Juiced Sports Blog*: Writing Enhanced by Flaxseed Oil http://juicedsportsblog.com Writing Enhanced by Flaxseed Oil Mon, 07 May 2012 06:02:11 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.1 en hourly 1 Is pro football writing it’s own death certificate? — Can the game be safe, but retain what makes its great? http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/05/is-pro-football-writing-its-own-death-certificate-can-the-game-be-safe-but-retain-what-makes-its-great.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/05/is-pro-football-writing-its-own-death-certificate-can-the-game-be-safe-but-retain-what-makes-its-great.html#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 03:51:23 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6137 SCOTT JACOBS

The NFL is in a sticky wicket. It’s the most popular league in the United States by a wide margin, and with popularity, comes a closer examination than any other sport. Then you throw in former players, young in their early 40’s going the suicidal route – possibly due to head injuries sustained while playing the game – lawsuits everywhere (over 500 former players are involved with numerous class action suits suing the league for various post-career problems), and you’re left with a sport teetering on the edge of potential – and hear me out here – extinction.

Football is fun to watch. It’s exciting, it’s violent, it’s an amazing experience live, and almost as good in HD at your local sports bar or on your couch. People love to gamble on it, build fantasy football teams through it, and use it to bond with friends and loved ones. It’s a passion passed on from generation to generation – a game evolving as the equipment and rules have.

Take Thanksgiving as a prime example; Aside from the floats, turkey (or steak), and family, what is the common denominator that most people take part in – watching football. ESPN spends more time talking about the buildup to the NFL Draft than they do the NHL Playoffs. Granted they own the rights (along with NFL Network) to coverage of the draft, but that’s not the point.

Think about a Sunday in the fall without football – or for that matter, a weekend in the fall where no football is played at any level. Picture a world where the game has been deemed too violent, banned from being played like a controversial book is burned. Picture the end of pigskin.

Picture yourself at high school – no Friday night game. Now you’re in college – no Saturday game. Now it’s Sunday – picture being at a sports bar showing nothing but bowling, baseball, and golf.

***

The NFL has been around since 1920 (3 years after the NHL got it’s waterlegs) and it’s the most attended domestic sports league on Earth when it comes to butts in the seat per game.  It’s one of the few things in life promised every year. With the exception of lockouts you will get a season. It’s almost a guarantee. But at its core, the NFL is a business. And at its core plenty of businesses fail, even after surviving for over 100 years: The NFL is 8 years away from that banner season.

But when you think about dynasties, nothing lasts forever. Before people understood just how dangerous the sport was medically it was played far more ruthlessly than it is today. But those same guys who gave their blood, sweat, and tears to get the game to where it is today are suffering the physical consequences later in their lives.

Some struggle to get out of bed. Some can barely stand. Some are simply broken souls. Does this sound like a system that works? A sport designed for the longhaul?

Is the NFL writing its death-certificate courteous of its style of play – which attracted most of the guys now suing it, who are trying to break it for perceived broken promises and lies about doing whatever it took to make the game as safe as possible?

Has the NFL with-held information over the years about the dangers of concussions? That seems to be the argument these former players suing them are now making. And when one scavenger sees a carcass, a whole lot of ‘em follow, which is why you’re seeing former players pouncing on these class action law-suits.

Do these players just want money? Or do they want to break the sport that broke them?

It’s such a complicated, sad situation: this tussle between what makes the NFL great and what makes the sport so wrong. Because let’s face it – if concussions and horrific head injuries lead to what we’ve been seeing — guys like Junior Seau taking their life at the age of 43 (this hasn’t been confirmed as his brain will be examined), then how do you let this game go on in its present form? How do you let kids play a game that harbors within it the power to ruin one’s life?

***

I’ve never found myself saying this before, but football is too powerful for its own good. It’s gotten too big, that it’s out of control. Its greatest strength (violence) appears to be it’s greatest detriment (horrifying head injuries). The players are stronger than before and the way we’re cutting out rules to keep these hulking 4.3 running monsters from killing each other continues to grow.

Talk has grown louder about eliminating one of the games most exciting and dangerous plays – the kickoff. Afterall, it’s hard to think of a more battle-like play than running 40 yards down the field at full speed to tackle a guy using his speed to go towards you.

But let’s say the NFL eliminates the kickoff, and starts each post-scoring possession at the 20. What’s next? Eliminating down the middle crossing patterns because two guys can violently collide while going after the same football? We see quarterbacks getting blind-sided all the time. How can we fix that? By forcing a QB to stay in a goalie-like crease where he can’t be touched for at least 7 Mississippi?

Roger Goodell is trying to make football safer – or at least advance the perception that it’s safer, but if you rip the guts out of what makes the sport so popular, you’re left with just skin and bones – and a game that quite frankly could wilt away.

You can suspend guys, fine them heavily, you can send warnings, and preach about it all you want, but at the end of the day these are violent-minded guys playing a barbaric sport that demands of them Gladiator like toughness. They’re paid to act, not to think.

Their natural instinct is to kill the other guy (not literally I’d hope).

But if that instinct is leading to these horrible traumatic injuries, which lead to CTE, which in turn lead to an uncomfortable number of players taking their own lives shortly after exiting the game, then how do you fix a wildly successful, albeit broken model?

Sure you can get concussions playing lacrosse or hockey but football is the biggest sport around, and when you’re the biggest, you’re always under the brightest lights.

If I was a parent I wouldn’t let my kid play organized football. Period.

There is way too much risk. But I love watching it on TV. I love going to games. I love cheering my team out the tunnel, and taunting the other team after a big hit. So do a lot of people.

I love writing about it, analyzing it, and talking about it. Articles like this may seem to go against that, but I really do love football.

I just don’t love its future the way things are going. In fact, in a sport where betting is a part of the fabric, I’d put healthy odds that the game we know today, could very much be gone in the near future.

Unless of course, the NFL knows something that we don’t: Which is how to make the game safe, while maintaining its integrity. Right now unfortunately, those things sound way too contradictory.

Photo: Getty
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Holy Clips! LA pulls off shocker, overcomes 24 point deficit to stun Grizzlies http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/holy-clips-la-pulls-off-shocker-overcomes-24-point-deficit-to-stun-grizzlies.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/holy-clips-la-pulls-off-shocker-overcomes-24-point-deficit-to-stun-grizzlies.html#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 05:09:13 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6135 SCOTT JACOBS

48 minutes.

Not 40. Not 42. Not 46.

In the NBA if you don’t play every minute of playoff basketball with untempered enthusiasm and smarts, you could be prone to the pitfalls of history. And not the good kind.

It was 95-71 with 8 minutes remaining, the Grizzlies had the lead. And then Rudy Gay got into the lane, stopped, and hoisted up one last shot which clanked cruely off the front of the rim, and Eric Bledsoe, got the ball, threw it up in the air, and the Los Angeles Clippers bench came flying onto the court, soaking in the remnants of one of the more remarkable comebacks in sports history.

