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April 29, 2012No.1: Scattershooting on the world of Longhorn football
The Longhorns didn't have a big impact on the 2012 NFL Draft, but that figures to change in a big way, at least on day one. Outside of those two, I'm not sure if the program has another senior on the roster that will be drafted in 2013. Of course, Jackson Jeffcoat and Carrington Byndom are players that will have to make decisions, but next year's draft will be a looming reminder of how few upper-class difference makers exist in the program going into this season.
The transfer of A.J. White had more to do with the amount of talent stacked at cornerback right now than it did with White, who I think could play for most of the teams in the Big 12. Cracking that two-deep right now is pretty tough and the arrival of Duke Thomas did not help White's cause for playing time.
Everyone keeps asking about fullback, but I really don't think the position has an answer right now. The coaches would love for Ryan Roberson to be the guy, yet I'm not sure he's a guy that ranks as a true plus-player at the position heading into the off-season. Barrett Matthews is another option, but there's a reason why Alex de la Torre moved over at the end of camp someone is needed.
I think if I was Aaron Benson, I'd walk into Mack's office and demand the move to fullback. It's not happening at linebacker for him right now and with three years of development at fullback, he might be a guy that could have a next-level future.
Fourth and one at OU 35-yard line with less than two minutes to go. Who gets the ball? Who is in the backfield?
Fourth and seven in the same situation. What's the play-call? The go-to receiver? What route?
The future of the tight end position feels somewhat precarious after the transfer of Darius Terrell. Heading into 2013, the Longhorns are scheduled to have junior Greg Daniels, sophomore M.J. McFarland, third-year project Miles Onyegbule, second-year player Caleb Bluiett and true freshman Durham Smythe available at the position (although Jake Raulerson could also help). That puts a lot of pressure on McFarland to be outstanding and leaves just a little wiggle room as it relates to injuries, lack of development or any other situation that might cause a player to not make it. The numbers will likely be just fine, but Terrell was a player that I think would have eventually made an impact in the line-up. I think he made a mistake.
Josh Cochran might be the best player on the Longhorn team that nobody nationally is saying a word about.
No. 2 - A reminder that the Longhorns aren't all the way back
Let's be honest and simply admit that the recent three-day NFL Draft was a reminder that the Longhorns might have taken some steps in the right direction in 2011 on the field, but the process of rebuilding the program into the image that it worked so hard to build for more than a decade isn't done overnight.
The Longhorns have had a lot of problems in the program that led to the recent 13-12 record over two seasons and many of them are layered and nuanced, but sometimes you don't need to make problems rocket science when simple math will do.
UT has lacked NFL talent for the last couple of seasons (in some areas it has been more than a couple) and it was on display for the first two days of the draft process when the Longhorns failed to have a single name called at the draft podium. Not on offense, not on defense none. Heck, even after a disastrous 2010 campaign, the Longhorns produced a pair of second-day picks. For a program that has produced as many NFL players in the last decade as any school in the entire country, the lack of draft selections was an indictment on both the player selection and development over the course of the last four or five years before the new regime under Mack Brown took over last year.
Of course, better days appear exist on the horizon, but this weekend served as a careful reminder that the Longhorns aren't there yet. That being said, Texas still had three players drafted on Saturday, so it wasn't a complete shutout and by the end of the day, a number of other players had signed free-agent contracts to keep the NFL dream alive.
Here's a quick review of what happened and an overview of what is being said and expected with each player's arrival:
Keenan Robinson: Was drafted in the fourth round by the dirty Washington Redskins and while he doesn't figure to compete for a starting position in year one, the expectations are that he could emerge as the long-term replacement for London Fletcher. All in all, it seems like a good landing spot for the former Plano East star.
Emmanuel Acho: Was drafted in the sixth round by the Cleveland Browns and he has a chance to make that team as a back-up linebacker and special teams player. That team needs so much help that he has a chance to carve out a nice niche for himself because the depth at WILL linebacker for the Browns is pretty meager. "This guy is a terrific kid, he really is, terrific player," Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. "He's very eager, he was one of those guys when I had him on the phone you could feel like he was going to jump on a flight today and get here."
Kheeston Randall: Was selected in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins, another team that needs as much help as it can absolutely get, especially if Randall can prove that he has the ability to play multiple line positions within Miami's 4-3 scheme. If he plays well this summer, he'll make the Dolphins.
Blake Gideon: Was signed as an undrafted free agent by Arizona. He's going to need to be a terror on special teams if he wants to make the Cardinals, a team that used a pair of draft selections on improving their secondary.
