Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chicago Bears 2015 Draft Breakdown: Eddie Goldman

With the seventh pick in the second round, the Bears selected Eddie Goldman, a nose tackle out of Florida State. Since the Bears are transitioning to a 3-4 defense, nose tackle was one of their biggest needs, so on a strictly need basis, this pick makes a ton of sense. Still, reviews were mixed for Eddie Goldman, so I wanted to take a closer look and figure out exactly what the Bears got with this second round pick. Thanks to Draft Breakdown, I was able to watch his games against Florida and Louisville.

I had the following two thoughts after his Florida game:

1. The thing that most worries me about Goldman is that he is SLOW off the ball. Like everybody is moving, and then a beat later, he gets out of his stance. Offensive linemen were on him before he even had a chance to get any momentum going, and it was baffling to see. The ball is usually snapped right under his damn nose, and he was just hanging out in his three point stance, hoping a coach would bring him ice cream (no coach ever did in the games I watched).

2. When he finally got moving, he almost went to just stand straight up instead of plowing forward, so linemen got underneath him. For a nose tackle, I saw a single center or single guard take care of blocking him alone WAY too many times. The number one job of a nose tackle is occupying blockers to help others make plays. If he is getting handled by a single dude, he is really fighting an uphill battle to becoming a valuable asset. He's not going to make a ton of plays, but he has to be good enough to put his teammates in position to make plays.

I seriously thought he may be the worst player in the draft from what I saw in that game. It was shockingly bad. Then I watched his game against Louisville, and he was a completely different player.

He may have still been a hair slow coming off the ball, but it was nothing like the Florida game, and he was still able to get good leverage and power through offensive linemen. He got stood up and blocked easily in the Florida game, but he brought that ass in this game and just powered through Louisville's o-line.

And there was no lollygagging for him. He got after it. This play shows that hustle.

That's not just impressive hustle for a nose tackle, that'd be impressive hustle for a linebacker. He can't quite catch the running back, but he had a little help from his friends.

Watch what he does to the Louisville right guard on this play.
That is simply not fair. Unfair, some might say.

There was a little technique on that last play. You want to just see brute strength from him? Yeah, I can do that.
That center is absolutely helpless there. That's the kind of potential that Goldman brings to the Bears.

After taking everything in, I would say that his ceiling may be even higher than Danny Shelton's. When this guy goes, he GOES, and he looks like an unstoppable force. It's a ton of fun to watch. But this guy could also be released before his rookie contract ends if he is not motivated and shows more of that Florida-Goldman. If the Bears think they can keep him motivated, it should turn into a great pick. A nose tackle's job is take up space, but if Goldman isn't motivated, he'll only be a waste of it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chicago Bears 2015 Draft Breakdown: Kevin White

Kevin White is a big, physical, super athletic receiver. Those are all very good things. I lambasted the draft pick on Twitter when it was made, but I do believe that the best draft strategy is taking the best player available and only drafting for need when you see two prospects as very closely rated. Personally, I would have gone with Vic Beasley, but the Bears clearly thought very high of Kevin White, and if he was their top dude, then it was the right decision, even if there will be receiver options much later in this draft (Side note: All teams should try to get one spot ahead of the Bears. Last year, Aaron Donald, and this year, Leonard Williams. I really need to stop getting my hopes up and just take my dog for a long walk or something during the draft). Anyway, I admittedly didn't do a ton of research on the top receivers, so I wanted to take a deeper look at Kevin White and see exactly just what the Bears got with the seventh overall pick.

One thing that is undeniable about Kevin White is that he is an explosive athlete. He shows that on this play against Oklahoma where he does a stutter and go, and the Oklahoma cornerback is helpless.
It's a stutter step to the outside and OU's corner makes one false step before White breaks up the field and is gone at that point. He gets about five yards of separation and Trickett throws a nice ball out there, but he has the type of raw physical tools that are going to make him a tough cover at the next level. And just for fun, here's the end zone view of the play.

