Archive for April, 2013

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A month ago, most baseball fans outside of Seattle did not even know who Casper Wells was. The former Detroit Tiger was a part of the 2011 Doug Fister deal that sent the All-Star right-hander to Detroit in exhange for Wells, Chance Ruffin, Francisco Martinez, and Charlie Furbush. Since then, Wells has hit .225-17-51 in 124 G with Seattle. But, the intrigue behind this tale does not lie in the numbers. Instead, it is the cruel reality that ballplayers have to live with; the constantly changing lifestyle that is being a professional baseball player. 

Unfortunately, teams can only hold 40 players on their restricted roster list. In order for a player to be placed on said team’s 25-man active roster, they must first be on the 40-man roster. In order to remove a player from that roster to put a new player on, the former must be placed on waivers, allowing any team to acquire him. 

For Wells, spring training was the kick off to a whirlwind tour of towns. This trek emanated from Seattle, where he played in 2011 and 2012. However, the Mariners’ acquisitions of Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse, and Jason Bay left no room on the 40-man roster for Wells. At the conclusion of the spring, Wells was designated for assignment. Ten days later, the Toronto Blue Jays were awarded a waiver claim on Wells, and the 28-year old became property of the only MLB team north of the border.

However, the rollercoaster ride did not end there. Twelve days later (and without ever playing in a game with the Blue Jays), Wells was traded to Oakland for cash consideration (in other words, he was sold to the Athletics for a bucket of balls and a pack of Big League Chew). Wells played three games in one week with Oakland, going 0-5 with a strikeout as a replacement for the injured Yoenis Cespedes. 

With Cespedes returning to Oakland last night, Wells was once again designated for assignment. Last night, work got out that the Chicago White Sox have acquired Wells from Oakland for “cash consideration.” They placed left-hander Leyson Septimo on the 60-day DL to make room on their 40-man roster.

In one month, Wells has gone from Seattle, to Toronto, to Oakland, and now to the south side of Chicago. No wonder he was 0-5 with Oakland. Imagine the jet-lag. Regardless, one thing is for sure. If Casper Wells has frequent flyer miles, his family will be enjoying plenty of free trips this winter when, hopefully, the Towson University alumnus finally finds a home. 

 

Do You Remember: Mike Grace

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

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In the mid-1990s, the Philadelphia Phillies were a franchise without a direction. They were just coming off a miracle National League pennant run in 1993, but, did not have the young players to develop in order to prolong success. Following that pennant, Philadelphia did not enjoy a winning season until 2001. Lost in the shuffle were many players who enjoyed sporadic success as the team endured prolonged failure.

One such player was Mike Grace. A 10th round pick in the 1991 draft out of Bradley University, Grace made his MLB debut in 1995 with the Phillies. That coming after he wowed in the minor leagues that season, finishing 15-6, 3.34 in 26 starts between Reading and Scranton/Wilkes Barre. That year, Grace appeared in two games for the Phillies, including seven shutout innings in Los Angeles against the Western Division champion Dodgers.

The following season, Grace made the starting rotation out of spring training. In his first start of 1996, the right-hander established himself as a Phillies’ regular. At home against Colorado, Grace tossed eight superb innings, surrendering just five hits and one run whilst striking out three to earn his second career victory by the final score of 3-1. By the end of April, Grace was 4-0, 3.12 in five starts.

On May 12th, 1996, Grace put together the finest performance of his career, out-dueling defending champion Atlanta and future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. His complete game, four hit shutout moved his record to 6-0, 2.34 that season. It also revved the engines of the Philadelphia hype-machine. After all, this was a city without a champion for thirteen years (and one that would not see another for over a decade more). Following that win, Philadelphia sat at 18-17, six games back of first place Montreal.

However, as is the case with many young pitchers, Grace felt the pain of overuse. In a 2-0 shutout on May 2nd, Jim Fregosi left Grace in for eight innings and 128 pitches. At just 26-years old, Grace’s arm gave in. After four more starts (and a 1-2, 6.45 mark over that span), Grace was lost for the season with an elbow injury.

Grace would not return to Philadelphia until the end of August, 1997. In his second start back, the Illinois native tossed a complete game shutout of the defending world champion New York Yankees, needing only 84 pitches to best the Bronx Bombers on September 2nd. That would be the last complete game that Grace would throw in the major leagues. After starting the following season 4-7, 5.66, Grace would be moved to Philadelphia’s bullpen. A brutal 1999 season that saw Grace finish with a 7.69 ERA would be the end of his five year major league career.

