Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Final Countdown

In less than 8 hours, three of my friends from various areas of the country will be filing into my house and dropping their bags for the duration of the weekend. The purpose of their trip is simple: Drink ungodly amounts of alcohol, watch/comment upon/become suicidal over the NFL Draft and contribute our well earned pay to the college funds of various young women of virtue true. All in all, it should be a liver destroying weekend that will serve as yet another reminder of why I (and those who choose to associate with me) are awful human beings who should be denied the ability to procreate.

You’ve met the cast of characters before, as these are the same people whom I spent last year’s NFL Draft with, my former co-workers Calvin, John and Duper. Last year we convened in Seattle and since Calvin lives in Danville, VA and Duper lives in Whitefish, MT, well, my house was our next best option. They are all flying in this afternoon and should be at my house by 7 or so. Unfortunately for me, I have a city league playoff game tonight at 8 so I’ll have to put my drinking on hold for a couple of hours until later on this evening. After that though, I don’t expect to go more than a handful of conscious hours without a hearty buzz for the weekend’s entirety. If you can’t tell, I’m really looking forward to this weekend. The last time I saw any of these guys was a year ago, and they’re also some of the more enthusiastic drinkers I know so, you know, it should be, umm, interesting.

Anyway, since we’re using the NFL Draft as our "reason" for the weekend’s festivities I figured I’d leave off here with a few notes about the greatest non-sporting event in sports.

- The best pickup of the weekend could very well have nothing to do with the selection of a formerly (cough) amateur football player. Rather, it would be the acquisition of Michael Turner by a team in need of a #1 tailback. Like, say, the Tennessee Titans for example. Turner’s a stud tailback who has barely seen the light of day in San Diego due to playing behind the best back in football, LaDanian Tomlinson. San Diego needs to get something for him in return, lest they lose him to free agency in the summer of ’08. So, it makes sense for San Diego to look to deal Turner for a draft pick or two this weekend. He’s essentially a first round talent that can be acquired for a mid-round pick. And one more thing about Turner, his agent’s name is Bus Cook. I don’t even care that it sounds completely and totally made up, that name is awesome. So awesome that I want to hire Bus as my agent. Agent for what you say? Fuck you and your damned details.

- Has anybody ever figured out exactly who Mel Kiper, Sr. was/is? Was he a scout? Or was he, like, the pomade king of the east coast or something, ala Eriq La Salle’s dad in Coming to America? Anybody? Alright then, we’re going with Pomade King of the East Coast. I hear him and Abe Froman were close.

- My lack of faith in JaMarcus Russell is well documented. He never really scared me as anything other than a force of nature at LSU and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen a QB throw balls at his receiver’s feet like him since the heyday of Rick Mirer. Yet, even with his questionable mental acuity and his overall lack of polish as a passer, the most damning thing I can possibly say about him as an NFL prospect is this: Do you really want to spend a 1st rd. pick on a guy who could conceivably look like this in a couple of years?

- Another player whom my opinion on is well documented is Reggie Nelson, affectionately known as RFN amongst Gator fans. So, you can imagine my dismay at the scouting reports which list him as the 3rd or even 4th best safety available in the draft. Give. Me. A. Break. Other than being a little light (200 lbs) there’s not much else you could ask for in a safety. While I don’t doubt I’m biased, he’s the most complete and versatile safety in this draft, and that includes Laron Landry. Listen, I watched Landry play for four years and he’s a heck of a safety, a future Pro Bowler even. However, he doesn’t possess nearly the coverage skill that Nelson does and, despite his size, doesn’t deliver the devastating hits that Nelson has shown such a proclivity for. So much of playing safety is about timing and Nelson has an innate ability to time his breaks and hits for just the right moment. When you take into account that Nelson would’ve been moved to corner at UF (and had been shutting people down early in the fall) this year had Ryan Smith not transferred in from Utah, his versatility becomes even more impressive. Mark it down right now, Reggie Nelson will be the best safety or corner taken in this draft.

Since I’ve written about a few players whom I consider underrated/overrated, I’m gonna finish up this post with a list of players whom I think are one or the other coming into this weekend’s draft.


Lawrence Timmons: He only started for one year at FSU and put up decent numbers. He’s been praised for his freakish athletic ability but measured a full 2 inches shorter than his listed height at the combine and ran his 40 two tenths of a second slower than had been previously reported. At this point, he seems a little too unproven and little too inflated to warrant the being the 2nd or 3rd LB off the board.

