My Mockery of a Mock Draft

For the last month or so the internet has been flooded with mock drafts.  Some writers do 3 or 4 different mock drafts which either change one or two things here and there or totally find themselves on the opposite spectrum from where they once stood.  Is it over-done?  Probably.  One would say it’s over-done to the point of exhaustion, but there is obviously an audience for it or it wouldn’t be done in such abundance.  This mock draft is a “lighter side” of what the importance of draft day may mean to many.  In no way is this draft being done to discredit the work and countless hours put in by those who take this seriously and handle it exceptionally well.  If you want in-depth and worth-while draft analysis, there will be a list of those folks at the end of this draft that you can follow on twitter.

With that being said, here it is: “My Mockery of a Mock Draft.”

1st Pick: Tampa Bay Buccanneers – Nobody should ever listen to nonsensical rumors put out by Ron Jaworski.  This is the same guy who said at the start of last year that Colin Kapernick was on his way to becoming the best player in the NFL.  Okay. . .  Jaws put out a rumor that the Bucs would probably end up taking Mariota – not likely.  Bucs don’t think too hard about this one and knew that as soon as Jameis Winston announced his eligibility for the draft, that’s who they were taking.

Jameis Winston, Florida State

2nd Pick: San Diego Chargers – The Chargers decide to trade Philip Rivers and their first round pick to the Tennessee Titans for their second overall pick and a fourth rounder.  The Titans reunite head coach Ken Whisenhunt with Philip Rivers and Rivers gets a team with young wide receivers and a place NOT looking to move to Los Angeles.  The Chargers decide to enter the realms of “below mediocre” by drafting Marcus Mariota and in the long run, making head coach Mike McCoy’s light dim faster than anyone would’ve thought.

Marcus Mariota, Orgeon

3rd Pick: Chicago Bears – The Jags want a running back and the Bears are currently over-paying one.  The Bears trade Matt Forte and their seventh overall pick to the Jaguars and select Dante Fowler of Florida.  Many will fault the Bears for not taking one of the stud wide receivers or USC’s defensive end Leonard Williams, but the Bears’ new regime wants to build it’s 3-4 defense and see Fowler as the athletic linebacker who can be their guy for years to come.  Only time will tell . . .

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Dante Fowler, Florida

4th Pick: Oakland Raiders – Oakland knows they want a wide receiver here – but which one?  That’s easy, because according to Raiders’ logic you go with the faster guy.  Kevin White is the man chosen to be paired up with Derek Carr for the long run.

Kevin White, West Virgina 

5th Pick: Washington Redskins – The Redskins have no idea what to do here.  After  a phone call from Jon Gruden to Jay Gruden is made, the Redskins decided to draft Leonard Williams, the defensive end out of USC, who ultimately will go down as the guy the Bears should’ve drafted.

Leonard Williams, USC

6th Pick: Minnesota Vikings – The Jets kinda want Amari Cooper, but they fiddle around on the phone lines and see if there are any takers.  The Vikings call and give the Jets their first rounder, third rounder and the bust named Cordaralle Patterson.  The Jets figure with Patterson they have a special teams guy and gadget play guy – but the 1st and 3rd rounder are too much to resist.  At first it seems as if the Vikings over pay, but like the Raiders, they pair they quarterback of the future with a can’t miss wide receiver prospect in Cooper.

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Amari Cooper, Alabama

7th Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars – When the clock starts ticking on the Jags, they regret not getting an extra pick out of the Bears.  They decide to give Paul Posluszny some help on defense and draft linebacker Vic Beasley.  Smart move because it screws the team next up on the clock.

Vic Beasley, Clemson

8th Pick: Atlanta Falcons – Beasley is who the Falcons wanted initially but now are left to number two on their list.  They draft Shane Ray out of Missouri which doesn’t help this pathetic defense at all.  Shane Ray probably never becomes a starter and the Falcons are still terrible.

Shane Ray, Missouri 

9th Pick:  New York Giants – The Giants select an offensive lineman.  The Giants are boring.  They actually don’t want to draft anything but lineman this entire draft.  Weirdos.

Brandon Scherff, Iowa

10th Pick: Cleveland Browns – The Browns had tried moving up for Cooper or White but teams did not like their offers that included Johnny Manziel and they have a feeling that the Jets at pick 11 would take Nelson Agholor so the Browns make the jump up to take him and trade to the Rams their first and third round picks.  It’s a high price to pay for the 4th or 5th best wideout in the draft, who won’t catch more than 40 passes this year because this team is just awful – but come on, it’s the Browns.

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Nelson Agholor, USC

11th Pick: New York Jets – The Jets send a text to Cleveland after they pick that reads “We didn’t want Agholor.”   They draft Devante Parker, who should pair up nicely with the veteran wideouts the Jets already have in Decker and Marshall.

Devante Parker, Louisville 

12th Pick: St. Louis Rams – The Rams are tired of being that “good but not good enough” team and they play with the idea of drafting Todd Gurley but decide to go with a tackle for reasons unbeknown to anyone.

Ereck Flowers, Miami 

13th Pick: New Orleans Saints – The Saints know that they’re team stinks so they decide to take one of the biggest gambles in the draft and take Randy Gregory.  Gregory had a failed drug test and is for all accounts addicted to marijuana.  This is too easy of a segue to say one of those “Saints chances go up in smokes with Gregory” lines so, we’ll let it go. . .

Randy Gregory, Nebraska 

14th Pick: Miami Dolphins – No big deal here, they needed secondary help and they have their choice of the best corners on the market. They  go with the product out of Washington though, Marcus Peters, which makes Trae Waynes (who was invited to the Draft in Chicago) shake his head and take a sip from his drink like Kermit the Frog in those memes.

Marcus Peters, Washington

15th Pick: Philadelphia Eagles – Don’t let him fool you, Chip Kelly wanted Marcus Mariota.  He couldn’t make a deal happen with anybody for it to happen and he’s been steaming for over an hour.  When it gets to him that San Francisco wants Arik Armstead, Kelly flips out in total frustration and makes a deal with San Fran.  The two swap teams and Chip Kelly apparently tells San Fran he will trade his best offensive weapon to them at the end of the 2015 season.  Kelly will do anything to get his Oregon men.

Arik Armstead, Oregon 

16th Pick: Houston Texans – Bill O’Brien and the Texans were on the phones with New Orleans for a while in a move that would move Drew Brees to Houston, but nothing comes of it.  Texans realize they are going to have to ride with “it is what it is” potential of Ryan Mallet and/or Brian Hoyer at the quarterback position and add depth to their secondary in the process.