When you have speed like White, it can really open things up, and this player later in the Oklahoma game shows that.
He has the cornerback so scared of him going deep that he is still three yards away when he catches the ball on a quick curl. That gives him space to make things happen, and he is able to evade the corner and pick up a first down on what is a very simple route and throw. The impressive thing about his game against Oklahoma is how bad he made Zack Sanchez look in this game. Sanchez is a pretty decent NFL prospect for 2016 (if he declares), and he looked totally outmatched at times against White. Competition is something that gets overlooked too often, so this was an incredibly impressive display by White.

When he gets in the open field, he is a guy that creates yards with his strength more than with his quickness. He looks to bull guys over, as he isn't great at making guys miss with the ball in his hands. If he goes up against a corner who isn't very physical, White is likely going to eat his lunch.

Another thing I like about White is that he is always putting his hands away from his body to catch the ball. He is not a body catcher, which is a skill that will not translate to the NFL. Here, he does an excellent job of high-pointing the football and attacking it with his hands to make the touchdown catch.
You can't do it much better than that. And here's another angle for funsies.

If you think it's a fluke, this may help change your mind.
Dude really doesn't like Alabama.

I also looked at his athletic traits using Mock Draftable's excellent web graphs to show where guys rank at their position. Basically, he's big, strong, and fast, but he's not going to beat people with his quickness.

He also had a very interesting top comparison in Braylon Edwards. Edwards is seen as more of a bust now, but he was really good early on until his inability to catch the ball finally caught up with him. Still, a Braylon Edwards that can catch is a pretty valuable asset and somebody who can immediately pay dividends in the red zone. Although I would have liked to see the defense get a boost, Kevin White probably has the highest ceiling of any receiver in this draft. It's tough to be too mad about that.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What Would You Give Up For Johnny Manziel?

With the draft coming up this week, there are teams that are still trying to figure out what to do about their quarterback situation. Obviously, two teams will solve their issue with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Although I like Brett Hundley, I doubt he will set the world on fire from day one, and I can't imagine he will earn a starting job to start the 2015 season. Still, that leaves one guy who might be worth a shot in solving a quarterback problem. That man is Johnny Manziel.

A lot of people think that Manziel is already a bust, but I'm not sure if we learned much of anything from his performance. Before the draft last year, there was a consensus that Manziel was a first round pick. Just because he struggled in limited playing time in an offense (both in scheme and personnel) that didn't exactly play to his strengths, it doesn't mean that the guy has no chance at success in the NFL.

The fact that his off-the-field concerns have only intensified in the last year is a pretty bad sign, but it also presents an opportunity. Cleveland is doing everything they can to avoid committing to him, so they may be ready to sell. The question becomes, what would you give up to acquire Johnny Football?

The first thing to figure out is whether you want Jonathan F. Football at all. As a team without a good quarterback (Bears), I am definitely interested in the opportunity to acquire a young quarterback with potential. Ideally, the Bears could just do a straight swap of Cutler for Manziel, but with the draft this week, I think it is best to look at it from a draft pick perspective.

Would I give up a first round pick for Johnny Manziel? That is a pretty easy answer. No, I would not give up a first round pick for Johnny Manziel.

Would I give up a second round pick for Johnny Manziel? On talent alone, I think the move would make sense, but he does have some pretty big question marks that have surfaced, both on and off the field. I'm certainly not paying sticker price for Manziel, so although I would give it some consideration, I think I would pass on the opportunity to get Manziel for a second round pick.

Would I give up a third round pick for Johnny Manziel? Aw crap, we're really on the border now. I think I would need to get a 5th back in the deal to pull the trigger on it, and that would make it worth it. They could probably get me with a 6th if they decided they really wanted to push it. The talent is still there with Manziel, and you have to take chances to get a quarterback who has the potential to be very good. It's worth the risk at that point.

Would I give up a fourth round pick for Johnny Manziel? No negotiations necessary, I would immediately make this happen.

But I'd still rather trade Jay Cutler for him instead.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Most Overrated Players in the 2015 NFL Draft

Yesterday, I showed my positive side by looking at the most underrated prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. But with every yin, there must be a balancing yang, and today is that balance of negativity as I look at the most overrated prospects in the upcoming draft.

