Friday, April 29, 2011


Well, as unrealistic as most of us thought it was, the Falcons moved up last night in the 1st round to draft WR Julio Jones out of Alabama. He happens to be a guy I have been high on as far as his NFL prospects, but I never thought until around 6 pm last night that he could end up in Atlanta.

Thomas Dimitroff gave up a lot to move up, but I trust his judgment that Julio may be the piece that puts the team in the Super Bowl. His strength, speed, and size are not seen often in the NFL and I compare him to a little bigger version of Sidney Rice.

So, what did the Falcons give up and why were they able to give up so much? The swap of 1st rounders this year, 2nd/4th this year, and 1st/4th next year is a lot, but again, trust in TD.

The reason the team could afford to make this move was that they have drafted so well the past few years. The 2007 draft produced Jason Snelling (7th round), Stephen Nicholas (4th), Justin Blaylock (2nd), and Jamal Anderson (1st) that all have been and will continue to be big contributors.

In 2008, the Falcons picked a bunch of future starters with Matt Ryan and Sam Baker (1st), Curtis Lofton (2nd), Harry Douglas (3rd), Thomas DeCoud (3rd), and Kroy Biermann (5th).

The 2009 draft brought in William Moore (2nd), Chris Owens (3rd), Lawrence Sidbury (4th), and Vance Walker (7th). Last years draft produced Sean Weatherspoon (1st), Corey Peters (2nd), Mike Johnson (3rd), Joe Hawley (4th), Dominique Franks (5th), and Shann Schillinger (7th).

When you have that many draftees make your roster as starters, special teams contributors, and back-ups, you can build a team of young and talented players and gain the flexibility that the Falcons exercised last night.

Now, lets get Julio on the field and healthy for September. And hope he turns out better than the last time the Falcons traded up in the 1st round for a WR, in 2004 for Michael Jenkins.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

RSM Mock Draft

One of the best events of the year starts tonight, the NFL Draft. After months of speculation, we will finally have the 1st round revealed to us tonight. The Panthers hold the top pick, and after much deliberation, it appears they have settled on Auburn QB Cameron Newton as the top choice. There will be a lot of jockeying for position tonight, as many top prospects at DE and QB will determine trades and picks. Here is the best bet for the draft tonight according to RSM, let's see how many we get right...

1) Carolina - QB Cameron Newton, Auburn - The Panthers think Cam is the franchise QB they need and will take the risk and pick the AU QB.

2) Denver - LB Von Miller, Texas A&M - John Elway seems sold on Miller as his pick at #2. Von should be an elite player and has shot up draft boards the past few months.

3) Buffalo - DE Marcel Dareus, Alabama - Dareus is an absolute monster and played in a 3-4 in college, which should make him an instant starter for the Bills.

4) Cincinnati - WR AJ Green, Georgia - With WR being such a glaring need for the Bengals, their QB situation is put aside and the top WR in the draft becomes an easy pick.

5) Arizona - CB Patrick Peterson, LSU - Peterson is at the top of a lot of team's draft boards, so a trade here may occur. Teams like Houston that need lots of help at corner may give up a bunch of picks in 2011/2012 to grab a cover corner and return man as good as Peterson.

6) Cleveland - DE Robert Quinn, UNC - Although the brain tumor and lack of playing time are concerns, the Browns won't pass on an elite pass rusher like Quinn. There is a chance Julio Jones goes here, as Cleveland needs big-time help at WR, but I think they end up going with RQ.

7) San Francisco - CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska - It appears the 49ers want to go defense with this pick, and they are in desperate need of a corner with Nate Clements getting older and having a large contract. Another spot, like #3, where Blaine Gabbert could go.

8) Tennessee - DT Nick Fairley, Auburn - Fairley has top 3 talent, and some teams question his work ethic and the fact that he played just one year in big time college football. But the upside, talent, and strength of Fairley coupled with the ability to reunite with his position coach from AU, Tracy Rocker (hired by Tennessee earlier this year) will be enough to allow another team in need of a QB to pass on Gabbert.