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Trae Waynes, Michigan State 

17th Pick: San Diego Chargers – The Chargers now have Marcus Mariota and no idea where to go with their 17th pick.  If the Titans played a little more hardball, the Chargers would’ve thrown this pick into the Mariota deal, but instead the Chargers take running back Todd Gurley.  The Chargers figure if this is truly a rebuild, they will go with a quarterback with questionable NFL skill and a running back coming off injury.  Thank God they have those sweet powder blue throwback jerseys though.

Todd Gurley, Georgia 

18th Pick: Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs will probably be terrible in 2015.  No other team behind them wants to move into their spot and they have nothing to trade (although those sneaky devils from Dallas tried trading for Jamaal Charles).  They just decide to take the best player on their board.

Eddie Goldman, Florida State

19. Cleveland Browns – The Browns are reckless and that’s why we love them.  The Browns decide to come out of nowhere and draft Devin Funchess out of Michigan.  Funchess won’t burn anybody, but he has great hands and gets to the height of the ball.  Good luck getting touches in this offense though.

Devin Funchess, Michigan

20.  Philadelphia Eagles – Reluctantly, Chip Kelly goes and drafts a player who is not on offense and is not from Oregon.

Landon Collins, Alabma

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Marvin Lewis gets an extension although he’s never won a playoff game.  The Bengals are obviously drunk this entire off-season and draft and select defensive end Henry Anderson and laugh hysterically because it the name reminds them of the movie “Harry and the Hendersons.”  Every representative of the Bengals is asked to leave Chicago.

Henry Anderson, Stanford   

22. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Rooney family is upset the draft is not taking place in New York, because they wanted to be close to their casino in Yonkers, Empire City – to celebrate their pick, which might end up being the steal of the draft in offensive lineman, D.J. Humphries.

DJ Humphries, Florida

23. Detroit Lions – Detroit defiantly drafts Danny Shelton out of Washington.  Hoping it fills the void left by Ndamokong Suh.  Bears fans in Chicago moan, because it won’t fill the void, but it’ll do just enough. . .

Danny Shelton, Washington

24.  Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals were in trade talks with the Jets who wanted to take a chance on UCLA quarterback Brett Hundely in this spot.  The Cardinals were going to do it, but decided that taking Hundley is actually a good idea for a team that was riddled with injury in quarterback depth last season.  The Cardinals text the Jets afterwards “No hard feelings, K?”

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Brett Hundley, UCLA

25. Carolina Panthers – Thrilled that Peat is still on the board, the Panthers look to bolster a line that needs more of a push up front.  Cam Newton was hit  way too much last year.  Peat can be a starter for the next ten years in Carolina.

Andrus Peat, Stamford 

26. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens would’ve loved to get one of the top three wideouts in the draft but just didn’t have the tools to make it happen.  Instead they don’t reach and they draft the best player available, La’el Collins of LSU.

La’el Collins, LSU

27.  Dallas Cowboys –  Everyone expects the Cowboys to draft Melvin Gordon here, but instead they do the smart thing and draft linebacker Bud Depree out of Kentucky.  He may lack a “motor” but he has great athleticism to help bolster this defense.  It’s not a sexy pick for the Cowboys but it’s the smarter pick.   Plus, with a name like “Bud” it kind of sounds like he belongs in the state of Texas.

Bud Depree, Kentucky

28.  New York Jets – The Jets become unnecessarily nervous about not getting Brett Hundley and still having Geno Smith at quarterback.  They trade their second and fourth round pick to Denver to draft Bryce Petty out of Baylor.  Petty can own a room and will work the New York media at first — but prove he can’t own a huddle and get worked out of the starting job by week 4.  Come on, Jets. . .

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Bryce Petty, Baylor

29.  Indianapolis Colts – Colts decide on a corner at this spot.  The Colts are a weird team this year – Andrew Luck is a gem but a lot of wholes elsewhere.  This may be the year Luck flips out and says “Give me and Hilton more help.”

Byron Jones, UConn

30. Green Bay Packers – The Packers make a move that helps solidify the middle of the defense by selecting Shaq Thompson.  Teaming up the athletic and aggressive Thompson with Clay Matthews ends up being a nightmare.  For the second time tonight in Chicago, Bears fans let out a disgruntled moan. . .

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Shaq Thompson, Washington 

31.  New Orleans Saints – The team may have reached, but they go after a sort of hybrid pass rusher out of Virgina.  Drew Brees is bummed out because he almost got traded and then when he got over that, he was hoping the team would draft wide receiver Jalen Strong out of Arizona State.

Eli Harold, Virginia 

32. Minnesota Vikings – The Patriots held the last pick in the first round and realize that although they just won a Super Bowl, their window for winning another is quickly approaching.  The Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era has about two or three years at most left – so why not go for broke?  The Patriots decided to trade their first pick for veteran running back Adrian Peterson, who wants out of Minnesota.  The Vikings, who already gave Bridgewater, Amari Cooper in this draft, decide to give him help in the backfield and it ISN’T Melvin Gordon.  The Vikings draft Duke Johnson, who ultimately ends up being the best back out of this class.  . .  Bears fans never want the draft in Chicago ever again.

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Duke Johnson, Miami

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Thanks for checking out my “tongue in cheek” mock draft – hope you enjoyed it.  For all “real” draft analysis – check out these fine writers:

Joe Wedra @JoeWedra

Justin Higdon @AFC2NFC

Montell Hardy @MontelNFL

Vance Meek @vancemeek

Josh Zimmer @JZimmer_NFL

Bill Carroll @elevenbravo138

Brandon Pemberton @BrandonOnSports

 

 

 

Goodell and His Misplaced “Bad Guy” Title

Greg Hardy will not be the centerpiece of a pity party.  He will not be a hero, nor will he recognized as a pillar of his community.  Greg Hardy was accused of  beating up and choking his girlfriend at the time, Nicole Holder.  A settlement was reached out of court between Hardy and Holder so Hardy essentially “got away” with his acts – but the court of public opinion had found him guilty for the most part.   After week one of last season, Hardy was put on the commissioner’s Exempt List which made him ineligible to play for the remainder of the season.  This past off-season Hardy found himself in the free agent market and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys for $11.3 million (on a single year deal).  The NFL decided they weren’t done with Hardy though because on April 22nd, Hardy was suspended 10 games, without pay in the 2015 season due to his domestic abuse charges.

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The NFL makes the latter move in a way to still try to appease the masses that they let down while fumbling the Ray Rice domestic mess from last season.  Some say the NFL is just “making up rules as they go along” – but what else are they supposed to do?

