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2017 First Round NFL Mock Draft

The NFL Draft is finally upon us. While trying to predict the first round of the NFL Draft is more of a dart throw than filling out a NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket, I thought I would give it a shot at how I things playing out in South Philadelphia this coming Thursday evening.

1. Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A & M

Despite the rumors of trading out of this spot, the Browns keep it simple by picking the consensus top prospect in the draft. The addition of Garrett means Cleveland all of a sudden has a promising, young, defensive front.;

2. San Francisco 49ers – QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina

The 49ers end up pulling the trigger on who they believe to be the best quarterback of the 2017 class. With the posturing of other QB-needy teams like Cleveland and New York, San Francisco decides not to take any risks by selecting who they hope will be their next franchise quarterback.

3. Chicago Bears – S Jamal Adams, LSU

In the perfect mix of value and need, the Bears take arguably the best Safety in the draft out of what has become “Defensive Back University” in LSU. Adams is a playmaking safety who should make an immediate impact on the rebuilding, Chicago defense.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – TE OJ Howard, Alabama

The Jaguars hit defense very hard in free agency the past two offseasons as well last year’s draft. Blake Bortles may be down to his last shot as the starter in Jacksonville. Here they give Bortles a weapon in the passing game who should make an immediate impact.

5. Tennessee Titans – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State  

Despite the questions with his hamstring, the Titans grab the consensus top-rated cornerback in Lattimore in another pick that fits both value and need. Assuming he is completely healthy, Lattimore has the makings of a cornerstone in the Tennessee secondary for years to come.

6. New York Jets – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State

The Jets desperately need a quarterback. But they’d be reaching to select the next available one at this point. Assuming they stay put at #6, I have them taking Malik Hooker to fill a much-needed void at Safety. Hooker is considered one of two top safeties in the draft and has the ability to make an impact as early as Week 1.

7. Los Angeles Chargers – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

The Chargers would be elated to see a prospect like Thomas fall to them at #7. As the Chargers transition to a 4-3, new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has to be foaming at the mouth when thinking about a pass-rushing duo of Thomas and Joey Bosa.

8. Carolina Panthers – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

With Jonathan Stewart now 30 years old, the Panthers need a capable replacement capable of carrying the running load. Fournette’s style fits seamlessly with Carolina’s offensive philosophy, making this a potentially perfect fit.

9. Cincinnati Bengals – LB Reuben Foster, Alabama

If you look past the off-field concerns, Foster is one of the best prospects in the entire draft. He has drawn comparisons to Luke Kuechly and some analysts have said he is capable of making an impact that mirrored Ray Lewis. If either projection comes to fruition, the Bengals would be thrilled.  

10. Buffalo Bills – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan

The Bills grab the top-rated wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins in order to upgrade the passing game and offense as a whole. Davis has drawn comparisons to Terrell Owens, another small school wideout who entered the league with a chip on his shoulder.

11. Arizona Cardinals (Trade with New Orleans) – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

With the first trade of the draft, the Cardinals move up two spots and ahead of the Browns to grab Deshaun Watson in order to groom him to be the quarterback of the future. Watson, an accomplished college QB may require a lot of work to adjust to the NFL, but Bruce Arians has a long history of successfully developing quarterbacks.

12. Indianapolis Colts (Trade with Cleveland) – DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama

The Colts make the second trade of draft night when they pounce on the opportunity to strengthen the defense by adding Jonathan Allen. Allen is one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in the draft, and he would be too good to pass up if he drops this far.

13. New Orleans Saints (trade with Arizona Cardinals) – LB Haason Reddick, Temple

The Saints address defense by adding the versatile Haason Reddick, a player capable playing multiple linebacker positions as well as rushing the passer when needed. Reddick was well-coached under Matt Rhule at Temple, in an NFL-system that should allow for a smooth transition to the pros.

14. Philadelphia Eagles – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

The Eagles significantly struggled to produce a consistent pass rush in 2016. They’re potentially feeling buyer’s remorse after inking Vinny Curry to a big deal. Barnett fills a need and will realistically be the highest player on the board at this point.

15. Cleveland Browns (trade with Indianapolis Colts) – G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

The first offensive lineman comes off the board as the Browns begin rebuilding an offensive line that saw three of its starters depart for free agency a year ago. Lamp is considered the top OL in the draft and is capable of starting in Week 1.

16. Baltimore Ravens – WR Mike Williams, Clemson

The Ravens’ passing game has been depleted following the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken leaving in free agency. Mike Williams is a big play receiver who has all the makings of Joe Flacco’s next top target.