Greg Olsen: Workout wonder. He never put up big numbers at Miami, nor dominated a game like predecessors Kellen Winslow, Jr. and Jeremy Shockey. Playing in Miami’s anemic offense over the past two years certainly didn’t help, but I can’t say I’m sold that he’s worthy of a first round selection. I know tight ends are game changers now but some years there aren’t gonna be any tight ends who are worthy of selection in the first round. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Levi Brown: Fat, bad knees and not a dominating blocker in either phase. I’d take him in the first round but not in the top 15. For the record, I felt the same way about Kenyatta Walker.

Chris Houston: He’s fast as hell and has good size. He also never played any zone in college and had a tendency to make mental mistakes at inopportune times over the course of his career. Maybe its me but that’s not something I’d want out of my #1 corner. Again, I’d look at him late in the 1st or early in the second, but not as the first or second corner off the board.

Tedd Ginn, Jr.: Fast as hell. Ummm? He’s great in the return game. You’ll have to excuse me here, other than having blazing speed, I can’t think of one attribute that will make Tedd Ginn, Jr. a great NFL receiver. He doesn’t run great routes, is reticent to go over the middle and he has limited experience. I’ll come right out and say it, Anthony Gonzalez will have a longer and more productive pro career than Ginn. Seriously.


Patrick Willis: How can somebody who’s going to be the first LB taken be underrated? 163 tackles helps. If this kid played at LSU or Auburn he’d be going in the Top 5. It just so happens he’s been stuck in Oxford on horrible football team for the past 4 years. There was some question about his athleticism, until he went to the combine and tore it up in every way. He’s everything you could ever want out of a LB. Perennial Pro Bowler.

Steve Smith: Another #2 receiver who I think ends up better than his collegiate teammate. Smith was unbelievably consistent over the course of his career at USC. Though Dwayne Jarrett had more impressive numbers, it was Smith who moved the chains for USC. Smith is more polished, faster and has better hands than Jarrett. Smith should immediately move in as a team's #3 receiver as a rookie and will play in the NFL for a decade.

No, no, not that Steve Smith! You know, for a helper monkey, you're not helping at all!!!

Ben Grubbs: He’s the highest rated guard in this year’s draft but probably won’t be selected until late in the 1st round. That’s not a referendum on his talent as much as it is a case on the value of guards to your average NFL front office. Personally, I believe a dominant guard is a vastly underrated component to an NFL offense. A dominant guard allows O-coordinators much more flexibility in their schemes and can change the complexion of a running game. Grubbs should go top 15. I’m not saying he’s Steve Hutchinson, but I am saying that teams should look at the difference a player like him can (or in Hutchinson's case, did) make for an offensive line.

Sidney Rice: The most dominant offensive player in the SEC over the past two years, and that’s with a bad offensive line and erratic (at best) QB play. I'll say it again, the most dominant offensive player in the country's best conference over the past two years. I’m usually skeptical of “big” receivers but I’ve seen enough of Rice to know that he plays faster than he times and possesses unbelievable ball skills. His background in basketball makes a terror on jump balls in the redzone too. He’s going to slip b/c he played in Spurrier’s system and didn’t run a great 40 but he’ll end up being better than most of the recivers selected in the 1st round.

Buster Davis: He’s pretty much the exact opposite of former teammate Timmons. He was amazingly productive at FSU, leading the team in tackles each of the past two years and seems to possess an innate ability to fight through traffic and find the ball. He’ll slip to the 5th rd. (or lower) because his measurables aren’t NFL worthy in any way (5’9”, 245) but he’s going to make somebody’s team and end up starting by his second season (if not sooner). The guy was born to play LB, plain and simple. He was said to be too small to play at FSU and he dominated his competition during two years as a starter. I don’t expect his tenure in the NFL to be any different.

Sleeper: Usama Young (CB/Kent State): Great size (6’1”, 200) and speed (4.4) as well as a productive career at Kent State. He’s a guy who could come in as a third corner and play this year and should move into the starting lineup within a year or two of being drafted. A lot of people will question the level of competition he played against in the MAC. However, while the receivers weren’t as athletic or polished as those in some of the BCS conferences, he was exposed to a number of highly sophisticated passing games during his time in the MAC. The size and the speed could have me hoodwinked here, but he seems like a bargain in the third round.

Alright, that’s it. I’ll be off tomorrow and (more than likely) drunk before you even have your first drink tomorrow afternoon, which should help me transition nicely into the all day bender that Saturday promises to bring. Enjoy the Draft and Go Magic! I mean seriously, just win one fucking game. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reporting live from...

Gheorghe: The Blog.

That's right, your intrepid blogger has emerged from his parents basement (and I've even managed to put on a pair of pants!!) and ventured over to the home of our good (mostly) DC area friends at G:TB in order to provide the masses with some quality Wednesday morning entertainment.

If you're into debaucherous celebrity stories (and honestly, who isn't?) then head on over to G:TB and read my contribution to the world's greatest blog dedicated to a 7'6" basketball player/actor.

