New Inta Juice location to move in next to Cheers

>> Sunday

Well, I can't really confirm that, but I just had to comment on the trade of one of YCS's all-time favorite athletes Randy Moss. I aslo had to find an excuse to recycle this hi-larious MS Paint masterpiece by yours truly:


Now I'm no big city NFL talent scout, but has Randy Moss's game really declined that much that he's only worth a fourth-round pick? If I were Joe Buck, I might even call it "disgusting." I mean, yeah, his production was awful last year, but so were his quarterbacks.

More importantly, Randy Moss, unlike most athletes, has admitted to the fact that he only plays hard when he feels like it. Were I on a 2-14 team that couldn't convert a first down, I know I wouldn't play hard. Hell, I'd probably fake an injury or even retire.

But no matter team he went to--be it the Packers, Patriots, whomever--he would automatically be in a way better spot where he would be way more motivated to play. All I'm saying is that even a slightly motivated Randy Moss had to be worth more than a fourth-rounder. He's not a kid anymore, but he's not ancient either. That could just be bias talking, but I really think Randy is gonna come back and make the Raiders look... well... even dumber.

And this time, Randy will shake his dick.

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NFL Draft-Day One Thoughts

>> Saturday

After skillfully plastering my ass in front on the TV for eleven hours and change, I must make a few observations about today's selection meeting.

Big Winners:

San Francisco-A franchise already on the rise, the 49ers built on their momentum with a phenomenal draft day. Patrick Willis loves football, and that along with bringing his excellent athletic skills to the table makes him a tremedous addition to any ballclub. He should be a perennial Pro Bowler and the inside linebacker anchor of Mike Nolan's 3-4 defense. After his slide to spot 28, trading up and drafting a potential franchise left tackle in Joe Staley stabilizes a young offensive line. Despite having no second round picks, they picked up great values in the third round with Florida defensive end Ray McDonald and Washington State wide receiver Jason Hill. Both guys could be very solid NFL starters and represented excellent value in the 3rd round. New England will be dispappointed when their 2008 1st round acquired for Staley will be much lower than expected. Should they complete a proposed trade for Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson tomorrow, they will be in position to seriously contend for the NFC West title next season.

Cleveland-Welcome back to the NFL Cleveland. After a forgettable first eight seasons back in Cleveland that produced guys like Tim Couch and Courtney Brown, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel have the Browns finally ready to take a big step forward. In most years, Joe Thomas would have a serious claim to the top spot on draft boards. He should be one of the best left tackles in league for the forseeable future, and along with the Jets D'Bricikishaw Ferguson lead the next generation of stud left tackles in the mold of Orlando Pace, Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden. As I wrote last night, I really believe Brady Quinn outperforms #1 pick JaMarcus Russell and will be a steal at 22. While having a memorable draft day, Quinn's NFL career will greatly outshine today's dramatic fall. Second round pick Eric Wright could be answer at cornerback after the gruesome injury to Gary Baxter. While taking a risk with his character, getting a mid first round corner talent at pick 52 could make this a trifecta for the Browns should Wright stay out of trouble.

Other winners:

Carolina-While they could definitely considered as big winners, I'm not a huge fan of Beason. That said, their other three picks jump out as tremendous value picks. Dwayne Jarrett should be a very good redzone threat, and has the potential to develop into an 70-80 catch, 10 touchdown per year guy. Ryan Kalil will an anchor on the interior of the line, and could soon challenge Matt Birk and Olin Kreutz and the best center in the NFC. Charles Johnson has tons of potential, and is the type of third round pick teams covet. He could greatly outperform his draft position and be the strong starter opposite Julius Peppers at defensive end.

Indianapolis-While they have not made many notable draft picks since Dwight Freeney, this could be the draft that really builds a new foundation for the Colts. Anthony Gonzalez should be an excellent fit as their third receiver, and having a slot threat makes Peyton Manning that much more dangerous. Tony Ugoh is an excellent left tackle prospect, and should be the heir apparent to Tarik Glenn. At the end of the third round, they drafted excellent college players in Daymeion Hughes and Quinn Pitcock. While Hughes did not run well at the combine, his senior season with 8 interceptions proved he can the playmaker ideally suited for the Cover 2 defense. Pitcock, one of the lone returning starters on Ohio State's defense last year, had a nice senior season and should be a good rotational defensive linemen.

Minnesota-After taking the explosive Adrian Peterson, the Vikes got good value with Sidney Rice in the 2nd round and Marcus McCauley in the third. Rice, like Jarrett, should be a nice big receiving target and a threat in the red zone the Vikes sorely lacked last season. If McCauley plays to his potential, he could be a quality NFL starter and a nice addition to a secondary that needed some help. While they could look for a pass rusher tomorrow, they made three very solid picks today and added some much needed excitement to their offense.

New York Jets-After greatly overachieving last season, the Jets wheeled and dealed and wound up with tremendous football players in Darrelle Revis and David Harris. Revis, who they traded up to get at 14, should be a very good player who could develop into a valued cover corner. Harris, a steal in the mid second round, could be the second best linebacker in this draft. A great fit in the 3-4 at inside linebacker, Harris has a similar combination of football skills and athleticism as Willis. Playing with three other high draft picks at Michigan (Leon Hall, Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley), I think Harris will the best pro career of the bunch.

Losers:

Miami-The decision to pass on Brady Quinn for Ted Ginn Jr. will haunt the Dolphins for many years to come. Badly needing a young quarterback to groom, they instead took a guy whose only value will be returning kicks for his first 2-3 years. While John Beck could become an adequate NFL starter, Quinn may be the franchise quarterback who a team builds around for a decade. Lorenzo Booker will be a nice third down back. However, his pick does not make up for passing on Quinn, and then having taking a low ceiling guy like Beck in round two.

Green Bay-While not in as dire need as Minnesota, the Packers badly needed to draft a potential game-changer or two on offense. Marshawn Lynch coming off the board at 12 set them back, but the could have taken guys like Dwayne Bowe or Greg Olsen and added a running back in round two. Instead, they took a gamble on a defensive tackle who missed his senior season. In the second round, they trade down and take another gamble on Brandon Jackson, instead of proven college guys like Tony Hunt or Kenny Irons, who they could have taken had they stayed at 47. In round three, they really reach on a kid from San Jose State when better values like Aundrae Allison, David Clowney, Courtney Taylor and Johnnie Lee Higgins were all still on the board.

While the Bears reached with their second round and two third round picks, getting a potential Pro Bowl tight end at 31 in Greg Olsen saves them from joining Miami and Green Bay as first day losers. However, should Olsen fail to live up to expectations, this may be the worst draft of the Jerry Angelo. Now, Angelo does very good on past day two's in picking up solid contributors in Nathan Vasher, Mark Anderson and Ian Scott.

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Poor use of clutch

I took a some heat a few weeks back for defending the notion of "clutchness" in sports. Well just so you don't think I'm some sap who believes in Ouija boards and voodoo curses--well, not all of them at least--I wanted to share an example that proves my belief in "clutchness" only goes so far.

For years we've heard how "clutch" Robert Horry is in playoff games, and tonight's Spurs-Nuggets game has proved no exception. Let's examine a few reasons why this perception is either a mirage, or at least wildly overblown:

1) As Bill Walton just informed me, Horry has never missed the playoffs in his 10+ year career, which means tons of opportunities to look good in playoff games. Not only that, just about every one of those teams went deep in the playoffs.

2) Horry's reputation is built--I believe--on four memorable game-winning/tying shots in the playoffs. I think two came with the Rockets during their championship runs, and the last two were with the Lakers. His teammates on those teams included the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Shaq, and Kobe. Therefore, in each of those situations, he was at best the third biggest worry for the opposing team.

3) In basketball, a missed jumper is a missed jumper. Tons of shots are missed in late-game situations, so the failures in "clutch" spots are hardly notable in the NBA. Buzzer beaters, however, are never forgotten.

As an example from tonight, Horry threw up a wild runner with about two minutes to go on a crucial Spurs possession, and all Bill Walton did was chuckle and say, "That's not Robert's game." When he hit a jumper with 40 seconds left, however, Mark Jones chimed in with a "Big Shot Bob!"

Here's the irony: a lot of playoff opponents have probably keyed too much on Horry during late-game situations in recent years because of his reputation. Horry's a nice player and a good shooter and all, but if a team starts worrying about this aging role player more than Tony Parker in a one-possession game, they're probably screwing themselves and deserve to lose.

