From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Draft part I
Draft Week is here. We're pretty pumped. 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
• First Titans pick (No. 20 overall)
• First Steelers pick (No. 24 overall)
• First Falcons pick (23rd pick of the second round)
• Where does B.J. Coleman end up?
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.)
Second piece of housecleaning involves our SEC ace David Paschall's highly interesting draft story about former Vols Janzen Jackson and Bryce Brown . Amid all the coaching turnovers and emotional unrest of the last three years of UT football, here may be the most telling fact of all: There likely will be more former UT players (left for transfers) drafted than former UT players (left for expired eligibility). There will almost assuredly be three transfered former Vols - B.J. Coleman, Lennon Creer and Jackson - compared to two Vols - Tauren Poole and Malik Jackson - who played in Knoxville last year.
Draft position breakdown: Defensive line
The foremost desire of every NFL defensive coordinator is getting to the quarterback. Coaches talk about stopping the run because that's what they're trained to do. But in today's NFL in particular and becoming football in general, if you can't get to the quarterback, you can't get off the field. Period.
And if a defense can get to the quarterback using its four-man defensive front, that makes defensive coordinators happier than not being Gregg Williams.
That starts up front with the defensive line, where pass-rushing defensive ends and double-team-demanding defensive tackles have become as coveted as early issues of Apple stock.
This year is no exception and to further prove that point, UNC defensive end Quinton Coples is arguably the biggest question mark in the first round. Coples is built like an elite pass rusher - a shade under 6-foot-6, 284 pounds and with enough speed to turn the corner against almost any tackle. But, Coples' effort and intensity and work ethic has come under question.
If the 5-at-10 was a GM, we'd have a hard time spending a first rounder on someone with questions about effort. But the ability to get to the quarterback is so important, it can overshadow a lack of willingness to do it consistently.
Defensive line top 10
1) DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
2) DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
3) DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
4) DE Quinton Coples, UNC
5) DT Michael Brockers, LSU
6) DE Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
7) DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse
8) DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
9) DE Andre Branch, Clemson
10) DE Nick Perry, USC
That's a wrap in Knoxville
OK, let's call it a spring. The Vols closed spring drills Saturday with an Orange-and-White game that revealed more than normal but still left a few question marks in between.
Here's what the 5-at-10 believes we know as of this morning.
- Sophomore safety Brian Randolph will be a stud duck. And it's a good thing, too,. because...
- The secondary has a lot of question marks.
- Marlin Lane finished strong and will get the first crack at the tailback job come August. This is a good development.
- Da'Rick Rogers remains arguably the single biggest unknown in the SEC. Dude could be a first-team All-American next fall; dude could transfer before Memorial Day. Who knows?
- Tyler Bray looks better poised, but as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer asked this weekend, is a better Bray enough for a UT team that needs him to be better than better. (We promise that made sense when we started.)
- The kicking game is in shambles.
Let the dissecting begin. When does football season start?
This and that
- Wow, we blink our eyes and do a little spring yard work and your Atlanta Braves turned into a slow-pitch softball team. Everyone is hitting the ball hard and it seems like every RBI chance is getting cashed. Other than a couple of sketchy moments for the umpiring crew Sunday, the Braves would be the hottest team in the majors. We're planning on having a daily update on Atlanta's west cost swing into L.A. this week against the red-hot Dodgers since those games are going to be super-late. But that's why we're here. We work the late shift. And the early shift.
- Denny Hamlin used some late-race good fortune to pass Martin Truex Jr. and win at the Kansas Speedway. And yes, that's two Toyota cars up front. And yes, this is Hamlin's second win for this year. Interesting, huh?
- How does a guy named Metta World Peace throw the most violent elbow in the NBA this year? Ah, here's saying the marketing phrase "NBA basketball... Where accidental assault happens" will not make the final cut for the playoffs. Peace, the thug formerly known as Ron Artest, landed a power elbow into James Harden's head Sunday, overshadowing what was an entertaining double-overtime Lakers' win over Harden and the Thunder. First point, the NBA playoffs are going to be fun and here's saying the Thunder and the Lakers will be highly entertaining in the postseason. Second point, Peace, who rightly was ejected and faces suspension, said the elbow was accidental after an emotional dunk late in the second quarter. It could have been part of an over-the-top emotional celebration, but it was still worthy of a suspension. Third point, the strike-shortened season has made rest and injury a MONSTER factor this season.
- From the scratch your head file: Apparently Penn State is in the process of paying the Paterno estate more than $5 million and offered to rename the stadium after former coach Joe Paterno in hopes that the Paterno family will not sue the school. Say what? You know the back story - Joe Pa crafts a legendary program, it's torn down amid the cover up of Jerry Sandusky's evilness, etc. - and who knows what the future story will hold? Wow.
It was kind of a crazy weekend, right? We mean, things escalated in a hurry, and Brick killed a guy.
Somewhere in the greater Northeast, Spy's new all-time favorite fellow Bobby Valentine was enduring a less than enjoyable Friday-Saturday blend. After he questioned the heart of one of the team's most popular players and was called out by the team's best regular, Bobby V has become the face of the angst of Red Sox fans everywhere. To make matters worse, the Sox lost a pair to the hated New York Yankees this weekend, including a historic 15-9 loss after building a 9-0 lead Saturday as the organization celebrated 100 years of Fenway Park.
Today's question is as either/or...
Who is in a worse spot than Bobby V. right now? We'd say, Bobby is in a little bit better spot than Sgt. Pembry, the Memphis police officer who brought Dr. Lector his lamb chops, but Bobby's week is just getting started.
Or, what is your Mount Rushmore of current sports venues? They destroyed the old Yankee Stadium and the Boston Garden. Here's our four - Augusta National, Fenway, Wrigley and Lambeau Field. It was tough leaving out Notre Dame's football stadium, Madison Square Garden and Cameron Indoor Stadium, but so it goes.