Monday, March 24, 2008

Remebering ERock, What if...

Sometime the mind does strange things. Maybe it was reading another scathing review of Mike Huff, or seeing some mention of the Ravens Super Bowl win, or reading how the Raiders have been looking for a hard hitting strong safety since Ronnie Lott's brief tenure. Who know what it was, but the name Eric Turner came to mind earlier today.

I have no idea the ages of the few who frequent this site. So you may remember Eric Turner well, or, if you are younger, you may not even know the name. NFL.Com barely even acknowledges his existence past his draft status. And that is truly a shame, as Turner, by all accounts, was as respected off the field as he was on.

Turner was drafted out of UCLA with the 2nd pick in the 1991 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The highest a defensive back has ever been selected. He got off to a slow start with Cleveland only appearing in eight games his rookie season. The pick was questioned as Turner at times appeared either a step slow or too focused on making the big hit to ever provide the impact that was expected.

IN his 2nd season Turner started to find his grove, he still looked for the big hit too often, but he had adjusted to the speed of the NFL game. In his sophomore year Turner racked up 119 tackles, and it only got better. In his 3rd season Turner put it all together and became one of the leagues premier defenders. With 159 tackles and 5 interceptions he had arrived. He built upon that success in 1994 with his 1st Pro Bowl and only All pro selections, he added 105 tackles and 9 interceptions to his career totals that year, including the one returned 93 yards seen in this clip.

Turner Struggled with injuries the next two seasons, including a fractured vertebra, setting up his exit from what was now the Baltimore Ravens, and his eventual signing with the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders brought Turner in to add the fear factor that had been missing from the secondary since Ronnie Lott’s two seasons in Silver and Black. Turner has grown up in California and had always dreamed of being a Raider. It seemed like a perfect match. Turner started 15 games his first season with the Raiders and added another 111 tackles to his impressive career totals. He quickly became one of the team leaders, and while he never returned to the form that made him a star in ’94, his leadership more than made up the difference.

The injury bug hit again the next season. And his 3rd season with the Raiders was also marred by injuries, and many were left to question how what seemed like a minor calf injury kept him from finishing the year. Was his body breaking down from years of being one of the leagues hardest hitter?

Here is where the story turns tragic. Around the time of the draft stories started to surface that Turner was ill and that he may have experienced drastic weight loss. However, as Turner was an extremely private man, the truth did not come out until later. On May 28, 2000 Eric Turner passed away from intestinal cancer.

The news rocked the football world. A man who had seemed like the picture of health and was putting together a borderline hall of fame caliber career had been struck down in what should have been the prime of his life.

Stories of Turner’s charity and the respect that his had for him poured out. His hard hitting style had made him a fan favorite in both Cleveland and Oakland, but this was overshadowed by the off the field respect that his fellow players had for him. By all accounts Turner was the kind of teammate and player you wanted playing with or for you.

The Raiders brought Turner with them into the ’00 season. Hanging his jersey and nameplate at an empty locker before every game.

"We just don't want to forget about him," coach Jon Gruden said of the Raiders' traveling tribute to Turner. "He was an inspiring player and a great man. It was a tragedy and we don't want to forget what he meant to us. It was sudden and sad, and it's still a very emotional thing. We want him to always be in our thoughts and our prayers."

As a fan, when it was announced that the Raiders had signed Eric Turner, I felt that they had added the missing piece to turn the Defense into a top-flight unit. Visions of Super Bowls danced in my head. He was on the team as Gruden turned around a moribund unit and had them on the cusp of the playoffs. And while everyone knew that Turners death would hurt the franchise, I doubt any of us had any idea of the far-reaching effects of his untimely demise.

I hope where I am going here does not trivialize the death of Eric Turner. Honestly I’m struggling to make the transition from eulogy to speculation. Usually this site is sarcastic and irreverent; I’m better at that. Serious, not so much.

But as a fan I am left with the question…what could have been? What if Eric Turner had not gotten sick, what if he had put together 3-4 more years of excellence on the field. Was he the missing piece in the Raiders run those last couple Gruden years and the first Callahan year.

We all remember the 2000 season. The Raiders became a force to be reckoned with in the AFC. They had the top running game in the league and looked to be peaking as the team entered the playoffs. However the team had one glaring weakness, the safety position where Marques Pope and Anthony Dorsett aimlessly wandered the field. The loss of Turner may have galvanized the unit, but his presence was sorely missed on the field.

This weakness reared its head at the worst possible time. In a close battle with the Baltimore Ravens, both Pope and Dorsett failed to contain the Raven’s offense’s only weapon, Shannon Sharpe, and allowed him to get free to streak down the field for the game’s loan TD. Would the outcome have been different with Turner in the Game? We will never know, Gannon had been injured and points were hard to come by, but I have to believe that Sharpe would not have gotten free with Turner roaming the Secondary.

Following that heartbreaking loss, the Raiders addressed the safety position in the draft. Selecting Derrick Gibson late in the 1st round. I have never been a Gibson basher; he was a good tackling safety that did an adequate job covering the TE for the Raiders. But he never lived up to fan expectations, as he didn’t bring the intimidation factor that Raider fans covet. You have to think that if Turner was still on the roster, the Raiders would never have made that pick, and instead may have addressed the TE position as Gruden reportedly wanted. With either Todd Heap, or Alge Crumpler.

Following that draft, things are no longer so clearly linked to the tragic loss of Turner. NFL teams do loose players unexpectedly all the time, and while few have the impact that Turner did, teams do have to react to this kind of thing regularly.

But the questions remain, had Al not overruled Gruden in taking Gibson instead of Heap, would the rift between them grown to the point that Al traded Gruden following the ’01 season? With Turner’s leadership still on the team would they have avoided the let down at the end of the ’01 season and not had to play in NE in the snow? Could the death of one player really prevented the Raiders from becoming the dominant franchise of the decade? Was the death of Turner the true turning point where the Raiders went from a top team to a laughing stock? How big a domino effect did the loss of Turner start in terms of both leadership and talent on the Raiders roster?

As fans we are left to wonder…what if?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nothing Good about this Friday

Maybe it was indigestion, maybe it was falling asleep on the couch with the TV on, but I awoke last night in a cold sweat, I had a vision of the future of the Raiders. Not long term, but just what the next move would be.

I tried to shake it as I stumbled up the stairs, but as I brushed my teeth and changed for bed it became clearer. This vision was starting to make sense to me. As I lay my head on the pillow I fought the thoughts running through my head, hoping that sleep would come and erase them from my mind.

Sleep did come; the thoughts were erased from my mind. After the alarm rudely awakened me, I stumbled in the dark and made my way to the shower. As the warm water washed my face, the vision returned. It was like a waking nightmare.

The Raiders moves to this point had befuddled me. Tommy Kelly getting a big time deal I had been able to justify. Sure he had only shown flashes, but he plays a position that gets paid. Bringing in Wilson at Safety, well it should allow Huff to play more free, but once again, Wilson was a flash guy.

Then you start to look at the subsequent deals. Harris has been nothing but a tease. He seemingly has all the physical tools, but never has put them together on the field. Walker has teased through two outstanding years with nothing but discord and injury surrounding them. Hall teases with his talk of big games, and occasional big plays.

The key here is that they all tease; flashes of brilliance but in the end, none of them deliver on the promises. Suddenly the vision was making too much sense. It was all becoming all too real to me. As I made my breakfast the bottle of Jack on the shelf was looking way too tempting at 7am on a workday.

The rumors of turmoil on the coaching staff ran through my mind as I drove to work. Al wanted Kiffen out. Kiffen wasn’t leaving. My mind clicked over to a call I heard on Sirius radio the other day. A caller reported that he had heard that there was an out in Kiffens contract coming up. That Al had only to wait until after the draft to let him loose, and then would owe Kiffen no more money.

I initially had dismissed this call. If there had been such a report I’m sure that I would have read it or heard it from a more reputable source than a random afternoon caller. The caller claimed that Kiffen had no input on the hiring of Lofton, but that report had been quickly squashed. Kiffen had run the interview, turning over contract matters to Al, as it should be.

Now all these factors were screaming in my head, they all had lead to this demon vision that I couldn’t shake. James Lofton, one tease after another brought in as players, discord between Kiffen, Al and Ryan. Who has worked with Lofton before, who has a history of being the biggest cock-tease of a coach to ever run an NFL franchise?

Marty Schottenheimer

That right, my vision had been Marty standing on the sidelines wearing silver and black. The vision’s return had me scrambling to keep my truck on the road. “God damn it, its too much before my morning coffee”, I thought to myself.

I tend to ignore rumors; I prefer to wait for facts before I come to any judgment. The whole Al vs. Kiffen thing I had dismissed as the media reaching for anything to write about a franchise that gives them no access. But the subsequent moves of the franchise had my brain working overtime. Rumors piled upon rumors. Could two desperate men really put years of hatred behind them for one last run at glory.

Could Al’s desperation for one last ring before riding into the sunset really lead him to jettison yet another promising young coach for a retread who had delivered nothing but empty promises. Could Marty’s desperation to coach one last time lead him to the franchise that he has despised above all others all these years.

I put little stock into rumors, I put even less into those who claim to have visions, I’m no prophet, I’m sure there is nothing to it. That said, this morning I can’t escape the thoughts in my head. Marty Schottenheimer, head coach Oakland Raiders, I need to start keeping a bottle of Jack here in my desk.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shattered Dreams

I have to admit; I know something about having unrealistic expectations for my life. When I first started playing Pop Warner football I expected to be the next Howie Long or Lawrence Taylor. I was going to become a professional football player, a top draft pick, a multi millionaire, and have a pony.

