Archive | February 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

By Ryan Crawford

The hot commodities of this draft include the two intriguing quarterbacks, two high level running backs, a batch of very good interior defensive linemen, three dynamite edge rushers and a group of wide receivers that just might rival last years extraordinary crop. Here’s my initial mock draft for 2015. There’s sure to be many changes before long.

1. TAMPA BAY BUCS – Jameis Winston – QB – Florida State
Lovie Smith and the Bucs badly need a franchise quarterback and Jameis Winston can be that guy. Questions about his maturity and too many interceptions are the major red flags. I think the Bucs jump at the opportunity to snag such a high level QB prospect and hope the potential problems work themselves out.
 
2. TENNESSEE TITANS – Leonard Williams – DT – USC
I do not think the Titans are enamored with developing Marcus Mariota at QB. Williams might be the top talent in the draft and fills a huge need in the middle of the Titans defensive line.

3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Randy Gregory-OLB- Nebraska
Jaguars are looking to upgrade on defense and Gregory is a stud.

4. OAKLAND RAIDERS – Amari Cooper-WR-Alabama
Take your choice between Cooper, White, Parker etc. but there is a clear need at the receiver position and the Raiders will have plenty to choose from. Cooper seems to be the cream of the crop.

5. WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Landon Collins – S- Alabama
Best safety in the draft fills a huge void for the Redskins.

6. NEW YORK JETS – Dante Fowler – DE/OLB – Florida
Bigtime explosive pass rusher is a welcome gift for the defensive minded new head coach Todd Bowles.

7. CHICAGO BEARS – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
Watching the Bears play defense last season was somewhat frightening for Bears fans. Ray is a pure pass rusher who should put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

8. ATLANTA FALCONS – Danny Shelton -DT- Washington
Another team with a bad defense…seeing a trend down here? Danny Shelton was a monster at the senior bowl and should anchor the middle of the Falcons line for years.

9. NEW YORK GIANTS – Brandon Scherff- OT- Iowa
The Giants most important job is to keep Eli Manning upright so he is able to get the ball to Odell Beckham Jr, Victor Cruz and Ruben Randle. This load should help accomplish that goal.

10. ST LOUIS RAMS – Marcus Mariota- QB- Oregon
Rams are thrilled to see Mariota drop into their laps and will jump at the chance to replace the often injured and highly paid Sam Bradford

Could Marcus Mariota slip to the Rams at 10?

Could Marcus Mariota slip to the Rams at 10? (Via SportsChat)

11. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Kevin White – WR- West Virginia
White ran a 4.35 at the combine. At 6’3″ with top flight speed, he can be a dynamic weapon for Teddy Bridgewater

12. CLEVELAND BROWNS – Devante Parker- WR- Louisville
Parker is another top weapon to be contended with and the Browns have major concerns at the wide receiver spot with Josh Gordon being a major question mark.

13. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Vic Beasley-DE-Clemson
Beasley is a prolific pass rusher who will be called upon to play OLB because of his size. Certainly the Saints will require some defense sooner or later. Had a great combine.

14. MIAMI DOLPHINS – Ereck Flowers- OT- Miami
Another massive body in front of Ryan Tannehill could be just what the doctor ordered for the Dolphins.

15. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Arik Armstead –DE/DT-Oregon
New coach, new ideas but there will be a big need to retool the ferocious 49ers defense and Armstead is a mountain of a man for the defensive line.

16. HOUSTON TEXANS – Andrus Peat – OT- Stanford
The Texans need to build up their offensive line and Peat is great place to start

17. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – Eddie Goldman- DT- Florida State
With all the weapons they have on offense, the Chargers can use a little defense and this guy is a force in the middle of a four man front

18 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Dorial Green Beckham- WR- Missouri
Green-Beckham is just one of those guys who could not seem to find his niche in college but oozes talent. The Chiefs are a team that had no touchdowns last year from a wide receiver. Seems like a match to me.

19. CLEVELAND BROWNS – TJ Clemmings- OT- Pittsburgh
The Browns continue to build up their offense. Now if they can only figure out the quarterback situation then they can start to move the team forward.

20. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan St
Not sure how I got Waynes to drop down this far, especially after he ran a 4.30 in the combine, but the Eagles would be thrilled if he did and snatch him up quickly.

21. CINCINNATI BENGALS – Bud Dupree- DE/OLB- Kentucky
Called a physical freak of nature, this future NFL edge rusher will help the Bengals defense immensely. Ran a 4.56 in the 40 yard dash and has a 42 inch vertical leap and did a 138 inch broad jump. All while weighing in at 270 lbs. Oh My!!

22. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Malcolm Brown- DT- Texas
A mountain for the middle of the Steeler defensive line.

