Montag, 30. April 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Clippers forward Caron Butler broke his left hand Sunday in Game 1 of Los Angeles' series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) This was not another early playoff letdown by the San Antonio Spurs. For the first time in four years, they won a series opener.
MIAMI (AP) When Jeremy Lin went down with a knee injury, Iman Shumpert stepped up for the New York Knicks.
While you can argue that Denver didn't need to draft a quarterback, you can’t argue with the potential that the Broncos have with Brock Osweiler.
When you look at the report for Osweiler, the first issue you see is that he only started 15 games in college. Many scouts say that Osweiler is rough, unpolished and hasn't had the proper time to develop into an immediate impact starter in the NFL.
This analysis is accurate. However, Osweiler has been brought into the perfect situation for an under-developed quarterback. He will have the chance to learn from one of the greatest signal-callers to ever take a snap.
Peyton Manning has said that he was on board with the Broncos drafting a quarterback in the draft; in fact, Manning insisted that the organization make sure they have depth at the quarterback position just days after agreeing to sign with Denver.
This shows that Peyton Manning doesn’t mind taking on a “mentor” role to the newly-added quarterback. Of course, he won’t be holding Osweiler’s hand every step of the way; however, Osweiler can come into training camp not to compete with Manning, but to learn.
One reason young quarterbacks fail in the NFL is because they were drafted into a bad situation, or they were rushed into the pressure of being the face of a franchise.
Is there a better situation for a young quarterback to come into? Brock Osweiler can see how Manning commands and leads an offense on the field. He can see how to carry himself as an NFL starting quarterback, what it takes to win and just how much film study goes into being the best.
John Elway, John Fox and Brian Xanders obviously see Osweiler as the future quarterback for years to come. In a perfect world, Manning has three more years in him, all the time Osweiler needs to develop and accept the torch once Manning decides to retire.
Brock Osweiler was praised by coaches and teammates at Arizona St. for his leadership on and off the field, and he seems to have the right attitude needed to succeed. All he needs is some time to develop, and who knows how far he can take the Broncos in his career.
The plan couldn’t be any more perfect, however, just how perfect the plan turns out will be determined within the next few years.
Sonntag, 29. April 2012
Chicago still has what it takes to contend, and there's always Boston to consider, but the soon-to-be league MVP and his team are officially in the driver's seat.
The Heat are fresh off a romping of the New York Knicks, and arguably for the first time all season, appear genuinely interested.
That's because the postseason has arrived, a time when Dwyane Wade becomes intrigued and James has an additional slew of critics to go up against.
Miami split the season series with Chicago. Though the Bulls have proven to be a scrappy team without Rose on the floor, their chances against a LeBron-led Heat over a seven game series are less than favorable.
James is locked in, seemingly prepared to leave his inner postseason demons behind him. He tore apart the Knicks on both sides of the floor in just three quarters, scoring 32 points and grabbing two steals while shooting over 70 percent from the field.
There are only three players in the Eastern Conference who can be considered in the same class of performer as James. One, Wade, is his teammate. Another, Carmelo Anthony, was shut down by James himself on Saturday.
And then there's Rose, the 23-year-old prodigy who has drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan even amid his bouts with injury, the young gun who was believed to have the prolific athleticism necessary to overthrow the James-led Heat.
But he's been taken out of the equation, and now the path to James' first NBA title is as open as ever. Any potential excuses are out the window. Any serious roadblocks have been removed.
James and the Heat now live in an Eastern Conference that is built for them to waltz into the finals. They lost only three games on their road to the finals last year, including a routine mash-up of a Rose-included Bulls.
And what awaits them this season? A battered Knicks team? A fragile Celtics squad? A Bulls team down their best player?
They are not opponents to be taken lightly, but they are also not opponents that instill fear in Miami. And they shouldn't.
As long as James continues to embrace the spotlight, continues to thrive on the stage he's supposed to thrive on and avoids another playoff meltdown, the Heat are coming out of the Eastern Conference.
