It's here and it's all happening.
From the "Talks too much" studios, with the 92nd pick of the 22nd round, we take it on the run baby, if that's the way you want it baby, then we don't want you around.
Happy Draftmas Eve
We're roughly 34 hours and counting from tip time of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
Let's review our Draft To-Do List:
• Refreshments (with plenty of Co-Colas) — Check
• Contest details — Check and double check
• Annual Mock draft — In Thursday's TFP
• Second annual 5-at-10 top 5 draft lists — uh.....
Here's the second annual 5-at-10 top 5 draft lists:
5 safest picks (first-round picks that are as close to sure-thing as possible; this is not the first five off the board per se, just five guys that are going to deliver)
1) Luke Joeckel, tackle — Not a franchise QB or a super sexy pick atop this draft, but still a guy that will be a 12-15-year starter barring injury.
2) Dee Milliner, cornerback — This just in, Nick Saban can get guys ready for the NFL. This just in part II, Nick Saban-coached defensive backs are really ready for the NFL. Milliner is a shutdown corner with the size and speed to be special.
3) Chance Warmack, guard — There will be someone on Friday that say, "Wow, can't believe they took a guard in the top 10." Then in five years when Warmack is among the best guards in football, they will say, "Warmack was a steal."
4) Tyler Eifert, tight end — The perfect blend of potential and production, Eifert is coming into the league at the perfect time for a 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end/receiver with 4.6 speed in the 40.
5) Kenny Vaccaro, safety — The best safety in the draft and a guy that plays in space very comfortably.
5 picks with the most upside (first-round picks with the most risk and reward)
1) Ezekiel Ansah, defensive end — The freak pass-rusher who came to BYU as a track athlete could be a double-digit sack guy for a decade.
2) Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle — Once was the top-ranked prospect on the board, but a physical at the combine revealed a heart condition that scares some teams. Could be a major steal midway through the first round.
3) Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver — Elite athleticism. Could be a stronger Randy Moss in the right situation. Could be the next Kelley Washington in the wrong situation.
4) Alec Ogletree, inside linebacker — The off-the-field stuff is troubling, but he had more than 100 tackles to lead the team despite missing the first four games with a suspension. And, as TFP college football ace David Paschall shared with us in today's sport section, there was a ton of NFL talent on the field when Alabama and Georgia played in the SEC title game. Ogletree was as good that day as any one of them.
5) Manti Te'o, inside linebacker — The kid was a can't miss prospect until it became known that he was very popular with the girls in the Niagara Falls area. (Weird Science is arguably the most underrated 1980s comedy.) Will he be the player that dominated the regular season or the guy that looked slow and out of place against Alabama?
Top 5 quarterbacks (this one is self explanatory, but we don't think any of these cats should be first rounders, but here's saying at least three will be)
1) Ryan Nassib, Syracuse — Dude was awfully impressive in the Gruden sitdown. (Side note: The Gruden sitdown has become so good and so successful and so insightful in the predraft discourse, can we have a Gruden sitdown with presidential candidates? This needs to happen. There's no way we should really know more about Ryan Nassib or Geno Smith — and feel like we know them more, if that makes sense — than we should the men and/or women who are looking to lead the naton.)
2) EJ Manuel, Florida State — Gets a slight nod over Geno Smith because he directed multiple systems at FSU.
3) Geno Smith, West Virginia — Nice skill set, but can he adjust to going under center?
4) Matt Barkley, USC — Wow, kid likely cost himself at least one full round in the draft by coming back for his senior year. He would have been a top-10 pick last year, now he'll likely be there in the early part of round 2.
5) Tyler Bray, Tennessee — Yep, we've said from the start that ol' Back Tat has an NFL arm. Heck, Geno Smith is likely going top 10 — and that's amazing in and of itself — and we think Bray has a very real chance to be a better pro. Truly.
NFL draft contest
We're sprinting into the third annual the "Feeling the Draft" NFL draft contest.
Winner will get a Masters hat. Send in your entry, don't cost nothing. We are going to continue to reach out to other media-types in town to participate. The first champ of this event was SportTalk's Quake and last year Sir Jeffe won. Well-played indeed gents. And yes, we have won a couple of our own contests, but the fact that we are winless in "Feeling the Draft" leaves an empty place in our soul. We love the draft. You know this. We are expecting to acquire picks from the SportTalk trio Wells and Jim Gumm from ESPN 105.1. A slew of the TFP folks normally play along and TV guys are always welcomed, too.
