Saturday, April 29, 2006

NFL Draft Starts With Early Bang

The Houston Texans sent shockwaves throughout the sports world yesterday by signing and making DE Mario Williams the No.1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

While every draftnik was tearing up their mock drafts - the obvious question floating through the ether is why? How can you take Mario Williams ahead of Reggie Bush?

I feel that Williams has the biggest upside of anyone in the draft, but that's upside. Not right now. Williams is still inconsistent, lacks some technique and takes plays off. Bush is the most explosive back to enter the draft since Barry Sanders.

He's a combination of Sanders, Marshall Faulk and somebody named Sayers all rolled into one. Mario Williams will be a great player, but Bush is a game changer. With one run, one catch, one punt return - he can reshape the outcome of any contest. Very few people can do that. Lawrence Taylor was one of a tiny minority of defensive players able to it.

I really have trouble understanding the thinking of the Texans. If they decided that Williams was better for them than Bush, why not trade out of the top spot for more picks? They could have struck a deal with the Saints or Jets and still picked up Williams. In addition to grabbing the extra picks by trading out.

This could end up being one of the biggest blunders in the history of the NFL Draft, but you never know, stranger things have happened. Bush could get hurt or just not make the transition to the NFL, but that's highly unlikely.

Mario Williams will eventually be a great player. Houston's major mistake is that Reggie Bush already is.

I still stand by my mock draft. The only change will be Williams at No.1; Bush will go second to the Saints; and the Jets will take D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Everything else stays pat. I hope.

This is just the beginning. It should be an awesome day. This is the most unpredictable draft in years. Just ask Reggie Bush. I for one have my food tray ready and the TV warmed up. I hope your team gets the player you want as long as it doesn't interfere with my team and its needs.

Take care, enjoy the day, and watch for the Corners draft analysis for day one on Sunday and for overall grades on Monday.

Friday, April 28, 2006

NFL Mock Draft

It's time for the NFL Draft. Don't you love it? All over the net, thousands and thousands of mock drafts are laid out for everyone to see. Not to be out-done, the Corner decided to run it's own mock for all the world to see.

This draft is not taking into consideration potential trades or late free agent signings that may effect draft need. Some teams like the Saints, Rams and Bears, are looking to trade down, while others like the Vikings and Patriots want to move up.

It's a crap shoot. Teams lie and spread misinformation. No one knows what will happen, but it's a helluva lot of fun to guess. So, without further delay, here is the Corners very own 2006 NFL mock draft:

1. Houston - Reggie Bush, RB, USC.
Despite all the buzz about the Texans considering Mario Williams this will not happen. Bush is the most electrifying player in the draft. Houston would be crazy not to take him.

2. New Orleans - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia.
The Saints will wrestle with the pick. Do they take Williams or Ferguson. What they want to do is trade down and get A.J. Hawk. In the end, protecting new QB Drew Brees is most important. Jammal Brown and Ferguson will be awesome bookends for many, many years.

3. Tennessee - Vince Young, QB, Texas.
The coaching staff (Jeff Fisher, Norm Chow) want Matt Leinart. Management (GM Floyd Reese, Owner Bud Adams) want Young. Who do you think will win the argument?

4. New York Jets - Mario Williams, DE, NC State.
Leinart is right there waiting for the Jets to pounce on, but with the loss of John Abraham and the incredible talent of Williams, new defensive-minded head coach Eric Mangini will go for defense. It'll be fun listening to the reaction of the New York fans.

5. Green Bay - A.J. Hawk, OLB, Ohio State.
The Pack gets who many believe is the best all-around defensive player in the draft. He will come in and start immediately for Green Bay.

6. San Francisco - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland.
Tight ends usually don't go this high, but then again no tight end has ever been as freakishly athletic as Davis. Could redefine the position.

7. Oakland - Matt Leinart, QB, USC.
Al Davis wanted Young, but Leinart is more polished and ready to start right away. Remember the last talented left-hander to start in Oakland? Yes, Ken Stabler. He wasn't too bad now was he?