Again, I don't doubt that Robert Horry remains focused and confident when the game is on the line--thereby making him "clutch"--but I also don't doubt that those memorable shots are too faithfully attributed to clutchness.

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Enough already

Character.

Webster's defines "character" as "1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. 2. one such feature or trait; characteristic. 3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character. 4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully. 5. reputation: a stain on one's character. 6. good repute. 7. an account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing. 8. a person, esp. with reference to behavior or personality: a suspicious character. 9. Informal. an odd, eccentric, or unusual person. 10. a person represented in a drama, story, etc. 11. a part or role, as in a play or film. 12. a symbol as used in a writing system, as a letter of the alphabet. 13. the symbols of a writing system collectively. 14. a significant visual mark or symbol. 15. status or capacity: the character of a justice of the peace. 16. a written statement from an employer concerning the qualities of a former employee. 17. Literature. (esp. in 17th- and 18th-century England) a formal character sketch or descriptive analysis of a particular human virtue or vice as represented in a person or type. 18. Genetics. any trait, function, structure, or substance of an organism resulting from the effect of one or more genes as modified by the environment. 19. Computers. a. any symbol, as a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc., that represents data and that, when encoded, is usable by a machine. b. one of a set of basic symbols that singly or in a series of two or more represents data and, when encoded, is usable in a computer. 20. a style of writing or printing. 21. Roman Catholic Theology. the ineffaceable imprint received on the soul through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and ordination. 22. (formerly) a cipher or cipher message."

For the sake of this post, you can probably ignore 8 through 22 on that list, as I won't be discussing Roman Catholic theology or computer programming. At least I don't plan on it. (However, I am using characters 12 and 13 to write this.) I just couldn't come up with a good intro for this post, so I went with the most hackneyed one I could think of.

Anyway, I figure hundreds of columnists and bloggers have written this same exact column/post, but all this "character" talk with the NFL draft has really been eating at me. All morning and afternoon, as well as the week leading up to the draft, analysts have talked about the all-time high emphasis on players having "good character."

Man, what a joke.

I won't go into the cynical angle that professional sports organizations really don't care about their players' conduct as long as they help the team make money. The truth is, yes, organizations do care for that very reason--these "character" issues are bad PR and cost their players time on the field. Just because the motive is more about profit than America's youth, the motive is still there.

That said, NFL owners and GMs shouldn't kid themselves and think they're accomplishing much by screening prospective picks on these character indicators. Over and over, we've heard who has or hasn't "tried" marijuana or who's had a run-in with the law.

That shallowness of the discussion just astounds me. Marijuana? This is a primary factor in judging these players' character? Are you kidding me? I understand that an assault or gun violation would raise concern about a player's off-field conduct, and I understand that no GM wants to draft a guy who might get suspended half the season for failing his drug test.

But really, how effective are these indicators in predicting things like suspensions? Maybe people knew that Ricky Williams was kind of a pothead coming into the league, but even knowing that, could anyone have predicted the toll it's taken on his career?

Or Pacman Jones. This week on ESPN the ex-GM (forgot his name) who drafted Jones noted that he'd only had one incident in college--a fight during his sophomore year. Then Jones went to the NFL and--well--became Pacman Jones.

I realize that both situations are anecdotal and that all predictors--even good ones--will have their limitations and exceptions, but I think they highlight a very important fact. Once these players are drafted to the NFL, their lives change so profoundly that, in a sense, they will no longer be the same person they were in college or high school. The life situations that will dictate their post-college life will scarcely resemble those that made up their pre-professional life.

We call young adulthood our "formative years" for a reason. There are no doubt certain under-the-surface personality characteristics, ingrained in our genes and childhood experiences, that stay relatively constant beyond the age of 21 or 22. But how those will manifest themselves in a profoundly different context with profoundly different day-to-day stimuli or how they will affect on-field development are issues with which the best developmental psychologists might struggle--let alone NFL personnel.

It's also unfortunate that the relevance and complexity of "character" within a sports context are seemingly glossed over in this discussion. Suspension issues aside, teams desire good character guys because they want players who will not detract from the team dynamic. That's a perfectly reasonable goal, but to that end, factors like marijuana use and criminal offenses, I think, mean even less.

As far as PR goes, it's unrealistic for an organization to entirely avoid players who might put a negative face on the franchise, and any attempt to do so is pretty futile and self-defeating. I'm simply not convinced that sort of thing is within a team's control, and the overly cautious teams will ultimately get burned passing on talent in a vain attempt to keep their noses clean. And after all, isn't it more noble to give a troubled kid his due and take some responsibility for his fate than it is to say, "not our problem"? But I guess responsibility has nothing to do with it, despite the league's DARE officer approach to matters of character.

I could go further, but I'd better stop myself now before this post spins into a wild tangent on all sorts of loosely related topics. As much as I'd like that, I simply don't have time for that right now. Sorry, this ending is even worse than the intro.

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YCS Previews the NFL Draft: First Round Mock

>> Friday

All right, we were going to do a whole in-depth analysis of the first round, but somewhere along the lines we got sidetracked and I drank and watched the Brewers instead. C'est la vie. Anyway, we then proceeded to throw this together, and are looking for a Mel Kiperesque 25% accuracy rate. You know what? Fuck it! This (meaning every single projected pick) is our lock of the week!

1. Oakland Raiders - JaMarcus Russell/QB/LSU
Come on, they'd be absolutely retarded (even for the Raiders) to not take this guy. If they end up taking Johnson, you know it's because Al Davis forgot to take his pills and got ahold of the phone without anyone else knowing.

2. Detroit Lions - Calvin Johnson/WR/Georgia Tech
While Zuch and I don't really think the Lions will take Johnson here, we're pretty sure someone will take him at #2. It's possible either the Lions trade the pick outright or select him, then trade down for a pick. Rumors have it that they really want out of #2, due to limited value at the position.

3. Cleveland Browns - Brady Quinn/QB/Notre Dame
The safe pick. A local boy, relatively solid prospect (just ask Nate). Cleveland still blows. I hear in 2008 they're renaming the top 5 picks the Browns/Raiders division.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Gaines Adams/DE/Clemson
This pick could be swapped for Arizona at #5 because the Cardinals apparently covet Joe Thomas. Just don't act surprised, because you read it here, mofos.

5. Arizona Cardinals - Joe Thomas/OT/Wisconsin
Gives Matt Leinart solid protection and should help Edgerrin James in the running game. Arizona's a sleeper this year!

6. Washington Redskins - Amobi Okoye/DT/Louisville
You wanna get high? Seriously though, this guy is awesome.

7. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson/RB/Oklahoma
As a Packers fan, I say FUCK! However, they'll probably fuck this up somehow. For Christ's sake, their owner's name is Ziggy, and it's not the xenophobic purveyor of gyros from Marquette.

8. Atlanta Falcons - LaRon Landry/S/LSU
Who'd have ever thought Michael Vick would be the one to tarnish the family name?

9. Miami Dolphins - Levi Brown/OT/Penn State
Brown will get to play for Cam Cameron in Miami. Remember him? He was the wise old mentor in the Blues Brothers (and there's a joke for a limited audience).

10. Houston Texans - Leon Hall/CB/Michigan
Yeah, Houston, drafting a cornerback should really help Matt Schaub get sacked less than David Carr did.

11. San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Willis/ILB/Mississippi
What are you talking about, San Francisco?

12. Buffalo Bills - David Harris/ILB/Michigan
I'll be honest, we have no idea what goes down on this pick, so we copied Kiper (and his hair style).

13. St. Louis Rams - Adam Carriker/DE/Nebraska
A white guy from Nebraska? Get the fuck out of here.

14. Carolina Panthers - Reggie Nelson/S/Florida
You know what's funny? Safeties are rarely involved in causing safeties. That's irony, fool.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Lawrence Timmons/OLB/Florida State
Less insane than Joey Porter. Also less good.

16. Green Bay Packers - Marshawn Lynch/RB/California
The last running back the Packers drafted was Najeh Davenport. Let's hope this guy's more discrete with where he shits.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jamaal Anderson/DE/Arkansas
Good player should help the side of the ball that doesn't need much help. Somewhere, Byron Leftwich eats a sandwich and cries.

18. Cincinnati Bengals - Darrelle Revis/CB/Pittsburgh
It's the Bengals, make your own fucking joke.

19. New York Giants - Joe Staley/OT/Central Michigan
The trick is, either kick someone's ass the first day, or make Eli Manning your bitch.