23. DETROIT LIONS – LaEl Collins – OT – LSU
The Lions have a few holes on their offensive line and Collins looks like he’ll be a pretty good one. At 6’5″ and 322 lbs, he projects at left tackle.

24. ARIZONA CARDINALS – Jaelen Strong- WR- Arizona State
At 6’4″, this blazer is another stud in the crop of highly sought after receivers. A local product, the Cards are thrilled to scoop him up at 24.

25. CAROLINA PANTHERS – Marcus Peters – CB- Washington
Regarded as the number two cornerback in the entire draft, Peters is a very physical corner who fills a major need for the Panthers.

26. BALTIMORE RAVENS – Melvin Gordon-RB-Wisconsin
The Ravens are in dire need of a top flight running back and Gordon is considered the best of a strong group.

27. DALLAS COWBOYS – Maxx Williams- TE – Minnesota
The heir apparent to Jason Witten, the Cowboys are on the lookout for a young tight end that they can develop. Williams has great hands and top speed. Reminds some of a young Jeremy Shockey.

28. DENVER BRONCOS – Devin Funchess- WR- Michigan
Broncos are in salary cap dilemmas with the Thomas boys. If they franchise Demaryius Thomas, they might lose Julius Thomas. Either way they should be in the market for a pass catching tight end with speed to play receiver and Funchess certainly fits the description.

29. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Cedric Ogbuhei- OT- Texas A & M
When you have a quarterback with the ability of an Andrew Luck, you must wisely do anything and everything to protect him. A big tackle helps and Ogbuhei oozes with potential.

30. GREEN BAY PACKERS – Denzel Perryman – ILB – Miami
The Packers just released veteran A.J.Hawk and Perryman is a highly regarded prospect who could step into that inside linebacker role.

31. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Kevin Johnson- CB- Wake Forest
The Legion of Boom was a little banged up by the end of the season and with Byron Maxwell slated for free agency, a young corner might be just what the doctor ordered.

32. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Mike Bennett – DT- Ohio State
Another big body for the defensive front should help the Patriots continue to dominate the NFL.

Other Potential 1st Round Picks

Todd Gurley- RB- Georgia
Trey Flowers – DE- Arkansas
Shaq Thompson- OLB – Washington
Eli Harold- DE- Virginia
Breshad Perriman- WR- Central Florida
Quinten Rollins – CB- Miami (Ohio)

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Five Things to Watch at Mets Camp This Spring

By Dan Lagnado

  1. The returns

Everybody in Mets world knows about the imminent return of Matt Harvey. In fact, he’s progressing very nicely and is scheduled to face hitters for the first time on Thursday. Sandy Alderson said that Harvey’s workload this spring will be 90-95% of what it would be on any other year and he has not ruled out Harvey pitching 200 innings this year. But Harvey is not the only Mets pitcher to be coming back from Tommy John surgery. Closer Bobby Parnell also went under the knife after getting injured on Opening Day of 2014. He is expected to make his return by the end of April, giving the Mets a potentially dominant bullpen with the ability to strike out the world. Harvey and Parnell, two hard throwing pitchers in positions of maximum importance (ace and closer), are ready to help pitch the Mets back into contention.

Matt Harvey is back and is ready to make 2015 a year to remember for the Mets (Via AP)

Matt Harvey is back and is ready to make 2015 a year to remember for the Mets (Via AP)

  1. Dillon Gee moving to the bullpen

With the return of Harvey as mentioned above, the Mets are faced with a unique problem: too many starting pitchers. With Harvey as the headliner, the Mets have six quality starters (Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee) as well as at least two more waiting in the wings in Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Matz. As a result of this, Gee appears to be headed to the bullpen. This will require an adjustment for the 28-year-old Gee, who has served as a starter for his entire career. It is likely he will serve as a long reliever, so that the Mets can keep him stretched out for when Harvey needs to skip an outing to rest his elbow (or barring any injury to another starter). That said, he will need to be ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice and his adjustment to life in the ‘pen will be noteworthy.

  1. Shortstop

Some people may be surprised I made it this far without mentioning the biggest hole in the lineup in the Mets lineup. Wilmer Flores is currently penciled in as the starter with Ruben Tejada to be the backup. While the situation is extremely likely, neither of these assumptions is set in stone. The team has said that prospect Matt Reynolds will see a good deal of time at shortstop during Spring Training. While Reynolds may not be ready this season (he spent only half a year in Triple-A), the team may feel much more comfortable with the position going forward if he impresses them in spring training. He won’t be starting on Opening Day but Tejada may find himself looking over his shoulder at Reynolds.