Grace would become a free agent at the turn of the millennium  He would spend two more seasons in affiliated baseball: 2000 with the Baltimore Orioles’ AAA club in Rochester and 2001 with the Dodgers’ AA team in Chattanooga. However, the once promising young pitcher would never reacquire his once batter-baffling arsenal, and retired following the 2001 season.

Overall, Mike Grace finished his MLB career 16-16 with a 4.96 ERA. His once fruitful future having devolved into nothing more than a promising past. It is the tale with many young pitchers, and an example as to why the Washington Nationals and many other teams have begun treating their youngsters with caution.

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Another season is over. For just the second time in 20 years, the Philadelphia Flyers will not be joining the party in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The good news is, I have come to grips with this for a few weeks now, and can focus my attention solely on the talented and exciting teams that did succeed in making the postseason in 2013. SkoodSports did not do an NHL preview due to the lockout. But, that does not mean that there cannot be a postseason preview. Who wants the cup?

First Round

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1. Chicago Blackhawks (37-7-5, 77 pts) vs. 8. Minnesota Wild (26-19-3, 55 pts)

Chicago went an NHL record 24 consecutive games to start the season with at least a point. They have cooled off a little bit since then. But, they’re still the class of the league and Minnesota, in spite of their offseason acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, do not play well enough in their own end to put up much of a fight.

The Pick: Blackhawks in 4

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2. Anaheim Ducks (30-12-6, 66 pts) vs. 7. Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8, 56 pts)

The streak is now at 22 for the Detroit Red Wings, who have made the playoffs every year since the first Bush administration. However, this Detroit team is devoid of some of the leadership that they have had in the past with the retirement of Nik Lidstom. They also do not have the forward talent or the defensive depth that Anaheim does.

The Pick: Ducks in 7

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3. Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7, 59 pts) vs. San Jose Sharks (25-16-7, 57 pts)

The age old question of who would win? The whale or the shark? The Canucks barely squeaked by Los Angeles and San Jose to win the Pacific, their stay in the playoffs will depend entirely on how well they play against their division rivals. San Jose swept Vancouver in three games this season.

The Pick: Sharks in 7

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4. St. Louis Blues (29-17-2, 60 pts) vs. 5. Los Angeles Kings (27-16-5, 59 pts)

This is a rematch from last year in which the Kings smoked the Blues en route to their first Stanley Cup. Both of these teams are strong defensively with good goaltending and sound coaching. But, Los Angeles has continued to have St. Louis’ number due to their offensive depth. That will remain the seem this series.

The Pick: Kings in 6

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 1. Pittsburgh Penguins (36-12-0, 72 pts) vs. 8. New York Islanders (24-17-7, 55 pts)

Pittsburgh took four of five from the Islanders this season, and have not lost in overtime all season. It would be humorous to see them lose their first overtime game of the season in the playoffs. But, I do not see it happening against the Islanders. Tavares and Moulson are great. But, Pittsburgh’s depth dwarfs New York’s.

The Pick: Penguins in 5

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2. Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5, 63 pts) vs. 7. Ottawa Senators (25-17-6, 56 pts)

Who would have thought after last season that Montreal would surge to the top of the East? The Canadiens have a solid top-six. But, they’re a bit undersized, and that should hurt them as the hits keep coming later in the playoffs. Still, Ottawa is not exactly a finished product.

The Pick: Canadiens in 7

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3. Washington Capitals (27-18-3, 57 pts) vs. 6. New York Rangers (26-18-4, 56 pts)

We have had the privilege of watching these two teams duel in the playoffs for four of the last five seasons now. Washington is one of the hottest teams in the league in the second half of the abbreviated season. The Rangers have been playing well, too. I see New York’s stars coming out to play.

The Pick: Rangers in 6

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4. Boston Bruins (28-14-6, 60 pts) vs. 5. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5, 57 pts)

The Bruins have not been playing their best hockey since the Boston Marathon bombings. But, Toronto has the least playoff experience of any team, having not made the Big Dance since 2004. One would be crazy to assume that a team with no playoff experience would beat a team with a ton of it, right?

The Pick: Bruins in 6

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The NFL is the most popular sports brand in the nation. Even your senile grandmother could probably name the primary logos for half of the teams in the league. But, what about the lesser known alternate and old logos that have had little chance to see the light of day? Here is a nice little look at the more unusual but aesthetically pleasing logos from the past and present:

Cincinnati Bengals – 1968-69 Primary Logo

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This logo has a very cartoonish appeal. The Bengals used this logo when they were a member of the AFL in the late-1960s.

