Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on a Sunday...

Let me go on record that I do not like the idea of the Falcons selecting Perish Cox in the 1st round. I am not sure when his draft status skyrocketed, but he seems like another Chris Houston. Cox has return skills, but also was suspended for the Cotton Bowl this year for violating team rules. Take Spiller, a DE, or another corner...

The Big East is clearly the top conference in college basketball this year. There are currently 5 Big East teams that would be top 4 seeds right now and at least 3 more teams that would receive bids. One that may get left out this year if they don't pick it up is UConn...

On the flip side, the Pac-10 will struggle to get more than their automatic bid. Cal looks like the best team now and Washington and ASU have shown glimpses, but no team in that league has fewer than 6 losses. I think on the West Coast - Gonzaga, UNLV, BYU, and New Mexico are all better than every team in the Pac-10...

What was with the Devan Downey love-fest on ESPN this week? Sure, he is a good player, but he did shoot 9-29 in that game. The player of the year talk was a little much. Kentucky was bound to lose a conference game or 2 on the road this year with so many young players, could UGA pull one out in Athens?

Speaking of UGA hoops, they have a chance to be pretty good next year. The majority of the team will return and point guard Gerald Robinson Jr will be eligible. Robinson is sitting out this year after transferring from Tennessee State, where he averaged 17 ppg and was 2nd team All Conference. Put him at the point with Leslie on the wing and Thompkins inside and that looks like a tournament team...

Top 10 college hoops as of Sunday morning...

1. Villanova
2. Syracuse
3. Kansas
4. Kentucky
5. Georgetown
6. Kansas St
7. Purdue
8. Texas
9. Michigan St
10. West Virginia

Friday, January 29, 2010

Signing day is near...

With signing day next week, I thought it was interesting when I looked back at the top recruiting classes (according to since 2002. The results showed that every team that has finished #1 in recruiting has also won a national title. Here is a look at the top classes and who some of their 4 and 5 star recruits were that gave them the recruiting title.

Year -
School - Key signings

2002 - Texas - Justin Blalock, Rodrique Wright, Vince Young
2003 - LSU - Justin Vincent, LaRon Landry, JaMarcus Russell, Dwayne Bowe
2004 - USC - Fred Davis, Keith Rivers, Dwayne Jarrett
2005 - USC - Rey Maualuga, Mark Sanchez
2006 - USC - Stafon Johnson, Taylor Mays, CJ Gable
2007 - Florida - Carlos Dunlap, Chris Rainey, Aaron Hernandez, Ahmad Black
2008 - Alabama - Julio Jones, Mark Ingram
2009 - Alabama - Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick
2010 - Florida - Matt Elam, Ronald Powell

Monday, January 25, 2010

NFL Draft – Redskins edition

With several Redskins fans that following this blog, I thought they would enjoy a read on their very important 2010 draft. With a new GM, head coach, and QB questions as usual, what new GM Bruce Allen does in this off-season could go a long way towards re-energizing a fan-base that had a horrible 2009.

There are some positive aspects of the current edition of the Skins. Brian Orakpo became a Pro-Bowler as a rookie and the defense was strong, especially when Albert Haynesworth was healthy. Jason Campbell showed some life towards the end of the season, and Fred Davis and Devin Thomas finally look ready for starting roles.
So what are Washington biggest needs this off-season?

In no particular order:

1) Figure out what to do with Portis
2) Decide on Campbell ’s future
3) Re-sign Carlos Rogers or get a comparable replacement
4) Upgrade the OL
5) Get a DE pass rusher

Dan Snyder has money and the 2010 season may be uncapped. If that happens, several of these needs can be taken care of with big checks. However, the draft is where franchises are made. If you have to sign a backup LB/CB veteran to play special teams and can’t plug in a recent draft pick, you will eat up a ton of salary cap space. Drafting players in rounds 1-2 that are instant starters and middle round guys (3-5) that make your team and top 44 consistently will go a long way towards creating a winning franchise.

Portis seems done to me. He spoke after the season about considering retirement and I just don’t think he has the juice left to be an elite runner anymore. I think Campbell will be fine under Shanahan as drafting a QB is usually hit-or-miss and not many veterans are available via trade. Solid lineman on both sides of the ball are available in the draft and free agency. This seems like the best way to re-build a team. Start from the line and work out while snagging stud backs and corners when they become available.

When Bruce Allen was in Tampa , they were mediocre at best at QB (Griese, Gradkowski, Garcia) and while part of that was due to Gruden, Allen still avoided taking a QB in the 1st round. Here are the 1st round picks he made in TB (Cadillac Williams (RB), Davin Joseph (OT), Gaines Adams (DE, RIP), Aqib Talib (CB). The only quarterbacks Allen drafted were Gradkowski (6th round) and Josh Johnson (5th round).

If this trend continues, Campbell should get a 1-2 year deal to remain the quarterback and the 1st round pick can be used on the O-line. Russell Okung of Oklahoma State is projected as the top tackle in the entire draft and instant starter.

Round 2 could be the time to grab a playmaker at the running back position. Jahvid Best should be around at this point and makes a lot of sense as a Portis replacement. He has big-play ability and could fit nicely into the mix at running back with Gaither.

Although they play in a tough division, I don’t think Washington is that far away. Shanahan would not have taken a job if he didn’t think he could win fairly quickly. With the right moves, this team could be back near or above .500 in 2010 and build a foundation for the next several years.

Either way, it has to be comforting knowing that Vinny Ceratto and Jim Zorn are no longer the Redskins braintrust…

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Falcons thoughts...

It's been a while, but here are some end of the year Falcons musings...

Thank heavens the dreaded back-to-back winning seasons curse is finally off the Falcons back. It was a horrendous statistic that showed the inconsistencies of a poorly run franchise with even worse luck at times. But now that the team has put together back-to-back winning seasons, what is next? First, let’s put this year in perspective. It is no secret that the 2009 version of the Falcons went from playoff hopeful to playing for nothing down the stretch coincided with the Matt Ryan injury. It makes it a little easier to take knowing a win over the Giants would not have been enough to get in, but the last 2 weeks would have been a little more fun to watch.

Now, what needs to be addressed for 2010 to take another step in the right direction? First, the secondary needs a quick upgrade. There could be an uncapped year and Art can spend top dollar on free agent DB’s, or build through the draft. It has been mentioned on here that Joe Haden would be an excellent pick, but I doubt he will be around when the Falcons pick (19/20). Donovan Warren from Michigan and Kareem Jackson from Alabama have declared and are solid CB prospects that may be good fits.

However, there is another draft strategy that may be more effective. What about CJ Spiller with the Falcons 1st pick? Norwood has to be near the end of the road and has had injury issues the past few seasons. Turner can only have a couple more years left as a feature guy. Who better to bring in and use right away as a return guy and 3rd down back? He would give the Birds a huge special teams threat and be a potential feature back in 2-3 years. He may not be around at 19/20, but he would be an intriguing option if he is…

Another option is Javier Arenas from Alabama , who is a solid CB and a gifted return man. There are other CB options at the top of a lot of draft boards, but I would be hesitant to take Patrick Robinson from FSU or Trevard Lindley from Kentucky . Both are very gifted physically, but have had injury issues that make them risky.

If the Falcons decide to go the free agent route, I think the best available are Carlos Rogers (WAS), Richard Marshall (CAR), and Dunta Robinson (HOU). Either way, there needs to be an upgrade made in the secondary, along with some sort of pass rusher. It is painful to look at the sack numbers and see that Babineaux led the team from the DT spot. Abraham is likely gone and a big-time rusher from the end needs to be acquired (Marcus Spears?).

Now that we know Gonzo will be back, the offense might be in pretty good shape already. Another receiver would certainly help, but not before the defense is improved. I trust Dimitroff more than any other Atlanta GM ever besides Schuerholz, so lets get after it Tom and get this team better…