Sunday, April 28, 2013

Did The Jaguars Draft The Next MJD?

 The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the fifth round of the NFL Draft this past weekend.  A lot of people, myself included, were wondering if Robinson would even have his name called this year.  He was a phenomenal athlete who put up amazing numbers during his four years in Ann Arbor.  His ability to play quarterback (or even wide receiver) in the NFL was questioned though because of his lack of size and issues catching the ball (he played in the Senior Bowl and went to the NFL combine as a wide receiver).

The Jaguars though decided to draft Robinson and will have him play running back with them.  The Jaguars, who already have a smaller running back playing for them in Maurice Jones Drew, are the perfect team for Robinson in my mind.  Jacksonville is not a big market team, so the pressure to perform there will be minimal.  The Jaguars are not close to being a playoff team, so Robinson should get a chance to show what he can do on the field. 

Another reason why Jacksonville is the perfect place for Robinson is because their current starting running back, Maurice Jones Drew, is in the final year of his contract and will most likely not be back in Jacksonville past this upcoming season.  With that in mind, the Jaguars drafted someone very similar to Jones Drew and will groom him to take his place.  Heck, they could probably wear a similar size jersey.  Denard Robinson stands 6'0 tall and weighs 197 lbs.  Jones Drew is 5'7 and weighs 207 lbs.

To prove how similar Robinson and Jones Drew were coming out of college, take a look at these two scouting reports and try to choose which one belongs to whom...

Thrilling player who can break just about any play. Very elusive and can lurk behind blockers and explode into the open field. Lack of power and pass-catching ability like will mark him as a third-down who can contribute in the return game.

Quick with all the agility in the world...absolutely dynamic. His playmaking ability is all about agility and quickness. He has the moves to make people miss; the spin, the juke, the studder you name it he’s got the move. What’s important to realize is that teams will be interested in him for what he can do in terms of yards-after-catch. He has that break-away and elusive ability to turn a quick 5-yard run into a 60 yard gain. He’s the type of player where you have to know where he is at all times on the field because he is capable of anything…literally. To have a weapon like him in your bag of tricks is priceless to an imaginative offensive coordinator.

The Jaguars are hoping that the similarities pour over onto the football field this fall.  If they do, then they may have gotten the steal of this years NFL Draft. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lions Fans Are Not Quite Ready To "Get Ziggy With It"

The 1st Round of the 2013 NFL Draft is now in the books. 32 newly crowned millionaires and their families most likely woke up this morning still smiling from the events of the night before.

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but in my neck of the woods, all I heard this morning as I drove into work is how the Lions made another boneheaded draft selection when they chose Ziggy Ansah from BYU.

Sure, Ansah is not the big name pick that most NFL fans are hoping for each year. Before last night, I’m sure that many Lions fans had never even heard of Ansah. Those same fans call into their local sports talk radio shows and complain aloud about how the Lions don’t know what they are doing. They all claim that the Lions should have taken “insert random 1st round draft pick by another team here” instead of Ziggy Ansah.

I’m all for fans’ voicing their opinion, but it really infuriates me when they spout off without doing any sort of research to back their opinion. It just makes them look plain silly. These are the same people who say “we” when talking about the Detroit Lions when they win and “they” when the Lions lose. They compete in their annual Fantasy Football drafts and think that makes them experts in evaluating players.

Making picks in the NFL Draft isn’t an easy thing to do. It isn’t just Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz sitting in a room throwing darts at a board to determine which players to draft. There is an entire room full of people (scouts, assistant coaches, player personnel staff, etc.) discussing each possible move the Lions can make. There are also many factors that need to be considered before investing millions of dollars into a person. What position does he play, who is already at that position on the current roster, how many contracts are expiring on the current team, how did the draftee look in his workouts, how did he do in his pre-draft interviews, what other people (former coaches, teammates, etc.) had to say about him and his work ethic, what the team doctors found out when they examined him, and what trade offers the other teams are offering are all important factors that go into making the decision to draft a person.

Will the Lions regret drafting Ziggy Ansah a year from now? Perhaps…but what if he finishes the season with 9.5 sacks and makes the Pro Bowl as a rookie? Then those same people that were calling into sports talk radio stations today complaining about the pick will be applauding Ansah and wearing his jersey.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Valverde or Bust...

Webster’s Dictionary defines risk as “someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard”. Jose Valverde pitched his first game of the year for the Detroit Tigers last night.

What do these two sentences have in common? Jose Valverde…

After a solid season in 2012 where he saved 35 games for the Tigers, Valverde lost his closer role in the postseason. He blew saves in critical games against both the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. The team lost trust in him and, more importantly, Valverde lost faith in himself.

After the Tigers were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants, Valverde became a free agent. He went unsigned in the off season. No other team was even rumored to have a serious interest in the former closer. It seemed as if his time as a Major League pitcher was over.

Fortunately for him, the Tigers were unable to acquire a solid pitcher in the off season to become their new closer. They appointed rookie Bruce Rondon as the new closer in Spring Training, but he struggled and was optioned to the minor leagues to begin the season. Manager Jim Leyland then announced that the Tigers would begin the season with the “closer by committee” approach, which never really works because the manager is always second guessed in those situations. He can use one person to close a game and, if it doesn’t work out, then the media and fans will question why he didn’t use a different pitcher.

The Tigers quickly learned that it wasn’t going to work out and made the risky move to re-sign Jose Valverde. He was assigned to pitch with the Lakeland Tigers (Class A level). After 3 appearances, the Tigers recalled him from the minors and Jim Leyland announced that Valverde would be the team’s closer. His first game back with the Tigers was last night against the Kansas City Royals and he retired the side in order in the 9th inning to earn the save.

Former President Jimmy Carter once said “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is”. The Tigers definitely went out on a limb by re-signing Valverde. That limb could break and make the Tigers fall short of their post season goals. On the other hand, if Valverde pitches like he did in 2011 and the 2012 regular season, it could be the move that makes them World Series Champions.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Calm Before The Storm...

The economy may be down for many people, but tomorrow night in New York City there will be 32 former college football players will become millionaires.

The 2013 NFL Draft will be taking place tomorrow night. This is a great time of year for football fans across the country. There is a feeling of excitement in the air as people gather around to discuss which players their team should pick and why. Everyone feels hopeful as they learn which players they will be seeing on the field come this fall.

The Detroit Lions are slated to be choosing 5th this year and have a lot of different options in front of them. They have many holes to fill on their roster and can use the pick to draft somebody to fill that spot. They could also trade that pick for other draft picks and move down in the first round. Or they could do the opposite and make a trade and move up in the draft.

Since this year’s draft doesn’t have a legitimate #1 pick, I would write off the Lions trading up. Teams typically don’t trade up unless they have a glaring need AND there is a superstar athlete available in the draft that will make an immediate impact. Trading out of the #5 spot is certainly an option, provided they can find a willing partner who is able to put together an attractive package.

Quite honestly, I feel that the best option for the Lions is to stay put at pick #5. They have a glaring need on their offensive line and there are 3 top prospects that are available. At least one of them should be available when the Lions draft. They could draft any of them and, barring injury, pencil them in as a starter for the next 10 years.

Of course, these are the Lions…they could end up drafting a wide receiver!