QB - Bryce Petty - Baylor
Here is my in-depth look at Petty; I've also seen a lot of love for Garrett Grayson, and he was another guy that I just couldn't get behind.

RB - Melvin Gordon - Wisconsin
I don't think Gordon is a bad runing back, but I also don't think he's worthy of a first round pick. The people saying that it's close between Gordon and Gurley have definitely watched those two guys play and are basing that purely off statistics. Melvin Gordon is the best running back to come out of Wisconsin in recent years, but is that really that great of an accomplishment? Every Wisconsin back has put up impressive numbers, but considering the success of Ron Dayne, John Clay, Montee Ball, and James White (although I am still a James White believer), it's tough to say how great of a back Gordon really is. What I'll say is I think he's good, but I'm not sure if he's any better than the second tier of running backs, so I would hold off instead of using a high pick on Gordon.

WR - Sammie Coates - Auburn
Yes, he's big, fast, and explosive as an athlete. But he can't catch, and that's, like, a really big deal for a wide receiver. There are certain things a coach can help with, but if Coates hasn't learned to reliably track a football and complete a catch at this point in his football career, it probably ain't happenin'.

Edge - Randy Gregory - Nebraska
Honestly, I think Gregory has fallen quite a ways with his failed drug test, but he was seen as a top-5 pick after the season, and I just never saw it. There's not a lot of power in him, so he's going to have to be a speed rusher, and I didn't see enough moves to give most offensive linemen trouble. Rushing is his biggest strength, and I'm not sure if it's enough to make him a full-time pass rusher.

CB - Trae Waynes - Michigan State
I don't get this guy at all. Okay, I guess I get him a little bit, he's very athletic, but there is no way this guy is a shutdown corner. I don't see him as a first round prospect, and I don't see how anybody who watched him against Baylor could think that he is. I have consistently seen receivers get open, and it's not that the receivers are doing anything special, but Waynes isn't physical and doesn't change direction very well. That's not a great combination for a cornerback.

SS - Landon Collins
I am leery of any Alabama safety. Just looking at their success at the NFL level, it seems like they are not a good bet. Safeties are really tough to scout from the sideline view, but there are already plenty of question marks about his ability to react to passes and how he will hold up in coverage. This is a weak draft for safeties, but even with the lack of top-tier talent, a first round pick is likely to be a mistake.

Prospects get hyped for different reasons, but I feel as if these guys hype far outweighs their future potential. Still, best of luck to them. They are all about to be a whole lot richer than me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Most Underrated Players in the 2015 NFL Draft

With the draft coming up this Thursday, it is a good time to look at the prospects that I like more than most people. Some of these guys aren't the deepest of sleepers, but I do feel they are being underrated by the general public/cornucopia of draft gurus. Ultimately, my goal is that my favorite team, the Chicago Bears, will see this list and follow my recommendations, but I would settle for the Buccaneers taking my recommendations as they are the team I live closest to these days.

QB - Shane Carden - East Carolina
I talked about him extensively here. Honorable mention for Brett Hundley.

RB - Todd Gurley - Georgia
Gurley is the best player in this draft. He needs to have a full recovery from his knee injury, but it looks like things are going well on that end. Now, even had he not injured the knee, he isn't worth the top pick in the draft despite being the best player. Running back is not as important of a position as it used to be, but Gurley is a guaranteed stud in a draft that really doesn't have another one. It would make zero sense for the Bears to draft him, and yet, I would actually be kind of pumped if they did. He's that good.

RB - David Cobb - Minnesota
He got downgraded because of an unimpressive 40 time, but 40 times are pretty worthless when it comes to running backs. This guy is just a good running back. He can punish defenses and grind out yards. People talk about this running back class being loaded and then talk about Gordon and Gurley at the top, but the depth is stupid good. I could have easily mentioned Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, David Johnson, Mike Davis, and probably some others. This is a good draft to take a running back.

WR - Stefon Diggs - Maryland
Maryland has had pretty poor quarterback play these last few years, so Diggs was never really given a chance to shine. Still, the skill-set is there, as the guy is smooth in and out of his breaks and knows how to get open and create after the catch. He will make a receiver-needy team very happy with a mid-round pick.

