Draft Day, bitches. And to think I considered myself a big Draft dork up until the days of Twitter. Now I see what REAL Draft dorks look like. So I'll have to settle on being a Selection Sunday dork (my living room is STILL scattered with brackets). And 90's wrestling dork (the character of Mankind has aged gracefully).
The 2012 NFL Draft has been strange for me. I've heard upwards of 10 names thrown the Chiefs way in mock drafts, but don't have a strong opinion toward any of them really. With no interest in being held personally accountable, I choose to blame Scott Pioli. Nothing feels like a need for this team. It's a selection of luxury. Do you want to make this group stronger, or do you want more confidence in a specific sub-package? Lets hope the Chiefs scouts are earning their cheddar, because the Chiefs are in position to take whatever player they like the most tonight across a wide spectrum of positions.
Lets take a look at who the Chiefs are most likely to target with the 11th pick in tonight's Draft:
~David DeCastro, OG, Stanford - Alright, I'm digging the double capitals in the last name. DeCastro would make the offensive line an immediate strength for this team. All five starters would be young (27, 22, 22, 23, and 28 to be exact), and the chance to grow together could make them potentially dominant in the not so distant future. DeCastro is considered the safest choice in this NFL Draft (rumors are he's so good that Andrew Luck might slip to round 3). Why not him? Because you can hide a mediocre offensive guard. Because Ryan Lilja's play should improve with the switch to a zone blocking scheme (what they ran in Indy). Because he might have a little Ryan Sims in him (playing alongside another potential first round pick in OT Jonathan Martin).
~Mark Barron, S, Alabama - This dude's all the rage right now. In fact, Kansas City's pick might center around Barron, who is skyrocketing up boards as we speak. Completely off the radar a week ago, Barron is now being projected as the Chiefs pick from multiple people (Todd McShay). This is eerily similar to what happened in 2009 with Tyson Jackson and the Chiefs. However, it is just as likely that this is a front put out by KC, who most people speculate are looking to trade down. How would Barron fit? He'd basically play Jon McGraw's spot in the nickel package that warms Romeo's heart so. It is a sub-package, but the Chiefs are in nickel on roughly 50% of defensive snaps. Why not him? Because there doesn't seem to be much upside in the future. While providing depth and insurance for Eric Berry, he would have to steal a job from Kendrick Lewis to play full time. While he might be great in the short term, I question the long term solution of selecting Barron.
~Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College / Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama - Potential replacements for the overachieving Jovan Belcher, who I like. Kuechly is more of the All-American who will try hard and do it all (a rich man's Jovan Belcher). Hightower is the hard ass that'll rough you up, boy (he also gives my buddy Ryan boners at night). Belcher's ceiling is low due to his physical limitations, so this would be an upgrade with either player. Playing alongside DJ (who excels in space), this spot needs to be stout against the run. However, playing alongside Tamba and Houston (who provide nothing in coverage), this spot needs to excel in coverage as well. There's no question the defense needs to improves it's pass coverage over the middle, repeatedly getting burned by Tight Ends the last few seasons. Why not them? I like the idea of keeping an underdog on defense like Belcher. Gives the team heart. Kuechly might be gone by pick #11 and Hightower just might slide into Round 2 (if Ryan was a good boy this year).
~Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M - Alright, now we're talking! Look, I think Tannehill will be just as bad as everybody else, but I can't deny that I would be awfully excited if the Chiefs show any signs of moving on from Matt Cassel. I really don't think this is a possibility, but it would be ballsy. And entertaining. Those aren't exactly the priorities of Pioli's Chiefs though. Why not him? Have you seen him play? Texas A&M went 6-6 with loads of talent around him. He played bad against every good defense he faced. Why are we even talking about this guy? What has he done to earn first round status? To be fair, he reminds me of Jay Cutler, who I was confident would bust in your face, and I guess he's awight.
~Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis - The biggest need for this team is the Nose Tackle position. Poe measures up to what you would want at NT, but I don't know of a single person who isn't terrified to draft this dude, who produced next to nothing at a small school. Why not him? On the NCAA Football 2012 game, Poe was rated a 67. NEXT!
