Sunday, April 28, 2013

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: Bears Pick Kyle Long

Now that the NFL Draft is over, it is time for everyone to grade drafts, which is stupid, and yet we all feel like we must do it. It's the reason we overreact to one week of baseball games or a single football game. That's what we do; we jump to conclusions, because despite us having very limited evidence of anything, WE JUST KNOW. What everyone knows right now is the Bears had a poor draft. All that really means is that the internet and ESPN experts did not expect them to go as high.

Here's the thing about every pick in the draft. They are all RIDICULOUSLY good at football. When you read my report on Jonathan Bostic, it is incredibly negative, but then I saw a skill that very few people have, and I could envision why the Bears front office would be excited about him.

Now it's time to break down a big nasty. There's nothing more fun than the play of the offensive line. That is why everyone should read Ben Muth on Football Outsiders. I always wanted to be an offensive lineman. Unfortunately, I am 5'9" and have bulked up to 160 pounds at age 28, so my dream was shattered before it ever began. Kyle Long does not have this issue as he is 6'6" and over 300 pounds. Those are the good numbers. The bad numbers are 4 and 25. 4 is the number of starts he had in college, and 25 is how old he will be turning during his rookie season. Still, let's not get caught up in all that and look at the tape of his game against USC.

After watching the first minute of tape, I realized that it is really hard to analyze guard play. It's a lot of them just holding their ground and me saying, "Well, that looked solid." He does look athletic when he pulls, and he showed a good motor of always trying to find guys to block until the play was over.

What makes it even more difficult is that Oregon runs outside a ton, and runs a lot of zone read plays, so judging a guard when there isn't a whole lot of pounding the ball up the middle makes it even tougher.

His hand work looked like it could use some work as a lot of time he would just try to shoulder bump people in his pass protection.

This was the best play I saw when breaking things down.

He does a great job of sealing off the defensive tackle with help from his center, and then peeling off and getting enough of the safety to help his running back get in the end zone.

Him being 6'6" at guard definitely hurt him at times. Defensive tackles were able to get under him, which made it impossible for him to move them out of the way. I am a fan of a college program that has every great prospect start at guard before moving them to the outside, and it works pretty well for them, but it does make me think that his long-term future is probably at tackle.

So what do the Bears have? Potential. I think he has the skillset to step in and be a near average guard to start off. With his size and athleticism, I think the Bears are hoping that he is able to progress and move outside. This was a pick based a lot on potential. Pick #20 seemed a little early for that, but if everything pans out how the Bears envision, they will look like geniuses. All we can do is wait and see.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Live Blogging the NFL Draft: Day 3

Day 3 Live Blog is going to be pretty casual. I'll post when there is something interesting going on.

11:07 - Well, I obviously love the Matt Barkley pick. This is probably a surprise to most, but Chip Kelly has already said that his NFL offense is not going to look like his college offense. I truly believe that Barkley was a top-10 talent. People do not understand how bad that offensive line was, but this guy has all the tools to be an impact quarterback, and it was a great pick by the Eagles.

11:10 - Also, why ESPN thought they traded up for Matt Scott made no sense. Nobody else wanted him this early, so they would have been fine waiting three picks.

11:55 - The Rams are having a hell of a draft. Grabbing Barrett Jones in the middle of the fourth round is another really nice pick. Worst case scenario, he's an average interior lineman. He's shown potential for more, and I think he'll be a good player to have in the middle who will have a long career.

12:01 - I forgot to mention that I really want the Bears to take Jordan Poyer. He doesn't measure out well, but he shut down his side of the field in college, which sounds like a good thing for a corner to do. Do the right thing, Bears.

12:03 - I actually really like the Khaseem Greene pick. It probably means that Bostic is being groomed for the middle, which would be bad, but it doesn't definitely mean that. Lance Briggs is getting up there in age, and Emery showed that he does not care about loyalty to players (which is actually a good thing). Greene produced all over the field, and I was surprised to see so many of his teammates go before him. I'm good with this one, Bears.

12:31 - First Lacy, now Jonathan Franklin. The Packers definitely have their running back problems solved, as I like what both of those backs can bring. Their offensive line still sucks, so at least I can hold onto that as a Bears fan.

12:48 - I was going to approve of anyone taking Lattimore in the fourth round. The 49ers is a very good fit, because Frank Gore is getting to the age where he could be falling off. And Kendall Hunter may be solid, but he's no Lattimore. Sure, he's a health risk, but at this point in the draft, the upside is well worth the risk.

1:02 - Denard is another pick I like. He's got a lot of upside if he can show he can catch the ball. I think he is a hybrid player that can be put at running back or wide receiver. With Blaine Gabbert throwing the ball, he'll probably only be a running back, but at least he's a weapon if a real quarterback ever shows up.

1:20 - Unsurprisingly, I like the Cardinals selection of Stepfan Taylor. He was a productive college guy that didn't look great at the combine, so basically he falls right into my wheelhouse of guys I love. He is not fast, but he is quick and does a good job of recognizing the right moves to make with the football.

3:09 - I made lunch and played with the dog, so I am just now catching up on the draft. The Packers continued to draft Hawkeyes, which they seem to do every year. Kampmann, Hodge, Bulaga, Daniels, and now Hyde (plus some others I'm probably forgetting). Please stop doing this. I want to cheer for these guys at the next level, and you jerks are making it impossible.

The Bears made another pick, but I know nothing about him.

Also, I like the Cardinals selection of Ryan Swope. He's long as he isn't concussed.

