Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

Let the Circus Begin- Round One Thoughts

Round 1 is officially in the books, and football fans can’t help but get excited for next season. The top of the draft went smoothly, with consensus top prospects Cam Newton, Von Miller, and Patrick Peterson all going in the top 5. It wasn’t until the Tennessee Titans selection of Jake Locker that dictated the rest of the first round. By taking Locker, a better athlete than quarterback who struggled in his senior season at Washington, other teams felt the pressure to over-draft, while others decided to let the best remaining prospects come to them.

With the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens making first day “moves,” John and I can both breathe a sigh of relief. The Redskins, who initially held the tenth pick, elected to switch picks with Jacksonville in exchange for the Jaguars’ 49th overall pick. Meanwhile, the Ravens provided some excitement by passing on their selection. After thinking they had a trade in place with the Chicago Bears, something fell through, and the Ravens allowed the Chiefs to move up one spot to take former Pitt product Jonathan Baldwin. The Ravens still got their cornerback in Jimmy Smith, whose lack of excitement after the announcement has already generated some buzz online.

Here are John Sisson’s thoughts on the Redskins pick of Ryan Kerrigan, and his thoughts and expectations of tomorrow:

The Washington Redskins are not a team to play it safe in the Dan Snyder era; that was until Mike Shanahan came along. I think their philosophy in this draft was to bring in blue collar guys onto the struggling offensive and defensive fronts. A lot of fans wanted and expected some “help us now” picks. I don’t think the redskins would be quite ready for that without the right moves.

The Pick: With pick 16 of the 2011 NFL draft the Washington Redskins select… Ryan Kerrigan, LB out of Purdue. Wait! Did he just say 16? Where’s our QB? The Washington Redskins traded out of the number 10 spot to pick up the 16th overall pick of the first round plus an additional 2nd round pick from the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Ryan Kerrigan they get a guy who can stick his hand in the dirt and play ball. A safe pick for the Redskins who can’t afford a failure in the draft without a base for this aging team. They solidify their linebacking corps with this pick and show me that their priority is to build a team for the future.

What to expect tomorrow: Watch for the Redskins to pick up a guy like Stephen Wisniewski, OC, out of Penn State. This gives hope to a unit that you could say is “out of touch” on the football feild. He’s young, he’s big, and he’s good. With a lack of Centers in free agency this is a guy to build the interior of your offensive line around.

I expect the Redskins to make a move for a WR in this round too. Look out for them to pick up either Leonard Hankerson, Greg Little, or Torrey Smith. They’ll address this position in the second round and in free agency.

One might ask why the Redskins wouldn’t take a Quarterback here. Perhaps they go after Andy Dalton or Ryan Mallett. Shanahan may want to build that core before he goes picking up someone who won’t take the reigns right away.

Here are Barry Kamen’s thoughts on the Ravens newest addition, and some insight into Round 2.

As Roger Goodell announced the Kansas City Chiefs pick at 26, I was in complete shock. The Ravens were picking at 26! How could this be?! Despite the discrepancy with Chicago, the Ravens had a plethora of prospects to choose from. Muhammad Wilkerson was my selection in our mock draft, and he was still available. However Jimmy Smith’s combination of size, speed, and shutdown corner skills were too much to pass up. With the pending free agencies of Chris Carr and Josh Wilson, it is now likely that the Ravens will only bring one of them back (hopefully Carr) to join a solid group that includes Dominique Foxworth, Lardarius Webb, and Cary Williams.

Looking ahead to round two, the Ravens will more than likely look to address the need at wide receiver. Only three wide receivers were chosen in round one, with the only surprise being Baldwin, a big-bodied target with his own slew of character issues. At 58, the Ravens will look to add one of the receivers that John eluded to. If Titus Young, a former Boise State standout, is available, the team would be silly not to take him.