I still don’t have a pony…and I’m not a multi millionaire… and I haven’t been drafted… despite being eligible for the last 10 years.

So I understand what some of the players who are just wrapping up their college careers are going to be feeling in a few weeks as they watch pick after pick go by without hearing their names called.

The impetuous for this column was an interview I heard on Sirius NFL radio as I drove home yesterday. A young man who played for Texas was talking about how he expected to be a late 1st, early 2nd round pick. No, this wasn’t Limas Sweed or Jamaal Charles talking; this was none other than THE Jermichael Finley.

If right now you are saying “WHO?” you are not alone. If you missed the red river shootout this year, chances are you missed Jermichael. The dead air as the hosts searched for the right way to respond to the young man who had just shown his complete inability to access his own tallents was deafening.

Honestly, what do you say to this kid, and that’s what he is, a kid. Throughout the interview he gave off an air of naiveté, he came across incredibly poorly, if I were a GM and had heard the interview, I would have knocked him down another round on my board. The NFL radio hosts handled it as well as could be expected, 1st asking him if he had met with the NFL’s NFL's advisory board to get an idea of where he'd be drafted if he came out early. He stated that he hadn’t. After that Pat Kirwan tried pointing out that only the top TE prospects are drafted in the top 2 rounds. Jermichael wasn’t listening; the host quickly changed the subject to how he was going to handle being a rookie.

Knowing next to nothing about Jermichael, I went to the Internet to do a little research. Maybe he is a real stud who I just hadn’t heard of, I don’t watch a whole lot of Big 12 football. He is a 3rd year sophomore, meaning he red shirted his freshman year and still could play two more years of college ball. His combine showing got mixed reviews, with one source listing him as unimpressive and another as leaving scouts buzzing.

Well Jermichael better hope that the report of buzzing scouts is correct, and that they weren’t buzzing “what was this kid thinking”. Because there isn’t going to be a lot to look at on film, as Jermichael only played 2 seasons of college ball, only scored 5 touchdowns (2 in his final season). Sure he put up 947 yards in those two years, but 149 of those came in one game. There is nothing there that screams NFL TE. Add in that even Jermichael admits that he is a poor blocker, and well what is he thinking.

Listening to Jermichael, I was reminded of the kid who called his own press conference this year to announce he was going to UCLA. Despite never having been contacted by the school. As I read up on Jermichael, the idea was reinforced. In a report filed by Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal Jermichael claimed to have sat down with the NFL’s advisory board and that they advised him that he should expect to be a 2nd round pick, but that "a good workout would put me at the end of the first round. But you never know at the combine." A claim that he later contradicted in his interview with Sirius. Another Internet report claimed that the advisory committee had placed a 4th round grade on Jermichael.

As a comparison I pulled up Zach Millers stats through two seasons, and found that Jermichael was comparable in everything but TD’s. However Zach could block, and produced for 3 straight years. Looking further I found Jermichael ranked from 7th to 9th as far as TE’s go in this year’s draft. Last year only 8 TE’s were taken in the 1st 5 rounds of the draft. Jermichael is looking at the possibility of going undrafted or fighting for a special teams role just to make a squad. While he claimed that the Packers, Steelers, and Jaguars among others had shown a lot of interest I have to wonder how much is a figment of his imagination.

The funny thing is that after listening to Jermichael, and reading up on him I find myself rooting for him now. I will be watching for him name next month when the draft roles around. But its for the wrong reasons, its not because I like his game, or his attitude, its because I feel bad for him. Nobody is looking out for this kid’s best interests and making sure that he receives the proper guidance. He should have been sat down a long time ago and forced to look realistically at his prospects. He shouldn’t have a choice whether or not to meet with the NFL’s advisory committee. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe he has been given all the right advise and is ignoring it, but I believe an agent has gotten his ear and is telling him all the wrong things.

Its sad, it appears that from all the measurables that with a couple more years in college Jermichael could develop into a 1st day pick. However as Pat Kirwan stated, it’s too late for that now, he is in the draft. Good luck Jermichael, I hope you get that pony.

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Arizona, going postal

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

While Romeo was engaged in small talk with Millen and Marinelli I choked down my sandwich as fast as I could. Just as I finished Romeo sat down.

Romeo – you really shouldn’t eat that way. You’ll give yourself heartburn.

Brick – I know, but damn I was hungry.

Romeo – I guess this means you don’t want the sub I got you.

Brick – Thanks but no, I though you had some work to do.

Romeo – Oh, it really wasn’t work, I just went and sat in the stands long enough to get on TV, that way nobody can say I wasn’t there.

Brick – good thinking

Romeo – naw, that’s an old trick, it took me longer to decide what to get at Subway.

Brick – Ham?

Romeo – damn straight.

Romeo then proceeded to take out his subs and stuff his face.

Romeo (between bites) – you know this is the one thing that Quinn got right; Subway is delicious.

It wasn’t long after Romeo finished his subs and ordered a diet coke that Ken Whisenhunt joined us. Apparently he and Romeo are old friends. After introductions I started in with my standard line of questioning.

Brick – So Mr. Whisenhunt, who is going to be the starting QB in Arizona this season.

Whisenhunt – Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place, I have the god squader or Hollywood. One guy spends every meeting trying to get me to go with him and his zombie wife to church, the other one comes in hung over everyday after trying to get into Paris Hiltons pants. What kind of looser can’t fuck Paris Hilton?

Brick – Sounds like you’ve got it tough in Arizona.

Whisenhunt – Yeh, it sucks, I never thought I’d miss that idiot Ben, but at least Brady Quinn isn’t on the team.

Whisenhunt and I laugh, Romeo sulks and steals my fries.

Romeo – fuck both of you, you weren’t going to eat these anyway.

Brick – Are you going to be active in FA? I know you have a problem with Fitzgerald’s contract tieing things up.

Whisenhunt – Hopefuly he is willing to rework things. I’d really like to bring in ____ and resign our guys. If not it could set us back a year.

Romeo – You know that Fitz ain’t going to rework that deal, nobody wants to stay in Arizona.

Whisenhunt – I think we are really starting to turn the attitude around so that guys will want to stay there. We could make an impact with the right moves this offseason.

Brick – They have been saying that about Arizona for years now.

Romeo – No shit, every fuckin year some asshole writer picks Arizona to go to the playoffs.

Whisenhunt – OK, fuck it, its not like we are on the record here. Arizona sucks, management is a bunch of fucking buffoons. Up and down the roster you might as well just write overpaid, old or bust. We have more money tied up in out #1 WR than most teams have in their QB. Our QB’s are limp wristed pansies. Our offensive line is a bunch of fat faggots, and where should I start on D, since none of them should be starting in the NFL. I go home and cry myself to sleep every fucking night just hoping that somebody puts me out of my misery.

Brick – Damn, you sound like you are about to go postal.

Whisenhunt – You know that wouldn’t be a bad idea with this fucking team.

Brick – OK, you are starting to scare me, how about the draft, there has to be someone there who can help you.

Whisenhunt – where we draft… fuck there ain’t going to be anyone left worth two shits. We are going to have to reach and overpay some slob. Which just means more of the same in Arizona. Scrubs making big time money.

Brick – well you are set at WR and QB so I’ll cross them off the list. It’s too high to take any of the olineman who are left. How about a pass rusher or a cornerback?

Whisenhunt – ok smart guy, who do you have in mind.

Brick – well Derrick Harvey should still be there, he is the kind of guy that Pittsburgh has had luck with by standing him up and playing him at rush LB.

Whisenhunt – I’m listening

Brick - Leodis McKelvin is a little small, but has some raw talent at CB

Whisenhunt – I don’t like the way he tackles

Brick - Aqib Talib is a bigger CB, but not as good in coverage.

Whisenhunt – better, but option 1 is still the best thing you’ve given me.

Brick – OK, so you have Harvey, Quentin Groves or Calais Campbell all in the same mold at DE.

Whisenhunt – now you see why I’m so pissed, you haven’t name one guy who really knocks my socks off. I would be happy with any of the guys you have named… in round 2.

Brick – Damn, you are making this hard. Would you reach for a lineman like Jeff Otah?

Whisenhunt – If we were starting a competitive eating team but I already have a fat OT that eats more than Romeo.

Romeo (between bites of French fries) you’re not that skinny yourself.

Brick – Well we are running out of options here, Felix Jones is still around, but he really isn’t the kind of power back you prefer, and its too early for Fred Davis.

Whisenhunt – You know what, I though I was depressed when I came in here. So I’m going to end this now. Put me down for Harvey, I think I can work with him. Any of those other guys and I’m headed to Ed Harts gun supply and stocking up on AK-47 rounds.

Brick – well thanks for your time Mr. Whisenhunt, and good luck to you this season.

Whisenhunt – Go fuck yourself

With that, Whisenhunt got up and left.

Brick – damn, that guy is on the edge.

Romeo – don’t worry about it, he’ll just hate fuck some cheap whore tonight and be fine in the morning.

Brick – sometimes I wish you would just not add anything.