9) Dallas - OT Tyron Smith, USC - The Cowboys decide that shoring up their OL with the top OT prospect is more important than addressing their need at DE. They could certainly go Quinn here if he drops, and JJ Watt is another guy that would fit well in Big D.

10) Washington - WR Julio Jones, Alabama - The Skins need a big-time WR threat, and Jones showed at the combine that he is a rare combination of size, speed, and strength.

11) Houston - DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri - The Titans hope Prince Amukamara falls to them, and may trade up for him or Peterson if they feel they must address their need at corner in the draft. But, if the price is too high (which it usually is) Smith is the likely selection.

12) Minnesota - QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri - If Gabbert goes to Buffalo/SF/Tennessee and is off the board, I don't think the Vikes take Locker. After giving away their 3rd round pick in the Randy Moss trade, look for Minnesota to trade down for a QB and try to get that 3rd rounder back. Gabbert falling in their lap is definitely best case scenario.

13) Detroit - OT Anthony Costanzo, BC - Detroit is in desperate need of a corner, but the top 2 will certainly be gone by 13. The Lions could look to move up, or reach and take Brandon Harris out of Miami. The RSM pick here is Costanzo as the front office has stated that protecting Matt Stafford is one of their off-season priorities.

14) St Louis - DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue - With Julio Jones off the board, Steve Spagnuolo does what he likes to do, load up on pass rushers. JJ Watt is also a possibility here as well as DT Corey Liegut from Illinois.

15) Miami - RB Mark Ingram, Alabama - The Dolphins really need to make their offense more exciting, and the best RB on the board Ingram is the pick here. Several mocks have Mike Pouncey here, but I think if Miami ends up with him, they trade down.

16) Jacksonville - DE JJ Watt, Wisconsin - Another team with a QB need that will not reach for any of the 2nd tier of QB's. Watt is a great value here and will ease the blow of wanted man Ryan Kerrigan not beaning available.

17) New England - DE/DT Cameron Jordan, Cal - This could be a spot for a team that is in need of a QB to trade up for one of the 2nd tier of QB's (Dalton, Mallett, Locker, Ponder). New England has a history of trading down, but if they stay at 17, Jordan offers the pass rushing and versatility that the Patriots covet.

18) San Diego - DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple - There's a chance that AJ Smith addresses the Chargers need at OT and takes Gabe Carimi, but Wilkerson is the best pass rusher on the board and fills another glaring need.

19) NY Giants - G Mike Pouncey, Florida - The G-Men go with Pouncey to fill a need on their offensive line. They could also go Carimi, but Pouncey is the best lineman available at this point.

20) Tampa Bay - DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa - The Bucs have made no secret that they want a DE with this pick. If they can't trade up, look for one of the top tier guys, look for Clayborn to be the pick.

21) Kansas City - OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin - Easy pick for KC as they really need at OT. Nate Solder from Colorado could also be the pick, but shoring up the OL is a prime off-season priority.

22) Indianapolis - OT Nate Solder, Colorado - Another team in need of an OT, the Colts and Chiefs hope these 2 OT's are available at 21/22.

23) Philadelphia - CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado - Another prime spot for a trade-up for a QB, as Philly would like to move down out of #23. The Eagles do need a CB and will not likely pass on Smith if he is available at 23 and they can't move down.

24) New Orleans - DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State - Heyward gives the Saints more depth on their DL and should make an immediate impact.

25) Seattle - QB Jake Locker, Washington - The Seahawks don't pass on the talented local star and get their QB of the future.

26) Buffalo - QB Christian Ponder, Florida St - The Ravens trade out of #26 as teams now want to trade up for their QB's now that Locker is off the board.

27) Atlanta - DE Brooks Reed, Arizona - The Falcons take the explosive pass rushing DE in hopes he develops into a sack machine in Atlanta.

28) New England - LB/DE Akeem Ayers, UCLA - The hybrid DE/LB from UCLA is a perfect fit for the Pats.

