Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hype Machine: 2011 Mock Draft - Rd. 1

Headlining tonight's draft, 'Labor Uncertainty.' In a rather strange turn of events, a record setting number of potential selections are planning to attend The NFL Draft this weekend. With potentially the last time we get to see these players till the NFL labor agreement is sorted out, it should get exciting.

A crop of players lacking the 'it' guy, questions swirling around more than one big-time player, and many questions dying to be answered - We're mocking the entire first round this morning, let's dive right in!

1. Carolina: Cam Newton, QB Auburn If you read anything coming out of Carolina you'd really question why you were thinking negatively about Newton. They believe he's a franchise player, they believe he can compete against Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, and they believe he will put this team on the right track and quickly. For our take on Newton - listen to TheRightNowPodcast; Episode 4.

2. Denver: Von Miller, LB Texas A&M Over the last week, the Broncos have indicated this selection is going to be Miller. Jon Fox looks at Miller as an elite pass rusher who can immediately improve the Broncos in that spot. To keep my opinions to a minimum, I think this is a mistake.

3. Buffalo: Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama The 'Bama defensive tackle is one of the top three defensive players in this draft and it's Buffalo's biggest area of need. In a draft where they don't believe the quarterback position needs to be filled this high, Dareus is the pick.

4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR Georgia The pick should be Julio Jones, but it won't be. Whether Carson Palmer remains the quarterback in Cincinnati or not, new coordinator Jay Gruden owns this selection and he's going to pick the biggest target who can be a legitimate #1 right away. Ochocinco is on his way out.

5. Arizona: *Patrick Peterson, CB LSU The best player in the draft is coming off the board at #5, the Cardinals may move back but whoever jumps into this spot is jumping in to select Peterson. Best case scenario, the Cardinals fill a need with the best athlete/player in this years draft. Period.

6. Cleveland: Julio Jones, WR Alabama Drafting Colt McCoy really worked out for Cleveland, putting Julio Jones in his offense does two significant things. (1) Gives him a great team player in the huddle, a player willing to block as much as he runs routes - (2) He's an athletic freak.

7. San Francisco: Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri As much as new head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to tell you he likes Alex Smith, he's taking Blaine Gabbert if he's available. I've got to think Gabbert becomes the franchise quarterback in San Francisco, if he's what everyone is saying then it's a steal at seven.

8. Tennessee: Jake Locker, QB Washington He's a hard worker, he's a mature player, he's been coached in a pro-style offense, to put it simply, he's the anti-Vince Young. I still believe that there was a reason everyone put him atop draft boards prior to his senior year.

9. Dallas: J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin Maybe Mike Jenkins wasn't that good in 2009, maybe his Pro Bowl season was more a reflection how often Dallas was getting after the quarterback and making his job much easier in the secondary. With Watt stepping in on the right side of the defense, with a ton of attention being paid to Stephen Bowen and Jay Ratliff, he can make an impact right away.

10. Washington: Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina Quinn is flat out very good. With a Washington team surprised he is still available, I would expect the 'Skins to pair him with Brian Orakpo and address the offensive side of the ball with veterans when they're allowed to start making moves in free agency.

11. Houston: Cameron Jordan, DE California This pick is to instantly help Wade Phillips new defense and their offensive line. Jordan is going to be a monster in the NFL and he's come on very strong in the last month. If the Texans don't trade up and Jordan is available, he'll come off the board here.

12. Minnesota: Aldon Smith, DE Missouri This is going to be a team centered around defense under Frazier, drawing similarities to a player like Justin Tuck, Aldon Smith is going to start the transition. Run the ball and play defense under Leslie Frazier.

13. Detroit: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska While there are some concerns around an undersized Amukamara, he's a fantastic talent. Prince is a very mature kid for his age and will have an easier time adjusting to the life of the NFL than most.

14. St. Louis: Corey Liuget, DT Illinois The Rams want to upgrade their defense after hitting a homerun with Sam Bradford. Adding Corey Liuget gives you a guy who is very mature and can stop the run, the opposite of Nick Fairley (not a good work ethic, or track record).

15. Miami: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama They're going to lose Brown or Williams and who knows what is going on with Brandon Marshall. Ingram is a very good runner who is probably the only running back we're going to see drafted on Thursday night.

16. Jacksonville: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue Can't rely on Kampman and Harvey any longer, the Jaguars have got to address how they get after the quarterback. Kerrigan does that and he's a player who has displayed a ton of production.