Romeo – Would you rather he came back and shot up the place fool.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
11. Buffalo Bills – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
12. Denver Broncos - Kenny Philips, S, Miami
13. Carolina Panthers – D. Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tenn. St
14. Chicago Bears - Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
15. Detroit Lions - Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
16. Arizona Cardinals - Derrick Harvey, DE/LB - Florida

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Detroit, BPA vs. Need

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

The day was flying bye, I’d managed to get info on 6 more teams by 3pm, and even managed to eat a little chicken before it was confiscated by Romeo. And things were never boring with Romeo around. So I was a little disappointed when he decided that he should head out to get some work done after Lovie left. I used the opportunity to order a sandwich in hopes that I could actually get a whole meal down before he came back.

While I was waiting for my food two men burst through the door, arguing loudly.

Man #1 – I’m the GM, I’ll decide

Man #2 – We’ve tried you way for years, look where its gotten us, I’m making the call.

Man #1 looks at me – Ok how about we ask this guy who will decide.

Man #2 – Works for me.

Man #1 – Excuse me sir, I’m Matt Millen and this is Rod Marinelli, now you see I’m the GM of the Lions and he is the head coach. We are having a little disagreement here. I say that I should choose what we eat for lunch, and he thinks that he should choose what we order.

Brick – Ummmmm, well I don’t know about restaurants in Detroit, but here you can each choose your own meal, here sit down and I’ll walk you through it.

Millen – We can each choose our own meal, we don’t have to have the same thing?

Marinelli – I like this place.

Millen and Marinelli sit down, and I walk them through the process of choosing am item on the menu. Millen insists on ordering the Steak sandwich since it is the 1st thing on the lunch menu.

Millen – I don’t need a steak sandwich, but it is the highest ranked item on the board.

Marinelli orders a cheese quesadilla, he doesn’t give a reason.

While we waited for the food to arrive I asked my standard question.

Brick – So who are you guys looking to draft.

Millen – It all depends on who the best available player is when we pick.
Marinelli – Or the guy who best fills a need

Millen – best available

Marinelli – Fills a need

Millen – best available

Marinelli – Fills a need

Millen – best available

Marinelli – Fills a need

Brick – guys, guys enough…

Millen – best available

Brick – look, here is the list of players I have still available based on the other NFL execs I have talked to, which do you like?

Millen – well I obviously like DeSean Jackson, he is the highest rated guy on the board, and I always say take the best available player.

Marinelli – So help me god, if we take another Wide receiver with out 1st round draft pick I’ll go Ray Lewis on your ass.

Millen – Look at the board Jackson is the best player available. It’s a no brainer.

Marinelli – you are a no brainer. Let me see that list.

Marinelli looks over the list for a couple minutes while Millen looks over the beer menu.

Millen – I’ll take an Amstell Light, its at the top of the chart.

Marinelli – Well, we need a DT but the value just isn’t there, so I guess I’d suggest we select Jonathan Stewart, we need a RB since Jones is always hurt and we need to keep the D off the field to succeed.

Millen – Stewart, but he is the 4th guy on this list. No, we need to take the best player available.

Marinelli – Fills a need

Millen – best available

Marinelli – Fills a need

Millen – best available

Brick – I think I have the answer, you two give me a minute, and your food is here. So eat up, this will only take me a minute.

While they continued their argument between bites I pulled out a blank sheet of paper and quickly jotted down players names, positions and schools. Then crossed out the names of players already selected.

Brick – A new list has come out and I’ve got it here. Mr. Millen would you like to see it?

Millen – Are you kidding, I love lists, let me see.

Matt looks over the list, hands it to Marinelli

Millen – I think we should take Jonathan Stewart since he is the best player available.

Marinelli – I like that choice since he also fills a need.

Millen – you agree with me, really, that’s great, lunch is on me.

Millen gets up and heads to the bar to pay for lunch. While he is gone Marinelli leans over to me and whispers

Marinelli – thank you very much, we should have thought of that years ago. I’m going to go back to Detroit and try to get them to offer you a position on the scouting staff. We need your kind of skills in the war room.

Brick – while that’s a very nice offer, I’m afraid that I couldn’t put up with that nonsense every day.

Millen returns

Millen (looking at me) what have you been eating; the tab was over $600.00.

Brick – Oh, sorry about that, Romeo has been here all day.

Millen – no big deal, I’m putting it on the Lions charge card anyway. Ready Marinelli, I think we can still schedule an interview with Stewart before the end of the day.

Marinelli – I’m done here, thank again for your help.

Brick – no problem, good luck guys.

As Millen and Marinelli head to the door, Romeo comes back in holding two subway bags.

Millen – Romeo, good to see you, I see you went to Subway, I always order the Subway Club, it’s the number 1 sandwich on the board.

Romeo – That’s a sucka move, you got to get the ham fool.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
11. Buffalo Bills – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
12. Denver Broncos - Kenny Philips, S, Miami
13. Carolina Panthers – D. Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tenn. St
14. Chicago Bears - Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
15. Detroit Lions - Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

Hall and the return of the good old days

It looks like my protests have fallen on deaf ears and DeAngelo Hall will be added to the Raiders roster today. The faithful are celebrating the return of the dominance of the Lester Hayes, Mike Haynes ‘80’s. Well, let me provide you a wet blanket for your celebration.

I’ve already expounded on my feelings on Hall and his shortcomings, I’m not even going to start on the contract he received until the real numbers come out. But, if you plan to run out two shutdown corners, well both corners should be shutdown, not one shutdown and one takedown after the catch, but I digress.

It seems to me that we always look back at the old days through rose-colored glasses. Small successes are viewed as huge accomplishments, and shortcomings are glossed over. Billy Joel once sang “the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrows not as bad as it seems”. I agree whole-heartedly on the 1st point, and hope to hell he is right on the 2nd when it comes to the Raiders.

When waxing nostalgic about the dominance that the Raiders exhibited with Hayes and Haynes on the field, the nation tends to forget that the Raiders won only one Super Bowl with this tandem on the field. In 1983, the first year that the two were on the field together. When the Raiders spanked the Redskins.

So sure any Super Bowl win looks good when compared to the complete garbage that the Raiders have fielded the last two seasons. Hell most fans are just looking for competitive right now; greatness is still a year or two away in even the most optimistic outlooks. But when you look back at those glory years with Hayes and Haynes you have to bring some realities to the table.

Hayes and Haynes benefited from an incredible pass rush. Sure pass coverage and pass rush are a symbiotic pairing, when one is good the other improves and visa-versa. However, Hayes and Haynes had Hall of Famer Howie Long, multi-pro bowler Greg Townsend, and in the Super Bowl year both Lyle Alzado and Bill Pickel contributing. This group collected 13, 10.5, 7 and 6 sacks respectively in that Super Bowl year. When your front 3 is putting that kind of pressure on QB’s (that right front 3, the Raiders ran a 3-4 there last two Super Bowl wins) it’s easy for your CB’s to look dominant.

Then you look at the offense. The ’83 offense sputtered a couple times, but still managed to get themselves ranked 3rd in the NFL by the end of the year by riding the back of Marcus Allen and the Arm of Jim Plunkett. Once again, a symbiotic relationship exists here. The high flying offense puts pressure on the other team to match, forcing them to pass more, playing into the Raiders hands.

Now what many don’t remember about this season is that Haynes didn’t join the team until there were only 5 games left. So credit does have to go his way for pushing the team over the edge, leading to their wildcard berth and eventual Super Bowl win. So while fulfilling Al’s dream of having two shutdown corners worked, it only worked once since ’83 and that was in its 1st season.

Now you look at the Raiders of today, and start to address those symbiotic relationships. First the pass rush/ secondary relationship. There are no Longs or Townsend’s on this team. Burgess puts up some good sack numbers, but we will delve into why those are misleading when it comes to his overall impact in the pass game another time. For now lets just say he isn’t in their league.

Now, if I were you and you were one of the ardent supporters of this move, I’d rebut, “Townsend was only a Rookie in ’83, don’t you think that the Raiders could have the same success with a Rookie DE this year, either Long or Gholston?”

Short answer, no. While either one of these players would be a marked improvement over the current situation on the D-line, the 2nd symbiotic relationship that we have to take into account will limit the impact, that relationship being that between the offense and defense.

The Raiders offense has way to many growing pains still ahead of it to overcome, to take any pressure off of the defense. You have essentially a rookie QB (sorry 2 games doesn’t make you a vet yet), a 2nd year of upheaval all along the offensive line (at least the system isn’t changing for once), and huge question marks at the skill positions.

This offense is more likely to be ranked 23rd than 3rd. Which will allow teams to do what they do best against the Raiders, run the ball and play keep away. To date no significant upgrade has been made to the run defense, well there was one, Warren Sapp retiring, but no addition-by-addition.

Which leads me to what I see as the next, and maybe most glaring, issue with this signing. 1983 was the end of an era in the NFL. Bill Walsh’s west coast offense was already taking the NFL by storm, Joe Montana made it to his 2nd pro bowl that year, and already had 1 Super Bowl under his belt. The shift was on to timing offenses. Two shutdown corners were no longer enough to stop a passing attach. You needed to deal with TE’s, RB’s & FB’s out of the backfield, and slot receivers.

Fast-forward to today’s NFL and every team has elements of the west coast offense in their playbook, along with the vaunted vertical stretch and even the spread and run and shoot. When a team tries to go old school and ignore the progress made in the last 15 years, the result is the bed and breakfast offense run by Shell, an abortion.

