Friday, April 27, 2012

04/27 (Draft and More) Quickie

Whew, what an absolutely loaded morning. Let's get to it:

NFL Draft: The big storyline was the flurry of trades near the top. Kudos to the teams that traded up, taking advantage of a brief "Moneyball"-style inefficiency of the new labor deal that creates new rookie cost certainties that make taking a pick high not nearly the financial risk it once was.

The other big storylines:

*Luck and RG3 go 1-2, as expected. RG3's socks were a highlight, and it is hard to imagine there is a fan base more fired up about their pick than the Redskins fans.

*The Giants' rivals go big: The Cowboys traded up to No. 6 to get exceptional LSU DB Morris Claiborne, which was arguably the biggest power move of the night. The Eagles traded up to get exceptional Mississippi State D-lineman Fletcher Cox, which was another phenomenal deal. (And that's on top of the Redskins trading everything to get RG3.) Big moves needed, big moves made.

*The consensus winner? Arguably the Pats, a team that historically trades down/out of the first round instead traded up -- twice -- to get DE Chandler Jones and LB Donta Hightower. It is an instant upgrade to a defense that was suspect (even porous) last year. (The Pats could cap the coup by finagling embattled DB Janoris Jenkins early in the 2nd round; Bill Belichick has historically liked Urban Meyer's stars at Florida, even if they have potential red flags.)

*"Value" picks: As talents surprisingly slide down the board, better/playoff teams are there to snag them, with no better example than the Steelers getting Stanford OG David DeCastro. (Other late picks that pundits liked: The Chargers getting DE Melvin Ingram and the Bucs getting RB Doug Martin.)

*"Reaches": The Chiefs taking mercurial Memphis D-lineman Dontari Poe at 11 was questioned, as was the Seahawks taking West Virginia DE Bruce Irvin when Ingram and Quentin Coples (drafted by the Jets) were available. The 49ers were questioned for taking Illinois WR AJ Jenkins late in the 1st -- he was graded as a high 2nd-round pick, so it wasn't quite a reach, but he didn't have nearly the positive evals of LSU WR Rueben Randle. And then, of course, there was the biggest risk in the draft: The Dolphins taking Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill at No. 8.

*Brandon Weeden: The Colt McCoy Era appears to be over in Cleveland. The Browns spent a first-round pick on the 28-year-old rookie QB from Oklahoma State, who can't possibly be less effective than McCoy, who will still have a long NFL career, simply as a back-up who gets occasional chances to start when the QB1 gets injured. Weeden's transition would be clearly helped by the presence of new RB Trent Richardson in the backfield.

*Looking ahead to the 2nd round: WR Rueben Randle is the top name on the board, but it will be intriguing to see where Janoris Jenkins lands -- he is, by far, the most talented prospect left.


*NHL Game 7 thrillers: Devils win in OT, Rangers hold off Senators. The East semifinals might as well be sponsored by the Amtrak Acela -- Rangers-Caps and Flyers-Devils. Should be fun.

*NBA Playoffs set: The leading storyline is clear: It is "championship or fail" for LeBron and the Heat. I'll stick with my preseason prediction of Thunder-Bulls in the Finals, with Chicago knocking off Miami in the East finals -- by far the most highly anticipated match-up of the playoffs.

*First-Round Picks: Chicago over Philly in 5; Boston over Atlanta in 6; Indiana over Orlando in 5; Miami over New York in 6; San Antonio over Utah in 7; Memphis over the Clippers in 7; the Lakers over the Nuggets in 7; Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7. Wow, does the West look fun to watch.

*NBA History: Worst team ever? The Bobcats finished the season with the worst winning percentage of all time. I love superlatives, so it's intriguing that "Worst Team Ever" is on the table. You have to adjust a bit for the compressed season and lack of any development time, but even in a full 82-game season with summer league and training camp, I'm not sure the Bobcats do much better.

*A playoff is coming to college football: It will be only a four-team bracket -- and I will guarantee you there is even more of a clusterf--- around picking that 4th team than there was picking the 2nd team in a two-team title game -- but it certainly beats the current system.

*Manager Pep Guardiola quits Barca: Does he want to coach the Wizards? (OK, how about my 5-year-old's kindergarten team?)

*MLB: Carl Crawford is being shut down for a while, and it adds insult to injury to insult for the Red Sox, who shelled out a gazillion dollars for him only to see him underperform last year -- and, now, not perform this year. (More Red Sox: They did shell Philip Humber, coming off his perfect game. So there's that.)

The morning after the draft is a fun moment -- it's all promise and potential, with more picks coming tonight and all weekend, with the hope that your team is getting better. Same with the day before the NBA Playoffs start: If your team is in it, they have a theoretical chance, and you can spend today talking yourself into thinking your team can at least beat expectations (if not win a title). And if your team is out of the playoffs, like mine, you can begin to scheme a plan for the offseason moves. Not sure what to tell you if you're a Barca fan, though....

-- D.S.

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