Denver Broncos – Current Alternate Logo

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I had never seen this logo before. Just goes to show you how often some teams utilize their alternate logos. It is a bit strange. But, I enjoy the thought of a bronco dodging defenders a la Dante Hall.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Primary logo, 1976-96

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I don’t think anything reminds me of the 80s and 90s quite like this Tampa Bay logo. The orange creamsicle coloring that resembles today’s artificial tanning craze, the sexually ambiguous wink from the lonely (butt) pirate. It really doesn’t get any more Florida than this.

St. Louis Cardinals – Primary logo, 1960-69

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I always heard that the 60s were an unforgettably good time. I need no further proof than this logo from the St. Louis Cardinals. After moving from Chicago in 1960, the Cardinals spent 27 years in St. Louis. For 10 of them, the franchise thought it would be a fine idea to have a muscle clad, shirtless, football playing cardinal streaking towards the endzone and through the arch. Seriously, though, this is fine foreshadowing. After all, Mark McGwire played for the St. Louis Cardinals 30 years later, and the pictured steroid-infused bird certainly resembles Big Mac like none other.

San Diego Chargers – Alternate logo, 1997-2001

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This is a creative take on the old AFL Chargers’ logo from the 1960s. One doesn’t often associate the Chargers with a horse. But, their first logo was a shield with a horse and the famous lightning bolt. This was a pretty cool update at a time when the team was drafting superstars like Ryan Leaf.

Atlanta Falcons – Alternate logo, 1998-2002

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This is a cool one. Prior to the franchise completely altering their logo and uniform scheme for the 2003 season, the Falcons attempted to introduce more red into their logo (after they had abandoned their formerly red helmets a decade prior). I love the A combining with the Falcon’s F shape to remind witnesses of the franchise’s initials. Very creative.

New York Jets – Primary logo, 1963

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 The first logo the Jets ever used. This 1963 primary logo (from their first season in the AFL) is simple yet explanatory. Much better than their current logo, that has no semblance of a jet or plane anywhere in it.

Philadelphia Eagles – Primary logo, 1987-1995

961I am someone who actually likes the current Eagles logo and color scheme. The constant clamoring for the return of kelly green is a bit confusing. After all, it is not as if the team was a world beater when they wore those uniforms. But, one thing I know for sure. Nothing beats the old Eagles’ logo. The majestic bird with a football in her talons is just beautiful.

Houston Oilers – Primary logo, 1980-1996

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Maybe it is just nostalgia. But, the Houston Oilers uniforms, color scheme, and logo were and will always remain one of the best in football history. The combination of baby blue, red, and white is patriotic and aesthetic. Plus, the old fashioned oil derrick just screams Texas. Certainly more-so than a bull’s head.

Seattle Seahawks – Alternate logo, 2002-2011

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Last, but certainly not least, my all-time favorite logo. This rarely seen piece of art was the Seahawks’ alternate logo for a decade after they changed their color scheme in the early-aughts. Whomever drew this is brilliant, and it is a damn shame that the Seattle organization does not use it more.

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Beginning a new segment here at SkoodSports. This one is called, “Do You Remember?” It’s pretty self-explanatory. But, for the dumbfounded and dimwitted, this segment will remind Philadelphia fans of forgotten history. Often, the most interesting stories are the forgotten ones. SkoodSports is here to tell these stories.

The month was October, 1999, and the Phillies, under the guidance of General Manager Ed Wade and Manager Terry Francona, were coming off of a 77-85 season and their second consecutive third place finish in the National League East. The organization believed that it was time to begin aggressively pursuing upgrades to their roster. At the time, Philadelphia owned a $30 million payroll (amazing to think about considering how liberal they are nowadays with their payroll). Curt Schilling, the ace of the rotation for a decade, was scheduled to make $5.65 million in the final year of a 3 year, $15.45 million contract that contained a $6.5 million team option for 2001. 

Knowing that their ace was likely to leave within the next couple of seasons, the front office went out and tried to make a splash that offseason. On October 28th, the Milwaukee Brewers waived Hideo Nomo, who was scheduled to become a free agent later that week. Nomo, 30 at the time, was coming off a 12-8, 4.54 season with the Brewers and held a 61-49, 3.82 career mark at the time. Philadelphia, knowing that they did not have to relinquish any assets to claim the Japanese right-hander, claimed Nomo off waivers that day. 

The legend is that Nomo, who was in Tokyo at the time, was asleep when Philadelphia made the claim. When he awoke, it did not take long for the former NL Rookie of the Year to reject the Phillies’ contract offer. 

