Sunday, February 27, 2011

NFL Combine Thoughts: QBs, RBs and WRs

I had a chance to watch the QBs, RBs and WRs this weekend. Here are my thoughts on those young men.


Cam Newton- He sucked. If I’m a GM I’d already have him off of my draft board so it wouldn’t have mattered, but Newton was inaccurate all day missing receivers with more regularity than an Activia commercial. He’s a physical freak, but he didn’t look good throwing the ball and made excuses for his shittiness after he was done. EVERYONE had to throw to WRs they don’t have rapport with, Cam. Get over it. He’s a bust waiting to happen.

Ryan Mallett- Mallett looked really good today, but he’s another guy I’d stay away from. He struggles at games biggest moments and his mechanics deteriorate quickly under pressure. His release seems much quicker now than it was the rest of this year, which is good because it was Leftwich slow in games. His drug issues are probably overblown. If it’s just pot I wouldn’t care but if it’s anything heavier I’d stay away. So Mallett made himself money today but he wouldn’t get it from me. If you’re going to take a round 1 QB you have to KNOW they’re going to be good.

Blaine Gabbert- He wins the award for “best NASCAR driver name” in this year’s draft class. Gabbert didn’t throw, the only QB not to do so. He was trying to justify his absence at his presser and said, among other things, “I’m not shying away from competition.” Yes, Blaine, you are.

Jake Locker- 3rd or 4th rounder. I think he should play baseball. If you can’t tell, I’m down on this year’s QB class.

Colin Kaepernick- I really like Kaep Gun but he has serious issues with his delivery that need to be corrected if he wants to be an accurate NFL QB. His stock took a dip today, but if there’s one QB I’d draft, its him…as long as it’s the 5th round or later.


Mark Ingram- This dude is serious. Pre-40yd dash, Ingram was in a rubber sweat suit, rolling something on his thighs to loosen his muscles. He already had a full lather worked up, sweat running down his forehead. He looked focused and intense getting ready TO RUN A FORTY YARD DASH. He’s a monster, and the only RB in this year’s class I see making a significant impact in the NFL. One caveat here is his speed score. For those of you who don’t know, the Speed Score is a formula designed to measure a RB’s 40 time with his Weight. Since force=mass*acceleration, we have to understand that all 40 times are not created equally. It is much more impressive to run a 4.40 at 220lbs than at 195lbs. Typically, RBs with a speed score over 100 are good NFL backs. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s an interesting tool to use. Ingram’s speed score is only 94.


Julio Jones- Jones was great today. Physically impressive and faster than I thought he’d be (he ran a 4.40 40 at 220lbs) Jones may not fall to the Rams at #14 overall like many mock draftniks have thought thus far. The one drill he had trouble with was the Gauntlet, so maybe his hands aren’t great, but neither are Dwayne Bowe’s and that’s exactly who Jones reminds me of.

Jon Baldwin- I really need to sit and watch Baldwin’s tape. Reviews of him never seem to be good, yet he’s always an early 2nd rounder in these mock drafts. What the hell?

AJ Green- Outperformed by Jones today, Green is still the Best wideout in the draft and is very good at every aspect of his position, including route running, which is atypical of someone his age. Usually, players as physically gifted as Green don’t need to work on technical shit, they’re just gifted enough to coast on talent alone. Green doesn’t I like him and wouldn’t mind if the Panthers took him #1.

Jerrel Jernigan- I wrote a full report on Jernigan a while back, envisioning a nasty weapon to deploy in the slot. I even thought he could slip into the back end of round 1 if the right scenario presented itself. Then he ran his 40…..not even close to the 4.35 I thought he’d post. It’s not the end of the world. Davone Bess ran a 4.8 I think, and he’s one of my favorite NFL players. Sadly, Jernigan didn’t do well in the change of direction drills either. I have to re-evaluate him.