17. New England: *Mike Pouncey, C/OG Florida I like Pouncey a ton for the Patriots. New England loves having depth on the offensive line, they love developing players a year or two before they have to fill in for good, and the Urban Meyer connection is still here with the pick of Pouncey. Oh, and I don't expect New England to stay at seventeen.

18. San Diego: Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College I love the Chargers finally realizing they need to protect Rivers. The veteran quarterback has got to be in love with San Diego making this selection. I even think the Chargers would be willing to move up if they saw Castonzo slipping with the Patriots in front of them.

19. New York Giants: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin Safe pick for the Giants who are always in the market for solid players who can develop into Pro Bowl selections, exactly what Carimi can be on the next level.

20. Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa The Bucs are beefing up the defense yet again in the first round. If they're going to make a real run at Atlanta and New Orleans, as they did in 2010, adding Adrian Clayborn is a quality move

21. Kansas City: Nate Solder, OT Colorado Think about it, GM Scott Pioli loves transition guys. Solder used to be a TE and has developed into a pretty fine tackle. Needing more protection is the first need Kansas City should address.

22. Indianapolis: Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State Looking to sure up their offensive line, the Colts will provide even more protection for Manning. They've got a hole that needs to be filled and if they feel Sherrod is the best available, he'll be the pick.

23. Philadelphia: Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado There are a ton of teams that think Smith is 1A or 1B as far as defensive backs go in this years draft class. Philadelphia is definately in the market for a cornerback and without being able to go to free agency, the Eagles will address it right now.

24. New Orleans: Marvin Austin, DT North Carolina The Saints will have to acknowledge the character issues with Austin, but just like Quinn earlier in the round, their talent can't be denied. Expect Bowers from Clemson to be in play here as well.

25. Seattle: Danny Watkins, OT Baylor The Seahawks could use protection on their offensive line, and Watkins can play every position on the offensive line. He's an older player (27) but that maturity is going to really help him adjust at the next level.

26. Baltimore: Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State Baltimore hits home runs most years in the draft. Everyone looks better playing in front of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, the Ravens would love to improve their pass rush with someone who is versatile like Hewyard.

27. Atlanta: Brooks Reed, OLB Arizona Mike Smith is going to address rushing the passer and work on adding a tight end or second pass catching option for Matt Ryan in the later rounds. Reed would be a near perfect fit in Atlanta and address a need in the first round.

28. New England: Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA The Patriots won't be here but if they are, Ayers is a linebacker that would help New England. He would be a pass rusher that could help the Patriots secondary.

29. Chicago: Tyron Smith, OT USC I love the Bears adding help to their offensive line to protect Cutler. When given time in his career, Cutler has been very impressive, it's the time part the Bears haven't got to yet.

30. New York Jets: Nick Fairley, DT Auburn I don't actually expect Fairley to be around at this point, really it's a bit too crazy but I wanted to address concerns with a lazy player who had one great year.

31. Pittsburgh: Brandon Harris, CB Miami I really like corners from Miami, they play tough and with a huge amount of speed. The way the Steelers were roasted by Green Bay in the Super Bowl, it showed their need to fill this void through the draft.

32. Green Bay: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple Pairing another mauling tackle with Raji is exactly what Green Bay would like to do, not knowing what is going to happen with Cullen Jenkins. Wilkerson has some question marks but the Packers can risk it.

. . .I'm spent! For more conversation hit us on Twitter!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

With the draft only a day or so away, we're getting after it! Ripping off the teams who sit in very good positions on Thursday night. With the clock ticking and players lockout talk at an all-time high, let's jump right into the draft head first

Get After It!

The Cincinnati Bengals need to make a real changing of the guard move on Thursday night. Stop laughing, I agree that mentioning real change and Paul Brown's team in the same sentence is absurd, but it could happen. The Bengals ousted longtime offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski in February and brought in Jay Gruden to revive this offense on life support. After loading up a season ago drafting Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, signing free-agent Terrell Owens, and returning 1,200 yard-rusher Cedric Benson, the Bengals had high hopes. However, after another losing season, their veteran quarterback throwing twenty interceptions while be sacked twenty six times, and finishing in the basement of the AFC North, things have come to the point of overhaul. Our Call- Rid yourselves of Ochocinco and Palmer, select a run-blocking receiver in Alabama's Julio Jones, and return to a run focused offense as was in 2009.