“We discussed our team and had a brief discussion about a multiyear deal,” former GM Ed Wade was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. “Both Nomura (Nomo’s agent) and Nomo liked our lineup, but, they felt that free agency was their best route at this time. They would like the opportunity to test the market.” 

Prior to being waived by the Brewers, Nomo had rejected Milwaukee’s overtures towards an extension for about $5 million a season. It’s likely that the Phillies were not willing to offer Nomo a contract significantly better than that amount, as their $30 million payroll lends to believe. The year prior, Milwaukee was able to poach Nomo from the New York Mets for just $250,000 after the former phenom was released by the Mets in spring training. 

After missing out on Nomo, who would go on to sign a $3.85 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, the Phillies instead traded Adam Eaton, Carlton Loewer, and Steve Montgomery on November 10th to San Diego for RHP Andy Ashby. The former Phillies’ return to the City of Brotherly Love did not go as planned, however. Ashby would struggle to a 4-7, 5.68 mark in 2000 prior to being dealt to Atlanta in July for LHP Bruce Chen. 

The Phillies would finish 65-97 in 2000, good for last place in the division. Schilling was dealt at the trade deadline to Arizona for RHP Nelson Figueroa, RHP Vicente Padilla, 1B Travis Lee, and RHP Omar Daal.

2013 NFL Mock Draft 4.5

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Update: Changes to picks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 25, 26, 29

PROJECTED TRADES INCLUDED

1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

It appears as though Joeckel will be the pick. When Andy Reid took over in Philadelphia in 1999, he already had Tra Thomas and then signed Jon Runyan to build a bookend duo at the tackle position. Joeckel, combined with Branden Albert (if he’s not dealt), will provide K.C. with a similar duo for years to come. 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
(Previously: T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan)

The #2 pick in this draft continues to be a mystery. Jacksonville would be smart to try to trade down. But, I doubt that there will be much of a market. Gus Bradley is a defensive minded coach, and Jacksonville is devoid of defensive playmakers. They’ll grab one here.

3. Oakland Raiders – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
(Previously: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida)

This is the first time I have put Fisher in this spot. The fact of the matter is that Oakland has holes throughout their entire roster. They may just be the worst team in football, as Mel Kiper stated on air the other day. They haven’t had a bookend tackle in years, and their last attempt to get one turned into Robert Gallery. If Oakland is content with moving into 2013 with Terrelle Pryor, they’ll need to protect him.

4. Miami Dolphins (Trade with Philadelphia) – T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

The first trade of the mock. Miami will package the #12 pick, the #42 pick, and a 2014 third round pick to move up and select the third tackle in this draft, Lane Johnson from Oklahoma. With Jake Long moving on to St. Louis, the Dolphins are desperate for a left tackle. Johnson is that last one available that is worthy of a top-15 pick.

5. Detroit Lions – DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU

Detroit lost Kyle Van Den Bosch and Cliff Avril this offseason. They need to reinforce their pass-rush in the draft. The coaching staff had a close look at Ansah in the Senior Bowl and is, according to WalterFootball.com, “smitten with him.”

6.  Carolina Panthers (Trade with Cleveland): DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida

Continuing the trend of trading up, the Carolina Panthers move from 14 to 6, surrendering the #44 pick  and a late round pick to swap places with Cleveland. The Panthers will grab Florida’s Floyd, combining the physical freak with Luke Kuechly, Charles Johnson, and Jon Beason to create a dynamic front-seven.

7. Arizona Cardinals – OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
(Previously: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma)

With the immobile Carson Palmer in tow, Arizona should focus on improving their disastrous offensive line. With the tackles gone, Warmack becomes the BPA on the line.

8. Buffalo Bills – WR Tavon Austin, WVU
(Previously: QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse)

There’s always one major reach in the first round. This season will see the Bills, who have needs on offensive line and at quarterback, select the speedy, undersized Austin instead of addressing some of their other needs. Austin would provide Buffalo with another speed demon along with CJ Spiller. But, who throws them the ball? Stay tuned.

9. New York Jets – DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU

The Jets desperately need to improve their pass rush now that they do not have the prowess of Darrelle Revis in the secondary. Mingo is the best rusher available, and will allow them to use the pick acquired from Tampa Bay on an offensive difference maker if they choose to do so.

10. Tennessee Titans – TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
(Previously: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama)

If Warmack were here, I’d see Tennessee jumping on him. But, he’s not. So, the Titans have to either go with Jonathan Cooper or address another need. At this point, no one’s stock is soaring like Tyler Eifert, with Mel Kiper even stating that he could see him going as high as #6 to Cleveland. I doubt that. But, Eifert would be a perfect fit for the Titans. They brought in Delanie Walker in the offseason, but lost Jared Cook. A young QB like Jake Locker needs a couple of reliable targets over the middle. The last thing that anyone can call Kenny Britt is reliable.

11. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Cooper, UNC

Part of me wants to put Tavon Austin here now that Warmack is off the board. After all, the Chargers have lost a lot of offensive talent the last few seasons and Philip Rivers’ stats have been affected dramatically. But, Rivers will not be putting up any stats unless the Chargers find him some protection. Cooper or Warmack, whomever is available, will be the pick.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (Trade with Miami) – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

The Eagles trade down and still get one of the guys on their board. Star Lotulelei may not have an easy name to spell or pronounce. But, he has all the characteristics of a stud nose-tackle in the NFL.

13. New York Jets (From Tampa Bay) – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

The Jets use the pick they got for Darrelle Revis to select his replacement. Injury questions have begun to surface regarding Milliner. But, getting the top CB in the draft at 13 is a nice consolation prize for dealing the best CB in football to Tampa Bay.

14. Cleveland Browns (Trade with Carolina) – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

This just seems like a Joe Banner pick. A raw, wiry defensive end with all the tools but no hard evidence of success. Cleveland picks up a couple of picks by trading down. Cleveland has had a long track record of selecting Florida State pass rushers.

15. New Orleans Saints – OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
(Previously: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah)

With Lotulelei no longer on the board, the Saints will address another aspect of their new 3-4 defense by grabbing a pass rusher in Jones. One of the top athletes in the draft, Jarvis Jones should provide adequate pass rush for a decade.

16. St. Louis Rams – FS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

A hybrid defender with the size, speed, and athleticism of elite safeties, Kenny Vaccaro’s stock has risen a bit thanks to a strong combine and the failures of others at his position. Known as a hard hitter in Austin, Vaccaro should step right in and give St. Louis’ defense an attitude that they have been missing for a long time.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
(Previously: LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia)

The Steelers might have to take DJ Fluker here. But, their defense has gotten older in recent years, and the foundation of their six titles has always been their defense. Rhodes is a big corner who can take pressure off the Steelers’ pass-rush.

18. Dallas Cowboys – DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

I flirted with Eddie Lacy in this spot. But, I was reminded by Cowboys fans that Jason Garrett could have Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton in the backfield and he would still line up for a 4th and inches with four wide receivers. Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense requires a quick, gap-penetrating defensive tackle. Who knows what the story is with Jay Ratliff? Sylvester Williams has shown that his first step is undeniably one of the best in the draft.

19. New York Giants – OT DJ Fluker, Alabama

Alec Ogletree would certainly fill a need. But, no one wins championships without a quality offensive line. Fluker is the best available, and he holds significant championship pedigree.

20. Chicago Bears – LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia

Without Brian Urlacher in the middle, the Bears will need to find a replacement for their former All-Pro MLB. Ogletree was the top LB available and would help infuse some youth into the new “Monsters of the Midway.”

21. Cincinnati Bengals – S Matt Elam, Florida

This hard-hitting safety is seeing his stock rise as the weeks go by. Elam combines decent cover skills with a reckless abandon that makes defensive coordinators salivate. Cincinnati has decent cover corners, but has not had the stellar “over-the-top” help that the best teams always do. After all, they have played Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed twice a year for the past decade.

22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) – WR Keenan Allen, California

The Rams are in need of a playmaker or two on offense. It remains to be seen whether or not Steven Jackson or Danny Amendola will return. But, even if they do, the Rams need a game breaker #1 type receiver that Amendola or Brandon Gibson just does not provide. Allen has speed and size that would certainly help Sam Bradford emerge from mediocrity.

23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee

The concern with Patterson here is that he really reminds me of Troy Williamson in that he has tremendous athleticism and size yet is very inconsistent. Still, teams rarely learn from their mistakes, and the Vikings are desperate for a deep threat to go alongside Greg Jennings.

24. Indianapolis Colts – S Eric Reid, LSU

Indianapolis improved their secondary last season by trading for Vontae Davis. Still, their D was far from above-average in 2012. Reid is the best safety available and will provide the Colts with a dynamite duo of he and Antoine Bethea.

25. Minnesota Vikings (From Seattle) – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
(Previously: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State)

The Vikings are going to be without veteran corner Antoine Winfield for the first time since 2003 after he signed with Seattle in the offseason. They desperately need to improve that secondary. Trufant has size, speed, and ability.

26. Buffalo Bills (Trade with Green Bay) – QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

Buffalo deals #41 and #71 to move up to #26 and grab their QB of the future. Nassib might not be the popular choice. But, he is Doug Marrone’s choice.

27. Houston Texans – WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee

ESPN’s Todd McShay believes that Justin Hunter will have a better career than his collegiate teammate, Cordarelle Patterson. Houston has not had a gamebreaker next to Andre Johnson since the former Miami Hurricane became a superstar.

28. Denver Broncos – DE Datone Jones, UCLA

The Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil in the offseason, and didn’t exactly have the most dynamic duo at defensive end prior to his departure, anyway. Jones has size (6-4, 283) and decent speed for an end (4.75).

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (Trade with New England) – QB Geno Smith, WVU

Bill Belichick loves to trade down. He will likely do it again. Especially if Geno Smith is still available. Jacksonville has the first pick in the second round. So, they’ll part ways with that pick #33 and a late round pick to move up four spots and grab Smith. New coaches mean new quarterbacks, especially if your current crop resembles Jacksonville’s.

30. Atlanta Falcons – CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Despite the fact that he’s got a very “Jrue Holiday” style first name, Banks deserves to go in the first 35 picks in the draft. At 6-2, 185, he is a big corner who would provide Atlanta with just what they needed after Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes left this offseason.

31. San Francisco 49ers – WR Robert Woods, USC

The 49ers will stay in-state and select Woods at the back end of the round. They would love to land one of the first round graded safeties, but they’re all off the board. Therefore, the 49ers should look at a wide receiver to surround Colin Kaepernick with weapons. Woods is flying up the draft boards after a great Pro Day in which he ran a 4.36 short shuttle and a 6.83 three-cone drill.

32. Baltimore Ravens – MLB Manti Te’0, Notre Dame

Manti Te’0 should be a first round pick. I was tempted to put him in a couple of earlier positions, such as Minnesota with one of their two selections. But, he ended up falling. If the Ravens are able to land him, they will gladly make the selection and replace Ray Lewis with the former Fighting Irish star.

2013 NFL Mock Draft 4.0

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Update: Changes to picks 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9. 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32

1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

It appears as though Joeckel will be the pick. When Andy Reid took over in Philadelphia in 1999, he already had Tra Thomas and then signed Jon Runyan to build a bookend duo at the tackle position. Joeckel, combined with Branden Albert (if he’s not dealt), will provide K.C. with a similar duo for years to come. 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Erik Fisher, Central Michigan

Gus Bradley knows defense. But, he also knows that no offense is going to succeed without a capable line. Bjoern Werner, who was previously mocked here, has seen his stock fall dramatically. Meanwhile, OT Erik Fisher put together one of the finest combines of anyone. Bradley will use his later picks to stock up on defensive players. Fisher’s rise will culminate with the first two selections being offensive linemen.

3. Oakland Raiders – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
(Previously: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama)

The consensus pick seems to suggest that Floyd is going to be a Raider come Thursday night. I personally think that Geno Smith has a good chance of being the pick. But, after the JaMarcus Russell fiasco, the Raiders cannot screw up another top-five pick on a QB. Floyd is one of the sure things of this draft, and will adequately replace Richard Seymour in the middle of their defensive line. 

4. Philadelphia Eagles – DE/OLB Dion Jordan
(Previously: QB Geno Smith, WVU)

If Fisher or Joeckel somehow fall here, they would immediately become the favorite to go to Philadelphia. Many believe the Eagles will grab Lane Johnson if the former two are not available. But, I am skeptical of taking the third best tackle in the draft at the fourth pick. Chip Kelly knows Dion Jordan, and his selection would provide the Eagles’ defense with an impressive group of pass rushers at OLB in the 3-4.

5. Detroit Lions – DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
(Previously: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Detroit lost Kyle Van Den Bosch and Cliff Avril this offseason. They need to reinforce their pass-rush in the draft. The coaching staff had a close look at Ansah in the Senior Bowl and is, according to WalterFootball.com, “smitten with him.”

6. Cleveland Browns – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
(Previously: WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee)

In my opinion, this is the earliest that Milliner should go. He is no Darrelle Revis (even though Revis went outside the top-10 when he was drafted), but, he is the best corner on the board and will be a #1 in the NFL eventually. Combined with Joe Haden, he will provide the Browns with a bona fide shutdown duo. Star Lotulelei or Lane Johnson are legitimate possibilities here. As is a trade.

7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

With the immobile Carson Palmer in tow, Arizona should focus on improving their disastrous offensive line. Johnson had a great Senior Bowl, and is as athletic as linemen come. A former high school QB and TE in his underclassman years with Oklahoma, Johnson would be the third tackle taken in the top seven.

8. Buffalo Bills – QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
(Previously: DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon)

Doug Marrone, Nassib’s head coach at Syracuse, is now the frontman in Buffalo. The most knowledgeable of experts are now suggesting that the former Orange signal-caller is fair game at #8.

9. New York Jets – DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
(Previously: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia)

The Jets desperately need to improve their pass rush now that they do not have the prowess of Darrelle Revis in the secondary. Mingo is the best rusher available, and will allow them to use the pick acquired from Tampa Bay on an offensive difference maker if they choose to do so.

10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack, Alabama
(Previously: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M)

Either Warmack or Jonathan Cooper could go here. Tennessee signed Andy Levitre to a lucrative contract in the offseason. But, they still could use help at guard and Warmack is the BPA at this point, anyway.

11. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Cooper, UNC
(Previously: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama)

Part of me wants to put Tavon Austin here now that Warmack is off the board. After all, the Chargers have lost a lot of offensive talent the last few seasons and Philip Rivers’ stats have been affected dramatically. But, Rivers will not be putting up any stats unless the Chargers find him some protection. Cooper or Warmack, whomever is available, will be the pick.

12. Miami Dolphins – CB Xavier Rhodes

With Sean Smith gone via free agency, the Dolphins need to find a starting CB who can help contain Tom Brady and the Patriots twice a year. Rhodes is the top bump-and-run corner in the draft with explosive range and length at 6’1. His 4.43 forty-yard dash guaranteed that Rhodes would see his stock rise.

13. New York Jets (From Tampa Bay) – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

If the Jets are going to be stuck with Mark Sanchez, they might as well find him some talent to give the ball to. Let’s face it, Sanchez wasn’t exactly blessed with a strong supporting cast last season. Austin may be too small to be a consistent threat in the NFL. But, he will provide game-breaking ability that Rex Ryan has not had on the Jets since Braylon Edwards.

14. Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

Carolina drafted BC Linebacker Luke Kuechly in the first round in 2012. A year later, he is their second consecutive winner of a Rookie of the Year award. They’ll go for three straight with former Missouri Tiger Sheldon Richardson. With Sharif Floyd off the board, the Panthers go with the next available defensive tackle, a position of dire need on defense. The 6-3, 295 pound Richardson has speed (4.89) and size. His one flaw is experience, as he did not become a full-time starter until Missouri moved to the SEC in 2012. However, his 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, a blocked kick, and a 60-yard fumble return all suggest that Richardson is the perfect compliment on defense to Kuechly and Jon Beason.

15. New Orleans Saints – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
(Previously: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU)

The Saints’ defense has long been a bane to their success. Their conversion to the 3-4, meanwhile, leaves them with plenty of holes to fill and not a lot of time to do it. Lotulelei was a top-5 pick until concerns about his heart surfaced during the winter. But, those suspicions have been tempered, and he has been cleared by doctors. Star would provide the Saints with a “star” nose tackle to clog up the holes on their new three man front.

16. St. Louis Rams – FS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

A hybrid defender with the size, speed, and athleticism of elite safeties, Kenny Vaccaro’s stock has risen a bit thanks to a strong combine and the failures of others at his position. Known as a hard hitter in Austin, Vaccaro should step right in and give St. Louis’ defense an attitude that they have been missing for a long time.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
(Previously: OT DJ Fluker, Alabama)

The Steelers have forever been known for their ferocious defense and pass rush. James Harrison is now a Bengal, and Mike Tomlin will need to find a long-term replacement for the former DPOY. Jones is a bit of an enigma, and there are injury concerns. But, when on, he is a top-5 defensive player in this draft and getting him at 17 would be the ultimate coup for the team with the most Super Bowls in history.

18. Dallas Cowboys – DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

I flirted with Eddie Lacy in this spot. But, I was reminded by Cowboys fans that Jason Garrett could have Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton in the backfield and he would still line up for a 4th and inches with four wide receivers. Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense requires a quick, gap-penetrating defensive tackle. Who knows what the story is with Jay Ratliff? Sylvester Williams has shown that his first step is undeniably one of the best in the draft.

19. New York Giants – OT DJ Fluker, Alabama
(Previously: LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia)

Alec Ogletree would certainly fill a need. But, no one wins championships without a quality offensive line. Fluker is the best available, and he holds significant championship pedigree.

20. Chicago Bears – LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
(Previously: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State)

Without Brian Urlacher in the middle, the Bears will need to find a replacement for their former All-Pro MLB. Ogletree was the top LB available and would help infuse some youth into the new “Monsters of the Midway.”

21. Cincinnati Bengals – S Matt Elam, Florida

This hard-hitting safety is seeing his stock rise as the weeks go by. Elam combines decent cover skills with a reckless abandon that makes defensive coordinators salivate. Cincinnati has decent cover corners, but has not had the stellar “over-the-top” help that the best teams always do. After all, they have played Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed twice a year for the past decade.

22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) – WR Keenan Allen, California

The Rams are in need of a playmaker or two on offense. It remains to be seen whether or not Steven Jackson or Danny Amendola will return. But, even if they do, the Rams need a game breaker #1 type receiver that Amendola or Brandon Gibson just does not provide. Allen has speed and size that would certainly help Sam Bradford emerge from mediocrity.

23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee
(Previously: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia)

The concern with Patterson here is that he really reminds me of Troy Williamson in that he has tremendous athleticism and size yet is very inconsistent. Still, teams rarely learn from their mistakes, and the Vikings are desperate for a deep threat to go alongside Greg Jennings.

24. Indianapolis Colts – S Eric Reid, LSU
(Previously: DT John Jenkins, Georgia)

Indianapolis improved their secondary last season by trading for Vontae Davis. Still, their D was far from above-average in 2012. Reid is the best safety available and will provide the Colts with a dynamite duo of he and Antoine Bethea.

25. Minnesota Vikings (From Seattle) – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

(Previously: DT Sharif Floyd, Florida)

What a steal it would be to get the raw talent of Werner at the 25th pick. A raw, European talent, Werner didn’t even begin playing the sport until he was 14. Now, he is a likely first round pick. Minnesota will not be able to resist combining Werner with Jared Allen to give them one of the best pass rushing duos in football.

26. Green Bay Packers -TE Zach Ertz, Stanford
(Previously:  MLB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame)

Anybody with a pulse can tell that the Packers are getting sick of Jermichael Finley. A formerly heralded tight end, Finley has combined a lethal dose of limited production and insubordination, most of which is contract related. He is one of the highest paid tight ends in football and does not warrant that price with his performance. Ertz is the #1 pass catching tight end in the draft and would give Aaron Rodgers another reason to smile, as if his new contract was not enough.

27. Houston Texans – WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
(Previously: NT Star Lotulelei, Utah)

ESPN’s Todd McShay believes that Justin Hunter will have a better career than his collegiate teammate, Cordarelle Patterson. Houston has not had a gamebreaker next to Andre Johnson since the former Miami Hurricane became a superstar.

28. Denver Broncos – DE Datone Jones, UCLA
(Previously: S Eric Reid, LSU)

The Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil in the offseason, and didn’t exactly have the most dynamic duo at defensive end prior to his departure, anyway. Jones has size (6-4, 283) and decent speed for an end (4.75).

29. New England Patriots – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

I would probably expect a trade here. Bill Belichick loves to move down and stock up on draft picks. This would be a terrific spot for a QB needy team (Kansas City/Buffalo?) to trade up and land a Matt Barkley or Mike Glennon. But, I do not like to predict trades. So, what does New England need the most? The answer is secondary help. Trufant is a senior with a ton of experience and speed (4.49). He really stood out among a talented North team in the Senior Bowl.

30. Atlanta Falcons – CB Johnthan Banks
(Previously: DE Datone Jones, UCLA

Despite the fact that he’s got a very “Jrue Holiday” style first name, Banks deserves to go in the first 35 picks in the draft. At 6-2, 185, he is a big corner who would provide Atlanta with just what they needed after Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes left this offseason.

31. San Francisco 49ers – WR Robert Woods, USC
(Previously: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama)

The 49ers will stay in-state and select Woods at the back end of the round. They would love to land one of the first round graded safeties, but they’re all off the board. Therefore, the 49ers should look at a wide receiver to surround Colin Kaepernick with weapons. Woods is flying up the draft boards after a great Pro Day in which he ran a 4.36 short shuttle and a 6.83 three-cone drill.

32. Baltimore Ravens – MLB Manti Te’0, Notre Dame
(Previously: G Jonathan Cooper, UNC)

Manti Te’0 should be a first round pick. I was tempted to put him in a couple of earlier positions, such as Minnesota with one of their two selections. But, he ended up falling. If the Ravens are able to land him, they will gladly make the selection and replace Ray Lewis with the former Fighting Irish star.