Thursday, December 30, 2010

NFC Pro Bowl All-Snub Team

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Rodgers' stats were on-par with Matt Ryan's, and considering that Rodgers didn't have a run game all year, that's incredible. Oh yeah, and he also had over 325 yards rushing and 4 rushing touchdowns. Brees threw over 20 picks this year, he shouldn't have been invited at all.

Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
He's going to end the year with over 1100 rushing yards and over 600 receiving yards. He also leads his team in receptions, he's averaging over 5 yards per carry and he'll probably end the season somewhere around 10 total touchdowns. I hate that I'm saying this, but Steven Jackson doesn't deserve it this year and he's getting in off of reputation. I'm not mad at him getting in, though, as he's been the only guy on that team for so long. Hell, he's ran for over 1200 yards with no O-line in past years. But this year, McCoy earned it and should have gotten in.

Fullback: John Kuhn: Green Bay
Ovie is a well-known run blocker, and a great one at that. I'm not mad with his selection at all, but I feel Kuhn deserved it more this year. Everyone knows that the Packers running attack was terrible, so that left Aaron Rodgers having to pick up ALL of the yards. So, whenever they have a 3rd and 1 or a 4th and inches, who are they turning to? Brandon Jackson?? No, they turn to John Kuhn. The 6'1, 250-pound sledgehammer. Every time I'd watch the Packers I loved watching him run in short yardage situations. It was so exciting, because either he salvages the drive, or the defense dodges a bullet. Either way, whichever team won the battle earned it. Every time he takes the field, it's in a crunch-time situation. That, or he's running over some poor linebacker.

Wide Receiver: Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Desean Jackson is a big play threat, I get it. Most dangerous player of his kind? Hell yes. Better than Hakeem Nicks? NO! They have the same yardage, Hakeem Nicks has 11 TDs as opposed to Desean's 6, and Nicks has 79 receptions as opposed to Desean's 47! In one less game played no less! Jackson may have games where he goes off for 150 and 2 TDs, but he also has games where he completely dissapears. Nicks is a complete wideout who is also a pretty good deep threat.

Tight End: Vernon Davis, San Francisco
Let's not mince any words here: Tony Gonzalez should not have been invited. He had a mediocre year, and Vernon Davis had a great year despite having to deal with a terrible quarterback situation in San Fran.

Offensive Tackle: N/A
I'm fine with it, although I feel Jason Peters got anointed the Greatest Tackle on Earth undeservingly so and I've heard Jason Smith from the Rams has been having a really good year.

Offensive Guard: Mike Iupati, San Francisco
I don't care which one gets the boot (my gut says Snee), but Iupati has to get in the Pro Bowl. I'm not big into watching Offensive linemen during a game, but Iupati is such a bulldozer you can't help but enjoy watching him. He's like a 6'5, 330-pound fullback, but meaner.

Center: N/A
I'm ok with this.

Defensive End: N/A
I'm fine with it, although Tuck should be starting alongside Peppers.

Defensive Tackle: B.J. Raji, Green Bay
B.J. Raji got 7 sacks as a pure nose tackle, it's a crime he isn't in. Also, Jay Ratliff is overrated as hell.

Outside Linebacker: N/A
They got the starters right, hard to screw that one up. And while I understand the Orakpo movement, Briggs has been phenomenal this year.

Middle Linebacker: London Fletcher, Washington
Almost every year this guy gets snubbed, and it's a damn shame. It's pitiful that the 2nd best middle linebacker of the last decade has only made 1 Pro Bowl in his entire career. He's a tackling machine at only 5'10 and he's never missed a game in his career. He's great in coverage, he can get sacks if you need him to, he's a truly special player who has been overlooked his entire career. Meanwhile, Willis has been getting burned in coverage and for all of the tackles he's had, has let too many people by him. He may get held to a higher standard, but that's because most middle linebackers aren't 6'1, 240-pound behemoths than run a sub-4.5 40 yard dash.