The Arizona Cardinals sit in a very precarious position at #6 in round one. Each of the four teams selecting ahead of them have a need that doesn't involve the most NFL ready player int he draft, LSU's Patrick Peterson. Carolina at #1 has the Cam Newton Bug and it can't be cured. Denver would be out of their mind to pass on a defensive tackle at #2; they've got a serious need to fill the void made by the departure of Jamal Williams. At #3, you've got the Bills and Chan Gailey, a team indicating they want to improve their pass rush above all at the top of round one. As previously mentioned, the Bengals are going to give their man Jay Gruden a young weapon on offense and have indicated so at nearly every step of the way. Leaving Arizona in the driver's seat at pick #5. Our Call- The Cards are going to field offers from several teams looking to trade up for possibly Peterson or even a quarterback they covet, yet if I'm Arizona with the ability to draft the best possible player in this draft, only a king's ransom would keep me from selecting Patrick Peterson.

The Dallas Cowboys actually are sitting in what looks like a pretty good seat in the early going. With three important needs to fill, a defensive back to improve their pass defense, a right end to replace Igor Olshansky, and an offensive tackle to support an aging line and the blindslide of quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys have a good opportunity in the first round. Top rated offensive tackles Tyson Smith and Anthony Castonzo will both be available for them. While they have indicated they're sold on Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, he will also be there if the Cowboys go secondary. Lastly, their pick of defensive ends including Cameron Jordan and J.J. Watt could also be the perfect player to pair with Bowen and Ratliff on their young defensive line. Our Call - Realistically, the Cowboys season was over the moment signal caller Tony Romo got knocked out for the season, if not earlier. If the Cowboys plan to showcase their big name receiver Dez Bryant and Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, they've got to keep them healthy. Cowboys go offensive line, an out of character selection.

The Philadelphia Eagles have something every enticing that not many have. That would be a backup quarterback that could actually net you something worthwhile, Kevin Kolb. In a league where there is one position more important than any other, and a draft class lacking that one special quarterback (yes, my opinion), why wouldn't the Eagles dangle Kolb over the noses of Minnesota, Tennessee, San Francisco, Washington, and Arizona? I'd much rather Kolb, a quarterback with a much smaller learning curve, than a rookie who is just adjusting to the NFL while also attempting to live up the hype which surrounds a top draft pick expected to be the franchise quarterback. Our Call - Kolb isn't a castoff, he's a quarterback with an unfortunate situation in Philadelphia and Andy Reid knows that. I fully expect the Eagles to deal Kolb especially if there is a player who they value much more than any of us think at this point.

And . . .

The San Francisco 49ers are looking for their quarterback. In a year when I've come out and said, that quarterback to man your franchise isn't there in the first round, it's what Jim Harbaugh is attempting to do. Harbaugh is looking at a quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who has the attention of everyone at this point in the process. You can't say it enough, the recent teams with pieces already in place, Jets, Ravens, Falcons, those teams found the quarterback who completed their works in progress. For Harbaugh, it seems as though he'll take the quarterback in the first round and coach them up just like he has with Andrew Luck out in Stanford. Our Call - The 49ers and Harbaugh grab Gabbert and go one step further with offense in the 2nd round as well. He's no joke as a quarterbacks coach and you can get the 'Niners really feel comfortable with him selecting a quarterback.

Thanks for reading, tomorrow - Mock It UP!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh How Quick That Changed

The morning of Sunday, April 17th, all was not well in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Boston Bruins had dropped the first two games of their best of seven series, in Boston against hated rival Montreal. The grumblings were becoming louder and louder, "same old Bruins," "when is head coach Claude Julien getting canned?," it had gotten bad.

The Boston Red Sox had stumbled pretty hard out of the gate. Dead last in the American League East, a terrible 4-10 through their first fourteen, and more than one member of the pitching staff with an earned run average north of FIFTEEN!?!?!

As for the Boston Celtics, not even your most star-crossed C's fan would tell you they were confident heading into the postseason. A bench which was giving you nothing. A late-season trade of 1 of the Celtics starting 5, seemingly taking a turn for the worst. Oh, and a team that had gone just 13-11 the beginning of March.

Yet that was a week ago, and boy things have changed.

The Sox have ripped off seven wins in their last eight games. Starter Josh Beckett has rebounded from his rough 5-inning start in his first game, to pitch 23-innings in three games, allowing just three earned runs, while looking really sharp. Embattled starter Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched two outings since last Sunday and has really come on strong. Matsuzaka pitched seven innings and gave up 10 earned runs in his first two starts, but this week Matsuzaka went 7+ in each start and recorded 12-strikeouts, just two hits, and zero runs allowed. Utility infielder Jed Lowrie continues to rake every day. The 27-year old is hitting .431 with hits in all but one of his last ten games. All-Stars Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are getting on base and the Red Sox offense is also taking that same corner as their staff has. Now back to just two wins off the pace of the first place Yankees, I'm going to say I told you so.

The Boston Bruins have really taken their gut check seriously after working themselves into an 0-2 hole. The Bruins went into Montreal and took back the two they lost in their own building, including game 4 which saw the Bruins go down 3-1 before storming back to a 5-4 overtime victory. Then, for the second time in three days, the Bruins grabbed an overtime, this time a double overtime, victory and ripped a 3-2 series lead from the Canadiens. A masterful performance by Bruins goalie and Vezina Trophy finalist Tim Thomas led the Bruins to one of the more exciting playoff games in recent memory. On the edge of their seats the packed game 5 house at Boston's TD Bank Garden couldn't get enough. The roof waiting to explode at any minute as the Canadiens and Bruins alike missed on opportunity after opportunity throughout two overtimes. Then, on the stick of Nathan Horton, the Bruins are headed back to Montreal looking to take the series that once looked so far away when they'd fallen down 0-2 just last Saturday night.

In an honest moment, even some on the Celtics would have told you it might be too difficult this year, maybe. That was however prior to tuning up the Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Friday night. In what opened up as a close game, the Celtics turned it on and flexed on a banged up Knicks team. Between Rajon Rondo's Magic JohnsonESQUE performance and a combined 70-points from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, I'd say the Celtics did everything but actually finish off the Knicks, even before they step on the court for game 4. This might be a different team without center Kendrick Perkins, I'll give you that, but this is still a team that runs 4-All Stars, players who command attention at both ends of the floor, and players who don't take losing lightly. If the Celtics can get a few days of rest before they head to South Beach, it'll be exactly what they've earned by fending off a Knicks team in games 1 & 2, then taking it to them in game 3. As long as Paul Pierce is on the floor, the Celtics have a chance to go deep.

In New England, over the past ten years, you can say we've been lucky, but that would be a dramatic understatement. As the Celtics & Bruins go to clinch playoff series today and later this week, and the Red Sox continue their rallying comeback from a slow start, keep clapping, because this decade has only just begun.

For more LynchyRightNow find us @Lynchyrightnow on Twitter and Audio Lynchy!

Get after it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tough to see it end, real tough.

It had to be different, everything had to be different. The bright lights and legions of loyal fans that followed him from Jacobs Field to Fenway Park and all the way to Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium, gone. Being referred to as the greatest right-handed hitter in the history of an American pastime, gone. Manny being Manny, Mannywood, and the flashing light bulbs, gone. I'd say things were far different for the now 19-year veteran, Manny Ramirez.

For Ramirez, a World Series MVP and 12x All-Star, heading into Tampa's spring training and the 2011 season was unfamiliar territory. His manager openly questioning bringing him on board. A team of young players no longer looking up to him. What kind of season was he hoping for? A season where he'd regain some of what he'd lost in recent seasons? Was it to erase the memory of a guy who hit just 28 home runs in two seasons after his initial failed drug test in 2009? To forget those 30+ days he spent on the south side of Chicago at the end of last season, hitting just .261 with only one long ball. 19-Seasons into his career, Ramirez was most likely looking to do all those things and to also make a return to the prominent slugger he was in his prime. The guy who tore the cover off the ball, who flipped the bat, jogged around the bases, and hugged his teammates in the dugout. For Ramirez, that instant gratification is most likely what led him to a second failed drug test and unfortunately, his retirement.

To be without the adoration from millions of fans, to be without the millions and millions of dollars, to be without the towering homeruns and a locker room full of teammates who loved being around him, Ramirez clearly felt there was no other way, no way out. Today, on April the 12th, there continues to be the negative backlash toward Ramirez' career. "He quit," "he was selfish," and "I'll never vote for him to the hall of fame." However unnatural Ramirez' career was, or you believe it to be, remember this, from the mid-90's through last week, the story of Major League Baseball cannot be told told without Manny Ramirez, that's a fact.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

1-7? Settle please.

I don't begin to write this without some reservation. The overreaction, the headlines, the noise and chatter, it's all a bit much. If you can't guess, I'm referring to the outcry from Boston Red Sox fans just 9-days into the month of April and the 2011 baseball season all together.

For starters, we're talking about an eight to nine game stretch over a 162 game season. We're talking about possibly nine games, six against offenses that rank amongst the top five power lineups in the game. We're talking about exactly one eighteenth of the season. Calm down. No, 1-7 isn't great and being outscored 53-29 is awful, but it's not even April 10th.