20. Tennessee Titans - Alan Branch/DT/Michigan
First order of business: finish the job on Andre Gurode.

21. Denver Broncos - Jarvis Moss/DE-OLB/Florida
Too soon for the joke I'm thinking? Yes.

22. Dallas Cowboys - Robert Meachem/WR/Tennessee
Learn how to be a pro from a giant malcontent and an undersized pussy. Great.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Ben Grubbs/OG/Auburn
Hey, that's great, but who are the Chefs?

24. New England Patriots - Ted "Theodore Logan" Ginn, Jr./WR/Ohio State
That Bill & Ted joke was all you get here.

25. New York Jets - Greg Olsen/TE/Miami
Jets draft player, Danny Manson boos.

26. Philadelphia Eagles - Brandon Meriweather/S/Miami-FL
Meriweather is a gay name for an NFL player.

27. New Orleans Saints - Paul Posluszny/LB/Penn State
Filthy poles, that's all I'll say.

28. New England Patriots - Chris Houston/CB/Arkansas
His last name is a place!

29. Baltimore Ravens - Anthony Spencer/C/Purdue
A center? Woo! I played that position in high school?

30. San Diego Chargers - Dwayne Bowe/WR/LSU
Go fuck yourself, San Diego.

31. Chicago Bearsss - Dwayne Jarrett/WR/USC
Some hot back to back Dwayne on Dwayne action.

32. Indianapolis Colts - Justin Harrell/DT/Tennessee
I'm totally out of jokes.

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YCS Previews the NFL Draft-My crazy ramblings

Instead of doing a series of fancy, spiffy posts on different elements of the Draft, here are my thoughts wrapped up into one spot. Coming up later tonight, our Mock Draft that will put all others to shame.

Grand predictions on who will be the best player at each position:

QB-Brady Quinn

Jamarcus Russell has the more impressive raw tools, but I really feel that Quinn's feel and understanding of the game will make him the better quarterback. While Quinn gets happy feet in the pocket and occasionally struggles with his mechanics, so does a certain multi-time NFL MVP who just led his team to a Super Bowl victory. Like Peyton Manning, Quinn has been a very successful four year starter against strong competition. Throughout the evaluation process, Quinn's weaknesses have been very harshly scrutinized. Had he come out of school last year, I think Quinn would have been the first quarterback off the board. After returning for his senior season, he has seen some of his flaws exposed. An excellent student of the game, Quinn should be able to learn from them and prepare for the step up in competition. Russell has always relied on his physical skills to make plays that will not be available against NFL competition. For me, this compares to the 1998 debate where many evaluators rated Ryan Leaf's physical skills ahead of Manning's mental skills. The end result of said debate needs no explanation.

RB-Marshawn Lynch

As good as Adrian Peterson could be, I think his upright, physical style of running will lead to lots of time spent on the trainer's table. Lynch does a better job of eluding defenders and should be a versatile, every down back. Peterson has yet to prove he can catch the ball out of the backfield or handling the blocking responsibility on passing downs. Still, I would have a hard time taking Lynch over Peterson because of the potential that Peterson's football acumen catches up to his awesome physical skills. That said, I think Lynch should rank as one the better backs in the league for many years.

WR-Calvin Johnson

Imagine Terrell Owens with more speed and an unselfish attitude. Easily the most talented player in this draft and he should quickly be among the best receivers in the league.

TE-Scott Chandler

The easy answer is Greg Olsen. While I think Olsen's physical skills will lead to a nice NFL career, Chandler's work ethic and underrated athletic skills will trump Olsen. Chandler made a lot of highlight-reel type catches at Iowa, and has a chance to develop into a 50-70 catch guy at an increasingly utilized position. He will be a steal in the late 2nd-early 3rd round range.

OT-Joe Thomas

I think Thomas will be a perennial Pro Bowl left tackle, a foundation at the most important offensive spot not named quarterback. Blessed with excellent physcial skills and an excellent understanding of the game, any team not taking Calvin Johnson will be foolish to pass up on Thomas. I also love Joe Staley, who has the chance to develop into the same level player as Thomas. However, Thomas's ability to reach that level quicker make him the better propsect.

OG-Ben Grubbs

An excellent athlete for an interior lineman, Grubbs has the chance to be one of the best guards in the NFL. After playing tight end and on the defensive line, he found a home in the trenches. While Grubbs may not be as ready to start as Justin Blalock, his awesome potential makes him the highest rated guard in years. An ideal fit would be a team like the Bears, where Grubbs could sit for a year behind a Hall of Famer in Ruben Brown and learn, then step in his spot once Brown retires.

DE-Gaines Adams

While Adams's struggles against the run have been well publicized, his pass rushing skills far exceed any prospect in this draft. Dwight Freeney, who's going to tackle his way to Canton, has made a career on strictly being a frightening pass rusher. An occasional tackle in the backfield will be more than enough run support for Adams, who should be dominant force in predictable pass situations.

DT-Amobi Okoye

Once Okoye gets acclimated, he could be a dominant force at defensive tackle for many years. At just nineteen years old, his best days are definitely ahead. Still, after being a three year starter at Louisville, he should be a very nice player right away Once he fully develops, look out blockers.

MLB-Patrick Willis

Possessing a tremenous combination of skills and smarts, Willis should be a high level player for a long time. An ideal middle linebacker because of his football acumen, Willis will be able to ready plays and his tremendous speed will allow to run down many a runner and make big plays. Expected to go in the 10-12 pick range, he will be a steal there and teams should be looking to take him much earlier.

OLB-Lawrence Timmons

A tough prediction to make, since talented guys like Jarvis Moss and Anthony Spencer could be converted to rush outside linebackers in a 3-4 scheme. However, of guys who will surely play this spot, I think Timmons has the highest upside and should become a very good player. He possesses the motor you want from an outside linebacker, and has the athleticism to play in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. Playing behind Ernie Sims at Florida State, Timmons has only started for one season. Because of that, his ability to immediately contribute may be behind guys like Jon Beason and Paul Posluszny. However, once Timmons develops, he will be the best of that bunch.

CB-Chris Houston

Guys like Darrelle Revis and Leon Hall have gotten most of the attention. However, Houston quietly performed at a high level at Arkansas and has a great combination of speed and skills. While Hall struggled against elite college receivers, Houston had strong performances against guys like Dwayne Jarrett, Robert Meachem and Dwayne Bowe. In the bottom part of the first round, he will an excellent pick-up for an already successful team.

S-Laron Landry

Like Calvin Johnson, Landry is the best player at his position by a wide margin. Speed, skill and experience make Landry a surefire top ten pick who has a good chance to be a perennial Pro Bowler. He needs some work in pass coverage, but he should be an immediate starter and will develop into a defensive leader.

While I can care less about kickers and punters, this Mason Crosby kid from Colorado looks like he'll be a first day pick.

Sleepers/Busts:


QB:
Bust: Jamarcus Russell-LSU
Sleeper: John Beck-BYU
Major Sleeper: Jordan Palmer-UTEP

RB:
Bust: Antonio Pittman-Ohio State
Sleepers: Michael Bush-Louisville, Lorenzo Booker-Florida State

WR:
Bust: Ted Ginn Jr.-Ohio State
Sleepers: Rhema McKnight-Notre Dame, Chansi Stuckey-Clemson
Major Sleeper: Dallas Baker-Florida

TE:
Bust: Zach Miller-Arizona State
Sleeper: Scott Chandler-Iowa

OT:
Busts: Levi Brown-Penn State, Ryan Harris-Notre Dame
Sleeper: Doug Free-Northern Illinois

That other side of the ball is less clear to me, but I really think Quentin Moses of Georgia outperforms his draft spot.

Other random thoughts:

Denver will be the biggest draft day mover.

Someone in Kansas City finally gets a clue and stops shopping Larry Johnson.

Someone takes a gamble on Troy Smith on day one.

Buffalo will again make a headstratching first pick. After four years following him in Chicago, I still have no clue what Dick Jauron is thinking most of the time.

Lance Briggs will remain a Bear.

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YCS blogger Matt Zuchowski's biological father accepts head coaching position at Saint Louis

Zuch's mom didn't go for the milkman. She went for the young Marquette head coach.


Anyway, it's cool to Majerus back in coaching. Saint Louis's gain is every hoops viewer's loss. Take care of that ticker, Rick.