  1. Eric Campbell as a catcher

This is a weird one. Eric Campbell served as a utility infielder/outfielder/bench player for the Mets last season after Josh Satin couldn’t get the job done. He reported to Port St. Lucie this spring with the intention of adding catcher to his increasing positional repertoire. At this point, it isn’t clear whether or not this is for the sole purpose of fulfilling the role of “emergency catcher” or if Campbell is using this to earn more playing time as a potentially regular backup to Travis d’Arnaud. If he does opt to make the positional change more serious, he could open a roster spot for another player. If Campbell serves as backup to d’Arnaud and utility defender, the Mets would not need Anthony Recker and instead could opt to carry a player like Dilson Herrera or Matt den Dekker, who each earned a cup of coffee with the Mets in 2014, but will likely will be left off the Opening Day roster in 2015.

  1. Left-handed reliever competition

The Mets have expressed interest in trying to carry a second left-handed reliever to complement Josh Edgin. However, with Gee in the bullpen and Parnell returning, they are somewhat short on space. That said, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson and believe that they find a way to bring two lefties to D.C. for Opening Day. The leading candidate is Sean Gilmartin, the team’s Rule-5 draft pick this offseason. I give him the edge primarily because of his Rule-5 status, which dictates that if he is not on the active roster, he is sent back to the team the Mets took him from. Additionally, he does have experience as a starter, indicating that he can be more than just a simple lefty specialist. Also competing for this job will be Dario Alvarez, who was promoted towards the end of last season but saw only limited time, Jack Leathersich, a prospect who also attended Spring Training last season and Scott Rice, lefty specialist from 2013, who suffered an injury last season in the minors following his demotion. Rice has the most major league experience of the four but there are questions regarding his health and effectiveness.

There you have it. Five important things to watch as the Mets begin the first official workouts of Spring Training 2015. Each will be key for a team that hopes to return to relevance and competitiveness this year. Only time will tell whether the current pieces are enough. Fight through the cold Mets fans, only 42 days until baseball is back.


Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

2015 Major League Baseball Predictions

With 40 days until Opening Day, take a look at our season predictions:

(*) = 1st Wild Card Team
(**) = 2nd Wild Card Team

American League East:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Boston Red Sox Boston Red Sox
2 Toronto Blue Jays Baltimore Orioles
3 New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays
4 Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay Rays
5 Baltimore Orioles New York Yankees

 

American League Central:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Cleveland Indians Cleveland Indians
2 Detroit Tigers* Kansas City Royals**
3 Kansas City Royals Chicago White Sox
4 Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers
5 Minnesota Twins Minnesota Twins

 

American League West:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Seattle Mariners Seattle Mariners
2 Oakland Athletics** Los Angeles Angels*
3 Los Angeles Angels Houston Astros
4 Houston Astros Oakland Athletics
5 Texas Rangers Texas Rangers

 

National League East:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Washington Nationals Washington Nationals
2 New York Mets New York Mets**
3 Miami Marlins Miami Marlins
4 Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
5 Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia Phillies

 

National League Central:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
2 Pittsburgh Pirates* Pittsburgh Pirates*
3 Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs
4 Milwaukee Brewers Cincinnati Reds
5 Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers

 

National League West:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants
2 San Francisco Giants** San Diego Padres
3 Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
4 Arizona Diamondbacks Arizona Diamondbacks
5 Colorado Rockies Colorado Rockies
With some added big bats, the Red Sox are ready to head back to October baseball (Via WBZ-TV

With some added big bats, the Red Sox are ready to head back to October baseball (Via WBZ-TV

Playoffs:

Game Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
ALCS Red Sox defeat Mariners Red Sox defeat Indians
NLCS Nationals defeat Cardinals Cardinals defeat Nationals
World Series Nationals defeat Red Sox Cardinals defeat Red Sox

 

Philadelphia Has 76 Problems, and Trading is One of Them

By Alex Horowitz

The 76ers are a bad team. Everyone knows that by now. They own one of the worst records in the NBA, which included a historic 0-16 start to the season. However, the one bright spot they had was second year point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has the potential to be one of the next bright stars in basketball. The former Syracuse guard was averaging 15.0 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.2 rebounds for a struggling Philadelphia squad until he was dealt to Milwaukee in a four-team deal today. It is unclear at the moment what Philadelphia will be receiving in return. Other major pieces of this deal involved Isaiah Thomas heading Boston and Brandon Knight becoming the newest Phoenix Sun. In a separate deal, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that another young Philly guard, K.J. McDaniels, will he on the move to Houston.

Michael Carter Williams is on his way out of Philly (Via AP)

Michael Carter Williams is on his way out of Philly (Via AP)

Now we are all left to wonder what Sixers management was thinking with these moves. Even if they were “tanking”, why trade their most valuable asset for basically nothing in return? They still have Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in town, both who have loads of future potential, but with these deals it appears as if the timetable for a successful team in the City of Brotherly Love has been pushed back by at least several years.


