Monthly Archives: April 2010

NFL: Draft Day 1 Reaction

Regardless of how much you love football or how much you know about football you should be seriously scratching your head after watching the first round. Pick one through six were not surprise. Teams took not only the top players available, with the most potential, but also filled glaring needs. Now here come the Cleveland Browns, and this is where I start slowly losing my mind.
Cleveland Browns: I understand that they need cornerback help, but they need help everywhere. Yes, Joe Haden is arguably the best corner in the draft, but he has a lot of question marks about his ability to stand alone on an island in coverage. Is he athletic enough? I’m not sure; he had a slow 40, but on game tape he looks a little faster. Also let’s remember his job in Florida’s defense was to just read the quarterback’s eyes, not a lot of route-recognition. But let’s think about the QBs in the SEC. That’s right the best one was on his team, and there are serious questions about Tebow’s transition into the NFL. Haden was surrounded by some of the most talented defensive players in all of college football so I’m not sure if his play at Florida really illustrates an individual level of success and I think there were a lot more NFL ready players available on the board at positions they needed.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Wow. Really all I have to say. He is a quick DT, but very weak and played in an under performing Pac-10 this year. There were better players on the board and could have addressed another position where top 10 players were available. Just to list a few: Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Derrick Morgan, Dan Williams, Sean Weatherspoon, and Jared Odrick. Any of those defensive players are more of lock for first round talent.
San Diego: Reached, but needed a running back.
Broncos: Talent is there for Demaryius Thomas, Intagibles are there for Tim Tebow, but neither is going to help for another few years. Dez Bryant was on the board, who is a NFL ready receiver who could help you out right away. Demaryius is a lot of raw talent but it will take awhile to develop. Tebow again, is going to take at least 2 years if not more to develop his motion into an NFL motion. What the organization is saying is they rather ignore defensive needs and pick players for the future. These could be great picks, or they could be two wasted first round picks.
Those are my four questionable teams out of the most exciting first round in recent history. The second round should be exciting with high caliber players like Sergio Kindle, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Charles Brown, Rodger Saffold, Everson Griffen, and Daryl Washington available. You’ll regret missing it.

Baseball: Elon Phoenix vs. High Point Panthers

Be sure to tune into WSOE’s broadcast of the Elon University Phoenix as they host the High Point Panthers tonight at 7:00 PM at Latham Park. The game will be called by Tom Waterman and Robert Wohner. WSOE’s coverage will begin at 6:45 PM, and can be listened to at WSOE 89.3 FM and also online through the “listen live” feature. To read live blog updates from the game click on the link below.

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4th and 15 Mock Draft

We at 4th and 15 are all about keeping track of who’s wrong and who’s right. In keeping with that tradition, we’re gonna keep a record, then we’ll check our mock draft with the actual draft and see how we did.

1) St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
2) Detroit Lions – Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers -Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
4) Washington Redskins – Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
5) Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
6) Seattle Seahawks – C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
7) Cleveland Browns – Earl Thomas , S, Texas
8 ) Oakland Raiders – Taylor Mays, S, USC
9) Buffalo Bills – Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
10) Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
11) Denver Broncos (from Chicago) – Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
12) Miami Dolphins – Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
13) San Francisco 49ers – Joe Haden, CB, Florida
14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) – Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
15) New York Giants – Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
16) Tennessee Titans – Brandon Graham, LB, Michigan
17) San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina) – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
18) Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
19) Atlanta Falcons – Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
20) Houston Texans – Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
21) Cincinnati Bengals – Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
22) New England Patriots – Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
23) Green Bay Packers – Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
24) Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
25) Baltimore Ravens – Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
26) Arizona Cardinals – Charles Brown, OT, USC
27) Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Robinson, CB, South Florida
28) San Diego Chargers – Jahvid Best, RB, California
29) New York Jets – Jerry Hughes, LB, Texas Christian
30) Minnesota Vikings – Nate Allen, S, South Florida
31) Indianapolis Colts – Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
32) New Orleans Saints – Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

And there you have it. We’ll check our results on next week’s show and let you know how we did.

mlb: 2 weeks in

We’re more than two full weeks into the MLB season and there are already some very telling storylines. As a Yankees fan, I have to start there.
At the time of the posting of this article, the Yankees have the best record in baseball at 10-3. Knowing Yankees teams of the past, one would think that this is because they are simply bludgeoning teams in high-scoring affairs. If you’re one of those people, you’d be wrong. True, the Yankees are the third-highest scoring team (the Phillies rank first with 81 runs scored and surprisingly, the Diamondbacks rank second with 77), but they’re really winning games with pitching. The Yanks have allowed the second-fewest runs, trailing only the San Francisco Giants by 2. The Yankees’ top three starters, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte all have ERAs under 2.90 (Pettitte’s is a blistering 1.35 through 3 starts) and they have combined for 45 strikeouts and only 19 walks. Let’s talk about the bullpen, too. Mariano Rivera is as good as ever. Check his line: 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 5 saves. Remember that Joba Chamberlain guy? Setting up for Mo: 7.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 6 H, 3 BB, 10 K. Still think he should be starting? I don’t.
Now about the hitting…Mark Teixeira, the prized first baseman, is having his worst start of a season ever. Through 13 games, he’s batting .125 with 6 RBIs and 12 strikeouts. I don’t care who you are, that’s horrendous. Alex Rodriguez started out cold but has since found his stroke. A lot of other guys have been stepping up for the Yanks though. Curtis “Yankee Doodle Grandy” Granderson (many thanks to Greg Brzozowski for the nickname) hit a home run in his first at bat as a Yankee and has continued producing ever since. He’s currently batting .313 with a pair of doubles, triples and home runs along with 7 RBI and 4 stolen bases. Brett Gardner, who lost his job to Granderson, is batting a cool .303 with 7 stolen bases. He’s not gonna hit for power, but he’s a perfect table-setter batting at the bottom of the Yankees lineup. When Teixeira gets to midseason form, there won’t be any holes in this already stellar Yankees lineup.
So there’s my rant on why the Yankees are so good. But let’s take a look at some other storylines around the league.
The Boston Red Sox are 5-9, 4th in the AL East, and are posting a -18 run differential. Where’s the pitching? None of the starters are posting an ERA below 3.75. What’s worse is how far off the starting pitching is from that number. Jon Lester, the supposed new ace of the staff, is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA and a BB:K ratio of 9:14. John Lackey, the LA Angels’ former #1 starter, is 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA and a BB:K ratio of 7:8. And they’re not getting help from the defense, which was supposed to be better than last year’s version of the Red Sox. Through 14 games, the Sox have committed 10 errors. There are only 6 teams worse. In terms of batting, the Sox knew what they were getting this season: a lack of power. To put it in perspective, there is only 1 player on their current roster who had more than 25 home runs last year: David Ortiz, who had 28. Well, as it turns out, Big Papi is batting a paltry .146 with 0 home runs and 2 RBI and he’s been benched. There’s speculation around the league that he’ll be released come July if he doesn’t turn it around. The two other “big bats” for the Sox have also been sputtering. Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis are both batting .250 or below with 3 combined home runs and 11 combined RBI. Right now, things are looking bleak for the Sox in a very competitive AL East.
Speaking of that competitive AL East, how about the Tampa Bay Rays, off to the best start in team history? They are firing on all cylinders and will likely compete with the Yankees for division dominance all season. Quite honestly, the Rays have to win this year because they will likely lose star outfielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Carlos Pena to free agency this coming offseason. Even this past offseason, there was talk that the Yankees didn’t re-sign Johnny Damon so they could have room on the roster for Carl Crawford either through free agency or a trade if the Rays fell out of contention early. Since the Rays are clearly contenders, looks like the Yanks will have to wait til the offseason to woo Crawford.
Other early season surprises: the Minnesota Twins boasting a 10-4 record with a +26 run differential, the Oakland A’s leading the AL West by 1 game over the Seattle Mariners, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2nd place in the NL Central and a tie for 1st in the NL West between the Giants and, who would’ve guessed, the San Diego Padres.
There you have it, folks. It looks like this season has a lot in store for us.

The NFL Steals The Spotlight

The NBA playoffs are around the corner, the NHL playoffs have just started, Baseball season is underway, and arguably the biggest golf tournament in recent history took place this past weekend, yet in the time of year dead between the end of the NFL season and the start of training camp, they steal the show.  This should be the time where America remembers its great diversity of professional sports but instead plastered all over the sports world is the NFL draft. What I consider to be as (if not more) important as the draft are the trades the happen around the draft.

Now there have been 2 really big trades that will have huge impacts on the draft. T­he one that started the real commotion was on April 4, when the Philadelphia Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins in exchange for the 37th overall pick in this years draft, the Redskins second round pick, and either a 3rd or 4th round pick in the 2011 NFL draft. What this trade does for Washington is take away question marks about what to do with the 4th overall pick this year. There was a lot of talk about if Sam Bradford fell there or takingJimmy Clausen higher than projected, but now it seems pretty clear that Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, in their first year at Washington, will take an offensive tackle. Now the question becomes who? The most NFL ready tackle is clearly Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State University. Okung, a two time First-team All-American, tops the offensive tackle charts of most scouts and general managers; however, Mike Shanahan is famous for running the zone-blocking scheme in Denver and the tremendous success he has had with it.  During hisfourteen-year tenure with the Broncos he had 6 different running backs with over 1000 yard seasons. Now the more athletic top tier tackle is Trent Williams, out of Oklahoma.  Now the zone is so successful because it gets big line men to the second line of defenders and having the speed Williams has certainly would help. I think clearly though it will be Okung, he’s much stronger and more NFL ready with the potential of reaching that Walter Jones or Orlando Pace level. Plus the Redskins need all the offensive line help they can get right away.

Surprisingly the Philadelphia Eagles really aren’t affected, from a draft stand point, with this trade. They have had their quarterback of the future, in Kevin Kolb, for the last few years, as well as one of the most athletic quarterbacks to ever play the game, Michael Vick. Their number one issue, far and away, is cornerback. After trading long time starter Sheldon Brown to the Browns, ironically enough, for linebacker Alex Hall, it became a glaring weakness. This year’s cornerback draft class is going to become prevalent at the end of the first round. Depending on who is avaliable by the Eagles 24th overall pick, I could see them drafting a corner like Kyle Wilson (Boise State) or Kareem Jackson (Alabama).

Now another trade, that I do not think anyone was surprised to see, affects the draft much more. Brandon Marshall was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Miami Dolphins for a second round pick in this year’s and next year’s draft. Now the Broncos and Dolphins pick 11th and 12th respectively in the first round. Now the Broncos have many needs, so getting these extra picks was clutch. Broncos highlighted needs are now wide receiver, inside linebacker, defensive line, and offensive line. A lot of people see the Broncos taking Dez Bryant, the “troubled” wide receiver out of Oklahoma State. Now Brandon Marshall was a headache for the past few years, why would you want a guy who could bring just as many problems? You wouldn’t! There are going to be slightly less hyped, higher character guys available throughout the second round. Guys like Arrelious Benn or Demaryius Thomas, so they will address a bigger more important need. Rolando McClain is the best interior linebacker, by far, in this year’s draft. He’s been coached by, in my opinion, the best coach in college football, Nick Saban. He was the anchor of the defense for the national championship team. He’s talented, has leadership, and wants to win, so I cannot see the Broncos passing on him. They can always address their new wide receiver need with the second round pick that they got in the trade.