5:52 - The Eagles selected Jordan Poyer, which means they stole him and Matt Barkley from the Bears. That's the bad news. The good news is that the only logical explanation to them selecting those guys is that Chip Kelly reads my blog, so that's pretty cool.

Also, I actually am good with the Bears last pick. Marquess Wilson may be a head case, but what wide receiver isn't? At least he has physical talent. In the seventh round, you might as well take a chance.

6:40 - Looks like the draft is over. I'll have more thoughts on Bears picks and maybe a few others in the near future.

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: Bears Pick Jonathan Bostic

As I stated during my live blog of Day 2 of the draft, I really wanted the Bears to draft inside linebacker Arthur Brown. He was ultra athletic and all the guy did was make plays. In their never-ending pursuit to try to make me root for another team, the Bears did draft a middle linebacker. Unfortunately, it was Jonathan Bostic out of Florida. I can admit that I knew next to nothing about him, so I checked out his game tape against Ohio State to find out more.

There is one thing that stood out for me when watching this game tape, and that is that I will probably never laugh harder watching film of a prospect. Here's him getting stood up by a fullback.

Here's him getting blocked by a center.

This one is my favorite, as is him just shuffling his feet and hands and then jumping on the pile a second after the runner was already down. I hope he got credit for a tackle on this one.

To be fair, it wasn't all bad, as this was a really nice play where he blew things up without getting any credit for it. 

To be even more fair, the tape is from his Junior year. Guys get better, so I took a look at his game against Vanderbilt to check for improvements.

The good news is that you can at least see the athleticism in the guy  in this Vanderbilt game.

I was honestly about to just stop watching, but then I saw something that perked me up.

I LOVE the bend he has on that pass rush move. That is a thing of beauty. The Bears are going to be switching up their defense somewhat. With that, he could fit in at outside linebacker better than he does on the inside. The Bears drafted a middle linebacker out of Arizona named Lance Briggs, and everyone thought they were insane, because they already had Urlacher in the middle. Well, that pick turned out okay for them.

He also looked solid in coverage, but diagnosing plays and making things happen from inside just did not look like his cup of tea. If they drafted him to be a middle linebacker, I'm not happy with this pick. But if they put him on the outside and show a willingness to blitz him, I can definitely see him surprising people and having an impact early on. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Day 2 Live Blog

No time for introductions; I'm already late on this (All times Central).

6:07 - Te'o just got drafted, which is actually a good pick. I don't understand why people were so low on him. Okay, I understand; it had to do with his make believe girlfriend. But outside of a bad game against Alabama, he played really well in his senior year. At worse, he's a solid starter, and he's shown good instincts which are very underrated in the drafting process. The guy reads and reacts incredibly quickly, but when a 350 pound monster is already on him, no, he's not very good, but few people are. Good for Te'o.

6:09 - Geno Smith goes right after him to the Jets. I had him behind both Manuel and especially Barkley. He's fine at quarterback, but I just don't see anything special from his games that make me believe that he's an impact talent. That being said, he may look like Joe Montana in comparison to Mark Sanchez.

6:23 - The last couple picks were not that exciting. I have an unhealthy love for people named Tank, but I am trying to hide that from the world. Tank Williams was a pro bowl safety in my mind and my mind only.

6:24 - I'm not trying to be a dick, but they need to get former NFL players who can pronounce the names. I had no idea who Mini Wasp was. Still, Raiders be Raidering.

6:26 - Now is as good of time as any that I really want Arthur Brown to fall to the Bears. I love undersized players who just go out and make plays. Oh, I guess in my fantasy land, they might take Matt Barkley too, but I don't see them realistically ditching Cutler.

6:54 - Thank God I was cooking dinner while the Bears just tried to piss me off by drafting a middle linebacker who was not the guy I wanted. I'll try to do more in depth Bears analysis after the draft after I can watch these guys more, but me no happy right now.

6:56 - Note from Lukewarm Jonah: Here's my first thought best player available is trey farquhar

7:00 - It should be noted that Jonah is a proud graduate of the University of Idaho, so that is why he has gotten slightly off the beaten path with his selection of best available. My best available is obviously Matt Barkley. I love me some Matt Barkley.

7:13 - Hey, a super successful team (Ravens) took the player I really liked and wanted the Bears to take (Arthur Brown). I can't wait to count up his pro bowls while cursing the Bears and Jonathan Bostic.

7:15 - Some things I need to address since I was busy eating. First off, the Pepper Jack burger and bacon and cheddar burger from the cheap grocery store both sound like great ideas. They fail in their execution of the ideas.

Also, I really like LeVeon Bell. In my mind, he was close to Lacy, but I think that he will for sure be a good back in the league. I really liked Giovani Bernard the most, but he went about a dozen picks earlier than the Steelers selected.

I would also like to say I have no issues with Jonathan Bostic. I honestly don't know much about Jonathan Bostic.

Wild prediction will be that somebody trades up to the back of the second round to select Matt Barkley.

7:21 - Montee Ball is definitely not better than Eddie Lacy. He's really not that good. All Wisconsin running backs were able to produce, so the only thing that really set him apart was more carries. He was always just very blah to me, he's not real strong, he's not real fast, he's not real great at anything. He's just kind of there.

7:36 - Eddie Lacy is a good guy for the Packers to obtain, but the help he provides Aaron Rodgers is not nearly as valuable what a real left tackle would have provided. Maybe that's why Bill Polian got fired. Actually, that is exactly why Bill Polian got fired; he never got real offensive linemen.