29) Cincinnati - QB Andy Dalton, TCU - The Bengals have to get a QB with the Carson Palmer debacle going on, and Dalton is their man as the Bears trade down and pick up multiple picks.

30) NY Jets - DT Corey Liuget, Illinois - The Jets take the best player available with Liuget and get another big body to throw into their DL rotation.

31) Pittsburgh - CB Brandon Harris, Miami - The Steelers address their need at CB by taking the 3rd best CB available in Harris.

32) Detroit - CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia - Detroit takes the leap and addresses their CB problem after GB looks to trade down when all their DE targets are off the board.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Falcons Draft Needs…

When looking at the Falcons and the upcoming draft, there are certainly needs that have to be addressed. The team could use upgrades or young talent at cornerback, defensive end, offensive line, wide receiver, running back, and tight end. Free agency is different this year with the lockout, which makes it more difficult to project how to fill some of these needs outside of the draft.

Looking at some mock drafts and projections, it seems most experts see the Falcons taking a defensive end with their 1st pick. As a Thomas Dimitroff supporter, I would be excited if he selects a DE with the 27th pick because I trust his talent evaluation abilities.

What intrigues me, though, is the possibility of Mark Ingram being available in that #27 slot. There are certainly other backs that could come in and be a solid back up to Michael Turner in 2011 in the later rounds, but no one else that could eventually develop into the next feature back in Atlanta. With almost 900 carries the last 3 years, Turner is most likely past his prime years and a young stud like Ingram seems like a good fit. He doesn’t overwhelm scouts with speed or size, but neither did Emmitt Smith.

The 2nd round will likely still have many DE’s, with as many as 9 going off the board in Round 1. The influx of DE’s and QB’s from picks 10-40 will likely drop some players projected as late 1st to early 2nd round picks down to #59, where Atlanta picks in Round 2. Allen Bailey is from Georgia and projects as a mid-to late 2nd round pick. If he is available at #59, I think he would be a steal. Also, there are some intriguing speed guys at receiver that are projected 2nd round picks in Randall Cobb, Jerrel Jernigan, and Torrey Smith. This trio also would provide depth in the return game as all have good speed and return skills.

The 3rd round looks like a round where there is tremendous depth in talent at cornerback. Curtis Brown, Johnny Patrick, Chimdi Chekwa, and Marcus Gilchrist are all talented corners that could provide needed depth in the Birds secondary.

If Ingram is unavailable or Dimitroff likes Clayborn, Heyward, Kerrigan, Watt, Jordan, Houston, Bowers, Ayers, or any other DE prospect in Round 1, there are 3rd round RB’s that could come in and help the depth need at running back. Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State, Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas, and Shane Vereen of Cal may be available with pick #91.

Tight End would likely be either a 1st round pick, with Kyle Rudolph of ND, or a 3rd round pick on Tennessee’s Luke Stocker. If OL is considered a 1st 3 round need, there are definitely talented players that could compete with the returning big men up front for playing time.
Here is what I hope will go down next Thursday/Friday:

1st – Mark Ingram, RB – Alabama
2nd – Allen Bailey , DE – Miami (FL)
3rd – Curtis Brown, CB – Texas


1st – Justin Houston, DE – UGA
2nd – Randall Cobb, WR/KR – Kentucky
3rd – Daniel Thomas, RB – Kansas State


Monday, April 4, 2011

20 Greatest Braves

Ok, ESPN New York now has a top 50 Yankees of All-Time list, so it is now necessary to compile one of the Bravos. Only statistics compiled while a member of the Braves are considered, and the entire franchise BOS-MIL-ATL history is also considered.

20. Ralph Garr had a very productive 7 year career with the Atlanta Braves. Playing all 3 outfield spots, he finished in the top 25 in MVP voting in 3 of his 4 years as an everyday player. His best season, 1974, Garr made the All-Star team while leading the NL in hits (217), triples (17), and batting average (.353).

