5 at 10: NFL draft, Spring football and the Braves

5 at 10: NFL draft, Spring football and the Braves

April 16th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, center, and fullback Geoff Meinken (10) celebrate after Luck scored a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. Stanford won 56-48 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, center, and fullback Geoff...

NFL draft

OK, let's go ahead and get this out of the way: We love the draft; you know this.

OK, now that we're done with the formalities, let's get to BID-ness. Last year we let the draft sneak up on us without proper previews.

Not this time. We'll start with position-by-position heading into next Thursday's first round. That gives us nine days for breakdowns and such.

Today's topic - quarterbacks:

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III make this a special class of quarterbacks, and those will be the first two names off the board. They also have more pressure than any two rookie quarterbacks in recent memory. Luck is only the guy the Colts cut Peyton Manning for, and Washington mortgaged its future by dealing three first-round picks for the chance to take RG III No. 2. Those are some pretty high stakes.

And the questions do not end there.

Somehow, a strange combination of buzz, potential and overall quarterback need has propelled Ryan Tannehill firmly into the top 10 of this year's draft. When the season ended, most avid college football fans had little idea where Tannehill played never mind that there would be teams looking to deal first-round picks to be his future home. Whatever, but we think Ryan Tannehill is more Ryan Leaf than Matt Ryan.

The early run on quarterbacks has moved Brandon Weeden into a possible late first-rounder. Do what? Weeden, the former Oklahoma State quarterback who you may be more familiar with using his nickname, Chris Wienke 2.0, is a 28-year-old former minor league baseball player who put up huge stats in a high-octane offense throwing to the best college wide receiver since Calvin Johnson. No thanks. Plus, unless you think Weeden is ready to play right now, why draft him. If he sits for a three years learning the system he'll be in his early 30s before he ever starts a game.

We love the two guys at the top, and think Luck and RGIII are stars waiting to shine. We'll pass on Tannehill and Weeden. There are a lot of familiar names but not a great deal of depth in this class this year. When the next tier of QBs is highlighted by "projects" Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley, it's hard to get overly jazzed. In fact after the first three - and we're not anti-Tannehill per se as much as we're anti-spending a mid-to-high first-rounder on Tannehill - it's really kind of a hodgepodge. Here's our top 10 QBs:

1) Andrew Luck, Stanford (a huge star in the making and his stint on Jon Gruden's QB show was every bit as good as expected and maybe better)

2) RG III, Baylor

3) Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

4) Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

5) Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

6) Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

7) B.J. Coleman, UTC

8) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin

9) Nick Foles, Arizona

10) Dominique Davis, East Carolina


Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches his team during spring NCAA college football practice, Thursday, March 29, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches his team during...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

College football

We're planning on writing a column on college football for Tuesday's TFP, so we may discuss this more come tomorrow.

That said, there were a slew of spring games this weekend and a few more are on tap for this Saturday, including the Vols' Orange-and-White game.

Here's a few of our observations:

Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier apparently has made big-time strides, and the rising-sophomore looked sharp in Saturday's A-Day game. That's huge news for Johnny Tigers/War Eagle Fans everywhere, since this Auburn team has a lot of quality pieces in a lot of places but a huge question mark at quarterback.

Alabama freshman-to-be T.J. Yelden jumpstarted monster expectations with a monster spring game. The early enrollee had close to 100 yards rushing and close to 100 more receiving. And yes, he should be getting ready for prom instead of torching one of the most talent-laden defenses in college football. Yes, the kid has a bright future.

Georgia concluded its spring with a nice showing from running back Isaiah Crowell among others. This is a season of high hopes for Johnny Bulldogs Fans - well as long as they can stay off the suspended list - and the fact that Aaron Murray is taking snaps gives the Bulldogs a chance against everyone.

UT's spring has been a mix of Da'Rick's Da'Drama, the promise of positives with Justin Hunter's return and a mixture of new coaches and new defensive schemes. That said, these Vols have a few legit NFL-bound players on the defensive side of the ball. A.J. Johnson is one of those guys. Brian Randolph is one of those guys. Darrington Sentimore could be one of those guys. UT just needs to find a few more.


Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, left, slides safely across home plate to score as Houston Astros catcher Chris Snyder (18) waits for the throw during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 10, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, left, slides safely across...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Braves trending in other direction

Well, that's a little more enjoyable, right?

Since Chipper Jones made his debut in Houston - and hit a homer - the Braves have won five in a row. Jones homered again Sunday, a three-run shot in his first home game of the season, and will turn 40 a week from Tuesday.

We all agreed on how much more comfortable Jason Heyward looks, and we all got to see Saturday night how much of a weapon Craig Kimbrel can be. (Recap: Bases loaded with one out, Braves up a run and Kimbrel mixes 97 mph heaters with sliders that bend like frisbees and finishes the game with back-to-back strikeouts.) Want a stat that is kind of eye-popping right now and could really grow: Heyward is .091 in Braves' losses and is hitting .444 in Braves' wins.

That said, here's what we take away from the three-game sweep of Milwaukee this weekend: Friday night the Braves built a five-run lead, gave it back in a rare bad outing from Eric O'Flaherty and still rallied for a 10-8 win with two runs in the eighth. Hey, it's impossibly early and it's April and all of that, but some games mean more than others.

Remember a couple of years ago when Brooks Conrad's grand slam capped an improbable rally and how that game felt like something special. We had that feeling Friday night.


This and that

- Greg Biffle is putting on a show. He went to Texas with the points lead and came out with his first win of the season. Biffle is threatening to run away with this thing - he has a 19 point lead over Matt Kenseth and Dale Jr. (Side note: The headline "Fear the Biff" is scary on a lot of fronts, including the memory of Biff Tanner from "Back to the Future." Biff Tanner was a quality 1980s villain. That is all.)

- By now he may have already addressed this, but Kevin Youkilis had his heart questioned by Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Yes, that Kevin Youkilis, who has played through pain, been a mainstay in the quagmire that is the Red Sox clubhouse in recent years and is coming off injury. And yes, it's that Bobby Valentine, who has been part manager/part circus act at every stop (how could we forget the time he got ejected and sneaked back into the dugout with fake glasses and mustache) and is all of 10 days into his Red Sox managerial career. Wow, think this is going to be a long season in Boston or what?

- How about those Preds? We thought losing home ice on Friday was going to be tough to overcome, but your Nashville Predators needed less than 48 hours to snatch it back from perennial playoff hurdle Detroit. The Preds have a few guys who skating their blades off right now - and most of them have far too many consonants in their names - but goalie Pekka Rinne is light's out right now. If we all agree that quarterback is the most important position in sports, goalie in hockey is in the conversation for second-most important. Plus, a hot keeper can carry a hockey club a long way in the postseason.


Today's question(s)

As always, it's an Open Mic Monday, but here's something to get you started.

Former Florida Gators star and NBA first-rounder Dwayne Schintzius died Sunday from complications from leukemia. He was 43, and that's much too early to die.

Reading about him, the 5-at-10 did not realize that he had a nine-year NBA career, he is the only man with more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocks in SEC history and he scored 1,624 points to rank fifth in Florida history.

We do remember his trademark hairdo. Well. In fact, in honor of Schintzius, who also had a prominent role in the basketball movie "Eddie," we'll ask two questions.

First, which athlete had the most distinctive hairdo? Schintzius' mullet has to be top three right? It had a special name - the Lobster mullet - and it was a major player in an SI feature. In fact here's our top three in no specific order: Schintzius' Lobster mullet, Oscar Gamble's amazing Afro (that thing was so big it made you wonder how he got a batting helmet on) and Troy Polamalu's thing (dude has it insured for $1 million - seriously).

Second, which athlete had the best sports-related cameo in a movie? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in "Airplane" and former big league pitcher Pete Vuckovich as Clu Haywood in "Major League" (this could be the winner since Vuckovich won the 1982 Cy Young and we all know that Haywood won the triple crown and led the league in most offensive cateogries, including nose hair) are the clear front-runners. From there Schintzius is in a big pack that includes a lot of acting former athletes.

Whatcha' got?