Also, Todd McShay mentioned something about a burn percentage earlier. That's my favorite stupid made-up stat of this draft.

7:52 - Lukewarm Jonah is here full time now: Time to join the live blog, damn the NFL for moving the draft so people with actual jobs can't spend all day watching the draft. Fun fact about me, I've actually been to two drafts, in 2005 and 2007 I waited in line overnight for hours and hours in order to sit in the room and listen to people's names get called

7:55 - LJ: Now onto this pick, Cleveland is up, do they take a QB? Or do they have faith in old man Wheeden?

Hott Joe: I love Barkley, and they already drafted a guy I loved in Mingo, so maybe they try to steal me from the Bears.

LJ: Honey Badger sighting, got to assume he's high as a mother fucker

Joe: When you're high all the time, I think it just becomes normal.

8:00 - LJ: You've got to respect Jacksonville's refusal to take a qb

Joe: They've already got Blaine Gabbert; what's the problem?

LJ: Exactly.

8:02 - LJ: By now I'm shocked more teams aren't taking qbs, great value at this point. I mean if they suck just have him hold a clipboard like Jimmy Claussen and pay them a few hundred thousand

Joe: Eh, there are still a lot of talented guys, and there are major questions about everybody but Barkley. (Tyrann Mathieu gets drafted)

LJ: Oh shit
Are the Cardinals planning to win every single game by return?

Joe: At least it's a plan.

8:05 - Joe: Poor Titans, nobody cares about your pick.

LJ: Haha very true, screw you other cornerback who actually played football this year

8:06 - LJ: I want the Jets to man up and take another QB

Joe: I have the perfect pick...Denard Robinson.

8:10 - LJ: possibly the greatest moment of the draft that I got to personally witness was the Jets take a kicker in the second round and shut up all their annoying fans all at once
Joe: To be fair, he did score more points than anybody else taken in that round that year. (I did no research to actually prove that).

8:15 - Joe: So, how many picks will be ignored because of Mathieu? LJ: What's the count now 3? I'll say 5 or 6 Joe: We are at 3. I think we will only get to four. LJ: unless of course a qb gets taken Joe: Mathieu really doesn't have much to say. I feel like teams think their QBs are way better than I personally think they are. LJ: He's got cottenmouth for some reason that's 4 and it was a qb Joe: I know, and ESPN didn't even flinch.

8:20 - Joe: Good lord, like I love the USA and our military, but this draft seems designed just so people don't consistently boo things. And without anger, a crowd really sucks.

8:30 - LJ: I like Keenan Allen a lot Joe: I'm in the same boat. My big concern is his ability to separate. LJ: thought he could have been late first without much effort Joe: He looks like a strider to me, which could make it tough for him to cut and get separation from good corners.

LJ: He's a big boy he'll get plenty of balls thrown his way too

8:37 - LJ: Buffalo is up its Kirk Cousins, I mean Ryan Nassib time Joe: It would be funny if the Bills just drafted three QBs and hoped one was good. LJ: I'm a big supporter of that strategy, I mean one of them will probably be good Joe: As long as one of them is Matt Barkley.

8:41 - Joe: I like the Moore pick at this point. There are question marks, but that sort of production is hard to pass up. And I also like the Jenkins pick. I have a love of large defensive tackles, ever since the good old days of Sam Adams and Ted Washington clogging up the middle for the Bears. I realize the Saints run a 3-4 now, but I still love big d-tackles. LJ: Fair, but the Saints will never be good at defense unless they're trying to cripple someone.

9:10 - LJ: Man this draft has slowed down Joe: Yeah, somebody needs to draft a Hawkeye or Vandal. LJ: Two best football programs in America Joe: Nobody can deny that. Hey, there's a pick I like, getting the band back together.

LJ: Oprah's husband? Joe: Hell yeah, I'd marry Oprah. LJ: me too

9:25 - Joe: Chiefs for Barkley? LJ: I was going to say as a former Kansas City Chief employee I strongly recommend a quarterback unless they still have Stanzi Joe: They do, and Alex Smith. LJ: I know they got Alex Smith It would kind of screw him over Joe: I don't think anyone sees Alex Smith as a long-term answer at QB, except Alex Smith. He would fit in well with Matt Barkley who says he would have been drafted before RG3.

LJ: Good thing KC got a third string running back instead
they have really fallen apart since I left

Joe: Nothing compared to what happened to the Sonics after you left. They couldn't even stay in the city.

LJ: very true same with the Portland Beavers I see a trend 

 Joe: Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Get a job with the Packers.

LJ: oh man that would be sweet they'd move to talahassee in a year or moscow 

Joe: Lambeau would just randomly implode. 

 LJ: yes "randomly" 

 Joe: Haha, and on that note, I think it is time to wrap this up. At least we can agree that the Packers can go to hell.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quick Thoughts on the 2013 NFL Draft

After quarterbacks, there is nothing I love looking at more than pass rushers. There's just a lot to watch, because even on plays where they do nothing, you can still learn things about them. I took a look at guys in no particular order, and it kind of worked out perfectly as we start on a bad note but end on a good one.

I wouldn't touch Ezekial Ansah from BYU. I watched his game against Hawaii, and had he not been circled on every play, I would have had no idea he was on the field. He may be a great athlete, but he has a far ways to go before he is a football player. He rushes straight up, is easily blocked because of that and just kind of keeps pushing forward as his only pass rushing move. He does not read plays well which makes him poor in run stopping as well. On top of this, he is not a good tackler, as he just kind of fell off guys multiple times. I would not touch him until the middle rounds where you can gamble on the upside and hope your coaching staff can help him develop.

On the bright side for BYU fans, even though he was not circled, number 3 jumps off the screen on defense. I looked it up to make sure I wasn't being an idiot, but no, it was Kyle Van Noy who was a third team All-American. That dude is fun to watch. I am very high on him for next year.

Dion Jordan has legit quickness, especially in his ability to change directions. He's got a lot of positive reviews for his ability to cover, and I can see why, because all the athletic gifts are there. He played well against Stanford, but I don't know if this guy is an elite pass rusher. He does a decent job of dipping his shoulder when pass rushing, but he never wowed me in his pass rush skills. I honestly didn't see enough to make a definite decision. I see first round athleticism but not sure if I would want to take him in the top 10 picks.

Bjoern Werner definitely doesn't have the athleticism of Dion Jordan. But he's got a motor. He blocked two guys after an interception against Miami. What really stands out are his instincts. He does a good job of reading and reacting to plays. He's not a guy who bit on things and he adjusted quickly to runs and passes. He's gotten grouped in with pass rushers, but this guy is a 4-3 Defensive End that should not be playing linebacker. Where he's got an advantage over the other guys is power, he was basically able to shuck Seantrel Henderson who is a legit offensive line prospect for next year's draft and get a sack. If I am a 3-4 team, I'm not as interested in Werner, but as a 4-3 team looking for a defensive end, this is my guy in this draft.

After Werner, I decided to watch another "slow" prospect and check out Jarvis Jones's game against Alabama. I love productive guys in college, because it usually translates pretty well to the next level, especially on things like pass rushing skills. Jarvis Jones has a motor. Honestly, he may not be the best athlete, but he is definitely quick. Straight line speed really doesn't mean shit when it comes to pass rushing. His best pass rushing move was using his quickness to the outside and dipping that inside shoulder. He does a nice job of making himself a small target for offensive linemen, which is a skill that definitely translates to the next level. I think he can be a double-digit sack guy at the next level.

Quick side note. Watch this Alec Ogletree play.

That's all I need to see from him for me to want the Bears to draft him.

I watched Barkevious Mingo's game against Clemson. This guy was the opposite of Jarvis Jones as the numbers never seemed to match the scouting reports. In this case, I am definitely going with the scouting reports. He pops off the screen and shows a rare ability to explode right at the snap. There were a few moments where I just went "Jesus Christ" while watching the film. Although his sack numbers were not there, the production was. He caused a ton of hurries and just faced a lot of teams with quick passing attacks where there wasn't much he could do. He's got a good bend when rushing to the outside and he's quick enough to cause havoc when looping to the inside. He also has the makings of a pretty solid spin move as he keeps his body pretty tight in it. If I'm getting a pass rusher in this draft, Mingo is my guy. He's not a traditional 4-3 defensive end like he played in college, but making him a 3-4 outside linebacker or a Leo in a 4-3, similar to Bruce Irvin, would lead to a ton of production. The only concern is his pass coverage skills, because he never had to in college, but the raw material is there for him to at least be passable from the start.  Some team is going to be very happy to get this guy on their team.

In full disclosure, I have to admit that I hated Aldon Smith coming out of college, but I feel I learned from my mistake of hating a guy for only making ankle tackles. If it's effective, there is no need to change, and he found a great scheme for his skillset. Still, I wrote this, and I can't completely ignore it, "I was in the middle of writing about Aldon Smith being the worst pick of the first round when, holy shit, Jake Locker got selected one pick after him." The second half of that comment was at least fine. I will still hold my head high on this one forever and ever. 

Also, one last note, I am going to try to live blog parts of the draft. Tonight, I am stuck at an event, but I will try to follow along and sneak in Twitter remarks (@HottJoe). Lukewarm Jonah expressed interest in live blogging the later rounds, so we may try and do that. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: James Vandenberg

This will be my final quarterback piece, and I admit it's a little unconventional. This is the only time I will scout a high school quarterback, but James Vandenberg, aka Jonathan Moxon is a special case. Let's face it: In Texas, football is king, and no place is that more true than in West Canaan where the Coyotes were led by legendary coach, Bud Kilmer. I say were, because Coach Kilmer was replaced in the second half of the final game of the season by former Coyotes quarterback, Lance Harbor. Since Kilmer had no assistants, they had no issues giving the coaching gig to a high school kid who seems to love racing cars more than football.

Something that I really like about his game is how he gets black guys touchdowns. That was not a staple in the offense before he took over.

There are definitely issues with his offensive line, as his left tackle often passes out from concussions in the middle of plays, but he still works through everything.

One issue I see for him in the future is that he tends to get tunnel vision when targeting his favorite receiver, Tweeter (pretty sure that's a social media nickname).

My other big concern with him is character. This is not what I want to see from my quarterback.

If he can't hit a beer can off his pop's head, then I'm not sure about his ability to lead receivers at the next level.

There were also people questioning whether he had the right mindset when he took over after Lance Harbor's injury. Although his play on the field was impressive, he may have gotten a little carried away with his play off the field where he stepped out on his lady friend for an intimate moment with Darcy Sears. Still, after that initial rendezvous, he seemed to keep his head on straight.

On top of this, he tried to play a game hungover. Not sure if this was an homage to legendary ESU quarterback, Joe Cain, but I've seen Joe Cain, and Mr. Moxon, you are no Joe Cain. Cain is Able.

Still, there's a lot to dream on with that arm. I can't believe he's taking his talents to Brown University, but he could definitely break some of Ryan Fitzpatrick's Ivy League records. This guy is the real deal. Keep him away from booze and the wild women, and he could be a first round pick in a few years.

Wait...what? I was talking about James Van Der Beek and not James Vandenberg? Who the hell is James Vandenberg? Iowa Quarterback? Shit man, he was terrible. Just terrible. Here was his highlight from last year:

A 40 yard pass in a scrimmage where he still couldn't throw a touchdown pass. Shockingly, nobody has cut up a game tape to show his throws. So, yeah, don't draft James Vandenberg.

And since I don't want to end this on a bad note, let's remember one thing...

Mox is a fox.

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: EJ Manuel

Next up on the list is EJ Manuel. I always kind of liked him in the limited times that I really focused on him, but like all of these guys, I figured I would study the tape and see if I could get a little more depth to my knowledge about his talents. He's been rising up draft boards, but is it warranted or is it just desperation? I took a look at his game against Clemson to see what I could find out.

Sets his feet and delivers nice throw to start off the game.

He's got very good mobility. He's not a burner, but he's got speed and is elusive so he can make people pay with his feet.

This pass is incredibly simple but made me happy.

It is a simple swing pass, but he leads his running back so he is moving forward as he catches the pass. It's not like it leads to a long gain, but it probably gets him two extra yards.

He's always looking to lead his receiver which is fantastic. He doesn't always execute it, but even on simple routes, he tries to lead his receiver to make things happen after the catch.

I definitely noticed some tunnel vision from Manuel, which is worrisome. He can really stare down his receiver and never works across the field, so he needs to have multiple options set up on a single side of the field with where his awareness is at right now.

He has good deep ball accuracy.

Overall, I liked Manuel, but I didn't love him. His vision worries me, but most everything else I like. I wouldn't have a problem with drafting him late in the first round. Right now, he's behind Matt Barkley, but I would have him ahead of Geno Smith.

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: Ryan Nassib

Ryan Nassib out of Syracuse is a guy who I glanced at his games but could never really watch, because I don't watch Big East football. Obviously, with Syracuse as his school, there are going to be the Donovan McNabb comparisons. I haven't actually heard those comparisons anywhere, but they did both attend Syracuse, and it seemed like a more fitting comparison than Jim Brown or Carmelo Anthony. I decided to watch his tape against Louisville to see what I could find out. 

His deep ball was not pretty. Badly underthrew it on his first pass of the game but receive made a good adjustment. His down the field accuracy was just not there at all.

Something small is he is actually willing to throw the ball away when nothing is there. That is not very common in a lot of prospects.

He does a good job of keeping his eyes down the field and going through his progressions but he does look a little mechanical in doing it.

He was more athletic than I expected. Not a great athlete but he can move a little bit.

His accuracy just is not there. Even on short passes, he does not properly lead players, as seen here.

If he leads his receiver on that ball, he's got a touchdown, but he threw it a little behind him, and it nearly got picked off.

Even on this touchdown pass, he does not throw a good ball to make it easy for his receiver.

There's really not much to say. He threw some nice balls but not consistently, and this was supposedly one of his shining moments. He got a good win, but he was not overly impressive in doing so. I really don't see him as much more than a 6th or 7th round pick since he seems to have a strong arm, but there is just too much wrong with him for me to really consider him.

To end on a positive note, he's not as bad as Blaine Gabbert, because nobody will ever be as bad as Blaine Gabbert. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: Matt Barkley

Next up on my scouting excursion is Matt Barkley. Barkley is a very confident individual. He's freakishly cocky, as he stated that he would have been one of the top two picks in last year's draft. He did a decent job with his rhetoric as he didn't say that he would have been drafted ahead of Luck, only that the Colts had locked in on him before he made his decision to go to the NFL or stay in school. I love confidence, but it really helps if you can back it up. The results were not great for Barkley this year, so I wanted to see if he looks better on film than he does on a stat sheet. I looked at the Stanford game to get a better idea of what his strengths and weaknesses were.

The first thing that really jumped out at me is his quick release, as he shows here.

He gets rid of the ball quickly and fits it in a tight window before the defense can adjust.

After watching Geno Smith, it was nice to see a quarterback put some zip on his passes when fitting it through tight windows. Both quarterbacks had very talented receivers, but Barkley had the confidence and the arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows. I have heard the knock that he lacks arm strength, and although it is not elite, it is plenty good enough.

His deep ball accuracy was not as good as Smith's, but he was not missing by much on the few throws that I saw. He's not great, but I also don't see it as a major concern.

It is easy to see the struggles that his offensive line had, which makes it even more impressive how Barkley would quickly set his feet and fire off passes with the pocket collapsing around him.

Marquise Lee is awesome, and Robert Woods is very good, but Barkley helps them out by throwing them passes where they have space to maneuver after the catch. As good as those guys are, he was not helped by his running backs or tight ends in this offense as they missed blocks and didn't turn around when he needed to get rid of the ball quickly.

Also, it looked like his linemen were trying to throw the game. Look at this.

I just feel bad at this point, because that right side of the line just looked awful. I'm guessing the right guard was keyed on the middle linebacker, because he did not react at all to the lineman splitting the gap between him and the right tackle. The right tackle either thought he was taking an outside guy or got off to the slowest start ever. That was just ugly.

He continued to battle, despite constantly being under pressure. Most of his poor looking throws were caused due to him having zero time to set his feet and execute. He has quick feet when setting them for passes, but it is tough to do much of anything when there are people knocking your center on his ass right after the snap.

Even though his feet set quickly, he is not a quick quarterback. He is best when in the pocket, and he looks awkward even when doing simple rollouts.

I ended up watching some of his game against Syracuse just to get an idea of how he goes through progressions. I liked what I saw as he was willing to work through his options quickly before making a decision and firing the ball in there. Another thing that I really liked that many college quarterbacks don't do is looking down the field before throwing screens. It keeps the defense honest and gives the running back more open space to work with.

So, overall, I was really surprised by the tape on Barkley. I was all ready to compare him to Jimmy Clausen, but he's good. He's actually really good. I have only watched him and Smith, but I would be shocked if I were going to rate anyone higher than Barkley. I really like his chances in the NFL, and I will be shocked if he is not selected in the first round.

Scouting the 2013 NFL Draft: Geno Smith

Geno Smith seems to be the number one quarterback on most people's boards. Saying that doesn't mean a whole lot, because this does not look like a draft where a QB is going to be drafted in the top ten. Still, Jake Locker was the 8th overall pick, and Ponder was taken 12th, so it wouldn't surprise me to see somebody taken early. Although I have seen and heard good things from Smith, I wanted to take a closer look at a couple games of his to get a better idea of his skills. I looked at his game against Kansas State where he struggled, as well as his game against Baylor where he set the world on fire. This is what I observed.

He experiences a problem that I see from a lot of spread quarterbacks in that he makes his decision on where he is throwing before the ball is even snapped. The routes are designed to be open and easy throws, but sometimes he looks silly as he tries to immediately squeeze something in as opposed to letting other routes develop.

The one thing that I really liked about him was his ability to lead receivers to help them gain yards after the catch. Both of his main receivers (Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) will probably be taken within the first three rounds which helps, but you could tell that both sides of the pass-catch combo helped make the other side better.

He did a good job of squeezing out of shaky situations when his pass protection broke down, but once he did that, he went into scramble mode and lost track of what was happening down the field.

As you can see from the video, he seems to hate underneath zones, as he got intercepted twice on out routes  (the video is cued up for the second interception) when they had coverage dropping back from underneath the receiver. Another big issue with both of those throws was that he did not drive the ball which gave the defender that split second needed to make a play on the ball.

He definitely looked a lot better in the Baylor game, but this had a lot to do with predictable defenses from Baylor that either left his first target open or gave him enough time to scan the field for a secondary option.

One thing I really liked was his deep ball, as you can see here.

He drops it right into his receiver's hands past the coverage, and that is just a really pretty ball.

There are a lot of things to like, and a lot of things to question with Geno Smith. He does a good job of leading receivers and throws a nice deep ball. I haven't had a chance to check out videos of all of the quarterbacks, but I would be shocked if he wasn't the most accurate thrower of them all. On top of this, he is mobile enough. He's not a burner, but he can be elusive and get some yards on the ground.

He doesn't always make great decisions as he decides to throw a pass even if it is well covered. This happens to the best of quarterbacks, but it happens at an alarming rate for Smith. Kansas State made him look very bad when he did this, but he was able to tear up Baylor. The other issue is despite his accuracy, he doesn't drive the ball on his throws. Everything has a little float to it, and it can kill him on out routes.

The guy I see when watching Smith is Christian Ponder. He might be a little more accurate than Ponder, but physically, they are very similar. He can be a good quarterback, but I have a lot of trouble seeing greatness in his future.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My 5 Favorite WWE Superstars Right Now

Yes, I watch pro wrestling. Hell, I love pro wrestling. I also love folkstyle wrestling, and mixed martial arts. None of these are mutually exclusive. I will say that I like folkstyle wrestling and MMA for more similar reasons than pro wrestling, but pro wrestling is still very awesome. There are guys I love, and there are guys I hate. I'm going to start with the positives and go over my ten favorite wrestlers in the WWE. Remember, these are my rankings right now, so "Cool Guy" Chris Jericho will not be on this list despite being one of my five favorite wrestlers of all time. Also, The Miz will not be on this list, because The Miz is the worst.

5. The Prime Time Players - Yes. there are two of them, possibly three if you include Rufus "Pancake" Patterson, but they are great. If you don't agree, then you and your washrag are not invited to my party. The WWE almost pushed them to a tag title, but then they decided to have them lose for the next four months, which has basically been the fate of every wrestler I have liked over the last three years. Still, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS...

4. Team Rhodes Scholars - They're not just a tag team; they're BEST FRIENDS. Oh, and they are painfully similar to The Prime Time Players. Just subtract wash rags, and add facial hair and seducing twins. So yeah, that is why they get the edge.

3. Fandango - I was skeptical of Fandango when he was only doing vignettes. Then he debuted in person, and I started to like him. He demanded respect and that people pronounce his ridiculous name correctly. Then he nearly made one of the Funkadactyls flood the ring with her womanly juices by being a smooth operator. At that point, I was fully on board with Fandango. Now Fandangoing is a real thing that happens, and it is just perfect.