If a wide receiver isn’t to their liking, the Ravens could search for offensive tackle depth. The Bengals strong selection of A.J. Green was countered with the drafting of Smith.  The Steelers selection of Cameron Hayward give them yet another great pass rusher who can put the hurt on Joe Flacco. In order to compete in the AFC North, a stable offensive line is necessary in order to open holes for Ray Rice and provide protection for Flacco. An intriguing prospect is TCU’s Marcus Cannon, who at nearly 365 lbs, would provide a dominating presence, both in the trenches, as well as the buffet line.

With six more rounds to go, the drama and excitement surrounding the NFL Draft has just begun. Look for our thoughts later in the weekend as both the Ravens and Redskins continue to do their homework. The circus has only begun, and we cannot wait to see the Patriots kick off Day Two.

April 27, 2011

The Ultimate Sports Comedy- Mocking the 2011 NFL Draft

This year i’ve seen more discussion on the draft than ever before. Barry Kamen and I will be crazy enough to take the challenge to mock the entire draft for our teams. The problem with this year’s draft is no one knows what anyone will do. They may have ideas, but simply put, this year depends much on what decisions teams will make. If the QB trend occurs than that allows a lot of skill players and defenders to fall into the second and late 1st round. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be several first and second round surprises. There will be reaches and falls all across the board as the teams play the ultimate game of Roulette Las Vegas style.

With all of this being the case our coveted DMV teams will be right in the thick of things making moves to affect the future of their francises. We’ll start with the Redskins because they are right in the thick of what is likely to be biggest draft changing section of picks in draft history. With pick number 10 they can go in several directions as far as moving up or down in the draft. In addition to that, they have several glaring needs. Expect the Redskins to chase one player or pick the best talent left at their spot. Let’s look at their needs:

Redskins 2011 glaring needs: QB, OL, WR, OLB, DL

The redskins are likely to go offense here; Mike Shanahan’s love for the offensive side of the ball will definately see a priority to add quality talent early here. Don’t be surprised however if they take a need at DE or OLB if the WRs don’t fall. Later in the draft defensive talent as well as OL talent will be available in the mid rounds. Watch for the redskins to trade into the 3rd round. Let’s take a look at round 1 of this draft.

ROUND 1

My pick: Julio Jones, WR– I’m going to jump on the bandwagon here. I think this is a safe pick for the skins. They cannot go QB this early unless Gabbert or Newton is on the board. Someone is going to come up to Dallas’s spot and take a QB or anyone that might slide to the skins. Teams aren’t going to take a WR this early with the talent at this position this year and I think that leaves the second best WR in the draft to fall to the redskins.

 

ROUND 2

My pick: Phil Taylor, DT– The Redskins have one glaring need on defense. Only one that will make or break their future next season. That is DL, particularly NT. This guy is one of those that will fall a few spots because of the weird draft. He could start day one and make a solid presence in this 3-4 defense. The Skins pass on Mallet here because he’s gone. Teams are going to go crazy as soon as Gabbert is off the board. Miami or the 49ers may take a look at Mallet and that’s the only guy Shanahan will pick up this late in the draft. The skins will be satisfied with Phil Taylor at this spot.

TRADE ALERT!!!– Watch out for the skins to use their plethora of mid and late round picks to trade into the third round. A lot of steals will be available in this round and the redskins have enough picks to trade in here. Look for them to take a OLB or OL in this round. (The mock draft will not reflect a trade, however, it is very possible it will happen.

Round 5

My picks: Kris O’Dowd C– With Stephen Wisniewski off the board before the redskins pick in round 2 they are going to want to start taking some prospects at the interior of their offensive line. Look for them to take the most talented OC left on the board.

Ricky Elmore DE– The skins are going to look to add some young talent to their line for the future. Look for them to take a DE or OLB here. I imagine their going to take Ricky Elmore as the best talent in these areas left on the board that will fit in their system.

Round 6

My picks: Akeem Dent ILB- The skins find a solid presence at middle linebacker in years future with this pick in round 6.