8. Buffalo - Broderick Bunkley, DT, Florida State.
Marv Levy and company will think about Jay Cutler and Winston Justice with this pick, but Bunkly makes the most sense. He's the most gifted DT in the draft and fits in perfectly with the Bills' scheme.

9. Detroit - Michael Huff, DB, Texas.
Has the talent and athletic gifts to play corner or safety. The best DB in the draft. After three straight years selecting a wide receiver and the mishap of Joey Harrington. Matt Millen better draft defense or it could get ugly in the Motor City.

10. Arizona - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt.
Dennis Green will consider Ernie Sims with this pick, but with Josh McCown going to Detroit and John Navarre serving as the backup to the 34-year-old, injury prone Kurt Warner, taking your QB of the future makes sense here.

11. St. Louis - Chad Greenway, OLB, Iowa.
Would like to trade down a couple spots, gain some picks and select Tye Hill of Clemson. I don't think that's going to happen, so the safe pick is Greenway. The guy is intense, plays faster than he's been timed and is a tackling machine (401 career stops at Iowa). The Rams were 30th against the run in 2005. Nuff said.

12. Cleveland - Kamerion Wimbley, DE/LB, Florida State.
Fits the mold that Romeo Crennell is looking for in his 3-4 scheme. Can learn the position under Willie McGinest, one of the best.

13. Baltimore - Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon.
Ray Lewis is unhappy. He wants a big DT again in the Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa mold. With the Ravens returning to the 4-3, Lewis gets his wish - a big, run-stuffing tackle.

14. Philadelphia - Winston Justice, OT, USC.
Andy Reid loves to draft offensive lineman and with Tra Thomas not getting any younger, Reid finds his left tackle of the future. Could also consider Ernie Sims with this pick.

15. Denver - Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State.
With Rod Smith now 35 and Ashley Lelie wanting out of Mile High, the Broncos look to wide receiver with Holmes being the most ready to play right now. This could change if Denver can deal for Javon Walker.

16. Miami - Manny Lawson, DE/LB, NC State.
Nick Saban will seriously look at Chad Jackson, but with perennial pro bowler Jason Taylor turning 32 and starting to wear down, the Dolphins need to find that linebacker/end tweener who can get after the passer. Lawson is the man to do it.

17. Minnesota - Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State.
The Vikings were praying that Cutler would fall here and they may look at Jackson as well. But with linebacker being a crucial need and a hard-hitter like Sims falling to 17, Minnesota has to select him.

18. Dallas - Bobby Carpenter, OLB, Ohio State.
Bill Parcells loves players who's dads played the game. Carpenter especially considering his father Rob played for Parcells when Tuna coached the Giants. Dallas needs another linebacker to complete their 3-4 transition and Carpenter is smart and works hard.

19. San Diego - Chad Jackson, WR, Florida.
The Chargers really need a corner, but they must add more weapons to help new QB Philip Rivers. The receiving corps is led by aging Keenan McCardell and guys named Reche Caldwell and Eric Parker. Another weapon to join Antonio Gates and LaDanian Tomlinson will take the pressure off Rivers.

20. Kansas City - Tye Hill, CB, Clemson.
The Chiefs address a real need by drafting the best cover corner in the draft. Despite his small size (5-9, 185), Hill has blazing speed, superb leaping ability and excellent hands.

21. New England - Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State.
The Patriots would love to trade up and get either Hill, Carpenter or Jackson, but I don't see that happening. New England wants to upgrade their secondary and while Antonio Cromartie has tons of talent, his lack of experience and injuries will scare the Pats away.

22. San Francisco - Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State.
The Niners secondary is horrible and despite his injury problems, San Fran will not let Cromartie slip any farther.

23. Tampa Bay - Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State.
The Bucs would really love to draft a tackle with their first pick, but Marcus McNeil and his bad back is scaring Tampa away and Eric Winston is too inconsistent to be a first round pick. Mangold is smart, athletic for his size and can play center or guard. He will help the line problems in Buc Land very quickly.

24. Cincinnati - Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech.
The majority of draft gurus believe that the Bengals are taking a tight end with this pick. Don't forget, the draft is deep this year for tight ends and Marvin Lewis is a defensive guy. Williams has top 10 talent, but fell down the draft because of attitude problems. The Bengals will have a hard time not picking him.

25. New York Giants - Jason Allen, S/CB, Tennessee.
Many feel the Giants will go running back, but once again you have a very talented defensive player falling. This time because of injuries. Allen will be the best defensive player still available and the Giants will be hard-pressed to pass him up.

26. Chicago - Marcedes Lewis, TE, UCLA.
The Bears have a great defense (No. 1 in the NFL in 2005) and a decent one-two punch in the backfield (Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson). What they don't have is another weapon to throw to besides Muhsin Muhammad. Lewis has the best hands of any tight end in the draft, even Vernon Davis.

27. Carolina - LenDale White, RB, USC.
The Panthers need help at linebacker after losing Will Witherspoon and Brandon Short, but John Fox and company will find it hard to believe that White fell this far, despite the injury, and will pull the trigger for Stephen Davis' replacement. This could be the steal of the draft since many scouts have him rated as a top ten talent.

28. Jacksonville - DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis.
The Jags snag Williams in hopes of finding the replacement for the aging Fred Taylor. Williams fell because of his size, but he has worlds of talent and is capable of being a dominant back in the NFL.

29. New York Jets - Lawrence Maroney, RB, Minnesota.
The run on running backs continues as the Jets draft the person they hope will be the replacement for Curtis Martin. New York needs OL help as well and may select G Davin Joseph with the pick. Jets fans would really be happy then.

30. Indianapolis - DeMeco Ryans, OLB, Alabama.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Colts won't take a back in the first round even if White, Maroney or Williams are available. Tony Dungy and company feel they can draft a good back in the second round (Joseph Addai or Jerious Norwood). Indy will be looking to linebacker, where they have lost three starters the last three years in free agency, including David Thornton this season.

31. Seattle - Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina.
The defending NFC champs are thinking about improving their pass rush and could select Mathias Kiwanuka or Tamba Hali with this pick. But Holmgren has been adamant about improving the secondary so corner looks like the choice. Kelly Jennings and Ashton Youboty are possible selections as well, but Joseph has more upside.

32. Pittsburgh - Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami.
The Super Bowl champs are looking at safety (Ko Simpson and Darnell Bing) and corner (Jennings and Youboty), but if there's any weakness on the Steelers it's at wide receiver. After losing Antwaan Randle-El to the Redskins, Bill Cowher has Cedrick Wilson and Quincey Morgan fighting to play alongside Hines Ward. That won't cut it for the Steelers. Randle-El was their speed guy and punt returner. Even though Moss is only in the 5-7, 5-8 range, he has 4.3 speed and would be a significant upgrade to the Steelers at the receiver position and in special teams.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Favre Will Play Another Season - Awesome!

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre ended months of speculation Wednesday when he announced he'll be returning for his 16th NFL season.

The second all-time leading passer in pro football history decided that he didn't want to end his career with a 4-12 record and a career high 29 picks hanging over him from last season.

With his announcement, everyone in Green Bay breathed a sigh of relief and now can look forward to the draft. With Ahman Green healthy, Charles Woodson signed and Vernon Davis or A.J. Hawk in their sights, Packer Nation has reason to be optimistic.

Outside of Green Bay, the reaction to Favre has been completely different. The majority of sports writers, columnist and football fans in general is one of negativity. I've read tons of columns stating Favre is not the same player, he doesn't have passion anymore and needs to retire.

To be frank, that's a load of horse dung! I agree that Favre isn't the same player who won three straight MVP awards and took the Packers to two Super Bowls between 1995-97. But even a 37-year old Favre is better than 90 percent of the quarterbacks in the NFL.

Also, Favre doesn't have the players around him he used to have. The talent level in Green Bay has thinned considerably. Unless football changed during the off-season, it's still a team game. No matter how good someone is, they can't do it alone.

The numbers speak for themselves: 4,678 completions on 7,610 attempts for 53,615 yards and 396 touchdowns. All those numbers are second in NFL history. By the end of this season, Favre could be numero uno in completions and TDs.

Questioning his passion is even more ridiculous. The guy has started an NFL record 221 straight games. He's played with broken bones, deaths in the family, his wife battling cancer and a host of other ailments and problems. Did he miss any games? Never! Did his level of play drop? NO!

Favre plays the game the way it should be. With the enthusiasm of a kid in the backyard. Does he throw the ball up for grabs at times? Does he take some chances that don't work out? Of course, but that's what makes Favre who he is. More times than not, his gambles pay off big time.

The QB from Kiln, Mississippi makes the league better and I for one, hope he stays in the game as long as his body holds up and the passion still burns inside. He's the face of the Packers, the face of the NFL and a truly amazing athlete.

As much as he's given to the game, let him decide when it's time to go. Why would anyone want to see Favre leave? It's crazy.

Enjoy it while he's here because when Brett Favre finally hangs up his cleats, pro football will never see his like again.

Monday, April 24, 2006

NFL Draft-Defensive Backs and Kickers

This weeks final podcast on the NFL Draft Preview looks at the defensive backs and kickers that may go on the first day.

The safety position is a deep group that's paced by all-everything Michael Huff of Texas, while Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams, Florida State's Antonio Cromartie and Clemson's Tye Hill lead the corners.

Download the MP3 here

Saturday, April 22, 2006

NFL Draft Tidbits

It seems LenDale White and his torn hamstring may not fall out of the first round after all. Five teams (Denver, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Indianapolis) are very interested in White, regardless of his injury.

Despite not participating at the combine or at the USC pro day, White's size and production in college (55 TDs, back-to-back thousand yard seasons), appear too good for some teams to let him slip out of the first round.

While I doubt the Broncos and Cowboys will grab White with the 15th and 18th picks respectively, the Panthers, Colts and Steelers are definitely interested in the big 244-pound behemoth in the bottom of the round.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan is looking for someone to replace Mike Anderson, who packed his bags and signed with Baltimore. The Broncos were trying to work a deal with Miami for Ricky Williams, but his impending drug suspension ruined that. Even though White is tempting, the Broncos need a wideout. Rod Smith is 35-years old and Ashley Lelie has been a bust and wants out of the Mile High City. Denver will grab a receiver.

Carolina released Stephen Davis and starter DeShaun Foster gets hurt just walking out on the field, so White is a possibility. The problem is the Panthers lost up and coming linebacker Will Witherspoon to St. Louis and Brandon Short went back to the Giants. Linebacker will be a priority for coach John Fox and the Panthers.

I see White going to Pittsburgh or Indianapolis. The Colts have their sites set on Minnesota's Lawrence Maroney, but he may go to the Jets with their second pick in the first round. Indy needs linebackers and secondary help, but losing Edgerrin James could tip the edge to White. New starter Dominic Rhodes is smaller in stature and the Colts are used to a big power back in the James mold.

The Steelers have some need at receiver (Antwan Randle-El left for Washington) and secondary (Chris Hope to Tennessee), but Bill Cowher loves big backs and with 'The Bus' retired, White may be the guy for them.

Barring any last minute draft day trades, the first seven picks look set. Houston will select RB Reggie Bush; New Orleans will go with DE Mario Williams; Tennessee will pick QB Matt Leinart; the Jets will grab OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson; Green Bay will take OLB A.J. Hawk; San Francisco will select TE Vernon Davis and Oakland will go with QB Vince Young.

Buffalo selects in the eighth spot and are interested in defensive tackles Broderick Bunkley and Haloti Ngata; tackle Winston Justice and DB Michael Huff. The rest of the first round depends on what the Bills, Marv Levy in particular, decide.

Look for the Corners entire first round mock draft next week.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coaches Clinic-Center Pass Drill

It's often best to have the beginning player use a simple drill to develop snapping skills.

The center kneels on his right knee, grasping the ball in both hands. He then takes the ball off the ground and holds it over his head. With the ball behind and over his head, arms fully extended, he should pass the ball forward to another center, who is also kneeling and facing him from 10 yards away.

It is important for the coach to to emphasize that the center follow through after the pass and that the fingers of both hands end up reaching out toward his partner. The same motion is used when snapping the ball between his legs.

This coaching tip/drill brought to you by

Monday, April 17, 2006

NFL Draft-Defensive Line and Linebackers

This weeks podcast on the Corner takes a look at the defensive lineman and linebackers that should be selected on the first day of the draft.

The OLB class is solid with A.J. Hawk, Ernie Sims and Chad Greenway highlighting the group, while Mario Williams, Broderick Bunkley, Haloti Ngata and Manny Lawson are at the forefront of the defensive line.

Download the MP3 here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

White Injury, Williams Decision Will Alter Draft

The LenDale White injury and the Ricky Williams hearing graced the internet and the sports pages this week with little fanfare, but these two supposedly unrelated events have something very much in common.

Both outcomes have a lot of meaning as far as the NFL Draft is concerned. How you may be thinking? I'm glad you asked.

Throughout every draft, a high-ranking player on every scribes draft board falters. That's the nature of the business of football. This is a numbers game. The NFL has numbers for 40 times, vertical leaps, bench press reps and even a value is given for the round your picked in and what salary you can earn for each round.

White has become this years avalanche. Aaron Rodgers was the guy last season. Most experts had him going one or two - he ended up at 24. Before the combine, White was projected as a top ten pick by some, a top 15 by most.

That is, until the combine. At Indy, White didn't participate in any event but the 225-pound bench press. He maxed out at 15 reps. His teammate, Reggie Bush, who is 45 pounds lighter, did 24 reps. Uh-oh!

Then some two months later at the USC pro day, White weighed in at 244 pounds, nine pounds heavier than at the combine and didn't participate in any workouts. Red flags were waved. His stock was dropping faster then Enron's and Martha Stewart Living put together.

This week came the news that White has a torn hamstring up near the pelvic area. What are the ramifications from his injury? For starters, White's chances of being drafted in the first round are over. No one is going to take a player in the first round who is injured and hasn't a 40 time or any significant numbers to compare to other backs.

He will fall into the second round and may become the steal of the draft. Only time will tell. The implications of his injury are immediate. White was projected to be a top 20 pick. With that gone, all other backs move up. UCLA tailback Maurice Drew could move into the first round. The Indianapolis Colts are sick, because they were pretty confident that Laurence Maroney was theirs. Now he may be gone by the time they pick at 30. The draft boards of some teams will be completely re-organized.

Williams made a huge splash in 1999 when Mike Ditka, then head coach of the New Orleans Saints, did the unprecedented and traded away his entire draft for the rights to take Ricky. We all remember Ditka wearing dreadlocks and saying how great of a deal he made. Right.

Now eight years and much bong resin later, Williams is causing a draft stir again. Only this time it's because of his off-field incidents.

The Miami Dolphin back, who rushed for over 700 yards after coming back from retirement, failed a fourth drug test, according to the NFL and will be suspended for the season. Williams immediately filed an appeal. In it, the former Texas Longhorn star stated that he wasn't taking any drugs, but a natural herb supplement.

The NFL heard his appeal this week. Williams even had Dolphin head coach Nick Sabin on hand to lend support.

Make no mistake, Sabin was doing it for selfish reasons. He was close to trading Williams to the Broncos this off-season and now that Denver has two first round picks, he really wants to talk. But, even if a deal wouldn't go down, Sabin would love to keep Ricky just in case something should happen to Ronnie Brown.

Make no mistake, whatever the NFL decides about Williams will have major draft implications, at least for the Dolphins and maybe the Broncos. The mysterious power of synchronicity is at work here. The LenDale White and Ricky Williams stories may seem unconnected to the undiscerning eye, but come draft day, many teams will feel the effects of both.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Coaches Clinic - Eye Opener Drill

Eye Opener Drill

A A1

Bag (separated by) Bag


B B1

We emphasize that at the corners the players who get there first, with the most enthusiasm, control the game.

Players A1 & B1 await the toss of the ball by the coach, which determines offense and defense. Upon the pitch, all four men storm between the dummies (bags) and fight for either a gain or prevent a gain of 3 yards.

We have championships and challenges. If a boy likes to hit and move it will show.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

NFL Draft-Offensive Line & Tight Ends

This weeks podcast on the Corner takes a look at the offensive lineman and tight ends that should be selected on the first day of the draft.

The OL class is a solid group with D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Winston Justice highlighting the tackles, while Nick Mangold and Davin Joseph hold down the interior line. The tight end class may be one of the best ever with as many as seven or eight players going on day one.

Download the MP3 here.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Saints Trade Will Impact Draft

Lost in the headlines this week was the trade the New Orleans Saints made with the Atlanta Falcons that will have a huge impact in the top half of the 2006 draft.

The Saints traded away starting left tackle Wayne Gandy to the Falcons for safety Bryan Scott and a future late-round draft pick. This trade gives us a pretty good indication of how the top 10 picks may pan out.

With Jammal Brown moving over to the left side after an impressive rookie campaign, that leaves Jon Stinchcomb the new starter on the right side, despite missing all of 2005 with a knee injury. Or does it?

Would Saints owner Tom Benson hand the reigns of the franchise to newly acquired quarterback Drew Brees, who is coming off an injury himself, and then have him protected by a lineman who has gimpy knees?

How do they know Brown will be able to handle the left side? He's a powerhouse run blocker, but needs work on his pass protection.

The obvious choice for New Orleans and their number two or four pick would be mammoth tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, rated by some scouts as the best tackle prospect since Orlando Pace came out in 1997. A bookend of Brown, at his normal position on the right side, and Ferguson, manning the left, would have Deuce McAllister drooling and defensive coordinators crying.

The only thing that could possibly change that scenario is South Carolina defensive end Mario Williams. the 6-7, 295-pound monster is a potential game changer and the Saints will probably not decide until their time runs out on April 29th.

I believe New Orleans will go with Ferguson, even if the rumor of the Jets moving up to grab the Saints two spot holds true.

The top ten picks, according to yours truly, play out like this. Houston will take Reggie Bush, RB, USC; the Jets will give up one of their number ones, move up in the draft, and take Matt Linehart, QB, USC; the Titans will grab Vince Young, QB, Texas; the Saints will take Ferguson; and the Packers will scoop up Williams at number five.

The San Francisco 49ers will pick up A.J. Hawk at the sixth spot; the Oakland Raiders will take Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland; the Buffalo Bills will snap up Broderick Bunkley, DT, Florida State; the Lions will take Michael Huff, DB, Texas and the Cardinals will plan for the future by picking Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler at number ten.

It should make for a very interesting top ten come draft day.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Coaches Clinic-Defensive Back Drill

Butt-To-Butt Drill

The defensive back faces the coach to the inside of the receiver with his butt touching the butt of the receiver.

The receiver starts on his own and the defensive back chases him down. The ball is thrown a little short. When the receivers hands go up for the catch, we try to strip or deflect the pass.

The defender keeps his eyes on the receiver and doesn't look back for the ball.
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Monday, April 03, 2006

NFL Draft-Wide Receivers

This weeks podcast on the Corner takes a look at the wide receivers that should be selected on the first day of the draft.

This class is decent, but there's not much depth, so there should be plenty of receivers being snapped up early. In the middle rounds lies my sleeper pick. Want to know who it is? Listen in to find out.

Hint: He's from C-USA.

Download MP3 here.