Cornerback: Tramon Williams, Green Bay and Brent Grimes, Atlanta
Grimes has been playing great all year (most underrated player in the league without a doubt) and Hall is getting in off of one great game. Tramon Williams (along with NY Giant Terrell Thomas) has been one of the most underrated cornerbacks of the last 2-3 years, and Charles Woodson is slowing down much faster than anticipated.

Free Safety: Earl Thomas, Seahawks and Kerry Rhodes, Arizona
Earl Thomas has been what we all expected him to become, a hell of a ballhawk. He did it much sooner than anticipated and, while I am a Giants fan, I don't see why Antrel Rolle is in the Pro Bowl. His main asset is his play making ability, which he can't do much of when he's only got 1 pick on the year as opposed to Thomas' 5. Nick Collins has had a good year, but it's a down year for his standards and, statistically, Kerry Rhodes has just about everything under the sun. 87 tackles, 1 sack, 4 interceptions, 12 pass deflections, and 2 defensive touchdowns.

Strong Safety: William Moore, Atlanta
The Falcons defense deserves some credit, and aside from Abraham, they don't have any representatives. Well, William Moore very quietly has played some of the best ball in the league at strong safety, with 5 picks and 8 pass deflections. But more importantly, Adrian Wilson has played like absolute garbage and got in strictly off of reputation.

AFC Pro Bowl All-Snub Team

Quarterback: Matt Cassel, Kansas City
Peyton Manning had one of his worst seasons ever, throwing 17 interceptions and the Colts are struggling just to stay in the playoffs. Matt Cassel threw for a touchdown ratio of 27 to 5 while leading the Chiefs to the playoffs and winning the division. After last season's 4-12 record, many wondered if Cassel was really a franchise QB (myself included), and he answered all of the doubters. If there was one year that Peyton didn't deserve to get an invite, it was this one.

Running Back: Peyton Hillis, Cleveland
While I love Mojo, he didn't deserve to start this year, Arian Foster did. Hell, he shouldn't have even been invited, as Peyton Hillis had a better year with less help from his offense. Not only that, but he didn't even get significant playing time til about a month into the season. Also Mojo had trouble getting into the end zone this year, while Hillis had 13 total touchdowns on the year, and became the 3rd Browns Back ever to rush for 11 touchdowns in a single season.

Fullback: Mike Tolbert, San Diego
I don't watch the Texans often, so I may be wrong here and maybe Vonta Leach truly deserves it, but Tolbert was asked to carry the load when Matthews went down. As difficult as that is for a fullback, he still managed to thrive and rush for over 700 yards to go along with 11 scores.

Wide Receiver: Stevie Johnson, Buffalo
Reggie Wayne had a down year, to be expected from Peyton's struggles as well as the absence of Dallas Clark. But Johnson started off the season as strictly a red zone specialist, but managed to crack into the starting lineup in week 4 and has proven to be much more of a complete receiver than anyone expected. And while everyone knows him as "The Guy that dropped the TD pass against the Steelers," he's been a breath of fresh air at the Primadona position, showing that he likes to have fun with the "Why So Serious?" TD celebration and his back-and-forth with the Monday Night Pre-game guys. The fact that this guy went from being a 7th rounder 2 years ago to being right up there with Antonio Gates, Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Lloyd in TD receptions is truly remarkable. Also Lloyd should be starting over Wayne.

Tight End: N/A
They got it right.

Offensive Tackle: N/A
Again, they got it right

Guard: N/A
Waters should be starting, but other than that I'm fine with their picks.

Center: N/A
Mangold is an animal, no surprise here. Some people are complaining that Pouncey doesn't deserve it, but I think that he's done a great job; it's hard to hit the ground running as a rookie, especially at center.

Defensive End: Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati
I feel so weird saying this, but Carlos Dunlap deserves to go in over Dwight Freeney. They had virtually the same number of tackles and Freeney had 9 sacks as opposed to Dunlap's 8, but Dunlap has played 4 less games that Freeney. Also Babin should be starting.