Having two shutdown corners isn’t going to help you when a team like NE just eats away at you with their slot receiver. Patiently waiting for you to adjust so that they can burn you deep, when you “shutdown” corner is left 1 on 1 with Moss. You think that this is limited to NE? The NFL is a copycat league; every team is now looking at the little quick guy on their roster and planning to send him on endless crossing routes and slants. The Raiders are not addressing this by adding Hall, they are addressing offenses from 25 years ago.

So in the end, adding Hall makes me feel better about the defense when the Raiders are facing a team running 2 WR’s and a TE and two backs or two TE and a single back and the Raiders have at least a 10 point lead. Honestly, how often do you expect that to happen? Lets just hope that Billy Joel was right on his 2nd point and I’m just being too negative. I’ll be more than happy to admit I’m wrong on this one, but as the aforementioned Joel once said, “maybe I’m wrong, but I may be right”.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Chicago, rapping with lovie

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

The thump of old-skool rap music prevented Romeo from further regaling me of tales from Thailand. Looking toward the door a rotund black man was entering with an 1980’s style boom box on his shoulder. As the melodic sounds of A Tribe Called Quest washed over the bar Romeo jumped to his feet.

Romeo – LoveDog waz-up hommie.

Lovie Smith – R-diggity, what it is

Romeo and Lovie then go through an elaborate handshake that seems to take at least 3 minutes to complete.

Lovie – Yo, yo, yo R-diggity, you making this place your new crib or what.

Romeo – you know how I roll, I’m just here chillin like a villain

Lovie – word

Romeo – Yo, brother, why don’t you get off your dogs and have some eats

Lovie – You know that Love Dog don’t eat no swine, I’m headin to the hood to get some soul food, I was just seein if you was down.

Romeo – Man you know that soul food stuff is just the man’s way of keeping us down, a proud black man like me deserves better than grits and chitlins

Lovie – Bro, don’t be sellin out on me now, you gots to keep it real.

Romeo – I am keeping it real, I just appreciates the finer things.

Lovie – tru dat, who is this white boy you be hangin with?

Romeo – man he’s cool, he’s cool, common sit yo ass down.

Lovie sits down, and turns off the boom box. Romeo corrals the waiter and orders three fried chickens and three diet cokes.

Romeo – (looks at me) Ok, white boy, you know you want to ask Love dog your questions, why don’t you hit him up now before we get our eat on.

Brick – Mr. Smith, where are the Bears looking to go in the draft.
Lovie – man, whats this Mr. Smith stuff, Romeo I though you said this white boy was cool, call me LoveDog homeslice.

Brick – Yo, I’m cool Lovedog, I can hang.

Lovie – Man, this whiteboy is whiter than wonder bread, Ok wonder bread what was your question again.

Brick – Lovedog, the Bears need help almost everywhere, who are you looking at here at the combine.

Lovie – Man wonderbread, you is one serious MF’er, Chi-town will be right back on top this year. B-Favre ain’t repeatin, he be older than ____, T-Jack makes my boy sexy Rexy look like a superstar. D-town, its D-town fool, what they gonna do. Chi-town will be right back on top in 08.

Brick – I can dig that, but you got the pick, who ya gonna take.

Lovie – wonderbread, cut the jive talk, you cool, but you can’t hang with the jive, keep it white homie.

Brick – Ok lovedog, I’ll cut the jive talk, but how about the prospects, The Bears seem like they could go just about anywhere in the 1st round.

Lovie – I like you wonderbread, so I’m going to keep it real. Ain’t no QB that is gonna help out Chi-town this year, If B-train leaves we will be hurting at receiver, Our fatboys be solid.

Brick – That’s all true, but how about running back, Jones leaving really hurt last year.

Lovie – Aw man, why you bringing up running backs wonderbread. CB be gayer than Quinn.

Romeo – true dat, true dat

Brick – So I guess Chicago could be looking at the running backs that are available, like Jones, Mendenhall or Stewart.

Lovie – I’m down with Mendenhall, and he is down with Chi-town. He needs a bad ass nickname though, none of that R-Men jive.

Romeo – Ramen, shit bro, I could go for some Chinese food.

Then, as if Romeo was a portly genie granting his own wish, the waiter showed up with the fried chickens. I actually managed to distract myself by watching the combine on NFL network long enough to choke down a leg while Romeo and Smith tossed out potential nicknames between and during bites of food.

Romeo – Busta Runs

Lovie – Man, that’s wack, sounds like he ate too much Mexican food. How about Run RMD?

Romeo – Blank will sue for trademark infringement, How’s MC Rash grab ya.

Lovie – Sounds like he went to Thailand with Foxy, hey you ever get that cleared up?

Brick – Is the nickname really that important? Isn’t enough just to get the best player?

Lovie – Wonderbread, you ain’t from the hood, so you’ll never under stand the hood,

Brick – Fine, call he whatever you want, for my purposes, I’m putting the Bears down for Mendenhall and leaving it at that. Romeo do you have anything to add?

Romeo – What are you talking about

Brick – you know, you end each of these things with some comment in your Mr. T. voice.

Romeo – Don’t be playin me like a fool sucka, I ain’t never done that.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
11. Buffalo Bills – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
12. Denver Broncos - Kenny Philips, S, Miami
13. Carolina Panthers – D. Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tenn. St
14. Chicago Bears - Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Monday, March 17, 2008

Subtraction by addition?

Early last week the rumor was floated that the Raiders still had one blockbuster deal in the works. Speculation ran rampant. Were they dealing for one of the WR’s rumored to be on the block (Roy Williams, Chad Johnson) were they dealing the #4 pick to Dallas, were they bringing in help on defense (Peppers) or perhaps they were bringing in a shut down corner to pair with Aso (D. Hall).

I looked at the report with skepticism. Williams and Johnson weren’t going anywhere, at least not yet. The trade with Dallas wouldn’t go down until draft day, if at all. The Panthers are trying to gear up for another playoff push, so I don’t see Peppers going anywhere. And I don’t feel that Hall is a shutdown corner, so giving up a high draft pick for him would only make sense if you had the D to cover up his problems.

Needless to say, I was horrified when I heard on the Radio that the Raiders had come to terms with the Falcons to add Hall. All that is left is for the Raiders to agree to terms with Hall on a long-term deal. A deal reportedly that will pay Hall like the top free agent corners in the league. We are talking 9+ million a year for DeAngelo Hall.

Instead of just saying that this deal sucks for the Raiders, lets break this down. We’ll take a look at the positives and negatives in regards to Hall. I’ll even try to keep my emotions in check, for a while anyway.

First the positive, Hall is an incredible athlete. At his 1st Pro bowl he won the NFL fastest man competition, despite not even planning to compete. He was goaded into running and blew the competition away. When he gets his hands on the ball he is dangerous, both as far as interceptions are concerned and in the return game when he is used there.

Unfortunately that is where the positives end. I have watched Hall since his time at VT, my brother went to VT so I became a quassie fan of theirs. I have taken an interest in many of their players over the last 8 years. Hall was one of them.

Hall is not a shut down corner. Hall is a gambler, who has ridden a few highlight plays and his never shutting mouth to NFL stardom. Hall struggles against the top WR’s in the league, and is easily beaten by double moves. Now for my breakdown I’m going to concentrate on Hall’s 2006 campaign. Last year was an abortion for the entire Falcons franchise, and with the turmoil surrounding both Vick and Petrino, it is hard to fairly judge any Falcon based on 2007.

2006 was Hall’s breakout year. He became a media darling and found his way onto many pundits top CB lists. Unfortunately, this positive attention was completely undeserved.

Hall actually gained much of his momentum the previous year with his “shutdown” performance against T.O. and the Eagles. Coming out of that game the NFL press began hyping Hall as the next great corner. His interception of Donovan McNabb led off highlight shows for the week. But what did Hall actually do that week? T.O. caught 7 passes for 112 yards on Hall. The interception came on a play where T.O. had beaten Hall on a double move and Hall got lucky that McNabb got crushed as he threw the ball leading to the easy INT.

Hall’s big coming out party is a microcosm of his entire NFL career. Top NFL receivers beat him like a rented mule, but Hall takes advantage of one mistake and somehow comes out smelling like a rose. In the 2006 season, Hall’s best, he gave up 170 yards and 3 TD’s to Hines Ward, when Charlie Batch was playing QB. In his big showdown with Chad Johnson, he gave up 6 receptions and over 100 yards, but “won” his showdown since he wasn’t covering Johnson on his TD. In the 2nd half vs. Detroit he gave up passes of 60, 9 and 25 yards to Roy Williams.

Fortunately for my sanity, I’m not the only person who sees through the hype when it comes to Hall. The following is from a footballoutsiders extra point dated 12/13/2006 (Halls big breakout year)

“There isn’t much to this Star-Telegram piece but I’m posting it to point out that DeAngelo Hall might be the most overrated cornerback in the NFL. From the story: “Hall, in his third year, has four interceptions this season and is usually assigned to the opposing team’s top receiver. While the Falcons’ pass defense is ranked 31st in the league, the 5-foot-10, 197-pound Hall can stop some of the best wide outs in the league.” That’s funny because against No. 1 and No. 2 receivers the Falcons rank 30th and 32nd, according to DVOA.”

In all fairness, I will point this out about the Falcon’s defense in 2006. The secondary was ravaged by injuries, Hall had little help over the top, and the Falcons called a lot of zone coverage to try and cover for injuries.