With Rose out, the NBA championship is now James' and the rest of the Heat's to lose.
To begin his Miami Marlins career, pitcher Mark Buehrle has gotten a raw deal. Despite posting a fantastic 2.63 ERA with only three walks allowed in his first four starts, he has only one win and three losses.
Welcome to Florida, Mark.
Yet, the left-handed hurler does have something to be proud of, even if it is a hardly-lauded career milestone. In his last start, April 25, against the New York Mets, the 33-year-old pitched his 2,500th inning.
11 active pitchers and nearly 250 twirlers all-time have reached the mark, so it is not terribly rare, yet it is a testament to Buehrle’s quiet consistency, perpetual good health and dependable ability to eat innings, year after year.
The St. Charles, Mo. native has tossed at least 200 innings in each season since 2001, that is every year of his career, except for his rookie campaign. Except for the 2000 season, he has started at least 30 games each year, too. In fact, Buehrle, who has an impressive array of off-speed pitches that keeps hitters guessing frame after frame, has led the league in both those categories, twice.
He has tossed 27 complete games in his career, including a perfecto and a no-hitter. Among active pitchers, that is the ninth-best mark. Of those 27 complete games, eight have been shutouts, placing him 11th among current tossers in that category.
Not too surprisingly, 2012 looks like it is going to be more of the same for the husky hurler from the South. According to The Sports Network, the crafty southpaw is on pace for 32 starts and over 215 innings pitcher.
The 245 lb. moundsman, who has 162 wins to his name, is even starting to generate some Hall of Fame buzz. Whether or not he’ll make it to the Hall when his career is over is up for debate, but if he continues to post 200 inning season after 200 inning season for years to come then, well, anything is possible.
Generally, it takes a few years to determine the true grade an organization deserves for its draft class.
But that doesn't mean we can't have some fun and project how good we feel these players will be.
Thus, still immersed in the NFL draft afterglow, I'll grade a few of my favorite draft classes from this past year. Some teams added a bevy of young talent in the rebuilding effort. Others added key pieces to positions of need for an immediate upgrade next season.
Either way, the following teams did well in my book.
The Bengals had this year's best draft in my opinion, both adding instant starters at need positions and finding great value later in the draft.
I believe Dre Kirkpatrick is going to be an excellent corner in this league, and he and Leon Hall will give the Bengals an excellent pair of starting corners. Guard Kevin Zeitler will be an instant starter at a position of need.
Oh, but it keeps getting better.
The team got fantastic value in the second and third round, adding defensive tackles Devon Still and Brandon Thompson.
But the steal of the draft was adding wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the third round. Sanu looks like he could be an excellent possession receiver in the NFL and, when paired with the field-stretching A.J. Green, gives the Bengals two starting receivers who perfectly complement one another.
They weren't done. Fourth-rounder Orson Charles should win the second tight end spot. Fifth-round picks Marvin Jones (quick receiver who could be the team's third option at the position) and George Iloka (safety) were excellent values and will be given opportunities to see the field next season.
The Eagles lost five games last season that they led heading into the fourth quarter, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the team focused on defense early in this draft.
Fletcher Cox will be an immediate contributor at defensive tackle and should be a force penetrating the line in the Eagle's Wide 9 scheme.
But the good picks kept coming. Second-round selection Mychal Kendricks should start immediately at the SAM position for the Eagles, and the Birds got one of the best second-round value picks when Vinny Curry fell to them at 59. He'll be added to the defensive-end rotation and be a third-down factor next season.
With Brandon Boykin a potential contributor in the return game and in the slot as a nickel corner, and potential sleeper finds in WR Marvin McNutt and offensive lineman Brandon Washington, the Eagles look like a team.
Nick Foles in the third round is a question mark, but he'll have plenty of time to learn how to play the position. If he has as much potential as Andy Reid clearly thinks he does, this could turn into one of Reid's finest drafts in 14 years.
I love the selections of Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David at the top of this draft, three players that will either start or see significant time immediately.
But the Bucs draft was a little top-heavy in my opinion, and I'm not sure this draft class will be remembered outside of the top-three players they landed.