19. Lew Burdette – A Milwaukee Brave from 1951-1962, Burdette was the #2 starter behind Warren Spahn for most of his time as a Brave. From 56-61, Burdette had his peak years, finishing in the top 25 in MVP voting 4 times, making 2 All-Star teams, and averaging almost 19 wins per year.

18. Brian McCann – Brain has an unreal beginning to his Braves career and figures to move up on this list the next few years. Already a 5-time All-Star at age 27, Brian also has 4 sliver slugger awards, 5 18+ home run seasons, and his 162 game average of .289/24/100 isn’t far off from Johnny Bench’s .267/29/103.

17. Joe Adcock – A Milwaukee Brave from 53-62, Joe has the crazy stat of compiling 18 total bases in 1 game, 2nd most in major league history to Shawn Green. Joe finished in the top 20 in MVP voting 4 times as a Brave, and was an All-Star in 1960. He hit 233 home runs as a Brave, highlighted by hitting 38 in 1956 and leading the team to the World Series.

16. Fred McGriff – The Crime Dog was an integral part of the 1995 World Championship team, and his acquisition in July of 1993 was in the middle of the team’s peak seasons. Freddie was a 3-time All-Star as a Brave, finished in the top 20 in MVP voting once, and in the top 10 in 1994 (8th). His average season as a Brave is a very impressive .292/28/98.

15. David Justice – Justice makes this list for a number of reasons, most notably he had the biggest hit in Atlanta Braves history. His solo home run in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series was the only run scored and gave Atlanta its only World Championship. Justice also won Rookie of the Year in 1990, went to 2 All-Star games, and had 3 top 25 MVP finishes as a Brave. His 1993 season (3rd in MVP voting), where he hit .270/40/120 earned him a Sliver Slugger award as an outfielder.

14. Tommy Holmes – Holmes was an outfielder for the Boston Braves from 1942-1951. He is best known for his 1945 season as a Brave, where he led the league in hits, home runs, SLG%, OBP%, and total bases. During his time as a Brave, Holmes finished in the top 30 in MVP voting 5 times, highlighted by his runner-up MVP finish in 1945.

13. Javy Lopez – Our second Atlanta Brave catcher on the list also sports a very impressive 162 game average as a Brave. Lopez’s .286/28/96 average is right up there with Johnny Bench as well. Javy finished 5th in the 2003 MVP voting, where he had a career year of .328/43/109, one of the best seasons a catcher has ever had in major league history. He was a 3 time All-Star who also posted a very impressive .284/34/106 in 1998.

12. Rabbit Maranville - Our 2nd Boston Brave on the list is our first Hall of Famer to appear. Walter James Vincent “Rabbit” Maranville was a Boston Brave for 15 seasons from 1912-1935. He finished in . the top 20 in MVP voting as a Brave 5 times, including a 2nd and a 3rd in 1913 and 1914. In Rabbit’s 1st term in Boston, he was a slick-fielding SS, but later came back to Boston to play 2nd base as his career wore down. Only a .258 career hitter with 28 career home runs, some question his Hall of Fame credentials, but his defense and invention of the basket catch get him on the top Braves list with ease.

11. Johnny Sain – Sain was a dominant right handed pitcher that would have put up incredible numbers if he didn’t miss 3 seasons to fight in WWII. He won 20+ 4 times from 1946-1950 and finished top 25 in MVP voting 4 times, including 5th in 1946. As a Brave, he led the NL in complete games twice, innings pitched, and wins.

10. Dale Murphy – Old Dale was just about a Brave lifer, playing in Atlanta from 1976-1990. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 82-83, and had 3 other seasons finishing in the top 11. Murph hit 371 home runs as a Brave, and drove in 100+ runs 5 different times. Dale also played in 7 All-Star games and owns 4 Silver Slugger awards.

9. Andruw Jones – Jones had a remarkable run with the Braves from 97-07. He won 10 gold gloves, went to 5 All-Star games, and had 5 seasons finishing in the top 20 in MVP voting. Andruw’s best year, 2005, resulted in a runner-up MVP finish while leading the majors in home runs with 51. In his 12 year run as a Brave, Jones belted 368 home runs and was a part of 10 National League East Champion teams.