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Eckstein's doing commercials now?!?!

I'm probably the last person to notice this, but David Eckstein is featured in a commercial for those new MLB caps where he is the only MLB player present.

(I think I came here to post on something substantial, but seeing Eckstein in a commercial completely threw me.)

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One!DoIHearOne?ONE! Two!DoIHearTwo?TWO!

Question 1: Can fans seriously do this?

Question 2: Doesn't selling a person over the internet kind of amount to human trafficking?

Question 3: Why didn't I know about this when Ryan Amoroso was still playing for Marquette?

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But just imagine if this had happened

>> Thursday

Sports news, from the world of my brother's subconscious (via my email):

I had a bizarre dream last night. I dreamt that Ryne Sandberg was still playing for the Cubs, and he hit a game-winning grand slam. After the game, he came over to our seating area to give the game ball to... Phil Collins. I convinced Phil Collins to give me the signed game ball after I praised his earlier Genesis work, especially during the Peter Gabriel era.

Is there a dream interpreter in the house?

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The following is actually a headline on ESPN.com and not some joke I'd make after saying, "A-Rod? More like..."

Opt-out-Rod?

Are you serious? Good lord.

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A Proposed Defense for Vick


What do you do when authorities find dozens of dogs, many injured and malnurished, along with dog-fighting equipment? Well there aren't many good explanations for that.

...Unless you're Michael Vick. An inside source ("inside" being inside my head) has reported that Vick used the dogs for training. What better way to train for the NFL season than running through a room of hungry, vicious dogs with a steak in your hand? Injured? Damn right they're injured, cuz they got served by the best pure athlete in pro sports.

An unnamed source told YCS, "Watching Vick run with those dogs was the best entertainment that $10 can buy. Sometimes you'd just be like 'dude, throw the steak and they'll leave you alone.' But he just refused to do it."

The real story here is how this will affect our potential business of smuggling fighting cocks in from Puerto Rico. PETA's all over this shit now.

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I wonder who this could be?

>> Wednesday

A very interesting quote from Tom Crean here on Dominic James and his testing the NBA Draft process:

"But you have to let people chase their dreams," Crean said. "I know a guy at a program that we compete against who worked so diligently to hold one of his players back that -- and this player ended up being a lottery pick -- he didn't even meet the player's agent until the night of the draft. I don't think that's right, and I don't ever want that to be me. You have to give your players a chance to chase their dreams. If not, you're not building your program the right way or doing the right thing."

I'll give our readers a big hint on who Crean may be referring to: he resembles his team's mascot.

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Prior Out for Season

Somehow, I don't think anyone is really surprised.

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Brewer plays through the pain


"He went to a hospital and a doctor recommended that Yost have his arm immobilized. Yost declined and returned to the park, where he guided the NL Central- leading Brewers past the Chicago Cubs 4-1."

The Brewers' manager was apparantly jogging Tuesday morning when he tripped over himself and broke his collerbone. Yost, a self-admitted idiot, gave no fuck and went on to a heroic effort at Wrigley Field.
Yost fought through the pain to brush his forearm, tug his earlobe and pinch his nose as much as was necessary.
You just can't say enough about this effort. Yost showed that he is pure grit and moxy.

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This Gentleman is Less Than Impressed With Rich Hill's Solid Start to the Season



That is all.

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Cool Out, Panicky Media


On Mike & Mike in the morning today, the twin Mikes took a brief moment of respite from discussing Brady Quinn to mention that the Yankees have lost 5 straight and aren't going to make the playoffs this year. The Yankees catastrophe has been reported elsewhere in the media in the last couple of days, particularly on the heels of their three game sweep in Boston, despite A-Rod hitting an estimated 35 homers during the series. As always, YCS is here to be your calming voice of reason in the stormy seas of panicky media-types:

Everyone cool the fuck out.

First, the Yankees aren't going to lose 90 games this year. They probably won't lose 80, and 75 might be a stretch. They're probably going to make the playoffs. They're real good. REAL good. They can hit the ball with the best of them, and if you're panicky about the pitching, well, they're the Yankees, and it's always a possibility that they make a move for pitching (or just sign Roger Clemens). They have probably the best offense in all of baseball, and when they're healthy (which, due to Matsui coming back this week and Posada being closer to 100% by the day), there really isn't a hole in that lineup.

Also, the bullpen's going to be better. Rivera's having his usual "it's early in the season and you think I'm washed up" moment, but he's going to get back on track and he'll be good to go (by the way, has anyone ever looked at Mariano Rivera's career numbers? Other than his rookie year, the lowest his ERA+ has ever been is 160. That's insane). Evidence to not panic about Rivera is that right now his BABIP is around .350, about 50 points higher than his career average. That will iron itself out, and since his walk rate and strikeouts are relatively the same, methinks he'll be fine. Additionally, Myers and Proctor are still among the best late inning guys around, so this minor flux in the late innings won't continue all year.

One final (and perhaps most important) note, the Yankees Pythagorean Win/Loss percentage right now is .590, which speaks to the fact that as of late, they've had a run of pretty bad luck (their actual winning percentage right now is .421). Sure, they've given up 100 runs, but they've also scored 120. 120 runs is a lot in 19 friggin' games.

So once again, everyone - cool the fuck out with the Yankees.

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Yellow Journalism and Maroon Jerseys

Couple of things to wrap up that have really been bugging me the last few days on two different topics.

First, yesterday's Daily Southtown ran with a full-color photo above the fold, with one the most inflammatory headlines I've seen since the San Francisco Examiner ran with "BASTARDS!" after 9/11. Not to compare the two events at all, but rather the objectivity and inherent message of the headlines. The Southtown's headline, "ARE THESE FANS DANGEROUS?" took up nearly half the page, and the article did nothing to help an already tense situation between Chicago Fire front office, fans, and Toyota Park security.

Among the errors, albeit somewhat forgiveable...
1.) Section 8 Chicago does not have a membership base. It is akin to saying that any college's student section has "members." It's just the location where we all sit.
2.) No flares have ever been lit or thrown on the field during any MLS match at Toyota Park.
3.) There is a difference between a flare and a smoke bomb. One is dangerous in close proximity. One is not.
4.) Section 8 has never organized violence, despises racism, and doesn't use the games as an excuse for a political platform or chance to fight like other groups around the world.

The headline and article did nothing to disspell the worst, most negative stereotypes of soccer fans.

The Section 8 PR aside, it's time to focus on something else that has been bothering me, and that is the manner in which professional sports teams are responding to the Virginia Tech massacre last week.

This weekend, Houston Dynamo and DC United will wear special Virginia Tech-inspired jerseys, and auction them off with the proceeds going to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. Dynamo have gone one step further and have offered to donate $8 from every ticket sold after entering "VT" as a promotion code online to the fund.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that the teams are chipping in to help the victims of this terrible tragedy, however, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the way they're going about doing it (stay with me, here). I mean, it's not as if the issue is starving for media attention. For example, the US Women's National Team will wear pink-trimmed jerseys on Mothers Day, Major League Baseball will follow with pink bats to raise awareness. Even though Breast Cancer is a terrible illness and killer, it still needs to be kept in the public eye because of its subtlety and inherent "non-news-worthiness." Follow? Coverage of the Virginia Tech slayings was the opposite of subtlety, everyone knew about it within hours, so no one is at a loss for awareness of the event.

On the sports side of things, I really don't like it when teams change their colors for one-off games just for the hell of it. It reeks of minor league sports. I mean, imagine if Marquette said, "For our game on Valentine's Day, we're going to wear red and white jerseys." There would be an uproar at wearing rival UW-Madison's colors. The Bulls-Celtics game last march looked like an intersquad scrimmage. That just bugs me to begin with.

But back to my main point, and that's "the way to chip in to help Virginia Tech." When the Washington Nationals took the field the day after the tragedy wearing maroon and orange VaTech caps, I thought that was a nice gesture, much in the same way that the Yankees wore caps honoring the efforts of the NYPD and FDNY after 9/11. (I'm not sure if those caps were auctioned off, but they should have been.) It was a show of solidarity because these teams were ingrained in the fabric of their communities that had suffered a tragedy. On that night last week on East Capitol Street, I'd imagine there were more than a few Virginia Tech alums in the crowd or watching the game on TV. However, Dynamo and United are going about their charity the wrong way.