Still, few other teams added the instant contributers that the Bucs will get with Barron, Martin and David. That alone was worth an excellent grade in my opinion.
If the priority heading into the weekend was adding players to protect Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers did that in a big way.
They got the best value in the first round when future All-Pro guard David DeCastro fell to them at 24, and the value picks kept coming when tackle Mike Adams dropped down to 56. Character issues aside—I'm going to go ahead and assume the Steelers did their homework on Adams—he's a guy that can play, and represents great value with that pick.
I'm not so sure Sean Spence is a good fit at linebacker, but Alameda Ta'amu could develop into an excellent replacement for nose tackle Casey Hampton. Chris Rainey is an intriguing prospect at running back, and could be a dynamic scat back and returner for the team.
Again, this draft was a bit top heavy, but the Steelers did well to solidify themselves at positions of need.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets make moves like Bill Belichick.
Some teams were able to stock up on talent in Saturday's fourth round of the NFL draft, while others kept making the same head-scratching moves they've been making throughout the course of draft weekend.
Here's a look at some of the fourth-round winners and losers.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams got the fourth round off to the right start by selecting Wake Forest wide receiver Chris Givens, the 11th ranked receiver on the board. Though he doesn't possess the ideal size at 5'11" and 198 pounds and his hands are on the small side, he's a threat after the catch and tracks the ball very well. Last season at Wake, he registered 83 receptions, 1,330 yards and nine touchdowns.
Another thing that makes Givens a threat is the fact that he isn't afraid to go across the middle, nor is he afraid to block. He's fast and he's tough, so even despite some concerns that he doesn't work as hard as he can in the weight room, he has the potential to be a high-reward pick for the Rams.
The Texans had three picks in the fourth round and came away with center Ben Jones, wideout Keshawn Martin and defensive end Jared Crick.
Jones was the second-best center on the board and has started every game since his sophomore year. He's appeared in every game in his college career, and though he's been dinged for having less athleticism than other centers, he makes up for it with aggression and physicality and has above-average upper-body strength. The Georgia lineman has been called a quarterback for the line and has excellent instincts.
In Martin, the Texans get a fast prospect who can pay dividends purely as a special-teamer. In 2011, he had 66 receptions for 777 yards and four TDs for the Spartans, and though he's undersized at 5'11" and 188 pounds, his speed is way above average and he's a hard worker who will contribute wherever he can.
Crick is a bit of a risk because of his injury history—he suffers from knee tendinitis and sprained his MCL in spring practice in 2011. But he's a very smart player with an excellent work ethic who always gives an extra effort making the tackle or getting the sack. He also has great stamina at 6'4" and 279 pounds.
Offensive guard Gino Gradkowski was a puzzling selection for many Baltimore fans. The Delaware grad ranked as the 29th best guard and yet went to the Ravens as the third pick in the fourth round.
At 6'2" and 295 pounds, he's undersized, and he doesn't make up for it with superior power and could have trouble going up against NFL defensive lines. He's a hard worker, but unless he can get bigger—which is unlikely—his impact will be very limited.
Baltimore did make a decent move with a compensatory pick later in the draft, taking South Carolina State's Christian Thompson, a former Auburn safety with speed and athleticism who had to leave Auburn for academic reasons.
He has a snazzy name, but he's not quite as snazzy a player as fans would've liked to see. The Bills selected Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham with the 10th pick in the fourth round, and despite a good attitude and lots of aggression, he's about 6'2" and isn't getting any bigger than 241 pounds.
He does have long arms and big hands, but doesn't have excellent blocking instincts and loses sight of the ball in traffic. He also struggles to consistently come up with the big shot.
Later in the fourth round, the Bills made a so-so selection with LSU corner Ron Brooks. He's extremely fast, but at 5'10" and 190 pounds, he's not incredibly strong and could fall victim to NFL wide receivers.
Samstag, 28. April 2012
During the first intermission of Saturday night's playoff series-opening game between the Los Angeles Kings and the St. Louis Blues, the TSN panel weighed in on where they expect Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo to end up in the fall.