8. Phil NeikroKnucksie won 268 games as a Brave and was a 5 time All-Star. Phil was a 3-time 20 game winner as a Brave, led the league in complete games and innings pitched 4 times. He compiled 5 top 10 finishes in Cy Young voting and 3 top 20 MVP finishes.

7. John Smoltz – Smoltz, the franchise career saves leader, also was a dominant starting pitcher during the 14 year divisional championship run. Smoltz was the 1996 Cy Young award winner, and he finished in the top 7 in voting 4 other years. Smoltzie is a 8 time All-Star who has led the NL in wins and K’ twice, saves, and innings pitched.

6. Chipper Jones – When he retires, Chipper will go down as one of the greatest Braves, switch-hitters, and #1 overall draft picks of all-time. Chipper made an immediate impact as a Brave, batting 3rd on the 1995 World Championship team as a rookie. Since then, Chip has won an MVP award (‘99), batting title (’08), led the league in OPS (’07), and made 6 All-Star games. Besides ’99, Jones also has finished in the top 25 in MVP voting 11 times, including 8 top 12 finishes.

5. Tom Glavine – A 2-time Cy Young award winner, Glavine was a staple in Braves rotations from 1988-2002. He compiled a 244-147 record as Brave and was an 8 time All-Star. Tommy also had 4 seasons besides his 2 Cy Young award winner seasons where he finished in the top 3 in voting. He also led the league in wins 5 times from 91-00.

4. Greg Maddux – Mad Dog was virtually un-hittable in his 11 seasons as a Brave. He won 3 Cy Young awards, and finished in the top 5 in voting 4 other years. He was the NL ERA leader 4 times from 93-98 and won 10 Gold Glove Awards. Maddux was also the NL leader in his time as a Brave in wins (x3), W-L% (x2), CG’s (x3), Shutouts (x5), and Innings pitched (x5)

3. Eddie Mathews – Another Hall of Famer and member of the 500 HR club, Eddie is the only player who played for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He was a 9 time All-Star with 10 top 30 MVP finishes. He hit 493 home runs as Brave, and led the league twice with 46 and 47 in ’53 and ’59.

2. Warren Spahn - From 1942-1964, Spahn was the dominant pitcher in the Braves organization. He won 357 games as a Brave, including the Cy Young on the 1957 World Series Champion team. He is a 14 time All-Star, 15 time top 25 MVP finisher, and a 3-time Cy Young runner-up. A Hall of Famer, Spahn is considered one of the greatest left handed pitchers of all-time.

1. Hank Aaron – Our #1 Brave is the former Home Run King, Hank Aaron. Hammerin Hank was on 20 All-Star teams as a Brave, won the 1957 MVP and finished in the top 16 in MVP voting 19 times. He is the all-time Major League leader in RBI (2297) and total bases (6856). Hank also led the league in home runs (x4), runs (x3), hits (x2), doubles (x4), RBI (x4), AVG (x2), SLG (x4), OPS (x3), and total bases (x8).

MLB Predictions

Meant to put these up last week, but here they are anyway.

NL East

1. Philly
2. Atlanta
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. New York

NL Central

1. St Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Milwaukee
4. Chicago
5. Houston
6. Pittsburgh

NL West

1. Rockies
2. Giants
3. Dodgers
4. Padres
5. Diamondbacks

WC – Braves


Braves over Rockies
Phillies over Cardinals
Braves over Phillies

AL East

1. Red Sox
2. Yankees
3. Rays
4. Blue Jays
5. Orioles

AL Central

1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Royals
5. Indians

AL West

1. A’s
2. Rangers
3. Angels
4. Mariners

WC – Yankees


Red Sox over A’s
White Sox
over Yankees
Red Sox
over White Sox

World Series
over Red Sox

NL MVP – Dan Uggla
AL MVP – Adrian Gonzalez
NL Cy YoungRoy Halladay
AL Cy YoungJon Lester
NL ROY – Dominic Brown
AL ROY – Jeremy Hellickson