I'll be back tomorrow with a pre-Draft post of predictions, musings and other random insanity.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Don't get excited...

Because this is going to be very short. Like David Eckstein short. I've been crazy busy with work lately and have been in and out of town on business. As a result, any time that I've actually spent in the office has been spent catching up on phone calls, emails and the ever annoying requests for me to do "work". Alas, just as I'm catching up on everything I'm taking tomorrow off in order to travel to St. Augustine for a wedding. It should be a nice, relaxing weekend that re-charges my batteries in time to get some serious NBA Playoff and NFL Draft related posts up next week (I'm shooting for three, but two is much more likely).

Anyway, I just stopped by to dispell the rumors that I died in a meth lab explosion (Pfft, I was barely even burned.) before I head out for a weekend of drinking and endless trashing of the most sacred moment of moments of one young couple's lives. Sounds fun don't it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

About Last Night

My apologies for not posting any thoughts in the comments section last night. I planned on it but my girlfriend had work to do and needed to use her computer. You know what? Fuck it. I don’t have to answer to you. Hell, I don’t have to answer to anybody. I’ve been witness to 3 National Titles by my alma mater (in the only two collegiate sports that matter) and a World Series Championship for the Cardinals in the past 12 months. I think it’s pretty clear that I’m beyond reproach at this point. So, how ‘bout you back off and be happy you have access to my wisdom.

Alright, maybe that was a little much but, really, can you blame me? I’m drunk on winning and there’s no hangover in sight. Seriously, I don’t have anything to lose. Sure, maybe the Magic blow it and end up missing the playoffs but it’s not like I haven’t been conditioned to accept much worse than that by Orlando over the past decade. As it stands now, I’m set as a sports fan for at least the next 5 months. Believe me, it’s pretty effing sweet to be me right now.

Anyway, I figured I’d at least stop by this afternoon and give a few of my thoughts on one of the greatest teams to ever play college basketball.

TEAM: There’s no better way to describe this group. It sounds cheesy and cliché’ but think back over the last two years and some of the games that this team has played in. Is there one player who you can look back on as THE reason that this team was successful? Last year, the answer would’ve been Joakim Noah. Even though Lee Humphrey’s shooting had as much to do with Florida’s first title as anything. This year, with Noah relegated to a supporting role, it was Al Horford, and then Taurean Green, then Humphrey and/or Chris Richard, then Corey Brewer. There’s no denying that this was an immensely talented team. However, their talent isn’t what made them special. It was their ability to combine their talents and use each player’s individual abilities to help promote the talents of those around them. Last night’s game was the perfect example of what made this team so special. Every time that Greg Oden turned around, he was being defended by somebody different. Every time that OSU made a run at UF, it seemed as if somebody different knocked down a shot to keep the Buckeyes at bay. As impressive as the accomplishments of this team are today, they will only become more impressive as the years pass. This is a team of historical proportions.

Greg Oden: I think we’ve all seen what has had NBA scouts drooling over the past 3 years. He’s an absolute force of nature on the defensive end. On top of that, he’s remarkably skilled offensively for a player his age (his footwork is markedly better than earlier this year even). Think back to players like Ewing, Shaq, etc. and try and recall if any of the great big men had comparable skill sets on the offensive end. I don’t recall them being even near the level of Oden at the same stage. Furthermore, keep this in mind, this is the worst that Oden will be for the next 10-12 years. He’s going to get more skilled and comfortable offensively as well as more coordinated, athletic and smarter defensively. When it’s all said and done, Florida’s victory in this game will be even more impressive in the light of what Oden is and will become.

Before I leave this subject, I have to say that I felt like Oden received an inordinate amount of respect from the officials on the interior last night. I’m not talking about his shot blocking, but his defensive positioning. Nearly every one of the fouls whistled against Florida’s big men was a result of them jostling for position with Oden. This was part of Florida’s strategy. If Oden gets the ball too low, there’s virtually nothing anyone can do to stop him from getting the shot he wants. However, where were the whistles on the other end when Florida’s big were posting up? By my count, I recall one foul on Ivan Harris for pushing Noah in the back on a post up attempt. That’s right, one. As often as Florida posted up the combination of Horford, Noah and Richard the referees only whistled one foul on Ohio State during post ups. While i'll concede that Oden didn't need to foul to keep Florida's big outside, I can't say the same for Harris, Terwilliger or Hunter. It doesn’t matter, because UF won but it’s all I could do not to grab an official by the shirt and say something to the effect of, “You know, Florida’s big men are pretty good too.”