As always, don't cost nothin' to play.
You're entries will have five parts. If there's a tie after the first round, please check back Friday because we'll have a second-round tie-breaker.
Here are the categories:
First player picked:
Titans' first pick:
Steelers' first pick:
Falcons' first pick:
SEC players drafted in round 1:
Here are the entries we have so far (and they go in order of first pick/Titans pick/Steelers pick/Falcons pick/SEC first rounders):
5-at-10 — Joeckel/Jonathan Cooper/Cordarrelle Patterson/Tank Carradine/12
Mrs. 5-at-10 — Joeckel/Warmack/Jarvis Jones/Eric Reid/ 13
McPell — Fisher/Dee Milliner/Cordarrelle Patterson/Xavier Rhodes/9
WarEagle — Joeckel/Warmack/Eifert/Kyle Long/14
ThatIDoKnow — Ansah/Mingo/Patterson/Jamar Taylor/15
TrueFan — Luke Joeckel/Tavon Austin/Jarvis Jones/Kevin Minter/11
OTWatcher — Joeckel/Warmack/Jones/Manti Te'o/12
Fred — Joeckel/Warmack/Lotulelei/DJ Swearinger/11
Dawg747 — Joeckel/Warmack/J. Jones/Z. Ertz/12
MrSpud — Joeckel/Warmack/Eifert/Hayden/9
RustyVol — Luke Joeckel/Jonathan Cooper/Justin Hunter/Desmond Trufant/12
Titanic — Joeckel/Lotulelei/Justin Hunter/Jamar Taylor/??
GratefulDawg — Joeckel/X. Rhodes/Cordarrelle Patterson/Zach Ertz/14
One Time — Fisher/Warmack/Eddie Lacy/Trufant/13
Jefe — Joeckel/Barkevious Mingo/Jones/Ertz/14
More to come
College football playoff
Yep, the folks who are running the college football playoff met and decided on a name and where and when the games will be.
The title game will be in early January 2015 in Dallas. (Hi, JMC.) The semifinals will be at the Sugar and Rose bowls on New Year's Day. That makes us smile. Good times.
As for the name of the revolutionary prospect of actually deciding a champion on the field, well, let's just say at least it's not "Leaders" and "Legends." And let's be honest, these folks are dealing with a lot of of stuff — "OK, well, uh…candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or a silverware pattern. OK, let’s get two! Go get ‘em." — so maybe they don't have time to be original.
Ready? They're calling the college football playoff the "College Football Playoff."
Yep, they came up with the upper-case letters and everything.
Hey, it's better than the BCS, which had one letter too many.
Of course this name will be the name forever. Right? There's no way they went super bland with hopes that Home Depot or Tostitos or some other power sponsor will be willing to assume naming rights, is there? And exchange those rights for a small fee, maybe?
Nope. No way college sports would be that money-hungry. Wait....
This and that
— Hey, between your morning Cup o' Joe and reading this, we think Justin Upton just hit another homer. He is on pace for for 88 or so homers. Seriously.
— Also, the Brothers Upton hit back-to-back homers in Game 2 of the Braves' doubleheader sweep of the Rockies on Tuesday. It was the first time since Paul and Lloyd Waner did it for the Pirates in 1938. You were at that Pirates' game weren't you, Spy?
— How good is LeBron James? Well, he played as bad as he has all season and he went 19-8-6 in the Heatles' Game 2 win over the Bucks.
Hey gang remember the mailbag on Friday.
We DVR-ed the 30-for-30 "Elway to Marino" last night. We have high hopes.
As friend of the show "sportsfan" posted on Tuesday's 5-at-10 late last night: "Jay - just finished watching 30 for 30. Elway to Marino. Loved it. Tom Selleck was an awesome narrator. Didn't realize the rumors about Marino before the draft. I wonder how serious Elway was about the Yankees and how successful he might have been in baseball if the Colts had not traded him. Marino was statistically a great QB, but as a GA Tech friend of mine used to say about Eric Zeier at UGA, "statistics are for losers."
We're excited on several levels.
Here are your questions from today:
Best 30-for-30 ESPN documentary so far?
Best quarterback in NFL history?
Best passer in NFL history? (And yes, there's a difference as Titans' play-by-play guy Mike Keith noted on an excellent interview with the SportTalk guys on Tuesday.)
Discuss. It's here' it's all happening.
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 ...