Thursday, April 30, 2009

Goliath v. Goliath

I like my sports Goliath v. Goliath, no David's, no one year wonder team, just top dog v. top dog. I want to see Phil v. Tiger on Sundays, sorry Kenny Perry. I want to see Patriots v. Giants, not the Cardinals. That's how it should be folks, if your running these sports, in this economy, your about the bottom line. Tampa Bay in the World Series is cute, if your from St. Petersburg. When your in charge you want Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, and Phillies on your biggest stage, not the Marlins and Rays.

What am I getting at? I'm glad your still reading. However, what I'm getting at is how we're destined to have some fantastic Goliath v. Goliath showdowns in the coming months, keep in mind you already saw Phil and Tiger tee it up at Augusta, we're getting lucky.

The NBA Finals: I love the two-month foreplay the NBA is rolling out to its' fans. The reality is, who cares if the Spurs are dead? Does the winner of Celts v. Bulls really matter? Dwight Howard can be suspended for the rest of the playoffs or he can play, either way the only parade in Orlando will feature Minnie, Mickey, and Goofy, bank on it. Shut the television off, crack open a cold one and enjoy the gorgeous weather we're having, you won't miss anything. The Lakers and Cavaliers, or should I say, Kobe and LeBron are leading us down this road to Goliath v. Goliath and I couldn't be more excited. The Utah Jazz got lucky with one home win against a very good Lakers team, aside from that hiccup L.A. beat them by ten or more every game, 4-1 series over. As for LeBron & Co. in Cleveland, did they have a first round bye? I mean I know that Detroit got off a plane in Cleveland but did they actually play a game or two? I'm going to stop with Detroit, I get it the city is having some problems. Seriously though, Cleveland smashed Detroit 4-0 in the series winning every game by nearly 16 points, even holding the Pistons to under 70 in game 3. If we think for one minute that a Celtic team without KG, or a Magic team that is bound to go seven against Philly is taking Cleveland to the brink, we've got another thing coming. The Nuggets, Mavericks, and Rockets are that little field mouse the cat plays with to the Lakers that's about all they are. I'm OKAY with all of this though, just to make my point. I want nothing more than to see Kobe v. LeBron, as a die hard Celtics fan if KG isn't there I don't want them playing either of these teams. Kobe will rise to Goliath like status when he sees LeBron and vice versa. This is Magic v. Bird 2.0, believe that. In the NBA there could be no other Goliath than Kobe and LeBron, take stage fellas.

Round 2; Stanley Cup Playoffs Before we get to Crosby/Malkin v. Ovechkin/Semin hold your horses. The Detroit Red Wings v. Anaheim Ducks features the last two winners of Lord Stanley's Cup, two teams which were somewhat dismissed heading into the playoffs. The Ducks dropped the top seeded Sharks in six games lead by goalie Jonas Hiller whose at the top of his game. The Red Wings offense scored 4 goals or more in each of their four games during their first round sweep of the Bluejackets. Littered with veterans from Red Wing goalie Chris Osgood to Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer, these two teams are a Goliath v. Goliath match up that I can't wait to watch. Back to what you want to discuss, Penguins v. Capitals or more specifically, Crosby v. Ovechkin. However, you know what your getting with The Kid and Ove, they'll score some goals, they'll be dominant, but Penguin center Evgeni Malkin and Capital winger Alexander Semin may be the guys your really watching for. It was Semin who scored two goals in the Capitals must win game 3 in Madison Square Garden and the game winner in the decisive game 7. It is Evgeni Malkin not Crosby who leads all postseason pucksters in total points. Five goals in the Penguins first round series against the Flyers helped Pittsburgh advance. Malkin & Semin are in the top two in points, the top three in goals and both are the catalyst for their repsective teams. No sweeps, no NHL darlings, just another set of Goliaths v. Goliaths.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who Wants Next?

In the words of Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh (Bull Durham, come on people!) "I want to give him the heat and announce my presence with authority!" That's what Celtic point guard, Rajon Rondo, is doing to the 2009 playoffs, announcing his presence with authority!

Through Rondo's first five playoff games this season, he is absolutely giving the world a personal clinic on how to run the point and create offense. In the absence of Kevin Garnett and let's not forget Leon Powe, it is Rondo that is largely responsible for both picking up the slack and leading the Celtics to three first round victories. Pun which is totally intended, he is grabbing the bull by the horns.

On the glass . . . It isn't often that you see a point guard contribute as large on the boards as Rajon does. The third year point guard is averaging 10.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs. To put it bluntly, he's in the same neighborhood with guys like Yao Ming, LeBron James, and teammate Kendrick Perkins. From my 6'1" point guard, I'll take numbers like that any day.

His defense . . . A staple of the Celtics run toward the banner known as 17 was their unstoppable defense. Again, with Kevin Garnett on the mend the Celtics do lack the defensive intensity they possessed only months ago. Someone must have forgot to tell Rajon that. In games 2 & 3, both Celtic victories, Rajon recorded five steals per game. Two games which resulted in Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose recording 9 turnovers combined. It should also come as to no surprise that Derrick Rose is recording 5.4 turnovers a game with Rondo playing opposite him. Let's also quickly note that of Rondo's 10.2 rebounds per game average, 7.2 of those are defensive boards, the man knows where to be to avoid giving his opponent a second chance.

Dropping dimes . . . 51 assists in five games, you do the math. Rondo is creating 10+ opportunities per game for his teammates to put the ball in the hole, and that's just the ones that were successfully converted. For the last two seasons we pretty much spoke of two point guards when it came to the word "elite," Chris Paul down in 'Nawlins and Deron Williams out in Utah. This isn't a love seat anymore, Rajon has sat down on the couch. All three point guards are averaging 10+ assists per game and after round 1, Rajon may be the only one left.

Clear out . . . Someone was going to have to pick up their scoring without Garnett, guess who? You know The Truth can make his own shot. Ray Allen is one of the games greatest shooters, ever. However, it is Rajon Rondo that is leading the team in points her game. At 24.2 points per game, Rajon is elevating his scoring to the point where it's winning the Celtics games. His lowest point total of the playoffs thus far was a 19 point performance in the Celtics game 2 victory. His high, 29 in game 1. Rondo's outburst in the 4th quarter led the Celtics from an 11 point deficit to force overtime. No longer is Rajon the hesitant shooter that we saw in November & December. His 12 for 22, 28 point performance in game 5 helped give the Celtics the series lead and push the Bulls to the brink.

Are you adding it up? Go back and read that again . . fine, I'll give you the answer. Rajon Rondo is averaging a triple-double a night in the playoffs. Through five games the Celtics floor general is averaging 24.2 ppg, 10.2 apg, and 10.2 rpg. Impressed? You better be. It has got me to thinking that with a healthy Garnett, is it possible that the Celtics would have been better in 2009? Would the Celtics have been able to win a second straight title? Time will tell, but we are witnessing the evolution of one of the games fiercest point guards. Believe that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back To Bite You

Consider the 24-hour non stop NFL draft discussions on ESPN as the your Thanksgiving dinner. Consider my 2009 NFL draft recap as the turkey sandwich a day later.

I don't bother grading all 32 teams, we really don't know what players are a hit for at least a couple years. No one hyped the Patriots for drafting Tom Brady late in the second day, and at one point Vince Young was the best selection of the 2006 draft, now he's a backup at best. Some quick winners & losers of the '09 NFL Draft and then I'll blow off some steam:

Winners:

Atlanta Falcons You have to consider everything the Falcons did last week not just during the actual draft. Trading a future (2010) second round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for literally a perennial pro bowl tight end may be the biggest trade since Randy Moss left Oakland for a bag of donuts. The Falcons removed themselves from the Brandon Pettigrew sweepstakes and were determined to improve on their 24th ranked defense of 2008. Atlanta started the draft by selecting Peria Jerry in round 1, the first of seven defensive players the Falcons would add through the draft. Lawrence Sidbury of Richmond provides more depth on the defensive line for Atlanta and will hopefully make an instant impact on their pass rush. It should could as to no surprise that GM Thomas Dimitroff had a plan and executed it to perfection.