What. Just. Happened?

Every great comeback needs fuel, and the Clippers triggered their remarkable run from nowhere with 5 big-time threes, turning a deficit that was once as large as 27, into a shocking (and I mean shocking) win. Kenny Smith compared it to panicking when the house is on fire. To further the analogy, this was George Costanza running out twice in the infamous Bozo the clown Seinfeld episode. This was a complete implosion.

The Grizzlies were up by as many as 20 in a furious 1st quarter ignited by 3s. And they continued to hold their lead, belting it out to 27. Caron Butler hurt, the Grizzlies appeared on their way to coasting to an easy win.

And then, the wheels fell off. The car skidded out of control, and the Clippers finished first in a race that they were being lapped.

How did L.A. pull it off? Watch the highlights and you’ll see a flurry of open court points, that quickly monsoon-ed into a mammoth run, and by the time Memphis attempted to recover, they were drowning in their own mistakes. The Clippers outscored the Grizz 28-3 down the stretch, and as the lead dwindled, you could feel the tension and see the lack of movement. Add it all up, and you get a historic collapse/comeback, the likes we haven’t seen since the 2002 Boston Celtics shocked the Nets.

Almost 10 years ago, on May 25th, Boston charged back from a remarkable 21 point deficit to beat New Jersey. Yet, the Nets responded with 3 straight wins to take the series. So who knows, maybe this is just a blip.

Or maybe it’s a giveway that the Grizzlies will long rue, should this series turn on this comeback.

We shall see. For those who watched the end of this one, you really had to see to believe.

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Rose’s ACL injury a devastating blow to Bulls: another reminder that health is guaranteed to no one http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/roses-acl-injury-a-devastating-blow-to-bulls-another-reminder-that-health-is-guaranteed-to-no-one.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/roses-acl-injury-a-devastating-blow-to-bulls-another-reminder-that-health-is-guaranteed-to-no-one.html#comments Sun, 29 Apr 2012 05:45:14 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6126 SCOTT JACOBS

The Bulls have overcome adversity before. With their 2011 MVP Derrick Rose shelved for nearly 27 games in this lockout shortened season due to various injuries, Chicago banded together, showing an impressive resilience and team resolve that helped them finish off the best record in the NBA for the second consecutive season.

They beat some of the NBA’s elite without their no-nonsense, shy in the spotlight superstar, including the team many expected to be in their way as they headed towards the East finish line: the Miami Heat.

Still, the Bulls had developed the type of bench and team chemistry that most teams could only dream of, and they were a unit confident in their abilities to make a deep, championship like run with the uber-talented Rose.

And then, in the midst of a comfortable win over an over-matched Sixers squad, in the first game of the 2012 Playoffs, all that hope, all those dreams, were splattered like a bug. Rose weaved into the lane with the outcome pretty much secured, poetically using his pogo like bounce step to sift through the D, when his greatest opponent defeated him, potentially breaking the hope of a Bulls team ready to take the next step. His health got the best of his jump, and the result was excruciatingly painful.

Rose heard his knee buckle as he went to jump off of it, and he crinkled to the ground, writhing in agony, quickly sending a party atmosphere in the Windy City into complete and total horror. This was Chicago’s nightmare. Rose’s health had failed him once more.  This time it was his knee, not his groin, ankle, toe, or mid-foot. And the end result, announced shortly thereafter, was a stunning banner headline: Rose tears ACL, out for Post-season, Olympics.

Down for several minutes,  he held his hands behind his head, gritting his teeth in torturous disgust, finally grasping his knee as he laid on his side. He was assisted off the court, as he hobbled off in front of a stunned crowd, disappearing into the locker-room, maybe taking Chicago’s very realistic title hopes with him.

In one swoop, all the comfort of a relatively easy win over a talkative Philly team had gone out the window. Replaced by pain, frustration, and prayers.

The road paved like never before for the Miami Heat to get right back to the Finals.

Chicago has won without Rose before, but they did it in individual games, bite size portions, one might say. Given a seven game series to adjust, it’s hard to see guys like Taj Gibson, John Lucas, and Luol Deng carrying the Bulls far into the NBA’s marathon post-season without their scoring stud. It’s almost unfathomable.

For the Bulls, it’s no longer about one guy stepping up, it’s about the whole team doing it: night in and night out, because no longer do they have their superstar to rely on. Rose is the versatility, quickness, and speed that transcends the Bulls from good to elite. He is the engine behind their true aspirations.

The Bulls can push and shove all they want, but it’s going to take a Herculean effort without Rose. It’s going to take luck. It’s going to take a master coaching job by Tom Thibodeau. And even then, it’s probably not close to enough.

Can the Bulls catch lightning in a bottle and then use it to electrocute their opponent? They look likely to beat Philly, but even that’s no guarantee.

That’s sports for ya. In less than a game, the Bulls went from contenders to pretenders, and Rose’s health moving forward has to be nerve-racking. He’s a young guy, but his style is conducive to injury. The way he uses his athleticism and body to move around the D makes him an elite player. You just hope that this doesn’t zap him of his mobility or his pizzazz. You just hope he rebounds from this next fall and that this doesn’t become a nagging issue. Like D-Wade’s Converse catch phrase: you hope that he falls down 7 times, and gets up 8.

Right now we don’t know what the future holds for Rose, but we do know this. If Miami wasn’t under enough pressure already to win the East, well this puts a hammer on that.

It also reminds us of this: Anybody is vulnerable to injury. They’re after all, simply human.

Even the best conditioning in the world doesn’t always over-come the crazy quirks of the human body. Rose was untouched en-route to the lane, and then that buckle. It’s the sound Bulls fans feared, in the same way that Heat fans are on constant guard that D-Wade’s knee doesn’t give out in similar fashion. The human body is not a joy-stick, some of these moves are not natural. All it takes is one moment to change the dynamics. All it takes is one moment to flip the script right out the window.

For the Bulls that came at the worst possible time: at the starting line of a marathon.

Photo: Reuters
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Juiced Sports Presents: Day Two Edition http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/juiced-sports-presents-day-two-edition.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/juiced-sports-presents-day-two-edition.html#comments Fri, 27 Apr 2012 04:30:40 +0000 mkaye http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6116 MIKE KAYE
The first round is history and there are still two days of draft fun to be had. There were some surprises and a few rises as well as falls in the annual selection process. Juiced Sports takes an immediate look at how the draft could go on Friday evening.

Round 2

33. St. Louis: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

The Rams were able to take care of defense in the first with DT Michael Brockers from LSU. Now they can give their first round-worthy wide receiver in Stephen Hill.

34. Indianapolis: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

Andrew Luck needs someone to throw the ball to outside of Reggie Wayne and Luck is more than comfortable with Fleener who will come in and be his safety net.

35. Baltimore (MIN): Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California

Minnesota traded up with Baltimore and the Ravens grab Ray Lewis’ replacement in Kendricks. He’s a strong leader and a very good player.