Justin Tucker: Was signed as an undrafted free agent by Baltimore and will go into camp competing against incumbent Billy Cundiff.
Christian Scott: Was signed as an undrafted free agent by Tennessee, another team that drafted two defensive backs. Special teams, special teams and more special teams.
David Snow: Was signed as an undrafted free agent by Buffalo, and would seem to have a chance to make the roster if he can beat out ex-Missouri second-teamer Colin Brown, who played in 11 games last season, but hasn't emerged as a true quality player. It's a long shot, but not out of the question.
<No. 3a - Breaking down the draft (First the Cowboys)
Let's start with my own personal demon that cannot be exorcized America's Team the Dallas Cowboys (in case you forgot).
Three days later and I still feel like the Cowboys made the most bold and emphatic move of the entire first night of the draft when they moved from No. 4 to No. 6 to take arguably the top non-quarterback in the entire draft. With Morris Claiborne's arrival, the Cowboys have gone from much better in the secondary (with the addition of Brandon Carr) to potentially elite at the corner position. When you consider how the Cowboys lost games last season, going all Malcolm X at the cornerback position is a plan I absolutely sign off on. In fact, I'm more excited about the trade for Claiborne today than I was three days ago.
That being said, I'm a little worried that when the dust settles, this draft class for the Cowboys is going to end up being Morris Claiborne and the Pips.
Six other players were drafted outside of Claiborne in rounds 3-7 and it sure felt like the Cowboys tried to outthink the room a few times, selecting high-upside projects and not more sure-thing contributors to a football team that leaves the draft with continued concerns in the interior of its offensive line, pass rush and at safety. That's not to say the Cowboys didn't select players that could help those areas of need, it's just that they went a little outside the box a few times and their history suggests that when they try to outthink the room, they end up being the punch line like the scene in the original The Karate Kid when Daniel bumps into the waiter that has a tray full of mess for his sexy white attire.
Let's take a look at what the Cowboys did outside of the first pick of Claiborne.
Third round (Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford): A lot of people really like this kid as a prospect, but it sounds like he might be more of a 2013 player than a 2012 player based on initial reports of his physical development and lack of consistent time in the weight room. The best-case scenario has this kid replacing Jason Hatcher and Marcus Spears in pass rushing situations at end and if he can give the team an immediate lift in that area in 2012, then this has a chance to be a good player. That being said, he doesn't look like a player that can come in and become a day one starter and the worst-case scenario is that he won't make an impact at all this season. It was a decent value pick because some people think he has a really high upside, but I would have liked them to beef up a little inside with Alameda Ta'amu, who would have potentially allowed Jay Ratliff to spend some time at end instead of nose-tackle.
Fourth round (Wake Forest OLB Kyle Wilbur): It was a long wait until the 18th pick in the fourth round and a lot of players I had my eye on went buh-bye in those first 17 picks, so the Cowboys took a flyer on Anthony Spencer's possible replacement in 2013. Like Crawford, the hope is that this kid can come in and immediately help the Cowboys as a situational pass rusher opposite Demarcus Ware. Considering that I was rooting for Ronnell Lewis to be the pick, I was thinking the same position, but a different player. Best case: Upgraded Victor Butler. Worst case: Brandon Williams. In order for this pick to be a hit, Wilbur has to represent an upgrade over Butler, both in the near- and long-term future.
Fourth Round (Eastern Washington S Matt Johnson): First of all, let's be fair this was the last pick of the fourth round, which means that it was a compensatory pick and there's quite a difference between pick No. 96 and No. 135, but they still should have been able to find more value at the slot than they did in a safety that few had rated as a fourth-round pick. More than any pick in the draft, this is where it felt like the train went off the tracks. There's some speculation that they wanted Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson, whom the Giants selected a few picks prior to No. 135, but they needed to come away with something more than a guy who can play special teams and might be a player down the road.
Fifth round (Virginia Tech WR Danny Coale): Is it possible this guy will contribute more as a slot receiver in three-receiver sets next season than any other draft pick not named Claiborne? Yeah, I'd say it's very possible. This might have been the best pick of the entire second day of the draft.
Sixth round (Oklahoma TE James Hanna): Solid pick. Solid value. Has a chance to be a contributor as a pass-catcher in two-tight end sets. I've always wondered why he didn't deliver more for the Sooners, but on paper he looks like a possible player.
Seventh round (Montana FB Caleb McSurdy): Total shot in the dark by the scouting department. They hope they can take this un-athletic interior linebacker and turn him into a quality fullback/special teams player. Meh. Good luck with that.
Overall, I'm willing to give this draft class a chance like I always do, but I'm prepared for the worst which would for me would be Morris Claiborne and the Pips. The bottom line is that the Cowboys scouting department hasn't earned the trust of the fan base (see No. 10 at the bottom) in this area and until they churn out a few stellar drafts from top-to-bottom, I'm going to have doubts when they draft guys that they liked more than everyone else.
No. 3b - Breaking down the draft (Now the Texans)
First of all, welcome to selecting at the back end of each round you better get used to it for a while. Second, when the dust cleared after three days, I thought the Texans were able to put together a very solid draft class that featured a potential top pass rusher in Whitney Mercilus and lot of quality in the middle rounds.
Let's take a look at the day two and three picks from the Texans:
Third round (Ohio State WR DeVier Posey): I have to be honest, trading out of the second round was not something I was a fan of because I thought taking LSU's Rueben Randle at No. 58 was a greater value than falling back into the third and settling for Posey, which was what they did in my opinion. Posey was a little bit of a surprise pick and a reach, but they filled a need with a big, solid receiver that has a chance to be upgrade over what they previously had this season, so the need was there if the value wasn't.
Third round (Miami (Ohio) OG Brandon Brooks): Nothing flashy here in picking this mauler of an interior prospect, but the offensive line needs some retooling with some of the turnover we've seen in the off-season and Brooks helps off-set some of that. Quality selection and decent value
Fourth round (Georgia center Ben Jones): I'm a fan of this pick because we're talking about a guy that has played a ton of quality football in the country's best conference. What he lacks in physical tools he makes up with in know-how and guts. The Texans probably needed a developmental tackle more than a back-up center, but I think this is a guy that will play in the NFL for a long time and (like Brooks) he upgrades the depth up-front.
Fourth round (Michigan State WR Kershawn Martin): Meh. Not my favorite selection. I probably would have preferred a double-down on an outside receiver and drafted Wisconsin's Nick Toon, but the Texans went with Martin, who has a lot of quickness and get-up, but he isn't a guy that I think will be more than just a pretty solid pro. That being said, he was a decent value and perhaps he'll emerge as a starter in the slot in a couple of years.
Fourth round (Nebraska DL Jared Crick): Crick isn't anything special as an athlete and he has some durability issues, but he can play some football and considering where they landed him, this might be one of my favorite picks. In landing Mercilus they found their pass rusher and in Crick they hope to have someone that can defend the run. I expect him to play right away.
Fifth round (Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock): It's pretty clear they had a thing for Bullock because in taking him in the fifth round, they pretty much screamed, "We want you and we're afraid someone else will pull the trigger." That's cool because the dude was a hell of a college kicker. He better be good, though because I thought Troy pass rusher Jonathan Massaquoi and Boise State safety George Iloka would have been a perfect fits and great values.
Sixth round (Purdue OT Nick Mondek): There's the tackle they needed for depth and development, but I don't know much about him other than I misspelled his name four times in about 15 seconds before finally getting it right.
Overall, there's not a lot of flash there, but there's substance with the way they've rebuilt their front seven and added quality depth on offense. Posey is a pretty key player for this draft and if he emerges as a quality starter outside at receiver opposite Andre Johnson, this class has a chance to be remembered as another nice little building block for a potential championship run. If Posey misses, they'll have missed an opportunity to really improve themselves at a need position with this draft. At the end of the day, it felt like a solid, unspectacular draft.
No. 3c - Breaking down the draft (The rest of it)
I hate to say it, but the dirty Eagles appear to have had one heck of a draft. From Fletcher Cox (whom I love) all the way down to their final three picks, I thought they came away with quality players and value in almost every spot. With Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and DeMeco Ryans, the soft underbelly of the Philly defense isn't so soft any more.
The only team that I thought did a better job from start to finish was Cincinnati. I cannot believe that franchise is going to become an envy of mine very soon. What world am I living in?
The draft just seemed to come right to the Steelers, who had three premium bug bodies fall into their lap in three of the first four rounds. They really seemed to upgrade their offensive line , while adding some needed talented youth on defense. Perhaps no Super Bowl contender from a year ago helped themselves more.
Unless you want to argue the Patriots, who went all-in this year on defense with six straight picks. I think we can all sense the urgency from Hoodie and Co.
Man, I'm not sure how much better the Vikings got this weekend. The Christian Ponder Era doesn't excite me at all right now.
Detroit is no longer a Longhorn stronghold. That's Sooner territory after this draft. I loved all three of their picks of Ryan Broyles in the second, Ronnell Lewis in the fourth and Travis Lewis in the seventh. I don't blame the Lions a bit.