New York Jets Build up your defense, find a running game, don't expect your quarterback to throw the ball 30-40 times a game. That's the way to execute with a rookie quarterback. That is the plan that Rex Ryan has as new head coach of the Jets. The Ravens didn't ask Joe Flacco to go out and win games, the Falcons waited till Matt Ryan was ready to take the reigns, then he did so. By going up and getting your target, the Jets did everything they wanted and needed to do. When Mark Sanchez is ready, he's going to win games for the New York Jets, until then expect their defense and rushing attack to keep them alive. The Iowa RB Shonn Greene is a smart pick up for the Jets, they do need help in the backfield especially if they plan to base their attack around the rushing game. You have to like the trade and subsequent pick, even if you hate all things New York.

Baltimore Ravens The Ravens could have done some things here. I wanted to see them draft a big wide receiver for Joe Flacco, Hakeen Nicks was still on the board when the Ravens were up. With an aging Ray Lewis, the Ravens could have added Rey Maualuga, the bone crushing middle linebacker from Southern California. Lewis could have schooled the somewhat immature Maualuga and given that Ravens defense the bite they require. However, upon seeing Michael Oher the offensive tackle from Ole' Miss available at their pick, it was a steal. Oher is a big talented offensive tackle who will need the coaching that Baltimore can provide him with. Anyone who has the physical talent and the drive can succeed with Ray Lewis watching over that franchise. Aside from Oher, the outside linebacker Paul Kruger from Utah is a fantastic fit for Baltimore. He's a speed guy with a ton of athleticism and can cover the edge. Baltimore addressed needs and improved on both sides of the ball.

Losers:

Oakland Raiders The real loser of Day 1 wasn't the Oakland Raiders it was Darrius Heyward-Bey. The former Maryland receiver will go his entire career being constantly compared to what I project as the most gifted player in this draft, Michael Crabtree. The Raiders pick was there, it was Jeremy Maclin. Wait one second, I love Michael Crabtree but if you have durability questions fine, take the next best guy which isn't Heyward-Bey, it's Maclin. Furthermore, you've got five teams that selected wide receivers behind you, were any of them asked if they'd like to trade up and get Crabtree once he slipped out of the top five? Most likely they weren't. Heyward-Bey isn't a bad football player and we shouldn't say he is, but he isn't Michael Crabtree and doesn't deserve to be compared to him because Al Davis has lost his marbles. Missouri's William Moore who eventually landed in Atlanta was available in the second round and what does Al Davis do? He passes on Moore for Michael Mitchell whose draft review reads like this "he wasn't productive enough at the college level while playing against a relatively low level of competition" if that isn't enough to scare you I don't know what is.

Miami Dolphins I guess it is hard to argue with Bill Parcells, he did just win a division with a team that was 1-15 a year before that. However, I think he made some mistakes throughout the draft process. I think the Dolphins needed an inside linebacker type and had the possibility to select Rey Maualuga. Fine if you think he has character issues but don't go and draft Vontae Davis, a guy who was actually benched in his senior year for being immature. Pat White is a phenomenal talent, but no one was taking a risk as early as the second round and thats where the Dolphins picked him. I like Pat White and I like to believe he's going to fit fine in the wild cat offense the Dolphins used last year, however didn't the Patriots just load up with young quick defensive talent? Didn't the Jets just hire Rex Ryan, the architect of the Raven defense? You aren't going to smoke and mirror your way around those defenses.

All Fired Up: When Mike Crabtree's former head coach at Texas Tech came out and ripped NFL coaches like Eric Mangini for not selecting the 2x Biletnikoff winner I wasn't shocked. Coach Leach was right, Eric Mangini shouldn't refer to anyone as a "primadonna", I believe Mr. Pot would have something to say to Mr. Kettle if he heard that one. Clearly the Browns wanted a receiver, they drafted two of them in the second round. I still think they passed on someone they'll regret passing on. As far as Jacksonville goes, they had more offensive line issues than anyone in the NFL, so they get a pass. As for the Raiders, I believe we've covered that. Do people understand what Michael Crabtree is capable of? Forget that he was in an offensive system that promoted throwing the ball and spreading out the field, we won't rehearse his stats because they are levels ahead of anyone at the same position. Michael Crabtree has the best hands in this draft, no one has better. Michael Crabtree is the only freshman to win the Biletnikoff Award. He did it for two straight years, with a quarterback who didn't even get drafted in this years draft, right or wrong? The 49ers who clearly had more holes to fill saw this gem sitting there and knew they couldn't pass on him. Michael Crabtree is a 6'3", 215lb., gym rat receiver. He'll be living miles away from Jerry Rice the greatest pass catcher of all time. I feel for Brady Quinn, his coach couldn't let anyone on that team be larger than he was.

Monday, April 27, 2009

SUSPEND HIM

Why is the NBA not reviewing Ben Gordon's antics after his game-tying three pointer at the end of the first overtime in the Bulls 121-118 victory over the Celtics Sunday afternoon?



I'm sure some of you remember when now Patriots wide out, then Vikings wide out, Randy Moss, celebrated a touchdown catch by mock mooning the crowd. Sure, it might be amusing as bathroom humour always is but the NFL didn't think so. In fact Mr. Moss received a rather hefty $100,000 fine for his actions.

Watch the play again with the YouTube clip I've posted. Ben Gordon hits the three point shot then feels the need to grab himself in celebration. Hey Ben, Michael ever do that? Larry ever do that? Maybe someone your familiar with, Ray Allen ever do that? What you did was classless and you ought to be suspended or at the very least pay a big fine. Grow up, you have kids watching you on television and people paying to see you play not grab yourself in a moment of celebration!

Every Way Possible

I was prepared to breakdown the entire 7-round NFL Draft today, then the Red Sox swept the Bronx Bombers right out of Fenway Park, so we'll be switching gears now.

On Monday morning the New York Yankees must have that same look on their face that Republicans had on theirs when Sarah Palin was placed on John McCain's ticket. In their heads the CNN stock ticker ran by saying "I guess we've tried anything, maybe the worst idea will work." In the Yankees case, they tried winning by bringing in their stopper, Mariano Rivera, that didn't work. The Yankees then turned to their offense, get to Josh Beckett early and often while $82.5 Million A.J. Burnett shows the Red Sox what he has. Six run cushion wasn't enough, Yanks go back to the drawing board. Alright, send out the veteran Andy Pettitte to dominate Sox hitters while our offense gets after the young Justin Masterson. Sox "young" pitching allows just 1 run, and the Yankees are headed back to New York, hat in hand.

It's fair to say that everyone in the Red Sox organization, from Theo Epstein to Terry Francona, is on the same exact page. Two-straight come from behind wins, and then show off at the end. What!?!?! You buy that the Red Sox just wanted to rest their bullpen? You buy that there wasn't anything else behind shuffling out the likes of Hunter Jones & Michael Bowden in a 3-run game on Sunday Night Baseball? Two pitchers with jersey numbers in the 60's who have about as much major league experience as both you and I? Maybe it's a more convincing argument if this game takes place in September, but this is the Yankees and despite what we want to think, even these games matter. Let me break this down for you, the Sox didn't land the high-price free agents this hot stove season, they had their limits and stuck to them. The Yanks went out and paid top dollar for every player they coveted, A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and most notably, Mark Teixeira. You know why the Red Sox didn't do that? Not because they didn't have the cash flow, trust me I've been to two games this season, they have the cash flow, it's because of what they have in their back pocket. A minor league system flush with talent that can be applied late in the season, mid-season call ups, and or trading chips. On Sunday night, they put that out there for display in front of a national audience against their hated rival. We'll call up these guys who will be here for all of 9 hours, they'll dominate your hitters, and then we'll send 'em back to the farm. Michael Bowden throws two innings, allows no hits, and strikes out two. Hunter Jones comes in with tying runs in front him, and gets out of the jam. This is why the Red Sox have won two championships over the past several years, and the Yankees are still scratching their heads.