Defensive Tackle: Tommy Kelly, Oakland and Domata Peko, Cincinnatti
Tommy Kelly got more sacks than Haloti Ngata did this year... Sorry about that I was waiting for the world to turn upside down. Ngata still deserves to be in, don't get me wrong here. But if a Raider is going to get selected, it should be Kelly, especially since he's more of a true tackle than Seymour. And I have nothing against Wilfork, but Peko is the best nose tackle in the league that's actually trying (Come At Me, Haynesworth). Every time I watch the Bengals, I see Peko blowing up every run; that team's underachieving should not be taken out on Peko, who had his best year ever as a Pro.

Outside Linebacker: N/A
Feel bad for Tamba Hali. He had a monster season, but they got this right.

Middle Linebacker: Derrick Johnson, Kansas City
This will be my pick that people are going to go "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!" to, but I'm ok with that; Ray Lewis should not make it this year. I get it, he's the heart and soul of their defense, he's spitting in Father Time's face, whatever. Kansas City, even with Bowe and Charles and Cassel, has made its money with its defense, not its offense. Their defense has played better this year than the vaunted Jets defense. If that didn't blow your mind, maybe this will: Derrick Johnson has had more pass deflections AND more interceptions than Darrelle Revis. That's absolutely insane! Also, he and Ray-Ray have had just about the same number of tackles, and the Chiefs defense needs to get recognized with at least one selection.

Cornerback: Joe Haden, Cleveland
Revis Island seems to be shut down for renovation this year, 'cause Darrelle Revis has been getting burned a lot this year. While Haden, the polar opposite, has proven that he is a legit shutdown corner and it looks like he's going to be for a long time.

Free Safety: Michael Griffin, Tennessee
I don't get it, I thought the days of snubbing Michael Griffin were over? He's been playing great defensive football this year, regardless of his team's woes. Meriweather has played pretty good this year, but that Pats defense shouldn't be recognized outside of McCourty's selection.

Strong Safety: N/A
Polamalu is probably the easiest pick between both Pro Bowl teams.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 NFL Draft: Overrated/Underrated Prospects, Volume 1

Overrated: Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho
I don't know why, but every year, some QB from a small school is hyped up on all the draft watches, and this year is Enderle's turn at bat. Yeah, he's big, his arm is pretty good, and he plays a Pro-Style offense, so the attention isn't completely un-merited. I was skeptical right out of the gates, and after watching him play against Boise State, my skepticism was justified. He looked completely lost, he was making incredibly poor decisions, and his accuracy was spotty at best. And it wasn't after some disheartening injury or some bad play that got in his head; he looked beat from the first snap. Yes, Boise State is a damn good defense, arguably the best in college football, but if you're rated the #5 QB on multiple draft sites, you have to produce, or at least prevent a meltdown.

Underrated: Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
I like to believe that racism isn't an issue in the NFL anymore, but then cases like this pop up that bring me back to the reality of football. I just don't get why a guy like Tyrod Taylor is rated so poorly on so many draft sites. Yes, my man crush with T-Mobile is officially documented due to my last post, but how can you not like the guy? He's one of the most exciting players to watch in college, and the fact that V.Tech has been on ESPN the last half of the season has been an absolute delight. Taylor puts nice zip on the ball, he can make all the throws, and he's learned a lot over the last 4 years. He's already learned one of the toughest lessons rookie QBs face, that throwing the ball away is sometimes the best play. If he knows that the play isn't salvagable, he will throw it away. But what makes him so electrifying is his ability to make a play out of seemingly nothing, which brings me to his scrambling. He may not be the fastest or the strongest runner, but make no mistake, he is the best scrambler in all of college football. He keeps his eyes downfield all the time, and his main asset in his scrambling isn't his speed, but his elusiveness, which will translate to the NFL. This ability to scramble is why you don't see him throw it away often, because he knows he can salvage almost any play at the college level. But, there are reasons why people don't like him. Main reason: his height. At 6'1, his height could be a concern, but he doesn't have a low release so I don't think it will be much of an issue unless he's being blocked by 5 clones of Phil Loadholt. Another issue I've noticed is that he doesn't really throw to his receivers until they break free from coverage, which is him trying to not turn the ball over. A legitimate issue that many QB prospects face, but a correctable one.

Overrated: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Yes, he's putting up stats right now. Yes, he's winning in God's only conference, the SEC. Yes, he's 6'7 and has an absolute cannon for an arm. But be cautious, my children, for all of these things a quarterback does not make. It was not even 4 years ago that one Jamarcus Russell filled all of these requirements. Am I saying Mallett is the next Russell? No. Am I saying people need to stop calling him a first round quarterback? Yes. His accuracy is very spotty; I've never seen a collective group of receivers make so many circus catches. And, from what I hear and read, he also has character concerns. So if people are even thinking that he's going to the Cardinals, especially after Leinart's motivation issues, they need to think again. Also he imploded in the second half against Alabama, and that never looks too good, even if it's only in the first 5 weeks of the season. But, Arkansas will probably beat Ohio State, Mallett will throw a bunch of 80 yard bombs at the combine, run a 5.3, and get drafted by a team that will find out that he's just not really that good. For his sake, and for the sake of variety at the quarterback position in the NFL, I hope I'm wrong.

Underrated: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
I like to watch Boise State, as should anyone. They're the most exciting team to watch in college, aside from Oregon and Auburn. This blog is definitely Boise State-friendly, but there's no special treatment here. As a draft guy, I try and scout guys when I watch games. And between Kellen Moore, Austin Pettis, Titus Young, Jerron Johnson and Winston Venable, there's a lot to scout for during Broncos games. As such, I try to take a more organic approach when watching this team, so I'm not just watching one guy the entire game. Well, all these guys made plays, it's why their names are all over the mocks. But one guy on the Broncos really started to surprise me with his playmaking abilities, and that was Doug Martin. He seems to me like a Chester Taylor-type in the NFL. He runs hard, has decent hands, decent speed and runs like a bull. He just does everything pretty well, which you love to have in a #2 back in the NFL. And if you can get a good #2 in the 7th round or even as an undrafted free agent, you have to snatch him up before a team like the Patriots do, he's a great value guy.

Overrated: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
If you can't tell already, I look into this draft stuff a lot. In advance. All the time. Literally, every day. It's an odd affinity of mine, as my favorite team, the Giants, have no real problem drafting, and have no real needs in the draft. I guess I like to see how the bad teams will do. I mean, I've been following this draft stuff for so long that I'd say I'm also a Lions fan at this point. But in all of my years of viewing countless mock drafts and draft bios, there's one thing I've never seen before this year: Anthony Castonzo. Seriously, when the hell did people just annoint this guy a first rounder. I mean, the tackle class can't be that weak this year, can it? I haven't seen a single second of game tape on this guy, so he may be a good player for all I know. But the fact that I've never heard of him leads me to be very suspicious. I mean, there are lots of mid-late round draft steals I've never heard of before that draft year, which is to be expected; it's why they're steals, because they're unknown. But never hearing of the top tackle in the draft??? That just can't end well. And from what I read, he might not even be able to play left tackle! I think this is a case of lazy mock drafting, where one high-profile mock draft labeled him a first round pick and everyone else just ran with it. Either way, until I see film of him, I will continue to be skeptical.

Underrated: Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford
If you watched the Oregon/Stanford game, you might have heard of the fullback/linebacker who played both ways for just about the whole game. Well, his name is Owen Marecic and he's a flat-out beast. In this day and age, to play both ways is insane, especially in (arguably) the best conference in all of college football. You don't become a modern-day iron man in the PAC-10 on accident. He's primarily a fullback, but if I'm an NFL coach, I'll find a way to get him on the field. Fullback, some defensive snaps, special teams. Football is a game of toughness, and iron men are the epitomy of that. And on top of that, he's a damn good football player. He's got ideal size and speed for a fullback, and he's got fantastic hands for any back, let alone a fullback. In the Oregon game, Luck threw a fade pass to him and he almost made it! If Andrew Luck has enough trust in him to throw him a fade route, well then so do I.