Now let’s talk about this graph. I have here a graph on which I spent a shit load of time. It shows the Height (Y Axis) and Body Mass Index (x Axis) of notable WRs from recent years. Notice that most of the successful ones fit into one of four areas of the graph. Calvin Johnson is an outlier, a freak unlike anything Earth has previously seen, so he’s not in a box. Also, Roddy White is smack in the middle of the whole thing and he’s really good, too. Some of this year’s rookies are highlighted in red. Just like the speed score, this isn’t gospel. It’s simply an interesting tool that I’d use to identify busts if I were a GM.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

NFL Scouting Combine Thoughts: Offensive Linemen

I’m spending yet another nerdish afternoon watching large men in tight clothes run around in an empty arena. It’s the NFL scouting combine, and it tells you some things. The Offensive linemen are first.

First, a general thought. Why can’t we give these guys sweatshirts and sweatpants? They’re wearing bike shorts and tight sleeveless shirts. Sure, some of them carry 300+ pounds well, but others look like Larry the Cable Guy’s fat cousin, or a character in a shitty Tyler Perry movie. Also, when did it become mandatory for white linemen to have beards?

Alrighty, let’s talk about some guys. I’m not going to go into everyone, only 1 out of 6 of the participants in the combine will ever make any sort of impact in the league. It’s easy to tell who has it and who doesn’t at these things, and the athletes who belong in the NFL always pop off the screen. Now understand, just because a guy looks good at the Combine doesn’t mean he will be a good NFL player, so it isn’t a surefire way to FIND players, but it is a good way to eliminate players from consideration. If a guy can’t look good doing drills on his own, he sure as hell won’t look good with NFL players harassing him in actual games.

Joseph Barksdale 6’5” 305lbs LSU

I hadn’t given a moment of thought to Barksdale prior to the combine but he looks great in drills, especially the Kick Slide Drill from the Right Tackle side. Everything I’ve read on Barksdale says his main problem is his athleticism, but watching him move in space this morning has quieted those concerns in my mind. Keep an ear out for him on draft day.

Ryan Bartholomew 6’1” 302lbs Syracuse

Syracuse doesn’t send a ton of guys to the NFL but when they do, those players usually make an impact. Bart has worked out at center and I like what I see. The most important attributes I want to see in a Center are 1)Size 2)Strength 3)Intelligence 4)Long Arms 5)Straight Line Speed. Lateral quickness just isn’t as important for centers. Bartholomew hasn’t answered the bell in all other categories.

Marcus Cannon 6’5” 360lbs TCU

Cannon is huge and quick. Not quick enough to stick at tackle in the NFL, but he’ll be a starting guard in the NFL for years to come. The one concern I have are the reports about his football IQ. Apparently he has trouble reading blitz pickups and blocking assignments. I’m not sure if those reads get easier as you move inside (my gut and logic both say no) but with some good coaching he should be fine.

Derek Sherrod 6’5” 321lbs Mississippi State

Sherrod confuses me. Some drills he looks great, some he looks awful. Unfortunately for him, one of the drills he didn’t look so hot in is the one I consider most important for Tackle prospects, the Kick Slide Drill. Looking bad in that drill is a red flag for me with Sherrod’s one excuse possibly being the fact that coaches force prospects to start in a 3 point stance where in most obvious passing situations tackles would start in a 2 point stance. I’ll watch some film on Sherrod to make my opinion more concrete, but I’ve got the bust-o-meter on standby for him.

Gabe Carimi 6’7” 314lbs Wisconsin

Carimi looks great, I’m not worried about him at all and if your favorite team drafts him you should feel good about it. The one concern I have is his height. Leverage is important and Carimi’s center of gravity may be so high that stout, powerful Defensive ends may give him trouble (Elvis Dumervil, Trent Cole, guys like that).

Anthony Castonzo 6’7” 311lbs Boston College

Castonzo looks good, too. I’ve seen him on film and he looks alright most of the time, having trouble against elite rushers (Robert Quinn destroyed him in 2009). He reminds me of D’Brickishaw Ferguson, a lanky, wiry athlete who may need to gain weight and strength. I think he’ll be an average starting Left Tackle in the NFL, with most of his value coming from his pass blocking skills.

