Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 NFL Draft Notes

Overall, not the best draft ever for Virginia Tech. Here are some of my thoughts from it:
  • Jason Worilds was the only pick that surprised me at how high he was taken. The Pittsburgh Steelers took Worilds in the 2nd round with the 52nd overall pick. This should be good news for VT fans who like to watch their favorites in the NFL... the Steelers have a knack for eying talent at the linebacker position and seem to have a way of producing the most productive players at that position. Jason Worilds should be pumped up, he couldn't be in a better position than he is right now.
  • The other Hokies selected were Kam Chancellor (Seattle Seahawks), Brent Bowden and Cody Grimm (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and Ed Wang (Buffalo Bills). Bowden should be able to step right in and compete for the starting punter job for the Bucs. Cody Grimm was selected purely as a special teams player, and that's where you're likely to see him on NFL opening day (is "opening day" a baseball expression only? My mind is like goo right now). Kam Chancellor has good tangibles, but his intangibles suck... not sure if he'll amount to anything more than a special teams player, but we'll see. Ed Wang is probably a career backup at best, depending on just how terrible (or injured) Buffalo's offensive line is.
  • There were a ton of VT grads who didn't get selected. They were Sergio Render, Dorian Porch, Demetrius Taylor, Nekos Brown, Cordarrow Thompson, Stephan Virgil, Cam Martin, and Greg Boone. These players were pretty significant contributors for the Hokies, so that might hint at why VT's defense seemed to much more vincible than usual this past season. NFL teams didn't even think they were worth a 7th round pick. A few of them will be offered free agent contracts, but many of them will be working as insurance salesmen shortly hereafter. I heard Heath Shuler is hiring. Actually I just looked him up... he might be a congressman now. That is far less fun to make fun of.
  • As for the draft itself... I hate the new format. If you want to split it up among 2 days rather than 3, that is fine with me. Rounds 1-3 are by far the most interesting. However, the draft needs to start on Saturday. It just does. There are too many things competing with the draft, including NBA playoffs and NHL playoffs, both of which are entertaining. I like the draft to be its own event that you can savor and not worry about what your NBA team is doing at the same time.
  • My least favorite trend of this year's draft? The damn telephones. You knew what was going to happen a minute or two before each pick was selected because ESPN would show the players talking on the phone and looking emotional. I don't think there was a single player they showed talking on the phone who wasn't selected immediately afterward. It's so anti-climactic. I was sitting there thinking of all the wonderful possibilities the Browns had with the 7th pick of the draft and then I see Joe Haden crying into his phone, and it's like, "Oh... who is that on the phone? Is that the guy from Florida? Yeah, they just said his name. Okay I guess we're taking that guy." It takes all the joy out of a great pick and takes all the sting out of the "what the????" picks. The sting is what makes us feel alive! SCREW YOU ESPN!
  • I thought Pete Carroll and the Seahawks had a really good draft. I thought Jacksonville had a crappaliscious draft. I thought the Redskins were insane to let Jason Campbell go for a 4th round draft pick that they will get to use 2 years from now. Productive NFL players are horrendously undervalued. I'm not saying Campbell is a great or even good quarterback. I'm saying he's about average. What percentage of rookies even turn into average NFL players? 10%? 20%? That's not worth more than a 4th round pick who will be lucky to make the team as a backup? I just don't get it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The 2010 NFL Draft

The NFL draft is tonight, but don't expect to see any Hokies getting taken today. The draft has come up with a new format where the 1st round will be done tonight, the 2nd and 3rd rounds will take place tomorrow, and rounds 4-7 will take place on Saturday. You should expect just about all of Virginia Tech's draft-ready players to be taken on Saturday.

The player with the best chance to be drafted on the 2nd day is Jason Worilds. Worilds was a quick defensive end with a high motor at Virginia Tech, but in the NFL he will be asked to play a different position. At 6'1" and 250 lbs, he is not considered to be big enough to play the standard defensive end position in a 4-3 defense. Teams will try him as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense where he will sometimes be lined up with his hand on the ground over a tackle or tight end, and other times he will be lined up standing on two-feet over a receiver or in zone coverage. I think it's the later part that seems to me will be a tough challenge for Jason Worilds. He seems to have pretty good speed for his size, but he certainly never seemed to be fluid when put into coverage against a running back while at VT. Because of this need for a position change, I could easily see Worilds dropping to the 4th round or lower.