Again, don't get me wrong, I love that the teams are chipping in and sending donations to the Memorial Fund, but what connection to the VaTech community does HOUSTON have?

Likewise, if DC United wanted to do something similar to the gesture the Nationals gave last week, why not wear it at their next home game (1 week from today), instead of on the road this weekend against Columbus? I'm not saying this was the team's intention, but someone unfamiliar to the discussions might say that teams like Dynamo with no connection to Virginia Tech other than through the news broadcasts are piggybacking the coverage and the tragedy to grab the spotlight for themselves, and use people's sympathy for the victims to sell more tickets (They're giving 8 bucks from each ticket to the fund, but only if you enter a code and buy them online. I wonder if they're offering the same cut from those fans' parking and concessions revenue to Virginia Tech.)

If the teams wanted to hold a fundraiser or make a donation through their charitable arm, that's fantastic. Way to go. But when a team changes their colors (and in Houston's case, to that of one of their rivals!) it looks like someone dropping money in a Salvation Army bucket at Christmas, and yelling to anyone within earshot to come and take a look at how much he's giving.

That's my $0.02.

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Risking it all

>> Tuesday


Brady Quinn is playing off his name more than he should. About 10 minutes ago on ESPN, Quinn compared himself to another Brady--the one and only Tom Brady...the one that has won three Super Bowl rings.

I'll say this about Quinn. He knows how to self-promote. In addition to taking advantage of the "Brady" connection, he took the whole angle of "I know how to lead a team out of shit," knowing (or at least hoping) that he will be drafted by a bottom-feeder.

So I'm here to bet my reputation against Brady Quinn. I will bet every ounce of my credibility that Brady Quinn will not win three Super Bowls, as Tom Brady has. In fact, I'm pretty confident that he will never win one (at least, not as a starter).

Enjoy the path of Phillip Rivers, you over-confident cunt.


Author's Note: As both a Marquette and Michigan fan, I am in no way qualified to objectively comment on anything Notre Dame. But I passionately hate Brady Quinn, and will always take the opporunity to bash him.

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YCS Previews the NFL Draft: Instant Millionaire Edition


Through the rest of the week, YCS' self-proclaimed football experts will take a long, hard penis (oops, look) at the upcoming NFL Draft, an annual rite of spring as immutable as seasonal allergies, Opening Day, warmer weather and other lame, ill-conceived analogies. To make sure you're familiar with the players your team will cut due to salary cap constraints four years from now, we're here to give you the skinny on the who, what and why that will shape the April 28 Draft.

Today: Projected First Rounders. Zuch handles the offense and Bechtel previews the defensive players likely to go in Round 1 on Saturday.

Offense

QUARTERBACKS

Jamarcus Russell, Jr., LSU
(6'5", 265, 4.83 )
Positives: He has an extremely strong arm, throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field with ease. Also, he showed some nice touch on passes, separating him from guys like Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich. He has the size to take the pounding of an NFL quarterback. Also, even with his size, he has nimble feet and the ability to escape the pocket.

Negatives: He lacks a little bit of experience, only starting in two full seasons. His learning curve may be a lot steeper than a guy like Brady Quinn. Sometimes, Russell will get lazy with his mechanics and not step into his throws properly. Although he may not be afforded this opportunity, Russell should likely spend a year or two as a back-up, learning an offensive system and the nuances of being an NFL quarterback.

Brady Quinn, Sr., Notre Dame
(6'3", 232, 4.73)
Positives: He has a ton of experience, starting for three and half seasons at Notre Dame. His last two seasons, he played in a very NFL friendly offense under Charlie Weis. He has solid arm strength, with the ability to make the wide range of throws required of an NFL quarterback. While not super fast, he has enough speed to elude some pass rushers. He should be able to pick up an NFL offense early and not having the learning curve of Russell.

Negatives: Last season, Quinn developed an awful habit of getting happy feet in the pocket. He did not show this much during his junior reason, but it really came to the forefront last year. While Notre Dame’s offensive line play was spotty, there’s a good chance the team that drafts will have the same problem. While he should be a productive pro, he does not have the elite potential of Russell.

RUNNING BACKS

Adrian Peterson, Jr., Oklahoma
(6'1", 217, 4.4)
Positives: Peterson has the blend of size and speed coveted by NFL teams. He has been super productive from day one, always ranking at one of the best at his position. He seems like a quality player and teammate who you won’t see getting trouble. (We will now refer to this as the Pacman Jones characteristic)

Negatives: He has suffered from ankle and shoulder injuries in college, which lends a question to his durability in the pros. His running style lends to injuries, as he has takes tacklers head on instead of trying to elude many of them. Also, he lacks experience catching passes out of the backfield, so he may need to come out in obvious passing situations.

Marshawn Lynch, Jr., California
(5'11" 1/4, 215, 4.46)
Positives: He has the chance to be an explosive threat at running back, the type of back who can take it to the house at any time. He has had plenty of carries at Cal, but does not have the wear and tear of a guy like Peterson. Also, he has more experience catching passes out of the backfield.

Negatives: Like Ronnie Brown, Lynch has always been part of a two-back system, splitting carries with J.J. Arrington and Justin Forsett. Whilenot charged, Lynch was entangled in a sexual assault case in 2006 that may raise questions about his character (sexual assault usually does).
WIDE RECEIVERS

Calvin Johnson, Jr., Georgia Tech
(6'5", 239, 4.35)
Positives: His 40 time showed that he has top end speed to go with his awesome size. He runs very good routes, having better fundamentals than a lot of young wide receivers. He could be extremely dangerous in the red-zone because of his size and excellent leaping ability. Also, unlike a lot of top receivers, he does not have a selfish attitude.

Negatives: His performances were a bit erratic, but I attribute a lot of that to the inconsistent play of his quarterback, Reggie Ball.

Dwayne Jarrett, Jr., USC
(6'4", 219, 4.62)
Positives: He possesses excellent size for the receiver position and has already had experience being utilized as a redzone threat in college. He really improved his route running as his career has progressed, not just relying on his size to get by. He is not afraid to snatch a pass out of traffic, and will compete well for jump balls. Also, once he catches the ball, he can be tough to tackle in the open field.

Negatives: He lacks the elite speed coveted by NFL teams, and he may struggle separating from NFL corners. Durability was an issue last season, missing three games with a shoulder injury.

Dwayne Bowe, Sr., LSU
(6'2", 221, 4.5)
Positives: He has very good size for the receiver position, with a very strong frame at 220 pounds. Even at his size, Bowe runs very fluid routes and has NFL level speed. His production steadily increased throughout his career, with an excellent senior season of 65 catches, 990 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Negatives: He does not have the upside of Johnson and Jarrett. He may not have the burst of speed needed to separate from defenders on deep routes. Also, he still struggles with the intricacies of the position.

Steve Smith, Sr., USC
(5'11", 197, 4.44)
Positives: Very consistent production in college, with three straight years of 40 plus catches, and 660 plus yards. He showed excellent speed at the combine, running in the 4.45 range. A versatile receiver, he can catch 8-10 yard outs and also go vertical. A polished route runner, he should be ready to contribute right away

Negatives: He lacks the ideal size for a number one receiver. He did miss five games after a broken leg in 2004, but has shown no ill effects.

Robert Meachem, Jr., Tennessee
(6'2", 214, 4.39)
Positives: Like Calvin Johnson, he possesses the ideal combination of size and speed. He produced in a major way at Tennessee with 71 catches, 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has a quick first step and has the ability to separate from defenders running downfield.

Negatives: Like Bowe, he still lacks some of the polish needed for the position. Also, his junior season was the only one with outstanding numbers. His ability and willingness to catch passes over the middle has been questioned.

Ted Ginn Jr., Jr., Ohio State
(5'11",178, 4.4)
Positives: He has world class speed and could be a very dangerous deep threat. He has plenty of versatility, as he could return kicks to go along with playing receiver. He could potentially be utilized in many different ways in order to make big plays.

Negatives: He needs a lot work in developing as a pure receiver. In his first couple of years, he will likely be a 3rd or 4th wide receiver as he lacks the polish to be an every down guy right away.

TIGHT ENDS

Greg Olsen, Jr., Miami (FL)
(6'5", 254, 4.51)
Positives: He possesses all the tools to be a very good NFL tight end, with a great combination of size, speed and hands. Also, he could be an asset as a blocker, which will allow to be in the game at all times.