~Throng of D-Linemen, DE, Trench So Hard University - Let me break down the idea of selecting a defensive end, followed by a thought or two on each of the potential players. Neither Glenn Dorsey or Tyson Jackson will return to the Chiefs in 2013 under their current contract. Dorsey is set to be a free agent and his return is questionable because he seems to fit a 4-3 defense better than a 3-4. Jackson is set to make 14.7 million in 2013 (which can be seen here, a beautiful site for any Chiefs fan, bookmark this shit), a number the Chiefs won't carry (either restructured or released). Couple that with the loss of my boy, Wallace Gilberry, this offseason (if a 4-3 team used him right, he could put up double digit sacks, I promise you) and the Chiefs are damn near anorexic along the defensive front. Not to mention the fact the Chiefs pass rush fell on hard times once again last season (30th in the NFL in sacks). That number isn't Hali and Houston's fault, who combined for 17.5, and should be a force to be reckoned beginning immediately. But the interior pass rush is non-existent. While Jackson and Dorsey are stout against the run, they bring nothing to the table as far as pass rush. Hopefully, Allen Bailey is able to develop, but providing more help along the line might be the team's top priority this weekend. Why not DL? No chance he'll start in 2012, barring injury. The talent pool is relatively deep (expect a DL in round 2 if not round 1). Here's a look at some potential first round DL...
~Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State - The highest rated player probably won't last until #11. If he does, I expect him to be the pick.
~Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - Nick Wright brought him into the picture on yesterday's show. I hear he doesn't fit our scheme, but as soon as the words "5-tech" enter the conversation, I become as disinterested as Lamar Odom.
~Michael Brockers, DE, LSU - Heard almost nothing about him, because I think people are that afraid of selecting yet another LSU D-lineman. Can't blame them. He's huge though, but doesn't seem to generate a pass rush.
~Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama - Presumably too small to play in the 3-4, but he compares favorably to Gilberry. He would provide pass rush help, racking up 9.5 sacks last season. More of a trade down in the first round kinda guy.
~Jerel Worthy, DE, Michigan St - Prototypical size for a 3-4 DE. 3.5 sacks last season. More of a second round possibility.
~Devon Still, DE, Penn St - This is a dude I like a lot. He terrorized Nebraska last season, blowing up play after play in the backfield. Totaled 4.5 sacks last season, as well as an outstanding 17 tackles for loss. Got a feeling about him. This is officially my boy.
Final prediction: I'll say the Chiefs look as hard as they can to trade back, but ultimately don't find any partners. They want to address defensive line the most, but without proper value at the #11 spot, they end up selecting Stanford G David DeCastro. Expect defensive line in the second round.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
1. Play two halves of basketball
This hasn't been KU's style throughout the NCAA Tournament. For whatever reason, the Jayhawks have played poorly both offensively and defensively in the first half of 4 of their 5 games. Fortunately, KU has responded in the second half of every game (with a slight blip against NC State as the lone exception). KU opponents have shot 49.1% in the first half. In the second half, it plummets to 24.2%. That is astounding. The credit must go to Bill Self, who in my books is the best coach in the country right now (and I'm not talking just College Basketball, I mean in any sport).
Here's the problem - This won't fly against Kentucky. They're too good. Do I think they're unbeatable like most people around the country probably do? Not at all. However, they will be a notch or two better than any team KU has faced all season long (because they're a notch or two better than every other team in the country). But this is basketball. And this is one game. This upset wouldn't ever register on the same Richter Scale as Villanova over Georgetown in 1985. But for that to happen, KU cannot get behind by double digits. Not this game. KU must come out with the same intensity they showed in the second half against Ohio State. You will be able to tell by loose balls. KU got every single loose ball in the second half (Releford was personally responsible for 90% of them) against the Buckeyes, and almost none in the first half.
2. Tyshawn Taylor hit a 3-pointer
I can't believe how much has gone wrong for KU in this NCAA Tournament, only for them to be playing in the final game tonight. They've come out ice cold in every game (but one), Teahan can't hit a shot, Robinson has repeatedly missed bunnies, Kevin Young just trying to get a shot off, and Tyshawn Taylor shooting 0-20 from 3-point range.
Now I wouldn't say Taylor has played poorly in the Tournament. In fact, outside of his poor shooting from downtown, he has played well. He is shooting 24-43 inside the 3-point arc. More importantly than that, he hasn't lost his confidence at all (in fact, I'm not sure anything could ever happen in Tyshawn's life that would cause him to lose ALL that confidence). Can you imagine how the kid will play if he sees a 3-pointer go down? Surely, he is due right? KU doesn't win if Tyshawn doesn't end his streak tonight.
3. Keep the game close
Now this sounds a tad obvious, but hear me out. A close game is an ENORMOUS advantage for Kansas. The Jayhawks have played in as many close games this NCAA Tournament as Kentucky has all season long. KU is more equipped to handle the pressure of a late close game than Kentucky.
Ah yes, the pressure. It is ALL on Kentucky. John Calipari has yet to win a National Championship. Calipari's best shot was thwarted by Bill Self. It was Calipari's team that missed those free throws (if this same situation arises tonight, and it's not on their mind, I'll assume they're on the same wavelength of a Buddhist monk). Kentucky is supposed to win. Kentucky's season would be a disappointment with a loss. Both teams' players are aware of these facts. Close game with 5 minutes left? I'm taking the Jayhawks.
4. Jeff Withey must remain in 12-armed flying Orangutan mode
Without question, Jeff Withey was the star of Saturday night's victory over thee Ohio State. He completely manhandled Jared Sullinger ("Withey mad" = best sign of KU's season), who couldn't decide whether to take his beatdown like a man, or whine to the refs like a bitch. But it wasn't just his straight up defense on Sullinger, it was his overall protection of the rim, no matter what direction it was coming from.
Now, Anthony Davis is a good 3-4 inches taller than Sully. I believe he'll be able to get his shot off over Withey, which should be the matchup most of the game. This means Withey will have to make his impact in help defense. He must eliminate any and all dribble penetration to the basket (exactly what he did to Aaron Craft on Saturday night). Defense is this team's biggest strength. Withey is this team's best defender. WE MUST PROTECT THIS RIM!
5. Thomas Robinson must decidedly outplay Anthony Davis
You could see the moment when T-Robb decided to take over on Saturday night. I don't remember what caused it, but you could see the rage taking over the man. He got pissed off. You WOULD like him when he's angry. Robinson definitely lets the little things get to him. You grab his arm, shoot him a look, or talk about the Morris's mama and it's game on. However, unlike a majority of athletes, Robinson plays his best when he's enraged. You can see the focus. He gets hungry to dominate. It eliminates his biggest weakness (laziness). Suddenly he is everywhere, doing everything. If we see 40 minutes of this tonight, KU will win easily. The problem with that logic is that I don't think it's humanly possible to do so outside of illegal substance abuse. Anybody know a guy?
Davis is incredibly under-utilized on Kentucky's offensive end. Throughout the year, I've seen Davis score on putbacks, alley-oops, and occasionally an outside jump shot or two. And then on Saturday night, I witnessed actual post moves in his game for the first time (to be fair, I haven't watched much CBB outside of KU this year). He scored on a jump hook. He hit 7 of his 8 shots (here's a weird stat: Nobody on Kentucky took more than 9 shots in their victory over Louisville). The kid is extremely unselfish. Almost to the point where I think it might hurt Kentucky. One thing that gives me confidence going into tonight's game is that I know Robinson will be ready and able to take over the game if necessary. I cannot say the same about Davis.
Now I'm gonna finish this article like Elijah Johnson at the rim (E.T. Every Time)...
Two teams. Ten starters. Nineteen eyebrows. One Championship. (via @the_natedogg on Twitter)