TE - AJ Derby - Arkansas
This is mostly a homer pick (former Iowa QB) as I only saw the big highlights from Derby's season, but there was enough there to dream on. He'll probably go undrafted, but the guy has good athleticism, he's big and strong, and he's shown enough potential in running routes and tracking the ball. This is a bet on athleticism, but that's the type of guy that is worth a flyer in the 7th round, or definitely as a free agent.

OT - Jake Fisher - Oregon
Fisher seems to be getting overlooked as a first round option, and I have to say I'd be pretty pumped if my favorite team was able to get him in round two. He's a very athletic lineman, and Oregon's offense ran much smoother when he was healthy. A guy like TJ Clemmings may have a higher ceiling, but Fisher offers a high ceiling with a reasonably high floor as well.

DT - Grady Jarrett - Clemson
Jarrett is a guy that I really like, but is made for the Bears old defense and not the new one. Still, he's a guy with Geno Atkins-level upside as all he did in college was make plays. He's not a nose, but he can cause havoc in the backfield as a three technique DT. He was really overlooked, but it seems like his stock has been rising in the media the past few weeks. We'll see if that carries over to his draft position.

OLB - Vic Beasley - Clemson
I am so ridiculously high on Vic Beasley for this year. I want the Bears to get him at number seven so badly. He'll probably be available, and the Bears will probably pass on him for Randy Gregory or something stupid like that, but man, Vic Beasley is fun to watch, and I'd really enjoy watching him on a team that I cheer for.

ILB - Eric Kendricks - UCLA
I talked about him yesterday, and the point stands. Inside linebackers are underrated right now on the whole, and if you have a chance to get a guy with the floor of a good player and the ceiling of a pro bowler, it is a no brainer to take advantage. This guy has great instincts, and he makes plays, which is the single best skill at translating to the next level.

CB - Senquez Golson - Ole Miss
I'll admit that I haven't done enough studying on later round guys to make any sort of proclamation, but I have heard some good things about Senquez Golson, who I will support since he is my height and had good college production (definitely supporting more for the former than the latter).

Tomorrow, we'll look at the opposite end of the spectrum with the most overrated players in this draft.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Should The Chicago Bears Do In The 2015 NFL Draft?

Going into the draft, the Bears, as well as every other team outside of the Buccaneers have three options with their first pick. They can trade up, they can stay in their position and draft, or they can trade down. Let's break down those options and see what is the best move for the Bears with their first pick:

Trade Up
This is the least likely of the scenarios and for good reason. The Bears just have way too many holes on their team to be sacrificing draft picks. They basically need an entire defense, half of an offensive line, a quarterback, and another wide receiver. Outside of that, they're set. The only way I can see them trading up is if Lovie Smith wants to be reunited with Jay Cutler and agrees to trade down six picks for that privilege. Does anybody see that happening? So, yeah, I think the Bears should avoid trading up.

Stay and Draft
That brings us to our next option, stay at number 7 and make the pick. Honestly, there are four guys that I would love to see the Bears get at number 7. Four is a good number, but when there's six teams selecting in front of you, it's not a great number. Let's take a quick look at all four guys:

Jameis Winston 
I mean, it's not likely that he falls that far, but I'd be pretty dang excited if he did.

Marcus Mariota 
I mean, it's not likely that he falls that far, but I'd be pretty dang excited if he did.

Leonard Williams 
I don't see him as a can't miss stud, but I do really like him, and I admittedly have trouble scouting the talent in 3-4 defensive ends. There is a lot of subtlety that they bring on plays, and their responsibilities aren't as flashy as other positions. Still, if he falls for some reason, I would be incredibly pleased if the Bears could add an essential piece to their defense.

Dante Fowler Jr.
Twitchy. That is the first word that comes to mind when watching Dante Fowler Jr. Although it doesn't sound like a good thing, it is emblematic that this guy is just loaded with fast-twitch muscle fiber as he can explode into any movement. It can be frenetic, but this is a guy that could be successful in a variety of roles. He was never a full-time pass rusher, but I think he could do some serious damage if that was his primary role while also being effective holding up in the run and dropping into coverage. Even when he doesn't make the play, he finds ways to cause havoc.