That said, even with all the injuries in the Falcon’s secondary, the opposition targeted Hall over 90 times. If he were a true shutdown corner, than the other team would have looked to take advantage of the injuries in the Falcon’s secondary and attacked elsewhere. Instead they were happy to take their chances on Hall actually making a big play, and take their 8.5 yards per attempt against Hall.

So where does this leave me in my assessment of Hall. I put him somewhere in the category of a Dre Bly. A corner who will occasionally make you pay for your mistakes, but the majority of the time will get beaten. This puts him squarely in the middle of the pack as far as CB’s are concerned. If you put him on a team like the Pats or Giants, Hall would be a great acquisition. Those teams regularly put pressure on the QB with their front 4-5 and force bad passes. They score enough to put pressure on the opposition’s offense to take chances.

The Raiders struggle to put pressure on the QB with their front 4. They are going to once again need to be a ball control offense if they hope to keep their D off the field. This is far from an ideal situation for a player with Hall’s limitations.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with Hall’s game. He does not recognize his limitations. He talks a big game, which is fine with me; some guys need to do so in order to get themselves up for the game. But Hall’s performance on the field shows me a guy who has bought into the hype. He believes that he is at the top of his game, and that he can take the chances that he does since he is better than anyone else on the field. He shows no awareness of what teams are doing to set him up for the big plays he gives away, he constantly gets beaten by the same moves, showing no progress in his game.

So much as a draft pick, lets assess the value of adding Hall to the Raiders. First, lets look at the team’s needs. If you were going to put them in order, CB would be somewhere near the bottom. Aso is the premier shutdown corner in the league, he and Bailey are the only two corners with the ability to close off a half of the field when on top of their game. On the other side Routt supplanted Washington as the starter last year. While some pointed to this as an indictment of Washington, I saw it as more the Raiders recognizing where each players skills fit into the scheme. Routt is tight in the hips and has trouble with the slot receivers he faced when being brought in against 3 or 4 WR sets. Washington had trouble with the bigger #2’s he saw as the #2 CB. Playing Routt at #2 and Washington at #3 played up both players’ strengths. Both players are entering their 4th season, and look to be the kind of players that will never make a pro bowl, but are solid role players.

So does adding Hall fill a need, in my mind no. Hall is a luxury item for the Raiders, someone you add as a final piece, and not someone to add when there are so many gaping holes elsewhere.

Next look financially. The Raiders are giving up the 4th pick in the 2nd round. A place where you expect to commit somewhere between 1 and 2 million a year. With Hall they are looking at laying out somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 million a year for a position that is not a need. The Raiders also need to find a way to keep Aso, that is going to take another contract averaging over 9 million a year. That is close to 20 million for two players who play the same position. Your salary cap is 120 million you do the math.

Finally, how does Hall fit into the system? The Raiders are looking for a shutdown corner. Now, to me that’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, or more aptly in Hall’s case, hunting for unicorns. Now Hall may be a horse with a funny bump on his head. The media may be shouting Unicorn, but anyone who takes the time to break down his game, goes well it’s a funny looking horse. So the problem here is as much the Raiders looking for something that doesn’t exist, except in the rarest cases, as it is a failing on Hall’s part.

Breaking it down, this deal is a failure for the Raiders on each level. They are not addressing a need, they are not making financial sense, and they are not bringing in a player who is a good system fit (although he is as good a fit as you are going to find for an antiquated system).

To those who will say “The Raiders wouldn’t find a better player in the 2nd round”, I’ll give you that, Hall is probably better this year than what the Raiders could expect from a rookie 2nd rounder. And if the Raiders were going to spend 2nd round money for Hall I’d be all for the deal.

In the end, I’m left hoping for the best, that Aso’s work ethic rubs off on Hall and he takes the steps necessary to be the league’s next shutdown corner. Actually, the best would be the Raiders and Hall being unable to come to terms and the deal falling apart, but with the way Al is throwing around money, that may be a pipe dream.

Realistically, what I see Raiders fans being able to look forward to is a rehash of the Charles Woodson debates. We will have half of the nation loving Hall and his brash attitude. His occasional interceptions and pro bowl berths will be enough for them. The other half will point to his penitence for giving up the big play, and his huge contract and wonder if the ends justify the means.

I will say this, if the deal is completed, the Raiders have filled one hole on the team. Big-mouthed media darling who underperforms on the field, and here I thought Warren Sapp’s shoes would be hard to fill.

Friday, March 14, 2008

BPS vs. Need

So you are an NFL GM and your team has just gone “on the clock” in the NFL draft. Do you take the best player available (BPA) or do you fill a need? That is the key question that every team struggles with each and every draft. Well maybe not every team, some teams seem to always go BPA regardless of need (Matt Millen, we are looking at you) others seem to try and fill needs, value be damned (Al, kicker round 1?).

Personally I’m a big believer in maximizing the value of your picks. It means you have to look deeper than BPA and filling needs, you have to take into account the value of the pick and the size of the contract that a selection in that slot commands along with your team needs and the player rankings.

This years draft gives us a prime example of how maximizing the value of the selection would govern whom you should pick. Since I’m a Raiders fan we are going to use the #4 slot for this exercise.

Many draft boards have Darren McFadden as the BPA. Due the needs of the teams with the 1st three picks chances are McFadden will be there when the Raiders pick. The Raiders running backs are a pedestrian group with no real game breaker among them. So McFadden would seem like a great choice.

Not when you take value into account. If you are going to maximize the value you get out of the draft, you 1st have to set your draft board based on how players fit the system your team runs. With the Raiders zone cut scheme the running back and offensive line positions are not places you look to address with 1st round draft picks, at least not top 5 picks. You need a RB with good vision and the ability to take what the play gives him. A player, like McFadden, who looks to bounce outside every play and turn every play into a big gainer, is going to struggle until he learns the system.

Next you have to take into account the economic impact of your selection if you are going to maximize the value of the pick. Running backs whose impact lasts beyond 4 seasons are rare. A top 5 pick is a commitment of six years at franchise player money to an unproven player. If the Raiders were to select McFadden with the 4th overall selection they will be making him immediately among the 5 highest paid running backs in the league.

Then you look at your team needs. For the Raiders, IMO, it goes something like this:


You can swap the DE and DT slots depending on where Tommy Kelly lines up, which to me means that either one could be made #2 based on the fact that whichever you address, you can move Kelly to the other. With RB being #5 on my list, that means that you can add depth here later, and not worry about trying to find an every down back in the top 5.

Finally you look at the value of your pick. The trade value chart was a great tool when Jimmy Johnson developed it years ago. However, the incredible escalation of the contracts awarded to high draft picks has made it obsolete. There is a movement in the league to come up with a new chart to facilitate trades in the top 10, but I don’t think that you can come up with a chart that accurately addresses the draft from year to year.

This year there are five or six top prospects, then a wide gulf where the value isn’t there until late in the 1st round. But from the 2nd to the end of the 3rd there is great value in the draft. In my mind you have to adjust the chart to take this into account along with the financial aspect. This means the chart has to be adjusted every year based on how the talent in the draft lays out. Some years there are 8-10 top prospects, with little value after round 2, some years there are 2-3 top prospects with huge value in the 3rd and 4th round. But just try to get 32 different personnel staffs to agree on this every year.

Once you determine the value of your pick, and that of the later picks in the draft you can evaluate if trading down is an option for you. Using the established value chart, the Raiders would look foolish to trade down with Dallas for their two 1st round picks and a 3rd. That would be like leaving 2 - 3rd rounders on the table, but when you take the value of players available this year and economics into account, that is not a bad trade.

So you are back as the Raiders GM, the top 3 picks have come and gone, the Longs, Chris and Jake, and Glenn Dorsey are off the board. You are about to guarantee a player 28 - 30 million dollars. How do you maximize the value? Do you make a RB that doesn’t fit your system one of the top paid players at his position? Do you make a DT that duplicates the skill sets of two guys who are already on your team the 2nd highest paid player at his position in the league (Behind Dorsey)? Do you select a DE who can terrorize QB’s, but will need to be taken out on run downs? Or do you take a deal that will get widely criticized by the talking heads to move down?

If its me, I’m praying that Chris slips, hoping that someone doesn’t jump up for Gholston and planning to take advantage of the fact that this is a draft with little DT depth and teams will be desperate to fill that need, with the outside chance that Jerry Jones is crazy enough to believe that an Arkansas boy is the last piece to his Super Bowl puzzle. Talking heads be damned.

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Carolina, Temporary Normalcy

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

Thankfully, Marv’s nurse showed up right after the Rat left. So after introducing ourselves again, Romeo and I said our goodbyes to Marv. Romeo then launched into another Anti-Brady Quinn diatribe that thankfully was cut short by the waiter showing up with the orders for Marv, Shanahan and Romeo. Romeo assured the waiter that the others would return, and then happily started digging into all three meals. It was then that I spotted John Fox sitting alone at the bar. I don’t even think Romeo noticed that I left the table; he was too consumed with the spread in front of him.

Brick – is this seat taken?

Fox – No, you can sit there.

Brick – You’re John Fox right?

Fox – Yeah, wow this is the 1st time someone has recognized me outside of Charlotte.

Brick – well I guess I watch too much football. So how is the combine going?

Fox – As good as can be expected. We are stuck in the middle of round 1; the value just isn’t there this year. We are going to miss out on the top 5 guys, and overpay for someone who is should be drafted at the end of round 1.

