Don't forget Friday's mailbag; we have a couple of open spots. From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Draft Week is here. We love the draft. You know this.
Last week we broke down the offensive prospects in this class. This week, let's do the defense. But, before we get started, we must do a little housecleaning. First, here are the rules for our second-annual We Love the Draft pick contest:
• First SEC player picked (FYI — this does not include Texas A&M and Missouri, thanks for the catch, StuckinKent)
• First Titans pick (No. 20 overall right now)
• First Steelers pick (No. 24 overall right now)
• First Falcons pick (23rd pick of the second round right now)
• What team picks B.J. Coleman?
One point for each with the following tie-breaker: Who is Mr. Irrelevant, the title reserved for the final pick of the draft? (If you get this right, you'll get a special prize, but if there's a tie between entries, the pick closest to last will break the tie.) Remember, if one of the teams above trades down, then it's still the first Titans pick whether it's No. 20 overall or No. 200. Winner will get some Braves tickets, deal? (Last year friend of the show Quake of SportTalk fame won this contest and got some Braves-Phillies tickets if memory serves.)
Here are the early entries:
5-at-10 — Trent Richardson/Dre Kirkpatrick/Donta Hightower/Jeff Allen/Pittsburgh/Drew Butler
McPell — RIchardson/Kirkpatrick/Kendall Wright/Mitchell Schwartz/Denver/Jake Gdowski
LaughingBoy — Richardson/Kirkpatrick/Hightower/Bobbie Massie/Arizona/Randy Bullock
Fred — Morris Claiborne/Kirkpatrick/Hightower/Kelechi Osemele/Denver/Blair Walsh
Deboman — T. Richardson/Cordy Glenn/D. Hightower/K. Zeitler/Packers/Emil Igwenagu
Mrs. 5-at-10 — Richardson/Stephon Gilmore/Hightower/Osemele/Buffalo/Vontaze Burfict
scole023 — Richardson/Courtney Upshaw/Hightower/Massie/Green Bay/Lennon Creer
ThatIDoKnow — Claiborne/Gilmore/Jonathan Adams/Joe Looney/Chicago/Brandon Moseley
OTWatcher — Richardson/Kirkpatrick/Stephen Hill/Schwartz/Tennessee/Kellen Moore
Side notes: We had a mock first round in today's paper and a column on B.J. Coleman being on the cusp of reaching his dream. Plus, we'll be on SportTalk around 4 today with friends of the show Quake, Cowboy Joe and Dr. B (he's a doctor after all, and we need to ask him if it's Dr. B or Dr. B without the period like Dr Pepper). We feel pretty certain the draft may come up.
As we get closer to this year's draft, one of the things that makes this so appealing is the "reality TV" aspect of it (well, except this is real TV rather than scripted Reality TV, but you get the idea). There is real human emotion playing out in front us, and it's not anything any of these elite players can be prepared for. They play thousands of games and learn to deal with stress and pressure and the magnitude of the moment on the field, but in the draft room or watching on TV, the unknown and the uncertainty make anything possible. That said, the first two picks are such a certainty, that you can't even bet on them in Vegas. That ladies and gentleman is a lead-pipe lock.
The closer to the first round we get, the more teams' needs and players strengths and weaknesses become as familiar as their logos and their numbers. This is especially true for the teams looking to add a defensive back, a position that has increased in draft value in recent years because of the pass-first, pass-always nature of the (cue Ron Jaworksi) NATIONAL Football League.
We know that Tampa Bay would love to add Morris Clairborne. We know Carolina will be tempted by Stephon Gilmore at No. 9. We know Mark Barron is the top safety on the board and Dallas would love, Love, LOVE to land him at No. 14. We know these things. But there may be several teams making moves to find ways to move up to get some of the more talented defensive backs.
Consider this: We also know that finding elite secondary success rarely can be had at secondary levels, too. Look at the nine defensive backs (Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was the No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft, made it as a kick returner) that made the 2011 All-Pro team. Eric Weddle was the only one of the nine that was not a first-round pick and he was a second-round selection (37th overall in 2007).
Charles Woodson (No. 4 overall in 1998), Darrelle Revis (14th in 2007) Troy Polamalu (16th in 2003), Johnathan Joseph (24th in 2006), Carlos Rogers (9th in 2005), Ed Reed (24th in 2002) and Earl Thomas (14th in 2010). By our math, the nine defensive backs named to the 2011 All-Pro first- or second-team were picked on average with the 17th overall selection.
With that in mind here are our top 10 defensive backs entering this draft:
1) CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
2) S Mark Barron, Alabama
3) CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
4) CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
5) CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
6) S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
7) CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana
8) CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia
9) CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida
10) S Brandon Taylor, LSU
Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones, left, passes third-base coach Brian Snitker after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Braves rally and rebound
We made a commitment to stay up and give you our view of the Braves-Dodgers games this week, since they are on the West Coast and starting (and ending) so late. We're still with it.
