Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #28 New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram

The Patriots trade down. says-

Ingram projects as an every-down back who can make an impact on the ground and in the passing game. One of the most polished running back prospects in recent memory. Has rare natural running sense in terms of vision and patience. Great short area speed and burst to hit the hole, make defenders miss, and get to the perimeter. Runs low, breaks tackles, and usually falls forward. Dangerous receiver in the screen game and as a check down. Shows good effort and awareness in pass protection. Has not been asked to shoulder the entire load to this point, but Ingram’s still a first-round prospect.


NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #25 Seattle Seahawks G James Carpenter says-

Carpenter has a chance to end up as a starter and certainly has the ability to provide valuable depth as a backup. Looks the part of an NFL left tackle with his great size and frame. At this stage, Carpenter grades out as a good pass blocker but just adequate in the running game. His game could benefit from some improved awareness in blitz pickup. Would become more valuable as a run blocker with increased strength and power. Carpenter should hear his name called during the middle rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft

Another reach.


NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #6 Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones

The Falcons trade up with Cleveland. says- says-

Jones has the prototypical build to become a No. 1 receiver. A vertical threat due to his height, strength, leaping ability, and speed. Generates big plays after the catch on screens and crossing patterns because of his physicality as a runner. Flashes outstanding hands and ball skills, will make the highlight grabs and haul in passes well outside his frame, but also struggles with bouts of drops. Needs to shore up his hands and route-running to develop into a consistent chain-mover at the next level. Plays aggressively, will go over the middle and block. A foot injury hasn’t hindered Jones’ upside, and he is projected to be a mid first-round pick.”>Jones has the prototypical build to become a No. 1 receiver. A vertical threat due to his height, strength, leaping ability, and speed. Generates big plays after the catch on screens and crossing patterns because of his physicality as a runner. Flashes outstanding hands and ball skills, will make the highlight grabs and haul in passes well outside his frame, but also struggles with bouts of drops. Needs to shore up his hands and route-running to develop into a consistent chain-mover at the next level. Plays aggressively, will go over the middle and block. A foot injury hasn’t hindered Jones’ upside, and he is projected to be a mid first-round pick.

Jones cost the Falcons alot of draft selections and he has a case of the drops. This pick has big bust potential.


NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #3 Buffalo Bills DT Marcell Darreus says-

Dareus is one of this class’ finest prospects. Possesses the athleticism and explosiveness to be consistently disruptive against the run and pass. Hands that don’t stop, sheds blockers quickly, and frequently uses the swim move to get to the quarterback. Also has great power to push the pocket and stand his ground adequately when run at. Blessed with great feet and outstanding lateral quickness. Comfortable playing in space and likely capable of dropping into coverage. Only question is his endurance and stamina. Played in a rotation early and dealt with injuries as a junior. Dareus will likely be a top-five pick, maybe even go No. 1 overall.


NFL Draft 2010 – Round 1 #20- Atlanta – CB Kareem Jackson writes-

Pick Analysis: The Texans surprisingly take Kareem Jackson over Kyle Wilson as their franchise cornerback. The former Alabama standout has been flying up the charts in recent weeks, and his versatile skill set is a nice fit in the Texans’ scheme. While the argument will be made that Wilson is more talented than Jackson, it is hard to argue against taking a solid player well groomed in a pro-style defensive system.


Jackson has an excellent combination of size and athleticism for the position. He is a very confident defender that will play tight to his opponent in both man and zone coverage schemes. Jackson shows great foot quickness burst and speed to stay with top receivers. He is an instinctive player that is quick to anticipate and jump routes as plays unfold. He is a competitive player but is inconsistent to as a run support defender. Jackson needs to rap up ball carriers better on the perimeter as well as corralling receivers in the open field. Kareem Jackson is an excellent football player that won’t last long on the first day of the 2010 draft if his shoulder checks out.


NFL Draft 2010 – Round 1 #8- Oakland- LB Ronaldo McClain

I was hoping this guy would drop to Miami. writes- McClain has great length and strength for the position and has been the Crimson Tide’s most active defender in 2009. Rolando is an instinctive player that makes all the calls from the middle linebacker position. He sheds blockers well to leverage the ball and understands angles to maintain proper run fits to the line of scrimmage. McClain is disruptive attacking a crease when blitzing the quarterback. He is powerful as a tackler and keeps good balance in the open field. McClain is somewhat limited in man coverage and may be a liability in this phase of his game at the next level. He does understand route progressions and can be effective in short zone coverage schemes. McClain is a good football player that should have an immediate impact as a rookie on special teams while working into a starting role.


2010 NFL Draft to include record tying 53 non-seniors

The 2008 NFL Draft also saw the same amount of under classmen. In 2009 the total was 46. From AP-

The expected heavy influx of non-seniors applying for this year’s NFL draft did not happen despite looming labor unrest in the league.

Although a record-tying 53 players declared for early entry, that number released Tuesday by the NFL was short of most projections.

“I think that the colleges have really done a good job of telling these young men how it is to their advantage to stay in school,” said NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, who helped build the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “I thought there would be more and I was surprised.”

Six All-Americans did apply for the draft: defensive backs Eric Berry of Tennessee and Joe Haden of Florida; defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech; tight end Aaron Hernandez of Florida; linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama; and wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, also declared for April’s draft, along with Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead; Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen; Southern California running back Joe McKnight; Cal running back Jahvid Best; Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap; and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman.

Fresno State tailback Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, applied. So did tackles Bryan Bulaga of Iowa and Anthony Davis of Rutgers, who are projected to go high in the draft.

I remember when Herschel Walker came out of school(U of Georgia) early and all the controversy it caused. A Herschel Walker today wouldn’t risk a potential big payday in the NFL either.

What I don’t get is how some experts expected the total of non-seniors to be around 100 or a 100% increase from last year. Maybe I’ll find an article that list the college players who stuck it out. A free college education should be valued. One day your sports playing days will end and what will you do for money then? Look at Bernie Kosar who left the University of Miami early for the NFL. Right now he is bankruptcy court.

The entire list of college underclassman declaring for this year’s NFL draft is below the fold.


Did Saban Run Up the Score?

Mike Tomasky and Matt Yglesias both argue that Alabama head coach Nick Saban showed a distinct lack of class by scoring a meaningless touchdown with 47 seconds left in last night’s championship game.

Almost to a man, their commenters vehemently disagree. And they’re right to do so.

Alabama Texas Scoring Summary (ESPN) I’m an Alabama alumnus and fan, so I’m biased. But having the backup running back score on a run up the middle with nearly a minute left in a national championship game you’re only leading by 10 points isn’t exactly rubbing it in.

Indeed, one need only to look at the beginning of the game to see why: Texas had already scored twice in roughly a minute.

This wasn’t the local high school powerhouse up against a weakling school from across town. Or even Steve Spurrier running and gunning when he’s up 40 points against some Division II school. It’s a run up the middle against the second best team in the country with the national championship on the line.

And, frankly, Alabama had already come perilously close to giving away a game they had wrapped up by playing ridiculously conservatively. Alabama’s offense essentially sat out the second half, playing not to lose rather than to win. That allowed Texas and their freshman quarterback to find a rhythm and come back to within a field goal with 6:15 left in the game.

It took a dynamic play on defense to end the Longhorn’s momentum and take the game back. A fumble recovery after a hard-hitting sack gave the Alabama offense the ball back a few feet from the goal line and Mark Ingram pushed it in three plays later to get the margin back to 10.

When they got the ball back with 2:01 remaining, Texas apparently didn’t think the 10-point margin meant the game was over. They were throwing the ball, hoping for another quick score. Instead, they gave up another interception, giving Alabama the ball back inside the 30 with 1:48 left.

Texas still had timeouts remaining, so Alabama couldn’t just take a knee and run out the clock. They ran the ball and, combined with a Texas penalty, got the ball on the 5 with 1:41 left. Two runs later, Trent Richardson scored, putting them up by 16 with 47 seconds left.

Surely, this brutality was too much for the Longhorns, who broke down crying and went looking for their mommies?

Not so much.

With 47 seconds left, they kept playing football. They got another nice pass completion but then threw yet another interception with 27 seconds remaining.

Naturally, the evil Saban immediately called for a trick play to get another quick score?

Well, no. With the game in hand, the quarterback took a knee and ran out the clock.


Alabama Beats Texas 37-21 for National Championship

The Alabama Crimson Tide won its 13th* college football national championship tonight by beating the Texas Longhorns 37-21.


Head coach Nick Saban (L) of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram (R) hold the championship trophy after their team defeated the Texas Longhorns in the NCAA’s BCS National Championship football game in Pasadena, January 7, 2010. (Reuters Pictures)

For most of the game, it didn’t look like they wanted to.

The Tide won the opening coin toss and, uncharacteristically, chose to start with its shaky offense rather than its best-in-the-nation defense. It promptly ran 3 ugly plays and then, inexplicably, a fake punt which they botched in spectacular fashion.

Texas looked to get an easy 7 points but — in the key play of the game — its Heisman Trophy runner-up quarterback, Colt McCoy, was injured on a freak play where he didn’t even go down.


Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy (C) is injured as he is hit by Alabama Crimson Tides Marcel Dareus (R) in the first quarter in the NCAA’s BCS National Championship football game in Pasadena, January 7, 2010.

True freshman Garrett Gilbert was thrown to the wolves and the drive stalled with a field goal.

Alabama then apparently thought the ensuing kickoff was a punt and didn’t touch the live ball, giving it right back to the Longhorns. The drive once again stalled, though, and they settled for 3.


Marcell Dareus scored a touchdown on an interception return in the first half (UA photo).

Bama then scored two touchdowns on offense, first on a long, grind-it-out drive featuring their Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, and then on a 49-yard run by his understudy, Trent Richardson.

After some mediocre play back-and-forth, it appeared that Texas was content to go into the half down 6-17. Instead, they decided to have their shaky frosh QB toss a shovel pass from deep on his side of the field, got it picked off, and gave Bama a free TD to end the half 24-6. Amusingly, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, who made the lick that took McCoy out of the game, did the honors.

But Alabama coach Nick Saban decided to try to run out the entire second half with an incredibly cautious offense. It nearly worked but Gilbert suddenly found his game and Texas scored two quick touchdowns to bring it to 21-24 (they made a 2-point conversion) with 7 minutes left.

Finally, the Bama D made a huge play, stripping the ball near the goal line. Three plays later, Ingram went in for a touchdown and put the game away. A desperation pass from Gilbert was soon picked off in garbage time, padding the Tide’s score with a free touchdown.

Stacy McCain had the live blog. Here’s the ESPN scoring summary:


All-and-all, a rather bittersweet win, both because McCoy’s injury provides a huge What If? and because Alabama really didn’t play very well most of the game.

As with Florida’s Tim Tebow after the SEC Championship game, McCoy was both understandably emotional and superbly gracious.

The game would have gone much differently had he been healthy. My strong guess is that both teams would have played much better and, certainly, the outcome would be more satisfying. I’m happy to have Alabama hoist another trophy, of course, and genuinely think they’re the best team in college football this year. But I’d have much preferred to see them beat an intact Texas team and to play a more characteristic ballgame.

*The number is in dispute. The NCAA counts 8 “consensus” titles and as many as 18 total; the Capstone counts 13, including an incredibly dubious 1941 title. Until the BCS started in 1999, there arguably was no such thing as a championship in the highest level of college football. Several of Alabama’s early championships, including their 1924 and 1925 undefeated seasons capped by Rose Bowl wins, were “awarded” years after the fact. And they both won and lost championships in the years when the polls were voted upon before the bowl games.

Note- This post also appeared at Outside the Beltway.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


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