36. Denver (TB): Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.

Denver traded out of the first and still gets value with Michigan State’s star defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. The Broncos needed a man in the middle and they don’t sacrifice value with this pick.

37. Cleveland: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

The Browns surprised everyone with their new quarterback in Brandon Weeden and have their running back in Trent Richardson, so they can now get their outside threat with Randle.

38. Jacksonville: Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia

Went WR in the first with their new number one in Justin Blackmon, but could still use some offensive line help. Glenn is a swing guy that will likely play guard and move Eben Britton out to right tackle.

39. St. Louis (WAS): Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

He fell out of the first round, but Jonathan Martin has talent and would be a great blocker for Sam Bradford.

40. Carolina: Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama

Courtney Upshaw is the best player on the board and gives the Panthers a pass rushing presence on the opposite side of Charles Johnson.

41. Buffalo: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

You have been thrilled if your Buffalo. You’ve totally upgraded your defense with Stephon Gilmore and Mario Williams, so you upgrade the offense in round two.

42. Miami: Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

The Dolphins got their QB of the future, now they have to get someone for him to throw to. Givens is an underrated playmaker who can start right away for Miami (by default?).

43. Seattle: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

The defense doesn’t need a ton of work, but Still offers a run stopping ability that the Seahawks lack.

44. Kansas City: Amini Silatou, OG, Midwestern State

The small school guy can fill the void that Brian Waters left when he went to New England. The Chiefs need a lot of help in their interior offensive line.

45. St. Louis (DAL): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jeff Fisher isn’t afraid of off-the-field issues and needs a guy opposite Cortland Finnegan and Jenkins’ talent fits the bill.

46. Philadelphia: Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State

The Eagles got their guy in the first with Fletcher Cox, now they need to upgrade outside linebacker. Wagner can play all three spots.

47. New York Jets: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

If the Jets want Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow to succeed, they need get them weapons outside of Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes. Sanu is a guy that is willing to be used in all situations and go across the middle. Perfect for Tony Sparano’s way of offense.

48. New England (OAK): Josh Robinson, CB, UCF

The Pats had a rough time on defense last season, and despite going defense with two picks in the first, they upgrade the secondary in the second.

49. San Diego: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

Antonio Gates won’t play forever and has proven to have injury issues. Allen can step in for Gates and learn from one of the best in the business.

50. Chicago: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

Despite the off-the-field issues, Johnson is a tremendous talent. He is likely to shore up the putrid secondary in Chicago.

51. Philadelphia (ARI): Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

The Eagles dealt Asante Samuel for a VHS copy of Gremlins 2 just before the draft; they get an upgrade at slot to fill his spot. Boykin is a prototypical nickel corner with tons of experience at the position.

52. Tennessee: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Branch falls in the draft in a big way, but the Titans reap the benefits and upgrades their defensive end position.

53. Cincinnati: Juron Criner, WR, Arizona

Criner is a playmaker and the Bengals have a ton of picks. While it’s a luxury, the Bengals need talent opposite A.J. Green.

54. Detroit: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma

The Lions need corner help and after taking care of their offensive line, they handle their secondary with a good player from a good school.

55. Atlanta: Peter Konz, OL, Wisconsin

Atlanta needs help with their interior offensive line, so with their first pick, they go safe with the center out of Wisconsin.

56. Pittsburgh: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Dennard has a lot of talent and can serve as a backup safety and slot corner while he matures his game.

57. Denver: Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State

Denver needs an heir to Peyton Manning and they pick him up in the second round. Osweiler has got a lot of fans in the league.

58. Houston: Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi

Releasing Eric Winston opened up at need at right tackle for Houston. They get a gem in Massie.

59. New Orleans: Forfeit

New Orleans has forfeited this pick due to punishments given by the NFL.

60. Green Bay: Lamar Miller, HB, Miami

Miller is a blazer and the Packers have no clear starter at running back.

61. Baltimore: Isiah Pead, HB, Cincinnati

Ray Rice may holdout with his Franchise Tag, so adding a great backup and potential fill-in is important.

62. San Francisco:  Casey Heyward, CB, Vanderbilt

Carlos Rogers is a Pro Bowler, but outside of him, the Niners lack talent at corner.

63. New England: Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH)

The Pats love adding through the lines, so they pick up Brooks who can play center and guard for New England.

64. New York Giants: Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska

The Giants have always struggled at linebacker, so they add a stud in David.

Round 3

65. Indianapolis: George Iloka, FS, Boise State

66. St. Louis: Zach Brown, OLB, UNC

67. Minnesota: James Brown, OG, Troy

68. Cleveland: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia

69. Tampa Bay: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

70. Washington: Ben Jones, OL, Georgia

71. Jacksonville: LaMichael James, HB, Oregon

72. Buffalo: Ladrius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette

73. Miami: Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri

74. Miami (CHI/CAR): Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California

75. Kansas City: James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada

76. Seattle: Keenan Robinson, ILB, Texas

77. Houston (PHI): Brandon Taylor, SS, LSU

78. New York Jets: Kelechi Osemele, OT/OG, Iowa St.

79. Oakland: Forfeited (2010 Supplemental Draft-Terrell Pryor)

The Raiders used this pick to draft Terrell Pryor in the 2010 Supplemental Draft.

80. San Diego: Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois

81. Chicago: Markelle Martin, FS, Oklahoma State

82. Arizona: Zebrie Sanders, OT, FSU

83. Dallas: Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska

84. Tennessee: Ron Brooks, CB, LSU

85. Cincinnati: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

86. Atlanta: Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma

87. Detroit: Brandon Washington, OG, Miami

88. Pittsburgh: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

89. Denver: Michael Brewster, OL, Ohio State

90. Philadelphia (HOU): Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

91. New Orleans: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

92. Green Bay: Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

93. Baltimore: Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas

94. San Francisco: Trent Robinson, FS, Michigan State

95. Cincinnati (NE): Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina

96. New York Giants: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

97. Oakland (compensatory): Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia

Photo: Getty

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Juiced Sports 2012 NFL Draft Running Diary http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/juiced-sports-2012-nfl-draft-running-diary.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/juiced-sports-2012-nfl-draft-running-diary.html#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2012 19:52:50 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6108 SCOTT JACOBS

Join us tonight on the site or on CoverItLive.com for our running commentary, thoughts, insight, and analysis on the 2012 NFL Draft. It’s sure to be a good time, and an interesting collection of characters that we’ll be breaking down. The fun starts at 7.

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Welcome to the Draft Circus! 8 Big Questions on the eve of the 2012 NFL Draft http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/welcome-to-the-draft-circus-8-big-questions-on-the-eve-of-the-2012-nfl-draft.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/welcome-to-the-draft-circus-8-big-questions-on-the-eve-of-the-2012-nfl-draft.html#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2012 19:02:23 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6104 SCOTT JACOBS

The NFL Draft is one giant crap shoot, but it’s also quite the circus. So we brought in our NFL Draft ringmaster, Mike Kaye to shed some light on 8 key NFL Draft questions. What did our NFL Draft expert have to say?

Here’s what we discussed:

1. Will Luck live up to the hype? 0:24
2. Luck or RG3? 0:54
3. Most underrated player in the draft? 1:56
4. Most overrated player in the draft? 2:58
5. Tannehill or Weeden? 3:47
6. Small school player poised to make a big time NFL impact? 4:36
7. Low character, high talent guy who can be a star? 5:38
8. Late round steal? 6:50

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The sad tale of the Suns: once a shining star, now buried in irrelevance http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/the-sad-tale-of-the-suns-once-a-shining-star-now-buried-in-irrelevance.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/the-sad-tale-of-the-suns-once-a-shining-star-now-buried-in-irrelevance.html#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2012 08:34:17 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6094 SCOTT JACOBS

Sports run in cycles. For most franchises, tasting victory consistently is a hard fought process, that takes years of great drafting, deft trades, and savvy personnel at the top. It takes luck, skill, vision, facilities, and an owner committed to some kind of winning.

You don’t just luck into a championship. Titles don’t fall from the sky. They are not a right. They are not promised. They are exclusive moments earned by the few lucky ones who squeeze through the tightly guarded gates.

That’s sports in a nutshell. For every Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, and Detroit Red Wings, there’s a bunch of other teams constantly trying to get over the hump, or to the hump, or close enough to see the light gleaming off the hump.

On Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns ran into that hump. Coming into the night as the 9 seed in a Western Conference only willing to admit 8, the Suns had to beat Utah in Salt Lake City to keep alive their playoff hopes. They lost.

But this was more than one team beating another. This was the sad, somewhat unremarkable end of an era.

The Suns don’t play their final game of this forgettable 2011-12 season until Wednesday, when they run into the fountain of youth Spurs, who keep trucking along as they reinvent their team slowly through a wheel of familiar faces and new youthful talent. Phoenix knows the Spurs well. If it wasn’t for the Alamo, Phoenix might’ve had a few championship parades in the first decade of the 2000’s.

Back then, the Suns had speed, effortless passing, a big man that could dominate, three point shooters that could stretch the court almost poetically, a once in a generation pass-first point guard who made everyone better, and a team that raced down the court sometimes in seven seconds or less, reviving a new type of basketball that got everyone’s attention.

Phoenix nonchalantly led the league in points way back when (usually hovering around 110), free throw percentage, and three point percentage. They were the most interesting, dynamic, well balanced unit in the sport. They were something else.

And now, they’ve been reduced to rubbish. An owner who has run the team into the bowels of mediocrity, Phoenix is in the worst place a team could be. They’re nowhere.  Phoenix’s favorite Sun is a free agent, despite his uncanny ability to still perform at career high levels, and after a nice, little run at the final playoff spot, its hard to think he comes back next year to do this dog and pony show all over again.

And why should he?

A once proud dominant franchise, which was the hottest ticket in the valley, was unable to sellout a single home game this season, and make all the excuses you want, that’s just a bit sad.

Sad because where they were, how they played, and what could have been.

Like life really. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

What if they had kept Rajon Rondo and not traded him? What if they signed Joe Johnson to the big deal Atlanta was willing to give him? What if they hadn’t traded Quentin Richardson? Or half of their first round picks for empty cash to fill their banker of an owner’s wallet. What if they hadn’t brought in Terry Porter? Or Shaq?

What if things had ended differently?

In sports you don’t get do-overs on the past, but you can re-load for the future. What Suns fans are ruing is what they had: all those 50+ wins seasons, games where 7 guys would get in double figures, threes falling from the sky, Amar’e rocking the rim, and Planet Orange going ballistic.

The Suns used to be a treat to watch. It was like watching a track meet. Nash would pick and roll with Stoudemire who would either go to the hole for a ferocious dunk or one of the wingmen would get a wide open three, swing it around the perimeter, before burying a jumper from long distance. It looked so seamless at times. So video-game-esque.

There was nothing like it in sports.

Slowly the players changed, the bench was broken, a coach was fired, wing-men shipped out, draft picks dealt for nothing, and the one constant was one, Steve Nash. The beautiful Ferrari that was running like a well oiled machine, resembled something closer to the car that Cameron kicked in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It was perfect, it was beloved, and then it was beaten to the ground.

And that quote: “You killed the car,” said Ferris to a shell-shocked Cameron.

The Suns had the prettiest, shiniest, most fun car to drive. And now, it’s a mess. It needs all kinds of fixes both inside and out. It’s old and worn down in some areas, new and un-broken in others. It looks weird, runs funny, and no longer stands proud in the driveway. People no longer admire it. It’s no longer a show-piece. It’s just another dingy automobile that used to be great.

The Suns used to be great. They were in many ways, special. But they never scaled Everest (aka: the Spurs), and then father-time caught up to them. They had to make decisions and they put their jewel in the wrong hands. Over the years what once was practically perfect turned nearly unrecognizable.

All that hope, that promise. Gone. A memoir of yester-year and the times where just getting to the Western Conference Finals was one stop short of the goal. Now, it’s been two years of no playoffs, and 3 in 4. The Suns, championship-less, yet far more successful than the majority of sports franchises since their inception 44 years ago, will likely be facing a makeover. One that could take years to perform. Screw up, and a decade could be lost. No one knows for sure.

They have no rising stars, just a host of broken toys revved up once more and a lot of quality bench guys who aren’t good enough to anchor a winner. They’re not bad enough to be broke, but not good enough to have a chance. They’re locked in nothingness.

Assuming Nash leaves for one last chance at a ring, they will have no stars. Mind-blowing given how loaded PHX was not too long ago. Talk about a fleeting memory.

In a town with 4 pro teams, their stock went up, soared into the clouds, and then crashed in a blaze of sadness smack dab in the middle of what could have been and what the hell do we do now.

The Suns are the college student who just graduated and stayed in their college town, clinging to all those great times. Locked into the nostalgia. Wishing they could get another crack at a time now passed. If they go home, they have to start over.How many people truly enjoy starting anew?

Sometimes it’s just safer to stay where you are. Phoenix infact, tried that for a few years, holding onto their iconic do everything point guard, Nash and Grant Hill, but with another season of middling mediocrity, the Suns find themselves smack dab in a horrible identity process. They can try to patch up a flawed car with some nicer parts or they can move on, count the memories, stick them in their back-pocket, and prepare for an unknown and hopefully eventually bright future.

Like the job market, the Suns have been rendered as nothing more than another face. They’re there, but so are a bunch of other suitors. It’s a crowded field, and a competitive market and it’s a scary thought when you don’t know what you want or who you want to be.

But that’s where they are.

Sometimes you have to face the music and admit to the reality. Other times you can try to get by with what you have.

The Suns tried to keep what little left that they had going. The music stopped.

There’s no more chairs.

An era is over.

That’s life. That’s sports.