Negatives: His tools have never equaled his production. He has not been the game changing player like Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow II were at Miami. While a lot of that may be attributed to Miami’s offensive struggles in general, it still raises a few eyebrows.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Joe Thomas (OT), Sr., Wisconsin
(6'6", 311, 4.92)
Positives: A very good athlete, be played at tight end and on the defensive line before switching to left tackle in 2004. He has very solid blocking technique, playing a major part in the success of Badger backs Brian Calhoun and P.J. Hill. Unlike most linemen, he has the mental and physical ability to step into a starting spot and succeed right away.

Negatives: He does not overpower defenders, relying more on finesse and technique. Although he recovered nicely this past season, there is future concern about the knee Thomas severely hurt in the 2006 Capitol One Bowl.

Joe Staley (OT), Sr., Central Michigan
(6'5", 306, 4.82)
Positives: A phenomenal athlete for the position, the former tight end brings an excellent combination of size and speed to the left tackle position. His athleticism should help block speed rushers off the end. Unlike Brown, his motor is very consistent.

Negatives: As a converted tight end, he does not have the experience of Brown (below) at tackle. He still needs to some bulk to his frame. Also, he has not played against the same level of competition as Brown and Thomas.

Levi Brown (OT), Sr., Penn State
(6'5", 323, 5.39)
Positives: He has excellent experience as a run blocker, starting for four years in the Nittany Lions run-based offense. He has good size and width for the position. He plays faster than his 40 time would indicate, with good foot movement.

Negatives: He does not play with as much power as his size and strength (40 bench reps of 225 pounds at combine) would lead you to think. He is inconsistent with his effort.

Ben Grubbs (OG), Sr., Auburn
(6'2", 311, 5.2)
Positives: A very good athlete for the guard position, he moves well on the field with excellent feet. He has greatly improved at the position since being moved there in 2004. His upside pushes him up the board higher than a more polished player like Justin Blalock.

Negatives: He did not emerge as a big-time prospect until his senior season, so there is some worry about his readiness to play at the NFL level. Also, since he is fairly new to the position, he needs time to develop his game and will likely need time to sit and learn the position.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Gaines Adams (DE), Sr., Clemson
(6'4", 258, 4.64)
Due to limited size, Adams projects as a Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila/Kenechi Udeze-type speed rusher in the NFL. He's not going to bull rush his way past any offensive tackles, but he's got great explosiveness and athleticism and will be able to put on enough weight to hold up in the running game. Initially, though, he'll probably start off as a situational pass rusher to allow him to add bulk and get used to the technical aspects of the pro game.

Jamaal Anderson (DE), Jr., Arkansas
(6'5", 288, 4.75)
Enjoyed a career year in 1998, gaining 1,800 yards and leading the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance while pioneering the "Dirty Bird" dance that caught fire throughout the league. I'm not quite sure how he managed to re-enter college and regain draft eligibility, but...wait, what? Different guy? This one has two A's in his name? Well, fuck me, you're right.

This Jamaal Anderson apparently went to Arkansas, plays a different position and upon closer inspection may be a different player entirely. Anderson left school early after a standout Junior season and is basically everything Gaines Adams isn't. He lacks top end speed but makes up for it with an impressive punch and sturdy presence in the running game. While Adams will probably have more long term potential, Anderson will provide an immediate impact on the defensive line of whomever drafts him. If it's Cleveland, though, he'll suck. Remember Courtney Brown? Man, they screwed the pooch on that one.

Amobi Okoye (DT), Sr., Louisville
(6'2", 302, 5.07)
In case you haven't heard, this dude is friggin' awesome. He's got ideal size and incredible quickness for his position, and plays like he's got a pissed-off wolverine riding shotgun in his jock. Also, dude graduated from college at 19 years old. I'll allow you to take a moment to reflect on what you were doing when you were 19. I bet it didn't involve holding a college degree and being able to kill a man with your bare hands. Man, you've wasted your life. Also, I don't know if you saw this story because the media didn't make any sort of big deal about it, but although Okoye wants to be formal, he also likes to party.

Oh, one final thing, you racist xenophobe - he's not related to the "Nigerian Nightmare" Christian Okoye despite being both Nigerian and nightmarish. I checked.

Alan Branch (DT), Jr., Michigan
(6'5", 324, 5.07)
At 6'5" 324, Branch eats pieces of shit like you for breakfast. He's the classic Tony Siragusa/Grady Jackson-type space occupying defensive tackle, which hopefully doesn't mean he'll eat his way out of the league by age 29. His massive frame and decent initial punch mean that he'll be an effective player against the run in a two gap scheme, but he'll be limited by a lack of speed as a pass rusher. More damningly, scouts have considerable concern about the way in which he tended to completely disappear into a non-factor during games late last year. Additionally, scouts worry about his poor performance against top flight opponents, which means if a team can't motivate him, they'll have a $12 million waste of space to deal with for 4 years.

Adam Carriker (DE), Sr., Nebraska
(6'6", 296, 4.9)
Carricker projects as a left end in the NFL due to his good size, but lacks the speed of an impact defensive end. While he doesn't have top end speed, he's got good quickness and strength for a rookie, so he'll also be able to step in and contribute immediately. Additionally, he's white, so prepare yourself to the Aaron Kampman comparisons, because ESPN will rock that angle as long as they possibly can.

Jarvis Moss (DE/OLB), Jr., Florida
(6'6", 250, 4.7)
Moss fits the bill of the prototypical underclassman that rides a breakout season into a first round contract but would really benefit from another year in college. Although he's a very solid athlete, his lack of size and pure strength lead to big concerns about both his immediate impact and long-term potential. Weighing in Moss' favor, however, is the fact that his impressive athleticism means he's suitable to play as a rush end in a 3-4 scheme. Regardless, it'll be interesting to see whether Moss is drafted as a niche pass rusher for a 4-3 team or will be asked to step in and fill a larger role in a 3-4 system.

Justin Harrell (DT), Sr., Tennessee
(6'4", 300, 5.04)
Although a bit undersized for DT at 300lbs., scouts are confident that Harrell will be able to add weight without sacrificing mobility in order to better hold up in the running game. The major concern with this kid is that he's never been a major factor in the passing game, so he could end up as a two down tackle that you'll have to substitute on 3rd down for a better pass rusher.

LINEBACKERS

Patrick Willis (ILB), Sr., Mississippi
(6'1", 242, 4.51)
Willis has shot up draft boards during the off-season due in equal parts to great workouts and a relatively weak linebacker talent pool. Although he's not the superior athlete of a Johnathan Vilma or Nick Barnett, he's a very steady player in terms of technique and knows how to take advantage of his agility. Most attractive is the fact that Willis is a very reliable tackle, an increasingly rare trait among college linebackers. Although he lacks ideal size, Willis will be able to step into the inside on either a 4-3 or 3-4 team and make an immediate impact his rookie year.

Lawrence Timmons (OLB), Jr., Florida State
(6'0", 234, 4.66)
Man, is it just me or does it seem like Florida State has a linebacker in the first round every year? There must be something in the water down there. Oh, yeah, steroids. And questionable recruiting practices. That's it. Anyway, Timmons is a great athlete that can and will step up and hit but lacks diagnosing and reaction skills. He'll make plays on both sidelines, but early on will struggle with consistency. Can make an impact as a pass rusher, but concerns about his ability to read plays make his impact in coverage questionable.

Paul Posluszny (OLB), Sr., Penn State
(6'1", 238, 4.63)
Man, Gavin would totally make out with this guy. Loves him. Seriously, though (and not just Gavin's serious gayness), Posluszny would have been a cinch high draft pick had it not been for an injury in last year's bowl win over Florida State. Pos' draft prospects are probably best summed up best in the following by ESPN: "Plays the game with tremendous intensity and toughness (he's white). Displays adequate speed and athleticism (he's slow and white). Diagnoses plays as quickly as any linebacker in the country and takes outstanding angles in pursuit (solid technique = white as the driven snow). He's a natural leader with tremendous overall intangibles (he's David Eckstein-white). Few work harder and respect the game more than him (this guy's white as shit). Very good student, as well (cracker ass cracker)."

DEFENSIVE BACKS

LaRon Landry (S), Sr., LSU
(6'0", 213, 4.35)
Landry ranks with Calvin Johnson and Joe Thomas as the most complete and pro-ready players in the draft this year. Scouts rave about his athleticism and he's very adept at diagnosing and reading plays from the secondary. The only minor concerns with Landry is a lack of bulk that raises concerns about how well he'll be able to hold up against the run. Other than that, he's ready to be an immediate playmaker.

Leon Hall (CB), Sr., Michigan
(5'11", 193, 4.39)
Hall has all the phyiscal tools to excel as an elite corner in the NFL. In terms of athleticism, ball skills and reaction, he's unmatched in this year's class. The only concern with Hall is that he doesn't seem to play as fast as his 40 time, which can be an indication of uncertainty or hesitation, either of which can kill you in the NFL. So long as he gets comfortable in a scheme and has a chance to develop, Hall will be a big time playmaker and a welcome addition to any defense.

Darrelle Revis (CB), Jr., Pitt
(5'11", 204, 4.38)

Revis projects as a solid corner, notably lacking only in top end speed. Otherwise, he's a pretty solid corner that you can rely on as a second corner. Ideally, you'll have to make sure he's got safety help over the top to ensure he doesn't get exposed, but other than that if you take him, you've got a solid player. Additionally, he can contribute in the return game, which adds to his overall value. In the right system (such as a cover 2 that will maximize his ability to play physically), Revis could excel at the pro level.

Next on tap, Zuch and I will take a look at some of the sleepers that could make an impact in the later rounds. Also, we'll hope to have a first round mock up on Friday, when we'll hopefully have a better understanding of pre-draft trades.

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Dominic James to Enter NBA Draft


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Greetings from Dallas!

>> Monday

Hey everyone! I'll be in Dallas for the next month or two, so what that means for you readers is... well, pretty much nothing, now that I think about it. But hey, maybe if the Mavs win the NBA title, I'll have some great first-hand stories of the locals honking their horns and lighting Sparklers in celebration.


I kid; I kid. I'm sure Mavs fans are great, but of the little I've gathered from local sports talk radio, Dallas...ans? ...ites? would rather discuss who's starting at left tackle for the Cowboys than their 67-win NBA team. Oh, and their hockey team's Game 7 tonight almost got mention on the airwaves.

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Here's looking at them









It's Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and comedic actor Lloyd Bridges (God rest his soul).

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Four Play

If there was any doubt that the best players in the world ply their trade in the English Premiership, surely it has been erased with this year's Champions League semifinals. Three of the four semifinalists are English sides, with AC Milan being the only continental representation. I rebounded nicely to post a 3-1 record in the Quarterfinals, with Valencia over Chelsea being my only miscue, and my second upset special to be dashed after 180 minutes as Michael Essien's strike pulled the Blues ahead at the stroke of full time. The wins put me at 17-11 on the season, with 6 of those losses coming in a bullshit Round of 16. Let's move onto the Semifinals. The pressure is on like it hasn't been before, with a trip to the Olympic Stadium in Athens for the Final the reward.

In one semifinal, Liverpool FC will take on Chelsea FC in a rematch of the 2005 Champions League Semifinal that saw Liverpool through to Istanbul on a controversial goal which may or may not have completely crossed over the line. Liverpool went on to defeat AC Milan in a dramatic Champions League Final.

Liverpool has done everything domestically they can. Currently in third place in the Premiership, they have already clinched a Champions League place for next season, but cannot earn anything more. The "Big-eared trophy" is the last one they can win this season, and the Reds are currently in a run of form that leaves them undefeated in their last 7 matches in all competitions, including their convincing Champions League Quarterfinal dismissal of Dutch Champions PSV Eindhoven.

Chelsea on the other hand is facing the ghosts of history. Among the other semifinalists, the Blues are the only side to have never won the European Cup. Liverpool has won it 5 times. Manchester United twice, and AC Milan 6 times. Despite a stacked roster, Chelsea has not been able to find a path into the Final the past two seasons, but this year could be the year. However, while Liverpool are able to put all their focus into winning in Athens next month, Chelsea is chasing an unprecedented "Quadruple" of trophies this season, and may be distracted by trying to make up ground on Manchester United in the Premiership. Chelsea was held to a 0-0 draw at Newcastle United last weekend, in doing so, blowing a golden chance to catch Man U. Chelsea waits early and scores late, as evident in their nail-biting escape against Valencia in the Quarterfinals. Chelsea's roster reads like a who's who of international football. If you remember hearing a player's name during the World Cup last summer, odds are they will be wearing blue. Ballack, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Andriy Schevchencko, Michael Essien, Peter Cech, Frank Lampard, the list keeps going. Chelsea and Liverpool split their meetings in the Premiership this season. Leg one kicks off midweek at Stamford Bridge in West London.

My pick: Teams drawn 2-2. Chelsea advances on either away goals or penalty kicks. Liverpool may have Athens as their sole focus, but Chelsea has been proving me wrong all competition, and it feels like their year.

The second semi-final pits Manchester United against AC Milan in the semifinals glamour matchup. Leg one kicks off midweek at Old Trafford, with United looking to gain passage to the Final for the first time since 1999. However, this semifinal could not have come at a worse time for United, as the injury bug has bitten the Red Devils and bitten them hard. Kieran Richardson and Rio Ferdinand went down last weekend in an ugly draw to Middlesbrough at home. Gary Neville, Mikael Silvestre, Nemanja Vidic, Park Ji-Sung, and Louis Saha are also out. The team is essentially Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and the rest of the gang. They may also be distracted by fending off Chelsea in the Premiership and FA Cup Final. For United to have a chance, they MUST deny Milan an away goal midweek. Hopefully that will buy them some time so the walking wounded can get back in time for the second leg at the San Siro in 2 weeks.

Milan appears the darkhorse, but is also seeming everyone's trendy pick to win the entire competition! The Rossoneri have survived their early season point deduction and are in third place in the Italian top flight. Quite a far cry from a team that was actually banned from the Champions League at the start of the season. The three times that Milan and United have faced off in the Champions League, Milan has never lost.

My pick: AC Milan 3-2. Man United is a very talented side, and Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest player in the world...if a serial diver. However, it's hard to win when your all-star side is going to be on the bench.

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Vindication!

>> Saturday


I've already been reproached once (by my mom) for derisively referring to Dwyane Wade as "Wade the Christ" in my NBA Playoff preview post the other night. Well check out this lead from Bill Simmons's latest column:

Eric from Chicago: "Thought you might enjoy this piece on Dwyane Wade's $8.9 million pad. I went to Marquette while he was there and he was the most down-to-earth guy. If I didn't hear so many good stories about him, by looking at this link, I'd think Wade's ego is ginormous -- and maybe it is. But this link is enjoyable nonetheless."

Obviously he's not the only pro athlete with a ridiculously oversized mansion. At the same time, his exception only goes so far. Let's not canonize him just because he seems squeaky clean and went to Marquette(, mom).
(Hell, who'm I kidding? I'd get a Spiderman-themed bathroom too if I could afford it.)

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Has anyone seen Ricky Williams?

>> Friday


Happy holidays to Calvin Johnson, Gaines Adams and Amobi Okoye. Something tells me they're not playing golf right now.

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Eckstein makes play that only Eckstein could have made

At this point, David Eckstein has made so many of these heads-up, don't-show-up-in-the-box-scores type plays that we've almost come to expect it. But let's not get spoiled yet.

The situation: Ninth inning, man at first, one out, 3-2 count. Ronnie Cedeno takes off from first on Izzy's delivery. Ball four on a close pitch, throw goes down to second. Cedeno slides head first in vain, as it was ball four anyway. Eckstein, however, being the heady professional Baseball Player that he is, realizes that Cedeno is only guaranteed second on the walk and that any further advance renders him fair game.

So what happens? Cedeno comes off second, and Eckstein, being the heady, team-first gamer he is, puts the tag on Cedeno, who is called out. Can you believe that! How many major leaguers would have the presence and Baseball Sense and headiness to know the situation and the rules that well? Wow. I can only think of exactly six players in the history of baseball with the Baseball Sense to make that play: David Eckstein, Pete Rose, Honus Wagner, Davey Concepcion, Dickie Thon, and F.P. Santangelo. I mean, wow.

(Of course, Eckstein was only holding the tag on a base stealer as any infielder would do out of pure habit from typical base-stealing situations, but just watch this play resurface in a fluff piece the next time Eckstein finds himself in a playoff run.)