Round 7

My picks: Evan Royster RB– The Redskins go back to offense here. Mike Shanahan finds those late round RB’s because of his scheme he is no miracle worker. They’ll pick this guy up and add them to their young RB group. If they can build their line he’ll make a decent first year impact being 3rd string.

Andrew Jackson G– The Redskins are going to address their line here in hope to find a late round steal for the future. This is one of the possibilities at this position.

Caleb Schlauderaff, G– This kid has a lot of brains and the skins are hoping that helps to add depth or maybe a steal in round 7.

 

The Baltimore Ravens look to take their offense to the next level in this year’s draft with one or two peices for added depth. Defensively they still rank amongst the top the league but the age is slowly showing itself. If they Ravens don’t address that now they could find themselves figuring out their offense while their defense begins to fall apart at the seams.

Ravens 2011 glaring needs: CB, OC, DE, SS

 

1st Round (26th Pick) Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple
This 6-4, 305 lb has the versatility that new D-Coordinator Chuck Pagano will love. With the ability to play inside and outside on the 3-4 line, Wilkerson will be a threat to rush the passer from any down position. Wilkerson surprised scouts by leaving Temple early, and the Ravens would love to add him to their rotation.

2nd round (57) Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Smith initially flew up draft boards with his blend of size and great speed. However, Smith has lost some of his value to the new kickoff rules, where he looked to offer some serious value as a returner. Nonetheless, the Ravens would be thrilled to get him here, providing Joe Flacco a legitimate deep threat who will benefit from being around Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

3rd round (90) Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
The little-known House has good size (6-0 ½, 195) and speed (4.50) that the Ravens secondary could desperately use. While there will be some necessary transition time, House has the makings of a starting cornerback in the near future. His ability to play physical press and man coverage has gone over well with scouts, and the Ravens have been known to take small-school cornerbacks in the third round. Here’s to hoping that House turns out more like Lardarius Webb than David Pittman.

Round 4 (123) Zach Hurd, OL, Connecticut
At a shade under 6-7 and weighing 325 lbs, Hurd has a great frame that will make him a prime commodity for teams looking for offensive line depth. He is comfortable playing both guard and tackle, and could get a long look in the preseason to determine his top backup position. If he winds up in Baltimore, Hurd’s run-blocking skills will push Chris Chester for the top backup guard position.

Round 5 (164) Josh Bynes, MLB, Auburn
As an Alabama guy, Ozzie Newsome may have trouble giving Joe Hortiz the green light on this pick. But all you have to do is put on film of Bynes to know why he is of great value at this selection. Bynes was a tackling machine for the national champions, leading the team with 73 total tackles, along with 3 interceptions. With an obvious mentor in Ray Lewis, Bynes could be the team’s middle linebacker of the future.

Round 5 (165) Ricky Elmore, OLB/DE, Arizona
Elmore fits the mold of a ‘tweener’ that the Ravens have been able to rely on over the years. With his size (6-4, 260) and pass-rushing abilities (11 sacks his senior season), Elmore has the great value teams look for in the mid to late rounds. While we cannot expect him to become the next Adalius Thomas, the former Wildcat has all the tools to rack up sacks as a complement to Terrell Suggs.

Round 6 (180) John Clay, RB, Wisconsin
This may be too high of a selection for someone like Clay, who is seen by many as a one-dimensional runner with very little NFL value. However, at 258 lbs, the Ravens have a need for a big back who could be the thunder to Ray Rice’s lightning. If he shows a willingness to line up at fullback and play special teams, Clay could turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

Round 6 (191) DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Miss
By this point, the Ravens look for a low-risk, high-reward player in the former Golden Eagle. At 6-6, there is hope that a big-bodied receiver is just what Joe Flacco needs in the red zone. Despite running a 4.6 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, Brown still has value as a situational receiver.