That’s the vicious churning of the cycle.

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20 Predictions and Explanations for the 2012 NFL Draft http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/20-predictions-and-explanations-for-the-2012-nfl-draft.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/20-predictions-and-explanations-for-the-2012-nfl-draft.html#comments Sat, 21 Apr 2012 23:07:13 +0000 mkaye http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6080 MIKE KAYE

The 2012 NFL Draft is a few days away. With speculation at an all-time high, Juiced Sports looks into the Juiced Crystal Ball for answers.

1. Let’s start with an easy one: Every team that has a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick will draft at least one wide receiver at some point in the three-day period. This isn’t the most stellar group of WRs ever, but it is one of the deepest. You can get a quality guy all the way up until, at least, the fifth round.

2. Quintin Coples is a going to be the biggest slider of the first round. Stephon Gilmore will be the fastest riser on Thursday. Not due to talent, but due to work ethic.

3. Minnesota will pass on Matt Kalil (either because they trade down or decide to draft Morris Claiborne, CB from LSU. Not a huge fan of that potential move because as  I’ve stated before, I think Kalil is the best prospect at his position since Jonathan Ogden.

4. The Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be a first round pick in 2012. Depending on where they go, I would say Harrison Smith (safety) of Notre Dame or Ronell Lewis (pass rusher) of Oklahoma, could fit the bill.

5. There will be at least three trades within the first 12 picks (not counting the Skins-Rams deal for RG3). My guess is that the Rams, Browns, and Panthers will be involved.

6. After his recent assault arrest, Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska, will get the LaGarrett Blount treatment and go undrafted. A short time ago, Dennard was considered a Top 25 pick. You throw bows, that’s how it goes. Not to mention, his obvious lack of speed. He’ll make a roster as a fourth safety, not as cornerback, like he played in college.

7. Oakland and new GM, Reggie Mackenzie, will deal with what they’ve been dealt. Mackenzie will trade back, at least twice, to acquire more youth. Mackenzie has made a lot of good decisions, considering Oakland’s cap issues and lack of draft picks.

8. Justin Blackmon will fall to the Jaguars and they’ll pass him up and trade back to draft Michael Floyd. There is simply not enough separation between the two players. Floyd is bigger but has character and injury issues. The Jags definitely want out of their current pick, which is by far the least enviable pick in the draft when you have as many needs as they do.

9. The Buffalo Bills will trade up to grab USC offensive tackle, Matt Kalil, if he falls past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at pick five. I think Minnesota would be wrong to pass on him but the Bills would reap the benefits.

10. One team will double dip on Miami Hurricanes (my guess: the New York Giants with Lamar Miller and Tommy Streeter). Miller would replace Brandon Jacobs, and while they have two completely different styles, Miller can move the chains and adds a play-making ability to the position. Streeter would replace Mario Manningham in the long run.

11. Mike Adam’s love for weed will not push the Ohio State offensive tackle out of the first two rounds. North Alabama cornerback, Janoris Jenkins’ similarities to Antonio Cromartie in the parenting department, will knock him out of the first round. Jenkins is a Top 10 talent but his off-the-field issues have to scare both teams and scouts. If you’re a team that digs giving out cash advances, be my guest.

12. Whoever gets drafted by the Minnesota Vikings will be renting. The Vikes are not long for Minnesota. The whole situation is deplorable. Vikings’ owner, Zigi Wulf, wants to stay, but the state government isn’t budging. They don’t realize what losing a professional football team does to your city and/or state. Maybe they should ask Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston how that goes.

13. Kansas City will take a quarterback in the first two rounds. Matt Cassel is a good player, but he isn’t a “franchise guy.” He’s the starter this season, but after that, anything goes.

14. Players with return ability will be over-drafted. FIU’s T.Y. Hilton and Florida’s Chris Rainey will be taken in the late-2nd/early 3rd round despite having 4th or 5th round ability at their “primary” positions. This is understandable considering the lack of quality special teams in the league at this time.

15. This is a big year for rotational defensive linemen. While the defensive end class isn’t stellar, plenty will be taken early by teams with an already full stable at the position. Best “rotational” defensive end in this draft is Virginia’s Cam Johnson.

16. With teams passing more than 50% a game, the need for quality cover guys is on the rise. The third round will see a large run on nickel and spot-starting corners. Best of the bunch: Dwight Bentley of Louisiana-Lafayette. Don’t let the small school fool you; this kid can play.

17. Alas, Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State, will be drafted…in the Canadian Football League. As many pundits have said, he’s not a very good player. His Combine and both Pro Days were considerably disastrous. The once-1st round pick is now likely a camp body. It’s probably 50-50 on if he will make an opening day roster.

18. The Tyson Alualu (high draft pick you’ve never heard of) Award will go to Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State. The mammoth offensive guard (6-4, 311) will be taken early in the 2nd day of the draft.

19. There will be at least three veteran player trades during draft weekend. The likely suspects are Denver running back Knowshon Moreno, Philadelphia cornerback Asante Samuel, and pretty much anyone on the Raiders.

20. While many fans love short-passers Russell Wilson of Wisconsin and Kellen Moore of Boise State, neither will be drafted before the 3rd round. Most people say they won’t get drafted because of there size, but if you watch them carefully, they both have major flaws that were protected by their offensive schemes. Wilson is likely a career back-up and spot starter. Moore is going to be wishing that NFL Europe still existed.

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Juiced Sports Presents: 2012 Mock Draft, Final Edition http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/juiced-sports-presents-2012-mock-draft-final-edition.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/juiced-sports-presents-2012-mock-draft-final-edition.html#comments Wed, 18 Apr 2012 21:14:12 +0000 mkaye http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6071 MIKE KAYE

With the draft just a week away, draft boards are likely set in stone. After numerous mock drafts, we at Juiced Sports give you one last look at what can happen next week. As always, a few surprises are promised in this three round mock.

Disclaimer: Remember these picks are not who I would take at each position, but who I think the teams will select with the scenarios given. With so many picks, I will not be conducting trades in order to maintain accuracy.

Round 1

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

While it hasn’t been reported, with a week to go, negotiations have likely started between Luck’s agent and the Colts. Luck has a high ceiling and a high floor which makes him a rarity in quarterback draft picks. That’s why he has to be the number one pick in this draft. You won’t have to worry about him being Ryan Leaf or Matt Leinart. At worst, he’ll be Carson Palmer with mobility.

