New York Jets Mock Draft 1.0 (Post Combine)

First Round: Amari Cooper WR Alabama Amari-Cooper-Alabama

With the sixth pick in the upcoming draft, it looks like the Jets will probably miss out on both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. If Mariota does fall to the Jets, New York could trade him to Philadelphia for a plethora of draft picks. However, in this mock draft there will be no trade scenarios and will be based on a seven round mock draft. With the pick the Jets would draft Amari Copper out of Alabama.

Cooper would be a great fit for the Jets who desperately need a playmaker to team with Eric Decker. While the Jets have the money to spend in free agency, reports from inside the organization have reported that the Jets will use that cap space for corner backs and interior line men. While the offensive line needs to be upgraded and Brandon Scherff would be a nice piece for New York, the team desperately needs play makers and will likely release Percy Harvin due to his large cap hit. Cooper can take over a game and has the size and explosiveness to be a number one receiver for whoever plays quarterback in New York. In my mock draft, he is the second receiver off the board as the Raiders take Kevin White out of West Virginia. The reason? White is two inches taller at 6’3 and ran a 4.35 40 yard dash compared to Cooper’s 4.42 time. The Raiders love big recovers who are fast and White would fit the build. However, the Jets would get a receiver who could make an impact from day one in Cooper.

Round 2: Byron Jones CB Connecticut 

jehu-chesson-byron-jones-ncaa-football-michigan-connecticut1There is no question that the Jets secondary was abysmal last season. With Todd Bowles already stressing the need for corners in his defense the question will be when, not if the Jets draft a corner. Even if the team brings in a free agent corner, Dee Milliner’s injury concerns and the lack of depth at the position are still a huge problem. Jones is freak athlete who jumped 44 1/2 inches in the vertical leap and broke the combine record with a broad jump of over twelve feet. While his play on the field has some concerns, there is no question that his explosiveness and size at 6’1 and 199 pounds make him a great prospect. Jones has struggled in zone defenses, but has proven he is a solid man and press cover corner which fits perfectly into Bowles system.

While this may seem a little early, Bowles could look at Jones as a player he could mold into a great NFL corner. Jones also could be extra valuable to the Jets because New York has to play New England twice a year. With New England using big tight ends on the outside and in the slot, Jones’ size and explosiveness could help Bowles slow down Tom Brady’s tight ends.

Round 3: Duke Johnson RB Miami Duke+Johnson+Miami+v+Nebraska+ZfHfTUyosO7l

With running backs falling in the last few drafts the Jets could get a steal in round three with Johnson. While the Jets already have Chris Ivory, Johnson’s speed and shiftiness as a runner would make him a perfect complementary piece. The best way to take pressure off whoever New York’s quarterback is going to be next season is to run the ball. While he may not be a full-time back right away, his ability to catch on third downs and ability to break off big runs would make Johnson a valuable part of the Jets offense. Scouts compare Johnson to Lesean McCoy and if he is anything like McCoy is in Philadelphia, New York would get another explosive playmaker on the offense.

Round 4: Denzel Perryman ILB Miami Denzel Perryman

Back to Miami again. Unless something dramatically changes it looks like David Harris will hit the open market and will probably get a big contract that the Jets cannot match. With a base 3-4 defense Todd Bowles and the Jets could use a second middle linebacker behind Demario Davis in the draft. Perryman ran a 4.78 at the combine and is slightly undersized at 5-11 and 236 pounds. However, he would be a great fit in the Jets defense with both great instincts and tackling. Perryman is great against the run and led the Hurricanes with 110 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss. On top of that, he has the athleticism and versatility to stay on the field on passing downs, one achilles heel for David Harris. While the Jets can improve most of their woes in free agency, losing Harris could be a big blow. However, Perryman could be a day one starter and could form a formidable tandem with Davis in the middle of the Jets defense for years to come.

Round 5: Corey Crawford DE Clemson corey-crawford-clemson-suspension-georgia

There is no question the defensive line is the strongest position on the New York Jets. However, this unit still could use some depth. Todd Bowles says that his defense is about versatility and having the ability to adjust. Crawford could be a player that would thrive under Bowles. The 6’5 283 pound defensive end from Clemson showed his versatility playing all the positions on the defensive line will also lining up as a stand up 3-4 outside linebacker. With Bowles switching between 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, and player with the versatility like Crawford gives the Jets a solid backup at multiple positions.

Round 7: Hayes Pullard ILB USC web_hayes_RalfCheung

As stated before not only is it likely that the Jets will lose David Harris, but that their depth at middle linebacker is thin. Even with Davis and Perryman, the depth at middle linebacker is still an issue and the Jets could be an injury away from a disaster. Pullard was a tackling machine at USC with 377 tackles over the past four season with the Trojans. His aggressiveness has gotten him in trouble with  numerous penalties and an ejection for targeting last season. Still Pullard has proven that he is a tackling machine. While he may not be as polished and ready as Perryman, Pullard could be a versatile linebacker in Todd Bowles defense who can move around and make plays on special teams where he led the Trojans in coverage. A solid all-around player Pullard would be a nice piece on the Jets defense.

