Thursday, April 30, 2009

Miami Dolphins Draft Grades

Hey there everybody, I know you guys and gals have been missing my writing but the last few weeks of school consumed me with projects, papers, and finals. I'm back though, ready to let you all know my opinion on the latest news.

Today, I want to rant about how I feel the Miami Dolphins did in the draft last weekend. To speak generally, they had a few needs going into the draft and for the most part were able to address those needs. They were also able to generate some buzz and controversy with draft experts with their second round pick. All in all, I believed that the trifecta (Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano) had an effective draft filled with players who should make an immediate impact.

The first pick made by the Dolphins at #25 went to get Vontae Davis, cornerback out of Illinois. Davis is everything the Dolphins need at corner, at least physically. At 5'11" 200 pounds with a 4.4 forty and a reputation for being physical, Miami filled a big need in the secondary with this pick. He easily could be the most talented cornerback in the draft. The biggest knock on Davis is his work ethic and consistency. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't an issue but you have to look at who drafted him. Parcells has a great reputation when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, and I see Sparano is cut from the same cloth as "The Tuna". I truly believe they will get Davis to realize his potential both physically and mentally to become a great player worthy of the 25th pick in the draft. Lord knows we don't want to see a reincarnation of his older brother Vernon Davis, the underachieving tight end out in San Francisco. All in all I believe that this was a very good and much needed pick in a division that includes Randy Moss, Wes Welker Terrell Owens, and Lee Evans.
Draft pick grade for Vontae Davis: A-

The Dolphins surprised a few people with their second round pick, but if you read my blog from a few weeks ago you know I was not one of those that was surprised. They picked Pat White, quarterback out of West Virginia. I don't know if there are many people on the earth as excited about this pick as I am. He will be able to take the "Wildcat (newly named WildPat)" offense to a completely new level. What was missing from the "Wildcat" last year was the limited ability to throw. White brings a threat to pass and-with a 4.5 forty- just as potent of a threat to run the ball. Defensive coordinators will be pulling their hairs out trying to stop the Dolphins offense next year. Another positive about White is the fact that he can serve as a wide receiver for a good chunk of snaps in every game once. He will be the ultimate "slash" for Miami. He should also serve as the emergency quarterback and could very well develop into a solid quarterback in the NFL.
Draft pick grade for Pat White: A

The Dolphins decided to continue upgrading the secondary when they picked up Sean Smith, a cornerback out of Utah. Folks, this is a big guy they got to put at cornerback. At 6'3" 214 pounds, he also possesses good speed as he runs a 4.55 in 40 yard dash. There were immediate questions as to whether Smith would be moved to safety given his size, but the front office but a quick end to any questions by insisting that he will stay at corner. His size is similar to Antonio Cromartie out in San Diego, and DolFans can only hope that he will be half as productive. He is still fairly raw as a corner, only playing about a season at the position after switching from wide receiver. He brings some really good size to a position that doesn't see it at this level too much in the NFL. If he develops and fulfills the potential that the Dolphins saw when they picked him, this could make for one of the more dangerous secondaries in the AFC this year. The one thing that concerned me about this pick is that I feel Miami could have went in another direction with the pick, such as picking a linebacker or wide receiver because those are also areas of need. Other than that, no complaints.
Draft pick grade for Sean Smith: B-

Miami started the second day by addressing another of their pressing needs, this time on the offensive side of the ball. Their fourth pick of this draft went to Patrick Turner, wide receiver out of USC. The hope in picking this 6'5" 223 pound target is that he will be able to do what Ernest Wilford could not do last year. Well, the first thing would be to play, but the second and more important thing would be to turn into a solid redzone threat for the Dolphins. He should provide a pretty nice compliment to the speedy and developing Ted Ginn Jr., the emerging slot receiver in Davone Bess, and a recovering Greg Camarillo. There are still questions about his ability to get separation, but he has good hands and if he can put that large frame to good use he will be extremely dangerous inside the opponents 20-yard line.
Draft pick grade for Patrick Turner: B

With their next pick, Miami took wide receiver Brian Hartline out of Ohio State. This pick is similar to the pick of Smith in my opinion because the Dolphins already addressed the position with a previous pick but still added to the depth at the position. I feel like the Dolphins could have picked up a linebacker who was still on the board, because that is still a pressing need. I don't necessarily hate this pick, but I'm not thrilled with it either. His production was not the greatest when making the jump from his junior to senior seasons, although some of that should be attributed to Terrelle Pryor starting most of last season. However, he was still outshadowed in the receiving corps by fellow 2009 draft pick Brian Robiskie. He put up pretty good numbers at the combine and has good size for a wide receiver (6'2"213 lbs), but it will remain to be seen how it will translate when he gets out there on the field. One of the big positives for this pick is that he could prove to be very valuable on special teams, both in the return game and convering kicks.
Draft pick grade for Brian Hartline: C+