2. Washington Redskins (STL): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

RG3 will answer a lot of Washington’s issues on offense, as long as Mike and Kyle Shanahan mold their plans to his strengths. Griffin is a superb athlete who has a higher ceiling but a much bigger boom or bust ratio than Luck. No matter what happens with Griffin, this pick is a victory for a now-dormant franchise.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Vikings GM Rick Spielman seems to be down on drafting an offensive tackle so early. While a lot of pundits see that as a smokescreen, I do not. Remember, these picks aren’t what I would do, they are what I think the teams will do. With that said, the Minnesota secondary is awful and Claiborne in a top five player in this draft. He also have return ability, so that’s less damage for Percy Harvin.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, HB, Alabama

Trent Richardson is a premiere playmaker with a pedigree to match. The Browns do need help at wide receiver but no prospect at that position is worth taking here (trust me). The most important thing for Cleveland, is to successfully get the ball out of Colt McCoy’s hands.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

With the Vikings’ pick, Kalil (who I think is the best offensive tackle prospect since Jonathan Ogden) falls. The Bucs lose out on Claiborne, who they were targeting. Kalil has phenomenal value here, so a trade is very likely, but for this article’s sake, Kalil goes to the Bucs. This move would allow Donald Penn to swing to the right tackle spot where he is a huge upgrade over Jeremy Trueblood.

6. St. Louis Rams (WAS): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.

Cox has climbed draft boards in the last few months and the Rams have a ton of draft picks to fill all of their many needs. The Rams lack a true presence in the middle of their defensive line and Cox can do it all. A lot of readers may see this as a reach, but Cox is by far the best defensive lineman in the draft and will be Pro Bowler before you know it.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.

The Jags need playmakers, especially with MJD sitting out for a new contract and Laurent Robinson as their number one guy. Blackmon has all the tools needed to be a top guy and Jacksonville lacked threat since Jimmy Smith left town years ago.

8. Miami Dolphins: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Miami needs to be smart with this pick after failing to get Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, RG3 and trading Brandon Marshall. The last move means they have no one to throw the ball to, which would make a really tough assignment for a rookie QB. Ryan Tannehill has always been a reach here, so passing on him is not a horrible decision. Floyd gives the Fins size and talent at the wide receiver position. He can be a Pro Bowler.

9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

After missing out on Cox, the Panthers solve their interior issues with Brockers. While he is a bit of a one-year wonder, he has enormous potential. He is already a monster against the run, but he has the measurements and athleticism to excel in rushing the passer as well.

10. Buffalo Bills: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Bills are the likeliest candidate to trade up for Kalil if the Vikings, Browns, and Bucs want to field offers. As I’m not opening up the labyrinth that is mock trades, the Bills are stuck at 10. Dre Kirkpatrick made a bonehead mood before the Combine, but there is no questioning his talent. The Bills ranked in the bottom three of virtually every passing defensive category. Kirkpatrick’s size and coverage skills will be welcomed.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

The Chiefs are in this position because of injuries, not a lack of talent. The team just doesn’t have a ton of needs, so they go with competition at their most important spot. Tannehill falls to KC, who looked at adding Peyton Manning this off-season. Matt Cassel is a good player, but the Chiefs need someone to push him to be great and eventually take over him.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Seattle lacks pass rushers outside of Chris Cleamons who is getting older. Ingram may be the best pass rusher in the draft and would definitely help Pete Carroll’s defense. With Floyd, Blackmon, and Tannehill gone, this pick is an easy one.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Reily Reiff, OT/OG, Iowa

The Cardinals have constantly struggled to protect their quarterbacks, no matter who they are. With John Skelton’s lack of mobility and Kevin Kolb’s injury history, protecting them is more important than ever. Reiff projects as more of a right tackle but can play most positions on the line. While I am not a huge fan of his, I think the Cardinals take the big man from Iowa.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Quintin Coples, DE/DT, UNC

This a great spot for Dallas to be in. They have the choice of David DeCastro, Mark Barron, and Coples, who are all high their boards (IMO). The ‘Boys lack a pass rushing presence in their front, so they go with the talent of Coples over the stability of DeCastro and the need for Barron. Coples falls because of his reported lack of enthusiasm for the sport and his work ethic.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

Much like Dallas, this scenario is beneficial for Philly. Kuechly led the nation in tackles the past two seasons and that is one of Philly’s biggest weaknesses. With Cox and Brockers off the board, Keuchly can be the short term answer at SAM linebacker and could eventually take over for the newly-acquired DeMeco Ryans in the middle.

16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama

Rumors are that the Jets really want Melvin Ingram, but since they missed out on him , they add another pass rusher. Upshaw has gone up and down boards since the BCS Championship game, but this is likely good value for him. The Jets need a guy who can get pressure on the quarterback as well as other teams get pressure on Mark Sanchez.

17. Cincinnati  Bengals (OAK): David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

As the Bengals continue to evolve their offense, keeping Andy Dalton upright, should be one of their biggest concerns. With numerous early round picks, the Bengals can go for the offensive line in the first. DeCastro has multi-Pro Bowls written all over him.

18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC

Much like the Jets, the Chargers need a REAL pass rusher. They go local with Perry who is fireball with long arms. The Chargers could go wide receiver here, but pass rusher is much more likely.

19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

The Bears failed to take away protection from Julius Peppers last season, which hurt against opposing offenses. Mercilus hasn’t got a tremendous amount of success in college on his resume but he was lights out last season. The Bears should be familiar with him as a he’s a local product with huge upside.

20. Tennessee Titans: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

The Titans are likely to take the best defensive player on the board that isn’t a safety. Jones has been a huge riser in recent weeks, with his Pro Day and Combine. He is the best defensive end available and I expect him to go around here.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

This is a huge coup for the Bengals. With Chris Crocker on the streets, Barron can definitely fill his role. The safety from Alabama is the best at his position and would be a huge upgrade for the Cincy secondary.

22. Cleveland Browns (ATL): Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

The moto for the Browns this draft is: “we need playmakers.” At this point, the value is kind of low for number one guys with Kendall Wright and Mohamed Sanu likely slot players. The best safety valve for a young QB is a great tight end and Fleener is the best of the bunch.

23. Detroit Lions: Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia

Glenn was originally projected as a guard but with an explosive Combine and Pro Day, scouts are starting to see him as a tackle. Glenn can begin his career at right tackle and then eventually take over for Jeff Backus on the left side.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis

The key to a successful 3-4 defense is a nose tackle. Poe has a ton of potential but little to show for it in college. The Steelers are great at developing talent so they take flyer on Poe.

25. Denver Broncos: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Andre Caldwell is a decent player, but Peyton Manning can always use more playmakers. Wright is a guy who can play outside but can thrive in the slot and in the return game. The Broncos would love to add a defensive tackle here, but the premiere guys are gone.

26. Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

As much as Stephen Hill would be a welcomed site in Houston, with Eric Winston on the Chiefs, the Texans really need a right tackle. Martin slides down to 26 for a lack of faith in his athleticism. A lot pundits view him as a right tackle so he loses value. Houston will take advantage of other team’s lack of interest.

27. New England Patriots (NO): Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

The Patriots have added tons of wide receivers in the off-season but they still lack size at the position. Randle is still developing but can be used as a redzone target right away.