Brick – yeah, I’ve heard that about this year’s draft, there just isn’t much value in the middle of round 1.

Fox – you’re telling me, through in the fact that every year we are picked by pundits to go back to the Super Bowl, and I’m starting to worry about my job.

Brick – well on paper your team constantly looks like the best in the South, what do you think has been the problem?

Fox – My QB can’t stay healthy, I had two running backs that can’t carry the load, I only have one wide receiver that can actually catch, and on defense other than Peppers, who would start anywhere else.

Brick – So I guess you could go just about anywhere with your pick. Although you seem to have locked up your two offensive tackles, so I can’t see you taking one of them. How about corner, you could go with Rodgers-Cromartie or McKelvin.

Fox – I like Rodgers-Cromartie’s potential, but he is very raw, you don’t think that Mike Jenkins will be there?
Brick – New Orleans seems to be resigned to take him.

Fox – Payton must be back in Parcells’ back pocket.

Brick – well you could upgrade the running back position, Mendenhall, Jones and Stewart could all be there.

Fox – yeah, but I’m just not sold on any of them being able to carry the load, they all played in college systems that don’t translate to the pro game. It would be like paying more for what we just got rid of. That’s really not an upgrade.

Brick – good point, I guess you could go wide receiver; Kelly, Jackson or Hardy could all be there for you.

Fox – I don’t like Kelly, I have enough guys with hands of stone, DeShawn would be a Steve Smith clone, and while he would help in the return game, you don’t want to run the smurfs out onto the field. Hardy is raw, but could be a real red zone threat for us while he learns the system.

Brick – so it sounds like your choice is coming down to Rodgers-Cromartie or James Hardy.

Fox – Yeah, I guess it is, god I hope someone slips or we can trade down, neither of them is going to be much help this year, and that could cost me my job. Both of them will most likely take two or three years to develop.

Brick – so lets say that you can’t trade down, who would you, take?

Fox – Well I’m going to assume that the front office gets both Moose and Alge signed to shore up the offense, and say that I’ll take my chances on Cromartie. Hopefully he can hold his own in spot duty this year and give us an occasional lift.

Brick – thanks for the insight Mr. Fox, I have one last question for you.

Fox – shoot

Brick – are you sure you’re an NFL coach? You just seem too…normal.

Fox – Yeah it’s a strange business, you just have to do what you can to get buy.

Brick – well, thank you for your time, good luck this season.

Fox – thanks, I’ll need it.

With that I excused myself and headed back over to my table. Where Romeo was finishing the cheese platter.
Romeo – Saw you talking to Foxy, he is a strange one.

Brick – really? he seemed normal to me.

Romeo – Oh no, not Foxy, he is one strange bird, he love to be dominated, there were pictures of him from before the Super Bowl where he had a ball gag in his mouth and…

Brick – OK, I really don’t care

Romeo – Oh and there was that time in Thailand when we double…

Brick – Fine, he’s a freak. You happy?

Romeo – look sucka, don’t get uppity with me since you like that fool.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
11. Buffalo Bills – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
12. Denver Broncos - Kenny Philips, S, Miami
13. Carolina Panthers – D. Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tenn. St

Thursday, March 13, 2008

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Denver, I smell a rat

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

It may have been the frustration of trying to have a conversation where we talked 1990’s Buffalo Bills in conjunction with the draft, or it could have just been the lunch rush, but it seemed like it was taking forever to get our order and Romeo was getting visibly disturbed. My attention was taken away from the door as the beads of sweat forming on Romeo’s brow began to consume my attention, so I didn’t even see our next guest come in. Than again, he may have just scurried in under the door.

Mike Shanahan – Romeo, how are things in Cleveland, hehehehe

Romeo – hello Mike, have you given up on all my cast-offs yet?

Shanahan – I got more out of them than you ever could. You may have had a better season last year, but need I remind you… Brady Quinn, hehehehe

Romeo – you are a real piece of shit, you know that right.

Shanahan – hehehehehe

Marv - Marv – Hello, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced; I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Shanahan – 4 straight superbowl losses, that must sting huh Marv hehehehe

Marv – well we are still the team to beat in the AFC, although you are building a nice team around John.

Shanahan – So I know Romeo, I know Marv, who are you (addressing me)

Brick – names Brick, I’m here studying NFL coaches, I’ve found that most can be compared to members of the animal kingdom, you could pass for a rat.

Shanahan – Raider fan huh, TIME OUT, hehehehe

The waiter shows up.

Sorry for the delay gentlemen, things are all backed up in the kitchen, is there something I can get you Sir (addressing Shanahan)

Shanahan – how about a cheese platter.

Romeo, Marv and I all crack up laughing
Shanahan – cheese, yeh, Rat, I know, hehehehe

Romeo – at least you don’t try to hide it,

Brick – So is the team going to under perform for you again this year.


Romeo – settle down Alice, your going to get us all kicked out of here, you know how restaurants hate rodents.

Marv – Hello, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced; I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Shanahan – Wide Right, hehehehehe

Marv starts to weep a little

Marv – we worked so hard that year, I thought we were going to beat the Giants, but we can’t pin that all on Scott, it was a team loss.

Shanahan – hehehehehe

Brick – you are a real ass

Shanahan – Oh, I’m just having a little fun with the old man, have you told him that he was fired

Marv stares blankly at Shanahan

Romeo – ignore him Marv, he is just bitter that without John he’ll never amount to anything.

Marv – what happened to John?

Brick – nothing, Romeo is just pointing out how important he is to the team, So Mike, what are the Broncos looking to do in this years draft?

Shanahan – well its no secret, we need to find some more weapons for Jay

Marv – John?

Shanahan – yeah , more weapons for John, our oline is aging but we find our guys later in the draft, and in the secondary we could use some safety help and you can never have enough dlineman.
Marv – well you should be able to target a receiver like Malcolm Kelly or DeSean Jackson or a safety like Kenny Philips at your slot, I think the value won’t be there at D tackle for you.

Shanahan stares blankly at Marv

Brick – yeah, its 1994 with 2008 draft picks, its giving me a headache.

Marv – Hello, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced; I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Shanahan (visibly shaken) yeah, if Kenny Philips is there, I don’t see us passing on him, either WR would be nice, but the draft is deep there and I can get one in round 2. I think I’m going to excuse myself.

Romeo – don’t let the door hit you on the way out asshole.

Shanahan (composing himself, looks at Romeo) Brady Quinn (looks at Marv) WIDE RIGHT, (looks at me) 2 division wins in the last 3 years…HEHEHEHEHE

And with that he scurried out of the bar, once again, I didn’t even see the door open.

Marv – poor Scott, he’ll never live that kick down.

Romeo – That sucka is a rat.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
11. Buffalo Bills – Sedric Ellis, DT, USC
12. Denver Broncos - Kenny Philips, S, Miami

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I've lost my balls many times

Watching TV last night I saw a commercial that made me scratch my head. It starts off with a golf ball that someone is drawing a soccer ball pattern on. Once the pattern is complete it gets signed David Beckham, and we cut to someone driving the ball. Gee what a clever add, too bad it has one major flaw. Nobody in the US gives a flying fuck about soccer or David Beckham.

Well maybe not nobody, there are people out there who watch TMZ or entertainment tonight. They care about Beckham and his freakish looking wife. Don’t get me wrong, at one point I thought she was the hottest spice girl, but she now is at least 80% plastic and does nothing for me. And do you really want to cater to the people who watch the celebrity gossip shows? They aren’t moving any product that can’t be bought in bulk at Wal-Mart. Their trailers are already packed with enough talking fish and Blue Collar comedy DVD’s. They don’t have any room for your sharpies.

Then there are the soccer fans. But lets face it, most of them are here illegally, and they know that David Beckham is no longer a top player. He is just here for a big payday prior to retirement.

So great ad Sharpie, you are ready to corner the market on celebrity worshippers and migrant workers. You do know that the only reason ESPN was hyping the arrival of Beckham is that they show MLS games, oh and Stuart Scott has a crush on him. Once again proving that the world would be a better place if Stuart Scott weren’t in it.

But the ad did get me to thinking. Golf season is fast approaching. And I do suck at the game. Now I could go out and play more often, when I played a couple times a week I was getting close to playing bogey golf. Then I decided that there were better things to do in life, and went back to loosing 10 balls every 18 holes the two or three times I play a year.

Now there is nothing more frustrating in golf to me than aimlessly searching for a golf ball that I have sliced 20 yards off the fairway. It really pisses me off. But I think I have found a way to add a silver lining to loosing a ball.

I’m going to steal a sharpie from work and modify my golf balls. I would be much happier about loosing a ball, if I knew that I could leave an insult for the lucky fuck that finds a once hit ball later. So I’ve started brainstorming insults to write on my golf balls. So far the list looks like this:

- If you found me way out here, you must really suck at golf
- While you are out here, the guy who lost me is fucking your wife
- Right now you are fondling another man’s balls
- This ball was previously used as an anal bead
- (Draw an iris on one side) If found return to Stuart Scott
- Is that cock I smell on your breath?
- Go fuck yourself

As you can see, I need some more ideas for this to work. I need enough for an entire case of balls, or else I’ll just be repeating myself, and that’s not funny. So leave your suggestions in the comments. Now don’t go trying to steal this idea, if I see a new company producing insult golf balls I’ll sue your ass. I’m going to patent this bitch.