17. Washington Redskins – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

The Redskins can feel a glaring hole with who could be the best all-around running back in the draft in Dalvin Cook. Cook is a playmaker who is just as effective in the running game as he is catching passes out of the backfield.

18. Tennessee Titans – WR John Ross, Washington

After filling the need at Cornerback at #5, the Titans take care of their next biggest priority by giving Marcus Mariota an explosive Wide Receiver in John Ross. He is an electric playmaker who can take it to the house every time the ball is in his hands.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

The Bucs go corner in the first round in consecutive years in an effort to complete the CB duo of the future by pairing Humphrey with Vernon Hargreaves. Humphrey is a physical corner who is liking the successor to Brent Grimes.

20. Denver Broncos – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

The top offensive tackle comes off the board as the Broncos are hopeful Robinson can fill the big void at Left Tackle. He will have every opportunity to win that job and will likely be the Week 1 starter.

21. Detroit Lions – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan

The Lions are desperate for talent on the defensive line and Charlton is one of the more talented and versatile defensive ends in the draft. He has potential to be a disruptive force on the line from day one.

22. Miami Dolphins – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU

The Dolphins strengthens its secondary by a rare four-year starter in White. As previously noted, LSU has a reputation as a defensive back factory as he projects to start alongside Byron Maxwell. White brings strong coverage skills to Miami along with an added bonus as a dangerous returner.

23. New York Giants – DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State

McDowell could be a steal at this point in the draft, as he brings an enormous amount of talent to the NFL. The Giants are in need of a disruptive force on the interior of the defensive line and that is exactly who McDowell can be.

24. Oakland Raiders – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida

The fill a hole at inside linebacker by adding Davis following the departure of Malcolm Smith. Before an injury-plagued 2016 season, Davis was arguably the heart of the ferocious Florida defense.

25. Houston Texans – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

It has been a popular notion since the season ended that the Texans are only a quarterback short of being a serious contender. With that being the most important position on the field, they take the guy they hope will be what they paid Brock Osweiler to be just a year ago. Mahomes brings elite arm talent to the NFL and it will be up to Bill O’Brien to prepare him to make the jump.

26. Seattle Seahawks – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

You didn’t have to watch a lot of the Seahawks in 2016 to know how much of an upgrade was needed on the offensive line. Adding Ramczyk would be a great start to improving one of the league’s worst units a season ago.

27. Kansas City Chiefs – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

McCaffrey immediately fills the void left by Jamaal Charles and brings the versatility that Andy Reid loves in his running backs. The combination of skill set and the offensive system would be too good for the Chiefs to pass up if he is there at 27.

28. Dallas Cowboys – DE Charles Harris, Missouri

The Cowboys add a much-needed pass rusher in Harris. He would bring elite speed to the Dallas defense that defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli will love.

29. Green Bay Packers –  LB/DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

McKinley best projects as a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker in the NFL. That happens to be exactly what the Packers need. He looks to be a great replacement to Julius Peppers.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

The Steelers are in need of both a safety and linebacker. Jabrill Peppers brings a unique skill set to the NFL that could possibly fill both voids as he projects to fill a hybrid role similar to Deone Bucannon in Arizona.

31. Cleveland Browns (trade with Atlanta Falcons) – CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC

With plenty of ammunition in draft picks, the Browns jump up a couple spots ahead of the Saints, a team also in need of a corner, to grab the top one on their board.

32. New Orleans Saints – CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado

The Saints go defense again with their second of two first-round picks. New Orleans has been devoid of good corner play for what seems like forever. They’re hoping this pick is part of the solution.

 

Source Credits:

http://walterfootball.com

http://www.ourlads.com/nfldepthcharts/

http://predictpick.nfl.com/

https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=170624981

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Players Who Sucked This Week

This should have been posted yesterday but I had a brief episode of amnesia and forgot I wrote this til now. Better late than never!

 

Hockey

The Blackhawks and Flames get the nod for getting swept in the first round of the playoffs.

That feeling when you get swept.

That feeling when you get swept.

Brian Elliott let up six goals on 30 shots, including two on only three shots in Wednesday’s sweeping loss to the Ducks. I’m still confused how the Flames (and Maple Leafs) made the playoffs.

Sergei Bobrovsky was not impressive in his two final playoff games, giving up nine goals with a .857 SV% in those contests.

Braden Holtby and Frederik Andersen both made their opposing skaters look good. The Capitals-Leafs series was a shootout with only one game not going into overtime. The Caps now face the Penguins and will not make it past them if Holtby continues to let shots go by.