28. Green Bay Packers: Jerel Worthy, DE/DT, Michigan St.

The Packers missed Cullen Jenkins last year. Worthy is a guy with similar five-technique, pass rushing ability. He has a high motor and size that could improve the defensive front of the former champs.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Andre Branch, OLB/DE, Clemson

The Ravens let starter, Jarrett Johnson, walk in free agency, so they need a guy on the strong side of their 3-4 defense. Branch can serve as a bookend to Terrell Suggs.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

They may have added Randy Moss, but Hill reminds me of a younger version of him. What a better way for Hill to learn how to play like Moss, then having Randy on the team with him? Hill has great size and speed and would settle the Niner’s wide receiver position.

31. New England Patriots: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

Bill Belichik is a fan of linebackers and needs a guy next to Jerod Mayo in the middle. Hightower has a winning pedigree and would be a big upgrade over the departing Gary Guyton (signed with the Dolphins).

32. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

The Giants have very few holes as the defending champs, but one place they can afford to upgrade is at offensive tackle. Kareem McKenzie is gone, so they need a replacement as a starter. Adams is a good player who can the Giants can plug-and-play right away.

Round 2

33. St. Louis: Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi

The Rams need to get protection for Sam Bradford and Massie is the best left tackle on the board.

34. Indianapolis: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

With Fleener gone, Allen becomes the Marcus Pollard/Dallas Clark for Andrew Luck.

35. Minnesota: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Minnesota passed on Blackmon and get a great potential with Jeffery, who could turn out to be the stud of this class (doubt it though).

36. Tampa Bay: Lamar Miller, HB, Miami

The Bucs have become one-dimensional in their running game with LaGarrett Blount, so they add some lighting to his thunder with Miller.

37. Cleveland: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Sheldon Brown is getting older and may transition to safety, so Cleveland needs someone opposite Joe Haden. Jenkins may have character issues but there is no doubting his talent.

38. Jacksonville: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

After going offense with their first pick, the Jags go pass rush with Curry who is a monster of a man.

39. St. Louis (WAS): Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska

The Rams need a weakside linebacker and David is a guy who can solve those problems and be a star in Jeff Fisher’s defense (he’s one of my dark horses for Defensive Rookie of the Year).

40. Carolina: Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State

Carolina has a ton of injury-prone backers, so it makes sense to add depth. Wagner can play all three spots much like Dan Connor who left in free agency.

41. Buffalo: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

Buffalo passed on Reiff in the first, so they have to go tackle in the second. Sanders needs a bit of work, but he can start at right tackle if needed.

42. Miami: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma St.

The Dolphins were smart with their first pick (finally), so they add a QB in the second to throw to Floyd. If Weeden was 24, he’d be a top ten pick.

43. Seattle: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin

This is kind of low for Zeitler but Seattle loves the value and takes him to replace Robert Gallery.

44. Kansas City: Peter Konz, OL, Wisconsin

Casey Wiegmann can’t play forever and Konz is the best center in the draft. Konz comes from the offensive lineman factory in Wisconsin and can start right away.

45. Dallas: Doug Martin, HB, Boise State

Dallas is rumored to be shopping Felix Jones (can’t say I blame them), so adding a guy to the mix is important. DeMarco Murray is definitely the starter, but he is injury prone so it’s good to have a backup that can start. Martin is potential first round pick.

46. Philadelphia: Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut

With linebacker taken care of, the Eagles add depth to their rotation at defensive tackle. Reyes has the athleticism to thrive in Jim Washburn’s Wide 9 formation.

47. New York Jets: Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame

The uncertainty surrounding Jim Leonard (will he sign?) means the Jets have questions at safety. Smith can fill Leonard’s role right away.

48. New England (OAK): Devon Still, DE/DT, Penn State

The Patriots keeps adding to their defense that really struggled last year. Still was initially considered a first rounder, but I think he fits in the second.

49. San Diego: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Quentin Jammer is no spring chicken, so it would serve San Diego well to add a youth at corner. Dennard can play safety or corner, so he could fill the void at strong safety if Bob Sanders doesn’t stick around.

50. Chicago: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

Amobi Okoye is no longer in Chicago, so a good run stopper is needed. Thompson is a bit raw but can provide depth immediately.

51. Philadelphia (ARI): Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

Asante Samuel is likely to be traded and Joselio Hanson was exposed in the slot last season, so the Eagles go nickel corner with Boykin. The little dude from Georgia spent most of his time in the slot, so Boykin wouldn’t need to adjust all that much to the position.

52. Tennessee: Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida

Cortland Finnegan is no more, so the Titans added a speedy corner to take his place. Robinson will provide good competition for Tennessee’s young secondary.

53. Cincinnati: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

The Bengals need a guy that’ll compliment A.J. Green. Sanu can be plugged in the slot and play a Welker-like role for the Bengals.

54. Detroit: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma

The Lions need help in their secondary and Fleming comes from a good program, where he clearly excelled. He won’t start right away but he could be a difference-maker down the road.

55. Atlanta: Zach Brown, OLB, UNC

With the arrival of new defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, there has been a lot of transition at linebacker for the Falcons. Sean Weatherspoon and Akeem Dent are two starters, but they need a guy on the weakside. Brown needs to be motivated, but he has plenty of talent if chooses to use it.

56. Pittsburgh: David Wilson, HB, Virginia Tech

Rashad Mendenhall is likely to miss this season, while recovering from injury. Wilson not only fills his spot now, but likely for the future as well.

57. Denver: Jared Crick, DT/DE, Nebraska

Denver went offense in the first round but still need a run-stopper at defensive tackle. Crick is a good player, who excels against the run and could start right away.

58. Houston: Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California

DeMeco Ryans is in Philly and Daryl Sharpton is pegged to start in his place in Houston. With Sharpton in the starting lineup, the Texans could use some depth. Kendricks was a standout at Cal and could provide some great competition for Sharpton next to Brian Cushing.

59. New Orleans: Forfeit

New Orleans has forfeited this pick due to punishments given by the NFL.

60. Green Bay: Chris Polk, HB, Washington

The Packers running game was awful this past season, so with Ryan Grant being shown the door, Polk comes in to add some energy to the backfield.

61. Baltimore: Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa St.

Ben Grubbs is no longer with the Ravens, so they need to find a new left guard. Osemele could start right away.

62. San Francisco:  Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

The 49ers have a great defense put could always add depth. Hosley was widely successful at Va Tech and could be make an immediate impact as a nickel corner.

63. New England: Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

The Pats want to improve their pass rush and Lewis excels at that. He will be a starter by mid-season.

64. New York Giants: Bernard Pierce, HB, Temple

The Giants need to add a runner to their rotation and Pierce absolutely blew up at his Pro Day. Pierce could eventually be the starter as Ahmad Bradshaw’s career comes to a close.

Round 3

65. Indianapolis: Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia

The Colt’s new 3-4 defense needs a lot of pass rushers with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in their 30’s. Irvin can start out as a rotation guy and then ascend to the starting lineup.

66. St. Louis: Ben Jones, OL, Georgia

Stephen Jackson needs holes to run through and Jones’ big body can open those gaps.

