Posts Tagged ‘Draft’

After what seemed an eternity of drafting, the NFL now has its newest crop of young talent ready to display before the masses.  There were trades galore during the primetime event Thursday, Friday and throughout out the day on Saturday.  Most of them were for good causes as fans and teams alike were delighted by the free movement in and out of rounds that allowed teams to actually get what they coveted.

As a southern style blog/report, we will focus mainly on the NFC South as I may choose to review others as I see fit(or upon request).  The Southern Division had two clear winners as the other two were riddled by either previous trades or penalty by the league.

The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cleaned up early and often in hopes of returning to the forefront of a division they not too distantly controlled before.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Bucs really went after it in this draft.  First they traded down out of the top 5 and had a hand in making Cleveland trade up one spot for RB Trent Richardson.  With the 7th pick they took Alabama SS Mark Barron.  Instantly they gave themselves production in the back 7 they sorely needed.  Next at the bottom of the first they traded back in to select Boise St RB Doug Martin, complementing Blount in the backfield.  Hopefully this will take some pressure off of the struggling QB Josh Freeman.  In the 5,6, and 7 rounds they added youth and depth at positions of need adding a linebacker a corner, another running back and a tight end.  The first round alone is enough to give the Bucs an A but they kept at it in the later rounds giving this team a new look and hope for the near future.

Grade: A

Carolina Panthers:

Early on the Panthers looked to be the team that would land the top D-Tackle prospect in the draft were they to select Mississippi St. bulldozer, Fletcher Cox, in a mild upset the Panthers elected to go with the super talented inside linebacker Luke Kuechley.  Immediately fans jumped all over the pick wondering why they would pass on such a glaring need such as DT in lieu of a linebacker.  The Panthers would not be swayed as their very next selection caused even more heads to tilt in wonder when they selected a D-II offensive guard, Amini Silatolu.  After the early misdirection the Panthers got back on track using all of their remaining picks to hit major areas of need: DE, CB, WR/PR, and S.  After the initial shock of the early rounds(and a couple YouTube highlight videos) my nerves calmed and I began to appreciate the direction and overall quality of Carolina’s decisions.  Kuechly will be a stud and Silatolu will be a monter in the middle and Carolina is fast approaching one of if not the most talented Special teams units in the League.

Grade:B+

Atlanta Falcons:

Not much to see here as they gave up the farm last year to acquire WR Julio Jones.  Two offensive lineman, a full back, defensive end, strong safety and a d-tackle.  Most everything this team needs on defense was addressed in the draft.  The only thing missing now on defense is talent.  Julio better be good next year because they are going to have to score a lot of points in this division.

Grade: C

New Orleans Saints:

Oh boy, where to begin with the continuing disaster that is the NO Saints offseason?  How about the first round, no? Okay then how about the 2nd?  Not there either?  The 3rd? Yes finally the 3rd round selection of the Saints was a DE from Regina, Akiem Hicks.  And that pretty much does it for name recognition for the Saints draft.  A WR, SS, G, and Tackle  round out the late rounds.  Look on the bright side New Orleans, you still have Drew Brees, right???

Grade: D+

There you have it folks, NFC South draft wrap ups and grades to drink in.  The South should be interesting at the least to watch.  We very well could see a reversal of fortune for those that have held this division under there thumbs for a few years now.  The Panthers and Bucs are seriously gaining ground on Atlanta and New Orleans is only one more scandal away from being the ‘Aints again.

Keep it glued right here on True Talk, your source for Southern Sports!

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Everybody remembers Michael Jordan.  He soared into our living rooms with flashy dunks, unbelievable layups, clutch shots, suffocating defense, oh, and those 6 NBA titles.  MJ was the best basketball player the world had ever had an opportunity to watch up close.  From the time he entered the NBA he began to take the sport over.  He joined with a little shoe company called Nike and released the first ever Air Jordan.  Not too long after that he hooked up with an upstart sports drink label named Gatorade.

The success never ended for Michael, he had won championships and awards at every level of competition.  Corporate sponsors lined up to endorse his every move.  He even made a kids movie with the characters of Looney Toons back in the 90’s, Space Jam.  It seemed as though MJ had the “Midas Touch”.

After the abrupt departure of music mogul, Bob Johnson, Charlotte was left a brand new franchise without an owner or a direction, Michael Jordan stepped up to the plate with the cash on hand and the dream of being the first former NBA player to own his own franchise.  The NBA could not wait to throw MJ back to the forefront of the league as ratings and attendance across the league had dipped markedly since Jordan’s final retirement.

Most remember Michael’s first attempt at a front office gig up in Washington when he infamously drafted Kwame Brown with the number 1 pick.  After a rocky tenure with the Wizards Jordan was unceremoniously fired.  He was never even allowed back into the facilities to retrieve his belongings.

Just a few years later Jordan was given permission to acquire the majority rights of the Charlotte Bobcats.  His first move as owner was to bring in those he was familiar with.  He chose Larry Brown to coach his team.  This seemed to many as the beginning of a great duo to get the reeling Bobcats back on track.  It didn’t last long.  Soon Jordan blew up the team that Brown had assembled and even gotten to the playoffs.  Brown spoke out against the moves by the front office and was shortly relieved of his duties.

What happened to that Midas Touch?  Jordan had gone from the most prolific athlete of a generation to an absolute atrocity behind the scenes.  His current Bobcats team has lost a franchise record 23 straight games and is 2 losses away from having the worst winning percentage in league history.

There is still time for MJ and his staff to right the wrongs.  They should be in good position to get the number 1 overall pick in this years draft where a certain collegiate stud is waiting in the wings to step in as the next Tim Duncan.  Anthony Davis is one of the best prospects at his position to come out since Kevin Garnett.  Jordan could get a longer leash if they manage to get Davis and truly try to build a winning program here in Charlotte.

The city of Charlotte deserves so much more from their basketball team than they are getting.  Even Jordan remembers what it was like to have to come here and play the Hornets in the “Hive”.  Those fans didn’t leave they are just waiting for their team to come back.

Jordan, you have gone from first to worst.  Now its time to dust off those old fingers and get that golden touch back and bring this city what it wants and needs, something you already have 6 of.

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Cam Newton Draft Photo

The last weekend of April is one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for football fanatics.  Teams and their fans are looking to this magical weekend to upgrade their respective rosters with talent farmed from some of the best collegiate football programs in the country.  What is this magical weekend of eternal hope and renewed spirit? This, my friends, is the NFL Draft.

Every team has at least one chance to choose a former collegiate player to add to its roster to help fill holes left by free agency or injury, or just provide depth at a position that is thin or top heavy with talent.  Teams work round the clock vetting these future “stars” and “busts” as well as managing team needs versus where they feel they line up in the draft order.  Some teams employ the Best Player Available approach, while others draft solely based on need.

Last year the Carolina Panthers struck Draft Gold by selecting Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  He rewarded the Panthers with a rookie season the likes of which have never been seen.  He destroyed all records for a rookie quarterback and even some records that have stood the test of time(Rushing Touchdowns by QB).

In 2012 the Panthers are once again selecting in the top ten of the draft and they look to continue their first round dominance under the command of second year Head Coach, Ron Rivera, and front office veteran GM, Marty Hurney.  The Panthers will be selecting with the ninth overall pick after losing the coin toss with Miami to decide the tie-breaker between the two teams with identical records.

Options abound and possibilities are seemingly endless for the Panthers, but we will try to keep it simple and go with the most logical of scenarios for this pick.

Everyone is aware of the defensive struggles that the Panthers suffered through last season, after losing key cogs, Jon Beason(achilles), Thomas Davis(ACL), and Ron Edwards(Torn Triceps) to season ending injuries.  The logical step would be to assume the Panthers will draft defense early and often.  Marty Hurney, however, cautions against such a simplistic view of their overall draft strategy.  The Panthers are leaning heavily toward the Best Player Available strategy.  This puts every possibility into play and also makes the Panthers a very real trade partner.

The most obvious top 10 caliber defensive players that could be available at number nine are, Morris Claiborne, Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox, Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, and Luke Kuechly.  Claiborne fills an obvious need at corner back as the Panthers secondary was torched as teams routinely picked on the small but fiery Captain Munnerlyn. Claiborne will likely be gone by the ninth pick maybe as early as third overall but teams like Tampa Bay and Cleveland are starved for offensive playmakers and could use their picks on sexier names like Blackmon or Richardson.

Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Quinton Coples would be the next best options to Claiborne as the Panthers received zero interior pressure from the d-line after spending not one but two third round picks on interior lineman in last years draft.  Terrell Mcclain and Sione Fua were thrown to the wolves last year as rookies and both finished the year on injured reserve.  The two early round picks could prevent the Panthers from going that direction again.

The wild card selections would be drafting according to the B.P.A. strategy.  Say the Panthers are not worried about filling needs just grabbing who they feel are solid football players that fit their mold.  These players could include but are not limited to, Luke Kuechly(ILB), David Decastro(G), and Michael Floyd.

In my opinion Luke Kuechly would be the safest pick.  The problem lies in that the Panthers are absolutely stacked at the linebacker postion.  All-pro Jon Beason controls the middle while outstanding players Thomas Davis and James Anderson roam the outside.  Beason and Davis are coming off of season ending injuries so depth could be the focus there.

With the depature of long time starter Trevelle Wharton at the Gaurd spot the Panthers could look to David Decastro to shore up the protction for Cam Newton.  While the most surprising pick to me would be if the Panthers were to select Notre Dame wideout, Michael Floyd.  Carolina has struggled to replace all-pro wideout Mushin Muhammad as the true number two opposite Steve Smith.  The Panthers are expecting big things from third year wideouts Brandon Lafell and David Gettis.  An offense that was already potent would be absolutely terrifying for opposing coordinators.

Finally the other option would be for the Panthers to trade back and stockpile picks to help build a team that will soon be a perennial playoff contender for years to come.  This I feel is the least of the options. A team should never relinquish high picks in the draft when they are so close to contending year in and year out.

All in all I believe the best option for the Panthers would be Morris Claiborne if he does in fact drop.  After many mock drafts and speculation I think the Panthers will have done their homework and continue their run of successful first round picks.