2. Dolph Ziggler - Ziggler has always been great in the ring, but he has slowly progressed on the mic in the last year. He showed a ton of potential in his Ask The Heel segments on ZTLIS, but he's finally starting to convey that personality to a larger audience. It was a little scary how excited I was when I heard his music before he cashed in his Money in the Bank. It was also a little sad that my fiancee had to come downstairs and check on me because she heard me yelling and screaming while watching his match with Del Rio. It may be the saddest that I felt genuine happiness for Dolph Ziggler when he finally did win the title. But, seriously, watch this:

Everything about that video is awesome. Awesome entrance, awesome crowd reaction, awesome three minute match, awesome celebration. I will never stop loving this video.

1. Antonio Cesaro - I went over how awesome he was, and everything remains the same. He dropped the USA flag and replaced it with yodeling. He's amazing in the ring in the way that he tosses people like they weigh nothing. I don't really think I need to expand on anything else that wasn't already said here. Cesaro is the best.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wrestlemania 29 Predictions

Lukewarm Jonah: Hott Joe and I love wrestling and we love gambling.  I bet you didn’t know you could combine the two and bet on a pre-determined contest, but you can.  I’ve found some actual betting odds from, a UK site.  There is actually an American site in Las Vegas that has odds too.  I’ve found the best lines, and Hott Joe and I will be giving you our Wrestlemania predictions and betting picks. 

Hott Joe: Thank God LJ is around, because I have been lazy as shit about writing, but this is definitely something I can get behind.

WrestleMania 29 - Fandango vs. Chris Jericho
Fandango -800 (1/8)
Chris Jericho +425 (17/4)

Lukewarm Jonah: Fandango has to be my pick to win this match.  Chris Jericho came back last year just to put over guys like CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler.  One has to assume that he’s back to put Fandango over.  However, I didn’t expect odds these long and wouldn’t touch this bet.  Fandango is still the smart pick, but they could always give Jericho a win.

Hott Joe: Fandango has been one of my favorite parts of Raw over this last month, as any man who focuses a lot of his character on seduction will always be someone I can relate to. And oh, how the mighty have fallen. Jericho, the man who beat the great Marty Jannetty and gave us this… makes fun of Fandango’s name in childish ways. Jericho is still awesome (I highly recommend both of his books), but let’s face it, Jericho could lose every match for the next three years and still get the same cheers from fans. Fandango is going to get the victory.

WrestleMania 29 – Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show vs. The Shield
Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show +400 (4/1)
The Shield -700 (1/7)

Lukewarm Jonah:   I would like to take Randy Orton, Sheamus, and The Big Show as 4/1 underdogs.  I have no idea why the lines are so high, I guess William Hill thinks that we’ll get a heel turn from one of the three guys on the good guy team.  That’s very possible, but I don’t think it’s so crazy to think that the bad guys who have run rampant for months and months on end will finally get their comeuppance.  Really I think this match is a toss up, so I’ll take the good odds and go with the good guys at 4/1.

Hott Joe: Thank God Lukewarm Jonah wrote out this match, because whenever I refer to this match, I simply say The Shield vs. Turd Burglars. Last month, Sheamus tried to beat The Shield with the help of Cena and Ryback, now they replaced those two with Show and Orton. The Shield wins, and for a fun prediction, I say that at the next PPV, The Shield finally loses to Cena, The Rock, and Sheamus or Ryback.

WrestleMania 29 – Ryback vs. Mark Henry
Ryback -800 (1/8)
Mark Henry +425 (17/4)

Lukewarm Jonah: I’m picking Ryback to win this match.  This is another match where the odds aren’t good enough to put any money on it, but it’s very hard to see Ryback losing.  He’s being pushed to the moon, he’s a newer monster that needs to continue to be pushed.  Anything can happen in the WWE, and Henry is always a great monster heel to push, but Ryback is the smart pick here.

Hott Joe: This match comes down to one question for me, can Ryback actually pick up Mark Henry for his finisher? He couldn’t do it to Tensai, so I have some serious doubts. I really hope the WWE tells Ryback that he needs to do his finisher or Mark Henry gets to win. I’ll go with the upset and Mark Henry finishing off The Ryback.

WrestleMania 29 – Intercontinental Championship – Wade Barrett vs. The Miz
Wade Barrett +275 (11/4)
The Miz -450 (2/9)

Lukewarm Jonah: It’s the preshow match for the Intercontinental Title, kind of sad that this match can’t even make the real show.  Anyways, it seems like they’re building the Miz up, so an Intercontinental Title run would make sense.  It would also open up the underutilized Barrett for a possible run at the World Title.  My gut says the Miz, but it’s really a toss up in my honest opinion.  I would take the Miz as my pick, but I wouldn’t touch this bet.

Hott Joe: God, I hate The Miz, but he’s going to win. I don’t want to talk anymore about this.

WrestleMania 29 – Team Hell No vs. Ziggler & Langston
Team Hell No -130 (10/13)
Ziggler & Langston EVEN (1/1)

Lukewarm Jonah: Basically a pick em bet, I’m taking Team Hell No.  I thought I would get better odds on them, but I’ll take close to even money.  There’s a good chance Ziggler is going to be involved with the World Title scene soon, possibly even at Wrestlemania.  They can’t have him holding the tag belts while he’s World Champ.  I also feel like they gave away the ending they would have used for a Ziggler/Langston win this past Monday .  My real bold prediction, AJ tries to distract one or both of Bryan and Kane, it backfires somehow and they retain.  This makes it an even bigger surprise when Ziggler cashes in Money in the Bank later and wins his first world title.

Hott Joe: I’m taking Team Hell No, but with a slightly different twist. I say AJ does get involved in the match, but then Kaitlyn comes out and starts beating her up. Big E comes to her rescue while Dolph gets destroyed in the ring. And yeah, I totally agree with LJ’s last prediction, but I’ll get into that later.

WrestleMania 29 – The Undertaker vs. CM Punk
The Undertaker -1600 (1/16)
CM Punk +700 (7/1)

Lukewarm Jonah: This is way too big of a lock, and the odds reflect it.  However if you really are looking for guaranteed money, put it on the Undertaker.  The Undertaker’s undefeated streak will never be beaten, especially not this year, and especially not by CM Punk.  I love Punk to death, but he has no chance.  Taker still has money matches left with John Cena and Brock Lesnar.  As I said, the odds suck, but this is the equivalent of picking the Yankees to beat your local little league team, you know it’s going to happen.

Hott Joe: Taker, obviously. Also, am I the only person that hasn’t ruled out that Paul Bearer might still be alive? Like, the WWE is very shady, so I could totally see them successfully pulling off someone’s death. My bold prediction is that Taker wins with the help of a Paul Bearer run waddle-in (This is not going to happen, but at least admit that it could).

WrestleMania 29 – No Holds Barred Match – Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Triple H -650 (2/13)
Brock Lesnar +375 (15/4)

Lukewarm Jonah: I thought Lesnar would be a much bigger underdog here, and I was planning on making him my value pick.  At these odds, I’ve got to take Triple H.  I thought Lesnar would be one of the real long shots, close to CM Punk levels.  It’s always possible that Triple H saw two of his best friends, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels retire at Wrestlemania and decided that was the way he wanted to go out.  However, I just see Triple H getting his win back from Summerslam.  Triple H wins, Shawn Michaels superkicks Lesnar or Heyman or both, even Vince probably gets involved.  Trips wins, and at these odds I’d probably lay some decent money on it.

Hott Joe: This stipulation is still the worst stipulation of all time. A No Holds Barred match where Brock Lesnar has no friends, and Triple H is the “coolest kid at school.” Oh, and it’s for Triple H’s career, which was already over before Lesnar came back. YOU CALLED HIM OUT OF RETIREMENT TO PUT HIM IN A RETIREMENT MATCH. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Anyway, I have similar thoughts again, but I see all of DX getting involved and Lesnar F-5ing all of them until H can hit the Pedigree and win.

WrestleMania 29 – Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
Alberto Del Rio -500 (1/5)
Jack Swagger +300 (3/1)

Lukewarm Jonah: Another match I thought would be much longer odds, that I would have considered making a value pick.  Jack Swagger has a hot new gimmick that has gotten mainstream attention, but he’s not going to win.  Del Rio will win for his injured friend Ricardo Rodriquez, and he will also win because if Ziggler cashes in Money in the Bank he’s got to do it against a face.  Also, if they don’t have Zigger cash in, they’re trying to build Del Rio up as their new Mexican superstar since Rey Mysterio will probably retire soon.  They need a guy to appeal to their large Mexican fanbase and if they don’t go for surprise cash in, I think Del Rio will have a long reign.  At these odds I like Del Rio a lot.

Hott Joe: Del Rio wins, and Ziggler comes out to immediately take the title. Dolph Ziggler has been getting pretty solid cheers for a while now. You add in the fact that it is WrestleMania crowd that loves wrestling more than anything else, and there is going to be a huge pop when he comes out to take the title. #HEEL

WrestleMania 29 – WWE Championship – The Rock vs. John Cena
The Rock +550 (11/2)
John Cena -1000 (1/10)

Lukewarm Jonah: Another easy lock just like Taker vs. Punk.  Cena gets his win back from last year and we have a passing the torch moment.  The real interest in this match is whether or not Cena will turn heel to win.  He hinted at it two RAW’s ago when he said the Rock didn’t beat him, he beat himself.  Cena turning heel would lead to a bunch of new match and storyline possibilities, and be on the same level as the Hollywood Hogan turn.  But anyways, back to the betting, there is no way The Rock retains, he has a bunch of awesome new movies to promote and can’t be champ.  A part time wrestle also can’t beat a full time wrestler on the biggest stage two years in a row. 

Hott Joe: There have been a lot of whispers about Cena turning bad, but maybe Cena already has become his heel persona. Maybe it will just be that he doesn’t care that adults all think he’s a douche, and he’s only doing it for the kids. The guy does a shit-ton of charity work, and he can still be cheered by kids while they get drowned out by the boos of adults. Still, he’ll win the title. John Cena’s worst year ever saw him win Royal  Rumble, have 15 title shots, and upgrade from his wife to a Bella Twin, what does this man need to have a good year?

WrestleMania 29 – Random Prediction

Hott Joe: My random prediction is that there will be a 20 man Battle Royal for a shot at the United States Championship. Zack Ryder will win, because he is basically the best Battle Royaler of all time, and he’s near his hometown. He will then beat my favorite wrestler, Antonio Cesaro, for the US Title. This is one of those cases where if you love someone, you need to set them free. Cesaro has lost his last 50 non-title matches, so maybe getting the belt off of him will let The Yodeler win some matches. Also, I’m still pissed that they dropped him trolling the fans by loving America so much. This man got booed for waving the American Flag; that’s the greatest thing from the past six months, well, outside of this:
LJ, I’ll let you finish, since you did most of the heavy lifting on this post.

Lukewarm Jonah: CM Punk will lose. We've covered that already, but in doing so, he will see the error of his ways and turn back into a face. He may even hit a GTS or lock on the Anaconda Vice on Paul Heyman.