Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Post NFL Draft Rundown (for the Aggies)

It was a busy day for former Texas A&M football players.  A solid five players were drafted in the seven round NFL draft spanning from Thursday evening all the way into Saturday evening.  Here is an informative breakdown of where everybody went, was it significant, will they have an impact, and the overall thumbs up or thumbs down (pretty much, whether I like it or not).

Luke Joeckel

Where Was He DraftedNumber one overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. Blah.

Significant/Insignificant – HELL YEA! There is only one college football each year that gets to brag about having the number one overall pick from the previous NFL draft.  And until next April, we, Texas A&M, exclusively own that privilege.  Could we maybe “create” a college football triple crown?  I feel like the logical three components would be National Championship, Heisman Winner, and Number One Overall Pick (probably in that order too).  Has this been done?  I have no idea.  Google “college football triple crown” and I get this.  So maybe that can be the individual triple, but I like my idea for a Team/University wide triple crown.  Point is, Texas A&M filled in two of the three check-boxes, granted we didn't get the main one, to beat an already very-dead  horse… it was an awesome season in Aggie Land.

Impact Level – Immediate starter at left tackle for the next decade.  Kansas City is looking to trade their former (and still very good) left tackle Branden Albert, paving the way for a Joeckel led offensive line.  When you take an offensive tackle with the number one overall pick, he should probably start from day one.  Done.

His New Home – I am fond of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Solid history, good city, GREAT crowd, GREAT stadium, it could definitely be worse (like going number two to Jacksonville).  Kansas City is slowing ridding themselves of the Matt Cassel stink, and they are a prime candidate for a bounce back year to relevancy.  Say what you will about Andy Reid (can’t win the big one, elementary clock management), but the guy puts together solid teams.  He is worth a couple wins by himself.  Say what you will about Alex Smith (the word mediocre comes to mind), but he is most definitely an upgrade over Matt Cassel.  Add those two new additions (and a shiny new left tackle in Luke Joeckel) to an already talented roster (SIX PRO BOWLERS) and the Chiefs could surprise some people and steal themselves nine or so wins.  I will be rooting for them.

Thumbs Up (or thumbs down) – HUGE THUMBS UP.  Number one pick.  Fun city/stadium/fans.  Talented, well-likeable team (no bad blood with my Cowboys).  I couldn't be happier for Mr. Joeckel

*I thought I would get ahead of schedule and put together the Joeckel part of this piece prior to the first round actually commencing last Thursday.  Then I was sucker punched by the Kansas City Chiefs.  I think you can tell how excited I was about him (potentially) being the number one overall pick… I can’t bring myself to redo this for Jacksonville.  Joeckel is awesome, Jacksonville sucks.  Moving on…

Damontre Moore

Significant/Insignificant – I mean yes, it is significant.  Damontre Moore was drafted in the third round to play in the NFL.  Blah, blah, blah… it is a-dream-come true for any football player.  On the contrary, when the season ended, Damontre was predicted to be a TOP TEN PICK.  That little tidbit makes a mid-third round pick, seem a little less… unfulfilled.  I don’t think Damontre has ever been the dynamic athlete that Von Miller was (and is), and naturally I would completely understand if he had slowly drifted to the middle portion of the first by draft day, but all the way to the middle of the third round?!?!  A little far for my liking.  Damontre, what in the world were you doing from the Cotton Bowl until the combine?  Too much you know what?  TWELVE REPS on the bench press!?!?!?!?!?!?!  Are you serious?????  I legitimately think that if I did nothing else for two months except prepare for the combine, that I MAY be able to achieve 12 bench press reps of 225 lbs.  Ok, I probably couldn't, but still, no excuses.  The lack of strength did nothing but draw attention to what might have been a lack of natural explosiveness on the field.  Moore was a sneaky, consistent, VERY good contributor, but his stats often spoke louder than the tape.  The combine highlighted that exact notion.  Enough negativity, Damontre Moore was drafted in the third round by a New York Giants team that is expecting him to contribute from day one (well, maybe). 

Impact Level – Moderate.  I think he will get playing time, all pass rushers do, but I don’t see him starting in year one or making a dramatic difference for a New York Giants team that expects to compete for a Super Bowl next year.

His New Home – I hate the Giants because I am Cowboys fan.  BUT I will acknowledge that Coughlin is a pretty solid coach and the Giant’s ALWAYS seem to have a slew of pass rushers.  You could do a lot worse than having Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck coaching you up between plays.  No doubt the Giants saw some great value in picking Damontre in the third round and I assume they will bring him along slowly and let him learn from the stud pass-rushers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Thumbs Up (or thumbs down) – I want to give this a HUGE thumbs down, but in the spirit of positive energy, I actually think Damontre ended up in a good spot when considering the probability of becoming a productive NFL player. 

Christine Michael

Significant/Insignificant – For a guy this talented, who played as sporadically as he did in college, this is pretty impressive.  I mean we always knew he had elite talent, but still.  Unfortunate injuries stalled him early, but it was unfortunate behavior that stalled him this past year.  We may never know exactly why he was in Sumlin’s dog house (blocking, attitude, what-have-you), but whatever it was, I hope it is put to rest and he can find success in the NFL. 

Impact Level – Moderate.  Seattle is a deep team and had the luxury of grabbing a potentially explosive running back to spell Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch from time to time.  Michael will get some carries, and will hopefully make a couple noteworthy plays this year.

His New Home – With the arrival of Russell “hustle and bustle” Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks are suddenly the toast of the NFL.  A well rounded offense, tough defense, and a phenomenal home field advantage (despite their incessant reference to their second-rate 12th man) make them a Super Bowl favorite next year.  You always feel better about a player’s chances when they go to a well-run, successful team.

Thumbs Up (or thumbs down) – Thumbs up.  The second round was a pleasant surprise.  Hopefully Michael carves out a role with the Seahawks and finds some success.

Sean Porter

Significant/Insignificant – I would venture to say that the 4th round is a big win for Sean Porter.  My elementary guess would have had him going in the 5th or 6th round (essentially being flip-flopped with Mr. Swope).  But hey, the Bengals pulled the trigger on the former Texas A&M defensive leader.  Due to Johnny Football, it was the Texas A&M offense that made all the headlines last year, but anyone legitimate fan can attest to the bend-but-don’t-break mentality our defense showed all year.  Hopefully Porter can continue to bring solid publicity for the Texas A&M defensive alums. 

Impact Level – Minimal… maybe moderate.  Cincinnati plays a 4-3 base defense.  Porter is undoubtedly an outside linebacker in the NFL, and probably best suited for the weakside where his versatility and quickness can be maximized.  Unfortunately, Cincinnati is loaded with outside linebackers.  The likely plan is to have Rey Maualuga shift to the strongside, leaving the weakside to either James “can he still play?” Harrison and Porter.  They obviously brought in Harrison for a reason, but hey, they also drafted Porter for a reason.  If anything, Porter should be starting in year two.

His New Home – Not sure how many positive things you can say about Cincinnati.  When was the last time you heard about someone visiting Cincinnati?  I don’t think I know Cincinnati’s actual geographical location on a map.  I mean I know it’s in the Midwest, but not much after that.  They are the kings of underachieving, not only in football, but everything.  I have zero information to back up that statement, but it seems to fit. 

Thumbs Up (or thumbs down) – Thumb sideways.  The fourth round was good news for Porter, but as I have bluntly mentioned, Cincinnati scares me.

Ryan Swope

Significant/Insignificant – From the limited information I can gather, it seems as if Swope’s concussion history was the reason for his draft slide.  You easily could have justified picking Swope in the third round.  And the Cardinals got him in the SIXTH.  Huge steal for the Cardinals, smaller paycheck for Swope. 

Impact Level – Starter.  I think Swope steps right in and becomes the starter in the slot.  The Cardinals have one of the best in Larry Fitzgerald and will now look to round out the unit with Michael Floyd (last year’s dumb first round pick) and Swope.  All Ryan Swope does is produce.  Nobody can question that, just look at the stats or ask an Aggie fan.  Many pointed out his lack of “physical gifts”.   But then Swope silenced the critics by running a 4.34 in the 40 yard dash.  What else do you need to know?  He is tough.  He is a leader.  He catches the football.  He is fast.  He is smart.  I have watched this guy for years, he is a football player down to the core.  The ONLY knock is durability… but I have a feeling he is going to make everyone look dumb.

His New Home – Arizona is a little up and down these days, but hey the Carson Palmer experiment can’t be any worse than the Kevin Kolb/John Skelton experiment.  Well… maybe it can, but here’s to hoping.  I hear Arizona is a pretty rockin’ place to live, a little hot, but pretty solid all around. 

Thumbs Up (or thumbs down) – Thumbs up.  Mainly because I love Swope.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NFL Draft Email Extravaganza

Greetings everyone, it has been way too long.  What is that you say?  The NFL draft is only weeks away?  Well, da gum, with all this NFL talent seeping out of College Station we better get the discussion rolling...

Scott: Alright, I have procrastinated long enough (which is a shock when it comes to this topic), we have got to dive into the NFL draft. And more specifically our beloved Aggies who will be making the jump to the NFL.

First things first, Luke Joeckel better be the number one overall pick.  I want that for Texas A&M Football.  I want the publicity.  I want the headlines.  And let's be real, he is worth it.  Quarterbacks, left tackles, and pass rushers... that's what it's all about in the NFL.  Add a premium left tackle to your offensive line and it immediately improves the other four sports.  It creates a ripple effect on your entire offense. 

Plus, I like the Kansas City Chiefs.  Great fan base, nationally neutral (maybe that is just ignorant Texas talk), and full of untapped talent.  Andy Reid has nowhere to go but up in KC.  Drop to number two or three and you get stuck in the black holes formerly known as Jacksonville and Oakland, drop to number four (which I presume is the farthest down he could conceivably go) and he will forever be on one of my hated rivals, Philadelphia.


Next on my list is the uber-talented, dog-house destined Christine Michael.  I was a bit surprised to see him on Todd McShay's recent list of the Top 100 draft prospects.  Top 100 means he could conceivably go anywhere from the 2nd - 5th round.  And honestly, my thoughts and opinions will be completely dependent upon where he is drafted.  Take him in the 2nd or 3rd round?  Bad pick.  Physical beasts like Michael are a dime a dozen in the NFL.  If your name isn't Adrian Peterson, you probably aren't worth the money in the NFL.  It is what it is.  Take him in the 4th or 5th round?  Well now I am intrigued.  I want high impact starters in the first three rounds, not running backs.  Get him in the 6th or 7th round?  Absolute steal.  

The NFL draft is so incredibly important.  How many times in the past few years have we seen the Cowboys waste vital middle rounders on absolute nobodies.  Want to know why our offensive line sucks and Tony Romo gets crapped on all the time... it's because we draft big piles of steamy crap in the 3rd and 4th round instead of proven, durable, solid offensive lineman.

Damn, I started to ramble, and now I am upset.  I am passing the baton.  Give me some upbeat commentary and tackle our other two notable figures... Ryan "Madden Cover Boy" Swope and Damontre "Combine Disaster" Moore.

Ben: After your Cowboys-heavy analysis there, do I need to cater to our readers that may be loyal to the Houston Texans? Yes I w- No, no I won't. Win a Super Bowl, then you'll get our respect. JJ Watt is a hell of a defensive end, but he alone isn't going to be enough to earn your franchise the respect you all so desperately crave. Stop trying to force it, Houston. Let the game come to you.

Back to the Aggies. Seriously, what the heck has happened to Damontre Moore? We haven't seen a player's stock drop this far this fast since Maurice Clarett. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but a few months ago Moore was a consensus top-10 pick. Now? Mel Kiper Jr. has him going to the Denver Broncos in the second round at #58 overall (See here). Getting drafted in the second round is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but good lord. I still haven't brought myself to look into his combine results. It's like discovering after the fact that your ex-girlfriend had been cheating on you - you don't want to ask any questions, because you want to be able to remember the good times. Damontre Moore was never going to fill Von Miller's shoes at Texas A&M, but he did a damn fine job of terrorizing opposing offenses and leading the Wrecking Crew to play better than they probably should have. 

The second round is where you typically find value. It's a lot of guys that produced in college, and are very good football players, but don't have the freakish athletic ability that teams salivate over in the first round. With their first pick, everyone's typically looking for the next Vernon Davis - the college production may have been lacking, but his body suggests he was created in a laboratory somewhere in New Mexico. For whatever reason, Moore doesn't possess the physical traits that define a first-round DE/LB. Whether this is because he simply doesn't have the natural genes for that or whether he didn't work hard enough to properly prepare for the NFL combine is probably up for debate. I hope it's the former, and not the latter, as his performance this off-season has cost him millions of dollars.

The silver lining, though, is Mel Kiper is projecting Moore to the Broncos. The odds of this actually happening are slim, but Damontre and Von playing together in the NFL would be enough reason alone for any Aggie to purchase DirecTV's NFL Season Ticket. I would watch every minute. It would be an Aggie's dream come true. Also, keep in mind that in all likelihood Damontre Moore will be a better professional football player than Manti Te'o. Draft day will sting, but Moore will get the last laugh. He dominated the SEC - that tends to forebode good things.

Ryan Swope - this is an interesting one. Before I give any analysis, I want to give credit to Bob and Dan of Dallas' 1310 The Ticket for identifying talking heads' tendency to compare players to players of the same race/looks rather than their actual playing style. For instance, everyone and their brother on ESPN and most generic sports talk radio has compared Danny Amendola to Wes Welker. The fact that the Patriots signed Amendola to replace Welker doesn't help, but keep this in mind as Ryan Swope becomes successful in the NFL. The pundits will never compare Swope to Percy Harvin (relatively short, high school running back, SEC experience, extremely fast, afflicted with concussions) but always to Amendola/Welker (white slot receiver from a Texas school). It's going to be funny, so enjoy it.

I believe Ryan Swope will be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL. Not to beat the race horse to death, but if he was African-American, he would undoubtedly be a first- or second-round pick, right? Team leader with good character, lightning fast, good hands, tough, big-time college experience... what's not to like?

Where do you think they get drafted? Also, for kicks, what are your odds Johnny Manziel leaves after next season for the NFL draft?

Scott:  Ben Berryman rises from the ashes and puts some great thoughts on paper.  Glad to have you back.

The Damontre to the Broncos prediction is incredible.  Would there be a better spot on Earth for Damontre?  I think not.  Von Miller was dynamic in every sense of the word and has obviously proved that in the NFL beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Von Miller could have been transcendent anywhere, even Jacksonville (thank goodness that didn't happen).  But Damontre is a different story?  He is sneaky on the field.  Rarely jumping off screen, but always finishing the game with 8 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 1 pass deflection.  Would I bet my wad on him in the NFL?  It would definitely make me nervous.  Would I feel much better about betting my wad on Damontre in Denver via their second round pick... ABSOLUTELY.  Less pressure via the second round pick, accomplished, successful team with Peyton Manning, and most of all, he gets to play alongside his friend, mentor, and inspiration Von Miller.  Zero chance that Von Miller ALLOWS Damontre to be ANYTHING less than a very productive NFL player.

It is honestly a bit ridiculous how confident I am in that potential situation.  And how nervous I am about all other situations.  Slipping into the second round has definitely put Damontre in my newly titled, "enigma" zone.

Moving on to the fan-favorite, Tri-Delta dating (and marrying), Ryan Swope.  If Damontre currently resides in the "enigma" zone, then Ryan Swope is firmly in the the "where do I sign up" zone.  If I am running an NFL team... I want Ryan Swope on it.  Then again, he is going to be drafted into the NFL, so obviously the league agrees with my not-so-bold opinion.

The big question is how good will he be?  And where will he get drafted slash where should he be drafted?

As I jump into the talent discussion, let me comment on your interracial comparisons.  I like the Percy Harvin idea, but honestly, I like the Welker/Amendola idea as well.  They all fit.  Particularly Amendola, who is a bit faster than Welker.  The Percy comparison is a bit of stretch mainly due to how they were used.  Swope is a premier slot receiver.  He doesn't line up on the outside and he doesn't line up in the backfield.  Not saying he isn't capable of that versatility, but it is obviously not his calling card.  He is productive, he is tough, and he is a leader.  Combine those intangibles with his very admirable tangible gifts and you have found yourself a good NFL player.  I think he is a slam dunk, sure fire NFL starter (along with Luke Joeckel).

Now where WILL he get drafted and where SHOULD he be drafted?  Well the draft hasn't happened, so I am copping out of the "where will he get drafted" prediction.  I am much more inclined to strategically deduce where I personally would WANT to draft him (which is made from my imaginary perch atop the Dallas Cowboys war room).    Swope is in my mind starting in the third round, but I know he won't make it past the fifth.  So let's just double down on the middle.  Fourth round.  If my beloved Cowboys drafted Ryan Swope in the fourth round I would ecstatic.  If they reach for him in the third, well I am pretty darn psyched (although that would be somewhat biased by my Aggie love).  And I won't even bother trying to describe my elation of him falling into the fifth round.  

I am looking forward to seeing Ryan Swope play on Sundays.

I have countered your essay on Swope and Damontre with an essay of my own.  So I will just defer your Johnny question right back to you.  Also, does Sean Porter make a difference (or a roster) in the NFL?  Do you even care?

Ben: I really liked Sean Porter when the Aggies played in the Big 12, but his performance wasn't very noticeable once he was playing against the big boys in the SEC. I'm not sure why that happened, and I really haven't looked into what pundits are saying about his chances of getting drafted, but I'd say it's not looking good. He may eventually make it somewhere but I'm not holding my breath.

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny...

If he has anything close to the season he had in 2012, he is a LOCK to leave Texas A&M and go to the NFL. It's a bittersweet thing when a player experiences so much success so early in his collegiate career, because it gives him less motivation to come back (thank you, Captain Obvious). Yes, Von Miller came back for his senior year, but it's not the same with a Heisman trophy-winning QB. In today's day and age, I just don't see anyone with the talent Manziel possesses delaying a jump to the NFL to come back for collegiate glory (assuming the Aggies don't win the BCS this year).

No one will doubt Johnny Manziel's love for Texas A&M when he leaves early. We should be excited that it's going to happen. On the bright side, we will have two QB's in the NFL, and the earlier Johnny leaves, the better QB recruits we pick up. That in no way, shape, or form makes me want Johnny Manziel to leave early, but there would be a few small benefits.

Scott: Call me insensitive, but I was bored with the Sean Porter discussion before I even finished your three sentence essay.  Maybe he will surprise us all in the NFL.  As always, hopefully with the Cowboys.

Johnny has a lifetime immunity necklace in my book.  What he did last year for Texas A&M was transcendent.  And honestly, I feel like that is still an understatement.  There are countless other factors that were crucial to last year's success, but, for better or for worse, Johnny Football will always be the face of the transformation.

If he has another phenomenal year, then by all means, dive into that NFL swimming pool.  The publicity will be incredible (assuming the same success for this upcoming year).

The BIG question though... does he have what it takes to be great in the NFL?  Trust me, I don't want to bet against him, but I also would NOT label him as a sure thing.  We have seen more extraordinarily athletic college quarterbacks struggle than succeed.  It all comes down to the development of his arm.  He doesn't need to effortlessly throw it a mile like Mika Vick, he just needs to master the middle range, a la Russell Wilson.

Russell Wilson.  He is the guy I can't stop thinking about when pondering Johnny's NFL chances.  SMALL guy.  Charisma out the wha-zoo.  Solid, not great arm.  Opportunistic legs (Johnny does hold the trump card in this category.

Johnny's legs won't play in the NFL if he isn't a threat to make an accurate pass (see Mika Vick).  If his arm becomes solid, and he can complete 65% of his throws, well then his legs return to being his most formidable weapon.  And with Johnny's swag and fearless approach, I think success is a snowball for him.  Get the snowball rolling downhill, and it's only going to get bigger and harder to stop.

You agree with my analysis?  How do you see Johnny's NFL chances?

Ben: Hall of Famer. The NFL is going through a revolution at the quarterback position, just in time for Johnny.

Scott:  Bold call.  More importantly, what effect will this NFL revolution have on Sarah Savage?  Ponder that.