Atlanta rewarded its followers back East on Tuesday with a 4-3 win capped with Martin Prado's two-out, two-strike game-winning triple to center in the top of the ninth. It was highlighted by Chipper Jones homering on his 40th birthday.
Couple of three things of note: The Braves continue to work counts — seeing 160 pitches Tuesday night; Tyler Pastornicky went 3-for-3, which is nice, and scored the game-winning run; Craig Kimbrel is super nasty, like Rosie O'Donnell in a bikini nasty, and struck out the side Tuesday for his sixth save. Kimbrel is 6-for-6 in save chances and has 12 strikeouts in seven innings.
It was a good night for Johnny Braves Fans.
It was also a good night to be Cory Gearrin, the former Rhea County High star who was recalled from the minors after the Braves demoted Jair Jurrjens late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. Gearrin is a useful bullpen piece.
Jurrjens, however, might be useful as a furniture mover right now. Maybe. He has gone from arguably deserving to be the NL starter in the All-Star game last July to run-maker. He can't get the cat out right now. His fastball's up, his curveball's hanging — in the show they're ripping him.
The question for Jurrjens is whether it's mental, physical or talent-related. In the sabermetrics culture of baseball today, we can remember reading something about Jurrjens we found interesting after he started last year so great. After beating Colorado on July 6, Jurrjens was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA. He was 1-3 with an ERA of 5.73 in his final seven starts of 2011 before shutting it down with a knee injury. The sabermetrics breakdown noted that Jurrjens fly ball-to-ground ball ratio was so startling high that despite his great record and ERA, that the stats suggested he was living on borrowed time and getting so many fly-ball outs would eventually turn into fly-ball hits and worse fly-ball home runs. (Yes, we know you're thinking, "Fly-ball home runs?" like there's ground-ball home runs. Just move along. Nothing to see here. Zip it Spy.)
Those stats appeared to be prophetic. He surrendered five homers in his 16 starts before the all-star break and he surrendered nine homers in his final seven starts of 2011 and five more in his four starts this year before being sent down.
It's tough to know whether it's new-fangled stats, confidence, lingering knee issues or even a metaphysical rationale that he and Dan Uggla can be good at the same time (think about it, Uggla was junk before July 5, and after that he was unstoppable; Jurrjens is the reverse of that). Even worse it's tougher to know if this thing with JJ is fixable.
This and that
— Friend of the show inuyasha23 was in attendance in Arlington last night for the Rangers-Yankees showdown and the coming out party for Yu Darvish. Here's a short version of his report "But as the saying goes, "you really had to be there!" Yu not only stepped up with 10 strikeouts in his debut against the Yankees, but two were against Jeter and A-Rod themselves. The one against Jeter during the top of the 7th had the entire stadium on their feet. ... One thing we "locals" down here got to watch was the post-game interview with Yu talking about the game. His arm was mega-wrapped. Also, fast fact: Tonight's game was the first shutout the Rangers had against the Yankees since 2000. Assuming Yu doesn't burn out due to the four man rotation, he's going to be such an asset during the season." That's good intel right there.
— Our SEC ace David Paschall sat through the entire 150-minute SEC teleconference Tuesday. You know why? Well, he's an SEC football junkie — he has a problem — and he did it for you, good reader. Get his takes on the chat here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/25/missouri-am-fans-pumped-for-sec-play/ and here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/25/auburn-makes-progress-on-offensive-identity/. The latter of those stories leads with Auburn looking to sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier, and we'll toss it out there that we believe that kid is going to be good.
— Metta World Peace was suspended for seven games for his elbow that dropped James Harden on Sunday. Seems fair, we suppose. We're just really happy we decided to name the 5-at-10 tot after his grandfather. We were really close to going with Metta World Peace Greeson, but that would have caused some confusion, huh?
— Looks like the BCS folks are starting to shape their view of the four-team playoff system that seems destined to be a reality sooner rather than later. Reports from the meetings Tuesday between college football's power brokers have the plan with the semifinal games at neutral sites and being played closer to New Year's Day. Granted the details need polishing and there's no way it could go into effect until 2014, but it appears college football is so far down the playoff road there is no turning back. Seems time to toss out, "Be careful what you wish for," huh?
— Here are some crazy betting odds from friend of the show RJ Bell of pregame.com:
20 percent chance four QBs will be drafted in round one;
72 percent chance five or more Alabama players will be drafted in round one;
It's even money Miami will draft Ryan Tannehill No. 8 overall Thursday;
The over/under draft spot for Oklahoma State quarterback is around 39;
68 percent chance that Trent Richardson is the only running back drafted in the first round.
We figure some of this will come up on SportTalk later today, but let's throw this out there for the group. Here's our 5-at-10 fill in the blank draft test, and remember, unlike the Wonderlic test there are no wrong answers (which would make Morris Claiborne smile since he got a less than stellar 4 out of 50 on the Wonderlic, the cognitive ability test knowledge test used at the combine).
Best draft pick?
Worst draft pick?
Best single draft for an NFL team?
Worst single draft for an NFL team?
Favorite draft memory?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...