Darren Dreger said he thinks Luongo will end up in Tampa Bay, but Bob McKenzie and former Leaf bench boss Paul Maurice see him going to Toronto.
If we disregard the length of his contract, we can all agree that a goalie of Luongo's calibre is exactly what has been missing from the Toronto Maple Leafs for years.
Of course, if you want to trade your 33-year-old goalie who is under contract for the next decade, you'll have to accept much less than what he's worth in return.
It will be amusing to speculate about potential trade scenarios, but one thing is certain: A goalie in the Leafs organization—not counting Jonas Gustavsson, who is expected to leave via free agency—will have to depart if Luongo is to be brought in.
James Reimer is still considered the goalie of the future in Toronto, but if Luongo is acquired, the future will have to wait for at least a few years.
After all, there are still a few good years left in Luongo.
And once those few years are over, perhaps Toronto will be in a situation similar to what the Boston Bruins are going through. As in, the Leafs will have a good-but-aging starting goaltender with a young star eager to wrest the job away from his mentor.
That's not to say Luongo is similar as a player to Tim Thomas, nor Reimer to Tuukka Rask.
In any case, the acquisition of the presumably soon-to-be former Canuck would halt—or at least significantly slow down—the development of Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas.
Scrivens is third, at worst, on the Leafs' goalie depth chart. At best, he is 2B with Gustavsson being 2A.
He is ready to fill the backup position with the big club, which will never happen if both Luongo and Reimer are in Toronto.
Since Reimer is the goalie of the future, it would appear Scrivens will be the one leaving.
That would give Jussi Rynnas the opportunity to become the starting goaltender with the Toronto Marlies and take the next step in his development.
As quoted in the Vancouver Sun, Canucks GM Mike Gillis said that he's "not sure if [Lack] will be absolutely ready and we may not know until next September if he's completely ready."
This statement tells us that even if Lack isn't NHL-ready, he's darn close.
Acquiring another relatively young and relatively NHL-ready backup goaltender would just hamper Lack's development.
If the Leafs sent Rynnas to Vancouver in a package for Luongo, there would still be the question of what to do with Ben Scrivens.
Even if Reimer himself is traded for Luongo, the Canucks would still have their own goalie situation to sort out.
Eddie Lack is currently a restricted free agent, but the Canucks didn't sign him to an entry-level contract two years ago just to kick him to the curb at its completion.
Regardless of who or what is traded for Roberto Luongo, the fact is that a Toronto goalie not named Jonas Gustavsson will have to leave town to facilitate Luongo's arrival.
If Reimer is the future and Rynnas isn't quite ready for NHL action, it looks like Scrivens is the odd-man out.
But where will he go and for what?
Who says the offseason is boring?
During his great promo last Monday on Raw SuperShow with John Cena and his match with Brock Lesnar Sunday night, former multiple World Champion and Hall of Famer Edge mentioned that his contract will be end this Monday morning.
With his current contract set to expire at the beginning of next week, what is the latest update on the Rated R Superstar re-signing with the WWE and continue to stay on as a legend due to his injuries that forced his retirement?
It appears that Edge is going to let his contract with WWE expire on Monday. The 2012 WWE Hall of Famer was reportedly offered a new deal to remain exclusive to the company and didn't sign it. As noted earlier, he will be appearing at the Resistance Pro Wrestling show on May 11th in Chicago.
It was reported in the past few weeks the WWE was offering a contract to Edge that was well under the money given in the Legends contract of fellow Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels and hardcore icon Mick Foley.
After all the great moments that Edge gave to the fans during his decade-plus career, the WWE should have sucked it up and gave the former champion a deal that he was worthy of instead of trying give him a dud of a contract.
Even though choosing not accept a new deal with the company, I think the WWE and Edge will eventually come to terms so we can see the Rated-R Superstar come down the aisle once more on a Raw, SmackDown or a pay-per-view event.
With the news of Edge choosing not to re-sign with the WWE, do you think the Hall of Famer will eventually re-sign with the company or try to get into new ventures outside the company that made him a star?
Jump into the Debate and have your say. Agree with someone's comment? Vote for it to make the Debate Highlights section. Disagree with a comment? Reply and voice your opinion. Happy Debating!
Southern Methodist Mustangs offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum has the potential to be a very good pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Beachum played left tackle for the Mustangs, but at 6-3, 306 pounds he doesn't have the ideal size to be a quality left tackle in the NFL.
The natural transition for him would be a move to guard in the NFL, and hill skill set should work nicely there.
What Beachum Brings to the Team
There is a ton of value in a player that has the ability and skill set to play guard, but naturally understands how to play left tackle. This means his football IQ is high, as is his understanding of blocking schemes and ability to hold off a pass rush.
He'll be comfortable on the edge in pulling situations and can become an asset at guard as a pass protector. Having a solid interior line is vital, and Beachum should be able to protect the A-gap with the natural ability of a left tackle.
He will have to work hard to transition to guard in the NFL, but he looks to be a developmental pick worth taking.
What Experts Are Saying
Here's a take on Beachum from NationalFootballPost.com:
Impression: Possesses the size/power to win as an in-line guy and the athleticism to pull in power situations and get out into the second level as well. He's a coordinated pass protector on the edge and has the skill set to make the move to guard at the next level.
I agree completely that his size and experience from playing tackle and blocking the edge will give him an advantage. His knowledge of pass protection will also be a plus.
Beachum is nothing more than a developmental pick right now. It's going to take him some time to learn the nuances of guard, as well as getting used to the NFL.
It's all about upside in the last round and Beachum has that. He played left tackle in college, but doesn't have the size to hold down the blindside in the pros so he figures to move to right guard. There, his high football IQ and power will serve him well. Won't be ready to start immediately, but he could develop into a nice find this late in the draft.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana coach Frank Vogel is known for his bold declarations.
Senio Kelemete was the eighth-ranked offensive guard in the 2012 NFL draft.
He began his college career with the Washington Huskies as a defensive lineman before becoming one of the best offensive tackles in the Pac-12.
Kelemete will most likely make his impact at offensive guard in the NFL because he lacks the heft and the skill set to stay in front of elite outside pass-rushers. But he does have good hands and feet, and is talented at pulling and getting to the second-level to effectively block downfield.
In this video against Cal, Kelemete got to the second level repeatedly and made several key downfield blocks. The Huskies ran for the game-winning touchdown from the goal line behind Kelemete's block.
Kelemete started his final two seasons for the Huskies at left tackle but is viewed by most as a better fit inside at guard. Kelemete looked good at 309 pounds after playing closer to 290 this season, showing the balance, quick feet and improved power (25 reps today after 21 at the Combine) to handle the transition. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
Kelemete is the ideal size for an offensive guard at 6'4" and between 305-310 pounds. He also has good hands and feet and a powerful lower half. Fires off the ball quickly. Has a mean streak befitting a former defensive player, and he will be a solid run-blocker. Beefy enough to handle inside pass rush and can help his tackle with defensive ends rushing inside shoulder.
He needs more experience and needs to work on his technique. He sometimes plays too upright and appears off-balance when he stands up to pass block. Lacks elite footwork or size needed to play offensive tackle in the NFL.
Kelemete is inexperienced at offensive guard and has only been playing on the offensive line since 2009, so he may be a bit too raw to step into a starting role in his rookie season.
Given a couple years of coaching and game experience, Kelemete should be a solid offensive guard in the NFL for many years to come.
After an amazing first round of the NFL draft, where the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves on the clock with one of the best players still available, the Steelers were quick to turn in their card with the name Dave DeCastro on it.
In doing so, the Steelers not only solidified one of their biggest areas of weakness, but they found a player that is exactly how you would describe a Steelers offensive lineman.
As I sat watching the second and third rounds of the draft, I wondered if there was any way that the Steelers could come close to the success they did in the first round, and I honestly didn't think it would be possible.
I was wrong.
When the Steelers were on the clock in the second round, one of the players that many mock drafts had the Steelers taking in the first round was still available. Mike Adams, Ohio State.
Once again, Pittsburgh was on the clock, and a person that not only fills a major need was available, but one that should have been off the board an entire round earlier.
You can call it the "red flag" issues if you want, but the that does not change the talent level of the Steelers second-round pick.
While some people point to the red flags, they need to be addressed. First, you have the seven games he was suspended in his three-year career at Ohio State. Those games were for trading game memorabilia for tattoos. This is the same reason Terrell Pryor was suspended.
You can call it wrong if you would like, but in reality, it was more stupid than wrong. What he got suspended for is not only legal in the real world and the NFL, it is something that most rookies do at one point or another before they get their first contract for income.
Now, the other issue, which should be a bigger issue for the Steelers, is that it was leaked that Adams tested positive for marijuana during the NFL Scouting Combine.
This is not about if you or I agree that smoking weed should be allowed or not. It is about if Adams mature enough to realize that the mistake was made, and it can not be made again. If he can, then this water is under the bridge.
If Adams can keep away from smoking pot, then this second-round steal could be as big as the first-round steal of David DeCastro.
When the Steelers were on the clock in the third round, all I could think about was them drafting a NT to replace Casey Hampton. With Alameda Ta'amu from Washington available, all I could think about was having the Steelers call his name.
Then they didn't. Instead, they selected Sean Spence out of the University of Miami.
For starters, in full disclosure, I am a Miami Hurricanes fan. I think Spence is a great player, and I think he is going to make an amazing addition to the Steelers roster.
I have to admit, though, I was kind of shocked when the Steelers called his name. Then I thought about it.
Everyone was anticipating that the Steelers were going to select Dont'a Hightower in the first round, and the way this is looking is like they would have, had DeCastro not been available when the Steelers picked.
My concern has always been that I believed Stevenson Sylvester is good enough to be a solid ILB for the Steelers, and in drafting Spence what the Steelers did was push Sylvester to be a better player. That and the fact that Larry Foote will be playing his last season in 2012 with the Steelers.
Spence brings to the table a very different skill set to the Steelers than what we have had before. When you look at the Steelers linebackers, all of them are big and strong. Woodley, Harrison and Timmons are all monsters. The reason Timmons is on the inside is because he is faster than both Woodley and Harrison.
Spence is faster than all three of them. In the NFL today, teams are employing more two tight end sets, and the ILB's are being required to guard them. That is not even mentioning that the ILB is also responsible for covering the running back out of the backfield.
With Farrior playing next to Timmons, it was a case of Farrior blitzing and Timmons dropping into coverage. This hurt the Steelers on a couple levels, because teams knew who was blitzing and who was covering, and they could exploit that situation.
Now, either can cover, and either can blitz. This has to make Dick LeBeau ecstatic.
Though Spence will see the field mostly on special teams in 2012, don't be shocked to see him in sub packages, because he has the tools to be a successful linebacker for the Steelers. There were more than a few times I said while watching the Hurricanes last year that I wish the Steelers would draft Spence. Now they did.
In grading Day 2 of the NFL draft, I have to give the Steelers:
Second Round, Mike Adams: A. Solid grade. Even though Adams has the "red flags," to get a first-round talent towards the end of the second round could not be considered less than an A.
Third Round, Sean Spence: A. The Steelers had a need at linebacker, and were able to come away with a player that fits their system. No, he is not going to come in and start this year, but how often do third-round picks? Spence will be a solid special teams contributor, and may play in some sub packages.
What to look for in the rest of the draft:
When looking at the available players, there are still a ton of players that the Steelers could pick, that should have been gone long before now.
Alameda Ta'amu—The big nose tackle, who could replace Casey Hampton is still available. Looking at the teams that run the 3-4 that pick before the Steelers and haven't drafted defensive line yet, there is a chance Ta'amu will be available when the Steelers select in the fourth round.