Cody Grimm is going to have to fight his way onto a roster yet again. He had to scrap and claw to get onto the Virginia Tech roster, and he'll have to do it again starting as a special teams player in the NFL. At 5'10" and 200 lbs, he doesn't have the size (or the speed) that NFL teams want to see at strong safety, which is the NFL position most suited for Grimm... well other than special teams, of course. I could see Cody Grimm turning into a special teams ace in the NFL, but I think that's as far as he'll ever get. And honestly, that's not a bad career. Just ask Steve Tasker.

I could see Kam Chancellor getting taken on the 2nd day as well, even though he isn't projected as high as Jason Worilds. Kam has an NFL-caliber body and NFL speed, which goes a long way at the free safety position. Nevermind that Kam had one outstanding performance in the Orange Bowl against Cincinnati and then had a quiet season in '09-'10. I am willing to bet that his past performance won't even matter in the draft. They will love his workouts and they will love his physical gifts, and that will get Kam Chancellor drafted a lot earlier than he should be.

The player with the best chance to start is former punter Brent Bowden. ESPN lists him as the #2 punter in the 2010 class, which shouldn't be a surprise to many Hokies. Bowden has a big leg, but also excels at pinning opponents inside their own 20. Plus he has those dreamy locks that earned him the nickname "Sunshine". Thanks for that Remember the Titans. For the record, I am not insinuating that Bowden is gay like the character in the movie... I'm just talking about the hair, man.

As far as the NFL teams, here are some quick hits:
  • St. Louis has to take Sam Bradford. Their fans would crucify them for taking another defensive line player, and that's what they would take if they passed on Bradford. Consider it a done deal, even though it's not done yet. Bradford definitely seems to be the best QB in this draft from a physical standpoint, so I have no problem with that pick.
  • The 2nd and 3rd pick will be Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy in some order. I think Suh definitely needs to go first to Detroit. You can't argue with production, and Suh was the more productive defensive lineman. Although, I am never surprised by either Detroit or Tampa Bay when they buck conventional wisdom and do their own thing. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see Dez Bryant get taken by either team.
  • Whether the Redskins trade down or not, they absolutely need to take a left tackle. Their line was pitiful last year and someone like Russell Okung will solidify the left side of that line for years. Do the smart thing here, Dan Snyder... don't go for the flashy pick and outsmart yourself.
  • Eric Berry should be taken somewhere between pick 5 and pick 7. I only got to see Berry play once and it was in the VT/Tennessee bowl game. I don't remember the announcers mentioning Berry during the game... that's how invisible he was. That could be a good thing because he's covering players too well to allow for a throw, but I just remembered the lack of involvement surprised me. Most scouts think he is the next Ed Reed... I'm a little more hesitant, but I still think my Cleveland Browns should take him if he falls to #7.
  • Speaking of the Browns, Mel Kiper has Dez Bryant going to them at #7. This is an intriguing pick to me. There is no doubt that the Browns need a #1 caliber wide receiver, and although Mohammed Massaquoi has been a pleasant surprise, he's probably not ever going to be a legit #1. Bryant would also be a nice pick if the Browns decide to grab Colt McCoy in the 2nd round as their QB of the future (which wouldn't be a bad pick considering Mike Holmgren plans to instill a west coast offense in Cleveland... the perfect fit for McCoy).
  • Like everyone else, I like Tim Tebow. I hate Florida, but I like Tebow. He has the competitive drive and leadership attributes that you want in a quarterback, so it's hard to see how he wouldn't push himself to make the necessary adjustments to become a top NFL QB. He's apparently already making strides in shortening his throwing motion and working on his drop steps. Honestly, I think he's a steal if he drops to the second round... he really has Steve Young potential.
  • Those are my thoughts... what do you all think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Forward

With several spring practices and the first full scrimmage already in the bag, the Virginia Tech football team is starting to take shape. We're getting a better idea of who is going to get playing time this year, although several positions are still up for grabs. There's not a lot of room for competition on the offensive side of the ball... in fact, the competition is basically for back-up positions. But on the defensive side of the ball, there's battles at defensive tackle, whip, free safety, and field corner for starting spots. Here's a breakdown of some of the battles going on right now:
  • Field Corner - Cris Hill v. Jayron Hosley. Right now it's not much of a battle since Hosley has an injured groin and hasn't been able to show what he can do, but it's his play from last season that has defensive backs coach Torrian Gray excited. Both are extremely talented and athletic players. Both were 4-star recruits coming out of high school. Hosley is a more instinctive corner AND more of a playmaker, which makes me think that if he can get back and get healthy then he will get the spot on the first team. Cris Hill is not without his charm, and is proving to be more capable than in years past. He has been slow to learn the position and isn't as assertive as Hosley, but he has good experience and ability. Prediction to win the job: Hosley.
  • Free Safety - Eddie Whitley v. Antone Exum. I think by the end of fall practice, this will be more of a battle, but right now the edge is for Whitley. He has a better understanding of where to position the defensive players, and that's an important role for the free safety. Athletically, Exum is the stud. He's bigger, stronger, faster, and can definitely be a playmaker. However, since the free safety is the captain of the defensive secondary, you need someone with a great football IQ at that position, and Whitley is good enough athletically that he can make the whole defense better. Prediction to win the job: Whitley.
  • Whip - Jeron Gouveia-Winslow v. Alonzo Tweedy. There are actually 3 players competing for this job, but these two seem to be ahead of Lorenzo Williams, who might be the most athletically gifted of the three. At 210, Jeron has about 15 pounds on Alonzo, but they are both 6'2". Overall, G-W has the size you want in a whip, although Tweedy might be the better playmaker. On special teams last year, Tweedy was always in the mix and seems to be following well in Cody Grimm's footsteps. Coach Cavanaugh talked a lot about G-W's football IQ, and didn't mention that aspect for Tweedy or Williams, so I am inclined to think G-W has the edge right now, but for later? Who knows. Prediction to win the job: Toss-Up, but I'll take G-W.
  • Defensive Tackle - Kwamaine Battle v. Antoine Hopkins. Right now, Battle seems to be in the lead because he makes fewer mental errors, but Hopkins is the guy that we should want to win the job. Hopkins has an NFL defensive tackle body and the speed to go with it. He makes some fantastic plays, but for every great play he makes, he also makes one bone-headed error. Coach Wiley wants more consistency before giving the starting job to Hopkins, so at this point the two are neck and neck. Make no mistake, Kwamaine Battle is an excellent player and it's a luxury to have both guys capable of starting... the fans can't lose when the dust settles. Prediction to win the job: Antoine Hopkins.
  • Backup QB - Logan Thomas v. Ju-Ju Clayton. Clayton is showing real consistency this spring. He's cut back on the number of throws that sail away by changing the way that he grips the ball, and it's showing up in the scrimmages with high completion percentages. Clayton is the more accurate quarterback at this point. However, Thomas is an athletic freak. He's huge at 6'6" and 230 lbs, and he can throw the ball with the force of a young Brett Favre. He can run it... he's actually the better runner between himself and Clayton. He can stretch the defense vertically in a way that Clayton cannot, and because of those athletic gifts, he will almost certainly win the backup job if he continues to work on reading defenses, improving accuracy, and understanding the playbook. Prediction to win the job: Logan Thomas.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Look Ahead to the 2011 B-Ball Recruits

Big news from Charlotte today as class of 2011 point guard Marquis Rankin verbally committed to Virginia Tech! Rankin is around 6 feet tall and 170 lbs... he should get stronger in the weight room before coming to VT. Rankin has blazing speed, incredible instincts, and excels at pushing the ball in the open court. He is still working on his half-court offense, but has shown good improvement on his jumper and his playmaking skills. Rankin is rated the #29 player in the class of 2011 by and has similar ratings from and He is a pure point guard and at his best compares with UNC's Ty Lawson. Marquis has an outside shot at becoming VT's first McDonald's All-American since Dell Curry in 1982.

Rankin joins a loaded class for 2011 which already includes 6'7" power forward CJ Barksdale and 6'4" shooting guard Robert Brown. Barksdale is a beast on the offensive boards and a gifted finisher. At his best, he compares favorably with Clemson's Trevor Booker as an undersized power forward with a great motor, excellent defensive skills, and good rebounding instincts. Robert Brown is being touted as a shooter and if I had to pick an ACC player to compare him to, I think I would say UNC's Wayne Ellington... except not quite so prolific. Brown will keep the interior defense honest by pulling players out to the 3-point line to guard him.

You are really starting to see what the new practice facility and the success of Seth Greenberg is doing for VT's recruiting. The 2010 class boasts two promising players in small forward Jarrell Eddie and combo guard Tyrone Garland. Either could contribute to the team next year and become a starter in 2011. However, the 2011 class is looking to be stacked, and Greenberg is not done recruiting. With 5 seniors graduating (and more importantly, the five players who get the most playing time), there are plenty more spots to fill, and there are chances for class of 2011 freshmen to claim starting roles.

I love what you're doing, Seth. Please never leave us. I'll even find a way to get a real NY Deli to Blacksburg. Maybe I'll just airlift it.