Rodney Hudson 6’2” 300lbs Florida State

Hudson, a guard, jumped off the screen today, another guy I knew nothing about when I went to bed last night. Obviously I’ll try to find some Seminole game film before I say this definitively, but I think Hudson can help a team inside right now. In the Down-block Twist drill, Hudson delivered the most violent strike of the pad that I saw all day. He’s a fine athlete and I’d hate to be in his way on screen and sweeps. I’d LOVE for my Panthers to grab him in round 3.

Ben Ijalana 6’4” 317lbs Villanova

I’m not sure if I missed him or if Ijalana didn’t work out but I didn’t see him at all. I’ll look into and update this if I need to , but I wrote a full on report on Ijalana in the fall, and you should read it.

Mike Pouncey 6’5” 303lbs Florida

If you follow any of this stuff you already know Pouncey is a sure thing and the best interior lineman in this draft class. I don’t think he’s better than his brother, who came out last year, but he’s going to be good. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes in the first round. He’s one of the top 15 players in the draft, but teams generally don’t like to use picks that high on Guards or Centers.

Will Rackley 6’3” 309lbs Lehigh

Rackley looked very good today, especially in the Mirror Drill where he showed high intelligence as he focused on moving with his opponent’s chest, not head. He looked calm and smooth for that drill. I want to see what his 10 yard split was in the 40yd dash. One of the concerns I had for Rackley watching his film was his ability to explode off the snap. A good 10 yard split would quell my concerns a bit.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rows of Teeth: Remaking a Classic

Let me start off by saying that I would not be in favor of a Jaws remake. The original is one of my favorite movies ever and is just one of those things I find sacred and untouchable. If you haven’t seen it, you’re an asshole. If you have a reason for not seeing it, like you don’t like scary movies, you’re a pussy asshole. See it, it’s just a movie, and when it’s over you’ll get up off the couch and be alive and in one piece just as you were before you saw the movie, because you’re on land and sharks can’t walk on land….as far as we know.

Just because I don’t think it should be re-made doesn’t mean it won’t be. When you think about it, it’s a prime candidate to be worked over again. The star of the movie (the shark) doesn’t do it for audiences anymore. It looks silly. Today’s technology can help fix that. Also, many of the communication issues the guys face out on the boat would probably be solved by cell phones, so a redone script could help the movie stand the test of time. Also, Hollywood loves to dusk off artifacts, even when those artifacts are pieces of shit and try to recycle them to make a quick buck without burning any real creative calories (I’m looking at you, Sid and Marty Krofft). A new Jaws would make a ton of money, even if it sucks. Guess which half of that previous statement the suits at Universal are more concerned with?

Let’s say I’m asked to make some decisions about the new movie, because, by the time they decide to remake it I’ll be wildly famous and influential (so 2013 at the latest). Here are the things I’d implement and the actors I’d cast for the roles:

Clause #1: The shark in the new movie cannot be shown more than the shark in the old movie.

Much of the fear created in the first movie comes from fear of the unknown. We don’t see the shark for most of the movie, we just learn to associate John Williams’ understated score with the shark’s presence. That association is betrayed later in the movie, which freaks viewers out even more because now we don’t know when the hell the shark is around. This occurred out of necessity, since Spielberg’s animatronic shark was always malfunctioning due to the saltwater, it couldn’t be relied upon for filming. Let’s keep it that way. Shark appearances kept to a minimum.

Clause #2: Matt Hooper has an affair with Mrs. Ellen Brody

Staying true to Peter Benchley’s original novel, in my movie Chief Brody’s busy schedule pulls him away from his wife and family, leaving Ellen lonely and feeling unwanted. She searches for someone to desire her and runs into the Hooper. Hooper is some things Chief Brody is not, super good looking and rich. The trist is short lived as they mutually decide to end things when Ellen realizes her mistake and Hooper doesn’t want to destroy his budding friendship with Martin, or his new friend’s marriage. So the audience likes Hooper, just not as much as we do in the first movie. Richard Dreyfuss is super likeable in the original and I’m not even going to try to duplicate that.