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Buffalo, Marv is Lost

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

As the bar continued to fill for the lunch rush, a commotion arose at the bar.

Bartender – No we do not offer a senior citizens discount, I don’t care who you are. You can leave for all I care, I’m too busy to deal with you today Marv.

Romeo – Marv, hey Marv…MARV!!!!

Old man turns around.

Romeo – come over here, I’ll get you lunch.

Marv Levy – Thanks, but do I know you?

Romeo – yeah Marv, it’s me Romeo Crennel, we have know each other for years.

Marv – It’s a pleasure to meet you; I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Brick – Mr. Levy, I hate to be rude, but you haven’t been head coach of the Bills in years, in fact you don’t even work for them anymore.

Marv stares blankly at me for a few moments

Marv – A pleasure to meet you young man, I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Romeo – just play along, someone will be here soon to pick him up.

Brick (shrugging shoulders) Ok, well Marv, what brings you to the combine.

Marv – Well we are always looking for bright young talent to add to our team, I really feel this is the year we take the next step and win the Super Bowl.

Brick – wow, shouldn’t you concentrate on making the playoffs 1st, Its going to be tough to get past New England.

Marv – New England, we have dominated them for years, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. No the biggest threat to us in division in Miami and that damn Dan Marino.

Brick – Dan Marino… but he hasn’t….

Romeo – what my friend is trying to say is that you are real close, are you looking more at offense or defense.

Marv – Well Jim would always like more receivers and lineman, but if the Dallas game proved anything to us, its that we need to upgrade our defense to get the ball back and keep the K-gun on the field.

Waiter shows up at the table, takes Marv’s and Romeo’s orders.

Marv – Hello, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced; I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Brick – Yes you are, you were about to tell me about who you are looking at on the Dline.

Marv – Why yes, Bruce Smith is one of the most dominant defensive ends in the history of the NFL, but we could use some help up the middle, someone to take advantage of the double teams that he demands.

Brick – so you don’t think an upgrade at corner or wide receiver is in order.

Marv – well you see the draft is a crapshoot, and you never know what is going to fall to you. A player like Glenn Dorsey could slip, or the best player available could be a big wide out like Malcolm Kelly, we have had luck with Okalahoma boys.

Brick – Dorsey…Kelly I thought we were talking 1994

Marv stares blankly at me for a minute

Marv – Hello, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced; I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Brick – Ok, so lets say that Sedrick Ellis is there, would he be a player that the Bills are interested in?

Marv – Oh, no doubt. That young man would look great lined up next to Bruce Smith. He could make the difference in a rematch with Dallas.

Brick – well than it’s settled, I’m putting the Bills down for Sedrick Ellis, nice choice Mr. Levy.

Marv – I’m sorry, have we met… I’m Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Romeo – where is this fools nurse.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
11. Buffalo Bills – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - New Orleans, aborted

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

Due to technical difficulties the Shawn Payton interview will not be posted. I have been having trouble with the blog site crashing my Internet browser. But lets be honest. The Saints segment sucked, it was the worst one I put together, and I’m not all that disappointed it will never see the Internet.

It went something like this, Payton comes in, Romeo eats, Parcells shows up. Payton finds out that Keith Rivers is not available. Starts crying. Parcells tells him to act like a man and to make Jenkins an offer he can’t refuse. You know Godfather bullshit. You’ve read it 100 times before. No need to rehash it here.

We’ll continue with the questionable humor of the mock draft tomorrow.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC
10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

Monday, March 10, 2008

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Bengals, Mugging Marvin

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

With Romeo entering the Steak and Shake, I got my food to go and ordered an extra milkshake. I distracted Romeo with the Milkshake and left before I lost my appetite again. Back in my hotel room I looked over my notes and felt pretty good. On the 1st day in Indy I managed to get a hold of the top 8 teams. The bar I selected seemed like a winner.

The next morning I walked into the bar at about 10:30. The place was still a mess from the night before. The staff was hurrying around trying to get the place back in order before the lunch rush. I got my recording equipment back in order, but in doing so got some nasty shit on my hands. When I went into the bathroom to wash up I got my 1st surprise of Day 2.

Walking by the 2nd stall on my way to the sink, I saw a man passed out and just coming to.

Brick – Are you all right?

Man – (with face in hands) Uhhhnnnn, last thing I remember is telling Travis that I was heading out with him tonight to keep him out of trouble. What time is it?

Brick – about 11am.

Man – Oh shoot, I’ve been here all night, and the workouts are about to start.

Brick – So you are here for the combine.

Marvin Lewis (looking up) – yeah, I’m head coach of the Bengals.

Brick – Oh shit, I recognize you, can you get up.

Lewis – Yeah, my head feels like heck, I think I got mugged. Dang, my wallet is gone.

Brick – Common, I’ll buy you a coffee.

I went over to the sink and washed my hands, Marvin washed his face, staring blankly into the mirror. The two of us then went back out to the bar, where you know who was waiting for us.

Romeo – Marvin, looks like you went out with the boys again last night. Don’t you ever learn.

Marvin – I thought it would be different this time. I thought that if I went out with Chris, Chad, Odell, and J.J. there wouldn’t be any trouble.

Romeo – Let me guess, your wallet is missing…again.

Marvin – Yeah, but at least I still have my cell phone. (Marvin takes out phone, hits 1 on speed dial)

Marvin – Amex, yeah its me Marvin again. Good, how are the kids. So what charges did I incur last night. No, I wasn’t at the eager beaver, no I didn’t pay $10,000.00 to mikes bail bonds, No I didn’t buy a water pipe. That’s it; well I guess they did behave themselves last night. Thanks.

Marvin – Well that went better than expected.

Waiter comes over with coffee, 3 diet cokes and two bacon egg and cheese sandwiches. Puts coffee in front of Marvin, the rest goes to Romeo.

Waiter – Mr. Lewis, good to see you again. Looks like you went out with the guys last night.

Marvin – yeah, those crazy rascals. Always leaving me in the bathroom. That’s why I like Indy, in Cincinnati someone would have pissed on me, here in Indy everyone is so polite, I just have some puke on the back of my shirt.

Waiter – the guys said you would be picking up the tab this morning. (Hands him check).

Marvin – Wow, $8,034.43, they are really maturing, this even includes damages, I paid at least twice this last year.

Waiter – yeah, and only 1 reported rape last night, you are really turning that team around.

Marvin – It just takes a little tough love, and a strong belief in God.

Brick – So Marvin, did you see anyone impressive yesterday at the combine?

Romeo – Hey, you’re the fool you was suppose to buy me lunch yesterday.

Brick – Remember I bought you a milkshake last night.

Romeo – Oh yeah, I do like milkshakes.

Marvin – There are some fine young men in this year’s draft. Did you know that Darren McFadden only has 4 children out of wedlock, and 2 priors at nightclubs, that young man has his head on straight.
Brick – I can see how he would be a good fit, but I think he is going to be a Falcon.

Marvin – That makes sense, there is an organization that values character individuals. They really have their act together. So it sounds like you have some idea as to whom the teams ahead of us are taking. Mind if I take a look at the list?

I passed over my mock draft and my list of players still available. Marvin took a quick look.

Marvin – I see you have heights, weights and 40 times listed here, but no information on the guys character. You really need some more information in order to make a good decision as to whom to draft. I see you still have Sedric Ellis and Keith Rivers available. Either one of those young men could shore up the middle of my defense.

Brick – So any preference?

Marvin – well you just can’t go wrong with a player from USC. That program produces some real quality individuals. We drafted Frostee Rucker from USC and he has produced just as expected. But I think we need more help at LB than at DL. I mean I had Dhani Jones on the squad last year. There was just no getting through to him, such a waste.

Brick – So I should put you down for Keith Rivers.

Marvin – Well, I do need to perform a thorough background check, but he seems like a winner to me. Thanks for the coffee, I need to get back over to the combine.

Brick – Shouldn’t you go change first, you do have puke on you.

Marvin – Oh, no. I’m sure those rascals went back to my room last night since they had my wallet. These are the only clothes I have left.

Brick – Well good luck to you.

Marvin – And may god be with the two of you, especially you Romeo, you do know that god hates fags, like Quinn.

Romeo – I hate him too.

Marvin then left the bar, limping noticeably.

Romeo – glad I don’t have to sit next to that stinky fool for the next 3 days.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Keith Rivers, LB, USC

Friday, March 7, 2008

Finding a new home for DeAngelo

Things seemed to have slowed down a bit with free agency, as is to be expected about a week in. So its time to start looking forward to the NFL draft, I know, it seems like I already have with the daily mock draft posts, but there is no thinking involved with those, Romeo did all the work. Now, I’m not going to quit talking about free agency, but the focus will shift.

Where does DeAnglo Go?

In a mock draft that I’m taking part in on another site the Texans pulled off a blockbuster trade to obtain DeAngelo Hall. And of course being the know-it-all that I am, I blasted the GM for the Texans for getting hosed.

But it got me to thinking, where will Hall end up? I’m guessing that the Falcons are torn as far as Hall is concerned. If they can get him to shut his trap and buy in, he is something they are short on, a good young player. But he is also a link to the old regime, and probably the biggest Vick supporter on the team. A whole ugly mess all the way around.

As far as Hall is concerned, he wants out and has made no secret of his desires. Unless someone on the Falcon’s staff can reach him, he will be a distraction all year.