I think the Giants had the best draft that few are talking about.
I didn't like the Bears' draft at all. Or Denver's or San Francisco's or a lot of others. Frankly, all of the Cowboys fans that were complaining this weekend should look at the draft hauls of each and every team. There's only a few that I would absolutely take over Dallas' class without thinking twice. Go ahead, take a look.
No. 4 - The Good, Bad and the That Can't Happen from the Disch
The Good: Three outs away from a three-game sweep in the final series between arch-rivals, the Longhorns dug deep inside and found a way to rally out a theft of a win on Sunday. One week after spitting the bit in his first weekend start in Big 12 play, Dillon Peters came back and delivered the goods on Sunday with four outstanding innings before turning the ball over to Corey Knebel. Those two combined to give the team a chance on Sunday while the line-up sucked the life out of the Disch.
The Bad: The Longhorns lost the final series against the Aggies and they'll never get that back, although they'll possibly play a fourth game in the Big 12 Tournament that could even the overall year, but it is what it is. All of the pitching on Saturday got curb-stomped and I'm just not sure what to think of Parker French going into the final stages of this season. The honesty of the season was exposed this weekend because A&M is simply a better team than them and whatever outside expectations exist about the post-season should remain modest.
That's Can't Happen: Eight errors that led to eight unearned runs in the two losses on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, twice the line-up was shut down for eight innings, only to find some mojo in the ninth. In all, the Longhorns failed to score a run in 22 of 27 innings played on the weekend.
No. 5 - MLB randomness
. Matt Kemp reminds me of Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi when he shows up to rescue Han Solo. We all knew Luke had some skills, but the last time we had seen him, Darth Vadar had taken his arm and his combat skills were a little shaky, so when he starts taking down Jaba's crew like they were chumps we were a little surprised. It was like we all said, "Oh, so this is what that Jedi stuff is supposed to look like." I feel the same way about Kemp earlier in the season. It's like, "Oh, so he's the best player in the National league? Oh, wow, yes, he is."
I want a Bryce Harper on my team. Where can you find one of those?
The early start to the season reminds me of something we'd see in the NFL, with teams like the Phillies, Angels and Tigers struggling to get above water, while the Nationals, Dodgers and O's play like contenders. It's a long 162 I keep reminding myself of that.
Watch out Washington, here come the Braves.
Adam Dunn seems like he's back to pretty much being Adam Dunn.
Albert Watch: .216/.266/.295 (0 HR) (down from .246/.300/.354)
Jonathan Singleton Watch : .368/.455/1.086 (last 10: .395/.452/1.216)
No. 6 - Thoughts from The Association
Highlight of the weekend: KD adds to his growing library of game winners .
Oh man, is this OKC/Dallas series going to be ridiculous, or what? Game one gave us a little bit of everything from a story-telling standpoint and I can't wait for more of the theater on Monday night. There's just so much that is delicious about this series.
KD and the Thunder needed that win in a bad way. After riding the Thunder to the Finals pick all season, I've backed off the prediction business in the last month because they have played so inconsistently and at times poorly. If they lose that game one, I really believe they would have been in a shaky mental position heading to game two. Coming back late and winning in the fashion that they did had to have refueled the confidence tank.
The Mavs let one off the hook in game one and they'll likely come back to regret it, if the stats about game one winners means anything at all. That being said, I think all of us that looked at the Mavs in the season and felt like they'd flip the switch in the playoffs feel a little vindicated because that was a hell of a road performance to stat this series. If Dirk keeps dominating in the fourth quarter and The Jet can find a way to outplay James Harden, they've got a chance.
Ho hum, the Spurs are really, really good and Tony Parker dominated the action in game one against the Jazz. This thing will be over next week when these two teams finally get around to playing game four. Maybe it goes five maybe.
The loss of Derrick Rose in this post-season, the upcoming Olympics and a huge chunk of next season's NBA is just a kick to the gonads if you love sports and its best players. Rose has battled injuries all season, but we've been anticipating a looming showdown with the Heat and now the hope for a truly great series between the two best teams in the East is gone. It's a total season-changing shift to the NBA landscape. Absolutely brutal.
The Bulls should be fine for at least the rest of the first round. My Sixers are not winning four of six against that group, period.
It feels like the Heat is going to have a pretty free run to the Finals. I can't see anyone other than the Celtics pushing them to six games right now.
The game that LeBron James played on Saturday in game one against the Knicks was beyond sensational. That game explained exactly why he's the MVP this season.
Dude, Mello you gonna even bother?
Dude, Indiana you're better than that.
Dude, Andrew Bynum I just don't know what to make of you.