Clause #3: Since Hooper is no longer the smile inducing drug that he was in the first movie, we replace that by expanding the role of Deputy Hendricks. (more on this later)

Clause #4: The movie has to be set in the 1970s

This is important for two reasons. First, Cell Phones would solve a lot of the problems that occur in the first movie so we can’t have that. Some complicated writing could be done to work around it but it’s much easier to set the film in the pre- cell late 70s instead. The second problem this solves is Quint’s age. If the movie were to be set today then Quint would have to be about 75 years old, since he’d have been around 20 during the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. That experience is far too important to Quint’s character to work around, so we won’t. Of course, this means we need to beat viewers over the head with signals of the decade and maybe even create a reason that these events don’t become widely publicized.

The Cast:

Chief Martin Brody (Don Cheadle)

It makes sense. Cheadle has already done a great job playing “Leader of the Victims” in Hotel Rwanda, for which he was Oscar Nominated, so we know he can play the character. I also like the dynamic of a black police chief in a 1970s New England town. Remember, Brody comes to tiny Amity from New York to be the police chief. He is seen as an outsider by the locals, who don’t really trust him, and is terrified of the water. Why not add deep seated racial tension to his list of problems? I also like Cheadle because he is likeable enough to make the audience care about his safety and livelihood, but not so famous that he undermines your suspension of disbelief (like Will Smith, whom I also considered, would have).

Ellen Brody (Vanessa Williams)

A picture of Stacey Dash because...why not

Williams’ acting is fine. She was Emmy nominated this past year. She and Cheadle are close in age (1 year apart) and she’s hot. I like the idea that she is way hotter than Chief Brody but married him for the right reasons. She could have had any guy she wanted but chose Martin because of his character and personality. This makes her affair with Hooper viable, because she is getting a taste of all the things she passed up on to be with Martin. The other two finalists for this role were Stacey Dash (who I haven’t seen in anything since Clueless {that Kanye video doesn’t count} and I’m not confident enough to pick her based solely on that) and Julianne Moore who has already played a sympathetic adulterer (Kids Are Alright) and I buy her in an interracial relationship. Plus, she could act the shit out of Ellen Brody. So Moore is the best actor in the bunch, Dash fits best as the head cheerleader, prom queen beauty (go look at her Playboy spread) and Williams is somewhere in between.

Mayor Vaughn (Stanley Tucci)

In the first movie Mayor Vaughn is ignorant and misguided, not realizing how serious the shark problem really is. In my movie, Mayor Vaughn is more malicious. He is well aware of how dangerous this shark is but cares far more for the lucrative summer dollars the July 4th weekend brings. He want the citizens of Amity to be aware of the danger and avoid the water, but cares not about the tourists looking to spend the weekend at the beach. In the original the viewers are simply frustrated with the mayor, in this version they grow to loathe him. Tucci’s a fine actor with terrific range. He’d get the job done. (also considered: Oliver Platt, who did a fine job playing a power hungy, money loving shit in The Bronx is Burning)

Deputy Hendricks (Seth Rogen)

We don’t see a lot of Hendricks in the original aside from the first half hour where he is assigned random tasks. Hendricks in an islander, one the citizens of Amity have known since he was young, and it’s apparent he has people’s attention and respect solely because of this even though he is totally incompetent. In my film, as I mentioned before, this role will be expanded. I want Hendricks to be a lovable goof, one that likely got to the police deputy job thanks to some form of nepotism. He’s the kind of cop (remember, he and Chief Brody are the only 2 police in town since Amity is so small) that won’t bust the local teens for smoking pot and simply “confiscate it” on his own. Super laid back, he is the foil to the very uptight Chief Brody. Maybe he doesn’t even get realize how serious the whole shark thing is until it he sees it for himself when it gets into the estuary halfway through the movie. He provides the comic relief that Hooper provided in the first film. Hendricks matures as the movie goes on thanks to Chief Brody’s tutelage and the weight of their predicament while he helps Brody to chill out, not be such a douche and reconnect with his wife. The seminal bonding moment occurs when Brody and Hendricks share a joint after cutting open the wrongfully accused Tiger Shark in their search for Alex Kintner. Seth Rogen’s weight loss has him looking younger which is good for this role (he’s only 26 or something in real life but looks at least 30) and I’m pretty sure he won’t have to do a ton of character research to play a stoner, though I bet he’ll do the research anyway.

Matt Hooper (Robert Downey Jr.)

The movie lacks true star power to this point and here is where it gets a little more kick. Hooper needs to be a handsome trust fund baby who has taken full advantage of his family’s wealth and gotten hiself edgeumacated. He’s super smart and he knows it. He’s very handsome and he knows it. He’s rarely wrong has all the material things a person could ask for. However, he’s a super workaholic and has never allowed himself to enjoy his success. He’s addicted to some high end drug, like ecstasy which allows him to feel some chemically induced sense of intimacy with others, intimacy he could never legitimately create on his own because he’s too busy. He and Brody have the same problem with being over worked which is where their bond begins. The difference is Brody has to work as hard as he does to take care of his family, while Hooper has to work as hard as he does because of some deep seated emotional issues. Maybe his parents were very hard on him. Maybe some girl he loved didn’t think he’d amount to anything and he’s spent his life trying to prove her wrong. It could be anything, but he’s not quite right. Downey is a good actor and I’m sure he’d be good. I also considered James Franco and Sam Rockwell.

Quint (Gary Oldman)

Quint seeks a life of vengeance after the incident he endures on the USS Indianapolis, which is a true historical occurrence. The trauma warps his mind. I wouldn’t want to change his character at all. Gary Oldman may not have the physicality to make Quint as intimidating as Robert Shaw did in the original so I’d ask him to put on some weight, but he certainly has the acting pedigree to pull it off. I have nothing else to say about this part.

Alex Kintner (Justin Bieber)

Kintner is the shark's second known victim.  He begs his mom to stay in the water for a while longer and the decision turns out to be fatal.  Now would I really cast Bieber for the role? No. His presence would make the death less believeable and campy.  It'd just be fun to watch the reactions of his fan base while he is torn to bits.  I'd cast a random unknown kid.

Okay, I’ve clearly spent way too much time think about this hypothetical film, which will never get made. I encourage comments and suggestions from readers, so I don't feel like a total loser who wasted a couple hours on this post.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brown Noise: A Grass Roots Movement for Logic in Right

Let’s not over think this, people. Heading into Spring Training your beloved Phillies are one of the favorites to win the World Series, they have baseball’s best rotation, the best 2nd baseman on the planet, one of the best defensive shortstops on the planet, and players with at least one elite skill all the way down the lineup (Chooch: Plate Discipline, Howard: Power, Polanco: Contact and Defense, Victorino: Arm and Speed, Ibanez: Baldness). Despite raw talent as good as anyone in the league, ongoing discourse as to who the starting right fielder should be rages on. It’s not that hard.

No matter what happens in Spring Training, Domonic Brown should be your starting Right Fielder on Opening Day. And not in some bullshit platoon, either. I want to be confident in Ruben Amaro Jr., who has done well to regain my trust of late, but when rumors surface that Phillies decision makers are seriously considering a Ben Francisco/John Mayberry/Ross Gload timeshare in right, I want to vomit.

Is Brown a finished product? That depends what you mean by finished product. If to you finished product means, “He is as good now as he’ll ever be and can’t get any better” then no, he’s not a finished product, he still has plenty of room to improve. If you think finished product means. “He has nothing left to learn from minor league pitching” then yes, he’s golden brown on top.

Brownie demolished pitching at AA and AAA last year and is not going to learn how to hit major league quality changeups and sliders in the minors. Any time Brown spends with the Iron Pigs this year is a colossal waste of time, like a talented surgeon spending another year doing nothing but tonsillectomies.

If you’re worried about the pedestrian numbers Brown posted in limited Major League at-bats last year, take a deep breath and listen to reason. He wasn’t getting regular at-bats, his trips to the plate were sporadic. He never had a chance to get into rhythm. I think he should’ve been playing left field every day, instead of Ibanez’s corpse, but we’re past that. In addition, the sample size of plate appearances is far too small to draw any conclusions from.

I don’t expect Brown to set the world afire right away. There will be growing pains. But he is so physically talented that even while he’s learning on the fly (his defensive reads need work as do his throwing mechanics) he’ll be better than Gload or Francisco or Mayberry.

I’d rather have Dom go through his adjustment period in April and be good from May on than come up in June, have the same adjustment period a few months later and only be good from July on. The sooner he comes up, the sooner he becomes an All Star, and he will be an All Star one day.

So whenever this issue comes up around your water cooler or bar stool, I want you all to be total dicks and monopolize the conversation, beating the uninformed idiots over the head with Bunyanesque stories of Domonic Brown’s talents until the world agrees with us. Exhalt from your pinstriped towers about smart player development.  Rise and be worthy of this historical hour.  It is for the greater good. Aces and Catchers report this weekend, bitches.

Friday, February 4, 2011

NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Will Rackley

Will Rackley

Position: Guard/Tackle

School: Lehigh

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 310lbs

Before you read this scouting report you have to know, I’m really rooting for Will Rackley. I want him to be a good NFL player. I’ve always had irrationally high hopes for small school guys (Jahri Evans, Jacoby Jones, Lawrence Sidbury, etc.) and Rackley is also a local guy so I’m doubly stoked on him. I like local, small school guys so much that when Corey Huerta declares for the NBA draft after his senior season I’ll probably write a full page scouting report detailing why he should be a lottery pick. I’m a sucker for underdogs. That said, I’ll do my best to stay as objective as possible here.

Run Blocking: Rackley is not particularly fast off of the ball but he’s not too slow either. He is strong and plays with good leverage, rarely getting pushed back by opposing linemen. He places his hands well and is swift in hunting down second level defenders that are straight ahead of him. The general consensus with Rackley is that he’ll move to guard in the pros so we’ll have to wait until he does some combine drills where he’s moving in space to get a full gauge on his athleticism when it comes to things like pulling and kicking out. Another problem with judging run blocking for Rackley is sample size. Other than seeing him in person once, the only film I have on him is the East West Shrine game. He played most of the second half and the East only ran the ball a few times, and some of those were draw plays. In the small sample I saw he looks good but ideally I’d like to see more.

Pass Blocking: Stands straight up coming off the ball instead of exploding at a 45 degree angle into his kick slide. This is the primary reason he has no chance at sticking at tackle in the pros. It takes him too long before he gets a-kickin’ and even once he does he is too slow to stay in front of anyone. You can see it in the video below. In the NFL, on obvious passing downs, Rackley will be able to start plays in a two point stance, already in the upright position he loses time getting into post-snap. But his feet are still too slow to play on the outside.

Other Stuff: Rackley isn’t slapped together like Michael Oher or Joe Thomas. Don’t get me wrong he’s got the physical presence to play on Sundays, and he’ll likely improve upon his physique once he has access to an NFL weight room, but right now he’s got room to improve. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lack of elite competition Rackley has faced, so growing pains are inevitable at first.

My Prediction: Rackley will be a late round pick in the 5th-7th rounds, a raw prospect with potential to be an above average starter at guard one day. I think he’ll spend the prime of his career as a decent starter (think Deuce Lutui) and the time before and after that as a primary backup interior lineman. It’d be cool to see him work at center eventually, versatility is always nice. I also think there’s more than a 1 in 32 chance the Eagles take him which increases his potential thanks to the excellent coaching he’ll receive from Howard Mudd (and I’m sure Juan Castillo will still feel free to give suggestions). No matter what, I’m rooting for Will Rackley.