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Lock of the Week-Playoff Edition

After its unprecedented success during the football season and a cameo for college hoops, Lock of the Week returns to aid gamblers across America. Despite claims across NBA nation that they choked their chances away against the Nets, I fully believe that Da Bull take down your defending NBA Champions Miami Heat. So I may live in Chicago and have experienced a recent renaissance in my Bull fandom. I think the athletic young Bulls blow right by the Senior Citizen Crew and St. Dwyane. The Bulls will win this series in 5 and you can take that straight to the bank.

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37-Year Old for Sale! What? No takers?

Kasey Keller wants to come to MLS. There's just one problem. MLS doesn't want him.


The league has grown to the point where it is free to turn away talent, especially a name talent like Keller, who has spent the past 15 years in the English, Spanish, and German top flights. He was the second American to ever captain a side in the German top division: having held the captains armband at Borussia Mochengladbach since 2005, (shown here leading 'Gladbach's proverbial horse to water AND making him drink.). He was Man of the Match in the United States' draw with Italy at the World Cup last summer, and has been capped by the US National team almost 100 times.
With a resume like that, Jonah Freedman of SI.com wonders why any team wouldn't be banging down the door for someone of Keller's pedigree. The answer as always in sports. Money.
While MLS is growing, its salaries are still in line with early cost-control measures the league undertook to ensure its survival. Keller feels that he deserves more than the "Max Salary" of $400,000, which essentially means that he would require a designated player or "Beckham Rule" slot. Problem is, teams only get one slot for a player to be paid outside the cap.
No team is going to use their designated player slot, or their money outside the cap, on a goalkeeper, no matter how legendary he might be. The fact is, while Keller is an amazing goalkeeper, he unfortunately plays a position that Americans are very good at. American keepers man the sticks at three English Premiership clubs(Brad Friedel at Blackburn, Tim Howard at Everton, and Marcus Hannehman at Reading). The supply of potential champion goalkeepers is at an all time high.
Keller's age and health are also an issue. While goalkeepers can keep their careers going longer than field players, you can get a goalkeeper like New England's Matt Reis, who just turned 32, and can do about 95% of what Keller can do , for a fraction of the price. Perhaps even more importantly, that team then leaves their Beckham Rule slot open for another player who decides they fancy a career in America. These days, everybody's name is being tossed around. "Zidane to LA" "Drogba to New England" and so on. Why waste a chance to get a fantastic player on an aging goalkeeper who just got hurt?
Keller is either going to have to take a pay-cut, or sign a low-level contract with another European team. Sadly, this fact appears obvious to everyone following these developments except Keller and Freedman.

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It's time to hate on another undersized white guy

>> Thursday


Well now that the NBA regular season is over, I’m sure two NBA-less days are just driving everyone crazy. So it’s time to go back to one of the earlier discussions that kicked off YCS a year ago: the NBA Steve Nash Award.

Last year, we all argued that Nash did not deserve the award, but he won it anyway. Of course, most of our bitching was after the fact…and most of our bitching was just that: disorganized, whiny bitching. This year, I’m jumping on the topic in time for all the voters to read YCS and be convinced.

First off, forget that he’s won the last two MVPs. Forget that John Stockton put up similar (except better) numbers and never sniffed an MVP. Forget that most of the YCS staff (I say “staff” like we’re paid) has an unnatural hatred for “scrappy” players in general, especially when they’re Canadian. Throw all of that out, because it’s unnecessary noise in what should be a straight comparison between Nash and the other candidates.

Here are eight reasons that Steve Nash is an overrated punk bitch, and NONE of them are “He’s already won two” or “Scrappiness is overrated.”

8. He plays no defense.

Personally, I could end the post right here and be satisfied that I had provided enough evidence to give the MVP to someone else…anyone else. When Sports Illustrated polled the NBA players on who plays the worst defense in the NBA, you know who won? Mr. Team-First himself. This really upsets me, because Nash gets all the glory for being an unselfish player who doesn’t seek out glory. And yet when it comes to the most unselfish, team-oriented aspect of the game, Nash takes a breather. Let Shawn Marion worry about playing D. Let Leandro Barbosa get deflections. Then Nash, who never stepped inside the three-point arc, can lead the fast break and pick up another assist. And that leads perfectly into my next quibble.

7. Steve Nash’s stats are the benefit of D’Antoni’s European-style offense.

The Suns have built a team to win without defense. The plan is to outscore their opponent every time, and it usually works. A lot of people credit Nash with re-inventing the Suns, but it wasn’t as much him as it was the new offensive system. If you take out any of the key parts (Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Marion, Barbosa, or Raja Bell) the system will suffer greatly. Given a full off-season together with another good point guard like Deron Williams or Chancy Billups, the Suns could be just as good, if not better, than they are with Nash. If you put Nash in a lineup with a different system, or take away the best transition players in the game, I promise you he would not put up the same numbers that he is putting up now. In fact, let’s take a look at those numbers, because they're not as impressive as they initially seem.

6. Turnovers.

Just to repeat myself, Nash’s stats are inflated by the system. More assist opportunities mean more assists. Likewise, more risky passes mean more SportsCenter highlights. They also mean more turnovers.

Here are a few names for you: Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Jose Calderon, Jason Kidd, Jason Williams, Steve Blake, Brevin Knight.

See any MVP candidates in there? Me neither. But all of these players had a better assist/turnover ratio than Nash while averaging at least five assists per game.

Everyone loves Nash’s assists, but everyone seems to forget that only Dwight Howard and Eddie Curry had more turnovers than Steve Nash.

5. More inflated stats

I realize that I’m stretching this into three separate reasons, but it’s a big point that affects a lot of misguided perceptions of Nash’s year. A big part of why he won the MVP last year, and is up for it again this year, is that he’s not just dishing the ball; he’s scoring (18.8 pts/game last year and 18.6 this year). Buuuuuuuut, he’s still playing in a run-and-gun system, and that affects his numbers. Nash scores, sure, but it is not a substantial percentage of the Suns scoring. Nash’s 18.6 points per game made up 16.9% of the Suns total scoring this year. Compare:

Dirk Nowitzki: 24.6%
Lebron James: 28.2%
Kobe Bryant: 30.6%
Chauncey Billups: 17.7%
Chris Paul: 18.1%

For the record, that means that Billups and Paul both have better assist-to-turnover ratios AND score a higher percentage of their teams’ points. And I’m not even making an MVP case for either of them (although I think they’re more qualified than Nash).

4. Steve Nash cannot single-handedly take over a game.

…No matter how many times an NBA commentator says, “Nash is just taking over this game.” Nash can take over a game, but he can’t do it single-handedly. Usually when Nash is said to “take over” he is throwing ally-oops to Stoudamire and drive-and-kicking to Raja Bell. He makes great plays, but without Stoudamire to throw it down, or without Bell to stroke the three, there is no basket. Of course, like any shooter, he can hit a couple big threes in a row, and I guess that’s sort of taking over. But it’s “taking over” the way that Steve Kerr took over. The way that Kobe, Dirk, Wade or Lebron can take over a game is a superhuman, individual feat. The “selfishness” of such a take-over can turn some people off, but there is nothing more frustrating to an opposing team than “just give it to Kobe/Dwyane/Lebron/Dirk and clear the lane.”

3. Bill Walton picked Nash for MVP

And you have to be an insider to see all of his season-award picks! No explanation for why anyone wins any of them. Just the awards and the names. By Bill Walton. For an annual fee. That’s a reason, kids. That’s a legitimate reason to vote against Nash.

2. Kobe Bryant

Of course, the best reason to not give someone an MVP is that another player is more deserving. Most people see it as a two-horse race, and once again Kobe is getting screwed by being left out of the discussion. After all, most years the MVP race includes the scoring leader, especially when that player’s name is in the same sentence as Wilt Chamberlain. I’m not going to go into it too much, but Kobe is more qualified than Nash. The reason I’m not going to go into it is…

1. Dirk Nowitzki

Finally, you’re 2006-07 MVP. I am optimistic about his chances, but I think he’s going to win for all the wrong reasons. Some people vote for “the best player on the best team” and some people refuse to put Nash in the company of Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Larry Bird by giving him a third MVP. While I will support anyone who does not vote for Nash, these are some pretty dumb reasons.

The real reason is that Dirk does much more for the Mavs than Nash does for the Suns (like rebound and play defense). Dirk also passes the “Who would you start your team with?” test, as well as the “Where would his team be without him?” test with better results than Nash. That’s why Dirk should win the MVP instead of Nash.

Plus all the reasons above.

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Amobi Time

So, that's what the cool kids are calling it nowadays.

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