Vic Beasley 
Most mock drafts have Beasley falling well beyond the Bears selection at 7, so some may consider this a reach. This is not a reach, and I really hope that he makes it to 7, as this guy is the real deal. He's my favorite pass rushing prospect since Von Miller, and he does things like this that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I like that. This clip made me exclaim, "Holy shit," and that is just about the highest honor a prospect can get. The only thing higher is if he keeps doing ridiculous things to the point where I start laughing at how ridiculous the guy is. He is the most likely guy to be there when the Bears draft at seven, and I would be ecstatic if they took him to be a key piece in their transformation into a 3-4 defense.

Trade Down
The last option the Bears have in the draft is to trade down. Speculating on who they could trade with and what they could receive is a fool's errand, so I'm not even going to try. Still, I did want to go over a few options that could be targeted later in the first round.

Danny Shelton
The thing with Shelton is that he is a good nose guard, but he's not on the level of a guy like Haloti Ngata. I have heard quite a few Vince Wilfork comparisons, and I do like the comparison for a ceiling, but Wilfork was far better at shedding blocks and creating havoc in the backfield than Shelton is at this point. I have very little doubt that Shelton is an above average nose tackle, but I don't see him as the type of game changing talent that you need to be looking for with the seventh pick in the draft. He's the type of guy that if the Bears traded down and got him, I would be good with it. He has a good motor and makes some nice moves. At the same time, if they traded down and didn't get him, he's not a guy I'd be heartbroken on missing out on.

Brandon Scherff
This may be some Hawkeye bias shining through, but Scherff is a monster. I do question his ability to stay at tackle, but they could build one hell of an interior line if they had Scherff at one guard and Kyle Long at the other spot. Their defense should take precedent, but I will never be disappointed with a team that drafts a stud offensive lineman.

Eric Kendricks
I think this guy is going to be available late in the first round, and possibly even lasting until the second, but that seems pretty ludicrous to me. This guy is just a really good football player. Nobody seems to doubt this, and yet, the middle linebacker position has quietly become undervalued, even though I still think it is essential to a great defense. If he goes late in the first (or later), I feel like the worst case scenario is that people say it was a solid pick, but it still brings upside as the guy could be a pro bowler who captains your defense.

As I said before, the Bears have a lot of holes on their roster. This draft isn't going to turn them into a contender, but it can give a jump start to the rebuild. Nailing that first pick is essential. As for the later rounds in the draft, I will be posting my most underrated and overrated prospects in this draft the next couple days.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Shawn Michaels Became The Heartbreak Kid

As I go through the years of pro wrestling on WWE Network, one of the most fascinating aspects is watching how wrestlers are able to change over the years. The physical changes are obvious, but the personality changes are far more interesting. Shawn Michaels is one of the most fascinating character changes over the years. The most well-known characters that Michaels portrayed was a bland babyface as one half of The Rockers, and his portrayal as the cool guy sex symbol as The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. But in between there was a period where he was neither, as he switched from a babyface who didn't quite yet know how to be a heel.

Although throwing your tag team partner through a plate glass window is a great way to get heat, Shawn Michaels didn't yet know who his character really was beyond, "Bad guy." Everybody could see that he had way more potential than Marty Jannetty, but I'm not sure if anybody really knew where it was going. But he kept getting time, first with his interview show, The Heartbreak Hotel, but even then he was a little stiff. The most important thing that happened to him was when Macho Man left, and he was allowed to take over commentary on Raw for several weeks.

When he first started on commentary, he knew to take the heel perspective but didn't quite know how to talk it out. Vince McMahon may have been shitty at commentating wrestling matches, but he was always willing to set up his broadcast partners. Now some, like Rob Bartlett, took the ball and ran it into his own end zone, laid down, and shit his pants. But, Shawn Michaels slowly warmed up to talking during the matches. It started as the bad is good, good is bad trope that is easy and predictable, but he went from arrogant bad guy to conceited, self-absorbed, sex symbol bad guy, and the latter led to a very long shelf life.

