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Browns/Ravens preview.

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Oniel Cousins matches up today with Chris Canty… a member of the Ravens’ depleted defense.

I doubt I’ll be in the business of previewing games but in this case, it seems like a lot of points are being missed.  Since it’s not fun or fair to point these out after the game here are the factors the will lead to an easy Ravens -7 cover.  (And super easy current Ravens -6.5.)

1.  Chris Canty versus ONeill Cousins.  
It’s amazing what you can do when you can sign 30 year olds, when you don’t have to save salary for some unknown reason and when you don’t paint yourself into a corner with rigid get younger edicts.  The Ravens spent $2.8M in guaranteed money for a guy good enough to start 16 games for a SB winner two years ago.  He’s 30.  He’ll be occupying ONiel Cousins as a 34 DE.  Canty got a +2.3 rating from PFF last week; Cousins .  And this likely leaves Mitchell Schwartz without help against Terrell Suggs.  Does any of this sound familiar?  (PS, Oniel Cousins is 29.  IRONY!)

Click for full size viewing of the hole Ozzie dug himself. Consider that he drafed Matt Elam (for Reed) and Arthur Brown (for Ellerbe) and, hate to say it, but he actually did pretty well filling the holes.

Sidebar notes re:  Ravens’ defense
1a.  Ravens defense depleted myth.
Ravens lost a lot of players on defense.  Yes I know this, see graphic at right.  It was created for my written-not-published “Ozzie Newsome, not a genius” piece.  Why didn’t I publish it?  Why didn’t I share the time and toil that included making funny Wile E. Coyote graphics?  It’s that part with the green boxes where Ozzie pulled two studs and a decent piece part out of his ass to patch holes in his defense.
Do recall that the Ravens were in cap hell after their Super Bowl win.  Hard to kill them for that because, well, Super Bowl win.  This is why Boldin is gone.  Repeat:  the salary cap hell precipitated by winning the Super Bowl and thus needing to overpay to sign now Super Bowl Winning Joe Flacco created a problem.  In March, I thought it would be hell for them now I don’t think so.

1b.  Kruger was the most expendable of all the Ravens’ FA losses.
We all know we were bidding against ourselves for Kruger right?  I know Banner was at risk of breaking his arm patting himself on the back for this signing, but Kruger –he of six starts in his career– was backed up by the Ravens’ top pick in 2012, Courtney Upshaw.  He was never part of the plan for the Ravens.

2.  Ravens have a fullback.
Much has been made of the Browns’ front seven and yes it’s pretty to look at.  But the Ravens have multiyear all-pro Vonta Leach back and he’s playing the dinosaur fullback position.

Lol, don’t the Ravens know that position is obsolete?  Lol, Maroons!

Well I guess we’ll see if Ozzie and Jim Harbaugh know what they’re doing by keeping that position funded.  You know because it’s like they didn’t just win a Super Bowl.  But in considering fullbacks, they don’t win three all-pros for ‘rush yards gained.’  Fullbacks win all-pros for blocking, either lead blocking for the feature back or picking up blitzes and protecting their QB.  Oh wait a sec,,, doesn’t the Browns’ DC have a thing about attacking, blitzing  aggressive, something something?  Yes, I’m sure a read a report about the Browns front seven and blitzing.  But haven’t read too much about how having the best blocking fullback in the NFL might blunt that attack.  A rare miss by Cleveland sports media. (more…)

KKE #3. Pick your sleeper(s).

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If I have to pick… give me Knile Davis in the 5th; Ricky Wagner in the 6th; Kenny Tate in the 7th. Sorry Denard.

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Time for another Kolonich/Kanicki Exchange.  This weekend, we thought it’d be interesting to explore the world of sleeper draft prospects.  For these purposes, we’re defining ‘sleeper’ as someone projected to be taken in rounds 5/6/7.

I couldn’t just take one.  (Sorry Dave.)  I’m going to rank my sleepers and they shake out like this:

  1. Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas;
  2. Kenny Tate, SS, Maryland;
  3. Ricky Wagner, OT/OG, Wisconsin.

with several honorable mentions.

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My method and pool.

For a pool,  I’m consulting Sobo’s Top 300 listing* and going with his names after 150 as my pool.  Bad idea, Sobo’s too good; precious few ‘sleepers’ residing sub-150 on his board.  Instead, I pulled Drafttek’s Top 400 and loaded them in a google spreadsheet here.

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front:  I’m the ultimate ‘casual draft wonk’ if that makes sense.  I’m not the guy looking at tape of a 100 players; but that won’t stop me from having a strong opinion on guys I have seen and like.  (For example, I was a major advocate for Justin Boren a couple years ago.  A rare miss.)  I know that doesn’t make sense on the surface, but with so many misses by the experts … anyone can be an expert.

Here’s who I liked in going through the back-end of that linked spreadsheet.

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Kanick’s eyeball sleepers.

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The prospect reviews.

Let’s work through these guys.

Knile Davis.  Dude weighs 227 and ran 4.37.  Injuries?  Broken ankle in 2011.  Well.. yeah, that’s why he’s 155 on your board.  But says here he picked up 1300 yards in 2010; tops in the SEC as a freshman.  I swear:  three hundredths of a second slower than Tavon Austin and 50 pound heavier.  And 31 bench reps.  Austin projecting in top 15; Davis fifth round (by this board).  Scouts cite fumbling and he plays, ‘soft and timid.’  After reviewing all the guys on this post, Davis is my top ‘sleeper.’  Good review of Davis here.

