Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Board

The NFL Scouting Combine is unquestionably one of the strangest places on earth. Invitees of the combine are brought from all across the country to be judged by hordes of onlookers trying to determine the right pick for their team. Basically, picture the human equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show and there you have it. NFL prospects are trotted out to the middle of the field to conduct drills that test their speed, strength, agility, glossiness of coat, ear shape and placement…. wait, got lost for a second there.

Anyway, with the combine under way it is time to ramp up the draft boards. Here are my predictions for the top 10 picks of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Miami Dolphins
For a franchise that has made about as many wise draft choices as Montell Jordan had hit singles, turning the tides in the ’08 draft is a must. And after a dismal 1-15 2007 season it is clear there are plenty of holes to fill, so who is the right pick for the 2008 Miami Dolphins? Trading the pick for more talent seems like an improbable option, so the rational choice would likely be BC Quarterback Matt Ryan (who, incidentally, is a dead ringer for Ben Folds). While this draft is full of talented lineman, the Phins would be wise to shore up their need at the game’s most important position. After all, they’ve been jumping from quarterback to quarterback since Dan Marino’s retirement, and even Nutrisystem can’t get Dan the Man back in playing shape.

St. Louis Rams
The 2007 Rams, who stayed neck and neck with Miami for much of the season in a battle for who can look more hapless, have plenty of holes to fill as well. It is likely they will use the number 2 pick on one of the many ultra-talented linemen in this year’s draft. While they do have needs up front on both sides of the ball, don’t be surprised if they go with Defensive End Chris Long out of Virginia. Long had the most impressive showing of any defensive lineman at the combine and is known as an extremely hard worker. So with hopes that super-massive, uber-man Orlando Pace can recover from last year’s injury to once again anchor their O-line, the Rams would likely be looking to address their D-line issues with this early pick.

Atlanta Falcons
By winning the coin toss that determined which team would have the third pick in the draft, the Atlanta Flacons proved that nobody can get crapped on forever. After a 2007 defined by a run of bad luck of Clark Griswold proportions, the Falcons are looking to capitalize on this pick and put the past behind them. If the Dolphins decide to pass over Ryan, expect the Birds to jump all over him. Arthur Blank is looking for a face to help Atlanta forget the Vick fiasco, and provided that Ryan’s family dog has no signs of strangulation he could very well be the guy. However, with Ryan gone you should expect the Falcons to pick up the combine’s “Best in Show,” Darren McFadden, running back out of Arkansas. While Atlanta has definite needs on the offensive and defensive line, they should use this pick to fill their backfield with a dynamic rookie who will attract attention. The kind of attention garnered from excited fans, not the federal government.

Oakland Raiders
With Al Davis running the show you never can truly tell which way the Raiders will choose. Expect them to jump all over McFadden if he is still available, as Davis has shown a tendency toward selecting superstar-caliber players despite needs in other areas. Then again, you couldn’t be shocked if he selected O.J. Mayo, superstar shooting guard out of USC, because he’s also shown a tendency towards senility. In all likelihood however, the Raiders will wind up with DT Glenn Dorsey out of LSU with the number four pick. Dorsey’s stock has fallen a bit amid worries of a past leg injury, but it is doubtful he would fall past the Raiders, who will be looking to fill the cavernous hole left in their defensive line by the departure of Warren Sapp’s mouth.

Kansas City Chiefs
Unless Kansas City is looking to take a gamble on a quarterback who is much lower on the draft board, it is probable Chiefs fans will have to endure another season of stellar quarterbacking from the craptastic platoon of Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard. As unexciting as it may be, the Chiefs will likely use their pick on a lineman as well. Michigan’s OT Jake Long would be a great fit in Kansas City. Their offensive line is aging and showed a declining ability to create holes for Larry Johnson last year. Long would be the perfect injection of youth, size and crazy the Chiefs could use. You’re telling me Larry Johnson wouldn’t have more running room with this guy in front of him?

New York Jets
After an impressive showing at the combine, expect Defensive End Vernon Gholston out of Ohio State to be snatched up here. With the impending departure of Jonathan Vilma the Jets will be looking to add a defensive playmaker in his place. They would be wise to add Gholston, who would give them a few solid years of production before they eventually conceded to trading him… to anyone but the Patriots.