No. 7 - They said what?
A look at the 10 most memorable Tweets from the last week on my timeline.
Pray for me and my kids now! They just witnessed their mother and a friend jump me in my room. She's going to jail n I'm pressing charges!
Txt from Andre Rison to Deion Sanders: "hey man, all they did is jump you. At least they didn't burn your f*ckin house down."
Herman Cain wanted to touch it. Republicans want to tell you what to do with it. Now Brian McNight wants to show you how it works?! FOH.
I'm out socially right now..Lots of girls.. Just conversation.. But they scared to sit next to me.The afraid of my elbows.Not a good feeling
It's a new day in marriage when one has to check the spouse's tweets in the morning to determine if the midnight make-up sex did the trick.
Still waiting to see if Weber State blocks John L. Smith's "transfer" to Arkansas. Or, do only amateur players have non-compete clauses?!
hey fellas, acting sensitive in the name of babyface? that's the worstest look ever.
YOU REALLY REALIZE HOW RACIST MIDDLE AMERICA IS WHEN YOU'RE ON XBOX.
Can you imagine the day former Baylor C Philip Blake is having? "OMG, Peyton Manning's hands are going to be under this a--!!!" Awesome!
@HPbasketball Duncan has been released from his cryogenic freeze.
No.8 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.
Movie trailer of the weekend: Promestheus - The International Launch Trailer.
WTF Headline of the Weekend: Death of Spy, Zipped Into Bag, Spawns Theories and Inquest
DECLARATION: Miranda Kerr + Victoria's Secret = Loveliness
I'm going to be pissed when Joshua Ledet gets voted off American Idol. It's pretty much a done deal that Phillip Phillips is going to win. There's simply too much cute white guy there that the teen girls can't keep from texting for him (see the last four seasons).
FTMFW: Charlize Theron at the White House Correspondence Dinner
Ummmmm: For you fellas that love a little junk in the trunk .
100-WORD MOVIE REVIEW: Five-Year Engagement (C+)
I love me some Judd Apatow and Jason Segal, but this movie missed the mark a little. Don't get me wrong, I got enough laughs out of it and the final scenes of the movie helped justify the experience, but these two have done better work. Had this been Three-Year Engagement instead of five I would have enjoyed it more, but you can only put a guy through so much before enough is enough. The big pieces of the puzzle were there, but they were missing too many to put the whole thing together. Bottom line: I went home disappointed.
No.9 -The List: Al Green
Things were all set for this to be Marvin Gaye week on The List, but then a funny thing happened the great Reverend Al Green came to Austin on Thursday and while he was in town he did an interview on The Drive .
Yes, the Reverend Al Green sang a little Let's Stay Together, Marvin and Aretha to me over the phone. Honestly, it was one of the coolest things ever, so we're taking an abrupt turn and pledging our love this week for the one and only son of a sharecropper from Forrest City, Arkansas.
9. So You're Leaving
8. Lay It Down
7. Simply Beautiful
6. Here I am (Come and Take Me)
5. Love and Happiness
4. I'm So In Love With You
3. Unchained Melody (better than the original)
2. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
1. Let's Stay Together
Coming up next week: Marvin Gaye
Previous Lists: 2-Pac, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Jeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Queen, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Gary Stewart , George Strait, TV Themes
No.10 - And finally
At 2:33PM on Saturday, I read the following post from PBR_StreetGang on the board:
"Facts and stuff.... Since 1994 (that would be 18 years for anyone counting), the Cowboys have had 7 guys total that they drafted in rounds 4, 5, 6, or 7 that actually went on to be regular starters. Seven. Got that from Norm earlier. That fact is sobering, if nothing else."
I saw it. I cringed. I nearly shed a team. I disbelieved. Right when I started to wonder if I was simply going through all of the stages of grief, I decided that I needed to find out for myself. Of course, in looking this information up, it means that I have to go through each of the last 18 drafts. Ugh.
Here's what I found
(Note: I bolded the names that
2000: Mario Edwards (3-year starter)
2002: Tyson Walter (3-year starter)
2003: Bradie James (7-year starter)
2005: Marion Barber (3-years-year starter)
2005: Chris Canty (3-year starter)
2005: Jay Ratliff (5-year starter)
2007: Doug Free (3-year starter)
2007: Nick Folk (3-year starter)
2011: Too early to completely write anyone off, but it doesn't look promising.
Geez, the data supports the claim if you dump Nick Folk from the discussion because he's a kicker. Even if we were to count players that had started for full two seasons, we'd only be adding Eric Bjornson and Darren Hambrick and couldn't even round the number to a dozen.