Priority Free Agent: Tyler Varga FB/RB Yale y8y0gvabowq85gfx

While he could be picked in the draft, if Varga is available after the draft the Jets should go after him immediately. With Tommy Bohanon struggling at full back, the Jets could use one in Varga. As a running back in college, Varga ran for 1,423 in his senior season with 26 touchdowns. He has a nose for the end zone and proved it in the Senior Bowl, with two rushing touchdowns. While he may need to develop as a blocker, Varga showed at the Senior Bowl that he is able to block well as a full back, but his value is versatility. Varga can not only block but run with the ball effectively. In essence New York would not only get a full back, but also a running back that can line up in the backfield or as a full back depending on the situation. Todd Bowles has stressed that he wants versatile players on New York next season, and Varga could be a player that fits the mold perfectly.

Posted in 2015 NFL Draft, College football, New york Jets, NFL, NFL Draft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If They Build it, Will Whalers Come? New Plans in Hartford Could Provide Facility for NHL Return

B-QXGJXCEAA5Eyt.jpg-large

A Rendering of the “Renovated” XL Center. New Arena could finally give Connecticut a state of the art facility.

After breaking ground on a minor league baseball stadium earlier this week, the city of Hartford was investigating the long-term feasibility of it’s current arena. Despite the $ 35 Million renovations this past summer, the study was adamant stating this was only a temporary fix and would at most keep the arena serviceable for another five years. The Hartford Courant has revealed that the Capital Region Development Authority has proposed two long-term fans to not only prolong UConn’s use of the facility, but to possibly open the door for an NHL franchise down the road.

The CRDA has proposed two different options with both involving the current XL Center site. While there were plans to possibly move the arena, the best location was determined to be the location of the new ballpark which is now out of the question. The authority stresses the need for an overhaul of the current facilities stating the following:
CRDA: It is generally recognized that the XL Center’s functionality and ability to generate revenue are severely limited by its age, obsolete design, mechanical systems, limited size of the current building footprint, narrow concourses, limited fan amenities, shortage of restrooms and ADA deficiencies.

Option 1: New Arena
The first option would be to build a new arena on the existing site of the current XL Center. This option proposes that the current arena be completely torn down and built from scratch. This arena would have state of the art amenities and would allow for more efficient loading and off-loading of supplies at the arena. It is estimated to tear down and rebuild the arena would take 36 months. While this arena would be brand new and offer superior sight lines including over a thousand additional seats in the lower bowl, this would mean that the site could not host an event for three years and is the more costly option of the two.

Option 2: Renovate Current Arena 

The XL Center in it's current state

The XL Center in its current state

This would be the less costly of the options costing $250 Million. The benefits to this plan are that the arena could still be opened during the renovations as the upgrades would be done in phases, like how Madison Square Garden was renovated. This option (as seen rendered above), would still give the state a stop of the line facility and is assured by the committee to have the same draw as a brand new arena for an NHL team. However the drawbacks to this option are an extra $ 15 Million dollars to make this arena option “NHL ready” and not offer the superior same sight lines of a new arena.

Both plans are similar in that they both would get seating capacity of the arena down to 16,000 for hockey and 17,000 for basketball. The role of UConn will also be of the utmost importance because for the success of the arena it is recommended that UConn needs to become a partner at the facility rather than a part-time tenant.

While there is no question that the XL Center needs an overhaul, or to be replaced the big question that hockey fans want to know is will these actions bring the NHL back to Hartford?While there is no easy way to answer that question the best thing to say about these plans for the arena and the NHL is this. It’s a start.

A new arena will be much more attractive for an NHL franchise, but the CRDA has said that the renovation option will offer a state of the art venue for a team. Even with the agency’s study proving that the market could support an NHL based on numerous factors, the agency also pointed out that a new or renovated arena won’t guarantee a Whalers return.

A

A new Arena won’t guarantee the return of the beloved Whalers, but it’s a step in the right direction.

As a hockey fan nothing would make me happier to see my team, the Hartford Whalers return. This arena isn’t just about getting the NHL back, but ensuring  long-term economic growth in the state.

A new XL Center would allow Connecticut to host more important sporting events, concerts, and shows while giving the University of Connecticut the home they deserve. This is what the state needs to do. Invest the long-term success of the UConn athletic programs and provide the region a state of the art facility. Hartford could host such events as NCAA Regionals while being considered a sight for prestigious events such as the Frozen Four. While this process remains in its infancy the fact that the state realizes the abysmal state of the XL Center is a step in the right direction. It knows the arena is a concrete catastrophe at the moment and needs to be addressed before it’s too late.