 

Basketball

The Pacers set the record for biggest blown lead in the playoffs (26 pts). Then they lost Sunday and were swept by Cavaliers. If it’s any consolation, they lost the series by a combined 16 points.

I bet you clicked that.

I bet you tried to click that.

Manu Ginobili missed every single field goal attempt in the 2017 playoffs thus far. He’s got at least two more games to make up for it.

Markieff Morris nearly fouled out in the last two games he’s played in and shot .294 from the field.

Mike Muscala only made one shot in seven attempts, and nearly fouled out Wednesday.

 

Baseball

The Padres had some plain bad luck last Tuesday night. First their pitcher Cosart bunted the ball with men on first and second; the catcher snagged the ball and threw out the lead runner. Then in the following inning the D-backs scored on a 2-out, bases loaded walk. Then Chris Owings BUNTED the ball,Stammen bobbled the ball and made a throwing error which led to two more runs. The Padres ended up losing 11-2. It might be one of those years for ‘em.

This is the face of an 0-20 guy.

This is the face of an 0-20 guy.

Jeff Mathis is hitless in his last 20 at bats, striking out in half of them. Luckily for the D-backs he isn’t the starting catcher.

JaCoby Jones couldn’t reach base in 14 plate appearances this week, striking out nine times. Not to mention he got hit in the face by a pitch. This was not a good week for him. Marwin Gonzalez also went 0-14 but drew three walks. This lack of hitting has dropped his average 135 points in the last ten games. Cody Asche went 0-10 this week with half being strikeouts. His season average is a tragic .057 as of now. What’s with all these guys with the donut stats?

Dansby Swanson went 3-28 last week with a season average of .139. The former first overall pick is off to a poor start.

Kevin Gausman is making me regret drafting him. He’s given up 13 combined runs in his last two starts over eight innings. His season ERA sits at 7.50 with a WHIP of 2.04. He better get back on track.

Kyle Gibson continues to underwhelm the Minnesota fan base with his lackluster pitching. He lost both starts with a combined nine earned runs, 17 hits, and four walks. He’s 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA to start the year.

Twins fans can relate.

Twins fans can relate.

I picked up Cody Reed after he pitched eight shutout innings prior to his first start. Then naturally he gives up seven runs in just two innings. That sucks for both of us.

Julio Teheran had just one start but gave up as many runs as that Reed fella above him. But he lasted two more innings. So he wasn’t quite as bad as Reed.

Rafael Montero outsucked both Reed and Teheran; he gave up three runs in only a third of an inning. He was then sent down to the Minors.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Cam Talbot allowed five goals last Tuesday, but stopped 50 of the next 54 shots he faced.

 

Got anyone to add? Write ‘em in the comments.

 

Stats week of 4/17-23

 

Photo Credits:
https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/0eN-YREpBtkdluXkZqkdscKcBR0=/0x0:3000×1903/1200×800/filters:focal(1834×341:2314×821)/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/54373387/669632864.0.jpg
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/wrOwoKETpKo/maxresdefault.jpg
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/images/players/head_shot/425772.jpg
http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/twinsgal041816+3+19.JPG

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Two Things the NBA Can do to Stop Tanking

Tanking, or “deliberately losing on purpose” has been a major epidemic in the NBA for at least the past 30 years. The first speculated team to do it was the 1983-1984 Houston Rockets, who would go on to select Hakeem Olajuwon 1st overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. It was notably followed up by the San Antonio Spurs in 1997 in order to draft Tim Duncan.Those are just some of the “successful” examples. There have been several other occurrences along the way, but this has been a unique season in that several teams had blatantly tanked down the stretch of the 2016-2017 season.

A fair case can be made that the Lakers, Suns, Sixers, Kings, Magic, Knicks and Mavericks had mailed it in late in the season, knowing that doing so will result in increasing their odds at the NBA Draft Lottery in May. This 2017 Draft Class is being hyped as the best group since 2003 when Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh entered the league.

I do not fault any of these teams for tanking, nor do I for any team that has previously done so or will in the future. The unfortunate reality for the NBA is that tanking is the best option for teams that lack a superstar, which as I have previously presented is essential for winning a championship. If you already have a star, odds are that you are in the position to build around that player in order to become a contender. It’s a lot easier to get a second and third star when you have one than it is to get one when you have zero.

If you are simply a bad team, then you will have an opportunity to select a player at the top of the draft. But for those average 35-45-win, low playoff seeded teams that do not have any realistic chance to win a championship, blowing it up is usually the best action to take. Its the worst place to be, as you are not bad enough to draft a difference-making franchise player.

Tanking is a league problem, and it has never been a specific team problem. Instead of taking the old-school, sanctimonious approach of chastising these franchises, we should be trying to come up with a solution. So, I thought I would do my part by offering two suggestions.

  1. Change the Draft Eligibility Requirements

As it stands, players only need to be one year removed from high school before entering the NBA. The highest rated prospects play college for one season before entering the draft, inspiring the term “one and done”. While this is an improvement from old rule of players being eligible immediately following high school, it’s still not good enough. I am proposing the NBA copies the NFL by forcing players to stay in school for three years before entering the draft.

The argument against this proposal has always been it that it holds players back from cashing in and starting to “work” when they feel ready. While that notion has some merit, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. Players would have an extra two years of development and an opportunity to mature both on and off the court. By virtue of this, a higher quantity of NBA-ready players will be entering the draft each year. Therefore, teams will not be inclined to take such drastic measures to secure a top draft pick.

The other factor in play is that these players, with only 20-25 college games under their belt, are that much more of an unknown to the NBA scouts trying to evaluate them. Drafts in any sport are enough of a dart throw as it is. But it is infinitely more difficult for teams attempting to project how good they will be at the next level with such a small sample size. Even if a prospect plays an entire season, usually at least a third of the games will be against very inferior competition, making that sample size for an accurate NBA projection even smaller. If these players have the chance to develop after a few seasons, more of them will be much easier to scout as NBA prospects. This ultimately puts less importance of securing a top pick in order to draft one of the very limited “sure things”, with the rest of the prospects being “complete unknowns”.

  1. Reward teams that are just missing out on the Playoffs

Teams just on the cusp or barely getting into the playoffs are in purgatory. In the NBA its better to be very bad than mediocre. Most teams have caught on, in that there is more incentive for a team to win 20 games than there is to win 40. Imagine the season is winding down and your 5-10 games below .500. At this point it may seem like the absolute ceiling is reaching a 7-8 seed if this team goes on an unbelievable, unexpected run to close out the season. Teams in his position usually op for tanking the rest of the way because it can be the difference between securing a top-five pick as opposed to just sneaking into the playoffs, only to get swept by a championship contender in the first round and get handed a mid-round pick.

Naturally, this presents a problem and was exacerbated down the stretch of the 2016-17 Season. But, what if there was more incentive to finish right out of the playoffs? What if all 30 teams tried to win all 82 games on their schedule? Everyone would agree it be much better for the league if this was the case. But the incentive needs to be there.

Here’s my idea: Award the best team not to make the playoffs with the most lottery chances, and conduct a drawing for picks #1 and #2. The drawing would only be for the top two picks and would simply be a reverse of the current lottery odds. So it would look like this…

Lottery Finish Chance of #1 Pick
14th 25%
13th 19.9%
12th 15.6%
11th 11.9%
10th 8.8%
9th 6.3%
8th 4.3%
7th 2.8%
6th 1.7%
5th 1.1%
4th 0.8%
3rd 0.7%
2nd 0.6%
1st 0.5%


Under this structure, every team out of playoff position will be trying their hardest to win every game down the stretch, which is essentially eliminating the incentive to tank. After the drawing for the top two picks, reward picks 3-14 on a worst-to-first order. This would guarantee that the worst team in the NBA will not draft any worse than #3, second-worst at #4 and so on. This is to ensure that authentically bad teams still have a good chance at drafting a top prospect.

It’s the best of both worlds. Average teams have the incentive to win down the stretch and if they miss out of the playoffs, they are in a position to draft a franchise player that they most likely lack. On the other hand, the truly bad teams still have a shot at a pick in the #3-5 range.

I firmly believe instituting both of these changes will have an enormous impact on the NBA. It will benefit teams, players and will ultimately eliminate tanking.

Photo Credit: http://www.nba.com/kings/blog/kings-2016-nba-draft-lottery-odds/

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Baseball

Jeremy Guthrie has a 135 ERA after giving up ten runs and not making it out of the first inning…on his birthday! He was then demoted to the minors. He takes the crown as Worst of the Week. And Most Unlucky.

jeremy-guthrie-disaster-start-nationals

Miguel Cabrera got off to a terrible start but finally got a hit in yesterday’s game. I picked him in the first round so I’m gonna need some production out of him next week.

Brent Suter allowed four runs, four hits, and two walks in one inning against the Cubs on Saturday. Then got optioned to Triple-A. Ouch.

Jarrett Parker, Austin Hedges, Jacob May, and Russell Martin all had one thing in common at the plate – zero hits. They combined to go 0-56, but somehow drove in 4 runs and scored 3 of their own.

Jose Reyes, Keon Broxton and Mark Canha got one hit each. But they weren’t quite as bad as Greg Bird and Kirk Nieuwenhuis who struck out a combined 15 times.

You like that Parker/Hedges/May/Martin?!

You like that Parker-Hedges-May-Martin?!

Byron Buxton continues to have trouble hitting in the majors, striking out 14 times in his first 26 at bats of the season.

Masahiro Tanaka, Francisco Liriano, Bronson Arroyo, AJ Griffin, Matthew Boyd, and Raul Alcantara all had rough starts to the season.

Christian Bethancourt has been awful in relief for the Padres. Then again, the Padres are awful. To put it in numbers, Bethancourt has given up 7 runs in 1 ⅔ innings of work (ERA 32.40), 5.40 WHIP, and batters are hitting .375 against him.

Matt Strahm may have given up less runs in successive games, but his ERA is 47.25, WHIP is 7.50, and he hasn’t struck out one batter. He won’t last long with the Royals at this rate.

Casey Fien and Edwin Diaz totally blew yesterday’s game in Anaheim. Seattle was up 9-3 going into the bottom of the 9th. So yes, they ended up losing 10-9.

Sam Dyson has been a fantasy player’s nightmare. Following a stellar 2016 season, the Rangers’ closer has given up 8 runs in 3 games thus far. His ERA stands at 36.00 and he’s been credited with two blown saves.

sam dyson

It’s been a rough start for Dyson.

 

Hockey

Brian Elliott ended his season the same way he started it – three straight losses.

Calvin Pickard lost three of his last four starts to close out his team’s abysmal campaign. He gave up 14 goals in those games, and Colorado ends their season as the worst team of the 2016-17 NHL season.

2017-2018 slogan

2017-2018 slogan

The Blackhawks defense allowed 51 shots last Tuesday against the Avalanche; props to Scott Darling for saving 47 of them. And Corey Crawford ended the regular season on a 3-game losing streak.

Corey Schneider lost his last five games of the season, allowing 11 in his last two. The Devils finish as the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

 

Basketball

Justin Jackson missed all nine three-pointers he took. That’s gonna hurt his draft stock.

justin jackson

Dorian Finney-Smith has shot .235 over the last 5 games, making just one three-pointer in 15 attempts. Quincy Acy shot worse overall (.222) but made more three-pointers. One more to be exact.

Michael Carter-Williams is the only shooter under .200 this week. I take that back, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also shot under .200. But he has the longest name on this week’s list. And he missed all seven three-point attempts.

Denzel Valentine went downhill after shooting 50% from the field in last Sunday’s game in New Orleans. Over the next three games, he missed 12 of 13 shots, including 7 of 8 three-pointers.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Robin Lehner was mostly responsible for his Sabres’ back-to-back 4-2 losses to start the week, but stopped 65 of 69 shots in his next two starts. The Sabres finished the season as the second-worst team in the East.

Jhoulys Chacin allowed 9 runs in his first start to the Dodgers, then bounced back with a scoreless outing against the Giants for his first win.

Luke Gregerson dgregorsonidn’t allow a run in his first three appearances. So of course he gave up six runs on five hits and a walk Saturday afternoon against the Royals.

Mark Melancon started the season by blowing his first save opportunity, but then redeemed himself in yesterday’s contest.

Shawn Armstrong pitched a total of two scoreless innings to start the 2017 season, then got rocked in Arizona for five runs in an inning of work.

It took Brandon Moss four games to get a hit, and it was the only way he knew how – a homerun.

 

 

Got anyone to add? Write ‘em in the comments.

 

Stats week of 4/2-9

 

Photo Credits:
https://cdn-s3.si.com/s3fs-public/2017/04/08/jeremy-guthrie-disaster-start-nationals.jpg
http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/ed/edb0a71e95278fe8293f539e46e5ed03a6c34d8e481dcb4c6bdbb29b441c7c0e.jpg
http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/visual/whatshot/Masahiro-Tanaka-Yankees-MRI-arm-070914.jpg
http://cdn.fansided.com/wp-content/uploads/usat-images/2017/02/9589624-mlb-al-wild-card-baltimore-orioles-at-toronto-blue-jays-850×560.jpeg
http://ww2.hdnux.com/photos/60/26/63/12676333/3/1024×1024.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/__uH6svaaRV4/TLKOz5UEpkI/AAAAAAAABcU/Y_rNr6wVGu8/s1600/Avs+PRICE+Drop.jpg
https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2017/03/xas_Southern_North_Carolina_Basketball_75533-dafa5.jpg&w=480
http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/46/72/71/10202711/3/920×920.jpg
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/haxlbl/picture141459964/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/brandon%20moss