Denard Robinson.  This is a simple, ‘What do your eyes tell you?’  We’ve see him for four years in the Big 10.  He’s been nothing but baller.  Teams MUST game plan for him  We’ve established that there is no ‘playmaker’ position that you can draft.  But if there were, Denard Robinson would rate high in that positional ranking.  However, he would NOT rate highly if we were ranking baseball pitchers.

Everyone loved Wagner two years ago.
Was it playing with Zeitler, Konz, and Carimi? Or is he being underrated now?

Jake Stoneburner.  Always reliable, good hands, blocks… very Ohio State-ish tight end.  Who saw a 4.65 40 coming out of him?  If Stoneburner can run seam routes on top of everything else, that makes him Heath Miller which is terrific in the sixth round.

(I like Jack Doyle from WKU a lot too, but he wasn’t in drafttek’s top 400.  I checked with drafttek; they informed it was not an oversight.  Sorry, Jack.)

Ricky Wagner.  Two years ago Wagner so impressed with his dominating Rose Bowl against TCU, I screen capped the hole that John Clay got to run through.  He was playing guard on that team (Carimi, Konz, Zeitler were on that line too.  Mother of God, can you imagine??).  Anyway, I don’t know why Wagner is not beloved since that year, I really don’t.  This is another trusting of my eyes and I think Wagner will be starting in the NFL for a long time.  Maybe at guard?

Admitted: soft spot for discus-trained d-linemen.

Lawrence Okoye.  6’6″/280 308 and nothing but athlete.  I’m big on the pure athlete and I’m not the only one.  Last year’s recipient of Draft Highlight Video of the Year*** was taken in the sixth round by Bill Belichick.  Okoye’s got a track and field background and in an unpublished Margus Hunt paean, I checked into other track and field guy, here’s what I found:

  • Billy Winn, state runner-up (NV) in discus; state finals in shot-put;
  • Cameron Jordan (eight sacks last year for Saints), state champ (AZ) in discus;
  • Sam Acho (starting ROLB for Horton’s Cardinals), state champ (TX) in discus and shot put;
  • Jabaal Sheard, 4th in state (FL) in shot put, also threw discus;
  • JJ Watt, state champ (WI) shot-put.

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    Projecting the foreign 5tech prospects.

Just saying, it’s a positive.  Speaking of positives, check his stats:  4.8 40, 35″ vert, 30x 225 bench reps on THIRTY-FIVE INCH ARMS.  Added bonus: his age can be confirmed to be 21.  From Gil Brandt:  “Okoye looked like he could be drafted. He was unbelievably active and incredibly explosive in drills. It was a real, first-class show.”

Should also point out that the reigning top 5-tech DE (Watt) is a converted Tight End; this year’s top 5-tech DE prospect (Ansah) has been playing football for three years; this year’s third highest 5-tech prospect (Margus) has been playing football three year.  Why not this guy?  Especially if it just costs you a sixth rounder.  (more…)

Clearing the decks.

Two quick hits today:  John Clayton, bad GM; random pro-day draft prospect biases.

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Clayton proposes bad deal for Dolphins.

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You think?

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So let me get this straight:  Clayton is pimping a deal for the Dolphins to replace their anchor LT, Jake Long, with an under-achieving 28 year old on a one year 9.8mm contract that they’ll have to figure out a way to extend against their hopelessly back-loaded cap structure.  And on top of the huge contract that the Dolphins can’t afford, they should give up one of their second round picks?

#Jackass

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Talk about ‘all-in’ for 2013.

There is a better solution we’ll get to, but first:

What do you mean ‘back-loaded contract structure’ Kanick?

You heard that the Dolphins signed Mike Wallace for 60mm, right?  Ellerbe for 35mm?  But did you notice that both of those contracts are carrying only 1mm against their cap this year?  What happens to the rest of the contract?

It gets pushed out, of course.  Check out how the 2013 ‘all-in’ contract shenanigans will affect the Dolphins’ 2014 contract sitch to the left. –>

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Get the idea?  Re-signing/extending Branden Albert might be a bitch.  John Clayton.  Ass.

But Clayton is correct that the Dolphins’ two second round picks could become most useful.  As we reviewed in our piece last week, the Dolphins could also do this:

Browns’ #6 and #68 (3rd) for Dolphins’ #12, #42 (2nd), and #82 (3rd).

In so doing, they can be assured a top 10 LT (from the Joeckel/Fisher/Johnson crop) and sign him to a rookie contract.  In other words:  for the same draft pick and less money the Dolphins can get a comparable/better/younger LT by swapping picks with the Browns.

Meantime, we get the CB we want (Xavier Rhodes) and who knows what TE (Eifert??) might slip into the middle of the second round.

Let’s bang this drum.

John Clayton:  get your head out of your ass.

Will drafting this guy shut everyone up on the QB talk?

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Miscellaneous draft prospect chatter.

Walter Football is tracking the pro days here.  Some memory is being jogged looking through these.  Here’s some random takes on the names so far.  Will have a part two on this at the end of the month.

Arkansas
Tyler Wilson.  I prefer to go to war with Weeden and whatever can be picked up cheaply.  (Unless it’s Mallett whom I support picking up with a 4th rounder.)  But if forced to choose between Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson, I take Wilson.

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