Chris Richard: I’ve been saying for months now that Chris Richard would play in the NBA. For awhile, I thought he’d have to go overseas for a year or maybe play in the NBDL for a little bit. Not because he didn’t have the talent but, rather, because he’d been overshadowed by his more famous and talented front court mates. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Portsmouth Invitational. Richard played one of the best games of his career on the biggest stage of his career. He then went on to follow this up by showing off his strength, athleticism and defensive fundamentals by battling the best big man the college basketball has seen in 25 years. (Seriously, last night might as well have been an NBA audition for Richard.) As it stands now, Richard is probably looking at a spot in the second round. You want to know how strong Richard is? Read this quote from Oden, “Chris Richard, I swear he plays on the football team.” Actually, Greg he doesn’t. However he did sack Troy Smith once. (Thank you, thank you. Try the veal.)

Honestly, I’m happier for Richard than any other player on the Florida team. He was Mr. Basketball in the state of Florida as a senior but struggled with injuries and expectations early in his career. By the time he got healthy, he found himself on the bench behind two guys younger than him. He never complained. Not a peep. He accepted his role and flourished in it. This is a guy who could start on (roughly) 97% of the teams in college basketball but was happy to be a backup at Florida because he could see the big picture and loved being a part of a team. A team full of unselfish winners like himself. Sounds like the kind of guy who you’d want in you locker room if you were an NBA GM.

Lee Humphrey: It’s interesting to me that the one player in Florida’s starting lineup during this amazing two year run who won’t even sniff an NBA roster is also it’s most important component. Make no mistake, Lee Humphrey wasn’t the best player on this team. However, without Humphrey the Gators would have never made it to one title game, much less be crowned as two-time national champions. His deadly three point shooting was the perfect compliment to the post play of Horford and Noah. If you tried to double down, the ball would inevitably find its way into Humphrey’s hands and, eventually into the bottom of the net. There are a lot of players who can shoot the three but none (in recent times) have shot it so efficiently. Humphrey took exactly what defense gave him and he kept doing it. Over and over and over.
I’ll end this post with a few thoughts on the tournament’s MOP, Corey Brewer.

I’ll be as sad to see Corey leave the program as I’ve been for any other player during Donovan’s tenure at UF. He burst onto the scene as a gangly, wild freshman who was good for 3-4 steals a game. Eventually, he would come to be known as Crazy Corey for his seemingly out of control play and the wild facial expressions that seem to be a part of his very being. He’s a titan of unintentional comedy. Hell, I pause TIVO sometimes just to get a look at his crazy ass mug. This isn’t about Brewer’s antics though. It’s about his game, specifically his defense. Make no mistake about it, Brewer’s offensive game has grown by leaps and bounds since he came to Gainesville, as evidenced by his shooting during the Final Four, and it should continue to evolve as he gets stronger and develops a better handle. All of that though, is icing on the cake. Brewer has the potential to be an All-NBA defender many times over. He guarded Mike Conley, Jr., Greg Oden and everyone in between last night. He’s 6’8” with arms like tentacles and sprinter’s speed to go with it. Oh yeah, he has a pretty nice vertical as well. As impressive as many of Oden’s blocks were last night (especially when he swallowed up Brewer), he’d have a hard time doing anything more noteworthy than the block Brewer had on one of Oden’s offerings early in last night’s game. Name another small forward (NBA or otherwise) who blocks that shot. In fact, here's something for NBA GMs to consider: Could Brewer’s defensive impact in the league end up being as dominant on the perimeter as Oden promises to be in the interior? That’s a legit question. One for which there is no easy answer. Corey Brewer was the most outstanding player in the Final Four, let there be no doubt. Maybe the stat lines don’t scream that. Then again nobody on this team, this once in a generation collection of individuals, ever has been about statistics. That’s why they’re champions today and that’s why they’ll be remembered years from now.
On their way to "do it big", I presume.

Monday, April 02, 2007

You didn't think I'd post anyting worthwhile today, did you?

I hope not. If so, you're probably a lot less intelligent than you think you are.

As for tonight's game, is anybody else worried that not one single media "expert" is picking Ohio State to win tonight's game? I mean, really? A team that ended the regular season ranked # 1 and has won 22 consecutive games has absolutely zero chance of winning against a team that has one more loss than them in a one game scenario? Umm, okay.

Furthermore, isn't Greg Oden the "next Bill Russell". If so, shouldn't that be good enough to at least make this game? I'm confused. More importantly, I'm starting to get a little worried that nobody believes the Buckeyes have a chance to win tonight. Well, that's not completely true. I think they have a chance tonight. Maybe that's why I'm still doing this shit for free. You know, because I'm not an expert.

Anyway, I'm going to try and post some thoughts in the comments section tonight. That is, until I get too drunk or too stressed out to type. The over/under for that is currently sitting at 10:13 pm.