I think that people remember Shawn Michaels as a great talker from his career, but that was never his greatest strength. I mean, it's not like you remember any great HBK lines outside of the lyrics to his song (which was written by Jimmy Hart). Where his real strength lied was in reacting to things as he was always comfortable giving the proper reactions whether it be with words or looks. Too many people in wrestling will agree with the guys on their side and disagree with the guys against them, but Michaels actually used some nuance. Him, Diesel, and Undertaker were going to tag together against Yokouzuna, Owen Hart, and British Bulldog. They had a promo together and Shawn and Diesel are keeping things lighthearted, and Undertaker takes it to a way darker place, and HBK gets a WTF look on his face, and then Undertaker finishes, and he goes into the "Yeah, what he said," reaction. It's subtle, but it makes him relatable instead of a caricature of how a person would react.

Although I still frequently listen to Sexy Boy, I'm not the biggest mark for HBK. Still, he had one of the ten most successful wrestling careers of all time, and that never would have happened had he not been given the chance to fail. He wasn't great at first, and had he not been able to refine his act subtly during commentary, he may never have caught on like he did.

WWE usually uses one wrestler to do commentary for one segment during Raw each week. Letting different guys take over an entire show and helping them find their voice may lead to some awkward moments, but it could also help WWE uncover the next great superstar. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oz - The Most WCW Gimmick Ever

The crown jewel of the WWE Network is all of their WCW stuff. I was a WWE kid, so the early years are all a total mystery to me, and you get to find out how great people like the Fabulous Freebirds were. Then you get into the Nitro years where things are legitimately great with the Cruiserweight division for great matches and the nWo which is basically the Michael Jordan of wrestling factions. Then the final two years are probably the most amazing of all, as it is so amazingly bad that I cannot help to enjoy it.

The one thing that I learned from the early years is that WCW was great at identifying talent but truly awful at developing that talent. They had Triple H, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash well before they became big stars in the WWE, but they weren't able to do anything of note with those guys. Today, I want to focus on Nash who had three awful gimmicks in WCW. At first, he was one half of a tag team called the Master Blasters, then he became Oz, followed by a run as Vinnie Vegas. They were all bad, but I believe Oz had that special something that truly made it stand out awful.

Kevin Nash was a big guy who moved well, had a good look, and the ability to at least form complete sentences. To have a guy like that, you would think you could just send him out, let him dominate, and reap the profits of creating a new star. Instead, they gave him a shitty tag team and made him a Vegas Wiseguy. In between was Oz, and Oz was somehow the worst. My favorite thing, by far, is that WCW creative had a conversation that went something like this:

Executive 1: We've got this big guy with a great look and a lot of charisma, how can we capitalize?
Executive 2: Considering we already gave the guy one half of the Master Blasters, I'm not sure if we can do much better.
Executive 1: Heh heh, Master Blasters. That was a good one.
Executive 2: Yeah, it's what I call my weiner.
Executive 1: Me too (high five). But what if we went with something that was popular right now?
Executive 2: Popular now?
Executive 1: Yeah, like WWF had success with music, so what if we did television or movies?
Executive 2: Movies? I like that. The great thing about movies is that they are timeless.
Executive 1: That's a great point?
Executive 2: And therefore what was once hot shall always be hot.
Executive 1: So even something that is 62 years old is still a great idea for a wrestling gimmick.
Executive 2: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Executive 1 and 2 (simultaneously): WIZARD OF OZ GIMMICK!
Executive 1: Oh man, that is perfect.
Executive 2: It will really appeal to the new generation, and wrestling fans will really identify with a a movie that has a woman as the protagonist as we have such a large population of female viewers.
Executive 1: Yeah, the only gimmick that would be better would be a Vegas gambler, but let's keep that as our ace in the hole.

I mean, just look at this debut video from Oz. It's incredible in how ill conceived it was.

As stupid as the Great Wizard is, that isn't even near the same level of stupidity as fake gray beard. When I first watched this, I was speechless. After watching it again (and again), only one thought is going through my mind: Bring back WCW immediately.