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell is somehow made out to be the “bad guy” in this and every other situations that involves players in the league performing some kind of personal misconduct off the field.  Goodell is the “bad guy” because that’s what people are used to.  People are used to banding together against the position of power.  Nobody wants to ever blame the players – ever.  When Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson went through their off the field drama – people seemed to forget that Ray Rice dragged and punched his fiance and that Adrian Peterson mercilessly disciplined his young son – the focus was on how Roger Goodell would punish these two men.  Not how the law would punish these men – but how the man who is in charge of a football league would punish them.

Goodell found himself in a situation in which these issues of domestic violence were pushed to the side forever in this league.  These stories never leaked to the news before this era of social media and camera phones.  One would have to be naive (or just plain stupid) to believe that these domestic abuse matters are something that just started happening in the NFL in 2014.  Goodell needed to act and albeit his first reaction with Ray Rice was the wrong one ( a light suspension ) he could’ve really pleaded ignorance on this one.  Does this make Goodell the smartest man in the world ? – absolutely not.  But people seem to forget that there is a distinct difference between being dumb or bad.  For lack of better english, Goodell was just dumb.

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The charges against Hardy were vile and inexcusable but in terms of Hardy “working” – he should be allowed to go back to work if someone wants his services.  Until the NFL puts a “lifetime ban” on those who are convicted (which Hardy wasn’t) of domestic/child abuse, these accused athletes have every right to go back to making their living.  Hardy essentially lost an entire season in 2014 and now the NFL wants to suspend him for more than half of the upcoming season, essentially for the same things he was suspended for prior – that’s what just doesn’t add up.

The NFL should have never publicly stated what a “right amount” of games per suspension was because they are and need to treat these things on a case by case basis and “make up the rules as they go along.” There is no way to grade the cowardice of Adrian Peterson’s acts to Greg Hardy’s acts or Ray Rice’s acts.  There is no scale that should determine which one of these men committed the more deplorable act, which is why Goodell and his team of “smarter than Roger” types need to learn with the process.

Once again though – why are people so made at Roger Goodell and the NFL for how they handle these suspensions?   Why aren’t people more outraged by the leniency of our court systems and how these athletes have gotten nothing more than a slap on a wrist?  Greg Hardy is a lot stronger than the average man – and the fact that just one toss of Miss Holder’s body one way or another, or one punch that would’ve been hard enough to kill her – is a pretty hard pill to swallow knowing that he was just offered $11 million to play football. . .

Athletes like Floyd Mayweather can says cliches like “Only God can judge me,” while another athlete says “In a court of law I was found not-guilty,” but we all aren’t as dumb as Roger Goodell.

Oh, Roger Goodell.

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People have got to believe the man is indeed trying.  His trials and errors during this time in the NFL will undoubtably set up the blueprint of how to and how not to handle these situations for future commissioners.  Then and only then, will people finally stop calling the commissioner the bad guy and appoint that title to the scum in the league who deserve it.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

“Love Story” Album Review

Yelawolf made a name for himself independently before signing with Eminem’s Shady Records in 2011.  His first release with Shady Records was “Radioactive” and it’s success was underwhelming.  There wasn’t much promotion behind it and this went down as two consecutive failures for Eminem who also failed to do much with the release of the Slaughterhouse album a year later.   Regardless of what Eminem does as a record executive, Yelawolf has to turn out some kind of worth-while project.  “Love Story”  presents Yelawolf in a “stripped down” form.  His failures are there for all to see and he doesn’t shy from them at all during the album.  He also takes a stab at being more creative this time around.  It’s a big chance the 35 year old rapper is taking and for his sake it better pay off. . .

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Yelawolf experiments a lot with this LP and on the track “Change” he opens the first verse with the overlaying of a higher pitched melodic vocal mixed with his normal calm tone.  The second verse breaks into a harder drum pattern and a different guitar strum which helps to guide Yelawolf’s harder flow while the third verse displays Yelawolf through various filters as he breaks off from traditional rhymes schemes and starts to go off into philosophy :“Do not succumb to the masses ideas or the ridicule and the judgement  of those who follow ideas of the weak / Will perish and they did fall of enlightenment / become the vision of the mind’s eye.” 

Yelawolf sets a tone early that he is in this one for himself.  Yelawolf, who’s from Alabama, taps into his country roots a lot on this record and it turns out to be a smart decision.  Yelawolf sings a lot on “Love Story” and those songs and his singing voice are both welcomed surprises.   “American You” has Yelawolf describing what a typical American lifestyle is to him, which is a ‘grind it out, learn from your own mistakes’ way of living: “you make something out of nothing you make money for a living / pushin’ buttons, stickin’ digits, flippin burgers in the kitchen / with the vision, you’ve been dreaming, you’ve been savin’ / you’ve been given nothing but sh*t/ but you take it cause you’re patient in this prison.” 

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“Devil In My Veins” is another country inspired track, that really brings out Yelawolf’s inner-Eric Church.   This seems like a plead from Yelawolf asking for forgiveness for any bad he’s done in his life but knows he can never truly be forgiven because the devil is “forever” in his veins.  Yelawolf follows “Devil In My Veins” with “Best Friend” which features Eminem.  Yelawolf rides the beat smoothly and calmly “To the Father, Son and Holy Spirit / I hold You nearest / My best friend, best friend / Let the trumpets blow with Your appearance / I can almost hear it.”  Eminem rarely takes a calm approach on any track and he attacks this otherwise calm beat only like he can : “Not even the doctors at the hospital are gonna shiggy-shock you back to life / It’s im-piggy-possible to revive you / Thats word to the diggy doc / Stiggy stopping is not an option / Something I’m not gonna do / I’m the Iggy Pop of Hip Hop when I walk in a booth.”  

The bass line on “Empty Bottles” (produced by Malay) adds to the depth of depression which Yelawolf engages himself into.  His drunk state turns from being out of sorts to being aggressive and angry in every direction and ends with a rapid fire bridge dealing with the after affects of a drunk night.  Yelawolf’s introspective side hits nicely with the poetic hook: “Empty bottles on the table black roses on the ground / Silhouettes of people dancing to an unfamiliar sound.”

With so much good going on with this album, it’s unreal that the first single released is the song “Box Chevy V.”  This song shows no growth from an artist who displays an immense coming of age on this entire LP.  While the previous tracks mentioned, explore the country roots of Yelawolf, this track shoves it in the listeners face and is more of a redneck stereotype than anything else.

But aside from that disappointment, the album as a whole, delivers in a good way.  Even the track “Tennessee Love” (presumably written for his fiance Fefe Dobson) doesn’t get too sappy, it’s actually a nice genuine display of their relationship: “Can’t you see that my hands are shaking? / Withdrawls from alcohol, Ain’t no use in fakin’ . . . Somedoay, if we get lucky and grow and get old / We’ll look back, and laugh about the circus and the show.”