Now the Dolphins on the other hand took care of one of their biggest needs. Chad Henne was throwing to… no one. They decided they rather run the wildcat than attempt to pass, so that wide receiver need is taken care of. Now the key to a successful 3-4 defense that Miami runs is a prominent nose-tackle. The best guy for that role, who will be there at 12th pick, is Dan Williams. The 6’ 3”, 327-pound linemen out of Tennessee will be there to occupy blockers. They have a good young secondary and just acquired a top tier linebacker from Arizona, KarlosDansby. In order to allow the linebacking core led by Dansby to do their job, they need a guy like Williams to occupy the offensive line. The Miami Dolphins have a lot of talent, they just need to fill some holes, but nose-tackle is going to be one big, important, hole to fill.

Football fans get ready for the NFC and AFC east to be the two most competitive divisions in all of football. And because of the possible lock out in 2 seasons, everyone is getting geared up to try and win this year instead of building for the future. This could be one of the best seasons we see in a long time.

By Alex Rosenbaum

NBA Sets New Salary Cap for 2010-11 Season

The NBA Offseason just got a lot more exciting. Earlier today at the end of the Board of Governors meeting, Commissioner David Stern made the announcement that the salary cap for the upcoming NBA season would be much higher than it was earlier expected. With talks of a cap ceiling being estimated at only $ 50.4-53.6 million last summer due to economic troubles plaguing the league, team executives, general managers, and fans all around the Associated cheered with joy when Stern announced that the cap would be projected at $ 56.1 million.

While this is a decrease from the 2009-10 season salary cap maximum ($ 57.7 million), it’s not big enough to limit any of the top candidate NBA teams from landing superstar free agents like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rudy Gay, and Carlos Boozer. Many teams now feature the cap space to potentially sign not just one, but even two superstars to max contracts. For instance, if the Knicks do not initially resign All Star forward David Lee (which the won’t, you can add him to this free agent mix), they will have $ 34 million to spend on luring LeBron and another marquee free agent. For a team that’s been cutting salary since before the 2008-09 season for to get ready for July 1, 2010, (when free agency begins… along with absolute and utter madness) this was big news.

Another team this is great for is the Miami Heat. All along, many Heat fans have been upset that the team has yet to compliment their franchise player Wade with another top-notch player since they won the NBA Finals in 2006. The best teammates he has played with since that championship run have been Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal (or as Charles Barkley likes to refer to them, Tito Jacksons). With the way the salary cap plays out, they have a fantastic chance to not only resign Wade, but also add a star to the team to help him out. Many people in basketball are not predicting, but expecting Stoudemire to become a member of the Heat in the next season and add another quality player.

Other teams clearly benefit from this cap space, also. The New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, and Los Angeles Clippers all have enough cap space to go after a top guy in the league. New Jersey now has the second most spending money this offseason behind the Knicks, with $ 26 million to hand out to talent while also adding a top rookie, as they are guaranteed a top four pick in this years draft. The Bulls, on the other hand, already have an All Star in Derrick Rose and a fantastic big man in Joakim Noah with enough money to spend that they wouldn’t have to cut any cap. The Kings feature young talent like Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, and Omri Casspi that is a veteran away from contending for the playoffs. The Clips have great potential in Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin (who WILL come back strong next year from injury and prove he was worthy of being the top pick in ’09) and good veterans with Baron Davis and Chris Kaman, but owner Donald Sterling is a serious disadvantage for the Lakers alternative, just due to the fact that he is not well thought of or respected by people in the league because of antics like discriminating against African American and Hispanic residents in housing apartments that he owned. Washington will try to land a couple of players off the free agent market, but the Gilbert Arenas gun fiasco and a weak roster in place will not help the Wizards chances.

NBA fans have been going insane in excitement for this upcoming offseason and today they only were teased more about the possibility of what could happen in a matter of months. Fans were only assured today that this magical offseason will happen and come July 1st, the free agents and team will be ready to strike. I can’t wait for the bidding to begin.

Greg Brzozowski
WSOE Sports