The next pick was a bit of a mystery to me. John Nalbone, a tight end out of Monmouth, could prove to be a valuable late round pick. I feel like I should know a bit more about him seeing as how I mainly cover this level of college football (Football Championship Subdivision), but I shall move on. Nalbone will have to get over the clear concerns over his competition on the lower of the FCS scale, but he was a producer regardless. He is yet another Dolphins draft pick with solid size for his position, and he is a solid balance of pass-catcher and run-blocker from the tight end position. He looks to be another special teams product for the time being, and if he can find his way onto the field this season, everybody knows that Chad Pennington loves going to his tight ends. That could mean some surprising production from Nalbone. Not a bad pick.
Draft pick grade for John Nalbone: C+

With their second pick in the fifth round, Miami went back to the secondary to solidify even more depth, this time at the safety position. Chris Clemons, safety out of Clemson, is an extremely talented athlete physically. No one can argue against his 4.41 40 yard dash, 19 reps of 225 on the bench press, and 37.5 foot vertical jump. He is a bit undersized for a safety however, which is a bit of a worry to draft analysts. Here is yet another special teams product for this season whose best chance of seeing the field will more than likely be in obvious passing situations. He has the chance to develop into a solid safety at this level, but he will have to bulk up before that can happen. Good pick at this point in the draft, however.
Draft pick grade for Chris Clemons: B-

The sixth round saw the Dolphins take their lone lineman of the draft as they selected offensive tackle Andrew Gardener out of Georgia Tech. This is one of those that fits the "Parcells" mold. He is a big and fairly athletic tackle that is a solid in both run and pass blocking. His lack of elite athleticism for an NFL left tackle, along with Jake Long holding down that side of the line for what should be years to come means Gardener could find a better chance at playing at right tackle. A nice pick that will definitely compete for a spot at backup initially.
Draft pick grade for Andrew Gardener: B

I can't lie, I know even less about Miami's last pick of the draft than I did about about Nalbone. J.D. Folson, the linebacker out of Weber State seems destined to a special teams role if he makes the roster. Could there have been better talents on the board at this point? Possibly, but at this point you put that trust in your scouts to make the best decision. Folsom actually planned on going to vet school before he got selected in the seventh round. Could he be another Larry Izzo? The Dolphins only hope so.
Draft pick grade for J.D. Folsom: C

Overall, I think the Dolphins draft grade comes out to about a B. They did not address every need as early as I thought they should have, but they were able to get most of what they needed as far as positions go. Most of the draft picks have the potential to make an impact this season. Although you really can't judge a draft for two or three years, it should be very exciting to see what this class can do for Miami.

Stay tuned folks, my next few blogs will be coming from Athens, Greece. Pictures will accompany the blog. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Other Stuff: The Greatest Person I Know

This isn't about sports, but I'm sure you'll be able to deal with it. You'll know if it's about you. It's a short story based on a true story lol:

I know this one lady who is the greatest person I know. That's all that's supposed to be said? I have way more to say. She's got it goin' on!!!! The total package if I must say so myself. Well, except for a few things. She's a little too much to the "right" for me. Normally, she'd get "left" but somehow I can deal with it :P.

I have a question, what if I get hungry? Well I know if I do then I can most definitely depend on some good breakfast cooking! Man always needs some good breakfast, it's the most important meal of the day! The cooking adds to making you the greatest person I know!

She also has an obsession with "Putty". I don't know where it came from but it's kind of hard to get her to drop it. Putty comes in and out of her life yet she just can't let him go. Just plain weird lol.

She's not perfect, but hey I'm not either. No one is. But there's something about her. I mean, I'm writing this very blog about the greatest person I know! What could be greater than getting me to write about something other than sports? That's pure greatness right there lol.

She's a sweet girl, very very very nice. Am I worthy of the greatest person ever? Hmm I'm not sure but it sure would be worth a try! We like some of the same numbers, school semesters, and certain letters too!

What else can I say about this nice girl, hmm I think that's for another blog. May have to just let this greatest person I know herself.

The End (The Greatest #4 in the world, me!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why High School Athletes Should Commit to Schools and not Coaches

Just last week, John Calipari received a ridiculously large contract to become Head Coach at the University of Kentucky. I believe it is somewhere in the neighborhood of eight years and $31 million. That's almost $4 million a year to be a head coach. A bit much? Well, not if you ask boosters at pretty much any SEC school, but that's an issue for another post.

The domino effect at Calipari's old school (Memphis) is being felt immediately as well as tremendously. We've already seen DeMarcus Cousins, the #4 recruit on the ESPNU Top 100, change his commitment from Memphis to Kentucky. Another ESPNU Top 100 prospect, guard Nolan Dennis has re-opened his commitment and will look at other schools. The Wildcats are also potentially losing a recruit, as Super 60 recruit Dominique Ferguson re-opened his commitment as well.

My point is that high school athletes really need to evaluate their commitments. They also need to realize that the same coaches who are chasing after them for commitments never signed a commitment. Sure they signed a contract to coach at the school, but that doesn't seem to mean much in modern times. Calipari easily had one of the most talented teams in the country last year and was able to lead Memphis to a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They are in Conference USA, which is slightly below the BCS conferences. It means that they will almost always be in the hunt for a conference title, barring sanctions or something of the like. Calipari gave up a solid job at a cushy school for the rigors and extreme pressures of the SEC and Kentucky. Like he said, they don't have banners for anything BUT national championships.

Now the student-athletes that are at Memphis are in a very precarious position. They could transfer to another school, but they would more than likely have to sit out that next year. Who knows, that coach could end up leaving too! The best-case scenario if they stay is that they like the new coach and everything goes well. Worst-case is that he is the exact opposite of the coach you had and expected. He runs the team completely different, on the court/field and off. What are you supposed to do?

I've often heard that high school athletes should commit to the school and not the coach. I used to think why? The coach is one of the most important piece of the puzzle when choosing a school. He is your father figure when you're home. All of this is true, but just like fathers can leave you in real life, so they can do in the cut-throat business world of NCAA athletics.

What makes this issue so important is the fact that it doesn't just apply to the major college sports. I'm pretty sure a softball or tennis player will feel the impact if they have to deal with a new coach when they committed to a different one.

For any high school athlete that may read this:

Take a hard look at the atmosphere of the campus, obviously you should look at the academics to make sure they are in line with what you want to do. Make sure you have intentions of playing right away or redshirting and getting stronger and faster in that year. You should take a really really hard look at the assistant coaches for a few reasons. First, you will be around them way more than the head coach so if you don't like them the team may not be meant for you. Second, one of those assistant coaches could end up being the top guy if the head coach takes another job.

It happened to me while I was here at JU (except the coach didn't take another job, he was fired), and I believe that is one of the reasons that I don't play football anymore. It is hard to get that to happen, given my true love for the sport. It just goes to show it can happen anywhere, from the SEC to the PFL.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why College Athletes Don't Need to be Paid

For as long as I have remembered, the issue of paying college athletes has been prevalent in society. The usual reasoning for it is the fact that most BCS (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East SEC, and Pac 10) conferences and schools make so much revenue because of the athletes on the field that those players deserve a piece of the pie. Stop and think about things for a second.

There are the staunch opponents to that view that say because athletes are getting their education paid for, they should not need to get paid. That is why they are in college says those pundits. I am not on that extreme side of the issue. I believe that college athletes are already getting paid outside of their scholarships. Say you get a full scholarship and still fillout a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you are eligible for a pell grant or any other kind of grant, you will be getting an extra $2500 or so per school year. That money is being put towards tuition, room and board or books for a regular student. It is merely money you can put in the bank or spend however you want. This is all on top of certain stipends that the athletes receive because they play for the school. So in fact, they are already getting paid in the truest sense of the word.

Another reason that college athletes should not be paid is because of the boosters at the respective schools, particularly at the BCS schools. There are no specific instances I will bring up, but anyone with a fairly good knowledge of college athletics knows that boosters will help out the athletes that are making their athletic program like a finel-oiled machine. Whether it is under the table or something that is legitimate, they will help them. This is all without athletes getting a true "salary" or "check". Would they really need the extra? These players are allowed to get jobs if they need one as well, and even then they get a better deal out of it than regular folks. Former Oklahoma and Sam Houston State quarterback Rhett Bomar got kicked off the Sooners' team by Head Coach Bob Stoops for a violation of rules by having a job with a pay rate that was way above what is considered normal for the position.

When football players go to bowl games and basketball players go to postseason tournaments, they get gift packages that would make the Grammys blush. I have heard of players getting Xbox 360s, watches, and more. According to NCAA rules, they allow each bowl to award $500 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. In many cases, schools bring more than that and pay for the rest on their dime. Florida and Oklahoma were essentially given a $300 credit line to spend on Sony Entertainment products that were stocked in a suite. This is the case for all of the bowl games in the country, though not all may be is lavish as the bigger bowls. The athletes are being paid for the successes on the field, but they're still getting PAID!!!! Here is a link that shows what every player on every team got for participating in the different bowl games last season:

College football and basketball are the revenue-generating sports in the NCAA and they usually have an effect on how much money the smaller sports get. How fair would it be to pay just two or three sports and watch the other sports struggle with equipment, recruiting, and facilities? And how realistic would it be to pay every single sport in your athletic department if only a few of the sports are really making any money? Either way it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

An ethical issue that comes up is that players would only come to school to get paid and to play their respective sport. It is already pretty bad because it seems as though that is already the case. Basketball seems especially privy to this given the one-and-done scenario that most talented players seem to go for. In essence, you are paying a player for a year to pay so you can get to the national championship game (like John Calipari and Memphis did with Derrick Rose last season) and even win the national championship (like Syracuse did in 2003). With the little motivation that these kids have to go to class already, paying them for that lack of drive seems like it would be morally wrong.

I understand that not every school in the country has the budget of a BCS school and even some of those schools are tightening their wallet in the wake of this recession.It wouldn't be fair to every school to pay some and not others and the money just is not there right now to do it.