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“Disappear” shows Yelawolf as a young boy praying to God and asking him to come save him from the life he lives.  Yelawolf talks about an abusive step-father and a molester baby sitter and how he just wants God to come and just help him disappear from these issues.  It’s a touching song in which Yelawolf prays to God and calls him his “daddy,” but once again the poetry in which Yelawolf uses in his hook blows the listener away: “There’s a moth on the window sill and it came to die alone / Through the pain of the pouring rain I gaze into the storm /And I imagine I’m the son of a man who will hold me close and near / With these bruises on my face I cry while I pray to disappear.” 

Yelawolf’s best moment come on the Malay produced “Have a Great Flight.”  After doing some research it comes to light that this is a song for his grandmother.  The emotions run on high as Yelawolf says goodbye to a loved one (after doing research it appears it’s for his grandmother but it could be interpreted as a goodbye to his mother as well.)   The simplicity of his tone and the blue grass backing of this song makes his lyrics even that much more relatable : “I will keep your memories, they always make me smile / Letting you go honestly, I’m having a rough time / I promise I’ll be strong for you, like you said, and hold it in the road / But, I’ve been out here missing you, missing you so. . .”   The bridge of the song displays more experimenting by Yelawolf as his lines overlap each other but in harmonious fashion.

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It’s amazing to believe that Yelawolf’s talents may now have reached this level of versatility and song writing.   The album kind of drags on as he packed in 17 tracks (and one interlude) but at least he’s giving you more bang for your buck.  The fear with this kind of album is that it will be presented to the wrong audience.   Eminem will still, without a doubt, present this as a rapper doing a rap album, when in actuality it’s a music artist being expressive in his truest form.  This album brings the positive qualities of B.O.B, Kid Rock and Outkast, packaged in the tattooed form of Yelawolf.

Rating 8.5 out of 10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

6 Destinations For Adrian Peterson

With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson now reinstated to play in the league, it’s obvious there will be many teams interested in gaining his services.  Only issue is, Peterson is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that he feels did him wrong when he was going through his child abuse issues last season.   Whatever verdict the jury of public opinion holds on Peterson, in football terms – he has served for his crime and is now ready to play.   Peterson is thirty years old and plays a position in which 30 is considered “done.”   Peterson of course is a different kind of athlete, super-human in strength and recovery ability – he’s like the Hulk and Wolverine combined.  Here is a list of six teams that could and should be in play for Peterson’s services.

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6.  Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones’ crew goes here just because it’s the team linked to Peterson for some time now.  Peterson is from the state of Texas and played his college ball at Oklahoma, the alma-mater of owner Jerry Jones.   The Cowboys lost their star running back Demarco Murray to free agency and have enough money under the cap to make something happen if this is truly Peterson’s desired destination.  The problem with Dallas is that – they have other needs that need a lot more attention – mainly on defense.  Dallas has the best offensive line in football and a nice running back stable under contract as is.   To put more money into this offense really doesn’t make much sense when they have tools to make it happen on that side of the ball already.

5.  Cincinnati Bengals – Before people speak of their admiration for the dual running back threat of Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill, let’s be real.  They are both nice backs but Adrian Peterson is great – even at 30.  If Adrian really plays hard ball with the Vikings, the Bengals should be willing to part with a draft pick and one of these backs (presumably Hill) – the Bengals are a team that just make the playoffs and can’t do much else.  It’s becoming a common and annoying trend in the NFL and the fact that Marvin Lewis still has a head coaching job is beyond rational thought.  Andy Dalton usually takes the blame for the team’s losses but he played pretty well in the first round loss last season with about half of his offense actually able to play.  The Bengals really need to shake up things and they have the money and tools to make a game changer like this happen for their franchise.

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4. New England Patriots –  Why wouldn’t the sneakiest team in the league give this a shot?  They are limited with cap room, but with the possibility of Peterson maybe restructuring (or the Patriots cutting ties with folks abruptly like they always do. . .) there could be a deadly deal waiting in the near future.  The Patriots have a very limited window to win another championship with Tom Brady and having a running back like Peterson, helps protect Brady for another grueling NFL season.   A player at the end of his career, like Peterson, would most likely be elated at the idea of playing for a team with a championship pedigree.   The Pats have the last pick in the first round and if the Vikings really want to hold out for a first round pick for Peterson, this might be the most realistic chance they have for that.

3.  Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are another team, much like the Cowboys that can use help on the defensive side, but his is a team that might want to make up for their past mistakes.  Remember the Colts were the ones that traded a first round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson – yeah, that’s called “a swing and a miss.”   The Colts have been depending on Andrew Luck for every and anything that is offensively related, Peterson could ease the young man’s load by a bunch and probably help elevate Luck to his best year yet.  Pagano wants to run the ball at heart anyhow and Peterson would be in a position with an elite quarterback and a team with playoff aspirations.

2.  Oakland Raiders – When the Raiders name came up for the Peterson sweepstakes it seemed like a joke, because for the most part that’s what Raiders rumors are – terrible, terrible jokes.  The Raiders, financially are in in a position where they could “over-pay” Peterson if they wanted to.  For Peterson, this takes him to a team in the midst of rebuilding and working up a second year quarterback in Derek Carr.  If anybody knows anything about football though, it’s that historically, Oakland is where players go to die.  Big name players at the ends of their careers end up here and they usually fizzle out fast.  For the Raiders it would sell  jerseys, but they still wouldn’t be a playoff team, so this move makes little sense  –  which is the Raider way. . .

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1.  Minnesota Vikings – Although Peterson and the Vikings have a shaky relationship as of now, the easiest things for both sides would be to apologize and move on.   Peterson is quite frankly the best player in Vikings history and it would mean something for the franchise to keep him there till his career is over.  The Vikings are a team that are not in a bad spot to make a playoff run this upcoming season and from a public relations standpoint – Peterson can really do something for his image by staying with this team when they need him most.  The Vikings won 7 games last season and with Peterson in the backfield, they could very well be a team who can win 9 games this season.   Second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seemed to get better as the year went along and that was without elite help around him.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

“Into The Wild Life” Album Review

The Grammy Award winning rock band, Halestorm is made up of four members: Josh Smith on bass guitar, Joe Hottinger on lead guitar and the Hale Siblings- drummer Arejay and his older sister “Lzzy” Hale, who is the obvious centerpiece of Halestorm.  Lzzy is the lead vocalist,  who also plays keyboard, rhythm and bass guitar for the band.  Lzzy’s attitude and more importantly her voice, have helped establish Halestorm as one of the top rock acts of today.  Lzzy’s voice is arguably one of the strongest and most versatile today and she has gone into “mainstream” territory as of late – which is always a frightening word to hear for die hard rock fans.

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As a band, Halestorm’s single “Miss the Misery” made it’s way into commercials for Budweiser,  they’ve performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and were also featured on an episode of “Bar Rescue.”  Lzzy Hale was featured on the violinist Lindsey Stirling’s hit single “Shatter Me” (which was a smart move because it reached audiences Lzzy was never exposed to previously) and she is also featured on the intro song for ESPN’s College Gameday.  This band keeps itself busy.

With their third album, “Into the Wild Life” fans of the group are curious to see if the groups edge is still there.  There’s nothing worse than group losing it’s edge due to mainstream influence.  Listening to the first track “Scream” the group tries to tell it’s faithful listeners that they won’t change for anybody: “All you doubters, haters, actors and fakers / I don’t have time for you, whoa / You’re feeding the fire that’s taking me higher / Comin’ like a cannonball.”  “Scream” serves its purpose as the first track to the album as it’s a steady hard hitting song with ‘stadium appeal.’  Arejay’s drum work on “Scream”  is a pattern of perfection, executed with amazing timing.

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It’s hard for any of the band members to take away any attention from Lzzy, but her brother Arejay puts forth his best performance on the album on the track “Mayhem” which is the most aggressive track on the album.   The song’s hook is built for the “mosh-pit” but the build up to the hook is genius.  Lzzy’s voice becomes sultry and is layered with  filters before the hard hook drops in, and that’s when Arejay’s drums and Lzzy’s voice become harmoniously violent.

“I Am The Fire” could be another one of those Lzzy Hale-trademark performances.  It’s message of overcoming adversity has a tone of defiance. In the hook of the song,  she says the line “Screaming like a siren,”  and that couldn’t be a more truer statement in this moment.  Her screams have a demonic snarl in them (part of her rock roots that she will hopefully always hold onto in her career) and belts out the most aggressive high notes in the final pre-chorus leading to the song’s outro.

Halestorm has shown that it’s not always about aggressiveness in their music and they mellow out on the clever “What Sober Couldn’t Say.”  Usually when song writer’s talk about “liquor courage” it turns into a love song, but in this tune, Lzzy’s “liquor courage” actually gives her the fortitude to leave the person she’s with : “What sober couldn’t say, couldn’t break through / Under the influence of you / Incoherent, truth serum, just enough to make me bullet proof / I’m so over this love gone violent / I’m drunk and brave enough to say, what sober couldn’t say.”  The piano on “Dear Daughter” are sweet and the message is a good one but the song itself lacks points for originality and never really peaks.  

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The bad songs on this album are just notably boring like “New Modern Love” which sounds like something Avril Lavigne would’ve written back in the days and it’s another track that is just way too simple for the likes of Halestorm.   “Bad Girls World” is just lazy and corny.  The song writing even takes a blow with lyrics like : “You pretty thing with the dirty mouth, tell them times are changing / And we will never back down, this is our house now.”  

“The Reckoning” is a well written song, but once again it doesn’t capitalize when it can.  The song depicts Lzzy approaching an ex lover who’s done her wrong and although the chorus paints a good picture (“I’m the reaper outside your door, you took everything and made me feel less than nothing, I’m getting what I came for. . . the reckoning.”) the song just stays ‘even-keel’ throughout.

“I Like it Heavy” is almost laughable but it’s an obvious tribute to classic rock music, so depending who you are as a listener, you might enjoy it for what it is, or lower the volume as your driving through your neighborhood.

The best song on the album though is “Apocalyptic.”  The song has a southern rock feel to it – from the drum rolls, heavy guitar leads and blunt lyrics, the song is hard to resist.  The song depicts a relationship in which the only thing good about it is sex and before they break up, Lzzy wants it one last time.  Lzzy even tells her man of interest “Give you one last shot, go on and hit it / Give you one last time to make me miss it / Baby, love me, apocalyptic. ”  As a woman in rock music, Lzzy’s blunt approach towards sex can make even the most hardcore death metal lead single blush and look away “Give me your red imprint right across my ass / I’m leaving scratches up and down your back/ Throw me against the wall, bite me over the neck/ Like end of the world, break up sex.”

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The truth about Halestorm and “Into The Wild Life” is that this band goes where Lzzy goes.   Every song on this album isn’t a slam dunk, but even the bad ones are worth listening to – just for Lzzy’s voice.  As mentioned earlier, her voice is definitely one of the best out today – male or female – very few have the chops of young Elizabeth Hale.  Fans of Halestorm will be let down by this release, but this group still has the potential to make great music moving forward.  Let’s just hope that while they think they’ve moved “Into the Wild Life” that they really haven’t just stepped foot “into the comfort zone.”

Rating 6 out of 10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

A-Rod: Heel Turned Face

In the wrestling world, if you’re a good guy – you’re a face, and if you’re a bad guy – you’re a heel.  A lot of politics goes into who gets a push as a face or a heel and its ultimately determined by the fans reactions to the wrestlers.

When the WWE started to showcase Stone Cold Steve Austin,  he was a typical heel – bald head, all black attire,  never smiled and played dirty.  He was first greeted by boos from the crowd and then something happened – the fans loved him.  The swearing, beer drinking loner who opposed all authority became the guy everyone rooted for.  Even Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, was a cocky, arrogant heel who the crowd hated. . . then eventually they loved to hate. . . and ultimately ended up loving.

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It seems that the WWE broke America’s code.  The code is:  if you’re told to hate something too much, you’ll eventually just love it.

Want proof?

How many times have you watched Al Pacino in Scarface and hoped by some miracle the movie has an alternate ending which keeps the cocaine fueled drug lord alive?   For those that watched Gangs of New York -was there a character more entertaining than  Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of the psychotic, Bill the Butcher?  Tyler Durden ran mayhem in every major city in America, in the movie Fight Club – and yet you left the theatre thinking “he was probably the coolest guy ever. ” Pick a Joker – Jack Nicholson, the late Heath Ledger – hey even Caesar Romero – all portrayed what was supposed to be bad – but it was portrayed so well, we loved it.

In the case of Alex Rodriguez, he made himself the bad guy.  Between the performance enhancing drugs, the lying and his “beef” with the golden-boy of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter (the ultimate face) –  Alex Rodriguez dug himself into a place that is rarely visited by one who at one time was considered to be a great in the game of baseball.    The Biogenesis Scandal didn’t help his efforts in gaining any supporters either.  He was suspended the entire 2014 season and since his suspension he’s been at war with the New York Yankees.

The Yankees tried to get out of his lucrative contract (including milestone bonuses) and made efforts publicly of not mentioning his name – and if his name was forced upon the Yankees organization, they would speak about him in obvious disgust.

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Think about this. . .

Major League Baseball legitimately screwed up, when they couldn’t nail Barry Bonds for his use of performance enhancing drugs.  While under speculation, Bonds was spitting in the MLB’s face by destroying it’s precious home run record.   Bonds was “the one” Major League Baseball wanted, they couldn’t get him – so they had to make an example out of A-Rod.   The difference between Bonds and A-Rod was that Bonds really deep down could care less what people thought of him while Alex has always been about his public perception.  Major League Baseball was assisted by one of the most powerful franchise in professional sports, the New York Yankees, in trying to disgrace the name and reputation of Alex Rodriguez.  They made sure newspapers graced their back and front pages with expressions like “A-Fraud” or “A-Roid” while reaching deep, seeking people who would do interviews with the sole purpose of “selling him out.”

People hated him already.   This would surely build on that hatred and hopefully keep Alex Rodriguez away from the game of baseball for good.  Right? . . . .

Alex had other plans.

Alex Rodriguez decided to “compound” his heel-like ways and formed a tag-team with Barry Bonds.   Bonds worked as A-Rod’s hitting coach in the off-season, helping Rodriguez get his form back.  This is like the Emperor in Star Wars taking Darth Vader under his wing.

A funny thing happened to the most hated man in baseball though. . . in spring training, he was greeted with applause and cheers.  People yelling “Go Alex” while he was doing interviews.  People got tired of the “piling on.”  Even going into the season, when Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate, fans cheered – when he hit his first homerun of the year, they applauded – even the next morning – sports radio and television personalities seemed to smile in re-calling the action.

Why?

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Well, simply put – Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees tried so hard to vilify Alex Rodriguez that they made him a sympathetic character.  They somehow made him the underdog people could root for, he became the loner riding against authority and he became for the first time in his career – relatable.

The New York Yankees pulled the ultimate Vince McMahon move. They put Alex  in a spot that looks impossible to get out of unscathed, so of course, us as humans we don’t want to see him get pummeled to a pulp, or kicked while he’s down – we’d rather see him claw his way back up and earn some respect.

If Major League Baseball would’ve went on with their business, without the smear campaign, there would be no pity for Alex.  Instead, this all backfired.  Sure Alex is far removed from the monster of a player he once was and nobody is certain how this will all turn out in the end, but one thing is for sure – A-Rod v.s. the Yanks, will be the only rivalry worth watching for baseball fans in New York this season. . .

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Panthers Packing A Peanut Punch in 2015

Charles Tillman was born, not raised in Chicago, but one could never tell by the way her wore that city’s name.  Tillman was the personification of the term class act.  He played the game with the class, was a leader on the field and was also known for his charity work in and around the city of Chicago.  Tillman, a Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipient,  was known for his “Peanut Punch” technique in Chicago, in which he would create turnovers by literally punching the football out of an opposing ball carrier’s hands.   Now at 34 years of age, and with his last two seasons being cut short due to triceps injuries, Tillman now finds himself out of Chicago and now in Carolina.

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Some thought that if Tillman was not to return to Chicago, it would be to play in Tampa Bay with his former head coach Lovie Smith, but Tillman opted to play for his former defensive coach, Ron Rivera who is now the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Defensively, Tillman finds himself in a position  better than that of Chicago’s.  Although they weren’t as dominant a defense as they were in 2013, the 2014 Panthers defense kept them close in games where their offense sputtered.  They are led by the best linebacker in the league in Luke Kuechly and a defensive line anchored by the likes of Star Lotulelei and  Charles Johnson.  The Panthers decided to part ways with Greg Hardy leaving a huge hole to fill in their pass rush efforts which they really didn’t address in free agency.  What they did address was their secondary by signing Teddy Williams, Kurt Coleman and Thomas DeCoud.  Okay they addressed it – they didn’t necessarily drop the world on it’s head with those signings. . .

Their latest addition was that of Charles Tillman, who brings an understanding of Ron Rivera’s schemes and the savvy of a veteran, who may not be the athlete he was 10 years ago, but is still a very serviceable piece when healthy.  Look at how good Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller looked when Tillman was playing and compare that to when Tillman was out with injury.  Things became harder for the rookie because he lacked the instinct, “know-how” and physicality that Tillman brings on every snap.

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ProFootballTalk.Com reported that Tillman’s arrival to Carolina had more to do than just Ron Rivera: “Tillman said that defensive backs coach Steve Wilks was one of his closest confidantes when his daughter Tiana was having heart problems which led to a transplant. .. that’s similar to the role Till holds with Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, whose young son had to undergo multiple heart surgeries as well.”

The NFC South was a laughing stock last season.  The Panthers finished the season as the NFC South champions with a record of 7-8-1.   Considering who he’d line up against in this division, Tillman, even at 34, can be a valuable asset to this Panthers team.

Considering each team, let’s start with the Saints:  After last season, it’s apparent that Drew Brees’ reputation far exceeds his actual ability to play at an elite level anymore and as far as receivers, Tillman can keep the likes of Colston bottled up quite easily.  The Buccaneers will have a rookie quarterback under the very conservative watch of head coach Lovie Smith, so he won’t ask his rookie to do much and no matter the receiver lined up against Tillman – if it’s Vincent Jackson or Mike Evans – it will be more of a physical battle than a battle of speed, which plays right into Tillman’s hands.  Let’s not forget that while the whole world was scared of Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, Tillman frustrated Megatron more than any other corner did in the league – and it was because Tillman loves physical play – even against the likes of Calvin Johnson.  The team that may pose the biggest threat to Tillman and this Panthers secondary are the Atlanta Falcons, who come equipped with a quarterback in Matt Ryan who may very well be approaching that next level of quarterback.  Their wideout tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White , when healthy, can still be the most difficult duo in the league.  Julio Jones proves time and time again that he is un-coverable while Roddy White, doesn’t mind physical play or going over the middle.

The truth about Charles Tillman going to the Panthers is this:  He is more a loss to the Bears than he is a gain for the Panthers.  The Bears needed Tillman to help in the growth of their young corner Kyle Fuller – and now with new faces up and down the organization there is nobody there for the fans to relate to anymore.  Tillman was the last true piece of that NFC Champion Bears team, Tillman was the reminder of what this Bears team is years from becoming.   It was tough enough for Bears fans when they realized that the end had come for Brian Urlacher to be wearing a Bears jersey – and now, not once – but twice this year – the fan base was hit with the departures of two fan favorites : Brandon Marshall and Charles Tillman.

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Tough times lay ahead for the Bears and in truth, Charles Tillman doesn’t deserve to have to sit through it.  He’s done his time in Chicago and gave 100% every time out on the field.  He deserves to go out with the familiarity and comfort that he now has in Carolina – and he deserves to at least play on a team with playoff hopes – not one in the middle of rebuilding.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

“No Pier Pressure” Album Review

The term “living legend” gets thrown around carelessly at times, but if that’s the title to be bestowed upon Brian Wilson, it is well deserved and it’s the honest-to-God-truth.   Brian Wilson is the heart, brain and soul behind the legendary Beach Boys music group.  Brian’s genius goes beyond song writing as he is also one of the most talented producers who ever lived.  He seemingly re-introduced how to use a recording studio in the 1960’s and even while making pop music, he never strayed away from being different and trying new things.  He is a master of drawing up harmonies and is also a master at  tugging at the listener’s hearts.   Brian has over-come a lot in his life (check his bio, it’s way too much to get into now) and at 72 years of age, the living legend has released his eleventh studio album “No Pier Pressure.”

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Brian is the brainchild behind songs that have withstood the test of time “Good Vibrations,” “I Get Around,” “God Only Knows,” “California Girls” — the list literally goes on and on and on. . .  So what can Brian’s genius bring us in 2015?  In a world run by dub step and auto tune, Brian steps in calm and confident in his approach on “No Pier Pressure.”

Brian’s voice is not what it once was, but he still can knock out a steady melody and still sings with one of the most honest tones ever.   For those clamoring a Beach Boys-type of sound, look no further than  “Our Special Love” which features Peter Hollens and opens with a sweet acapella harmony that comes equipped with highs and lows to perfection.  Even when the drums come in after the intro, the harmonies stay consistent in the back ground of the verses – never drowning out the lead vocal.   Peter Hollens’ vocals are a nice contrast to Brian’s and the song itself comes off as the smoothest sounding track off “No Pier Pressure.”

“Guess You Had to Be Here” features vocals from Kacey Musgraves and is an uptempo track with a southern appeal to it.  The song talks about just trying to live in the moment and dealing with the after affects of life when they come up: “Well I guess you had to be there / All we wanted was more / There were winners and losers / and people passed out on my floor.”

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Even after all these years, Brian has the innate ability to speak on the topic of love with the innocence of a naive young man.  He does this on the track “Tell Me Why” which features his old Beach Boys band-mate, Al Jardine.   “I think about, that ocean view / And all the dreams I shared with you / I guess they won’t be coming true / at least for you and me / but now you’re gone and I’ve gotta move on with my life. . .”  It’s as if Brian recollects memories from his youth as a boy staring at the ceiling from his bed wondering if he’ll cross paths with the girl who’s left him alone with his feelings.

There are some moments on the album when the features or the songs don’t work at all.  One of those moments comes early with “Runaway Dancer” which features Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities sounds like a song trapped in a synthesizer’s nightmare.  The digital bass drum has no place and the song’s layout is below Brian Wilson standards.   It’s just easier to blame Sebu Simonian  for influencing this entire disaster.   The song “On the Island” features vocals from Zooey Deschanel who proves that her singing is just as underwhelming as her acting and overall appeal.   The song is a lazy attempt at trying to capture some relaxing moment on a remote island, but it sounds like something that should be played at a low volume in a dentist’s office.

“Sail Away” according to Al Jardine (who is featured on the track with another former Beach Boy, Blondie Chaplin) was a take on the Beach Boys classic “Sloop John B.”  It’s obvious that that’s what they were going for, but between Blondie Chaplin’s awkward singing delivery and the folk-song feel of the track – it falls way short of “Sloop John B.”

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With that said, the good (thankfully) out weighs the bad.  Nate Ruess of the group Fun’s appearance on “Saturday Night” is a pleasant surprise as his vocals mesh well with Brian’s.  For some reason the melody on the chorus can remind the listener of Dionne Warwick’s “Say A Little Prayer” but the harmonies are solid on the bridge and the over-all uptempo feeling is refreshing and definitely has that vintage California-Sound, Brian has owned for 50 years.

Two tracks which seem more personal for Brian are “One Kind of Love” and “The Last Song.”   Unconditional love has been something Brian has been in search for and values for all of his life, and even at 72 years of age, the honesty in his voice is telling on the chorus: “There’s only one kind of love, the kind that I’ve been dreaming of, don’t you know it’s unconditional / and when you hold on to your head / only thing you’ll understand / it’s everything you’ve been wishing for.”  Brian’s piano work is solid as his transition from verse to pre-chorus to chorus are all done in noticeably smooth fashion.

“The Last Song” is supposedly his coming to terms with the Beach Boys but the morbid feel this song delivers can also be interpreted as a goodbye to his loyal fans who have been with him on his entire journey.  Once again, the piano work accompanied by the strings make the hairs on your arm stand up and as Brian’s cold vocals touch the track, it’s a pleasant farewell : “Don’t let go / here’s still time for us so let’s take it slow. . . Dont be sad, there was a time and place for what we had / if there was another chance for me to sing to you.”  The “la-la-la” chorus may seem a bit too relaxed or simple – but Brian wasn’t about what goes over the top – it’s about what works, and the simplicity of the chorus makes the listener focus on the verses which are heartfelt.   The song has a strong finish musically while Brian echoes “there is never enough time for the ones that you love.”   Truer words couldn’t be said.

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The mystery about Brian Wilson is that, we are not sure if Brian’s genius ever fully peaked.   If he lived a good life, with happiness and very few pitfalls, he might’ve explored even more at his height of genius.  Then again, it’s Brian’s struggles and pitfalls that make him who he is and is the back bone of the music he creates.  At 72 years of age Brian is a living legend and delivers a commendable release with “No Pier Pressure.”

Rating 7 out of 10

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Chicago Bears Mock Draft

Last year’s 5-11 season was nothing short of atrocious for the Chicago Bears.  They entered the season with the highest of expectations and finished the season as a laughing stock.    The Bears’ new general manager Ryan Pace has made moves in free agency to rid himself of pieces he no longer feels the need for and acquiring pieces to help build a 3-4 defense and reconstruct a feeling of optimism in the  locker room.    Taking a lot of things into consideration, here is one way the Bears could see things working out in this year’s draft.

First Round – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The guess here is that the Raiders will be the only team in front of the Bears who are in need of a wide receiver.  The Raiders have their young quarterback Derek Carr and it would be ideal to pair him up with either Kevin White of West Virginia or Amari Cooper from Alabama.  Cooper is the better route runner so that might give him the edge in going earlier.  White is not a bad consolation prize though.  He is the faster of the two wideouts and comes with 6’3″ 215 pound frame – pretty much identical to Bears’ wideout Alshon Jeffrey.  The Bears have needs all over the field so taking the best player on the board should be the blueprint – and in this case, it would be White.