I too believe the Red Sox can compete for a World Series Championship this season, honestly I do. However, let's put some things into perspective here:

1. Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a 26-year old kid entering his first season as a legitimate every day starting catcher, catching in a hornets nest in Boston. He's actually replacing a legend in Varitek and or a power hitting catcher in Victor Martinez from a season ago. So yes, it might take him a month or two of weekend series' in front of packed houses to get used to the atmosphere. This isn't Triple 'A' Iowa City!

2. To "piggy-back" on that, starters Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka are trying to have bounce back seasons with a new pitching coach and a new catcher. What'd you think they were going to come out throwing darts and notching 20-strikeout games? They'll be some bumps in the road jugheads!

3. There is a reason why All-Star Kevin Youkilis has taken a few days to really get going, which he still hasn't. In the midst of a fantastic 2010 season, Youk was sidelined with thumb surgery, from which he is coming back. So yes, it might take this guy some time to get started. Do you really think that both he and Pedroia are going to return from injury flawlessly?

4. Plugging in All-Stars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez hasn't been all that bad, but again, they're playing in a real market for
the first times in their career. Tampa & San Diego aren't exactly the baseball hot beds that New England is. Furthermore, isn't Gonzalez recovering from injury? Come on guys, you didn't expect them to win 130, did you?

5. Then there's my boy Daniel Bard. You don't think this kid, a kid who clearly has closer stuff, sees Bobby Jenks & Papelbon in the bullpen? He had a rough couple outings in Texas & Cleveland, but the boy looked real good against New York yesterday. So give him a break would you?

But what does all this mean? What does me justifying the Red Sox start actually mean? I'll tell you, it means you need to relax, watch The Masters, open a book, and tune in on Marathon Monday and reevaluate, at the earliest.

Or check out Season 3: The RightNow Podcast!

Get After It!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

All Dogs To Play For Championship

I truly believe that this should go down as one of the most underrated NCAA Tournaments in tournament history. Between Virginia Commonwealth's unprecedented run from the play-in round all the way to their ousting last night in the Final Four, and the stand-up fantastic play of Connecticut's Kemba Walker, which we'll get to see for one more night, what was this tournament missing?

Our tournament mainstays, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, all reached the round of sixteen. Check.

The super freshman, Wildcat guard Brandon Knight, Tar Heel forward Harrison Barnes, Buckeye big man Jared Sullinger, and Husky star Jeremy Lamb. Yes, there is a few good things about stud freshman having to play at the collegiate level for at least a season.Check.

The new Gonzaga. Butler, the only Division 1 basketball program from the state of Indiana to reach two consecutive Final Fours. Not Bobby Knight's Hoosiers or even Bird's Sycamores. Brad Stevens' Bulldogs are the new Gonzaga. Check.

Upper classmen standing up. Like Duke's Jon Scheyer a season ago, seniors came to play this madness as well. Butler senior forward Matt Howard, Kansas juniors Marcus & Markieff Morris, and Florida seniors Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, and Alex Tyus. Check.

Phenomenal displays of coaching. You won't speak of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, without discussing the coaching performance of Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart and even Kentucky's John Calipari. Check.

And Monday night, a Marquee Matchup. . . .

Butler v. Connecticut, it's about to get great!

To preview the championship game may not be necessary, because if you've been watching any part of this tournament, you've been caught up in the parties involved. 'Big Shot' Shelvin Mack from Butler, 3rd-year player who has scored over 100 points in five games, including nineteen from beyond the arc. The hardest working player in the tournament, the aforementioned Butler senior forward Matt Howard. Howard does every little thing a player can do on the court, provides every bit of leadership a team needs, and oh yes, he also has ripped down close to 40 rebounds through The Madness.

Then there is Connecticut. The Huskies are back in the championship game, Calhoun's bid for a third national championship. A crowning moment for the undisputed (sit down fans of Jimmer Fredette) best player on the collegiate level, Kemba Walker. They've beaten San Diego State when everyone was crazy for Steve Fisher and Aztec sophomore Kawhi Leonard. They've beaten Arizona when the Wildcats were on everyones horizon after they stunned Duke. Then Calhoun and Walker dropped John Calipari last night. Long gone is the team that stumbled in four of five heading into Big East Tourney play, this is a team that has won 10 in a row without looking back.

Are you ready?!?!? It's Kemba Walker, Jim Calhoun, Brad Stevens, Shelvin Mack, Mid-Majors, Jeremy Lamb, Matt Howard, Horizon League, Big East, all for the National Title!

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