Spring Football is Here!

I know most of you Hokie lovers are excited about this. Spring practice is in full swing, and the coaches have been giving updates to the media. I was boning up (snicker) on Kyle Tucker's blog, and have compiled some things to know about the upcoming season...
  1. We've never been more loaded at running back and fullback than we are right now. Ryan Williams and Darren Evans are being listed as #1 and #1A in practice, and should see relatively equal time on the field once the season starts. Kenny Lewis, Jr returned from a devastating Achilles injury and it looks like he will be around mostly to mentor the other running backs. Tony Gregory is in the mix (he of the 4.3 40-yard dash time). David Wilson is almost certainly going to be redshirted so that he can save a year of eligibility. Kenny Younger has a lot of experience at fullback and will be our top option, in the traditional sense of the word "fullback." That leaves Josh Oglesby... what will become of him? Stiney and the Billy Hite have decided to create a position for him called the "B-Back" where Josh will do some blocking, sure, but he will also be moved around the field in different two-back formations where he can catch the ball out of the backfield or run the ball with Williams or Evans blocking. I really like the idea... it's versatile and keeps the defense guessing. It just needs to be executed really well. I mean, we have a smorgasbord of options here, and they're all delicious and low-fat. Bon Apetit Hokie fans.
  2. TYROD. He's back and supposedly has been throwing with receivers during the whole offseason to improve his accuracy. This could be a huge season for TT, as he definitely gained confidence as the season progressed in '09. Stinespring admitted that they were too afraid of the back-up quarterback situation to call many designed running plays for Tyrod last season... they didn't want him getting hurt. Honestly, I am hoping they do the same thing this season. I really don't see Tyrod as being a gifted runner when he needs to hit a certain hole and power through. His best asset is scrambling when the offense breaks down and the defense is spread throughout the field... this is where he is absolutely devastating.
  3. The offense as a whole is exciting. We didn't lose much... the two least replaceable players are Ed Wang and Sergio Render from the offensive line, but I think we have some good options to use in their place. The wide receivers are all back and should be dominating their counterparts. We are a little thin at tight end, but starting TE Andre Smith is an excellent player, and it's being thrown around that possible-QB-in-waiting Logan Thomas could see time at tight end as well. He's such a ridiculous athlete that the coaches just want to find a way to get him on the field. Just thinking about our offense makes me want to throw up all over the place, but in a good way.
  4. The defense on the other hand has a lot of questions to answer. Bud Foster lost a lot of talent and a lot of playmakers, and we will need to see if backups can grow up and take on those roles. Make no mistake, there's a ludicrous amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball... it is just raw and untapped. Steven Friday and Chris Drager should do well from their defensive end spots. John Graves, if fully healthy, is a defensive force. Personally, I like Antoine Hopkins at the other defensive tackle spot... he really impressed me last season and seemed to be a disruptive presence, but he will need to get more consistent. I would also like to see if Alonzo Tweedy can win the whip role from Gouveia-Winslow. Tweedy was a tackling fiend on special teams, and I am hoping he can bring that over to the more disciplined formations.
  5. I am a little nervous about place kicking and punting... we lost some valuable players there and we're going to have to go with 2 unknowns. They will be thrown right into the fire against Boise State, and we can't afford for them to take a long time to establish themselves.
  6. Barquell Rivers is out injured until the fall... he absolutely needs to come back healthy as one of our few returning starters on defense. Bruce Taylor is a talented backup, but I would rather have the experience with so many other new faces.
  7. Jaron Hosley is jumping right into the field cornerback spot, and I think he is going to be our next great cornerback. Rock Carmichael is a nice player and a dependable guy, and I love having him back to lock down the boundary corner, but Hosley has the athletic prowess to pop people's eyes out of their sockets.
  8. Boise State returns something like 23 of 24 starters (if you count their kicker and punter). That's just stupid. They are going to put up a fight at FedEx Field... you can absolutely rely on that. The best way for VT to win is to control the ball on offense and take away from the amount of time the defense has to spend on the field. We have exactly the right personnel to finish the job, but will they? VT has been known for let-downs in the first game of the season... they can't afford to do that this year. They will have the crowd and the talent, which needs to overcome the experience of Boise State.
  9. What is Boise State's mascot? The mustang? The stallion? Why can't any university's mascot be "the horses?" Why does that sound so bad? A horse is both strong and tough... why do you need to get all euphemistic about the mascot name? Go Hokies! Beat those horses (into the ground).