Second Round – Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

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The Bears signed a few defensive players to one-year contracts in an effort to “feel out” who they would want to keep in their newly formed 3-4 defense.  This second round pick would have to be a main stay in the defensive scheme for years to come and Shaq Thompson could be that guy.  Thompson is one of the better athletes at the linebacker position in this year’s draft and there has been word that some NFL general managers have likened Thompson to make a transition to safety – which is another position the Bears would like some long term stability at as well.  Thompson has already said his “heart is at playing linebacker” but folks question if his frame can handle playing that close to the line of scrimmage in the NFL.  He is six feet tall and 228 pounds.   He has great lateral movement and instincts though, and although he is used to a 4-3 defense, he is no stranger to playing inside or outside, so the transition shouldn’t be  difficult.  New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would love to have a swiss army knife like this to add to his attack.

Third Round – Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon

The Bears have recently parted ways with center Roberto Garza which means there is a vacancy in the heart of the offensive line.  The Bears may roll the dice with another Oregon offensive lineman, considering their best player (arguably) is guard Kyle Long, another Oregon Duck.  Aside from the college connection, Grasu is an athletic center, who is used to a quickly paced offense, and one would guess to minimize Cutler’s mistakes, the passing attack will consist of getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible.  He’s not the most powerful center but his athleticism and awareness make up for what he lacks in sheer strength.

Fourth Round – Kurtis Drummond, Safety, Michigan State

The Bears signed Antrel Rolle in the off-season and it would be smart to pair the veteran with a rookie to mold.  The Bears have long been weak at the safety spot and now that they’re free of the Chris Conte Curse, they will be able to draft Kurtis Drummond in the fourth round.  Drummond is a “gamer” who does his best to keep the game “in front of him.”  He broke up eleven passes last season, but playing in the Big 10 conference against Big 10 quarterbacks, that number should be at about 20.

Fifth Round – Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State

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If the Bears are looking for a sleeper it may be here in the fifth round.  Defensive tackle projections are usually tough, but better to miss on a fifth rounder than draft a bust in the first, right?  Anyhow, Cooper has incredible speed for the position and his hand mechanics are impressive as well as important considering he lacks the size of most defensive tackles.  Even if he doesn’t turn out to be a sleeper-starter pick – he can no doubt provide depth as a rotational player.

Sixth Round – Ladarious Gunter, CB, Miami 

Gunter is a big physical corner at 6’1″ 202 pounds.  He won’t keep up with the speediest of wide outs but he is as aggressive as they come.   Considering this 3-4 defense is a work in progress it would be good to have a corner like Gunter in the rotation because he is an above average corner in attacking the run game.   He worked his way from junior college to “The U” – and has also played some safety and has experience in playing in kick coverage.

With no seventh round pick this year, the Bears will most likely make some kind of trade to get a mid or late round pick in the draft.  Any and everybody could be on the trading block come draft day, so it should be an entertaining (gut-wrenching) day for Bears fans.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

The NFL Hates Defense

When it comes to the NFL’s MVP award, the truth about the league is evident in it’s history.   Most professional football pundits label today’s game as a “quarterback’s league,” but in truth, it pretty much always has been.  The NFL’s most valuable player award has been given to the quarterback position 37 times, with running back coming in second with 18.  The other positions?  Defensive tackle, linebacker, wide receiver and believe it or not a placekicker (congrats Gino Cappelletti of the Boston Patriots)  have all won it once.

It’s no secret that the golden boys under center are the NFL’s most prized possession.  Once upon a time (not too long ago really) the running back position was the position of glory but recently that position is treated like the wide receiver position – it is common place for teams to use two or three a game.   Props must be given to running back Adrian Peterson for winning the MVP award in 2012.  It marked the first time in six years that a running back LaDainian Tomlinson had won the award.  Even then, look at what these two had to accomplish.  In 2012, Adrian Peterson was all sorts of bionic, while rushing for 2097 yards, while in 2006, Tomlinson had to rush for 1815 yards with 28 touchdowns, had 508 receiving yards and threw 2 touchdown passes.   In other words, for a running back to win the MVP award, you need to break all kinds of records to even be in the conversation.

At least most can recollect a clear memory of 2012 or 2006 – the last time a defensive player won the award was in 1986.  That means the last time a defensive player won NFL MVP the following things occurred: MIke Tyson won his first boxing title, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse premiered, Chernobyl fell prey to a nuclear power plant accident and Top Gun was the highest grossing film of the year.

Nineteen eighty six.

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So why did folks think that Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt even stood a chance to win MVP last season?  Maybe because he should’ve.   J.J. Watt’s 2014 campaign was nothing short of ridiculous: 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, an interception and two defensive touchdowns.  Let’s also not forget his three touchdown receptions to go along with those stats.

Although those numbers are impressive, it’s what doesn’t show up on the stat sheet that separates Watt from the rest of the league.  Say what you want about Ndamukong Suh, Haloti Ngata or even Gerald McCoy – Watt embodies the phrase “one man defensive line.”  His athleticism, agility, strength and pure will makes him a double blocking assignment – and he still wrecks havoc.  His versatility allows him to line up anywhere near the line of scrimmage and not to mention coaches spend hours to days focused purely on how to stop him – and him alone.

And the award goes to. . . Aaron Rodgers. 

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Nobody is arguing whether or not Rodgers had a great year: 4,381 passing yards, 38 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions – those are video game-like numbers.  They are also numbers that fans are used to seeing.  The league is made for at least a handful of quarterbacks to throw at a high completion rate all the while netting 4000 yards and nearly 40 touchdowns.  It’s what the league wants – and the league’s best quarterbacks deliver.

It’s expected.  It’s not surprising. Yet – it’s awarded.

So what’s the NFL’s beef with defensive players?   What else could J.J. Watt have possibly done to win the MVP award?  There is an actual list of things J.J. Watt would’ve had to accomplish in order for him to win the award last season, here it goes:

1. Along with his stats from last year, Watt also would have needed to make five 40 yard field goals.

2.  He would have had to perform the surgery to repair teammate Jadeveon Clowney’s torn meniscus.

3. Won a fifth grade spelling bee.

4. Created a time machine to travel back to 1986 and single handedly stop the nuclear mishap in Chernobyl.

That’s quite the list.  It’s also evident that there was no way the NFL was going to give Watt the award, no matter what he did.  After Watt having a season like that and coming up empty – there is no way the MVP award will go to any other position but quarterback – unless of course a running back runs for 2500 yards in a season. . .

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The rules of the game have blatantly changed to favor the quarterback.   In doing so, playing defense is harder  than it’s ever been – and still – the quarterback gets the benefit of the doubt in MVP consideration.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio