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Meet Brian Banks.

Eleven years ago, he was a 16-year-old playing the game he loved, like many of us did back in the glory days– except that Brian was good… really, really good.

A 6’2″, 225-pound beast running a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, Banks was one of the top-rated high school linebackers in the country. All of the major college football programs recruited him tirelessly hoping he would come to their respective schools. Brian committed to play for USC, a program that would likely serve as a launchpad for his dream of playing in the NFL one day.

There he was, ready to showcase his supreme, God-given talent to the world at the collegiate level; the grass couldn’t get any greener for the high school star.

And then it happened.

No, Brian didn’t make a bonehead move and throw his future down the drain like we’ve become way too accustomed to seeing today. It was taken from him… wrongfully. He was accused of rape by a fellow student.

Brian proclaimed innocence throughout and was never linked to the crime by DNA testing. However, because of the fear of a sterner sentence if found guilty, he pled no contest on the advice of his attorney and was sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years of parole.

The former dream of playing football in the NFL had drastically shifted to simply wanting the freedom that was rightfully his.

During the latter part of his parole, his accuser contacted him via Facebook and wanted to “let bygones be bygones,” as he told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. Brian arranged a meeting at a private investigator’s office, and Wanetta Gibson was videotaped admitting that Banks had never committed any crime against her. In May 2012, Brian was finally set free– exonerated by the same judge that had sentenced him ten years earlier.

Banks said the years of parole were almost tougher than prison before Gibson came forward.

“I couldn’t live within 2,000 feet of a school or park. It was impossible to find work. I had a GPS strapped to my ankle for five years. I couldn’t leave the state or county under any circumstances.”

But now with his freedom once again a reality, Banks could focus back on his primary dream all along– playing football in the NFL.

Last season, Banks worked out for several NFL teams. While none of them offered him a contract, he remained focused on his ultimate goal and signed with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL to garner some game experience. The UFL season was cut short due to financial reasons, but one team saw enough in Banks to give him a shot.

This past week, as FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer initially reported with the tweet below, the Atlanta Falcons signed Brian Banks to a contract– making his seemingly impossible dream that much closer to fruition.

tweet

Glazer himself has an interesting relationship with Banks. Once Banks was exonerated, his agent Bruce Tollner approached Glazer, who trains athletes in mixed martial arts, about working with his hopeful client. When Glazer began working out with Banks and heard his story, he was moved and even began reaching out to NFL teams lobbying for him to get a chance.

After last season, the Falcons told Glazer they would give Banks a shot and work with him in the offseason if he wasn’t signed by a team yet. After they signed Banks this past week, Falcons coach Mike Smith told Glazer “I hope you never doubted us. We keep our promises.” In a sports world where a contract is hardly as meaningful as a napkin note, it’s refreshing to see a franchise stick to its word and give a deserving kid a chance.

For Banks, making the 53-man roster or the practice squad may still be an uphill battle, but, as he alludes to, the toughest task is well behind him.

“The biggest thing for me was to have my freedom be given back to me. Everything else is just me trying to live a life I once lost.”

With the bulk of his prime taken wrongfully from him, you can’t help but root for the 27-year-old chasing his dreams despite overwhelming odds. Whatever happens with Mr. Banks, you can be certain a little bump in the road won’t slow him down.

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I know you’ve had those days when you’re head is aching beyond belief and nothing else seems to matter. We all know the reason for this… It’s because you’re too smart. That’s exactly right. If doctors tell you it’s because of other reasons, they’re lying. So go ahead, tell you’re friends your pain is due to the massive amounts of brain activity going on up there, which your skull simply can’t contain. However, if today is one of those days, I know you’re not looking for a pat on the back, you need a solution. I have it. A quick and easy remedy in less than 5 minutes. Guaranteed or your money back. Watch this quick clip of Richard Sherman on ESPN’s First Take, your IQ will take an immediate decline, and the headache will be no more. I can’t believe no one thought of this sooner.

February 26, 2013

Ok, so here it is. My long awaited 2013 Mock Draft. I know everyone has been itching to see what my extremely educated predications would be. Right? Well, the 2013 combine is over and players have (justifiably or not, that is an argument for another day) made or lost millions of dollars based on how fast they run and how high they jump inside of a controlled setting. You may think I say that mockingly, but I am a combine junkie. I watch it every year, and am drawn into all of the little things that people think are stupid. That being said, I do see the problems with putting too much stock into those numbers. To be a first round talent, first and foremost you have to be a football player. That is why some players didn’t fall through the ranks of my list, sometimes a football player is a football player and doesn’t deserve to be stripped of his first round grade because he can’t run in a straight line as fast as a guy with half his production. So, read and enjoy. I will update this a few times before April, so keep your eyes open.

1.  Kansas City Chiefs – OT – Luke Joeckel – Texas A&M

The Chiefs pretty much need a game changer at every position. Looking at their roster will make anyone uncomfortable. Their team needs a lot of help, and it needs it soon. One of the positions that they desperately need a game changer at is QB. Then why didn’t I pick a QB you ask? The best QB on the board, by leaps and bounds, is Geno Smith. And Geno Smith is not valuable enough to take at number 1. I think the chiefs could make a trade down, and may get Geno in the first round, but at pick number 1? I hope not. That would be overvaluing a player at its finest. So Kansas City, clear the ruble and begin where the game starts – the OL. Luke Joeckl deserves the top spot at OT and if KC stays at pick 1, he should get the call.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE – Bjoren Werner – Florida State

Another team that, in my opinion needs a QB, but again, not this high. The Jaguars need help on the defensive side of the ball. They were last in the league in sacks last year, so an elite pass rusher is essential. John Babbich, the Jaguars new DC, is a 30 year coaching veteran who will want to implement a hard nosed defense. That won’t be possible if the Jags cant get the QB. Werner will be an immediate help in their pass rush. The kid is no slouch against the run either, and is the best DE in the draft. He didn’t show out at the combine, but I don’t think he did bad enough to drop out of the top 5 – unlike Domontre Moore. Last week, I might have gone with Moore in this spot, but his combine showing was less impressive than I hoped for, and his 40 time may hurt his stock. So, bring on the German.

3. Oakland Raiders – DT – Star Lotulelei – Utah

The Oakland Raiders need a few upgrades on the defensive side of the ball. I think DT is more essential than a DB for this team, so I’m passing over Dee Milner.  I initially had Florida’s Sherriff Floyd rated slightly higher than Lotulelei, but Lotulelei just looks more like a Raider. 6’2”, 311 lbs, and a beautiful beard. Floyd weighed in at the combine a little on the light side, “only” 297. While Floyd might be more athletic, Lotulelei is more Raider.

4. Phillidelphia Eagles – OT – Lane Johnson – Oklahoma

I admit, this has been the toughest call for me so far. The Eagles have a brand new coaching staff, headed by offensive genius Chip Kelley. However, it will likely be their defense that changes the most drastically. No more wide-nine bologna. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dee Milliner came off the board here to sure up that secondary. But, it is no secret that the Eagles struggled on the OL last year, unusually high number of injuries or not. Lane Johnson made some money over the weekend, he was top among OL in almost every category. The TE turned OL showed off his athleticism, and Chip Kelley was probably drooling at that size and speed. LT Jason Peters is expected to return to starting duties, but I think last season combined with Johnson’s excellent workout over the weekend makes him too good to pass up. He is strong enough to play RT until his time comes on the other side.

5. Detroit Lions – CB – Dee Milliner – Alabama

The Lions need a DB. Badly. Dee Milliner is the best on the board, and a sure fire top 5 pick.  He is a complete CB that will be able to completely erase a WR after a little bit of seasoning in the NFL. He struggled a bit in combine drills with his ball skills, but that isn’t something I saw during his time at Alabama. If he is available here, I don’t think the Lions will blink before entering their pick.

6. Cleveland Browns – DE – Barkevious Mingo – LSU

Ok, here it is. The first player that I am probably overvaluing based on combine results and pure athleticism (I don’t count  Lane Johnson. He played against a higher level of competition than Eric Fisher, and his measurables show his skill). Don’t get me wrong, Mingo has been productive for LSU, but it is his measurable that are going to make NFL coaches giddy. He has a slight frame, but running a 4.58 40 yard dash makes up for it. He will be able to outrun some DBs on whatever team that drafts him, and will be an immediate help in the pass rush. He will be a perfect fit in a 3-4 defense, just like the one that new DC Ray Horton plans to run at Cleveland.

7. Arizona Cardinals – QB – Geno Smith – West Virginia

And here it is people, the team who is desperate enough to take a QB in the top 10, even without a QB having actual top 10 value. Arizona needs someone behind center, and Geno Smith is the best available. Arizona may look to make a trade before April and get this role filled, but until that happens I think they will take Smith.

8. Buffalo Bills – ILB – Alec Ogletree – Georgia

I think Ogletree is the second best linebacker on Georgia’s squad, so it surprises even me that I have him being drafted before Jarvis Jones. However, the Bills need help inside, not out. And Ogletree is the best ILB in the draft. I will hear no arguments for Manti T’eo.

9. New York Jets – OLB – Ezekiel Ansah – BYU  

My how the Jets have fallen. It was a slow crash that everyone not a Jets fans, on the inside at least, liked watching. It is like a train wreck that one just can’t look away from. Their drafting hasn’t been great, and no matter what they do, they can’t seem to find that ever-elusive pass rusher. Ezekiel Ansah will give them that. He is a bit raw, but we know Rex Ryan loves to take risks on projects.

10. Tennessee Titans – DE – Damontre Moore – Texas A&M

The Titans could use an OL or two, but they need a DE. I could see them reaching for Chance Warmack here, but that seems like a reach to me for a player who can only play OG in the NFL. He will be a good one, but I don’t think he warrants a top 10 pick. Moore offers Tennessee a solid pass rush off the end. His poor combine numbers excluded, this kid can play football, and deserves to be a top 10 pick.

11. San Diego Chargers – OT – Eric Fisher – Central Michigan

When I started writing this, I didn’t expect Fisher to drop out of the top 10. He is a very good OT, and will have a long and prosperous career in the NFL. Lane Johnson’s showing at the combine is the only reason I have him outside the top 10, if he sneaks in before, I wouldn’t be surprised. He fits the chargers need for a true LT.

12. Miami Dolphins – WR – Cordarrelle Patterson – Tennessee

I asked my Miami native roommate who he wanted to see the Dolphins draft. He said a new GM. However, since Jeff Ireland is still employed, lets try to enter his mind on draft day. The Dolphins have not had a true number 1 receiver in a number of years. Cordarrell Patterson is the only receiver in this class worthy of a top 15 pick. I think he could be an immediate impact player for the Dolphins and give Ryan Tannehill the help he needs.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S – Kenny Vaccaro – Texas

Ronde Barber hasn’t said he is going to retire, but he hasn’t renounced those rumors either. He may be getting older, but he is still playing at a high level. However, when he does decide to step away, the Bucs will need a safety to complement Mark Barron. Taking a safety with your first pick two years in a row might sound a little crazy, but they need help in the defensive backfield.

14. Carolina Panthers – DT – Sherriff Floyd – Florida

How did this guy get this far down my board? He might be the best DT in the draft, and is an athletic freak (I know I have another DT ahead of him, I already explained why). He is a little light for an every-down 3 tech, but the panthers can just feed him a little extra before games. The guy is an athlete, and will be a good fit in the Panther’s scheme.

15. New Orleans Saints – OLB – Jarvis Jones – Georgia

Jones dropped this low just because of Ezekiel Ansah’s combine performance and Rex Ryan’s propensity towards taking calculated risks. However, the saints are moving to a 3-4 and need an OLB that can get to the QB. Jarvis Jones is that type of player.

16. St. Louis Rams – OG – Chance Warmack – Alabama

The Rams need help on the interior of their line. Chance Warmack is the best OG in the draft. He wouldn’t have fallen this far if he was able to play another position on the line. However, he is a pure road grader on the interior and will likely start immediately for the Rams.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB/DE – Dion Jordan – Oregon

Jordan is a guy who helped his stock tremendously with a good showing in combine drills. The Steelers need a pass rusher, and if Jordan is still available they will snatch him up.

18. Dallas Cowboys – OG – Jonathan Cooper – North Carolina

This is a guy who plays with a nasty streak. His knock, before coming to the combine was his weight. However, he added 30 lbs to his frame and his drills didn’t suffer from it. If he can keep the weight on during the season, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the field.

19. New York Giants – TE – Zach Ertz – Stanford

The New York giants are good at most positions, not great, but at least solid. They could use an upgrade in more than one area, but TE is a position that they need a consistent threat. With the growing role of the TE in the NFL, Zach Ertz has become fairly valuable. He solidified his role as the top TE at the combine, and will be a big pickup for the Giants here.

20. Chicago Bears – OT – DJ Fluker – Alabama

The bears need help blocking. Period. People give Jay Cutler a hard time for being whiney, which he is, but a lot of it stems from spending a lot of time on his back. Fluker is a solid RT who is mean enough to play OG. He will be an upgrade for the Bears.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – ILB – Manti T’eo – Notre Dame

I have long thought T’eo overrated. A fake girlfriend scandal and a poor showing at the combine and he has dropped significantly in coaches’ eyes as well. However, someone is going to give him a shot in the first round. Rey Maualuga is a free agent, and isn’t expected to be with the Bengals next season. So, they may very well be the team to take that shot. I want it noted I don’t think he deserves to be drafted this high, and maybe in 2.0 I will figure out how to drop him from the first round completely.

22.  St. Louis Rams (From Washington Redskins) – WR – Justin Hunter – Tennessee

Hunter had an impressive showing at the combine. Too bad he was outshined by fellow teammate Cordarrell Patterson. Even though, he did an outstanding job and jumped up to the number 2 WR. The rams could use a WR with his size and skill set, and will be a solid second selection for their first round.

23. Minnesota Vikings – WR – Kennan Allen – California

Kennan Allen has been a freak on the collegiate level. He has been nursing a knee injury, so he didn’t participate at the combine. However, barring anything unforeseen at his Sr. Day and being cleared by doctors, this is a good place for him to come off the board. If he had participated at the combine he may have been higher on my board, at least switched with Justin Hunter.

24. Indianapolis Colts – CB – Xavier Rhodes – Florida State

The colts need some help on the defensive side of the ball. They also need some help on the OL, but at this spot in the draft, a CB is more valuable. This is a player who caught my eye at the combine. He has a history of knee injuries, but has the talent to be a starting CB. Due to Jonthan Bank’s average showing at the NFL combine, I have Rhodes jumping him to be the second CB off the board.

25.  Seattle Seahawks – DE – Datone Jones – UCLA

As good as Seattle’s defense was, they didn’t have a perpetual penetrating DL. I realize they scheme to their LBs, but I cant see them passing up a DE that can get to the QB, especially since Chris Clemmons tore his ACL last season. Jones is the best available at this position. He ran the 40 faster than Manti T’eo, and he has some weight behind him to tie up blockers in the run game. The more I think about it, the more I think he is the perfect fit for Pete Carroll’s defense.

26. Green Bay Packers – DT – Johnathan Hankins – Ohio State

The Packers need a RB. However, I think for this draft class, they will be better in the 2nd or 3rd rounds going for a Stephan Taylor or Onterio McCaleb, depending on the style RB they think they need to complement the passing game (I’m a fan of pounding the rock, so would lean to Taylor). So,  how about someone to stop the run then? I picked Hankins here, mainly because I want to see him play next to BJ Raji. He didn’t wow at the combine, and he may slip to the second round, but the guy has size you can’t teach and will plug holes allowing Green Bay’s LBs to do their job.

27.  Huston Texans – WR – Tavon Austin – West Virginia

Another Guy who jumped up because of his combine performance. A 4.34 40 will do that for you. His speed and elusiveness will be a good compliment to the Texan’s WR corps.

28. Denver Broncos – DT – Kwann Short – Purdue

The Bronco’s need a DT. Short didn’t participate at the combine, but has been consistently graded as a first round talent. I admit that I haven’t seen the guy play, and youtube isn’t much help. But, I trust the grades others have given him and DT is a need here. So, good for him.

29. New England Patriots – CB – Jonthan Banks – Mississippi State University

Jonathan Banks was the winner of this year’s Thorpe Award, even so he was the second best CB in the SEC and the third best available for this draft. His 40 time wasn’t amazing at the combine, but he makes up for lack of speed with smart play and a long body.

30.  Atlanta Falcons – TE – Tyler Eifert – Notre Dame

Lets all be honest, Tony Gonzalez can’t be great for much longer. He is considering retiring, and even if he doesn’t he won’t be around for long. The Falcons need a TE to fill in that role. Eifert is a solid TE prospect who will try to fill the shoes of the future hall of famer, and will only be better if he gets a season or two under the tutelage of Gonzalez.

31. San Francisco 49ers – NT – Johnathan Jenkins – Georgia

Jenkins is getting some competition from Brandon Williams from Missouri Southern State, but in the end I think that Jenkins will win out. He has the tendency to take plays off, but I think that Harbaugh and Co. will get that out of him. He only participated in the bench press, so he better do well at Georgia’s Sr. Day, because Williams will gladly take this spot.

32. Baltimore Ravens – S – Eric Reid – LSU

The Ravens will look to replace Ray Lewis, but I don’t know who would be worth the pick here. Certainly, there will be no one to replace Ray Lewis. The Ravens may also lose Ed Reed next year, and if not next season, soon. So a Safety here seems like the next likely scenario. Eric Reed is the best safety left. He did well at the combine, and would be able to immediately contribute.

————

By: Dylan S. White

No.

Team

Pick

1

ChiefsChiefs

Jack Stack Barbecue, Restaurant, Kansas City: The Chiefs intended to draft a future bust defensive lineman, but Reid’s excited utterance brings the Eagles the rights to unlimited pulled pork. Kiper assigns a grade of “F” to the pick, while Reid eats 3 pigs worth of ribs, pulls the last clean bone from his mouth, stands up, extends his arm, drops the bone like a mic, throws his arms up in “victory” fashion, and leaves the building, which solidifies the one and only reason Andy Reid went to Kansas City—what we have all assumed from day one—the BBQ.

2

JetsJets (from Jaguars)

Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame: The Jets send Tim Tebow to the Jaguars, and in an interview during the Jets’ pick, Rex Ryan tells ESPN, “Manti is just a football player that we think can contribute in some different packages… we’re not in it for the media attention.” (After the camera turns off, Ryan rolls up his sleeve, kisses his tattoo of his wife in a Sanchez jersey, and whispers to it, “Tomorrow’s headline is ours again—no such thing as bad press—take that Coughlin…”)

3

RaidersRaiders

Onterio McCalebb, RB, Auburn: DUDE RAN A 4.21!!! FASTEST GUY AT THE COMBINE!!! IN FACT, FASTEST GUY AT THE COMBINE EVER!!! …oh, that’s unofficial? Too late…

4

RaidersRaiders (from Eagles)

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas: Attempt #2… DUDE RAN A 4.27!!! THE FASTEST GUY AT THE COMBINE!!! (A synchronized sigh of relief from the Oakland staff could be heard at Radio City Music Hall—the Raiders got their guy.)

5

LionsLions

Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia: In an effort to bring players with similar interests and backgrounds to the team, Jim Schwartz has drafted Alec Ogletree. Speaking to NFL Network shortly after the pick, Schwartz said, “We really felt Ogletree’s recent arrest would play to his advantage and expedite his assimilation into the ‘Lion way’ that we all know and love.”

6

BrownsBrowns

Nick Saban, Coach, Alabama: Jimmy Haslam doesn’t take no for an answer. In an interview, Jimmy Haslam told ESPN, “We’re going to get the best here, and we’re not accepting any less.” Newly hired head coach Rob Chudzinski declined to comment.

7

CardinalsCardinals

Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Last time the Cardinals drafted a USC quarterback that was a guaranteed 1st rounder, but opted to stay an extra year in college, it went REALLY well. Or that’s what the Cardinals’ front office believes. It’s really hot in Phoenix. The dry heat will get to you. It’ll make you see things… or make you forget things. Mike Mayock is currently chalking the memory loss up to the heat, so we’ll go with that. Sorry, Larry.

8

BillsBills

Los Angeles, California: Less than 5 months after accepting the Bills head coaching job, Doug Marrone has been quoted as saying, “Buffalo sucks” 57 times… in one interview. Needless to say, Marrone, the New York native, has decided he wants to move the team. Shortly after the Bills’ surprise selection, a Los Angeles spokesman was quoted as saying, “Buffalo sucks… no not the city Buffalo. I’ve never even been to Buffalo… who in the hell would want to go to Buffalo? I meant Buffalo sucks, as in the Buffalo Bills suck. We don’t want them.” …already sounds like a picturesque Hollywood relationship.

9

JetsJets

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: Rex Ryan, according to Rob Ryan, is over the whole “media attention” thing. At least, now that he’s got Manti the walking reality show, he is. Sources have told Yahoo, who have told Twitter, who have told ESPN that Ryan is now concentrating on this “scoring points” concept. The last time he watched Tennessee play, the “tall kid in bright orange” playing quarterback was “really good,” so Ryan is happy about this selection.

10

TitansTitans

E.J. Manuel, QB, FSU: Athletic quarterback? Big arm? How can the Titans pass up dooming Nashville to another five years of mediocre football?!? They can’t. When asked about the quarterback competition in Titans’ camp, Mike Munchak remarked, “We’ll have an open competition between Jake Locker, E.J. Manuel—and all of the other guys we’re bringing in for camp, such as Vince Young, Marcus Vick, Sunshine from Remember the Titans, Paul Crewe from the Longest Yard, and Shane Falco from The Replacements.” In related news, local sports writer Clay Travis has posted a “Munchak countdown” clock on his website.

11

RaidersRaiders (from Chargers)

Denard Robinson, QB/WR, Michigan: The bewildered Oakland war room spends 20 minutes trying to figure out who traded away all of the Raiders’ 2014 draft picks, until the the ghost of Al Davis appears in the room holding a phone and repetitively screaming, “A QUARTERBACK THAT RUNS A 4.43?!? YES PLEASE!!!”

12

DolphinsDolphins

Dan Marino’s Illegitimate Child: This selection by the Dolphins surprises some, but most in the “inner loop” say that there was never another player considered. As the “dark horse” of this draft, Marino’s kid benefits from great DNA as well as unprecedented financial support in his training, as Dan will pay handsomely to hide his guilt and save his image. Live in the Dolphin’s war room, management is calling this prospect, “a kid who flew under the radar” and “a really well kept secret.”

13

BuccaneersBuccaneers

Jon Gruden (Frank Caliendo), Coach, ESPN: In an effort to relive their glory days, the Buccaneers’ ownership decides to draft Jon Gruden to return to coach Tampa Bay back to their glory. With the only Tampa Bay Super Bowl victory coming under Gruden, this pick makes sense. Upon hearing the news, Gruden told ESPN, “MAN! I’M SO EXCITED! I LOVE EVERY PLAYER ON THAT TEAM! EVERY SINGLE ONE! THOSE KIDS CAN PLAY! MAN OH MAN! I CAN’T WAIT TO GET IN TRAINING CAMP AND GO OVER THE BASICS, LIKE ‘Y-BANANA, Z-DOUBLE SPLIT, 34-HORSESHOE, REVERSE, STAR LIGHT STAR BRIGHT, JAWS, DOUBLE WHAM, BAM BAM, SHAZAM’!!!”

14

PanthersPanthers

Play 60 Kid: When asked about this selection, Ron Rivera remarked, “We believe competition brings out the best in players, and we think this pick will really raise the level of competition at the quarterback position in training camp.” Steve Smith can be seen in the background of the interview shamefully shaking his head. Analysts believe the Panthers are actually attempting to lower the level of competition for Cam, in an attempt to raise Newton’s confidence in himself. On a related note,  @ AuburnBCSChamp175K tells us that a group of men out of Auburn, Alabama have been hired to consult the Panthers on how to affectively motivate Cam Newton.

15

SaintsSaints

Ed Reed, S, NFL Network: Reed brings two things to the table: 1. He hates Roger Goodell as much as everyone else in New Orleans, and 2. He can cover better than anyone else currently on the Saints’ roster. Immediately after the pick, the NFL begins an investigation of the New Orleans Saints for a “bounty program” the Saints are allegedly running at practice under Rob Ryan. [Update: Roger Goodell announces the suspensions, based on “clear and convincing evidence” from “Sources” cited by Chris Broussard on Twitter, of Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, and “a player to be determined later at Goodell’s convenience” from the podium between the 26th and 27th picks.]

16

EaglesEagles (from Rams)

Allen Iverson, QB/PG, Talkin’ bout Practice: In what has been called both an “act of desperation” (by everybody except Chip Kelly) and “a genius move” (by Chip Kelly), Philadelphia has drafted the former Virginia high school football player of the year—Allen Iverson. With rumors swirling around Philly that the former 76er wanted to make a return to professional sports, the Eagles jumped at the chance to grab another quarterback that hasn’t played in years and is past his prime. In a statement just released by Iverson’s agent, Iverson says, “I’ll be there on Sundays—can’t guarantee nothin else. Hell, I can’t guarantee Sundays. I guess me and Mike will draw straws to see who plays and who watches the dogs.”

17

SteelersSteelers

Usain Bolt, Sprinter, Jamaica: Mike Tomlin cited Kenny Mayne as his “source” on Bolt’s football talent. Halfway through Tomlin’s interview, the NFL Network referred to Bolt as the “fastest man in the world.” Seven minutes later, it was announced that Bolt had been traded to the Raiders for Darren McFadden and a conditional draft pick in 2015. [Update: The conditional pick was determined to be a 1st rounder based on Bolt’s 40-yard dash time.]

18

CowboysCowboys

Brett Favre, QB/QB Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Head Coach/General Manager/Jobless, Hattiesburg: Jerry Jones’ selection of Brett Favre has surprised no one here in Radio City Music Hall. He’s the perfect candidate for the “Jerry Jones” gauntlet. The current over/under on Bovada.lv for number of games Favre lasts in the Cowboys organization is 12.5. And the over/under for how many different responsibilities Jerry Jones will strip from him throughout his tenure in Dallas just moved from 3.5 to 4.5.

19

JetsJets (from the Giants)

JaMarcus Russell, QB, KFC: Upon learning that the last time Rex Ryan watched a Tennessee game was in 1996, the Jets front office informed Ryan that Bray isn’t the same “tall kid in bright orange” that he saw. That was Peyton Manning. In a fit of anger, sources have told The Onion, Ryan exclaimed, “I can’t believe we almost drafted that goofy kid from the Giants!” In an attempt to draft a “proven” quarterback, Ryan has determined Russell is the best quarterback available. During the violent argument that ensued between Ryan and every other person in the Jets organization, Ryan stated the fact that, “Russell has thrown 18 touchdowns in the NFL, the rest of these kids have thrown 0!”

20

BearsBears

Mike Ditka (Frank Caliendo), Tight End/Coach, ESPN: Chicago has not won a Super Bowl since 1986, and ownership is becoming antsy. This pick represents ownership’s attempt to “get back to our roots.” Though Chicago fans seem somewhat concerned with Ditka shrinking from a once imposing 6’3″ to a compact 5’7″, the general feeling among fans seems to be one of elation. On an online poll, 97% of voters believe Mike Ditka is senile—the remaining 3% are Bears fans over the age of 60.

21

SeahawksSeahawks (from Bengals)

Tyrann Mathieu, CB, …LSU???: According to @ SeahawksDude0420, Seattle has selected former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu solely due to the unique contract his agent proposed to the team. It only requested that Tyrann receive 1. a pound of weed a week, 2. living accommodations with no less than 6 bean bag chairs, 3. transportation to and from practices and games, and 4. one-way plane tickets to Seattle for “Jordan Jefferson,” “Jarrett Lee,” and “Les Miles.” After the Seahawks announced their selection, a random over-anxious journalist asked Mathieu, “While the state of Washington has legalized marijuana, other states have not, how do you plan to control your smoking habits in the states in which marijuana is illegal?” To which Mathieu replied, “Honey Badger gonna do Honey Badger.”

22

49ers49ers (from Rams)

Kenny Powers, Motivational Speaker, North Carolina: There’s been an extraordinary amount of speculation around San Francisco’s decision to move up and select the highly-coveted Powers. The majority of analyst have come to the conclusion that Jim Harbaugh no longer wants to be the most psychotic member of the 49ers organization. His brother had Ray Lewis to overshadow him, but Jim was left in the insanity spotlight. Harbaugh has declined to comment on the selection, but Spike Television will be airing the seemingly anti-climatic “Kenny Powers: The Decision” tonight at 9 p.m.

23

VikingsVikings

Time Expired: The First time a team lets the clock expire, they can still pick when they walk up to the podium, but since it’s the Vikings second time (See: 2003 NFL Draft) to let the clock expire, they forfeit their pick. No matter—the Vikings plan to play 1 on 11 anyways, since it worked last year.

24

RaidersRaiders (from Colts)

Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: DUDE RAN A 4.71!!! THE FASTEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN EVER AT THE COMBINE!!! AND THAT’S OFFICIAL!!! …and for the 99.7% of analysts who “projected” Terron as a “Day 2” guy, the Raiders released a statement that read, “Screw you. If you only knew how many times our new offense calls for a 40-yard tackle pull, you’d understand.”

25

JetsJets (from Seahawks)

Ron Mexico, QB, Cancun: Once Rex Ryan realized JaMarcus Russell and Russell Wilson are not the same person, the Jets frantically dealt Darrell Revis to the Seahawks to unite him with his best friend, Richard Sherman. Regarding this selection, while this has only been confirmed by a tattoo artist who has chosen to remain anonymous, Ryan apparently met a phenomenal quarterback in Las Vegas several years ago by the name of “Ron Mexico.” The little-known Mexcio released an ambiguous statement stating that he “will be available on Sundays that AI is starting” and that “he sure as hell ain’t gonna be no personal punt protector.” One last note of significance regarding this pick: Mexico’s agent has apparently requested in the contract that Rex get a tattoo on his other arm with Ryan’s wife in a “Mexico” jersey.

26

LionsLions (from Packers)

Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech: For those of us worried the Lions would go 4 whole years without taking a questionable wide receiver or tight end in the 1st round—worry no more. The Ford family has stated that Da’Rick Rogers is “how we like ’em.” As the NFL Network camera pans Da’Rick Rogers’ living room, posters of Rogers’ heroes can be seen: Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, and Titus Young. After receiving a considerable sum of money in the form of a bribe, Jim Schwartz’s psychiatrist has exclusively told us that Schwartz channels his “extremely violent” tendencies into ruining other people’s lives. And further, as a former linebacker that wasn’t good enough to make it, he resents the wide receivers who came over the middle and made him look like a fool. Thus, the Jim receives a higher level of satisfaction in cutting receivers, so this pick makes complete sense.

27

Raiders

Raiders (from Texans)

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Naturally,the Raiders move up to draft the 2nd fastest WR in the draft—in case something happens to the fastest WR. In his 5th interview of the day, Dennis Allen nervously states, “Austin is one of those intelligent versatile players that you can’t miss out on… and yes… yes, he’s fast. Yes Al, he’s fast. I mean… yes AL…SO fast! Yes, I meant, also fast.” All the while, Ghost Al Davis can be seen on camera whispering in Allen’s ear.

28

BroncosBroncos

The Entire TCU Football Team: After the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, the entire TCU football team, including some coaches, informed the Broncos that “they’d all divide the salary of one draft pick” if the Broncos selected them in the first round. Peyton Manning disapproved of the selection… until Papa John pointed out the business opportunities. Manning also agreed to keep quiet about the “special brownies” in the training room after he was offered the lead part in a Betty Crocker commercial.

29

PatriotsPatriots

Two 1st Round Picks in 2014 and One 1st Round Pick in 2015: We have no idea how Bill Belichick managed this one, but somehow, the Patriots have exchanged the 29th overall pick for two 1st round picks next year and one 1st round pick in 2015. Sources say that Belichick spoke with league officials last week to determine the validity of such an exchange. After Belichick’s 4 hour presentation, the Patriots were granted the right to stock up more draft picks by a vote of 1-0. Sources also say that once Belichick voted and left, league officials were furious when they woke up.

30

FalconsFalcons

Leon Sandcastle, DB, Commercial: Upon weeks of investigation, the intuitive Roddy White—who scored a 4 on the Wonderlic—determined that Leon Sandcastle is ACTUALLY Deion Sanders with a wig and fake mustache. Without the months necessary for Roddy to deduce that Sanders isn’t actually in the NFL draft, Roddy takes it upon himself to call in the pick, and the Falcons draft Deion Sanders, again.

31

49ers49ers

Jerry Rice, WR, Hall of Fame: Due to Jim Harbaughs incredible ability to create absolutely NO* tension between teammates (See: Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick), he decides it’d be a good idea to bring Jerry Rice back to start over Randy Moss. Yet during his draft day interview, he continuously makes definitive indefinite statements, “Yeah, Randy is our guy… but Jerry is playing well, and I like to go with the hot hand(s)… but Randy has definitely earned the right to be called the greatest ever… Jerry is the best receive of all time, hands down…”

32

RavensRavens

Ray Lewis III, ILB, Miami: After an “anonymous” caller threatened his life, John Harbaugh drafts an ineligible prospect—Ray Lewis’ son, Ray Lewis III. Immediately after the pick, a camera switches over to the Lewis household, which has over a hundred people gathered for a “draft party.” In an interview with confused ESPN analysts, Lewis says, through his tears, “I just had faith my little Ray would succeed me! I knew it!!!” As the camera pans away, Lewis can be seen on his cell phone and can be vaguely heard saying, “I knew you’d come around…smart choice John… smart choice.”

U.S. Map of NFL Fandom

Tyler Raborn —  Tuesday, February 12, 2013 — 13 Comments

Check out this interesting map provided by Facebook’s Sean Taylor and shared by FlowingData:

NFL Fans on Facebook

As Sean Taylor explains:

The National Football League is one of the most popular sports in America with some incredibly devoted fans. At Facebook we have about 35 million account holders in the United States who have Liked a page for one of the 32 teams in the league, representing one of the most comprehensive samples of sports fanship ever collected. Put another way, more than 1 in 10 Americans have declared their support for an NFL team on Facebook.

So Facebook mapped out these likes by county, as Taylor explained here:

While winning seems to matter, NFL teams have local followings that are probably heavily influenced by family ties and/or where a person grew up,  so we were obviously curious to see where the fans for various teams live now. By considering the physical locations of NFL fans, we can construct a map of the top team for each county in the US. It tells an interesting story about the ways that football rivalries and allegiances alternately divide and unite the country, and sometimes even individual states.

But the most burning questions I have are:

What are all of those Steelers and Cowboys fans doing in the northwest? 

Why does Alaska love Green Bay?

and…

What’s more difficult: “Where’s Waldo?” or “Where are the Jets?”

Rob Ryan— The Right Choice

Tyler Raborn —  Tuesday, February 12, 2013 — Leave a comment

The polarizing Rob Ryan is an excellent choice for the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator position.

… you’re either slowly nodding your head agreeing with me, or throwing your laptop across the room in utter disgust. There’s no in-between.

During the 2012 season, the New Orleans Saints, under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnola ranked 32nd in defense, allowing a league record 7,042 yards. Following Sean Payton’s reinstatement, Steve Spagnola was relieved of his defensive coordinator responsibilities after only one year. Coach Payton cited a schematic change, from a 4-3 to a 3-4, as the determining factor in Spagnola’s firing.

Many Saints fans oppose the hiring of Rob Ryan due the brash personality he has displayed throughout his coaching career. Yet Ryan fits a mold that has proven to work with Payton in the past.

Gregg Williams’ fiery personality and aggressive play calling established a defensive identity in New Orleans, which helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV.

Similarly, Rob Ryan possess a well-documented fiery passion for the game as well as a blitz-heavy defensive mentality.

Further, Ryan is well versed in the 3-4 scheme. The Saints decision to move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 represents a personnel decision. The Saints’ front four got little pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year, ranking 25th in sacks in the league. An aggressive 3-4 should help the Saints confuse opposing offensive lines and get more pressure on the quarterback.

The ability to re-establish a fiery aggressive defense in New Orleans combined with a strong background in the 3-4 scheme Payton wants to implement makes Rob Ryan an excellent selection for the Saints defensive coordinator position.

Ryan will be highly scrutinized by a large contingency of the Who Dat Nation this year.

Fortunately for Ryan, the Saints defense has nowhere to go but up…

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By: Tyler Raborn

Earlier this week I posted a short article on the 2012 NFL All-Pro team and how many stars they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school. It had such a positive response that I decided to do the same thing with the 2011 NFL All-Pro team and compare them to the 2012 All-Pro team.

So here’s the 2011 NFL All-Pro Team and how many stars (the star counts are now hyperlinked to their recruiting profiles) they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 are not in the database):

Position

Player

Scout

Rivals

QB Aaron Rodgers
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 4 4
RB LeSean McCoy 5 4
FB Vonta Leach
WR Calvin Johnson 5 4
WR Wes Welker
TE Rob Gronkowski 4 4
OT Jason Peters
OT Joe Thomas NR 4
G Carl Nicks
G Jahari Evans
C Maurkice Pouncey 4 4
DE Jared Allen
DE Jason Pierre-Paul 5 4
DT Haloti Ngata 5 5
DT Justin Smith
OLB Terrell Suggs
OLB DeMarcus Ware
ILB NaVorro Bowman 4 4
ILB Patrick Willis 2 3
ILB Derrick Johnson
CB Charles Woodson
CB Darrelle Revis 3 3
S Troy Polamalu
S Eric Weddle 2 2
KR Patrick Peterson 5 5

And here’s the All-Pro team’s broken down by star and year (Scout’s stars  and Rivals’ stars are averaged):

Stars

2011

2012

5 2 1
4.5 4 1
4 4 4
3.5 0 3
3 1 3
2.5 1 2
2 1 4
Total 13 18
Out of 26 25

While only 13 players from the 2011 All-Pro team were in the database, they still managed to produce 10 players 4-stars or higher. In contrast, the 2012 team had 18 players, but only managed 6 players 4-stars or higher.

But the real story in all of this? Rob Gronkowski.

Rob Gronkowski

Dumbfounded doesn’t even begin to describe whatever is going on up there. And keep in mind, that guy—yes, that guy—was just offered $3.75M to be in an “adult film.”

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By: Tyler Raborn