How many teams in the majors have their #3 hitter hitting just .222 in the midst of his worst power struggle of his career, while their clean up man is .439 and leading the majors in batting average? I'll tell you how many, one. Despite the struggles of David Ortiz, the once mammoth slugger now turned singles hitter, first baseman Kevin Youkilis is scaring opposing pitchers more than any hitter this side of Albert Pujols. Youuuuuuuuuuuk is leading the Red Sox, winners of ten straight, in batting average, home runs, on base percentage, hits, and total bases. With David Ortiz yet to hit a home run, Youkilis has five, including his walk off home run to send the Yankees back to their hotel winless on Friday night. It's hard to argue that the Sox first baseman isn't the most valuable player in the American League, it's even harder to argue that he can't carry the Red Sox to their third title since 2003. The man who can play nearly every position on the field is a better hitter than any other in the American League, that includes you Alex Rodriguez.

I understand he may be the greatest closer in baseball history, for this columns sake, we'll call him that. Mo Rivera is the greatest closer in baseball history. You happy? However, in this ballpark, against these Red Sox maybe you could do the man a favor and give him a few nights off. Opening Day 2005, the Red Sox faithful give him a standing ovation for coughing up the ALCS to them just months earlier. Friday night, a two-run lead against a Red Sox who hasn't even worn the jersey for 12 whole months, he coughs it up again. The core of these Red Sox hitters have seen this closer more than any other in their careers, when Rivera comes jogging from the pen, their eyes light up. This isn't Yankee Stadium, we aren't selling fruit cups in the bleachers and Enter Sandman isn't ringing in our ears, when Mariano comes in the game at the Fens, we know it isn't over. Refill our cups, this one is going into extras. Are we at all surprised when Jason Bay launches a two-out game tying home run deep into the Massachusetts night? Everyone from the grounds crew to the scoreboard operators know that the Sox still have a shot when Rivera is in the game. He may be the best closer of all time, but once on Yawkey Way, he doesn't stand a chance.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let's Get Crazy: Day 1 Draft Recap

What!?!?!? Wait a minute, what the f*ck?!?!?! That was my reaction to Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders selecting Darrius Heyward-Bey, the wide receiver from Maryland at pick #7. While the consensus top receiver in the draft remains on the board, Michael Crabtree, the Raiders turn and draft the fastest, not the best, the fastest wide receiver in the draft. You can't even compare the stats against Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks (a fellow ACC wideout) or Jeremy Maclin. Why? Because all of those guys had more than 1,000 yards receiving and scored more than 10 touchdowns in 2008, two things Heyward-Bey didn't do. You know how crazy this pick is? No really, it's absurd. What!?!? You want to argue with me Oakland fans? Maybe Al wanted a versatile player, maybe he wants to use Heyward-Bey in the return game. Sure, use a guy in the return game whose never returned kicks in two years at Maryland. Jeremy Maclin, the wideout from Missouri, would have been too high at #7 as well, but at least I'd get that. Maclin has over 1,000 yards each of the last two years in kick returns, and another 250+ yards per year returning punts! Picking Heyward-Bey at #7 wasn't even the craziest thing Al did that day. After the hoards of Raiders fans cheered the pick (which could be another column on its' own) Al used his second round pick on a safety from Ohio, whom every expert had on their board in the 4th and 5th rounds. This guy is out of his mind, hey I have no problem taking my grandmothers license away after she runs over a lady in the super market parking lot, Commissioner Goodell maybe it's time we take Al's license away, before he ruins anymore careers.

Clearly Josh McDaniels and the Broncos have a plan, we just don't know if it'll work yet. Some good defensive talents on the board at #12, Larry English, Brian Orakpo, Robert Ayers, Peria Jerry, but the Denver Broncos give us the first running back off the board, Georgia's Knowshon Moreno. Now the Broncos did just sign veterans Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan(a former Patriot) and now they've added a top NFL prospect Knowshon Moreno. Jordan and Buckhalter both serve that mold of catching out of the backfield and being able to take the ball the distance, so does Moreno. The Broncos go for a great talent, but they have other needs. They follow that head scratcher by drafting Robert Ayers at #18, a strong final year at Tennessee really elevated this defensive end / linebacker, he's another of those hybrid defensive players. Ayers should help this defense get to the quarterback and shake things up in the AFC West. A pick I really liked came next by trading up and selecting Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest early in the second round. If your a Broncos fan you'll love this guy. For starters he's got a nose for the ball and can find it all over the field, not to mention he's one of top ten corners in career interceptions in NCAA history. It's safe to say that McDaniels is most likely the closest thing we're going to get to being "Belichick-ian" he's brash, cocky, and gets done what he wants done . . .

While we're on Belichick:

Their pick of linebackers were still available, Laurinaitis, Matthews, Maualuga, and Sintim. They want to grab some offensive line help for down the road, Michael Oher was still on the board. Top corners, Vontae Davis, Alphonso Smith, and Louis Delmas, all still available for a team that clearly needs help at cornerback. None of that matters to New England though . . . they'll do as they want. Baltimore expresses interest in Michael Oher so the Patriots give them their pick and move back to 26th also acquiring another 5th round pick. The Packers see linebacker Clay Matthews falling to New England, so they offer up three picks including the 41st overall to the Pats to get back into the first round. Patriots are officially out of the first round and have added two more picks that they didn't have at the beginning of Day 1. Finally at pick #34 (a pick acquired by dealing Matt Cassel to the Chiefs), the Patriots address their safety needs and select Patrick Chung, safety out of Oregon. Chung is fierce and a hard hitter, this replaces Rodney Harrison. Six picks later, the Patriots are lined up with the 40th pick by sending their 47th pick and two others to Oakland. Subsequently giving the Patriots two picks back to back, 40th and 41st. With the 40th pick the Patriots send notice to Vince Wilfork, selecting Boston College defensive tackle Ron Brace. If Wilfork believes he's about to hold the Patriots hostage for a big pay day, not so fast. Brace will work great in a Belichick defense and has the ability to be just as big in the National Football League as his counterpart drafted 9th, B.J. Raji. Chung at safety, Brace on the interior, and then Belichick gets the guy he originally wanted, cornerback from Connecticut, Darius Butler. Not so fast, the Patriots weren't done yet. Their 4th pick in the second round was to add a project in 6'7" manchild, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Who has done more work this offseason than the Patriots? Honestly, put your money on the Pats this season because if half of their moves are mistakes they're still in business.

If you wanted massive talents, you got them Green Bay. Ted Thompson and the Packers gave the cheesehead faithful a everything they wanted and some. Adding stud defensive tackle B.J. Raji early in the first round and being able to trade back in late to add Clay Matthews gives the Packers two playmakers on a defense that they missed in 2008. Two of the top defenses in the country last college football season were that of Southern California and yes, Boston College. Those two defenses were littered with top echelon talent so it'll be a challenge for Raji and Matthews without those guys around them but they still are being added to a defense with talent. Linebackers A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett must be excited about the possibility of Raji being able to free them to roam and make big tackles. Dom Campers has got to be the happiest man in Wisconsin today, the Packers came into this draft looking to do two things on defense: (1) Find a defensive tackle who can stuff the middle of the running lanes, mission accomplished. (2) Acquire an outside linebacker who can help out in coverage and also rush the passer, mission accomplished. While their secondary seems to be aging as well the Packers have gone out and addressed their getting to the quarterback issue, 2009 should be a good year for Cheesehead Nation.

In Sanchez, you trust. They'll be no learning behind a veteran, they'll be no waiting in obscurity, they'll be no trying to lead an 0-16 team back from the dead, not for Mark Sanchez anyway. The New York Jets put their eggs happily in one basket on Draft Day. A year after courting Brett Favre's retirement tour, the Jets traded their former head coach Eric Mangini, their 1st and 2nd round picks, as well as three other former players of Eric Mangini's, in exchange for the 5th pick which they used on USC's signal caller, Mark Sanchez. I'm not as high on Sanchez as other people, I'm not as low on Stafford as other people, but I guess the Jets are going for something here. I'm not sure what they are, but they're going for something. Here's the thing with the Jets, the Bills, Patriots, and Dolphins are all getting better, but only one of them has an actual quarterback. If Sanchez can do anything, the Jets may be in business, I don't know if this is too much to give up, I think it is, but I just don't know. For Sanchez, he won't get the luxury of sitting behind a Matt Hasselbeck or even a David Gsrrard, he won't have the luxury of playing in places like Seattle and Jacksonville, clearly different from playing in the Big Apple. I'm down with him being able to handle the pressure, that's no problem for these Southern Cal. kids, but he's got to come in and play from day one. GOOD LUCK!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Final 2009 NFL Mock Draft

Leading off: Tonight we're mocking up the 2009 NFL Draft on The Right Now Podcast, available on iTunes Friday morning.

However, if your more the reading type and your girlfriend has you watching 30 Rock or a rerun of The Hills tonight, may I present to you:

The Final LynchyRightNow.Com 2009 NFL Mock Draft

Now to the unproven . . . .

1. Detroit Lions select Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia Love me some Mark Sanchez, but when Stafford has already began contract negotiations four days prior to the draft, it is safe to say he's in. Before we all, including myself, continue to fawn over the prospect that is a quarterback from Southern California let me remind you that Matthew Stafford isn't a schlep. In the Capital One Bowl back on New Year's Day, Stafford threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-12 victory over a gritty Big 10 Michigan State team. The Capital One Bowl caps off a three year career at Athens, where he was 3-0 in bowl games and won 30 games in his Bulldog career. Big arm, big talent, and has been on the Lions draft board at #1 since day 1. (psssst, your not drafting Jason Smith here)

2. St. Louis Rams select Jason Smith, OT Baylor If your planning on focusing the offense around your former pro bowl running back, Steven Jackson, then you must replace Orlando Pace. I watched another former Virginia Cavalier, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, play for the Jets over the past several years, and I'm not about to select another Cavalier offensive tackle this high in the draft. Spagnuolo knows that, and with this pick he selects Jason Smith, the highly touted Baylor offensive tackle. Jason Smith is ready to jump to the pro's and make an immediate impact, look this guy won't need a ton of time to adjust, that's got to be what entices the Rams. We'll replace Marc Bulger and eventually find a franchise quarterback, but not this year.

3. Kansas City Chiefs select Tyson Jackson, DE Louisiana State Heads are spinning and general managers have phones ringing off the hook. Expect that when the Chiefs pass on Aaron Curry, the inside linebacker that would seemingly fit perfect in their new 3-4 defense. To select Tyson Jackson is to realize that adding veteran linebackers Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas create something similar to what Pioli had created in New England. Turn back the clock, what was Pioli's first move to improve the Patriot defense? Draft stud defensive end Richard Seymour, whose turned in a fantastic career anchoring that Patriot defensive line. So here is another stud SEC defensive end, which instantly gives Kansas City a good pass rusher. As great as Aaron Curry is projected to be, and he is as advertised, don't expect Pioli to select him just because he seems like the obvious choice. Tyson Jackson at #3 would be a stunner here, but he's 6'4" and close to 300 lbs. and seems to be coveted by the Chiefs.

4. Seattle Seahawks select Aaron Curry, LB Wake Forest If he's available, this certainly makes the selection a whole lot easier for Seattle. Crabtree has a few questions surrounding him and his injured foot, it has to scare Seattle and Curry does fill a huge need with Julian Peterson now gone. Yes, I could see the Seahawks drafting Mark Sanchez and I think they'd really like to. However, Aaron Curry does anchor a defense that was playoff ready just over a year ago and with Hasselbeck in the fold again the Seahawks could be a year or more away from drafting a quarterback to replace him. Let's make no bones about it though, Aaron Curry is extremely talented and the Seahawks would be giddy to see the Cheifs pass on him or trade the pick for a team hungry to draft Mark Sanchez. The Seahawks have been awfully tight to the vest with their hand and when you could draft multiple ways that is what you have to do.

5. Cleveland Browns select Brian Orakpo, DE Texas Michael Crabtree still on the board and Cleveland passes? Donte Stallworth headed for prison. Kellen Winslow traded to Tampa Bay. Rumours swirling around the future of Braylon Edwards possibly being traded to the Giants. All those questions and YES I still think Mangini is passing on Michael Crabtree. The Browns will address their receiver needs with whatever they get in exchange for Edwards, most likely a late first round draft pick. Orakpo however does fill a need for the Browns. As I said in early March they were ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed per game and tied for 30th in the league for sacks at only 17. Draft Orakpo, he's a 6'3", 260 lb. end, I think that would improve on the pass rush and hopefully improve on that sack total.

6. Cincinnati Bengals select Eugene Monroe, OT Virginia Let Carson Palmer and Marvin Lewis cross their fingers, hoping that Eugene Monroe can lock in and anchor their offensive line. You want to eek out those last few years in Carson Palmer's frail legs then you've got to put someone young and athletic enough in place to protect him. Hopefully Eugene Monroe is that guy. Levi Jones is most likely the odd man out and Monroe will be forced to improve his good but not great foot work. I'm aware that Michael Crabtree still remains available, a part of me thinks this solves their Ocho Cinco problem, also gives Palmer a more stable target, however if he can't get a pass off then it doesn't matter who is catching the ball. Eugene Monroe is the second offensive lineman off the big board to the Bengals.

7. Oakland Raiders select Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech I don't even really know how sold I am on this selection. I don't want to believe that Michael Crabtree, the most talented player in this draft, drops out of the top five because of a foot injury which won't impact his play in his rookie season. However, if your investing millions of dollars I understand why teams are nervous about taking that risk. Al Davis was all set draft the Georgia Tech defensive end, Michael Johnson, and then Crabtree took a tumble out of the top five. This pick can work out great for the Raiders, especially if they utilize all of his talents. Mike Crabtree is a playmaker, this could be the type of playmaker that gives Oakland fans something to cheer about. But wait just one second, doesn't this team need defense? Doesn't this team need to find a run stuffer? Here's the thing they should be drafting B.J. Raji, not Michael Crabtree, not Michael Johnson, they need to draft a player whose going to shut down the middle. But this is Al, and he doesn't draft for need he drafts for excitement.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars select Mark Sanchez, QB Southern California Keep him, don't you dare trade him to the Jets or Redskins. Don't start offering your selection for the highest bidder because your afraid you don't know what your going to do with him. Sanchez is an exciting player, David Garrard is not a franchise quarterback at this point, and he isn't getting any younger. You shelf Sanchez for the season and let him back up Garrard, when he gets his shot he'll be ready to play and with less pressure than it would be to come in as a starter from jump. However, if Jack Del Rio is coaching to keep his job this season than he may want to get the most he can in an effort to make more than one or two improvements. If that's the case then I take as much as I can get from Washington, Daniel Snyder is the perfect guy to give you a king's ransom. Keep in mind Jaguar fans, there is a reason people are excited about Mark Sanchez, he is a performer of the fans in seats variety.

9. Green Bay Packers select B.J. Raji, DT Boston College I don't see how this can be anybody else, especially given that the Packers need Raji's size to be the centerpiece of their 3-4 defense. Now that Raji's name has been cleared by Sports Illustrated for leaking a failed drug test which never actually happened, downside? You find one, I can't. Ted Thompson knows that a guy with Raji's size (6'1", 340 lbs.) really demands attention from blockers leaving A.J. Hawk available to make big plays from the linebacker spot. Not only is Raji an earth mover, in 2008 he had 11 tackles for a loss, something the Packers have desperately needed as of late.

10. San Francisco 49ers select Michael Oher, OT Ole' Miss Michael Oher is the best offensive lineman available, with questions surrounding the 49ers quarterback spot and Frank Gore being injury prone, its best to select an offensive lineman you like. For the people who have anyone from Aaron Maybin, Everette Brown, and even Brian Orakpo going here, yes the 49ers do need those type of players for their defensive scheme but I just don't think that you can miss with Michael Oher. Oher is a young athletic offensive lineman, he's been all over the top ten draft board and the 49ers and Singletary would like to not reach in the first round for top draft picks. As long as Oher is availble I believe the 49ers will go offensive line here.

. . . . .

What?!?! You thought I was giving you 1 through 32 now? If your looking to find out who we're mocking up, all 32 first round picks and much more will be available by listening to The Right Now Podcast, the official podcast of LynchyRightNow.Com on Friday morning. As always you can download the final 2009 NFL Mock Draft episode and many more on iTunes, just search for The Right Now Podcast. Stay tuned for Keep It Real Friday tommorow morning, and remember to stay between the lines.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Join Us, C'mon It's Fun

No, it isn't just another East Coast Bias, we're just having that much fun. C'mon, did your city host a marathon, pepper the Orioles, and win two postseason games yesterday? Didn't think so.

Welcome to The Epicenter . . .

The Boston Celtics aren't dead yet, bank on it. The Bulls are young, they're fun, but do you really think they have enough to upend the defending champs, who are down only 1 future hall of famer? It took Derrick Rose having a career game, shooting 12 of 19 from the floor and putting 36 points on the board for the Bulls to win game 1, and the C's still were only a missed free-throw away from beating them. And yes, Ray Allen had to drill a three-pointer in the closing seconds of game 2 for the Celtics to avoid being down 2-0 going on the road. However, it also took a Ben Gordon career game for the Bulls to even be in this one. I'm going to say it, Ben Gordon won't have another 40+ point game where he shoots .583 from the floor and turns the Celtics defense into swiss cheese, not happening. These are the defending champs, they still have Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, they still have one of the top five point guards in the league running the show, slow down on writing them off just yet. As for that top five point guard, otherwise known as Rajon Rondo, he's quietly having a helluva series. In 84 minutes, the Celtic point guard has scored 48 points, dropped 23 assists and pulled down 21 rebounds. Derrick Rose may have more explosive games from time to time but I'll take Rajon's quiet triple-double any night.

North of the border they go, to put their foot on your throat. The Black & Gold aren't waiting to shut down the Canadians back home in Boston, they're taking care of business in Montreal. The Bell Centre was rockin', the Canadians are in a must win game down 2-0, and the Bruins are playing without suspended bruiser, Milan Lucic, it couldn't be more set for the Canadians to get a game back. The Bruins have been here before, you don't let your rival off the mat when you knock him down. This time, stud goalie Tim Thomas, had something to say about that. Thomas shut down Montreal in the final period as the Bruins skated toward a 4-2 victory. Now I don't claim to know much about hockey, but the Bruins seem to be playing way more relaxed and disciplined right now. Early goals, penalties, and even fights don't seem to rattle these Bruins. No matter the sport, if you play like your a champion, you'll be a champion. Warm up the buses kiddies, the Bruins are headed to the second round after they dispatch the Canadians in four.

Depth, that's what this is about. When I previewed the 2009 baseball season on The Right Now Podcast, I told you it was about depth, and that is what the Boston Red Sox are made of. Matsuzaka on the shelf with a tired arm, Justin Masterson steps into fold and delivers five innings of four hit baseball. David Ortiz looking like he's turned 60 this past year, Dustin Pedroia goes 4 for 6 on Patriot's Day. Jed Lowrie on the mend, Nick Green steps in with a game-winning run on Sunday. John Smoltz has yet to suit up for the Red Sox, they've got a minor leaguer named Daniel Bard whose only thrown 8 innings and struck out 13 in Triple A ball. The Red Sox are deep and that's what will keep this team in it throughout the 162 game season, you can bet on that my friends. While Chien-Ming Wang is giving three touchdowns in New York, the Red Sox are wondering which ace in the whole they'll play next. See you in October.

Did the world really think we'd go another year without a championship parade? I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a early summer parade carrying that silver cup through the streets of Boston. The Epicenter is alive and well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Keep It Real Friday, Period

We've got an exciting Keep It Real this week . . we're talking the epicenter of sports, Beantown. We're talking Lord Stanley's Cup and why you should be following this. Greg Paulus wearing Maize and Blue, and of course Why the Celtics aren't and weren't winning a title in 2009.

LET'S GET AFTER IT!

It really doesn't end for Boston, does it? The Red Sox are getting roughed up in the early going (3-6) through nine. The Celtics coudln't have had a worse day. On Thursday we discover Kevin Garnett may be done for the postseason and GM Danny Ainge is laid up in the hospital. However, the Boston University Terriers are the current NCAA men's hockey national champions. As for their inter-town professional franchise, well the Bruins are the top seeded team in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Multiple super bowls, a pair of world series', a couple of college hockey national champions, oh and that banner known as '17. What more can one fan base win? A Stanley Cup, that's what. I fear for my fellow New England sports fans. After the Bruins hoist a cup our deal with the devil will be complete, he's held up his part of the bargain and our soul's are his for eternity. We won everything we dreamt of since 2000, we've hosted our share of championship parades, we've been the underdog and the favorite. Lucifer, you can have my soul, as long as you give me Lord Stanley's Cup.

While we're talking beantown, the Celtics weren't winning it again, even if KG was healthier. I know that is sacrilege in Boston but we need to step out of dream world here. Respect that Lebron has become Lebron 3.0 in 2009, respect that the Lakers are deeper this season, and respect that we still haven't replaced the likes of P.J. Brown and James Posey. That 31-point smackdown was an aberration of things to come if the Celtics reach the Cavaliers in the postseason. Yes, Lebron James is that good, and the Celtics don't have an answer for that, not this year. Mikki Moore and his 4 points and 4 boards a game aren't cutting it to replace P.J. Brown, sorry. Now I don't think you should take offense to me banging on the way the Celtics have played, all due respect 15-7 over the last two months isn't HORRIBLE, but it just won't do. The Cavaliers been 40-1 at home this season, read that sentence again, THEY ARE 40-1 at home. But you thought that Boston was going to take two games in a seven game series in Cleveland? Not this season folks, no way. Cleveland and Lebron is a better team than the one that took the C's to game 7 last postseason, I'm thankful they won it and I'd trade away Al Jefferson again if I had to for one banner, but that's all we're getting. KEEP IT REAL!

Get on the Hockey train folks, this is the time to do it. For all of you guys out there drinking yourself a tall glass of Hockey Haterade, you don't know what your missing. Yes, the regular season, just like in basketball, is entirely too long. This is the time of the year to latch onto a little puck, playoff hockey doesn't compare to the regular season. FACT: How many sports still have opponents who hate each other? Bruins and Canadiens, hate each other just as much as their fans hate each other. FACT: Scoring in the postseason is tough, only the good survive and usually they are amazing goals. For example, Chara's rocket into the net last night. You want great goals, you got 'em. FACT: No wild card weekends, no push over wins. Ask the Capitals about push over first round games. A 4-3 loss to the Rangers woke up a few in Washington. I know you still think it's just a foreign game and you'd rather watch The Biggest Loser, but your wrong. Put on some god damn puck and you'll see, and would you please stop saying hockey sucks, cause it doesn't. Take it from a guy who said the same thing only a year ago. KEEP IT REAL!

Lastly, C'mon Michigan, Greg Paulus, really? The 4-year Duke point guard is leaving Duke upon graduation. He isn't getting into pro basketball, a week after trying out for the Green Bay Packers, yep that's football, he's now going to get a shot to compete as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, playing football. If he can do this, it's a fun story. Got his starting job pulled away from him at Duke during his senior season, he WAS a top flight high school football recruit just four years ago, recruited by big schools and went another direction. Maybe choosing basketball wasn't the right choice for him, but playing quarterback for the maize and blue, this is a mistake for Michigan. You are building a SERIOUS program, and the first thing you do isn't get a former high school quarterback turned back up point guard to take your snaps in spring ball. I'd love to follow Paulus playing quarterback, that's fantastic, but not at Michigan of all places. There has to be another program, any program that wants to take the flyer, but please not Michigan. They are supposed to be a top flight program, they are supposed to compete against Ohio State, this is not the way to do it. Rich Rod, pass on this one, please. Good Luck Greg, but please not Michigan. KEEP IT REAL!

Another exciting edition of Keep It Real in the books . . The Right Now Podcast is available as RIGHTNOWPODCAST on twitter.com and check us out on iTunes search The Right Now Podcast, and also always availble for feedback at nslynch@gmail.com and rightnowpodcast@gmail.com Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It Doesn't Matter; Not A Story

I get it, the NBA & NHL playoffs are looming, your not in baseball mode just yet, and the NFL draft is still two weeks away. However, it doesn't mean you just start drumming up stories we could care less about:

Oscar De La Hoya retiring, not a story. He isn't what Michael Jordan was to basketball, he wasn't what Curt Schilling was to curse breaking, and pardon me, but his biggest hit was on a reality show. This is more of ESPN trying to force another sport we don't care about down our throat. NEWSFLASH: No one watches bowling on Sunday afternoons, we don't care about trick shots in pool, and we sure as hell aren't watching Friday Night Fights. Boxing is a mess, more people are watching comparable sports like MMA and Ultimate Fighting. Boxers, De La Hoya included, predominantly destroy their top dog legacy by staying in too long for several more pay days. He gets tooled on by Manny Pacquiao earlier this year, lost to the likes of Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, and Floyd Mayweather over the last several years. No disrespect, he's a highly decorated boxer and I get that, but do the masses give a damn about an over the hill boxer retiring? Will De La Hoya be followed around like Brett Favre was last year? Will we rush out and by tickets to Wizards v. Celtics when Jordan reappears in The Garden? Come on, before we make this the lead, how many people are staying to watch it? I'm saying it, the only reason this is a big story is because ESPN just set up shop in Los Angeles, De La Hoya has his own statue outside Staples Center, which is in Los Angeles, and it fits for The World Wide Leader. If not for that, this is not a story.

Isiah Thomas has a job, not a story. Sure, in the worst economic times since the early 80's with the unemployment rate close to double digits, of course Isiah Thomas would get hired. Has a hand in sinking the CBA, torpedoed the New York Knicks which included a multi-million dollar sexual harassment law suit, of course the university of Florida International chooses him as their new men's basketball head coach, brilliant. What's the story here? Shock and awe? This is the United States, we put "W" at the head of the table for eight years, and you thought Isiah would be collecting long? However, this time I'm actually concerned, I could care less about what Donnie Walsh and Steph Marbury think about Isiah being employed, that's irrelevant. I'm concerned because now he's in charge of young minds, and if he tanks college hoops, then what the hell am I going to do in the month of March? I've got an idea what we can do with this story . . . BURY IT! I'm sure everyone who just lost their job in the last couple months is jacked up to hear Isiah is back in the workforce. Like I said, BURY IT!!!!!

The 2009 NFL Schedule is out, not a story. One would think that after watching the Steelers bludgeon through the NFL in 2008 on their way to a Super Bowl Championship, we'd be over this scheduling day thing. Pittsburgh had the toughest schedule in '08, and it didn't matter. The Lions were terrible, didn't matter who they played. The Cowboys, Patriots, and Giants get on national television, that's who the masses watch. Furthermore, there is a reason we watch the Padres play at CitiField, not because their good but because the Mets were opening their new home. Why is this relevant? Because no kidding the Cowboys will show their multi-million dollar facility to the world, not a surprise! Everything else having to do with the schedule, is a bit over hyped. Biggest NFL offseason story, Jay Cutler and the Broncos, yet somehow schedulers can't make a swap and send Cutler back to Denver to play against his old team? Now that is a story we could talk about. Who cares if we wait two weeks till after the NFL draft to select this schedule, make things even more interesting. You wouldn't make a cookie and forget the flour, and you sure as hell wouldn't forget to add the chocolate chips. Scheduling before the draft (that's the flour) not watching Bears @ Broncos, that would be the chocolate chips. Ugh, keep this story where it belongs, on the back pages.

Wait, I guess that I just finished writing about a bunch of stories I didn't want to read about. Errrrrrr, until next time folks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tradition Like No Other

I'm not a golf guy, nor do I pretend to be. I don't hack it up on the weekends, I don't follow the Buick Open, and I sure as hell have never watched a tournament before the cut has been made. To put it simply, I watch major tournaments, strictly on Sundays, only if Tiger is involved. So with that said, on an Easter Sunday, Tiger having an outside shot, it being the final round of The Masters, I'm in front of the television. Let me tell you, from the moment Tiger and Phil tee'd off, seven strokes off the lead, the '09 Masters put on a show like few sports can:

Your superstars packed their lunch box and came to play. Speaking of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the pairing put the clamps on the field Sunday afternoon. Both players had better scores on Day 4 than any of the final three remaining in the playoff for the famed green jacket. Phil pops off a score of 30 on the front nine at Augusta, improving his overall score from -4 under at the start of the day to -10 under. He birdie's six of the first nine holes and inches closer and closer to the lead. Tiger Woods, while his putting left something to be desired, had to double-bogey his way out of the tournament on holes 17 & 18. Before that, Tiger was Tiger. Two birdies and an eagle leading up to the final holes put Woods in play and pressure on the leader board. The roars of the crowd followed Phil and Tiger all day long while the pairings behind them were attempting to hold onto their lead heading into Day 4. The most glaring statistic was that at one point in the final day, Tiger and Phil were well under par and the field was sitting at +6. Even though Tiger and Phil finished outside of the top three, the fact that they made it as exciting as they did, shows you how good they are. Yea, they stole today from the leaders, and while missing huge shots in the final holes, both Lefty and Tiger put on a show for the fans at Augusta, and the many watching at home.

A Master's rookie, shouldn't go unnoticed. While we were busy following the game's best around the fairways and greens, an American in his first time at Augusta, tore up the course shooting a day's best 66. That would be one John Merrick. Merrick had three birdies on the front nine and through holes 13, 14, 15, and 16, Merrick birdied four consecutive holes. John Merrick finished the tournament tied for sixth, with the likes of Tiger Woods, Steve Flesch, and Steve Stricker, who have a combined 26 years of Master's experience. No other first year player in the '09 Master's, finished better than twentieth. After back to back days of 70+ scores, and sitting nine off the lead, Merrick made the biggest charge on Sunday and we can take this as his assertion in Augusta. I don't know much about golf, but in the past year Merrick has finished sixth at Augusta and also finished sixth at Torrey Pines in the '08 U.S. Open, I'd say this guy is going to make the jump very soon.

Tee off shot lands in the woods, and you get a green jacket. The winner, Angel Cabrera, puts his ball right in the woods off the tee in the first hole playoff. Tiger did this an hour or more earlier, and bogied the hole playing his way out of the tournament. Not Angel, oh no. Cabrera drills the ball into the woods, pounds his second shot off a tree and puts the ball in perfect position to get it up on the green. Destiny. When Cabrera won this tournament the first thing which comes to mind is that shot, he puts it straight off a tree, you think he's gone, and then before you know it he's pulling on a green jacket. Cabrera spends the first three days of this tournament under 70, and on the final day he does everything but throw the tournament in the trash. Cabrera has to birdie three of the last four holes and needs his pairing mate to bogey the final two holes to even get a shot in a playoff. Anyone who says that Angel Cabrera wasn't meant to win this tournament, is flat out crazy. A rough and tumble final day, balls into the woods, three bogey's in the first ten holes, and Angel Cabrera still wins the 2009 Master's Tournament.

NO golf tournament is complete without a collapse. Thank you, Kenny Perry. Before I get into his collapse on 17 & 18, when the jacket was all but on him, both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson bogied 18, and Tiger even bogied 17. Kenny Perry winning would have been exciting, oldest to ever win a jacket, Tiger and Phil having failed on the final holes, it was his to win. Then he lost it. By the time the playoff rolled around, and Perry had just lost the tournament by putting up bogies on the final two holes, he was spent. Every shot in the final two playoff holes looked forced and tiring. Perry managed to play it safe all morning and keep the lead, 11-straight pars. His pairing mate, Cabrera, and other opponent in the playoff, Chad Campbell, had already bogied five holes combined before Perry even birdied a hole. Tiger and Phil missing crucial putts, what else could have gone right for the 48-year old Perry. Then, he collapses, and bad. Shoots his only bogies of the day on his final holes and that's all she wrote. He struggled in the playoff and it was only a matter of time before Cabrera made a great shot. I'd be pretty bummed if I was Perry, because he couldn't have had it better.

That is probably the only column your going to get from me about golf, but after watching the final day of play at Augusta, I couldn't avoid it. Thank you for reading as always.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Keep It Good Friday

We're going to try and keep it clean on this our first edition of Keep It Real Friday, on Good Friday. Due to that, we're changing things up for a week. For our audience who has a hard time reading, The Right Now Podcast has begun and Episode 2A and Episode 2B can be heard by clicking directly on the link or at the official home The Right Now Podcast.

Your favorite blogger/columnist/over opinionated jerk will be back next week with Keep It Real Friday in it's usual format. Thanks for listening. Feedback is always welcome at rightnowpodcast@gmail.com

Thursday, April 9, 2009

You Asked, I Answered.

I've decided to entertain the readers by answering some Mock Draft questions they've been writing in. If I didn't get to your question, it's because I started hitting delete way before your e-mail was read. As always, my apologies.

TO THE QUESTIONS:

With rumours surrounding top NFL defensive tackle prospect B.J. Raji and a possible failed drug test, how fast does his stock fall?

In short? It doesn't fall. Raji's hype is for real, he's the hands down, #1 defensive tackle prospect in this year's draft class. No other defensive tackle's name has even been uttered near Raji's. The teams that are rumored to take the Boston College defensive tackle wouldn't pass on him even if these rumours were true: Oakland - Al Davis wouldn't care, in fact he'd probably encourage behavior outside the lines, Green Bay - Finished 26th in the league against the run, not in the position to argue how a guy gets it done, San Francisco - Mike Singletary is capable of helping any of his players with character issues, if B.J. needs to be pointed in the right direction, the 49ers can do that. Raji should still go in the top ten and I'd be surprised if he slips past any of these three teams.

Why is Mark Sanchez a better NFL prospect, but the top pick overall will be Matthew Stafford of Georgia?

Greg Oden was drafted ahead of Kevin Durant. Even though it's the NBA, the premise stays the same. Despite fantastic workouts and a great Pro Day at Southern California, Mark Sanchez won't be drafted in the top slot because of what Matthew Stafford can be, not what he is. Sanchez is probably more mature, a little more athletic, but he's got some red flags. For starters, he didn't get the full endorsement of his college coach, Pete Carroll, till a few weeks after the process began. That's important to these NFL teams looking to draft Sanchez, they realize he's an underclassman whose only started 16 games on a team which is more physically imposing than 99.9% of college football programs. As good as Matt Leinart was, you have to look at what the sum of the parts did for him, and I think teams especially the Lions recognize that. Matt Stafford on the other hand, is a young kid whose started from day 1 in Athens. 34 games in three years at Georgia, he's a big passer who can take a lick, major arm, and that's all you need. The Lions have to draft the quarterback with the best potential, and that's probably Matthew Stafford. (Or at least I'm convincing myself it is)

Would the New England Patriots actually select a non-linebacker in Round 1 at pick #23?

They could, but I doubt it. Here's the thing with the Patriots, they are innovative that can't be disputed, but they do have serious holes to fill, especially at linebacker. Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Aaron Maybin, and of course Aaron Curry, make this a deep draft of linebackers and if one of those top prospects is available, the Patriots would be hard pressed to pass them up. However, if the Patriots do decide to go in another direction with the 23rd pick, it'll be to add depth. One position the Patriots could add depth to, running back. Both top backs in this draft, Knowshown Moreno and Chris Wells, should be off the board by twenty-three. The next back on the big board should be Connecticut's Donald Brown. During his junior season in Storrs, Donald Brown rushed for 2,083 yards including ten 100+ yard rushing games. Pick twenty-three may be a bit early for the Brown but if he fits what the Patriots want, they should get him because he may not be there at pick #34. Let's face it, Fred Taylor is 33 years old, Kevin Faulk is 32, and Laurence Maroney has missed 18 games over the last three seasons, the Patriots need a solution in the backfield. Donald Brown fits, he's quick, tough, and can make big plays. This type of move is exactly what the Patriots do, so I can see it.

Any read on a guy in the second or third round who draft experts are sleeping on?

Yes, but I don't know if the experts are 'sleeping' on him. Buckeye wide receiver, Brian Robiskie. In a year when there are receivers a plenty, Crabtree, Nicks, Heyward-Bey, Britt, and Percy Harvin, Brian Robiskie is sliding somewhat under the radar. At 6-3, Robiskie is a big target. Like another former Buckeye, Anthony Gonzalez, Robiskie can become an exceptional offensive weapon in the right offense. His father is a former NFL player and it has given the younger Robiskie a great knowledge of the game and the ability to transition to the NFL quicker. After top wide out prospect, Michael Crabtree, all the other receivers have question marks surrounding them. Where does Percy Harvin fit? Is Rutgers' Kenny Britt worth first round dollars? Both Nicks & Heyward-Bey aren't entirely reliable and have had issues as far as consistency. Brian Robiskie is very NFL ready and he may be a guy you could steal in the second round that would come out and really produce from his first snap on the football field.

Among your top selections in your March 19th Mock Draft, who is most likely to be a bust? A.K.A. Vernon Gholstonesque?

If I had to pick a bust, absolutely had to, it'd be the Florida State defensive end, Everette Brown. Mainly because he's extremely undersized at his position. He's been measured as small as 6'1" which is a huge difference from the 6'4" he was measured at while in Tallahassee. At Florida State Brown did have some big games, three sacks against the likes of Virginia Tech and Clemson. However, he did have games where he seemed non-existent; No sacks against Boston College, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Miami. It seems as though he is over matched at times or all together just disappears. Brown isn't a bad play and he may very well turn out to be something similiar to the Colts Dwight Freeney, close in height and equally fast off the edge. If I had to pick a bust, it'd be Brown because of his size.

Thank you for all the input, and stay tuned for more NFL draft specials leading up to April the 25th. . . .

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Changing Gears: To C.C.

I'm going to put a bow on the tournament, then change gears. Ty Lawson had seven steals in the first half, Michigan State turned the ball over 14 more times than North Carolina, the Tar Heels set a record for most points (55) in the first half of a National Championship game. You figure out what happened. Nuff Said.

Now, we're changing gears. Call it a knee jerk reaction, say it's only the first game of the season, but I mean it when I say it: C.C. Sabathia is not the savior in Yankeeland. The Baltimore Orioles chased Sabathia in the fourth inning. He finished the day giving up six earned runs, walking five batters, and allowing eight hits, ouch. This is the guy gracing the current issue of Sports Illustrated standing in Yankee Stadium with the the headline: Why C.C. Sabathia is going to be huge in New York. Newsflash, Sabathia is huge anywhere, he's about two and half bills. Maybe he's a slow starter, and maybe he'll end the season holding a Cy Young, but I doubt it.

Welcome back to the American League. Even the bad teams, like the Orioles, can tear the cover off the ball. Baltimore had five guys who hit 20+ home runs in 2008, they may not be able to pitch, but they can hit you C.C., your aware of that now. Before Sabathia left for the National League last season, he was 6-8 with a ERA just under 4.00 for the Cleveland Indians. Prior to his breakout 19-7 season in 2007, Sabathia had just one season in the American League where his ERA dropped below 4.00, in his seventeen starts in the National League, he threw 1.65, see what I'm getting at? Now he's playing in the American League East, Tampa, Baltimore, Toronto, and of course Boston, are littered with players who can hit the ball hard. Vernon Wells, Evan Longoria, Adam Jones, and Kevin Youkilis, just to name a few. C.C., you aren't in Milwaukee and Cleveland, your not eating up the Royals and Reds anymore and it's about time the Yankees realize that.

Really?!? This is your "big-game" starter? He pitches amazing in the regular season, I'll give him that. But as far as big games, like his first start in a Yankee uniform on opening day, he's not so great. Can't make it out of the 5th on opening day. Gives up five earned runs in 3 and 2/3rds innings against Philadelphia in the first round of the 2008 postseason. In two 2007 October starts against his new divisional rival, the Boston Red Sox, Sabathia gave up 12 earned runs in only 10 innings pitched. I think you've go to be pretty scared if your a Yankees fan after hearing that. This is the guy who gets the ball in tough spots? This is the guy in line to stop your losing streaks and recapture Yankee domination? Give me a break, in Boston they got a guy named Beckett, he's got a couple of rings on his fingers that read two words. WORLD CHAMP.

I know we all want to say the Yanks are the odds on favorite, and it's true they have a load of talent, but C.C. had to be convinced into New York, and he already struggles on the big stage: BE WORRIED.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Keep It Real . . .Monday?

Yes, Keep It Real Monday. Due to technical issues and the recording of The Right Now Podcast Episode 1, Keep It Real is coming to you Monday morning. We're fully loaded, let's get after it.

Leading off, Jay Cutler to Chicago. in the last week the Chicago Bears have added over the hill future hall of famer, Orlando Pace, and of course Pro Bowl quarterback, Jay Cutler. The former Broncos signal caller cost the Bears their 18th selection, among other top draft picks this season and next, and of course, quarterback Kyle Orton. New head coach, Josh McDaniels got what he wanted, and much more. With two picks in the top twenty, McDaniels and the Broncos are in the mix for USC quarterback, Mark Sanchez. The risk-taking quarterback type wasn't for Josh McDaniels, and now that quarterback is in Chicago, exactly where they wanted him, far away. Lastly, McDaniels managed to pull off a Belichickian move, trading something he didn't want in the first place for way more than he should have got. The 32-year old head coach watches the quarterback he coveted, Matt Cassel, get dealt between his former bosses. Rather than going back, hat in hand, to Jay Cutler, he deals the him in exchange for a king's ransom. Josh McDaniels is no Romeo Crennel or Eric Mangini, he's a smarter and younger version of them. He's more like Bill Belichick than we thought. AFC West, beware. Keep It Real.

Tom Izzo, the best coach in college basketball, KEEP IT REAL. Since 1999, Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans have gone to the Final Four five times. Izzo rarely puts a squad on the hardwood that has multiple NBA players on it, he doesn't recruit just five star recruits, and his teams can play you at your way and his way. After knocking off Louisville in the Elite Eight, Izzo and the Spartans returned to Michigan to upset Connecticut and punch their ticket to the National Championship game. Does anyone need further validation that Tom Izzo can out coach just about any of the major coaches we normally put in the "Top Coach" conversation. From Rick Pitino to Jim Calhoun and anyone else we can come up with, Izzo can out coach them. Connecticut had more talent on that court Saturday night, it's a fact. Jim Calhoun is coaching more than four players who will most likely make some kind of impact in the NBA in the future. You can't say that same thing about Michigan State, but you can see how well coached they are. Michigan State will not get toyed with like both Oklahoma and Villanova just did, a Tom Izzo coached team comes to play and on the games biggest stage, you can bank on that. Michigan State can win the National Championship, KEEP IT REAL!

Since I last ripped Arizona for offering their top dog position to Tim Floyd, they've made things right. After Floyd spurned Arizona and opted to stay in Southern California, they've sinced talked to LynchyRightNow.com's top choice: Xavier head coach, Sean Miller. If this program wants to get back to where they were during the days of Lute Olson, a constant Pac-10 threat and a team who makes deep runs into the tournament, they need to make an impact with this coach. As good as an opportunity as Arizona is, Sean Miller has a good thing going in Xavier and they'll have to throw top dollar at him to get him to leave. He's got a team that go far into the tournament next year, dominate the Atlantic-10 and with Jaime Dixon having as much success in Pittsburgh, Miller's dream job at Pittsburgh, his alma matta, could open up. If all things go well in the coming days, Sean Miller could make the jump to the West Coast and Arizona would be sitting with one of the top young coaches in the game who wants to be in 'Zona. KEEP IT REAL, this is your guy 'Zona fans.

Really Sports Illustrated? Your going to pick the New York Mets to win the World Series? Let's be honest, this team needs to win the National League East and make the playoffs before we pick them to win the fall classic. For a team that needed major help in their bullpen after their last two seasons ending in September collapses, their banking on both J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez to avoid injury, otherwise all bets are off right? Their moving into a new stadium, with new quirks, and they are probably going to have to get used to their new digs before we go ahead and anoint them as National League champs. The Cubs, Dodgers, Marlins, and Phillies have all made improvements in the off season, equal if not better than the Mets have. It's time that SI stop picking the Cubs to break their losing streak, and it certainly isn't time to start picking the New York Mets. Get into the postseason before your picked to win the Fall Classic. KEEP IT REAL!

. . . Stay tuned for more columns and the newly founded Right Now Podcast. KEEP IT REAL!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Because Your The Pac-10

Let me propose a scenario for the readers: Your a once proud national college hoops powerhouse that is currently in decline. You managed to make it to the Sweet 16 in 2009, but it's clear you need stability within your program. Interim head coach, Russ Pennell, apparently just isn't your guy. (I'm okay with that, this is your program Mr. Athletic Director you've earned that right) After getting embarrassed by Rick Pitino and Louisville in the round of sixteen, you make it known your officially looking to fill your head coaching vacancy.

Your the University of Arizona Wildcats. A plethora of coaches are on the move this off season, rumours surrounding everyone from Rick Pitino to Tom Izzo, and where do the Wildcats arrive at? A 55-year old former NBA coach turned Trojan head coach, Tim Floyd. Really? Tim Floyd is 85-50 in four years at Southern California, good not great. He's been to three straight NCAA Tournaments, one Sweet 16 appearance, good not great. His monster recruiting success was current NBA star, O.J. Mayo. The same O.J. Mayo who was under investigation from the NCAA for receiving both money and other perks from an agent runner, that somehow Tim Floyd knew "nothing" about. This is what Arizona could come up with? Your search didn't get outside of your own conference? The Pac-10, with a less than average performance in the tourney this year, is the conference that you found your coach in? Tim Floyd, not exactly a squeaky clean image. How did that work out when Indiana hired Kelvin Sampson? Some success, but not exactly a squeaky clean image? You hired a coach who has an above average talent pool to choose from at Southern California and barely reaches the Sweet 16?

I'm going to demonstrate how easy hiring a good quality coach for Arizona should have been:

Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon - You don't think a job like Arizona could have lured Dixon away from Pittsburgh? He's got to recruit against Rick Pitino and Jim Calhoun among other Big East coaches. His regular season schedule in that conference is a virtual gauntlet of powerhouses. Dixon led his '09 tournament team to a #1 seed and came inches away from the Final Four. Here's a guy who grew up in California, went to school in Texas, and rumour is he would love to be back on the west coast. He's one of only nine coaches in NCAA Division I history to win over 100 games during the first four seasons of a coaching career, that's right from Pitt's own website. Jamie Dixon is in the midst of a six year streak where is Panthers have won 20+ games each year. Which part of his resume doesn't compare to Tim Floyd's? I'll do you one better, how is Floyd's resume even in the same category as Jamie Dixon's?

Xavier's Sean Miller. I don't know how Miller doesn't get more job offers? He coaches in the Atlantic-10 conference, not the best conference, but they do great in the tournament. In five seasons at Xavier, Sean Miller has a record second to none. He's won 120 games and lost only 46 in his tenure at Xavier. The Musketeers have been to the NCAA tournament each of the last four seasons, including back-2-back seasons in the Sweet 16 and one season in the Elite Eight. This coach doesn't schedule softies either, in '08 they beat an 8th ranked Indiana team by 15, in the tournament that year they dropped Georgia, Purdue, and West Virginia. This past season, Xavier was a #4 seed in March by beating Memphis, Cincinnati, and Virginia Tech out of conference. The largest feather in the cap of Sean Miller, since his first season as Xavier head coach, the school currently sits second on the list of schools with the best records in the month of march, trailing only current National Champion, Kansas. Tim floyd did what again? Avoided a major recruiting scandal?

Either one of these two guys should have been the major rumour, I'm not saying they were never inquired on but if they weren't that is a travesty. Again, Kentucky goes after a big dog in John Calipari. Indiana finally gets it right with Tome Crean, and who does Arizona go after? Tim Floyd. That is why the Pac-10 is the Pac-10 and the SEC, Big 10, and Big East, all experience WAY more success in this tournament. DEAL WITH IT.