So where does DeAngelo fit? I filtered through the team. First I took a look at team needs. Who needs a CB. Not who would like a CB, while Hall isn’t a shut down corner, he is still one of the better guys out there.

That got me this list:

Texans (Sure I blasted them, but they only have 1 quality starter, if he is healthy)

Sure the Giants have been the rumored landing spot, but they didn’t make my list, as their need isn’t high enough to warrant giving up the 1st round choice. Now we start witling down the list. The Texans have Daunte Robbinson who will be looking for a contract next year, and have too many needs to wrap up that much money in CB’s. The Saints are in division and have spent too much on free agents the last two off seasons to tie up Samual type money. The Ravens have two good corners, they can’t afford Hall, even if their guys are long in the tooth and injury prone. The Dolphins and Chiefs both have too many other needs. And the Browns have already blown their load by trading all of their picks this year.

That leaves me with two teams. The Pats and the Cowboys. And to be honest, they were the two I focused on before I even started this exercise. They are both a player or two away from being the prohibitive favorite to reach the Super Bowl, and they both have relatively few other needs.

So what would I give up if I were the GM for one of these teams? Well if I were the Cowboys, its easy. I’d offer up the 2nd of my 1st round picks. Its 4 spots higher than what my in division rival will offer up, so even if I’m rejected, I’ve just upped what the Giants would have to give. Jerry Jones could still get Felix Jones with pick 22 or a young WR. It’s the kind of big splash that Jerry likes to make.

Now the Pats are a little more complicated. They draft way to high in round 1 to give up the draft pick. But with a little maneuvering they could obtain the picks necessary to pull this off. Now I’m assuming that the Saints are targeting Keith Rivers, LB, USC. He is a top talent who fills their biggest need, other than CB. But he also fills one of the Bengals’ biggest needs. And the Bengals draft 1 spot ahead of the Saints. So the Pats can play the two teams off each other to get their 1st and 2nd round pick for the Pats #1.

The 2nd round pick that the Pats pick up with that trade is the amo they should use to try and pry Hall away from the Falcons. Now if the Cowboys or Giants are serious about sending a 1st round pick to Atlanta, than the Pats are going to have to sweeten the Pot. But they have that sweetener with their 2nd round pick and both their and the Raiders pick in the 3rd round. So some combination of 2 of those 4 picks should get the job done. And the Pats would still have 3 picks in the 1st three rounds to find LB help and get younger at other aging positions.

Cowboys or Pats, that’s where I’d put my money for Hall ending up. Sometimes the rich do just get richer.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

2008 - Brickinthebox Mock-Draft - Baltimore, Steak and Shake

Brickinthebox is live on tape delay from an Indianapolis bar across the street from the NFL combine. We secretly taped the conversations that occurred between ourselves and NFL bigwigs to gain some incredible insight into the NFL draft, which we are sharing here with our reader. Warning – Spoilers ahead.

My surveillance equipment disabled by the despicable Bill Bellichick, and my mind unable to stomach watching Romeo take another bite, I put down some money, collected my tapes and headed outside. I figured that I would have to get up early again the next morning to get my setup back in order, so it was grab a quick bite and hit the hotel room to start transcribing the days events.

I spotted a steak and shake across the way and figured it couldn’t be any worse that what I’d just been through. The place was pretty packed and I found myself in line in front of two large men. When a table for 4 opened up they asked if they could join me. Recognizing them I wasn’t about to say no. Thus began my dinner with the Ryan brothers, Rob and Rex.

Rex – Thanks for letting us join you.

Rob – Yeah, usually we are able to get a seat right away; we are regulars here.

Brick – You mean the two of you come all the way to Indy for the combine and are regulars at Steak and Shake?

Rob – yeah, we’ve been coming here since we worked for Buddy.

Brick – So what do you recommend?

Rex – you can’t go wrong at Steak and Shake. It’s all great. Last year I gained 12 pounds over the combine weekend, all thanks to Steak and Shake.

Brick – Oh, shit, I though Romeo was bad.

Rob – You ran into Mr. T. where is that sorry fucker.

Brick – across the street at the bar, he’s been there all day.

Rex – I’d spend all day at the bar too if I had Brady Quinn as the future of my team.

Rob – So have you been over there with him all day? I bet you two have run into just about every big shot in the league.

Brick – Yeah, quite a few anyway. Ran into Mr. Davis, looks like he is planning on taking Chris Long.

Rob – Well that’s a step in the right direction.
Rex – You’ll still suck. You ever think that you’ll have a better defence than me?

Rob – Fuck you Rex, if I hadn’t been hamstrung by the system Mr. Davis requires and washed up old men like Sapp, I’d have this D running on all cylinders by now.

Rex – oh, cry me a fucking river. I’ve had to overcome the 3 and out genius of Billick for the last 8 years and still have this ring. When are you going to get a ring where you aren’t riding Mangini’s coat-tails.

Brick – Mangini’s coat-tails? Don’t you mean Belichick?

Rob – How many rings has Bill won without Eric. Eric may be the smartest motherfucker in the league.

Rex – So you ran into Mr. Davis, did you run into Ozzy? Any clue what he is planning on?

Brick – Nope, didn’t see Ozzy today, he must have actually been playing attention at the combine. So what do you think the Ravens are going to do?

Guy at next table – Maybe you should be asking me that.

Rex – who are you.

Guy at next table – I’m John Harbaugh, your new head coach.

Rex – didn’t you play QB for the Colts?

Harbaugh – no that was my brother. I was QB coach for Phily.

Rex – never heard of you.

Rob – Well come on over and fill us in.

Harbaugh gets up and joins our table.

Rex – you do know that Ozzy runs the draft room, what he says goes.

Harbaugh – that may work for your defense, but I’m going to have to have some say on Offense, the talent there is lacking.

Brick - So you’re saying that you’ll be looking at offense with the 1st pick.

Before Harbaugh can answer Ray Lewis storms in the front door. Dances for two minutes then comes over to the table.

Lewis – Rex, I think we need a dominant tackle in this years draft to keep the blockers off me.

Harbaugh - I don’t think this team needs to take another DL this high Ray, we need some help on offense.

Lewis – who the fuck is this cracker?

Harbaugh - I’m John Harbaugh, your new head coach.

Lewis – didn’t you play QB for the Colts?

Harbaugh – no that was my brother. I was QB coach for Phily.

Lewis – never heard of you.

Harbaugh – Ray, I’m sure that we’ll work great together, but you must understand that I need to rebuild the offense so we can put some points on the board

Lewis – Well Jim…

Harbaugh – John

Lewis (now reaching into his jacket) – Jim, Jay, John it doesn’t fucking matter, you need to understand that nobody talks back to god’s linebacker

With that, Rex jumps up from the table and grabs Ray. I think I saw a blade, but Rex managed to get Ray calmed down and out of the Restaurant before anything else happened.

Rex – Jim

Harbaugh – John

Rex – you really have to watch what you say to Ray. He is a bit crazy.

Harbaugh – I’m sure that we’ll be able to work well together.

Rob – yeah, if you don’t get stabbed in the 1st team meeting.

Rex – yeah, welcome to Shaw Shank.

Harbaugh – I’m sure the inmates running the asylum aspect of Baltimore is overblown.

Rex – sure it is (lifts up shirt, revealing multiple scars from stab wounds).

Brick – so Jim

Harbaugh – John

Brick – yeah, so who are you targeting in the draft.

The front door flys open and Ed Reed dances for two minutes before coming over to our table.

Reed – Rex, I need more money.

Rex – You just got an extension

Reed – I am the best safety in football, and I need to up my home security, Ray found out where I live again.

Harbaugh – Edward, I think you need to recognize that this is a team game, and you will have to sacrifice some in order for the team to succeed.

Reed – Who the fuck are you?

Harbaugh - I’m John Harbaugh, your new head coach.

Reed – didn’t you play QB for the Colts?

Harbaugh – no that was my brother. I was QB coach for Phily.

Reed – never heard of you. But Jim…

Harbaugh – John

Reed – your name doesn’t matter, you had better recognize that I’m the best player on this team and Ray Ray can’t handle it. Unless you want me to end up like Sean Taylor you had better get me paid.

With that Ed Reed left the Steak and Shake.

Harbaugh – well this has been quite the eye opening experience. Well before we are interrupted again, I’ll let you know that I really like young Matt Ryan out of Boston College.

Rex – A QB (stands up and punches Harbaugh in the face) sorry about that, its sort of a family tradition. But a QB, how many QB’s is this team going to waste money and draft picks on.

Harbaugh (holding jaw) Well I need something to work with, otherwise your D is going to have to do it all again… I think I lost a tooth. It was nice meeting you gentalmen.

Rob gets up, punches Harbaugh in the face

Rob – nice meeting you Jim.

Harbaugh – John… nice meeting you too.

Harbaugh leaves the Steak and Shake.

Brick – So Rex, how do you feel about Ryan.

Rex – doesn’t matter to me, as long as we are healthy on D we should compete again. I can’t do anything about the offense.

Rob – He’s better than anything you have now.

Rex – Yeah, I guess so.

Romeo barges in the door.

Romeo – where is the sucka who was suppose to buy me lunch, I’m gonna kill that fool…Mmmmmmmm Milkshakes.

Brickinthebox mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
3. Atlanta Falcons – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4. Oakland Raiders – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. KC Chiefs – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE/LB Ohio St.
7. NE Patriots – Dan Conner, LB, Penn St.
8. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College