 

Alex Horowitz is a senior at Briarcliff High School and is an aspiring sports writer. As a lifelong sports fan, he has rooted for the New York Knicks, New York Mets, and Detroit Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhorowitz3

 

Tom Brady—The Greatest Quarterback of All-Time

By Seth Schuster

After capturing his ever-elusive fourth Super Bowl ring in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks on February 1, New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady has vaulted himself to the top of the National Football League’s All-Time quarterback pyramid. While unquestionably already on the Mount Rushmore of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks alongside the likes of Brady’s childhood idol, Joe Montana, the San Francisco 49ers’ great, Tom Terrific has finally become its centerpiece.

Yes, that’s right! Move over Joe Cool, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time.

Could this be argued? Of course! This debate could last centuries if we wanted it to—but I don’t want it to. I want to end this debate right now.

Up until this point, Montana held a slight advantage over Brady for the obvious reason—Montana had four rings, Brady had three. Today, Tom Brady and Joe Montana both have four rings. It can be argued that Montana achieved this accomplishment more efficiently than Brady did. Montana went 4-4 in Super Bowl appearances, while Brady managed a lowly 4-6.

That argument is a complete joke. Brady has led his team to SIX Super Bowls over the course of a 15-year career, winning three in a four-year span. It is about consistency, people say. “Montana was more consistent. He never lost a Super Bowl.” Well, actually that argument can be made two ways. Maybe Brady is more consistent because he was able to make the playoffs, and lead his team to the big game, more often than Montana did. It is ludicrous to make this argument against Brady, as Montana only appeared in four—perhaps he would have lost his next two Super Bowl appearances if given the opportunity.

Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all time? (Via AP)

Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all time? (Via AP)

Where else does Tom Brady eclipse Joe Montana?

Brady, for starters, is fifth all-time is passing touchdowns. Where does Joe Cool rank? Oh, that’s right…16th. Additionally, Brady has the highest winning percentage of any player in history, boasting an incredible .773. Montana posted a still spectacular .713, but ranks as second to Brady in all-time wins. This stat not only holds for the regular season, but for the postseason as well. Brady yet again outshines Montana, holding 21 postseason wins compared to Joe’s 16 wins.

In the postseason, Brady not only has the upper hand in wins, but a plethora of other categories as well. This past playoff stretch, Brady passed Montana’s record of 45 postseason touchdowns and finished with a total of 53. Brady also holds the record for leading the most game winning drives in the fourth quarter, with nine—his ninth coming in Super Bowl XLIX.

Leading the Patriots downfield with the clock ticking away, Brady connected on a late touchdown pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman to take a final 28-24 lead. Throughout the duration of the game, Brady threw 50 times, completing a record 37 passes. But that wasn’t the only record Brady set or tied that day. He threw four touchdown passes, setting a new record for most career touchdown passes with 13. Brady also set new Super Bowl records for career passing yards (1,605) and most career completions (164). This stellar performance allowed him to tie, none other than Joe Montana, for the most Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards, with three.

All of these accolades have been achieved despite the fact that—apart from the 2007 season—the Patriots have been notoriously skimpy when it comes to importing talented wide receivers. That year Brady has wide-out Randy Moss.

That year, Brady set an NFL record for most passing touchdowns.

Every year Brady does more with less. He makes no name players into household names: Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski, just to name a few. The cast of characters in the Patriots locker room is a revolving door—one minute the top wide receiver is Randy Moss, next it’s Aaron Dobson. Who? Exactly. The only constant is Brady.

For Montana, the constant was the entire 49ers’ team.

Montana achieved his success in a much different era. There was no salary cap. There was no free agency. In and out, each year Montana won with the same group of players—they were able to grow and develop with each other. It also doesn’t hurt that Montana had the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game, Jerry Rice. For every Super Bowl run, Rice was always Montana’s top target

In Brady’s six Super Bowl appearances, he has had a different go-to-guy. In Super Bowl XXXVI (2001), the man was Troy Brown. In Super Bowl XXXVIII (2003) and Super Bowl XXXIX (2004) it was Deion Branch. In XLII, Randy Moss was Brady’s favorite. It was Wes Welker in XLVI (2011). And in the most recent game, Super Bowl XLIX (2014), Rob Gronkowski served as Brady’s safety blanket.

Not only does Brady do more with less, he has done it more consistently and for a longer time. Brady’s run has been sustained over a 15-year period. Joe Montana won four, but Brady, year in and year out has been competing for a title. Oh yeah, and Brady has won four also—and also holds almost every postseason record in the book.

Brady is the best. Case closed. Drops mic.


Seth Schuster is a student at Blind Brook High School in Westchester, New York. He is an avid sports fan, who knows it all when it comes to the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and Boston Bruins. Yup, that’s right – a Boston sports fan living in New York! Seth’s favorite all-time athletes include David Ortiz, Tom Brady, and Paul Pierce. Follow Seth on Twitter for all your Boston Sports updates at @Seth_Schuster