New England Patriots
Despite losing their legitimate pick thanks to the Spygate scandal, having this pick from San Francisco to fall back on will ensure the Pats will continue to piss everyone off with the addition of undeserved extra talent. The Pats will be looking to add some youth to their geriatric defensive unit, where they would have liked to have a chance at Gholston’s college teammate James Laurinaitis. But with Laurinaitis remaining at Ohio State for his senior season, expect them to take the highest rated defensive player available who happened to be a Cinema Studies major.

Baltimore Ravens
With all of Baltimore collectively praying that Troy Smith can do well enough in camp to “steal” the starting job from “quarterback” Kyle Boller, the Ravens would love to take another young field general here. However, with the field of QB’s thinning out it is tough to tell who the right pick would be. Bet on the Ravens pinning up glossies of Brian Brohm, Chad Henne, and Joe Flacco on their draft board and choosing whichever one Ray Lewis hits with his throwin’ knife.

Cincinnati Bengals
Last year the Bengals fell from their status as one of the elite AFC teams, but they also managed to save their reputation a bit by collectively staying off the FBI’s most wanted list. For the sake of remaining on the right side of the law they may just want to draft the highest player coming out of Brigham-Young this year. However, the likely scenario will be Sedrick Ellis out of USC joining the Cinci D-line.

New Orleans Saints
The Saints have not exactly been known for their defense in years of late, so the smart move would be adding a cornerback or linebacker here. But I say screw the smart move. Just keep adding offensive weapons and do things the 2000 Rams way. Take Wide Receiver Malcolm Kelly out of Oklahoma to complement the aerial attack of Marques Colston and Reggie Kardashian.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

See You Next Week!

Errant Balls will be on hiatus this week thanks to the need for me to "learn" how to "do" my new "job."
I know, it's a lame excuse. But all of my time this week will be devoted to learning the intricacies of my new position. So while you're sitting at your job, bored out of your mind and wishing you had a hilarious Errant Balls article to help pass the time, I'll be learning how to use all the innovative gadgets on my brand new Shelby GT Mustang... yup, you guessed it. I'm playing the new Knight Rider.
See you next week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Looking into the NBA future

With the NBA All-Star weekend at hand it can mean only one thing… the second half of the NBA season will follow immediately after. Of course, there’s no real way to predict what will happen over the remainder of the season. Well, not unless you’re a blogger who takes no issue with making heinous predictions based loosely on fact and mostly on idiocy. And thanks to the World Wide Web’s wonderful gift of freedom and unregulated power to non-credentialed writers with a juvenile sense of humor, here they are… my predictions for the second half of the NBA season.

- In an effort to reinforce his status as the alpha male in LA, Kobe Bryant will continually refer to new teammate Pau Gasol as Paul, even though he knows full well that what his name is. Oh Kobe, you evil genius.

- In hopes of getting his all-star point guard and brand new center in sync with one another as soon as possible, Suns coach Mike D’Antoni will order that Steve Nash room in Shaquille O’Neal’s pocket on all road trips.

- Greg Popovich will ask that Tony Parker’s marriage to Eva Longoria be vetoed, stating there should be a committee that can veto marriages that make no logical sense.

- New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank will hold his breath and stomp his feet until the Nets brass stops offering all of his talent as trade bait.

- At year’s end, Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu will come away with the Most Improved Player of the Year award. He will credit the accomplishment largely to new coach Stan VanGundy allowing him to play without the paper bag over his head.

- Once the Knicks are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, forward Renaldo Balkman will take a leave of absence from the team in order to star in his first feature film; Juwanna Mann 2: Back to the Rack.

- In an attempt to stabilize their talented but floundering team, the Bulls will bring in Larry Brown at the head coach position. After a 3 game winning streak, Brown will abruptly depart in order to tackle his next rebuilding project.

- Toronto Raptors rookie forward Jamario Moon will release and R&B album… because well, he has no choice. His name is Jamario Moon.

- Larry Hughes will complain vehemently when the Cavs fail to trade for Jason Kidd, citing that he “can’t keep carrying this team himself.”

- After winning the All-Star Weekend dunk competition, Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay will receive an immediate contract extension and new shoe from Nike. The company’s stock will plummet soon thereafter, thanks to their inability to foresee the unwillingness of adolescent males to purchase the Air Gay Uptempo’s.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mass Hysteria!

There’s no avoiding it, with each passing year the face of the sports world we’ve all known for some time now is changing drastically. There comes a time every decade or so when everything we once believed to be true in professional sports is turned on its head.

I, for one, blame Global Warming. How else can we possibly explain phenomenon like the Red Sox winning, the Patriots choking, the Hornets dominating the West? This isn’t the world I once knew and loved, it just doesn’t make any sense. Trying to rationalize occurrences like these is like trying to substantiate a dog and a cat having a half-breed baby that pees in a box and lifts its leg when it poops. And this past week has only verified the fact that nothing in sports is safe anymore. There’s no telling what to believe in. My fan foundation is constantly being shaken to the core… and its all because of the inconvenient truth of climate change in sports.

Aces for Jacks? Sure, why the hell not!
One of the most important jobs of a general manager is to make the best possible deals for their team when a deal is necessary. So when did they replace reliance on research, statistics, and general sports knowledge with huffing glue?

Quite arguably the best pitcher of his era, Johan Santana was traded to the Mets for OF Carlos Gomez and RHPs Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. These Twins pickups have about as much name recognition as the cast of American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile. Minnesota knew that going in this off-season a trade of their Cy Young winner was imminent, but they insisted they would only listen to the “best deal possible.” As the respective juggernauts of the American League tossed out the names of some of their best young players like Philip Hughes, Clay Bucholz, Melky Cabrera and Jacoby Ellsbury, their offers were repeatedly rebuked as the Minnesota brass insisted on asking only for packages the Yanks and Sox explicitly said they were unwilling to offer. Eventually negotiations halted completely and the Twins were forced to take the best deal possible… that was left. So in the early going the Twins were only willing part with their Mercedes-Benz for two BMW’s and a Cadillac, but in the end all they got in return was a dog sled and a punch in the stomach. Good luck paying for the new stadium with the massive drawing power of Deolis Guerra!

Bury the hatchet? Forget our egos? Sure, why the hell not!
Whatever happened to petty coach/player rivalries that were taken to the grave with bitter hatred? While sometimes childish and almost always completely uncalled for, a coach vs. player conflict is always entertaining. But they’re gone in today’s sports world, they last 1 game, both parties are reminded of how much money can be made, and their legitimate opinions are thrown out in favor of contrived complacency.

It seemed like it couldn’t get any crazier then Phil Jackson returning (motivated by glory and not money, I’m sure) to coach the Kobe-run Lakers after having penned a book in which a large portion could have essentially been called “How Kobe killed our team.” And in spite of Kobe’s constant trade requests, Phil’s passive aggressive criticism, and both of their unfathomably large egos, they pretend on a day to day basis like being back together is just peachy keen. But we might just be seeing first hand the only reunion more unlikely than that taking place up north in Oakland.

Chris Webber recently signed a deal to return to the Warriors and once again play under his first professional coach, Don Nelson. I know, I know, who cares about the Golden State Warriors right? But why is that? Why is it that the Warriors have been a complete non-entity in the NBA for the last 15 years? Isn’t is because of Chris Webber and Don Nelson? 14 seasons ago they decided they could not possibly co-exist, and cast what was a promising young franchise into complete and utter obscurity. Now after a magical season in which they finally returned to relevancy, the already volatile Don Nelson and the Warriors are welcoming home the player who some fans would say destroyed the franchise. Seems rational.

And I know it’s been said, but… Eli Manning beats Tom Brady? Sure, why the hell not!
All I can say is I have to tip my hat to Eli and Big Blue for turning what everyone, including myself, expected to be another easy Pats victory into one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. The Giants squeaked into the playoffs, but got on a roll and stayed on it. They did to the Patriots what no one gave them a chance to do; they served up an unthinkable upset that is reminiscent of their last championship over the Bills. And they did all of this under the leadership of their MVP, Eli Manning. This is a guy who has provided me with more unintentional comedy than he will ever know, but now he has provided me with a great memory and a foot in my mouth.

Never, ever, bet on football.