there.  So why no 1st round selection?  Probably physicals.  He’s a little short (a tad under 6′) and his 4.58 40 along with a weak (literally) 11 reps make some wonder if he has the strength to be a NFL safety where tackling big receivers and tight ends over the middle and offering run support is so often expected.  Still, someone will grab the accomplished Moore as likely the only safety to go in the first 60 picks of the draft which will have Moore looking around his Brentwood living room and singing to himself “I think I’m alone now.”

BK-O-METER, RANKINGS, AND SLEEPERS
A few more morsels of food to whet your NFL Draft appetite.  While Texas’ Aaron Williams and Miami’s pint-sized Brandon Harris are likely late first/early 2nd rounders I like Clemson’s 26-rep powerhouse Marcus Gilchrest.  BK’s hot for Louisville’s Johnny Patrick, overlooking his off-the-field transgressions because BK believes “those Louisville corners just no how to play” and also likes Jimmy Smith’s CU teammate Jamil Brown because “I don’t know, what’s the difference between ’em.” The answer, of course, is talent and liklihood to succeed in the NFL.  But we both like UNC’s Kendrick Burney, yet another player caught up in the Chapel Hills molasses of deceipt but Burney, depsite being undersized, has a lot going for him as a player and could be a great 2nd day pick.  On the safety side, neither of us is overwhelmed with Temple good citizen Jaiqwaun Jarrett or Florida’s shrimpy Ahmad Black although I’m bigger on Rutger’s Joseph Lefeged than is BK just because he’s a Scarlet Knight and I grew up in Jersey.  BK does like Oklahoma’s Quiten Carter, who he says has the best size of any of the top safeties and is more fluid than you think and is intrigued by the growth potential (both literally and figuratively) of West Virginia’s 6 foot, 4-inch Robert Sands.  Finally, BK’s sleeper is Appalachian State’s Mark LeGree.  “He packs a powerful punch,” claims BK, “in a chubby little body.”

Inside Job

Charles Ferguson’s 2011 Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job focused on the 2008 financial collapse that literally shook the world. 

While it shouldn’t have won best documentary (which should have gone to either “The Tillman Story” or “How Sweet It Is: Whatever Happened to the Gerkin”) and it paints a rather broad picture sometimes using less than the most upstanding people to demonize…well, they do mostly deserve to be demonized…less than the most upstanding people, it’s still a pretty fascinating (and infuriating) view.

This year’s inside linebacker class is not unlike those painted in the movie.

You’ve got the obnoxious prick (Glen Hubbard), the somewhat blamess bad guy (Charles Prince), the wanna-be crusader (Barney Frank) and the evil-mastermind shrouded in an unfathomable level of arrogance (Larry Summers although BK could also fit this description as well.  As could Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.  Or the guy who created Shakey’s Mojo Potatoes).

I’m going to exclude Illinois’ talented and troubled Martez Wilson from this group because first of all it’s too easy and shouldn’t really count (like counting the time you had sex with a $1,300/hour prostitute as one of the notches on your bedpost.  Yes you had intercourse, but it’s no triumph.  So your number of notches stays at 2 BK, okay, deal with it).  Besides, I featured Wilson in my OLB category as I think that’s where he’ll end up after gets into the NFL – on the outside…or in prison.

So let’s take stock on some of our top inside line-backer prospects in this year’s draft.

GLEN HUBBARD: QUAN STURDIVANT, NORTH CAROLINA
Quiet but deadly.  That’s what non-supplysiders might call former Bush economic adviser Glen Hubbard.  A sheepish, John-Clayton-looking, arrogant sun-of-a-pistol who dismisses any wrong doing on his or really the entire Bush administration’s part in regards to the 2008 financial meltdown.  Quiet but deadly – It’s also what they call UNC’s Quan Sturdivant (as well as the chili cheese fries at Irv’s Burgers in West Hollywood – TRUST ME, just stick with combo #1 and call it a day).

Sturdivant was a solid if not overly spectacular player at UNC known more for off-the-field transgressions (July 2010 Marijuana possession arrest) and injuries (missed 5 games in ’10 due to the same hammy problems that had him drop out of some drills at the combine).

Still, his physicals are good clocking an impressive sub 4.6 in the 40 with good numbers on the broad and vert and an almost acceptable 21 reps.

But here’s the thing about Sturdivant – like Hubbard – he’s too quiet for his own good and I don’t trust it.  Sure, there are times you want people to just shut the fuck up – Gwyneth Paltrow (enough with the baby advice already), Michelle Bachman (stop with the birther nonsense and take off your clothes already); Dennis, my mentally disabled next door neighbor (really, do you have to rap some Wiz Khalifa outside at 6am every weekday morning) and BK (anyone who listened to our first podcast knows what that’s all about).  But not middle (or inside) linebackers.  They need to be vocal leaders and there’s something about Quan Sturdivant that just screams “Specials only”.  Kind of like walking by a Border’s or Blockbuster these days.  He may hang in this league for a while, but you don’t spend a 2nd or 3rd rounder on a guy who’s best case scenario has him chasing down punt returners.

CHARLES PRINCE: CASEY MATHEWS, OREGON
Casey Mathews is a borderline Top 10 ILB prospect so don’t mistake me listing him 2nd as an indication that I think he’s the 2nd best ILB in the draft – he’s not.  However, Mathews is being overhyped as a prospect.  Take the exact same guy with the exact same intangibles, stick him on Oregon State and make his last name something like “Kregg” and make his dad not an ex-football player but an ex-tool salesman and make his brother not a current football player but say a sort of meandering ex-landscaper and Mathews wouldn’t even be drafted.

Like Prince, who may not have been culpable but was still part and parsel of the financial problem, Mathews may not really have NFL skills but is going to get a shot to play in the show.  This is based almost exclusively on his name (Clay Sr.’s son, Clay’s brother, Bruce’s nephew) and the fact that he had a good night in the National Championship game against Auburn.

But while you can dismiss his sad 13-rep performance at the Combine’s as a result of injury, he’s short, undersized, and has hands smaller than China’s spunky tennis pro Li Na. 

At some point name recognition can only get you so far – just ask George W. Bush.  I really have nothing against the Mathews clan, but this is getting ridiculous.  Can’t we just put Casey on the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL and call it a career?

BARNEY FRANK: KELVIN SHEPPARD, LSU
Barney Frank is neither thin nor handsome; neither exceedingly noble or exceedingly knowledgeable.  But he became a leading voice of dissent and investigative prowess during the congressional hearings on the financial crisis and compared to the rather sorry bunch around him, came out looking okay.

My comparison of the openly gay Frank to Sheppard should not be seen in homophobic football circles as an inference on Sheppard’s sexuality as the man’s Mila Kunis fanboy site should clearly attest.  (Now if I put Wisconsin’s Culmer St. Jean on here, that would be another story.  Not because I know anything about his personal life but we all know the past history with Wisconsin’s baller’s and we’ll leave it at that).

Like Frank, Sheppard’s not scared to hit the hole and has been called a natural born leader.  Like Frank, he’s a big hunk of cheese weighing in at a legit 2-fitty and unlike Frank, his combine number were acceptable.  (Frank’s 40 time at the 1998 Congressional combines was 11.7 but he did manage 3 reps).

It seems to me that Sheppard should be rated as the #1 ILB prospect over position question guys like Wilson and Washington’s Mason Foster not to mention Sturdivant.  But like Frank, sometimes guys with funny voices just aren’t taken as seriously as they should.

THE ANTI-LARRY SUMMERS: AKEEM DENT, GEORGIA
Former Clinton and Obama economic advisor, as well as former Harvard President, Larry Summers really is a remarkable prick.  He’s very smart, I guess, but then again so was Ted Kaczynski, Neville Chamberlin and the guy who created flourescent lamps and look what happened to them (actual headline from 1849 edition of the Irish newspaper “The Daily Drunk” – Flourescent Lamp Creator and Comedian Arrested in Car with Tranny Hooker – Denies He Knew She was a He”).

Summer’s is so arrogant that Donald Trump suggested he tone it down a notch.   The same cannot be said about Georgia’s 2010 Defensive Captain Akeen Dent.  Talk about intangibles.  He made the honor roll twice and unlike Summer’s – who was born with a silver trust account in his mouth – Dent’s dad went to jail and for like something real, not some bullshit check-forging scam.

But with Dent the question isn’t leadership or college production (126 tackles in 2010) or even physicals (his speed at the combines was average, his 24 reps acceptable and he had the best vert and broad for ILB’s at the combine).  It’s that some don’t see that “somethin’ somethin'” on the field.  Like Noah Wylie – he’s fine.  You wanna put him in as a doctor – he’ll be fine.  You wanna put him in as a lawyer – he’ll be fine.  You wanna put him in as the lead in some sci-fi mini-series – he’s miscast but he won’t completely fuck it up.  And that’s what people seem to say about Dent.  He’s perfectly fine, but he’ll never be a star.

But this is where I may beg to differ.  I’m not saying he’s Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis but inside linebackers are leaders who’s impact on a game are often times not seen merely in stats.  I think Dent makes it as a starter in this man’s league and since I’m never wrong, you can bet the house on it.

BK-O-METER, SLEEPERS AND RANKINGS.
Sadly, time has gotten the better of me this NFL Draft season and we’ve decided from this point forward to forgo the BK-O-Meter, Sleepers and Rankings category because the draft is a week away and I’ve got like 20 more posts to make.  So we added the Podcast (the ILB podcast may not post, however, because BK was on a cell phone and decided in his infinite wisdom to not speak directly into it) and I’ll give you a couple other foods for thought when you watch this year’s NFL draft.  BK is a fan of Miami’s Colin McCarthy (“His combine numbers are off the charts”) and North Carolina State’s Nate Irving (“This guy makes plays!”).  But he likes Cal Berkely’s Mike Mohamad the most – because his physicals are good and he’s a white guy with an odd last name.  I think Michigan State’s Greg Jones has fallen unfairly after a poor Senior Bowl and can be a player in the league.  Also watch too see if UConn’s Greg Lloyd, the estranged son of the former Pittsburgh Steeler All-Pro linebacker with the same name, gets drafted.  His physicals aren’t great, his college career was okay and he’s had some injury and other minor issues here and there and under normal circumstances wouldn’t be drafted but we’ll see if, like Mathews, his name gets him a 6th or 7th round grab.

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The initial 2011 Podcast of NFL’s Draft World was supposed to be just a test run.  But when BK unexpectedly called in the crew got such a kick out of it they went ahead and posted this 15-minute mini-pod on Doug and BK’s discussion about outside linebackers.  Just imagine how good this would be if either one actually prepared!