67. Minnesota:Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California

Minnesota teams Mitchell Schwartz with his brother Geoff to (at least attempt to) improve their deplorable offensive line.

68. Cleveland:Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan St.

Colt McCoy hasn’t been a “franchise guy,” so the Browns bring in competition with Cousins.

69. Tampa Bay: Sean Spence, OLB, Miami

Tampa Bay is a little light at linebacker and Spence can start right away at weakside, as the Bucs double dip on the U.

70. Washington: Billy Winn, DE, Boise St.

The Redskins could afford to upgrade, as Kentwan Balmer and Adam Carriker aren’t going to scare anyone. Winn is a WINNer (yes, the caps were on purpose).

71. Jacksonville: Orsen Charles, TE, Georgia

Mercedes Lewis struggled last year, so going to a two-tight end formation could be beneficial. Charles is a big body that can block and get open.

72. Buffalo: Juron Criner, WR, Arizona

Buffalo needs a guy a opposite Stevie Johnson and Criner has size and speed that can take some of the attention away from him.

73. Miami: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise St.

This is a little low for McClellin, but I am not so sold on him being a pro defensive end. The Dolphins like his potential and versatility, so they grab him.

74. Miami (CHI/CAR): Josh Kaddu, OLB, Oregon

The Dolphins are running a hybrid defense, so in a 4-3 look, they need a weakside guy. Kaddu could fill that need.

75. Kansas City: Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington

The Chiefs have lacked a strong nose tackle since they transitioned to a 3-4. Ta’amu is the perfect fit for Romeo Crennel’s defense.

76. Seattle: Mike Martin, DT, Michigan

Seattle continues to add value and depth to their defensive line with Martin. He’ll start by year two.

77. Houston (PHI): Markelle Martin, FS, Oklahoma St.

While the secondary did improve with Wade Phillips calling the plays, they still could upgrade over Daniel Manning at free safety.

78. New York Jets: Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas

Outside of Santonio Holmes, there isn’t much at wide receiver for the Jets. Childs would be, at worst, their third best pass catcher.

79. Oakland: Forfeited (2010 Supplemental Draft-Terrell Pryor)

The Raiders used this pick to draft Terrell Pryor in the 2010 Supplemental Draft.

80. San Diego: LaMichael James, HB, Oregon

The Chargers really missed Darren Sproles last year and adding James can give them the wildcard guy they need to replace him.

81. Chicago: Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Losing Zachary Bowman won’t hurt, but the Bears could use some youth in the secondary. Bentley is a small school prospect with big league ability.

82. Arizona: James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada

Arizona needs to give Daryl Washington some help in the middle and Johnson is just what the doctor ordered in this scenario.

83. Dallas: Brandon Washington, OG, Miami

The Cowboys signed a few veterans for their interior line, but youth is needed for the future. Washington is a raw blocker but has the potential to be great.

84. Tennessee: Demario Davis, OLB, Arkansas St.

Davis is one of the gems of this draft. While he may not have a huge following, I think he can be a starter for the Titans who lack depth at linebacker.

85. Cincinnati: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

Leon Hall is coming off a major injury, so they need to cover themselves in case he struggles to come back. Minnifield still needs to improve his cover ability but he gives the Bengals depth.

86. Atlanta: Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette

Tony Gonzales can’t play forever but Green can serve as a backup until Gonzo is ready to hang it up.

87. Detroit: Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia

The Lions seem to have a ton of defensive line talent but with Kyle Vanden Bosch getting up there in age and Cliff Avril not happy with the Franchise Tag, adding depth is important.

88. Pittsburgh: Josh Chapman, DE/DT, Alabama

The Steelers love adding to their front and Chapman is a great player with a championship pedigree.

89. Denver: George Iloka, FS, Boise St.

Brian Dawkins is likely to retire, so the Broncos needs to fill his spot on the roster. Iloka is a good player that can player either safety spot.

90. Philadelphia (HOU):  Chris Rainy, HB/KR, Florida

The Eagles need a running back and a kick returner. After flirting with Darren Sproles last year, they pick his clone in Rainey.

91. New Orleans: Ron Brooks, CB, LSU

Tracy Porter took his talents to Mile High, so Brooks replaces him with the Saints first pick in the draft.

92. Green Bay: Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona St.

Mike McCarthy loves developing quarterbacks and Osweiler is definitely a project.

93. Baltimore: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

Baltimore drafted Jimmy Smith last year and have Ladarius Webb, but could use a good nickel corner. Johnson is a great player who is suffering from his off-the-field issues.

94. San Francisco: Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri

Egnew is a serious playmaker and would allow the Niners to give Alex Smith a two-tight end look.

95. New England: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

The annual cornerback pick for the Patriot is the talented Casey Hayward. Congratulations.

96. New York Giants: Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin

The Giants take Toon to replace Mario Manningham.

97. Oakland (compensatory): Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas

The Raiders spend their first pick on a talented linebacker, Robinson, who could start right away on the outside.

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Wade: ‘I do not want to be paid to go to the Olympics’; Should Olympians be compensated? http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/wade-%e2%80%98i-do-not-want-to-be-paid-to-go-to-the-olympics%e2%80%99-should-olympians-be-paid.html http://juicedsportsblog.com/2012/04/wade-%e2%80%98i-do-not-want-to-be-paid-to-go-to-the-olympics%e2%80%99-should-olympians-be-paid.html#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 07:09:09 +0000 sjacobs http://juicedsportsblog.com/?p=6066 SCOTT JACOBS

Just a day after stating that he felt Olympic basketball players should be paid, creating a fascinating national debate about the essence of the Olympics, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade retracted his statement on Thursday, saying, “I do not want to be paid to go to the Olympics.”

But what do you think? Should Olympic US basketball stars get paid for the time they put into training camps and the extra wear and tear they put on their bodies? The consensus here is that no, it should be enough of an honor to carry your country’s colors and that money should be the last thing from an athlete’s mind, especially one as rich as an NBA player. Just because Wade took back his statement, doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel like he should be compensated, just like Ray Allen feels. And if pros want to get paid, why not replace them with amateurs, who would kill for the opportunity?

Should Olympians be compensated? Or is the experience and the camaraderie enough to last a lifetime?

Just a day after stating that he felt Olympic basketball players should be paid, creating a fascinating national debate about the essence of the Olympics, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade retracted his statement on Thursday, saying, “I do not want to be paid to go to the Olympics.”

But what do you think? Should Olympic US basketball stars get paid for the time they put into training camps and the extra wear and tear they put on their bodies? The consensus here is that no, it should be enough of an honor to carry your country’s colors and that money should be the last thing from an athlete’s mind, especially one as rich as an NBA player. Just because Wade took back his statement, doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel like he should be compensated, just like Ray Allen feels. And if pros want to get paid, why not replace them with amateurs, who would kill for the opportunity?

Should Olympians be compensated? Or is the experience and the camaraderie enough to last a lifetime?

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