Round 7 (225) Josh Portis, QB, California (PA)
Local sports fans may recall Portis, a former Terp who was forced to leave the university after getting caught cheating on an exam. At the Division II level, Portis thrived, setting school records in passing yards(3,421) and touchdowns (36). After receiving an invite to the Combine this year, it seems that Portis has been back on the radar for some teams looking for a backup quarterback. With some mobility to his credit, Portis seems like a solid seventh round selection who could help bring back the Suggs Package.

 

 

April 26, 2011

Movin’ on up…Washington Redskins may look to take a huge risk

Recent rumours have surfaced today announcing that the Washington Redskins are trying to move up into the top 3 to pick up what we assume is a QB. While the skins could be making a move for Von Miller at OLB or AJ Green at WR; I’m going to believe the hype and feel that the skins have found their guy. They aren’t going up to get my favorite QB in this draft Ryan Mallett (complete sarcasm, read our first article). They’ll move up to get one guy who they believe will develop into a top quarterback for years to come. That guy is none other than….

BLAINE GABBERT! Not Cam Newton because he is too much of a risk to pick this early. While he may fit better in the Washington system than most teams drafting in the top 15 I believe they are making this move to take Blaine Gabbert. He’s an intelligent QB that is ready to lead early on in his career. He has an arm ready for the pros. A lot of people worry about the spread offense he ran in college, however, it’s an overrated worry. Plus this guy knows how to take snaps. He’s been preparing for the NFL for quite some time so the adjustment won’t take long. Look for him to start for the skins in 2012 or towards the end of the 2011 season.

April 24, 2011

Ravens Report- What to Do at 26

The Needs: CB, OT, DE

After another strong season that ended in much disappointment, the Ravens find themselves picking in the bottom of the first round yet again. The top need for the Ravens is much like last year’s: a shut-down cornerback who can play the bump-and-run with opponent’s top receivers. Despite strong seasons from Chris Carr and Josh Wilson, the image of Antonio Brown’s catch in the 2nd round playoff game will haunt the Ravens for not addressing the cornerback issue last year. At 26, the Ravens are in a good position to land someone like Colorado’s Jimmy Smith if they so choose.

Pundits and Ravens’ front office members will tend to disagree on the need at offensive tackle. After moving Michael Oher from the right side to the left side, the offensive line was somewhat disappointing. With Jared Gaither out for the season, the team was forced to move Marshal Yanda to right tackle, moving perennial backup Chris Chester to the starting right guard position. Oher struggled all year with false-start penalties, and there has been many who question his ability to handle the blind-side responsibilities. The team seems pleased with Oher at the left tackle position, and are excited by the potential of Ramon Harewood, a sixth-rounder last year, who could fight for the starting right tackle job, allowing Yanda to move back inside. Depending on who is available, the Ravens may take an offensive tackle like Mississippi State’s Derrek Sherrod, Colorado’s Nate Solder, or Villanova’s Ben Ijalana.

It wouldn’t be another NFL Draft if the Ravens weren’t in the market for a defensive end who can play the run and put pressure on the quarterback. Looking for that next player to complement Terrell Suggs, there are a number of DE/OLB types who have been given high first-round grades that seem just out of the Ravens’ reach. Look for them to nab a pass-rusher in the middle rounds.


Trade Bait

Last year, the Ravens opted to trade out of the first round and stockpile draft picks, and this year could be no different. With each day that passes, it appears that teams are more and more enamored with this year’s quarterback class. Guys like Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, and Christian Ponder all came into the offseason with solid 2nd or 3rd-round grades. Now, three have risen up draft boards, and could all be chosen in the first round. There are quite a few teams in need of a quarterback, and many will consider trading back into round one to get their guy.

The Pick

At 6-2, 205 lbs. Jimmy Smith has the size at cornerback that scouts love. While no one questions his talent, it is Smith’s character issues that have caused him to fall on some team’s draft boards. However, Mel Kiper Jr. has moved Smith up to number 16 on his, “Big Board,” which worries some Ravens fans if he will be around when the Ravens are on the clock.

The consensus pick amongst sports writers and draft gurus is that Smith will be wearing purple and black next year. The character flaws will not deter the Ravens from picking any player, as locker rooms leaders like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will nurture a guy like Smith if he is in need of a role model.

Personally, I think the Ravens will opt out of round one yet again. Too many teams will come calling, and many will jostle for position to get the likes of Kaepernick, Dalton, Ponder, and even Ryan Mallett. The possibility of bringing in more players to add depth at other positions will be too much for Ozzie Newsome and the gang to pass up.

April 19, 2011

The Ryan Mallet Conspiracy

There has been recent news “confirming” what the Washington Redskins are doing with pick number 10 in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Reports have surfaced that the Redskins are locking in on Ryan Mallett (QB out of Arkansas) at that pick. Here are reasons why the Redskins marriage with Ryan Mallett may not be a lock at number 10:

The Redskins have needs- I think it’s clear that the Washington Redskins have a plethora of needs. First of which is the interior of the offensive line. Without this need met, it does not matter who is behind center. Ryan Mallett, not being a mobile quarterback is going to need an offensive line here to have any kind of success his first year. Are the skins going offensive line with their first pick? The answer is “probably not” because there isn’t an offensive lineman worthy of this spot. With that said what about the talent of an A.J. Green or Julio Jones at this spot? Talent wise it’s a better buy and a need we have that should make any quarterback here look better. We also look at the talent of Mark Ingram at runningback, various talented DE/OLB which would help complete our defense. There are too many directions to go with this pick. Why set your sights on one who barely warrants a first round selection so early?

Trade Bait– I would personally like to shake hands with the Redskins staff member who came up with the idea of telling everyone Ryan Mallett was going to the Redskins at number 10. It’s ingenious as far as raising your stock for that number 10 spot. Even if they are going the Ryan Mallett route you know they aren’t going to take him at number 10. They are going to use this hype to trade down and pick up some new picks in the 2nd and 3rd. If this happens you can feel very confident with the Redskins decisions. This “leak” is a great opportunity to gain interest in the number 10 spot.

Most important Draft– This draft could be considered the most important draft in a very long time. This does not exclude the Redskins. It was not only important for their remodeling of their franchise, but exceedingly important because we have no idea when Free Agency will take place. There is no trading players until this is solved. With questions surrounding Free Agency teams have to be sure to solve their needs through the draft the best way possible. With so much unknown it’s hard to tell what any team will do in this draft.

Ryan Mallett?– All offseason we’ve been hearing a lot about the quarterbacks in this draft. Something we normally hear every single season when the draft nears. Quarterbacks are generally overhyped and claimed to be taken earlier than they usually are. Especially in recent years when talent at this position has been sub-par. Many of these quarterbacks don’t warrant a first round pick. Expect Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert to be off the board in the first 10 picks. Don’t expect Ryan Mallett to be taken so early. The only way he’ll be taken is if a team trades back and picks him up. Besides he’s probably going to be on the bench for at least half a season with the Redskins. Why pick him up so early?

Analysis: Everyone clearly has their own opinion on what the skins should do with pick number 10. I’ll let you guys know mine. I think the skins should pick up AJ Green or Julio Jones. It’s a gamble picking at WR this early but it could pay major dividends. With the giant talent pool at WR and these two guys being at the top, you have a definite offensive weapon at your side that can be utilized as soon as the OL and QB position is addressed. Offensive line can be addressed through free agency. There are plenty of young, talented Guards there. I don’t think there is a franchise quarterback available for the redskins, not one that doesn’t need time to develop. Why waste a good pick on addressing this need here when it’s not really addressed. Set up the rest of your offense and defense and get a veteran in there until you are ready to find your guy. My opinion seems like a gamble but when you really look at the options the Skins have it doesn’t look as dangerous. The Redskins are remodeling their franchise, not one quarterback away from success.