Brandon Washington, G, Miami—Though the Steelers used their first two picks on offensive linemen, don't rule out them taking another one. Between depth, and the injury history of Willie Colon, this could be the Steelers next pick.
George Iloka, S, Boise St.—The Steelers still have a need in their secondary, and Iloka could be the eventual replacement for Ryan Clark.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami—Now that the Steelers have addressed their line, they could go on to replace Rashard Mendenhall. Miller is big, strong and fast, and the only reason he has not been selected yet is because of his injury history. He reminds me of Frank Gore.
Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia—Had he not fractured his leg in the Senior Bowl, he would have been selected already. Boykin is a team leader, and a playmaker, and won't last long into the next round.
Bobby Massie, OT, Ole Miss—Again, this would have to be a depth pick for the Steelers, but on a line with injury history like the Steelers have had, can you ever have enough depth?
Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami—At 6'5, 215 lbs and 35" long arms, Streeter could be the deep threat the Steelers have been looking for for years. Having only started one season at Miami is the reason he is still available, but with a 40 time of 4.37 seconds (faster than Antonio Brown), he shouldn't last too much longer.
Though none of these players may be available when the Steelers make their next pick, the way the draft has fallen to them to this point, don't be shocked if the Steelers end up with a least one, or two, of them.
Freitag, 27. April 2012
The Toronto Raptors entered the 2011-12 season with zero expectations and became a bit of a surprise by becoming a hard-playing team who played good defense. Now with cap space, improving young players and two lottery picks joining the team next season, they should be able to make the playoffs if they build on what they started this year.
The 2012 NBA Playoffs has its share of epic first-round clashes and obviously lopsided pairings. Some matchups are more lopsided than others, and are destined to end in a sweep.
These series were over the second the pairings were announced.
Spurs. vs Jazz
This series will be high scoring and fun to watch, but Utah will not win a game. The Spurs are the West's best team and will flex their collective muscles in fine fashion.
The Spurs are an incredibly experienced team with the ability to score in bunches. They have eight players averaging at least nine points per game. Utah's depth is not even close to that level.
Utah barely got into the playoffs, and they will make an early exit. The Utah frontcourt is as deep and as talented as anyone else's but their backcourt sorely lacks a dynamic playmaker.
San Antonio walks the fine line between experienced and just plain old. They do not play flashy basketball but they epitomize the team concept.
The Jazz are a good team with better years ahead. The Spurs are a championship-ready team with everything going in their favor in this first-round matchup.
Bulls vs. Sixers
The Sixers started the year strong but faded tremendously over the second half of the season. The Bulls have been a contender from the very beginning and that is not going to change anytime soon.
Normally the Sixers hold an advantage defensively, and with their bench scoring. They do not have that advantage in this series.
Chicago's bench players are the same caliber. C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver are all capable offensive threats in reserve roles. This negates Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Lou Williams' presence off the Philadelphia bench.
The Sixers lack star power, and rely on their defense to win contests. The Bulls are an excellent defensive team who have no problem playing a grinding, stingy style of game.
Derrick Rose is still not in tip-top shape but he will have plenty of time to adjust. The Bulls have won without Rose throughout the season and the Sixers are merely a playoff tuneup.
This series will be over before Philadelphia knows what hit them. The Bulls have been there all year and are not going anywhere.
Pacers vs. Magic
The Pacers are the best NBA team that no one talks about. Without Dwight Howard the Magic will exit the 2012 NBA Playoffs very quickly.
Indiana plays team basketball on both ends of the court. Their inexperience will hurt them further down the line but not in this series.
The Pacers ability to defend all five positions will stifle the Howard-less Magic. Ryan Anderson is a contender for the NBA's Most Improved award but he is not ready to be the leading man on a playoff team.
Howard's absence will give Roy Hibbert an obvious advantage down low. This opens up the entire Pacer offense and allows their perimeter players to create for themselves.
Indiana's youth will not be an issue in this series because the talent is so lopsided. The Pacers will run away with this series.
The first round of the NFL draft is always unpredictable. This year's first round, however, was even more unpredictable than usual.
The first two picks of the draft went exactly according to plan. The Indianapolis Colts took Andrew Luck at No. 1, and the Washington Redskins took Robert Griffin III at No. 2. Everything went swimmingly.
The draft went way off the rails after that. By the time the draft was into the 20s, it was obvious that anything could happen.
Despite all the craziness, some teams played it cool at the end of the first round and just took the best players they could get. A couple picks jump out as absolute steals.
Here's a rundown of said steals.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Trade up and Draft RB Doug Martin at No. 31
The Buccaneers made a smart move trading down from No. 5 to No. 7 earlier in the first round. That deal gave them the flexibility to trade up when the draft got to the end of the first round (ESPN.com has a recap of all the trades).
The Bucs cut a deal with the Denver Broncos, sending them picks No. 36 and No. 101 in exchange for picks No. 31 and No. 126. With the No. 31 pick, they got Doug Martin, who was widely considered to be the best running back in the draft after Trent Richardson.
Martin represents an outstanding addition for the Bucs. He's a tough runner who will also help out in Tampa's passing game. The playbook will be much more wide open with him in the backfield than it ever was with LeGarrette Blount in the backfield.
Fear the Bucs offense. Josh Freeman is going to be a lot better, they added Vincent Jackson and now they have a talented running back. The best part is that they didn't have to pay an arm and a leg to get him.
3. Green Bay Packers Draft DE/OLB Nick Perry at No. 28
The Packers absolutely had to find a guy who could rush the passer and free things up for Clay Matthews. Nick Perry looked like a perfect fit for them before the draft, but I figured he would be off the board by the time the Packers were on the clock.
Nope. Perry was still there for the taking at No. 28, and the Packers grabbed him.
Perry will have to learn some new tricks in Green Bay, as he's a defensive end by trade and the Packers will no doubt be looking to use him as a linebacker. But his versatility is something the Packers will take advantage of, and they'll no doubt make good use of Perry's pass-rushing skills.
I won't be surprised if Perry starts right away. I also won't be surprised if Green Bay's pass rush gets back to where it was in 2010.
2. Detroit Lions Draft OT Riley Reiff at No. 23
I and many others expected Riley Reiff to come off the board very quickly, possibly as high as the top 10. He surely wouldn't last beyond the top 16, anyway.
He did, and that was thanks in large part to all the movement that was going on at the top of the draft. Reiff quickly became an afterthought.
Drafting Reiff was a no-brainer for the Lions. Finding an offensive lineman was one of their top priorities, and they drafted a guy who was widely considered to be the top offensive tackle in the draft after Matt Kalil.
The Lions don't need to start Reiff right away, but he'll see plenty of action as a rookie. His starting days will come soon enough, and when they do he'll be tasked with keeping Matthew Stafford healthy.
He will do so. The Lions scored with this pick.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers Draft OG David DeCastro at No. 24
Steal of the draft so far, right here. Pittsburgh should be very, very pleased.
David DeCastro wasn't supposed to last this long. He could have been a top-10 pick, and I was going to be very surprised if he dropped past No. 20. We're talking about a guy who is without a doubt the top interior lineman in the 2012 draft class.
DeCastro fell anyway, and he happened to fall all the way to a Steelers team that desperately needed to find a talented offensive lineman.
They found one. DeCastro can start right right away alongside Maurkice Pouncey, strengthening both Pittsburgh's run blocking and pass protection.
Huge win for the Steelers.
Eli Manning can’t pass every play.
With the 32nd pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected David Wilson out of Virginia Tech.
Instant Reaction: New York wanted Doug Martin didn’t they?
Analysis: The Giants lost Mario Manningham to free agency this offseason. They also cut Brandon Jacobs. On top of all that, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckham both tore ACLs at the end of the season.
New York had to replenish Manning’s arsenal of weapons this draft. Martin is a great start. Giants fans have to wonder, though, if their team preferred Doug Martin.
Initial Grade: B