If Hartford follows up and goes through with either of these plans then the state of Connecticut’s athletics and entertainment will be heading in the right direction. Then… maybe then, the NHL may give Hartford the call they have waited for since 1997. Hockey fans can only dream that one day in Hartford the sounds of the brass bonanza will echo through downtown as fans scream in jovial delight, “The Whalers have returned”!

To see the full plans for both options at the XL Center click here

Posted in Hartford Whalers, Hockey, NHL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cam Can: Talbot Filling in Nicely for the Blueshirts

Talbot has played great since taking over for Lundqvist

Talbot has played great since taking over for Lundqvist

When it was announced that Henrik Lundqvist would miss almost a month after taking a puck to the throat, there were immediate concerns about who would start for the Rangers in between the pipes. While it was rumored that New York was actively pursuing a trade for a stop-gap goaltender until Lundqvist was healthy is seems that the Rangers have found a solution with their 27-year-old backup.

Since taking over for Lundqvist, Cam Talbot has held his own while ensuring that the Rangers haven’t missed a beat. Talbot is 4-1-1 since the Lundqvist injury and has posted a .918 save percentage this season. With Lundqvist’s health up in the air as the postseason draws nearer, it appears that the Rangers are comfortable with Talbot for the short-term. Cam has been successful in his short career posting a 20-11 career record with a 1.95 GAA since he was first called up last season for the Rangers.

If Talbot continues his strong play for the Rangers, the team may have an interesting scenario on their hands. No, it’s not to replace Lundqvis, but it does give the Rangers a unique luxury. They can use Talbot as a great backup goaltender, or use his value to bring in a big piece for the future. Solid young goaltenders are hard to find in the NHL, and there could be a team that could give the Rangers a few good offensive or defense pieces in return for Talbot’s services.

463466874That scenario is a future one for the club to consider, but in the present the Rangers have to be happy to not have to have to overpay or trade for a journeyman goalie to fill in for Lundqvist. Talbot still has a lot to especially as the number of starts continue to climb. Still, New York fans have to be happy with what Talbot has given them so far and content that he is the answer in the net until the King makes a full recovery.

Posted in New York Rangers, NHL | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Does the Big 12 Have a Big Problem?

With the College Football Playoff in its first season the debate continues to rage about which teams should make the final four cut. For the Big 12, it’s two best teams could actually miss the playoff because of the decision the conference made in 2010.

The conference needs to bring back the Conference Championship to help in Playoff picture

The conference needs to bring back the Conference Championship to help in Playoff picture

Nobody could have foreseen it at the time but when the Big 12 eliminated the conference championship game after the 2010 season, it put up a major roadblock for it’s teams to reach the National Championship.

Despite both teams owning 10-1 records with one game to go, Baylor and TCU have been trying to crack the top four for the playoff all season. Even if both teams finish at 11-1, and despite both having a good strength of schedule, the conference’s lack of a title game will probably keep the two out of the playoff. Despite both teams having tougher schedules, the reason that a team like Ohio State could make the playoff over a Big 12 team is because of the extra win and game the conference championship provides.

fb-tcu-oct11

Despite great records and schedules, the lack of a conference championship game will probably keep a Big 12 team out of the playoff

Ohio State has had a much easier schedule and is considered to be in a weaker conference, however if they beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship, it will be hard to keep a 12- 1 team, especially one that beat a top 25 opponent in the conference championship out of the playoff. Conference like the SEC, ACC, Big 10, and Pac 12 all have conference championships with gives the champion of each conference an extra win to add to their resume for the playoff. If the Big 12 wants to have a better shot of getting into the playoff, it needs to bring back the conference championship game.

Posted in ACC, Baylor, Big10, Big12, College football, College Football Playoff, College Football Rankings, NCAA Football, Ohio State, Pac12, SEC, TCU | Leave a comment

New Flight Plan: Why The New York Jets Must Play Geno Smith

The Jets need to see if Geno Smith has anything to offer in the long-term

The Jets need to see if Geno Smith has anything to offer in the long-term

It’s a saying that has been used to describe the New York Jets 2014 season almost as much as “interception by Geno Smith”. That phrase is “the Jets have hit rock bottom”.

Here they are again! After being embarrassed for the second time this season by the Buffalo Bills in a 38-3 drubbing at Ford Field in Detroit on Monday Night Football, the 2-9 Jets have officially hit rock bottom. They’ve lost their best player to injury in Muhammad Wilkerson and had to turn from struggling veteran starter Michael Vick back to the incumbent Geno Smith. With five games left in this regrettable and lost season, the Jets should just let Geno Smith start the final games.

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Rex Ryan will be gone after the season and the organization is due for a major overhaul. With these last five games basically being a tryout for next years squad it just makes sense to start Smith. After sitting on the bench for a few weeks and realizing that his time with the Jets is now in the eleventh hour, Smith needs to play well over the final five games to prove that he should be in the mix for the starting job in 2015.

With the Jets seemingly on their way to a top five pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, if Smith wants to have any shot in New York next season he needs to finish the season with an exclamation point rather then a question mark. As the Jets starter smith has guided New York to a 9-15 record while throwing 19 touchdowns to 31 interceptions. Not exactly the numbers a team wants from their so-called franchise quarterback.

If Smith wants any shot with the Jets, or in the NFL in the long-run, he needs to go from game manager to playmaker. If he can throw and run for touchdowns while eliminating the costly mistakes that he has become well-known for, he might have a shot in the NFL.

Don’t get me wrong, Smith has great physical tools including a plus arm and great feet, but it’s the mental side of the game that worries me. This has been well documented this season whether he’s late for a meeting, or pouting on the sidelines, Geno Smith needs to prove over the final five games that he is a leader and takes being the general of the offense seriously.

It’s a long shot to think that the Jets won’t address the quarterback position this offseason, but in the present they need to evaluate Smith. While many of the offensive woes can be placed on Smith, people must realize that the entire roster is a mess.

Outside of the lack of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, the Jets offensive line outside of Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold has been a disaster. Then of course is the defense which has cornerbacks that probably shouldn’t be on an NFL roster let alone starting for the team and New York’s first round pick Calvin Pryor who has played so bad that the team has benched him.

The Jets are a disaster. There’s no way around that. However, with the plethora of problems on both sides of the ball and in the front office, ifGeno Smith can show some signs at life, it could give the organization a year to build up the rest of the roster around Smith and then make a decision on what to do at quarterback next year.

Is Geno Smith's replacement in the 2015 NFL Draft? Could Mariota or Winston be the next QB for the Jets?

Is Geno Smith’s replacement in the 2015 NFL Draft? Could Mariota or Winston be the next QB for the Jets?

However, if Smith plays like he has throughout his first 24 starts, then the Jets scouts will once again be looking for a quarterback at the combine for the third time in six years. Do I hear the Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston Jets rumors off in the distance?

Posted in Football, New york Jets, NFL, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Suspension Mark the End of Adrian Peterson Being the Best NFL Running Back

Will this suspension be the end of Peterson being an elite player?

Will this suspension be the end of Peterson being an elite player?

With the announcement that Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson will be suspended for the rest of the season, the Vikings franchise is at a critical crossroad. With three years remaining on the 96 $Million Deal that Peterson received in  2011, the Vikings will owe 13$ million to Peterson next year. However, if the team cuts him before the season it would only put a 2.4 $ Million cap penalty on the team in 2015.  While it may seem inconceivable that even after everything that has occurred this season that the Vikings would get rid of their franchise player, it’s time to move on.

Running backs are always tricky in the NFL. one season they can go from Pro Bowl players to the next an offensive hinderance. Minnesota could try to move Peterson for some draft picks, but with a 13$million dollar cap hit in 2015, the off the field issues, and the fact that he won’t play for almost a full season will make it almost impossible to move Peterson for a decent return. Instead, the Vikings should look to rebuild around their young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and continue to build around the strong young nucleus of players on the roster.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s better to get rid of a player one year early rather than a year too late. Peterson may have taken off almost the entire season, which some will view as a rest period for the running, but he’s still had plenty of wear on his tires. He’s already passed the 2,000 carry mark in his career, a barometer many coaches around the NFL view as the peak of a running back’s career and after that milestone many  running backs are on the downside of their career. Peterson will also turn 30 in March, another infamous landmark for NFL backs that indicates the beginning of decline.

Peterson's day in court might have been the final straw in Minnesota

Peterson’s day in court might have been the final straw in Minnesota

Can Peterson still be effective? Of course, but it’s unfair to assume that he will be the great runner he has been. Peterson can not handle the load or be the sole focal point of an offense. Where Peterson will play in 2015 is still a distant thought but it will be interesting to see if he is on a new team, what role will he play?

As for the Vikings, this is not a total loss. They still have a young developing quarterback and will have more than 10 $Million under the cap if they release Peterson. Let’s not forget that despite his greatness Peterson has only one playoff win as a Viking with three playoff losses. Unfortunately, running backs can get a team to the post season, but in today’s NFL a team needs a quarterback to win in the playoffs. So for the Minnesota Vikings, it’s time to move on from Peterson. Even if he still has a good year or two left in the tank, the team needs to prepare for the long-term because they are not a Super Bowl contender.

 

Posted in Football, NFL, sports, Sports debate, Sports Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment